Friday, November 28, 2014


Benjamin QUINCY and Sarah "Sallie" HAMMOND were married on 1 January 1793 at Stanfordville Baptist Church, Dutchess County, New York.  My original assumption was that they were from that town or very nearby but a whole lot of research did not find parents for either of them in that area.

Benjamin Quincy was born in Massachusetts or New York according the the census records of his children.  Sarah Hammond was born in New York or Vermont according to the census records of her children.

As I continued my research, I discovered that the pastor of the Stanfordville Baptist Church "rode the circuit" to a lot of towns up and down the border of New York -- performing baptisms and marriages where there was no Baptist Church in the town.  Then he returned to his home church in Stanfordville and recorded the events there.  So I expanded my search!

A descendant in another branch of the family had told me that Sarah's father's name was Asa Hammond.  I tracked down every Asa Hammond in all of New York and New England. None of them fit as Sarah's father.  I now believe that she named a son Asa Hammond Quincy, not because her father was Asa Hammond, but because she simply like the name Asa and gave him her maiden name as a middle name -- a common practice.

Next, I attempted to track down and record information on every person the right age to be Sarah's father or Benjamin's father -- all up and down the Vermont/New York border.  I discovered that there was only one person named Quincy anywhere along the border (in fact only one in all of the state of New York), a John Quincy in Halfmoon, Albany (now Saratoga) County, New York.  There were a whole lot of Hammonds in the area but only one was living in the same town as John Quincy, a Phineas Hammond.  Each of these households had a child the right age to be Benjamin and Sallie.

Meanwhile, I had been looking at any and all records for their children for clues.  Their eldest son (my ancestor) was named John Quincy -- after his grandfather?  I discovered an obituary for one of their daughters that said she was born in Halfmoon, New York!  Now I figured I was getting somewhere.  However, there were no other records for John Quincy in Halfmoon.  I was able to track Phineas Hammond.  He moved to Pittsfield, Rutland, Vermont.  His brother Thomas and other relatives were living in Pittsfield.  Unfortunately, he didn't leave very many records there.

A genealogy has been published for the Hammonds of Newton, Massachusetts.  Phineas and Thomas and their siblings are included so I know it's the right family -- but no Sarah!

I believe I have found the fathers of Benjamin and Sarah but, after many years of research, can I prove it?  NO!  I'll eventually have another go at it but, for now, they are still brick walls!

Friday, November 14, 2014


Back in 1998, I was active on the Russell Rootsweb list.  One day, a woman named Jeanne posted a query.  She was asking about Allen George Russell who was a pilot and worked for Howard Hughes for a time.  That's about all she said.

I read that query and said to myself, "There couldn't be two!"  I wrote back and told her that I thought she was talking about my great uncle Allen George Russell who was born in Fallbrook, California in 1900.  I also said that, besides having worked for Howard Hughes, he was also the personal pilot for William Randolph Hearst for years -- and a few more facts.  I had no idea why she was looking for him. 

She wrote back and said, "That's him and he was my father!"  Let me tell you, that was a surprise!  I thought I knew all of Great Uncle Allen's wives and children.  After exchanging additional email, I learned that she was born to a wife that no one in family knew -- and that, apparently, it was bigamy!  I was able to put Jeanne in touch with her three living brothers and I organized a family reunion so she could come to Fallbrook and meet everyone.  She was so excited!  

The first time I saw Jeanne, I knew she was a Russell.  She looked a great deal like my grandmother (her aunt).   Jeanne became a friend.  I loved her and I will always be grateful that I was able to introduce her to her family.  Jeanne passed away in 2013.  I was able to see her a couple of  months before she died and I went to a memorial service for her at the end of the Seal Beach Pier.  May you always rest in peace, Jeanne!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Joseph Tipton Russell

When I first started researching my ancestors, more than forty years ago, I knew that my paternal second great grandfather, Joseph Tipton Russell, died in Buchanan Co., Missouri, and that he was born in "the mountainous region" of Tennessee.  I had also been told that he was Scots Irish.  

After several years of research, I discovered that his parents were Elijah Russell who was born 10 January 1782 in North Carolina and Elizabeth Edens from Virginia whose mother was a French Huguenot.  This couple was married in Carter Co., Tennessee.  They had nine children, Joseph Tipton being the youngest, and they migrated from Tennessee to Illinois to Missouri.

After more years of research, I figured out that Elijah Russell came to Tennessee from Wilkes Co., North Carolina -- but, after much research, I have never been able to be sure of his parents.  He may have been a son of William Russell but I can't prove it and I don't know where William came from either.

Joseph Tipton Russell is very different from my other ancestors.  He is the only one who is both Scots Irish and French Huguenot.  He is from the south rather than New England, England, or The Netherlands, where the records are nice and tidy and easy to find, like my other ancestors.  He is my favorite because his family is such a mystery!  My son Russell is named after this branch of the family.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

My Family

For my first blog post, I thought I would start with a little overview of my ancestors...

My mother's family were from the Province of Friesland in The Netherlands.  Her VOS grandparents, her parents, Jenneke/John and Wiepkje/Winifred DE JONG VOS, her eldest brother and sister, and other Vos relatives came to the United States in about 1910.  They arrived via Ellis Island and first settled in Paterson, New Jersey. They later moved to Rochester, New York, where my mother, Elsie Vos, was born on 1 April 1917.  Most of the family moved to Santa Monica, California in 1921.

My father's family were mostly of English ancestry.  His grandparents, Samuel Sandys HILLIER and Mary Ann NEWTH came from Wiltshire, England in about 1870.  They were in Nebraska and then Kansas before moving to Pomona, California in the 1880's.

My paternal grandmother's family were a bit more scattered.  Her mother, Mary Alice CHILSON'S, family can be traced back to early New England.  From there they went to Ohio, then Illinois and Kansas, then Fallbrook, California.  Her father's family, the RUSSELLS, came from North Carolina to Tennessee to Missouri to Kansas to Fallbrook, California.  I don't yet know where they were before North Carolina.

I'll talk about many of my ancestors in more detail as time goes on.