Thursday, May 29, 2014

Amos Fox - Wintering in Valley Forge & Crossing the Delaware

     When I was young, my mother showed me the picture of Washington Crossing the Delaware1 and told me, "the soldier at the bow of the boat is one of our ancestors."  Years later, I learned more about the painting and learned that it is extremely doubtful that the artist knew any of my ancestors.  (The artist,  Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, was born in 1816 in Germany. As a child he came to America, living in Virginia and Philadelphia.)  As with many family stories there is some part of the story that may be true, so in my genealogical research I am attempting to uncover that truth.  Were any of my ancestors with Washington's army when he crossed the Delaware?   Since the army had left and later returned to Valley Forge, were any ancestors at Valley Forge. 
     Several of my ancestors were soldiers in the Revolution and at least one of them fought in the battles at the end of 1776. A recent New England Historical Genealogical Society's newsletter contained a link to the non-profit Friends of Valley Forge Park.  The Friends of Valley Forge maintain a database of soldiers who served in Valley Forge2.  Valley Forge Muster Rolls   Amos Fox is listed in their database.

     My 4th great-grandfather, Amos Fox, was from Connecticut and had served in the Revolution.  His wife was Mary Stratton, and Dency was his oldest daughter.  Chester (my 3rd great-grandfather) was his youngest child and second son with that name.  The birth and death dates match the records that I have uncovered.  Pension files obtained from the National Archives for the time period verify that Amos Fox served under Col. Jedediah Huntington at this particular time in history.  Oddly, the pension files mention several battles that Amos would have fought under Col. Huntington (later General Huntington), but the files do not mention Valley Forge or the Battle of Trenton.  But it would appear that soldiers serving under General Huntington were at Valley Forge. Amos Fox was discharged from the service in January 1777 in Crumpond, New York, which is about midway between New Jersey and his hometown of Glastonbury. 
         So was Amos the ancestor that my mother mentioned?  I had assumed that it was one of the Pennsylvanian ancestors but it appears to be my Connecticut ancestor.

1.  Emanual Leutze, “Washington Crossing the Delaware” (1851); Gift of John Stewart Kennedy, 1897, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (

2.  "Valley Forge Muster Roll." 2010. 2 Mar. 2014 <>

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

No Marriage License for These People

    As I was browsing through a volume of marriage licenses from Mobile County, Alabama, I came across the first page of Book 291. Across the top was written:  
Lists of names of persons to whom
Marriage Licenses must not be issued

     What could cause a name to appear on such a list.  Is this what you did when you didn't like a daughter's beau?  I wonder if any of these couples eventually got married.  It would be interesting to learn the story behind the names.

1.  "Alabama, Marriages, 1816-1957," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 24 May 2014),  citing reference ; FHL microfilm 1550484  Book 29 Page 1.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day - 2014

Caption:  Only men left who joined company Sept. 1917
Photo - March 1, 1919, Appenai Locis Bellune (?) France

Enough said.

Note: My grandfather, Elmer J. Armstrong is on the far right.  I have been unsuccessful in my attempts to decipher the location in France. Maybe one of you can figure it out.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Some Things Get Better

     Yesterday, I wrote about how the grave stone of Elisha had deteriorated in the last decade.  But not everything has gotten worse.  
     My grandmother visited St Gregory Cemetery in Samuels, Kentucky around 1950.  Two pictures survive of her visit. The first shows a row of grave stones of her mother and her maternal grandparents.  In 2005 we visited the same cemetery and happened to take a pictures from a similar position.  In the fifties, the cemetery was overgrown with brush and appears to be in disrepair.  Not so now.  
     By examining the following photos, you can see that the community of St. Gregory Church is now maintaining the cemetery in good condition.  A big THANK YOU for all who help maintain the cemetery from this descendant of at least six direct ancestors who are buried here.

1950 photo of grave of Eliza Jane Gates Blandford in the foreground

Similar view from 2005

The first four graves (seen above) from left to right: Eliza Jane Gates Blandford;
 Eliza's brother, Truman James Gates;
Eliza's parents, Elizabeth Mattingly Gates and William R. Gates.

Here is a wider view of the cemetery in 2005 
Photo taken in 2008 (courtesy of Amanda-findagrave contributor #47289435)

A low-resolution picture of my grandmother, Mary Cathering Blandford Armstrong,
 standing next to the grave of her mother, Eliza Jane Gates Blandford. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Disappearing Before Our Eyes

      In the autumn of 2005, we made a trip east.  There were two reasons for the trip.  The first reason was to visit an aunt and cousins in and near Columbus, Ohio.  The second reason was to visit the graves of ancestors in Ohio and Kentucky. 
     My third great-grandfather, Elisha Gates, is buried in St. Gregory Cemetery in Samuels, Kentucky.  Samuels is located in Nelson County, about eight miles northwest of Bardstown.  
     Yesterday, while on the findagrave website, I browsed through the names of those buried in the cemetery.  I came across a memorial for a person with the surname Gates but with unknown birth and death dates.  I took a closer look.  
     It is surprising how much the stone has changed in seven years.  Compare my picture,taken in 2005, with the picture taken in 2012. The person who took the latest picture had been uncertain about the name and dates.  The image will appear different based upon several factors.  Those factors include the time of year; the time of day; the weather; and the quality of the original camera.
     But the stone has changed.  How long will it last?  It will eventually disappear.  Will our digital images last as long?
The picture on the left was taken in 2005, while the one on the right was taken in 2012

Note: Names used for the cemetery and the nearby parish church:  St. Gregory; St. Gregorys; St. Gregory's; St. Gregory the Great; 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Small Town Americana

The Gazebo at Old Town Poway Park
     Yesterday, we drove a few miles down Interstate 15 in order to listen to the Shoreline Symphonic Winds play at the Pomerado Community Band Festival in Poway.  The band set up in the gazebo of the Old Town Poway Park.  As I was enjoying the band play, I was reminded of images of Small Town Americana. 
     The music was great and in spite of the recent nearby fires, the sky was clear and weather was great.  
     As the band played I though back to our ancestors who played in community bands like L. J. Kilbourn and J. F. Bell in Hugoton, Kansas1.  It is too bad we can't go back in time to listen to them play.

         Why did we drive for an hour to listen to an hour of music?  It might have something to do with our son, Luke, who played the baritone sax in the Shoreline Symphonic Winds.

1. "The Early 1900s." The History of Stevens County & Its People. Hugoton, Kansas: Stevens County Historical Association, 1979. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Plus One

      And just like that their family grew by one.  

     The Gates family was one of the first family that I researched.  I had gotten the name of my 2nd great-grandfather, William R. Gates from my Aunt Jane.  From there I started examining the census records.  The 1850 Census was the first to state the names of all members of a household.  In addition to Elisha and Christina, the 1850  Census lists John, L [Elizabeth Louisa], F [ Francis Leo], and M [Martha Ellen] Gates.  The census didn't mention William Raymond Gates but he had married in 1849 and lived nearby. 
     Eventually, I found baptismal records for two additional children, Susanna Emily and James Ferdinand.  I never found James F. in any later records so I might guess that he had died young.
     After those initial records I spent a lot of time trying to prove the connection between William and Elisha.  (That proof showed up in a land deed where Elisha mentions his sons, John G. and William R. Gates.)  Then I began researching Elisha's ancestors and William's descendants.
     Now fast forward several years, after I have found Elisha's ancestors and I have begun research for Christina Ann Summers Gates' parents.  One of the pieces of information that I thought might help was to determine John G. Gates' middle name.  His will didn't help but his will and census records did give me his wife's name.  Yesterday I received an email from my cousin, Rick. He was in Salt Lake City on business and asked if I needed anything from the Family History Library.  While I waited for his answer on John G Gates' marriage record I continued looking to fill in a few missing records. 
    About the time I heard back from Rick on the marriage record (which didn't have his full name) I found another marriage record for Mary Ann Gates and William Sims.  Elisha sign the consent for the marriage.  Mary Ann would have been about 16 years old.  Was this the correct family or some new family group?  
    After evaluating some other documents that I have collected, I have concluded that Mary Ann Gates was an older sister to John and William.
          Mary Ann was the name of Elisha's mother.
          The Simms family lived next door to the Gates family.  
          Mary Ann Sims was a sponsor for the baptism of James Ferdinand.  
          Emily was a sponsor for Mary Ann's child.  
          A daughter with the age of Mary Ann is consistent with data in the 1830 Census.  
    So Elisha and Christina Gates's family just grew by one. 


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ole A. Henrikson and His B-25

     Ole was the love of Grandma Betty's life.  At least that is what she said.  We never got to meet him. We are not quite sure when or where Grandma Betty married Ole Henrikson.  Unfortunately, we do know when the marriage ended.  
     One surviving postcard, addressed to Betty Henrikson, is dated Oct 11, 1943 So it is probably safe to assume that they married prior to that date.  Ole was born in Fort Ransom, North Dakota in 1920.  Before the war he had worked on a nearby farm.  After coming to California, he worked some as a bartender but almost all the pictures that have survived show Ole in his Army Air Corps uniform or flight suit.  
     In November, 1944 his unit was sent to Arizona for training.  Late on Nov 20, 1944 his plane crashed about eight miles south-west of Chandler, Arizona.  His body was brought back to California and he is buried in Valhalla Memorial Park.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Elisha Gates and Anchovie Hills

    Over the last week, I have been in contact with a few people who work for the Prince George's County Department of Parks and Recreation.  Their responsibilities included the many museums in the county as well as local history and archeology.  With their help I think that I have narrowed down the area where the Gates family lived.  
     Without researching original deeds and families, it would appear that an early settler from Scotland, Alexander Magruder, owned a significant amount of land in the vicinity of of the intersection Croom Road and Magruders Ferry Road.  Part of his land was the original tract called Anchovie Hills.  Some of this land was passed to children or subdivided and sold. Eventually Peter Gates purchased over one hundred acres.  He and his son added to this over the years until Elisha, Peter's grandson, sold several hundred acres between 1817 and 1827.  
     Our helpful Prince George's County archeologist suggests the stream, called Aquasco Branch in one of the deeds, is most likely a branch of Black Swamp Creek.  In addition to this our friendly archeologist suggested a land ownership map that I had not seen.  If we compare a few names on that map with other known families in the area then Elisha's land should have been about where I have placed the yellow house on the map below. 

In this old map1 you can locate several names that were in the deeds for land that was bought or sold by the Gates' family.  Elisha sold land in 1817 to James H Gibbons.  Peter Gates purchased land from the Sasscer(Saucer) family in 1760.  I have been in contact with another researcher this week and we suspect that Christina Gates' mother's maiden name is Gwynn. (We have not proven that yet, but I am optimistic.)

    Recently, when searching for 'Anchovy Hills' I had spelled it the way it appeared in the newest deed I had found.  Based on information I received from Prince George's County, I learned that the original spelling, 'Anchovie Hills' was the preferred spelling.  I found that there is an Anchovie Hills Wildlife Sanctuary. 

Here is a link to another researcher's blog on Anchovie Hills.

Anchovie Hills - Magruders Tobacco Landing

And a youtube video.

1. Hopkins, G.M.,  Atlas of Fifteen Miles Around Washington Including the County of Prince George Maryland, Philadelphia, 1878

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

An Answer To My Prayer (Email)?

     For years I have been trying to find out where Elisha Gates lived in Prince George's County, Maryland.  As yesterday's blog entry stated I was trying to find Aquasco Creek since a land deed stated that part of Anchovy Hills lay along this creek/stream.  I sent out two emails, one to the Prince George's County Historical Society and the other to the Prince George's Park Department.  My email was a request for any information about Aquasco or Anchovy Hills.  I sent one to the Park Department because the department included several historical parks and museums.  
     This morning I heard back from Mary Haley-Amen, the Facility Director of the Marietta and Patuxent Rural Life Museums and Natural and Historical Resources Division (NHRD) Historic Resources Manager.  Her email asked that i contact her directly as she had "quite a lot of information on Anchovy Hills".  She sent alone a few pictures of a house that would have been on the property that Elisha Gates owned.  I will pass along anything I learn and I will share the pictures if the pictures are in the public domain or if I can get permission to share them.  Based upon the preliminary information that Mary Haley-Amen sent me it appears that Anchovy Hills is about five miles north of Aquasco on yesterday's map.  
    Here is a link to the museums in the area. Patuxent Rural Life Museums 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Where is Aquasco Creek?

     A deed1 which transfers land to the Gates family in Prince George's County mentions Aquasco Creek. Since I have been trying to determine the location of the tract of land called Anchovy Hills, Aquasco Creek may be the ticket.  So where is Aquasco Creek.
Detail from Prince George's County Court (Land Records) JRM 1, p. 84
     As shown on Google Maps2, there is a location in Maryland called Aquasco.  It lies at the intersection of Maryland Route 381, Aquasco Road, and Maryland Route 233, Dr. Bowen Road in rural Prince George's County.  There are plenty of creeks in the region.  Which one is Aquasco Creek?     

Using  USGS Geographic Names Information System GNIS There are 5 uses of the name Aquasco.  Unfortunately, none of them are creeks or streams.  

     Maps that I have found from the nineteenth century do no show Aquasco Creek.  The place now called Aquasco was called Woodville at that time.  None of the later deeds or maps show Anchovy Hills or Aquasco Creek.  Unfortunately names of locations do change.
    I have written to the historical society so maybe someone there will know.

Martenet's Map of Prince George's County, Maryland3

1. Maryland State Archives   Prince George's County Court (Land Records) JRM 1, p. 84-5, MSA_CE65_30. Date viewed 05/02/2014. 

2. Google Maps Engine, Google Imagery 2013 Digital Globe, State of Ohio / OSIP, U.S. Geological Survey, USDA Farm Service Agency.

3.  Martenet, Simon J.. "Martenet's Map of Prince George's County, Maryland." . Library of Congress, 1 Jan. 1861. Web. 4 May 2014. <>.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May Queen

      Yesterday was the anniversary of the date when Garna Bell McBee was crowned May Queen. (Circa 1942)
     Today is the fourth anniversary of Garna's passing. She is missed.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Only Henry Can Get a Copy of His Death Ceritficate

Only Henry can obtain his Death Certificate until 2020.
Ella Mae is smiling because she knows that I can get her Death Certificate next year.  

     Over the years I have tried to locate some records of events that occurred in Oklahoma.  Henry McBee (Jayme's great-grandfather) passed away in 1945.  I know he lived in Hooker, Texas County, Oklahoma.  He is buried in Hooker.  But I will have to wait until 2020 to obtain his death certificate and to prove that he died.  The law of the State of Oklahoma states that for the first seventy-five years after a death in Oklahoma the only person that can be legally receive a copy of a death record is the person that died.  Go figure.  Oklahoma SB 1448 was signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin on April 30, 2014.  
     Guy McBee and Betty Kilbourne (Jayme's grandparents) were married in Oklahoma in 1924 (we think).  Betty was only fourteen years old at the time.  We will be able to get a copy of their marriage record in 2024.  If I don't live that long then maybe my granddaughters, Hailey or Abbey, can get a copy of the record for me. If it turns out that Guy and Betty were not married in Texas County, Oklahoma as we have been told, then we will have to search across the border in Kansas.  Kansas isn't much better at releasing genealogical records.