St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Double Shot of Blood is Good for the Soul

Have you ever struggled to explain how you are related to someone?  Sometimes, it is so very easy.  You can say, "He's my mother's brother."  That works well. 

In my world, however, it can be quite difficult to just say it.  I mean, I sometimes find I need a pen and paper just to explain it to my closest blood relatives.  Take, for example, my dear sweet cousin who called last week just to chat.  I met sweet Barbara some 12 years ago while I was researching my grandfather's bloodline.  She had an unusual name to my ears and she was living in the same metro area as I was.  Or at least, someone with that surname was.  So, I took a chance and wrote her a letter.  Gee, do you even remember writing letters and sending them through the mail?  That seems like ages ago.  Anyway......

Barbara gave me a call after she had received the letter and told me that she was indeed the granddaughter of my grandfather's first cousin.  She had stories to tell and I had ears anxiously waiting to listen.  And, then, she dropped the news that we shared another bond.

It seems her grandfather on her mother's side was the brother of grandfather's mother.  Seems confusing, eh?

To make it clear really does take a paper and pen, or a great chart printed by my favorite genealogy program, but it is true.

My sweet cousin was able to provide more information for me and was able to introduce me to both her parents.  Now, yes, they were quite old and memories were fading.  But for me, they were a link to grandfather.  For me, they were a love bond ready to happen.  For me, they were family and I was happy to listen and hold their hands.  Just thinking that those wrinkled hands of old had known my greatgrandparents and hugged them and shared family meals with them just brought shivers down my spine.  Of course, hearing them share some more lore with me brought tears to my eyes.

So, here I sit, still trying to untangle the weave of the cloth of which I am made.  Every time a new string appears, there's another new story for my ears.  Just last week, Barbara shared with me that my greatgrandmother had worked in a cigar factory.  A cigar factory?  Really?  I didn't even know there was one in the Low Country.

So the search was on....  Using my trusty fingers on the keyboard, I found the cigar factory that had been mentioned.  I just wonder if she worked there when it first opened in the early 1880s or if she worked there before her marriage or after the birth of her children.  I still haven't figured out if I can determine that, and I may not be able to find the trail.  But, the image of her that was painted for me by another great-niece of hers became clearer as this niece told me that greatgrandmother loved her snuff.  You can read the story of how I found her here.

Ahhh, genealogy.  How many double shots of blood do you have running in your veins?  I have several of them....from the late 1800s.  Brings new meaning to who is related to whom?  Or is it how many times are you related?

©AS Eldredge 2013.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Can I Use the Evidence as Proof?

It's a beautiful fall morning and my voice has gone still.  While the weather outside is delightful, I am, well, I am wordless.  Am I quiet after spending a day shouting "Happy Constitution Day" yesterday, or am I just plain stuck?

I have to write a paper to try and prove that my beloved ancestor is who I think he is.  All was well in the world until someone tried to use my dearly departed's information as their own.  To be fair, the imposter descendant of my beloved didn't realize that she was only a cousin to my ancestor.  You think she would have noticed that the odds of him serving in the American Revolution in Connecticut while living in New Jersey was a stretch.  However, in this great world of folks just cutting, pasting and claiming on the internet, my ancestor is now torn in his roots.

I know who he was.  I have followed the evidence.  Now I have to prove it as best I can.

To try and accomplish this, I had to learn how to find all evidence from the Revolutionary War time that exists in New Jersey.  That in itself was enlightening.  After spending a few weeks digging through the web, I also sent off to New Jersey for other information which is not currently found online.  Ah, ha.  I am now thoroughly convinced I have my man.  His was the only family name living in that county at the time, and we have successfully been able to follow the lines from there with primary evidence or very sound secondary evidence.  All except for one generation, but that generation is not the one for which I am trying to prove at the moment.

There is a ton of secondary information to be found and now, I have to try and make sense of it all in writing for a genealogist to review.  I have the sources, the websites, the history book pages, the oaths of allegiance for his dad and uncle, payroll information from the state of NJ for the American Revolution, etc.  I just don't have the date of death, although I know where he was living when he died.  I don't have his final resting place, although one source would lead me to believe it could be in the same family location as his older brother who still has a headstone back in that one county where they were the only family name living there.  Why, oh why, didn't he have the wisdom to apply for a pension so I could find the definitive proof?

What I don't have are the words to put it all down in an understandable format.  What I don't have is a thorough understanding of how to write a genealogical proof standard.

Many of the elements found in the GPS are now in my possession.  I performed a reasonably exhaustive search, found the citations, resolved the conflict of evidence and arrived at a soundly reasoned conclusion.  I just can't seem to get it down on paper.  It is still swirling around in my head. 

Perhaps the first step is just what I have done now.  Put my frustrations down on paper- will that be enough to eliminate this wordless Wednesday?  Words.  I need words.

Ahh, genealogy.  How much indirect evidence can I use?  It's clear as mud.

©AS Eldredge 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tuesday's Tip: Public Tax Returns for Pittsburgh

It's just something you don't see everyday.  Local newspapers printing up the tax returns for your neighbors.  Just in case you've just broken out in a sweat, go on and wipe off your brow.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette published the 1864 Tax Returns for several of its districts.  While some of us may cry out in fear of the newspapers stance that the desire to review tax returns is universal in the neighborhood, we genealogy buffs jump in joy.

These 1864 returns are just another tool to use in our quest for documenting the location of our beloved ancestors, and, in some cases, documenting they were still alive.

So, go on and take a look.  Who knows what you may discover.  How much your family paid in taxes or how little their neighbors did.

These lists can be found on our Pittsburgh Old Newspaper Project:

Ahh, genealogy.  The tax man came and the newspaper let everyone know.  Wonder if that would go over well today?  Hmmmmmmmm......

©AS Eldredge 2013

The American Contract Lives

Our nation has had a contract which we support, defend and protect everyday.  It's something we Americans have done for the last 226 years.  Yep, today is the 226th anniversary of the signing of our Constitution. 

While I don't have any ancestors who signed the Constitution, I do have on both my maternal and paternal bloodlines patriots who have fought and died for America since the Revolution.  I was thinking of today being Constitution Day and it occurred to me that every generation of my family has served America since the founding of our great land.

What do you know about the Constitution?  Have you read it or studied since you were in high school or college?  I am still amazed that the 55 delegates from the newly formed 13 states were able to debate, argue, and compromise over that long, hot summer in Philadelphia so many years ago.  What they penned and what the 39 delegates who signed the Constitution did is so incredible.  We have the longest surviving Constitution and the shortest in the world.  Amazing. 

Since I can't claim any genealogy fame to any signer of the Constitution, I guess I'll just have to thank those men who did sign it.  Perhaps, I'll shout "Happy Constitution Day" to all I see today and then sit down and see what military records I can find on my beloved and brave soldiers and sailors in my bloodline.  Seems fitting.

Just in case you need a fun fact about the Constitution--  The original Constitution (without the 27 amendments added at later dates) had something like 4400 words.  Only one word is misspelled. Can you guess it?  The state it was penned in---  Pennsylvania.

Ahh, genealogy.  Gotta love it while we support, defend and protect our nation-  one generation at a time.

©AS Eldredge, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friend of Friends Friday: Pittsburgh Folks Just Keep Dying to Get In

The good people in the Allegheny County, PA, area keep dying and well, we keep finding them.

For over two years, our little band of volunteers has been digging in the old Pittsburgh area newspapers for death notices.  The volunteers come and go, but there are usually at least five of us working at any given time.

Our last update brought us to over 88,000 death entries.  We have over 3500 entries waiting in the hopper.  I suspect these names will be available for family history buffs by Easter weekend. 

Check us out.  In addition to our death index, we have:

over 24,000 marriages
Divorce notices
WWI Military Personnel with over 73000 names
World War I articles
The record of Company E from the Civil War
House of Refuge information
Morganza information
Poor House Census 1850-1910
Poor House articles
1931 Fire of Little Sisters Poor House
1890 Veterans Schedule/Poor homes
Allegheny Co Home Census 1860-1940

There are also wonderful snippets of interest that will lead you to outside links with history information and resources from the area.

Whatcha waiting for?
The index of names:

Ahhh, genealogy.  Such generous, kind friends--  any day of the week, not just Friday!

©2013 AS Eldredge

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tomstone Tuesday: Gotcha! Union Brick Cemetery Bricks Collapse

Don't you just hate it when you think you are on the right track in the race to find those elusive family members of old, and then the proverbial brick wall looms up high before you?  It seems like the research just comes crashing to a halt.

I think I've managed to climb over one brick wall with circumstantial evidence.

Thomas HUNNEWELL was the son of William HUNNEWELL (abt 1730-1813) and Alice COLLIER of Sussex Co, NJ.  He is mentioned in his brother, William HONEYWELL's, Revolutionary War Pension application.

In the pension application, William states he was born in Knowlton, Sussex, NJ, Dec 1,1759.  He was drafted 1778 into the Militia for three months.  The company was formed in Knowlton.  At the end of this service, he traveled towards "....home as far as the Moravian Settlement called Hope, in Sussex County, where he met his father who informed him that his older brother Thomas HONEYWELL, was drafted.....".

From this statement, we can infer Thomas was born before 1759.  Remember this.

Thomas is again mentioned in the will of his father, William.  The will was written in 1791, but not proved until 1813.  So, Thomas is alive in 1791.

William Jr and John, the brothers of Thomas, remove to Luzerne Co, PA before 1810.  There is no mention of Thomas here.  The only Thomas mentioned in Luzerne Co is the son of William of the pension file.

While looking around Sussex County flanked by my new buddy Jan, she told me she had transcribed some old cemeteries of Sussex and placed them online.  So away I went to search.

Bingo!  There resting peacefully in Union Brick Cemetery, which is located between Hope and Blairstown, Warren, NJ is T. HUNNEYWELL, d. May 27, 1800, aged 43.5.1.

So that makes this T. HUNNEYWELL born around Dec 1756.  The right age, the right place, the right name and the only HUNNEYWELL/HUNNEWELL/HONEYWELL family in the county makes me think I've found Uncle Thomas.

To further cement this thought, I will need to find the actual probate records of papa William which were filed in 1813 to see if they mention the demise of Thomas and whether he had any issue or not.

Ahh genealogy. Revving the old engines to race for the next lead!  Oh, did I mention that my new buddy Jan had two grandpas that flanked my grandpa when they appeared in 1777 to sign their Oaths of Allegiance?  Yep, tis found right there in the official records of old.  Pretty cool to think she is assisting me now some 230 years later.  Guess the family friends can survive that long!

©2013 AS Eldredge

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tis Madness Monday: Those Puzzling Hunnewells

Researching the past makes for great entertainment in life.  I so enjoy sharing the tidbits with my spouse on our nightly constitutional.  Of course, it is also a time for me to talk through the finds, the mysteries and the good old head scratchers.

Last week found me digging around in New Jersey in the mid to late 1700s.  With the kind assistance of a volunteer who is so much more knowledgeable about the area than I am, we found documentation for my John HUNNEWELL or HONEYWELL or HONEWELL or HUNIWELL family.  Some of the finds confirmed what I thought.  Other finds have me scratching my head as I try to solve the mystery.

Take, for instance, the mention of a John H STANSBURY in early Sussex/Warren Co, NJ.  We first stumbled across him in 1794 listed as the Ward. Son of Rebecca Hunneywell DOUD.  She asked for a guardian to be named for her son, John STANSBURY.

Hmmmm, Rebecca's first husband was John HUNNEWELL who died in May 1779.  In his will, there is no mention of any children.  Other than wife, Rebecca, he leaves some small legacy to some nieces and nephews.

After spending some time looking for this chap, a source related to STANSBURY says his mother's name was unknown.  Which leads us to the next question, could she have been a relative of Rebecca or of John?

To add to the confusion.....

The 1752 will of John HONEYWELL of Greenwich, Morris, NJ, gives the administration of the estate to son John HUNNYWELL (who marries Rebecca in the 1760s).

The deed books abstracted by Clyde W DOWNING add to the mystery. 

In 1803 a confusing deed abstract seems to tell us that STANSBURY, ROBERTSON (his court appointed guardian) and a couple more good folks in the neighborhood are all involved in selling land that was originally belonged to the John HUNIWELL who died in 1752.  The land was surveyed in 1753 for John HUNIWELL, the son, and was part of a tract in Knowlton, Sussex, NJ adjoining that of brother William HUNIWELL.  The land is sold by public auction in 1798 to HENDERSHOT and therefore John STANSBURY and his court appointed guardian.  The land is sold by executor of John HUNIWELL, the son who died in 1779, in 1804 to KERR, who sells it the next day to Rebecca.

I still can't quite follow it, although I do believe there is a strong reason for John H STANSBURY to keep being involved with the John HONEYWELL land.  So, far, I just can't put the one name in who could solve the mystery.

To make this more fun and frustrating at the same time is a comment in the Deed Abstract Book by Clyde W DOWNING who admits the deed is confusing and he thinks there is a connection between his SWAYZE line and the HUNIWELLs.

I spent some time trying to find the good Mr. Downing, but, alas, he seems to have disappeared over the last six years or so.  Is he still around?  If so, I can answer that mystery for him.  Yep, we have at least two marriages of our lady HONEYWELLs to the SWAYZE chaps in Sussex Co, NJ.

Ahhh, genealogy.  With one mystery, another one is solved.  Thanks to Jan for all her assistance as she tries to teach me about that area.  She's a gem.

©2013 AS Eldredge

Thursday, March 14, 2013

1788 Death of an American

Digging around in the state of New Jersey for American Revolution era documentation has been an adventure.  Occasionally, the same names pop up again and again. 

Yesterday, I found the July 1777 appearance of Daniel HENDRICKSON as he was called upon by the Council of Safety to testify on his beliefs and allegiance to the present government in New Jersey.  HENDRICKSON had refused to renounce his  "Protection from the Enemy" and pledge his allegiance to New Jersey.  He was released on good behavior as he prepared for his next appearance with the Council.

To be fair to the man in question, I did not follow up to see the outcome of his visits to the Council.  However, in researching this Council, I did learn the purpose of the Council was to protect the state from the enemy and provide the militia fighting material, whether it be supplies or money.  It has been suggested that expressing your views in a negative fashion could have you brought up in front of this group of 12 men who had the power to dismiss the charge, have the person taken to prison, or remove the person to the enemy in New York.

Today, I have stumbled across the gentleman again while researching Revolutionary and Post Revolutionary Documents, Calendar of New Jersey Wills, Vol VII, 1786-1790.  Once again, the names I was researching were not to be found.  HENDRICKSON was.  Here is his entry.

1788, July 31. Hendrickson, Daniel, of Middletown, Monmouth Co.
Int. Adm'x — Cathrine Hendrickson, widow of said Daniel, and Hen-
drick Hendrickson, son of said Daniel; both of said place. Wit- — Garrit Hendrickson and Thomas Hendrickson. 

Did he sign his Oath of Allegiance to New Jersey?  I don't know, but he certainly died an American in a free from British rule country.

Ahhh, genealogy.  The fun stuff I can find while stumbling around the neighborhood of old looking for that elusive evidence and enjoying thankful Thursday.

©2013 AS Eldredge