It's my genealogy blog, version 2.0, where I tell stories about our famous (and infamous) ancestors- our unsung heroes, our common man, our ordinary people who did extraordinary things- for our children. "[H]istorians talk about events of the past…[r]arely do we talk about the common man, the unsung hero. These people, many times, are unknown to us. All those people’s story mattered just as much as the stories of the great leaders. It’s easy to lose track of all those individuals but they’re there and they deserve to be remembered. One of the great lessons of history, all history, is that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. [T]hey are doing something not just for themselves, but for posterity. For their children." (Author unknown to me) Romans 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. (The Holy Bible)
I had totally intended to write about my Power family this week but it seemed everyone else was and I prefer to do something different. My thoughts went in a few different directions: “power in the blood” (i.e.- the life of one of my several Reverends) or “power in numbers” (i.e.- many offspring), etc. About the middle of the week though, something happened and I wrote about neither. I wrote nothing but emails…but I’m getting ahead of myself. About the middle of the week RootsTech conference started and of course, due to Covid it’s virtual. One of the few things I’ve been grateful that Covid changed…one of the few things Covid changed for the better…is a free and virtual conference! So I got busy with RootsTech and they have this amazing online tool this year where you can see who is at the conference that you’re related to so I started finding all these cousins and messaging them through the FamilySearch system and folks, that’s all the family history writing I’ve done this week! It’s been fun, though! A few have responded back and some I’ve asked to guest write or co-write some blog posts. We’ll see if anyone is willing to do that…fingers crossed, knock on wood, rub the lucky rabbit’s foot, pray-pray-pray!! I love guest writers on the blog and haven’t had one for a long time! Anyway…I decided to combine “power in the blood” and “power in numbers” and revamp them a little so that today I’m not telling the story of an ancestor so much as I’m telling the story of who I’ve been in touch with this week. I hope you’ll stick around and read this one and then come back next week for an ancestor story.
It’s funny how knowing that someone is related to you changes how you feel about them. It changes how much leeway you’ll give them and changes how you interact with them. Even if you don’t think it does…it does. There’s something about a blood connection that changes the way you think about and interact with someone initially. Now…after you get to know them that might change, but initially it seems to make a difference. Not only does it make you more open to introducing yourself to strangers, it’s an eye-opening, visual experience in genetics. It’s been very interesting to see which lines of my families have lots of researchers at the genealogy conference and which have seemingly no one at all. I’m not a statistics person but surely the number of researchers in a specific line makes a difference in which lines of the family get preserved (as far as information, stories, and pictures) and which don’t. I thought it would be interesting to let you see who/which family lines I’ve been in touch with so far.
Each person I contacted was only counted once. That’s 89 people I’ve connected with so far! Some people are connections for lines I struggle with so that’s very exciting. There are several people I’ve asked to guest write or co-write a blog post about their branch of the family (or about our common ancestor, either way). Some have already given me leads to resources I didn’t know existed for our family! The computer only shows me 300 relatives out of a whopping 45,000+ that are registered for the conference!!! I probably won’t even get through all 300 but I got as far as 5th cousins as of this evening. I’ve also learned how I connect to several professional genealogists I follow. Amy JOHNSON CROW, one of my favorite genealogists, is my 7th cousin through my mom’s FOSTER line. Thomas MacENTEE, another genealogist is my 10th cousin twice removed through my dad’s LARKIN line. Michele Simmons LEWIS, another genealogy friend, is my 11th cousin through my dad’s GREER line. Not all of my favorite genealogists have shown up on RootsTech and some have been no relationship at all. It’s been fun to find out though and I love this online tool.
This is certainly an exciting weekend. It’s been dampened a little by the fact that my computer has decided it no longer wants to live but I’m going tomorrow to get a new one so the adventure can continue! (By the way, I apologize if this post is unreadable or has lots of errors. I was fighting a dying computer that was randomly deleting entire paragraphs and other crazy things.) Over the remainder of the weekend I will likely begin looking up DNA matches to see if I can find any connections there. I hope you have a fun, exciting weekend. Do something for yourself!
I LOVE unusual sources for family history! I love that moment when you find family history in a completely unexpected place – something that makes you want to do the happy dance and get online to tell all your geni friends what you just found and where so they can look up that resource too to see if they can hit a jackpot like you did. So to see that this was included as a theme for 2021’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks was a bonus for me. I’m going for gold and trying to post one unusual resource I’ve found for both my paternal and maternal families in part 1. In part 2, I will post unusual sources I’ve used for my husband’s paternal and maternal families. I love this topic so much I may do parts 3 and 4 where I post unusual sources for my grandsons’ parents who aren’t my biological children. Since I don’t have one specific family to introduce, I’ll just jump right in.
It’s been difficult to determine which governmental record to pull out and show you for my Dad’s family. I really wanted to talk about my 3rd great grand uncle Theodore “Clay” LARKIN and the pardon he received in 1906 from the governor, but it would take some explanation to tell you why I used the Annual Report of the Attorney General to the Governor of the State of Ohio to write Clay’s story. I could tell you about my 2nd great grand uncle Willard “Red” Nelson DRAKE and show you the Ft. Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary inmate case file that was kept on Red. I could tell you about finding my Dad’s doctoral thesis paper online at a university library. I could even tell you about documents I used to help me unravel the occupational story of my 2nd great grandfather who worked for Tulsa Vitrified Brick and Tile Company in the old Greenwood section of Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma or the documents crucial to fleshing out the story of my 3rd great grandfather who had a run-in with the short-lived Liberal Republican Party in 1870.
I could tell you all those things but instead, I’m going to tell you about some unusual records I found at the National Archives facility in Fort Worth, Texas. I was researching my great grandfather, Ralph LARKIN. Another researcher had posted a photo identification on Ancestry for Ralph and I wanted a copy of the identification plus the health records that went with it. I couldn’t get a response from the other researcher so I began to look around for who might hold records like that. I found out National Archives in Fort Worth held Bureau of Mine records for Oklahoma. That’s what prompted a trip to NARA in Fort Worth, Texas. You can read more about that trip here. I didn’t find the photo identification I wanted but I did find some other very unique records. One of those was a hand-drawn chart tracking medical checkups/conditions for various mine workers in the Picher, Ottawa County, Oklahoma area.
This one record was so unique and personal to my 2nd great-grandfather that it made the whole research portion of the trip worth going. Never underestimate the amount and type of information the government keeps on people. If you know how to find that information you will find some very unique and valuable records.
Bonus round for Dad’s family: While putting together this post, I learned that our John Bell Sr. was known for the suspicion that he was killed by the Bell Witch. Yes- THAT Bell witch. You can get a short synopsis of the Bell Witch legend at Wikipedia and then research it further from there. For whoever’s keeping count…that means I have witches/witch stories on both sides of my family!
As with my Dad’s family, I could tell you about lots of unusual records I’ve found that tell me about my mom’s family history. School records hold a lot of data on a family with young children- families such as my grandparents’, Troy “Lum” and Jessie (RITER) BATES. Native American records hold a lot of valuable information you can’t find elsewhere and I treasure the records I’ve found for my 3rd great grandfather, Jefferson LATTY, and his mom Martha Frances “Fanny” (SCOTT) LATTY. I’ve even found the preacher’s license for my 3rd great-grandfather, Reverend Charles George SEELY, as well as receiving the church history records from the church he helped found and for which he was the first preacher. I’ve even found museum exhibits that gave me information about my REITER family history. I’m going to save all those records for another blog post because I want to tell you about one of the more interesting maps I’ve been able to use.
One resource that I’ve used from time to time are property maps. However, while recently searching for my mom’s family I found one that isn’t like any other property map I’ve found. It’s a “Settlement Map” for Franklin County, Virginia. Not only is it unusual, I was able to locate two lines of my mom’s family – the family of William TONEY (my 7th great-grandfather) and the family of Isaac BATES (my 6th great-grandfather). On the same map, I also located a line from my dad’s family – my 8th great-grandfather John GREER’s sons – along with a location named after my 7th great-grandfather Aquilla GREER)! Surprise!
If you haven’t yet searched for maps online, I encourage you to look for them. There are so many interesting and unique maps online these days. Try searching for locations instead of people. One search term hint: try searching for a location plus the word map or a location plus a surname. Like this:
“Franklin County, Virginia” AND map
“Franklin County, Virginia” AND Toney
Using the quotation marks tells the search engine that every word inside the quotation marks must be found within a couple of words of each other instead of anywhere on the page in any combination. Adding the capitalized word ‘AND’ tells the computer that not only must it find the phrase in quotation marks, it must also find the other word on the same page. So for the first query, the search engine must find the phrase “Franklin County, Virginia” all together and your search results should only include pages that have that phrase PLUS the word ‘map’. Likewise on the second example except the word ‘Toney’ must be on the same page as “Franklin County, Virginia”. Learning to create better search terms helps you find information you would not otherwise find.
I’m wishing you all the best in your online searches this week! Try the examples above and see how it works for you. This will work on any search you do, not just genealogy searches. Try it out! If you find something wonderful- come back here and tell me about it!
The theme for week 6 is ‘valentine’. I vaguely remembered seeing the name Valentine when working on our family histories. It turns out my husband has a paternal 8th great-granduncle named Valentine Felter KELDER that will work perfectly for this week’s ’52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks’ theme. My husband is related to Valentine through his paternal DEWITT line which is interesting because the DEWITT name unexpectedly (at least, unexpectedly for me) entered into Valentine’s story. The line of ascent is my husband’s great grandmother Lucille DEWITT WILLIAMS CULLOM to her father Milo, to Milo’s father Frances, to Frances’ father Richard, to Richard’s father John, to John’s father Peter, to Peter’s mother Maria KELLER DEWITT, to Maria’s father Jacob KELDER, and to Jacob’s parents Franz KELDER and Anna Barbara ADAM KELDER who are also the parents of Valentine Felter KELDER. Valentine apparently went by the name Felter, at least later in life. In this post though, I will refer to him as Valentine. His grandson who was his namesake also went by Felter and will be referenced later in the post.
Valentine Felter KELDER was born in 1720 in Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, New York. Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, New York is located on the banks of the Hudson River. Dutchess County was only about 37 years old when Valentine was born there. Dutchess County was named for Mary of Modena, Duchess of York. (Wikipedia) Before being settled by the Dutch, this area of New York was home to the Native American Wappinger people – “an Eastern Algonquian-speaking tribe from New York and Connecticut”. (Wikipedia) The town of Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, New York got it’s name both from Rhineland in Germany and also from a local man of influence named Wilhelmus BEEKMAN. Once the Dutch settled in the area, the next wave to inhabit the location were Germans from about 1715-1730. From 1730-1775 it was mostly New Englanders who settled in the area. The KELDER family were among the Germans who settled in Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, New York but they were early immigrants, arriving in New York City in 1710. The KELDERs came from Germany- some say Hesse-Darmstadt and some say Darmstadt-Dieburg. I don’t know enough about German geography to say one way or the other nor do I have the documents to prove either argument. I do suspect though, based on the devotion of the family to the Dutch Reformed Church, that a few generations before Franz KELDER the family was probably living in the Netherlands. The surname KELDER is of Dutch origin and comes from the Middle Dutch word ‘kelder’ which means ‘cellar’. KELDER is considered an occupational surname stemming from the occupation of ‘keepers of the cellar’ or a ‘waiter in a cellar’, particularly in a wine cellar. KELLER (the surname of later generations of the family) is a related name to KELDER. (Ancestry)
How the KELDERs Ended Up in Rochester, Ulster County, New York
In 1731 Valentine’s father, Franz, was granted 300 acres of land by the trustees of Rochester, Ulster County, New York and the family moved there and established themselves. The land was located “northwest of the Kings Highway extending to the Marbletown line”. (Town of Rochester Historic Farmstead Inventory. Marbletown is in Ulster County, New York.)
Franz’s “homestead was located on Whitfield Road where the stone house on the Accord Speedway stands today”.
According to the farmstead inventory, Franz also “operated a mill there”. (Town of Rochester Historic Farmstead Inventory) We know this was a sawmill because the sawmill was given to Joseph KELDER (Franz’ grandson and Valentine’s son) in Valentine’s 1796 will. (See below.) Franz’ heirs inherited pieces of the property. The property now known as Arrowhead Farm became the property of Valentine and Christine KELDER. The property is now considered a Rochester “Historic Farmstead” and is part of the KELDER-RIDER-DEWITT Farm. The official Historic Farmstead Inventory describes the whole of the property (including Arrowhead Farm) as “a distinctive example of an 18th-century farmstead”. (Town of Rochester Historic Farmstead Inventory)
Valentine and Christine SCHMIDT KELDER
In 1741 in Ulster County, New York, Valentine married Christine SCHMIDT. Valentine and Christine had 9 known children together- 7 boys and 2 girls. Just as a side note, Valentine’s father-in-law was Valentine SCHMIDT. Valentine KELDER also had at least one grandson named after him. Generations of the KELDER/KELLER/KELLAR family were members of the Dutch Reformed Church. My husband’s 8th great grandparents, Jacob and Barbara (HEIN) KELDER, along with Jacob’s brother Valentine and Valentine’s wife Christine, (and many other family members) were members of the Dutch Reformed Church in the various places they lived over the years in Ulster County, New York.
In 1796, Valentine wrote his will. It says he was in good health and of sound mind at the time so I’m not certain what prompted him to write the will other than for that time period, he was past what was considered an average lifespan. Wills are always interesting to look at in detail and I’d like to take a look at Valentine’s. In the research I’ve found, there is always a daughter listed as the first child of Valentine and Christine and her name was Mareitje. She isn’t mentioned in his will so perhaps she died prior to him passing away. I don’t know for sure since I haven’t found any information about her. It’s possible she wasn’t his child since in his will he refers to Joseph as his firstborn. As the recognized firstborn, Joseph received his father’s “fowling piece”. A fowling piece is a specific gun used for shooting birds and other small animals.
Joseph also received the farm and woodland near Rochester, Ulster County, New York where he was then residing plus the house, barn, outhouses, sawmill, streams and “appurtenances” that went along with that property.
Many researchers list a son named Isaac that was supposedly the second-born son but he was not mentioned in Valentine’s will nor have I found information about him.
Valentine’s next child, Elizabeth KELDER CRISPELL received the bed and bedding that belonged to her deceased mother Christine plus 10 pounds of lawful New York currency.
The next of Valentine’s children was Petrus but he had already died a few years prior to Valentine. Valentine left his 2 daughters and Jenny (Petrus’ widow and the mother of his girls) a piece of land known as “Callepriest” (I’m not sure this is the name of it- the handwriting was very difficult to read). This was a piece of land Valentine had bought from Jacob DEWITT and consisted of 40 acres near Rochester, Ulster County, New York. The land was situated between Marbletown, Ulster County, New York and Rochester, Ulster County, New York. Petrus’ two daughters were also to receive one milk cow each to be procured by their uncles- Joseph and William- and delivered to the girls immediately upon Valentine’s death.
The next child was Johannes Smith KELDER. Valentine left his son Johannes a farm and the lot of land where Johannes was then residing near Rochester, Ulster County, New York. Johannes was named the administrator of Valentine’s will. Johannes’ son Hendrick was given Valentine’s “negro man farmer”. Valentine indicated that after his debts were paid and the funeral was paid for and after everyone received their property, whatever remained of Valentine’s estate was to go to Johannes.
Next in line was Valentine’s son William. The way Valentine spoke of William and what he was leaving to William leads me to believe that he didn’t expect William to live much longer and, in fact, William did die about the same time Valentine did (about 1810). Nonetheless prior to his passing, Valentine left William the right to go freely in and out of land given to Jenny and to Joseph and to bring his oxen, horses, hays (?), and wagons in and out to cut and carry away firewood and timber for Williams own use. To Williams’ sons, Felter KELDER, Jr. and Petrus KELDER, Valentine left the farm where their father William was then living and they would receive it as Tenants in Common. Legally, this meant that Felter, Jr. and Petrus owned the property together and both had equal rights to the property. Neither could claim sole ownership of any particular piece of the property and when one of them died, their portion was passed to the deceased’s estate and not to the remaining ‘tenant in common’. Additionally, each was free to give or sell their portion of the property to someone else. There are other intricacies to tenancy in common but that’s the basic premise. (Legal Dictionary)
Many researchers list two remaining children – Henricus and Abraham- as being children of Valentine but he doesn’t name them in his will and I’ve found no information about them.
The People Who Helped Build Ulster County, New York
KELDERs and DEWITTs were influential in Ulster County, New York, and their properties have been well-preserved overall. If you’re interested in the KELDER, RIDER, or DEWITT families or their allied families, I highly recommend looking at the Town of Rochester Historic Farmstead Inventory papers I’ve linked to in this blog post. They are a goldmine! The papers give not only a history of the property but a genealogy and history of some of the families. I’ll link them here so you can find them easily:
The Arrowhead Farm & Domino Farm properties contain Whitfield Cemetery and Kelder Cemetery where many KELDER-DEWITT family members are buried. Domino Farm is the last operating dairy farm in Rochester, Ulster County, New York. Sadly, none of the original, complete buildings exist on these two farms but there are remnants of an early Dutch barn that survive inside of what was the hay barn in 2010. Many of the late 1800’s buildings do still exist and some are still in use such as the wagon house, granary, and a second hay barn. One photograph attached to the Domino Farm inventory indicates there is one building on that property that may have been in existence when Valentine KELDER died. It’s #5- Barn I.
KELDER Barn I:
Diagram of original 1810 Barn I:
The only building on the Arrowhead Farm section of the property that was identified as being old enough to have been in existence when Valentine was alive is the stone homestead which was built around 1760. See photo below.
There is so much more to be said about the KELDER family but I’ll leave it at this for now. I’ve got a “future trip wish list” already started for the Catskills. One day we’ll get there. I hope that you’re using your “pandemic time” in a way that gives you hope for the future- like planning a trip you’d like to take one day. Today I’m wishing you hope and a bright and beautiful future.
This week’s theme for 52 Ancestors is “in the kitchen”. I thought I could come up with a lot of photographs of my female ancestors in the kitchen. That’s where women spent a lot of time, right? Not as easy as it sounds. I found one photo of my great grandma Edith in the kitchen. One. That’s it. How is this possible?! I’m not so young that I can’t remember “dish lines” at my grandparents’ homes. You know, a big family meal and then who cleans up? Women. One washes, one rinses, one dries, one puts away…you get the picture. I remember that and yet I have no kitchen photographs. (By the way, I originally thought that was Edith’s mom with her in the picture but now I’m not so sure. Can anyone help me identify who is with Edith here?)
I spent so much of my life looking forward to the dishwasher years- a time when the kitchen cleans itself, in part a least. But I never gave a thought to what would be given up for the dishwasher years. Female companionship and conversation. Advice, warnings, sympathy, cooperation, teamwork. Time spent together that turned people into friends and loved ones. We gave up a lot for the dishwasher years. We lost time dedicated to teaching our young daughters about life.
Having a picture of Edith when she’s smiling makes me happy. By the time she met me she wasn’t smiling as much. I miss her very much. I think I’ll write more about this photo and maybe this topic in the future but today I have other responsibilities to take care of. So for now, I leave you in the capable hands of my paternal great grandmother Edith Cleo (HUBBARD) DRAKE.
Yesterday I received a call and a message on my work phone from a woman I’ve never met. Only, I didn’t know I’d received a call or a message. Yesterday was crazy busy at school and then I stayed after school to work concessions at the basketball homecoming game so I didn’t get home until maybe 9:00 or 9:30. This morning I didn’t go in to work because I had a doctor appointment. So about 12:30-ish this afternoon I stepped into my office for the first time in almost 24 hours. As soon as I entered my office, my phone started ringing. I picked up the phone and found myself speaking to Elizabeth. She introduced herself and explained that she was looking for the Lisa Williams who was related to Ray Keeter. I told her I didn’t recognize the name but maybe if she told me a little of her story I might recognize who she was talking about. It turns out I didn’t recognize the name but I was touched because Elizabeth had a painting that had come out of her father’s office and she felt it needed to be returned to the painter’s family so they could love, enjoy, and care for it. Well…you guys know me. I was hooked! I told her I would help her find the family if I could. So at the end of the day when things were calm I took a few minutes and found a family member of Ray Keeter- his granddaughter, Lisa. Lisa took care of Ray in his final years- much respect to her! I liked her already! So I called the number I found for Lisa, not knowing if it was really her number or maybe disconnected, etc. As it turned out it was Lisa’s number and she called back within just a few minutes. I explained to her that Elizabeth had called me but I wasn’t the right Lisa and I believed she was the right Lisa. She confirmed she was Ray’s granddaughter so I connected her with Elizabeth. It was momentarily satisfying and fun to be a part of that adventure and I love the thought of Ray’s painting being returned to his family. However, the storyteller in me could not stop thinking about this. So this evening I contacted both Lisa and Elizabeth again and asked if I could tell the story of Elizabeth’s dad and of Lisa’s grandfather Ray.
I’m looking forward to their responses and I’m hoping they agree. Just a sneak peek at Ray Keeter, painter. Ray’s final job was Superintendent at the Nuyaka School System southwest of Beggs, Okmulgee County, Oklahoma. If you know me well, you know my dad was a Superintendent for many years in Oklahoma. The connections don’t stop there but I haven’t heard from Lisa about whether she wants to tell her grandfather’s story so I’ll stop there. You wouldn’t believe how many of these kinds of connections I’ve found with Ray in just a couple of hours. In any case, I’ll close here. When you get the chance to do a good deed this week, do it. Helping others helps you.
I realized this morning that I missed the week 4 post. The theme was “favorite photo”. For the week 4 theme I’m going to re-run a post that I occasionally revisit. I thought I’d found the clue to solve this mystery a week or two ago but so far that lead hasn’t panned out. So today I’m revisiting Emily Hennig and hoping someone out there will have the key to solving who this is and how she fits into my family.
Mam (my paternal grandmother, Audrey) gave me a copy of this photo a couple of years before she passed away. The inscription on the back said “Emily Hennig” and was written in cursive and in pencil. It is HENNIG and not Henning. We had a discussion about that name.
Mam said she thought Emily was a grandmother somewhere back down the line but she couldn’t place the woman in our family history and that’s all Mam knew about her. More than a decade later I still have not been able to identify or place (or exclude) this woman in our family history (although I do have theories about who she is and where she goes on the family tree). If you have the answer, please speak up. I’d love to know about her.
I hope your weekend was everything you needed it to be. Enjoy your week!
A few days ago I wrote a post about my 4th great grandparents, Jesse and Mary (BEAR) BAKER. In the post I discussed where all the children went after they were orphaned. I’ve continued researching since I wrote that post and have discovered more information about that. I’ve discovered that the oldest sister Nancy (BEAR) LITTRELL, who was married when her mom (her last living parent, Margaret Jane) passed away, took in her youngest sister Ellen Adaline BEAR. Siblings Sarah and Hugh moved in with the James and Isabel FRAYSER/FRAZIER family. Sarah was listed as their “hired hand” on the 1860 census. It turns out Isabel FRAYSER was Margaret Jane McCUISTION’s sister- Sarah and Hugh’s maternal aunt. I still haven’t found Hill or Thomas yet. You’ll recall that Eliza Jane was a live-in domestic servant for the Isaac and Jane (HINDS) ANDERSON family. I have not yet found any connection between the HINDS-ANDERSON family and the BEAR family other than location so perhaps they were trusted family friends or neighbors. However, I also don’t know the majority of their father Hugh F. BEAR’s family.
Now that I’ve updated a little bit, I also chose this family to write about for this week’s 52 Ancestors theme: Namesake. This family has been difficult to research in part because they had a tradition of re-using family names. Generations of the family will have many with the same names. Let me give you a couple of examples. I used Eliza Jane BEAR SCHELL as my “homebase” person since I’m most familiar with her family and I know for sure that we connect with her. Jane is a common BEAR family name. Eliza went by Jane and so did her mother even though Jane was a middle name for both of them. Eliza also had an aunt (her mom’s sister) who was named Jane M. In addition to Eliza, her mother and her aunt, Eliza Jane had a niece named Rebecca Jane, two first cousins named Margaret Jane (Eliza’s mother’s exact name!), three first cousins named Mary Jane, and first cousins named Elizabeth Jane, Darlutha Jane, and Patsy Jane. Eliza Jane also had a first cousin name…Eliza Jane Isabel! Thankfully some of the ‘Margaret Jane’, ‘Mary Jane’ and ‘Eliza Jane’ women had different last names. In addition to all of this, some BEAR family researchers believe Eliza Jane’s sister Sarah also had the middle name Jane! The earliest Jane I can find in the family at the moment (keeping in mind I have no information about Eliza Jane’s paternal family) is Eliza Jane’s maternal great grandmother Catherine Jane TENNANT (for whom several females in the family are named) so it’s likely this is where the ‘Jane’ name originated.
This naming tradition holds true for the men in the family as well. Eliza Jane’s maternal great grandfather was James McCUISTION. He was married to Catherine Jane TENNANT. Like Catherine, he had quite a few namesakes in the family. Eliza Jane had a nephew named James T., a nephew named James Hill (Hill was a name repeated frequently in this family), a nephew named James Isaac who went by Ike, uncles named James Conway (Conway being another frequently repeated name in the family) and Thomas James P. (Thomas is another repeated name in the family), and first cousins named James Holland, James O., James Marion, James Rankin (Rankin being a family surname and also often repeated among both the males and females of the family), James L., James Stanley, James Lafayette, James J. who went by Jethro or Jim, and James Berry. It seems like every child and grandchild he had must have named at least one son James!
I have so many more examples of namesakes in this family but names without stories is no fun. So I’m going to leave you with this small update and just an inkling of how complicated it can be to research this family because of the namesake situation. I’m continuing to do in-depth research on the family trying to find our BEAR/BARE connection. The phrase “so close, yet so far” certainly sums up the research situation.
The last year or two I’ve tried to move forward in my genealogy by using my family history research combined with my DNA results. This week I’ve been working on my BEAR-BAKER line. My 4th great-grandparents are Jesse and Mary (BEAR) BAKER. Their son and my 3rd great grandfather, Jehue BAKER, is the last in the line of whom I’m certain. I know for sure he belongs to me. I start getting shaky at Jesse and Mary and can’t get beyond those two at all. After connecting my DNA with my family history research, I believe I can attach us to the right BEAR family. It’s a bit more difficult to find the exact ancestor that belongs to us.
The first genetic connection I found to the BEAR family was a woman named Joyce. Excluding my family-of-origin connections. Joyce was one of my top 10 matches and estimated to be my 2nd-4th cousin. Unfortunately she had no family tree posted on the DNA site. I went to Ancestry.com and tried finding her there as a member. I did find her but her tree was nearly non-existent. There was one couple listed on the tree- Hill SCHELL and Inez Marie HOOD SCHELL. Fortunately, Hill was from McDonald County, Missouri and Inez was from Jasper County, Missouri, so I knew I was at least in the right location and that Hill SCHELL probably connected to my family somehow- Inez was less of a possibility for that time period. I had never heard or come across the SCHELL name so I was a little stumped. I began a new tree with Hill as the beginning member so I could work back from there. Then I got on the DNA site and looked up my matches that were researching that particular surname. I also sent an email to Joyce. Within a couple of weeks Joyce’s husband replied to my email that his wife had passed away recently. She was adopted and knew nothing of her birth family. She had done her DNA in the hopes of finding her birth family but wasn’t successful. He also didn’t know anything about her biological family and there were no other living relatives to whom he could refer me. Eventually, I did discover that Hill connected to the BEAR family but I was unable to make any connections beyond that. I am, however, certain that Hill is our cousin.
The BEAR/BARE Family
As of this date, I still haven’t found out the exact connection. I know it’s the right family in general though. (There may even be a connection to our LITTRELL family here!) Hill SCHELL was the grandson of Philip and Eliza Jane (BEAR) SCHELL. Hill is a family name passed down through the generations of BEAR men. Hill died in Springdale, Washington County, Arkansas in 1992. I was living so close to him! If only I’d known he was there. His paternal grandmother, Eliza Jane BEAR SCHELL, went by Jane.
She was born 10 May 1846/1847 in War Eagle Township, Madison County, Arkansas. Her parents were Hugh and Margaret Jane (McCUISTION/McCHRISTIAN) BARE/BEAR. Eliza (who went by Jane) married Philip SCHELL in 1867 in McDonald County, Missouri. She passed away 4 July 1912 in Mountain Township, McDonald County, Missouri. She passed away from LaGrippe. LaGrippe caused a horrific and hours-long death process by which the sufferer slowly suffocated to death- excruciating for both the sufferer and the family members unable to help their loved one. Philip and Eliza Jane had 11 known children. Eliza’s sister, Nancy, married James LITTRELL. I have not determined yet if he belongs to our LITTRELL family.
Our Hugh F. BARE/BEAR was born about 1817 in Ohio. There are two men named Hugh BARE/BEAR who lived at the same time. They also married about the same time and their children share some of the same names. Their Ancestry trees have been so jumbled together it’s hard to figure out what the truth is about the family. Our Hugh BARE/BEAR was born in Ohio. Our Hugh’s middle name was likely Franklin but there are no records that say what it really was. The guess of ‘Franklin’ was based on the fact he had a grandson named Hugh Franklin.
Family legend says that the BARE/BEAR family was Cherokee. There are no records that exist for Hugh prior to 1839. This fact actually supports that the family could have been Cherokee. As I was told by a Cherokee researcher once, the Cherokee didn’t keep written records until they were forced to by the federal government. The fact that the children were orphaned before most of them were of age means that the children were split up and sent to various family members and/or neighbors to be raised. Despite being separated, many lines of the family have the same family legend- that the family is Cherokee.
Hugh married Margaret Jane McCUISTION/McCHRISTIAN about 1838. She went by “Jane”. Hugh passed away about 1854 in Madison County, Arkansas. Jane passed away a few years later in 1859 also in Madison County, Arkansas. Their oldest child (Nancy) was born in 1839. Nancy married the year after her father died so she was already out of the home when her mother died. Daughter Sarah was born in 1840. In the 1860 census (the year after she was orphaned), Sarah and her little brother Hugh (b. 1849) were living with the James FRAZIER/FRAYSER family at Shells Mills, McDonald County, Missouri and Sarah was listed as their “hired hand”. I’m not sure where Hill (b. 1843) was in 1860 but by 1862 he was enlisting with the Confederacy in Carroll County, Arkansas. I also don’t know where Thomas (b. 1844) went. Researchers of Eliza Jane (b. 1846/1847) believe she stayed in Madison County, Arkansas and was a live-in domestic servant to the Isaac Anderson family. I have also been unable to locate Ellen (b. 1851) in the 1860 census.
Genetically, I’ve been able to connect my DNA to descendants of Philip and Eliza Jane (BEAR) SCHELL, descendants of James and Nancy A. (BEAR) LITTRELL, and descendants of James and Sarah (BEAR) CLANTON. My DNA connects to many SCOTT and BEAR/BARE/BAIR families but I haven’t been able to prove any solid connection to Ellen (BEAR) SCOTT or the BEAR/BARE brothers. The problem is, our Mary (BEAR) BAKER would have been a contemporary of Hugh F. BARE/BEAR- the father of all these people. She would likely have been Hugh’s sister or cousin. To date, no researcher has been able to prove who Hugh’s parents or other family members were. At this point, I’ve gathered a good number of the descendants and I’ll begin sorting them into family groups and seeing which line we are most closely connected to by DNA. Until then, I’ll be happy that we made some progress on the line.
One more quick story that I thought was fun. As I was researching the descendants of one of my BEAR family DNA matches, discovered that one of his descendants – a distant cousin of ours – lived in EXACTLY the same house that Bart and I lived in in Springdale, Arkansas when we first got married!
It sure is a small world! Maybe one day I’ll figure out how we fit into this family.
This week’s post discusses a family legend about my 2nd great grandfather, Nicholas Wilhelm REITER.
If you’d like to read previous stories about him, you can go to my home page, scroll down and find the search box, type in his name and hit [enter]. That will bring up a list of posts that include information about him. The story my granny (my maternal grandmother and the granddaughter of Nicholas) always told about him is that he immigrated here by stowing away on a ship. I’m not sure how true the story is especially since he would have only been about 5 years old in 1830 when he was said to have immigrated here.
The International Maritime Organization defines a stowaway as,
a person who is secreted on a ship, or in cargo which is subsequently loaded on the ship, without the consent of the shipowner or the Master or any other responsible person and who is detected on board the ship after it has departed from a port or in the cargo while unloading it in the port of arrival, and is reported as a stowaway by the Master to the appropriate authorities.”
According to an article in The New Yorker, there was no word in the English language for ‘stowaway’ until 1848. Etymonline confirms this information. In 1850, the U.S. created the legal concept of a stowaway. By 1891 there were legal ramifications for shipmasters who were found to have a stowaway. The shipmasters had to pay for the stowaways’ return travel to their country of origin- even if the stowaway was admitted into the U.S. and stayed! Notable people who have made their way to America by stowing away on a ship include silent film actor Henry Armetta, Lindbergh kidnapper Richard Hauptmann, painter Willem de Kooning, writer Jan Valtin, and yachtsman Florentino Das. (Wikipedia)
Immigration in the early 1800’s from Europe to America was difficult. There wasn’t enough of it to justify dedicating resources to it, so immigrants often got rides on merchant vessels- if they were able to pay the fare. Merchant ships weren’t outfitted for passenger transport. To begin their journey, those wanting to immigrate to America had to find a port of departure and in doing so had to consider their route to get to the port, decide which port was closest to their home, but also consider how likely they were to find a ship there that was going to America. As immigration increased, the number of ports of departure available for that purpose began to concentrate in certain areas. Around the time of Nicholas’ departure from Germany, the port of Le Havre, France had become the main point of departure for Europeans.
To see additional pictures and information about the port of Le Havre, France, go to genhist.org.
South Germans arrived in Le Havre either overland or by sailing from Cologne, Germany.
North Germans also sailed to Le Havre Port. However, the ports of Bremen, Germany and Hamburg, Germany were rising in popularity. In 1832, the heavy immigration from Germany to America began. At this point, passenger transportation became important enough to dedicate resources to building ships designed to carry passengers rather than merchandise. It was around 1816 or so that New York City, New York became the principal arrival point in the U.S. rather than Philadelphia, Pennyslvania. From 1830 on, New York was “the gateway of the nation”. (https://www.gjenvick.com)
Depending on the time of year and the weather, the voyage from Europe could take from 1 to 2 months. Beginning about 1830, passengers were required to provide food for themselves for 6 weeks. In the summer of 1835, a transport via ship to America was at least $16 U.S. dollars. Ship conditions for people were “a serious menace to life”. (https://www.gjenvick.com) Conditions on ships were so bad and immigrants arrived so ill that by the 1840’s laws were being made to improve conditions. Upon arrival, immigrants were forced to navigate a sea of swindlers and grifters as soon as they stepped onto land. South Germans were among the most swindled of all immigrants because they most often came as individuals or in single families. It reminds me of the phrase “strength in numbers”. North Germans were more likely to come as very large village-groups and were more able to protect themselves and each other. It was so bad that the Germans formed an aid society to help and protect newly arriving German immigrants. John Jacob ASTOR was a primary funder for the German Society of the City of New York. Some states eventually began enacting laws to protect and help new immigrants. Sadly, the swindling worsened exponentially and eventually the Irish immigrants received the worst of it until states stepped up and assisted them. You can read more about what the immigrants endured to get to America by going to https://www.gjenvick.com.
Given Nicholas’ date of immigration, his most likely route to America was from his home in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany to the port at Le Havre, France and from there via ship to New York, New York.
At some point he ended up in Perry, Pike County, Illinois and from there to Oklahoma Territory (most likely arriving shortly after the 1890 land run). It was hard to read what new immigrants went through when I thought of it in terms of my 2nd great grandfather. I sometimes wonder if I would have had the same level of desire to be here- or the same level of courage it took to get here and make a life for myself and my family. Sometimes, people are heroes and we don’t even know it.
Be courageous. Be bold. Live your dreams. They’re worth it.