Friday, May 29, 2015

Allen line: Moses Wheeler 1598-1698, Immigrant

It's a joy to write these blog posts.  I never write one entirely out of what I think I know when I sit down to write a post.  A little digging turns up more information, or draws into question what I think I know, and always leaves me with more questions.  Sometimes, I am so fortunate as to find one or more stories that tell me a little bit about the person.  These anecdotes can't be proven, but I love them because even if not strictly true, they do give us insights into the character of the man or woman.  Such is the case with Moses Wheeler.

Moses Wheeler is believed to have been born in Kent, England in 1598, the son of Dominick and Mercy Jelly Wheeler.  As far as I know, the documentation for this has not been found, just as the documentation for his journey to America and his marriage has not been found.  His early life is a mystery.  It is believed that he came to America in 1638 and soon was in New Haven, Connecticut, but records of his immigration are missing.  It is also believed that he married Miriam Hawley, sister of Joseph Hawley, but when or where are still questions.  If, as many trees state, he married her in Connecticut than it may well be that he had earlier been married.  Moses and Miriam's first child was born August 1, 1642, when Moses would have been 46 years old.  This leaves plenty of time for him to have had a family in England, be widowed and come to America to start a new life.  He must also have had strong religious convictions, because New Haven was one of the strictest Puritan settlements in New England.  He may have come to New Haven so that he could follow his trade, which was a shipwright.   He was on the Planters list in 1641, receiving 12 1/2 acres in the first division and 14 acres in the second division of land.  At the time of the first division, there were just two people in the family, so the family had not yet been started.

I love the story that in New Haven, Moses returned from a trip on Sunday.  In his joy at seeing his family again, he kissed his wife and children, in public, on the Sabbath.  New Haven had strict "blue laws" and he was expelled from the colony for this offense.  That's the story.  I question whether it happened exactly that way, and whether this was a first offense.  Generally a person who ran up against the blue law was given a chance to confess and repent, and be punished by time in the stocks or/and a public whipping.  Perhaps Moses didn't confess and repent, or perhaps he had other minor marks on his record, thus incurring the harsh punishment of being expelled.  From this story, I take the germ of truth that he must have loved his family, and that perhaps he was a bit of a rebel.

Another story about Moses is that one day when Moses was in the cellar, three Indians with hatchets "appeared in the doorway.  Moses said something to the effect of "let's have a drink" and picked up a barrel (empty, or nearly so) of cider and drank directly from the bunghole.  The visitors apparently thought it was full, and decided that Moses was too strong for the three of them.  I'm not sure what to make of this story, since giving spirits to the Indians was forbidden.  Perhaps cider, no matter how "hard" it was, was permissible.  My takeaway from this story is that Moses was a strong man and muscular, in order to lift even an empty barrel to his shoulder, and that he may have been known to his visitors.

When the family was expelled, they moved southwest on the coast to Stratford, which was founded in 1639, again by Puritans, and purchased land from the Indians.  It is not known when the Wheelers arrived but in 1648 he was granted rights to be the ferryman on the Stratford river.  This was a hard job, physically, but when he had no passengers to ferry he could farm and he could continue building ships, so there was an opportunity to "get ahead" financially.  Ferrying probably meant rowing passengers across the river, which could be quite a challenge, with floods and ice and tidal currents to make the job more difficult.  He was the ferryman from 1648 to 1690, and when he "retired" at the age of 92, he passed his duties on to his son Samuel. 

Moses and Miriam had 7 known children, although some lists include fewer.  Elizabeth was the first born, in 1642, and then they had Miriam, Samuel, Moses, Mary, Joanna and Susanna, in 1659.  Apparently he returned to England in 1665 for just a short time.  Was this business, or was he called home to settle an estate, or was there another reason for the trip?  It would be fascinating to know more about this trip. 

Moses is stated to have been an extensive land holder and one of the leading influential men of Stratford Township.  This means he must have stayed out of trouble with the church authorities.  His sister, Jane, had married Rev. Adam Blakeman who was one of the founders of Stratford and its minister for many years, so if Moses did have any more improprieties such as the kissing episode, he may have had a religious counselor to help him conform. 

Moses Wheeler's headstone in the Old Congregational Burying Ground at Stratford is partially buried, but still clearly legible is "Moses Wheler  Aged 100 Dyed Jan 15,1698"  What a life he had, long and loving and virtuous, hardworking and strong.  I'm so glad I got to know him a little bit by writing this post!

The line of descent is:

Moses Wheeler-Miriam Hawley
Elizabeth Wheeler-Jacob Walker
Elizabeth Walker-Luke Hitchcock
Ruth Hitchcock-Jonathan Church
Ruth Church-Stephen Noble
Ruth Noble-Martin Root
Ruth Root-Samuel Falley
Clarissa Falley-John Havens Starr
Harriet Starr-John Wilson Knott
Edith Knott-Edward Allen
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendents

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Update on Molly Wright research Did NEHGS find her parents?

I was just advised that the research I asked the NEHGS genealogists to do to try to find Molly Wright's parents has been completed.  I'm being charged $16.90 for copies and postage, so I'm hoping that means they've found something.  I'm so excited, and so eager to get this material.  Hopefully it will arrive by the end of the week or early next week.  I don't think I can wait much longer! 

Stay tuned for further developments

Holbrook line: Esther Stanard Dring 1865-

Family historians and genealogists and bloggers, be warned.  I'd love for you to read this, but I'm not writing it for you.  I'm writing this post based on just two or three hours of searching the web, to answer a family mystery.  Also, I'm stepping out of my self imposed boundary here and writing about someone other than a direct ancestor.  This is a collateral family member, the sister of my great grandfather, and I'm very excited to be able to write a little bit about her story, even though there is still much I don't know.

I had heard my mother refer to "Aunt Esther" and "Cousin Flora" in my early years, but I had no concept of time with them, and didn't realize who these people were, or why they were important to us.  I had seen pictures of them taken roughly in the years 1900-1910 but that's all I knew.  As part of a major reorganization project, I found those pictures again last week and in my spare time, which hasn't been much, I've been trying to piece together their story.

Fortunately, one of the pictures had "Esther Stanard Dring" written on it and that was my clue.  I searched the undeveloped family tree and located Esther Stanard, and I started putting two and two together.  Esther was the sister of my great grandfather, Rev. Louis E. Stanard, and they were children of Hiram Stanard and Susan Eddy.  There were two other children in the family, Susan and Seba.  The children were all born in Illinois, probably Lee County (I told you I didn't have all the information yet, but this is too good to wait).  At some point, the family moved to Harvey County, Kansas.  Much of the family was there in 1880 and Hiram was there by 1885.

To tell this story, we also need to also go to Parsons Drove, Cambridge, England, where William Dring was born January 31, 1864 to Johnson and Alice Thoday Dring.  This family emigrated to the United States in 1872 (steerage, on the ship "Adriatic") and they were in Union Township, Clay County, Kansas in the 1875 state census.  In 1880 he was possibly listed twice in the census, once as 17 year old "William Driny" living with his mother and step father (don't know what happened to Johnson yet), John and Alice Chambers at home, and once as 19 year old William Dring, living in the household of William and Ella Allaway.  The Allaways were all except the youngest born in England, so it's possible these were relatives.  If this is our William Dring, he is listed as being apprenticed to a carpenter.  So whether he was a 17 year old "at home" or a 19 year old carpenter's apprentice, he was in Clay County, Kansas.  In 1885, "Willie" Dring is listed still with his mother and family, as a single man of 22, and he's a carpenter. 

I don't know how he met Esther Stanard, or when or where they were married.  (Kansas has very strict laws relating to vital records so there is very little on line.  FamilySearch records are not indexed and I haven't had time to go through them yet.) I also don't know William's religious history.  We know that Esther was likely Baptist because that's what her family was.  So far, this story sounds pretty much like many stories in our family, except that William was an immigrant, and may have spoken with a British accent on the plains of Kansas.

The story is just starting.  The next thing we hear of Esther is an article from the Newton (Kansas) Daily Republican on September 22, 1891. "Thinking that the friends of Mrs. Esther Dring, nee Miss Esther Stanard, now a missionary in India, will be glad to hear something concerning her, we give a few facts as learned from a letter received by her parents recently.  She and her husband are at present in Tura, Assam, and have charge of an industrial school numbering 110 pupils, 80 boys and thirty girls.  Mr. Dring is about to enter upon mission work in the Garo hills.  They like the work and are in the hope of accomplishing much good.  She wittily remarks that there are about as many flies there as in Mrs. Crater's house, which is known throughout the county to be such a pattern of neatness that no fly dares to enter the door."

So sometime between 1885 and 1891, William Dring, carpenter, became Rev. William Dring (at least I would think he was ordained before they went to India, haven't found records yet) and Esther became Mrs. William Dring. The 1900 census says they were married in 1887. Kansas in the 1880's was not yet a settled place, so why they felt called to go to India is another mystery.  Nevertheless, they went, and they stayed.  Tura, Assam, India is not in the main part of India.  It's in a little area of land north east of what we think of in India, just below the country of Bhutan and just above part of Bangladesh.  It is a good thing that they "liked the work" because they stayed from 1891 (not sure, it might have been earlier) to 1917, with only two furloughs in all that time.  They apparently were working with a low caste group of people known as the "Scheduled Tribes"  and even now the "Scheduled Tribes" have a strong Christian component, so they and others must have done "good work."

I found an article about the Great Assam Earthquake of 1897 online, and presumably Esther and Rev. William were there when it hit.  The intensity of this was 8.5-8.7, so it was huge.  Fortunately, we know that Tura wasn't hit terribly hard because another Baptist missionary in Tura wrote to Brother Duncan that the damages to the mission building were less severe because it was built of brick.

In 1900, Esther and a 10 year old daughter Flora were back in Kansas, in Ottawa, Franklin County, living with her brother Louis and his family.  This may have been her first trip back home so that the family could get to know Flora.  There may have been another reason for the visit, but this makes sense to me.  The next information I've found is that in 1906, William and Esther were in Australia for a family reunion with the Thoday's, part or most of Alice Thoday Dring Chamber's family.  If you Google "Images" and type in  Rev. William Dring, you should be able to pull up a picture of about 36 people.  William and Esther are the first two people in the back row.  At this point they were in their early 40's.  (I don't put pictures on this blog because of copyright considerations, but I sure love it when other people have put pictures out there!)

The next documentation I found was a U.S. Consular Registration Certificate for Rev. W. Dring filed on Jun 9, 1914.  I don't know why they registered at this time.  Perhaps the US government had asked that all Americans make themselves known (American?  Was William naturalized-need to check!), as this was about the time that World War I was just getting underway in Europe.  The Ottawa, Ks. Daily Republic reported on August 26, 1914, "From the Orient-Miss Etta Jo McCoy has received a letter from Mrs. Esther Dring, missionary for the Baptist denomination, at Tura, Assam.  Mrs. Dring writes that in parts of Assamand Bengal, there is dreadful famine, caused by a failure of the rice crop.  In her locality, happily rains were plentiful and the crop was normal.".

In 1917, William applied for an emergency passport.  Whether his was lost or expired or whatever the reason, we don't know but it's easy to tie it to the further events in World War I.  We know that he arrived in Honolulu Hawaii in 1917 on the ship Ecuador, and that Esther was with him but I haven't found Flora yet.  The Ottawa Herald reported on April 27, 1917 that "Mrs. F.H. Stannard today received a message that her sister, Mrs. William Dring and Rev. Dring had arrived at San Francisoc.  Mr. and Mrs. Dring who were missionaries at Assam left Hong Kong March 28, landing in San Francisco yesterday.  For the last twenty-seven years Rev. Dring has been a missionary in India and has had only two furloughs in that time.  During the last four years there he has been in ill health much of the time.  Though he is improved now he will not return to India.  After a visit in San Francisco Mr. and Mrs. Dring will go to Colville, Wash., to spend several weeks with a brother of Mrs. Dring, Mr. L. E. Stannard."

I haven't located them in the 1920 or 1930 census yet, but in 1940 they were in Denver, Colorado, owned their own home and had lived at the same address in 1935.  William is listed as having attended college for one year, and he was 77 years old, Esther was 74.  William died December 22, 1942 in Denver, Colorado according to a tree on Ancestry.  I haven't found a death date for Esther yet.  Flora, their daughter, married and had a family and died in 1970.

This is as much as I've found about Esther Stanard Dring but I would love to find more.  I didn't know we had a missionary in the family.  I put Aunt Esther high on the list of people I would love to sit down and talk with, to find out more about her life.  I'm sure she wrote lots of letters home but I have no idea what happened to them.

If someone reading this knows more, please contact me! The email is happygenealogydancingATgmailDOT com.  You know what to do with the AT and the DOT. 

Update:  I found a little more information.  Esther was born March 7, 1865 in Perkins Grove, Ill. and died August 30, 1950 in Concordia, Kansas.  My hunch is that she was living with or near her daughter Flora, but I haven't been able to confirm that yet.  It sure is strange to think that this lady with the wonderful story was living when I was just a baby.  How did I miss hearing about her, anyway?  

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Harshbarger line: Maria Magdalena Kunkle abt 1725-

This post is intended as a tribute to all our female immigrant ancestors.  It is much more difficult to trace them back.  They usually leave no trace of themselves, and once they are gone from this earth it is up to the family to keep them in their memory.  Once their memories are gone, they are gone. 

So this story will be incredibly brief.  Maria Magdalena Kunkle was born most likely in Germany, came to America, married Johannes or John Sensinger and then after he was killed by Indians, Johann Casper Schnerr.  She had at least four children with her first husband and four with her second husband.  Dates of the children are not clear so I am only giving her "credit" for children that were noted as born within 9 months of her first husband's death, or after the supposed marriage to her second husband.  It it possible that there were more children. 

We don't even know when she died, but it is thought she died prior to her husband, who died in 1790.  We know that the family were Lutheran, that they lived through exciting times in the New World, with both the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War during their lifetime, and we know that they were a good pioneer family.  We know they lived in what became Adams and York County, Pennsylvania. 

What we can't know or understand is the amount of hardships she, as all pioneer women, would have suffered.  She likely associated only with other German speaking women, and may not have associated with those of the Reform church, as opposed to the Lutheran church.  There are many stories of neighbors not speaking to each other for years because of their religious differences, but it must have been difficult to be so isolated.  As the children grew and gradually moved away, it must have been a sad time. 

I'd love to be able to talk to her, to hear her tell the story of her life.  Maybe I am reading too much into the little that is known, maybe she had entirely different emotions than I, 250 years later, think she would have had.  But most of all, I'd like to thank her, and all the other unknown women, for doing everything they did to raise their families and help their new country grow.  They are all awesome!

The line of descent is

Maria Magdalena Kunkle-Johann Casper Schnerr
Julia Margaret Schnerr-Simon Essig
George Essig-Catherine Shollenbarger
Susannah Essig-Daniel Kemery
Adam Kemery-Nancy Buchtel
Della Kemery-William H Withers
Goldie Withers-Grover Harshbarger
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Their descendents

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Beeks line: John Smith, 1614-1710 Immigrant.pastor and mill wright

Any family historian groans when his or her path leads to a John Smith.  We have several in our lines, but this John Smith is only moderately challenging.  By that, I mean we do know a few things about him, and they are only slightly confusing.  Naturally, there is much more we'd like to know. 

This particular John Smith was born in 1614 in Brinspitell,(Dorset or possibly Dorchester, England,) according to his own deposition in a court case.  His parents were Thomas and Joan Doan Smith, and it's not known whether he had siblings.

He appears to have come to Plymouth colony as early as 1630. which would have been at a young age indeed.  He may have been one of the first settlers of Barnstable, which was founded on Cape Cod in 1638, under the leadership of Thomas Hull.  We know he was made freeman there in 1640, indicating that he was of age, of good moral character, and owned property.  Rev. John Lathrop was pastor there in October of 1640, when John was admitted to the church.  A  few years later, on June 13, 1643, John Smith married Susanna Hinckley, sister of the future governor of Plymouth Colony, Thomas Hinckley.

In his manhood, we was a member of the militia,and a deputy to the General Court in 1656-1657.  He was part of a negotiating team with the native Americans in 1653 and again in 1657.  In 1659 we was "allowed" with Isaac Robinson to talk to Quakers and possibly even go to their services, in order to determine what was in their hearts.  They recommended that the anti-Quaker laws be repealed, but their recommendations were ignored.  He occasionally preached in Barnstable and was pastor of a Separatist church in 1661-1662, until the church was closed. He may have upset the authorities or he may have been upset by the authorities, because he left Barnstable about this time. Some believe that he first went to Long Island, NY, although I find that the John Smiths there are confusing and there may be some room to question that conclusion. 

It is clear, however, that John and Susannah and family left the Puritan colony and they did settle in New Jersey, whether or not they were first on Long Island.  He received land at Piscataway in 1666 but settled at Woodbridge, N.J. and was quite active there.  He assisted in building the church and supporting the minister, was constable in 1669, was member of the New Jersey Assembly town clerk, and moderator, and eventually, justice.  During this time, his occupation is given as mill wright.  We don't know where he learned that trade, or whether he had been pursuing it in Barnstable or even in Long Island. 

By 1675, the town of Sandwich, Massachusetts was looking for a pastor and called him to fill the spot.  Most pastors were from England and had a college education so I'm a little confused about this, but he was apparently ordained in Sandwich and served the church there until 1688, when his pastorate ended at his own request, at the age of 74.  He may have been feeling the effects of his age, or other infirmities may have set in. 

John and Susannah had 13 children, Samuel, Sarah, Ebenezer (died as an infant), Mary, Dorcas, John (lived two days), Shubael, John, Benjamin, Ichabod, Elizabeth, Thomas and Joseph, born from 1644 to 1667.  I find conflicting death dates for Susannah, of 1667 and 1675.  I hope she lived until 1675, to see her family grow up and to make sure her youngest children would remember her.  John died in 1710, at the age of 96 years, probably in the home of one of his children. 

I'd love to know more about his religious beliefs and what led him to pastor a church when he was already past the age of 60 years old, and the circumstances of his ordination.  I'd love to know what books he had in his library.  I'd love to learn where he learned the skills to be a mill wright, and where he learned the diplomacy to deal with the native Americans.  He was another fascinating man.

The line of descent is:

John Smith-Susannah Hinckley
Samuel Smith-Elizabeth Pierce
Shubael Smith-Prudence Fitzrandolph
Mary Smith-Jonathan Dunham
Samuel Dunham-Hannah Ruble
Jacob Dunham-Catherine Goodnight
Samuel Dunham-Eliza Reese
Margaret Catherine Dunham-Harvey Aldridge
Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendents

Friday, May 15, 2015

Holbrook line: Ralph Wheelock abt 1600-1683 Immigrant

There is so much written about Ralph Wheelock, including an easily accessible article on Wikipedia, that I am not sure why I am writing this post.  However, because my family may not be aware of their connection to him, I will give just the bare outlines of his life.  We need to know our past, so we can walk proudly into the future.

It seems most likely, although unproven, that Ralph Wheelock was born or christened on May 14, 1600 in Donington, Shropshire, England.  He know that his parents must have had money, because he was educated at Clare Hall, Cambridge University, with John Milton and John Elliot as classmates.  He enrolled in 1623 and obtained a bachelor of arts degree in 1626 and a master of arts in 1630 or 1631.  Cambridge was a center for Puritan thought and he participated in that movement while there.

Less than two weeks after obtaining his master of arts degree, and being ordained by Francis White, biship of Norfolk, he married Rebecca Clarke, daughter of Thomas Clarke and Mary Canne, in the church of Wramplingham St. Peter and Paul, Wramplingham, England.  It appears that he served as local curate in Banham, Norfolk, and then in some capacity in Eccles.  We don't know when or whether his beliefs as a Puritan brought him up against the requirements of the Church of England, but it is believed that he, along with his wife and three children Mary, Gershom and Rebecca, sailed to Boston in 1637.  There may have been a daughter, Peregrina, born at sea, also. 

They first settled in Watertown, but by 1638 Rev. Wheelock was one of the founding fathers and first settlers at Dedham, Massachusetts.  Four children were born to the couple there, Benjamin, Samuel, Record, and Experience.  In 1639, he was chosen to be one of eight town 'assayers', or selectmen, and was also made a freeman.  In 1642 he was appointed the General Court Clerk of Writs, which was included legal duties and also the authority to dispense lands. 

Rev. Wheelock's first love was teaching school, and he may have been the first teacher of a public school in America.  The school was voted on February 1, 1644 and Wheelock was the first teacher, but it's not clear exactly when the school began. 

In 1651, the family was preparing to move again, to a settlement they helped found that became the town of Medfield.  The last son, Eleazur, was born there, and the Wheelocks had finally found their permanent home.  Rev. Wheelock was the leader of the committee of seven that founded the town, and received the first house lot there.  He served on the board of selectmen for several years, and was a representative to the General Court in Massachusetts five different times.  He was also the first school teacher there.

Rebecca Clarke Wheeler died January 1, 1680 and Reverend Ralph died January 11,1683.  His will gave several grants of land to his sons and sons in law, and added a comment that "Further my will is that my books not formerly disposed of shall after my decease shall be Devided amongst my children."  I would love to find an inventory of his books, to see what was important in his life besides the Bible, and what he used to teach his family and his students.

We have had a lot of schoolteachers in our family, and it's fascinating to think that somehow some of this man's influence reached to his descendents, many generations later. 

The line of descent is:

Ralph Wheelock-Rebecca Clarke
Benjamin Wheelock-Elizabeth Bullen
Benjamin Wheelock-Huldah Thayer
Mary Wheelock-Ebenezer Thayer
Abigail Thayer-Jesse Holbrook
Amariah Holbrook-Molly Wright
Nahum Holbrook-Susanna Rockwood
Joseph Holbrook-Mary Elizabeth Whittemore
Fremont Holbrook-Phoebe Brown
Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendents

Since Molly Wright is mentioned in this descent, the update is that there is no update.  I am supposed to hear something from NEHGS this week, but thus far, all is silent.  Soon, very soon! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Allen line: John Graves 1622-1677 A sad ending

I was all geared up to write about Deacon George Graves today, but I decided to first double-check my facts.  My facts were fiction, as it turned out.  So I've been spending some time learning about John Graves today, and his story needs to be told and honored in our family. 

John Graves was born in 1622 somewhere in England (probably somewhere in Kent,) to Thomas Graves and Sarah, possibly Sarah Whiting.  He came to the New World with his family and they first settled in New Haven and then Hartford, Connecticut.  John took up land in Wethersfield, but it is probable that this land was just a short distance from his father and his brother Isaac, who stayed in Hartford for a time.  This was very much a Puritan family, and there was a schism in the church which induced them all to leave their homes and settle again in Hatfield, Massachusetts, which was very much a frontier town, but which was comprised mainly of people with their religious beliefs.  They arrived there probably about October 1, 1661, and the three families immediately began building shelter for the winter. 

Thomas died in 1662, about a year after arriving at Hatfield.  He lived to see several of his grandchildren born, and had had a good and respected life.  Sarah died four years later. 

In the meantime, John was building his own family.  He married Mary Smith, daughter of Lieutenant Samuel Smith and Elizabeth Chileab, about 1651 or 1652.  The first of their 10 children was born in 1653.  When they made the move from Wethersfield to Hatfield, there were five children, John, Mary, Isaac, Samuel, and Sarah.  Elizabeth, Daniel, Ebenezer, Bethiah and Nathaniel were born after they arrived in Hatfield, the last in 1671.  John was a respected man, a weaver, and a man of education.  When his wife died in December of 1668, John next married Mary Bronson Wyatt, a widow.  It is possible that Nathaniel is her child, because his birth date is given as 1671 and that is supposed to be when the couple married. 

He should be remembered for his life, but his death is also worthy of note. On September 19, 1677 John and his brother Isaac were working to put a roof on the house of John's son, John Jr..  The house was located about one half mile north of the stockade but the men were not particularly worried that morning. Although King Philip's War was still in progress (hence the stockade), the men believed things were relatively calm at the time.  Probably they had their rifles with them, but the weapons may have been on the ground while the men were on the roof.  Regardless, a group of Indians attacked and killed them both, along with two other men who were working with them, John Atchinson and John Cooper.  Eight other persons were also killed, and seventeen of them were made prisoners.  It was a horrible day in the history of the colony, and in the history of our family.

John's widow, Mary, married Lieutenant William Allis on June 25, 1678 and Samuel Gaylord on March 16, 1681.  She must have been a good woman, to attract so many men.  It would be interesting to know how many step children she helped raise! 

If you want to know more about the Graves family, they actually have a wonderful website at  You can trace the family down through many generations, and you'll notice that we actually have several lines to this man. 

Here's one of them:

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

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have many names to delete from the tree and a few to add.  So long to Deacon George and hello, John and Thomas!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Beeks line: Thomas Conway abt 1654-1689 Irish Quaker Immigrant

We don't know a lot specifically about Thomas Conway.  One paragraph would probably suffice to fill in the known details of his life.  He was born about 1654 to Thomas Conaway and Mariah Tanney in Lisburn, County Armagh, Ireland.  The parents apparently aren't proven but they are believed to be his parents.  He married Mary Hollingsworth, daughter of Valentine Hollingsworth and Ann Ree (last name uncertain) in 1682 in Segoe, Armagh, Ireland, in the Quaker religion.  Two months later, the young Conways emigrated with Mary's father to what became the Brandywine Hundred, in northern Delaware.  (At the time, it was considered part of Pennsylvania.) The couple had three daughters, Mary, Ann, and Sarah, before Thomas died in 1689.  I've found three different death dates for him but all at least agree that he died in 1689.

That is all that I can learn about Thomas, other than a list of witnesses at his wedding.  We don't know whether he was the first Quaker in the family, but it appears his parents didn't attend the wedding.  We don't know when his parents died, or how far the wedding was from the family home, if there was one.

We do know that the Hollingsworth and Conway families emigrated for more than economic reasons.  Yes, the promise of cheap land in William Penn's tract was enticing, but most Irish Quakers emigrated because they were being persecuted, thrown into jail and their land or/and belongings confiscated.  Ireland was no place to try to raise a Quaker family.  We also know that life in the New World was not easy.  Starvation was a possibility and malnutrition a probability, which led to any of numerous diseases and conditions.  We don't know why Thomas died but there is no record of an Indian attack that would account for his death in 1689, so it was either an accident or illness.  He was only about 35 years old when he died. 

His widow, Mary, later married Randall Malin and they had three children.  Mary is said to have died in 1746, when she was about ninety years old. 

The line of descent is:

Thomas Conway-Mary Hollingsworth
Mary Conway-Charles Booth
Lydia Booth-Isaac Malin
Sarah Malin-David Ruble
Hannah Ruble-Samuel Dunham
Jacob Dunham-Catherine Goodnight
Samuel Dunham-Eliza Reese
Margaret Catherine Dunham-Harvey Aldridge
Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendents

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Harshbarger line: William H. Withers estate 1936

On one of my trips to Whitley County, Indiana, I copied down the basics of the estate of William H Withers.  I may have had a copy of it at one time, because this isn't dated although I believe it would be from 1936, since he died January 24,1936.  I will mark this on my to do list the next time I go back, because I hate to leave things undone.  However, I'd also hate to have this information about him and not post it, because someone, some where, may be glad to have these 'crumbs' to lead them on the trail.

The appraisers of the estate (also not noted-Gee, was this the day I went with husband and he was in a hurry to leave?  or maybe we took photos that didn't turn out) gave the following values to his personal property:

Checking account  $29                                  Mower                           $3
2 horses                  $50                                 Corn cultivator               $2
3 cows                  $120                                 Hay rake                         $2
1 cow                     $30                                  Onion drill                      $1
calf                         $10                                  2 wheel hoes                  $2
brood sow              $25                                 30 onion crates                $1.50
7 shoats                 $140                                50 lb peppermint oil        $7.50  ??
1923 Dodge auto   $35                                  Set of harness                 $2
Wagon                   $10                                  2 tons of hay (??)             $10

Harness                    $3                                 50 bu. corn                      $25

Riding plow             $3                                 Walking breaking ???       $.50

Total appraised value  $579  No taxes owed
Debts to J.A. DeMoney, funeral $257.50
Dr. B.F. Pence, medical bill     $17.50

Net value of estate  $304.

I've read enough to know that growing onions and then mint in Whitley County, Indiana was back- breaking hard work, and did not pay well.  This estate is evidence of that.  We have no personal stories other than a story about an automobile accident that left his vehicle smelling differently than it had before, to rely on in trying to learn about this man, so this gives us more information than we had before. 

There is an outside chance that someone reading this may have a picture of William or/and of his wife, Della Kemery.  I would certainly love to hear from you, if that person is you!  

The line of descent is:

William H. Withers-Della Kemery
Goldie Withers-Grover Harshbarger
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Their descendents

Friday, May 1, 2015

Holbrook line: Thomas Holbrook 1599-1677, Immigrant

We have a lot of information about Thomas Holbrook, but one of the things we don't know is when he was born.  He was christened on March 1, 1599 at St. John the Baptist Church, Glastonbury, Somersetshire, England.  If you're thinking that "Glastonbury" sounds familiar, it has very old associations with Joseph of Arimathea, King Arthur, and the Holy Grail.  Thomas may have grown up hearing some of these stories. He would most certainly have been familiar with the church where he was christened, which dates from the 15th century.  So the church was old (by American standards) when he was young. 

He was the fifth of at least seven children born to William Holbrook and Edith Coles Saunders.  So far I have not been able to learn what his father did for a living, nor, for that matter, what Thomas did.  Thomas grew up, however, and married Jane Powyes or Powis, daughter of William Powyes and Elizabeth, on September12, 1616 at Glastonbury.  If the 1599 birth date for Thomas is correct (and some think he was born a few years before he was christened), he would have been only about 17 years old, which was young for marriage then.   

Thomas and Jane and their family moved to Broadway, also in Somerset, in about 1633, where Rev. Joseph Hull was leading a Puritan congregation.  Archbishop William Laud of Canterbury was busy expelling Puritan preachers from Church of England congregations, and Hull was expelled in 1635.  On March 20, 1635, Rev. Hull and 105 other persons, mostly members or associates of his congregation, were on their way to New England on board the Marygould.  Children John, Thomas, Ann, and Elizabeth were with them.  William is not listed on the manifest and may not have come on the same ship.  Daughter Jane was born in 1636, after arriving in New England.   

The ship arrived in Boston on May 6, 1635, so the trip was relatively short.  In another two months, Reverend Hull and about 100 other persons were given permission to settle at Wessaguscus, south east of Boston.  The town was soon renamed Weymouth, and that is where the Holbrooks settled.  They had apparently been granted land in Rehoboth, which they did not settle and therefore forfeited.  Thomas was made a freeman in May of 1645, so by that time he had joined the church and was a property owner.  He was respected in town, as he was a selectman in 1642,1645, 1646, 1651, 1652 and 1654, and also helped lay out a road from Weymouth to Dorchester in 1648.

We don't know what Thomas did to make a living in the New World, either, but he likely raised some crops and perhaps also had some connection with the sea, since the settlement is right on the coastline.  He wrote his will in February of 1668/69 and added a codicil in 1673.  The will was proved April 24, 1677.  The inventory totaled 129 pounds, 1 shilling, of which forty pounds was real estate.  His estate, after his wife had died, was to be equally divided between his six surviving children, with eldest son John to get a double portion.  He left all of his grandchildren at least two shillings, with grandsons John to get his sword, Peter to get his gun, and William to get his musket.  In the codicil, Peter was also given the dwelling house and about three acres of orchard and arable land.  He states in the codicil that Peter had been as a servant to him and to wife Jane in their old age, and had cared for them for eight years at the time of the codicil.  Wife Jane had died sometime between 1673 and the date the will was proved, for John was the executor of the will.

Have I mentioned before how much I love working on these posts?  I always learn so much from writing them, but it always leaves me wanting more.  We are fortunate with Thomas Holbrook in several ways.  First, he has a lot of descendents, and some of them have been doing their own research and posting it on the web.  Secondly, because he arrived in New England in 1635, there is a wonderful write up of him in The Great Migration series on the American Ancestors website, and probably in your local library.  I am deeply indebted to them, and to Kathy and Larry McCurdy, who have compiled information on the website.  I also recommend, because gives not only information about Thomas, but also gives a lot of background information, and pictures of some of the areas associated with Thomas.

The line of descent is:

Thomas Holbrook-Jane Powyes
Thomas Holbrook-Joanna Kingman
Peter Holbrook-Alice Godfrey
Joseph Holbrook-Mary Cook
Jesse Holbrook-Abigail Thayer
Amariah Holbrook-Molly Wright
Nahum Holbrook-Susanna Rockwood
Joseph Holbrook-Mary Elizabeth Whittemore
Fremont Holbrook-Phoebe Brown
Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendents

There is also another line of descent.  The first three lines are the same, and then it's:

Mary Holbrook-Joseph Thompson
Alie Thompson-Joseph Rockwood 
Levi Rockwood-Deborah Lazell
Susanna Rockwood-Nahum Holbrook
and so on...  Susanna and Hahum would have been fourth cousins, if I have this figured right. 

Fun fact: Thomas and Jane are the ancestors of Presidents James Garfield, both Presidents Bush, and William Howard Taft.  That makes us distant cousins to all of them, a couple of times!