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.

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