The Lesson of James A. Wilson – There Are Exceptions to Every Rule!


Two things happened yesterday.

First, posted this nifty “cheat sheet” which can be used to determine if your ancestors served in one of the US conflicts back to the Revolution.


Second, a third cousin, in my Wilson line, contacted me through asking to compare notes, which prompted me to review the pending “shaky leaves” for that line.

A Find-A-Grave hint popped up for James Alexander Wilson, my 2nd-great uncle and brother to my 2nd g-grandmother, Roxanna “Anna” Aurelia (Wilson) Hall (her story here).

family tree

Attached to this Mount Hope Cemetery grave record was a photo referring to 11th Regiment Massachusetts [Light] Battery.  A Google search revealed that this was a Civil War unit “Organized at Readville and mustered in for three years January 2, 1864 … Mustered out June 16, 1865″


The chart reads: “Civil War birth years 1811-1848”. Another mistake in my tree!  My James died on 14 Sept 1886, which matches the Find-A-Grave entry, but I recorded his birth at St. John, New Brunswick, on 27 February 1850, thus implying an age of fourteen in 1864. Did I have the wrong birth date?

I re-reviewed the records, most concurred – James was born in 1850!  Was it possible a 14 year old served in the Civil War?

At bit of research revealed at least 100,000 Union soldiers were boys under 15 years old and about 20 percent of all Civil War soldiers were under 18. Many lied about their age to join. As the casualties grew and more soldiers were needed, recruiters looked the other way. The exact number of children who enlisted during the Civil War is unknown, but it is known that 48 soldiers who were under the age of 18 won the Congressional Medal of Honor for their bravery and service.

Census/Marriage/Death Records Analyzed for Birth Year

No birth/baptism has been located at St John for James Wilson.

In 1851, a one year old James Wilson was enumerated with his parents, David and Elizabeth, in Saint John County, Dukes and Queens Wards,

1851 census

The 1855 Massachusetts Boston, Ward 03, census reports his age as five.


In 1860, he was enumerated in Boston Ward 3 as age ten.

1860 census

In 1865, he was residing in Boston Ward 3, listed as age 16.


He was 20 in 1870 when enumerated in Boston Ward 4.

1870 census

He was 21 when he married Susan “Susie” Jane Perkins, daughter of George Perkins and Margaret Taylor on 17 May 1871 in Boston.


He was listed as age 34 in the 1880 Boston census (the only record which implies a birth in 1846 – note that his parents were married in 1847 – their story here).


When James Naturalized in 1882, he gave a birth date of 27 February 1850.


A signature comparison (beautiful handwriting for a 14 year old!) confirms that the James Wilson who joined the Civil War and the James Wilson who applied for Naturalization are likely the same man.


fe59703e-bf46-4489-b186-a275f01b547b f3585473-252e-40ef-89ab-3e2d0b15afe7

James’ Massachusetts death entry dated 14 September 1886 lists his age as 36 years, 6 months, 14 days (implying a birth of 28 Feb 1850).  Cause of death was Consumption. The newspaper notice of his death also lists an age of 36.



Side Note: James was a Fresco Painter – I have not uncovered any information specifically related to his work. Given his beautiful handwriting, I wonder where he was educated, his mother was unable to write, thus he must have had schooling in this craft.  An article published in Massachusetts, in that time frame, describes the study:


Fold 3- CMSR for James

Fold 3 has digitized the Massachusetts Compiled Military Service Records.  Although James Wilson is a common name, knowing he served in the 11th Regiment Massachusetts Battery helped in locating the record. In his file, was a volunteer enlistment form, dated 2 December 1864, with a claim that he was seventeen and ten months.  The form includes minor consent from his father.

The enlistment occurred in Cambridge (the family resided in Boston, perhaps he intentionally enlisted in a place where he would not be known?) and James was described 5’4″ tall (quite short for an almost 18 year old).  He was given a $33 recruitment bounty in exchange for a one year commitment (the family was quite poor and likely needed the funds). His pay was later docked for loss of Clothing Camp and Garrison equipage (typical kid ?).

Fold3_Page_10_Compiled_Service_Records_of_Volunteer_Union_Soldiers_Who_Served_in_Organizations_from_the_State_of_Massachusetts Fold3_Page_9_Compiled_Service_Records_of_Volunteer_Union_Soldiers_Who_Served_in_Organizations_from_the_State_of_Massachusetts



Pension Search

Whenever I find a Veteran, I check for a pension file.  The pension laws changed frequently not everyone who participated was entitled.  A good place to start in understanding Civil War pensions is the Family Search Wiki – here.

There are two indexes, one on Fold3 and the other on Ancestry.  They can differ.’s  “U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934” (NARA T288) tells us that James’ widow Susan applied, and received a pension.

pension card

Fold 3’s Civil War Pensions Index (officially called the “Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900”; NARA T289) lists a widow’s pension and mother’s pension (the lack of certificate number means that the mother’s pension request was denied).

Fold3_Wilson_James_A_Organization_Index_to_Pension_Files_of_Veterans_Who_Served_Between_1861_and_1900 (1)

National Archives

This morning I headed to the National Archives in DC and placed my request for these two files.  If you ask that the file be delivered to the new Innovation Hub, not only do you avoid having to wait for a specific pull time (they pull it right away for you) but you can use their scanners for free and once scanned the digitized documents are posted on NARAs website for others to find.  If you don’t live near the Archives, you can place a request online (the fee is $80 for the first 100 pages – order here).

The two pension requests were consolidated into one file.  Nothing in the file mentions James’ enlistment age and the death certificate in the file implies a birth in 1850.


It seems that James’ mother, Elizabeth, age 70, who was unable to sign her name, applied for a pension in 1890 saying that her son was unmarried, without children and prior to his death she relied on him for some support.

Her witnesses included, Elizabeth’s daughter, my 2nd g-grandmother, “Anna” aka Roxanna (Wilson) Hall and Anna’s sister-in-law, Mary (Hall) Patten.  Elizabeth was residing in Everett, the address was c/o Charles Baker, Simpson Court  (another name to research!). Later documents give her address as Richardson Court, Malden (the address of my Hall ancestors).



When James’ widow later placed a claim, Elizabeth’s claim was thus rejected. Elizabeth’s attorney stated that he was told there was no widow or children.


The file (although one of the smaller I have pulled – just 36 pages) is chock full of family details (albeit nothing confirming my suspicion that James parents were born in Ireland)!  Most interesting was a witness statement indicating that Susan was a laundress working for $1.50/week for 22 year old Margaret E. Clark who she had known for five years.  Susan relied on her minor children, two boys and two girls, earnings of five to six dollars a month, as aid. She owned some household furniture valued less than $25.


Susan was removed from the Pension rolls in 1895 as she was “reported dead”.  Interestingly, she wasn’t deceased, she remarried Brenton B. Cook on 07 Oct 1895 in Boston (record here). She died 2 March 1908 from Chronic Brights Disease and Edema of Lungs.



In summary, while a great tool, use Ancestry’s “cheat sheet” as a guide.  There are always exceptions. Without the Find-A-Grave hint, I wouldn’t have searched for these records and I would have missed some great family details!

The Family of James Alexander Wilson 1850-1866


Service according to

The service of the 11th Independent Battery, Massachusetts Light Artillery after James joined in December 1864 was as follows (text from Wikipedia):

Dabney’s Mills, Hatcher’s Run, February 5-7, 1865.

The Battle of Hatcher’s Run, also known as Dabney’s Mill, Armstrong’s Mill, Rowanty Creek, and Vaughn Road, fought February 5–7, 1865, was one in a series of Union offensives during the Siege of Petersburg, aimed at cutting off Confederate supply traffic on Boydton Plank Road and the Weldon Railroad west of Petersburg, Virginia. Although the Union advance was stopped, the Federals extended their siegeworks to the Vaughn Road crossing of Hatcher’s Run. The Confederates kept the Boydton Plank Road open, but were forced to extend their thinning lines.

 Fort Stedman March 25.

The Battle of Fort Stedman, also known as the Battle of Hare’s Hill, was fought on March 25, 1865, during the final days of the American Civil War. The Union Army fortification in the siege lines around Petersburg, Virginia, was attacked in a pre-dawn Confederate assault by troops led by Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon. The attack was the last serious attempt by Confederate troops to break the Siege of Petersburg. After an initial success, Gordon’s men were driven back by Union troops of the IX Corps commanded by Maj. Gen. John G. Parke.

 Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9.

The Appomattox Campaign was a series of American Civil War battles fought March 29 – April 9, 1865 in Virginia that concluded with the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to the Union Army (Army of the Potomac, Army of the James and Army of the Shenandoah) under the overall command of Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant. In the following eleven weeks after Lee’s surrender, the American Civil War ended as other Confederate armies surrendered and Confederate government leaders were captured or fled the country.

Assault on and fall of Petersburg April 2.

The Third Battle of Petersburg, also known as the Breakthrough at Petersburg or the Fall of Petersburg, was fought on April 2, 1865, south and southwest of Petersburg, Virginia, at the end of the 292-day Richmond–Petersburg Campaign (sometimes called the Siege of Petersburg) and in the beginning stage of the Appomattox Campaign near the conclusion of the American Civil War. The Union Army (Army of the Potomac, Army of the Shenandoah and Army of the James) under the overall command of General-in-chief, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, launched an assault on General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia’s Petersburg, Virginia trenches and fortifications after the Union victory at the Battle of Five Forks on April 1, 1865. As a result of that battle the Confederate right flank, rear and remaining supply lines were exposed or cut and the Confederate defenders were reduced by over 10,000 men killed, wounded, taken prisoner or in flight.

The thinly-held Confederate lines at Petersburg had been stretched to the breaking point by earlier Union movements that extended those lines beyond the ability of the Confederates to man them adequately and by desertions and casualties from recent battles. As the much larger Union forces, which significantly outnumbered the Confederates, assaulted the lines, desperate Confederate defenders held off the Union breakthrough long enough for Confederate government officials and most of the remaining Confederate army, including local defense forces, and some Confederate Navy personnel, to flee Petersburg and the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia during the night of April 2–3. Confederate corps commander Lieutenant General A.P. Hill was killed during the fighting.

Union soldiers occupied Richmond and Petersburg on April 3, 1865 but most of the Union Army pursued the Army of Northern Virginia until they surrounded and forced Robert E. Lee to surrender that army on April 9, 1865 after the Battle of Appomattox Court House, Virginia.

Pursuit of Lee to Appomattox C. H. April 3-9.

the Siege of Petersburg ends with the Union assault and breakthrough of April 2. The remainder of the war in Virginia is classified as “Grant’s Pursuit of Lee to Appomattox Court House.

Moved to Washington, D.C., April 20-27.

Grand Review May 23 (note that James was enumerated with his family in the Massachusetts census on 1 May 1865 with no occupation listed. Records do indicate he mustered out June 16, 1865.  It is possible that whoever spoke to the census taker listed him as residing with the family even though he was not present).

The Grand Review of the Armies was a military procession and celebration in Washington, D.C., on May 23 and May 24, 1865, following the close of the American Civil War. Elements of the Union Army paraded through the streets of the capital to receive accolades from the crowds and reviewing politicians, officials, and prominent citizens, including the President of the United States, Andrew Johnson

General Sylvester Mathews of Buffalo, War of 1812 and Battle of Chippawa Hero


I have been lucky enough to spend time at the National Archives in Washington DC over the past months.  I have no known direct ancestors who fought in the War of 1812 or Civil War, but wanted to familiarize myself with the record sets, so I selected a friend’s ancestor, General Sylvester Mathews (her 3rd g-grandfather).

mathews tree

Origins Unknown

Sylvester Mathews/Matthews (born about 1793) is first found in 1814, in the wilderness which later became Buffalo, Erie, New York (then a population of about 500).  It is unlikely he was native; in the 1790’s there were just a few families there, none named Mathews.

In the summer of 1795, the Duke de la Rouchefoucault Liancourt passed through “Lake Erie,” which was the name he understood was given to the “collection of houses” of white people he found to be near the Seneca village, which to him was “Buffalo Town.” He wrote: “We at length arrived at the post on Lake Erie, which is a small collection of four or five houses, built about a quarter of a mile from the lake.”

As part of the Holland Purchase, Dutch investors procured the area which became Buffalo, from the Seneca Indians, and began selling lots in 1801. Their representatives dubbed the settlement New Amsterdam, but the name did not stick. It was first called Lake Erie, then Buffalo Creek, then Buffalo.

It is unknown if Sylvester emigrated alone or with family members or friends to Buffalo. There are no Mathews found in the area in 1800 or 1810. In those census years only head of household was listed, so it is possible that he or his family were in the area, but residing with others.

At the breaking out of the War of 1812, Sylvester resided in the Hamlet of Black Rock (today part of Buffalo), a mile wide strip of land along the Niagara River that the state of New York purchased from the Indians in 1802. Adjacent to the river, village streets were laid out. A black rock ledge (now gone) protruded 200 feet into the river, forming a naturally protected harbor downstream.


black rock2

In 1820, Sylvester was the only Mathews enumerated in Buffalo and the surrounding communities.

In later years there are a number of Mathews who appear in the area, but their relation, if any, is unknown. Sylvester is the only Mathews who was an original land purchaser from the Holland Land Company.

Battle of Chippawa and Early Struggles in Buffalo

John Haddock wrote an account of his arrival, with family and $18, at Buffalo, from Bath, New Hampshire, in 1811. For a short time John made a living as a chair maker, then established a small grocery and bake shop in the village. Haddock was likely a neighbor, friend and/or business associate of Sylvester, also a baker, who in June 1919, married John’s daughter, Miss Louisa Haddock.

Buffalo Harbor 1810

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Although Haddock made a comfortable living, he and the community were in constant fear of the British and Indians.  In 1812 John claims to have made 6-8 coffins a day, due to savage killings and epidemics.

haddock house map

On 30 December 1813, the enemy, who were “scalping and killing everyone in their path”, crossed the Niagara River and advanced into Buffalo. Haddock, his wife and six children (including Sylvester’s future wife) fled on foot twenty minutes before their home was pilfered and burned. They walked fifteen miles, in the cold, on the beach of the lake, with many of their neighbors (although not named, young Sylvester may have been part of this group). John was barefoot, having given his shoes to his wife. They slept on the floor at a strangers and used their only salvaged possessions, two blankets, for warmth.

A few days later John, and another young lad, returned to view the ruined town (and dig up cash buried in the cellar).  The fires had not yet burnt out; dead soldiers and inhabitants lay all over town. He returned to his family, they walked further, put up a log house with a good fire and had plenty of pork, potatoes and Indian Johnny Cakes. His three year old child was carried off and he did not see her for three weeks [he does not say by whom – Indians?].

The Haddocks returned to Buffalo a few months later, in April 1814.  John writes of the Battle of Chippawa and having to again relocate his family, 80 miles outside of the village (this time, salvaging some possessions). After being away from him for five months, in January 1815, the family was again together.  He mentions that he was lucky to get a position of baking for the Army, which gives him “tolerable good support” and he is “able to live in pretty good style”.  He says there are 3,000 troops in town who he expects will protect them through the winter.

By 1817 John has amassed a fortune – a well furnished house and lot worth $5,000; a decent store valued at $1,500; two 5-acre lots in the village worth $3,000; a 100 acre farm eight miles from Buffalo where he produces wheat, hay and potatoes and keeps three cows and two horses.  In addition, he expects $4,000 of the government, as retribution.

He died in 1818.

Letters – CLICK to enlarge the image.

Haddock Letters

During the War of 1812, Sylvester was also involved at the Battle of Chippawa (5 July 1814), as part of the New York Militia. He was likely a baker working with his future father-in-law Haddock.

Historical newspaper accounts claim: “Sylvester frequently volunteered his services to repel the enemy. He was attached to the Commissary Department, and distributed provisions to the army shut up in Fort Erie during the siege. The premises which he occupied were frequently penetrated by the shot and shells from the enemy’s batteries”.

mathews shot

Of this American victory over British forces, historian Henry Adams wrote:

The battle of Chippewa was the only occasion during the war when equal bodies of regular troops met face to face, in extended lines on an open plain in broad daylight, without advantage of position; and never again after that combat was an army of American regulars beaten by British troops. Small as the affair was, and unimportant in military results, it gave to the United States Army a character and pride it had never before possessed.

After the war, in 1816, Sylvester was appointed fireman in the village of Buffalo (likely not a full time position, but a volunteer role when the need arose).

1816 fire department

His 1818 marriage to Louisa Haddock was announced in the paper.


1820 Census

In August 1820, Sylvester was listed as head of household, in Buffalo, with five others, two are under the age of ten – he had been married just a year, so perhaps one was his child [note that the first child I have located was not born until 1821]. Since his father-in-law, John Haddock died two years prior, it is possible that some of his wife’s relatives or others were residing with the Mathews:

Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 2
Number of Persons – Engaged in Manufactures: 1
Free White Persons – Under 16: 3
Free White Persons – Over 25: 1
Total Free White Persons: 6
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 6

mathews 1820


Some time prior to 1824, Sylvester’s wife died leaving him with young children.  Online unsourced trees claim she died 9 Jun 1823.

In September 1824, Sylvester remarried to Eliza B. Wadsworth. She was born about 1802, daughter of Henry Wadsworth and Elizabeth (Betsy) Bidwell of Hartford, Connecticut.  Her parents were deceased and she may have been residing in nearby Canandaigua, New York, where they married at the First Congregational Church. In 1820 a John Wadsworth resided there, with six others in his home.  Historical accounts say that Eliza’s brother Richard settled in Buffalo and a Richard is listed as a fireman in 1824 town records.  Eliza hailed from a prominent family. Her grandfather, Jonathan Wadsworth was mortally wounded at the Battle of Saratoga on 19 September 1777 during the Revolutionary War, while commanding a company at the battle of Bemis Heights, and her 3rd-g-grandfather, William Wadsworth, was one of the founders of Hartford, Connecticut


The Erie Canal

Black Rock was the rival of Buffalo for the terminus of the Erie Canal, but Buffalo, with its larger harbor capacity and greater distance from the shores of Canada, won the competition.

The win was not without struggle. In 1823, the citizens of Buffalo enticed a steamship builder to select Buffalo over Black Rock by offering cheaper timber and promising to pay $150 daily penalty for each day the harbor was obstructed.  In the spring of 1823, an ice obstruction necessitated removal to avoid penalties. The citizens stepped up and donated what they could to aid this effort, Sylvester’s donation being $25 of bread (further evidence that he worked as a baker).


Finally on the 9 August 1823, Sylvester saw canal excavations actually begun within the village boundaries. For fifteen years the villagers had been waiting for this canal which was to bring them wealth an increased commerce. For six or eight years they had longed for the canal, had fought for it, had despaired of ever getting it. But now there was no longer cause for doubt. Johnson’s “History of Erie County” has a paragraph regarding the event:

“On the 9th of August, 1823, work on the grand canal was begun in Erie county. Ground was broken near the Commercial street bridge, in Buffalo. There was of course a celebration, including procession, speech-making, etc. The assembled crowd were so interested in the great work that they did not content themselves with the formal removal of a few spadefuls, but fell in procession behind the contractor’s ploughs, and followed them for half a mile, with music playing and cannon firing. ‘Then,’ says the account, ‘they partook of a beverage furnished by the contractor,’ and afterwards dispersed with vociferous cheers.”


In 1823 and 1824, Sylvester was paid for supplying bread and provisions to the Indians.


Murder Trial

In 1824, three young men, murdered a townsmen, John Love. In 1825, they were sentence to be hung. The event drew a large number of people from Western New York and Canada.  The military was called out to keep order. Colonial Sylvester commanded a troop of horse.


1830 Census

Sylvester purchased from the Holland Land Company: Lot # 28 on 5 October 1825 which he sold in 1830. He purchased a larger lot on Buffalo Creek, # 84, on 20 January 1830.


1830 houses

In June 1830, Sylvester was listed as head of household, in Buffalo, and was residing with fourteen others:

Home in 1830 (City, County, State): Buffalo, Erie, New York
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 30 thru 39: 2
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 2
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14: 2
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1
Free White Persons – Under 20: 10
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 5
Total Free White Persons: 15
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 15

mathews 1830

The home was a low, white, wooden building.  When Sylvester sold it later in the 1830’s, Kremlin Hall (pictured) was built in its place.

land kremlin

Town Involvement

The Buffalo History Museum holds an Inspection return of the field and staff of the 17th Regiment of Cavalry, 4th Brigade, commanded by Col. Sylvester Mathews, 22 Sept 1829 (catalog here); this was likely a town militia unit.

inspection return

The 1830 town records name Sylvester as a Lieutenant Colonel in the fourth brigade.


sylvester militia 2

sylvester militia 1

By 1834, he was a Brigadier General of Cavalry, first Division, 4th Brigade.


In 1833 and 1834, Sylvester served as Alderman of Ward 5 (the governing executive or legislative body of a town).


In 1836, he was a Street Commissioner.


Sylvester was thought of as “one of the prominent citizens of Buffalo”.


Also in 1836 he was elected as a director of the Bank of Buffalo.

mathews shot

In 1838 he was named as a trustee at the Lockport Bank in the village of Lockport, New York.

mathews shot

In 1838, Benjamin Rathbun was accused (and later acquitted) of forging a check In the name of Sylvester Mathews. Unfortunately we do not know the details of their relationship (if any).


mathews shot

Independence Day 1830

A newspaper recounts the festivities and tells us that marshal of the day was Colonel, afterward General, Sylvester Mathews,

The enthusiasm of our people for their country and flag can usually be measured by the beat of the natlonul pulse. A typical celebration of the day Is that of 1830 in Buffalo. N. Y., which Is described afsome length in the Buffalo Journal. That newspaper says: “The return of our national jubilee was celebrated In this village with more than ordinary splendour and the day was duly honoured, ‘not In the breach but the observance.'” The procession formed at the Eagle—a famous tavern located on Main street between Court and Eagle streets—and consisted of veterans of the Revolution citizens and strangers, escorted by the Washington and Frontier guard and the cadets of the Western Literary and Scientific academy, “the whole enlivened by muslck from the Buffalo band.” The oration: was pronounced by Sheldon Smith, Esq., at the Baptist church and religious services were conducted by Rev. Mr. Shelton of St. Paul’s. From the church the procession marched to the Buffalo House in Seneca street and there an “excellent dinner was partaken of.” Dr. “Powell was landlord of the house at that time and the papers recorded as something worthy of special mention that there were no liquors on the table. But the good lesson this statement was Intended to convey loses Its moral In the very next line of the ( narrative : “After the cloth was removed wine was served with the toasts, which were drank with the utmost regularity.” It Is hardly necessary to draw on the Imagination to any extent to picture the . final state of many In that noble company of 100 who drank the wine “with the utmost regularity.” But that was before the days of temperance societies and adulterated liquors. The marshal of the day was Colonel, afterward The enthusiasm of our people for their country and flag can usually be measured by the beat of the natlonul pulse. A typical celebration of the day Is that of 1830 in Buffalo. N. Y., which Is described afsome length in the Buffalo Journal. That newspaper says: “The return of our national jubilee was celebrated In this village with more than ordinary splendour and the day was duly honoured, ‘not In the breach but the observance.'” The procession formed at the Eagle—a famous tavern located on Main street between Court and Eagle streets—and consisted of veterans of the Revolution citizens and strangers, escorted by the Washington and Frontier guard and the cadets of the Western Literary and Scientific academy, “the whole enlivened by muslck from the Buffalo band.” The oration: was pronounced by Sheldon Smith, Esq., at the Baptist church and religious services were conducted by Rev. Mr. Shelton of St. Paul’s. From the church the procession marched to the Buffalo House in Seneca street and there an “excellent dinner was partaken of.” Dr. “Powell was landlord of the house at that time and the papers recorded as something worthy of special mention that there were no liquors on the table. But the good lesson this statement was Intended to convey loses Its moral In the very next line of the ( narrative : “After the cloth was removed wine was served with the toasts, which were drank with the utmost regularity.” It Is hardly necessary to draw on the Imagination to any extent to picture the . final state of many In that noble company of 100 who drank the wine “with the utmost regularity.” But that was before the days of temperance societies and adulterated liquors. The marshal of the day was Colonel, afterward General, Sylvester Mathews, a veteran of the war of 1812 a hero of the Battle of Chippewa. Apart from these proceedings was discourse by Rev. Mr. Eaton of the Presbyterian church on civil and religious’ liberty. The festivities closed according to time honored custom with a ball in the evening.  a veteran of the war of 1812 a hero of the Battle of Chippewa. Apart from these proceedings was discourse by Rev. Mr. Eaton of the Presbyterian church on civil and religious’ liberty. The festivities closed according to time honored custom with a ball in the evening.

Business Ventures

Mathews and Wilcox Cemetery

Sylvester Mathews and Birdseye Wilcox, about 1836, purchased twelve acres of land for $36,000, on farm lot No. 30, next to the the five acres which the city had purchased in 1832 for the Potter’s Field. Some accounts claim that the city was negotiating to purchase the land and they intervened.

This twelve acre field was improved, and burial lots sold to individuals: the land was more desirable than that on the corner of Delaware and North streets as there was a considerable attention paid to decorations and monuments; the cemetery remained open in their names until 1854, when Birdseye sold it for $5.000 to The Buffalo Cemetery Association (Mathews, deceased was not named in the sale and his widow likely received nothing).

en  1912delnorthcemetery1

In the early 1900’s the grounds, on the southeast corner of North and Best, were converted for building of the 65th Regiment Armory and human remains were removed to Lakeside cemetery.


cemetery purchase



It appears that he may have been part owner of Mathews & Simmons, a Baking Company.  Although we can not be sure the Mathews named was Sylvester, given that he lists his occupation as a baker with an office on 294 Main (the bakery seemed to be at 290 Main), it is likely him. Other than city directories, no records have been located mentioning the business. A Kinyon Mathews b. 1807 who had previously resided in Auburn, New York, seems to be involved with the business and is perhaps a relative.

city directories


In 1840, Sylvester resided in ward 5 in Buffalo and had 10 other people in his household. Note that Sylvester would have been about 48 years old and there is no “tic mark” in that category.  This may be an enumerator error as there are no other residents in the county that could be Sylvester.

Home in 1840 (City, County, State): Buffalo Ward 5, Erie, New York
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 2
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 2
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1
Free White Persons – Under 20: 8
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 3
Total Free White Persons: 11
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 11


In the June 1841 Buffalo City directory, Sylvester is listed on Frank at the corner of Niagra.

buffalo today map


Sylvester died on 10 August 1842, age 49 or 50, from heart disease.



He is buried at Lakeside Memorial Park Cemetery, Hamburg, Erie, New York – Plot: Section B-1 [he was likely buried at the Mathews & Wilcox Cemetery and later moved here].


283e493d-8afe-490a-83aa-85fa22e74c9c (1)


Sylvester did not leave a will.  His widow Eliza filed in probate court fourteen years later, in 1856, after being cited for Sylvester’s unpaid taxes from 1837, in the amount of $7.86, now with interest $18.31.





Eliza, who was residing in Buffalo, claimed that the estate [which she had been living on for fourteen years] was valued at less than twenty dollars.

She named Sylvester’s descendants as:  a daughter, Cordelia dead with two children under age 21 , Mathew and William of Houlton, Maine; daughter Louisa the widow of George Townsend of Buffalo; a son Eugene of Cambridge, Massachusetts; daughter Eliza, wife of Jesse Stone living in Columbus, Ohio and Josephine of Buffalo.

sylvester intestate

Eliza never remarried, she is listed at the same home in 1848 and in the 1850 and 1855 censuses in Buffalo with her daughters Eliza and Josephine.


In 1860 she is listed in the home of her married daughter Eliza, in Columbus, Ohio. She died 24 Nov 1863 in Columbus, age 61.


Family Life

Sylvester had a at least 11 children, possibly more. Those known were:

Children with Louisa Bliss Haddock (but raised by his second wife, Eliza; Louisa died when they were babies)

Cordelia “Delia” C. Mathews
1821 – 1850

Cordelia was named in Sylvester’s probate as his daughter.  She married William Holman Cary, son of William Holman Cary and Catherine Hascall.  They had two sons, both named in Sylvester’s probate: Sylvester Mathew Cary and William Holman Cary. Cordelia died of consumption in Houlton, Maine, April 1850, at the age of 28.



Hannah Mathews
1823 –

Hannah was NOT named in Sylvester’s probate record.  “Recollections of Buffalo in the 1830’s” published in 1891 claims that Sylvester’s “eldest” daughter married Augustus Q. Stebbins.  In 1891, Cordelia was deceased and Augustus married a Hannah. She may have been his eldest living daughter.  No other record has been located that that ties Hannah to the Mathews family.  In many undocumented online trees, she is given a different maiden name.  Therefore it is unclear if she was a daughter or if the entry in the book is an error.


Louisa Catherine Mathews
1824 – 1916

Louisa, who was named in Sylvester’s probate, married George Coit Townsend, son of Judge Charles Townsend and Jane Corning.   Their known children included Charles born 1844; Louis born 1847, Edward Winslow born 1849; and George born 1852.

They also relocated to Columbus, Ohio where George died in 1852, Louisa married second Reverend Daniel Frederick Warren, Rector of St. Mary’s Protestant Episcopal Church, New Jersey. She likely died in New Jersey.

Children with Eliza B. Wadsworth [of nine known children, only three lived to adulthood]

Sylvester’s wife Eliza was confirmed at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Buffalo, in 1831 and subsequently had her children baptized at the same church.


Morris Sylvester Mathews #1
1825-26, died age 14 months

a61ccd05-f1b6-4e5e-91d5-c14187c963bd (1)

Eugene Henry Mathews (my friend’s 2nd g-grandfather)
1833 – 1889

Eugene, who was named in Sylvester’s probate, was baptized with siblings Eliza, Josephine and Morris in 1836.


He fought in the Civil War as a Union soldier. He was a private in Company A, Regiment 47, Massachusetts Infantry.

service war

Eugene married Lizzie Frazier, daughter of Alexander and Mary in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 12 Jan 1868.

1ab546aa-70eb-4634-87af-6a761cf4f3ce (3)


  • They had four known children:
    Harrison Eugene Mathews 1869 – 1875
    Edward/Frederick William Mathews 1872 – 1907
    Franklin Eugene Mathews 1875 – 1941 (my friend’s g-grandfather; father of Frederick D. Mathews)
    Flossie Paine Mathews 1878 – 1902

He worked as a printer.

Eugene died on Christmas Day 1889 of tyfoid fever/spinal meningitis, age 60.


His wife filed for a widow’s Civil War pension. She received $8 a month until she died in 1917.



Eliza Maria Mathews
1832 – 1891

Eliza, who was named in Sylvester’s probate, is listed in the 1848 city directory as a tailoress.


She married Jesse Rice Stone, son of John Stone and Lora Parish.  He was a merchant. He made a good living.  In 1860, the family included two servants. They relocated to Columbus, Ohio where she died 29 Jul 1891, age 59.  She is buried at Greenlawn Cemetery.  The couple had no known children.

Josephine Mathews
1834 – 1911

Josephine, who was named in Sylvester’s probate, never married.  She is found in the 1850 and 1855 censuses living, with her mother, in Buffalo.  The pair moved to Columbus, Ohio by 1860 and resided with or near her sister Eliza’s family. She died there in 1911 of Grippe, age 76.

jos death


Maria Mathews
1835 – 1835 – Baptized March 1835, age 3 months; buried age 7 months.


Morris Sylvester Mathews #2 
1835 – 1841

It was common for parents to give a subsequent child the same name as a deceased child.

Many of Sylvester’s children died at a young age.  Most tragic was the death of 5 1/2 year old Morris.  One evening, Morris rose from his bed to get a drink of water.  He placed a board over the cistern to reach the bucket of water; the board gave way and Morris drowned.

mathews death


unbaptized child Mathews
1837 – 1837


Mary Mathews
Baptized in 1839, age 1; not named in Sylvester’s probate and not included with Eliza in the 1850 census, so likely died before 1850.


Ann Mathews
Baptized in 1842, age 4 months; not named in Sylvester’s probate and not included with Eliza in the 1850 census, so likely died before 1850.


My Acadian 30 – week #14, Jean-Bénoni DuPuis


In 2007, I joined  It never occurred to me that online, unsourced trees were inaccurate.  I essentially “copied” my entire Acadian family from potentially erroneous public trees and never looked back.  Although my newer entries are sourced, a visit to Stephen A. White, at Moncton University’s Centre d’Études Acadiennes [Center for Acadian Studies] in 2014,  revealed a number of errors. I am determined to start from scratch, and verify that I have all available records beginning with the 30 direct ancestors, connected to my maternal grandmother. This includes her parents, grandparents, g-grandparents and g-g-grandparents.

yvonne roy

To keep the project manageable, I will write of one ancestor each week.

Prior Weeks (click on a name to read the sketch)

Generation 1

Week #1 – Yvonne Marie (Roy) Billings

Generation 2

Week #2 – Pius/Paul Dost Roy

Week #3 –  Marie Laura “Laura” Melanson

Generation 3

Week #4 –  Docité OR Dosithée Roy

Week #5 – Victoire LeBlanc

Week #6 – Magloire Melanson

Week #7 – Ausithe/Osite Dupuis

Generation 4

Week #8 – Joseph Roy/Roi (King)

Week #9 – (Judith) Angélique Belliveau

Week #10 – Georges LeBlanc

Week #11 – Madeleine LeBlanc

Week #12 – Laurent Melanson

Week #13 – Pélagie Leger

14. Jean-Bénoni DuPuis, second known child and eldest son of Joseph DuPuis and Anne (Nancy) Richard, was baptized on 05 Jan or Feb 1823  (Stephen A. White mentions that the entry is dated January, but comes after January records, so he feels that the priest likely continued to write January in error and that he was actually born in February). He was born “the night before”, in Memramcook, Westmorland, Dorchester Parish, New Brunswick, Canada).


Known siblings included:

Modeste, baptized Memramcook, 20 May 1821 [4-157]; buried Memramcook, 4 Mar 1825 [5-106]
Marie, baptized Memramcook, 9 May 1825 [5-111]
Henriette,  baptized Memramcook, 22 Nov 1827 [5-232]
Denis, baptized Memramcook, 1 Dec 1829 [6-41]
Marcelline, baptized Memramcook, 2 Feb 1832 [6-88]
Anne, baptized Memramcook, 10 July 1834 [6-124]
Donat, baptized Memramcook, 29 May 1837 [6-197]
Aime, baptized Memramcook, 27 Feb 1840 [6-204]
Dominique, baptized Memramcook, 10 May 1846 [7-36/37]; buried 5 July 1869 [M-89A]

And perhaps others – also listed in the 1851 census are Teton and Osite?

It is likely that the family resided on a farm in an area that would later be named Malakoff in Scoudouc (also called Bellevue Settlement). Scoudouc would not become a parish until later; it was thus administered by priests from Memramcook, Saint-Anselme, or Shediac.

There are a number of land deeds in the grantor/grantor indexes for John (perhaps Jean Benoni ?), Joseph, Benoni’s grandfather Pierre and other Dupuis in Dorchester, however the deeds are not available online.  A map listing land owners does mark their location.



Dupuis land

The green arrow marks the spot on the map just slightly North of the farm.


1851 Census

In 1851, Benoni continued to reside with his parents and siblings on the same farm:

Joseph, 50, Farmer
Nancy, 50  [likely Ann: Nancy, was originally a diminutive form of Anne or Ann.  In medieval England, Agnes would’ve been Annis. Or Anice. Or Annes. Nancy emerged as a pet form of Agnes via all those variants. As Annis and company faded from use, Nancy attached itself to Anne]
Balona, 26, Farmer [Benoni]
Denna, 21, Farmer [Denis]
Donat, 2?, Farmer
Marcelline, 19
Ann, 14
Dominick, 13 [Dominique]
Orietta, 11 [Henriette]
Teton, 6 [No baptism located for this child]
Osett, 4 [Osite ? – No baptism located for this child]

1851 Dupuis

Marriage and Children

Bénoni married Nathalie Sarah Boudreau on 03 Aug 1852 in Memramcook (nothing was found in parish registers; the civil record survived, but does not name parents).



Known children included:

Eustache, baptized Memramcook, 30 Jun 1854 [8-64]; appears on a farm in Malakoff with his parents, brother’s Ferdinand’s family and finally Phillias’ family; no marriage or children found; likely died 10 Apr 1914 in Scoudouc (laborer, died of dropsy after six months illness – record here).
Marie, baptized Memramcook, 13 May 1857 [8-131]; buried Memramcook 14 April 1868  [M-53].
Ferdinand, twin, baptized Memramcook, 15 Nov 1859 [9-20]; married Olive Melanson, daughter of Laurent Melanson and Pelagie Leger (his sister Osite married Olive’s brother); he was buried 1890 at Scoudouc, age 30 [record here].
Phillias #1, twin, baptized Memramcook, 15 Nov 1859 [9-20]; buried Memramcook 25 Dec 1859 [9-24]
Phillias #2, baptized Memramcook, 15 Jun 1862 [9-90]; married Adeline Melanson, daughter of Hippolyte Melanson and Anne Melanson; in 1911 he was enumerated on the farm in Malakoff.  He likely died 5 Dec 1918, in Malacoff, age 56 from Influenza.
Antoine, baptized Memramcook, 16 Oct 1864 [9-174]; buried 1876 Scoudouc, age 12 [record here].
Ausithe/Osite, baptized Memramcook 16 Jun 1867 [M-27A] – see sketch week #7.
Marie Bibianne, baptized Scoudouc 15 Mar 1871 [15]; married Jaddus Melanson, son of Pierre Melanson and Madeleine LeBlanc, in Scoudouc. She died 1 Dec 1950 in Springhill Jct., Cumberland, Nova Scotia from Breast Cancer (record here).

1861 Census

In 1861, Benoni, Nathalie and their three children, with several of Joseph’s siblings, resided on a farm adjacent to his father’s, in Scoudouc, which in 1866 became known as Malakoff (by 1898 Malakoff was a farming and lumbering settlement with 1 store and a population of 150 so it was likely a smaller community in 1861):

Joseph, 62 – husband
Nancy, 61 [Ann] – wife
Denis, 26 – son
Aime, 21 – son
Dominique, 15 – son

Benoni, 38 – husband
Sarah, 33 – [Nathalie] wife
Eustashe, 7 – son
Marie, 4 – daughter
Ferdinand, 2 – son
Harriet, 33 [Henriette ?] – sister
Ann, 21 – sister
Osite, 18 – sister

joseph 1861 beloni 1861

1871 Census

In 1871, Benoni and family are enumerated on the same farm.

The family is Catholic and includes:

Benoni, 47, can not read or write
Sarah [Nathalie], 44, can not read or write
Eustache, 15
Ferdinand, 11
Phillias, 8
Antoine, 5
Osite, 3
Bibianne, 1/12
John, 80 [relationship undefined, but likely a relative]

1871 dupuis

In 1871, Benoni owned 100 acres of land, twelve of which were improved, with one dwelling house.  He had one plow or cultivator and one car/wagon or sled.

The farm appeared to be much smaller that that of their Melanson neighbors. They produced twenty-five bushels of oats, fourteen of buckwheat and fifteen of potatoes.

The family had no horses, one milk cow, two sheep and two swine/pigs (one pig was exported or slaughtered).  They produced seven pounds of wool and thirty yards of homemade cloth/flannel.

Jean-Bénoni also lumbered 125 standard spruce and other logs, two cords of tan bark (which might have been used for fuel) and four cords of firewood.


b15a14e1-294e-4ba4-94ce-acb0c6110f34 (1)  615ef94c-61da-4a61-bf7d-15bf4c010521 15db3ef8-6d25-411c-95c2-850948c02866

Benoni died between 1871 and 1881, likely after 1875.  His death entry has not been located in parish or civil records. His widowed wife is enumerated in the household of their son Ferdinand, in 1881, which Ferdinand had purchased of his father in 1875, for two hundred pounds. Ferdinand later took a mortgage on the land; which was noted as land in Malakoff.



My Acadian 30 – week #13, Pélagie Leger


In 2007, I joined  It never occurred to me that online, unsourced trees were inaccurate.  I essentially “copied” my entire Acadian family from potentially erroneous public trees and never looked back.  Although my newer entries are sourced, a visit to Stephen A. White, at Moncton University’s Centre d’Études Acadiennes [Center for Acadian Studies] in 2014,  revealed a number of errors. I am determined to start from scratch, and verify that I have all available records beginning with the 30 direct ancestors, connected to my maternal grandmother. This includes her parents, grandparents, g-grandparents and g-g-grandparents.

yvonne roy

To keep the project manageable, I will write of one ancestor each week.

Prior Weeks (click on a name to read the sketch)

Generation 1

Week #1 – Yvonne Marie (Roy) Billings

Generation 2

Week #2 – Pius/Paul Dost Roy

Week #3 –  Marie Laura “Laura” Melanson

Generation 3

Week #4 –  Docité OR Dosithée Roy

Week #5 – Victoire LeBlanc

Week #6 – Magloire Melanson

Week #7 – Ausithe/Osite Dupuis

Generation 4

Week #8 – Joseph Roy/Roi (King)

Week #9 – (Judith) Angélique Belliveau

Week #10 – Georges LeBlanc

Week #11 – Madeleine LeBlanc

Week #12 – Laurent Melanson

13. Pélagie Leger

Michael Melanson’s book, Melanson-Melancon: The Genealogy of an Acadian and Cajun Family, does not name Pélagie Leger’s parents, but mentions a birth date of 10 May 1833 in New Brunswick, likely taken from the 1901 census.

Many in cyberspace say that Pélagie, is the daughter of Jean Léger and Henriette Cormier, born 23 Jan 1823, Memramcook. It seems likely this Pélagie was single and buried in Saint Anselme, 1 March 1898, age 76. Parents are not mentioned, but the age at death implies a birth year of about 1822.

Pélagie, daughter of Pierre Léger and Henriette Cormier, born 13 May 1833 (very close to the date in the 1901 census), baptized 28 May 1833 in Barachois is likely our Pélagie.

When Stephen A. White reviewed my tree last summer, he called out several issues but made no mention of errors in this line.

[Yes, the spine of the image reads “Bouctouche”; according to Facebook researchers and Acadian genealogist/researcher Lucie LeBlanc Consentino (website here) in digitizing the parish registers, Jean-Pierre Pepin, somehow mixed up the spine image from Barachois to Bouctouche. From what I understand, this effects Drouin records dated 1812-1838. has them indexed correctly as Barachois].

Pelagie birth

When Pélagie married in Memramcook, in 1853, she was said to be “of Dorchester”.  Thus the 1851 census further corroborates this set of parents, as there is a Pélagie residing in the household of “Peter” and “Oriette” Leger, in Shediac Parish, very close to her future husband’s family (the Legers are on page 43, the Melansons on page 46). Since Firmin Melanson received a land grant in 1838 at Dorchester Crossing, we can likely assume both families were enumerated at “Dorchester” in 1851 and still resided there at the time of the marriage two years later.

index card Melanson
Index card from the office of Stephen A. White


1851 census and siblings


Also in the household of “Peter” and “Oriette” Leger  in 1851, are a 22 year-old-son Joseph and a 15-year-old daughter Rosalie.

A Joseph born to Pierre Léger and Henriette Cormier was also baptized in Barachois, just 5 years before Pélagie, in 1828.  It mentions that Pierre being a farmer of Memramcook.


A Rosalie born to Pierre Léger and Henriette Cormier was also baptized in Barachois, just 3 years after Pélagie, in 1836; (record here); both further evidence that I have the correct Pélagie.

Other siblings named in this census include Henriette #2, Laurent, Modeste, Osite, Joseph and Casimir.

In time, I hope to identify all of her siblings.  Baptisms in Memramcook include Marie, Henriette #1, Marguerite, Laurent, Modeste and a child who was not given a name (the image references are from, big thank you to Sébastien Robert who is working on indexing these records with the inclusion of parent’s names, he hopes to have an index online by year end!):

Leger Cormier kids

Of these, only Laurent and Modeste were included in the 1851 census.  Henriette #1 and the unnamed child died young. I haven’t found Marie or Margurite’s death or marriage (neither was with the family in 1851).  The Osite, Casmir and Henriette #2, all included in the 1851 census, have not been located in other records.

Something to work on before I get to the sketches of Pierre Léger and Henriette Cormier!

Pélagie’s Later Years

Pélagie married Laurent Melanson on Monday, 18 Jan 1853, at Memramcook; witnesses were Simon Léger & Apollonie Melanson (likely Laurent’s sister born about 1834).

marriage laurent & pelagie

Known children include: Maximin, Nazaire, Rosalie, Olive, Alexandre, Maglorie #1, Maglorie #2, Osite, Pierre, Madeline, Patrice, Marie-Exilda and Zelica.  Lineages of these children are included in Michael Melanson’s book, so I won’t add them here.  However if you are a cousin and would like to share your line, I would love to add you to my database! Please write!

Pélagie is included in the 1871  & 1881 censuses in the Shediac district, likely Dorchester Road, Scoudouc [see Laurent’s sketch].  Her husband Laurent died on 14 Sep 1881 in Scoudouc and was buried there 16 Sept 1881.

In 1891, Pélagie’s occupation is listed in the census as “general housekeeping”, she is a 56 year old widow, living on her deceased husband’s farm in Shediac Parish, likely Dorchester Road, with her son Magloire listed as head of household.  Also residing there is Magloire’s wife and Pélagie’s children Pierre, Osite, Madeline, Marie-Exilda and Zelica.


By 1901, Pélagie, her four unmarried daughters Rose, Magdeline, Marie and Zelica, and two granddaughters (children of Magloire’s, who’s wife had died) Laura and Melesse are residing together on the family farm now run by her 27-year-old unmarried son, Pierre, at Dorchester Road. Next door (or close by) was Magloire’s deceased wife’s brother Phillas Dupuis, his wife, children and his mother, Nathalie (Boudreau) Dupuis. Other Melansons and Dupuis lived nearby, likely all related. Pélagie’s son Magloire’s whereabouts are unknown in the 1901 census year.

Scoudouc included the community of Dorchester Crossing which in 1898 was a farming and lumbering settlement with 1 post office, 1 sawmill, 1 grist mill and a population of 250.

1901 Laura

In 1911, Pélagie continued to reside on the farm with her now widowed son Pierre and her six year old grandson, Joel.  The location of the farm is further described by the census enumerator as at Malakoff in Scoudouc.


Malakoff Road map

Pélagie died on 11 Oct 1918 in Malakoff, Scoudouc, age 87, of pneumonia after a seven day illness.

death Pélagie

My Acadian 30 – week #12, Laurent Melanson


In 2007, I joined  It never occurred to me that online, unsourced trees were inaccurate.  I essentially “copied” my entire Acadian family from potentially erroneous public trees and never looked back.  Although my newer entries are sourced, a visit to Stephen A. White, at Moncton University’s Centre d’Études Acadiennes [Center for Acadian Studies] in 2014,  revealed a number of errors. I am determined to start from scratch, and verify that I have all available records beginning with the 30 direct ancestors, connected to my maternal grandmother. This includes her parents, grandparents, g-grandparents and g-g-grandparents.

yvonne roy

To keep the project manageable, I will write of one ancestor each week.

Prior Weeks (click on a name to read the sketch)

Generation 1

Week #1 – Yvonne Marie (Roy) Billings

Generation 2

Week #2 – Pius/Paul Dost Roy

Week #3 –  Marie Laura “Laura” Melanson

Generation 3

Week #4 –  Docité OR Dosithée Roy

Week #5 – Victoire LeBlanc

Week #6 – Magloire Melanson

Week #7 – Ausithe/Osite Dupuis

Generation 4

Week #8 – Joseph Roy/Roi (King)

Week #9 – (Judith) Angélique Belliveau

Week #10 – Georges LeBlanc

Week #11 – Madeleine LeBlanc

12.  Although there are a few inconsistencies, it is likely  that Laurent Melanson, was the son of Firmin Melanson and Barbe Richard, and was baptized on 18 Jul 1819 at Memramcook, Westmorland, New Brunswick, Canada, aged about one and a half months.  His godparents were Romain Melanson and Apolline LeBlanc.

Laurent birth

Laurent marriage


The 1851 census of Shediac Parish does include a son, “Lorong”, residing with Firmin Melanson, however his  age of seventeen, is not in line with the recorded baptism of the Laurent born to Firmin Melanson and Barbe Richard on 18 Jul 1819 at Memramcook (he would be 32 in 1851).  The 1861, 1871 census and his 1881 death record for Laurent in this same parish do not concur either; only the 1881 census lists an age appropriate to be the child recorded in the baptism. His marriage does not record the names of his parents.  I initially surmised that the Laurent baptized at Memramcook died, and a second son, for whom a baptismal record does not survive, was given the same name (a common practice).  However, we do not know to whom the census taker spoke; perhaps a step-mother who did not know the ages of the children, I believe it is a possibility that the census information is inaccurate, especially since the ages of Laurent’s siblings also seem to be misreported in 1851.

Rosalie Melanson’s (likely Laurent’s sister) 1859 death is recorded in Scoudouc. She is named as the 30 year old daughter of Firmin (record here).

Rosalie death

This lines up pretty closely with the Rosalie born to Firmin Melanson and Barbe Richard in Memramcook in 1827, 32-years earlier (record here)

Rosalie birth

Using Michael Melanson’s book as a basis, it seems that the name Firmin Melanson was unusual. Thus, if the Rosalie born to Firmin Melanson and Barbe Richard in Memramcook, died unmarried in Scoudouc, then it is likely that the entire family relocated to Scoudouc and my Laurent of Scoudouc was the same Laurent born to this couple in Memramcook.

A land transaction occurred between the years 1848 and 1858 (book MM page 397), where a “Ferman” and “Lorang” Melanson sold land in Shediac to the Roman Catholic Congregation.  Thus, further proving a connection in Westmorland of the two Melanson men with names similiar to Firmin and Laurent.   Although has the land deed indexes online for Westmoreland County back to 1785, the images of the deeds date only from 1870 forward.  Between 1830 and 1883 there are many transactions for Lorang, Lorang F., Laurent, Laurent F. and Laurent R. Melanson in Shediac, Scoudouc and Dorchester.  There is also one transaction in Aboujagane.  Although it is unlikely that these deeds would name a parent, they would reveal more of Laurant’s life and his relationships (and whether there were multiple men of that name in the area), I would like to examine these land deeds; they are likely available on Microfilm at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick.   I plan to visit myself next year and/or hire a local researcher.

Microfilms related to Westmorland land deeds held at the FHL in Salt Lake City “Index to folders 58-60, 1764-1848; Deeds, folder 58” film #862073  and Deeds, folders 59-60 film # 862074 may hold additional information.  Some probate records for Westmorland County are also held at the FHL (here); since Firmin and Laurant likely left estates, there are perhaps probate documents.  I am visiting Salt Lake City in January 2016 and will examine those records.

I contacted Michael Melanson, genealogist and author of: Melanson-Melancon: The Genealogy of an Acadian and Cajun Family, to ask for help.  Michael’s book, documents the lives of nineteen Laurent Melanson’s, seven of whom were born between 1807 and 1829.  Just one appears in Scoudouc.  Additionally, he names only one Firmin Melanson born in the time frame to be the father of Laurant named in the baptismal record. He died in Scoudouc, 30 August 1858.

Michael’s response to my query  follows (published with his permission):

Unfortunately, all my notes on the Melansons are “archived” in the basement
– lots and lots of boxes and I don’t recall the exact method I used to
determine Laurent’s father was Firmin Melanson. However, I can tell you how
I would begin to do so.

When doing a surname genealogy, it’s done geographically. As a researcher,
you get to know the community quite well, which helps to weed out and see
beyond erroneous information.

Firmin Melanson received a land grant of 180 acres at Scoudouc in 1838,
where he moved his family and started a farm. Earlier, his father, David,
and three of his brothers had received land grants at Scoudouc, as well. By
1861, Firmin was deceased and his farm had been divided among his sons.

In 1861, as the census taker went house to house in Scoudouc, here’s the
order of Melanson families he visited: house no. 19 Jean  Melanson, no. 20
Thaddée Melanson, no. 21 Frank Melanson, no. 22 Raphaël Melanson, no. 23
Laurent Melanson, no. 24 Joseph Melanson. Five of these six men were
Firmin’s sons. Frank was his nephew. Using the Scoudouc parish registers,
subsequent census records, etc., the pieces begin to come together.

As you know, Acadian genealogical research is often not done in the
conventional way ;-)

scoudouc laurent-land1

The Life of Laurent Melanson

Known siblings of Laurent included: Joseph (b. 11 Mar 1814), Raphael (b. 3 Mar 1816), Thaddee (16 Sep 1821), Jean (b. 8 Apr 1824), Rosalie (b. abt Mar 1827 at Memramcook and died 13 April 1859 and was buried at Scoudouc) and Apolline (b. abt 1834).

Laurent’s mother died between 1834, the date of her last known child’s birth and 1843 the year he remarried to Marguerite Leger. Marguerite also died, and Firmin married third Marguerite Babineau in 1850 as per “La généalogie des trente-sept familles hôtesses des « Retrouvailles 94 » by Stephen A. White:

9. DAVID MELANSON (à Pierre à Charles à Charles), m (1) MARGUERITE LE BLANC. Enfants :

vii. Firmin, n v 1787; m (1) Grande-Digue 12 oct 1812 Barbe RICHARD (Joseph & Marguerite LeBlanc); m (2) Grande-Digue 1 août 1843 Marguerite LÉGER (Charles & Apolline Bourque); m (3) Memramcook 3 sept 1850 Marguerite BABINEAU (Jean & Françoise LeBlanc); d Scoudouc 30 août 1858.

In 1851, Laurent, age 17 (not accurate if he was born in 1819? – he should be 32) was enumerated with his father, a Farmer, his stepmother Marguerite Babineau and siblings Raphael (20? – he should be 35), Rosalie (15? – she should be 24) and Apollonie (11? – she should be 17), in Shediac parish, likely Dorchester or Dorchester Road.

1851 census

Laurent married Pélagie Leger on Monday, 18 Jan 1853, at Memramcook; they are recorded as being of Dorchester (Shediac parish), witnesses were Simon Léger & Apollonie Melanson (likely Laurent’s sister born about 1834).

marriage laurent & pelagie

Known children include: Maximin, Nazaire, Rosalie, Olive, Alexandre, Maglorie (1), Maglorie (2), Osite, Pierre, Madeline, Patrice, Marie-Exilda and Zelica. Known lineages of these children are included in Michael Melanson’s book, so I won’t add them here.  However if you are a descendant of Firmin and Barbe and would like to share your line, I would love to add you to my database! Please write!

In 1861 Laurent is a Farmer, age 27 [not accurate if he was born in 1819? – he should be 42], residing in an area known as Dorchester Road, in the parish of Shediac, with his wife and four young children Maximin, Alexander [Nazaire ?], Rosalie and Olive.

1861 census Laurent

In 1871, Laurent was enumerated, in the Shediac district (likely Dorchester Road) as a Farmer, age 44 [not accurate if he was born in 1819? – he should be 52], .  Neither Laurent or his wife could read or write.  Only their son, 17-year-old Nazaire is listed as being in school.  Children living with the couple include: Nazaire, Rose, Olive, Alexander, Mack [Maglorie], Osite, Peter [Pierre] and Madeline.

1871 laurent

In 1870, 21 residents of the village died, most from consumption (tuberculosis).  There were two Melanson’s listed, an infant and a four-year old, likely related; schedule here.

Laurent owned 100 acres of land,  80 of which was improved and included one dwelling house and one barn/stable.  He had one plow or cultivator.  The family had one horse over three years old, one milk cow and one swine/pig.  They produced twenty pounds of butter and twenty yards of homemade cloth/flannel.

They dedicated one acre to producing twenty-five bushels of buckwheat.  Another acre produced 150 bushels of potatoes.  Six acres were dedicated to producing the hay crop (six tons of 2,000 pound bundles of 16 pounds of hay), one bushel flax-seed and ten pounds of flax or hemp.

Laurent seemed to be involved in the lumber business, the farm produced 1,300 cubic feet square of timber and 100 standard spruce and other logs and ten cords of firewood.

Laurent 1871 census

In 1881, Laurent was enumerated, in the Shediac district (likely Dorchester Road) as a Farmer, age 63 [first census with an accurate age?]. Children living with the couple included: Alexander, Maglorie, Olive, Osite, Pierre, Madeline and Zelica.

1881 census Laurent

Children not included in any census were Maglorie (1) born 11 Oct 1860 and baptized in Scoudouc 28 Oct 1860, he died 24 Apr 1861 and is buried at Scoudouc; Patrice, born about 1873, he died 7 May 1875, age two years and was buried at Scoudouc; and Marie-Exilda born 5 Feb 1877 and baptized 3 March 1877 in Scoudouc, she likely died young.

Laurent died on 14 Sep 1881 in Scoudouc, Westmorland, New Brunswick, Canada and was buried there 16 Sept 1881.  A stone has not been located in the St Jacques, Scoudouc Cemetery. The record appears to say that he was 64, the baptismal record would make him 62 (thanks to a reader for the translation!).

Laurent Melanson death

An Underutilized Treasure! Spread the Word!!

A few months ago, my husband accepted a new job and relocated to the Washington, D.C. area, giving me the opportunity to explore the genealogical treasures held at the Library of Congress, DAR Library and the National Archives (NARA).

One underutilized “treasure” is the newly opened Innovation Hub at NARA.

It is a place where you scan the documents of our ancestors, held at NARA, for FREE! Once scanned, you keep a digital copy for yourself, then the NARA folks put your scans on their website where anyone can access them for FREE!

I visited yesterday and the room was empty.  It seems the word hasn’t gotten out yet; everyone is still standing in long lines on the public side of the building to see the Declaration of Independence. While that is also cool, it is not as cool as touching your own gg-grandfather’s pension file! or some other original document held in the Archives.

They accept groups (any 8th grade teachers or genealogical societies planning an outing?). If you are visiting as a family or solo you can pull/scan documents related to your own family or simply help scan “The Box of the Month”.  What better history lesson for your kids or grandkids (kids do have to be age 14+; exceptions require prior approval of research room management).

The process is simple.

  • Head to the researcher door at the Archives (on the opposite side of the building from the public entrance – on Pennsylvania Avenue, directly across the street from the Yellow/Archives Metro Station).
  • After you get through Security, walk straight ahead, into the ground floor research room.
  • Watch a quick Researcher Orientation Presentation (preview here) then go to the desk and get your Researcher Card (valid for a year).
  • Find the records you wish to scan with the help of the Archives staff, and put in a pull request (pulls Mon-Fri, 10:00, 11:00, 1:00, 2:00 & 3:00; no pulls on Saturday).  When you submit the request, tell them that you want the records delivered to the Innovation Hub.
  • Go to lunch (lots of great places in the area) or explore the free databases available at NARA like and Fold3.
  • About 45 minutes after your pull time, head to the Innovation Hub (also on the main floor next to the research room).
  • The staff in the Hub will help you scan.  The process is simple – first fill out a form that tells what is in your file (to help when they later put the file online); select a name for your file; line each page up on the scanner and press the scan button; return the file to Archives staff’; copy the files to your flash drive  (don’t forget to bring one!).

Please spread the word of this incredible new service available at no cost to all of us (which also will help to get these wonderful documents online FREE to others)!! Read more here.

What can you find?  LOTS of really COOL stuff!!  Here are a few finds from yesterday’s visit:

Inside a pension file, was a marriage record for Robert Humphreys and Sarah E. Carpenter, dated 1860.


Also in the file was a document detailing the birth of their child, Frank, signed by the mid-wife who helped deliver him.  Really cool!  Information that you would not find elsewhere!


A card for Pren Metham giving his age, occupation, birthplace, description and list of his promotions.


And a card listing briefly describing his military service (which could lead to other records such as medical records related to his stay at Hamburgh Hospital, Tennessee).


So what are you waiting for!  Plan your visit today!!


A Reader asks: Thanks for the kick to get me down there! How did you prepare? I haven’t “worked” their files yet.


My Family Owned Wall Street!!!! or Not :-(


Haines Family Lore

Family lore sometimes gets jumbled –  like the “telephone game” we played as children – one person whispers a message to another, which is passed through a line of people until the last player announces the message to the entire group. Errors typically accumulate in the whispers, so the statement announced by the last player differs significantly, and often amusingly, from the one told by the first, but might hold a grain of truth.  The game is a metaphor for cumulative error, or more generally, for the unreliability of human recollection.

A daughter, Annie Elizabeth (Haines) Morell (b. 1865- d. 1960; New Brunswick), of my 3rd-g-grandfather, John Hains, left a historical account of the Haines origins.  Within the transcription, my notes are within brackets [ ], as those points are not addressed in the blog post.

The first of our forebears Joseph Haines who came to America between the year 1620-1650 was a Dutchman a native of Amsterdam, Holland. He belonged to a firm of rope makers and incidentally it was he who brought the rope making industry to America and I am told that somewhere in the Haines family there is a piece of the first rope made in America. [These Haines men were certainly not the first ropemakers in America, nor does it seem they took part in bringing the industry to America. From the The West End Museum, Boston: …Just a decade after settlement in 1630, Boston had established its first shipyard big enough to launch a 160-ton merchant vessel, the Trial. At the same time, the rope-making industry grew right along with Boston’s nautical fortunes. From the mid-17th century to the end of the 19th century, the rope-making industry thrived in Boston…].

Young Haines had been sent with a cargo of merchandise (presumably rope) to England and while crossing the channel was captured by a French privateer but before they were towed into France an English man-o-war scooped down and capture both vessels and took them to England.

Those were the days of the press gang when men were sand-bagged or shanghaid and taken on board vessels. This was one of the methods of recruiting their navy and merchant marines. Young marines fell into the hands of the press gang and was taken on board a vessel ready to sail for the colonies namely America.

However on there return voyage when about a mile from land young Haines sprang overboard one night and swam back to land. He made his way to New Amsterdam as New York was then called as it was settled by the Dutch. He was given or took a section of land on Manhattan, he married a girl named Margaret Burne from Northern Ireland and raised a family. When the family was well grown he wished to go back to Holland to visit his old home and in order to defray expenses he borrowed money from one Edward Beaugardes a Protestant Dominick with the agreement that it would be repaid with a certain amount of money and a bushel of wheat per annum.  However the boat on which he sailed either going or coming was lost at sea so Joseph Haines never returned to America.

Eventually Beaugardes married the widow [Margaret] and it was (her) he (Beaugardes) who built the first Trinity Church in New York on what was originally Joseph Haines land.

My great grand father Joseph Haines was a United Empire Loyalist and came to Saint John with the Loyalists in 1783. He was a sergeant in the New York volunteers and being honorably discharged from the army was given a grant of land on the river Keswick and it was there that my grandfather Joseph Haines and my father John Haines were born [strong evidence of her father’s birthplace, as she likely heard this from him].  My grandfather married Annie Boone a daughter of William Boone who was also a Loyalist and a brother of Daniel Boone the celebrated Indian Scout and pioneer [Daniel Boone was born in Pennsylvania; he is not a brother to our William Boone, whose life was documented here, I have not found a connection between these Boone families, although it is possible they had the same origins in England].

When great grand father Joseph came with the Loyalists he brought with him a niece Charlotte Haines  as well as a daughter Elizabeth. Charlotte married William Peters and their daughter married a Tilley and she was Sir Leonard Tilley’s grandmother [historians do not know much of Charlotte’s early life and whether she was connected to our Haines, but the 10-year old who arrived in 1783, likely with her Uncle David, and the story of her slipper, later titled her as one of New Brunswick’s famous Loyalists; she was the grandmother of Tilley, a Canadian politician and one of the Fathers of Confederation who descended from Loyalists on both sides of his family – her story, likely part fairy tale, from The New Brunswick Reader, 16 May 1898, here and another examining facts here]. 

Elizabeth married a man named Whitman and their daughter married a man named Henington so she was chief justice Henington’s grandmother [there is no name similar to Henington on the list of New Brunswick Chief Justices; it is unknown if Joseph had a daughter Elizabeth, she is not named in his will].

The Haines family has always been noted for their honesty and their loyalty to church and state; open handed and charitable. Perhaps that is why the majority of them were always poor.

Annie Elizabeth Morell (nee Haines)

FullSizeRender (1)

Land on Wall Street? 

My third g-grandfather John Hains (Haines) in 1895 writes to his daughter Lizzie (who in 1890 resided in Chicago and in 1900 Boston and was half-sister of Annie Elizabeth Morell), that according to a New York Lawyer visiting Fredericton, York, New Brunswick, Canada in 1895, an estate valued at three hundred million, in the business part of New York, belonged to the Hains!  Our family would be entitled to a portion, if they could prove their heirship!!!!


East Boston
15 March 1895
Mrs Lizzie Higgeland

Dear Daughter

I take this opportunity to let you know that we are all well at present and hope to find you in good health.  I had a letter from George since writing to you and also one from Mary Stevens.  We had several visits from Alexander in one of them he took me to Gloucester on a visit where I enjoyed myself greatly he laid off for a week. I hope to visit Concord before going home I expect to leave here about the first of May as that will be time to repair my fences I think that after I get the hay cut I will return to Boston. We are having what they call a cold blustering weather here we had quite a snow storm here on Saturday but the weather is clear but windy today.

This Hains Estate is now engaging our families at present it seems that a Lawyer from New York has been to Fredericton looking up the Heirs to put in their claims he says that the estate is worth three Hundred Millions as it takes all the business part of New York but I am in doubt if we can prove our Heirship. They have the records down to Grandfather but possibly some of the old families in Nova Scotia may have kept the records.

So no more at present – I remain your affectionate father.

John Hains

letter page 1letter page 2

Turns out there was a land dispute in the early 1700’s involving 62 acres, that was granted by a representative of Queen Anne of England to Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan, at the intersection of Wall Street (Trinity Church has since sold off much of the land and today holds only fourteen acres inclusive of 5.5 million square feet of commercial space).

trinity church

The case is a subject of many books, newspaper accounts and other publications (just Google “Anneke Jans”):

In 1636 Roelof Jansen was granted thirty-one morgans (62 acres) of land in New Amsterdam which included parts of today’s Greenwich Village, So-Ho and Tribeca in New York City (note that the land did not actually include land which subsequently became Trinity Church).


Soon after arrival in New Amsterdam, Roelof died and his widow, known as Anneke Jans, inherited the land. She married second, Domine Bogardus and the land became known as the Bogardus farm. Bogardus reportedly drowned in 1647, off the coast of Wales, shipwrecked in a violent storm.

Anneke’s will mentions the acreage in Manhattan.  In 1671, her living children conveyed the land to Governor Lovelace for a “valuable consideration” (her son, Cornelius, was deceased).

Around the time of the Revolution, a great-grandson of Cornelius, laid claim to one sixth of then called “church farm”. He claimed Cornelius, had not agreed to the sale; therefore, one sixth of the land was due to his heirs.  Lore claims he took possession of a building on the property, built a fence around it, which the church had burned.  Later, the church won the case and he moved away.

In 1830, a John Bogardus, filed a case to recover the land. He failed; but the case fills 130 pages in the 4th volume of Sandford’s Chancery Reports, eessentially saying there was no case, people can not question property rights from 150 years in the past, when America was just a developing nation, otherwise no land would be secure.

Descendants of Anneke’s sued repeatedly and unsuccessfully for decades.

Plenty of dishonest attorneys, genealogists and others continued to encourage “descendants” to contribute to the costs of the heir association suits and likely collected millions from countless, very gullible, “heirs” who expected to be awarded millions in a lawsuit (even creating fictitious pedigrees to convince folks with the same surnames that they were related).  As recently as 1920, descendants were still being swindled (26 January 1920, Philadelphia Inquirer Page: 14):


Initially I surmised that our early surname “Hans” sounded a lot like “Jans”.  Turns out none of the descendants used the surname Jans or Jansen.  The children of Anneke  and Roelofs Jansen/Jans took the patronym Roelofs or Roelofszen as a family name and the children of Anneke  and Domine Bogardus used Bogardus.

It is plausible that the Haines descended from Anneke’ through some other line as they owned land in the same vicinity, about 40 miles from Wall Street, but it is just as likely that the New York lawyer who appeared in Fredericton was a con artist.  The positive in the story is that the letter written by John Haines and the historical account written by his daughter further strengthens the case that John Hains had family ties to Fredericton (it is likely his birthplace – see blog here).

The “Real” Haines Story As Written by Others

Our earliest known ancestor, and likely my 7th-great grandfather, was Godfrey Hans (Hains/Haines).

Estelle Hobby Haines inherited original family records (which I am attempting to track down) placing Godfrey on a tract of land known as Harrisons Purchase, in Westchester County, New York. Her historical account of the family was published in April 1949 – “The Haines Family of Rye and Bedford,” The Westchester County Historical Bulletin, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 45-55.  In the article, Estelle thanks Aunt Sarah Haines for preserving the information of the Haines ancestors, a written record passed on to successive generations, given to her husband in 1885.

Excerpt (to read the full article click HainesArticle).

Godfrey Haines, my first ancestor to come to this country, was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1675. When in his country’s service, he was taken prisoner by the Turks and with them traveled in sight of Jerusalem. They liberated him for some unknown reason, perhaps because of his youth. After his return to Germany, he was pressed into service again. The fleet to which he belonged was bound for South America. He was shipwrecked and picked up by a British man-of-war which came into New York Harbour. He found that they intended to make him fight against his country and so decided to escape. Accordingly one foggy morning he left ship, being a good swimmer, and started for land. He came to shore at Kip’s Bay (East 36th street) which was some distance from where the man-of-war lay at anchor. He went to a log house but there being only a woman at home and he in scant attire, he was obliged to retreat. Later he returned, found the woman’s husband at home, was supplied with a suit of clothes and directed to a Mr. DeLancey who was in need of a ship rigger and immediately put to work. His knowledge of rope making proved of much value. He was furnished with the means to commence business by Col. Caleb Heathcote, who became much interested in him. He became very prosperous and married a lady whose father was said to be a British Lord and who had come to this county with the Heathcote family.

[Godfrey is indeed first mentioned as “ropemaker” in a deed dated 1709/10 for a home lot in Mamaroneck, Westchester Co., New York, that he purchased of John Bloodgood, carpenter, of Flushing, Queens County, NY. – Westchester County Land Office, Liber, D, page 49]

Settling in the Town of Mamaroneck in 1709, Godfrey Haines moved to Rye five years later. He and his descendants became rope makers and large property owners on Budd’s Neck and in other parts of Rye. Their earliest extant deed is one of my treasured possessions and declares in beautiful script:–

“To all People to whom these Presents shall come Greeting Whereas James DeLancy and Anne his wife and Lewis Johnston and Martha his wife did for a valuable Consideration on the fourteenth day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and forty, grant, bargain and sell unto Godfrey Hains in fee simple all that certain Tract or parcell of Land situate lying and being within a certain large Tract of Land called and known by the name of Harrisons Purchase in the County of Westchester – butted and bounded as follows that is to say Beginning at a Stake with a heap of Stones about it in the middle Line of said Patent so called Thence running south by marked Trees and David Heights to a red Oak Tree in said middle Line marked Thence Westerly by marked Trees between the Premisses hereby granted and the other part of said Lott sold to Samuel Miller to a White Oak Tree marked standing in the road leading towards the White Plains, Thence along the East side of the said road as the same runs to a heap of Stones which is a corner Bounds between the Premisses herby conveyed and one other part of the said Lott sold to Caleb Purdy Thence by marked Trees between said Purdy Land and the Premisses hereby conveyed to the first mentioned Stake where it began containing within the said Bounds by Estimation two hundred Acres be the same more or less-And Whereas Matthew Hains of the County of Westchester aforesaid Yeoman one of the sons of the aforesaid Godfrey Haines is now Intitled to part of the Lands contained within the Bounds herein before particularly mentioned and described. Now Know all men by these Presents that David Johnston of the City of New York, Gentlemen Heir at Law to David Jamison the surving Patentee for Harrisons Purchase afoesaid-hath released and forever Quit Claimed and by these Presents for himself and his heirs doth remise release and forever quit Claimed-unto the said Matthew Hains(in his full quiet and peaceable possession now being) and to his heirs and Assigns foever-“

Upon his death Godfrey Haines left each of his six sons a large farm [in the article, six sons and three daughters are named – Godfrey, James, Daniel, Joseph, Solomon, Mathew, Mollie, Tamar and Eleanor]. He and his wife are buried in the Blind Brook Cemetery in Rye. Their inscriptions read “In Memory of Godfrey Haines who departed this LIfe July 22, 1768 aged 93 years. In Memory of Anne wife of Godfrey Haines who departed this Life Feb’ry 19, 1758 aged 68 years”.

Godfrey grave


The History Of Rye, NY  Chronicle of a Border Town Westchester County, New York Including Harrison and White Plains to 1788, by Charles W. Baird New York, names only three potential sons:



I. 1. Godfret or Godfrey Hanse, or Hains (1), first mentioned 1717, came over from Germany about that time, and settled on the lower part of Budd’s Neck. He was a rope-maker by trade, like many of his descendants, whose ‘rope-walks’ were numerous in that part of the town. He died July 22, 1768, aged ninety-three. (Milton Cemetery) Godfrey, junior, was his son, and probably Joseph and Solomon.

1. Godfrey Hains (2), son of Godfrey (1), called junior, 1734, had land on Budd’s Neck, part of which is now (1870) comprised in the Jay property. He was drowned in the East River in 1766. He had four sons at least: Godfrey, James, Daniel and Solomon.
Gilbert was probably another son.
2. Joseph Hains (2), probably a son of Godfrey (1), was a rope-maker, and in 1741 bought a farm of seventy acres on Budd’s Neck below the country road and Westchester old path, ‘beginning at a rock within a few feet to the westernmost of the school house.’
3. Solomon Hains (2), perhaps a son of Godrey (1), had land on Budd’s Neck in 1739.

The book reads:

By the middle of the last century, however, we find quite a variety of trades carried on in Rye : such as those of wheelwrights,cordwainers, carpenters, saddlers, tailors, hatters, weavers, ropemakers, and the like. We are not to suppose that the persons so designated were employed exclusively in these occupations. They were generally farmers, who joined some kind of handicraft to their ordinary business, particularly in winter. The weaver’s or wheelwright’s shop was no unusual appendage to a farm-house a century ago.

As in all old-time rural places, these occupations were very generally pursued by the same families age after age. In one branch of an ancient family, for instance, the designation “house-carpenter” occurs through as many as four successive generations. Another family is said almost to have covered the lower part of Budd’s Neck with its “rope-walks”….


Most ropewalks were set up outdoors, sometimes underneath a wooden shelter.

The ropewalk method is described in the book “Handbook of Fibre Rope Technology” (the illustration comes from the same source):

“At one end, there is the jack, which has three hooks that can be rotated. At the other end, there is a carriage with a single, rotatable hook. In stage one, three sets of yarns are pulled off bobbins and are held along the length of the ropewalk.

In stage 2, an assistant turns the crank handle of the jack so that the yarns are twisted into strands by the rotation of the three hooks on the jack. Twist causes the lengths to contract, so that the carriage has to move along the ropewalk, under the control of the ropemaker.

In stage 3, the hook on the carriage rotates in order to twist the strands into the rope. In the usual mode of operation, the initial strand twist is made as high as possible without kinking. When the single hook on the carriage is released, the high torque in the strands causes the hook to rotate, and this, in turn, cause the three strands to twist together and form the rope. The ropemaker controls the production of the rope by continually pushing back its form of formation to give a tight structure. Meanwhile, the assistant continues to rotate the crank to make up for the loss of twist in the strands.”

Principles of making a three strand rope



Direct Line Ancestor

loyalist pedigree

Our family likely descends from Godfrey’s son Joseph and his wife Margaret.  In her account of our family history, Annie Elizabeth (Haines) Morell, gives Margaret’s maiden name as Burns.  In 1750, a Margaret Haines nee Burns acknowledged the signature of Alexander Burns, on a deed, in Rye.  Based on a search of the county’s records there seems to be just one Margaret Haines in that time frame, in that place, thus she was likely a Burns.

Margaret Hains

Joseph died in 1783.

Joseph death 1793Joseph death 1793 2

Just after his death, in a deed dated 1784, Margaret names her sons Alexander, Joseph, William and Peter (in her will she also names a daughter Ann Dorothy).

margaret's sons

We likely descend from Joseph and Margaret’s son, Joseph [who I will refer to as junior to separate the two], who married Elizabeth Saunders, 11 Sep 1767, in New York [the marriage bond records were heavily damaged in the State Capitol fire of 1911; while the bond of Elizabeth and Joseph’s survived, it was thoroughly singed around the edges.  The archives were able to reproduce a somewhat legible copy…”].

haines Saunders marriage
Joseph Haines marriage

Another document places Joseph (a farmer) Joseph Hains, junior, and a number of other Hains men, in the Rye area in 1771, when a group petitioned for a town fair in Rye, Westchester County so they could sell their goods:


To his Excellency the Right Honble John Earl of Dunmore Commander
in Chief in and over the Province of New York and the
Territories thereon Depending Vice Admiral and Chancellor of
the same,
The Petition of a great Number of the Principal and other Inhabitants in the Town of Rye in the County of West Chester,
Humbly Sheweth,
Whereas by an Act of general Assembly of the Province of New York made many years since, it was Enacted that the said Town of Rye should every year after making of said Act be Entitled to, and have the Benefit of keeping and holding a Fair in said Town of Rye, Once in every year, Viz. in the month of October for selling of all Country Produce and other Effects whatsoever, as by said Act may at large Appear; and Whereas Notwithstanding that the Inhabitants of said Rye never as yet have applied to have the Fair held, as by said Law they had Right; But now Believing the keeping of a Fair as aforesaid in said Town of Rye would be of general Service to said Town, your Petitioners therefore Humbly Pray for the purpose aforesaid, That your Excellency would please to appoint Doctor Ebenezer Haviland of said Rye to be Governor, and to have full power according to said Act of Assembly, to keep and hold a Fair in said Rye in the month of October next at the time in said

Act Appointed; and your Petitioners as in Duty Bound shall ever Pray Rye, April 8th, 1771.,
Sylvanus Merritt
Isaac Brown, Elijah Weeks
David Brown, Jonathan Brown
Philemon Hallsted , Solomon Purdy
Amos Kniffen , John Hawkins
Nehemiah Kniffen , John Carhartt
Nathaniel Moore , Ezekiel Hallsted
Zebediah Brown , Josiah Burril
Abraham Wetmore, Daniel Brown
William Brown , John Doughty
Gilbert Brundige, Timothy Wetmore
Samuell Tredwell , James Purdy
Roger Park , Joseph Theall
Charles Theall , Gilbert Theall
Joshua Purdy , Obadiah Kniffen
Hachaliah Purdy , James Hains
John Hains , Solomon Gedney
James Mott , Joseph Hains
Alexander Hains , Godfrey Hains
Joseph Hains, Junr
Jotham Wright , Jonathan Gedney
Caleb Gedney,
Isaac Gedney , James Horton
Jonathan Horton , William Ritchie
James Horton Junr , William Sutton
Gilbert Budd , Daniel Strang
Thomas Brown , Henry Carey
James Wetmore , Samuel Haviland
John Kniffin , Hachaliah Brundige
Gilbert Theall Junr , Benjamin Brown

The Revolutionary War had a devastating impact on Rye, even though no battles were fought within its current boundaries. Rye was “neutral ground” between the Patriots in Connecticut and the British in New York. As a result, Rye was subject to marauding and devastation by both sides. Rye’s population was divided between Patriots and Loyalists/Tories, with the Loyalists holding a slight advantage. Feelings ran high on both sides and families often faced divided loyalties.

Joseph Haines, junior, and many other Haines of Westchester were Loyalists; on 11 April 1775 they signed a Declaration with many others in the County of Westchester declaring support to the King (Westchester County, New York, During the American Revolution, Henry Barton Dawson, 1886 – New York, pg 72-73)
booksbooks (1)
Joseph, junior was with the Regiment of the New York Volunteers.  I have not yet fully researched his service; but a short history of the regiment can be found here. He is listed on the Muster Roll of Lieut. Colonel George Turnbull’s Company of New York Volunteers, Savannah, Georgia 29 November 1779. [Future research: Muster rolls for the New York Volunteers may be found in the National Archives of Canada, RG 8, “C” Series, Volumes 1874-1875. The muster roll abstracts can be found in the Ward Chipman Papers, MG 23, D 1, Series I, Volume 25].

Land Taken??
Godfrey’s likely son Joseph, also named as “ropemaker”, with his wife Margaret transacted land as follows:

In a land deed (Westchester County Land Office, dated 12 April 1775, book R, page 136).  An indenture was filed between Peter Ray and Joseph Haines of Rye and Margaret his wife, stating that Alexander Haines of Harrison Purchase and Joseph Haines are bound to Peter by certain obligation in the penal sum of 561 pounds, 8 shillings with condition written for payment of two hundred eighty pounds, eight shillings and six pence with lawful interest to Peter Jay on or before the 12th day of April next, for two certain tracts of land.  One on which Joseph Haines dwells in Rye, which he purchased of Samuel Miller.  The land description mentions the schoolhouse, Westchester Old Path, the land of Joseph Horton, deceased of about 70 acres. The second tract of six additional acres, purchased of John and Ann Guion, adjacent to land he already owned, also adjacent to the land of Henry Griffens, on Budds Neck on the Post Road.

In a second deed (Westchester County Land Office, dated 13 July 1752, book R, page 139), Samuel Miller (remember that name!) and Phebe his wife sell to Joseph Haines for 143 pounds, names the same 70 acres on Budd’s Neck.

In a third deed (Westchester County Land Office, dated 13 July 1752, book R, page 141),  John and Ann Guion his wife sell to Joseph Haines for 20 pounds, names the same six acres on Budd’s Neck.

All three documents were recorded years later, 26 Sep 1814. Why?

It was not unusual for deeds to be filed at later dates. Many executed deeds were held by the family who could not afford or did not wish to pay the filing fees. They were typically recorded when the land was later sold.

Joseph Haines died in Rye in 1793.  Margaret died in 1812 in Rye; she only names her son Peter and daughter Ann Dorothy in her will. The recording was likely due to Margaret’s death so the land could be sold. However, I found no later land transactions for this acreage.

Why weren’t the others named in her will? After the Revolution, her son Joseph junior’s family settled in New Brunswick and Alexander with his wife Clarina and their children in Sissiboo (now Weymouth), Digby County, Nova Scotia, Canada. Nothing is known of her son William.

margaret's death

1867 & 1868 map of the area where the Haines might have resided in Rye/Harrison’s Precinct, Westchester County

There were at least three Haines who were property owners on these maps – J. Haines, George (later map Peter) Haines and D.M. Haines.  Based on later land descriptions, the property in the same area of George/Peter/D. M. Haines likely belonged to my direct ancestors.  It names all the same landmarks as mentioned in the land deeds – it is near a school and the Post Road, there is land owned by Guion (from whom Joseph later purchased six additional acres) and it is on Rye’s Neck, which had previously been called Budd’s Neck. The Miles and Mill families are nearby, the names are close enough in spelling to Miller to suggest a connection (special shout out and thanks to the Rye Historical Society who helped identify the land location!!).

Without tracing the deeds forward, it appears that the property was in the vicinity of what today is Tompkins Avenue, Mamaroneck, New York, between the blocks of Melbourne Ave and Beach Ave.



1868 map

2015 map

Joseph, junior’s Claim
Joseph Junior had land taken from him at the time of the Revolution.  In his claim he names land as “Harrison’s Precinct, Westchester County”,  which he purchased of his brother [Alexander], about 1773; likely the same area where his Grandfather Godfrey owned land [recall that Alexander of Harrison’s Purchase was named in the earlier deed with Joseph and Margaret].  A witness verifies his story and further states: “Joseph had the Character of being very Industrious and supported himself by farming. He and his family were very Loyal”.  Joseph asked for £650 NY Currency and was eventually awarded £60 Sterling and land in New Brunswick.


To The Honourable The Commissioners

appointed to examine the Claims of Persons

who have suffered in their Rights, Properties

& Professions during the late unhappy

dissensions in America, in consequence of

their Loyalty to His Majesty, and

Attachment to the British Government &c.

&c. &c.

Joseph Haynes late of West Chester County in the province of New York now of York

County in the province of New-Brunswick

Most humbly shews

That He has ever been a true and faithful subject to his Majesty, and that in the

beginning of the late dissensions He was persecuted & abused, and he availed himself of

the earliest opportunity to join the British Army. And in August 1776, he effected his

purpose and entered into the Regiment of New-York Volunteers, & served in that Corps

until it was disbanded in October 1783. That your Memorialist owned a comfortable

Farm of the value of Four hundred pounds N. York Cury. and had of his own – Stock –

Farming Utensils & other articles to the amount of Two hundred & fifty pounds – of all

which (in consequence of his joining the British Troops) his Family were dispossessed –

and the same was wasted – or sold by authority – so that your memorialist has never

received a farthing’s benefit therefrom. And he now is reduced to great distress – after

long & faithful services. He therefore humbly hopes that the Honourable Commissioners

will take his case into consideration and grant him leave to attend them in New

Brunswick, & to produce his evidences of the Facts herein alleged. And that they would

afford him such relief as they may think right. And as in duty bound shall pray &c.

Joseph Hains

Fredericton March 28th 1786.


Great Britain, Public Record Office, Audit Office, Class 13, Volume 13, folio 190.

St. Mary’s 15th Jany. 87


I have the Honor to inform the Commissioners through you that from the 15th July to the 20th of October I was on Duty with my Regt. at New York & at Sea and was discharged the 20th – since which Period I have resided in the Parish & County aforesaid.

I have the Honor to be with Great Respect

Your Most Obt.

hum. Ser.

Joseph Haines

Peter Hunter Esq.




St John 20th March 1787

Evidence on the Claim of Joseph Haines

Late of New York

Claimant Sworn

Says he came in 1783, was disbanded in October, w, 26.12 p acre went up the River immediately, staid there all the Winter.

Produces his Discharge from New York Volunteers 10th October 1783.

Lived in Westchester County, joined the British in 1776, enlisted in New York Volunteers, Served during the war.

Had 50 acres in Harrison’s Precinct, Westchester County, purchased about three years before the War of his brother, £6..12 p acre; had a Deed, produces a letter from his Mother in the State of New York mentioning the Deed of his Farm, but she doesn’t send it not having time to take a Copy.

Built a framed House, improved the Estate, about 30 acres clear, values it at £9 p acre.

One William Miller has taken possession of it.  Claimant did not owe him anything.  Says he may pretend some Rights in consequence of a Bond Claim and had given to appear before Congress ___  Miller was Deputy Chairman.

Lost a Mare, 2 colts, 3 Cows, 2 Heifers, Farming utensils, Furniture.


Timothy Witmore Sworn

Says he knows the Claimant’s Farm it was in Harrison Precinct, Witness surveyed it for him about 15 years ago, he bought it of his brother – Remember Claimant continuing his possession of it – Values it at £8 p acre.

A good deal of Meadow, thinks 2/3rd of it were clear.

He had the Character of being very Industrious and supported himself by farming.

He and his family were very Loyal.

Miller was Chairman of the Committee, lived in that Neighborhood, has no doubts but that Miller has it.

page 1 claimpage 2 claimpage 3 claim

amount claimed 2amount claimed 3amount claimed 4amount claimed

Land Grants in New Brunswick

A number of petitions for land were filed by Joseph Haines [copies of the actual grants are on order and will be posted at a later date].  He was awarded at least 242 acres.

Joseph Haines Land Grants

Haines NB Land grant

Haines NB Land grant2

A number of Haines land deeds were also recorded in York County, New Brunswick:

Haines deeds York

William Miller, Who Reportedly Took the Haines Land

The Miller’s and Haines had prior interactions.  Joseph senior,  reportedly bought from Samuel Miller, in 1741, the first Miller family homestead in Rye and then in 1814 purchased land of Samuel Miller on Budd’s Neck [Sept 26 1814; R 139]. There were other land transactions, the families lived in close proximity and were likely friends or acquaintances.

William Miller, however, was notorious (in the eyes of Westchester County Loyalists) Deputy Chairman (later Chairman) of the Westchester County Committee accused of being responsible, with the Thomases, for much of the obnoxious revolutionary actions against Loyalists.

For Example:

The Petition of fifteen Prisoners confined in the Jail at White-Plains, presented by Mr˙ Miller, Deputy Chairman of Westchester County, wherein they represent that they are confined as persons dangerous to the safety of the State, and being desirous of being enlarged, they are willing to bind themselves either to aid in repelling the enemies of the State when necessary, or surrender themselves into the custody of any Jailer, as this or any future Convention or Legislature may direct, was read.

Whereupon Mr˙ Miller was called in and examined as to the said fifteen Prisoners, and testified in regard to them respectively, as follows, viz: Joshua Purdy has never been friendly to the American cause, is a man of influence, and towards whom lenity would be advisable. Gabriel Purdy has acted unfriendly to the cause of America. Caleb Morgan he does not know, but has heard he is a Tory. Of Wm˙ Barker, John McCord, John Bailey, Bartw˙ Haynes, and Joseph Purdy, he knows nothing favourable. Gilbert Horton is a man of no influence. Isaac Browne has been neutral. Josiah Browne says he will join in the defence of the State, and has generally understood that he was a Whig. Edmund Ward he don’ t know. Samuel Merrit has been active against, and Jonathan Purdyhas been publickly inciting others to act against us. And as to Philip Fowler, he is reputed a bad man.

Interesting Developments

(1) A land deed dated 1799 [Westchester County, book M, page 362] shows our Joseph, junior (of New Brunswick) selling about 20 acres of land at Harrison, New York for $500 to Joseph Carpenter.  The deed claims that it is the same land which he purchased of his brother Alexander Haines and wife Clarina on 17 June 1773 [I have not found a copy of the 1773 deed].

What?  This sounds like the land that William Miller reportedly took illegally, on which Joseph filed a claim!

Interesting that William Miller seems to have verified Joseph’s identity (Is that what the last section means? – any lawyers out there?).

Did Joseph really travel from New Brunswick to New York to sell the land? or did Miller illegally sell the land and pocket the cash? What happened to the other 30 acres? (Joseph claimed to own 50? – I have examined William Miller’s deeds in Westchester County from that time period and nothing in Harrison was sold under that name in the late 1700’s/early 1800’s).


(2) Alexander Haines, likely Joseph’s brother (who is called “ropemaker” and named “son of Joseph” – whoop, whoop!) purchased 100 acres in Harrison; Joseph Miller and his wife Tamer, held the mortgage for 687 pounds, ten shillings.  In 1765 Miller claimed the debt had been satisfied (however, the deed was filed eighteen years later 28 Oct 1783 – Book I, pg 193 Westchester).

Had Joseph already left for New Brunswick or was this filed before he left? – his unit disbanded in October 1783 and he says he immediately left for Canada.  Was this deed for the same land that Miller reportedly took from him? In Joseph’s claim he says, “One William Miller has taken possession of it.  Claimant did not owe him anything.  Says he may pretend some Rights in consequence of a Bond Claim and had given to appear before Congress”.



Joseph Haines, junior probate

The will of Joseph Hains, dated 20 March 1827 was filed in the Parish of Douglas, York County,

Early New Brunswick Probate Records 1785-1835
by R Wallace Hale, on page 192

Eldest son Peter £5 and use for life of Lot 18 on Keswick Creek, originally granted to Peter McLARREN, and at his death the Lot to be divided between my grandsons George HAINS and Israel HAINS, the sons of Peter HAINS. Second son Robert use for life of Lot 10 originally granted to Robert McCARGAR, and at his death the Lot to be divided between my grandsons Joseph HAINS and William HAINS, the sons of Peter HAINS, reserving a maintenance for my grand-daughter Jane HAINS, daughter of son Robert. Should Robert’s wife Amy survive him, she to have the privilege of dwelling on Lot 10 while widow. Third son Joseph use of residue of estate for life, and at his death to be divided among the male issue of son Joseph born of the body of Nancy BOONE alias HAINS Wife of my son Joseph. Son Joseph HAINS sole executor. Witnesses: Thomas WHITE, David MOREHOUSE, William Henry Boyer ADAIR.

boone map


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