Monday, August 31, 2009

Comstock Family - OOPS; My Second William Comstock

After all those Samuels and Daniels, it's a relief to have another William Comstock. There have been six generations between the immigrant William Comstock and this one, the son of Daniel Comstock and his first wife Patience Jenckes. This is the son who went "west" with his father and brother Seth and did not return to Rhode Island. The birth dates of the children - William, Seth, Jenckes, Chloe, Cynthia, & Abigail - of Daniel and Patience can only be assumed. Only Seth's grave has been found and he was aged 75 when in died in 1848, or born in 1773. Daniel and Patience were married 7 Apr 1768 in Smithfield, RI, as found in their Vital Records, so in all likelihood one or even two of the children were older than Seth.

The letter I found in the manuscript file at NEHGS about Daniel's family - which had some data about the children by both wives - did state in one place that Daniel had brought sons William and Seth to Kentucky. William stayed but Daniel and his "younger son" [which would have been Seth] had returned to Providence. Later when the author of the letter, Caroline Porter - a granddaughter of Daniel and the second wife - did list the family, she listed Seth first. Seth has forever after been placed in the eldest spot in all the printed publications. Since he was born some five years after his parents married, I viewed this with a raised eyebrow. My research indicates that William was most likely the eldest child, certainly the eldest son.

William Comstock did indeed remain in the "west". He was probably born between 1869 and 1772; most likely in Smithfield, RI. He married in Breckinridge County, Kentucky, 1 May 1794, to Winny Ann Hardin, daughter of William "Wild Bill" Hardin and Winnifred Holtzclaw. William and Winny's marriage is the 16th recorded in that county.

In the manuscript papers of Samuel W. Comstock at NEHGS, he did indeed have on one page that William had died 1817 - however in another place he recorded the date of 5 Dec 1875 which was the son Elijah's death date. This error was then perpetuated in the various Comstock books. Samuel W. Comstock also stated that William was born in Breckinridge Co near Hardinsburg - but that was where he married and lived.

In all the following printed publications with one exception, William Comstock is said to have died 5 September 1875. He would have been nearly 100 years of age. But this is so wrong. That date is clearly the date of death on the grave marker of his son Elijah. Court records in Breckinridge County reveal that William died as a relatively young man. William Comstock left a good many tracks in Breckinridge records between 1800 and 1817 - most of those are reviewed on my webpage [link on the sidebar].

Breckinridge County, KY Court Minute Book 3, p.2. 21 Sep 1818.
Winney Ann and Ephraim Comstock granted adminstration on estate of William Comstock. Commissioners appointed to appraise estate and slaves, if any. Security with William Hardin and Amos Williams. [William Hardin was Winney's father, Ephraim's grandfather, and Amos Williams was at that time Ephriam's father-in-law.]
The last mention of William Comstock in Breckinridge records prior to that date in September of 1818 was:
Court Minute Book 2, p.251 William Comstock resigned as overseer of the road from Hardinsburg to Clover Creek - recorded 17 Nov 1817.
So although the exact date of William's death is not known, it occurred sometime after 17 Nov of 1817 and prior to 21 Sep 1818. And there is no question that he died many years prior to 1875.

One of the Comstock books corrected this error, but I found the book after finding the above Court records, and even this author apparently had not seen those documents. The book by Pope McAdams, Some Ancestors of Eugene Perrot McAdams & Mary Elizabeth Pope McAdams of Hawesville, Kentucky. shows that wife WinnyAnn died in 1818 leaving a will. "Married women of that day could not make a will, so William was deceased by that time. Their youngest child Lavinia was born in August of 1810. C. B. Comstock obviously made an error when he said William Comstock died Dec 5, 1875", which was in turn copied by John A. Comstock and others.

Indeed, Winney did leave a will soon after the death of her husband.
Court Minutes, Book 3,p.26, Jan 1819.
Last Will & Testament of Winney Ann Comstock exhibited by John E. Hardin, Executor, and ordered recorded.
Will Book 1, p.8; probate 7 Jan 1819.
Will recorded 18 Jan 1819 leaves a bequest of $6 for Ephraim, stipulating that he was not to have the care of the two younger children. They were left in charge of Winny's brother, John Hardin. [When her father William Hardin died, he included Elijah and Lavinia, children of his deceased daughter Winny Ann, but does not mention Ephraim at all. The next blog will explain why.]
p.102 20 Dec 1819 John E. Hardin exhibited the list of taxable property of Winnian Comstock, Dec'd.

William and Winney Ann's son Ephraim would have qualified as my Black Sheep Ancestor, if he could have been found. That story certainly does not appear in the Comstock books. More to follow.

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