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Archive for the ‘Aldrich’ Category

I owe the idea for this post to the excellent genealogy speaker Thomas McEntee of High Definition Genealogy.  I heard Thomas speak through the live feed from the Southern California Genealogy Society‘s Jamboree this past weekend.  Thomas was addressing online privacy in his talk “Staying Safe Online.”  Interspersed with some  advice about online safety and privacy, he talked about our ancestors’ privacy in the U.S.  More privacy, or less?  One example he gave of a lack of privacy was the custom of printing warnings in the local paper, often from a husband, informing the town that he would no longer pay any debts of his spouse.  Thomas mentioned that sometimes, the spouse printed a response in an ad of her own, treating us to an early 19th century version of The Jerry Springer Show.  I am grateful to Thomas for that tip, as well as for all the work he does for the GeneaBloggers.

The 1802 version of the Jerry Springer Show

Yes, my ancestors participated in this highly un-private activity in 1802.  I found it in the same issue where I had found the husband’s ad a couple of years ago.

This snippet is taken from the Google News copy of the Providence Gazette May 8, 1802 issue.

This snippet is taken from the Google News copy of the Providence Gazette May 8, 1802 issue.

My ggggg-grandfather Nathan Aldrich paid for the following ad in the Providence Gazette on May 8 and May 15, 1802 (1):

WHEREAS, Marcy, wife of me the subscriber, hath separated herself from me, and at sundry Times has unnecessarily run me into debt : These are therefore to forbid all Persons trusting her on my Account, as I am determined to pay no Debts of her contracting from the Date hereof.

NATHAN ALDRICH

Cumberland, May 5, 1802.

This snippet is taken from the Google News copy of the May 8, 1802 Providence Gazette, p. 4.

This snippet is taken from the Google News copy of the May 8, 1802 Providence Gazette, p. 4.

My ggggg-grandmother Marcy Aldrich placed an ad in the May 8 and May 15, 1802 issues of the Providence Gazette (2):

My unworthy Husband, NATHAN ALDRICH, having thought proper to stigmatize my Character in a public Paper, a brief Reply seems necessary.  I was reduced to the hard Necessity of making my Escape from the most brutal Treatment; he had threatened my Life, and actually kicked me, and bruised me with his Fist.  Add to this that he left my Bed one year previous to my quitting his Cottage, and neglected to provide for me the common Necessaries of Life.

MARCY BALLOU

Cumberland, May 14, 1802.

Since I have never found any trace of Marcy after her 1803 divorce, this was very interesting.  She was still in Cumberland after leaving him; she may have been at her father’s house.  And I notice that after the separation she seems to be calling herself by her maiden name, Ballou.  In fact, this is now the best source I have for her maiden name, the evidence for which I had painstakingly pieced together indirectly.

Prov Gazzette Masthead

Access Rhode Island newspapers

  • While spotty, there is a growing collection of Rhode Island newspapers online at the paid site, GenealogyBank.com.  You can link to the page of Rhode Island newspaper titles and years here.  Indexing is automated through OCR, which works if the type is clear and recognizable, and not well at all if the image is blurry, wrinkled, or faded.  I never have found Marcy’s note in any index; I only found it by going page by page.
  • If you are a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, you have access to two compilations of early newspapers, 19th Century U.S. Newspapers and Early American Newspapers, Series I 1690-1876These can be accessed from the “External Databases” page after logging in at the NEHGS website.
  • Rhode Island papers on the paid site NewspaperArchive are limited to Newport.  Likewise, Ancestry.com has very limited Rhode Island newspaper offerings.  Library of Congress’ free Chronicling America site has no digitized Rhode Island content, but does offer a list of 750 Rhode Island newspapers with some holdings information in their Directory of Newspapers (drill down to find libraries where the paper might be held).
  • If you are in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Historical Society has a thorough microfilm collection of surviving Rhode Island newspapers.  However, indexing is lacking, and the few indices I’ve found there tend to cover important persons and stories only.  I use the microfilm to look up specific dates only.
  • If you know the name of a newspaper you are interested in, you can check out the holdings of the free Google News Archives.  The site works adequately for paging through issues of papers but I haven’t had much luck with searching there.  I should add that while my pictures, here, are from Google News, I first found the article using the indexing at GenealogyBank.  But GenealogyBank does not allow their images to be reproduced.

One more newspaper article about Nathan Aldrich

One Massachusetts article from The Liberator (found on 19th Century U.S. Newspapers) redeems Nathan Aldrich a bit in my eyes (3).  The West Wrentham Anti-Slavery Society met right in Sheldonville, where he lived, and in September, 1839, some members attended a meeting of the county-wide society, the Norfolk County Anti-Slavery Society, which happened to be held in Wrentham.  There was a controversial and extremely close vote about the right of the female members to vote during the meeting.  The votes of each member present were recorded in the newspaper, which is why Nathan’s name was mentioned.  He voted against the right of the female members to vote at meetings.  I find no other Nathan Aldriches in the county during this period; I think it is him.  Of course, he loses points for voting against the rights of the women members.

Sheldonville, Massachusetts Post Office at a much later date

Sheldonville, Massachusetts Store and Post Office at a much later date

Nathan’s second wife Chloe died in middle age, a fact which is carefully recorded by Nathan in his family bible.  He then married a neighbor, Lois Grant, cousin of Chloe.  Nathan is buried at the Sheldonville Cemetery between Chloe and Lois.  I always assumed that wouldn’t have gone that way if he was quite the person described in the advertisement, above.  I would chalk it up more to he and Marcy not being suited to each other.  If I could ever learn more about Marcy, it might reveal more about the whole sad situation.

In conclusion

I wonder, based on my own research, if unhappy marriages leave more clues behind than happy marriages.  But for sure, newspapers can reveal snippets of the lives of our ancestors.  If you have advice about finding Rhode Island newspapers, please leave it in the comments.

Sources

  1. “Whereas, Marcy” (advertisment), Providence Gazette (Providence, RI), 08 May 1802, online archive at Genealogy Bank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 10 Apr 2011), page 4.
  2. “My unworthy Husband” (advertisment), Providence Gazette (Providence, RI), 15 May 1802, online archive at Genealogy Bank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 8 Jun 2013), page 3.
  3. “Norfolk County Anti-Slavery Society,” The Liberator, (Boston, MA) [Friday], [September 20, 1839]; online archive at 19th Century U.S. Newspapers (Article GT3005844982) (accessed through http://www.americanancestors.org/external-databases/ : accessed 9 Jun 2013), pg. 150; Issue 38; col B

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This was my first visit to the large Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, that contains microfilmed records from around the world as well as many genealogy books and other resources.

The Family History Library, Salt Lake City

The Family History Library, Salt Lake City

Preparing

I had prepared beforehand, in Evernote, a list of microfilms and books to explore. These were sortable by the “tags” which allowed me to choose records for one person or family at a time. I also added a tag “Important” in case I had to make choices.

I had three days in the library. I knew as the trip grew closer that I would concentrate on several real questions. I printed those notes and put them in a paper binder – sometimes it’s easier to rely on paper when you will need to walk around the library or be at a microfilm reader. I did access Evernote on my iphone but ended up NOT bringing the laptop to the library. Next time, everything needs to be on a clipboard or ipad, for portability. The library doesn’t want you leaving valuables around, which is understandable.

Research in the library

I like the kind of microfilm reader that lets you download each page to your own flash drive. At home, this can be enlarged and manipulated better than printed paper or photos. So I started at a regular reader, but planned to utilize the computer-reader whenever I found something. Because the library was unusually quiet during my stay, I managed to use the computer microfilm reader most of the time.

IMG_0006

ScanPro 1000

These are the specific problems I decided to explore, and how it went.

Parents of Daniel Lamphere (died 1808), father of Russell
There are some obscure Lamphere records I haven’t seen before:
  • Lanphere/Lanphear family, ca. 1770-1920 Film 3005 Item 13
  • The Lanphere and related families genealogy by Edward Everett Lanphere, Book 929.273 L288L
  • The Bates family in America by Edward E. Lanphere Fiche 6046981
  • Record of the Lanphere family of Rhode Island, Manuscript (pedigree chart) Ped Chart no. 251
  • Probate records index, 1798-1990 [Westerly, Rhode Island] 16 mm film 1892412 & 3
  • Westerly Land Evidence records, 1661-1903
  • Bible records from Connecticut, index cards, He-Ly, film 2879

What I learned: I like to review lesser-known work on the Lampheres. Unfortunately, I didn’t find much work that would be helpful to me at all. One amusing moment was when I sought out the “Pedigree Chart” files, looking for chart number 251 on the Lampheres of Rhode Island.

Pedigree Charts

Pedigree Charts

While there were some intriguing charts in there, the Lamphere chart was, I quickly recognized, pages from Austin’s Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island.

Lanphere chart6

The Lamphere Chart

First cha-ching moment: The Westerly deeds were far more helpful. Prior to his death, Daniel Lamphere mortgaged his property to his son Russell, my gggg-granfather. Russell never lived on the property, but he was heavily involved in the subsequent dealings. It took the family about 10 legal transactions, over the next 10 years, to finally dispose of the property. Each transaction was more helpful than the last; listing all heirs by name, mentioning brothers, fathers, wives, widows, current locations, and neighbors. Tantalizingly, some of the neighbors were named “Tefft” which is the surname sometimes ascribed to Daniel’s wife Nancy. I even found names of some Lamphere connections that blog readers have mentioned to me. I’m getting back to them.

These 35 pages of Westerly Deeds will need some careful analysis to determine the facts, but I am hoping those facts will be very helpful. I should probably mention that I had travelled to Westerly Town Hall previously to look at these, but not all volumes were available that day. The nice thing about microfilm is that ALL volumes should have been microfilmed, and be available.

Darling/Aldrich property in Wrentham, Massachusetts

  • Norfolk County Probate films for guardianship and probate
  • Probate records, 1746-1916 [Cumberland, Rhode Island]

What I learned: I found the probate records for Asa Aldrich and I finally realized that his controversial will had produced legal records in TWO states, since Cumberland, Rhode Island and western Wrentham, Massachusetts are adjacent to each other and family members lived on each side of the border. So I saved all those records. I also found guardianship and probate records for Elias Darling, grandfather of Ellis Aldrich Darling, which answered some questions about his life.

The parents of Lucy Arnold

  • Smithfield, Rhode Island Deeds 1731-1874 Grantor index film 959536, Grantee index film 959543
  • Lincoln Probate records, 1733-1917 (Lincoln, Rhode Island) Thomas Arnold d. Aug, 1817 film 959529
  • Microfilm of records in James Arnold’s family notes – town notes collection at the Knight Memorial Library, Providence, Rhode Island film 1839290 Item 4

What I learned: I have a continuing question in my mind about why the famed Rhode Island genealogist, James Arnold, didn’t leave a volume behind about the Arnolds. I once saw an ad that claimed he was researching such a work. I knew some of his papers are housed in the archives at a local Providence library branch. I was happy with the chance to easily see some of them on microfilm, and they were interesting, but didn’t relate to the Arnolds. Oh well.

The Arnold book [Benson, Richard H. The Arnold Family of Smithfield, Rhode Island. Boston: Newbury Street Press, 2009] has helped me tentatively identify Lucy Arnold. I would like to learn as much as possible to help me confirm that. Unfortunately, I still have not found a probate record for her father. But in the many, many deeds I found for her father, there is a great deal of information, still to be completely analyzed.

Second cha-ching moment: One set of clues involves the identity of Lucy’s mother, who is possibly a Smith. I found several deeds relating to a certain Smith couple (a physician and his wife) and the last one, interestingly, says that the woman is now a widow, old and inform, and is transacting some kind of real estate deal with Thomas Arnold. I’m hoping that deed will help me find further clues that actually prove who Thomas’ wife, Rachel, is. It would be nice to prove something that wasn’t known in the NEHGS publication! I am also hoping that something about these deeds helps me determine my more immediate question about proving a link between Lucy and these parents that goes beyond name and town.

Thomas Arnold

Thomas Arnold

Marriage of Mercy Ballou/Nathan Aldrich and birth of her daughter Nancy Ann Aldrich

  • Vital records, 1734-1858 [Cumberland, Rhode Island] film 955486
  • Marriages, v. 1-3 (1746-1895) film 955487
  • his and her fathers’ property, Plan of the Town of Cumberland (Map) film 955497
  • Richard Ballou will, Cumberland Probate records, 1746-1916 Probate records Vol. 6-10 1784-1815 Film 955491

What I learned: The abstract of Richard Ballou’s will, that I’ve seen, was correct. He does not name his heirs by name, just groups them as “my heirs.” So that gave me no clues about the later life of my ggggg-grandmother Mercy Ballou. There was nothing in here that helped, and the map was badly photographed, so was no better than my own imperfect photos of an old Cumberland property map I made at the Rhode Island Historical Society.

My reaction overall

  • I should really be using these films more, through rental at my local Family History Center (now called FamilySearch Centers). I copied a number of index pages for my family names to help me order microfilm in the future, if needed.
  • They have a crazy amount of microfilm there.

    One of many many aisles of microfilm

    One of many many aisles of microfilm

  • I should keep more careful track of books and microfilms as they are released on the web at FamilySearch.org.
  • As I kept seeing so many people sitting for hours at the computers, I wondered at so many going to the trouble to visit just to use free access to various genealogy web sites. Then I tried, on a whim, looking for records of my gg-grandmother Catherine Young, born in Surrey, England. An 1841 British Census record came up, from a site I have never paid for, and then I really got it. It’s nice not having your search limited by subscriptions. No one wants to subscribe to everything.
  • All the records I found need to be carefully abstracted and analyzed. For instance, I need to eliminate deeds that refer to others with the same name.
  • Three days at the FHL is worth several months of what I’m doing at home. As more materials are moved to the web, that is bound to change.

Thanks to Randy Seaver for making me aware of the Family History At A Glance – Family History Library Research booklet, which was helpful. I would also suggest people refer to the FHL website to plan a visit.

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Over the last few years I have made a lot of progress on tracing my mother’s family.   Over the next year or two I hope to do some research on ten problems I’ve identified.  I am recording them here, and I will provide links, in the future, to any postings I do about each one.

What surprised me about this list is the huge range of skills and strategies that I would need to pursue these questions.  Searching in accessible resources and repositories has helped, but not solved these problems.  This is where research really begins. None of these are easy, but working on them will be a real education.

1. Jessie Ruth (McLeod) Murdock, 1861 – 1936

Jessie Ruth McLeod with husband Louis Murdock

Jessie Ruth McLeod was born March 10, 1861 in Pictou, Nova Scotia.  She is my great great grandmother along the all-female line.  Her marriage certificate lists her parents as William and Rachel McLeod.  She arrived in the U.S. around 1881.  There is no evidence of her coming with close family, but it’s hard to believe she came without family or friends at all.   Her subsequent life I know all about, but this is all I have of her family origins.  I have only one possible match in the Canadian census, and the only other clue is that her eventual father in law, William Murdock, had also come from Pictou, much earlier.

  • Skills needed:  Make timeline for her, try once again to learn more about her father in law’s Pictou  family, and explore naturalization records in Massachusetts.  Re-explore family records for clues.

2. Catherine (Youngs Bennett Baldwin) Ross, 1835 – 1907

Worcester Daily Spy, 03 May 1894. Catherine and third husband, Hiram Ross, lost their house in a fire in Sterling, Mass.

Another great-great-grandmother, Catherine Youngs, is the kind of mystery woman a person could chase for decades.  Born in Surrey, England, perhaps on 4 Jul 1835, Catherine arrived in the U.S. around 1843.  On one marriage certificate she lists her parents as William and Catherine Youngs.  On another, she lists them as “unknown.”  Three of her children thought her maiden name was Youngs, and one thought it was Spaulding.  She was married three times, to Bennett, Baldwin, and Ross.  After her marriage to Hiram Ross in 1870, I know a great deal about her.  Before that, very little.  Her first home in the U.S. could have been Massachusetts or New York, or someplace else.  If she came with family, I know nothing about them.

  • Skills needed:  Analyze all data reported by her and by others about her, look for other British citizens in Allegany County, New York, explore early British census and vital records,  explore U.S. immigration and naturalization records in Massachusetts and New York, look for the first husband William Bennett using methods appropriate for common name searches, and talk to my mother about the idea that her father could have been wrong about his grandmother’s maiden name being Spaulding.

3. Maria (Shipley) Martin, 1848 – ?

Maria’s daughter Bessie’s marriage announcement fails to mention Maria’s husband, although I know he was alive. — The Milton News/Dorchester Advertiser vol. XII No. 24, 10 Sep 1892

The problem with yet another great great grandmother, Maria Shipley, is almost the opposite problem.  Born in Wolfville, Nova Scotia around 1841, I know a great deal about her Shipley/Innis/Dougherty/Bransby/Munroe ancestors.  She came to the U.S. around 1885 with her husband and children, and at least one sister. But after her daughter’s wedding in 1892 in Milton, Massachusetts, at which time she seems to be separated from her husband, I have no knowledge of her.  So I would like to know more.

  • Skills needed:  Find local newspapers for any town she might have been living in. Pin down locations and circumstances for each relative I know of in Massachusetts, which would be her estranged husband, her six children, her sister, and a niece.

4. Anna Jean (Bennett Gilley) Douglas, 1854 – 1939

Anna Jean in Montreal. Perhaps around 1880?

My grandfather’s aunt Anna Jean Bennett was born in Belmont, New York in 1854 and her parents seem to have divorced, perhaps, soon after.  By 1860 she was living with her mother and stepfather in Belmont, in obscure poverty.  In 1873 she married a Boston druggist, Harrison Gilley.  They divorced at some point and in 1884 she married a Providence attorney, William Wilberforce Douglas, who became a judge and, eventually, Chief Justice of the R.I. Supreme Court.  From 1884 on, I am very familiar with her life.  But other than that first marriage record, I have no idea what happened to her from 1860 to 1884.  The lovely photographic portrait of her above was taken in Montreal during this period.  Her brother was a globe-trotting artist.  Who was her father (named William Bennett)?  I would like to know her story, which I suspect is fascinating.

  • Skills needed: Learn more about Canadian border crossings  for this time period, as well as Montreal resources such as newspapers, employment records, city directories, high schools, art.  Try to find her in the 1870/71 census, and 1880/81, possibly living with her father in the U.S. or Canada, using searches on multiple members of the family, since her father and brother have very common names. Since the first husband was from Boston, use city directories to pin down his locations over many years. Review all later artifacts, documents and photos for additional clues.

5. Hannah (Andrews) Lamphere, 1819? – 1878

Cemetery surrounding the Long Society Meeting House in Preston

Hannah Andrews, my ggg-grandmother, was born in Massachusetts or Connecticut around 1819.  She has a brother Alden and her parents’ names may be Jesse and Sarah Andrews.  She married Russell Lamphere, Jr. in 1838 in Preston, Connecticut.  There were a number of Andrews who moved from northeastern Massachusetts to Preston about 130 years before Hannah was born.  But Hannah may actually have been born in Massachusetts.  Her brother married a girl from Springfield, Mass.  I can find no sign of her parents – I wonder if they died young.

  • Skills needed: do another literature search, analyze known information, learn more about guardianship records just over the border in the central portion of southern Massachusetts and also in Preston.  Explore church records for the church where they married.

6. Daniel Lamphere, 1745? – 1808

Russell Lamphere, late of Westerly, but now residing in Norwich

Daniel Lamphere is the father of my gggg-grandfather Russell Lamphere, Sr.  The detail above from Daniel’s 1808 probate file, about his son Russell, is part of the substantial evidence of the branch back to Daniel.  Daniel, from Westerly, is likely descended somehow from George Lamphere, an original settler of Westerly, R.I.  But there were several Daniel Lampheres in the area at that time and it’s confusing, so, no luck so far.

  • Skills needed: Learning more about all the people surrounding Daniel and his wife Nancy is the strategy I have started and plan to continue.  Track down his Westerly deeds.  Find out where he’s buried. 

7. Lydia (Miner) Lamphere, 1787 – 1849

The Factories at Yantic Falls, Norwich, from “Connecticut Historical Collections” by John Warner Barber, 1836.

Lydia Miner of Norwich, Connecticut, my gggg-grandmother, married Russell Lamphere, Sr. in 1807 in Norwich, CT.  She passed away in Norwich in 1849.  There is some suggestion she may have been born in Rhode Island, most likely just over the border in Westerly, like her husband.  Miners originally settled the nearby southeastern corner of Connecticut.  People familiar with the well-documented Miners/Minors think this problem should be easily solved, but so far, it hasn’t been.  I believe Lydia and her husband were attracted by the growing factories in Norwich, since they lived in the Yantic Falls neighborhood.  Of all of my family, they were among the earliest to abandon farming for industrial life.  It’s possible that she and Russell met as factory hands, or that her father worked in an early factory.

  • Skills needed: Local Yantic Falls history is likely to provide additional clues.   Also, less easily accessed sources of local Westerly and Norwich information such as church  records, town council records, the Connecticut State Library, cemetery records, and still more tracing of each of their children may help.  Analyzing every available fact may bring up other possibilities.  I would like to find where she and Russell are buried.

8. Thomas Arnold, 1733 – 1817

Thomas’ father (Lieut. Thos.) appears in a 1748 Highway District list, a good source to learn who the neighbors are, on page 30 of “History of the Town of Smithfield” by Thomas Steere, 1881.

My ggggggg-grandfather Thomas Arnold comes from a well-documented Smithfield, Rhode Island family.  But of course my branch is not so well documented.  His wife, Rachel, might be a Smith.   That possibility is repeated here and there with no evidence.  I wonder if a concentrated look at deeds or other local records might help me determine Thomas’ association with nearby Smith families.

  • Skills needed: Investigate town records from Smithfield and any deed connected with Thomas (who is not the only Thomas Arnold in that area).  Continue to research each of the children.

9. Mercy (Ballou) Aldrich, 1778 – ?

1803 Divorce granted to Mercy Ballou by the R.I. Supreme Court

Working on Thomas Arnold, and local deeds, might help me figure out whatever happened to his granddaughter, my ggggg-grandmother Mercy Ballou, who divorced Nathan Aldrich in 1803. I have no knowledge of her life after that, but I would like to know what happened to her.  Her former husband, and his second wife, sold property to her father after the divorce, and I believe they moved up the road to Wrentham, Mass after that. I am trying to pin down her father Richard Ballou’s property to find a location she may have returned to after her divorce.

  • Skills needed: There are numerous small family cemeteries in Smithfield.  I wonder if she could have been buried there.  Her father’s 1824 will only mentions his wife and “lawful heirs”, no specifics.  Knowing far more about her siblings might help.  

10. Russell R. Lamphere, 1818 – 1898

After leaving Alabama in the mid-1870′s, Russell ended up using his metalworking skills at the Oriental Mills, in Providence. This is the building (Union Paper) as it appears today.

Of all the details of my ggg-grandfather Russell Lamphere‘s life that I don’t know, one thing that I am most curious about is his relationship with Connecticut Congressman John Turner Wait.  Congressman Wait submitted a war reparations bill for Russell Lamphere three times in the 1880′s.  What happened in Alabama that would have justified reparations, and why were they submitted by a Connecticut Congressman even though Russell and his family had moved from Alabama to Rhode Island?  There is nothing in Congressman Wait’s rather illustrious family history that suggests a connection to either Russell’s wife or mother, and yet I suspect there is a connection, or at the very least, perhaps Mr. Wait left some papers.

  • I am also learning a lot more about Tuscaloosa, Alabama during the Civil War.  A kind reader approached NARA in Washington DC about any files connected to Russell’s war claims.  Staff did some substantial searching; it wasn’t perfunctory.  So I feel fairly confident there is nothing to be found there.  I need to move on.  I have a half-formed idea that studying Congressman Wait’s complete genealogy will reveal some answers to my own.

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The question:  Can I find a divorce record for my ggggg-grandfather Nathan Aldrich and his first wife, Marcy Ballou, around 1805?

What I knew that led me to think they were married and divorced:

  • Nathan added Marcy to his family bible, which is located at the NEHGS, and later crossed her out.
  • They had one daughter that I know of, my gggg-grandmother Nancy Ann (Aldrich) Darling.  Late in life, Nathan Aldrich and his third wife, Lois, were living with Nancy’s son Ellis and his family.
  • In 1802, Nathan published an advertisement in the Providence Patriot disowning Marcy
  • By 1809, Nathan and his second wife, Chloe, sold a piece of property to Marcy’s father Richard Ballou in Cumberland, Rhode Island, and from then on, lived in Wrentham, Mass.

What I was NOT finding was any evidence of Marcy’s death. I wondered how that first marriage ended.

In Rhode Island at that time, divorces occurred in the Supreme Court.  Records for the Supreme Court are stored at the Rhode Island Judicial Archives.  I wrote to the Archives last fall requesting that the file be looked up.  The answer came back that it could not be found.

More recently I decided to go in person, not knowing how much searching, if any, I would be allowed to do.  The Judicial Archives are located at 5 Hill Street, Pawtucket, R.I.  There is free parking across the street.

You enter and go up to the second floor, where you sign in.

When I explained that I was looking for historical records, staff member Andrew Smith was called to assist me.

I thanked Andrew for trying to help me via email a while back, and said that I was here with the same question.  We talked about different forms of the names, and the time and place for the possible divorce.  He checked the index again, no luck.  He was willing to bring me the handwritten volumes summarizing  ALL Supreme Court cases, in chronological order, from the period we were talking about.

I sat in a research room containing an old conference table which had probably graced a courtroom 75 or 100 years ago. I settled in to go, page by page, through the two volumes he brought me, which ran from approximately 1802-1807.

A true Rhode Island story

The first thing I noticed, as I paged through, was the set of judges on the R.I. Supreme Court at that time, which was repeated at the beginning of each “session” entry.

Peleg Arnold, Chief Justice

This is why taking the time to page through, record by record, can be so valuable.  If my theory about Marcy Ballou’s mother, Lucy Arnold, is correct, then Marcy was actually the great-niece of Chief Justice Peleg Arnold.  This is getting to be SO Rhode Island.

Less than halfway through the first book, I got lucky.  I FOUND THE DIVORCE.  Here it is:


[p. 220] “M. Aldrich”   Be it Remembered that at the present Term of this Court Marcy Aldrich wife of Nathan Aldrich of Cumberland in said County prefered her petition, praying for reasons therein stated, that a decree of divorce may be passed in her [p.221] favor dissolving the bond of matrimony now subsisting between her and her said husband and for alimony – after hearing the same. It is ordered, adjudged and decreed by the Court here, that the prayer thereof be granted.

Of course I noticed the mention of a “petition” and “for reasons therein stated”.  What was in the book was just a summary.  The real divorce petition should have been stored separately.  Unfortunately, that couldn’t be found.  Andrew did find one for a “Mary Ballou” which he showed me, but it wasn’t my case.

another divorce petition

Inside that petition:

Inside the other petition

You can see that if the Marcy Ballou/Nathan Aldrich petition could be found, it would likely contain 6 or 7 sheets of information about the marriage.  Andrew promised to try again to find it, but that has not been successful.

I did notice in the summary record that she received alimony.  After his newspaper ad refusing to pay any further debts of hers, I can only smile and perhaps, in a very not-based-on-evidence kind of way, assume this is some further proof that Chief Justice Arnold was her uncle.  His name appeared on the session she was involved in, but whether he recused himself, I have no way of knowing right now.

However, I now know that they actually divorced in 1803.  Nathan and his second wife moved a bit farther up the road into Massachusetts and had several more children.  Marcy’s parents were in Cumberland, so I suspect she stayed there, however briefly.  Later, there is evidence that Nancy Ann lived with her father.  Did Marcy die?  Remarry and move away?  Become debilitated somehow?

The R.I. Judicial Archives

I mentioned to Andrew that I was going to write about my visit in my blog.  He said it was ok to mention him.  If any genealogists want to access historical records from the archives, they can contact him directly:

Andrew Smith, Judicial Records Center, absmith  at  courts  dot  ri  dot  gov.

The Judicial Records Center web site gives more information about record holdings and making requests, but Andrew suggests you email him directly to save some time.  I would suggest anyone traveling to the center might want to email in advance to check on availability of records, and open hours.

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My ggggg-grandfather Nathan Aldrich (1773-1862) had a brother David (1781-1879).  Their father, Asa Aldrich, endeavored to give each of his sons a farm, but to David, he gave a college education instead.  David’s choice of the ministry seemed to go wrong early on.  Instead, David lived a long and quiet life in Cumberland, Rhode Island as a farmer, on the estate formerly owned by Rev. Benjamin Shaw.  After Asa’s death in 1826, there seems to be some controversy about a copy of Asa’s will being destroyed by fire, and whether the copy David put forth was a true copy.

It may take me years to get to the bottom of that.  If you are curious about the sources so far, or a descendant of David, please contact me.

Meanwhile, I’ve learned more about David through the two documents, below.

His graduation announcement:

R. ISL.  Providence, Sept. 6

COMMENCEMENT

On Wednesday last the annual Commencement of Brown University was celebrated in the Baptist meeting-house in this town. 

The degree of Bachelor of Arts was conferred on David Aldrich, Richard B. Bedon, David Benedict, John B. Brown, Martin Benson, Palmer Cleveland, Elijah Dexter, John G. Deane, Henry Holmes, Daniel Johnson, Daniel March, David Perry, Willard Preston, Lewis R. Sams, and Noah Whitman : — And the degree of Master of Arts was conferred on Benjamin Cowell, Gardner Daggett, John Godfrey, David Holman, Paul Jewett, David Leonard, Jeremiah Pond, jun. Jason Sprague, Jonathan Thayer, Daniel Thomas, and Wilkes Wood, all alumni of the University.

The Reverend Henry Edes, of Providence, and the Rev. John Pipon of Taunton, Masters at Harvard ; the Rev. Joseph Clay, of Savannah, Master at Nassan-Hall ; the Rev. Elitha Williams, of Beverly, Master at Yale, and Dr. John Mackie, of Providence, Bachelor of Medicine at Dartmouth, were admitted ad eundem.

– Newburyport Herald, September 9, 1806, accessed on GenealogyBank.com

First Baptist Church in America, Providence, R.I., erected A.D. 1775

The second item is an obituary:

Brown University.  Necrology for the Academical Year of 1878-9

1806.

Rev. David Aldrich, class of 1806, died in Cumberland, R.I., May 19, 1879, aged 98 years, 4 months and 5 days.  He was the son of Asa and Lucy (Haskell) Aldrich, and was born in Cumberland, January 14, 1781.  He pursued his preparatory studies in West Wrentham under the instruction of Rev. William Williams (B.U. 1769), who was a member of the first class graduated at Brown.  After a course of theological study, which he pursued with Dr. Gano, he was ordained to the Christian ministry under the direction of the First Baptist Church, which church he had joined by baptism while he was at the college.  He was then settled as pastor over the Baptist Church in Goshen, Conn.  But very soon he was obliged, by ill health, to give up the pastoral care of the church, and afterwards, from a distrust of his fitness for preaching, he retired from all ministerial service, and purchasing a place in Cumberland, devoted himself to farming pursuits, in which he continued all his long life.  He was, however, always fond of study, was a great reader, and was especially well versed in American history, and interested in all great national questions of the past as well as the present.  Mr. Aldrich was justice of the peace for many years, and filled other offices of trust in his native town.  He was honored as a good Christian man, interested in all enterprises favorable to morality and philanthropy.  His faculties continued to be clear and vigorous to the very end of his extended life “his eye was not dim, nor his natural strength abated.”  His Christian faith and hope were strong and bright to the last; and his end was peace.  Mr. Aldrich was at the time of his death the senior Alumnus of the University.  Mr. Aldrich married in 1813, Miss Jemima Rhodes, of Wrentham, Mass.  Three of their children survive him, Mr. Amos Aldrich, of Foxboro, Mass., Mr. Emulus Aldrich, of Ashland, Mass., and Mrs. Eliza (Aldrich) Freeman, of Cumberland, who is living on her father’s farm.

– The Providence Daily Journal, vol. LII, Wednesday Morning, June 18, 1879, no. 145, page 1, accessed on microfilm at the Rhode Island Historical Society Library.

David was buried along with many other family members at the Burnt Swamp Road Cemetery in Sheldonville, Massachusetts.

- picture from Frank Leslie’s Sunday Magazine, 1877.

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My 3x great grandfather Ellis Aldrich Darling was born in Wrentham, Massachusetts in August, 1824.

His father was:

  • Paul  Darling (1798-1877)    (Paul’s Darling descent: Elias5, John4, John3, John2, Dennis1)

and his mother was:

  • Nancy Ann Aldrich (1800-1879)    (Nancy’s Aldrich descent: Nathan6, Asa5, Jonathan4, David3, Jacob2, George1).

Ellis’ life was typical of the nineteenth-century New England family that did not choose to move west and acquire new and better land.  Born in the Sheldonville section of Wrentham, Massachusetts, Ellis’s father Paul was a farmer.  Ellis was the third of five children.

The village of Sheldonville, at the western edge of Wrentham near the Rhode Island border, was home to several growing industries in the nineteeenth century as well as some farming activity.  There were straw hat factories and bootmakers, and when Rhodes Sheldon established a successful boatmaking business, the village began to be called after him.

1876 map of West Street, Sheldonville (incorrectly called Sheedonville)

On January 1, 1846, Ellis married Susan Maria Parmenter of Framingham, Mass.  It’s not clear to me how they met, but later that year, Ellis’ brother Wilson married Susan’s sister Eliza Jane.  In 1850, the two couples were living near Susan’s parents, Buckley and Persis Parmenter, in Framingham. All three men were working as laborers.

Meanwhile, Back in Sheldonville

Probably Ellis’ nearest relation with any significant property was his grandfather, Nathan Aldrich, who lived to age 89.  Nathan likely (but I haven’t proved this yet) distributed his Sheldonville, Mass. property among his children and grandchildren during his lifetime. So in 1860, the U.S. census shows that Ellis and his family, and Wilson and his family, were living in Sheldonville.  Grandfather Nathan Aldrich and his third wife Lois, both in their late 80′s, were living in Ellis’ household. Ellis’ occupation was listed as Farmer.

Ellis’ parents Paul Darling and Nancy were farming in Sheldonville but living with their son Allen, who owned property by 1860.  Paul and Nancy never appeared to own property, making me think that perhaps Nathan Aldrich and daughter Nancy never completely made up the earlier drama in their lives and that Nathan never trusted Nancy with property. Paul and Nancy Darling passed away in the late 1870′s.

Children Arrive

Ellis and Susan had five children by 1860:

  •  Abby M. Darling 1846 –
  •  Nathan Ellis Darling 1848 – 1909
  •  Sarah E. Darling 1853 – 1925
  •  Addison Parmenter Darling 1856 – 1933  <–father of my g-grandfather Russell Darling
  •  Francis W Frank Darling 1859 –

When the Civil War draft came along, Ellis was 38 at the time, and married, so was considered Class II and evidently did not serve, despite some lucrative offers of support made by the patriotic town of Wrentham.  However his brother Wilson, a few years younger, was drafted.  Wilson enlisted as a Private in Company I, 45th Infantry Regiment (Massachusetts) on 7 Oct 1862. He mustered out of that regiment on 7 Jul 1863 at Readville, Massachusetts.  Wilson received a disability pension from the government beginning in 1871, and died in 1886.

Some Changes in the 1870′s

Grandfather Nathan Aldrich died in 1862.  In 1869 Ellis and Susan had their sixth and last child, James.  In the 1870 U.S. Census, Ellis may be enumerated twice – once in Sheldonville, employed as a bonnet presser, and once, perhaps, staying in a rooming house in Providence and listed incongruously as a “Farmer” with real estate worth $1600.  He certainly needed money to support his household, and “bonnet pressing” took place in Sheldonville, so other than personal difficulties I can’t understand why he would be in Providence.

During the early 1870′s, the older children began to leave home.  Daughter Sarah married a silversmith and moved to his home in Providence.  Addison joined them and learned silver engraving.  Son Frank joined his sister Abby at her husband’s home in North Attleborough and took a job as a bench worker in the growing jewelry business there.  He later married his brother in law’s sister.

The House

This map detail shows that E. Darling had a house on West Street in 1876:

E. Darling property lies between West Street and the Burnt Swamp Road Cemetery

Behind his house is the Burnt Swamp Road Cemetery, where Nathan Aldrich is buried.  Behind the cemetery is the home and soap factory of Leman Follett, who was married to Nathan Aldrich’s daughter Eliza Jane (1817-1900).  Ellis owned additional lots across West Street near the school, and heading down Burnt Swamp Road (the Cemetery street).

There is a plaque identifying this home, pictured below, on West Street, in the approximate “E. Darling” location:

Nathan Aldrich circa 1839

In 1880 Ellis was back in Sheldonville, listed in the U.S. Census as a “laborer”.

Ellis Dies at Age 59

When Ellis passed away May 16, 1883 in Sheldonville at age 59, the cause of death was listed as “paralysis and exhaustion”.  Ellis’ estate was administered by neighbor and contemporary George Sheldon, from the boatbuilding family.  George had been married to Nathan Aldrich’s niece Amey Ann Aldrich, who died young.  Susan’s brother Lyman Parmenter was the other administrator.

The real estate was valued at $1221.66.  There was a minor child mentioned, James.

Ellis’ debts amounted to $1185.00 and included:

  • Burial, $65
  • Nursing, $3
  • Advertisements and posters for the “Mortgagee’s Sale” $7
  • Widow’s allowance $100
  • Special allowance to the widow $20.30
  • Auctioneer $1.50
  • Sundry payments and charges $320.83 (possibly this amount includes all these mentioned)
  • town taxes for 1883  $15.10
  • Administrator’s fee (G. Sheldon)  $60

It was ordered that the property be sold at public auction.  The only record I have found so far for the sale is a Boston Journal news item on 12 Aug 1884:

“Wrentham. Susan M. Darling to Lydia E.B. Oliver, land and buildings on east side Burnt Swamp Street, $1000. “

There was “nothing to distribute” when the distribution time came, meaning the debts consumed all the value of the property.

Susan was living with her son Frank and his family in North Attleborough in 1900.  In 1910, she died just two weeks after the visit of the U.S. Census enumerator at her daughter Sarah’s house in Providence (276 Point Street).  She was 84 years old.

The Sheldonville Cemetery

Ellis and Susan Darling are buried at the Sheldonville Cemetery, located behind their house.

Ellis A. Darling, Died May 16, 1883 Aged 59 years and three months.

Susan died in Providence, but was buried in Sheldonville, the town where she spent most of her life.

Susan M. Darling Died May 1, 1910 Aged 84 years 1 month 7 days

The End of the 19th Century

What I sometimes think about the careers paths of my 19th century ancestors in southern New England is that in 1800 everyone was a farmer.  In 1900 no one was a farmer.  There were a few opportunities in a village like Wrentham, but I imagine that with no property, young people thought they had a chance for a better life in a city like Providence, with a wider variety of industries.  I can barely tell from these details whether Ellis and Susan had a happy life, but I hope they did.

Ideas for Further Research

I would like very much to fill this story out a bit more; my idea is to seek old copies of:

  • The Wrentham Recorder (1870′s)
  • The Wrentham Examiner (1870′s)
  • The Franklin Register
  • The Franklin Sentinel

Also, I need to find this deed of sale in 1884, and sift through all the deed transactions of Nathan Aldrich in his lifetime – of which there will be many.

In addition to numerous vital records and census records, the sources which provided evidence for this story include:

  • Baldwin, Thomas W. Vital Records of Wrentham, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850.  2 vols.  Boston, Mass, 1910. (link is for pdf copy free from Internet Archive)
  • Baldwin, Thomas W. Vital Records of Framingham, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850.  Boston, Mass, 1911. (link is for pdf copy free from Internet Archive)
  • Fiore, Jordan D.  Wrentham 1673-1973, A History. Town of Wrentham, Wrentham, Mass., 1973.
  • Martin, William A. and Lou Ella J. Martin. Dennis Darling of Braintree and Mendon and Some of his Descendants, by the author, 2006. Try this link to an electronic copy at the Brigham Young University Library
  • Massachusetts.  Norfolk.  Norfolk County, MA : Probate index; docket books and probate records [microform]. F72/N8/P76 vols. 149-153 “Ellis A. Darling, Wrentham”. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Probate Index, Norfolk County, Massachusetts.  Dedham Press, Dedham Mass., 1910.  Volume 1Volume 2
  • Providence City Directory, 1890. Providence, RI, USA: R. L. Polk Co., 1890.
  • “Real Estate. Norfolk County Transfers” (News Article).  Boston Journal, 12 Aug 1884.  Online Archives, Newsbank; 2011.
  • Sherman, W.A.  Atlas of Norfolk County, 1876.
  • Temple, J. H., A Genealogical Register of Framingham Families.  Town of Framingham, Framinham, Mass., 1887.
  • U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Link to this post: http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2012/02/27/the-nineteenth-century-life-of-ellis-aldrich-darling

Photos by Diane Boumenot.

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I’ve only been to the NEGHS once.  I prepared pretty carefully for my pilgrimage, took the train into Back Bay Station, walked a few blocks and there I was, standing in front of the brass doors.  I even took a picture.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society was founded in Boston in 1845

Sure, I learned some interesting things that day.  I found a deed on microfilm from Cumberland, Rhode Island that was helpful.  I read some journal articles of interest.  I wasted time in the printed genealogy section … it’s hard to leave the stacks.  I enjoyed the lobby display of current publications and found a book about the Arnold family that I had not been aware of.  I bought it, and on the train ride back discovered that there was a mistake in my Arnold line and I need to do further research.

But let’s get back to what I saw.

I knew that the first thing I would want to do at the library was ask to see the one manuscript they have that had belonged to my family.  I learned about it in The Register which is indexed online.  A note in volume 51 (1897) on page 219 reads as follows:

Thwing and Aldrich — The following record is copied from stray leaves of two Bibles which were presented to this Society by P. K. Foley, Esq., of Boston:

[I.  Thwing - let's skip this; not my family]

II. Nathan Aldrich born March the 19 A.D. 1773

Anna Aldrich Born June the 21 A.D. 1800

Chloe Aldrich Born September 2 A.D. 1773

Edmon Aldrich Born April 8: 1810

Calib Aldrich Born September the 25th, 1813 & He Died in October the 5th 1813

Edmon Aldrich Died September the 4, 1814

William Aldrich Born May 14, 1815

Sarah Jain Aldrich Born February 21, 1817

Chloe Aldrich Died March 10, 1826.

Wait … who are these people?

To the best of my knowledge Nathan Aldrich was married 3 times:

  1. Mercy Ballou — mother of Anna
  2. Chloe Crowninshield — mother of the other children
  3. Lois Grant

Nathan is buried between his second and third wives in Wrentham, Mass.

At the Burnt Swamp Road Cemetery in the Sheldonville section of Wrentham, Mass., Nathan is buried between wives number 2 and 3 (who I believe were cousins to each other).  There is some normal documentation of those two marriages.  Of course the poorly documented marriage is the one I’m descended from; Mercy is my ggggg-grandmother and Nathan is my ggggg-grandfather.  I am ANNA’s descendant.

I had gotten my first faint evidence of the Mercy/Nathan marriage in an old Ballou genealogy. But when I found this Bible entry it left me with a lot of questions about Mercy.  Why wasn’t she on the list?  Why wasn’t she in the cemetery?

As I got better at hunting old newspaper stories I found two items using GenealogyBank.com.  In 1802, Nathan disowned Mercy in the Providence Patriot:

Whereas Marcy, wife of me the subscriber, hath separated herself from me and at sundry times has unnecessarily run me in debt: These are therefore to forbid all persons trusting her on my account, as I am determined to pay no debts of her contracting from the date hereof. NATHAN ALDRICH, Cumberland, May 5, 1802.

In 1817 this was followed by an item about the daughter, Nancy:

Whereas Nancy Ann Aldrich, daughter of the subscriber, has behaved herself in an unbecoming manner, it has brought her father under the painful necessity of forbidding all persons from harboring or trusting her on my account, as I am determined not to pay any debts of her contracting after this day. — NATHAN ALDRICH, Wrentham, June 14

I have not discovered a death or divorce record for Nathan and Mercy. I don’t know what happened to her.  However Nathan and Nancy (“Anna”)’s relationship was, I believe, eventually repaired.  A few years later she married a local boy, Paul Darling, and went on to have five children.  Late in life, Nathan and third wife Lois were living with one of Nancy’s sons and his family on the family farm.  And more than that we may never know.

 … what was in the Bible?

The document turned out to be just the one leaf from the Bible, not the book itself.  But I’m grateful that Mr. Foley rescued this from whatever book stall it ended up in in 1897.  The archivist brought it over to me at a table. It was in a protective binder.

I opened the cover and realized that seeing the original is worth a hundred transcriptions any day.  This is what I saw:

Wife #1 Mercy is blacked out

Mercy had been blacked out.  She had an entry which was eradicated.  But I realized that if I tried hard, I could read the original writing:

Marcy Aldrich Born

April the 19 1778

At my request the kind archive lady came over and peered at the page from different angles with me.  We agreed on what it said.

This offers the first real evidence for Mercy’s family and matches the theory I had gleaned from the old Ballou book and some Rhode Island birth records. She is the daughter of Richard and Lucy Ballou.

I am grateful to the NEHGS for saving such an insignificant scrap.  This part of my family is poorly documented and obscure.  I have found no evidence that any other descendants of Nathan Aldrich are doing research.  I would venture to guess that I’m the first person to request that archival record in the 114 years it’s been sitting there.

And despite a little resentment about the “unbecoming behavior” remark, it meant a great deal to me to hold something in my hand that my ggggg-grandfather wrote in 1800.

Thank you, NEHGS.

There is a further update to this story found in the post “A Visit to the Rhode Island Judicial Archives.”

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