Friday, February 20, 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks -- Week 7 -- Hannah Caswell, A Brick Wall and a Mayflower Descendant

My ancestor, Hannah Caswell, was one of my brick walls for a long time.  She was married to my ancestor, William Slack.  I knew his ancestry but, for years, I didn't know hers.  I did all the logical and appropriate searches and came up with nothing.

Someone had said the her father was Jonathan Caswell but the only reason I could see was that she had a son named Jonathan Caswell Slack.  This was a bit of a clue but certainly not proof.  So...  I eventually did my search the wrong way.  I started with the immigrant ancestor, Thomas Caswell of Taunton, Massachusetts, whose genealogy was published in the Mayflower Descendant.  I searched down all of the branches of his family and found several Jonathans who were the right generation to have been Hannah's father.  I easily eliminated all but one of them.  I found that the remaining Jonathan was a son of Joseph Caswell and Lydia Harding who lived in Middlesex Co., Connecticut.  Once I got there, I found Hannah and her family and proceeded to prove the line all the way back to Thomas.

Jonathan Caswell married Margery Markham.  Hannah was their daughter.  She was baptized in East Hampton, Middlesex, Connecticut on 2 July 1786.  Jonathan and Margery and much of Jonathan's family, including Joseph Caswell and Lydia, moved to Otsego Co., New York.  That is where Hannah married William Slack on 30 April 1807.  William was from Northampton, Massachusetts.  He was a land owner in Springfield, Otsego Co. and that is where they lived.  They had four children, including my ancestor Philinda Slack who was born 3 January 1809.  Their other children were Jonathan Caswell Slack, Levi Slack, and Lewin Slack.  Levi and Lewin died in 1812 and I believe Hannah died then also -- but I have not found her grave.  (Which means she is a bit of a brick wall -- still!)  William took his two living children and went back to Massachusetts to his family.  There he was remarried in 1813.

Hannah is not only a descendant of Thomas Caswell but, through her mother, Margery Markham, she descends from the Mayflower three times -- making me a descendant of William Brewster, John Howland, and John Tilley.  I thought I didn't have any Mayflower lines and then I got three in one!

Friday, February 13, 2015

My Great Grandfather, Samuel Sandys Hillier

This is how it looked in 1994.
Samuel Sandys Hillier was born at Cowage Farm, Bremilham, Malmsbury Wiltshire, England on 22 December 1850.  He was a son of William Hillier and Elizabeth Pike.  In 1861, he appears on the census twice...
In the household of his father at Royal Oak, Bremilham, Malmsbury, as a son age 11.
In the household of Joseph Whale in Corston St., St. Paul, Malmsbury, as a visitor age 11.  He may have been going to school at this second place.

On 23 July 1872, he married Mary Ann "Molly" Newth, a daughter of William Pride Newth and Elizabeth "Betsy" Adkins.  They were married Malmsbury, Wiltshire.  Right after their marriage, they emigrated to the USA and settled in Hastings, Adams Co., Nebraska.  Then, after a trip to England in 1877-1878, they returned and settled in Kansas.  The reason for the trip to England in 1877 was his father's death.  They were first in Gettysburgh and Nicodemus, Graham Co. and then in Lenora, Norton Co., Kansas.  They moved to Pomona, Los Angeles Co., California in about 1886.

Samuel was a butcher most of his life but took up the sale of real estate in Pomona in about 1890.  In studying the Hillier family in England, I found that there were other butchers.  It may have been a family trade passed down.  He became a citizen of the United States in 1888.

Samuel and Mary Ann had thirteen children, nine of whom survived to adulthood.  They were Elizabeth Sarah Grace, William Sandys (died young), George John Ernest, Ruth (died young), Mabel Mary, Allen (died young), Charles Arthur "Charlie", John (died young), Ernest Stephen (my grandfather), Herbert Henry, Ray, Mary Edith, Nelly Ruth (died young).  Sometime before 1904, they were divorced while several of the children were still at home.  Samuel married Alice Erskine in Yuma, Arizona in 1904 and they had one child, Stuart Samuel, together in 1907.  By 1914, they were separated and she was married to someone else.  Mary Ann Newth never remarried.

My father lived with his grandmother Mary Ann Newth Hillier for a while as a child.  He had many stories to tell about the two bachelor uncles, Herbert and Ray, who were still at home at this time.  One story was about the Halloween when one of them (with the help of some friends) turned the outhouse over on its side -- the door side -- while the other one was in there and then ran off.  Daddy said his grandmother sent him to the bar to get them to come home and release him.

Samuel died on the 24 of January 1912 in Pomona.  My father, who was 6 years old at the time, remembered being fascinated by a little mouse that was running in and out, under his coffin.  Samuel is buried in Pomona Cemetery.  When Mary Ann died in 1919, she was buried next him.

Friday, February 6, 2015


Lewis Chilson was a brother of my fourth great grandfather, Joseph Chilson, Jr.  I want to talk about him because he had a more "colorful" life than the average Chilson.  He was born about 1798 in Westhampton, Hampshire, Massachusetts, the youngest son of Joseph Chilson, Sr. and Mary "Molly" French.  He married Dorcas Damon, a daughter of Nathan Damon and Olive Witherell, on 27 October 1820 in Westhampton.

Lewis and Dorcas had three children that I know of -- Orpha, Fordyce, and Rodney.  Rodney disappears from records and I suspect he died young.  Orpha and Fordyce managed to cause quite a bit of grief for their parents.

In 1850, I was unable to find Fordyce on the US Census in Westhampton.  After broadening the search, I found him in Charlestown, Middlesex Co. in the State Prison.  He was there because he was convicted of Larceny.  He had a wife and some children who were left behind to be cared for by relatives in Westhampton.  By 1860, he was home.  He and his family were living with Lewis and Dorcas.

As if this weren't enough, their daughter Orpha had a child Orinthia Weller Chilson out of wedlock.  I did a thorough search of records and found that the father of this child was Roland Weller, who was married to someone else at the time of this child's birth.  Orpha, eventually, got married to John Gray Russell.  However, Orinthia was raised by her grandparents and is found in their household in 1850 and 1860.

The Chilsons and other families who lived in the northern part a Westhampton, near the Chesterfield line, including Lewis Chilson, seemed to have decided to join the Chesterfield Baptist Society.  In New England, if you were not going to to attend and support the local Congregational (Puritan) Church, you had to submit a certificate proving that you were a member of and supporting another church.  I found quite a number of these in the Westhampton records, including one submitted by Lewis Chilson in 1824.  However, the Westhampton Congregational Church ignored it in his case.  To summarize the church minutes...  Several times in 1824, a complaint was brought against Lewis Chilson for "neglecting the preaching of the word and the Lord's table" for two years.  Various people were assigned to go out and talk to him.  All of them reported back that he was not planning to return to the Congregational Church.  Eventually, in 1825, they decided to excommunicate Lewis Chilson.  There were several public readings of this decision.  It is interesting to note that, Lewis Chilson had been a member of the Chesterfield Baptist Society for some time and had submitted the proper document about a year before the Congregational Church excommunicated him.  It seems a bit like persecution to me!  Especially since I couldn't find any other members of the Chesterfield Baptist Society who received this treatment.

In addition to all of this, poor Lewis had financial problems.  He was in court a number of times and his property was attached to help pay his debts several times.  Nevertheless, he remained right there in Westhampton is whole life even though his brothers all moved on.  He died on 24 August 1860 and is buried in the Westhampton Cemetery.  His wife died eleven years later and is buried next to him.

My Grandfather, Jenneke "John" Vos

Back row L to R Standing
Julia, Winnie, Pete
Front row L to R
Grandma Winifred, Mother Elsie on lap, Theresa,
Grandpa John, and Louie
My blogs, so far, have been about my father's family.  Today I am writing about my maternal grandfather who was an immigrant from The Netherlands.

My grandfather, Jenneke "John" Vos was born in Scharnegoutum, Friesland, Netherlands on 24 October 1879.  He lived to be 90 years old and died on Christmas Day in 1969.  He married Wiepkje "Winifred" Piers de Jong on 7 May 1904 in Sneek, Friesland, Netherlands.  She was the daughter of Pier Jans de Jong and Tjitske Jentjes Leenstra and was born in Hommerts, Friesland, Netherlands on 10 March 1882.

The first two children of this family were born in The Netherlands:  Jeltje "Julia" was born in Scharnegoutum in 1905; Pier "Pete" was born in Sneek in 1906.  In 1907, while my grandmother was expecting her next child, they came to the United States.  They departed from Rotterdam aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam and arrived at the Port of New York on 18 November 1907.

They first settled in Paterson, Passaic Co., New Jersey.  Some members of the Vos family preceded them to America and had a house there.  As other family members arrived, they all lived together in that house.  My grandfather's parents, Lolle Jenneke Vos and his wife Jeltje Jellema and all but one of their children came here.  John and Winifred, as they were called in the USA, had their third child, my aunt Winifred "Wiepjke" on 14 February 1908 in Paterson, New Jersey.  Also in Paterson, they had a son Louis "Lolle" in 1909.  He died there in 1910.

89 Akron St., Rochester, NY as it looked in 1992
In about 1910, the family moved to Rochester, Monroe Co., New York, and settled in a Dutch community there.  At this point, the various family units had their own homes.  My grandparents' home was at 89 Akron St.  Four additional children were born to them in Rochester:  Theresa "Tjitske" in 1911, Louis "Lolle" in 1914, Elsie "Uilkje" (my mother) in 1917, and Rudy "Ruurd" in 1918.  My aunt Winnie told me this story about my mother's birth.  She was born on April 1.  The older children were told to take the younger children to the park and to stay there until someone came to get them.  After a long time, someone finally came and told them they had a new baby sister.  They thought it was an April Fool's joke!  My mother got plenty of teasing in her life because of being born on that day.  

In 1921, the family made another move.  This time, all the way to Santa Monica, California -- on the train.  In Santa Monica, their last child was born -- William "Wiebe" in 1923.  My grandfather and his brothers were carpenters and built a number of houses in Santa Monica.  My grandparents lived in several places before they finally built their own home on Berkeley St. just off of Wilshire Blvd., which was a dirt road at the at time!

My Grandpa Vos gave me my first Bible.  I still have it.  The family were members of the Dutch Reformed Church until they moved to Santa Monica where there was no DRC.  They tried several churches and, eventually, settled on the Baptist church.  My Grandpa sang in the choir there.  In fact, all of the Vos family were musical.  Grandpa could play the organ and any kind of horn.  He had a booming bass voice and did lots of solos.  Sometimes my mother and I would go to his church to hear him sing.  The Vos family had a family band in The Netherlands.  In the picture below, you can see that some of them are holding their instruments.  They have many musicians among their descendants.
Back Row Standing L to R
Wiebe, Trijntje, Ruurd, Jenneke (my grandfather)
Middle Row L to R
Jeltje (great grandmother) holding Tjerkje, Liewe, Lolle Jenneke (great grandfather)
Front Row L to R
Eeltje, Tjerk, Pier

During WWII, many workers were needed in the aircraft industry.  My grandfather went to work at Douglas Aircraft and he remained there until he retired.  In 1924, he became a citizen of the United States.  When he died in 1969, he was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica next to my grandmother who had preceded him in death.