Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

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

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17 Aug 2017: Planning a trip to my homeland August 17, 2017

It’s that time of year again when I get to blow this pop stand and head north.  YAY!! I’ll be up in CT/RI on vacation the beginning of October and have started my list of things to do and places to see. HOWEVER, my list is incomplete.

Read to the VERY BOTTOM for things I need help/suggestions for.

Visit Randall & Lois Wells’ graves in Hopkinton, RI.  My annual pilgrimage to my 4th great grandparent’s graves back in the woods.  Let’s face it, not too many of us still can even find them. I usually visit John Rogers grave on the grounds of Connecticut College as well.

Take my favorite hike.  There’s a great Nature Conservancy trail up to Long Pond in Hopkinton. Super scenic, like something out of Lord of the Rings.  There’s a timelessness to the landscape there that seems untouched, like some native American tribe from long ago could come strolling around a boulder.

Visit Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT.  I know, the cheesiest and most wonderful of the chic flicks of the 80’s.  Not only that, the pizza is like … totally awesome (to quote the 80’s) Not sure how well it will fare now that I’ve had gastric bypass, but I’m willing to give it a shot. It’s worth a visit if for nothing but to inhale deeply and take in the scent of wonderful food.  Plus it’s a location I used a few times in my novels so it’s fun to visit.  I ever wrote some of my books sitting at the table in the bay windows up front.

Speaking of food …. I’m also planning meals at Abbots in Noank, CT and Ford’s Lobsters in Noank. I plan on being so tired of lobster by the time I drive out of New England that it will hold me for a long time!

Visit the Lighthouse Museum in Stonington.  Yes, the infamous lighthouse that is the setting for my third novel. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it and knew I had to feature it in a book.  I’ll also spend time roaming the streets of picturesque Stonington.

Visit B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill in Mystic.  Again, after my gastric bypass surgery, this should be an interesting experience.  I love their apple baked goods and plan on sampling quite a bit.

Visit Oak Grove Cemetery in Ashaway.  Not only my future resting place, but also the current resting place for a good portion of my mom’s side of the family.  I always stop in to pay my respects but also to inspect the condition of our stones and do any necessary cleaning of them that may need to be done.

Fulfilling any Findagrave.com photo requests that are online for the area. Need any photos taken of a headstone in the area? I’ll be checking them out while I’m up there to see who I can help out.  I also plan on updating FAG.com on new burials in Oak Grove and finishing adding photos of all the stones.

Visiting Kenyon’s Grist Mill in West Kingston, RI. I’ve never been to a grist mill before so I’m looking forward to learning something new. I’m also in the market for some corn meal to make me some Johnny Cakes upon my return to FL.  

Popping over to Stonington Vineyards to buy a case of my favorite wine of theirs. Sadly, I can’t get it here in Orlando. Also sadly, gastric bypass severely limits how much alcohol I can drink, so that case will last me a couple of year!

Shop Craigslist.com for cool stuff in people’s basements! Sounds odd, but I bought a cool old trunk off of Craigslist last time I was up there from some couple in Ashaway. I’m on the hunt for cool antiques. I’m also looking for some good antique stores to visit if you know of any you can suggest. Not the shiny, all cleaned up kind of antiques, but the paint chipping off, just pulled out of the barn kind. Will also be looking for yard sales and estate sales as well.

If time permits, I’d like to visit Mystic Aquarium.  Haven’t been there since I was a kid.

Pop into the Mystic Seaport Gift Shop.  I’ll be honest and say I’ve been to the Seaport enough that I don’t need to go again …. for a long time, but the gift shop is awesome! I love the book section up stairs too. Always worth a visit.

Get out on the water.  No plans finalized for this yet, but I will get out on the water for a few hours, if not longer. I did a sunset sail out of Mystic a few years back that I could do again, but ideally I’d love to take sailing lessons.  I’m just having a hard time finding a place to do that so late in the year.  Seems sailing season ends the week before I arrive!!!

A day at the Coggeshall Farm Museum in Bristol, RI.  I can’t wait to spend some time here so I can do some research on farm life in the late 1700s.  Valuable info I can weave into my stories of the vampire, Randall Wells!!

St. Edmund’s Severed Arm.  Yes, you read me right. This one just has to be seen to be believed, at least by me.  It’s in Mystic and apparently on display.

CAN YOU HELP ME?

I’m looking for:

  • Good antique stores/malls. Ones that sell reasonably priced items of local origin. Items that are not all spit and polished, but need love and have chipped paint.
  • Scenic hiking trails (other than my favorite up to Long Pond in Hopkinton.)
  • Restaurants that serve good local cuisine.  Rhode Island Clam Chowder?  Johnny Cakes?
  • How can I get out on the water?  Boat tours you can suggest.  I’d even be up for whale watching. Ideally I’d love to take a sailing lesson or two.
  • Know of any places of local history interest like Kenyon’s Grist Mill? I love to learn about local history.
  • If you know where I can buy a courting candle, you’re my new best friend!!!

-Jennifer

UPDATES:

From Bruce: “Know you are connected to the Crandall family. Think about a trip north of Mystic to Canterbury, CT (Windham Co.) to the Prudence Crandall museum. Check their hours – I don’t think they are open every day.”  Thanks, Bruce.  I’ll add the museum to my list of possibles.  I’m sure a trip there would make a nice subject for a blog post.

From Wayne:  “Hi Jennifer – I too am a direct descendant of Samuel Hubbard (my mother is a Burdick), living now in southern RI. We are distant cousins. If you haven’t been, you might consider seeing the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace in Saunderstown, and maybe taking the Francis Fleet Whale Watch out of Galillee. BTW, white corn meal is ubiquitous here! Wayne”  Thanks Wayne. I’ve added the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace to my list. Looks really cool. Sadly, Frances Fleet Whale Watching closes in September so they won’t be open.  Too bad, they looked ideal.

 

13 Aug 2017: A walk in 1937 Philadelphia August 13, 2017

I discovered this mini pack of photos among my father’s possessions.  It’s dated 1937. Published by  K.F. Lutz of 441 North 32nd Street, Philadelphia.  Not really knowing what to do with them as our family doesn’t have any ancestral ties in the Philly area, we’re going to be selling this item in an upcoming yard sale.  But before that, I thought I’d share them with you.

Philadelphia, 1937: Capital Hall and Independence Hall

Philadelphia, 1937: Independence Hall Liberty Bell

Philadelphia, 1937: Independence Hall Judicial Chamber

Philadelphia, 1937: Independence Hall Declaration Chamber

Philadelphia, 1937: Independence Hall

 

Philadelphia, 1937: Benjamin Franklin’s Grave

Philadelphia, 1937: Washington Monument

Philadelphia, 1937: Pennsylvania R.R. Station

Philadelphia, 1937: U.S. Mint

Philadelphia, 1937: Carpenters Hall

Philadelphia, 1937: Interior of Carpenters Hall

Philadelphia, 1937: Art Museum and City Aquarium

Philadelphia, 1937: Benjamin Franklin Memorial Museum

Philadelphia, 1937: Delaware River Front and Bridge

Philadelphia, 1937: City Hall

Philadelphia, 1937: Christ Church

Philadelphia, 1937: South Broad Street

Philadelphia, 1937: Betsy Ross House

Philadelphia, 1937: Flag Room Betsy Ross House

Philadelphia, 1937: View from Art Museum toward City Hall

Philadelphia, 1937: Convention Hall

Philadelphia, 1937: New Post office and Pennsylvania R.R. Station

Philadelphia, 1937: Old Swedes Church

Philadelphia, 1937: The Rodin Museum

Philadelphia, 1937: Masonic Temple

I hope you enjoyed this stroll through 1937 Philly!

-Jennifer

 

20 July 2017: Great Summer Read featuring the Wells Family … and it’s FREE July 20, 2017

Hello friends, fans and family.

Just wanted to let you know that the ebook version of FALLING for Death is free on Amazon until Sunday. This is the novel I wrote featuring Randall Wells, his wife Lois Maxson and a host of other Wells family members. It’s the first in a five book series but is also a full length, stand alone story.  If you’re a fan of Hopkinton, RI and the Wells Family and …. happen to like vampires, you’re in a for a real treat!

Check it out!

-Jennifer

 

20 April 2017: Randall Wells and Lois Maxson’s book has changed April 20, 2017

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I wrote my 4th great grandparents, Randall Wells and his wife Lois, as characters into my novel series. I thought I’d announce that I have rebranded that series, giving it new titles and new covers.

I now introduce you to The FALLING Series.

As a promo for the new brand, book one in the series, FALLING for Death, is free on Amazon for the ebook version for the next couple of days.  Here’s the link.  Check it out and download your free copy today to see what Randall and Lois may have been like.

-Jennifer

 

22 Jan 2017: It’s here! Get your copy today! January 22, 2017

Yay!!!! My latest book is up for sale on Amazon.  I can’t tell you how excited I am that I finally took the time to gather together my genealogy knowledge in a user friendly how to book for those just beginning their genealogical journey.

the-family-hist-quick-start-guid-lr-cover

Check it out at: https://goo.gl/eSSZwa

Here’s what it’s about:

Every generation needs a family historian.

Where do we come from and how did we get here? To answer these questions you’ll need to sit down and piece together the story of your family. For over thirty years Jennifer Geoghan has tirelessly traced not only her own family tree, but also assisted many others in doing just the same. Now she brings her wealth of experience to you with this easy to read guide to help you jump-start your family research.

Some of the topics covered are …

  • Interviewing your relatives
  • Understanding Vital Records
  • Making sense of the US Census
  • Uncovering Military Records.
  • How to cite your sources.
  • Top websites for genealogy research.
  • Getting the most from you internet searches
  • Cemeteries
  • Genetic DNA Testing
  • Preserving your family memories

Intended for those just beginning to trace their family history, this Quick Start Guide includes an abundance of useful worksheet, templates and other tools to help you organize your research all in one convenient place.

  • Individual Person Worksheets
  • Family Worksheets
  • Pedigree Charts
  • Family Heirloom Inventory
  • Family Medical History
  • Research Logs
  • Family History Questionnaires
  • Activities to get your kids excited about family history

My book is now available in paperback on Amazon for $4.99.

-Jennifer

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17 Dec 2016: Don’t believe everything you read … on a death certificate. December 17, 2016

As part of my research for my new genealogy “how to” book, I ordered copies of my great grandparents (John and Amalia Kranz) death certificates from the City of New York Department of Records.  What I received in the mail, quite frankly, shocked me.  Amalia’s wasn’t surprising but what was listed on John’s is nothing short of baffling.

Death Certificate of John Kranz

Death Certificate of John Kranz

What is so disturbing is the names listed for his parents, Safaya Kranz and Elizabeth Schmidt.  These are not the names of John’s parents.  His parents were Francisci Xaverii Kranz and Elizabeth Hahn.  Yes, this is the correct death certificate for John.  It has his correct dates of birth and death, has his place of birth and profession correct.  It even has his correct address.

So who are this Safaya and wife?

I can only think that at the time of his death, no family was around to provide the correct information to the doctor about John’s parents. We know that John and his wife, Amalia, were estranged and didn’t have contact for long periods of time.  The back of the certificate says that his daughter (my grandmother) Elsie was the one who hired the undertaker to take his body.  His wife was still alive at this time so I have to assume that if she left that task to her daughter to handle, she was not on speaking terms with her husband when he died. I’m thinking the names of his parents on this certificate are nothing more than the result of the doctor wanting to fill in the blanks.

I really wish I was able to make out his cause of death. There is a family story that John died from the result of injuries he suffered while falling out of a cherry tree while picking cherries to make wine.  I heard he hit his head, but the certificate says that he was admitted to Kings County Hospital on June 28th 1920 and died there on September 13th.  That’s a long stay for a head injury.

Here’s John’s wife Amalia’s death certificate:

Death Certificate of Amalia Kranz

Death Certificate of Amalia Kranz

Nothing too surprising here.  Says she died of stomach cancer, sadly that seems to run on both sides of my family.

If anyone is able to decipher the cause of death on John’s certificate, I’d love to hear from you!

-Jennifer