Saturday, November 27, 2010

History of a House


During my formative years, I lived in an old house located at the corner of Conklin Avenue and Mary Street on the South Side of Binghamton, New York. The property consisted of two lots totaling about an acre of land. A house and a two story barn stood on that land. A search of Broome County deed records revealed an interesting history.

The area that became Binghamton was a part of a land patent deeded to William Bingham of Philadelphia in 1792. Bingham had extensive land holdings in northern Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier of New York. This land was first visited by troops of the Sullivan Expedition in 1779. The first settlers arrived in 1802 and the community was called Chenango Point, since it was situated around the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango rivers. The last will and testament of William Bingham was probated on 17 September 1805 in Philadelphia. A William Stuart bought the property from the estate of William Bingham on 12 July 1826 (Liber 9, p. 464).

In 1834, this area was a village in the Town of Binghamton. There were several transactions in the deed book between 1836 and 1846. 

The first platting of the land took place in 1850. The property had been purchased by a man named Sackville Cox in 1849. He called the development Cox Place. According to the 1850 Census, Sackville Cox had been born in England and his wife, Mary in Ireland.
 Cox sold lots 6 and 8 to Henry Eldredge on 26 December 1849 who then tendered them to Hugh Hart on 30 September 1850. A subsequent land transfer took place in 1853, with the land going to William S. Beard. 
According to an old Binghamton map, there was no house on lots 6 or 8 in 1855. The earliest town directory, published in 1857, shows a Darwin Felter, a millwright, living there at the corner of South Water Street and Mary Street. Therefore, a house was built on the property sometime between 1855 and 1857. The land that my home stood on was identified as lot 6 of that plat. A two-story 3 stall barn was situated at the west edge of lot 8, facing Mary Street.

In the 1860 Census, Darwin Felter and his wife Sarah and children Nellie, Willie and Mary were enumerated at the corner of South Water Street and Mary Street.  In 1861, deed records indicate that Sarah Ann Felter bought the property from William S. Beard (Liber 58, p. 105).

Binghamton became a city in 1867. The Felters were enumerated at the site in the 1870 and 1880 censuses. Darwin Felter was identified as Superintendent of the City Water Works. In 1890, according to the city directory, the address had changed from South Water Street to Conklin Avenue. Darwin Felter was still living in the house in 1900, as shown in the 1900 census. In that census, his wife of 10 years was listed as Margaret. The house stayed in the family after Darwin's death. In 1910 and 1920, Nellie and her husband David Munro and her brother William were living at 30 Conklin Avenue. The Felter descendants owned the property until Nellie and William sold the property to Alexander S. Williamson on 28 November 1928. In 1936, according to the Binghamton City Directory, Charles Baker (non-owner) was living there. On 26 October 1936, Dr. Charles F. and Mary E. Hawley purchased the property (Liber 468, p. 298) from the Williamsons. Doctor Hawley establish his office on the first floor in the rear of the large house, with therest of the structure devoted to living space for the family, which consisted of Dr. and Mrs. Hawley and their infant daughter. This was the Hawley residence and Dr. Hawley's office for nineteen years. In 1955, the State of New York confiscated the house and land to build the State Street Bridge across the Susquehanna River, a sad end to the life of a beloved old house. 

Family legend has it that the house was a stop on the Underground Railway during the Civil War. However, no records have been found to verify that claim.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mystery #14: Richard Hincksman

The HIncksman/Henchman/Hinchman clan has been very difficult to nail down. As with John Hincksman, outlined previously, Richard Hincksman was a mariner. "The Register of Salomon Lachaire, Notary Public of New Amsterdam, 1661-1662" identifies Richard as an English mariner of Boston. On pages 212-213 of the document, Richard Hincksman bought the "Barcke Black Bird, from another mariner, Mathew Bunne, 5 October 1662. On page 215 of the book, 9 October 1662, Richard is again before Salomon Lachaire concerning payment for a large quantity of "Virginy" leaf tobacco from Cornelius Stenewyck, merchant. It is not currently known if this is the Richard Hinckesman of London, who was married to Hannah Newberry and the father of Daniel, John and Ann.
The name Richard Hincksman appears in other publications from this colonial period both in records from England and in New England (which, by the way, includes Long Island). No evidence has been found yet to indicate if this is two Richards or one.

Since Richard and John are both mariners from Boston and have ties to New York and Virginia, it is possible that they were related, perhaps Richard the father and John the son. It is also possible that they may have been the  John and Richard born to Edmund and Elizabeth Hinksman in Martley, Worcestershire in 1636 and 1638. Since Martley is land-locked, it is less likely that they would become mariners. It is of course possible that Richard is from a different family that has not been researched yet. The mystery continues.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mystery #13 (Solved): Daniel Beagle's Father

Among the printed ancestral stories given to me by my mom, one states "Daniel Beagle (blacksmith)...born in Liberty (Cayuga County) New York probably between 1846-50....I don't remember his father's name, but do remember he was married 5-times and had extensive knowledge of Indian lore. He traded throughout the wilderness area of Northeastern New York." A variation of this story is that one of the five women was an Indian and that we are her descendants.

This is one of those family stories which could be true but is placed in the wrong time frame. Daniel Beagle's father was named John. John was born in 1815 in Schenectady County, New York, the first child of Moses and Sally Ann (Bice) Beagle. Moses was born in Albany County and Sally Ann in Dutchess County, both in New York State. The Moses Beagle family lived in Schoharie County from at least 1818 until the early to mid-1830s, when they moved to Worcester, Otsego County, NY.

On May 27, 1836, their eldest son John married Margaret Rifenburg of Worcester. The couple settled near Davenport, Delaware County, NY. According to Delaware County deed records, John purchased land in Davenport in 1841 from Gideon Wilbur. That was around the time that Harvey, their third child (second son), was born. Third son Daniel was also born there in 1843. Later in the 1840s the family lived in Jefferson, Schoharie County, while John plied his trade as a mason. They are enumerated in Jefferson in the 1850 census. Daughter Martha and son George were born during their stay in that county.

Around 1852, John and Margaret and their family moved to a farm located just outside the town of Walton (a section known as Ox Bow) in Delaware County. They lived there for the rest of their lives and are buried in the Walton Cemetery.

There is no evidence that John had any more than one wife or that he traded with the Indians. Both John and son Daniel served in the Civil War. Daniel became a carpenter and settled in Hancock, Delaware County, NY.

Stories such as this may give us clues to more distant history since there is sometimes a grain of truth hidden in there. The challenge is to find that "grain."

Mystery #12: Lazier (Lasure) Legends

Many years ago, Mom gave me her views on our ancestral lineages via paper and conversation. One page was labeled "the Leisur/LaSure Family." She stated that her mother said her father (Barney) "came to this country without shoes. His father James had nothing, wanted nothing, except escape from the wars and economic chaos of France. Mom stated that James, a widower, migrated from Normandy into Canada, possibly settling in Nova Scotia first before migrating to New Jersey around 1811 and that James was married twice." Further written family history claims that he was a Huguenot. Another family report stated that James, a brother Henry and sons Baronett and Catherine, all born in France, migrated between 1851 and 1853.

With extensive, still continuing research, the truth is emerging. The Huguenot migration from France took place much earlier, starting during the late 16th century and continuing into the early 18th century as French Calvinists fled persecution. They migrated to places throughout the western world that were friendly to emigrating Protestants.

"The Commemorative Biographical Record of Northeastern Pennsylvania," a 'mug' book published in the late 1890s, includes a biographical sketch of Baronett (Barney) Lasure. "Baronett J. Lasure was born September 27, 1840 in Sussex County, New Jersey, a son of Henry and Rachel (Shurt) Lasure, who were born, reared and married in that State. The paternal grandfather, James Lasure, was a native of France, and on his emigration to America located in New Jersey, where his death occurred. Besides the father of our subject, his children were Joseph, a resident of Owego, N.Y. and Jacob and Mrs. Eliza Talmage, both of New Jersey." The above statement appears to be mostly true.

In the 1830 US Census, James "Lasher" was between 50 and 60 years old, therefore born sometime between 1770 and 1780 (long after the Huguenot migration). In 1830 he was living in Vernon, Sussex County, New Jersey. He could not have been the immigrant. Some documentation has been found and is being examined that place James' birth in Bergen County, New Jersey. This proved to be a different James, who moved to Canada. Later evidence points to James being born in Hamburg, Sussex County, NJ.

James lived in Vernon until his death sometime before the 1850 census enumeration date. In that census record, his offspring were Joseph, Eliza, Henry and Jacob all born between 1807 and 1818 in New Jersey.

Unfortunately, James' tenure in Sussex County is difficult to verify since the 1790-1820 census records for New Jersey were destroyed. Later census records for his children show their births in New Jersey.

As one can see, there is usually some grain of truth in family stories. The challenge is to verify what is fact and what is legend.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mystery #11: William and Mary

William Hincksman resided in Marshfield, Massachusetts during the 1650's. He appears in Town Minutes in 1658, around the same time that an Edmund Hincksman disappears from those minutes. Most Hincksman family researchers have identified this William as the son of Edmund and as the husband of a Mary Philberd.

According to Boston records, a William Hinckesman and a Mary Philberd were married on 20 November 1652. That couple had two known children, born January 1653 and December 1665 in Boston.
[Records relating to the early history of Boston; Boston Registry Department, pp. 39, 41, 51.]

The names and dates of birth of the children of the Marshfield couple were: Hannah (Sept. 1658), Joseph(Feb. 1660), Fortunatus (July 1663), Elizabeth (Oct. 1665), Elnathan (Jan. 1670), and Edmund (Apr. 1670). (Obviously the dates for Elnathan and Edmund are incorrect.)
[Source: Mayflower Descendant: a quarterly magazine of pilgrim genealogy and history, vol. 2; pp. 4, 7, 111, 112, 182. Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants.]

Could this be the same William and Mary? It is quite logical to assume that this is the same couple for at least three reasons: 1) colonial people seemed to move around quite a bit, 2) there were a number of Hincksman individuals living in Boston at the time, and 3) no such marriage is found in old Marshfield records. However, when one notes that the the Marshfield William and Mary had a child born October 1665 and the Boston couple had a child born in December 1665, it certainly would appear that this was two different couples. Unfortunately, the old Marshfield records are of very poor quality and many, including (apparently) the marriage of William and Mary have been lost.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Maybe a Clue about John Beagle?

From the Revolutionary War Widow's Pension Papers she signed in 1838, Lavintyea (Winche) Van Nosdall Beagle, wife of Revolutionary patriot, John Beagle, stated that her (maternal) grandparents, John and Fanny Vermilyea, were present at the wedding in 1785. (There was no mention of her parents being there.)

Using an online depository of old newspapers, I checked for articles about the surname Vermilyea. Two advertisements concerning sales of land were found in 18th century New York newspapers.

An ad, posted by Isaac Vermilyea on March 20 and 27, 1769 in the New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, described a farm "situate near King's Bridge..." Among the articles included in the purchase was a "Quantity of Weavers Utensils."

Another ad, written by a Philip Vermilyea, Cortlandt Town, March 14, 1794 and posted in Greenleaf's New York Journal on March 26 and 29, 1794 described "A very Convenient place and good stand for a mechanic, whether Weaver, Black-Smith, Tanner, or Currier, being situated on the banks of the Hudson...about two acres of land...There is on the premises, a new framed house...and a log building, which has been improved as a weaver's shop."

It appears that at least a part of the Vermilyea clan was engaged in the craft of weaving. Did a member of that family teach John Beagle the weaver's craft? Is that the Dutchess County connection I have been searching for?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mystery #10: Where was John Beagle born and who were his parents?

According to DAR applications submitted in the 1920s and 1930s, John Beagle, Revolutionary patriot, was born in Holland in 1745. This is highly unlikely since Dutch immigration into the North American continent ended at least 35 years before his birth. Researcher Hiram Bise wrote a brief history of the family in the late 19th century, stating that the family emigrated from Holland in the mid 1600's. Another researcher stated that the original Beagles were early settlers on Long Island and then went to Bergen Co., NJ before moving up the Hudson to Dutchess. This scenario has not yet been corroborated.

So, if John Beagle was not born in Holland, then where?

John may have been born in Long Island since variations of the family name appear in Hempstead during the 17th and 18th centuries. However, absence of the birth of such a person in the published records appears to contradict this possibility.

Since John married a young woman in Fishkill Plains, Dutchess County in 1785 (he was 40 years old and she was 17), it seems likely that his family had some roots in that county. Did John know her family before the war? Perhaps John had served with one of her relatives or maybe those Beagles in Dutchess County were his cousins? There was a John Beagle born in the same time frame in Dutchess County, probably the John Beagle who served in Brinkerhoff's Dutchess County Regiment during the Revolutionary War. Was that John related to my Beagles?

John’s second and third enlistments during the Revolutionary War took place in Schenectady. In December 1778, the Company Muster Roll states that John was "Sick in Schenectady Smallpox." Some researchers place John and his family in Schenectady between 1790 and 1792. Could he have been born there - or did he have relatives there?

There is a family story that our early Beagle ancestors lived in the "wilds" of New York, traded with the Indians, and that one of those ancestors married an Indian woman. True? Family legend? Or, maybe a bit of both? A possible clue to John's birthplace might be that he served most of the Revolutionary War under Captain Leonard Bleecker whose ancestor had been a translator among the Indians. Did they know each other before the War or did they meet for the first time during the expedition to Canada (1775) in which both participated?

An article "Migration Pathways to and from Dutchess County, New York, 1683-1820" by Frank J. Doherty, Sr., pp. 55-57, appearing in the Spring 2010 issue of "American Ancestors" Magazine, states that "Settlers came to Dutchess mostly from the south and east, some from the north, and a few from the west. Since primogeniture (meaning that the oldest son got the family farm) was in effect at that time, many younger sons set out to find their own lands. The author continues, "As late as 1758-60, approximately 70% of the men (serving in the French and Indian War) had been born outside Dutchess County, some from as far away as Europe. Sizable migration out of Dutchess County began about 1764...with many soldiers having seen the good land above Albany and, they decided to start anew in the north."

Is it possible that my Beagle line did indeed first settle in Long Island and that John's ancestor could have migrated north (perhaps with a stop in New Jersey), settling in the wilds of northern New York because of the lucrative fur trade, and then the family moved south into Dutchess County. It is also possible that they might have been among those New Englanders who came to New York.

Since John Beagle enlisted in the Revolutionary army in 1775 at New City (later called Lansingburgh, now a part of Troy, New York), it is most likely that John lived in that area at the time, plying his trade as a weaver. Did he come to that area from the north or west or from the south? Or...was he born there?

After returning from Canada, John was assigned to patrol duty along the North River (now known as the Hudson River) and Lake Champlain, Apparently, he knew that territory well enough to be entrusted to scout it with confidence. I believe that we can definitely consider that his "home turf" within that time frame.

A Moses Beagle was a prisoner of the British during the war and died in captivity. Was that Moses related to John? Did John name his second son after that Moses?

So many questions, so few answers. Hopefully, future research will shed some light on these mysteries.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mystery #9: How many Johns?

It has been assumed by Hinchman family researchers that John Hincksman of Oyster Bay was the John Hinchman who received a land patent in Flushing, Long Island in 1664 and settled there. Let's look at what we know.

According to printed materials, Flushing (Vlissingen) was settled by English who came there from Holland and received land patents from the Dutch governor in the mid-17th century.

A History of Long Island" by William S. Pelletreau states that the first real settlement in Oyster Bay was begun in 1653 on land purchased by Peter Wright, Samuel Mayo and William Leverich. (p. 129) A vessel owned by Samuel Mayo of Barnstable (Massachusetts), under the command of John Dickinson, was employed in conveying the adventurers and goods to Oyster Bay. An early map of Oyster Bay shows a J. Hincksman owning property next to John Dickinson on land along Oyster Bay Harbor.

From old Oyster Bay records we find this transaction:
"...I John hincksman Late of oyster Baye on Longisland have and by these presants doe Alynate Bargine and sell and have sould unto John dickinson of ye Aforesayd oyster Baye all and singular all yt parsell of land which I Exchanged and had of petter wright..." (Oyster Bay Town Records. Volume 1-1653-1690, p. 162 from page 145 Old A) That transaction was probably the earliest record found on Long Island of a contract for the sale of land, It was reported in "The Wright Family of Oyster Bay, Long Island...1423-1923". The brokerage fee was was "broad-cloath" and liquor to Dickenson, and "a quart of sack" and liquor to Peter Wright for making the bargain. The actual deed was signed the next day of February 1659, and was the second deed in Oyster Bay records.

John Hinchman of Flushing was magistrate and large landowner. His wife was named Sarah. He received land patents in 1664 and 1684 (along with Francis Doughty and John Marston). According to the 1675 Valuation of Estates for Flushing, Hinchman was one of the elite residents of the town. His land was near Flushing Bay.

A Jan Hinchman received a patent on Staten Island in 1676.

One of John Hinchman's daughters married a son of Rev. Francis Doughty, minister at Flushing.

John Hincksman of Boston, was a widely traveled mariner. He is found in records of Massachusetts, Long Island, and Virginia. He, along with a Kenneline Winslow of Boston, Massachusetts, owned a ship, the Barque "Return."

The name John Hincksman (aka Jan Hingsman) appears several times in Long Island legal records in reference to goods being shipped and the payment for same between himself and Francis "Douty." (1663) It appeared that John (Jan) was having trouble coming up with payment for his crew.

In Virginia, several Hincksman land transactions took place between 1662 and 1664. The name Francis Doughty is found in some of those records. (He had moved from Flushing to Maryland and then Virginia by 1664.)

A John Hincksman of Boston married Elizabeth Emmons in 1660. No issue was found for that couple in Boston records. Elizabeth remarried in 1675 (as related in my first posting on this blog). Was her husband John the mariner? The codicil attached to the will of Elizabeth's mother indicates that John Hincksman had borrowed money from her. Apparently, he was not forthcoming in settling the debt. Additionally, his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Mrs. Emmons, was left out of the will. Some have assumed that happened because Elizabeth had died. However, Elizabeth remarried in 1675 and had issue.

Are these different individuals with similar names? Or are they the same, very busy, man? Since there were so few people living in the colonies in the mid-1600s, it would be quite surprising to find many sharing name similarities. What do you think?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mystery # 8: John Hinchman, Surgeon and Tavern Owner

Little is definitively known about the John Hinchman who resided in Sussex County, New Jersey during the latter part of the 18th century. Records indicate that he was a large landowner, a surgeon and a tavern owner. We do not know where he lived before settling in Sussex County. No record has been found as to how or when John acquired land in Sussex County.

Family histories identify John as the fifth son of Joseph and Mary Bloodgood Hinchman of Long Island. Joseph was a physician who died at a relatively young age in 1744, leaving a widow, and seven children under the age of 21. Joseph's will leaves his widow and children each 1/8 of his estate. Joseph left his books and instruments of "chirurgery" to his oldest son Joseph. A series of notices were placed by his widow in the New York Gazette newspaper between November 18 and December 2, 1751 advertising the December 9 public auction of the family estate, estimated to be 80 acres MOL.

A mortgage record places John Hinchman in Sussex County in 1771. On March 25 of that year, he was the mortgator to Joseph Barton, his father-in-law. This transaction is somewhat surprising since Joseph Barton was a wealthy man - it would appear to be more likely that John would be on the receiving end of the mortgage. John is listed on the 1773-1774 New Jersey Tax List for Hardiston Township, Sussex County, NJ.

John first applied for a tavern license in 1772 and was approved. He renewed his tavern license for most years from 1772 to 1775 and from 1787 to 1795. According to a record from the New Jersey Archives, John served as a surgeon in the Sussex County Militia during the Revolutionary War, roughly encompassing the years that he did not apply for a tavern license. The tavern was in his home, identified as being in Hardiston.

It is unlikely that John studied at a school of medicine. He, like most doctors of that day, probably apprenticed himself to an experienced practitioner. In colonial days, surgeons could be anyone who had a sharp instrument. Many were Barber Surgeons. This is the only individual I have found to be a Surgeon Tavern Owner, a combination that seems appropriate since his bar could serve nicely as an operating table and, as a tavern, there would have been an ample amount of alcohol to use as an anesthetic.

John died intestate in 1796. The papers of administration, with his wife as administrator, refer to him as a doctor. The division of the estate, which included about one square mile of land along the road now referred to as Route 94, took place on September 1, 1800 at the home of Thomas Blain, by then the second husband of Abigail Barton Hinchman.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mystery #7: Why was Sarah E. Beagle living with Robert Coon and his family in 1875?

The eldest daughter of Robert and Sarah A. Fisher Coon was named Sarah Eliza. She married Daniel Beagle in 1866. In the 1875 New York State census record, she is enumerated with her parents and without her husband or children. Where was Daniel? Where were their four children born between 1867 and 1875?

Follow-up on Robert Coon's birthplace

A check of the 1875 New York State Census shows the following entry for Robert Coon in Hancock, Delaware County, New York. Robert, age 68, born in Columbia County, a farmer. This confirms my research that he was indeed born in that county in 1807. It appears that I have him in the correct family with his father being Henry S. Coon, who was his neighbor in Cochecton in the 1840 census.

Monday, February 1, 2010

John Beagle (aka Beedle): Revolutionary Patriot

Little is known about John Beagle (aka John Beedle) before 1775. Through Revolutionary War Company Muster Rolls, Pay Rolls and Pension documents, John Beagle’s service to his country can be traced from his enlistment at Lansingburgh (then called New City), New York, located about 10 miles north of Albany. He served in the colonial forces commanded by General Montgomery during the expedition against Quebec and participated in the battle, siege and capture of the fort at St. John. Among the officers on that mission were Leonard Bleecker, Peter Gansevoort and Goose Van Schaick. After returning from Canada, John Beagle was a member of a contingent of soldiers detached from the main force for service along Lake Champlain and the North River.

After completing his initial nine-month enlistment, John joined Captain John Bradt’s Schenectady Rangers for a term of up to 4 months. In early 1777, Colonel Henry Livingston gave Lieutenant Leonard Bleecker a stipend of 40 pounds for recruitment. Bleecker was promoted to Captain and formed a unit under the command of Colonel Peter Gansevoort in the Third New York Regiment. John Beagle enlisted in that unit for the duration of the War and was promoted to Corporal on March 12, 1777.

The Third Regiment was stationed at Fort Stanwix from April 1777 to November 1778. Life at the fort was very difficult. The fort was small, built to house about 300 men but there were 750 stationed there. The enlisted men slept four to a bunk in very cramped quarters.

During the siege of the fort, from August 3 to August 22, 1777, the British forces fired their cannons throughout the day and night, a very nerve-wracking experience. Four Colonial soldiers were killed and 18 wounded. Nine members of the troop deserted, not knowing that help was on the way. On the last day of the siege, the British cannons fired often during the morning and then there was silence. The British and their allies had disappeared. They left so fast that 150 of their men were left in the trenches.

After the siege, life mainly consisted of marching and cleaning boots and weapons. They dared not go out of the fort for fear of a return of the British or of being attacked by British sympathizers. Boredom led to fights and more desertions. In November 1778, relief forces arrived and the Third Regiment was finally allowed to join the fight.

In 1781, with the war winding down, the New York regiments were reorganized. Col. Gansevoort was relieved of command and returned home. Some of his men were discharged. John Beagle was retained in Capt. Bleecker’s unit under the command of Col. Goose Van Schaick in the First New York Regiment. This Regiment was at Yorktown, Virginia during the surrender of Cornwallis.

John Beagle was discharged at Snake Hill, Newburgh, Orange County, NY in November 1783, Two years later, on his 40th birthday, he married Lavintyea “Winche” Van Nosdall in Fishkill Plains, NY. She was 17 years old. John and Winche had ten children, born between 1786 and 1807. We know the names of 8 of them: William, Moses, Mary, Catherine, Phebe, Sarah, Jemima, and Samuel. For the first few years of their marriage, John and Winche lived in Rensselaerwyck on rented land. Three known children were born there between 1786 and 1790. (A John Beedle is enumerated in the 1790 census in Rensselaerwyck.) John Beagle received a Land Bounty Grant in that year. In 1792 the family moved to Schoharie. The next 5 known children were born there. The last, Samuel, was reportedly born in Dutchess County.

In 1818, at the age of 72 years, 7 months and 8 days¸ John Beagle made his application for a pension. It is in that detailed statement that we learn that John Beagle had been a weaver. By that time, he was too infirm to ply his trade and unable to support his wife. John Beagle died in Schoharie on the Friday after Election Day in November 1829.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Mystery #6: Robert Coon

Robert Coon was born in New York State early in the 19th century. Around 1835 he married Sarah Ann Fisher. They had 8 children born between 1836 and 1856. Robert was enumerated in Cochecton, Sullivan County in the 1840 census with his age given as 30-40, placing his birth sometime between 1810 and 1820, most likely by 1815. Robert's neighbors in Cochecton were Henry S. Coon (age 60-70) and Andrew Coon (age 40-50). Henry is enumerated between Robert and Andrew. This would appear to be a nice family grouping.

In the New York State Census, the county of birth is listed for persons born in the state. The 1865 census lists Robert's birthplace as Montgomery. Was that Montgomery County birthplace for Robert correct or was this an enumerator's error? Or, was Robert perhaps referring to the town of Montgomery in Orange County, a town located between Columbia and Sullivan counties? "The History of the Town of Cochecton" found on the Sullivan County Historical Society website states that, in early days, Cochecton was the western terminus of the Cochecton-Newburgh Turnpike, which would have made Cochecton (and other places along the route) likely places for settlement by people migrating from Dutchess and Columbia counties. According to published accounts of the area, which was a part of the Hardenburgh Patent, the land was leased to settlers until the "Anti-Rent War" in 1844. Deed records indicate that Robert purchased land in Cochecton in 1844.

Robert was still alive in 1880. The 1875 NYS census will be checked to see what county he declared at that time.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thomas the Skinner

As mentioned in a previous post, Thomas Henchman, who resided in Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire, England during the latter part of the 16th century, was a Skinner and a member of the Skinners Guild of London. The Bishops' Visitation of London 1633-34 declares him to have that occupation. Microfilmed records of apprentice bindings and freedoms for that guild were examined in the time frame 1496 to 1624. Thomas was accepted as an apprentice in February 1574 for a period of 10 years. He is identified as Thomas Crosborowe als Hensman, son of Thomas Crosborowe of Wellingboro, Northamptonshire.
There is a legend that a Thomas Crosborough saved the life of the king on a boar hunt and the king declared "Truly thou art my veritable Henchman," whereupon Thomas changed his name to Henchman. Some sources have identified the king as Henry VII (1485-1509) and others say Edward IV (1461-1483).
This entry in the Skinners' records appears to contradict that scenario. When Thomas Crosborowe als Hensman became an apprentice, at least 65 years had passed since the death of Henry VII, and almost 100 years since the death of Edward. Thomas' father was still using the Crosborowe variant of the Crosborough surname. Additionally, the surname adopted by the Northamptonshire Crosboroughs was Hensman, not Henchman. It appears that Thomas' generation was the first to adopt the Hensman surname. It is not until the baptism of Anne Henchman in Burton Latimer in 1584 that the Henchman spelling was found in records. Since spelling variations were very common until well into the 19th century, it is possible that the scribe at that parish spelled it that way because that was what he heard. The last child of Thomas Henchman baptized at that church has the spelling Henceman (different scribe?)
So, it appears that the legend is just that. The boar hunt certainly could have happened. The history of the county points to the presence of royal retreats in that county and there was an abundance of wildlife, which the kings hunted for sport. A Crosborough certainly could have been involved in at least one of those hunts and may have even saved the life of the king. That's where possible reality ends and probable fiction begins.