Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Google Sites

When I first wanted to make a genealogy website I was intrigued by the fledgling Google Sites but was quickly turned off by its then many limitations (I think this was when it was in its early infancy) and migrated over to Rootsweb.  I got a freepages account and liked it at first but the WYSIWYG editor and indeed the wholes thing soon got overwhelming by how clunky and un-user friendly it seemed everything was.  I shouldn't complain because it was free and it was/is very generous of Rootsweb to give this web space out.   But... I've gone back to Google Sites.  I've been impressed with what Miriam has been able to do with her Google Site for online historical directories (a great resource by the way!) and it took about two minutes to see that Google Sites has come a long way from its early days.  I created a site and in two days have been able to accomplish what had been taking me two years to do on my freepages site.  Here are some quick  pros and cons:

  • PRO: If you have a Google account, it is super easy to get your site up and running - literally, one click.  If you don't have a Google account... wait, why don't you have a Google account?!
  • CON: Once you pick a template you're, for the most part stuck with it, though you can change the themes.  Be wary of some templates like the "Family" one.  I originally used it and try as I might, I couldn't get rid of the "Our Family" banner at the top.
  • PRO: It is very easy to create and edit pages and the whole thing requires ZERO knowledge of HTML and coding.
  • CON: Going back to the templates and themes, they aren't super impressive.  I begrudgingly picked the "Branches" theme and while I like the graphics, the vomit green color scheme isn't my first choice (you can change the background color, but I wasn't able to totally get rid of the green).
  • PRO: It is just as easy to change pages and remove them as it is to create them.
  • CON:  Your options when it comes to fonts seems to be pretty limited.
  • PRO: No obnoxious ads unless you want them, a rarity when it comes to free website options it seems.
  • CON: "" will be the beginning of your URL and there doesn't seem to be any way around it (though I think it is a small price to pay for free web space).
I have found Google Sites to be very easy to work with and best of all, no hair pulling or banging your head against a wall!  There are about fifty more pros I can think of off the top of my head but the ones above are the biggies (for me).  Oh, another big pro?  You can make your site invitation only and control who does and doesn't see it.  If you are interested in creating a Google Site, check out some of the videos here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

GeneaBlogger Book Club

I'm not announcing one, just suggesting it.  I can't count the number of times I want to ask someone about a genealogy or family history book and there is no one there (and the Amazon reviews rarely help).  I'm also frequently wondering what books would be really great in a particular area of research and again, there isn't anyone to ask.  Right now, I'm trying to brush up on military history (namely WWI and the American Civil War), not because it is an area of particular interest to me but because these were events my ancestors participated in and I don't know near enough about them, which I'm sure were life-altering experiences for my ancestors (one collected an invalid pension after the Civil War and the other was gassed so badly during WWI he spent the last years of his life wheelchair bound and died in his fifties).  I'm also trying to learn more about the history of the Michigan National Guard, the history of the Cumberland Gap region and obtaining vital records.  So maybe I'm not suggesting a "book club" but more of a discussion group where genealogists and family history enthusiasts can write book reviews and query each other on books that could be of aid. If there is already a place like this please let the secret out of the bag and tell me.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Crunching Morbid Statistics

Its easy to fall into the mindset of looking at my tree in terms of just names and dates the further back I go and more removed I am from those ancestors, though I try not to.  One thing that usually snaps me out of it is to crunch some of the more interesting statistics about them, like the post I did on the mothers in my tree.

Recently I was looking over some ancestors and I started to notice another interesting trend I wanted to pursue further.  Awhile back I mused over whether my great-great-grandparents, George Washington Wellons and Mary Anna Webb found each or at least bonded over the fact that each had lost a parent at an early age (both lost their mothers before they were thirteen).  That came to mind while looking over a portion of my tree and seeing that there were actually quite a few couples who had a parent die during their youth or early adulthood.  I started combing my tree and came up with the following couples in total (there are probably more that I don't know of, I am also excluding non-direct line couples):

George Stokes and Charlotte Shepstone
George lost his father when he was around 21, Charlotte was an orphan by about the age of ten.

George Washington Wellons and Mary Anna Webb
George lost his mother at 12, Mary Anna lost her mother as an infant.

Heman Doyle Shinn and Emma Sophia Tock
Heman lost his father at 13, Emma lost her mother at two.

John Scott and Ruth Hilton
John lost his mother a week after his ninth birthday, Ruth lost her mother when she was two.

Jacob Coles Mott and Mary Green Smith
Jacob lost his father at ten, Mary lost her father around 15.

Amos Hilton and Mary Lee
Amos lost his father around the age of two, Mary lost her father five days after her 16th birthday.

That's six couples and I didn't even look further back than 1700 and I have parts of my tree with major holes in them where I also could probably find one or two more couples.  The interesting part is that the ancestors who lost a parent young were more likely to marry someone else who had also lost a parent young than not.  I don't know if this speaks more to the mortality rate pre-1900 or of something else.  I certainly think those couples must have found comfort in each other through their shared early sorrow and I wonder if it was something that helped bring them together.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Transcription: Mott Memoir, Part 8

For previous entries, click here.

"It was a great task to prepare us for such a long voyage.  We had to have enough clothes to last five months, without washing.  At that time all the sewing was by hand and there was no ready made things, as at present.  Anne the woman who lived with us in New Jersey was in New York now taking care of her old mother, she seemed to have a feeling of affection for Evy and myself and sometimes came to see us.  As she was a good seamstress as well as a cook.  Aunt Clara of ten gave her plain sewing to do, so now she was sent for and given the task of making the underclothes.  It was was not decided yet when we were to sail but it would take sometime to make so many things.  The dresses were made by a dressmaker.  There had to be a variety of these as we would pass through such different climates as the Tropics and Cape Horn.

We spent part of our last Eastern summer in the town of Orange at a boardinghouse where our Grandmother and Aunt Lottie, who had a two month old baby, were staying.  Nothing very exciting happened there.  Evy and I arranged some tableauxs one evening that seemed to amuse the other boarders.

About the first of October, Captain Brewer in whose care we were to be during the voyage, wrote that the Samoset, the ship we were to sail in would be ready to sail before the end of the month so the packing and all preparations should be finished that we might be ready to start at short notice.  I remember well what an excitement there was.  There were four large chests to be packed with the clothes for the voyage beside a trunk for the nice dresses we were to wear in Honolulu, a box for the new bonnets and our books, music and all our belongings to be gathered together and packed.  I don't remember now who did the work but Aunt Clara had all the responsibility. 

We were going to Honolulu first and our mother was to meet us there.  Though peace was declared and our father and his family had returned to Mazatlan and there was so much bad feelings against the American he thought it better to send our mother and the children away for awhile. 

The days passed, the trunks were all packed, everything was ready.  The day before we left we went in a carriage to bid our friends goodbye.  We stopped at the school during the lunch hour to see the teachers and girls the last time.  Mr. Tappen came to the house that evening and talked to us for awhile in a most kind and friendly way.  When leaving he laid his hand on my head and prayed we might be safe on our long journey.  People now days might think this affected but no one who knew him could think so, he was a good kind man and I like to remember that benediction. 

The ship sailed from Boston so we were obliged to leave New York the day before.  We left just after the family were assembled in the parlor, even our grandmother came so early to see us for the last time.  Aunt Lottie, Emmy and dear Rosie were all there.  My last remembrance of Aunt Clara is of her kissing me with tears running down her face.  She had been very kind to us, but I think she must have felt relieved after we were safely gone, we must have been a great responsibility.

Uncle Dymock and Anne accompanied us to Boston.  We took our last look at New York from the deck of a steamboat and that chapter of our life was closed.  We were most of the night on the boat.  I shed many tears on my pillow as I thought of the kind friends I was leaving but most of all I grieved for Rosie as I thought I might never see her again.  I never did.

We left the boat so early in the morning it was still dark, and took the steamer cars for the city.  By the time we arrived there it was quite light.  Uncle Dymock put us with Anne in a carriage and we were taken to the house of Mr. Pierce, one of the owners of the Samoset.  His wife a charming lady received us most kindly, took us to a pretty bedroom where we could wash and brush our hair and then conducted us to the dining room where breakfast was ready.  We did not expect to sail till late that day but we had hardly finished breakfast when a messenger came to say we must go aboard at once as the ship would leave very soon, so we bid our kind hostess goodbye and were taken to the dock.  Uncle Dymock and Anne went on board with us.  Uncle Dymock introduced us to Captain Brewer who was to be our guardian for the voyage.  Soon came the order "All Ashore" Uncle Dymock and Anne kissed us goodbye and went over the side to the dock where a small crowd had assembled to see the ship leave.  There a fluttering of handkerchiefs and waving of the hats as we moved slowly away.  Our voyage was begun and an entirely new life lay before us."

Surname Saturday: Shinn

1. Me

2. and 3. My parents

6. and 7. My maternal grandparents

12. Elmer John Shinn
B. 5 Sep 1877, San Joaquin, California; 9 July 1946, San Joaquin, California
13. Gladys Viola Healey
B. 3 Oct 1898, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA; D. 21 Dec 1998, Lodi, San Joaquin, CA

24. Heman Doyle Shinn
B. 8 Dec 1853, New Jersey; D. 4 July 1928, San Joaquin, California
25. Emma Sophia Tock
B. 27 Jan, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada; D. 11 April 1928, San Joaquin, CA

48. John R. Shinn
B. 21 April 1823, Burlington Co., New Jersey; D. 29 Oct 1867, San Joaquin Co., California
49. Mariah Adelaide Doyle
B. 10 Oct 1832, Rochester, Monroe, New York; D. July 1917, San Joaquin Co., CA

John R. Shinn's parents were John Shinn and Elizabeth Asay of Burlington Co., New Jersey.  It is from this point on that the family is documented in the book The History of the Shinn Family in Europe and America.  I have a copy of the book and am willing to do look-ups in it, you can also find it online in various places in its entirety.

Sources available upon request.  Contact me if you think we might be related or if you have further information on any of the people mentioned in this post.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Transcription: Mott Memoir, Part 7

For previous entries, click here.

"We soon heard about William [Holly] having small pox at a boarding house in New York.  All the boarders were frightened and no one would go near him.  (I suppose there were not many nurses at that time.) except a young Frenchman who came to his room and took care of him.  After William recovered his family were very grateful to this young man whose was Eugen Lies.  Mr. Holly always came to the farm Saturday and remained over Sunday.  On one of these visits he brought Mr. Lies and introduced him to his family, who of course were anxious to show him every attention as possible.  One Saturday after our arrival Emma said her father would bring Mr. Lies with him that evening.  She seemed anxious to have everything in good order and that we should be nicely dressed before they came.  I was curious to see this wonderful person as I had heard so much about him.  After Clara and I were dressed we walked down the road to meet the wagon, as it came in sight on the seat beside Mr. Holly was a dark haired young man holding a guitar with a broad blue ribbon passed over his shoulder, when we came into the house it was twilight and the parlor was nearly dark.  As we sat there I watched this strange young man in a kind of fascinated way, his eyes were so black and brilliant they seemed to shine through the dusk and a sensation of fear came over me.  We became very good friends the next day.  I admired him greatly, he was so different from anyone I had ever seen before.  His French accent, his manners and his looks and most of all his singing with the guitar made him seem to me like a hero from a novel and for some reason that I do not understand myself he took a great fancy to me.  He told me many years afterwards that he was really very fond of me then and had never forgotten me.

He spent several Sundays on the farm while we were there and I soon noticed that he and Emma were much interested in each other.  Sometimes he sat on a low stool by her feet while she was sewing and sang Kathleen Mavourneen and other sentimental songs with his guitar.  His voice though not very sweet was well trained and agreeable and his ear was perfect.  Though so young I had read several novels and I felt as if some romance was being acted out before me.  Poor Emma.  She made quite a pet of me but I wonder how she would have felt if something had told her how short her married life would be and that I should be her successor.  How little idea any of us had then what fate would bring us.

When it was time for the school term to commence we were obliged to return to New York.  We left the farm and all our kind friends with much regret.  It had been the most pleasant vacation we had spent and I still think of that summer as being one of the most happiest periods of my life.  After our return Mr. Lies called to bid us goodbye s the Prebble on which he had the position of captain's secretary was to sail shortly.  No one could know that we were to meet again in California.

When we returned to school I was nearly twelve and in the highest class and looked forward to the next year when I should be promoted to the high under Mr. Tappen's supervision.  By that time I would be thirteen and if I passed through the three classes there as well as had the others I might graduate at sixteen.

But before the term was over our father wrote that owing to losses caused by the Mexican War he would be unable to continue paying our school bills so we could not begin the next term and it was very uncertain when he could return, he wished us to join him in Mexico by the first good opportunity.  I was dreadfully disappointed by having to leave school so young.  Our mother having been away for such a long time I was accustomed to being without her.  I had grown up to Evy in some degree so she was more of a companion and I was very fond of Rosie also, I was sorry to stop the music lessons.  We had been taking lessons at intervals since we came to New York but there had been many interruptions.  The first teachers we had were young ladies with little experience and my long illness kept me back so our lessons were very irregular, but when I was strong again we had a very nice young gentleman for a teacher and I improved rapidly.  Evy did not care much for music, she preferred drawing but I loved it and our teacher told Aunt Clara I had much musical ability and if I kept on studying would play very well, I was so pleases I practiced carefully and was proud when called on to play for company.  If I could have gone on with my lessons for two or three years I would have played well by the time I grew up.  This seems conceited but I have longed so often to play really well, it is some consolation to know I could have done so but I was only twelve when I left off and never had a teacher again until after I was married.  I improved then but I could not keep it up.  There were too many babies.

We spent out last Eastern Christmas with the Hollys.  The farm was white with snow, the cherries and peaches were gone but there was plenty of apples and nuts and when we sat around a blazing wood fire in the open fire place in the evening and roasted apples and chestnuts we enjoyed ourselves very much.  Though the ground was covered with snow the sky was clear and Clara and I amused ourselves building snow houses.  It was very cold but we did not mind, we kept ourselves warm by working hard.  But it was an unfortunate visit for poor Evy.  She caught a cold which developed later into inflammation of the lungs and at last into a disease from which she never recovered.  That Christmas was the last time we saw any of the Hollys.  After we left New York Mr. Holly retrieved his fortunes in some way and moved his family back to the city.  Gus became a successful business man and a very rich one before he died at the advanced age of eighty.  I have said very little about Evy.  She grew up so young that for awhile she was shy and awkward, but she had a gently amiable disposition.  She was sixteen now and would have been very pretty if she had not been so near sighted that her eyes had a peculiar look and she was obliged to wear glasses.  She was tall with a slender well formed figure and delicate regular features.  Her skin was white and her hair dark though her eyes were blue.  She was seriously ill for sometime after we returned to New York.  Though she became apparently better and went about as usual she had a slight cough but the Doctor thought the sea air would be the best remedy and she would probably be quite well again. 

Sometime during the spring our cousin Rosalie was married to Henry Wilbur, a handsome young man to whom she had been engaged for quite awhile.  They went away for a time and I was sorry to lose my dear Rosie, but she returned before we left, so I was able to bid her a last goodbye."

Transcription: Mott Memoir, Part 6

For previous entries, click here.

"She [Essie's aunt, Clara Dymock] had a three story basement house with a large yard where the children could play.  We were very comfortable there.  Aunt Mary Ann Feeks, always called Auntie, and Rosalie lived there also.  I was happy to have Rosalie with us as I loved her better than anyone.  We were a large family, ten all together.  Aunt Clara had four little girls under seven years but for all there were so many we lived very peaceably.  Aunt Clara was a pleasant woman, I do not remember hearing her say anything cross or unkind, during the two years we lived with her.  She was quite pretty in a different way from Aunt Emmie.  She had more color and was stouter.  Uncle Dymock was a tall fine looking man and very kind to his wife and children.  I had no idea that at times he was intemperate.  He showed no sign of that while we were there.  He was a bookkeeper in a wholesale leather company and apparently doing well.  I heard afterwards when we were in California that he relapsed and poor Aunt Clara was in much trouble.

When the next vacation came we went to Long Island with Cousin Rose.  When we crossed the sound in a steamer the wind blew so hard and the sea was so rough we had to stay in the cabin and we were nearly sea sick.  We were glad to reach the landing.  We stayed at a pretty house belonging to William Feeks, Rosie's Uncle.  There was an old blind lady sitting in an arm chair, she was pretty with a sweet expression.  When someone said these are Isaac's children, she wanted to see us.  I went to her and she passed her hands softly over my face.  Poor old lady.  I wonder who she was, she was probably Mr. Feek's mother.  There were several other persons in the house.  Everyone was kind and pleasant and I was enjoying myself very well until one day we picked blackberries and I ate too many or perhaps they were not ripe enough.  I was taken ill that night, I was in bed several days and poor Rose had to take care of me instead of amusing herself.  When I was able to go out Uncle George came with a carriage and a cream colored pair of ponies that I admired excessively and took us to another part of Long Island where the Holly family were living at that time.  We stayed with them until we returned to New York.  We resumed our school duties and both made good progress, Evy was now in the highest department and I in the next.

Sometimes one of our Mott cousins would come in their carriage on a Saturday afternoon on a Saturday afternoon and take us to Bloomingdale.  We always enjoyed these visits.  They had such a pretty quaint old house on the banks of the Hudson river with a summer house built almost over the water where sometimes we had tea.  At the side of the house was a large garden with flowers and fruit.  When we came home on Monday morning we often had a large bunch of flowers with us.

There were five young men in the family, the only girl having died some years before.  Our Great Aunt Lavinia was a gentle sweet mannered old lady, so little it seemed strange to think those young men were her sons.  Jordan was the one we were best acquainted with, he was a pleasant good natured young man and sometimes took us to the dancing school balls.  The school we attended was considered the best in New York at that time.  It was kept by a Frenchman with a queer name that I cannot spell. Twice a month during the winter he had evening dances, some for the children and some for the older pupils.  Naturally Cousin Jordan preferred the evenings when the ladies came.  I wonder now how he found partners for such a little girl but he managed to somehow for I danced all the time.  These dancing school balls were a good experience for me.  I became so used to dancing with grown people that in Honolulu where I attended parties while still a child, I was not the least embarrassed.

My Grandmother's brother Great Uncle Smith [George Bridges Rodney Smith] was an agent for old Jacob Astor's property.  It must have been a profitable business for he had a handsome house with large grounds at Chelsea, which was then a suburb of New York.  I went there sometimes with my Grandmother.  Aunt Johana seemed a pleasant old lady.

Every May each class in our school choose a May Queen, the one chosen gave a party at her house to which all the class were invited.  We always selected someone who had a large house and whose parents would allow her to have a party.  One year the girl we chose was named Fairbanks.  Their house was large and handsomely furnished.  Sitting in the reception room was an odd looking man who watched us and seemed pleased and interested like a big child.  I heard afterwards, he was an imbecile son of Mr. Astor, Mr. Fairbanks had charge of him.  The house with a large salary were a compensation from Mr. Astor.

When our next vacation came it was arranged that we should go to Westchester where Mr. Holly's family were living on a farm.  I have no doubt now that our father paid our board but at that time I gave no thought to such matters.  I was glad to go and thought it very kind of them to ask us.  We went on the cars to some station where one of the Holly boys met us with a wagon and drove us to the house.  Aunt Holly was considerably older than our mother.  She had been considered quite a beauty when young and was a handsome woman still.  Mr. Holly and the elder son William did not live on the farm, but in New York where their business was.  They were both lawyers by profession but Mr. Holly was fond of speculating and in one of his schemes lost most of his money and as I understood in the late years some that belonged to other members of the family which accounts, I suppose for the estrangement I noticed before.  The family at the farm were Emma, about 25, the twins Augustus and Frederick just 21, Clara exactly my own age, nearly 12 and Charles, about 7.  Emma was an elegant interesting girl, tall and slender with  clear white skin and dark hair and eyes.  She was well educated and accomplished, as young ladies were expected to be in those days.  Both she and her mother looked out of the place on a farm but they were capable and energetic, keeping the house in fine order.  There was an Irish girl to do the rough work but Aunt Holly made the pies and cakes and Emma superintended the rooms and made the younger ones keep everything in its place.  The twins managed the farm.  They were nice well mannered young men.  I was particularly partial to Gus as he was called.  He was so good natured and quite handsome too.  Clara and I were good companions and ran around together all day.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Transcription: Mott Memoir, Part 5

For previous entries, click here.

"I enjoyed this voyage on the canal extremely, particularly going up and down on the locks.  I might not have done so if I had been older but I was not ten years old and the primitive arrangements that would seem very uncomfortable now only amused me.  We went through the Mohawk Valley part of the time.  The scenery there was very beautiful.  I can still recall the high banks covered with green bushes and wild flowers and rivulets of sparkling water running  through them.  Of course our progress was very slow.  We passed two days and nights on the boat before we reached Rochester as we remained there only a few hours.  We went to a hotel and from there took some kind of a coach.  There was only one other passenger who looked like a farmer.  The road was very rough and the springs of the coach poor and we bounced and rattled about so it is a wonder none of our bones were broken.  At last we reached a place where Uncle Fred met us with a wagon and took us to his house.  I don't know much about the farm.  There was plenty of fruit and milk and the house was comfortable.  Aunt Evy had two children then.  Willie, who was about six and a baby boy who died very young.  We remained at the farm for school to re-open and came back by canal and train until we reached New York.  We resumed our school life and everything went on quietly for awhile.  Our Grandmother taught me to knit for which I am often thankful for and also to work on canvas with worsted.  To encourage me she said I could make a pair of slippers for my little brother when I could work nicely.  I was much pleased with the idea and started to begin the slippers until we heard of the dear little boy's death at sea.  I was much distressed at first but I was so young I soon forgot him.

When ten years old [ca. 1845], while still living with my Grandmother I had an adventure that made such an impression on my mind I sometimes dream of it even so many years after.

A little girl in my class at school asked me to come to her house and spend the afternoon with her.  My Grandmother said I might go and she would send for me when it was time to come home.  The next day I went with the girl, there were some other children there and we played and had some candy, I enjoyed it very much.  By and by it began to rain and grow dark.  The other girls went home but no one came for me and I was very much troubled.  I thought perhaps my Grandmother had forgotten to send for me and the girl's mother would think it strange if I stayed so long.  I was so foolish that instead of explaining that I was waiting for some on and did not know the way very well, I said I must go home.  The lady lent me an umbrella and I started off by myself.  After going a little way I became bewildered, I did not know where I was.  The wind blew so hard I could hardly hold the umbrella.  The people who passed were in a hurry on account of the rain.  I tried to ask someone to direct me but no one paid any attention.  At last I went into a dry goods store that was open and asked one of the clerks the way to 6th avenue.  He told me to walk on two blocks more and I would come to it.  I started off again but when I came to the avenue,  I turned the wrong way.  I walked on and on but every step took me further in the wrong direction.  I kept looking for the big Catholic Church that was opposite my Grandmother's house but I could not see it and I soon realized that I was lost again.  The streets were quite deserted, I saw nothing but rows of houses with the blinds closed.  I was very tired and frightened, I did not know what to do, when an Angel of Mercy, in the guise of an old Irish lady came out of an area door to empty a pan of ashes.  I told her I was lost and asked how to find my way.  I did not remember the number but when I said it was opposite St. Joseph's Church she said she was going there her self and I could go with her.  She went in for her bonnet and shawl and in her company I reached my Grandmother's safely.  I found that Uncle John had gone for me and if I had stayed I would have had no trouble.  I was so tired my Grandmother did not scold me but gave me some tea and sent me to bed.

Captain John Patterson had been engaged to Aunt Lottie for some time and now for some reason that I do not know, though she had consented to the engagement, Grandmother wished Aunt Lottie to break it, and would not allow the marriage.  In spite of her opposition Captain Patterson came to see Aunt Lottie every evening.  We used the back parlor as a general sitting room but Aunt Lottie always took him into the front room.  Her mother did not want her to see him alone and would not go in her self so her decreed that I should stay in the room with them, I did not want to, but I had to obey.  I took a book and pretended to read but probably thought it more interesting to watch them for Aunt Lottie said to me the next day, "I wish you would not stare at us so.  I think it would be a good time for you to practice."  I had begun to take music lessons so after that I sat at the piano with my back to them and could not hear what they said.  I think Uncle John must have wanted to throw me out of the window.  One day they went off quietly and were married.  Aunt Lottie came back to the house as usual.  When she told what she had done her mother was not as angry as might have been expected but said the ceremony must be repeated in her house to make it more respectable, so one afternoon with a few relations present they were married over again and went to the farm in New Jersey for their honeymoon, Uncle John made a very good husband.  He was over seventy when he died and Aunt Lottie said he had never spoken an unkind word to her.

Not long after this it was decided by our elders that it would be better to have us live with Aunt Clara Dymock.  I did not understand why, nor how it was arranged but the change was made.  I was pleased because I could play with Aunt Clara's children.  They were all younger than I, but they were better than nobody."

Transcription: Mott Memoir, Part 4

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

I took a break from Estrella's memoir but hope to finish it before too long though I have a ways to go:

School Days, Part 1:
"When the school term commenced I entered into an entirely new life.  Even my name was changed.  In New Jersey I had been called Charlie for Charlotte, now I was Essie from Estrella.  I could not be Charlie in school and as Aunt Lottie was living with us they did not want another Lottie so Essie I became.  I was now nearly nine years old but thanks to my Mother's teaching was able to enter a class of girls of my age.  I was shy and nervous at first, but when I became used to the teachers and the school routine and friendly with the girls I was much interested and very ambitious to be perfect in my lessons and head of the class.  Before long I succeeded in gaining that coveted position and keeping it most all the time.  When I was sick and had to be absent I had to go to the foot and work up again.  Unfortunately I was often sick.  I had inflamed eyes and could not look at a book for quite awhile.  I had the measles and the mumps and when about eleven years old the typhoid fever.  I was very ill then and when I went back to school could only stay for half a day for some time until I was quite strong again.  But in spite of these set-backs I obtained the prize one year, much to my surprise.

The school we attended numbered about 120 girls.  This seems small compared with the big public schools of this time, but it was one of the largest girls schools in New York.  The principal Rev. Henry P. Tappen was a man eminently suited for his position.  He possessed a combination of dignity and kindliness that won the respect and love of all his pupils from the little girls in the primary to the young ladies preparing to graduate.  The teachers were pleasant lady like women.  I was happy there and very sorry when obliged to leave.

When the first summer vacation came our Grandmother decided to visit he daughter Emeline Mayer [daughter of Mary Green Smith and Jacob Coles Mott, Emeline Laura Mott was married to Frederick Mayer] and take Evy and me with her.  Uncle Fred Mayer was the son of a Lutheran Minister living in Albany.  Uncle Fred had recently taken a farm in Western New York and moved his family there.  We went first to Saratoga, Uncle Thomas Smith, our Grandmother's brother and his wife accompanied us.  We went on the Hudson river boat to Troy and then by train to the Springs.  We stayed a week at the Family Hotel where people with children were received.  I enjoyed myself very much, the other children were friendly and there was plenty of room in the large grounds for us to play but Evy was one of those unfortunate girls who grow up so young there does not seem to be any place for them.  She was too tall to go with the children and too young, only thirteen, to associate with the ladies and I fear she did not find much pleasure in our visit to the Springs.

Uncle Thomas and his wife remained at Saratoga when we went on our travels further west.  We took the cars to some place that I do not remember and from there the canal boats.  Grandmother made a mistake and went on a freight boat instead of the one for passengers.  A man on the wharf told her it was the wrong boat but she would not listen, she was always determined to have her own way.  We had not gone far before she saw it was wrong.  There were no accommodations for passengers.  The little cabin was filled with bunks for the men.  There was a small space at one end with a curtain across and some little bunks where we slept that night.  When we went to supper we had to walk over the roof of the cabin and down some steps into a hot dingy place where a table was set.  We had some yellow biscuits that tasted of soda and a black-berry pie.  I do not remember what else, but the pie made me very ill that night so I had cause to remember it.  The next day we left the boat at the first landing place and waited at a hotel for the regular passenger boat, which was much larger.  It had a long cabin with tiers of berths down each side, three in a row.  At meal times a long table was set down the middle of the cabin, when the dishes were taken away the boards were taken out and the table reduced to a smaller size.  The only place to sit outside was on top of the cabin which had a railing round the edge and wooden benches.  Sometimes we went under bridges, if the bridge was low a man called out Low Bridge and the people on the roof were obliged to throw themselves down on their faces to avoid being struck.  Evy and I often sat on the roof and sometimes our Grandmother also, I thought it very funny to see everyone go down, even out dignified Grandmother. 

There were quite a number of passengers on board.  One night there were so many they could not all have berths.  We had ours secured, mine was the upper one, I climbed into it and watched with interest and I fear amusement, the unlucky women who had to sleep on the floor.  The poor chamber maid, who was quite young and pretty, brought all the pillows and blankets she could find but some of the women found fault and quarreled with each other.  The men's end of the cabin was divided from ours by a heavy curtain, they could not see us but they could hear.  One woman was scolding and talking very loudly when a man called out "Hello Sue, what's the row?  take care you don't roll under the curtain." "

Monday, March 22, 2010

When Can I Get Off This Ride?!

So the never ending story of trying to locate John Berger's pension file has yet another new chapter.  Here is the saga thus far:
  • As you may recall, I submitted my order to NARA in November 2009 (November 6th to be precise).  Then I waited patiently, as you do.
  • February 1st rolls around and, hey, still no pension.  Starting to get a little worried...
  • Valentine's Day goes by and guess what? No pension.
  • I finally contacted NARA at the end of the month (after 16 weeks had passed) and got a very prompt reply.  They had lost my order.
  • My order got fast tracked after this and a week later I got a letter in the mail from NARA stating that while they should have his file, they didn't.  They have all closed files (meaning no one was collecting on them any more) before 1929.  John's widow, Susanna collected on his pension after his death and didn't die until 1932, I think that's why NARA didn't have it.
  • So I wrote a letter to Veterans Affairs (as I was instructed to do).
  • About a week later, I get a postcard in the mail from them saying that I wasn't a government threat and that they could release the pension file to me once they find it.
  • Today, I got a letter from them.  They don't have it.
  • So, now I'm officially Baltimore's problem.  Yes, I said Baltimore.  That's where they sent my request.  Why, I have no idea.  John never lived in Baltimore, never even had anything to do with Maryland.  I had been told that if the main VA center didn't have a record you'd be sent to the VA records center closest to where the person died (which, for John would be the VA records center closest to Oakland, California) yet this doesn't seem to be the case.
  • Oh, and even more troubling:  The letter spelled his name "John Berge."
I need a big piece of chocolate and a hug.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Political Scandal in 1854, Revisited

I forgot that Heman is often misspelled and mistranscribed as "Herman" among other alternative spellings (which is why he has always been so hard to find in the census).  So, I plugged in "Herman Doyle" and I think I finally got the answer I'd been looking for (what happened to Heman after he was charged and arrested for bribery).  From the Sacramento Daily Union, 27 March 1875:

"...Herman Doyle - now of Ormsby County, Nevada - was Wallace's successor.  Doyle, in 1857, was a member of the Assembly of California.  At that session there was a spirited contest for United States Senator, and Doyle was reported to have been offered, while on his way from Sacramento to Placerville, a large sum of money to vote for a certain candidate.  He "blowed" on the parties or it leaked out and much scandal and newspaper comment was the result."
So apparently, Heman got by pretty unscathed and from the tone of the article, it was all just a big misunderstanding (???).  I'd like to think he was innocent of the charges and it all was just a misunderstanding, but the articles from time don't mesh well with what is being presented above.  In any case, Heman wasn't run out of public office because of it.

The article did get two things wrong though which is worth pointing out.  For one, it was in 1854 not 1857 and for another, he never (to my knowledge) was a California State Assemblyman.  The Wallace mentioned was a Justice of the Peace in Placerville and apparently (according to the article), Heman was his successor.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Surname Saturday: Allen

1. Me

2. and 3. My parents

4. and 5. My paternal grandparents

8. Joseph James Allen
B. 7 April 1891, Wyman/Edmore, Montcalm, Michigan; D. Unk., bet. 1945 - 1955, prob. in Jackson, MI
9. Daisy Mae Croad
B. 6 Nov 1896, Lakeview, Montcalm, MI; D. 24 June 1990, Pinellas Co., FL (prob. Dunedin)

16. John Grant Allen
B. 18 May 1869, Niles, Trumbull, OH; D. 27 Sep 1955, Parma, Jackson, MI
17. Marion Wood
B. Feb 1871, Summit, Jackson, MI; D. Bet. 1945 - 1955, prob. in Manistee, Manistee, MI

32. Joseph Allen
B. ca. 1824, Ireland or Scotland; D. bet. 1880 - 1900, prob. in Trumbull Co., OH
33. Elizabeth Clements
B. ca. 1827, Ireland; D. bet. 1870 - 1880, prob. in Trumbull Co., OH

So, um, yeah.  That's it.  The saddest part is that it has taken years just to get this far with this line... ho hum.

Sources available upon request.  Contact me if you are connected to this family or think you have further information on any of the people mentioned in this post.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Political Scandal in 1854, Part 2

It is interesting to note that the State Journal was far harsher on Heman's alleged crime than his local paper, the Daily Placer Times and Transcript (page 2, dated 6 March 1854):
More alleged bribery - We publish from an extra of the State Journal, issued on Saturday, an address to the people of El Dorado, from Messrs. Hall and Livermore, of the Senate, charging that they were sought to be bribed to vote against a Senatorial election this winter, by Heman Doyle, Esq., one of their constituents.  The particulars will be found in the address itself.  As Mr. Doyle is a prominent an responsible citizen of El Dorado, and well known to a large acquaintance, he will doubtless take an early opportunity to respond to the charges proffered.  Until we see the other side, we do not deem it necessary to comment upon the matter, especially in view of the crowded state of our columns.
Indeed, Heman did respond on 9 March 1854 (Daily Placer Times and Transcript, page 2 - from the Mountain Democrat):
To the public - a card has recently made its appearance over the signatures of Senators Hall and Livermore, endorsed by seven of the Assemblymen of El Dorado, in which I am charged with having offered a bribe to the Senators to vote for the postponement of the Senatorial election, or to resign their seats in the State Senate, and also to exert their influence to secure the co-operation of the El Dorado delegates in the Assembly.  These are grave charges, and if true, deserve and doubtless will receive that punishment the offence so well merits.  Senators occupying high and honorable positions are said to have been approached.  If true, their honor has been attacked and the dignity of the State invaded.  Justice to those Senators, and a proper regard for the Senate, demand an investigation of the charge, and that I meted out to me the punishment my offence so much deserves.  Until that time I occupy the position of a criminal stained by the commission of crime, which, if true, must pollute me the remainder of my life.  In such a position, it would be improper for me to attempt to prejudice the public mind in my favor.  It is enough for me to say, that I am ready and anxious for that investigation.  I have not fled from the eye of offended justice, but I am here, ready to obey with alacrity the first mandate  of the Senate, to answer to the crime charged.  Honor demands at the hands of those Senators that it should be investigated.  Doubtless they will require it; until then, I ask an impartial public to suspend their judgement - hear the facts - then decide between me and my accusers.  You can then determine whether I am that guilty man, recking with crime, and whether others pass unscathed the ordeal that awaits them.  If this investigation is not demanded by the Senators,  will then give the world the facts as they are.  Then judge between us. -- H. DOYLE.
The same day, a warrant for his arrest was issued (Daily Democratic State Journal, 9 March 1854, page 2):
THE LATE BRIBERY CASE - Heman Doyle, Esq., J.P. of the county of El Dorado, charged with attempting to bribe that portion of his own delegation in favor of the Senatorial election, and for whose arrest a warrant has already been issued, has published a card in which, while not denying any portions of the charge, he asks an "impartial public to suspend its opinion" before deciding between him and his accusers.  An investigation of the subject will doubtless be had before the Senate as soon as Mr. Doyle can be arrested, or whenever he will deliver himself up.
Unfortunately, this is where the case goes cold (for me).  I haven't been able to find out what happened next in any newspaper articles, but I think Heman came through fairly unscathed since his most prominent years were still ahead of him.  He did leave California a year or two after the ordeal and spent most of the 1860s in Nevada.  He eventually came back to California and settled in San Joaquin Co. where he alternated between private practice and Justice of the Peace.  He died in 1881 and is buried in Woodbridge Masonic Cemetery.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Political Scandal in 1854, Part 1

Heman Doyle was my 4th great-grandfather.  He was born in Vermont but the first official record of him is in the Rochester, New York area.  He was a lawyer and when news of the Gold Rush in California he packed up and left to head west with his future son-in-law.  Once in California, he also practiced law and became DA for Carson Valley, Nevada (supposedly their first).  Its funny, though, that the legal scandal he was embroiled in in 1854 was never mentioned in the family stories:

From page 2 of the Daily Democratic State Journal, dated 6 March 1854.
We learn that legal proceedings have been commenced against Heman Doyle, Esq., associate Justice of the Court of Sessions of El Dorado, charged with an attempt to bribe and corrupt a portion of the Senators from that county, with a view to procure them to vote against the elections of an US Senator at the present session of the Legislature.  The investigations will probably show to the satisfaction of the public where the money comes from that is being so freely used to postpone the election.
For a firmer idea of what exactly was going on, here is another article from the same paper, same day:

$10,000 each for Senators, and $2,000 for Assemblymen!

The following statement of facts, to which responsible names are signed, will astound the public. That bribery and corruption have been used by the opponents of the Senatorial Election, to purchase its defeat at the present session of the Legislature, is a fact which, however much it has been heretofore doubted, can no longer be denied. No means have been too base, no appliances too servile to be used for the accomplishment of their nefarious ends. The opponents of the election have been boasting for a week past that a bomb shell would shortly be thrown into the ranks of the true Democracy which would shatter them to atoms.

They have even circulated in San Francisco on yesterday and day before that Senators Hall and Livermore, of El Dorado, had resigned their seats, in anticipation, we presume, of what they excepted. They have made boasts of their approaching strength, without stating the means by which it was attained. Those means, we think, will now be evident to the public. Read and consider.

The further developments of this outrage upon the honor and integrity of the Legislature, will bring to light the cause of the recent summer-sault of some other members of that body:

To the people of El Dorado:

The undersigned, impelled by a sentiment of self-respect and public duty, feel called upon to present you the following statement of facts, involving their reputation and deportment, relative to an important matter pending in the Legislature of this State.
Public sentiment in California has never been so intensely excited, nor has the rancour of party spirit ever been so violently directed to any subject before, as to the Senatorial election the present session of the Legislature.
All that malignity can suggest, or ingenuity invent, has been exerted to influence popular will and control individual conduct, even to the destruction and utter ruin of private character.
Crimination and recrimination have perhaps, to a certain extent, characterized both the advocates and opponents of the Election, and the constituency of the county have been taught to look with distrust and suspicion upon the Representative.
To such degree does this exist, that every consideration of self-respect and patriotic duty induce us in this public manner to make an expose of the means employed by those who oppose us in opinion, in order to control our conduct: -
At Benicia, on Thursday the 22nd ult., a prominent citizen of El Dorado county, a Magistrate and associate Justice of the Court of Sessions, Heman Doyle, Esq., sought and interview with the undersigned.  He represented that his visit to Benicia was with special reference to a consultation with the El Dorado Delegation upon the subject of the Senatorial election, and that he desired more particularly to secure the complacency of the undersigned, and through us to influence our Delegates in the Assembly.
The inducement of political preferment as well as pecuniary compensation, were offered to us, conditioned that we would vote for the postponement of the Senatorial Election, or that we should resign our seats in the State Senate; and that our influence should be exerted to secure the co-operation of our colleagues in the Assembly.  To one of the undersigned the sum of ten thousand dollars was offered, the other was authorised to "name his price," while two thousand dollars was the consideration for each Assemblyman.
Prudential motives suggest the suppression of the first and natural impulse to reject and expose this nefarious and insolent assault upon our honor, until an opportunity could be had for doing so with such an array of proof and testimony that should carry conviction to every mind, and not only vindicate ourselves from any charge or mercenary and selfish legislation, but acquit the party with which we are affiliated, and fix upon them to whom it properly belongs, the odium of corrupt and unholy efforts to control the legislature of this State.
To this end, on the day when the proposition was made to use, we conferred with Hon. S.A. McMeans and others of Benicia, and corresponded with R.M. Anderson of Placerville, upon a proper line of conduct to pursue.
Apparent friendly relations were maintained with Doyle, his associations and affinities were strictly observed, until finally he was induced to make a full and complete statement to disinterested persons, outside of the legislature, and one of whom is a distinguished and ardent opponent of the Election this session.
This statement was made in Placerville on the night of the 2nd instant, before Robert M. Anderson and John O'Donnel, and was minute, even to the mention of the most trifling details of the conspiracy, except the mention of the names of the persons from whom the money consideration was obtained.  It was at this interview, for the first time, that Doyle, was told his corrupt proposition had been entertained thus far, for the purpose only of complete exposure on the one hand, and upon the other, to vindicate that portion of the El Dorado delegation who favored an election of US Senator this winter.
With reference to Doyle's coadjutors, we can only say, that while we are unable to name them, they are indicated by the strongest, clearest, and most incontestable circumstantial evidence.
We have only to add, that on the evening of the 3rd instant, (yesterday) the undersigned conferred with their colleagues, with the exception of those who are opposed to the Senatorial election, and after consideration, it was deemed an act of justice to our constituents, to our cause, and to ourselves that we should give this statement to the public.
H.G. Livermore
G.D. Hall
The undersigned, your representatives in the House of Assembly, have been for many days cognizant of the attempt to corrupt that portion of the delegation in favor of the election of an US Senator at the present session, and they endorse the statement above made.

Monday, March 15, 2010

DAR Proof of Service Troubles

So, I started yesterday's genealogy fun by casually stopping by the DAR site to see if I could get any more information on my Moses Jackman.  Before I knew it I was thoroughly entrenched and blew a whole day trying to find proof of service for two of my Revolutionary War Patriot ancestors. And, I wasn't even planning on joining DAR!

Here is my dilemma:

For Moses Jackman, he appears in several published works (some sourced but none of them with sources on Moses' service) and he appears in DAR's Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots.  I've even seen a recent picture of his grave and there is, what looks like, a DAR decoration near the headstone.  Moses isn't in the Patriot index on DAR's website so that is no help.  There are several service records for a Moses Jackman and none overlap which makes me think they are for the same person, these service records also match up with what was written about him in those unsourced published works.  But none of this is proof of his service.  All any of it is is a collection of service records which might be connected, a bunch of unsourced books and an index of graves that DAR admits isn't reliable.  But there is one other thing, Moses signed a document throwing his support behind the Patriots.  I know it is him, he was the only one of his name in that place at that time, but is that enough to connect this proof of service to Moses?  I highly doubt it.  And, if he applied for a pension he didn't get it because I've never been able to find one.

Next up it is Anne Coles Mott.  Her service during the war is mentioned in every biography of hers (and there are a lot of them) and it is legendary in my family.  She is even rumored to have received a quilt from the grateful Patriots she nursed (though I've never seen it).  Since she didn't serve in a military capacity, I don't even know where to begin looking for her proof of service.  In affidavits or letters written but soldiers treated by her?  But where would you  find any of those...

Oh, and to make matters even more fun, neither of these two are already in DAR's listings of approved Patriots.  Sheesh, I hate it when people won't cooperate with me- especially when they've been dead two hundred years.

If anyone has any experience with DAR or ideas on where to look for proof of service for these two problem children ancestors, I'd appreciate it so much I'll come to your house tonight and make you dinner.

DePauw University Archives

I had heard of DePauw University, like most people probably have but I had no idea it was connected with the Methodist Church and best of all... its in Indiana!  Why am I so excited?  Because my great-great-grandfather was a Methodist minister from Indiana.  DePauw has an extensive archive on everything connected to the Methodist church and Indiana and I was excited to find entries on my John Berger in their Indiana Ministers database.  Thanks to their entries on him, I've been able to fill in what the census has not.  As a "circuit rider" I knew the once a decade census was missing places of residence for him, but thanks to DePauw I've been able to fill in some of the holes of where he lived in the 1860s.  I know this resource won't be of much interest to most genealogists (unless you have Methodist ancestors from Indiana), but it got me excited. 

Best of all, I finally have someone to share John's many letters with.  He wrote most of them in the 1880s to his wife back home while he was on the road preaching to the various German-speaking communities in the Midwest and various other places.  I hope (and think) DePauw will be interested in them and I can't think of a better archive for them (though I won't be parting with the originals any time soon).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

SNGF: California Dreamin'

This week's SNGF prompt (and the last one until Randy gets back from vacation in April) is:

* Read Megan Smolenyak's article 120 Years of Smolenyaks in America: A Note of Gratitude from a Great-Granddaughter
* Do you have an ancestor like Megan's great-grandfather that was the first one to come to America (or your present country of residence) that you would like to thank?
* If so, tell us about that ancestor - and why you are thankful for their effort.
* Write your own blog post, or leave a comment on this post, or on the Facebook entry for this post.
I could thank every ancestor I've ever had for something so this is a very hard challenge to try and whittle my gratitude down to one person.  Indeed, I'm just not able to.  While all my immigrant ancestors have my especial gratitude (from the Mayflower passengers to my Italian great-grandparents over three hundred years later), the ones who answered the call to "Go West, young man, and grow up with the country" get my gratitude this time because if they hadn't I wouldn't be here today.  I'm not going to pretend that they all came here with noble reasons, most wanted to make a fast buck in the Gold Rush, others came to escape something back home and a few just wanted to make a fresh start due to ruin either in a war or through speculation.  But there were also those who just dreamed of a better life, something they couldn't get at the time in the industrial towns back east, their small villages in Europe, or the rural outposts they farmed in the Midwest. 

One thing I find most interesting is that they all (with the exception of my father who came in the 1980s) came before 1900.  They came before California grew and boomed in the early to mid 20th Century and they were here to see and help it prosper, gain statehood, develop and take both giant leaps forward and missteps backward. 

In no particular order (listed next to them is their year of arrival here), my gratitude goes out to:
  • John R. Shinn (1850; permanently in 1854)
  • John W. Berger and Susanna vonAllmen Berger family (circa 1888)
  • George W. Wellons and Mary Anna Webb family (circa 1892)
  • Andrew Webb (circa 1892)
  • Heman Doyle (1850)
  • Alzina Jackman Doyle, Mariah Adelaide Doyle Shinn, Heman Doyle Shinn (1854)
  • James Tock and his daughters (including Emma Sophia Tock) (1872)
  • Ebenezer Haley and Mary Lee Scott Haley family (1850, Ebenezer alone.  Returned to Nova Scotia 1855, came back with his whole family later that year)
  • Isaac Thomas Mott and Mary Johanna Rose Mott family (came throughout the 1840s, settled permanently in 1851)
  • Niels Christian Nielsen and Engeline Christine Petersen Nielsen (1874/1875)

Surname Saturday: Wood

My great-grandfather, Joseph James Allen's mother was my most recent Wood ancestor:

2. Marion Wood, b. Feb 1871, Summit, Jackson, MI; d. bet. 1945-1955, Manistee, Manistee, MI.  Married John Grant Allen 18 May 1890, Blanchard, Isabella, MI.  He was born 18 May 1869, Niles, Trumbull, OH; d. 27 Sep 1955, Parma, Jackson, MI.

3. Charles S. Wood, b. October 1842, either Ireland or Scotland; d. bet. 1910-1915, prob. in Rolland, Isabella, MI.  Came to Canada in 1855.  Married Diadame Beam 3 March 1870, East Zorra, Oxford, Ontario, Canada.  She was born 10 Oct 1852, East Zorra, Oxford, Ontario, Canada; d. 7 May 1895, Rolland, Isabella, MI.

4. Charles Wood, b. circa 1817, prob. in Scotland; d. 22 March 1863, South Dumfries, Brant, Ontario, Canada.  Married Jane Montgomery.  She was born circa July 1816, prob. in Ireland; d. 18 Feb 1893, Blenheim, Oxford, Ontario, Canada.  They are buried in St. George United (Old Wesleyan Methodist) Chruch  Cemetery in South Dumfries, Brant, Ontario, Canada.

I have information of the other children of both Charles Woods and Marion Wood, contact me if interested.  If you have any information of the family, especially if you know who Charles Wood's (b. ca. 1817) parents were, please get in touch with me either through e-mail or commenting this post.

Slaves of the Wellons Plantation in Pulaski Co., KY

This is my first "Firend of Friends" post and it focuses on the only direct line of mine that I have evidence for that they owned slaves.

The pattern of the last couple of years (since I have begun doing research into the Wellons' slaves) is that I start looking for the slaves that worked the Wellons plantation in Kentucky, I get a little ways and then boom, nothing.   Last summer I got a little glimmer of information, however.  I went to the Mt. Shasta area where my Wellons family settled and found a biography for my third great-grandfather, John Chappel Wellons (written by his grandson).  It said that while the family lived in Kentucky they had twelve slaves, that they freed them before Lincoln told them to but that the former slaves "wouldn't leave." 

I wanted to see if the claim that they "freed their slaves before Lincoln told them to" was true or not and, thankfully, it was.  By the 1850 census, I can find no record of any slaves associated with John Chappel Wellons.  It was also in that year that the family left Kentucky and went west to Illinois.  I've tried to track the slave history for the family and this is all I've found so far:

In 1810, Henry "Weldon" (which I'm sure is Henry Wellons, John Chappel's father) had six slaves, John Chappel would have been five years old.

In 1820, Henry "Willings" (a frequent early alternate spelling for Wellons) had 2 male slaves 14-26, 1 male 26-44, two females 14-26, one female 26-44 and one female 45 and up.  John Chappel would have been 15.

1830 Census, Henry has eight, four males and four females.  John Chappel would have been 25, but I think he was still living with Henry.

Henry died around 1840 and does not appear in that census.  John Chappel is listed but I can't find any slaves associated with him.  Hopefully, John Chappel freed them after Henry's death.

But, I haven't been able to find any of those freed slaves in Kentucky (assuming they used the Wellons surname, or any other variation on that name).  There were two free men of color living together near the John Chappel Wellons family in the 1850 Census and I am pretty sure were former slaves of John Chappel:

Isam Wellens, b. circa 1805 in Kentucky; living in Pulaski Co., KY in 1850
Joseph Wellens, b. circa 1811 in Kentucky; living in Pulaski Co., KY in 1850

For an idea as to how big Henry's property was, he appears in Kentucky Land Grant records on 18 Sep 1798 as the grantee of 200 acres in Lincoln Co. (Pulaski Co. was formed from Green and Lincoln Co. on 10 Dec 1798).  I have no idea what was farmed on that land.

If anyone out there does have any information on the slaves of either the John Chappel or Henry Wellons plantation in Pulaski Co., Kentucky PLEASE either post it online or give it to me to post.  Don't sit on the information or try and ignore this part of your family tree. Thank you.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fearless Females: Sarah and Priscilla

"March 11 — Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family?" - from The Accidental Genealogist

My great-grandmother's parents both lost their mothers at a young age.  George Washington Wellons' mother, Sarah Elizabeth Hudson, died less than a week after her 45th birthday (8 Jan 1861 in Warren Co., Iowa) and around the time of George's 12th birthday.  I do not know what Sarah died from but I'm sure her death deeply affected the family.  George's father, John Chappel, remarried to a woman (in 1865) who was physical abusive to one of George's brothers (and probably more of the children, this brother is the only I know of for sure who was beaten by the stepmother). 

This troubled home life led George to run away to Kansas but he got home sick and came back.  Things were still bad though, so he tried to enlist in the Civil War when he was sixteen but was caught as underage and told to go home.  George ran away again and this time, didn't have any contact with his family for 39 years.  After cutting ties with his family, George settled in the Durango area of Colorado where he married Mary Anna Webb.  They would later go to Oregon and then California.

As for the stepmother, things went from bad to worse for the Wellons family that stayed in Iowa after George left.  The stepmother's daughter from her first marriage ended up having an illegitimate child that the stepmother killed.  The stepmother was then arrested for infanticide and John Chappel subsequently divorced her and moved to the next town over.

As for Mary Anna, her mother died when she was only a year old. Priscilla Mason Webb was only 41.  I don't know what Priscilla died on but I think the death of her eldest child in the Civil War a month before was a contributing factor. 

As with George, enter an unwanted stepmother.  Though this stepmother doesn't seem to have been mean to Mary Anna and her siblings, Priscilla's children resented her nonetheless. This first stepmother died not long after the family came to Colorado though.  Andrew, Mary Anna's father, remarried again but nothing is known of this third wife.

I've always wondering in their similar childhoods (frequent moves from state to state, loss of their mothers at an early age, unwanted stepmothers, etc.) was something that brought George and Mary Anna together.  I do think it is interesting that there are so many parallels between their early lives.  I'm sure the deaths of their mothers was something that profoundly affected them and their outlooks on life.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


This week's challenge, via Randy:
1) Pretend that you are one of the subjects on the Who Do You Think You Are? show on NBC TV.
2) Which of your ancestors (maximum of two) would be featured on your hour-long show? What stories would be told, and what places would you visit?
3) Tell us about it on your own blog, in comments to this blog post, or in a Note or Comment on Facebook.
What a great challenge!  It also isn't one I had to think much about.  I would pick a maternal ancestor and one paternal one.  For my maternal ancestor, I would probably pick Moses Jackman.  He was abducted by Indians in the mid-1700s, as a boy and sold to the French.  He spent his early teen years in Quebec as the property of a French family there who were apparently kind yet he reportedly only grew an inch between the ages of 11 and 15 (makes me wonder how "kind" they really were).  He was eventually rescued by relatives and returned home to New Hampshire.  But what I want to know is if he served in the Revolutionary War.  He is in the Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots (produced by DAR) but that is the only place where his possible service is mentioned.  I have found several Moses Jackmans listed in Revolutionary War service rolls but I don't know which one is him.  I would visit Boscawen, New Hampshire, probably the DAR headquarters and maybe the places in Quebec where was was held. If I were able to establish his Revolutionary War history, I would also visit the places where he was stationed or where battles he was in were fought. 
For my paternal ancestor, I would go with my grandmother.  I know nothing about her parents beyond some bare facts and their names.  So, I have no idea what stories would be told and discovered.  I would visit Warren, Trumbull, Ohio, where they settled in America; Ellis Island (their port of arrival); Naples, Italy (their port of departure); and Vieste (and other areas in Apulia) where they were originally from. I would also like to know more about my great-grandfather's WWI service.  He would have fought for Italy so I'd be curious to know where he was stationed, etc.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fearless Females: The Marriage of Susanna vonAllmen

"March 4 — Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one." - The Accidental Genealogist

I have some marriage records and stories but most all of them involving living or recently deceased relatives.  I'm also trying to stick to my theme of only focusing on my maternal grandmother's family (I want to make a book out of these posts for her).  Luckily, my favorite marriage record involves my maternal grandmother's grandparents.

Susanna vonAllmen and John W. Berger were married in Evansville, Indiana (where Susanna and her family lived) on 9 December 1866.  I don't know why John was in Evansville but I think he was probably there because of his job as a minister.

This marriage record holds a special place for me for several other reasons.  It was a gift from a relative some years ago and was the first time I'd ever seen a picture of John and Susanna.  It also gave me some of the information I needed to eventually break-down my vonAllmen brick-wall. 

One thing of note about the record is that it includes a picture of the minister who married them.  It is the first time I've ever seen this done.  Though, I'm sure the actual record (I think this is a ceremonial copy) probably lacks those pictures.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fearless Females: Mary Polly Lester/Louster

"March 3 — Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree." - The Accidental Genealogist

I somewhat have a namesake in that my middle name is after a relative.  But I'm going to choose to go with the second possible way to answer this questions, by talking about the ancestor with the most unique or unusual name.

The name isn't all that unique or unusual in and of itself but it does stand out in my tree.  I have a lot of Marys in my tree, some Mary Ann/Anna/Annes, a Marion, etc. But 'Mary Polly' just rolls off the tongue, and I love it.  Another reason I picked Mary Polly Lester/Louster for this post is that she herself became a namesake for subsequent Mary Pollys who descended from her. 

Mary Polly Lester/Louster was born in Kentucky (then Virginia) around 1787. I believe she was the daughter of Vincent Lester/Louster and his wife, Sarah but I am still seeking the proof.  Mary Polly married Daniel Hudson in Pulaski Co., Kentucky 1810.  It is here that the possibility that her surname was 'Louster' is raised because that was the spelling given at her marriage.  Mary Polly and Daniel had ten children and carried on the unique name tradition.  Delila Paula, Ranter William, and Berry Daniel were just some of their children.  I haven't had much luck finding information on Mary Polly and her family so until I'm able to break down that brick-wall I'll just have enjoy the name and wonder who her namesake was.

I have been able to find several Lusters who I'm sure are connected but I couldn't say just how they connect.  One thing I'd really like to know about this family is what their last name actually was: Lester, Louster, Luster, Laster, Lister Leaster are just some of the variations I've come across. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Fearless Females: Mary Anna Webb

"March 2 — Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?" - The Accidental Genealogist

I wanted to pick a picture of an ancestor who, I feel, really exemplifies the "fearless" quality in the title of this series of prompts.  There is quite a large pool to choose from but I am sticking with my maternal grandmother's family because I'd like to make some sort of a book at the end of all this.  My last post focused on Nancy Moore and this one centers around Nancy's granddaughter, Mary Anna Webb. 

Mary Anna was born in 1862, the youngest of Andrew Webb and Priscilla Mason's ten children.  The Civil War was raging and before Mary Anna's third birthday she had lost her two eldest brothers to the conflict.  Mary Anna's mother also died when she was still baby leaving Mary Anna to be raised by her sisters.  Mary Anna was especially close to her sister "Matt" (Martha Maranda Webb Nicholson), who was a little shy of two years older. 

While still a toddler, Mary Anna and her family left Lawrence Co., Indiana and went to Coles Co., Illinois where her father Andrew re-married in 1865 a Rhoda A. Dandridge, around the same time Mary Anna's youngest brother died.  Andrew's children by his first weren't apparently too fond of Rhoda and would would tease her.  Rhoda herself was quite young, the same age as one of Andrew's sons who died in the war and I'm sure she was overwhelmed coming into an established household with six children under the age of fifteen. Rhoda and Andrew soon had a son, Henry Dow Webb before uprooting once again and going to Kansas.  Around the time they got to Kansas, another baby was born and Henry Dow died.  Mary Anna was about eight when all this was going on.  No sooner had the family settled in Colorado than they up and moved again, this time to Colorado.  When Mary Anna was about thirteen her stepmother died having a daughter and Mary Anna and her sisters had to take care of the baby and another stepbrother (there was another stepbrother but he also died as an infant).

When Mary Anna was only eleven she started work and went to live in the home of a doctor where she did housework.  When Mary Anna was sixteen she married George Washington Wellons, a Kentuckian who had run-away from home and an abusive stepmother.  They soon had four children, some of who they would name after landmarks in Colorado.  Mere months after having her fourth child the family left Colorado and came west in a wagon.  Several of Mary Anna's siblings and her father (who had married again and been widowed or divorced) made the trip also.  They settled in southeastern Oregon and had three more children, one of whom died there.  The winters were harsh though so they decided to travel south to the California border.  With Mount Shasta in the background, the family settled for a final time and had one more child, making a total of eight, seven who lived to adulthood. 

But things were still hard for the family.  In 1902, Mary Anna's 82-year-old father was killed in a logging accident, a few months after her eldest sister died in Arizona.  In 1912 Mary Anna's eldest child, Ebb, died after an illness and a few years later, her eldest daughter also died leaving behind two small grandchildren.  In her later years, the family moved to Yreka and ran a boarding house.  Mary Anna also made ends meet by doing washing and as a seamstress and baker. George was a bit of an invalid by now so Mary Anna had to work hard on a daily basis.  She died suddenly in 1926, at the age of 64, from a heart attack while making up one of the rooms in their boarding house.

One of the stories I like most about Mary Anna is that, shortly after the birth of her first child her husband, George, was conned.  George "sold his property for around $200 and planned to invest in a saloon but I guess you'd (tell or call) a con man persuaded him and a neighbor to invest in some new product with headquarters in New York so Dad settled mother with Ebb in two rooms and money for groceries and the two men went to New York, found the place where they had invested their money "gone out of business" and the guys skipped out- a counterfeiting gang- so Dad came home broke. He said afterward he was sore glad he hadn't invested in the saloon.  Mother [Mary Anna] was alone those 2 months he was gone and she said she was so afraid to go out the door- but never a complaint I guess, she was a spunky little thing." (this was from the memoir of Mary Anna's daughter, Georgia)."

One of the things I like most about Mary Anna is that right after women got the vote, she and her daughters immediately began appearing on voter rolls and what's more, she voted very differently than her husband.  She was short, with red hair, blue-grey eyes and a fair complexion.  She never complained, was resourceful, patient, kind, merciful, loving, forgiving, and selfless.  She hummed as she worked and taught her daughters "happy songs."  She rendered her own lard, made her own soap, knitted lace and was proud of her peddle sewing machine and was "jolly and happy."  Mary Anna Webb Wellons: An ancestor I'm proud to have in my tree.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Fearless Females: Nancy Moore

"March 1 — Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check." - The Accidental Genealogist

I'm really excited about this new series on blog prompts, mainly because I can really see the potential for turning these posts into a book or booklet in the future.  It is because of this that I plan on focusing these prompts on the ladies in one particular branch of my tree (my maternal grandmother's family because I know the most about them), though all these women are deserving.

These are the female ancestors in my maternal grandmother's family (excluding her because she is still living):
Georgiana Wellons, Mary Anna Webb, Susanna vonAllmen, Fredricka Matz, Barbara Steiner, Sarah Elizabeth Hudson, Priscilla Mason, Nancy Moore, Martha Leet, Mary Pollly Lester/Louster, Rebecca Chappel, Anna Buhler, Barbara Brunner.

I don't really have a favorite female ancestor but I will admit that I am especially drawn to the more mysterious ladies in my tree.  Nancy Moore is probably the ancestor I am (and have been) most drawn to because of how differing all the facts about her are.  For instance, she was supposedly born in 1796, yet her marriage record was in 1806 so I doubt the 1796 birth year is correct.  Yet that is the birth year Nancy herself put down on the 1850 census.  All this leads me to believe that there was more than one Nancy, one Samuel Mason married in 1806 and another born in 1796 that he married later.  But there are holes in this theory.  In any case, I think Nancy Moore (the first wife) was the mother of most, if not all, of Samuel Mason's children.

I have no idea who Nancy's parents were but I think I've found a brother.  In the 1810 Census, Samuel and Nancy and their household were living in Wayne Co., Kentucky (where they were married), a few doors down from them was a David Moore (bet. the ages of 16 and 26) and his household.  I think this David is related because Samuel and Nancy had a son named David.  Also, after Samuel and Nancy moved to Indiana, I have found a David Moore and his family living nearby and the Davd Moore that was in Kentucky also seems to have disappeared from there the same time the Masons left.  All this about David Moore is conjecture though and I, as yet, have no firm proof to support any of it. 

One of the weirdest things about Nancy is the fact that no one seems to know where she was born.  Her son John says in his 1880 census that she was born in Pennsylvania, in the same census her son James says she was born in Tennessee (which would make the most sense because of how close to the Tennessee border Wayne Co., Kentucky is), her son Owen agrees with James.  But her son David wins the prize for most originality because he states she was born in North Carolina.  Frankly, I think Nancy might have been Native American or Melungeon.  There are some clues that seem to suggest it and it would certainly explain why her known history is so confusing and sparse, but as with everything else having to do with Nancy, it is all pretty much conjecture.  Whenever I try to research Nancy I inevitably end up, hours later, throwing my hands up in the air and walking off to go bang my head against a wall because, at that point, that seems like a more productive way to spend my time than trying to unravel the enigma that is Nancy Moore Mason.  But hope springs eternal and tomorrow is another day, or so I like to tell myself after one of my "adventures" with Nancy...