Promotion Woes

I thought this might be an interesting short post for Veteran’s Day. My ancestral grandfather William Shepard, of Westfield, Massachusetts, retired a Colonel of the Revolutionary War.

When he first joined up to help further the cause of the Revolution he was a 2nd Lieutenant, as he had had prior experience in the military when it was British. Over the years during the war he was eventually promoted to Colonel, and in 1782 he was recommended for promotion to Brigadier General. It appears that they needed more Generals to run the brigades in the army.

Osgood Gilman
Whereas it appears that there are two Brigades of Troops of the Massachusetts Line now commanded by Colonels
therefore
Resolved that Col. John Greaton & Col. William Shepard the two Senior Colonels in the Massachusetts line of officers be and hereby are promoted to the Rank of Brigadier General in the Army of the United States.
Vote taken December 1782[?] Ayes 9, Nays 11. The Nays have it.

Unfortunately, William didn’t get that promotion. He retired from military service January 1, 1783, possibly because he felt it was a promotion he should have gotten, plus he had served his county for many years, it was time to go home.

However, nine months after he retired a Congressional Resolution dated September 30, 1783, was passed, it appears that his service was finally being recognized, as he was promoted to Brig. General, although without pay of that rank.

Source: Images from Fold3 website.

Cousin Shares Hamm Treasure

Just a heads up to let folks know that on my recent visit with one of our Hamm cousins, I snagged a couple of pics that we don’t have in our own family collection. They have been scanned and uploaded to my flickr site.

Here’s a good one of George Hamm and folks in an automobile, the sign on the vehicle says Marshfield Auto Club. Amelia might be sitting behind the driver, the image is small and not very detailed, so I am not sure.

Thanks Larry! for trusting me with your precious pics.

Be fruitful and multiply?

It looks like this particular Connelly Catholic couple took their biblical mandate quite seriously.

Unfortunately for everyone modern science was not up to helping these children survive after birth. Chilton Times, Jan 1861.
First 4 then 2. Crazy! Chilton Times, 18 Jan 1862.

Here is a list of all the children of Patrick and Elizabeth:
Francis Connelly b.1850 Rhode Island
Mary Connelly b.1852 Rhode Island
Thomas Connelly b.1855 Rhode Island
Caroline Connelly b.1857 Wisconsin
Dennis Connelly (Quad) b.&d.22 Dec 1860 Chilton, Calumet Co, WI
Theresa Connelly (Quad) b.&d.22 Dec 1860 Chilton, Calumet Co, WI
Catherine Connelly (Quad) b.&d.22 Dec 1860 Chilton, Calumet Co, WI
Winifred Connelly (Quad) b.&d.22 Dec 1860 Chilton, Calumet Co, WI
Elizabeth Johanna Connelly b.17 Jan 1862 Chilton ,Calumet Co,WI
Catherine Connelly b.07 Mar 1865 Chilton ,Calumet Co, WI

Last I heard from other Connelly researchers, it was not known for sure if Patrick was a son of Dennis and Winifred Connelly, but that might have changed. So it is likely that Patrick is an elder brother of my ancestress Winnifred Connelly Cain.

Patrick and his wife Elizabeth Connelly lived in Chilton, Wisconsin after emigrating from Ireland in the late 1840s. Well, Patrick most likely did, I don’t know anything about Elizabeth, (although I think I read somewhere that they married before emigrating, don’t quote me on that, and it is not really relevant to the story).

Here is another piece that come out in the Madison paper a few years later. Looks like there was a competition going on in the state.

Nine years later (1869) this article appeared in the Madison paper.

The only Patrick that comes close to Connelly in the Wisconsin 14th Infantry regiment is this one:

Carny, PatrickG02/05/62Enlisted10/03/62Killed

But I don’t think he is the same man, or they have several errors in the records regarding him. A cursory search at Ancestry.com databases make me think that after the war Patrick and Elizabeth headed back to Rhode Island to work in the mills. Maybe farming wasn’t for him.

April 7, 1957 Letter Herman Shepard to parents

Worthington Ohio
April 7 1957

Dear Dick & Dad:-
Sunday evening and it just started raining, it has been a fairly nice day today, temperature at noon was 60 degrees it is now about 35 degrees. Bess was down to day and just left a short time ago. She and the “gang” are all O.K. said for you to write her a letter. I suppose you are wondering how I’m getting along with my ‘Store teeth‘, well I can do everything except eat. I should lose some weight as I’m only eating soft stuff and soup. I can’t chew with them and if I eat soft food like bread the damn things won’t stay put. What do you do in a case like that? I’m glad I didn’t have to start out with lower ones too.

Did Lydia get along O.K. on her trip down? We were wondering how she stood the ride. We would surely

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like to take a ride in that direction. I’ll bet everything, all the trees, flowers & etc are really pretty now after all the rains you’ve had. Those yellow Easter flowers that Dad set out for us are just now in full bloom and I don’t see how they made it because we haven’t had only a couple of nice days really warm. Of course they have been in the process of blooming about 2 weeks.

You should have been here a week ago when we had a sleet storm and seen the willow trees, they had just enough leaves out that the ice could form on, and it looked like the limbs of the trees was going to break off they were so heavy with ice.

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do you folks still like you place? “I hope so” and how is the wiring job I did holding up? I had hoped you would sell a few wirings jobs so I could go down and do them but so far I haven’t seen any orders. Speaking of jobs are you looking out for me? You know I’m counting on you do don’t let us down. I suppose Lydia told you we had a “lite” on the cottage at Harbor View but I believe I “goofed” the deal because I give him a flat no on any reduction in price. I should have left the door open for further conversations as we haven’t heard anything from him since.

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If the weather is decent next week end we expect to go up and build the catwalk on our part of the new dock, then after the Easter week end go up and open the cottage for the season. I don’t think we’ll have any freezing weather after that.

Bess and Johnie are planning on opening theirs Easter weekend. She says Eddie and Jane will not be going up this year. She is to have her baby sometime the latter part of May. Boy time surely flys here I am writing about opening the cottage and before you know it you folks will be here and the kids will be home from Washington. We are anxious to see them all and I imagine

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they are looking forward to the time they can start east.

Edna Frutchey called Ruth after they got home. Said they had a wonderful time although we haven’t heard from her since. I’ve been working on my lawn mover. today so it will be in condition by grass cutting time. Work at the shop has been pretty slow ever since we got back, but picked up a bit last week. What have you guys been doing lately. Write and give us all the details.
Love,
Herman & Ruth.

Barber John

A barbershop in the 1910s, image found on Pinterest.

Apparently we have a barber in the John family.

I happened to notice that Ancestry had added a database regarding Wisconsin employment records, which is a collection of records of individuals who needed a license to work, and included occupations such as: teachers, boxers, barbers and watchmakers. So I thought I would check to see if Lydia Hamm was in there as a teacher.

Well I didn’t find Lydia, or any other Hamm of interest, but when I tried searching for Johns two names showed up that I recognized: Eric and Elmer W. John. These two men are both sons of William John, jr., the, sort of, middle son of F.W. and Johanna John.

Eric John is 4172, on lower half of page.
Elmer W. Johns is 738, or second on page.

Eric is already a barber in the register and is merely keeping up with his professional paperwork. Elmer on the other hand is actually registering as an apprentice. I guess he had a year or so to go before he could call himself a professional.

I did a quick search for Eric at Ancestry and found him working in a barbershop in Rock County in the 1910 census. Eventually he moved the family to Gillett and continued as a barber probably his whole life. (His son Keith had a daughter whom we met at the Gillett Cemetery Walk a few years ago.)

Elmer eventually moved to Milwaukee and was employed as an electrician by 1940. I guess the barbering profession wasn’t for him.

Just a fun fact to share. Its nice to know what our cousins were doing with their lives.


  • Barber register, 1903-1913; Wisconsin. Barbers Examining Board; Series 880, box 1 flat, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison Wisconsin. [Ancestry.com. Wisconsin, Employment Records, 1903-1988 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2018. digital image 638-639 of 770]
  • Apprentice register, 1907-1913; Wisconsin. Barbers Examining Board; Series 882, box 1, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison Wisconsin. [Ancestry.com. Wisconsin, Employment Records, 1903-1988 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2018, digital image 520 of 735.]

Samuel Billings’ Mystifying Probate

Okay, so in last week’s post I mentioned something about my research into my 8x great grandfather Maj. Samuel Billings* and his probate record. I guess this week I have to tell you the end of that story.

Samuel is an ancestor found on my grandmother Lois Shaw’s side of the family tree:

Found him.

Now, I am not really going to give you a thorough biography on Sam, just a few nuggets because, well, it would take me a lot longer to get this post out, and I really just want to talk about his probate.

The story so far.

One of the to-do items on my list for my recent trip to Salt Lake City, was to find Sam’s probate in Vermont records. I was hoping that it would help me find out who Franklin Robinson’s father was. You see, Sam’s daughter Beulah Billings, had a son named Franklin Robinson. But I have been unable to find any record of her marrying anyone named Robinson. Maybe her father’s probate would answer that question.

For the record–it didn’t.

Well that resource was a bust. But, I still had Sam’s probate, and he is still one of my ancestors, so it’s not like the record was a waste of digital space. I decided to start transcribing the documents. So that’s what I have been doing these last few weeks. And when I say ‘these last few weeks’ I mean, these last few weeks. (By the way I’m still not done.) The reason it is taking me so long, is because the probate record is composed of a very long list of inventory items, and a very long list of debts owed by his estate. Here are examples of what I am looking at:

This is part of the inventory which is actually 6 pages long, I think, and there are usually several items per line (the amounts are in pounds, shillings and pence). And this is the main list, I saw several other shorter lists like these further on in the documents.
There are about 10 page of names in columns like these, apparently the lists are of people who have a claim on the estate.

As you can see this is a bit of a project. You even might ask, ‘why are you spending so much time doing all this transcribing of the items and names in these records?’ Well, the inventory is fascinating in and of itself, because these are the items Samuel and his wife, Beulah (not to be confused with their daughter Beulah), used in their daily lives. For example, it looks like Samuel was a bit of a clothes horse–here’s a sample:

2 waistcoats 0 7 0
1 black breaches 0 10 0
1 pair velvet breaches 0 5 0
3 pair cotton breaches 0 14 0
3 cotton waistcoats 0 14 0
1 pair linnen stocking 0 5 0
1 red coat 1 8 0
1 leather breaches 0 8 0
1 new hat 0 15 0
1 old hat 0 1 0
1 wig 0 5 0
1 pair silver spurs 1 2 0
1 pair silver shoe buckles 0 8 0
1 pair silver knee buckles 0 7 0
1 silver stock buckle 0 6 0
1 pair silver sleeve buttons 0 2 0
1 silver watch 4 10 0
1 pair shoes 0 7 6
1 pair boots 0 5 0

The large inventory of items suggest to me that Samuel either had money, or spent a lot of money. And I have read over the information before and after the lists of names several times, and it reads like these are people with an interest in getting money from the estate. I have seen plenty of ancestor’s probate records, but none of them contained anything like this. Here is a transcribed sample:

Last Name, First Name Pounds Shillings Pence
Preats Hezekiah 0 10 6
Watson Titus 0 6 6
Hills John 1 4 0
Fuller John 0 4 0
Holbert Abel 42 0 0
Harris John 0 12 4
Schohue Honuel 3 11 9
How Moses 0 15 9
Hambleton Joshua 8 18 9
Honwell Ladach 5 4 1
Hynds Joseph 6 9 3
Schohue Honwell 8 5 0
Hanley Peter 23 9 0
Hayford Samuel 0 19 10

Why were all these people owed money? The amounts ranged from a few shillings, to, so far, as much as about 50 pounds. So I decided to see if I could find out more about Samuel that would answer this question.

Here is a bit of his background that I have learned so far.

Samuel Billings was born in 1736 in Hardwick, Worcester County, Massachusetts to Samuel and Hannah (Warner) Billings. He married Beulah Fay in Hardwick on the 28th of June 1764, and over the course of their marriage they had 9 known children together.

Their early married life was spent in Hardwick. But in 1771(1) he moved his family to Bennington, Bennington County, Vermont. And when Samuel brought his family to Bennington, he supported them as an inn-holder.

Ah-ha!

1798 view of Bennington, from Bennington Historical Society website.

Several inns stood between Bennington Centre and Pownal Centre before the Revolution. Billings Tavern was built by Maj. Samuel Billings on the Old Road south of The Poplars, later known as Lon Wagner’s Inn and the “Old Yellow House” until it was burned a few years ago.(2)

Samuel Fay remembered all the inns and taverns that were in the area where he grew up:

Mr. Samuel Fay, five years of age the day of the Bennington Battle, and who distinctly recollected occurrences of that day with other reminiscences, stated to G. W. Robinson the following, of public houses, all in apparent successful operation: the Catamount Tavern, kept by his grandfather Stephen Fay; …the Billings Tavern, in whose stables he has seen one hundred horses at one time,–a not uncommon occurrence,–belonging to people emigrating from Connecticut and Massachusetts to the different parts of Vermont and New Hampshire; it now stands on the side hill west of the residence of Mr. Nichols, near the Bennington and Pownal line.(3)

Now all those names in the list make sense. Except, I would think the names would be of people who owed to the estate, not the other way around.

This is the newspaper notice regarding the probate, is clearly states that the estate was insolvent.

But, I guess that means a bit more research needs to be done to see who these people were in relation to Samuel, and the Billings family. Were they merchants, grocers, employees, neighbors?

If you do a search online using the term “Billings Tavern” and bennington, or vermont you will get several hits with a John in Connecticut, or a Moses in Massachusetts, all being tavern owners, which makes me think that this is a bit of a tradition in the Billings’ line. And, Samuel’s father-in-law, Stephen Fay, is the same man who owned the ‘Catamount Tavern’ of which I have discussed before.

To give a sense of what a tavern/inn would have been like in the 1700s, and a bit of tavern and inn history in America, here is an interesting article to read. Or, if you want to know what folks were drinking in these taverns here is a great article all about colonial era cocktails. I want to try some of these myself. And last, but not least, a short video on YouTube regarding the Catamount Tavern.

I am imagining the whole family working at the inn, with Beulah cooking, cleaning or, just managing all the work. They possibly had slaves, as there is evidence that slaves were owned by the Billings and related families’. The boys might have helped in the stables, the girls in the house. Or, they could have had enough money that none of them did any such thing, and hired out all the help needed to run the inn.

Still, the constant hustle and bustle of people stopping for a short while, before moving on to their final destinations must have been exciting for the kids. So many interesting conversations, fascinating stories, politics, gossip, philosophical discussions, and other goings on.

Imagined supper at an inn. The Billings Inn burned down, so I don’t know what it looked like. I guess this image showing an interior of a typical Vermont inn in the 1700s will have to suffice.

Samuel died in 1789, he was only 49 years old, although the Vermont records say he was 51. I don’t know much about Beulah, his wife, but I don’t think she married again before she died. I believe that one or more of his sons, of which there were three–Samuel, Stephen, and Jonas–took over the business. Because the estate was in debt the executors were directed to sell enough property make 400 pounds to help pay those debts. Considering Sam owned just over 900 acres they could probably spare a few.

During this quest I have found out quite a bit about the Billings, and I am sure there is much yet to learn. In the meantime, I am still working on transcribing his probate. So–mystified no more!

I am afraid the mystery of Franklin Robinson’s father still remains. Maybe DNA will settle that question.

——————————–
* But was he really a Major? I haven’t found any source regarding his military service saying he was anything other than a Captain. Maybe someone will have that information and share it. The following entry was found at Jonas Fay Wikipedia page: “Beulah was the wife of Samuel Billings, a Revolutionary War veteran and militia officer who attained the rank of major before dying in 1789.” No actual source showing his promotion was provided though. Even his probate says Maj. Samuel Billings, but that could just be local tradition.

Source:

  1. Early Vermont Settlers Index Cards, 1750-1784. (Online database: American Ancestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2019). From source materials for Legacy of Dissent: Religion and Politics in Revolutionary Vermont, 1749-1784. Worcester, Mass.: D.A. Smith, 1980. https://www.americanancestors.org/DB2767/i/56488/252/1425779972. Page 252-253 of 99999, General Western Vermonters.
  2. The Hoosac Valley: its legends and its history, by Niles, Grace Greylock. Published 1912, New York : G.P. Putnam’s Sons. p224 [Archive.org]
  3. Memorials of a Century: Embracing a Record of Individuals and Events Chiefly in the history of Bennington, VT and its first church, by Isaac Jennings, pastor of the church; Boston:Gould and Lincoln, 59 Washington St., 1869. p66 [Google Books]

If it dresses like a man, and says it’s a man, she must be a woman

Sometimes I find the coolest things hunting and pecking around the interwebs researching my ancestors in an attempt to flesh out their lives. This one was a very convoluted find, because it all started with questions about a probate record for Samuel Billings of Vermont, and ended up in Massachusetts during the Revolutionary War.

So, here’s what happened — I was working on creating a timeline for Samuel, to get a general sense of the whens and wheres, and it turns out that he had been a Captain in Colonel Learned’s 4th Massachusetts Regiment during the Revolutionary War. Upon further research into this regiment I find out that this is the same one that William Shepard took over after Learned died. Cool. Now I know that Samuel served under my 5x great grandfather Col. William Shepard. That, in and of itself, is pretty interesting. But then, this little gem pops up on my radar:

In 1778 Deborah Sampson wanted to enlist in the army as a Continental soldier. But the army said no, because, well, because women can’t serve you silly ninny. So, she disguised herself as a man. She had little difficulty passing as a man because she was 5′ 7″ in height, which was tall for a woman at that time. She ended up serving 17 months in the army, as “Robert Shurtlieff,” (wounded in 1782, honorably discharged in 1783).

Sampson was chosen for the Light Infantry Company of the 4th Massachusetts Regiment under the command of Captain George Webb. The unit, consisting of fifty to sixty, er…, men, was first quartered in Bellingham, Massachusetts and later the unit mustered at Worcester under the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment, commanded by Colonel William Shepard.

~~ taken from (and, well, edited a bit by me, a girl has to spice things up a bit): https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Deborah_Sampson
Deborah Sampson statue.

In the town where she died, Sharon, Massachusetts, they have statues of her, buildings named after her, and lots of history honoring her service and life. I seriously doubt that William or Samuel ever knew they being snookered at the time. Good for her! Of course, it would have been even better if the military had said “by all means, the more warm bodies to help us kick English ass, the better.” But they didn’t.

March 7, 1957 Letter Herman Shepard to parents

Worthington Ohio.
March 7, 1957


Dear Dick & Dad:-


Ruth and I want to extend our congratulations on your Golden Wedding Anniversary. You two were never ones to talk a lot about your anniversary. In fact, I never knew just what day it was until we called you last Saturday. If we had thought about it, we could have made our trip down to help you celebrate at this time. Although we can not make the trip , you can be sure of one thing-our thoughts will be with you and wishing you all the happiness that you deserve.

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and another thing you can be sure of is that you’ve been the greatest parents in the world and I’m proud to be your son. May God bless and keep you.

We are enclosing a check so you can use it to buy something for your house, or for yourselves as you see fit. It’s only half as much as I would like to send, but maybe it will help. Don’t buy your everyday needs with it. But get something that you wouldn’t spend your own money for.

In case Dad is looking for his little knife, I want you to know I found it in one of my pockets after we got home and

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I can never think to write you about it. How is our old fishing buddy “Smitty”? Give him our regards, and tell him we hope the fishing is better now.

I don’t suppose any letter would be complete with out some comment on the weather-, the temperature here is now 25 degrees and a light snow is on the ground. After I called you last Saturday, I took a look at the thermometer and it was 16 degrees colder than what I told you. Well, that should make you feel good, so with that thought in mind, I’ll bring this to a close.

Love Ruth & Herm.

December 5, 1956 Herman Shepard to his parents

Worthington Ohio
Dec. 5, 1956

Dear Dick & Dad:-

Just a line to let you know we are OK and everything’s as usual. The weatherman has been very kind to us for the past few days but according to today’s forecast we are in for some colder weather & “stuff” I’ve been watching your Tampa reports and they look good to me, I’m surely glad you folk are down there to enjoy it.

Ruth and Charlie were here last Sunday and told us all about their trip and the house they bought. We were anxious to talk with them to find out all about what you folks have been doing, where and what kind of a house you rented, “you know the details.” You were lucky to get a nice place so quick-especially one large enough to hold your furniture. Also to be close to stores etc. I’ll bet you’ll be

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spoiled when you change your own house unless you would be lucky again to get close to shopping facilities.

You may have to give up that convenience in order to get the location, house and price you want to pay. Let’s hope your luck holds out. Ruth & Charlie really must have gotten sand in their shoes to have bought a place already. As he won’t be able to retire for so long. We wish them luck and hope they will be able to keep it rented until they need it for themselves.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but we haven’t been up to see Lydia yet. I hope she is getting along O.K. Seems like there just isn’t enough time to go around. Ralph Kring and I went up to 22 W. Park last Sunday and got the table & top carrier so that I would say

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was the final act as far as 22 W. Park is concerned.

Have you folks been looking around any yet? Ruth O’Farrel said you were going to start soon. Sure wish we were looking for one down there. The orange blossoms smell a lot closer now than they did a week ago. The main reason is Rodenfels cut my commission $20.00 a month effective starting next month. It surely made me mad when there isn’t any reason for it. I could go on and gripe for twenty pages but it won’t do any good. We are top dealer in service volume in the Norwood zone plus the fact new cars are about $200 higher than last year and I haven’t heard of any other company cutting wages.

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I was thinking maybe I could get a raise and look what I got. (Hardy Har Har)

I am enclosing the receipt for your check to Rodenfels so I hope everything is O.K. By the way how does the radio work? Are you able to pick up WLW? I imagine Dad listens to Peter Grant if you are able to get WLW.*

I’m just about out of news so till next time, I’ll close for now.
Love H.O. & ruth.

P.S. We have the birch wood in the fire place & basket and it’s so pretty we don’t want to burn it.

P.S.S. Ruth & I enjoyed Dads letter, why don’t you take turns writing now that you’re started that way. Good idea, yes.

* Peter Grant had many fans who listened to Cincinnati Radio WLW and later, watched him on TV on WLWT. Peter was a staple on WLW for years! He was also a regular on the Ruth Lyons show, and loved by viewers of all ages.

Nurse John

Myrtle (Hamm) John’s nursing graduation picture 1927. Medford, Wisconsin.

I was doing some more newspaper research recently, (have I ever mentioned that I love newspaper research), and I found a couple of interesting ads in the Gillett Times newspaper:

Thursday, February 2, 1933
Want Ads
REGISTERED GRADUATE NURSE
Eight years experience.
Very reasonable rates.
Mrs. C. F. John, R.N.

Then another, slightly different, ad a few months later:

Thursday, April 27, 1933
Want Ads
Mrs. C. F. John, R.N. For Professional Services,$3.
Day or night.

At this time Clarence and Myrtle had no children, (their first wasn’t to be born until 1934), so no doubt Myrtle was bored to death sitting at home with nothing to do, except wait for Clarence to get home from work. Heck, I got bored just writing that sentence!

Of course, I have no idea if she got any work that way. I’m hoping something came up for her sake. But then, by November of that year she was pregnant, and waiting to welcome their first bundle of joy, who was born mid-summer of the next year. Her focus was now raising kids.

She got back into nursing after Clarence died in the 1950s. After all she was alone now and had to support herself. No more ads though.