Elsie Marcella Hackathorn taken in Bergholz, Ohio probably circa 1916.
For this is what America is all about. It is the uncrossed desert and the un-climbed ridge. It is the star that is not reached and the harvest that is sleeping in the un-plowed ground.
~ Lyndon B. Johnson
The optional theme for Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Challenge, “Plowing Through”, brings to mind the many generations of farmers that grace my family tree. Pieter Claessen Wyckoff, my 9th great-grandfather, fits this bill rather nicely.
Pieter Claessen was born circa 1623 in Norden, Ostfriesland (East Frisia) near Marienhafe. Pieter’s birth would have taken place during The Thirty Years War time, a time of great unrest and changing of borders in Europe. Marienhafe was located not far from the bay of the Ems River near the southeastern shores of the North Sea. East Frisia has long been associated with the sea-faring trade and with farming (think Holstein cows). This area now lies in the Lower Saxony region of Germany.
Meanwhile, back in the New World, Kiliaen van Rensselaer, diamond merchant and director of the Dutch West India Company, had his eye on the area around Fort Orange (now present day Albany, New York) and after a deal was struck with a handful of Mohican Indians, Kiliaen commenced to setting up a patroonship (of which he had control) on that newly acquired land. After hostilities with the natives and many set-backs and delays concerning the company, the patroonship of Rensselaerswijck was ready to be farmed and settled. When Kiliaen had not obtained the required fifty people to settle the colony by 1633, it seemed as if Rensselaerswijck might cease to be. In 1636, with three farms within Rensselaerswijck producing and Kiliaen needing supplies and the balance of the required number of people to settle, he and two other merchants, purchased, financed, and equipped a ship – De Rensselaerswijck.
This is where our very own Pieter Claessen enters the picture. Pieter is among the passengers and supplies that set sail from Texel on 8 October 1636 bound for the New World and, in particular, Rensselaerswijck, along with Simon Walischez – who would be overseeing Pieter as a laborer in the patroonship. The journey did not go as well as planned and after stormy weather and five weeks of floating, the ship finally arrived at Plymouth where it was forced to remain until January 9th. By March 4th, the ship had reached Manhattan, where it lingered for three more weeks until the ice in the river had broken up enough for passage up the Hudson. The ship finally arrived at Rensselaerswijck on 9 April 1637.
After Pieter worked off his contract, approximately six years, he rented a farm for himself and his new bride, Grietje Cornelis van Ness, in that area where their first two children were born. It appears that Pieter and Grietje relocated south to New Amsterdam during the years 1649 through 1655 after which time they signed a contract with Peter Stuyvesant (yes, THAT Peter Stuyvesant!) fellow Frisian and last Dutch Director-General of the colony of New Netherland, infamous for his wooden leg and handing New Netherland over to the British in 1664.
Pieter’s contract with Stuyvesant was for superintending the bowery (farm) belonging to Stuyvesant in New Amersfoort, an area located currently in Flatlands, Brooklyn. The home that they moved into is currently known as the Wyckoff Homestead and is a National Historic Landmark. This is where Pieter and Grietje raised their family of eleven children (6 boys and 5 girls) and where they lived out the remainder of their lives. Pieter never owned the house that the family lived in, but he did purchase and own other land in the area.
At the time of the British take-over and the renaming of New Netherland to New York. It was required that families take surnames that they could be identified with. It was at this time that Pieter Claessen and family assumed the surname of Wyckoff. The why of how this particular surname was chosen, contrary to popular belief, can be explained no better than by M. William Wyckoff in his book “What’s in a Name? History and Meaning of Wyckoff”.
“If one looks for the history of the compound wyck + hof, only in Dutch, it will not even be found. It will be found in Swedish and Frisian. Unfortunately, the false etymology for Wyckoff is the one that is most frequently encountered in the literature of 20th-century America and now on internet. It has been accepted by many, but it is false. The surname actually came from Friesland and was not created in America. Whether the immediate proximal meaning was a household, or settlement on a bay or waterway, or a place of refuge, it was surely not located in the Netherlands, but in Friesland where it was usually written Wyk- (not Wijc-, Wijk, or Wyck-). As all types of evidence indicate, the name Wykhof, no matter how it is spelled or how it is interpreted, is Frisian rather than Dutch. The fabricated meaning of Wijk + hof being a Dutch word interpreted as a “town clerk” was neither an established meaning in any speech community nor a correct and true meaning.”
The above passage excerpted, with permission, from:
Wykoff, M. William. What’s in a Name?: History and Meaning of Wyckoff. Rochester, N.Y.: CreateSpace Independent Platform, 2014. 44-45. Print.
It is quite clear that Pieter Claessen Wyckoff’s origins are Frisian and, at this point in time, his parentage is not known. It is quite probable that Pieter was an orphan given the history of war and disease at the time of his birth. It is also quite likely that he may have been an illegitimate child. What we do have a lot of documentation of are his descendants here in The United States. His and Grietje’s marriage record is believed to have been lost in a fire, but they were probably married in Beverwyck before 1646. Their first born son, Nicholas, was born circa 1646 in Beverwyck. This is the line that I am descended from. Pieter died on or before 30 June 1694. Grietje died between 1699 and 1703. Both are buried in Flatlands, Long Island.
There are thousands of Pieter and Grietje Wyckoff descendants spread across The United States today. I suggest that you might check out the blog of one the descendants, Denise Dahn, at:
Here you will find her striking watercolor renditions of the history of the Wyckoff story. For those of you who would like to know more about the very well-researched and documented history of the Wyckoff surname, I highly recommend M. William Wyckoff’s book, “What’s in a Name? History and Meaning of Wyckoff” that can be found at Amazon. This little book is a treasure!
Wykoff, M. William. What’s in a Name?: History and Meaning of Wyckoff. Rochester, N.Y.: CreateSpace Independent Platform, 2014. 23;44-45. Print.
Venema, Janny. Beverwijck: A Dutch Village on the American Frontier, 1652-1664. Hilversum, the Netherlands: Verloren, 2003. Print.
Venema, Janny. Kiliaen Van Rensselaer (1586-1643): Designing a New World. Hilversum, the Netherlands: Uitgeverij Verloren, 2010. Print.
Shorto, Russell. The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America. New York: Doubleday, 2004. Electronic, Kindle.
The Wyckoff Family in America: A Genealogy in Two Volumes. Third ed. Vol. One. Baltimore, MD.: Gateway, 1980. Print.
Several people have asked, so . . .
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Today is NOT my birthday, but the optional theme for Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Challenge, is “closest to your birthday”. I share my birthday with Reinhard Jacob HECKENDORN, my 5th great-grandfather. Not the same year, mind you. We were born 300 years apart from each other.
A large part of the joy of looking into my family history has always been the detective work involved in the search for the facts involving each individual. It has always been important to me to see that each person was, indeed, an individual. Figuring out their own life story that happens in between the facts is a guessing game, at best. Being a big fan of history, I am forever being side-tracked by the history of the area and time period that my ancestors lived in. Realizing that not everyone cares to have a history lesson, you will find that I have embedded links to more information in my blog posts so that those who are so inclined can read more about certain subjects. That being said, I am always eternally grateful for those researchers who have come before me and have meticulously gathered the proof on my family lines. The incredible amount of dedication of their time, and money, and generosity of sharing those findings is invaluable to me. I, personally, would be nowhere near where I am now in my knowledge of the Hackathorn line without the efforts of Hollis A. Hackathorn, Jim Bollinger, Ann C. Sherwin, and Theodore A. Heckathorn. Before I start the story of Reinhard Jacob HECKENDORN, I would like to thank these people for their investigative work.
Reinhard Jacob HECKENDORN was born 06 June 1715 in Memmelshoffen to Hans Martin HECKENDORN and Anna Maria (surname unknown).
Den 6t Juny 1715 wurde Hanß Martin Heckendorn
Bürger undt Einwohner zu Meimelshoffen undt
Anna Maria seiner ehelichen Haußfrau ein
iunges Söhnlein gebohren, welches den 9ten ej. zur
heiligen Tauff gebracht undt mit dem Nahmen
Reinhard Jacob genennet worden ist. Gevatter-
leuth waren der S.T. hiesger Saltzherr
Reinhard Jacob Krug von Nidda. it. Philipps
Sauerkopff Becker undt Wirth zum Schwanen
allhier. it. Anna Maria Abraham Jelitzers
A young son was born on the 6th of June 1715 to Hanss Martin Heckendorn, burgher and resident of Memmelshoffen, and Anna Maria, his wife, and was brought for holy baptism on the 9th of the same month and named Reinhard Jacob. Godparents were the local salt man salvo titulo* Reinhard Jacob Krug of Nidda; Philipps Sauerkopff, baker and proprietor of the inn Zum Schwan here; Anna Maria, … of Abraham Jelitzer… [bottom line worn away].
*Note: This Latin term, abbreviated S.T. in the source text, indicates that the man has a more formal title not given here. ACS
“Original record transcribed and translated by Ann C. Sherwin: http://asherwin.com”.
Reinhard Jacob’s grandfather, Jacob HECKENDORN, had been born in Langenbruck, Switzerland in 1646 and had moved to the Bas-Rhin region, about 100 miles north, sometime before Hans Martin was born in Memmelshoffen in 1682. The Bas-Rhin region has had a volatile history with the borders changing many times throughout history. Today this area is part of France with many people who speak French with a German accent. It would be interesting to know the languages spoken in the Heckendorn household in 1750. It is probable that the main language was Germanic.
Reinhard Jacob married Margaretha CULMANN of Retschweiler on 03 September 1737 and a son, Phillip, was born to them 03 March 1738 in Retschweiler. Margaretha died sometime around 1740 and Phillip did not accompany Reinhard to America, so we do not know his fate. The widowed Reinhard then married Anna Barbara JUNG, the daughter of Theobald JUNG and Mary Catherina on 18 April 1741.
While living in Retschweiler, Reinhard (known as Jacob) and Anna Barbara were raising three children – Maria Magdalena, born 26 November 1741; Johann Jacob, born 22 July 1744; and Maria Barbara, born 20 October 1746. In many documents, Jacob was simply listed as a burgher. Definitions of burgher point to one who is an inhabitant of a town, especially of the middle class. By the time his daughter, Maria Barbara, was born in October of 1746, Jacob is described as having the occupation of a sludge-box tender in the saltworks. By the summer of 1750, Jacob and family would be packing up and setting sail for America.
Jacob and Anna Barbara sailed out of Rotterdam on the ship Patience. This ship made annual runs to the port of Philadelphia from 1748 until 1753, with the exception of 1752. Descriptions of this particular ship show it to be a 200 ton, three-masted ship with eight guns and a crew of 16 men. The voyage in 1750 carried 124 men with total passengers of 266. Women and children were not listed by name on the ship’s log. After the ship arrived at Philadelphia, all males over the age of 16 were taken to City Hall to sign the Oath of Allegiance and were then led back to the ship. Those who already had their passage money, or were able to borrow it, were then allowed to leave the ship.
It is likely that Jacob had been in contact with other Swiss-German settlers in the Frederick County, Maryland area because this is where he settled and took up farming after arriving in America. Jacob and Anna Barbara added a son, George, to their family in 1751.
In 1757, during the French and Indian Wars, Jacob is found on the roster of Capt. Stephen RANSBERGER’s Company, Maryland Colonial Militia. Beyond these things, not much is known about the Jacob Heckendorn family. We have not found a record of when Reinhard Jacob, Anna Barbara, or the two daughters died or if those daughters married.
At some point the name morphed into HACKATHORN, at least for my line. I have seen many different versions of the surname spelling including, commonly, Heckathorn and have found some creative spelling on census records as in Hackalhorn. No wonder they’re so hard to find! It appears as if the name Heckendorn may have been derived from the tree we would know as the Hawthorn.
At some time before the 1800 census, Jacob’s sons, Johann Jacob (known as Jacob Jr. now) and George, left Maryland bound for western Pennsylvania. We find George in Washington County, PA. and Jacob in Beaver County, PA. just about the time of The Whiskey Rebellion. But then, that is another story…
Sherwin, Ann C. (1981). The Heckathorn Family. Decorah, Iowa: The Anundsen Publishing Company.
Hackathorn, Hollis A. (1996). Of Heckendorns and Heckathorns
Heckathorn, Theodore A. (1983). The Heckendorn- Heckathorn Family in America. Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press
Paul A. Darrel. “Immigrant Ships.” The Palatine Immigrant Vol. VII No. 1
RELATIVITY has a new look. I hope that you enjoy the crisper, cleaner feel of the page and that you find it easier to read.
My next post will involve one of my immigrant ancestors. See you in a couple of days.
In keeping with the optional themes in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Challenge, as soon as I read that this week’s suggestion was “Tough Woman”, I thought of my maternal 2nd great-grandmother Mary Amna MYERS. I have long been more than a little obsessed with pioneer women and have read scads of books and diaries of, and authored by, pioneer women. You can probably imagine my delight at having a copy of an oral history that was dictated by Elizabeth Jane (Jennie) HACKATHORN BROTHERS, daughter of Mary MYERS, to a third cousin of mine, Susan MORGAN ACERBI. Susan has graciously allowed me to quote from that history for this blog post.
Mary Amna MYERS was born 29 December 1831, first-born daughter to Lambert L. MYERS and Susannah CRAWFORD. Although no proof has been found to the place that she was born, it is reasonable to believe that she was born in or near what is now East Township of Carroll County, Ohio since both the MYERS and CRAWFORD families lived in this area during that time. At the time of her birth, this area would have been Columbiana County.
Mary married Jacob A. HACKATHORN on 27 October 1849 in Norristown, Carroll County, Ohio. He was the son of Christian HACKATHORN and Catherine PHILLIS, early residents to this area from Beaver County, Pennsylvania. At the time of the 1850 census, Mary was enumerated twice. First, with her husband, Jacob, and six month old first born, Susannah F., on September 18th in Tallmadge, Summit County, living nearby Jacob’s brother James, and then in the home of her parents, Lambert and Susannah, in East Township of Carroll County on September 24th. Mary’s young daughter is not enumerated with her in the home of her parents. We know that Susannah died in infancy and although the death date has not been found as of yet, it is reasonable to assume that it could have been in this time period. Mary, herself, was pregnant again at the time of the census and due to give birth in December. These two things could have been a reason for her to show up in her parents’ household at the end of September. There would be 12 children born to Mary and Jacob. Besides Susannah, a son also died in infancy, and their youngest born son, George, died at the age of two. The other children were Christian Charles, Jacob P., James L., Silas Myers, William A., Thomas John, Crawford Matthew, Elizabeth Jane, and Katherine Amanda. Although I did find an entry on the 1900 census in Medina County, Ohio listing a Mary HACKATHORN living with her daughter, Amanda of the correct ages, I really have no information about Amanda and am not sure if these are my Hackathorns. I do know that she is not present in the following photograph of those siblings.
At the time of the next census in June of 1860, we can find Mary and Jacob living in Liverpool Township of Columbiana County with their four young sons; Christian, James, Jacob, and Silas. “Jacob seemed to be a jack-of-all-trades. He farmed, mined coal, did some blacksmithing and various other work. Jacob and Mary thought with their family of growing boys they could do better in the west. So in 1866 they travelled west.” The thought was probably on their minds because of The Homestead Act of 1862 that was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on May 20, 1862. Because of their near proximity to The National Road and the areas where we find them along their journey, it’s safe to assume that this is the route that they took in their covered wagons.
We know that Crawford Matthew was born 21 May 1868 near Batavia, Jefferson County, Iowa and that Jane was also born in Iowa 29 November 1871 so they must have moved to Kansas sometime between the end of 1871 and 1873. “In ’73 and ’74 the hot winds and the grasshoppers took all of the crops, so they decided that was enough of the West and they started back East in covered wagons. They got as far as Indiana and met an old farmer who needed help on his farm. He made them a good proposition and Jacob, with his sons James, Jacob, and Silas; the three who were large enough to work (Christian having married and stayed in Kansas) decided to work for the farmer.”
Back in Kansas, Christian had married Harriet GLENN on 16 April 1874 in Greenwood County. On the 1875 State Census of Kansas, we find Christian and his young family living in Osage County, Kansas. I don’t know if this is the area in which the Hackathorn family originally settled in Kansas, but in all probability it was.
“Their big difficulty was no house to live in. With the help of the good neighbors, they built a two room house, one room up and one room down. They cut the logs and went to work on the house and in the meantime they lived in the two covered wagons. Luckily, it was summertime. This farm was in the Wabash bottom and they burned dry toadstools to smoke the mosquitos away. On their way back East, Jane being between three and four years old, has a vivid recollection of seeing a large herd of buffalo. She said they looked like a large body of waving water. They (the buffalo) were crossing the trail and the wagons had to wait until they had passed. Jane said they could not see either end of the herd. They did not see any Indians, but were always on the lookout for them. Water was very scarce, but when they came to the Mississippi River, Jane thought that was too much water. They had to cross on a ferry boat and the noise of the engines frightened the team of mules and the boys jumped from the wagons to hold the mules and, in doing so, had to pay extra fares. They got as far as Indiana where they built the log house. The crops were doing nicely and everything was going fine, when in August they had a torrential downpour. The levee broke and that lowland was soon flooded and everything was washed away. They had no time to rescue the animals so waded to the stable and loosened them so they could take care of themselves as best they could. The family moved everything to the second floor and waited to be rescued. They were taken out in a john boat and traveled at least seven miles before they hit dry land. Then they stayed in a blacksmith shop overnight and were chased from there before daylight as the water was still rising. Jane does not remember just how they got out of the predicament, but she does remember that after the water went down, the men folks went to look for the animals. They found the team of mules, one on each side of the river. They found the horses, one was dead, but they still had one team left. This seemed like the end of everything for they had lost three crops three years in succession and they were still destined for still more bad luck.”
The Hackathorns were probably living just west of Terre Haute, Indiana at the time of this flooding of the Wabash River in August of 1875. This area is convenient to The National Road and we find them in this area for a few years. The newspapers of that time are full of reports of the flooding and I did find this article that mentions a destructive tornado that went through a county just north of this area at that same time.
“They then found a place to live near Saline City and still kept the family together. Jacob and the boys worked at whatever they could find to do until June of 1876 when Jacob, the father, contracted smallpox and died.” Historic Note: This is the same month and year of Custer’s Last Stand. “They all had smallpox except for James who was working away from home. Mother Mary and the children were vaccinated as soon as they knew the father had the disease and, of course, it was not so severe with them. There was at this time a real epidemic of smallpox in that territory and no one would go near a house that had sickness, for everyone was afraid of the dreaded disease. This made a hardship on the family for no one would give them work even after the quarantine was lifted. Jane remembers that while they were sick they lived on tea and crackers which the county sent them. One family of good neighbors by the name of ICKES gave them milk but would not go near the house. One of the boys would set a pail out in a field and the neighbors would pour milk into the pail and then raise a flag to let them know it was there. The neighbors dug the grave for father Jacob and the casket was brought to the yard and left there. The boys then carried it into the house and Mother Mary and the boys placed him in it and took him to a county cemetery they called the Skee Cemetery and buried him. The daughter of the ICKES family afterward married James HACKATHORN. Her name was Lyde.”
In the 1880 census, we find Mary and her sons, Jacob and William, living in Sugar Creek, Vigo County, Indiana, west of Terre Haute. Not so far away, is the farm of James SKEE and family. I have not found a cemetery by the name of Skee Cemetery in searches and in letters written to historical societies in Indiana. It is reasonable to assume that Jacob was buried in a family cemetery on James SKEE’s farm. I have no idea where the younger children are on the 1880 census since they were not enumerated with Mary and the two boys and I have not found them living with known family members, nor could they be found with neighbors; however, the family eventually migrates down to and meet in Bergholz in Jefferson County, Ohio where the children marry and start families. This includes Christian, who left Kansas and brought his young son along with him after his wife died in 1887. This did not include James who remained in Indiana with his wife and daughter, Lillian. Mary died in Bergholz on 30 December 1896 at the age of 65 years old and is buried in the Bergholz Cemetery. A pioneer woman in every sense.
Special thanks to Susan Acerbi who had the forethought to record this oral history of the Hackathorn journey to the west with Elizabeth Jane Hackathorn (Jennie Brothers) and for giving me permission to reproduce parts of it. Thanks, Susan!
Year: 1860; Census Place: Liverpool, Columbiana, Ohio; Roll: M653_948; Page: 161; Image: 326; Family History Library Film: 803948
Year: 1850; Census Place: Tallmadge, Summit, Ohio; Roll: M432_732; Page: 483B; Image: 439
Database online. Year: 1850; Census Place: East, Carroll, Ohio; Roll: M432_664; Page: 154B; Image: .
Year: 1880; Census Place: Sugar Creek, Vigo, Indiana; Roll: 318; Family History Film: 1254318; Page: 184A; Enumeration District: 199; Image: 0370
com, Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925, (Provo, Utah, USA)
“Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1997,” index and images,FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18084-100791-52?cc=1614804 : accessed 18 January 2015), Jefferson > Marriage index and records 1896-1899 vol 14 > image 293 of 432; county courthouses, Ohio
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/25/Conestoga_wagon_on_Oregon_Trail_-_NARA_-_286056_crop.jpgBy Conestoga_wagon_on_Oregon_Trail_-_NARA_-_286056.jpg: Department of the Interior. National Park Service. Scotts Bluffs National Monument. derivative work: Crisco 1492 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Indiana State Sentinel., August 05, 1875, Page 6, Image 6
Just before Thanksgiving, I found myself with a couple of hours available between job interviews to run a few errands downtown and to drop by the county library intending to look up a few things on film that were not available in the probate records online yet and to search through some old texts in the genealogy department. I love libraries and have spent a good portion of my life inside various library walls from the very instant that I received my first library card. The thing that I appreciate most is the silence and the anonymity that allows one to become totally involved in the task at hand, whether that be reading, studying, researching, or writing. You might appreciate my quiet exasperation then when I was approached by a person who sat down in the chair across from me and asked me what I was doing. I glanced up briefly and said that I was doing a little family researching and looked back down at my book. My visitor then asked me how long I’d been “doing genealogy” and when I replied that it had been over 30 years I was greeted with a (loud) rundown of this person recounting how two months ago they had finished their family history in two weeks on Ancestry.com, how easy it was, how they were related to two Kings of England and one of France, and how they were now here waiting on a computer so that they could do their next-door-neighbors genealogy today. [sigh] Even though I figured that I still had about half an hour that I could spend there, I politely and quietly, said “How very nice of you, but I really need to leave now.”
I didn’t find any of the records that I had been looking for on film and did not find what I was looking for in the books that I was pouring through, but I did find out that there were certain reference books that I could check out and take home and I was pretty happy about that. I am always amazed when people ask me when I’m going to be done with the family history (and I get that a lot). I am equally amazed when people say that they found all of their family information at Ancestry.com because, of course, we all know that it’s not as easy as that.
The wonderful thing about Amy Johnson Crow with her 2015 version of the 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Challenge is that she has provided optional themes for each week. When I first thought about accepting the challenge, I figured that this would force me to focus on some of those “brick walls” that I had been ignoring. They’re brick walls for a reason; either because there is very little information to be found because of the date, area, and record-keeping, because you’re dealing with a very common name, or because you’re dealing with a woman. How many times have you been cemetery stomping and ran across a stone that said “Wife of…” and the man’s name? A lot, I bet. No mention of the woman’s name.
So when I saw that this week’s theme was “King”, I thought that I’d tackle Rebecca Jane KING, one of my supposed paternal 4th great-grandmothers. I pulled up Rebecca in my software and…nothing. No date of birth or death. No date of marriage to Abraham GRAY. Hmmm…
I have no idea where or how I even obtained this name. It is a very, very rare instance where I might use someone’s tree at http://www.ancestry.com as a source. The name is not sourced in my software as having come from there, although it is apparent that there are no less than 9 others who have Rebecca Jane KING as the spouse of Abraham GRAY. I have spent the past week trying to find Miss Rebecca and have come up empty-handed. Times like this are when I start moving forward in time and checking everyone in my tree that might yield up information on the questionable person. The first thing that I did was check out Abraham GRAY. Sometimes, the more fact-checking you do, the more doubt it causes. According to an entry at www.findagrave.com, Abraham GRAY was born in 1754 in New York State and died in 1846 in Belmont County. That he was a Revolutionary War veteran, 3rd Regiment, Ulster County Militia from New York and I did find record of his service at www.fold3.com. It also states that he was living with his son, John at the time of the 1840 census and he was living with John GRAY, but I haven’t found any “proof” that this was his son (but am certainly hoping so). This entry also states that Abraham was buried on John GRAY’s farm and that the bones were moved to a nearby cemetery, Benson Hill Cemetery, when the remains were found by a company digging for coal on that land. This entry also notes two women who were wives of Abraham, and neither of them were Rebecca Jane KING (and no sources mentioned). Besides an Abraham GRAY appearing on several censuses between 1790 and 1820 in New York, I don’t seem to have much “proof” on Mr. Abraham GRAY either. I expected to find a land record for Abraham because of his military service, but a search at www.glorecords.bblm.gov turned up nothing in Ohio. What it did turn up though, are a lot of land records for the GRAY surname, especially in Belmont, Monroe, and Noble counties. Hmmm…
I moved on next to John GRAY, born about 1784, suspected son of Abraham GRAY. What I do know about John GRAY is that he married Elizabeth BREECH on 10 February 1834 in Belmont County, Ohio.
What I also know, is that I have found him and Elizabeth on the 1850 Belmont County, Ohio census and on the 1860 Noble County, Ohio census. It’s not clear to me if they actually moved to Noble County or if the change is due to county boundaries being changed between Belmont and Noble counties because I realized that a lot of people with trees on Ancestry’s site, had John’s death date as 29 March 1868, which is most certainly not correct. That death date does belong to one John GRAY, but not “my” John GRAY. The 1868 death date belongs to John GRAY, the last living Revolutionary War veteran – who also happened to live in Noble County, Ohio, but not Stock Township. This information cause me to spend a good amount of time reading about this Revolutionary War veteran because there is a huge amount of information available about him online, including old texts, and photographs! Secretly, I was hoping to find some kind of a connection through this John GRAY to my John GRAY. Was he Abraham’s brother? Probably not since he was born in Virginia, but quite possible considering the amount of movement of families going on during that time frame.
I spent a considerable amount of time reading about the early settling of Ohio and, in particular, the early histories of Belmont, Monroe, and Noble counties in Ohio. I also went back and had a closer look at my DNA results with Ancestry because I remembered that one of my “circles” was connected to Elizabeth BREECH. Not yielding any new conclusions, I went to a different part of my tree on my mother’s side. Her sister had married into a KING family that were fairly early settlers in Carroll County, Ohio. The earliest known KING ancestor that I had listed in this county was a Nathan KING, born about 1788 in Virginia. I did a quick check of names, trying to find a naming pattern that might indicate that Nathan may have had a sister named Rebecca or Jane – but I will admit that this was just grasping at straws. You never can tell,though, when families meet up and separate while following migration paths.
Reluctantly, I went back to my entry for Rebecca Jane KING and marked an asterisk in front of her name. In my mind, she probably does not belong attached to my tree, but because I cannot remember where this information came from, I’ll leave it in with the asterisk. Brick walls that have been there for years probably are not going to come tumbling down within a week of researching, but it did feel good to tackle one without veering too much off of the path. I have a habit of getting lost in the history of a place rather than just tracking down names and dates and plugging them into my tree. For me, knowing the history is what keeps me interested. There have been many times while visiting an old, obscure cemetery where kin are buried that I have just stood back and recalling what I know of the history of the place, have tried to imagine what those ancestors felt and how they lived, and how their own experiences may have helped to form who I am today. So…why am I not “done yet”? These are some of the many things why.
For those of you who may have stumbled upon this blog thinking that you were going to be reading about Albert Einstein, or physics theories, or anything along those lines – you might want to just click away from this page. I am using more than a bit of Artistic License with the title. This blog is born from the brainchild of Amy Johnson Crow over at www.nostorytoosmall.com who ran a 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge in 2014. Sadly, I missed out on that one. This then, is me stepping up to the challenge for 2015. I can’t think of a better place to start than with my grandmother, Elsie Marcella HACKATHORN.
Elsie is my maternal grandmother, born on the first day of January, 1908 in Bergholz, a little coal-mining town in east central Ohio. It was the first year ever that the ball that signifies a new year was dropped at Times Square in New York City, the American flag only had 45 stars, Theodore Roosevelt was President, and the horseless carriage was just starting to catch on. She married David MOORE in 1923 in Wellsburg, WV. She told me once that she was really happy to have lived in the time that she did because when she was born “there were hardly any cars and now you can go to the moon and back”.
When people remember Grandma, they usually always mention that she was always smiling. When I remember her, I remember sitting knee-to-knee with her while she taught me to knit and crochet. She was left-handed, I was not, and it was like learning in a mirror. She made her own patterns for the dresses that she sewed for herself, made patchwork quilts, worked crossword puzzles, and read. But, most importantly, she liked to talk about family long gone. She wasn’t the hug you, bake you cookies, and fuss over you kind of grandmother, she was the talk to you like a person kind of grandmother and that’s what I liked about her.
I could write page upon page about Grandma, but the point in introducing her now is to give her credit for my own interest in our family’s history and in genealogy. When you’re younger, you believe that you’re going to remember everything about a story. How sad it is when you realize that you should have written down or tape recorded those conversations because they fade and disappear with time. And then they’re just…gone.
The same is true of people. If there is nothing written down, no photographs, nothing to jog the memory then they, too, fade from memory and disappear. I wish that my grandmother was still with us, especially with DNA testing. She would be so very interested! I could also tell her about how far I’ve come in tracking down some elusive ancestors lately and she would be delighted.
And, so…this year, this blog, I’m dedicating to you Granny.