Monday, September 30, 2013

What A Marriage Date Might Tell Us About Abolitionists?

     On April 12, 1859 David F. Baylor and Annetta Rebecca Mannen were married in McLean County, Illinois.  The marriage was blessed with two children: son, Cory Oscar and daughter, Isabelle Maria (Marie Isabell on death certificate).  Isabelle was born on Nov. 25, 1862.  It is unlikely that Isabelle remembered her mother because Annetta passed away on April 27, 1864  when Isabelle was less than two years old.  
     But why did the young couple choose April 12, 1859 as a wedding date?
     A census record might shed a little light on the reason.  An 1859 Kansas Census shows that Rebecca's parents arrived in Lykins County, Kansas in May, 1859.  So it would seem that the date of the marriage was chosen as a result of her parents plan to leave Illinois.  But why the rush? Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925.
Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009.
     In the late 1850s Kansas was a battleground between pro- and anti-slavery forces.  Many abolitionists came from other states to live in the area and ensure Kansas' entry as a free or anti-slavery state.  The Mannens settled on a farm about 8 miles from where John Brown, famed abolitionist, lived. Lykins County had been named after a Baptist missionary, Dr. David Lykins.  Lykins County was renamed as Miami county in 1861 because of the pro-slavery views of Dr. Lykins.  
     Did Rebecca's parents, William R. and Mariah Mannen go to Kansas to help the anti-slavery forces?  Rebecca's brother fought with the Union Army but other than that I haven't found any other clues.  

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Back in Time with James Mathis (Mathews)

    The other day we analyzed why the James Mathews, that we had found in Collin County, Texas in 1870 who together with Sallie were probably the parents of Lennie Mathis, wife of William Pinkney Leggett.  Below is a listing of that family's census record.
Year: 1880; Census Place: Precinct 8, Collin,Texas; Roll: 1296; Family History Film: 1255296; Page: 292A; Enumeration District: 029.
Moving backwards from 1880 to 1870 I attempted to find James and his family. I suspected that they might live in Yalobusha county since Lennie's obituary stated that was her place of birth.  I needed to check for Mathews as well as Mathis. I found a James Mathews with wife Sallie and son, Rickman in Yalobusha. In Texas there had been a stepson Louis Rickman. 
Year: 1870; Census Place: Township 11, Yalobusha,Mississippi; Roll: M593_754; Page: 60A; Image: 126; Family History Library Film: 552253.
      When we moved back another ten years, I didn't expect to find James with wife Sallie because of her age but knowing the children would help. We ought to be able to find him especially since we knew names of children Martha, John C., Lafayette and Rickman (Louis Rickman). Here is a James Mathis with wife Mathilda, daughter Martha, son Columbus (Jno C?) Lafayette, son Lewis (Louis Rickman?).  The ages are not perfect but close enough that we might be looking at the correct family.  Lafayette County is on the northeast border of Yalobusha County. At about this same time I spotted a marriage reference of James Mathews to Sarah Johnson in 1861 in Lafayette County. Sallie (Sally) is a nickname for Sarah. 
1860; Census Place:  , Lafayette,Mississippi; Roll: M653_585; Page: 58; Image: 62; Family History Library Film: 803585.
     Moving back another ten years we find James with Mathilda and Martha.  There were other children listed.  Could Mathilda be wife number 2?  
 Year: 1850; Census Place:  , Lafayette,Mississippi; Roll: M432_375; Page: 269B; Image: 95.
So does is this James with his families the correct family for Lennie?  Have we met the Genealogical Proof Standard.? Not Yet.  But I think we are looking in the right direction.  And the best part was the family that was living next door to James in 1850.  Are we looking at James' father?  More than likely James and Ire are related but not sure how just yet.
Year: 1850; Census Place:  , Lafayette,Mississippi; Roll: M432_375; Page: 269B; Image: 95.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Lennie Mathis of Water Valley (Mississippi), McKinney and Abilene(Texas)

     My favorite part of genealogy is the hunt.  I love searching for documents that prove links to ancestors.  My big downfall as a genealogist is failing to add the information to the family tree as soon as I find it.  
    Today, while perusing my files I realized the I had the obituary of Linnie Mathis Leggett.  As I re-read the obituary I noticed that it mentioned her place of birth (Water Valley, Mississippi); year of birth (probably incorrectly as 1864); the year her family moved to McKinney, Texas; the year of her marriage to William Pinkney Leggett; the year they moved to Abilene; and that she was survived by as sister.
Lennie Mathis Leggett
     Immediately I tried finding Linnie and her family in the census (remember I love the hunt).  I found a possible family living in Collin County - James Matthews3, wife Sally, daughters Lena, Laura and Alice.  Could this be them?  The age for Lena didn't quite match the obituary.  I could see how a census taker might mistake Mathis for Mathews so this might be our family.
     Since the obituary mentioned that she was survived by a sister, I wanted to see if her sister was Laura or Alice. Unfortunately her sister is identified as Mrs Tom Leggett.  Did sisters marry brothers?  I looked in the census for a Tom Leggett in the appropriate city and found a Tom Leggett with wife, Lee.  Things were not looking good.  So I looked in the Texas death records for a Tom Leggett hoping I might find a Tom with a wife Laura or Alice.  Success!  I found a mention of a Tom with a wife, Laura.  I found Laura's death record and her name was listed as Laura Lee Mathis Leggett. 
    After realizing that I had Lennie's death certificate I compared information.  Both Lennie's1 and Laura's2 death certificates show their parents as James and Sallie.  I am fairly certain that the 1880 census record showing James and Sally Mathews is Lennie's family.
    This has open a Pandora's Box.  
First, where are James and Sallie born.  The Census says, Georgia and Alabama.  Lennie's Certificate says both her parents are from Mississippi.  Laura's certificate says they were both born in Tennessee.   Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, or Tennessee?  
Second, when was Laura born? The obituary says 1864.  The census says about 1870.  The tombstone says 1872.  The death record says 1872.  I would vote for 1872 at this point but I would like some more data.
Third, if Laura lived in McKinney, Texas and married William Pinkney Leggett who lived in McKinney, will we find a marriage record there?  My niece, Jayme lives in McKinney.  Guess who has a job.
Fourth, can we find more information about James and Sallie?

1. "Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 27 Sep 2013), Linnie Leggett, 1936.

2. "Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Sep 2013), Laura Lee Leggett, 1945.

3. Year: 1880; Census Place: Precinct 8, Collin, Texas; Roll: 1296; Family History Film: 1255296; Page: 292A; Enumeration District: 029.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Amended Birth Certificate: Garna McBee

Garna - 1943
     In 1944 Garna McBee obtained an amended copy of her birth certificate.  Garna was born February 5, 1928 in San Diego.  
     In the 1930 U. S. Census she is listed as Garner and we think that Garner was the name at the time of birth., So the reason that her birth certificate was amended might have been to have a birth certificate with her name in the manner that she wanted.  She was a couple weeks shy of sixteen at the time and lived at the YWCA in Long Beach.  Her step-mother had told her that she couldn't afford food for her and she needed to be on her own.  In the last years of World War II she worked at the Naval Shipyards in Long Beach, California and it is likely that she needed the birth certificate to get the job.  
     The spelling of her middle name is correct.  Rather than the usual spelling of the girl's name Belle, her name came from the maiden name of her grandmother, Clara Bell.  Bell has been passed down as a middle name to Garna's daughter and granddaughter.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Delayed Birth Certificate: Guy McBee

      Guy McBee, great-great grandfather of Hailey and Abbey, was born June 19, 1902 in Bronson, Bourbon County, Kansas.  Bronson is about 25 miles from the Kansas-Missouri border.  Births in Kansas were not recorded at the state level until 1913 so any record would be at the county level.  The McBees were dirt poor moved often and would have had a difficult time going more than twenty miles to the county seat.  
     Based upon Guy's Delayed Birth Certificate, the birth was not recorded at the time of birth. When Guy wanted to get proof of birth (probably at a time when he was registering either for Social Security or union membership) he submitted an affidavit from his father, his marriage license, an ID card, and a voter registration.  This certificate show his name as Guy Charles McBee even though at the time of birth he was named Charles Guyer McBee. He is listed as Charlie G. in the 1910 U.S. Census; Guy in the 1915 Kansas Census & 1920 U.S. Census; and Gui in the 1905 Kansas Census; Guy Charley on his 1940 marriage record.)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Delayed Birth Certificate: Viva Pickett

     Delayed birth certificates are needed when a birth was not registered at the time of birth. Birth records in Ohio were kept at the county level starting in 1867 although some counties started earlier.  Records were kept sporadically until state registration started in 1908.  
     Around the time of the birth of my grandmother, Viva Mabel Pickett Hugus, births were recorded in a ledger.  Part of the page showing her birth is shown below1.  Two things should stand out.  First, the entry shows quite different handwriting and ink  as well as a blank line before the entry. Secondly, how in 1887 when she was born, did people know her married name?

     Obviously, this was recorded much later.  The second image is shows when the entry was really recorded.  In 1940 two people who claimed to have known Viva and her parents at the time of her birth, came to court and testified when and where she was born.

     The result of the testimony was a birth certificate created in 1940. This explains why her married name was entered in the record.  Viva was 53 years old. She was already a grandmother.       
     So why did Viva need a birth certificate in 1940?   I think the answer is located in the packet of papers where I originally found the certificate.  Viva's husband worked for the railroad and this was found in his retirement records.  This was about the time when Social Security was created.   Railroad employees were eligible for the Railroad Retirement System instead of Social Security.   I imagine that Viva and Lloyd Hugus were getting their papers in order and proof of age was needed.
     The documents also gave us other information even though that wasn't the purpose of the document.  Viva's father's middle name is identified as Robert.  Other document that I have uncovered only use the 'R'.
     Of course we can't discover a document without coming across a new question.  Why didn't she have her middle name, Mabel, included in her birth record?  Her signature in the same packet of papers includes the 'M'.  Her nice handwriting probably came from the fact that she was an elementary school teacher.  Does anybody remember getting a grade in 'Penmanship'? 

1. "Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 23 Sep 2013), Viva Pickett, 1887 Delaware County, Ohio, Vol. 3, p 313

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Let No Good Deed Go Unnoticed

     Connecting William R. Gates to his father, Elisha was not easy.  My Aunt Jane had recorded them as father-son but we didn't have any bible records. I am sure that she spent many hours quizzing her mother, Mary Catherine Blandford about her family.  Mary Catherine's parents had died before she married Elmer J. Armstrong. Her grandfather, William R. Gates passed away before she was born but she would have known Elizabeth Mattingly Gates, wife of William.  (Elizabeth Gates lived until 1918.)  So Aunt Jane would have had it on good authority that William was the son of Elisha.  
     William was born on Feb 24, 1822 in Nelson County, Kentucky.  The Kentucky requirement for recording births was enacted in 1852 but this was interrupted by the Civil War.  Recording began again in 1911.  There may be church records but nothing yet. 
     Elisha died intestate so not much luck there.  There are some administrative accounts but they have been no help.
     The first census that list the names of children along with parents occurred in 1850 but William and Elizabeth had been married in 1849 and they were not living in the same household with Elisha. . 
     Because I wanted to know where the Gates' land was located I started to look for some land deeds. And there it was.  
      An 1855 deed states “This Indenture made this 10th day of October in the year 1855 between Elisha Gates of the County of Nelson and Commonwealth of Kentucky of the one part and William R. Gates of the County and Commonwealth aforesaid and John G. Gates of the state of Texas of the other part. Witnesseth. that the said Elisha Gates for and in consideration of the natural love and affection he has the said William R. Gates and John G. Gates his children…” 

Nelson County, Kentucky Deeds  

Book 29 page 345  
FHL Film 483138

Friday, September 20, 2013

In 1814 We Took A Little Trip

     In April, 1959 the popular song, The Battle of New Orleans1 by Johnny Horton topped the charts.  I was in eighth grade at the time and loved singing this song.  Even today if this song comes on the radio I will start singing. (Assuming that I am in the car alone.)

In 1814 we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip.
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans.

We fired our guns and the British kept a'comin.
There wasn't nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more and they began to runnin' on
Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

     Based on the War of 1812 records, James Legget was in Perkins' Battalion of the Mississippi Militia.  This battalion participated in the real Battle of New Orleans
     He was certainly part of the battalion at the time of the battle.
     Doesn't it make you wonder if he caught any alligators after the cannons melted down?

1. Driftwood, Jimmy, Battle Of New Orleans 1957

Thursday, September 19, 2013

WIlliam Perry Lorton - Six Years Old

     James T. Lorton is the great-grandfather of 'Pop' John Boyd.  He had arrived in California in 1849 and worked for a time in Gold Rush Country, where the miners 'learnt me to read and rite'.   
     By 1862 he had married and was working on a ranch along the Cosumnes River, which is southeast of Sacramento.  We have not yet found a marriage record but the June 17, 18621  article from the Sacramento Union mentions his wife and the ranch where he worked.  

Elizabeth was obviously expecting a child at that time because on September 25th2 of that year an unnamed son was born on the same ranch.

William Perry Lorton, that unnamed boy died 6 years and 5 months later in Bird Valley3, which is northwest of Sacramento.  William was the name of James T. Lorton's father.  The boys middle name may give us a hint at Elizabeth's maiden name.  An Elizabeth Perry lived in the same area as James T. Lorton in 1860.  

     At this time it is unknown what little William died from. No record has been found about his burial. 
     By 1870 the family has three additional children (Elizabeth, Don, and George).  The youngest girl, Annetta was born about 1873.   No further records have been found for Elizabeth. It is unknown when or where she passed away.  By 1876 the family had left northern California and settled in Saticoy, Ventura County.

1.  "Bees Found." Sacramento Daily Union, June 17, 1862.

2.  "Births." Sacramento Daily Union, October 2, 1862

3.  "Deaths." Sacramento Daily Union, March 2, 1869

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Was He Searching For His Pot Of Gold?

James T. Lorton
     After 1860, James T. Lorton lived in no less than eight locations around California.  He arrived in California in 1849 at the age of sixteen. We believe that he was on his own either when he arrived or shortly afterwards as there has been no evidence of his parents in California. He doesn't show up on the U.S.Census in 1852 but the census records of three counties are missing and Butte county records were damaged and no names appear.  
     Two of the locations were in Yolo County where he tried his hand at farming.  It seems that his wife passed away about the time he left Yolo County  and headed south to Ventura County.  He married for a second time in Ventura County.  In the 1890s at the age of sixty-two, he headed back to the Sierra foothills to try mining again.  His wife did not travel with him. (He stayed several years and even served a term on the school board. 
     I don't know if he moved frequently because he was just a wanderlust or he was unsuccessful at the various jobs that he held. 

  1. 1849 - Arrived in California by way of the Lassen Trail
  2. 1851 - Letter waiting in Sacramento
  3. 1852 - Another letter waiting
  4. 1850s - Lived with miners who taught him to 'read and rite'.
  5. 1860 - Worked on a ranch in Butte County
  6. 1862 - Married and worked in Calaveras County, near Copperopolis
  7. 1869 - Lived in Bird Valley, Yolo County
  8. 1870 - Farmed in Grafton Township, Yolo County
  9. 1874 - Homesteaded Land in northern Yolo County 
  10. 1876 - Registered to vote in Sespe, Ventura County
  11. 1880 - Lived in Saticoy, Ventura County
  12. 1881 - Married a second time
  13. 1888 - Bought land in Saticoy, Ventura County
  14. 1896 - Registered to vote in South Coulterville, Mariposa County
  15. 1900 - Mined for gold along the Merced River
  16. 1912 - Registered Voter in Harper, California 
  17. 1919 - Died in San Pedro, Los Angeles County
  18. 1919 - Buried in Harbor View cemetery, San Pedro - no known marker
     See the map below for the different residences in California. The red pins are placed based upon known land records. The orange and yellow pins are based on records where the location is less accurate.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Lassen Trail - The Death Trail

     Around 1840 the California Trail followed the same route as the Oregon Trail until the trails passed through Wyoming and arrived at Ft. Hall, Idaho.  From there the California Trail passed south through Nevada.   Once in Nevada the trail split several times.  At various times different branches over or around the mountain ranges became popular.  In 1848 Peter Lassen began promoting one of these branches of California Trail.  This branch veered north almost to the northeastern corner of California near Goose lake.  This branch then turned south to Lake Amador and ended in Tehama County near Peter Lassen's 22,000 acres ranch.  The Lassen Trail in part was extremely arduous and many emigrants regretted taking this route.  This 'shortcut' was actually about 200 miles longer than some of the other routes.  This trail was nicknamed the 'Death Trail'.
     The Lorton, Mannen and other allied families had left North Carolina after the Revolutionary War and traveled to Warren County, Kentucky.   After a few years some of the families left for Illinois while others left for Missouri.  William Lorton moved to Missouri sometime prior to 1840.  There he and his wife homesteaded 40 acres.  In 1849 William Lorton, his wife, Elizabeth and 14 year old son James left their home in Missouri and headed to California by way of the Lassen Trail.  They may have started to California as a result of hearing the news about the discovery of gold.  They must have gotten a late start or been slowed on the trail because the wagon train didn't arrive in California until late November after the snows had started.  
     James Lorton wrote, “We came the Lassen rout it snowed so hard in the mountains that it broke down our tents we had to leave everything except 4 yoke of oxen we started afoot we would all have perished in site of Sackerment valley but the govermint sent releafe to us. . . . "  The location is uncertain but James stated that both William and his wife died somewhere on the trail.  James had no formal schooling and did not know how to read or write until later in life. 
     It would appear that James spent most of his life seaching unsuccessfully for his pot of gold.  He lived in no less that seven locations in California.

Map that includes the Lassen Tail

Photos of the Lassen Trail

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Elisha Gates - Part V: A Really Big Corral

The Peninsula as it is today

     Two hundred years ago the Kentucky Volunteer Mounted Militia, including Elisha Gates were riding towards Detroit along with the rest of an army of the Kentuckians.  However, when news of Commodore Perry's victory in the Battle of Lake Erie reached the army, a decision was made to change direction to the Portage River.  There the plan was to have the soldiers board Commodore Perry's ships and get ferried to Canada.
     The army arrived on Sept 15 and the men set about building a fence across across the peninsula to create a large corral.  The fence was built across the narrowest section of the peninsula, about one and a half miles.  Each regiment was given a section of fence to construct and the job was finished in a few hours.  About 70,000 acres were enclosed; This was about fifteen acres per horse.  The fence was 6 to 8 feet high and then covered with brush.  Shortly after the fence was completed, the horses stampeded for some unknown reason.  Many men were injured, while some men and some horses were killed before everything calmed down1.
      Then the men readied themselves so that they could be ferried across.  On September 21st and 22nd the men were transported to the Bass Islands.  Then the ships moved the men on to Ontario.  They were headed towards a showdown with the British and their Native American allies.

1.Young, Bennett Henderson, The Battle of The Thames, J. P. Morton and Company, Louisville, Kentucky, 1903

Friday, September 13, 2013

So faryouwell my best be Loved Brother

     The following letter was written by Isaac McBee to his brother, Samuel McBee.  Samuel lived in Claiborne County, Tennessee.  Isaac lived in Marrowbone.  Marrowbone could refer to a location in Cumberland County, Kentucky (most likely) or in Pike County, Kentucky.  Both these locations would require a one way trip in excess of 150 miles through mountainous terrain.  This would not have been an easy trip especially at their age.  
     At the time of the letter Isaac would have been about 82 years old, while Samuel would have been about 74.   
     In the transcription that follows the image, I left the words as Isaac spelled them.  I added a few corrections in brackets.  Isaac had not used any punctuation so to make it a little easier to read I entered a blank line where I thought the punctuation should occur.  If you say the words with a southern drawl you can see he spelled the words phonetically.  Most likely Isaac had little or no formal schooling so we should be impressed that he even wrote a letter.

Marribone     Fry June the 10th 1846

Dear Brother 

I have taken my pen in han[d] to Let you know that I am Still a living  

all my Children is Marred [married] 

the two Last Marred and Living with me 

Janey was Brought to Bead [bed] the 6 Day of this month after the Cihld
was born  

She Lived three or four ouers [hours] and Died  

the Child is a living  

all my Children Is Dead and Gone but four 

Nancy is Living in Illinois in the gillene  

Ann is living in Johnson County Illinois and I am Living hear on Marrobone 

Worn down with old age and other complaints I have wanted to See you
the worst of all things I was in hopes that god Would put it in your head to Com and see me.  

I thougt I would Go and see you last fall but I found that I was not abel 

everey man is a free Eagent [agent] to do as he pleases  

give my love to Brother Israel and to all my Connection 

So I must Conclud I am in hopes that God will Bles you and yours for Evermore

So faryouwell my best be Loved Brother 

Isaac McBee

Isaac live about four more years while Samuel lived another 12 years.  I wonder if the brothers ever got together again. 

'gillene' may refer to Galena, Illinois a city on the Mississippi River.
If 'Fry' is the word that appears just prior to the date and refers to Friday, It is interesting that June 10, 1846 was a Wednesday.  This is a common error for older people.  I should know.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

To California because of the Pennsylvania Railroad

     The Pennsylvania Railroad is one of the main reasons that I live in California.   My grandfather, Lloyd V. Hugus worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad. He started working for the PRR in 1909  as a fireman and then moved up to the position of engineman which was a position he held until he retired in 1953.  To the best of my knowledge, he worked exclusively on freight trains.  Shown below is a small portion of his employment papers which were obtained from the Railroad Retirement Board1.         

     One of the perks of working for the railroad was the ability to travel cheaply.  When my mother was about nineteen she road the rails from Ohio to visit her uncle in California.  Uncle Vern also worked for the railroad.  She fell in love with California and decided that is where she wanted to live.  It didn’t hurt that the winter weather in California was nicer.
      She returned to Ohio and even though she fell in love with my father, she was determined to return out west.   She told my father that if he wanted to get married then he would find her in California.  She got another railroad pass from her father and headed west.  He graduated from Ohio State at the end of the next term and left for California in short order.   
     Where would I have been born if the railroad hadn’t enabled my mother to visit her uncle?   But here I am in California because of the Pennsylvania Railroad even though the Pennsylvania Railroad never came this far west.

1."Genealogy Research - U.S. Railroad Retirement Board." 2005. 23 Aug. 2013 <>

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

James David Armstrong - Part V: Masons

     Prior to leaving Ireland, James David Armstrong joined the Masons. He attained the highest rank in the masonic Order. 
In part the obituary of James David Armstrong1 reads as follows:

    “But the boy [James David Armstrong] obtained a good common school education.  His father’s companions held him in high esteem and as a mark of their special favor chose him to fill his father’s place among them.  He was made a master mason June 23, 1847 at Belfast and in the succeeding two years was inducted through the degrees of the Scottish rite to the thirty-third.
   . . . During this period [while living in New Jersey] he was an honored visitor of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey, A. F. & A. M.
. . .     For a number of years he neglected to communicate with any Masonic body here but finally made himself known to the late Judge Stillwell at one time mayor of Bloomington.  No. 43 was then meeting over the old Gridley bank and the late J. D. Harford was its worshipful master.  The night he visited them an officer mistaking him for an intruder, inquired whom he wished to see.  Armstrong, jestingly replied “No one in particular”.  The announcement of Judge Stillwell shortly after mollified the earnest guardian and Mr. Armstrong was welcomed into fellowship.   He was associated with the establishment of  DeMolay Commandery No. 24, Knights Templar, and a bosom friend of the late G. M. Jameson, well known in older Masonic circles.”

An image of the Masonic Certificate of James David Armstrong is shown below.  The certificate is in the possession of my second cousin, Julie Armstrong Zollner.
Masonic Certificate of James David Armstrong

We Chiefs of the Enlightened Men
Of the most Ancient & Right
Worshipful Lodge of St. John
Do hereby Certify that Brother
James D Armstrong
Of Lodge 186 has been initiated
In all the degrees of our Mysteries
And has performed all his Works
Amongst us to the entire satisfaction
Of all the Brethern. Therefore
We desire all the Right Worshipful
Lodges of the Universe and all
True Accepted Masons to
 Recognize & admit him as such.
In Testimony whereof we have
Delivered him this present Certificate
Sealed by our Secretary with the
Seal of our LODGE and that it
May not be of use to any one
Else but unto the said Brother
 James D Armstrong
He has signed his name in the
Margin. Given in the GRAND LODGE
at DUBLIN the Metropolis of
IRELAND this 16th day of
In the Year of Masonry
Master Registered Mason
23 day of June 1847

     Below is an image from Google Maps of where Masonic Lodge 186 (St. James' Lodge) meets.  James David Armstrong was a member of Lodge 186,  The lodge is on the outskirts of Carryduff (where he was married) along Mealough Road. The church and the lodge are about two miles apart.  On his marriage records he is recorded as living in Mealough. 
Mealough Masonic Hall

View Larger Map

     Lodge 43 in Bloomington, Illinois was in the Old Gridley Bank Building and the northwest corner of Main Street and Front Street in Bloomington, Illinois.

View Larger Map

1. “Passing of a Nestor” Pantograph, Bloomington, Illinois March 30, 1906

2.   "Google Maps." 2005. 5 Sep. 2013 <>

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

SEPT 10, 1813 - Did Peter Picket fight with Commodore Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie?

Commemorative Bicentennial Flag
Gift from Linda Platt
View from Perry's Monument in the general direction of the Battle of Lake Erie
     Today is the bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Eire.  Did Peter Picket fight with Commodore Perry in that battle? 
     My first clue about Peter Picket was found on page 324 of The History of Union County, Ohio1, in a bio about his son Barton H. Pickett.  I discovered this county history on my first trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

"Peter Pickett [Picket], was a native of Dutchess County, N. Y.; he went as a sailor boy when eighteen, and followed the water for thirty years. He was a soldier in the war of 1812, under Commodore Perry, and, participated in the battle of Lake Erie, where he was seriously wounded. He died January 13, 1854, aged seventy-four years. His mother, Elizabeth Mills, was born in Montgomery County, Md. , and moved to Harrison County, Ohio, with her parents, Elias and Nancy (Harris) Mills, when she was eighteen years old; she died October 31, 1857."  

    So I have an ancestor who may have fought with Commodore Perry during a critical time in history.  But can this be proven?      
    So far I have been able to verify that Peter and Elizabeth were indeed married in 1818 in Harrison County, Ohio and that she was the daughter of Elias and Nancy Mills.  All four of them are buried in Moorefield, Harrison, Ohio.
     But verifying that part about fighting with Commodore Perry has proven more difficult.  The timeline of 'followed the sea for thirty years' just doesn't match up with other dates. A recent trip the the Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial on South Bass Island didn't help prove what I was hoping.  His name does not appear on any of the brass plaques at the monument.  His name does not appear in Deep Water Sailors Shallow Water Soldiers2.  Several books indicate that the known records are incomplete.  There were sailors who fought in the battle but did not make it into muster rolls.       
     So did Peter Picket sail with Commodore Perry and fight during the Battle of Lake Eire?  Was he injured in this battle?  I know that not everything in county histories is true but I also know that new records are being discovered in archives so I will continue the quest to prove or disprove the county history.  So the answer as of now is "I don't know".   But I won't give up the hunt.       

1. Durant, Pliny A. The History of Union County, Ohio. Chicago: W. H. Beers & Co., 1883. (accessed July 29, 2013).

2. Altoff, Gerard T. Deep Water Sailors Shallow Water Soldiers. Put-in-Bay, Ohio: The Perry Group, 1993.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Elisha Gates - War of 1812 Part IV

     My first several articles about the War of 1812 had dealt with the plan of the Kentuckians who were determined to get revenge for the Raisen River Massacre.  Kentucky Governor Shelby had been authorized to raise an army to march north to deal with the British and their Native American allies.  When we last looked at Elisha Gates he had answered the call of Governor Shelby and showed up at Newport, Kentucky on July 31, 1813.  Elisha Gates had answered the call along with three to four thousand other Kentuckians.  Many came unprepared, without rifles or ammunition but ready to fight.   
     As might have been expected it would be quite a task to have that many men fill out the appropriate paperwork (enlisting for three months), to organize the men into proper militia units, to arm all the men, and to obtain and organize provisions for everyone. So the men slowly began their march north through Ohio.  They passed through Fort Hamilton, Franklin, Dayton, and Springfield before arriving at Fort Urbana.  Most of the organization and preparation took place near Fort Urbana. The army didn't leave Fort Urbana until the second week in September.   
  Elisha Gates became a Private in the Kentucky Mounted Volunteer Militia1. He was assigned to serve in Captain Presley C. Smith's Company, commanded by Colonel James Simrall.  

Two-hundred years ago Elisha Gates traveled through these locations:
On September 92 - the army finally left Fort Urbana and began to march north in earnest towards Detroit.
September 10 - they passed through Bellafontaine camping near the line of Hardin and Logan counties.
September 11 - Near Fort MacArthur
September12 - they reached Upper Sandusky.  As they learned about the victory in the Battle of Lake Eire, plans changed and the army headed towards Lake Eire instead of Detroit. 
September 13 - they reached Fort Ball, near line of Wyandot and Seneca counties.
September 14 - the column reached Lower Sandusky (Fremont). Ammunition was distributed during the march on the 14th.
September 15 - the men reached the Portage River.

Once the army reached the Portage River site, the plan was to leave the horses at that site and take a ship across Lake Erie to Canada. The men took several days building a fence across the narrowest portion of the peninsula to form a horse corral.

1. Clift, G. Glenn. Kentucky Soldiers of the War of 1812. Frankfort, Kentucky: Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky, 1891

2. Young, Bennett Henderson, The Battle of The Thames, J. P. Morton and Company, Louisville, Kentucky, 1903

Saturday, September 7, 2013

James David Armstrong - Part IV: Luggage Handlers

     A few weeks ago as I was claiming my suitcase at the carousel at the airport, someone else's suitcase came by all busted up with the items spilling out.  Someone had tried to tape it back together.  It made me think of the horror stories that you see every once in awhile on news programs.  I am glad it wasn't mine.
     The suitcase reminded me of a story in the Obituary of James David Armstrong1.   
     "In 1858 he came to Illinois, reaching Bloomington by way of Chicago, where he recalls an incident to prove that the roughness of the baggage handlers of those days was not the fiction of  a paper joke but an unpleasant reality.  Mr. Armstrong had to borrow a hammer and nail up the pieces of his oaken 'kit' which the railroaders had wrecked."  
    Seems like the more things change the more they stay the same.  
1.   “Passing of a Nestor” Pantograph, Bloomington, Illinois March 30, 1906  

Friday, September 6, 2013

James David Armstrong - Part III: Family

Sorry this blog post got unpublished.  I thought I was reverting to what was published earlier but instead I unpublished it.

     Interestingly enough one obituary of James David Armstrong doesn't mention his family at all.  A second obituary mentioned his wife, although not by name.  The same obituary mentions three of his six children. The 1870 Census gives us the names of all children.  There is agreement with the 1860 Census with the exception of son, John.
Name                    Age       Birthplace          Occupation
James Armstrong     49        Ireland               Farmer
Margaret    "           49        Ireland               keeping house
Sarah        "           21        Ireland               At Home
Hannah      "           19        New Jersey         At Home
Nancy        "           16        New Jersey         At Home
James        "           14        New Jersey
Margaret    "           11        Illinois
John          "            9         Illinois               

     Sarah, Hannah, and John were not named in the second obituary probably because they were gone years before their father   Nancy married 'Dice' Teter and died in 1888 in Oregon.   Margaret passed away at the age of 15 in 1874.  James went to Nebraska but after a few years the family lost contact with him.
     James' wife, Margaret died in 1876.  James David Armstrong had married Margaret McClure on Aug 4, 1847 at Carryduff in the Parish of Drumbro in County Down.  

The Carryduff Parish was formed in 1838.  The church, which was built in 1841, is still in use.  A current picture of the Carryduff Presbyterian Church.  The building on the right minus the front portion was probably the part built in 1841.  

View Larger Map

Links to images of the church
Church and Cemetery
Church Website

Thursday, September 5, 2013

James David Armstrong - Part II: Living in New Jersey

     The Obituary1 of James David Armstrong states the following;
“On August 20, 1849, Mr. Armstrong landed in New York, whence he proceeded to Trenton, N. J. in which vicinity he remained for several years busy ever as a farmer or laborer, at one time being a trusted employee of old Peter Cooper’s rolling mill ".
     As is sometimes the case not all information in obituaries is completely true.  The date of arrival was a couple months off. In the image below2 the date of arrival is given as Oct 22, 1849.  
     Jas (shortened form of James) and Margaret Armstrong left Belfast with an infant daughter, Sarah.  They made passage on the Bark Warrior and were among 88 passengers on board.  They arrived in New York on Oct 22, 1849.  The Bark WARRIOR, 221 tons, was built in Granville, Nova Scotia, in 1844, and first registered in St. John, New Brunswick. The Bark Warrior made several transatlantic passages usually carrying about 90 passengers and carrying other cargo, sometimes iron.  The voyages took anywhere from 30 to 50 days. 

     The 1850 Census, which was taken about six months after they arrived in Castle Garden, New York shows they lived in Nottingham Township, Mercer County, New Jersey.  In 1856 Nottingham Township ceased existence with parts being merged into Hamilton Township and part into Trenton.  No  occupation is shown for James in 1850 and so they probably lived like most Irish immigrants of that time who typically lived in dirty tenement buildings.  No wonder the family left for the Midwest.  Birthdates and birthplaces listed in later census records indicate that the family moved on to McLean County, Illinois between 1856 and 1859.  This is consistent with his obituary which indicates they came to Illinois in 1858. 
     Who is 'old Peter Cooper'?  Peter Cooper3 was an industrialist who made his fortune in glue but then founded an iron mill in New York in order to make railroad tracks for the burgeoning railroad industry. He actually built the first steam powered locomotive built in America. He moved his mill to Trenton, New Jersey in 1846.   The first iron structural beam was made at that mill in 1854.  These structural iron beams would have been fabricated about the time that James David Armstrong was employed at that mill3.  

1.   “Passing of a Nestor” Pantograph, Bloomington, Illinois March 30, 1906

2.  "United States Famine Irish Passenger Index, 1846-1851," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 30 Aug 2013), Jas. Armstrong, 1849.

3.   "Peter Cooper - The Robinson Library." 2011. 30 Aug. 2013 <>