The chance meeting:  Oklahoma men with Pennsylvania ties

What are the odds that two men with the same surname, ancestors from the same state, and the same oral family tradition about original immigrants to America would meet in a rural Oklahoma town in the 1980s?   I believe that the odds would be against them.  And, yet, it happened to Daniel Richard Posten, my Dad, and a man named George Avery Posten.  From this chance meeting, I became intrigued with a question about George’s grandfather, Benjamin Avery Posten. This post begins my tale which will be continued in later posts.

Our family surname of Posten, with an ‘e’, is not as common as Poston, with an ‘o’.   So, when Dad saw the name of George Posten in the local phone book, he quickly called. The two met and exchanged stories, beating the odds against such a chance meeting.

In 1980, after Dad’s retirement, my parents moved to Mannford, Creek county, Oklahoma.  Dad’s love of gardening resulted in the purchase of three acres and a small house near the rural community on the banks of Lake Keystone. The lake is about 20 miles west of Tulsa. 

I vaguely remember the phone conversation, although I don’t remember the exact date (or even year!)  I wasn’t into genealogy at that time although I did enjoy hearing them talk about their childhoods and relatives.  The conversation probably went something like this:

Me:   “Hi!  How are you doing?”

Mom:   “We’re pretty good.  Dad’s got his most of the garden planted.”

Me:   “Oh, well, that’s why you moved out there!  I always like the fresh vegetables!”

Mom:  “Your dad is really excited!  We met a man named George Posten and he lives here in Mannford!  We saw the name in the phone book and called.  You know that not too many people spell their name like we do.”

Me:   “Yes,  I know that.”

Mom:  “Anyway, we went to visit him and his wife, Lottie.  They are really nice people!  George was born in Missouri but his grandfather was born in Pennsylvania.  And, he remembers hearing the story that two brothers came to America and one stayed in Pennsylvania and one moved south.   He thinks that he is related to the one who moved south.  He and Dad just talked up a storm!”

Me:  “Oh, that’s interesting!  Isn’t it odd that the two would meet in Mannford, of all places?”

Mom:  “Yes, it is strange!  And, you know that your Dad had a brother, George?”

Me:  “Yes,  Aunt Libby’s husband. I don’t think that I ever met him. ”

Mom:  “You didn’t.  He was killed in a car accident when you were just a baby.  When are you coming to see us?”   The conversation ended a few minutes later as we caught up on other news.

Mom and Dad visited George and Lottie on a regular basis until Mom and Dad moved again in 1990.   Both frequently talked about the stories shared with George and how similar the stories about family origins were.  All of us believed that George and Dad are related.  I still believe it, although I can’t prove it.

Briefly, here’s the family lines.  Thomas Postens, born 1782 at Monmouth county, New Jersey, is our branches progenitor.[1]  Thomas probably moved to Pennsylvania in the 1820s. [2]  Thomas and his wife, Esther Brown,  lived in either Northampton or Pike county in 1829, where my great-great grandfather, James D. Posten, was born. [3]  (Geographic note:  current Monroe County formed in 1836 from Northampton and Pike counties). James D. Posten’ s descendants are Daniel S. Posten (my great-grandfather), John R. Posten (my grandfather) and Daniel Richard Posten (my dad), all born in northeastern Pennsylvania.  Many of Thomas’ descendants still live there.

George Avery Posten’s family easily traces to Benjamin Avery Posten, born 1839, presumably at Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. [4] From Pennsylvania, Benjamin moved his family to Pulaski county, Missouri, where George’s father, Charley P. Posten, was born.  Charley moved to Creek county, Oklahoma, in the 1920s with the family appearing there in the 1930 census. [5]   Four of George’s nine siblings moved to California between 1930 and 1940, probably as a result of the infamous Dust Bowl.  George died in 1998 and is buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery at Mannford.   

The link may lie in Huntingdon county, which is in western Pennsylvania.   Several Posten families lived there as early as 1800 including William [Posty][6] and Peter [Posty]. [7] Another person of interest is Cornelius Poste (1830 census, Huntington county, Pennsylvania). I believe that William and Peter  migrated west from northeastern Pennsylvania.

 So, what are the odds for this meeting occurring?  I don’t know.  It sure has made my genealogical research interesting! Simply, the BIG question is: Who are the parents of Benjamin Avery Posten? The identity of Benjamin’s mother is based on a single 1850 census record. To be continued. . . .

Disclaimer. I am not the only person who seeks an answer to the question of Benjamin Avery Posten’s parents.


This post is longer than I hoped. I keep trying for less than 1200 words. Writing helps to clarify my thinking. Before I share my conclusions with you, I felt that I needed to give you the back story. This has been one of my BSO items for several years.

What I learned  (again):  Meticulous record keeping is a must. This includes notes about what information seems to fit and what doesn’t.

What helped? Previous work done on Posten families in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. Online access to records.

What didn’t help? Debate within myself about when and how to share this information.

To do:  Begin writing the next installment.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog , 2021.


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

[2] Thomas Pokins. 1820 U.S. Census, Northampton county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Hamilton, p. 245, image 256, line no. 22, Thomas Pokins; digital images, Ancestry (  : accessed, printed, downloaded 18 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M33_104.

[3] Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Health, death certificate 118955 (1914), James D. Posten; Bureau of Vital Records, Harrisburg.

[4] George Avery Posten family tree, privately owned by Susan Posten Ellerbee.  Similar trees also posted on Ancestry website.

[5]   1930 U.S. Census, Creek county, Oklahoma, population schedule, Olive, enumeration district (ED) 0035, pp. 1A & 1B, dwelling 10, family 10, Charles Posten age 62; digital images, Ancestry (  : viewed 17 October 2021); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T626.

[6] 1800 U.S. Census, Huntington county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Union Township, p. 147, line 35, William Posty; digital images, Ancestry (  : accessed, printed, downloaded 18 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M32, roll 40.

[7] 1800 U.S. Census, Huntington county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Union Township, p. 147, line 36, Peter Posty; digital images, Ancestry (  : accessed, printed, downloaded 18 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M32, roll 40.

One thought on “The chance meeting:  Oklahoma men with Pennsylvania ties

  1. Pingback: Friday’s Family History Finds | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

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