Monday, September 28, 2009

Madness Monday: Heman Doyle

Heman Doyle has been one of my greatest mysteries since day one. Of all the brick wall ancestors I've encountered over the years, Heman Doyle is the thickest wall. In the decade that I've been doing genealogy research, he is about the only ancestor that I haven't found anything on. What is known:

* From a family history that I have, it says that he was born in Vermont on 31 Dec 1809. However, his tombstone says that he was born in 1811. On the 1880 census he says that his father was from Ireland and his mother was from Connecticut.

* He shows up in the Rochester, New York area in the late 1830s. Although, his wife, Alzina Jackman was from nearby Livonia, New York and their first child was born in New York in 1832 which leads me to believe that he was in the Rochester area by the early 1830s. I can't find him on the 1840 census, but he appears in a newspaper article from 1 July 1839 where it states he is living in Pittsford (an area of Rochester). For some reason he shows up in the 1850 census in Rochester, although he was already in California by then.

* He came to California in 1849 during the Gold Rush. He settled in the Placerville area but also lived in San Joaquin Co. and Douglas Co., Nevada. He was the first DA of Douglas Co. and also served as a justice of the peace, probate judge, court recorder and a court justice in Nevada as well as California.

*He died on 11 Sep 1881 in San Joaquin Co. from typhoid. His wife Alzina survived him as well as their eldest daughter (my ancestor), Mariah Adelaide Doyle Shinn. They also had daughter Rhoda Melissa in 1834 but I think she died young (is not with the family in the 1850 census) and daughter Frances P. who was born in 1837. Frances married and had a son, Frank Doyle Smith in 1857 before Frances died in 1869. After her death, Heman and Alzina raised little Frank.

*I don't think Alzina and Heman got along. In a few census records the two are in separate households and state that they are widowed even though that obviously wasn't the case. Alzina also stayed in New York after her husband went to California for four years. She made the trip to California in 1853 with her daughter, Mariah and grandson, Heman Doyle Shinn. In the Rochester city directories that she appears in during the period between Heman's departure and hers for California, she says that she is a widow.

I don't know anything about Heman's early life, like where he was born, who his parents were, why he came to New York or what year he was exactly born. Since his second daughter, Rhoda Melissa was at least partly named after Alzina's mother Rhoda, I think maybe the names Melissa, Mariah, Adelaide, Frances or Frances' middle initial P. might be named for a relative of Heman's but I've had no luck proving it so far.

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