Saturday, June 26, 2010

Thomas & Margaret McCormick - The Answer

Finally, an answer -- Thomas Joseph and Margaret Gilligan McCormick are my great-great-grandparents. I received a copy of my great-grandparents marriage license in the mail from the State of New York, and there they were, listed fully by name. I'm especially thrilled to have a last name for Margaret.

My great-grandfather's address at the time was indeed 281 Madison Avenue, Albany, which also solidifies the link I found in the City Directories last month and wrote about here.

I feel like I should write more, but it seems fairly concrete at this point. Both were born in Ireland, so I'll be getting into a phase of research I haven't done before with other branches of my family as these are my nearest immigrant ancestors -- new challenges ahead!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - A Prolific Dad

From Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings, Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.
"1) Determine who is one of the most prolific fathers in your genealogy database or in your ancestry. By prolific, I mean the one who fathered the most children.

2) Tell us about him in your own blog post, in comments to this blog post, or in comments on Facebook."

I knew off the top of my head that there are several prolific fathers in my tree, so I started by looking at these directly.
  • Asaph Stone (1786-1854) and Jane McFarlane (1793-1854) had 13 children.
  • Daniel Greenleaf (1679-1763) and Elizabeth Gookin (1681-1762) also had 13 children.
  • William Greenleaf (1725-1803) and Mary Brown (1728-1807) had 15 children, 13 of whom lived to adulthood.
But I wondered if Reunion had a way for me to search number of children to see what other prolific dads might be in my tree, and if any could top William and his 15 children. So I used the "Find Anything" feature found the search quite straightforward. I searched for "# children" "more than" "15" and found two men with more than 15 children:
  • Josiah Franklin (1657-1745) who had 7 children with first wife Anne Child (d.1689) and 9 children with second wife Abiah Folger (1667-1752), for a total of 16 children.
  • Archibald McCall (1727-1799) and Judith Kemble (b.1743) had 18 children.
Archibald McCall was a merchant, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1727. He married Judith Kemble of New Jersey in 1762. The McCalls had 18 children born between 1763 and 1788. Of the 18, 3 died as infants, 14 lived to adulthood, and I don't have enough information about one to know whether she survived to adulthood.

Two of the McCall children married into the Cadwalader family. Archibald McCall (1767-1743) married Elizabeth Cadwalader, daughter of General John Cadwalader. Archibald's sister Mary McCall (1764-1848) married Colonel Lambert Cadwalader, John Cadwalader's younger brother. Mary McCall Cadwalader is my 4th great-grandmother.

Miniature of Archibald McCall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Additional sources on Archibald McCall and family:
  • McCall, Ettie Tidwell,. McCall-Tidwell and allied families. Atlanta, Ga.: Published by the author, 1931. Online. : 2010. [See p. 614]
  • Wharton, Anne Hollingsworth. Heirlooms in Miniatures. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1898. Online. Internet Archive : 2010. [See page 12 for an illustration of the Archibald McCall miniature and page 14 for information on Archibald McCall.]

Mourning the Kent Children

When I do genealogical research, I sometimes get stuck on something (or distracted by life) and set it aside for a while, never knowing what I might find that will pull my back in. For the last couple of weeks I've been cleaning up my sources in Reunion, intentionally being fairly mechanical about the process so as to actually complete it, but last night stumbled across a little tidbit while verifying a citation that pulled me into a family I probably wouldn't have spent much time (if any) on otherwise.

I was double checking the source of death information for Sarah Greenleaf Kent (1688-1723) in Newbury, Massachusetts. As I was checking her death date (12 Apr 1723) in the Newbury Vital Records [1], I noticed a death listing for her son, Stephen, on 1 Apr 1723. I wondered if there was an epidemic or some event in the spring of 1723 that might account for their two deaths so close together.

Sarah Greenleaf Kent is my 7th great-aunt (according to Reunion), and fairly far removed from where I've been focusing my research, so I had not yet recorded any children for Sarah and her husband, Richard Kent. Finishing my source clean-up, I headed back to the vital records database [1]. I found that Capt. Richard Kent and Sarah Greenleaf were married in Newbury, Massachusetts, 30 Jan 1709. So I searched next for Kent children born to Richard and Sarah between their marriage in 1709 and her death in 1723.

It seems that the couple had 9 children:
  • John, b. 6 Nov 1710
  • unnamed son, b. 31 Aug 1712, d. 31 Aug 1712
  • Elisabeth, b. 8 Oct 1713
  • Richard, b. 5 Oct 1715
  • Stephen, b. 18 Sep 1717, d. 1 Apr 1723
  • Mary, b. 12 Jun 1719
  • James (twin), b. 29 May 1720
  • William (twin), b. 29 May 1720
  • Daniel, b. 10 Nov 1721
At this point, I knew that at least 2 of the 9 children had died: an unnamed son, born and died the same day, and Stephen at 5 years of age in 1723. I went back to the vital records to search for deaths in Kent family between 1710 and 1723. In addition to the 2 deaths I already knew about, what I found was the following:
  • 23 Jun 1719 - Mary died
  • 10 Jun 1720 - William died
  • 11 Jun 1720 - James died
  • 10 Jun 1723 - Elisabeth died
I expanded my search for deaths in the Kent family from 1723 to 1733 and found:
  • 10 Sep 1725 - John died
Seven of the 9 Kent children died between 1712 and 1725, six dying between 1719 and 1725. I have yet to find death information on the 2 (apparently) surviving Kent children, Richard and Daniel. In fact, going back to the vital records [1], it appears that Richard Jr. may have survived to marry Ann Hale. Several of the children of Richard Kent Jr. and Ann Hale Kent bear names of the deceased Kent children, including John and Stephen, as well as the family name Daniel. This leads me to suspect that Ann Hale Kent's husband, Richard, is the son of Sarah Greenleaf Kent.

While I don't usually use other people's family trees as a source of information, I did go to Ancestry to see if anyone else had connected Richard Kent Jr. (b.1715), son of Richard and Sarah, to Ann Hale. I searched for Sarah Greenleaf (1688-1723), and browsed 40 trees. 3 of the 40 had Richard Kent Jr. married to Ann Hale. The others either had no wife listed, didn't list Richard Jr., or listed Sarah Greenleaf as unmarried or husband unknown.

I still wonder if an event in the spring of 1723 might account for the deaths of Sarah Greenleaf Kent and her son Stephen. I know children dying young in those days was far from uncommon. But to find so many lost so close together rattled me a bit while I was searching. This might be an interesting case for me to hone some additional research skills.

[1] Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 (Online Database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2008).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sentimental Sunday -- Stonover Farm, Then and Now

Stonover Farm, January 1944

Stonover Farm, May 2010

Lenox, Massachusetts has been part of my family's history as long as I can remember. Stonover Farm in particular. The property originally belonged to the Parsons family, which my mother's mother married into not once, but twice (sort of). Her first husband, Rufus Patterson III, was the son of Elsie "Lissa" Parsons Patterson Kennedy, owner of Stonover Farm until her death in 1966. Some time after Rufus was killed in World War II, my grandmother married the brother of Elsie's sister-in-law, who was my grandfather. [Yes, the generations are a little goofy here.]

My mother would tell me about visiting Stonover Farm in summers with her older half-brother to see his grandmother, Lissa. Memories were always fond, and Lenox to me, even before I visited myself, was a clearly a special place.

A few years ago, my mother discovered that Stonover Farm had been turned into a bed and breakfast, and of course various family members talked of visiting. This year, we finally made the trip, turning talk in action (something we don't always manage).

I'd been to Lenox last year, but hadn't seen Stonover Farm. So finally seeing Stonover Farm was wonderful, but all the more so because I took the trip with my sister, my mother, and her two sisters (my aunts). Lenox is one of those places where I feel at home and connected and can see myself returning to time and again.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

More Death Certificates, More Questions

A few weeks ago, I requested the death certificates of William and Martha Magoun Adams from the New Jersey State Archives. Both are in my "Mayflower line", so while I didn't expect to learn anything new from these, having them helps solidify my research in this line of the family. The New Jersey State Archives has a small searchable index of death records from June 1878 to June 1885, and happily both deaths in West Orange, New Jersey fell within this small time frame. (I love requesting records from these databases since the results populate the request forms automatically.)

So when the photocopies arrived a couple of weeks later, the information was mostly what I expected: birthplaces, parents' names, and death dates, while secondary information, all confirmed information I had already. The major new information gleaned was their burial location -- both in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Massachusetts. (I've already fired off a confirmation request to Mount Auburn.)

What I found odd was a fairly minor note on each certificate: How long resident in this state?
William Adams died first: 31 Aug 1880. So I didn't think much when the length of his residence in New Jersey was listed as 4 months.

Then I looked at Martha's death certificate. She died 13 Jun 1885, a little less than five years after her husband, yet her length of residence is listed as 11 years.

At first glance, the math doesn't add up. Assuming William and Martha Adams lived together during their marriage, I'd expect her length of residence to be only 5 years or so longer than his. But on the other hand, I guess it's not impossible that he was one place while she was in West Orange, but for six years? In the 1870's? I suppose the most likely explanation is that the information on one or both certificates is wrong. And at the moment I don't know that it'll make a huge impact on my research, but it's niggling at my brain. Something else to work on some day.