Wednesday, October 30, 2013

No Legend in this Sleepy Hollow

     It is that time of year again.  It is a time for scary movies and stories.  One such story that has endured almost two hundred years is the Washington Irving short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" with the Headless Horseman.  There is also a new television show called Sleepy Hollow.  Wouldn't it be sort of cool if our ancestor was buried in the real Sleepy Hollow?
     I have located the graves of a few of my Stratton ancestors.  Mary Stratton Fox is buried in Buckingham Cemetery in Glastonbury, Connecticut.  Her grandfather, Enoch Stratton is buried just down the road in Old Eastbury Cemetery, but I haven't been able to locate any other Stratton graves.  The first two generation of Strattons in Massachusetts are probable buried somewhere in Watertown or Cambridge but the third generation Stratton, Samuel should be buried somewhere in or near Concord, where he passed away.
"Concord, Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Towns Records, 1627-2001." Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2013.
     There are three cemeteries in Concord: South Burying Place, Old Hill Burying Ground, and Sleepy Hollow.   Sleepy Hollow is a large and interesting cemetery but unfortunately Samuel is not buried there.  The town started using Sleepy Hollow as a burial place about one-hundred years after Samuel died.  I haven't found a listing for Samuel Stratton in the other Concord cemeteries, both of which were in use at the time of his death.
     Even if Samuel Stratton was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord he wouldn't have been buried where the Headless Horseman was located.  That Sleepy Hollow is in New York, not Massachusetts.

    [Note: A number of famous authors are buried in Concord's Sleepy Hollow Cemetery including:  Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau.]  

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Saturday in the Fall & The Ohio State University

     Fall Saturday afternoons bring back fond memories of my father.  He graduated for The Ohio State University in 1939.  He followed OSU football passionately.  We could get occasional games on the radio and later on TV.
     We got our first TV in 1964 or 65 when I was in college - a little black and white thing. Since we lived in California, OSU games were not broadcast very often.  He might catch the Michigan game and possibly a Rose Bowl game.  He was sure proud when Ohio State represented the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl.
     My dad had a dislike for Michigan and that dislike (hatred?) was ingrained in us from an early age.  He used to talk about a coach that won everything except the game against Michigan and subsequently got fired.
     My father would have loved cable TV with all of the sports channels.  He did live long enough to see a few channels like ESPN but he would love watching all the games that are on TV now.
    I don't watch a lot of football but when OSU is playing I try to watch at least part of the game because of my dad.  I am watching OSU dismantle Penn State as I write this.
     Oh, did I say that my dad didn't like Michigan.  I don't like Michigan either.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Problems Encountered With the Strattons in Concord

     The “Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1627-2001” 1 database on was recently updated.  Since my ancestor, Samuel Stratton had lived in Watertown, Massachusetts and owned land in Concord, I ended up looking for Strattons in Concord.  While browsing the death records I found the following page. (a transcription follows)

Judah Stratton Son of Samuel & Mary     Mar 11, 1667/8
John Stratton Son of Saml & Mary June 9, 1670
John Stratton Son of Saml & Mary Apr 29, 1672
Mary Stratton Wife of Samuel Oct 27, 1674
Joseph Stratton Son of Saml & Hannah  Dec 9, 1693
Samuel Stratton Hus of Hannah (deceased)  Dec 5, 1707
Samuel Stratton Son of Saml & Ruth Jan 28, 1715/6
Samuel Stratton Hus of Elizabeth Nov 30, 1717
Mary Stratton Dau of Saml & Ruth Jan 5, 1717/8
Sarah Stratton Dau of Saml & Sarah Feb 3, 1722/3
Samuel Stratton Hus of Ruth Oct 11, 1726

This page demonstrates problems that are encountered while researching ancestors: Name Abbreviations, Same Names, Multiple Spouses, Children with same name, and Double Dates.

Name Abbreviations  Many names were written in a shorten form: Wm for William, Jas for James, Saml for Samuel, and Jno for John or Jonathan.  In the image above the l in Saml for Samuel is raised and underlined. I haven’t ben able to find that symbol or equivalent on the computer.

Same Name Samuel & Mary, Samuel & Hannah, Samuel & Ruth, and Samuel & Sarah...  How many men named Samuel Stratton are there?  The first Samuel Stratton in Massachusetts had three sons with one named Samuel.  Each of those sons had a son named Samuel.  Keeping track of those Samuels can be a big puzzle. There were at least fourteen Samuels in the first five generation in the Watertown and Concord region.

Multiple Spouses One Samuel Stratton married Mary and when she died he married Hannah.  He had children with both wives.  That particular Samuel shows up in six of the entries.

Children with the same name As I was getting ready to post this blog I noticed that my cousin, Rick Platt2, had posted this same issue on his blog earlier today.  If a child died then it wasn’t uncommon to name a later child with the same name. In the document above there are two John Strattons with death dates two years apart. That is not a mistake but rather two different boys. One died before the second was born.  (A few generations later my Mary Stratton Fox had a son, Chester who died two weeks after his brother was born.  The new son was baptized as Chester.)

Double Dates The first day of the year used to be March 25.  In 1582 the calendar was adjusted in part of the world but not in England and its colonis.  It wasn’t until 1752 that the colonies came into compliance with the current calendar. Consequently after 1752 when we write dates between Jan 1 and Mar 24 from the earlier time period we should write them like Jan 19, 1707/8.  It can be a little confusing.  
The first two sections on the following webpage has a good explanation of the Double Dates problem.

1.  "Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Towns Records, 1627-2001." Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2013


Friday, October 25, 2013

The Old Armstrong Farm

Picture of Armstrong Farmhouse 
     A 1906 Obituary1 for James David Armstrong states
     "In 1858 ... He arrived here with an introductory letter to Rev. Samuel Miller and in a few days contracted with John Nichols the the eldest for whom and his son he superintended a 900-acre tract 6 miles east for a year. He then worked the land of William Mikel 2 years, Judge Rayburn 2 years, and Harvey Bishop three years. Tiring of hiring and renting he bought 80 acres in the northwest quarter of section thirty-four in Bloomington township where he lived 40 years."
    By the time James David Armstrong arrived in McLean County, the population was in excess of 20,000 (28,000+ in 1860).  The railroad had arrived and there wasn't the opportunity to buy open land.  He had come to this area because of relatives of his step-father.  So James Armstrong started working for others. 
     The Nichols land must have been spread out because The largest parcel of land that I could locate was about 500 acres. The largest portion seemed to be in the region of red arrow #1. Some of the land was in 'Old Town' Township but much of it was one township north in 'Towanda' Township.
    My best guess for the William Mikel land was red arrow #2.   The land for Judge Rayburn was approximately at red arrow #3. Harvey Bishop's land was in 'Downs' Township at red arrow #4.  
     The eighty acre parcel that he eventually purchased and the location of the Armstrong farm was at the yellow arrow.

Atlas of McLean County2

Detail of Section 34 - J. Armstrong 80 Acres

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

2.  J. L. Spaulding. Atlas of McLean County Illinois, 1966 Chicago

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Leggett-Mathews(Mathis) Marriage License

     Often the names we find for our ancestors don't match up perfectly with what we expect.  Frequently I see first names and middle names interchanged.  Ancestors use a first name and later use a middle name and then they go back to the first name and then they start using a nickname.  Many never went to school and so they couldn't tell if a census taker or county clerk had spelled their name correctly.  
     Last month after examining some census records I decided to look for vital records for the Leggett and Mathis families.  The records didn't show up on so I checked out the Collin County website and noticed a Genealogy tab.  I was hoping to find a marriage record for Lennie Mathis and William Pinkney Leggett.  A marriage record search returned the following results:

     W. P. Liggett could certainly be William Pinkney Leggett but who is Lura Mathews.  Could Lura be Lennie?   For six dollars I ordered the record.  
     What should have taken a few days or less ended up taking almost a month but the marriage license showed up in yesterday's email mailbox. 
      Comparing the names on the images taken from the license to what we think should be there and I am certain that we have the correct license.  The first set of names was written by the county clerk while the darker handwriting was by the Justice of the Peace.   The clerk wrote what looks like W. P. Seggett but the S is just a fancy L.  The Justice of the Peace wrote what looks like Liggett. I am sure this is William Pinkney Leggett.
    The bride's name at first glance could be Lura but upon closer inspection it appears to be Lina.  Did Lina morph over time into Linnie?
    For some reason The name Mathis and Mathews have been interchanged more than once.   The US Census shows Lennie's family as Mathews and Mathis.  In the above search Lee Mathis and Lura Mathews are sisters.

I am convinced that the marriage license shown below is the license for my wife's great-grandparents,  William Pinkney Leggett and Lennie Mathis.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Some Baylor Land in Downs Township

     Yesterday, we learned from the McLean County, Illinois History that Jacob Baylor had arrived in McLean County about 1837.  The county history stated that he had purchased 80 acres about 1839.  Shown above is a record that Jacob Baylor had obtained 40 acres from the government in 1840. He probably purchased additional land from other people and these transactions were recorded at a governmental agency other than the Federal Land Office.
      The image shown below is from an 1874 county atlas which shows land owned by Jacob's widow, Nancy Baylor and two of his sons, A. S. Baylor (Albert Simpson Baylor) and D. Baylor (David F. Baylor). The 40 acres which were purchased in 1840 is the north half of the land in section 8 owned by N. Baylor. 
     Not shown is an additional 80 acres owned by David Baylor about 5 miles south. Each section is usually a square with each side one mile in length. Other Baylor family members owned land in various townships in the county.

1874 McLean County, Illinois Atlas1

An enlargement of sections 7 and 8 
I don't believe that there is any connection with the A. Armstrong shown in Section 7 and John M. Armstrong who eventually married Isabelle Maria Baylor.

1. U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Various publishers of County Land Ownership Atlases. Microfilmed by the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Jacob Baylor, a Successful Teamster and Farmer

     In today’s vernacular, a teamster is a truck driver or a member of the union, International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Teamster originated as a term describing a person who drove a wagon pulled by a ‘team’ of horses or oxen. 
     Jacob Baylor was a teamster under the original meaning of the word. And he must have been a rather successful one.
    Jacob Baylor, who was born in Pennsylvania. May 16. 1805.  He moved westward to Ohio, where he married Nancy Beaty (Beatly) in 1830 and about 1837 he moved westward again to McLean County, Illinois.  By 1839 he had purchased 80 acres in Downs Township. 
     Jacob made frequent trips with his team traveling north to Chicago and southwest to St. Louis, taking grain to market and returning with goods for Bloomington merchants.  Each trip took two weeks.  By 1848 he had been able to purchase additional acreage for his farm until he had accumulated a total of 200 acres.  
     Who knows how successful Jacob could have been if he had lived longer.  Jacob died in 1848 at the age of 43.  
Freight Wagon


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Happy Birthday, Diane

At age ten
Diane Elaine Armstrong (Oct 12, 1940-Aug 13, 2009)
Sister Marie Yvonne, O.P.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Was Elmer J. Armstrong Responsible for the Birth Records of His Children?

     One oral tradition that came down from my father pertained his birth certificate.  My father, John B. Armstrong was born on a military post, Fort Logan, Colorado.  His father, Elmer J. Armstrong was a sergeant in the U. S. Army Hospital Corps at the time of his birth and in that capacity filled out the birth certificate.  
     I decided to see if I could verify that Elmer did in fact fill out the certificate so I took a copy of it and tried to compare the handwriting with a known example of Elmer's handwriting.  The first example is from his Officer's Record Book.  Another example of Elmer's writing is taken from an Officer's Log Book kept by Elmer during World War I.  Keep in mind that these notes were written at different times while on the battlefield.
    I am not an expert in handwriting but to my eye the signature is the same, as well as most of the letters and words that I compared: A, B, M, Ilinois, Mary, F, H,...
    Based on my comparison of these documents and the birth record of Jane Armstrong (Elmer's oldest child), I feel comfortable that the story that Elmer filled out the birth certificates of John and his older sister is true.

Elmer J. Armstrong (right)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Quite the Host

     On the society page of the Denver Post on Tuesday, February 22, 1910 an article shows Elmer J. Armstrong (my grandfather) as one of the members of the Leisure Hour Club who had been responsible of a party on the previous Saturday evening.  The event could have been in honor of George Washington's birthday which was celebrated on Feb 22.  Elmer J. Armstrong was not an officer yet so the enlisted men had probably been put in charge of the event.
     I don't know exactly when Elmer met Mary Blandford but she lived in the area at that time. The following is a picture of them on an outing but the date was either 1910 or 1911. If they had known each other at the time of the party would Mary Catherine have helped with the plans?  I know that if I was in charge of a party I would have gotten help from Jayme.
Rear left to right: Mary Catherine Blandford, Elmer J. Armstrong, Maud Blandford, Milby Hayes
Front: Bess, Ella B.
     Maud Blandford was Mary Catherine's younger sister.  Milby Hayes was in the Hospital Corps with Elmer.  Milby was another soldier listed in the article above.  Milby Hayes was also a witness at the marriage of Elmer and Mary Catherine in April 23, 1911.  Bess and Ella B. were nieces of Mary Catherine and Maud.
     The article mentions that they served ices.  While trying to figure out what ices were, I found a book online: Ices, And How To Make Them: A Popular Treatise (1900). The overview says  On Cream, Water And Fancy Dessert Ices, Ice Puddings, Mousses, Parfait, Granites, Cooling Cups, Punches.  One can buy the book online, but I don't think I need that book in my collection.  I would guess ices are like ice cream.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sitting by a Warm Fire

     While sitting by the fire in our room at the Timber Lodge and watching the snow come down I started to think of our ancestors who couldn't get out of the weather and probably didn't enjoy the snow as much as we enjoy it.
     The Mannen family was visited by tragedy with two weather related deaths about a year apart.  In March, 1863 Henry Harrison Mannen was serving with the 94th Illinois Volunteers in Missouri.  He was sent out to forage for food for his company near Mountain Store, Missouri.  He accidentally fell into a stream and as a result  got pneumonia and died.  [This is an example of the hard times that the Civil War soldiers went through. Twice as many soldiers died from illness and disease as from battle wounds.  It is also a shame that the soldiers had to forage for their own food.]
     News of this reached his sister, Annetta Rebecca Mannen Baylor back in Downs, McLean County, Illinois and must have affected her terribly. Another brother, Thomas M Mannen was serving in the 12th Kansas Volunteer Infantry. A year after Henry died, Annetta was traveling to town to get word of Thomas and got caught in a sudden spring storm, took ill and died.  Henry left a widow and young son, while Annetta left her husband with two very young children.  Annetta was my 2nd great-grandmother.
    Below is an image of a letter from the army surgeon verifying his death.  This document is in the widow's pension file.  Henry's widow, Sylvia was attempting to get help from the government to help raise Henry's son.

Letter from army surgeon verifying Henry's death1,
Link to image of Henry's Tombstone

1.   "Mannen, Henry H (WC80217) › Page 8 -" 2012. 9 Oct. 2013 <>

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Scenic Route 4 over the Sierras

     We have been on the road for a few days.  We are resting and have settled in at the Timber Lodge in South Lake Tahoe. 
     Yesterday we traversed the Sierras on one of the lesser known roads, Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway.  We left Turlock (in the Central California Valley) about mid-morning and drove up into the foothills to the gold rush town of Angels Camp.  Angles Camp is famous as the home of Mark Twain's "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County".
     Heading up Highway 4 out of Angels Camp, we passed another gold rush town, Murphys.  Murphys is now filled with wineries.  We passed through the logging town of Arnold and then spent a few hours in Calaveras Big Trees State Park.  That would be a nice place to camp.
    As we continued up the road to higher elevations the road narrowed until it was basically a one lane road.  Two cars could pass but if you met up with a medium size or larger truck, one of the vehicles would need to back up to a wide spot.  Fortunately, the traffic was light yesterday.  
     I think this road had more curves than any road I have traveled. The elevation tops out at 8736 feet.  About 20 miles of road is narrow - narrower than my two car driveway.
     I couldn't help but think of our ancestor, James T. Lorton.  Even though no wagon trains used this route, it was one of the early routes over the mountains.  In a modern car this was a difficult drive and I can't imagine what the pioneers like James T. Lorton went through on their way to California.  
     To make matters worse James T. Lorton stated that they arrived in late November, 1849.  Tomorrow is Oct, 9 and the weather forecast is for 2"-4" of SNOW above 6000 feet.  We will see what it is like in the morning.

Click on the link for a little history and photos of Ebbetts Pass

Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway
North Fork Stanislaus River (Calavaras Big Trees State Park)

View South across the Stanislaus Drainage

Switchback on Highway 4
(It would be next to impossible to pass another car on the corner)
One half-mile stretch on the Highway

Fall Color

The road widened out at lower elevation and finally had a center line.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Oct 5, 1813 :The Battle of the Thames

Battle of the Thames
     When we last discussed Elisha Gates' involvement in the War of 1812 and the Battle of the Thames1, he and the other members of the Kentucky Mounted Volunteer Militia were building a fence across the peninsula and preparing to leave for Canada on Commodore Perry's ships. The army landed in Ontario near Malden and after a skirmish they started marching after the British and their allies.   The Great Shawnee Chief, Tecumseh lead the coalition of Native Americans.  He had gotten a promise that the British would stand and fight.  The American Army caught up with the British near Moraviantown along the Thames River.  The battle lasted only a few hours.  The British under General Proctor retreated soon after the battle began. Tecumseh was killed and as soon as word of his death spread through the tribes, the Native Americans coalition dissolved and the battle was over. Click on the link to read a more detailed history of the battle.
     Based upon the positioning of Simrall's Unit in this old map, it would appear that the heavy fighting was away from Elisha.  At the time of the battle the many trees provideds ome cover for the troops.  The Battle of the Thames (or as Canadians refer to it - The Battle of Moraviantown) was a decisive victory for the United States against Britain and was near the end of action in the northwest.  Soon the military engagements shifted to the east coast near Washington, D.C. and later to the southern states. 
     This army had been formed on July 31, 1813 and the men enlisted for a period of ninety days.  In order to get back to Kentucky by Oct 31 the men had to begin their return march immediately.  This was a major reason why the American Army didn't continue the pursuit of the British.
     In the following map the red markers show the army's route to battle. The red star is the location of the Battle of the Thames.  The green markers display the route returning to Kentucky. 

1. Young, Bennett H., The Battle of the Thames, 1903 "File:Battle-of-the-Thames-array.jpg - Wikimedia Commons." 2011. 24 Sep. 2013 <>

2. "Google Maps Engine Lite." 2012. 23 Aug. 2013 <>

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Nice Neighborhood

     It happened again.  I started with an 1866 tax document for W. H Mckie in LaGrange, Fayette County, Texas.  I started to search to see if I could determine where the McKie residence was located.  I didn't find what I wanted but while I was in the city directory database I searched for my great-grandparents, Samuel and Inez Hugus. I found that in 1914 they lived at 308 East Hardin Street, Findlay, Ohio.  By 1918 they had move to the north side of town to 2824 North Main Street. Samuel and Inez were still living at this address when Inez passed away in Dec 19, 1935.

     Using Google Street View, I attempted to find their house. It is a little difficult to see because of the large trees, but I noticed the house next door.  Wouldn't you have liked to have the Bigelows for neighbors?  It turns out that Charles H. Bigelow was a successful farmer and businessman and had one of the nicest homes in town. Click on the links below to see interior views of the house as well as additional views of the exterior.  The house is pretty nice but a little too much maintenance for me.  Charles H Bigelow and his second wife lived in the house until his death in 1927.  

Bigelow House in Winter

Bigelow House

Charles Bigelow House Interior

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Did James David Armstrong Vote Illegally?

     The obituary of James David Armstrong1 states that he was a lifelong Republican. The obituary also states that he had cast his first vote for the Whig candidate, General Winfield Scott.  General Scott ran for president in 1852.  We can forgive the two somewhat contradictory statement because the Whig Party collapsed after the 1852 election and was supplanted by the Republican Party.  
    But James Armstrong had only arrived three years earlier.  After arriving at Castle Garden - the precursor to Ellis Island- on Oct 22, 1949. he settled in Mercer County, New Jersey.  The naturalization law at that time allowed an immigrant to file a 'declaration of intent' after two years in the country and then three years later he could file a 'petition for naturalization'.  He became a citizen at that time.  This process could be completed in any federal court, state court, or county court.  The two steps did not have to take place in the same court.  Based solely on this law it would not have been legal for James to have voted in 1852.  Although it would have been perfectly legal for a non-citizen to support a presidential candidate. 
     Knowing exactly when and where an immigrant was naturalized is tricky.  Not all of the records are indexed so a search engine doesn't work.  I spent an hour yesterday going image by image in the Mercer County Records.  I looked at records from 1849 through 1852.  But that doesn't mean he wasn't a citizen.  I may be looking in the wrong court.  I may be in the wrong county.  I could be in the wrong state.  It was late so I may have missed the image.  It is possible that not all records were digitized yet.  (Back on August 16, I wrote about another ancestor who declaration of intent was found in the Harrison County Genealogical Society's files.)  But I am not giving up.
     So was James David Armstrong an illegal voter?  The jury is still out.  I will keep looking and I will let you know if I find anything. .    

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

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Vote Them All Out Like Watertown Did.

     Watertown, Massachusetts was founded in 1630 and for the first four years the church made decisions for the community.  Starting in 1634 a group of leaders (selectmen) was elected to make decisions for the town.  They were usually elected for a one year term.
     In 1638, the selectmen provoked public outrage by granting themselves farms.  The following year several were driven from office and it took years for them to regain their reputation1.  They were voted out.
     My ancestors, Samuel and Alice Stratton were in Watertown in 1647 although they may have been there earlier.  It is unlikely that Samuel and Alice Stratton were in Watertown in 1638 but I feel confident that they would have spoken up against the corruption.  Several times in the history of Watertown they were vocal against the leaders and accused them of accepting bribes.  
     Our current politicians appear to be equally corrupt.  When they leave office they have millions in the bank.  When they allow the government to be shut down they make sure that they get paid.  Will we learn from our ancestors by voting them out? 

1.  Thompson, Roger.  Divided We Stand Watertown Massachusetts 1630-1680, University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, 2001