Friday, November 14, 2014

Harshbarger line: Christian Brower abt 1714 to 1771

Christian Brower and his parents, Hubert Brower and Catherine Eve Brenneman, came to the New World in 1726.  The family is very fortunate that the original "pass" for the Brower family, which was similar to a passport and was issued by local (German) authorities, is still in existence and is one of the treasures of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives.  It was issued on May 1, 1726. We know that the pass states that the family was from the town of Fuss Gonheim, on the Rhine River just across from Mannheim  but we don't know how long the family had lived there.  It may have been only a matter of months, or it could have been years.

The Browers were a Mennonite family, which indicates that their origin was probably Switzerland. However, several websites name Hubert's father as Adam, and give him a Dutch wife and nationality.  More research needs to be done on this family, to prove that Adam is Hubert's father,  and to find out if the Dutch connection is correct. It is possible that Adam or his parents had settled briefly in the Netherlands, during the Thirty Years War which caused so much disruption to the various states that eventually became Germany.

At any rate, Christian was about 8 years old when he and his family crossed the ocean on what was apparently a lengthy voyage. We don't know exactly when they arrived because the oath of allegiance was not required until 1727, so apparently it would have been late in 1726.  The first record I find of Christian is that he took the naturalization oath in 1743, when he would have been about 29.  He was a young married man at this time, and the oath was required before he could own land, so this may have been the motivation for the timing of the oath. Since his brothers bought land in 1743, it may be that Hubert had died shortly before that time.

We don't know the name of Christian's wife.  He had apparently married Eve Brenneman Bowman at some point after their separate families were complete.  However, he had at least 8 children with hi unknown wife. They had 8 children together, and settled on the banks of the Schuylkill River in what is now East Coventry Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania.  Christian had obtained his 200 acres of land through a grant from the Proprietors, meaning this was wilderness that had not been owned before.  At least two of his brothers, Henry and John, settled near him.

We are fortunate to find tax records for him in Coventry, Chester, Pennsylvania in 1753, and later we can even find note of what he was taxed on.  In 1766, he was taxed for 200 acres, 3 horses and cattle, 8 sheep, and one servant.  This may have been an indentured servant about to serve his term, because the servant is not shown on later tax lists.  The last record, in 1771, shows him with 200 acres, 3 horses, and 5 cattle.  He died in 1771 and apparently there is a will in existence, but I haven't yet located it.  I've not found any indication of an occupation other than farming, but it is always possible that he had a trade also.

I'd like to find the will, and also I'd like to know whether or how Christian participated in the French and Indian war, or other skirmishes. As a Mennonite, my inclination is to think that he would not have been active in the military, but I could be wrong and I'd like to know for sure.  Of course, I'd also like to find documentation of his father's parents and their story.  And the brick wall is: who was the mother of his children?  I'd love to know!

The line of descent is:

Christian Brower-Catherine Eve Brenneman
Barbara Brower -Tobias Miller
Mary Miller-Johan George Harter
George Harter-Elizabeth Geiger
John Harter-Mary Bennett
Clara Ellen Harter-Emanuel Harshbarger
Grover Harshbarger-Goldie Withers
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Their descendents

Fun fact:  The trip from Germany to the New World was apparently a lengthy one, even for the times.  Can you imagine spending as long as six months on ship, watching your food stores dwindle, probably being sea sick (or at least, having children who were sea sick) much of the time?  I shudder just to think about it, but these people lived it. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Beeks line: Newspaper find about Wilbur Beeks

"Four Hurt in Head-On Crash Near Mt. Etna"...

I was certainly pleased to find this article in the Huntington Herald Press.  It was dated Monday evening, April 5, 1965, and I had looked through several weeks of newspapers on microfilm at the Huntington, Indiana Public Library in order to locate this.  (Looking through the old newspapers was a lot of fun, as I remembered so much as I was researching, but that's a story for another post, maybe.)

What I found was an account of the accident that involved two father and son duos, Wilbur and Jim Beeks, and Alva and Carl Searles.  Their two cars were involved in a head on collision near Mt Etna, Indiana on April 4, 1965.  All four were taken to hospitals. The Beeks men went to the VA hospital in Fort Wayne, Carl Searles to Lutheran Hospital in Ft Wayne, and Alva to the Huntington hospital.

The article states that the two cars collided at the crest of a hill on County Road 500 S in Polk Township, but does not assign blame.  It happened at 10:55 in the morning so perhaps the sun was shining and caused a glare or reflection.  Maybe both cars were using the center of the road, since that road was probably narrow "back in the day".

It appears that many of the injuries would have been prevented in this day of seat belts and air bags, since at least two of the victims were thrown into their respective windshields. The injuries described are not pleasant to read and would not be described in such vivid terms today.

Pictures of both automobiles are included in the article.  The front ends are heavily damaged, but it appears that the vehicles were probably of late 1950s vintage.  Damages were listed as $500 or more to each vehicle.   

Other thoughts:

The article doesn't state whether ambulances were used to transport the victims, but if they were, they would likely have been of the old, funeral home type variety.  Huntington County didn't get the van type ambulances until some years later. There would have been only basic first aid at the scene, and then little care could have been provided en route to the hospitals. 

$500 damage to vehicles that were a few years old in those days probably meant that the vehicles were totaled. 

We had no previous knowledge of the accident in this household.  The only reason I learned about it is that my husband's aunt kindly loaned me the minutes of a Sunday school class of the First Christian Church in Andrews. Her mother was an officer of the group for many years, so her name was frequently mentioned.  This book covered the class meetings during the 1960's. In April of 1965, I noted that a thank you note had been read to the class for the plant that had been sent to Wilbur following his serious car accident.  That's the clue I needed to go to the library and look for the newspaper article that told me more. 

Hint to family historians and genealogists that might be reading this post:  There may be another record somewhere that you'd never dream of, that has information you didn't know you didn't know!  Where might your next clue be hidden?

The line of descent for our family is:

Wilbur Beeks-Cleo Aldridge
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendents

Friday, November 7, 2014

Allen line: Luke Hitchcock, immigrant ancestor

I just read a statement that the persons I have identified as immigrants were not immigrants, but were colonists. They came to settle a new land, so yes, they were colonists.  However, since genealogy lingo refers to them as immigrants, I will go with the prevailing language.

Luke Hitchcock was born about 1614 at St Peter's, Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, maybe.  Some sources say he was born in Fenny Compton, which is where his wife, Eizabeth Gibbons was born.  His parents are believed to be John Hitchcock and Mary Franklin, although I have not see solid documentation for this.  From the limited information I have found so far on line, I am not convinced of these facts. Certainly there were a lot of Hitchcocks in Wiltshire, but I'm not sure we've found the correct parish or village yet. 

We don't know what Luke did for the first 20 or so years of his life, nor do we know for sure when or why he came to the New World.  It seems that he came in the years just after the "great migration" ended in 1635.  However, we do know that he was settled at New Haven, in what is now Connecticut by 1638.  New Haven was a very Puritan colony and followed the Scriptures as their only law, at least at the founding of the colony. The colony did not prosper, partly because of its poor land, partly because they were politically "far out there", and partly because they didn't have a charter for their colony. They ended up merging with Connecticut rather than trying to remain independent.

Much of the colony would have been engaged in some kind of maritime trade or occupation, but Luke was a shoemaker. Perhaps he had learned the trade in England. He married Elizabeth Gibbons, daughter of Thomas Gibbons and Elizabeth Pierpont, in January, 1642 and their first son, John was born September 27, 1642.  Hannah was born in 1645 and their third child, Luke, was born in 1655. These dates may be baptismal dates rather than birth dates.  They also had a daughter, apparently unnamed, who was born and died on the same day.  This was not a large family for the time.

Sometime before 1653 the family moved to Wethersfield, Connecticut, and Luke had signed an intent to settle Hadley, Hampshire County, Massachusetts a few months before he died. That move was never undertaken, and the implication is that Luke may have become ill or injured after he signed the intent.

Luke's will was written October 17, 1659. It is a little unusual in that he says "knowing it to be my duty to provide for my family and to settle my estate that I may leave no occassion of trouble to the when I am gone and that I may free myself before I die..." . Because his children are underage, he first gives everything to Elizabeth and then states his bequests if she remarries.  It appears that he owned several pieces of land that were to be divided between John and Luke, and he left his daughter Hannah 40 pounds. These bequests were to be given to the children when they each turned 18, or at the death of his wife, whichever is sooner. If Elizabeth remarried, she was to receive one third of the estate. Luke died November 1, 1659.

Elizabeth did go on to marryWilliam Warriner on October 2, 1661, and then, two years after his death in 1676, she married Joseph Baldwin.  She survived her third husband and died April 25, 1696.

The line of descent is:

Luke Hitchcock-Elizabeth Gibbons
John Hitchcock-Hannah Chapin
John Hitchcock-Mary Ball
Samuel Hitchcock-Ruth Stebbins
Margaret Hitchcock-Richard Falley
Samuel Falley-Ruth Root
Clarissa Falley-John Havens Starr
Harriet Starr-John Wilson Knott
Edith Knott-Edward Allen
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendents

Fun Fact from a book called "Fullers, Sissons, and Scotts, Our Yeoman Ancestors":

"Luke was a shoemaker and owned by record fourteen pieces of land in Wethersfield. He was on friendly terms with the Indians and they gave him a deed to the town of Farmington. His wife placed it over a pie in the oven and destroyed it."

Yes, I know it's just a story and may not qualify as a fact. But it definitely is fun!  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Holbrook line: Ferdinando Thayer

I just have to write about Ferdinando.  First, he has a wonderful name. Secondly, we seem to have at least three lines that trace back to him, in the Holbrook side of things. And lastly, he was an immigrant, although really the immigrant status belongs to his parents, Thomas Tayer (lots of spellings) and Margery Wheeler.

Since he is an immigrant, it will be no surprise that he was born in England, in Thornbury, Gloucester, to be exact. He was christened on April 18, 1625 so was born sometime before that (children were usually christened before their first birthday and some were christened as soon as the day after their birth).  His father would have attended a lot of christenings, as it appears there may have been as many as 21 children born to this couple.  I wonder how Thomas supported his family. When he died, he called himself a shoemaker, which seems to be a humble trade, but the amount of land he had indicates he was a person of substantial wealth.

So it seems to have been a good move for Thomas, Margery, and their children, including our current hero, Ferdinando, to have come to the New World.  There seems to be some confusion about when the Thayer family arrived in America but they are not listed in the Great Migrations series, of families that arrived before 1636, so perhaps Thomas did come on the "Blessing" in 1637.  If so, his wife and what remained of his family may have come in 1640, as it is reported that one of the children died in Thornbury in 1640.  Ferdinando would have been 12 years old if he came with his father and 15 or 16 if he came with his mother in 1640-1641.  At any rate, at least 7 of his siblings had died in England.

Ferdinando lived with his parents for much of his life.  On January 14, 1652/53 he married Huldah Hayward, daughter of Thomas Hayward and Margery Knight, in Braintree, Mass.  The young married couple continued to live with Thomas and Margery until Thomas's death in 1665.  His father's will had been generous to him, and he ended up with so much property that he and his two brothers, Sydrach and Thomas, agreed to redistribute the land so that each had a more equal share.

Ferdinando then moved, as a founder, to Nipmug, later Mendon, Worcester County, Massachusetts.  He prospered for when he died he had one of the largest farms in the area, and provided farms for each of his sons in his will.  He did not have an easy time of it, though.  The Thayers were forced to abandon their home during King Philip's War in 1675. The town and surrounding fields were all destroyed, and the area was not resettled until 1680.  It was truly a case of starting over again. Ferdinando would have been 55 at this time, so the task may have seemed daunting to him.

Fortunately, he had a large family to assist him.  Ferdinando and Huldah had twelve children, of whom two (each named David) died young. Deborah, Huldah, Jonathan, Naomi, Thomas, Samuel, Isaac, Josiah, Ebenezer, and Benjamin all lived to have children of their own, and the Thayer name is still evident in New England.  For Ferdinando to have been able to leave farms to each of his 5 surviving sons, he must have acquired large areas of land, but I have not documented yet where the land was.

His wife Huldah had died in 1690. Ferdinando married for a second time, to Ann Freebury.  With all due respect to any of her descendents, Ann was not a loving wife to her husband, and she made accusations against her husband and his sons, charging that they sold liquor to Indians (which was prohibited), that he had deserved to have his house burnt during King Philip's War and it would occur again if they did not stop trafficking with the Indians. She also charged that he had failed to provide for her, along with various other charges.  Apparently Ann became disenchanted with her husband when she learned that he was giving his land to his sons, and she would get only the 1/3 of his remaining estate that was hers by law.  I get the feeling that it's a good thing for family dignity that there was no television then, or we could have been watching a reality show or worse.

Ferdinando died on March 28, 1713 at the age of 86.  He had seen good times and he had seen bad times, but his descendents would continue to build the New World.  I would like to know more about his relationship with his second wife, the veracity of her charges, and most especially, where his first name originated.  I'm not aware of any other Ferdinando in our tree.

One of our lines of descent is:

Ferdinando Thayer-Huldah Hayward
Ebenezer Thayer-Martha Thompson
Deborah Thayer-John Rockwood
Joseph Rockwood-Alice Thompson
Levi Rockwood-Deborah Lazell
Susannah Rockwood-Nahum Holbrook
Joseph Holbrook-Mary Elizabeth Whittemore
Fremont Holbrook-Phoebe Ann Brown
Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendents

Fun fact:  Ferdinando and Huldah were ancestors of Barbara Bush and thus of the second President Bush.  We're approximately 10th cousins to him.  

Friday, October 31, 2014

Beeks line: Samuel Hinckley, Immigrant

First, I have to acknowledge my joy and ensuing gratitude when I realized that there is a huge amount of information on about this immigrant.  It certainly makes it a lot easier to write a post about this man, even though I am doing absolutely no original research. 

I found it fascinating to learn that when Samuel Hinckley, who is my husband's ancestor, came to America in 1635, he was on the same ship as my ancestor, Comfort Starr, whom I have known about since I was a young girl.  They went their separate ways after landing, but still, they knew each other for the time period of their voyage, anyway.  How cool is that? The other fun fact about Samuel is that he is the ancestor of both Presidents Bush, and also the ancestor of Barack Obama. 

Anyway, Samuel Hinckley was born or christened on May 25, 1589 in Harrietsham, Kent, England to Robert Hinckley and "widow Katherine Leese".  He was one of at least 8 children born to this couple.  I've not been able to determine Robert's occupation but he had  small property (thirty three acres of land and a dwelling) to dispose of in his will, so it may be that he was a farmer.  The family was more prosperous than some, but probably not wealthy by any means.

After his christening, we know nothing of Samuel until his marriage, on May 7, 1617, in Hawkhurst, Kent to Sarah Soole, daughter of Thomas Soole and Mary Iddenden.  The couple lived in the Hawkhurst area for 18 years, before they emigrated to America. They were a Puritan couple, yet they had their certificate departures signed by Mr. Jno Gee, vicar of Tenterden, Jn Austin, mayor, and Fregift Stace, jurat, on March 15, 1634.  Did they keep their faith quiet, or was someone paid off, one wonders?  Or was the town just winking an eye and they were glad to be rid of them? 

The record shows that only three children were listed as traveling with their parents to America on the ship Hercules. Eight children had been born to the couple in England, but at least three had died. I was unable to determine the fate of the other two children. Sarah was pregnant during the trip across the ocean, because another child, Elizabeth, was christened on September 6, 1635 in Scituate, Massachusetts, where the family first settled.  A total of 8 children were born in Massachusetts, with four of them dying as infants or children.  Even for these hard times, this was a lot of children to bear, and a lot of children to loose, for Samuel and Sarah. 

Samuel and Sarah had first settled in Scituate but then went to Barnstaple and lived the rest of their lives there.  Samuel died October 31, 1662, about six years after the death of Sarah. He had remarried in the meantime, to Bridget widow Bodfish.  The inventory of his estate totaled 162 pounds 16 shillings, plus some other items including real estate and housing. So he was not a poor man when he died. 

The clues we have as to his personality are scant. He was one of 8 Scituate men who were presented (charged with) "receiving strangers and foreigners into their houses and lands, without license of the Governor or Assistants, or acquainting the town of Scituate therewith."  "Strangers and foreigners" basically meant non Puritans, who were regarded as being a threat to the peace of the colony.  It was shortly after this that the Hinckleys moved to help settle Barnstaple, but they could not have gone there without the approval of the authorities so they must have smoothed things over somehow.  Then in 1651 Samuel Hinckley and Jonathan Hatch were charged by the grand jury with hiring land of the Indians.  Again, this was something the colony would have wanted to control.  Samuel was a non-conformist in England and a non-conformist of the non-conformists after he had moved to America.

We owe this couple honor and respect for the sacrifices they made to raise their family, to bury so many children, and to do the hard work it took to establish a home in this country in the 17th century. Their efforts made it possible for us to raise our families here in America. 

The line of descent is:

Samuel Hinkley-Sarah Soole
Susannah Hinkley-Rev. John Smith
Samuel Smith-Elizabeth Pierce
Shubael Smith-Prudence Fitzrandolph
Mary Smith-Jonathan Dunham
Samuel Dunham-Hannah Ruble (probably)
Jacob Dunham-Catherine Goodnight
Samuel G Dunham-Eliza Reese
Margaret Catherine Dunham-Harvey Aldridge
Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendents

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Harshbarger line: John Wyatt, Methodist pastor

John Wyatt is another fascinating Harshbarger ancestor.  His story is fascinating, but even more, his pedigree is fascinating.  Apparently the Wyatt line ties back to George Wyatt and Jane Finch, who had royal ancestry, based on DNA testing. The problem is that so far, the exact line of descent has not been determined.  John's father was Thomas, whose father was John, whose father was Major William.  It surprises me that we know William was a major, and that he was born about 1627, but we don't know how or when he arrived in Virginia, or how he attained the rank of "Major".  Was it based on the prominence of his family? We just don't know at this point. 

However, we do know a little more about John Wyatt, since he lived 100 or more years later than Major William.  John was born June 4, 1748 in Virginia. Some internet sources say that he was born in Franklin County but Franklin County wasn't formed until 1785, so his exact place of birth is unknown.  His parents are thought to be Thomas Wyatt and Susannah "Sukey" Edmondson, and he was one of at least 6 children. 

His marriage took place in Loudoun County, Virginia in 1767 to Alice Gordon, daughter of John Gordon. In 1772, his father's will was probated in Loudoun County, so the family had been there for at least a few years.  Loudoun was in northeastern Virginia, so the new family traveled quite some distance within two years, because by then John and Alice were in Shenandoah County, where John leased 246 acres on the north side of the Shenandoah River.

Undoubtedly the Wyatts had hoped to settle down to a peaceful life on their land, but such was not to be.  As in so many families, the Revolutionary War intervened, and John was sworn in as a lieutenant  of the Shenandoah County Militia under Captain John Tipton in April, 1778.  We don't know how often he was called to active duty, but he was apparently home at least some of the time because he is a witness to a deed and also leased 100 acres of his land in 1780.  Most likely, he served in a frontier unit that protected against Indians who were loyal to the British, but I've not found documentation for that yet. 

The Wyatts may have belonged to the Church of England, as did most Virginians, but by 1780 the family had become supporters of the Methodist cause. The Wyatts deed part of this 246 acres to the Trustees of the Methodist church on the western side of the north river of the Shenandoah, with Special Trust and Confidence that they use the land to "preach and expound God's Holy word...provided that they preach no other doctrine than is contained in the Rev. John Wesley's notes upon the new Testament and four volumes of sermons."  

The Wyatts had at least 8 children: Elijah, Edward, Solomon, Thomas, John, Jane, Sarah and Andrew. In 1792, the Wyatts leased their remaining land and moved to Sandifers Creek, Franklin County, Virginia, where they founded the Methodist Episcopal Church of Franklin County, Va.  John had been ordained on May 31, 1792 in Shenandoah County, Va, and he must have felt some sense of urgency to leave in December of that year to go to their new pastorate. 

John Wyatt died May 1, 1802 in or near Rocky Mount, Franklin County, and it appears that Alice may have died shortly after her husband.  His will mentions all of his children except Edward. Perhaps he had already received his portion.

There is much I'd like to know about John.  I have seen him referred to as a circuit rider, but I can't pin down documentation for that.  I'd like to know where he was born (possibly Gloucester County, Va?) and I'd like to know more about his Revolutionary War Service.

There is an absolutely wonderful manuscript of the Wyatt family on FamilySearch.  It was prepared by Genevieve Peters and has transcripts of the Wyatt family as far back as can be found in Virginia, and a lot of Wyatt descendents.  It's in five volumes, and I've only reviewed the Virginia documents.  If you have interest in this family, I'd suggest going to that website, to the books section, choosing author, and then Genevieve Peters.  She must have been a wonderful, lifelong genealogist to have accumulated so much information about so many families! Most of the information in this post can be traced back to her manuscript.

The line of descent is:

John Wyatt-Alice Gordon
Jane (Jean) Wyatt-William Farmer
Margaret Farmer-Solomon Bennett
Mary Bennett-John Harter
Clara Ellen Harter-Emmanuel Harshbarger
Grover Harshbarger-Goldie Withers
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Their descendents

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Allen line: John Moore 1740's to 1816

John Moore was another admirable man in our family line.  I like to think of him talking, for he was born in Ireland and probably had that Irish lilt in his voice to the end of his days.  Records differ as to whether he was born in 1741 or 1745, and he don't know the location other than somewhere in Ireland. His father may have been Thomas Moore, and it is possible that his wife was Christina Bishop, but there are so many Moores in the records that I haven't been able to determine whether either statement is fact or not.

Family lore states that he had enrolled to study for the priesthood in Ireland, but changed his mind and became a physician. We don't know whether that was before or after he came to the New World.  He arrived in Philadelphia in 1770 on board the ship "Caroline".  Again, a family story states that when the Revolutionary War broke out, he offered his services as a physician to the Patriots but was turned down, for whatever reason.  He is listed as having been a private in the war, but it is not known which John Moore he is, in the records. It is possible that his role was in the latter part of the war, protecting the frontier from Indian incursions.

He married Hannah Armstrong, daughter of Adam Abraham Armstrong and Margaret Nixon. (This couple were ancestral to astronaut Neil Armstrong, so we are his very distant cousins.) The Moores had 3 sons and five daughters, and of course there may have been infant or childhood deaths.  John owned at least two tracts of land in what became Washington and then Greene County, Pa, and farmed there. It appears that he also taught school. It is unknown whether he practiced his physician skills in his new home. 

Hannah died December 2, 1814, and John died nearly two years later, on December 1, 1816. They are buried in the Armstrong Cemetery, 3 miles east of Carmichaels, Pa.

I wish we knew more about the stories, and could find some documentation for them. I wish we knew more about John's Revolutionary War service, and why his physician's skills were not accepted. I'd love to know what church they may have attended.  And of course, I wish we knew his parents, and where in Ireland they were from. 

The line of descent is:

John Moore-Hannah Armstrong
Catherine Moore-Alexis Jackson
Eleanor Jackson-Vincent McCoy
Nancy McCoy-George Allen
Edward Allen-Edith Knott
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Allen descendents