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.

REFLECTION

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


SOURCES:

[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 (http://www.ancestry.com  : 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 (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 12 August 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653.  

[3] Member Photos & scanned documents, Ancestry ( https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/collection/1030/tree/74239198/person/46291952904/media/  :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 (http://www.ancestry.com  : 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 (http://www.ancestry.com  : 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; Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : viewed & printed 18 August 2020); citing Mount Union Times newspaper, Mount Union, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. page 3.

Followup:  A chance meeting, Part 2: clues to Benjamin Avery Posten’s parents

A chance meeting, multiple researchers and a tenuous hint. What do these things have in common? All lead to the same question and, possibly, a partial answer. Who are the parents of Benjamin Avery Posten? In my last post, I related the story behind my joining this search. In this post, I share some of what I, and others, have found Including a possible link to Benjamin’s parents.

The chance meeting was between my dad, Daniel Richard Posten, 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!

As I became more adept at genealogy, I started a family tree for George. I admit that I was curious.  Other researchers have traced the family back from Oklahoma to Pulaski county, Missouri. Census records for Benjamin consistently recorded Pennsylvania as his birthplace. The paper trail seems clear and accurate.

At least one researcher asserted that Benjamin was born in Huntington County, Pennsylvania. The evidence? Volunteer Enlistment papers for B.A. Posten, dated 15th August 1862. [1]  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. . . .”  While not conclusive (first name would have been nice!), information is consistent for Benjamin’s birth year and state of birth.

One tenuous hint has been linked to Benjamin in online trees. The identity of Benjamin’s mother was based on a single 1850 census record from Mercer county, Pennsylvania. [2] The family includes:

  • Caleb Corbin, 64, M, farmer, value of real estate $400, birthplace: MD.
  • Sarah Corbin, 63, F, birthplace: MD.
  • Delia Corbin, 36, F, birthplace: Pa.
  • Benjamin Corbin, 10, M, birthplace: Pa, attended school.

As I look at these records now, I would have guessed that Delia was Caleb and Sarah’s daughter-in-law and possibly a widow. Perhaps those who researched Benjamin’s ancestry had information that they did not share online? Perhaps this was a best guess with the hope of finding more evidence later? Either way, I accepted their inference at face value and continued infrequent searches about this family.

 The 1860 census record for Mercer county shows 68-year-old Sarah Corban [sic] living with 45 year-old Delia Hanna and 4 year-old Sarah Hanna. [3]  The two census records led researchers to speculate that Benjamin’s mother was “Sarah Delia/Adelia Corbin Hanna.” The name of Benjamin’s father was also speculation and included a man named Benjamin.

Editorial comment: Family trees are often built on such speculation and “best guesses.” It seems reasonable that a male child would be named after his father. Genealogists search for evidence to support or deny such claims.  

NOTE: Benjamin appears to have married in 1859 possibly in Mercer county[4] although I haven’t found an 1860 census record for him. If anyone has found this record, please share!!

Return now briefly to Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. B.A. Posten himself, in his 1862 enlistment papers, reported that he was born in Huntingdon county.  I compiled a history of our Posten family in 2012.[5] As I researched Dad’s family, I found other Posten families in various parts of Pennsylvania and included an appendix for “Possibly related families”. Several Posten families lived in Huntingdon county through the 1800s and early 1900s. Heads of household appearing on a single page of 1850 census for Cass Township[6] included Cornelius Posten, age 72, John Posten, age 36 and James Posten, age 31. I suspected that John and James were sons of Cornelius. I did not pursue that question.

Back to the present. I started Genealogy Do-over in 2017. My genealogy files were a mess! Organizational goals led me to genealogy standards and the realization that my 2012 effort at writing our family history was a good start but far from meeting those standards. I continue to revise my original work. Looking for new information about those ‘possibly related families’ is one part of that revision. And, that circles back to a possible link between Benjamin Avery Posten and other Huntington county families.  STAY TUNED!

Reflection

This has certainly been an interesting journey. As I wrote, I realized the many twists and turns of this search. Benjamin Avery Posten’s family may or may not be related to us. I met other researchers along the way.  I guess it’s partially the thrill of the hunt.

 One goal is to keep blog posts under 1500 words. With about 860 words here, I met that goal here. Being concise is not one of my strong points!

What I learned (again). Value of sharing research with others. Share your guesses and the reasoning behind them.

What helped? Previous work done on Benjamin Avery Posten family and Huntington county, Pennsylvania families.

What didn’t help? Incomplete citation of sources. Not having contacted other researchers sooner. My initial idea to submit this information for publication in a genealogical journal.

To do: share findings that link the families, and identify Benjamin’s parents, in next post.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021


SOURCES:

[1] Member Photos & scanned documents, Ancestry ( https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/collection/1030/tree/74239198/person/46291952904/media/  :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.

[2] 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 (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & downloaded 17 June 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M432, roll 796.

[3] 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 (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 12 August 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653.  

[4] Public Member Photos & Scanned Documents, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/collection/1030/tree/991207/person/-2019792105/media      : accessed 4 October 2020. “Posten Marriage License,” handwritten scanned copy, posted 30 Jan 2007 by”‘kdbrown300.”

[5] 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.

[6] 1850 U.S. Census, Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Cass township, p. 209 (stamp), dwelling 66, family 66, Cornelius Posten age 72; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 17 June 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm M432, roll 784.

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.

REFLECTION

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.


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] Thomas Pokins. 1820 U.S. Census, Northampton county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Hamilton, p. 245, image 256, line no. 22, Thomas Pokins; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : 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 (http://www.ancestry.com  : 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 (http://www.ancestry.com  : 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 (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, printed, downloaded 18 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M32, roll 40.