St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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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

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Homeland Security 1777 Style

Wednesday morning has arrived after a restless sleep last night.  I am almost speechless as I try to understand the past.  Almost a wordless Wednesday, but not quite.

Imagine the scene, if you will, of the events following our beloved country's 1776 Declaration of Independence from the super power across the pond.  The early events in the blossoming war were not very successful for the Americans.  In fact, in the fall of 1776, the British officers Richard Howe and William Howe issued a proclamation from New York City offering a pardon for treasonable acts to anyone who would take an oath of allegiance to the King.

The new states then issued a mandatory oath of allegiance to the new and present government in the spring and early summer of 1777.  In looking at several states, it seems that all white men had to sign the oath of allegiance or be subject to imprisonment or forfeiture of their property or even being exspelled from the area of their residence.  All allegiance to George the Third, King of Great Britain, had to be renounced.  All those suspected of treason or conspiracies were to be made known to the government, as declared by Congress.

Until last night, it had not dawned on me that the oath was a forced oath of allegiance to the Americans.  Gee, I wonder how that went over.  Can you imagine the revolt today if we had to go to court and sign an oath of allegiance to a new government?  Yikes.


Last night's research sent me to the Minutes of the Council of Safety of the state of New Jersey 1777-1778. (Many thanks to the kind volunteer who found the book for me online.)  In reading many of the entries, I was stunned to see how people turned in their neighbors for being suspicious, or dangerous to the present government, or how Quakers were brought in to testify. 

Here is a portion of one man's plight which I thought interesting.  Was he one of the men who had accepted Howe's pardon?

Daniel Hendrickson, who was summoned to appear as a Person suspected of being disaffected and dangerous to the present Government, did accordingly attend, and on Examination acknowledged that he had recd a Protection from the Enemy, which he refused to give up when demanded by the Board....

He refused to take the Oath of Allegiance but was dismissed on account of his good behavior as he prepared for his next appearance before the next Court.  I didn't follow up on this gentleman, so I am unaware if he changed his mind or went to prison for supporting the Crown.

And another one which caught my eye.

The petition of Benjamin Morgan, now in confinement at Morristown, was read, setting forth, That he is desirous to take the Oaths of Abjuration & Allegiance agreeably to Law, and is willing to be circumscribed in his Boundaries & laid under such Penalties as the Board may think necessary; and praying that he may be permitted to return home.

The one I for whom I was searching was found to have appeared July 8, 1777, on a demand of the Council with the charge of being "suspected."  William Honeywell appeared and requested time to think about it.  The Council agreed.  Honeywell returned the next morning and signed the Oath of Allegiance to New Jersey and the United States.  That afternoon, his brother, John Honeywell also appeared and signed the oath.

What must these men have thought?  Their family had been in the colonies since the early 1600s and had never even been to England.  They were born under the Crown, but lived as Americans for generations.  Did they wonder if the Americans would, or could, win the battle against the Crown?  Did they really care?  Were their daily lives affected by all the troops around?  I don't know the answer, but I do know that two of William's children were contacted by the militia to serve.  One of the sons served in place of the other, so only one of his sons has a revolutionary war pension.  So, William did support the American cause.

Even though I have known of the Oaths of Allegiance for many years, it never dawned on me that it was a forced oath of allegiance.  If a man didn't sign it, he stood to lose everything.  Of course, if the British had won the war, he would have most likely lost everything. 

Ahhh, genealogy.  William's declaration of wanting to think about signing the oath reminds me of that immortal classic song by Meatloaf.  I've been humming, "Do you love me?  Will you love me forever?....Let me think on it, baby baby. Let me think on it.  I'll give you an answer in the morning."
And just like the song, grandpa William Honeywell said yes.

©2013 AS Eldredge

Friday, March 08, 2013

Friday Funny: Letter Sent From Irish Mother

Laughing is good for the soul.  Sometimes the letters sent in the past could have the desired effect of making the recipient sit and laugh for a few minutes.

I found this letter in my mother's papers.  There is no date but the handwriting of her sister is at the top of the page with the words "Just for a couple of laughs." Why she kept it I don't know.  I just know I am glad she did.  For even today, this find made me sit and laugh.


"To my Irish son from your Irish Mother"

Dear Son:

I'm writing this slow 'cause you can't read fast.  We don't live where we used to.  Your dad read in the pater where most accidents happen within 20 miles of home, so we moved.  I won't be able to send you the address, 'cause the last family that lived here took the number with 'em so they wouldn't have to change their address.

This place has a washing machine.  The first day I put in  4 shirts, pulled the chain, and haven't seen 'em since.  It only rained twice this week;  three days the first time and four days the second time.  About the coat you wanted me to send you?  Aunt Sue said that it would be too heavy with them buttons on it so we cut 'em off and put 'em in the pockets.

Your father has a lovely new job.  He has 500 people under him.  He cuts grass at the cemetery.  We also got a bill from the funeral home.  It said if we don't make the last payment on grandma's funeral, up she comes.  Your sister had a baby this morning.  I ain't found out if it's a boy or a girl so I don't know if you're an aunt or an uncle.

Your Uncle John fell into the whiskey vat while working at the distillery.  Some men tried to pull him out but he fought them off bravely, so he drowned.

Three of your old high school friends drove off the bridge in a pickup truck.  Jack, who was driving, rolled down the window and swam to safety.  Billy Bob and Bubba, who were riding in the back, drowned 'cause they couldn't get the tail gate down.

Not much more to say, nothing much has happened.


P.S.  I was going to send some money, but I had already sealed the envelope.

Ahh, genealogy.  Love to see the humor of the past.