Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Harshbarger line: Cleveland Harshbarger in World War II

I admit it . I nagged,  I begged.  I implored.  Finally, husband and I went to the VA Services Office in Huntington, Indiana, and were able to obtain the separation papers for Cleveland Harshbarger, who served in World War II.  Basically all I knew of his service was that he was a bazooka gunner and that he had been in the Battle of the Bulge  I remember his telling me that things were quiet and then "All Hell broke loose".  That was the extent of my knowledge of his service.  I wanted to know more, so my children, and all of Cleve's children and grandchildren and yes, great grandchildren would know a little of his story. 

What I have been able to find is still just a little of his story, but it is so important that I want to share it now.  More details may or may not be forthcoming, as more records are available, but since most of the records of World War II servicemen men were burned in 1973, we'll never know his full story.  I'm just grateful that Cleve filed these records with the Huntington County recorder when he returned from his military service  He wasn't required by law to do this, so not every soldier filed their separation papers.

From these papers, we know this about his schooling before he entered the Army.  He graduated from Rock Creek High School in 1943, and his civilian occupation is listed as "Student: Had just finished a four year high school course at the time of induction.  Took such courses as typing, bookkeeping, commercial mathematics, general business, algebra, English, biology, wood shop and Latin."

That's the background for Cleve's enlistment in the U.S. Army on November 1, 1943.  He actually entered into active service (left Huntington, Indiana for Ft. Benjamin Harrison) on November 22, 1943, which was just two days before Thanksgiving Day.  He must have missed his mother's good home cooking on Thursday, but perhaps the Fort had a special meal planned, also. 

I don't know where Cleve trained, or whether it was anyplace other than Ft. Benjamin Harrison, due to the loss of records.  However, I know that he was part of the Twelfth Infantry, and I can follow a little of their history.  The unit arrived in England on January 29, 1944 so Cleve likely had basic Army training and not much more, by that time.  He may have received whatever training it took to be an anti-tank gunman (bazooka and probably other weapons) in England. 

The 12th Infantry landed on Utah Beach on June 6, 1944, D Day.  It seems to me that I remember Cleve saying that he went in on D-Day plus 17, which would likely have meant that he went in as a replacement for casualties.  The 12th Infantry took part in the Battle of Mortain (American name; German name was Operation Luttich) from August 9-August 12, 1944, but it is likely they had been doing some fighting in the interim.  Two of the five campaign stars Cleve was entitled to wear were from the battles of Normandy and of N. France, so these actions probably fit the criteria for these two stars.   

He also had a campaign star for Ardennes, which is the Battle of the Bulge mentioned earlier.  The 12th Infantry earned a Presidential Unit Citation for their valor in action in Luxembourg, and also earned the Belgian Fourragere.  We don't know for sure where Cleve was but it was in this general area, and he would have been quite busy.  Cleve was also involved in battles in the Rhineland and Central Europe, for which he also earned campaign stars, but I don't have any details about that time. 

As mentioned earlier, Cleve was in an anti tank company, and the bazooka was the weapon he mentioned to me that he had used, although there may have been others also.  His Separation Qualification Record shows that he spent four months in infantry basic training, twelve months as an anti-tank gun crewman, and six months as a cannoneer. A cannoneer didn't aim the cannon, and he was not supposed to discharge the cannon, although I can't say that he never did that.  His basic job as a cannoneer would have been to pack the shells, set the fuses, and load the cannon. "Under the pressure of a fire mission, these tasks were hellish in the freezing, wet weather of Northern Europe.  If your frostbitten hands were not already cut up from separating the silk powder bags with a knife, you got soaked kneeling down in the puddles and mud that formed around the gun pit. "  Cleve was promoted from private to private first class when he finished basic training, and that is the rank he had when he was discharged.  

He was discharged at the Hospital Center Separation Point at Camp Butner, N.C. on November 5, 1945.  I don't know that he was ill or injured.  Many thousands of soldiers were discharged here so the location name may be a bit misleading.  Or maybe everyone was given a thorough physical before they were released, in case of future VA claims.  Cleve would have been home to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family, but those two years changed him, as they did every serviceman, forever. 

During the next two years, Cleve went to work at Majestic in Huntington, married a young waitress, Mary Beeks, whom he met in Huntington, and settled down to raise a family.  Like other servicemen, even though he was forever changed by his war experiences, he was ready to live his American dream which he had fought so hard to protect.  Honor and respect and a bit of awe is due him and the others of his generation.  We are free because he fought for us. 

The line of descent is:

Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Beeks
Their descendants 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Holbrook line: Nathaniel Henchman, Immigrant

When I started gathering information for this post, all I had was an approximate death date and location, and the name of a daughter.  I don't have a lot more information than that now, but it an hour or so of internet searching (also checking a couple of reference books I own), I have more than I started with. 

The first thing I learned is that most of the trees showing Nathaniel Henchman born in 1640 in Massachusetts and married in 1693 in Massachusetts, then dying in 1695 in Maryland are not correct.  There obviously was a Nathaniel Henchman born in 1640 etc but he is not the one we are still learning about.  Our Nathaniel was in Maryland in 1665, according to both Robert W. Barnes and Gust Skordas. . I have only found the references at this tme and haven't seen the actual books that they wrote, but believe me, this will be high on my list for my next library trip. 

What I found, that is new to me and apparently to most of those who have posted trees for Nathaniel Henchman, is that he was listed in the taxpayer records of 1692 in Baltimore County, Md.  He was listed on both the north and the south side of the Patapsco Hundred, and is denoted by the number one, meaning he was the only taxable person there.  This is not absolute proof of his family status, but it likely indicates that there were no other men over the age of 16 living with him. He apparently lived near his son in law, Jonas Bowen   Also exciting to me is that the constable on the North side was Nicholas Corbin, who is probably the Nicholas Corbin who is a brick wall on our Allen side. 

I was unknowingly either on or very near this land of our ancestors in 1993, when I was in Baltimore on a business trip, because the Patapsco River runs right through Baltimore.  Of course, even had I known, I wouldn't have been able to get the feel of the place even by standing on the actual property, but it still would have been a thrill to do so  The Patapsco River estuary now forms Baltimore Harbor, and in 1665 the settlers likely would not have been very far upriver from there. 

Unfortunately, this is all I know of Nathaniel until we come to his will.  I found a copy of it, too, and it would be very readable is I knew how to decipher the old handwriting.  It was written in October of 1694 and proved in June of 1695.  He left his land and plantation to his grandson, Benjamin Bowen, (will says son of Benjamin but it is believed by others that this was an error and should be son of Jonas Bowen; internal indications of will are that Jonas Bowen, mentioned later, is correct) and other bequests also.  There is mention of his wife, who may be either Mary or Margaret, but we don't know if she was the mother of his daughter.

As far as is known, the only child of Nathaniel Henchman and his wife was Martha, although it is possible that a study of land records would show other children also.  Martha is believed to have been born about 1661, which would mean Nathaniel was born probably 1640 or earlier.  We don't know where Martha was born, either, so that is another of many mysteries still to be solved about this family. 

This is as much as I know of Nathaniel, but it is so much more than I knew when I started this that I am indeed thankful to have learned this much.  The search will continue, and I'm hopeful, because there are apparently so many cousins out there, that someone will contact me with more information. 

The line of descent is:

Nathaniel Henchman-possibly Mary or Margaret
Martha Henchman-Jonas Bowen
Martha Bowen-John Merryman
Martha Merryman-Alexis Lemmon
Alexis Lemmon-Rachel Stansbury
Sarah Lemmon-Abraham Hetrick
Isaac Hetrick-Elizabeth Black
Mary Alice Hetrick-Louis E Stanard
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Holbrook line: Richard Godfrey, Immigrant

Richard Godfrey is one of our ancestors who followed a slightly different path to New England, or at least a later path.  Many of the English ancestors I write about were here by the end of the Great Migration in 1635, but Richard didn't come until possibly 1650 or so.  I'm getting the cart ahead of the horse here, I guess, so let's backtrack.

Unfortunately, if we start at the beginning we don't know where we are, because Richard's parentage is very much a matter of question.  So is his birth location.  He may be the son of a Richard Godfrey born in Wales about 1600, and he may be the Richard Godfrey born in Lancashire, England in 1631, but there is no real proof for either "may be".  So we really know nothing of his life until he shows up in Taunton, Plymouth Colony, in 1652. We don't know whether he landed first at Boston, or landed at Plymouth, and we don't know what he did for a living in England.

 One slightly unusual aspect of his arrival was the timing of it.  He apparently arrived at the end of three Civil Wars in England (one right after another).  Did he come to America to escape military service, or had he already been a soldier?  Was it for purely economic reasons that he came?  What were his religious beliefs?  Plymouth was not generally a good place to live unless one could live in harmony with Separatists.  There was one exception:  If one had a skill that was needed at Plymouth, one would be welcome there.  And there is a possibility that Richard had skills that were needed in the iron making industry.  His wife was (unknown first name but many say Jane) Turner, daughter of John Turner and Jane, and they seem to have been married about 1650.  The location of the marriage is unknown at this time, but if they married in England they may well have come to America to work in the iron works that John Turner co-owned.  Richard's name hasn't been found in company records, but he did own land that was part of the forge

Richard and his wife had six children, but birth dates are lacking.  They were born from "circa 1651" to "say 1660".   Jane died before March of 1669/1670. Richard apparently stayed a bachelor for about 15 years, and then married Mary possibly Hoskins, widow of Mr. Palmer.

We see a few glimpses of Richard's life in that we know he was sentenced to spend two hours in the stocks on training day, for speaking "opprobriously" of some place in the town of Taunton, and 14 years later, was fined five pounds for actions unknown, but apparently they were to the detriment of William Wetherell, who was to receive the money.  His name is found in the records of King Philip's War, as having served but it seems more likely that this was his son, also named Richard.  He was still part of the military company in 1682, however, along with sons Richard Jr. and Robert.   

Richard's will is dated October 4, 1691 and was proved on November 17 of the same year.  His three daughters and son Robert were each given five pounds, and sons Richard and John were to pay the debts and share the remainder of the estate.  His second wife, Mary, was given 20 bushels of corn, one hog and one good cow  Perhaps he expected that she would go to live with one of her children, or his.  His inventory has been lost so we don't know the weapons he owned, or whether he owned books, or whether there was evidence of a religious belief in his home.  But we do know a few things about Richard Godfrey, and with luck, work, and money, perhaps more can be found.

The line of descent is

Richard Godfrey-(Jane?) Turner
Alice Godfrey-Peter Holbrook
Mary Holbrook-Joseph Thompson
Alice Thompson-Joseph Rockwood
Levi Rockwood-Deborah Lazell
Susannah Rockwood-Nahum Hollbrook
Joseph Holbrook-Mary Elizabeth Whittemore
Fremont Holbrook-Phoebe Brown
Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants

There is also a second line:

Richard Godfrey-(Jane?) Turner
Alice Godfrey-Peter Holbrook
Joseph Holbrook-Mary Cook
Jesse Holbrook-Abigail Thayer
Amariah Holbrook-Molly Wright
Nahum Holbrook-Susannah Rockwood

So I think anyone from Nahum Holbrook on down is their own cousin, somehow!  

Friday, January 5, 2018

Holbrook line: Thomas Bliss, Immigrant

While doing a little research about Thomas Bliss, I learned that there are at least two Thomas Blisses in New England during roughly the same time period.  Some trees have them mixed together, and I've spend considerable time trying to apply the right facts to the right gentleman.  I hope I have this correct now.  If I still have some doubts, I'll try to point them out as I go along.  And if I get something wrong, please contact me, especially if you have better sources than I've used!

Thomas was most likely born about 1588 in the village of Preston Parva, Daventry, Northamptonshire, England.  This is pretty much in the geographical center of England, with no ocean waters close.  It may have been largely an agricultural town, but Thomas learned the trade of blacksmithing.  We don't know much about his parents although at least one blog post lists them as John Bliss of Daventry and later Preston Parva, and Alice Smith. Another source gives William Bliss and Elizabeth Oliphant as being his parents.  More research, again, is needed.

Thomas married Dorothy Wheatley on November 22, 1614 in Daventry.  She apparently died in 1631, after giving birth to seven children.  Then it gets confusing.  He may have married Abigail Southam, or that may have been his cousin Thomas who married Abigail.  No record of her death has been found.  It does appear that Thomas and his children by Dorothy emigrated to Massachusetts in about 1638, and it seems a little unlikely that he would have made this trip with up to seven children, if he didn't have a wife or other family member to help with the children.  There is also a slight possibility that the Dorothy Bliss who died in 1631 was a different Dorothy Bliss, and that Dorothy Wheatley Bliss died in 1646 in Rehoboth, Bristol County, Massachusetts.  I'm not finding documentation for that death report, but it could very well exist. 

Thomas and Dorothy's children were Elizabeth, Mary, Jane, John, Thomas, and Jonathan.  They may have also had a daughter Martha, who died young, and possibly Nathaniel, although I wonder if he belongs to the other Thomas Bliss. 

The family, with or without a wife and mother, came to New England in 1637 and settled first at Braintree.  There were granted land there in 1639, and Thomas too the freeman's oath in May 1642 in Cambridge.  Thomas was one of the original proprietors of Rehoboth, where he moved in 1643.  By the time they both died (before October of 1647, when the inventory was taken), they owned 45 acres of land.  Thomas was a blacksmith at Rehoboth, and also a farmer and surveyor.  The blacksmith trade would have supported his family during the lean times, while waiting for crops to grow and debts to be paid. 

Thomas inventory was valued at 117 pounds, 16 shillings and 4 pence, which did not include land or  dwelling.  He had some weapons including one old musket and 2 old swords, and a modest amount of books, but most of the value of his inventory was in either tools belonging to the blacksmith trade, or equipment and animals used in farming. 

I don't have a clear indication of his religion, although his will uses the typical language of giving his soul to God and his body to the earth.  Most likely he was a Puritan, but we don't know for sure that that was the case.  There are other things I'd like to know, also, especially whether he had a wife in New England, and his parentage.  But knowing this much allows us to give him the honor he is due, as a pioneer family during the early days of New England.  Thank you, Thomas Bliss!

Here is the line of descent:

Thomas Bliss-Dorothy Wheatley
Mary Bliss-Nathaniel Harmon
James Harmon-Sarah Clark
Jane Harmon-Samuel Doty
Sarah Doty-Josiah Standish
Hannah Standish-Nathan Foster
Nathan Foster-Elizabeth Lansford
Jude Foster-Lydia M
Betsy Foster-Josiah Whittemore
Mary Eliabeth Whittemore-Joseph Holbrook
Fremont Holbrook-Phoebe Brown
Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Allen line: William Brewster, Immigrant and Pilgrim

It seems somehow fitting that I write the last regularly scheduled Allen family post about the first ancestor our nuclear family learned of . We were given for Christmas one year a typewritten genealogy of the Starr family, and in those pages we found our connection to William Brewster.  I was about 12 years old at the time, and I was one proud young girl.  William Brewster! The Mayflower!  Elder, holding the role of chaplain!  To someone already deeply interested in history, this was a treasure of pure gold.

Much has been written about William Brewster and I could just say "look him up on Wikepedia" and not have to write another word . But because some of my family might not take that step, here is a brief summary of his life.  William Brewster was likely born at Scrooby Manor, Nottinghamshire, England, where his father, also William Brewster, was the bailiff of the archbishop of York (Scrooby Manor belonged to the archbishop) and also the local postmaster.

The first significant event in William's life was his brief period of study at Peterhouse, Cambridge, before he entered the service of William Davison.  This likely meant that he was part of the court of Queen Elizabeth I.  William Davison got on her wrong side and was sent home in disgrace, and our William Brewster went home to Scrooby.  There he took over his father's role as postmaster. 

Whether it was at Peterhouse or somewhere else, William became less and less a proper Anglican and more and more a Separatist.  Scrooby Manor was frequently used as a meeting place by other Separatists in the area, where the group worshipped and planned what to do as the authorities started cracking down on anyone not a full supporter of the Anglican church.  The group decided to leave England, but before they could do so, many of this small group were arrested.  The cell where William Brewster and William Bradford were held is now a tourist attraction, seen on "Who Do You Think You Are?" in the Ashley Judd program.  Eventually the two were released, and made their way to the Netherlands, where other members of the Separatists had already fled. 

The Pilgrims spent 13 years in the Netherlands, which practiced a certain amount of religious freedom.  The group lived in close proximity to each other, and ate many of their meals together.  Here William Brewster practiced the trade of printing, and taught English at Leiden, and made enough money to help support the group in very modest circumstances.  One of the pamphlets he printed angered King James in England, and he had to go into hiding as the Separatists negotiated to buy ships and prepare to leave the Netherlands.

The story of the Mayflower is well enough known that I won't repeat much here.  There was at least one false start, as the second ship intended to go with the Mayflower, the Speedwell, began leaking, and unsuccessful repairs were made.  This was a fearful time for the passengers and the trip across the Atlantic wasn't easy, either.  Once land was sighted, most of the men on board the Mayflower signed what became known as the Mayflower Compact, setting up basic regulations for the way they would live.  Tradition says that this was signed using the top of a chest belonging to William Brewster, which has been preserved. 

The first Massachusetts winter, that of 1621, was terrible for the Pilgrims and at the end, there were only seven men left alive.  William Brewster was one, and William Bradford wrote in his journal of the tender care that Mr. Brewster gave to those who were ill.  William took on many of the roles of a pastor, praying and preaching, conducting graveside services, and encouraging the congregation to live a Christian life.  However, he continually refused to preside over Communion services, so the group had to wait until their pastor, John Robinson, arrived in 1629. 

William's wife Mary, surname still a subject of debate, died in 1627 after having given birth to six children, one of whom died in England.  William did not remarry, and he died April 10, 1644, at Duxbury.  He was about 77 years old at the time of his death. 

Pilgrims were stern people because they had to be.  But they laughed and raised families and felt joy as well as other emotions.  While we may not understand some of their religious beliefs, we can honor them for their faithfulness, for their hard work, and for the opportunity that they saw to "start over" in a new country.  William Brewster is one of my favorite ancestors, and not just because he was the first one I learned about.  I hope he is one of yours, too.

Our line of descent is

William Brewster-Mary
Jonathon Brewster-Lucretia Oldham
Hannah Brewster-Samuel Starr
Thomas Starr-Mary Morgan
Mary Starr-John Chester
Thomas Chester-Sarah Eldridge
Bathsheba Chester-Jonathon Havens
Betsy Havens-John Starr
John Havens Starr-Clarissa Falley
Harriet Starr-John Wilson Knott
Edith Knott-Edward Allen
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendants

Fun fact:  There is a whole list of famous descendants in the Wikepedia article.  We are distant cousins of Katherine Hepburn, Bing Crosby, Nelson Rockefeller, and Zachary Taylor, among many others.  Hello, cousins! 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Last post for 2017: What have I learned this year?

In !ome ways, this has been a hard year for me in genealogy.  I have made only a few really outstanding, "Wow" finds.  I only broke through one brick wall this year, with the help of a distant cousin, and although that was exciting, still, it was only one brick wall and I have many.  At this rate, I will not live long enough to find them all, or even most of them. 

However, the post I wrote about "Introducing Barbara Burkholder Long Buchtel Kemery" brought me great joy, because I had been looking for her for such a long time, and because it gave me more names to search and add to the family tree.  I still don't know who her mother was, other than Elizabeth Miller, but perhaps that will come with luck and time.

One theme this year has been learning more of the stories of some of the collateral ancestors, particularly those with military records.  I've written of the Civil War activities of  George Botkin, a Beeks cousin or uncle of sorts.  I've also learned and written about Aldridge cousin Donald C. Murdock, killed in New Guinea in World War II.  On the Harshbarger side, I've learned and written of the World War II service of Ed Harshbarger and Robert Harshbarger, first cousins to Cleveland Harshbarger, who had stories of World War II service, from the Philippines to the European Theater. 

On the Holbrook side, I've been blessed to connect with a group of people keeping the memory of the First Special Service Force alive.  As I learned, this was the unit my uncle belonged to, which became known as the "Devil's Brigade".  I've learned a little of their history, a little more about my uncle, and have come in contact with people who knew him, or knew of him.  I know there is at least one person still alive who was in the same unit with T/5 Ray Holbrook.  It's been amazing to follow my uncle's story. 

Most of the posts I've written this year, however, have been about our immigrant ancestors.  At the moment, I am out of stories about Beeks and Harshbarger immigrants, and I have just one or two more stories of Allen immigrants.  I expect to spend most of 2018 posting about Holbrook immigrant ancestors, but I will also be busy researching to see if I can find enough information to write about others, and hopefully to even break through another brick wall or two.  There are several that I have hopes for, at this point.

I'm still loving this journey, and I hope you are enjoying following along.  Here's to more happy genealogy dances in 2018!  


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Beeks line: Family Christmas, 1917 What was it like?

Christmas for the Beeks (and Aldridge) families, one hundred years ago, may not have been the wild extravaganza that many families are (almost) able to provide today.  But Christmas, after Jesus, if about family, andthe Aldridges and Beeks provided lots of family, even back then.

Wilbur and Cleo Beeks were the people I thought about when I started considering this post.  They were almost newlyweds, with no children, yet.  I think they still lived in Wabash county because that's where Wilbur was drafted from, a few months into 1918.  Wilbur's parents, John and Elizabeth Wise Beeks, were still living, as were Wilbur's paternal grandmother, Mary Wise, and maternal grandfather, David Wise.  All those Wise's can be pretty confusing, but I'm sure the family knew them as much by first name as by family name.

 William Beeks and Mary Wise had had 10 children, and I only have a death date for one of them. So Aunt Sarah and Aunt Rachel and Uncle George, and so on may have been at family gatherings of the Beeks family.  John Beeks and Elizabeth Wise and three children, and I think both Chester (Bud) and Charity were in the area, also.  I haven't tried to trace children for these aunts and uncles but it's a safe bet that at least some of them had children.

On the Aldridge side, Cleo's only direct ancestors living were her parents, Harvey and Margaret Catherine Dunham Aldridge.  However, at least five of Harvey's siblings were living, and there may have been Dunham siblings, also.  Cleo had five or possibly six siblings who were living at the time, mostly spread out between Huntington County and Tipton County.  Also Harvey and Margaret were raising two of their grandchildren, who would have been part of any Christmas celebration. 

I wish I knew how many, if any, of these families owned automobiles in 1917.  If they didn't own automobiles, it might have been difficult for some of the family members to get together, especially since Christmas Day in 1917 was rather cool.  It was fair and 35 degrees for a high according to the Fort Wayne Journal, which would not have been ideal weather for a horse and buggy ride, at least not a long ride.  And family members who came, or went, as far as Kempton probably would not have gone and come back the same day. . Because of these long distances, it may have been just as difficult to schedule holiday gatherings then as it is now, with our busy calendars and "exes" that have to be worked around. 

I wonder what the family did for entertainment, in the days before smart phones and television and even radio.  I know Cleo sang well.  Did other family members sing, and did the entire group join in singing the Christmas carols we still love so much?  Was sledding or ice skating a part of their day?  I'm positive that food was a large part of the day, and possibly liquid refreshment, also, at least for some of the men. 

Maybe there were family disagreements, and maybe there were things that the family just didn't talk about, but it seems likely that in 1918, the family would look back and realize what a good Christmas they had in 1917.  In 1918, Wilbur was fighting in Russia, Bud was just getting home from the war, and I'm sure there were other family members who were also affected by World War I  Also the flu epidemic of 1918 was still to come, and there were other challenges as well. 

In retrospect, it seems that Christmas 1917 would have been a very good year. 

I'd love to hear from family members who can tell us more about Christmas in 1917.  There must be family stories floating around and I'd love to hear them!