Reflection on Independence Day: 2021 and an Update

Disclaimer: Parts of this post originally published 5 July 2019

This year (2021), the country feels more divided than united. All of us need to step back and reflect on the sacrifice made by those who fought for our Independence from England. Those persons were labelled rebels. Because of those rebels, we can argue about the meaning of words in the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. Because of those rebels, we can disagree about the date of our country’s founding.  Remember, too, that we would not enjoy these freedoms if not for those rebels. Like them or not, those rebels deserve to be remembered and celebrated by Americans on this Fourth of July.  

In this post, I update a list of persons from our (my husband’s and mine) family trees who are known or believed to be Revolutionary War patriots. Many of our personal ancestral families lived in the United States in late 1700s and early 1800s.  At least one family may have been Tories (a.k.a. supported the British). 

The roots of my family and my husband’s family run deep in America.  Neither of us have any nationally famous persons in our family trees.  Family stories told of Native American ancestry, but our DNA shows no genetic links there.  Both of us hail primarily from British Isles, Scandinavia, and western Europe. We are descended from immigrants to the United States.  Some of our ancestors influenced events locally or within their home state. Some of my husband’s ancestors owned slaves.  

Should a holiday recognize when the first African slaves were brought to America? Enslaved peoples, primarily of African descent, are definitely part of our American history.  We cannot change American history. Our interpretation of that history changes as we apply current values and beliefs to the values and beliefs held by those who lived in another time. I believe that we can teach differing views of events without belittling either side.

Acknowledge the societal norms of the times and locations that influenced our ancestors’ choices.  We cannot change our family’s history. I diligently record our family’s history and share that information with others.  I try to not pass judgment. Without all of our ancestors and those who believed in America, we would not be here!!  

Revolutionary War Patriots (known, presumed and speculative)

From my family tree:

Samuel Jones (ca 1759 – 1827); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution

Thomas Ostrander (1745 – 1816); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution

Richard Posten (1750 – after 1825); signed Articles of Association in Monmouth county, New Jersey.

Nathaniel Richards I (1759 -1831); ? New Jersey militia, family tradition.

Joseph Traver (abt 1732 – after 1790); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution

Cornelius Van Sickle (abt 1741 – 1820); served New Jersey militia; Revolutionary War pension file W6374.

From my husband’s family tree:

George Valentine Creager (1734 – 1808); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution

Thomas Ellerbee (abt 1743 – 1802); “Captain Ellerbee” mentioned in several South Carolina Revolutionary War pension files; possible distant cousin.

George Hans Friddle (1731-1805); service from family tradition.

Jonathan Roach (abt 1737 – after 1802); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2019-2021. The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author.  

Obituaries and death notices

Another death in our family this past week. I was given the privilege of writing my mother-in-law’s obituary. This task of love let me to reflect on obituaries and death notices as sources of information. In this post, I share my reflection with you.

Genealogists cull information about individuals and their families from these notices, usually published in local newspapers. What’s the difference between a death notice and an obituary? The answer is simple. A death notice usually gives only basic information about the person and their death. An obituary typically provides more information about the person and their family.

Death notices can still provide clues for follow up. Here is one example from my dad’s family. [1]

Other documents and her gravestone[2] show her name as Esther, maiden name Brown. The notice was published on Friday, February 14, 1840; her date of death- ‘Tuesday last’- means Tuesday, February 11, 1840.  The family should be found in or near Stroudsburg on 1840 census. Burial at Friends Graveyard means that Esther and Thomas were Quakers. My question is:  if she died and was buried in Monroe County, why was her death notice in a Pike County newspaper? Pike County and Monroe County are geographically close to each other. This led me to explore how county lines changed and to search for more information about a Brown family in Pike County. Age at death is sometimes listed. This example shows how even limited information can be used to discover information about a person and their family.

Obituaries give us a glimpse into the person’s life and family.  Often, you will read about the person’s occupation, hobbies, military service, religious affiliation, professional and social organizations, honors and awards as well as birth and death information. Names of parents, siblings and children are usually included. You may learn how long the person was married and whether the named relatives are dead or alive. Cause of death is sometimes included. “A sudden death” may suggest an accident or acute illness. “A long (or lingering) death” suggests one or more chronic illnesses. Photos are a more recent inclusion.  Today, funeral homes post obituaries online.

Siblings’ names can be used to uncover a woman’s maiden name.  One woman’s brothers had two different surnames, suggesting that one was her step-brother. The married name of a sister led to more records about the sister and, eventually, the names of their parents.

Also of interest is what information is not included. I found a marriage record for a person[3] on my mom’s family tree. His obituary[4] did not mention his wife. My best guess is that the marriage did not last long and that there were no children.

For more information about death notices and obituaries: https://newspaperlinks.com/obituaries/death-notices/

Writing obituaries: https://www.powershow.com/view/405446-OTJiN/Writing_Obituaries_powerpoint_ppt_presentation

To summarize, published death notices and obituaries are important sources of information for the genealogist. Glean what you can and offer thanks to those who provided the information.

REFLECTION

Another long week for our family, actually a long month as mother-in-law went from hospital to rehab, back to hospital and then to hospice care.   Family members asked me to write my mother-in-law’s obituary. This was a labor of love as well as an awesome responsibility. I had previously written obituaries for both of my parents and my father-in-law. As a genealogist, I am acutely aware of how much can be learned and/or surmised from these sources.

I may have posted something similar earlier but am too emotionally exhausted to look for it.

What I Learned (again):  the difficulty of capturing the essence of a person in just a few words.

What helped: I am a fairly skilled writer with a large vocabulary. Online and print thesaurus to help me choose just the right words. Getting to know my mother-in-law better during last few months that she has lived with us.

What didn’t help:  sleepless nights. Need to get it right quickly in only 1 or 2 drafts.

To-do: Save copies of print and online obituary with appropriate citations.


SOURCES

[1] Hester Postens death notice.  Published in The Jeffersonian Republican, Milford, Pike County, Pennsylvania on 14 February 1840.  Page number not included with photocopy obtained from Monroe County Historical Association, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

[2] Grave marker for Esther Postens, Friends Burial Ground (Stroudsburg, Monroe, Pennsylvania); photo by Jerry L. Ellerbee; information read by Susan Posten Ellerbee, 15 August 2017.

[3] New York, Episcopal Diocese of New York Church Records,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 August 2018 ), entry for Arthur H. Smetts & Claudia J. Mertens; citing The Episcopal Diocese of New York Church Records, New York, NY; names Arthur’s parents as Jacob Smets, Rose Maurer of New Brunswick,NJ and Claudia’s parents as Charles H. Mertens & Johanna Hack, 1433 Glover Street; marriage date 2 June 1926.

[4] “ARTHUR H. SMETTS,” obituary, Central New Jersey Home News, 19 November 1936, deceased; online images, Newspapers.com (http:///newspapers.com :  accessed 6 January 2021).

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

Is Chester E. Sherman of Kansas City, Missouri in your family tree?

Off on a different kind of search today. It started with a new (to us) piece of furniture, an antique display cabinet bought at an estate sale. This glass enclosed cabinet replaces another wood cabinet. When we cleaned out the wood cabinet, we found a pile of old stock certificates purchased at an auction years ago. Our original plan was to decoupage the certificates on old pieces of furniture. We looked through the certificates and made some interesting finds. One of those finds is an original issued patent, complete with the red seal from the US Patent Office. This post tells about my first foray into forensic genealogy with the goal of returning this heirloom to a rightful owner.

Is this person in your family tree?

The patent is for Rotary valve engines issued to Chester E. Sherman of Kansas City, Missouri in 1918. There are also 4 stock certificates in the Rotary Valve Manufacturing Company issued to L. A. Sherman in November 1914.

Who was Chester E. Sherman? I entered his basic information on Ancestry. First item uncovered was a 1920 census record for Chester E. Sherman in Kansas City , Missouri.[1] Following the information from that record, I found Chester’s death certificate. [2] He was born in Kansas in 1874 to Louie A Sherman and Alta Page. Chester died in Dallas, Texas in 1961. He married Izetta Peppard in 1916. [3] Izetta died in 1987, presumably also in Dallas.[4]

Chester and Izetta had two daughters.  Edith Pauline, born 21 December 1923 in Missouri, died 5 March 2002 in Dallas, Texas. [5] Edith’s name is on same mausoleum slab as her mother’s. Edith possibly never married.

Eleanor Lucille Sherman was born 16 April 1915 in Kansas City. She married C.W. Morris on 5 March 1933 in Dallas, Texas.  [6] Eleanor died in September 1996.[7] C.W. and Eleanor had at least one daughter, Bobette Eleanor, born 23 March 1937 in Dallas. [8] Bobette married possibly two times – 1st to Max Alford and 2nd to Everett W. Campbell.  Bobette may still be alive and could be Chester’s only direct descendant.  Other relatives of Chester may also be interested in having this piece of their family’s history.  

Three ancestry trees included Chester. I sent a message to the owner of one of those trees and wait for a response. If I don’t get a response, I will message the owners of the other two trees. Posting the information on my blog is another way of trying to contact a member of Chester’s family. I will hold on to this document for several months then seek an appropriate repository.

This line of inquiry is called forensic genealogy. Recently, there have been several TV shows about this type of search using DNA matches. All of us probably use similar methods to find cousins or other relatives. I admit that I am not as proficient in this as others. I do not expect any financial renumeration for returning this very important document to the family. I hope that someone someday will do a similar favor for me.

Reflection

This was an interesting journey. I used many skills learned through my Genealogy Do- Over to access information and evaluate the data. I amazed myself that I was able to find relevant information within a few hours.  My reward will be the return of this document to a family member.

 I needed a break from the intense work I’ve been doing on an article about my mom’s family.  I only need to track down a few more sources. I wasn’t sure what to write about this week. A topic always seems to surface!

What I learned: more about forensic genealogy and different ways in which it can be used.

What helped:  genealogy do over skills. Online database with search feature.

What didn’t help: having only a name and residence in 1918 for Chester E. Sherman.

To do: wait for someone to claim the documents.


SOURCES:

[1] 1920 U.S. Census, Jackson Co., Missouri, population schedule, Kansas City, enumeration district (ED) 117, p. 5A(ink pen), dwelling 80, family 113, Chester E Sherman, head, age 24; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 May 2021);  citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T625_927.

[2]Texas, U.S., Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 May 2021), entry for Chester Elisha Sherman; citing Texas Department of State Health Services. Austin, Texas.

[3] Missouri, U.S., Jackson County Marriage Records, 1840-1985,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 May 2021), entry for Chester E. Sherman and Izetta Peppard, certificate no. 1913K0058670; citing Marriage Records, Jackson County clerk, Kansas City, Missouri.

[4] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  :  viewed 8 May 2021 ), memorial page for Izetta P Sherman, Find A Grave Memorial no. 107692206 , citing Sparkman Hillcrest Memorial Park (Dallas, Dallas Co., Texas), memorial created by T, photograph by T.

[5] Social Security Administration, “U.S.  Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 , database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed 9 May 2021);  entry for Edith Sherman, SS no. 449-24-6962.

[6] Texas, U.S. Select  County Marriage Records, 1837-1965,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 May 2021), entry for Ms Eleanor Sherman and C.W.Morris, certificate no. 16229; citing Dallas County Clerk’s Office, Dallas, Texas.

[7] Social Security Administration, “U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, “ database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed 9 May 2021);  entry for Eleanor Lucille Morris [Eleanor Lucille Sherman], SS no. 449-68-6967..

[8] Texas, U.S. Birth Index, 1903-1997,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 10 May 2021), entry for Bobette Eleanor Morris, roll no. 1937_006;  citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas; father: Charles William Morris, mother: Eleanor Lucille Sherman.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

Jasper & Francis: The widower marries a widow

A widower with children marries a widow with children. Many of these matches happened out of necessity. Both persons needed someone to help bear the burden of raising their children. Additional children often blessed the union. The death of a Civil War soldier often meant extreme poverty for his widow. A young widow turns to an older man for some relief. This could be the story for Jasper Williamson and his 2nd wife, Mary Francis Copeland Dean. I tell their story in this blog post.  

Born about 1818 in Georgia, Jasper M. Williamson, a farmer, married Mary A. Davis at Jackson County, Georgia, on April 10, 1842. [1]  The parents of both Jasper and Mary probably also lived in Jackson County.  Mary bore 3 children – Louvisa (1842), John Terrell (1846) and Francis ‘Frank’ (1849)- at Jackson county, Georgia prior to August 1850.[2]  An 1849 tax digest shows that Jasper owned 2 slaves and paid taxes of $1.17. [3] 

Jasper relocated his family to Smith county, Texas before the birth of their fourth child, Nancy, in 1852.  Three more children followed: Julius Leslie in October 1854, Mary ‘Mollie’ in 1857 and William Gallatin in March 1860. By September 1860, Jasper owned more land and 9 slaves ranging in age from 1 to 40 years. [4] Then tragedy struck.

Mary A. Davis Williamson died on September 22, 1865, age about 39 years.  [5] At least 5 of the 7 children – John, Frank, Julius, Mollie and Gallatin- survived their mother. Probate records also list “Heirs of Mrs. L. Turner,” presumed to be Louvisa.

In June 1866, less than a year after the death of his first wife, Jasper married again, to Mrs. Francis Dean.  [6]  According to 1860 census, Francis Dean was born about 1838 in Georgia.[7] She married first in September 1858 to T.W. Dean at Smith county, Texas. [8]  They were blessed with a son, James, in 1861.  T.W. joined the 14th Texas Infantry of the Confederate Army in March 1862. [9]  Presumably, T. W. died during the Civil War, leaving his widow with a son to raise. Did Mary Francis follow the mourning customs of the time?

Thus, Jasper, a widower, married a widow. In June 1868, Jasper and his new wife became the parents of Sammie Houston Williamson, my mother-in-law’s maternal great-grandmother.  

The blended family prospered as shown by real estate valued at $2550 and personal estate valued at $1954 by 1870.[10] However, Jasper again became a bereaved husband. Mary Francis Copeland Dean Williamson died between 1874 and 1880. According to the 1880 census, Jasper was a widower with 4 children: Gally, age 20, Sammie, age 13; Ida, age 12, and Annie, age 6. [11] Jasper, age 71, died in 1889 at Van Zandt County, Texas. [12]

PROCESS NOTES & DISCREPANCIES

Birth year of Mary Francis Copeland Dean – 1838 per 1860 census; 1844 per 1870 census.  If she was born in 1844, then she married first at the age 14 which is possible.

2011– found  1870 census for Jasper Williamson

2015 – found Death certificate for Sammie H. Reed. Names parents as Jasper Williamson & Mary Francis Copeland.

2017 – Found various records. 1880 census for Jasper Williamson. Marriage record for Jasper M. Williamson & Mrs. Francis Dean. Marriage record for T. W. Dean & Francis E. Copeland. Marriage record for Mary A. Davis & Jasper Williamson. Probate records for Mary A. Williamson (ca 1865-1867) and Jasper M. Williamson (1889).

2020 – Reviewed print and digital records. Updated research log for Jasper Williamson.  

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT CIVIL WAR WIDOWS AND MOURNING PRACTICES:

  “Civil War Widows” by Angela Esc Elder (https://www.essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com/civil-war-widows.html

Powerpoint presentation: “Widows of the Civil War South,” (https://www.slideshare.net/msleib/widows-of-the-civil-war-south )

REFLECTION

This post represents the culmination of work begun in 2011. Today, on an online tree, I saw an 1850 census record in Smith County, Texas for Alexander & Martha Copeland with a 10-year-old daughter named Francis. This record bears further evaluation. I believe that the story of Jasper and Mary Francis is more or less complete.

What I learned: Review all records and critically analyze. Keep research logs. Record ‘found date’ of all records. Records are not always found in a manner that exactly follows the chronological events in a person’s life.

What helped: print copies of some records in files. Research log for Jasper Williamson started in 2017. Reviewing all sources in 2020.

What didn’t help: Still updating citations and labelling files in mother-in-law’s tree. 

To-do: Continue following guidelines learned in Genealogy Do-Over as I update family trees. Keep BSO list to avoid getting side tracked.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020


SOURCES:

[1] “Georgia, Marriage Records From Select Counties, 1828-1978,” Marriages, Book A,B,C, 1805-1861, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 16 November 2020), entry for Jasper Williamson & Mary A Davis 1842; citing County Marriage Records, 1828–1978. The Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia; page 0289.

[2] 1850 U.S. Census, Jackson county, Georgia, population schedule, Subdivision 45, p. 12B, dwelling 181, family 181, Jasper M. Williamson age 30; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 16 November 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm Publication M432, roll 74.

[3] “Georgia, U.S. Property Tax Digests, 1793-1892,” Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 17 November 2020), entry for J M Williamson, line 13, no page number; citing Georgia Tax Digests [1890], Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia.

[4] 1860 U.S. Census, Smith county, Texas, slave schedule, Tyler, p. 68, column 1, lines 2-10; J. M. Williamson, slave owner; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 16 November 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm Publication M653.

[5] “Texas, Wills and Probate Records, 1833-1974 [,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 16 November 2020), entry for Mary A. Williamson, Dec’d.; citing Probate Packets, 1846-1900, Texas, Probate Court (Smith County); File No. 109, Box 112A.

[6] “Texas, Marriage Collection, 1814-1909, “ Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 16 November 2020), entry for Jasper Williamson & Mrs. Francis Dean, 1866; citing County Marriage Records.

[7] 1860 U.S. Census, Smith county, Texas, population schedule, Tyler, p. 166 (ink pen), dwelling 1143, family 1143, T W Dean; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 17 November 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653_1305.

[8] “Texas, Marriage Collection, 1814-1909, “ Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 16 November 2020), entry for T.W. Dean and Francis E. Copeland, 9 September 1858; citing County Marriage Records.

[9] “Compiled Service Records of confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Texas,” Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com/image/13836091  : viewed 17 Nov 2020); citing  National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm Publication M323.

[10] 1870 U.S. Census, Smith County, Texas, pop. sch., Tyler, p. 406A (stamped), dwelling 239, family 239, Jasper Williamson (head); digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded, printed 13 April 2011); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication M593_1605, image 422.

[11] 1880 U.S. Census, Smith County, Texas, pop. sch., J.P., enumeration district (ED) 095, p. 150D (stamped), dwelling 271, family 275, Jasper M. Williamson; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded, printed 2 April 2017); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T9, Roll 1326..

[12] Van Zandt County, Texas, Probate Case Files, Jasper M. Williamson; “Probate Packets 534-600, 1889-1895,” digital images, Texas County, District and Probate Courts, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 2 April 2017); Case Number: 545A.

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.

 REFLECTION

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.


SOURCES:

[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.

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].

DID YOU KNOW?

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)

REFLECTION:

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

SOURCES:

[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?  

SUMMARY:

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

REFLECTION:

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

SOURCES CITED:

[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.

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.

REFLECTION

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.


SOURCES

[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.

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!

REFLECTION:

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.


SOURCES:

[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

Challenge or invitation? Search for C.W. Black

Pick a word to describe a difficult genealogy task. Here are some of my choices -challenge, convoluted, dare, elusive, incentive, invitation, obstinate, resistant, provocative, recalcitrant, reluctant, uncooperative. Most have negative connotations. The terms incentive and invitation shed a more positive light.  I described the task of finding C.W. Black, reported father of Nellie Black Johnson, my husband’s great-grandmother, as a challenge. Looking at it as an invitation into his life could reveal new insights.  In this post, I invite you to follow one possible lead with me. 

William and Mary Black, Falls County, Texas

I discovered this hint early in my search. I disregarded it until a blog follower reminded me about it.  Remember Nellie’s reported mother, Mary Bull? Falls county, Texas, was home to several Bull families. I found William and Mary Black in Falls county, Texas, in 1900 [1] with their family:

  • William B. Black, head, age 49, born April 1851 in Texas, married 35 years (? 25 years). Father & mother born in Alabama;
  • Mary A. Black, wife, age 43, born 1857 in Texas, mother of 6 children, 5 living. Father born in Georgia; mother born in Alabama;
  • Pearl Black, daughter, age 18, born 1881 in Texas;
  • Elisha Black, son, age 14, born 1885 in Texas;
  • Nellie Black, daughter, age 13, born February 1887 in Texas;
  • David C. Black, son, age 21, born November 1878 in Texas, married 2 years;
  • Nellie M. Black, d-in-law, age 18, born Feb 1882 in Texas, mother of 1 child, 1 living; and
  • Vera M. Black, g-daughter, age 1, born May 1899 in Texas.

C.W. ‘s middle name could be William. Nellie Black, daughter, born February 1887 per this census record. According to our Nellie’s death certificate[2] and other records, she was born January 1888 in Montague county, Texas. The birthdate inconsistency led me to initially discount this family as belonging to our Nellie.

Elisha Black’s death certificate[3] presented interesting information.  Elisha’s parents are recorded as W.B. Black and Mattie Bull.  Elisha lived in Montague county, Texas at the time of his death.

Mary A. Black’s birth information is partially consistent with an 1870 census record for Marianne Bull. [4] (NOTE: Based on DNA match and other records, I believe that Marianne Bull is likely Nellie’s mother.  Read “Who is Mary Bull?” for more information).  

In 1900, Mary A. Black’s age of 43 places her birth year as about 1857 and lists her birthplace as Texas. In 1870, Marianne Bull’s age of 15 places her birth year as about 1855 and her birthplace as Texas. The two year age discrepancy is not unreasonable but sheds some doubt.

Marianne Bull’s presumed parents, Isaac Bull and Sarah Neel, were born in Mississippi per 1860 census.[5] This fact presents another discrepancy.  Mary A. Black, wife of William B. Black in 1900, reported that her parents were born in Georgia and Alabama. Mollie Black’s parents (from 1880 census) were reported as born in Texas.  

Several online trees connect the William B. Black family on 1900 census, cited above, with a family headed by William Black, in Montague county, Texas, 1880. [6] 

  • 1880: William Black, age 25, born Texas; father & mother born Alabama. Wife, Mollie, age 24, born Texas; father & mother born Texas.  Children, William, age 6 and Corbin, age 3. Rosie Williams, age 6, niece and James Williams, age 4, nephew.
  • 1900[7]: William B. Black, age 49, born Texas; father & mother born Alabama. Wife, Mary A. Black, age 43, born Texas; father born Georgia, mother born Alabama.

Age discrepancies on subsequent census records are not uncommon. The reported birthplace of William’s parents as Alabama appears to be the only connecting data. Family trees are built on such slim links.

To reconcile these differences, I searched the 1870 census. William Black, age 20, born in Texas, resided with James and Mary Black.[8] His age is consistent with the 1900 census but not the 1880 census.   The record shows James Black, age 49, born in Tennessee and Mary Black, age 44, born in Alabama.  Further down on the same page and continued on the next page are entries for James Williams, age 19 and Georgiana Williams, age 17, married in August.   

Hmm! undefinedRosie and James Williams, niece and nephew, are listed with William and Mollie Black on the 1880 census.

Step back another 10 years. In 1860, James and Mary Black lived in Bell County, Texas[9] with 6 children- J.W., age 13; J.M., age 11, Wm, age 8, Georgiana, age 6, E.E., age 4, and Benjamin, age 1. Names and ages are consistent with children listed on 1870 census. James reported as born in Tennessee and Mary reported as born in Alabama.

To summarize, three census records (1860, 1870, 1900) support William’s birth year as circa 1850 or 1851. Three census records (1860, 1870, 1880) suggest that William Black and Georgiana Black Williams are siblings.  William’s father’s birthplace as Alabama (1880 & 1900 census) is inconsistent with reported birthplace of Tennessee per 1860 and 1870 census.  Mary’s birthplace is listed as Alabama on all these records. Conclusion:  The 1880 and 1900 census records for William Black apparently represent the same man with two different wives.  Mary A. Black, wife in 1900 census (born Texas, parents born Georgia and Alabama) does not appear to be the same person as Marianne Bull (born Texas, parents born Mississippi).  

What about Pearl Black and David C. Black? Online searches haven’t yet revealed any relevant information about the name of their mother. Specifically, because of inconsistent data, I believe that William B. and Mary Black (as recorded on 1900 census cited above) are probably not Nellie’s parents.

Reflection

I revised this post more times than usual. As I wrote, I saw new patterns and pursued those clues. An initial discovery of Mattie Bull seemed promising. Men named William Black who married women named Mary or Mollie produced an almost unsolvable puzzle. I feel like I am running in circles.  I am ready to move on.

What helped: Lessons learned through Genealogy Do-over. Using Research logs, family group sheets and other research notes.  Reminder from blog follower to look at 1900 census again.

What didn’t help:  Repeated viewing of the same documents confused me more. Time for a break.

To-do:  Take a break from this search. Keep copy of this post with paper files for later review.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020                                                                                                                                                                                                         

SOURCES

[1] 1900 U.S. Census, Falls County, Texas, population schedule, Marlin, Enumeration district 0016, sheet 6, , dwelling 107, family 113, Nellie Black, age 13; William B. Black, head; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 4 March 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, microfilm publication T623.

[2]“ Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 27 February 2020), entry for Nell Johnson; citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas; certificate no. 37422.

[3] “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : printed and viewed 27 February 2020), entry for Elisha Monroe Black (1885-1957); citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas, certificate no. 39398.

[4] 1870 U.S. Census, Falls county, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 4, page 15 (ink pen);  sheet 91A (stamp), dwelling 121, family 122, Isaak Bull, age 41; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 4 March 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, microfilm publication M593_1584; includes Isaak, born Mississippi; Mariane, age 15, born Texas.

[5] 1860 U.S. Census, Falls county Texas, population schedule, Marlin post office, page 149, dwelling 84, family 84, Isaac Bull, age 28; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 4 March 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, microfilm publication M653_1293.

[6] 1880 U.S. Census, Montague county, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 3, page 47 (ink pen), page 418C (stamp), dwelling 363, family 364, William Black, age 25; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 9 April  2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, microfilm publication T9.  

[7] 1900 U.S. Census, Falls Co., TX., population schedule, Marlin, ED 0016, sheet 6, dwelling 107, family 113, William B. Black, age 49.  

[8] 1870 U.S. Census, Falls County, Texas, population schedule, Precinct No. 4, Marlin post office, page 25 (ink pen), dwelling 191, family 193, William Black, age 20; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 9 April  2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, microfilm publication M593_1584. 

[9] 1860 census for Jas & Mary Black. 1860 U.S. Census, Bell County, Texas, population schedule, Belton post office, page 463 (ink pen), page 317 (stamp), dwelling 298, family 295, Jas Black, age 38; http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 19 April  2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, microfilm publication M653.