Lois has probably kept you advised of all the news- so Ill confine my letter to our plans for this summer. -Our plans are subject to your wishes so let us know if anything conflicts with your schedule.
We will leave here July 5th and drive directly to Thessalon, taking ten to twelve days and stopping at Couer d’Lane, Idaho- Yellowstone Nat Park, Grand Teton Nat Park, Mt. Rushmore Nat Park and across Wisconsin, to the straits and to Thessalon. We will spend the last two weeks in July with you in Canada & then visit with Lois folks in Westerville for several weeks, then go to Montgomery.
I have written Herman & Ruth. I suggested that they try to be in Canada
[page 2] with us if they could. it would be nice to have the family together again. There will be no shortage of sleeping space. we are bringing six sleeping bags and air matress!
We bought a camping outfit-tent-stove & the works. We plan to camp all the way aross the U.S. We will carry it in the boat with Bonnie and the motor.
The way you can tell when we get there is by the green boat coming across the bay with six dirty characters in it. We may stop to wash up before we get there! We plan to arrive in Canada 15 to 17 July.
Please let us know if this is OK. We look forward to seeing all of you.
Because I know people, it’s always good to know people, I was able to see HAMILTON when it breezed through my neck of the woods. And I was able to get excellent seats. It was fantastic. Although, there is so much going on on stage that you can’t see it just once.
And after having seen the show I feel even more of a connection to history when I read things like this:
To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton, 15 November 1777
Peeks Kill [N.Y.] November 15. 1777. Mr Kennedy’s house.
I arrived at this place last night and unfortunately find myself unable to proceed any further. Imagining I had gotten the better of my complaints while confined at Governor Clinton’s & anxious to be about, attending to the march of the troops, the day before yesterday I crossed the ferry in order to fall in with General Glover’s brigade which was on its march from Poughkepsie to Fish Kill. I did not however see it myself but received a letter from Col. Shepherd, who commands the Brigade informing me he would be last night at Fish Kill and this night at Kings Ferry.3 Waggons &c. are provided on the other side for his accomodation, so that there need be no delay but what is voluntary; and I beleive Col. Shepherd is as well disposed as could be wished to hasten his march. General Poors Brigade crossed the ferry the day before yesterday. Two york regiments Cortlandts & Livingstons are with them. they were unwilling to be separated from the Brigade and the Brigade from them. General Putnam was unwilling to keep them with him, and if he had consented to do it, the regiments to replace them would not join you six days as soon as these. The troops now remaining with General Putnam will amount to about the number you intended, though they are not exactly the same. He has detached Col. Charles Webbs regiment to you. He says the troops with him are not in a condition to march being destitute of Shoes stockings and other necessaries; but I beleive the true reasons of his being unwilling to persue the mode pointed out by you were his aversion to the york troops, and his desire to retain General Parsons with him. I am with much respect & esteem Yr Excellys Most Obedt servt
A. Hamilton ALS, DLC:GW.
3. Col. William Shepard’s letter to Hamilton has not been identified.
This is a letter that Alexander Hamilton is writing to George Washington, talking about my great grandfather William Shepard. And my great grandfather, Col. William Shepard, was writing to both of these historical figures.
Awesome! History can sometimes be so cool.
P.S. I celebrate giving thanks on this day, not the genocide of the Indigenous Peoples of this continent.
There is nothing new to learn regarding Amund Amundson’s immigration to the United States from Norway. I know everything regarding the bold facts. The only thing missing was the actual passengers’ list. The only reason I bring this up, is that I finally decided to find out more about Amund’s trip to America and thought I would share.
Amund Amundson turned 19 three days before he boarded the ‘Frigate Bird’ in Bergen on April 23, 1871, with no other family, although it is possible he traveled with others from the same area. He was heading to Minnesota via Quebec, Canada.
The trip took a little over a month, as the ship arrived in Quebec on the 31st of May, but, because 11 passengers had measles, they were not allowed to disembark until the 4th of June. Although, on arrival at Grosse Isle, all emigrant ships were quarantined until they could assure the authorities that they were free of disease.1
I estimate the cost for the trip to have been about $15 US (or about $300 in current money), this doesn’t include the outlying cost of bringing all your own food. The ship’s picture I have inserted above was found at http://www.norwayheritage.com, it is known as a bark. Which describes the type of rigging on the ship that when rigged this way needed fewer crew to get ‘er where she was going. According to historical reference, Amund’s ship was sometimes rigged this way. Which also means that Amund’s trip was definitely not aboard a steamship.
The emigrants in those days had to supply themselves with the necessities of life during the passage and be their own cooks and waiters, families as well as single persons. Several people usually combined their kitchen and food chores and it all occurred, as far as I can recall, without much grumbling or commotion. The only items that were provided without cost by the shipping company were the stove, firewood, and water, as well as fresh air when one stood on deck, though the company did not actually provide the latter. To be sure fresh air was also free below deck, but when so many people had to stay in such a limited space at night and occasionally by day, one may more easily imagine its quality than I can describe it.
Recollections from My Journey to America and My First Years in America, by Halle Steensland2
An interesting tidbit I found when researching more on Amund’s trip was how in 1869 Norway passed a law to better protect passengers from all the scummy company’s trying to exploit them.3
Originally all I had been able to find regarding Amund’s trip was his entry in a database regarding his leaving Norway in 1871. And from this search entry, I have been able to suss out the origins and ancestry of Amund. But I never had an actual passengers list for him.
Okay, so Amund is in Quebec. Now what?
Amund, might have purchased a packaged trip to his final destination, or arranged with the captain, as was one of the customs, to continue on to the United States. So that meant he was now going to board a train, as that was the usual mode of transport when heading to Wisconsin, Minnesota or Iowa. And for those folks going to Minnesota, the usual route was to Milwaukee, and from there the train to Minnesota.
If the emigrant is to continue the trip westward by rail, he will be ferried across the St. Clair River at Sarnia to Port Huron in the state of Michigan… For those emigrants who plan to go by way of Milwaukee, it will be most convenient to change trains in Detroit, Michigan, and go to Grand Haven in the same state. From there they can go by steamer across Lake Michigan to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Those who wish to settle in Wisconsin, Minnesota, or northern Iowa usually choose the Milwaukee route as the most convenient.
John A. Johnson, translated by C. A. Clausen4
Amund possibly went right to Goodhue County in Minnesota, as he is found there in the 1875 state census, already married to Jorgina Johnson, and they had a daughter. But not my great grandmother, yet.
So there you have it. And, if I hadn’t known the ship’s name, it might have been a lot trickier to find this little gem. Now I have to work on finding Jorgina’s arrival.
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.
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.
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.
It looks like this particular Connelly Catholic couple took their biblical mandate quite seriously.
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.
The only Patrick that comes close to Connelly in the Wisconsin 14th Infantry regiment is this one:
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.
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
page 2 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.
page3 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.
page 4 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
page 5 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.
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 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.]
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Hoosac Valley: its legends and its history, by Niles, Grace Greylock. Published 1912, New York : G.P. Putnam’s Sons. p224 [Archive.org]
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]
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 inBellingham, Massachusetts and later the unit mustered at Worcester under the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment, commanded byColonel William Shepard.
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.