Tuesday, January 28, 2014

John Andrew Simison's 800+ Acres

     A previous post included contents of John A. Simison's will.  (Previous post.)  His probate accounts had shown ownership of about 800 acres.   
     The General Land Office Records contains several land patents for John A Simison.   Some of the land appears to have been earned by others as a result of military service. John Simison must have purchased the title to the land from the soldiers or their estates. The 40 acre parcel came as a result of John O. G. Hamilton's (deceased) service and the 160 acre parcel from John Canfield's service.  Both men had served in the Mexican-American War in the mid 1840s.  The other parcels appear to have been purchased directly by John Simison.  The sale of some of the land appears to have been finalized after he passed away. 
Land Patent Image1
Portion of Survey - John A. Simison owned land in Section 2 and 12.

     Mt. Vernon is about a mile east of his land.  John's brother, Boyd Denny Simison, owned land about a mile east of Mt Vernon.  Boyd Denny's land was very close to the Tensaw River and now appears to be swampland.  Much of Boyd Denny's land was in Baldwin County rather than Mobile County.  The Tensaw River forms part of the boundary between the counties.
     Below is a Google Map showing the location of some of the land that John Simison owned around the time of his death.2  

1.  "Search Results - BLM GLO Records." 2011. 28 Jan. 2014 <http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/results/default.aspx?searchCriteria=type=pa>

2.  Google Maps Engine, Google Imagery 2014 Digital Globe, Landsat, NOAA,  USDA Farm Service Agency.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Can We Ignore Or Justify The Discrepancies?

     I have been following the Simison Family from Alabama back to Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. John Andrew Simison was a son of Samuel Simison and Margaret Denny.  Margaret Denny was a daughter of William Denny and Agnes Parker.  Agnes Parker was the daughter of John Parker and Margaret McClure.  (John and Margaret Parker would be Jayme's GGGGGG-Grandparents.)  I have found the wills of both Margaret and John Parker.  Even though they lived on the same farm, their wills were recorded in different counties. Cumberland County was formed out of Lancaster County in 1750.  It may have taken several years for the new county to be fully functioning, which could account for John Parker's will being recorded in Lancaster County.   
     But there are discrepancies between the wills.  Are these in fact the same family?  I am not sure why other researchers fail to mention John and Esther.  A few researchers mention Margaret's will but not John's.  I am inclined to believe at this point that we are looking at husband and wife.  Margaret's will does mention that she is the relict (widow) of John Parker.  One executor of John's will is brother-in-law, John McClure.  Margaret's maiden name was McClure.  This together with the similar names of children makes me think we are looking at one family.
     Here are the children's names as stated in the sources: 

     I haven't followed Richard and Andrew but apparently they headed to Kentucky.  So Margaret didn't mention them because they may not have been in touch with them.  
     Where do John and Esther fit?  Is John the same as Andrew? (Remember John Andrew is a grandson of Agnes.)  Did John and Esther die young?  What was the disorder mentioned?
     Further research may clear up the discrepancies in the names and birth and death dates.

*In some old records, Nancy and Agnes are versions of the same name

Family search basically states that Agnes and Nancy are interchangeable
Agnes = Agatha

Agnes = Nancy

Agnes = Inez

Nancy              Agnes, Ann, Nan, Nannie
Agnes              Aggy, Ann, Nessie

What were some common personal nicknames in the 18th and 19th centuries?
Nancy is nickname for Ann, Anna, Agnes

1.  Egle, William Henry, Pennsylvania Genealogies: Scotch-Irish and German Lane S Hart, Printer and Binder 1886

2.  "Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994." Images. FamilySearch. https://familysearch.org : accessed 2014.  Lancaster County Will Book J Page 164

3.  "Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994." Images. FamilySearch. https://familysearch.org : accessed 2014.  Cumberland County Will Book E Page 257

Thursday, January 23, 2014

More On John Andrew Simison (Hailey's And Abbey's GGGGG-Grandfather)

Note: This morning, as Lizzie and I were on our morning walk, I got a feeling that I had identified a relationship incorrectly.  In my last post I mistakenly stated that John Andrew Simison was Jayme's GG-Grandfather.  His daughter was her GG-Grandmother, which makes John Andrew Jayme's GGG-Grandfather. (I have updated the last post so that it is now correct.)

     The probate court records1 dealing with the appraisal of John Andrew Simison's estate, some nineteen pages, tell us some about how he lived and worked.  
     Both John Andrew and his brother, Boyd Denny lived near Mt. Vernon, Alabama.  His land was adjacent to the land of the former U. S. Arsenal, which is now occupied by Searcy Hospital.  The records mention that he owned 800 acres of pine land.  The land also contains a grist mill and saw mill.
     The 1850 Census2 lists him as farmer, but he obviously was more than that.  In addition to farming, he was a small businessman.  He had at least five men working on the property.  (The census showed three laborers and, as much as we hate to admit it, two slaves.  The court records showed two male slaves, named Monday and Bob.  They were valued at $800 each - about $20,000 in today's money.)
     The grist mill would have enabled him to grind grain into flour or meal for other farmers in the area.  In addition to the grist mill, John Andrew Simison owned a saw mill.  Since he owned 800 acres of pine forest it is probably safe to say that he was cutting down his trees and using his mill to prepare lumber for the burgeoning population in Mobile.  According to another researcher, John Andrew and his brother, Boyd Denny, sold shingles for homes in mobile.  (During the time John Andrew had lived in Alabama the population of Mobile had increased tenfold.)
    Carpenter's tools are listed in the appraisal.  Since his grandfather constructed the courthouse back in Pennsylvania, you might expect him to have been taught the skills to be a carpenter.    He owned oxen and cattle as you would expect of a farmer, as well as a mule, and hogs.

     He must have had some education since the estate contained 'One Lot of Books'.  (In wills of his ancestors, money was left for the education of children and grandchildren, so education appeared to have been important in the family.)  I would imagine that his daughters may have had some education.  
    Someone in the family had musical training, since a piano and music stand were listed in the estate.  I can easily visualize Eliza Ann entertaining guests by playing the piano in the parlor of a plantation style house in the antebellum south. 

1.  "Alabama, Probate Records, 1809-1985." Images. FamilySearch. https://familysearch.org : accessed 2014.  Mobile County Administrative Accounts Book 33 page 538-556

2.  Seventh Census of the United States, 1850; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, 1009 rolls); Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29; National Archives, Washington, D.C.Year: 1850; Census Place:  , Mobile, Alabama; Roll: M432_11; Page: 477A; Image: 407.

Monday, January 20, 2014

John Andrew Simison - Jayme's GGG-Grandfather

     I haven't blogged as much lately.  In part this is because I was hot on the trail of some new family tree information.   It is great when some things come together and what you find locks in some relationships and dates.  
     It would appear that John Andrew Simison was born Sept 30, 1800 in Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania to Samuel Simison and Margaret Denny.1 At some point in time, John Andrew, his brother, Boyd Denny, and sister, Eliza, migrated south to Mobile County, Alabama.   
     While looking through Alabama records on familysearch.org, I located Probate Record for John Andrew Simison.  The records came from Court Minutes, Administrative Accounts and a will.  There are a total of 25 pages of documents in the county records.
     The will2 mentions John Andrew's two daughters.  One daughter, Margaret Isabella had married Erastus S. Barnett in 1849.  The other daughter, Eliza Ann, was not married at the time that the will was written.  The will was written on Jan 30, 1855 and entered in to evidence on April 20, 1855.  (Some researchers have stated that John Andrew Simison passed away Jan 31, 1855.  No proof has been offered for that date however it certainly falls between Jan 30th and April 20th.)  

     One nice piece of information shows up in the Administrative Accounts where in 1856 Francis Walker is referred to as the son-in-law of John Andrew and Eliza Ann Walker is mentioned as his daughter.  Francis Walker and Eliza Ann had been married on June 4, 1855.  
     Another interesting tidbit showed up in the court record when it was written that the widow, Eliza Simison, missed one court session because she had traveled back to her home state of New York.  She was represented in court by Francis Walker.  (She lived with her daughter and son-in-law until her death in 1900 in Texas.)     

1.  Fleming, George Thornton. History of Pittsburgh and Environs. Chicago and New York: The American Historical Society, 1922. http://books.google.com/

2.   "Alabama, Probate Records, 1809-1985." Images. FamilySearch. https://familysearch.org : accessed 2014.  Mobile County Will Book 2 page 350

Home Delivery

     The milkman is a thing of the past.  When I was young, a milkman would deliver milk,butter, and eggs to our door.  He delivered these products on a regular basis. We would place empty glass milk cartons outside the door and the next morning we could pick up bottles full of fresh milk.   We had milk home delivery when our oldest son was young.  Unfortunately, that is one service that is gone.  It was my understanding that milkmen weren't paid particularly well.  With the rise of the cost of gas, transportation costs became prohibitive.  (The milkman tradition survives in some locations but not around here)
    The Helms bakery man was another delivery service that is no longer with us.  The Helms bakery was a Southern California fixture for years.  If my mother needed bread we would listen around four o'clock for the whistle that signaled the arrival of the Helms Bakery man.  The back of the panel truck was filled with drawers full of bakery products. The supermarkets, that began carrying fresh bakery goods, doomed the Helms Bakery.
     Will the mailman be the next to go?   Will modern technology help revive or create new delivery services?

1.  Strupp, Joe. Th New Jersey Monthly, "The Milkman Cometh." Last modified Feb 20, 2008. Accessed January 20, 2014. http://njmonthly.com/articles/lifestyle/people/the-milkman-cometh.html.

2.  Weston, Nicole. "Baking Bites." Accessed January 20, 2014. http://bakingbites.com/2013/08/the-helms-bakery-truck-culver-city-ca/.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Was my dad on the USS Joseph Hewes?

     My dad rarely talked about war.  He preferred to keep World War II stories to himself like most men who have seen the horrors of war.   I do remember one story that he told me about his  war experiences.  But getting that story, as I remember it, to match up with what is written in the history books has been difficult.  It could be that my memory has mixed up parts of his stories with books That I have read or movies/TV shows/documentaries that I have watched.
     He told one story about the invasion at Fedala.  (An earlier blog entry on the invasion at Fedala)  I remember him talking about the ship that transported him from Virginia to Morocco in the fall of 1942.  He told how the ship was sunk in the harbor while men were preparing to go ashore.  
     Was my father referring to the ship that had transported him across the ocean?
     While researching the battles in which he participated,  I found that several ships were sunk at around the time of the invasion at Fedala.   The USS Joseph Hewes seems to fit some, but not all of the circumstances.
USS Joseph Hewes (AP-50)
     The USS Joseph Hewes (AP-50) was built in 1930 as Excalibur, a passenger liner.  In 1942, the US Navy took the ship over and in May, 1942 the ship was commissioned as USS Joseph Hewes (AP-50).  In late October, 1942, the USS Joseph Hewes left Hampton Roads, Virginia, carrying over 1000 troops of the Third Division. Based upon the size of the Third Division in preparation for the invasion, somewhere around fifteen troop ships would have been required to transport all of the men in the division.  
     But the USS Joseph Hewes had offloaded soldiers early in the morning of Nov. 8, 1942.   The ship then anchored offshore and took casualties aboard.  At 1950 hours on Nov. 11, the USS Joseph Hewes was hit by a torpedo from the German U-boat, U-173. The USS Joseph Hewes sank in under forty-five minutes.  Had my dad somehow been back on the ship when it was torpedoed?
     Was my father referring to one of the landing craft which took men from the troop transports to the beach?
     Over 300 landing craft (LCA) were used on the first day.  On the morning of the first day as many as half of the LCA were either temporarily or permanently out of service.   Some of them were hit by enemy fire.  Some were stuck on reefs offshore.  Some were turned sideways and swamped in the surf.  Had my father been referring to a LCA as the ship that sunk under him?  I think he mentioned that men were jumping in to the water with all their gear.  Many sank right to the bottom.
     I wish I knew the answers to the questions about the ship that my dad said sank under him.
     At the time of the landing at Fedala, Lt. John B. Armstrong was in the Third Division, 15th Infantry Regiment, Company E.

     (On a side note, five days after the U-173 sunk the USS Joseph Hewes, the U-173 was itself sunk by US destroyers.) 

1.  Taggart, Donald, History of the Third Infantry Division in World War II, Battery Press, Nashville. 1987

2. Atkinson, Rick. An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa  Henry Holy and Company, New York, 2002

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Is it Uncle Herb or Uncle Jim? Part Deux

     On the eighth of January of this year, we were trying to decide if Uncle Herb and Uncle Jim were misidentified in one or more pictures that are floating around the internet.  I located two additional pictures from Rick Platt's ancestry page.  I cropped the photos in order to focus on Herb.
     I have no problem saying that these three pictures are of the same man. 

 The first two are identified as Herb, and the third is from the group picture below.  I am reasonably certain that in this group picture, that the names of Jim and Herb were switched so the names should be those in red

Incidentally, here is a younger picture of Herb.

And here is an even younger picture of Herb.  That is Herb on the right.  Frankie is on the left.  Frankie passed away at the age of six.

      Herb had a son, Glenn Willis Armstrong.  Glenn Willis died at the age of seven.  His first wife, Eleanor Forte, passed away in 1934.   Herb remarried in 1957.  He retired to the Ozark Mountains in southern Missouri, where he died in 1980 at the age of 88. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Frozen in Time

     I made three trips to Ohio while my Grandpa and Grandma Armstrong were alive.  Pictures prove that I was there in 1946, as toddler, although I don't remember that trip.   

Christmas - 1946 
That is me on the far right.
     We went as a family in 1955.  This picture was taken on July 4, 1955 at the reunion.

Family Reunion - July 1955
That's me in the middle row, second form the left.
     In 1966, I traveled east just before my senior year of college. We played a lot of cards and visited relatives.  Grandma passed away in 1967.

Trip during the summer of 1966
Notice the 1955 Reunion picture on the wall.

     In addition to those trips east, my grandparents made a few trips out to California.  
     But in all the pictures my grandfather look remarkably the same. Grandma looks a little older in the 1966.  
     I don't think they aged that much.  But they were getting older.  Grandma passed away a year later and Grandpa passed away in 1971, just prior to my marriage.  I wish my wife and sons could have met them.  But their image is frozen in my mind.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Is it Uncle Herb or Uncle Jim?

     In 1914, shortly after my father was born, his family traveled back to Bloomington, Illinois to see his father's family.  John McClure Armstrong and Isabelle Baylor had 12 children.  Elmer John Armstrong, my grandfather, was the oldest.  While Elmer was back home, the family had this photo taken.  A few years back, I borrowed a copy of the photo and scanned it.   My aunt, Jane Armstrong Healey, was born in 1912 and so would known these siblings on numerous occasions.  She identified the siblings and I transferred that information onto the photo.  I sent this picture out to family and used it in a family book. 
     And then …

     And then I found this picture on the internet.   

    This picture had to be taken prior to June, 1962.  Jim passed away in that month.  Everything is fine except for the fact that Jim and Herb are switched from what I had known. Two other pictures seem to back up the identification in the 1914 picture, except those pictures were also identified by Aunt Jane.  I called my brother who had seen Herb in the 1960s and he stated that Herb was of slight build and shorter that Elmer.  That would seem to corroborate Aunt Jane's identifications.  It should also be noted that the genealogical data that Aunt Jane passed down is correct.   She was pretty darn smart.  My cousin, Rick, used some facial recognition software on the pictures.  Although not definitive, it seems to back up Aunt Jane.  
    Now I am sending out these pictures to some other relatives to see what we can find out. I will let you know what I find out. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ellie's and Sachi's Wedding

Ellie and Sachi
St. Patricks Church
Carlsbad, CA
      Ellie and Sachi were married yesterday.   They started the day with a Roman Catholic Ceremony.   Then they removed to a second location with a shortened Indian Marriage Ceremony, celebrating Sachi's heritage.  Finally,  the wedding party and guests adjourned to a local brewery. The day ended 12 hours after it started.
    It certainly was a memorable day as a great time was had by all. 
    Sachi's family indicated that normal weddings can last three days. I don't think I would make it past the first day.
     I did take the time to update data in my genealogical software

Iron Fist Brewery
Vista, CA

Ellie and Sachi
Vista Community Center
Vista, CA

Updated genealogical data

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Scottish Prisoners of War in Massachusetts

     Poor people without means to pay their own way to America could voluntarily sign themselves into bondage in return for passage.  The person who paid for the passage then had use of servant for a fixed period of time.  But was it always voluntary servitude?
     In 1651, during the War of Three Kingdoms, Cromwell defeated the forces loyal to Charles II in the battle of Worcester.  Thousands of Scottish men (and Irish) who, for the most part, had been forced into service by their clan chiefs were captured and marched to London.  Those Scotsmen never saw their homeland again.  The men were sold into forced labor in gold mines, plantations, and other colonial tasks.  
      In 1652, a ship, carrying almost 300 prisoners of war, anchored in Boston Harbor.  These prisoners were then sold into servitude.1  Scotsmen were considered the lowest class of people.  They spoke a strange language. They did not practice the correct religion.  Eventually, some of these servants were able to purchase their own land, marry, and start a family.
     My ancestor, Samuel Stratton, was an early colonist living in Watertown, Massachusetts who purchased one of these Scottish prisoners for six year term.2  I sure hope he was a reasonable master.

1.   "Scots for Sale - New England Historic Genealogical Society." 2013. 4 Jan. 2014 <http://www.americanancestors.org/scots-for-sale/>

2.  Thompson, Roger. Divided We Stand: Watertown, Massachusetts, 1630-1680. Amherst: Univ of Massachusetts Press, 2001.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

To Migrate Or Not To Migrate.

     Ellie, my niece, is getting married this weekend.  And then she and her new husband are leaving for Florida.   He has a great employment opportunity that he can't pass up.   
     It is interesting how some young couples strike out on their own and others stay close to home.   
     Elisha Gates and his bride, Christina Ann Summers left Maryland for Kentucky shortly after their marriage although they moved to a region where many Marylanders had settled.  
     Obviously, some of my earliest colonial ancestors left Europe without any hope of ever seeing family again.  John Stratton, Richard Gardiner, Jacob Berlin, John Hugus and many others left England, France and Germany to start a new life in the colonies.
     James David Armstrong left Belfast in 1849 about two years after his marriage.  To the best of my knowledge he and his wife , Margaret, never saw their parents again.   John McClure Armstrong left Illinois for Nebraska shortly after his marriage although he ended up back in Illinois within a couple of years.
     Annetta Rebecca Mannen married David Baylor and within a month her family migrated from Illinois to Kansas.  
     My own parents left Ohio and came to California. On the other hand, my wife and I wanted to stay close to family. 
     What must it have been like for my ancestors?  It was not like they could hop on a plane and see family within a few hours.   
     At least we can follow Ellie's and Sachi's lives on Facebook and Instagram or use Skype or FaceTime to talk with them.  My brother can hop on a plane and be in Florida within five or six hours.  There was not chance of that before modern times.