This is going to be one of those “grrrr” blogs where I don’t have the answers I want but I am going to write the essay anyway. I may never have all the information. But I am tired of waiting for the big genealogy balloon to drop.
I have this photograph of a man identified as John Herr. I have my father’s genealogy notes identifying him as the grandfather of Florence Lewis. Here is what I can piece together from other, incomplete resources:
Florence Lewis was the oldest child of Samuel Lewis and Sarah Herr. She married Moses Wells and that story I have got a pretty good handle on. Going back in time is the problem. Samuel Lewis appears with Sarah his wife from 1860 to 1885 in various state and federal censuses. As do their six children:
Florence Lewis (1859-1947) married Moses Wells
Pierce (Pierson) Lewis (1862-1926) married Clara Lamb
Josephine Lewis (1864-1936) married Harry Goodman
Ellsworth Lewis (1867-1890) married Keziah Platt
Colby Lewis (1869-1939) married Elsie Jackson
Clara Lewis (1875-1946) married William Marshall
I wonder: When did Samuel and Sarah get married? Was it a first marriage for both? Either? If Samuel is living next to John and Mary Herr (spelled Heers in the 1850 Census), why is his wife named Mary? Is this the Samuel Lewis and Mary McKelvey who got married in 1842? Did she die and he remarried? Or is this actually Samuel and Sarah (name written WAY wrong) and they just waited 17 years to have their first child? And where does the family lore about the Herr’s potato chip fortune come into it? Wishful thinking? Or mixed up identities as there is a John Herr married to a Mary Ann out in Westmoreland County, PA. I’m pretty sure that’s not the same person. But every family tree online seems sure that this is the case.
When I started this year of #52Ancestors I focused on the birthdays, hoping it would give me some way to focus on who to write about. I only had on person with my birthday in common and that was me! Now, after 9 months of research and writing, I find voila! that I have three relatives in common.
The first is a sad one: and infant son born on 7 August 1816 to Nicholas and Elizabeth Van Ripen Vreeland. He died in 1817, and I suspect that he was buried in the Vreeland plot at the old Bergen Burying ground in Jersey City but those burials were moved early in the 20th century and I do not know where he was moved to. In fact, this poor soul really only shows up in an old family history: The History and Genealogy of the Vreeland family.
The second shared birthday is with Leroy “Roy” Rue (1878-1941). He married one of Benjamin and Mary Elizabeth Carroll Jones‘ daughters, Rebecca Clevenger Jones. He was for 37 years an employee of the Pennsylvania Railroad and he was a member of the Jr. OUAM and the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen.
The third shared birthday is with Earl Goodman Jr. (1925-2008). I know very little about him. The Goodman surname joins my tree via the Lewis family. I am descended from the oldest daughter of Samuel and Sarah Herr Lewis (Florence). The second daughter Josephine married a Harry Goodman. Their son Earl is the father of my birthday mate, Earl Jr. He was a veteran of World War II having served in the Navy. I believe that he died in Vineland, NJ in 2008 but this line definitely needs more work.
My challenge this for this weeks’ #52Ancestors is Ellsworth Lewis, my great, great grandmother’s brother. The Lewis family is for me, one of those family lines that comes to you rife with stories and suppositions but very little fact. I have, in an earlier blog, written about Moses K. Wells who married Florence Lewis. Florence was one of six children and her younger siblings all have great names that should make it so easy to find them in records.
I had a birth date for Ellsworth but nothing else. According to the Census, he spent his entire life in Pemberton, Burlington County, New Jersey. Sadly, I discovered that his story abruptly ends in 1890. On 15 May 1890, he married Keziah Platt in the First Methodist Church at Mount Holly. And by 14 August 1890, he is dead. Someday on a trip to the New Jersey State Archives, I will look up his death certificate and find out what happened and where he is buried. That is for another day.
Interestingly enough, the part that really caught my attention was the difficulty most of my search engines and databases had with variant spellings of Ellsworth (Ellesworth, Elsworth). It is important to remember that not all databases work the way Ancestry does. If at first you don’t get any hits, try again. Many locally produced systems operate on a “what you type is what you get” system which can be frustrating for those used to Ancestry’s algorithms.
The prompt for this week’s #52ancestors was invite to dinner. Hmmm, I think I would invite Ellsworth and his new bride Keziah and gently grill them on all the local gossip!