Saturday, September 7, 2013

Birth Certificates - How Correct Are They?

After reading the Blog, Anglers Rest today, I decided to tell a very personal story.  Julie Goucher, author of the blog is offering prompts for "The Book of Me, Written By You" to help us write our own story. Perhaps, then, our grandchildren won't be saying in future years, "There's so much I don't know about my grandparents - I never thought to ask the right questions."

The current prompt is about birth.  In looking at the questions, I realized that my own story has a certain relevance for research regarding adoptions. Could even explain why curious results happen in Y-DNA testing when suddenly there appears to be what is called a non-paternal event.  Family secrets can remain secret.

My mother divorced my birth father - she left him before I was age two and we lived with her parents in Arkansas.  I was her first child.  She remarried when I was six and my new stepfather immediately legally adopted me, also legally changing my surname to his.  My birth certificate in the state of Tennessee was changed during the process - my stepfather was listed on the certificate as my father and my surname is his. There is NOTHING on the certificate to indicate that he was not my father, or that this certificate was ever amended or changed in any way.  If in years to come, a descendant ordered this certificate from the Tennessee Department of Health, there would be nothing to suggest the father on the certificate was not, in fact, my father.

Now I was the flower girl at the wedding of my mother to my stepfather, so I always knew perfectly well that he was not my father.  Details on my birth father were much harder to come by as lips were sealed when I asked questions.  Not until I had grown children of my own, did my mother produce an original copy of my birth certificate that she had kept. That was the first time I ever saw my own father's full name. So I do have a single copy of this birth certificate with my birth father's name - a single copy.  Of course I have made a digital image and made numerous paper copies for lineage societies.  But I cannot order this copy of my birth certificate from the state of Tennessee - only the altered one would be received.

I can think of many situations in which my half-adoption might never have been known. If I had died young. If my mother had never gone back to live near family, her neighbors and friends might never have known. My siblings are much younger and would not have known if they had not been told.  I could have kept this secret from my own children.

I do not know if other states handle adoptions in this manner - I have only my own experience.  My "birth" certificate is, in truth, incorrect.  We all know of instances when names are mis-spelled, dates are in error - but how many times do we think that a birth certificate might have an incorrect parent?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hats off to FamilySearch!

I'm in Fort Wayne at FGS and to enjoy the Allen County Public Library  Last night I attended the annual FamilySearch Bloggers Dinner.  What a great event!   Good food, fun techie gift, good news from Family Search.

A new director for the Family History Library was introduced - Diane Loosle.  I've either had her in a session sometime in the past, or talked to her in a booth (maybe both) - she has a great personality.  Her goals include increasing the family and youth-oriented experiences, collaborative research areas in the library, continuing to increase the online information. She said the volunteers will be coming out from behind the desks (the "fortress") to work closer with patrons.  I believe she'll be perfect for this job.

We were also entertained with a video of the new oral history rooms and how they will be set up in the larger Family History Centers and the new Family Discovery Centers.  Anyone can schedule an hour to either tell their own story or interview a family member - $8 for the programmed flash drive and you take home a DVD of the experience.

Plans for the new Family Discovery Centers were impressive - hope one comes somewhere near me or where I travel.

Certain of the Family History Centers, and the new Discovery Centers, will have scanners that can scan your photos and upload them to your Family Tree site at   How exciting is that!  No dates or locations were disclosed.

The most obvious emphasis of the presentation and the evening as a whole is that FamilySearch is really on board for telling "the rest of the story" about family history.  Not the dates, but the stories of our ancestor's, and our own, lives - both in words and pictures.

Appreciation was expressed for indexers and arbitrators - a show of hands indicated most of us in the room did one or both!   There's a great new fun video on the website that demonstrates how important this work is.  There are currently about 140,000 persons indexing - not nearly enough for the number of names that are being added in the uploaded images every day.   We were also promised that revisions are coming to improve this experience.  My own experience is that improvements are needed.

Now ...I'm off to the Allen County Public Library.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Men of the Same Name - Thomas Proctor

How many men of the same name can live in one community at the same time?  Sometimes there are more than you might suspect.  There were multiple Thomas Proctors living in Logan County, Kentucky, in the first half of the 1800's and earlier researchers have tried to meld some of them together, separated records which obviously belonged to the same person, and in other cases made father-son relationships when their ages made such a relationship impossible..   I must admit I'm not sure of one of the relationships, either, but I do know that the following Thomas Proctors are very different men.

The oldest Thomas Proctor living in Logan County in the early 1800's, according to newspaper accounts by George D. Blakey that have been compiled as Men Whom I Remember, Logan County, KY,  was one of four brothers who had come to Logan County - Hezekiah, Benjamin, John, and Thomas.  As a child, Mr. Blakey had known most of the men he wrote presumably he knew these men were brothers. There was a family of Proctors in Spotsylvania County that had among their family of fourteen children, sons with these given names and about the same suggested ages - the patriarch was George.  I have nothing other than circumstantial evidence, and a Bible page transcription that lists births of sons but doesn't have the parents name, but I believe it quite possible this is their family in Spotsylvania. Research indicates that Thomas and Hezekiah, and some of the other brothers, had certainly lived in Fayette County in the 1790's before relocating to Logan County.  At least two genealogies in print have artificially placed Thomas was the father of Hezekiah, Ben, and John, in Logan County, but they were too close in age for that to be possible.  Some have actually divided this poor Thomas into two different men.

The elder Thomas was born 22 April 1766, if the Bible record is his, and he moved to Logan County by about 1797; he died in Jun of 1841 in Logan County, leaving a will.  He was married three times, and the will supports division of his children in such a way that it indicates children by each of his wives.  Records of early Kentucky are sparse.   However, I believe Thomas first married Polly O'Neal, daughter of Robert O'Neal, 1 September 1785, in Lincoln County. In 1788, both Robert O'Neal and Thomas Proctor were on the same tax list, Fayette County, and fragments of the burned deeds from Fayette reveal they lived adjacent to each other.  A son, William, was born to Thomas & Polly, but he was deceased before 1841; and there was a daughter Nancy.   Thomas married second to Sally Haden, daughter of William Haden, probably about 1798 - a record that would have been destroyed in the fire in the county clerk's home in Fayette in 1804.  The same deed fragments from Fayette show that William Haden was in that neighborhood with O'Neal and Proctor, and the settlement of William Haden's estate in Logan County over a lengthy period reveal that his daughter Sally had been married to Thomas Proctor and had three daughters with him before her death prior to 1808 - daughters also named in Thomas Proctor's will.  There are multiple records certifying Sally had only three Proctor daughters in spite of many online databases that ascribe various other children to the couple.  On 27 Oct 1808, Logan County, Thomas married Rebecca Maxwell, daughter of William Maxwell.  Thomas and Rebecca had at least three children who survived Thomas, Elizabeth, Josephine, and Thomas E. Proctor.

That brings us to the second Thomas - Thomas E. Proctor, mentioned last in his father's will, and quite possibly his youngest child.  There is a deed for 287 acres between father and son, 22 Jun 1837, so Thomas E. had probably reached his majority so born say about 1816 - the early census records support a son in the household of this approximate age.  Records of Logan Co specifically record his name several times as "Thomas E. Proctor".  He lived alone in the 1840 census, age 20-30, and could be the Thomas Proctor who married Jane Littlejohn in Logan Co, 28 Dec 1846 - one record that did not have the middle initial.  Other than this marriage, I have found no record of Thomas E. after the proving of his father's will in 1841.  He was not in Logan Co in 1850, nor can be sorted from many Thomas Proctors living elsewhere.

Now, there was a man consistently recorded as Thomas Proctor "Junior" living in Logan County at the same time as the elder Thomas who was certainly not his son Thomas E.  The heirs of William Haden sold 150 acres to Thomas Jr. in 1827 - a transaction which had been done before William Haden's death in 1819, but no deed made out.  (This is one of the several documents that lists the three daughters of Sally Haden Proctor, one of whom had already married and died by 1827.)  A Thomas Proctor married Polly Collins, 20 August 1810.  The 1830 Logan County census had two Thomas Proctor and written in the margin next to the younger Thomas is "Little".  This Thomas and wife Polly moved to Missouri about 1838 - there was considerable exodus from Logan County to Missouri in the late 1830's, early 1840's, to include my husband's Hadens, but the families ended up in various places in Missouri and it doesn't seem to have been any sort of group move.  Thomas and Polly were in Lafayette County, Missouri, 1840 through 1870.  The censuses give us an approximate birth year for this Thomas Proctor as 1783 and born in Kentucky - if correct, he was born two years before Thomas Proctor the elder married Polly O'Neal. Unfortunately most have assumed Thomas Jr was a son of the elder Thomas.  He was not mentioned in the will of the elder Thomas, only the younger Thomas E. Proctor.  He may well have been a nephew.   The will of Hezekiah Proctor written 13 Jun 1830 did not name a son Thomas, although he gave small amounts to children that had received shares, and mentioned deceased children - I doubt that he omitted any of his children.  Benjamin Proctor also left a will dated 4 Sep 1840 in Logan County and states that the balance of the estate is to be divided among his eight living children, including a son named Thomas who was to be one of the executors - but he certainly wasn't the Thomas Proctor Jr. who married Polly Collins, to be shown next.   Little is known about the fourth brother - John Proctor - as he didn't leave us a will in Logan County, nor have I found an estate settlement for him.  In his articles recalling these early men of Logan County, George D. Blakey stated that John had lived on the Red River - it is possible his lands became part of Butler County.   If I have correctly identified the family of the four Proctor brothers, they had other brothers as well - William, George, and Charles - so there are other possibilities for a father for Thomas Procter, born circa 1783.  He may have been of no relation, given the use of the term "Junior" for a younger man of the same name as an older man of the community.

Benjamin Proctor's son Thomas was born circa 1809, and is consistently characterized in the Logan County records as Thomas L. S. Proctor.  He signed as executor of his father's estate with those initials.  T. L. S. Proctor was still living in Logan County as late as the 1880 census.  He was certainly not "Thomas Jr", nor was he "Thomas E".  His wife was Agnes, probably Agnes Carson, and they had at least seven children, to include a Thomas Monroe Proctor, born about 1841.  I have not researched Thomas Monroe further as he records would not have overlapped those of the Thomases above.

Still another Thomas Proctor lived in Logan County in the 1800's - he was a grandson of Hezekiah Proctor through Hezekiah's son George.  In 1850, George was living in Logan County and had a son Thomas, born about 1837.  George left a will written in 1851, but did not name all the children in his household in 1850.  The 1880 Logan Co census has Thomas, unmarried, but as the head of a household which includes his adult sisters.

Anyone wishing more information about the Logan County records of these Thomas Proctors may contact me.  My email address can be found on the profile page of this Blog or on my webpages linked from the Blog.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Men of the Same Name - William Morton

I have thought for awhile about doing a few blogs concerning men of the same name - some ladies may be included as well.  We all run across these in our research and it seems that much of the older research we find has confused men of the same name and certainly with the proliferation of online trees, many men of the same name are more or less welded together even when their records suggest otherwise.

My research in the records of Logan County, Kentucky, were particularly fraught with men of the same or very similar name - some were kin of my husband's family, some were neighbors.  At some point it became necessary to be sure I knew exactly which person was which.

There were two William Mortons living in Logan Co in the early 1800's - both with large families and somewhat of comparable age.  Both had sons named William, as well.  Hadens married into both families and at least one history of the family totally confused the Morton families. The two Morton families also intermarried with each other.  One William had a middle name and most often used a middle initial but even that is confusing because Samuel Curd, the Logan County court clerk for many years, made his I's and J's identical.  Only if you can find a supporting record that gives the full name can you be sure of the intent.  William who used the middle initial was William J. (for Jordan) Morton although it's often transcribed as William I. Morton by the unwary.

The two Williams apparently have different lines of descent from different families, although I would not be surprised if somewhere in colonial Virginia they were one family.  Daniel Morton, M.D., self-published a small book, Morton Data, in 1901, that explains the lineage of the two William Mortons.  The deed records of Logan County, made very clear the distinctions between the offspring of these families.

The first William Morton was the third child of Elijah and Elizabeth (Hawkins) Morton, who had married 3 Jul 1745 in Spotsylvania County VA.  In 1760, Elijah was a justice of the peace for Orange County which had been formed from Spotsylvania.  William was born say 1750 or so; his wife was Elizabeth Hite Smith, daughter of Maj. Charles Smith and Rebecca Hite, a granddaughter of Jost Hite.  No marriage record has been found by me but they were likely married by 1775.

William Morton can be found on a tax list in Fayette County, KY, 1787 and 1788.  Believe it or not, there was a second William Morton whose wife was Sally that lived in Fayette County at the same time as shown in deed records there - however, he was still living in Lexington, in Fayette, in 1830, many years after the William under discussion had left that place and was deceased.  In 1800, both William Mortons were still on the tax list in Fayette County.  In 1804, Thomas Respass & Ann his wife, sold a tract of land on the Gasper River, Logan County, to William Morton, (Fayette Deed Book A, p.293) and William's records appear thereafter in Logan County.  The tract was half of 1200 acres patented to Thomas Carneal & Thomas Hopkins.  Several of William's adult children remained in Fayette County.  Unfortunately he did not live long in Logan County, as the first record of the sale of the estate of William Morton, deceased, is dated 1 Jan 1808, as found in Will Book 1 of Logan County.  His wife Elizabeth H. Morton was dead by March of 1811, when her estate was appraised (Will Book 1, p.186)

Not until 14 May 1823 were the deeds recorded that divided the considerable land holdings of William Morton among his heirs.  He left no will so this would be a complete listing of his children in Logan Deed Book M., p.2-17.  I will annotate somewhat with data from other sources - please contact if you desire the details as listing them here would make this post incredibly lengthy.  They are listed by the parcel assigned, not order of their births, which in the majority of cases is unknown.

Parcel #1 - Keterah (sic) Morton - 300 acres in Union Co on the Tradewater, next to Elijah Morton.  This is Kitturah "Kitty" Morton who married Benjamin Vance, 26 Jul 1820, Logan County.
Parcel #2 - Elijah Morton - 200 acres in Union Co on Tradewater. Elijah married Nancy Stewart 28 Jun 1812, Logan Co.  He died before 1834, when his wife, remarried as Nancy Dulaney, former widow of Elijah, released dower rights to a former sale. Logan County Deed Book M, p.46, describes the sale of land he owned in Arkansas Territory in 1823.
Parcel #3 - Abraham B. Morton - 78 1/2 acres adj Saml McCutcheon & Wm Marshall.  Abraham Bowman Morton's wife was Martha as revealed when he sold his property in Logan County, 1827, and he was then of Jessamine County, KY.
Parcel #4 - Charles S. Morton - 130 1/2 acres; adj A. B. Morton.  Charles Smith Morton's wife was Hannah - they apparently remained in Fayette Co as that was his residence when this land was sold.
Parcel #5 - Elizabeth H. Morton - 119 1/2 acres adj Saml McCutcheon.  Elizabeth Hite Morton never married and lived out her life in Lexington, Fayette County.  She died 31 March 1862.
Parcel #6 - Rebeckah Haden formerly Rebeckah Morton - 140 1/2 acres adj Saml McCutcheon & Wm Marshall.  Rebecca S. [probably Smith] Morton was born 3 Jul 1781 and was married to James H. Haden by 1800 - they likely married in Fayette County where the marriage records were lost in a fire.  They had eight children, all born in Logan County.  Estate records indicated James had died by December of 1822, Rebecca by November of 1842.  James H. Haden was the son of William Haden & Ann "Nancy" Johnson who had married in Goochland County, VA, 31 Oct 1775.  William Haden lived near William Morton in both Fayette and Logan Counties.
Parcel #7 - Sally Morton - 200 acres; adj Saml McCutcheon, James Elder.  Sarah Morton never married and the sale of her inheritance in 1835, suggests she still lived in Fayette County, quite possibly with her sister Elizabeth.
Parcel #8 - Polly Morton - 200 acres; adj Robert Bell & Wm Marshall, Wm Moody's line; survey made in name of Christopher Elms.  Mary "Polly" Morton married John Barner, 22 Sep 1835, Logan County, as his second wife.  She died 20 Apr 1878 and is believed buried in what is now called the Perry Cemetery in Logan County.
Parcel #9 - George W. Morton - 111 acres.  Harveys military survey; division line of Morton & Hopkins. George Washington Morton remained in Fayette Co where he married Elizabeth Scott, 3 Jan 1828. However, he must have often been in Logan County as he assisted his sister Rebecca Morton Haden with the settlement of her husband's estate.  James H. Haden had been administrator of several other estates when he died intestate, making Rebecca's situation extremely complicated.
Parcel #10 - Gabriel J. Morton - 111 acres.  Harveys military survey; division line of Morton & Hopkins. Gabriel married Winnifred B. Taylor, 21 Jan 1822, Logan County.  She was the daughter of Thomas W. Taylor.
Parcel #11 - John H. Morton - 111 acres.  Harveys military survey; division line of Morton & Hopkins. John Hite Morton married Sarah Price, 2 May 1802.  They remained in Fayette County.  He died 15 Aug 1830.
Parcel #12 - Andrew & Fanny Caldwell - 111 acres.  Harveys military survey.  Frances Terrill "Fanny" Morton married Andrew Caldwell, 2 Apr 1808, Logan County.  Frances was born 29 Feb 1788; she died in Logan County, 23 Oct 1862 and is buried Maple Grove Cemetery.
Parcel #13 - William R. Morton - 153 acres.  Harveys military survey.  William married Elizabeth J. Bradford, 7 Mar 1830.  They lived in Lexington.
There is also believed to have been a son Joseph who died as a child, making a total of 14 children.

Now William Jordan Morton, was born 15 Nov 1754, Westmoreland County, VA, son of Joseph Morton and his second wife, Margaret (or Elizabeth) Beckwith.  His wife was Martha Pryor and they married 16 Mar 1779.  Martha died in Louisa County VA, 15 Mar 1800, apparently in childbirth with their 12th child. William died in Logan County, KY, 3 Jan 1825 - he had moved there about 1811.

The following is the deed that named the children of William J. Morton, some of whom have the same given names as children of the other William Morton.  This William's entire family settled in Logan County.
Logan Co Deed Book Q, p.205    3 Feb 1830   Decree of chancery court ordered sale of tract of land where Peter Morton was living that had been sold to William J. Morton Sr. by William Haden on 12 Jul 1819 [DB G, p.259].  Peter Morton was highest bidder.  Deed from the heirs of William J. Morton Sr., named the twelve children as shown here as well as the children of daughters, Sarah and Martha, who had died.  Jefferson Haden and his wife Betsy, formerly Betsy Morton, were included.  The book Morton Data, mentioned earlier, had exact birth dates for the same list of children - all of whom were said born in Lousia County, VA
1.  Peter Morton, b. 16 Dec 1779, married Sarah Maxwell, 22 Feb 1844, Logan County, d. Dec 1854, Logan County.
2.  Sarah Morton, b. 10 Nov 1781, d. 5 Mar 1824.  Married Martin Robertson and her thirteen children are named in the deed.
3.  Rebecca Morton, b. 21 May 1783, d. May 1838, Logan County.  Never married.
4.  Frances Hubbard "Fannie" Morton, b. 9 Mar 1785, d. 21 Jul 1834, Logan County.  Never married.  Buried Maple Grove Cemetery, Russellville KY.
5.  William Jordan Morton, Jr., b. 9 Sep 1786, d. 16 Mar 1860, Logan County.  Married three times and had at least one child by each wife.  His first wife was Rebecca, or Rhoda Haden - they married 2 Dec 1805.  She was the daughter of Joseph Haden and Mary Peatross - the Rev. Douglas in Goochland recorded her baptism. 8 Jul 1787, as Rhoda.  The settlement of Joseph Haden's estate lists her as Rebecca Morton, as does the Morton family history.  The second and third wives were likely sisters, Louisa McCormick and Clarissa McCormick McClelland, widow of John McClelland - daughters of John McCormick.
6.  Margaret Beckwith Morton, b. 31 Mar 1788, d. 20 Aug 1875, Logan County.  Never married.  Buried Maple Grove Cemetery.
7.  Joseph Morton, b. 28 Feb 1790, d. 27 Aug 1846.  Married 1 Sep 1817, Logan County, to Lousia A. Davidson.
8.  John Morton, b. 21 Jan 1792, d. about 1835, Logan County.  Married Catherine Miller Spencer, 5 Apr 1830, daughter of David Spencer and Elizabeth Epperson.
9.  Elizabeth "Betsy" Morton, b. 2 Sep 1794, d. 9 Feb 1876, Logan County.  Married 21 Oct 1824, Logan County, to Jefferson Haden, son of James H. Haden and Rebecca S. Morton [daughter of the "other" William - see above].  They had six children, including a son named William Jordan Haden.
10.  Marmaduke Beckwith Morton, b. 13 Sep 1796, d. 11 Mar 1887, Logan County.  Married twice to sisters, Nancy and Elizabeth Caldwell, daughters of Andrew Caldwell and Frances Terrill Morton, [daughter of the "other" William Morton]
11.  Henry Pryor Morton, b. 13 Sep 1798, d. 15 Oct 1870, Logan County.  In 1850 and 1860, Henry lived with his widowed sister-in-law, Louisa Davidson Morton, and described as the overseer.  In 1870, just prior to his death, he was head of the household.  I have found no marriage record.
12.  Martha Morton, b. 15 Mar 1800, d. before 1830.  Martha married James McCarley, 28 Sep 1826, Logan County.  Two daughters, Martha & Sarah McCarly, were her heirs.

There are records of still another William Morton living in Logan County, but I believe he was William Norton, not Morton.  With so many Mortons living in the county, it's easy to see how such an error could occur and I'm including this for the benefit of others who might find these records.  The first William Morton discussed was dead when this deed was made and his son of the same name lived in Fayette County. William Jordan Morton Senior,and his son of the same name are not known to have been married to a Mary "Polly", and  it is unusual to find their names without the middle initial.  It would also be unusual to find his son in a record without both the middle initial and followed by the "Jr" while his father was living. They seemed to be quite careful with the distinction.

Here is the deed that I have not been able to assign to any of the above William Mortons.  None are recorded as having married a Mary "Polly" Hise.  I believe there was an error in the first letter of the surname.

Logan Co DB O, p.62
8 Sep 1823  
William Morton & Polly his wife of Russellville to Richard Bibb Sr. for $1000.  Tract of land conveyed to sd Polly Morton as one of the heirs of Frederick Hise Dec'd.  7 apr 1823.  adj.  James Wilson, Samuel Gray. 196 A, Lot #3 of the Division of Hise.  Acknowledged & dower released, 11 Sep 1823.

A Frederick Hise's estate was appraised in Logan Co, 30 Dec 1816.  A settlement was recorded 18 Dec 1820 and Mrs. Nancy Hise was executor.  Her dower was laid off Oct 1822.  Abstracts of Wills and Settlements, Logan County, KY  1795-1838, compiled by the Logan Co Genealogical Society, p.55, lists heirs of Frederick Hise as wife, Elijah, Joseph, Lorinda Stockdale, and America.  Then, p.58, from Will Book B, p.493-4 is the abstract of the division of the real estate of Frederick Hise, 10-11 Mar 1823.  Elijah Hise - 100 acres.  Joseph Hise - 122 acres.  William Morton and wife Polly - 196 acres.  The division doesn't agree with the list of heirs, but I find these abstracts to often be incomplete and to contain errors.

Then there are records indicating this was indeed William Norton:
Logan County Kentucky Marriages: 1790-1865, Logan Co Genealogical Society, p. 69, lists a marriage from Polly Hise to William Norton, 10 April 1813.  There is also a book listed in the LDS Family History library, and available in digital form, titled The Nortons of Russellville, KY, by David Norton, with the description,  "William Norton was born 2 September 1781 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He married Mary Hise, daughter of Frederick Hise and Nancy, 11 April 1813 in Russelville, Kentucky. They had nine children. Descendants and relatives lived mainly in Kentucky and Missouri." 

I hope this helps someone else sort out the Mortons of Logan County, Kentucky.  My email address can be found under my profile on the right hand side, or from my "Leaves of the Tree" webpage.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Treasure Hunt

Ahoy, Matey!

Glad you dropped by for the First Clue in the RootsMagic Online Treasure Hunt!  Just look around for the treasure chest and your First Clue.

I hope you've tried RootsMagic, now in its 6th Version ...and the new release for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch is phenomenal.   The new online publishing is impressive - you can see a version of that here and there.

From Thursday, March 21 through Wednesday, March 27, 2013, visit for a complete list of the blogs where the 15 clue words can be found. Visit each blog, collect all 15 clue words, and you could win software, prizes, or an iPad!

IF YOU ARE AT RootsTech!
Once you've collected the clues there are two ways to enter. The first is at the RootsTech conference itself. Pick up an entry card at the RootsMagic booth (#401) in the Exhibit Hall. Write the clue words on the back of the card and return it to the RootsMagic booth in the Exhibit Hall by Saturday, March 23 at 1:20 pm. At that time, we will hold the prize drawings. You must be present to win.

BUT if you couldn't get there this year!
We didn't want those who aren't able to attend RootsTech in person to feel left out so we're holding a second drawing and giving away more prizes including a second iPad. To enter this drawing, visit anytime between Thursday, March 21 and midnight MST on Wednesday, March 27, 2013. Fill out the online form to be entered into the second drawing. You may enter both drawings but one entry per person, per drawing. Winners will be picked at random and notified via e-mail by Friday, March 29, 2013.

While you're here on my Blog - you'll see in the side bar the labels that link to my posts concerning problems, conflicts, and brick walls in my family tree. The posts on my civil War ancestors are my favorites.  The new Comstock family breakthrough is very exciting.  Please look around!

Disclosure: I'm a satisfied user of RootsMagic.  I've used Bruce Buzbee's software since it was Family Origins.  I have no other relationship.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Comstock Breakthrough - More Records

More new Comstock Records? There are additional recorded baptisms at Uxbridge St. Margaret for the years between 1632 and 1646. They were just recorded out of order. It always pays to keeping reading the next page, and the next, and the next. My deepest appreciation to my friend and fellow researcher, Lyndon Comstock, who did keep right on reading! Please be sure to go back and read the previous Blog for the source of the St. Margaret records online. Comstock Breakthrough

On this side of the Atlantic, it has been supposed that William and Elizabeth Comstock had five children - John and Daniel, proved when a son of each of them sold a track of land stating it had come to their respective fathers from their grandfather William Comstock. Samuel and Christopher Comstock, and a probable daughter Elizabeth who was the wife of Edward Shipman, have been added to the family by circumstantial evidence, their estimated ages, and the fact that there simply weren't other persons with the surname Comstock in New England at the time. One or two other names have been proposed as children in some of the old histories, but it is likely they were grandchildren.

Various dates for William Comstock & family's arrival in the colonies exist. Some have proposed he might have served in the Pequot War in 1637. However, since the earliest land records in Wethersfield have been lost, nothing has surfaced to prove that William Comstock was here in time to be in that War. Perhaps he was placed as a possible soldier in light of the list of settlers, described next. What can be proved is that William Comstock's name is on a list of settlers that came to Wethersfield between 1636 and 1640. The explanation accompanying the list is that these settlers are believed not to have come from Watertown as did the original proprietors and that some of them had come directly from England. This list can be found in History of Ancient Wethersfield,p.29, which is available on by subscription. In 1641, Comstock was living on a tract purchased from one Richard Mylles, who is believed to have left Wethersfield about 1637 or 1638.

Here are additional baptisms. These are not quite as clear as the other three of Daniel, John and Samuel; yet, combined with them make a powerful statement regarding this family. There appear to be two baptisms for a son named Christopher. Possibly a son died as an infant? There is what appears to be an incomplete entry 18 Aug 1634. The child is Christopher - the father's abbreviated first name, may indeed be Wm and the surname does look much like Coomestock in the other entries - it has been indexed as "Cumsters" which it certainly isn't. There is a second entry for a son Christor, 17 May 1636. Perhaps an abbreviation for Christopher. The father was William Coomestock, although this time indexed as "Cumscock". There is a word following the father's name - almost looks like "and" and doesn't seem to be "wife" or "uxor", the Latin word used often for the wife.

In my opinion, it would be more unusual for all five children of William and Elizabeth Comstock to have survived, than for the possibility that they lost an infant soon after birth, and gave the next child the same name. However, this is speculation and my own opinion, these entries are certainly not conclusive.  

Now, that leaves Elizabeth. So far, and I will continue to look at these records, I have not postively found her. We have baptisms of children in 1624 - Daniel, 1626 - John, 1629 - Samuel. Then maybe a son Christopher in 1634 who did not survive, followed by a Christopher baptized in 1636. All of these spaced as expected in a time when no birth control expected - except for the gap between Samuel in 1629 and the first possible Christopher in 1634.

There is a baptism at Uxbridge St. Margaret, 29 Jun 1632, for a child named Elizabeth but NO PARENTS are listed at all. Bummer.

Note, that the last of the baptisms was in May of 1636. Plenty of time for the family to then leave for the colonies and purchase Richard Mylls tract in Wethersfield, about 1638 or so.  Likely Comstock was not in Wethersfield to take part in the Pequot War.

Please remember that these are very new findings. Either this is the family of William Comstock or we have a number of amazing coincidences. They certainly indicate places to further our research on the Comstock family.

Further research has revealed a previously overlooked baptism for Elizabeth - we can likely disregard the incomplete entry noted above.

Baptisms at Hillingdon, Uxbridge St Margaret
1631, 18 Dec  Elizabeth fillia William Coomstocke
Note:  filia is Latin for daughter

I did hire a researcher in England to look for additional records - none were found in the Parish records, nor the records of parishes nearby.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Comstock Breakthrough

When a family has been researched, several books written, etc. for many years - over a century in this case - it's so easy to assume that the records about the family have been located.  The Comstock family of my mother has a history of documentation - the majority of it quite good.  However, the origins of the family in England prior to their arrival in New England between 1636 and 1640 have been elusive.

There is a village of Culmstock, East Devon, in England.  As many of the English surnames are derivative from geographical locations, the Comstocks have often been assumed to have lived in this area.  And that's certainly a possibility; however, there are no actual records of this surname in this place at the time these Comstocks would have been born and then preparing to leave to cross the Atlantic.

Our immigrant was presumably William Comstock who was on a list of 108 settlers that arrived in Wethersfield, Connecticut between 1636 and 1640.  He was not one of the original ten men from Watertown, Massachusetts, who made what is believed to be this first settlement in Connecticut the year before.  Although books in print suggest William might have arrived earlier in Massachusetts Bay, I've not yet  discovered any recorded proof that he did.  Robert Charles Anderson and his very thoroughly researched Great Migrations publications has never found any mention of the surname Comstock prior to 1635.  William probably came with his wife, and as many as five children, although one of two of the younger ones could have been born in New England depending on the year of his arrival.

As discussed in other posts (labeled Comstock) William's wife was Elizabeth - said to have been age 55 in 1663, or born about 1608.  Her given name is also identified in a few other records.  Daniel, or Daniels, can be found in many databases on the Internet as her surname, but without any sort of proof. Examination of the voluminous manuscript of John A. Comstock who wrote The Comstock Family in America which is at NEHGS in Boston, revealed that this surname had been attached to Elizabeth in a very early lineage society application without any substantiation.  So in my mind, her surname has remained a definite question.

William Comstock, and some of his sons, have been given some speculative baptisms in England by a few researchers which are then copied and recopied by others.  A birth/baptism seen frequently on the Internet for William is 4 Jul 1595 in the above Culmstock village - my research has indicated this is in all probability not an actual existing record of either his birth or his baptism.

The most plausible record that I had not been able to confirm since I had no access to the actual digitized Parish records and no access to the book, is the following:  there is a Baptism at St. Martin in the Fields, London, for a William Comstock on this date, 4 Jul 1596, from one of the two volumes of Ancestry of Colonel John Harrington Stevens & Frances Helen Miller by Mary Lovering Holman, 1948.

I had found the above baptism indexed on  Yes, there is such a baptism recorded at St. Martin in the Fields, which is the church in Trafalgar Square, London.  The name is spelled William Coomstocke and no parents names are given - the date is most certainly 4 Jul 1596.  That other Comstocks were there is further proved by C. B. Comstock's findings for his books on the family - he had found these burials.
From his book,  Descendants of William Comstock of New London, Connecticut, published 1907:
The Harleian Society publications gives among the burials of the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London: 
"Mariana Combstocke, 30 Novr 1595. 
"Joannes Combstocke, 26 Aug. 1597. 
"Johannes Comstock, 1 Nov. 1603." 

Now, I must also state that the above book by Holman apparently stated that there was a burial at St. Martin for a William Comstock on 20 May 1598 - no age given, so it may or may not be the child born in 1595.  I note that this was not found in the Harleian Society records as found by C. B. Comstock and I did not find it on FamilySearch in their index of records of St. Martin.  But I found none of the above burials in the FamilySearch records, so perhaps they are not complete.  So, although I've recorded this baptism in my notes - I had never felt secure that this was indeed "my" William Comstock of New England.
Now, yesterday, I found the following four records.

The first, the marriage, is also from
Wm. Camstock married Eliz. Cock, 2 Sep 1623, High Wycombe, Buckingham, England
It can be found here:  "England, Marriages, 1538–1973 "

The three baptisms are digitized on  And, I have to admit it, I found them because of a "Shaking Leaf"!  So many of the Leaves are attached to the wrong record, that I almost didn't even look at the record, but it was a Parish record, in the database of "London, England, Baptisms, Marriages & Burials, 1538-1812" so I looked at it, then I proceeded to look much more closely.

At Hillingdon, Uxbridge, St Margaret, were three baptisms:

1624, 21 Jul     Indexed as "Damell", sonne to Willm Coomestone and Elizabeth his wife.
Note:  I read the child's name as Daniell with an undotted i and the surname looks more like Coomestonk

1626, 10 Sep    John, sonne to Willm Coomestocke and Elizabeth his wife

1629, 26 Apr    Samuell, sonne to Willm Coomestock and Elizabeth uxor
Note:  "uxor" is Latin for wife

So there you are!

We have a William Comstock who married an Elizabeth [certainly not Daniels but that was apparently always conjecture] and the baptisms of three children who are found in New England with William and Elizabeth.  John and Daniel are proved sons by record, Samuel previously proved only by circumstance and association.  There were likely two more children - a daughter Elizabeth and a son Christopher. Unfortunately there is a gap in the Baptisms at St. Margaret church - none are record from Mar 6th, 1632 until 13 Feb 1646 - the very time period when these two younger children were likely born.  There are no burials recorded until July 1641.  And there were no other Comstocks, or alternate spellings, in these records at St. Margaret that I could locate.

The marriage took place about 10 months before the birth of the first child.  High Wycombe in Buckingham where the couple married, is about 16 or 17 miles west of the village of Uxbridge where St. Margaret is located.  This church stands today.  Uxbridge in Hillingdon is part of the city of London.  The church of St. Martin In the Fields probably only about another 15 or 16 miles from Uxbridge.

The locations are reasonable.  The dates are very reasonable in light of what is known about the family in New England.  I have seen later dates for the birth of Daniel, but other records suggested to me he was definitely one of the oldest of the sons and certainly older than Samuel.  The names match - not in a single record, but in four records.

Further research can now proceed.  It would seem that perhaps we now have a surname for William's wife Elizabeth and proof that Samuel was indeed a son, and neighborhoods in England for the family. Possibly we have the baptism of William Comstock in London, as well.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

I haven't done a "Saturday Night Genealogy Fun" post as proposed by Randy Seaver in quite some time. I am really intrigued with the one for this Saturday, January 5th, 2013.

The Mission is:

1)  Determine where your ancestral families were on 1 January 1913 - 100 years ago.

2)  List them, their family members, their birth years, and their residence location (as close as possible).  Do you have a photograph of their residence from about that time, and does the residence still exist?

3)  Tell us all about it in your own blog post, .....

My maternal grandparents, Kenney Marcus Comstock (1887-1958) and Nora Lee Hays (1887-1973) had married in January of 1908, Crawford Co, AR.  The 1910 census shows them living in Union Township, a rural area, in that county.  Kenney was 22, Nora 23.  Their first child, a son, Graydon Comstock had been born, November, 1908.   I know that my grandfather first tried to make a living a farming and my grandmother taught the primary grades at the country school.  Their second son was not born until 1914 and he was born in the nearby town - Van Buren.  Then my Mom, born in 1916, was born back in the country near where they had lived when first married - an area called Stony Point, but not an actual town. I do not know exactly where they were on 1 Jan 1913, nor what house they lived in then.  I do have a picture of the house where my Mom was born, but nothing from the earlier residences.

My great-grandparents, James Monroe Comstock (1860-1928) and Lucretia Ellen Wood (1867-1963) were also living in Union Township, Crawford Co, AR in 1910 - but they were enumerated about 60 families away from my grandparents.  Of course, they may have lived closer together than that indicates depending on the route of the enumerator.  They still had six of their eight living children at home - and all of them would have still been in the household in January of 1913.  They were Ira, 17; Maude, 15; Edna, 10; Lettie, 8; Pauline, 4; and Paul, 3.  The town of Uniontown was located in Union Township and the enumerator did not differentiate who lived in the actual town, but I believe that this family was living in town.  My great-grandfather had a general store; he wasn't a farmer. I do have a picture of a large two-story white home with all of the above standing in the yard and based on the ages, it appears to have been made just about 1909 or 1910.  I'm reasonably sure they were still living there in that house in early 1913, because my Aunt Maude married in Uniontown in December of 1913.  The house burned some years later after they had moved into Van Buren.

My great-grandparents, John Jefferson Hays (1856-1950) and Philena Josephine "Josie" Allen (1856-1935) were living three residences from James & Ellen Comstock, in 1910.  Again, I believe they were residents of the town of Uniontown.  Two of their five living children were still at home and would have been with them in 1913.  In 1910, John and Josie were both 53, married for 34 years.  Daughter Minnie, was 20, teaching school, and son Arthur was age 18.  Neither married prior to 1913.  John was a farmer, but didn't always live on the farm - he raised strawberries on a hillside near Van Buren and also ran a cotton gin.  I don't have any pictures of their homes in Uniontown.  By 1920 the Hays would be living in Van Buren on what is now McKibben Street that runs north of Fairview Cemetery.  I do have a picture of this house that I took several years ago - it is still there.

My great, great grandfather, Elijah Thomas "Tom" Comstock (1838-1917) had lost his wife in February of 1912.  In 1913, he would have likely still been living at their homestead, on Lee's Creek, Crawford Co. You can look across the Creek and see Oklahoma.  Their youngest son and his family lived on part of the homestead so would have been nearby  The home they lived in there has been gone many, many years and no pictures have survived.

My great, great grandparents, Joseph Christopher Wood (1841-1927) and his wife Letitia Ann Mayberry (1844-1926) were also living in Uniontown, Crawford Co, in 1913.  They were the first household enumerated in Union Township in 1910 and they were on the same page with the Hays family and the family of their grandson, James Monroe Comstock.  Grandpa Wood was the postmaster of Uniontown for some years and may have been at this time.  Living with Joseph and Letitia in 1910 were a son Andrew, age 41, a barber, and a granddaughter, Mabel Burchfield, age 18.  Andrew would probably have still been with them in early 1913 as he didn't marry until 1914.  The house they lived in also burned some years ago.  No pictures have survived.

My paternal grandparents also lived in Crawford Co, AR, but in another part of the county.  My parents did not meet until they were adults and my mother had moved back to the small town of Chester in Crawford Co to teach school.  These grandparents were Ray Weymouth Adamson (1884-1958) and Mary May Harrison (1894-1929).  They were married July of 1912, but in 1910 they were living in the same household because Ray, his mother and a brother were apparently renting rooms [or perhaps a cabin] from the Harrisons.  As newlyweds, I have no idea where they lived in early 1913 except they were in Chester, or nearby.  It's quite possible they still lived with her parents.

My great grandparents, Elisha Shelton Harrison (1850-1929) and Edith Jane Irwin (1855-1932) were living in Chester, Crawford Co, AR in 1910 - there were three families enumerated in the same household and two of them as part of the same family.  It was either a very big house or possibly they had a cabin or two on the same farm.  In 1910, they had been married for 34 years and had twelve children, ten of them still living.  Several were still living at home - son Frederick was 28, Edwin was 24, Benjamin 19, and twin daughters, Margaret and Mary [my grandmother], were age 16.   The Adamsons were enumerated as a different family, but with the same household number.  My great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth "Molly" (Harmon) Adamson (1849-1912) was living there with her sons, Ray age 25, and Clair, age 17.  My great grandparents Adamson had lived in Rogers, Benton Co, AR about 50 miles from Chester but my great-grandfather had died in January of 1910 and his obituary mentions that he had fruit orchards near Chester. Perhaps Molly had gone there to live temporarily to take care of the orchards, but she died back in Rogers in 1912.  A Tribble family was listed as part of the same family as the Adamsons, but they were not kin to either the Adamsons or the Harrisons.  The only reasonable explanation other than simply an error on the part of the enumerator is that there might have been two houses on the Harrison property - one that the Harrisons lived in, the other a duplex.  The Harrisons & Tribbles are marked as renters, and the widow Adamson as an owner.  As I write this, I realize I should be examining land records for this time period!  The Harrisons had been in Chester since the 1870's - I feel sure they owned their property.  I have no pictures of the homes.

I had one great, great grandparent still living in January of 1913 on the paternal side as well.  He is the only of my direct living relatives to be somewhere other than Crawford County in Arkansas at that time. Ira Perrin Irwin was born 1831 in Ohio and died in August of 1913 in Schuyler County, IL.  He had married a second time to a lady quite a bit younger than he was.  In 1910 they were in Bainbridge Township in Schuyler Co - Ira was age 79, his wife, Kate, 68.  His obituary states he was still living in Bainbridge at the time of his death.  I have no pictures from Illinois.

This was a very interesting exercise.  Crawford County was a very rural area - then and much of the county is today.  Most of the homes of the period were basic cabins on homesteads, or those in town, wood frame homes.  Any existing fire department was a bucket brigade and I know at least two of the family homes were destroyed by fire - both incidents happened after my families had moved.  I have only two pictures and one of those was a home lived in a few years after 1913.  One hundred years is a long time...