Sunday, May 19, 2019

The ‘Dark Day’ 19 May 1780

Knowing what my ancestors experienced in their daily lives is very important to me in helping understand and tell the story beyond the dates of their life events. I always want to know more about their daily lives.

I recently came across the following article at the Suffolk County Historical Society in a collection entitled ‘The Salmon Record Scrap Book’. This collection was compiled and presented by N. Hubbard Cleveland on 12 September 1921 to the Suffolk County Historical Society. Here is a record of a major event that my ancestors living on Long Island, New Jersey, and New England experienced. I had to stop and wonder what it must have felt like 239 years ago today for my 4x great grandparents James and Anna Edwards Warner as the ‘Dark Day’ happened? Were they afraid?

from the N.Y. Herald;
“Anniversary of the “Dark Day.”
One hundred years ago to-day, May 19, 1780, was one of the most famous of dates in the legendary tales of our grandfathers. It was the “Dark Day,” when, according to the chronicles, candles had to be lighted at midday, the birds were silent or disappeared, and the domestic fowls retired to roost. This darkness prevailed over the whole of New England and the Middle States, and its memory is even now preserved by the Indians of the Six Nations, who use it as a time mark for estimating the ages of children born about that period. Many were the bits of doggerel [verse or words that are badly written or expressed] verse which were current a few years ago about this phenomenon, and wonderfully varied were the experiences which the spectators transmitted to their posterity. Barber, Webster, and Mursell have referred to the circumstance in their historical compilations; but the most interesting anecdote is that referring to the attitude of the Connecticut Council, then in session at Hartford, and discussing an interesting bill about the shad fishery. As the darkness became more intense, suggesting to many the arrival of the day of judgment, the legislature on motion adjourned; but Colonel Abraham Davenport of Stamford, opposed a similar motion in the Council, saying, “I am against adjournment. The day of judgment is approaching or it is not. If it is not there is no cause for adjournment ; if it is, I wish to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought.” The lovers of poetry may find a beautiful version of this incident in Whittier’s “Tent on the beach.” Other dark days cited in more recent annals especially October 21, 1816, but none ever attained such celebrity as that of which the centenary occurs to-day, and of whose cause no satisfactory explanation has ever been offered.”

Immediately, I thought there must have been an eclipse but was that what happened? What was the explanation for this event? What did they believe was happening? Did they believe daylight would return? This seemed to be such a major event in the lives of so many of my ancestors that 100 years later people were still recalling this event in the newspapers. I had to do my own research to see if this could be explained.

Our ancestors, at this time, lived along the coasts of America and there was still a vast unknown world to the west of them. Many had very strong religious beliefs. There was no TV or radio to report the event. No telephones to call and ask about what was happening. How frightening this must have been!

From my research through a variety of sources I learned:
  • There are many theories still today as to what actually happened.
  • Records were kept of Solar eclipses and they generally only last a few minutes. There is no record of this being an eclipse.
  • There are no records of any volcanic activity creating an ash cloud or of a meteorite crashing.
  • The most prevalent theory seems to be that there was a combination of smoke from forest fires, a thick fog and cloud cover.

I came across the following personal accounts of this event in my research:

Revolutionary War soldier Joseph Plumb Martin noted:
“We were here [New Jersey] at the time the "dark day" happened, it has been said that the darkness was not so great in New-Jersey as in New-England. How great it was there I do not know, but I know that it was very dark where I then was in New-Jersey; so much so that the fowls went to their roosts, the cocks crew and the whip-poor-wills sung their usual serenade; the people had to light candles in their houses to enable them to see to carry on their usual business; the night was as uncommonly dark as the day was.

Wikipedia has the following reports:
“The earliest report of the darkness came from Rupert, New York where the sun was already obscured at sunrise. Professor Samuel Williams observed from Cambridge, Massachusetts, "This extraordinary darkness came on between the hours of 10 and 11 a.m. and continued till the middle of the next night.” Reverend Ebenezer Parkham of Westborough, Massachusetts reported peak obscurity to occur "by 12", but did not record the time when it first arrived. At Harvard College, the obscuration was reported to arrive at 10:30 a.m., peaking at 12:45 p.m. and abating by 1:10 p.m., but a heavy overcast remained for the rest of the day. The obscuration was reported to have reached Barnstable, Massachusetts by 2:00 p.m., with peak obscurity reported to have occurred at 5:30 p.m.
Roosters crowed, woodcocks whistled, and frogs peeped as if night had fallen at 2:00 p.m. in Ipswich, Massachusetts. A witness reported that a strong sooty smell prevailed in the atmosphere, and that rain water had a light film over it that was made up of particles of burnt leaves and ash. Contemporaneous reports also indicated that ash and cinders fell on parts of New Hampshire to a depth of six inches.”

What I would give to be able to ask James or Anna for their accounts of what happened. How did this dramatic event shape their lives? I guess I will never know the impact of this event but I now know that this event occurred and they witnessed it.

***Thank-you to Paul Elliott for realizing I incorrectly wrote 1790 instead of 1780 when I posted this and letting me know.

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Tombstone Tuesday A Cautionary Tale, The Partially Incorrect Warner Story

Information found on a tombstone should always be considered a gift and not fact until you prove or disprove it.  Growing up I knew of this tombstone and the story it told.  As a young girl I remember there was some concern that perhaps the story wasn’t quite right but that was all I knew.

On the side of the tombstone:

Transcription:  William Warner immigrated from England in 1637.  He had 2 sons and 1 daughter.  John, Daniel. and Abigail.  Daniel had a son in 1642 who was the father of Nathaniel Warner, who was born Oct. 1690.  Daniel son of Nathaniel was born April 30, 1731.  James son of Daniel was born April 26, 1762.  Daniel son of James was born Sept. 18, 1784.  Daniel son of Daniel was born June 9, 1818.

On the front of the tombstone:

Baiting Hollow Cemetery
Riverhead, New York

                                                   Daniel Warner                         Eleanor Howell, His Wife
                                                           Born June 9, 1818                   Born May 15, 1825           
                                                           Died June 15, 1895                 Died March 7, 1895

On the sides:

Their Children

Allen M.                                     Frances M.                                   Josephine A.                              Martha R.
b-Oct. 6, 1842                            b-July 11, 1844                             b-May 27, 1846                         b-March 3, 1848
d-Aug. 27, 1927                         d-                                                  d-Oct. 17, 1848                          d-

Franklin E.
b-Jan. 5, 1868
d-May 3, 1908  

Eunice                                       Mary A.                                         Julia                                          
b-Feb. 15, 1850                        b-Dec.   , 1851                               b-Dec. 14, 1853                       
d-                                              d-                                                   d-May 10, 1871     


Charles H.                               Eleanor F.                                      John B.                                      Eugene G.
b-May 17, 1858                       b-July 20, 1860                              b-Aug 12, 1862                         b-Nov. 27, 1864
d-                                            d-Aug. 8, 1892                                d-Jun. 20, 1920                        d-
   Waldo D.    
    b-Feb. 11, 1856

(see post The Joy and Blessings of Meeting Cousins to see pictures of several of the 13 children as adults)
I have a copy of a Memoranda page from a Warner Bible that lists this same story.  I am guessing this is what was used for the tombstone.  There is no date as to when this was recorded and I do not know who in the family currently has the Bible.  Where did the story first come from?  I remember as a young 13 or 14 year old being determined to solve this mystery.  I looked at the local library and while able to find William Warner I was not able to match up dates of the Warner’s from Long Island with the dates I found for William Warner’s line.  I was sure I was on to something when I found a listing for an Andrew Warner with a son Daniel and grandson Nathaniel but was never really able to pursue it at that time.  Later, I learned the story listed on the tombstone was indeed incorrect.

The Warner line on Long Island, of which I am a direct descendant, did indeed start with Nathaniel, born 1690.  He was the father of Daniel, born 1731, who was the father of James, born 1762.  James’ son Daniel was born 1784.  Daniel had a son Daniel, born 1818 who married Eleanor (parents of the 13 children listed above).  Nathaniel, who came to Long Island was the son of a Daniel Warner.  This is perhaps where the problem came.  This Daniel, born 1632 or 3, was the son of Andrew Warner and not William Warner.  Andrew came to America about 1630 from England.  Names that frequently repeat in the family, like ‘Daniel’ can create problems if you do not carefully review other vital record information.  (click on highlighted names to read additional stories)

I recently came across a document written by Justine Warner Wells, granddaughter of Eugene Warner, listed above.  Justine was the family historian for many many years.  This document, Justine stated, was a Historical Sketch of the Nathaniel Warner Family, Given at the Annual Warner Reunion on July 17, 1976 at Wildwood Park.  In this document Justine tells of having a letter sent to Eugene Warner in 1926 from a J. A. Warner of Brooklyn.  J. A. Warner stated that he was a direct ancestor of William Warner and his son Daniel.  J. A.  had done research on that line for over 20 years and did not feel that ‘our’ Nathaniel was a descendant of William Warner.  Justine also states that Elaine Warner Tuthill, granddaughter of John B. Warner, listed above, found a letter written to her father Hollis Warner by Alice Hammond Warner (Eugene’s wife) that acknowledged her concern that if the information inscribed on the stone was incorrect it should be removed from the stone.  The inscription was never removed but time and the elements make it hard to read now.  

Caution: Remember to use the information on tombstones as a starting point to research and do not assume they are facts until thoroughly researched.

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Kristi Sexton Speaks at the San Diego Genealogical Society

Professional genealogist, Kristi Sexton, was the guest speaker at the San Diego Genealogical Society yesterday. I found Kristi to be a very engaging and informative presenter.

The first of Kristi’s two presentations was entitled Digging for Dirt in the Cemeteries.
  • Kristi named and described some of the many different types of cemeteries we may come across in our research; e.g. Church, Public, Veterans, Memorial, Private, etc.
  • Kristi pointed out the variety of information that we can find on headstones; e.g. dates, religious affiliations, military service, spouses, children, Fraternal organization affiliation, etc. which are all great leads to other records we may not have known about previously.
  • Kristi reminded us that when we are at cemeteries we need to be concerned about the preservation of headstones. She recommended we carry a ‘kit’ with us to carefully clean stones to help preserve them and make taking photos more rewarding so we can see the inscriptions. Her ‘kit’ included a variety of soft brushes, rags and cleaning solution, clippers for the grass that might be in the way and gloves for our hands. She said she also keeps a red, blue and American flag with her which she uses when she knows someone is buried in a particular spot but there is no headstone to mark the spot. Then her flags (blue-male, red-female, American-military service) help denote the spot in her pictures. I will definitely be carrying a ‘kit’ in the future and using the flags. I have taken pictures of stones marked by moss or dirt and the stones are difficult to read. If I had a ‘kit’ with me the photos would be a better quality. I have come across several ancestors whose grave sites are not marked in any way and having a small flag will help mark the spot where they are buried as I document the site with a photo.
  • Kristi demonstrated the Find A Grave website and accompanying app for your personal devices. Looking for an ancestor and recording the FindAGrave Memorial ID# helps us remember where the Memorial is. Verified information can and should be added to Memorials to help tell our ancestors’ life story. We also have the ability to connect family members and add information such as obituaries, etc.
While I have used FindAGrave often there are several features I had not previously used that Kristi talked about, so, I decided to try one of them out. Setting up your own personal ‘Virtual Cemetery’ can be done. I decided to look at my “Warner” ancestral line knowing there were several generations in the same Church Cemetery. I also like the fact that I can list everyone connected with this line, including those buried in other cemeteries and I will have the option, once set up, to sort my cemetery in a variety of ways to help my research.

(click on image to enlarge)

Kristi’s second presentation was entitled: Hunting Your Heritage in the Unknown Branches. Her theme for this presentation was Begin-Research-DOCUMENT-and Source!
  • First, determine where you are with those missing or undocumented ancestors. Who is next to work on?
  • Review the information you already have. Try developing a timeline, a map or a spreadsheet to look at the information in a new way.
  • Re-evaluate the information and documents you previously gathered. This is crucial because we don’t always ‘see’ all the information the first time we look at documents. Transcribing documents generally alerts us to information we may have missed or glossed over the first time around.
  • In addition to typical informational documents (census, probate, vital and court records) look for family items, letters, pictures, journals, audio or video information and Family Lore for additional leads that may help you locate some new information.
I will use FindAGrave more often in the future to keep track of where a particular family line is buried to help see the patterns of movement over the years. While I have added several Memorials with headstone pictures I will add more undocumented headstones as I continue to visit cemeteries. There is a small little known private cemetery my parents showed me on a recent visit that I doubt has been listed on FindAGrave. I will work on the documentation for this to help other researchers and possibly find a connection to one of my ancestral lines.

Be sure to check out Kristi’s website One Leaf and her bio at She can be contacted through her website or at .

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Life of Mary “Marie” Jeannette Hammond Hinken

Mary Jeannette is my maternal Great Aunt.  I decided to see what I could find out about her life for my newly discovered cousin Bridgett.  Bridgett actually found me because of a Blog post I did on our common ancestors Henry and Susan Bentz Hammond.  Bridgett is Mary Jeannette’s  great-great-granddaughter.  Mary Jeannette was my maternal grandfather, James Jacob Hammond’s oldest sister.

Here is what I was able to find out:

Mary Jeannette was born 11 June 1898 in Remsen, Plymouth County, Iowa.  Her parents were Henry and Susan “Suza” Bentz Hammond.  Mary Jeannette was the oldest of 6 children (Mary Jennette, Arthur, Margaret, James “Jake”, Michael and Joseph).

In the 1900 US Federal Census I am unable to locate Henry, Susan and Mary.

In the 1905 Iowa State Census Mary is listed as living in Remsen, Plymouth, Iowa with her parents Susie & Henry Hamman and siblings John, Maggie, Jacob and Michael. 

Thursday, March 28th, 1907 in The Remsen News:  “Mrs. Henry Hamman and daughter Mary are visiting with relatives in Alton this week.”

Mary’s mother Susan tragically died of cancer in May 1908 when Mary was a month short of her 10th birthday.  Her father Henry’s mother, Kate Hein Hamman, would die within a month of her mother and 10 days after her own birthday.  What a tough time for a little girl! 

3 June 1909 The Remsen News reported : “Henry Hamman took five of his children to Dubuque, Iowa Tuesday, where they will be placed in a home for orphans.  It is earnestly hoped that they will find a good, kind home.”

In the 1910 US Federal Census I find Mary with siblings Jacob, Arthur, Michael, and Joseph on the other side of the state in Dubuque, Iowa in St. Francis RC Orphanage.  I wonder where Maggie was living?  With family, perhaps?  St. Francis is unable to locate any records from this time to say how long the children where there.  I guess their father was unable to care for 6 children under the age of 11 following the death of his wife.  I know the tragedy in this family must have greatly affected the children.

16 May 1912 The Remsen Bell-Enterprise reported: “Henry Hamman and F. Bausch went to Sioux City Friday evening.  Henry went especially to visit his five children at St. Anthony’s Home.  The children have been there for the past year, and are all flourishing splendidly under excellent care.”  I wonder why the children were moved from Dubuque to Sioux City?  Was it so they could be closer to their father?

In the 1915 Iowa State Census Mary is 16 years old and living in Remsen, Plymouth, Iowa.  She is listed as a housekeeper by occupation and has been employed each month in 1914.  She is listed as not attending school and with a church affiliation of Catholic.

2 April 1918  Mary, age 20 years old, married Benjamin Hinken, age 32, in LeMars, Plymouth, Iowa.   They would have 8 children: Dorothy, Anna, Edward, Marian, Bonnie, Ben Jr., Richard, and Larry.

In the 1920 US Federal Census enumerated on the 30th of January in Remsen, Iowa Mary is listed as a 21 year old housewife with her husband Ben, age 34, and baby daughter Dorothy who was 18 months old.  The family was living in a separate house.

In the 1925 Iowa State Census Mary, Ben and children Dorothy, Ann, Edward and Marian are listed as living in Remsen, Plymouth, Iowa.  What is interesting is that Mary’s youngest brother Joseph, age 17 and attending school,  is also living with them.

In the 1930 US Federal Census enumerated on 3rd of April, Mary is listed as 29 years old, no occupation, with her husband Ben  (age 44) and children Dorothy, Anna, Edward and Marian living on Jackson Street in Remsen, Iowa.   In this census it states that Mary was 19 when she married and Ben was 33 years old.  They rented a home valued at $25.00.

In the 1940 US Federal Census enumerated on 13th of April, Mary is listed as 39 years old, with her husband Ben (age 54) and children Edward, Marian, Bonnie, Ben Jr, Richard and Larry living on Second St SE in Le Mars, Plymouth, Iowa.  Mary’s highest grade completed is listed as 8th grade.

Mary’s husband Ben would die on 12 October 1950 after 32 years of marriage.

Mary would die 19 August 1979 in Le Mars, Plymouth, Iowa.

These are the facts of Mary’s life. I have no pictures and wonder what she was like as a woman, a mother, a wife, a daughter, and a friend?  Did she resemble my grandfather?  What stories did she have to tell about her parents Henry and Susan?  I wish I knew so much more…

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Tombstone Tuesday Jemima Aldrich Benjamin

Jemima Aldrich Benjamin is my paternal 5x great-grandmother
Jemima is buried next to her husband Nathan Benjamin II at the Baiting Hollow Cemetery, Suffolk County, New York

Memory of
Jemima Relict of
Nathan Benjamin
who died Jan. 11, 1810
in the 75 year
of her age
Behold, all you that do pass by,
As you are now so once was I,
As I am now, so you must be,
Prepare for death and follow me.

Click on titles of previous posts to read more:  Jemima Aldrich Benjamin and Amanuensis Monday the Will of Jemima Aldrich Benjamin

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Monday, April 1, 2019

Amanuensis Monday the Will of Jemima Aldrich Benjamin

In my previous blog post Jemima Aldrich Benjamin I told the story, as I know it, of Jemima’s life.  Her Will tells a little more of her story.  Jemima’s husband Nathan Benjamin II passed away 5 years prior to Jemima’s death.  (To learn more about Nathan see blog posts Nathan Benjamin II and  Amanuensis Monday the Will of Nathan Benjamin.)

(click on images to enlarge)

This third day of October in the year of Lord one thousand eight hundred and eight I Jemima Benjamin being in a poor State of health but of sound mind and memory calling to mind the mortality of my body and since it has pleased God to favor me with earthy goods I do hereby make and appoint this to be my last will and testament in manner and form as follows

Namely I give unto my daughter Deborah Edwards one half of my wearing Cloaths that are made into garments and one Cow I give unto my daughter Jemima Benjamin my high riding Chair the remainder of my Cows also hogs and all the provisions in the house
I also give unto said daughter Jemima all my money and all my obligations for money also all my household furniture and bedding of every descriptions with Cloath unmade into garments and one Half of my wearing Cloaths also the furniture of my riding chairs my will is that my said daughter Jemima shall pay my funeral Charges and get my tomb stone

furthermore I the said Jemima Benjamin widow of Nathan Benjamin of the town of Riverhead in the County of Suffolk and the State of New York do hereby appoint my said daughter Jemima Benjamin my sole Executrix of this my Last will and Testament and do hereby revoke all other wills & Testaments.
Jemima Benjamin mark L.S.
To which I set my hand and seal
Signed Sealed published & declared to be the last will & testament of Jemima Benjamin In the presents of us William Horton, Jonathon Horton, John Horton
Suffolk County: Be it remembered that on the twenty eighth day of March in the year one thousand eight hundred and ten personally appeared before Nicoll Floyd Surrogate of the said County William Horton of Southold in the County aforesaid who says on oath that he saw Jemima Benjamin Sign and Seal the within Instrument of writing and heard her publish and declare the same as and for her last will and Testament that at the time thereof the said Jemima Benjamin was of sound disposing mind and memory to the best of the knowledge and belief of him the despondent that his name Subscribed as a witness to the said will is of his own proper hand writing and that he saw Jonathon Horton and John Horton Subscribe their names as witnesses thereto at the same time with him in presence of the Testator
Nicoll Floyd

Will Liber C pages 74-75      Suffolk County Probate, Riverhead, Suffolk County, NY      

Notes:  I wonder if Jemima was unable to sign her name due to her 'poor state of health'  since she used a mark? 
Jemima only mentions her daughters in her Will.  Her third daughter Mary ‘Bethia’ Benjamin Sweezey had passed away before her and is not mentioned, nor are her children.

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Jemima Aldrich Benjamin

My paternal 5th great-grandmother was Jemima Aldrich Benjamin.

 Jemima was born in Mattituck, Suffolk County, New York about 1735
  • This area of eastern Long Island was known by the Indians as  “Marratooka”  then “Marrituck” and later changed by the settlers to Mattituck.  Mattituck was believed to be derived from the words “matta” no and “–tuck, –tugk” tree.
Jemima’s parents were Jacob Aldrich and Bethiah (Evans ?).  Jemima, I believe, was the youngest of 7 children.

Jemima ‘Aldridge’ would marry Nathan Benjamin, Jr. from Baiting Hollow, New York 13 February 1755 at the Mattituck Presbyterian Church. Jemima and Nathan would live in Baiting Hollow, New York about 10 miles from where she was born and raised. 

(click on image to enlarge)

What a time to be raising a family as the Revolutionary War is happening!
  • From Craven’s book The History of Mattituck, “But it is a matter of well-known history that all the people of Long Island were sorely pressed in those terrible years [Revolutionary War].”  British troops were encamped in Mattituck and officers were quartered in the houses of local residents while farmers crops were taken to feed the troops.  Many young men left to fight for freedom, some of the residents of the area left for other places,  but most residents stayed and let necessity shape their course of action. 
  • I wonder if they were a little ‘out of the way’ in Baiting Hollow?  How much were they affected on a daily basis by the British troops being in the area?

Jemima’s own husband Nathan would be one of the men who served during the Revolution.  What was that like for her while he was gone?  She had a farm to run and five children in 1775.

  • In March 1792 when Riverhead town was organized as a separate town from Southold, Baiting Hollow was considered a scattered settlement with two churches.

Jemima would give birth over the course of about 24 years to seven children:  Deborah, Nathan (my 4x great-grandfather), Mary ‘Bethia’, Phineas, Jacob, Rachel and Jemima.  Jemima’s last child was born when she was about 44 years old.

Jemima and Nathan would be married for 30 years when Nathan died in 1805

Jemima would live another 5 years and die 11 January 1810.  Nathan and Jemima are buried together in the Baiting Hollow Cemetery, Suffolk County, New York.

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Monday, March 25, 2019

Eleanor Jacobs Coolbaugh

Eleanor Jacobs Coolbaugh

243 years ago today my maternal 5x great-grandmother, Eleanor, was born in Hanover, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. During the time of Eleanor’s birth in 1776 this area of Pennsylvania was part of the Connecticut Colony and a year into the American Revolutionary War.  George Washington had just been appointed to command the Continental Army by Congress in the same month as Eleanor’s birth.  What a time of turmoil to be born!

Her parents were John and Elisabeth Pensel Jacobs*.   Eleanor was the fourth of seven children: William, John Jr., Charity, Eleanor, Elizabeth, Benjamin, and Samuel.
  • When Eleanor was just 2 years old the Battle of Wyoming happened in the area.  Also known as the Wyoming Massacre, the battle along the Susquehanna river between the British Loyalists (with the Seneca Indians) and the Patriots was a defeat for the Patriots with over 220 killed.  Settlers claimed the Iroquois hunted, tortured and killed fleeing Patriots.
  • Pennsylvania became a state 12 December 1787.
Eleanor married Peter Coolbaugh and they would have 8 children; Benjamin (my 4x great grandfather), William, Aaron, Susannah, Lovina, Mary, Eli and Sarah.
By the time of Benjamin’s birth in 1797 Eleanor and Peter were living in Wysox,
In 1818 Eleanor was living with her family in Lockville, Luzerne County,Lockville, PA PA. 
  • Wyoming County was created in 1842 from part of Luzerne County.
Eleanor would live to the age of 79 dying on 25 August 1855 in Lockville, Wyoming County, Pennsylvania.  Less than 20 miles from where she was born.
  • Eleanor would outlive her husband Peter by 15 years and her children Benjamin and Lovina.
Happy Birthday, Eleanor!

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

*Special thanks to my newly found cousin John, a descendant of one of Eleanor’s brothers.  He was able to give me information on Eleanor’s parents.  Thank-you John!!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Who Were Biddy, Patrick and Michael Meenan

When my paternal 3x great-grandmother Ann Meenan Rowan (see posts A Lot More Questions than Answers-the Life of Ann Rowan and Success!!  Emigrant Savings Bank-Ann Meenan Rowan) immigrated from County Monaghan, Ireland in August 1837 she arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Ann was listed as a Spinster, 25 years of age (1812) but there were 2 children named Meenan that appeared to have been traveling with her.  Biddy Meenan was listed as 2 years old (1835) and Patrick was listed as 4 years old (1833).  Several lines below them I found a Michael Meenan age 20 (1817) who was listed as a Weaver by occupation. 

I wondered if perhaps Ann and Michael were siblings?  Were the two small children another brother’s children?
  • I know ‘Biddy’ may have been the nickname for Bridget.
Here’s what I have been able to find:
  • Patrick Meenan with a birth year of 1833 Ireland dying in Flint, Michigan in 1893, ironically with a mother Ann Meenan and father Francis Meenan.
  • Patrick Meenan living in Philadelphia in 1870 with a birth about 1833 Ireland.   He was living with his wife Ann and children Michael, A. Rose, Mary and Emma. 
  • Patrick Meenan serving in the Civil War enlisting in Philadelphia February 1864.
  • Patrick Meenan death notice in Philadelphia on 6 May 1897
My guess is that the Patrick that lived in Philadelphia may be the Patrick that was on the ship’s manifest with Ann but there is no confirmation of this.  If I obtain the Civil War record for the Patrick who served from Philadelphia, perhaps I would find a connection.
  • Bridget Meenan listed in the Philadelphia City Directory in 1890, 1893
  • Bridget Meenan dying at the age of 34 in August 1897
Is this the Bridget I am looking for or did she die shortly after arriving in America?  I am unable to find Biddy and Patrick on a census record together after arriving.  Perhaps they were cousins and not siblings?
There are many ‘Michael Meenan’ that could possibly be the one who was on the ship manifest with Ann and the children but no definitive connection to Ann, Biddy or Patrick.

Was ‘Meenan’ Ann’s married name?  Was she really a ‘widow’ and came with Biddy and Patrick, her children?  There is no reference to them being with Ann after she married William Rowan in the 1840s.  Were these children even ‘Meenan’ children or someone else’s children that Ann brought to America for them?  I still have no idea if these 4 people are related.  I believe they are but I have been unable to prove it…so far.  I believe the children came over with Ann and she probably delivered them to one of her brothers but who they were and where they were, I don’t know yet. 

Sometimes the search just doesn’t resolve anything but leave you with even more questions.  Perhaps one day I will find the answers to my many questions and know who Biddy, Patrick and Michael are.

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Lives Our German Ancestors Lived

Have you ever wondered about the lives your ancestors lived? The day to day lives they had? Vital records tell a piece of the story but it doesn’t tell me what they did on a daily basis or what might have led them to the decision to leave their country of birth and travel thousands of miles to start a new life in a new country with a new language.

Saturday, at the monthly meeting of the San Diego Genealogical Society, there was a very interesting guest presenter that helped me learn more about what life may have been like for my paternal 3x great-grandfather Theodore King in Germany.

Ingeborg Carpenter is German born and immigrated to the United States in 1972. Ingeborg is an expert in reading the old German script, and is a translator of German and English. She teaches the reading and writing of the old handwriting, and German history for genealogists.

Ingeborg was a very engaging and interesting speaker with many visuals to help us understand the lives our German ancestors led. I took note after note and could have listened to her for hours. I just wanted more and more information. I wanted to share some of the many things I learned during her 2 presentations.

Ingeborg’s first presentation was entitled: You Know Where and You Know When, I’ll Let You Know How They Lived.
  • “It is vitally important to become familiar with German history, especially how that history affected the many border changes.”
  • The 'Kaiserreich' or 2nd German Empire was from 1871-1918. ‘Germany’ will celebrate it’s 70th birthday this year.
  • In Germany there was ‘real inheritance’ where property was equally divided for inheritance. Once large farms became smaller and smaller over the generations.
  • There are many words for ‘farmer’ depending on the farmer’s status, farm job done, etc. ‘colon’ was a rich farmer, ‘heuerling’ was a tenant farmer, ‘hausling’ was a day laborer, etc.
  • ‘Hallenhaus’ was a type of ‘hall house’ that contained what you would think of as a barn (with stables for animals, storage, a thrashing floor) and a home for the farmer, his family and workers all under one roof. The main door was large enough for a wagon to pass through. The home section had an open kitchen with a fire for cooking. The family ate around the fire and slept in sleeping small enclosed chamber areas. The sleeping quarters for the maids and the farm workers were closer to the animals. Hard to imagine all this going on under one roof but in the middle of winter you didn’t need to worry about going outside to tend the animals I guess.
  • The farmer, family and workers had a typical day that began about 4 am. Breakfast might consist of pumpernickel bread soaked in milk, a type of stew for lunch and dinner about 6 pm that might have been a type of pancake. The type of pumpernickel bread was made in huge square loaves that took over a day to bake and could last for at least a year.
  • Work on the farm was done by everyone. Children tended animals and did other odd jobs. Women worked in the fields, cooked, carried water for animals. Men tended the animals, grew the crops, made repairs to farm implements, etc. Everyone knitted and made woolen socks/stockings, etc. 
  • New ‘wooden’ shoes were usually just a once a year event.
Ingeborg’s second presentation was entitled: Superstitions and Beliefs that Guided Our German Ancestor.
  • Many early beliefs were based on Norse Mythology. When Christianity came along some of the old Norse beliefs became intermingled with the newer Christian beliefs.
  • ‘Wells’ were sacred and needed to be covered and blocked during eclipses and during 12th night. Salt was added to wells at times to ward off witches. Money in a well was a sign of good luck.
  • 12th night is the from 12/25-1/5 and on the old calendar was during the winter solstice. New Year’s Eve was a very precarious night and the house and barn needed to be protected from spirits. On January 5th they would smoke out the spirits with herbs to ward off bad spirits and cleanse the remnants of Winter out.
  • The Eve of May 1st bad spirits are out. A thorn is placed in the door frame, wells must be covered and a cross placed on the door to ward off the bad spirits and be sure to leave out some bread with honey on it.
  • May 1st is May Day. A day to wash your face and you might catch a glimpse of elves.
  • House spirits’, thought to be the spirit of an ancestor of the home, will protect and tease the inhabitants so people will leave something out for them at night.
  • Herbs are more potent if gathered and blessed on St. John’s Day (July 24th)
  • February 2nd is Candle Mass day when the candle wax is blessed.
  • Storks are a sign of good fortune and bring happiness.
There were so many superstitions. Hopefully, I recounted these correctly. You can see many remnants of these still practiced today all over the world.

Both of these talks helped me take a glimpse in to the lives of my German ancestors. I think I can understand a little more about the lives they left to come to America. I wondered if Theodore was one of many children and just wanted to try something other than farming? Would the farm he inherited, if there was one, have been so small he didn’t see how to make a living? Was his father a craftsman and he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do? I wonder.

Note: Ingeborg will be the Key Note Speaker for the 2019 International German Genealogy Conference to be held June 15-17 in Sacramento, CA. I am definitely looking forward to hearing her speak and learning more about German Research.

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Sunday, March 3, 2019

1690 Long Island Land Deed

Having both maternal and paternal ancestral lines that trace back to the early 1600s I have become more and more interested in land deeds over the years.  Recently, while on Long Island and searching for land records I wondered about how and when land deeds began on Long Island? I was amazed to find a land deed from 1690 between an early settler on Long Island and Native Americans.  How surprising to find a land deed going back that far!  This is a transcription of the original that is held by the Suffolk County Historical Society in Riverhead, New York. 

 (click on image to enlarge)

December the 30. 1690
Be it Known unto all men whom it may concern, that we whose hands are under written, do conform unto Richard Woodhull Junior of Brookhaven, his heirs executors administrators assigns for ever to have and to hold for ever, (that is to say) the High Ways on each side of the Neck, commonly called by the English Rattle Snake Neck the high ways to be Eight-Rods wide [44 yards], down to the Meadows with fencing stuts, building timber houses yards, or any live Timber what _ _ so ever the said Richard Woodhull shall have occasion for, with all other privileges or commanages [land owned by more than one person] yards Cow houses or other buildings with a further conformation of all the Meadows that is moveable whether high or low _ ground, fresh or salt grass, both in Snake Neck and in Wonacrosscome Neck and Connecticut Meadows Lands We whose hands are under written do conform unto the said Richard Woodhull his heirs and assigns forever, And further of the said Zobacheus Sachem, with the rest whose hands are underwritten, do give and conform unto the said Richard and his heirs and assigns for ever, that is to say Yards houses barns hovels _ and fencing across our Lands, For the conveniency of his Meadows and former Deed given both in Land and Meadow, both in the old Pathway _ and new, we the Said Indians do give grant make over and Conform all ye above said promises conformations gifts or grants above mentioned And we the said Indians whose hands are underwritten freely give _ Our good friend Richard Woodhull eight Rods deep of Woodland round the Neck next to Meadows both in Snake Neck and Wonacrosscome Neck for his conveniency for Wintering of Cattle: And this we whose hands are under written do Warranty against all persons or person what so ever shall lay any claim or challenge to ye same, and we do promise and witness we our heirs and assigns for ever to maintain, and give a further _ confirmation if need require.
As witness our hands
Tabacckas Eis mark
Wasqnasatsook Eis mark
Taceques Eis mark
Pamuta Eis mark
Antuok Eis mark
Wap Eis mark
Aiof Eis mark
Posuum Eis Mark
Wud Ramps
Singed and Sealed in presence of us
Tom T Frances Eis mark
Ludas Eis mark
Richard R. Floyd Eis mark
Susabbah Lloido

Deciphered and written from the original by Mr. John Thorne (?)
At Mastic, L.I. about 1910
  • Note: Please excuse misspellings of names, etc. above.  If you know the correct spelling please let me know so corrections can be made.  There are also symbols that I was unable to replicate. 

As I transcribed this I wondered where exactly ‘Rattle Snake Neck’ was?  I searched for ‘Rattle Snake Neck, Long Island 1690’ and found the following in a book (click on title to read book for free on Google Books) entitled The Indian Place-Names on Long Island and Islands Adjacent: With Their Probable Significations by William Wallace Tooker (published in 1911)  on page 60:

Sometimes finding such a record, even though it doesn’t directly relate to your ancestors can be an amazing find.  Records like this help tell the story of the early settlers and what was happening around your ancestors.  What a treasure this document is for the history of the area!

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Celebrating the Life of Asahel Johnson

Asahel Johnson, my maternal 5x great-grandfather, was born 251 years ago today.   

  • While doing research about a year ago on I was able to get my female direct maternal line back to Amanda Johnson and I was stuck.  A brick wall.  Hmm… What to do next?  I tried a new technique for me, by developing a research plan for Amanda and in the course of following my plan discovered some valuable sources of information. (click on titles to read previous posts Trying Out a New Research Technique: Finding Ancestors in the Early 1800s, Follow Up Friday-Trying a New Research Technique and My Maternal Line and Mitochondrial DNA to learn more) When I was looking at family trees on Family Search I found Amanda Johnson Browning and about another 6 generations beyond Amanda!  Wow!  I emailed Steve, the owner of the Tree, to say thank-you and ask about his sources.  I was delighted to find someone who shared the passion I have for family history and the dedication to verifying information.  Then my search was on for information about Amanda’s grandfather-Asahel Johnson.

What can I learn about Asahel?

Asahel was born 28 February 1768 at Woodbury, Connecticut.  Asahel is believed to be the 2nd of nine children born to Artemas and Mary Barns Johnson.
  • Woodbury, founded in 1673 is currently in Litchfield County, CT
  • As reported in the London Magazine in July 1753 America-Connecticut“Several hundred people of this Colony [Connecticut] have agreed to purchase a large tract of Land of the Six Nations of Indians of the Susquehanna River, about 300 leagues to the Westward, lying within the bounds of their Charter, to settle upon it.  Expecting that it will be in a short time a distinct Government.”  The land was in what is now Pennsylvania. 

I believe Asahel arrived in Pennsylvania, first locating in Shesequinn and later settling in Orwell, Bradford County, Pennsylvania.  Asahel purchased land from the Connecticut Delaware Company on Towner Hill.  The title supposedly proved worthless but he decided to stay and reportedly took 3000 acres.

Asahel would marry Beulah Hitchcock on 3 March 1782 in Orwell, Bradford County, Pennsylvania.  They would have 12 children: Lydia, Artemus, Simeon, Amanday, Charlotte, Joel (my 4x great-grandfather), Welthy, Julia, Clarissa, Lydia, Nelson, and Mary.

In 1797 it is reported that Asahel moved into the wilderness with his family.  “His first years were a severe struggle, and he was compelled to work at  Sheshequin to produce grain for family supplies, during which time Mrs. Johnson remained alone with her small children [possibly 5], caring for them and the cow, their only stock.”  (from the Files of the Bradford County Historical Society in family history titled Twiggs from Family Trees Hoagland)

Asahel died 25 November 1857 in Orwell and is buried in the Darling Cemetery.

  • Oh, how I wish Asahel had kept a diary of that journey back in the 1780s from Woodbury, CT to the Susquehanna Valley, PA area, a distance of about 200 miles in a westward direction.  I wonder what he went through to get there and to settle in the then ‘wilderness’.  Looking at the map I guess I can see why the Connecticut Colony contained the land westward in to what is now Pennsylvania.  I just wonder about that strip of land above New York City?

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

*I always try to remember to thank those who have done a lot of research and graciously shared their trees to give me the bread crumbs I love to follow that help me kick down my brick walls!  Thank-you Steve!!  Steve also shared a link to a website for the Spencer-Benham Reunion Association.  The reunion has been held in Illinois for 122 consecutive years and Steve remembered that Amanda Johnson Browning was mentioned in the minutes. Steve and Judy Witt transcribed most of the minutes and posted to the Genealogy Trails History Group, Carroll County, Illinois website.