Posts Tagged ‘Old Cambridge District’

Using Estate Records Online For Genealogy Purposes Hon. John McLEAN of Jackson, NY part 1

Within the past few years FamilySearch has made so many new collections available to the armchair genealogy  researcher that it is just astounding!  For those of you with Upstate New York ancestors (as well as anywhere else for that matter,) it has never been easier to look at images of original source documents that will allow you to find answers without having to rattle the bones of you deceased ancestors.

In the past few months I have been so busy going back and filling in all of that delicious data that is held in the 1855, 1875, 1892, 1905, 1915 and 1925 New York State Census returns, which are all very nicely indexed on the LDS site.  The 1865 NYS Census is there but it is not indexed (yet) however you may browse the communities where your ancestors lived and find them that way.

Lately I have been using Wills, Administrations, Guardianships and other official court records that are available online at FamilySearch.  I have always recommended going to the county of record and obtaining photocopies of the “complete” file packet for any ancestor’s estate records as they will give you some of the best answers or clues to your hardest research problems.  Actually I would still recommend this as not all of the estate files were filmed by LDS.

Battenville 1853 Washington County, NY Wall Map section

Battenville 1853 Washington County, NY Wall Map section

Abel HOWARD (c1770-1844) was my mother’s great great grandfather, born in Hebron, Connecticut and as an infant moved to Lyme, New Hampshire, ending up in the Cambridge, Greenwich and Jackson areas of Washington County, New York where he and his wife Hepsabeth (CURTIS) HOWARD (c1773-aft 1855) raised a large family of twelve children all of whom grew to adulthood and most had issue.

Abel HOWARD is buried in Battenville, a hamlet that is mostly in the town of Greenwich, but immediately across the river the cemetery is actually located in the town of Jackson.  This old cemetery was the burying ground for local families and it at one time surrounded the church building of a Reformed Dutch Church that most likely was of the Presbyterian bent as many in the community were of Scotch descendancy.  One thing that I need to do is to find the exact history of this church, its pastors and any possible church records that might exist.  I have tried sporadically to work on this but have never nailed anything down on this project yet.

Abel HOWARD is found on the 1800 and 1810 federal census in Cambridge, Washington County, NY.  He is listed in Jackson, Washington Co. in 1820, and Greenwich in the 1825 New York State census, he is also in Greenwich on the 1830 and 1840 census.  All of these listings could have been in almost exactly the same place or within a mile or so from where he is buried.  So for 40 years he is found on many census returns, however not once have we ever located him on any other type of document.

Abel HOWARD is not found on any deeds or land records of any type that we have ever found.  I have gone so far as to extract five names on each side of him on each census listing and looked up the deeds or land records of all of those people in the hopes of finding Abel’s name shown in a survey description as a bordering property owner or occupant.  No such luck.

Abel was never in any newspaper article that we have found, he never sued anyone, never was sued, and other than several family letters that we have that mention him or were written to him from the batch of kids that mostly went west, we have never found anything more about our Abel HOWARD.

As I have been at this for about 40 years and Miss Harriet Howard and her genealogist uncle Clarence HOWARD worked on him for about fifty years before I started, it is fair to say that we have beat many bushes with no positive results.

So here is my theory.  Abel HOWARD left Lyme, New Hampshire as a young man and took the road up over the mountains out of Thetford, Vermont and came down into the Rutland, VT. area (which was really the only route that he could have taken at that time period,) and somehow or other worked his way down into Washington County, NY.  This would be a fairly typical migration route.

Battenville NY 1901 Topo Map

Battenville NY 1901 Topo Map

My theory continues that he met Hepsabeth CURTIS somewhere along the way, probably in the Greenwich area, got married and started having kids.  If he was not a farmer, then the only thing that would likely have sustained a large family such as his was to have a solid job in one of the many mills on the Battenkill River that came down through this area.  Some mills are still in existence today in this community.

My lifelong research on the early “Families of the Old Cambridge District” led me to discover that the primary mills in the Battenville area were owned or operated by the McLEAN family and Daniel ANTHONY, the father of Susan B. ANTHONY (1820-1844.)  Susan would have known my Abel HOWARD, seems to me.

This leads me to the reason for this blog post.  By reading the will of Hon. John McLEAN of Jackson, it tells a lot about his immediate family and also breaks down some of the distribution of the mill property and equipment, that some day may lead me to some other type of business records somewhere that will help with our Abel HOWARD research.  Surely Abel must have lived in a mill workers tenant house that the good Judge McLEAN owned, or so I would like to think.

So what follows is a demonstration of the types of things that you will find when you transcribe estate records and why it is so important to use them in your genealogy pursuit.  Remember the McLEANs are not my kin, or not that I know of, but this sort of thing helps to build a better picture of the time period.

Folks, I have had to split this post into two parts as it is stopping my blog from working properly.  I hope that it will start working well for everyone now.  This post is continued in part 2.


Brickwall Break Through Fourth of July Weekend – Happy 4th of July!

While feeling quite patriotic for the holidays I decided to revisit one of my Revolutionary War patriot ancestors, Private Aaron HULET (1755-1835) who was a pensioner and is buried in Shaftsbury, Bennington County Vermont.

His second wife, my ancestor, was Cynthia (HOPKINS) HULET (1775-1860) and I have worked on them both for many years. Cynthia had at least two sisters, Bethia (HOPKINS) REYNOLDS and (presumed) ‘Sylvia’ (HOPKINS) PARKER, that I had previously noted were from an unknown place when they both signed an affidavit attesting to their sister Cynthia’s having been the widow of Aaron HULET.

Through the years I have left queries on many message boards and mail lists for these two sisters all to no avail.

So I decided to revisit the Revolutionary War pension file of Aaron HULET that is online at Got to tell you it pays to go back over your research and notes from time to time.

The document that the two sisters signed was written by an attorney and they both signed with their “X” and it very clearly states that I am a jerk. Well so to speak, because the one sister’s name was absolutely NOT ‘Sylvia’ as previously had read it from a quite dark microfilm image, and is very clearly “Lydia” PARKER in the online digitized scan of the document.

Not only that, and I don’t know how I ever missed this, it stated that at the time they signed the affidavit 1838, that they were both living in the Town of Jackson, Washington county, NY. Well that is embarrassing to say the least, as I am the self-appointed expert on the Families of the Old Cambridge District, which includes the now towns of Cambridge, Jackson and White Creek.

I did know that Aaron and Cynthia had been married in Foster, Providence county, Rhode Island on 28 MAR 1793, from published vital records of Foster, and the bible record in the pension file. The two sisters had attested to witnessing the marriage while living at their father, Joseph HOPKINS, in Foster in the spring of 1793.

Well needless to say this was exciting and I have been at the computer all through the holiday weekend. Did someone say there were fireworks?

So now I am putting together family records from various online secondary sources and entering all of these details into my computer database which will then provide a platform from which to go forth and do primary evidence research at Washington county, NY, Bennington county, Vermont, and Providence county Rhode Island.

I am hoping to find estate records, land records, possibly church records, as well as looking at all of the New York State censuses and Federal censuses that might shed some light on these families. I have already a fairly good picture of some of the descendants of both sisters.

I expect to find quite a lot of supporting details in various online resources in the mean time and will be looking at the USGenweb sites,,, Google Books, old maps online and dozens of other resources.

I just am amazed at how quickly one can put these family groups together now with online sources. Just remember all that is online is not necessarily proof and it all needs original records research to back it up.

The following is a transcript of the actual document that provided all of these choice clues.

State of New York
Washington County
Town of Jackson } SS.

Bethia REYNOLDS & Lydia PARKER of the Town of Jackson afore’md being duly sworn make oath and say that they are personally acquainted with Cynthia HULET, widow & relict of Aaron HULET deceased, of the Town of Shaftsbury in the County of Bennington & State of Vermont. They are sisters to the said Cynthia HULET, their maiden names were HOPKINS. In the year one thousand and seven hundred and ninety three they the said Bethiah REYNOLDS and Lydia PARKER together with their sister Cynthia HULET lived with their father Joseph HOPKINS in the town of Foster in the State of Rhode Island (the county is not now recollected) their residence was fifteen or sixteen miles from Providence in said State as they now recollect & verily believe – Some time in the spring of the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety three they the said Bethiah & Lydia were present at their fathers Joseph HOPKINS house in said town of Foster and saw their sister Cynthia married to Aron HULET aforesaid – The marriage ceremony was solemnized by one Esqr SIMMONS a justice of the peace who resided in that vicinity and they now recollect and verily believe true – these deponents are not positive what month or what day of the month the marriage took place but believe it was in the month of March, are positive that it took place in the spring of the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety three. They the said deponents have been acquainted with their said sister ever since she was married as aforesaid to the said Aaron Hulet whose widow she now is, these deponents have been informed & verily believe that the said Aaron HULET died in the month of May one thousand eight hundred and thirty five & their said sister Cynthia has remained his widow until this time & has not been married to any other person – and further these deponents saith not.

Subscribed & sworn this seventh} her
day of September 1838 before } Lydia X PARKER
me - mark
Anderson SIMPSON Justice of the }
peace } her

(next digital image) (verso?)

[affidavits of witnesses to the signatories of above, see pension file for full document]

Fun stuff.

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