Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917

Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917
William Richardson, Alice Josephine Richardson Dakin, Robert Worthington Richardson, Harry Bogart Richardson

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Contrary to my Kids' Assumptions, I'm only 2.1% Neanderthal!

I signed up for the National Geographic Geno 2.0 DNA test.  This one is supposed to be my deep ancestry following back on my mother's-mother's-mother's-mother's, ... line.  I don't have that direct line back any further than my 8th great grandmother, and I've not proved the last couple of those steps, so even that is iffy.  The ones I do have of those generations were in Connecticut and Massachusetts -- so there is some hope of records once I have the time to spend on them.  Others lines on my mother's side lead to the Mayflower, early settlers of New Amsterdam, and Northern Ireland.

Before doing genealogy, I always assumed I was "Heinz 57" variety, probably from many things mixed together, not like my husband who had four grandparents from what is currently Croatia.

So when I got my results, my deep add-mix looks like this:

They have been taking samples from people around there world and using it as reference populations.

According to the Genographic Project, my DNA compares most closely to the British (UK) population:

and next the German population:

It appears to me that I'm closer to the German population mix and than to the British, when I look at the graphs.

Since my maternal folks that I know about came on the Mayflower to New England, or settled New Amsterdam in what is now NYC, or went to Canada in the early 1800s from Ireland (probably northern), the match of my ancestor's is not surprising here, when described above and with the yellow parts of the Heatmap below.  

The Geno 2.0 project also included what they call their "Heatmap for U5B"  since my Haplogroup was U5B2B. It shows the path out of Africa of my most distant ancestors and the part that is deepest red is where most of their descendants seem to have shown up:

Since this is on my mother's side, and not my father's (we can't trace my father's DNA  since neither he nor my brother is alive), I was surprised to see the red -- that is what I would expect to find as red if my father's DNA were traced -- I've got my father's tree back to the 1600 and 1700s in Sweden.  So I guess those folks before me in Northern Europe headed south before heading west to the north american continent.

Now, for my children who are always trying to get their mother into first the 20th and now the 21st century, here is that Neanderthal piece I mentioned:

I suppose I should remind them that if their mother is a Neanderthal, so are they!

© 2012, Erica Dakin Voolich

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

One of my Irish Ancestors WASN'T Dropped in Haviland Hollow by Aliens!

For years I've been looking for Mary Hearty who I knew was born in "Parish of Creggan, County Armagh the town land Dorsy," Ireland (if the handwritten note on the back of her 1849 marriage certificate is to be believed).  But how she got to Haviland Hollow where she lived and married Eric Helsten on 12 August 1849 (if the front of the minister's marriage certificate is to be believed), has been one of those "little mysteries" in life.

I had begun to wonder if an alien space ship had dropped her off in Haviland Hollow, New York because I could never find her on any passenger lists.

Then today I looked yet again, and I found on, a "Mary Hart" age 25 indexed as arriving on 17 June 1848 in New York.  Since Mary had told the 1900 US Census that she arrived 52 years earlier, an arrival year of 1848 sure sounded right.

Here is the actual document:

and looking closely at passenger number 70:

It sure looks like Mary Hearty (not "Hart" as indexed) age 26, 3 months (not age "25" as indexed) from Ireland planning to stay in US.

This information is from the Famine Irish Entry Project, 1846-1851.  Washington D.C., NARA.

The link to this page:

© 2012, Erica Dakin Voolich

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fact Checking: Can a Woman Lose her US Citizenship by Marriage?

When searching for something else, a headline in a 1914 newspaper caught my eye:  “AMERICAN WOMEN DENATURALIZED BY MARRIAGE.”
The first two paragraphs:
     “Mrs Ernest Thompson Seton, vice 
president of the Connecticut Woman
Suffrage association, has just recently
returned from a short visit to Cuba.  
On her return to this country she 
had it forcibly and disagreeably
brought to her attention that the
United States penalizes women who 
commit the crime of marrying a for-
eigner by depriving them of their cit-
izenship.  Such women, although they
may be American born and of the
purest American ancestry, they are hence-
forth aliens, unless and until their
husbands consent to naturalize and
thus to carry their wives back to into
American citizenship.
     Ernest Thompson Seton, although
he has become so thoroughly identi-
fied with this country in the minds of
the readers of his delightful books, is 
an English subject.  He was born at
Shields, in the County of Durham, and
his first residence, when he crossed
the Atlantic was in Canada.  He and
Mrs. Seton were married in 1896 but
even after marrying an American wife
Mrs. Seton is powerless either to re-
tain or regain her status of American
citizen.  Hence when on the steamer
coming from Cuba she wished to land
at a port in Florida, she found that 
she was not allowed to do so.   She 
must proceed as an alien to a port 
designated for the entrance of immi-
grants and moreover she had to an-
swer the long list of questions which 
is put to the men and women who 
come to this country from Europe or 
Asia.  Had it been discovered that 
she was suffering from any contagious 
disease or had she been a poor wom-
an and therefore in danger of becom-
ing a public charge, she might have 
debarred from landing and de-
ported--not to her native country, for 
that is California--a state where wom-
en are really citizens and have the 
vote--but to the country of her hus-

Quick summary:  Mrs Seton, a resident of US, born in California visits Cuba probably on a vacation.  She discovers on her way home that she is no longer a US citizen because her husband is British.  She can’t debark at the port where she had expected to debark, instead she had to go to the port where aliens were processed.  There she was treated like an alien: lots of questions to answer, physical examination to determine if she had any contagious disease, and determination to see if she were poor and likely to become a burden upon society.  Such a surprise for what was probably a prominent woman who was married to a well-read author.  She had lost her citizenship by her marriage and the only way to get it back was to have her husband become naturalized!  She could have been deported “back” to not her country (USA), but to her husband’s country, whether or not she ever lived there!

[and yes I know California isn't a country, but they had given the women the right to vote before the 19th amendment was passed in 1920.]
When I read that story, I thought of my own great grandmother Martha Elnora Worthington.  She was born in Chicago in 1865; and in 1889, she married Harry Bogart Richardson who was born in Belleville, Ontario, Canada in 1863!  Did Elnora lose her citizenship?  Did Elnora ever leave the country after she was married?   Did Elnora have any difficulties?   

Time to Fact check the 1914 newspaper story, then answer the questions for Elnora.

Researching the accuracy of these claims, first brought me to Familysearch Wiki:
  • "From 1855 to 1922 a woman took the citizenship of her husband. An alien woman who married a United States citizen became a United States citizen.
  • From 1907 to 1922, a woman born in the United States who married an alien lost her U.S. citizenship and became an alien. For more information, read Marion L. Smith's article, Women and Naturalization, ca. 1802-1940."

Marian L Smith’s wrote two fascinating articles tracing women’s naturalization from 1802 through 1940.  These are in Prologue Magazine. Read the first and click through to the second one.  Relevant to our Mrs. Seton in the above article.

“After 1907, marriage determined a woman's nationality status completely. Under the act of March 2, 1907, all women acquired their husband's nationality upon any marriage occurring after that date. This changed nothing for immigrant women, but U.S.-born citizen women could now lose their citizenship by any marriage to any alien. Most of these women subsequently regained their U.S. citizenship when their husbands naturalized. However, those who married Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, or other men racially ineligible to naturalize forfeited their U.S. citizenship. Similarly, many former U.S. citizen women found themselves married to men who were ineligible to citizenship for some other reason or who simply refused to naturalize. Because the courts held that a husband's nationality would always determine that of the wife, a married woman could not legally file for naturalization.”

Clearly, in 1914, the immigration agents were correct to treat Mrs. Seaton as an alien, she HAD lost her citizenship because he husband had never naturalized.  But, the law eventually changed: 

“Happily, Congress was at work and on September 22, 1922, passed the Married Women's Act, also known as the Cable Act. This 1922 law finally gave each woman a nationality of her own. No marriage since that date has granted U.S. citizenship to any alien woman nor taken it from any U.S.-born women who married an alien eligible to naturalization.  Under the new law women became eligible to naturalize on (almost) the same terms as men. The only difference concerned those women whose husbands had already naturalized. If her husband was a citizen, the wife did not need to file a declaration of intention. She could initiate naturalization proceedings with a petition alone (one-paper naturalization). A woman whose husband remained an alien had to start at the beginning, with a declaration of intention. It is important to note that women who lost citizenship by marriage and regained it under Cable Act naturalization provisions could file in any naturalization court--regardless of her residence.”

All of the discussions in Marian L Smith’s two articles are quite interesting and worth reading.  She takes the process and fills in the details of the rest of the story and illustrates it for a variety of women examples.  Interestingly, the rest of the original article about Mrs Seton, discusses some other suffragettes who had this same problem and then talked about junior suffrage league meetings and organizing. 

It turned out that the issue of denaturalizing women was connected to the issue of women’s right to vote.

“The era when a woman's nationality was determined through that of her husband neared its end when this legal provision began to interfere with men's ability to naturalize. This unforeseen situation arose in and after 1918 when various states began approving an amendment to grant women suffrage (and which became the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1920). Given that women who derived citizenship through a husband's naturalization would now be able to vote, some judges refused to naturalize men whose wives did not meet eligibility requirements, including the ability to speak English. The additional examination of each applicant's wife delayed already crowded court dockets, and some men who were denied citizenship began to complain that it was unfair to let their wives' nationality interfere with their own.”
Back to our Martha Elnora Worthington, born in USA, who married Harry Bogart Richardson, born in Canada.  Elnora was the daughter of a proud member of the Sons of the American Revolution.  Her husband was the grandson and great grandson of United Empire Loyalists.  Did she lose her citizenship by her marriage?  I know her son told stories of traveling to Ontario to visit relatives, so she did leave the country.

They were married in 1889, according to Familysearch Wiki quoted above:
  • From 1855 to 1922 a woman took the citizenship of her husband. An alien woman who married a United States citizen became a United States citizen.

“Just as alien women gained U.S. citizenship by marriage, U.S.-born women often gained foreign nationality (and thereby lost their U.S. citizenship) by marriage to a foreigner. As the law increasingly linked women's citizenship to that of their husbands, the courts frequently found that U.S. citizen women expatriated themselves by marriage to an alien. For many years there was disagreement over whether a woman lost her U.S. citizenship simply by virtue of the marriage, or whether she had to actually leave the United States and take up residence with her husband abroad. Eventually it was decided that between 1866 and 1907 no woman lost her U.S. citizenship by marriage to an alien unless she left the United States. Yet this decision was probably of little comfort to some women who, resident in the United States since birth, had been unfairly treated as aliens since their marriages to noncitizens.”

The key to her citizenship is whether her husband naturalized.  Harry Bogart Richardson came to the USA in 1871 as an eight-year old child.  In the 1910 US census he lists himself as naturalized.  He would have automatically become a citizen if his father naturalized while he was a child and most likely his name would not appear on any naturalization paper, just the father’s name.  

I have not successfully documented his  father’s naturalization.  When I contacted NARA, they sent me copies of a pile of cards, all men were named William Richardson and came from Canada in 1871 and lived in Chicago.  There was no way to distinguish which was OUR William Richardson.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Paul Went Frollicking and to Places of Diversion in 1780

I wrote about Paul Dakin (1761 in Pawling NY - 1829 in Hudson NY) going frollicking and visiting places of diversion which led to his disownment from the Friends Meeting at Oblong New York in 1780 at the age of 19.  

Oblong Monthly Meeting Men’s Minutes 1757 -1781, Box NY - 105 Page 519 Paul Dakin Acknowledgement, 18th day 10th month 1780
The acknowledgements of Paul Dakin Ferris Doly Daniel Akin & James Akin Condeming their going to frollicks and Places of Diversion Is Left for the Consideration of Next Mo Meeting
Oblong Monthly Meeting Men’s Minutes 1781 - 1788 Box NY - 105 pages 50, 51, Paul Dakin Disowned, 15th day 11th month 1780
 One of the Friends appointed on Paul Dakins account Report that he has answered his appointment and as there to Nothing appears to alter Conclusion of Last Meeting Concerning him there after Due Consideration this Meeting Doth Testifie against his Mis Conduct and Disownes him from Being any Longer a Member of our Society untill he by his Conduct Manifest Sincere Repentance and amendment of Life and Make Satisfaction to this Meeting which that he may to own Desire and Testification being prepared against him was Read approved and Signed and the following Friends are appointed to give him a copy of his Denial if he Desires it and acquaint him of his Rite to an appeal and if he Shews No Intention of appealing Read it at the Close of a first Day Meeting at at Oblong and Report at Next Meeting That is Wing  Killey & Benjamin Ferris Jr ------------


At the time that I wrote that blog post, I could only imagine what frollicking and places of diversion actually were.  I have found a description for anyone who would like to know what Paul had done to get himself disowned by the Quakers.

From Quaker Hill A Sociological Study by Warrren H Wilson (New York, 1907), p.29:

The Meeting not only provided no play opportunities, but
it forbade the attendance of its members upon the "frollicks,"
which then were held, as nowadays they are are held, in the 
country side.  A gathering with plenty to eat, and in those
days a free indulgence in drink on the part of the men, with
music of the fiddler, and dancing, this was a "frollick" --that
horror of the meeting house elders.  Indeed, it was of inci-
dental moral detriment; for it was outlawed amusement, and
being under the ban, was controlled by men beyond the influ-
ence or control of the meeting.  The young people of the
Quaker families, and sometimes their elders, yielded to the
fascinations of these gatherings.  The unwonted excitement
of meeting, the sound of music, playing upon the capacity for
motor reactions in a people living and laboring outdoors, in-
flamed beyond control by rum and hard cider, soon led to 
lively, impulsive activities and physical exertions, both in 
immoderate excess and in disregard of all the inhabitions of
tradition and of conscience.  That there was a close relation of
these "frollicks" with sexual immorality of the period is

Now that we know what was involved in frollicking, just a reminder that the Quakers in the 18th century in the Oblong were not the ones with folks singing hymns in their church.  Their meetings for worship were silent unless someone was led to speak.  Singing and dancing, in and out of church, was frowned upon.

The Quakers were trying to "live apart" from the larger world community in a tightly knit community of their own.  However, in the neighborhood, were other settlers who were not Quakers.  The description of the challenges of holding a Quarterly Meeting [4 times a year, meetings in the same area met for worship and business] with Friends from a variety of meetings.  

An account is given elsewhere of the discipline of the
Meeting in its struggle against immorality and "frollicking."
The following quotation from James Woods' "The Purchase
Meeting," vividly depicts the confused elements of the social 
life of that time:  "On great occasions such as the holding
of a Quarterly Meeting, the population turned out en masse.
[Warren, p.28]

The population who turned out en masse are not the Quakers,
but rather the other residents of the Oblong, or in the case quoted above, Purchase meeting, who had no church restrictions on the various forms of amusement described below.

Piety and worldliness both observed the day.  The latter class 
gathered about the meeting house, had wrestling matches and 
various athletic sports in the neighboring fields, and horse
races on the adjacent roads.  The meetings regularly ap-
pointed committees as a police force to keep order among the
meeting  house during the time of worship and business."
[Warren, p. 28]

That was the Quakers' description of the temptations and distractions.  It was also confirmed by those "worldly" folks in the neighborhood:

The stories told by old Quaker Hill residents of the gather-
ings about the meeting house, even on First Day, or Sunday,
confirm the above quotation.  The field opposite the meeting
house, for  years after 1769, when the earliest meeting house
was moved away ...
... An old resident tells
me that crowds of men were always about the meeting  house
before and after meeting, and even during meeting, ...
[Warren, p. 28]

The Quakers might have been trying to live a life of piety and asceticism "separate from the world", but the temptations of the world were nearby and my GGG'grandfather, Paul Dakin succomed to them and as a result was disowned.

The link for this website is
© Erica Dakin Voolich, 2012.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Oh, What a Difference a Couple Hundred Years Make!

As a member of the Religious Society of Friends in the 21st century, the expectations sound very similar, but not exactly the same as in the 18th century.

My Meeting for Worship does not have any paid clergy, and so all the responsibilities of running the church need to be taken on by everyone in the church community.  Members of unprogrammed Friends Meetings often say "we didn't get rid of the ministers, we got rid of the laity."  Individuals need to take care of all of the jobs, or parts of jobs, that a staff at a church would provide.

For example, last year a young couple in our meeting wrote a letter to the Meeting requesting to be married under the care of our Meeting.  Their letter was read at a monthly meeting for worship to conduct business.  A committee was appointed to meet with the couple to see if they were clear for marriage.

Rewind a few years, back to the 18th century:
I was reading about members of Oblong Monthly Meeting in the series of books by Frank J Doherty, The Settlers of the Beekman Patent, Dutchess County, New York, An Historical and Genealogical Study of all the 18th Century Settlers in the Patent, (volumes I -X, 1990 - 2010).  It included examples couples coming to business meeting and requesting marriage under the care of the meeting and a committee of clearness was appointed.

For example:
  “The minutes of the Oblong Friend’s 
Meeting held 14th 6th month 1775 include:  “At this meeting Stephen Osborn,

son of John Osborn and Mary Osborn, deceased, and Sarah Boorn, Daughter of
Nathaniel Boorn and Freelove, his wife, appeared and offered perposals (sic)
with each other and consent of parents Being produced here this meeting
appoints Timothy Dakin and David Hoag to Inquire into the young man’s
clearness from all others in that respect and make a report next meeting.”
[volume IX, page 748]

note:  You might wonder why there wasn't a committee appointed to inquire about the woman's clearness.
Actually, that would have been done by the woman's meeting [there were separate meetings for business back then] and these were the notes from the men's meeting.

But then came the report, a big OOPS:

minutes for the meeting held at Oblong 20th 3rd month 1776 include:  “Stephen
Osborn produced to this (sic) an acknowledgment for his conduct in keeping 
Company with the woman which is now his wife, both living in one house, also
being unchast with her[,] is considered and excepted (sic) and Nathaniel
Stevenson and Reed Ferris are appointed to read it at the close of a first day
meeting at Oblong and New Milford.”
[volume IX, page 748]

Fast forward to the 21st century:
That couple in our meeting was found clear for marriage, and another committee was appointed.  This new committee was responsible to help the couple with the planning of the wedding "in the manner of Friends," taking care of the details before, during and after the wedding to make it legal in the eyes of the state, as well as, meeting the religious expectations of our Friends meeting.

A called meeting for worship was held.  The couple married each other surrounded by their family, friends and Friends in the meeting.  At the end of the meeting for worship for marriage, everyone present [all ages] signed the marriage certificate.  At the next meeting for business, the committee "shepherding" the wedding reported back to the meeting that the wedding was held and the marriage was accomplished in the manner of Friends.
That completed the jobs of the committee appointed to help with their wedding -- in the 21st century.

BUT, not so in the 18th century:

  “Ebenezer Peaslee was very active in the Oblong Friends Meeting and is noted
on 51 pages of the minutes from 1757 through 1780.  The first record was when 
he testified to the successful marriage of Joshua Sherman and Mary Soule at the 
meeting held 18th of 8th month 1757. ... Ebenezer Peaslee and Timothy Dakin
were often appointed to verify that a marriage had been consummated properly.” 

[Volume X, page 266]


“'Reuben Macy, late from Nantucket & Ruth Howard the daughter
of Edward Howard and Phebe Howard of this place came before
this (Oblong) Meeting (held 18th 8th month 1774) and proposed 
marriage to each other.'  The minutes of the meeting held 20th 10th
month 1774 show that Wing Kelly and Timothy Dakin reported 
that the marriage of Ruth Howard and Reuben Macy was decently
[Volume VI, page 720]

No one at my Meeting was appointed to investigate and report on the consummation of our young couple's marriage!

What a difference a couple of centuries makes!
I definitely have not been asked to take on the role that my GGGG'grandfather Timothy Dakin had in his Meeting.

©2012 Erica Dakin Voolich
The link to this page is

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Death on the Railroad Tracks, the Rest of the Story, part 2

These are the articles that I found on my GGG'grandfather's death that I recently wrote about in Part 1 of Death on the Railroad Tracks:

I found this article years ago, then last  year, I saw the rest of the 2nd article which my GG'grandfather had neglected to glue into his scrapbook.  Like other articles of the day, the title only refers to the content of the first paragraph and the rest of the article might not be part of the same story.

Paragraph #2: "Robert Martin, 83  years old, and employed as a laborer at Garfield Park race track, was stabbed in the head ..."

Paragraph #3:

Paragraph #4:

Paragraph #5: "Fred Fihlicht and Cornelius Kearns, aged 13 and 9 ... were drowned..."

Paragraph #6:

Quite informative: Nathan wasn't only person who died on tracks in that day.  In five paragraphs, we have five different stories of tragedy.  Three people died from injuries that day received on train tracks!

• Frail, elderly Nathan Cobb suffering from dementia, wandered onto the Chicago Northwestern tracks [see part 1].
• The unfortunate Willis Wheeler, who came to town and, as a "colored man," was asked "to move on"-- he got scared and "accidentally" ran into a grip-car.  [The other peoples' race wasn't mentioned in their stories.  Was race an important part of why Wheeler's accident  happened?]
Nicholas Rickard was killed driving his buggy across the train tracks and was struck by a train and killed instantly.  [Rickard seems to have misjudged how fast the train was coming.]

As a reminder of why so many people were easily injured in the 1890s by the trains and grip-cars, take a look at the corner of Lake and Marion in 1907.  The train tracks are right down the middle of the street.  Can you better understand why Nathan Cobb, Willis Wheeler and Nicholas Rickard all died on 24 June 1892?
1903 photo thanks to Oak Park River Forest Historical Society
Lake Street and Marion, Oak Park IL

Today there is an elevated train on Lake Street.  These tracks weren't elevated at all in 1892!

© Erica Dakin Voolich, 2012
The link for this page is

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Death on the Railroad Tracks, the Rest of the Story, part 1

When looking through my GG'grandfather Robert S Worthington's scrapbook, I found many family obituaries along with other articles and obits of interest to him.

Two of the articles/obituaries were the announcement of his father-in-law's death, Nathan Cobb on 24 June 1892.

So sad, an elderly gentleman, aged 85, walking with two canes and probably suffering from dementia is killed by a train.  The family clearly was caring for him at home and he slipped out of the house unnoticed.

How did he end up on the train tracks?  It wasn't far.  Looking at an earlier map of Oak Park from the 1870s (available at the Oak Park River Forest Historical Society), I noticed he lived a block and a half away.

Ironically, looking at the map close up

There is a picture of a Chicago Northwestern train right where Nathan was hit about 20 years later!

As someone who grew up in towns with trains running through them, the crossings all had signals, the tracks were a bit elevated and would be difficult to easily wander up to if walking with a couple of canes. BUT....

That is not how it was in 1892 in Oak Park.  Frank Lipo at the Oak Park River Forest Historical Society pointed out to me that the trains ran right down the middle of the road, no elevation at all.

Here is a picture of the Chicago Northwestern tracks at Harlem Ave (a few blocks away from where Nathan was hit):

photo thanks to Oak Park River Forest Historical Society
The corner of Harlem Ave and South Blvd

There is no challenge for someone walking with two canes to get onto these tracks!

Today those same tracks are up a full flight of stairs with North Blvd on one side and South Blvd on the other!

©Erica Dakin Voolich, 2012.
The link to this post is:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Murder Found!

I was researching at Allen County Public Library in Ft Wayne, Indiana last week Thursday and Friday.  Such a wonderful genealogical resource with very helpful librarians.
A good friend was with me.  I worked on my some of my challenging ancestors; she spent the time extending her mother's family a couple more generations -- much to her joy.

The night before we went, she talked on the phone to a relative who had mentioned, "you know, there was a murder in the family."  She called and got as many details as she could:  year, names, place, etc.
Unfortunately the place was "Indian Territory," the last name was correct, the first name wasn't, the year was correct.

"Indian Territory" is a rather big territory to look in for someone. 

When we got back to her home Friday night, I got to thinking:  if there was a murder, there's likely a newspaper story about it.   Off to  On the second try with a search of
last name: Gould
first name: [blank this time]
keywords:  murder
date:  1887
brought up these two articles with lots of details!

With these articles my friend not only has a description of the tragic murder in Burlingame, Kansas on 28 March 1887 of Ella Ruilison Gould by her husband Frank Gould leaving 3 young children parent-less, but she has many clues to use to trace the mother back in the family.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Three shared photos 7 years apart united in this blog!

Tombstone of Martha Searing Worthington
 and two of her children, Harriet and William Henry.
Copyright 2012 by Stephen J. Danko.
Photograph used with permission.

In 2009, genealogist Stephen Danko was traveling to Albany to work on some of his ancestors and offered to photograph the grave of my GGG'grandmother, Martha SEARING who married Denison WORTHINGTON.  At that time I had just learned from the Albany city historian that Martha was buried in the Albany City Cemetery in the LaGRANGE family plot of her husband's 2nd wife.

Martha married Denison WORTHINGTON
at the 2nd Presbyterian Church in Albany
New York on 24 December 1829.

They had three children, Robert Searing
(b. 4 October 1830), Harriet (b. 20 July
1833) and William Henry (b. 23 May 1836).

William died on 19 September 1837, Harriet died on 5 June 1838 and then Martha died on 23 March 1839, leaving Denison, a single father with a seven year old son, Robert Searing.  If you notice, all three of these people died between 1837 and 1839; the small detail of finding their graves in the Albany City Cemetery was that it didn't open for burials until 1843.  Clearly the tombstone with all three names, with Martha at the top (the last to die), was done years after the first death; and at some later time the bodies were moved to this cemetery.  Here is the inscription on the tombstone:

    wife of
    Died March 23, 1839
    Aged 31ys & 13 ds
    Their Son
    Died Sept. 19, 1837
    Aged 1 yr 3 mo & 27 ds
    and Daughter
    Died June 5, 1838
    Aged 4 ys 10 mo & 16 ds

Denison worked as a clerk and then about 1835 went into the grocery business with Mr Gilbert, it became Worthington & Davis until 1847 when Denison moved to Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.  Before moving to Wisconsin, he married Mary Ann LaGRANGE on 3 June 1840 in Albany NY.

I have not yet found out when the 2nd Presbyterian Church closed, but that is probably when the three bodies needed to be moved, most likely from the Church's cemetery.  Denison and his 2nd wife and children were already in Wisconsin and so the family of his second wife, his in-laws, Gerrit and Mary LaGrange,  must have arranged to move the graves of Denison's first wife and their children into the LaGrange family plot and add a tombstone for them.  He must have had a good relationship with his in-laws!

Over the next 15 years Mary Ann gave birth to seven children before she died 15 June 1856 in Summit Wisconsin.  Denison was left a single father with now 8 children, the youngest was 1 month old.  His oldest son, Robert, moved to Chicago and took a job as a clerk leaving Denison at home with Denison LaGrange (14), William Henry (13), Mary Frances (11), Martha (9), James LaGrange (6), Garrit Hazzard (2) and Frank Town (1 month).

By the 1860 census, Denison is still living on the family farm in Wisconsin with sons William (16) and James (11).

Meanwhile back in Albany living with their LaGrange grandparents are Denison (20) who is working as a clerk, Mary (15), Garret (6), and Frank (4).

Martha (13) is living with a physician in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin:

His oldest son, Robert (25) is still in Chicago, now living in a residence hotel and working as a bookkeeper.

He didn't marry his third wife until after the 1860 census, even though 1860 is the estimated  year of Denison marrying Julia PROUDFIT (widow of McNaughton).  She died four years later on 21 February 1864.

I thought I  had sorted out the story of my GGG'grandmother, not sure I'd find any real details of her short life.  Then seven years after I received a copy of the picture of her tombstone, Richard Worthington posted these pictures on my FaceBook page.  I've never seen either picture before, nor have I seen any pictures of Denison and Martha.  What a wonderful surprise!

Martha Searing, 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Question is Answered More than 50 Years Later

When I was in grade school, we went to neighborhood schools.  When high school came, off we went to a much larger school (at the time the largest in the state) which had kids from a variety of surrounding schools and communities.  Every high school seemed to be named "[something] Township".  Initially, I thought, all the schools from the surrounding communities fed our high school, but that wasn't exactly the case.

My best friend came from a grade school where her eighth grade class was sent to three different "Township" high schools -- and the lines for the townships didn't have much to do with town lines.  In her case, if she had lived a block or two in one of two different directions in the same community, we would never have met!  It didn't seem to make much sense to me and I wondered why.


Fast forward to 2012, I'm taking a course from The National Institute for Genealogical Studies on United States Land Records.  Aha!  My question from my days in high school is answered.  Thank you.  No one else could explain it to me when I was in high school.

The gist of the matter is the United States did not have one system for initial distribution of land to private individuals.  There were "State Land States" and "Federal Land States."  "State Land States" were controlled locally and usually a system of "metes and bounds" was used to describe the property initially (this system used the physical features of the land in the description -- which unfortunately can change over time such as a tree, a creek, etc.).  The "Federal Land States" had federal land offices in the state or territory and used a system of "townships, sections and ranges."  Guess who grew up in a "Federal Land State"?


Imagine a coordinate graph.  Instead of the x-axis, call that the base line; instead of the y-axis, call that the principal meridian.  Some states have more than one principal meridian, but just imagine one for right now.  Along the base line every 6 miles, mark off a vertical (north-south) line, call that a range line.  Along the principal meridian every 6 miles, mark off a horizontal (east-west) line, call that a township line.

Imagine one of those 6 mile by 6 mile squares (36 square miles), call that a township.  To locate a particular township in relation to the principal meridian - base line axes, you describe it in relation to that "origin" except now use N-S-E-W instead of positive and negative numbers.   The township called "T1N R2E" is read "township 1 north, range 2 east" and is the square is located 1 north (up) and 2 east (right) from where the principal meridian and base line intersect (think: the "origin").


The location of the township, seems logical, similar to but not exactly the same as a co-ordinate graph.  So, does this numbering system continue as we look within in a township?  Nope!

Now take one of those township squares (each a 6 mile by 6 mile square) and draw in the lines to make a grid with 36 squares (each one mile on each side).  Each of these 36 one-square-mile squares is a section.  Start numbering in the upper right hand corner, continue across to the left, drop down a square, continue numbering to the right, drop down a square, continue likewise till you get to the lower right hand corner, call that number 36.  Another way to think of it would be a snake, it's head is in square 1, each section of its body is numbered and the tip of it's tail is in 36 and it snakes back and forth, back and forth, and back and forth, fitting into the 36-square grid.   So, section 12 would be right under section 1 which is in the upper right hand corner of the township.


Do you think we're finished dividing up the grid?  Nope.  Now we can divide up each section, and again using yet another system.

Each section is one square mile or 640 acres.  You can imagine dividing that square by a vertical line (giving an east half and west half) or a horizontal line (giving a north  half and a south half).  Draw both lines and you get quarters (NW, NE, SW, SE).  Any of those quarters can be divided in half or into quarters giving 1/8 section (called "1/2 of a 1/4" or a "1/4 of a 1/2") or 1/16 (called "1/4 of a 1/4") or a 1/32 or a 1/64 (described as fractions of fractions of fractions...).  Now, if you want the SW1/4 of the SE1/4 of a particular section of a particular township, first find the township, then the section.  Then, divide that section into quarters, go to the southeast quarter (lower right) and divide that quarter into quarters and choose the southwest quarter (lower left).  That is 1/16 of a square mile, so it is 1/16 of 640 acres, namely 40 acres and is called a "quarter of a quarter."

So, putting it all together:   "SW1/4 of the SE1/4 sec 12 T1N R2E" is read  
"the southwest quarter of the southeast quarter of section 12 of township 1 north and range 2 east" and all of this is in relationship to one of the 36 principal meridians and one of the twenty-four baselines used in this system.


Now imagine that grid being dropping onto a map of a state that was not exactly designed by "Mother Nature" in a rectangular manner with its rivers and hills, for example.  That is why my high school had a population that was not logical to this high school student many years ago (and probably not to the adults in my life either).

If you'd like to read a better description complete with illustrations, check out the article "Range  Maps for Dummies" or consult E Wade Hone, Land & Property Research in the United States (Salt Lake City, Utah, Ancestry, 1997).

©Erica Dakin Voolich 2012
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