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.

November 6, 2014

Mrs Moseman Barrett nee Ludington


I came across a 1905 death notice for Mrs Barrett in the Putnam County NY Courier newspaper while looking for information on other Ludington family members – and this time I HAD NOT limited my search by year. Interestingly, she is referred to as one of fifteen children born to Frederick Ludington, but her first name is never mentioned …. It is Cornelia, born 1832. I descend from this family line, so I had quite a bit of information already.

Several of her siblings are mentioned and I have added some of what I know about them and about those not listed. It seems that 14 lived to adulthood.

Mrs Barrett was visiting her sisters Harriet and Frances in Danbury, CT at the time of her death. Those sisters were Harriet 1822-1907,  wife of  Solomon Benjamin Denton, and Frances 1836-1922, wife of Rev John L Benedict.

Two other sisters mentioned (though only by their husbands’ names) were Abby 1827-1895, wife of Lyman Birchard, and Anna 1823-1859, wife of John Townsend.
Also mentioned were brothers Joseph and Oliver who “went west to seek gold”. The article indicates that Joseph died there, however I believe it was Oliver (born 1820) who died in Sacramento in 1856. Joseph (born 1829) moved from California to Bloomington, IL, where he married, had 2 daughters and died in 1864. Harrison 1812-1891, the oldest sibling, was mentioned as former Governor of Wisconsin where he lived for over 50 years. He was a very successful lumber merchant and had also served as Mayor of Milwaukee. The article states “another <brother> was mayor of Chicago” – not true.

Those siblings not mentioned above are;

George W. 1814-1874 merchant and banker, Putnam County
Caroline 1816-1898 wife of Rowland Patrick, Dutchess County
Nelson 1818-1883 an extremely wealthy lumber merchant in Milwaukee & Chicago
Samuel 1830-1877 lumberman in Michigan, then Illinois
Frederick 1834-1907 farmer in Putnam County
Lewis 1838-1909 merchant in IL .. .the only CW vet in the lineup

I had been seeking confirmation that the Oliver Ludington born in NY in 1820 and died in California in 1856 was the son of Frederick … and this news item, dated almost 50 years later, certainly helps.  I will continue to seek more formal confirmation. But, don’t confine your searches to just the years in question. You might be surprised by what you’ll find.


October 12, 2014

Were they named MERCY or MARCY?


Seems there is a great deal of confusion over the spelling of this female name in my Wheeler and Watson family lines in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

The mother of my ancestor, Desire Wheeler Watson, I thought was Mercy Williams who married Thomas Wheeler. Here is an excerpt from the American Genealogist, vole 82, 2007 pages 60-61 as shown on the NEHGS website:  

A look at the family of Mercy Wheeler, first wife of Capt. Christoper Gardner of South Kingstown, provides additional argument that Rufus Gardener of New London was likely their son.  She is presented in The Gardiners of Narragansett as “a daughter of Thomas and Mercy (Williams) Wheeler.” ……In his will of 28 November 1760, proved on 6 January 1761, Thomas Wheeler of Stonington. “in a Weak and Low Status of Body”, names his wife, Marcy, son Thomas …. Daughter Marcy Gardner ….There is no estate file for Thomas’s widow, Mercy, in Stonington.

Well, which is it ?? Seems to change back and forth between using E or A, as I have seen with others, including these two who confused me when I first found the name spelled with an A.


       Mercy Watson 1778-1817, wife of Ezra Lester

       Mercy Watson 1810-1882, wife of Col John Watson
           Her NYC death certificate & Woodlawn memorial both use A

           Seems she was named for her aunt Mrs Mercy Lester above

Today I found another one, Mercy Stanton …or was it Marcy? Looks like A wins in this case.

September 30, 2014

The wife of Jesse Watson Olney

Jesse, the son of Julia Watson and James Brown Olney, was a lawyer from Catskill, NY and a graduate of Yale. In 1900 he was living with his widowed father in Catskill and then was not found again until 1918 when his WW I registration card listed him as a farmer in Victorville, California with wife Marie K. I did not find them in the 1910 census. In the 1920 census Marie was listed as born in Ohio.

Attempting to find marriage place and date, I began searching for him the in NY 1905 census.  On familysearch I came across a 1905 passenger listing for Mrs Jesse Olney, returning to NY from Bermuda. Going further I found a NYC marriage record for December 1905 uniting Jesse Watson Olney and Catherine Morris Bruno (then 24 per the ship record).   A bit confusing ... did she use a different name or was this a different wife?  I had trouble finding them in the 1910 census.

California has detailed death records, and I did find one for Marie Olney, listing her parents' surnames as Nelson and Parsons. But then I was stuck ... could not find them in census records, nor a birth records. Little by little, the story evolved -- greatly due to newspapers. But there were quite a few twists and turns before all the pieces fell into place. Based on newspaper items I found that Jesse and his first wife had divorced in 1909 and he married Marie in 1912 -- but not as clear cut as that may sound.

September 12, 2014

The sons of Thomas Watson of Rensselearville


Until a few weeks ago I knew only that Thomas Watson was born in Newport, RI about 1770 and died in Rensselaerville, Albany County, NY in 1813.  I had found him in the NY census in 1800 and 1810 with an assumed wife and 3 sons.  Exploring a bit more I learned that he was a lawyer (as many in that family line were), he was a land owner and was survived by wife “Sally and heirs”.  I had suspicions that Rufus W. Wheeler (1806-1876), a Catskill New York lawyer, might be one of his sons.

I had a great breakthrough earlier this month when I received copies of pages from the records of Rev Samuel Fuller, a Presbyterian minister in Rensselaerville. [ Thanks to the NYSHA in Cooperstown, NY for their assistance]. Those pages unveiled the family as follows:

-       His wife was Sarah “Sally” Jenkins, daughter of Samuel who built the first house in the village
-       Three sons were named without ages, all baptized on the same date the year their father died
o   Rufus Wheeler
o   Samuel Squires
o   John Jenkins
-       She remarried in 1818 – a second marriage also for her husband Roger Metcalf of Otsego County (where Thomas’ oldest sister Desire and her husband Peleg Peckham lived after leaving Rensselaerville)

Rufus W. Watson is a common name in this family line, so at first I as not sure the baptized son was the Catskill lawyer.  But I found a reference to Rufus W. Watson of Catskill lawyer that mentioned his father Thomas was one of the earliest lawyers in Rensselaerville. Rufus is buried in the Catskill Village Cemetery with his wife Elizabth Botsford. He apparently spent his entire adult life in Greene County, NY.

So, now the question is what happened to Samuel and John?  Were they older or younger than Rufus?  The search continues.

August 11, 2014

Margaret and John Orr of Zanesville 1860-1880

I believe that Margaret's maiden name was Sheils and that she was born in County Roscommon, Ireland around 1830. She was mentioned in a biographical sketch of her younger brother John Sheils, a hotelier in Ulster County, NY published in 1896. There she was listed as married to John Orr (though spelled Awer, which I believe was incorrect), a foundryman in Ohio.

I think I found Margaret as Orr, age 30 born in Ireland, in the 1860 census in the Zanesville Ohio household of G.W. Graham 35 and  Rebecca 30 both born in Ohio. Her husband John is not with them, but there is a 16 year old Emma Orr born in Ohio. Who is she? Not likely to be Margaret's daughter. Perhaps she is a relative of John -- or even a daughter from an earlier marriage? How is Margaret affiliated with the Grahams? Where is her husband (I have not found him in 1860)?

The 1870 census in ward 6 of Zanesville shows John and Margaret together, he is 55 and she is 40. No sign of the Grahams nor of Emma Orr. Now with them are Agnes, 14 and Frank, 9 -- assumed children.  But where was Agnes in 1860 at age 4?

In 1880 Frank is living alone, aged 21; John 65 and Margaret 50 are together in ward 6 and it seems that Agnes was in the county jail.

That was the last I found of them.  A Margaret Orr, listed as 58, died in Zanesville in 1893 ... but I don't know if it is her. What happened to the rest of them?