I found this in the Sunday paper a few weeks back and had to laugh. Haven’t you come across an odd family name once or twice and wondered where on earth did they come up with that one ?!?!?
10 Sep 2014 …. It’s genealogy road trip time again!! September 10, 2014
Yep, it’s time to hit the road again for more genealogy fun. Every other year I drive up north from Sunny, hot and uber humid Orlando to enjoy the cooler fall weather of Connecticut and Rhode Island.
So what’s on the agenda this year? Well, I thought I’d through out a few sites I’m planning on visiting and see if anyone has any suggestions of Wells, Rogers, Crandall, Stillman, etc, family sites to see.
In Rhode Island:
Visit Oak Grove Cemetery in Ashaway. Time to do my check on the Wells family plot. I’m pretty sure my grandparents stones are in need of a cleaning.
Visit the Thompson Wells Lot in Hopkinton. Believe it or not, there are no photos on findagrave.com of this small cemetery, so I’ll stop by and snap a few pics of all the stones. It’s small so shouldn’t take long.
Head through the woods to the Wells Lot where Randall Wells and Lois Maxson are buried. It’s a fun hike through some treacherous underbrush, but I have a strong connection to those two grandparents seeing as they’re characters in my novels. Besides, I heard the land the cem is on has changed hands. Need to make sure the bulldozers aren’t on stand by …
I’m also planning on doing some hiking in Hopkinton on the Nature Conservancy trails up to Long Pond. Absolutely beautiful trails to the most scenic spot in Hopkinton. I’m thinking about going to Newport and wandering around as well. I’ve driven through but have never really walked the town.
Visit the New London County Historical Society Library to see what goodies I can find. Found tons of great stuff on the Rogers family last time.
Visit Cedar Grove Cemetery. I got a message through findagrave.com that my entry for Moses Rogers was in error and he isn’t buried there. thought I might go take me a looksy and see what Rogers are there.
Visit the Brown-Randall Cemetery in North Stonington. Again, no photos on findagrave.com. Lots of really old Randall stones.
Revisit the Burdick-Culver Cemetery in the Barn Island sanctuary over in Stonington. Was a fun and easy hike to a lovely cemetery. If I have time, I’ll squeeze it in.
There’s a Rogers Burying Ground in Salem I’d like to see. No photos or map on Findagrave.com All it says is it’s off of 82 about 1500 feet. Gee, what a help… Anyone know where it is?
I may also stop by the Rogers Cemetery at Mamacock Farm down on the grounds of Connecticut College.
I’ll also be doing a lot of wandering around Mystic and of course Stonington. Since my third novel, the one about the Rogers family, mostly takes place in Stonington, I’m excited to revisit the town that inspired my writing journey.
So far, that’s all I’ve got.
So, got any suggestions.
3 Aug 2014: The Rogers family … Truth in fiction August 3, 2014
So I thought I’d share a snippet from my third novel, the one that delves into the history of the Rogers family. For those of you who don’t know, I have written a series of five novels that interweave my true family history in with the story of my fictional characters. This snippet is from The Purity of Blood Volume III: The Blood that Binds and is available for sale on Amazon.com. I will advise that if you’re interested in reading more, the books are all sequels and just reading the third book will be mighty confusing as you pick right up in the middle of the story.
In this snippet, Sara (my protagonist) is telling her brother about the Rogers family history. For reasons you’ll have to read the book to find out, the current descendants of the family are very much involved in Sara’s brother’s life. His name is Roger (just to confuse you more :-) This part of the book is meant to give the reader the proper perspective on the Rogers family as later on we introduce the story you never knew about the family, the story I make up for the book. Anyway, I hope you enjoy.
When I finished around four, I headed back to the house and as I came up the front steps found Roger sitting on the porch. Sliding down into the chair next to him, I asked if he’d been waiting for me. He laughed and said no, but by the guilty look in his eyes I wasn’t so sure I believed him.
After a minute of watching the cars go by, he said “When I first met Henry, he asked me how I got interested in maritime history so I mentioned our uncles, the Rogers’ brothers who were whalers. I was wondering, what else do you know about that family, the Rogers family.”
I glanced his way with a raised eyebrow. It was an unusual question coming from Roger who’d never shown much interest in my research before.
“Quite a bit. What do you want to know?”
“I don’t know. They lived around here, didn’t they?”
“Yes, for the most part. The Rogers family moved to New London County back about the mid 1600’s when James Rogers came down to work the Old Towne Mill in New London. The mill’s still there, if you’re interested. Believe it or not it’s directly under Interstate 95, just north of the city and south of Connecticut College.”
“It’s still there? That’s a pretty old mill.”
“Well, it’s been rebuilt a time or two, but I’m pretty sure it’s basically about the same. Anyway the more interesting family history comes from his son John. John founded a religious movement in the area that continued for a few generations after him.”
“Like a cult?”
“No, more like a real Bible believing church from what I can tell. Anyway, from what I’ve read John was a gentleman farmer sort of guy with a wife and son. Then one day he saw the light. Like he had this religious revelation or something. I think in today’s terminology we’d say he was saved. I think he realized that God can’t be contained in a building or by rules created by a church established here on earth. He realized God is in His word and that His church on earth should be established as set forth in the Bible.
“The church that people attended back in his day was different. It defined a lot of who you were – your status in society, and it had odd rules that were created by men to control the behaviors of its parishioners. I think when he realized that what was being imposed on them had nothing to do with what God had intended His church to be, he rebelled. He spoke up and tried to make others see what he’d been shown by God.
“I have to say of all our ancestors, he’s probably one of the ones I wish I could have met the most. He must have been a fascinating individual. Anyway, his father-in-law was appalled at what John was doing. He took him to court and had his daughter divorce him on the grounds that he was a heretic. It will tell you something about what John was fighting against that the town granted his wife the divorce and she left him and took their son along with her.
“John had a lot of woes in his life. Lucky for him, he was already a pretty wealthy man when all this was happening. I guess he could afford to support himself on his farm. I think they must have been pretty self-sufficient because I don’t think many of the town’s folk would have associated with him too much after all this.
“So eventually he married for a second time, but it didn’t take long before the town moved against him again. You see, he never stopped organizing little protests against the church. John had a following now and became a continual thorn in their side. He’d send women into the church services to do something radical like knit in the back row. It would cause an up roar and the women were kicked out of the church. People weren’t allowed to do anything on the Sabbath, not even knit. These were some of the man-made rules the church imposed that he would protest against.
“Some time later, the town went to his second wife and told her that she was never legally married to John, that in the eyes of God, he was still married to his first wife, and that if she didn’t admit that they were living in sin and leave him, well, let’s just say there’d be consequences. I’m sorry to say, she caved in to their threats and left him. Poor guy, when he’d married her, he’d taken her into a town meeting, walked up to the front of the assembly and announced in front of the entire town that they’d been married. He threw it out there on day one to make sure something like this would never happen, but it did.
“I think they thought he’d give up eventually, that they could wear him down, but he just kept chugging along. Eventually, they locked him up. Not that it was the first time they’d done that. He’d been locked up and fined who knows how many times. But his son, John Junior, that was his son by the first wife, the one who’d left him, had come back to live with his father when he came of age. Well, John Junior got wind that the town leaders wanted to execute his father. So he went and broke him out of jail in New London and sent him across the Sound in a boat in the dead of night. While hiding out there, he met another woman. They later married and stayed together for the rest of their days.
“Eventually, he came back to New London and died on his farm. He’s buried there in the family burial ground but his stone is gone. His farm was pretty large from what I could tell. Connecticut College sits on most of it now. Take note, don’t start a cemetery so close to a river. It’s on the bank of the Thames and has flooded several times. Most of the stones have washed away over the years. Only a handful remain. The students of Connecticut College did a ground penetrating radar study of the area a few years back and found at least forty burials there, but there’s only like four of five stones left. We know several names of those buried there, but like I said, there’s not much left of it now.
“John Junior kind of picked up where his father left off as the head of the Rogerenes. That’s what they were called. He led the movement until he died. We assume his son Alexander was also a member of their church because his wife Rachel was buried in the Rogerene Cemetery in Ledyard. I’ve been there too. It’s totally cool; it’s in a suburban neighborhood in these people’s back yard. How neat would it be to have an ancient burial ground in your backyard?” When he gave me a look that said only I would think that, I ignored him and continued. “Alexander was our … let’s see … I think fourth great grandfather.”
Humm … the same as Randall.
I looked over to see if he was still listening. We were way past the point where his eyes usually glazed over before he politely turned his attentions elsewhere. But to my great surprise, he was still listening, rather attentively too. Talk about strange. Since he seemed in the mood to listen, I decided to enlighten him a little more.
“Anyway, the beginning of the story actually starts a lot earlier than that. I believe it really starts in the year 1555 in London, England when John Rogers was burned at the stake by Queen Mary, better known as Bloody Mary. He was our twelfth great grandfather. She burned him alive because he wouldn’t convert to Catholicism. He was raised in an affluent catholic family in London and entered the church as a profession. He gets sent to Antwerp by the Catholic Church to be a priest and while living there ends up being converted to Protestantism by William Tyndale. They say he even helped Tyndale translate the Bible into English.
“So years later here he comes back to London and everyone is like, ‘Hey, wasn’t he catholic when he left?’ John set up a protestant church and starts to get a big following. Now there’s nothing wrong with this until Queen Mary takes over and tries to convert the country back to Catholicism. Her father, Henry the Eighth had set up the Church of England. You know, so he could get his divorces and all. So here’s poor John. He sort of stands out like a sore thumb, so Mary has him arrested. He had plenty of opportunities to recant and convert back to Catholicism, but he wouldn’t do it. In the end, she burned him to death in front of his family.
“There are some people who say the paper trail of evidence isn’t there to prove conclusively that this John was our grandfather. They may be right, but I still believe it’s true.”
“Why is that?”
“Because I believe God rewards that kind of faith, a martyr’s faith. If you look at our family line, the one consistent thing about the Rogers family is that they were all deeply religious men and women who refused to turn their backs on God. When you examine the pattern of their lives, I think it’s fairly obvious.”
“That’s an amazing story.”
“Martha Ann Rogers, the Rogers who married into the Wells family was a deeply religious woman. The Wells family was a very prosperous family in the Hopkinton community, but as much as you see them in town records, they’re all secular records. After Martha Ann married into the family, the name Wells fills the church records with a vengeance. I think Martha Ann brought her family’s blessing with her into the Wells family and that blessing continues to this day. I know I believe it’s what continually draws me back to God.”
He leaned back in the chair and looked out at the top of the lighthouse poking up from the roof of the house across the street.
“I think I understand why you’re so into genealogy now. Its history, but with such a personal view point. You can follow a family and see how they were affected by history, and how the forces of that history changed and molded the family for generations. It’s like a God point of view in a way.”
“I suppose so. It’s also being able to stand in that cemetery and know that where I’m standing was the original Rogers farm. That John himself probably stood in the exact same spot almost four hundred years ago. When I stood there myself, I had to wonder did he have any idea that all those centuries later his descendant, me, would be standing in that very spot thinking about him.”
“So you’ve really been there?”
“Sure, it’s on the river bank down by the Connecticut College sports fields. I can take you there some time if you’d like. There are lots of other cool Rogers family places like that around the area as well. Really what I’ve told you is the ancient history of the family, but I’ve got a lot more data on them. They sure were an interesting bunch. – I probably gave you a lot more information than you were looking for. Sorry about that,” I added, realizing I’d been babbling.
“Don’t be. I think it’s fascinating. I had no idea we came from that kind of stock. I wonder what the Wells family was like way back when.”
I kind of snorted and said “An ornery bunch, that’s for sure, but not that much different from us.”
“Sounds like you’ve got stories about them as well.”
“You could say that … You know you’re named after the Rogers family.”
Want to read more? check out this book and my others on Amazon.com. Just put “Jennifer Geoghan” in the search box and they all come up.
To show you how behind I am on my reading …. I finally got around to reading my New London Historical Society Newsletter for March.
In it is an interesting article on the members of the Rogers Family buried in what they call the Antientest Burial Ground. In my records I call in The Ancient Burial ground in New London. One of the interesting things they discuss in the article is how many of the dates on the headstones are incorrect.
I scanned the article. Click on the links to below to open up each of the pages ( 2 pages in all)
It’s interesting. I have to say in all my travels in the area, I’ve never visited this cemetery that I recall. I’m just now starting to prep my itinerary for my big genealogy road trip up to CT, RI, PA and NY in the fall. I may have to add this on list of places to stop by and visit.
5 July 2014: An Unusually Judgmental Census of 1880 July 5, 2014
Okay, here’s something I’ve never seen noted on a census before.
I’ve been helping someone who contacted me asking for more info on her Wells family. While poking around ancestry.com, I came across this census record that may or may not be the man in question. She thinks that the Bart Wells listed on the 1880 Census for Olive Township, Meigs County Ohio is Russell Barton Wells son of Barton Wells and Nancy Barnhart. First of all, because this Fellow is much younger than the Russell we know of as the son of Barton and Nancy, this would only make sense if they had two sons names Russell. This could be true. I have no info on the “first” Russell beyond two census records. He could have died before this one was born. Putting that aside, this census says that this Bart Wells and his brother Charles are the grandchildren of George and Julia Congrove. Unless they were Nancy Barnhart’s parents that wouldn’t make sense and since George and Julia are about the same age, well, he’s obviously not her father.
Okay, now let’s get to the really strange notation on the census ….
Next to the list of children, 6 grandchildren and one great-grandchild it says “A generation of Bastards in one house.”
Huh? That’s very judgmental for a census. I’m not sure exactly who Bart and Charles Wells are. If anyone out there knows, I’d love to hear from you.
So have you seen any strange notations on a census before? Send me your stories and I’ll post them. I’d love to get a little collection of oddities like this going. You can send them to me at email@example.com
Author of The Purity of Blood Novels. Genealogy, romance, adventure and vampires.
I’ll start with saying this story has a more or less happy ending. As with anyone who works on tracing their family history, I too hit the occasional brick wall. They can be amazing frustrating things and tend to linger on the fringes of my mind for days like some annoying song that you can’t seem to shake.
Many years ago I encountered one such wall with my father’s cousin Mary. Mary’s father Thomas and my father’s father John were brothers. I’d never heard that my father had any cousins so when I’d discovered Mary on the 1920 Census I was shocked to say the least.
1920 US Federal Census: 42 Maujer Street, Brooklyn, NY, 9 Jan 1920
Thomas Geoghan: Age 31… Born: Conn … Parents born: Scotland … Occ: Ticket Agent
Josephine Geoghan: Age 22 … Born: NY … Parents Homeland: Russia … Father: Mother Tongue: Polish … Mother: Mother Tongue: Germany
Mary Geoghan: Age 4 … Place of Birth: NY … Fathers Place of Birth: CT … Mothers Place of Birth: NY
My father’s family wasn’t of much help I’m afraid. Mary was born about 1915 and my father’s eldest sister was born in 1927 so there would have been quite an age difference in the cousins. But still ….
Mary and wife Josephine were nowhere to be found on the 1930 census. Thomas was back living with his parents, divorced. So what happened to Mary? Search as I did for a very long time, I could find no trace of her in any records. Was she alive? Had she died? All was a mystery … that is until a few weeks ago when I got an email from ancestry.com. Ever get an email with some reminders that you have “hints”? Well, I did. It for Thomas, a new census record for him.
When I opened up the record I found the 1915 New York State Census:
1915 New York State Census: Brooklyn, NY, Assembly Dist 14, Election Dist 13, Block 4 (or 11), Page 61, 137 North 7th Street
Ambrose, Kate (wife) white female age 34 … Born in German
Ambrose, Charles (head) white male age 32 … Born in Russia
Dundrowski, Starby(?) (head) white male age 42 … Born in Poland, Rus … # of years in US: 25 … Status Citizen … Occ: Steamfitter
Dundrowski, Stella (wife) white female age 35 … Born in Germany … # of years in US; 32 … Status Citizen … Occ: Housework
Dundrowski , Martha (daughter) white female age 15 … Born in US … Occ: School
Dundrowski , Frank (son) white male age 13 … Born in US … Occ: School
Geoghan, Lutta (daughter) white female age 18 … Born in US … Occ: Housework
Geoghan, Thomas (son in law) white male age 28 … Born in US … Occ: Inspector R.R.
I knew Thomas worked for the Rail road and lived in the area, so I decided to assume this was him and see where it would lead. Seeing that he was living with his in-laws, I know had his wife’s maiden name. Deciding to see if I could find this family on another Census, I found this 1925 New York State Census:
1925 New York State Census: Brooklyn, NY, Block 2, Election Dist 46, Ward X, Assembly, Dist 20, Can’t read street name but house number is 1403
Domrbowski, Starle (head) White Male Age 55, Born in Poland … Occ: Steam Fitter
Domrbowski, Stella(wife) White female age 47 … Born in Germany … Occ: Housework
Geoghan, Loretta (daughter) white female age 28 … Born in US … Occ: Clerical Work
Geoghan, Maril (granddaughter) white female age 10 … Born in US … Occ: At School
Okay, so after Thomas and his wife divorced, she seems to have moved back in with her parents. So I decided to keep looking for her parents and found them on the 1940 US Federal Census:
1940 US Federal Census: Queens, NY, SD 2, ED 41-142J, Sheet 6A, April 9, 1940
8245 133rd Avenue, Family 106
Dombrowski, Stanislov (head) Age 68 … Widowed … Born in Poland, parents born same place … Occ: Steam Fitter BMJ Retired
Klima, Loretta (daughter) Age 42 … Married … Born in NY
Klima, William (husband) Age 44 … Married … Born in NY … Occ: Machinisht Shops PW
Right father but daughter seems to have remarried if it’s the same woman. Deciding to see where she might lead, I searched again but just for this Klima family. And then I found this:
1930 US Federal Census: Brooklyn, Kings Co., NY, 433 Lincoln Avenue, ED 24-543, Sup Dist: 29, Sheet 11A, Dated April 10, 1930, Family 253
Klima, William (head) White Male Age 35 … Born in NY, Parents in Austria … Occ: Machinist in Factory
Klima, Loretta (wife) White Female Age 33 … Born in NY, Father Poland, Mother Germany … Occ: None
Klima, Mary (daughter) White Female Age 15 … Born in NY, Parents in NY … Occ: None
Huh??? Mary Klima?? Well, that’s why I could never find Dad’s cousin Mary Geoghan, they’d changed her last name to that of her step-father, Klima.
Not long after that discovery, I found this death record for Mary’s mother:
California, Death Index, 1940-1997
Name: Josephine Loretta Klima (Josephine Loretta Dombrowski)
Birth Date: 11 Nov 1897 … Birth Place: New York
Death Date: 4 Jan 1981 … Death Place: Los Angeles
Mother’s Maiden Name: Wiza … Father’s Surname: Dombrowski
This explained why she was called Loretta sometimes and Josephine others. How annoying is that!!!
Unfortunately, the next thing I found was Mary’s death record:
California, Death Index, 1940-1997
Name: Marie Theresa Rhoades [Marie Theresa Klima]
Birth Date: 15 Aug 1915 … Birth Place: New York
Death Date: 4 Sep 1993 … Death Place: Los Angeles
Mother’s Maiden Name: Dumbrowski … Father’s Surname: Klima
That’s when I decided to do something I’ve never done before. When this record came up, it gives you the option on Ancestry.com to order a copy of the original. It’s just the info above on Ancestry, no scanned image. I’ve never order a copy of a record like this from them before. Cost me about $25 but with no other info to go on, I have no idea if I have cousins in California or not. Hopefully the original record will give me some clues like where she’s buried. If so, I can contact the cemetery and funeral home for more family info.
Anyway, I thought I’d share my story to give you hope that brick walls can be toppled. So don’t give up!
Have any great brick wall stories to share? If so, I’d love to hear them :-)
UPDATE: August 2, 2014
The copy of the death certificate I ordered through Ancestry.com finally came in the mail from the state of California.
This is what I received:
I contacted the funeral home via email to see if they had any additional family details on her or her husband who died about 7 years ago. Still haven’t heard back from them so I guess I’m going to have to give them a call. Wish me luck – Jennifer
24 June 2014: An exciting day for the Stillman Family! June 24, 2014
I consider today a wonderful day for me genealogically speaking. I finally got a reply to a request I made for the photo below. Some good folks with the Town of Alfred NY sent me a copy of this photo of my great, great, great grandparents, Maxson Stillman (1774-1857) and his wife Esther Crandall (1775-1864).
Maxson is the son of George Stillman IV (1739-1817/9) and Esther Stillman (1740-1824).
Esther Crandall is the daughter of Phineas Crandall (1743-1821) and Ruth Rogers (1748-1783). Esther is also the sister of Lydia Crandall Roger who married my 3rd great grandfather Russell Wells. So this make Esther and Maxson not only my 3rd great grandparents, but also my 3rd great aunt and uncle as well!
I’m just thrilled to be able to add it to my photo collection, especially since it replaces their headstone photos as their photos in my genealogy program.
The Stillmans definitely have some of the best photos in my collection. I have to imagine they weren’t too hard up for money as they do seem to have taken quite a few portraits of the family.
Here’s a few more photos of the family. Their son, Phineas Crandall Stillman (my great great grandfather)
This is Phineas’ daughter Pauline Rudiger (Stillman) Wells (1855-1922) and her twin sister Corinne Edgerton (Stillman) Rudiger (1855-1902) They’re cute, but it’s a little creepy too if you ask me. Pauline is my great grandmother.
Here’s Pauline all grown up.
Have any great Stillman family photos you’d like to share? I’d love to see them. I think it’s important for us as folks who share a love of our family history to come together and share what we have. When families move from generation to generation, the history gets split up. One son gets the photo album, another gets the family papers. One moves across country and one stays close to home. Before you know it, the family history is scattered to the winds, with each distant cousin holding only a small fraction of the family’s once proud history.