A death certificate finally arrives!

My mother’s family is from New York. Her family tree reaches back to the late 1700s and early 1800s. New York City and its boroughs have records from the 1800s.  I have copies of my grandmother’s birth certificate (born 1892) and several death certificates from the 1880s. Usually, a request takes 6-8 weeks to be filled.  Similar document requests from New York State took months BCV (Before Corona Virus) due to a much larger volume and a limited number of staff to fill those requests.  With the pandemic, these requests take even longer.  In this post, I relate events leading to the receipt of one death certificate.

 Last week, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a copy of the death certificate for Margaret Ann Tucker [1], wife of my 3 times great-grandfather, Jeremiah Tucker. I sent the request over a year ago. In 2020, the number of deaths in New York due to Corona Virus spiralled. The need for those certificates far outweigh genealogy requests.  I just had to be patient!  I hoped to find the names of her parents on that certificate and was not disappointed.

A note about my personal ethics.  I purchased this certificate directly from New York State.  The certificates are not available online.  Therefore, I will not post a scanned copy to my blog or any of my online trees.  I placed the original in the appropriate notebook in an archival quality plastic sleeve. I scanned it to my personal computer.  The State of New York Health Department and/or State Archives derive income from these requests.  Therefore, I feel ethically bound to not post a digital copy of the certificate.  However, I will share some of the information with you.  

In one of my first blog posts, dated 24 April 2017 (Genealogy Do-Over, month 2, Blog #1, https://postingfamilyroots.blog/2017/04/), I reported what I knew about Margaret. To summarize:  

  • According to oral family history, her maiden name was Margaret/ Maggie Irwin.[2]
  • Census records for 1870[3]  , 1875[4], 1880 [5] and 1900[6] show Jeremiah and wife, Margaret.
  • Per the 1900 census, Jeremiah and Margaret had been married for 33 years – estimated marriage year about 1867.
  • 1870 census includes a child, Lavina, age 8, born about 1862.
  • 1875 state census includes a child, Lavina, age 13 and 64-year-old Ellen Ervin.
  • 1880 census includes daughter, Lanna, age 18.
    • ASSERTION: Margaret, identified as Jeremiah’s wife, was his 2nd wife. She is not mother of Lavina/ Lanna. The identity of Lavina’s mother remains a mystery.
  • Death record for George Tucker (age 3 in 1880) lists his mother’s name as Margaret Collins.[7]
  • To-do item (from 24 April 2017 blog post):  “Confirm death date & location for Margaret Tucker. Obtain death certificate.”

Later, I discovered that Jeremiah Tucker married Allie Traver Briggs in 1905.[8]  This information narrowed Margaret’s death date to between 1900 and 1905.  A cousin sent a death notice, dated September 1904, from a local newspaper for Mrs. Jerry Tucker. [9]  Then, I accessed the New York State Death Index, online, for a certificate number.[10]  Finally, I could order Margaret’s death certificate from the State of New York!

Item on To-Do list from April 2017 is now complete!  Margaret’s death date and location are confirmed and her death certificate obtained. Information on her death certificate includes:

  • Age: 69 years, 6 months, 6 days for a calculated birth date of 28 February 1835. Place of Birth: New York. Per the 1875 state census, she was born in Greene county.
  • Died 2 September 1904 at Greenville, Greene county, New York.
  • Names of her parents:  Wm [William] Irving, born New York and Lana Hilliker, born New York.

One mystery solved!  Margaret’s maiden name was Irving.  Lana could be another name for Ellen, the 64-year-old woman living with Jeremiah and Margaret in 1875.  I am not ready to share  tentative results from my preliminary, quick searches for William and Lana.


This post is shorter than most that I have written.  I realize that I don’t need to report everything about a topic in a single post. My posts often report unfinished work.  My cousin, June, who lives in Greene county, New York, also works on this family line.  She has access to local resources and often shares items with me. I sent her a copy of Margaret’s death certificate.  

What helped:  My cousin, June, who found the newspaper death notice for Margaret. Previous review of records and notes in my files. Research log. Added info to research log started in 2017. Notes on research log and RootsMagic.

What didn’t help: Not entering DC information to RootsMagic before doing anything else.  

What I learned: Patience pays off!

TO-DO:  Find Margaret’s parents in census and other records.  Continue search for Lavina/ Lanna.


[1]  New York, State Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Certificate and Record of Death 38927 (5 September 1904), Margaret Ann Tucker; State of New York, Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Albany, New York; photocopy received 3 October 2020.

[2] Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” [Page]; MS, 1800s to 1980s, Huntington, Suffolk County, New York; privately held by great-niece, Susan Mercedes Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017.  Carbon copy of original handwritten document created ca. 1975-1980 given to Ms. Ellerbee by her mother.

[3] 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Albany county, New York, population schedule, Westerlo, p. 10 (ink pen), dwelling 77, family 79, Margaret Tucker age 36; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : downloaded & printed 30 December 2014); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication M593.

[4]  Jeremiah B. Tucker, 1875 New York State Census, Albany county, New York, population schedule, Westerlo, pg. 24, lines 29-36, dwelling 231, family 249; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com:   accessed 8 December 2017); citing New York State Archives, Albany, Albany county, New York.

[5]  1880 U.S. Census, Greene county, New York, pop. sch., Greenville, enumeration district (ED) 81, p. 2B (ink pen), dwelling #1, family #1, Jeremiah Tucker; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded and printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 836.

[6]  1900 U.S. Census, Greene county, New York, pop. sch., Greenville, enumeration district (ED) 78, p. 8A (ink pen), dwelling 189 , family 196, Jeremiah Tucker; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded, printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623_1039.

[7]  Greenville Rural Cemetery (Greenville, Greene, New York);  to June Gambacorta, photocopy of office record obtained by June Gambacorta,  [address for private use], New York;  No date, Cemetery information card received via email from June Gambacorta, 18 May 2016.

[8]  “New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 23 April 2018), entry for Tucker, Jeremiah, Greenville NY; citing New York State Marriage Index, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY.

[9]   “The funeral of Mrs. Jerry Tucker. . . .”, The Greenville Local, Greenville, Greene county, New York, 22 September 1904, page unknown, column 2. “funeral on Wednesday of last week”, date 14 September 1904; digital copy sent to Susan Posten Ellerbee by June Gambacorta,  [address for private use], New York.  

[10]  New York Department of Health, “New York, Death Index, 1880-1956,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 20 June 2018), entry for Margaret A. Tucker, pg. 851; citing New York Department of Health, Albany, New York.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots Blog, 2020.

The Estate Auction – 1886

Have you ever attended an estate auction? Sometimes we buy items for personal use. Sometimes we buy items to re-sell in our antique booth. Recently, we held an estate sale for my mother-in-law who has moved in with us. Our personal family event caused me to think about its bittersweet nature.  Each item tells a story and has a memory attached to it. Many items remain with family. The money creates a small nest egg for her. In this post, I describe auctions held to settle the estate of a deceased ancestor, John E. Ellerbee, who died in 1884 at Hillsborough county, Florida.

Probate records provide the most information.  The term ‘personal estate’ includes livestock, farm implements, furniture and household goods. An appraisal estimates the value of these items. A list of items sold completes the picture.  Search local newspapers for notices about impending auctions.  These notices present clues about the person’s death and what property may have been left.   

To review, here are John’s vital statistics: Born about 1808 at Burke county, Georgia. Married first about 1830 at Houston county, Georgia to [name unknown]; 4 children born to this union- Edward Alexander, Elizabeth, William Green and James John.  Married second in 1842 at Randolph county, Georgia to Martha Love; 12 children born to this union- Sandlin, Smith R, Jasper, Damarius Emeline, Martha, Candis, Eliza, Worth (a.k.a. William?)  Marion, Isephinia, Osephinia, John Francis and Smithiann.  I wrote about John and his family in August 2019.  

John E.  Ellerbee died on 4 April 1884. Approximately two years later, 20 July 1886 to be exact, W.M.  Ellerbee filed a Bond of Administration at Hillsborough county, Florida.[1]  Why the wait before filing? Did John’s wife, Martha, die in the interim? (NOTE: Martha Ellerbee was recorded with her daughter, Eliza Ann Carter, in 1885 at Hillsborough county, Florida. [2] I have not found any record of Martha’s death.)

John Ellerbee’s probate record consists of over 100 pages. On 1 September 1886, W.M. Ellerbee petitioned the court for an ‘order to sell said property at public auction at the late residence of said deceased for cash and for the purpose of closing the settlement of said estate. . . “ The reason? “That said property is liable to perish or be worse for keeping.” [3] The “said property” included 1 yoke oxen (i.e. 2 oxen), 1 cart, 1 old wagon, carpenter’s tools and furniture.

Results of the auction?  The following list tells the story. Note the buyer’s names and the amounts paid for items.

SOURCE: "Florida, County Judge's Court (Hillsborough County)," digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 5 May 2019), entry for John Ellerbee; citing "Florida, Wills and Probate Records, 1810-1914" [database online], Florida County, District and Probate Courts; administrator: W.M. Ellerbee; File no. 73, paper no. 8.

In January, 1887, 160 acres of land owned by John sold at auction.  William M. Ellerbee bought the land for $445.00. [4] Add this to $51.80 from the personal property auction for a total of $496.80.  Expenses attributed to the estate included John’s funeral at $10.60 and “hawling oranges” for $2.00.  [5]  In 1888, seven persons received payments totalling  $195.92[6] :  

  • Administrator     $48.92
  • J.N. Ellerbee        $26.40
  • Ocea Ellerbee   $24.80
  • Eliza Carter         $24.80
  • Jay Stewart         $24. 80
  • Lewis Sparkman $24.80
  • Francis Ellerbee  $15.00

The balance due the estate was $300.88. Who received this money?  Heirs received annual payments  through 1895.[7]

Who were John’s heirs? One document (paper number 9) [8]  in the probate file revealed the names of John’s heirs:

This document listed married names of John and Martha’s six daughters as well as husband’s names for four of them. Also, this verified the residence for nine children, circa 1885-1887.

The document lists ‘residence unknown’ for two heirs – S. L. [Sandlin L. Ellerbee] and Emeline D. [Demarious] Simpson.  According to 1885 state census, Sandlin L. Ellerbee lived in Washington county, Florida. [9]  Emeline and her family are recorded as living in Jackson county, Florida in both 1880[10] and 1900[11] censuses.  For some reason, these two did not have contact with their siblings. 

SUMMARY:  John E. Ellerbee’s personal property and land sold for about $500 circa 1886-1887. Dishes sold for $1.10, a wagon for $1.20 and two oxen for $30.00.  The residence of two heirs was apparently unknown to the other siblings. Documents in the probate file revealed more information than I initially expected.


This post began as simply a review of the personal property auction. I shared other information found among the 100+ pages in the file. I am sometimes amazed at the amount of information, or lack of information, found in probate files. Since we attend auctions regularly, I was particularly interested in the pages having to do with the auction itself. These, and evidence of auctions for the estates of other ancestors, show that estate auctions are not a recent phenomenon.

I continue to add layers to each person’s story.  This post adds to the four posts I made last year about John, his wives and his family.

What I learned: Married names for John and Martha’s daughters. The importance of farm animals and farm implements to the 19th century farmer with household goods having less value. More to be learned from this probate record.

What helped: Discovery and printing of some pages last year. Creating pages for 2018 Ellerbee scrapbook. Availability of complete probate record online. 

What didn’t help: Incomplete information about several of John’s children. Not all information transcribed to RootsMagic program on my computer.  

To-do: Continue to complete Family Group Records and Research Logs.  Locate John’s land on GPS. What about the orange grove?


[1] “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 5 May 2019), entry for John Ellerbee, File no. 73; citing “Florida, Willas and Probate Records, 1810-1914” [database online], Florida County, District and Probate Courts; administrator: W.M. Ellerbee.

[2] 1885 Florida State Census, Hillsborough county, population schedule, , page 4 D (ink pen); page 105D, family 35, M. Ellerbee, age 67, boarder; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed, printed, downloaded 1 May 2019); citing Schedules of the Florida State Census of 1885, National Archives microfilm publication M845, roll 4. On same page are J.N. & Jane Ellerbee and family, LC & SM Sparkman and family.

[3] “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, File no. 73, paper no. 7.

[4] “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, File 73, paper no. 11.

[5] . “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, File 73, paper no. 12.

[6] “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, File 73, paper no. 13.

[7] “ Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, File 73, paper no. 16. Recorded in Book C of Executors, Administrators and Administration, page 158.

[8]“Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, File 73, paper no. 9.

[9]  Sandlin Ellerbee, 1885 State Census, Washington County, Florida, population schedule, , [no page number] D, dwelling 139; microfilm publication M845_13, National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

[10] 1880 U.S. Census, Jackson county, Florida, population schedule, Precinct 7, enumeration district (ED) 69, p. 8 (ink pen), dwelling 68, family 68, Samuel Simpson; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded 29 May 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C .microfilm publication T9, roll 559.

[11]  1900 U.S. Census, Jackson county, Florida, population schedule, Pleasant Hill, enumeration district (ED) 0056, sheet no. 7, dwelling 102, fa ily 103, Emeline Simpson 51; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & downloaded 28 September 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

Is Sarah’s grave marker inscription true?

A person dies and is buried or cremated. Family members place a marker at the grave.  Over time, engravings on stone markers become harder to read. Information often includes the person’s name, birth and death dates or age at time of death. Information such as ‘wife of William’ or ‘husband of Rachel’ is a bonus.  In the absence of other sources, we assume that these dates are correct. In this post, I present one case in which the death date on a marker is wrong and the discovery of that error by others and myself.

NOTE: I requested permission to use the original photograph but haven’t received approval to do so. This is a re-creation of that grave stone

Sarah Creager was born 24 December 1799 in Washington county, Kentucky, the first of eight children born to John George Creager and Margaret ‘Peggy’ Myers. [1] She married Joseph Holcomb, son of Joel Holcomb, on 30 September 1820[2], presumably at Hempstead, Arkansas. [3]  About 1843, the family moved to Texas, where three of their 12 children were born. Both Sarah and Joseph died at Cherokee county, Texas and are buried in the Holcomb cemetery at Alto, Texas. [4], [5]

Look at my re-creation of Sarah’s grave marker above.  On the original stone (as photographed for Find A Grave website), her death date is clearly marked as 1881.  However, multiple records show that she died in April, 1870. Corrected information has been posted on Find A Grave website.

I did not discover this discrepancy. Elizabeth Earl Roddy Cecil reported it on a message board in 2000. [6] Ms. Cecil wrote: “Her [Sarah Holcomb] marker has the incorrect date of death. When the family replaced the old markers, they put the same year as Joseph Holcomb’s monument instead of 1870.”

Since no source was given for the obituary, I searched for it.  I found it on PERSI (Periodical Source Index) at the Oklahoma Historical Society Library. In July 2011, I ordered and received a print copy of the relevant pages.[7]  The first paragraph reads:

“A mother of Israel has fallen.  Sister Sarah Holcomb, consort of Bro.Joseph Holcomb, and daughter of George and Margarett Creager, was born in Kentucky, December 24, 1799, joined the M.E.Church in 1819, was married September 30,1820, and died at the residence of her husband, on Box’s Creek, in Cherokee County, Texas, on the 24 day of April 1870; aged 70 years and 4 months.”

The 1870 Mortality schedule[8] confirmed the month of Sarah’s death as reported in her obituary.  

Transcription: Holcomb, Sarah, 72, F[female], W[white], M[married], Birthplace: Ky [Kentucky], month of death: April; cause of death: Consumption [a.k.a. tuberculosis].


What about census records? The 1870 census in Cherokee county apparently took place after Sarah’s death in April of that year.  Joseph Holcomb, age 74 is recorded as living with his son, J.W. [Joseph Wilson] Holcomb and his family. [9]  The 1880 census, dated 10 June, again showed Joseph, living with his son, Joseph Wilson and family. [10]  The entry included this information:  Joseph Holcomb, 84, father, widower.  Again, evidence that Sarah died before her husband.  

September 2020 provided an unexpected gift. I received a scanned copy of Sarah’s obituary, as printed in a local newspaper, from another descendant of Joseph and Sarah.[11] The circle is now complete –  from an uncertain death date to an obituary reported without a source to a secondary source and, finally,  a scanned copy of the original obituary.

SUMMARY:    Why is the grave marker date wrong? Perhaps Sarah’s grave marker was placed after Joseph’s death. Does the date represent a re-burial of her remains?  The new marker shows the dates as found on the original stones.  Corrected information has been posted to Find A Grave website but is not readily available at the Holcomb Cemetery.  Future genealogists may or may not be aware of the discrepancy.

For more information about PERSI (Periodical Source Index), read this article: https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Periodical_Source_Index_(PERSI)


This post was prompted by recent email exchanges with another descendant of Joseph Holcomb and Sarah Creager. He provided new (to me) information about one of their sons. I am saddened that descendants did not have the correct information before engraving the new stone. However, I do not find fault.  They used the information available to them at the time.

 What I learned:  Grave marker information is not always correct. Confirm information with other sources, if available.  PERSI as source of information.

What helped:  Previous information, fairly well documented, in my files. Elizabeth Cecil Roddy’s reporting of Sarah’s obituary on message board.  Online resources at Oklahoma Historical Society Library.

What didn’t help: Message board entry without source of information.

To -do:  Continue Genealogy Do-Over file clean-up on this branch of husband’s family tree.  Remember to add sources when posting to a message board!

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020


[1] “Obituaries: A mother of Israel has fallen, sister Sarah Holcomb,” Yesterdays, Journal of the Nacogdoches [Texas] Genealogical Society, vol.  19, issue 2 (September 1999): pp. 11-12.

[2] Bonner, “Obituaries: A mother of Israel has fallen, sister Sarah Holcomb,” p. 11.

[3] Twigsmmi,”Holcomb/McNally Tree,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/21361689/person/1072828512/facts:      14 September 2020), “Sarah Creager,” marriage data with no source listed.

[4] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed, printed, downloaded 10 September 2020), memorial page for Sarah ‘Sallie’ Craiger Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 75971922, citing Holcomb Cemetery (Alto, Cherokee, Texas), memorial created by Tricia the Spirit Chaser, photograph by Denise Brown Biard Ercole.

[5] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed 10 September 2020), memorial page for Joseph Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 75971827, citing Holcomb Cemetery (Cherokee county, Texas), memorial created by Tricia the Spirit Chaser, photograph by Denise Brown Biard Ercole.

[6] Elizabeth Earl Roddy Cecil, “Sarah Creager Holcomb,” Creager (aka Krieger) Discussion List, 18 July 2000 (http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/CREAGER/message/184  : accessed & printed, 16 March 2011).

[7] Bonner, “Obituaries: A mother of Israel has fallen, sister Sarah Holcomb,” p. 11.

[8] 1870 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, non-population schedule; mortality schedule, Beat 1, Sarah Holcomb age 72; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 10 September 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T1134 roll 55.

[9] 1870 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Beat 1, p. 42 (ink pen), dwelling 285, family 285, Joseph Holcomb 74; digital images, Ancestry (http;://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 9 September 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M593_1578.

[10] 1880 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct 7, enumeration district (ED) 018, p. 444C (stamp); p. 7 (ink pen), dwelling 64, family 68, Joseph Holcomb 84; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 9 September 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publication T9, roll 1295.

[11]  “A mother of Israel has fallen,” undated obituary for Sarah Crieger Holcomb, ca. 1870, from unidentified newspaper; privately held by John Taylor, [address for private use,], Jacksonville, Texas, 2020. Provenance uncertain. Scanned copy sent via email to Susan Posten Ellerbee, 6 September 2020.

Maiden Aunt(s)

Every family tree has at least one- the unmarried relative also known as a ‘maiden aunt’ or ‘bachelor uncle.’  Census records often list a woman as head of household. When the census record includes younger people, I predict that those younger persons are the woman’s children. I also tend to guess that the woman’s surname is the name of her husband, now deceased or divorced. However, this might not be true. Information about an unmarried relative still contributes to our knowledge about the family. In this post, I present one such case, Miss Jane Postens of Monroe county, Pennsylvania.

Jane Postens (1785-1861)

NOTE: This post describes process and results. Bear with me as I move forwards and backwards in time.

2012:  Printed two census records and wrote notes on 1830 census printed forms for Ann Posten in Northumberland county, Pennsylvania [1] and 1840 census for Jane Porten in Monroe county, Pennsylvania. [2] (Place note:  Monroe county formed 1836 from Northampton and Pike counties).  I dismissed Ann as the widow of Jacob Postens because Jacob died in 1831. [3] 

2015:  Printed 1850 census for Stroud Township, Monroe county, Pennsylvania –Jane Postens, age 56, born New Jersey and Elizabeth Postens, 48, born Pennsylvania. [4]  This census does not show the relationships between family members.   QUESTIONS:  What is the relationship between Jane and Elizabeth? How are they related to other Posten families in the area?  Fast forward to 2020 when I revisit these records as part of my Genealogy Do-Over.  

2020:  Begin again with the 1830 census. Smithfield, Northampton county, Pennsylvania. Ann Poston is recorded as head of household with 1 male, age 30 thru 39 and 3 females age 20 thru 29.   1840 census shows Jane Porten in Lower Smithfield, Monroe county, Pennsylvania with 1 male age 40-49 (consistent with 1830 census), 1 female 30 thru 39, 1 female 40 thru 49 and 1 female 60 thru 69.  

Recall the 1850 census records for Jane and Elizabeth Postens in Monroe county, Pennsylvania.  Information is both consistent and inconsistent  with earlier records.  A more recent find of 1860 census[5] also revealed inconsistencies with other data. (See table).  Can the evidence be reconciled?

TABLE 1: Comparison of census data, 1830 to 1860

I discovered a death notice for Jane.  Published in a Monroe county newspaper dated February 7, 1861, the notice reads:  

DIED. At Priceburg, in Price Township, on the 3d inst., Miss Jane Postens, aged 75 years, 9 months and 17 days.”

The Jeffersonian (Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania), 7 February 1861, page 2, “DIED. At Priceburg. . . Miss Jane Postens:” imaged at Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com:   viewed & printed, 9 May 2020).

Jane Postens, indeed, never married. If her reported age in death notice is correct, then her birth date calculates to 16 April 1785.  This date is consistent with only one of the four cited census records  – 1860.  I do not dispute New Jersey as her birthplace.  I believe that Elizabeth and Jane, as reported in 1850 and 1860, are the same persons even with the discrepancies in reported ages. I haven’t yet found more information about Elizabeth but have a clue about the male living with them in 1830 and 1840.

An adult male was not listed as head of household in 1830 or 1840. This suggests that the male in the household was incapacitated in some way. Again, I refer to an 1850 census record.  William Postens, age 56, listed as ‘insane and pauper’, residing with Henry and Caroline Row in Smithfield, Monroe, Pennsylvania. [6]  I believe that he is the male recorded in 1830 and 1840 censuses, aged 30 thru 39 and 40 thru 49, respectively.  Is he related to Henry or Caroline? Is he, perhaps, brother to Jane and Elizabeth?  


One maiden aunt, Miss Jane Postens, born 1785 in New Jersey and died 1861 in Monroe county, Pennsylvania.  Questions remain about her parentage and relationship to Elizabeth and/or William. I still know so little about her.

Another maiden aunt story for you: https://climbingmyfamilytree.blogspot.com/2018/01/family-history-lesson-from-my-maiden.html


Well, at least one question has been answered – Jane Postens never married.  As usual, new questions arose and only a few answers found.

What helped:  Printouts and my notes already in files. Creating table to compare information.

What didn’t help:  Notes with no dates.  Not sure which family tree I attached this to.

To-Do:  Continue searches for more information about Elizabeth Postens, William Postens, Henry and Caroline Row. Create research logs for each person with comprehensive notes.  Look at neighbors on each census as possible clues to relationships.  Search 1820 census in Northampton county for females between ages of 10 and 20 years. Move these items to BSO list for now.  

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020


[1] 1830 U.S. Census, Northampton county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Smithfield, page 218, line 20, Ann Poston, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 9 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M19, roll 156.

[2] 1840 U.S. Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Lower Smithfield, page 331, line 23, Jane Porten [Posten], Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 9 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M704..

[3] William Henry Egle, editor, Notes and Queries: Historical, Biographical and Genealogical: relating chiefly to interior Pennsylvania. [ Fourth Series], 2 vols. (1893; Reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1970), 1: pages 183-184, entry for “Northampton county in the Revolution. Newspaper Notes and Sketches. V. [Obituary, Jacob Postens]”.

[4] 1850 U.S. Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Stroud Township, page 106A (stamp), dwelling 270, family 270, Jane Postens, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 9 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M432_798.

[5] . 1860 U.S. Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Price, page 696 (stamp). Sheet 80 (ink pen), dwelling 540, family 516, Jane Postens, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 1 June 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M653.

[6] 1850 U.S. Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Smithfield, page 126A (stamp), dwelling 552, family 552, Henry Row, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 1 June 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M432, roll 798.

Momma moves in

A parent moves in with one of the children. Generally, the move comes after their spouse dies. Safety and/or health reasons often precipitate the move.  Other times, financial well-being is a major consideration. Loneliness can be another factor.  Any combination of these or other reasons occur.  Genealogists look for residence patterns. Does the older person stay with one child or appear in different homes? What prompts the move to one place or another? These are the family stories to be explored and told.  In this post, I give two examples from our family tree.

Census and other records show an older person living with a younger person. When there are 20 or more years difference in ages, we often guess that the older person is a parent of the older relative. Did the older person move in with the younger person? Did the younger person move in with the older person?  What factors determined the action?

EXAMPLE #1: Unmarried child as designated caregiver for older parent

Wright Roswell Ellerbee, born in 1875, was 6th of seven children born to James John Ellerbee and his 2nd wife, Elizabeth Hayes. James John died in December 1877[1], leaving his wife with 6 children and her aging parent, Moses Hayes in Georgia. [2]  Within a few years, Elizabeth joined her stepson, William Green Ellerbee, in Cherokee county, Texas.  The 1900 census [3] shows 24-year-old Will [Wright] R. Ellesbee [Ellerbee] as head of household with his mother, 58-year-old Elizabeth and his brother, Asa, age 23.  Next door lived  Wright’s brother, James Walter Ellerbee, and his family.

Roles reversed for the next census. E. Ellerbee, widow, is now listed as head of household with Wright, her 35-year-old son. [4]  Again, the two brothers, Wright and James, lived close to each other.  Elizabeth died in 1917.[5]  Wright continued to live with his brother, James Walter Ellerbee, until Wright’s marriage about 1934 to Effie Susan Wesley.[6]  Wright delayed marriage while his mother was living and did not marry until he was in his 50s. Wright died in Cherokee county, Texas in December 1940 at the age of 65. [7]

Wright Roswell Ellerbee was the only unmarried child. Did he remain single from a sense of responsibility for his widowed mother?  He lived with his brother, James, for about 15 years after the death of their mother.

EXAMPLE #2:  Parents living with child, widow remains with same child

Mary Ann Selman Holcomb, age 64 and her husband, 79-year-old George Creager Holcomb, were recorded as living with their son, Garrett, in 1900.[8]  After George’s death in 1902, [9]  Mary Ann remained with Garrett, his wife, Minnie, and their seven children according to the 1910 census.  [10]  Presumbly, Mary Ann lived with Garret until her death in 1913 in Cherokee county, Texas. [11]

When did Mary Ann and George move in with Garrett? Garrett married about 1892. He and Minnie may have moved in with his parents or vice versa.  George’s advancing age likely determined this living arrangement .  Was Garrett living on the family homestead or in the family home? Did George and Mary have a closer relationship with Garrett than other children? Answers to these questions remain speculative. A will, probate file and cause of death for George Creager Holcomb may give clues.

I recall seeing other examples on our family trees, such as:  

  • Adult child moves in with parent after death of other parent. Sometimes this child was a widow or widower, with or without children.
  • After death of spouse, remaining parent moves in with child
  • Widow/ widower moves from home of one child to home of another child


My examples give only the barest facts.  I plan to expand on these facts later.  To tell the story, follow journalistic guidelines and search widely:

  1. Who is the parent? Who is the child? Is the child oldest, youngest or in-between? Later census records show relationship between the head of household and others. In some cases, a parent is listed as a ‘boarder’.  An older person with a different surname is most likely to  be the wife’s parent but could be a relative of either spouse.
  2. What reason is suggested for the move? What is the child’s marital status? What are the ages of both the parent and child?
  3. When did the move occur? Estimate the time frame. Look for those wonderful newspaper tidbits – “Mrs. Mary Jones visited her daughter, Wilma Stone, this weekend then returned to her home in Wabash where she lives with her son, Phillip.” Obituaries give clues – “Mrs. Mary Jones died yesterday at the home of her son, Philip, where she had been living for the past 5 years.”
  4. Where were both parent and child living before the move? Where are they living now? Look for similar addresses.
  5. Why did the move occur? Consider elderly parent’s age, declining health, no longer being able to work, financial status. Look for cause of death as reported on death certificate as a clue. Is the child the only one still living on the family farm or in the family home? Consider this clue- “The daughters of Philip Jones are the 4th generation to live in the family home.”
  6. How did the move occur? Was it a fairly simple matter of moving some furniture from one place to another place in the same community? What type of transportation would have been used – wagon, car, truck, train, other?  Consider the effort of downsizing and the effects on the whole family.

In summary, look beyond the basic facts of an elderly person, or other relative, living with a younger person. If the census does not give relationships, consider whether the older person is really the parent of the younger person. Delve deeper into these stories to enrich your family’s story.  Even a best guess may have some truth in it!

For additional information about writing a story, read this article: How to write like a journalist


The topic for this post came as we prepare a room in our home for my mother-in-law. My father-in-law died last year. Since then, my mother-in-law requires more help to care for her home.  She maintains most of her self-care.  Social isolation associated with Corona virus accelerated her decision. Yes, my mother-in-law and I get along. Both of my parents are deceased.

As usual, as I write for my blog, I make progress on cleaning up paper and digital files. Five census records, 3 cemetery records, 2 marriage records, 1 death record done and 100s to go! This post helps me to do more than simply recite facts.  

What I learned:  Aging parents living with children was not uncommon. In one case, the parent lived with a different child over a 30-year period (3 decennial censuses). I have to look through all of my files to find that one again!  I realize that there is more to each story than what the census records tell.

What helped:  family tree with names and dates already recorded. Sources listed for facts.

What didn’t help:  Incomplete citations.  Not all information in the records had been transcribed to computer-based family tree.  

TO-DO:  Include living arrangements and my best guess in notes.  Write stories that go beyond the facts. Begin journal about current move.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020


[1] Ronald William Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History (Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, Inc., 1986), pp. 14-42 & 14-43.

[2] 1880 U.S. Census, Early Co, Georgia, pop. sch., Damascus, enumeration district (ED) 026, p. 214A, family #, Elizabeth Eleby; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded, printed 4 September 2011); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. NARA Roll 144..

[3] 1900 U.S. Census, Cherokee County, Texas, pop. sch., Justice Pct 8, enumeration district (ED) 30, p. 284A (printed), Family #22, Wright Ellerbee (head); digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com  : downloaded & printed 4 September 2011); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Roll: T623_1619..

[4] 1910 U.S. Census, Cherokee County, Texas, pop. sch., , enumeration district (ED) 24, p. 14B, family #272, E. Ellerbee, head; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : downloaded 2012); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., Microfilm publication T624_1619.

[5] Find a Grave. Elizabeth Ellerbee. Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed 8 August 2020), memorial page for Elizabeth A Hayes Ellerbee, Find A Grave Memorial # 35222677, citing Mount Hope Cemetery (Wells, Cherokee, Texas), memorial created by Wanda Karr Ellerbee, photograph by Wanda Karr Ellerbee..

[6] Marriage of Wright Roswell Ellerbee to Effie Susan Wesley estimated from 1940 Census showing Wright, wife Effie and son, Omar Lee, age 5.

[7] Texas Death Index. “Texas Death Index, 1903-2000,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 8 August 2020), entry for Ellerbee, Wright Roswell; citing Texas Department of Health, State Vital Statistics Unit, Austin, TX.; page 7166, certificate no. 54106.

[8]  1900 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Alto, enumeration district (ED) 20, p. 13A, dwelling 221, family 227, George Holcomb age 79; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 August 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T623_1619.

[9]  Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed 8 August 2020), memorial page for George Creager Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 32434400, citing Shiloh Cemetery (Alto, Cherokee, Texas), memorial created by Susan Harnish, photograph by Denise Brown Biard Ercole.

[10]  1910 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Alto, enumeration district (ED) 0014, p. 20A, dwelling 367, family 371, Mary Ann Holcomb age 74; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 August 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publication T624_1538.

[11]  Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : accessed 8 August 2020), memorial page for Mary Ann Selman Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 01196611 , citing Shiloh Cemetery (Alto, Cherokee, Texas), memorial created by Judy Murphy, photograph by Judy Murphy.

Who’s the Daddy (of Thomas Postens)?

My brother and I have an ongoing debate. Who is Thomas Postens’ father? My brother believes that his name is William. I believe that his name is Richard.  Thomas is our earliest known ancestor. Born in New Jersey in 1782, Thomas died and is buried in Pennsylvania. This post summarizes evidence for both sides of the debate.

Thomas Postens was born near Englishtown, Monmouth County, New Jersey on 14 July 1782.  Three sources support this assertion.  First, a 1908 newspaper article about Posten family reunion reported this information. [1] The history was compiled by John Posten, grandson of Thomas Postens and son of James Posten, Thomas’ youngest son. This is a secondary source with indirect information.  Second, the 1850 census shows Thomas Postens in Hamilton, Monroe county, Pennsylvania. [2] This primary source shows Thomas’ age as 68 (consistent with birth year about 1782) and birthplace as New Jersey.  The information is possibly direct, i.e. reported by Thomas to the census taker.  Third, Thomas’ gravestone in the Friends Burial Ground at Stroudsburg, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, is engraved with his birth and death dates. [3]  The assertion about Thomas’ birth at New Jersey in 1782 is, therefore, certainly true. The exact township and county of his birth are apparently true.   

With this information, I pose my first question:  Did Richard Postens and/or William Postens live in New Jersey in the 1780s?  Evidence was found in tax records for New Jersey dating from 1780. [4] (Note: I recorded names as spelled on the records). Specifically,

  • Records for Richard:
    • 1780 – Richard Paeston, Newark Township, Essex county, New Jersey
    • 1780 – Richrd Posten, Freehold Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey
    • 1781 & 1782 – Richard Postens Freehold Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey
    • 1784, 1785, 1786- Richard Postins, Freehold Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey
    • 1789- Richard Postens, Freehold Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey
    • 1790- Richard Postins, Freehold Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey
  • Records for William:
    • 1779 – William Postens, Dover Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey
    • 1781, 1782, 1784, 1785, 1786, 1789-  William Postens, Freehold Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey

Another contender, Charles Postens, also paid taxes in Monmouth county, New Jersey in 1779, 1781 and 1782. This man was ruled out as Thomas’ father based on the Revolutionary War Pension application[5], filed by his wife, Hannah in 1842. In her statement, Hannah reported one son, “born just previous to the breaking out of the war whose name was William who died in the City of Philadelphia sometime in the winter of 1809 and left a widow whose name was Mary Postens.”

Analysis:  Both Richard Postens and William Postens lived in Monmouth county, New Jersey, circa 1782, the date of Thomas’ birth.  Freehold, New Jersey, and Englishtown, New Jersey, are about 10 miles apart.

Question 2: Where did Richard Postens and William Postens live in 1790?

According to New Jersey tax records, Richard remained in or near Freehold, New Jersey.  The 1790 U.S. Census shows William Poste in Bucks county, Pennsylvania. [6]  The record lists one free white male under 16, one free white male 16 and over and 4 free white females.  Birth year estimate for the younger male is between 1774 and 1790 and the older male was born before 1774.  A similar census record for Richard has not been found. 

Analysis:  William Postens in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, circa 1790, had a son born between 1774 and 1790.  William’s former residence is not known from this record.  Richard Postens still lived in New Jersey in 1790.

Question 3:  Where did Richard Postens and William Postens live in 1800?

The 1800 U.S. census shows Richard Postens in Lower Smithfield, Northampton county, Pennsylvania. [7] The family consisted of: one male under 10, 1 male aged 10 thru 15, one male aged 16 thru 25, one male 45 and over, 1 female under 10, 1 female 10 thru 15, one female 16 thru 25, and one female 26 thru 44.  Birth year for male, aged 16 thru 25, calculates as between 1775 and 1784.

William Posty is listed in the 1800 census for Springfield, Bucks county, Pennsylvania.[8] This family consists of one male, aged 10 thru 15 (birth years 1795-1790), one male aged 16 thru 25 (birth years 1775-1784), 2 females aged 16 thru 25 (birth years 1775-1784) and 1 female aged 45 and over (birth before 1755).  With no males born before 1774, this William Posty is definitely not the same person as William Postens recorded on the 1790 census. Since only heads of household were recorded, the oldest male is probably William.

Analysis: Richard Postens in Northampton county, Pennsylvania, circa 1800, had a son born between 1775 and 1784. William Posty, age between 16 and 25, is probably the head of a household in Bucks county, Pennsylvania. That William is the son of William Postens from 1790 census is plausible but needs to be tested.

Conclusion:  Based on these records, neither Richard Postens nor William Postens can be ruled out as father of our Thomas Postens.  Both men apparently lived at Monmouth county, New Jersey, reported birthplace of Thomas, in the early 1780s. Census records suggest that both men had a son born between 1774 and 1790.  A search of New Jersey Quaker records may yield new information.

ADDENDUM: A few other records hold clues but don’t seem to answer the question of Thomas’ parentage. Marriage records of the Dutch Reformed Church at Monmouth county, New Jersey indicate a 1770 marriage for Richard Prest and Jenny Van Der Rype and a 1771 marriage for Wm Posty to Anne Coovort.  [9]  From the New Jersey Index of Wills, William Postens Jr died in 1794 leaving his wife, Anney, as administratix. [10] Is this the same William Posty who married Anne Coovort in 1771? Is this the same William Postens who paid taxes in Monmouth County from 1779 through 1789?  Could this couple, William and Anne, be Thomas’ parents?  Is it possible that our Thomas migrated to Pennsylvania with a relative? If so, did he live with a Postens family or another family? All of these are intriguing questions.


I have gone over these records multiple times. I keep searching online databases for new information.  I am beginning to think that only a trip to Monmouth county, New Jersey, would yield new information.  I seem to be no nearer the truth than I was 10 years ago.

What I learned:  I was so certain that Richard had to be Thomas’ father!  The evidence is not clear. Either Richard or William could be Thomas’ father. Consider also that Thomas’ father could be another person entirely!

What helped: extensive records and notes in both paper and digital files. As usual, writing the post put things into perspective.

What didn’t help:  scattered notes, undated items.

To-do:  Keep looking! Keep detailed, extensive notes. Date each item as I find it.  Review files periodically.


[1] “Posten Family Reunion,” The Wilkes-Barre Record, 11 September 1908; online images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed & printed 18 August 2017).

[2]. 1850 U.S. Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Hamilton, p. 17B, dwelling 220, family 220, Thomas Portons [Postens]; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed, downloaded, printed 1 July 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M432_798.

[3]. Friends Burial Ground (Stroudsburg, Monroe, Pennsylvania), Thomas Postens, stone marker; photographed by Jerry L. Ellerbee, 14 August 2017.

[4] “New Jersey, Compiled Census and Census substitutes Index, 1643-1890, “ database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  :  accessed  8 June 2020). Entries for Richard Postens, William Postens, William Poste and Charles Postens.

[5]. “Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files,” , database with images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com  :  accessed 1 July 2020), Charles Postens, New Jersey, W3157; citing Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 – ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 – ca. 1900, National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M804, roll 1957.

[6] 1790 U.S. Census, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, no town given, page 112, line 5, William Pofte[Poste]; digital images, Ancestry ( http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 30 January 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M637, roll 8.

[7] 1800 U.S. Census, Northampton county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Lower Smithfield, p. 618, line 24, Richard Postens; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 29 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M32, roll 37.

[8].1800 U.S. Census, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Springfield, page 282, image 124, line 22, William Posty; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed 13 June 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M32, roll 282.

[9] Holland Society of New York,  “U.S. Dutch Reformed Church Records in Selected States, 1639-1989: Freehold and Middletown, Part 1, Book 61A,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & printed 29 March 2020), pg. 270, entry 111, Richard Prest to Jenny Von Der Rype; citing Dutch Reformed Church Records from New York and New Jersey, The Archives of the Reformed Church in America, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

[10] “New Jersey, Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 July 2020), pg. 287, entry for 1794, Oct. 18. Postens, William, Jr.; citing New Jersey, Published Archive Series, First Series (Trenton, New Jersey: John L. Murphy Publishing: no date); New Jersey State Archives.

A different standard for remembering Union and Confederate veterans?

“The ladies. . . decided to lay a few stems for those men, too, in recognition not of a fallen Confederate or a fallen Union soldier, but a fallen American.”  –

President Barack Obama, 2010 Memorial Day Address, relating an event in 1866 when women of Columbus, Mississippi, laid flowers on graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers.

“It is estimated that one in three Southern households lost at least one family member.”

“Civil War Casualties: The Cost of War: Killed, Wounded, Captured and Missing,” American Battlefield Trust : accessed 9 July 2020.

Yes, soldiers on both sides were Americans. Each side carried a different flag. So, why can’t we honor each one with the appropriate flag?  Our family tree has both Union and Confederate soldiers in it.  I feel that recent protestors want us to forget our Confederate ancestors. We can’t change our ancestry. We can’t change the choices they made. We can try to understand the societal and historical events that shaped their lives. I believe that history lessons should include both good and bad as well as divergent viewpoints.  This post is my reaction to current events.

The protests began as a reaction to the death of George Floyd and police brutality. Demands for removing statues of Confederate soldiers and slave holders increased. Protestors spray painted statues and physically removed others.  Even a statue of George Washington, our nation’s first President and a slave holder, was not exempt. Protestors seemed to ignore history as they defaced a statue of an abolitionist.

History typically relates the broad picture and tells about the people who influenced that history.  Stories of the common people ( i.e., those whose lives were directly and indirectly influenced by those in power) are less often told.  In my opinion, our job, as genealogists, is to tell the stories of those common people, our ancestors and their families.

Read this heartfelt article, published in 2017:  George Burrell, “Confederate and Union Flags of the Civil War,  Century City News (Los Angeles, California), 21 August 2017,  (http://centurycity.news/confederate-and-union-flags-of-the-civil-war-p971-211.htm

In response to someone else’s blog, one person noted that only a few of her 3X great-grandfathers actually fought for the Confederacy.  One of my 8 great-great grandfathers served in the Union Army.  For my husband, two of his 8 great-great grandfathers and one of his 16 great-great-great grandfathers served in the Confederate Army.  Many more in both family trees were of any age to fight. My sons carry genes from persons who supported both sides of the conflict.

According to the American Battlefield Trust  (https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/civil-war-casualties), there were 1,089,119 Confederate soldiers. Of those, 490,309 were reported as killed, wounded, captured or missing.  Millions of Americans are descended from these soldiers. Now, some people want to prevent the simple act of placing a flag on a veteran’s grave.  Denying this right sends the message that Confederate veterans are not worthy of being honored for their sacrifice.

Some demand the removal of statues, memorials and other reminders of the Confederacy as these are seen as symbols of slavery, racial segregation and white supremacy.  One example of this view is Senator Elizabeth Warren’s recent proposal. Read this press release. Posted 30 June 2020:  “Warren delivers floor speech on her amendment to rename all bases and other military assets honoring the Confederacy,” Elizabeth Warren website (https://www.warren.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/warren-delivers-floor-speech-on-her-amendment-to-rename-all-bases-and-other-military-assets-honoring-the-confederacy  :    accessed 2 July 2020).

An NBC journalist presented the opposite view: Sophia A. Nelson, “Don’t take down Confederate monuments. Here’s why.” Posted 1 june 2017, NBC News (https://www.nbcnews.com/think/news/opinion-why-i-feel-confederate-monuments-should-stay-ncna767221 : accessed 2 July 2020).

How will our descendants look at the current events a hundred years from now? Will we be lauded for our efforts? Will we be criticized? Will our descendants even know about the Civil War and its controversies? Will our descendants be aware of the multiple perspectives surrounding the current debate?

My hopes for the future?  I DON’T WANT my descendants to be ashamed of their Southern heritage. I DON’T WANT my descendants to judge their ancestors’ choices based on current values and belief systems. I DO WANT my descendants to have the freedom to acknowledge that they have ancestors who fought in the Confederacy. I DO WANT my descendants to relate circumstances that created the rift between Northern and Southern states. I DO WANT my descendants to recognize the values and beliefs that guided their ancestors’ choices.  I DO WANT my descendants to compare and contrast the various perspectives surrounding current 21st century issues. I DO WANT my descendants to have the freedom to honor their Confederate ancestors by placing a Confederate flag on the graves of those ancestors.  In short, I DO WANT my descendants to remember the history of the Civil War and that soldiers on both sides fought for a cause that they believed in.  In the same way, I DO WANT my descendants to recall that, in 2020, people held differing beliefs about how the United States should remember those who fought in the Confederacy and the Union.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots Blog, 2020.

Connecting the dots: Posten families

Remember dot-to-dot pictures?  Each dot has a number, letter of the alphabet or other logical system for you to follow.  The dots don’t appear to make sense at first. However, when you connect the dots correctly, a picture emerges.  My current genealogy research efforts seem like that. Each piece of information is a dot. All I have to do is go to the next logical dot and a family picture will emerge. But, the dots don’t always present themselves in a logical manner. Dots are missing. The resulting picture looks more like a scribbled mess. In this post, I describe the status of my Posten files. Think of each file as a dot on the overall picture.

Early in my research, I discovered several published genealogies of Poston families. These narratives outlined Poston families who originated in Pennsylvania but subsequently moved south. One author even stated: “There are no Postons listed in the Pennsylvania census for that year [1790] .” [1]   While that may be true, families with a similar surname, Posten (my maiden name) and its variations, lived in Pennsylvania from 1790 on.  Are the Poston families and Posten families connected? I am not sure and keep an open mind.

Summary of my Posten files:
  1. Dad’s direct ancestral line. I can trace our branch of the Posten family from Dad to Thomas Postens, born 1782 at New Jersey and died 1854 at Monroe county, Pennsylvania. Census records, birth and death certificates prove the lineage. With few exceptions, Dad’s family, including Dad’s siblings, lived in Pennsylvania from the 1800s to the present. I am working on collateral lines. In August, 2017, my husband and I visited the graves of Thomas and his wife, Esther Brown at Friends Burial Ground in Stroudsburg, Monroe county, Pennsylvania. [2] 
  2. New Jersey Posten families. Posten men paid taxes in New Jersey in the 1780s and 1790s. [3]  I believe that at least two of those men – Richard Postens and William Postens- moved to Bucks county, Pennsylvania by 1800. [4], [5]  Either one, or another man, could be Thomas’ father.  Samuel Posten, born about 1794, has been identified as progenitor of a Posten family which still resides in Monmouth county, New Jersey. [6] 
  3. Jacob Postens and Anne Burson.  Jacob, born about 1755 In New Jersey, identified as our family’s ancestor by an elderly aunt. [7]  When I wanted to join the Daughters of the American Revolution, I pursued this assertion but found it to be false.  Dad’s family is definitely NOT descended from Jacob and Anne. Given Jacob’s reported birthplace of New Jersey, my Posten family and Jacob’s family could still be related.
  4. Elihu Posten family.  Elihu lived in Monroe county, Pennsylvania in the early 1800s. (Note: Recall that Thomas Postens died in Monroe county).  Elihu’s first wife was Eleanor Transue and they had nine children.  Eleanor died in 1841 and Elihu married Elizabeth Eilenberger about 1842.  They had two children.  William Posten, son of Elihu and Elizabeth, moved to Wisconsin. [8]  Elihu and our Thomas could be brothers.
  5. Benjamin Avery Posten (1839, Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania – 1905, Pulaski county, Missouri).  A chance meeting between Dad and one of Benjamin’s descendants led me to search for this family.  The genealogy from Benjamin through the 20th century is fairly clear. Researchers differ as to the identity of Benjamin’s parents.
  6. Posten families in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. I started this file as supplement to Benjamin Avery Posten’s file.  Names from the early to mid-1800s include, among others, Cornelius Posten, Peter Posten and several men named William Posten. Research on these families is ongoing.  Relationships are still tentative.
  7. James Posten and Rhoda Shaffer, Iowa.  James Posten (1790, Pennsylvania –           ) [9]  I believe that James is the son of Peter Posten, found in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania in 1800 and 1810.  Both Peter and James were recorded next to each other on Licking county, Ohio, census in 1820.  [10]  Five of James and Rhoda’s six children were born in Ohio.  Earlier this year, I was contacted by a descendant of James and Rhoda but we don’t share any DNA.  On some online trees, James Posten of Iowa is mistakenly identified as son of Jacob Postens and Anne Burson. Jacob and Anne had a son named James but he never left Pennsylvania.
  8. Miscellaneous Posten families. This file contains a mix of records for persons with Posten surname in various places including Indiana, Kansas and Kentucky.  I haven’t followed up on any of these.

Are any of the Posten families named above related to Dad’s family? That question, my friends, is unanswered.  Each file contains multiple dots (i.e. discrete pieces of information such as census records, BMD certificates, wills, letters, etc.).  For some files, the picture is emerging nicely. In other files, it’s still a scribbled mess.


This post summarizes personal research on my Posten line.  I wrote it as a ‘note to self’ type memorandum as I veer off in other directions.  When I come to a hurdle for one person or family, I put it aside and move on.  My 2012 Posten history now seems vary amateurish and incomplete. I was definitely a novice and amateur genealogist when I wrote it!  I have a lot more information now about each family.  As far as revising 2012 Posten history, I am stuck on Thomas and finding his parents.

What I learned:  I have made good progress for some families, not so much for others. Goal of revising my 2012 Posten history led me to re-open files and look more critically at what I have.  My analysis and research skills have improved over the years.  Take extensive notes about searches, findings and initial analysis. Research logs are a must!

What helped:   paper and digital files for each family group, including family trees in RootsMagic.

What didn’t help:  Items in files with no idea about source. Incomplete source information. Sources that seem to have disappeared. Minimal and/or no research logs. Items not organized in any meaningful way. But, I guess that’s the way many of us start – copy an item and file it, organize later.

To-do:  Record notes about searches and results. Continue to create research logs. Organize individual items in each file by family group or category—lots of paper clips! Continue revision of 2012 Posten history but leave chapter on Thomas for now.


[1] Erma Poston Landers, A Poston Family of South Carolina:  Its Immigrant Ancestor and some of his descendants:  A Family Genealogy (Atlanta, Georgia:  Erma Poston Landers [Lake City, South Carolina], 1965].  Digital copy accessed & printed, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : 24 March 2010), page 5.

[2] Friends Burial Ground (Stroudsburg, Monroe, Pennsylvania), markers for Thomas Postens and Esther Postens; personally read, August 2017.

[3] “New Jersey, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1643-1890, database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  :  accessed multiple dates, May and June, 2020); citing Ronald V. Jackson, Accelerated Indexing Systems, “New Jersey Census, 1643-1890,”, data from microfilmed records including indexes to 1772-1822 tax list.

[4] Richard Postens, 1800 census. 1800 U.S. Census, Northampton county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Lower Smithfield, p. 618, line 24, Richard Postens; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & downloaded 29 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M32, roll 37.

[5] William Postens, 1790 census at Bucks county. 1790 U.S. Census, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, no town given, page 112, line 5, William Pofte [Poste]; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 30 January 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publicaiton M637, roll 8.

[6] Personal correspondence with [Name withheld for privacy], Monmouth county, New Jersey, circa 1990s.

[7] Typewritten genealogy, Posten family tradition regarding lineage of John Posten to Jacob Posten (b 1755) as reported by Ruby Gardiner, granddaughter of Daniel Posten & Phoebe Fulkerson to Vera Posten Brooks, ca. 1989; privately held by Ellerbee, [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma. Copy sent by Ms. Brooks to Ms. Ellerbee about 1990.

[8] Wisconsin, son of Elihu and Elizabeth. 1880 U.S. Census, Grant county, Wisconsin, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 116, Millville, p. 243A, dwelling 6, family 6, William Poston [Posten] ; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com    : accessed 22 June 2020 ); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 1427.

[9] Susan Posten Ellerbee, James Posten-Rhoda Shaffer Family Group Sheet, Family charts and Group Sheets, privately held by Ellerbee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Yukon, Canadian, Oklahoma. In vertical file, “Iowa Posten Family”, data collected circa 2000-2020.

[10] 1820 U.S. Census, Licking county, Ohio, population schedule, Franklin, page 21, image 35, line 10, Peter Posten, line 11, James Posten; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : viewed 12 June 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication, M33_94.

Midyear review, June 2020

Time for midyear review of my 2020 genealogy goals. My overall assessment?  Distracted. Minimal focus. Why? Multiple factors but nothing specific. I feel like I am in a rut. I have run out of steam to complete various projects.  Due to possible impact of Corona virus? We are blessed that none of our immediate family here have been directly affected. One of my second cousins, who lives in another state, contracted the virus but isolated at home. An elderly relative suffered other health problems and the doctor deferred hospitalization due to Corona virus.  She required 24/7 in-home care for several weeks.  

I feel overwhelmed by the constant negative reports on the news. Perhaps that negativity bubbles over into my genealogy work?  I continue to do some genealogy every day but lack momentum. Current work seems rote and routine – complete family group records, create and fill in research logs, clean up paper and digital files. Yet, these tasks are necessary to leave a coherent trail.

As I review my 2020 goals, I have made progress. I completed some goals quickly- copying BMD certificates from a Posten relative and responding to cousin requests for Tucker family.  I sent my DNA to a third company based on request from a possibly related Posten descendant with Pennsylvania ties. Result? No shared DNA. But, we are still hopeful for a common ancestor!   

Family cookbook project is almost done. So far, about 1/3 of total recipes are desserts. Shows obvious preference of our family and friends!

I received death certificate for Mom’s great grandmother, Anna Wolf Klee Mϋller/ Miller.  Anna died in 1883 at New York City. I plan to write a blog post about the process and information on that certificate. Two death certificate requests, both from New York, are still pending. New York state has so many other issues than responding to genealogical requests!  Because of Corona virus, I will defer making any more requests this year.  

I started work (again!) on revising Posten history, initially written in 2012. Last year, I took an online genealogy writing course and revised outline for book. I realized how sketchy much of the information is. I am still looking for Thomas Postens in 1830 and 1840. This entails page-by-page search of those census records because Ancestry and Family Search yield no hints, even when I use variations and asterisks. No results found in Northampton, Monroe or Pike counties, Pennsylvania. Expanding search to nearby counties- Bucks, Chester, Luzerne, Wayne.  I carefully document my search efforts and results.

I admit to following some rabbit trails in this search. I found some leads about Richard Postens and William Postens, either of whom could be Thomas’ father.  I may have found three daughters of Richard Postens – Elena (baptized 1774), Jane (born 1785) and Elizabeth (born circa 1795-1802).

Last week,  I followed a rabbit trail for Cornelius Postens who lived in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. Huntingdon county is in western part of the state. Cornelius was born about 1778 in Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Rachel, had at least three children- John, James and Charles. Cornelius died about 1852. I am still piecing their story together. The Huntingdon County branch could be related to Dad’s family.  

I am keeping a personal Corona Virus diary that I do not plan to publish. Daily entries have been reduced to once a week, or even less. I scanned and added articles from our local newspaper.  Perhaps one of my descendants will find it interesting.  I will probably print it and place with other personal papers at some point in the future.

To review, perhaps I have made more progress than I thought. My initial feeling of inertia is gradually being replaced by slow and steady.  Daily research efforts aren’t totally without focus but have been scattered between different families. My original set of 26 goals now seems too ambitious.  I continue to forge ahead.

As usual, writing my blog post helped. I see where I’ve been and the progress that I’ve made.  Emotionally, I still feel overwhelmed but less so. What did I learn from this reflection?

  • Recognize the challenges to identify family members who lived in late 1700s and early 1800s. 
  • Re-focus, set a specific research goal for each session.
  • Work in short spurts – maybe only 20-30 minutes at a time instead of hours! 
  • Keep extensive notes.
  • Review information already in files before each session (i.e., avoid duplication).  
  • When a specific goal seems unattainable or gets me bogged down, take a break then work on another question.

Apparently, others are experiencing similar issues.  Read Thomas MacEntee’s “10 Ways to Jumpstart Your Genealogy”, posted 4 June 2020. https://genealogybargains.s3.amazonaws.com/10+Ways+to+Jumpstart+Your+Genealogy.pdf

Blog posts that I found helpful:

Amy Johnson Crow, “Avoiding distractions in our genealogy”, blog post, 19 August 2019, Modern Genealogy Made Easy  (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/avoiding-distractions-genealogy/  :    accessed 4 May 2020).

Amy Johnson Crow, “Genealogy Research:  The WANDER Method,” blog post, 17 January 2020, Modern Genealogy Made Easy  (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/genealogy-research-process-wander-method/  :  accessed 4 May 2020).

“The Shiny Object Syndrome in Genealogy and How to Cure It,” blog post, 28 January 2019, Family History Foundation (https://familyhistoryfoundation.com/2019/01/28/shiny-object-syndrome-in-genealogy-how-to-cure-it/  : accessed 8 June 2020).

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

In memory: William Posten, gunner, died ca 1779

Private William Posten died during the Revolutionary War.  ‘William Posten (gunner), dead’ is listed on the rolls of Captain Willing’s company of marines, who served from January 1778 to June 1779. [1]  What is his story?

William’s story is also the story of the United States Marine Corps.  Did you know that USMC traces its history back to the American Revolution? The Continental Marines protected ship captains and officers among other duties. One author described these men as “half soldier and half-sailor”[2]  The Continental Marines formally existed from November 1775 to 1783. In 1798, the service branch was re-created as the United States Marine Corps.

Captain James Willing’s story must also be told.  James Willing belonged to a prominent Philadelphia family. He received a commission “through the influence of his brother, Thomas, and a close friend, Robert Morris.”[3] Drawing soldiers from Fort Pitt (current day Pittsburgh),  Captain Willing’s orders included travel down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to deliver supplies and win assistance of persons who lived on the east bank, then return to Fort Pitt.  A boat named Rattletrap, with Captain Willing and 34 men, left Fort Pitt on 10 January 1778 and arrived at Natchez in February.  Continuing to New Orleans, the journey was marked by looting goods, stealing slaves and burning property of British sympathizers along the way. The marines returned up the Mississippi “under Lieutenant Roger George in order to join General George Rogers Clark in the Illinois territory, while Willing himself departed by sea for the east.” (Smith & Waterhouse, 1975).  William Posten, gunner, was killed during the journey.

Map provided courtesy of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. United States, ca 1796. Call no. X912.13c18a. “Fort Pitt” added by Susan Posten Ellerbee. Source: https://digital.library.illinois.edu : accessed 25 May 2020.

What were the duties of a gunner?  “The gunner took charge of the ship’s guns and all the implements needed to work them.” [4] A gunner was an officer and others (gunners’ mates, gunners’ yeomen, and quarter gunners) assisted him.  An interesting document, found on the Naval History and Heritage Command website, outlined the specific duties of men on ships of war. [5]  Since William’s rank is listed as private, he possibly held one of the lower assignments.  

A Revolutionary War company muster roll yielded information about Wm. Poston, a private in a Virginia regiment. [6]  From October 1778 to March 1779, he appeared on a roll for Fort Pitt. The form includes this remark: “wth C Willing”. Enlistment in a Virginia regiment suggests residence in that state. Is he somehow related to my Posten family which has resided in Pennsylvania since the early 1800s?  An ongoing boundary dispute between Pennsylvania and Virginia makes this plausible. (For more information, read “The Boundary Controversy between Pennsylvania and Virginia, 1748-1785” by Boyd Crumrine in Annals of the Carnegie Museum, Vol. 1, 1901-1902,  pages 505-524, available from Internet Archive,  https://archive.org/details/annalsofcarnegie01carn/page/n5/mode/2up:  accessed 25 May 2020).

Analysis: William Posten served as a gunner with Captain Willing’s company of marines. William died about 1778 – 1779. William was probably from Virginia.  The men were recruited from Fort Pitt which explains the listing in Pennsylvania Archives.

On this Memorial Day, 2020, I honor William Posten (gunner), who died during the American Revolution. I still don’t know his whole story and I don’t know if we are  related.  Plundering the homes of British sympathizers was accepted during this time period. He is one of  millions who died fighting for this country we call America and for the freedoms that we enjoy today.   Thank you, William!


Again, I took one piece of information and expanded on it.  When I did my initial research 12 years ago, I was sure that William Posten (gunner) was somehow related to my family. I based that assumption solely on the entry in the Pennsylvania Archives.  I began to question my reasoning until today when I discovered information about the border dispute between Pennsylvania and Virginia during the late 1700s.  There is always so much more to every story!

What I learned:  History of U.S. Marine Corps, duties of a gunner on a war ship. Consider both the information and the source—look deeper! Boundary dispute between Pennsylvania and Virginia in late 1700s.

What helped:  Entry found previously, online access to Naval and Marine Corps history.

What didn’t help:  Assumption that listing in Pennsylvania Archives meant all names were of persons from Pennsylvania. Even that is in question!

To -do:  Search for more information as BSO item.


[1] ‘Journals and diaries of the War of the Revolution with lists of officers and soldiers, 1775-1783.”   In Pennsylvania Archives, Series 2, Volume XV, pages 658-660.  Accessed 12 December 2011 from www.fold3.com ; p. 659

[2]Edwin Howard Simmons, The United States Marines: A History, 4th ed. (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1998); (https://archive.org/  :  accessed 24 May 2020), page 1.  

[3] Charles R. Smith & Charles H. Waterhouse, A Pictorial History, The Marines in the Revolution (Washington, D.C. : U.S. Government Printing Office, 1975;  https://www.usmcu.edu/Portals/  : accessed 22 May 2020).

[4]E. Gordon Bowen-Hassell, Dennis Michael Conrad & Mark L. Hayes. Sea raiders of the American Revolution: the Continental Navy in European waters. Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, Dept. of the Navy, 2003.. Page 8: Life on Board a Continental Navy Warship.

[5] Thomas Truxton. “A short account of the several general duties of the officers, of ships of war, from an Admiral, down to the most inferior officer. Placed on the Books of the Navy, according to the British Regulations. Arranged with additions, &C. “ (no date). Naval History and Heritage Command  (https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/s/short-account-of-the-several-general-duties-of-officers-of-ships-of-war.html#gunners  :  accessed 24 May 2020).  Note:  search term “gunner American Revolution”; one of 9 documents under Category: American Revolution.

[6] “Compiled Service Records of Soldiers who served in the American Army during the Revolutionary War,” database with images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com  : accessed 23 May 2020), entry for Wm Poston, Virginia, imaged index card; citing Compiled service records of soldiers who served in the American Army during the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783, M881 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration [n.d.], roll 1060.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2020