April 9, 2015

Civil War: 150th Anniversary

Today, the anniversary of the end of the Civil War,  makes me reflect on the many, many ancestors who fought in this conflict and the wives and children who were left to fend for themselves ... some for a lifetime if their soldier didn't return.

I have documented about 75 family members (some less directly related than others) who fought ... on both sides !  Some of my RI Watson groups and NY Comfort groups had splits within the family with some of the males moving south and fighting for the Confederacy. I can't really imagine how the family would feel with brothers and cousins pitted against one another.

All of my direct ancestors were in the north and those who fought were Union supporters. Today I am especially remembering 3rd great grandfather Charles Mansfield and two of my great great grandfathers, James McDole and Reuben Lake. All three were from Ulster County, New York. Charles died of disease in Louisiana at age 49 survived by his wife and 6 children (2 of whom joined his unit, Co D NY 156th). James McDole, a native of northern Ireland who immigrated in 1846, left his wife and 4 children. Luckily he returned unharmed, had 5 more children and lived to be 70. Reuben Lake joined as did his younger brother Francis. Reuben was shot in the neck and shoulder in South Carolina and was somewhat disabled for the rest of his life. However, he married Sarah Ann Mansfield (daughter of Charles) and produced a clan of 12 ! When he died in 1897 Sarah was left to raise her 7 minor children on a paltry widow's pension. Her pension files list her only asset as one milk cow.

I am trying to pass along some of this information to the next generation so they will have a better understanding of history as they learn about this in school ... I wish I'd had been told of the "Human" side of the war back when it seemed to be just a list of dates and places.

March 20, 2015

Did wives own property outright in 1870s?

I was surprised after examining the published probate notices for Mary Watson Rider of Orleans County, NY to find that her husband was still alive, but not listed as "kin". Intitially I thought he had predeceased her and that she was passing on their real and personal property to her family members. No one on his side of the family was named in Mary's probate filings. 

Mary and Job Rider lived in Murray, Orleans County at the end of their lives. They had been farming in Cortland and Monroe counties before showing up in Orleans in the 1875 census. It does appear that Mary's probate process dragged on for some time following her death in November 1878.  Job died the following summer and his probate notices listed many, many people in numerous New York counties and as far flung as Wisconsin and Alabama. Their probate notices were published repeatedly in The Holley Standard newspaper.

Not one person appeared as heirs of both Mary and Job. I thought that seemed a bit a strange.

February 24, 2015

1909 MN Death Certificates Lists Children Born & Alive

This is the first time I have seen this information captured on a death certificate … and it’s for their father!   

Rufus Metcalf Watson was born in New York in 1835 where he lived with his wife and children until some time following her death in 1882.  In the 1900 census he showed up in North Dakota and then died in Chippewa County Minnesota in 1909.

I examined his death certificate looking for some record of how long had been in Minnesota, but instead found a notation that he married at age 32 and that of his 6 children, 2 were living. 

In this case I already knew about his children – but such information could be very revealing!

February 5, 2015

Henry Jenkins, son of Jonathan or not?

I had a good deal of information about lawyer Jonathan Jenkins of Rensselaerville NY.  He was the son of Samuel Jenkins and Mercy Squire and the sister of Sarah who married Thomas Watson of my RI line.  In 1809 Jonathan married “Betsey” Mulford and I knew they had son Charles in 1810 and daughter (Julia) Harriet in 1816.  I thought that was it. Then I came across a listing of beneficiaries from the 1842 will of Eli Hutchinson of Catskill. Named were Charles, Henry and Harriet Jenkins, children of Jonathan. Really? I had not heard of Henry.

It is difficult to identify children who were born in those decades before the census named everyone in the household. I went back to check Jonathan’s records in 1810, 1820, 1830 – there was more than one assumed son. I did not find Henry living in Rensselaerville in 1850 … but thought perhaps I had found him, with wife Jane and daughter Mary in Albany.

I searched around for more information on Henry and thought he seemed to be the one referenced as living in Albany and Hudson, NY, at times a banker, legislator and later referred to as a lawyer (somewhat of the “family business” for Jenkins). I stumbled upon death notices published both in Arizona and in New York (both Albany and Hudson) for a Henry who died suddenly in Tucson in Nov 1868 – saying he was from NY, had arrived in 1859 and “left family in Albany”. Was that him?

January 13, 2015

What was Emma Lehtola's Maiden Name?

As I began researching Herman Sylvester Lehtola who emigrated from Finland to Massachusetts in 1909, I found him married to Emma on his 1917 World War I registration. I have been unsuccessful in finding a record of their marriage assumed to have been in/near Quincy, Mass between 1910 and 1917.

Emma was also a native of Finland, but I did not know her maiden name. I didn't know where to look beyond familysearch and ancestry. So, when all else fails, go to Google.  And there I hit upon a Finnish genealogy website with a page titled RAITTIUSKANSAN KALENTERI with an index of obituaries for Finnish Americans.  

Listed on the 4th page was Lehtola, Emma nee Waihkonen, housewife Quincy MA which seemed to match.  Now with her maiden name I went back to familysearch to see if I could find a marriage record for verification, but did not. 

Herman was single in the 1910 census living in Quincy working as a granite cutter. I have not found Emma though I know I should have since she arrived at Ellis Island on Jan 24, 1904. The ship's manifest can be viewed for free on the Ellis Island website and her entry shows her destined for Quincy, Mass with her passage paid by her brother-in-law Gustaf Sten. It seems he was married to Emma's older sister Alma.

The 1910 census showed Alma and Gustaf Sten living in Quincy, MA but Emma was not with them. There is some confusion over Gustaf's name as well ... their 1903 Quincy marriage record lists her as Waikonen and him as TUTINEN. Referring back to Alma's arrival record I can see that her passage was paid for by Kustaa Tutinen of Quincy .... Kustaa is the Finnish version of Gustav.  Could he have also shortened his surname?  I'll leave that investigation for others.

It seems that Emma and Alma's father Johan or John was also in Massachusetts based on his 1912 Quincy death certificate at age 69 with the informant "his daughter Mrs Gusraf Sten". So I feel quite sure that Emma was born Waihkonen .... now I want to find her in 1910 and locate her marriage record.


December 11, 2014

Deconstrucing the marriage notice for Mrs Carhart

When Mrs Marie Carhart married Jesse Olney in 1912, the San Francisco Chronicle listed her as the daughter of Mr and Mrs Robert Nelson. My first assumption was that Marie Nelson had previously married someone named Carhart – but only part of that was true.

Moving backwards from 1912, I found the widowed Marie Carhart, age 37, living in Upland, California in the household of Robert T Nelson and his wife Marian, listed as STEPDAUGHTER in the 1910 census.  In the 1907 Los Angeles city directory Maria Carhart was listed as widow of Thomas.  In the 1900 census I found Marie and her husband Thomas in the household of her mother and stepfather along with another step-daughter Carrie Longstreet born in Ohio 1872.  With that strong hint about Marie’s maiden name, I was able to put the rest of the story together. I found Marie, her widowed mother, and 3 sisters in Ohio as Longstreet in 1880.

Knowing her maiden name helped me find her Oct 1897 marriage to Thomas F Carhart in Paris, France as reported in both SF Chronicle and the LA Herald stating that Mrs Nelson received a cablegram regarding her daughter Marie K Longstreet.

So that explained the Carhart and Nelson connections and we know that Robert Nelson was her stepfather … so who was her father? Having found the widowed Marian Longstreet and daughters in the 1880 census allowed me to backtrack in Ohio. Neither Marie nor her sister Carrie had been born by the time of the 1870 census, but their parents were married and the oldest sister was with them. Her father was Dr Aaron O Longstreet, born in Ohio about 1843.  He and Marian Parsons married in 1868 in Springfield, Ohio. They had 5 children between 1869 and 1877, 4 girls and a boy. Their son George did not live to be a year old. Two years later tragedy struck the family as Dr Longstreet died of diphtheria 3 days after treating a patient. I’m not sure how or why Marian and children relocated to California (perhaps she knew Robert Nelson as he was a native of Ohio also), but a rather full family story evolved from the brief notice of Marie’s marriage to Jesse Olney.

November 30, 2014

What happened to Mary Watson after 1860?

In 1842 Mary P Watson was born in Mississippi to John W Watson of RI and his 2nd wife, South Carolinian Harriet Prowell. Mary’s father died when she was only 4 and in 1852 her mother married Virginia born Charles W Caldwell. 

In the 1860 census Mary, her brother Thomas, her mother, stepfather and 3 step-siblings were all living together in Lowndes County, MS.  By 1870 her brother had married and was with his wife in Lamar, Texas, as were her mother, stepfather and the 3 younger children.  But where was Mary?

I assumed she had married between 1860 and 1870 either in Mississippi or in Texas. I took a quick look at familysearch and at the 1870 census in both locations.  But it is difficult to find a MARY with unknown surname.

I focused in on Mary, b 1842 in Mississippi, without a surname, living in Lamar, Texas. In assessing my “possibles”, I checked for local marriage records. I found the 1866 marriage of a Mary Watson to a T. J. Caldwell in Lamar, Texas.  Could that be her? I searched further and found that she had indeed married Dr Thomas J Caldwell and that they named their first son Charles W –- the name of her stepfather ! Were Charles and Thomas related?

Thomas and Mary had 5 children between 1867 and 1879. She died the following year, not yet 40, and is buried in Fannin, Texas. Thomas married again and added 3 more children to the family. He died in 1903 and is buried with Mary whose gravestone shows her name as Mary P.  Their daughter Viva’s Texas death record lists her mother as Mary Watson Prowell … a bit out of order.

Dr Thomas J Caldwell and Mary’s step-father, Charles Washington Caldwell, were found together in the 1850 census with head of household Eliza born 1798 in Virginia.  No relationships are listed. Charles was 34 and Thomas was 12 (born in Mississippi). Could Charles be his father? To be continued.