Monday, July 16, 2018

Regarding the Parentage of Abigail Pearsall

from History of Saratoga County, New York

Many genealogical researchers, including me, have struggled in vain to find the parents of Abigail Pearsall, the wife of Jeremiah Hart. However, I think I may have come closer to a solution using family trees and DNA.

We have a limited amount of information about Abigail, most of which comes from county histories, lineage books, and her tombstone. From the latter we know that she died on February 3, 1848 in her “77th year”, which places her birth date at about 1748.

We do not know for sure where she and Jeremiah were married, or where she was born. Therefore, I decided to look at the Pearsall families in Dutchess county, New York, where Jeremiah lived after leaving Rhode Island, and the Pearsalls in Saratoga county, New York, where we know they lived as a married couple. I created separate trees on Ancestry for the Pearsalls of Dutchess county, and the Pearsalls I found in Saratoga county. In the process, I found that some of the same families had lived in both counties. After having my DNA tested through Ancestry, I identified people who matched with me who also had the name Pearsall in their lineages. I felt that this was a reasonable avenue of research since I was also matching with people on Ancestry whose more recent common ancestor with me was Jeremiah himself, as well as some of the three Richard Harts who preceded him. I therefore thought that it would follow that I might have some matches showing up who descended from Abigail's forebears.

I then created a “Pearsall DNA” tree based on the trees of my “Pearsall” matches. There were several, and they keep showing up to this day. Most of them show descent from the couple, Nathaniel Pearsall and Sarah Todd, some of whose children also resided in Saratoga County at the time Jeremiah and Abigail were living there. These are Sarah, (m. Samuel Sering), and George, both of whom resided in Greenfield, twenty miles away from the Hart homestead in Stillwater. There are books which name the children of Nathaniel and Sarah, but none of them mention Abigail. However, I have often seen such pedigrees which omit some of the children, very often female. Looking at the birth dates of the Pearsall children, Abigail could easily have been born between Hannah (b. 1743), and Mary (b. 1749). In any case, I have yet to find any document linking Abigail and her immediate family to her purported siblings, but I continue to look, particularly in newspapers.

I have decided to consider this DNA evidence as being strong, and have taken the liberty of assigning Nathaniel Pearsall and Sarah Todd to Abigail as her parents on my main tree on Ancestry, “A Hart Family Tree”. If you are one of Abigail and Jeremiah's descendants, and you also have a tree on Ancestry and DNA matches, I invite you to repeat my experiment. I would be very interested in hearing about your results.

Theodorus Hart and his "Irish" Origins

Theodorus Hart from Simon Lobdell--1746 of Milford Conn.

With so much family history being available on line, we may tend to forget that previous generations had a much greater challenge piecing together their family trees, despite their being closer in time to our ancestors. Access to records was much more difficult for them, and it is likely that they relied more extensively on family stories. Because of this, it pays to be wary of what they had to say about their forebears.

A case in point is that of Theodorus Hart, (a.k.a. Theodore), the publisher of the Pittston Gazette in Pennsylvania. He lived in the latter part of the nineteenth century, and is responsible for many a wild goose chase on behalf of our mutual ancestor, and Revolutionary War patriot, Jeremiah Hart. I believe it is important to help set the record straight about Theodorus's mistaken notions about Jeremiah's origins.

It appears that Theodorus was the source for the sections in Irish Pedigrees: Or, the Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation Vol. 1 by John O'Hart, and The Irish and the Anglo-Irish Landed Gentry, When Cromwell came to Ireland: Or, a Supplement to Irish Pedigrees, by the same author,
which both deal with Jeremiah Hart and his descendants. This is because both works, in their discussions of Jeremiah's descendants, focus on Theodorus. O'Hart writes, "There is yet another branch of the 'Hart' family located in Pittston, Pennsylvania, which we cannot connect with any of the foregoing families, but which, judging by its coat of arms, is, in our opinion, a branch of our own family. We can trace the descent of that branch only from Jeremiah Hart, who when a young man lived in Duchess County, State of New York; removed to Saratoga County in said state, there married, owned a large farm, and lived and died". There follows a description of the lineage ending with Theodorus.

In addition, Theodorus's obituary in his own newspaper enlarges upon the same story. He appears to believe that Jeremiah and his brothers came from Ireland, which we now know is not the case. The records show that Jeremiah was born in Little Compton, Rhode Island, and was descended from a line of Harts, with the first Hart in America being Nicholas, the merchant of Taunton. It is however, possible, that Nicholas, who very much appears to have been born in England, may have been of Irish descent at some point.

Theodorus, born September 10, 1847 in Athens, Pennsylvania, was descended from Jeremiah Hart's son Philip, who lived in New York, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota. Theodorus died of “muscular rheumatism” on April 13, 1901. His obituary in the Pittston Gazette, dated the day of his passing, (and may therefore have been partially written by Theodorus himself), states: "The blood of sturdy, patriotic Irish stock flowed in his veins. Three brothers of the O'Harts (as the family name was originally written) immigrated from the region of Dublin to America close to half a century previous to the outbreak of the Revolution. One of the brothers finally settled in the vicinity of Saratoga, N.Y. It was from this branch of the family that the subject of our sketch was descended, and it is a sufficient explanation of his patriotic instincts to say that his great grandfather on both sides fought in the War of the Revolution, and that his grandfather, again on both sides, served against the Mother Country in the War of 1812".

Theodorus also seems to be the source of possible misinformation about Jeremiah Hart's wife, Abigail Pearsall. Both of the O'Hart books state that Jeremiah married “Abigail Purcell (nee Macomber)". However, O'Hart makes a correction in the Irish Landed Gentry book, "At p. 86, No. 1 read: 1. Jeremiah Hart, of Saratoga County, state of New York, b. circa 1850; married Abigail (Macomber) Purcell instead of Abigail Purcell nee Macomber".

I have yet to find any sign of the name “Macomber” being associated with Abigail anywhere else. However, Jeremiah's sisters Hannah and Susannah both married Macombers, and so there may be a connection between Abigail and the Macombers of which we are not yet aware. I hope to write more about Abigail's more likely parentage in a future blogpost.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Bosomworths Nearly Shipwrecked 1853

Robert T. Bosomworth, courtesy of
Sarah Schorfheide Erwin

Since writing my piece on Robert T. Bosomworth and his family, I have discovered further information about their lives in England, and about the circumstances of their voyage to America. As I previously stated, four generations of the family travelled together. Robert came with his wife, most of his children, his grandchildren, his father George, and his brother John and his wife. In addition, his niece Amelia, daughter of his sister Hannah, accompanied them.

According to a profile of William Bosomworth, Robert's son, in Portrait and Biographical Record of Madison County, Illinois, the ship on which they originally sailed “sprang a leak” and they were “nearly shipwrecked”. They were “obliged to return to Liverpool”. From there, they boarded the ship the “George Washington”, and after a voyage of roughly thirty-five days, which was the average on a sailing ship, arrived in America “the day before Christmas”. The incoming passenger list is available on, which shows them arriving on December 19, 1853. The total length of the family's journey is described as being “eleven weeks”, which likely includes the first attempt. I have not yet been able to find the pertinent outgoing lists. The family must have been determined to come to the New World, as four generations of Bosomworths were nearly lost all at once.

There does appear to have been at least one family tragedy aboard the George Washington. The memorial for Robert's granddaughter, Mary Elizabeth Bosomworth, daughter of his son George, states that she died at the age of one of the measles and was buried at sea. It is possible that other Bosomworths also died during the voyages, but the incoming passenger list only tells us who arrived alive.

It can be imagined that the family came to America for a better life, but there seems to be another circumstance which may have influenced their decision. I have found a newspaper article on which reveals that Robert's fourteen-year-old son John, committed suicide in 1845 by hanging. He had been a “footman” in the employ of “Richard Hill, Esq.” of “Thornton House near Pickering”. The verdict of the coroner's inquest was “temporary insanity”.

In my 2012 blogpost on Robert T. Bosomworth, I asserted that I did not believe that Robert's father George travelled with the family, particularly as the age listed for “George Bosomworth” on the passenger list was about twenty years off. However, I now defer to the account in the Madison County history, previously mentioned, which states that George came with them and died soon after. I also stated that the George on the list was likely Robert's son George Robert, but I now believe that the twenty-one year old “Robert Bosomworth” on the list was probably him. The elder George died soon after their arrival, according to the account, possibly in Springfield, Ohio, their first home in America.

Robert T. Bosomworth is reported while in Ohio to have been employed “cutting wood at fifty cents a cord”. The family removed to Lynnville, Morgan County, Illinois in 1854, and then settled in Madison County in 1856, where Robert purchased land after renting a farm for ten years.

I am wondering if their choice to move to Lynnville might have been influenced by knowing people from their hometown in England who were living there. These are namely Thomas Dickenson and his family, whose daughter Ann married Robert's son, my great great grandfather, Charles, in May 1856. Ann and Charles had been baptized in the same church in Thornton Dale, Yorkshire three years apart.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Joseph Marlow "Sailor Boy"

From The Ancient Port of Whitby and Its Shipping, accessed on Google Books
My first cousin once removed, Ruth Marlow Peacock, in her biographical sketch of my great grandfather, Joseph Marlow, stated that Joseph had joined the “British Navy” at the age of twelve, and later the U.S. Navy.  He was born August 16, 1853 in Stainsacre, North Yorkshire, near Whitby, so this would mean that he would have joined the navy in 1865 or 1866. I did not not believe her, but this did seem somewhat extraordinary. I recently discovered his obituary in the Carlington Free Democrat, in which it was stated that he had been a “sailor boy”. The evidence was starting to mount.

Last week I was watching “What’s New at Ancestrywith Krista Cowan on YouTube for August 2015, and she mentioned that a database called, UK, Apprentices Indentured in Merchant Navy, 1824-1910, was now available. I had always wondered if Joseph had been in the Merchant Navy, and decided to see if I could find him. Immediately, this popped up:

On the date of his indenture, February 19, 1866, Joseph would still have been twelve, the age stated above! Unfortunately, the original image associated with this record was not available. It would have shown the length of time for which he was indentured and to whom. (I have reported this problem to Ancestry). Scanning some of the images available, I found that the boys listed were indentured for periods ranging from about three to five years. Their ages ranged from about thirteen to twenty, twelve if you include Joseph. One wonders if he needed parental approval, or if his father was behind the plan. Joseph may have been following a family tradition as I found his uncle Thomas indentured at the age of fourteen in 1852, also in Whitby.

I tried to see what I could find about the “Hippogriff” elsewhere on the net, and was unable to find an image, but was able to find a description in the book, The Ancient Port of Whitby and Its Shipping, on Google Books. It was described as a “brig” with a 196 ton capacity, built in 1832, and owned by “Thos. Mills, R.H. Bay”. (A brig is a two-masted, square-rigged ship with an additional gaff sail on the mainmast). It was “lost off Yarmouth” in March 1870, which could have been during Joseph’s period of indenture. I was able to find a newspaper notice on line from the London Times, dated March 5, 1870: “The schooner Hippogriff, Miller master, of Whitby, was totally lost on the Scroby Sands, near Great Yarmouth, yesterday, and it is feared that all the crew perished. A boat and medicine chest was washed ashore”. (The “Scroby Sands” is a sandbank off the coast of Norfolk, and the site of many shipwrecks). If there were no survivors, then Joseph could not have been on that ship at the time.

When I searched on the name of the ship, “Hippogriff”, in the same Ancestry database, I was able to find a total of thirteen boys indentured to it. The years ranged from 1831 to 1869. The last boy, the one after Joseph, Andrew Hunter, was indentured at the age of fifteen in 1869, for a period of five years to “W. Mills, R. H. Bay”. (I believe that “R.H. Bay” stands for “Robin Hood’s Bay”, near Whitby. It also appears that Thomas Mills was the owner, and that William Mills was the “master”). It is possible then that Joseph was indentured to the same man, however, it seems that he was probably not still indentured in 1869 as ships were required to have only one apprentice,  therefore Andrew might have been his replacement, and therefore possibly lost at sea. However, I couldn’t find a death record for him. I hope that Ancestry will put up the image related to Joseph now that I have reported the problem. I will let you know if it appears.

I still have no direct evidence of Joseph’s having been in the “U.S. Navy”, but it has been gratifying to confirm another element of Ruth’s story of the Marlows.

Of note is that Captain Cook also was indentured in the Merchant Navy, and also out of Whitby.

And, interestingly, the author Joseph Conrad was also in the British Merchant Navy, and wrote about his adventures while part of it. The usual name for his narrator was "Marlow". (I am not claiming any connection, however).

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Last Will and Testament of Jeremiah Hart

I recently came across the original probate record on Family Search for the will of Jeremiah Hart, one of my Revolutionary War ancestors. Up to that point, I had only had a summary of the will, which only listed names. When I read it, it was like I was hearing Jeremiah’s voice for the first time:

"In the name of God, Amen. I Jeremiah Hart of Stillwater Town, and county of Saratoga in the State of New York farmer being in perfect state of health and of perfect mind and memory thanks be unto Almighty God, calling into mind the mortality of my body, and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make and ordain this my last will testament That is to say principally and first of all I give and recommend my Soul  into the hand of Almighty God who gave it, and my body I recommend to the earth to be buried in a decent Christian burial at the discretion of my executors nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same again by the mighty power of God.  And as touching such worldly estate wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me with in this life I give and bequeath to Abigail my dearly beloved wife, all my household furniture and bedding for ever, the whole of my real estate now in my possession during her natural life, or as long as she shall remain my lawful widow. Secondly I give and bequeath unto Jeremiah Hart Jur. my son after the death of my wife Abigail Hart, or at the end of her widowhood if she should again marry and no longer remain my lawful widow, all my real estate, as it is at present in my possession in consideration of the said Jeremiah Hart Jur. pay to Stephen Hart my son, one thousand, one hundred dollars. To have and to hold forever. Thirdly I give and bequeath unto John Hart my son two dollars to be paid out of my Estate. Fourthly, I give and bequeath to Reuben Hart my son, all that estate whereon he now lives to have and to hold for ever. Fifthly, I give and bequeath unto my daughter Phebe Hart one cow and ten sheep. Sixthly, I give unto my son Philip Hart two dollars to be paid out of my estate. Sixthly, I give and bequeath to Sarah Hart my daughter one cow and ten sheep.  Seventhly, and after all my funeral charges and all my honest debts are paid, I give and bequeath to my three daughters Phebe, Sarah and Hannah, after the death of my wife Abigail, all my household furniture to be equally divided among them. Seventhly, I will and constitute, make and ordain Abigail Hart my loving wife my sole Executrix and James Barber and Frederick Conly my sole executors together with my loving wife Executrix in this my last will and testament, hereby revoking utterly and disallow all and every form and testament, wills, legacies, and Executors by me in wise before named, willed and bequeathed, ratifying and confirming no others to be my last will and testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this Eighth day of March in the year of our Lord, one thousand, Eight hundred Six. Jeremiah Hart L.S."

I was struck by the strength of his religious beliefs, and by his affection for his wife, Abigail. It has been said that Jeremiah was of a Quaker background, but I haven’t found any evidence for this. It is certain, however, that he and his family were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Stillwater, Saratoga, and that he and his son Stephen, my three times great grandfather, helped to incorporate it in 1800. The Methodist strain in the Hart family was strong henceforth, up to and including myself and my siblings, as we all attended the United Church of Canada as children. Stephen Hart was also later a founder of the Methodist Church in Pinckney, New York. My great grandfather, Melvin J. Hart, was strongly Methodist his entire life.

He speaks lovingly of Abigail, his wife--she is “dearly beloved”, and his “loving wife”. He also thinks highly enough of her to make her executrix of his will. He may be possessive as he does not make it worth her while to marry again after his death, making her possession of his real estate contingent on her remaining a widow. Of course, he may also want to ensure that his wealth stays in the family. Dear Abigail is also one of my major “brick walls” on my tree. She was born “Abigail Pearsall” or possibly “Abigail Macomber”, and I can find no hint of her parentage, or a prior marriage, despite there being Pearsalls and Macombers galore in Dutchess county around the time of Jeremiah and Abigail’s marriage when they were likely living there.

Jeremiah seems to have included all of his children in this will, and it may be possible to ascertain something about how he felt about each of them by looking at what he left them. It was traditional to leave the bulk of one’s estate to the eldest son, and this is not what happened in this family. His two eldest sons, Philip and John, each get “two dollars”. Why these two were out of favour with their father is unknown. They were both likely living in Stillwater at the time. Son Jeremiah is the recipient of the homestead, but the history books tell us that he later moves to Saratoga Springs. Reuben gets to keep the land he is living on. My three times great grandfather Stephen appears to be in favour, due to his generous legacy, despite having just moved 162 miles away to Pinckney, New York, the year before. Two of the daughters, Phebe and Sarah, are endowed with livestock, principally sheep. We have to remember that the Hart family, including Jeremiah and his brothers, were tailors, wool producers, and fulling mill owners. The daughters were likely given the sheep for the wool. Hannah, the youngest, gets some furniture.

We might assume that Jeremiah continues to be satisfied with this distribution of his assets, because he does not write another will, and lives another sixteen years.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Emma Cook in Vancouver Before the Great War

Emma Cook
Three years after the death of her husband, William Cook, the 1911 Canada Census shows my great great grandmother Emma living in Vancouver with five of her children, including Faith, my great grandmother, Faith's husband, Herbert Saunders, and their new baby, Clara. Emma’s other children living with her are Edward, Samuel, Mary Eliza, and Godfrey. The family has followed Emma's daughter Lily and her family to the west coast of Canada. Emma is operating a boarding house at 1296 Venables, and has eight men living there in addition to her family. The census began on June 1, 1911, and was completed by February 26, 1912, so we know that this was their living situation some time between those dates. The fact that baby Clara is listed as being two months old, and she was born April 8, 1911, indicates that Emma completed her enumeration in June 1911. In addition, she does not appear in the Vancouver city directories until this year, so she has likely come to Vancouver some time in 1910 or 1911.

An advertisement in The Vancouver Daily World from September 12, 1911 is very likely Emma’s, as it mentions “English cooking”, and we know from the city directory that in 1912 she operated her “English Home Bakery”. (I suppose at the time that “English cooking” would be a draw for some people).

Judging from city directories and from advertisements in the The Vancouver Daily World, Emma seems next to be operating both a bakery and a boarding house at 733 and 735 West Broadway from at least as early as November 1911  The following ad from April 23, 1912 shows that she was looking for both a dishwasher and a housekeeper:

I was delighted to see her name in this ad. (Interestingly, the newspaper headline for that day is "More Officers Testify at Titanic Probe: List of Bodies Recovered Increases"). Ten ads appear in for the 735 address from November 2, 1911 to April 23, 1912; and seven appear for the 733 address from July 15, 1912 to June 4, 1913. Oddly her address in the 1912 city directory  is “733”, and in the 1913 it is “735”, when one would expect the opposite based on the newpaper ads. I think we can safely assume that she may have held both addresses at the same time, although she doesn’t seem to be running the bakery in 1913. The majority of the ads are for a dishwasher, mostly at ten dollars per month with room and board, which later goes up to fifteen dollars. Five of the seventeen ads call for someone to help with the housework at twenty dollars per month, also “sleep in”. Curiously, no ads for room and board came up as they did in Winnipeg. Maybe she was doing better at finding tenants than at keeping a dishwasher! She may have needed extra help as her daughter Faith had two young daughters by November 1912 and had moved out with her husband, (but only two blocks away at 517 West Broadway). Son Samuel was also out of the house, living with Faith.  Only Mary Eliza, Edward, and likely Godfrey are now still with their mother. Mary Eliza’s occupation is “waitress”, and Edward is a “lather” as is Samuel. Edward marries Mabel Winnifred Mills on June 21, 1913 and lives in the Lower Mainland for the rest of his life.

The 1914 and 1915 Vancouver city directories show that Emma living at 877 Hornby Street. She is described only as a “widow”. Mary Eliza is listed with her in 1914, but not in 1915. She may already be married to William Foster at that time and living in Manitoba again. Godfrey is likely on his own, since from at least the age of sixteen he is a “salesman” and making more money than his adult relatives. I found this ad from November 29, 1913 for where Emma was living:

I next found this notice for an auction at her residence dated May 26, 1914. The owner at the time was selling off all the contents. Emma was still living there in 1915, so she likely was able to stay during the transition of ownership. It is an interesting look into the past as it describes the furniture and decorations, and that the boarding house had ten rooms. It helps us to visualize what her home was like in addition to being "warm" and costing $4.50 per week:

(In case you were wondering, a "sanitary couch" seems to be a kind of a folding day bed, which can be used for sitting or sleeping).

In 1916, Emma is back living in Winnipeg, closer to most of her family. She is now sixty-seven years old and living with Mary Eliza and her husband. I have found no further evidence that Emma ever operated another business. I checked on Google Maps, and none of places where she lived during these years still exist today.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Last Days of William Cook in the Press

Ad in The Winnipeg Tribune, January 16, 1908
Day of William Cook's Funeral
I recently started a free trial of, which hadn’t been yielding very much about my direct ancestors until I switched from their U.S. section to the Canadian one. I was pleased to see that there were newspapers from the turn of the century from both Winnipeg and Vancouver covering some of the times when my Cooks lived there. I was ecstatic to find an obituary for my great great grandfather, William Cook, right of the bat. I despaired of every finding one. This is from the January 14, 1908 Winnipeg Tribune:

From the account of one of his daughters, he died at 1:20 a.m. According to the weather report in the same newspaper, the weather was “cloudy” that day, with “light snow fall” expected.

This was followed by an funeral notice in the Tribune January 16, 1908:

And an item following the funeral from the same paper on January 17th:

That the family lived in a boarding house gave them premises large enough to host a small funeral. (The two different addresses on Donald Street, 141 and 144, could mean that 141 was a misprint, or that the boarding comprised more than one address).I’m thinking that the “Rev. Mr. Parker” was likely of the Anglican Church, as William was Church of England. The weather report that day states it was “fair”, but that it had been “quite cold”. This might mean that the family was blessed with clear weather as they made their procession to the cemetery.

These notices add significantly to what I already knew. William’s death certificate listed “diabetes” as his cause of death, but gave his illness as “two days” duration. That he also died of “pneumonia” makes this make sense. I knew that the family had come to Winnipeg from Moosomin, Saskatchewan between 1906 and 1908, but did not know that they came in April 1907. I had discovered through Findagrave that he was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Winnipeg, but had had no information about his funeral. That it was held in his home two days after his death followed by the burial was new to me. I knew from Winnipeg city directories that William’s wife Emma had operated a boarding house at their address, 144 Donald Street, but had not known that William had been part of this during the last months of his life.

When I searched on their address, I was able to find the following advertisement in the January 3, 1908 Manitoba Morning Free Press, eleven days before William died:

Now we know that they considered their establishment to be “first class” and that they charged four dollars per week. From the 1906 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, we know that earlier in that year, the family was still living on their farm in their log cabin in Moosomin, with their hired man Charles, their horses, their one milk cow, their one sheep, and their thirteen pigs. The children still at home at that time were Samuel, Faith, Mary Eliza, and Godfrey. It seems from this and other data, that these were the four children living at home at the time of their father’s death. Samuel would have been have been twenty-one, Faith nineteen, Mary Eliza sixteen, and Godfrey twelve. (The same four children are living with their mother in Vancouver in 1911, along with their older brother Edward. Only Faith is married). From what I can gather, it may have been possible for all the other children, now adults, to attend the funeral, some having to travel from Saskatchewan, except for Lily, who was the first to move out to Vancouver.

With this level of detail, it is possible to imagine what this time must have been like for the family. It seems as though the loss of William must have come as a huge shock, despite his diabetes, as he had only been sick with pneumonia for two days.

I have put out a request on Findagrave for a photo of William's grave marker, which is located at plot 8-G0523, Elmwood Cemetery, 88 Hespeler Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, but so far there have been no takers. If any of you gentle readers would be kind enough to provide me with such a photo, I promise to post it to Findagrave, and I will put the photo in a blogpost giving you full credit. A map of the cemetery can be found here: Elmwood Cemetery Map.