In March of 1889 Frank Cross, my notorious cousin of past posts, found himself in trouble. Surprise! Not.
In this case we find him in the newspaper under court goings on. Whatever could he have done now?:
Circuit Court — Justice French’s Court.
People vs. Frank Cross, larceny of an axe on complaint of Elihu B. Averill, pleaded guilty on the 11th and sentenced to pay a fine of $5.00 and in default of payment to ten days in jail. The fine was not paid and commitment was issued today.1
So Frank, being short of blunt, or just cheap, thought that he would pass on paying his fine. The court had no problem having him picked up and sent to the hoosegow in lieu of payment. A day or two later this notice appeared in the newspaper:
Frank Cross tired of prison life and went before Justice French and paid up his fine after a few hours in the jail.2
Now that’s a knee slapper! Maybe he didn’t realize how hard it would be to get a drink in jail.
The Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, Thu Feb 28, 1889, page 7, col 3
The Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, Fri Mar 1, 1889, page 7, col 1
I have been doing a lot of intermittent research on the Cross line on my Dad’s side of the family. Along with other Cross researchers, (some of whom are quite surly and rude), I have been trying to find that magical document that connects my Clarissa Cross to her probable mother Serviah (Warner) Cross. No luck so far.
During this search I have been gathering any documents I can find on the surname. In particular I have been focused on Sophia (Rosa) Cross, the eldest sister of my 3x great grandfather Abram Rosa.
Like her father Garrett Rosa, Sophia also married a Cross, Amandor Mandrick Cross to be exact. He is believed to have been her uncle, her mother’s brother. (And with the reputation this family has, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.)
So, while I haven’t found that ‘holy grail’ document, I thought I might share a bit about what I have learned about herself, and her sons George H. and Daniel Wellington Cross, from their Civil War pension application files. Both boys were Union soldiers.
Daniel Wellington Cross
If you will recall, not too long ago I had some interesting research results to share about Daniel regarding his foray into larceny and his stint in prison. All of which happened after he served, pretty much the duration, of the Civil War in Co. I of the 17th Michigan infantry, and later, in Co. C of the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters.
Daniel was only in his first unit for about 6 months, about half of which time he was in the hospital ill. So, in February of 1863 the military discharged him due to this illness.
In April of that same year he signed up again, this time with the Sharpshooters. Unfortunately, I could find no record of his time in this unit, other than he was mustered out at the end of the war on the 28th of July 1865. After looking at the regiment’s timeline during the war I found that Daniel’s unit was involved in several battles that would put him in the same area as my great great grandfather FW John: Weldon Railroad, the mine explosion in Petersburg. Maybe they ran into each other. I hope gramps checked his pockets afterward if they did! If you are interested in a little bit of the regiments history there are a couple of links below you can check out.
We know next to nothing about Daniel’s personal experience in the Civil War, except regarding his health. Thanks to his pension record we know that while serving guard duty at Camp Douglas in Illinois on New Year’s eve 1863/4, his feet were frozen to such a degree that he most likely experienced frostbite. This incident affected his feet for the rest of his life. Below is his mother Sophia’s testimony and a friend or neighbor Darius ____ regarding the matter.
Although Daniel had been married for a short time, (they divorced), there were no children from the marriage, so Daniel died in 1918 without issue.
An interesting note regarding Daniel’s service, he was most likely only 16 or 17 when he signed up in 1862. Maybe his enthusiasm for battle had him running away and lying about his age. There is nothing in the pension papers that gives any sense of Sophia’s feelings regarding the matter, but she must have been frantic with worry with her two eldest sons off to war.
George H.Cross George was born about 1840 in Michgan. The eldest of the Cross boys he has the dubious honor of having died during the war after contracting an illness. Although he did die at home while on leave. According to my quick research, dysentary was the leading cause of death of 2/3rds of the men during the Civil War, and it is most likely that this was the cause of George’s demise. He had also contracted measles earlier in the war but apparently survived that.
Like his brother Daniel, George was also in the war for pretty much the duration. Although he was sick throughout much of his service. He enlisted in Co. I of the 1st Michigan Cavalry and was later tranferred to Co B. When he enlisted he signed with his mark as he was unable to even write his name.
This particular unit was under the command of General Custer and was known as the Michigan Calvary Brigade, Wolverines or Custer’s Brigade. They fought in every major campaign of the Army of the Potomac from the Battle of Gettysburg to the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House in 1865. George was unable to be there for the surrender as he had died at home in February of that year. (See below several links regarding some history of this regiment.)
George’s illness made for some interesting reading in his pension record as he was arrested earlier in the war for desertion, an accusation which was later rescinded. He hadn’t informed his superior that an illness prevented his returning to his company after his furlough was over.
George had been captured at Berryville, Virginia in August/September of 1864. His service record indicates that he was confined at Richmond, Virginia, which would mean he was most likely at Libby Prison. Another of those nasty hell-holes they called a prison during the war. By December he had been paroled and was back with his unit. It was shortly thereafter that he was transferred to Co B.
Much of George’s time in the Civil War was spent being ill. The time he spent in a confederate prison made his health worse, a situation which eventually contributed to his death in February of 1865. Like his brother Daniel, George died single and without any issue. But least Daniel had had a chance to make a life for himself, even if the choices he made were very poor ones.
Sophia Rosa Cross
George’s mother Sophia was the person who applied for a pension under her son’s name. She was alone and in need of support. She had been widowed in 1866, her drunkard of a husband, Amander, having died. Below is a statement from George’s pension regarding Amander’s weakness in this regard:
It appears that Amander put little effort into making the farm they owned a viable resource for providing for the family. He had probably been too busy getting drunk.
So. He died in 1866. Sophia’s eldest son died during the war. Daniel was a thief and ex-con, and lazy Frank wasn’t much better. After Amander died Sophia ended up having to sell her land and everything on it to pay the mortgages that were owed on the property. As that only paid the debts, she hired herself out to clean houses and the like to make money to live on. All told, she was in desperate straights. Thankfully, the pension board saw fit to provide a small pension for Sophia. It was nothing to get rich on, but it help a little.
Sophia died in 1901 at about 85 years of age. She had ended up in a facility for the mentally incompetant and had a guardian; dementia or Alzheimer’s is probably what put her there.
Sophia’s legacy regarding her sons is not a pretty one, they were mostly not good folk. I have my suspicions she had some pretty loose morals herself. After all her favorite brother was Joseph, who had been her son Daniel’s partner in crime, literally, and she had had one of her daughters lie in their pension affidavit about her not having married again, because she had, although the marriage didn’t last.
All-in-all a family of many scoundrels. Makes for interesting reading.
And as for George, (whose illness and poor health during the war contributed to abruptly ending any chance of his having a life), he still died honorably in service to his country. Even Daniel, whose later life choices were usually bad, did at least one good thing in his life by serving his country throughout the war. I respect that.
While my Dad was always hoping that I would find Irish on his side of the family, (yay! I did), I have always wanted to find an accused witch!
And I did! Surprisingly this find wasn’t on Mom’s side of the family, where we have oodles and oodles of New England ancestors, it is on Dad’s side, where we find Clarisy/Clarissa Cross Rosa, the daughter of two New England raised parents and our only English ancestry on Dad’s side of the family.
Massachusetts Bay Governor John Winthrop and Lieutenant Governor Thomas Dudley were granted land along the Concord River in 1638. Located in this grant was an Indian village named Shawshin where in 1652 about a dozen families began to settle, with more families joining them in later years. Of course Shawshin sounded way too foreign for the intolerant settlers so they decided to rename the place Billerica, a much more musical, [yuck, not], and English name.
Rebecca _____ Chamberlain and her husband William, were one of those families that made the move. Rebecca and William resided in Boston for a very short time after they were married, in about 1648, before they settled in Woburn, until about 1652 when they made their final move to the new settlement of Billerica. Over the years of their marriage Rebecca became the mother of thirteen children, twelve of whom reached adulthood and ten of whom had children of their own. This is the little we know about her, (the rest we would have to extrapolate).
In 1692, when Rebecca was in her late 50s to early 60s1, during the Salem witch trial frenzy, Billerica became one of quite a few towns around Salem that soon found many of its citizens accused of practicing witchcraft. Although there is no testimony to such, it is the belief of many that Rebecca Chamberlain is one of those innocent victims of the Salem witch hunts. In the History of Middlesex County, Samuel Adams Drake writes “Rebecca, the wife of William Chamberlain and John Durrant, both of Billerica, died in prison in Cambridge where they were incarcerated for witchcraft.” Rev. Henry Hazen, in the History of Billerica, states that Rebecca Chamberlain “died in prison at Cambridge, 1692, Sept. 26, possibly charged with witchcraft.”2
Others debate on the matter, one website states, “An examination of every paper in the Middlesex county court files from 1670 to 1700 has revealed many witchcraft cases, but nothing relating to Rebecca Chamberlain.” And I am not surprised, because from what I have learned reading a recently published book3 where the author states, “no trace of a single session of the witchcraft court survives.” Everything we know about the event is taken from accounts of the trials, preparatory papers, and two death warrants. Salem village in their enthusiasm to forget ‘it’ ever happened expunged their record books, so there is much documentation missing regarding what happened in those 9 months of crazy. Also, there was no daily paper, or twitter, around at the time to keep folks apprised of the daily goings on in the court room. So the fact that there are no records mentioning Rebecca, and many others who were also accused, but never stood trial, shouldn’t make one disbelieve or really even question. I believe. It is too coincidental that she was in prison at the exact same time all this hysteria was going on, and died there in September.
While I am excited to find that we most likely have an accused witch in the family, I am now imagining how horrible and sad her death must have been. The prisons these people were kept in were a veritable hell, barely maintained by fanatics fighting demons of their own imaginings.4
So, this Halloween I will raise a toast in memory of Rebecca Chamberlain. Accused witch. Innocent vicim.
We don’t know exactly when she was born and can only speculate from her first child’s birth.
The Witches: Salem, 1692, by Stacy Schiff; New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2015, first edition. Excellent read by the way!
ibid. digital edition p123-124 of 536 this is a description of the Boston jail being used for the accused: “The stone facility announced itself from a distance with a stench of refuse and rotting wounds…Visitors did not tarry long…Iron bars covered the open windows; one could reach out for provisions or in to touch a loved one’s hand. One could also spit and jeer; some came to the prison expressly for those purposes. Sarah Good…what remained of her clothing barely covered her body.” The description goes on. I imagine the conditions were similar in the Cambridge prison where Rebecca was incarcerated.
Sophia (Rosa) (Cross) Mattice was, I believe, the oldest (and possibly only) daughter of Garret and Clarissa (Cross) Rosa. Her age is iffy because either she, or other household members, never really seemed to remember how old she was when census time came around. It is believed that she was born sometime around 1815 in New York.
In 1838 after the Rosas and Crosses had moved to Michigan, she married a gentleman by the name of Mandrick Amandor Cross – believed to be her uncle. He was 10 years older than her. These two had seven known children together, of whom we know quite a bit about Daniel Wellington and Benjamin Franklin (aka Frank). Daniel had been arrested several times for theft and spent some time in prison. Frank was a cop in Kalamazoo County for several years. However, it appears that he was probably a very bad cop and most likely on the take – both types of behavior would contributed to his eventually being fired. After his stint as a cop Frank tried his hand at a little larceny himself, nothing to get himself in prison, but enough to get fined. There is not much nice to say about Cousin Frank. He was married and divorced twice. During the first marriage he went to court asking for a divorce; he was tired of his wife always accusing him of being with other women. Which she did. A lot. The judge said, “Sure you can have a divorce.” The second time he was in court was because his second wife was asking for the divorce, she was tired of him always being with other women. Which he did. A lot. He was a popular customer at the local brothel, and he had an African American mistress. A very renaissance man. The judge told Frank’s wife, “Sure you can have a divorce.”
But all this excitement happened in the later part of the 1800s. Before his attempts at marriage, Frank was living with his mother Sophia and her second husband, David Mattice. Mind you Frank was almost 30 at this time. The two boys did not get along, but as neither one of them were very nice people they probably rubbed each other the wrong way all the time. Sophia also might have spoiled Frank, which wouldn’t have helped the situation. So eventually things came to a head, resulting in this article appearing in the newspaper:
This incident happened in September of 1877. Frank survived the assault and lived on to be a scion of society, an example of shining knighthood for all young men, the epitome of virtue … yeah … not so much. Apparently that knock on the head, or dare I say, near death experience, didn’t shake any sense into him.
I don’t know if Sophia left David after this incident. Battered women don’t tend to do that. But, I am still working on finding more out about Frank, I can’t resist. He is such a little sh*t.
Over the years the research on my JOHN side of the family has brought to light our German, Norwegian, Dutch and Irish heritage and has been quite an interesting trip. And now, thanks to recent in-depth research on my great grandmother Gertrude (Cain) John’s ancestors, we can also add English and Welsh to this side of the tree. In fact, thanks to the English ancestry on this side of the tree, we can add another gateway ancestor, AKA a Royal Line (I am still waiting on my tiara). Which also means that I have found a common ancestor for my parents: Henry I.
“What!? How than this be?” You ask. Well I’ll tell you.
Gertrude’s parents were John Cain, our Irish line, and Carrie Rosa. Carrie’s father Abram adds Dutch on the Rosa (originally Roosa) side, however, his mother Clarrisa Cross is where the English pops in. It is believed very likely, (but not 100% proven, although the evidence is pretty compelling), that Clarissa’s parents were Joseph Cross and Zerviah Warner, both of whom’s ancestors can be traced back to New England, where they can be found mostly in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Today’s focus, however, is on one of Zerviah Warner’s great great great grandfathers, Rev. William Skepper/Skipper, (the name is seen both ways).
William was baptized in Boston, Lincolnshire, England on the 27th of November in 1597 the son of Edward and Mary (Robinson) Skepper. When he was about 14 years old he attended Sidney College in Cambridge, graduating after 2 years, having acquired a seminary style education. Due to, most likely, family connections he became a Rector of Thorpe by Wainfleete. Ten years later he is found as a curate and/or vicar of the same.
William was married twice, the name of his first wife is not known and they had several children together. His second wife, my ancestress, was Sarah Fisher. They had only one child, a daughter Sarah, who was born about 1640, it is assumed in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts.
1639 is believed to be the time period that the Skepper family moved to New England with other folks from Boston. A large contingent from the area at that time was making the exodus from England. William didn’t live long in the new world though as he died before 1650, which we know because a son-in-law was in court in 1650 petitioning that the estate be divided.
William’s grandmother Joan Legard was the 7xg grandchild of King Edward III and Queen Philippa Hainault (see images above). Not only did she have English royal blood, she also had French and Scottish royal blood in the mix. My favorite great grandmother is Eleanor of Aquitaine, who is such an awesome chick, and who I was very disappointed wasn’t one of my grandmothers in Mom’s royal line. (Descent on Mom’s side is through an illegitimate son of Henry I, whereas on Dad’s side it is through a legitimate daughter of Henry I, who marries and proceeds to birth the future Henry II.)
It is easy to think dismisively that this is ridiculous, every genealogist wants to be descended from royalty. (Insert eye-roll here). But actually it is pretty easy to believe, these folks had kids, some lots of kids, not every child was going to be king or queen, so the younger kids married, had kids, and so on, in each successive generation the oldest inheriting the most and the youngest getting less and less, and so on down the line. Until, you have the not so landed gentry ending up down here with us common folk. Personally, I have never done my research with the intent of finding famous ancestors. I have always been surprised if I did and mostly just thought, Cool! And, as a reminder, there are hundreds of thousand of descendants that can claim the same royal ancestry as me.
Here we go again:
Pipin the Short=Bertrada of Laon Emp.Charlemagne=Hildegarde
Emp. Louis I=Judith of Bavaria
Emp. Charles II=Ermentrude of Orleans
Judith=Baldwin I, C. of Flanders
Baldwin II, C. of Flanders=Elfrida of Wessex
Arnulf I, C. of Flanders=Adela of Vermandois
Baldwin III, C. of Flanders=Matilda of Saxony
Arnulf II, C. of Flanders=Rozela of Italy
Baldwin IV, C. of Flanders=Ogive of Luxembourg
Baldwin V, C. of Flanders=Adela of France
Matilda of Flanders=King William I of England
King Henry I of England=Matilda of Scotland <–daughter of King Malcolm III Scotland
Matilda=Geoffrey Plantagenet, C. of Anjou
King Henry II of England=Eleanor of Aquitaine <–MY FAV
King John of England=Isabella of Angouleme
King Henry III of England=Eleanor of Provence
King Edward I of England=Eleanor of Castile-Leon
King Edward II of England=Isabella of France
King Edward III of England=Philippa of Hainault <–daughter of King Philip IV France
Lionel of Antwerp, D. of Clarence=Elizabeth de Burgh
Philippa of Clarence=Edmund de Mortimer, 3rd E. of March
Elizabeth Mortimer=Sir Henry ‘Hotspur’ Percy
Elizabeth Percy=John Clifford, 7th Ld. Clifford
Mary Clifford=Sir Philip Wentworth
Elizabeth Wentworth=Sir Martin de la See
Joan de la See=Sir Peter Hildyard
Isabel Hildyard=Ralph Legard, Esq. Joan Legard [royal line enters our JOHN tree]=Richard Skepper, Lord of Ingoldmels Manor
Edward Skepper, Lord of Ingoldmels Manor=Mary Robinson
Rev. William Skepper/Skipper=Sarah Fisher
Sarah Skipper=Walter Fairfield
Sarah Fairfield=Thomas Abbe
Tabitha Abbe=John Warner
Daniel Warner=Ann Pember
Zerviah Warner=Joseph Cross
Clarissa Cross=Garrett Rosa
Abram Rosa=Jennie/Janett Smith
Carrie Rosa=John Cain
Gertrude Cain=Victor John
Clarence John=Myrtle Hamm
Victor John=Margaret Shepard
ME <– 10 greats to the Rev., 21 to Edward III