As part of my research into some of the Davises in our family tree (related to David Wood, about whom I wrote before), I've been reading about early New Jersey churches. That line was primarily Baptist, and settled there to escape persecution.

Morgan Edwards' work, Materials Toward a History of the Baptists, provided amusement along with information. For example, these paragraphs about the Cohansey Baptist Church [Vol. 1, p. 89]:

In 1710 ... Rev. Timothy Brooks and his company united with this church: they had emigrated hither from Swanzey [Swansea] in Plymouth (now Massachusetts) government, about the year 1687; and had kept a separate society, for 23 years, on account of differences in opinion relative to predestination; singing psalms; laying on of hands, etc.: the uniter was Rev. Valentine Wightman, of Groton in Connecticut: the terms of union were, bearance and forbearance.

In 1714, eight Presbyterians joined this church: the occasion was a[s] follows: Mr. Wightman was invited to preach at Fairfield; but forgetting his situation, he talked away as if he had been in a baptist pulpit.

Clearly the name struck a bell, and indeed, that's our Valentine Wightman: Porter's 6th great-grandfather through his father's side; my 7th great-grandfather through my father's grandfather Willis Johnson Langdon, whose ancestors married into the Wightman line. Willis' wife, my great-grandmother, was Mary Lucy (Nellie) Wood. The Woods and the Davises of my family during that era were Baptists and Seventh-Day Baptists in that area of New Jersey, and it's likely that Mary Lucy Wood's ancestors heard Valentine Wightman preach on one of his visits. One hundred and thirty-four years after Valentine's death in 1747, their lines met when Willis and Nellie married. Ninety-four years after that, they met again when Porter and I were wed.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, May 31, 2018 at 9:39 am | Edit
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It's no secret that my husband and I bit the bullet and jumped into the genetic DNA testing arena, having finally decided that the information benefits outweighed privacy concerns. But of course, when we sumitted our samples, we were "speaking" not only for ourselves but for our blood relatives everywhere, since we share DNA, albeit in varying amounts.

So, family, this is your fair warning to keep your lives clean and stay on the right side of the law. As you can see from this New York Times article (or just Google for it if you can't get in to the NYT), police in California have apprehended a man who they believe is a notorious serial killer/rapist/burglar who commited his crimes in the 1970's and 80's. They cracked the case by matchng a sample from one of the crimes to DNA some of his ftamily members had submitted to a genealogical database.

Sure, it tweaks my privacy-concern buttons a bit, and even more so my Big-Brother-is-watching-you fears, but I sure am glad the guy was finally caught. But this is what concerns me most of all:

Mr. DeAngelo will not be charged for a series of rapes authorities believe he committed in the Sacramento area in the late 1970s because the statute of limitations has expired.

There's a statute of limitations for rape? How can that possibly be?

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 11:55 am | Edit
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William W. Tedrow is not one of my direct ancestors, but my great-great-granduncle: my father's mother's father's mother's oldest brother. I wouldn't normally spend too much time on him, but I noticed that the death date I had for him had no associated source. I'm in the process of cleaning up my family tree, and unsourced facts—whether accidental or put in deliberately as part of ongoing research—must go. Generally, I'll spend a little time trying to find a source for the fact—more if the person is in my direct line, less if not—then either add the source or delete the fact.

Frankly, my gut reaction was to delete William W. Tedrow's death date and move on. Up until recently I was eager to learn as much as possible about anyone and everyone connected with my family—and even non-relatives if the puzzle was interesting enough. But I have just shy of 15,000 people in my database, and am no longer under the illusion that I can learn everything I want to about all of them.

Be that as it may, there was something about William's supposed death date that intrigued me.

I knew that he had served in the Union army, as a musician, from August 1861 until he was discharged in February 1863. Discharged alive and well, apparently. But the (unsourced) information I had was that he had died in 1863. He had survived his Civil War service but died soon thereafter? This warranted at least a quick look.

That's when it became interesting.

William W. Tedrow was born in Illinois, about 1840, the firstborn child of Asa W. and Sarah Elizabeth (Davis) Tedrow—my great-great-great-grandparents. I had already found his Civil War record, or so I thought. He had joined the Union army on August 1, 1861, served as a musician—an official rank between private and corporal in the Civil War army—in Company I, 33rd Illinois Infantry, with distinction, and was discharged February 7, 1863. But it turns out that a lot more data has become available online since I discovered that back in 2004. Here's the next thing I found:


The name's right; the age is right; the birthplace is right. But now he's in Company B, 5th Regiment, U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery, which he joined as a 1st Sergeant on October 6, 1863, in Vicksburg, Mississippi. I've found no hint in census or other records that the family is of mixed race. I know that units of black soldiers were commanded by white officers, but as you can see from this list of officers of the 9th Louisiana Infantry, African Descent (the original name of this unit), Tedrow is not among them.  He was not a commissioned officer. According to the article, the enlisted men were black, and the rank of sergeant is an enlisted rank.

But there is no doubt that this is my great-great-granduncle.


There he is, as described in this record from the Illinois State Archives; his description is exactly the same as in the previous image, except that his complexion is listed as "dark" instead of as "fair." And down at the bottom is the notation, "Discharged Feb 7, 1863 at St. Louis MO enlisted in Miss[issippi] Marine Brigade." That is the key.

Here's what the website for the current 33rd Illinois Volunteer Regiment Band has to say about its history:

Mustered at State Normal University August 15, 1861 Charles E. Hovey, President of State Normal University, became the first Colonel of the 33rd Illinois Volunteers when the unit was organized in McLean County, Illinois. The regiment at once became known as the "Normal" or Teachers' Regiment and attracted both teachers and students to its ranks. Because it was stated that the regiment would not obey orders unless they were absolutely correct in syntax and orthography, the regiment was at times called the "Brain Regiment." The 33rd fought throughout the Mississippi Valley and distinguished themselves at Vicksburg, having lost 11 of 32 men, all the rest wounded save one.

The Regimental Band, led by Augustus Woodward of Lexington, Illinois and C.S. Elder also of Lexington, Illinois was made up of 17 bandsmen. The band was mustered on August 15, 1861 and mustered out on August 16, 1862 "... by order as to musicians." Due to financial issues within the military, bandsmen were a financial liability and the government could no longer afford the higher wage paid to the musician. The band provided enjoyment to the regiment and many bands continued service without authorization and the officers and men of the unit paid the added expense.

The Regimental Band was a major part of the soldier's life while fighting against many odds. The band played music that reminded them of home, kept their spirits high, and added to their emotional well-being. The Regimental Band led soldiers into battle and to their death as well.

No doubt William Tedrow was one of those musicians who stayed on, since he was not officially mustered out of the unit till half a year after the band was mustered out. But there he was, having distinguished himself at Vicksburg, Mississippi, with the Army not wanting to pay musicians. So he joined the Mississippi Marine Brigade. According to Wikipedia,

The Mississippi Marine Brigade was a Union Army unit raised during the American Civil War as part of the United States Ram Fleet. These soldiers acted as marines aboard United States Army rams patrolling the Mississippi River. The unit was ... organized as part of the Regular Army instead of a State unit. [It] was an army command operating under the direction of the U.S. Navy consisting of artillery, cavalry and infantry and a fleet of boats for transportation and was commanded by Brig. Gen. Alfred W. Ellett. ... The unit was organized in early 1863 and consisted of about 350 officers and men, including boat crews which used nine small light-armored boats fitted as rams.

The Siege of Vicksburg ended in July 1863. What was next for William W. Tedrow? Clearly, his assignment on October 6, 1863 to Company B of the 5th U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery, as shown above. That he truly served in all these units is shown by the pension application below.


Was my great-great-granduncle white, black, or in between? Given the rest of my family history, as well as my DNA results, I'd have to say he was white, although I don't actually know his ancestors on either his mother's or his father's side, so it's still an open question. But perhaps looking "fair" among black troops and "dark" among white troops was an asset for a young (23 years old) teacher-cum-army sergeant in the Civil War. Sadly, William W. Tedrow did not survive to leave a record of how he managed in his new role: He died on December 31, 1863, "by accidental shooting."

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, April 23, 2018 at 11:51 am | Edit
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We interrupt the flow of diary entries to present this video about the Haddam Veteran's Museum, which we're told has quite a bit about Hezekiah.

Can you say homeschool field trip?

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, April 22, 2018 at 8:23 am | Edit
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AncestryDNA is currently offering its testing kits for $59, a great price. If you think that's still too much, you might win one for free if I want your data badly enough.  :)

Of course, I know that for many people the cost barrier is not money, but privacy issues, so I would never pressure anyone into DNA testing. It took me a LONG time to get to the point of being willing.

But if you're interested, now's a good time.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, April 20, 2018 at 8:46 am | Edit
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(I'm putting this here because Ancestry does not make it easy to leave a note for those who view my profile there.)

My areas of interest and research include, but are not limited to, surnames Langdon, Wightman, Smith, Porter, Bradbury, Barbe, Faulk, Davis, Wood, Tinker, Cunningham, Kemp, Bristol, Reuterberg, Wells, Chamberlain, Daley, Hofferbert, Landeen, Stücklin, and Westfall.

My tree is private, but will show up in Ancestry searches, including AncestryDNA. If there's something that interests you, please contact me. I'm happy to share ideas and sources with those who ask. The tree itself is a work in progress. It is as accurate and as well documented as I have been able to make it thus far, but that doesn't make it right. Again, please contact me for sources and draw your own conclusions.

I have sources for just about every person and fact in my tree. My work is done primarily in RootsMagic, which I sync as well as I can with my Ancestry tree. Unfortunately, Ancestry makes a mess of the sources, so I don't upload them, if I can avoid it (I can't always). Ancestry also hides the general notes I have for people in my RootsMagic tree, and that's where I put a lot of information—another reason to contact me about specific people.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 9:22 am | Edit
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As a genealogist, I love old family photos.  But old family photos without any identification are a tragedy, and that describes a terribly high percentage of our pictures.  Here's one, for example, that's actually in better shape than most, in that I know three of the people for certain, and have some good guesses as to most of the others.  But I'm posting it here in the hope that there are others of our scattered family, perhaps direct descendants of some of these people, who will give greater clarity.  (Click on the photo to enlarge.)


Here's the identification I've come up with:

Back row: Francis Orson Davenny, Erna (Bradbury) Langdon, Mary Jane Langdon

Front row: William Davenny, Richard Davenny, Nina (Bradbury) Davenny, and an unknown woman, possibly Frances (Langdon) Hill.

Based on my best guess as to the ages of the boys, I think the photo was taken around 1945, probably in Spokane, Washington.

What do you say, Internet? Is there someone out there searching on these names who will recognize any of these folks?

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, April 9, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Edit
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Fear not, Faithful Readers, I don't expect more than one or two of you to read all the way through this 6000+ word post. Even the genealogists in the group will skip the details of the Sources and Data sections. But they're there, not only for my own present thinking and future reference, but also for the curious Internet searcher who might find something helpful.

If you read through the beginning, just after the chart you will find a link that will take you directly to the more generally interesting Questions and Conclusions section. A brief summary of the specific genealogical conclusions is at the very end.

The Problem of Jonathan and Elnathan Davis

The Puzzle

The wife of David Wood, Jr.—whose father I wrote about in The Problem of David Wood—was Mercia (or Mercy) Davis. One of the genealogists at the New England Historic Genealogical Society looked at my list of surnames and sighed, “I would rather have Smiths in my line than Davises.” I have both Smiths and Davises; while Smiths aren’t easy, I quite understand his point.

As an example, and to introduce this problem, consider the following excerpt of a brief church history given in the Register of Cohansey Seventh Day Baptist Church, Shiloh, New Jersey, 1737-1830 by Ernest K. Bee, Jr.

The family of the Davises settled higher up near Trenton who came thither directly from Long Island, but originally from Swanzey [Swansea, Massachusetts] and (no doubt) were some of the Company that came over in (1662) with the Rev Miles from J—tone in Glamorganshire [Wales] … the persons that ministered among them at first were Rev. Messieurs Jonathan Davis and Samuel Bowen…. This Jonathan Davis was born May 15th 1675 (his wifes name Elisabeth born May 1st 1675). Came in company with another brother or two from Long Island … and settled near Trenton abt. the year 1695 and preached their to his death which hapned abt. the year 1750, his brothers son with his family had been moved down to Cohansey abt the year 1732 and soon after 3 more brothers followed where they have multiplied. …

[The Cohansey church was formed in 1737.] Rev. Jonathan Davis, he was nephew to the forementioned Jonathan Davis of Trenton and took the care of the Church at their incorporation in 1737 and continued in the care thereof to his death in Feb. 2, 1769. … His wife was Esther Ayars, by whom he had children Jerman, Jonathan, Elnathan, Isaac, Edeth, Elijah & Naomi…. Mr. Davis died in the 60th year of his age, his successor was Rev. Jonathan Davis.

He was not of the Same family with his predecsor, but son of the Rev. David Davis that lives at Newark in Delware State where he was born July 7th, 1734: he was … ordained in the Church Nov. 13, 1768…. He marryed Margret Bond of Nottingham by whom he had Children Ann, Samuel, David, Ammi, Sarah, Richard and John….

Are you keeping track? That’s three men named Rev. Jonathan Davis who led this small church. The first (Jonathan Davis A) is credited with being the founder (and visiting preacher), the second (Jonathan Davis B)—his nephew—was the first “settled pastor,” and the third (Jonathan Davis C)—completely unrelated—the latter’s successor. Oh, and the last Rev. Jonathan Davis isn’t actually completely unrelated, if you look forward instead of back: I’m related to both of them. The chart below show five generations of the ancestors of my great-great—grandfather, R. J. Wood. Jonathan Davis B is in purple and Jonathan Davis C in green. Jonathan Davis A is not shown, but is the brother of Elnathan Davis, in red (twice, because he shows up in two separate lines). (Click image to enlarge.)


The problems begin with Elnathan.

(If you want to skip the Sources and the Data sections and go right to the Questions and Conclusions, click here.)


The Sources

  • Brig. Gen. William Church Davis, The Ancestry and Posterity of Joseph Davis (1773-1865) of Norway, NY, and His Wife, Elizabeth Hallock Davis (1784-1851) (Walton, NY: Press of the Reporter Co., 1927), pp. 9-20. Available online at and,
  • The Church Records of the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Operations Inc, 2004.
  • Frederick Lewis Weis, The Colonial Clergy of the Middle Colonies: New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, 1628-1776 from the American Antiquarian Society website,
  • George Rogers Howell, The Early History of Southampton, L. I., New York, with Genealogies, second edition, revised, corrected, and enlarged. (Albany, New York: Weed, Parsons and Company, 1887).
  • Jeannette Edwards Rattray, East Hampton History: Including Genealogies of Early Families (East Hampton, N.Y, 1953), pp. 262-263.
  • O. E. Monnette, First Settlers of ye Plantations of Piscataway and Woodbridge: olde East New Jersey, 1664-1714, a period of fifty years (Los Angeles: The Leroy Carman Press, 1930).
  • “The Founders of Hartford,” from the Society of the Descendants of the Founders of Hartford website, copied 18 March 2018,
  • Linda Moffatt, compiler, “Fulke Davis of East Hampton and Jamaica, Long Island,” from Papers by Warren Skidmore on descendants of Reginald de Scudamore, eldest son of Ralph the Domesday tenant. Source:, pp 84-85. Original source: East Hampton (Long Island) Town Records, Book A, pages 74-6.
  • “Fulke (Ffulke, Foulk) Davis” at Long Island Surnames website,
  • Francis Bazley Lee, Genealogical and Personal Memorial of Mercer County, New Jersey (New York & Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Compnay, 1907). Available online at Google Books,
  • Gilbert Cope, Genealogy of the Sharpless Family Descended from John and Jane Sharples, Settlers Near Chester, Pennsylvania, 1682: Together with some account of The English Ancestry of the Family, including the results of researches by Henry Fishwick, F.H.S., and the late Joseph Lemuel Chester, LL.D.; and a full report of the bi-centennial reunion of 1882 (Philadelphia: For the family, under the auspices of the Bicentennial committee, 1887). Available online at and the Internet Archive,
  • History and genealogy of Fenwick's Colony [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: Shourds, Thomas.. History and genealogy of Fenwick's Colony. Bridgeton, N.J.: George F. Nixon, 1876.
  • T. H. Breen, Imagining the Past: East Hampton Histories (University of Georgia Press, 1996), pp. 121-137. Available online at Google Books,
  • Helen A. Titus, Maidenhead: the Early Days. (Trenton, New Jersey: Lawrenceville Tercentenary Committee, 1964). Available online courtesy the Lawrence Historical Society, at
  • Morgan Edwards, Eve B. Weeks, and Mary B. Warren, Materials Towards a History of the Baptists (Danielsville, Georgia: Heritage Papers, 1984).
  • New Jersey, Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. (Original data: New Jersey State Archives. New Jersey, Published Archives Series, First Series. Trenton, New Jersey: John L Murphy Publishing Company).
  • Ethel Stroupe, “Origins of the Jersey Settlement of Rowan County, North Carolina: First Families of Jersey Settlement,” from Sons of DeWitt Colony Texas website, Downloaded 18 Mar 2018.
  • Josephine C. Frost, editor, Records of the Town of Jamaica, Long Island, New York, 1656-1751. (Brooklyn, New York: Long Island Historical Society, 1914). (Available online at HathiTrust,;view=1up;seq=7).
  • Ernest K. Bee Jr., Register of Cohansey Seventh Day Baptist Church, Shiloh, New Jersey 1737-1830 (Plainfield, New Jersey: Seventh-Day Baptist Publishing House, 1976).
  • Various Internet sites of more or less credibility, rife with speculation, but useful for indicating directions of research.
  • Wikipedia contributors, Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia: “Lawrenceville, New Jersey,”,_New_Jersey.
  • Stuart Hotchkiss, “Witches of Long Island,” from Brooklyn Genealogy Information Page website, created in 1997 by Nancy E. Lutz, hosted by Steve Morse,


The Data, Part 1—from the New Jersey Side

From Genealogy of the Sharpless Family

About the year 1662, three brothers, John, Jonathan and William Davis, came to New England in the company of Welsh Baptists under the leadership of the Rev. John Miles. They named the place of their settlement Swansea from that of their home in Wales. About the year 1687 a number of families ... removed to South Jersey, and settled at Bowentown, Barretts Run and Shiloh. Some of the Davis family removed to Long Island, whence Jonathan and EInathan Davis, supposed to be sons of one of the above three brothers, came to Trenton, and EInathan became the Surveyor General of New Jersey. …

Jonathan Davis of Long Island, born May 15, 1675, married a Bowen of the Rev. John Miles' company, and about the year 1700 settled at Trenton with his brother EInathan Davis, the Surveyor General. He frequently visited his wife's relatives at Bowentown, and being a Seventh-day Baptist gained numerous converts in that vicinity. ... At length, on the 27th of March, 1737, the Seventh-day Baptist Church of Shiloh was organized.... To Jonathan Davis, senior, is ascribed the honor of being the founder of the church. He died in 1750, leaving no children. [pp. 207-208]

From Materials Towards a History of the Baptists

The first minister of the Sabbatarian order, who preached in this neighbourhood and in that of Trentown, was Rev. Jonathan Davis, uncle to the Jonathan Davis who was the first minister for the church of Shiloh, and the 120 families which belong to it, may consider him as their founder and father. He died at Trentown about the year 1750, in the 75th year of his age.

His wife was Elizabeth Bowen; but no issue. He was very tall and fat, which made his familiars banter him under the name of the ”great high priest.”

He, and his brother Elnathan Davis, are said to have settles at Trentown near the beginning of this century; and to have emigrated thither directly from Long-island, but originally from Wales: if so, he might be the son of one of the three Davises who came to Swanzey in 1662, and who emigrated thither from Glamorganshire, in the company of Rev. John Miles: he could not be one of the emigrants; for he was born May 15, 1675.

When he embraced the sentiments of the Sabbatarians; and when and where he was ordained, are matters I could not learn either from the family or from records…. [p. 137]

From Origins of the Jersey Settlement of Rowan County, North Carolina

In 1697 Thomas Revell sold 1,050 acres (in the center of the township) to Johannes Opdyke, a Penny Town (Pennington) area soon settled by inter-related Presbyterian families from Newton (Elmhurst), Queens, Long Island. In January 1675/7 the will of Ralph Hunt, Sr. was proved at Newton. In 1698 his sons, Ralph, Jr., Samuel, daughter Ann and husband Theophilus Phillips, and daughter-in-law Johanna (widow of John Hunt) had deeds in Maidenhead (Lawrence), N.J., where they joined the Presbyterian Church….

That same year, Jonathan, Samuel and Elnathan Davis were members of Burlington's Presbyterian Church. [On January 21, 1698/9, a deed from Jonathan Davis "husband man" was transferred to his brother Samuel Davis "weave', both of Maidenhead, 20 acres at the head of his preceding 100 acres north of town, adj. on the west by Elnathan Davis. New Jersey Records, Liber B, H:656]….

Hannah Davis (b. c1715) who named a son Eldad in 1738, was probably daughter of Eldad Davis. These Davis - Reeds were Baptists and perhaps related to the Jonathan Davis who in 1708 came to Burlington's Court seeking to be qualified as a Baptist preacher according to the Act of Toleration, asking permission to preach in a house, which was how the Hopewell Baptists met at this time.

From The Colonial Clergy of the Middle Colonies

JONATHAN DAVIS, b. Swansea, Mass., 15 May 1675; preached at Trenton, N.J., 1737-1750; Bapt.; d. Trenton, N.J., 1750, a. 75, s.p.

JONATHAN DAVIS, b. 1710, son of Elnathan Davis; sett. Cohansey (Cumb.) N.J., Chh. at Shiloh, 27 Mar. 1737-1769; 7th Day Bapt.; d. Shiloh, Cohansey, N.J., 2 Feb. 1769, a. 59.

JONATHAN DAVIS, b. Newark, Del., 7 July 1734, son of Rev. David and Rachel (Thomas) Davis; Ord. Cohansey, N.J., Chh. at Shiloh (Cumb.) N.J., 12 Nov. 1768-1785; 7th Day Bapt.; d. Shiloh, N.J., 23 July 1785 [p. 205]

From Register of Cohansey Seventh Day Baptist Church

The family of the Davises settled higher up near Trenton who came thither directly from Long Island, but originally from Swanzey [Swansea, Massachusetts] and (no doubt) were some of the Company that came over in (1662) with the Rev Miles from J—tone in Glamorganshire [Wales] … the persons that ministered among them at first were Rev. Messieurs Jonathan Davis and Samuel Bowen…. This Jonathan Davis was born May 15th 1675 (his wifes name Elisabeth born May 1st 1675). Came in company with another brother or two from Long Island … and settled near Trenton abt. the year 1695 …. [p. 63]

Side note: Part of the above quotation, from “This Jonathan Davis…” to the end, was added, in pencil, to the original manuscript. The editor of this source says the penciled annotations are the work of an unnamed later researcher. Based on extreme similarities between some of these notes and the words of Materials Towards a History of the Baptists, I propose that this unknown researcher was none other than Morgan Edwards himself.

From History of the Counties of Gloucester, Salem, and Cumberland, New Jersey

Elnathan Davis was born at Shiloh in the year 1785, and was the son of Rev. Jonathan Davis, one of the original constituents and first pastor of the Seventh-Day Baptist Church at that place, and was a grandson of Elnathan Davis, who settled at Trenton about the close of the seventeenth century. The family came from Wales to Massachusetts in 1662, in company with Bowen, Bacon, Barratt, and others, some of whose descendants settled in this county.

From New Jersey Abstract of Wills

The will of Jonathan Davis “of Trenton, Hunterdon Co, yeoman” [i.e. farmer], made March 20, 1745 and proved April 17, 1746, names, “Wife Elizabeth. Five sons of brother, Elnathan Davis, viz: Elnathan, Jonathan, Nathan, Samuel and John.” [v30 p135]

From History and Genealogy of Fenwick's Colony

[Elnathan Davis, the great surveyor of West Jersey] was the grandson of Jonathan, the eminent divine, who was born on Long Island, whose father, together with two or three other brothers, had emigrated from Wales and settled in the New England States as early as 1664. However, some of them soon afterward located on Long Island, whence Jonathan and his brother Elnathan Davis came to New Jersey in 1700, and settled at Trenton. Elnathan’s occupation was that of a land surveyor. He was soon appointed surveyor-general of the State of New Jersey. Jonathan Davis, his brother, was a conspicuous Seventh-Day Baptist minister. His wife was Elizabeth Bowen. Her relatives residing in Cohansey precinct, he made frequent visits in that section of country. It has been stated he preached occasionally in the Cohansey Church, sometimes among the Seventh-Day Baptists that lived near the Cohansey Corners, in one of their private houses. Soon after the Church at Shiloh was organized, Jonathan Davis, Jr., was chosen their first pastor, and Elnathan Davis, the eminent surveyor of the lower counties of West Jersey, was the son of Jonathan Davis, 2d, the first pastor of Shiloh Church. … His [Elnathan’s] physical strength and great endurance excelled most men, with his great mathematical genius, which he inherited from his ancestors. He in early life was noted … as being the most competent and accurate land surveyor at that period of time. … Most of his sons were also practical surveyors. [pp. 528-529]


The Data, Part 2—from the Long Island Side

From The Founders of Hartford

Fulke Davy sold his house and lot to Nathaniel Ward before Jan., 1639-40, and probably removed from Hartford; he witnessed a grant from Jas. Fasaett to Lion Gardner, of Isle of Wight March 10, 1639-40; signed the petition from Jamaica, Middleborough, and Hempated, L. I., to be taken under Conn. government.

From The Ancestry and Posterity of Joseph Davis

Davis is a Welsh name, but before the 1600’s had been distributed throughout the British Isles; without further evidence, we can’t be certain whether someone of that name came from Wales or some other part of that land.

Foulk Davis was the founder of the Long Island Davis family.

Lion Gardiner, from the Saybrook settlement in Connecticut, colonized Gardiner’s Island (now in New York) and later founded East Hampton, Long Island.

Foulk Davis originally settled in Southampton, then moved to East Hampton, and later to Brookhaven and then Jamaica, where he died. (That’s Jamaica on Long Island, not the one in the Caribbean.)

Foulk Davis was born in Wales or England, probably about 1615, and died in Jamaica, Long Island, N.Y., about 1687. He married, 1st (name unknown), probably about 1639, and 2nd, Mary Dayton, a widow, about 1660. His known children, all by his first marriage, were Benjamin, Joseph, Samuel, Jonathan, Sarah, and John.

Foulk’s son Samuel was born, probably after 1642, at Southampton, and died 1692 at Jamaica. He married Mary (surname unknown), who survived him.

From The Early History of Southampton 

The next colony was one that founded and settled the sister town of East Hampton in 1859. … Of the [list of residents of East Hampton] the following were known to have been previously residents of Southampton: John Hand, Thomas Tamage, …. Fulke Davis, Nathaniel Bishop …and Jeremiah Meacham. … Considerable numbers also removed from time to time to New Jersey…. [p. 79]

Davis, Fulk, has a grant of land Oct. 9, 1642. In 1655 he was a resident of East Hampton and in 1660 of Jamaica. He m. in E. H. (2d w. prob.) Mary, who m. 1, James Haines, 2d, Ralph Dayton, and 3d, Fulk Davis, and had ch. John, Samuel of North Sea, 1657, of Jamaica, 1660, and Benjamin, and perhaps others. [p. 424]

From First Settlers of ye Plantations of Piscataway…

Fulke Davis and Samuel Davis are listed as freeholders in the town of Jamaica, Long Island, in 1660. [p. 108]

From Records of the Town of Jamaica, Long Island

Sam Davises bill of sale or gift from his father
Know all men whom it may consern that I Fulck
Davis Inhabitant of Jamaica in the North Rideing of
yorkshire on Long Iseland have and doe by these presents
freely give and make over unto my son Samuell Davis
Inhabitant of the same place to him his heirs and Asignes
the one half of my ten acre Lot Lying and being on
the west of the sayde Samuell Davises Lot. His sayd
Lot being on the caste adjoyning to the sayd Land. The
other halfe of the ten acre Lot. I Fulk Davis give the
use of it to my son Samuell Davis to him his heirs and
Asignes as Long as I Live dureing my naturall Life and
being. And farther I doe Ingage and promis to my
son Davis that I will not sell or dispose of the sayde
land dureing my Life exsept nessessity compelleth mee
and if I then shall expose it to sale then my son Davis
shall have the sayd halfe ten acre Lot for the som of
five pounds corrant paye. And for the true perforemans
of this my act and dede I have hereunto set my hand.

November the 3d 1680

Witnes JOHN PRUDDEN                     FULCK DAVIS
ELIAS DOWGHTY                             This is a true coppy taken
                                                      out of the originall by mee
                                                      NATH DENTON Clerk  [p. 193]

Samuell Davis hath allsoe a pese of Land Layde out
of aboute twenty acres Lying and being on the east side
of the rest of his Land which is made a kinde of a neck of
Land by two boggy Medowse. The which nek of Land
is whoely Layd out to the sayde Samuell Davis for
twenty acres of Land more or les onely a litle poynte that
Lyeth on the south east end of the sayde Neck the sayde
Land runing northward to the cart path that goeth
through Samuell Milses Lot to the south end of the
litle playnes.

Recorded by mee
      NATH DENTON Clerck  [p. 193]


The Data, Part 3—the Connection

From the Genealogical and Personal Memorial of Mercer County, New Jersey

The summer of 1690 may be fixed as the time when the first settlement of Maidenhead occurred. … The permanent settler was the third of those whose surveys were dated August 20, 1690. This was Mary Davis, accompanied by her three sons —Jonathan, Elnathan and Samuel. [pp. 70-71]

From Maidenheadthe Early Days

Mary Davis also bought 300 acres here about 1690. These lands lay east of what later became the village of Maidenhead (now Lawrenceville)….

From Wikipedia

Maidenhead was originally part of Burlington County, then Hunterdon County, finally Mercer County. It is near Trenton.

From The Church Records of the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville

The earliest evidence that there were Christian people in Maidenhead uniting together for the maintenance of religious worship is found in the record of a deed dated March 18, 1698-9: By this deed, “the West Jersey Society by their agents … convey to Ralph Hunt, Jno Bainbridge … Jonathan Davis … Samuel Davis, Elnathan Davis, Enoch Andris … and Edward Hunt, all of Maidenhead, Burlington Co. for one hundred acres there, of the Society’s 15,000 acre tract above the Falls of Delaware, to be used for a meeting house, burying ground, and schoolhouse.”

From Records of the Town of Jamaica, Long Island

To all Christian peopell to whome thes presents shall
cume Mary Daves of West Jarzey in ye County of Bur-
lingtone sendeth greetting Know yea that I ye abovesd
Mary Davess beinge the widdow & relleckt of Samuell
Davis latte of Jamaica in Queens County deseast beinge
appointed & consstetuted by my husband aforsd in hisMary
last will & testement to be his wholl & sole exceketricks
to se his will performed & likewise being Choasen & ap
poynted by my three sons Jonathan Samuell & Ellnathan
Daves to be their garudden to sell bargin & disspoas
of whatt lands or meadowes way belonging to my said
husband I say that I the abovesd Mary Daves with
Jonathan Daves my eldest sone for severall good reasons
& casses us & either of us therunto moveing but more
easspeatially for a vallewable sume to us in hand paid
by William Creed of Jamaica in Queens County & secured
to be paid ye reseaipt wherof we doe herby acknowledg
& own ourselves to be therwith contented sattisfyed
and paid have giveen granted covenanted allinated
releast quit enfeoffed made over & sould and doe own
& acknowledg to have for us and ye other my two sones
our heires exceketors & assignes given granted ‘cove—
nanted allinatted quitt claimed enfeoffed made over &
sould unto ye abovesd William Creed his heires exceketors
& assignes all that ye accomadations Of upland and
meadow lying & beinge within ye boundes of Jamaica
viz: a sartain parcell of land bounded north by ye
high way runing to ye Little Plaines & south wth ye bogges
lyinge together which makes a necke of land together
with all orchyardes gardens fruet-trees improvements
prevelidges benefitts timber trees standing or lyinge
being upon ye same together with all & every ye rest
of ye rights & devetions of upland that are & ever wear
bellonging to ye acomadations of my sd husband de
seassed excepting fiveten acers sould to Mr. Daniell
Whitthead & Abigaill Milles & ten acers that was sould
to Mr. Daniell Whitthead allone as allsoe ye right of
devition of meadow being ten acers more or less as it
was layd outt lying and beinge beinge comonly called
ye further East Necke….

…in testimony wherof I the
said Mary Daves with Jonathan Daves my sone doe bind
our selves firmly by settinge to our names & ffixeinge our
seals this seventh day of November in ye fivfth yeare of
their Majesties raigne & in ye yeare of our Lord Christ
one thousand sixe hundred niney & two

Signed sealed & delivered                  MARY DAVES
in presence of                                   JONATHAN X DAVES
SAMUELL RUSCOE                                  his marke
     hur marke                    [pp. 399-400]


The Questions and Conclusions

It is established that Jonathan and Elnathan Davis came to the Trenton, New Jersey area from Long Island around the very end of the 17th century. Jonathan is fairly well documented, thanks to his renown as a preacher. Elnathan is more of a mystery, however, as are the origins of both brothers.

Who was Elnathan Davis? When was he born, when did he die, who was his wife? Who—besides my sixth great grandfathers Jonathan and Samuel—were his children? We have the names of at least five of his sons, thanks to the fact that his brother Jonathan died childless, and left his estate to his nephews. But for Elnathan himself I have found no will, no information on his birth or death, nothing about whether or not he stayed in the Trenton area or moved elsewhere. According to History and genealogy of Fenwick's Colony, he was the “Surveyor General of New Jersey”—just what that meant in those early days, I don’t know, but that he was a respected surveyor I find believable, as he passed his surveying skills on to at least one grandchild and several great-grandchildren.

The suggestion is widespread that the name of Elnathan’s wife was Hannah Housely, but of proof, or even a credible source, I’ve seen nothing. Perhaps a visit to the New Jersey archives will reveal something, or eventually something more definitive will become available in a library or online. But for now, his wife—and any other children besides the five sons named in his brother’s will—remain a mystery, as will the circumstances of his birth and death.

I’ve had more success with discovering the previous history of Jonathan and Elnathan Davis.

An early resident of Long Island, by the improbable name of Fulke Davis (or Foulk, Ffulke, Fulk, Ffulk, and other variant spellings), has been suggested as the ancestor of Jonathan and Elnathan. The name is Welsh, but Davises were spread throughout the British Isles by that time, so it can’t be ruled out that he or his ancestors were actually from England. 

If the name is odd, apparently his character was worse, judging from the stories about him that can be found online. Most modern commentary seems to treat his sins lightly, but reading transcriptions of the original court records for the small Long Island settlements where he resided indicates that Fulke Davis was, shall we say, the James Levine of his day, but without the great music. I’ve posted the sources, but not excerpts, to avoid giving this post an X rating.

Wading through those court records was difficult, and not solely because of the old language and casual attitude toward spelling. I couldn’t read much without wanting to take a long shower.

These were Puritan settlements, trying to be a just and moral society:

In civil affairs the colonists governed themselves by virtue of “town meetings,” at which they elected their officers and discussed matters of public interest; but their criminal administration was a virtual theocracy, being “an Absstract of the Lawes of Judgmt as given Moses to the Commonwealth of Israel, soe farre forth as they bee of Morall that is of perpetuall and vuniursal Equity. Among all Nations, Especially such where the Church and Common Wealth are commplanted together in holy couenant and fellow shippe with God in Jesus Christ, being Joyntly and vnanimously Consented vnto as Ffundamentall by ye Inhabitants of this Collony of South Hampton.” (The Ancestry and Posterity of Joseph Davis…, p. 12)

Instead, they reveal the dangers of fallen humans setting themselves up as a theocracy. Tale-bearing, backbiting, and taking one another to court were apparently rampant. Accusations of witchcraft, illicit sexual behavior, and other real or imagined crimes could easily land you in court—good for future genealogists but bad for you and your relationships with your neighbors. Fulke’s wife (probably his second, and not our ancestor) was a primary witness in one famous witchcraft trial, which revealed her to be a rather unpleasant person herself.

To be fair to our forebears, we can’t claim to be any better. A glimpse of our own society seen through the lens of court documents would be far worse, and in the 21st century we have shown ourselves just as ready as in the 17th to gossip and accuse and participate in witch hunts.

But it was painful reading, and I’m glad to leave behind speculation about the character of Fulke Davis, his family, and his neighbors, and move on to genealogical gleanings.

One of the founders of the Hartford, Connecticut, was named Fulke Davy. Not much seems to be known about him, but the following suggests that he is one and the same with the Fulke Davis who first appeared in Southampton, Long Island, around 1642. Note that this contradicts the widespread belief (in my sources and many others I did not include) that the forebears of Jonathan and Elnathan Davis came to Long Island from Swansea, Massachusetts, where they had settled in the 1660’s—and in particular that Jonathan was born in Swansea. Nonetheless it is very suggestive.

Fulke Davy sold his house and lot to Nathaniel Ward before Jan., 1639-40, and probably removed from Hartford; he witnessed a grant from Jas. Fasaett to Lion Gardner, of Isle of Wight [later Gardiner’s Island], March 10, 1639-40; signed the petition from Jamaica, Middleborough, and Hempated [Hempstead], L. I., to be taken under Conn. government.

Fulke later moved to East Hampton, possibly living for a while on Gardiner’s Island. From there he removed to Brookhaven, and finally to Jamaica (now part of Queens), where he died.

Fulke Davis was possibly born in Wales or England about 1615, and died in Jamaica, Long Island, about 1687. He married, first, a woman whose name is unknown, probably about 1639, and second, Mary Dayton, a widow, about 1660. Mary Dayton, whose maiden name is unknown, had first married James Haines, then Ralph Dayton, before marrying Fulke Davis. Fulke’s known children, all by his first marriage, were Benjamin, Joseph, Samuel, Jonathan, Sarah, and John. It is likely there were several more.

An important key to this puzzle comes from evidence that, around 1700, a Mary Davis was one of the first settlers of Maidenhead (now Lawrenceville), New Jersey, which is near Trenton. She came with three sons: Jonathan, Elnathan, and Samuel. Even though a brother Samuel was never mentioned by name in all the references I’ve found to the Jonathan and Elnathan Davis that clearly belong to my ancestral lines, it’s clear that these are the same people.

Here’s the linchpin, from Records of the Town of Jamaica, Long Island (emphasis mine):

Mary Daves of West Jarzey in ye County of Bur-
lingtone sendeth greetting Know yea that I ye abovesd 
Mary Davess beinge the widdow & relleckt of Samuell
Davis latte of Jamaica in Queens County deseast beinge
appointed & consstetuted by my husband aforsd in his
last will & testement to be his wholl & sole exceketricks
to se his will performed & likewise being Choasen & ap
poynted by my three sons Jonathan Samuell & Ellnathan
Daves to be their garudden to sell....
... a sartain parcell of land bounded north by ye
high way runing to ye Little Plaines & south wth ye bogges
lyinge together which makes a necke of land….

From this we see that the Mary Davis who moved to Maidenhead (then part of Burlington County), with sons Jonathan, Elnathan, and Samuel, came from Jamaica, Long Island, and was the widow of Samuel Davis.  We can also assign possible birth years for Samuel (about 1777) and Elnathan (about 1779), based on Jonathan's birth year of 1775, the order in which Mary names her sons, and the fact that elsewhere she refers to Jonathan as her eldest son.

But was this Samuel Davis the son of Fulke Davis? Here again from the Jamaica town records:

Know all men whom it may consern that I Fulck
Davis Inhabitant of Jamaica in the North Rideing of
yorkshire on Long Iseland have and doe by these presents
freely give and make over unto my son Samuell Davis
Inhabitant of the same place to him his heirs and Asignes
the one half of my ten acre Lot Lying and being on
the west of the sayde Samuell Davises Lot....

This confirms that Fulke had a son named Samuel, and The Ancestry and Posterity of Joseph Davis claims his son Samuel’s wife was named Mary. But are these the same people? Once again from the Jamaican town records (emphasis mine):

Samuell Davis hath allsoe a pese of Land Layde out
of aboute twenty acres Lying and being on the east side
of the rest of his Land which is made a kinde of a neck of
Land by two boggy Medowse. The which nek of Land
is whoely Layd out to the sayde Samuell Davis for
twenty acres of Land more or les onely a litle poynte that
Lyeth on the south east end of the sayde Neck the sayde
Land runing northward to the cart path that goeth
through Samuell Milses Lot to the south end of the
litle playnes.

It’s confusing, but the similarity of this description of the land owned by Samuel, the son of Fulke, with the land being sold by Mary, the widow of Samuel, convinces me that they are one and the same. Jonathan, Elnathan, and Samuel, then, are Fulke’s grandsons.

If so, there are still some puzzling questions. First, the question of origin: From Wales or England to Swansea, Massachusetts, and thence to Long Island in the early 1660’s, or from an unknown immigration point to Hartford, Connecticut before landing in Long Island in the early 1640’s?

Many who claim a Swansea, Massachusetts origin for Jonathan Davis say that he was a Baptist, possibly of the Seventh Day variety, from the start. Fulke was a Puritan, and a rogue. If he is the progenitor, how did Jonathan and Elnathan rise to become so successful, and to found a dynasty of Seventh Day Baptists? The first church established in Maidenhead was most likely Puritan in nature, but it soon became Presbyterian, and Jonathan, Elnathan, and Samuel were members. By 1708 Jonathan had become a Baptist preacher, and at some point after that converted to the Sabbatarian branch. 

The Conclusions, in Summary

(My direct ancestors are shown in blue.) 

Fulke Davis was possibly born in Wales or England about 1615. He may have been the Fulk Davy who was one of the founders of Hartford and moved soon thereafter to Long Island, although there is much tradition that the Long Island Davises came from Swansea, Massachusetts. There is a substantial tradition (partly backed by court records) that Fulke was not a pleasant person. He appears on Long Island first at Southampton, then in East Hampton, possibly living for a while on Gardiner’s Island. From there he removed to Brookhaven, and finally to Jamaica (now part of Queens), where he died in about 1687. He married, first, an unknown wife, probably about 1639, and second, Mary Dayton, a widow, about 1660. Mary Dayton, whose maiden name is unknown, had first married James Haines, then Ralph Dayton, before marrying Fulke Davis. Fulke’s known children were all by his first marriage. It is likely there were more.

  1. Benjamin Davis was born in 1640. He died on December 20, 1692 at the age of 52 in Southampton, Long Island.
  2. Joseph Davis was born about 1645 in Southampton, Long Island. He died in 1691 at the age of 46 in Brookhaven, Long Island.
  3. Samuel Davis (see below)
  4. Jonathan Davis died in 1674 in Jamaica, Long Island.
  5. Sarah Davis
  6. John Davis


Samuel Davis (Fulke-1) was born about 1643 in Southampton, Long Island, and died in 1692, at the age of 49, in Jamaica, Long Island. He married Mary (surname unknown). After his death, his widow moved to New Jersey with their known sons to become some of the earliest settlers of Maidenhead (now Lawrenceville), near Trenton.

  1. Rev. Jonathan Davis (see below)
  2. Elnathan Davis (see below)
  3. Samuel Davis, born perhaps about 1677, lived in Jamaica, Long Island, and about 1690 moved to Maidenhead, New Jersey with his mother and two brothers.


The Rev. Jonathan Davis (Samuel-2, Fulke-1) was born on May 15, 1675. He lived at Jamaica, Long Island, but about 1690, after his father died, he moved with his mother and two brothers to Maidenhead, New Jersey (near Trenton). He died between March 20, 1745 and April 17, 1746 at the age of 69 in Trenton, New Jersey. He was most likely a Puritan at first, then became a Presbyterian, and finally a Baptist preacher. Somewhere along the line he became convinced of the Sabbatarian way, and is considered the founder of the Seventh Day Baptist Church at Cohansey (Shiloh), New Jersey, though he was never officially their pastor. Jonathan was tall and fat, and thus was sometimes referred to as "the great high priest." He married Elizabeth Bowen, who was born on May 1, 1675, but they had no children, and he willed his property to his brother Elnathan's sons.

Elnathan Davis (Samuel-2, Fulke-1) was born perhaps around 1677. He lived at Jamaica, Long Island, but about 1690, after his father died, he moved with his mother and two brothers to Maidenhead, New Jersey (near Trenton). He was a surveyor, and apparently became the Surveyor General of New Jersey. The name of his wife is unknown, although it has been suggested that she was Hannah Housely. They had at least five children; these are the five sons named in the will of his brother, Jonathan.

  1. Elnathan Davis
  2. Rev. Jonathan Davis (see below)
  3. Nathan Davis
  4. Samuel Davis (see below)
  5. John Davis


The Rev. Jonathan Davis (Elnathan-3, Samuel-2, Fulke-1) was born about 1709. About 1731, in Cohansey, Salem County, New Jersey, he married Esther Ayars, the daughter of Isaac and Hannah (Barrett) Ayars. She was born about 1711 in Cohansey, and died after July 5 in Shiloh, Cumberland County, New Jersey. Jonathan was the first settled pastor of the Cohansey (Shiloh) Seventh Day Baptist Church, of which his grandfather Jonathan is considered the founder. He died on February 2, 1769.

Samuel Davis (Elnathan-3, Samuel-2, Fulke-1) was born April 3, 1713. On October 13, 1735, in Cohansey, Salem County, New Jersey, he married Anna Ayars, daughter of Isaac and Hannah (Barrett) Ayars and sister of Esther Ayars, above. She was born November 9, 1713, in Cohansey, and died September 20, 1783 in Shiloh, Cumberland County, New Jersey. Samuel died between August 30, 1785 and October 31, 1785, in Stow Creek Township, Cumberland County, New Jersey.

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Hezekiah Scovil Porter was the youngest of Wallace and Florence Gesner (Wells) Porter's seven children, born into the tiny town of Higganum, Connecticut on June 4, 1896. He attended The Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut.  It is now known as the school that "has educated generations of the upper-class New England establishment and the American political elite," but at the time it was only as old as Hezekiah himself. Twenty years later, John F. Kennedy would graduate from Choate, having been chosen by his class as the person "most likely to succeed." About Hezekiah, the Headmaster wrote:

Hezzie was always a man of deeds rather than of words.  And his influence either on the field, or in the classroom, or about School in general, was of the kind that very definitely made us a better School for his being part of it. In his Sixth Form year Hezzie was President of his class, and in the vote which was taken toward the close of the year, he was almost unanimously chosen as the member of his Form who had "done most for Choate." He was also voted—and there were no near competitors— the "most popular," as well as the man in his class "most to be admired."

But Hez never had his chance to become President.  As with many of his generation, his service ended on the battlefields of France. After graduating from Choate, Hezekiah attended Yale University. But he left during the fall of his sophomore year to join the Army. After four months he was at the front, and five months later he was killed in action near Chatêau-Thierry.

The following quote, and the one above, are taken from Yale in the World War, by George Henry Nettleton (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1925).  You can read a somewhat fuzzy but still legible copy of the article on Hezekiah Scovil Porter by clicking on the images in the middle of my Memorial Day, 2009 post.

On the morning of July 22, 1918, in the course of an American attack on Epieds, north of Château-Thierry, Hezekiah Scovil Porter, Private in the 101st Machine Gun Battalion, was killed in action. His diary closes abruptly with an entry recorded the night before while his company was awaiting the dawn which was to bring the expected advance. Next morning in the midst of the attack he met instant death in the open field as he was hurrying forward with ammunition for a machine gun.

Hezekiah Scovil Porter is my husband's granduncle.  That diary the article mentions?  Porter has it.  That is the reason for this post and the ones that will follow.  I will now step aside and let Porter take over.

One of my "95 by 65" goals is to transcribe Hezekiah's WW I diary.  I knew he had died on July 22, 1918 - but I didn't remember when he had started the diary.  Then I couldn't find the diary.  I had moved it to a "safe place" after I had last looked at it.  Finally, today, I found it again.  It turns out he started the diary October 9th, 1917 - so I am four months late starting a "100 years ago today" transcription.  Since that is the case I plan to have Linda put up two days of transcription each day, one for 100 years ago and one starting from October 9th and moving forward.  I think this will work out such that the missed entries will be finished before July 22 comes.  I hope this is of interest to all of you, and especially to my grandson Noah, who has Hezekiah's name as his middle name and also owns Hezekiah's schoolboy desk.

Thanks to Linda for "volunteering" to put this up on her blog.

Porter (Dad-o) Wightman, February 9, 2018.

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A National Public Radio story reports that the 2020 U. S. Census will ask more detailed questions about race and ethnicity, as shown to the left on one of the possible new forms. (Click image to enlarge.)

I can appreciate not being labelled simply as "white" as if some races have further identities but white is simply white. However, it sure complicates filling out the form, and I have my doubts about how much useful information it will generate. I know more about my ancestry than most Americans, and I can't answer this question.

There simply is no room in those boxes to enter "English-German-Welsh-Irish-Scottish-French-Dutch." And if I manage to confirm the (currently quite speculative) Swiss branch, is that really Swiss, given that the family came to Switzerland from Germany? Is my French really French, given that it is actually Norman French, and the Normans were largely invading Vikings from Scandinavia? There's a good chance much of my English is also orignally Scandinavian—DNA testing suggests this as well—and my Scottish may have been originally Irish and vice versa.

Given that my most recent immigrant ancestors came to this country in the 1700's, I think I'll fill in the blank with "American" and let the chips fall where they may. But I've only learned this information recently, after years of research.  That kind of research is even more difficult for African-Americans, thanks to slavery and the "1870's wall," but at least the census offers "African American" as a choice—which just happens to fit exactly into the boxes allowed. I suppose I could try "European American"—but that won't fit.

How many Americans know their ancestry further back than their grandparents, anyway?

There's going to be a lot of guesswork going on.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, February 9, 2018 at 7:51 am | Edit
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A few months after my recent work on the David Wood branch of my family, I learned about the Register of Cohansey Seventh Day Baptist Church, Shiloh, New Jersey, 1737-1830, by Ernest K. Bee, Jr. I tried in all my usual sources to find a copy:,,,,, the New York Public Library, the Internet Archive, Google Books…. Nada. Even the few that recognized the book could not point me to a library where it existed. acknowledged the book, but said it was unavailable. Ebay didn’t even mention it.

But what do they know? Google came through, finally, after some playing around with search terms, and sent me to Yes, the denomination still exists, though I’ve ever only heard of it in the context of early American history and my genealogical research. They have an online store, where they currently have available 15 books. One of those they list under the title, Register of Cohansey SDB Church, Shiloh, New Jersey, 1737-1830. It sells for $2.50—plus a flat $7.20 shipping charge, which made me wince but which I did not hesitate to fork over. At least that hefty fee earned me Priority Mail service, and the book arrived just a few days later.

What a find! This 83-page book would have been worth the cost just for what I learned about David Wood’s family, though I’m hoping to find more to help with other branches of that New Jersey line.

On August 16, 1975, while doing genealogical research among the records and documents of the Seventh Day Baptist Church, Shiloh, New Jersey, a Register for the years 1737-1830 was found. It was covered with oil cloth which was held on by cotton string pushed through the edges. The pages of the Register were deteriorating—crumbling and discolored from centuries of handling. The significance of the 1737 Register became more apparent as the section, “Births by Family Group,” was examined. In that section are listed parents and their children with their birthdates and often death dates.

Ernest K. Bee, Jr. created a “one for one complete copy of the original,” and that is my $10 treasure. It is sometimes frustrating, as many pages are blank, and important information is clearly missing, but ah, the information it does have!

One way in which this source is apparently unique is that it lists five children born to David Wood and his first wife, Lucy Lennox; all my other sources had concluded they had none. As a bonus, it gives clear birth dates for the children—and for Lucy as well. Unfortunately, it says nothing so clearly about his other wives and children, but as the Jews say, dayenu.

For the sake of recording the process of this research, I have included the text of my original David Wood post below, with the additions and corrections based on the Cohansey Church records shown in red. (Except for the final Conclusions section, which I have kept black.)


The Problem of David Wood, Updated January 29, 2018


The Puzzle

I’m pretty happy with the line of my family tree that goes up (on my father’s side) to David Wood, born May 1, 1778 in Stow Creek Township, Cumberland County, New Jersey, died there in 1828. He married, April 11, 1798, Mercia Davis, born July 15, 1777 in Cumberland County, died there December 1, 1823, daughter of Isaac and Mary Ann (David) Davis. I’m good with that.

I also have an okay line up from David’s grandfather, Jonathan Wood, who died in Cohansey, Salem County, New Jersey in 1727, and was married to Mary Ayers. This goes back to a John Wood who died at Portsmouth, Rhode Island in 1655. Details are sparse, but at least the line is there.

The problem, as is often the case, is in the middle.

I know that David Wood, Jr.’s father was David Wood, Sr., son of Jonathan and Mary (Ayers) Wood. But David Wood, Sr. had three known wives, and what details are known have few dates associated with them. I’m convinced that David Jr.’s mother was named Prudence Bowen; I haven’t found her parents, though supposedly she was the sister of David and Jonathan Bowen, of Bowentown, Cumberland County, New Jersey. Am I certain enough to put time into following the Bowen line? Probably, though not now. 

I’m not at all certain my logic will convince anyone else, but I’m equally uncertain I’ll get any better documentation. As one of my correspondents understated, "New Jersey records are very hard to find."

I’m accustomed to working with New England ancestors, and, say what you want about the Puritans, those folks knew how to keep records. And when something like engaging in illicit sex or selling liquor to Indians lands you in the court dockets, that’s a bad thing for you but a great thing for future genealogists.


The Sources

Vital records (birth, marriage, death), church records, wills, and probate records are wonderful genealogical resources, since they are usually contemporaneous with the events they describe. That’s not to say they’re without error, but they are generally considered reliable. New Jersey was not as good as New England at keeping these early records, but I found some.

  • New Jersey, Marriage Records, 1683-1802 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011, v. 22 p. 52 Prudence Bowen and Simeon Roberts, and v. 22 p. 335 Prudence Roberts and David Wood. (Original data: New Jersey State Archives. New Jersey, Published Archives Series, First Series. Trenton, New Jersey: John L Murphy Publishing Company.)
  • "New Jersey, Deaths, 1670-1988," database, FamilySearch ( : 18 October 2017), Anley McWood, May 1853; citing Roadstown, Cumberland, New Jersey, United States, Division of Archives and Record Management, New Jersey Department of State, Trenton.; FHL microfilm 493,711.
  • New Jersey, Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011, v. 9, Abstracts of Wills, pp. 50-51 Jonathan Bowen, and pp. 419-420, David Wood Sr. (Original data: New Jersey State Archives. New Jersey, Published Archives Series, First Series. Trenton, New Jersey: John L Murphy Publishing Company.)
  • Ernest K. Bee Jr., Register of Cohansey Seventh Day Baptist Church, Shiloh, New Jersey 1737-1830 (Plainfield, New Jersey: Seventh-Day Baptist Publishing House, 1976), pp. 3, 35.

Although published genealogies are far from primary sources, they are usually—according to my contact at the New England Historic Genealogical Society—reasonably reliable on the American side of the Atlantic Ocean, even though many fictitious across-the-pond connections abound. Therefore I’m designating these sources as credible, if not as good as primary sources.

  • Bruce W. David, The David Family Scrapbook: Genealogy of Owen David, Volume 5 (3223 Ormond Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio: Bruce W. David, Volume 5, 1964), pp. 315-316.
  • Gilbert Cope, Genealogy of the Sharpless Family Descended from John and Jane Sharples, Settlers Near Chester, Pennsylvania, 1682: Together with some account of The English Ancestry of the Family, including the results of researches by Henry Fishwick, F.H.S., and the late Joseph Lemuel Chester, LL.D.; and a full report of the bi-centennial reunion of 1882 (Philadelphia: For the family, under the auspices of the Bicentennial committee, 1887), p. 545.
  • Dorothy Wood Ewers, Descendants of John Wood: A Mariner who died in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, in 1655 (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Ewers, 1978), pp. 54-56.

Family tree date abounds online, and its credibility is exceedingly variable. Some online trees are maintained by excellent, sometimes professional, researchers. Some contain undocumented but accurate personal memories. And there are also many, many trees that have merely copied someone else’s data that is entirely wrong—a widespread propagation of error. Unless something about the source convinces me otherwise, I consider this data suspect, but it can still be a source of ideas and hints.

  • Family tree data from,, and other Internet sites. 


The Data

From the David Family Scrapbook

David Wood Jr. was born May 1, 1778, the son of David Wood, Sr. and Elizabeth Russell.

From the Sharpless Genealogy

David Wood (Sr.) died about 1798, “aged over 70.” His wives and children:

  1. Lucy Lennox, no issue.
  2. Prudence, sister of David and Jonathan Bowen of Bowentown, Cumberland County, New Jersey. Children:
    1. David Jr., born May 1, 1778 in Stow Creek, Cumberland County, New Jersey; married April 11, 1798, Mercia Davis, daughter of Isaac and Mary Anna Davis.
    2. Auley McCalla
    3. Sarah
    4. Prudence
  3. Elizabeth Russell. Children:
    1. John
    2. Lucy
    3. Richard

From Descendants of John Wood

David Wood, Sr. was born 1721, died 1794 in Stow Creek, New Jersey, “over 70.” His will was written March 10, 1794, proved January 18, 1798. Two scenarios are presented for his wives and children, from different correspondents:

  1. Lucy Lennox, no children.
  2. Prudence Bowen, married 1777. Children:
    1. David
    2. Auley
    3. Sarah
    4. Prudence
  3. Elizabeth Russell, married in 1786. Children:
    1. John
    2. Lucy
    3. Elizabeth
    4. Richard

Alternatively, the following children, not assigned to mothers, and in no particular order (clearly taken from David’s will, see below):

  • Sarah
  • Prudence
  • Lucy
  • Obadiah
  • James
  • Phebe
  • Lydia
  • Aulay McAuliff (McCalfa, McCalla)
  • David
  • John

From New Jersey Marriage Records

I find nothing for a Prudence Bowen marrying a David Wood, but there are these records of marriage licenses issued:

  • Prudence Bowen of New Town and Simon Roberts of Philadelphia, June 14, 1762.
  • Prudence Roberts of Cumberland and David Wood of Salem, July 9, 1777.

It’s likely that these represent the first and second marriages of the same person, especially since that agrees with the 1777 date in Descendants of John Wood.

From New Jersey Deaths, 1670-1988

Anley McWood (Auley McCalla Wood). Death, May 1853, Roadstown, Cumberland, New Jersey. Residence Stoe Creek, Cumberland, New Jersey. Male, age 69, occupation farmer. Estimated birth year 1784. Birthplace Stoe Creek, Cumberland, New Jersey. Father David Wood, mother Prudence Wood.

From New Jersey Abstract of Wills

  • Will of Jonathan Bowen, February 21, 1804. He was likely the Jonathan, brother of David of Bowentown, mentioned in Sharpless above, hence brother to David Wood’s wife Prudence. Among many other bequests, he leaves a share of his household goods to “my niece, Mary Roberts,” strengthening the notion that this Prudence was once married to Simeon Roberts.
  • Will of David Wood, Sr. of Stow Creek Township, Cumberland County, March 10, 1794. 

Wife, Elizabeth, 1/3 of personal. Son, Obadiah, £50. Daughters, Sarah, Prudence, and Lucy Wood, son, John, and if wife should be pregnant, the said child; the remainder of personal, divided between them, when of age. Son, John, to be put to a trade, when 14. To heirs of son James, 5 shillings. To heirs of daughter, Phebe, 5 shillings. To heirs of daughter Lydia, 5 shillings. Son, David, 4 acres of woodland bounded by land of David Gilman, Dorcas Bennett to John Dare’s land; also 10 acres of marsh in Stathem’s neck. Son, Aulay McCalla Wood, remainder of home plantation with buildings; also remainder of swamp at Stathem’s neck; should said sons, David or Aulay McCalla, die before of age, said property to the survivor of them. Executor—Azariah Moore, Esq. Witnesses—George Burgin, Mary More and Martha More. Proved Jan. 18, 1798.

January 10, 1798. Inventory, £221.9; made by Joel Fithian and David Gilman.

January 18, 1798. Azariah Moore, having renounced the Executorship. Adm’r—C.T.A.—Jonathan Bowen. Fellowbondsman—Benjamin Dare.

From Register of Cohansey Seventh Day Baptist Church

Luce (Lucy) Lennox was born 3 January 1718.

Luce (Lucy) Lennox was baptized 27 May 1739. (This says nothing about her birth, because the Cohansey church baptized only professing believers, not children.)

 David and Lucy (Lennox) Wood had the following children:

  • Mary, born 11 December 1748
  • James, born 4 December 1750
  • Pheby (Phebe), born 25 November 1753, died 19 May 1789
  • Obadiah, born 28 February 1756
  • Lidya (Lydia), born 26 May 1758

From assorted online family tree data

David Wood Sr. was born 1721 or 1740, died 1798, married Lucy Lennox 1760.

Lucy Lennox was born 1742, died 1773. Her children were Obadiah (born 1760), James (born 1760), Phebe (born 1762), Richard (born 1768).

Prudence Bowen was born in 1754, died in 1778, married David Wood 1774. Her children were Prudence (born 1776), Sarah S. (born 1776 or 1777 or 1779), Auley (born 1775).

Elizabeth Russell was born in 1755, died in 1797, married David wood in 1779. Her children were Prudence (born 1776 died 1777), Lydia (born 1778), Elizabeth (born 1779), David (born 1778), Lucy (born 1767), John (born 1780).

Simeon Roberts, born about 1735 in Philadelphia, died about 1766 (probate) in Philadelphia, married Prudence Bowen (born 1740 in Newton, Sussex, New Jersey) June 14, 1762 in New Jersey. Their child: John (born about 1780).

And more. The data is inconsistent and confusing as well as unreliable.


The Questions

So what can I make of all this?

First of all, let’s deal with the name of one of David’s sons: Auley McCalla Wood. By his death record, Auley McCalla is definitely established as the child of David and Prudence Wood. But what kind of a name is that for a child? First of all, despite the alternate spellings given in Descendants of John Wood, Auley (or Aulay) McCalla is probably correct. The name shows up more than once in New Jersey; David Wood’s child was no doubt named after a friend, or someone his parents respected.

The will of David Wood is a most interesting document, and I’m sorry I only have an abstract to work with. Struggling with hand-written wills is hard on both the eyes and the brain, but can give insights a summary misses. Still, the abstract is much better than nothing.

Of the thirteen children mentioned in the combined sources—David, Auley McCalla, Sarah, Prudence, John, Lucy, Richard, Elizabeth, Obadiah, James, Phebe, Lydia, and Mary—three are missing from the will. For that time period, it’s not unlikely that Mary, Richard and Elizabeth had died before the will was made, so there’s no need to assume they’re extraneous additions to the records. Three others—James, Phebe, and Lydia are mentioned only in that their heirs receive bequests. Phebe we now know had died by the time the will was made, and it’s likely James and Lydia had also, though not as children, since they had heirs. Mary, Richard, and Elizabeth almost certainly died before marrying and having children.

That Elizabeth Russell was David’s third wife is supported by the mention of Elizabeth in his will. Next comes Obadiah. It’s not specified that he is the firstborn, but that’s customary, and as he’s bequeathed his £50 outright, he must have been at least 21 years old in 1794, unlike Sarah, Prudence, Lucy, John, David, and Auley McCalla, who are clearly not yet of age. John is something less than 14 in 1794, making him born after 1780. Since we now know that James was the actual first born son, the bequest to Obadiah is further indication that James was no longer living when his father made his will.

The five-shilling bequests to the heirs of children James, Phebe, and Lydia are another puzzle. Why the heirs? Are James, Phebe, and Lydia older, married … and dead? Or did David just want to leave something directly to his grandchildren (sadly, unnamed)? In any case these three children seem to be married and on their own. I’m trying to be grateful to David for actually leaving a will, since many did not, instead of wanting to shake him by the shoulders and demand to know why he didn’t include surnames for most of the people he mentions. Sadly, it appears that James, Phebe, and Lydia were indeed married, on their own, and dead.

But whose are these children?

One scenario is that Obadiah, James, Phebe, and Lydia are Prudence’s children from her first marriage. It’s possible, because there were15 years between her first and second marriages, if the dates are right. But I think it more likely that they were Lucy Lennox’s children, already grown and on their own by the time their father made his will. Of course it’s possible that Lucy simply didn’t have any children; infertility is not exclusively a modern problem. But David specifically names these children as his. On the other hand, relationship naming was more fluid in the past: When a document specifies “my brother” or “my uncle,” for example, it does not necessarily mean by these terms what we do now.

One thing that speaks to these children being Prudence’s by her first husband is the naming patterns. It seems unusual for David to have at least two sons before giving one of them his own name. He did have an uncle Obadiah, as well as an uncle John. The sources of the names Lucy, Prudence, and Elizabeth are obvious, though if James, Phebe, Lydia, Richard, Sarah, or Auley McCalla are in his family tree, I don’t know about it. But I can’t find any information on children for Prudence and Simeon, nor for Lucy and David, to help solve the puzzle. I think it more likely these are Lucy’s children, but I may be wrong. Again, the church records render this speculation unnecessary: These children, plus Mary, are definitely Lucy’s, and I was right.

Wills often name children in order of their birth, but sometimes that order is within categories, such as all sons and then daughters. In this case, I would guess that Sarah, Prudence, Lucy, and John are listed from oldest to youngest; likewise James, Phebe, and Lydia; also that David is older than Auley McCalla, which we already know from their birthdates. In the case of James, Phebe, and Lydia, this is no longer a guess. 

Figuring out birth order between one category and another is more of a problem. Unlike most of my sources, I place Sarah and Prudence between David and Auley McCalla because of the large gap in the latter’s birthdates, although it’s possible that Prudence was born last and her mother died in childbirth.

Although it is speculation on my part, here is the scenario as I imagine it. As was customary, David’s widow received 1/3 of the personal property—as I understand it, this is pretty much everything that’s not land. It was valued at £221.9, so her share would have been £74. (Or possibly £57, if Obadiah’s £50 was deducted before the division. I’m afraid I don’t know enough about legal language when it comes to wills.) That makes Obadiah’s portion a pretty large chunk of the estate, but it was not unusual back then for the firstborn (or eldest living) son to inherit more than his siblings.

The remainder of the personal property was to be divided amongst Sarah, Prudence, Lucy, and John, probably the youngest children. This suggests that the older children may have already received gifts of goods and property and were perhaps living on their own. The older girls were no longer living, and the boys are dealt with below.

David and Auley each received land. Since Auley was given the “remainder of the home plantation with buildings,” I imagine the older sons (probably Obadiah and James) had been given their shares of the land already. Why was John to be “put to a trade” (I assume apprenticed) when 14? Perhaps the land suitable for farming had already been apportioned. Maybe John didn’t want to be a farmer, and his father supported that preference, although he seems to have been too young for that to be likely. Even though James was dead at this point, he still may have received land earlier, since he had children already. Obadiah most likely did. Wills often mention earlier gifts, but not always.

Why were the heirs of James, Phebe, and Lydia given five shillings? Such an amount was not insignificant, but at 20 shillings to the pound, barely a drop in the estate bucket. Was it meant to be just a token for small children from Grandpa? If there were bad relations in the family and he wanted to insult them, I imagine he would have done it for even less money. As stated above, discovery of the record of David and Lucy’s children makes it almost certain that this was a case of children having died before the will was made, and not some ill will in the family. Five shillings each for possibly a good number of grandchildren could add up to something that is a more significant bequest than it at first seems.

Was David Wood, Sr. really born in 1721? It seems a reasonable approximation, if it is true that he was “over 70” when he died, which was somewhere in the range 1794-1798. That makes him apparently much older than his wives, though I don't have documented birth dates for any of them. I've also seen an unsourced birth year of 1740 often suggested for David Sr. But it's not impossible that he really was that old—one of my own great-grandfathers was 59 before producing any children. Absent any compelling evidence to the contrary, I’ll stick with the earlier date, though since I think it’s a guess from the uncertain death date, I’d put it more at about 1725. Now I’m much more likely to agree with Descendants of John Wood on the 1721 date, though I still have no hard evidence for it. But Lucy Lennox was born in 1718, and for a man to be three years younger than his wife is more likely than that he be seven years older. It might have been even earlier, since “over 70” covers a lot of ground.

The discovery of the Cohansey church records also makes me willing to speculate on a marriage date of about 1746 for David and Lucy—based on the birth of the eldest recorded child, Mary. David would have been 25 years old and Lucy 28, a bit old for those times, but it’s the best evidence I have.


The Conclusions

Always being ready to scrap speculations in light of new data, this is what I now believe about David Wood, Sr.

David Wood, Sr. was born about 1721, probably in Salem County, New Jersey. (Cumberland County was formed in 1748 from the west side of Salem County.) He died between March 10, 1794 and January 18, 1798, in Stow Creek Township, Cumberland County, New Jersey. David married three times.

His first wife was Lucy Lennox, born January 3, 1718, baptized May 27, 1739, and died before July 1777. They had five children, probably born at Shiloh, Cumberland County, New Jersey.

  1. Mary, born December 11, 1748
  2. James, born December 4, 1750
  3. Phebe, born November 25, 1753, died May 19, 1789
  4. Obadiah, born February 28, 1756
  5. Lydia, born May 26, 1758

He married, second, about July 9, 1777, Prudence Bowen, the sister of David and Jonathan Bowen of Bowentown, Cumberland County, New Jersey. She had married, first, about 14 July 1762, Simeon Roberts of Philadelphia. Prudence died before 1786.

David Wood and Prudence Bowen had the following children (order uncertain).

  1. David Wood, Jr., born May 1, 1778, died in 1828. He married, April 11, 1798, Mercia Davis, born July 15, 1777 in Cumberland County, New Jersey, and died there December 1, 1823, daughter of Isaac and Mary Ann (David) Davis.
  2. Sarah S.
  3. Prudence
  4. Auley McCalla, born about 1784, died May 1853, Roadstown, Cumberland County, New Jersey (residing in Stow Creek, Cumberland County, New Jersey).

In 1786 David married, third, Elizabeth Russell. (This may be a married name from a previous marriage.) Their children (order uncertain) were probably

  1. Elizabeth, died before 1794
  2. Richard, died before 1794
  3. Lucy
  4. John


The ancestry of David Wood, Sr., taken from Descendants of John Wood, is, in an abbreviated form, as follows:

John Wood, died 1655 in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, married ---- ----.

John Wood, born 1620, died August 26, 1704 in Little Compton, Rhode Island, married Anna ----.

Jonathan Wood, born August 26, 1658 in Springfield, Massachusetts, died 1715, married, by 1692, Mercy Banbury.

Jonathan Wood, died 1727 in Cohansey, Salem County, New Jersey, married Mary Ayers.

David Wood, Sr., as above.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, January 29, 2018 at 1:46 pm | Edit
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In 1944, my grandparents moved across the continent from Pullman, Washington to Rochester, New York, where my grandfather worked until he retired in 1969. This film, made in 1963, gives glimpses of their Rochester. The Rochester they watched as it developed.

We visited them at least once a year when I was young, but I remember little of the city from then. Most of my memories are from my own time in Rochester, from 1970 through 1983. That's close enough to 1963 for this video to have sparked many memories, from the Midtown Plaza Clock of the Nations to Letchworth State Park to the Spring House restaurant, where we had our wedding rehearsal dinner. Not to mention the University of Rochester, the Lilac Festival in Highland Park, and the old familiar industries and landmarks.

By the time our daughter returned to attend the Eastman School of Music at the end of the century, Rochester was a different city, with much of the industry gone or on the way out. A telling quote from Wikipedia about the Eastman Kodak Company, once virtually synonymous with Rochester, is this: Although Kodak developed a digital camera in 1975, the first of its kind, the product was dropped for fear it would threaten Kodak's photographic film business. They had forgotten, perhaps, the film's admonition that if a company (or a city) does not change, change will come in ways unexpected and unpleasant.

Rochester is still a lovely city, and I sure miss "the splendor of a Western New York apple," though I don't think anyone's bragging about the traffic situation anymore. Our children, and perhaps even my siblings, are too young to remember when life was like this, but I hope they'll still enjoy this bit of history, which is part of the world of my childhood. I only wish I could talk with my grandparents about the Rochester they knew.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, January 21, 2018 at 7:19 am | Edit
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With the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle making the news, and my old friend Gary Boyd Roberts* and the New England Historic Genealogical Society providing temptation in the way of an article and a handy genealogy chart, I decided to spend some time trying to link their data with my own. And indeed, I could. As it turns out, Meghan Markle is my 23rd cousin, once removed, with common ancestors King Edward I of England (Longshanks) and Eleanor of Castile, through American immigrant ancestor Robert Abell. Through the same common ancestors (but a mostly different line on his part, of course), I am also Prince Harry's 23rd cousin, once removed. Yes, this means that Prince Charles is my 23rd cousin, and Queen Elizabeth II is my 22nd cousin, once removed. Who knew?

Similarly, Porter is 23rd cousin three times removed to both of them, with common ancestor King John (Lackland) of England and his mistress, Clemence, through the American immigrant ancestor Thomas Yale.

Not that I can claim anything special in all this. Millions of Americans are cousins to the new royal couple. They just don't know it—as I did not until now.  But I love puzzles, and have finally learned—no thanks at all to my school experiences—that history is fascinating.


*That is, we shared three or four conversations over several years, and his works have been very helpful in my research. He's also a Langdon, albeit from a different branch from ours.
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 7:46 am | Edit
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It's all too easy, when one's eyes and mind are blurred by immersion in a sea of birth, death, and marriage data (or worse, the lack thereof), to forget that our ancestors were real people who laughed and cried and joked, just as we do. Then, every once in a while, you come upon something that wakes you up, such as a comment from Dr. Lewis Newton Wood, my great-great-great grandfather.

Lewis Newton Wood, son of David and Mercia (Davis) Wood, was born in southern New Jersey, on January 12, 1799. In 1821 he married Naomi Dunn Davis, born September 8, 1800, the daughter of David and Naomi (Dunn) Davis. Their first child, my great-great grandfather, was born in New Jersey, but the other seven of their children were born after they moved to upstate New York, near Syracuse. There, Lewis taught school, and in 1836 he graduated from the newly-formed Geneva Medical College, then part of Geneva College, which is now Hobart and William Smith. The medical school itself is now SUNY Upstate University. Perhaps the most famous graduate of the Geneval Medical College is Elizabeth Blackwell, Class of 1849, America's first licensed female physician.

Lewis moved to Chicago to practice medicine, and his family followed a year later, after which they migrated some 90 miles northwest to become some of the earliest settlers of Walsorth, Wisconsin. Eighteen years later they moved to their final destination, about 100 miles further north and west, to Baraboo, Wisconsin. There, Lewis died in 1868, and Naomi in 1883; they are buried in the Walnut Hill Cemetery in Baraboo. My great-great grandfather, incidentally, continued the family's northward and westward migration, moving first to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and finally to the west coast of Washington.

Lewis was not only a teacher, doctor, pioneer, and probably farmer (given that he lived on 360 acres in Big Foot Prairie), but also an amateur geologist who made notable scientific contributions, one of the founders of a school of higher education for girls in Baraboo, and a member of the Wisconsin state legislature. He even has his own Wikipedia entry, a link I incude with the standard Wikipedia cautionary tale about not believing everything you read, since some of the facts about him are wrong.

After that historical and genealogical excursion, I arrive at the reason for this post, the saying of Lewis Newton Wood's that struck my funny bone. It's taken from Gilbert Cope's Genealogy of the Sharpless Family Descended from John and Jane Sharples, Settlers Near Chester, Pennsylvania, 1682.

All my progenitors were Baptists of the Orthodox belief, i.e. Calvinists; and that is my own religious belief, except with the Calvinism pretty much left out.

Which may explain why this Baptist's funeral was held in a Methodist church. I know, it actually makes sense when you dig into the history of the Baptist Church, but still....

I like an ancestor with a sense of humor.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, November 4, 2017 at 11:34 am | Edit
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Another genealogical puzzle with my research and conclusions.

The Problem of Jonathan Stoddard Wightman’s Wife

The Puzzle

There are two men named Jonathan Stoddard Wightman in my family tree. One, who was born May 22, 1830, in Bristol, Hartford County, Connecticut, and died on September 9, 1893, in South Meriden, New Haven County, Connecticut. On April 26, 1855, he married Olive Fidelia Davis, born April 26, 1833 in Meriden, died March 13, 1903, in Southington, Hartford County, Connecticut, daughter of Zina and Amanda (Stevens) Davis. There’s work I could still do on this family, but I’m happy with what I have.

His parents were Elbridge M. Wightman, born about 1800 in Southington, died April 14, 1875 in Bristol. On June 17, 1829, in Bristol, he married Ursula Perkins, born 1812 in Southington, died August 7, 1889 in Bristol. She was the daughter of Elijah Mark Perkins and Polly Yale, who has an interesting line of her own.

The problem comes with Elbridge Wightman’s father, the first Jonathan Stoddard. He was born July 17, 1765 in Groton, New London County, Connecticut, and died April 18, 1816 in Southington. His second wife was Hannah Williams, who had married, first, Dr. John Hart of Southington.

His first wife, the mother of all but one of his children, is the unknown.


The Sources

  • Wade C. Wightman, The Wightman Ancestry, including "George Wightman of Quidnessett, RI (1632 - 1721/2) and Descendants" by Mary Ross Whitman (Chelsea, MI: Bookcrafters, 1994), pp. 96-97.
  • The American Genealogist, New Haven, Connecticut: D. L. Jacobus, 1937-. (Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009 - .), v. 25, Donald Lines Jacobus, "The ‘Other’ Gilletts” pp. 174-191.
  • Bertha Bortle Beal Aldridge, Gillet, Gillett, Gillette families, including some of the descendants of the immigrants Jonathan Gillet and Nathan Gillet...also of the descendants of Barton Ezra Gillet, 1800-1955 (Victor, N.Y:, 1955), p. 25.
  • Esther Gillett Latham, Genealogical data concerning the families of Gillet-Gillett-Gillette : chiefly pertaining to the descendants of Jonathan Gillet... (Somerville, Massachusetts:, 1953), 70.
  • Lorraine Cook White, The Barbour collection of Connecticut town vital records (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1994), Colchester 103 (Gillett), Farmington 55-56 (Gillett).
  • Connecticut, Church Record Abstracts, 1630-1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: 2013., Southington v107 p17, Gillet.
  • Connecticut, Wills and Probate Records, 1609-1999 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015., Hartford Probate Records v1-3, pp196-197 Zachariah Gillet. Also Hartford Probate Packets, pp 916-933 Zachariah Gillet, and Hartford Probate Packets, pp 81-82, Nehemiah Gillet.
  • Personal conversation with genealogist Gary Boyd Roberts of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Family notes of Elinor (Wightman) (Fredrickson) Fisher, 3rd great-granddaughter of the Jonathan Stoddard Wightman in question.


The Data

From Ellie Fisher’s Notes 

Jonathan Stoddard Wightman’s first wife was Patty Hillet. 

From the Wightman Ancestry

He married first, Mercy (Patty) Gillet, baptized 1768, daughter, probably, of Zachariah Gillet. (No date given, but their first child was born about 1789.)

From The ‘Other Gilletts’ TAG article

Donald Lines Jacobus presents an ancestral line from William Gillett of Somerset, England, through his son Jeremiah, ending with a daughter of Zachariah Gillett and his third wife, Sarah: Mercy, born at Southington, baptized September 4, 1768.  

From Gillet, Gillett, Gillette Families

Bertha Bortle Beal Aldridge presents a different ancestral line from William Gillett of Somerset, this one through his son Jonathan, ending with a daughter of Nehemiah Gillet and his second wife, Martha Storrs: Martha, no dates given.

From Genealogical Data Concerning the Families of Gillet-Gillett-Gillette

Esther Gillett Latham presents the line through Jonathan and Nehemiah m. Martha Stoors, showing daughter Martha born April 12, 1767.

From the Barbour records

Colchester: Martha, daughter of Nehemiah and Martha, born April 12, 1767.

Farmington: several of Zachariah and Sarah’s children are listed, but several are missing, including Mercy.

Southington: there are no Gillets mentioned at all.

From Connecticut Church Record Abstracts

Records the baptism, on September 4, 1768, of Mercy Gillet, daughter of Zecheriah, in Southington.

From Connecticut Wills and Probate Records

Zachariah’s will, although it names Mercy as his daughter, mentions no married name for her. The will was written in November 1789. The probate papers show that she is still unmarried in March 1791. Also that Zachariah’s wife is named as Rhoda, and in March 1791 is known as Rhonda Frisbee.

Nehemiah’s will, written in July 1807, names his daughter Martha, still single at that time.

From a conversation with Gary Boyd Roberts

He mentioned that Jonathan Stoddard Wightman’s first wife was Martha Gillet.


The Questions

What was her name?

I respect personal information in the memory and records of family members, but am inclined to conclude that “Hillet” in the Ellie Fisher notes was, somewhere along the line, a misreading of “Gillet.”  That settled, all sources agree on her last name. Her first name is a different story.

Ellie Fisher names her Patty; Wightman Ancestry has Mercy (Patty). According to the published lines from William Gillett, if her father is Zachariah, her name is Mercy; if he’s Nehemiah, she’s Martha. Unfortunately, both of these lines stop with Mercy/Martha; no marriage is recorded for either of them. But I have found no other reasonable suggestions for the parentage of Jonathan Stoddard Wightman’s wife.

In favor of the Nehemiah line (Martha): “Patty” is a common nickname for Martha, but uncommon for Mercy. My admiration for Gary Boyd Roberts as a genealogist is great, and he said her name was Martha. On the other hand, it was a very short, casual conversation and the information was off the top of his head, so I don’t want to rely too much on his memory.

In favor of the Zachariah line: The only printed source that records her marriage to Jonathan Stoddard Wightman (Wightman Ancestry) calls this line “probable” and mentions no other. But the most significant factor, I believe, is that this line places her in Southington (Hartford County), where all their children were born, whereas the other line is in Colchester (New London County).

When was she born? With the Nehemiah line, I have a birthdate: April 12, 1767. For the Zachariah line, there is only a baptism date: September 4, 1768. To say “about 1768” hedges my bets nicely.

When were Patty Gillet and Jonathan Stoddard Wightman married? Wightman Ancestry gives the birth of their first child as “about 1789” based on a death date of July 13, 1864 and an age at death of 75. This is consistent with census and gravestone data. Yet Zachariah’s probate records show Mercy as unmarried in March of 1791. (She signs her name “Mercy Gillet” and there is no mention of a husband.)  Even if she was married that year, the timing is a little uncomfortable for the Zachariah line.

But the Nehemiah line is worse: Martha was still single when her father wrote his will in 1807, by which time all nine of J. S. Wightman’s children had been born.

Why didn’t these girls get married before their fathers wrote their wills? It would have made things so much clearer. But I think, after all, it is clear enough. The evidence of the wills, combined with the evidence of the location convinces me that Patty Gillet, wife of Jonathan Stoddard Wightman, was Mercy Gillet, daughter of Zachariah and Sarah Gillet of Southington.

One more question: What about Zachariah Gillet’s wives? Donald Lines Jacobus gives him three, the first two totally unknown, and the third known only as Sarah. Bizarrely, however, he claims that Zachariah’s will names his wife Sarah, whereas the wife in both copies I found of the will seems clearly to be “Rhoda.”  Jacobus gives no death date for Sarah, but it’s a good assumption that she predeceased Zachariah, who married a fourth time.  After Zachariah's death, Rhoda married someone named Frisbee.

I found a will for a Sarah Gillet, dated and probated in 1776, witnessed by Zachariah Gillet and Elizabeth Gillet. In this will, Sarah Gillet leaves everything she has to “my Nephu Sarah Andrus wife to Ichabod Andrus.”  Sarah Gillet, daughter of Zachariah and his first wife, did marry Ichabod Andrus (Andrews). At first I thought this might be the will of Sarah, Zachariah’s wife. But Donald Lines Jacobus says it’s the will of Sarah, Zachariah's sister, daughter of Abner Gillet. That makes more sense, though I'm still confused by “nephu."


The Conclusions

Pending new evidence to confirm or debunk my conclusions, this is what I believe:

Jonathan Stoddard Wightman was born July 17, 1765 in Groton, New London County, Connecticut, and died April 18, 1816 in Southington, Hartford County, Connecticut. He married (1) Mercy (Patty) Gillet, born about 1768 in Southington, daughter of Zachariah and Sarah (surname unknown) Gillet. Jonathan married (2) Hannah Williams, widow of Dr. John Hart of Southington.

The ancestry of Zachariah Gillet, taken from “The ‘Other' Gillets” by Donald Lines Jacobus, published in The American Genealogist (see above), is, in an abbreviated form, as follows:

  1. The Reverend William Gillett, Rector of Chaffcombe, County Somerset, England.
  2. Jeremiah Gillett, born in England, emigrated to New England, lived in Wethersfield, Connecticut, and fought in the Pequot War of 1636-1638. Later he returned to England, but because of his service was granted land in Simsbury, most likely tended by his brother, Nathan of Simsbury until Jeremiah, Jr. arrived.
  3. Sergeant Jeremiah Gillett of Simsbury, Connecticut. He was probably born in England, about 1650, and he died in Simsbury on March 24, 1707/8.
  4. Abner Gillet, born perhaps 1684-88, died March 12, 1762 at Southington, Connecticut. He married, at Farmington, Connecticut, September 6, 1710, Mary Higginson, who was baptized at Farmington January 10, 1691/92 and died at Southington on February 8, 1766. She was the daughter of William and Sarah (Warner) Higginson.
  5. Zachariah Gillet, born at Farmington March 31, 1721, died at Southington in 1790. He married (1) at Southington, July 6, 1741, an unknown woman, (2) at Southington, April 3, 1750, another unknown woman who died September 1757, and (3) Sarah (surname unknown). According to my own conclusions, based on probate evidence, he also married (4) Rhoda (surname unknown) who later married someone named Frisbee.
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 at 10:33 am | Edit
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