Archive for the ‘General Genealogy, Conferences, Education or Fun Stuff’ Category

Peter Penno of Norton, House Fire 1806

The Norton Historical Society in Norton, Bristol County, Massachusetts has a gold mine of unpublished documents dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. Unfortunately many of the documents were damaged by water.  An outside vendor was able to preserve much of the collection, however they were returned in random order.  The documents now sit in boxes at the society .  No one has time to sort through and organize them (if only I lived closer!).

While there last month, I was able to go through one of the boxes, and photographed a few documents of interest, even though there seemed to be no link to my family.

One such document was a signed by the mark of Peter Penno, 26 January 1806. Peter lost his home, possessions, clothes and provisions in a house fire, causing his family, which included young children, to be separated.  He asked for assistance, during this “inclement season”:

 To the Church of Christ and Society in the Town of Norton – Greeting,

The Petition of Peter Penno of said Norton Humbly shows and would beg leave to represent that on the 21st day of January instant while his family were at Dinner his house suddenly took fire and baffled every exertion of the family to stop its progress, in a few moments that, together with most part of their furniture, Beds, some Cloaths and their whole stock of Corn and provisions were wraped in, and consumed by that all devouring element fire, whereby himself, Wife and Children (and some of them quite small), are bereft of their little ___ and turned out of Doors at this Inclement season without Cloaths, Provisions, or Furniture, and his family are now Separated and must remain so unless relieved by the Charitable assistance of the Benevolent and can not we say with good old God? who can withstand Gods mighty cold? Soft eyed pity is the Child of Goodness and is the native inmate of every virtuous mind, and he that puts forth his hand to the relief of the distressed, and to save the wrathed from perishing we are to Sin the sacred Volume, are lending to the Lord, and will assuredly receive their reward by Contributing a  small portion from your abundance, to the relief of a Poor, but really Industrious family, you will raise them from Wretchedness and  Wants, and this Cumforth into their almost disponding minds.

Norton January 26, 1806

History of the town of Norton,  details “dwelling houses burned” and mentions Peter Penno’s house burned midday, 21 January 1806 :

norton-houses-burnt

Who was Peter Penno?

Peter Penno was born about 1756.  He married Elizabeth Munro, 15 Apr 1779, at Providence, Rhode Island.

In 1790, Peter was enumerated in Providence; his household included six members: one free white male over 16; two free white males under sixteen and three free white females.

In 1794, when Peter signed a petition against Bristol Rhodes, he was residing in Providence in the neighborhood near the Congregational Church.

court-document

By 1800, the family had relocated to Norton, Bristol, Massachusetts and was enumerated with eleven household members:

Free White Persons – Males – Under 10 2
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25 3
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over 1
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10 2
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15 1
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25 1
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over 1
Number of Household Members Under 16 5
Number of Household Members Over 25 2
Number of Household Members 11

Thus, the Penno family likely included nine children at the time of the fire, four of them under the age of ten!  Online unsourced trees include only John, Hannah (Woodcock), Nathaniel, Benjamin, William and Jeremiah.

Although additional research is needed, there are a number of marriages that were recorded in Norton that have potential to be some of Peter Penno’s children:

Norton Marriages.png

Providence, Rhode Island vital records point to additional candidates:

penno nathanial.png

Penno deaths.png

In 1810, Peter was enumerated in Norton, a neighbor of my 5th g-grandmother Abiah (Crossman) Hall and her sons, Silas and my 4th g-grandfather Brian Hall. John Penno resided nearby (perhaps Peter’s son).

Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over : 1
Number of Household Members Under 16: 2
Number of Household Members Over 25: 2
Number of Household Members: 6

1810

Land Deeds

Land deeds mention the fire and my ancestors.

In a deed filed March 1812, Nathaniel Munro transferred land to Peter Penno (Bristol, book 95, page 448).  It reads in part:

….A lot of land being in Norton and on the southerly side of the road that leads from Brian Hall’s to George Leonard’s Esq. bounded as follows…..

…..Land that I purchased of Brian Hall and Silas Hall by deed, January 15, 1794, and the same land I gave to Penno’s wife, a deed of which they say is burnt, whereon a house has been lately burnt and if said deed is found, this deed to be void….in witness whereof I, the said Nathaniel with my wife Nancy… this 27th day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and six….

Brian and Sally Hall sign as witnesses.

record-image_3QSQ-G9ZS-B7T.jpg

My family was likely present the day of the fire!  Perhaps they assisted in extinguishing the flames and took in a few of the children. I like to think they would have come to the aid of their neighbors.

Peter later coveyed this land to Nathaniel Penno [his son] of Cranston, Rhode Island, June 11, 1813 (Bristol, book 95, page 448/9).

In 1818, Nathaniel Penno of Providence, leased this same land to his parents, the deed reads in part (Bristol, book 106, page 63):

I,  Nathaniel Penno of Providence…for love and affection I have for my honorable father Peter Penno and my affectionate mother Elizabeth Penno, the wife of my father, both of said Norton….

….A lot of land being in Norton and on the southerly side of the road that leads from Brian Hall’s to George Leonard’s Esq. bounded as follows…..the same lot that I purchased of my said father by deed, be it the same more or less together with a dwelling house and barn….also 10 acres of land adjoining land of Josiah Hodges and Nathanial Munro that I purchase of John Penno by deed….

Nathaniel and wife Phebe [Dyer] sign…..

Brian Hall signs as a witness.

record-image_3QS7-99ZS-1QHH.jpg

Pension file

The fire was mentioned in Peter’s pension file. In 1818, he was awarded a Revolutionary War pension of $8 a month. In an affidavit, he states:

  • he was nearly 62 years old and a current resident of Providence;
  • he participated in the Revolution as a “gunner’s mate” aboard the “Picket Galley”;
  • his discharge papers were consumed, along with his house, by fire.

discharge-paper

Probate

After Peter died (intestate),  my 4th g-grandfather, Brian Hall, esquire, along with Peter’s widow Elizabeth and John Munro, yeoman, on 4 July 1820, appeared in probate court, Bristol County, and posted bond. Elizabeth was named Administrix. The deceased was said to be of Norton.

Silas Hall, Elisha Crossman and John Munroe Jr., were assigned to take an inventory, as the Penno estate was more than ten miles from the Judge of Probate’s home.  Brian Hall signed the authorization as Justice of the Peace. The estate was valued at $184.41.

Peter was not found as a head of household in the 1820 census. He was likely deceased (the census was conducted 7 August 1820).   Elizabeth Pennos whereabouts are unknown. She is later found, as a widow, in the 1830 Providence city directory, residing at 13 Pawtuxet.  She is not found in the 1930 Federal Census, and the city directory gives no insight as to with whom she was residing (Brian Hall had also relocated to Providence, and was residing on Hope). Record of Elizabeth’s death has not been located.

 

Side note for future research:

Brian and Silas Hall had a sister Nancy (aka Anna) Hall who married Nathaniel Munro[e] at Norton, 29 Mar 1786.  In 1790 Munro was recorded in the census next to Nancy’s mother Abiah Hall, brother Brian/Bryant Hall and Benjamin Stanley [Stanley was related to Silas Hall’s wife Nancy Stanley].

Nathaniel was perhaps related to Elizabeth (Munro) Penno.  Recall that Nathaniel and his wife Nancy were the ones who sold land “to the wife of Peter Penno” (Bristol, book 95, page 448).

Nathaniel’s parents have not been identified.

In Nathaniel’s will (admitted to probate April 1844), he mentions his wife Nancy, his children (1) Betsey Munroe, wife of John Munroe, (2) Nancy, wife of Crocker Babbitt,  (3) Nathanial and (4) William, and his granddaughter Nancy Chace, wife of Buffington Chace. His sons Nathanial and William are deceased and their unnamed heirs are awarded real estate.

Moral

The moral? Record the names of all the folks who were associated with your ancestors and keep an eye out for them as you research! The FAN Club (friends, associates and neighbors] will mention your ancestors and give you insights to their lives.

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Five Generation Chart

Genealogists on Facebook have been posting five generation charts, which show the birthplace of  their ancestors through gg-grandparents. J Paul Hawthorne inspired the idea, and Miriam Robbins posted an Excel template here.

Here’s mine!

I have color coded by state/country.  If after gg-grandparents my ancestors were in the United States or Canada, I indicated where the earliest known ancestor from that branch came from.

Linda Chart.png

 

And here is my hubby’s:

John Little

Remembering Little Arthur Collins and his Family

135 years ago this month, three-year old Arthur Collins died.  He is not related, but the words in Mary (Haines) Stevens’s diary, my gg-grandfather’s sister, touched me:

Feb 3 1881: This is dear little Arthur’s birthday; a dear child I once took care of. He is three years old today;

Mar 15 1881: Received a letter from Mr. Collins which hastens me to the death bed of little Arthur;

Mar 19 1881: A telegram came this evening telling me of his death;

Mar 21 1881: I followed the remains of little Arthur to its last resting place and gazed on his dear little face for the last time. As I saw him lay in his little casket, I felt as if I could not have it so. He was covered with flowers. I took a lovely basket of white roses and smilacks.

Mar 21 1882: One year ago today dear little Arthur was buried.

Mar 22 1882: I had Mrs. Collins, dear little Arthur’s mama, to see me.

Massachusetts Vital Records report that Arthur died in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts of Meningitis.

arthur death

Arthur’s parents were Edward Augustus Collins and Sarah Elizabeth Powers, both born in Salem. The couple married 27 August 1868.  Edward, a Civil War veteran, was the son of James Collins and Hannah Bickford Larrabee.  Sarah the daughter of Joel Powars (Powers) and Eliza Francis.

marriage

Arthur was the couple’s fourth loss.  Other children:

  • Frank A. Collins died 1 December 1871; 13 days old, of nervous prostration (extreme mental and physical fatigue caused by excessive emotional stress; neurasthenia)
  • Frank P. Collins died 5 October 1873;  1 year, 10 months, 19 days, of dysentery
  • A stillborn brother, unnamed, died 13 Oct 1876.

Little Arthur’s life was recorded in only one census – in 1880, he was two.

arthur 1880

Edward who was 5’8″ with a light complexion, brown hair and blue eyes, collected a small Civil War pension (initially $4/month, later $10) for serving in Company A, 23rd Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers from 4 Sept 1861 to 11 May 1863 when he was honorably discharged (he also served another 90 days of service between May and August 1864). He claimed this service caused near deafness after the battle of New Bern (14 Mar 1862, North Carolina). He does clarify that: “at home he can hear what his wife says by having learned the notion of her likes”.  He further complains of hemorrhoids and internal bleeding.

collins civil war

In a handwritten letter he describes his service and disability:

page 1 page 22

During his life, he worked as a seaman/mariner, ran a small grocery, worked as a barber and ship chandler. He died suddenly,in 1895, of heart disease, at Salem Harbor while rowing a boat.  He was 57.

death.png

death collins

In 1900, his widow, Sarah, age 62, was living in Salem with her brother Charles Powars, he petitioned on her behalf for a widow’s pension.

She owned two homes – 38 Essex Street, Salem valued at $3,100 with a $1,000 mortgage (a portion rented at $11/month) and 46 English Street, Salem, valued at $1,500 (rented at $10/month).  Her annual rental income was $252 annually; $70 was needed to cover costs of city taxes, water, etc., leaving her just $182 for repairs and to support herself.  She is unable to work due to physical disability.

Brother

tax Salem

Her claim was denied, the determination that she was not in need of additional income.

She never remarried. She died of Chronic Bright’s disease, 5 May 1905, age 63.

Remember little Arthur; remember his parents who buried their four children….how many lives this family, now forgotten, must have touched….

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

CLICK TO ENLARGE ANY IMAGE

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.

1

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.

marriage

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

Remarried

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

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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).

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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.”

Indians

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

bread

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.

thayers

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.

OuterLots

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.

colonial

sylvester militia 2

sylvester militia 1

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

general

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

alderman

In 1836, he was a Street Commissioner.

sylvester

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

prom

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).

forgery

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.

indenture

cemetery purchase

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Baker

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

1840

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

1840

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

buffalo today map

Death

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

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burial

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].

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Probate

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.

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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.

eliza

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.

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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.

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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.

daughters

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.

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

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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.

1838

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.

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marriage73d5c29e-18cf-4f33-aca7-1f8afcaa72ea

  • 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.

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

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Eliza Maria Mathews
1832 – 1891

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

eliza

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

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

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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

cistern

unbaptized child Mathews
1837 – 1837

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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.

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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.

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An Underutilized Treasure! Spread the Word!!

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

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

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

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

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

The process is simple.

  • Head to the researcher door at the Archives (on the opposite side of the building from the public entrance – on Pennsylvania Avenue, directly across the street from the Yellow/Archives Metro Station).
  • After you get through Security, walk straight ahead, into the ground floor research room.
  • Watch a quick Researcher Orientation Presentation (preview here) then go to the desk and get your Researcher Card (valid for a year).
  • Find the records you wish to scan (At this time, they only allow you to scan pension files and Compiled Military Service Records) with the help of the Archives staff, and put in a pull request (pulls Mon-Fri, 10:00, 11:00, 1:00, 2:00 & 3:00; no pulls on Saturday).  When you submit the request, tell them that you want the records delivered to the Innovation Hub.
  • Head to the Innovation Hub (also on the main floor next to the research room) – I have learned that the Hub employees don’t exactly adhere to “pull times”, since it isn’t that busy, they typically retrieve your file in 5-10 minutes vs. the 45 minutes it normally takes.
  • The staff in the Hub will help you scan.  The process is simple:
    • Fill out a form that tells what is in your file (to help when they later put the file online);
    • Name for your file;
    • Line each page up on the scanner and press the scan button;
    • If a page is connected to another page and can’t be placed on the scanner, notify staff and they will scan it for you on a larger scanner;
    • Return the file to Archives staff;
    • Copy the files to your flash drive  (don’t forget to bring one!).
  • Best is that once the file is scanned, they post it on their website for anyone to access for free!  If you want, they give you credit – here is an example of one I scanned https://research.archives.gov/id/24495666

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

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

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

Humphreys_Robert_006

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

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

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

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

UPDATE:

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

Reply

Meet Michael J. Hall – 2015 NERGC Speaker

NERGC

I met Michael J. Hall, in July 2011, a fellow student, at the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR), held annually at the National Archives, Washington DC (Mike later became the assistant director and instructed at NIGR 2012-2014).  I had no idea who he was, or of his role in the genealogy world.  We spoke because name tags revealed a shared surname (my maiden name is Hall and my brick wall, Brian Hall, b. 1727, of Taunton [now Raynham], Bristol County, Massachusetts). I was interested to discover if our family tree connected.  It did not (as later confirmed by Y-DNA).

I, a “wanna be” runner, mentioned a desire to run on the National Mall.  Mike, a Marine, indicated that it was far too dangerous to run alone and offered to join me (okay, so he didn’t offer, he informed me that I wouldn’t be running alone – once a Marine always a Marine!).  We met each day at 5AM (before the heat of the day, when it was still a “cool” 100 degrees) and ran/walked between trees then finished with some intensive stair-climbing.  By sharing these mornings, I came to learn of this amazing man.

mike

Michael J. Hall

As a young man, Michael, a Marine, was first stationed in Okinawa, Japan where he found the LDS Church, and then later at the Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, California, he developed a desired to research his personal family history.

After discharge from active duty, he moved to Provo, Utah where he attained a BS in Anthropology from Brigham Young University (BYU).  He “tested out” of several genealogy courses, certifying proficiency as a self-taught genealogist.   Initially Michael became a Research Archaeologist and was recognized as among the top in his fauna research. He had the ability to identify and apprise everything about a bone, albeit a job not long lasting.  His love for genealogy emerged; he switched careers and has worked in the Family History field for over thirty-two years.

Mike is currently the Deputy Chief Genealogical Officer at FamilySearch (familysearch.org), the largest genealogical organization in the world, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He is tasked with working with libraries, archives, historic and genealogical societies around the world to educate how FamilySearch might help these organizations and to build goodwill.

During his tenure, Mike experienced many ups and downs. He was present  on 15 April 1999 when a mentally ill man stormed the Family History Library, killing two and wounding four before being shot by Salt Lake City police. Mike, who was working as a reference consultant, remembers the “pop, pop” sound and knew immediately what was happening. He and library supervisor, Stephen Young, mobilized to evacuate people from the building. Both were awarded the “Sons of the American Revolution” Medal for Heroism.

Mike’s role at FamilySearch keeps him away from his beloved family at least 12 weeks a year; he participates in 6-7 conferences annually.  Mike, a member of the Bristol Chapter of the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists is ALWAYS excited to come home to New England.  Although born in Germany to parents in the US military, over half of his ancestry has New England roots.

At NERGC, he will be speaking on one of his favorite topics, a lecture based on his maternal Portuguese ancestors who emigrated from the Azores to Fall River, Massachusetts (where Mike still has a lot of cousins). Mike began his Portuguese research by looking through church records on microfilm at the Family History Library using a Portuguese pocket dictionary.  Soon he could recognize key phrases. He jokingly adds “Don’t ask me to pronounce the words, but I am now pretty good at reading the language”.

Several years ago, Mike presented on the subject at a conference in Bologna, Italy in the presence of professional Portuguese researchers.  They inquired as to how he was able to translate the documents.  Mike asked “Why, did I do it wrong?”. They responded, saying they were just curious, the translations were perfect. Last year they honored Mike by inviting him to become a member of the Associação Portuguesa de Genealogia in Lisbon, Portugal (membership is by invitation only).

Mike has written various genealogical guides for the Family History Library, chairs the Genealogy  Committee of the American Library Association and serves in the Genealogy and Local History Committee on the International Federation of Libraries and Associations (IFLA). These groups allow Mike to participate in solving worldwide genealogy concerns.  For example, a group in Africa may be wary of losing their oral history as the younger generation might not want to learn. Mike offers creative solutions, not necessarily through FamilySearch but by working with whichever organization has the best resources to offer for a particular situation, be it Find My Past, Ancestry.com or another organization.

Mike’s latest endeavor is that of “The War of 1812 Pension Digitization Project” (http://www.preservethepensions.org/), an initiative of FGS. These deteriorating files, housed at the National Archives (NARA), are chock full of, as Mike puts it, “unreal stuff” – such as original bible pages and insane asylum records. Fundraising is in progress and 100% of your tax deductible donation goes to digitizing these records (.45 cents per page) which once online will be available to anyone forever for FREE. Currently 50% of the funds have been raised.  Ancestry.com has generously stepped up and agreed to cover costs to digitize half of the records. So every dollar donated will actually go twice as far.

horse

The talented Mike initially crafted and sold little soldiers, and then dragoons for the project (now sold out) and was looking for another method to raise money and awareness of this cause. He has decided to run, bike and walk 1,812 miles this year and is seeking sponsors. He is registered to race in three 5Ks, three 10Ks, two half marathons, two sprint triathlons and one Olympic triathlon.  You can support him by pledging through The Legal Genealogist (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog/2015/02/13/halfway-home/). In addition, Mike has found a source for little sailors, and will have them painted and ready for the National Genealogical Society annual conference in St. Charles, Missouri this coming May.

A goal of 1,812 miles might have been difficult a year ago, but in the past 6 months Mike has lost 80 pounds!  His doctor gave him an excellent bill of health and he credits the “Fast Metabolism Diet” by Haylie Pomroy (and more importantly his wife’s inspiration and cooking) for this new “35 year old body” and renewed energy.

Mike and his wife Joanne, the love of his life, a classmate at BYU, reside in Orem, Utah. Together they had four children and are now the proud grandparents of fifteen.

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Catch Mike at NERGC April 15-18, 2015:

Sailing Beyond Names, Dates, and Places in Family History Research: Using Newspapers to Provide the Rest of the Story  Michael Hall Int./Adv T-112 –  This presentation will focus on newspapers and how they can be used to provide clues to resources that can assist in proving the identity of your ancestor.

Sailing From the Azores to Fall River: The Documentation of One Family’s Journey  Michael Hall Beg./Int. F-236 –  This presentation will focus on how one emigrant Portuguese family from the Azores navigated through the various legal, cultural, and family obstacles to sail into a brighter future.

Early Bird registration ($120) ends 28 February 2015.
Registration after 28 February 2015 is $150.
Single day registration increases from $90 to $100 after 28 February 2015.

Register here, read the program brochure here.

Top Genealogy Blog Award Winners!

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I am honored to have been selected as a Top Genealogy Blog Award Winner!

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