Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Beeks line: Johann Gottfried Neimrich Immigrant, Revolutionary War soldier?

This will be a short post.  My hope is that by keeping this man's name alive, eventually someone will recognize the name and be able to provide additional facts so we can know more about this ancestor.  He is a bit of an anomaly in the Beeks line, because this is the first German family in the direct Beeks line.  He is a bit of an anomaly in the traditional German immigration pattern, because he came to America later than most of the Germans we have traced in the Harshbarger (also a few Allen and Holbrook) lines.  And he's a mystery because so little is known about him.

The one fact we think we know about Johann Gottfried Neimrich (later changed to Nimerick) is that he came to Pennsylvania sometime in 1773, on a ship from Rotterdam.  He was indentured to "Andrew Burkhard and His Assigns" for 4 years and 6 months, for the amount of 28 pounds and 17 shillings.  From this, we can guess that he was a young man, perhaps still in his teens, when he arrived in Philadelphia, because older men generally served only three years as indentured servants.  We can see that Burkhard is a German/Swiss name, and we can wonder if the two families knew each other "back in the old country."  Perhaps Burkhard is even some sort of relative, or perhaps the two met at the dock when Neimrich left his ship for the first time.

At some point Neimrich married Elizabeth, last name unknown, and they had at least three children together, Peter, Jacob, and Mary Elizabeth.  There were likely others, but until church records are found we won't know their names.  Mary Elizabeth is said to have been born in Virginia in 1787, so if this is correct the family may have moved from Philadelphia.

John G. Neimrich is twice mentioned in the Pennsylvania Archives as having participated in the Revolutionary War, and I think this is Johann Gottfried.  He is listed as being part of Von Ottendorff's Corps, in what was known as the "German Regiment," which apparently served from July 12, 1776 to January 1, 1781. He is also listed as being on the roll of Captain Bauer's Company No. 41 but dates are unclear.  These records are in Series 2 Volume XI, page 89 and Series 5, volume 3, page 903.  (Usually I don't mention sources in my posts, but I've not found these noted in any of the on-line information about our subject.  Perhaps I can help someone by pointing this out, and perhaps someone will contact me and say "This isn't our guy and here's why.")  Until I hear otherwise, or find new information, I tend to think this is Johann Gottfried, however, and if so, the Beeks family has another Revolutionary War veteran to thank!  

I would love to hear from others who are researching this man.  Surely someone knows his religion, his occupation, his origin (I did see one internet reference to Prussia, but no documentation), or/and his date of death.  All I can say for sure now is that he was probably born before 1760, and died after 1787.

The line of descent is:

Johann Gottfried Neimrich-Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth Nimerick-William Beeks
John Beeks-Polly Carter
William Beeks-Mary Wise
John Beeks-Elizabeth Wise
Wilbur Beeks-Cleo Aldridge
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendants

Friday, February 5, 2016

Holbrook line: John Whitaker 1660-1713

John may or may not be the immigrant ancestor in this line, because there is some discussion in the world of the internet as to whether he was or was not the son of Aaron Whitaker.  I tend to think "not proven" so we will start with John. 

It's not clear where John was born but it was probably somewhere in Warwickshire or Lancashire, England, although even that it's clear.  The first that is known of John is that he was a servant of Thomas Taylor's in Baltimore County.  Thomas had land surveyed in 1694, so if he served a typical four year period as an indentured servant, he would have been there at least by 1690,and possibly sooner. 

He was married by 1687, when the first of his 9 children were born.  His first wife's name was Catherine, and she was the mother of his children.  She may have died at or shortly after the birth of his last son, Isaac, in 1704.  When he died in 1713, his wife's name was Mary.  We don't know any more at present about either Catherine or Mary.  (It's so frustrating to me when we don't know about the women!!!) 

John eventually owned several parcels of land in Anne Arundel County, and presumably lived there.  There is what appears to me to be speculation (only) that the family was Quaker.  Certainly some of John's grandchildren were Quaker, but I've found nothing that makes me think that these Whitaker's were of that faith.  The children were all baptized at St. George's Parish.  If all the land that John owned was cultivated, then he probably had slaves but there is nothing in his will to indicate that.  We have to keep it in mind as a possibility, however. 

When he died, he left Whitaker's Ridge, 250 acres, to sons John and Charles, the rights to enlargement to sons Peter and Abraham, 150 acres of Whitaker's Ridge to son Isaac and unborn child, and names his wife and daughters Elizabeth, Hannah, and Sarah.  His estate excluding land was valued at just under 100 pounds.   (It doesn't appear that the unborn child survived.) 

That's what is known of ancestor John Whitaker.  I'd love to know more of his story, especially more about his occupation, presumed to be farming, and his religion.  I'd like to know if he had slaves or if he used indentured servants, or how he farmed that many acres.  And of course, I'd love to know who his parents were, and where his origins were in England. 

Our line of descent is:

John Whitaker-Catherine
Elizabeth Whitaker-Daniel Scott
Martha Scott-Daniel McComas
Martha McComas-Robert Amos
Robert Amos-Elizabeth Amos (yes, cousins)
Martha Amos-Peter Black
Elizabeth Black-Isaac Hetrick
Mary Alice Hetrick-Louis Stanard
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Allen line: Edward F Allen obituary index: What does it mean?

I located an index for the obituary for Edward F. Allen on Family Search.  I was supposed to be able to view the actual image but the link isn't working, which is a huge disappointment.  However, the index alone makes me ponder some unanswerable questions.

First, a little background:  The family story has always been that my grandfather was more or less kicked out of his home at the age of 13, (1881 or so) because his new step mother had several young children and there was no room for him in their home.  Presumably, young Ed was left to fend for himself, end of story.  Except, bit by bit, I'm finding information that makes me doubt that story.

For instance, it seems that he was with his brother, George R., in Montana for some period of time in the 1890's, before he became a school teacher in Soda Springs, Idaho  He emulated the man in that both became attorneys, and surely big brother had a bit of influence on him.  Secondly, his father's will in 1915 indicates that Ed owed him $200.  If there had been no contact, why did son owe his father that sum of money?

Now, I find the obituary index.  I don't know who provided the information for the obituary, but I suspect that Ed's oldest son Vernon may have written it, simply because he was the newspaperman of the family.  Still, whoever wrote it mentioned Ed's parents, George R. Allen and Nancy McCoy Allen, his widow and four surviving children, and Andrew Allen, brother, Mrs. Fanny Sweeney, sister, and Frank Nance, brother.  Maybe the obituary itself differentiates and lists Mrs. Fanny Sweeney as a half sister and Frank Nance as a step-brother, but maybe the family didn't consider them to be any differently than brother and sister. This sort of destroys the myth that there was no contact after Ed left home.  We just don't know the story.

So, I got curious.  I wanted to know more about Frank Nance, who was one of the children of Peter and Sarah Powell Nance.  He was born in 1876, the same year that his father died, and he must have been a person of drive and ambition.  I found his World War I draft card, when he was in Chelan, Washington, married to Mabel.  He had been there since at least 1909, when he was granted a degree by the state board of education.  His census information indicates that he had finished four years of college, but I'm not sure when or where that occurred.  At any rate, he was in Washington State for a period of at least 7 years.  By 1920, he and Mabel and his mother, Sarah F. Allen, were living in West Palm Beach, Florida.  (Sarah died there in 1923).  Frank was a real estate agent. 

I have so far not been able to determine whether he became wealthy or even well to do there, but a real estate agent and developer in West Palm Beach in those early years would probably not have starved.  It doesn't appear that he and Mabel had children; at least I haven't located a census showing children.  It's possible that children were born and died between the census years, of course.  Frank lived a very long life, dying in 1973 shortly before his 97th birthday.  His wife Mabel had died in 1966. 

With a brief outline of Frank's life, I next turned to Ed's half-sister, "Mrs. Fanny Sweeney."  Her name was Francis, but she was known in the family as Fannie.  She was born in 1883, and married Herbert E Petty in Jamison, Daviess County, Missouri, on September 4,1901.  I haven't yet found either divorce records or death records for Herbert, but Fanny married Willaim A. Sweany on May 5,1907 in Pattonsburg, Daviess County, Missouri, and lived until 1970.  Fanny and William had at least five children, and if the oldest daughter was theirs, that would make six.  Fanny outlived William by 20 years, dying in 1970, having apparently spent her entire live in Daviess County.

Andrew Allen, apparently the only one of Ed's full siblings to outlive him, is proving harder to trace down.  I haven't located anyone in the 1900 census in either Indiana or Missouri that seems a likely match, or for that matter, in the later censuses, either.  I'm still working on him.

So these are the new questions (lots!) and new answers (a few) just from looking at the index to my grandfather's obituary.  It was printed in the Salt Lake City Telegram 5 on July 11,1940.  I sure hope that link gets fixed so I can someday see the actual obituary.  Who knows what else it would tell me, or hint at?   

Also, I am extremely curious to know if my father knew of these relatives.  We don't recall their names every being mentioned in our home growing up, but that may or may not mean anything.  That is one question that will likely not be answered here on earth.  But here are their names, they were part of my grandfather's family, and it is worthwhile to know a little of their history.  

The line of descent is:

Edward F Allen-Edith Knott
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendants

Friday, January 29, 2016

Harshbarger line, maybe: Peter Gearhart, maybe

Peter Gearhart is not yet connected to the Harshbarger family tree.  The reason I'm writing about him is that Mary Gearhart married Joseph Withers in Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania in 1832.  The only Gearhart I have found in Cumberland County prior to that is Peter Gearhart who married Polly Wallace in 1805 in Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pa.  I have wondered if these are Mary's parents, but so far I have nothing to prove that.

I had been unable to locate anything about Peter Gearhart until this week, when I located a Peter Geerhart in the 1800 census for Tyrone, Cumberland, Pa.  His information provides two possibilities:  He was at this time a man over the age of 45, with a (presumed) wife aged 26-44.  So, it could be that his wife died and he remarried in 1805.  It could also be that one of his two sons aged 10-15 was actually 15, and that he was named Peter, and that he married Polly Wallace in 1805, when he was quite young. 

Or, it could be that I am on the wrong track entirely.  Still, a possibility is better than no possibility, which is what I've had up until now.  I need to do more research in Cumberland County and see what else I might be overlooking.  If anyone reading this has worked on this family, or has other information that would help me with this family, I would certainly appreciate hearing from you.    The chances that I will get to Carlisle to do courthouse and historical society research are pretty slim.  Please email me: happygenealogydancingATgmailDOTcom.

The line of descent is:

Unknown Gearhart/Gerhardt/Geerhart
Mary Gearhart-Joseph Withers
William Withers-Barbara Cook
William Withers-Della Kemery
Goldie Withers-Grover Harshbarger
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Their descendants

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Beeks line: Morris Rees, Thomas Rees and oh my goodness

I worked on the Rees line early in my genealogy life, and determined that this family, or these families, were too much for me to work on, at the time.  Looking back at my early work, I should have stopped several generations sooner than I did, and I would still have had plenty of Rees's to confuse me.  I need to delete some names from the tree, for they surely can't be correct. 

The Rees lines that I am fairly sure of are Morris Rees and Thomas Rees.  They were likely related in some fashion, but whether it was a fairly recent connection, such as great grandfathers, or further back in time and place, I can't say at this time..  In general, I can say that these were Quaker families whose children intermarried, and I can say that they came through Pennsylvania to Virginia, thento washington County, Pennsylvania, and onto Ohio and Indiana.

All this matter Thomas Rees, son of Thomas Rees and Margaret Bowen, married Hannah Rees, daughter of Morris Rees and Sarah Butterfield. Also Jane Rees, another daughter of Thomas Rees and Margaret Bowen, married Jacob Moon.  To make tracing the family just a little more difficult, Thomas Rees who married Hannah named sons Thomas and Morris, and Morris Rees who married Sarah Butterfield names sons Morris and Thomas.  Each of the families also had a son named John, and they each also named daughters Mary and Margaret. 

We, however, are concerned only with the direct lines of Thomas Rees and Margaret Bowen, which would be Thomas who married Hannah daughter of Morris and Sarah, and with Jane, who married Jacob Moon.  The Thomas and Margaret family worshiped near Fredericksburg, Virginia with their neighbors, at the Hopewell Meeting House.  The Meeting House was built in 1759, when families who had fled the French and Indian Wars were coming back to their homesteads.  It's believed that Morris and Sarah were one of the families who had left Virginia and gone back to Pennsylvania during this time period,  Thomas and Margaret had arrived in 1743 and Morris and Hannah about 1753, and Morris's land was located just a little north of Thomas's. 

Thomas who married Hannah moved onto Washington County, Pa sometime between 1774 and 1781.  Thomas's brother, John, had been disowned by the Quakers for marrying outside the faith, and it's not clear whether Thomas had chosen to leave the faith is support of his brother or whether he was still a member in good standing.  As early as 1801, Thomas and Hannah moved on to Fairfield County, Ohio, where he died in 1805 and she died in 1806. This would make them very early pioneers of the state. 

I've previously written about Solomon Rees and his son Owen Traveler, and I've also written about Butterfields and Bowens.  This post is an attempt to fill in the dots and give a little bit of the flavor of life for the Rees family, which was primarily farming and living in the neighborhood and manner of the Society of Friends, the more official name for Quakers. 

I guess I need to work harder to figure out the folks who were in the next generations back from Thomas and Morris, although I realize greater minds than mine have already thrown up their hands.

Here are the lines of descent:

Thomas Rees-Hannah Rees
Solomon Rees-Ann or Anna
Owen Traveler Rees-Margaret Ellen Moon
Eliza Matilda Rees-Samuel Goodnight Dunham
Margaret Catherine Dunham-Harvey Aldridge
Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendants

The other line is:

Jane Rees-Jacob Moon
Thomas Moon-Jean Gray
Margaret Ellen Moon-Owen Traveler Rees
see above

Margaret Ellen Moon and Owen Traveler Rees were second cousins, having Thomas Rees and Margaret Bowen as their common great grandparents.  This was totally acceptable in the time period.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Allen line: Samuel Smith 1602-1680, Immigrant

As I write these sketches, I sometimes struggle to form an emotional connection to an ancestor, usually because I can't find a "hook" to draw me into the story.  With this man, I have tears running down my face.  Why?  He left instructions for each of his grandchildren to be given a Bible as soon as they could read the same, "and my will is that within every Bible bequeathed as aforesaid my executors cause to be written fairly & legibly the last verse of the eleventh of Ecclesiastes & the first verse of the twelfth chapter."  He had a message to impart to his descendants, which he would likely be happy to extend to us.

Samuel Smith was born (or baptized) October 6, 1602, at Hadleigh, Ipswich, Suffolk, England.  The church there is St Mary's, and is still an active Anglican church.  Much of the church, which has been restored, is very similar to what Samuel's parents, Samuel Smith and Barbary Mumforde, would have seen at the christening ceremony.  (Barbary would likely not have been there, as babies were usually christened right away.)  To put this in a little bit of context, Queen Elizabeth I was still alive at this time, so we are talking about people ruled by the Tudors. Sometimes it's hard to remember that the lives of our immigrant ancestors overlapped the last of the Tudors.

Samuel married Elizabeth, possibly Smith but not as is so often reported, Chileab, in St. Mary's, Suffolk, England on October 6, 1624.  We don't know who her parents were, but she appears to have been born at Whatfield, which was about two miles from Hadleigh, so our couple likely knew each other for some time before their marriage.  They had four children before they emigrated together to New England in 1634 on the Elizabeth of Ipswich.  They left April 30, 1634 and went to Watertown in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  There Samuel was made a freeman on September 3,1634, almost as soon as they arrived in Watertown, and shortly thereafter he moved the family to Wethersfield, in what would become Connecticut.

Life there was not dull.  Two more children were added to the Smith family, but in addition, there was the Pequot war, in 1637.  On April 23,1637, six men and three women were killed in an attack, and two girls were taken captive.  This was a small town at the time, so the loss of 9 adults and possibly two children would have hit the survivors quite hard, one would think.  A few years later,  Wethersfield went through at least three witchcraft trials.  Three of the colony were executed and one was banished.  I'm not sure which would frighten me more, Indians, or supposed witchcraft.  These were in addition to the usual trials of weather, wild animals, and possible crop failure, so life wasn't easy for our Smith family.

Samuel's occupations are listed as fellmonger (dealer in hides or skins), glover  (maker or seller of gloves and other leather goods), and innkeeper, but we don't know how the occupations overlapped or when he left one occupation for another.  We do know he had enough free time to serve as the Deputy to Connecticut general Court regularly from November 14,1637 to May 16, 1656.  He also served on various military committees and Connecticut petit juries.  He appears to have been part of the court that sat on the witchcraft trials of John and Joan Carrington, in 1651, that sentenced them to death.  (If he didn't sit on any of the witchcraft trials, he certainly would have known about them and followed them closely.)

A church fight may have been the motive for moving to what became Hadley, Massachusetts in 1660 or 1661.  Samuel was again selected as a deputy to the Massachusetts Bay General Court from 1661 to 1673. During much of this time, we was also a magsitrate for Hampshire.  He was empowered to solemnize marriages and take depositions in Hadley in June of 1677 and was the commissioner to "end small causes" for most of the time period from 1661 to March 1680.  He had been an "ancient serjeant to the trained band in Wetherslfield" and was appointed lieutenant of the train band at Northampton, which position he filled until 1678.  At that time, he requested a discharge as he was "very aged & weak, and not being so well able to discharge military trust as heretofore" and his request was granted.  He would have been 76 years old at this time.

Samuel's will was dated June 23, 1680, and proved March 29,1681.  He left land to his sons Philip and Chileab, and to the son of his son John, but left just five shillings to his namesake son Samuel.  Son Samuel had married briefly, abandoned his wife, become a womanizer, went to Virginia and ended up in Carolina, undoubtedly to the total dismay of his parents.  The five shillings bequest may have been to prevent a challenge to the will, but it may have been more than he wished to give.  Elizabeth lived five more years, dying in 1686.

Oh, the verses that Samuel wanted inscribed on the Bibles for his grandchildren?  "Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart and put away evil from thy flesh; for childhood and youth are vanity.  remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them." (Quoted from the King James Version). The grandchildren would have cause to remember Uncle Samuel, and to consider the words their grandfather had left them, and to make their own choices in life. 

The line of descent is:

Samuel Smith-Elizabeth
Mary Smith-John Graves
Sarah Graves-Edward Stebbins
Sarah Stebbins-John Root
Sarah Root-Thomas Noble
Stephen Noble-Ruth Church
Ruth Noble-Martin Root
Ruth Root-Samuel Falley
Clarissa Falley-John Havens Starr
Harriet Starr-John Wilson Knott
Edith Knott-Edward Allen
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendants

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Holbrook line: Edward Thurston, Immigrant

Edward Thurston is interesting to me because not only was he an immigrant, he was a Quaker.  Records of his immigration to New England have not been found, at least not by me, so we are left wondering when he arrived and when and where he became a Quaker.  Family tradition says that he came to New England in 1638 with two of his brothers, but I am not aware of any documentation of this.  If this is true, he was in Cambridge, Massachusetts Colony for at least a brief period of time.

Also uncertain is exactly where he came from.  Most trees show Cambridge, England as his birthplace, and Adam Thurston and Ellen Wood as his parents.  If this information is correct, he is not known to have had brothers and sisters, although since he was born in 1617 and his mother didn't die until 1625, there likely were siblings. 

The first thing that is really known about him is that he was married in Newport, Rhode Island in 1647 to Elizabeth Mott, daughter of Adam Mott and Elizabeth Creel.  This is in the Quaker records for the town, so indicates that both the groom and the bride were of the Society of Friends.  For immigration, Edward may have gone directly to Rhode Island, but it seems more likely that he, as most of his neighbors, was in New England first and then either ordered out by authorities, or left as things were getting too warm in the area for Quakers.

Once in Newport, we don't know how Edward supported himself.  He seems to have been an educated man.  He signed a petition to the King asking that Quakers be excused from bearing arms in 1686, and another letter four years later congratulating William and Mary on their accession to the throne of England.  He was also very active in town affairs, serving as deputy or assistant deputy to the General Court frequently over the years.  He was made a freeman in 1655, which meant he had a vote in the affairs of the town,but I'm not sure whether it meant he owned property or not.

Edward and Elizabeth had 12 children, 6 sons and six daughters.  Their family must have respected the father because there are numerous "Edward Thurston's" who were born in Rhode Island over the next 100 or more years, all presumably descendants of the immigrant, and many who became prominent or at least useful in the colony.  He died March 1, 1707, either age 90 or in his ninetieth year, depending on the source.  Elizabeth had died in 1694. 

Even though I have not yet been able to learn much about this man, I know enough to believe him to have been a man of integrity and faith.  I'd love to know more about his life, especially how or if any of the Indian wars affected him, as a Quaker, and how his faith might have shown in his life.  We have brief hints, but not much more. And of course, I'd like to know for sure where he was born, and more of his life in England, as well as exactly when and why he emigrated.  And most of all, I'd like to know if Edward knew another of our ancestors in Newport with strong religious (Baptist) beliefs, Obadiah Holmes.  If so, were they friends or "not so much"?

The line of descent is:

Edward Thurston-Eliabeth Mott
Sarah Thurston-John Thornton
Benjamin Thornton-Mary possibly Gurney
Sarah Thornton-Stephen Paine
Nathan Paine-Lillis Winsor
Deborah Paine-Enos Eddy
Joseph Brown Eddy-Susan Lamphire
Susan Eddy-Hiram Stanard
Louis Stanard-Mary Alice Hetrick
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants