Friday, September 29, 2017

Holbrook line: Ray Holbrook 1915-1944

I'm not sure why I've waited so long to write about my uncle . Perhaps it was because I knew that I only knew part of his story.  I have just learned enough now that I feel compelled to share this, because it's important for our family (and anyone else who is reading this) to know about our hero. My mother always called him a hero, and told us he died at Anzio in Italy, but that is all that I really knew about him before I started this genealogy quest .

I had some information in my file about Ray but didn't understand some of it, and it didn't give the full story.  This isn't really the full story, but it's a condensed version.  Ray was born to Loren and Etta Stanard Holbrook November 4, 1915 in Colville, Washington.  He was the oldest of four children.  About a year after the birth of his youngest sister, his parents separated and then divorced in 1933.  He and his brother Howard were raised largely by their father, until high school.  Their parents wanted them to have a better education than was available in the Colville area, and besides, the family story is that they were getting to be a little bit rowdy.  They were sent to live with their school teacher aunt, Elizabeth Stanard, and attended Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane, Washington.  Ray graduated in 1934.

In the 1940 census, he was listed as living with his father, who operated a saw mill.  Ray's occupation was listed as laborer and, although the census doesn't state this, he was working for his father.  Maybe he thought it was time to move on, because Ray talked to an Army recruiter and he enlisted in the U.S. Army on September 11, 1940 at Ft. George Wright, Washington.  He was soon sent to Ft Lewis, Washington for training.  He had enlisted for a one year term and was assigned to the infantry.  I've not found records of when he re-enlisted, but he must have done so.  Here's where it starts to get interesting. 

Somewhere, somehow, after the outbreak of World War II, he was made aware of an opportunity to join a new unit of men.  The unit was to be made up entirely of men, both American and Canadian,  who had volunteered for the job.  They were especially looking for men who were lumberjacks, raftsmen, and skiers, among others.  The particular component that was to bind the men together was that these people all loved adventure.  They were willing to accept jobs that they knew were dangerous, and of course, they were all committed to their country.  These were men who would soon learn to fight and sustain themselves behind enemy lines in mountains and in winter conditions.  Their initial training took place at Fort William Henry Harrison near Helena, Montana.  By the time the men left this base, they had learned the basics of paratrooping, of winter survival, of long marches, of night time operations, and of other things we don't really want to know about. 

By now, the unit officially had a name, the First Special Service Force.  One of their nicknames became "The Devil's Brigade."  Their first assignment was to the Aleutian Islands, specifically Kiska.  They landed on August 15, 1943, only to discover that the Japanese had withdrawn their forces two weeks earlier.  They stayed only a few weeks and  when they returned the men were given leave.  I don't know if Ray went home or not.  If he did, this would have been his last time to see his family.  There was more training, near San Francisco, Sacramento, Vermont, and Virginia.  By the time the FSSF left for Europe, the war had been in progress for almost two years, and these soldiers were some of the best of the best in terms of the kinds and depth of training they had had.  There were 1800 combat men, plus support crew such as cooks, medics and Headquarters.  What these 1800 men would accomplish, before D-Day, was so extraordinary that Congress in 2013 voted the unit a Congressional Gold Medal, which was actually awarded in 2015. 

The men landed at Morocco and went to Oran, Algiers, but that was just a staging point for their ultimate destination of Italy.  Before the battle of Anzio, these men were the spearpoint of an attack on the German fortress at Monte La Difensa.  Within days of their arrival, they planned the attack on this mountain, choosing the hardest route to the top because they thought the Germans would not be expecting the there.  This mountain overlooked the entire Rome valley, and control of this mountain and one other meant the invasion army to come would have a clear route to Rome.  Ray's company, the first company of the second regiment (1-2) was at the forefront of this attack.  It was begun in the night time hours of December 2, and Ray, in his first real battle, was wounded during this attack.  I don't know anything about his wound at this point but I do know his mother was notified, and he was awarded the Purple Heart.  Ray was apparently out of commission for some time but he didn't lose touch with his unit and eventually rejoined them. 

The next we know of Ray is the sad news, in newspaper articles and in a letter to his mother, of Ray's death on March 30, 1944.  He was on a patrol in front of the lines (this was after the large landing at the Anzio beach head) and the men encountered a mine field . A buddy set a mine off and was badly injured.  While attempting to help the wonded man, Ray set off another mine which exploded and caused his death.  Other members of the patrol said that he could probably have saved himself by throwing himself to one side, but made no effort to do so, thereby saving his comrades who were just a short distance away. He was awarded the Silver Star posthumously for his bravery. 

The First Special Service Force went on, without Ray and without many others who were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner during the life of the force.  They were in action for about a year, in Italy and during the invasion of southern France, and during this time the unit suffered an attrition rate of about 600%.  That means the original 1800 men were replaced 6 times, to keep the unit at strength.  Of course there were some survivors from the original group, but I've not yet found a number to give.  I do know there is one gentleman still alive, who is 108 years old.  The movie "The Devil's Brigade", (1968) tells a fictionalized version of the battle of Monte la Defensa, and I have ordered a copy.   

We need to know these stories, of how young men from all over this country and other countries, came together to fight for freedom.  We need to tell these stories to the next generation, and the next, and the next.  These men, including Ray, were heroes and worthy of remembrance and honor 

Note:  Some of the information in this post was provided by Lynda Beacon, who administers the Facebook page for the First Special Service Force.  If I have mis-stated anything that she told me, I apologize.  Much of what I've said here comes from personal research, information available on the internet, and letters that I have in my possession.  Together, it is all starting to make sense, but I would love to have still more information, especially regarding Ray's injuries and recovery from his wound(s) and when he returned to duty.  That information may be available, but I will have to save up quite a few pennies to obtain it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Allen line: William Buck, Immigrant 1585-1657

I've rarely written about a person with so much conflicting information.  On the one hand, we have Robert Charles Anderson, world famous Great Migration researcher, saying no one knows his parents, or his wife, and that William had only one known son.  On the other hand, we have other researchers who give William's parents, two wifes, and up to 17 children.  I've also found discrepancies, large ones, in his birthdate. 

In a nutshell, this is what is absolutely certain about William:  He came to New England from England with his son Roger, on the ship Increase, with his son Roger.  He was a plowright (a maker and probably repairman of plows) and he died January 24, 1657/58. 

That would be the end of this blogpost, except I also want to share what else may be true about William.  From a book published in 1799 called History of Worcestershire, England by Nash, he is referred to as esquire, and is said to have been the son and heir of Nathaniel, son of John, and is also said to have marred about 1606 Margaret Good, daughter and heir of Michael Good of Sussex, Lord of the castle of Frome, Somersetshire. My analysis of this is that it is doubtful, because of the way William made his living in Massachusetts Bay Colony and because he never joined a church or became a freeman.  Even the land he was given was on the outskirts of town, indicating that perhaps he lived on the edge of society.

I've also seen his parents listed as James Buck and Elizabeth Sherman, This connection goes with a birth location of Padbury, Cambridgeshire, England, and makes a little more sense historically, except that I can find no documentation for this information.  So as far as I can determine, the jury is still out.

William Buck is also said to have married Margaret Neave, September 7, 1618 in Andersby, Lincolnshire, England.  This would be late for a first marriage, but it is entirely possible that he had a first wife.  Under this theory, Roger, the known descendant, was born in 1617 and his mother, William's wife, died shortly after.  William is credited with as many as eight children with Margaret, including our ancestor, Grace.  But again, I can find no record of her birth, nor of any of her siblings. 

It is fun to think of William living as a plowright, next to a Winthrop farm . Perhaps he knew some of the Winthrop family, in a business sense, anyway.  Living in Cambridge, he would have known some of our other Allen and Holbrook ancestors, and helped them make a living on their farms. 

I am very open, even anxious, to learn more about William Buck.  Was he in fact the father of our Grace, and was he married to Margaret Neave?  I'd love to find his family!

The line of descent would be:

William Buck-possibly Margaret Neave
Grace Buck-John Riley
John Riley-Margaret McCraney
Mary Riley-Joseph Ely
Mary Ely Thomas Stebbins
Ruth Stebbins-Samuel Hitchcock
Margaret Hitchcock-Richard Falley
Samuel Falley-Ruth Root
Clarissa Falley-John Havens Starr
Harriet Starr-John Wilson Knott
Edith Knott-Edward Allen
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendants

Friday, September 22, 2017

Harshbarger line: Robert D. Harshbarger, cousin

OK, raise your hand if you've ever heard of cousin Bob (at least, I suppose he went by the name of Bob).  He and his brother Edward, sons of Logan and Chestia Kemery Harshbarger, were total surprises to me,  and to my husband, who remembers vividly visiting Logan and "Chesty" in their golden years.

Robert, as it turns out, was born December 9, 1915 in Whitley County, Indiana. He was the first of only two children.  He apparently did well in school because in 1936 he was selected to be Indiana's representative in the midwest sectional contest in farm accounting.  He qualified for the $100 merchandise certificate from the International Harvester Co by winning the state contest.  So he was doing well at what he did.  In 1940 the census lists him as a farm laborer by occupation, an unpaid family worker by class of worker, with 0 income.  He had completed his fourth year of high school, most likely in 1933 or 34.  But perhaps it was the Great Depression that had kept him from finding the career he probably wanted to have.

Robert had one answer for that.  He joined the US Army on March 18, 1941 and reported to Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana.  He was still single.  In the service, he was a medical technician and apparently a very good one.  He was in the States for three years, eight months, and  days, and was given credit for 1 year, 1 month, and 11 days of overseas service, which included transportation time.  He actually served on the island of Luzon in the Philippines from December 1, 1944 to December 1, 1945.  Actually, the battle for Luzon didn't begin until January 9, 1945 so he was probably in a staging area somewhere, until the battle began.  He must have seen many truly terrible, horrific scenes, whether he was in the field or in a hospital setting.  He earned a total of 4 Bronze stars while he was in the service, was promoted to corporal, and earned a number of medals and ribbons for his service.  He was separated from the service on January 19, 1946 after having served his country for almost five years.

I'm not sure what his life looked like for the next few years.  He married but I haven't determined the maiden name of his wife.  Her first name was Aileen, and this wasn't her first marriage because a woman identified as the daughter of Mrs. Robert Harshbarger was married in 1953.  This indicates that Aileen may have been older than Robert,

The next information I located was confusing, because Citizens State Bank was advertising household items, including what sounds like most of the furnishings for a home, and a 1951  Studebaker, at a public auction, as the guardian of Robert D. Harshbarger.  This was on December 5, 1956.  I found in the court order books that Robert had been judged insane early in the year and sent to the Norman Beatty Memorial Hospital for the criminally insane.  I didn't look at the insanity filings, but I know it involved the sheriff of Allen County and the VA hospital there, so the problem may have been an ongoing one.  Given what Robert had likely seen at Luzon, perhaps now his illness would be recognized as PTSD, but that was not a diagnosis at the time.  He spent about 2 1/2 years in the hospital, being declared sane in 1958 and having his full civil rights restored.  Life still didn't go well for Robert, as his wife filed for divorce in late 1959 and the divorce was finalized in 1960.

The next thing we hear about Robert is that he has died.  On January 20,1976, he was walking on Highway 205 in Thorncreek township near his home, when he was hit by a driver who didn't see him and didn't have tie to stop.  Death came within minutes.  The last years were a sad ending for a boy who had accounting skills, who had served his country for almost five years, who had married with all the hopes and dreams that young men had, and then had lost control of his life.  His parents must have celebrated and suffered right along with him. 

I'm proud to honor Robert Dell Harshbarger for this service to his country, and to introduce him to his extended Harshbarger family. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Beeks line: Hugh Donaghe, dates unclear, Immigrant

Hugh Dunaghe or Donaho is the last Beeks ancestor I have on the family tree.  I hope I can find more ancestors  to write about, and I hope I can find more about this man than I have right now.  The information I have is sketchy, but interesting. 

As you might guess, Hugh's last name, Donaghe, or Donaho, seems to indicate an Irish origin.  The sketchy and undocumented information that I have says that Hugh was born about 1680, In Kilkeel, County Down, Ireland . Kilkeel is a small town on the east coast of Northern Ireland, and their principal industry is fishing.  I'm not sure whether that fits with what is known about our Hugh, but of course there would have been other occupations, too, for someone had to feed and clothe the fishermen of the time. 

He is believed to have married someone named Elizabeth about 1700, possibly in Chester County, Pennsylvania, about 1700, shortly before his father John died in 1705.  The location for John's death is given as Virginia, but again, that seems very sketchy.  The only child of Hugh and Elizabeth that I can locate is Dianna, who married Thomas Hicklin in about 1723.  So Dianna would have been born about the turn of the 18th century. 

I suspect that Hugh and Elizabeth had at least one other child, a son named Hugh.  There are records in Augusta County, Virginia referring to a Hugh Donague, and that Hugh died in 1773.  I suspect that this record is not for our Hugh, and I suspect that military records for Thomas and Charles Donaho, as early as the 1740s in Virginia, may also belong to sons or other relatives of this man. 

Land records as late as 1774 mention Hugh.  If this is our Hugh, he had land, 277 acres on "the south side of the North RIver of Shando".  It's possible that the deed wasn't filed until after Hugh's death, because up to that point there had been no need to file a deed.  There is also a record of Hugh witnessing a land deed several years after our Hugh's death, so it seems that whether or not they were father and son, they were surely two different people.  Perhaps our Hugh never made it to the Shenandoah Valley.

That is as much information or speculation as I have for Hugh.  It  certainly isn't much to go on but because the Beeks family doesn't have much known Irish ancestry, I thought it was worthwhile to at least mention the man.  Perhaps there are more records waiting to be found, and if we are lucky enough to find them, I'll post them at a later date. 

The line of descent is

Hugh Donaghe-Elizabeth
Dianna Donaghe-Thomas Hicklin
Dinah or Delilah Hicklin- James Bodkin
George Bodkin-Elizabeth "Fannie" Featheringill
Charity Botkin-Jackson Wise
Mary Wise-William Beeks
John Beeks-Elizabeth Wise
Wilbur Beeks-Cleo Aldridge
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendants

Friday, September 15, 2017

Holbrook line: Jacques Larzalere, Immigrant

Now, how much fun is this?  A Holbrook ancestor, apparently from the area of northern France-Belguim-the Netherlands, who lived in Flatbush, New York as early as 1677!  This is not our typical New England, or even Maryland, ancestor!  What's up with this man?

Well, I wish I knew more than I know, but I am so, so grateful to Joseph F. Mulbane who has done extensive research on this family.  The purpose of his research was not so much to talk about our Jacques, as to try to document his children.  He has done an admirable job, and much of what I am writing here comes from his research.

We don't really know when Jacques was born, or where.  I've seen suggestions that wherever he was born, he probably went to Antwerp with other members of his family, who may or may not have been escaping religious persecution, and who may or may not have originally had a name of Largillier, or something similar.  Based on the birth dates of his children, he was probably born sometime around 1650, and was in the New World, at Flatbush, in 1677.  This was a few years after the English took over New Amsterdam and the surrounding area, but still early in the history of New York.

He was married, probably in 1667, to Marie Granger or Grancon (Mulbane uses "Granger" but says he has not found documentation for either name), but we don't know whether that was on the other side of the ocean or here.  The couple soon began having children, and at the same time, Jacques was working very hard to support them. In 1683 he was taxed in Flatbush (now part of Brooklyn, New York City) for horses, cows, hogs, and 60 acres of land.  

The Dutch, which we can consider this family to be, in terms of culture if not birth, have a reputation for keeping extremely clean, neat-looking homes so it is fun to consider what the home of Jacques and Marie looked like.  Was it frame, or brick?  Did it have the typical overhand of the second story, and the "Dutch" split door?  What about the typical porch area?

As far as we can determine, the couple had children named Jacob, Nicholas, Anthony, Michael, Magdalena, Maria, and possibly Margaret. 

We don't know what happened to Jacques, but he was dead by 1687. Although even the oldest child would have been not yet 21 at the time of his father's death, Maria didn't remarry, as she is described as his "relict" at her death in 1693 or 1694 (dates are confusing.)  Her estate was valued at 277 pounds, 15 shillings, 6 pence which included various farm animals and the 60 acres of land, now described as  of "two lots of land and meadow".  It also included a sword, which may have been left from Jacques's supposed military duty . The relative prosperity of the family was continuing, which is a good thing as some of the children may have still been as young as 10 years of age. 

This is pretty much what we know of Jacques, other than a comment that he and his wife transferred to the "French church".  I haven't figured all this out yet, but there may have been a French reformed church as well as the Dutch Reformed church, and presumably an established English church by this time.  There are still lots of questions about Jacques, and many of his ancestors would love to find his family in Antwerp, or France, or wherever it was that he was born.  I'd love to know that, and I'd also love to know more about his life here. For instance, was he educated, and did he educate his children? What is the reference to the "French church"?  And was he happy that he'd decided to come to American?

The line of descent is:

Jacques Larzalere-Maria Grancon or Granger
Maria Larzalere-Willem Swaim
Elizabeth Swaim-Christopher Nation
Joseph Nation-Jerretta Vickery
Elizabeth Nation-Christopher Myers
Phoebe Myers-Adam Brown
Phoebe Brown-Fremont Holbrook
Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Allen line: Richard Lane, immigrant to paradise?

I've written a little about Richard Lane before, when I wrote about his son, Samuel. But Richard is touching my heart today, because of the manner and location of his death.  It makes me wonder more about the circumstances.  What really happened, and what were the circumstances?  Will we ever know?

To start at the beginning, Richard was born or christened August 7, 1596 in St Peter, Hereford, Hereford, England.  His parents were Roger Lane and an as yet unidentified "Beatrix".  He was one of at least eight children.  Roger is identified as being an "iremonger".  I can't identify that unless it is the same as "ironmonger', which would mean he was involved in the manufacture or sale of metal objects commonly found in today's hardware stores, such as pulls, knobs and hinges.  At any rate, he made a living for his family until his early death, when Richard was just 10 years old.

Either Roger's family or his mother's family must have stepped in to help raise the eight children, and Richard went to London at the age of 16 where he was apprenticed for seven years to Nathaniel Thornhill, a merchant tailor.  At the age of 24, he was admitted a freeman to the Merchant tail company, on February 26, 1620.  It took a certain amount of "pull" to be admitted to an apprenticeship and certainly to become a freeman, and Richard took advantage of his opportunities.  He married Alice Carter, daughter of Humfrey Carter, on October 27, 1623 in London, and life must have seemed good.  Richard had a wife and a successful business.  What could go wrong?

Richard Lane also appears to have been a man caught up in the politics and religious dissensions of the early to mid century in England.  His religious views may have been not quite orthodox, but perhaps not quite Puritan, either.  He was called before the authorities in 1631 and Richard, although not persecuted, must have decided that this was a good time to "get out of Dodge".  He got himself appointed as a representative of the Company of Providence Island, a quasi-governmental organization, to go to the West Indies.

He, along with his wife and children, finally arrived at Providence Island in 1635.  He spent most of the rest of his life there, introducing a plant called madder, which is used to make red dye.  He may have been fairly wealthy, as he was allotted eight servants, later changed to six, to help in his activities.  It's not clear whether these were personal servants for his household, or whether they were more like field hands or overseers for the planting operations.

At one point, he and two clergymen were held prisoner and returned to London to be examined for their religious views.  By this time, Richard was more like a Puritan, and these beliefs were not acceptable in England.  Fortunately, by the time they arrived in England Bishop Laud, who was the source of the "examinations",  had died and after a brief interview, the men were freed.  There was a bit of political excitement when he was nominated to be Governor of Providence Island, but that was unsuccessful.

Sometime before August 7, 1657, Richard and his son Oziell were drowned.  Most sources say this happened at Eleuthera Island, in the Bahamas, but there is one source that indicates the death actually took place on the African coast.  That would lead one to wonder whether he was somehow involved in the slave trade, although I've seen no other mention of this.

Providence and Eleuthra are both islands in the Bahamas, which with hurricanes Irma and Jose both threatening the area, is what brought my attention to Richard Lane.  Was there bad weather when Richard and his son were drowned?  Or were they somehow involved in an encounter with a Spanish ship that was in the area?  The Spanish would not have taken lightly to these British posts in "their
 territories.  It does appear that the days of the "pirates" were later than this time period, so we can probably eliminate that as a potential cause of the drownings.

Alice was left to raise four children.  She did receive her husband's back pay and a pension, after petitioning the company, and she is buried in England.  I don't yet know when she returned there.

This story interests me because as far as I know now, he is one of only two ancestors we have who lived in the islands of the Caribbean and Atlantic oceans.  If I were ever to tour the areas where our ancestors lived, this would be a good place to put on the bucket list!

The line of descent is:

Richard Lane-Alice Carter
Samuel Lane-Margaret Mauldin
Dutton Lane-Pretitia Tydings
Samuel Lane-Mary Jane Corbin
Lambert Lane-Nancy Ann Anderson
Nancy Ann Lane-James McCoy
Vincent McCoy-Eleanor Jackson
Nancy McCoy-George R. Allen
Edward Allen-Edith Knott
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendants

Friday, September 8, 2017

Harshbarger line: Margareth

I thought I'd write a little about Margareth, or rather, about our search for Margareth.  I was contacted by a researcher who also has Margareth, wife of John Mentzer, in her tree and it's great fun working with her . We know nothing about Margareth except her husband's name and the names of her eleven children.  All were born between the years of 1788 and 1813, so her supposed birthdate would be about 1770, give or take a few years.  Her husband John was born in 1767 in Lancaster County, Pa.  I believe it's his christening date that was listed as November 23 of that year, so he could potentially be a few weeks or months older.

I suggested to Anne Caston, researcher extraordinaire, that we needed to be looking at her FAN club, those people who are associated in some kind of records with Margareth, or at least with John.  Anne has been keeping a database of families with daughters named Margareth, found in or near the Mentzers, mostly in their church.  She's eliminated a lot of possibilities or at least put them on the back burner, because she's found later records that showed that Margareth married to someone else.

At the moment, we are pursuing a phantom Margareth, belonging to a Scherb, Schaub, or Sharp family.  The best evidence we have for that right now is that John "Sharp" was a bondsman of some kind when John Mentzer died in 1821.  John Mentzer was 54 when he died, so it is possible that John Sharp could have been his father in law.  It is more likely that he was a brother in law or some other relation, if indeed he was a relation to Margareth at all.

The problem we have is that the marriage records for this church are missing for about 40 years, with very little likelihood that they will ever be found again.  So we are trying to use the FAN (Friends, associates, neighbors) approach, by finding land, tax, or other records that might give us a clue.  Maybe there are still records on line that we haven't found yet. 

There is always the possibility that Margareth came to America by herself or with a married sister, which would make her that much harder to trace.  We are hoping to find a connection in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, that makes sense and that has some actual proof.  Maybe Grandpa in who knows where in Germany left her some money in his will, that shows her last name?  Maybe someone has some document stored away in an attic that will show her name?  Maybe the good folks at the Lancaster County Historical Society will find records they don't know they have?

If there are any genealogists reading this who have experience in Lancaster County, Pa, we sure could use some ideas.  We aren't professionally trained genealogists, and it's more than possible that we are overlooking something obvious.

For the record, John and Margareth's children are: (dates are christening dates)
    Conrad  December 30, 1788
    Elizabeth  September 30, 1790
    Susanna  September 10, 1792
    Johannes  August 29, 1794
    Catherine  June 13, 1797
    Conrad  March 25, 1799
    Samuel December 9, 1800
    Christina  December 2,1804
    Jacob  September 2, 1808
    George March 8, 1810
    Joseph  May 8, 1813

One final thought:  If this family is following the standard naming pattern, perhaps Samuel or Jacob are first names we should be looking for.  But where is Margareth's name?  Did she not name a daughter after herself?  Maybe they weren't using the standard German naming pattern. Anne just told me there is a Jacob Scherb who would be of the right generation, to be Margareth's father.  She has access to more records than I do, or else she's better at finding stuff, because she is all over this family right now. She's already ordered some records and has plans to visit a library that has more land records than I've found at the Allen County Public Library.)  Stay tuned for any updates we (mostly Anne) come up with!

Again, the line of descent for the Harshbarger family is through the second Conrad, born March 25, 1799.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Beeks line: Samuel Dunham 1742-1824

I thought I'd break my self imposed rule of writing only about immigrants and proven war veterans in this blog.  Since I'm running out of Beeks names, I'm looking now for people who left enough of a record that we can at least catch a glimpse of them, through the family forest and the mists of time.  Samuel Dunham is such a man.

We don't know as much about Samuel as we'd like to know, of course.  He seems to have been a moderately successful, salt of the earth kind of man, the kind who pays his taxes and raises his family.  There are hints of parts of his life in records, so we'll have to be happy with that until more information is known.

Samuel was born in Woodbridge, N.J. on May 11, 1742.  His parents were Jonathan and Mary Smith Dunham.  He had five siblings, all born between 1738 and 1742, so he wouldn't have lacked for chores to do nor for playmates, if there was time for such a thing.  He don't know whether he could read or write, but it's reasonable to believe he had at least a rudimentary education, and perhaps more than that.  His family was well known in the Woodbridge community.

We have difficulty following Samuel's move to the west, but we know it happened.  He is believed to have married Hannah Ruble, daughter of David and Sarah Malin Ruble, about 1772.  This family lived in Washington County, Pennsylvania and it is likely that Samuel was living or at least working in the vicinity then.  He would have been about 30 years old, give or take, since we don't have an exact marriage date yet.

The Revolutionary War was about to break out, and we don't know how this impacted Samuel.  He is not found on the Tax List for Berkeley County, now West Virginia, in 1777.  He may have been there at least to scout out a future home, but this was a hot area for battles with the native Americans, who were armed and encouraged by the British.  Perhaps they patiently waited in Pennsylvania, or even Maryland, for a chance to move on.  If Samuel did live in the area during this time period, we can wonder what his role was in the War.  I've not been able to find him listed as a soldier either on Fold 3 or the DAR, but that doesn't mean he didn't serve.  He may well have been in a state militia unit, protecting his family and others in a guardhouse or "fort", for there were many such structures and someone his age on the frontier would have been expected to serve.

Between 1778 and 1783 Samuel and his family moved to Back Creek Valley, in what was then Virginia.  Looking at images found on Google, it was and still is a beautiful area, although home and land prices there are higher than in Indiana.  Most of what I've read of this area says that the Scots-Irish and the Germans settled this area, so it would be interesting to find out how and why this part of the country beckoned to Samuel.

I'm showing a total of 11 children for Samuel and Hannah, although other sources list "only" nine.  At any rate, even the oldest children were young when they moved, and several were born in what was then Virginia.  David Dunham has done research, showing that the couple had at least 80 grandchildren, and some of their descendants are still living in the immediate area, to the ninth generation.

Samuel Dunham was a Baptist, and presumably Sarah was, too, or at least that's what she became after her marriage.  I've not found the particular congregation he attended, but there are some churches in the Back Creek area that might have been active during Samuel's life.  Samuel died February 18, 1824 on his 611 acre farm, and Hannah died about two years later, possibly in Butler County, Ohio.

If Samuel left a will, I haven't found it yet.  It isn't known where he was buried.  Many records from this time period were burned during the Civil War, or otherwise destroyed, so we may never be able to answer some of these questions.  Or, the answers may pop up tomorrow, because we never know...

The line of descent is:

Samuel Dunham-Hannah Ruble
Jacob Dunham-Catherine Goodnight
Samuel Goodnight Dunham-Eliza Matilda Reese
Margaret Catherine Dunham-Harvey Aldridge
Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendants

Friday, September 1, 2017

Holbrook line: Robert Winchell, Immigrant

Robert Winchell is a bit of a mystery since as far as I can tell, his home in England, or possibly Wales, has not been located.  He is believed to be the son of Thomas Winchell or Wyncoll and Beatrice.  One birth location for Robert has been suggested as Dorchester, Dorset, England, but I am not able to find any documentation for that. 

Robert and his wife Mary (generally said to be Mary Phelps) arrived in Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay Colony most likely in 1634.  He was accepted as a freeman on May 6, 1635 in Dorchester.  He acquired several pieces of property there but shortly after, probably in 1637, moved on to Windsor, Connecticut, where he also acquired land, including that given to the original proprietors in 1640.  Two children were born to Robert and Mary before they arrived in Windsor, and six more after they made their home there.  Mary must have been a busy lady! 

Robert served several times on juries for Connecticut and at least once as an arbitrator, but as far as we know was never really involved in the government of the town or the colony.  We do believe that he had some education, as he had an old Bible and about 10 books in his possession when he died. 

We learn a little more from the inventory.  It included two swords and some ammunition, but apparently not a firearm.  This indicates that he had been excused from military duty, as all of the militia or training band was required to have firearms at all times. 

Robert died March 5, 1667/1668, apparently owing a little more than the value of his estate.  However, the oldest son, Nathaniel, did end up with the homestead, and the other sons were left something, even if it was just the forgiveness of a debt.  His will was oral, which sometimes means the last illness was sudden and there was no time to call someone who could write it out .

The other thing we can tell  about Robert is that he seems to have stayed out of trouble, at least anything major, for there is no reference to him in the court records that I have consulted.  He was one of those who came to America and quietly helped build it, supporting his family and giving them a chance to make a better life for themselves. 

The line of descent is

Robert Winchell-Mary
David Winchell-Elizabeth Filley
Elizabeth Winchell-John Trumbull
Hannah Trumbull-Medad Pomeroy
Medad Pomeroy-Eunice Southwell
Eunice Pomeroy-Libbeus Stanard
Libbeus Stanard-Luceba Fay
Hiram Stanard-Susan Eddy
Louis Stanard-Mary Alice Hetrick
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants