The Old Homestead – Caleb Pusey House

Finding old homes that belonged to my ancestors has been a little difficult. I know of several instances where homes burned, or they were torn down and replaced with a newer buildings. That is why to my extreme surprise, I discovered that the home of my 11th great grandmother, Anne (Stone) (Worley) Pusey and her second husband, Caleb, was not only standing but a museum! Several years ago, I had the great pleasure to visit the house with my mom, who is also a descendant of Anne. It was a special day for both of us, and we were both struck by the compelling story behind the house and the lives of Anne and Caleb.

The Caleb Pusey House

Anne Stone and Her Husbands

As I began to write this post, I realized how much research I still need to do on this family! That is what has been so great about this challenge; it has reminded me of sides of the family that definitely need a little more attention. For now, I will discuss what I know of their lives.

Anne was the daughter of Henry Stone, as recorded in her second marriage record in London. At this time, I know nothing else about Anne. I do not know if she was born in London or a surrounding county, when she was born, who her mother was, or if she had any siblings. The first record I have that names Anne is her marriage to Henry Worley on 12 January 1667/8 at St. James Duke’s Place, an oddly named Anglican Church in the Aldgate Ward of London. Henry was the son of Henry Worley and Anne Young of Parndon, Essex and was named in his father’s will in May 1662.

By 1673, Anne and Henry were living in an area of London called Bishopsgate, where at least their youngest child was born. Anne and Henry had three known children: Francis, Henry, and Elizabeth. Elizabeth died on 26 June 1673 and was buried in the Checker Alley burying ground. Anne and Henry were undoubtedly Quakers by this time, as Elizabeth was buried in the Quaker section of the burying ground. Sadly, Henry Worley soon followed his daughter to the grave. He died on 14 Feb 1674/5 of a fever and was buried in the Checker Alley burying ground, likely near his daughter. Tradition says that Henry contracted the fever while imprisoned for refusing to attend the Anglican Church, but I have not seen contemporary proof of this yet. But if that was the case, that was an experience that other Quakers shared in England.

On 27 May 1681, Anne entered into her second marriage to Caleb Pusey, a fellow Quaker who lived in the parish of St. Botolph-without-Bishopsgate in London. Their marriage took place at the “meeting place at Devonshirehouse without Bishopsgate London.” Their marriage record is wonderful because it gives information about both Caleb and Anne’s family. (This is just one reason to love Quaker ancestors, thorough records!)

Caleb Pusey was a prolific writer and published quite a few works during his life. The first, “A Serious and Seasonable Warning unto all People,” was published in London in 1675. Sometime during his life in London, Caleb became acquainted with William Penn. In 1681, King Charles II granted to Penn an large amount of land to settle a debt between himself and Penn’s father. Penn took this opportunity to relocate with other Quakers and settle the land. Caleb and Anne Pusey were some of the earliest people to plan to leave with Penn. They shared similar religious beliefs with Penn, and soon Caleb and Penn became business associates. Caleb and Penn, with a group of other enterprising Quakers, drew up plans for a grist and a saw mill, which was to be the first venture of its kind in Pennsylvania. Caleb was a 1/32 shareholder and was named the manager of the mills. Caleb, Anne, and Anne’s sons Francis and Henry Worley boarded the Welcome, Penn’s flag ship, and sailed for Pennsylvania on 1 September 1682.

The Homestead

By 1683, Caleb had purchased 100 acres of land located on Chester Creek in Chester County named “Landingford” where he built the two mills and the house. The house has the distinction of being the second oldest house in Pennsylvania and the only house still standing that William Penn was known to have visited. The stone house was constructed like a 17th-century English yeoman house. It has two main rooms, which were likely built at different times, and an attic that served as a sleeping loft and storage space.

The Landingford house was the center of Anne and Caleb’s world for many years. Not only were the mills on the land Caleb’s responsibility, but they raised their small family there. Two of Anne’s children with Caleb, Ann and Lydia, were born in the house. Both Caleb and Anne were very involved in political and spiritual life in Pennsylvania. Caleb served as a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly, a member of the Pennsylvania Provincial Council, Justice of the Peace, County Treasurer, tax collector, sheriff, and a trustee for the meeting house. Quaker meetings were held in their home, and both Anne and Caleb led meetings. Caleb continued to publish works, including “A Modest Account from Pennsylvania,” “Satan’s Harbinger,” “Daniel Leeds Justly Rebuked,” “Porteus Ecclesiasticus,” and “Some Remarks upon the late Pamphlet signed part by John Talbot, and part by Daniel Leeds.”

Caleb and Anne lived in this house until 1717 when they moved to Marlborough Township. The New Garden Monthly Meeting records showed that Anne died on 5 February 1726. Caleb died the following year on 25 February and was buried in the London Grove Quaker cemetery in Chester County.

The house is being cared for and managed by the Friends of the Caleb Pusey House, organized in 1960. Through their efforts, the house has been beautifully preserved along with several other buildings on the property, and they are open for tours!

My Connection

I am a descendant of Anne’s son Francis and his wife Mary Brassey, the daughter of Thomas Brassey, another first purchaser and immigrant in Penn’s fleet. My family eventually left Pennsylvania and made their way to Tennessee, and our connection with the Pusey house has only been lately rediscovered. My mom and I were so proud of our adventurous ancestors, and we were thrilled that a building that was such an important part of their lives was still standing. It made us feel just a little bit closer to Anne, Caleb, and Francis to know that we were walking around the same places that they did 330 years earlier.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Misfortune

Image of Anne Unton holding her son Henry found in the Unton Portrait.

Some of my ancestors had easier lives than others, but when I think of the word “misfortune,” my mind immediately travels to my 14th great grandmother, Lady Anne Unton, former Countess of Warwick. Although she grew up the daughter of a duke, the first cousin of the king, and the wife of an earl, and there was hardly a young woman in England more privileged than she, her life was full of trials and one misfortune followed another.


Early Life

Anne was born the oldest daughter of Edward Seymour, at the time Viscount Beauchamp, and Lady Anne, the only daughter of Sir Edward Stanhope and Elizabeth Bourchier. Some new scholarship has come out concerning Anne’s birth date. In short, it seems that Anne was born about 1536, as she was certainly alive by 30 November 1537 when two daughters of Lady Anne Seymour, now Lady Hertford, were brought to visit Lady Mary, Henry VIII’s oldest daughter. Where she was born is another issue. If she was born in 1536, she was likely born wherever the court was being held as her father’s position required him to be there and available to attend upon the king.

Anne’ father, Edward Seymour, was the son of Sir John Seymour and Lady Margery Wentworth. Margery Wentworth was a descendant of King Edward III. It was this royal connection that helped enable Henry VIII to marry Edward’s sister, Jane.





Anne Seymour, Duchess of Somerset

Anne’s mother, Anne Stanhope, was also a descendant of Edward III on her mother’s side. She was her husband’s confidant and was good friends with Lady Mary Tudor.

If Anne was born in 1536, is was quite an auspicious year. Queen Anne Boleyn was arrested and beheaded in that year, Henry VIII began courting Jane Seymour with the help of her brother Edward, and the king married Jane. Anne’s father Edward was raised to the peerage upon his creation of Viscount Beauchamp on 5 June 1536. The Seymours were now the most powerful family in England and had the most influence with the king. A year later, Queen Jane gave birth to her only child, the future King Edward VI. Edward Seymour was rewarded with an elevation to the Earl of Hertford, and little Anne was now the first cousin of the heir to the throne.

Growing up in the Royal Court gave Anne advantages that were available to few girls at that time. Anne’s mother was literate, and quite a few of her letters survive, so it is not too surprising that Anne and her sisters Margaret and Jane were well educated. Anne began to learn to read as early as three years old when a prayer book was purchased for her in the second half of 1539. Anne and her sisters learned among other things Latin, Greek, French, and Italian. The three sisters also composed a poem in Latin about Queen Margaret of Navarre. Remarkably, Anne corresponded with John Calvin; he wrote her at least one letter on 17 June 1549. He addressed her as “the Most Noble, Most Gifted, and Most Honourable Lady Ann, Eldest Daughter of of the very Illustrious Protector of England.” He seems to have initiated the correspondence, stating that Anne was “cultivated in liberal knowledge (a singular thing in a young person of rank in this place) but that you were also so well informed in the doctrines of Christ.” It is not clear if Anne sent a response, but she was clearly known as being well-educated.

Misfortune: Her Parents’ First Arrest

When Henry VIII died in 1547, and his son Edward became king, Anne’s father became Lord Protector and created himself Duke of Somerset. He essentially became king in all but name, appointing privy councilors, taking complete charge of his nephew Edward, and enriching himself and his friends. He did govern efficiently, but some domestic disasters caused problems for him. In 1549, fearful of being relieved of power, he took Edward VI to Windsor to hide. He was subsequently arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London with his wife Anne. Anne was released earlier than Edward, who was released in 1550.

This political unrest must have been very traumatic for Anne and her siblings. When her parents were imprisoned, Anne was only thirteen years old. She was undoubtedly aware that when Tudors imprisoned people in the Tower, they rarely left with their bodies in tact. At this time, she was without her father for about a year and her mother for a few months.

John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, the Duke of Somerset’s political enemy, was now the head of the privy council and had essentially replaced Edward as the regent. Anne Seymour, Duchess of Somerset, knew that for her husband’s survival, she must make nice with the Earl. She visited his home every day, apparently working to have Edward restored to the council. Her efforts paid off, and Edward was released, to the relief of his family.

Anne’s First Marriage

Edward saw the advantages of allying himself with the Earl of Warwick, and to achieve this, he suggested a marriage between his oldest daughter, Anne, and the Earl’s oldest son, John Dudley, Viscount Lisle. This was not unusual for the time, and Anne probably expected that a marriage would be arranged for her. However, she probably did not expect the offer to come from her father’s enemy. On 3 June 1550, at the Palace of Sheen, 14 year old Lady Anne Seymour married the 23 year old John, Viscount Lisle. The marriage was a grand affair; Edward VI attended and wrote about it in his journal. He also presented Anne with a ring worth 40 pounds.

Anne’s father-in-law, John Dudley, became the Duke of Northumberland in October 1551, at which time Anne’s husband became the Earl of Warwick. Anne herself was styled Lady Anne, Countess of Warwick. She was one of the most important Peeresses in England, and undoubtedly, this was a burden for a young girl. Her family was always proud of her rank, and she was memorialized several times as the Countess of Warwick even after her second marriage.

Tower of London

Misfortune: Second Arrest of the Duke and Duchess of Somerset

Even Anne’s marriage couldn’t keep her father and father-in-law from struggling for power. Edward again began plotting to overthrow John Dudley, now the Duke of Northumberland, and his efforts were rewarded with his arrest. Both the Duke and Duchess of Somerset were sent to the Tower of London in October 1551. Edward was convicted of treason and conspiracy on 1 December and was beheaded at Tower Hill on 22 January 1552. Edward VI stated very blandly that the Duke was beheaded in his journal, with very little emotion and with no indication that the Duke was a very close family member.

I am not sure if Anne was present for her father’s execution, but whether or not she was, this must have been a heart-wrenching day for her. Not only was her father beheaded with the approval of her first cousin the king, but her father-in-law orchestrated the event. I can’t imagine that this created a very happy atmosphere within her marriage. Anne also probably felt torn between the two factions, as she was by birth a Seymour but by marriage a Dudley.

Anne’s mother, the Duchess of Somerset, still remained imprisoned in the Tower. The Tudors were not above executing women who in their minds committed treason, so Anne was probably constantly worried that her mother might be charged and beheaded. The Duchess was to languish in the Tower until her release on 30 May 1553.

Misfortune: Imprisonment and Execution of the Earl of Warwick

By early 1553, Edward VI was sick, and by the summer, those closest to him knew that he was dying. Under the influence of the Duke of Northumberland, Edward chose Lady Jane Grey as his heir, who had recently married the Duke’s son, Guildford Dudley. Edward VI died in July, and Lady Jane was proclaimed queen on 10 July 1553. Anne’s brother-in-law Guildford was now married to the Queen, but he was not made king as he wished. It quickly became a dangerous time to be a member of the Dudley family when Princess Mary also proclaimed herself Queen. As Mary had the support of the people, the Privy Council switched their allegiance to Mary and proclaimed her queen on 19 July. Queen Jane and Guildford Dudley were both arrested and imprisoned in the Tower.

Carving in Beauchamp Tower by John Dudley

Anne’s husband John, father-in-law the Duke of Northumberland, and the other of her Dudley brothers-in-law were arrested, convicted, and imprisoned in the Beauchamp Tower of the Tower of London. The Duke of Northumberland was executed on the Tower Green on 22 August 1553. This must have been a terrifying time for Anne, and I suspect it reminded her of her parents’ arrests and her father’s execution. Fortunately for her, she was never arrested or connected in any way to the treasonous activities of the others. Anne was allowed to visit John during his imprisonment as often as she wished, which she continued to do until his release on 18 October 1554. John had become very ill towards the end of his stay in the Tower, and Anne was understandably worried about him. Anne and John traveled to Penshurst Place in Kent to help him recover, but sadly, he died on 28 October 1554. Anne was only 18 years old, and John 27.

Penshurst Place

Within the space of 5 years, Ann had been in the center of one of the most dangerous periods of Tudor history for people who were close to the monarchs. Not only had she watched both of her parents be imprisoned in the Tower of London twice, but her father, father-in-law, brother-in-law (Guildford), and sister-in-law (Queen Jane) were executed for treason. Her own husband, who it seems like she cared for, succumbed to the illness he contracted during his imprisonment. Anne watched as her family was literally torn apart.

Misfortune: “A Lunatic Enjoying Lucid Intervals”

Only six months after John’s death, Anne remarried. Her new husband was Edward Unton, the heir of Sir Alexander Unton of Berkshire. The marriage took place on 29 April 1555 at St. George’s Church in Hatford, Berkshire. It was a bit of a step down socially for Anne, but Edward’s step-father had some connections with the Seymours, which may have brought about the marriage. It could have also been arranged to remove Anne from any position of power that she might be able to claim as the widow of the Earl of Warwick.

Edward was knighted at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, and he was to become very involved in political life. The remainder of Anne’s life was to be a quiet one. She an Edward had a total of 7 children, although only 4 of their children grew to adulthood: Edward, Henry, Anne, and Cecily.

By 1566, when she was about 30 years old, her brother-in-law and Queen Elizabeth’s favorite, Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester, wrote in a letter that Anne was suffering from “lunacy.” When her husband died in 1582, she was declared “a lunatic enjoying lucid intervals.” Other scholarship on Anne has blamed the traumatic experiences of her teenage years as the cause of her problems. Perhaps three children dying contributed to her illness, or maybe it was genetic. Whatever the cause, Anne needed supervision and care. Edward did not even mention her in his will when he died even though she was still living. This probably indicated that one of his children, likely one of the sons, was caring for his or her mother.

Tomb of Anne Seymour, Duchess of Somerset in Westminster Abbey

Anne’s illness possibly explains why she was not mentioned in the will of her mother, Duchess of Somerset, written 14 July 1586. However, when the Duchess died in 1587, all of her children were listed on her enormous tomb Westminster Abbey. Anne and her younger brother, Edward Seymour Earl of Hertford, were the only children whose titles were noted in the epitaph. Even though Anne’s brother-in-law, Ambrose, was the new Earl or Warwick and his wife was the Countess, Anne was still referred to as the Countess of Warwick.

Anne died in February 1588 when she was about 52 years old and was buried in Faringdon Church, Berkshire. A large monument to her and Sir Edward Unton is attached to the wall. She lived quite a sad life, full of misfortune interspersed with periods of happiness. The Tudor era is absolutely fascinating, and it is especially exciting that some of my ancestors were so involved in the schemes of the time. However, after learning about the devastating, real-life implications those events had on my ancestress, I now have gained a completely new perspective on this time period.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Lucky

Last week, I examined some of the hardships that my 4th great grandmother, Anna Krieg Althauser, faced first as the wife of a neglectful and disagreeable husband and then as an impoverished widow. Her strength of character served her well in trying times, and I couldn’t be more impressed with her actions. This week, I will continue her story by highlighting a little bit of good fortune that changed her life and the lives of her children.

Difficult Circumstances

As was covered in the previous post, Anna’s husband died at the young at of 44 on 9 July 1852. At the time of his death the ages of their children were: Pauline 19, Andreas 17, Jakob Friedrich 12, Johann Jakob 9, and Wilhelm 6. Anna was now completely without a support system. Not only had her own parents immigrated to the United States fifteen years earlier and died there, but all of her siblings and their spouses resided in Ohio. Both sets of Anna’s grandparents (Andreas Krieg and Ursula Fiand/Johann Georg Mörch and Anna Maria Göltzlin) had been dead for many years. None of her father’s siblings lived to adulthood. A few first cousins were still living in Opfingen, children of her mother’s younger brother and older sister, but records do not indicate if they were in the position to help Anna.

Not even her husband’s relatives were able to provide assistance. Both of Jakob’s parents, Jakob Simeon and Anna, were deceased, and as Jakob was their only child, there were no brothers or sisters-in-law for Anna to lean on. Like Anna, both sets of Jakob’s grandparents (Simon Althauser and Judith Schumacher/Johann Sutter and Sophie Buchmüller) had died decades before. One of Jakob’s aunts was still living as were some of his first cousins, but again, based on the research I have done so far, his relatives did not come to her aide, either.

Without an effective kinship network to rely on, Anna was literally on her own, and she and her children were dependent on the good will of the towns people and alms.

But her luck was about to change!

Lucky Circumstances

Anna kept in contact with her parents and siblings post immigration. She knew they had settled in Cincinnati and had begun their new lives in a foreign country where they did not speak the language and were not familiar with the customs. I do not know if Anna wished that she and Jakob had immigrated with them in 1837, or if at the time, she was content to remain in Germany with her husband. But it makes me wonder if she regretted staying behind, or if it was Jakob who did not want to leave Baden.

She would have been informed of her father’s death between 1840 and 1850, as well as the death of her mother Barbara on 25 July 1849 of cholera. After Jakob’s death, other than her children, her siblings in America were her closest living relatives. Knowing her struggles, Anna’s siblings (I am unsure which ones) encouraged her to immigrate to Cincinnati. The only obstacle was the price of the tickets as of course, if she left Opfingen, her children would be coming with her. Not only would she have to pay for her ticket, but somehow find the money to pay for 5 others.

But here is where luck played a part! When Anna’s immediate family immigrated, they sold everything they had to cover the cost of their tickets. After living in the US for fifteen years, they had prospered, and together, her siblings were able to come up with 160 Taler (or Thaler, German silver coins), a little over a third of the total price of the tickets. A friend of the family and fellow immigrant from the German states, Johannes Hoffman, just so happened to be returning to his home town in Prussia in 1853. He generously agreed to bring the 160 Taler to Anna before his return journey home.

Anna knew of this plan and probably helped to arrange it. Once she could be assured that Hoffman would deliver the money to her, she petitioned the Grand Land Office of Baden for permission to immigrate to the United States. The rest of the travel money needed, about 150 Gulden, would be supplied by the village of Opfingen. At first, I was surprised that the community would help her to immigrate, but it seems that it was more practical for it to shell out a one-time fee rather than have 6 people dependent on the town coffers for an indefinite number of years.

Anna’s children and their birth dates.

Anna was very fortunate to find a way to escape her present predicament. She was not only fortunate that her siblings were able to help pay for her to leave Baden, but it was also lucky that Johannes Hoffman was sailing back to the German states at just the right time. Lastly, she was fortunate that the village of Opfingen had enough money to cover the rest of her travel fees. This little bit of luck allowed her to essentially start over in a new land with her relatives and children, and it provided her children with opportunities that they might not have had if they had remained in Baden.


On 8 September 1853, Anna and her children were approved for immigration, and after Anna and her children purchased her tickets and received their passports (both of which were needed to travel across France), they were ready to travel to Le Havre! They likely had to bring their own provisions for the journey, and although I am not sure how they traveled, they probably used France’s train system. Le Havre was a popular destination for German immigrants who lived in western Germany.

Anna and her children boarded the Helvetia, a packet ship bound for New York City. The Helvetia pulled out of Le Havre on 30 October 1853 with 391 passengers including the Althausers. As the ship left, and Anna and her children saw Europe slip away, I wonder if they were sad or if they knew that none of them would ever see Baden or their hometown again. Again, Anna showed her incredible bravery in the face or a challenge. I can’t even imagine how intimidating it would be to travel thousands of miles to a new country with children (although most were over 10 years) and not being able to speak English. If she was nervous or scared, she didn’t let those emotions change her mind.

After almost a month at sea, the Helvetia arrived safely in New York harbor on 28 November 1853. The New York Times reported that there were only two deaths on board, the ship doctor and a small child. Fortunately, Anna and her five children all arrived healthy. New York was not the Althauser family’s final destination; they soon left the city and traveled west to Cincinnati where they were presumably greeted by Anna’s siblings and their spouses.

Post Immigration

1860 Census, Cincinnati, Ohio

Anna settled in a house on Western Avenue in Cincinnati. Her two youngest sons, Johann Jakob and Wilhelm, both attended schools in town, the older sons found trades, and Pauline married a immigrant from Bavaria, Joseph Beck. By 1870, Anna was ill with cancer, and she and Wilhelm began living with Pauline and her family. Anna succumbed to cancer on 27 February 1877, and the funeral took place on 1 March. She was buried at the Spring Grove Cemetery on 3 April 1877 at 3:00 in the afternoon.

Anna’s legacy as a strong woman stayed with her descendants. She created a bright future for her children, and her actions changes all of their lives for the better. Andreas and Jakob Friedrich both worked in the distillery business in Cincinnati and Louisville respectively. Wilhelm became the foreman of the largest distillery in Tennessee and later owned a lumber business. Johann Jakob became a carpenter and Pauline’s husband seemed to be a man of many talents, working at different times as an engineer and distiller. It seems all of Anna’s children were devoted to her; several grandchildren and even some great grandchildren were named for her. Such an amazing woman deserves to be remembered for many more generations to come.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Strong Woman

Choosing just one strong female ancestor to write about this week was quite difficult! However, one stands out to me as showing extraordinary strength and bravery through a series of hardships, my 4th great grandmother, Anna Krieg Althauser. This will be a two part post: this week’s post will focus on her strength and next week’s post, while also continuing the theme of strength, will also focus on how a little bit of luck helped change her future.

Anna’s beautiful signature.

Anna’s Background and Early Life

Anna Krieg was born born 8 February 1808, the third of nine children born to Martin Krieg (1772-btw. 1840 and 1850) and Barbara Mörch (1783-1849). Anna and her family lived in Opfingen, a village in the Grand Duchy of Baden in what is now Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Anna’s father, Martin, was a middle class citizen of Opfingen (an important distinction in the German states) and farmer.

Although I do not know very much about Anna’s younger years, I can make some assumptions. Anna was literate, as were both of her parents.  In 1803, an edict issued by Margrave Karl Friedrich von Baden decreed that schools that functioned throughout the year had to be established in every town, not just schools that operated in the winter when children were not needed in the fields. Children were to begin school when they turned 7 years old and attended until the age of 13 for girls and 14 for boys. At school, children learned “spelling, reading, writing of the German language, arithmetic, singing, Bible history, and materials of religious instruction.” In addition, “finishing schools” were also required in each town, including catechism, vocational (for girls, spinning, knitting, and sewing), Sunday, and middle schools. Girls could attend the first three schools. As Anna was a part of the middle class, she would have attended the regular school and probably the three finishing schools as well.

Anna’s Prenuptial Agreement

Anna probably knew her future husband, Jakob Althauser, her entire life. Jakob was born on 11 October 1807 in Opfingen, the only child of Jakob Simeon Althauser (1782-1838) and Anna Sutter (1785-1838). Jakob the father was a baker and owned some property in town.

On 9 January 1832, a marriage contract between Anna Krieg and Jakob Althauser was drawn up, and it would play an important role when Anna’s marriage turned sour. The contract had six sections, but the most important ones are abbreviated as follows:

  • Jakob owns approximately 1000 guilders of property.
  • Anna possesses approximately 400 guilders of property.
  • The mother of the bride, Barbara Mörch, purchased a two-story house, barn, and stall in Opfingen. Barbara Mörch allows her daughter to inhabit most of the rooms as long as she and her husband pay 500 guilders. Jakob Althauser accepts this, but insists that his father, Jakob Althauser, shall be allowed to live in the house as long as he lives.
  • The mother of the bride also reserves the right to move into the upper room in the attic if she so desires and to be able to live there.
  • If one part of the future couple dies without children, the longest living part shall be able to use all of the assets of the deceased for life.

Anna and Jakob’s prenuptial agreement is a fascinating document.

  • It is the first prenuptial agreement that I have found for an ancestral couple.
  • The document and contents were driven by the wishes of Anna’ mother, Barbara. Anna’s father, Martin, was not involved at all; he didn’t even sign the agreement.
  • Monetary values are assigned to the property that both Anna and Jakob were bringing into the marriage.
  • It contains a great description of their house and some of the outbuildings.
  • Both Barbara and Jakob Simeon Althauser’s futures were secured (why were Martin Krieg and Anna Sutter not included?)
  • It also allows Anna to live in the house for as long as she lives, thus giving her some security.

Anna’s Marriage

Anna and Jakob married on 12 Jan 1832 in Opfingen. The couple moved into the two-story house in Opfingen and began their lives as a married couple. Their first child, daughter Pauline, was born on 31 August 1832, a little of seven months later. It is possible that Anna delivered her early, but it is also possible that Anna was pregnant when she married Jakob. Two more children were born in quick succession: a son born 30 October 1833 and who died two days later and Andreas born 9 November 1834.

However, sometime around 1834, Anna and Jakob separated. This extremely period of Anna’s life tested her fortitude. It is difficult to determine exactly when the separation occurred, but some clues suggest a timeline. Martin and Barbara Krieg became indebted to Georg Küchle of Opfingen in the amount of 8 guilders 31 including interest on 1 July 1834. Their son-in-law Jakob agreed to take on the debt himself, although by 1837 he still had not repaid the it. This indicates that in July, Jakob was still on amicable terms with his in laws. Andreas was born in November, but no other children were born to Anna and Jakob until the birth of their short lived son, Jakob Friedrich, on 24 July 1838. So, Anna and Jakob were likely separated from as early as July 1834 until as late as October 1837 (assuming Jakob Friedrich was a full term baby).

What were the reasons for their separation? Like most marital problems, the reasons were complicated and there are probably quite a few other aspects that I will remain lost to history. However, some of the details came to light in a hearing at the Grand Land Office. Martin, Barbara, and all of their children (other than Anna) wished to immigrate to the United States, and in order to do this, they had to settle all debts they owed. On 20 March 1837, the Kriegs admitted that there was still an unpaid debt to Georg Küchle, but it was no longer their responsibility. This prompted Jakob to respond by accusing the Kriegs of not giving him the 400 guilder dowry agreed upon in his and Anna’s prenuptial agreement which should prevent their departure from Opfingen. The Kriegs fired back, stating that Jakob and Anna had willingly separated from each other, and because Jakob refused to support his wife and children, they were not obligated to give him anything. Martin, Barbara, and Jakob agreed to bring the issues before the Mayor and City Council.

This family feud in a very public place suggests that there were probably deeper issues that were causing Anna and Jakob’s marriage to disintegrate. At this time, I do not know what those were. Was Jakob an alcoholic? Was he abusive? Was he unfaithful and keeping a mistress? Was he just an irresponsible and thoughtless person? Perhaps other records in Germany could answer some of these questions. But from what I can glean from the records I do have, it seems the problems had been festering for years. Anna was very brave to leave her husband and raise her children when Jakob refused to be literally hold up his end of the bargain.

On 15 April 1837, Anna took matters into her own hands. She requested an appointment at the Grand Land Office to settle the disagreement between her husband and her parents about her dowry. Her request was granted and the appointment was set for Wednesday, 19 April at 8:00 a.m. Due to illness, Martin was unable to attend, but Anna and Barbara fought for what they believed right. The hearing went like this:

  • Jakob: Because the Kriegs wanted to immigrate, they should pay him the dowry owed before they left.
  • Barbara and Anna: Barbara and Anna came to an agreement before the hearing. In lieu of the 400 guilders, Barbara transferred fields with grapevines, an herb garden, and other goods totaling 250 guilders to Anna. She also agreed to forfeit the ability to live in the two-story house.
  • Anna: She was perfectly happy with the arrangement, and her husband should accept this because “he has not even brought a kreutzer of the 1000 guilders of dowry that were set forth in the marriage agreement.” She also blamed their separation on Jakob, saying that he would not provide for her or their children.
  • Jakob: He agreed that he had not brought his dowry to the marriage, but it was because he was still living with his parents, and as the only son and child, he would inherit everything.
  • Jakob: He also stated that Anna left him without his consent, and he would not accept the 250 guilders.
  • Barbara: If Jakob refused to pay the 1000 guilders, she was in her right to refuse to pay the 400 guilders.
  • Jakob: He made his own counter offer: he would be satisfied with 300 guilders.
  • Anna and Barbara: They refused his offer and maintained their position.
  • Land Office: They decided to appeal to Jakob’s parents for the 1000 guilders.
  • Jakob: Agreed to Anna and Barbara’s conditions, but he would not pay any of the court costs.
All parties agreed to Anna and Barbara’s conditions.

After the hearing, the Kriegs immigrated and around October, Anna and Jakob had reconciled. Anna showed remarkable strength and courage by not only leaving her husband when he treated her and her children poorly, but argued against him at a court hearing in favor of herself and her mother. Sadly, difficulties in her marriage and other aspects of her personal life continued to occur.

Family Tragedies

Anna gave birth to eight children, but sadly, three of them died when they were very young. First, an unnamed son died at two days old. After a painful separation, a fight in court over money, and a reconciliation, Anna had to face the terrible tragedy of losing two more children. Jakob Friedrich, the first child born after they began living together again, died at six days old. Anna became pregnant almost immediately after the birth of Jakob Friedrich and gave birth to her second daughter, Anna, on born 9 May 1839. Little Anna died on 20 May.

Anna experienced a reprieve from heartbreak when she gave birth to her last three children – another Jakob Friedrich (b. 1840), Johann Jakob (b. 1843), and Wilhelm (b. 1846) – who all survived to adulthood. This was a much needed time of happiness between the problems of the 1830s and the hardships yet to come.

Anna’s husband, Jakob, was by profession a farmer, yet for unknown reasons, he still was unable (or unwilling) to provide for his family. It was possible that she and Jakob had separated once again, as after the birth of Wilhelm in 1846, she did not have any more children although she was still within childbearing years. By the end of the 1840s, Anna no longer owned the house given to her by her mother, and she and her children were being completely supported by the charity of the town. She was listed as “poor and asset-less,” with no property to her name.  Jakob was supposed to inherit everything that belonged to his parents upon their deaths. However, when he died, he left no property, which indicates that he was also forced to sell everything he owned. Without other details, it is unclear what problems in their personal lives caused Jakob and Anna to lose literally every asset they had in the world and plunged them into penury.

Jakob died on 9 July 1852 at the age of 44 years old. My 3rd great grandfather, Wilhelm, remembered “being held in someone’s arms over his (father’s) bed while he was dying.” Jakob was buried two days later.

Anna now faced a dire situation. Even though her husband failed to take care of his family for a large portion of their marriage, and she had been completely dependent on the community for basic necessities for several years, with his death, she had even fewer options open to her. What happened next will be the subject of next week’s post! With a stroke of good fortune and a brave plan, Anna again ensured the well-being of her family.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Where There’s A Will

I have no shame in admitting that I really love wills, especially wills left by female ancestors! Wills are amazing documents because they offer a glimpse into the minds of ancestors at the end of their lives, and for women, they are often one of the few places where their voices can be distinctly heard. Women’s wills reveal their personalities, relatives and friends they were close to, or in some cases, who they were not close to, their favorite or most valuable possessions, their religious and charitable inclinations, and descriptions of land and houses.

Tomb of Dame Elizabeth Unton and her husband, Sir Thomas Unton, in Faringdon Church, Berkshire.

One of my favorite wills was composed by my 16th great grandmother, Dame Elizabeth (Hyde) Unton on 21 April 1536. Elizabeth was the daughter of Oliver and Agnes Hyde of Denchworth, Berkshire, England. She married Sir Thomas Unton, son of Hugh Unton, of Faringdon, Berkshire. Elizabeth and Thomas had four children, including my ancestor, Alexander. Sir Thomas was the sheriff of Berkshire and Oxfordshire, and he received his knighthood at Anne Boleyn’s coronation in May 1533. Sir Thomas died on 4 August 1533 and was buried in the north transept of Faringdon Church. Elizabeth did not long survive her husband, and she was buried next to him in Faringdon Church, where their large tombs still rest.

The Structure

Elizabeth’s will follows the same structure and form as other wills of this period. It begins by providing context for this period in Elizabeth’s life (date, reigning monarch, her name, marital status, and name and position of her husband). She then gives her soul to God and gives instructions as to the burial of her body. Next, Elizabeth disperses her earthly possessions to her children, relatives, friends, and servants. Her final acts are to distribute money to the poor people of the parish and to name her executors and overseer of her will.

There are several other aspects of the will that are worth noting. As per the time period, the registered copy of Elizabeth’s will was written in secretary hand, which is a challenge in itself. In addition, spelling was not standardized in the 16th century, so for example, cow was written as “kowe,” wholly as “hooly,” and satin as “Satten.” The will also contains archaic words including “kyne” (plural of cow). Between the old handwriting, spelling, and archaic words, her will is a little difficult to navigate. However, the contents were worth the effort of the transcription!


Context is very important, especially when I am determining if I am looking at the right will for the right ancestor. Elizabeth’s will begins with the date (21 April 1536) and the regnal year (27) of the monarch, Henry VIII. She then states her name, Elizabeth Unton, and her home parish, Faringdon in Berkshire. Widows often stated their marital status and the name and position of their husbands (Knight, Gentleman, Esquire, Yeoman, Butcher). Elizabeth syles herself as the “widowe and late wife of Sir Thomas Unton Knyght decessed.” She also provides some context and clues to her identity at the end of the will by naming “Thomas Hyde and John Hyde my brethren, myn executours” and “my brother William Hide Overseer.” In the 16th-century, “brother” could also refer to brother-in-law, not just a blood brother, but in Elizabeth’s case, these three men are her real brothers. In a few sentences, Elizabeth positioned herself within her family groups and in Berkshire society.

Understanding the historical and political context for an ancestor’s will can help make connections between major life events, therefore, the date of Elizabeth’s will, 1536, is particularly important. The rise of Anne Boleyn and later her fall in 1536 and the marriage of Jane Seymour to Henry VIII in the same year share some interesting connections with the personal lives of Sir Thomas and Elizabeth. Sir Thomas was knighted at Queen Anne’s coronation only a few months before his death in 1533. Elizabeth composed her will on 21 April 1536, 9 days before the arrests of men accused of having sexual relations with Queen Anne. On May 19, Queen Anne was beheaded on the Tower Green, and on 17 June, Elizabeth’s will was probated in London. Queen Anne’s ultimate success of becoming queen corresponded with Sir Thomas’s rise in station, and her death occurred probably within a month of Elizabeth’s death. On 20 May, Henry VIII became engaged to Jane Seymour, and on 30 May, he married her at the Palace of Whitehall in London. Elizabeth may have still been alive on this date, and she probably did not imagine that the execution of one queen and marriage of another would so personally affect her family. Also, the fact that the Untons were courtiers and spent time at court serving the king meant that any political or personal turmoil in the King’s life meant possible changes in theirs.

Connections with events in both the Tudor royal family and the Untons continued in the next two generations. Sir Thomas and Elizabeth’s oldest son, Sir Alexander Unton (my 15ht great grandfather), was knighted at the coronation of King Edward VI, son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, on 20 February 1546/7.

But the most significant connection to the Tudors was still to come. Sir Alexander and Lady Cecily Unton’s oldest son, Sir Edward Unton (my 14th great grandfather), married Lady Anne, Countess of Warwick, who was born Lady Anne Seymour, eldest daughter of Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, eldest brother of Queen Jane Seymour and Lord Protector, and his second wife, Anne (Stanhope) Seymour, Duchess of Somerset. The advantageous marriage of a Countess and daughter of a Duke to the son of a knight (who had yet to be knighted himself) was quite a success story for Edward. However, by studying how life events of the Tudors, Seymours, and Untons overlapped and placing those events in context, this marriage is not as far fetched as it seems at first.

Bequests: Possessions

It is interesting to note that due to English common law practices, Elizabeth could only bequeath possessions that were specifically willed to her by Sir Thomas. She automatically received a life interest in 1/3 of his estate, but that property would go to her husband’s heirs (their children) after her death. However, Sir Thomas gave her additional control of certain possessions and property upon his death, therefore, Elizabeth was able to distribute them to people as she desired. It is hard to imagine that women really had very little control over property unless it was specifically given to them by their fathers, through a marriage contract, or by their husbands. It is possible that some of the valuable items seen below came with Elizabeth upon her marriage, which is why Sir Thomas bequeathed them to her. Or, he left them to her for extra income and to help support her after his death (I am thinking particularly of the farm animals and stores of wheat, malt, and wool). Whatever the case, Elizabeth had control over the property seen below, and she carefully thought out to whom she would leave it.

Bequests of silver, candlesticks, textiles, and other items to Alexander Unton.

Elizabeth thoughtfully bequeathed her most valuable possessions to her children.

1. Alexander:

  • “the great palett with all thinges thereto belonging”
  • “a Chaffingdishe of silver”
  • “twoo candelsticks of silver”

    Example of a 16th-century chafing dish.
  • “a diap table Clothe”
  • “a Cupbord clothe of diapre”
  • “vj napkyns of diapre”
  • “all the hanging of my hall”
  • “the hanginges of the parlour”
  • “then hanging of the Chamber over the hall”
  • “my silver bason wt an Ewer of silver”
  • “my twoo silver saltes gilte”

2. Anne Vampage:

  • “twoo gownes”
  • “twoo kirtells of Satten”
  • “a velvet bonnett”

3. Thomas:

  • “the bedde in the parlour with all thinges therunto apperteynying”
  • Example of a 16th-century bed.

    “thre fetherbeddes and all the mattreses unbequethed wt there appurtenances”

  • “all my plate”
  • “all my Carpettes and Cusshens”
  • “an other silver bason wt an Ewer”
  • “other twoo silver saltes gilt”

4. Edith “doughter Unton:”

  • one cushion

Elizabeth’s most valuable items included textiles like gowns, napkins, tablecloths, wall hangings, and cushions, and silver pieces like salts, ewers, and basins. In order to distinguish some of her possessions, Elizabeth noted where they were located within Wadley Hall, the house and estate left to Elizabeth by Sir Thomas. This is particularly wonderful because it gives me an idea about the layout of the house. There was a hall, a parlor where a bed (likely the best bed) stood, and a chamber over the hall. The house most likely had more rooms, and by the time her great grandson owned the house, it contained 59 rooms.

Bequests: Animals, Implements, and Crops

Elizabeth also left farm animals, implements, and crops to her children.

1. Alexander:

  • “fyve hundred Shepe after they be shorne”
  • “viij oxen”
  • “a plowe wt (with) all things therto Belonging”
  • “fourty beasts that were bred since my husbond dyed”
  • all my Swyne pigges and pecockes

2. Anne Vampage:

  • “tenne Rames after they be shorn”
  • “my hakny horss”

3. Thomas:

  • “fyve hundreth ewes wt lambs”
  • “tenne hundreth wethers” (rams)
  • “xxxti Rammes after they be shorne”
  •  “viij oxen”
  •  “a plowgh wt thappurtenances”
  •  “all my carte and my Carte horsses with there appurtenances”
  • “fourty kyne wt there calves”
  • “tenne steres”
  • “all my whete and malt wt other graynes shall remayne to thuse and mayntennce of my house”

4. Alexander and Thomas:

  • “all my blades and Corne now in the feldes sowen”

Bequests: Relatives, Friends, and Servants

Elizabeth also left possessions and animals to her relations, servants, and other people who are likely other servants, tenants, or friends.

1. She left 6 shillings 8 pence to each of her servants who carried her body to Faringdon Church to be buried.

2. “my men servants and my sonns servants”

  • “blak cotes”

3. Annes Badham: (unknown)

  • “a kowe”

4. Mawde, Jane, and Annes: servants

  • each “a kowe”

5. Dorothe Doram: (unknown)

  • “a gowne of Clothe”
  • “a gowne of Say”
  • “a kirtell of tawnye Satten”
  • “a velveet bonnet”
  • “a Blak frontlet”
  • “a score of shepe after they be shorne”
  • “two kyne”

6. Thomas Richards: (unknown)

  • “one holding in Throppe wtout paying therfor any fyne”
  • “a score shepe after they be shorn”
  • “two kyne”

7. Rauf Harper: (unknown)

  • “twoo kyne”
  • “a mattre”
  • “twoo paire of Canvas shets”
  • “a white Coverlet”
  • “a score shepe after they Be shorne”

8. Henry Pimperloo: (unknown)

  • “a mattres”
  • a coverlet
  • a bolster
  • “a paire of shetes”
  • “two kyne”

9. Thomas Wordaine: (unknown)

  • “a score of shepe after they be shorne”

10. William Badnall: (unknown)

  • “thirtye shepe after they be shorne”

11. Thomas Dybley: (unknown)

  • “thirty shepe after they be shorne”

12. “Maistres” Hulcott: (unknown)

  • “a blak gowne”

13. Sir Nicolas and to Sir Thomas: (unknown)

  • “eche of them a blak gowne”

14. Thomas Cockes: nephew

  • “thirty shepe after they be shorne”

15. Robert Cooke: nephew

  • “twenty shepe after they be shorne”

16. Her sons and daughters, sons and daughters in law, brothers and sisters, sisters in law, nephew Cooke and his wife:

  • “blak gowns”

At some point, I would like to do extra research to determine who the unidentified people were and how they were connected to Elizabeth.

Her bequests also show the scale of farming at the Wadley Hall estate. As can be seen, the Untons main source of revenue was wool.

  • Sheep: 1,190 (plus lambs)
  • Rams: 1,040
  • Unidentified “beastes:” 40
  • Cows: 52 (pkus calves)
  • Steers: 10
  • Oxen: 16
  • Horse: 1, unspecified number of cart horses
  • Swine and pigs: unspecified number
  • Peacocks: unspecified number

Bequests: Church and Charity

All Saints Church, Faringdon, Berkshire.

Not only did Elizabeth leave possessions, animals, and other valuable items to her children, relatives, friends, and servants, but like a good, wealthy, Tudor woman, she also made numerous bequests and donations to the local Faringdon Church and poor people living within the parish. It was also customary people of means to request family or priests to pray for their souls and the souls of close family members.

1. Faringdon Church

  • Body to be buried in Trinity Chapel next to her husband.
  • 2 shillings to the high altar.
  • 3 shillings 4 pence to maintain the bells.
  • 20 pounds “bestowed for the newe making of seets in the Ile where my husbonde lyeth.”
  • “myn executours shall fynde a preest to pray for my soule my husbande soule and all xpen soules by the space of fyve yeres and to geve him yerely for his salary sex poundes.”

2. Parish Poor

  • 20 pounds “bestowed in Almes amonge pour people.”
  • “twenty nobilles to be gevyn to the pour people of Ffaryingdon wtin the space of fower yeres that is to sey every yere xxxiij s iiijd.”
  • “to pour people abrode in the Country in almes at tymes convenient by the space of fyve yeres thurtye pounde.”

3. General Charity

  • “myne executours shall sell my Cheyne of gold and to bestowe the money therof in deades of charitie as they shall thinke best for the welthe of my soule.”


I really enjoyed getting to know my ancestress, Dame Elizabeth Unton, a little bit better this week. Her will was well organized and specific, which suggests that she was detail oriented and wanted to ensure that her valued possessions and farm accoutrements went to the appropriate people. She also seemed to enjoy beautiful clothing and fine furnishings, but she was also generous to those less fortunate than herself. Elizabeth’s will offers some tantalizing glimpses into the life of a Tudor-era woman, and I am excited to continue to research her!

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Heirloom

The brooch!

One of my favorite family heirlooms, a beautiful little brooch, has an interesting story attached to it. My grandmother gave this brooch to my mom years ago, but she did not know anything about the brooch’s origins. She found the brooch among my great-great grandmother Jessie Robinson’s possessions after her death in 1966. It is definitely an old piece of jewelry, and although my grandmother knew it was probably significant to Jessie, she had no particular attachment to it. My mom never wore the brooch because the clasp on the back is not very secure, so it sat untouched in a drawer for a long time.

Several years ago, mom was telling me the history behind some other pieces of jewelry, when she saw the brooch and showed it to me. The metal is brass, and it has some beautiful filigree work around the edges. The center of the brooch is a pink stone and a white cameo of a woman with curly hair piled on the top of her head and a ruff around her neck. The brooch is 2 inches long and 3/4 of an inch at its widest. I remember thinking how beautiful and dainty it was and wishing that we knew who it belonged to and how old it actually was.

Cora Preston wearing the brooch.

When I began organizing and scanning family photographs, I found one of my 3rd great grandmother Cora Isabel McKelvey Preston taken by the Poole Art Company in Nashville, Tennessee in the 1880s. Cora apparently loved jewelry based on the beautiful pieces she wore in all photographs taken of her. She showed off large dangling earrings, necklaces, pendants, brooches, pins, and bracelets. In this particular photograph, she wore earrings, a large necklace, and a distinctive brooch pinned to the top of her dress. The brooch looked familiar, and upon closer examination, I realized that it was the same brooch that my mom had in her drawer!


The outline of the cameo and the decoration surrounding it can be clearly seen as well as the decorative ends of the brooch. This photograph solved several mysteries at once:

  1. The brooch belonged to my 3rd great grandmother Cora.
  2. It dates from at least the 1880s.
  3. The brooch must have been one of her favorite pieces. Or, it was her daughter Jessie’s favorite piece of her mother’s jewelry.

I can’t believe how lucky I was to be able to identify the owner and the age of a piece of jewelry from a 130 year old photograph! This experience taught me that taking notice of the smallest details can make all the difference, and now that small brooch is one of my most treasured family heirlooms.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day! In the spirit of today, below is an image of a romantic letter received by my 2nd great grandmother, Jessie Preston Robinson, from an unknown sender in June 1893. She was 17 years old and had just graduated from Fogg High School in Nashville, Tennessee. Although the letter was not signed, Jessie presumably knew the identity of her secret admirer. At the end of the letter, he writes “Since ‘All the world loves a lover,’ I need not tell you who I am, but promise to be an earnest co-worker with you as I trust in you.”

Because she took the care to keep this letter, I assumed it was sent to her by her future husband, Thomas Robinson, who she knew at this point in her life. However, the following statement proved this theory incorrect: “when I recall my mother’s love story … with a man twenty-five years her senior, and could you realize her pride and gratitude – her eager confidence in superiority of age and attainment – you would feel strongly its blessed potency.”

Jessie’s soon to be husband was only three years older than her, and her admirer suggested that there was a significant age difference between them, like that between his mother and her husband. Therefore, the letter was written by someone other than Thomas. Unfortunately, that little anecdote is the only clue to his identity, and it is still a mystery!

Jessie Lois Preston Robinson in 1893, the year she received the love letter.

Throughout the letter, the admirer attempted to convince Jessie that any young lady should be very flattered to have attracted the attentions of an older man who had the means to take care of her. In his words, ” To have been loved nice truly and dearly by a great heart and expanded intellect has not been the happy destiny of many girls, perhaps greater than you or I.” He clearly thought quite highly of himself, and I do wonder if maybe Jessie thought him too full of himself, too old to be attractive to her, or a little bit of both. Even though she did not return his love and married someone else, she did keep the letter. Maybe she thought the letter was a sweet gesture or maybe it came from someone she liked, just not someone she could love.

I do not know how Jessie responded to this letter. Did she send one to him? Did she speak to him in person? It is fascinating to think how different her life would have been if she had decided to marry this older man instead of my great-great grandfather. Many details surrounding this letter have been lost, and I do not expect to ever discover the identity of the admirer. But it does provide an interesting insight into courtship, proposals, and romantic love in the late 19th-century!