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.