I am going to cheat a little for this post and talk about one of my husband’s ancestors, Hans Michael Hold, Sr., and his involvement with the Hebron Lutheran Church. The Hebron Lutheran Church is located in Madison, Virginia, the original building built in 1740 is still standing, and the church itself is the oldest Lutheran church still in use in America.
Hans Michael Hold is the 8th great grandfather of my husband, and I have just recently researched this line and am proud to say that I have complete documentation in place from my husband to Hans Michael. This is often hard to accomplish when living far from the states where the records exist, but I have managed it this time!
Hans Michael has a very compelling story, and we are fortunate that 1) the American records are readily available 2) the church records in Germany are in tact and 3) there is a whole society dedicated to the research and preservation of the settlement where Hans Michael lived after newly arriving from Germany.
Hans Michael was baptized on 30 Dec 1696 in Stetten am Heuchelberg in Baden, Germany, the youngest child of Martin Hold and his second wife, Anna Maria Brückmann. Martin Hold died in 1710, and 7 years later, his widow, her new husband, and son Hans Michael attempted to immigrate to Pennsylvania with other Germans with the same religious convictions. However, their ship captain sold the passengers on board as indentured servants to Alexander Spottswood (a governor of Virginia) to clear his debts. Not speaking any English, the Germans, including Hans Michael and his family, were trapped.
They served out their terms of seven years at the Germanna settlement in Virginia where Spottswood ran an iron works. An amazing part of this story is that the site has been preserved and can be visited! (Put that on my list of genealogy relate sites to visit.)
Understandably, after Hans Michael finished his servitude, he moved his family to the Robinson Valley in present day Madison, Virginia. While there, Hans Michael joined the other German families in a new Lutheran congregation called Hebron. The congregation needed funds to build a church large enough to house the 274 worshipers, so in 1734, Hans Michael and two other members, Reverend Johann Caspar Stoever and Michael Smith, traveled to London, Germany, and Holland, to raise the funds. They raised the money, but Hans Michael and Stoever had an argument during the trip and Stoever died on the return journey to Virginia. The church was built in 1740 and originally measured 50 ft by 26 ft but several additions have been made to the structure over the years.
This beautiful church my husband’s ancestors helped build and where they worshiped is still an active place of worship. We are both hoping to visit the church and the area in the future. It’s always such a treat to be able to step into a place where ancestors lived and breathed; it somehow provides a special connection to them that isn’t attainable when looking at records. I think this is particularly true for this church and Hans Michael. His Lutheran faith was obviously so important to him and his family that he left Germany for it and later willing returned to Germany and London (where his future as an indentured servant was sealed) in order to provide a house for his religious community. A meaningful place to him will be a meaningful place to us.
Well…it has been a LONG time since I last wrote a blog post for 52 Ancestors. This year, like every year I suppose, has been very hectic, and some unexpected medical problems dominated the second half of 2019. So, I will be playing catch up with these prompts for a while.
Today’s topic (or rather last April’s topic) is DNA. I will confess that while I have taken the Ancestry.com DNA test (and forced the rest of my family to do so as well) and the Nat Geo test to find out my maternal haplogroup, I have not really taken advantage of DNA as much as I should have. But, from what little I have done, I have found some “new” cousins, shared and received great information and photos, and have learned about my deep roots.
I originally tested with Ancestry.com back in 2014. There have been several updates since, so over the years I have gained, lost, and regained regions. As of 2020, My ethnicity regions are: Great Britain/Northwest Europe 85%, Ireland/Scotland 12%, and Germanic Europe 3%. No surprises here, in fact this is very expected. The majority of my tree is dominated by people of English descent, with plenty of Scots and Irish, and quite a few German lines as well. In fact, I did expect the German to be a larger part of my DNA results, but some of that is probably reflected in the Great Britain/Northwest Europe category.
Over the years, I have made some great connections through the DNA feature. I met one cousin who was able to supply me with a photograph of William Althauser, one of my very favorite ancestors, as well as a deposition in which he gave an account of his life for his naturalization application. I met another cousin who helped me find William’s mother’s family in Cincinnati. I also found a DNA connection to two of my friends at work, which was pretty incredible.
So far, I have not found any big surprises or crazy stories like some people have, but honestly, I am happy just to see that the records seem to match the science.
NAT GEO Results
After taking the Ancestry.com test, I read The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes, and that inspired me to take the Nat Geo DNA test so that I could find out my maternal haplogroup. I was so curious! Which of the seven daughters would I be descended from??
The answer: none of them. Instead, I am a part of the Ulrike group, which is a subgroup of Ursula, one of the seven daughters. So, it seems I am a descendant of Ursula, but when a mutation occurred, then Ulrike was produced. My haplogroup is U4c1a, so if anyone is a part of this group, let me know! U4 is relatively rare in modern populations and is most often found in Scandinavia and the Baltic states. I have not traced anyone on my mother’s direct line to either of these areas, so this line may have migrated to Scotland or Ireland with the Vikings, which is really fun to consider.
DNA results have been fun to see and learn about, but I really do need to take advantage of the resources I have to help my genealogical research. Hopefully I will have more time this year to devote to studying DNA!
As everyone can probably see, I have used the past few days to play “catch up” with my genealogy posts! This spring has been surprisingly busy for me, and yesterday was the first day that I took some time to work on a project. Two of my project stars, Thomas Bills and Mary Collins, will also be the stars of this post!
Looking at my family tree, my ancestors either had very large families (I will call 8 or more large), or they had very small families (1 or 2 children). Very few fall in the middle ground, which to me is quite fascinating. Thomas and Mary Bills fall in the large family category, being the parents of at least 11 children that lived to adulthood. This definitely qualifies as a large family!
Who Were Thomas and Mary?
As I said earlier, Thomas and Mary are two stars of my most recent research project, and I find them particularly interesting because Thomas Bills was a Quaker and Mary Collins was not. Thomas’s paternal family were originally from Monmouth, New Jersey. In the 1760s, the Bills moved to a Quaker community in Surry County, North Carolina, and they eventually made their way to Maury and Marshall Counties, Tennessee. Thomas’s maternal family were also Quakers for many generations, but they came to North Carolina from Virginia.
Mary Collins is a bit of a mystery for me. I know almost nothing about her background except that she was not a Quaker. I have seen potential parents on other researchers’ trees, but as I have not been able to research her myself, for now, I will just leave that part of her story out. She was born in North Carolina between 1794 and 1799 (her ages are not very consistent throughout the census records).
Thomas Bills and Mary Collins became acquainted with each other while living in Surry County, and their courtship and marriage caused some ripples through the Quaker community. The younger generation of Bills were marrying men and women outside of the faith, which resulted in their dismissal. Twelve Bills cousins were dismissed between 1794 and 1816, including Thomas.
Thomas married Mary Collins on 11 Feb 1813. His bondsman was his uncle, Gersham Bills, one of his father’s younger brothers.
On 3 April 1813, Thomas was dismissed from the Deep Creek Quaker community:
Move to Tennessee
I wonder how Thomas’s parents and grandparents reacted to his marriage. Were they unhappy? Were they shocked? Were they mad? Whatever their feelings, the whole Bills clan packed up and moved to Tennessee in about 1816 or 1817. Even if his marriage was controversial, the extended family did not split up and no visible ruptures (at least, from what I can see) happened to the family.
About three years into their marriage, Mary gave birth to their first documented child: Jonathan D. Bills. Jonathan was the only child (whose name I have found) who was born in North Carolina. The next documented child, Lucinda, was born about 1817 in Tennessee. Below is the 1820 Census:
Thomas Bills is the male between 26 and 44, and Mary is one of the females between 16 and 25. One of the males under 10 is Jonathan D., and one of the females under 10 is Lucinda. So that leaves 3 people unaccounted for: 1 male under 10, 1 female under 10, and 1 female between 16 and 25. Who are these people?
This will require some more research, but the older female could be one of Thomas’s sisters or one of Mary’s sisters (if she had any). The other two children could be the other female’s children, or they could be two of Thomas and Mary’s children who were alive during 1820, but whose names I do not know. By 1830, the mystery daughter has disappeared. If they are Thomas and Mary’s children, that means Mary might have given birth to 13 children!
Ten years later, the family had grown larger:
Thomas is the male between 30 and 39, and Mary is the female between 30 and 39. Jonathan D. is the male between 10 and 14, and Lucinda is the female between 10 and 14. That leaves 1 male between 10 and 14 whose name I do not know. He is likely the same child as the one in the 1820 census under the age of 10. The new children include: Daniel and Matthew (ages 5-9), Rachel and Annie (under 5), and William J. (under 5). This leaves 1 male between 5 and 9 who is another mystery. The count now is 14 children, 3 whose names I have not been able to determine.
After another 10 years, the household has grown once more. First, the easy ones to identify: Thomas is the male between 50 and 59 and Mary is the female between 40 and 49.
The oldest son, Jonathan D., is one of the males between 20 and 29. Again, the mystery other older son is recorded, also between 20 and 29. Daniel is one of the males between 15 and 19, and the other mystery son in the same age range is also recorded. Matthew is the male between 10 and 15, and William J. is the male between 5 and 9.
The daughters are a little easier to identify. The little girl alive in 1820 never makes another appearance, so I can assume that she died early. Lucinda and Rachel are the two daughters between 20 and 29, Annie Catherine is the daughter between 10 and 14, Mary and Sarah are the females between 5 and 9, and the youngest daughter, Alsey Mahaley, is the youngest child under 5.
And here is my large family in 1850. Immediately, I spot an issue with Mary’s age. It is listed as 35 which, of course, cannot be possible. This is just a census taker error. The newest addition is John C., born in about 1842.
Some Observations – Marital Status
After combing through theses census records, what I found most interesting was how old many of the children were to still be living at home, unmarried!
The oldest son, Jonathan D., married for the first time when he was 57 in 1873.
Sadly, I lose both Lucinda and Rachel after 1850, so either they married and I haven’t found records for them, or they both died before 1860.
Daniel W. never married, and lived with his mother, brother Jonathan, and Jonathan’s wife during his adult life.
Sarah also remained single and lived with her mother and unmarried siblings.
The other children were a bit more conventional; they married in their late teens and twenties, and had children. This large family expanded some in the third generation, but not as much as might be expected.
More Observations – Naming Patterns
The Bills family were very close, and this is possibly best demonstrated by their naming patterns. Here are four generations of the family:
Daniel Bills m. Deborah Denman, whose children were:
William, Gersham, Hannah, Elizabeth, Sarah, Isaac Newton, Rachel, Patience, Daniel, Jonathan D., John
William Bills m. Susannah Hutchins (daughter of John Hutchins and Alice Stanley), whose children were:
Gersham, Daniel Baxter, Jonathan D., John, Deborah, Thomas, Mary Jane, and Alcey
Thomas Bills m. Mary Collins, whose children were:
Jonathan D., Lucinda, Rachel, Daniel W., Matthew W., Annie Catherine, William J., Sarah H., Mary J., Alsey Mahaley, and John C.
Thomas and Mary’s children were clearly named after family members. Mary J. shares a name with her mother and paternal aunt, while William J. has the same name as his paternal grandfather. Jonathan D., Daniel, and John were all named for their paternal uncles, paternal great uncles, a great grandfather, and a great-great grandfather. Alsey was likely named for her paternal aunt and her paternal great grandmother, Alice, and Rachel for her paternal great aunt. (As you can see, everyone mentioned is named for their father’s side because I don’t have the maternal line to compare. Hopefully I will make the maternal connections in the near future!)
There are so many benefits that come from researching ancestors with large families and extended kin networks. Much of a direct ancestor’s motivations, personality, and life experiences are shaped by his or her family members. Thomas and Mary’s family are a good example of this and having 14 children certainly qualifies as large. I hope to add more information to their large family’s story soon!
One of the best parts of genealogy (for me anyway) is traveling all over the U.S. and abroad to research in person! I also prefer to research locally rather than on the state level unless I have multiple counties to cover in a short trip, and in many cases, especially in the south, this means going through records at the local courthouse. While I could highlight interesting records I have found there, I instead want to highlight an ancestor who spent a lot of time at the courthouse as his position as the sheriff: Mark Washington Wimpee.
In a previous post, I introduced Mark Washington Wimpee as the father of my great great grandmother, Maud Melissa Wimpee. Mark was one of 16 children (yikes!) born to Mark Ragan and Mary Ann (Jester) Wimpee. Six of Mark’s siblings died young, and I do not know the names of any of them. His remaining siblings were: Melissa, Francis, Martha, Sarah, George, Benjamin, Cora, John, and Riley. Mark R. Wimpee was a carriage and wagon maker, and he and his large family moved around through the years, presumably as Mark R. looked for work. Around Mark W.’s birth in 1859, they were living in Polk County. In 1870, they were living in Warren County, Kentucky, and by 1880, they were living in Dirt Town, Chattooga County, Georgia. This is where he married Amanda Alice Scoggins on 13 March 1881.
Like his father, Mark W. moved his family around for better opportunities. He farmed in Chattooga County for a while, and in 1896 he purchased 160 acres near Huntsville, Alabama. By 1900, he had returned to Georgia, putting down roots in Trion where he worked as a blacksmith at the Trion Cotton Mill.
Sheriff of Chattooga County
The earliest evidence that I have found of Mark W. serving as the sheriff of Chattooga County is in a newspaper article concerning an accidental wound he sustained while sheriff. Soon after the incident, a rumor spread that the Deputy Sheriff J. W. Alexander, and one of Mark’s close friends, shot him, and to out an end of this rumor, D.S. placed the following in the newspaper:
After he placed his denial in the paper, Alexander was relieved of his position, and Sheriff Mark placed his version of the story in the paper, which was also supported by witnesses:
This conflict seems to have driven the two men apart, and in January 1914, both men announced that they were running for Sheriff:
Fortunately for Mark, he won re-election as Sheriff of Chattooga County, despite the problems between him and his former deputy and running mate.
Sheriff Mark was involved in some interesting cases during his tenure as sheriff. One concerned Frank Matthews, a Texas man who robbed the Lyerly Bank and whose trial was held at the Summerville County Courthouse. Sheriff Mark was in charge of moving Matthews from Fulton County to Chattooga County, but as can be read in the following article, somehow Matthews left the train when it pulled into Rome and Sheriff Mark failed to stop him. Matthews did arrive in Summerville for trial, but his “escape” became a point of contention during the 1914 sheriff race.
Another notable case was the Floyd-Anderson murder, and the details can be found the in following article. It seems that Mrs. Floyd and Mrs. Anderson began the argument, and it ended with William Anderson fatally shooting Rob Floyd, which he claimed was self defense.
Anderson turned himself in to Sheriff Mark, who promptly escorted him to jail. Luckily, Sheriff Mark did not lose this prisoner.
The Anderson-Floyd case was likely the last major one of Sheriff Mark’s career. Just a few weeks later, Mark was forced to resign because he was suffering from some health problems. J. W. Anderson was likely thrilled, as he became sheriff upon Mark’s resignation.
At the end of 1914, Mark was in ill health, but likely so was his wife, Amanda. She died in August of 1915 and was buried in Trion.
I have yet to locate Mark in the 1920 census, but by the late 1920s, he had remarried and was living in Mobile, Alabama. He died on 2 May 1932 in Mobile at the age of 72, leaving his second wife a middle-aged widow.
Although Mark only spent a few years as sheriff, they were quite eventful in and out of the courthouse.
Genealogy comes with many challenges, doesn’t it? There are research challenges like burned courthouse, ancestors dying intestate, reading particularly bad handwriting, and financing research trips, just to name of few. Then there are challenges that our ancestors faced like immigration, deaths of spouses and children, and war.
Another challenge that comes with the territory is reconciling family stories, newspaper reports, and other second hand information with historic documents like baptisms, immigration records, and death certificates. I came across this situation a couple of years ago when I first began to seriously research my German Althauser ancestors. I know that I have mentioned in other posts how much I love researching my German ancestry, particularly the Althausers, for a variety of reasons. At first, I think I was so drawn to them because they were such a mystery, and unlike most of my other ancestors, they immigrated in the 19th century (the majority of the others came in the 17th and 18th centuries).
This post covers multiple challenges: reconciling facts, researching in another country, and deciphering records in a foreign language. It also highlights the challenges faced by immigrants, especially since the immigrants highlighted here were a single mother and young children, none of whom spoke English.
Goodspeed’s History of Tennessee Article on William Althauser
When I began researching William, the only record I had was a short article written about William in Goodspeed’s History of Tennessee in the section on Robertson County. Goodspeed’s included a who’s who of each Tennessee County, so I was very fortunate to find William there. Here is the article:
William Althauser, foreman and book-keeper of a registered distillery, was born in 1847, in Baden, Germany, and is one of a family of five children born to Jacob and Anna (Krieg) Althauser. The father and mother were natives of Baden, Germany.
The father was a cooper by trade, and in connection did farming. He died about 1850. The mother was born in 1807, and came to North Carolina in 1852, locating in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she died in 1880.
The subject of this sketch was reared without a father’s care or training, being only three years old at his father’s death. He received his education in the schools of Cincinnati, Ohio. At the age of nineteen he commenced keeping books for S. N. Fowler, a distiller at Cincinnati, but after two years he engaged himself to Mr. Charles Nelson as book-keeper, and has proved so trusty and efficient that to compensate him for this he has been made foreman of the entire establishment, it being the largest distillery in the county.
September 25, 1873, he was married to Mary F. Swift, a native of Tennessee, born in 1847, and the daughter of Richard and Mary F. Swift. To Mr. and Mrs. Althauser have been born five children: Nathaniel L., Robert P., Anna M., William E. and James A. Garfield.
Mr. Althauser has control of the entire business, and looks carefully after the interests of his employer, and nothing is done unless under and by his personal supervision. He is a member of the German Lutheran Church, and his wife a member of the Baptist Church. In politics Mr. Althauser is a stanch Republican.
What a great starting point! At least I had some information about his background, parents’ names, and nativity as well as dates. What I was going to learn was that second hand information, especially when you don’t know where the information originated, is sometimes helpful but it can also be quite wrong.
I then turned to the census records. I knew to begin with the 1900 census because a.) he was alive and b.) that census year gives specific information about immigration. The 1900 census which listed William Althauser, his wife Mary, and their children William and James living in Robertson County, Tennessee. My family knew that he worked as the foreman for a large distillery in Robertson County, so in this case, the family story and his occupation on the census record aligned. In the census, William reported that he was born in Jan 1846 in Germany, both of his parents were born in Germany, and that he immigrated in 1851.
Goodspeed’s Article vs. 1900 Census Record
There are some major differences between the census and the article. When I first looked at these records, I assumed that William gave the information for both sources; now, I do not think this is correct.
Birth date: The article says 1847, and the census says January 1846. Not a very big difference, but a difference nonetheless.
Birth place: This wasn’t necessarily a difference, but the article narrowed the search to (what was at the time) the Grand Duchy of Baden rather than Germany as a whole.
Immigration: The census record gives his immigration year as 1851, but the article says his mother immigrated in 1852. I believe the article implies that William immigrated with his mother, but it is not very clear.
Death Certificate vs. Census vs. Article
My next step was to locate William Althauser’s death certificate. The Tennessee State Library and Archives has a list of early death certificates on the website, and not knowing exactly when William died, I checked each year until I found him in 1922. I then scrolled through the microfilm at the Archives until I found his death certificate. His son, Nathaniel, was the informant.
The death certificate gave me new information that I now had to compare with everything else I knew:
Birth date: Given as 25 January 1846, which matches the census record. So, here, the article in Goodspeed’s was likely incorrect.
Birth place: Given as Baden, Germany, which matched the Goodspeed’s article and was consistent with the census record.
Father: Nathaniel apparently did not know or could not remember the name of William’s father. According to the article, the father died in Germany when William was very small, so perhaps William did not speak very much about his father. Or perhaps Nathaniel wasn’t paying attention. The only name I had was Jacob from the article.
Mother: Nathaniel named Mary Krieg as William’s mother. This is different from the article, which states his mother was Anna Krieg. Luckily, the surnames matched, so I hoped that the surname was correct.
Passenger Lists vs. Death Certificate, Census, and Article
My next challenge was to find the immigration record. I was very worried about finding the passenger list because the earlier the passage, the harder it can be to find.
I knew that William came from Germany, he arrived in 1851 or 1852, he was likely traveling with his mother and some of his siblings, and that his mother was either Mary or Anna. The article stated she entered the country through North Carolina, which sounded odd to me, but I checked all passenger lists coming into New York, New Orleans, Massachusetts, Baltimore, and Philadelphia.
Finally, I found a passenger group that seemed to best match my William and Mary/Anna.
Immigration date: Ship Helvetia arrived in New York City harbor on 28 November 1853. 1853 is different than both 1851 and 1852, but it is close.
Immigration place: New York City, not North Carolina as stated in the article.
Place of origin: Baden, Germany, which is consistent with the census, article, and death certificate.
Mother: William’s mother’s first name is Anna, not Mary.
Mother’s age: Given as 44, which meant she was born about 1809. This is two years difference from the birth year given in the article.
William’s name and age: His name is actually Wilhelm in German, which is never referred to in documents created in America. He is 7 years old, which is consistent with the 1846 birth year.
Siblings: Here was another challenge. I couldn’t read several of William’s siblings’ names! I could read Anna, Pauline, and Wilhelm, but I struggled with his brothers’ names for a while. I later determined that the captain had written their names as Andre, Jacob, and Johann. However, there were five people who looked like they were Anna’s children, which was consistent with the article.
For several years, I was stuck at this point. I knew when William immigrated, his mother’s name, his siblings’ names, and I found him living in Cincinnati in 1860 and 1870, before he moved to Tennessee. However, I was no closer to finding out more about William’s early life and his ancestry. It makes it quite difficult when you don’t know the hometown of the immigrant.
But, after some research, I finally located William’s naturalization documents! I was beside myself with happiness because not only did they tell me where William was born, but it included his personal statement. William stated that he believed he was already naturalized because he entered the U.S. as a small child. I was incredibly fortunate that William was under the impression that he was naturalized at this time because if he had realized his mistake earlier, the documents might not have been as detailed.
Birth date: Given as 25 January 1846. Consistent with the death certificate, census record, and passenger list. At this point, I assumed the birth date was correct.
Birth place: Given as Opfingen, a small town in the Grand Duchy of Baden. This little bit of information sent my research in a very specific direction. Baden was also consistent with the passenger list, death certificate, article, and census record. This was also the piece of information I was most hoping to find!
Father: No name given, but he stated that his father died when he was three or four years old in Germany. His death in the Goodspeed’s article was given as 1850, and if William was three or four when his father died, this would be consistent.
Mother: No name given, but he stated that she, himself, and his siblings immigrated on the Helvetia in 1853 and arrived in New York City. This is all consistent with the passenger list and the Goodspeed’s article.
Requesting Records from Germany
Here was a brand new challenge for me: ordering records from Germany. Doing some initial research, I learned that in some German states, including Baden, citizens who wished to immigrate had to apply for permission. I hoped that the Althausers applied and that the documents had survived. The local archives is the Landesarchiv Baden-Wurttemburg, and the website included some of the larger record groups for each small community. To my surprise, the permission to immigrate records were listed by each individual. It is actually quite fascinating. You can see all of the families who wanted to immigrate from that community during the 19th century. Here is the entry for the Althauser family:
It reads: Immigration of the widow of Jacob Althauser, Anna Althauser, born Krieg, with her children to North America to her siblings.
Names: Jacob and Anna Althauser. The names match the ones in the Goodspeed’s article as well as the name of the mother on the passenger list. Anna is called a widow and her birth name is Krieg, both of which are consistent with the article.
Immigration application year: 1853. This is consistent with the passenger list and William’s statement in his naturalization application.
I contacted the Archives and asked if they could supply me with copies of the permission to immigrate papers. They very graciously replied yes, and after I sent the fees, they sent me digitized copies of the records. I was very proud of myself for emailing them in German and deciphering the records request forms. I had no idea that the forthcoming records would be so detailed and informative!
Translating the Documents
I now had the documents! But I couldn’t read anything. Although I have a minor in German, at the time, I could only read German written in modern day lettering. In the 19th century, German was written in Kurrent, an old style of lettering. Below is an example of the alphabet written in Kurrent.
As you can see, it is quite difficult to read, especially when the letters are written close together. Some letters are quite difficult to tell apart, particularly e, c, m, and n. My other issue was that spelling could be a bit different in the 19th century, so it was very difficult for me to not only transcribe the letters but also translate them. I am not ashamed at all to admit that I contacted someone who specializes in translating German records to transcribe the records into modern day German. What I found out caused me to have conflicting emotions. Reading the words was so heartbreaking and sad, just to think what Anna and her children went through prior to immigration. I was also so excited because I was learning new information that no one in our family knew about.
The documents revealed that Jacob and Anna Althauser were quite poor, and she and the children were relying on money from the almshouse for support. Reasons for their poverty have been discussed in other posts, so I will not rehash those here. Jacob died on 9 July 1852 at the age of 44 and was buried two days later. Anna reported that her siblings wanted her to come to the United States (they had already immigrated), and they helped pay for her passage. At the end, both Anna and her daughter Pauline signed the document. (I was so surprised that they could both write! I later discovered that they both attended school.)
The last page was one of the most important in the whole packet. It was a transcription of the church records that gave the births, death, marriage, occupation, and parents names of both Jacob and Anna as well as the births of all of their children!! I couldn’t believe my good fortune.
You can see Wilhelm at the bottom of the page. It reads Wilhelm was born on 11 January 1846.
Permission to Immigrate vs. Other Records
William’s birth date: January 11? William reported that his birth date was 25 January on his naturalization petition, and his son Nathaniel gave the same date on the death certificate. The church records, and the permission to immigrate papers, clearly state that he was born on January 11. Church records also show that he was baptized on 7 February. I am inclined to believe that the church records would be the most accurate, as it was not uncommon for people to report different dates for their birth date. But it seems strange that both William and Nathaniel would agree on the wrong date.
William’s parents: Finally, the mysteries surrounding William’s parents were solved. William’s parents were Jacob Althauser and Anna Krieg, which aligns with the Goodspeed’s article. Jacob died in 1852, not in 1850 as the article alleged. Interestingly, the article reported that the family immigrated in 1852, and that was the year of Jacob’s death. Whoever gave the information knew the essence of the story, but did not have all of the correct facts.
Parents’ birth dates: The permission documents also give the birth dates of Jacob and Anna. Jacob was born on 11 October 1807, and Anna was born on 8 February 1808. The article reported that Anna was born in 1807, which was close to her birthday, but Jacob was in fact born in 1807. Again, the article was very close, but not quite accurate.
Researching William Althauser was challenging for many reasons, which include:
1. Reconciling facts from a second or third hand account to facts from other records.
2. Searching for the birthplace of an immigrant.
3. Ordering records from a different country and attempting to transcribe/translate them.
This research journey has also exposed the challenges that faced the immigrants themselves, both before they left for the US, during the journey, and after they settled in the US.
I also learned a valuable lesson: continue to question records, especially if they were made in an unofficial capacity, like the Goodspeed’s article. Obviously, someone who knew William well supplied the information, but I don’t know if that person was in fact William. It is curious to me that William would state that his birth year was 1847 when he clearly reports it as 1846 in other records, that he immigrated in 1852 when he reported 1853 on his naturalization paperwork, that the family entered the US through North Carolina rather than New York City, and that his mother died in 1880 when she died in 1877. William, from what I could tell, was a very careful person, and I don’t believe he would give all of this incorrect information in the 1880s but report everything correctly (or most of it) in the 1910s.
This made me wonder if his wife, Mary, gave the information to Goodspeed’s. All the information about the present – name of his wife, their marriage date, her parents’ names, their children’s names, and their church attendance – was all correct. If Mary did supply the information, it would be reasonable that she knew the basic story but the exact dates and some locations were incorrect. These inconsistencies only helped fuel my search for the truth, and the end result was very exciting and satisfying.
I believe that the most challenging cases can turn out to be the most rewarding and even the most interesting.
Happy New Year! I am very excited to start a second year of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. I only hope that I don’t run out of ancestors or stories to tell! If anything, this project has showed me how much more research I need to do on all of my family members!
My “first” post is about my first foray into genealogy and my early discoveries that got me hooked on researching my family.
My fourth great grandparents, McCama and Margaret Robinson, had 8 children. Two died as children, one was killed in the Civil War and was unmarried, two daughters never married, and two other daughters married but never had children. This leaves only one son, Samuel, who married and had one child. Over the ensuing 115 years, each new generation produced only one child. So when I came along, I was the first girl born into the Robinson family since 1846!
This is both a fortunate and unfortunate situation. Fortunate because my parents inherited everything that belonged to the Robinson family, including the family Bible that Samuel gave to his wife Sallie on her birthday one year. Unfortunate because we don’t have any Robinson relatives on that side to the family! We have a few relatives on each of the wives’ sides, but that is it. This means we only have family stories told by my direct ancestors; nothing from brothers or sisters of any generation who might have had different stories, different opinions on family events, or different insights into the family in general.
But back to the fortunate. One of my favorite family heirlooms is the Robinson family Bible. It is quite large, heavy, with beautiful embossed leather. On the front, it is inscribed to Sallie C. Robinson for her birthday in 1875. Six generations of Robinsons are recorded in the Bible, but sadly, Samuel did not record his parents or Sallie’s. The only clue to their residence was a notation on the marriage page which said it took place at No. 63 Spruce Street in Nashville. I also have one newspaper article which announced Samuel and Sallie’s marriage. Luckily, it gave the name of her father, T.D. Cassetty, but it failed to give the name of her mother or anything about Samuel.
I knew about the existence of this Bible for many years, and no one in our family knew anything about Samuel or Sallie’s origins. So when I decided to begin researching our family, I started with Samuel and Sallie, my first brick walls.
Before I went to the archives in Nashville, I purchased an Ancestry.com subscription and searched the census records. I knew I was looking for a Samuel and Sallie Robinson in Nashville. As they were married in 1869, I began with the 1870 census. I found a “Sam and Sallie Robison” aged 34 and 28 respectively, living in a very large household. It included T.D. Cassetty, a magistrate, his wife Matilda, their five children, four borders, and five domestic servants. At first, I remember being really discouraged. By 1870, Samuel should have been 38 and Sallie 29, and Robinson was spelled incorrectly. Did I have the right people? The names and ages were close but not perfect. After reaching out to a fellow Cassetty researcher, I learned that ages were often wildly incorrect and names depended on what the census taker heard. That was my first lesson: historical records are not always perfect.
After I got over my initial hesitation, I couldn’t believe my luck! Not only did I find Sam and Sallie, but they were living in the same house as T.D. Cassetty, who was named as Sallie’s father in the marriage announcement. I was pretty sure that I found Sallie’s parents, but more information about them would take more research.
Ecstatic, I then searched the 1880 census for Sallie and Samuel. I found them living in Nashville with their 7 year old son in the house of a dry goods merchant. I later learned that Samuel never bought property; instead he moved from place to place, always renting.
The census records also told me something none of my family knew: Samuel Robinson was a printer. This was a huge discovery because my father and grandfather both owned printing companies, but neither of them knew that families members were involved in printing in the 19th century!
Sadly, Sallie died in 1886 and Samuel in 1891, so my census research could not go any farther into the future. At the time, Samuel remained a brick wall, but I did find Sallie living with her parents in the 1850-1860 censuses.
Another major research first came soon after: my first visit to the archives. I spent a day at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, which was only 30 minutes from my house, trying to find as much information about Samuel, Sallie, and the Cassettys as I could. The TSLA staff were so kind and helpful, that by the end, I had more information than I knew what to do with. I remember struggling to make the microfilm machines work, using the reference guides to find newspapers and death records, and pouring over the records to located their names. That day I found:
Death notices for Samuel, Sallie, and Sallie’s parents
City death records for Samuel, Sallie, and Sallie’s parents
Nashville City Directories that gave their addresses during their residence in Nashville.
I remember going home that night just so excited about what I had found out about the Robinsons. After that, I was completely hooked. I had to know more and more! To this day, the Robinsons hold a special place in my heart as the first part of my family that I researched. I was so inspired by my research that I later used Samuel’s grandmother, Ann Dixon, as the focus of my Master’s thesis. I think it is fair to say that genealogy changed my life and set me on my current career path. So cheers to a new year, and I hope I experience many more “firsts” in the year to come.
Matilda Apple Cassetty is one of my ancestors with whom I am quite fascinated, and yet I can’t really say why that is. Possibly, it is because I know so little about her, despite the fact that I know an overwhelming amount about her husband and her son-in-law (both are also my ancestors). One of the few things that I know about her falls into the “nice” category, and that event I will of course expound upon in this post. But I also want to use this post as an opportunity to lay out what I know about her, what I wish I knew, and my theories as to her parentage.
Ancestry and Parentage
Matilda Apple was born about 1823 in either Jackson or Smith County, Tennessee. Jackson County suffered several courthouse fires, which is also incredibly frustrating for a genealogist, but much of Smith County’s records are in tact. This is what makes determining Matilda’s parents so difficult. I do know that she was married by the 1840 census to Thomas D. Cassetty, and they began their married life in Jackson County. The first census shows that Matilda is the young woman between 14 and 19 living in the household with T. D., who is between the ages of 20 and 29. Matilda must have married by the age of 17, if not slightly younger. No children were recorded in the house, indicating that they were likely newly married.
The marriage records for both Jackson and Smith County begin late, so as far as I know, no record of marriage for T.D. and Matilda exists. However, I know that they were married from other sources like newspaper articles. Three of Matilda and T. D.’s children’s deaths were recorded by death certificates, and all three children give Matilda’s maiden name as Apple, as does a Who’s Who article about their son William Martin Cassetty. He was most likely the supplier of the information, and it is reasonable that he knew his mother’s maiden name.
So I know Matilda’s maiden name, approximate birth year and place of birth, but who are her parents? There were several Apple families living in the Jackson/Smith/Putnam County region of Tennessee during the 1830s-1850s, and all of them could trace their lineage back to Daniel Apple and Barbara Spoon. Several of their sons, including David Apple, George Washington Apple, and Daniel Apple Jr., migrated to Jackson and Smith County, Tennessee. All three brothers can be seen on the 1830 census in Tennessee:
Males: 2 under 5, 1 5-9, 2 10-14, 2 15-19, 2 40-49 (one must be David)
Females: 1 under 5, 2 5-9, 2 10-14, 1 15-19, 1 20-29 (2nd wife Mary Thackson)
Females: 2 under 5, 1 5-9, 1 10-14, 1 30-39 (wife Mary McDonald)
Daniel Apple Jr.
Males: 1 under 5, 3 5-9, 1 10-14, 1 30-39 (Daniel Apple Jr.)
Females: 3 15-19, 1 40-49
In 1830, Matilda was 7 years old and would be noted in the Females 5-9 column. Of the three brothers, only David and George have daughters between the age of 5-9. I can therefore eliminated Daniel Jr. as Matilda’s father.
George Washington Apple’s two daughters under 5 are undoubtedly Celina (born 1828) and Barbara (born 1830) who are recorded with their parents in the 1850 census in Jackson County. I don’t know for a fact that the other two females aren’t Matilda, but it seems likely they are not based on information from other family members. The older daughter is likely Elizabeth Apple who married a Holford, and the other is Eliza Jane who married George Ridley Holleman. It seems all the females in this household have been accounted for.
That leaves the household of David Apple. David had three sons with his first wife: Milton (born 1805), Anthony (born 1808), and Madison (born 1815) and at least two unknown daughters who were under 10 in the 1820 census. He married for a second time to Mary Thackson after the 1820 census, with whom he had at least 6 children 1830 and after, as well as one son, Jackson Carroll Apple (a Tennessee Senator whose parents are named in the Biographical Dictionary) born in 1825. This leaves several sons and at least 6 daughters in the 1830 census unaccounted for (the other children appear in the 1850 census). The two oldest are likely the two daughters found in the 1820 census. One of the unknown daughters of David and his second wife was a daughter between the ages of 5 and 9, the correct age for Matilda.
There are two other documents that I have found that support the idea that Matilda was a very close relative of David Apple and likely of Anthony Apple, David’s middle son by his first wife: 2 deeds between them and Matilda’s husband, T.D. Cassetty.
On 15 December 1842, Anthony Apple sold to T. D. Cassetty of Jackson County 50 acres of land in Smith County that also touched Anthony’s land. It would make sense that a young T.D. might purchase land from one of his wife’s relatives, especially early in the marriage.
The second document was a deed of trust written on 30 September 1843 and was made between Thomas D. Cassetty and David Apple. It reads:
I have this day bargained sold and by these presents do convey unto David Apple of the County of Putnam the following property to wit three feather beds steads & furniture one Beauro one press one folding leaf table one dressing table two trunks one clock house hold & kitchen furniture one shot gun two cows & calves one yoke of oxen one horse one mares saddle also one tract of land in district No 16 in Smith County lying on both sides of the Walton Road …to have and to hold to the agoresaid David Apple and his heirs forever Now this deed is made to secure tohe said Apple in the payment of two debts for which he is security for the undersigned one to the Bank of Tennessee for seventy two dollars one to the Academy at Gainsboro for two hundrend and seven dollars. Now if the undersigned shall well and truly pay said sums of money to the said Apple on or before the first day October 1844 then this deed shall be void and of no effect or otherwise the same shall remain in full force and virtue….
Thos D. Cassetty
It is very probable that T.D. approached his father-in-law to be a security for his debts, especially if T.D. couldn’t repay the debts, all of his possessions would go to the father-in-law who would be inclined to return them. Deeds of trust were often made between close family members who wouldn’t take advantage of the ones who owed money.
To me, this is pretty compelling evidence that Anthony was Matilda’s older half brother and David Apple was Matilda’s father.
Two other small pieces of evidence also indicate that David Apple and Mary Thackson Apple were Matilda’s parents. The oldest child, Sarah (my ancestor), was named for T.D.’s mother Sarah, but the second child, Mary, was likely named for Matilda’s mother. If Mary was indeed her mother’s name, then Mary Thackson Apple is a perfect candidate. Even more telling is the fact that T.D. and Matilda named their oldest son David, indicating that either Matilda’s father was David Apple.
The deeds, census records, deeds, and naming patterns all seem to point to David and Mary Thackson as the parents of Matilda Apple.
As a side note, Matilda’s Apple family was of German extraction. Both Matilda’s grandparents, Daniel Apple and Barbara Loffel (Spoon) were from German families. Daniel Apple’s father was an immigrant from the small town of Usenborn, Wetteraukreis, Hessen, Germany, northeast of Frankfurt. He was naturalized with his father and brother in Alsace Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania in 1761.
Now it is time to tell about the one story I know of Matilda and why it was “nice.”
Matilda and T.D. Cassetty had eight children: Sarah or Sallie, Mary, David, John, William Martin, James Tecumpsah, Sidney, and Olepta. In 1856, T.D. moved the family to Nashville, where he was a successful Justice of the Peace for many years. He was well-known in the city, was often in the newspaper, and was very involved in fraternal societies including the Sons of Temperance (even though that did not dissuade him from occasional public intoxication). The family lived in a very nice house on Spruce Street, employed servants, and allowed Tennessee senators and congressmen to board periodically with them.
In 1869, the oldest daughter, Sallie, married Samuel D. Robinson, a typographer and Civil War veteran who knew her father through the Sons of Temperance. Sallie and Samuel might have also met through another means. In 1870, Edward “Ned” Apple was living with Matilda, T.D., Sallie, and her new husband Samuel in Nashville. Ned was the son of George Washington Apple, Jr., the son of George Washington Apple, Sr., that would make GW Jr. Matilda’s first cousin and Ned her first cousin once removed. Presumably, Ned had been sent to live with his cousins in Nashville so that he could attend the Tennessee School for the Blind, which was run by Samuel Robinson’s sister, Elizabeth Sturdivant, and brother-in-law, John M. Sturdivant. It is not clear how long Ned had been living with the Cassettys. If he had been sent prior to 1870, somehow the Blind School connection might have been how Sallie and Samuel met.
Eventually, Samuel and Sallie moved out of her parents’ home. Sallie gave birth to only one child, a son, Thomas, in 1873. She died of a stomach tumor in 1886.
Thomas’s father, Samuel, only lived until 1891, when he suddenly died of pneumonia. Thomas was only 18 years old, no longer a child, but as he had just finished high school, it would have benefited him greatly if his father had lived longer to help him with work. To make matters more difficult, Samuel never purchased property in Nashville. Instead, he, Sallie, and Thomas moved frequently and rented apartments. So when he died, Thomas had no income and no ability to pay rent.
This is when his widowed grandmother, Matilda, swept in and took care of him. She offered for him to live with her at her home on Line Street, and his uncle William offered him a job as a clerk at the Cassetty Oil Company. Matilda, who had lost her husband a couple of years earlier, was probably glad to have her grandson live with her. Her kindness probably made a big impression on Thomas.
Sadly, Matilda did not live long after Samuel’s death. She died of a heart attack on 13 October 1893 and was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville next to T.D. and several of her children.
Though I know very little about her personal life, Matilda must have had a kind heart, particularly when it came to her relatives. She brought her blind cousin into her home so that he could attend a prestigious school for the blind in Tennessee. She also took in her grandson who had lost both parents and the only grandfather he ever knew (T.D.) within the space of five years. I truly believe that without help from his grandmother and uncle, Thomas would have had a very different, and certainly more difficult, life.
I could place quite a few ancestors in the “naughty” category, but for this post I am going to highlight two of them who were particularly naughty: Cornelius Daugherty and his eventual wife, Mary Lynch.
I know very little about either Cornelius or Mary’s backgrounds. Cornelius was likely a part of the Daugherty family who migrated from Ireland to Augusta County, Virginia and eventually moved to Kentucky and Tennessee. He was born between 1790 and 1799 and died between the 1840 and 1850 census. I know nothing about Mary Lynch’s parentage. She was born about 1804 in either Virginia or Tennessee and died between the 1870 and 1880 census.
The first, and by far most interesting, record I have of Cornelius and Mary is a legislative petition submitted by Margaret S. Hamilton Daugherty, Cornelius’s first wife. Cornelius and Margaret were married before 1827, when she applied to the Tennessee legislature to obtain a divorce from Cornelius. In the petition, Margaret accused Cornelius not only of being a habitual drunk, but also of having an extramarital affair with a woman named Mary Lynch. Her petition contained the signatures of 13 men who supported her claims. Poor Margaret!
I am assuming that she obtained her divorce. As early marriage records of Overton County are missing due to a courthouse fire, I do not know if Cornelius and Mary made their relationship legal or not. In 1830 and 1840, Cornelius headed households where he was the male between 30 and 39 and 40 and 49 respectively, and Mary was the female between 20 and 29 and 30 and 39. The unnamed children in the household in 1830 and 1840 may have been Cornelius’s children from his marriage with Margaret (I don’t know if they had children or not), children that Cornelius and Mary had while Cornelius was still married to Margaret, and/or children Cornelius and Mary had after their marriage or in their ensuing relationship.
By the 1850 census, Cornelius had died possibly due to his hard living lifestyle, and Mary Lynch, listed as Mary Daugherty, aged 57, was living with five other girls. I assume they were all her daughters: Lucinda (24), Emily (16), Mary (13), Martha (13), and Vianah (10) Daugherty. I do know for a fact that both Mary and Martha were the daughters of Cornelius and Mary, and they parents are both named on each of the daughters’ death certificates. Emily and Vianah are also close in age to Mary and Martha, so I am assuming that their parents are also Cornelius and Mary. Lucinda, though 8 years older than Emily, also shared the last name Daugherty, and she was born in 1838, more than 10 years after the divorce petition of Margaret Daugherty. Lucinda, therefore, was likely not a child of Margaret’s. As the family used the surname Daugherty, I am assuming that after Cornelius’s divorce from Margaret, he and Mary Lynch were in fact legally married.
Sadly, I have not found out what happened to Cornelius’s daughters Emily or Vianah, but both Mary and Martha (my ancestor) married, had children, and lived long lives. Lucinda seemed to go the way of her mother. She also had an extramarital relationship in her early 20s which produced a son, John. The father is still unknown. In the 1870 census, she is recorded living with her mother, Mary, in Overton County. Mary disappears from records after this time.
I would say that Cornelius and Mary were definitely naughty considering the lives they led and they way they went about beginning their family!
My 4th great grandparents, Washington Preston (the subject of my bearded post) and his wife Rachel (Jordan) Preston, lived in a big, beautiful house in Marietta, Ohio, which they purchased as early as 1881. As I have not been to Marietta myself, I do not know if the house is still standing, but I certainly hope it is!
I have a few pictures of just the house, as well as others taken of family members with the house in the background. In fact, the photograph I used for the bearded post is of Washington, but you can see the house behind him. Two of the photographs of just the house show it in the wintertime. The ground is blanketed with snow, and the roof clearly shows that snow had settled there as well. Below is my favorite of the two photographs:
Doesn’t it look just like a postcard? Snow-covered trees, a shoveled walkway, and snow a foot or so deep.
Although I do not know what the house looked like on the inside, the photo of the exterior of the house provides some clues as to what life was like for the family living here. The house sat back off the road, surrounded by trees with a large lawn in the front and back of the house. The backyard had at least one swing which could be viewed from the two story wrap around porch.
The house was at least two full stories, and it possibly contained an attic and a basement. The house had at least four large rooms on each floor and a large downstairs and upstairs hallway. The home was heated with probably four fireplaces. Two chimneys can be seen rising from the roof, and at least 2 fireplaces, one on the first story and one on the second story, would be attached to each chimney.
This large house was perfect for the family reunions that Washington and Rachel held periodically. Their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren would travel from as far away as Nashville by train to visit with each other. These visits were often documented with family snapshots. This picture of the house is likely from one of the visits to the grandparents’ house.
When Rachel Preston died in 1912, the house passed to her unmarried daughters, Dr. Anna Preston and Nora Preston. The sisters lived in the house until their deaths. After that time, I am not sure what happened to the property. That is something for me to find out when I go to Ohio for research!
Whether the house is still standing or if it is no longer there, I am very grateful that I have this beautiful snapshot of my ancestors’ house on a snowy, Ohio day.