09 November 2017

And Siems Has Been Found

One day a few months ago, I was on my tree on Ancestry and saw a little leaf (hint) on John C. Siems. Siems is my direct paternal line, and John C. is the most distant ancestor I had found to date.

Siems was, of course, an early focus of mine when I started up researching about 9 years ago, being my direct paternal line. First census gatherings were easy, as were "recent" (1910s/1920s) death certificates. I quickly found John C., who immigrated to Saginaw from Mecklenburg. The C. is very important, as my line goes John C. -> John E. -> John L. -> John W.! This is better than my 6 Robert Grays in a row, at least. I'm still not sure what the E. stands for, but as we see below I have finally discovered the C.!

Collecting information about John C. proved more difficult than initially finding his name. Once I realized it was spelled Seams in 1870 and 1880 census records, I finally found the family in Bridgeport, Saginaw County. With manually scrolling through a poorly-transcribed and written 1860 census, I finally found the family living in East Saginaw in the 1860 census. I also found them, spelled Seams again, in the Oak Grove cemetery. Birth years for both him and his wife Mary were way off, but day and month were spot on. They were buried near their two children who did not survive to adulthood: Minnie and Friederich.

Here the trail ended for a while, until I found East Saginaw Lutheran records transcribed online. I was able to get a marriage record for John and Mary:

#18 SIRUS, Johann. 28 years. Lutheran. Worked by the day.  Maria EGGERD. 27 years. Married, September 4, 1857. East Saginaw.

As per usual, trying to search for the name Siems is practically impossible. It is always transcribed wrong. I've mentioned the Eggerts briefly before, but Mary came to Saginaw with her father and several siblings, arriving at New York in July of 1857. Less than two months later, she was married to John. I always wondered if they had met over in Mecklenburg, or if they really just decided to get married in such a short time since they were both newly arrived from the same country.

Back to my hint. It was in the record collection Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1519-1969. Johann Jochen Christian Siemss was born 30 Apr 1829 and baptized 1 May 1829. While a year off from his death certificate which gave a birth of 1 May 1828, it's not totally uncommon for mismatched birth dates in my experience in other records. And 1 May, while not his technical birth, was in a way being his baptism. But the birth location - Eickhoff!

I couldn't believe it. Eickhoff! This is the village that the Eggert family immigrated from. Where Mary came from and quickly married John in Saginaw. Where her father, who lived with the family in 1860, set off from to the new world. Off by a year, which I've encountered before, 1 May, John C. Siems/Johann Jochen Christian Siemss, Eickhoff - I can't ignore such coincidences!

Next was to see if I could trace this German Johann Siemss to where he ended up. I never had found a match to my John C. in ship records. But this time I checked a new record collection - Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934. I found a J. Siemess who departed Hamburg, alone, on 1 Apr 1857. He was a resident of Eickhoff and age 25, which gives an approximate birth year of 1832. A few years off, but I've seen a lot of poor ages on such records so it doesn't exclude him. And it's not like Eickhoff was crawling with young men named J. Siemss! I then pulled up the arrival record from New York for the ship named Humboldt. It arrived 12 May. The image is in poor shape, but I matched up some of the names with the Hamburg departure and think I found my guy. Of course, "Johann Schmidt Sr." in the transcription did not make this possible before!

Looking on FamilySearch instead of Ancestry gave me a much clearer image. There is a rip across the last name, but it looks like a Johann Siems age 28, which matched the 1829 birth record. He arrived with one case.

I do believe given the Eickhoff connection that this is my John C. He left Eickhoff in April of 1857, arrived on 12 May to New York, then made his way to Saginaw. Here he prepared for his family, who arrived a few months later. Soon after his bride-to-be arrived, they married at the local Lutheran church and began their new life in the U.S.

And now we move from John C. and Mary Siems of Bridgeport to:

Johann Jochen Christian "John" Siems, born 30 Apr 1829 in Eickhoff, Mecklenburg-Schwerin to Christian Jochen Friederich Siemss and Friederica Elisabeth Charlotte Frese. He immigrated to the U.S. on 1 Apr 1857 and later that year married Maria Carolina Charlotta "Mary" Eggert on 4 Sep in East Saginaw, Michigan at St. John Lutheran Church. Maria was born 6 Jan 1826, the daughter of Christian Eggert, who immigrated with her, and Margaretha Sophia Christina Reichmann and was born in Rosenow, baptized in Witzen, and later moved to Eickhoff with her family. She had several younger siblings born in Eickhoff, and there her mother died. John C.'s grandparents included Jochen Siemss and Margaretha D. Brüsch, and Johann Frese. Mary's grandparents were Johann Heinrich Eggert and Margaret, and Johann Friederich Reichmann and Maria Sophia Grewols.

I only wish this had happened before my grandfather passed, so I could share the information with him. He would have loved it.

08 November 2017

I Found You, Thaddeus!

I've decided to revive the genealogy blog with some exciting news - I found my Thaddeus!

I my previous post about Thaddeus, I gave an outline based mostly on work by fellow researcher and distant cousin Daryl Althaver. In the time since, I hadn't really gotten anywhere. At all. I revisited it often, but only really found a few new pieces of information:
  1. In Obediah Deland's probate papers, Thaddeus and wife Lucy were mentioned. Daniel T. Lewis, who lived next to the Martins in the 1850 census, was petitioning as he bought the land they resided on from Deland, and a share of the purchase price was to go to the Martins. As mentioned before, Obediah was made legal agent in Thaddeus' bounty land papers, and his children at various times lived with either Obediah or his brother Hall.
  2. Obediah's wife was Ruby Butterworth. One of the possible surnames for Lucy is Butterworth, based on the widow's declaration for bounty land.
  3. Hall's wife was Laura Goodrich. One of the possible surnames for Lucy is Goodridge.
To anyone suffering with such a brick wall - don't despair! It may take four (or forty!) years, but something may come along. For me - it was in the form of an Ancestry hint.

Maybe a month or so ago, I received a hint on Thaddeus in U.S., Presbyterian Church Records, 1701-1970. I'm not sure exactly when the collection was added or exactly when I received the hint, but it was for a Thaddeus Martin born in New York in 1789. Diving in, he was specifically born 25 January 1789 and baptized in 1798 along with two siblings in Augusta, New York. An additional three siblings came along to the family in following years.

Where is Augusta? It is a town in Oneida County and, as it happens, only 12 miles east of Smithfield where Thaddeus and Lucy wed. They also married in a Presbyterian Church.

Looking further, I saw some mentions of Augusta parishioners transferring to the Smithfield congregation, which was new. 

I couldn't find what happened to his parents, but I followed all but one of his siblings along (Gilbert eluded me).
  • Sylvia married David W. Smith and died in 1838. She is buried near Augusta.
  • Aurelia married Eliot Hurd of Augusta and died in 1844. She is buried in Augusta.
  • Marinda married Elias Peabody in Huron Co., Ohio (now Lorain Co.). I'm not sure how she ended up in Ohio. She died in 1877 and is buried there.
  • Minerva married Robert C. Durkee of Augusta and died in 1858. She lived in Augusta in the 1850 and 1855 censuses and is buried there.
Except for Minerva, I had no indication that the Martin family ever left Augusta, but I found no real records of Thaddeus, Gilbert, or the parents after their early 1800s entry in the church book. The membership list indicated William and Experience were removed by letter (i.e., transferred to another church) in 1809, but by all accounts the family seemed to stay in Augusta.

Until I decided to reread Thaddeus' bounty land application materials, which indicate he was drafted into the military at Livonia, NY.

Livonia is over in the Finger Lakes region in Livingston County (then Ontario Co.). Looking at the 1810 census, there was indeed a William Martin living in Livonia. However, there was no child Gilbert's age nor a wife-aged woman.

But, we see his neighbor is David W. Smith, which is the name of Sylvia's husband. Based on ages, it could be Experience and Gilbert had died, and Sylvia was living next door with her husband while Thaddeus, Aurelia, Marinda, and Minerva lived with their father William.

Enter the Livingston County Historian's indexed records. Here, I find a William and Experience joined the Presbyterian Church in Livonia on 4 Jun 1809 (a few months after they removed from Augusta) and Mrs. Martin (wife of William) died on 28 July 1810. The 1810 census was taken on 6 August.

The consistent locations of this family along with a birth date of 1789 for Thaddeus have both myself and Daryl thinking we have a strong case that we finally found our Thaddeus (Daryl had separately been exploring William Martin of Livonia, but hadn't gotten the Augusta church records yet).

As important as finding the right family is, it's equally important to make sure we did not find the wrong families. There are two other contemporary Thaddeus Martins that I've seen in other family trees that I have eliminated.
  1. A Thaddeus Martin born 1779 in Woodbury, CT. He is especially confusing because he lives in Avon, which is down the road from Livonia. I also suspect William and Experience are originally from CT. However, this Thaddeus married Mehetable Throop, whose family is well known and documented. This Thaddeus died in 1826. It is critical not to link Avon records (such as land records) with my Thaddeus, as the Thaddeus of Throop fame is more likely the one referred to there.
  2. A Thaddeus Martin is listed as a son in the will of Ebenezer Gould Martin in 1828 in Sidney, NY (Delaware Co.). This is about 50 miles or so south of Augusta/Smithfield areas. While not close, because it was not too far away from Smithfield where Thaddeus married I did follow up. In his will, Ebenezer left his sons Sheldon and Samuel land, 20 dollars to his daughter Polly, and property divided between daughters Polly and Genett after his wife passed. To his son Thaddeus, he leaves one dollar and Thaddeus is the only child not preceded by "well-beloved" in the will. In keeping with a black sheep theme, there is a Thaddeus S. Martin in Delhi, Delaware Co in the county poor house, where he is listed as a pauper. This Thaddeus in the poor house always gave me pause to accept that Gould Martin could be my Thaddeus' father, plus the case for William and Experience is stronger in terms of the connections to Smithfield and Livonia.
Now to find Lucy...

02 October 2013

One Duram mystery proven!

I'm still on a bit of a hiatus due to my computer being out of commission, but of course I never quit researching.  And today I did the genealogy happy dance, clapped my hands, and shouted "Yes! Yes!", because I finally have concrete proof to add to some great circumstantial evidence in one of my lines!

First, some background can be found in two of my previous posts entitled Climbing the colonial branches and A Meeker Summary and Searching for a Breakthrough .  Specifically, my starting point ancestor is the mother of my 2x great grandmother, Frances Maybelle Meeker.  Her name was Sophronia Duram, and my connecting her to Joseph W. Duram of Waterloo, Seneca County, NY and his wife Minerva was discussed in my Meeker post.  I also mentioned in that post that I believed that Minerva was Minerva Higley, daughter of Seth Higley and Lucy Herod.  I arrived at that conclusion from some documents that linked the Duram family to the Higleys.  A book entitled "The Higleys and their Ancestry: An old colonial family" described Minerva as "Mrs. Minerva Durham" and noted that she moved to Waterloo and that her mother moved with her.  A Lucy Higley is buried in the Stark Street Cemetery near Waterloo, as is a Minerva, wife of J.W. Duram.  The aforementioned book also listed her husband as Joseph Durham.  A genealogy article published on auburnpub.com stated, "Thomas' son, Archibald, purchased land near the canal in 1822 from Joseph Durham (spelled Duram on the deed) and his wife Minerva Higley, another daughter of Seth Higley."  My final strong evidence was that in Seth Higley's pension application documents (Minerva's father), Philander Duram (brother of Joseph) noted that he had attended Lucy Higley's funeral and gone with his brother, her son-in-law, to purchase a headstone for her.

While concrete evidence of Sophronia being the daughter of Joseph and Minerva is my ultimate goal, I did score a victory today in proving that Minerva was, in fact, the daughter of Seth Higley, a patriot of the Revolutionary War, and that she was married to Joseph W. Duram of the Scots-Irish Durams.  I decided to pop onto FamilySearch and check out their New York Probate Records.  Unfortunately these records haven't been indexed, so the microfilm images must be browsed.  I had previously checked Seneca County for the Durams and Higleys with no luck.  Today, I decided to check Cayuga County, as the two families had previously resided in the town of Mentz.

I found a slew of Higleys in the general index.  Cayuga County has a large collection of estate papers in different "boxes", and the general index notes the box containing the named person's estate papers.  Seth Higley was in box 7.  Unlike various record books, the boxes of estate paper packets did not have page numbers, so it was up to me to sift through every image.

And 1,069 images later, I found what I was looking for.  Included in Seth's packet were the orders for different next of kin to appear in the court when his will was presented.  It was in this list of kin, in a legal document, that I excitedly saw Minerva Duram mentioned specifically as a daughter of Seth Higley and wife of Joseph W. Duram.  I am completely convinced that Joseph W. Duram and Minerva Higley are the couple I have been researching, and my additional research up the Higley line has not been an exercise in futility.

Another exciting item was the mention of Sylvia Duram, wife of Tolford Duram Junior.  Tolford was the brother of Joseph, and moved with him to Michigan in the early 1850s.  Sylvia lived to the age of 103, dying in 1900.  This meant her death certificate was available on the Seeking Michigan website.  Her parents were listed as Benjamin Collins and Sylvia Higley.  Sylvia was a daughter of Seth, and it appears she had died before her father, hence Sylvia Collins Duram being listed as a next of kin.  Not only did this give me the connection between Sylvia Collins Duram and the Higleys, which I had been wondering about, but it also gave the exciting name of Tolford Duram Junior.  This indicated that his father, too, was named Tolford Duram.  I mentioned my attempts to connect the Tolford and Elizabeth Duram buried in Stark Street Cemetery with my other Waterloo Durams in my Colonial post.  Yet another piece of evidence that is leading me to believe that this Tolford and Elizabeth are the parents of the Waterloo Durams.

So, there you have it.  Concrete proof that Joseph W. Duram and Minerva Higley were married, and more evidence that Tolford and Elizabeth Duram are good contenders for the parents of the Duram boys of Waterloo.

19 September 2013

Quick update on hiatus

In case anyone reads this blog and is wondering why I'm not posting...

I'm currently dealing with a broken computer, which holds all my research information, coupled with historic flooding in my town.  Fortunately I was not directly affected, but it does make getting my computer to a good repair shop a bit tricky.  I'll be back in within a few weeks I hope.

30 August 2013

I found you, Sarah Ann!

In my previous post about my great great grandfather's oldest brother, John B. Smith, I noted that after the 1850 census I was unable to track two of his siblings, Sarah Ann and William Henry.  But with a bit of detective work, I have officially found the Smith family's only daughter, Sarah.

The first step on this journey began with a thought that maybe I should check Michigan death records on FamilySearch with the first name Sarah and the father's last name Smith.  I had, of course, already checked many Michigan and Indiana databases using full names (George and Jane Smith, or George Smith and Jane Crakes) with no luck, so I decided to widen the net by dropping all but her maiden name.  After all, I've run into incomplete or erroneous death certificate information many times as a result of informants who did not have the full knowledge of the deceased's life.

The second entry returned in the search was for a Sarah A. Tubbs, who had father Smith and no other parental information.  She was born about 1838 in England according to her death date of 3 Sept 1902 and age of 64 years, and she was a widow who died in Bloomingdale in Van Buren county.  Recalling my work with John for my previous post, he had been located in Van Buren county when he entered the Civil War for the second time.  So, her death location lined up with where I knew at least one Smith relative to have lived at one point, and her birth information lined up too.

Because she had died in 1902, I knew the actual image of her death certificate was available at Seeking Michigan, which has Michigan death certificates from 1898 to 1920 on file.  Pulling up the image, I got slightly more information than the index on FamilySearch could give me.  She was first married at 27 years of age (about 1865) and had 2 of 4 children living.  She was also widowed and her occupation was that of a dressmaker.  She was born in England, and her parents Don't Know Smith and Don't Know were also both born in England.  Her age was marked as 64 years, 4 months, and 1 day, which would give her a birth date of 2 May 1838.  However, her birth date was marked down as 2 April and what appeared to be 1828.  Which was correct?

Still a viable candidate for our Sarah Ann Smith despite a potential 1828 birth date, I decided to check the 1900 census to see if I could find her and give some collaboration to either the 1828 or 1838 birth year.  I found a Sarah A. Tubbs living with son Watson Tubbs and his family in South Haven, Van Buren county.  Also living with Watson was his brother Joseph and his wife and son.  Watson and Joseph were both names of Sarah Smith's brothers, and she also had an uncle named Watson Crakes.  Although not concrete, the use of the name Watson stuck with me as it is not a terribly common name.  Feeling as though I could still be on the right track, I looked at Sarah's other census information.  Born April 1837 (more in line with Sarah Smith's birth year) in England with parents born in England.  She was a widow who had given birth to 4 children, 2 of whom were still living.  It also stated she had come to the US in 1854.  Of course, our Sarah Smith arrived in December of 1841 with her mother and two brothers, so this was either incorrect info or not my Sarah.

I've seen plenty of terrible immigration years in the census in my short 5 years of genealogy work, so I decided to venture on.  The next step was to find Sarah in the 1880 census.  In neighboring Allegan County (township of Casco) I found a Sarah A. Tubbs living with husband Kenneth and children Emmett and Joseph.  Emmett was about the same age as Watson would have been...perhaps a middle name?  And 5 year old Joseph was a similar age to the 26 year old Joseph of 1900.  Sarah was listed as born in 1838 in England.  I was confident this was the same family

Searching back further, I find Kenneth and Sarah Tubbs living in Casco in 1870 with 4 year old daughter Phoebe and two year old sons William and Watson.  Perhaps Phoebe and William were the 2 children Sarah had lost by 1900.  I could not find the family in 1860, and coupled with Phoebe's age I believed Kenneth and Sarah had married sometime in the 1863-1865 range.

Time to search the Michigan County Marriages collection on FamilySearch.  I usually have to page through each image of this collection because it is not completely indexed yet, but I lucked out with Van Buren county this time and found a Kenneth Tubbs marrying a Sarah Ann Smith, who was born in 1838, on 2 November 1863.  Clicking the accompanying image gave me the last bit of information that cemented Sarah Tubbs as being Sarah Ann Smith, daughter of English immigrants George Smith and Jane Crakes.

In the image, the Justice of the Peace testified that he had married Kenneth Tubbs of Grand Rapids and Sarah Ann Smith of the township of Geneva at the house of William Crakes in the presence of William Crakes and Frances Crakes.  Crakes is not a common name, at all.  In fact, all Crakes of this time period in the Indiana/Michigan area are related to the same family as Jane Crakes.  So, here it was.  Still no concrete proof, like her parents' names, but very, very strong circumstantial evidence.  I'd take it to trial.

Convinced this is my Sarah, I collected some information about her family as well.  Kenneth was born about 1835 in New York and worked as a farmer.  Twins Watson Emmett Tubbs and William Emery Tubbs were born on 26 July 1869 in Casco.  William died at age 6 on 18 April 1875 of an inflammation of his bladder.  Less than 4 years later, at the age of 14, a Sarah Tubbs (Phoebe?) of Casco died of congestive chills.  A Watson Tubbs married Letita Ringer in Cook County Illinois on 14 March 1891, and it appears likely this was Sarah's son Watson with whom she was living back in Van Buren County in the 1900 census.  Kenneth died on Jun 12, 1886 in Ganges, Allegan County.  He had served in Co. F of the 2nd Michigan Calvary.  Joseph married Daisy Sibole on 4 Dec 1898 in Breedsville, Van Buren county.

Mystery solved.  Now if I can just make myself sit down and enter all of these records into my database!