Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Allen line: Richard Smith 1595-166, Immigrant

I'd like to be more confident in what I'm writing about Richard Smith.  As you can see, it's a common name and even in a small town the size of Wethersfield, Connecticut there may have been as many as three Richard Smiths there during the lifetime of our ancestor.  Mostly I'll be writing about the more likely and unlikely possibilities, instead of being more definite about the facts that I usually find. 

Richard Smith was probably born about 1595.  He may have been the son of John Smith and Alice Walker, but others have disputed this and I certainly don't have anything more to add to the story.  He did marry Rebecca Buswell, daughter of Roger and Margaret Buswell on February 13, 1615 in Husbands Bosworth, Leicester, England.  It is a small village now and may have been even smaller when the couple were married.  The church dates from the 1500's so one could presumably visit there if desired, and see the actual location.  

It's been suggested that Richard came to Connecticut as early as 1635, but that is based on the idea that he was the son of John and Alice mentioned above.  It seems to me to be just speculation until his parentage is firmly established.  At aany rate, it appears that all of their six known children were born in Husbands Bosworth, with Abigail being born in 1638,  So sometime after that time, the family arrived at Wethersfield, which is on the Connecticut River, and is now just south of Hartford. (At the time, probably several miles separated the two towns, with travel back and forth being done by ship). 

Wethersfield was the scene of three witch trials while the Smiths lived there, which indicates that the town had problems and also that the town in general was a Puritan town.  We know that Richard was on jury duty in 1650, when he was at least 55 years old and some have guessed he was actually 72 or 73 at this time.  He was involved in some sort of law suit in 1652, and there are records for land he sold or gave to family members.   He died about 1669,still in Wethersfield.

That is as much as is known about Richard Smith, husband of Rebecca Buswell.  We can hope that he had a trade, or skill as a farmer, or something that supported the family, but we don't know what that was.  There apparently was no will, as he gave his assets to family members, particularly all his remaining real estate to his youngest son Jonathan  Rebecca is thought to have preceded him in death by about two years.

As is so often true, there's much more work to be done to identify Richard Smith and to tell his story.  We don't know when he came to America, or why, or what he did after he arrived here.  We don't know the extent of his religious commitment, or even whether or not he could read.

 Oh, one cool note...We do know that both Richard and his wife were treated by John Winthrop, Jr, the governor of Connecticut.  His brief Wikipedia article doesn't describe any medical degree or training, so that leaves me a little confused.  I'll keep looking for an explanation for that!

The line of descent is:

Richard Smith-Rebecca Buswell
Susanna Smith-Simon Hoyt
Benjamin Hoyt-Hannah Weed
Hannah Hoyt-Daniel Scofield
Hannah Scofield-Nathaniel Finch
Jesse Finch-Hannah
Hannah Finch-John Bell
Hannah Bell-Thomas Knott
John W Knott-Harriet Starr
Edith Knott-Edward Allen
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendants




Friday, May 19, 2017

Harshbarger line: No more ancestor stories, for now

At the moment, I am out of names in the Harshbarger line to write about.  Either I've written about them back to their home in Germany or Switzerland (mostly) or I'm not able to find them any further back than whatever their birth or marriage date is, here in the states.  Unfortunately there are quite a few of those names, such as Mary Gearhart, Joseph Withers, Joseph Kirk, Tobias Miller, Peter Ulrich Schnerr, Jacob Kestenholtz, and others.  There is more to be found about these people, I'm sure, but I'm also sure that at this point I don't have the knowledge to do it.  So for now, this might be the end of the Harshbarger posts-until my next discovery.

I have had some thoughts about the more recent Harshbarger lines.  In contrast to the Beeks family, who is somewhat well documented in local newspaper accounts, I have found nothing at all about the Grover Harshbarger family in the 15 years (1927-almost all of of 1942) of newspapers I've read for the Huntington Herald Press.  Obviously one explanation is that the Harshbarger family was small and the Beeks family was large.  But other factors may play in to the difference also.  Grover was a hard working man and Goldie, as far as is known, stayed at home to raise her son.  They didn't get into legal trouble.  They weren't leaders in any church or other organization. They had no musical talents that meant they would be called on to sing at funerals. They didn't have auto accidents (I'm not sure when they actually got their first car, but it would have been before they moved to the Majenica area, surely).  I haven't found their name in any of the "removal" columns either, so I'm not sure exactly when the move was.

The point I'm making is that many ancestors were like the Grover Harshbarger family.  They weren't highly educated, or maybe not educated at all, and the friends they had were also low profile people.  They likely engaged in some of the same activities that more publicized families did, such as get togethers with neighbors, basket dinners, helping each other out. Perhaps they voted, perhaps they didn't, but they likely had political opinions that were not noted in letters to the editor. Lots of good people are hard to trace even 75 to 80 years ago.  No wonder they are hard to trace back in the 1700s! 

I'm not sure how I'm going to handle the loss of the Harshbarger family lines, as far as blog posts go.  Maybe I'll make a discovery in the next two weeks that will allow me to postpone having to make that decision.  I've truly enjoyed learning more about this family, starting from the information I had in my wedding book (great grandparents) and working both backwards and sideways, to learn the stories of the ancestors I've found.  When I started, all I "knew" of the origins was that the Harshbargers were "Pennsylvania Dutch."  They are so much more! 


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Beeks lines: "Bits and Pieces from my Andrews research"

Most of my very few readers know that I am currently reading newspapers for a possible second book about Andrews history.  I am fortunate in that while I am reading Huntington, Indiana newspapers I occasionally come across some articles that "fill in the blanks", or at least a few of them, about the Beeks family.  Maybe everyone(!) who reads this post will already know this information, but it was all news to me. 

First, a little on the light hearted side, Wilbur Beeks seemed to get called for jury duty with great regularity.  I don't know what happened, but in May of 1941, when he was again called for grand jury duty, he apparently asked to be excused.  I don't know whether this was the first time, or what the reason was, but here's what the Huntington Herald Press said on May 18,1941:

"TWO GRAND JURORS EXCUSED BY JUDGE

Remaining Xis Expected to meet Thursday, 9 A.M.

William E Norris, Jackson township farmer and Wilbur Beeks, of Andrews, members of the Huntington county grand jury, have been excused from serving in the session set to begin Thursday, 9 a.m. (cdwt) according to entries made on the court record by Judge Otto H. Krieg. 

The entries set out that the men presented "good and sufficient reason" and accordingly were excused. 

The riding bailiff has summoned Ora Baker, Jefferson township, to take Beeks place.

Beeks, seventh man drawn for the April term grand jury, was summoned when Norris was excused.  When Beeks was excused the eighth and last man was summoned..."  So, what was the good and sufficient reason, I wonder?

Now, to information that was to me both interesting and sad, besides being new to me.  The first was an article from the same Newspaper of November 7,1941 headed "John Wise Dies at Home of Nephew in Andrews."  Briefly, it told the story of John Wise who had died at the home of Wilbur Beeks, with whom he had lived for some time. I've never heard of this man, other than that he was the son of David and Matilda Martin Wise, so I had to go out looking for information.  He was not to be found in the 1900 census, at least not that I recognized, but in 1910, 1920, and 1930 he was listed as a farm worker.  In 1910 and 1920 he apparently worked on the farm of two sisters (not his) in Lagro Township, wabash County, and in 1930 he was a laborer already living with Wilbur (and Cleo) Beeks.  Perhaps the two women he worked for had died, as they were considerably older than he was.  He lived with the Beeks family for at least 10 years and possibly longer, until his death at age 69.  The only other named relatives were his nephew Chester Beeks of Chicago, and his niece Mrs. Charity Carpenter, also of Chicago.  I learned from the census that he had a seventh grade education and could read and write. 

There are those living who could tell more of John's story.  I'd like to know more about him.  For instance, I didn't find him in a WW I draft registration index.  Was he simply too old to be drafted?  What about the Spanish American War?  I have no reason to think he served in the military, but it's possible.  Did he have some physical handicap that kept him from living a more expansive life, or was he simply a happy go lucky man who didn't have a lot of ambition?  And what was he like?  There will soon be no one left to remember him, and I'd like to know his story.

Finally, there was another obituary, which had some surprising information.  Printed in the November 29, 1940 Huntington Herald Press there was an obituary for Mrs. Dorothy O. Huston.  She was the daughter of Harvey and Margaret Aldridge, and the sister of Cleo Beeks, among others.  She died at the age of 46 after having been in failing health for several sears, and being bedfast for two years. 

Survivors included her husband, Frank, four daughters, four sons, four grandchildren, two brothers and two sisters.  Three sons preceded her in death.  What surprised me was the number of children, and also the fact that I think I knew some of them.  Mrs. Doris Reynold of Lagro and Roy Huston were the two who appear to have established their own households.  Vivian, Bernetta, Lois, Alven, Marvin and Walter all lived at home.  Brother Frank Aldridge lived in Wabash and Samuel Aldridge in Midland, Michigan.  Sisters were Mrs. Cleo Beeks of Andrews and Mrs. Stella (should be Della) Harrell of Lancaster township. 

I'm coming to the conclusion that there are a lot more cousins out there than I knew about.  I know a Beeks reunion would be very large, but an Aldridge reunion would be awesome!!  And all this news was because I read some newspapers.






Friday, May 12, 2017

Holbrook line: Walter Haynes 1583-1665, Immigrant

How do I condense the life of this immigrant ancestor into a few paragraphs and still tell a little of his story?  We are fortunate to know so much about Walter Haynes, as he was a linen-weaver by occupation.  We would probably have been considered a tradesman, rather than a farmer but most likely raised at least some crops for his family.  Not everyone is so fortunate as to have this much information about a tradesman ancestor, so I'm not complaining.

Walter Haynes was born in 1583 in Sutton, Mandeville, Wiltshire, England.  It's a small village not far from the south central coast of England,  There is a 13th century church there, with the tower built in the 15th century.  Walter's parents, probably John and Alice Lambert Haynes, would have been very familiar with this church and likely Walter was, too.  We don't know when or if Walter became a Puritan because despite considerable information about him, I don't find mention of a church allegiance.

He and his wife Elizabeth left England on April 24, 1638 on board the "Confidence" and arrived in New England in June of that year. Boston and the surrounding small towns would have been new then, and anxious for skilled men such as linen-weavers to arrive and help build the colony.  When Walter arrived, it was with five of their six children, and three servants.  Walter was already 55 years old so it was likely that servants were necessary to do some of the hard work of building a home and a town.

Walter first lived in Watertown, probably while the plans were being completed for the founding of the town known as Sudbury.  He was granted land there in December of 1639, and the first houses or lean tos were constructed then.  Let's hope that he had a house constructed!  The first church was organized in 1640, and it seems likely that Walter was a member if only because he was made a  freeman in 1641 and was frequently a selectman, and also a representative to the General Court.  .  We are also told that Walter Haynes's first house was made into a garrison during King Philip's War (1675-1677), after Walter and his wife had both died.  This indicates that the house he constructed, or had constructed, was substantial.

Elizabeth tied in 1659 and Walter wrote his will at about that same time.  He lived for six more years, dying February 14, 1665.  At his death, he left property in England to the daughter who had stayed in England, and his inventory amounted to 495.18.10, which would not seem insubstantial for a linen weaver.  I'm proud to call him an ancestor.

The line of descent is:

Walter Haynes-Elizabeth
Suffrance Haynes-Nathaniel Treadway
Elizabeth Treadway-Joseph Hayward
Lydia Hayward-John Hanchett
Hannah Hanchett-John Stannard
Libbeus Stannard-Eunice Pomeroy
Libbeus Stannard-Luceba Fay
Hiram Stanard-Susan Eddy
Louis E Stanard-Mary Alice Hetrick
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Allen line; Robert Johnson died 1661, Immigrant

There are a lot of stories about Robert Johnson on line, but not a lot of good, documented information.  I'm not sure but I think it's possible that two Robert Johnson's have been combined and confused, and that makes it hard to determine which Robert Johnson is ours.

The esteemed genealogist Donald Lines Jacobus in his "Families of Ancient New Haven" gives the idea that three brothers came from Hull, Yorkshire, England, and from that others have apparently jumped at the conclusion that Robert is the son of Abraham who was the son of Robert Johnson son of Maurice Johnson, who was an alderman of Stanford in Lincolnshire.  I'm not sure this holds up under scrutiny, but it's possible.

I'll start with what I believe to be correct.  Robert Johnson was in New Haven, Connecticut as early as 1641.  At least two more generations of Johnsons lived in New Haven, and their records seem to be a little more easily traced.  So that's helpful, to show that Robert was an early resident there 

William Richard Cutter says that Robert came to Boston in 1637 from Kingston on Hull, Yorkshire, England, where he was in business.  He brought his wife "Adlin" and four sons, Robert, Thomas, John, and William.  There is some belief that Aldin may have been a second wife, but so far no records have been produced to indicate whether this is so or not.

The first I can really find about Robert is that he was in New Haven, Connecticut in 1641, and that this is where he spent the remainder of his days.  He is believed to have been born sometime between 1603 and 1612, but again, there is no known documentation.  It makes sense based on the ages of his known children to think that it would be closer to 1603, since some of his children are believed to have been born in the early to mid 1620's.

We see him in 1641 in New Haven in a dispute with his brother, John.  He had loaned money to John back in England, and John apparently did not pay him back. the house had been pledged as security, or so Robert thought. In the 1640's he was several times appointed to committees to resolve disputes about crops damaged by cattle and hogs, and to determine how much corn each farmer was growing, that the town would be responsible to buy.  He bought 91/2 acres of land "in the Necke" and also had recorded 62 acres of "upland" he had purchased from Thomas Yale, both in 1646.  He apparently also owned a dwelling or land in "Yorkshire quarter", which was disposed of in his will.

That is pretty much what is known of Robert Johnson.  If he was descended from Maurice Johnson then there is likely more material to be found regarding his ancestry, and hopefully more clues to his occupation, religion, and other mundane matters that bring our ancestors to life.

For now, we will leave him at the end of his life, in 1661, in New Haven.  He chose to live there and had been there at least 20 years, watching his family grow and settle in to the new land they had come to.  I am thankful that men like Robert Johnson were willing to come to America and build this new land!

The line of descent is:

Robert Johnson-Adeline
John Johnson-Hannah Parmalee
Samuel Johnson-unknown
Mary Johnson-Matthew Bellamy
Hannah Bellamy-John Royse
Elizabeth Royse-William McCoy
James McCoy-Nancy Ann Lane
Vincent McCoy-Eleanor Jackson
Nancy McCoy-George Allen
Edward Allen-Edith Knott
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendants

Friday, May 5, 2017

Harshbarger line: Jacob Maag 1703-1767 Immigrant

Every time I write a Harshbarger blog post now, I fear that I've found the last ancestor who is "findable", and it makes me feel like a failure even though I've set the rules for this post, and I could always change them.  The rues are pretty loose.  It needs to be a direct ancestor (for the most part) and it needs to be an immigrant or have another compelling story to tell.  Of course, I could always break those rules, and I may have to, if I want to keep writing about people in the Harshbarger line.

However, I did find "just one more" ancestor who is an immigrant and from everything I can tell, is a Harshbarger.  He follows much of the typical Harshbarger story, which is a good thing because I don't have very many details about him.  Jacob Maag was born in Endhori, Zurich, Switaerland.  He was born or baptized on May 22, 1703.  His parents are given as Heinrich Maag and Klienvre Volkhart, or Jacob Maag and Barbara Surber.  There are good reasons to accept either pair of parents but I have no opinion.  It's enough to know he came from Endhori, which may have been a small town on the southern border with Germany, near Zurich.


Jacob was 42 when he came to America on the  "Loyal Judith" in 1743, according to the ship manifest.  There was also a Henry or Heinrich who was 15, and who is as yet not identified to my satisfaction.  He could be a younger brother, or a son, or nephew.  It is possible that Jacob went back to Switzerland a few years later and brought his family back, as it seems he didn't take the oath until 1746.  Usually the oath was taken as soon as one stepped off the ship.  Or the 1746 date could possibly be a typo. 

Jacob married Anna Surber, as yet not further identified, in Bolach, Zurich Canton in March of 1721.  I've found several conflicting records of their children but they had several, and they seem to have all come to America also.  I found a will that Jacob witnessed on April 17,1748, for Maria Gertraut Seibel, in Philadelphia.  I've not yet determined whether she was a family member or a friend.  I've found a listing for him at the Red Lion Inn in 1758 in Philadelphia and one mile from Germantown in 1761, so it doesn't appear that he left the immediate area, although I've not yet found land records.

He and his wife "Barbara" were sponsors for two of the children of Isaac Wetstein (Whetstone) and Anna Maria's children, and also for other Maags.  These records are in the First Reformed Church of Philadelphia.  This church began as a German Reformed (Calvinist) church but the Maags would have been quite at home there and may well have been German speaking even though their home was in Switzerland. 

I haven't found Jacob's will yet but I've found a reference to it, so I'm anxious to see it  He died May 18, 1767, in Philadelphia.  The fact that he stayed so near to, or in, the city makes it likely that he was a tradesman or merchant of some kind.  I'd sure like to learn his occupation.  The "city" dwelling aspect here is a little different than those of the family who have farmed, and that makes him interesting.  I'd love to learn more of Jacob's story!

The line of descent is:

Jacob Maag-Anna Barbara Surber
Anna Maria Maag-Isaac Whetstone
Jacob Whetstone-Anna Maria Schaeffer
John Whetstone-Maria Magdalena
Catherine Whetstone-Henry Cook
William Cook-Elizabeth Brown
Barbara Cook-William A Withers
William H Withers-Della Kemery
Goldie Withers-Grover Harshbarger
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Their descendants

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Beeks line: Jason Wheeler 1765-1843, some thoughts

Jason Wheeler is one of the brick walls that is driving me crazy.  Most trees out there give a definite date of birth for him, of October 4, 1765, and an approximate death date of 1843, supposedly in Marion County, Indiana.  I have no reason to dispute those dates except that I can't find documentation for them.  My hope is that the birth date came from a family Bible somewhere, and that someone seeing this will contact me with more information. 

So the only real thing I have to go on is his birthdate, and the fact that the 1850 census shows his widow, Patience, or Palina possibly, as having been born in Vermont.  So the 1791 census (called the 1790 census on Ancestry, but it was taken a year later than the rest of the country) shows a Jason Wheeler in Lunenburgh, Orange County, Vermont.  This is the only Jason Wheeler in the entire 1790 census, so I'm going to assume this is our guy.  I have bits and pieces through land records and census records of the rest of his life.  He and Timothy Wheeler (a possible brother, possibly named for Timothy Nash) went to Chenango County, New York and then Jason moved on to Clermont County, Ohio, before the final move to Marion County, Indiana.  The dates and time frame aren't really part of this discussion, because I want to focus on the early years of Jason Wheeler's life-in fact, his earliest years. 

Specifically, I would like to know who his parents were.  Every tree that ventures a guess seems to think his father is Joseph Wheeler, from Smyrna, Cobb County, Georgia.  If someone has proof of this I sure would be pleased to see it, but on the face of it this doesn't seem likely.  Going from Georgia to New York (where Joseph supposedly died) is not a usual migration path, and none of Jason's known children are named Joseph.

Let's leave that name alone for a while and apply some of the thought processes that family historians rely on.  We know that family tended to stay together, so let's look at the other Wheelers in Orange County, Vermont in 1791.   There are quite a few, but the one closest geographically is George, who is in Guildhall, which is basically right over the line from Lunenburgh.  In fact, the two men probably thought they were living in the same town, until a 1786 survey showed that the border was not where the towns thought they were.  George Wheeler's name is on some petitions in 1786 and 1788, and Jason's name joins his in 1788.  George's 1791 census shows that he still has quite a large family, with a total of 10 people in the household.  As a further note, Lunenburgh and Guildhall were each very small communities, with only 16 heads of households listed in each town in that year.  George and Jason are the only two Wheelers here. 

The only record I've found for a child for George is George Junior, who was born in 1773.  That doesn't mean that this was the only child the family had, though.  I've found that George first went to the area that became Guildhall in 1764, as one of a small group of people that also included Timothy Nash and David Page.  These men settled in the area, with George pitching a tent on the south side of Fiske's pond (which I've not yet located on a map; it could be drained by now).  There is a reference to the Wheeler family being there in the early years but it's possible that at least for the first year or two that the family joined George only for the warmer months. 

So who was George Wheeler?  Well, the record for George Junior's birth shows his parents as George and Experience Wheeler.  George Wheeler and Experience Nash (she seems to be the daughter of the Timothy Nash mentioned above, and Experience Kellogg) were married in Shutesbury, Massachusetts on March 17, 1764.  Jason was born about 19 months later.  If we count back nine months from October 4, 1765 we arrive at early January, 1765, a time when it would make sense for the couple to have been together, if George went back to Shutesbury that first winter.  It's an "if", but it may be a reasonable "if".  And if Jason was born in Vermont in early fall, it makes sense that his birth records would either be non-existent due to the pioneer experience, have been lost, or are somewhere in the archives of either New York or New Hampshire, each of which was claiming this land at the time. There are no further records for George Wheeler in Shutesbury, so he must have gone someplace.

George served in the Revolutionary War under a New Hampshire group, in Captain Bedell's company, and again in 1782 in a group credited to Vermont.  I haven't done a lot of digging on the war story because I'm still trying to piece together a timeline and figure out how much sense this idea makes. 

George is in Lunenburgh, now Essex County, in the 1800 census.  He is about the age of 45, so born earlier than 1755, and still has 5 people living with him, plus a woman over 45 who is presumably his wife, Experience.  After that, I can no longer locate a likely suspect to be George.  He may have died between 1800 and 1810, or he may be living in a child's home, but since we don't know the children to check that is hard to determine at this point.  Jason, meanwhile has moved on to Frankfort, Herkimer, New York in 1800 (again, he's the only Jason I can find in the 1800 census).  He is apparently married (best guess for marriage date is 1788 or so) and has six children living in the household.  One of these children is a son named George, born in 1799. 

I have no smoking gun here.  I haven't found a will for George, or estate papers, land records or pension records.  I don't know what happened to him.  I have geographic location, opportunity, and names (some of Jason's children used the name George, also, which may be for George Wheeler, or could be for George Washington)  This is more than I can find for the supposed Joseph.  

What do my genealogy friends think?  Are George and Experience strong possibilities for Jason's parents?  Where else can I look?  I'd sure love to add these names to the Beeks family tree, and start researching George and Experience!  Please email me: happygenealogydancingATgmailDOTcom, or leave a comment!

Here's Jason's line of descent:

Jason Wheeler-Patience
Lucinda Wheeler-John Simpson Aldridge Jr.
Darlington Aldridge-Leah Folsom
Harvey Aldridge-Margaret Catherine Dunham
Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendants