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!

25 August 2013

Random Person of the Day - John Bowman Smith

Today's random person is the brother of my great great grandfather, John Bowman Smith.  Before I give the details I know about him, let us just pause for a moment to consider how difficult it is to track someone named John Smith from England.

John was born on 12 September 1836 somewhere in England.  I have not been able to track his exact location of birth, but his parents George Bowman Smith and Jane Crakes were natives of Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire respectively, so it seems likely John was from somewhere in this vicinity (central England).  There is some more information about his mother's ancestry in my Martha Anne Watson Marshall post.

As for John, my first record of him is when he arrived in Philadelphia on 15 December 1841 on the ship North Star from Liverpool with his mother, whose occupation was listed as a milliner, and younger siblings Sarah Ann and William Henry.  Traversing the Atlantic in the early winter with three small children (ages 4, 3, and 1) was obviously not an ordeal to be taken lightly, so one can imagine how difficult life in England must have become for Jane and her family for them to risk such a trip.  I haven't found the ship record for father George (again, how hard is it to track a George Smith from England?), but I suspect he went to the US first to prepare a place for his family, and they were arriving to meet him there.  Another option could be that he sent his family ahead to meet up with the Crakes while he finalized preparations to leave England for good, but I think the first scenario is more likely.

About 11 months later, on 9 November 1842, younger brother Francis George Charles was born in New York state.  Sometime between then and the birth of brother Watson Marshall (my great great grandfather) on the 27th of May 1849, the family settled in Huntington County, Indiana near the Crakes family, who had preceded their presence in the US by about 10 years according to other Crakes researchers' information.  In the 1850 census, the family consists of George Smith, Jane, and children John, Sarah, William, Francis, and Watson.  Jane's brother William Crakes was also living with the family.  Next door, Jane's sister Margaret lived with her husband Henry Johnson and two children.  Youngest brother Joseph Isaac N. was born on 17 May 1852 in Indiana.  History passed down through the family also indicates another brother, Robert W., but I do not have any information on his birth or death.

In a newspaper memoir published from Watson Smith in 1930, entitled "The Last of the Real Pioneers", Watson recalls that his mother died of tuberculosis when he was seven, which would place her death around 1856.  The article also states this happened shortly after the family moved from Huntington County to Allegan County, Michigan.  Fellow researcher Amy Bernicken puts her death in 1854 in South Haven, Michigan.

Watson went to live with his uncle Watson Crakes after his mother's death.  There has been some family lore passed down to Smith descendants that the family was in Kansas for a time, but ended up back in Michigan.  I have no record of any presence in Kansas, but we do see Francis in Erie, Monroe County, Michigan for the 1863 Civil War draft.  Prior to this, he served in the 18th Michigan Infantry Company K in 1862, indicating there was still some Smith presence in Michigan early in the 1860s.  Francis was discharged for disability (family legend claims he was shot), but he managed to get himself back into the war and served as a full corporal in the 3rd Michigan Calvary Co. M in 1864 and 1865.

John was also a veteran of the Civil War, but again the generic name plagued me trying to figure out which John Smith from Michigan he was.  And, perhaps, he wasn't even in Michigan at the time.  However, the 1890 Veterans Schedule comes to the rescue and is when we get our first glimpse at John's civil war service.  John B. Smith of Cherry Grove (and yes, finally the only John B. Smith in his area!) is listed as a private in Co. G of the 6th Michigan Infantry and Co. C of the 3rd Michigan Calvary, the same calvary where his brother would later serve in Co. M.  His service is listed as 11 months, from 15 Aug 1861 to 15 Jul 1862.  The dates are listed under the infantry, with no dates under the calvary service.

Fortunately for me, John liked to use his middle initial.  I found a John B. Smith, residing in Saugatuck Michigan (this is in Allegan County), who enlisted in the Michigan 6th Infantry Regiment, Co. G, on 20 Aug 1861 and mustered out on 17 Jul 1862 at Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  I also found a John B. Smith who resided in South Haven, Michigan (about 20 miles south of Saugatuck) and enlisted in Co. C of the Michigan 3rd Cavalry Regiment on 27 Aug 1863 and mustered out on 1 Feb 1866 at New Orleans, Louisiana.  He had been promoted from a private to a full corporal during this time.

I found this Civil War service to be strangely similar to that of his younger brother Francis.  It will take some more sleuthing to see if I can figure out why he left his regiment in 1862, only to return to the calvary in 1863.  The only other clue to his military service is a photograph (see end of this post) of him in his uniform taken in Corinth, Mississippi at Howard & Hall.

We find him again in the 1870 census farming in Bedford, Monroe County, Michigan with his wife Sarah nee Willard and children Eugene and Melissa, ages 3 and 1.  Youngest brother Joseph is also living with the family, and brother Francis is farming in nearby Erie with his young family. Father George is living next door to Francis, working as a shoemaker.  By this time I have lost track of his siblings William and Sarah.  Although not seen in the census, according to his memoir Watson was still living with his uncle at this point, though the next year he would journey out to pioneer in the wild north country of Wexford County.

Which is where we find John living and farming in the 1880 census, in the township of Cherry Grove, not too far (7 households away on the census) from his brother Watson in the same township.  Children George W. E. and Francis J. have been added to the household.  Property records indicate a John Smith buying property on 5 November 1878 in this area.  Father George had died in Monroe County the previous year, 1879. Francis continued to live in the Monroe County area but would die in 1884 of complications from when he was shot during the Civil War.  Brother Joseph was still in Bedford with his new wife but would eventually move to Toledo, Ohio.

In addition to his residence in 1890 in Cherry Grove and his military service information, the 1890 Veterans Schedule also indicates that John suffered from impaired vision as the result of heat stroke and had chronic diarrhea (an unfortunately common condition by the looks of the other households listed in the schedule) and piles (i.e., inflamed hemorrhoids).   I am having trouble determining whether these disabilities were incurred during the war.  Either way...poor John!

John and his wife still lived in Cherry Grove in the 1900 census with children Eugene and Frank still at home.   In 1910 they are still in Cherry Grove, with only Frank still at home, but in 1920 Eugene has moved back into the household.  John Bowman Smith died at age 86 years on 23 Feb 1923 in Cherry Grove.  I have put in a request and am hopeful that I may soon have an obituary of his, which I'm hoping will contain a more precise birth location in England and information about his movements prior to 1870.

The first hand accounts I have of the Smith men apply only to Watson and Francis directly, but assuming John was anything like his brothers then he was likely a well-respected member of his society.  As he lived near his family his whole life and, like his brother Francis, entered the Civil War once again after having been discharged and completing his duty, I think it is safe to say he was likely similar to his brothers.  Both Watson and Francis are said to have been over 6 feet tall without shoes on and of imposing physique, so John likely was quite tall as well.  The photo I have of him, taken during his Civil War service when he was likely in his late 20s, reflects to me this strong demeanor.

Note on photos:  I don't mind if you wish to save a copy of the photos on this blog, but as most of them are original scans of personal family photos I would appreciate if you credited the source.

John Bowman Smith
ETA: He appears to be wearing a Union Calvary jacket in this photo.

21 August 2013

Random Person of the Day - Lany L. Duram

Lany was the daughter of my 4x great grandparents, Joseph W. Duram and Minerva Higley of Waterloo, Seneca, New York.  All I know of her is from her headstone transcription at the Stark Street Cemetery in Waterloo.

Lany was born in 1823 and died on the 2nd of June 1837 and is buried in Waterloo.  Her parents were J.W. and Minerva Duram, according to her headstone.  She was only age 14 years.

The Stark Street cemetery contains the headstones of three of Joseph and Minerva's children.  In addition to Lany, David N. died in April of 1839 at age 19, and Nancy A. Hamell died on 11 October 1840, age 19 years 10 months.  I'm not aware if there was some sort of sickness going around during these years, but the 1837-1840 time range must have been extremely painful for the Duram family.  My 3x great grandmother, Sophronia, would have been ages 11-14 during these years.

Some more information about the Durams can be found in my Climbing the colonial branches post.