Followup:  A chance meeting—Part 3 (conclusion) : Identifying  Benjamin Avery Posten’s parents

A chance meeting, multiple researchers, tenuous census record hints, enlistment papers, wills and probate records.  What do these things have in common? Over a period of years, all finally led to the same question and, I believe, an answer.  Who are the parents of Benjamin Avery Posten?  In my last two posts, I related the story behind my joining this search and some findings. In this post, I share more findings and my conclusion about the identity of Benjamin’s parents.

Each document has one or more clues. The diagram shows the relationship between the documents and clues.

The chance meeting was between Daniel Richard Posten (my dad) and George Avery Posten in the rural town of Mannford, Oklahoma.  Dad and George had similar family stories of two immigrant brothers. Dad was born and raised in Pennsylvania. George’s grandfather, Benjamin Avery Posten, was born in Pennsylvania. The two families could be related!

Information posted by others included census records and enlistment papers for B.A. Posten. Specific items were:

  • 1850 census record, Mercer county, Pennsylvania. [1] The family included 64 year-old Caleb Corbin, 63-year-old Sarah Corbin, 36 year-old Delia Corbin and 10 year-old Benjamin Corbin.
  • 1860 census record,  Mercer county:  68-year-old Sarah Corban [sic] living with 45 year-old Delia Hanna and 4 year-old Sarah Hanna. [2] 
  • Volunteer Enlistment papers for B.A. Posten, dated 15th August 1862. [3]  Handwritten information (underlined here) on the document: “State of Pa town of Mercer, I, B.A. Posten, born in Huntingdon Co. in the state of Pa and now a resident of Mercer County, aged 24 years. . . .” 

I wrote about persons with surname of Posten in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania, in 2012. [4] In 2020, I began to seriously revise that document. Online searches revealed documents that I hadn’t seen before. Cornelius Posten died in 1852 at Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. His will named 3 sons- John, James and “heirs of Charles, dec’d.” [5] I knew about James and John from my earlier work and could now positively link them to Cornelius. What about Charles?

Of course, I followed that hint and typed in search criteria of “Charles Posten,” Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania,” and “1850 plus or minus 10 years.“  An October 1840 court record popped up. In that record, Delia Posten gave up her rights as administrator to estate of Charles Posten and named Caleb Corbin as administrator. [6] Where had I seen those names before? I didn’t have to look far- the 1850 census record seemed to be the answer.

What happened to Delia? Her sister’s obituary yielded another clue. Sarah Corbin Miller died in 1891. Her obituary reported that Sarah “was one of six children [born to Caleb and Sarah Corbin] all of whom are dead, save one sister, Mrs. Delia Hanna of New Lebanon, Mercer county, Pa.”  [7] The paper trail seemed empty after that cryptic find. Several online trees suggest that Delia joined her son in Missouri and died there. I haven’t found evidence to prove or disprove this claim. Perhaps someone can provide such evidence?

Now, piecing all together, I assert that Charles Posten and Delia Corbin are the parents of Benjamin Avery Posten. Charles, son of Cornelius and Rachel Posten, died about October 1840. Delia and her infant son moved in with her parents, Caleb and Sarah Corbin. Between 1850 and 1860, Delia married a man with surname Hanna. He also died, leaving Delia twice widowed. Delia was still alive in 1891 and living in New Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

I encourage all who read these posts to review the records and my conclusions. I welcome your comments, positive or negative, whether you agree or disagree. If you have records to support or refute my assertion, please share. I am willing to share all comments in a later post.

All information and links to records have been posted to a public tree on Ancestry.


This has been an interesting journey. What began as a fairly straight forward history of Dad’s family turned into something more. Why did I even look at Huntingdon county families when I had no evidence of a relationship with them? Partly, it was because of the surname spelling. Other family histories tended to keep a very narrow geographic and familial focus. In 2012, I had no idea that my broader perspective would lead me where I am today.

What I learned: A broad perspective can lead you down unexpected paths. Keep all of your notes!

What helped: The searches and writing that I had done earlier.

What didn’t help:  incomplete notes and citations. Multiple copies of the same family tree.

To-do:  Possibly submit summary of these 3 blogs to Huntingdon county historical Society.  Continue digital file re-organization and clean up. Continue search for Benjamin in 1860 census.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021


[1] 1850 U.S. Census, Mercer county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Mill Creek, p. 263B, dwelling 192, family 192, Delia Carbin [Corbin] age 36; digital images, Ancestry (  : accessed & downloaded 17 June 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M432, roll 796.

[2] 1860 U.S. Census, Mercer county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Mill Creek, p. 163 (ink pen),p. 459 (stamp), dwelling 1165, family 1121, Sarah Corban age 68; digital images, Ancestry (  : viewed & downloaded 12 August 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653.  

[3] Member Photos & scanned documents, Ancestry (  :accessed 21 Oct 2021), “Volunteer Enlistment B.A. Posten, 1862,” document copied at Gettsyburg NMP, posted 11 Jul 2016 by k30galla1; provenance and date copied uncertain; believed to have been found by an older family member and handed down with family papers.

[4] Susan Posten Ellerbee, A Posten Family of Northeastern Pennsylvania, typed manuscript (Yukon, Oklahoma, 2012); copy available from author on request; descendants of Thomas Postens (1782-1854); collateral and possibly related families.

[5] “Pennsylvania, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993,” digital images, Ancestry (  : viewed 30 July 2021), entry for Cornelius Posten; citing Huntingdon County (Pennsylvania). Register of Wills.

[6] Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, Register of Wills, “Pennsylvania, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993,” digital images, Ancestry (  : viewed 30 July 2021), entry for Charles Posten; citing Pennsylvania County, District and Probate Courts. Huntingdon county.

[7] “Mrs. Sarah Miller,” obituary, Mount Union (Mount Union, Pennsylvania) Times, 30 April 1891; ( : viewed & printed 18 August 2020); citing Mount Union Times newspaper, Mount Union, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. page 3.

2 thoughts on “Followup:  A chance meeting—Part 3 (conclusion) : Identifying  Benjamin Avery Posten’s parents

    • Russell,
      Thanks for reading my post. I discovered Cornelius Posten’s will last year. As I mentioned in the posts, the question of Benjamin Avery Posten’s parents was interesting to me for years. I haven’t seen anything else online that put all of the pieces together. Still don’t know if my dad’s family and your grandfather’s are related. Please read the two other posts just before this one for more of the details. I have also been in touch with Matthew Posten who is descended from another of Benjamin’s sons. Susan Posten Ellerbee


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