A Cousin Story – Cecelia “Celia” “Kess” Perry/Parry Stevenson

When my g-grandmother Georgianna (Hughes/Clough) Hall passed in 1964, a Cecelia Stevenson sent condolences from Indianapolis, Indiana.  Next to her name, in my grandmother’s handwriting, was written “relative”.  Something about this intrigued me.  I searched for cousin Cecelia “Celia” (Perry/Parry) Stevenson for years and am finally able to share a small part of her story.


Cecelia “Celia” was born 12 August 1899 in Galeton, Pennslyvania to George Perry/Parry and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Phillips.  She was a first cousin to my g-grandmother, Georgianna.   Georgianna’s mom, Kittie (Perry) Hughes/Clough/Shipman, was a sister to Celia’s father George.

celia's tree

Celia’s mother gave birth to at least eight children (censuses indicate nine), three of whom died in 1891 of diphtheria.  At the time, Celia’s father, had deserted the family, to marry another woman (story here). Her mother’s sister, Miss Alice Phillips, cared for the family. Celia’s mom and eldest brother Daniel, age eight, recovered, but the younger children—George, Alice, and Arthur—died.  When George’s second wife learned he was a bigamist, he disappeared.

By 1893, George and Lizzie reunited and relocated to Minneapolis, Minnesota where their children William “Will” and Elizabeth “Bessie” were born. George’s mother passed in 1896 and her obituary places the family in Oregon (no other evidence places the family there).  By 1897 the family removed to Galeton, Pennsylvania, near George’s sister Cordelia (Perry) Palmer/Spoor, where their last two children, Celia and Frederick “Fred” were born.  By 1910, they were living in Westmoreland, Oneida, New York.

When Celia was thirteen (5 April 1913), her 50 year old mom died in Oriskany, Oneida, New York, cause unknown.

It seems the family then returned to Pennsylvania.  On 30 March 1916, at age sixteen, Celia gave birth to  baby boy  in Williamsport, Lycoming, Pennsylvania. She named him Richard [side note: my Autosomal DNA matches that of Richard’s daughter]. The name of the boy’s father is unknown, but it is possibly something like “Schwartz”.

The boy was adopted by Henry and Jennie Seltz of Galeton, Pennsylvania. Perhaps Celia selected the adoptive family, as they were neighbors to her aunt Cordelia’s step-son, Leland Spoor (she likely thought of Leland as a first cousin; his mother died when he was two and Aunt Cordelia raised him).

By 1920, Celia was a “roomer” in the home of Eugene and Laura McKee in Jamestown, Chautauqua, New York.  She was employed at a garment company as a machine sewer.  On 1 March 1920, she married her fellow roomer, Phillip Lee Kessler, a street car railroad conductor, son of Charles Kessler and Nellie Phillips (no known relation to Celia’s mother). The marriage was short lived; the pair divorced 12 Aug 1921. Despite the divorce, Celia’s nickname “Kess”, stuck for the remainder of her life.

When Celia’s dad passed in 1923, she signed as the informant on his death certificate, listing her residence as Galeton, Pennsylvania.


Her father’s obituary, however names Cincinnati, Ohio as her place of residence.

She was enrolled at the Good Samaritan Nursing School in Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated in 1924.  After graduation, she took a position in the same town as a nurse for a private family, rooming with fellow classmate and good friend, Marie Barlow and a 59-year old widow named Mary Sohngen. The three paid a total of $75/month rent.

Celia next married Lincoln Augustus Stevenson, son of Frank Stevenson and Catharine Freil.  In 1932 they were living in Columbia, South Carolina.  They had a daughter, Mary Cynthia Stevenson, born 12 Sept 1933 in Indiana. She was likely close to Lincoln’s 10 year old son by a prior marriage, Richard Lincoln Stevenson, as he was named in her obituary.

Although Celia and Lincoln were divorced by 1940, she continued to use the name Mrs. Celia K Stevenson for the remainder of her life; Celia appears in the 1940 census as a nurse at St. Francis Hospital in Beech Grove, Marion, Indiana. She worked 48 weeks that year and made a total of $660 (she also received more than $50 from other unnamed sources).  Eight year old Mary Cynthia was not found in 1940, but when her father died in 1950, she was listed as resident of Indianapolis.

Stevenson death

In 1947 Celia’s aunt Alice Phillips (her mother Lizzie’s sister) died. Alice had never married and did not have children.  There was a big court proceeding over her will – there are numerous newspaper notices on Fultonhistory.com with family members arguing over the inheritance – A number of them named “Cecelia Parry Stevenson” as a heir (she was not one of those involved in the suit).

In 1953, Celia served on a panel at St. Vincent’s entitled “The Nurse as the Priest’s Assistant in the Spiritual Care of the Sick”.


In 1954, Celia’s picture was in the local paper, as an attendee at a private duty nurse’s brunch (likely on the far right).


In 1968, she was a prize winner at the Grand Opening of a local shopping center!


Celia died 2 December 1997 in Greenwood, Johnson, Indiana at the age of 98. The inscription on her tombstone reads: “MRS SANTA CLAUS”.  The cemetery office and local historical society could not provide further information about this title.




Celia’s children

  • Son Richard Dykeman Seltz, who she gave up for adoption, married Mary Johnson and had four children. He died 12 March 1996 in Kissimmee, Polk, Florida.

Richard Dykeman Seltz, 79, of 728 Yucatan Court, Poinciana, died March 12. Born in Williamsport, Pa., he moved to Poinciana from Galeton, Pa., in 1986. He was a self-employed glove manufacturer and a member of the Masonic Lodge of Couldersport, Pa., and the Elks Club of Kissimmee. Survivors include his wife, Mary; sons, Richard H., Houston, Texas, Scott J., Chatham, N.J.; daughter, Jeanne Wenzel, Jacksonville, Anne Seltz, Rockville, Md.; eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Fisk Funeral Home, St. Cloud, was in charge of arrangements.

  • Daughter, Cynthia, married a man named Charles Ford and had three children.  She died  9 July 1989 in Sarasota, Florida.

Obituary not found.

  • Stepson Richard Lincoln Stevenson died 19 April 2010 in Sarasota, Florida

Richard Lincoln Stevenson, 87, of Sarasota, formerly of Fort Wayne, Ind., died April 19, 2010. Services will be at 1 p.m. Thursday at Sarasota National Cemetery.

He is survived by his son, Alan; children by marriage Mark and Marian Kennell, Karl and Becky Kennell and Kathleen and Jon Sutter; grandchildren Lydia Mortensen, Michelle Sexton, Erin Stevenson, Alex, Katie and Trevor Kennell; four great-grandchildren, sister Patricia and Ed Epperson, brother Young and Susan Stevenson; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his loving wife, Shirley; a son David; a sister, Cynthia Ford; and a brother, Sherrad Denley.

Richard was just 19 when he enlisted in cadet school and became a World War II pilot flying in the Pacific. He flew a C-47 called “Gooney Bird” as a member of the legendary Jungle Skippers in the 317th Troop Carrier Group, which later became the 375th. He followed his retirement from the Air Force Reserves in 1956 with a 30-year career as an accomplished jeweler and gemologist. He was also an award-winning gardener, who could literally make anything grow, especially his beloved orchids. He will forever be remembered for his stories that touched the hearts of so many.


Celia kept in touch with her college roommate, Marie.  Marie’s son recently shared  his memories and photos:

I knew her (1950s – 1990s) as a very caring, wonderful person. She was very close friend, originally to my parents.  Kess trained with my mother, Marie Barlow (her maiden name), at The Good Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing in Cincinnati, OH.
My mother, before she met my father, came from Grafton West Virginia, to Cincinnati to become a nurse.  Kess, my mother and another nurse actually shared an apartment near the Hospital/ school for several years in the 1920s.
Unfortunately, much of my info about her is from memories now. My older brothers, who have all passed, may have had pictures and a more complete history of her. But the pictures they had did not survive the years. I have little knowledge of the marriages, or children. (Back in the 30, 40s and 50s, children did not talk unless a parent said okay)  So the adults kept private issues among themselves. Later in life, she did talk about a daughter and son-in-law and their children, but I don’t recall details now. I believe Kess actually survived her daughter by a year or so. The daughter had a difficult medical condition, I believe. Kess died at a Convalescent Retirement home near Indianapolis.

Over the years, Kess came to visit when she could, but the last 20 – 30 years of her life were very difficult. Her mobility was very difficult due the pain, arthritis, I think. From about 1940s to 1990s, she lived in a modest apartment on N. Delaware Ave in Indianapolis, IN with a major hospital nearby. She worked there at one time, I think. I visited her a few time over the years. She came to Cincinnati for various holidays and events, including the funerals of my mother and father, for my college graduation, 1968, and later for my wedding in 1978.

She is buried in Section J, Lot 576, grave #8, Washington Park East Cemetery.

Kess’ grand-children could be still living. I am thinking also that they are part of the reason for Mrs Santa Claus. I believe, there were times when Kess would send small gifts or notes to children and others, anonymously.
Another thought about Kess, relates to her Garden. I believe she was a volunteer at the President Harrison Home. Volunteers would help with the Gardens, among other things, there. That home was nearby on N Delaware Ave. – http://www.bhpsite.org



Error in Online Trees and FindAGrave

FindaAGrave and several online trees have Celia linked to Curt Stevenson and Lydia Fullmer.  These are the wrong parents!  This Celia’s maiden name was Stevenson.  She married Frank Meals and died in 1978 in Pennsylvania.


Censuses (right click and open image in another tab to see a larger version)


celia 1900


celia 1910


celia 1920


celia 1930


celia 1940


Remember When Your Mother Said “Don’t Trust Everything You Read?”

Most of us made the same mistakes back in the day.  We viewed Ancestry.com trees or Googled our ancestors and added everything found, as “fact”, to our tree.

Years later we are still correcting errors added from those damn trees!

But what about published books?  They are correct, right?  NO!!!!!!!

Unless the book lists sources, and you see the source with your own eyes, you should be leery of publications. Obviously some are better than others.  I trust NGSQ articles, recently accepted DAR application (many of the older ones are unsourced) or  publications by well known genealogists like Thomas W Jones, CG℠, CGL℠ or Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG℠, CGL℠.  But if possible, I still seek out original sources for my files.

One that has been a problem for me for a long time? A book: “The Halls of New England. Genealogical and biographical”. By David B. Hall, published Albany, N.Y., Printed for the author by J. Munsell’s Sons, 1883.

This “Bible” which has been used by many New England, Hall researchers, for generations, is riddled with errors.

George Hall, was an early Taunton, Massachusetts settler, who’s ancestry is given on pages 567-648.  As of this writing, 195 Ancestry.com tree users, copied the text exactly!

John Hall.jpg


The writer lists a son of George Hall as:

(Lt) John b. 1640 d. 1693 m. Hannah Penniman, their children:

  1. John b. 1672
  2. Joseph b. 1674
  3. James b. 1675
  4. Benjamin b. 1677
  5. Sarah b. 1678 (died young)
  6. Jacob b. 1680
  7. Hannah b. 1682, m. Samuel Haskins

He then goes on to claim that John and Hannah’s son John d. 1768 (age 96) m. Elizabeth King, their children:

  1. John d. 1766
  2. Judith m. John Tisdale
  3. Phillip and perhaps others

A review of Bristol County, Massachusetts land deeds (available free at FamilySearch.org) offers alternate information.

Book 57/Page 110  – This deed indicates that Lt. John’s son, John, was deceased by 1747 – so he couldn’t have died in 1768!  It further indicates that Lt. John’s daughter Hannah was in 1747 married to John Andrews (which may or may not be her first husband, but this husband is not listed in Hall’s narrative – he lists Samuel Haskins).

We don’t know why all of the grandchildren of James are named and only one grandchild, John, is named of John.  Were Phillip and Judith actually associated with this family?

….Agreement made 22 May 1747 by Joseph & Jacob Hall of Raynham, yeoman; Benjamin Hall of Raynham cordwainer John Andrews of Norton yeoman and Hannah his wife children of Lt John Hall late of Taunton and John Hall of Raynham, yeoman, grandson of the deceased and James Hall, Nathan Hall,  Marey Hall, Edmund Hall, David Hall all of Raynham husbandman and grandchildren of deceased and coheirs, children of James Hall deceased late of Raynham who was the son of Lt John Hall deceased have come to Agreement on division of land…

The following page continues item #5 states….John Hall in right of his father John Hall deceased….

deed 1.jpg

The deed was not filed until thirty years later, in 1777; this might be the source of Hall’s confusion. It is typical for deeds to be recorded years later – your ancestors may have lived a distance from the courthouse, couldn’t afford the filing fees, just didn’t bother to file until they were ready to sell the land or their heirs were settling the estate.

Book 24 page 72 and page 74 & book 27 page 557– give us further information. It appears that if John, Judith and Phillip are Lt John Hall’s grandchildren, then their father John died before 19 June 1729 – at least 40 years before Hall’s notation of 1768!  These pages seem to indicate that John’s daughter did marry John Tisdale.  But we discover a second unmentioned daughter, Mehitable, who married Nehemiah Dean. We also discover that Lt. John’s widow, Hannah, likely remarried a man named Haskins

dated 19 June 1729…..John and Judith Tisdale of Taunton have received of our brother John Hall of Taunton the sum of 130 pounds which we receive as our full part and portion out of the estate of John Hall late of said Taunton (our honored father) who died intestate and also out of the real estate of Hannah Haskins late of said Taunton deceased (our honored grandmother)…..

dated 26 July 1733…..Nehemiah and Mehitable Dean his wife, both of Norton have received of our brother John Hall of Raynham 130 pounds full part of honorable father John Hall of Taunton deceased and grandmother Hannah Haskins late of Taunton….

dated 29 June 1739…Phillip Hall of Raynham, yeoman, for 200 pounds paid by John Hall my brother of the same town of Raynham aforesaid yeoman – rights in estate of Honored father John Hall late of Taunton and grandmother Hannah Haskins late of Taunton

…. wait Haskins – grandmother Hannah Haskins? maybe Hannah (Penniman) Hall married Samuel Haskins?? vs. her daughter marrying him as Hall’s book surmises?  Hannah born abt 1682 would have been “marrying age” (20) in 1702, but it seems more likely, based on the language in these deeds, that her mother Hannah (Penniman) Hall married Samuel!

hannah marriage

Book 16, page 310 – tells us that John was alive in 1700 when the deed was signed,  but we don’t know if he was alive in 1725 when the deed was filed.

….Hannah Hall widow of Lieutenant John Hall deceased and her sons Joseph, James, Benjamin & Jacob all of Taunton, for 5 pounds to the eldest son John of said John Hall deceased…twenty acres of land…Taunton, eastward from the meeting house….six acres….on the Neck Plain so called and ten acres of land bounded Eastward by 6 acres of plain and westward by the land of Phillip King and four acres of land joining to the northward side. Ten acres of land is bounded Eastward, Northward and Westward by the land of Thomas Dean which twenty acres of the land by agreement and settlement of the estate of the above Lieutenant John Hall deceased did belong to the above Hannah Hall during her natural life…. but now said Hannah Hall and her sons….grant to said John Hall….

deed 2

I did find the probate record of Hannah Haskins, 1726, in Taunton, which seems to mention the “Hall Division” and names Jacob, John and James.  This seems to indicate that Hannah (Hall) Penniman did remarry and thus we are pretty sure John, father of John, Judith, Mehitable and Phillip is the son of Lt. John since grandmother Hannah Haskins is named in the deeds. It further seems plausible as John did have brothers Jacob and James…..  Of course additional research is needed.

[Note: Bristol book 17: page 167 dated November 1926 where Benjamin sells land of his deceased mother to his brother in law John Andrews is further evidence that that Hannah Haskins who’s estate was settled in 1726 was his mother and that Hannah married to John Andrews, his sister].

Hannah Haskins

Hannah probate

Further examination of probate records reveals a John Hall junior of Taunton with a sister Hannah and wife Elizabeth who died about 1708. This is likely Lt John Hall’s son.  He passed a 60 years before the date attributed to his death in Hall’s book – perhaps a typo on Hall’s part, yet copied into at least 195 Ancestry.com trees and likely hundreds more on other sites and private genealogies!

There is quite a bit of research that can be done which could add further details and perhaps correct additional errors, including an analysis of the land descriptions.

My interest is to examine all the Hall deeds to identify the parents of my ancestor Brian Hall b. 1727 to John 3rd and Mary.  Brian was a cordwainer (shoemaker) who may have apprenticed with a relative.  I examined this set of deeds with interest, since Lt. John’s son Benjamin Hall is identified as a cordwainer, who would have been about 50 when Brian was born.


How to find Massachusetts Land Records in Bristol County

Click here https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2106411, Select Bristol County, and open first the Grantor Index (seller), then the Grantee Index (buyer) for the time period you are seeking. Make note of the book and page number for your ancestors.

Grantor Index for Brian Hall

grantor Brian.jpg

Return to the original link, select the appropriate book # and then search for the page.

It is faster to search on the Registry of Deeds, just type book and page under “Recorded Land” site: http://www.tauntondeeds.com/Searches/ImageSearch.aspx; here you can only view the images.  They are $1 to download, but free to view and free to download on the Family Search site.



My Brick Wall – Brian Hall b. 1727 Bristol County

I recently attended the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Problem Solving Course.  The abridge course description:

Choose a project focus, ancestor, time period, geographical area, and research questions.

Under guidance from professional consultants, student’s will use a group collaborative approach to discuss research progress each day, utilizing the combined knowledge and experience of the group to solve problems.

Although I feel “more organized”, I did not solve the mystery.  If you want to help, here’s the abridged version!

Brian Hall tree.png


Who are the parents of Lt. Brian/Briant Hall, my 5th-great grandfather?

Lt. Brian/Briant Hall, a soldier in the Revolution, was born about 9 Jul 1727, perhaps in Taunton (later Raynham), Bristol, Massachusetts.  He married, 14 Nov 1751, Abiah Crossman, daughter of Samuel Crossman and Joanna Leonard and died about 13 Dec 1778 in Norton, Bristol, Massachusetts.  He is buried with Abiah at Norton Common Cemetery who died 15 Feb 1814.

Known children: Isaac, Nancy/Anna, Prudence, John, Brian, Abiah & Silas


The First Book of Raynham (Massachusetts) Records 1700–1835 (Online database: NewEnglandAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2003), (Handwritten unpublished transcription, transcriber unknown, “First Book of Raynham Records,” donated to NEHGS in 1897) lists:

Birth: 9 July 1727 – Brian son of John Hall 3d of Taunton & Mary his wife

See Ancestry.com: http://tinyurl.com/q9a3ddk

Brian's birth.png

The eastern end of Taunton, was incorporated as Raynham when Brian was about four, on April 2, 1731. The entries around his birth record date circa 1752/3. The entry is surrounded by other Hall families. Brian was married in August 1751. Thus, Brian perhaps reported the birth himself, about the time of his marriage.

As one is unable to recollect their own birth and because the records appear to be in the same handwriting (perhaps copied from an earlier book), the source and reliability of this information is unknown.


Unsourced publications assert that Brian Hall was the son of John Hall and Mary (unknown) and name him as a descendant of George Hall, an early settler of Taunton, Massachusetts through:

  • George’s son John m. Hannah Penniman,
  • George’s grandson John m. Elizabeth King and
  • George’s g-grandson John m. (1) Mary and (2) Hannah Williams
  1. The earliest of these (likely the source of all others) appears to be “The Halls of New England. Genealogical and biographical”. By David B. Hall, published Albany, N.Y., Printed for the author by J. Munsell’s Sons, 1883. George’s ancestry is found on pages 567-648, with Brian named on pages 574, 580 & 581 (screen shot below) – http://hdl.handle.net/2027/yale.39002005232799

Halls of NE.png

In his preface, the author writes, “…My first intention was to compile only my own line, the Halls of Medford, but afterwards I concluded to embrace in the work all the records that I could find. And I have found much more than I then supposed was in existence, and still the work is far from containing all that might be obtained….”  Perhaps less effort was given to unrelated Hall families.

I surmise that much of this genealogy was crafted through letters from Hall families residing in New England in 1883 vs. use of original sources.

Richard Henry Hall, a great-grandson of Brian Hall, in December 1886 became the mayor of Taunton, Massachusetts.  The election may have given him reason to name himself (and thus Brian) as a direct descendant of George Hall (See page 730 – Our Country and Its People: A Descriptive and Biographical Record of Bristol County, Massachusetts, Part 2) or perhaps he really believed that he decended from George as did all other Halls in the Taunton area.

The concept of “John 3rd” likely had different meaning in the 1700’s vs. current day, and should not be interpreted as the third generation of John in that particular family. It may mean there were at least three John Hall’s in the area from same or different families, and Brian’s father John was the youngest of the three.

2. Excerpt from George Hall and his Descendants (1603-1669) compiled by Robert Leo Hall, published in 1998 [copy in my private collection]:

John Hall born 1694, in Taunton, Bristol County, MA; died 1766 in Raynham, MA. First married Mary (Ukn) and had children Freelove and Brian. He second married Hannah Williams and had children John, Hannah, Elkanah, Elisha, Joseph and Noah.

His source: ALLRED RECORDS in the home of Marcella G. Allred, 349 W. 3rd St., Lovell, WY 82431. I have been unsuccessful in tracking her work.

Robert Leo Hall is deceased and his descendants do not know what became of this cited source.

In 2009, a descendant of Marcella wrote to me: Aunt Marcella Allred passed away a number of years ago.  I am not sure where any of her living children are, possibly in Utah.  Aunt Marcella was famous in this area for the amount of genealogy work that she did.  Her maiden name was Graham.  I am assuming that she must have been related to your ancestors.

3. In “Brian Pendleton and his Descendants, 1599-1910”, Everett Hall Pendleton, asserts that Brian’s mother was Mary Brettun/Britton, daughter of William Brettun and granddaughter of Mary (Pendleton) Brettun Cross Morey, who married (1) Joseph Hall and (2) John Hall, descendant of Brian Pendleton, born about 1599, one of the early settlers of Watertown and Sudbury, Massachusetts who owned land the Maine and New Hampshire. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/wu.89069624344

Mary Morey left a will recorded 10 Jan 1732/3.  It is indexed under the name “Marcy Morey” in ”Abstracts of Bristol County, Massachusetts Probate Records, 1687-1745″ H. L. Peter Rounds.  In it she names her father, grandfather, husbands and grandchildren.

mary morey.png

The actual will (copy in my files) reads:

….Item – I Give and Bequeath to my Grand Children William Brettun, Abiale Brettun, Ebenezer Brettun, Pendleton Brettun, Mary Hall, Lydia Brettun, Sarah Brettun, Elizabeth Brettun, & Abigail Brettun,  all the remaining three quarters of my Real Estate lands Meadows & ____ which belong to me to be equally divided between them Only that my granddaughter Mary Hall is to enjoy her part during her life and after her deceased her children to enjoy her part equally between them and their heirs….


Is Brian’s father John Hall, g-grandson of George who married 2nd Hannah Williams?

  1. Brian Hall, son of John (with Mary) and John Hall, son of John (with Hannah) were born within 7 months of one another, if the Rayhnam records of birth are accurate, and the pregnancies were full term – either John Hall got two women pregnant at the same time or there were two John Hall’s in Taunton/Raynham in 1727 (John Hall, son of John Hall and Hannah is born January 26, 1728. Date based on the birth record in the original Raynham Vital Records, he was conceived around May of 1727, Brian was born two months later).
  2. Brian Hall is not mentioned in John Hall of Raynham’s will of 1766. All 6 of his children by Hannah are mentioned (including those who got nothing):
    • He left of to John Hall eldest son of the deceased all the aforesaid of five lots of land one small right in the old iron works in Raynham and two seventh parts….
    • It is stated in the will “Nothing is left to Joseph Hall son of deceased because he already got a gift in his lifetime of 95 acres estimated at 3 quid and 50 pounds”. and “Nothing is left to Noah Hall son of the deceased because he already got a gift in his lifetime of four pieces of land which are estimated at three hundred pounds the land being about 84 acres”
  3. All land deeds in Bristol County were examined (by me) for Brian Hall. There was no land exchanged between the two men during their lifetime.
  4. None of Brian’s children followed the naming patterns of the John who married  Hannah’s parents/grandparents.
  5. A number of errors have been discovered by other researchers in the “Halls of New England”, most of which were repeated in the book “George Hall and his Descendants (1603-1669)”. One example is “A Maze of Halls in Taunton, Massachusetts: Correlating Land Description to Prove Identity” written by Marsha Hoffman Rising, and originally published in National Genealogical Society Quarterly in 1993 which sorts the Samuel Halls of George of Taunton and Edward of Rehoboth.
  6. Y-DNA evidence suggests there is no relationship between the two men. As of today, there are four testers through George Hall’s son Samuel. One from Samuel’s son Ebenezer and three from Samuel’s son Samuel. None of these match the DNA of three of Brian’s descendants, one through Brian’s son Brian and two through Brian’s son Silas.  As of Jan 2016 one of George’s son Joseph’s likely descendants is planning to test.  If he matches Samuel this will further support the theory that Brian does NOT decend from George. No living male Hall descendants have been located for George’s son John and thus that line remains untested.

Is Brian’s mother Mary Brettun/Britton, descendant of Brian Pendleton?

  1. In 1727, the name “Brian/Briant/Bryant” was quite uncommon. It is plausible that Brian was named after Brian Pendleton.  Many years later, the 1790 census on Ancestry.com lists just thirteen Brian/Briant’s as head of households in the United States (even with indexing errors and the fact that other household members are not listed, this seems low and indicates the name uncommon). *Note that on a 1728 map of Taunton (available for purchase at Old Colony Historical Society), in the area which is now Raynham, there was a Briant/Bryant family residing next to the Crossman/Britton families could Brian instead be a family surname? 1728 map Taunton with names
  2. Mary Morey’s will is very detailed. Mary Hall is the only grandchild called out separately in the will: “Mary Hall is to enjoy her part during her lifetime but after her deceased her children to enjoy her part equally between them and their heirs” Although not direct evidence, this seems to imply that perhaps Mary already had children in 1732.
  3. There is record in Bristol County of Pendleton Britton and Brian Hall owning land together implying the two were associates and perhaps cousins?
  4. Brian was recorded as a cordwainer (shoemaker) in land deeds and Iron Works records beginning when he was 23. Mary Britton’s brother, Ebenizier, also of Raynham, was a cordwainer. Perhaps Brian was raised by the Britton’s and apprenticed with his uncle as a young man.
  5. In Raynham, 1731, a John Hall and William Britton are paid for supplying pine boards to the town.  This suggests a relationship between the two – Brian’s supposed mother was Mary Britton, William Britton’s daughter.  If John was a Miller with William Britton, maybe their kids married?


There is a John Hall who got land near Cobbler’s Corner (book 9, page 72 – an area which is now Mansfield) in 1715 it seems with Mill rights*.  He might be the same John Hall listed as an early Norton church member (a member of the First Church of Norton and witnessed the ordination of its first Minister, Joseph Avery in 1714). Wife of John Hall, Bethiah joined in 1716.

Then John Hall and wife Ruth record births of Bethiah 1 Dec 1721 and Benjamin 10 Aug 1720 in Norton (at that time Mansfield was part of Norton). So maybe Bethiah died, he married Ruth and named a child after his deceased wife?  In 1723 (not filed until 1735) there is a deed where a John Hall is selling land near Cobbler’s Corner, with Ruth his wife (book 23 page 494)

In Raynham, 1731, a John Hall and William Britton are paid for supplying pine boards to the town.  This suggests a relationship between the two – Brian’s supposed mother was Mary Britton, William Britton’s daughter.  If John was a Miller with William Britton, maybe their kids married?

There is also a marriage recorded of John Hall to Sarah Wellman both of Norton 7 March 1726/7. Then in 1730, there is a deed for purchase of land in Raynham by Samual Wellman of “John Hall of Norton, Miller” he also mentions his Mill, with a Sarah Hall as wife (book 25, page 116). Other witnesses include Benjamin Wellman, Isaac & Isaac jr Wellman***.

There is a John Hall, husband of Sarah who died intestate in 1736 in Raynham.  Others mentioned James Hall & John Hall yeomen.

None of these “Johns” appear to be listed in the “Halls of New England” book…  Unfortunately none of the John Hall wives were named Mary.

A Mary Hall who was born in 1699/1700 and is buried in Mansfield Cemetery called Happy Hollow Cemetery on York Street (Mansfield Vital Records).  She is called a widow when she died February 20, 1760 and her gravestone gives her age as being in her 60th Year.

**Halls of New England claims John Hall (a descendant of George) who married Esther Bell was the John who received the mill privilege in 1714 in Norton (which is modern day Mansfield) and that he lived at a place called Cobblers Corner…based on a review of land deeds this seems inaccurate.

*** Isaac Wellman died intestate before 1743 his heirs are listed as the widow Mary, sons Isaac, Ebenezer and Timothy and daughter Hannah.  A “deceased child” is also mentioned, it seems the other siblings are splitting her share – this might be Sarah.


Note: Brian recorded 63 land transactions in Bristol County and several in North Providence, Rhode Island in his lifetime, all have been examined but not all have been added to this timeline yet.

  • 9 July 1727 born to John 3rd and Mary (thus conceived around October/November 1726 – Brian’s birth record was recorded about 1752) – record indicates  a Raynham birth, however Raynham was not broken off from Taunton until 1731.
  • Sept & Oct 1747 – Hewing Timber and working with the carpenters at the forge (one of them being Thomas Crossman) – Account Book [Old Colony Historical Society], Iron Works records for the Taunton/Raynham area.
  • 1750 – Land purchased of Solomon Printice for 80 pounds by Pendelton Bretton of Easton and Briant Hall of Raynham; land in Easton containing 40 acres that was laid out 30 Sept 1713 to James Phillips of Taunton on the 50 acre division that lies near the land of John Selleson [?] also another tract of land that lies next to this land in whole 90 acres; land conveyed to Printice as warranted by heirs of James Phillips – witnesses Abigail & Katherine Leonard [Bristol Deeds 37:536]
  • 1750 – Living next to Elijah Leonard in Raynham, MA – Account Book [Old Colony Historical Society]
  • 1751 – Owns a Shop – Account Book [Old Colony Historical Society] Several entries 1750 – 2 in regards to services as a cordwainer.
  • 1751 – Account book kept by the Leonard Family of Norton; References a brother several times, Brian receives credit for the services of the brother, no name given. – Account Book [Old Colony Historical Society]
  • August 1751 – married Abiah Crossman (Abiah Crossman; Female; Birth: 28 AUG 1726 Taunton , Bristol, Massachusetts; Death: 15 FEB 1814; Father: Thomas Crossman; Mother: Johanna; (Joannah Crossman has a sister Alice Leonard and parents are Thomas Leonard and Joanna all of Raynham – per probate records) Spouse: Brian Hall; Marriage: 1751; Sealing to Spouse: 01 OCT 1953; Film Number: 458137) Brian Hall and Abiah Crossman marriage Raynham 1751
  • October 1751 – Signs a petition against a new road in Raynham, MA – Raynham Town Records
  • September 26, 1752 – child of Brian Hall died in Raynham, MA  – Vital Records
  • 1752- Brian Hall – Distribution of Iron Shares [Old Colony Historical Society]
  • December 9, 1752 – Pendleton Britton and Brian Hall buy land in Easton, MA.
  • April 1753 – Brian Hall buys land in Raynham, MA from Alice Leonard, give several names including land bordered by Nehimiah and Nathanial Hall, filed 1758 [Bristol Deeds 43:115]
  • August 16, 1753 – son Isaac Hall born in Boston according to historical accounts – birth not located in Vital Records  (Isaac Hall, Esq. (grad. H.U. 1775), was the son of Brian Hall ; and was born in Boston, Aug. 16, 1753 (?). His father moved to Norton before Isaac entered college, and ever after resided there. Mr. Hall studied law, and died soon after entering upon his professional career. For more particulars of him, see Funeral Sermon by Rev. Sylvester Holmes. His tombstone, in the ” Norton common graveyard,” informs us that he was an attorney-at-law, and that he died Dec. 14, 1779, aged -2learning, abilities as a lawyer, and strict adherence to the principles of virtue, rendered him dear to his friends, an honor to his profession, and highly esteemed by all his acquaintance.”)
    • Historical accounts read: A year or more after their marriage and the death of their first child, they moved to Boston (WHY??), living there a few years, during which time their eldest son Isaac was supposedly born (no birth record located). Having purchased a farm in Norton, they moved there and Brian subsequently became a large owner and operator in real estate.
  • April 1, 1755 – daughter Nancy Hall born, Norton – historical accounts, not listed in Norton vitals/births
  • May 2, 1755 – Mentioned in the Account of Abijah Wilbore as receiving Iron – Account Book [Old Colony Historical Society]
  • Sept 1755 – Brian Hall buys land in Raynham from Thomas White, 2 1/2 acres measured by Taunton proprietors – mentions Brian’s other property, filed 1758 [Bristol Deeds 43:116]
  • 1756 – Brian Hall – Ministers Rate/Tax Rate, Raynham Tax Records  [Old Colony Historical Society]
  • 1757 – Bryan Hall of Raynham for 240 pounds from John Gilmore land in Dighton purchased of Abijah Wilbur and land near the house of John Crane, land he sold to Wilbore, signed by Brian & Abiah Hall – witnesses Zephaniah & Anna Leonard [Bristol Deeds 42:507 – deed reads Bryan, signs as Brian]
  • 1757 – Brian Hall sells land to Alice Leonard in Easton, part of land bought with Pendelton Brittan of Solomon Prentice – 43 acres – witnesses are Leonards [Bristol Deeds 42:534]
  • 1757 – Brian Hall, Raynham Tax Records [Old Colony Historical Society]
  • 1757 – John Hall 3rd recorded next to Brian Hall in the Raynham Tax Records.  [Old Colony Historical Society]
  • 1757 – Last entry in account book, he is settling his account with Elijah Leonard – Account Book [Old Colony Historical Society]
  • January 8, 1758 – daughter – Prudence Hall born Norton? – historical accounts, not listed in Norton vitals/births
  • October 7, 1758 – Agreement between John Gilmore and Brian Hall – Account Book [Old Colony Historical Society]
  • February 8, 1758 – Agreement between Abijah Wilbore and Brian Hall – Account Book [Old Colony Historical Society]
  • 1758 – Sale of Pew in Raynham Church, Brian Hall sells to Elijah Leonard his pew in Westward part of the church.  Witnesses: Thomas Crossman and Silence Hall.
  • April 13, 1758 – Brian Hall buys land in Norton: Elijah Leonard of Raynham for $240 lawful money sells to Brian Hall of Raynham, corwainer, a tract of land with dwelling house upon it – land description mentions land of Elnathan Jones, Josiah White, Seth Briggs, Cobb & 5 acres in Cedar Swamp mentions land of Thomas Shaw deceased, Joshua Fairbanks  – dated 31 Mar 1758 – witnesses Ebenezer Brettun & Ebenezer Brettun jun [Bristol Deeds 43:79]
  • October 12, 1759 – Brian Hall sells 114 acres of Land with a house, for £236 in Attenborough to Stephen Pond
  • October 10, 1759 – Brian Hall sells land in Norton, MA, to Elijah Leonard
  • 1750’s (??) per Old Colony Historical Society there is a land reference in Mansfield, MA, involving Brian Hall and a John Hall.  They are both pitching for the same piece of land in the 1750’s? Can not locate deed to which they are referring? –  there is a 1774 deed – Brian Hall of Norton yeoman (seller) for 2 pounds, 5 shillings paid by John Hall of Norton gentlemen transfers 2 1/2 acres of land in a tract of land known by the name Taunton North Purchase in Norton, Mansfield & Easton in Bristol County Common undivided land of said purchase bound on the East side from Moses Copland to Mansfield fur river (?) and by land owned by said John. And is ye 2 1/2 acres of land which Brian Halls house pitched for this day as may appear by said pitch if ye land is to be had in ye above described place and if it is not to be had these to be when me anyplace in common and undivided land where it is not pitched for to have and to hold said same. May 11, 1774, 14th year of his majestries reign King George 3rd. Witnesses: Benjamin Morey & Anna Hall
  • October 21, 1760 – son John Hall born Norton ? – historical accounts, not listed in Norton vitals/births
  • October 3, 1765  – daughter Abiah Hall born Norton – historical accounts, not listed in Norton vitals/births
  • October 30,1766 – Brian Hall buys land in Norton, MA, from Elijah Leonard
  • 1767 – Brian Hall sells land to David Manley
  • June 19, 1768 – son Silas Hall born  – – historical accounts, not listed in Norton vitals/births
  • April 10, 1762/3 – son Brian Hall born  – – historical accounts, not listed in Norton vitals/births
  • November 27,1772 – Brian Hall buys land in Easton, MA, from Alice Leonard
  • May 25,1774 – Brian Hall buys land in Easton, MA, from George Leonard
  • 1774 – Properitors of the North Purchase to Brian Hall
  • 1774 – Jobe Hunt sells land to Brian Hall
  • 1776/8 – He was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, and according to published accounts  “one of the first to act and respond. He was also a member of the select committee of correspondence, to take into consideration the “Confederation of the Union of States” proposed by Congress, and also being on the committee to devise means for the formation of a State constitution”.
    • Hall, Brian (also given Briant), Norton. 1st Lieutenant, Capt. Isaac Hodges’s (2d) co., Col. John Daggatt’s (4th Bristol Co.) regt. of Mass. militia; list of officers chosen by the several companies in said regiment, dated Attleborough, March 18, 1776; ordered in Council March 21, 1776, that said officers be commissioned; reported commissioned March 21, 1776; also, Lieutenant, Capt. Isaac Hodges’s co., Col. John Daggit’s (Daggett’s) regt.; service, 25 days, in Dec., 1776, and Jan., 1777, on an alarm, including travel (34 miles) from Norton to Tiverton, R. I., and return; also, 1st Lieutenant, Capt. Samuel Robinson’s co., Col. Wade’s regt.; engaged June 18, 1778; service, 25 days, at Rhode Island; company raised to serve for 21 days from June 21, 1778; roll dated Attleborough.
  • Brian held positions in the town of Norton and was assessor the year previous to his death in 1778.
  • 13 December 1778 – died, buried at Norton Common Cemetery – Hall plot found to the right of the main entrance near the road at marker 126 behind a rust colored stone entitled “Briggs”.  Hall Stones in order are:
    • John Hall, died April 13, 1840, aged 79 years
      • Son of Brian and Abiah
    • Wells Hall, died Dec. 13, 1828, aged 19 years
      • Son of John and Dilly
    • Dilla wife of John Hall, died May 2, 1857
    • John S. Hall, died Nov. 27 1827
      • Son of John and Dilly
    • Silas Hall, died Jun 29, 1841, aged 73 years
      • Son of Brian and Abiah
    • Nancy Stanley, wife of Silas Hall, died March 26, 1833, aged 63 years
    • Anna, daughter of Silas and Nancy Stanley Hall, died Nov. 14, 1818 in the 22 year of her age
    • Prudence, daughter of Brian and Abiah Hall, died March 28, 1839, aged 81 years
    • Isaac Hall, Attorney at Law, son of Brian and Abaih Hall, died Dec. 14, 1779, aged 26 years
    • Lieut Brian Hall, A Patriot of the American Revolution, Died Dec. 13, 1778, in the 52 year of his age
    • Abiah, wife of Brian Hall, died Feb. 15, 1814 in the 88 year of her age

Brian Hall Grave Norton Common Cemetery.jpg


  • Why did Brian and Abiah supposedly move to Boston after the death of their first child, did they have family there? Is there any evidence of this other than historical town/county histories and published genealogies?
  • Who is Silence Hall? “1758 – Sale of Pew in Raynham Church, Brian Hall sells to Elijah Leonard his pew in Westward part of the church. Witnesses: Thomas Crossman and Silence Hall”.  Could she be the wife of Jacob Woodward named as “brother in law” in Brian’s will and Brian’s biological sister?
    • I leave to my brother in law Jacob Woodward and Silence [?] his wife to them their heirs an assigns forever real estate lying in North Providence in the state of Rhode Island excepting only ten acres to be measured of according to Quantity & Quatily [?] which I have herein given to my son Issac.
      • Brian’s wife Abiah Crossman was a 2nd cousin of Jacob Woodward – Robert Crossman was their g-grandfather. Would this cause Brian to refer to Jacob as brother-in-law?
      • Mary Britton’s brother William Britton jr. married Sarah Woodward (daughter of Robert Woodward and Hannah Briggs) who was a first cousin to Jacob Woodward (son of Ezekial Woodward and Sarah____). Would this cause Brian to refer to Jacob as brother-in-law?
      • Who is the Brian Hall Woodward b. 1778 (year of Brian Hall’s death); d. 1798 and buried North Providence at Hopkins burial ground (grave #35) next to Capt Richard Hutchins (grave #36)? All other surrounding stones blank. (Rhode Island Roots, Volumes 13-15 – Rhode Island Genealogical Society, 1987 – Registers of births, etc) – could this be a child of Silence and Jacob?
      • North Providence land deeds for the Halls and Woodwards were examined the only connection seems to be:
        • Ruth Woodward in N. Providence deeds pg 199 (1748 or 1768?) mentions brothers Jacob & Paul Woodward and father Ezekiel (will A774, 1760 N Prov.). One of the witnesses signs as Mary Hall. Brian did not have any children named Mary.
        • A Providence deed from 1821 [book 5 pg 86] mentions a Jacob Woodward, Mary Woodward and Henrietta Hutchins selling land.  Brian Hall (Brian’s grandson through his son Brian) signs as a witness.  He later marries Henrietta Hutchins daughter of Capt. Richard Hutchins (the man buried with Brian Hall Woodward) and Henrietta Woodward.  Could Henrietta Woodward also be a daughter of Jacob and Silence?
      • According to death indexes for Silence & Jacob – Silence was born abt 1740 – 13 years older than Brian. So John 3rd would still be alive in 1740 if she is a sister! If correct, the age difference is further evidence that the John Hall who fathered Brian could not be the John Hall who married Hannah Williams!
        • WOODWARD Jacob, in 85th year, at Providence, Aug. 5, 1822 (birth about 1737).

        • WOODWARD Silence, wife of Jacob, at North Providence, in 76th year, Nov. 26, 1816 (birth abt 1740).

  • Who is Brian’s “brother” listed in Leonard’s account books? Full brother? Half brother? Husband of Brian’s sister? Brian debtor credit pages.jpg
  • When Brian died, why was Ephraim Burr of Norton selected as guardian to Brian’s minor children, Brian and Silas? How was he related or associated with Brian (or Abiah)? partial probate transcription here: willguardian.jpg
  • There is a Bristol land deed with witnesses signing as Pendleton Hall and Anna Hall who were they?
    • 11/27/1772 Brian (Hall)    Alice Leonard      Easton book 55           page 37

land deed


  • The article “A Maze of Halls in Taunton, Massachusetts: Correlating Land Description to Prove Identity” written by Marsha Hoffman Rising, originally published in National Genealogical Society Quarterly in 1993, mentions the Greenlaw Collection at NEHGS. This was reviewed in 2008 but should be looked at again!  COMPLETE JAN 2016 – NOTHING FOUND
    • The article also implies that Ms. Rising already reviewed Bristol land records, contact JAN 2016 – NOT AT NEHGS – EMAILED HISTORICAL SOCIETY IN MISSOURI THEY OFFERED TO CONTACT MARSHA’S FAMILY – FAMILY CAN NOT LOCATE.
  • Examine Church Records.
    • Raynham (1731 from Taunton) First Church Records – there are no John Hall listed among the member of the church.
    • Norton (1710 from Taunton) – There is a John Hall listed in early church members, his wife Bethiah joined 1716. John Hall and wife Ruth record births of Bethiah 1 Dec 1721 and Benjamin 10 Aug 1720.  There is also a marriage recorded in Taunton John Hall to Sarah Wellman both of Norton 7 Nov 1726.
    • Taunton
    • Mansfield  (1770 from Norton)
    • Other? Towns established from modern day Taunton:
      • Freetown (1683 from Taunton)
      • Dighton (1712 from Taunton)
      • Easton (1725 from Norton)
      • Berkley (1735 from Taunton/Dighton)
  • Research all Halls in Bristol [then expand to Rhode Island and nearby counties] and related surnames/FAN club (witnesses to Hall deeds and will’s, neighbors on early map and in censuses, war associates, the Britton’s, Ephraim Burr, Jacob Woodward & Silence, etc.) in all Bristol County (and Rhode Island) records. BIG PROJECT! Define scope and priorities.
  • Land deeds – Just John & Brian? All Hall’s? Other surnames, maybe Britton’s? Have transcribed microfilm index for Bristol County Hall’s in Excel and have reviewed some deeds (online).
  • Trace the land described in the will of Mary (Pendleton) Brettun Cross Morey in Maine, New Hampshire and possibly Rhode Island (?), to determine how it was distributed and who sold it to whom….
    • COMPLETE – This was done at the FHL in SLC Jan 2016. Portsmouth and York land deeds were examined for all Britton transactions. Although Pendleton land changed hands, only James Britton was mentioned.
  • Research the genealogy of our DNA match Charles Rowland Hall (b. Poplar Flat, Lewis County, Kentucky). The match might be many generations in the past and research might prove difficult. Contacted tester Jan 2016 to see if he would add a SNP test which will help to further determine the potential number of generations between us.
  • Reach out to the Norton Historical Society, Raynham Historical Society & Wheaton College Library to determine what records might be available. CONTACTED NHS – THE DO HAVE EARLY CHURCH RECORDS FOR NORTON AND MANSFIELD IN BOXES ONSITE – SCHEDULED TO VISIT JULY 2016.
  • Review area town records on Ancestry.com. PARTIALLY COMPLETE JAN 2016.


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


Two things happened yesterday.

Ancestry.com posted a 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 Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com 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, http://tinyurl.com/3ag9nzd

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.

Ancestry.com’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. 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. Elizabeth, was likely desperate.  Her husband David had died, probably by suicide in 1879 (story here), thus she likely had relied on her eldest son James for some support.


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)! 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”. 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 civilwararchive.com

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 Ancestry.com.  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 Ancestry.com.  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.  Ancestry.com 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 https://www.genealogiequebec.com/en/, 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


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