Last January 2018 I decided to try an experiment: from the birthday list generated by my RootsMagic program, I would make a list of ancestors and blog about one person per week for 52 weeks. I knew that I would have trouble following the schedule and topics outlined in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. My job as well as various commitments would have derailed me if I had not been able to write the blogs ahead of time and schedule them to publish each week. But the weekly inspiration from those who were following Amy were really helpful and when I could I tagged my blog with her topic.
What I learned
It is really hard to write 52 fully researched, carefully prepared, fully documented and illustrated essays. But that’s not the point of the exercise, so please keep reading.
The birthday theme only goes so far. Some weeks I just gave up on finding the perfect match and just picked someone I thought interesting.
My writing got boring. I found myself writing every post in chronological order: born, married, died, buried.
I really resented having to stop researching and just start writing. I found myself saying “just one more source” way too often. When this happened I had to remind myself that this was not “the end.” I could always come back if I found more.
Some ancestors just aren’t that interesting. “Lives of quiet desperation” aside, quite a few of my female ancestors, especially, just left me very little to work with.
You really can write 300-700 words quite easily if you just start writing.
You can have really interesting conversations with family members around what you got right and wrong (in their opinion) and learn new tidbits of information as you go.
What I want to do in 2019
52 weeks of family photographs. I am going to try to post a picture of a family member, group or dwelling place, write a short post identifying what I know and what I don’t.
I am also going to try to go back to all the folks I passed by on my birthday list. This may not result in long essays but I really enjoyed giving a voice to these people, and I want to continue writing.
I like to find ancestors with my birth date. It doesn’t happen very often but this week in #52Ancestors I get to come pretty close with Lillie Jones Weest. I also got to follow leads presented when the person I was searching for disappeared from one census family and appeared in another.
Lillie Jones was born on 6 August 1867 to Benjamin and Mary Elizabeth Carrell Jones in Pemberton, New Jersey. She was baptized in 1868 at Grace Episcopal Church in Pemberton.
In 1870, she is living with the Jones family in Pemberton but in 1880 she is living with someone who gives me a clue about her mother’s family!!!!
She is listed with a Joseph and Anna P. “Scraggy” and she her relationship to them is niece. I don’t know how I missed this the first time around but thank you #52Ancestors! This time I followed the lead as the Jones family is not linked to the Scraggy family. It turns out it is the Scroggy family. And Joseph is a Civil War veteran married to Anna P. Carrel. Could this be Mary Elizabeth’s sister? Joseph Scroggy is also enumerated in the 1885 New Jersey census with Annie P. and Lillie Jones.
I am not sure why Lillie is not living with her birth family but I can’t argue with the records. She is also with them in 1895. Thank goodness for state census records! They really fill the gap caused by the absence of the 1890 Federal Census. And this one presents another clue to the Carrel family: Eliza Carrel (aged over 60) is living with the Scroggy family as well as Lillie! Mary Carrell Jones’ mother’s name was Eliza.
Now a little sleuthing work because Lillie Jones disappears. A few newspaper leads on other family members lead me to the discovery that she married a man named George B. Weest. This name really confounds many database searches which seem to have been programmed to ignore double vowels: I got a lot of unrelated West returns. Lillie Weest appears in the 1910 Census in Pemberton living with husband George B. and daughter Mary. They are living with George’s mother and sister. Mary is noted as born in New York but I view this with suspicion as the record also shows her father is born in New York when two lines up he is clearly born in New Jersey.
I did find George in the 1900 Census, living alone in the town of Hampton, NY. This is right across the Vermont border from Poultney where a newspaper search shows that George has acquired a business. A little more sleuthing unearths the news that 1910 marked the return of the family to New Jersey from Vermont. In focusing on that I found that Mary was born in 1901 in Vermont according to her death certificate (dated 1957 in Pennsylvania from a brain tumor).
The family settled in Pemberton where George opens a machine shop. George died in 1937 about a month after their 37th wedding anniversary. I have yet to find a marriage record but a newspaper story confirms this date. And the newspaper is one of the best sources of information on Lillie, other than the Census. Mary was apparently active in the Burlington County community, attending her friends weddings and holding parties. Lillie is often noted as attending as well. In the 1940 Census their household consists of Lillie, Mary and a boarder named William Sullivan and in 1941 he married Mary.
Lillie Jones Weest died 2 January 1946 and is buried in Mount Holly Cemetery in Pemberton.
I was able to fill in many blanks as I worked on this entry for #52Ancestors but I still have questions, which is probably why this exercise is so important. I will continue to search for Lillie but one of my New Jersey relatives probably has several clues that will help fill in the blanks and now with this blog, they know what I want to know:
why did Lillie go to live with her aunt and uncle? Too many Jones mouths to feed? Or was Anna frail and in need of help?
did the marriage of George and Lillie occur in NY or Vermont?
is there a better death notice than the tiny one that appears in the Philadelphia Inquirer?
This week in #52ancestors I once again come up against that age old genealogical principal of looking for one record and finding not that record but another that solves a different mystery.
I can track back to George Mortimer Prince (born Bradford Co. PA 1837, died Federalsburg, Md. 1909) with great assurance but the leap to George Washington Prince (1808-1888) is more difficult and further back is going to require feet on the ground in Massachusetts doing hard research. If I am correct in my conclusion that George Washington Prince is the father of George Mortimer, then Chandler Prince is an uncle. Confused much?
Jonathan (1769-1831) and Patty Vinton (1770-1831) Prince had nine children, all born in Massachusetts, the first five in Oxford and the last four possibly in Sturbridge. The fourth child in birth order is Chandler Prince, born 14 June 1797 in Oxford, MA, and the eighth is my ancestor, George Washington Prince, born 17 July 1808 in Sturbridge.
Chester Prince (1792-1867)
Lydia Prince (1793- )
John Prince (1795- )
Chandler Prince (1797-1852)
Dolly Prince (1799-1866)
Sanford Prince (1803-1872)
Merrick Brainard Prince (1805-1862)
George Washington Prince (1808-1888)
Julia Prince (1809- )
I find Chandler as the head of household with a family in the Census in 1830 in Orwell, Pennsylvania as well as in 1840 and 1850. From this I draw the conclusion that Chandler married Sally [possibly Lovette] prior to 1825, but I have not been able to find a marriage record yet.
Chandler and family appear to have been involved in the Presbyterian Church, as on 14 January 1845, Chandler Prince puts up $5.00 toward the building of a Presbyterian church in Rome, Pennsylvania.
The next time I find mention of Chandler is in the burial inscriptions from the Orwell Valley Cemetery, Bradford County, Pennsylvania: Chandler H. Prince, died 9 Feb 1852, aged 55 years.
No will or estate is listed in the index to Registers for Chandler Prince but I did discover that the Index to Register’s Docket is up online through FamilySearch. And there, nestled between Chester and Ermina Prince is none other than George W. Prince’s will. Now I am off to write the Bradford Clerk of Courts for a copy of that will, which appears to have been executed by none other that George M. Prince.
Mary Sleght Brown is a recent discovery and an excellent reminder to return to people every few years for whom you have had no success. For some time I knew that Abraham V.W. Tompkins had married a Caroline Brown, but I could find no firm information about where she came from. Then one day I returned to Abraham, thinking surely by now, someone has put up some record on this family.
I searched Ancestry.com and beautiful digital images of the Brown family bible and the John Sleght family record appeared. There were also two primers, one of which contained a lock of Mary’s hair. What a legacy! And there was Caroline, daughter of John Dusenbury (1788-1875) and Mary Sleght (1785-1856) Brown.
According to the bible, Mary Sleght was born on 4 June 1785 and married John D. Brown in 1812. Oddly, the bible gives detailed dates for all but this event. The couple then had six children: John S. (1813-1893), Caroline (1818-1878), Martha Jane (1819-1911), Eliza (1821-1875), and a set of twins Ann and Rachel born in 1825.
This information gave me enough ammunition, so to speak, to go looking for church and burial records. I found death and burial information in the church records of the Pleasant Valley Freedom Plains Presbyterian Church.
Unfortunately the church records do not start until 1827, so still no marriage date. The bible record and the church record agreed on the date for Mary’s death on 19 September 1856. And I was then able to find an image of the grave marker.
These two family bible records have probably been out there for some time but I did not have the clues necessary to connect all the dots. It really pays to loop back to ancestors that are not completely fleshed out. New information and digital documents are being added to archives daily. This #52Ancestors challenge has been really helpful in reminding me of this!
Mary Craw Frost was born on 13 May 1808 to Aaron (1778-1855) and Polly Craw (1782-1860) Frost. She was born in Wilbraham, a tiny burg in what is now Hampden County, Massachusetts. Mary was one of twelve children, a fact that appears in conflicting documentation about their names and birth order. Somewhere there is a bible…
I also have conflicting information about how she and her parents end up in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Some records state that she married her husband Henry Hine while in New York, which would make it Greene County. Cairo, NY is almost directly west from Wilbraham, so it is possible that on their way west they stopped off, or perhaps that was their destination, but when Hine moved on to Orwell, her parents went along as well.
I have quite a few sources that agree on 29 September 1830 for the date of marriage. However, the place is a problem. I have one source that says Orwell and one that says New York. Henry Hine is listed in the 1830 Census in Greene County New York. As is his father in law, Aaron Frost. I have found a transcription of a church membership record in Greene County which shows Henry W. and Mary Hine moving from Cairo to Durham and being received by the First Presbyterian Church on 16 April 1835. I am going to go with New York rather than Pennsylvania. In 1840, I find both Aaron Frost and Henry Hine in Bradford County, which is a good thing, as that is where Henry’s children are being birthed.
Henry and Mary Hine had six children, the first two born in New York, and the last four born in Pennsylvania: my ancestor James Edwin Hine, was the first born in Orwell, Pennsylvania in 1837. A complete list of their children includes: Ellen Augusta (1831-1903), John Henry (1834-1891), James Edwin (1837-1915), Erasmus Percival (1840-1862), Harlow A. (1842-1882), and Sabrina Arzilla (1845-1914) Hine.
Sadly, beyond the bearing of children, I have very little information about Mary C. Hine. I know that she was a member of the Presbyterian Church in New York but switched to the United Methodist Church in the mid 1870’s possibly because her daughter Sabrina Hine Hines did as well. Mary C. Hine lived with Sabrina and Joseph Hines after the death of her husband Henry W. Hine in 1868. Mary Craw Frost HIne died on 10 August 1889.
This essay was originally published on 1 May 2018. It contained erroneous information and so I have updated and corrected it as of 2 June 2018.
I recently received the pension packet from the National Archives for Benjamin Jones and his widow, Mary E. Jones. It added a great deal of information to what I now know about this couple. It also presented the problem of how to update this essay. Rather than start from scratch I am going to try to incorporate the new information into the original.
This week in #52ancestors I am going to write about a woman who fascinates me. She is not someone famous, or who had a public talent that everyone talked about. She was a wife, mother, daughter, neighbor. Just an ordinary woman, and yet she intrigues me. Possibly it is because of a family story about her, which I cannot prove or disprove. Possibly it is because her children loved her so.
Mary Elizabeth Carroll (records also use the spelling Carrol, Currel, Curl, Carrel) was born on 1 May 1840 or 1841 in Juliustown, Burlington County, New Jersey. Her parents were William Carrel and Eliza F. Cox. William Carroll of Juliustown is proving to be elusive but I have now discovered that although the family does not seem to hit the Census very often, Mary E. appears to have been the middle daughter of three: Anna P. (1839-1902), Mary E. and Martha (1843-1905).
Mary Elizabeth Carroll married Clayton Taylor (son of Samuel G. and Mary Ann Taylor), on 14 March 1861 at Columbus in Springfield township, NJ. Clayton appears to have been born around 1833 in Recklestown, NJ. Sadly, Clayton died later that year on 13 October when his dog bumped his hunting rifle.
Mary E. Taylor then marries Benjamin Jones, recently returned Civil War veteran, on 20 October 1863. They were married by a Justice of the Peace. This is the crux of a family mystery. The story is that Benjamin Jones compromised a young lady in the employ of the family, a maid or laundress. Having gotten her pregnant, he was forced to marry her and his father, Richard Jones, disowned him. It’s a great story but the supporting factual details elude me. Having now found a marriage date, it does highlight that their first child was born 7 months later. Benjamin returned from the war a broken man. His pension application is filled with details of his inability to work at any manual labor for any length of time. Mary E. seems to have helped support the family by “working out” which means she did cleaning and housework for pay. It is possible that this is how she met Benjamin.
And yet, apparently regardless of his ability to do prolonged manual labor, Benjamin and Mary proceed to have 11 children:
Susan Gibbs Jones (1864-1895)
William Carroll Jones (1865-1937)
Lillie Jones (1867-1946)
Elwood Andrew Jones (1869-1940)
Alice W. Jones (1871-1937)
Elizabeth Watts Jones (1873-1900)
Arthur Wells Jones (1875-1936)
Horace Jones (1878-1884)
Mary “Stella May” Jones (1881-1946)
Rebecca Clevenger Jones (1883-1963)
Martha Evans “Mattie” Jones (1885-1891)
The couple lived in Pemberton apparently in a house held in trust for Benjamin and Mary (I need to find more information on this as it is outlined in the pension documents) to be used during their lives. After Benjamin died in 1896, Mary lived at Egbert Street through the 1910 Census. In 1915, Mary is living with her daughter Alice and son-in-law Charles Wills. After that, according to the 1920 Census, Mary moved in with daughter Lillie (married to George Weest). For most of this time she is surviving on her widow’s pension and what “work out” she can get.
Mary Jones died on 29 May 1922 in Vincentown and is buried in the Methodist Cemetery in Pemberton. Her passing received far more attention than Benjamin’s and several months after her death her children post a memorial to her in the newspaper:
Mount Holly Herald, 7 October 1922
In Memoriam: In loving memory of our dear mother, Mary Elizabeth Jones. Four months have passed since that sad day, when one we loved was called away, God took her home, it was his will, but in our hearts she is living still. Sadly missed by sons and daughters.
I am still in search of many pieces of this story but the goal of #52ancestors is to get what you know down in print, so here it is. I would love to find out more about Frank Earl, who is the trustee of the house where Benjamin and Mary live. How did this come about? And now that I know a bit more about Mary Carroll’s parents I can try to put together that part of the story.
Where there’s a will there’s a way, right? Well, this week’s #52Ancestors really was a slog through wills, the absence of wills, probate, estate records, land sales, etc. But first, let’s start with the gentleman who inspired this blog: Cornelius Delos Vreeland.
Cornelius D. Vreeland was born in Paterson, New Jersey on 4 March 1813. At this time, Paterson was in Essex County but it eventually became Passaic County. Young Cornelius was duly baptized at the First Reformed Church in Totowa, a small community just outside of Paterson. On 29 September 1836 he married Rachel Beach and they settled on a farm in Wayne township. They six children: Josiah Pierson (1841-1895), Maria Mottear (1842-1844), Elizabeth Derrom (1846-1924), Adelia (1850-1893), Cornelius (1852-1854) and Jonathan Beach (1855-1911).
Cornelius D. dies at the Vreeland Homestead in Wayne on 6 July 1890, and is buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Caldwell. This is all quite straightforward. However, apparently Cornelius did not leave a will and this is where the search gets interesting. By 1870, the homestead is valued at $20,000 and the personal property at $7,000. Tax records will tell us more but all of this leads me to wonder, why no will? Josiah and Adelia are still in the area, Elizabeth has married and is out in California setting up a vegetable farm and Beach, as he was called, is in Charlotte, North Carolina due to his wife’s poor health.
Interestingly, Beach is left to file the articles of administration, which speak to the need for the estate to be inventoried. Although Passaic County has an online index, the case files themselves have not been put online, so a request for a paper copy has been made.
Happy Birthday, Cornelius Delos Vreeland! You helped me delve into some records I propably would have avoided, left to my own devices. And thank you, @amyjohnsoncrow for challenging me to dig a little deeper.