Uncle Dave's book

Friday, July 31, 2015

52 Ancestors Year 2 # 32: Henry Kells

     The theme for this week is "easy".  I chose my 2nd great grandfather, Henry Kells because researching him has been easy. When I first started asking about my family at the age of 13, my grandmother showed a copy she had made of a Bible page.  This listed the names and dates of Henry Kells, his wife and children.  My grandmother had copied from the Family Bible in her husband's family's home in Minnesota. These names and dates all checked out when I researched him.  I found him in every Census. My sister and I went to the town he lived in  in Wisconsin (Waukesha) and found they had a History Museum that had many documents including his will and land records. I found earlier deeds from Columbia County New York online at Family search.  Everything has been pretty easy with him.

     Henry Kells was born on 25 May 1811 at Claverack, Columbia, New York.  He was the sixth child and third son of Hendrick Kells and Margaret Batz.  On 3 May 1830 he married Caroline Avery in nearby Taghkanic.  By 1840 they were living in Cairo, Green, New York which was right across the Hudson River from Taghkanic.  By 1850 they were living in Mukwonago, Waukesha, Wisconsin. They lived on land belonging to Caroline's brother, Stephen. In 1853 they bought the land from him. This was swampland and it is now a bird sanctuary and not used for farming.  Yet they cultivated the land and made a living from it and lived on it for thirty-five years.

     Henry and Caroline had 12 children: Jacob Henry, Pamela, Elizabeth Ann, Amanda. Lucas, Stephen Avery, Lyman M., Caroline, Phoebe, William, Esther Jenny and Robert R.  Two of the boys, Lyman and Stephen Avery fought in the Civil War, in different Wisconsin regiments.  These children all grew up, married and had children of their own (except for Amanda who married but had no children).  There were thirty-seven grandchildren in all!

     By 1880 Henry and Caroline had sold the farm and were living in the nearby town of Vernon. It was here he died on 27 Dec 1892 at the age of 81.  Caroline followed him four years later in September 1896.  Most of the children named a son after Henry and a daughter after Caroline, which seems like a good indication of the affection in which they were held.  Henry's will was short, leaving all to his wife, Caroline and naming his son William as his executor. He signed with an X so he couldn't write which is interesting to note. It is a simple story.

Friday, July 24, 2015

52 Ancestors Year 2 # 31: Francis "Frank" Collins, Farmer of Leatra

     The story of Francis "Frank" Collins is a story of making every tidbit of information count and building as much on preponderance of the evidence as anything. It is a work in progress.  It's starts with my attempt to trace the ancestry of my husband's grandmother, Catherine Constance Collins.  I have described this is the blog post on her.  I started with a wrong birth date, three different Father's names, two different possible birth countries and places (both specific places wrong! one country right).  I finally visited my husband's cousin and we went through the photos and things his mother (Catherine's daughter) had left.  I found some photos of family in Ireland, the actual birthplace (Williamstown, Galway, Ireland) and in her address book I eventually noticed a name in an address I had never heard, "Leatra".  I googled Leatra and found "Collins of Leatra" a family reunion planned for that year.  I got in touch with them and found they were the descendants of Catherine's brother, I had found her family.  I asked for the name of whoever was most interested in the family history and got acquainted with him via email.  He sent me the family data he had which gave me Catherine's parents and grandparents' names. He also sent me a copy of "Leatra Lessons, The Magazine of the Leaatra School Reunion" a magazine or pamphlet published in 1997.  It was full of history of the school and the area and had many pictures.  Reading it thoroughly I found on p. 31 a list of every tenant living in Leatra in 1852 with the number on a map of where they lived, on p. 32 the names of everyone living in Leatra in the 1901 Census with the same corresponding numbers showing the plot of land where they lived. In 1852, Francis Collins lived on #10. in  1901 Michael Collins and family (including "Kate") lived on #10.  I felt that I had found Michael's grandfather, Catherine's great grandfather.  I noticed that he also leased land in Islands East where a number of names that eventually became a part of the family also lived (Connolly, Trears, Kearns).

     Searching for anything related to Francis I found a lease made on 2 Apr 1839 for a house and offices at Williamstown for the term of the lives of his two eldest sons, Thomas Collins and Patt Collins.In the Irish Petty Court Session Records I found several records of "Frank Collins, landholder of Lettera, Parish of Templetogher" involving various disputes with neighbors in 1856, 1860 and 1861.  At some point after this I went back over my notes from the microfilm of the Parish records of Templetogher which I had borrowed from the LDS Library.  Here I found in the listing of deaths, "1861, Sep 25, Frank Collins, Leatra". And 1859, Dec 8, Mary Collins , Leatra".

     The names Francis, Thomas and Patrick appear frequently in the family.  In fact I suspect that Francis' name was actually William Francis as that is the name the frequently appears. I believe that John had a son named William Francis born in 1850, he then named a son the same.  John's grandson, Patrick named a son William Francis. Michael's other two sons gave a son the middle name of Francis. Francis' son Thomas had a son William as well. Among the next generation there were two Williams and one Francis (and I have not necessarily been able to trace the complete families of everyone).  The names Patrick, Thomas, John and Michael all appear frequently as well (Michael is my husband's middle name, Patrick is his brother's middle name).  Perhaps this is not conclusive but until more data comes along it is at least a start.

     Based on the ages of his sons my estimate of the birth date of Francis is 1785, this would have made him about 76 when he died. He was called a landholder in the Petty Court Sessions so he was relatively well off.  Hopefully I will be able to find more about him and find his parents!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

52 Ancestors Year 2 #30: Carl Johan Knock, Musician and Professor

   Carl Johan (or John) Knock was my husband's mother's father, his maternal grandfather. My mother-in-law, Eloise Margaret Knock Negley, said that he had a Ph.D in music and was a music professor.  I have found this isn't quite correct. His Ph.D was in Psychology and Education but his thesis was on training someone to have perfect pitch.  He was a professor of Psychology, Mathematics and Education but he started and directed the First Swedish Lutheran Church Choir in 1906. He is written up for singing a solo in a choir and for playing the Captain in the H.M.S. Pinafore. So he was quite musical.

     Carl was born on 14 Sep 1878 on a farm in Clay township, Webster, Iowa. He was the third child and first son of Carl Gustaf Knock and Anna Louise Lindquist.  There were 10 children in all, five boys and five girls.  Carl's father died in 1893 when Carl was 15 and the youngest child in the family was only 13 months old.  Anna raised them on her own, moving to St. Peter, Minnesota by 1910, Iowa City, Iowa in 1915 and to St. Paul, Minnesota where she died in 1925.

     Carl went to the local school in Gowrie, Iowa and Tobin College.  He entered the Iowa State Teachers College in 1901 and graduated with a B. Di degree (Bachelor of Didactics, which is the science of teaching) in 1904.  He then spent a year being the principal of schools in Mitchell, Iowa.  He entered Gustavus Adolphus College in about 1906, graduating with an A.B. (same as our B.A.) in 1908. At that time he also taught music and directed the Glee Clubs. He then went to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia from 1909-1910 earning a Masters in Education.  In the 1910 Federal Census, he appears twice.  Once in St. Peter with his mother and again in Philadelphia as a boarder attending school.  During the summers of 1908 and 1911 he did graduate work at the University of Chicago.  In the Fall of 1911 he returned to Gustavus Adolphus as the chair of the Education and Psychology Department. It was here he met Huldah Mallgren who was the College librarian.  They were married in about 1914 (I still haven't found the exact date).

     Carl and Huldah moved to Iowa City, Iowa where he was appointed fellow in Psychology at the State University of Iowa 1914-1915 and assistant in research 1915-1916.  In 1916 his daughter, Eloise Margaret, was born.  By 1917 he was the head of the Department of Education at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. He was there on 12 Sept 1918 when he filled out his WW I draft card.  This describes him as medium height, medium build, gray eyes and blonde hair.  By 1920, though, he was in Wahoo, Nebraska where he was the Principal of the Normal Department at Luther College. The Normal Department taught students how to be teachers.

     Unfortunately by 1922 Carl was quite ill and died on 23 Jan 1923 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He appears to have been quite a brilliant young man.  Some of his other accomplishments include: in 1904 he appeared in H.M.S. Pinafore in Cedar Falls, Iowa and "acquitted himself creditably", in 1906 he spent the summer travelling with a quartet where he received praise for his fine tenor voice.  In 1908 he won an oratorical contest.  In 1913 he appeared with the male chorus of Gustavus Adolphus and sang "Temples on the Adrian Sea", "delightfully".  But the achievement of which he was most proud was the starting of the First Swedish Lutheran Church Choir in 1906 in St. Peter. He seems to have had a combination of academic interests and musical ones.  His daughter remembered him as a Music Professor and treasured his baton which he used to direct his choir.

Friday, July 10, 2015

52 Ancestors Year 2 #29: Alma Agnes Hudson Quinn, "Aunt Alma"

     The theme this week is "Road Trip".  When I was a girl in the 50's my family went on at least two road trips to visit my Dad's Aunt Alma in her home in Fort Worth, Texas from our home in Little Rock, Arkansas. She was a lovely woman and made us feel at home.  I especially remember her showing my sister and I her collection of jewelry.  She gave me a bracelet which I still had and wore as a young woman.  It was Egyptian Revival, dark metal with semi precious stones on scarabs. It occurs to me that her jewelry may be one reason I became attracted to vintage jewelry years later.

     Alma Agnes Hudson was born on 28 Jul 1895 in Texarkana, Texas, daughter of Benjamin Melvin Hudson and Agnes Georgiana Cookson (see earlier blogs on them). She was the third of four daughters.  She seems to have been popular in High School as she was the Secretary of the Senior Class.  She graduated from Central High School in Fort Worth in 1913.  She then attended College at Chicago University.  I'm not sure if she graduated or what she studied there but she did become a highly skilled stenographer Secretary and worked for an Oil Company most of her life.  While her older sisters, Edna and Mabel, became teachers and her younger sister, Bessie, was a Minister's wife, Alma had a career as a stenographer.  In the 1920 Census she is living at home in Fort Worth and working as a steno for an automobile company.  In 1930 she is on her own in Houston, working for  an Oil company.  When I first knew her in the 50's she was still working for an Oil Company in Fort Worth.

     On 24 Jun 1931, she married Edward James Quinn, both age 36 at the time. They were married in Detroit, I believe because that is where her sister, Bessie lived.  They then lived in Chicago (per the 1940 Census they had been living in Chicago in 1935) before moving to Downer's Grove, DuPage, Illinois, a suburb 22 miles west of Chicago. It was here on 4 Mar 1935 that their daughter, Evelyn Hudson Quinn was born.  The 1940 Census gives his profession as Appraiser (in the 1930 Census he was a mechanic).  On his 1942 WW II Draft Registration Card he and family are again living in Chicago and he is working for the Lloyd Thomas Co., which is still a Real Estate Co. in Chicago. Edward was born in Brooklyn, his father was born in Glasgow, Scotland.

     Unfortunately, Edward died on 14 Aug 1948, when Evelyn was 13.  Alma moved back to Fort Worth and back into the family home with her father and sister, Edna.  She lived there the rest of her life.  Alma had a strong love of family and frequently visited by her nephews and niece and her sisters Mabel and Bessie.  She traveled to Duarte,

California in 1977 to be with Bessie at her 60th Wedding Anniversary.  Alma died on 21 Dec 1981, her sister, Bessie, joined her only a few months later on 12 May 1982.  She was a well loved daughter, sister, wife, mother and aunt!


Sunday, July 5, 2015

52 Ancestors Year 2 #28: Solomon Avery, Revolutionary War massacre survivor

     Solomon Avery was born 17 Jun 1729 in Groton, London, Connecticut.  Son of Humphrey Avery and Jerusha Morgan, he was from a large family of Averys in that area.  He married Hannah Punderson in Groton on 18 Feb 1751.  They had nine children between 1752 and 1774. They were living in Norwich, Connecticut in 1772 when he moved to the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania.  He had land in Wilkes-Barre and Putnam in that area.

     In July 1778, during the American Revolution, this area of the Wyoming Valley was the site of a large battle and massacre called the Battle of Wyoming or the "Wyoming Massacre". There were three American forts in the valley, Wintermute, Forty Fort and Jenkin's.  The British Colonel John Butler with a regiment of Loyalists, known as Butler's Rangers, and 464 Iroquois warriors (mostly Seneca) attacked these forts.  They captured all three,  killing most of the defenders, capturing and torturing to death about 30 as well. Most of the settlers fled. The Boston Gazette and County Journal ran an article on 27 Jul 1778, quoting a letter from Samuel Avery of 15 Jul 1778,  "Giving the disagreeable intelligence brought by Mr. Solomon Avery this moment returned from Wyoming on the Susquehanna River, which says 'the informant conceiveds [sic] that of about five thousand inhabitants one half are killed and taken by the enemy prisoners and the others fleeing away naked and distressed!". News of this event created quite a popular outcry against the British and their use of the Indians. In 1780, Solomon and others asked Congress for help to build a fort to protect the settlers on the Susquehanna River.

     After this event Solomon returned to Groton (with his family presumably).  But here he was yet again to confront a massacre and tragedy for his larger family.  On 6 Sep 1781 the British, under Benedict Arnold himself of Connecticut, attacked Fort Griswold, on the heights above Groton.  This is called the Battle of Groton Heights or the "Fort Griswold Massacre."  Being very outnumbered the Americans surrendered. At this point the British came and slaughtered the soldiers and took others prisoner.  About 150 died.  This was a major disaster for Groton both in terms of lives lost and in destruction to the town.  It was the last battle in the North as the British surrendered at Yorktown only six weeks later.  A letter of 11 Jul 1783, survives that Solomon wrote to his brother, Waightstill, in which he says, "Eleven Averys were killed in the fort at Groton and seven wounded.  Many Averys have been killed in this county, but there have been no Tories among them of our name."  Solomon's son, Ebenezer, age 16, told of his moccasins being covered in blood when he went to the fort to help recover the bodies of his family members.

     There are records that suggest that Solomon also fought for brief time periods in the War.  But certainly he was a patriot and proud of his family's involvement and lack of Tories!

     Solomon returned to Pennsylvania where he died on 23 Dec 1798 in Putnam. He is buried in Marcy Pioneer Cemetery, Tunkhannock, Wyoming, Pennsylvania. It seems appropriate to review his life on July 4, 2015, at the anniversary of America's fight for independence.