Sunday, February 22, 2015

Introducing Louisa Whittemore

This post places Louisa Whittemore back on the family tree.  You will also see an example of why it is so important to research each of the siblings of your direct line ancestors.

Sabra stated in her War of 1812 pension application of 1879 that she had a daughter named Louisa, born 18--, who married a man by the name of Leavitt, now a widow residing in Cleveland.  Not much to go on, but with, searching for Leavitt's in Cleveland is a simple task.

Using the search terms "Leavitt" in soundex mode, living in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, the 1860 census has nine hits, including this family group of four:
This looks like a good match for our Louisa.  According to this record, Louisa was born circa 1816 in New York, which would make her a pretty good match for our Louisa, and it's the only record that seems to be even close to a match.

I broadened the search terms to include all of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and found the record below for the 1850 Federal Census.  This record made me fall out of my chair!
This family is for a William and Anna Leavitt living in in Brooklyn Township, Cuyahoga County, Ohio.  I think that even though J. W. Leavitt has aged 20 years between 1850 and 1860, the 1850 family is a match for the 1860 family.  But what really makes this census record "worth" the effort, is that a "Jane Whittemon" who is 18, is living in William an Anna's household.  Jane Whittemon is a perfect match, other than her place of birth, for my second great grandmother, Sarah Jane Whittemore.  What is exciting about this is that I have never been able to locate Sarah Jane in the 1850 Federal Census.  This is a great example of why it is so worth the extra effort to hunt down all siblings of your direct line ancestors.  

The 1850 census record also explains why I never could locate Jane in 1850, Whittemore and Whittemon soundex differently, so most searches would never have turned her up.  Add to that, that her place of birth is listed as Connecticut rather than New York, and a brick wall is born!  

So this is what I have penciled in for Louisa:

J. William Leavitt b. sometime between 1790 and 1810 marries Anna Louisa (or perhaps Louisa Anna) Whittemore b. circa 1816 (though this is more likely 1813) and the couple have the following children, Ellen Leavitt b. circa 1843 in Ohio and Ophelia Leavitt, born 1847 in Ohio.  

1870 Federal Census was a little more challenging to find.  Using the Leavitt and Cuyahoga County filters turned up nothing.  I know that Louisa is living in Cleveland in 1879, so I redid the search using Louisa as a first name, her date of birth as 1816 +-5 years, and Cuyahoga County and found the family living in Rockland Township.
This time the family is enumerated a Leverett, and Louisa is listed as being born circa 1813, which is more in line with her actual age.  Ophelia is out of the house but Hellen S. is still living at home.

1880 Finds Louisa Leveritt living with her daughter Ellen in Cleveland and Louisa is listed as a widow.
The only problem is that Louisa actually dropped two years in age from her 1870 census record!  I still feel this is the correct family, even if the ages do not match exactly - you know what they say, "never ask a lady her age..."

1900 Finds Louisa an inmate in the Cleveland Home for aged women.  She is listed as born circa 1812 in Connecticut.
Louisa is listed as the mother of 4 children with only 1 child alive in 1900.  

Let's see what we can find out about Louisa and J. William Leavitt....



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sabra Whittemore and her War of 1812 Pension

My last post described two of my favorite family tree documents, an 1880 Federal Census Record and a page from my second great grandmother's War of 1812 pension application.  I used the Census record to direct me toward her pension file.  The file contained a wealth of family information, including her marriage date and a list of all of her children.  If it hadn't been for her pension application, I would never have had a list of her children.

From her application, her children are:

  • Louisa - b. 18--?
  • Harriett - b. 1814
  • James - b. 1816
  • Orilia - b. 18--?
  • Jane - b. 1831
  • Hiram - b. 1833 

The census records for Caleb and Sabra are listed below:
1820:  Killingly, Windham County, Connecticut:

  1830:  Ticonderoga, Essex County, New York:
Sabra states her daughter Jane is born in 1831.  I'm wondering if Jane might have been born in 1830.

1840:  Middleburg, Cuyahoga County, Ohio:

You will notice that between 1830 and 1840, the three oldest Whittemore girls disappear from Caleb's household.  Unfortunately, Sabra only cryptically identifies two of her daughter's married names.  In her 1879 pension application she refers to Louisa, who married a man named Leavit and is now a widow residing in Cleveland; and, Jane, who married a man by the name of Tahyer, and is residing in Ashland, Michigan.  She also states that both Harriett and Orillia are dead by 1879.  

So I went on the hunt for Louisa Leavit, living in Cleveland in 1879.  I'll describe my results in my next post...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sabra Whittemore and the War of 1812

Sabra Whittemore is one of my third-great grandmothers and has been on my mind lately.  I am in the process of moving and, like most family tree fanatics, have several boxes of family tree stuff which I have collected over more than two decades of research.  I say stuff because many of these boxes contain documents I have not looked at in several years and I have little recollection of what is in these boxes.  So I thought it made sense to go through my boxes and weed out any redundant documents (like copies of census records which are all easily available online now), and create electronic copies of documents and photos to attach to my online family tree.  This is where Sabra Whittemore enters the picture.

I have been actively researching my family tree for over 20 years now and have uncovered numerous generations of my ancestors.  Sabra and her husband, Caleb Whittemore, have always been one of my "favorite" ancestor couples because they were the first couple of my direct line I uncovered who were born before 1800.  Caleb was born in 1785 and Sabra was born in 1794.  It just blew my mind to think that both of these people were born when George Washington was alive!

Sabra also helped create a couple of my favorite family tree documents.  If you are a family tree researcher, I'm sure you also have a document or two which mean more to you than many of the other documents you might uncover.

Let me start with the 1880 Census record for Sabra.  She is living in the household of her son-in law and daughter, Alanson and Sarah Jane Thayer (my second-great grandparents).  The family was living in Ashland Township, Newaygo County, Michigan.  This household was enumerated over the 11th and 12th of June 1880.  Sabra would pass away on the 18th of June 1880, so she only had a week to live.

The reason I like this census record so much is because it is a four-generational household.  Sabra is the oldest generation and her occupation is "Pension of 1812" and Agnes Church (granddaughter of Alanson and Sarah Jane, and great granddaughter of Sabra) is the is the youngest generation.  Agnes, who is the oldest child of my great grandmother, Marium Ella Thayer, is raised by her parents, Alanson and Sarah Jane.  

When I discovered this record many years ago, it led to my ordering the War of 1812 Pension file for Sabra from the National Archives.  This leads to my second favorite document, Sabra's deposition for her pension.
This simple statement is packed with genealogical information.  Sabra lists all of her children, including Jane "born in 1831, married to a man by the name of Thayer".  Sabra's granddaughter, Ella Pratt (my great grandmother), is a witness to Sabra's statement.

I do not know why these two documents mean so much to me, but perhaps it is because they show the generational depth of this family.  I've often pictured Sabra as this ancient, shrunken women, hard of hearing, holding on to her granddaughter as she relates the story of how she married Caleb more than sixty years earlier back in Connecticut.  

My next post will describe how I located Louisa Whittemore, Sabra's oldest child.   

Monday, May 27, 2013

William Perry of Glamorgan, Wales: part 2

This is the second part to my previous post, William Perry of Glamorgan, Wales.  I provided two circumstantial reasons for why I think the baptismal record of William Perry in Glamorgan, Wales is my William Perry.  Now I will present the third reason.

When I started researching my family history, I diligently interviewed all the older family members, most all of whom are now deceased.  One of my regular stops was my grandmother, the great granddaughter of William Perry.  William's name had long since been forgotten in my family.  In fact, my grandmother knew the first name of her mother's, mother, Cynthia, but had no idea of the name of her grandfather, James C. Perry.  But names aside, my grandmother had all sorts of memories and stories which we spent many enjoyable hours talking about.

Family tradition is always one of those tricky areas for family tree researches.  Stories tend to grow and change as generation after generation retells them.  One of the stories my grandmother used to tell me was about the ancestor who used to compose music.  She said it was someone on her mother's side of the family.  Her mother, Mary Perry, was a granddaughter of William Perry.  So this is the story of the composer in the family.

I included a screen shot of William Perry's baptismal record in the last post.  William Perry's parents are married in Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan, Wales.  I have attached the parish marriage record below:
This is the marriage entry for William Perry and Sophia Swaine performed on 25 Dec 1814 at Merthyr Tydfil.  I am feeling really lucky that Sophia has the name she does!  There are three other Swain(e) marriages which take place in Merthyr Tydfil, one for John Swain(e), one for Mary Swain(e), and one for Keziah Swain(e).  All of them occur in close proximity to each other and I suspect all four of these individuals are children of John Swain b. 1749.

A quick internet search finds the couple of John Swain and Susannah Holliday, the parents of 12 children.  This is where things get really interesting.  John Swain's parents are listed as Thomas and Mary Swain.  In addition to John Swain, a younger brother Joseph Swain is listed.  Joseph was a renowned composer of hymns.  He was born 22 May 1761 and died 16 Apr 1796.  

The individuals who did the Swain research online didn't trace the children of John and Susannah other than their son John (who is also listed in an English Who's Who).  A mention is made of Elizabeth marrying a man by the name of Brown and moving to the United States.  Not much to go on, but my kind of challenge.

I find John and Elizabeth Brown in Baltimore, Maryland.  Their oldest son, Joseph Henry Brown is born in Glamorgan, Wales in 1810.  Their next child, Thomas Brown, is born in 1820 in Maryland.  Fast forward, Joseph and his younger brother Richard Brown become very prosperous steel manufacturers in Youngstown, Ohio.  In 1920 a biographical history of Youngstown is written and a sketch is provided for both Joseph and Henry Brown.  Guess what - they go into great length to mention their hymn writing uncle, Joseph Swain!

What do you think?  Could this fragmentary memory of my grandmother be about Joseph Swain?  This memory would have been created in the 1790s.  

I've also included pictures of three of the individuals I mentioned in this post:

Joseph Swain



William Perry of Glamorgan, Wales

I attended RootsTech in Salt Lake City this year, and while I was there I ran over to the Family History Library to put in a little research time.  I enjoy going to RootsTech, in part, because of its close proximity to the library.  When I need a break from the classes, I can simply run across the street and get lost in my research.  This post describes one of my finds during one of these quick visits.

My 3rd great grandfather, William Perry immigrated to the United States sometime in 1819, if his obituary in 1904 is accurate.  I suspect it is accurate, as all of the other information the family provided in other records has always been accurate.  William always maintained he was born in Wales.  In fact, there is one census record where he must have been asked his place of birth and he said Wales, but the census taker wrote England.  You can see where England is crossed out and Wales is written just above the crossed out England.

I have a pretty complete picture of William Perry's life from his marriage in 1838 to his death in 1904.  His death record lists his date of birth as 24 Nov 1815 and place of birth as Wales.  Both parents names are listed as 'unknown'.  I always seem to come up with those death records that list parents names as unknown.  This is basically where my search for William's parents ends.  Until now.  

William's first 22 or 23 years seem to be a mystery.  I am not sure where he lived or with whom.  According to the same obituary I mentioned earlier, he didn't arrive in Michigan until he was 19 which would place his arrival circa 1836.  I have had good luck in tracing William's children and have even managed to find living descendants of most of them.  Sad to say, William's name has long been forgotten in family tradition.

The Family History Library has access to along with all of the parish records contained there.  I searched for William Perry b. 1815 plus or minus 2 years in Wales and almost fell out of my chair when the baptismal record below appeared.
This is the baptismal record for William Perry, son of William and Sophia Perry, baptized on 14 Jan 1816 in the parish of Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan, Wales.  Assuming this is my William, he would have been under 2 months old when he was baptized.  Looking at the parish register, it seems they were baptizing children within two months of birth (some of the children had births or age, in days, listed).

So, how can I link this record of a William Perry being baptized in 1816 to my 3rd great grandfather who lived most of his life in Michigan?

I have three pieces of evidence, none of which are direct proof.  I'll let you decide if I have enough evidence.

First - William always maintained his 'Welshness'.  The above baptismal record is the only record I have found to date that matches my William Perry.  I double-checked the parish death records for William Perry and his death is not recorded.  There are no other birth records for this couple in Merthyr Tydfil or in Wales for that matter.  Maybe FindMyPast does not have all of the parish records for Wales uploaded yet - I will keep monitoring this in the future.

Second - Naming patterns strongly suggest this couple.  My William Perry marries Sarah Ann Fox in 1838 in Michigan.  Sarah descends from a German Palatine family in New York.  Both the Germans and the Welsh have strong naming patterns for their children.

In both naming patterns, the first male child would be named after the father's father, the second male child would be named after the mother's father, the first female child would be named after the mother's mother, and the second female child would be named after the father's mother.  

I have already verified Sarah Ann Fox's parents as Joel Fox and Mary Forbes.  And William Perry and Sarah Fox do name children Joel and May.  I have listed all of their children in the table below.  This list comes from William and Sarah's family Bible.   

Children of William Perry and Sarah Ann Fox:

Named for
James C. Perry

Henry W. Perry

William Lester Perry
Father's father
Joel E. Perry
Mother's father
Mary E. Perry
Mother's mother
Alfred E. Perry

Sophia A. Perry
Father's mother
John Edwin Perry

It appears to me like they had a modified naming pattern.  The first two boys do not fit the naming pattern, however, there does appear to be a naming pattern.  I guess what really stands out to me is that they do indeed name a daughter Sophia and this is their second daughter so, in theory, would have been named after the father's mother.  And Sophia is such a rare name.  I had always suspected Sophia would be the name of William's mother - I just hope I'm not shoe-horning the record to fit my prejudice.

The third piece of evidence I will save for my next post.  It is circumstantial to say the least, but it involves a family tradition fragment that just happens to fit nicely into this Welsh family...    

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Family Tree at FamilySearch

I've been doing what I do best - procrastinating!  I have been meaning to write a post on FamilySearch's new Family Tree.  It may sound a little strange, but I have often wondered what is going to happen with all the research I have undertaken over the last 20 years.  OK, maybe research is too lofty a word to use to describe some of the activities I have done, but, none the less, it was research to me.

Really, have you ever thought of what might happen to your research?  I do not have family members that find family tree research even remotely interesting.  My guess is that all of those piles of papers that I worked so hard to collect will probably be in the trash before my body is cold.  Perhaps the photos will be kept, but how many times have you gone into an antique store or flea market and found family photos and documents for sale?

To hedge my bet, I posted my family tree at Rootsweb and at Ancestry.  Rootsweb has proven its ability to survive, but I'm not so sure just how long it will be viable.  Ancestry has the ability to post all kinds of supporting reference material to my tree.  My question though, is how long will this information be available after my account goes delinquent?  I could see the delete button erasing any trace of my years and years of hard work.  Poof!  Here today, gone tomorrow.

Enter our friends at FamilySearch.  I think I may now have at least a chance to provide a depository for my research.  I created my free account and started a family tree.  
My tree project is serving two purposes.  I am using this exercise to re-enter my information from scratch.  It really has been an eye-opener for me.  All the information I am adding must have a verifiable source attached to it.  The convenience of linking sources directly from the FamilySearch database with a few simple mouse clicks makes this process easy.  The eye-opener part is in reviewing the records I am attaching.

I am retracing research I did, in some cases, twenty years ago.  My skills as a genealogist have improved over the years and things I missed, or connections I could have made, are far more apparent.  Additionally, I am in no hurry to build my tree.  I have been slowly combing the records and building solid family groups.  I have also started using the 'discussion' tab in my family tree to record stories and add personal knowledge for the individuals on my tree.

The second purpose this project is serving is in the area of photographs.  FamilySearch is allowing each individual account to upload as many as 5,000 photographs.  I have become the repository of my family's photos and have been worried what will happen to them when I am gone.  Now I can attach these photos to the family members in my tree.  The original photographs may eventually be scattered to the winds, but I can rest easy that at least digital copies will be attached to a biographical record of my family.

Has anyone else thought of ways to secure your 'genealogical legacy'?