Saturday, January 27, 2018

52 Ancestors: Dinner is Served

Amy Johnson Crow's prompt for this week is "Invite to Dinner."

Back in the dark ages I was, for a short time, a travel editor and writer. On one trip I was sitting around the dinner table with several other travel writers when one of them suggested we each name three people living or dead we would like to invite to dinner. I don't remember every name that was offered but I do remember that Jesus got the most votes. Others included Henry VIII, George Washington, Robert E. Lee and several popular entertainment stars like Marilyn Monroe.

There was no question who my #1 invitee would be -- William Gill (my 3rd great grandfather). I got puzzled looks around the table. Not a genealogist among them or they would have known why. He is my longest standing brick wall. If I could have three to dinner, the other two might be his son, William Gill, and his grandson, John Buckstaff Gill.

I know almost nothing about my 3rd great grandfather.

He was born, had to have been, but I don't know when. In fact, I have doubts his real name was William Gill. Of the Y-DNA "matches" that have been reported to me, only one has an ancestor named Gill. In the Gill DNA group, I am the only one with a haplogroup of R-Z9.

The brick-wall William's son reported in the 1880 census that his father was born in Maine. Since the son was only 5 years old when his father may have died, I'm not giving much credence to that report.

Whoever he was, the brick-wall William apparently fathered a child by Anna Brockway (abt 1806 - 1888). She was about 14 years old. No marriage record has been found. That child, William Gill, is my 2nd great grandfather.  He was born 5 July 1820 in New Brunswick, Canada,  was married three times, had 9 children and died 4 November 1892 in Marshfield, Wisconsin.

The brick-wall William may have died about 1825. Anna Brockway's father was named administrator of the estate.

Reuben Brockway and George McKenzie of Saint George, Yeomen, and Thomas Myer of Saint Andrews Esq. all of Charlotte County, New Brunswick, posted bond of 100 pounds for Reuben Brockway administrator "of all and singular the Goods, Chattels, and Credits, of William Gill, late of Saint George aforesaid deceased." Reuben Brockway was required to make an inventory and submit it to the Registry of the Prerogative Court by 27 September 1825 and an account by 27 December 1825. Witnesses to the bond were Colin Campbell, Edward Wilson, William Polleys and James Stuart.

No inventory was ever submitted.

Was this probate a sham to cover up an illegitimacy?

If the first son was born in 1820 and the father died in 1825, why were there no other children. Children usually came along every two years or less. Even if the family was poor. Anna Brockway married William Smart perhaps about 1826 and bore 10 children.

Or, did the brick-wall William run off or die after (or even before) the birth of his son.

If the brick-wall William Gill came to dinner, whoever he was and whatever his name was, he'd have a lot of questions to answer.

So would his son, William. He's next.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Virginia/Indiana Hudson Hughes

   As mentioned in yesterday's blog, many online family trees confuse two Hudson Hughes. One lived in North Carolina -- the subject of yesterday's blog. The other lived mainly in Virginia and Indiana. A side-by-side timeline of the two has convinced me that they could not be the same person.

   Virginia/Indiana Hudson Hughes: This Hudson Hughes was born about 1774, probably in Virginia. This date is consistent with the 1810 census in Bath Co., Virginia, the 1820 census in Mason Co., Virginia, and the 1840 census in Vermillion Co., Indiana. The 1830 census of Vermillion Co., Indiana, lists a Hudson Hughes, but the ages of the oldest male and oldest female are not consistent with the other censuses.
   The 1774 birth date is calculated from evidence in the tax lists. In 1794, Israel Hughes had two titheables in his household. In 1795, he had one and that is the year Hudson Hughes first appears in the tax lists. Both Israel and Hudson were taxed on 11 July 1795 which indicates that they were in the same household or in the same neighborhood. In 1794, Israel had 5 horses. In 1795, he had only 4 and Hudson had 1.
   Hudson's first son was named Israel, so it's possible this Israel in the tax list was Hudson's father. Israel will be the next research target.
   Hudson Hughes appears in the tax lists of Bath Co., Virginia, from 1795-97, 1801-02, 1810-11. Other counties need to be searched. [I have subscribed to the Virginia Tax List Club on the Binns Genealogy website. It has been very useful to me.]
    Hudson Hughes was married in Greenbrier County, just south of Bath County, in 1795-6. The date on the record is uncertain as is the surname of the bride. Her first name was Lucy and her surname has been transcribed as Boloaway. The first letter is almost an ink blob, but if you blow it up and follow the pen strokes, I think you may agree that the first letter is an H -- Holoaway. There was a Charles Holdways in the Greenbrier tax lists in 1795 and 1796, not before or after. Whether Lucy is related to him remains to be discovered.
   There is a Lucinda Hughes buried in the Hughes Cemetery in Vermillion County, Indiana. The stone is badly worn but has been deciphered as born 4 January 1776 and died 13 September 1830. The Find A Grave memorial states that she was the wife of Hudson Hughes but no source for that statement is given. When Hudson Hughes remarried in 1832, the first child by his new wife was named Lucinda.

   Hudson was in the Bath County census in 1810. There were 8 persons in the household. The oldest male was age 26-44, born 1766-1784, and the oldest female was aged the same.
   He was in the 1820 census of Mason County, Virginia. There were 13 persons in the household. The oldest male was age 45+, born before 1775, and the oldest female was age 26-44, born 1776-1794.
   He was in the 1840 census of Highland Township, Vermillion County, Indiana. There were 8 persons in the household. The oldest male was age 60-70, born 1771-1780, and the oldest female (Almyra, his second wife) was age 40-49, born 1791-1800.

   About 1812 Hudson and Israel moved from Bath County to Mason County, Virginias/West Virginia. Hudson is in the tax lists there continuously from 1813 to 1829. Israel is only there in the 1814 list.
   There are several Hughes families in the Bath and Mason County tax lists. More research is needed to work out their relationships and ancestry.
   It's possible that Hudson Hughes was missed in the 1830 census. He may have left Mason County before it was taken and arrived in Vermillion County, Indiana, after it was taken.
   As has been stated, there is a Hudson Hughes in the 1830 census of Vermillion County, Indiana, but the oldest male is aged 30-39, as is the oldest female. Also, this family includes 6 children born between 1820 and 1830. Lucinda Hughes died 13 September 1830 aged 54. It is very unlikely she had 6 children born between the ages of 44 and 54.

   In 1832, Hudson Hughes remarried to the widow Almyra Bishop. They had two children -- Lucinda and Leander
   Hudson purchased 80 acres of land in Section 20, Township 18 north, Range 10 west, from the government, receiving letters of patent dated 18 March 1837.
   When Hudson Hughes died, Richard M. Waterman was authorized in November 1841 to administer the estate. He found insufficient personal property to pay debts and asked permission to sell his land. The heirs are identified in court records as:
   ⚫ Almyra Hughs, his widow
   ⚫ Israel Hughs and Orra Hughs his wife
   ⚫ Morris Hughs and Roda, his wife
   ⚫ Moses Hughs and Elizabeth, his wife
   ⚫ James Bradburn and Jane, his wife, formerly Jane Hughs
   ⚫ Hugh Cameron and Margaret, his wife, formerly Margaret Hughs
   ⚫ Mary Hughs
   ⚫ John Hughs and Sophinislea Hughs, his wife
   ⚫ Edward Hughs and Minerva Hughs, his wife
   ⚫ Frances Dunnivan, formerly Frances Hughs
   ⚫ minor heirs Leander and Lucinda.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Two Hudson Hughes

   Numerous online family trees have included a Hudson Hughes. Most say he was born in North Carolina, abandoned his wife and moved to Virginia and then, ultimately, moved to Indiana where he died.
   This interpretation is nice for assumed descendants because his North Carolina wife was Margaret Balfour, daughter of the Revolutionary War patriot Col. Andrew Balfour.
   Unfortunately this interpretation is not correct. It would be nice to have Col. Balfour as my ancestor, but he isn't.
   There were, in fact, two men named Hudson Hughes. Here is a link to a timeline that lists events for the two Hudsons -- the North Carolina Hudson and the Virginia/Indiana Hudson. I don't see how they could have been the same man.

   North Carolina Hudson: The 1800 census of Rowan County, North Carolina, lists a Hudson Hughes twice (pages 277 and 287). They appear to be duplicates. In both, the oldest male is age 26 to 44 (born 1756-1774).
   A Hudson Hughes was witness to a deed in Rowan County in 1786. If the law required a witness to be 21, then Hudson was born in 1765 or before. If the law required age 18, then 1768 or before.
   Joseph Hughes, father of Hudson, died intestate in 1793 and Mary Hughes, his mother, died intestate in 1794. (see Rowan County wills and estate papers for details and names of other children).
   Hudson Hughes married Margaret Balfour in 1796 in Rowan County. They had two children: (1) Mary Ann born 1798, married 1817 Samuel Reeves and died 1852; (2) Eliz, born after 1800 and died young.
   The North Carolina Hudson is not listed in the 1810 census. Margaret and her two children may be part of the family of Eliz Balfour in Salisbury.
   The last record that has been found pertaining to Hudson Hughes is dated 25 October 1812 when he sold two lots in Salisbury to George Fisher. H. Hughs acknowledged the sale at the November court term.

   What happened to the North Carolina Hudson Hughes?
   He would have been about 45 years old when he sold the lots in Salisbury.
   Rev. Eli W. Caruthers in his book Revolutionary Incidents and Sketches of Characters, Chiefly  in the Old North State (1854) had a lengthy section on Col. Balfour in which he said, "This daughter also, now the widow Margaret, having lost her husband by a mysterious Providence, . . . "
   What would qualify as a "mysterious Providence?"
   Robert G. Hughes wrote an excellent research paper (undated, perhaps 1970s or 1980s) Hugh/Hughs/Hughes in which he traced his ancestry through Hudson to Owen Hugh of Pennsylvania. In it he states, "The only interpertation (sic) of Caruthers' statement that . . . I can think of, is that Hudson Hughes abandoned her, since he later is living in Virginia." Unfortunately, we have the common pitfall of "the name's the same and the age is about right." The Hudson Hughes living in Virginia is not the Hudson Hughes from North Carolina.

   Adding to the puzzle of the fate of the North Carolina Hudson Hughes is the will of Margaret Balfour Hughes. The will is recorded in Randolph County Will Book 4, page 541, under the name of Margaret Balfour, not Margaret Hughes.
   Why? The only reason I can think of is divorce.
   Another puzzling thing about the will is that Margaret leaves everything to the children of her half sister. Her daughter, Mary Ann (Hughes) Reeves, is not mentioned.

   Tomorrow -- my ancestor -- the Virginia/Indiana Hudson Hughes.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Rat Hesitated

   Paul B Hendrickson was born this date, 8 October 1896, in Crawford County, Illinois. He enlisted 12 April 1917 in the 5th Infantry, Illinois National Guard, which later became part of the 33rd Division. His service was divided between being a bugler, trumpeter in military bands and in signal work.

   This is a paragraph from a letter Paul wrote to his mother dated 10 September 1918.

   "Well mom - I had a rather novel little experience last nite. While writing last evening I stated that the bread was hung where a rat or mouse could not climb to it. Well that is so - But - here is how it happened. Mr. rat comes bounding down stairs - and of course by experience knew the bread was where he could not climb and get it, so pounced on to my body, shoves in his toe nails and in one streneous leap reaches his goal - the loaf of bread. Of course when I felt him push I knew what was taking place. Well you may lay it on to me, but beware trying to rub it in like that. I was peeved at the nerve of the big brute - I sliped my hand over to the Colt .45 cal, cocked it, and with my other hand used the flash light. Well the bright light made him hesitate a second (they get so careless too, they take their time at whatever they do) and that was a bit too long for him, for I let him have one lead pill. was comical how it knocked him sprawling onto the floor. it went thru his back. He scrambled on the floor a bit so I pinned him down with my bayonet and went to sleep. So did he. This noon when I woke up he was cold. I tossed him outside. Strong [perhaps Pvt. Edwin J. Strong] asked me this morning what was going on last nite. I showed him the rat with the big hole in his back and he understood quite well what made the noise."

   When Paul passed away on 4 September 1990 in Danville, Illinois, we found neatly packed away in the family home 125 letters he wrote home to his mother and to the neighbor girl who after the war became his wife. We also found a diary kept during the year he was in France and almost 300 postcards which were sent home either individually or in envelopes. In addition, we have letters sent to him, negatives and prints taken at Camp Parker in Quincy, Illinois, and at Camp Logan in Houston, Texas, and maps he drew of both camps.

   You can read the letters and look at the pictures at Paul's website --

Thursday, June 7, 2012

80th Wedding Anniversary

The wedding photo. Maryan and Glenn, 1932
   Today, June 7, 2012, would have been my parents' 80th wedding anniversary.
   Glenn and Maryan (James) Gill managed to celebrate 66 years of marriage before my father passed away.
   I'm happy to say I still have my mother's wedding dress, but not that chic hat.

   As I mentioned in a previous post, the first person I was going to look for in the 1940 census was going to be me.
   Didn't take long, once I could actually get into the images. There I was with my parents and my mother's parents living at the Flat Iron Store, a country store near Perrysville, Indiana.
   My father had an advertising agency in Danville, Illinois, and my grandparents (John T and Lucinda (Carrigan) James) reported they were working 70 hours a week. I assume the store was open 7 days a week, 10 hours a day. In case you think I left the period off my grandfather's middle initial, I didn't. He didn't have a middle name. He made it up to differentiate himself from other John Jameses, a common name where he was born in England.

   My memories of the store and the six years we lived there are a little vague.
   I know we had some great summer picnics out in the yard and I have a painful memory of smashing my finger playing croquet at one of them. The remedy was soaking it in the ice water where the sodas were kept cold.
   Neighbors used to come into the store in the evenings and play euchre. I sat on my grandmother's lap as she played.

   A visual memory is sitting in the store in the dark with the only light from the dial of the radio as my grandfather listened to the Gillette Friday night fights. I assume it was during the war and always wondered if it was a war blackout or just saving money on electricity.
   There was a crank telephone on the wall that connected us to the party line. Our ring was three shorts and one long.
   The story my mother loved to tell was that my grandfather answered the phone when my dad called to announce my birth. She didn't really like saying the words grandpa shouted: "G** D***, it's a boy!"

Monday, May 14, 2012

Indexing the 1940 census

   I'm really enjoying indexing and arbitrating the 1940 census. Generally speaking, the work is pretty easy. Except when the census taker's handwriting gets wobbly or the spelling gets too creative.
   Some of the census takers really had good handwriting. I'd thank them on bended knee or kiss them on both cheeks if I could. I assume they were using fountain pens, but I recall that in 1951 when I was in sixth grade, we were required to write with "dip" pens. I hated them.
   Which brings up a question I've been wondering about. Are there any 1940 census takers still living? It's possible. If they were in their 20s in 1940, they could now be alive in their 90s. What an interesting story they could tell us.

   The following is how I index. I'm not saying you should do it my way, but if there are any ideas in the following that you think may help you then be my guest to try them.
   Four things I do before I start:

  • Set magnification to 100 percent. This is easier to me to read.
  • Adjust the highlights. I don't want to index a value into the wrong field. I go to the View menu and select Adjust Highlights. I find each corner of the highlights box with my mouse and click and drag them where they should be. Then turn Adjust Highlights off. I find the highlights are either very close or way off. If you want to read more, go to the User Guide, page 93.
  • If I'm indexing, I make seven of the columns narrower -- Line Number, Number of Household, Titles or Terms, Sex, Color or Race, Age and Marital Status. Easier for me.
  • If the handwriting is at all suspect, I try to remember to scan down the name field and say the names to myself. If I stumble on one, I start checking for those troublesome letter pairs like a and o, e and i, S and L, u and n and v and r.
   I get a kick out of some of the names that are in the "accepted" list and some that are not. For example, "Bigah" is in the accepted list but "Ed" isn't.
   Just because I've never seen the name, doesn't mean it isn't valid -- like Lenual.
   Then there are the ones that bring a chuckle, like the first name "C. Shell."
   And the ones you are suspicious about, like Olga, the name of a son.
   Generally speaking, I follow the census taker's entries "out the window," as we used to say in the newspaper editorial department about following copy regardless of what it says.
   But there is one exception to that rule. If the given name is a generally accepted female name and the relationship is Daughter, feel free to change the sex from M to F. And vice versa for a male name and relationship.

   I asked at the NGS 2012 conference about an alternative situation -- a female name, F in the sex field but Son in the relationship field. It was suggested in this kind of situation to follow the entry "out the window."
   I also asked about those names that are little more than blobs -- should you give it your best guess or use wildcards. The answer was less than certain, but leaned toward best guess unless the letters were completely obliterated.
   Back in the days of typewriters, you remember those clickety-clack devices, the golden rule was "Never Overstrike." I wish our census takers had had the rule "Never Overwrite."
   I've never really had a reason to use this idea, but there are two lines on each page for which additional information is entered at the bottom. The name is repeated on those lines and could help in a bad situation.

   I've been able to speed up my work by breaking some habits. 
  • Reaching for the shift key when you start a word. Unnecessary -- 99 percent of the time the first letter of the word is capitalized for you.
  • Using the tab key to go from field to field. This was a particular bugaboo for me since I would invariable hit the caps lock key instead. Enter does the same thing as tab and is on the opposite side of the keyboard.
   The prefills the indexing program offers are also a great time saver, with one caveat. I'm a touch typist of sorts and if I'm flying along only watching the census schedule area, I can get myself into trouble. I've arbitrated more than one batch where the indexer's previous "s" entry in the relationship field was "Son-In-Law" but the schedule said "Son." That's one field where I try to check myself.
   The other is the "city, town or village" field in the 1935 residence area. "Same House" and "Same Place" can look very much alike and the previous one pops up by typing "s." 
   By the way, you only have to type 3 letters to change from one to the other. When you get to "m" in Same, the entry changes and then you can press Enter to accept it.
   There is a down side to all these keyboard shortcuts that become habits. When you switch to another program, particularly a spreadsheet, it's a nightmare.  

   Lookup lists (Ctrl+f) are great for analyzing names, although not all valid names are in the list. It's also great for checking the form and spelling of relationships. I can generally remember that Grandson and Granddaughter are not hyphenated, but the " -In-Law" relationships, like "Mother-In-Law," are. The one I had earlier today I hadn't seen before, so off to the Lookup list to find "Half-Brother" and "Accept Selected."
   One last thing -- I don't agonize over arbitration rates. I hope you don't. If you see a really low one, look to see why. It  could be something as simple as entering a "W" repeatedly instead of "White" or adding the local county and state to "Same Place" instead of "<blank>."
   In one of my previous lives, I was a reporter and editor for a newspaper. On a newspaper, everyone gets edited from the executive editor on down. The writer does his best and the editor does his best and then it goes into print. And woe to the reporter who goes behind the scenes to change the copy back to the way he wrote. it. A great way to get fired.
   If we accept that indexers do their best and arbitrators do their best, there's no reason to ever get upset.

   What tips do you have for indexers or arbitrators?    

Saturday, May 12, 2012

NGS 2012 Day 4

   Home again!
   A fine fourth and final day at the National Genealogical Society's annual convention in Cincinnati and a relatively quick drive home.
   My schedule changed a bit from what I listed in yesterday's blog. There was so many great lectures to choose from it was hard to decide.

   The first of the day was "Trails West to the Ohio and Beyond" by Barbara Vines Little. I was fascinated by her insights on why and how my pioneer ancestors might have labored over the mountains and down the rivers to find new homes.
   The last lecture of the morning was the one that originally inspired me to attend the convention.
   Elizabeth Shown Mills spoke at the Kentucky Genealogical Society / Kentucky Historical Society annual seminar last year, describing her research techniques and how they applied to research cases. She promised then to be speaking at NGS 2012 about data management -- how to cope with all the information a researcher could gather by following all of the family, associates and neighbors.
   So this morning the topic was "Information Overload? Effective Project Planning, Research, Data Management and Analysis."
   The technique uses word processing templates to create research analyses and plans, research notes and then research reports. It would be a paradigm shift for me from the way I have been doing research over the past 45 years.
   But, you can't argue with success. Since most of my ancestral research now involves the tough, end-of-line. brick-wall ancestors, I think it's worth an honest test. It will take more time, but perhaps be more rewarding in the end.

   Kip Sperry was the speaker for a luncheon sponsored by FamilySearch.
   I was interested in some of the statistics he had about what was on the FamilySearch website -- 1,139 collections including 2.78-billion names. I was unaware that microfilming, the film we can now order through the FamilySearch website, started in 1938.
   Of course that microfilming has been replaced by digitization and the films in the granite mountain are being digitized. Sperry said there were an estimated 2.4-billion images in the vault at the mountain and 530 million had been digitized. The original estimate of finishing the task was 100 years, but currently they think they will be done in 4-5 years.
   My day concluded with the talk by Thomas W. Jones on "Solutions for Missing or Scarce Records." He emphasized that we need to acquire the knowledge and skills to know where to look for records that have survived and how to assemble the pieces. Jones discussed two case studies in which researchers were able to successfully build a case from fragmentary records.

   I hope I've picked up some knowledge and skills over the past four days to apply to my research. Perhaps with that knowledge and Mills' management system I can break through a few brick walls.
   This was my first national genealogical convention. Will I do it again? The next NGS convention will be in Las Vegas. I won't be there. I heard it will be in Virginia in 2014. That's not too far away. Maybe.