Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Zachariah Story and wife Mary

The graves of my 5th-great grandparents Zachariah and Mary Story, located in the Bangall Baptist Church #1 Cemetery in Bangall, Dutchess County, New York. I have so much Long Island New York family history that one day when I get a chance I'd love to delve deeper into some of my upstate roots - I think that would be fascinating. Zachariah was actually born near Charleston, South Carolina around 1732, and died in Stanfordville, Dutchess County, in 1811. His wife, though, Mary, is supposed to be from the upstate area, possibly Kingston - she died in 1812.

Zachariah Story headstone - very faded and worn.

Mary Story headstone - also very faded and worn.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Daughter of the American Revolution???

I never had aspirations to belong to the Daughters of the American Revolution. A cousin of mine did/does, but I always knew better - yes, my family was here 150 years before the Revolutionary War, but the Raynors, like much of the Hempstead English settlers, were Loyalists. The DAR wouldn't touch me with a 50-foot pole.

But that was okay. The American Revolution was a pivotal moment in American history but it was only one small part in a very long, varied, storied history. My ancestors weren't Patriots. They didn't come over on the Mayflower. But they shaped American history, from those who came here in the 1600s to my great-grandfather in the 1890s. My family and I are still shaping this country today.

Enter today.

The past couple of days I've taken to looking up people from my family tree in Google News and Google Books - great-great grandpa Rudolph Stutzmann turns up in all sorts of newspaper pages AND books, as it turns out. But I already know a whole lot about Rudy - he is fascinating to me, especially in a day and age when there's a lot of distrust and resentment for big banks and big bankers, as Rudy was at the turn of the 20th century. But he might be the ancestor I know the most about. Lately I've been obsessing about finding a colonial New Amsterdam Dutch link in my family tree, and I have some brick walls that might prove fruitful if only I could break through them, so I've been plugging in all sorts of names - Whitehead Raynor turned up in the news a few times - between his estate being auctioned and his estate inventory, I've learned much more about ole' Whitey and he was fairly well off for an early 19th century fisherman - heck, he's more well off than me! - but that's an entry for another day. So far, the New Amsterdam Dutch link is still proving to be a deadend, much to my chagrin... I finally plugged in the name "Elijah Sprague." Elijah was my 5th great-grandfather, and his father was also Elijah. This is all based on other people's works and conjecture and educated guesses from my own legwork. But wouldn't you know Elijah Sprague Sr. turned up in Google Books under a book citing Patriots who served in the American Revolution...what the what? I decided to check out the DAR website itself and there he is - serving in the Albany County militia and under Captain Benjamin Hewlett. He's in the database. He is an established Patriot. And apparently he died in Canada. I knew several of his siblings had settled in Canada, but I didn't think I had a direct ancestor who had settled in Canada. The thing is, I can't PROVE my link to him. Not yet, anyway. All the names are right, but the proof, the paper link, isn't there yet. But at least now I have a name to TRY to connect to. My Raynor ancestors must be rolling in their graves!

So, I figured, if I have one possible Patriot on my line, I might have another. I have very few non-Raynor lines in that time period that I can trace, but I plugged in "William Johnson" into the DAR database, and he turned up. William Johnson is a possible 6th great grandfather of mine. It's a common name, but I know this William Johnson in the DAR database is my possible William Johnson because he had a son with an unusual name - Gilbert. And William served under Captain Peter Nostrand and Colonel Josiah Smith. Oh, I also know it's my possible William because the year he died is correct - I have a will abstract for William Johnson for 1818, which matches up. I think I am related to William Johnson through my fourth great grandfather Richard Poole. William Johnson had a grandson Richard Pool. My gut tells me they are the same person - and all the circumstantial evidence will have to be addressed in a subsequent entry - but I have no PROOF they are the same person. But it gives me something else to work on, a concrete person to try to link to.

Will I join the DAR if I can prove any of this? Eh. Maybe. But I know my cousin will be very happy. And Cousin April has found her own unexpected possible DAR connection, so even though its different people for us, maybe this is another project we can work on together! (Genealogy is much more fun when you have someone to share it with!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Great Migration Database at AmericanAncestors.org: Connecting Edward Raynor to history

I got an e-mail today from the New England Historic Genealogical Society about updates to their Great Migration database, based on the publication The Great Migration, Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635. That period of time is known as the Great Migration because immigration to Massachusetts surged in numbers - that happens to be the time period most of my early American ancestors came over, including my Raynor family, and since the new edition to the database was for immigrants with names starting with R and S, I decided to look up my immigrant ancestor, Edward Raynor.

There wasn't much there I didn't already know: from Elmsett, Suffolk, England, born about 1624, sailed from Ipswich, England on 30 April 1634 with his probable uncle Thurston Raynor and Thurston's family, settling first in Watertown, Massachusetts in 1635, Stamford, Connecticut in 1641, and Hempstead, New York in 1644. I think about Edward all the time, sailing across the Atlantic to an unknown wilderness as an orphaned 10-year-old and then being continually uprooted for the next ten years, building settlements from scratch, navigating and exploring unknown lands, dealing with the sometimes unfriendly natives. I wish I could picture it a little more clearly, what it must have been like. But after all of that, no wonder, once he came of age, he refused to follow his uncle when Thurston once again uprooted his family and moved to Southampton, and no wonder Edward's descendants were perfectly happy to stay right where they were for the next 350 years.

The profile says he was a herdsman, which I knew, and that he signed his name with a mark, which I didn't. It also said he inherited his land at Hempstead, not from his uncle, but probably from John Strickland, another original proprietor. What I found really interesting though is that the profile says that on July 4, 1656, Edward made his mark on a petition from the inhabitants of Hempstead to Governor Peter Stuyvesant of New Amsterdam (even though they were English, they were in Dutch territory and had been granted the right to settle in Hempstead by Governor Willem Kieft.) Further research says the petition claimed that because the settlers were paying a tithe to Stuyvesant, that he should reimburse them for injuries received from the Indians. I thought that was fascinating - not only because it gives another tiny glimpse into what life was like for him 350 years ago - that he was sending part of his goods and produce to the governor of New Amsterdam, but that unfriendly Indians were a worry - but it connects my personal family history to the general, well-known history of New York and America. My ancestor, who is not a historical figure to anyone not related to him, signed a petition to a well-known historical figure, Peter Stuyvesant, someone we were taught about in school. Stuyvesant was his contemporary and was someone who had a direct influence on his life. It's not a strong connection, like having actually met him, but it's a connection. Stuyvesant may have held the same piece of paper in his hand that my ancestor did. How cool is that?

If you're a member of NEHGS and have immigrant ancestors from the Great Migration, you can check and see if their profile is in the database on the organization's website, AmericanAncestors.org.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

1940 U.S. Census: New York is here!

I went onto Ancestry today and all these tiny green leaves began popping up on my family tree - and surprise, surprise, they're legitimate! If you're an Ancestry.com subscriber and you have family from New York, the New York records for the 1940 U.S. Census are now indexed and searchable by name! Definitely a pleasant surprise on what has been an otherwise stressful week! DC, Delaware, Maine, and Nevada are also searchable on Ancestry - but if you had family living in other states, be sure to check the FamilySearch website - their volunteer indexers have been unbelievable and are working at a breakneck speed; they have a lot more states than Ancestry already searchable by name. And that is all for now, because I have some 1940 census genealogy to do - off to find my grandmother, Helen Stutzmann Gorry, in a census for the very first time! :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

And the next generation comes along...

I have TOTALLY been slacking on this blog, even though there have been genealogy field trips and new records to talk about and all sorts of fun and infuriating Jacob Raynor updates, but work has been hectic and real life has been getting in the way. So there's a lot to catch up on, but today is a day when genealogy comes to life - family history is about generations past, but we collect it for generations future, and today was the start of a new generation on my mom's side of my family tree - my cousin Tina and her husband Thom celebrated the birth of their first child this morning, Lucas. Lucas is my Aunt Linda and Uncle Cliff's first grandchild, and he's the first great-grandchild of my 97-year-old grandmother, Mary Cronin Raynor. Grandma told me several times of a woman her age who has more than 40 great-grandchildren, but as of last week she kept telling me how excited she was about the birth of her first. Lucas' birth reminded me that while we can get bogged down in the papers and the facts, genealogy is about real people, but more important than that, it's about families, OUR families. So today I say: Lucas, welcome to the family! (You are being added to the tree database as we speak!) :)