Welcome to my genealogy blog. Ancestors I Wish I Knew is a combination of genealogical information and stories about individuals in my family tree. The focus is on those from my Cochrane, Eitelbach, Merrett, Minarcik and Richards lines and their descendants.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

#35--Chester Ingersoll Richards and William Fisher Richards--Where Did You Get Those Middle Names?

This week I am focusing my blog on something I found interesting about two of my great uncles:  Chester Ingersoll Richards and William Fisher Richards.  I wondered about  their middle names.  As far as I knew, we had no close relatives with those names.  I wondered where those names came from.

To help me figure out what was going on. I decided to research middle names and their history.  From what I read, middles names were not used in the United States until after the Revolutionary War.   At that point wealthy families began to give their children middle names.  By the time of the Civil War, middle names were common.

Parents pick middles names for their children in a variety of different ways.  Some use a family name like the mother’s maiden name or the names of the father and mother’s parents.  Others use a name that they like, but would not make a good first name.  Another choice is to pick the first or last name of an individual they would like to honor.

So what about my two uncles and their middle names?  Two of my blog entries shed some light on where those names came from.  While working on the blog about my grandmother’s wedding (#17—Gertrude Richards—Saying I Do?), I found the announcement in the newspaper and among the guests were several Fishers—“Mr. and Mrs. Irving Fisher, Dr. Fisher, Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel Fisher.”  With a little more research, I found that the Richards and Fishers were cousins and that they were both in the same business—shoes.    Hence William Richards’s middle name came from a relative, and one that coincidently, was in the same business.

I really stumbled upon the source of Chester Richards middle name.  I was working on my entry about my great grandfather, Abiathar Richards and his shoe business (i#29  Abiathar Richards --Do You Have a Glass Slipper?), when I found an article that talked about his very early years in the shoe business.  It appears that J. D. Ingersoll was one of the first people he worked for in the shoe business and I assume that Chester’s middle name was chosen to honor him.

So it appears that William’s middle name came from a relative, and William’s from a business associate.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

#34--John Richards—Continuing a Family Tradition of Service

Last week, I blogged about Edward Richards, one of my emigrant ancestors, who came to Massachusetts in 1632.  This week I thought I would continue that line and blog about his oldest son, John, who was born to Edward Richards and Susanna Hunting on May 1, 1641.  On August 1, 1672 at the age of 31, he married Mary Colburn, daughter of Nathaniel and Priscilla (Clark) Colburn.  John and Mary had five children:  John, Jr., born July 20, 1673; Mary, born June 23, 1675; Deborah, born, Jun 1, 1679, Joanna, born, 1681; and Hannah, born March 3, 1684.  Mary Colburn, died on December 17, 1685.  John then married Mary Fuller, and they had Samuel, born January 1686.

John became a freeman on May 31 and was active in the Dedham community.
He was appointed to view fences.  Since his father was also a viewer of fence, I was interested in finding out exactly what this job involved.  After a quick search of the web, I learned that fence viewer is one of the oldest appointed positions in New England.  The viewer’s job was to make sure that fences were maintained properly and to settle disputes over property lines when a person believed that his neighbor’s fence was on his property.  John was also elected constable and collected taxes from the town’s property owners.  John and his brother, Nathaniel, lent the town money.  According to the Dedham Town Records, Vol. IV, p.190 “A bill is given to Deacon Aldis of ten shillings of jams Sharp constable in may to pay part of five pouds which was Borrowed of John and Nath Richards.”

New England towns had an interesting way of dealing with young single men to ensure that they behaved appropriately and did not cause any trouble—the town required that they live with established and respected families.  On two occasions young men were sent to live with John and his family.

John died on December 21, 1688 at the age of 48.  His wife was appointed the administratrix of his estate which was valued at €327.  I tried to find out how much that would be worth in today’s dollars and several web sites, including one from Colonial Williamsburg, indicated that given the complexities of economics today and in colonial times, such a value would be meaningless.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

#33--Edward Richards--Making a Good Life in a New Land

One of my previous blogs (#23—Edward and Nathaniel Richards—Brothers or Not) focused on Edward Richards, my emigrant ancestor and whether or not he and Nathaniel Richards were brothers. This week I thought I would blog about Edward Richards and his life in Dedham, Massachusetts.  Compared to his ancestors in England, it has been much easier to gather information about this Edward.  The records of Dedham are excellent--it appears that all the town meetings were recorded as were births and deaths.  They make for interesting reading, which gives you a real feel for life in Dedham in the 1600's as the town established itself.

Edward came to Massachusetts in 1632.  He married Susan Hunting, sister of Elder John Hunting on September 10, 1638.  They had five children:  Mary, born September 29, 1639; John, born July 1, 1641; Dorcas, born September 24, 1643; Nathaniel, born November 25, 1648; and Sary (Sarah);  born January 25, 1648/49.



Edward moved to Dedham in 1636 and was the 62nd signed of the Dedham covenant.  In 1640, he was admitted to the church, and a year later took the freeman’s oath.  Susan Hunting Richards was admitted to the church in 1644.

Edward was granted Thomas Feakes town lot and later bought Thomas Hastings lot.  In Dedham, land was granted based on the number of people in the family and the value of the head of the family’s estate.  Edward received land on 14 separate occasions.  Typically he was granted more land than the vast majority of other residents of Dedham.  In addition, Edward Richards also bought “Mr. Cook’s Farm,” on which he built Broad Oaks, which remained in the Richards’s family until 1838.  Given his purchase of Broad Oaks and the number of land grants he received, Edward was one of the larger land holders in Dedham.

Like all the inhabitants of Dedham, Edward was required to donate several days a month to work for the community.  He was assigned to maintain fences, survey land, mend bridges and set out meadows.  Edward seems to have been a well-respected member of the community.  He served nine terms as selectman.  He was appointed constable, viewer of fences, and deputized to represent the town in determining the boundary lines between Dedham and Medfield and between Dedham and Roxbury.  In addition, he and Timothy Dwight were deputized to go to Boston and to represent the town in their dispute with the Natick Indians.

Edward died on May 25, 1684 shortly after making his will but before signing it.  Susan Hunting died several months after her husband on September 7, 1684.



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

#32 Edward Richards of Yaverland--Had Any Strange Dreams Lately?

Last week my blog was about German Richards, the earliest ancestor I can identify in my Richards line.  This week I decided to continue that line and blog about  one of his descendents.  The problems with documentation continue, and I have continued to rely on the same three sources for documentation as I used last week.

Yaverland
 I decided to focus on Edward Richards, one of Germain and Alyc (Rice) Richards’s sons, who is my 10th great uncle.  Edward was born about 1568 and lived at Yaverland, which was purchased by his father.  According to the Visitation of Hampshire, Edward married Bridget Mitchell and with her had three sons:    Sir John Richards of Yaverland;  German Richards of Portsmouth; and Edward.  Edward Richards, Sr.  was High Sherriff of Southampton in 1606.

Sir John Oglander relates the following incident in his notebook under the heading “A Strange Illness:”

"Old Mr, Richards of Yaverland, having been long sick, fell into a trance, in which he continued 2 days and nights without speaking or taking any sustenance.  They all expected every hour when he would depart out of this world.  Doctor Lewkenor, his physician, left him as a dead man, came to me told me he was past hope of recovering.   Three of his children, with divers others to the number 0f 10 persons, continued in his chamber, expecting when it would please God to call him, and they put all things in order for his burial, for he had been long sick before he fell into the trance.  But , at the end of the 2 nights and days, he awakened and roused himself up in his bed.  They demanded of him how he did.  He replied “Reasonable well,” “ and told them that he had either seen a vision or one had told him, being in the trance, of divers things:  amongst other things, that he should recover out of this, his long sickness, and should live , (he being then aged three scores  years) and see all those in the buried before him, which fell out accordingly.  His 2 sons, John and German, were the last:  German died at Portsmouth  suddenly, being well and dead in 2 days.  Sir John died some 3 months after, and the old man some 6 months after.  Althogh I give small credit to dreams, yet thus it fell out unhappily."

As usual, I would have some questions for Edward.  I would like to know what else he saw in his vision and if he was surprised when his two sons died as predicted or did he expect that to happen.  I would like to know if he had other children, and if so what were their names.

# 31--German Richards—Putting the Puzzle Pieces Togeather


                Lately I have been blogging about ancestors who lived within the last couple of hundred years or so and in the United States.  So I decided to go back as far as I can in my Richards line and pull some of my information together.  Since we are dealing with people who lived in the 1500’s, documentation is sparse.   To make matters more interesting, I found that Richards had other spellings such as Rychards and Richardes .  I have relied heavily on the Visitation of Hampshire, Burke’s General Armory, and The Diary of Sir John Oglander.  Putting together this part of my Richards tree is rather like putting together a jigsaw puzzle when you do not have the whole picture and when other people are doing the same puzzle, but making it look different from yours. 

In the 1500’s in Great Britain, the Richards’s families were living in Kent, Devon, Gloucester, Hampshire, Shropshire, and Wales.  My branch is believed to be descended from the Richards in Hampshire  (however, Burke’s says Kent).  The earliest ancestor I can identify is German (Germain, Germaine) Richards, born about 1510 and who was a retainer of the Earl of Lincoln.  At the end of his service, the Earl appointed him Vice Admiral of the Isle of Wight.  German  moved to the Isle and married Alice (Alyc) Rice, the window of Henry Squire.  They lived in a house next to the church in Brading and Germain Richards sold beer to the sailors in  a nearby  seaport. 

German became a wealthy and bought Yaverland, a large estate from Richard Conigsby.  Germain Richards and Alice Rice had 3 sons:  Edward, John, and Germain, and 4 daughters:  Maria, Barbara and two I still I trying to identify (I think one may be Ann and the other Joan, but I cannot find documentation.).  German died in 1567 and was buried on the north side of the church in Brading.

St. Marys Brading

German Richards ‘s will is on line at Ancestry. 
However, my mastery of old handwriting is less than good.  Fortunately, the  will has been abstracted as follows: 
5 August 1567
“1) To be buried on North side of Chancel of Brading church
2) To Alice my wife, the desmesnes (land)  of the Manor of Yaverland as well that is purchases as what I hold during her widowhood. (as widow of Henry Squire), with 500 weather sheep and 200 ewes, 17 kine and bull, 16 oxen and 2 carts to have utter (Mother) Rowborough to summer her young cattel and oxen.
3) To every one of my daughters, £60 over and above their grandfathers (Thomas Rice) his legacies.
4) To Richard and John my sons, 20 nobles
5) To my brother Morgan's wife, a ring
6) To my brother George shall have a lease made to him for 40 years for so much of the parsonage at Brading as he now occupieth, for my part paying the accustomed rent as he did before.
7) Edward my son, sole executrix.”
(http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=sue1211&id=I7458)
Wills are often a treasure trove of information and that is true in this case.  The will adds information as to his family members  that is not available from other sources:  two sons:  Richard and John; and two brothers:  Morgan and George.  So now there are other people for me to explore.

I have lots of questions to ask German, if only I could.  I would like to know who his parents were and where he was from.  What were his daughters names?  Also, what he did as a retainer for the Earl of Lincoln.  How much did he pay for Yaverland?  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

#30--Nathaniel Fisher--Do You Know What Time It Is?


A couple of weeks ago I blogged about Abiathar Richards and his shoe company and in another blog about my grandmother’s and grandfather’s wedding.  In gathering information for both those blogs, the name Fisher came  up.  That got me interested in the Fishers, particularly who they were and how they fit into my family.  I knew that The Fishers, like the Richards, were an old Dedham Massachusetts family.  Further, Nathaniel Fisher was described as a cousin of Abiathar Richards.    Looking at my Richards’s tree, I discovered Abiathar Richards’s  father, Ebenezer Richards, and Nathaniel Fisher’s mother, Lavinia Richards Fisher,  were brother and sister.  In 1803 Lavinia married  Paul  Fisher.  Among their three children was Nathaniel Fisher, born in 1818.  Nathaniel married Mary Ann Woodruff in 1845 and with her had nine children.

Now that I had the relationships, it was time to find out more about Nathaniel Fisher and his family.  Ancestry.com and several web pages provided just what I wanted to know.  As I pulled the information together, this is what I learned. 

Nathaniel  Fisher  left Dedham,  moved to Buffalo, New York and worked for John W. Ayes in the shoe business.  In 1837 he started working in New York City, on Pearl Street in the shoe business of L. S. Bouton & Company as a junior partner.   Nathaniel then went into partnership with Baldwin and Studwell .  In 1869, his two partners left the business and Nathaniel C. Fisher & Company was formed. 


The company manufactured and sold ladies’ and misses’ boots and shoes.  Prior to Nathaniel Fisher’s death on December 9, 1880, he was joined in his company by two of his sons----Irving  Requa Fisher and Nathaniel Campbell Fisher. 

For many years the company was located at 146 Duane Street in New York.  Even though the building was badly damaged by fire in 1864, the iron façade  survived and the building was renovated. 


  While the façade is notable for its arches, its most striking feature is the large ornate clock.  I understand that in the Victorian era, such clocks were a common form of advertising.  If you look carefully at the clock, you can see the Nathl   Fisher & Co,  engraved on it.   
  
  
                   
Nathaniel Campbell Fisher died in 1923 and his brother, Irving Requa Fisher, in 1925.  Despite their deaths, the firm continued doing business at the same location until 1953.


Sources
The 1865 Nathaniel Fisher & Co. Bldg. -- No. 146 Duane Street                                                                 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

#29 Abiathar Richards --Do You Have a Glass Slipper?



Last week I was trying to learn a little more about my great uncle, William Fisher Richards (Uncle Bill).  I had previously downloaded his mother’s, Mary Jane Richards, will from familysearch.org and thought I might some useful information in it.  In that will, his mother left her shares in the A. Richards & Company to her two sons.  I had never heard of that company.  I was now off on what my friend Deb calls “Over there is something shinny—follow it” to describe going off and exploring something that you did not intent to explore when you started out.

I knew that Abiathar Richards (See #1—Abiathar Richards), Mary Jane’s husband, was in the shoe business and the census of different years lists his occupation as either shoes or auctioneer. I did not know how those two things fit together, but when I googled “A. Richards & Company,” I found several articles about the company.

As I put them together, the following history of that company emerged.  Abiathar’s older brother, Abner moved from Dedham, Massachusetts to New York City in 1840 and worked as a clerk in his cousin’s, Nathaniel Fisher’s shoe company.  In 1845, Abner began working for J. D. Ingersoll.  When Ingersoll retired in 1853, the company name was changed to Richards and Whiting.  In 1863 Abiathar Richards joined the firm and the name was changed to A. S. Richards Shoe Company.  When Abner died in 1887, the name of the company became the A. Richards & Company with Abiathar as the president.



The company was located at 59 and 61 Reade Street, New York, New York.  Shoes were sold directly to dealers nationwide with specific men being in charge of certain areas of the company.  In addition, the company also held shoe auctions every Wednesday and Friday.  The following article clears up whether or not Abiathar was an auctioneer or a shoe merchant.



Evidently he was both.

After Abiathar Richard’s death in 1905, the company was run by his two sons, Chester Richards and William Richards.  The last mention of the company that I can find was in 1919.

Of  course, I have some questions that I would like to ask Abiathar.  I would like to know whether or not he moved specifically to New York to work for his brother in the shoe business, where he got the shoes that he sold, and which he enjoyed more:  being an auctioneer or a shoe merchant.