Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

13 October 2015: Criminals in the Family Tree !?!?! October 13, 2015

So what do you do when you suddenly find criminal activity in a family tree?


It’s a question I never really had to deal much with in my own tree.  Yes, there was an odd incident with a many distant cousin in the 1600’s that is rather embarrassing to the family, but we don’t get arrested in our family.  I’m guessing we’re too smart to get caught is all :-)

My recently discovered criminals are in my cousin’s family tree, the family line of her father (her mother was my aunt).  I’m doing a genealogy project for her as part of my wedding present for her as she knows nothing about her father’s side of the family.  I have to say, I was a little shocked to find so much newspaper accounts of her Dad’s family, namely his grandfather and Great Uncle’s arrests.

No, This isn't them, I just like this picture :-)

No, This isn’t them, I just like this picture :-)

Here are a few examples of the offenders I found.  My cousin’s family is the Staker family.  By the way, this article is pretty hilarious!:

The Newtown Register, Thursday March 2, 1893, page 5

Capture of Two Burglars at Maspeth

Night-Watchman Smith has a Lively Tune in Effecting it –Revolver and “Billy” Both in Requisition – Subsequent Arrest of a Supposed Confederate. – Story of the Capture as Told by Mr. Smith.

Last Saturday morning, about three o’clock, the reports of several pistol shots waked out of their sleep a number of the residents of Maspeth village, and it was not long before it became known that a burglar had been caught in the act of robbing the grocery story of J. Seedorff, in the building on Grand Street formerly occupied by the Kine Bros. as a saloon.

During the past few weeks a number of small burglaries have been committed in that village, and about a month ago several of the storekeepers and others joined in securing the services of a night watchman, Edward Smith, formerly a special policeman in Brooklyn, being employed to fill the position. The story of the robbery and capture of one of the thieves can best be told in the words of Smith himself, who says “Almost 3 o’clock Saturday morning, while on my beat, I came to Seedorff’s store, and as was my custom,looked in the first window to see if everything was all right.  I then went to the other window, and as I passed the door leading down to the cellar, I noticed that the padlock was pulled out and the door unfastened.  I opened one of the double doors and went down the steps, lighting a match as I went along.  Just as I reached the foot of the stairs the match went out, and before I had time to light another I noticed a dim light from a lantern in the cellar and walked towards it.  Just then I heard a noise, and looking back I saw a man moving towards the steps.  I rushed back and caught him, saying as I did so, that I would go a part of the way with him.  He told me not to interfere or try to stop him, and at the same time he grabbed my nightstick.  By that time we were partly up the stairs, and in such a position that he had the best of me. I therefore let go of the stick and tried to draw my revolver. Just then another man came from the cellar and ran up the steps, whereupon the man whom I had hold of dropped my stick, which he had kept hold of,and with some blunt instrument struck me a terrible blow on the forehead.  For a few minutes I was stunned, but on recovering my senses I ran after the man, at the same time firing my revolver.  They dashed down Grand street and turned up Remsen Place.  Finding that my shots had not taken any effect I made up my mind to catch the one I had hold of in the cellar, and after running about three block, I succeeded in doing so.  As I grabbed him we had a pretty lively tussle together; but I had drawn my ‘billy’, and I soon made him understand that he was my prisoner and must go along with me quietly.  Meanwhile I had recognized him as Watson Doyle.  On our way back, the first person we met was John D. Staker, who came up to us and asked what was the matter, to which I answered ‘nothing much.’  Staker said‘Is that you, Doyle?’  Doyle said ‘Yes’and that he was almost beaten to death. Staker then said Doyle was a friend of his, and asked me to let him go, inviting me over to his saloon, which was directly opposite, to have a drink.  Just then Doyle grabbed my stick and made an effort to get away.  I told Staker if Doyle was a friend to advise him to go with me quietly as he had got to go anyway, either dead or alive. Doyle finally went along quietly, and I took him to Newtown.”

Watson Doyle is a well known resident of Maspeth.  A few years ago he married the widow of Michael Quinn, and for some time continued to run a small saloon in that village, of which Quinn was proprietor at the time of his death.

On being arraigned before Justice Howard Saturday forenoon, Doyle was committed for examination on Monday and placed in charge of Constable Hiland, who took him to the Flushing cells for safe keeping.  On their way to Flushing Doyle told Hiland enough to implicate Edward Staker as the other man who was in the cellar.  Hiland accordingly obtained a warrant from Justice Scheper, and in the evening of the same day arrested Staker at his brother’s saloon in Maspeth village bringing him before Justice Schepe, who committed him to the cells for examination on Tuesday.

Justice Scheper issued a search warrant, which  was served by Constable Hiland.  No goods were found in Doyle’s house, but in a vacant house near Staker’s saloon several bags of onions that were identified by Seedorff as his property were found. It is supposed that Doyle and his companion had removed the onions from Mr. Seedorf’s store, which is nearly opposite Staker’s saloon, and had gone back for another haul when Smith discovered them.

On Monday Doyle was brought before Justice Howard for examination, but at the request of his counsel, Geo. C.F. Fisher, the examination was adjourned until next Monday morning, at 9:30 o’clock.  The examination of Staker before Justice Scheper was adjourned until this afternoon at 3 o’clock.

It is understood that Doyle will turn State’s evidence and his testimony is expected to lend to the unraveling of other crimes that have recently been committed in this neighborhood.

The examination of Edward Staker, which was to have been held this afternoon, was again adjourned owing to the absence of his counsel,until Monday afternoon at 2 o’clock.

The onions which were found by Constable Hiland in the vacant house adjoining the premises of John D. Staker were this afternoon identified by Mr. Seedorf as his.


The Newtown Register, Thursday March 23, 1893

Convicted of Burglary

In the Court of Sessions at Jamaica on Monday, Walter Doyle and Edward Staker, indicted for burglary at Seedorf’s grocery store in Maspeth early on the morning of Feb, 25, were placed on trial before Judge G.J.Garretson.  Staker set up an alibi in defence, claiming that he was in bed when the burglary was committed.  Both the prisoners were found guilty of burglary in the third degree.  Yesterday the Judge sentenced Doyle to three years in Sing Sing prison, and sent Staker to the Elmira Reformatory.


The Newtown Register, Thursday September 28, 1893, Page 5

The residents of Maspeth and vicinity are to be congratulated on having so efficient and faithful a watchman as Officer Edw.Smith.  Since last March Mr. Smith has made nearly a dozen arrests, principally for robbery, and in all kinds of weather he can be found on his beat.  The arrest and breaking up of the Staker gang is among Mr. Smith’s achievements,and the people of Maspeth can feel assured that their homes and goods are well protected while such a man is on guard.



I found these articles on a site I’d never seen before and one I highly recommend if you’re looking for old newspaper articles.  It’s a bit clunkly but had great archives of old papers from the state of New York.  It’s http://www.fultonhistory.com Don’t mind the creepy clown!


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28 Sept 2015: Hopkinton, RI Fall Festival September 28, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — jgeoghan @ 8:10 am
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I thought I’d pass on to those of you who live in the RI/CT border area that the Hopkinton Land Trust is sponsoring a Fall Festival in Hopkinton on October 10th.

Since I’ve donated to the Land Trust I guess I’m on their email mailing list.  Sure wish I was up there to go, but living in Florida, it would be a but much of a trip for the day.  However, it’s a wonderful cause and if you can attend, I’m sure you’ll have fun and also be supporting a good organization, not to mention spending some time in Hopkinton, the ancestral home of the Wells family here in America.


Have fun for me!  I sure wish I could go as I wrote a Fall Festival into my novel, The Purity of Blood, which is the book with Randall Wells and Lois (Maxson) Wells as characters in it.  Fall Festivals here in Florida just aren’t the same.  After all, palm trees don’t change color in the fall :-(



26 Sept 2015: The Marriage Certificate September 26, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — jgeoghan @ 10:07 am
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Not that it has anything to do with Wells Family Genealogy, but today I thought I’d share with you a great book I read this past week.  It’s called The Marriage Certificate by Stephen Molyneaux.


Why am I recommending it?  Because it’s a lot of fun to read if you’re a die-hard genealogist as I am.  Here’s what it’s about:

What prompts amateur family historian Peter Sefton to buy the marriage certificate he sees on display in an antiques arcade? Is it because he thinks it should be private and he wants to remove it from public view? Is it the prospect of researching the individuals named upon it? Or is it something else, happenstance perhaps, which leads him towards a potentially lucrative discovery and a long forgotten family secret?

When John and Louisa marry in January 1900, who could foretell how their lives and those of ambitious Rose, the bridesmaid, and confident Frank, the best man, would be changed that day?

Follow their story, through Peter’s research and find out how, with investigative skill and a certain amount of luck, Peter finds himself pulled along to uncover a series of sad and tragic events … events, which connect the marriage certificate to a modern day mystery. But … there’s a complication. In his quest to complete the family tree he learns that he has competition. It’s not just a matter of pride; there’s money at stake too. Should he the amateur give up, or can he really beat the professionals at their own game? 

I read it as an ebook on my Kindle, (Click here for link to book on Amazon) but the author has a website and it looks like you can buy hard copies of the books as well.


The novel takes place in England which was an added bonus for me.  It was really interesting to get the inside scoop on how the English trace a family tree.  What resources they consult, etc.

Check it out!



20 Sept 2015: Rev. John Maxson 1714-1778 September 20, 2015

I’ve been spending my morning cleaning out my email inbox.  Between emails about my books and genealogy stuff, I tend to get backed up and have to spend a day untangling the web that is my in and to do boxes.  While weeding through my emails from findagrave.com, I found that someone had fulfilled a photo request for a great family member of mine, the Reverend John Maxson, born 1714 and died 1778.

Here’s the photo they kindly provided:

John Maxson: 1714-1778 Common Burying Ground, Newport, RI

John Maxson: 1714-1778 Common Burying Ground, Newport, RI

Isn’t it a lovely example of the carving used at the time?  John is buried in the Common Burying Ground in Newport, RI.  He is my First Cousin 7 times removed (Being the son of Johnathan Maxson and Content Rogers.)  John married Tacy Lucy Rogers (1715-1753) who was my 5th Great Grandaunt (being the daughter of Jonathan Rogers Jr and Judith Potter)

Here’s a link to John’s memorial page on Findagrave.com:  CLICK HERE FOR LINK

On the Rogers sides of their families John and Tacy were not only husband and wife, but first cousins as well.  I keep telling my friends that marrying your first cousin wasn’t uncommon back in the 1700’s but they don’t believe me.  I site that in Jane Austen’s books it happens quite a bit, but still … they think it’s weird.  Weird it is today, but back then, not so much.

Anyway, as I said above, I got this photo through findagrave.com.  If you’re familiar with this site, as a member (which is free) you can go on a memorial of a person and if there is no photo of their headstone posted, you can request a photo.  when you do this, it sends the request out to other members on the site who live in the area of that cemetery.  If you’re lucky, one of them will trot on over to the cemetery and take a photo that they will then post on the site for you.  You then get an email alerting you that your request has ben fulfilled.  Hence my cleaning out my email inbox and find old John there.



19 Sept 2015: Visiting a Texas Cemetery on Vacation September 19, 2015

I went on a research trip/vacation to Texas last week.  It was research for my latest book project.  As I’ve mentioned before I write novels as a side job.  Despite the fact that this was a working vacation, I couldn’t help but drive into a cool looking cemetery when I happened upon one in Bandera, Texas.  Located in Bandera County in Texas Hill country, Bandera claims that it is the Cowboy Capital of the World.  So naturally when I pulled into the cemetery I was kinda hoping for some headstones in the shape of cowboy hats, boots or maybe even some horses.  I was sadly disappointed.

The first thing you notice driving onto the cemetery is that there isn’t a spec of green grass to be seen.  It’s all dead, but that isn’t surprising given the heat.

Bandera Cemetery, Bandera Texas

Bandera Cemetery, Bandera Texas

I did see some peculiar things in this my first Texas cemetery.  Like this poor stone strangled out by a cactus bush!  Don’t see this a whole lot in New England!

A prickly situation ....

A prickly situation ….

Here was an interesting stone.  From a distance I thought it was an odd-looking boulder, but upon closer inspection, it turns out it’s a headstone, but the stone says it’s from Maunalei Lanai Hawaii.



Here was a neat little enclosure.  I’m still not sure if the chain is supposed to be purely decorative of it it’s supposed to serve a purpose.  Still interesting though.


Here was an interesting juxtaposition between the rustic and refined.


I’d never seen this sort of half barrel over a plot before.  Saw a bunch of them here though.


I’d never seen this where the main Surname stone for a plot rested on top of the stones naming the individuals in the plot.  Saw this a few times as well.


Just thought I’d share these pictures from my vacation.  It was interesting to see how similar and yet how different a cemetery in a different part of the country can be from what we’re so familiar with in New England.



8 August 2015: Cemetery Tourism — We’re Not Alone!! August 8, 2015

I finally felt vindicated a few weeks ago when this appeared in the Travel Section of the Orlando Sentinel newspaper.

Cemetery Tourism

OMG!  I have a classification now.  Apparently I’m a Taphophile.  Whoda Thunk!

I like how the article says that not only us genealogist headstone lovers visit cemeteries, but also those interested in history, bird-watching, landscape design, history, gardening, art, etc. visit as well.  I have to say, I’ve taken quite a bit of odd looks from my friends over the years because of my odd travelling habits as they call them.  Yes, my name is Jennifer, and I visit cemeteries on vacation.


PS: The first novel in my series is available for FREE this weekend only on Amazon.  Check it out, and find out what Randall Wells and his wife Lois Maxson might really have been like!  Click on the image below for a link to the page on Amazon.

Free Weekend 3


13 July 2015: Ashaway Dr. Asks “Are You Too Fat?” July 13, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — jgeoghan @ 9:18 pm
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I wish I had a higher quality photo of this newspaper advertisement.  I saw it for sale on EBAY some years back and got a hoot out of it.  Can you imagine if they put that in the papers today?!?!?!

Are you too fat

Rev. Charles J. Budlong of Ashaway, RI apparently lost 40 pounds and you too can have a sample box free!  Makes you really wonder what it was the Rev. Budlong was helping them sell!




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