Tuesday, October 14, 2014

52 Ancestors: #39 William R. Sharp (1829 - ? after 1901 ?) - It's complicated

Climbing My Family Tree: Counties of New Brunswick
Counties of New Brunswick
William R. Sharp lived in Kings County, New Brunswick

This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

I originally wanted to write about William R. Sharp (1829-after 1901), my third great grand-uncle as an example of how researching those who surround the person I’m looking at can make all the pieces fall together, because I was so excited that they did here!

….then I did that proverbial one last look before starting to write this article and a spanner was thrown in the gears! Ack!

So I decided to show what goes through my head when I’m assessing the documentary evidence I find, before I what I know of William R. Sharp’s life at the end.

The first thing I became aware of is that there were a LOT of William Sharp’s in New Brunswick in the 1800’s so the “R” is important even though I don’t know what it stands for. My William R. Sharp was born January 19, 1829 as the youngest son (or possibly youngest surviving son) of my 4th great grandparents, William and Sarah [??] Sharp, and little brother of my 3rd great grandmother, Lydia [Sharp] Wilcox.

I first found William R in the 1852 New Brunswick Census (that some indexer massacred – if you’ve got anyone in it, ALWAYS click through to look at the original document; it’s vastly different than what the indexer recorded for everyone I’ve looked at so far), at age 23, living with his parents, Lydia’sdaughter Racheal Wilcox and his sisters Susan (27) and Charlott (20).

Climbing My Family Tree: Ancestry.com's Index of the 1852 Canadian Census for New Brunswick
Ancestry.com's Index of the 1852 Canadian Census for New Brunswick
The part circled in pink is inaccurate - it intermixes 2 families on facing pages. (Come on, Ancestry, fix the indexing!)
[I've submitted corrections for each person I've looked up in this census.]

Climbing My Family Tree: 1852 Canada Census - William R. Sharp
1852 Canada Census - William R. Sharp, actual page
(Note Abraham & Eliza Sharp in the top family, I'll be talking about them, too.)

I next found him at age 42 in the 1871 Canadian Census living with a ten year old boy, named Sylvester Sharp; probably his son,  although that Census does not ask about relationships of household members.  William R is listed as widowed.  He is living next door to his parents, William, 81 and Sarah, 78. Both men are farmers. An 11 year old boy named George Cripps is also recorded in WR’s household but may have been simply over to play with Sylvester as there is a Cripps family a few houses (2 pages) away.

In the 1881 Canadian Census he is 51 and married to 35 year old Mary Ann Sharp. Also in the household is 20 year old Ernest S. (Sylvester?) Sharp. The age is appropriate to be the 10 year old boy of the last Census, and, this time, he is designated as WR’s son.  Another person in the household is Leila A.V. Sharp, 13, four younger kids and WR’s widowed mother. 

I was now curious because Leila had not been in the household 10 years ago, although she would have been three. So I started taking a closer look at Leila A. V. Sharp and William R’s wife Mary Ann. I found a birth record for Leila A.V.  Sharp indicating that she had been born to Abram Sharp and Mary Ann Boyle (as it turns out, that should be Mary Ann Bogle).  The record was a late registration and was attested to in 1932 by a Gordon Sharp (He is William’s grandson through his son Charles Z. A,).

Having found that I turned to Daniel F Johnson's NewBrunswick Newspaper Vital Statistics at the Provincial Archives of NewBrunswick, which was an immense help, in looking up everyone in this cascading search. The newspapers showed that Abraham had been married to two of the Bogle sisters, sequentially. He married Eliza Jane Bogle (21) [identified in the marriage notice as Boyle, but in the death notice – with her father named as well – as Bogle] in 1863; she died two years later. Two years after that Abraham Sharp married Eliza Jane’s younger sister Mary Ann Bogle on February 27, 1867.  The 1871 Canadian census shows Mary Ann (25) married to Abraham Sharp (41) and Leila Sharp was three years old. I haven’t been able to find a death or divorce date for Abraham, but in the 1881 Canadian Census Mary Ann and Leila are living with William R and Mary Ann is listed as his wife. In the 1991 Census, William R & Mary Ann are still married [the census indexer says Mary Ann’s marital status is S- for single. I think the indexer misread the F- for female – as an “S” because the document clearly indicates she is the W (wife) of the head of household (William R)]. Leila still lives with them, as do nine sons ranging in age from 17 to 1. (I’ll list all of his children at the end.)

In looking over the censuses, I discovered that William R. grew up about four houses down from Abraham’s family (see the census page pictured above). They were the same age; I bet they were friends. Abraham had a younger sister named Eliza. She may have been WR’s first wife. In searching the newspaper database for articles about WR I found that on June 5, 1865, the Colonial Farmer (newspaper), Fredericton, York Co, New Brunswick, posted a death notice: “d. Studholm (Kings Co.) 27th March, age 2 years 9 mos., Eben Augustus s/o William R. and Eliza SHARP.”

 I could not find anything about William R after 1901. However, in the rest of her life (through about 1940 –when I lose her) Leila lives with one or the other of William R’s (& , I  thought, Mary Ann’s) sons listed as “sister”, most of the time with Charles Z.A., except in 1917 when she traveled to Germantown, PA to visit with “her brother, William Ray Sharp”. In the paperwork for the trip, she listed her half-brother Elbert as her closest relative.

Climbing My Family Tree: U.S. Record of Aliens Pre-examined in Canada, Leila Sharp 1917
U.S. Record of Aliens Pre-examined in Canada, Leila Sharp 1917

So what is the spanner in the works you ask? Well, in my last check of Daniel F Johnson's New Brunswick Newspaper Vital Statistics at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick just before sitting down to write this, I found a newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, dated 7 May 1873,  which announced a marriage: “m. At the Parsonage, Studholm (Kings Co.) Dec., by Rev. C.W. Dutcher, William R. () / Miss Mary Jane GRIGG, all of Studholm. (According to John R. Elliott's Kings County New Brunswick Marriages Register C & D page 60 - William R. SHARP (Studholm) & Mary Jane GRIGG (same place) lic. 5, Dec., 1872 - by C.W. Dutcher (Wes. Minister) - wit. A.J. SHARP & Mary A. SHARP dated at Millstream 10 Dec., 1872”.  Another, different, marriage for WR, witnessed by his friend A [braham]. J.  Sharp and his wife Mary Ann, no less!

It occurred to me that I should check to see if FamilySearch.org had anything helpful, as Ancestry.com did not (I looked).  After doing a search for Mary Grigg, on FamilySearch, the first thing I saw was a birth record for James Wilton Sharp, born September 13, 1873. The record said that his father was William R. Sharp and his mother was Mary Jane Grigg. On the other hand, the birth record itself, when I looked at the original document, is an attestation, made on May 1, ­1940, by Charles Z A Sharp, saying “I am his brother and have before me our Parent’s Family Bible record and it reads James Wilton Sharp born Sept 13th 1873 and this book was written in at the time of birth by my father. Our parents are both [?]” (See picture.} Notarized in the town of Sussex, County of Kings, Province of New Brunswick, the 1st day of May, 1940.

Climbing My Family Tree: Birth Record for James Wilton Sharp, 1873
Birth Record for James Wilton Sharp, 1873, attestation by  brother Charles in 1940

The problem here is that this attestation is, at best, hearsay, created 66 years after the event, and was attested to by a person who was not yet born at the time of James’ birth and who thus cannot have any independent recollection of the event. Charles was born six years after James. The attestation seems to imply, moreover, that Mary Jane Grigg, and not Mary Ann Bogle, is Charles’ mother as well.

I have not seen the family bible referred to by Charles Sharp, and I have no way of knowing if any records contained therein were truly kept contemporaneously, or if they are written clearly in a manner that forecloses upon any possible misinterpretation.

The only references to Mary Grigg in Ancestry.com I can find in New Brunswick are to a 6 year old child in 1851 (William was 23 then), and, all other, later references show a Mary married to a Grigg man, and list children with entirely different names than the ones that have been showing up with William R. This is not to say that the records I’m looking for don’t exist but that with a reasonably diligent current search I have not been able to find any such records; even so, it is possible that the length of the marriage occurred between censuses. In the next census Mary Ann is listed as William’s wife (& Leila is there).

I have observed in the documents my own family have left that children do not always know details regarding their parents’ lives and that stories get twisted and assumptions become accepted fact. Therefore, I will not accept as entirely credible the two birth records, attested to decades after the fact, without direct or circumstantial corroboration.

The only truly contemporaneous records I have before me are the census documents. While people have been known to lie to the government, it is rare that they remember a lie consistently over ten year intervals. Accordingly, for me, the most credible documentation in this case is the census records.

The second most credible would be the vital statistics index of the newspaper announcements, as the newspaper accounts are fairly contemporaneous, bearing in mind that any transcription includes the possibility of typographical or transcription errors, but it appears to be a trusted resources amongst family historians by what I found when I Googled it.

I also consider as credible evidence the contemporaneous travel records of Leila Sharp taken at border crossings (Manifest of Alien Passengers Applying for Admission, and a U.S. Record of Aliens Pre-Examined in Canada), and Voter’s Records (Canadian or U.S.) because they are business records kept in the regular course of business.

The credible evidence suggests the life of William R. Sharp is as follows:

William R. Sharp was born on January 19, 1829, as the youngest son (or possibly youngest surviving son) of my 4th great grandparents, William and Sarah [??] Sharp, and little brother of my 3rd great grandmother, Lydia [Sharp] Wilcox.

In 1852, he was 23 and living at home with his parents, probably helping to work the farm. Also at home, were his sisters Susan (27) and Charlott (20) and niece, Rachael Wilcox, recorded as age 11.

Sometime around 1860, he married a woman named Eliza (perhaps his friend Abraham J. Sharp’s younger sister? I don’t know, but they were neighbors as children and people frequently married neighbors back then), and had two sons, Ernest Sylvester Sharp (1861-? I lost him after 1881) and Eben Augustus (1862-1865). But by the 1871 Canadian Census, he was 42 and a widower, farming and living with his ten year old son Ernest Sylvester, next door to his parents. He indicated that he was of English origin and belonged to the Church of England.

On December 5, 1872, he married Mary Jane Grigg. His friend Abraham J Sharp and his wife Mary Ann were witnesses.  But by the time of the 1881 Canadian Census, William R. was married to Mary Ann (who had previously been married to Abraham J. Sharp and had one child, Leila Agnes V. Sharp, by him. Per the record of her marriage to Abraham, her maiden name is Bogle); her daughter Leila was living with them. He was a farmer. William R was listed as of Scotch descent and Mary Ann as of Irish descent; they were Wesleyan Methodists.

It is possible that four of William’s sons were born by Mary Jane Grigg, from the timing of the census and the attestation by Charles as to James’ birth. Mary Jane possibly died in childbirth of the fourth one or shortly thereafter, which could account for the quick marriage to Mary Ann as William would have needed someone to help him care for four children under seven, one an infant. William and Mary Jane’s children would be: James W., born September 13 1874 he moved to Alaska in 1891 and became a naturalized citizen of the U.S, in 1908); Frank Hedley, April 10, 1875 (he moved to Alaska in 1891, at age 16, and became a U.S. citizen in 1910); William, bn December 29, 1876 (he married a Massachusetts woman and moved to the states, eventually settling in CT.); and Charles Z. A., bn September 13, 1880 (he stayed in New Brunswick).

William R. and Mary Ann (Bogle Sharp) had five sons that I know of: the twins Auritus Lee, bn December 31, 1881 (he went by Lee -- & I don’t blame him! -- and moved to Saskatchewan, then back to New Brunswick) and Fred Irwin, bn. December 31, 1881 (he and his family lived in Saskatchewan; he died in 1955); Herbert Etsey, bn. February 3, 1836 (I lost him after 1901, age 15); Elbert, bn, February 26, 1888 (he stayed in New Brunswick); Iven, bn. April 19, 1890 at age 16 he moved to Alaska in 1906, became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1908).

Climbing My Family Tree: KIng's County New Brunswick Parishes
KIng's County New Brunswick Parishes: William R. Sharp lived in Studholm Parish

In 1891, William R. Sr. and Mary Ann were farming and living in Studholm, Kings Co., New Brunswick with all of the kids, except Ernest, and Iven, who was born later that year. They were all listed as Methodists. 

In 1901, William R. (72) and Mary Ann (55) were living and farming with Charles (21), Auritus Lee (19), Herbert (15), Elbert (13), and Ivan (10).  His son’s William R (24) and Fred (19), and Mary Ann’s daughter, Leila 33), lived and farmed next door. William says he is of English origin and Mary Ann is of Irish origin.

And that is the last I know of William R. Sharp. If anyone knows more and is willing to share, please contact me by leaving a comment or emailing me at the address on the Contact Me page.


I would like to know more of William R's childhood, when he died, and perhaps get a look at his will. If I could find more newspaper articles it would be great for allowing me to "see him" better. He's not direct line for me, but I'm still curious.


Canadian Census for 1852, 1871, 1881, 1891, and 1901.  The Daily Telegraph, 13 March 1863; The Religious Intelligencer, Saint John, dated 24 March 1865 The Religious Intelligencer, dated 15 March 1867; Colonial Farmer (newspaper), Fredrickton, York Co, New Brunswick, June 5, 1865; The Daily Telegraph, Saint John, St. John. New Brunswick, CA, 7  May 1873; U.S. Naturalization Records for William's sons.  images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-159378-649276-83?cc=1726660 : accessed 13 Oct 2014), 1866-1869 > Late registrations > 1866 (Atkinson)-1869 (Trites) > image 573 of 1161; citing Provincial Archives, Fredericton.. National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Manifests of Passengers Arriving at St. Albans, VT, District through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports, 1895-1954; National Archives Microfilm Publication: M1464; Roll: 347; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Record Group Number: 85. National Archives and Records Administration; Washington D.C.; Records of Aliens Pre-Examined at Saint John, New Brunswick, Prior to Admission at the U.S.-Canada Border, compiled ca. 1917 - ca. 1942; National Archives Microfilm Publication: A3450; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 - 2004; Record Group Number: 85. http://archives.gnb.ca/Search/NewspaperVitalStats/NameIndex.aspx?culture=en-CA; "New Brunswick, Provincial Returns of Births and Late Registrations, 1810-1906," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XTSG-CVR : accessed 14 Oct 2014), William R Sharp in entry for James Wilton Sharp, 13 Sep 1873; citing Mount Middleton, Kings, New Brunswick, certificate , Provincial Archives, Fredericton; FHL microfilm 1943962.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

52 Ancestors: #37 William (1789 - 1871) and #38 Sarah [??] (1793-1882) Sharp – Who They Aren’t

Climbing My Family Tree: Flag of New Brunswick
Flag of New Brunswick
This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

I don’t know all that much about who Lydia Sharp Wilcox's parents, William and Sarah Sharp, are yet, but I’m finding out more about who they aren’t.  Not too bad considering I just discovered them last week!

The Book of Wilcox (see Lydia’s story and the George Wilcox story for an explanation of the Book of Wilcox) said about Lydia: “Lydia Wilcox born September 17, 1810 in King County Province of New Brunswick, Canada, moved to Ontario November 1849, removed to Michigan March 1856. Maiden name Lydia Sharpf, mar’d November 1833. (Emphasis added.)” A little further down on the same page, William D. Wilcox describes Lydia as “a typical short, squat Dutchwoman” but Lydia was not a Sharpf, and she was not Dutch.  They may have inserted of the ‘f’ at the end of Sharp because of their perception that she was Dutch.

I first discovered Lydia’s parents when looking for the daughter the Book of Wilcox said she and Simon left behind in New Brunswick with Lydia’s parents when the rest of the family moved to the portion of the unified province of Canada (Canada West) directly above Lake Erie.  The New Brunswick portion 1851 (taken in 1852) Census of Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia on Ancestry.com is improperly indexed (the indexer intermixed different families on opposing pages into one)– you MUST click through to look at the original document to see who is in a family grouping. I found Lydia’s daughter, Rachael Wilcox, in Studholm, Kings County, New Brunswick, listed as “GD [granddaughter]” to the head of household, William Sharp (61) and his wife Sarah (58). William indicates he is of English descent, and is a farmer. Also living at home with them are their children: Susan (27), William R. (22), and Charlott (20).

Climbing My Family Tree: Wm & Sarah Sharp -1852 New Brunswick Census
Wm & Sarah Sharp -1852 New Brunswick Census

I next found William and Sarah in the 1871 Census of Canada, in the parish of Studholm, Kings County, New Brunswick. William was 81 and Sarah was 78. William was a farmer. He indicates he is of English origin and Sarah is of Irish origin. They both belong to the Church of England. [Definitely not Dutch.]

In the 1881 Census I found Sarah, 88, living with her son, William R.’s family, where, the census taker indicates he is Scotch and his mother is German. Sarah is still shown as a member of the Church of England, while her son’s family is Wesleyan Methodism. (I’m not going into a lot of detail about William R. because I’ll be posting about him, #39, later this week, as an example of finding details about a person by searching collateral members of his family. [Still trying to catch up on the 52 Ancestors challenge – this should be Week 41; I’m gaining on it.]). Sarah was listed as a widow.

Knowing that William had died before 1881, I started trying to find when he died. Fortunately, the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick has a searchable database of those people buried in the cemeteries in New Brunswick, including those old ones no longer in use. Via that database I found that he had died just a few months after the last Census, at age 82, on October 18, 1871, and was buried at the Church of the Ascension cemetery in Apohaqui,  Kings County New Brunswick. Sarah was also buried there after she died on December 25, 1882, at age 89.  Knowing their ages at death and their death dates gave be approximate birth years for William (1789) and Sarah (1793). Also in that cemetery were a few other Sharps that other that Trees on FamilySearch have included as William and Sarah’s adult children, two of whom where daughters that the Provincial Archives indicates were married to the same man (hopefully sequentially) who also had the surname Sharp – I have seen another woman sequentially marrying two Sharps of different families in my research (not helpful, guys!) so I was aware there was another Sharp family in the area.. I have included them in my tree but with a picture that indicates that I am not sure they belong there (if I don’t find another connection I’ll be taking them off the tree).

Sarah and William’s children are as follows (the ones marked with an asterisk are children only mentioned in other Trees, to my current knowledge: Lydia Sharp (1810-1893; Mary Sharp* (1812-1854); Elizabeth Sharp* (1814-1883; Jacob Sharp* (1816 - ?); Bathseba Sharp* (1817-1862); Julia Sharp* (1822-1900); Susen Sharp (1825 - ?); William R. Sharp (1829  - ?) Charlott Sharp  (1831 - ?)

Next I searched the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick to see if they had anything else on the Sharps of New Brunswick, and they did! An annotated monograph of The Sharp Family of New Brunswick! So I excitedly printed it out to read a lunch at work. Sigh. They aren’t our Sharps – they live in a different county in New Brunswick, descend from Alexander Sharp of Edinburgh Scotland, by way of New Jersey, and they have entirely different names repeating in their tree than we do in ours or than were in our Sharp branch.  The two counties were 235 kilometers (about 146 miles) apart, which was a huge difference in the 19th century.  [As an illustration, the Pony Express had a route about 232 KM long from Halifax to Victoria Beach, Nova Scotia in the mid-19th century that they rode, nonstop, changing to fresh horses every 19 KM (about 12 miles), and changing riders halfway through the trip. It took a minimum of eight hours.]   Sigh. So at least I know who they aren’t (too bad, that family had some fascinating stories).

Climbing My Family Tree: The Pony Express
The Pony Express

Ours will be equally fascinating when I find them. I have found pedigree charts on FamilySearch.org that purport to take our Sharps back to the 1600’s. It gives Sarah a last name, too, but I have been unable to find it so far, on my own in any credible source.  There are other pedigrees on line that purport to be of our family that vary in certain was from those at FamilySearch. I’m going to explore the information in the pedigrees charts and personal pages, and see if I can find documentation to attach my people to theirs and to confirm them. If this is our family, during the Revolutionary war we were Loyalists who, after the war were among those offered free land by the British in New Brunswick and moved en masse (about 33,000 people).  It will be interesting to see if I can make the connection.

If you know any more and would be willing to share, I would be so grateful. Please leave a comment or send me an email at the address in my Contact Me page.

There’s a whole lot more I’d like to know about William and Sarah:
Sarah’s maiden name
Their marriage record
Anything about their life before 1851
Whether the asterisked kids ae really their’s
I want to check land and probate records
Who their parents were
Basically as much as I can find out.

Friday, October 3, 2014

52 Ancestors: # 35 Simon (1809-1904) Wilcox and #36 Lydia Sharp/Sharpf (1810-1893) Wilcox -- in which I disagree with The Book of Wilcox

Climbing My Family Tree: Death Certificate of Simon Wilcox
Death Certificate of Simon Wilcox

This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

As I mentioned in last week’s post about George & MaryJane (Currier) Wilcox, I have a copy of “The Book of Wilcox” [typed pages stapled together], sent to me by my grandfather Owen Carl Henn which states it is “copied from a paper prepared by Laoma Sanford in 1971” and that it traces my Wilcox family branch back to Simon’s father, who it says is Mortimore Willcock. It also includes some family stories and some descent charts. Unlike some of the written family stories or trees passed down in my family, this one does cite its sources: “1. a psalter printed in London in 1822, with dates recorded by Simon Willcock (now in the possession of William D. Wilcox; 2. Family Bible of William R. Wilcox, copied by Mrs. Floyd Wilcox (whereabouts unknown); 3. Family Bible of George B. Wilcox (in possession of Mrs. Hazel (Henn) McArthur); 4. Family Bible of Charles H. Wilcox (now in possession of Mrs. Pearl Chamber).” I have no idea where those family Bibles & psalter, or the referenced copies thereof, are now and have never seen them. The Book of Wilcox also refers to obituaries and oral recollections collected by Ms. Sanford, and she notes some discrepancies between her sources, most of which are in regard to Simon Wilcox’s birth. And what little I’ve found in regard to his birth contradicts all of those contradictions as well.

Climbing My Family Tree: My copy of the Book of Wilcox - sent to me by my grandfather
My copy of the Book of Wilcox
 sent to me by my grandfather probably 30 years ago
My Dad's name is redacted as I promised not to name the living in my blog

Like with all research done by someone else, I keep an open mind and try not to rely on it too much as family stories twist over the years, and details get lost, and others get grafted on – particularly the further back from the writer’s generation one goes. I discovered that initially in researching my Mom’s side of the family, and I re-discovered it in comparing my research to some of the documents that have come down through my Dad’s side of the family, including Lucille Robson Henn’s book Members of the Flock (some small details and some large, some I haven’t posted about, and some I have, see my post on Andrew Henn.) In researching Simon Wilcox, and, necessarily, his parents, I think I’ve come across another one of those places where my research is going to diverge rather sharply from the accepted norm in the family set by the Book of Wilcox, but more at the level of Simon’s father, than Simon, and this entry is [mostly] about Simon and Lydia. (And it figures that the major break came after I’d thought I’d written 99% of this entry, and had started to consider pictures/illustrations, and I was just doing one more check on one detail, lol. )

The Book of Wilcox states that Simon was born on April 12, 1809. It includes a transcription of an obituary, found in the George Wilcox Bible, (that I haven’t found otherwise yet), which states that Simon was born on that date in Maine, subsequently moved to New Brunswick. In the Book of Wilcox, Laoma Sanford also states her father (William D. Wilcox), told her that Simon was born in Ireland but ran away from home and came over on a cattle boat as “a young lad.”

The claim that Simon was born in Maine in 1809 is problematic in that Maine did not separate from Massachusetts and attain separate statehood until after the War of 1812, finally becoming an official separate state on March 15, 1820.  I have not been able to find a birth record yet, anywhere, for Simon, but on the 1851 Census of Canada East & Canada West and the U.S. Censuses of 1860 and 1870, Simon reported that he was born in New Brunswick (before the country of Canada was created).  The Maine/New Brunswick confusion could have its roots in the ongoing border disputes between Great Britain’s border claims for what became New Brunswick  (at one point that area was almost called New Ireland) and the United States. The final border was settled on in 1842, but the map below showing the various claimed borders and disputed land shows for several years a substantial chunk of land was claimed by each country. If Simon was born in a place that was part of the disputed lands, later ceded to Maine, it could explain why he stated he was born in New Brunswick most of his life and at the end of it his obituary reported that he was born in Maine.

Climbing My Family Tree: Disputed borders between New Brunswick and Maine to 1842, when settled
Disputed borders between New Brunswick and Maine to 1842, when settled.
By User:Magicpiano [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve not found anything yet to support the claim that Simon was born in Ireland and came over on a cattle boat as a “young lad”, but I may be poring over ship’s passenger lists at Olive Tree Genealogy  in the future to see if I can substantiate it, if my most recent possible breakthrough doesn’t pan out.

The Book of Wilcox states that, according to information written in the psalter by Simon, Lydia Sharpf Wilcox was born September 17, 1810 in King County in the province of New Brunswick, and that she and Simon Wilcox married in 1833 in that province. It does not name her parents.

Simon and Lydia had eight children while they lived in New Brunswick, three of whom died within two years of birth (birth dates courtesy of the Book of Wilcox, The ones I’ve marked with an asterisk I’ve not yet found anywhere else but in the Book of Wilcox):  Eleda Wilcox Campbell (August 24, 1834 –December 16, 1868); William Robert Wilcox (November 27, 1835 – June 5, 1924); Rachel Wilcox (August 12, 1837 - ?); George E. Wilcox* (June 12, 1839 – June 21, 1839); George Butler Wilcox(October 9, 1840 – March 19, 1928); Abner M. Wilcox (September 10, 1843 – January 1, 1917); Amanda Wilcox* (December 20, 1845 – October 24, 1847) and Mortimore N. Wilcox* (November 14, 1848 – April 28, 1850).

In 1849, Simon and Lydia left New Brunswick with most of their family. But, the Book of Wilcox indicates that they left their daughter Rachael in New Brunswick with the Sharps, but does not name them. The 1852 New Brunswick Census shows Rachael Wilcox, 11 years old (should have been 14),  living in Kings County, New Brunswick in the household of her grandparents, William (61) and Sarah (58) Sharp, and their children: Susan (27), William R. (22), and Charlott (20).  I wonder why Rachael was left behind?

In the years leading up to the 1840’s New Brunswick was heavily protestant, but since the start of the potato famine in Ireland, there had been a large influx of Irish Catholics, and a corresponding increase of Orange-Catholic tensions (the Orange Society was a community organization and fraternal order of Protestants in the Provinces), which culminated in riots in 1847 in Woodstock, New Brunswick, and another larger riot, in 1849,  involving a 1000 people  in St. John, New Brunswick, in which 12 people died. In the Book of Wilcox, Simon’s grandson recalled that Simon marched in the Orangeman’s parade every July 12 in Marlette, MI, as long as he was able, & wore orange on St. Patrick’s Day. It is possible that he and Lydia felt this rise in tension between the two religious factions endangered his family which may have encouraged them to move their family to a safer area, where other Free Will Baptists were moving to in droves.

Climbing  Family Tree: Map showing Oxford County in (now Ontario) Canada
Map showing Oxford County in (now Ontario) Canada
By Vidioman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Simon and Lydia moved, in 1849, with the rest of their family, to Blenheim, Oxford County in the unified province of Canada (in what later became the section of Ontario just above Lake Erie). A history of Oxford County, by Thomas S. Shenston, published in 1852, described Blenheim, as one of the three largest townships in the county. It was “good land and well timbered, and the best watered of any township in the county…”  It was the first settled but was not much improved until the mid-19th century, when it made rapid progress. It was during this period that the Free Will Baptist evangelists came to Oxford County, and a Free Will Baptist church was organized in Blenheim Township. While a large number of them came from the United States, a significant portion also came from the Maritime Provinces. At first the family lived in a shanty (see George’s story for a picture. Simon and his oldest son William worked as coopers, according to the 1851 Canadian Census (taken in 1852). The census does not list an occupation for George (12) or say that he was in school; Abner (9) was in school, and baby Charles was less than a year old. During the period they lived in Blenheim, three more children were born to Lydia and Simon (birth dates supplied by the Book of Wilcox): Charles Harding Wilcox (August 9, 1851 – June 27, 1933); Jane Wilcox (August 25, 1853 – September 17, 1860) and Simon U. Wilcox* (December 20 1846 --??).

But Blenheim turned out to be just a way stop on their journey and Simon & Lydia and part of the rest of the family moved on to Michigan, where tall trees and fertile farmland beckoned. In the 1900 U.S. Census, Simon stated that he entered the U.S. in 1856. The earliest record of him I’ve found so far is the 1860 Census, which shows Simon and Lydia, William, Abner, Charles, and Jane living in Rutland Michigan  (in Barry County). Simon farmed, on property he valued at $1200, and maintained a cooperage as well. [Eleda had married Jabez Campbell in 1851 in Canada, and they later moved to Michigan as well; Jabez moved the family next door to Simon & Lydia after Eleda died.] By 1870, Simon and Lydia and their youngest son, Charles, lived in in Burnside MI in Lapeer County. At age 62, Simon was working as farm labor, while Lydia kept house, and Charles (18) was at home. Simon indicated that he was a citizen of the United States. In the 1880 Census, Simon  said her was a farmer; he was 71 & Lydia was 70. The census shows that they are living with their son, Charles (28), his wife Ida (21), and their infant son Melvin.

There is no copy of the 1890 Census as most copies were destroyed in a fire in the Commerce Building in Washington, DC.

Lydia (Sharp) Wilcox died in January 1894 at the age of 92.

On June 20, 1900, when the census was taken, Simon (91) was a retired farmer, living in the home of his son, George, a farmer; but in this census he indicates that he is not a citizen.  Also in the household were George, 58; his wife, Mary Jane, 57, their son Arthur (22), daughter Mertil (17), son Russell, 17; and daughter Ethel (15.). 

Simon died four years later on August 10, 1904 at the age of 95, in the home of his son George. The death certificate stated Simon died of “senile delability”; it also indicated that his father was Robert Wilcox, not Mortimore as the Book of Wilcox states.

I had not been able to find anything on Mortimore Willcocks/Wilcox after several weeks of searching, and had decided just to wait until my next pass through the family to try more vigorously. But tonight, as I was finishing up this post, I tried searching Robert Wilcox, the father listed on Simon’s death certificate. I found a Robert Wilcox, approximately 23 years older than Simon, born in New Brunswick, and later living in Blenheim Township,Oxford County, in the Unified province of Canada, at the same time Simon is there. Robert was a Free Will Baptist and worked as a Cooper  in Blenheim; his wife, Jane, was too young to be Simon's mother but may be a second wife.  later Robert and his wife lived in Sanilac County Michigan (which is adjacent to Lapeer County where Simon lived). To me, this looks like there is a strong possibility that Robert is Simon’s father. This idea is reinforced, to my mind, by the name of Simon’s oldest son William Robert Wilcox – was he named for both of his grandfathers? I will be looking to follow this trail further in the future and see where it leads.

 Simon was survived, according to the obituary by his four sons, William and George of Burnside Township, Abner of Berrian County (sic), and Charles of Marlette, Michigan, and one sister, Mrs. John Smith of Port Huron, Michigan.

Climbing My Family Tree: The 4 sons of Simon and Lydia Wilcox (William, Charles, Abner & George)
The 4 sons of Simon and Lydia Wilcox (William, Charles Harding, Abner & George)
Found on an Ancestry.com tree and used with permission of Kerry Rose

If anyone has any information they would like to share with me on my Wilcox or Sharp families, I'd love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below or email me at the address on my Contact Me page.

Edit: I just realized I never said how Simon and Lydia were related to me. They are my third great-grandparents. My grandfather's (Owen Carl Henn), mother's paternal grandparents. The descent is Simon and Lydia (Sharp) Wilcox, to George Butler Wilcox (m. Mary Jane Currier)  to Myrtie Mabel Wilcox (m. Owen James Henn) to my paternal grandpa Owen Carl Henn (m. Anna Mae Bennett) to my father, then me!

I’m missing George and Lydia’s entire childhood. I’d like to find more about that, for both of them.
 I’d like to fink a marriage record for them.
I need to look further into the possibility that Robert Wilcox is Simon’s father, and trying to find out who his parents are.
I want to check property, probate, and naturalization records for all.

Death Certificate of Simion Wilcox. 1851; Census Place: Blenheim, Oxford County, Canada West (Ontario); Schedule: A; Roll: C_11745; Page: 17; Line: 4 (1851 Census of Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia ). U.S. Censuses for 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1900. The Book of Wilcox by Laoma Sanford (1971); The Oxford Gazetteer: Containing an Abstract of Each Census of the County of Oxford, and the Townships Comprising it, by Thomas S. Shenston (Hamilton, C.W. by Chatterton & Helliwell. 1852.)[Found as a Google e-book at https://play.google.com/books/reader?printsec=frontcover&output=reader&id=fQ8lAAAAMAAJ&pg=GBS.PA1 ]; Pioneer Baptist Work in Oxford County, by Zella Hotson, found atwww.ourroots.cahttp://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~canon/research-topic-church-religion.html; History of New Brunswick. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_New_Brunswick; Historical News section of the website of the Irish Canadian Cultural Association of New Brunswick, http://www.newirelandnb.ca/Stories/Historical-News-Introduction.html ; http://new-brunswick.net/Saint_John/enter.html ;

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

Happy 1st Blogiversary to Me!
photo credit:by puffclinty via photopin cc

My first post on this blog was on September 20, 2013. Since then I have made 70 posts; so while it’s not daily, I averaged a bit over once a week (with a hiatus from mid- June to mid- July 2014 while I packed, moved, and unpacked). Well, it was more than once a week until I started the 52 Ancestors series, but since I am a beginning family historian as well as a beginning blogger, I am researching each Ancestor I profile in the week before the post goes up (& not getting a lot of sleep as a result!). But I am so glad I chose to do the 52 Ancestors challenge, even as a beginner because it has pushed me to post each week, pushed me to do more research and utilize more and more sources and pushed me to learn the context of my ancestors’ lives so as to be able to tell a better story.

Blogger provides very interesting statistics on the blog that I can look at set for a day’s capture, a week’s, a month’s, and “all time” – which is one year now! I find these stats fascinating so I thought I would share them with you as a way of celebrating my blogiversary.

While I initially thought this blog would be read, if at all, only by my family, I admit I’ve done everything I can to promote each post. I’ve made the blog searchable, and have loaded each post with specifically chosen search terms, and each picture uploaded is titled with the ‘name of what it’s about.jpg’ so they are searchable that way too & label them so that they always show up linked to my blog name (I see my blog pictures in Google images – too cool!). I put ways to subscribe to my blog on it, ways to share it, and a couple ways to search it to make it easy for readers to find their way around it and to come back and read more.  And after I put up each post, I then post it to Facebook so my family can see it, and to Google+, and to Pinterest, and to Twitter to try to draw readers in general and find possibly find new-to-me “cousins” that might want to share family information,  maybe become friends (yep – it’s cousin-bait!). I also gained readers from those following the blogs doing the 52 Ancestors challenge.  I know that I am reaching more people than just my family because according to Blogger I’ve had 9716 page views this year! Even if my family were reading this, they don’t add up to 9000+ page views! Wow!

Blogger also shows me where in the world my audience this past year lives (or at least where they were reading me from):

Climbing My Family Tree: 1st year audience Blogger Stats screenshot
Screenshot of Blogger page showing origins of my audience this 1st year

I am not at all surprised that my biggest audience is from the United States. But I am drop dead astonished that my second biggest audience is in Turkey??!  Thank you very much, but why?! The next eight countries (countries, wow!) in my audience are: Germany, France, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Canada, Russia, and Spain (this week I had two from Japan, too!). While I know that some of those are folks who just landed on the page by accident; some stayed and read, and some came back. I thank every one of you who has read or now reads this blog! (For an anniversary present, would you please say “Hi” in the comments if you read this? I’d like to “see” you.)

The top ten all time most viewed, or read, posts this year have been:

It’s too hard to choose my own favorite posts. I love all of them for different reasons. I love the research on the person, and the side research to put them in a bit of context, the writing, and, surprisingly, I really like finding just the right pictures to helpfully illustrate my stories -- although I admit I never imagined I’d have to research French, German, and Canadian copyright law to pick pictures for my blog posts! (Ack!)

But the absolute best thing about the genealogy research and the blog is meeting new friends and “cousins”. The other bloggers I read and comment on have been ever so nice, and have helped me improve my blog or find something I couldn’t (still so grateful Dara found my grandparent’s marriage record) or tell me where to look for something, and just plain encouraged me. And then there are the people I’ve met online, who read my blog or saw my Ancestry.com tree, who I discovered I’m related to in various ways  and who are so nice and encouraging to a newbie, and to whom I’m so grateful for all their help: Jimmie F. gave me the photos of John Erwin and Crawford Erwin and told me stories about the Erwin brothers in the Civil War; Deb G. who just sent me a whole bunch of information and photos on the Erwin’s, especially on a part of the branch that I’d stalled out on; Jeff H. who gave me information for far further up my Hartman branch than I’d been able to nail down; Gary McC who gave me a picture of my great-aunt Etta Genora Hartman Archer after she moved to Oklahoma; Pam B. who sent me a whole book on the Whonsetler/Wonsetler/Wonsidler/Vonsidler Branch (wife of Samuel T. Hartman) and friended me on Facebook [& I had a terrific time meeting her and her husband at the Battle of Johnstown re-enactment last weekend]; Teeny I & Susan S-D who sent me a whole bunch of photos of the Bailey’s and of the Snyder’s – turned out Teeny is Mom’s 1st cousin and she’s told me all sorts of stories about the Snyder’s, and about the Bailey’s, and they both friended me on Facebook; Roger B. who told me how to find Edward Carleton Bailey’s death certificate; Bob T. who gave me all sorts of information from his research into the Henn family and answered questions and gave me permission to use Rosa Henn Strauss’ gravestone picture via email while on vacation in Germany(!); and Kerry R who gave me permission to use the pictures from his Ancestry.com tree of the Wilcox family on my blog posts.

photo credit: woodleywonderworks via photopin cc

The hardest part about getting all this lovely helpful material is that each time I get something (the most recent is the information Deb sent), I really want to forsake my current research and dive back into the section to which the new information applies. But when I took on the 52 Ancestors Challenge I did it with the intention of trying to cover representatives of my whole family (the branches up from each grandparent) in this year. Just doing basics, and when it gets hard or complicated, moving on to the next branch, with the understanding that I’d come back to everyone after the Challenge was over. And I told my family I was going to do that, and my Dad has been patiently waiting while I covered Mom’s side of the family and I also want to finish the Challenge with his side of the family before going back and playing with all these lovely gifts I’ve been sent by new-to-me cousins. So I’m going to finish it first.

What do I plan to do in the next year of my blog? Catch up with (I’m 5 behind) and finish the 52 Ancestors challenge. Then starting in January the flavor of the blog will probably change a bit. I don’t intend to do an Ancestor profile a week – maybe one or two a month – as I would like to catch up on my sleep. I’ve gotten very little sleep this year doing this project (you have to realize, even beyond the original research each week, and the finding of illustrations, I only type using two fingers and a thumb on one hand -- it’s not the fastest method in the world [at work I talk to the computer and it types]). I’d also like to read the occasional book. I miss it. J

Even so, I’ll probably actually post more often, albeit shorter posts: following some of GeneaBloggers' Thomas MacEntee’s blogging prompts and shorter piece descriptions of what I’m doing & finding. I also need to update the supporting pages of my blog, especially the favorite blogs and Resources page (I have so many bookmarked pages for Canada, it might get its own Resource page - although I haven't quite decided yet). I intend to start going back through the tree, trying to incorporate what I’ve been sent, and trying to push each branch a bit further back, and blog about that, too. Plus occasional ancestor bios/Ancestor Highlights. I like blogging. It helps me see what I have found – I like seeing it as a story and not just lists of documents. And I really like making new friends via the internet - for an introvert like me who finds it difficult sometimes to talk to new people or call anyone, the internet is a perfect venue (believe it or not, in real life, I’m sort of quiet …until I get to know you). You'd never guess from the length of these posts or my emails, would you?

Thank you for reading my blog this last year, and to those of you who have helped me, G+’d a post, Shared a post, Pinned a post, or Retweeted me, thank you ever so much! It’s been lots of fun! Hope you stay around for next year.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

52 Ancestors: #33 George Butler Wilcox and #34 Mary Jane (Currier) Wilcox

Climbing My Family Tree: Mary Jane (Currier) & George Butler Wilcox 65th Wedding Anniversary
Mary Jane (Currier) & George Butler Wilcox 65th Wedding Anniversary, from The a clipping from The Daily Press (don't know where) , date handwritten on clipping 3-14-27

This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

George Butler and Mary Jane (Currier) Wilcox are my second great grandparents on my Dad’s side. They would be my Grandpa Henn’s mother’s parents. I don’t have as much information on them as I had on the Henn’s at this level (who would be John and Elizabeth [O’Brien] Henn).  I do have a copy my grandfather Owen Carl Henn sent me (& another sent to me by my Dad when I started this) of “The Book of Wilcox” [old hand typed pages stapled together] which states it is “copied from a paper prepared by Laoma Sanford in 1971”, which traces my Wilcox family back to George’s grandfather, Mortemore Willcock, through his only son, Simon; it includes some family stories and some descent charts. This document does cite its sources: “1. a psalter printed in London in 1822, with dates recorded by Simon Willcock (now in the possession of William D. Wilcox; 2. Family Bible of William R. Wilcox, copied by Mrs. Floyd Wilcox (whereabouts unknown); 3. Family Bible of George B. Wilcox (in possession of Mrs. Hazel (Henn) McArthur); 4. Family Bible of Charles H. Wilcox (now in possession of Mrs. Pearl Chamber).” [I have no idea where those family Bibles & psalter, or the referenced copies thereof, are now and have never seen them.] The Book of Wilcox also refers to obituaries and oral recollections collected by Ms. Sanford, and she notes some discrepancies between her sources, which I will discuss at the appropriate time as there are also some discrepancies between The Book of Wilcox and the records I’ve found so far too (but more so with Simon Wilcox, who I’ll post about next week).

George Wilcox and Mary Currier were born in what is now Canada.  Now for a (VERY) short and bloodless ( – which it wasn’t) capsulation of the history of Canada. The area on the map that we call Canada today wasn’t yet a whole country when they were born, but instead were individual colonies. At the time of their birth, the original British and French colonies had all been British possessions for about 80 years. By the early 1800’s, the colonies consisted of English Speaking Upper Canada, French speaking Lower Canada, New Brunswick, &  Nova Scotia. In 1840, Upper Canada (so called because it was contained the headwaters of the St. Lawrence River, now Ontario) and Lower Canada (so named because it was further down on the St. Lawrence River, now Quebec) were unified into one Province of Canada, and then on July 1, 1867, the Canadian Confederation was created forming the basis of the Canada we know today, initially with four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.  It was still part of Britain’s United Kingdom. It expanded to include the Northwest Territories and the Province of Manitoba by mid- 1870; the province of British Columbia and Vancouver Island joined the confederation in 1871 and Prince Edward Island joined in 1873. The Yukon Territory was created in 1898. Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces in 1905. Newfoundland and Labrador joined as Newfoundland in 1949 (the name was changed in 2001 back to Newfoundland and Labrador). The Nunavut Territories were separated from The Northwest Territories in 1999. In 1931 Britain granted Canada full independence in most matters and in 1982 the Canada act made Canada completely its own sovereign independent country. Canada is now a federal parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy. Queen Elizabeth remains Queen and Head of State of Canada but in a way that is separate from her role as British Monarch. [This is a bit more than we need to know right now but once I started it seemed I should cover the history to the country's independence.  I’m sure that if I got any of this wrong my Canadian friends will correct me & I’ll edit accordingly then.]

I haven’t been able to find a birth record for either George or Mary, yet, but the Book of Wilcox gave me the birth dates and in two of the early Canadian censuses both say they were born in New Brunswick, during the period when it was still a separate colony. George Butler Wilcox was born to Simon and Lydia (Sharp) Wilcox on or about October 9, 1840; he was their fifth child and third son (2nd living son). Mary Jane Currier was born on or about April 21, 1843 to George & Unice Phebe (Curry/Currey/Currie) Currier; she was the oldest of five children.  

George Wilcox’s family had moved to the township of Blenheim in Oxford County, Canada West (when Upper and Lower Canada unified the census began referring to Ontario as Canada West) by the time of the 1851 Census – which was taken in 1852. George was 12. His father & older brother were coopers. The census indicates that the family lived in a shanty. A shanty was a temporary pine or spruce log home built when settlers first arrived in an area, where the family lived until the farmer could build a more permanent home usually within 2-3 years after settlement. The simple structure could be built by two men in a couple days and generally was about 300 square feet, about eight logs (feet) tall, and consisted of one to three rooms. The structure would have been roofed with shingles with a chimney cut in the center.

Climbing My Family Tree: Typical Ontario Shanty in Winter
Typical Ontario Shanty in Winter

Climbing My Family Tree: Typical Ontario Shanty in Summer
Typical Ontario Shanty in Summer

The census also indicated that the family were Free Will Baptists. The Baptists constituted about a third of the population of New Brunswick and in the early 19th century began to move westward in Canada, planting churches. They never became more than 2 or 4% of the population in most of Canada, except for in the area just above Lake Erie to which George Wilcox’s family had moved.

The 1861 Census found George (under the name George Wilcock) living separately from his family and working as a laborer in Blenheim Township. The entry says he was born in New Brunswick, and is 21 (which is what he would have been in 1861), and is Baptist, albeit “Christian Conference Baptist” this time (I don’t know what is the difference between Free Will Baptist and Christian Conference Baptist), so I think it is the correct George Wilcox, even if the census taker did spell his name differently, since he lives in the same township the family was in nine years before.

I wonder if he knew or was courting Mary Jane Currier yet. Her family had moved there from New Brunswick by at least 1854. I haven’t found her in any census before 1861, but according to the 1861 Canadian census her family was living in the Township of Blenheim in Oxford County, West Canada (Ontario) and they were Christian Conference Baptist. Mary was 18, and living at home. Her father was a farmer. The census indicates that they were living in a one-story, single family frame house that was built in 1854. They may have lived there before that in some other dwelling, but we know by this census that they were there at least by 1854.

George and Mary married on March 14, 1862. George and Mary told a newspaper reporter on the occasion of their 65th wedding anniversary celebration that they were married in Drumbo, Ontario, but the index of the Ontario Canada record of their marriage I found on Anestry.com (which has all sorts of other details wrong, so why not one more) says that they were married in Paris, in the county of Brant, Canada West. (According to Google Maps Drumbo & Paris are about 17 km [10 miles] apart.) I don’t know whether the official record is wrong, or perhaps that’s just where the license was filed. However, the index of the record also lists Mary as Mary Carrier (not Currier), and her parents as George Carrier (a mistake in last name that is made on other records) and Eunice [no last name given]. It lists George Wilcox as George Wilson and his parents as Simon Welery and Lydia Sharp. On the other hand, it correctly lists the bride and groom as residing in Blenheim Township, that they were both born in New Brunswick, lists their ages correctly, and gives the correct maiden name for George’s mother, the correct marriage date, and the correct first name for everyone involved. So overall, I believe that it was meant to be the record, but either the record recorder or the indexer was terrible with names (the original is not available for me to view so I can’t tell if it was the recorder or the indexer for Ancestry.com. I will note that the same record’s indexed entry on FamilySearch.org still shows the marriage in Brant, Ontario, Mary’s & her father’s last name as Carrier  & George’s last name as Wilson, but correctly lists his father’s last name as Wilcox. It also correctly spells Mary’s mother’s name without the E in front of the U in Unice. – Again the original document is not available to view.)

At some point in the next five years the couple immigrated to the United States to live in Michigan. In later U.S Censuses George variously says he arrived in 1849 (he would have been 9, we can discount that one based on the above information), 1866 and 1867, and Mary variously reports that she arrived in 1863, 1866, and 1867. I think that 1866 or 1867 is more plausible as it makes no sense to emigrate in the middle of a war (the Civil War) you might be called up to serve in while still a newlywed, and in the 1894 Michigan Census George reports that he did not serve in the Civil War. Moreover, the U.S. Censuses show that George and Mary’s first three children were born in Canada, and the third was born in 1867. In the book of family remembrances written by Lucille Henn Robson, Members of the Flock, she says that George Wilcox purchased the farm, located one mile south of Burnside MI & one-half mile east of it, in 1867 from a lumber company. She notes that George and Mary were married in Drumbo Canada, (but she also states that their first two children were born there and that both George and Mary were from Nova Scotia, which is not correct). According to the newspaper clipping from The Daily Press, marked 3-14-27, about George and Mary’s  65th wedding anniversary, they initially settled on a farm near Almont, MI and the next year they came to Burnside Township and purchased a farm, 59 years ago (which would make the purchase in 1868). The newspaper article says that they “hewed a home for themselves out of forest and brush and swamp,” and lived on it 45 years, converting it over time from the rude early settler’s home into a modern residence.

The couple had eleven children of their own and also raised one of their grandsons. Their children were:  Emma Wilcox Messer (1864-1930); Annetta “Nettie” Wilcox Sharp (1866-1929); George C. Wilcox (1867-1895); Charles Wilcox (1868-1904); Frank E. Wilcox (1870-1894); Bertha Wilcox Crippen (1872-1906);  Adeline “Addie” Wilcox Sutphen (1876-1903); Arthur H. Wilcox (1877-1955); Myrtie Mabel Wilcox Henn, my great grandmother(1879-1953); Russell Fred Wilcox (1883-1961); and Ethel G. Wilcox Gardner Ryan (1885-1973). After the death of their daughter Addie in 1903, George and Mary took in their grandson, George Joseph Sutphen. He lived with them from age 1 at least through age 18. (His father remarried approximately six years after Addie died and had three daughters with the second wife.)

Climbing My Family Tree: George & Mary J. Wilcox Family, photo used with permission
George & Mary J. Wilcox Family, photo used with permission from  Kerry Rose and From Judy Wilcox

George farmed the land he bought in 1867 or 1868 for 45 years. In 1913, he retired from farming and sold the homestead to his youngest son, Russell. George and Mary then moved into a house they’d built at 144 McMorran Street in Brown City MI where they lived out their retirement.  They were still living there at the time of the 65th wedding anniversary celebration, at 86 and 84 years of age. The celebration was a quiet one due to their failing health. The article noted that rapidly failing eyesight had required Mary to put down her needle of late, but she had until that point been very active in making quilts and rugs and had been able work and read without glasses until the prior fall. The paper also noted that George was not able to get out of the house very often. Of their 11 children, six were still living (I cannot imagine the heartache of outliving five of your children): Mrs. Everett (Emma) Messer of Royal Oak, Mrs. Albert (Annetta) Sharp of Burnside; Mr. Arthur Wilcox of Detroit; Mrs. Oliver Henn (must mean Owen Henn and that would be Myrtie Mabel) and Russell Wilcox of Burnside and Mrs. R.W. (Ethel) Ryan of Brown City.

George died a year later on March 19, 1928, at the age of 87.  According to the 1930 Census, after George’s death, Mary and George’s youngest daughter Ethel and her husband Robert W. Ryan, their 9 year old daughter and Ethel’s 19 year old daughter moved into the home on McMorran street with Mary, likely so that she wouldn’t be alone and so they could help her as needed. Mary was 87. She died seven years later, at the age of 94, on May 26, 1937. They were buried in the Burnside Township Cemetery on Van Dyke Road (M-53) in Burnside Township, Lapeer County, Michigan.

Climbing My Family Tree: Mary J & George B. Wilcox gravestone in the Burnside Township Cemetery, Lapeer County, Michigan
Mary J. & George B. Wilcox gravestone in the Burnside Township Cemetery, Lapeer County, Michigan
Found at Findagrave.com, Find A Grave Memorial # 25141706, posted by Anonymous

If anyone has any information on the family and is willing to share, please leave a comment below or contact me at the email address on my Contact Me page. (11 kids!...Are we related???)

Canadian Census 1851 & 1852; U.S. Census  for 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930; Essentials Canadian History, Pre-Colonization to 1867: The Beginning of a Nation by Terry A. Crowley, Ph. D (Research & Education Association 2000); http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada; The Dalziel Barn, http://www.dalzielbarn.com/pages/TheFarm/BuildACabin.html ; Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, New Brunswick’s Forests of old, http://archives.gnb.ca/Exhibits/archivalportfolio/TextViewer.aspx?culture=en-CA&myFile=Forest; Memory and Hope: Strands of Canadian Baptist History, edited by David T. Priestly; The Reformed;  Reader, Baptists in greater Britain, http://www.reformedreader.org/history/vedder/ch18.htm; The A to Z of the Baptists, by William H Brackney, pp. 118-121.; Pioneer Baptist Work in Oxford County, by Zella Hotson, found at www.ourroots.ca; http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~canon/research-topic-church-religion.html; Archives of Ontario; Series: MS248_5; Reel: 5, Ancestry.com and Genealogical Research Library (Brampton, Ontario, Canada). Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1801-1928 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010; "Ontario, Marriages, 1800-1910," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XLPB-D31 : accessed 21 Sep 2014), George B. Wilson and Mary J Carrier, 14 Mar 1862; citing Brant, Ontario; FHL microfilm 1030055; “Celebrating Sixty-fifth Anniversary of Marriage”, The Daily Press (clipping. “3-14-27” written on it – I have a copy, I don’t know what city the Daily Press belonged to); “Members of the Flock, by Lucille Henn Robson, p. 9.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

52 Ancestors: #32 Melchior Simon Henn (1774 - ????)

This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.
When it was originally set up, the challenge stated “have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor“. This week’s post is about a research problem, my fourth great grandfather, Melchior Simon Henn …and the rest of the family in Germany.

When I was researching my 3rd great grandfather Franz Joseph (later Francis) Henn and his wife Phillipina Blank Henn, I was ecstatic when I found a record of their marriage on FamilySearch.org which included the names of both sets of parents. Franz Joseph’s parent’s names were listed as Melchior Henn and Gertrudt Grimm. I also found out the names of Franz Joseph’s probable siblings by finding other marriage records which listed Melchior Henn and Gertrudt Grimm as parents: Franz Melchior Henn, Johann Joseph Henn and Serena Henn.

Next I plugged Melchior’s name (with Gertrudt as his wife) into FamilySearch’s search fields and turned up an indexed entry of his christening record (absent the usual digitized copy of the original), which indicated that Melchior Simon Henn was christened on March 4, 1774 in Bronnbach, Baden, Germany and his parents were Joannis Simonis Henn and Annae Margarethe. Using those parental names I also found indexed christening records for found Melchior’s probable siblings: Phillipus Andreas Henn [April 30, 1769], Joannes Buckardus Henn [July 24, 1776], Maria Anna Henn [December 1, 1764], Valentinus Tobias Henn [January 28, 1767] and perhaps Simon Andreas Henn [February 10, 1772] and Dorothea Henn [October 21, 1779] (under the parental names Simonis Henn and Annae Margarethe). All were christened in Bronnbach, Main-Tauber-Kreis, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. I may not have found all of Melchior’s siblings but I think that these are his because the same names repeat in our family as the generations descend.

 Etching of the Bronnbach Monastery in the 17th Century
By Caspar Merian (1627–1686) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

 I stalled out there.  There are oodles of Henn’s listed in the FamilySearch records (and here I thought, all my life, that the name was rare!), but I’ve been unable to find other records, or indexes, I’m fairly sure of because the plethora of (repeating) names is confusing. The records at Ancestry.com are in the same boat. In fact, most of them were FamilySearch’s records originally. 
I did a google search on the names and turned up a familytree  on RootsWeb’s World Connect Project, in German [I used Google Translate initially], that appears to take the family back, both paternal and maternal lines, to the early 1600’s/late 1500’s with birth, marriage, death dates and places. Finding it was really exciting but in reality I can’t use it for more than possible clues as none of the facts appear to be sourced to something I can find so I can’t easily verify the work. I trust documentation that is sourced so that I can find the source, and, I really prefer looking at original documents when possible.

About that time I also found another Henn tree on Ancestry.com that had a digital copy of what appears to be a baptism record for Melchior Simon Henn, handwritten, in Latin (but no indication of where it came from).  So I sent an email to my Henn-side cousin, Steven Bollinger* (of The Wrong Monkey blog, check it out!), who, I had a vague recollection could possibly read Latin and German, asking him if he could read it  and whether he would be willing to translate it for me.  Very helpfully, it turns out that he can read Latin, Greek, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and bits of other languages, and loves translation, and is willing to translate anything I find in my research. (Yippee! Thank you, Steve!) And he translated the digital copy of the record for me – noting some portions he was 100% sure of and others less so do to handwriting issues. It is a baptismal or christening record. The document appears to mirror the information given in the FamilySearch index, with some bonus information, such as that Melchior was a legitimate son and the name of the person from the Monastery who assisted with the birth, (very cool!)

Steve also translated some paragraphs for me from the RootsWeb pages that Google Translate mangled, on Melchior’s uncle Andreas, which turned out to be quite fascinating, but again unsourced. Like me, Steve is concerned that there was no indication of the source of many of the facts listed in the RootsWeb tree or of the document I found on Ancestry.com in the other person’s tree.
I think (hope) that the baptism record came from FamilySearch, because the Index I found had similar family information, including the Latin spelling of the names rather than Germanic. I had noted that the index indicated that FamilySearch has the document on microfilm, and gave the source information of the particular microfilm it is on.  I’ve read that I can have the microfilm sent to a local branch of the FamilySearch Family History Center for viewing and making digital copies of the document (note to self – bring a thumb drive!). I looked it up and there is one in Albany, with limited hours. Yay!

But I think that has to be a project for next year. When I go I want to have requested several records, not just one, since I have to use up a vacation day to do it (not open weekends). So that means some concerted research ahead of time to find several possible ancestors’ documents to request and wait to be delivered to the Family History Center & then go look at.  As long as I'm trying to complete the "52 Ancestors in 52 weeks challenge" I haven't the time for that sort of concerted research, given the long hours I work in my regular job.  Additionally, in the intervening time, I might have the time to read my new book, “In Search of Your German Roots: a complete guide to tracing your ancestors in the Germanic areas of Europe”, 4th ed., by Angus Baxter, which might make searching for the Henn’s in Germany easier.

So I think that this is a good time to move on to start checking out the O’Brien, Wilcox, Currier, and Sharp branches of the paternal side of my paternal family tree, and later the Bennett, Gregor, & and McFarlane lines of my grandmother’s tree, before I end this year with profiles of my own grandparents. I did my Snyder-side grandparents last after going through their family tree and I think it was effective to see what family forces shaped them before profiling them and I intend to do the same with the Henn-side.

(I will go back and profile more of the Henn ancestors later, I just want to be sure that I can reach representatives all the branches this year for the 52 Ancestors Challenge to the extent it is possible.)

*Name used with permission.