Friday, April 17, 2015

Holbook line: John Field 1616-1686, Immigrant

John Field is another mystery.  He is important to our family because he was the immigrant ancestor, and because he seems to be the grand son of the famous John Field, English astronomer and mathematician.  However, little is known about his life.

It is believed that he was born in Thurnscoe, South Yorkshire, England, the son of William Field and Jane Sotwell.  However,  the given year of his birth, 1616, would not permit him to be the son of William, if his birth dates are correct.  He may be the son of one of William's sons, possibly Matthew.  Since we do know John's death year of 1686, he was likely not born much before the date given as 1616.

So if 1616 is correct, then he was quite a young man when he crossed the seas and showed up in what is now Providence, Rhode Island, in 1637.  Providence, of course, was founded by Roger Williams just a couple of years earlier, when Williams was banished from Massachusetts.  The settlers who were in Providence early enough to sign a document agreeing to obey the orders or agreements of the settlement, only in civil things.  He was one of thirteen settlers to sign the first agreement, and one of 39 to sign an agreement in 1640 as to the form of civil government.  We don't know for sure what drove him to Providence but most of the early settlers were there because of their admiration for Roger Williams or/and their desire for religious freedom. 

We know that he acquired or maintained a degree of respectability in Providence, as he is referred to as the Honorable John Field.  He owned land in 1645, in 1655 was made a freeman, and by 1676 was a deputy (probably to a court or council of some kind).  His will, which was submitted on November 22, 1686, showed an inventory of 34 pounds, 19 shillings, 6 pence, but it appears that there may have been more, as the court declined to probate it since a division of property had already been made. 

We know his wife was Ruth Fairbank, possibly the daughter of Jonathan Fairbank and Grace Lee Smith, and they were married in Providence in 1638. Their known children were John, Zechariah, Hannah, Daniel and Ruth. Ruth, widow of John, apparently also died in 1686.  It is believed they are buried in the North Burial Ground, Providence, R.I.

This is as much as I currently know about John Field.  I'd love to know when he came to New England, and why he came to Rhode Island.  Surely he left a record somewhere in New England, if he was in Providence at such an early time.  He must have caught the attention of some church or court, somewhere!  And of course, I'd like to solve the mystery of who his parents really were, as 60 year old couples did not give birth.  There must be more to his story.

The line of descent is:

John Field-Ruth Fairbank
Hannah Field-James Mathewson
Thomas Mathewson-Martha Sheldon
Deborah Mathewson-Joseph Winsor
Lillis Winsor-Nathan Paine
Deborah Paine-Enos Eddy
 Joseph Eddy-Susan Lamphire
Susan Eddy-Hiram Stanard
Louis E. Stanard-Mary Alice Hetrick
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their Descendents

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Allen line: Thomas J. Knott, builder of Nevada

It would take more than one post to write about Thomas J. Knott's life.  I've previously blogged about his response to the murder of his son, Elzy Knott, in Nevada but I haven't really given details of Thomas's life in Nevada.  This is just a brief run down, from a publication I found on line called "Knott Reminiscences  Early History of Nevada in the 1850's, edited by H. Hamlin and printed by the Mountain Democrat, The Pioneer Press of Placerville, California.  I highly urge you to search "Thomas Knott Nevada history" and you should find three or four different copies or versions of the journal so you can read it for yourself.  I'll include here items more of family than of historical interest, so there is much more to be found in the Knott Reniniscences. There is a picture of Thomas in the version I found, so that alone makes it worth going to look for, doesn't it?

As we know, Thomas Knott was born in Jefferson County, Ohio on April 13, 1808 to Joseph Scull and Mary Adams Knott.  He know nothing about his schooling, but he must have had some, because the first job he mentions in this article was as a millwright, when he was 18 years old, so about 1826.  The job must have paid well, because he married in 1828, when he was just twenty years old, to Hannah Bell,daughter of John Bell and Hannah Finch.  The years between 1828 and 1835 were spent building grist mills, saw mills, barns, and flouring mills for the newly developed area in and around Richland County, Ohio.  In 1835, had moved to Steuben County, Indiana, just south of the Michigan state line and there, along with his brother, built and operated a saw mill.  Thomas sold his share to his brother.  In 1836, Thomas also became post master of a small post office called Crooked Creek.  Five years later Thomas was restless again, and moved north to Hillsdale County, Michigan, where he continued as a builder and farmer, and also laid a mile of railroad tracks. 

He appears to have stayed in Michigan until at least 1852, at least there is no mention of an earlier move.  We know that during the first 20 years of his marriage at least 8 children were born (his statement says 9, so we are missing one).  By 1852 Thomas was looking for better opportunities for his family, and one short sentence from Thomas sums up what should probably have been an entire journal in itself.  "In 1852 I crossed the plains to California, and landed in Placerville in 1852."  The following March he crossed over the Sierra Mountains to the Carson Valley, where he built the first saw-mill, grist-mill and threshing machine (!) in the Valley, and was paid in "a large amount of property" by Reese and Co., for whom he had done this work.  He then mentions going to San Francisco for supplies in late 1854, and in in July of 1855 took ship at San Francisco to go home via the Isthmus of Panama and Puerto Rico, again, another story in and of itself, if we only knew what it was.  By now his family was in Huron, Ohio, where Hannah's parents were living. 

The family stayed in Huron County, Ohio, for three years and then moved to Tipton in Cedar County, Iowa.  The dates given in his journal don't agree, so possibly they had moved to Tipton a bit earlier than November in 1858.  At any rate, in November of 1858 Thomas and his son Thomas Jr "took the cars" (went by railroad) to New York City, took a ship to Cuba and then to the Isthmus of Panama again, and then went by ship to San Francisco, where they "took passage" to Sacramento and Placerville, and then went by horseback over the mountains to Carson Valley, where they met son Elzy, who had been left in Nevada to care for his father's interests.  The next year was one of sorrow and heartbreak beyond measure, for Elzy was murdered and a "stacked" jury allowed the killer to go free, and Thomas was cheated of at least $20,000 for work he had done for Mormon interests in Nevada.  In October of 1859 he left Genoa and Nevada for good, again crossing the mountains to San Francisco and crossing the Isthmus of Panama.  He got back to Tipton, Iowa "with just two year's absence" and there he stayed for 7 years. 

In 1877 he and Hannah moved to Egypt, Jefferson County, Illinois and stayed there until Thomas's death on February 16, 1877.  Thomas was buried there, where he at last had found a home.  Hannah died in Tipton in December of 1890, but we don't know when she moved back.  She was buried in Tipton. 

This is just the short version.  The exciting stuff, telling of Thomas's friendship with Kit Carson, his friendly relationship with the Indians, the reasons he was not a friend of the Mormon settlers, are in the publication, just waiting to be read and thought about.  One thing is clear, though.  Without Thomas Knott and other men like him, Nevada would not have been settled and grown at the time in history that it happened.  It took true pioneers, willing to sacrifice everything, and able to take care of themselves in natural catastrophes, religious wars, and Indian uprisings, to build the state. 

We can be proud of Thomas Knott, glad to have his journal and sorry to not have more.  I'm sure he was a great story teller, once you got him going. 

The line of descent:

Thomas J. Knott-Hannah Bell
John Wilson Knott-Harriet Starr
Edith Knott-Edward Allen
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendents

Friday, April 10, 2015

Harshbarger line: Catherine Mancer Harshbarger 1830-1914

I don't often write about women in the family, simply because they are not easy to research.  I think about them a lot, though, and when I find a bit of information about someone I rejoice. 

This is the obituary for Catherine Mentzer (Mancer), who married Lewis Harshbarger on February 26, 1852 in Summit County, Ohio. It comes from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, of Tuesday, September 1, 1914, page 2.

"Whitley County Resident Dies."

"Mrs. Catherine Mancer Harshbarger, widow of the late Lewis Harshbarger, who made her home with her daughter, Mrs. Samuel A. Smith, near the Compton church in Union township, died Monday morning from heart troubles that afflicted her for over two years. Katherine Mancer was born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, on April 30, 1830 and was in her 85th year.  She moved to Summit county, Ohio with her parents and was married to her deceased husband, who passed away forty years ago.  Nine children blessed the union, five living, they being Milo, Emanuel and Henry Harshbarger, Mrs. Samuel Smith, all of this county, and Mrs. George Beatty, of Fort Wayne.  Funeral Wednesday at 2 o'clock p.m., Rev. L.A. Luckenbill officiating.  Interment in the Egolf cemetery, Thorncreek township."

I knew most of the facts in the obituary but it's always nice to have them written down so neatly, and it allows one to wonder.  First, I wondered exactly when the Mentzer family moved from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to Summit County, Ohio.  I don't know exactly when it was, but the family was there in 1840, in Franklin township, under the name Coaured Mincer (don't ask, I don't know how the name got so mangled.)  It looks like her mother, Elizabeth Tullepen, may have been dead by then because Conrad is listed as being 40-49, but there is no one in the right age group to be Elizabeth.  Lea and Caroline, Catherine's sisters, are there, and a male aged 10-14 who may or may not be brother Joel (age is off by a couple of years. Perhaps Joel had already left home and there was another son of whom I know nothing?) 

So Catherine would have been just a young girl when the family left Lancaster County and went to Summit County.  Did they go by river, or canal, or overland?  At any rate, it must have been a very interesting trip, and I hope Catherine learned to like traveling.  A few years after her marriage to Lewis, the family moved, in about 1859, to Union Township, Whitley County, Indiana.  Again, this would not have been an easy trip, although it is possible that much of the trip was by canal.  Lewis was joining his brother John and the families lived side by side in Union Township.  They had to build their homes and farms from the ground up, as it was basically wilderness with at most, a log cabin and a few acres of cleared field when they arrived. 

The obituary mentions 5 living children for Catherine and Lewis, but doesn't mention the three children that didn't survive.  Burying three children was not unusual for a pioneer family, but it wasn't easy, either, especially for a mother.  It also wasn't easy to lose a husband, but Lewis died in 1875.  Most women with young children in the family would quickly remarry, but Catherine stayed single. The 1880 census shows her with three children still at home, ranging from 10 to 14 years old.  They were old enough to help with the farming by then, but those first five years of widowhood must have been physically very demanding.  How did she do it? She stayed on the farm as long as she could, it appears, for she is still there in 1900, by herself now and 70 years old.  Even in 1910, she is still there, although daughter Lovina, now 53, is with her.  Could she have supported herself by renting out the farm, or did she have some other means of making an income?  Did her children support her financially?  I would like to know how she survived, and how long she managed to stay in her own home before dying at her daughter's home.

Meanwhile, I'd like to honor this ancestor of my children.  She is a woman to be admired for her stamina and strength, and her determination to raise her family herself. 

The line of descent is

Lewis Harshbarger-Catherine Mentzer
Emanuel Harshbarger-Clara Harter
Grover Harshbarger-Goldie Withers
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Their descendents

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Beeks line: The Wise men of Lagro

I've learned a couple of things in the past week about David Wise and his father, Andrew.

One is that I found David's veteran enrollment card for the 1890 census in a book prepared by one of my heroes, Ron Woodward.  In my last post about David, I had wondered where he was between 1870, when he is in Dallas township, Huntington county, Indiana and 1900, when he was in Lagro, Indiana living as a widower with his son-in-law and daughter, John and Elizabeth Wise Beeks.

I now know that he was in Lagro in 1890, which helps some.  Other surprises on the enrollment card were that he was in indigent circumstances, (defined as impoverished), which is possibly explained by the answer to the question "If disease was contracted during service, give nature of disease".  It said "partial loss of sight" there, so of course now I am wondering what that means and how he acquired this disease. I'm still saving my pennies so I can send for his Civil War records.  Brother Philip also had a disease contracted during service, "disease on right leg and ankle," but the question about being indigent is not answered.  Philip was also in Lagro, Lagro Township, Wabash County, Indiana.

To go back one generation, to Andrew Wise, the father of these two men, I found a cool document in a book about early ear marks in Wabash county.  An earmark was an early form of branding, because one would mark all one's cattle (or sheep) in the same way and then register the mark with the recorder, in case of a neighborly dispute, theft, or runaway animals.  I found one for Andrew Wise, of Lagro Township, Wabash County, dated November 30, 1844.  I was excited about this because my earliest sighting of Andrew in Indiana had been in the 1850 census, so this puts him in Indiana at least 6 years earlier than that.  If he had been there long enough to acquire cattle or sheep, then he may have been there even earlier.  Also, this indicates that Andrew had at least enough "wealth" to own animals.

One other fun fact was that I found a reference to a John Surfoss in Lagro Township in 1840.  He was about the same age as Mary Serfass, wife to Andrew Wise.  I'm wondering if he was possibly a brother to Mary.  I don't have any siblings for her so it is nice to think she may have had a brother living nearby, if Mary was still alive when the Wise's arrived in Indiana. 

It's been a fun week researching! If you know anything about the Serfass/Surfoss family, or about the Wise family, I'd love to hear from you at happygenealogydancing AT gmail DOT com.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Allen line: Robert Royse 1605-1676 Immigrant

Robert Royse is another of our immigrant ancestors in the Allen line.  (Stay tuned for a fun fact at the end of this post.)  Like many ancestors, we aren't really sure where he came from but it is looking more and more likely that he was christened November 3, 1605 at Ketton CumTixover in Rutland, England, the son of William Royce and possibly Joan Casebird.  (The father I show on my Ancestry tree is Thomas, but that appears to not be as likely as I thought when I entered that information.  It's the wrong location, and Thomas is not a name that was used in any subsequent generation.) 

If William is Robert's father, then he was the fourth of at least nine children born between 1600 and 1616.  That is all that we can say about his childhood and youth, that he had a family and that the family ate well enough that Robert survived.  He married Mary Jackson (shown in the records as "Jugkson") on April 8, 1627 in Saint Michael, Stamford, Lincolnshire.  The young couple had several children, during the first 10 years of their marriage, of whom three died as infants. 

We don't know when the family arrived in New England.  Nehemiah was the last child born there, in 1637, and the next known child, Samuel was born in November of 1644 supposedly in New London, Ct.  The problem with that story is that New London wasn't founded until two years later, in 1646.  It seems unlikely that a single family would have gone to the area ahead of the colony, so more research needs to be done here. However, we do know that at least 4 children were born in the New World, starting in 1644.  That leaves a gap of 7 years in which other children may have been born, and possibly lost.

He owned several pieces of land in New London, some given to him as a recognized early settler of the town, and some that he purchased.  He sold most of this to his sons in the early 1660's.  Even so, his estate when he died in 1676 was valued at 420 pounds, 11 shillings.  This was a good estate for a man who had been a leather worker, shoemaker, and "ordinary" keeper during his life at New London.  He had also been constable of the town and deputy to the General Court during the 1660's, indicating that he was a respected member of the town. His will reportedly left property to his wife, five sons, and three daughters, although we only know of two daughters.  (Perhaps one was born during the 7 year time period mentioned above.) 

The best write up of Robert's life that I found was on Wikitree, and I have used some of the information in that article for this post.  The article lists sources that I want to follow up on, and perhaps more can be learned about the life of this ordinary ordinary keeper, who came to New England and made a better life for himself and his family.

The line of descent is:

Robert Royce-Mary probably Jackson
Jonathan Royse-Deborah Calkins
John Royse-Sarah Perrigo
Moses Royse-Hannah
John Royse-Hannah Bellamy
Elizabeth Royse-William McCoy
James McCoy-Nancy Lane
Vincent McCoy-Eleanor Jackson
Nancy McCoy-George Allen
Edward Allen-Edith Knott
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendents

Fun fact:  Robert is the ancestor of President Millard Fillmore, so we are distantly related to another president.  Is anyone keeping track of these connections?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Holbrook line: John Lazell c. 1620-1700

John Lazell is believed to be an immigrant from England, although I haven't found any information regarding his port of origin, the ship he was on, or the date of arrival.  He is also believed to be of French Huguenot descent, but whether that was one generation further back or more, I have also been unable to determine.  So, far all intents and purposes, as of this writing, the first official mention I can find of John Lasell (Lazell after about 1660) is his marriage to Elizabeth Gates, daughter of Stephen and Ann Gates, by Peter Hobart, on November 29, 1649.  Her family had come to New England in 1638.

The marriage took place an Hingham, Mass., where John had been for at least two years, and where the family settled.  He was a husbandman, or farmer.  It doesn't appear that he was in any kind of leadership position other than a one year term as constable in 1677.  He was made a freeman in 1678.  He gradually accumulated land once owned by Nicholas Hodsen.  He also had a large family of eleven children, with their birth dates ranging from 1650 to 1671, at least 7 of whom survived to have children of their own.

These two short paragraphs sum up what is known of John, until he wrote his will in September of 1695 and died in October 21, 1700, at the age of 89 years, according to his now missing tombstone.  His inventory amounted to 251 pounds, 3 shillings.  I haven't actually seen records of the inventory, so I am not sure whether this is with or without the real estate. 

I'd sure like to know more about John, especially whether the additional data I have is documented.  I show that he may have been baptized at St. Nicholas Church, Hedingham Castle, Essex, England, but I don't have records to support that. (Update before publication.  This appears to be a different John Lassells, as this gentleman died in 1700 and was buried at the church named.  Our John was buried in Hingham, Mass.) I'd like to know if the Huguenot family story is accurate.  I'd like to know who his parents were, and whether he had siblings.  I'd like to know when and why he migrated to Massachusetts, and I'd like to know more about his life in England and also in New England.  Is this too much to ask?

The line of descent is:

John Lazell-Elizabeth Gates
Israel Lazell-Rachel Lincoln
Israel Lazell-Deborah Marsh
Deborah Lazell-Levi Rockwood
Susanna Rockwood-Nahum Holbrook
Joseph Holbrook-Mary Elizabeth Whittemore
Fremont Holbrook-Phoebe Brown
Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendents

Friday, March 27, 2015

Beeks line: David Wise, Civil War veteran: Did anyone know?

David Wise is the great grandfather of some descendents still living, and the great great grandfather of more, and the "ancient" ancestor of many, many Beeks descendents.  I wonder if there is anyone in the family, though, who knows that this man was a Civil War veteran.

I just learned this fact a couple of days ago.  David was the son of Andrew Jackson and Mary Serfass (Ceirfoss, or many other spellings) and was born in 1838 near Sidney, Ohio.  Sometime between 1840 and 1850 the family moved to the area of Lagro, in Wabash county, Indiana, and during that same period Mary disappears from the records.  David is with his father in 1860, and in 1864 married Matilda Martin in Wabash County, Indiana.  A child was born shortly after that, and shortly after that, David and his younger brother Philip were drafted.

They were both "enrolled" on October 21, 1864 and assigned to company I of the 23rd Indiana Infantry Regiment. They were replacement troops for a unit formed around New Albany, in southern Indiana, in 1861.  This unit had lost many of its soldiers due to death, wounds, and illness.  Because they were replacement troops, it's been hard to determine just where they were trained and for how long.  Typically the training for replacement troops was minimal.  This regiment was involved in a lot of battles, but the campaign that was going on when the men likely arrived was Sherman's March to the Sea, from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia.  From Savannah, the men marched north through the Carolinas, and General Sherman accepted the surrender of General Joseph E. Johnston and his troops in North Carolina on April 26, 1865, eleven days after President Lincoln was assassinated. 

The regiment marched in the grand Washington Review, a three day parade of victorious Union troops, and were finally discharged on July 20, 1865 at Louisville.  I'm not sure what happened with David then, because there is a note that he had been ill in the hospital since June 20, 1865.  Did the hospitals continue to treat sick and wounded soldiers?  At what point was David well enough to travel home? Did Philip stay with him until David was ready to go home? 

Obviously I am going to need to save up big bucks to order David's Civil War and pension records.   I hope to learn more about him from the records, but I wanted to get this much of his story written now, while I'm excited to learn about a new Civil War veteran for the family.  I promise another post, when I get the records.

 I also need to learn where he was from 1870, when he and his young family are in Dallas Township, Huntington County, Indiana to 1900, when he is a widower living with his son-in-law and daughter,  John and Elizabeth Wise Beeks, in Andrews, Indiana.  In 1910 he is living with his daughter in Lagro, Indiana and then in 1920 he's back with John and Elizabeth.  He died April 5, 1927 in Andrews.  I don't know where he was buried, but as a Civil War veteran, he is entitled to a marker and I'd like to make sure he has one.

I've learned one new fact and now there are so many unanswered questions.  If someone knows more about David than I've been able to find, please contact me at  happygenealogydancing AT gmail DOT com.  It's always more fun to work together to solve some of these challenges.

The line of descent is:

David Wise-Matilda Martin
Elizabeth Wise-John Beeks
Wilbur Beeks-Cleo Aldridge
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendents