Sometimes, It’s the Answers You Don’t Find

Photo by Matt Walsh on Unsplash

Sometimes it is the answers you do not find. A couple of months ago, I received an email from a man in the UK looking for an old friend who he heard had passed away here in America. At first, I didn’t answer thinking it was one of those scams, “You’ve inherited $5000 lbs from Uncle Larry.” In addition, I research family history, not long lost friends. However, he wrote again and his story piqued my interest.

His friend was a psychiatric nurse in the UK and used to travel to America through his work. This friend also changed his surname, maybe by deed poll, from his birth surname to his adopted surname. Tragically he died while in America, his friend heard, by being hit by a train or hit by train shrapnel.

“TH” (alias for the person who contacted me) thought the incident was bizarre and had contacted his friend’s brother, but the brother wouldn’t discuss anything with him, further adding to the mystery. The brother traveled from England to America to take care of the details when he died, but “TH” doesn’t believe the body was brought back to the UK. With only an approximate birth year to go on, I looked through all my resources, newspapers.com, etc., and found no mention of this friend or incident. Without knowing where his friend died, it was fruitless. “TH” continued his research from his end and wrote me again a few weeks later.

“TH” had found out that his friend had died in New Jersey. Thanks to “Reclaim the Records“, he was able to find the death index. That in turn gave him the exact birth and death of his friend. With that information, I found his friend’s birth parents and confirmed that the record pertained to the right person. “TH” was close to the information he provided but forgot that our date formats are different than theirs.

I still could not find a newspaper article on the incident. Curious about the name change, I wrote the National Archives of the United Kingdom to search their deed polls. A “Remote Enquiries Duty Officer” emailed me right back and explained that he could not find a deed poll entry for a name change for “TH’s” friend. The gentleman also explained that “Changes of name by deed poll are only recorded officially if a fee is paid to have the deed enrolled in court – not many people do this and so there is often no official record other than the original deed poll issued to the person themselves.”

With further research, I found he was issued his social security number in Arkansas in 1988, but could find no further records. Next, I wrote the New Jersey State Library and the researcher was very kind. She had access to the Morristown Daily Record from 1995. She tried several different searches to see if she could find an obituary or article about either the train accident or an obituary for him but did not come across anything. Doing a general search for “train accident”, “hit by a train”, or “train” for June 6, 1995, and broadly for June 1995 did not have any results. She also did a general search in NJ Newspapers via NewsBank as well and did not find anything either.

I then heard back from the New Jersey History and Genealogy Center. They too searched different newspapers from 1995 and could find nothing on the friend or any mention of a train accident or similar. Could it be that this isn’t how he died? Unfortunately, because “TH” is not a relative, he cannot obtain a copy of the death certificate.

I built a family tree in my Ancestry account and found their biological parents, but no hits so far.

Now I have two questions, 1) Did he really die by train? 2) Why won’t his brother share the specifics with “TH”?

The hunt continues…

This was out of my realm, but very interesting for me as I love mysteries and researching. Investigative Genetic Genealogy is the popular way to solve crimes now due to DNA and it is very intriguing. However, not only can it be used to solve crimes but, I believe it can solve family history mysteries and help adopted parents or children, etc.

But for able to get into this part of genealogy, I need more practice in the genetic part and Reverse Genealogy. I hope to broaden my research skills and do just that!

Wish me luck!

An Actress Connection- Jamestowne, really? (Wescott Family)

Updated 7/31/2022– I recently watched an episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” in which actress Allison Janney is tracing her family. In the episode they trace her ancestor, Stephen Hopkins who was caught in a hurricane on the Sea Venture and ended up stranded in Bermuda. The ship’s name kept nagging at me. I kept telling my mom, “I know this story or something regarding the Sea Venture.” Well, below is the story of my ancestry and the Sea Venture!

“Historic Voyage, Sea Venture and Consorts at Sea 1609,” a 1984 oil painting by Deryck Foster

The Sea Venture, also known as the Third Supply, was the flag ship for a flotilla of six hundred men (and women and livestock) on six ships and two pinnaces. On the 23rd of July, a hurricane separated the Sea Venture, with it’s captain, Christopher Newport from the other ships. The ship started taking on water after four days, and thankfully was able to make it to land on an island; the Bermuda’s. All of the passengers, about 140 men and women, landed safely, although the ship was wrecked between two reefs. Allison Janney’s ancestor was one of those men.

Ruby Chapman Wescott’s line took me back to Jamestowne.  (The original colonial spelling for Jamestowne included the “e.” That spelling is used here when referring to historic Jamestowne).

To revisit the history of Jamestowne, I’ll just give this paragraph:

“In June of 1606, King James I granted a charter to a group of London entrepreneurs, the Virginia Company, to establish an English settlement in the Chesapeake region of North America. In December of that year, 104 settlers sailed from London with Company instructions to build a secure settlement, find gold, and seek a water route to the Pacific. The traditional telling of early Jamestown history portrayed those pioneers as ill-suited for the task. But 20 years of archaeological research at the site of James Fort suggests that Captain Bartholomew Gosnold and many of the artisans, craftsmen, and laborers who accompanied the gentlemen leaders made every effort to build a successful colony. On May 14, 1607, the Virginia Company settlers landed on Jamestown Island to establish an English colony 60 miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.” —-  You can read this and more at https://historicjamestowne.org/history/history-of-jamestown/

This leads us to Alice, last name unknown.  Alice is my 11th great-grandmother.  Alice’s first husband was Thomas Pierce.  Both were born in England around 1585.  They had a daughter named Elizabeth.  I need to tell you a little of Thomas’ history in order to understand Alice’s.

Thomas Pierce was the Sergeant at Arms of the first legislative assembly of Virginia which met on July 30, 1619. The First House of Burgesses by Kate Langley Bosher

Thomas arrived on the “Margaret” which sailed for Virginia.

Source https://www.immigrantships.net/v3/1600v3/margaret16191204.html

Update: 4/27/19-  Through my wonderful Isle of Wight Facebook Group, someone was able to provide me with page 545  from the book Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers: A Biographical Dictionary, 1607-1635 by Martha W. McCartney.  In it, it states that Thomas was indeed on the “Margaret” on 15 Sep 1619 which set sail for Bristol and

Capture

It is assumed that he traveled with his wife Alice and daughter Elizabeth.  Thomas appears to have been a relative of Lt. William Pierce, of the “Sea Venture” (1609), who served under George Yeardley, Captain of the Governor’s Company of soldiers.  His daughter, Jane Pierce, was the third wife of John Rolfe (who was also on the “Sea Venture”), you know, the guy who married Pocahontas.

Image result for Jamestown 1618

Thomas Pierce established the plantation south of Martin’s Hundred along the upper side of the James River. On March 22, 1622, the Indians attacked throughout the colony, then known as the English Colony of Virginia.  In history, it is now known as the Indian Massacre of 1622.  The colony’s tobacco economy led to constant expansion and seizure of Powhatan lands, which ultimately provoked a violent reaction according to Wood, Origins of American Slavery (1997), p. 72.

Thomas Pierce , his wife, child, two other men and a French boy were officially reported as killed at this plantation.

                          THE LIST OF THOSE MASSACRED – March 22, 1622
The following is transcribed from “Colonial Records of Virginia”, R.F. Walker, Superintendent Public Printing, Richmond, VA, 1874, Clemmitt & Jones, Printers, pp 38 – 68.  Click here to download the document.
 

At Mr. Thomas Pierce his House over against Mulberry Island.
​Master Tho: Pierce,
     his Wife,
     his Childe,
John Hopkins, (could he be related to Ms. Janney’s Stephen?)
John Samon,
A French Boy.

Named by the first colonists for its dense population of wild mulberry trees, Mulberry Island shows up in some of the earliest maps of Virginia as well as the writings of Capt. John Smith.

Image result for Martin's HundredIt is not known exactly how, but Alice and her daughter apparently survived the attack and it is thought they were two of the twenty captives that were ransomed from the Indians. The only other of these twenty who have been identified are Mrs. Boyce and Jane Dickenson, both widows of men slain at Martin’s Hundred. These captives were held for about ten months.

The following is a paragraph wildly spread on the internet, but has been proven false by many history sites such as Chauco (Chanco) Virginia Indian.   

Related image

In fact, it is more realistic to believe what is written on Historynet’s website:

These female colonists, perhaps 20 in all, were virtually the only captives taken by the Powhatans in the uprising. Few details of their ordeal have survived, and information about their lives is almost nonexistent. In fact, we may never know if they shared the fascinating, if often horrifying, adventures of more well-known Indian captives in American history. It is certain, however, that these women witnessed the violent deaths of neighbors and loved ones before being abducted; that they lived with their enemies while the English ruthlessly attacked Indian villages in retaliation; and that they received no heroes’ welcome upon their return to the colony.

Chanco
Sothside Virginia Families, Vol. I by John Bennett Boddie

No matter how she survived, she did because by October 10, 1624 Alice had married Thomas Bennett, my 11th great-grandfather. Alice Bennett was a witness before the General Court at the trial of John Proctor for cruelty to his servants. She was sworn and examined as to the beating of Elizabeth Abbott, serving maid of Mr Proctors, and stated that she found her by the waterside by Mr Burrow’s plantation lying behind a boat wrapped in a rug. Whereupon this examinat, with Her Husband and Richard Richards carryed her and delivered her to her master. Anthony Barham swore that he saw Mr Proctor strike Elias Hinton one of his servants. (VA Mag., 19, p. 389) (Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight Co, VA, by John Bennett Boddie p. 289)

At General Court in October 1624, Elizabeth Pierce chose her father in law (step father), Thomas Bennett, as her guardian. (VA Mag 20, p. 155). She was unmarried then because John Filmer to who she was engaged had just died and left all his property to her. This was the reason for her choosing a guardian. It is probable that this Elizabeth Pierce afterwards married Anthony Barham. (Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight Co, VA, by John Bennett Boddie p. 290)

Alice is again shown in the following records.  The name Jackson is from Elizabeth marrying Richard Jackson.

1642: June 10, 1642, George Hardy received a grant of 300 acres on the easternmost side of Lawne’s Creek adjacent to Alice Bennett (Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight Co, VA, by John Bennett Boddie p. 293)

1642: 19 Jun 1642, John Stocker patented 200 acres adjoining Mr Hardy’s land and the widow Bennett. (Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight Co, VA, by John Bennett Boddie p. 293)

1647: 19 Jul 1647…Alice Bennett to Mary Jackson and Sarah Jackson, the daughters of Richard Jackson…150 acres of land. Alice(X)Bennett 

1647: DB A P 4, 19 Jul 1647 Alice Bennett to Mary Jackson & Sarah Jackson, the dtrs of Richard Jackson, 150 Acres land. (to be possessed immediately after my death) , the land & housing on the S/S of the swamp to Mary; the land on the other side to Sarah. Sig: Alice (X) Bennett Wts: Edwd. X Garrett, James Piland. (Isle of Wight Co. VA, Deeds 1647-1719, Court Orders 1693-1695 and Guardian Accounts 1740-1767 abstracts by William Lindsay Hopkins)

From the Jamestowne Society’s website are names of “Qualifying Ancestors”.

Jamestowne Bennett's

The Richard Bennett above is not our Richard.  Thomas Bennett is ours and he is the father of our Richard Bennett (not listed) who is the son of Alice and Thomas and half-brother to Elizabeth.

Jamestowne Pierce

The internet and genealogical websites are full of misinformation as far as the Richard Bennett’s are concerned.  Our 10th great-grandfather is the Richard Bennett, Sr. of Isle of Wight, VA.  The other Richard Bennett is of Nanesmond County, VA, the Governor of Virginia from 1652-55.  The confusion lies in that both of them have father’s named Thomas who came from England.  The governor is about thirteen years older than our Richard and they are both connected to Jamestowne.

Thomas Bennett was also a member of the House of Burgesses as he represented Mulberry Island in 1632.  Burgess Journals 1619-59, pg. xiii.

Burgesses of Virginia 1632

Records were destroyed in the Civil War so nothing more is known about Thomas except what was found in the will of Anthony Barham, who was one of Elizabeth’s husbands. Because of this will, we can trace his descendants.  Anthony Barham's Will

You can read more about their neighbors and relatives and how they all connect in the Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County, Virginia: A History of the County … By John Bennett Boddie

Richard Bennett, Jr., my 9th great-grandfather, was born June 1, 1644, in Isle of Wight, Virginia.  He married Ann, last name unknown, and they had five children.  Again, you can read about all five in the above link.

He made his will on March 3, 1720:

Will of Richard Bennett Jr.

Isle Of Wight County, Virginia

March ye 3rd Day 1720 In the Name of God Amen. Rich’d Bennett in ye upper parish of Isle of Wight County in Virginia being sick & weak in body yet in perfect memory thanks be to God for it Do therefore do make this my Last Will & Testament as followith-first I Commit my soul to God our Heavenly Father trusting to be saved by Jesus Christ our only Saviour and my body on Earth to be Decently Buried & as for my worldly Goods I bestow as followith

I Give and bequeath unto my son Richd Bennett to him & his heirs lawfully begotten of his body two hundred acres of Land & over it being Land where on my Son Richard now lives

I give & bequeath unto my son James with ye other two hundred acres of Land where on he now lives. I lay to him & to his heirs lawfully begotton of his Body forever it is a Coveyance of four hundred acres of Land I bought of Mr John Coffers pattin of Land being fourteen hundred & fifty acres

1 Give & bequeath unto Jane Coffer & her two sons Rob Coffer & John Coffer to them & their heirs Lawfully of their body for ever my plantation and land whereon I now live I lay to them & to their heirs for ever it being part of Land Which was bought formerly of Mr Wm Miles

I Give and bequeath unto Jane Coffer a small trunk & a Gold Ring and a Great Iron pot

I Give & bequeath to Rich Coffer my Long Gun

I Give & bequeath to Magdalen Coffer one Great pewter Dish and one Great Basin

I Give and bequeath to Francis Manggum my Gran Daughter a feather Bed & all ye belongs to it 2

I Give and bequeath unto my Daughter Silvester a Couple of Dishes & a Couple of plates

furthermore I do appoint Jane Coffer & Wm Allen to be my full and whole Exct to pay my Debts & to Receive what is owing to me & when these my Debts being paid ye rest of my Goods within Doores and outDoores to be Equally Divided amongst my Children

Desiring this my trusty friends Jno & James Carter to See this my Last Will & testament fulfilled In Witness here of I sett my hand & Seal Rich’d R Bennett (Seal)

Richard Bennett Jr.'s will

Richard Jr.’s daughter, Ann Bennett, married John Coffer circa 1699, my 8th great grandparents.  You can continue this line by reading my previous blog post, The Cofer/Copher Families- Part 2.

Related image

Inside the fort at Jamestown, in the cellar seen just below the back wall of a stone foundation, archaeologists found a pendant that dates to the Virginia colony’s earliest years. A seventeenth-century church tower and the 1907 tercentenary obelisk are also seen. ~website at history.org

As always, if you see anything amiss, let me know.  Until next time…

For more information, click on the items below.

If you need research assistance, do not hesitate to contact me.

Your Family Tree Research Specialist

Research Specialist

Galbraiths of Donegal

(Variations of spelling: Calbreath, Colbath, Colbreath, Galberth, Galbreath, Galbreth, Gilbraith, Gilbreath, Gilbreth, Gilreath, Kilbreath, Kilbreth, Kulbeth)

According to the Pennsylvania Genealogies: Chiefly Scots-Irish and German by William Henry Egle, MD, MA, the Galbraiths were from a remote part of Stirling, Scotland in the “Parish of Baldunoch.”

“A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 1” states that In Frazer’s statistical account of the inhabitants of the Isle of Gigha, the following occurs: “The majority of them are of the names of Galbraith and McNeill, the former reckoned the more ancient. The Galbraiths in the Gaelic language are called Breatannich, that is Britons, or the children of Briton, and were once reckoned a great name in Scotland according to the following lines translated from the Gaelic:

“Galbraiths from the Red Tower, Noblest of Scottish surnames.”

Culcreuch Castle

My Galbraith line starts with Martha, my 3rd great-grandmother, born about 1800. And, according to the Pennsylvania Vital Records, Vol. II and Lineage Book : NSDAR : Volume 164 : 1921, married John Stitt on 23 October 1817. According to the same DAR Lineage Book, her father was John Galbraith and her mother was Anne, last name unknown. They married about 1786.

John’s parents were James and Martha McClelland, as the lineage shows. The lineage book also states, “James Galbraith was county lieutenant with the rank of colonel, 1777, and also served as private in the Pennsylvania troops under Colonels Miles, Bull, and Butler. He was born in Cumberland County; died, 1802, in Pennsylvania.”

I have not been able to find anything more about John, but his father was James, born about 1743 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, according to the DAR lineage and the Sons of the American Revolution. He married Martha McCelland about the year 1760. He was a captain in William Peebles company in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania March, 1776.

In the Pennsylvania Genealogies: Chiefly Scotch-Irish and German by William Henry Egle, 1886, it states, James Galbraith ,5 (John ,4 Andrew ,3 James ,2 John ,1) born about 1741 ; died prior to 1790 ; was county lieutenant of Cumberland county in 1777 ; a soldier of the Pennsylvania Line in the Revolution; in 1783 , resided in “Washington borough , near Carlisle ;” married Martha McClellan , daughter of John McClellan ,* of Donegal .

Revolutionary War Battalions & Militia Index Cards. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

James’ father was John born about 1717. (notice the names alternating and staying in the family).

John married Jennet McCullough about 1742. Not much is known about this John either.

His father was Andrew born about 1692 and married to Mary Kyle.

Appletons’ Cyclopedia of American Biography; Volume: Vol. II

Andrew Galbraith,3 (James,2 John,1) was born about 1692 in the North of Ireland; came to America with his father, and settled along the run which has its source at Donegal meeting house, now Lancaster County, Pa., in the year 1718. Upon the organization of the county of Lancaster, he was appointed the first coroner, afterwards, in 1730, one of the justices of the Court of Common Pleas and Quarter Sessions, a position he held six years. In 1732, he and his neighbor, John Wright, were candidates for the General Assembly. At that time, none but freeholders were allowed to vote, and the only polling place was the town of Lancaster, where all voters were obliged to go. Mr. Galbraith took no active part in the canvass himself, but his wife mounted her favorite mare, Nelly, and rode out through the Scotch-Irish settlement, and persuaded them to go with her to the county town. She appeared at the court-house leading a procession of mounted men, whom she halted and addressed. The effect was that her husband was triumphantly elected. After his first election, he seems to have had no opposition. He took out a patent for two hundred and twelve and one half acres, May 2, 1737; and was one of the first ruling elders of the old Donegal church; appointed a justice of the peace in 1730, a position he held until 1747, when he removed west of the Susquehanna; he served several years in the Provincial Assembly, and was one of the most prominent of the pioneer settlers–a safe and trustworthy officer. After the year 1746, when he disposed of his farm, very little is recorded concerning him. (Pennsylvania Genealogies: Chiefly Scotch-Irish and German. William Henry Egle, 1886.)

Andrew’s father, James, is thought to have been born in Donegal, Ireland about 1666 and emigrated about 1718. He was one of the founders of the Old Derry Church. He was said to be a “man of prominence.” James married Rebecca Chambers about 1689.

Ca. 1880s lithograph: Old Derry Church – – Built A. D. 1720 – –
Repaired A. D. 1760 (Palmyra, PA, Dauphin County)

He died 23 Aug 1744 at age 78.

James’ father was John, wife unknown. He was born about 1646, born in Baldunoch, Stirling County, Scotland. It is thought that he died before the emigration of his sons, James and John.

From William Gilbreath of the Clan Galbraith Facebook group:

We do not know if James of 1666 was born in Ireland but he came from there in 1718. We don’t know that his father was John and we have failed to link James back to the first Galbraith family of Ireland, who arrived there abut 1613. Our last Chief from Culcreuch fled to Ireland in about 1625 and left living sons in Scotland who might have lines to the present. We are pretty sure that Group 1 links back to the 1400s at Culcreuch–but we do not know if the Chiefs maintained the DNA into the future (or past to Bretnach of 1150).

From Dana Love same group:
We know the two groups have the same YDNA Haplogroup and most of the same markers which leads us to believe they were related at some point, but they are several generations apart. We haven’t found any source documents to tie them together.

DNA has become an important tool in genealogical research, and as more people take the test, the number of matches increases, making it even more useful. Hopefully this will be true for these family lines.

Checking In

Photo by SzaboViktor on Unsplah

Hello Followers. I wanted to check in with you since I have not written a blog in quite some time. The last real blog was March 19, so almost a month now. Like you, my family has been self-isolating. Not only from the virus but the crazier people who do not think it is a serious threat.


My son and I are both essential works so we have been working except for my Easter vacation. I am working four hours in the office and four hours at home. My son works all day in the warehouse. Neither of our companies allows outside visitors. We are both very careful as my mother, who is in her late 70s, lives with us.


Since I am working from home I have not had a lot of the extra family history time I see a lot of people talking about. But, I have tried to take advantage of the free sites and free records that have become available. It’s funny, some of the records I have run across have names that I could have used a couple of years ago. But, now I at least know I am on the right track.

I did have success with my 80 year old uncle’s tree. Back on Thanksgiving he was telling me about his brick wall with his grandparents on his mother’s side. Her father seems to have disappeared after deserting her and her brothers. The name he always went by with this family seems to actually be a nickname. In tracing the date of birth and his birthplace, we tracked down what we think is his real name.

With the help of the West Virginia Archives and History Library, we followed these coincidences and found all kinds of information on his family. But, until we find a document where he uses his nickname along with his real name, we cannot be 100% sure it is him. Or, until we can find some DNA matches. Once we entered his real name into our database, a whole slew of information and family members popped up. Including others on their public trees who seemed to have come to the same conclusion. And, here’s the kicker, it seems there is another family who this man deserted…under his real name. We hope to connect to this family to find some answers.


I’ve also been doing a lot of gardening, my other great passion. We had some umbrella palms start to take over so we had them pulled out, by the root balls. Little did I know a few years after I planted them, they would become evasive! They loved the wet clay soil, too much! I’ve since been filling the spaces in with some organic matter from my compost pile. I’ve also added a few pieces of cardboard and will mulch and soil over that. It’s like having a blank canvas to start planting in.

And, my flowers are blooming. Always a welcome sight and lifts the spirits. My garden is defintely a great boost for my mental health.


I cannot seem to concentrate enough to pull an ancestor story together for a blog, but I did want to check-in. I hope that you and your family are safe and well. As our ancestors did from their pandemics, this too shall pass.

Basic Family History For Kids (Or Beginners of Any Age)

VIRTUAL BASIC FAMILY HISTORY CLASS

Basic Family History Class covers how to research your family tree, step-by-step.    The class was designed with children in mind, but anyone is welcome to take the class.

The class is divided into five sessions and teaches how to start to trace an ancestor.

Benefits:

  • How to start a family tree and where to look for clues for who your ancestors were, leading to who you are.
  • How different people in your family are related, and how to make a pedigree chart.
  • Using Zoom, I will guide you along the way and help you to organize your findings, locate different sources, and learn how to cite your research.
  • There are many genealogy activities on the internet, but this class will allow you to ask questions in a virtual classroom.

We use Google Classroom for this class. Be sure to add the extension DocHub (free) to your Google Chrome in order to open and edit certain assignments.

The Standalone class is $9.99.

The class with Zoom and my guidance is $25 an hour and is by appointment only.

Henrich “Henry” Heilig- Clockmaker Family (Logan)

Johann Henrich Heilig is my 6th great grandfather. He was born in in 1700 and married Susanna De Wees Rittenhausen in 1729. I wrote about the Rittenhouse family and their papermills here. Also, join the Rittenhouse Family Descendants and Friends Facebook page and learn about all the wonderful things they are doing to preserve the Rittenhouse legacy. There is a Rittenhouse Town Board of Directors. They also manage the Homestead House (1707) and the other houses in the village, as well as a Barn that was built during WPA and the grounds.

Some historians place Henrich’s birthplace as Hannover, German. But, other more recent historians say it is Baden-Wuerttenburg, Germany. Johann arrived in Philadelphia in 1720 on the ship “Polly.” Ships were not required to furnish a list of passenger names until 1727. Since their names are not shown on any lists after 1727, they must have arrived prior. Most information I have found says 1720.

Records state his Naturalization was on 11 Apr 1747. According to the Pennsylvania Archives. The requirements at the time were that they had to be a resident of the colonies for 7 years.


Henry, as he was now called, was by trade a clockmaker. It was a skilled and respected profession. At that time, clocks were for navigation and surveying, as well as time keeping.


Henry and Susanna lived first in Cheltenham. And, bought parcels of land in 1749 and 1750. It was on the boarders of Pennsburg and Upper Hanover Townships in Montgomery County. This land was from William Parsons who was a surveyor for the Penns. The homestead passed from Henrich to his son George. George passed it on to his son George Jr. and finally passed to the Hoch family in the 1860s. The house remains in the Hoch family today.


From the https://www.pennsburg.us/borough-history website:

Prior to 1684, the Lenape Indians roamed the hills and fished the streams of the land on either side of the Perkiomen Creek. In 1684, the Indians lost this land when  William Penn purchased it for reportedly “two watch coats, four pairs of stockings and four bottles of cider”.  In time, Pennsylvania Germans settled in the area. Around 1840, the area now know as Pennsburg began to take on the appearance of a village.  The hub consisted of a general store, a carpenter and blacksmith shop and several houses.

Most of the land was owned by the Heilig Brothers.  They owned and  resided in the oldest house in Pennsburg located at Seminary and Fourth Streets. The Heilig Brothers took it upon themselves to refer to this village as “Heiligsville”. Residents had their own ideas, and out of loyalty to the then Pennsylvania Senator, James Buchanan, wanted to name the area Buchanansville.


As the village grew in size, a meeting was held in 1843 at the Hilleg’s family store to decide on a permanent name and lay out boundary lines.  After a week long bitterly contested battle, it was finally decided to name the village “Pennsburg” after William Penn.


Henrich and Susannah had five children:

i. Heinrich Heilig, b. 1722 , ii. Jurg George Heilig, b. 1720; d. 1796, Upper Hanover Township., iii. Johannes Heilig (Source: Willbook I – 1796, 149-150.).
iv. Anna Maria Heilig (Source: Willbook I – 1796, 149-150.), m. Michael Slonaker., v. Susanna Heilig (Source: Willbook I – 1796, 149-150.), b. 1726; m. Henry Deany.


Johannes or John changed the surname to Highley. The other children kept the German spelling of Heilig.

This notation appears on a locally sold post card by Len Hillegass of the Heilig House: “The Heilig House at 313 W. 4th Street is considered to be the oldest house in Pennsburg. Wounded and ill Colonial Soldiers were cared for there by the very compassionate Heilig family during the Colonies’ fight for independence from British rule during the American Revolution.” Album by Reid Heilig
You can see other pictures of the house at https://imageevent.com/heilig/heiligheritage/heilighousepennsburgpa?n=1&z=2&c=4&x=0&m=24&w=0&p=0

Henry was a clockmaker. He passed down the art of his clockmaking skills to his children and nephews. One of the most famous being David Rittenhouse, who was an avid astronomer, he built complicated astronomical clocks and orreries, or planetary models, that not only kept time but predicted celestial events.

David Rittenhouse tall case clock. 1984.0416.007.

Henry is even listed in the U.S., Craftperson Files, 1600-1995.

With hand made brass works in the German style, it consists of 19 bells, a wooden cylinder with pins that activate 19 hammers to play tunes, a bone wave to switch tunes. Iron frame is dovetailed together. You can read more about each piece on Reid Helig’s site at https://imageevent.com/heilig/hheiligclock/themusicmechanism

Henry was buried along with this wife in the mostly Rittenhouse family cemetery, Methacton Mennonite Cemetery. Click here for a partial list of burials with links to tombstone photographs. Henrich’s and Susannah’s are below. This cemetery is located in Worcester Township, Montgomery County, PA.

There is a wonderfully thorough history written by Linton E. Love, a descendant of the Rittenhouse family. In it are the descendancts of Henry and Susannah. Linton has created a database and another database extending from the 17th century up to the 21st century from Claus to his 12,810 descendants as of March 2005!

Do you have a Heilig clock? You might!

Finding Abigail… Part 2 (Logan Family)

Photo by Harold Wijnholds on Unsplash

Finding Abigail has proven to be a significant challenge. As I wrote in Finding Abigail… Part 1, her last name has been elusive. I have been tracking my research about her through the research logs, and here is what I have.

Date Contacted-Who Contacted-Why Contacted- Response

  • 12/2/2019 City of Danbury, CT Abigail Soper They wrote back and said, “Certifiable records began in 1840.”

  • 12/26/2019 Dorset Historical Society Proof of Abigail’s assumed last name of Soper My email:  I was hoping you could please do a preliminary search and let me know if you have any information on the Soper family. My main search is for an Abigail Soper who married Daniel Logan, about 1780, my 4th great grandparents. It is stated, but not sourced that Abigail’s father was Samuel Soper. Supposedly a Hugh Logan married Abigail’s sister, Jemima, about 1784. And, Lucy Logan (Hugh’s sister) married their brother, William, about 1797. I have contacted a few county clerks, but they do not have these earlier records. Any help or direction is much appreciated.

  • 12/27/2019 Dorset Historical Society His response:   I checked through our archives, and could not find any information to tie Samuel Soper to Abigail Soper Logan. I did find some tidbits which may be of use.

          According to the History of Danby, Joseph Soper was the first settler of Danby, in 1765, and two of his (unnamed) brothers settled in Dorset. They came from Nine Partners, New York.

         According to a genealogy of the Allen family, “Seth Allen was born 16 Jan 1733/34 in Dartmouth, Bristol, Mass., and died Aft. 1801. He married Anna Soper Abt. 1752 in Dutchess County, N.Y., daughter of Peletiah Soper and Martha Soper. She was born 06 Feb 1734/35 in Windsor, Hartford, Ct. and died after 1801.” Seth and Anna bought land in Danby in 1769, which they sold in 1770, when they were in Manchester. They bought land in Manchester in 1773 from Peletiah Soper. After that, things get murkier, but they probably lived in East Dorset around 1800, and in Bromley, Vt. after 1800 (Bromley later changed its’ name to Peru).

          “The Marriage Records of John Strong” records the wedding on September 5, 1782 of Robert Allen and Patty Soper of Dorset.

         Several records say that the Soper Tavern was in South Dorset, at the intersection of modern-day Route 30 and Cross Road. None of the records give the first names of people who operated the tavern.

          The Dorset Church records record the baptism of “Mrs. Samuel Soper 1803-04.”

          Last, Rev. Parsons Pratt, in his genealogical records, noted that other Soper family members settled in “Brandon and other northern [Vermont] towns.

          Like I said, nothing specific to your request, but I hope some of this scattershot information proves useful in your quest.

                        Sincerely yours,

                        Jon Mathewson

                        Curator

  • 12/25/2019 Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness https://raogk.org/ Any Soper info Raymond Toolan from raogk emailed me back (his words)    

                        I have done some looking and have found at least one extended family of Sopers from the mid-18th century in the towns of Dorset and Manchester in Bennington County. Your Abigail creates a bit of a problem. Remember the brief history lesson I gave you? In 1765 the French and Indian Wars had only ended two years previous. This means that England had new land it needed to quantify. The colonies of New York and New Hampshire felt that each of their grants gave them most or all of this former French territory as part of their landholdings. Each colony sent surveyors in to lay out grants. An early Vermont land speculator, Ethan Allen and his brother Ira preferred to deal with the governor of New Hampshire and so they formed The Green Mountain Boys, an ad hoc group of vigilantes whose mission was to force the New York surveyors and tax collectors out in favor of New Hampshire. There is some argument as to how successful they may have been. History remembers this group regarding their taking over Ft Ticonderoga in NY. The point in this is that in 1765 those towns were most likely considered part of NY as Vermont, per se, did not exist at that time. Middlebury, Vermont, is a bit north in Addison County, also on the west side of the Green Mountains, and also was most likely considered part of NY before 1777. I will see if I can find anything that connects Abigail to this family in Dorset and Manchester. You might see if you can get the contact information for the town’s historical society in Dorset and Manchester, Vermont. Every town has a historical society, and some are more active than others.

  • 12/24/2019       The period in history that is involved here is a tough one for research in Vermont. Initially, the area, including Vermont, was under French control. After the battle on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec [ending the French and Indian wars], the area became part of the English holdings. Both the colonies of New York and New Hampshire claimed all or part of the land between them. While they were still arguing, the War of Independence broke out in 1776. IN 1777, the residents of the land area between Lake Champlain and the Connecticut River declared themselves an independent republic. This lasted until 1791 when Vermont was admitted as the 14th state. All record-keeping was done at the office of the town clerk. It still is. The recording of births, marriages, and deaths varied from town to town and really was not codified until around 1865. Copies of the various records were not collected at a central archive until around 1911. I will see if I can find any sort of documentation for you, but, honestly, the odds are very slim.

        FYI, the clerks of the courts cannot really assist you as other than records of divorces or other court-related issues they have no records. Births, deaths, and marriages are all with the town clerks and at the archive in Middlesex. There are 254 towns, cities, gores, and grants in Vermont, each with its own clerk.

  • 12/26/2019 Manchester Historical Society Vermont Soper Emailed them, have not received a response as of 1/4/2020

  • 1/18/20 Marlin Logan Emailed Marlin and asked if he had sources on his information for Soper.  

  • 1/19/20 Manchester Historical Society Vermont Soper and Logan Emailed them again

  • 1/19/20 Dorset Historical Society Soper and Logan Emailed them on information for Soper
  • 1/22/20 Email from Marlin Logan

Hi Marlee

Went back to all my old records and so sorry I don’t have anymore information than is on my Family Tree.

Tried unsuccessfully to check other resources also and I come up with a blank.

You have sparked my interest again so will keep your request as I update and find new information.  Hopefully we can find a little more data than we have.

Good hunting.

Marlin

As you can see, I do not know much more than I did when I started. But, tracking my inquiries on this log will keep me from repeating quests.  

I may look into the other Soper’s mentioned and see if I can find any Abigail’s in their lines.                 

As you can see, we all have brick walls in our family history. I may be able to help with yours. Contact me for your some virtual family history tutoring.

What is Virtual tutoring?
* Individual screen shares- a virtual whiteboard to work on:
* Family tree creation.
* Records search for documenting your family history.
* Get help to break down brick walls on a particular ancestor.
https://loganalogy.com/genealogy-classes/

America, So Far Away

The 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks- Week Five Challenge: “So Far Away”

I live in the United States of America, Florida, to be exact. But, my paternal ancestor, John Loggan was born in 1699 in Ahoghill, Antrim, Ireland. (It is referenced that his father was from Restalrig, a suburb of Edinburgh, Scotland.) This is interesting because I was told that my daddy’s ranch in Washington state was called Restalrig. 

John arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, around 1717. He married Margaret Carr, I am still researching her. They had nine children together (6 boys, 2 girls, and one unknown). Margaret was born in Massachusetts in 1703, but I am unable to find their life from when John arrived in 1717 to when they married in 1724. They are mentioned in the Mayflower Source Records from The New England Historical and Genealogical Register as descendants, so I am still researching that angle.

Through the Logan DNA project (https://pre1800logans.groups.io/g/main), it is thought that this John is from the Barons of Restalrig from Scotland. This project suggests that John Logan #1034, is directly related to the Gawn Logan family #1032, which suggests our Logan line immigrated from Scotland to Ireland, where they lived perhaps several generations before moving on to Connecticut.

Two of their sons, John and Mathew, served under General George Washington during the battle for New York City in the American War for Independence. When the Army was hopelessly surrounded, the General evacuated his entire army under cover of darkness and moved to Philadelphia. John and Mathew most likely were at Valley Forge later on. Source:  The Logan’s of Scotland by James C. Logan

John Logan, the founder of the Washington, Connecticut family, was descended from a long line of Scotch barons deriving their name, Celtic in origin, from the ancestral home, Logan, in Ayrshire. He came from the north of Ireland with the Gordons, Kassons, Keigwins, Parkes, Wylies, and other Scotch Presbyterians, under the leadership of Reverend Samuel Dorrance, a graduate of the University of Glasgow. Their party, after experiencing a great many unusual difficulties, came from Marblehead Harbor and Boston to Connecticut and buying up the Volunteer grants at Voluntown, forming the nucleus of the Presbyterian church Ekonk hill. –Source: A National Register of the Society, Sons of the American Revolution, Volume 1

“Among the first settlers of Voluntown, Conn., were a number of the thrifty Scotch-Irish, of whom large numbers emigrated to New England and Pennsylvania early in the last century. The most of those who settled in Voluntown were from Ulster, the extreme northern county of Ireland, and separated from Argyleshire, Scotland, by the narrow North Channel. They formed so large a proportion of the inhabitants of Voluntown, that they organized a Presbyterian church, the first, and for and called to be their pastor the Rev. Samuel Dorrance, himself lately arrived from Ireland, but a graduate of Glasgow University in Scotland. From these old Scotch-Irish families, the Campbells, Dixons, Douglases, Edmonds, Gibsons, Houstons, Hunters, Kassons, Kegwins, Kennedys, Parkes, Wylies, and others, have descended many of the prominent men of Connecticut, as well as of other states west and south where their descendants have settled.’ John Parke and wife, James Edmond and wife, Patrick McCallan and wife Elizabeth and daughter Elizabeth, John Gaston, John Wylie and wife Agnes, James Parke, Elizabeth Jordan, and perhaps William Cady and wife, John Logan and James Campbell, though the exact date of admission of the last four is uncertain.”

The Rising Sun Inn (6 Romford Road) was built in 1748 by John Loggin/Logan as a 1-1/2-story five-bay lean-to house. In the first half of the 19th century Matthew Logan (John’s son) altered the house to its present configuration by increasing the width of the front elevation three bays to the left (north), raising the roof to two full stories thereby providing for a ballroom, and building an ell. Presumably, the present 12-over-8 sash and window and doorway cornices date from that time. When patronage of the inn declined toward the end of the 19th century, the road in front was moved away, creating the present spacious lawn. While the age of the accompanying barn is undocumented, it surely is old, and with its weathered vertical siding, and large size is a prominent presence in the Sunny Ridge Historic District. Historic photographs show additional barns that formerly stood behind the house.  The Sunny Ridge Historic District

There is a black and white real photo postcard of the Logan Homestead, formerly known as the Rising Sun Inn, at 6 Romford Road in Washington, Connecticut, at https://www.gunnlibrary.org/gunn-museum/. Search for “The Logan Homestead July 1913”. Trees loom over the front of the two-story, home with clapboard facade and dark trim and shutters on the multi-paned upper windows and double sashed lower. A roofed front portico is surrounded by a railed fence. A single-story addition is visible to the rear beyond a deck to the right. Tree branches (birch?) form an X pattern at the right corner of the residence.

Interesting Note: From the Jacob Larwood and John Camden Hotten’s History of Sign Boards, pg. 118. “The Rising Sun was a badge of Edward III, and forms part of the arms of Ireland, but the Sun Shining was cognizant of several kings.” “The Rising Sun may have been a favorable omen for a man beginning a business. Such signs were adopted for businesses, as well as inns.”

The Hollister name is in our tree. A Hollister Logan lived in this house, and I have a letter from her (actually a friend wrote it for her as she was in her 90’s) about her study of their genealogy, but hadn’t been able to find much.

John then married Dorcas Root in 1771 in Washington, Connecticut. They did not have any children together, but she had three children with her first husband, John Royce, who is also my 6th great grandfather. Their daughter, Azubah, married John Logan, Jr.

John, Sr. died on December 2, 1777, in Washington, Connecticut, having lived a long life of 77 years, and was buried there. Dorcas died the same year; the same year a smallpox epidemic raged through Washington, Connecticut. His grandson, Matthew, also died the same year at age 2. Not sure if this was the reason for their deaths, but it could be.

The Gunn Historical Museum in the Washington Green Historic District, in Connecticut, has many of the Logan artifacts, photos, stories, etc. Gunn Historical Museum

DNA has proven my connection to this John first through a Yahoo group I joined many moons ago (now https://pre1800logans.groups.io/g/main). Later, I found out that a gentleman that had helped me for years and I are 3rd cousins, 1x removed. He is also the President of the Clan Logan Society International! We share our third great grandfather, Lemuel H. Logan. Together we are bound to find the connection between John and Scotland.

Other Logan name variations are: Loban, Lobban, Loben, Logan, Logane, Logen, Loggan, Loggane, Loggans, Login.

https://loganalogy.com/family-tree-research-specialist/

An Unprecedented Boom; Family History Research

My son recently commented that family history or genealogy is more for “old people.” I do not think that is true. Of course, “old” to him could mean someone in their 30s.   

Researching family history may not be his scene, but more and more people of all ages are interested in their ancestry. Especially with shows like “Finding Your Roots,” “Genealogy Roadshow,” A New Leaf,” “Relative Race,” and “Who Do You Think You Are.”  

Many people are taking DNA tests to try to figure out their heritage. When the traditional research methods are not working, a DNA test can help break through a brick wall by working alongside the “tried and true” family history research methods. A DNA test on its own is not going to solve the puzzle. I cannot stress this enough.  

From familysearch.org:

If your research hits a brick wall due to immigration or migration, name changes, or missing records, DNA may suggest clues that can lead you to new relatives, surnames, or locations. First, identify other descendants of your brick-wall ancestor who have also taken a DNA test (or ask other descendants to take a DNA test). Use the shared or “in common with” feature provided by your DNA testing company to identify other DNA matches connected to the same brick-wall ancestor. Review those matches and their trees. Look for people, surnames, or locations that match the information you already know about your brick-wall ancestor.

When I assist clients with their research, I mainly focus on the “tried and true” method I mentioned above. Starting with the client, gathering their vital records, birth certificate, baptismal certificate, marriage certificate, divorce information, etc. etc. Then their parents and grandparents, collecting the same information, including death certificates, naturalization records, land records, wills, newspaper articles, house history, etc.  

Even if you know all this and have done your research, sometimes you just hit that proverbial “brick wall,” and it seems you can’t get any farther. In this case, you have to find other avenues. More and more archives are digitizing their records. And, if you read my post on my Facebook page, Loganalogy, then you know I have hit a couple of gold mines with the genealogical societies.   

Please do not get scared off by their pricing on their pages. This week I will have received about eighteen pages, one family tree, and a source record from four different societies and was charged only $10 for the whole lot. Because I know how hard they work and the passion they have to help others, I paid a bit more as donations.  

Some people may have the desire to know about their ancestry, but they do not have the time or resources to pursue it. That is where people like me come in handy. I am not a certified genealogist (it is on my retirement list); however, I am a Family History Research Specialist.  

Let me customize a package that works for you, whether you need a whole family researched, one line, one person, or you need advice on where to go next with your research. I can help.

Visit www.loganalogy.com today, read my blogs, my finds on my ancestors, and let me help you find yours.  

Thanks for reading! 

Marlee L. Logan

Private message me at m.me/Loganealogy

Follow me on FacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedInYouTube, and Instagram

View my online class for children here.

Finding Abigail… Part 1 (Logan Family)

If you have read my other blogs, specifically “My Journey of Journeys,” you’ll remember I started researching my father’s side in the 1990s. I had started with the direct male line and then a few years later started with the wives, my grandmothers.  

In 2010, I met up with a couple of others who were researching the Logans. One, in particular, was a retired Air Force Colonel living in Texas. He had an extensive tree on the Logans, and we emailed back and forth for at least three years. He is my 4th cousin, 1x removed.  

Because I was still a rookie, I took what information he had on blind faith and plugged all the information into my tree. Not that his information was wrong, but I failed to verify for myself. Furthermore, I failed to get his sources. So, I have these people in my tree that I do not have verified documentation for.   

One such person is Abigail Soper. Oh, I know her name is Abigail, as documentation from her children’s records lists their mother. What I do not have is her maiden name. I decided to try to verify her family once and for all, nine years later. With all the digitizing and new genealogical information, I thought for sure it would be an easier task now. I was wrong.

In November, I started writing historical societies and county clerks in the vicinity of Connecticut and Vermont. The information from my 4th cousin had Abigail being born in Connecticut but marrying Daniel Logan in Vermont around 1780. No cities mentioned. They could find no mention of Sopers or even Logans for that matter.  

The town historian for Bennington, Vermont, however, was very helpful. She went over and beyond in trying to help me. She explained that the Logan name was not common in Bennington, but offered other historians who may assist me. One is in the town listed on an ancestor’s death certificate, Middlebury. Another is in the border town where my ancestor was married, Warsaw, New York.

The other Logans in this family were just as confusing as some documentation showed their sons born in New York, and some showed Vermont. I was perplexed. On a website called Random Acts of Genealogical KindnessI contacted a gentleman who specialized in that area. He wrote me back immediately! And he had some excellent information. 

I did not follow my own advice in studying the area of the time. This gentleman gave me the history of my ancestors’ time, and it makes perfect sense on how and why the documentation seems to be conflicting. Here is what he said, in his own words:

The period in history that is involved here is a tough one for research in Vermont. Initially, the area, including Vermont, was under French control. After the battle on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec [ending the French and Indian wars], the area became part of the English holdings. Both the colonies of New York and New Hampshire claimed all or part of the land between them.

While they were still arguing, the War of Independence broke out in 1776. In 1777, the residents of the land area between Lake Champlain and the Connecticut River declared themselves an independent republic. This lasted until 1791 when Vermont was admitted as the 14th state. All record-keeping was done at the office of the town clerk. It still is. The recording of births, marriages, and deaths varied from town to town and really was not codified until around 1865. Copies of the various records were not collected at a central archive until around 1911. 

He later wrote:  I have done some looking and have found at least one extended family of Sopers from the mid-18th century in the towns of Dorset and Manchester in Bennington County. Your Abigail creates a bit of a problem. Remember the brief history lesson I gave you? 

In 1765 the French and Indian Wars had only ended two years previous. This means that England had new land it needed to quantify. The colonies of New York and New Hampshire felt that each of their grants gave them most or all of this former French territory as part of their landholdings. Each colony sent surveyors in to lay out grants. An early Vermont land speculator, Ethan Allen and his brother Ira preferred to deal with the governor of New Hampshire. So they formed The Green Mountain Boys, an ad hoc group of vigilantes whose mission was to force the New York surveyors and tax collectors out in favor of New Hampshire. 

There is some argument as to how successful they may have been. History remembers this group in regard to their taking over Ft Ticonderoga in NY. The point in this is that in 1765 those towns were most likely considered part of NY as Vermont, per se, did not exist at that time. 

Middlebury, Vermont, is a bit north in Addison County, also on the west side of the Green Mountains, and also was most likely considered part of NY before 1777. I will see if I can find anything that connects Abigail to this family in Dorset and Manchester. You might see if you can get the contact information for the town’s historical society in Dorset and Manchester, Vermont. Every town has a historical society, and some are more active than others.

Ethan and Ira Allen had shaped history — and had almost shaped it differently. 

So, as you can see, it was very convoluted at the time my ancestors were in that area. Trying to find documents in the 1700s is hard enough, even harder when the borders and politics changed so much.  

1780 Map of New England-
Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. 20540-4650 USA dcu

I now have three things on my to-do list concerning Abigail.

1) Contact the county historian in Middlebury, NY, to see if he has any information on this Logan family.  

2) Contact the historical societies in Dorset and Manchester, Vermont, to see if they have any information on the Soper family and, possibly, Logan.

3) See if I can get in touch with my Colonel cousin to find out his sources.

 Look at me, learning from my mistakes and continuing on. 😉

Wish me luck! I will keep you updated on my search for Abigail.  

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