Archive for the ‘Lamphere’ Category

About two years ago I posted my top 10 problems and that post actually led to the solution of one of those problems.  So I am trying here, again, and my list today is somewhat different, due to progress made in several areas.

1. Catherine Young (Bennett) (Baldwin) Ross (1832? – 1907).  The first “gap” in my mother’s family tree is for the parents of my gg-grandmother, Catherine Young (Bennett) (Baldwin) Ross, known as “Grandma Ross” to my grandfather.  Grandma Ross took my grandfather in for a while after his mother died and his father was busy with other things.  He knew about her three marriages because he scrawled all the names on the back of this picture – he was descended from her second husband, Edward Baldwin.

Catherine was born in Surrey, England, possibly 04 Jun 1832.  The borders of Surrey were altered around that time, making this extra-difficult.  Her father’s name may be William B and her mother, Catherine (from her death record).  In the 1900 census she gave her immigration year as 1843; the 1905 census says 1840.  Searching English census records, ship passenger lists and American records has turned up a few speculative possibilities but nothing that seems to fit together.  My earliest record for her is an 1860 census record with her second husband at Belmont in western New York; eventually she had four children, William Blackstone Bennett, Anna Jean Bennett, Harriet Elizabeth Baldwin and Miles Edward Baldwin.  I have found no trace of any member of her original family.

My latest research track:

  • try and pin down her elusive first husband, William Bennett, who was born in Massachusetts.  I suspect she was divorced rather than widowed.
  • Keep investigating the idea that her first marriage might have taken place in Massachusetts, and even the divorce could have happened there.  It did not happen in Allegany County, New York.
  • Keep pursuing possible clues from DNA.
Catherine Baldwin, circa 1900 in Providence, RI, in her 60's.

Catherine Baldwin, circa 1900 on Marshall Street, Providence, R.I. around 1900.

2. Sarah Arnold (1776? – 1861?).  Having confirmed my relationship to Sarah’s husband, Jesse Andrews, I now need to move on to determine which part of the large Arnold family in Warwick Sarah’s father, Joseph Arnold, is from.  That name is pulled from Sarah’s 1795 marriage record in Warwick, Rhode Island.  Sarah is, as far as I can tell, not mentioned in The Arnold Memorial or other books published about the Pawtuxet/Warwick Arnolds, which probably means that she was not mentioned in any local birth or probate records (although I continue to check).  A Joseph Arnold is sometimes noted nearby Jesse and Sarah in census records. 

This would be an ideal common-name problem for me to tackle because I have good access to many records. No excuses!

My latest research track:

  • make my own documentation of all possible Joseph Arnolds, using vital, probate and land records in Warwick and East Greenwich.
  • try to pin down any further details of the neighbor Joseph Arnold, including nearby possible grown children.
  • Explore Joseph Arnold more widely in court, military and cemetery records.
  • I do not know the names of most of Sarah’s children, but continue to try and find those names, possibly in Norwich, Connecticut, as hints to her family.
One of several pages of Joseph Arnold deeds indexed at Warwick City Hall.  Note the "S.D." and "S.W." indicating "Son of D" and "Son of W".  Not every deed has that, of course.

One of several pages of Joseph Arnold deeds indexed at Warwick City Hall. Note the “S.D.” and “S.W.” indicating “Son of D” and “Son of W”. Not every deed has that, of course. That would be too easy.

3. James Lawrence (1807-1882).  My 4x-great grandfather James Lawrence was born in England in 1807, and his father’s name may have been James.  In 1835, he married Ann Shortridge (Shortriggs) in Dorchester, Massachusetts.  The next twenty years found them in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Connecticut before ending up in Providence by 1860 with several of their almost-grown children.  According to the 1865 census, he was a machinist.  If I could learn more about James’ origins, it might help me to verify my complicated relationship to the Lawrences through DNA testing.

My latest research track:

  • Keep looking for ship passenger records and court naturalization records for James.
  • Other than birthplaces listed by his children years later, I am having trouble pursuing him across the eastern U.S. through the 1830’s – 1850’s, although I do have an 1850 census record for them in Virginia.  Try finding clues from that for further research.
  • Learn more about Dorchester resources such as directories, businesses, and immigrant populations there.
Places fo birth:  England, South Carolina, North Carolina, Connecticut, Rhode Island.  My father was right.  My mother DOES descend from a long line of gypsies.

Places of birth for James’ children, from the 1865 census: England, South Carolina, North Carolina, Connecticut, Rhode Island.

4. Jessie Ruth MacLeod Murdock (1861-1936).  Thanks to a helpful cousin who saw my blog post, I learned about a 1954 local genealogy book written by the nephew of my brick-wall gg-grandmother back in Pictou, Nova Scotia. That was a great moment, but imagine my surprise as I obtained the book and saw her listed as “adopted” – a sentiment I do not believe she shared.  Although I now know more about my gg-grandmother Jessie’s early life in Pictou, Nova Scotia, I continue to know nothing about her mother, Rachel, and her relationship to the people who may have adopted her, William and Mary MacLeod.  Jessie came to the U.S. around 1881, according to the 1900 and 1905 census.  I can find no evidence of her journey or any relatives coming with her.  She married Louis Murdock in 1883, making me wonder if she was related to Louis’ adopted father, William Murdock, also from Pictou.  There are some Rachel’s in the Murdock family.

My latest research track:

  • investigate land and probate records of the Murdocks in Pictou through microfilm at the New England Historic and Genealogical Society library in Boston.
  • see if the name of her third daughter – Jessie Ellen – can be matched with any people from Pictou.
  • naturalization records
The MacLean farm which became the home of William and Mary (MacLean) Murdock, from page 192

The farm in Lorne, Pictou, where Jessie MacLeod spent her teen years, from page 192, The Pioneers and Churches.

5. Lydia Minor (1787-1849). Now that I have solved the Andrews problem, I plan to move one generation back to the Lydia Minor problem.  She married Russell Lamphere in Norwich, Connecticut in May, 1807 “At Preston”, as reported by the announcement in the Norwich Courier. Lydia and Russell had seven boys and seven girls in Norwich Falls, Connecticut.  No vital records for the marriage, the children, or Lydia’s death has been found.  A Norwich Courier notice indicates she died 18 January 1849.

Russell was from Westerly, Rhode Island, and at age 32 in 1808 his father’s probate papers said he was “late of Westerly now residing in Norwich”, however census and town records show him moving between Westerly and Norwich several times.  So the marriage at Preston could be because she was from Preston, or perhaps they were both originally Westerly residents.

Lydia’s 1849 death notice gives her age as 62, making her birth (if true) around 1787.  There was a Lydia Minor born to Jerusha Peabody and Ludowick Minor in nearby Stonington, Connecticut in 1787, however, I am pursuing another person that may be THAT Lydia.

My latest research track:

  • Examine deeds and probate for a potential “Minor” family in Westerly and Preston
  • Look for probate for Lodowick Minor at Stonington.
  • Keep pursuing the possible sister for Lydia, Eliza.
A quote from Lydia's 80 year old son, William, from the Norwich Bulletin, 12 Sep 1898, reminiscing with a friend about his mother.  Sent to me by a kind researcher in Norwich.

A quote from Lydia’s 80 year old son, William, from the Norwich Bulletin, 12 Sep 1898, reminiscing with a friend about his mother. The article later makes it clear both families had 14 children each, in Lydia’s case, 7 boys and 7 girls.  Sent to me by a kind researcher in Norwich.

 6. Maria Shipley Martin (1848? – ?).  Maria or Mariah Shipley Martin, my gg-grandmother, has a fascinating family tree that includes immigrants from Scotland and England who came to Nova Scotia in the 1700’s.  So she is one of those mystery ancestors whose origins are well known, but she disappears from records after 1892, when her daughter got married at her home in Milton, Massachusetts.  I suspect, by that time, she was separated from her husband, but I have never found any further record of her.  Massachusetts was pretty strict about death records so perhaps she had gone with a relative to another state before her death, or perhaps she did, indeed, divorce and remarry.  My family had no knowledge of this branch, so I have found the stories of her children Bessie (my great grandmother), Clara, Hazel and Daisy, but I have found very little about Minnie, May, and John Anderson Martin.

My latest research track:

  • keep looking for a divorce record in several counties.  Look further for a second marriage in Massachusetts.
  • Look for her death record at the NEHGS library in Boston.
  • Try Milton, Mass. city directories.
  • Try naturalization records.
A book of her grandson's sayings and some fabric scraps, put together by Maria's daughters in 1898 after the death of daughter Bessie.

A book of her grandson’s Teddy’s sayings and some fabric scraps, put together by Maria’s daughters in 1898 after the death of daughter Bessie.

7.  Nancy (——-) Lamphere (1752?-1833). Nancy may be a Tefft, but I have no confidence in that so I am open to all names.  She married Daniel Lamphere around 1774 and had six children.  The only records I have for her are her husband’s probate in 1808 (and later), a number of Westerly deeds that she is mentioned in, and the birth records of her children in Westerly. She may have died around 1833.  If she was living next to her son Russell Lamphere in 1810 (perhaps in her third of the house), then apparently she was sometimes called Anne, an obvious variant that I haven’t been using very much.  

My latest research track:

  • Explore middle names that were used by Nancy’s children for their own offspring.
  • Do a thorough review of all the neighbors from early census records, and also those mentioned in the deeds.
  • Look at the spouses of her children for possible connections.
Transcription of Nancy's mark on the 1817 deed to Nathan F. Dixon.  So, Nancy was not able to write her name.

Transcription of Nancy’s mark on the 1817 deed to Nathan F. Dixon. So, Nancy was not able to write her name.

8. Rachel Smith (1734? – ?).   I estimate that my 7th great grandmother Rachel was born around 1735 (based on first child born mid-1750’s), and signed a deed in 1768.  She may have been a Smith.  She married Thomas Arnold around 1754 and they had 5 children that I know of: Lucy, Asa, Catherine, Aaron, and Philadelphia. My most recent clue is that Thomas Arnold purchased some property from John and Mary Smith very early on in Smithfield.  The children ended up in Cumberland, but the story of Thomas and Rachel seems to end around 1775 and although the children stayed in Cumberland, I can find no further trace of Thomas and Rachel – perhaps they died young.  Truly, this one may never be solved which, of course, just seems like a fun challenge.

My latest research track:

  • Pursue the early, local Smiths
  • Keep looking for the exact John and Mary Smith that sold land to Thomas Arnold, following clues in the deed, which I now have.
  • Try looking at town council records for Smithfield.


Smithfield records, held in Central Falls, will probably be the best source of Rachel's family.

Smithfield records, held in Central Falls, will probably be the best source of Rachel’s family.

9. James Anderson (1748?-1796).  With the help of some fellow researchers I know so much about my 5x-great grandfather James Anderson of Fells Point, Baltimore, later Chester, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia.  Usually, knowing this much should have led, long ago, to knowing about his origins, but not so in this case.  His original family and place of birth remain a mystery.

My latest research track:

  • My cousins and I are focusing on DNA at this point.
  • Of the latest clues uncovered here and there, the ones that seem the most realistic are for other, earlier Anderson privateers off the coast of Maryland.  I may be able to explore those clues further in Maryland court records online, or at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
  • Think about how to acquire further records which may be held in England.

New York No 759. These are to Certify that Capt James Anderson was by a Majority of Votes regualrly admitted a Member of the New York Marine Society at a Meeting held the 11th day of June A.D. 1781 Given under my hand and the Seal of the Society this 11th day of June - Annoque Domini 1781.  Geo. Fowler Sec. [illegible] President.

New York No 759. These are to Certify that Capt James Anderson was by a Majority of Votes regualrly admitted a Member of the New York Marine Society at a Meeting held the 11th day of June A.D. 1781 Given under my hand and the Seal of the Society this 11th day of June – Annoque Domini 1781. Geo. Fowler Sec. [illegible] President.

10. Nathaniel Brown (1741? – 1798).  The last one is from my neglected line of Haydens/Parmenters, a closely intermarried family in Sudbury, Massachusetts that has not been that difficult to trace.  Nathaniel Brown married Elinor Hayden in 1761 in Sudbury and was “of Framingham” but I know the neighborhood where my ancestors lived was right on the border between Sudbury and Framingham, so he may have been very close by.  Nathaniel and Elinor had 11 children, and he died rather young in 1798.  There is a strong theory that he is the son of Thomas Brown and Abigail Cheney, originally of Cambridge, but no real proof.  And Brown was a common name in early Sudbury so anything is possible.  Deeds and probate have not solved this yet.

My latest research track:

  • Keep looking through probate records for local possible fathers of Nathaniel, to see if they mention him
  • Go through Nathaniel’s earliest land transactions more carefully.  He took over the farm of Elinor’s father, so the transactions are not that revealing.  Could he have been a cousin?  How did he have money for a purchase?
  • Learn more about the early history of Sudbury and the place of the Browns in it.
An early Sudbury house built by the Parmenters, in a line more closely related to Midge's husband than to mine.  Photo by Diane Boumenot.

An early Sudbury house built by the Parmenters.  Photo by Diane Boumenot.

In closing

It’s possible I wrote this so I could choose my next project.  Still not sure which it will be.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/10/17/my-top-ten-genea-mysteries/

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In my search for more information about Nancy, wife of Daniel Lamphere (c1740 – 1808) , I decided to explore each of their children’s lives.  I also examined the children from Daniel’s first marriage, since the circumstances of its ending are still unknown to me, and I thought if I learned more about them it might explain something about how Daniel and Nancy’s relationship began.  Daniel and Nancy are my grandmother Edna Darling’s ggg-grandparents from Westerly, Rhode Island.

I discovered Daniel’s children in this post, and examined Nancy’s supposed Tefft ancestry in this post.   I decided now to reexamine each of the 15 children individually.

A murder mystery

I didn’t get too far.  Imagine my surprise when I immediately found myself deep into a murder mystery.  This is the story of that mystery, but it’s also a story about sources of information.

One of the first children born to Daniel and Eunice Lamphere was George Lamphere, on 31 March 1761, according to the Westerly birth records.  The original Lamphere immigrant (gg-grandfather to George) was named George (c1638 – 1731) and there are many descendants with that name.  I knew from my initial exploration of Daniel’s descendants that George and his siblings from the first marriage left Westerly for northern New England and New York.   George was residing in Royalton, Windsor County, Vermont in 1810 when he gave a power of attorney during the settlement of his father’s property.

I saw that George married Delight Hilliard on May 2, 1782 in Shirley Bucknum’s Lanphere Family Research Aid.  George’s family is #92 on page 19.  They “removed from Westerly to Norwich by certificate 7 Mar 1783 (TCP 4/6: 465)” meaning they were given a certificate saying that their home was Westerly, which would ensure they would be allowed to maintain a home in their new location.  I have not yet been to Westerly to check the town council records volume 4/6 for that myself. I did find the marriage recorded in the Bozrah, Connecticut records by Barbour.

An old building in Windsor, from Vermont, the Unspoiled Land (1915) p37

An old building in Windsor, from Vermont, the Unspoiled Land (1915) p37

The first sign of the murder

Then I saw a strange note for George in Lanphere Family Research Aid:

Newspaper dated 29 Nov 1806, Windsor, VT:  “Mrs George L Lamphere died under suspicious circumstances from which her husband and mother were arrested & committed to jail” (RI VR 14 p37)”.

Her source was Arnold’s Vital Records of Rhode Island, vol. 14, p. 37.  A look at that entry shows that James Arnold abstracted the information from the Providence Gazette of November 29, 1806.  This is the Gazette article, from GenealogyBank.com:

In Windsor (Vt.) Mrs. Lamphere, wife of George L.  Having died on Sunday, she was buried on Monday; but suspicions arising, her body was taken up some days after, and examined by a jury of physicians, who reported that she came to her death by blows received on her left side and across her back; that those blows were probably given by her husband, and that his mother was accessory thereto.  They were both committed to Woodstock gaol.

A search brought up numerous other, similar newspaper entries from around New England, as paper after paper copied the Vermont story.  The nearest local paper in Windsor, Vermont revealed a few more details.

The Windsor Post Boy of November 11, 1806 mentioned:

she had been under the care of a Physician several days, and a part of the time was supposed delirious.  Her complaints were so singular, that she was suspected to have died by poison or violence; her body by permission of her relations, was on Tuesday taken from the grave and examined by nine Doctors

The September 5, 1807 Rutland Herald (v. XIII, issue 36, p.3) gave the outcome of the trial:

Important Trial – On Wednesday last, before the Supreme Court at Woodstock, came on the Trial of Mrs Ewing and George Lanphear, of this town, on an Indictment for MURDER committed on the body of Mrs. Lanphear (wife of the latter;) and after an impartial trial, which continued for four days, the charge was given to the Jury by His Honor Judge Tyler; – who, after a consultation of three hours, returned a Verdict NOT GUILTY.  — Windsor paper, Aug 31.

Royalton Village and brick store from History of Royalton

Royalton Village and brick store from History of Royalton

There are some good examples in here of how evidence can be skewed or overlooked:

  • the article repeated in various papers specifies “Mrs. Lamphere, wife of George L.”  But the Providence Gazette retelling of the story uses “Mrs George L. Lamphere.”  The Gazette is making an assumption (about what the L means).
  • A similar mistake was made by Arnold in his abstract of the death record from the Providence Gazette: “her husband and mother were arrested” but in fact the Providence Gazette had clearly stated “her husband, and that his mother was accessory thereto.”  And frankly, to even put the abstract into his volume suggested that the individuals had Rhode Island origins – something that he could not have been sure of.
  • George Lamphere lived in Royalton, Vermont, located in Windsor County.  I could find no newspapers for Royalton (a small town) so looked in Windsor County.  But for a while, I overlooked this clue: the Windsor Post-Boy stated that she “was interred in the West-Parish of this town” – if I had thought this through earlier I would have realized the paper was referring to the TOWN of Windsor and so the wife could not have been buried in Royalton.  I was checking each town on the map, and I would have known Windsor was too far away to be a likely burial spot. Also, some stories gave a dateline of “Windsor, Vermont.” Of course that meant a town, not a county.
  • Nowhere in these newspaper reports is the first name of the wife mentioned.

The fact that strongly supported the story

As I read more notes online (repeating over and over that this couple was George and Delight Lamphere) and as I eventually saw the original court record (see below), I became aware that the accused murderer’s mother was named Eunice.  That was also the name of my George Lamphere’s mother, although I had been uncertain as to her fate (Eunice’s husband Daniel remarried about 3 years after his and Eunice’s last recorded child).  The newspapers mentioned “Mrs. Ewing” but I quickly found an 1804 marriage in Windsor, Vermont of Eunice Lamphear and William Ewing.  This made me wonder if Daniel and Eunice had gotten a divorce, and she had eventually accompanied her son up to Vermont. In fact, another of Eunice’s children, Eunice, was also living in Royalton with her husband, Eliphalet Davis.  I checked with the Rhode Island Judicial Records Center, but no divorce for Eunice and Daniel was found, but I have never found a death record for Eunice either.

Tavern image from History of Royalton

Tavern image from History of Royalton

Looking around online

Over a period of weeks I explored sources both contemporary to the event – like newspapers, census records, and vital records – and more recently compiled sources, like family genealogies, online notes, and lists.

The Barbour vital records for Bozrah, Connecticut (just next to Norwich, where George and Delight had gone in 1783) reported the marriage and five births for George and Delight between 1783 and 1791: Jesse, David, George, Erastus, and Daniel.

The History of Royalton, Vermont with Family Genealogies 1769-1911 by Evelyn M. Wood Lovejoy (Burlington: 1911), (volume 1 and volume 2 are online) has a brief entry for the George and Delight Lamphere family on page 847, in which son George is noted, birth date unknown, and the births of Daniel, William, Eunice, Jeremiah, Sally, and Sidney are reported between 1796 and 1806.  The book also mentions a David, Erastus, and Jesse, about whom nothing was known, but I was able to easily see that those names matched the children born in Bozrah.  It was noted that the family, living on Broad Brook, Royalton, seemed to have a presence in Royalton from 1793 until around 1820 only.

I was rather shocked to find (in the Mayflower Descendant, vol. 51 (2002): p. 95, accessed on AmericanAncestors.org) an article “William Hillard of Duxbury, Massachusetts” by Victor Grant Hillard Jr. which repeats the story of Delight being murdered (which is not uncommon to find) but takes it a step further and states, on page 123, that Delight’s mother, Victoria, was living 29 Nov 1806 when jailed for the murder of her daughter Delight.  The source cited was the garbled Arnold abstract of the Gazette death notice.  It’s a good illustration of how indexing, abstracting, and retelling can change the story – and how important it is to check other sources.

But for once, it was actually the comments, queries and notes online that helped the most.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that although the story of George Lamphere murdering Delight was repeated often online, some commenters took issue with this story and cited sources to argue that the story should not be attached to the George Lamphere who married Delight Hilliard. I usually ignore random genealogy information posted online because it is usually unsupported. But in this case there were serious comments, evidence and reasons.  In particular, “calliecute” on Ancestry.com left a comment on someone else’s tree that contained two excellent pieces of evidence:

  • details of the graves of both Daniel and Delight, in New York State, c 1830
  • a mention of the trial record, which was cited as “WINDSOR SUPREME COURT DOCKET VOL 3 P28 – AUGUST TERM 1807″ which names the wife as “Amelia.”  Prior to seeing this, I had barely begun pouring over court record guides to figure out Vermont court records – this note assured me a record existed.
Old schoolhouse from History of Royalton

Old schoolhouse from History of Royalton

The facts that disproved the story

An email to the Vermont Archives (see Windsor County on this page) brought me a quick reply with a two page summary of the case, which was the only surviving record (Windsor County Supreme Court, January 1807 – January 1818 (vol. 3) p 28 – 29).  I am very grateful for their help.  Here is the pdf document of The State vs. Eunice and George Lanphier, August Term, 1807: WindsorSC_v3_p28 as sent to me by the archives.  Here is a pdf of my transcription: Windsor County Supreme Court.  The archives staff said it was a public record and I was welcome to post it.  If anyone is wondering, I transcribed the Windsor County jurors as Isaac Tower, Theophilus Bates, Leonard Walker, Junice Parker, John Parker, Arnold Wheeler, Leonard Richardson, Amos Horner, John Billings, Moses Davis, Prince Haskell, and Thomas Hodgkins.

I thought from what I saw online that the court record would name the wife as “Amelia.”   And sure enough, the wife was named Amelia. That does not disprove anything, really, since Delight could have died and George remarried, although it certainly eliminates Delight as being the victim.

Another important piece of evidence didn’t strike me until I went through the timeline of this story.  According to the book History of Royalton, Vermont (linked above), Daniel and Delight’s last child, Sidney, was born December 12, 1806.  Ancestry.com has images of a card file for Vermont Vital Records, 1720 – 1908.  Sidney’s card appears below.  So not only was Delight alive in December of 1806, but she and Daniel were still married and having children.  I would not say this is absolutely conclusive proof of anything, but it goes far to prove that Daniel was unlikely to have married and murdered Amelia by the date of the assault, October 25, 1806.

Ancestry.com - Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 card 2910 of 4095.

Ancestry.com – Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 card 2910 of 4095.

Lastly, and again I would like to thank Ancestry.com user calliecute for this information, George and Delight Lamphere are buried in Riverside Cemetery in Pierrepont, St. Lawrence County, New York.  Because of spelling variations, the Lamphere name is hard to find online and so various compilations of records have been built, including the Lamphear Genealogy Web Site on Rootweb.  There I found some lists of New York graves for Lampheres, including this page which lists St. Lawrence County graves.  To quote the information on that page, provided by volunteers Alice Rosenburger and Bob Lamphear:

LANPHEAR, George died August 19, 1832 at 71y, 4m, 18d
LANPHEAR, Delight (wife of George) died July 24, 1831 at 77y 11m 5d

This is definitely the George and Delight I’ve been studying.  Calculating back George’s birth date puts it one day off from the recorded Westerly birth date of March 31, 1761.  Delight’s age at death does not seem to match the date of her birth recorded in the Barbour volume for Stonington, Connecticut (p. 191):  August 18, 1764. The age on the grave marker suggests a birth date of August 19, 1753 – one day and 11 years off.  That would suggest she was 77, and her husband 70, at the time of her death – something that would be very unusual in that era.   I suspect the gravestone may have been hard to read; perhaps it said she was 66.

Also, the markers noted in that cemetery included other family members – Hiram, son of Sidney Lamphear, and Eliza Ann and Zerah, daughters of Erastus Lamphear.

Broad Brook area in the southern corner of Royalton; 1782 map of the initial Royalton land allotments - Daniel Lamphere was not there yet.

Broad Brook area in the southern corner of Royalton; 1782 map of the initial Royalton land allotments – Daniel Lamphere was not there yet.

I am not finding census records to back up this move to New York, but George may not have been the head of a household later in life.  I did find evidence that he was trying to move as early as 1805 – an 1805 ad by him, in the Windsor Post-Boy, offering his farm for sale:

Said farm contains upwards of 100 acres of excellent land, 40 acres under good improvement with a young and thrifty Orchard, well watered.  Wood easily brought to the door for use – and Mills handy – 25 cattle can now be kept thro the year on said farm … 500 dollars in Cash, and the remainder in neat stock and horses.  –George Lamphear, Royalton, February 13, 1805.

My conclusion is George and Delight Lamphere should no longer be considered as a part of the murder story.  Sadly, that doesn’t really solve anything.

The crime itself

Apparently any record of the evidence presented at trial is no longer available.  So we don’t know what the jury was told, other than the words of the indictment.  I wonder why she was under a doctor’s care and yet the concerns arose by what she said, not by what that doctor saw.  I wonder why her body had to be exhumed to find the evidence of a lethal beating.  I suspect, but don’t know, there were no other suspects.  I am not knowledgeable about the legal system of the time (although I follow The Legal Genealogist faithfully!) and don’t want to assume I know the law – I am wondering if beating her was really no crime?  Wouldn’t the handkerchief about the throat seem to clearly indicate an intent to murder her?

I don’t think I will easily forget the grim details in the court record:

Eunice & George did then & there feloniously, willfully and with malice prepense strike, knock down, and with great force & violence beat and kick the said Amelia Lanphier upon the back, the left side, the neck, and the Loins of her the said Amelia, and did also, then & there feloniously, willfully, and with malice prepense bind a Handkerchief around the neck and throat of her the said Amelia, and thereby with great force and violence, did squeeze and press the neck & throat of her the said Amelia …

the said Amelia, from the said twenty fifth day of October until the first day of November in the year last aforesaid at Windsor aforesaid, did languish, and languishing did live and on the same first day of November in the year last aforesaid at Windsor aforesaid, the said Amelia died of the several mortal strokes, bruises & hurts, and so the Jurors aforesaid upon their oath aforesaid do say, that the said Eunice & George, her the said Amelia in the manner and form aforesaid, feloniously, willfully, and with malice prepense, did kill, and murder …

from the original court file - see pdf link, above

from the original court file – see pdf link, above

The brutality, and the agonizing days of pain which ended in her death are a terrible legacy for Amelia, whoever she was.  One senses this was not the first episode of violence in this household, if two family members were conspirators in it. We are only hearing one part of this story (accurate or not) in the indictment but if it was true, ultimately there was no justice for Amelia.  She went to her grave, perhaps leaving beloved children behind, and (if she was murdered by these family members), the murderers went on with their lives after a brief jail stint.  There is nothing to be done about that, but at the very least she should NOT be remembered as a different person altogether.

I hope that genealogists can do that for her.  If anyone puts her identity together, I would like to know.

In conclusion

In this research, I found good evidence where I least expected it, and bad information in places that should have been more reliable.  I also noted some subtle errors introduced by abstracting.  This has been a great reminder of the importance of examining all sources for information, and checking each fact as thoroughly as possible, even those that appear to be substantiated.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2016/01/03/evidence-to-solve-a-murder/

p 42-Vermont, the unspoiled land

Connecticut River Valley from Vermont, the Unspoiled Land, p. 42

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Some background

I made some good progress this year with the Lampheres when I found some Westerly, Rhode Island deeds that showed that my ggggg-grandfather, Daniel Lamphere, had two families of children, the first with wife Eunice (possibly Wise) beginning in 1759, and a subsequent set of children after 1775 with second wife Nancy (possibly Tefft) (the story of that is here).  The Westerly vital record books show both of these families (vol. 3, page 100 and vol. 4, page 67 – both indexed in Arnold’s Vital Records of Rhode Island, vol. 5, Westerly Births & Deaths section, p. 111 & 112) and on first glance one would think these were two different Daniel Lampheres.  Neither wedding – to Eunice or to Nancy – has surviving documentation, although the marriages are real enough, per the birth records, and Daniel’s last land records which name Nancy as his widow, and name both sets of children as belonging to him.

Knowing there was only one Daniel Lamphere, and suspecting (not completely proven yet) that his correct place in the fourth generation of  the Westerly Lampheres was Daniel4, Daniel3, John2, George1, I turned my attention to the identity of Daniel’s second wife, Nancy, who is my ggggg-grandmother.  Nancy was identified tentatively as a Tefft in the usual Lamphere resources (see details below).  Nancy is related to my grandmother in the following way:

Nancy, likely born around 1750, was my grandmother's ggg-grandmother

Nancy, likely born around 1750, was my grandmother’s ggg-grandmother

Learning more about Nancy

This is the convoluted problem with Nancy:

  1. Several unreliable sources suggest her name may be Tefft
  2. She became Daniel’s widow in late 1808 and by her right of thirds, held onto one third of the Westerly, R.I. farm which I have tentatively located (see blog post here).
  3. Although I have no documentation of the wedding, their first child, my gggg-grandfather Russell Lamphere, was born December 2, 1776, and five additional children by 1792.

    To Mr. Daniel Lanphear and Nancy, his wife, RUSSELL their eldest son born December the 2d AD -- 1776

    To Mr. Daniel Lanphear and Nancy, his wife, RUSSELL their eldest son born December the 2d AD — 1776. The other children were Marcy, William, Nancy, Triphena,and Daniel.

  4. There was a neighbor to the Lamphere property over a period of many years named John Tefft.
  5. A Partial Record of the Descendants of John Tefft by Maria E Maxon Tefft (Buffalo: Peter Paul Book Company, 1896) presents, on page 30, a John Tefft family featuring a daughter, Anna (for which Nancy would be a nickname), who married Daniel Lamphere.  Surprisingly, Anna was born in 1790 (and Arnold’s Vital Records of R.I., vol. 5, Westerly, p. 138 shows the same birth dates) .  Since my ggggg-grandmother Nancy married by 1776, the person in the book is about a generation off.
  6. The book A Partial Record reports some information about John Tefft’s property: “The Tefft homestead was built in 1739, and is situated one mile and a half from the busy part of Westerly, R.I. and is owned by William R. and Walter Frazier, great great grandsons of John Tefft.”  I turned to my map of the Lamphere property location, as well as a Beers 1870 map from this page on historicmapworks.com, which shows a “Wm Frazier” and “Frazier”.  That location definitely borders the Lamphere property.
  7. John Tefft’s will is abstracted in the Rhode Island Genealogical Register, v. 9, page 54 (Westerly, R.I. Probate vol. 2 1811-1821, p. 347-348).  The will was proved 28 Feb 1820, and mentions many of the same children, and their spouses, reported in A Partial Record, including daughter Anna Lanphere, wife of Daniel Lanphere.

With so much to back up the John Tefft family whose daughter, Anna, born 1790, married Daniel Lanphere, I have to conclude that there was a real Anna Tefft, daughter of the neighbor John Tefft, who married a Daniel Lanphere.  But it is clear that is NOT MY ggggg-grandfather Daniel Lanphere, but must be some later Daniel Lanphere.

Transcription of Nancy's mark on the 1817 deed to Nathan F. Dixon.

Transcription of Nancy’s mark on the 1817 deed to Nathan F. Dixon.

Looking at other Daniel Lanpheres

My Daniel Lanphere had two sons “Daniel” named in the Westerly birth records, one born in 1768 in the earlier family and the other in 1792 in the later family. This seems strange since there is no indication that the elder one was dead before the later one was born.

A Daniel Lamphere had an 1812 probate record in Westerly, abstracted in Rhode Island Genealogical Record naming three minor children, Daniel, Sophronia, and Pamelia, who chose Lemuel Vose as their guardian (Lemuel’s brother was married to a Mary Lamphere, connection unknown).  I am not finding a marriage record nor have I read the original probate record yet, (The Lanphere Family Research Aid mentions that a wife, Elizabeth, is named in the will), but Nancy, born in 1790, is very unlikely to have been the wife here, she would be a little too young.

There are other Daniel Lampheres.  There is a Daniel Lamphere, died 1854, buried in the Joshua/Lemuel Vose Lot in Westerly, near his two wives:  Nancy Ann, died 1832, and Fanny, died 1838.  Surely, that is the Daniel that was taken in as a child by Lemuel Vose in 1812.  I can find no last name for Nancy Ann – could she be Anna Tefft?

Looking at census records for Westerly, Rhode Island:

  • 1810:  no Daniel Lamphere head of household
  • 1820:  one Daniel Lamphere, household of a couple with three children
  • 1830:  one Daniel Lamphere, a household of 12
1810 Federal Census, Westerly, R.I., showing cousin Nathan Lamphere, cousin John Crandall, son Russell Lamphere (who may have been managing property but was usually living in Connecticut), and Anne Lamphere.  It seems likely that this was Nancy.

1810 Federal Census, Westerly, R.I., showing cousin Nathan Lamphere, cousin John Crandall, son Russell Lamphere (who may have been managing property but was usually living in Connecticut), and Anne Lamphere. It seems likely that this Anne was Nancy.  Courtesy of Ancestry.com, page 3 of 7 in Westerly.

My conclusions about Nancy Tefft

All along, I suspected that the Tefft books were simply placing my Nancy Tefft in the wrong generation, somehow.  But now, with evidence to substantiate what the book says, I am starting to think that A Partial Record is right about Nancy Tefft. She married a Daniel Lamphere, just not MY Daniel Lamphere.

But the bigger question is, how does this change my research:

  • Is the whole “Nancy Tefft” idea that I see mentioned over and over as my Daniel Lamphere’s wife a simple error based on the Tefft books, possibly encouraged by the neighboring properties, but really my ggggg-grandmother has a completely different surname?
  • Could there actually be two generations of Nancy Tefft/Daniel Lamphere marriages?
  • If her surname is not Tefft, how will I find other possibilities?

I think I have explored all of her deeds, and I am unable to find a death record, and probate for her seems unlikely since she essentially deeded her third of the farm to Nathan F. Dixon in 1817.  Based on the census, she seems to have lived past 1830.

All in all, the details in the book looked shoddy to me, but they turned out to be reliable enough that they are truly pointing in another direction.  Now I am left with a completely undocumented wife … essentially, starting over with her.

Next steps

  • Considering that I truly have no idea what her name is, look for new possibilities.  I have taken the Tefft suggestion much too seriously.  I will not even use it as a tentative name in the database anymore.
  • Keep searching for death, probate, subsequent deeds, census or burial info for Nancy.
  • Find out what happened to the first wife, Eunice – continue the search for a divorce record at the Rhode Island Judicial Archives, or death information for Eunice in other places.
  • Continue to explore the stories of each of the 15 children listed in the Westerly birth records for Daniel Lamphere.
westerly 7th day baptist

Old Seventh Day Baptist Church, Westerly. Some Lampheres were originally members, but there is no evidence that Daniel and Nancy were.


Westerly vital records are transcribed in James Arnold’s Vital Records of Rhode Island 1636-1850, which can all be found here – Westerly is in the second half of volume 5.

http://www.Findagrave.com, Vose Lot, also known as Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Westerly #023.

- The Lampheres

The NEHGS articles, available to members on the NEHGS website, http://www.americanancestors.org, or in many genealogically-oriented libraries, are the standard source for Lamphere generations one through three:

  • Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants.”  New England Historic Genealogical Register 153 (April 1999): 131-140.
  • Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants, Part 2.”  New England Historic Genealogical Register 159 (October 2005): 333-340.
  • Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants, Part 3.”  New England Historic Genealogical Register 160 (January 2006): 47-59.

The Ancestry of Harry E. Figgie, Jr., of Cleveland, Ohio by Patricia Law Hatcher.  Boston: Newbury Street Press, 2007.

Two sources commonly accessed by Lanphere researchers should be used with caution, since they are drafts only and contain many known errors and omissions:

  • The Lanphere Family Research Aid by Shirley (McElroy) Bucknum.  The Genealogical Society of Portland, Oregon, 1979, plus rev., 1981.  The author states there is no copyright on the book, so that it can be shared.  I will try to take better pictures of the booklet in the future and put it online, in the meantime, try this link to an archived pdf copy.
  • The Lanphere and Related Families Genealogy by Edward Everett Lanphere.  Typewritten manuscript, 1970.  This is present in many genealogical library collections, but is also available at this link for subscribers to Ancestry.com.  The main section, starting on page 1, is called “The Lanphere Line”.  Googling that term may produce other online copies.

Tefft Ancestry- The Teffts

A Partial Record of the Descendants of John Tefft by Maria E Maxon Tefft Buffalo: Peter Paul Book Company, 1896.

The Tefft Ancestry, Comprising Many Hitherto Unpublished Records of Descendants of John Tefft of Portsmouth, Rhode Island by Charles H. W. Stocking.  Chicago: The Lakeside Press, 1904.

The Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island by John Osborne Austin – add. by G. Andrews Moriarty.  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1978.  Teffts are on p. 392-393.  Covers early generations only.

Sypher, Francis J.  “Ancestry of William Tefft of Herkimer and Oneida Counties”, The New York Biographical and Genealogical Record, v. 139 (2008) p. 95-102.

Hatcher, Pat.  “Peter Tefft and Occam’s Razor”, The New York Biographical and Genealogical Record, v. 139 (2008) p. 103-108.

Mathew, Linda L. “John Tefft and his Children: A Colonial Generation Gap?”, Rhode Island Roots, v. 18 1992, p. 76-80.

The Descendants of John Tefft (1614-1676) compiled by Rachel Saul Tefft.  Reprinted by Higginson Book Company, Salem, Massachusetts, 1997.  Accessed at the Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The post you are reading is located at: http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2013/12/30/when-good-evidence-turns-bad/


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Lydia Minor married Russell Lamphere in 1807 in Preston, Connecticut.  They may possibly have had fourteen children in nearby Norwich, and she died in Norwich in 1849.  Lydia is my gggg-grandmother through the following line – my grandmother Edna Darling–>Russell Darling–>Emma Louella Lamphere–>Russell Lamphere Jr.–>Lydia Minor.  I last wrote about Lydia over a year ago.

The evidence

I reviewed my scanty evidence of Lydia Minor previously:

  1. a marriage notice in the Norwich Courier, May 20, 1807:  “At Preston, Miss Lydia Miner, to Mr. Russell Lamphere.
  2. a death notice in the Norwich Courier, Jan 23, 1849:  “At Norwich Falls, on the 18th inst., Mrs. Yydia, wife of Russell Lamphere, aged 62 years. ” [most likely a typo for Lydia]
  3. an entry in “History of Floyd County, Iowa” (1882) contained in a memorial to their son, Williard “son of Russell and Lydia (Miner) Lanphere, natives of Connecticut, where they died. … He is one of a  family of fourteen, and is the tenth child.”
Death norice of Lydia Miner Lamphere, from the Norwich Courier, January 18, 1849

Death notice of Lydia Miner Lamphere, from the Norwich Courier, January 23, 1849

And the one piece of new evidence that has surfaced in the last year or so:

  1. A Norwich Bulletin article from 12 Sep 1898 entitled “Letters of the People: Old Times and Old Folks” was sent to me by a thoughtful researcher who found my blog.  It gives a reminiscence of Russell and Lydia by their son, when he was elderly:
  • “Russell Lamphere, father of William Lamphere of William Street, who is a genial old gentleman, fond of stories (<-note these remarks refer to William, not Russell) also had fourteen children – seven boys and seven girls – perfect method, you see, for the Lampheres were sterling Methodists.  The most of the children lived to be over 75, and the eldest to be 86!  William Lamphere and Captain William Sherman are the oldest residents of the Falls.”
  • ” … Their mothers “when women were women, and fashion models had not been invented” as he says, did all their housework, with ten children to care for, and besides found time to meet the demands of society.”
picture for Mrs. H.D. Burdick's Millinery shop, from the slightly mis-named book Leading Business Men of Westerly, 1889

picture for Mrs. H.D. Burdick’s Millinery shop, from the slightly mis-named book Leading Business Men of Westerly, 1889

The question:  Where was Lydia born?

One major question about Lydia Minor is whether she was born around Preston, Connecticut, where she married in 1807, or perhaps in nearby Westerly Rhode Island, where her husband was born.  I examined the children’s reports of her birth place, on various census records.  I have identified 10 possible children for Russell and Lydia, with varying degrees of certainty.  Analysis of that evidence would take several pages, but contact me if you are interested in a particular individual.

View of Preston, from Connecticut Historical Collections, by J.W. Barber, 1836.

View of Preston, from Connecticut Historical Collections, by J.W. Barber, 1836.

Here is what the possible children reported about their mother’s place of birth:

  • Nancy, b.?   Married Samuel Munro in 1833 in Plainfield, Connecticut?
  • Lydia, b. 1807.  Married Henry Palmer, 1830, Norwich.  Died 1852.
  • Lucy Ann, b. 1808.  Married Burnham Cook, 1833, Norwich Falls. Died 1865.
  • Eliza or Elizabeth, b. 1811.  Married Joseph Thomas Fletcher, 1829, who died young. Married Ashael A Parkerson, 1847. In the 1880 census she indicated that both her parents were born in Connecticut. She died in 1896.
  • Caroline, b. 1814.  Married Jeremiah C Brown in Norwich, 1832.  No evidence after 1850.
  • Russell Jr, b. 1817.  Married Hannah Andrews 1838, in Colchester, Connecticut.  In the 1880 census he indicated both parents were born in Rhode Island. He died in 1898.
  • William, b. 1818. Married Jane Elizabeth Hopkins 1844.  In the 1880 census he indicated both parents were born in Rhode Island. In the 1900 census he indicated that both parents were born in Rhode Island.  He died in 1901.
  • Williard, b. 1820.  Married Mary J. Hoisington in the 1850’s in Iowa.  In the 1880 census he indicated his father was born in Rhode Island and his mother was born in Connecticut.  Williard died in 1902. No 1900 census found.
  • James D., b. 1829.  Married Mary —.  In the 1880 census he indicated both parents were born in Connecticut. James died in 1887.
  • Louisa H., b. 1832.  Married Nathan Locke Potter, died before 1876.

Reports are evenly divided between Rhode Island and Connecticut. Williard is the only one who splits the birthplace of his parents, to assert that his mother was born in Connecticut.  And yet, just the fact that any of the children, all born and raised in Connecticut, would say their mother was born in Rhode Island seems significant.

Norwich Plain c1840 from Old House of Ancient Norwich by M.E. Perkins, 1895.

Norwich Plain c1840 from Old House of Ancient Norwich by M.E. Perkins, 1895.

Consulting standard sources

Most of the standard sources on the Minors were produced by John Augustus Miner, including Thomas Minor Descendants 1608-1981 (Trevett, Maine, 1981) and earlier versions of this genealogical work, such as The Lyon’s Whelp, 1970.  The Barbour collections for the southeastern Connecticut towns have all been consulted, as well as the genealogical journals indexed on the NEHGS website, AmericanAncestors.org.

There is only one Lydia mentioned in Thomas Minor Descendants 1608-1981 who could be this Lydia Minor. Since Lydia’s brief obituary is specific about her age, we can estimate her birth at around 1787.  The book mentions a Lydia born in Stonington, Connecticut, January 27, 1787 to Lodowick and Jerusha (Peabody) Minor.  Here and there (but NOT in the book) one sees an indication that this Lydia married Paul B. Maine and moved to Chenango, New York, died 4 Jul 1874, and is buried in Center Cemetery, Pharsalia (former name, Stonington), New York.  I have been unable to get a death record.  Two siblings of that Lydia – Isaac and Lodowick – also settled in New York but not particularly near Lydia, or each other.  I have not yet searched for a probate record for Lodowick, Sr., which might settle this.

And yet I have sensed all along Lydia could easily have had an undocumented birth; her own children were not registered, that I have found.  Tying her to Lodowick and Jerusha is based on name and date only and as time goes on and I find no other matching names or places I feel more certain that is not her.

Stonington 1836

Finding a clue in Westerly

While searching Westerly deeds recently for Russell Lamphere’s family, I learned that Russell grew up in Westerly and had departed before 1808.  Norwich, Connecticut was a growing mill town and he may have headed there for work.  Clearly he could have met Lydia in either spot before their marriage in Preston (not far from Norwich), Connecticut in 1807.

I made a thorough review of Minors in James Arnold’s Vital Records of Rhode Island, volume 5.  In the Westerly Marriages section, p. 46, I found something I’ve never noticed before:

  • 4-253 Minor, Eliza, and William Lanphere 2d, Dec. 23, 1812.

This is not so far off from 1807, the year of Lydia’s marriage.  A thorough search for Eliza’s parentage has revealed nothing so far.  However, I note that Lydia named a daughter Eliza or Elizabeth in 1811.

Stonington, pictured in Leading Business Men of Westerly, 1889.

Stonington, pictured in Leading Business Men of Westerly, 1889.

I searched for William Lanphere 2d (noting that “2d” may not have meant then what it would mean today).  The Lanphere Family Research Aid by Shirley Bucknum suggests that the William Lanphere who married Eliza Minor in 1812 was the son of Nathan4 (Nathan3, John2, George1) and that Eliza may have died before 1830, when William married (2) Achas Stillman.  A DAR record (DAR set, Albany, NY B58, p144) was cited for some part of this, and apparently there are recorded births of children in Westerly.

Why this seems significant

William Lanphere’s father, Nathan Lanphere, married three times and William was the son of Nathan and his third wife, Sarah Saunders.  William had many siblings.  As I read through the Lanphere Family Research Aid for this family (p. 11), I was surprised to see that one of the sisters, Abigail, married Wait Clarke in 1799 (apparently recorded in Westerly).  Wait Clarke had appeared at the probate hearing for Russell’s father, Daniel Lanphere.

In conclusion

Eliza Minor is probably the biggest clue I’ve had on the Lydia Minor mystery in two years.  But she is only a clue, there is no real evidence at this point, and no combination of details to prove anything.  Eliza could be a cousin or sister of Lydia, or not.  I notice there are more mentions of Minors in the Westerly deeds than in the Westerly vital records, suggesting to me that Minors came across the line from Stonington, Connecticut (where the Minor population was much larger) from time to time.  I suspect that the births of Lydia and Eliza were either not recorded, or were recorded in a way that is now hard to find.

Since my discovery of the identity of Russell’s father, Daniel, I have struggled to find Daniel’s exact parentage in a community that had several Daniel Lanpheres.  However, if they are from the line I suspect (Russell5, Daniel 4, Daniel3, John2, George1) then Russell and William would have been second cousins.

So Russell’s second cousin married a Minor, in Rhode Island, perhaps?  I think I can officially say I now have a fifth clue for Lydia.

View of Norwich, 1836, from Connecticut Historical Collections, by J.W. Barber, 1836.

View of Norwich, 1836, from Connecticut Historical Collections, by J.W. Barber, 1836.

Next steps

  • Explore Minor probate records in Westerly or Stonington for names that look familiar from Lydia and Eliza’s children, and could possibly be the father of Lydia, Eliza, or both
  • Find the spouses of Eliza’s children, and see if Eliza’s parentage could be mentioned in genealogies for those families.
  • Continue to explore the Seventh Day Baptist connections, since Wait Clarke and his wife were lifelong members of the church.
  • Look for a death record for William’s sister Abigail (Lanphere) Clarke.
  • Continue to explore the location of Lydia’s wedding, Preston, Connecticut.
  • Look again for neighbors of Russell Lanphere’s boyhood home (now that I am close to finding the spot) through census and deed records and Russell and Lydia’s life in Norwich, Connecticut.
  • Explore other sources for obscure stories, such as the Narragansett Historical Register or Rhode Island Roots.
  • Continue to seek the burial spot of Lydia and Russell.

The post you are reading is located at: http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2013/03/02/a-sister-for-lydia-minor/

An ad for Westerly Grantie monuments from Leading Business Men of Westerly, 1889.

An ad for Westerly Granite monuments from Leading Business Men of Westerly, 1889.

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On Lanphere Road

While driving in Westerly one day I discovered a “Lanphere Road” running between Beach Street (Route 1A) and the Pawcatuck River.  It’s near the River Bend Cemetery.  I was curious about whether that could be the approximate location of my last Westerly ancestor, Russell Lanphere Sr., born 1776, and his parents, Daniel and Nancy Lanphere.  Locating Daniel and Nancy in Westerly might be a first step in finding the path of his descent from early Westerly resident George Lanphere.

I had previously investigated Daniel’s Westerly, Rhode Island deeds.

What the Deeds Told Me

My ggggg-grandfather Daniel Lanphere owned a farm in Westerly.  He bought and sold various parts of it over his lifetime.

From Westerly Land Evidences, v. 13, p. 361, entered July 5th, 1808 (written just before Daniel’s death):

  • “a certain tract of land situate in Westerly … containing … about sixty acres, the farm by me now improved”
  • “bounded as follows, to wit.  On the North by land belonging to David Lamphere, on the East by land belonging to Maxson Lamphere and land belonging to John Tefft on the South by the highway which heads from Pawcatuck bridge on the west by land belonging to Nicholas Vincent of New York.”
  • “premises with the buildings thereon standing and all the appurtenances thereunto belonging”

I have seen some suggestions that Daniel owned some of the original George Lanphere property allocated at the time the town was founded in the 1660’s, but haven’t been able to find evidence of  that yet.  I do have evidence that in 1669 George Lanphere possessed Lot 32 (contact me for the citation) but I have never seen a map plotting those original lots.

What the Map Told Me

Looking at a modern map one is struck by some of the streets surrounding Lanphere Road which are named for the early Westerly settlers; names that I saw over and over in the Westerly land records: Clark, Greenman, State.  This gives me the idea this area was settled early.

Lamphere Road courtesy of Google maps - it's actually Lanphere Road

Lamphere Road courtesy of Google maps – it’s actually Lanphere Road

“The road that leads to the Pawcatuck Bridge” could be some version of what is today Route 1A, Elm Street/Beach Street or, obviously, an earlier iteration of the road. Today the bridge is in the middle of downtown, separating Westerly from Pawcatuck.  It looks like the narrowest spot, and from the scanty evidence I’ve found, I think it was always in the same place.

The location of the present bridge over the Pawcatuck River, top, and Lanphere Road, near the bottom.

The location of the present bridge over the Pawcatuck River, top, and Lanphere Road, near the bottom.

A Visit to the Street

I visited Lanphere Road this week.  As you can see on the map, the road ends at the river.

Lanphere Road

The area has a few older houses amongst more modern houses, but my husband said when he was a kid, it was mostly woods.

Beach Street at the intersection of Lanphere Road

Beach Street at the intersection of Lanphere Road

There were mid-20th century houses, and perhaps a few earlier, on Lanphere Road.  Nothing looked very old … not that I expected to see my ancestors’ modest dwelling that was probably not new in 1810.  The only thing that really struck me was that it would seem impossible to describe land in this area without mentioning the Pawcatuck River.  And I did not remember any mention of the river itself in those deeds.  And one other thing, when I returned home and studied the map: how could Beach Road road EVER make the south border of a property?  It runs north/south.

Looking for Old Maps

I visited the Rhode Island Historical Society to see what older Westerly maps they might have. They had one from 1850 that covered the downtown (“village”) area only.  They had a Beers’ atlas containing maps of each town in Rhode Island from 1870; I cannot reproduce that Westerly map here but it can be nicely viewed at HistoricMapWorks.com.

I talked to the librarian (which is always advisable when looking for maps at the RIHS; some cataloging of the maps is still ongoing).  She asked if I had consulted Westerly and Its Witnesses by Frederick Denison (1878).  I explained there were no Westerly maps in the book.  She pointed out that my ancestor’s property might have been described.  I knew it wasn’t, specifically, but the idea stuck with me to check it over again carefully.  I read that book a long time ago.

Putting the Pieces Together … of Granite?

It was a string of clues in Westerly and Its Witnesses that ended up helping me.

First clue: A Lanphear cemetery on property owned by N.F. Dixon

A chapter on “Grave-Yards and Graves” listed a Lanphear cemetery described as follows:

Lanphear Ground (2).  This is located on the pasture land of the Hon. N. F. Dixon, on the southwest slope of Cormorant Hill, about midway between the residence of Rev. A.B. Burdick and Lanphear Hollow, and within view from the Potter Hill Road.

I suspected right away the name “N.F. Dixon” had somehow survived most of the 19th century. A Nathan F. Dixon (in 1810) was the purchaser of all of Daniel Lanphere’s property.  His name was mentioned over and over again in the deeds.  I went looking for him, and I learned that Westerly resident Nathan Fellows Dixon was at one time a U.S. Senator from Rhode Island, and his son and grandson, with the identical name, also had successful political careers.  The eldest Nathan Dixon, an attorney, moved to Westerly around 1802, according to the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.  It only makes sense that he would purchase local property as he established himself in Westerly.

Senator Nathan F. Dixon, courtesy of Wikipedia.  Well, at least our family property wasn't bought by some nobody.

Senator Nathan F. Dixon, courtesy of Wikipedia. Well, at least our family property wasn’t bought by some nobody.

Nathan Dixon appeared several times on the 1870 map, and one of the locations was near “Rev. A. B. Burdick” and Potter Hill Road, although I have never located anything called “Lanphear Hollow” or “Cormorant Hill.”   I checked the Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries site and it claims the Clark-Lamphear cemetery is on Route 3, Ashaway Road, “50 feet N of telephone pole #6248″.  I will check that out in the future; most historic cemeteries have a marker.  The N.F. Dixon property could, at one time, have had a southern border of the “road leading to the Pawcatuck Bridge.”  The “Potter Hill Road” location for the cemetery confused me, but perhaps “High Street” had previously been part of Potter Hill Road.

This was my idea after the first clue:

possible area of Lanphere property

possible area of Lanphere property

The second clue: finding landmarks that ARE on the 1870 map, in this case, granite quarries.

There was another cemetery description in Westerly and Its Witnesses that led me to investigate quarries:

AUSTIN GROUND: A few rods northeast from the Lanphear Ground, across the path leading to the quarry on Cormorant Hill  …

OK, now we have a mention of “Cormorant Hill” as the site of a quarry.

The third clue:  I looked for more information on the quarries and found them in the 1870 map.  

One quarry was described as “opened by Mr. Jonathan Lamphear and Mr. Ephraim Lamphear on Cormorant Hill, north of Lamphear Hollow.” While it is not on the map (I believe it may have been opened AFTER 1870), based on the quarry locations preceding this one, it could easily be in the location I mapped, above.

One of the quarries was on “Vincent Hill” – there is a good chance this was named for the neighbor mentioned in the deeds, Dr. Vincent (Dr. Vincent had come from New York, and was likely the first Vincent in Westerly).  The location of Vincent Hill (that quarry WAS on the map) is near one of the “N.L. Dixon” spots marked on the map. Knowing Dr. Vincent was to the west of Daniel Lanphere, and the road was to the south, I can now narrow down the property location.

In Conclusion

I now feel fairly confident that Daniel Lanphere’s property was here:

My best estimate of Daniel Lanphere's property, at this point.

My best estimate of Daniel Lanphere’s property, at this point.

My husband will be surprised when he sees this map.  When I met him, he was living a block away from there.

I would like to find evidence of Cormorant Hill, and Lamphear Hollow, to clarify this further.  The only clue that is NOT matching is that Potter Hill Road should be near the cemetery; however “High Street” (sometimes called “Upper High Street”) could have been part of Potter Hill Road at an earlier time.

I have to say good-bye to Lanphere Road.  George Lanphere and two of his sons had original lots in Westerly in 1669: George had #32, Richard Lanphere had #11, and Shadrack Lanphere had #24 (contact me for this citation).  Perhaps Lanphere Road originally belonged to one of those sons.

One New Connection

Westerly and Its Witnesses mentioned that there were about forty ancient unmarked graves in the Clark-Lanphear Cemetery.  It also listed six grave markers that were readable; among them, graves for Capt. Clark Lanphear and wife Wealthy, and second wife Keturah.

Hmm, Clark and Keturah Lanphear?  Why did I recognize those names?  Oh that’s right.  I have their son Reuben’s family bible sitting right beside me on the table.  But that’s a story for another day.

Next Steps

  • Use this valuable Westerly Deed index on USGenWeb to identify Westerly deeds I would like to see.
  • Check out other Westerly maps by consulting a librarian at the Westerly Public Library.
  • Look for more information about the original lots, and settler George Lanphere’s lot #32, and what happened to that.
  • Pursue the hunt for “Lanphear Hollow” and “Cormorant Hill.”
  • If necessary, use further resources about the Westerly granite industry to pin down the location of the Lanphere quarry.
  • Finish the blog post about the Lanphear family bible.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2013/02/17/on-lanphere-road/

Dixon House, Westerly, from Leading Businessmen of Westerly, Stonington, and Vicinity. Boston: Mercantile Publishing Co., 1889.

Dixon House, Westerly, from Leading Businessmen of Westerly, Stonington, and Vicinity. Boston: Mercantile Publishing Co., 1889.

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By Their Deeds

This is the story of how Westerly, Rhode Island Land Evidences helped me solve the puzzling problem of Daniel Lanphere.

One of my research goals at the Family History Library a few weeks ago was to seek information about Daniel Lanphere of Westerly, Rhode Island, the father of my gggg-grandfather Russell Lamphere.  I am related to him in the following way: my grandmother Edna Darling -> Russell Darling ->Emma Lamphere ->Russell Lamphere ->Russell Lamphere ->Daniel Lamphere.

I’ve been doing a literature search for several years. 

There is a source I trust for the first three generations of Westerly Lanpheres: the three New England Historic Genealogical Society articles by Scott Andrew Bartley (citations at bottom of this post).  But the poorly documented fourth and fifth generations, from a variety of sources including books and journals, vital records, census records, and probate, contain several Daniel Lanpheres.  [When not transcribing, I will spell the name Lanphere in the rest of this story.]

Probate and Vital Records were not solving it.

Probate records first came to my attention thanks to a mention in the Rhode Island Genealogical Register, vol. 16, Will Index, p. 174.

Daniel’s probate record did not specify his descendants except for his son Russell of Norwich “oldest son in these parts” along with mentions of his wife, Nancy.  That always confused me, because Russell was the oldest son, period, according to the Westerly vital records.  Russell is the oldest of six siblings born to Daniel and Nancy Lanphere, as seen here:

To Mr. Daniel Lanphear and Nancy, his wife, RUSSELL their eldest son born December the 2d AD -- 1776

To Mr. Daniel Lanphear and Nancy, his wife, RUSSELL their eldest son born December the 2d AD — 1776

I travelled to Westerly to view the probate file myself, as mentioned in my previous post on Daniel Lanphere.  That didn’t help.  This is a classic case of a probate record being a little vague and Rhode Island vital records not being complete, complicated by the fact that there are several individuals with the name Daniel Lanphere.

And then I found the deeds.

When I got to the Family History Library and all that microfilm, I started with the Westerly Land Evidence records I was most sure about, that mentioned Daniel and his son Russell (quite recognizable because Russell moved to Norwich/Plainfield Connecticut, and was married to Lydia, things I proved long ago).

Daniel Lanphere mortgaged property to son Russell in 1808:

I Daniel Lamphere of Westerly … in consideration of the sum of two hundred dollars received of Russell Lamphere of Norwich [Connecticut] …have sold conveyed and confirmed … to him the same Russell Lamphere his heirs and assigns forever a certain tract of land situate in Westerly … containing … about sixty acres, the farm by me now improved … bounded as follows, to wit.  On the North by land belonging to David Lamphere, on the East by land belonging to Maxson Lamphere and land belonging to John Tefft on the South by the highway which heads from Pawcatuck bridge on the west by land belonging to Nicholas Vincent of New York.  To have and to hold the above granted … premises with the buildings thereon standing and all the appurtenances thereunto belonging … Provided nevertheless … I the said Daniel Lamphere well and truly pay the aforesaid sum … then this deed to be null and void …  In witness whereof … fourth day of July 1808, in presence of Nathan F. Dixon, William Lamphere.                    — Daniel Lamphere        – Westerly Land Evidences, v. 13, p. 361, entered July 5th, 1808

The index at the front of volume 13 makes it clear that Russell gave the mortgage to his father

The index at the front of volume 13 makes it clear that Russell gave the mortgage to his father

Daniel died a few months after the mortgage was granted.  Russell became the Administrator of the estate.

… I Russell Lanphere Administrator on the estate of Daniel Lanphere late of Westerly … by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Supreme Judicial Court of the said State at their April term for said county of Washington AD 1810 and pursuant to the direction of the court of probate of said Town of Westerly, and for and in consideration of the sum of ninety dollars to me in hand … well and truly paid by Nathan F. Dixon of said Westerly … the highest bidder at public auction for the estate hereby conveyed holden on the 23rd day of August AD 1810 … have sold …  which the said Daniel Lanphere at the time of his decease … a certain piece or lot of land bounded as follows … thence east to [empty space] Tiffts Land … containing nine acres.    In witness whereof —  Priscilla Dixon, Joseph Eaton — Windham County [Connecticut], Plainfield, Joseph Eaton, Justice of the Peace, Windham County               – Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 220, entered Nov 14 1814 Jesse Maxson, Town Clerk

So I have clearly identified my gggg-grandfather Russell’s link to this exact Daniel. 

So now I know the neighbors in this era are Maxson Lanphere, David Lanphere, John Tefft, and Nicholas Vincent.  There is other evidence to suggest, but not prove, that John Tefft is Daniel’s father-in-law.

The next deed showed that Russell sold the property (except for the portion his mother Nancy had by widow’s rights) to Nathan F. Dixon. 

… I Russell Lanpher of Plainfield in the County of Windham in the State of Connecticut  yeoman for and in consideration of four hundred and ten dollars received … of Nathan F. Dixon Esq of Westerly … a certain [piece or parcel of land situate in said Westerly containing by estimation about sixty acres … bounded northerly on David Lanphere’s land.  Easterly on land of Maxson Lanphere and [empty space] Tifft southerly by the highway and westerly by land owned by Sally and Phoebe Carr.  And I covenant … that I am well seized of such Estate under a deed of mortgage dated the fourth day of July [1808] … executed … by Daniel Lanphere late of Westerly deceased… which mortgage was executed to me as collateral security of a certain note of hand the same day executed by said Daniel Lanphere to me for the sum of two hundred dollars with interest annually payable in one year from the date thereof which mortgage deed I do hereby assign to the said Dixon …  I Russell Lanphere … do covenant … I am well seized and possessed of six undivided thirteenths of said estate by deed thereof subject only to my mother Nancy Lanphere‘s dower… and I Lydia Lanphere wife of said Russell Lanphere do release … all right of dower and power of thirds … this 30th day of December [no year given] …      Russell Lanphere and Lydia Lanphere her mark  In presence of Priscilla Dixon, Jeremiah Thinsman  Windham County, Plainfield, Joseph Eaton, Justice of the Peace, County of Windham …            – Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 221, entered Nov 16 1814 Jesse Maxson, Town Clerk

Russell and Lydia's signatures on the sale

Russell and Lydia’s signatures on the sale

Here is where I got a little confused.  Russell owned SIX UNDIVIDED THIRTEENTHS of the property?  Why would the property be split thirteen ways?  There were six children.

The next entry was very startling.

… Whereas I Joseph Crumb of Grafton in the County of Windham in the State of Vermont by virtue of five several powers of attorney to me executed by

  • one George Lamphere of Royalton [Vermont]… dated … the eighteenth day of December [1810] …
  • one executed by John Clarke and Marcy his wife of Lydon in the county of  Hampshire, State of Massachusetts [June 18th 1811] …
  • one executed by Jesse Lanphere of Plainfield in the County of Grafton in the State of New Hamshire [30 May 1811] …
  • one executed by Eliphalet Davis and Eunice his wife of Royalton [Windham, Vermont] [18 Dec 1810] …
  • one executed by Nimrod Lamphere and Roda his wife of Petersburgh in the County of Renssliere and State of New York [6 March 1811]

being authorized to sell their right in an undivided tract of land situate in Westerly … which they inherited from Daniel Lanphere late of Westerly deceased the said George Lanpher, Marcy Clarke, Jesse Lanphiere, Eunice Davis and Roda Lamphier being five of the children and heirs at law of Daniel Lanphiere deceased. … in consideration of one hundred dollars received from Russell Lanpher … give … all the rights of interest they have … in an undivided tract or parcel of land by estimation fifty-one acres … bounded as follows on the North by land belonging to David Lanphere, on the East by land belonging to Maxson Lanphere … land belonging to John Tifft … land belonging to the Grantee on the South of the highway which leads from the Pawcatuck Bridge on the West to land lately owned by Nicholas Vincent … free of all incumbrances except a mortgage deed executed to the said Russell Lanphere … and the widows right of dower … I set my hand [20 June 1811]  — Joseph Crumb  In presence of Nathan F Dixon, Isaac Champlin  .. and whereas the said Joseph Crumb having intermarried with Prudence Lanphere daughter and one of the heirs at law of Daniel deceased … sold to Russell her share of the estate … agrees he will … deliver her deed thereof …             – Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 222, entered Nov 17 1814 Jesse Maxson, Clerk

So the deed, above, lays out six more children of the same Daniel Lanphere. 

They are: George, Marcy, Jesse, Eunice, and Roda, as well as Prudence (married to Joseph Crumb).  The first five sold their portion of their father’s estate to Russell Lanphere for $20 each.

But I’ve never heard of any of them.  I spent the afternoon wandering through the “Daniel” section of my Lanphere research binder, and my digital records of Lanphere books and documents.

There was another Daniel Lanphere of Westerly, married to Eunice, with the following family, pictured below as they appear in Arnold’s Vital Records of Rhode Island, volume 5, page 111:

Daniel and Eunice Lanphere

Daniel and Eunice Lanphere

I knew my Daniel was married to a Nancy, so I had always assumed THIS Daniel was not my ancestor.  But the children’s names match, except for the name “Marcy.”  Several of the named spouses match Westerly vital records. 

So Daniel had TWO families, one 1759-1772 and the other 1776 – 1808.  To my knowledge, no one has identified these two as being the same person, with wife (1) Eunice and wife (2) Nancy. 

In this next record, widow Nancy gets her “thirds”:

… Whereas Daniel Lanpher late of Westerly deceased died seized of a certain small farm or tract of land situate in Westerly … Nancy Lanpher … was the wife of Daniel … entitled to one third part of said farm … whereas it is agreed by the widow and the sd Dixon together with William Lanphere another of the heirs at law to submit the assignment of said dower …  to set out and assign to the widow her dower or third part of the estate …  — Nancy Lanpher her mark, Nathan F. Dixon, Wm Lanpher … set off to the said Nancy the whole of the west part of the dwelling house wherein she now lives …  the North Pasture so called, bounded … the fence or wall … to the head of the Lane leading to the house … a small garden to the southward of the Crib containing about a rod of ground … to be used in a prudent manner …  Witness Wm Rhoades, Joseph Pendleton        — Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 223, entered Nov 17 1814 Jesse Maxson, Clerk

Another daughter, Nancy (daughter of Nancy; married to George Crocker) appears to sell her share to widow Nancy:

… We George Crocker and Nancy Crocker wife of the said George in Waterford in the County of New London in the state of Connecticut … for … the sum of twenty dollars … paid by Nancy Lanphere widow and relict late of Westerly …  a parcel of land with a dwelling house and barn thereon standing … containing forty nine acres … the late homestead farm which … the late Daniel Lanphere died seized and possessed which we hold be virtue of the said Nancy Crocker being a lineal descendant and lawful heir to the said Daniel Lanphere deceased. –Nancy Crocker, George Crocker In presence of David G Otis, George Williams August 25th 1815     — Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 259, entered September 8 1815 Jesse Maxson, Clerk

And then the heirs I knew about, the other children of Daniel and Nancy, sell their shares to Nathan Dixon:

… We William Lanphere, Triphenia Lanphere, Daniel Lanphere and Milly Lanphere all of Westerly … children and heirs at law of Daniel Lanphere late of said Westerly deceased for the consideration of twenty dollars received by each of us of Nathan Dixon of Westerly … quit claim … to said Nathan Dixon  … our respective shares in the Real Estate of which our said father Daniel Lanphere died seized of … being a tract of land where the said deceased last dwelt containing about sixty acres … bounded as follows … land belonging to David Lanphere … land belonging to Maxson Lanphere … land belonging to John Tefft … the highway which leads from the Pawcatuck Bridge … land now owned by the Miss Carrs formerly owned by Doct. Vincent.  … premises with the buildings thereon … we are each of us seized of the undivided thirteenth part of said tract of land …   – William Lanpher, Triphina Lanphear her mark, Daniel Lanphear, Permily Lanphear … In presence of Thomas Noyes 2d, Joseph Pendleton, Enoch Lanphear … April 14 & 18, 1815       — Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 310, entered September 20 1815 Jesse Maxson, Clerk

In 1817, widow Nancy appears to sell a great deal of her property to Nathan Dixon, with a kind of reverse mortgage arrangement:

… I Nancy Lanphere widow of Daniel Lanphere … in consideration of the sum of twenty five dollars to be paid by Nathan F. Dixon … each and every year … annually … during the period of my natural life … all the right … which I have in the estate … (except the part of the dwelling house where I now live …) I do release to the sd Dixon … Nancy Lanphere her cross  — In presence of Ichabod Taylor, Priscilla Dixson … April the 25 AD1817     — Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 349, entered May 10 1817 Jesse Maxson, Clerk

The Daniel who married Eunice (Wise?), often called Daniel, Jr, is usually purported to be the son of Daniel (and Catherine Prosser), descended from John2 and George1. 

The property itself certainly seems to back up this theory, I see signs from various other deeds that I copied that it descended directly from George to John to Daniel to Daniel. Several of the neighbors are also descendants of John2.   My husband, who is a Westerly native, plans to help me find the locations mentioned and pinpoint this land.  And further Westerly records, and old maps, will probably clarify these relationships.

In Summary

I am thrilled to have made a previously unknown connection in the Lamphere line.  If this had been in the probate records, I would have found it long ago.  It was the deeds that showed me the story.

Next Steps:

  • Each of Daniel’s families seems to have a son, Daniel.  I have no evidence that the first Daniel died before the second was born, so I should look for that.
  • I have no evidence of the first wife’s death.  There is no vital record for that, but I might be able to find a burial record for her.
  • Likewise I have no record of either marriage in the vital records (other than the sets of children) but I will continue to pursue that
  • The first wife may be Eunice Wise but I do not know the real source of that information.
  • Explore the neighbor, John Tefft, who may be the widow Nancy’s father (or, perhaps, a brother)
  • Prove the parents of Daniel.


All land records are from Westerly Land Evidences, volumes 9 – 14.  The list of FHL microfilms containing these records can be found here.

Westerly vital records are transcribed in James Arnold’s Vital Records of Rhode Island 1636-1850, which can all be found here – Westerly is in the second half of volume 5.

The NEHGS articles, available to members on the NEHGS website, http://www.americanancestors.org:

  • Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants.”  New England Historic Genealogical Register 153 (April 1999): 131-140.
  • Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants, Part 2.”  New England Historic Genealogical Register 159 (October 2005): 333-340.
  • Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants, Part 3.”  New England Historic Genealogical Register 160 (January 2006): 47-59.

Robinson, Vera M., transcribed by.  “The 1774 Census of Rhode Island: Charlestown and Westerly.” Rhode Island Roots 29 (December 2003): p. 197.

Two sources commonly accessed by Lanphere researchers, should be used with caution:

  • The Lanphere Family Research Aid by Shirley (McElroy) Bucknum.  The Genealogical Society of Portland, Oregon, 1979.  Re-reading her introduction just now, I see that she states there is no copyright on the book, so that it can be shared.  I will try to take better pictures of the booklet in the future and put it online.  For now, it is available in many genealogy libraries.
  • The Lanphere and Related Families Genealogy by Edward Everett Lanphere.  Typewritten manuscript, 1970.  This is present in many genealogical library collections, but is also available at this link for subscribers to Ancestry.com.  The main section, starting on page 1, is called “The Lanphere Line”.  Googling that term may produce other online copies.

The post you are reading is located at:  http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2013/01/19/by-their-deeds/


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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


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.


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.

The post you are reading is located at: http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2013/01/09/a-visit-to-the-family-history-library/

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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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