Month: February 2015

Week 8 – 2015: Jacob Weber (1792-1840, Lehigh County, PA). How his good deeds were rewarded.

This week’s 52 Ancestors theme is “Good Deeds.” I decided to write about my 4th great grandfather, Jacob Weber (or Weaver) and how service to his country triggered a series of good deeds through the generations.

Jacob was born July 31, 1792 to Heinrich Weber and his wife, Magdalena Schmidt in Lynn Township in what is now Lehigh County, PA.

Payroll for Jacob Weaver, private. 71st Regiment, Pennsylvania Militai.

The United States was still a fairly young country, and tensions were still high with Great Britain. America found itself at war once again with Britain in the War of 1812. Jacob was 22 years old when he and other young men living in Lynn Township, decided to help defend their country and headed to Marcus Hook, PA to enlist. On September 17, 1814, Jacob became a private in Captain George Coldovy’s Company of Infantry, 71st Regiment of the Pennsylvania Militia.

However, Jacob’s service was very short and he was discharged 3 months later on December 20, 1814. The war ended 4 days later when the Treaty of Ghent was signed.

Jacob returned home to his father’s farm in Lynn Township. Three years later, he married Susannah Weber on May 26, 1817. Together they had 9 children. My 3rd great grandfather, Solomon, was one of their children.

Jacob died on December 4, 1840. He is assumed to have been buried in the Ebenezer Church Cemetery in New Tripoli, PA. After his death, Susannah moved to Lower Towamensing Township in nearby Carbon County with her son, Jacob. Their son, Solomon, lived nearby in Franklin Township.

Fast forward to present day, when I was starting to learn more about my 3rd great grandfather, Solomon Weaver. I had posted a query on the Carbon County, PA message board. A cousin replied to my query, and exercised his good deed when he shared a wealth of information on not only Solomon, but also about his parents, Jacob and Susannah. Among the gems he shared with me was a scan of a bounty land warrant certificate of 40 acres from the Department of the Interior that was awarded to Susannah as widow to Jacob Weber, who had served in Pennsylvania Regiment during the War of 1812.

WEAVERJacob_Land2

Bounty lands were often used since colonial times, to encourage enlistments and reward them for their service (or “good deed”). It appeared that Susannah had decided to file a claim under the Bounty Land Act of 1850, which extended bounty lands to men who had enlisted and served in the War of 1812 on June 12, 1852. Forty acres was the awarded to anyone who served from 1 to 3 months. The certificate that my cousin had said that Warrant number 83753, was awarded to Susannah on March 3, 1853. For whatever reason, Susannah never took advantage of the claim. According to my cousin, she gave the claim to Solomon, and it was never used.

This information prompted me to email the National Archives to find out more about Jacob’s service during the War of 1812. I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email back from an archivist who said he was mailing me a packet of information. The packet included copies of Jacob’s muster roll and payroll documentation, as well as paperwork that was submitted with Susannah’s bounty land application. The archivist wrote a very informative letter about the documents he had sent (for free). He also commented that he also had an ancestor that served in the same regiment as Jacob.

I still have much to learn about Jacob and his branch of my family tree. But thanks to a couple of “good deeds” from a distant cousin and someone who works at the National Archives, I know a little bit more about him.

WEEK 7 – 2015: John and Elizabeth (McGowan) Donnelly – Scotland/Philadelphia

John J. Donnelly

I know we all look at our family trees and wonder what our ancestors were really like. This week’s 52 Ancestors theme, Love, made me wonder how many of those couples lived their lives deeply in love with each other.

My great, great grandparents, John and Elizabeth Donnelly, are one of those couples that I can imagine were so much in love that they could not live without each other.

John Donnelly was born sometime around May 1844 in Ireland. His parents names may have been John Donnelly and Nancy McEntyre. At some point, John ended up in Greenock, Scotland and worked as a mason. It was there that he met Elizabeth McGowan, who was a daughter of Hugh and Mary (Fife) McGowan. They married June 11, 1867 at St. Mary’s Chapel in Greenock.

John and Elizabeth had 4 children, with at least 3 of them baptized at St. Mary’s Chapel: Mary Ann, Sarah, John and Hugh.

However, John and Elizabeth did not seem to find life in Scotland fulfilling. Around 1871, John decided to set out across the ocean to America. Elizabeth followed him shortly afterwards. She and her children, Mary Ann, Sarah and John, boarded the ship Europa in Glasgow, and arrived in New York on July 20, 1872.

John and Elizabeth took their young family to Philadelphia, where John continued working as a stone mason. Elizabeth gave birth to 5 more daughters, with only 3 of them surviving into adulthood: Agnes, Elizabeth and Catherine. John managed to save up enough money and bought a small rowhome for his family on Glenwood Avenue, in Philadelphia.

On February 1, 1909, 77 year old Elizabeth was busy taking care of things around the house, when she stumbled and fell down the stairs. Her neck was broken from the fall, and she died almost immediately. Her husband, John, must have been overcome with grief over the sudden loss of his wife. He became so ill, that he signed the house to his daughter, Agnes and her husband, Albert Tolle in March of 1909. Then, on April 13, 1909, John J. Donnelly died of pneumonia, almost 2 months after Elizabeth had died.

They are both buried together in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Cheltenham, PA.

WEEK 6 – 2015: Reuben Keiper – How did he get So Far Away?

I had planned on writing about another ancestor for this week’s 52 Ancestors challenge and theme “So Far Away.” However, I went a little “far away” myself when I became distracted and might have discovered a little bit of a break in a brick wall that my 3rd great grandfather, Reuben Keiper, has been hiding behind for a long time.

My Keiper ancestors have been quite a challenge for me. The family myth has always been that my great great grandmother, Sarah Jane Keiper, was a full-blood Indian who was adopted. I had never found proof to support that myth. Sarah’s death certificate said she was born April 16, 1853 in White Haven, PA and her parents were Reuben Keiper and Elizabeth Prutzman. I found Sarah living with Reuben and Elizabeth and other siblings in Kidder Township, Carbon County, PA in the 1860 census. Reuben’s birthdate was estimated to be around 1820. He and Elizabeth had at least 8 children: Mary, Henry, Hannah, Caroline, Rose, Sarah, Franklin and Alice. There are numerous Keiper and Prutzman families spread across Luzerne, Carbon and Monroe counties. I had never been able to connect Reuben and Elizabeth to any of these other families.

Several years ago, I obtained a copy of Reuben’s will from the Carbon County Courthouse, in Jim Thorpe, PA, hoping to learn more about Reuben. I learned a little bit more, but what puzzled me was that the will stated that he was living in Clinton County, Indiana, at the time the will was written in 1883. It also said that he had been living with his daughter, Rose Wasser, for years in her home in White Haven, PA. Why was Reuben suddenly living so far away in Indiana, after living in Pennsylvania all his life, and clearly was in “declining health?”

Last will of Reuben Keiper

Last will of Reuben Keiper. Carbon County Orphan’s Court Records.

I may have found the answer early this morning. It all started when I decided to check Facebook first thing this morning. A post in the Luzerne County Genealogy Facebook group about Newspapers.com adding more issues of the Wilkes-Barre Record caught my eye. This prompted me to go and do some searches, including the surname, Keiper.

This actually led to several random searches in a few newspapers in the Luzerne County area. One result was an obituary in a Pittson newspaper for a Samuel Eckhart who died in 1916. Samuel had three surviving sisters; one of those being a “Mrs. Franklin Keiper.” I knew that Reuben had a son named Franklin and that he had married Amelia Eckhart. What was interesting was that the other sisters also married men with the surname of Keiper! There was a “Mrs. James Keiper” and a “Mrs. Reuben Keiper.”

Long story short, this led me to start looking at the Pennsylvania Death Certificate collection and census records on Ancestry.com and finding a whole mess of other Keiper families, some with the same first names. In fact, I am still in the process of sorting them all out and trying to figure out if and how they are all related. As I discovered more names, I would go back to Newspapers.com and do a search to see if I could find any obituaries to help me sort things out. One of the names, that I did a search for was “Amos Keiper.”

Well, I did find an obituary and some articles about the one Amos Keiper I originally did a search for who was living in Luzerne County. However, it was this article in the March 7, 1883 Allentown Democrat, that really caught my eye:

The Allentown Democrat (Allentown, Pennsylvania) 7 Mar 1883, Wed • Page 2

The Allentown Democrat
(Allentown, Pennsylvania)
7 Mar 1883, Wed • Page 2

The article was a notice trying to locate relatives of an Amos Keiper who had lived in Clinton County, Indiana and died intestate and no heirs to his estate. Clinton County, Indiana was where my Reuben Keiper when he made his last will! I immediately opened up the digital copy of Reuben’s will just to make sure it was the same place. Not only did the locations match, but the witnesses for his will were Pernal K. Thomas and J.R. Brown. The same names listed as administrators for the estate of Amos Keiper in the newspaper article! Now, I may have found the answer as to why Reuben Keiper was so far away from home.

So my next step is to write to the Clinton County Circuit court for copies of Amos Keiper probate records and see if there are any more answers or clues. I know the day that SASE arrives back in my mailbox seems so far away.

So, that is my tale of how I totally got “so far away” off track from what I had originally planned for my blog post. I seemingly kept getting even further and further away on a meandering trail of newspaper articles, and census records, only to end up with something tied in back to my own direct line.

However, what really amazes me is that I somehow was able to connect all my morning’s research to this week’s theme.

WEEK 5 – 2015: Stephen A. Fish

Upon seeing the theme of this week’s 52 Ancestor challenge,”plowing through,” the records of the U.S. General Land Office immediately sprang to mind. The Homestead Act of 1862 was passed by Congress in order to make land in the west available to citizens willing to settle and reside on the land for five years and show evidence that they had improved it. The GLO records hold the documents showing the transfer of these public lands to the applicant. Since the applicants were required to show that they improved their parcel of land, no doubt there was a lot of “plowing through” involved.

My husband’s tree has quite a few of these bold adventurers. I decided to focus on his 3rd great grandfather, Stephen Allen Fish, who is credited with being amongst the earliest settlers in the small community of Liberty, Wisconsin.

No one seems to agree on where he was born. Some researchers say he was born in 1802 in Canada. However, others say he was born in New York or Massachusetts.

In 1850, he was living in Walworth County, Geneva with his wife and 4 sons. One of his sons was 18 year old Samuel.

According to the History of Vernon County, Samuel settled on section 9 of Liberty in 1855. He was elected as one of the first town officers in 1858, holding the position of clerk.

Stephen followed his son to Liberty shortly after. He was awarded the 85 acres he had been farming on February 1, 1858 by the Bureau of Land Management.

Stephen died in 1864 in Liberty. He is buried in the McCullough family plot in Liberty.

 

Google Earth Snapshot showing location of land settled by Stephen A. Fish in Vernon County, Wisconsin.

Google Earth Snapshot showing location of land settled by Stephen A. Fish in Vernon County, Wisconsin.

Land patent for Stephen A. Fish.

Land patent for Stephen A. Fish.