Unusual request?

My great great grandfather’s uncle, Asa Lyon Hatch, was one of the men in the boating incident I posted a few weeks earlier. As mentioned he survived that accident, with possibly just the loss of his dignity, and went on to live a few more decades. Sadly, due to bad luck, or crappy karma, neither of his two wives, or only child, survived him when he died in 1895.

I don’t know why, maybe it was just a slow day, but for no particular reason I started to do a very cursory background check on Asa. In the process of this search I learned that Asa was a very well-to-do merchant, who had lived in Rhode Island, Vermont, New York City, Kentucky, and who knows where else.

And then I found his will which he made in 1892, and I’m not really sure why, but I started reading it.

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Found at FindaGrave. The text is extremely difficult to almost impossible to read.

Estate of Asa Lyon Hatch
My Last Will!

In the name of God! Spirit of all things I Asa Lyon Hatch do make and declare this to be my last Will and Testament.

First. After my Spirit has passed to the World of Spirits, I request that my body be clothed in garments of pure white, as I have heretofore stated.

I wish my remains to be placed in a casket of clear white; not expensive.

Second. I desire my body placed in my grounds in the Cemetery in the Town of Grand Isle, State of Vermont. Have the grave dug North and South with the head to the north with the foot of my wife’s Elizabeth grave, on the west, and that of my wife’s Frances, on the North.

I desire to have placed at the head of my grave, a White Marble Head Stone similar to those placed at the head of my two wife’s, with the following words plainly and clearly cut on the same, with the name, cut in a square, raised letter the same as those of my two Wives

“I am the last of those called Mine:
“My resurrection morn; was, when spirit and body parted;
“I have left to join my Loved Ones;
“To spend with them – a Life Eternal!
“Earth Fare The Well!
         Asa Lyon Hatch

Third. I would name and appoint my brothers Henry R. Hatch and Arthur E. Hatch, both residents of Cleveland, of the State of Ohio, to be my Executors. And request that no bonds be required, of them.

It is my wish, that my friends Aldridge B. Gardiner of Providence, Rhode Island may carry out my wishes, as to the distribution of the small effect that I have left in the City of Providence, R.I.; a memorandum of which, I have left with this will.

Fourth. I give and bequeath, all my Real Estate and personal property, not designated in above memorandum to my two brothers Henry R. Hatch and Arthur E. Hatch; Share and share alike.

Fifth. I request that my Executors, shall set aside the sum of Five Hundred Dollars in cash, to be invested in the Bonds of the Town of Grand Isle Vermont; or of those of the County of Grand Isle; or of the State of Vermont; which shall be perfectly safe, praying an income that shall prove requisitor to carry out my wishes, as herein expressed.

Sixth. It is my wish that the sum of Five Hundred Dollars, may never be allowed to fall below the amount specified, and the income from which shall be used, to keep my grounds, or burial plat clean and free from grass or weeds; also the Marble Coping and Head Stones in place and in order.

Should any of the income remain after being as above applied I request that such of the remainder be used, as may be deemed necessary to keep clean and free from grass, the graves of my Father, my Mother and those of my Brothers and Sisters, as well as those of my Grandfather and GrandMother Lyon, and that of my Uncle Sewell [sic, should be Newell] Lyon.

Seventh. I have made and signed an order or Draft to the order of Mrs. Emma Hewett Taft, now of Providence, R.I for the sum of Five Hundred Dollars, to be paid to her to compensate her for the care and kindness shown me whilst sick, and feeble and I request that my executors have that order or draft honored and protected out of my estate.

Eighth. I request that my executors will see that my funeral expenses are paid as soon as after my decease as possible out of my estate.

In testimony whereof. I the said Asa Lyon Hatch, have to this my last will and testament contained on one sheet of paper, subscribed my name and affixed my seal this ninth day of April Eighteen hundred and ninety two.

Asa Lyon Hatch L.S. [seal]

He actually added a codicil in 1895 giving his caretaker Mrs. Taft another $1000. Only two of his siblings were still alive when he died, the two brother’s mentioned in the will.

I found the will amusing and sad at the same time. Sad because he had no one left to survive him other than his brothers. But then I had to laugh because he was so very particular about his pure white clothes, pure white casket (apparently he was also cheap), pure white headstone, and the placement of his remains.

Thinking about all that white has images of Col. Sanders constantly popping into my head. Maybe he thought that all that white would better grease the hinges of those pearly gates.

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This is the plot he is buried in with his two wives, Elizabeth and Frances, and only child, daughter Lizzie. Grand Isle, Vermont.

There are no descendants to share his life, show off pictures, or brag about his accomplishments. This will is the only thing of his I have found that gives me a sense of his personality. I know thinking about it in the future will make me smile, maybe you will too. That’s something anyway.

 


Source:
1. Rhode Island, Wills and Probate Records, 1582-1932 for Asa Lyon Hatch; Providence Probate Inventories of Estates, Vol 38-39 pages 12-16, 1894-1896 Ancestry.com image 324-326 of 586.

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Talk about snail mail…

In September of last year I sent a letter to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, Vermont regarding a marriage between a Samuel Johnson and Elizabeth Fox. The reason for the request was I wanted to find out if this Samuel was a brother of Almyra Johnson Brooks.

Well, nine months later I finally got a response. Samuel Johnson was the son of John Johnson and Margaret Fing. So, no he is not Almyra’s brother. Now he has been relegated to a possible cousin.

Great, this means I have to add another line of research to my Johnson quest, hopefully it won’t lead to another brick wall.

Crazy Esther…

Bedlam

Esther Newell was dealt a double whammy in the world of history and genealogy. She was a women and she was crazy. Both of these issues made her doubly sure of not being relevant when it came to her descendants.

One can tell how irrelevant she was by the dismissive mentions made of her in biographies about her husband, Asa Lyon.

Esther was from Charlotte, Chittendon County, Vermont. She is said to have been born about 1762, although I have found no records that confirm this yet. She was the daughter of Rev. Abel Newell (a 1751 Yale graduate) and Abigail Smith (daughter of John Smith).1 She married Asa Lyon in 1796. They probably met in South Hero, Vermont, as he was employed there by 1794.

Asa was a 1790 Dartmouth graduate. He spent many years as a pastor of the Congregational Church in South Hero. Among his other accomplishments he was a member of Congress from 1815-1817 and served 13 years in the Vermont Legislature. He was also a Judge of Grand Isle County. Apparently he was regarded by many of his peers as one of the most talented men in the State.2

I have found many mentions of him in various books published about the history of Vermont and South Hero.  A great many accolades are heaped on him, but the only thing ever mentioned about his wife Esther, who birthed his children, is she was crazy.

In researching the history of the insane in the later 1700s to early 1800s, I found out that there were only two institutions built around that time period in America, one in Virginia the other in New England. But from what I have been able to glean from various published biographies, Asa kept his wife at home in his own care. There weren’t really any other options at the time. And even if he could put her in an insane asylum, she wouldn’t have been any better off. The treatment of the insane was pretty barbaric at the time. The reason for the institutions in the first place, was merely a place to put the crazy people who were dangerous, so they wouldn’t interfere with the ‘sane’ people out in the world. Those deemed insane, but harmless, were left to their own devices. They ended up beggars, the homeless of their time.

So poor Esther is treated with distain. It wasn’t like she had any choice in the matter when it came to being crazy, and we have no idea what kind of crazy she was. But she has been pretty much ignored even by those researching the Lyon family. Meanwhile her husband has had accolades piled on him by his peers, I am sure they were reasonable. Although one does get tired of the poor suffering husband routine. After all I do believe the vows were, ‘until death do us part’. He was merely doing his duty.

I have to say that for me it is refreshing to have an ancestress who is a bit more interesting than the run of the mill housewife, which is 100% of the lot. I greatly wish more of them had broken out of the mould, even a little bit.  Although I guess when I think about it, maybe they didn’t write a great novel or march for suffrage, but they did travel great distances across this country through the wilderness and help to carve out lives for their family. They crossed oceans in small ships leaving all they knew behind, in some cases not even speaking the language of the country they moved to, and suffered hardships beyond my comprehension or experience.

I guess more of them must have been just a little bit crazy.

1 New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making
of Commonwealths and the Founding of a Nation, Volume 1: p300

2 Bibliography of Vermont, p157

A little corner shop

Brooks’ former store, King Street is the one going off to the left in the picture, Pine Street is the one going off to the right.

Sometime around 1855 Almira and John Brooks headed on over to Burlington, Vermont to live. At this time I am not sure exactly when the Brooks started their store in Burlington, but I do know that by 1868 they were living and working at this address which was called ‘corner of King and Pine’ it didn’t have an exact address until sometime between 1872-1882. In this picture it is currently clad in hideous vinyl. It would be nice to see it in its original dress. According to records in 1890 Almira is the owner of the building, and John is still alive. He didn’t pass until 1898. So now the question is why is she the owner of the building and not both of them. Hmmm. Inheritance? She also owed the building next door at 176/178 Pine Street. Which I believe they lived in or used as a home at one time  or another.

The Historic Burlington: University of Vermont website describes the house as:

“This 2 1/2 story, wood frame building, which is clad in vinyl siding and has a pyramidal, slate-clad roof and a 2-story octagonal oriel on its northwest corner, was probably built between 1877 and 1886, although it may be of an earlier date.”

The family actually lived at 79/81 King Street for a year or two, according to city directories. Which is part of the building, see the door off towards the left with the small awning. According to the Historic Burlington: University of Vermont website a birdseye view of Burlington in 1877, apparently, clearly shows no buildings at that location, and the ‘massing’ of the 79/81 King Street building make it doubtful that is was built in the 1860s. I am not sure what we can say about that other than land records would likely clear the matter up along with tax rolls. The address would be considered 174 Pine Street if one numbered it from that side of the streets.

The building was used as a commercial business for a large portion of its life, the lower part being used as a shop of some kind or other, the top being used as apartment rentals. It wasn’t until sometime after the 1970s that the bottom was boarded up.

You can still see the building using google street view. Not very pretty, but it is one of the few remaining older buildings in the town.

I even have an update.

In looking over the website mentioned above, I found two plat maps that have the home listed on them. Which is curious because according to the University’s research the building isn’t there in the 1877 birdseye view map. That may be so, but it shows up on these two:

This plat is from 1853. The family is probably not living here at the time, but as you can see the building is there on the corner of King and Pine.

This map is from 1869. The family is definitely there now, as can be plainly seen by the J. Brooks entry on the map.

The building as it looked in 1933 just barely in the picture on the left edge of image.

Who doesn’t like a famous tavern

While we can revel in the actions of William Shepard during the Revolutionary War, he is not the only ancestor of ours who played a major part in our freedom from British rule. There are quite a few of these ancestors on our Shaw side of the family. Today I am going to talk about Captain Stephen Fay my 7x great grandfather.

The Fay family was originally from Hardwick, Massachusetts. In 1766 they removed to Bennington, Vermont where Stephen, and his wife Ruth (Child), purchased a hostelry/tavern, Green Mountain House, in a town that was currently at the heart of political action in Vermont.

Green Mountain House, more famously known as the Catamount Tavern. (Image found on Wikipedia.)

The tavern also became known as the ‘Catamount Tavern’ because of the stuffed ‘catamount’ (a type of wild cat), that was mounted on the signpost. The teeth of which were bared in the direction of the state of New York. This teeth baring symbol expressed his sentiments regarding New York’s attempts to take over land in Vermont. One of their neighbors was Ethan Allen. Ethan and his Green Mountain Boys used the tavern as the meeting place to plan their opposition to the ‘Yorkers’ who were coming to the area and setting up homesteads. Stephen Fay and his son Jonas were appointed the official agents of the New Hampshire claimants who opposed New York’s highhanded actions. They headed to New York to meet with the Governor and try to settle matters.

The ‘Council of Safety’ which was responsible for the citizens well being during the Revolutionary War met many a night here. This was where they planned and carried out the successful battle of Bennington on the 16th of August 1777. A victory which resulted in British General Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga.

Stephen and Ruth had 10 children some went on to become famous others not so much. It must have been quite a time to see.

Stephen passed way in 1781, Ruth died in 1833.

Is there a Doctor in the house…

In the past month or so, I posted a few pictures I found on Ancestry’s site that were uploaded by users. They were of Franklin Robinson and his wife Susan Landon, both of Grand Isle, Vermont. Well I have never done any research on Franklin, and I don’t have any excuse or reason for that, it just never happened.

So over the holidays, and my lovely two weeks off, I decided to focus on researching Franklin’s side of the family. In my records the information I had on Franklin was from over 10 years ago and mostly gleaned from our cousin who put together the Shaw family book. Not much was said about Franklin, just his parents being listed as Abijah Hall and Beulah H. Billings.
My first thought was why on earth is his father listed as HALL when he is a ROBINSON. I have to admit that is was probably just an error in data entry on someone’s part and as I was just entering the data mindlessly, I didn’t really analyze it at the time.
I do know that Beulah married Abijah in 1796 when Franklin was about 4-5 years of age and he wasn’t adopted by Abijah because he went by ROBINSON his whole life. Local histories indicate he was a descendant of the Robinson’s of Bennington County, Vermont, but there are, as of yet, no records that tell just which ROBINSON that was. So, for now, his father is still a mystery.
His mother on the other hand was the daughter of a BILLINGS and a FAY, and there was much information on her and her family to be found online and in books. And it is through the FAY line that we run into Richard PALGRAVE (apparently an official descendant of Charlemagne, but that’s not important now).
Richard was born about 1593. He arrived in Charletown by 1629, which we know because his signature on a document signed by all the inhabitants of the town at that time is quite clear, it shows up third in the list:

Signature of Richard Palgrave

He is the first doctor I have come across in my research on our ancestors and will probably be the only one. The author George A. Moriarty wrote that “[h]e was a quiet man who minded his own business, got into no trouble, and buried himself in his profession.” According to his inventory of property after his death in 1651 he was worth £313, which made him well to do. The quality of his signature also indicates a good education.

His daughter Mary married Roger WELLINGTON. Their granddaughter married into the FAY family.
Richard’s other claim to fame is also being the ancestor of the Bushes. Our second link as cousins – shudder.

Say Cheese…

Ancestry.com lets folks who are members upload their family pictures. Which is wonderful for those distant cousins who don’t have those images in their family’s collections. Strangely, many, not all, of those same people have a bizarre notion of ownership of these same images – well the ones that are very old anyway.

I am not one of those people. I have uploaded every image of our ancestors that our family has in our possession to flickr for anyone to view and download for themselves, all high quality and large. These images are not for hoarding in our closet. After all genealogy is about sharing.

The two images you see below I found at Ancestry. They are said to be of our ancestors Franklin Robinson and Susan Landon Robinson, their daughter Olive Robinson married Oscar Ebenezer Hatch.

Susan Landon married Franklin Robinson September 16, 1817  in South Hero, Grand Isle County, Vermont. This image was probably taken not long before her death in 1862. Franklin died in 1885.

Directories are the new census…

There are some names in genealogical research that are hair-pulling nightmares. Johnson is one of them. As is Smith, John, Brooks all of which we are blessed with. In this case I am researching Almyra Johnson, who married John Brooks, and her parents Samuel and Catherine in Albany, New York.

I have had no luck whatsoever in finding any of Almyra’s family in Albany County. I have tried many databases in some cases many times over, and had zero luck over the years. So I decided to try a new tact. Directories.

My first thought in my new line of research was why did the Brooks family move to Vermont in the 1850s. What was the draw? Did Almyra have family there? So I proceeded to check the Albany directories first just in case Samuel and Catherine show up. Needless to say it was a fruitless endeavor, as I can’t tell if any Samuel or Catherine listed is actually related to Almyra because none of the addresses appeared to clear the matter up. So I moved my efforts to Burlington, Vermont directories.

As I have already done the research on the Brooks in the directories in Vermont, I was comparing any Johnsons found to the same address or close. I hit pay dirt. I found a Samuel Johnson living at the same address as Almyra and John. A check of the census records about the same time period told me that this was most likely a brother of Almyras, due to his age in the census record. Samuel, jr worked with the railroad in town and there are a couple of other Johnsons working at the same railroad company living in Burlington, but at different addresses. Most likely all related. I have not found her parents yet, but the research is still young and I don’t have access to some of the records I need to continue with the leads. Just another item to put on the SLC research list.

I continued to research Samuel and his family in the hopes of finding something else of interest or a more tangible link, but so far nothing has turned up. It appears that he moved his family to Springfield, Massachusetts. Just a few miles down the road from our Shepard ancestors. They pretty much stayed there until they died.

It was a nice feeling to finally find some family for Almyra, hopefully future research will complete the picture for her.