Friday, February 28, 2014

Allen line: Who was Michael Dunn?

Michael Dunn is very much a brick wall ancestor. I don't know when he was born, when he died, who his wife was, who his parents were, or when he or they or their ancestors came to America.  At this point, all I know about him is from a short biography of his grandson, George Washington Dunn, which states that his father, Lemuel Dunn, was the son of Michael Dunn, a native of Virginia but of Irish parentage, and a noble defender in the War of Independence.  That's it.  That's all I know for sure, and of course the biographies that were published in the late 1800s are known to not be 100% accurate, so this may not be 100% accurate, either. 

However, working on what little "information" I think I have, I've found two Michael Dunns in Virginia during the time period I'm researching (roughly 1775 to 1800).  One is a Michael Dunn who married Elizabeth Cheney in Maryland and went to Wythe County.  He may be the Michael Dunn who was in the militia in Montgomery County, Va, but the other facts don't fit, because the Dunn family was in Maryland for many years prior to the Revolution.  I haven't completely ruled him out, but he's not my top candidate at the moment.

I've found another Michael Dunn to consider. The earliest I can place him so far is in Henry County, Va, in a 1782 tax list.  That means he would have been born by 1764, at least, and he could well have been born quite a few years earlier.  There is also a Michael Dunn who was taxed in Botetourt County in 1984, which is a couple of counties away, or maybe just over a mountain ridge.  Patrick Dunn and William Dunn are also in Botetourt County at the same time. Patrick and William are noted as being in military districts, but Michael is not. Perhaps he was too old by this time to be eligible for military service, although there are other reasons he could have been excused also. 

The only other reference to a Michael Dunn that I've found was in a list of soldiers killed at the 1791 battle known as "St Clair's Defeat". A James Dunn was also killed that horrible day.  I don't think this would be our Michael Dunn, or surely it would have been mentioned in George Washington Dunn's biography, but there is always an outside possibility so I can't discount it entirely.  The fact that I haven't found a Botetourt-Henry County Michael Dunn after that time period is a little unsettling. 

I need to do some research on William Dunn and Patrick Dunn, to see if more information is available about them, and also search more in Kentucky for Michael Dunn.  Lemuel Dunn was married there in 1809, so it's possible that Michael had gone to Kentucky after he disappeared from Virginia. 

Here's the line of descent: 

Michael Dunn and unknown
Lemuel Dunn and Sarah Reid Campbell
Margaret Dunn and Archibald Allen
George Allen and Nancy McCoy
Edward Allen and Edith Knott
children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren

If you know, or think you know, anything about Michael Dunn, I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Holbrook line: John Adam Brown, Jr.

Earlier I wrote about Adam's father, John Adam Brown who married Catherine Clapp in North Carolina and moved from there to Preble County, Ohio, where they both died.  Today is the day to write about his son, John Adam Brown, known as Adam, who was also a pioneer.  

Adam was born March 18, 1804 (probably a few days earlier, as this is his date of christening) in Guilford County, N.C.  When he was a toddler or very young boy, his parents moved to Preble County, Ohio, where they were very early settlers, and where they lived out their days on a farm. 

Adam married Phoebe Myers, daughter of Christopher Myers and Elizabeth Nation, on March 11, 1830 in Preble County.  The Myers family were also early settlers in the area, and Christopher was born in North Carolina also. It is unknown whether the two families knew each other from "way back", or whether it was coincidence that they arrived at the same place from the same general area of North Carolina.  At any rate, the two married. 

Shortly before the death of Adam Sr, Adam and Phoebe and son Christopher set off on their own.  They apparently traveled by themselves to the southern edge of what became Bloom Township, Cook County, Illinois.  They may have traveled to Elkhart County, Indiana, first, with Christopher and Phoebe Myers, and stayed there long enough to help them build their cabin and get some land cleared. Christopher and Phoebe stayed in Elkhart County, but Adam and Phoebe, along with son Christopher, moved on. 

When they came to Illinois in about 1833, the family settled on land at the intersection of the Vincennes Road and Sauk Road.  The Vincennes road was used by traders, merchants, and others traveling from the Vincennes area to the north, and the Sauk Road was primarily an Indian trail until others moving west started using it.  There surely must have been some interesting characters traveling on these roads! 

Adam went to work clearing land and building his home.  He first built a log cabin, but by 1838, when he purchased the land, he had built a "house" and planted an orchard.  He purchased land on all four corners of the intersection, which turned out to be the perfect place for an inn, which was apparently his next enterprise.  He evidently did rather well financially.  The 1850 census gives the value of his land as $4,800.  The state census in 1865 shows that he had livestock, grains, other products, and wool.  Possibly some of the other products included fruit from the orchard he had planted.  By 1870, he had real estate holdings worth $20,800 and his personal property was valued at $27,000.  It looks like this man was a hard worker, and his wife would have worked equally hard.

Adam is noted in the Cook County, Illinois History as having been a "Universalist" in religion, which was very different from the Lutheran upbringing of his childhood.  Universalists of the time generally believed that all would be eventually reconciled to God, thereby not acknowledging the Biblical doctrine of eternal damnation.  We don't know whether Phoebe shared these views, but since Fremont and Phoebe Holbrook were staunch Methodists, as were Phoebe Brown's parents, the Myers, it seems likely that Phoebe Brown may have gently led the children in another direction. 

Adam Brown died on March 3, 1893, in Will County, Illinois, where he had gone to live with family following the death of Phoebe on February 27, 1892. They are both buried in Crete Cemetery, Will County, very close to the lands they lived on for about 60 years.  The inn was carried on by family members until about 1906, and the intersection was known as Brown's Corners.

Their known children were Christopher, Lovina (first white child born in the township), Elizabeth, George, William, Sarah, Mary J, Phoebe, and Adam. 

The line of descent is:

Adam Brown-Phoebe Myers
Phoebe Myers-Fremont Holbrook
Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard
Lois/Gladys/Ray/Howard Holbrook
children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren

Friday, February 21, 2014

Beeks Line: Samuel Goodnight

This is another case of too many questions, and not enough answers.  Samuel Goodnight's claim to fame today is that he was the father of Catherine Goodnight, who was married to Jacob Dunham. Catherine and Jacob, of course, are ancestors of President Barack Obama.  I wonder what Samuel would have said to us in his last days, looking back on his life?  What would he have said were the most important accomplishments in his life?

He was born in Germantown, Pa in 1761, the son of Christian Gutknecht (Americanized to Goodnight when the parents arrived in Philadelphia in 1752) and Mary Magdalena Grunholtz. The Gutknechts were from the Alsace region of France or Germany, depending on the time period, and can be traced back to the village of Ried bel Kerzers, near Bern, Switzerland. It's a German speaking village to this day.  Germantown was largely a service oriented area which became swallowed up by Philadelphia, and Christian became a "tobacco preparer" there.  Samuel was one of 7 children.  We don't know how he got to Montgomery County but one possibility was that he was set up in an apprenticeship there. This was common among families with many children, especially if they didn't own enough farmland to support adult children. 

Samuel worked, then, at some sort of trade or business, but we don't know what it was. He married Magdalena Berkheimer about 1785 in Montgomery County.  He is found in tax lists for Worcester Township, Montgomery County in 1786 and 1788, and is on the Septennial census there in 1793. 

He is noted as having had military service in the Montgomery County Militia from 1785-1786, in the 7th Co of the 6th Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Robert Curry, but perhaps this is incorrect. According to what I've been able to learn, the 6th Battalion disbanded at the end of the Revolutionary War. Lt. Col. Robert Curry was in command from 1775 to at least 1777.  So either Samuel served in the Revolutionary War at a very early age, or the facts are wrong concerning his dates of service. DAR says anyone trying to prove this ancestor must prove his service. I didn't find him on the Pa Digital Archives listings, nor did I find him on Fold 3. 

By 1810, he and his family had moved to Berkeley, Va. Samuel and Magdalena were each over 45 years of age, but by now they had a full house.  There were two males aged 10-15, 2 males 16-25, one female aged 10-15, and one 16-25.  The names of five of their children are known: Martha, Samuel, Christopher, Catherine, and Leonard. We may be missing the name of one son, or perhaps there was a boarder in the household.  Another problem I have is that I have the birthdate for Samuel Jr. as being 1819.  This would be much too late for him to be a child of this couple, although he could be a grandson, perhaps. 

The 1820 census shows them in Bath Township, Morgan County, WV but it is unlikely that they moved. Morgan County was formed in 1820 from part of Berkeley County.  Of course, this was actually Virginia and not West Virginia during this time period.  The 1820 shows one male under the age of 10, one male between the age of 26 and 44, one female between the ages of 26 and 45, and then Samuel and Magdalena, each over the age of 45.  This looks like it could be one of their children, plus a spouse and grandson, who are living with them, but that is just a guess.  In 1830, the family is still in Morgan, Virginia.  It is now composed of Samuel, a free white female 50-59, and a male aged 10-14.  The female aged 50-59 may not be Magdalena, or she may simply not have "aged" as much as Samuel did during the 10 years between the censuses. 

One other possibility is that I saw one record, undocumented, that said Samuel and Magdalene weren't married until 1819, in Berkley County, Va. I have not seen a source for that. However, because Leonard Berkheimer, Magdalena's father, is found in Worchester Township, Montgomery County at the same time as Samuel, I think the likelihood is that the Montgomery County location and date of 1785 are likely correct. We need to keep looking for those records.

It is believed that Magdalena died about 1830.  Samuel then went on, probably with family, to Fayette County, Ohio, where he died about 1833. 

I'll keep looking for answers about this couple. I don't know their religion, or his occupation, and I may be missing the name of one child. When was Samuel Jr really born?  Was our Samuel in the Revolutionary War?  And what would Samuel have thought that his greatest accomplishment was? 

The line of descent is:

Samuel Goodnight-Magdalene Berkheimer
Catherine Goodnight-Jacob Dunham
Samuel Goodnight Dunham-Eliza Matilda Reese
Margaret Catherine Dunham-Harvey Homer Aldridge
Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Beeks children, grand children, etc. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Allen line: Finishing Thomas Knott's letter

We're finishing up the letter that Thomas J Knott wrote to the Sacramento Daily Union following the murder of his son and the prompt acquittal of the gunman.  Elzy Knott was murdered on March 8, 1859, and by March 24, 1859 the trial was held with the verdict given, Thomas Knott had collected himself enough to write this letter, it had made its way over the mountains to Sacramento, and it was published.  The letter is viewable in its entirety thanks to the California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside, Ca.  The URL is  Knott is continuing his list of reasons why the trial was not a fair one, and then ends his letter with a plea:

"4th. Again, one juror signified to some persons that he firmly believed my evidence to be true, and contrary to his belief, declared the murderer innocent.

5th. I had just reason to believe that the Vigilance party had exercised their influence in this case; because my son, Elzy, was strongly opposed to them, because some of their most influential men had expressed themselves in strong terms against him; because the criminal had asked to be tried by the Vigilance Committee, and the Court was composed principally of them; lastly, because, before the reading of the verdict in Court, some of the officers informed Hern's family that they would escort the boy to Eagle's Valley for his safety.

6th. When the people were called to vote on the motion of a new trial, the jurors were against all right permitted to vote, and even so, the votes in favor were 16, and those against, 17.

My petition, however, of a new trail was objected to on the ground that my reasons were not previously proposed, and the right tribunal not chosen at first. If the objection was good, a man should relinquish the pursuit of his rights every time that he does not take the right course at the first start.  If is thus that I, an aged father, and a poor desolate wife, are left to mourn the loss of one of our dearest inmates, without any alleviation of grief from human justice.  There is no doubt but that the rights of justice and humanity have ben this time sacrificed to the malignant spit of party.  As long as this small community is distracted by internal divisions, it is impossible to expect an impartial decision in any case whatsoever.  The Vigilance Committee was here organized for the purpose of protecting life and property, and now it proves itself detrimental to both. Two murders have already been committed in cool blood, and both criminals have escaped with impunity.  We hope that our Governor will soon put an end to our evils, by establishing law with energy and force.  When that will be accomplished, these beautiful valleys will become the favorite resort of our Californian neighbors. But for the present, I fervently request our California brethren not to assist in any way the murderer who may seek refuge in that illustrious State.  I have caused already to be printed, a notice of a reward of $500, which I will pay to any one who shall apprehend the murderer of my son, and keep him in custody until I obtain an order of trial from the Governor of this Territory. 

John Hern is about eighteen years of age, about five feet five inches high, spare built, very large and prominent eyes, brown hair and dark complexion. 

My obj(e)ct in all this is to prevent crime, to redress wrongs, and to exalt justice. 

Respectfully yours,
T. Knott"

One would have to learn a lot about Nevada history to understand the background of this story. At the time of this letter, Nevada was a part of the Utah territory, and was therefore governed, to the extent it was governed, by Mormons.  Thomas Knott was not a Mormon, but had gone to Nevada on several occasions to set up mills (a saw mill and a grist mill, at least). In the early 1850s, he had reported to Brigham Young as a sort of Indian scout, reporting that the Indians were peaceful and could be kept that way.  It sounds from this letter as though Thomas at this point had little interest in becoming an independent state, or in being governed by California, although there were proponents of both views in Nevada. 

I looked up the definition of "inmate", because I didn't understand it in the context of this letter.  When Thomas referred to Elzy as "one of our dearest inmates", he was apparently using it in the archaic definition of "occupants of a house".  Elzy was certainly not in a prison or poor house.  Also, the $500 reward was not insignificant. In today's dollars, that would have been about $13,900.

Thomas refused to have Elzy buried in the Mormon cemetery, but he was instead buried on his own land.  (I'm not clear as to whether this was Thomas's land, or Elzy's, but the two were neighbors so it makes little difference as far as locating the grave.  Elzy's grave is noted on Find-a-Grave.)

It was a sad story to read, but it brought home to me that some of those old TV westerns we watched as kids (or at least, our fathers, husbands, etc. did) were not so far from the truth of what actually happened.  It was truly a wild, wild West, made up of good people caught in desperate situations, some of their own making. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Allen line: Letter from Thomas Knott, continued

We're continuing the letter that Thomas Knott wrote to the Sacramento Daily Union, printed on March 24, 1859.  He is a grieving father, commenting on the murder of his son and the "trial" that followed shortly after.  Elzy Knott was killed on March 8, so or this letter to be published on March 24, the wheels of justice would have been moving at pretty much warp speed.  Remember, this was the old, old West, in Carson Valley, Nevada.  (Thanks to the California Digital Newspaper Collection , Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside, California, for making this available.)

"This is the true narrative of this melancholy event, which myself and another eye witness have deposed to upon oath, and which other witnesses have, in its various parts, confirmed.  From the simple intelligence of the particulars of this fact, two conclusions can be easily drawn: first, that the murdered man had no design of offering violence or aggression to any one of Hern's family, for he did not even draw out his pistol when his imminent danger of life seemed to require it; the second conclusion is, that the murderer perpetrated the dead with full malice, premeditation, and without a just cause-since Elzy said in the house that he would not have a fuss but simply recover his bridle-and in the meantime the boy was ready to shoot him.  If Elzy went into Hern's house in spite of Mrs. Hern's remonstrances, as she deposed in Court, he followed, in so doing, a custom which, as it was attested in Court by Mr. Gaige, seems to exist here, namely: that when an individual is robbed of his property-there being no law, no authority here to which to apply for it's recovery, he goes to recover it himself wherever he can find it.  So have acted in more than one case, various persons, even some of those who are interested in this case, who, in default of payment by a person went to hi house, broke the lock, forced their entrance, and took away a box of tools, which they afterwards sold for their own indemnity.  In conclusion, the facts narrated clearly prove malice, premeditation and want of a just cause on the part of the murderer.  The verdict, then, of acquittal was entirely contrary to justice and humanity.  The jury, have partially rejected my evidence because it was in conflict with Mrs. Hern's evidence,; but yet, my evidence was invincibly corroborated by three other witnesses, one of whom was along with me when the murder was committed, and the other two was me come to the front door immediately after they heard the report of the gun.  Mrs. Hern's evidence, on the contrary, was confirmed by her own little children alone, and in some points only, for in some others their evidence was incoherent.  But admitting that the two opposite evidences had equal force, their was no reason for receiving one and rejecting the other.  The falsehood of one of them should have been clearly and unquestionably established.  But this was not done, and only a decision hurried in favor of innocence, so I had a right to ask for another trial.  But these were not the only motives for this demand.  I had, moreover, the following reasons:
   1st. The Court was not a legal one, but merely a people's convention; therefore it could not pass a definitive sentence without appeal in a case of such supreme entity as that in which the life and death of a criminal is concerned.
   2d. A great disparity in the ability of the lawyers employed was plainly visible. The counsel for the defendant being well experienced in his profession, and the lawyers for the prosecution having never pleaded a case of the kind before.
   3d. Some one of the jurors had not kept the secret of the verdict, for before it was read in Court, Hern's family were apprised of it, and from them it was made known to some persons in town."

Stay tuned for the conclusion of the letter.  If you are interested reading more about Nevada history, which puts this trial into some kind of context, there is a lengthy article from the Nevada Observer of  April 16, 2006.  Google "Early Governments in Nevada" or "Trial of John Hern Nevada history" and you should easily find it.  Nevada was not yet a state, but was part of Utah's territory. The article explains quite a bit about the politics of the time, and my conclusion is that there was more going on than "just" the trial of a murderer.  Our family was caught in the middle of a difficult situation.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Allen line: Thomas Knott's letter regarding the death of his son Elzy Knott

[We have received from the father of young Elzy Knott, who was recently shot by a young man named John Hern, at Carson Valley, the following letter. Under ordinary circumstances we should have suppressed a portion of the account; but from deference to a father's feelings, we publish it agreeably to his request, although the prominent facts have already been referred to by us.-EDS. UNION.]

The Shooting of Knott

Genoa, Carson Valley, ,March 17, 1859

MESSRS. EDITORS: I beg leave to insert in the columns of your valuable paper an exact narrative of a murder trial, and acquittal of the criminal, which occurred in this town in the latter end of the preceding week. Although the unhappy victim of the murderous deed was a dear son of mine, who has left behind a disconsolate wife to mourn his loss, and although my hear is torn with the extreme pangs of sorrow, yet I must confess that these feelings do not overrule my reason nor inspire me with the contemptible desire of revenge; but I write this purely with a wish that truth may not be disfigured with the here prevalent spirit of an intense party, and that people who are remote from us may impartially judge whether our Court here (not a legal one) has rightly acquitted the criminal from all offense.

The testimony I bear to the following statements is based upon my own personal knowledge and observation, before, at the time, and after the murder was committed.  My testimony was corroborated in Court by the testimony of another eye-witness.  It was partially confirmed by other witnesses, and it was pledged by the sanctity of an oath. 

On the 8th inst., Elzy Knott was maliciously, with premeditation, and without a just case, murdered by John Hern, with a double barreled gun loaded with buckshot.  The precedents of this fatal occurrence were as follows:  John Hern had lost fifteen dollars in gambling with Elzy Knott.  In compensation of his debt, he offered to Elzy a bridle, not worth fifteen dollars, but which Elzy accepted.  Peter Hern (John's stepfather), who was in California at the time his boy gave away the bridle, having returned, reclaimed the bridle from Elzy, on the ground that it was not John's but his.  "If the bridle is yours," said Elzy, "you may have it; but if John's, I will have it again."  Subsequently to this, one evening, John Hern took the same bridle to a place called the Old Station, where some importers of goods actually reside, and left it there for a gambling prize, with the assent of his stepfather, who told him that, if he could get twelve dollars for the bridle, he might let the boys gamble for it.  The same evening, Elzy Knott went to the Station, and was invited to play for a bridle.  Elzy wanted to see it, and after examining it, asked who brought it there?  "John Hern," was the reply.  "Did John say that it was his bridle?" asked Elzy, again.  "Yes," was the answer.  "If the bridle is John's," said Elzy, "I will take it; I won it once."  Upon this, a man of the Station remonstrated with Knott, and requested him to wait until John Hern came.  Elzy returned, later in the evening, to the Station, when John was there, and in his presence took away the bridle with him.  The boy then went home, apprised his father of what had happened, and both went to the Station.  The father made no remonstrance, but the boy, according to some evidence in Court, said that the bridle would cost very dear to Elzy; and, according to some other witness, that he would take it back, were it to cost Elay's life.  So the matter remained until the fatal morning of the 8th inst, when a little boy, by the name of Oliver Yansey, mounted one of Elzy's horses, in order to drive his cows. The headstall of the bridle on the horse was that taken from Hern, and the reins had ever belonged to Elzy.  According to the little boy's testimony in Court, John Hern stopped him, whilst riding on horseback, by threatening to shoot him if he did not stop; then took both headstall and reins, tied a piece of hair rope to the horse, and left the boy with a declaration that if he or Elzy went back for the bridle he would blow out their brains; the little boy brought the horse home and acquainted Elzy with the fact; Elzy started immediately for Hern's house, which is situated but a short distance from his; Elzy's wife requested Thomas Yansey (Oliver's father) to go and see to the matter, then I started too; we arrived at the house before the gun was fired-Yansey being a little ahead of me; on entering the house we saw the reins detached from the bridle and laid on the floor near the front door: we saw Elzy standing in front of the middle partition door, with his left hand on his hip and the right hand somewhat lower down; I had heard him say before going to that house that he would whip Hern's family or have the bridle, and on entering the house before I arrived Yansey heard him say that he would have no fuss, but only recover his bridle.  We saw Mrs. Hern standing in the front room behind Elzy, at the left corner of the room; we saw in the same room her youngest son; lastly, we saw John Hern standing a little behind the middle partition door, opposite to the front door, with a gun in his hands aiming at Elzy so long that I almost thought he would not shoot.  Whilst the boy pointed the gun at Elzy, he (Elzy) did not draw out the pistol which he usually carried with him, and which was afterwards found on his belt behind, nor had he any weapon of defense in his hands, but remained in the aforesaid position till he fell.  I cried out to the boy not to shoot, and just then he fired.  I was then within three feet of my son and assisted him in his fall.  At that moment I was almost frantic with grief, and ran to the door to see if Elzy's wife was coming.  (It was then that Messrs. Norris and Kinsey, as they deposed in Court, saw me coming out from the front door of the house almost instantly after the report of the gun was heard.)  I then went back to see if my son was dead; then went out again to see Mrs. Knott; returned to the house, seized the gun dropped by the murderer, ready to pursue and shoot him; but in the gun there was a load and no cap.  The murderer, however, was followed by other men, one of whom shot at him with a pistol twice and he then surrendered himself."

This is only about one third of the letter, which I will continue in future blogs.  I'm doing this so that our family will understand a little about the life and times of our ancestor, Thomas Jefferson Knott,  My intention is not to bring up any old wounds or differences of opinion with the other people mentioned in this letter, but simply to show what our ancestor thought, and incidentally, how well he expressed himself.  One could wish he had used a few more paragraphs, and shorter sentences, but he was obviously a man with some education. 

This letter is made available by the California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside, Ca.  The website is:  The letter was published in the Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 17, number 2493 on March 24, 1859, under the heading "Letter from Carson Valley."

Our line is as follows:
Thomas Jefferson Knott-Hannah Bell
John Wilson Knott-Harriet Starr
Edith Clarissa Knott-Edward Franklin Allen
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook

Friday, February 7, 2014

Harshbarger line: John Harter and family, one more time

When in doubt, go to the primary sources...

I had a grand time doing just that on Tuesday.  As I wrote about the Harter line, I questioned my original data and had "decided" that John's parents were George and Elizabeth, not John and Mary.  However, I had only census data and on line information to go on.  Tuesday I drove to Columbia City to see what I could find. 

I started at the health department, and indeed they had the abstract from the death certificate for John Harter.  His parents are given as George Harter and Elizabeth Geiger.  John died on August 24, 1902 of heart disease and was buried at Eel River Cemetery.  This is our guy!

Next I went to the file management section, in the basement, and looked at an administration packet for George Harter, who died in 1854.  Imagine!  I was touching papers that were almost 160 years old!  I got copies of the estate sale (Elizabeth bought some things, as did John, and other family members, although I haven't fully analyzed it yet) and of the final settlement of the estate.  No will was found.

Finally, I went to the recorder's office, and looked at the deed where George and Elizabeth sold land to John in 1851, shortly before his marriage.  I also accidentally found a deed dated November 1, 1851, where George and Elizabeth sold land to the trustees of the United Brethren in Christ church (actually, they donated it, because the price was $1), and George Harter was a trustee.  Anthony Geiger was also a trustee, but I haven't figured out yet whether this was Elizabeth's father, or her brother.  So we now know their religion, at least in Indiana. 

Finally, I went to the Peabody library and found this obituary for John, dated August 27, 1902, from the Columbia City Post:

"Death of Another Pioneer

John Harter, one of the oldest settlers of Smith township, died Sunday evening after a long spell of sickness. His wife preceeded him to the eternal world several years, and from the time of her death, he made his home with the different grown children that survive their parents.  Mr. Harter had by industry and hard work accumulated much of this world's goods, and by his honest dealings had made a host of friends.  He was a staunch church member, and a strong believer in democracy.

The deceased was in his seventy-second year, having spent the most of his life in this county.  The funeral occurred Tuesday forenoon at the Eel River church, and the remains were laid to rest in the church cemetery."

There are few specific facts in the obituary, but it does give us a sense of the character of the man and the way he lived his life. 

I'm glad I found all this information, and you can bet I'll be going back to the Recorder's office.  I have a lot of people in the Harshbarger line who may or may not have owned land, and I want to trace them, $1 at a time. (Copies are $1 a page, and I didn't take nearly enough money with me on this trip. I know better now.)

Also I can now continue working on the Harter, Geiger, Miller, Kitterman, Kirk, and other lines as I have time. All those names, and more, are on the on-line trees, so this will really be fun! Happy dance again!

The line of descent is:
George Harter and Elizabeth Geiger
John Harter and Mary Bennett
Clara (Clarissa?) Harter and Emanuel Harshbarger
Grover Harshbarger and Goldie Withers
Cleveland Harshbarger and Mary Margaret Beeks

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Holbrook line: Levi Rockwood 1751-1806

I'm choosing to write about a man who must have been of average size, weight, intelligence, occupation, religion, education, and whatever else would have been significant because I can find very little about him. 

I know Levi was born December 10, 1751 in Bellingham, Suffolk County (then, now Norfolk), Massachusetts to Joseph Rockwood and Alice Thomson or Thompson.  Both of those lines are well documented and go back to very early Massachusetts days.  He was apparently the oldest of 8 children.  His siblings were Deborah, John, Alice, Joseph, Melatiah, Cephas, Daniel, and possibly another sibling unnamed.  Cephas died at sea in 1786,

We know that his wife was Deborah Lazell, daughter of Isaac Lazell and Deborah Marsh, who moved from Hingham to Bellingham.  The Rockwoods were also from Bellingham. 

Levi and Deborah also had several children: Rachel, Susanna, Hannah, Joseph, Levi, Nathan, Martin, and Reuben.  Levi was only 55 when he died, and his wife died about 9 months later. They are buried in Center Cemetery, in Bellingham. Levi apparently didn't leave a will, because there is only an administration on file for him, case #15947. I haven't seen a copy of it. 

Levi the son of Levi apparently married Tryphena Holbrook, the daughter of Amariah Holbrook and my brick wall Molly Wright.  If I have this figured correctly, they were first cousins. 

The apparent absence of records about Levi is somewhat surprising, since Bellingham was not a large town and is relatively well documented.  He is not found on Fold 3, or in the Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors volume, or on the DAR website, so apparently he did not participate in the Revolutionary War, although he was of the right age to do so.  Was he physically handicapped in some way, or was he a Loyalist at heart, or did he even care about the world beyond his village?  The militia of Bellingham was off like a shot toward Concord and Lexington in April of 1775, but his name is not included there. 

I also am not able to locate his name, so far, in a volume that would tell us what religion he practiced, or didn't practice.  Because of the family names found in the Baptist Church records, it is tempting to think he was a Baptist. Yet, I haven't found his name there, nor have I found it in the Congregationalist records.  Perhaps I haven't looked at the right documents yet.

I don't even know what the man did for a living.  Was he a farmer, or a merchant, or engaged in a trade or manufacture of some sort?  I don't know, and I wish I did.

Levi is an example of the anonymous man, I guess.  He lived, married, had children, and died, and there is nothing remarkable about him.  Yet, he was my ancestor, and he was one of those who helped build America, in one way or another.  I respect him and I'd love to find out more about him. 

Our line of descent is:
Levi Rockwood-Deborah Lazell
Susanna Rockwood-Nahum Holbrook
Joseph Holbrook-Mary Elizabeth Whittemore
Fremont Holbrook-Phoebe Brown
Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard
Lois Holbrook/Gladys Holbrook
their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc

Update, February 17, 2014:  Levi Rockwood did serve in the Revolutionary War.  According to Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War: 

Rockwood, Levi, Bellingham: Private, Capt Jesse Holbrook's co of militia, which marched on the alarm of April 19, 1775; service 11 days; also, corporal, Capt. Sabin Mann's Co, Col Wheelock's Regt, marched April 22, 1777, discharged May 10, 1777; service, 20 days; company marched to Rhode Island; also, Capt. Amos Ellis's co; 4th Suffolk Co Regt commanded by Maj. Seth Bullard; entered service July27, 1780; discharged August 7, 1780; service 14 days, including travel (2 days) home; company marched to Tiverton R.I. on the alarm of July 27, 1780.

I don't know why I didn't find him the first two times I looked at the Massachusetts Soldiers volumes, but I'm glad I made another search.  It's fun to have Revolutionary War veterans in our family!