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Samuel Myers - A Game of Who's Who?

May 13, 2024

Who was Samuel Myers who lived on Lost Creek in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, in the early 1800's? Who was his family?

It's not an easy task to sort out when there are multiple people with the same names and published sources are not always accurate. Adding to the complexity are the shifting county lines of Cumberland County, due to the creation of Mifflin County in 1789, Perry County in 1820, and Juniata County in 1831. Township lines shifted as well.

Deeds, land records, probate records and tax records answered many questions, especially when close attention is paid to time periods, locations, occupations and wife's and children's names.

Samuel Myers who lived in Lost Creek was born about 1774, the son of Nicholas Myers and his wife Hannah. Samuel's wife was Catharine Rush. Samuel died in 1828 in Fermanagh Township, Mifflin County. The land on which his house and farm were located would become Juniata County in 1831.

Why the confusion regarding Samuel's wife Catharine? Some sources cite that Samuel's wife's name was Sarah. The confusion is most likely due to the fact that there was another Samuel Myers in Mifflin County in Greenwood Township who married Sarah Niemand, daughter of John Niemand. Therefore deeds exist with the wording “Samuel Myers, and Sarah his wife”. However, this Samuel Myers was born in 1785 and died in 1841 in Wells County, Indiana.

There are also questions about David Myers as one source cited that he was the son of Nicholas Myers. Nicholas did have a son named David Myers but he is not the David Myers born in 1804. David Myers born January 25, 1804, was the son of Samuel Myers. The error may have originated since David owned several tracts of land in Fayette Township in Juniata County which were formerly Nicholas' properties. How one of these properties was acquired by Nicholas reveals quite a story. Stay tuned for Nicholas' Life Sketch.

There was also another David Myers born January 13, 1794, who lived in Mifflin Township, Mifflin County, subsequently Juniata County, then moved to Lack Township where he died in 1863. His wife was Rosanna. His parents are not known however he appears to have a familial relationship with Michael Myers born about 1781 and died in 1838 in Miami County, Ohio. Michael married Elizabeth Niemand, daughter of John Niemand, which places Michael in approximately the same location as the above mentioned Samuel Myers who married Sarah Niemand. Michael and David are recorded next to each other in Milford Township in the 1830 US census. When Michael moved to Ohio in 1833, he deeded land in Milford Township to David Myers. It is likely that this group of men, Michael. Samuel and David, were brothers.

Reverend David Myers - Pennsylvania German

February 19, 2024

David Myers was born in 1804 in Mifflin County which then became Juniata County in 1831. David lived his entire life in the Juniata Valley, as a child and young man along Lost Creek near the Juniata River in today's Fermanagh Township, and later as a married man and father close to McAlisterville in Fayette Township. The Myers family was of German descent and David likely spoke both German and English.

Researchers have encountered what appears to be conflicting information while looking for records and references regarding David Myers. Published works, some written over 100 years ago, contain facts as well as some inaccuracies. These inaccuracies have been replicated over and over on public information sources and seemly accepted as fact though they are not.

David Myers name is David Myers, not David Bishop Myers. There is not a single source containing the name David Bishop Myers or even David B. Myers. David was a Reverend and an Elder in the German Brethren Church, a man of esteem. He may have been a bishop, however there is no confirmation source.

There are also several men named David Myers who lived in Mifflin and Juniata Counties in the 1800s which contributes to the confusion between the men.

Reverend David Myers born in 1804 was the son of Samuel Myers and grandson of Nicholas Myers. His wife was Elizabeth and he lived in Fermanagh Township and then Fayette Township. Land deeds and probate records establish this lineage. David had a son named David born in 1832.

There was also David Myers, son of Nicholas Myers, Rev. David Myers' uncle. He was born about 1777 and was married to Mary. Although he likely never lived in the Juniata Valley, deeds with his name appear in Mifflin county prior to 1820.

Lastly there was David Myers born about 1794. He lived in Milford Township then Lack Township in Juniata County where he died in 1863. His wife was Rosanna. This David was a trustee in the Lutheran and German Reformed Church of St. Paul's in Milford Township. Land deeds and probate records suggest that he is descended from a different branch of Myer's family.

Rev. David Myers and almost all of his family and extended family were members of the German Brethren Church. The German Brethren Church, while being Anabaptist, is a different denomination than the Mennonite Church and the Amish Church. Often the Brethren are inaccurately amalgamated with the Mennonites. It certainly does not help when both denominations in Fayette Township in Juniata County chose the name “Lost Creek”, one being the “Lost Creek Mennonite Church” and the other the “Lost Creek German Brethren Church”. In 1871 the German Brethren adopted the name German Baptist Brethren.

While large, by all appearances David's family was close knit, well educated and innovative. The family included multiple inventors, a doctor and a lawyer. Sources show several siblings lived near each other at times during their lives and also visited each other as the expansion of railroads in the late 1800's facilitated travel.

When Rev. David Myers died in 1868 he was buried in a small cemetery on his land in Juniata County next to his first wife Elizabeth and Elizabeth's parents, Adam and Elizabeth Holtzapfel.

Rudolph Myers - From the Mountains to the Prairies

January 31, 2024

The Myers family arrived in the Juniata Valley in Pennsylvania in the late 1700's, likely around 1790, where they became large landholders and affluent farmers. While they were of Germanic descent, they would be called Pennsylvania Dutch, the word “Dutch” at the time, referring to people from the broad region encompassing the Germanic regions of modern-day Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland.

Rudolph Myers was one of their many Myer's descendants, born in Juniata County in 1833. At the age of 23, Rudolph left the Juniata Valley, the place where his father, his grandfather and his great grandfather had lived for close to 70 years.

Leaving to find one's own path was not unusual among those of Germanic descent. Different from those of English descent, the oldest sons, often financed by their parents or in-laws, left to seek their own destinies while the youngest children stayed home, took care of the parents and usually inherited the family farm. After his marriage, Rudolph held to tradition and left Pennsylvania for undeveloped and sparsely populated land in the northwest corner of the state of Illinois.

It is not known how Rudolph and his young pregnant wife traveled to Jo Daviess County in the summer of 1856. The railroads were relatively young and they may have taken the train. The trip would have been arduous although not as arduous as traveling in a horse and wagon. They likely passed through Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, and the burgeoning city of Chicago before reaching the property Rudolph had purchased just south of the small town of Nora, Illinois.

It was probably a bit of a culture shock. The landscape was much different than the lush mountains and valleys Rudolph left in Pennsylvania. Rudolph's 160 acre property was relatively flat prairie and had never been lived upon. Upon arrival Rudolph would need to build a house before the cold midwest winter set in. He would also need to begin to clear land for crops.

Falls and springs in northern Illinois would bring the threat of tornadoes, a weather phenomenon that Rudolph perhaps had not experienced in Juniata County, Pennsylvania. Wildfires were also a problem, threatening life, livestock and crops. The midwest winter likely brought new challenges.

In 1868 Rudolph sold the property he had worked for 12 years and bought another property right around the corner, so to speak. Perhaps he “traded up” for a nicer farm. Both of Rudolph's former properties are still working farms today.

Rudolph eventually moved to Iowa, where the prairies are more undulating, and then to the town of Sabetha in Kansas which is surrounded by rolling hills. Rudolph retired from farming and ran a store with his son-in-law on Main Street in downtown Sabetha near his home on Washington Avenue. Sabetha is where Rudolph died in 1907.

In Search of Underwood

July 3, 2023

The crew at GenealogyTrek visited Boston to spark the research for todays this post. While driving some of the same roads that the colonists used, it is hard to imagine what the landscape looked like back in the early days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Joseph Underwood arrived in Hingham in 1637, presumably from England. He was one of the Puritans who left England to seek a more pure religious life.

Puritans were different from Pilgrims. The Puritans wanted to purify the Church of England from within. Their desire was to carry out reforms to remove corruption within the church. They did not want a separation from the English establishment. The Puritans far outnumbered the Pilgrims in the Colony. The Pilgrims, on the other hand, desired a separation of church and state, and their persecution by the King of England drove them to leave England for America.

By 1650 Joseph Underwood moved to Watertown, today a part of greater metropolitan Boston, west of Cambridge, where he raised his family until his death in 1676. His oldest son, Joseph Underwood, also raised his family in Watertown, Joseph's death occurring in 1691. At the time of Joseph's death in 1691, all but 1 of his 9 children were minors. Joseph owned property which he bequeathed to his two eldest sons, John and Joseph. The rest of his children, including his 3rd son Joshua and 4th son Jonathan, were devised cash.

Joseph's death sent the family in several different directions. GenealogyTrek has already covered the path of second son Joseph Underwood from Reading to Charlestown to Chelmsford, then Westford, the town which Joseph was instrumental in founding. GenealogyTrek's road trip to Westford included a visit to Fairview Cemetery where Joseph's grave can be found atop the highest hill in the cemetery next to the road. Other than the gravestone, there is no visible evidence that the Underwood family was ever there. The town common, a short distance away, contains memorials to the soldiers that fought in US wars. However Joseph Underwood, who sold part of his land so that Westford could create the common, is not among those honored.

Joseph Underwood's other sons John and Joshua were as influential as his son Joseph.

John Underwood, the oldest son, stayed in Watertown, where he married, had children, was widowed, had a relationship and a bastard son, married the woman of the bastard son, moved to Needham, and had more children.

Joshua Underwood, the third oldest son, moved with his mother and her second husband to Sherborn, Massachusetts. He married, had children, and died relatively young, decades before his older brothers.

It would be interesting to know how many Americans can attribute their heritage to Joseph Underwood and his three sons John, Joseph and Joshua Underwood.

Jeremiah Fowler - Father of Kentucky Pioneers

May 23, 2023

Jeremiah Fowler lived in Prince George's County British Colonial Maryland in the 1700's. He and his wife raised a large family near Bladensburg on a 100 acre plantation known as “Spraddox Forrest”. He built a nice house, grew tobacco, and had ample apple and peach orchards.

When America went to war with Britain in 1776, no battles occurred near his plantation so the property was not affected. However in 1781 at the age of 69, Jeremiah and his wife Drucilla sold their plantation to their son-in-law. The reason for the sale appears to be fairly evident. At the time of the sale, Jeremiah's sons had moved to the Northwest territory leaving no one to work the plantation, other than his son-in-law.

With his property divested and the American Revolution not yet over, where did Jeremiah go? Did the almost 70 year old man load up a wagon and make a 250 mile journey to join his sons? Did he leave Maryland at all? Or did he and his wife move in with their son-in-law and daughter to live out the rest of their lives?

Richard Fowler - Life of a Maryland Colonist - Part 2

March 31, 2023

Richard Fowler was 5 years of age when his father died and he became an orphan in British Colonial Maryland in 1715. Nothing is known of Richard's life between 1715 and 1736. Richard did not inherit land nor did he own any land.

In 1742 Richard's life improved significantly when he married the widow of Stephen Stewart. Stephen Stewart owned 2 large plantations between the forks of the Patuxent in addition to other tracts which in total amounted to 555 acres of land.

In colonial Maryland widow's received a share of their husbands estates. If a husband died intestate, the widow's share was ⅓ of the estate, real and personal, during their life. Upon the widow's death the share was distributed to the husband's heirs. If a husband wrote a Will, the widow would receive at least a ⅓ widow's dower however husbands could also include additional directives or stipulations. Some husbands devised their widows more than a ⅓ share. Some directed that the widow's portion of the estate was for her and her heirs, meaning if she remarried and had children with another man, her heirs would receive a portion. Some husbands stipulated that upon remarriage, a widow was to relinquish her dower to his heirs.

When Stephen Stewart wrote his will he affirmed his widow's ⅓ right to his estate without a remarriage clause. When Richard married the “rich widow” his life and social status changed. He was eligible for important positions in the colony and became first, an overseer, and later a tobacco inspector.

The importance of tobacco to colonial Maryland resulted in necessary positions to ensure the crops made it from the plantation to the ports for export. One of the positions was overseer. Overseers were responsible for road and bridge maintenance as the roads and bridges were essential for transporting crops from the plantations to the ports. Overseers were so important that Maryland law allowed them to confiscate trees or even land for the construction of roads and bridges.

The position of tobacco inspector was created by the Maryland General Assembly in 1747. This position was necessary to ensure that quality product was contained in the hogsheads prior to loading and shipment overseas.

Richard's wife died around 1755 and Richard's life changed again. With her death the land descended to Stephen Stewart's heirs and Richard's life on his wife's share of her deceased husband's plantations came to an end.

Samuel Fowler - Life of a Maryland Colonist - Part 1

March 21, 2023

Samuel Fowler was born in British Colonial Maryland in 1706. When Samuel was 8 years of age, his father died. This would have a significant impact on Samuel's life.

In British Colonial Maryland, when a father died children were considered orphans, even if their mother was alive. Samuel's mother was still living and took a second husband. It was not unusual for the children to be sent off to learn a trade or profession, especially when there was not an inheritance, as was Samuel's case. The term “step-father” or “step-child” did not exist because a second husband had no role in raising another's children. If there was an inheritance or the children were very young the second husband might assume the role of “guardian”.

Samuel eventually became a planter and grew tobacco and corn. He did not own a plantation but appears to have leased 100 acres of land. He did not have any indentured servants or own any slaves. In addition to farming, he raised livestock - sheep, lambs, cows and pigs.

Tobacco was the principal crop of British Colonial Maryland and life in the colony revolved around ensuring its successful production. There were fines for letting tobacco houses fall into bad condition or for allowing tobacco to rot in hogsheads.

There were no facilities for the homeless, poor or infirmed. Fellow colonists were expected to care for these individuals and the court placed them in private homes.

Illnesses and accidents resulted in short lifespans for many colonists. Samuel's father died when he was about 42 years of age, apparently fairly quickly and maybe from an accident, leaving a pregnant wife and 11 children. Samuel was 45 years of age when he died. Common diseases were smallpox, malaria, typhoid and dysentery. Common accidents and causes of death included drowning, fire, felling of trees, and horse related accidents such as being thrown, dragged or fallen on by the horse.

John Fowler - Putting the Puzzle Together

March 17, 2023

John Fowler, son of Thomas Fowler and Susannah Iiams, was born 320 years ago in British Colonial Maryland. John's birth date and the birth dates of his 11 other siblings are known because they were recorded in the church records of Queen Anne Parish in Prince George's County.

Each record is like a puzzle piece. Pieces may include court records, probate records, land deeds, church records, censuses, and newspaper articles, obituaries, and ads.

A single probate record in 1744 revealed that John and all of his siblings survived to adulthood. Other records showed that John had interactions with and helped younger brothers Benjamin, Samuel and Richard.

While John's marriage to Mary Linthicum and the subsequent birth of son Thomas were recorded in the church records of All Hallows Parish in Anne Arundel County, we first learned of a son John through the county court records and affirmed through probate records. “John, son of John”. There was only 1 other John Fowler in Anne Arundel county during this period of time. He was the son of Benjamin and too young to have been mentioned in the court records.

Once it was established that John Fowler had a son John the puzzle pieces began to fit together and made sense. John deeded part of his plantation “Fowler's Range” to his son Thomas. If Thomas were the only or the oldest heir, there would have been no need for a deed. Mary, John's wife, did not release her dower's right when John Fowler sold his part of “Fowler's Range” to Henry Hall Jr. Yet it was known from Mary's brother's probate records years later that she was alive at the time of the sale and therefore should have consented to the deed. Mary did not give her consent because it was not her husband who sold the land but her son who sold the land. The land had descended to John Jr. as heir-at-law and he had no choice but to sell it to satisfy his father's debt.

Susannah Fowler - Spinster and Single Mom

January 29, 2023

Susannah Fowler, daughter of Thomas Fowler and Susannah Iiams, had the misfortune of being orphaned in British Colonial Maryland in 1715 when she was 13 years of age. While Susannah's mother was still living, during this period in time children were considered orphans when their father died. Unfortunate because she was not old enough to marry but old enough to be sent from her family to learn a craft or a trade to support herself until she found a husband.

As the years passed, Susannah did not find a husband. Women were considered “spinsters” if they reached the age of 21 without marrying. Susannah's 11 other siblings married and had children and Susannah was an aunt many times over. Maybe she longed for a family of her own?

Around the age of 32, Susannah gave birth out of wedlock to a baby boy. As was the custom of the day, the child's surname was that of the mother, “Fowler”. Two more children were born out of wedlock over the next 4 years.

Having children out of wedlock was a crime in British Colonial Maryland and Susannah would have to appear in court to confess to the crime of bastardy. She first appeared in court in 1740 and was convicted of having 3 children with Thomas John Hammond. Thomas John paid the fines. She was called to court again in 1742 for the crime of bastardy and fined 30 shillings.

Susannah raised her children. It is not known how much interaction their father had with them prior to his death in 1767. Susannah's son Elisha Fowler became a cabinet maker, first in Annapolis, then Frederick and later in life, in Georgetown.

In 1778 at the age of 76, Susannah purchased a lot in Georgetown, a part of “Beatty and Hawkins Addition”, located near the present day campus of Georgetown University. In 1790 Susannah wrote her will, implying that her son Elisha and his family all lived with her on her property. Susannah bequeathed her lot to her 2 grandsons, Elisha Fowler Jr. and Thomas John Fowler. She died the following year.

Thomas Fowler - A Thought-Provoking Will

January 4, 2023

Thomas Fowler was born in 1700, the second son of Thomas Fowler and Susannah Iams. He was 14 years of age when his father died intestate. Without an inheritance, Thomas was likely bound in servitude and sent away from his family to earn a trade, a common practice in British Colonial Maryland.

Thomas married in 1726 and eventually saved enough money to purchase a 38 acre tract of land in Prince George's County, Maryland, near his childhood home.

In November of 1742, Thomas wrote his Last Will and Testament. His estate does not appear to have been significant, however he wrote a will anyway. Thomas devised all his property, both real and personal to his wife Elizabeth. The will did not mention any children. Thomas lived another 4 years before he died. Why did Thomas write a will years before his death? Was he sick at the time? Or did he want to ensure that he would not die intestate? That what happened to him would not be the fate of his children?

Inheritance law of the day would have provided for his widow and for a first born son. His widow would receive a dower and his son the entire property. If Thomas only had daughters, the law would have provided for them. The daughters would each receive a share of the property.

Does Thomas' action suggest that he had 2 or more sons by November of 1742? If so, Thomas ensured that his wife would possess the land, be able to keep the children with her, and devise the property as she wanted.

Or… Does Thomas' action suggest that he had no heirs by November of 1742? If so, his estate would belong solely to his wife after his death. Without heirs and had he not devised the property to his wife, upon his wife's death the property would lawfully descend to his older brother William.

These questions might never be answered however exploring the possibilities sometimes results in examining sources and data with a different perspective.

William Fowler - First Born Son

January 2, 2023

William Fowler was born in British Colonial Maryland in 1699, the first son of Thomas Fowler and his wife Susannah Iams. At the time of his birth, William's father Thomas did not own any land. However by the time Thomas died around 1715, Thomas had acquired a 400 acre plantation in Prince George's county known as “Ridgley's and Tyler's Chance”.

The advantages of being a first born son in British Colonial Maryland were significant when the family owned land. Especially when there were other sons. William had 7 younger brothers. Thomas Fowler died intestate, without a will, and the British law of succession was very clear. William, the first born son, inherited the entire plantation.

If William's father had written a will, he could have devised the entire plantation to William, which would not have been uncommon. Or he could have devised the plantation among several sons. William, as the oldest son, would have undoubtedly received a share.

As the heir of Thomas Fowler's estate, William, a minor, would have received a guardian until he reached the age of majority. His brothers and sisters would not have been as fortunate. During this period in history, children whose fathers had died were considered orphans, even if their mother was alive. Without an inheritance, William's siblings were likely bound in servitude to learn a trade or a craft so they one day would be production citizens of the province.

Oh, how lucky one was to be a first born son in British Colonial Maryland.

Benjamin Fowler - The Wealthy Relation

December 29, 2022

Benjamin Fowler, son of Thomas Fowler and Susannah Iiams, was from a large family. He was born in Prince George's, Province of Maryland, in 1705. He had 12 siblings and when his father died in 1715, probably unexpectedly and also intestate, he and his siblings were all quite young. By law, his oldest brother William would inherit his father's plantation - the rest of his siblings would have to find their own paths. As was common during this time period, he and most of his brothers and sisters were likely bound in servitude to learn a craft or a trade.

Benjamin ended up in the Broadneck area of Anne Arundel County where in 1732 he married the widow Hellen Mortimer. Hellen had a very wealthy grandmother, and Hellen was 1 of 3 heirs to a large amount of land in Broadneck. Hellen's grandmother took care of Benjamin, Hellen and their family, providing Benjamin with lucrative professions and income.

Benjamin was now a man of means and he was often bondsmen for his friends and family. He took in orphans. He also provided surety on the administrations of estates.

And then Benjamin made a really bad decision. The husband of his oldest sister Elizabeth needed money. On July 1, 1742, Benjamin loaned Elizabeth's husband Edward Rumney, 1000 pounds. The agreement was that Edward was to repay the money when Benjamin required it. Accept when Benjamin required it, Edward did not pay.

Without more records, it is hard to say whether this one incident began Benjamin's slide into financial distress or whether his business skills were poor and he was already heading in that direction.

Over the next several years, the properties which were inherited by his wife and him were sold and by the time Benjamin died, he appears to have had no assets.

One of Benjamin's sons, Jubb Fowler, became a carpenter and eventually the Keeper of the State House in Annapolis. Historian Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse wrote that “[Jubb] Fowler is the only Annapolis laborer of the period to have gained significant upward economic mobility”. What Papenfuse did not know when he wrote this sentence is that Jubb was born into a family of means which had fallen on hard times and by necessity became a laborer. His mobility was aided by neighbors and friends in the area who remembered his parents and his parents' families.

Elizabeth Fowler - “Houston, we have a problem.”

November 3, 2022

Elizabeth Fowler, daughter of Thomas Fowler and Susannah Iiams, was born in British Colonial Maryland on June 14, 1697. At the age of 15, she married John Durden, had no children before John's death, then married a second time Samuel Burgess. This was what had been thought. But then a source was found which contradicted what was previously believed and documented.

At GenealogyTrek we like to call this a “Houston, we have a problem” moment - the words spoken by Tom Hanks who played astronaut Jim Lovell in the movie Apollo 13. The phrase seems a little ironic when one learns that the scene is not quite accurate. The words actually spoken to NASA were “Okay, Houston, we've had a problem here” and were said by astronaut Jack Swigert initially and then repeated by Jim Lovell.

While researching the Fowler family of Anne Arundel and Prince George's Counties, British Colonial Maryland, a source was discovered which changed everything thought about Elizabeth Fowler. It was a small but powerful piece of documentation, the final distribution of the personal estate of Elizabeth's father, Thomas Fowler.

Final distribution payments of a personal estate are made to the heirs, the sons and daughters of the deceased. In British Colonial Maryland there was a lawful order of inheritance which followed the British practice of primogeniture. If a daughter was married, her husband received the payment. If her husband was deceased, the payment was made to her eldest male son.

When the final distribution of the estate of Thomas Fowler was made in 1744, Elizabeth's portion was paid to Samuel Howard. The significance of the source was immediate. “Houston, we have a problem. Why is the surname Howard and not Burgess???”

Subsequent research affirmed that Elizabeth Fowler, daughter of Thomas Fowler and Susannah IIams, married Samuel Howard around 1715. Following Samuel's death she married Samuel's cousin Cornelius Howard. After Cornelius' death, Elizabeth married a third time, Edward Rumney. Research also uncovered familial interactions and connections between Elizabeth and Mark Brown, her mother's second husband, and Elizabeth and her brothers.

Reader Question About Benjamin Fowler

July 5, 2022

Question

Dear Genealogy Trek, You have a great blog about Benjamin Fowler (1705-1762) However, there may be more on Benjamin ...... See: Early Colonial Settlers of Southern Maryland and Virginia's Northern Neck Counties. This is well documented with a reference to the 1774 Inventory of Benjamin's estate and a third wife, Susanna Jacob. Is there another Benjamin Fowler or did our Benjamin have a third marriage. Inventory mentions "next of kin" John Fowler and Jubb Fowler. Please have a look.

Answer

Early Colonial Settlers of Southern Maryland and Virginia's Northern Neck Counties is a great site to reference. On their home page, the site lists the published works they use. Mentioned are the works of Harry Wright Newman who wrote about the Fowler family when he published his works in 1933. Most of what is documented on The Early Colonial Settler's web site regarding Benjamin Fowler is a reflection of Newman's works.

We have spent three years reviewing some of the same records used by Newman as well as additional records that have become available since 1933 and have reached a different conclusion regarding Benjamin Fowler.

Benjamin Fowler's son Benjamin Fowler born in 1737 married Susannah Jacob. Our conclusion is based on a lot of evidence, the following being the strongest. As you mentioned, the “nearest kin” were John Fowler and Jubb Fowler. Benjamin Fowler died intestate. In 1774 Maryland inheritance law dictated that the next of kin, or collateral heirs, inherit the estate IF the direct heirs died. Therefore collateral heirs' names were recorded on the inventories and accounts as “next of kin” or “nearest kin”. Fathers were first, followed by brothers. John and Jubb, Benjamin's brothers, are collateral heirs, which is why their names are recorded on the inventory.

Additionally, slaves (by name) and livestock (by name) are included in Benjamin Fowler's inventory. These slaves and livestock were part of Hammutal Stinchcomb's ⅓ dower of the estate of Richard Boone, which means that the Benjamin Fowler who married Hammutal Stinchcomb is the same Benjamin Fowler who married Susannah Jacob. After Hammutal's death, they became Benjamin's property.

We appreciate your feedback and welcome any further questions.

John Saxon - Revolutionary War Soldier and Centenarian

June 9, 2022

Some individuals have many informational sources pertaining to their lives and sorting fact from fiction can be challenging. Such is the case with John Saxon, a Revolutionary War Soldier who lived to be over 100 years of age.

John Saxon's sources include two depositions regarding his Revolutionary War service, newspaper articles, a diary of an acquaintance, SAR and DAR applications, and biographical sketches of descendants.

Several of the sources are contradictory. One source states that John Saxon ran away to Georgia at the age 12, another source states age 15. One source states John was a drummer boy, One states that he served the entire war and was wounded at the last battle by sword thrust in shoulder.

While none of the above could be substantiated, John's life sketch is rich in detail due to his own depositions and documentation of the events he lived through during his 100 years of life.

Elizabeth Charlotte Fairchild - Child of the Revolutionary War

June 2, 2022

Elizabeth Charlotte Fairchild, known as Charlotte, was a child when the Continental Army arrived to winter in Morristown in 1777 and in 1779. We all know how the story ends but at the time, General George Washington was a traitor, British enemy #1. Washington chose Morristown for several reasons, one which was that many in the town were sympathetic to the American cause. Still there were others in the community whose loyalties were with England.

According to family stories the Fairchild's hosted General Washington and Charlotte assisted her mother in preparing meals. As children, were Charlotte and her siblings fearful of their parent's role in assisting General Washington? Did they feel safe with General Washington so near? This part of the story we will never know. The part of the story that survived is the pride of having fed General George Washington.

Loammi Casterline - Pension Application Provides Genealogical Information

May 26, 2022

On October 16, 1832, Loammi Casterline appeared in the Steuben County court in the town of Wheeler to complete the process for a Revolutionary War pension. Several months before, on June 7, 1832, the United States Congress passed the Pension Act for Revolutionary War Veterans. The Act granted pensions to “all persons enlisted, drafted, or who volunteered and who were bound to military service” and included “Continental Line”, “State troops”, “militia” and “volunteers”.

The Act required that “every applicant produce the best proof in his power” and if the original commissions or discharge papers were not available, then to provide “the testimony of at least one credible witness”. Applicants were also to provide a full account of their service and answer 7 statements:

  1. Where and in what year were you born?
  2. Have you any record of your age, and if so, where is it?
  3. Where were you living when called into service; where have you lived since the Revolutionary war, and where do you live now?
  4. How were you called into service; were you drafted, did you volunteer, or were you a substitute? And if a substitute, for whom?
  5. State the names of some of the Regular Officers who were with the troops where you served; such Continental and Militia Regiments as you can recollect, and the general circumstances of your service.
  6. For Soldiers, Did you ever receive a discharge from service, and if so, by whom was it given and what has become of it? For Officers, Did you ever receive a commission, and if so, by whom was it signed, and what has become of it?
  7. State the names of persons to whom you are known in your present neighborhood, and who can testify as to your character for veracity, and their belief of your services as a soldier of the Revolution.

The Pension Applications and the responses to these 7 statements can be found online at The National Archives and provide a wealth of genealogical information. In Loammi's case, from his stated date of birth we can calculate that Loammi was just 15 years of age when he substituted for his Uncle Joseph Casterline. At 16 years of age, Loammi re-enlisted. Loammi testified he had an older sister. The testimony also includes exactly where Loammi lived before and after the war.

The National Archives also has pension applications for other conflicts as well. If your relative has served the United States and applied for a pension, read the application carefully for it may provide new genealogical information.

Malinda Saxon - The Value of a Written Life Sketch

May 19, 2022

At Genealogy Trek we write Life Sketches about ancestors, we tell their stories. FamilySearch, a genealogy website, suggests that “Writing your family history helps you see gaps in your own research and raises opportunities to find new information.” Genealogy Trek consistently finds this statement to be valid.

While writing the life sketch of Malinda Saxon new questions arose, additional sources were gathered, and the narrative changed for both Malinda and her husband Ira Casterline. It was known that Ira lived the later part of his life in Blackford County, Indiana, but for a few years when he lived in Illinois. It was presumed Ira left Indiana after the death of his wife Malinda. This is not the case however as a new source emerged and changed their story. Malinda was with Ira as they not only moved to Illinois but also spent about a year in Wisconsin too.

The new information shines a little more light on the family and enriches the story of their lives.

Ira Casterline - “Uncle Ira”

May 12, 2022

Ira Casterline died in Blackford County, Indiana, in 1898 at the age of 93. He had lived in Blackford County for almost 60 years. When Ira's obituary was published in the Hartford City Telegram, the headline was “Uncle Ira Casterline - Oldest Man in Blackford County Called to HIs Eternal Home Yesterday Noon.”

At Genealogy Trek we have read a lot of obituaries and have yet to see another with the term “Uncle” in the headline. Likely the term was one of endearment, used out of love and respect people had for Ira as his obituary stated that everybody called Ira “Uncle Ira”. So here's a photo of our Uncle Ira:

genealogy research family search McManemon Family Manifest Ship DeWitt Clinton
Circa 1893. Photo courtesy of Darrin Williams.

Mahetable Casterline Miles - Almost a Centenarian

May 5, 2022

Mahetable Casterline was born in Indiana in 1842 and lived 99 years, dying shortly after her 99th birthday. As a child she lived in a log cabin. She traveled to Kansas after her marriage to David Franklin Miles by covered wagon or railway, the train stop being the end of the tract in Marysville, Kansas.

During her lifetime, the rail lines would expand to the Pacific Ocean, log cabins became houses, horse and wagons became automobiles, the Pony Express became telegrams then phone calls. With all the advances, a family story relates that her house still had a dirt floor which she preferred.

David Franklin Miles - From Farmer to Hotel Proprietor

April 28, 2022

David Franklin Miles was an early settler in Marshall County, Kansas, arriving with his family around 1871 and settling near Marysville. At the time, Marshall County was the end of the railroad line. The first train reached Marysville on January 20, 1871. It is unknown how the Miles family traveled to Kansas, whether by horse drawn wagon or railroad, and it is not known what David intended to do in Kansas. However at some point in his life, David left farming and became a hotel proprietor. If the family had traveled by rail, maybe David saw opportunities with that experience. Or if he had tried farming, maybe David decided to change occupations after the grasshoppers ate all the crops in Marshall County in the summer of 1874.

Phoebe Wass - Mother of 12 Children

April 21, 2022

Phoebe Wass married Lorenzo Miles at the age of 18 around 1825. Over the next 26 years of their marriage, Phoebe gave birth to 12 known children, about 1 child every 2 years. Phoebe gave birth to children while her older children were having her grandchildren. What a strong woman Phoebe must have been!

Both Phoebe and Lorenzo had to have worked hard to provide for their large family. While their son's biographical sketch mentioned Lorenzo's work at the cobbler's bench, cutting wood and hauling goods between Cincinnati and Hartford City, the household work needed to feed such a large family must have at times seemed overwhelming. All 12 children made it to adulthood which likely is a testament to the work ethic and disciple of both Phoebe and Lorenzo Miles.

Lorenzo Miles - What's in a Name?

April 14, 2022

What's in a name? That question came to mind when Genealogy Trek researched Lorenzo Miles. Lorenzo seemed like an usual name for someone born in 1801 Massachusetts. Further research revealed that many family trees call Lorenzo “Lorenzo Dowell Miles”. Where does the middle name “Dowell” come from? Genealogy Trek has not located a single source that Dowell was Lorenzo's middle name or that Lorenzo even used a “D.”

Trying to find a source for the middle name “Dowell”, Genealogy Trek learned about Lorenzo Dow.

Lorenzo Dow was a Methodist circuit minister, a traveling preacher, who preached in New England, including Massachusetts, a few years prior to Lorenzo Miles' birth. He was immensely popular and drew crowds from all religions. It is thought that Lorenzo Dow preached to more people than any other preacher of his era. According to the New England Historical Society, Lorenzo Dow was so beloved that couples would delay their weddings until Lorenzo came to town. He would preside at their weddings, although not as an official minister, and the couples he married would often name their children Lorenzo, or even Lorenzo Dow.

So, Lorenzo Miles was likely named after the preacher Lorenzo Dow.

Thomas Miles - Soldier or Story Teller?

April 7, 2022

In 1845 at the age of 83, Thomas Miles gave a very compelling and detailed account of his service in the Revolutionary War as part of his application for a pension. The testimony is filled with names of commanders and places of events which can be verified. What can not be verified is whether Thomas Miles actually served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War.

Genealogy Trek has scoured resources available today on the internet including orderly books, muster rolls, and pay accounts and has not found a single entry for Thomas Miles. Yet it seems hard to believe that Thomas invented the story, especially in 1845 when information was not readily obtainable like it is today.

The commissioners of Blackford County in Indiana believed him when they exempted Thomas from paying taxes. The residents of Hartford City believed him when they celebrated Thomas and several other Revolutionary War soldiers each July 4th. The Daughters of the American Revolution believed him when they erected a Revolutionary War Hero marker in 1933 on the Blackford County Courthouse lawn and included his name.

Thomas' pension application was denied. His children continued to pursue the pension after Thomas' death. They were never successful in proving Thomas' Revolutionary War service.

Mary Underwood - From Massachusetts to Indiana

March 31, 2022

In March of 1876, Congress passed a resolution recommending that as part of the celebration of the centennial of American Independence, residents of counties and towns commission someone to assemble historical sketches. The result was volumes of books published over the next 40 years containing Biographical Sketches of individuals. And if your ancestor is one of the individuals featured, you have struck gold.

Mary Underwood, wife of Thomas Miles, had three grandchildren who were written about in a biographical sketch book, Hanford R. Miles, Adam Winslow Miles and Alfred Miles. These 3 sketches provide details of the trek which led Mary and her husband Thomas from Massachusetts, to New Jersey, to New York, and finally to Indiana between the dates of 1810 and 1840. The sketches provide a wealth of information about genealogical links as well as insight into the hardships and challenges of the time.

Tomorrow April 1, is a big day for genealogists and researchers. The US 1950 census will be made public, no April Fool's joke. What gold will you find in the census?

Mary Pool of Reading, Massachusetts Bay Colony

March 24, 2022

Genealogical research requires an understanding of probate records and inheritance law. Genealogy Trek's ongoing research of genealogy records often leads us to update our Context to include information which helps to interpret these genealogy records.

Today, Genealogy Trek has added Mary Pool, which sheds light on the value of reading and understanding probate records. Mary Pool, sometimes spelled Poole, was born in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and married Joseph Underwood in 1762. There are several Mary Pools who were contemporaries so finding Mary Pool's parents could be a challenge. However, Mary's age and location narrowed the list to two possibilities, Lt. Jonathan Poole of Reading or Samuel Pool of Reading.

The probate record of Lt. Jonathan Poole included his will written in March of 1795 and noted that his daughter Mary, surname “Nichols”, was deceased.

Samuel Pool died intestate in 1752 so there was no will however, his probate records revealed that his daughter Mary was a minor. When Mary's mother died in 1763, her probate records record a payment to Joseph Underwood, which was Mary's share of her mother's dower. This record links Mary Pool to Rebecca Pool, her mother, and back to Samuel Pool, her father.

Joseph Underwood - Revolutionary War Soldier?

March 17, 2022

Today's Joseph Underwood is the fourth Joseph Underwood featured on Genealogy Trek. The Underwood family has been documented in the Massachusetts Bay Colony since 1637. The Joseph Underwood featured today was born in 1739, 102 years after the arrival of his forbearer Joseph Underwood. With each generation, sons named their sons Joseph Underwood so that by the time of the Revolutionary War, there are records for several Joseph Underwoods.

There is Joseph Underwood from Sudbury, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the 5th Massachusetts Regiment at Natick on May 11, 1777 under Col. Rufus Putnam and Capt. Joseph Morse. Joseph died the following year on August 30, 1778.

There is Joseph Underwood from Lexington, Massachusetts. He was part of the Lexington militia commanded by Capt. John Parker who reported to duty at Cambridge on May 6, 1775, where he served 5 days.

There is Joseph Underwood from Holliston, Massachusetts. On July 28, 1780 he was part of a unit under Col. Abner Perry and Capt. Staples Chamberlain who responded to an alarm at Rhode Island. He served 14 days.

There is Joseph Underwood from Westford, Massachusetts. He enlisted June 13, 1777 and for a term of 3 years. He first served under Col. Ichabod Alden, and then under Col. Brooks and Capt. William Hudson Ballard. On March 8, 1818, Joseph lived in Putney, Vermont where he applied for a Revolutionary War pension.

Lastly, there is Joseph Underwood also from Westford, Massachusetts, who was part of the Minutemen from Westford who responded to Lexington on Apr 19, 1775, where “the shot heard ‘round the world” was fired, considered to be the beginning of the Revolutionary War. He served under Col. William Prescott and Capt. Timothy Underwood for a period of 9 days.

But are the Joseph Underwood's from Westford two different people, or the same one? The answer to this question answers whether the Joseph Underwood featured today participated in the Revolutionary War.

Joseph Underwood featured today lived in Westford in 1775. Also in Westford were Joseph's uncle, Timothy Underwood, and Timothy's son Joseph Underwood. According to the pension application of Timothy's son Joseph Underwood, he enlisted on June 13, 1777. There is no mention of any prior service. However, to receive a pension a soldier had to serve in the Continental Army, Navy or Marines at least nine months, so Minuteman service was irrelevant.

On April 19, 1775, Capt. Timothy Underwood's Minutemen from Westford responded to Lexington. Among the Minutemen was Joseph Underwood. Did Captain Timothy Underwood muster his 17 year son or his 35 year old nephew?

Ruth Parker - Audience to the Birth of America

March 10, 2022

Ruth Parker was born almost 320 years ago in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and died at the age of 83 in the United States of America. Reading was the town of her birth in 1704 and her death in 1787.

Ruth was married twice and widowed twice, first to Joseph Bancroft and then Joseph Underwood. She spent many more years as a widow than as a spouse. Ruth's father, Capt. Kendal Parker, was a prominent man in the community of Reading, a justice of the peace and a deacon in the church. Following the death of his daughter's second husband, Capt. Parker ensured that Ruth would be taken care of for the rest of her life.

Ruth lived through the Revolutionary War. Her only son, Joseph Underwood, was likely one of the minutemen from Reading who responded to Concord where the first shot of the Revolutionary War was fired on April 19, 1775. At the time of Ruth's death, the future of the country was still uncertain. The war had been won but the new nation was a loose confederation of 13 former British colonies. It was not until after Ruth's death that a stronger union emerged with the ratification of the United States Constitution and the election of George Washington as President in 1789.

Joseph Underwood - Harvard Graduate

March 3, 2022

Almost 285 years ago, on July 4, 1735, Joseph Underwood, along with 37 classmates, graduated from Harvard College. At the time, Harvard was nearing its 100th birthday, instructing its students in a classical curriculum influenced by Puritan ideology. Joseph's education would have included courses on divinity, preaching and pastoral care as well as mathematics, logic, languages, philosophy, history and law.

Harvard graduates received high social status in Puritan New England and were expected to play a prominent role in their communities. Joseph Underwood, “Gentleman” began his career as a teacher and a preacher, first in Reading, Massachusetts, and then in Chelmsford and surrounding communities. Sadly, his career ended shortly after it began when Joseph died at the age of 37 in 1745.

Susanna Parker - Ever Heard of a Shaker?

February 24, 2022

At Genealogy Trek the genealogy research process accompanied with the writing of a Life Sketch often results in additional questions, like with today's ancestor, Susanna Parker.

Susanna Parker was born in 1687 in Reading, Massachusetts Bay Colony, married Joseph Underwood in 1707, and mother to 13 children. Susanna and Joseph were together for almost 54 years before he died in 1761. Susanna lived another 8 years and died in 1769. Looking at the burial record the question emerged, Why was Susanna not buried with her husband? Not only was she not buried in the same cemetery, Susanna was buried in a different town altogether. To answer the question, additional research about the family was needed. Each of Susanna's children was researched starting with the children that were fairly well documented. It was the last child researched, Mary, who provided a surprise and insight into the family with language in her will alluding to “the deluded sect called Shaking Quakers”, or Shakers.

What is not included in today's LIfe Sketch are the challenges faced by some of Susanna's children as they moved away into the wilderness of Northern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire and Vermont. The research uncovered multiple town records which set bounties for killing bears, wolves and rattlesnakes. Not only were these threats to livestock, but to adults and children as well.

Joseph Underwood - Forerunner of the American Dream

February 17, 2022

Some ancestors leave giant footsteps while others leave tiny tiptoes. Joseph Underwood, son of Joseph Underwood of Watertown, is one who left giant footprints. Not only are the footprints giant in regard to the records he left, but also in regard to his legacy.

Joseph Underwood led a long and full life. Born in Watertown in 1681, Joseph moved to Reading after his father's death in 1691 and lived with a relative, Thomas Hodgeman. Thomas was so thankful for Joseph's assistance with his estate, that in 1703 Thomas gifted Joseph land in Charlestown End, today's Stoneham, Massachusetts. Joseph purchased additional acreage next to Doleful Pond and it was here that Joseph started his family.

Joseph eventually moved to Chelmsford, Massachusetts, after buying land that belonged to his aunt Elizabeth and her husband, Arthur Crouch. Through hard work and opportunity, Joseph was able to improve his socioeconomic class from weaver to yeoman. Joseph grew his estate to over 300 acres, gifting 235 acres of his property to his sons. He became an influential leader in the community and led the effort to create the town of Westford from the west precinct of Chelmsford.

Joseph's descendants continued his legacy and include preachers, town leaders, judges, lawyers, and Revolutionary War soldiers. Truly, Joseph achieved the American Dream before there was an America.

Joseph Underwood - First Generation American

February 10, 2022

Joseph Underwood was born in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1650, just 30 years after the arrival of the Pilgrims. Life in the colony was so very different from life today. Survival depended on cooperation, communal living and following strict rules. There was little, if any, separation between church and state. Town records from Watertown where Joseph lived, contained rules such as “no man … shall have liberty to set down amongst us, unless he first have consent of the Town” and “Ordered that the Next Sabbath Day every person shall take his or their seat appointed to them … if one of the inhabitants shall act contrary … for the first offense be reproved by the Deacons and for the second offense pay a fine of 2 shillings.” There were numerous rules about fences and the cutting of trees. One roaming hog could demolish the next harvest and trees were vital to maintain fences that corralled the livestock. Adultery and fornication were crimes that included jail time. Why? If children resulted from a dalliance and the parents died, the town became responsible for the care of the child.

Susannah Iiams - Leaves a Lasting Legacy

December 3, 2020

Susannah Iiams lived in Prince George's County, British Colonial Maryland in the early 1700's, approximately 12 generations ago. Susannah married Thomas Fowler with whom she had 12 children and after Thomas death, she married Mark Brown with whom she had 4 children. Of Susannah's 16 children, 15 reached adulthood.

After 3 generations Susannah's descendants numbered over 500. Likely more than 2,000,000 people in the United States today descended from Susannah. A majority probably don't even realize they have deep roots in British Colonial American and one woman to thank for being here.

Thomas Fowler - Anne Arundel Gentry?

November 26, 2020

Almost 90 years ago Harry Wright Newman wrote a book called “Anne Arundel Gentry” which paid tribute to the early landowners of Anne Arundel County, Maryland. As Newman explained in the book, Anne Arundel County was divided into “hundreds”, a British administrative concept, and Newman sectioned the families into their respective hundred. Newman wrote about three families in the Broadneck Hundred, the Boones, the Homewoods, and the Fowlers.

While the inclusion of the Boones and Homewood families is quite fitting, the extensive research Genealogy Trek has conducted into the Fowler family left us wondering, Why were the Fowlers included? To be clear, the gentry class of colonial Maryland were the large landowners. The Boone and Homewood families patented land in Broadneck in 1660 and 1670. The Fowlers on the other hand did not patent any land in Broadneck.

Thomas Fowler, the family forbearer, was a land owner however he owned land in Prince George's County, not in Anne Arundel. When Thomas died intestate in 1715, he left 12 children. Without an inheritance, most were likely bound in servitude to learn a trade and it appears several were placed in the Broadneck of Anne Arundel. What Thomas' sons did well, was to marry well, wealthy widows and daughters of the gentry of Anne Arundel. They became good citizens, and were road overseers, ferry operators and constables.

While the Fowlers were not Anne Arundel Gentry, there were other families more deserving of inclusion in the book, like the Merriken and Moss families, prominent landowners who arrived in Anne Arundel and patented land in Broadneck in the 1650's.

Benjamin Fowler - Chesapeake Colonist

November 19, 2020

Genealogical research can be frustrating when there are few sources for an individual, as in today's person, Benjamin Fowler.

Benjamin Fowler supposedly was born in Maryland in 1768 and ended up in Ohio. Two sources confirm Benjamin was in Ohio, a land deed and a US census. No sources confirm that Benjamin was born in Maryland in 1768. Imagine the excitement when a letter from a descendant is discovered on file at the Jefferson County (IN) Historical Society. The letter relates that Benjamin Fowler came from Virginia and had 4 sons, James, Jeremiah, Benjamin and William, and 4 daughters Magareth, Mary, Nancy and Rebecca. Virginia! That's where to look for sources.

Well, the state of Virginia's boundaries were quite different than they are today. At the time Virginia included land that would become the states of Kentucky and West Virginia. The Revolutionary War prompted inhabitants of the original colonies, especially where the war was physically fought, to migrate westward into Virginia. Additionally, land was granted in Virginia to Revolutionary War soldiers. Researching these individuals requires looking for records in all three states - Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia.

As for Benjamin, he may have been among the Marylanders who left after the Revolutionary War and settled first somewhere in the vast expanse of Virginia and later in the new state of Ohio. The search for sources goes on.

Jonathan Pitman - Who's Your Daddy?

November 12, 2020

Jonathan Pitman was born in Monmouth county, New Jersey, in 1747. At the age of 84, Jonathan applied for a Revolutionary War pension, his deposition containing details about his service during the Revolutionary War.

At some point in time, someone suggested that Jonathan was the son of Isaac Pitman who took part in the Boston Tea Party and the claim stuck. But is it true?

Isaac Pitman of Boston Tea Party fame was born in Boston in 1752. Records confirm that the birth date is accurate. In addition, Isaac's son related that his father was only 18 years old at the time of the Boston Tea Party. His father was actually a few years older, however Isaac's son was 84 years of age when recalling the story. This one fact obviously precludes Issac from being Jonathan's father as Jonathan was born before Isaac.

However, descendants of Jonathan Pitman keep trying to prove the story. A couple of more facts - when Isaac Pitman died in 1818, his heirs were his son Isaac, and his daughters Susan and Rebecca. Jonathan Pitman is nowhere to be mentioned, not in Isaac's will nor in the probate records. If an heir to the estate, Jonathan, who was living, would have been recorded in the probate records. Lastly, Isaac Pitman was located in Boston and Jonathan Pitman in Monmouth, New Jersey.

Jonathan Pitman was a Revolutionary War hero in his own right. He was also an adventurer and a frontiersman. Finding Jonathan's father would be a nice tribute to his legacy.

Hannah Phares - Octogenarian

November 5, 2020

When Hannah Phares married Calvin Pitman in 1807, she was 18 years old and he was 26. Hannah would have 7 children with Calvin before she was widowed in 1843, after 36 years of marriage. When Calvin wrote his will, he could not possibly have thought that Hannah would live a long life. He left his estate in Hannah's sole possession and only after her death, was it to pass to the children.

Hannah ended up living longer than 5 of her 7 children. She died at the age of 89, 34 years after the death of Calvin. Unfortunately the manner in which Calvin devised his estate caused strife and legal issues among family members and multiple lawsuits were enacted over the rest of Hannah's lifetime and continued even after her death.

Calvin Pitman - Child Pioneer

October 29, 2020

Calvin Pitman was about 10 years of age when around 1790 he floated with his family down the Ohio River to their new home in the Northwest territory. The family likely departed from or passed through Ft. Pitt, Pennsylvania, the departure point that Lewis and Clark used 13 years later when they left on their historic expedition to find the Northwest Passage.

Calvin's family and other settlers landed in “Columbia”, part of current day Cincinnati, and began to build their settlement which by the end of 1790 consisted of 50 log cabins, a mill and a school. The cabins were built with security from Indians in mind, with two tiny windows, port holes on all sides from which rifles could be fired, and heavily braced front doors.

Calvin spent the next 40 years near “Colombia”, lived in Ohio when it became a state, then in his late 50's, moved to Clinton County, Indiana, where he died in November of 1843.

James A. Fowler - Farmer to Land Holder

October 22, 2020

James A. Fowler was born shortly after the end of the Revolutionary War, when settlers began to move west into the Ohio River Valley. James' father, Benjamin Fowler made the trek from Maryland to Kentucky finally settling in Butler County, Ohio. Farming was the occupation of a vast majority of Americans and the Fowler family was no different.

James inherited his father's farm around 1827 and then sold it to his brother in 1835. James and his wife Elizabeth moved to Marion County, Indiana, for a few years then returned to Butler County, Ohio, where James purchased a lot in the town of Darrtown. Over the next several years, James acquired so many lots in Darrtown that at one point he owned almost 20 percent of the town.

Interestingly in the US 1850 census, James listed “Farmer” as his occupation although he apparently was no longer farming. James, 62 years of age, lived in Darrtown by the Hotel Keeper, a shoe maker, a tailor, carpenters, coopers, physicians, blacksmiths, a merchant, a wagon maker, saddler and harness maker, and a distiller. James likely leased the lots he owned and was a land holder. Maybe he did not know how to describe his occupation? In the US 1860 census, James left his occupation blank.

When James wrote his will in December of 1860, he owned about 14 percent of Darrtown. He divided his lots among his 5 surviving children. Daughter Hannah and son Francis were the only 2 who lived in Darrtown; the other children moved from Ohio years earlier. By 1870, only 1 lot was left in the possession of a Fowler, lot #28 at the corner of Main Street and Apple Street, owned by Francis Fowler. Francis was a basket maker and Francis was blind. In 1871 Francis sold his lot and moved to Indiana and the Fowler's faded from the history of Darrtown.

Susan Pitman - Descendant of American Soldiers

October 15, 2020

Susan Pitman Fowler, her husband Felix and their children made the trek to Iowa in 1855 where they joined Susan's married daughter Hannah VanDyke in Louisa County. Just 4 short years later, Susan's husband was dead, leaving Susan with 5 children to provide for, the oldest, son John, age 22, and the youngest, daughter Mary, age 6.

On April 12, 1861, the Civil War began. Military service ran through Susan's bloodline. She was the granddaughter of Revolutionary War hero Captain Jonathan Pitman, and daughter of War of 1812 Sergeant Calvin Pitman. What were her thoughts when two of her three sons enlisted in the Union army, John in June of 1861 followed by Edward in July?

Both sons were gone for 3 years, both served admirably, and both returned home to Iowa in 1864. John entered as a private, was promoted 4 times and held the rank of First Lieutenant when he mustered out. Edward entered as a private, was promoted to Second Sergeant, and was a member of the newly formed Signal Corps when he mustered out.

Felix D. Fowler - Genetic Genealogy

October 8, 2020

How do you prove a genealogical relationship when a definitive source does not exist?

This is the case with Felix D. Fowler. There are many compelling sources that make a strong case that Felix D. Fowler was the oldest son of James A. Fowler. His date of birth occurs a year after the marriage of James Fowler and Elizabeth Devore. The count of males in the census records showed a male of his age in the household. There are real estate transactions between Felix and James. If not a son, Felix was like a son to James. While some point to the fact that Felix was not mentioned in James' will, Felix was already deceased when James' will was written.

Genetic genealogy can strengthen a case for those who have taken a DNA test. If Felix is a son of James, then Felix's descendants should share DNA with known children of James. And in this case they do. Felix's descendants share DNA with descendants of Benjamin Nicholas Fowler, David D. Fowler and Hannah Ann Fowler Hanby, all known children of James A. Fowler. Not definitive proof that Felix was James' son, but genetic evidence that Felix was descended from this branch of the Fowler family.

Does your DNA match list support your tree? Or are you failing to find matches where some should exist? Using your DNA match list and the publicly available family trees can be a tool to help confirm that your family tree is accurate and you are on the right path. While failing to find matches does not necessarily mean the family tree is incorrect, it should raise questions and prompt a reassessment into the strength of the sources that prove relationships.

Solomon Dill - War of 1812 Ohio Militiaman

October 1, 2020

On June 18, 1812, the United States declared war on Britain. The War of 1812 lasted three years and was fought on many different fronts throughout the eastern United States. It was also battled on the Great Lakes, Lake Champlain and the Atlantic Ocean from Maine to Florida.

Solomon Dill enlisted as a private in the Ohio Militia on August 20, 1812, for a 6 month duty. The war had not started well for the Americans and General Hull's army was under siege at Fort Detroit. There was a demand for reinforcement troops and many Ohio Militias were formed within the month of August. What Solomon could not have known was that General Hull had surrendered Fort Detroit and the army of over 2000 men four days prior to his enlistment, without a shot fired. It was an offense for which General Hull was eventually court martialed and sentenced to death. Hull's sentence was pardoned due to his heroic Revolutionary war service.

Solomon's unit, a part of the Second Regiment, likely never encountered a British soldier. However the Indians had allied with the British and the Ohio Militias were constantly harassed by Indians. A month after Solomon's enlistment, General William Henry Harrison was named commander of what was left of the Army of the Northwest. During the period that Solomon served, General Harrison worked to rebuild the army and to reestablish Fort Defiance and Fort Wayne.

In February of 1813, Solomon, his unit, and other Ohio Militias eventually convened at the Maumee River Rapids, at the site of what would become Fort Meigs. The Ohio militias, who had been recruited in August, were nearing the end of their 6 month enlistments. General Harrison was present and understood the situation he faced. He had a platform built, 10 feet high, and addressed the soldiers from it. According to John Jackson, a soldier who was present, General Harrison recounted the surrender of Fort Detroit and the massacre of Kentucky troops by Indians at River Raisin. General Harrison did not know when the British would attack but he requested that the soldiers whose terms were about to expire volunteer to stay. General Harrison also stated that he had no authority to order them to stay. John Jackson went on to relate that the men had suffered from cold and fatigue and many were homesick. By the end of February, more than half of the men had departed when their enlistments expired.

Solomon's duty ended February 19, 1813. According to John Jackson, the weather had become warmer and melted the snow. Solomon and members of his militia headed home almost 200 miles away. The last of the Ohio Militiamen were discharged by General Harrison on February 24, 1813.

Elizabeth Jane Fowler - Mortality Schedule Provides an Answer

September 24, 2020

So often looking back at one's family tree you see ancestors who died young and wonder how they died. Sometimes an old newspaper article or obituary can be found. Or sometimes there's a family story that sounds credible, but can it be true? Most of the time there is no answer.

Elizabeth Jane Fowler, also known as Jane Dill, wife of Dr. Solomon Dill, died at the age of 34. A family story relates that she died of lockjaw resulting from jumping on a horse in a winter storm to fetch her husband. However, in Jane's case there is an answer in the US 1870 Mortality schedule.

In the 10 year US censuses from 1850 to 1880, the US recorded deaths in Mortality schedules. By state and county, the people who died in the year immediately preceding the censuses were listed along with the cause of death. Some schedules contain notes on whether there was an epidemic such as typhoid fever in the county. Later schedules included the attending physician.

According to the 1870 US Mortality census, Jane Dill died of consumption on June 17, 1869. Since her husband was a doctor, there's no reason to doubt the diagnosis. Family story busted.

Mary Turner - The Value of the Obituary in Genealogical Research

September 17, 2020

Genealogy research, especially before 1850, can be frustrating and elusive. Why before 1850? Starting in 1850 the US Censuses began to list everyone in a household. Prior to 1850, the census listed only the head of the household and a count of the number of individuals in the household.

The life of Mary Turner may have been difficult to research if not for the richness of her obituary written in 1884. The obituary of Mary Turner, also known as Mrs. Mary Dill, revealed her maiden name and where and when she was born. It stated her husband served in the War of 1812. It also identified 2 of her siblings, and 3 of her 11 children, all valuable information since Mary's husband, Solomon Dill, died before 1850 and in 1850, Mary lived with a relative without any of her children.

Obituaries sometimes include the funeral service and who attended, revealing or confirming relationships to in-laws, uncles, aunts or cousins.

Obituaries may also include family lore which may not always be proven or accurate. Information in Mary's obituary stated she was a descendant of John Turner who arrived on the Mayflower. Genealogy Trek's research into John Turner reveals he, and the two young sons he brought with him on the Mayflower, died within the first 6 months of their arrival. Therefore, the claim that Mary descended from the pilgrim John Turner, does not appear to be true.

Dr. Solomon Dill - Country Doctor

September 10, 2020

Around 1855, Dr. Solomon Dill left Oxford, Ohio to open a practice in Louisa County, Iowa. The location was not picked at random. Solomon's wife's sister had moved with her husband and 7 children to Louisa County the prior year. Maybe they wrote back to the Dill's about a need for a doctor?

Solomon, his wife and infant daughter, made the trek to Iowa, likely in a wagon pulled by an ox, and started practicing medicine. A line from Dr. Solomon Dill's biographical sketch in the “Portrait and Biographical Album of Louisa County, Iowa” describes what his life must have been like: “he [Solomon] responded to every call, whether coming from rich or poor, in storm or sunshine, at night or day”.

Dr. Dill's patients were farmers and their children. In addition to childbirth and injuries, he would have treated people with typhoid fever, scarlet fever and cholera. The US 1860 Mortality Schedule for Louisa county attributed many deaths to these three diseases. By 1870 Dr. Dill was likely seeing former Civil War soldiers with lingering injuries or illnesses as well as children with whooping cough which was the cause of many deaths on the US 1870 Mortality Schedule for Louisa County.

The US 1880 Mortality Schedule is interesting because it records the attending physician. It shows that Dr Dill had taken on 2 assistants, Dr. Noble W. Mountain and Dr Brown, likely Dr. James A Brown. US 1880 Census records show both these doctors lived in Louisa County, aged about 35 years of age, 20 years younger than Dr. Solomon Dill. Dr. Dill also traveled north to Cedar Township in Muscatine County, where he was listed as attending physician.

Mary Augusta Dill - Pioneer Woman

September 3, 2020

Mary Augusta Dill, daughter of a doctor and wife of John Thomas Conlin, must have been quite the pioneer woman. She came from a long line of Dill pioneers, her great grandparents among the first to Kentucky, her grandparents among the first to Ohio and Mary and her parents among the first to Iowa. Mary's Dill family line can be traced back to British Colonial Delaware where Mary's forbearers appeared on tax records in 1713. The Dill family is thought to be of Scotch-Irish descent.

John Thomas Conlin - First Generation American

August 27, 2020

John Thomas Conlin was born in Indiana to two Irish immigrants. His family moved to Iowa when John was quite young and John grew up on a farm in Muscatine County, next to the Cedar River. In Muscatine County, John married Mary Dill. The family spent a short time in Taylor County, Iowa, before moving to Oneida, Kansas, where John and Mary spent the rest of their lives. Today, Oneida, Kansas, is considered a Kansas “Lost Town”. Using Google Maps and the satellite image, you can see how little of this community remains. The small town died due to a combination of a decline in the railroads and the relocation of US Highway 36. John purchased a livery stable on the southeast corner of Monroe and 5th Streets. In the satellite view the building's outline can still be seen in the grass.

James Conlin Family - From Ireland to Iowa

August 20, 2020

James Conlin, his wife Bridget and daughter Mary Ann, immigrated from Ireland during the Irish Potato Famine between 1845 and 1850. They likely arrived in New York City, then worked their way westward. At some time before 1853, they joined Bridget's family and located in Wayne County, Indiana. By 1856, the Conlins were in Muscatine County, Iowa. Bridget's family, the McManemons, had arrived the year before and settled on a farm next to the Cedar River. The Conlin's moved in with McManemons and began to clear and farm the land. The farm upon which they lived is still a working farm and located a little north of the intersection of Oak Grove Road and Echo Avenue.

McManemon Family Arrive from Ireland

August 13, 2020

In early to mid August 1850, the McManamon family along with 374 other passengers and a stowaway departed Liverpool, England for the United States. The manifest of the ship DeWitt Clinton included passengers from England, Ireland, Scotland, Hungary, Germany and Sweden. On September 18, 1850, 371 passengers arrived at Castle Garden, New York.

Here's a painting of the ship leaving Liverpool The packet ship "Dewitt Clinton" of New York departing Liverpool, 1865

The patriarch of the family was Thomas McManemon and seven of his family members made the voyage with him. By 1852 the family had moved westward and was in Wayne County, Indiana and by 1855, the family lived in Muscatine County, Iowa.

Was Thomas the first McManemon to journey to America? It is hard to say since several of his family members were not on the manifest but eventually found their way to Iowa. Notably, Thomas' son Michael was not on the manifest. Based on Michael's life, likely he was the first McManemon in the United States. Michael was the first to Iowa. He then was one of the earliest settlers to push westward. Michael and his family were in the Montana territory in 1865. For fans of Taylor Sheridan's series “1883”, Michael's family was in Montana 18 years prior to the setting of the series. By 1870, the family had settled in Oregon near Walla Walla, Washington, where Michael was a cattle rancher. Michael's family adopted the surname spelling “McManamon” and if you travel the area today, you will find roads and parks named after him and his family members.

genealogy research family search McManemon Family Manifest Ship DeWitt Clinton
Manifest of the Ship DeWitt Clinton, National Archives and Records Administration, Film M237, Reel 92.