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, July 10, 2019


Here I am, sitting on the front porch with my great grandmother, Charity Mears Hannah.  I wanted to chat with her about a couple of people her family and what they are doing now.  Charity was born in Ohio on 11 FEB 1806 to David and Elizabeth Mears.  She married by John M. Hannah on 22 April 1822 in Brown County, Ohio.  They were married by David Rankin, a well-known abolitionist

 “Grandma, I am interested in learning a little about some of your brothers and sisters.  What can you tell me about Aunt Catherine. “

“Well, Catherine was born on March 1, 1799, in Kentucky. She is 6 years older than I am so she often took care of me when I was little.  I loved to play dolls with her.  When I was older, she sometimes showed me how to cook.  She married Robert Legate and they had two children together. After he died in 1822—that made her so sad--, she married Israel Donnelson Sayre and they had seven children. You know that Israel bought a good bit of land in Ross and Prairie Townships.  He’s a successful farmer.  While I do not ask, I think they have a good bit of money.  Ever since he died in 1848, she and the children have run the farm.”

“Wow, I did not know all that.  You know, I have never met Aunt Elizabeth because she still lives in Indiana.  What do you know about her?”

“I have not seen her in a very long time, but we do occasionally write to each other.  You know what? She is named after our grandmother, Elizabeth Mears and because of that when grandmother died, she inherited part of her estate.  She had a rather unusual will—she left her possession to those children who were named for her or for her husband, David.  Didn’t seem to fair to me, but they were her things to give away as she wished.”

“I agree.”

“Anyway she married Jonathan Shreve in October 15, 1812 in Indiana. They had 12 children in 25 years. . They had a lot of children, probably more than ten, I do not know their names off the top of my head, but will get them for you later.  You know, she is ten years older than I am.  Very often, Mother would put her I charge of the younger children, especially me.  She is one of the people who taught me how to read.  If I am correct, Jonathan built a flat boat and moved his
family down the Ohio to Cross Plains, Indiana.  Elizabeth told me it was an easy journey. So day, I hope to see her.”
“So interesting, one more Grandma and that will be it for today.   I was wondering about Aunt Mary?”

“I have not seen her in a long time, because she lives in Brown County, Ohio.  I hear from her once in a while or when friends and family come to visit from Ohio.  She is a lot older than I am and I did not much to do with her when I was a child.  She married Lemuel Boyle Sayers and they had only one child, David Mears Sayres.  They live in Eagle township now; he retired from farming and is now working making cabinets.  One thing I do remember is that Mary made the best pies, particularly her peach pie.”

 “Thanks you do much Grandma for the information, I have a better understanding of your family, but maybe next week you can tell me a little more.”

Thursday, July 4, 2019

#187--Another Brother Fighting for Freedom--John Richards

The Fourth of July is this week so when the theme was Independence I immediately though of those in my family who fought in the Revolutionary War.  I have previous blogged about my third and fourth grandfathers, Abiathar Richards, Sr. and Abiathar Richards, Jr. and their brother, Abel Richards—all who fought for freedom.  Now I am going to add another brother to that list, my uncle, John Richards. 

John Richards was born in Dedham Massachusetts on March 19, 1723.  His parents were John and Abigail (Avery) Richards.  He married Rebecca Herring.  They had two sons and six daughters.
John’s service was fairly brief, but not unusually so.  Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the Revolutionary War Indicated John was a private in William Ellis’s Company, Colonel Heath’s   He also served in a company commanded by David Fairbanks, Colonel McIntosh’s Regiment for 4 days at Dorchester Heights.  According to the website Boston’s Revolutionary War
Regiment which marched o
n the alarm of April 19, 1775 and served 9 days.

“In the evening of March 4, 1776, George Washington's army and local volunteers quietly fortified the summit of Dorchester Heights with cannon captured at Fort Ticonderoga. When the British army in Boston woke the next morning, they discovered that they were now surrounded. This action by the colonial militia hastened the decision by the British army to evacuate Boston nearly 2 weeks later.”

I would like to talk to John about his service.  Just what did he do?   Were any of his brothers or other relatives serving in the same units?  How hard was it to maneuver the cannon into place?

Sunday, June 23, 2019

#186--Thomas Cochrane--A Legend in his Own Time

Thomas Cochrane, Lord Dundonald

If you have seen the movie Master and Commander, or read of the any of the novels featuring Horatio Hornblower or Jack Aubry, you have read about my ancestor, Thomas Alexander Cochrane.  His navel exploits were legendary.  Family lore was that he was one of my grandmother’s uncles.  As with many family stories, it contained a kernel of truth—Thomas Alexander Cochrane was her cousin. 

Ship Speedy
Thomas Cochrane was born at Annsfield, near Hamilton in Scotland, the son of Archibald Cochrane, 9th Earl of Dundonald and Anne Gilchrist. He spent his childhood in Annsfield .  At the age of 18, Thomas joined the British Navy.  He served on several ships, before becoming the captain of RN sloop, HMS Speedy. Within a year Cochrane had captured fifty ships, 122 guns and 534 prisoners. However, he was not finished; appointed Post-Captain he cruised along the French and Spanish coasts capturing so many ships that Napoleon called him “le loup des mers” or the Sea Wolf.  For his exploits, he was made an Knight of the Order of the Bath. 
Lord Cochrane

Cochrane’s career was not without controversy.  He was elected to the House of Commons as a Member of Parliament in 1806 and used his position to rally against the naval corruption, the war with France and several well established individuals.  Further controversy involved his marrying Kitty Barnes, who was 20 years younger than he was.  If all that was not enough, he was engaged in the Great Stock Exchange Fraud along with his uncle, Andrew Cochrane-Johnstone in which they announced that Napoleon was dead.  That sent the market crashing. Cochrane was tried, sentenced to a year in prison and fined of 1000 pounds, ejected from the Navy and stripped of his knighthood.  However, he was immediately re-elected to parliament. 

In 1817, Cochrane with his family moved to South America where he commanded in order, the Chilean, Brazilian navies in their fight for independence and then moved to Greece to command their Navy.  

After being pardoned for his role in the Great Stock Market Fraud, Thomas returned to the Royal Navy as a Rear Admiral.  Queen Victoria restored his knighthood.  In 1847 he became Commander-in-Chief of the North American and West Indies Station.  In 1854 he was given the honorary rank of Rear Admiral of the United Kingdom. 

Cochrane died in 1860, and is buried in the center aisle in Westminster Abbey in London. His epitaph reads:

'Here rests in his 85th year Thomas Cochrane Tenth Earl of Dundonald of Paisley and of Ochiltree in the Peerage of Scotland Marquess of Marenham in the Empire of Brazil GCB and Admiral of the Fleet who by his confidence and genius his science and extraordinary daring inspired by his heroic exertion in the cause of freedom and his splended services alike to his own country, Greece, Brazil, Chile and Peru achieved a name illustrious throughout the world for courage, patriotism and chivalry. Born Dec 14 1775. Died Oct 31 1860'

Each year the Chilean Navy places a wreath on his grave.  

Grave --Westminister Abbey

Monday, June 17, 2019

#185-Earliest Ancestor--Fulk, Were You Really Rude?

The blog theme for this week is “Who is your earliest ancestor?”  Now I can go way, way back to the Middle Ages with documentation.  When I first started doing genealogy, I spent a week at the New England and Historic and Genealogical Society on one of their research trips.  One afternoon I worked with Gary Boyd Roberts, who looked at my Cochrane Tree and decided that he could take it back a couple of generations.  Several hours later that tree had gone from the 1700’s to the 1312, the birth of my 24th grandfather, King Edward III, Plantagenet.  I was amazed and excited.  I had no idea of that relationship and it opened up a whole new world to explore.  There is a great deal written about the Plantagenets and most of it is very well researched. 

So when I got home and had a little time, I decided to see how far back I could take that Plantagenet line.  It was not very hard.  With documentation, I could go back to Geoffrey Gastinois, II born in 1006  He is either my 24 or 25 great grandfather.  In 1035, he married Ermengarde-Blanche of Anjou, daughter of Fulk III Nerra. They were the founders of the House of Plantagenet.

Geoffrey and Ermegarde had three children:  Hildegarde, Geoffrey III of Anjou and Fulk IV, Count of Anjou (Also known as Fulk the Rude).  Geoffrey III inherited Anjou from his Uncle, Geoffrey Martel.  However, Fulk took Anjou by force, captured his brother and imprisoned him.  Because of their conflict Fulk lost a considerable amount of territory and was forced to give the G√Ętinais, part of his land,  to King Philip I of France.   Fulk spent the rest of his reign as count trying to regain control of his barons and all the lost lands.

Geoffrey died sometime about 1046 and Fulk about 1109.

I would love to talk to Fulk, the Rude and ask him how he got that name.  I have read that it could also be translated as quarrelsome or surly. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

#184--Dear Diary


Dear Diary—
     I have been doing genealogy for over 20 years and I wanted to tell you what I wish I knew when I started out.  In those days, genealogy was not as popular pastime and there were not many ways to learn.  So I really taught myself.  Here is what I wish I knew then:
1. Start out by talking to your relatives to find out what they know.  Realize that some of that information is probably not correct.
2. Create separate trees for different lines.  That makes finding people easier. A tree with 600 people is easier to manage than one with 10,000.
3. Document every fact that you use.  While you think you will remember where it came from, you will not.
4. Develop a system for keeping track of the papers.  For example, use a notebook for each line or use a folder system on a flash drive.
5. Use a variety of different online resources.  Many of them have different information on them.
6. Be very careful and skeptical of information in family trees that are on line.  You have no idea where that information came from and it may or may not be correct.  Think of it as a clues to be followed.
7. Local histories contain a great deal of valuable information about what happened while your ancestors lived there and may have biographies of them.
8. Visit local history/genealogy libraries.  Talk to the staff, they are a wealth of information
9. If you can, go on research trips with a group, e.g. New England Historic and Genealogical Society. There should be lectures, research assistance, and a chance to talk to other people doing genealogical research.
10. Join at least one national genealogy group and the local societies where you have ancestors.  Good access to local information.
11. Everyone has a brick wall.  Work on it periodically, but do not obsess over it.
12. Connect with other people, probably cousins of some kind, who are working on your lines.  It is fun to work together.

Good Luck.


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

#183--Namesakes--Two Abiathar Richards

It is not unusual to find that son is named after his father. In my family tree I have two Abiathar Richards. They are my fourth and third great grandfathers.  Abiathar Richards Sr. was born in Dedham Massachusetts in 1730.  His parents were John and Abigail (Avery) Richards.  Abiathar married his cousin Elizabeth Richards on May 21, 1753.  Abiathar Richards, Jr., his oldest son, was born on April 7, 1754, in Dedham, Massachusetts. Abiathar Richards, Jr. married Elizabeth Smith on April 12, 1782.

As I looked at these two individuals, I was struck by how similar they were. Both lived in Dedham their entire lives.   Both married women named Elizabeth.  Both had large families.  Abiathar Sr. had 9 children while his son had 12.  Both were farmers in Dedham

Both served in the Revolutionary War.  Abiathar Richards, Sr. participated several times. First, he was part of Captain Joseph Lewis 1st Dedham Company and for four day guarded the cannons on Dorchester Heights. Abiathar Richard’s second service was closer to home, in the neighboring town of Roxbury.    In colonial times, Boston was located on a peninsula with the only land route into Boston, going through Roxbury.  To protect the city, troops were stationed in Roxbury.  For 15 days beginning on March 23, 1778 Abiathar Richards served in Captain Abel Richards’s company at Roxbury and Boston.

Abiathar’s last enlistment was on July 21, 1780.  At that time he became part of Captain Moses Bullard’s Company, Col. Ebenezer Thayer’s Regiment, which was stationed at Rhode Island to reinforce the Continental Army.  His service there was 2 months and 24 days.

Abiathar Richards, Jr. also served, but his service was much shorter.  Abiathar Richards, Jr. was a Private in Captain Aaron Fuller’s Company, which marched on the alarm of April 19, 1775.  The company was from Dedham, Massachusetts and served for 2 day.

After their service was completed each returned to farming. In addition, Abiathar Richards also was in a partnership with Calvin Whiting and Reuben Newell, selling Indian and English pottery.

Abiathar Richards died on September 30, 1803, in Dedham, Massachusetts, when he was 73 years old. His son died on July 10, 1835.  Both are buried in the Village Cemetery.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

#182--King's Chapel Burial Ground and William Avery

Grave Yard--King's Chapel Boston

Several years ago, I was in Boston, which gave me the chance to go visit the grave of another of my ancestors, William Avery. William is my 5th great grandfather.

William Avery was born in 1622, in Barkham, Berkshire, England, the son of Christopher and Margery (Stephens), Avery.  William married Margaret Allright.  They, together with their three children:  Mary, William, and Robert, came in 1650 to the Massachusetts Colony and settled in Dedham, Massachusetts.   He and his wife were admitted to the church on February 16, 1650.  He was a sergeant in the Dedham militia as well as the Deputy to the General Court.  He was a member of the Ancient Artillery Company.

Margaret Avery died on September 28, 1678.  Shortly thereafter, William moved to Boston and married Maria (Woodmansey) Tappin, who son ran a book shop.  William took over the  store and added an apothecary department to it. Despite his move, in 1680 the Dedham Town Records state  that “Capt. Daniel Fisher and Ensign Fuller report that Dr. William Avery, now of Boston, but formerly of the Dedham Church, out of entire love of  his Church and Town, freely give into their hands, sixty  pounds, for a Latin school.
King's Chapel

William died on the 18th of March 1686.  He is buried in the burial ground of King’s Chapel in Boston.

I had no trouble finding the burial grounds as it is part of the Freedom Trial.  The burial ground was started in 1630 and was Boston’s first graveyard.  According to the National Park Service, there are 505 headstones, 78 tombs, and 59 footstones; however, more than 1000 people are buried there.   A very helpful Park Ranger (King’s Chapel is a national park) showed me a map of the graves and noted that the headstones had been moved at some point so while William Avery is buried there, he probably is not buried beneath his gravestone.  I had no trouble find William’s grave as it is directly to the right to the gate to the graveyard.

Gravestone of William Avery

His gravestone reads:

Here lyeth Bvried
the body of
aged abovt 65 years
died Mearch the 18th
1 6 8 6