Friday, March 31, 2017

Presidential Connections

To be honest, I've avoided thinking much about the presidency recently. However, over on wikitree, a contributor named Frank Gill posted this really useful list of presidents with Mayflower connections. Since the Dean line also has Mayflower connections, I'm re-posting it here and highlighting our relationships with these presidents. I've literally highlighted those Mayflower ancestors we share, and below I've discussed what this means for our relationship to those presidents.

U.S. Presidents With Mayflower Pilgrim Ancestry

By Contributor June 25, 2014
When it comes to running for President of the United States, it never hurts to be able to claim Mayflower ancestry. Several presidents could trace their lineage to one or more of the 102 passengers who sailed on the famous ship that drifted across the Atlantic Ocean for over two months in the fall of 1620 before landing at Plymouth Rock.
John Adams and John Quincy Adams
Only four generations separated the second president from his Mayflower forebears. Those Mayflower passengers were John Alden, Priscilla Mullins and her parents William and Alice Mullins. John Quincy Adams, sixth president and son of John Adams, obviously shared the same ancestors.
Zachary Taylor
The 12th president was also the second cousin of James Madison, the fourth president. As for his Mayflower ancestry, Taylor is descended from one of the more illustrious Mayflower passengers, William Brewster and his wife Mary. Also in his Mayflower line is Isaac Allerton.
Ulysses S. Grant
Of all the Mayflower passengers, Richard Warren may have the most living descendants. The first president who could trace his ancestry to Warren was U.S. Grant, the 18th president who also was the victorious Union general during the Civil War.
James Garfield
Sometimes it is better not to know your ancestry, especially if you find out there was an axe murderer or rapist in your direct line. Garfield’s Mayflower ancestor, John Billington, was convicted of murder and hung. It was the first execution in the Plymouth colony. Billington was a signer of the Mayflower Compact but later became a troublemaker and shot and killed a fellow colonist. Garfield’s other Mayflower ancestors were Elinor Billington, John’s wife, and their son Francis.
John Calvin Coolidge
Recent research credits “Silent Cal” with Mayflower ancestry through Pilgrims William and Alice Mullins, John Alden and wife Priscilla Mullins, and Edward Doty. This of course makes Coolidge a cousin of the Adamses.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Many sources only cite FDR’s Dutch ancestry through the Roosevelt (derived from van Rosenvelt) line, and his French Huguenot heritage through the Philip de Lannoy (changed to Delano) line. Despite his Dutch surname, FDR has more Mayflower ancestry than any other president. Both his parents, who were distant cousins, had Mayflower lines. Roosevelt’s Mayflower ancestors include John Tilley, Joan Hurst, Elizabeth Tilley, John Howland, Isaac Allerton, Mary Norris, Degory Priest, Mary Allerton, Richard Warren, Francis Cooke and John Cooke. Through Warren FDR was more closely related to U.S. Grant than to Teddy Roosevelt, who shared FDR’s last name but was only a fifth cousin.
George Herbert Walker Bush and George Walker Bush
The Bush family has been able to transform its image and present itself as a Texas clan. But over the generations they were actually New England Yankees with quite a bit of Mayflower ancestry. The Bush Mayflower ancestry comes from John Tilley, Joan Hurst, Elizabeth Tilley, John Howland and Francis Cooke. Henry Sampson, a forebear of Barbara Bush, is an ancestor of G.W. Bush but not his father. An interesting note on Howland is that he was washed overboard in a storm during the Mayflower journey but was miraculously rescued. By surviving he became an ancestor to two Bush presidents and FDR.
Several First Ladies also had Mayflower ancestry, including Lucretia Garfield, Frances Cleveland, Edith Roosevelt, Mamie Eisenhower and Barbara Bush.
Almost half of the 102 passengers and 30-40 crew members aboard the Mayflower perished before the brutal first winter was done. Cold, disease and malnutrition all played prominent roles in reducing their numbers. But those who survived were progenitors of generations of Americans who have always had a built-in advantage in America, including an unobstructed path to the presidency.
“Ancestors of American Presidents, 2009 Edition,” Gary Boyd Roberts, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009
“The Complete Books of U.S. Presidents,” William A. DeGregorio, Barnes and Noble, 2004

All of the relationships are through the Kinney-Dean line, none from the Manary connections to the Mayflower. Here are the details of the relationships to me, so you can calculate your own relationships from there:

President Taylor: 5th cousins, 8x removed

President Grant: 6th cousins 6x removed. Grant was also a neighbor 

President Coolidge: 8th cousins, 3x removed

President FD Roosevelt: 7th cousins, 4x removed, through Richard Warren and Francis Cooke, as well as Thomas Pope, who came to New England during the Great Puritan Migration, and lived in Massachusetts in the 17th century. He was an ancestor of FDR's mother and his daughter married a Bartlett, eventually leading to Lydia Bartlett, mother of Simeon Bartlett Kinney. Personally, I was more interested in a connection to Eleanor Roosevelt. Unfortunately, while she is a descendant of Mayflower passengers, we don't share any ancestors.

Bushes 1 and 2: 8th cousins, 3x removed. Although we do share a relationship through Francis Cooke, we're actually more closely related through a variety of New England notables from the 17th century. The most recent relative is Jonathan Bangs, who was an ancestor of George Herbert Walker Bush's mother. His daughter married a Nickerson, and the Nickersons married into the Kinney family. He was born in Plymouth in 1640.

For some reason, Millard Fillmore was left off this original list. He was a descendant of Stephen Hopkins, making him my 6th cousin, 6x removed. 

Unsurprisingly, many of the U.S. Presidents are descendants of the Great Puritan Migration and therefore our distant relatives. Otherwise, we have no known presidential connections except for one: Abraham Lincoln, interestingly, is the descendant of one of the early Puritan settlers in New Netherlands, William Bowne. One of Bowne's great-granddaughters supposedly married a Baird, and the Bairds married into the Dean line. If this lineage is correct, it would be the only presidential connection through our Scotch-Irish ancestry, and would make Lincoln a 6th cousin, 6x removed. To be honest, though, I've always found the Baird connection to New Jersey to be pretty sketchy. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Ernest Justus Hancock

Edward, Earnest, and James Hancock
No date on the photo, but must be in the early to mid 1860s

This is part 3 of my series on my great-great grandparents. Ernest Justus "E.J." Hancock, and his wife, Julia Etta Kinney, could not have been more different from the subjects of my first two posts, David and Jennie (Brattain) Dean, although their children married. The Deans and Brattains were descendants of Midwestern farmers, from families that been earlier colonizers of the areas that had been conquered from Native peoples in Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa. In some cases, earlier generations of Deans/Brattains had left the South because of their opposition to slavery. The Brattains, for example, were original Quaker. Some members of both families were active members of the abolitionist movement. Although their lineages included Revolutionary War soldiers and other brave and resourceful men and women, they didn't come from a background of particular wealth or fame.

The Hancocks and Kinneys, on the other hand, came from older and more patrician stock. They were descendants of the Jamestown and Plymouth colonists, respectively, with all of the positives and negatives such descent implies. Ernest and Julia met and married in the state of Washington, as some of the first members of their family to leave Virginia or New England.

Ned, Ammon, Ernest, Charlotte, and Lilly Hancock
Around 1865 (Lilly was born May 1864)
Ernest Justus "E.J." Hancock was born November 24, 1854, in Lynchburg, Virginia, the son of Ammon Goode and Elizabeth Charlotte (Hewitt) Hancock. I won't write much about his childhood because I discussed his father in great detail in an earlier post. Suffice to say, he was born seven years before the start of the Civil War into a family with a tobacco factory, large tobacco plantations and, therefore, they had enslaved a large number of people. The Hancocks were wealthy. E.J.'s father had to petition President Johnson for a pardon in 1865 because he owned more than $20,000 in property. I don't know exactly how much his father was worth, but $20,000 in 1865 is worth nearly $300,000 today. In other words, the Hancocks were one of the families whose wealth was based on forced labor, who had the most to gain by keeping their workers enslaved, and who were in a position to finance the fight to maintain the slave economy. Although E.J. and his siblings were too young, and his father was apparently too old, several of their cousins were officers in the Confederate army.

Despite Gone-With-the-Wind-inspired fantasies of poor white folks devastated by war (a war, remember, that they had started because labor extracted through terror was cheaper than paying people), the Hancocks were clearly well off after the war. Undoubtedly, some of their wealth was lost, (wealth, again, extracted through violence from the bodies of enslaved people), but in 1870, they were still living in the same house, still owned the same tobacco factory, still owned at least some tobacco plantations (I'm not sure about all of them), and still employed Black servants (1). Ernest. and his brothers could afford to go to college; both Ernest and his younger brother, Ned, attended the Virginia Military Institute, matriculating in 1875. Ned graduated in 1879, but E.J. left the university without graduating and moved west to Coupeville, Washington (2).

Why did he go there? His uncle, Samuel Hancock was on Whidbey Island by 1860, and in the Pacific Northwest significantly earlier (3). Another uncle, Francis "Frank" Hancock, who was married to Hester Hewett, likely a cousin of E.J.'s mother,  lived there from 1862-1870, before moving to Stillaguamish flats (4). Presumably, the good reports from his family, and having a support network already in the region, inspired Ernest's choice of location.

Aloha Farm in 1899. The people are E.J., Julia, and Vera Hancock.
The woman in the center was a local teacher.
According to his profile in An Illustrated History of the State of Washington by Harvey Kimball Hines, (published 1893, p. 568), Ernest moved to Washington in 1879, then returned to Virginia in 1881. He apparently spent the next couple of years making arrangements for a permanent move back to Washington, which took place in 1883. He bought 45 acres on Whidbey Island and built Aloha Farm. My great-aunt Lillian, his granddaughter, wrote that the family no longer remembers why the farm was named "Aloha". E.J.'s wife, however, had some connections to Hawai'i, so it's possible that the farm got its name after their marriage.

There were plenty of racial tensions in Washington, just as there had been in Virginia. Most centered around the status of Chinese immigrants. Like many immigrant groups, the Chinese community on the west coast met with social and political barriers put up by white Americans. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the most significant anti-Chinese legislation of American history. Interestingly, Ernest denounced the Act, writing, "The Chinese, by industry, pay strict attention to their own business, and studying their employers' interest, have created a demand for their labor, and it is only justice that they be allowed to fill the demand." (6).

Justus, Virgil, and Vera Hancock, who all miraculously
survived to adulthood
Ernest married Julia Etta Kinney on March 3, 1886. Julia has a fascinating history of her own, which I'll discuss in another blog post. Genealogically speaking, though, their marriage combined the Hancock's First Families of Virginia line (going back to Jamestown) with the Kinney's Great Puritan Migration lineage (going back to the Mayflower). Ernest and Julia had four children. Their three sons were Eugene Ammon, Justus "Jut" Lee [that Lee middle name just kills me], and Virgil Kinney. Their only daughter, Vera Houghton, was my great-grandmother. 

Ernest. was clearly successful in Whidbey Island, no doubt helped along by his family's ill-gotten money. He was one of the founders of the Island County Bank of Coupeville in 1892, and elected its first vice-president. Unfortunately, the bank closed in 1893, when "the cashier absconded with the funds, spending them in the 'most disreputable dives in Seattle'" (7). The bank building itself still stands, however. Ernest also owned "an immense amount of city property, and [had] many other profitable investments" (5) in addition to Aloha Farm. 

Ernest died on August 1, 1924, in Coupeville. He was 69 years old.

1) "United States Census, 1870," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 September 2015), S G Hancock, Virginia, United States; citing p. 62, family 468, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 553,137.

2) VMI Roster Archives, available here:



5) An Illustrated History of the State of Washington by Harvey Kimball Hines, 1893, p. 568

6) quoted in Coupeville, by Judy Lynn, Kay Foss, and the Island County Historical Society.. . Arcadia Publishing, 2012.

7) Self-Guided Walking Tour of Historic Coupeville - National Park Service

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Sarah Jane "Jennie" Brattain Dean

This is a continuation of my series of posts on my great-great-grandparents. Last time, I wrote about David Philip Dean. This post is about his wife, Jennie Brattain.

Sarah Jane Brattain, known as "Sally" or "Jennie", was born November 7, 1855. I had always heard the name pronounced as "Bruh-TAYN", but on-line sources suggest it's usually rhymes with "satin". I don't know if our family line pronounced it differently than others, or if her maiden name came down through the generations with an incorrect pronunciation. In the census of 1860, the family name was spelled "Bratton", suggesting the census worker, at least, heard it more like the "satin" pronunciation (1).

Jennie was the eldest child of Hiram and Louisa May Wisehart Brattain. Unlike her husband, who was born in an area that had only recently been conquered for white settlement, Jennie grew up in an area that was already well integrated into the United States. Indiana had been a state since 1816. Both of Jennie's parents had been born in Indiana and came from families that had moved there from the South in the 1820s or 30s. Family records claimed Jennie was born in Alexandria, Indiana, however, I cannot confirm that with primary documentation. Her family was living in Alexandria in 1880 (2), and perhaps they had been there at the time of her birth, but my first record of the family is in the 1860 census, when they were living in Fall Creek Township, Henry County, Indiana (1). This is where Louisa grew up and where many of her siblings lived.

Jennie was born six years before the start of the Civil War, in which her father served. Hiram Brattain joined Company F, 8th Indiana Volunteers, at the beginning of the war. Later that summer, he fought in the battle of Rich Mountain, West Virginia, where his brother-in-law, Jennie's uncle Philander Wisehart, died in his arms. His regiment mustered out of service on August 6, 1861. Hiram remained in Indiana until August of 1862 when he was commissioned as second lieutenant of Company H, 69th Indiana Infantry, just in time to fight in the battle of Richmond, Kentucky, one of the most complete Union defeats of the war. Most of the men in his regiment were captured by the Confederates, but he luckily escaped. He served until March 27, 1863, when he was forced to resign for health reasons (3).

I can imagine it was a difficult time for Jennie, with her father away and her mother left to manage Jennie and her younger siblings, Augustus and Catherine. (Eventually, the couple had a total of eight children). Luckily, her mother's family was nearby, and her father's family was not much farther. Her father had a farm in those early years, but after the war they relocated to Middleton, Indiana, where in 1870 Hiram listed his occupation as "druggist" (4), and in 1880 as "running sawmill" (5) (Clearly, the degree of specialization required to be a druggist was not what it is now.)

Jennie married David Philip Dean on August 22, 1876, in Des Moines, Iowa, at the age of twenty (6). One mystery I have yet to solve: how did they meet? Did Jennie spend some time in Iowa? Her father had lived there briefly as a child, so perhaps he had friends or relatives there with whom she was staying? Or did David travel to Indiana? This seems more likely. David's maternal grandfather, Philip Welsheimer, lived in Ohio, but he had bought land for his sons in Indiana. David had several Welsheimer uncles in northern Indiana in the 1870s. Perhaps he went to visit or to work for one of them and met Jennie while there? Regardless, they were married in Iowa, not Indiana.

I wrote about their married life and their large family in my previous blog post. I won't repeat it here. I will end with one more mystery, however. Jennie is buried in Coupeville, Washington, next to her husband. According to her Find-A-Grave site, she died March 27, 1919, in Seattle. However, I can find no death certificate or other proof that she died in Washington and not in Iowa. If she did die in Washington, she must have done so very soon after moving there.

[Update]: I guess I just hadn't looked recently for her death certificate. I can't find an image of the original, but FamilySearch has the record for Sarah J. Dean, daughter of Hiram Brattain and Louise Wisehart, dying in Seattle, Washington, March 27, 1919. No cause of death is available in the index record, at least.


1) "United States Census, 1860," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 27 August 2015), Hiram Bratton, Fall Creek Township, Henry, Indiana, United States; from "1860 U.S. Federal Census - Population," database, ( : n.d.); citing p. 126, household ID 74, NARA microfilm publication M653 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 803,266.

2) "United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 27 August 2015), Hiram Brattans, Alexandria, Madison, Indiana, United States; citing enumeration district 21, sheet 103B, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 0293; FHL microfilm 1,254,293.

3) Harden, Samuel. 1888. Those I Have Met, or Boys in Blue. William Mitchell, Publisher. Available On-line here:

4)  "United States Census, 1870," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 27 August 2015), Hiram B Brattain, Indiana, United States; citing p. 13, family 100, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 545,822.

5) "United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 27 August 2015), Hiram Brattans, Alexandria, Madison, Indiana, United States; citing enumeration district 21, sheet 103B, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 0293; FHL microfilm 1,254,293.

6) "Iowa, County Marriages, 1838-1934," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 January 2015), David P. Dean and Sarah Brattian, 22 Aug 1876; citing Des Moines, Polk, Iowa, United States, county courthouses, Iowa.

Monday, January 2, 2017

David Philip Dean

David and Sarah "Jennie" Dean

So far, my blog topics have been haphazardly chosen, based on whatever interests me at the moment. To try to be more systematic, while also improving the quality of information I have on, I'm going to create blog posts for each of my great-great-grandparents. Why my great-great-grandparents? Well, since most of them died before 1940, most of the documentary evidence is old enough to be publicly available. I'd like to write about my great-grandparents, as well, but that will be a collaboration with  my parents who have personal memories of them. 

So, on to my first great-great-grandparent: David Philip Dean

David Philip Dean was born February 16 (or 18th), 1852, on his parents' farm in east Des Moines, Iowa, on the banks of what is still known as Dean Lake (at the end of Dean St.). David was the youngest child of Abram Stewart Dean and Anne Retta Welsheimer Dean. His first name may have been in honor of his mother's brother, David Welsheimer, and his middle name, Philip, was in honor of his maternal grandfather. He had four siblings, three of whom were born in Ross County, Ohio, where the family was living before they joined David's grandfather, John Stewart Dean, in claiming land that had been recently conquered from Native people, who were forced into Oklahoma to make way for white settlers. Unfortunately, Abram died in January of 1859, not long before David's seventh birthday. His mother never remarried, but David's grandfather and multiple uncles and aunts lived nearby.

His childhood was far from easy. According to the Portrait and Biographical Album of Polk County, Iowa. (Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago, 1890), David was born in a "commodious house of hewed logs...on the north bank of...Dean Lake. Many privations and hardships were endured by the family, but they labored on, and at length had a good home." The book specifically mentions that David's father had to haul his grain 65 miles for a mill, and that there were no barrel-makers in the area so he created three troughs from a large linden tree to salt down pork, hold lard, and make soap. David's mother cooked on a large fireplace, "slapjacks, corn-dodgers, jonnie cake and lye hominy." The family were devout Presbyterians. One history (but not others) claims the first Presbyterian Church in Des Moines met in David's grandfather's house (1). David's father was an ardent Republican, at a time when that meant supporting the literal party of Lincoln, founded with the goal of ending slavery. Fifteen acres of the family farm were donated to the state for state capitol building. 

Although there must have been plenty of work around the farm, especially with Abram's early death, David and his siblings all attended school. In the 1860 Census for Lee Township, Polk County, Iowa, Anne Dean heads a household of five children, aged 8 to 17, all of whom indicated that they'd attended school within the previous year (2). Ten years later, in the 1870 Census, David was the only child still at home with Anne, but even at 18 and as his mother's only child, he had attended school within the year (3). Clearly, like many of their descendants, the family put a high priority on education.

David married Sarah "Jennie" Brattain on August 22, 1876, in Des Moines (4). He was 24; Jennie was 20. They spent most of their adult lives farming in Polk County, Iowa, but they may have moved within the county. In the 1880 Census, they were in Grant Township, Polk County, Iowa (at which time David's mother, Anne, was living with them) (5). However, by 1884, when their daughter Aura was born, they were listed as living in Clay Township (6). Presumably, this is near the town of Altoona, where they farmed Township 79, Range 23, Section 14, NW1/4 by the 1885 Iowa Census (7). This is where they lived until at least 1910 (8). 

David and Jennie had a large family, although they lost a number of children at a young age. Their children were:

  • Mary Louanna (Manie) (1877-1974), married William Henry Edmundson
  • Mary Estella (1878-1966), married Herbert L. Swenson
  • Esletta (1879-before 1895)
  • Ethel Gertrude (1879-1901), married William Casebeer
  • Daisy (1881-1885)
  • Harvey Edwin (1883-1885)
  • Aura (1884-1964), married Karl Edward Hodges
  • Eva (1886-1982), married Robert Wallace Trowbridge
  • Edna (1887-1890)
  • James (1889-1890)
  • Infant Son (born and died August 10, 1890)
  • Lillian (1891-1962), married Raymond Claire Stiles
  • David Merlin (1894-1972), married Irene Louise Greaves and Marie Simpson
  • Carl Philip (1895-1971), married Vera Houghton Hancock
  • Ralph Hiram (1899-1918)

Sometime between 1902 and 1905, David and Jennie's eldest daughter, Manie Edmundson, moved to Coupeville, Washington, with her husband and children. Sometime after the 1910 Census, David and Jennie moved there, too. Jennie died and was buried in Coupeville, in March, 1919. The following year, David was living with Manie and her family (9). 

Later that year, David remarried, to Abbie Dean, in Washington, Ohio (10). Abbie remains something of a mystery to me, and I wish my Aunt Lil was still here to explain her relationship because I'm sure she knew. "Dean" was Abbie's married name. On their marriage certificate, she is listed as 64 and widowed, the daughter of William W. Perdew and Sarah Seffens. Her original husband, whom she married in Washington, Ohio, in 1876, was John T. Dean, but the marriage record does not include his parents' names (11). My suspicion is that John T. was a cousin of some sort of David's, which is how David met Abbie. After their marriage, David lived part-time in Washington, where he had his own home according to the 1930 Census (12), and part-time at his wife's house in Marietta, Ohio (13).

I've always been interested in David because he was (one of?) the first dedicated genealogists in the family. He was mentioned in several of the family references I found, include the book by Edith Welsheimer (13) about David's mother's line, in which she wrote: "David was the perfect gentleman - kind and gracious, and interested in all with whom he came in contact and able to converse with young and old. To him goes the credit for most of the work on his branch. Though eight years of age, he exchanged many letters with the author, which she values very highly."  

David died in Seattle on April 16, 1941, aged 82 years.

1) Wilson-Baird History by Fran C. Shepherd, 1942, p.2 (available on-line:

2) "United States Census, 1860," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 January 2015), David P Dean in household of Ann Dean, Lee Township, Polk, Iowa, United States; from "1860 U.S. Federal Census - Population,"; citing p. 161, household ID 1172, NARA microfilm publication M653, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.; FHL microfilm 803,338.

3) "United States Census, 1870," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 17 October 2014), David Dean in household of Ann Dean, Iowa, United States; citing p. 8, family 56, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 545,914.

4) "Iowa, County Marriages, 1838-1934," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 January 2015), David P. Dean and Sarah Brattian, 22 Aug 1876; citing Des Moines, Polk, Iowa, United States, county courthouses, Iowa.

5) "United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 24 December 2015), David T Dean, Grant, Polk, Iowa, United States; citing enumeration district ED 170, sheet 489B, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 0360; FHL microfilm 1,254,360.

6) "Iowa, County Births, 1880-1935", index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 January 2015), David P. Dean in entry for Aura Dean, 1884.

7)  "Iowa State Census, 1885," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 15 November 2014), David Dean, Altoona, Clay, Polk, Iowa; citing p. 235, 1885, State Historical Society, Des Moines; FHL microfilm 1,020,172.

8) "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 29 October 2015), Carl P Dean in household of David P Dean, Clay, Polk, Iowa, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 66, sheet 11B, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,374,431.

9)  "United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 14 December 2015), David P Dean in household of William H Edmundson, Coupeville, Island, Washington, United States; citing sheet 6A, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,821,923.

10) "Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1997," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 January 2015), Abram Dean in entry for David P Dean and Abbie A Dean, 23 Nov 1920; citing Washington, Ohio, United States, reference p 431; county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 2,320,085.

11) "Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958," database, FamilySearch ( : 8 December 2014), John T. Dean and Abbie A. Perdew, 01 Jun 1876; citing , Washington, Ohio, reference ; FHL microfilm 0941959 V. 4-6.

12)  "Washington Death Certificates, 1907-1960," database, FamilySearch ( : 5 December 2014), David P. Dean, 16 Apr 1941; citing Seattle, King, Washington, reference 1448, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Olympia; FHL microfilm 2,023,903.

13) "A History of the Welsheimer Family", by Edith Welsheimer, Bronson Printing, Las Cruces, New Mexico, 1969.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Jane Coltrain Williams?

A follow-up to my previous post on Finding Heman Williams: I still can't trace Heman's father, John, due to the preponderance of John Williamses in early 19th century America. However, I connected with another researcher, Linda Coltrin, who makes a good case for his mother's maiden name being "Coltrin" or "Coltrain", and that she was a daughter of Elisha Coltrain of New York. If so, that ties Heman's maternal line into a well-documented New England family that goes back to the Great Puritan Migration, including descent from the Mayflower's William Brewster. (I, too, am descended from William Brewster. If this information is correct, then my husband and I are 13th cousins once removed).

The evidence for Jane Williams, mother of Heman, being Jane Coltrain, daughter of Elisha Coltrain:

  1. Her daughter Mary Jane's death certificate lists her mother's maiden name as "Coulton" (names were frequently spelled in a variety of phonetic ways at the time) (1)
  2. In census records where she is listed, Jane Williams gives her birth state as New York and her birth year as around 1803. Her children also list their mothers' birth state as New York in later census records (2)
  3. In The History of Lorain County, published in 1879, the author states that John D. and Jane Williams came to Ohio from the Cuyoga Lake region of New York (3). Elisha Coltrain, who was born in Massachusetts, was living in Milton, Cuyoga County, New York, by 1799 (4) and lived there until 1840 (5). There is at least one John Williams family in Cuyoga County, New York, in the 1830 census that fits the ages of John and James Williams (6), but this is not conclusive since they may have moved to Ohio by then. Census records from 1800-1840 show numberous Williams families living in Cuyoga County, including at least two separate "William Williams" families in Genoa, New York, in 1820, which is around the time and place when John and Jane Williams would have married (7).
  4. John and Jane Williams moved to Ohio by at least 1836 (the date given in The History of Lorain County), but more likely by 1828 (when their son Albert may have been born in Ohio). Elisha Coltrain Jr., the son of Elisha Coltrain of New York, also moved to Ohio.  Extended families often moved together at that time. He was in Lorain County, the same county as John and Jane, in 1850 (8). Unfortunately, it's unclear where either family was in 1840.
  5. John and Jane Williams named their eldest son Elisha C. Williams. John D. Williams applied for a marriage license for his son, Elisha C., in Lorain County, Ohio, in 1848 (9)
It's not a slam-dunk case, but the circumstantial evidence is quite strong. Some day, perhaps, someone will find a will or family bible or marriage certificate that pulls the whole thing together, but for now I'm considering this a probable but uncertain connection.
1)  "Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 8 December 2014), Mary Jane Williams, 31 May 1925; citing Camden Twp., Lorain Co., Ohio, reference fn 29901; FHL microfilm 1,992,672.

2) "United States Census, 1850," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 9 November 2014), Jane Williams in household of John Williams, Camden, Lorain, Ohio, United States; citing family 567, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

3) From History of Lorain County, Ohio, published in Philadelphia by the Williams Brothers, 1879

4) New York, Tax Assessment Rolls of Real and Personal Estates, 1799-1804. On 2014 

5) "United States Census, 1840," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 24 August 2015), Elisha Colston, Genoa, Cayuga, New York, United States; citing p. 110, NARA microfilm publication M704, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 269; FHL microfilm 17,181.

6) "United States Census, 1830," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 18 August 2015), John Williams, Sterling, Cayuga, New York, United States; citing 418, NARA microfilm publication M19, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 88; FHL microfilm 17,148.


8) Year: 1850; Census Place: Pittsfield, Lorain, Ohio; Roll: M432_705; Page: 280B; Image: 83

9) "Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 8 December 2014), Elisha Williams and Harriett Holcomb, 01 Nov 1848; citing Lorain, Ohio, United States, reference p 282; county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 447,523.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Finding Heman Williams

Sometimes this blog helps me genealogy by laying out my thought processes, putting the data in a logical order, and creating a coherent narrative from chaos. Sometimes, like in this post, it just serves to document the muddle. Still, there's some hope that the documentation laid out here will make things clearer for someone else, so here goes.

I'm working on Beaver genealogy. I was able to trace my father-in-law's maternal line back a few generations. His great-grandmother was a woman named Minerva J. (Williams) Bradley. According to her death certificate, Minerva's parents were Heman Williams and Emma Jane Hale (1). The certificate also states that she was born in 1872 in Chester, Michigan, but her parents were born in New York. To confuse matters, however, in both the 1900 and 1910 census records, Minerva gave her father's birthplace as Ohio, not New York (2,3). The Ohio birthplace seems correct, at least according to the 1880 U.S. Census for Camden, Lorain County, Ohio, which documented the Williams family consisting of Heman, age 40, born in Ohio; wife Emma J., age 33, born in New York; three children between the ages of 9 and 15 born in Michigan, "Menervia", age 8, born in Ohio; and a younger son (4). The family members who must have provided the information for Minerva's death certificate were probably confused by the fact that her mother was born in New York, and that Heman's family came from New York. In the 1900 census, Heman himself gives his parents birthplaces as New York, but his own birthplace as Ohio (6).

Heman Williams, then, was born around 1840 in Ohio. Tracing him back through the census records, the 1870 Census finds the family in Chester Township, Eaton County, Michigan, next door to a Nelson Williams and his family (5). Heman's wife's name is given as Jane instead of Emma Jane, but it is clearly the same family. Two of the sons from the 1880 census are listed (although the oldest, 5, is shown as born in Ohio, not Michigan), along with an older daughter, Mary, who does not appear in the 1880 census. Again, Heman lists his birthplace as Ohio.

I cannot find him in the 1860 census, but in the 1850 census he was living in Camden, Lorain, Ohio as a 13-year old child in the household of John Williams, 55, born in Massachusetts, and Jane Williams, 49, born in New York (7). Also in the household are six children between the ages of 8 and 22, including Nelson (who we saw later moved to Michigan) and a 10 year old sister, Minerva, clearly the source of Heman's daughter's unusual name. (The source of Heman's unusual name will be discussed below).

Unfortunately, moving back past 1850, we enter a time when census records only recorded the name of the head of household, and did not note ages (except in general categories) or location of birth. However, all of the children listed in the 1850 census were born in Ohio, so the family must have been in the state since 1828. We should be able to find John Williams, Heman's father, in the 1830 and 1840 censuses.

In fact, there are no fewer than 133 possible John Williams households in Ohio in 1830. Looking at Lorain County alone knocks that down to three. The only one whose household fits the known demographics of the family, John H. Williams, is living in Lagrange Township, with one free white male 20-30 (John would have been 25), one free white female 20-30 (Jane would have been around 19), 2 males under 5 and one female 5-10. This seems like a lot of kids for such a young mother, but they wouldn't have to all be theirs. In fact, Jane may have been a second wife. In 1840, there are five John Williamses. John H. Williams is listed as living in "Carmdon" in Lorain County. Such a place doesn't appear to exist, so I would guess this is the same John H. Williams as above, now relocated to Camden, where we know our John Williams was living in 1850. The ages of the family, however, don't perfectly match those known for our Williams family. Besides, as becomes clear below, John's middle initial should be D, not H.

This leads us to some contradictory information from the local histories:

The "History of Lorain County, Ohio", published in 1879 (8), describes Heman's family under the heading "The Township of Camden":
"John D. Williams and his wife, Jane, from the vicinity of Cuyoga Lake, New York, settled upon lots twenty-five and twenty-six, tract eleven, in 1836. Elisha C. now lives upon lot twenty-three, same tract. S.B. is in Kipton village. John W. and Wilson are also residents of the township. Mary Jane lives upon the old place. The only other living member of the family of brothers and sisters is Heman. Albert R. died in 1878. Clarissa and Minerva are also dead."
 The same book, though, describes another Heman Williams who is clearly not our Heman Williams:
"Larkin Williams and family, of a wife and eight children, came from Berkshire county, Massachusetts, in the fall of 1817. He settled on the ridge east of the center...The first doctor to locate in Avon township was Heman, son of Larkin Williams. Dr. Williams is spoken of as a gentleman of fine ability and superior professional attainments....The first death was Lydia M., daughter of Larkin Williams, January 11, 1818. Her remains were the first interred in the cemetery at the center. It is believed that the first post office was established in 1825, and that Dr. Williams was the first post-master." 

The same source mentions that Larkin A. Williams was active in the Baptist church, as were Milo Williams and John Williams, his sons. Larkin also built a school building in 1818.

This is complicated. John D. and his wife, Jane, were the parents of our Heman Williams. But what is their ancestry? Were they related to Larkin Williams and his son, Dr. Heman Williams? The book suggests not, but the primary documentation is hard to pin down.

Several arguments can be made against assuming a relationship with the Larkin Williams family:

  • John and Jane Williams are buried in Kipton, rather than the cemetery in Avon where the other Williamses, the known descendants of Larkin Williams, are located.
  • A surprising number of people were named "Heman" in Lorain County, Ohio. The 1850 Census, where we first see our Heman, has six other men named Heman.
  • The book about Lorain County implies they are not related, or at least doesn't mention such a relationship, despite many other mentions of the Larkin Williams family

Several arguments, however, can be made for assuming a relationship to the Larkin Williams family:

  • Although the book says John D. came from New York, in the census says he was born in Massachusetts, like Larkin. His wife was born in New York, so they may have lived there for a while before coming to Ohio.
  • The book clearly has some inaccuracies. For example, it claims John D. moved to Camden in 1836, but his oldest son, Albert, was born in Ohio in 1828. Furthermore, not all of the children listed in the census are in the book, and at least one child who is in the book isn't listed on the census (although they may have been too old in 1850). In other words, the book itself shouldn't be considered more accurate than other types of documentation.
  • Sure, there were a number of men named Heman, but honestly, how common can this name be? It is more parsimonious to believe that our Heman Williams was named for a relative, either the Dr. Heman Williams who was the son of Larkin Williams, or some previous progenitor for whom they were both named.

The reason I'd like to know if our Williamses were related to the family of Larkin Williams is that Larkin's ancestry is fairly well documented going back to the Great Puritan Migration (9).

One detail that might help clarify the situation: in the 1850 census, Heman, his parents, and his siblings are living with an 86-year old woman, born in Massachusetts, named Mary Hemingway. She was later buried in the Williams plot in Camden, where her tombstone shows she died March 22, 1855, at the age of 92 years, 9 months, 17 days (that would give her a birth date of  June 5, 1762) (10) Could she be Jane's mother? John D.'s re-married mother or an aunt? Regardless, she's the next line to follow.

[Update]:  I was able to connect with another researcher, Linda Coltrin, who is interested in Heman's maternal line (see post on Jane Coltrain Williams). Linda has a death certificate that shows John and Jane's oldest son, Elisha C. Williams, was born in Geauga County, Ohio, in 1818. In the 1820 census, there's a John Williams in Perry, Geauga County, Ohio, with one boy under the age of 10, a man 16-26 (our John would have been 25), and a woman 16-26 (our Jane would have been 17). This seems likely to be our family. What really caught my eye, though, were four Williams families in Painesville, Geauga County, Ohio, in the same census. The names of the heads of those households: Rev. Ebenezer, Ebenezer, John, and...Heman. Heman! It may be hard to determine the exact relationship between these Painesville Williamses and our John Williams, but it seems likely.


1) "Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 8 December 2014), Emma Jane Hale in entry for Minerva Jane Bradley, 13 Oct 1925; citing Camdem Twp, Lorain, Ohio, reference fn 58285; FHL microfilm 1,992,681.

2) "United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 10 December 2016), Lizzie Bradley in household of George Bradley, Camden & Henrietta Townships, Lorain, Ohio, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 83, sheet 7A, family 164, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,295.

3) "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 10 December 2016), Elizabeth Bradley in household of George Bradley, Camden, Lorain, Ohio, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 101, sheet 2B, family 47, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1206; FHL microfilm 1,375,219.

4) "United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 14 July 2016), Herman Williams, Camden, Lorain, Ohio, United States; citing enumeration district ED 166, sheet 389D, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 1042; FHL microfilm 1,255,042

5) "United States Census, 1870," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 17 October 2014), Herman Williams, Michigan, United States; citing p. 8, family 56, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 552,169

6) "United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 10 December 2016), Emma J Williams in household of Heman Williams, Camden & Henrietta Townships, Lorain, Ohio, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 83, sheet 8B, family 211, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,295.

7) "United States Census, 1850," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 9 November 2014), Jane Williams in household of John Williams, Camden, Lorain, Ohio, United States; citing family 567, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

8) From ''History of Lorain County, Ohio'', published in Philadelphia by the Williams Brothers, 1879



Friday, September 16, 2016

Famous Descendants of Jean Guyon

An article on the famous descendants of Jean Guyon was posted on one of my genealogy sites. As I've discussed in previous posts, most French-Canadians have some shared ancestry, so it's no surprise that those of us descended from the LeFebvres (through the Cunninghams) are also descendants of Jean Guyon. He was, in fact, my 11xgreat-grandfather.

Jean Guyon was part of the Percheon Immigration, which came to New France in 1634 from the Perche region. He was very successful, with ten surviving children and (by some estimates) the second-largest number of descendants out of the early French settlers. According to Guyon's wikipedia page, 3/4 of old-line French-Canadians are descended from him. He (or his wife) were also the source of the mutation that caused Friedreich's ataxia in many generations of the family.

Some of his famous descendants include Celine Dion, Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, and Madonna. Because of the on-going U.S. election, though, I was most interested to see Hillary Clinton on that list. In fact, while we share Guyon ancestry with Secretary Clinton, our relationship is closer. Clinton and I are 9th cousins once removed, through my 8xgreat-grandfather, Mathurin Gagnon.