Thursday, November 25, 2010

Joseph, Mary and Joseph!

One of the most frustrating things about researching family history is when, like me, one has very common last names in one's tree. My last name is "Hall" but it may as well be Smith or Jones. And Ed's last name, Eaton, is pretty common up in New England, too. He and I both have multiple Josephs in our trees. And, at the same time our ancestors were naming their kids Joseph so, it seems were every other Hall and Eaton family in the area. We both have Mary's and Alberts and more Josephs.

Joseph, Mary and Joseph! It sure gets confusing!

When you're researching those kinds of surnames with common given names, it feels like a goldstrike when the first name is unusual, like Alonzo, or Zimri. Or at least that's what I thought. Until I find out that there was more than one Zimri Eaton and more than one Alonzo Eaton lving at the same time, in the same generation, in the same geographical location.

Once we found the right Alonzo and Zimri, we found their father was Amos Eaton. And wouldn't you know it, two Amos Eatons were born around 1804 and lived in the Townsend, MA area at the same time. One Amos became a reknowned botanist and is found in numerous articles and publications. That's not our Amos, though. He was much more obscure and harder to locate.
Grave of our Amos Eaton
But we did finally sort things out, find our very own Amos who didn't have any botanical papers published but managed to have two wives, Abigail and Hepsibah, a daughter and 6 sons to continue on the family name.

So I found it sort of interesting how names came in and out of favor in the past, just as they do today. There are lots of Jessicas and Joshuas but not too many Zeppelins, as my grandson is named. His parents did future geneaologists a great favor!

One thing I recently learned was that in the Scottish tradition, there are naming patterns that should make it easier to trace my Waters ancestors. It was the usual tradition to name the first boy after the paternal grandfather, the second boy after the maternal grandfather and the third born son after the father. The first born girl was named after the maternal grandmother, the second after the paternal grandmother, and the third after the mother. They didn't always stick to that pattern, but as I hunt for my earliest Waters ancestors, I am hoping it will hold true.
Bell Rock, Abroath, Scotland where David was the Principal Lighthouse Keeper in 1850

My earliest Waters ancestor so far is David Waters, born 1820 in Midlothian, Scotland. He was an interesting character who worked as a lighthouse keeper all of his life and soon I will have to dedicate a whole post to what I have learned about him. But his eldest son is Daniel, making me think his father is most likely Daniel as well, although we haven't found him yet. His second son is William, giving me a clue who his wife's father will turn out to be and his third son is also David, indicating that perhaps they did continue the naming pattern.

Daniel, the immigrant's grave Woburn, MA
However, eldest son Daniel Waters  is our immigrant who went on to serve and be wounded in the Civil War. His eldest and only surviving son, and there were many who didn't survive, was also Daniel.  And his son was Daniel. And his son is Daniel. And his son is Daniel, my cousin. So, they broke that pattern when they got to America, but I am eager to begin the search for David, the lighthouse keeper's family, although records get more difficult in the 18th century.

Civil War Pension record for Daniel Waters, served in the 5th NH
On the other hand we do have some very intersting names in our families, although seemingly unique, they weren't necessarily so. Still, they are fun to find. Probably the first odd name I came across, and perhaps the most unique as it turns out, is found in my Sudbury line and the name was Loruhamah Ames Hunt. I found this name in the first online site I ever used. is the website that the Mormons run and a great place to start. But with Loruhamah, I found two listings there and both were spelled differently and one was identified as a female, the other a male.

The name Loruhamah, according to Webster's Online Dicitionary, means "not pitied". It is a biblical name of the first daughter of Hosea and Gomer. The name "was chosen by God to mark his displeasure with the people of Israel for following other gods." Now isn't that a nice thing to name your baby girl?
Fisher Ames and Loruhamah Ames Hunt's Graves Wadsworth Cemetery

Loruhamah, or "L. Ames Hunt " as it says on her grave, was born Loruhamah Dudley in Framingham, MA. She married Fisher Ames, who died at a fairly young age. The Widdow Ames went on to marry John Hunt, and lived on King Philip Road in Sudbury in what was recently a B&B known as the Hunt House. It was also the house that my GG Uncle Howard Goodnow lived in when I was a child.

Uncle Howard's House

Loruhamah was my Henrietta's grandmother. Had they been Scottish, I guess the name of my blog would have been The Hunt for Loruhamah!

Some other favorite names I have found in my tree or in Ed's trees are listed below:

Mercy Bryant
Increase Allen
Patience Newton
Pineal Hall
Phineus Ames
Marinus Willett
Ebenezer Willett
Abner Crowell
Judah Crowell
Experience Higgins
Experience Crowell
Experience Newton
Deliverence Newton
Deliverence O'Kellia
Thankful Crowell
Thankful Higgins
Milo Whitney
Zilpha Crowell
LuLu Budd
Azubah Baker (That is another biblical name -the mother of Jehoshaphet, as in Jumpin' Jehoshaphet).
Masters of the Universe
Heman Crowell -I must mention Heman. (Heee-min) Ed has a number of Heman Crowells in his family tree. Now I remember He-man, Mastersof the Universe action figures from the 80s that my kids collected. They were big musclebound things that I never really warmed up to. But  I hadn't ever heard of Heman as a first name. It, too, is a biblical name meaning  Faithful, Seer, Singer and Wise. I don't know if Ed's Heman liked to sing or if he was faithful and wise.

 What we do know is that Heman was a seaman!
Heman Crowell and Family 1870 Yarmouth MA Census
(Click on image to enlarge)

Happy Thanksgiving All!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

There's Something About Henrietta part 2

When last we were together, dear readers, I left you with the question “What happened to Henrietta?”
In 1880 we find Henrietta Hall in Holland, Orleans County, Vermont, a town bordering Quebec. The population of Holland Township was just over 900 then. There were 8 schools in the district with 365 pupils. There were 10 teachers, 9 women and 1 man. Their salaries totaled $716 and the entire school budget was just over $900. One church, The Methodist Episcopal Church was in the Village of Holland. There was a Congregational Church in West Holland Village and a post office. [1]
Henrietta lived with her husband Albert, her three children, Leslie Joseph, 7, Lillian 9 and Harriet just 4 and 1/2  months. Albert was a dairy farmer and the local Justice of the Peace. He owned 13 cows. He’s listed in the business directory for Holland in 1883-1884. Also living with them was Henrietta’s 70 year old widowed mother-in-law, Mercy Hall.  The Hall family was an old family in Holland. In fact, Mercy’s father in law was one of the founders of the town in the early part of the 19th century, coming from Bartlett, NH with two brothers. And Mercy’s husband, Joseph, my GGGgrandfather, was likely one of the first babies born there.
Not far from Albert and Henrietta, lived Albert’s brothers and Henrietta’s parents, Solomon and Susan Ames Davis and Henrietta’s 4 younger siblings. Solomon Davis was from Quebec, but his wife was born in Sudbury, MA as was Henrietta. Solomon and Susan Ames Davis are both buried in Wadsworth Cemetery near my grandfather and grandmother back in Sudbury, MA. I never knew they were there, or who they really were until I started this journey. And they’ve been there 100 years now.  
As I said earlier, the 1890 census were all destroyed so I was unable to locate Albert in 1890. However, as you may have suspected, when Rick and I were at the library, we found a death record for Henrietta. It said she died on February 25, 1887, at the age of 38, in the Vermont Asylum. The cause of her death: Exhaustion.
I was devastated when I saw that. So young, and with small children at home. And I wonder what must her parents, Solomon and Susan have been feeling, watching their oldest daughter being taken from home, in who knows what kind of a state. Maybe the kids were crying. Or, maybe they were relieved. We don't know what her state of mind was or how she was behaving. I have heard that in those days they would label women insane just because they were artistic. Perhaps Susan and Solomon brought her there, or maybe Albert did. I really don’t know any of that yet. But I'd like to find it all out. 
And so, I have been trying to flesh out this story and learn about the Asylum, which is still there, although it is referred to as the Brattleboro Retreat. I have been in touch with a woman, Marge How, who researched the burial grounds on the Asylum property, but Henrietta is not buried there. Nor is she resting with her parents in Sudbury. Online there is a photo of a burial basket they used for the patients. I wonder if Henrietta was laid to rest in one of those. Click on the link see a photo of the Burial Baskets at Vermont Asylum Marge Howe's web site 
I found a publication online entitled Vermont State Officer’s Report 1887-1888. God bless the bureaucrats, because it’s loaded with information. In this publication it details the numbers in the Asylum and who they were, if they were on the State rolls. It tells how long they have been there and what their status was with regard to the financial accounting. Henrietta was there for about a year and a half and her status was that of “pauper”. The Asylum was paid $1.25 per week by the state toward her treatment which had a total cost of $3.75 per week.

It’s hard to imagine what one would receive as room and board and treatment at those prices back then. In need of a new sewage plant that year, one imagines the stench was probably overpowering, especially in the summer.  The heating systems were to be replaced in the year following the report, so I am sure it was bitterly cold there in the winters in Vermont.
Henrietta, a young woman in her thirties with a large support system of family back in Holland and a husband and 3 children must have been in pretty bad shape to be sent there. Her status as “pauper” seems to be strictly a matter of whether or not her town and family were capable of paying her $3.75 per week. Evidently, 13 cows just weren’t enough.
And how curious to die of ‘exhaustion’. I know I have been exhausted from time to time-especially when I was rearing my kids and holding down a job. Perhaps Albert was a particularly difficult husband? Maybe life on the farm was too much for her. Henrietta wasn’t alone in her suffering. Twelve women and 9 men died that year in the Vermont Asylum of Chronic Exhaustion.   
“Mental derangement unquestionably results in very many cases from the practice of no vices, but from the gradual exhaustion of the nervous energies in the line of injudicious and excessive mental or bodily work, and inattention to the requirement of periodical rest—particularly of regular sleep.”[2]
461 patients lived in the asylum while Henrietta was there and the facility was designed to hold only 300 patients. In an attempt to alleviate some of the overcrowding, they released back to their communities 109 of the more “harmless but incurable” patients. However, taking the places of these more manageable patients were patients who were “more noisy, destructive and unmanageable. It just doesn’t seem to me a good place for someone who is exhausted!
Leslie J, Henrietta's middle child and my Great Grandfather. Age 12 when she went to Brattleboro

Lillian Hall Goodnow, Age 15 when Henrietta went to Brattleboro. Married Howard Goodnow from Sudbury

Hattie (Harriet) Hall Alnor The only photo I have of Hattie is from a 1923 Passport application I found online. She was just 6 when Henrietta was committed.

This genealogy hobby is sometimes surprisingly serendipitous, and maybe it’s more than that. However, there are times when I think other ‘things’ might be at play. This morning while I was writing this, I sent a telepathic message of sorts to Henrietta. I asked her to send me some kind of sign directing me toward her story. And I swear to you that within an hour I received an email from a woman at the State Archives in VT. I had requested a copy of Henrietta’s death record some weeks ago. When Rick and I found the record in Boston some 15 years ago I never made a copy of it and I have been kicking myself all these years. Now, I suppose it’s just coincidence, but this woman who works for the State wrote to me on a Saturday morning, kind of crazy by itself, but she enclosed a copy of that same card. And also a copy of another record as Henrietta’s death was recorded in Brattleboro as well as Barton, VT. The woman at the Secretary of State’s office said that means she probably last lived in Barton. So, now I have to go find out why she was in Barton, if Albert was still in Holland!

As I continue my hunt for Henrietta and everyone else in my tree, I hope to share with you more about the hunt and the treasures I find along the way. I know there is a trip to Vermont in my future. I will be sure to take you all there with me!
Thanks for reading!

[1] (Source:  Gazetteer of Lamoille and Orleans Counties, VT.; 1883-1884, Compiled and Published by Hamilton Child; May 1887, Page  284 - 286)
[2] Vermont State Officers Reports for 1887-8, The Astor Library, Google Books

Thursday, November 18, 2010

There's Something about Henrietta

Henrietta Davis Hall was my paternal Great Great Grandmother. She has been the one ancestor who continues to call to me and seems to insist on my learning her story. I have felt compelled to do that since the first day I started to research my family history.

Memorial Congregational Church
Sudbury, MA
 About 15 years ago, at a service auction for our church in Sudbury, Massachusetts, one of the items offered by my dear friend Rick was a day of research at New England Historic Genealogical Society's library on Newbury Street in Boston. That same year, another item was offered by another dear friend, Frank. He offered a tour of his bee hives and a close up and personal meeting with his "girls". I bid on and purchased both of those items and although the bee keeping operation was fascinating and meeting his hive of girls making their honey was better than anything on the National Geographic Channel, the outfit did nothing for me at all.

The day with Rick, however, opened up a way for me to discover family history, something I had always had a thirst for. I loved the stories my Grandmother Hall told me about her upbringing in New York City and about her father, the NYC policeman who died young and her larger than life flapper-era sisters, some of whom I knew. I so loved their visits from the big city when I was little.

My Grandmother Waters' told stories about her mother, widowed in her 30s raising 4 children alone and the emotional and financial setbacks the family endured. My Grandfather Waters talked about his ancestral connection to Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Scottish heritage. My Grandfather Hall talked about his Derby Line, VT ancestors and that we were related to the Ames families and the Goodnow families of Sudbury, MA, both old names in that town where I grew up.

I had all these bits of information and I wanted to know more and to confirm what I had been told. You can't grow up in a town settled 150 years before the American Revolution and not want to know more about your roots. It's all around. My Grandfather, for a time, was the town historian and I just loved the stories about the town's history. They all seemed so personal to me. I felt as if I knew the people in those stories. And, some of them may well have been my ancestors and I wanted to get to know them. 
So, Rick and I went in to Boston one chilly winter day on the T from Franklin. I had a little bit of information about several people from all of my lines, but no dates earlier than grandparents, really.

Some information was just written on the back of a piece of office stationery in my Grandfather's hand, but it gave us some helpful clues.  

Click on the photos to enlarge
Rick and I talked on the train ride into town about what information I did have and he came up with a plan to get started. The library, just a short walk from the T Station, is an eight story stone building. Although not in this particular building at first, the library first began in 1845 and is the oldest genealogical library in the country. Many US Presidents and other noted Americans like Daniel Webster and David McCulloch, Henry Gates and Charlton Heston have been elected to its board. But you can read all about that if you go to their link. NEHGS Click here to go there.

So, Rick brought me to an upper floor where the census records were kept. He taught me a little about the Soundex, a way to abbreviate the millions of names out there, the first step in narrowing our search. In this large room there were probably twenty or so microfilm viewing machines in carrels and large volumes of books and file drawers everywhere. People were scattered sitting around tables, in the carrels or standing at the file cabinets or bookshelves. Most of the items now online hadn't been digitized yet back then, so paper or microfilm was the way the records were stored. 

As I looked around at the people all engrossed in their work, I felt this surge of adrenalin, this sense of urgency. It was similar to the way I sometimes feel when I arrive at the movies and there's a long line. I feel this weird competitiveness welling up in me, fearing that someone getting in sooner will get the better seat, or maybe the last ticket. Seeing these people dig through these books and files and microfilm made me feel like I better get in there and find something out because time was running out! I just wanted to push everyone out of the way and FIND MY ANCESTORS! 

During that first day at the library with Rick, although we were there for at least 8 hours, and only broke for lunch because we promised to meet our friend Kitty at a nearby restaurant, the time flew by. We were very successful, though.
Rick, my favorite Genealogist, and  Kitty and me

1900 Census Jessie Willett
 In the 1900 census for New York City, we found my Grandmother Jessie Willett listed as 8  months old, living on East 8th Avenue in Manhattan with her parents and a few of the sisters' whose names I knew. Some had yet to be born.

Me and Gram Jessie Willett Hall


Leslie C. Hall, my Grandfather
And also in the 1900 census we found Jessie's husband-to-be and my Grandfather Leslie C. Hall, in his home on 88th Street in Manhattan, 7 months old,  living with his mother, whom I knew as Lady May and his father Leslie J. Hall. Seeing my Grandparents names and ages was an emotional discovery and I was hooked.

Lady May Budd and Leslie J Hall
My Great Grandparents

Samuel Atkinson Budd

In a document I have in my files that was written in 1915 by my Great Grandmother's brother in law, my Great Great Grandfather Samuel Atkinson Budd ( Lady May's father) when he asked about his service during the Civil War, responded that he "prefers the quick dash of the cavalry over the plodding of the infantry." Like Great Great Grampa Samuel, I would prefer it if researching was a flurry of discoveries one after the other. In truth, I soon learned that researching one's family history requires patience, perseverance and hours and hours of plodding through records to get the job done.

Fortunately, I was blessed with a lot of patience and perseverance, at least for research. The "hunt" has become as exciting as the discovery, in some ways. I think it's the accountant in me. I love the detective work to find that error, sometimes just one penny, that will make things balance at the end. Finding that one little fact, which could be brand new or it could either confirm or disprove something I suspected can lead to all sorts of interesting discoveries. 

According to the 1900 census, my grandfather's father's father was born in VT. So, that led us to the 1880 VT census. (The 1890 Census are non-existent as they were all destroyed.) I had heard the town of Derby Line mentioned in Grampa's stories and knew they were in the dairy business up there, but I really knew nothing more. Well, we found GGGrandfather Albert Hall in 1880 in Holland, VT. That's a town right next to Derby Line and part of greater Derby in Orleans County. It's right on the Quebec border.

Albert's wife was Henrietta and she was 31 years old and born in Massachusetts and in the home we find Albert's mother at age 70, my Great Grandfather Leslie J age 7,  his sister Lillian age 9 and Hattie, the youngest daughter at just 4 months old. We then went looking for Albert in the 1900 census. We found him but no longer in Vermont. During that 20 year period, he had moved from the sloping hills and fertile farmlands of Vermont to New York City. Little Hattie was there with him but he had a new wife named Jennie, who he had just married a year earlier in 1899. What happened to Henrietta?
And so began the hunt. I felt as if I had no choice but to find the answer to that question. I had developed some sort of affinity for this young woman, my grandfather's grandmother, who nobody had ever mentioned to me. That's another part of the mystery: Why hadn't I ever heard her name before? And where did she come from? So many questions, but the most burning one for me was 'where was she in 1900'?

I will leave the story here for now. I hope you come back to find out more.