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.
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
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.
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.
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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.
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Well, I am still not closer to finding Abigail, although I do have a lot of feelers out. I am hoping I get a bite soon. Tracing Abigail has forced me to do something I kept reading about but didn’t think it applied to me. A research log. Yep, logging my research and tracking those I’ve contacted about an ancestor.
I didn’t think I needed it before; after all, isn’t that what my Ancestry database is there to do? Um, well, no. It sources and cites my findings once I actually find them. But, how do I keep from researching the same places maybe a year or so later? I log it!
There are many different kinds of research logs out there. Just Google, “Genealogy Research Logs,” and find one that is to your liking. I looked at a bunch and decided to make one on Google Sheets (Excel) that works for me. I named them by the person for easier access, as that is how I file other information; each person has their own electronic file.
Then I went through my emails and started logging. I know I have more and will add them as they come up. I try to use my outlook email for genealogy. But, my older contacts and older research was done through my yahoo account.
As I stated before, I’ve been cleaning up some older, researched ancestors. I feel pretty confident in at least my direct lines, that things are pretty clean, meaning the sources are there and facts are accounted for. I’ll need to do that with some of the non-direct ancestors as I come across them.
Another thing I have been working on as I clean up my sources is looking at older sources attached to my facts. I was able to locate some new (to me) information by looking over them again with more experienced eyes.
I also finished up my report for a client and sent her the latest descendant report. There is also another person who I help pro bono along the way. We private messenger each other now and then, and I give him pointers on where to look or how to navigate something. It is very satisfying being able people with their family history, whether it is to do the research for them or to tutor them on the way to experience their own journey.