Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

15 Oct 2017: Vampires in Rhode Island? There’s a grave to prove it. October 15, 2017

Filed under: Cemeteries — jgeoghan @ 4:34 pm
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Where does the writer of vampire novels (and a genealogist) go on her vacation? To visit the vampire grave of Rhode Island, of course!

Pilgrimage complete!

While researching odd and interesting places to visit in Rhode Island and Connecticut on roadsideamerica.com, I came across the vampire grave of Simon Whipple in Union Cemetery in North Smithfield, RI.

In memory of Simon Whipple, youngest son of Col. Dexter Aldrich & Margery his wife, who died on May 6, 1841, aged 27 years.  Altho’ consumption’s vampire grasp had seized thy mortal frame, ……. mind …..

We’ll never know exactly how the epitaph ends at some point in the past, his stone was set in concrete?  Why?  Was it because the stone had been knocked over and had to be set again?  Or was it perhaps because to keep something in the ground from getting out?  We’ll never know …

Simon and his siblings … all died aged 27 years …. odd …

-Jennifer

******** UPDATE *********

Per the request of a reader, I’m attaching photos of the headstones of Simon’s siblings. Keep in mind that I know nothing about this family. I was only told these were his siblings by a North Smithfield person who was there volunteering with a local clean up crew in that area of the cemetery.  I thought it seemed odd that Simon Whipple would be their sibling since they were Aldrichs. – Jennifer

Marietta Aldrich

Abigail Aldrich Merry

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14 Oct 2017: Death, Taxes and the Wells family. October 14, 2017

Old Ben Franklin was right when he said death and taxes were the only things certain in life.  While on my vacation I came across this small, paper booklet from 1855 listing the “Valuation of Taxable Property in the Town of Hopkinton” for the year 1855. Quite a few Wells family members on the list.

Here are all the Wells’ on the list:
Wells Horace: Real Estate $0 … Personal Estate: $300 … Total: $300 … Tax: $0.96
Wells Thomas R.: Real Estate $1200 … Personal Estate: $2000 … Total: $3200 … Tax: $10.84
Wells, Thomas R & Co., machinery in Valley Mills: Real Estate $9000 … Personal Estate: $0 … Total: $9000 … Tax: $28.80
Wells Jonathan R: Real Estate $1200 … Personal Estate: $3000 … Total: $4200 … Tax: $13.44
Wells Russel: Real Estate $1700 … Personal Estate: $0 … Total: $1700 … Tax: $5.44
Wells Edward S.: Real Estate $300 … Personal Estate: $0 … Total: $30 … Tax: $0.96
Wells Edward S. Jr., and wife: Real Estate $0 … Personal Estate: $1700 … Total: $1700 … Tax: $5.44
Wells Henry M: Real Estate $2000 … Personal Estate: $1500 … Total: $3500 … Tax: $11.20
Wells Peter C.: Real Estate $2400 … Personal Estate: $0 … Total: $2400 … Tax: $7.68
Wells Betsey: Real Estate $700 … Personal Estate: $0 … Total: $700 … Tax: $2.24
Wells Denison: Real Estate $200 … Personal Estate: $600 … Total: $800 … Tax: $2.56
Wells Augustus Lewis: Real Estate $1200 … Personal Estate: $1500 … Total: $2700 … Tax: $8.64
Wells Silas C.: Real Estate $1700 … Personal Estate: $0 … Total: $1700 … Tax: $5.44
Wells William R.: Real Estate $0 … Personal Estate: $100 … Total: $100 … Tax: $0.32
Wells A.L. & Co.: Real Estate $200 … Personal Estate: $0 … Total: $200 … Tax: $0.64
Wells Thomas P.: Real Estate $200 … Personal Estate: $0 … Total: $200 … Tax: $0.64
Wells Albert, house and lot: Real Estate $700 … Personal Estate: $0 … Total: $700 … Tax: $2.24

Remember that there were two Wells’ families in Hopkinton at the time so folks like Denison, Peter and Albert are not related to my family of Jonathan R, Thomas R, Silas, Russel, etc.

So, who was the richest Wells in town in 1855? That would be my great, great grandfather, Jonathan R. Wells (1819-1864), with a total of $4200 in taxable property. This is for an individual as the highest taxes were actually paid by Thomas R. Wells Machinery in Hope Valley, a business, not an individual.

Jonathan Russel Wells

Russel Wells (1780-1859) son of Randall Wells and Lois Maxson, is on the list as well. His total estate came to $1700.00 and he paid only $5.44.

Other Wells’ in our family listed are:

Children of Russel Wells and Lydia Rogers Crandall:

  • Jonathan Russel Wells (Mentioned above)
  • Silas Crandall Wells (1813-1907)
  • Thomas Randall Wells (1816-1903)

Capt. William Randall “Bill” Wells (1816-1872) son of Randall Wells Jr. and Patience Coon.

Edward Sheffield Wells Jr (1793-1870) son of Edward Sheffield Wells Sr and Tacy Hubbard. (Note he is listed as Sr., not Jr. on the list.)

The children of Edward Sheffield Wells Jr and Deborah Hoxsie Lewis:

  • Augustus Lewis Wells Sr. (1820-1906)
  • Elizabeth Perry “Betsey” Wells (1825-1888)
  • Edward Sheffield Wells 3rd (listed as Jr. 1822-1893)

I find it odd that they published this book at all really.  I mean today, would you want the town to publish a book stating your net worth? Seems like privacy laws wouldn’t allow such a thing in 2017.

-Jennifer

 

12 Oct 2017: My Rhode Island Johnny Cake Adventure October 12, 2017

While on vacation up in Rhode Island, I visited two restaurants to sample their Johnny Cakes.  To say that I ate two totally different foods would not be an understatement.  I’d read online that the J.C.’s on the east side of Narragansett Bay were different from the ones on the west side.  I now believe this to be true.

Let’s start with Johnny Cake #1 which I sampled at Bishop’s 4th Street Diner in Newport.

Bishop’s 4th Street Diner

Bishop’s 4th Street Diner

Johnny Cakes

These Johnny Cakes were very tasty, but as you can see they are almost paper-thin and have holes in them like lace.  I asked what they put in them and was told: Cornmeal, hot water and an egg with some salt and sugar.

Moving on to Johnny Cake #2.  This one I had on the other side of the Bay at Jigger’s Diner in East Greenwich, RI. Talk about a totally different J.C.

Jigger’s Diner

Crispy on the outside, runny on the inside.

Jigger’s Johnny Cakes were very good. They were about the same circumference as Bishop’s, but where Bishop’s were almost paper-thin, Jigger’s were about a third of an inch thick.  They were crispy on the outside and runny on the inside. I loved them!

Which did I prefer? I’d go with Jigger’s because they were just a more substantial meal. I will say that Bishop’s bacon was much better than Jigger’s.  Jigger’s was over cooked like leather. If you go, opt for the sausage.

I collected a bunch of different Johnny Cake recipes while on vacation and visited Kenyon’s Grist Mill to buy me some Johnny Cake cornmeal to use making my own back home.  I’ll post the recipes soon.

-Jennifer

 

4 Oct 2017: Road Trip photo fun October 4, 2017

Filed under: Cemeteries — jgeoghan @ 10:33 pm

Today I didn’t do any real genealogy as my day was spent researching items for my novels.  However … when I passed this sign in front of a cemetery in Orient Point, NY, I had to stop and take a photo.

Really??

-Jennifer

 

3 Oct 2017: On my Genealogy Vacation … a mural to remember October 3, 2017

I arrived in the Mystic, CT area last night!  Long drive from Orlando! Today I went to New London to visit City Hall in search of Land Grant records for Thomas Wells, the oldest of the known Wells in my family.  According to The History of New London (Page 60) He had a land grant dated Feb 16, 1649/50.

Although the N.L. Historical Society pointed to the City Hall when I asked them for info on land grants, City Hall pointed me to the State Library in Hartford as they sent all the records there.  So, no joy at City Hall … that is until I walked back into the entry hall and spotted this wonderful mural on the wall.

Mural in City Hall

According to the mural, it’s a representation of the city and the plots of land and owners as they were before Benedict Arnold burned the city in 1781.

You can even see the Town Mill that was previously operated by John Rogers.  This is the town mill that still stands today under the I-95 overpass.

The Old Town Mill in New London

Here are some closeups I took of portions of the map:

Lower Mamacock

First Church and Burial Ground

North of Winthrop’s Cove

New London City Hall

Cool map! Hope you enjoy!

-Jennifer

 

23 Sept 2017: Finding the missing link. A Genealogical miracle! September 23, 2017

I’ll be honest, I never thought I’d find it. After all, at this point in time, what more could there possibly be to find. And there it was, staring me in the face on Ancestry.com as if daring me to open it. Could it? Could it possible be him?

AND IT WAS!

My Geoghan family line has been a bone of contention in my family tree for some time. The origins of our roots in Ireland and the UK were a total mystery. Geoghan is an Irish name, but paperwork seemed divided between Scotland and Ireland so far as census records and the old “Where were your parents born” type of questions.

Last year I was able to find a birth record in Glasgow, Scotland that I believed quite strongly was my great grandfather Thomas Geoghan. From the records I was able to find on FamilySearch.org and time spent at my local Family History Center, I found more records on Thomas’ parents and siblings.  Him and his siblings were all born in Govan, Lanarkshire which is part of Glasgow, while his parents (George Geoghan and Ann Donnelly) were listed as born in Ireland.  No city, town or village listed, just Ireland.  Big help, right?

This family shows up on the 1851 and 1861 census of Scotland and then I have ship passenger lists that bring over, first George (the father) and then Ann and the kids. They show up here in America on 1875 Rhode Island State census in East Greenwich, Kent county. They’re also there in 1880 for the US Federal Census.

Then nothing. Crickets chirping …

Now, my great grandfather, Thomas Geoghan, I trace back to Unionville/Farmington, Hartford Count, Ct where the oldest record I had of him was the record of his marriage in the town clerks office dated October 28, 1883. We know the first five of his six children were born in Unionville.  From there the family moved to Westport, CT for a few years before eventually moving on to New York City.

But how to find a definitive connection between the Thomas born in Govan who moved to Rhode Island to the Thomas who married Ellen Stapleton in Unionville, CT?  Now you see my conundrum.

The missing piece of the puzzle turns out to be a copy of the probate papers of my great, great grandfather, George Geoghan, my immigrant ancestor.  Where did he die? FARMINGTON!  The papers list his living next of kin and list son Thomas as living in WESTPORT! So with this one piece of the puzzle, I put George in Unionville from Rhode Island and I put his son living in his next place of residence.

Here is that section of the probate papers that lists George’s children.  It even lists Thomas’ wife, Ellen, as a witness. This is definitely the same family as daughter Catherine is listed with her maiden and married name (Kehoe)

So the next step is to hire a genealogist in Glasgow to see what can be found on the origins of the Geoghans and Donnellys. Somewhere in Govan there has to be at least one record that lists the name of their parents or a clue as to what village in Ireland George and Ann were born. I reached out to a genealogist in Glasgow yesterday online. Hopefully, I’ll hear back from them and they won’t charge me two arms and a leg to do the research.

Interesting facts I found out from the probate paperwork:  George had a house on about 1/4 acres of land in Farmington which is listed as “situated on Battle Row.”  There is no street called Battle Row on today’s map of Farmington. I reached out to the Farmington Historical Society for help on this. I have the feeling it may be more of a slang term for a street and not its proper name. Note the value of the land and house are $250.00. Guess real estate was a lot cheaper back in 1894! Here is that section of the papers:

I love how it lists his belongings as:

  • Peanuts: $2.00 (This must have been a lot of peanuts!)
  • Show Case: $3.00
  • Scales: $0.50
  • Cigars and Tobacco: $1.50
  • Lamp: $0.25

Come on, he’s Irish/Scottish, you going to tell me along with those cigars he didn’t have some whisky stashed around the house?  What was that show case listed supposed to be?

In the end, I made the connection and I’m over the moon about it.  The family in Govan is indeed my family. Now I just need to find the clues that will point me to their home town in Ireland.   Before I sign off, here’s the complete probate paperwork for those who want to peruse it in its entirety.

Probate records of George Geoghan 1894

Here is an updated Narrative Report for George and his descendants:

George Geoghan Sr Narrative Report 9-21-2017

-Jennifer

 

21 Sept 2017: Seaweed Pudding probably tastes better than it sounds September 21, 2017

Today I continue my series of posts on the traditional local foods prepared by our ancestors in Hopkinton. Rhode Island isn’t called the Ocean State for nothing. Mom’s cousin Dorothy remembers her mother (Sylvia Wells, daughter of Williams R Wells and Pauline Stillman Wells) making pudding from seaweed they would gather off the beaches down near Quonny. This would be back in about the mid 1930’s. Although it seems this is a real thing, after scouring the internet I as only able to come up with one recipe for such a pudding called Blancmange.

Blancmange as defined by Wikipedia: “Blancmange (from French blanc-manger) is a sweet dessert commonly made with milk or cream and sugar thickened with gelatin, cornstarch or Irish moss(a source of carrageenan), and often flavored with almonds.”

Blancmange: A pudding made from Irish Sea Moss

  • 1/3 cup Irish Sea Moss
  • 2 cups of milk

Gather fresh moss on the beach. Rinse well in cold water and spread in the sun to dry.

When ready to use, soften 1/3 cup of moss by covering it in cold water for fifteen minutes.

Drain and add 2 cups of milk. Cook in a double boiler for thirty minutes without stirring.

Strain into a bowl or molds, and cool—it thickens only on cooling.

Serve with jam, light flavored cream, boiled custard, chocolate sauce, or fruit, fresh or stewed. The blancmange is rather tasteless by itself and depends on the sauce for flavor.

* * * * *

There are several different types of edible seaweeds that grow off the coast of Rhode Island that our ancestors probably harvested to use as food. Here are a few:

Irish Sea Moss – Contains carrageenan and is used to thicken and stabilize ice cream, puddings, cream cheese, cottage cheese, frozen yogurt, pie fillings etc.

Irish Sea Moss

Bladderwrack/Knotted Wrack/Rockweed – Used in between layers of New England clam bakes for flavor and steam.

Bladderwrack

Oarweed and Sugar Kelp are two varieties of kelp that grow in Rhode Island. Oarweed (or Kombu as it is called in supermarkets) is cooked and enjoyed in salads and soups. Sugar Kelp can be cut into strips to make an Asian seaweed salad.

Sugar Kelp

Sea Lettuce – Used in fresh salads.

Sea Lettuce

Now, who’s ready to go foraging down at the beach?  🙂

Have you ever tried seaweed pudding? if so, where and what was it like?

If you have a recipe for Seaweed Pudding you’d like to share, send it my way!

-Jennifer

T minus 9 days til I leave on my Rhode Island/Conn vacation!  YAY!