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.