My Ancestor’s Signature #33 ~ Commandant Matthew Calbraith Perry

How many of you have searched for any kind of photo of an Ancestor and you weren’t able to find one? Especially for one who lived before photography was invented? Have you ever looked through documents like wills, or marriage licenses and you discover that your 3x Great Grandpa had signed it? This signature is a little piece of him that was left behind. By posting it online we can preserve it for future generations.

My 6th Cousin

Commandant Matthew C. Perry 1794-1858
From a Pay Voucher dated 1845

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Hometown Tuesday ~ Shepherdstown, Jefferson Co, Virginia

hometown tuesdayColonial settlers began their migration into the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley in the early 1700s. Many crossed the Potomac River at Pack Horse Ford, about one mile downriver from the modern site of Shepherdstown. There, Native American tribes once clashed at what was then part of the Warrior Path. Later it was known as the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road, a major north-south connector of colonial and early America.

The colony of Virginia began issuing Valley land grants in the 1730s, but settlers in the area of what became Shepherdstown had arrived earlier, perhaps before 1720. In 1734,great_wagon_road Thomas Shepherd took up a tract of 222 acres on the south side of the Potomac, along the Falling Spring Branch, now known as Town Run. For a brief time, the settlement there was called Pack Horse Ford or Swearingen’s Ferry. In 1762, the Virginia Assembly established the town as Mecklenburg (later renamed Shepherdstown). As the sole trustee, Shepherd retained chief responsibility for its government. Shepherdstown is the oldest town in the state of Virginia, having been chartered in 1762. Since 1863, Shepherdstown has been in West Virginia and is also the oldest town in that state.

More than twenty natural springs feed Town Run before it enters the south end of town. The Run rarely floods and never runs dry; it meanders through backyards, under houses, across alleys, and beneath five streets before it rushes down to the Potomac. To early settlers, the stream provided water for domestic purposes and firefighting as well as fish for the table. Most important, it powered the shops of millers, tanners, potters, smiths, and other artisans. As a result, on the eve of the American Revolution, the town thrived. A busy waterfront on the Potomac and workshops on Town Run complemented growing farms beyond the town. Mecklenburg had grown to 1,000 inhabitants and had a ferry crossing the river to Maryland. Being near Pack Horse Ford gave the town a strategic location on the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road. With the official blessing of the Virginia Assembly, Shepherdstown residents celebrated two annual fairs “for the sale and vending of all manner of cattle, victuals, provisions, goods, wares, and merchandise whatsoever.”

shepherdstown VA Historic houseIn the summer of 1775, the Continental Congress issued a call for volunteer rifle companies from Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania to come to the aid of embattled Boston. Captain Hugh Stephenson filled the ranks of his 100-man company from around Mecklenburg. The troops departed from Morgan’s Spring, about one-half mile south of the town limits, in mid-July. This famous “Beeline March” covered 600 miles in 24 days as the marchers hastened to help fellow colonists threatened by George III’s Redcoats.

The town contributed liberally to the cause of American independence. Its cemeteries contain at least thirty-eight Revolutionary veterans, a measure of the town’s military involvement. Citizens also supplied clothing, wagons, saddles, and other items for military use.

After the Revolution, the little river town continued to flourish, though the War left many widows and orphans, and some veterans moved west to take up land grants. On December 3, 1787, a historic moment during the critical days of the early republic, James Rumsey conducted a successful trial of a steamboat. A large gathering of townspeople and notables witnessed the event from the banks and bluffs of the Potomac River. A few months later, Abraham Shepherd provided riverfront land and facilities for the Mecklenburg Warehouse, a tobacco inspection facility approved by the Virginia General Assembly in 1788.

In addition to Rumsey’s ingenuity, Shepherdstown’s early records reveal impressive Potomack Guardianexamples of wit, learning, and culture. West Virginia’s first newspaper (The Potomak Guardian and Berkeley Advertiser) and first book (The Christian Panoply) were published here in the 1790s. A number of schools had been started before the Revolution, including an English school and a German school, and the first academy in what became West Virginia opened shortly afterward.

Because Shepherdstown provided a convenient stopover for wagon masters and other sojourners, many taverns and inns sprang up. In addition to food, drink, and lodging, these establishments provided horse racing, gambling, cockfighting, and other entertainments for the weary travelers and interested townspeople.

George Washington Heritage Trail MarkerThe 1790s brought many changes. The first post office in what became West Virginia opened in 1793. By 1794 Welsh’s brickyard operated along Town Run on the south side of Washington Street between Princess and King. Because of the brickyard, between 1790 and 1840, many of the wooden structures of pioneer Shepherdstown were torn down to make way for brick homes and shops favored by a new generation of businessmen and industrialists. Houses for the brickyard workers, known as Fossett Row, still stand on W High Street. African American workers, both slave and free, lived at each end of German Street, Little Philadelphia on the west and Angel Hill on the east. By 1857, nearly 100 slaves lived in Shepherdstown.

 My 5x Great Grandfather, Jacob Newcomer was born in 1770, in Shepherdstown. He is one of my many maternal brick walls. He married Susannah Finter (1773-1810) on October 7, 1794, with the marriage being officiated by Rev. John Counce. They had only one child that I can prove, a daughter, Sarah Newcomer (1808-1881). The 1810 Census shows that he had 5 sons and 3 daughters. It was written in one Finter biography that Jacob and Susannah were killed by Indians during a raid of a neighbor they just happened to be visiting in 1810. However, I have never been able to prove this story.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ My Big Mistake ~ Assuming Civility

facebook-logoFor over 10 years I have been using Facebook to keep my relatives informed about my Genealogical finds. I have posted some of my blogs and made inquires of those who may know more than me about family relationships. My personal Facebook page is basically for family only. Of the 140+ “friends” I have only met 6 in person. I wasn’t raised around family so most of these people are relatives who have found me over the years through other relatives. Most have expressed appreciation for all the history and stories I post.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog about my 9x Great Uncle Jonathan Singletary who changed his last name to his mother’s maiden name of Dunham after he had gotten in Zachary Taylor 2some trouble. While researching I discovered that President Barack Obama and I share my 10x Great Grandfather Richard Singletary. I thought this was a find worth sharing with my family. I had previously shared that Daniel Boone is my 1st cousin 8x removed and that President George Washington is my 3rd cousin 8x removed, and also President Zachary Taylor is my 1 cousin 6x removed. Everyone had been so excited over this news.

Again, I reiterate that I do not personally know most of my family personally. I have my own very strong political beliefs which I have never shared on Facebook. I do not put up memes supporting or disparaging any candidate as this has never been my purpose for my page. I do have several cousins who regularly post their views, some very vigorously, but I do not respond to their posts.

HereticThat brings me to Monday evening when I naively put up the post about my discovery. I did make mention that regardless of your political views this was an exciting find and to please remember this is a genealogy post not a political endorsement of any kind. After putting the post up I had an errand to run so when I returned home about 1 hour later I was shocked to see what had happened. Immediately after I posted, I had gotten a barrage of “worst President, best President” responses, then the fighting began! I do not use curse words, ever! I was shocked by the cursing, swearing, name-calling, and yes, even the threats that went on. Some of the cousins even “blocked” each other. I felt so defeated as all I wanted to do was share my discovery. I took the post down!

I felt bad because I know some of my civil minded relatives would have liked finding out who they are related too! However, I am now hesitant to inform them of it as some of the ones who reverted to name-calling, etc were ones I also thought were this way! This was definitely a lesson learned. I think from now on I will only post about ancestors who were not famous or controversial!

How do you or would you handle such a situation?

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

Freaky Friday’s ~ Is The Invite In The Mail?

freaky-fridayMy blog on Wednesday for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks was about a 9x Great Uncle named Jonathan Singletary who changed his last name to his mother’s maiden name of Dunham. It was quite a story. However, as I was researching Jonathan I came upon a very Freaky discovery. Let me explain.

When I write a blog I spend several hours doing research, checking sources, and tryingresearch-clipart to write in a way that is understandable. I don’t rely on just one source, I will scroll through page after page of information to make sure the information is correct, comparing facts, etc. To be honest, sometimes it can get downright boring! Here is another confession…..this time it wasn’t just the story about a family scoundrel that got me interested in this particular family line. It was a person I found at the end of one of the lines.

presidential-sealI have several “famous” people on both sides of my family. I have Patriots, war heroes, pioneers, Mayflower passengers, and 3 Presidents I am connected to. As of Wednesday I now have another President to add to my list. I discovered that I am a 9th cousin to Barack Obama. To say I was shocked is an understatement!

 

I wonder if I contacted him if I would get an invite to their next family reunion? No, I don’t see that happening, that would be too freaky!

 

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Freaky Friday’s ~ When A Lie Becomes A Truth

Howard Hughesfreaky-fridayWhen I was a young child, I sometimes wished my last name wasn’t Hughes. During this time Howard Hughes was a very popular guy. Not just for his being a well*respected business magnate, investor, record-setting pilot, engineer, film director, and philanthropist, known during his lifetime as one of the most financially successful individuals in the world, but also for his eccentric behavior and reclusive lifestyle.  The eccentric part always seemed to get the most attention.

I remember when I was about 8 years old my dad would drive my sister and me to the YMCA for Saturdays “kids only” swimming. He would drop us off and come back 2 hours later to take us home. We did this all year round because the winters were mild. We were one of the few kids that came every weekend, so there were always new kids there. My sister couldn’t tell the truth to save her life. No one, with the exception of my mother, believed her when she talked. Because my sister, at the age of 12 weighed 200 lbs and she was allowed to bully and abuse me, I found it was easier and safer to participate in her lies than to contradict her.

le & me
My Sister on the left, me on the right

 

One of her favorite ones was to tell people that we were related to Howard Hughes. We called him “Uncle Howie”. I usually didn’t talk much. My “job” was to just back up her lies. I have to tell you, some of the stories she told about us and Uncle Howie were so far out there I couldn’t see how anyone would believe them. Of course, she was talking to kids between the ages of 6 and 12. However, I could tell by the look on some of their faces that they knew what she said wasn’t true and I would be so embarrassed.

Fast forward to 2020. My husband and I watched a documentary about “Uncle Howie” and he asked me if I thought we could be related. I laughed and said, “Not very likely!” Well, that planted the little seed in my head so for the last 3 weeks, I have been doing research on him, seeing if any of the dots connected. A couple of days ago I ran that line through all the dots, and I found that we are related. Very, very distantly but close enough to consider him “kin”.

My sister passed away 8 years ago, but I think she would have been amazed that her lies had become truth. This was really a “Freaky” find.

 

 

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

So Far Away ~ The Family of John Page ~ #52Ancestors Week #5

map of england 1660Most of my Ancestors originated in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Germany, and Switzerland, with the majority coming from England. Although Switzerland is much farther away, this particular maternal line goes the farthest back. I am starting with this Ancestor as he was the first in this family to come to America. His line goes back to 1492.

 

John Page was born in Bedfont, Middlesex, England on December 26, 1625. He was born John Pageinto a prominent English family and he had served on the Kings Council. In 1653 the Page’s boarded a ship bound for America and the Virginia Colony. Upon arrival, he and his family settled in the New Towne section at Jamestown. In 1655, John moved to York County VA and became a merchant. The next year he met and married Alice Luckin. John and Alice had 3 children. Francis was born in 1657 in Williamsburg Virginia. He married Mary Diggs about 1682 and they had only one child, a girl, who was married but died without having any children. Francis died on May 10, 1692. Mary was born in 1658 and married Walter Chiles Jr, the son of Colonel Walter Chiles of the Virginia Governors Council. Matthew was the second son born in 1659. He married Mary Mann in 1689 and they had 4 children, 3 of whom died when infants, the only surviving child was Mann Page.

John Page was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses starting in 1665. He generously donated the land and 20 pounds for the first brick Bruton Parish Church which was completed in 1683 and was located immediately adjacent to the site of the present larger restored structure. He also played a pivotal role in supporting the efforts of Reverend Doctor James Blair in the founding of the College of William and Mary in 1693.  John died on January 23, 1692.

John’s son Matthew married Mary Mann and they had a son named Mann Page in 1691, Mann married Judith Carter and they had a son they named Mann Jr. Mann was a good friend of Thomas Jefferson. They shared a room at college and stayed close until Mann died in 1799. Tradition says that the Declaration of Independence was drafted in Mann Page’s house by Thomas Jefferson before he went to Philadelphia. The following is one of the many letters between Mann and Jefferson that was found here: Mann Page to Thomas Jefferson, July 3. -07-03, 1795. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/mtjbib008514/>.

 

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

Famous or Infamous?

TreeAs I was looking over my paternal and maternal trees, I remember thinking that I must be doing something wrong. It seems that I kept finding more and more “Famous” people and I am sure that couldn’t be correct. There seemed to be too many of them, especially coming from such common people. I realized that I should ask other Genealogists about this. I contacted three of my Ancestry friends and two of them stated they had only found one person that was well known in all of their trees. Another friend hadn’t found any. At this point, I thought maybe I should start all over again. I must have made a mistake of some kind. I decided to sleep on it before I did anything that drastic. When I awoke the next day I was determined to search my trees to see if I could find anything unusual in them.

I spent the next few days carefully tracing each famous person back as far as I could. I wrote down the dates and places and this is where my revelation became clear. Each of these persons was directly descended from an Ancestor who came to the New World between 1607 and 1655. This would make my immigrant ancestors my 8th or 9th Great Grandparents.

I then did some research and verified that in 1607 there was only one established town, Jamestown, in map of the colonieswhat is now Virginia. By 1620 Plymouth Mass. was founded. As more people arrived they began to spread out along the eastern coastline. By 1630 there was a whopping 4,646 people living here. By 1650 there were 26,634 inhabitants. That is equal to the population in Kingman AZ or Spring Valley NY. This meant there weren’t a lot of people to choose from if you wanted to get married. As our country grew more people came and intermarried with those who were already here.

Because of the limited amount of people living here, and taking into consideration all of the Historic events that took place I discovered that yes, it is possible to have more than a couple of “Famous” persons in my trees!

Do you have any “Famous” or “Infamous” Ancestors? Tell me who they are!

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

You Are Just Now Finding That Out?

Daniel Boone picI have a personal Facebook page for family only. Most of the family I have never met as I was raised about 1300 miles from them. Only 2 of the 150+ cousins are doing any kind of Genealogy research. So as I find new or interesting information on one of our Ancestors I post my findings on my page. In the last week, I discovered that Daniel Boone is my 1st cousin 8 times removed. I posted this along with his line to me and I got great responses. Except for one cousin. They made the following comment ”Why would this be a new find? Shouldn’t you have completed our Genealogy by now?”

I just shook my head and laughed. I have been searching my family roots for over 20 years now and I fully understand the effort and time it takes to thoroughly research each Ancestor. I know this cousin has no idea. I sent her a private message and told her the following.

Thank you for your response. Yes, I am just now finding this Man Standing At Beginning Of Winding Roadinformation on our cousin Daniel Boone. Researching Genealogy is not a short sprint, it is a never-ending journey. It can take weeks, months and in some cases years to find the correct ancestor and their documentation so they can be placed in the tree. Every person must have documentation otherwise it is guesswork and hoping that this ancestor is ours.

Another problem is as you go further back you have a large number of Ancestors to go through. Daniel Boone is our cousin through his maternal Grandmother, Sarah Morgan’s father Edward Morgan. Edward is my 8 times Great Grandfather. To put this in perspective, by the time you are researching 8 generations back you will have over 1020 3 times Great Grandparents! So you can see why it could take years to make new discoveries”

I hope this explains it well enough for her. On a side note….when I told my youngest Grandson he was related to Daniel Boone his response was….”You mean he is real?”

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

You Are Descended From Who?

click

How many of you have been searching for an ancestor on Ancestry.com and you get a match in someone else’s family tree? You then click on their “Matching Person (from Family Trees)” link and up comes their “facts” page. Here you can see what information they have on your shared ancestor. I have been able to garner a lot of useful data from these. I have even on occasion found family photos and documentation in the Gallery section. I then, usually, click on the members’ name and go to their profile page to see if we have any more relatives in common.

This is where it can get interesting. As long as they do not have their trees set on private you can browse through page after page of their “recently added findings”. The further back in time that your common ancestor lived, the more unrelated info you have to go through. But sometimes, in all that digging you find a gem! Some crucial document that can help you fill in some of those empty spots in your tree.

Yesterday I found one of those gems. I was so excited I decided it was worth looking

knights templar

more closely at this person’s “findings”. I soon came across some things that made me a little concerned. According to her tree, the woman was related to Lady Godiva, King James (all of them), Doretha Queen of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, 4 of the Knights Templars, Mary Queen of Scots, Robin Hood, King Francois of France, and the list goes on. I am not saying that she couldn’t have been related to one or more of them but there was no documentation or references at all. The one that really threw me though was her claim to be a descendant of King David (from the Bible) through his son Jonathan.

The reason I wanted to write about this incident was to take the opportunity to discuss the topic of credibility. Every person who is trying to construct a legitimate family history should strive for accuracy and provide as much documentation or sources as possible. I have a couple of ancestors who are my “brick walls”. When I find possible leads, I sometimes add that name to my tree so I can find it and continue researching. However, I make notes that this person has not been verified as part of my lineage and should not be added to anyone’s tree until it has been.

cred

Although I did find one good document in this woman’s common ancestor file, it made me concerned about the accuracy of it because of her listing her other “Ancestors”. Her credibility had been called into question.

The moral of this story is: “Always verify any information that you obtain from anyone else’s tree and always make sure your own data is correct when you add your findings to your own trees”. No tree is 100% perfect, but we should make every attempt to not add anything that can’t be proven.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

The Good Side of Bad

close up of teenage girl

A couple of years ago I was sharing some of my exciting Genealogy findings with my then 10-year-old Grandson. He was excited to discover that President Zachary Taylor was a distant cousin. He listened intently to the stores of our Ancestors who helped to establish Jamestown. Then I told him that we were cousins with the infamous outlaw, John Wesley Hardin. That is when he got a stern look on his face and said, “What’s so good about that?”

I started thinking about his statement this morning and realized that there really is a good side of the “bad” characters we find in our lineage. Let’s be honest, our family trees would be boring if we didn’t have a few bad seeds in it. They bring colorful tales to our stories and even some lessons.

One such story is about my 9th Grand Aunt Sarah (Hood) Bassett. She was born in 1657 insalem witch trials sign Lynn Massachusetts.  She married William Basset in 1675. In May of 1692, Sarah along with her sister Elizabeth and Sister-in-law Elizabeth were arrested on the charge of practicing witchcraft. All three were transported to Salem which was about 5 miles away. They were carried there by a wagon that had bars on it to prevent escape. All three women were tried and convicted and were sent to prison in Boston.  Sarah was accompanied by her 22-month-old son Joseph and she was allowed to keep him with her. She was released in December 1692. Not long after the ordeal was over, Sarah gave birth to a daughter whom she named Deliverance as an ode to her freedom.

PilloryAnother story is from my 9th Great Grandfather Thomas Garnett. He was born in Kirby Lonsdale, Lancashire, England, December 15, 1595. He was brought to Virginia in 1609 as an Indentured Servant by Captain William Powell. Indentured Servants were basically slaves and had to serve for at least 10 years to earn their freedom. William Powell was a mean master and he abused all of his “servants”. It is said that he was also a drunk. In 1619 Thomas complained to the Governor of Virginia about his master’s behavior to which William brought charges against him for disloyalty. This Petition by William Powell to the General Assembly caused the Governor himself to give this sentence upon Thomas Garnett “that the said defendant should stand four days with his ears nailed to the Pillory” that is to say from Wednesday, August 4th and for likewise Thursday, Friday and Saturday next following…and every of those four days should be publicly whipped.” [Journal of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, 1619, page 12].

To me, regardless of the circumstances that each of these ancestors found themselves in, feel that these accounts bring some “Flavor” to my Family History. I actually find myself spending more time in research and writing about the ancestors that were “unique”!

What type of stories do you have in your Family Tree?

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com:   http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter