Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Were You Lyon Then, Or Are You Lyon Now?

I’ve moved from my 6x greats to 7x, but I almost missed one 6x great-grandmother because the last name is the same as a 7x time great-grandmother (although from different lines).  I’m going to slip back to the six level for this post.

I found little information about my 6x great-grandmother, Joanna Lyon, other than that she was born to Benjamin Lyon and Bethia Condit in Lyons Farms, NJ, probably around 1691.  Most of the biographical sources actually were more about her husband, Joseph Prudden, than about her.   She was married before 1720 when her married name appears in her father’s will.  Her father gave her land and 15 pounds.  She died sometime before her husband’s death in 1776 (in 1761 according to the Lyon(s) Families Association), inferred from the fact that she was not mentioned in her husband's will.

Benjamin was born about 1668 in Elizabethtown or Newark, NJ to Henry Lyon and Elizabeth Bateman.  He was an influential citizen--a surveyor of Elizabethtown, a member of the Assembly, a Justice of the Peace--all over a ten year period.  Based on his will, he also owned a significant amount of land.

According to published genealogies, Henry Lyon was born in 1628 in Perthshire, Scotland, but I’m not confident that the date and location have actually been documented. Henry does appear in the records of the First Church of Milford, CT in 1649 when he became a member.  He later traveled to Fairfield where his brother, Richard, lived and there married Elizabeth Bateman in 1652.  He was dismissed to the Fairfield Church in 1654.  From there, Henry and his family moved to New Jersey.  He was Newark NJ’s first Treasurer and first innkeeper.  Then on to Elizabethtown, where in 1675 he was a General Assembly member, later a judge, Justice of the Peace, a Commissioner, among other public positions.  He owned land in Newark and Elizabeth, and between the two an area known as Lyons Farms.  He died in 1703.

It is now known the three volumes of the Lyon Memorial have errors, not surprising because family tradition and assumption is the basis for much of the early years.  The Lyon(s) Families Association has sponsored DNA analysis, so I know efforts are being made to evaluate Lyon lineage.  At one time it was thought Henry was a brother to another of my Lyon ancestors, Thomas, but DNA results show that is not true.  So many town records have been lost as a result of war, fire, and other disasters, I’m not not sure it will ever be possible to know the truth with any sense of reliability.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Gardiner Family-In Which I Think about Being a Lady

This post begins with Elizabeth Gardiner, 7x great-grandmother, supposedly born around 1658, Easthampton, Long Island, NY to David Gardiner.  I couldn’t find records on Elizabeth for her birth or baptism dates, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist somewhere, just that the birth year can’t be confirmed here.  I did find her marriage to James Parshall in 1678 in American Marriage Records Before 1699 by William Montgomery Clemens.

Elizabeth’s father, David, was born in 1636 in Saybrook, CT but married in London.  His wife was the widow Mary Harringman supposedly, as there is a record of a marriage in the parish register from St. Margaret's in London, England.  However, from my research, I could find no proof that the David Gardiner of the parish record was my David Gardiner and according to a query on rootsweb, there are no NY records that mention even his wife’s first name. 

He died suddenly while on a trip to Hartford and he is buried there.  The inscription on the gravestone is interesting to me:

Born at Saybrook April 29 1636
The first white child born in

Wow.  Well. Sick. Dead. In one hour's space.  Wish I knew more of the story there.

David’s parents were Lion Gardiner and Mary Deurcant. Lion was born in England in 1599 and eventually traveled to Holland as an officer and engineer in the English Army.  He met and married Mary Deurcant, a native of Holland.  Lion, my immigrant Gardiner, arrived with his wife in 1635 and settled in Saybrook, CT, where he commanded the fort. In 1639 the family moved to Gardiner Island, purchased by Lion from the Indians, establishing the first settlement in NY.  Lion died in 1663 and is buried in Easthampton, Long Island.

Wikipedia has a very interesting page on Gardiner Island.  It’s been owned by the (my!) family for almost 375 years.  Maybe my brother has right to claim the 17th Lord of the Manor of Gardiner’s Island—or maybe I’ll make a grab for Lady of the Manor.  Can’t wait to tell my husband he could be my consort.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Woodin It Be Nice

Bethia Woodin, who married Samuel Gaskill of Salem, MA, is a bit of a mystery to me.  I find very specific dates for her on online trees, but I can’t find a reference of any kind that provides any legitimate confirmation for those dates.  I do know she’s the daughter of John Woodin because a June 30, 1721, bond for the administration of his estate:  “The condition of this present obligation is such that of the above-bounden Sam: Gaskell in rights of Bethiah, his wife, daughter of the said John Wooden who died at Carolina, formerly of Haver-hill, Decd.”  She appears in other estate documents as well.

I found a little more information on John.  He was born in England and, once in America, seemed to lead an itinerant life (Ipswich, Salem, Haverhill…) and died in 1678.  It would be nice to get my hands on an old issue of the American Genealogist, I’d know a lot more.  (Janet Ireland Delorey, “John Woodin, Brickmaker, of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and South Carolina,” American Genealogist 64 (1989): 65–74, 150–56, 238–45.)  I should probably order it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Hallock She Is

As I have pursued my maternal side back to colonial America, it has become apparent that the desire to have “important” ancestors, regardless of the absence of facts, is nothing new.   It has caused me to develop a healthy skepticism of published family genealogies.  If they don’t cite sources, I consider them the equivalent of online trees—possibly accurate and therefore useful for clues, but not much more.  It makes me cringe when they use phrases like “tradition has it…”

The published Hallock genealogies seem to have made up an ancestor.  But before I get to that-

My 6x great-grandmother, Anna Hallock, appears on the Salmon Records in a record of her 1706/7 marriage to John Youngs.  Anna Hallock also appears in a 1698 list of inhabitants of Southold, NY.  The name appears with other Hallocks that I surmise is a family.  If so then, it is likely her father is Thomas Hallock and her mother is Hope.  However, I find nothing to confirm this is the right Anna, so I’m not officially adding them to my tree.  Just Anna.

I guess maybe I’m naïve about genealogy research.  I don’t understand why someone claims a weak link is a solid one, or worse, claims the existence of a relationship that is not supported by facts.  I don’t mean the situations where there is enough information to suggest a probable, reasonable connection.  I mean...well... to quote nearly every TV legal drama ever produced, "Objection.  Facts not in evidence."  Two published Hallock genealogies provide an example.

From A Hallock genealogy: an attempt to tabulate and set in order the numerous descendants of Peter Hallock who landed at Southold, by Lucius H. Hallock, published 1926 that quotes from A Brief Sketch of the Hallock Ancestry by William A. Hallock, published in 1866:
Peter Hallock, the ancestor of those of the name in this country, was one of thirteen pilgrim fathers, including Rev. John Youngs, who in 1640 fled from civil and religious oppression in England, and landed at New Haven (Connecticut).
And at one point it states, "the following facts, which are confirmed by multiplied records and memorials" (emphasis mine) and then proceeds to list events, land purchases, etc that are attributed to Peter Hallock.  Yet, not only are these specific facts not confirmed, later researchers have determined that Peter Hallock (supposed immigrant) does not appear at all in early Southold records.  

William Hallock, supposedly his son, is the first to appear.  William is in the 1675 tax list for Southold (the only other Hallock in 1675 is a John).  Then William’s son Thomas is in his father’s 1682 will and in the 1698 tax list.  Thomas is possibly the above-mentioned father of Anna.  Later generation Peters do appear in the 1698 tax list, perhaps causing confusion for some researchers hoping for proof of the immigrant Peter.

At least I know the name Hallock (variation of Hallyok, Holyoke, Hollioak, etc)  existed in Southold.  That’s something, I guess.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Prudden shall we call him?, or, Prudent?"

My 5x great-grandmother, Sarah Prudden, was born in 1725 to Joseph Prudden and Joanna Lyon.  She married Benjamin Halsey in 1747 and she died in 1760, leaving behind about six children, all under 12.

Joseph Prudden was born in Milford, CT in 1692 to Rev. John Prudden and Grace (Uknown).  He later moved to New Jersey with his family, where he died in 1776.  He was married to Joanna Lyon of Connecticut.  It appears he had a bit of a checkered relationship with the First Presbyterian Church of Morristown.  I don’t think he was one of the prudent Pruddens.

John Prudden, born in 1645 in Milford, was the son of Rev. Peter Prudden and Joanna Boyse.  He had a successful career in the Presbyterian Church after graduating from Harvard in 1668.  John founded the New Jersey branch of the family.  He died in Newark, NJ in 1725.

Peter was born in England in 1601 and sailed to Boston in 1637.  He led a group who hoped to establish a Christian Commonwealth.  In 1638 the group moved to New Haven, CT, the site they selected for their new community.  At the New Haven, only church members were allowed any official civil role.   Sometime later, Peter led some of the settlers to another location, Milford, CT, where they established a Puritan community.  Eventually they were not able to sustain Milford independently and became part of the New Haven Colony, but not with out raising issues between the two jurisdictions.

According to the 1901 book by Lillian Prudden Peter Prudden--A story of His Life:

…disapproval of their "laxity" caused opposition to their admission because they had "taken in as free burgesses six planters, not in church fellowship."
The difficulty was only adjusted when the Milford deputies promised that these unchurched free burgesses should not at any time be chosen deputies, nor vote at the election of magistrates, and that in future, no one should be admitted to citizenship except "according to the New Haven plan."

Although a Puritan, Peter Prudden seemed to carry some level of tolerance.  That created a level of fondness for him that I lacked for other Puritan ancestors.

From the same book:

When poor Hanna Spencerf is convicted at New Haven, Mr. Prudden is there and pays the fine of ten pounds, perhaps deeming it sufficient punishment for her that she must be present at the whipping post when her lover, William Ellitt, is corrected.

The monotonous life was broken not only by church-going on Sunday and Lecture days, but by corn-husking, house-raisings and house-warmings, spinning bees, gatherings at weddings and funerals, and by training and election days with their sports of cudgel, back-swords, fencing, running, wrestling, nine-pins and quoits. At these times everybody present, including the minister, partook more or less of the liberally provided strong drinks.

Peter died in 1656 and Cotton Mather included a eulogy for Peter in his book Magnalia, in part saying,

(Prudden shall we call him?, or, Prudent?), who besides his other excellent qualities, was noted for a singular faculty to sweeten, compose and qualify exasperated spirits, and stop or heal all contentions.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Not every Arnold is Famous

Well, my 6x great-grandmother, Catherine Arnold, wife of James Ballou, is apparently of unknown parentage, and is not the daughter of Elisha, although the book Ballous in America said otherwise.  

I found the following in several forums; I assume as an effort to correct the record as much as possible--

Gary Boyd Robert's "Ancestors of American Presidents 2009 Edition", pg. 243 says:
"Catherine Arnold, born at Pawtucket, R.I. 28 Feb. 1690, daughter of Elisha Arnold and Susanna Carpenter, married Ebenezer Bates, not James Ballou, Jr.".
His sources for that are E.S. Arnold, "The Arnold Memorial" (1935), p. 86 and "Rhode Island Genealogical Register 3" (1980-81):239.
The Catherine Arnold that married James Ballou Jr., 25 Jan 1713, her parentage is unknown. Same Roberts source above, pg. 67.

Given Mr. Roberts expertise and association with NEHGS, I feel I should accept this for now, but I still want to review these sources at some point.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Alice Pickering, my 5x great-grandmother, was born in 1703 in Salem, MA, the daughter of Benjamin Pickering and Jane Hobby.  She married Jonathan Gaskill in 1726 and they moved to first to Mendon, MA and then to Cumberland, RI.  I found several online trees that indicated she died after Sept. 17, 1778 in Cumberland, but I found no other sources for a date of death. 

Alice’s father, Benjamin, was born in 1666 in Salem, MA.  He was a mariner and then a yeoman, the latter occurring perhaps because he inherited land from his father.  In addition, Benjamin served at the garrison at Quaboge during the Indian war.  I searched to find out how Benjamin might have been involved in the Witch Trials, and found nothing (although Alice married the son of someone who was definitely involved).  Then, in 1701 he and his brother William agreed to divide the property they inherited—literally.  According to the 1897 The Pickering Genealogy by Harrison Ellery (the source of much of the information for this post):
By this agreement he was to have the west part of the house with one of the ovens and half of the cellar, the eastern part of the great barn, one-third part of the north leanto and all the land to the westward.
Benjamin died in 1718 and apparently some property had to be sold to cover debts.  His widow, Jane, outlived him by over 30 years, dying in 1750.  Jane is purported to have come from Plymouth, England but I found no documentation of that or of anything else about her other than the marriage.

John Pickering and Alice Flint Bullock were Benjamin’s parents.  John was born in 1637, likely in Salem, to John Pickering and Elizabeth (Unknown, possibly Alderman).  He inherited and purchased, from other family members, the family home and estate.  He was very active in public affairs and held many official positions for the town of Salem.  He served as a lieutenant in the militia and fought the Indians in the battle at Bloody Brook.  He died in 1694.

The elder John was the first immigrant of my Pickering line.  He was born in England around 1615, owned a house near Newgate, Coventry, and was living in Salem, MA by 1637.  He was granted land by the town and later purchased additional lots.  The town contracted with John to build their meeting-house and later to maintain the bridge (apparently there were some problems with the quality of the bridge and he had to pay a penalty of one bull and one cow to the town). .  It is thought he was not a member of the Salem Church because no record is found that he took the freeman’s oath or that he had any public positions, along with the fact that record was found of his wife’s membership. In 1651, John built his home that today is called the Pickering House, the oldest American home still standing and, to this day, has been home to the Pickering family.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It Only Takes One

My pursuit of family history is something I do because I enjoy it, but it is nice to know there's at least one family member who’s eyes don’t roll back in their head when the subject comes up.  One of my cousins is intrigued by the direction my Murray research has gone and took at sidetrip to Cayuga County, NY, our 2x great-grandfather’s birthplace. 

She sent me photos from her visit and I am posting them here to include them in the record.  I really appreciate it because I’m not sure I’ll ever make the trip there myself.

First up, the Auburn First Presbyterian Church where my 3x great-grandmother, Ruth Snow Murray, was a founding member in 1811 (structure now used by another church).

Brutus, NY probably looks much like it did in 1812 when my 2x great-grandfather, Erastus Murray, was born there in 1812.  Well, except for the power line.

Throopsville Rural Cemetery-The grave of Christina, the first wife of Erastus and my 2x great-grandmother, who died in 1856--not long after the birth of my great-grandfather, Albert.

Ruth and her daughters, Jane, Lydia and Lucetta, lived at number 26 in 1857.

Approximate place of 34 Canal Street where Erastus lived in 1857.  There are no homes now but there is evidence there were once homes on the street.

Auburn Prison, where Erastus was appointed a guard in 1859 (apparently you’re not allowed to get any closer for photos)

Current home of the he Cayuga Children's Home, formerly the Cayuga Asylum for Destitute Children, where Erastus’s children were taken before being bound out to other families. (original building at another location was torn down)

Gravestones of Ruth, Jane, Lydia and Lucetta.  Ruth’s is the tall one in the center, Jane’s is to the left, the small ground stone, then to the right, Lucetta and Lydia.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Part and Parshall

My 5x great-grandmother, Bethia Parshall, was the wife of two of my 5x great-grandfathers, first, David Youngs and second, Benjamin Halsey, but my blood relation to her is only through the Youngs marriage.  She was born in 1724 on Long Island, New York, the daughter of David Parshall and Mary (Unknown).

David was born in 1682 to James Parshall and Elizabeth Gardiner, probably on Gardiners Island, NY.  He had significant land holdings and was one of the richest men in the area.  (Alas, nothing from all these prominent landowners I keep encountering in my family history trickled down to me.)  He was in the Southold Militia, but otherwise was not as involved as other family members in the official activities of the town.  He died in 1726, a few months after Mary’s death.  

(As an aside on his wife Mary, some genealogies indicate she was a Gardiner, but that is incorrect.  I inadvertently passed on the error here.  See Errata, Controversies, Common Errors, and  New Discoveries  In Southold Genealogy”  for details.)

It is claimed in The History of the Parshall Family, published in 1903, that David’s father, James, was born in England, probably mid-1600s (or so), but, to me, it did not seem to have a solid foundation for that.  In The Parshall Family A.D. 870-1913, it suggests that James was not the first Parshall emigrant, but rather it was his father, Jonas.  There seem to be reasonable sources for the existence of Jonas Pershall, born between 1590 and 1595 in England.  However, the suggestions that Jonas sailed to Virginia because his uncle was associated with that Colony and that he had a son, James, born either in Virginia or New York, seem to be pure speculation.

Both books then pick up James Pershall at the point--He first appears in a Aquebogue, deed record in 1679 as a resident of the Isle of Wight (Gardiner’s Island).  Based on dates in other records, it’s reasonable to assume he married in about 1678.  Then by 1686, the family was living in Southold, NY. 

In my research I discovered there are many variations of the name.  I wonder why neither book connected James to Henry Pearsall (a known variation of the name) who emigrated from England and who is documented in Long Island records.  Maybe they did consider him, but were able to conclude there was no connection.  Maybe I need to do some digging.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ballou, Oui?

I was fortunate that the Ballou genealogy is available in a published format.  The original book (love this title) An Elaborate History of the Ballous in America, was published in 1888, followed by 1937 and 1942 addendums.  It was interesting that the 1937 addendum was compiled by the Historical Records Survey, Division of Women’s and Professional Projects, Works Progress Administration. 

But on to the family history—

Sarah Ballou was my 5x great-grandmother.  She was born in Wrentham Massachusetts (now Cumberland, RI), in 1713, the daughter of James Ballou and Catherine Arnold.  After her marriage to Uriah Jillson around 1734, she lived in Rhode Island.  (To clarify some of the jurisdiction name changes, see the comments and maps in my previous post)

Sarah’s parents were James Ballou and Catherine Arnold.  James was born in what is now Lincoln, RI, but was then Providence, in 1684.  James and Catherine moved from Providence (Smithfield) to what was essentially a wilderness region that would eventually be Cumberland, RI.  He built his home there, became a landowner of multiple tracts, and eventually donated the quarter acre property on which the Elder Ballou Meeting House was situated.

James was the son of James Ballou and Susanna Whitman.  He was born in Providence, RI, likely in 1652.  He inherited several tracts of land and added to them with later purchases,  eventually allowing James and his three sons sufficient land to all have homesteads on the property.  Prior to his death, James conveyed the land to his sons equally.  In his 1734 will, his other property was given to his children, with most going to His son Samuel who had cared for his father during his declining years.  James died sometime after 1741 when he made his final arrangement of his affairs.

The senior James was the son of Maturin Ballou (also Bellowe and Belloo) and Hannah Pike.  Nothing definite is known of Maturin’s origins or when he first came to America.  Some believe he was born in Devonshire, England around 1626, but as far as I can tell this is speculation.  He first appears in the Providence records in 1645, but was likely there earlier.  Some of the town records were destroyed by Indians in 1676, during King Philip’s war, so early documentation was lost.  Maturin is recorded as having signed a 1645 agreement giving him and others 25 acres each, but they would not have a right to purchase the land or vote until they were received as freemen of Providence.  Maturin was recorded as becoming a freeman in 1658.  He died between 1661 and 1663.

Maturin’s will was very detailed and divided his estate equitably among his wife and children.  It specified that his three sons and their heirs were to be equally responsible for the care of his wife Hannah and daughter Hannah.  Subsequent to Maturin’s death, both his wife and daughter required special care and chose Maturin’s son James to provide the assistance.  In exchange, they gave James their portion of the inherited estate.  Maturin’s other living son, John, was unhappy with this result and left the legacy of dissatisfaction to his son, John, who took legal action against his uncle.  In the end, the expense of care provided was deemed to exceed the value of the land and James retained the land rights.

In the Ballou book, the author claims the Ballous’ French origins are prior to the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and that after that some descendants remained in England and that possible Huguenot origins have been debunked.  I wonder…I found it interesting that a quick search on found this:

Naissances et baptêmes de Haute-Bretagne, France, 1501-1907   
(Upper Brittany, France Births & Christenings, 1501-1907)
Mathurin Balue
26 août 1629 (26 Aug 1629)
Rennes, Ille-et-Vilaine
Record Type:
ABGH Parchemin
Full Text:
BALUE Mathurin, Fils de Jean & Christine GUERARD, 26 08 1629
Source Information: Upper Brittany, France Births & Christenings, 1501-1907 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010.
Original data: association ABGH Parchemin. Base de données indexées à partir de registres de naissance et baptême. Rennes, France: ABGH Parchemin.
This database contains birth and christening data indexed from original parish and civil vital records by members of ABGH Parchemin, a genealogical association in France. Records approximately cover the years 1501-1907 for Upper Brittany, France. Information contained in the database includes: name of child, birth or christening date, and birth or christening place

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Massachusetts or Rhode Island? Depends on the Year

The changing  state boundaries of the colonial era can make locations very confusing.    It helped me understand the details better when I compared these two maps.  Also, a quick trip to Wikipedia helped me understand the land tracts that were purchased and how they related to current geography.

In 1641, the Plymouth Colony (at the time separate from the Massachusetts Bay Colony) purchased from the Indians a large tract of land which today includes the northern half of East Providence (from Watchemoket to Rumford), Rehoboth, Massachusetts, Seekonk, Massachusetts, and part of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. In 1645, John Brown of Plymouth bought a considerably smaller piece of land from the Indians, which today comprises the southern part of East Providence (Riverside), Barrington, Rhode Island, and a small part of Swansea, Massachusetts. Finally, in 1661, Plymouth completed the "North Purchase", from which Cumberland, Rhode Island, Attleboro, Massachusetts and North Attleborough, Massachusetts were later to be formed. The whole territory, which also included parts of modern Somerset, Massachusetts, and Warren, Bristol, and Woonsocket in Rhode Island, was at the time called "Rehoboth". The center of "Old Rehoboth" was within the borders of modern East Providence, Rhode Island.

View Larger Map

My 4x great-grandmother, Sarah Jillson was born in 1745 in Cumberland, RI and later moved with her husband, Silas Gaskill, to Richmond, NH.   Sarah is easily found in Genealogy of the Gillson and Jillson Family by David Jillson, the source of most of the information here.

Sarah’s father was Uriah Jillson, a well-known resident of Cumberland, a large landholder who held many official offices during his lifetime, including Town Sergeant, Town Treasurer, and Justice of the Peace and he was a soldier during the Revolutionary War.  His birth year is not known, but he was probably born in Attleboro, MA.  He died in 1781.

Uriah was the son of Nathaniel Jillson and Elizabeth, last name unknown.  Nathaniel and Elizabeth were married between 1700 and 1705. Nathaniel, born in 1674, was a cooper, a farmer and he owned substantial land in Bellingham, MA (but what is now Woonsocket, RI) and he died in 1751.  Also, it appears the surname changed from Gilson to Jillson during Nathaniel’s lifetime.

Nathaniel was the son of James Gilson and Mary, last name unknown.  James first appears in the record books of Rehoboth, MA (now Attleboro) in 1666.  Subsequently, his name appears often in land records for Rehobeth.  He and Mary both died in 1712.

There are several Gilsons who emigrated from Britain, but it is not known which one was James’ ancestor, or if in fact, James might have been the emigrant.  I guess I’ll have to learn to live with this as the endpoint.