Archive for the ‘Miner’ Category

In part one I reviewed the few records I had of Lydia Minor’s life.  But there is so much more to know.  My research question is:

Who were the parents of Lydia Miner, who married Russell Lamphear in 1807 in Preston, Connecticut?

Last time, several people mentioned to me that surely deeds and probate would solve this.  Trust me, if deeds and probate of any person connected to this, whatsoever, would have solved this, I would have found it long ago.  I have even gone through decades of Minor/Miner probates in the surrounding counties, looking for candidates to be Lydia’s father.

Sadly, this is where southern New England’s 19th century history begins to interfere with our genealogy research.  Lydia’s husband had very few deeds because he moved to the early factories and worked all his life for others, usually renting, and only occasionally owning a piece of a property; certainly he had no early deeds related to Lydia’s connections.  And I suspect Lydia’s father did not leave a farm to pass down, thereby limiting the need for probate for him, whoever he was.  Sometimes, problems around 1725-1750 can actually be easier.

Lydia’s birth

To begin at the beginning, Lydia was born.  This occurred in approximately 1786, based on her death record.  Since Lydia married, in 1807, Russell Lamphere, originally of Westerly, R.I. (and at the time of the marriage, reportedly a resident of Norwich, Conn.)[4], Lydia may reasonably have been born in either Rhode Island or Connecticut, since I have no idea at what point she met him. Since much more is known of Russell’s life, we’ll review that next time in an effort to determine the possible meeting place of the couple.

There are several possible sources of information on Lydia’s birthplace:

  1. The newspaper listing for the marriage (see part one) mentioned that it took place in Preston, Connecticut.  To pursue this clue, deed, probate, census and vital records from Preston must be examined.
  2. Although she was never in an 1850 or later census, Lydia’s known children were enumerated many times in the federal census and gave a birthplace for her.
  3. Death records for any of Lydia’s known children might give a birthplace for her.
  4. Combining the clue (from part one) that Lydia and her husband were Methodists, explore any Methodist churches in Preston (although clearly she did not necessarily grow up Methodist).
  5. Look for surviving Methodist church records from Norwich Falls to see if Lydia transferred from another location.
  6. Look for Minors in Westerly where Lydia’s husband grew up
  7. Look for leads in the book Thomas Minor Descendants, 1608-1981 by John A Miner (Trevett, Maine, 1981)

(1) Preston, Connecticut records

Maps – To review the state of records for Preston, Connecticut, I first examined the map.  I also pulled out some New London County history books.

map New London County

Part of New London County, Connecticut, bordering Rhode Island, showing Norwich and nearby Preston/Griswold; also Westerly, R.I. and Stonington, Conn.

And right away, as I reviewed the history of New London county towns, I realized something.  Griswold, Connecticut was not set off from the town of Preston until 1815.  Therefore in 1807, when Lydia married, the area of both Griswold and Preston would have been referred to as Preston. This is especially interesting because Griswold borders the Windham County town of Plainfield, something that will figure in this story when I talk about Lydia’s husband.

Southwestern Preston also extended slightly further west in 1807 with a strip a land that was re-incorporated back into Norwich in 1901.[5]  In a way, that makes Preston barely distinguished from Norwich, and makes me think Russell and Lydia could have been close neighbors, perhaps working in the same Norwich cotton mill.

Census – The 1790 census does not distinguish between the various towns of New London County.  Looking at the 1800 census for Preston, only one Minor:

  • 1800 – Elisha Miner, Preston, New London, Connecticut
    • males under 10    2
    • males 26-45   1
    • females under 10    2
    • females 26-45    1

No Minors appear in the 1810 Preston census.

Probate from New London County records on Familysearch.org.  These are from various New London County towns; none appear to be from Preston residents.

  • Thomas Miner, late of New London. Court of Probate, District of New London.  Book N (16 Sep 1786 – 11 Aug 1794), p. 178, 190, 191. Inventory filed 13 December 1790 mentions 3 tracts of real estate only. (Not traceable in the Thomas Minor book.[6])
  • Elisha Miner, (presumably of East Lyme where he and his wife Ruth Robbins are buried – Thomas Miner book p.69), Court of Probate, District of New London.  Book N (16 Sep 1786 – 11 Aug 1794): 32, 233, 239. Page 232 with most of the will is missing; will mentions sons Elisha & William.  Inventory, undated, approx. June 1792.
  • Daniel Miner, late of Lyme.  (Rev., born Norwich, of “Separates” church. Son of Abigail Turner, m. Amy Smith – Thomas Miner book p. 65).  Court of Probate, District of New London.  Book unlabeled (January 1799-1801): 201, 207.  Will presented Oct 1799. Mentions numerous adult children. No Lydia.
  • Elias Miner, late of Lyme.  Court of Probate, District of New London.  Book unlabeled (January 1799-1801): 321-323, 407, 417, 441-444.   Inventory dated Jun 24 1800.  Quite substantial. Heirs: Widow Sarah, sons Benjamin, Selden, daughters Esther, Sara, Lydia, son Isaac.  Parcels of land assigned to heirs 10 Apr 1801 (married second wife Sarah Ely in August, 1786. Lydia b 1791 married Eliphalet Gillette, she died 1880 — Thomas Miner book, p. 118-9. Note – checking deeds would clarify what name Lydia used when she disposed of her plot of land.) 
  • Joseph Miner, late of Lyme.  Court of Probate, District of New London.  Book unlabeled (January 1799-1801): 440.  Inventory filed 25 Apr 1801.  No heirs mentioned.  (Hard to pin down in the Thomas Miner book.) 
  • Don Carlos Miner, late of Lyme, 9 January 1802. Extensive inventory totaling $1258.22.  5:1. (Not in the Thomas Minor book.)
  • Ephraim Miner of New London (wife: Desire Miner).  Will dated 22 Jun 1799 mentions: my granddaughter Abigail Frink, daughter Desi[re?] Frink, son-in-law David Frink. Inventory valued $4630.05. 5:157, 208. (Thomas Minor book p.77 Ephraim was the son of Rufus; m. 21 December 1751 Desire Cheeseborough. Ephraim d. 12 November 1802. Only surviving child Desire who m. David Frink. p. 77.)
  • Sarah Miner of New London, wife of Nathan Miner. Will: estate to be divided equally among her children Martha Coit Gove, Jesse Gove Miner, Mary Miner, Lucretia Miner, Rebecca Miner, and nothing to daughters Elizabeth and Sarah (already given their portions). Inventory dates 3 September 1804. 5:277-278. (Thomas Minor book p. 128, Nathan married Sarah Gove 22 May 1786; children are detailed.)
  • Phebe Miner of Lyme. Will mentions: my husband Thomas Miner, my brother Thomas Mather, nephew John Gill son of Thomas Gill and my sister Mehitable Gill, brother Samuel Mather. Will not complete; ending and date omitted from record. Exhibited in probate court 17 June 1811.   6:507.  (Thomas Minor book, p. 54, mentions that Phebe Mather and Thomas married in 1810 rather late in life, she died within a year after a stillbirth.)  
  • Lydia Miner (sometimes Minard) of Montville.  7:350 will dated 11 January 1815 mentions Lydia Miner daughter of Abiather Miner, widow Mary Bishop, Mrs. Howard wife of Mr Nathan Howard, Mrs. Weeks wife of John Weeks, Betsey Waterhouse; Nathan Steward to be executor.  7:427 receipt signed by Abiathar Minnard, father and guardian of Lydia Minard. (Not found in Thomas Minor book.)
  •  Elisha Miner of Lyme, will dated 24 October 1816 (7:526) mentions daughter Ruth (wife of Ezekiel Huntley of Bozrah), daughter Amy wife of Roderick Gardner of Bozrah, daughter Betsey Miner, daughter Nancy Miner, daughter Eunice Miner, son Alvin Miner, son Elisha Miner.  Inventory $3839 (7:535-537).  (According to Thomas Minor book, p. 139, Elisha was predeceased by his wife, Amy Way Miner, and died 25 December 1816.  List of children with no birth dates.)
  • Daniel Miner of 2nd Society, Lyme, widow Esther Miner, dec’d mentioned. Real estate distribution: Esther Lee wife of Levi Lee mentioned, Allan Miner mentioned, 6 Oct 1817. (7: 590). (Thomas Minor book p. 69 details wife Esther Prentis and children born in the 1750’s.)
  • Elizabeth Miner of New London, inventory taken 12 December 1825; total not visible due to flaws in microfilm copy (9:71), estate insolvent 9 October 1826, list of debts totaling $50.36 (9:143), sale of personal estate advertised in the Republican Advocate, reported October 1826 (9:171). (Not traced in Thomas Minor book.)             

Deeds (from Preston only).

I looked carefully though the deed index volumes 1765-1829.  I compiled a slip of requests and the clerk photocopied them for me, for a fee.  I prefer to photograph but that’s the way it is in Connecticut.  Here is what I found:

  • 9 (1770-1779): 201.  9 May 1775, Simeon Miner and Samuel Miner both of Stonington requested review of a boundary between land laid out to William Billings and an adjoining tract laid out to Roger Billings in 1680/81; James Rice, Thomas Rice, Theophilus Rice and Daniel Rice (Rix?) all of Preston were the adjoining owners in contention. Boundary was laid out satisfactorily along the west side of Billings Brook.  (No Simeon/Samuel pair (of brothers?) identified in Thomas Minor book.)
  • 12 (1792-1797): 507.  23 May 1796, at the request of Thomas Rix, a true copy of an 1680/81 deed by Thomas Miner gives “to my two sons Ephraim and Joseph Minor” one hundred acres of land “laid out to Mr Ephraim and Mr Joseph Minor” and granted to Thomas Minor. (Ephraim and Joseph not identified in Thomas Minor book.)
  • 12 (1792-1797): 521.  9 April 1792, Luther Thurber of Preston for 135 pounds [?] sells to Elisha Miner of New London a lot of land [detailed in another 1792 deed] with the buildings thereon. Elisha Miner agrees to maintain the north fence. Recorded 11 February 1796. Witn: Elias Brown, Samuel Capron. (May be the Elisha Minor, son of Simeon and Mary Owen Minor, and brother of John O., who married Eunice Capron 2 February 1792; p. 155-156 in Thomas Minor book. This possibility also applies to all subsequent deeds below.)
  • 12 (1792-1797): 554.  9 January 1797, Elisha Miner of Preston for 170 pounds a lot (same as purchased from Luther Thurber) to William Pollard. William Pollard to support the north fence.  Witn: Elias Brown and Obadiah Chapman.
  • 13 (1794-1803): 9. 28 June 1790 (recorded 8 May 1797), Benjamin Green of Boston for 100 pounds quitclaims unto Elisha Miner of Preston land and buildings at Pauquatonnock on which an execution against Samuel Capron was levied on 15 September 1788.
  • 13 (1794-1803): 287. 13 October 1800, Elisha Miner of Preston for 300 dollars sell to John O. Miner of Groton half of a dwelling house in Pauquatonnock village with land as described.  Neighbor: Ebenezer Penderson [?] (house and lot formerly owned by Samuel Capron). John O. Minor signed a note for 280 dollars to Simeon Minor naming Elisha Minor as surety.  Witn: Simeon Miner, John Elderkin.
  • 15 (1807-1811): 210. 1 April 1809, John O. Minor of Groton for $279.75 sells to William P. Capron of Preston two tracts mortgaged to me by Elisha Minor formerly of Preston but now deceased (1) half a house in Pauquatonnock formerly belonging to Samuel Capron and (2) half a lot in Groton (recorded there October 1800); the 279.75 is the amount needed to settle the mortgages.  Witn: Samuel Capron, Alice Capron. (for more on Dr. John O. Minor, see also D. Hamilton Hurd, A History of New London County, 1882, p. 450.)
  • 18 (1822-1829): 17. 7 January 1822, Elijah Brewster of Preston for $120.65 sells to John O. Minor Jr. of Groton 60 acres. Neighbors: Shipley Halsey, Elisha Brewster, Absolom Pride, [?] Smith. Failure to pay note of $120.65 will void this deed. Witn: Ralph Hurlbut, Gilbert A. Smith.
  • 18 (1822-1829): 58. 13 June 1822, John O. Miner Jr of Groton for $170 quit claim to Elijah Brewster of Preston 60 acres in Preston. Neighbors: Jeremiah S. Halsey, Elijah Brewster, Absolom Pride, Thomas Smith. Witn: John O. Minor, Benjamin Stoddard.

Preston Town Hall


There were several books containing vital records at the town hall, including church records and one about support of soldiers’ families after the Revolutionary War.  A couple of Minor women married around 1700.  Nothing since then.

Summary of results from Preston records

The New London County probate records mostly eliminate the possibility of Lydia’s being a daughter in that family, and no probate records are from Preston. The rest are inconclusive.

Probably the most interesting result is that only one family, a set of two brothers, shows up in Preston deeds.  John O Miner was a doctor in Groton, Connecticut with a large family.  It seems almost incomprehensible that a daughter would marry in Preston, away from his family.  Elisha Miner, his brother, did not marry until 1792, too late to be Lydia’s father.  The thought that Lydia could be an orphaned niece, say, in this family is not backed up by any connections found in the book, but it’s interesting to keep track of this family for future reference, as other evidence is found.

The Minors mentioned in the earlier deeds, asking for re-analysis of old land boundaries from long-ago grants of land, are not findable in the book without further evidence.

I should add that I would never rely on the Thomas Minor Descendants book for anything other than clues.  The book is extensive but essentially unsourced.

Conclusion:  we will refer back to these records as new clues arise from other sources.

My copy of Thomas Minor Descendants. The colorful tabbed notes refer to DNA connections I’ve found. At this distance in time, in New England, it’s almost impossible to know why I am connected to someone through a small matching DNA segment. But it’s kind of fun to look around.

(2) Reports by Lydia’s children

Of Lydia’s 14 children (more another time on them), the known children who lived until 1880 reported the birthplaces of their parents to the census enumerator as follows.

  • 1880 census: both parents were born in Connecticut. 
  • 1880 census: both parents were born in Rhode Island.
  • 1880 census: both parents were born in Rhode Island ( and 1900 census, same).
  • 1880 census: father was born in Rhode Island, mother was born in Connecticut.
  • 1880 census: both parents were born in Connecticut.

It’s split right down the middle between Connecticut and Rhode Island.  However, the birthplace of the father is definitely known (Rhode Island) and in fact Russell Lamphere lived in Westerly, Rhode Island until adulthood. The children themselves were born in Connecticut, so might be inclined to favor Connecticut as the answer.  I have two (contradictory) observations:

  1. Only the children who mis-identified their father’s birthplace (by assigning him to Connecticut) said that Lydia was born in Connecticut.  But if Lydia WAS born in Connecticut, that fact may have tipped the balance of their thinking.
  2. When the answer was split, Lydia was placed in Connecticut.

(3) Death records for Lydia’s children, mentioning her

Although two independent sources confirm that Lydia and Russell had 14 children (footnote 2 of part 1 and another source to be detailed along with her children, later), I have tentatively identified only 10 of them, because the births were not recorded.

My hope, here, is to see a death record that names a place of birth for the MOTHER of the deceased person. That fact is sometimes included in formal state death records by the late 1800’s.

I have seen enough of Connecticut death record books in person to know that no place of birth for the parents will be included, but perhaps a son or daughter died in a location where there would be such a record (like Massachusetts).  Tracing each of Lydia’s children has been challenging and I have a known place of death for only seven, of which four died in Connecticut.  Lucy Ann Lamphere Cook died in Burlington, Kane County, Illinois in 1865 – I have not found a death record for her yet.  Williard/Willard Lamphere, who lived for a long time in Iowa, died in Wyoming in 1902, I am seeing only a grave, not a death record. My ancestor Russell Lamphere died in Cranston, Rhode Island; no birthplaces of parents given.

So, struck out on this one.

(4) Methodist church in Preston?

I’m not finding a lot of information about early non-Congregational churches in Preston.  Consulted D. Hamilton Hurd, A History of New London County, 1882, chapter LXXII, “Preston”, page 595-604.

(5) Methodist church in Norwich Falls?

An 1833 map of Norwich shows a Methodist Church in the Falls area where Russell and Lydia lived (evidence for their life in The Falls will be covered next time in Russell’s life story).

A Map of Norwich from Actual Survey by William Lester Jr, 1833; close up of The Falls area. The “M” and the orange box indicates a Methodist Church.

Frances M. Caulkins, in her 1866 History of Norwich, Connecticut devotes two pages to the Methodist churches (p. 605-603), and mentions the Falls chapel:

In May, 1825, a small church was dedicated at the Falls village, and for several years the members from the Landing resorted thither for public worship, forming but one church and society.

This gives the impression that the small church was not viable for long.  Nothing I’ve tried has brought up a manuscript record set for that church; maybe someday, though. If I ever get to the New London County Historical Society I will check out anything related to Methodist churches, or to The Falls area of Norwich. While it would be nice to find records, they probably wouldn’t reveal much because Lydia only lived there as a married adult, not as a child.

(6) Minors in Westerly

Since Russell and Lydia married at typical southern New England marriage ages – he, about 30, she, about 20 – it’s possible they met as young people.  So I must consider the town where Russell grew up: Westerly, Rhode Island. Lydia was likely born in 1786.

I reviewed the early census records for Westerly and surrounding towns, the searchable issues of Rhode Island Roots, and Records of the Colony of Rhode Island.

According to the Records of the Colony of Rhode Island, Asa Minor served as an Ensign in Colonel Greene’s battalion during the Revolutionary War (8:230) and Phinehas Miner sold to John York, in September 1778, a ton of pig iron.

In 1777, there were two Minors in Westerly noted in the 1777 Military census, listed one after the other [7]

  • Asa Miner, listed as a legal resident of Stonington [Conn.]
  • Phinehas Miner, 16-50, able to bear arms

By 1790, Phineas was still in the Westerly federal census pages:

Phineas Miner in the 1790 Federal Census, Westerly, R.I.

Notable, for a year when Lydia should have been a toddler, Phineas shows no wife or children.  He is living alone.  But what I realized about this record, after many years of investigating this extended family, is that “Joshua Vose” and “John Tift” are significant to the Lampheres.  Russell’s youngest brother, Daniel Lamphere, married a daughter of John Tefft and Daniel was also connected to the Vose family in a way that I believe is connected to another wife.  This makes Phineas more significant, but even The Thomas Minor Descendants asserts that Phineas was single all his life.  He had a brother Asa who married Jane Lewis but, reportedly, also died childless.  Their extended family were residents of Stonington.

On Fold3.com, Simeon Miner is included in [Col. John] Topham’s Regiment and Battalion (folder 53, page 164, person 11) on 17 January 1779.

(7) Revisit Thomas Minor Descendants

The Lydia Minor mentioned in the book that is closest in age to this Lydia is Lydia, the daughter of Lodovick and Jerusha (Peabody) Minor of Stonington, Conn. The book includes her but gives only her birth, no further details of her life.  Other trees online claim that she married Paul Maine in 1811 and died in Pharsalia, Chenango County, New York in 1874. There was no death record. The daughter of Lodovick and Jerusha COULD be my Lydia Miner, but there’s direct evidence that the entire family ended up in central New York, so I’m not going to re-investigate at this point. 

Results so far

So far, I have collected some puzzle pieces that are not fitting together.  In the next post, I will keep going with some evidence I have about Lydia’s husband Russell Lamphere, and see if any pieces start fitting together at all.  Russell had a number of associates that might, somehow, be related to Lydia.  We’ll look at them.  


[4] Westerly, R.I., Council and Probate, 8 (1798-1818): 350-352.

[5] Benjamin Tinkham Marshall, editor, A Modern History of New London County Connecticut, 3 vols. (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1922), 1: 2 and 1: 216.

[6] John Augustus Miner, Thomas Minor Descendants 1608-1981. (Trevett, Maine: 1981). See particular notes in green for page numbers.

[7] Mildred M. Chamberlain, The Rhode Island 1777 Military Census. Baltimore: Clearfield, published under the direction of the R.I. Genealogical Society, 1985, p. 50. [Access on Ancestry.com at http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=49316 ])


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I’ve decided to revisit a brick wall ancestor, my 4x-great grandmother, Lydia Minor, and to create, along the way, a complete guide to this journey.  I hope readers with their own Rhode Island brick walls will follow along, and perhaps choose one problem to explore on their own as this goes on. The problem originates in Rhode Island but then veers westward; something that many readers will identify with.

I’m not kidding when I say this will probably take years.  I chose this problem because it’s pretty hopeless.  Eight years has not solved it yet, so there is no low hanging fruit.  It should be/would be/could be solvable – the Minors of southeastern Connecticut are pretty well known – but this particular individual has eluded researchers up to now.  Lydia Minor is the great-grandmother of my mother’s grandfather, Russell Earl Darling.

The problem, if it is ever solved, will be solved by devising and implementing strategies, which will often involve seeking connections between small details that can be gleaned about Lydia and her known family.  So, let’s strategize.

I absolutely need an “X-RAYS BOX.” Right away.

The research question

It’s important to state, in writing, the question.  The question needs to narrow down the focus, but also to refer to specific people.

Who were the parents of Lydia Miner, who married Russell Lamphear in 1807 in Preston, Connecticut?

OK.  Now I know what I’m looking for.

Lydia Minor’s life

I’d like to begin by showing the little I know about who Lydia Minor really was, so that readers will begin to appreciate her as much as I do.

Direct Evidence

Her marriage:[1]

At Preston, Mr. RUSSELL LAMPHEAR, to Miss Lydia Miner.


  • The marriage was recorded in a Norwich, Connecticut newspaper as happening in Preston (Connecticut), the town immediately east of Norwich.  When I review facts on the husband, Russell, it will be clear that he was living in Norwich at this time, having recently moved from Westerly, Rhode Island.
  • With few Minors in Preston, no clues have surfaced to connect Lydia or Russell to Preston.  But embarrassingly, I now realize that although I have consulted The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Records, Preston 1687-1850, Parts 1 & 2, some New London County probate districts via microfilm at the NEHGS library in Boston, and some Preston deeds at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I have never been to Preston Town Hall. And there’s nothing like going to the town hall.  Well, that’s why we’re doing this!  Adding it to the list.
  • “Miss” Lydia Miner is an indication this is a first marriage.  Based on her age (from her death record, coming up) of about 20 or 21, that was very likely anyway.

Lydia’s newspaper death notice clipping was something I ordered from the New London County Historical Society[3]:

The scanty 23 January 1849 death notice for Lydia at least gives an age, 62.


  • The notice, in a Norwich, Connecticut newspaper, specifies that the death occurred at “Norwich Falls.”  The Falls is a neighborhood that became industrialized thanks to water power in the very early 1800’s, and (as will be reviewed in the future) evidence points to Russell and Lydia spending many years there.
  • Lydia died on 18 January, 1849, still married to her husband Russell.  Her age in January, 1849 of 62 years suggests a birth year of 1787 or, even more likely, 1786.  Russell certainly knew how old she was, but who the source of this information was, and whether it was reported directly to the paper for insertion or copied from some town record, is unknown.  No death record was found on three separate searches in the Norwich Town Hall or in the printed two volume set, Vital records of Norwich, 1659-1848. Also none was found at the Connecticut State Archives in Hartford.
  • Western papers please copy is a good indication that Lydia had loved ones west of Connecticut.  Although only one son and one daughter are specifically known to have headed west, this is something to keep in mind as the children are explored.

Indirect Evidence

Here are some thoughts about her as shared by her son William in his old age as he was reminiscing to a reporter, along with an old friend (this clipping was sent to me by a very kind researcher on a related line who noticed Russell Lamphere on my blog)[2]:

I think for a woman who married in 1807 and had 14 children, being remembered in this manner by a loving son 50 years after her death is very sweet.

The story, further, tells us that Lydia and Russell Lamphere had 14 children; seven boys and seven girls:

Note that the “genial old gentleman, fond of stories” was Lydia’s son William Lamphere, and the rest of the paragraph refers to Lydia’s husband, Russell Lamphere.


  • Lydia and Russell not only had 14 children, but seven were girls and seven were boys.
  • Lydia did all her own housework (I do know that several of the oldest children were girls, which was probably a help) and met “the demands of society” which I take to mean she led a normal life and interacted with her community.
  • The Lampheres were Methodists.  Good to know.
  • The clue about the children living long lives is barely true, as a child-by-child examination will show, but clearly some of them did.

Research plan (just the beginning of the plan, I will keep adding):

  • Visit Preston Town Hall to seek birth and marriage records for Lydia, and take a careful look at ALL Minor records in the deeds and probate (although Connecticut separates probates into “districts” I notice the towns often have older materials on hand).
  • Review Thomas Minor Descendants 1608-1981 by John Augustus Minor to build a list of all the Lydia Minors that are not the right one.  I’ve done this before, but I think I’ll start fresh.  Also, in that book, explore Minors who were ever resident in Preston.
  • Review historical background materials on Norwich and Preston.
  • Investigate Methodists churches in Norwich Falls in the first half of the 1800’s.
  • Carefully review available record sets for Norwich and Preston on Ancestry.com, AmericanAncestors.org, and FamilySearch.org, as well as any Revolutionary War records on Fold3 for Minors/Miners from Preston.  I haven’t reviewed web resources on this for a while, and it changes quickly.
  • Consider a visit to the New London County Historical Society in New London, after the review is well underway and the research plan is more fully developed.

While I don’t have a picture of Lydia of course, this photograph is of her daughter, Lucy Ann (Lamphere) Cook, 1808-1865. From the collection of L. Buck, used with permission.

Next:  Starting from the beginning, I’ll review the early life and residences of Lydia’s husband Russell, trying to determine where he met Lydia.


[1] “Married,” The Courier (Norwich, Conn.), 20 May 1807, p. 3, col. 3; image copy, GenealogyBank.com, (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 18 June 2011).

[2] “Letters from the People : Old Times and Old Folks,” Norwich (Connecticut) Bulletin, 12 September 1898, p. [unknown], col. 3.

[3] “DIED,” Norwich (Connecticut) Evening Courier, 23 January 1849, vol. VII, no. 141, whole num. 541, p. 3, col. 1.

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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:  https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2014/10/17/my-top-ten-genea-mysteries/

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