I have two ancestral relations by the name of Jeremiah Smith. The one on my father’s side is my 4x great grandfather, of New York and Michigan. The one on my mother’s side is, most likely, a 5x great uncle of Ohio.
A cousin of ours, who also descends from Jeremiah of New York and Michigan, recently contacted me with the information that recent DNA testing has proven that our Jeremiah Smith is indeed a son of Jeremiah Smith, senior, born 1755ish in New York whose wife was Sophia Herder. This also means that our belief that this line originates from George Adam Schmit of Rossbach, Germany, a Palatine German immigrant, is true!
Over the years our cousin has been in contact with a couple of researchers who descend from the same Smith line, and in one case the paper documentation just couldn’t be found to prove the connection of an unknown son of Jeremiah Smith and Sophia Herder. The DNA testing has proven that while the paper documents don’t exist, the results can’t be denied. So I also have another son, Benjamin, I can add to the list for this couple, a previously unknown uncle.
With more and more folks getting their DNA tested to help solve puzzles just like this, I am hoping that the future will bring more confirmations and affirmations to my own research.
My 3x great grandmother Janett (aka Jennie) Smith Rosa left Michigan, sometime in the early to mid 1860s, with her two daughters Carrie and Ida, and moved to Wisconsin, without her husband Abram. Abram testified in his pension application that she had left him while he was away during the Civil War. I believe it was possibly while he was incarcerated at the Fort Tortuga in 1865ish.
As to the reason why she left him? We will most likely never know the answer to that question. We can speculate that: Abram was abusive, lazy, or a crappy farmer, (his family did not have the best reputation around town); Jennie could have been scared of him, bored and went to try her luck somewhere else, unhappy with her choice, or shamed at his incarceration. It could be his fault. It could be her fault. It could be the fault of both of them. Either way, neither one of them are talking now. Their daughter Carrie told her own children that her father, Abram, had died in the Civil War, so who knows what Jennie had told Carrie, and her sister Ida. This same story was passed down to later generations as fact–now debunked. (NOTE: We have to remember though that Jennie was only 14 1/2 years old when she married Abram in February of 1854, Abram was 20.)
So Abram finally gets back from the war probably early in 1866. His wife and daughters are gone. Everyone tells him they took off for Wisconsin and won’t be coming back. Apparently, he didn’t care enough to try to get them back either.
In 1868, three years after the war was finally over, Janett married Fred Lavelly, in Oconto County, Wisconsin. About a year later, in 1869, Abram married Harriet Emerson in Berrien County, Michigan.
So, okay, this all sounds pretty straight-forward right? They have both moved on with their lives.
But the sticker is–I can find no divorce record for either of them. Not in Berrien County, Michigan. Not in Oconto County, Wisconsin. So that begs the question, were they both bigamists? It is quite possible they were.
Divorce at this time was a very expensive, and nasty, business. Neither one of them had much money to speak of, so the cost of court and lawyers would have been much on both of their minds. As they both lived in different states, maybe they decided that what no one knows, can’t hurt them. Which is probably why the story that Abram was killed during the war came to be part of the family lore. Abram could honestly say his wife deserted him, so in fact his marriage was over.
If indeed these two never divorced, it is the first known case of bigamy on either side of our family.
Happy Valentines Day!
P.S. Maybe there is a divorce case in Brown County, Wisconsin. I’m on it!
Really dont have any news. Lois will keep you informed when I know the exact time Ill be home, and were my next assignment is. What Im writing about is to see if you know any people in Parkersburg named Criner.
Major H. S. Criner is at Taegu [Air Base], where I am visiting. This evening we started talking and It seemed that he knew a lot of people that we should know. In fact his grandmothers name was Smith – wasnt there a Smith in our family? [Yes] He knows Shepards – Buchanans – [did a quick check on Lt. Col. Harold Smith Criner, not related via Smiths.]
There are a lot of Davis & Smiths in his family.
Well it has been warmer the past few days. Perhaps the last few weeks of my stay here will be more pleasant. Anyhow it doesnt matter very much, just so I get to come home around 1 March.
I suppose you will be getting ready to go to Canada soon. Wish I could make it, but it seems that I just wont ever get a vacation in the summer. Maybe when I reture?
Hope you are all well. Give my regards to Aunt Doshie & Uncle Burch. Ill see you soon
Being assaulted, in the news, by the constant, disgusting, goings on in Washington these days has gotten my revolutionary dander up. I won’t be taking up arms, like some wackos, but I will be armed, with a pen, at the voting booth.
All this dissent and conflict brings to mind my ancestors who fought a war in this country to rid themselves of a King. In fact, did you know — nah, you probably didn’t — that on the John side of our family, all, but one, of the our direct male ancestors living in America, of the Revolutionary War generation, fought in the American Revolution. The ‘one’ was actually a Loyalist, who, surprisingly, didn’t flee to Canada.
Abraham Rosa — From his pension record: …entered the service of the US in the Army of the Revolution under the following named officers and served as herein stated. That on the first day of February 1778 he was draughted for the term of nine months, under Captain Bogert of Albany, New York. He was draughted in the Town of Coxsackie, Greene County, New York Colonel Harper commanded the regiment….from Coxsackie he went to Albany, from Albany to Schoharie, where he was stationed at Twoman/Freeman[?] Fort and Beekers Fort. He was out on scouting parties after Indians some of the time...he was honorably discharged at Freeman Fort in Schoharrie by Colonel Harper…after serving 9 months…
15 May 1779 at Coxackie he volunteered for the term of 5 months in NY militia under Captain Philip Conine…he went from Coxsackie to Kiskadamnatia[?not on any map] 20 miles from Coxsackie where he was stationed most of the time, he went with scouts to Dices Mannor and Schoharie Kill after Indians some of the time…he was honorably discharged after serving…
2 June 1780 he volunteered again for the term of 4 months … under Captain Benjamin Dubois…he went to Catskill from there he went aboard a sloop and went by water to Fishkill in the north…from there to Thirt Point by canal…eventually crossed into New Jersey going to the town of Hackensack …in a company commanded by Captain Austin of the Light Infantry. Colonel Fancortland[?] Commanded the regiment, General Lafayette commanded the Brigade…He was drilled by Barron Steuben…he was honorably discharged 2 October…
He also went with a team 4 months in 1777 –he drew Battery and Cannon from Fort Edward to Lake George, baggage and commissaries stores, from Albany to Buman’s[?] Hights, soldiers that were wounded in the action with General Burgoyne to the hospital at Burmas’s[?] Heights, and foraged for our army from there, he carried baggage for Colonel Morgans regiment of riflemen to Geshin[?] in Orange County, NY where he was discharged the last of October…
The same year he went in the month of June before Captain Hermanes from Redhook commanded the party…1
Joseph Cross — From his pension record: …enlisted in the month of April in the year 1777 in the town of New London, Connecticut as a private in a company commanded by Captain Jonathan Parker in the regiment commanded by Colonel Charles Webb…served until April 1780 when he was discharged…he was in the battles of White Marsh, Monmouth…2
Jeremiah Peter Smith/Schmidt — From his pension record: … He was called or drafted into service in the fall, but does not remember the year, in Claverack, Albany County [now Columbia County], New York in the company commanded by Captain Jeremiah Miller in the regiment commanded by Colonel Robert Van Rensselaer for an indefinite amount of time. Immediately the company was called into service and marched to Schoharie, Schoharie County where they were stationed to guard against the British and the Indians. They stayed into late fall. The company was discharged by Capt. Miller and the commanding officer.
Then he was called out or drafted into service in the late summer, he does not remember the exact date or length of service, in Claverack in the company militia commanded by Captain Peter Bartle and Lieutenant Jeremiah Miller. They marched to Fort Edward on the Hudson River in New York and stayed there for two months, after which they marched to Lake George to meet with another part of the American Army which was stationed in a fort on the banks of the lake. During the march they met another part of the Army heading south at which time they returned to Fort Edwards staying there another month.They were discharged in the late fall.
He was called out another time in late spring of the next year or early summer, again he does not remember the exact date or length of service, in Claverack under Lt. Miller commanded by Van Rensselaer. The company marched to Albany and was stationed there with a few other companies to guard against attacks. They were there about a month then discharged again.3
Johannes Houghtaling — Loyalist. He is on a list of persons living “west of Stissing Mountain” (a hill 1 1/2 miles west of Pine Plains, in New York), who refused to sign the Articles of Association. Johannes didn’t fight for either side, but we don’t know his reasons. Those who made the choice not to fight English rule, did so out of a great variety of reasons: economics, loyalty, fear, desire for peace. We can only guess at Johannes’.
There are more soldiers on this side of the family, but they are uncles and cousin. And on mother’s side of the family there are too many to count; plus one Scot who was sent to America as a British prisoner of war, having been captured at the Battle of Preston, during the Jacobite Rebellion.
So what does this all mean? It means that my ancestors had a history of rising up against repression and corruption,( including fighting for the Union during the Civil War). I mean to continue in the same tradition, because I am mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore. So, I invite you to participate in the revolution. Get out–join, organize, VOTE!
NOTE: Most of the names of places and forts in Abraham Rosa’s pension are difficult to transcribe as they are hard to read. From what I have gleaned so far, few of the names as currently transcribed show up as actual places. A work in progress I guess.
Abraham Rosa, complete pension file #S.14381, Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 – ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 – ca. 1900, NARA, Record Group: 15, Roll: 2083.
Joseph and Serviah Cross, complete pension file #W16940, Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 – ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 – ca. 1900. NARA M804, Record Group: 15, Roll: 0699.
Jeremiah Smith and Sophia Smith, complete military pension file #W19378, Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 – ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 – ca. 1900. NARA Record Group: 15, Roll: 2218
We don’t know what her surname was at birth, or even her first husband’s name. But we do know that she was known by everyone in town as a chirurgeon (surgeon/doctor), and was recognized as such when her second husband’s probate case was in court.
Joanna arrived in the colonies sometime before 1640. As a wife, or a widow, we do not know. Her husband, if she had one, was not around by 1640. This we know because according to testimony regarding her 2nd husband John’s probate in 1680, she had married forty years earlier to John Smith. (I know, right. Just what I need, another bloody Smith in the family). She brought into this 2nd marriage one daughter, by the name of Elizabeth.
They were most likely married in Boston, where John had been working as a tailor/nailor*, and stayed there for about 13 years. (It is believe that he arrived in New England about 1638 with a brother, Nehemiah. This brother helped him out with a loan when the family wanted to moved to New London, Connecticut about 1653.
Joanna and John had no children, or at least not any that lived. (And John had no children when he died.)
She was a noted doctor and was skillful at healing wounds and bruises and made her own salves, which she used on the patients she tended. Her practice no doubt helped to fill the family pantry or coffers. These skills were passed on to her granddaughter Agnes, who married Thomas Pember. (It does not appear that her daughter Elizabeth was interested in learning the healing arts.)
Agnes (traditionally pronounced Inez, silent ‘g’) was an excellent student:
“Agnes studied medicine under her grandmother, Joanna Smith, became her assistant, and took over the practice when the grandmother became enfeebled. Caulkins’ History of New London, (page 355), mentions Agnes Pember, “was who was for many years famous as a nurse and doctress … Tradition related many vivid anecdotes respecting this energetic and experienced race of female practitioners… and unbounded confidence was placed in her female skills to stroke for the King’s evil (scrofula, thought to be cured the a touch from royalty), to cure cancers, alleviate asthma, and set bones.1
When John died in 1679, Edward Smith, a nephew (a son of John’s eldest brother), protested the will stating that the intent of John in inviting him to move to New England, was that he would treat him as his own son, and upon John’s death, Edward would inherit, as if a son. Probate court records indicate Joanna denied Edward the right to any inheritance, as the will never states any such thing, and all Edward could provide was heresay.
Joanna made a statement that she wished the court to consider regarding the matter of the will:
That I stand as the third person distinct from my deceased husband and Edward Smith, with a lawful conveyance of a part my husband’s estate in my hand which cannot be voided by all those former acts which they pretend to be my husband’s.
“He [Edward] is worse than an infidel that provides not for his own house. I was the proper house my husband had to provide for, flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, and he could not with good conscience do less than provide well for me. I brought an estate to him: I helped in getting the estate, the bare rents my husband knew would not maintain me, who he knew he was to leave blind and sickly and aged. If he did in former times say he would do more for Edward, and less for me, it is to be supposed that those purposes were upon his view of things as they stood when I was well able to live by my chyrurgery, now I am blind and cannot see a wound much less dress it or make salves, also my husband expected better behavior from Edward: then after he found, in the providence of God altering my condition so much as for being a good help to others, but I was grown to be a great burthen, gave my husband a just call to alter his former intentions and to give me what might purchase me that respect and supply which the necessity of my condition called for, and which was his indispensable duty to provide for which he having done, if it must not be undone, then woe to poor widows when their husbands are dead, and under what doubts must all consider, tender, conscionable husbands live and die when they shall see an instance of one that did what he could to provide for his widow, but it was frustrate the law would not maintain it. But I hope for better things from the prudence and justice of this court, such as may make the widows heart sing for joy and &c. “Joanna Smith”2
The case was in court a while, but eventually Joanna received her due.
In one of the depositions in the probate case from Richard Smith of New London we learn something interesting regarding her daughter Elizabeth:
“…Furthermore, John Smith added that his wife had been very earnest with him, to make one of her daughter’s children, his heir. But the said John Smith said he wholly declined it because his wife’s daughter was a Quaker and he could not abide Quakers, and also that her husband [George Way] did not please him.”
So apparently John didn’t care for his stepdaughter’s Quakerish ways (or her husband). A common view in New England at the time where Quakers were vilified, harassed, and even hanged for their belief.
Joanna was blind at the time of her husband’s death, which is stated several times in the depositions, and in the statement regarding her granddaughter Agnes taking over the doctoring business.
Deposition of Martha Mould: …and if that any words had passed between them in the last sickness wherein one being sick and sometimes testy and angry, and the other through age, weakness and want of sight, not able to do as formerly she could have done…
Deposition of Anne Lattemore: that she was there watching in the time of his sickness, and that Joanna acted “with all tenderness and due respect as a wife could do, being in such condition as she was, in being weak, aged and dark sighted.”
The following court case is found in Connecticut court records from 1682:
“Elizabeth Way presented for not living with her husband. The Court orders her to go to her husband or to be imprisoned.” Elizabeth stated that her husband resided in Saybrook and she would remain with her mother at New London as she was the only daughter of John and Johanna Smith.
So, Elizabeth up and left her husband to take care of her aged, blind mother. As her only child, and a devout Quaker, I would imagine that she felt she had no other course but to do her duty, as both. Maybe she was even glad to get away from the old ball and chain for a while. George certainly didn’t seem inclined to be reasonable about the matter, as shown by his bringing her to court to insist that she return home.
The court order was disregarded by Elizabeth.
Joanna died in 1687, aged about 73, but not before passing on her doctoring knowledge to her granddaughter Agnes, who was also well know for her skills. Joanna’s estate was inherited by her daughter Elizabeth, who was now living in Lyme, Connecticut. At no time does the maiden name of Elizabeth appear in the records, so we still do not know who her father is.
I am imagining a tradition of strong, intelligent women in Joanna’s family passing down these doctoring skills to the next generation. All of them, in their time, a vital part of their community. Just reading her statement to the probate court, in trying to get her just due from her husband’s estate, some of that strength comes through.
Joanna is an ancestor in my Dad’s Cross line. Joanna’s lawyer, representing her in the probate case, was William Pitkin. William is an ancestor on the Shaw side of the family, (through Charlotte Hatch). Ensign Clement Minor, an ancestor on mother’s Shepard side, testified against the nephew, Edward in the case. It’s a small world in the 1600s.
*Naylor is written in the records, some believe that to be a typo and he was a tailor, others think it meant nailor. Which sounds like a very weird job to me, what, you just nail all day. Hey, sir, you need anything nailed today. Hmmm. Doesn’t sound likely.
John Pember: The History of the Pember Family in America, Compiled by Mrs. Celeste Pember Hazen; 1939: self published.
A genealogical history of the descendants of the Rev. Nehemiah Smith of New London County, Conn.: with mention of his brother John and nephew Edward. 1638-1888, by Smith, Henry Allen, 1889; Albany, N.Y.: J. Munsell’s Sons.
Connecticut Way Family, compiled by C. Granville Way. Original manuscript in possession of Mary Elizabeth Way, Martinez, California. Loaned to the public library of Fort Wayne and Allen County, May 1978.
For the most part, when you are researching your ancestors, you don’t very often find much information about their personality or character. Sometimes it can be sussed out from certain types of court or probate records, or land deeds that have special dispensations, or if you are lucky a historical biography is found for them.
In the case of my Michigan Smiths it was a couple of newspaper articles in the paper that shined a sliver of light on their lives. The church history in the article below doesn’t actually say much about Jeremiah or Hannah Smith’s personality per se, but it does tell me about certain aspects of their lives that I would otherwise have to guess at, for example – their faith was important to them.
Jeremiah was born in 1790 in the state of New York. He was the descendant of German ‘Schmidt’ ancestors who emigrated to America in 1709 and Palantine Germans. The family was never well to do, so Jeremiah and his wife Hannah (Houghtaling) had to work hard to feed and cloth their family. At one time Jeremiah, unable to pay his bills, spent a few months in debtors prison when the family was living in Cayuga County, New York. Possibly in an attempt to avoid their debts, or just to try to make a better life for themselves, the Smiths packed up their trunks and headed to Michigan in the early 1840s. Their eldest son, Michael, had moved out there a year of so earlier.
The family seemed to be able to make a better go of it in their new home in Berrien County, Michigan. By 1844 they were meeting in a small log school about one mile west of Coloma, with other pioneers from the area, as the Mount Hope Methodist Society. Both Jeremiah and Hannah are mentioned as members of this first meeting in local historical records.
In the article below we find a fun little tidbit out about Jeremiah – when the local school in the 1990s celebrated Pioneer Day, Jeremiah Smith appeared as a trapper and teller of ‘tall tales’. Just those two words bring to mind all kinds of images and possibilities to the kind of life the family might have had.
Maybe a descendant, still living in the area, has passed this story of our grandfather down to each successive generation, or an old-timer remembered his grandfather talking about old man Smith and his crazy stories. I so would have loved to have been able to hear those tall tales.
I am always excited to find articles like these as they help to better visualize Jeremiah and Hannah’s, (and other ancestor’s) lives. They become more than just names on a page with birth and death dates. Something that is easy to forget in the data gathering of ancestors to ones family tree.
About a month ago I received my American Ancestors magazine in the mail and last weekend I decided to finally get it off my reading pile. The magazine is part of my membership in the NEHGS (New England Historical and Genealogical Society), along with The Register. It is very rare that any surnames of interest to my particular research ever pop up in these publications. So imagine my surprise when I am reading along in the ‘Genetics and Genealogy’ section, when the combined surname and location they are writing about starts bells dinging in my brain. I pulled out my trusty iPad, loaded my ‘Reunion’ app, and searched away. Sure enough there they were, exactly as I thought.
Once again Esther Newell brings some cool factoids to the Shaw line.
As I have mentioned before to my reader, we have at least four ancestral Smith lines in my family, (maybe even five, I keep losing count). The particular Smith line I was reading about in this article was in regards to the Smiths of Hartford and Farmington, in Hartford County, Connecticut.
Esther Newell’s mother was Abigail Smith. Abigail’s parents were John Smith and Abigail Wadsworth, and it appears that this John Smith was the great grandson of the Quaker emigrants Christopher Smith and Agnes Gibes who had emigrated and settled in Rhode Island.
In my own research on this particular line I could only find as far back as William Smith b.1617 who married Elizabeth Stanley[?] in 1644 in Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut. This new information gave me another generation and place of origin, proven by DNA and church records. Hence the title of the article I had been reading ‘Genetics and Genealogy.’
Of course none of that is the really cool part. It appears that these Smiths came from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. If the place seems familiar, how about this – Shakespeare anyone? In fact, Christopher and Agnes were married on the 1st of May, 1616, in the same church that William Shakespeare had been buried about a week prior.
So what was this article about? The focus of the article I was reading was connecting two Smith families, the Hartford Smiths of Connecticut and the Providence, Rhode Island Smiths. Were they related? And if so, how? There is a SmithConnections Northeastern DNA Project found at FamilyTreeDNA that is trying to sort out the many different Smith lines that show up in New England. Christopher’s line is labeled NE18 in this database, and it appears that 23 different participants match his yDNA. The descendants of the Hartford Smiths match each other, and Christopher’s yDNA, so Christopher must be of some kinship to the Hartford matches. It was assumed he was a cousin.
This is where documentation comes to save the day. One of the authors of the article had learned of the marriage record of Christopher and Agnes found in The Registers of Stratford-upon-Avon, in the County of Warwick Marriages, 1558-1812, and it was online. They proceeded to check on the baptisms and burials in the book and found two of the known children of Christopher and Agnes, so no surprise there. But then was shocked to find all the Hartford Smith names listed in the book too, as children of Christopher and Agnes.
Their eldest child, William Smith, bap. 1627 in Stratford-upon-Avon, is our line of descent from Christopher and Agnes. (William’s sister Mary married a Partridge, and his sister Susanna married a Wilkinson, both surnames that are also in our tree.) So the mystery of the connection of the two families was solved.
Apparently, the most curious question about the family, that hasn’t been answered to anyones satisfaction, is why were Christopher and his wife Quakers, and none of their children had any such affiliation. Well, that and the fact that the two generations appeared to have separated, with no documented connections appearing in the records in America. Maybe their religious differences split them up.
I guess there will be more to read about this family in a future publication. I look forward with great anticipation to reading it.
Source: Genetics and Genealogy: William Shakespeare and the Christopher Smith Family, by Kathleen Cooper Smith and Christopher Child; American Ancestors, volume 17, no. 1, page 50-53.