Sunday, July 31, 2011

Speculation, Speculation and More Speculation

I thought a few posts ago I was leaving behind my Pennsylvania research for awhile, but I uncovered a few more surnames


My 4x great-grandmother, Margaret Julia Dimner, appears in her husband’s online DAR listing. (John Beaver/Beeber)  It states she was born in Muncy, PA in 1762.  I find that location hard to believe.  I read a lot of Lycoming County history because so many of my ancestors eventually resided there.  By all accounts, that area was still very much frontier and under threat of Indian attack until after the Revolutionary War.  The early settlers actually left during the Revolution because of Indian attacks and returned later to establish a more permanent settlement.  If the Dimners had been such early settlers, their name would be included among lists of first settlers and it's not.  Some have confused Margaret Julia Dimner with Mary J Dimn, daughter of Christopher Dimn (Dimm) for a variety of reasons (i. e., Christopher's sister married a Dimner, the daughter Mary Dimn married Jacob Bieber, Margaret's son)

In the Biographical Annals of Montgomery County Pennsylvania, a section on the Bieber family mentions Julia Dimner and her parents, George and Julia Dimner.  There is no reference to places of birth.  I also found a George Timmer in the 1800 census of Schoharie, New York that leads me to think there is a Palatine German connection.  And in the 1810 census there is a George Timmer in the Northampton County, PA.  I’m not sure how the former location connects with Montgomery County, but the Northampton County location is consistent with what later became Lycoming County.  I am at a temporary dead end on this one.


My 4x great-grandmother, Maria Barbara Schneider, believed to have been born in 1764, may have been born in Lehigh County, PA, but it is just a guess at this point because I have so little to go on.  If this is the right person, then her father, Johann Nicholaus Schneider, was the first immigrant, having been born in Alsace, Germany.


5x great grandmother, Anna Catherina Juncker, likely was born in Germany--probably Alsace where her husband and sons were born.  I found a person by this name in an online tree, but married to someone other than Valentine Bieber.  Also, the dates of her children’s births rule out this person.  I haven’t located more information, probably because she was already married when she arrived.


On my father’s side, I’ve already posted about the Boyer (Boier) line.  In the same book, American Boyer by Charles Boyer, where I found that line, I also found the Beyer ((Beier) line. 

My 5x great-grandmother, Eva Susanna Beyer, born in 1736 in Berks County, PA and was the daughter of Johann Heinrich Beier and Maria Elizabetha Zerbe.

The Beyer name appears on a list of Palatine German names, so it’s possible Heinrich was part of the original Palatine German emigration and this is suggested in the John Henry Beyer chapter of the Boyer book.  Although it is not entirely clear from the book, it seems Johann Heinrich moved from Schoharie, N.Y. to Berks County, PA in 1728.  Whether he moved with his parents, whether he was born in Germany, is not yet known (by me).


Eva Susanna’s mother was Maria Elizabetha Zerbe. Through the Tulpehocken Settlement Historical Society, I found all things Zerbe.  (For a GEDCOM file of the Zerbe family:

Maria Elizabeth was born in 1709 in Columbia, NY and died around 1759 in New Ringgold, PA.  Her parents were Johann Martin Zerbe and Anna Elizabetha Jungel.  Johann Martin was born in 1671 in Kettenbach, Germany and died about 1739 in Berks County, PA.  No doubt, the Zerbes were Palatine Germans, too.

Okay, next my research will focus on New England.  I have plans for future research for Pennsylvania and New York involving requests to local historical societies, but I’m holding off for now.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Britt & Tinggelbagh

In the Studwell search I learned that my 4x great-grandfather, Gabriel Studwell, had married Agnes Britt and that she was the daughter of Johannes Britt.  Not much to go on, but that hasn’t stopped me yet.

First to Mr. Google for answers, but nothing there except online trees I’ve learned to look at only as a last resort.  So on to and a Britt family tree there.  I still don’t have a lot of confidence in trees that use other trees as the source, but it did have a birth date (1742), a marriage date (1770), and mother’s name (Eva Tinggelbagh).  The dates are consistent with her husband’s dates, so the information was worth investigating to see if I could find something other than an online tree.

I decided to go in the back door.  With a name like Tinggelbagh, I figured using that name in an internet search might get me where I needed to go faster.  Sure enough, on a NYGenWeb page was a transcription of a marriage index for Westchester County, NY and it had Johannis Bret and Eva Tinggelbagh.  The NYGenWebber was generous and did look ups of the marriage and baptisms.  The church record indicates Johannis and Eva were living in Phillipsburg, NY and that both were born in Hoghduysland. That seems to be a form of Hoch Deutschland (High Germany, as in the higher altitude of southern Germany, and not the sea level Germany of the north.) And there were baptisms for six children, none of them Agnes.

I went back to a search for Johannes Bret/Britt and then spotted alternate spellings for Eva’s surname—Dinkelbach, Tinggebaugh, Tinchelbach, and Tinkelbaugh, Tinchelbagh, and Tinklepaugh, Tenkelbag.  I found a transcript of Johannes Bret’s will in a NY Historical Society collection of will abstracts and it mentioned his daughter Agnes Steddal (variant of Studwell).  Then, in First Record Book of The Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow, I found the source of information the NYGenWebber had furnished.  In the index it included the variant Brydt so that was a new angle to follow. There was no Agnes Brydt in the church record, but I thought maybe the new spelling could improve other searches.  I’ve looked and looked, but I’ve found nothing more.

So, I don’t know if Johannes was the first Bret/Britt/Brydt to immigrate, but if he was born in 1715, as the online tree suggests, and he got married in 1736, as transcribed from the church record, that would mean he arrived as a child or young man.  I’ve been searching Palantine German records, and the closest I’ve come is a Ludwig Breit and that isn’t even a near miss. 

I did find some immigration information for a Paulus Dinckelbach.  He is in an article in Germanic Genealogist by Henry Jones, “A Partial Listing of the Palatine Families of New York” and in "Emigrants from Germany to Colonial America, 1720-1760, Traced in Their Ancestral Villages (a Partial Listing)" in The Palatine Immigrant by the same author.  Based on the summary he arrived between 1720-1750.  I couldn’t find digital copies so that’s the extent of the clue.  I found several clues in online trees that indicate Paulus is Eva’s father and the first immigrant of the Dinckelbach line, and that he married Eva’s mother in 1723, narrowing his arrival to 1720-1723. 

I’ll guess I’ll just be putting these names in my follow-up for my Palatine German research.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Halsey Comes to a Quick Halt

James Youngs’ wife Ruth Halsey, my 4x great-grandmother, was born in 1758, another Morristown, NJ ancestor.  Her father was Judge Benjamin Halsey and her mother was Sarah Pruden. James’s father David died shortly before James’ birth in 1752 and Ruth’s mother, Sarah Pruden, died in 1760 when Ruth was only two.  After David's death, James' mother Bethiah married Benjamin Halsey between 1760-1764 so the children were still young and likely raised as brother and sister.  Nevertheless, in 1775, Bethiah, in addition to being Ruth’s stepmother, became her mother-in-law.

Benjamin Halsey was born in 1721, married his first wife, Sarah Pruden, in 1747 and died of insanity in 1788.  (I’m not sure how insanity is a direct cause of death, unless they meant something like Alzheimer's.)  Earlier in his life he seems to have had some prominence in the community.  Given that he was a judge and is in the DAR database, I was surprised I haven’t been able to uncover more specific details about him or links to his ancestors. 

In History of Southampton published in 1886, it states that the Halsey family is from England and implies that Remington Halsey is the first immigrant who settled in NY in the 1600s, along with his three sons, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Then later it states:

Thomas Halsey, who came from Great Gaddensden, England, and was living at Lynn, Massachusetts, in 1637.  He was one of the founders of the town of South Hampton, Long Island, in 1640, the first English town in the state of New York.  The family remained in South Hampton for nearly one hundred years, when Recompense Halsey  moved to Morris county.

I suspect that Benjamin is descended from Thomas, but the two Halsey genealogies I need are not available digitally.  Even though I've read that the above mentioned book has errors, I’ll be adding these to my Library of Congress list.  I hope there is a connection, because it would be interesting to visit Thomas' home, which is still standing.

Another reason I’m surprised about the lack of information on Benjamin is because he and other Morris County justices exchanged correspondence with George Washington in 1780.  I was pleased to find that digitized in The George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress.

The Justices wrote to make him aware of how poorly some members of the Army had treated the local inhabitants and their property (licentiousness, plundering, stealing) after these citizens had willingly offered assistance to the troops in desperate need.

Washington replied, thanking them for the support and assuring them that the perpetrators would be stopped and punished.

So there you have it--just two generations of Halseys and I'm at a dead end.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Serendipity #3-Brought to You By the Letter C

When I did research in college, I was forever getting distracted in the stacks.  I'd come across an intriguing book, completely unrelated to my research topic, and next thing I'd know I would be immersed in the book. So, it's no surprise that the same thing can happen to me in genealogical research.  As I follow through a Google search result, it's not uncommon for me to spot something that has nothing to do with my research, but has everything to do with amusing or intriguing me.  So, occasionally I will be sharing these unexpected discoveries here.
From the FIRST RECORD BOOK OF THE "Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow



This letter is not native to the Holland language. In pure Holland writing it appears in foreign words only. When, however, with and from 1664, English speaking people came into and grew up with the country, the English and Holland languages became very much mixed, and the K in Holland names gave way rapidly to C. Such baptismal names as Jakobus, Karel, Kornelis, etc., and such family names as Krank, Krom, Kuyper, etc, soon came to be written Jacobus, Card, Cornelis, Crank, Crom, Cuyper, etc. The struggle between the K and the C was going on at a lively rate between 1697 and I790 when these Tarrytown records were being made. In them we find the names Kanckelie (otherwise also variously spelled), Kenniff, Kemmel, Klaasen, Koks, Korsen, Kouenhoven, Kool, Kranckheyt, Krom, and Kuyper, setting
to Canckelie, Cenniff, Cammel (or Camble), Claasen, Cocks, Corsen, Couenhoven, Cool (later Cole), Cranckheyt, Crom, and Cuyper.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Youngs Again

As I worked on my Youngs line for my Monday post, I ran into some, shall we say, misdirection in sources I found.  In the end I was feeling confident I had traced the line accurately, but it lacked the closure I like.

I had been concerned about the connection from David Youngs, my 5x great-grandfather back to the next generation.  Was his father John or was it Judge Benjamin?  And while I was at it, I wanted at least one more source showing my 4x great-grandfather, James, was David’s son.

So, instead of preparing a post on my Halsey line, I kept at my online search.  I had read that the most reliable source on Youngs genealogy was Youngs family : Vicar Christopher Yonges, his ancestors in England and his descendants in America : a history and genealogy by Seleh Youngs and published in 1907.  But I hadn’t been able to locate a digitized copy.  I wanted to make another attempt because I thought maybe it had been partially transcribed somewhere.  I don’t remember now how I discovered it on, but there it was—the whole book digitized.

It’s tempting to wish I had discovered it earlier in order to save a lot of effort.  But I found tons of transcribed records for the Youngs that I might not otherwise have added to my documentation.  And I learned a lot about the family in the process.

Oh, yes, sure enough, David’s father was John and his son, James, was the right James.  What surprised me was the volume of information about David.  He was a pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Setauket, Long Island and the book had eight pages devoted to him and included a facsimile of two handwritten pages of one of his sermons. 

The book also answered a lingering question I had.  David Youngs was born and died on Long Island.  How did James end up in New Jersey?  After David’s death, his wife Bethia married Judge Benjamin Halsey of Morristown, NJ and her four children grew up and were married there.  (There is a typo in the book—it has “Morristown, NY”, not NJ, but it is clear from the context, New Jersey is the intended state).

I also found a few unexpected nuggets of information.  James was in the state militia during the Revolution and his daughter Hannah settled in Schenectady, NY after her marriage to Joseph Hinds.  That last bit will hopefully lead to some clues about the Hinds family.

Up next, the Halsey family, not because Bethia married a Halsey after David’s death, but because James married his step-sister, Ruth Halsey!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Only Youngs Once…or Twice

My 3x great-grandmother, Hannah Youngs was married to Joseph Hinds.  She was born in 1780 in Morristown, NJ and married Joseph Hinds there.  I know they moved to NY in the late 1700s or early 1800s, but I can’t seem to locate when either died, but based on the censuses, Hannah must have died between 1850 and 1860 and Joseph between 1860 and 1870.

The Youngs are the first family line with no census information, not including Hannah after her marriage to Joseph Hinds, so I won’t have the luxury of the census to provide confirmation of other sources.  Fortunately, there are church records to establish a base for my research, along with historical records of the early family members.

Hannah’s parents were James Youngs and Ruth Halsey.  James was born around 1752-1754 in Morristown.  Records can be found in documents of the First Presbyterian Church of Morristown, both online and in books at  His father was Reverend David Youngs of the First Presbyterian Church of Brookhaven, but there is a little concern because the records of David’s Presbytery indicate David’s death occurred 1751-1752.  The records of the Morristown church clearly state David is his father, but I’d like to find James’ birth record on Long Island to verify the year.

With David there is some dispute about lineage that I haven’t yet resolved to my satisfaction.  The line possibly traces back through John (1679-1750) who was married to Anna Hallock, through Christopher Youngs (1643-1695) who was married to Mary Budd, to Reverend John Youngs and Mary Warren.  The Reverend John was the first immigrant Youngs arriving in Salem, MA in 1637, moving on to New Haven, CT, and finally founding Southold, Long Island, NY.

On the website for David’s church, it states that David is the grandson of the Reverend John, while at the same time it indicates that is in dispute.  What I’ve uncovered suggests he would be the great-grandson.  Unfortunately, I’ve also uncovered a book (Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College, Vol. I) through that cites David as the son of John's brother, Judge Benjamin Youngs, and the grandson of Christopher Youngs who was the youngest son of the Reverend John Youngs, the first immigrant.   (Don't even get me started on the other garbage Youngs lineage people have put online.  You know, it's really starting to tick me off when I waste so much time sifting out junk.  Who are these people who don't care if a person is born in one country 20 years after being married in another!?!  But I digress...)  Fortunately, I found Benjamin and a list of his children in a 1908 issue of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record.  David was not on the list.  The other Benjamin Youngs alive at the time were the wrong ages to be possibilities for David's father.  I'll continue my search for records, but I'm leaning toward John as the father.

Even if David didn’t get me back to Reverend John, David's wife Bethia will.  Her grandmother was Martha Youngs, daughter of Colonel John Youngs who was the son of the Reverend and his first wife, Joan Herrington.  This line is a little more straightforward. [UPDATE: Or so I thought.  Turns out Bethia is not Martha's granddaughter and so does not lead back to Reverend John]

So, while I still have to work out one knot in the chain, the lineage still ends up in the same place.  In a way I was hoping it wouldn’t.  As unrealistic as it is, I can’t help wanting all my ancestors to be on the “right” side of history and I feel some bit of disappointment when ancestors are discovered to have behaved in ways that I find objectionable.  I have found a long history of tolerance and defense of the disadvantaged in my family research.  I’ve encountered and exception with Reverend John Youngs.  

From the town history page on the Southold town website:
Southolders took pains to ensure that only those with like beliefs would become part of the community. (In 1657, when Quaker Humphrey Norton criticized Rev. Youngs in church, he was fined ten pounds, severely whipped, branded with the letter “H” (for heretic) on one hand and banished from Southold.

What a disappointment from a man who left England, with a large number of his parishioners, seeking religious freedom. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Van Voorhees, Van Voorhuis, Van Vorheese, Van Voorhies, Omit the Van & Repeat…OMG

Stop the madness.

According to The Van Voorhees Association’s website, here are the spelling variations found in the US:

Van Voorhees, Voorhees, 
Van Voorhies, Voorhies, 
Van Vorhies, Vorhies, 
Van Voorhis, Voorhis, 
Voorheas, Voorhease, Voorheese, 
Voorheez, Voorheis, Voorhes, Voorhies, 
Vorhees, Voorhis, Vorhes, Van Voris, Voris,
 Vooris, Voress, Vorys, Vorhis, Voris, 
Vories, Voreese, Vores, Vorheis, Vorres, Van Vorous, Vorous, 
Voras, Voorus
, Van Voorkiss
, Vource, Vorce 
I’m starting with my 3x great-grandmother, Charity “Gitty” Voorhees, who was born in New Jersey in 1779, and later moved to New York, and then on to Michigan with her husband George Ditmars, where she died in 1852.   With them begins (or ends, depending on the perspective) the pure Dutch heritage in my family.  (Hmm.  As a kid, one of my absolutely favorite books and a well-loved movie was Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates.  You know, doing family research makes me wonder sometimes how many of our preferences get hard-wired in our brains)

In my search for Charity’s father, I found a couple of resources, including the Genealogy of the Van Voorhees Family in America by Elias Van Voorhis.  According to this book, Charity was the daughter of Coert Van Voorhees.  But, I had other information suggesting her father was Isaac Voorhees.  Then I found Isaac’s Revolutionary War pension application and it had a wonderful family record included.  Charity was Isaac’s daughter and it included her birth date and the date of her marriage to George Ditmars.  So, while the Van Voorhees book traces the line back to the original immigrant, my connection is broken because of this faulty information in this one source.  At the Van Voorhees website, there are reference CDs available for purchase, but it’s a little beyond my budget.  Isaac, his daughter Charity, and granddaughter Ellen are in the index for the 9th generation CD, so I feel like my answer is probably there.

So, in all likelihood, this line will trace back to Steven Coerts Van Voorhees who was born in 1600 in the Netherlands, immigrated to America (New Amsterdam) in 1660, and died in 1684.

At some point I’ll come back to this to confirm each generation and to pick up additional Dutch lines to research.  Now that I’ve done my 3x great-grandparents, George Ditmars and Charity Voorhees, all lines back from them will be colonial Dutch.   At some point I’ll do a series on my colonial Dutch roots. That way, once I start, I can stay focused on that time period and research will be more efficient.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Auf Wiedersehen, Pennsylvania & New York

Stating the obvious, the further back I go, it is, as a rule, more difficult to find reliable information on my family lines.  There are some exceptions for some of the more prominent Colonial era lines, but many searches are coming to screeching dead ends.  I’m about to leave behind lines in Pennsylvania and New York, make a brief stop in New Jersey, before heading full force into New England.  From there my choices would be to cross the Atlantic or recycle back over existing research to if I can fill in any of the gaps (and there are many).  I’m choosing to improve my existing research rather than expand the geographic scope.  There may be a few exceptions to this—for example, if I uncover the right clues that get the Murrays to Great Britain, I’m going to follow them as far as I can, but mostly the plan is to enhance what I've got in the US.

So, here I am with the last of my Pennsylvania and New York lines that I’ve discovered.  I could probably expand my information by making inquiries at various local historical societies, but I’ll hold off for now. 


I know almost nothing about the Marsh family.  My 3x great-grandmother was born in 1792 in Pennsylvania and died in 1870.  In 1812 she married Jonathan Hall and they lived in Lycoming County, PA.  Other than census information, the only record I’ve found is the marriage announcement of Polly & Jonathan Hall in the Lycoming Gazette.

The Lycoming County Genealogical Society has the will of David Marsh, 6 May, 1834. It lists his wife Mary, and that he has children, but they are not named. It also shows Jonathan Hall as a witness.  Could be Mary’s father, uncle, brother.  No way to know on this alone.

There’s a David Marsh in the Revolutionary War pension records and the 1822 records indicate he was born in 1754, his wife in 1763 and that he had a daughter Mary, age 18 and a son David, 11.   The son in particular seems young for the parents’ ages of 68 and 59.  But, my Mary, or Polly, was born around 1794 and married by 1812, so no matter how much I want this to be her father, it doesn’t work based on this information.

I feel stymied by this one.  I feel like I need to step back and focus on another line for awhile.


Researching the Rhodes wasn’t exactly the way to develop a feeling of accomplishment--I know even less about them.  My Hessian soldier 3x great-grandfather, Georg Klees, married Elizabeth Rhodes.  I’ve also seen it spelled Rhoads.  And there are indications the original German name was Roth.  (In German, Roth would be pronounced “rote” with a guttural R, so the change to Rhodes makes some sense.)  From the census, I know she was born about 1768.  I’ve seen references to the marriage in Berks County, PA and also that she was from Philadelphia, but nothing more.  I wonder if there was any stigma associated with marrying a former Hessian soldier.  That might provide some interesting context.


I only discovered the Snow line in NY a few weeks ago.  And it's not really a NY family because the first person I found, my 3x great-grandmother, Ruth Snow, was born in Massachusetts.  I'm hypothesizing that she married James Murray after moving to NY with her family, so I'm searching for a possibility for her parents in NY.  I haven't had much luck so far, so I may need to consider changing my hypothesis.  In any case a jump to New England  to look for an indication of the migration from there may be the next best step.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Serendipity #2

When I did research in college, I was forever getting distracted in the stacks.  I'd come across an intriguing book, completely unrelated to my research topic, and next thing I'd know I would be immersed in the book. So, it's no surprise that the same thing can happen to me in genealogical research.  As I follow through a Google search result, it's not uncommon for me to spot something that has nothing to do with my research, but has everything to do with amusing or intriguing me.  So, occasionally I will be sharing these unexpected discoveries here.

Because the census I was using is not indexed, I've been searching page-by-page.  While it is a slower process, it has its upside--the things that would have otherwise been missed.

From the 1865 NY State Census, Auburn, NY, Enumerator, William Boynton:


What other changes in the social condition of the people have (you) observed since 1860?

The effects of the war upon people have been various, it has opened the Hearts and (?) while on the other hand it has seemed to beget an almost unnatural desire for Gain or (?).  It has also been a fruitful cause of Prostitution and other Vice; in other words it has had a tendency to Unmask Human Nature, to bring out the Good and also the Evil.  

And from the same census in another Auburn, NY ward from Enumerator Daniel Hewson:

I think there has been an Increase of Intemperance.  Likewise of Licentiousness.

All this in a town known at the time for it's state-of-art prison (visited by Alexis de Toqueville in 1831), as a key point on the Underground Railroad, and home to Harriet Tubman.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Beeber Fever

Admit it, you wouldn’t have been able to resist that title for this post either.

The Lycoming County Genealogical Society provided me with several pages of their published genealogy book on the Bieber/Beeber/Beaver line.  Although it began by linking German Bieber and the French de Beauvoir names, an assertion that some doubt, the pages contained sufficient information that I contacted them again and requested a full copy.  It is true there is a connection to France in that the Biebers are from Alsace and the history of that region has been both German and French, but the European details will have to wait until I’m finished on this side of the Atlantic.

One of my 3x great-grandmothers was Julia Ann Beeber.  She was born in 1802 in Lycoming County, PA and was part of my strong Lycoming County heritage.  She is buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery there.  In 1870, the census indicated her father was of foreign birth and, because I suspected her father was Johannes Bieber, I began the search for confirmation.  In the LCGS Bieber book, there was Julia, daughter of John Beeber and Margaret Dimner (oh boy, I picked up another family line!), along with information on his immigration. 

On John Bieber’s website I found a wealth of information about my Beeber line.  With this website and the LCGS Bieber book, supported by other documents, I learned that John Beeber (Johannes Bieber) was born in Hirschland, Alsace and was the son of Valentine Bieber and Anna Juncker.  His mother died before the Valentine Bieber family emigrated in 1768.  As a teenager, John Bieber served in the Revolutionary War as a substitute once for his brother Nicholas and once for his brother Adam (who changed his last name to Beaver).  Interestingly, in his pension application, he mentions my 5x great-grandfather, George Gortner, being killed by Indians.  John is listed in the DAR database under the name Beaver.

After arrival on the ship Betsey in 1768, John’s father Valentine, settled with his family in Berks County, PA.  Apparently earlier Bieber immigrants lived there.  Valentine died around 1782 while visiting relatives in Virginia.  It is believed he is buried there.  Some superficial research showed there were Biebers in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, but I’m guessing his gravesite will never be found.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mystery Monday-The Murray Saga Continues to Unfold

At the end of last Thursday’s post on my fantasy road trip, I added the breaking news that I had discovered the names of Erastus Murray’s parents, James Murray and Ruth Snow, in a Civil War record.  It also confirmed his birth on January 17, 1812 in Brutus, NY (anyone up for a 200th birthday celebration next year?).’s “New York, Town Clerks' Registers of Men Who Served in the Civil War, ca 1861-1865” is a great resource for anyone with New York ancestors in the Civil War because of the genealogical information it contains.

This led quickly to more information because a year ago I stashed  census records, Auburn, NY city directory information, and burial locations for a Ruth Murray and her three daughters, in my “Clues” folder.  I had suspected a connection because of the common geography and ages that could have made Ruth the age of an aunt (didn’t dream it was his mother!) and the daughters' ages those of cousins (again, not thinking they were his sisters).  More importantly was Ruth's daughter Lucetta.  Erastus had a daughter named Lucetta, and although he never knew her, a granddaughter named Lucetta.  It’s an unusual name and I felt all along there was likely to be some type of family connection.  So when I discovered his mother’s name was Ruth, it began to fall into place.

The story is still unfolding, but with a quick review of the census information available, it appears that the James Murray family was in Cayuga County, NY as early as 1820 (maybe sooner—I’m investigated a lead on a possibility for James’ father that would have had them in NY even earlier).  In the 1820 census it appeared Erastus might have had a brother.  Then in 1830, the only James Murray in Cayuga County is too young to be Erastus’ father and Ruth appears as a head of household.  This suggests James died between 1820 and 1830.  Ruth and her daughters, Jane, Lydia, and Lucetta, lived together until Ruth’s death in 1857.  The three daughters remained single and continued living together until their deaths:  Lucetta in 1876, Jane in 1881, and Lydia in 1895.  All four are buried in North Street Cemetery in Auburn, NY.  Over the years, they earned their livings as housekeepers and seamstresses, although based on the 1840 census, it seems like Ruth ran a boardinghouse for awhile—there were 10 miners living at her address.

There were some surprises (naturally) in the census data.  In several census years an Edward Stanford lived with Ruth and her daughters.  That’s another name connection because Erastus had a brother named Stanford.  They aren’t the same person because there is a large age difference between the two and in one case Stanford was the first name and in Edward’s case it was the surname.  After Ruth’s death, there’s one census for her daughters where Edward is described as a nephew.  That means there was a married fourth daughter.  Searching for Edward in the census records led me to David L. Stanford, a real estate agent and businessman in Auburn.  In 1850, when Edward was two, he was recorded at his father’s address and at his grandmother’s address.  Also at the father’s address was a woman by the name of Amanda.  David at 40 was old enough to be Amanda’s father—she was 19—but the census also recorded that they had been married within the year.  That means the unnamed Murray sister died between 1848 and 1850.  Then, sad to say, by 1860, Edward no longer lived with his father.  Sad for many reasons.  Unlike the situation with Erastus, in the Stanford family there was clearly adequate financial strength.  The Stanford property was valued at $15,000 in 1860 and by 1870 the personal estate was valued at $3,000.   And sad because the sisters helped only one nephew, so Erastus’ children went to the orphanage.

The other unexpected information was the birthplaces for James and Ruth.  Using the census records for Erastus, indications were that both his parents were born in NY.  However, in 1880 when the census records include parental birthplace, the records for Jane and Lydia state that their father was born in Connecticut and their mother was born in Massachusetts.  Given the sketchy history surrounding Erastus and given that the sisters lived with their mother for many years, I feel the sisters data is more reliable in terms of determining the direction I go.

I’m left with so many questions:

What towns did James and Ruth come from?  Why had the move from New England to NY taken place?  Was there the possibility of a land grant?

Did James and Ruth marry before the move to NY?  Did they come alone or did they move with other family members?

Why didn’t David Stanford or Ruth and her daughters help Erastus’ children?  What were the real financial situations for the families?

Was there an older brother?  Was it the James I found in 1830?  What was the name of the married sister?

How was Erastus affected by losing his father in the 1820s, losing a sister in the late 1840s, and in the mid-1850s, losing his wife and mother within a year of each other?

And, why-oh-why can’t I find anything in digitized historical newspapers!?!