Archive for the ‘methodology’ Category

John McLeland, father of Thomas Asher McLeland, took the unusual step of applying for a Civil War Service Pension based on the service of his deceased son James R. McLeland.  J.R. McLeland (the first in a long string of J.R. McLelands in this family culminating with my father) died, unmarried, of disease at Fort Scott Kansas, in 1861, before he had the chance to fire a single shot.  His rank at his death was 2nd Lt., Company F, 3rd Kansas Infantry Volunteers.

J.R. was John McLeland’s second son.  But John was far from running out of sons with James R.’s death.  At the time of J.R.’s death there were 3 other sons in the household and another on the way. However, at the time John McLeland applied for his son’s pension, the family had lost 2 sons and 3 daughters and John McLeland had outlived 3 wives.

I wasn’t sure, when I wrote away for this pension file, exactly what I’d receive.  I’d never seen a pension application of this type before.  When the thick packet arrived I but it aside for a few days.  I was busy with other things.  Then, in the quiet of a Sunday evening I opened the envelope and almost immediately started cheering.  I hit the biggest jackpot of my 20 years in Genealogy.  (Confession – I was a newbie and the pink highlighting is mine – Arrgh! and thank heaven for good scanners.)

Affidavit of John McLeland Civil War Pension claim #441463

Not only does this affidavit give me the names of all of John McLeland’s wives and the dates of their marriages, it also gives me the dates and places of their deaths.  And if that wasn’t enough, the affidavit names each of John’s surviving children and gives their complete birth dates!  What more could I possibly ask?

Well, in the packet there are affidavits signed by John’s oldest daughter Caroline McLeland Gallaher Livesey and documents signed by his oldest daughter by his second marriage Mathilda McLeland Hill and by her husband John Hill.  In addition there is a date and place of death for John McLeland and a record of the guardianship procceding undertaken by John and Matilda Hill shortly before her father’s death that detail his extremely poor physical and mental health.

I guess you could say, not only did James R McLeland give his name to my father, but he gave his family to me!

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Following up on the legend of the death of Moses Gould in 1816, I had some questions. Would a logger’s death have been so commonplace it wasn’t recorded in a local newspaper? Was it likely that Moses was working as a logger? The rest of his family appear to have been primarily ship carpenters and farmers. What was the life of a logger like in this very raw period of Maine life?

Being a librarian I turned to print sources first 🙂

The University of Maine Bulletin, (series 2 #37, 1935, pages 13+) published an entire issue, over 150 pages on “A History of Lumbering in Maine 1820-1861” The following snapshot of the dangers and rewards of a lumbermans life is taken primarily from that bulletin.

In the 1820’s, a lumberman worked 4 months a year during the dead of winter. He could earn, on average, 75 cents per day at a time when a bushel of corn cost 60 cents. The men boarded in a lumber camp at a cost of 25 cents per day. If he was careful with his money, he could come out of the woods at the end of the winter with close to $60 in his pockets. Of course that assumed that he hadn’t spent anything at the camp store. And over a long winter it seems likely that he would need to purchase some items, a new shirt, perhaps or some tobacco. Still, that was a lot of money for the early 1800s. And the work was theoretically seasonal. Young farmers, working hard in Maine’s thin soil and short growing season to provide for their families, may have been lured by seemingly big money. The newspapers and government reports of the 1830’s and 40’s are full of gloom and doom scenarios about lumbering killing agriculture in Maine. They asserted, probably with much truth, that loggers made poor farmers. They planted late and since their oxen had spent the winter in the woods with the logging teams, they had poorly manured fields. So naturally they had poor crop yields and the cycle was perpetuated.

Camp life was brutish. Sabbath was rarely celebrated. The lumber camp consisted of 10-50 men, from several lumber teams. They lived in rough log structures with open central fires. The central fire was used for cooking as well as warming the bunkhouse and was never allowed to go out. Death from fire or smoke inhalation was a constant fear. Meals typically consisted of bread, pork and beans. Consumption of strong liquor was commonplace. It was believed that alcohol would keep off colds and fevers. The men worked as long as there was light with which to see. Fatigue and cold undoubtedly played a major role in the constant danger of the work.

A team consisted of 6-9 men who worked together all winter long and had sometimes worked together for years. The boss set the pace of the work, determined which trees would be felled next and when the felling portion of the season would end. The choppers selected, felled and cut the logs. The swampers cleared for the logs. The barker and leader hewed the bark off of the tree on the drag side of the log and got the logs ready for the teamsters. The teamster looked after and ran the “haul.” They were in charge of the teams of oxen (later horses) who pulled the logs to either the river or a designated storage site. The teamsters usually earned the most money and provided their own oxen and harness.

Once the weather began to break the log drive began. The drive, predecessor of the cattle drives of the 1880’s, was the laborious process of rafting the logs down river to the port of sale, usually Brunswick or Topsham for the Androscoggin River. This was the most dangerous part of the lumbering process. Breaking the landing – rolling the logs into the stream and maybe cutting into the ice to get the logs moving was very dangerous work, so was breaking a log jam which was hard wet work that required agility and good judgment even when very tired. Between 1831-1868 (in just 5 newspapers) there were 25 drownings reported during The Drive. And it is highly probable that the newspapers didn’t report every death.

Whether the unfortunate man was crushed by a tree he was felling or while breaking a landing or he drowned while breaking a jam “such accidents had to be charged up to the hazards of the industry. The victim of a logging accident was usually buried in two flour barrels, his grave was soon forgotten but occasionally his fate might inspire some crude poetic effusions [in the local newspaper].” page 102

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My 4th great grandfather, Moses Gould died, reportedly at age 40, while lumbering in the Maine woods. He left a wife, Anne Adams Gould, and 7 young children. My 3rd great grandfather was his youngest son Joseph Gould. Joseph never knew his father. In fact if the various brag book entries for Joseph and his brother Elisha are any indication, Joseph and his siblings may have been “placed out” by the county authorities and have grown up with little knowledge of their family in general. There are no other family or brag book stories related to Moses aside from the legend of his untimely death. I say legend because I’ve been unable to find any confirmation of the family story. I have not found any newspaper articles and the family is represented by the barest of factual entries in the Lisbon, Maine town records

page 31 “The children of Moses Goold & his wife Anne were born as follows viz:

Thomas Adams Goold was born November the 8th AD 1799
Charlotte Coombes Goold was born January the 4th AD 1802
Sarah Goold was born May the 3rd AD 1803
Moses Goold Junior was born August the 18th AD 1808
Sarah Goold the 2nd was born March the 20th AD 1811
Elisha Doyle Goold was born September the 18th AD 1812
Samuel Adams Goold was born May the 4th AD 1814
Joseph Goold was born November the 8th AD 1815”

page 32
“Deaths in the family of Moses Goold
Sarah Goold Departed this life June the 30th AD 1806
Moses Goold Departed this life March the 26th AD 1816”

Anne Adams Gould may have remarried but her life after her husband’s death is obscure to say the least.

The legend of Moses’ death was handed down in at least two families, that of Joseph and of his older brother Elisha Doyle Gould. Elisha was a couple of years older than Joseph, so perhaps he would have been aware of the circumstances of his father’s death. Joseph and Elisha’s families were separated by thousands of miles when Joseph moved his very young family first to New York, then Pennsylvania, then Iowa and then finally Nebraska. But of course Elisha could be the source of the story that appears in the brag book entry of Joseph’s son Garvin H. Gould.

Whatever the source of the story, his marriage to Anne Adams and his early death are the only things I really know about Moses Gould. So I’ve been trying to roll the shadows aside, at least a bit. I’ve cast a wide net and the results are fascinating. I know much more now about the lives of Maine loggers and farmer in the early 1800’s than I did before I began this effort. And it seems completely possible that Moses Gould could have been killed while involved in some sort of timber activity, even if, as seems likely, he wasn’t a lumberman full time.

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One thing about going to a library conference these days is that there is alot of technology under discussion. Wikis are probably not technology in the classic sense but I wonder why they aren’t being used deeply in genealogy. It seems to me that they would be a great vehicle for collaborative research projects. Many times in my years as an Internet oriented genealogist I’ve developed groups of “cousins” who are researching the same family. We may even be stuck on the same generation. It seems like a no brainer that we could set up a semi-private wiki – or even a public wiki and use it as a place to post research findings, discussed possible conclusions and so forth. We could even use it to “publish” a report that might help others who haven’t found us yet. But when I use wiki search engines I don’t find much of this type of wiki use. Maybe its because you need a specialized search engine to find some wikis. Maybe its because, like me, your average genealogist is a bit older than your average “social network user.” Maybe I’ll have to do this myself. Asher family folks – care to learn a new technology?

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I’m at a library conference and suddenly – someone is talking about various archives that have uploaded their historic photos into Flickr. I never considered Flickr as a possible source for older/old photos of houses, main streets and even family members. But I did some searching and discovered quite a number of wonderful older photos of Kansas towns, North Carolina farms and many photos of people who aren’t related to me – but whose images are turn of the century. Call me obtuse but I had never thought of Flickr as a place for older photos. Many of the archival photos are not well labelled. But you are encouraged to add “tags” and comments if you recognized the image and people are doing that. Be careful how you search, don’t be too specific with a location search. Flickr taggers appear to believe that broader tags are better than more focused specific tags. In other words search for Kansas towns rather than Iola Kansas. Once you find something that interested you check to see if it is part of a Flickr group. These are groups of images related to one another that are browseable just like a photo album. Happy hunting!

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My husband (and my kids of course) is descended from one of two men named Anstoetter, who were probably brothers, who came to the US in about 1868 from the region around Salzbergen, Hannover, Germany. Both settled in Iowa, one in Dubuque County and one in Carroll County. Actually, they both appear to have started in Carroll County where they bought land together. But something seems to have come between them. One brother moved to Dubuque County and never mentioned to his family that he had a brother living in the US. His obit doesn’t mention his brother even though he was still alive. These things happen. From what I know of John Herman Anstoetter, my husband’s great grandfather, he was a difficult man.

What really interests me in this little family spat is that one brother, I’m not sure which, changed the spelling of his name slightly. The Carroll County family, descendants of Gerhardt spell their last name Anstoeter very consistently in census, land, church, cemetery records and in published family accounts. John Herman and his descendants spell their name with two t’s – Anstoetter. And they were also very consistent and even insistent. I wonder why.

The name is very rare. Every person in the US with this surname, alive or deceased, is descended from one of these two men, probably brothers. The name is just as rare in Germany and I’ve never made contact with a German descendant of the family. In fact Google searches on the name – both variants – inevitably turn up roughly 10 hits involving individuals that aren’t closely related to my husband and those 10 hits are primarily to the websites of two individuals in Germany, one in Salzbergen and one in Muenster which is just down the road from Salzbergen. They seem to be a stay-in-one-spot sort of family.

Except for Gerhardt, John Herman and one other probable relative – Anna Adelheid Anstoetter Ovel who immigrated with her husband to Carroll County Iowa in 1854. She isn’t a sister as she is much older. But I will bet you she is an Aunt. No one knows. None of my husbands relatives had ever heard of a connection with an Ovel family.

I’ve contacted a researcher in Germany since the FHL has almost nothing for Salzbergen. I’m hopeful that somewhere there is enough information to help me understand. Why the dual spellings? Why the lack of migration? Why the testy family history? Well maybe not the last one. These things happen.

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I’ve been playing around (in between rebuilding the website and restoring the house – looks like a theme there) with Geni.com which is basically a collaborative genealogical workspace. Not quite a wiki and not quite family tree software, Geni.com allows you to create pedigree chart style linked family trees and share them with relatives who can add information they have. It has some bugs but also some promise. As a place to work together it sure beats sending GEDCOMs around and hoping that the relative treats speculation as speculation and facts as facts instead of the opposite. So far I have only a few collaborators but I hope to add more soon. I’ll write more after I see how this plays out.

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According to the War of 1812 pension file of Thomas Asher, who died in TX in 1885, he was drafted in Anderson County, Tennessee, in October 1814 and was discharged at Anderson County Tennessee in May 1815. He married Mary McGee in Anderson County on 6 May 1817. And he was a widower residing in Dewitt County, Texas on 10 January 1872. There are several Internet family trees that say this Thomas resided for a period in Indiana, married Polly Asher in Wayne County Indiana and perhaps sojourned in Illinois and/or Missouri on his way to Texas. In light of the sworn testimony of his pension file, let’s examine the Federal Census evidence working backwards from the 1880 census (with a small detour into tax and land records.)

1880 Kerr County, TX – Thomas Asher, age 83 born in TN, is residing in the household of his married son John H Asher, age 38 born TX. No other children of Thomas Asher are resident in the household.

1870 there is no discernible entry for this Thomas Asher in TX. Not with his son and not on his own. There is also no entry for John H Asher although several of their 1880 neighbors can be found in Kerr County. Perhaps they were missed by the census taker.

1860 Gonzales County, TX – Thos (sic) Asher born c. 1795 is living with a household that appears to include 2 adults sons, a married adult daughter and an unmarried daughter all of whom are either born in Tennessee or Texas. Their ages and places of birth – Frank age 22 and Nancy age 20 born TN and John age 19 and Lousa age 14 born TX – don’t appear to leave room for a sojourn in Indiana and Illinois.

1850 Dewitt County, TX – Thomas Asher (indexed as Ashen) age 53 born Tennessee. The household’s children are born in TN, IL and TX. The ages of the children indicate that the family was in TN until about 1820 and then in IL to about 1828.

So now we can be more confident in stating that Thomas Asher of Texas, resided in Tennessee from at least 1814 – about 1820, he then moved to Illinois until at least 1828 and probably later and he was resident in Texas by 1836 when son John was born there.

Backtracking to 1840 is impossible given the lack of 1840 TX census. However the DeWitt County 1846 tax list (on Ancestry.com) shows a Thomas Asher who is exactly where we would expect him to be.  There is also no 1830 TX census and given the historical context it is unlikely that Thomas would have been in Texas in 1830.

1830 Green County, Illinois – There is only 1 Thomas Asher household in Illinois in 1830.  He is of the correct age bracket. His household composition is what we would expect working from the 1850 census. In 1836, a Thomas Adams completed a purchase of Federal Land in Adams County, Illinois.  He had begun the purchase in 1834.  I have been unable to correlate this land purchaser with the Thomas Asher of interest.  There is also a Thomas Asher purchasing federal land in 1818 but he is a different veteran of the War of 1812 who served in the 4th Rifle Regiment.

1820 Bond County, Illinois – Again there is only 1 Thomas Asher household in Illinois in 1820.  Thomas Asher and a Robinson Asher are enumerated side by side. The ages and household composition are what we would expect for the household of the Thomas Asher who died in Texas.

These census migrations appear to leave little room for Thomas Asher to have spent time in Indiana. Being complete however, and checking Indiana census for 1820 and 1830 shows that  – There is only 1 Thomas Asher in Indiana in 1820 and he is too old to be our man (not to mention the fact that this is the man whose family we are trying to connect with the Texas Thomas!) There are 3 Thomas Asher heads of household in the Indiana 1830 Federal Census, but none of them are old enough to be this Thomas Asher.  In 1840 in Clinton County, a Thomas Asher is enumerated but he is too young to be our Thomas. In October 1834, a Thomas Asher completed his purchase of two pieces of Federal land in Clinton County, Indiana and he was listed as being a resident of Fayette County, Indiana.

Although stranger things have happened than someone moving back and forth between Illinois, Indiana and Texas within these tight timespans, my review of the evidence indicates that despite the Internet, his Tennessee birth and his birth year of 1797, this Thomas is not closely connected to the Indiana Asher families under consideration. The balance of the evidence indicates that this Thomas spent no or very little time in Indiana. The land purchases and the census listing in Indiana belong to a different as yet unidentified Thomas Asher.

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A big thank you to cousin Darrel who went over the Asher timeline with a fine toothed comb and discovered errors and helped with additions. Rather than do a second post, I added Darrel’s notes and corrections to the existing timeline but put them in red. I, also crossed out the far too many errors. I’m so embarassed that I was so sloppy. Maybe I should turn in my certification!  (I have got to remember to categorize posts)

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I’ve done so much research on the Whitman family of Greenbrier County, West Virginia that I suspect I could spout family trees in my sleep. But in all my years working on this family I never even considered War of 1812 records. Which is a terrible admission to make. Afterall, the three sons of the family were all of age to have fought in that war. So while at the National Archives this week I decided to look for 1812 pensions. Nothing. But on a whim I checked the Compiled Service Records and to my amazement I found that oldest brother William Whitman and middle brother George Whitman both served in the 79th (February – March 1815) Virginia Militia. The company was commanded by Capt James Kincaid and they served 17 days. There is no information in the record regarding why they were mustered or where they served. My guess is that they were called up “just in case” and never actually left Greenbrier County. But I could be wrong. I’ll have to research the 79th Militia Regiment to see what I can discover.

Revolutionary War Service records are sometimes a gold mine when the ancestor never applied for a pension. By researching Whitman and Holly men who have compiled service records for New York/New Jersey, I am slowly developing a kinship cluster that may lead to a maiden name for the mother of the Whitman brothers (see para above) In the Revolutionary war – the Regiments and various militias were nearly always location based. So if a group of men with the same reasonably unusual surname appear in the same regiment they probably resided in the same local. This is a much slower process than pulling names from the pension files. But not every ancestor had the good sense to apply for a pension.

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