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.

Valentine in Mom’s Family Tree

Do you have a Valentine in your family tree? In February 2018, I posted the story of Valentine Creager, my husband’s ancestor.  Now, I relate the story of Valentine Maurer, my mother’s ancestor. The story begins in Germany and ends in New York.

Valentine Maurer graphic1

How do you pronounce “Maurer”? According to mom, the name sounded like “more- er”. As with other stories about mom’s family, I started with Great-Aunt Viola’s handwritten family history. [1]  Part of my grandmother’s ancestry reads:

GRANDPARENTS
Valentine Maurer, 2/12/1827 – ? 
[Born] Alsace-Lorraine Germany
[Wife] Kathrine Korzelins  11/4/1824- 2/14/ ?
(She died on Valentine Maurer’s namesake day one year after his death. She was born in Baden-Baden Germany)
GREAT GRANDPARENTS
Philip Jacob Maurer
Born in Kolncolnge Germany. Date unknown
Anna Metzger
Born in Holland. Date Unknown

My focus was clear – to discover the story of Valentine and Kathrine. Spelling of Kathrine’s name varies and is reported here as spelled on each document.

Valentin Maurer was born on 9 February 1827 in Niederhausen, Freiburg, Baden, Germany. [2] His parents were Leonhard Maurer and Maria Anna Metzger. Note the different father listed on the baptismal record and Viola’s history. This is one of the few items not supported by other sources.

The 1860 census[3]  for Valentine and Catharine Maurer provided an early clue. The family appeared in Galloway, Atlantic county, New Jersey on 15 August 1860:

  • Valentine Maurer, age 31, laborer, born Germany
  • Catherine Maurer, age 31, born Germany
  • Valentine Maurer, age 2, born New Jersey
  • Herman Maurer, age 7/12, born New Jersey (my great-grandfather)

Since both children were born in New Jersey, Valentine and Catharine apparently immigrated to the United States by about 1857.

By 1863, the family had moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn, Kings county, New York. Valentine Maurer, age 34, birthplace Germany, appears on a Civil War Draft Registration Record. [4] I haven’t found any Civil War service records for him.

Where was the family in 1870? I am still looking! See “Name variations in census records: Maurer & Klee”  In 1880 [5], they still lived in Brooklyn, Kings county, New York.  Four children had joined the family (as transcribed):

  • Mauiner, Valentine, W M, 52, head, machinist, born Baden, father born Baden, mother born Baden.
  • Annie C, wife, W F, 32, born Prussia, father born Prussia, mother born Prussia
  • Valentine, son,  W M, 22, machine building shop, born New Jersey
  • Herman, son, W M, 20, brass moulder, born New Jersey.
  • Kattie, daughter, W F, 14, paper box maker, born New York.
  • Rosie, daughter, W F , 12, at home, born New York.
  • Joseph, son, W F, age 9, at school, born New York.
  • Edward, son, W M, 5, at home, born New York.

The six years difference between the births of Herman and Kattie suggest that Valentine may have served in the Civil War. Names of the children on these two census records correspond to Viola’s information except for one item. She did not record any information about the oldest son, Valentine. Viola may not have known about Herman’s older brother or had forgotten him. 

Valentine Maurer II died on 21 March 1888 at the age of 29 years 10 months and 21 days in Brooklyn, Kings county, New York.[6] Cause of death?  “Asthema”.  Calculated birthdate is 1 May 1858. This is consistent with his age of 2 years on 1860 census. Residency in Brooklyn for 25 years further supports the family’s move to New York by 1863. 

DISCREPANCY:  According to his death certificate, Herman was born on 16 October 1858. [7]  However, Herman’s age of 7/12 in August 1860 suggests birth in February 1860. Did I identify the correct family on 1860 census? If so, why the difference? 

Map of Germany showing Baden and Prussia from Encyclopedia Brittanica

Source:  https://www.britannica.com/place/Prussia.  Accessed 10 August 2018

Family origins Baden is in the southwest corner of Germany near France. This western German border, also known as Alsace-Lorraine, alternated between French and Germany rule throughout its history.   Prussia, in the northwest corner of Germany, is now part of Russia.

 In 1883, Valentine and Anna Katharina wrote in the autograph book of Anna Klee, Herman’s future wife. Read more about Anna’s autograph book in “Sources” section of this post. Both entries were written in German. Her signature as  “Anna Katharina Maurer” confirms use of both names. [8]

Valentine may have traveled back to Germany in June 1888 [9] then returned to the United States in September 1888.[10]  The traveler’s age of 61 suggests a possible identification.  Did this journey occur because of the death of his oldest son in March 1888?

The 1892 New York State census fills a gap left by the mostly destroyed 1890 census records. Valentine, age 65, and Annie, age 64, lived on Hopkins Street in Brooklyn, Kings county, New York at that time.[11] Three of their children still lived with them:  Rosie, age 24, box maker; Joseph, age 23, brass worker; and Edward, age 17, mechanic. Valentine and Annie’s status as  “C” or “citizen” suggests that both were now naturalized American citizens.

Valentine Maurer, age 71 years 7 months 9 days, died on 21 September 1898 in his home, 169 Hopkins Street, Brooklyn, Kings, New York. [12], [13]   His calculated birth date is 12 February 1827, same date recorded by great-aunt Viola. I don’t know how she learned of his birthdate. She didn’t report a death date so she possibly did not have a copy of his death certificate. Other interesting items from Valentine’s death certificate:

  • Occupation: surgical instrument maker
  • Birthplace: Baden, Germany
  • How long in U.S.:  43 years [estimated immigration year 1855]
  • How long a resident in City of New York: 37 years [estimated year 1862]
  • Father’s name: Leonhan Maurer.  Father’s birthplace: Baden Germany
  • Mother’s name: Marie Maurer.  Mother’s birthplace: Baden Germany
  • Cause of death: Asthenia following pneumonia

Now, I turn to Valentine’s wife, Anna Katharina.  Her name is listed as Catherine Korselious[14]  and Katherine Korzilous[15] on the death certificates for two of her children. Viola’s spelling of her surname as Korzelins is similar.  Census records suggest that she was born in 1827 or 1828 rather than 1824 as reported by Viola.  The actual date of 4 November is perhaps true. When did she immigrate to the United States?  Did she and Valentine “meet on the boat” per oral family history?  Anna Maurer died on 12 February 1899 in Brooklyn, New York. [16]  Probate records, both filed on 12 March 1899,  name their children and current residences- “Herman Maurer. . . Katie (wife of Stephen) Scheffel, Joseph Maurer and Edward Maurer of the Borough of Brooklyn, County of Kings, New York and Rosina (wife of Jacob) Schnitz of Jersey City, New Jersey.”

Biographical Timeline –Valentine Maurer (1827, Baden, Germany – 1898, Brooklyn, New York, USA)

  • Birth– 12 Feb 1827 in Baden, Germany to Leonhard Maurer and Marie Metzger.
  • About 1855- Immigration to United States
  • About 1856 – Marriage to Anna Katharina Korselious
  • 1858- Birth of son, Valentine, New Jersey
  • 1859- Birth of son, Herman, New Jersey
  • 1860 – Living in Galloway, Atlantic county, New Jersey
  • About 1862/1863- move to Brooklyn, Kings County, New York
  • 1870 – Possibly living in Brooklyn (not confirmed)
  • 1880 –Living in Brooklyn
  • 1883- Marriage of son, Herman, to Anna Klee, daughter of Louis Klee and Anna Wolf
  • March 1888 – Death of oldest son, Valentine
  • June 1888 – September 1888–Travel to and return from Germany
  • 1889 – Marriage of daughter, Katie, to Stephen Scheffel
  • 1892 – Living in Brooklyn
  • 1895- Marriage of daughter, Rosie/ Rosina, to William Jacob Smetts
  • 1897- Marriage of son, Edward, to Margaret “Maggie” Roper
  • 21 Sep 1898—Death of Valentine Maurer
  • 12 Feb 1899 – death of wife, Anna Katharina Korzelins Maurer
  • 1905 – Marriage of son, Joseph, to Emma Beck

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REFLECTION

Writing this post helped me with a timeline perspective.  Clarified some items.  How did Viola know about Valentine Maurer’s birthdate? Is there a missing family Bible? When did Anna immigrate? I continue to be thrilled that great-aunt Viola was such a good historian. Even though her manuscript lacked sources, I have found many documents that support her information.  I share my information with cousins through this blog and other written materials. As always, there are still questions. I partially met the reasonably exhaustive criterion of the Genealogical Proof Standard. 

What helped:  Having copies of death certificates for Valentine, Valentine II,  Herman, Katie and Joseph. Probate records for Valentin and Anna Katharina, both filed on the same day.  Recent careful review of research.

What didn’t help: Not having 1870 or 1875 census for family. I looked again on two databases. A page by page review of the Brooklyn census seems to be the next step. 

Future plans:  Search Civil War Records again for Valentine Maurer.  Continue search for family in 1870 and 1875 census records. Locate naturalization records for Valentine and Anna Katharina. Order Anna Katharina Maurer’s death certificate-done 6 Feb 2019. 

©Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots 2019

SOURCES:

[1] Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” 2 sections; 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 document created ca. 1975-1980 and sent to Viola’s niece, Eunice Bertha Tucker Posten, Ms. Ellerbee’s mother.

[2] “Deutschland Gerburten und Taufen, 1558-1898,” database, Family Search (https: //familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1: J8H   :  accessed 11 February 2019), Valentin Maurer, 09 February 1827; citing FHL microfilm 936,825. NOTE: I found this record as I was re-checking sources for this post.

[3]   1860 U.S. Federal Census, Atlantic county, New Jersey, population schedule, Galloway, p. 291 (penned), dwelling 2238, family 2205, Herman Maurer age 7/12; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 14 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M653_682.

[4]   “Civil War Draft Registration Records, 1863-1865,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 24 November 2018), entry for Valentin Maurer, age 34; citing Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War), Record Group 110. National Archives at Washington, D.C.; original source: Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal General’s Bureau; Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865); Record Group: 110. NAI: 4213514; Archive volume number: 3 of 5.

[5]   1880 U.S. Census, Kings county, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 182, p. 42B (ink pen), sheet 325B (stamp), dwelling 161, family 465, Mauiner [Maurer] Valentine, age 52; digital images, Family Search (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:6HS : accessed, printed, downloaded 13 August 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 0852.

[6]  Brooklyn, New York, Department of Health of the City of Brooklyn, certificate of death no. 4076 (21 March 1888), Valentin Maurer; New York City Municipal Archives, New York City, New York.

[7]   Brooklyn, New York, Department of Health of the City of New York, certificate of death no. 10424 (1927, Hermann Maurer, New York City Municipal Archives, New York City, New York.

[8] Anna (Klee) Maurer .  “Autographs Album”  ( book,  Brooklyn, New York, ca 1883); privately held  by Susan M. Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017.  Ms. Ellerbee is Anna’s great-granddaughter. The book was found in the personal effects of Ms. Ellerbee’s mother, Eunice Bertha (Tucker) Posten and was probably given to her by her mother, Charlotte A. (Maurer) Tucker, daughter of Herman and Anna.  Unnumbered page, written in German,  “An Anna, dated Oktober 19, 83, [signed] Anna Katharina Maurer.”

[9] “U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 November 2018), entry for Valentin Maurer 07 June 1888;  citing “Passport Application, 1795 – 1905, National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. : microfilm publication M1372, General Records Department of State, Record Group 59. 

[10] “New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 November 2018), entry for Valentin Maurer, birth date abt 1827; citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M237_524; Line 38; List number 1200.

[11] New York State Department of Health, “New York, State Census, 1892,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded 31 January 2018), entry for Valentine Maurer, age 55; citing New York State Education Department, Office of Cultural Education, Albany, New York; 173 Hopkins Street.

[12] Brooklyn, New York. Department of Health of the City of New York. Certificate of death no. 16339 (1898), New York City Municipal Archives, New York City, New York.

[13]  “New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999,” digital records, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com   : accessed and printed, 9 December 2015); probate case file for Valentine Maurer, filed 21 March 1899; citing  New York. Surrogate’s Court (King’s County), Probate case files, Kings County, New York. Filed by son, Herman Maurer; names children. 

[14] New York, Bureau of Records, Department of Health, Borough of Brooklyn, Certificate of Death no. 23456 (4 December 1941), Katherine A. Scheffel; Municipal Archives, New York City, New York.

[15] New York, Bureau of Records, Department of Health, Borough of Brooklyn,  Certificate of Death no. 24968 (14 December 1929),  Joseph Maurer; Municipal Archives, York City, New York.

[16]     New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999,” digital records, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com   : accessed and printed 20 May 2016); probate case file for Anna Katharina  Maurer, filed 21 March 1899; citing  New York. Surrogate’s Court (King’s County), Probate case files, Kings County, New York. Filed by son, Herman Maurer; names children. 

Remembering Dad (and his male ancestors)

My father, Daniel Richard Posten, would be 100 years old by now. I considered writing about him for this week’s blog post but couldn’t seem to bring myself to do so. Why? I couldn’t identify a specific reason at first. Then, I realized that Dad died 20 years ago this month. An anniversary of sorts. The words don’t flow easily. So, I begin with some basic genealogical information about Dad and the men who lived before him.

Ancestor Fan of Daniel Richard Posten_ver4

Ancestor Fan Chart for Daniel R. Posten.  Created using Legacy genealogy software, copyrighted  by Millenia Corporation,

The next generation of Dad’s male ancestors are:

  • Thomas Posten (1782, New Jersey – 1854, Pennsylvania)
  • John Mills (abt 1811, New York  – 1891, ? New York)
  • David Fulkersin (ca 1775, New Jersey – abt 1819, ? New Jersey     )
  • Adam Shotwell (1778, New Jersey – 1830, New Jersey)
  • Nathaniel Richards (1759, New Jersey – 1831, New Jersey)
  • Thomas Ostrander (1745, New York – 1816, New York)
  • Anthony Desire LaCoe/ LeCoq (1780, France –  1883, Pennsylvania)
  • Ira Ash (1794, Connecticut –  1873, Pennsylvania)

Dad’s family roots began squarely within three of the original 13 colonies – Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. These three colonies, plus Delaware, are known as the “Middle Colonies”. In general, once settled in Pennsylvania, men remained in the same locales with their families for decades. Descendants from all lines still reside in Pennsylvania. Countries of origin haven’t yet been positively identified for our Posten, Richards, Fulkerson, Mills, and Shotwell lines, although we (myself, my brother, our cousins) suspect that most of the original immigrants came from England. Original immigrants are known for the LaCoe (France) and Ostrander (Holland and Germany) ancestors.

I cannot claim any famous or notorious persons as a direct ancestor. The men primarily worked as farmers to support their families.  By the late 1800s, some moved to urban areas.  In a documentary, they would probably be described as “average” Americans with some participating more actively in their communities and churches than others. Nothing extraordinary except a desire to provide for their families and leave a strong legacy for their children.

My dad was such a man. Raised near small towns in northeastern Pennsylvania, Daniel, one of six children, completed high school in 1935. He joined the United States Army Air Corp and learned to repair airplanes. His military service extended through the end of World War II. After leaving the Army, Dan worked as an airplane mechanic with American Airlines. Apparently, he inherited a gardening gene from his mother; his vegetable garden provided a steady supply of food for us.  Carpentry, a hobby for Dan,  was listed as the occupation for some of Dad’s ancestors. My siblings and I each inherited, and cherish,  one or more pieces of furniture made by Dad. He and mom insisted that we complete high school while encouraging us to obtain both formal and informal education after that.  Dan retired in 1981 and bought a small acreage in Oklahoma. The backyard family garden enlarged to about one acre. Later, he and mom moved to Arkansas to be near their youngest daughter (me). About a year before his death, Dan and Eunice moved back to Oklahoma, where Dan died in 1998 and Eunice died in 2007.

Mary_Martha_Dan_Grace_Lester_ca 1980-82 PA_w names

George R. Posten, 2nd oldest child of John and Jennie, died in 1955. Family photograph, privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee,  [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. From boxes of photographs belonging to her mother, Eunice Bertha Tucker Posten; obtained by Ms. Ellerbee upon her mother’s death in 2007.

My siblings and I inherited more than just DNA. We inherited a sense of pride in a “job well done”, a work ethic, a desire to make life better for our children and faith in God. We were taught that citizenship includes both rights and responsibilities.  We recognize the value of education whether that education is academic or technical. We volunteer in our local communities. Don’t let me mislead you with this almost idyllic description. Our family was, and is, not perfect. But, we do take pride in our family history.

Our family history (most of it, anyway) is as old as the history of the United States. Our family is not unique in this respect. Ordinary people doing ordinary things yet creating something extraordinary – a sense of family in America.

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REFLECTION: 

This entire post is a reflection on fathers, including my own. My genealogy work has given me a more profound sense of how deep our American roots are. And, yes, I did write about my Dad, even though that was not my initial intent.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and “Posting Family Roots” blog, 2017-2018.  Excerpts and links may be used when full and clear credit, including appropriate and specific direction to the original content, is given to Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots. Unauthorized use or duplication of material without the written permission of the owner is prohibited.