Saturday, August 8, 2009

Comstock Family - OOPS; Part 1, Was she Elizabeth DANIEL?

Often in research, we find well regarded genealogies complete with extensive notes and sources, yet containing errors. When such a body of work covers a long time span and hundreds of persons, typos happen, and mistakes creep in. Some errors are perpetuated many times over. We can also assume that some of the research done by authors and compilers does not appear in the final product.

The Comstock family has been blessed with several books, in particular, two compiled by Cyrus B. Comstock [1831-1910], Some Descendants of Samuel Comstock of Providence RI, who died about 1660, (New York, The Knickerbocker Press, 1905), and A Comstock Genealogy; Descendants of William Comstock of New London, Conn. who died after 1662. Ten Generations, (New York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1907). Cyrus was a descendant of the immigrant William Comstock's son Samuel who settled in Providence.

Ernest Bernard Comstock [1879-1956] compiled a successor to the William Comstock book by C. B. Comstock, entitled The Comstock family in America : ten generations of the descendants of William Comstock of Wethersfield, Connecticut, 1636, our immediate line with descendants of Solomon Comstock of Hartwick, N.Y., 1766-1845 (Washington DC: 1938) E. B. Comstock was a descendant of William's son Christopher.

John Adams Comstock [1881-1970] of Del Mar, California, compiled A History and Genealogy of the Comstock Family in America, (Los Angeles, CA: The Commonwealth Press, Inc., 1949). He was descended from the immigrant William Comstock's son Daniel. John A. Comstock used much material from the previous two books by C. B. Comstock, E. B. Comstock's research, as well as extensive correspondence with Comstock descendants throughout the United States. John A. Comstock also made extensive use of a correspondence collection of Samuel Willett Comstock [1865- d. unk] who had apparently intended to compile a genealogy but never got it done. Throughout John A.'s book one finds notes referring to Samuel W.'s research. Samuel W. was a descendant of the immigrant William Comstock's son Christopher. Samuel W. Comstock in turn was in possession of a collection of letters from Noah Durham Comstock [1832-1890] who was also Cyrus B. Comstock's brother-in-law having married Cyrus B.'s sister Ellen. Both Cyrus B. and Noah D., distant cousins as well as brothers-in-law, were descendants of Samuel Comstock, son of the immigrant William, who settled in Providence, RI. (The book on Samuel Comstock by C. B. Comstock, 1905, has the following note on p.4, "Mr. Noah D. Comstock of Arcadia, Wis., collected prior to his death in 1890 a large amount of information in reference to the Comstock family, which has been used.") The correspondence and many notes by both Samuel W. and John A. Comstock are in the manuscript collection of the New England Historical and Genealogical Society in Boston, which I viewed in the fall of 2008. It is obvious that all of these Comstock researchers have depended on much of the same material.

The genealogies are particularly incomplete in dealing with the wives of the earliest Comstocks and I was looking for additional information.

William Comstock immigrated sometime between 1636 and 1640 to Wethersfield, CT. Presumably his wife Elizabeth and his children [the last may have been born in New England after their arrival] came with William. The children have been identified, either by proof documents or close association, as John, Samuel, Daniel, Elizabeth, and Christopher.

Elizabeth, the wife, is most often identified as Elizabeth Daniels, possibly a daughter of a Henry Daniels. Her surname is not given in all of the books above. That her given name was Elizabeth is from a court record that stated Elizabeth Comstock was aged 55 in 1663, which would give her a birth year of 1608.
History of New London, Quintin Publication, WorldVitalRecords online.
Quoted in E. B. Comstock's, The Comstock Family in America, 1938
"25 Jan 1659. William Comstock of New London deeded 8 acres in New London to Will Houge, carpenter, with consent of wife Elizabeth." C. B. Comstock also quotes from the deed as "with the consent of my now wife Elizabeth". Some current researchers have interpreted this to mean that William Comstock had more than one wife, but the expression "my now wife" in legal terms in this time frame in New England only meant the wife, not necessarily that there had been more than one.

Unfortunately I found nothing conclusive about whether or not Elizabeth was a Daniel/Daniels. There is nothing to show whether or not she was the mother of all the children of William. But here are the results of my research.

A footnote from John A. Comstock's book:
From John A. Comstock, The Comstock Family in America
(*)In "History of The National Society of Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America" for the fifteenth year, ending May 13, 1913, Mary Ella Comstock (Mrs. Carl J. Vietz) gives the wife of William1 Comstock as "Elizabeth Daniel."

Notes found in the John A. Comstock Manuscript Collection at NEHGS on Elizabeth, wife of William Comstock, reveal a bit more about this reference and a bit of research on the Daniel family:
Robert Daniel and his wife, Elizabeth, came to Watertown, MA in 1636 and were early inhabitants of Cambridge, MA. About 1638, he purchased of Thomas Blodgett, a house and land on the westerly side of Garden Street, which he sold about 1645 to Nicholas Wyeth. Elizabeth died 2 Oct 1653 and Robert remarried the next year. He died 6 Jul 1655, aged about 63 years [born 1592]
Elizabeth Daniel, daughter of Robert & Elizabeth, married Thomas Fanning 17 May 1655 and died in 1689.
Bib: Genealogical Register of Sherborn & Holliston, Morse, 1856
History of Cambridge, Paige, 1877, p.532
Ancestral Heads of New England Families, Holmes, 1923
Pioneers of Massachusetts, Pope, 1900
Note: Elizabeth, wife of Robert Daniel, was the daughter of Samuel & Elizabeth Morse. Compendium of American Genealogy, Vol VI, Virkus, 1937
Note: According to Three Hundred Colonial Ancestors, Rixford, 1934, and History of the National Society of Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America, for the Fifteenth Year, ending May 13, 1913, the wife of William Comstock was Elizabeth Daniel. If so, she may have been a sister of Robert. The names Daniel and Daniels seem to have been confused in early records. A John Daniels was in New London in 1672.

In John A. Comstock's manuscript file, but written by Samuel Willett Comstock. Samuel W. had copied the lineage of Mary Ella Comstock.
From History of the National Society of Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America For the Fifteenth Year Ending May 13, 1913I
Mary Ella Comstock, [Mrs. Carl J. Viets]
Born in East Lime, Connecticut
Descendant of William Comstock, through the Revolutionary ancestor, Peter Comstock, born of Connecticut as follows:
2. William H. Comstock [Mch 20, 1819 - Feb 24, 1895] and
Eliza Ann Comstock [Feb 22, 1821 - Dec 4, 1876]
3. Peter Comstock [Dec 5, 1779 - Oct 29, 1862] and
Sally Warren [1785 - Aug 20,1830]
4. Peter Comstock [1731 - apr 3, 1803] and
Sarah Myrick [1754 - Aug 9, 1826], his second wife
5. Peter Comstock [Mar 4 1702 - 1742] and
Martha Avery [1707 - ]
6. Daniel Comstock [1669 - Apr 25, 1746] and
Elizabeth Prentis [m. May 3, 1700]
7. Daniel Comstock [abt 1630 - 1683] and
Paltiah Elderkin
8. William Comstock [abt 1590 - after 1662].
Elizabeth Daniel*
[note the period following next to last line and omission of the word "and"- AWB
*spelled without the "s"

William Comstock [abt 1590 - aft 1662] a native of England settled in Wethersfield, Conn. before 1641. He was granted a lot in Pequot [New London] in 1647 and built a corn mill there in 1650. In 1662 he is mentioned as an "old man" and chosen sexton to "order the youth in the meeting"
Peter Comstock [1731-1803] served as Captain in the Continental Army and was at Fort Turnbull when New London was burnt. He was born and died Montville, Conn.
[This reads like a typical lineage society application - the lineage given and the service of the "Founder - William Comstock" and the "Patriot - Peter Comstock". In this early day lineage societies did not require the level of proof that they do now. There is no indication where Mrs. Vietz got her information.]

In the left margin is written:
The authority quoted in "Three Hundred Colonial Ancestors," Rixford, 1934
3912 Rittenhouse St. NW
Washington, DC

In the right margin: (There was a John Daniels in New London in 1662) AWB

I was intrigued by the initials AWB, or A. W. Barnes, who seemed concerned about the spelling of Daniel/Daniels and made these margin notes, so I found out who he was.

John A. Comstock's The Comstock Family in America has a reference to Lt. Comm. Archy Wright Barnes [AWB] whose residence was given as the above address in Washington DC. He was listed as the grandson of Ellen Comstock who married Thomas Jefferson Wright, 10 Oct 1839. Ellen was an 8th generation descendant of William Comstock through his son Daniel. Ellen Comstock Wright was born 1821, died 1887. There were no dates for A. W. Barnes.
I also looked for Mary Ella Comstock, whose application is above. She was also in the Comstock book as a daughter of William H. H. Comstock [1819-1895] & Eliza Ann Smith. She married Carl J. Vietz and resided at Niatic River, Waterford, CT. Mary Ella was an 8th generation descendant of William, also through his son Daniel. No dates given for Mary Ella Comstock Vietz.

I had brief correspondence with Ms. Lee Daniels in 2002. Her ancestors were John Daniels, b. abt 1640 in Weymouth, England who moved to New London in 1666 and married Mary Chappell of New London [apparently the John Daniels discovered by the Comstock researchers]. Mary's sister was Abigail Chappell who married John Comstock, son of William & Elizabeth Comstock. She had found a Henry Daniel in Much Hadem who had a daughter Elizabeth Daniels, born 8 Jan 1607/08 at Culmstock, Devon, England. She believed William Comstock was also from Devonshire and they had married circa 1622. Henry Daniel was born 1582 at Much Hadem, the son of John Daniel & Elizabeth Pebite of Kelshall, Hertford, England.

Now there is in Devonshire, England, a village called Culmstock. There is evidence of a Colmstoke family in the area as early as 1325 and since many English surnames derive from place names, there is quite possibly a connection. However, C. B. Comstock did not find evidence of a family for William Comstock in Parish records, although he found many Comstock names. William is given no date of birth in most of the books above, although John A. Comstock did estimate a birth year of 1595. There is rampant on the Internet the date, 4 Jul 1595, for William's birth, at Culmstock without any source. And I did find this:
"There is actually a Baptism at St. Martin in the Fields, London, for a William Comstock on this date. There is no proof this is the same man. In fact, at St. Martin in the Fields there is also a William Comstock buried there, 20 May 1598, which is much more likely this child." From Ancestry of Colonel John Harrington Stevens & Frances Helen Miller by Mary Lovering Holman, 1948.