Visiting Old Acquaintances

Dale and Caesar on the blanket getting a little shade.

Well, maybe not acquaintances. After all my 3x great grandparents haven’t actually ever met me. But it was the thought that counts. Right?

We had beautiful weather on Saturday this last weekend, so the old man and I decided to take a short trip to Chilton, Wisconsin and visit Dennis and Winifred Connelly’s burial place at St. Augustine’s Cemetery. And as long as we were there we would have a picnic.

It was also our new puppy Caesar’s first trip away from home. He did pretty well, just one tummy upset. Thankfully he hadn’t eaten much breakfast.

This is the first time we have actually been out and about since March. I chose a place where no one would think to be on this lovely day, and I was right. Although, we did have a small scare-apparently the groundskeepers decided that it was a good day to mow and weed wack the cemetery. Lucky for us they were just finishing up when we got there. We even fixed some of the grave decorations that they had mowed into and broken or mangled. Very careless of them.

With all the goings on in the world right now it felt good to have a chance to take a deep and cleansing breath.

Lunch was good, the weather was good, the company was good. I guess you could say it was a good day.

Dennis and Winifred (Nolan) Connelly’s headstone. My Irish 3x great grandparents who came to this country because of a horrible famine that killed millions and devastated their own county.

Hiatus

This Corona Virus has put a crimp in my research, my time, among other things. So I will not be posting any new articles for a while.

Too many more important things to take care of right now.

Everyone stay healthy!

January 24, 1960 Letter Herman To His Parents

Worthington Ohio
January 24, 1960

Dear Egg Head and Dad: –
It has warmed up a bit here today, it’s up to 20°. Most of the time the temperature has been around  have had some 20° temperature. I hope it don’t damaged the fruit as it hurts when it hits those groves down there, and to think of all the money they lose. That’s when it hurts most, when it hits the old pocketbook. And of course later we will be paying more up here due to the scarcity of fruit. The cold weather up here hurts us but only our feelings.

That sore throat I had last time I wrote you developed into a real dandy cold, I was off work from Tuesday evening on, although I’m hoping to go back tomorrow.

Ruth and I went to our O.E.S. School of instruction last night the first I’ve been out all week so you see I wasn’t kidding.

We didn’t get up to see Burch this week so I don’t know anymore about him as of now. When Edw. Called last week, or I was writing you, he said

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he was coming down but the stinker never showed up. I hope he comes down before he visit you folks, maybe he can help us decide what to do about Burch. At least I would like for him to talk with Cliff, and see if he draws the same conclusion as Ruth and I, maybe we don’t give the old boy as much credit as we should. That the reason I would like to have someone else’s opinion. I hope we’re wrong about his condition.

We were really proud to hear you were elected assoc. conductress and wish for you all the luck in the world. That means you will be working towards your year from now on, getting ideas and plans together. That’s one installation we won’t miss. To bad Dad can’t be your W. P. Or does your chapter permit husband-and-wife to be W.M. and W.P. together? We had a real nice school last night, our Worthy Grand MatronIs tops, she is surly [surely] an inspiration to all of us. Martha Jane is coming over this afternoon and we are

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going to plan a rehearsal for all our officers before meeting Feb. 10. We are going to have initiatory work that meeting. We have met a lot of people and made a lot of friends in our district and I suppose you are doing the same down there.

We have bought another boat, an 18 foot Thompson with a 60 H. P.  motor, windshield and folding top, etc. It’s a used boat a 57 model and the motor was new last spring. The outfit has had good care and is in good condition, however I want to make a few changes in the back of the boat and refinish it complete. I hope to have it all ready by the time the weather gets good. I’m going to put in the garage down on Morse road which belongs to Steve that works with me at the shop, his garage is large enough to hold it and is is heated so I’ll get a chance to work evenings and weekends from now on. Believe it or not Jack Neff is trying to buy our old boat. I don’t know how he’s going to arrange it but he’s supposed to give me a deposit on it tomorrow

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I told him I would have the full amount in 90 days as that is when I have to have ours paid for. I’ve asked Jack $500 for our old boat, motor and trailer etc. I’m getting this new outfit for $1500 so that will leave me some to finance at the bank. Tell dad he won’t have to worry about getting a “ducking” in this outfit. Ruth said “she’s had it”. We hope to buy an inboard, but they are too rich for my blood, maybe someday in the future on the inboard. We looked at one in good condition (new last year) and the price was $3000 so that’s the reason we are settling for an outboard. which leads me to a proposition I would like to make you and dad. I still want to buy the lot in Canada but can’t do everything I want to at once. I feel the larger boat is a necessity for Lake Erie,that’s the reason I’m going ahead with it. Would you and dad buy that lot for us and I’ll pay you

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back with interest same as at the bank. Think it over and if it’s O. K. we can do it next summer when we’re all in Canada. If you don’t want to there won’t be any hard feelings on our part. I could pay cash for the boat and lot if we would cash our stocks in, but I wouldn’t be able to buy them back it’s such a good price as I bought those at, also I would have to pay a 25% capital gain tax if I cash them in now. Just an idea, Dad said last fall I shouldn’t buy that lot, but I wouldn’t want to see anyone else get it either. If sometime in the future I couldn’t see any possible use for it I could always sell it, maybe at a profit. I don’t think they will decrease in value, do you?

Well I suppose you will say I’ve gone completely off my rocker

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and justly so. – We’ve had our supper now, Martha has been here and gone and we are going to have our rehearsal Fri. eve 5th of Feb. I’ve also made a batch of peanut brittle and it’s 10:30 PM still feel like I’ll go to work tomorrow if we don’t have any snow. So far we’ve only had a trace of snow from the recent cold spell.

Love
Ruth and H. O.

p.s. How is real estate prices holding down there?

October 26, 1957 Letter W.A.S. To Dick Shepard

I believe this is a letter written by William Shepard, Sr, to his wife Dick. He must have had an operation in Ohio while Dick was still in Florida, or up north in Canada? For a guy who use to be a teacher his grammar is not so good!

Columbus Ohio
Sat. Oct. 26-1957

Re’cd your note of Wed., about 1 pm today.
It is now 2:45 PM I am listening to State &
Wisconsin game and write you as I hear the
game. The weather here has been cool for the
last few days I think it was 35 this am

I have been taking walks almost everyday
and enjoy them very much.

I have no information as to when I may be
able to get out of here. The Dr. has made
no mention as to when I will get the xray
I will mention it to him Monday A.M.
I will advise you as to any information
the Dr. gives me. I think I am
doing very well and hope to be out
of here soon.

Dick when you come back north I
would like you bring me wool hat
and overcoat.

I will not write you too often as
you know I hate to write letters it
also makes me feel nervous
I am sending a clipping from the
paper you remember the Edministes.
Well the ball game is over State
wone 16 to 13 not too good a game
supper is over I was all
ready to take a walk but will


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not, because of light rain falling.

The paper predicts light snow maby.
for tonight

Dick you take your time about coming
home see too all business as we may
not be able get back down there for
some time.

I had a note from Alan David and
Sue Sue was secretary for Alan
I would love to see the family (Bills)
Sunday 12:30PM.

Dick I will close this short letter I
expect H.O. & Ruth to come soon. I will
have them mail this so you may get
it Tues.

The weather is gloomy today with
ocassional bits of snow. In the air
Will try and drop you a short
note Weds. evening.

With love, W.A.S.

A Year Ends, Another Begins

Better enjoy 2020, cause we might not have many more new years to celebrate, what with the end of the world coming soon.

On that note — to round out this year of research I thought I would share a couple of fun facts.

Thanks to my current holiday vacation, I have been able to spend a little more time doing clean up and data collection on my Dutch ancestors in my Dad’s line. This would be the Roosa/Rosa line. During this research, a couple of interesting items have came to light.

One of the surnames that can be found in our Rosa line is ‘van der Kerr’. Seen variously as Van Der Karr/Kerre/Karre, etc. This line became part of ours in 1753, when Annette Becker married Gerrit Rosa in Albany, New York. Annette’s mother was a van der Kerr, who was a daughter of Dirk van der Kerr, the immigrant.

In my quest to try and find out more about the van der Kerrs, I ran into the following post on a forum:

Does anyone have information on members of the Scottish Carr (Kerr) family living in the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries? An early American ancestor of mine, Dirk van der Kerr, was always presumed Dutch — he had a Dutch wife and lived in the Dutch colony in New York in the mid 1600s. But recent DNA tests show matches with the Scottish Carr (Kerr) family. Looks like some of the Carrs left Scotland for Holland.

https://www.ancestry.com/boards/localities.weurope.netherlands.general/18803/mb.ashx?pnt=1  Message Boards > Localities > Western Europe > Netherlands > General > Carr (Kerr) Family in the Netherlands. drheldridge Posted: 13 Sep 2014 04:23PM. 

So Dad, it looks like you have a little Scottish in you too!

The other interesting item I can share regards my research on the van Boerums. I was looking over my data for Jan Roosa and his wife Hillegont van Barren who were married about 1670 in Albany, and came to find out that her surname was actually ‘van Boerum’. Hillegont’s family arrived in New Netherlands in 1649, when William van Boerum and his wife Greitje van Gogh, along with a couple of kids, stepped foot in New Amsterdam. If you missed it, the interesting bit is his wife’s surname:

Goch (Gogh) is a town in Germany next to the Dutch border…However, this area was part of the Netherlands province of Gelderland until 1715… the painter Vincent Van Gogh’s surname derives from the same place.

It looks like Vincent just might be a cousin.

Have a great year! Don’t worry I’ll still be posting.

[No Date] Letter Herman Shepard to his parents

No year on this.

Worthington Ohio
Sunday Eve. Dec. 4th

Dear Dick and Dad:–
Looks like we had your trip
planned just right. The weather
here has been “stinkin” ever since
we got home. Thursday night
was a “dilley”. I went to the
Foremans Club dinner meeting
as the Fair Grounds and when I
started for home we had about
5 inches of snow on the ground
and winds up to 20-25 M.P.H.
I don’t think they got the snow plows
out till after midnight. I’m
glad it stopped snowing because
it wasn’t as bad as I
expected the next morning.

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Everything wasn’t bad that
night, I won a gift certificate
good for a 20 lbs turkey at Big
Bear Stores
for Christmas. Looks
like we will have enough turkey for
the gang. Also Lester at Quality Bakery
gave me a case of assorted pies,
and Rodenfels paid me my
regular wages while I was off.
Now what do you think about that?
I’ll be sending you a refund one
of these days.

I’m glad everything worked out
for the good and we enjoyed the trip
Sure hated to leave that nice weather.
I put the fruit out in the garage
but had to bring it in to keep
it from freezing as the temperature

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dropped down to 3 degrees above zero for two
nights. I’ll be giving some of the
fruit away because it will not
keep in the basement. We took
a basket out to Krings and they
can divide it among the kids.
I gave Lucile some of the kum
quats although she wasn’t home
to receive them. She ws into the
hospital with her mother, Ralph
says she can’t last much longer.

That’s about all the news for
now, except we had Kernal
Sander Chicken
and Livers for
supper last night couldn’t
hilp but think of you.

Love H.O. & Ruth.

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]

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.

A Silver Jubilee

Above is the newspaper notice of the ’25 years married’ celebration of my 3x great grandparents, Oscar Ebenezer Hatch, and Olive B[uelah?] Robinson. With the added wonderful addition of their son’s recent marriage celebration, as Dillon Franklin Hatch and Almyra Brooks were married only two days earlier.

The celebration was on the 21st of February, but not in the papers until about 3 weeks later. It all happened in Grand Isle, Grand Isle County, Vermont.

April 30, 1955 William Shepard To Parents

30 April 55

Dear Dick & Dad:

Ill answer your letter because soon at Craig, Ill be too busy – and I do want to thank you for sending on the Guns.- We received the next letter too – telling about disregarding the telephone bill.

I called Herman the other evening to tell him to bring me a new 25 H.P. Our Johnson is running fine but remote controls dont work so well on it. And the whole family has been water skiing. It takes a real good motor.

I suppose that you have finished fixing the boat by now,

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and are ready to go north. I think Herman & Ruth are coming down in June. It will be hot, but not so much as July & August.

Went fishing today I we caught a flounder & a sea bass – had them for dinner tonite and they were good. We also caught about 20 hard tails – a fish like a mackerel. Only the fight harder than a bass. They weigh about 1 1/2 pounds.

When you come down this fall it will be fine weather and good fishing too. Well, Ill close now.- See you later

Love bill