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Sunday, March 29, 2015

52 Ancestors Year 2 #14: Sancha de Ayala, Spanish Noblewoman

     Sancha de Ayala brought the only non-Caucasian blood into the family tree that I have found! Some twenty-one generations before her a Spanish ancestress married one of the Caliphs of Cordoba, an Arab of the Umayyad Dynasty. An account of her and her family tree on Rootsweb said that this made her a descendant of Mohammad.  However, I studied this out and the Umayyads were not descended from him. They were cousins. But she is interesting for much more than this!

     Sancha was born in 1360 in Toledo, Castille, Spain.  Her father, Diego Gomez de Toledo, was a nobleman who lived in a palace.  His grandfather was the Grand Chamberlain of King Fernando IV. Her mother, Inez Alfonsa DeAyala, was of an old noble line which included many kings, and went back to the house of Lara from which all the Kings of Spain come.  So she and all her siblings took her mother's name.  Perhaps of most interest to us is the fact that her 12 times great grandfather on her mother's side is Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar or El Cid, the great Spanish Conqueror and hero. He is my twenty-ninth great grandfather. Sancha's brother, Pedro Suarez DeAyala, became the great grandfather of Ferdinand I of Ferdinand and Isabella fame and is the ancestor of almost of the kings and queens of Europe including Queen Elizabeth II of England. So she is well connected!

     In 1371, Constanza, daughter of the deposed king of Castille, Don Pedro(the Cruel) I, came to England and married John of Gaunt, son of Edward III.  She brought several young Spanish noble ladies with her, including Sancha.  In 1373, Sancha married a Knight in the employ of John of Gaunt, Walter Blount. She was friends with Geoffrey Chaucer, author of The Canterbury Tales,  and his wife, Philippa. There are various references to the Blounts in the contemporary records.  Sancha and Walter had two children, Thomas and Constance.  Walter was killed in the battle of Shrewsbury on 21 July 1403.  He is mentioned in Shakespeare's Henry IV. Sancha founded a chantry in the Hospital of St. Leonard in Derbyshire after her husband died and helped her daughter raise her children after her husband died. Sancha made her will in 1415 (it still exists!) and died in 1418.  She was buried beside her husband in the Collegiate Church of St. Mary in Newark, Leicestershire. She seems like a model noblewoman of the period.

     Both her son, Thomas and her daughter, Constance, had children some of whose descendants came to America.  Presidents Benjamin Harrison and William Henry Harrison, and the two Bushes are among them. I think it is fascinating how one woman doing such a simple natural thing as marrying and having children can have such influence!


Friday, March 20, 2015

52 Ancestors Year 2, #12 Maria Teresa Rosa Tinetti and #13 Maria Teresa Domenica "Minnie" Tinetti, twin sisters

     Maria Teresa Rosa Tinetti and Maria Teresa Domenica (Rosa and Minnie) Tinetti were born on 15 Oct 1868 in Vallia, a frazione of Torre Canavese, Piemonte, Italia.  They were the second and third child and first daughters of Giovanni Tinetti and his second wife, Catterina Zanotti-Cussio.  Domenica was born first.  On 16 Aug 1885, Rosa married Luigi Bonino.  Rosa was only 16.  Luigi had been in America and returned to Italy to find a wife.  After marrying Rosa the two of them returned to America. They went to Hurley, Wisconsin, where they ran a Saloon for the miners there, many of whom were Italian. Rosa soon sent for her twin sister, Minnie, who arrived in 1888. Shortly after arriving, Minnie married Pietro Giovanni Peretti who came from Priacco, a town not far from Torre Canavese.  A year or so later Rosa sent for their younger sister, Angelina, who married in 1891 a miner from Sporminore in Trentino, Italy.  Soon Rosa and Luigi (now Louis) moved to Coal City, Illinois, where Minnie and Pietro lived and Angelina and Frank moved to Comox, Birtish Columbia, Canada. Eventually Rosa and Louis moved to Coalgate, Coal County, Oklahoma where they are both buried. The three sisters stayed in touch, I have photos in my family collection of their children visiting each other.  Rosa and Luigi had 7 children as did Angelina and Frank Stefani, while Minnie and Pietro had 11 children.  Luigi died in 1920, Pietro in 1926 while Rosa lived to 1942, Minnie to 1946.  Angelina died in 1947 having outlived all her siblings while Frank survived them all not dying until 1953.

     Neither Rosa not Minnie had twins but Angelina's daughter, Edith, had twins (my mother, Margaret and her brother, Milton).  I was told it was passed in the female line and skipped a generation which put me in line for twins but I didn't have them. I think it interesting that the photos I have of Rosa and Minnie in their later years look quite a bit alike, you can see they are twins! Rosa seems to have been the trend setter in the family, being the first to get married, first to come to America and bringing her sisters after her. She was the first to have a child, and the first to lose a husband. I suspect the family looked to her for leadership and advice for her whole life!

Friday, March 13, 2015

52 Ancestors Year 2 #11: Michael James Collins, Irish farmer of Leatra

     Michael James Collins was my husband's grandmother's father.  He lived in Galway, in the Province of Connaught in the western part of Ireland.  He lived in the townland of Leatra, which name, "Liath thra", means grey sand.  This area is on a well travelled route from Western Ireland to the East used by wayfarers and armies throughout the ages.  A major battle was fought there in 1316, contesting the kingship of Connaught.

     Michael was born around 1855, married Mary Connally around 1878.  I have not found exact records for ether event. I did find the baptismal record for their first child, Mary, born 14 Nov 1878 in Leatra.  They had ten children, 6 girls and four boys.  We find the family in the 1901 and 1911 Irish Census. In 1901 their house is described as having stone, brick or cement walls, one room and one window. They are Catholic, speak Irish and English and neither Michael nor Mary can read or write. In 1911, the Census reports that Michael is blind(it didn't say this in 1901).

     Michael seems to have been a bit of a fighter, he stood up for his rights. Eileen Finnegan in "A History of the Parish of Templetogher and the Town of Williamstown", she describes the "Springtown Riots." These took place in 1880 at the end of a three year famine.  The tenants requested a reduction of rent and were not given it and they rioted. Police were present but refused to fire on the crowd so injuries were minor being confined to three people with bayonet wounds, one of whom was "a Collins man from Leitra".  I believe that this was Michael, could have been a brother but the only Collins man seen with the designation of Leitra(Leatra) at that time is Michael. I've also found a number mentions of him in the Petty Court Sessions records from Williamstown either as a complainant or defendant. As a complainant it has been about people trespassing or owing him money.  As a defendant it has been because he refused to pay a particular assessment, and he was allowed to not pay it! He also was accused of having an unlicensed dog.  I also find him in the Dog License records up to 1914 licensing Female or Male Curs almost all yellow, one brown. I guess he learned his lesson on the dog licensing.

     The one other record or notice I've found of him is the fact that in 1886 he gave some of his land for the use of founding a National School in Leatra.  He swapped the land for another field, but still he made it possible for his children and the others in the area to receive an education.  I think he probably realized that his own lack of education (he couldn't read or write remember) kept him from being more that a poor farmer and wanted something better for his children. And most of them did go on to other places and better lives.  His son, Patrick stayed on the farm and it is still in the family today.

     I don't have a record of his death or know when it was.  He was buried in Cill Croain (Kilcroan) Cemetery near Ballymoe.  There is no headstone.  His wife, Mary, is buried in Kildarea Cemetery near Polredmond.  Again, no headstone. There many descendants in Ireland, England and the U.S. still remember or visit Leatra when they can.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

52 Ancestors Year 2 #10: Obadiah Cookson, the Stormy Weather of Marriage

      Obadiah Cookson was born on 1 Feb 1709, son of John and Rachel (Proctor) Cookson of Boston, Massachusetts.  He was the second son and fourth child of eight children. On 26 Apr 1737, he married Margaret Smith, daughter of Thomas Smith also of Boston.  They had two children, John, born 10 April 1738 (and our ancestor) and Margaret born 29 May 1740, both in Boston.  Sadly, Obadiah's wife, Margaret, died on 19 Jan 1742 leaving him with two small children, age 3 and 20 months.

     Obadiah needed a new wife so perhaps he was a bit hasty to remarry.  On 22 June 1743 he married a second time, Faith Waldo, daughter of Cornelius Waldo.  She was thirty, he was thirty-four.  They had three children, Samuel, Elizabeth and Lydia.

     Obadiah was a grocer with a shop on Fish Street in Boston, "at the sign of the Cross X Pistols".  He posted numerous advertisements in the newspapers of the day.  Waldo Lincoln in "Genealogy of the Waldo Family, 1902, says he was "a very eccentric man" and a "persistent advertiser, in that respect being ahead of his times." In a confirmation of a mortgage dated 1 Sep 1756, he was called, "a Person thought to be of unsound mind." At some point he was accused of advertising a house for sale that he didn't own.

     Faith left Obadiah in 1748, according to Lincoln Waldo.  Their daughter, Lydia was born 28 Jul 1749, so she likely left late in 1748 while pregnant with Lydia.  She left because "the marriage had proved unhappy". It must have been very unhappy indeed because women didn't do that in 1748 Boston.  She never went back to him. She was supported by her brother, John Waldo, and in 1763 an act was passed by the Massachusetts Legislature allowing her to sell land that was left to her by her father. this act, dated 24 Feb 1763, states that Faith "still under covert with Obadiah Cookson...the said Obadiah and Faith having lived separate for divers years and continuing to do so."

     Obadiah didn't take well to this turn of events. In Waldo Lincoln's book her prints "a singular notice" that Obadiah placed in the Boston Gazette on 28 Jun 1748 (note the dates don't make sense as Lydia was born Jun 1749 unless there was a brief reconciliation between Obadiah and his wife.) In this notice he catalogs his problems with his wife, Faith, saying she ran away from him, threatened to run him into debt, had a feather bed taken out of the house without his permission, took papers, money, china, books, keys out of his house and declares that he will not be responsible for her debts unless she returns and "manifests her steady disposition to behave as a wife ought by Law and Reason to do..." If she does come back he promises to "proclaim with great Cheerfulness her good Deeds" as he does now her "Evil ones".  He also mentions that Faith's brother, John Waldo, violently assaulted him.  This notice apparently created quite a stir because the next day the Gazette published a notice that they would no longer print "Advertisements of Elopements" unless signed by a Justice of the Peace!

     Obadiah died on 17 Nov 1764 in Pepperell, Massachusetts where the record lists him as a "stranger from Boston". He was 55.  Perhaps he was there for business.  Faith died in Boston on 8 Nov 1784, age 71. Their son, Samuel became a prominent citizen in Boston but their daughters never married.  Perhaps they were discouraged from doing so by the experience of their mother!