There are so many Strong Women in my family. They tended to not sit on the sidelines but to dive right into the fray. From my Dr. Sarah Larkin Beardsley who went to medical school in 1880 and became a practicing doctor in Jonesville, Michigan before her untimely death in 1886.
To Hannah Bartlett Kelly who gave money to help fund the American Revolution after her husband died to my immigrant ancestors who left Italy to come to New York and left there families behind. Strong Women run in my family.
To me the strongest woman I know was my grandma Frances Mary Stewart Witherwax. She was born on Lyon Mountain in 1922. Married my Grandpa (Earl Elmer Witherwax) in 1940 at Schuyler Falls at the age of 18 and he was 30. Had my mom at almost 20 and then 6 more kiddos followed. She buried 2 children, raised her family and ran the farm while my Grandpa, who was an operating engineer helped build the Northway. She then also buried 2 sons and she kept moving forward. She never gave up and never quit. She had a stroke when I turned 14 and she still kept moving forward and overcame it. She was not a quitter and I will be honest it has been almost 14 years since she passed and I still miss her daily. I hate not seeing her and sharing the expanded knowledge of our family. She is the one who started me on this crazy journey. She would be so happy with all we have found and what we continue to find.
Love you Grandma and you are in my heart and big part of who I am.
Another prompt from the 52 Ancestors Challenge from Amy Johnson Crow.
This one was pretty fun to do. I love reading old wills. There is something about old will books that speaks to my soul. Going to a court house and finding the original papers. Absolute joy.
There is also a joy from finding wills online though it can be tedious work, I am lucky because Family Search has the New York Will Books online although they aren’t indexed and you need to browse the images they have been a huge help to me in the past 2 years.
I was able to find the Will of Beverly Beardsley who died in 1815 and it asks for guardianship for his daughters and his infant son Beverly. IT was how I disproved the Ancestry Trees with Beverly Beardsley living to be 120-something.
(this image is from ancestry.com but I generally go to Family Search for Wills because I have learned to use their system and it doesn’t have as many quirks to me.)
Wills are great for proving relationships. Another will and its detailed property listings will be helping me to prove a new patriot into the DAR. I have had this will for years but needed the probate package with inventory which some one randomly sent to in an act of kindness.
Never discount using wills to find clues to your heritage. I generally print them out so I can transcribe them. I am a bit old school where I do this with pencil and paper before converting to a word document. I love my paper still.
What cool things have you found in wills?
Every Week Amy Johnson Crow provides a prompt for the 52 Ancestors challenge and I will be honest I get stuck on them and ponder them and then do not write anything here for weeks. My goal is to not ponder them so much anymore and get moving and stay caught up.
So this prompt is for Week 8 back in February and it is about Heirlooms. My family was not really the type to hand things down from generation to generation. Seriously, the only thing I ever really wanted was my Grandma’s Genealogy papers and obviously those made their way to me. Every time I open the box I get the warm fuzzies.
If you know me you will know I am a sucker for the handmade, so I do have something that while it isn’t of great value to the outside world it means the world to me.
My mom made the pie plate and the floral coffee set. When we were cleaning out my grandparents house in Florida I asked if I could have them. I also snagged the Grandma and Grandpa set my grandparents used on the farm. I have no idea where they came from but I wanted the connection to them.
There is only one other thing in my house I took for the purpose of passing on and it is from my husbands family. I have a set of 6 little cordial glasses. I believe they are Waterford but am not sure. I will pass them to one of the girls if they want them though at this point I am sure they would rather have the Disney Art my husband and I collect.
Above is a picture of one of the cordial glasses they are tiny. Maybe I will use them one day as dessert dishes so they get some use. Things should be used and loved in my opinion. These are just objects it is the memories they evoke that are truly priceless.
Life got a hold of me back near Valentine’s day with things going on. I decided to take a different take on the Love theme. Instead of speaking of the great love stories of relatives. I decided to tell you about a family I have fallen in love with.
In heading toward a career in professional genealogy, I asked friends to be guinea pigs and let me research their families and practice writing reports with footnotes. I was immediately drawn to all the families I started researching. One in particular drew me in and has kept bringing me back. The Cameron Family.
This family has been my first foray into African American research and I am learning on the fly and falling in love with this family who has been in Texas for over 120 years. In someways African American research is the same as traditional research until you hit 1870. I think this is going to be my adopted project for a while but I am thankful for this opportunity and am blessed that I have wonderful friends who entrusted me with their loved ones.
I think this is one of my favorite prompts so far in the 52 Ancestors challenge. I love the use of family names. When I named each of my children my husband and I spent hours pouring over names. We never did use Zachary Tobias or Rebecca Lynn, neither of which has a family connection. We did instead to choose to name our children after family though I never did get to stick grandpa’s name Earl in anything.
We have a Chiara Michelle after me and my grandmother, a James Michael after both grandfathers and then we have Samantha Dawn, who shares a middle name with my Mom, along with her first initial. Going through the family there are some cool names from Leslie Winchester Beardsley and Olive Virginia Witherwax, or Lorin Nehemiah Larkin and my personal favorite Bezaleel Wood.
I did not know about Bezaleel Wood until after I submitted my application to the Daughters of the American Revolution under Lorin Larkin. I was visiting a Facebook group in 2016 and they said to look for other patriots through spouses and children. Lo and behold I found Bezaleel Wood, my 5th great-grandfather.
Bezaleel Wood was born 10 September 1758 in Lunenburg, Massachusetts to Jonathan Wood and his second wife Sarah Gary. He is named after an older brother who died in 1756. (Let me just say that naming your kid after a child who died is creepy. Yeah, I know it was a common practice but I still find it creepy.)
Bezaleel married Mehetabel Darby in 1778. They had 2 daughters that I have proven Sarah, my 4th great-grandmother who married John Larkin and Mary, who married Thomas Haynes. There may have been 2 other children (Eleazer and Elizabeth but I have not proven them to date).
After the American Revolution where Bezaleel served under Captain Joseph Bellows, the family relocated to Plattsburgh, Clinton County, NY where he lived until he died on 25 February 1818.
Bezaleel and Mehetabel Wood are buried in the Baker Cemetery off of Route 3 in Clinton County. I am happy to have discovered this ancestor and will keep learning more about him.
(photo courtesy of Find A Grave)
Week 5 of the challenge was In the Census. Census are one of the main records, I use when I look into the family history. Every now and then I will revisit a census record to see what other clues can be found.
I also now go and read the enumerators instructions to better understand what was being asked. Census records have all kinds of bread crumbs in them.
Let’s start with the 1880 US Census for Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Here we find Leslie Beardsley and his wife Sarah Beardsley. They were both born in New York State. In 1870 they were in NYS. When I found this record I could not fathom why they were in Michigan. If you look at the occupation of Sarah it says student but student of what. Sarah was a student at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor studying to be a doctor.
Next lets take a look at the 1910 US Census for Astoria, NY, where we find my paternal great grandparents and 2 of their children.
HEre we find Dominic Moro, wife Teresa, and sons Michael and Berlindo. Living with them is a boarder Paul Rizzo. The thing I find most interesting is the 1879 arrival of Dominic Moro. We were always told he came to the United States in 1900. This means he arrived with his parents, 20 years earlier, I have never found him earlier but truth be told I did not really look very hard as I struggle with Italian and Irish Research due to naming patterns. New project in my future.
Don’t forget that State Census are also great for finding our families. Here in the 1915 New York State Census is the first appearance of my grandpa Earl Witherwax.
Census records have a wealth of knowledge and are the backbone of my research. I think I need to go look at the various census records in my tree. I am also looking for a few elusive family members who seemed to elude the census takers.
Yes I am still 2 weeks behind but that is okay. I gave this one a lot of thought and there were so many people I wanted to eat with.
- Sarah Larkin Beardsley – I would love to know her thoughts on Medical School in the 1880s.
- My Grandpa Tony – What was like like coming to America in 1920?
- Bezaleel Wood – What was it like to fight in the American Revolution?
- Rebecca Towne Nurse – What was it like to be tried for Witchcraft in Salem?
- Obadiah Coolidge – why oh why can’t find any record of you except in your Daughter Hannah’s will.
Then there are my husband’s relatives I would love to eat dinner with:
- Henry Bass – why can’t I find you between 1942 and the mention of you in Robert Bass’ obituary in 1979. Why did you leave North Carolina and apparently never return? What drove you away?
- Robert Bass – why did you never have any contact with your daughter again after your annulment in 1946?
- To all those Irish ancestors why did you name your children all the same names?
- To Neils and Bergetti Osborne why can’t I find you on a passenger list coming to NY?
But the person I would love to have dinner with the most is my Grandpa. Earl Elmer Witherwax. I would ask for him to tell me all the stories and family history, he had shared with me and I would take notes. He was a master story teller and not a day goes by that I don’t miss you and Grandma. So that is who I would like to eat dinner with.
Yes, I know I am behind with posting my 52 ancestors challenge, but this longevity prompt had me stumped. I just could not figure out what to do. Finally, a light bulb went off in my head. I would give you a bit of commentary on those ancestors of mine who supposedly lived to be over 100 years old. Heck supposedly one lived to be 127 years old.
First is Rosanna Weatherwax. Rosanna is the daughter of David Weatherwax and Magdalena Cipperly. Rosanna was born around 1780 near Albany, NY. She died in 11878 in Peru, Clinton County, NY in 1878. Rosanna never married and yes, she was close to 100 when she died she was not 108 as the Plattsburgh Newspaper claimed she was.
Next the curious case of Beverly Beardsley who according to several Ancestry trees lived to be a whopping 127 years old.
Beverly Beardsley was born in Vermont in 1770 to Jehiel Beardsley and Hannah Gifford. In 1791 he married Ada Curtis in Rutland Vermont. Sadly in 1815 Beverly Beardsley died in Chesterfield, Essex County, NY at approximately 45 years old. This is according to his probate being filed in 1815 and guardians being appointed for his minor children.
Among these minor children is Beverly Beardsley who was born 17 February 1815. Beverly Beardsley lived to be 82 years old dying in 1898.
So, neither Beverly Beardsley lived to be 127 years old, sadly this myth is perpetuated by the shaky leaf syndrome. Friends those leaves are hints. They are NOT facts. They need to be verified and sourced. Do not take someone else’s mistake and perpetuate it. Really a 127-year-old man should have raised red flags requiring more research.
I will be back in a couple of days with Week 4 and Week 5 of the #52ancestors challenge.
Week 2 of 52 Ancestors is Favorite Photo. This was a tough one for me because I don’t have a lot of old family photos. Also photos take such a huge part in my life as a former scrapbooker. I would still scrapbook if I had more time. Priorities.
As I thought of a photo to share I pondered on the direction I wanted to go and finally decided I would share this photo of Henry M. Bass.
Meet Henry Morrissey Bass. He was born in 24 June 1886 in Warsaw, Duplin County, North Caroline. He was the son of John William Rufus Bass and Emma Faison Best Bass. He is my husband’s great-grandfather. He is somewhat of a mystery to me. I do not know much about him only what scant facts I have been able to find online. He is one of my Brickwall ancestors as I lose track of him in 1942 NYC and the next thing I find is his son’s obituary in 1979 where he is listed as the late Henry Bass. I have never found him on a census and his marriage record to Marguerite Brucks is proving to be elusive.
I love this picture of Henry Bass because it is one of the few photos I have of my husband’s family besides his parents. It was shared on Ancestry by one of my husband’s Bass cousins. This photo reminds me of my husband as Henry’s coloring is very similar to my husband. Reach out to those DNA cousins as they may share their photos with you.
I want to share another photo with you all. This one is more of a just because it makes me insanely happy. This is my son, Jimmy and Mickey Mouse.
Jimmy is 10 years old and has autism. He is non-verbal and very non-communicative. This is not the nice form of autism you see on television.
This photo warms my heart to the depths of my soul because Jimmy is interacting with Mickey Mouse. This Mickey was so patient and kind to this child while he was jumping and making noise. This is why Disney holds such a special place in my heart. They treat my son as a person.
Do you have a favorite photo? I would love to hear your story. Our ancestors are screaming for us to tell their stories.
Until next time.
I have decided to take part in a Challenge highlighting 52 ancestors of mine or in my family tree so they might be Gerard’s side. I hope by sharing my journey I will ignite your passion for family stories.
Each and every one of our ancestors deserves to be remembered for the good or the bad. Some weeks it may be simple with names and dates and bits of information other weeks it will be a more in-depth story of this ancestor.
This is Week 1 and our prompt was start. I am dedicating this post to the two people who started me on this fabulous Journey. My Grandpa and Grandma. I have talked about them in a recent post but here is a bit more.
Earl Elmer Witherwax was born in July 1910 and died in February 2001. He married my Grandmother Frances Mary Stewart (July 1922-September 2004) in Schuyler Falls, NY in October of 1940. They had 7 children. My Grandpa had many trades from a Beer and Soda Salesman, operating engineer to a dairy farmer. My grandma helped run the farm, was an accomplished seamstress and wonderful mom.
I spent many summers with my grandparents in Clinton County, NY driving back roads and at the library researching ancestors. We also went on road trips to places where we found family and my grandpa had a way with people to get them to talk. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my grandparents and hope they are happy with the progress I have made in the family tree.
I am happy and blessed that my grandparents shared their family history with me.