Archive for the ‘Lamphere’ Category

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.

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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.

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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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Recently, on a trip to the Providence Public Library, I found obituaries for Russell and Hannah Lamphere from the Providence Journal.  I was surprised to see that they were buried in their home town of Norwich, Connecticut.  Later, online, I found a list of all those buried in cemeteries that (now) belong to the town of Norwich.  The 976 page pdf of the list (available as a link here) contained Russell and Hannah’s names, and pointed to Section 6, Plot 9 at the Yantic Cemetery, Norwich.

At the Cemetery

This is taken from the cemetery map at the entrance to Yantic Cemetery:

Section 6, Lot 9

The plot has several markers visible, and most likely more burials in the rest of the space.

The area of Plot 9

I have now been there twice.  There are two small markers which may or may not designate where Russell and Hannah are buried; one has initials, the other is more worn.

One of the small markers may have the initials “L R”

The rounded marker in the back is for James D. Lamphere who I believe is Russell’s brother.

James D. Lanphere

“In memory of my husband, James D. Lanphere, born Oct. 14, 1829, died January 27, 1887.  Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.”  James left a widow, Mary, and a stepdaughter.

The first (tilted) marker up front is for Russell’s sister Lydia (Lamphere) Palmer, who died fairly young.

Lydia Lamphere Palmer

“Lydia, wife of Henry Palmer, died in Greenville, Nov. 19 1852, aged 45.  —   Mother.”

This brings us to the fifth marker.  It’s a mystery, but since Russell’s wife and mother are still among my mystery women, any information is useful.

The photography lesson

The first time I saw the marker, I took pictures that I couldn’t decipher.

hard to read my first set of pictures

I consulted genealogy friends on Facebook.  Turns out this is a controversial topic, and I got lots of conflicting advice.  When I went today, two of the suggestions worked great.

  • Wet the marker (I had a bottle of water in the car leftover from a recent trip)
  • Photograph in bright sunlight (the sun was going in and out of the clouds, so I waited for it to be right)

This was the result:

Margaret (Gaslin) Bassett

“Margaret Gaslin  widow of Barnabas Bassett  DIED  March 7, 1854 aged 76”

The difference is incredible. Both in person and in photographs, it became much easier to read.

So that was a lot of work just to figure out that the marker belonged to the next plot (#10), the Bassett plot. Which leads me to believe the other tiny, unmarked gravestone may belong to the Bassetts.  Leaving just 3 markers in the Lamphere plot.

Although there are no additional markers, the master list also included in that plot Harry H. Hill and Frank A. Hill.  Those are not names I recognize.

Original Cemetery Records

I also stopped at the Norwich Town Hall to look, once again, for a death record for Russell Lamphere’s mother, Lydia Miner, in 1849 (the death record I have is from The Norwich Aurora).  I didn’t find one.

But I did notice, among some miscellaneous volumes in the records room, an original sales/burial book from Yantic Cemetery detailing some later-sold sections with numbers in the mid-100’s.  My section was 6.  I looked everywhere, and asked if there were earlier volumes, but the clerk could not find any.

What’s Next

  • I will investigate the Hills a little more thoroughly, but there’s always the possibility they were sold spots in the plot but are not related to my family.
  • The original Yantic Cemetery sales records may be somewhere, like a local historical society.  I’ll keep looking.
  • The map says “R and W Lamphere” but I can’t account for a “W Lamphere”.
  • I do not know where Russell’s parents, Russell and Lydia, are buried.  Need to keep exploring that.
  • As I somehow expected, Russell’s loyal associate, Congressman John Turner Waite, who submitted a War Reparations bill for Russell three times in the 1880’s, is also buried in Yantic Cemetery.  I am thinking of approaching the New London Historical Society for more information about him.

John Turner Wait

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It’s been a busy week – I’ve visited four sites in three days.

Westerly, Rhode Island Town Hall

The question:  I am looking for property deeds or other information for Daniel Lanphere, who died in Westerly in 1808.

Westerly Town Hall

Daniel Lamphere is the father of my gggg-grandfather, Russell Lamphere, Sr.  I am seeking more clues about Daniel Lamphere’s parents.  I have Daniel’s 1808 probate records, which don’t help on that point, so I thought I would try to see where his property came from.

I was unable to find all the records I wanted, and time ran out, so I think I will just re-group and re-analyze everything I do have.  One highlight of the day was finding Russell Sr’s original birth record – I’ve only seen transcriptions.

Russell their Eldest Son born December the 2nd AD 1776.

The siblings are:  Russell Lanphere 1776, Marcy Lanphere 1782, William Lanphere 1785, Nancy Lanphere 1787, Triphena Lanphere 1789, and Daniel Lanphere 1793 (?).

I was thrilled to find this because there is quite a gap between Russell and his next sibling, Marcy, and I always wondered if it had been correctly transcribed.  I have never found a marriage record for the parents, Daniel and Nancy.  Her name is sometimes mentioned as Tefft.  The old Tefft genealogy seems to support this theory, but the years don’t quite work out.  So, any documentation I can get is good.

Coincidentally, I ran into some Tefft researchers at the town hall.  While they couldn’t help exactly, it sure was fun meeting them.  And they said something nice about people who write blogs!  What a good day.

Seeing this list makes me realize that I don’t know too much about most of these siblings; I have found them to be hard to trace.  I think it would be worthwhile to try some more.

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My search for the story of my ggg-grandfather Russell Lamphere’s 20-year stay in Alabama before, during, and after the Civil War has had two recent developments.

1. Russell Lamphere files a claim for Civil War losses

John Turner Wait

Congressman John Turner Wait (Norwich, Connecticut) filed H.R.5889 on April 19, 1880 for War Claims relief for Russell Lamphere.  This past winter I was able to view the bill on microfilm at the Boston Public Library.

Have you ever sat at a microfilm machine in a quiet library and shouted “WHAT!!”  Well that’s the embarrassing thing that happened (and luckily no worse) when I saw the amount  of the claim – $50,000, in 1880.  I’m quite sure that no funds were ever received.  But it made me curious about three things:

H.R.5889 A Bill for the Relief of Russell Lamphere

  • What was the business Russell owned?  I later learned, through microfilm, that around 1859-1860, he owned a tin and metalworking shop.  Was that it?
  • On what was this huge claim based?  Thanks to the efforts of a “research buddy”, I learned that the National Archives does not have any details of this bill, other than the bill itself.  Whatever documentation had existed is not there.  I have not completely given up finding information somewhere else.  I’ve really only begin to look.
  • What was Russell’s relationship to Congressman Wait?  I suspect Congressman Wait was related to Russell or possibly Hannah.  At the time the bill was filed (and refiled two more times) Russell lived in Providence, Rhode Island, not in Wait’s district at all.

Russell’s exact ancestry in the Lamphere line is something I have not settled yet, and Hannah’s ancestry is uncertain, so all clues are welcome.  There is one here — Congressman John Turner Wait shares a name with one of the five associates mentioned in Russell’s grandfather – (Daniel Lamphere’s) will – Wait Clarke. Clues like that may mean nothing.  But they’re kind of fun.

And one last issue confuses me – I think that those who filed claims for war reparations needed to be loyal northerners whose property was confiscated or destroyed by the northern army during the war.  I’m really not so sure that applies to Russell, since I’ve seen his name on a local militia sign-up.  Was he just lying?  Until and unless I find the backup of that bill, I’ll never know.

2. I find a link to a cotton mill

Tin shop aside, I’ve always wondered how Russell’s skills as a cotton mill overseer (noted in 1843 birth record for daughter and 1880 census) were used during his stay in Alabama. I suspect he may have used his metal-crafting skills to maintain machinery in mills.  I’ve never been able to connect him to a cotton mill in Alabama.  At last, I found something, but it’s pretty strange.  Is there any part of this story that’s not unexpected?

Last night I saw that there were some new Alabama vital records added to familysearch.org.  Although I have almost no official Alabama records, I always check, so I looked up Lamphere (and many other spellings).  I was surprised when something came up:

“Alabama, County Marriages, 1809-1950,”  William Lanphere, 1859

William Lanphere marriage

William Lamphere is Russell and Hannah Lamphere’s oldest son, born in Connecticut.  Apparently he married Bridget A. Hearn or Bridget O’Hearn – I’m not sure – on January 7, 1859.  I don’t think the $200 “bond” was anything but a formality; it’s on every record.  Note that the record is from Mobile County – far to the south of Tuscaloosa.

What I found on the back of the record was the surprising part:

William Lanphere marriage-page 2

The location of the wedding was the “Dog River Factory”.  Now I’ve had a lot of non-church weddings in my ancestor’s files, in fact, mostly non-church weddings.  But in a factory?  with the inelegant name of Dog River?

I thought about this for a while and realized that in the mid 1800’s many factories were surrounded by factory housing, thereby becoming villages, so I tried to find out about this Dog River Factory area.

I found two sources:

  • a master’s thesis on antebellum cotton manufacturing (Miller, Randall M. The Cotton Mill Movement in Antebellum Alabama. New York: Arno Pr, 1978. Print. Preview available on Google Books)
  • a report of an 1853 outbreak of yellow fever in the village (1853 YELLOW FEVER DEATHS NEAR THE DOG RIVER COTTON FACTORY & ST. STEPHEN’S ROAD. From: Report on the epidemic yellow fever of 1853. New Orleans. Sanitary Commission 1854) Available on the Alabama Pioneers website.

Caring for yellow fever patients, Mississippi, 1870

What I learned was the factory began as a cotton mill around 1849.  To quote from the second (1853, “Yellow Fever”) source:

The Dog River Cotton Factory is situated Southwest of Mobile, about five miles, and has within its inclosure of some twenty or thirty acres, about 300 operatives, including their families. The houses are built in a hollow square, and form a complete village.

From the first (“Cotton Mill” source):

[p. 73]  Two cotton factors, Garland Goode and William Ledyard, joined [Phillip] Phillips as directors and purchased the summer property of James Battle, on 35 acres on Dog River.

[p. 74] During the summer of 1849, the owners laid the cornerstone of Dog River Factory, and by April, 1850 the mill was ready to receive cotton machinery. …  The original factory contained 176 looms on the first floor, 40 cards on the second, and 5040 spindles on the third with additional machinery where necessary.  A motor-driven conveyor system transferred the work from one room to another.

[p. 75] The owners purchased the cotton machinery “of the most improved kind” and in “the very best style” from the Mattewan Works of New York …  By the end of the year 1850, Dog River Factory was in complete operation.  The factory manufactured Osnaburg, sheetings and yarns, which it marketed in Mobile.  The owners usually hired female white labor to run the spindles, although in 1850, most employees were men … The 1850 census reveals that with but two exceptions skilled positions at the Dog River Factory were occupied by natives of the British Isles or the Northern states.”

By 1853 a change in management and a fire (and resulting long wait for replacement machinery from the North) caused a delay in profitability until at least 1857.  More famously, the factory was the scene of a Civil War encampment, and may or may not have been a weapons factory during the war.  But that’s not a part of my story.

Girl working at cotton mill

All of this gives me some idea that the factory might have taken young William (born in 1840) on as a factory hand, although the factory seems so remote from his home in Tuscaloosa. Did they have a connection to it? A more remote possibility is that the wife was from Dog River Factory and they went down there for the wedding. The thing I am quite sure about is that Russell’s family did not live in Mobile during 1859-1860 since I have newspapers that show his residence in Tuscaloosa.

All of this evidence is contradicted by William’s appearance in the 1860 federal census with Russell’s family in Tuscaloosa (with no Bridget).  But there were very few Lampheres (of any spelling) in Alabama at that time, so I have little or no doubt that this William/Russell father and son combo are the right ones.  I wonder if by any chance, Bridget died.

Any actual evidence is extremely valuable to me. Dog River Factory ties the family, once again, to cotton mill work … I wonder what it means?

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I have come to realize over the last few months that three problems:

  • Hannah (Andrews) Lamphere’s parents, Jesse and Sarah Andrews
  • Lydia (Minor) Lamphere’s parents
  • the unknown Lamphere line from which my ggggg-grandfather Daniel Lamphere descends

are not all that separate, and will probably be solved, ultimately, in tandem.

I am descended from them in the following way:

  • my great-grandfather Russell Darling
  • –his mother Emma Luella Lamphere
  • —-her father Russell Lamphere (and mother Hannah Andrews)
  • ——his father Russell Lamphere (and mother Lydia Minor)
  • ——–his father Daniel Lamphere (died 1808)

For a long time I thought that Daniel Lamphere was the son of another Daniel Lamphere of Westerly, R.I.  But I learned I was wrong after reading some wills from Westerly; the elder Daniel did have a son Daniel, but THAT Daniel had a wife named Wealthia, who signed a receipt.  My Daniel has a wife named Nancy (possibly Nancy Tefft).

Town Hall and Fire Station, Westerly

Reviewing the literature

I looked over the good sources for Lamphere information (all 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.

Because of my interest in Shadrack Lanphere I consulted this article about his wife, Experience Read’s family:

  • Jane Belcher. “William Reed of Weymouth and Boston Massachusetts, and Some of His Descendants – Continued from volume 40, #1.”  The Connecticut Nutmegger 40 (September 2007): 182-221.

At this point I realized that my most recent theory about descending from Shadrack Lanphere  (Daniel4, Oliver3, Shadrack2, George1), and several other theories,  just didn’t match what was in those articles.

I was wrong, so wrong

So I decided to go back to what I absolutely know and start over from there.

Here are some sections of my ggggg-grandfather Daniel’s probate record:

Westerly, Rhode Island Town Council and Probate.  Vol 6/8 1798-1811, p. 350-352.

At a Court of Probate held in Westerly in the County of Washington at the dwelling house of Nancy Lanphere (widow) Relict of Daniel Lanphere Late of said Westerly deceased. December 23, 1808 Being specially convened for the purpose of appointing an Administration on the Estate of the said Daniel Deceased.  Elias Cottrell, John Cross, and Joseph Stillman present holding said court.

Personally appeared before said Court the aforesaid Nancy Lanphere and declined administration on said deceased’s Estate and requested that her son Russell Lanphere (he being the eldest son of said deceased in these parts) might have the Administration of said Estate.  Which request being duly considered by said court is granted and the said Russell is thereupon appointed.  His complying with the law bonds given in Court.  The Court doth appoint John Cross, Maxson Lanphere, and Wait Clarke to appraise the Personal Estate of said Deceased and make an inventory thereof.  The said Maxson Lanphere and Wait Clarke personally appeared before sd. Court and Engaged.

Witness Jesse Maxson Jr. P. Clerk.

To All Persons to whom these Presents Shall come Greeting.

We the Court of Probate for the Town of Westerly in the County and State aforesaid.  By virtue of the power by law Vested in us do hereby give, grant and empower Russell Lanphere late of Westerly, but now residing in Norwich in the County of New London, State of Connecticut, Administrator, to Administer on all and singular the Goods, Chattels rights & credits of Daniel Lanphere late of said  Westerly deceased.  …

The estate totaled $153.83.

So I am curious about the people mentioned in the probate record.  Some of them may be acting in an official capacity, but are the others close connections?  I spent the day learning more about them.  Westerly was a fairly small town, and their names are well known.  Of all of them, I found direct connections to two:

  • Maxson Lanphere – he descends in the Lanphere line this way:  (Maxson4, Nathan3, John2, George1).  His wife was Anna Champlin.
  • Wait Clarke – his wife was Abigail Lanphere (Abigail5, Nathan4, Nathan3, John2, George1).   Abigail’s mother was Sarah Saunders.  A lifelong Seventh Day Baptist, Wait died in Niles, New York.

Old Westerly Seventh Day Baptist church, built circa 1680

There’s a book about this

Amazingly, after figuring this out, I managed to find a reminiscence about this branch of the family in the following book:  Scenes, Memories and Travels of 82 Years, and Short Sketches of the Lanphear and Potter Families by Ethan Lanphear, published by the author (c1900). The author was among the many Lanphere branches that headed to New York State in the 1800’s.  The Lanphear chapter begins on page 369.

This is how the book begins:

I WAS born in Westerly, R. I., March 2, 1818. My parents were Samuel and Hannah Lanphear. We moved with an ox team and sheet-covered wagon from Potters Hill, R. I., to Alfred, Allegany Co., N. Y. The country was mostly wilderness after crossing the Hudson River at Albany until we reached the end of our journey, five hundred miles. My parents then had three children, all boys, myself the youngest. My mother’s sister and her husband, Amos Crandall, took passage with us, the goods of both families being on the same wagon. We worked our way through the wilderness to Alfred in about eighteen or twenty days, camping out nights, or sleeping in the wagon, when we could not find logs huts to cover our heads. Then there was not a frame building in that town. The earliest settlers nearly all lived in logs huts or shanties. It was a wild country, and the settlers had to meet hard fare, barely living on wild game and wild fruit.

Ethan descends this way: (Ethan5, Samuel4, Nathan3, John2, George1).

Ethan Lanphear and his present wife – from the book, c1900

So what do we know?

Obviously, I don’t know what this means yet.  But the fact that a certain branch of the family gathered round for Daniel Lanphere’s inventory seems very significant to me.  Next steps:

  1. Use every means possible to learn about the descendants of  John2 Lanphear.
  2. Learn more about the ancestry of Wait Clarke.  It’s a story for another day, but I believe we have a later connection with the Wait family.

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A story of race and family

When you grow up in New England you don’t hear much about slavery. Despite many Rhode Island “shipping” fortunes based in the slave trade, slavery seemed to be from a remote time and place. Rhode Islanders, more than most, had reasons to want to put those days behind them.   My mother’s Rhode Island roots are distant from the seafaring communities, so I don’t suppose we had much of a role in the slave trade.  Occasionally, around 1700, one sees a slave or two in their farming homesteads, but no more than that.

Or so I thought.  I think for one part of my Rhode Island family, slavery was very real.  One of the only things I knew about my great great grandmother, Emma Lamphere Darling, was that she was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She reportedly said, concerning her family’s move up to Rhode Island in her late teens, that her father had lost his business in the Civil War, and besides, a “white woman” wasn’t safe down there.

Emma Lamphere Darling, 1857-1927

I guess you would have to know my family to understand how strange this seems to me.  My parents deliberately rejected the racial prejudice they may have observed in childhood and set out, in the 1960’s, to make the world a more equitable and loving place.  They were involved in local civil rights efforts, and were adherents to the philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King.  Those are stories for another day, but my parents built a family that now contains grandchildren of all colors.  Two of those are my beautiful daughters, so my sympathies are closely aligned with my daughters’ interests, and their ancestors who were, undoubtedly, slaves.

But I think part of studying family history is uncovering everything, whether it’s flattering, happy, attractive, reasonable, or none of those things.  If you learn with great interest about the experiences of a Revolutionary War ancestor, wouldn’t you want to know about an ancestor who lived through an equally turbulent and polarizing time in American history?

The only artifact I have of Emma Lamphere is her picture, taken before the removal up north, and another picture which I believe to be her as a middle-aged woman.  No notes, letters, diaries, or possessions.  The usual records a genealogist might use reveal only glimpses of her, and may be the work of others: sadness about her mother’s death in 1878, and listing her oldest son as a resident of her household in Providence in 1910 even though he was living with his wife and two babies 10 blocks away.

possibly Emma, around 1903

I set out months ago to learn more about Emma’s father, Russell Lamphere.  I purchased some microfilm newspapers from the Alabama State Archives.  I did, indeed, learn more about Russell’s business; he had a tin shop.  What I also found were indirect clues to Emma’s life story.  No history class ever really prepared me for the atmosphere that was reflected in The Tuscaloosa Observer.

The roll I purchased commenced in 1860.  Stories of the day were detailed at length: the presidential election, John Brown’s trial, and the need for the South to become more self-sufficient (such as “Southern Insurance”, or boys withdrawing from northern colleges).  But every single page was also filled with strident and outraged defenses of slavery.  And not infrequently, the buying and selling of slaves was clearly illustrated.

From the Independent Monitor, January 14, 1860, vol. 23, no. 39. p.1:

FLOGGED AND ORDERED TO LEAVE – The Lexington (Miss.) Advertiser of Friday last has the following:

We understand that a man by the name of Miller was unceremoniously stripped, flogged and ordered to leave the neighborhood, by several citizens of Tobula on one day during last week.  Although Miller claimed to hail from Perry county, Ala., still his conduct and intimacy with the negroes in the neighborhood, created the belief that he was a secret abolition emissary. We learn that he passed through this place a few days ago.  He alluded, we understand, to the whipping he received, in good humor, although he complained that the strap with which he was whipped “hurt awfully”.

From the Independent Monitor, January 21, 1860, vol. 23, no. 40. p.2:

MORE AFRICANS COMING. – The Sea Coast (Miss.) Democrat learns from good authority that a cargo of African slaves is expected in Ship Island Harbor the latter past of the present month.  They will be landed without secrecy, the consignees trusting to the predominant sentiment of Mississippi for an acquittal, in the event of a government prosecution.

From the Independent Monitor, April 5, 1861, vol. 24, no. 52. p.3:

ADMINISTRATOR’ SALE    By virtue of the order of the court of probate, of Tuscaloosa County, the undersigned Administrator of the Estate of William L. Bealle, deceased, will sell at PUBLIC SALE, at the Plantation lately occupied by said decedent, in said county, on the 17th day of December next, the following slaves, belonging to said estate, viz: Marin, Mary, Harriet, Mipta, Ellen, Henry Fox, Henry Cody, Moses, Jake, George, Dub, Tom, Alfred, Orry, Mary Ann, Sophia, Francis, Evaline, Edmund, Tol, Ad, Richmond, Steph, Martha and her child Tiny; together with other personal property belonging to said estate, to wit: Horses, Mules, Oxen, Cattle and Hogs, and one Carriage, one Hack, Wagons and Farming Utensils.

TERMS OF SALE:  Notes with two approved securities, payable first of March, 186(?), with interest from the day of sale.

Charles S. Bealle, Administrator

“The slave sale is indefinitely postponed”

As 1860 turned to 1861 the war went from a skirmish to a drawn out  battle.  The paper suggested that any young man who had not enlisted be derisively “bonneted” by the local women.  Jeers at the north filled much of the paper.  I realize now that my ggg-grandfather Russell Lamphere could never have remained loyal to his Connecticut roots in that atmosphere.  I have a record of an “R. Lamphere” enlisting in a  regiment at the Tuscaloosa City hall on April 25, 1860 in response to a call from the Alabama legislature … I suppose that was him.

As for Emma, she was born in 1857 so the Civil War and the slaves being freed were among her earliest memories.  I can only imagine the talk she grew up with, of hating the north, resenting the growing destruction and poverty all around her, and fearing these people who suddenly had gained the rights of human beings. Given what I read in the paper, an impressionable young girl could easily be convinced of the righteousness of the south’s cause.  How much she must have resented her pragmatic father for turning about and returning to New England!

Emma grew up in an atmosphere of hate and oppression, and war.  The defense of slavery is soul-crushing for all parties, and it’s something that she lived with.  She was probably insecure about her northern roots, and once up north, lonely for her southern roots.  All in all I suspect Emma’s happiness was a casualty of that war.  In the end she died too young, leaving children and grandchildren to mourn her.  But somehow I know that the fact that her descendants stepped far beyond racism to a more loving, peaceful place is something that she would not resent.  I suspect her life was hard enough that she would not wish it on anybody.  So Emma, we are not living your life.  But we are living your legacy.

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