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...