Sunday, November 25, 2012

John Hart 1797-1864 and Sally Wright Merriam 1796-1872

John Hart headstone
Groveland Cemetery
(not to be posted to a commercial site such as Ancestry)
Sarah (Sally) Hart headstone
Groveland Cemetery
(not to be posted to a commercial site such as  Ancestry)

John and Sally (a.k.a. Sarah) Hart were my great great grandparents, and were the parents of my great grandfather, Melvin J. Hart (could the “j” stand for “John”?) I am writing about them today, not because I have learned quite a bit about them, but because I am not yet satisfied by what I yet know. I am hoping that by writing about them I will learn more, as I always do when I write about my ancestors. I am also hoping that this post will draw the interest of those who are more informed, and that they will kindly share their knowledge with me. Due to there not being vital records for them that I am aware of, except for Sally’s birth, and  photos of their headstones, and due to their not being written about as much as all the other Harts in the line going back to the earliest Harts in America, they are a bit of a mystery. I am especially interested in linking them more strongly to Melvin (I do have some solid links here), but also to linking John more firmly to his father, the Hon. Stephen Hart. I will share with you now what I do know. Both John and Sally over the course of their lives travelled far from their places of birth, and were among early settlers as children, and in older age. I am grateful to Jerry of the Lewis County Historical Society for providing me with resources relating to the Hart and Wright families which I could not have otherwise obtained.

John was born on May 11, 1797 in Stillwater, Saratoga, New York. In about 1805, his father, the Hon. Stephen Hart and his mother Elizabeth “Betsey” Scidmore Hart brought the family with them from Stillwater to Pinckney, Lewis County, New York, where Stephen was one of the founders of the town. (Stephen and Betsey are to be the next subjects of this blog). It was part of Harrisburg at the time, and the county area was still part of Oneida County. It was often referred to as “the Black River country”. The data I have linking John to Stephen are a reference to a listing of Methodist church goers in the area which list John and Sally along with Stephen and Betsey as parishoners, and an article written by L.F. Wright about the founders of the area. In it, Wright lists the children of Stephen and Elizabeth Hart as “John, Sarah, Richard, Wealthy, Fanny, Alvin, Abigail, Jeremiah, Phillip, Stephen, George, Phoebe, Reuben, and James”. From records I have for the other children, John appears to be second eldest after Sarah, and the eldest son of the family. The Stephen Hart family appear to be the only Harts living in the Pinckney area, so it is unlikely that our John could be the son of another Hart. (There is another Stephen Hart living in Lewis County at the time, but he is living in Turin. I needed to find out more about this Stephen before I could be sure about the records I had for John’s father. I did a lot of research on this Stephen and discovered that although he was not related to the Pinckney Harts, he was part of another separate Hart line on Sally’s tree, which leads back to the famous early settler in Connecticut, Deacon Stephen Hart. So he was related to Sally’s Harts, but not to John’s. Therefore, the Turin Stephen has been included on my tree).

Sally Wright Merriam was born on August 12, 1796 in Winchester, Litchfield, Connecticut. She was the daughter of William Merriam, whose occupation was that of a “joiner”, and Lydia Wright Merriam. She came with her family and her extended family to what is now Denmark, Lewis County, in 1802. (I will say more about this journey when I write about her grandfather, Charles Wright). She is listed as one of William and Lydia’s children in The Annals and Family Records of Winchester Connecticut, and in The Merriam Genealogy in England and America, where it also stated that she married John Hart and removed to Minnesota. A Wright family genealogy provided by the Lewis County Historical Society states that Sally married John Hart. I have an unsourced report that John and Sally married on November 3, 1820.

Their son Melvin’s Civil War pension file provided a transcription of a family Bible page, which stated that the ten children of John and Sarah Hart were Chloe, Aldula, Lovina, Alvira, Delilah, Joel, James, Phoebe, Hester, and Melvin. (See my first blog on Melvin for the birthdates).

Luckily, the family is captured on the 1830, 1840, 1850, and 1860 United States Censuses. The 1830 and 1840 Censuses only provide the name of the head of the household, and a “John Hart” is living in Pinckney in both. The number of people in the household, their age ranges and genders in the 1840 census match perfectly with what would be expected from the family Bible transcription, and the 1830 census has a few discrepancies, which is common in census data. The 1850 Census finds the family farming in Hermon, Saint Lawrence, New York. By this time, only the four youngest children are living with them: James, Phoebe, Hester Ann and Melvin. The value of John’s real estate is listed as “$500.00”. By 1860, John and Sarah (she mostly seems to be referred  to as “Sarah” as an adult), are back living in Pinckney, and the value of John’s real estate has dropped to “$250.00”. His personal estate is listed as “$951.00”. Only one of their children, Hester Ann, is still living with them, and she is married, but not living with her husband. 

Sometime between 1861 and 1864, John and Sally move to Rice county, Minnesota, where their son Joel has been living since at least 1859, when he married Elizabeth Frances Poe. They may have travelled with some or all of their children who also eventually moved to this area, including Hester Ann, Melvin, Delilah, Chloe and Alvira. James settled in Iowa, as did Melvin later. Two of their other daughters may have also come with them, but I do not have much information about them beyond their births. These include Aldula and Phoebe. Lovina is the only one we know who seemed to have lived and died in New York State. Alvira and Delilah are both married to Glaziers, who therefore may be brothers, William and Daniel respectively. In addition, John's brother, Stephen A. Hart, is living in Goodhue, Minnesota with his family by 1854, where he is elected County Surveyor. Stephen may have been the first of the Harts to settle in Minnesota. John`s uncle, Philip Hart, died in Roscoe, Goodhue in October 1860, and may have been in Minnesota as early as 1850, when he is found in Pennsylvania in the census, the next earliest record that I have.

John Hart died on December 26, 1864, and is buried in Groveland Cemetery in Bridgewater, Rice County, Minnesota. Sarah and Melvin are living with Joel and his family in Forest, Rice County in 1865; and she is found living with her daughter Delilah and her family in 1870 in Walcott, Rice County. She died on February 17, 1872, and is buried with her husband. All three of their sons, Joel, James and Melvin, fought in the Civil War and survived.

By the way, my prediction was correct--I did find more records and make more connections in writing this post. These were the 1830 Census data, and Delilah's marriage, and therefore her later life and her descendants. Bonus.

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