Friday, April 18, 2014

Holbrook line: Alexis Lemmon, soldier in the Revolutionary War

Alexis (probably Electius, but we'll go with the usual spelling) was born on February 26, 1746 in Baltimore County, Maryland.  His parents were Alexis (probably Electius) Lemmon and Martha Merryman.  He was one of at least 8 children, but since he carried his father's name, perhaps he was a favorite.  (His older brother, John, was named for his grandfathers, both paternal and maternal, and John, as the oldest son, was the executor for his father's estate). 

Alexis's father was apparently rather well to do, and there are some sources that state that his father had been a member of Parliament, but I haven't found proof of that.  The family seems to have come from Ireland, but I don't know whether they were there for just a generation or whether they had been there longer. 

Alexis would have been 29 years old when the earliest battles of the Revolutionary War were fought, and he was 30 when we first find him as a captain in the Maryland Militia, on February 4, 1777.   (Archives of Maryland, Volume 16, page 114).  The rank of captain indicates that either he had prior military service, or that he was of an influential family, or possibly both.  Other sources say that he had actually been appointed Caption of the Baltimore Militia, or Horse Troop on January 4, 1777 and was still in service in February of 1782.  I have not been able to trace his military experiences as of yet, but it is likely that he was not sitting at home twiddling his thumbs all this time.  His older brother, John, served in the war, as did the brothers of his wife, Rachel Stansbury.

 Alexis and Rachel were married November 29, 1771 in Baltimore County. She was the daughter of  Thomas Stansbury and Hannah Gorsuch.  Alexis and Rachel had nine children: Sarah, Ruth, Elizabeth, Mary, James, Rebecca, Jane, Rachel, and Temperance.  The children were born between 1772 and 1786, so once again, mother Rachel was a busy, busy lady. They lived on a plantation in northern Baltimore County called "Eight Sisters".  I haven't been able to find him in an 1800 or 1810 census, but several of his brothers "owned" slaves in that period, so it is likely that he did, too. 

As the children grew up and moved away, several of them moved to the area of Richland (now Morrow) County, Ohio.  Rachel died in Maryland in 1823 and after she died , he and daughter Rachel went west to join them.  He would have been 77 at the time of the move, and he lived another three years, until January 2, 1826.  Our Revolutionary War Hero is buried at Shauck Cemetery, Mount Gilead, Morrow County, Ohio. 

Our line of descent is:

Alexis Lemmon-Rachel Stansbury
Sarah Lemmon-Abraham Hetrick
Isaac Hetrick-Elizabeth Black
Alice Hetrick-Louis Stanard
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Allen line: John Starr 1743-1824, one of our Revolutionary War heroes

There is quite a bit of information on line about John Starr, but one is mostly a repeat of another, so that there really isn't a lot of new information about him.  This post is a hodgepodge of the online sources, so that I have pretty much everything in one place.  I have a great deal of admiration for John, based on the decisions he made in his life, his willingness to serve his country, (actually it probably started out being willing to serve his state), and his determination to overcome a serious war wound and move on with his life.

John Starr was born in 1743 in Groton, New London, Connecticut, the son of Thomas Starr and Jerusha Street.  His early occupation isn't known to me, but the Starrs were largely ship builders or otherwise connected to the sea, so it is possible this is what John did as a young man. John Starr's father, Thomas, died in 1759, when John was only 16 so he was left to make his own way in the world. For John, his way lead to Nova Scotia.  Again, we don't know what he did there but it is possible that he was still involved in the sea, although he also seems to have owned land. 

We do know that he married Mary Sharp in 1773 while he was there.  She was the daughter of Matthew and Margaret Sharp, and it appears they came from Ireland and Mary was born there.  The Sharps were in Amherst, Cumberland, Nova Scotia by 1770.   Mary was already 33, and three years older than John, when they were married, so this was past the time to have 10 or 15 children.  John and Mary had 6 known children. They were John in 1774, Joseph in 1776, Mary in 1782, Hannah in 1785, Rachel in 1787 and Eunice in 1791.  John was born in Nova Scotia, Joseph's birth location is unknown, and the other children were born in Connecticut. 

John Starr was in a predicament in 1776.  He lived with his family in Nova Scotia, but the War for Independence was already brewing, and John knew where his heart and his loyalties lay. While he was making plans to move South, back to Connecticut, there was a military action and he had to leave immediately, leaving his young family behind.  I give a lot of credit to Mary, who joined him with her boy or boys just as soon as she could. She had already uprooted her life once, to immigrate from Ireland to Nova Scotia, and now she was moving again, in the midst of war and political upheavals that she thought she had left behind her. 

I have not been able to locate John as a soldier until the Battle of Fort Griswold (also known as the Battle of Groton Heights, and as the Fort Griswold massacre) in September of 1781. Fort Griswold was manned by just a handful of militia, and those others of the militia who reached the Fort upon the arrival of a British fleet of 32 ships.  The so called raid was conducted by Benedict Arnold, by this time on the side of the British.  The Americans fought bravely but they were severely out-manned and under-gunned. Some refer to this as a massacre rather than a battle because many of those who were wounded and many who tried to surrender were simply murdered.  It was not the finest hour of the British victors.

John was somewhat fortunate in this battle, in that he was wounded but he escaped the massacre.  His injury was to his elbow, which was mangled and left his right arm useless and painful for the rest of his life. 

Following the war, John and Mary stayed in Groton.  Meanwhile, there were various acts of Congress that gave land to people who were deprived of their homes and livelihood, and in 1806 John was awarded 304 acres in Franklin County, Ohio range 22, township 5, section 5. The city of Columbus, Ohio is built on this land now. This was land that Congress set aside for non-resident proprietors for refugees, and was not based on John's war record.  Some sources say that John went to Ohio in 1806 but if he did, it was only for a short time.

 John and Mary made a 7 week journey by wagon from Connecticut to Franklin County, Ohio in 1812. Most of their children came with them, although Joseph chose a career on the seas.  I have a hard time imagining this.  At the age of  69, with a useless right arm, John chose to go to Ohio in hopes of making a better life for his children, and Mary went, too.  A 7 week trip in a wagon would be bad enough, but when they got to their land, it was frontier country.  There were only a few neighbors and they were miles away. This was in the early part of the war of 1812, so there would have been Native Americans in the area, perhaps plotting against the early settlers.  There were wild animals and swamps and all the things that would put fear in our hearts, but the Starrs, father and adult children, went to work to build two log cabins to see them through the winter, and started to clear their land.   We don't know whether frame homes were later built, or whether John stayed in the log cabin for the rest of his life. The trip and the hard work of frontier life were too much for Mary, and she died just five months after arriving at her new home. 

John lived and worked for another 12 years, dying of one of the fevers that swept the area in 1824.  He and his family are believed to be buried in Green Lawn cemetery, in Columbus. 

This was a strongly Presbyterian family, but I haven't been able to determine whether the Presbyterian influence was from the Starrs, or the Sharps, or both.  I would like to know more about that, and I would certainly like to know more about Mary's parents, Matthew and Margaret (maiden name unknown) Sharp. I'd also like to know whether John was indeed involved in the ship building industry.  John is one of the ancestors that I think about each Fourth of July, and maybe this year, you can, too. 

Our line is:

John Starr-Mary Sharp
John Starr-Betsy Havens
John Havens Starr-Clarissa Falley
Harriet Starr-John Wilson Knott
Edith Knott-Edward Allen
Richard/Edith/Tessora/Corinne/Vernon Allen
Their children, grand children, and great grandchildren

Friday, April 11, 2014

Beeks line: Happy but confused dance for Jackson Wise

I'm learning that in the world of genealogy, when all else fails, "Think!"  So I thought about brick wall Jackson Wise, and realized that although he died in 1893 in Wabash County, I didn't have a copy of his death certificate.  Once I realized I was missing that important document, I bee-lined to Wabash County and spent a grand afternoon researching.

I am still reeling from the surprise that Jackson Wise's father was John Williams.  His mother's name was not noted on the certificate, nor was the informant.  Well, one out of three isn't bad, I guess.  Jackson's 1880 census says that he was born in Ohio and his parents were born in Virginia, so that' a little bit of a clue.

 I put a query out on the Wise Ancestry message board and was answered promptly by a very nice lady, who told me who she thinks John Williams might be.  I need to do more research on this before I am comfortable with her ideas, but guess what I'll be doing today on-line, and also the next time I get to go to the Allen County Public Library.  At least I have places and names to look at, and I am very thankful to Jayne for her help. 

Right now, I have a name for Jackson's father and for that I am thrilled.  But of course I want to know who his mother was, and how he came to have the last name of Wise. Was Wise his mother's name, and he was a "natural son" of John Williams?  Was he adopted? Did he early in life take "Wise" as an alias for some reason?  Does any reader have other ideas, of other possibilities? 

While I was in Wabash, I looked for land records for Jackson, and found quite a few.  I only had time to look up to about 1860, but in that short time frame (remember, he was in prison until 1854) there were several transactions involving Jackson, mostly centered in and around the little town of America. He seems at this point to be acquiring more than he is selling.  I can't wait to go back to trace the land transactions further.  I had the idea that he was poor, but in 1860 the census gives him $800 in real estate, which was more than just a little.  I'd like to find out what he did manage to keep, and what happened to it. 

Here's the line of descent: 

John Williams and ??
Jackson Wise and Charity Bodkin
Mary Margaret Wise-William  G Beeks
John Beeks-Elizabeth Wise  (a different Wise line, we think)
Wilbur Beeks-Gretta Cleo Aldridge
Beeks children, grand children, great grandchildren, etc.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to Ancestry, FamilySearch, and various other websites!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Allen line: Vincent McCoy

Vincent McCoy was born in 1807 in Shelby County, Kentucky, the son of James McCoy and Nancy Lane.  His parents were Baptists, and his grandfather, William McCoy,  was a Baptist minister in Clark County, Indiana.  It's hard to pinpoint when the McCoy's came to Indiana, because for several years William crossed the Ohio River from Kentucky to preach on Sundays, but didn't settle in Indiana until sometime after 1800.   I haven't located him in the 1810 census, but by 1820 James and Nancy were in Washington County, Indiana.  Sadly, James, Nancy, and at least one of their children died in a cholera epidemic there in 1833. 

Vincent left home prior to 1831. He may be the male aged 20-29 in the 1830 census for James McCoy, but he may have already left home by this time and I just haven't located him yet in the 1830 census.  He was commissioned a Captain in the Indiana State Militia on 3/30/1830. serving in the 40th Regiment.  It appears that the 40th Regiment marched from Marion County, Indiana to at least as far as Lafayette, Indiana, some remaining in Lafayette, some marching as far as the South Bend area, and some going some distance west of the Wabash River, all in response to reported Indian uprisings during the Black Hawk War of 1832.  Perhaps this is when Vincent saw the land in northern Indiana for the first time.

He married Eleanor Jackson in Marion County, Indiana on February 24, 1831.  It appears that he moved about a good deal, or at least bought property in several counties, including Miami, Kosciusko, and Fulton.  The land he bought in Kosciusko County was entered July 13, 1836, and was sold to Lewis Mitchell in 1838 or 1839.  He was a treasurer of Kosciusko County for a short time period.  It is likely that Vincent and Eleanor traveled what is known as the Michigan Road from Marion County to Fulton County.  This was not yet what we would consider a "road" but it was at least a marked wide path.  I have read various estimates of how long the trip would have taken, but it would have been measured at least in days and possibly in weeks, camping along the way.

By 1840 he and Eleanor were in Union Township, Fulton County, Indiana, where they stayed for the rest of their lives.  He was a justice of the peace there, and a farmer.  Vincent and Eleanor had at least 10 children; they were James, Catherine, Nancy, Isaac, William Henry, John, Eliza, George, Sarah, and Nelson.  Nelson was only 4 years old when his father died. There are two gaps of 4 years in the birthdates of the children, so it is possible that there were additional children who did not survive. 

Vincent died on September 30, 1857 in Fulton County and is buried at Moon Cemetery, aka Sharon Cemetery there.  I have visited this cemetery. It is directly across the road from a home that obviously at one time was a church.  Perhaps Vincent and Eleanor attended services there, but that is only speculation. 

I have a great deal of admiration for Vincent, and for Eleanor.  Vincent lived on the frontier for all of his life, possibly excepting the time he spent in Marion County.  Frontier life was not easy, for anyone.  He lost his parents when he was still a young man, but that did not stop him from living a good life. He must have been highly respected to have been the captain of his military unit, the treasurer of the county, and a justice of the peace at different times in his career.  I would like to know more about the church he attended, and I'd like to know more about his experiences in providing a living for his large family. 

Our line of descent is:
Vincent McCoy-Eleanor Jackson
Nancy McCoy-George Allen
Edward Allen-Edith Knott
Their children, grandchildren, great, and great great grandchildren

Friday, April 4, 2014

Harshbarger line: Daniel Kemery will

When I started reviewing all the "deeds" that I collected at the Whitley County Recorder's office a few weeks ago, I realized that one of these was actually a will.  Daniel Kemery was born about 1811 in Pennsylvania (per 1850 census records) and died before September 12,  1877 in Whitley County, Indiana.  After his first wife, Susannah Essig died, Daniel married Barbara Long Buchtel, who was the mother in law to his son Adam.  They were married on June 13, 1872, in Whitley County, Indiana.  The will was filed April 12, 1878, with acknowledgements by Isaiah B McDonald that he had witnessed the will, signed December 14th, 1876. The acknowledgement was made on September 12, 1877, so Daniel would likely have died during the preceding 30 days or so.  G. W. Hollinger was the other witness to the will.  Here is the will:

In The name of God I Daniel Kemery of Whitley County - State of Indiana being of sound mind and memory and knowing the certainty of Death I do make and declare the following to be my last Will and Testament hereby and herein revoking any and all former wills by me heretofore made.  Item first-I give my soul to God who made it. Item second It is my will that after my death all my proper funeral expense shall be promptly paid and all my just and legal debts be paid.  Item Third After the payment of my funeral expenses and debts It my will that all my property both personal and Real shall go to my beloved wife Barbary Kemery to be her own absolute property in fee simple.  I therefore will and bequeath to her the undivided third (1/3) Part of the following Real Estate in Whitley County and State of Indiana to wit The West half of the South west quuarter of section No sixteen (16) Township No Thirty one (31) north Range No nine (9) East the whole tract being and containing sixty three (63) acres the same more or less  The same the said one third 1/3 of the above described tract to [not sure of word] in fee simple to the said Barbary Kemery for her own use thereof and control the same as though it were conveyed by Deed  That the balance of said land belongs to my children and heirs at law of my late deceased wife Susannah Kemery to wit a minor child of my daughter Harriet Cox Mary Ann Mosher Lydia Kemery Amanda Jones Alexander Kemery Daniel Kemery Alfred Kemery Solomon Kemery. Alexander Kemery Adam Kemery and John Kemery and at my death my said wife Barbary Kemery shall pay or cause to be paid all my funeral expenses and debts as in Item second specified and in case she shall pay the same in a reasonable time no letters of Administration shall issue to any one in my estate.  Witness my hand and seal this the 14th day of December AD 1876.

Daniel (his mark) Kemery       (Seal)

Signed, sealed and declared by Daniel Kemery to be his last will and testament in our presence and that we have signed the same as witnesses at his request in his presence and in the presence of each other this Dec 14 1876.

Isaiah B McDaniel
G W Hollinger

There is following this the statement by Isaiah B McDaniel that he saw the signing of the will of Daniel Kemery on December 14, 1876, etc, so signed by James Krider, Clerk, and then certified by James Krider, Clerk, Whitley Circuit Court, dated 12th day of September, 1877.

I have tried to type this as it is written, with very little punctuation. The will seems to be contradictory to me in that Daniel appears to have given Barbary everything, and then seems to be giving her just 1/3 of the land he had, dividing the rest up among his grand children.  Perhaps I should look for a court case about this.  The land was in Columbia Township, on the northwest side of the Beaver Reserve, and adjoining railroad tracks that may be the old Nickel Plate RR.  It is believed that first wife Susannah and several of the children are buried on land there, and it may be that Daniel is buried there also.  It seems that this may be part of the area known as "Hell's Half Acre", an area alleged to be unsafe for travelers for many years.  Daniel was in Whitley County by 1850 and may be the Daniel Kemery in the 1840 census in Hempfield Township, Westmoreland County, Pa. 

Here is the line of descent:

Daniel Kemery-Susannah Essig
Adam Kemery-Fannie Buchtel
Della Kemery-William Withers
Goldie Withers-Grover Harshbarger
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
children, grandchildren, great grandchildren

Monday, March 31, 2014

Beeks, Harshbarger, Allen, Holbrook lines: Another field trip

This post won't include specific information on any family members, so if that's what you are looking for, you don't need to read any further.  This is more about the times, and not the specific life, of our ancestors.

This weekend I was privileged to visit Charleston, Illinois.  What, you say you've never heard of it?  Well, if you lived in the United States in 1864 and were literate, you probably would have heard of it.  It was the site of a "Copperhead" riot on March 28, 1864 that left 9 people dead, both Union and Copperhead, in a state that was generally on the Union side of the conflict.  The town also has associations with Abraham Lincoln, as his father and step-mother, Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln, lived in a log cabin not far from there.  Abe Lincoln's circuit, during his lawyering days, included this area, and one of the seven 1858 debates between Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln is commemorated by a small museum in Charleston.  There's a lot of history there, and Charleston decided to celebrate with a whole weekend built around the re-enactment of the riot. 

I am fortunate to have a sister who lives very near Charleston, who has a modest interest in history but was gracious enough to be my hostess and chauffeur for the weekend.  Friday night we attended a presentation to "Meet the Lincolns" at a local church.  I wasn't expecting much since it was a free will offering fundraiser for the church's school, but two minutes into the program I knew my expectations were going to be greatly exceeded.  B.J. and Dorothy McClerren presented extensive monologues in the characters of President Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, and they were just plain remarkable.  They were dressed in period costume, and except for the short stature of Mr. Lincoln/McClerren, it was easy to believe we were hearing and seeing the actual persons.  Their website is, and they are available for scheduling.  Check them out!

Saturday we saw the small museum about the Lincoln-Douglas debate (including a video), and visited a Civil War encampment at the fairgrounds.  There were not a lot of soldiers there on Saturday (it was quite cold, and after all, they had not been drafted!) but we got to visit with them and see their equipment and a suttlery shop that was set up to supply them and to encourage buying from camp visitors. 

We also went to two sit down, inside presentations in the historic Charleston courthouse.  One was by R. Eden Martin, who is a descendent of John R Eden (congressman who was expected to speak in Charleston the day of the riot) and the past Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Historical Society. He is a very learned man but also talked about some of the family stories that can and cannot be documented regarding his ancestor's participation (or rather, lack there of) in the riot.  He had a different description of "Copperheads" than history books typically present.

The final presentation was called "Trial and Tribulations; The Matson Slave Trial."  We were treated to four actors who presented part of a play that is put on as a dinner theater in Oakland, Il. on three occasions each year.  The trial is the only time that Abraham Lincoln ever defended for the cause of slavery, and it was really interesting to hear about how that came to be.  If you want to laugh, and be moved nearly to tears, plan to go to the play this year.  You can find information about this on several websites, youtube, google+, and a blog, so I won't attempt to point you to any one site. 

I would have enjoyed very much being there for the actual re-enactment of the riot, but that would not fit into my schedule. 

I encourage you to look around to see what is happening of a historical nature where you live.  Whether it's a museum, or a one time re-enactment, plan to spend some time in a historical setting. I find that it helps me understand some of what our ancestors felt and learned, and that in turn affects what is happening around us even today.  In addition, it's fun!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Beeks line: Edward Fitzrandolph, gateway immigrant

There is a lot of information on line about this gentleman, but I'm going to give a brief recap here because it's a possible a family member will read about him here for the first time.  This is a condensed version of his life.  He is important in the genealogy world because he was an immigrant in the Winthrop fleet of 1630, and because he has lines that tie him back to Scottish royalty (a direct descendent of William I of Scotland).

Edward Fitzrandolph, often referred to as Junior, was born to Edward Fitzrandolph and Francis Howis or Howes on July 8, 1607 (this may be his christening date) at Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottingham, England.  Frances was Edward's third wife, so some of his brothers and sisters are more correctly called half brothers and sisters.  It appears that Edward had five full brothers and sisters:  Anthony, Ales (Alice), Christopher, Joseph, and John.  Edward was the oldest of them.

In 1630, when Edward was about 23 years old, he came to Massachusetts with the Winthrop fleet.  The Winthrop Fleet was a group of 8 ships, containing about 800 Puritans, that came to settle the Massachusetts Bay colony (not to be confused with Plymouth Colony).  He was settled at Scituate, Massachusetts, with his home being the 38th home built there.  He married Elizabeth Blossom there on May 10, 1637.  Her parents were Elder Thomas Blossom and Ann Heilson, who were passengers on the Speedwell, the ship that was forced to turn back after setting sail with the Mayflower.  Her parents returned to Holland, where Elizabeth was born. 

Edward and Elizabeth had at least 12 children, all born in Barnstable, where they had moved in 1639.  He lived in Barnstable and then West Barnstable until 1669, when he and six of the children moved to Piscataway, New Jersey.  It isn't known why he moved to Piscataway. Perhaps it was economics or perhaps it was religion. His son Nathaniel had married Mary Holley, and this family was Quaker. Perhaps Edward, or Elizabeth, or both, had Quaker leanings and were ready to be a little more free in their religious practices.  Perhaps it was for economics, or perhaps they had simply been approached and asked to help plant a new colony, much as we would ask someone reliable to help plant a new church. 

It is believed that Edward died in 1674 or 1675.  After a second marriage, Elizabeth was buried beside him in 1713, in what is now St James Churchyard in Piscataway. Their stones were lost when a skirmish was fought there during the Revolutionary War, and breastworks were thrown up against the British.  When the area was cleared after the war, the stones weren't found, so even in death, this couple was giving to the cause of their chosen homeland. 

He is referred to as a "yeoman", which would be a farmer of some importance.  I have not found that he was ever made a freeman of the colony, although that is possible.  He did bear arms and was available for military duty. 

I've used James Savage's Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, quotes from The Descendants of Edward Fitzrandolph and Elizabeth Blossom 1630-1950 by Louise Aymar Christian, and Genealogies of Barnstable Families by Amos Otis for this brief discussion. 

Here's the rather lengthy line of descent:

Edward Fitzrandolph-Elizabeth Blossom
Nathaniel Fitzrandolph-Mary Holley
Samuel Fitzrandolph-Mary Jones
Prudence Fitzrandolph-Shubael Smith
Mary Smith-Jonathan Dunham
Samuel Dunham-Hannah Ruble
Jacob Dunham-Catherine Goodnight
Samuel Goodnight Dunham-Eliza Reese
Margaret Catherine Dunham-Harvey Aldridge
Gretta Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Beeks children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren