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.

18 August 2013

Random Person of the Day - Martha Anne Watson (Marshall)

I've been on a bit of a hiatus between my bout with poison ivy and a trip back home, but I'm now working on returning to the land of family history blogging.  As I work on scanning in the many old family photos that were around my grandpa's house, I present you with today's random person: Martha Anne Watson.

My 4x great grandmother Martha was baptized Martha Anne Watson on the 31st of August 1788 in Market Weighton, Yorkshire, England.  Her baptism record lists no father and her mother as Anne Watson.  Meaning this was, obviously, a case of a single mother in the late 18th century.

Fortunately for me, other researchers had already uncovered her paternity.  Martha's father was one Philip Witty, as evidenced by a bastardy bond stating Philip was ordered to pay Anne 20 pounds for the bastardy child Martha (source: fellow Crakes researcher Amy Bernicken).  Anne later married Joseph Marshall in 1792, and Martha went by Martha Marshall.

On March 4, 1810, Martha married Francis Crakes in Shipton by Thorpe, Yorkshire.  Daughter Jane was supposedly christened on the 20th of that same month.  It is not certain if these dates are in error, or if Martha and Francis quickly married before their eldest child was born.  Francis and Martha and their family eventually made their way to Indiana.  Daughter Jane married George Bowman Smith and later followed her family to Indiana with her own young family.

Fun fact: My 2x great grandfather is named Watson Marshall Smith.  He also had an uncle Watson Crakes.

26 June 2013

Random Person of the Day - Rebecca A. Bell

Today's random person married into my paternal Siems line.  Her name was Rebecca A. Bell and she was born 3 March 1880 in Canada.  Eventually making her way to the Saginaw, she married my great great uncle August Siems on 24 October 1931.  She then died on 4 December 1959 in Saginaw.  I believe she was August's first wife, though I'm not sure when he married his second wife Martha Voigt so I can't say for certain.  No information on any potential children.

Rebecca and August are buried together in the Pine Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport, MI, which is near Saginaw and the Siems family farm, which August inherited from his parents when they died in the late 1920s.

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.

Rebecca and August Siems Headstone

22 June 2013

On the trail of the Bennetts

My paternal grandmother, Bonnie Jean Bennett, was the best grandma anyone could ask for.  There is a Bennett family reunion every year, and one of those years someone had a Bennett family history with them.  This was before I became very interested in genealogy, so I didn't pay too much attention to it.  However, once I was starting to get revved up a few years ago, my grandpa pulled it out and gave it to me.

I already knew my grandmother's family was from Fairgrove, Tuscola County, Michigan, and we had gone to visit and care for the family plot in the cemetery there many times while I was growing up.  She came from a large family of 11 children (though her twin brother, Bernard, had died at birth).

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.
Bennett Extended Family

According to the history, which is said to be written by my grandma's great aunt, my grandmother's father was William Perry Bennett of Fairgrove, who had married Ruby Mae Acker in 1911.  William's father was Laurence, a veteran of the Civil War (11th Michigan Infantry, Co. F).  He had been born in 1848 in Rose, Michigan, and then moved to Fairgrove with his family around 1853.  William was the third of five children of Laurence and his first wife, Hellen "Nellie" Jacobs.  Nellie died in 1882, and Laurence then married Mertie or Dela Nichols, and they had two sons.

Laurence, in turn, was the son of James Henry Bennett and his wife Lucinda Brown, both natives of New York.  The history written by his youngest daughter, Caroline "Carrie", stated that James was born in 1827 near Rochester, New York, and he married Lucinda at Highland, Michigan, in 1847.  They had 11 children.  She further stated that they had inherited "industry and love of fun and sports" from their father and "love of beauty, Christianity, and patience" from their mother.  Sister Ada, their fifth child, had a daughter Ethel Cookenmaster who also wrote of her grandparents.  She stated that Lucinda was a "tiny little person" and had to be strict with so many children.  Her mother, Ada, had told her that she remembered her mother coming to the school and making her come home, "tingling" her legs the whole way home with a switch, to do work she had neglected that morning before letting her return to school.  Ethel also believed the family had come from either Pennsylvania or New York.  She also said Lucinda had gone out to work at age 14 as a pastry cook at a hotel in Rose, Michigan (near Highland).

In her history, Caroline discussed James' early life and arrival in Michigan.  She stated that when he was 8 years old, his father sold the family home near Rochester and left his wife and 5 children to head for Michigan to look for land.  He was never heard from again and was supposed drowned.  James had to look out for himself after this, because it was difficult for his mother to care for the family.  He worked on the Erie Canal for a while and eventually found his way to Michigan.  After moving to Fairgrove, he became frustrated trying to make his home in the then wilderness and left to Bay City for some time to work in a sawmill.  She also wrote that Lucinda's mother had died when she was young and she was her father's housekeeper as well as looking after the other children.

So, this was an excellent starting point.  I was able to successfully trace James, then Laurence, then William through census, marriage, birth, death, and land records for their time in Tuscola county.  But what about James and Lucinda's early years?  This was a much more difficult task.

The 1880 census indicated that James' father was born in Ireland and his mother was born in Scotland.  The 1900 census stated both parents were born in Vermont.  His death record did not list his parents.  But my grandma had told me I had some Irish and Scottish ancestry, so perhaps there was something to it.  In 1880 James was the head of household, but in 1900 he was living with one of his daughters' family.  Perhaps the 1880 census was slightly more reliable.

I got another break when on one of James and Lucinda's children's birth records was stated that James was from Parma, NY and Lucinda from Kendall, NY.  Parma is near Rochester.  A further clue was connection with a 4th cousin, for whom James was also his 4x great grandfather.  He provided me with information from Ethel Cookenmaster (quoted above) that also stated John Brown had married a Whitehouse girl and had daughters Lucinda Brown and Lydia Brown, who married Mack Dunning and had no children.

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.
Lydia Brown Dunning


In the Bennett family history, Lydia had been incorrectly assigned as a sister of James.  There was also a Sarah listed as a sister of James who had moved to Nevada.  I wonder if Sarah was actually a Brown or a Bennett, but due to Nevada's laws regarding death records I've been unable to request one and while I've tracked Sarah to Nevada, I cannot find a listing of her parents anywhere or find her as a child in Michigan.  Given her birth year and place of birth as Michigan, I suspect Sarah was a Brown.  Working together, my cousin and I found that Lucinda's father was actually named Samuel Brown, and the two sisters had at least one brother, named John W., and potentially a sister named Charlotte.  Samuel's wife was Tammy Whitehouse (Tammy being Caroline's middle name).  The trail has run cold here for the time being.

Back to Parma.  We find a Laurence Bennett living in Parma in the 1830 census.  He has one son under age 5, which is a fit for James' age, and two daughters ages 5-9.  This is the only time we find Laurence Bennett.

I wondered if James had siblings who had moved to Michigan with him, so I did a search of death records.  A Phila Hovey died in Tuscola County in 1898 and had parents Laurence Bennett and Caroline Randall born in Ireland and Scotland respectively.  She had been born in 1824 in New York.  Further research showed she had married Sidney Hovey in New York around 1840 and later moved to Michigan.  A match to her was William Randall Bennett, who died in Muskegon, Michigan in 1913, had been born in New York in 1830, and had parents Laurence Bennett born in Ireland and Caroline Randall born in Maine.

While it seemed very possible that these two were siblings of James, there was no solid connection between Laurence, Phila, William, and James.  I was especially hesitant because there was only one son in the Laurence Bennett household in 1830, and while William was born in 1830 his death certificate indicated he had been born in March, which should've been early enough to be included in the census.

So, for me, it seemed like it was back to square one.  I discovered the Michigan County Marriages on Family Search and browsed Oakland County for James and Lucinda's marriage.  I didn't expect to find anything more than the entry and a date, but I was hopeful some sort of birthplaces or parents would be listed.

No such luck, but two witnesses were listed: Sidney Hovey and Ann Eliza Babcock.  Sidney Hovey.  Turns out this name was not common, at all.  In fact, the only Sidney Hovey I found in the 1850 census was living with Phila and family in Genesee County Michigan, close to their final home in Tuscola County.  Bingo.

With this information, my next steps are to continue pursuing the Laurence Bennett and Caroline Randall family and see if I can discover any additional information about them beyond the 1830 census and any additional connections between Phila, William, and James.

20 June 2013

Random Person of the Day - Hannah Drake

Today's random person I don't have much information about.  She was the first wife of my ancestor Captain John Higley, a colonial immigrant from England.  According to the Simsbury Historical Society, John Higley was an indentured servant to Hannah's father John Drake.  From these humble beginnings, John Higley became quite successful and married the daughter of the family he had served.

All I have on Hannah is a note of their marriage, on 9 Nov 1671 in Windsor, CT.  She is said to have been born in 1653 and died in 1739.  The majority of John's children appear to be born to her, but I am descended from his second wife, Sarah Bissell nee Strong.

18 June 2013

Random Person of the Day - Mina Siems

As I continue to work on my colonial line, I present you with another random person from my files - Mina Siems.

I don't know much about Mina, because her life was cut tragically short.  She was born in June of 1871 in Bridgeport, Saginaw County, Michigan to Mecklenburg (Germany) immigrants John C. and Marie (Eggert) Siems.  She was their second child, with an older brother John E. born 4 years earlier.  After only 6.5 years, she died on 12 Jan 1878 in Bridgeport.  The cause of death was recorded as unknown.  She left behind her parents, brother John, and her younger brother Frederick, born in 1876.  The family then suffered another loss less than 2 years later, when Frederick died of diphtheria.

Mina is buried next to her brother and parents in the Oak Grove cemetery in Bridgeport.  Their last names are misspelled Sims on the childrens' headstones and Seams on the parents' memorial.  I was able to visit the cemetery and take photos, but they are on a different computer so here is a photo from findagrave contributor Sheila Cooper.  The inscription is in German.

16 June 2013

Where are you, Thaddeus?

One of the great mysteries of my ancestry is that of my 4x great grandfather, Thaddeus Martin.  One researcher I have contacted has been researching him for over 30 years.  And in a lovely coincidence, the Martin family eventually married into my equally hard to track Acker line.

Here is a time line of what I know about Thaddeus, with thanks to Martin researcher and distant cousin Daryl Althaver who has generously shared a lot of this information with me.  The questions are where was he born, on what date, and who he and his wife's parents were.  Also, where is he buried and were there more children?  And what happened to his wife after his death?

1789 - Approximate year that Thaddeus was born in New York. Other birth locations from childrens' census and death certificates include Connecticut, Vermont, and Scotland.  He may have been born later in that year judging by the years given on the 1830 and 1840 census, which seem younger than a 1789 birth we see after 1850, or he was born in 1790.

1813 Dec 25 - Drafted into New York Militia at Livonia, Livingston County, NY for the War of 1812. Unit was led first by Capt. Stone and later Capt. Hull.

1814 May 1 - Discharged at Canandaigua, NY.  Discharge papers state he fought on the Niagara Frontier.

1817 Aug 27 - Marriage to Lucy (Marsh) Butterworth at the Peterboro Presbyterian Church in Smithfield, NY. Jonathon Kitchel presided.  There is no record of them as members of this church.

between 1815 and 1820 - Unknown daughter born.

1820 - Census listing for Thaddeus at Barre, Orleans County, NY.  In the household, there was 1 male 26-45, 1 female 26-45, and 4 females under 10.  Given the quality of the scan and other info about the family, it is very likely that this is actually 1 female under 10 and the rest of the strokes in the 4 were artifacts from other pages or the scan itself.

1825 June - Son Charles Martin born in NY (likely Barre).

between 1826 and 1829 - Son William Martin born in NY.

1830 - Daughter Mary Jane born in MI.

1830 - Census listing for Thaddeus at Oakland Co., Michigan. In the household, there was 1 male under 5 years (William), 1 male 5-10 (Charles), 1 male 30-40 (Thaddeus), 1 female under 5 (Mary Jane), 1 female 10-15 (unknown daughter), 1 female 40-50 (Lucy, likely age 40).

1832 - Son Marshall Martin born in Michigan

1833 Apr 9 - Thaddeus bought 40 acres of land in Macon township, Lenawee Co., Michigan.

1833 Apr 19 -  In the diary of Nathan Powers of Farmington, he writes “ I stuck up beams in the mill yard with Thaddeus Martin, the sixth day of the week.”

1833 - James Hunt declared in the widow's application for bounty land in 1860 that he was Thaddeus Martin's family's nearest neighbor since this date.

1834 May - Daughter Caroline born in Michigan

1840 - Census listing for Thaddeus at Macon, Lenawee County, MI.  In the household, there was 1 male 5-10 (Marshall), 2 males 10-15 (Charles and William), 1 male 40-50 (Thaddeus), 1 female 5-10 (Caroline), 1 female 10-15 (Mary Jane), 1 female 40-50 (Lucy), 3 persons employed in agriculture (Thaddeus, Charles, and William?). Eldest daughter is out of the household and I have no info on her whereabouts.

1845 - Thaddeus living in Macon in Lenawee census.

1850 - Census listing for Thaddeus at Macon.  In the household, there was Thaddeus Martin, age 61, male, farmer, real estate valued at $800, born New York.  Lucy Martin, age 61, female, born Massachusetts.  Marshall Martin, age 18, male, farmer, born Michigan.  Caroline Martin, age 16, female, born Michigan, attended school within the year.  His son Charles was living with the Obediah Deland family in Bedford, Monroe County, MI age 24, working as a laborer, real estate valued at $100, born NY.  Charles's wife Rebecca Carter was living at home with her family, the Eli and Sarah (Elberson) Carter family, in Macon.  Mary Jane, her husband George Cole, and their young son Charles were living with Obediah's brother Hall Deland in Bedford.

1850 Dec 18 - Thaddeus states on his land warrant application that he is 61 years old and appoints Obediah Deland as his legal agent.  Obediah died in 1856, before Thaddeus received his land warrant.

1854 Sept - Notice in Tecumseh Herald that the Probate Court will be selling Thaddeus' farm at public auction on 16 Nov 1854.  Notice states that Thaddeus was an idiot.

1854-1855 - Thaddeus was sent to the county poor farm, Maple Lane Manor in Adrian, Lenawee County, MI.

1857 Jun 1 - Thaddeus dies at the county poor farm.  There are no death records for the county poor farm before 1890, so it is unknown if Thaddeus is buried at the poor farm's cemetery.  From the notice in the Tecumseh Herald and the widow's declaration for Thaddeus's land, he may have had dementia or Alzheimers.

1860 Nov - Lucy had filed a widow's declaration for Thaddeus's land warrant.  She states they were married and had 4 living children.  Charles, Marshall, Mary Jane, and Caroline were all alive at this time.  If true, the eldest daughter and William would have died by this time.  Son Charles Martin and William H. Merritt declared that they knew Thaddeus and Lucy to be married, that she was a widow, and four children were alive, and that they weren't at the funeral of Thaddeus and he was insane.  One of Thaddeus's daughters had visited his grave.

1861 May 18 - Lucy received Land Warrant #49091 for land in Huron County, MI.  She transferred the land to Thomas McKean.

14 June 2013

Random Person of the Day - Francis Tuckey

The random number generator already managed a duplicate after only a few installments of Random Person of the Day.  But instead of discussing Arthur M. Tomlinson again, we'll move on to Francis Tuckey.

Francis "Frank" Tuckey was the brother of my 4x great grandpa, Charles Tuckey.  I don't have much information on him.  According to research done by my cousin, he was born in 1835 and died in 1912.  He married twice, to Mary Ann Graham and Janet Clark.  I don't have his children written down, but if he was like the rest of the Tuckey clan he procreated with gusto.  He was the son of Charles Thomas Tuckey, native of Middleton Cheney, Northhamptonshire, England who immigrated with his parents and brothers to the US, arriving in New York on 19 Dec 1823, and then moved on to Ontario, settling in the London area.  His wife, the mother of Francis, was Mary Burgess.

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.

Francis Tuckey (courtesy of Dale Tuckey's Tuckey history book)

12 June 2013

Climbing the colonial branches

Though I planned to begin beefing up my existing tree with additional records and sibling tracking, the lure of new discoveries has pushed me back into examining my colonial line.

I consider my colonial line to be that of the Durams, as my other branches back into the 1700s and 1600s are all back in the "old country", whereas my Durams are the only family branch I have proven to be in the US during this period.  I've discussed this family briefly in my Meeker post and a quick mention of the Higleys.

The Duram side, from some contact I've had with researchers, is Scots-Irish.  They moved from Scotland to the Derry area of Northern Ireland (Ulster Scots), then on to New Hampshire (Londonderry), spreading out into Maine (Belfast) and New York.  I find my Durams in Waterloo, Seneca County, NY in the 1850 census, with Horace and Sophronia Meeker nee Duram living with her father Joseph W.  Joseph appears to have at least two other brothers, Philander and Tolford, living near him as well.  There is a potential fourth brother, Philo, living in the area.  Philander and Tolford also moved to Ottawa County, Michigan in the early 1850s with Joseph.  Philander is a witness to his brother Joseph's arrangements for his mother-in-law Lucy Higley's (nee Herod) death in the pension application for father-in-law Seth Higley, a Revolutionary War patriot.  Joseph's wife Minerva Higley was buried in nearby Stark Street cemetery, along with three of their children.  Also buried there is a Tolford and Elizabeth Duram.  I am currently working on connecting this couple with the Duram brothers of Waterloo.

I find Joseph Duram in Waterloo in the 1840 census.  Philander has an older couple living with him this year.  Could they be Tolford and Elizabeth, his parents?  In 1830, the Durams were living in Mentz, Cayuga County, NY.  The Tolford Duram living there may be the elder Duram judging by the ages given in the census.  In 1820 the Durams are still in Mentz.  Joseph W. appears to be starting his young family, and the other Duram head of household is Tolford.  Again, this may be the elder Tolford.  Finally, in 1810, I find a Tolford Duram living in German, Chenango County, NY.  I need to compare the ages and genders of the people in this household to what would make sense for a Duram family with Tolford and Elizabeth as the parents.  There is also a Tolford Duram living in Belfast, Maine at this time.  I believe this is a different Tolford, though I have seen trees connect the Durams of Waterloo as children of this Tolford.  I believe this to be an erroneous connection.  I can't find my Tolford in 1800.  Again, there is a Tolford Duram in Belfast in 1800, but I do not believe him to be the same as my Tolford.  I can again find no obvious Duram connections in the 1790 census.

My final piece of Duram evidence on this trail is a marriage record I found for Aug of 1797 in New Hampshire with Tolford Duram marrying Betsy Usher.  I'd like to see if I can connect this couple with Tolford and Elizabeth Duram of Waterloo.  It seems a good lead as Tolford Duram is a common name only in the Scots-Irish Duram family that first settled in Londonderry, NH.  My evidence suggests Joseph W. as the oldest child, and he was born in Aug 1798.  If he is indeed the oldest child, the Tolford Duram and Betsy Usher wedding date is in a very favorable time frame.

The Durams are a bit more work for me, as my particular Waterloo branch isn't very well researched, and the connections I made in the past have not delivered the information they had planned to give me.  The Higleys are a very well researched and documented line, except for my immediate connection of Sophronia as the daughter of Minerva Higley.  But I feel sound in that connection, so the rest of the Higley line is, initially, a matter of documenting the existing records.

Many well-known colonial branches go into the Higley family.  Seth Higley was a patriot of the Revolutionary War, and I have over 80 pages to go through in his pension application packet.  His father, Solomon, was born in Simsbury CT, where the Higley family was well established.  I follow his line up Nathaniel Higley to Captain John Higley, who arrive in the US as an indentured servant and worked his way to freedom.  An image of Captain John Higley's gravestone from 1714 is available here.  I had been hoping for a colonial connection, including a link to the Revolutionary War and some interesting colonial headstones, and I'm fortunate that one exists.

Nathaniel was the son of John and his second wife, Sarah Bissell nee Strong.  She was the granddaughter of Elder John Strong, a leader of the church.  The Strong family had a notable presence in the colonial US.  Unfortunately for my tree, Nathaniel's wife Abigail Filer was also a descendant of Elder John Strong.  Nathaniel's grandfather Return Strong was brother to Abigail's grandmother Experience Strong, making the two second cousins.  While my Routledge family branch may consist almost entirely of the Routledge surname, I haven't actually found a common ancestor yet, so this is my first inbred line.  Sigh.

On the plus side, Abigail Filer was the granddaughter of one of my top genealogy names, Zerubbabel Filer.  There is also a colonial Phelps line to document, along with Seth Higley's mother's Holcombe line, which connects to many notable figures including Thomas Gardner, considered by some to be the first governor of Massachusetts because he had authority over the Masschusetts Bay Colony.  There's even a Wikipedia article about him.

As you can see, unearthing the story of my colonial line is a tad more exciting to me than beefing up some existing branches.  But...that will need to be done in its own good time too.

01 June 2013

Random Person of the Day - Jessie Miller

Jessie Miller married the brother of my 2x great grandfather Ezra Acker.  His name was Thomas W. Acker.  She was born about 1873 in Belfast, Ireland.  Jessie and Thomas applied for their marriage license on 26 Aug 1895 and were married two days later in Detroit, Michigan.  She was subsequently found living with him and their family in the 1900, 1910, and 1920 censuses, all in Detroit.  Thomas died a few years later in 1923.  Jessie had at least 3 children.  Her first child, named Percy W., was born 13 April 1896 and died on 17 Oct 1910 at the age of 14 from an inflammation of the heart.  Her next son was born 30 April 1898 and died 3 days later.  His name wasn't given on his death certificate.  Cause of death was eclampsia.  Her final child known to me, Adeline, was born in 1905.  There is some evidence Adeline eventually moved to California.

27 May 2013

Random Person of the Day - Paulina Eggert

Paulina Eggert was the daughter of Ernst Eggert, brother to my 3x great grandmother Marie Eggert.  This family was discussed in the post about their mother Margaretha Eggert nee Reichmann.  Paulina appears in the 1880 census in East Saginaw with her father Ernst, mother Maggie, and 5 other siblings, of whom she's the oldest.  She was born in Michigan about 1869.

26 May 2013

Random Person of the Day - Bessie E. Smith

Bessie E. Smith was the daughter of my great great grandfather Watson, making her my great great aunt.  I've heard her name quite a bit, but I don't really have that much information about her.  She was born about 1885 in Michigan, likely in the Cadillac area.  Her parents were Watson Marshall Smith, a pioneer of the northern Michigan area originally from Indiana, and Frances Maybelle Meeker, a Michigan native who was descended from colonial settlers.  She took care of her father, Watson, in his older years.  It appears she was married at least three times.  She first married an Anthrup, as this was her name when she married Emil Schmuck in 1919 in Cadillac and they had a daughter, Betty.  She married Dan Nixon after and was living with him in the 1930 census.

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.

Bessie with her father Watson

Courtesy of Margaret Lyster.

24 May 2013

Updates Made

I finally finished my updates to the Ancestry tree!  Bleh!  I really need to remember to update my Ancestry tree as I'm updating my own database.  Because, of course, Ancestry can't just make life easy and implement a gedcom merge capability.

I also made a couple updates to my public tree, which is a non-sourced, direct line ancestor tree I keep for DNA matching and other collaboration purposes.  If you'd like to view my public tree, it's available here.  You need an ancestry login to view it.  I'm not sure if it's viewable with a guest login or if you need a paid account, though.

Next steps for me will not be focused on new research, but rather going through some records I've been sitting on as well as the Ancestry hints I've accumulated from updating my tree, as well as double-checking the new Michigan death records I've been working with.  So it's more of a "beefing up" phase than any new research.  After that, I'd like to fill out my Higley colonial line more, as that is a well-researched line that I just need to sit down and confirm sources for.

Although not as glamorous as going back further in time, I'm looking forward to this next phase of work.  Researching siblings is very important for (a) fully documenting my family history and (b) additional clues for a family unit that may not be available when searching solely my ancestral lines.

22 May 2013

Random Person of the Day - Arthur M. Tomlinson

I don't have much on Arthur M. Tomlinson.  He was the son of Charles William Tomlinson and Hattie Trader, Charles being the brother of my 2x great grandfather Laurence Tomlinson.  Arthur was born about 1910 in Caro, Michigan, likely in Ellington Township where he was located for the 1910 and 1920 census.  He married Jenny Albrant.  They had a son Arthur who died at birth on 1 Dec 1937.

20 May 2013

Random Person of the Day

I'm getting close to finishing my Ancestry tree updates.  It's so painful to go through all 850+ people!  I'll need to remember to update it as I'm updating my database.  I'd rather have just uploaded a new gedcom to the site, but that would involve deleting the old tree and therefore the people I've invited to view it.

A new idea came to me for adding stories to the blog.  My source index has a list of all the people in my records/tree, each one on a different numbered row.  I'm going to use a random number generator to pick someone to write about, rerunning the generation if a living person is chosen.  I doubt I'll actually make it daily, but I think it will be a good way to introduce different stories from my tree, particularly when I'm doing clean up work or bolstering up my sources and so not really making any interesting breakthroughs.

Some of the stories will be long, others might not be more than a couple sentences, depending on the closeness to my main ancestral lines.


Today's random person is Margaretha Sophia Christina Eggert nee Reichmann.  She was my 4x great grandmother.  Born in Germany (likely Mecklenburg-Schwerin) about 1801, she married Johann Christian Eggert likely in the early 1820s and they had 4 sons and 4 daughters.  She died on 31 Dec 1845 in the Eickelberg district of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.  In 1849 one of her daughters, Sophia Maria Johanna Eggert, died.  On 14 July 1857, her husband and 7 living children arrived in the United States and went on to Saginaw, Michigan.  Her oldest daughter, Marie, became my 3x great grandmother after marrying John C. Siems in Saginaw, also a Mecklenburg native.  The only records I have of Margaretha are her death record and mentions in her childrens' birth records and on Michigan death records.  I have no evidence the her husband Christ ever remarried or fathered more children.  It is also a mystery why they picked up and moved to the US 12 years after she passed away, although opportunities for money, work, land, and spouses were common reasons across all immigrants.

12 May 2013

New Records!!!

I just happened to stumble on a new record collection at Family Search last week!  Behold, Michigan, Death Certificates, 1921-1952.

In the past couple weeks I've added 94 death records to my database.  Now I'm doing some mad updating of my ancestry.com tree (it's so annoying how only Family Tree Maker can sync with their online tree).  Once that's done, I plan to go back through my database and see if there are any people I've missed that should be in the new collection.  A lot of names are transcribed poorly...so some extra crafty searching might be in order.

No particular breakthroughs with the new data...yet.  But there are definitely clues lurking therein.

24 April 2013

Oh, you Tomlinsons...

Life has gotten in the way of genealogy research this year, though I have kept up with my DNA connections and other cousins.  I've also been working on documenting my colonial Higley family, which I mentioned in my Meeker post a while back.

It's easy to deal with facts and numbers several generations back, even documenting sad events like my Ogram ancestors who were so poor that their church parish in Yorkshire, England scraped together a few pounds to pay to ship them oversees to Canada to give them a chance to pull themselves out of poverty, or my poor ancestor Thaddeus Martin, who died at the county poor farm where his poverty-stricken family was forced to leave him as he was "insane".  Or brave Seth Higley, who had fought for freedom for the colonies in the Revolutionary War, but died with only a few sheep, a pot, and a spoon to his name, desperately needing a veteran pension from the young US government to sustain himself.

Though sad, these facts surrounding distance ancestors are interesting to unearth and make me proud of my heritage, like the success of the Ogram family in Ontario.  However, the passing of my grandfather a week and a half ago gives a new perspective to the art of family history.  Entering his date of death into my database was surreal. He was one of my biggest inspirations to pursue this research, my interest in family history definitely inspired by tales of his childhood.  He was always talking about his mother's family, the Tomlinsons.  I am very happy and thankful for all the new information I was able to share with him, and all the stories I was able to record before we lost him.

One of the last family secrets I was able to share with him was the following Tomlinson tale.  His grandparents were Laurence Tomlinson of Caro, MI and Rachel Brown of Ontario, near Kitchener.  We had always heard the family history of how she was brought from Ontario to Caro to keep house for Laurence's father, William Tomlinson.  Laurence married his father's housekeeper when he was just 18, and she was 30.  Her first child, Eva, was an eight month baby.  I had pictured the teenaged Laurence chasing the housekeeper around until he was finally old enough to take the plunge into marriage (or, perhaps, because he had gotten her pregnant).  They went on to have 3 more children, one of whom, Clifford, had died at age 1.  Then their fifth child was born in 1909, but both Rachel and the baby died during the birth.

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.

Rachel Brown Tomlinson

This was the story that had been passed down through the family and was supported by records.  Then one day, I had been conversing with a Brown family researcher from Saskatchewan and he asked about someone named "Emerson Brown".  Emerson was supposed to be the illegitimate child of Rachel, and it was assumed of Laurence as well.  He could be found living with Susannah Ogram Brown, Rachel's mother, in the 1901 Canadian census.  However, Laurence would've been only 13ish at the time of Emerson's birth in 1893/1894.  Also, Emerson was born in Ontario, and Laurence had been born in the US, with no hint of ever returning to live in Canada, where his father was from.  It made no sense that he would've impregnated Rachel, then the two make the trip back to Canada for Emerson's birth.

I asked my grandfather, and he had never heard of an Emerson.  Of course, babies born out of wedlock were very taboo at that time, so it's no surprise that it would've been kept a secret.  Emerson himself, I was told, was very ashamed of it, and the news only got out as a deathbed confession.  After some searching, I found an Emerson Brown, born to Robert and Mary Brown in Ontario, with the same birth date as Emerson's 1901 census record.  Bingo, I thought.  Emerson was actually the child of Rachel's brother, Robert.

Again, or so I thought.  I had responded a few month's previously to an inquiry on the Genforum message boards from someone who had descended from Laurence and Rachel.  Because my great grandmother had only given birth to my grandfather, and Eva never had children, he must be a descendant of Laurence's son, William Tomlinson.  Wrong.  Here was Emerson's grandson, sharing the deathbed confession that led me to believe, again, that Emerson must have been Rachel's first child.

I shared this again with my grandfather and aunts.  There was laughter and comments about "those Tomlinsons".  Although no one had heard of Emerson, no doubt the Tomlinson family was known to be, for lack of a better description, slightly wild.

My current working theory is that Emerson was the son of Rachel and William Tomlinson, father of Laurence.  However, Rachel's lone U.S. census record indicates she came to Michigan after Emerson's birth.  Whether this is actually true or not, I'm not sure.  I'd like to find some border crossing records to see if there is any indication of when Rachel actually came to live with the Tomlinson family.  Or, if there is some indication of any Tomlinsons returning to Canada around the time Emerson was conceived.

It's sad that societal pressures resulted in such a painful secret for Emerson, when really he and his family should have felt welcome in the Tomlinson family.  I've enjoyed connecting with yet another cousin, though, and here's hoping we'll be able to solve the mystery.

24 February 2013

Back at it

Well, the last few months have been busy to say the least.  Holidays, work, travel, and moving.  But now things are settling back down again, and I can get back to researching.  I've decided to push off finish up my website work in favor of doing more actual research, particularly cataloging the different records I've found while working on the website, but haven't put in my database.  I also am concentrating on some cousin connections, both through basic research and DNA connections.

Just a quick update for now...but I'll be working on updating more frequently as I spin my research back up and put off the website work for a while.