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.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

#147--Abiathar Richards, Farming in Dedham, MA.

When I saw the theme for this week’s genealogy blog was farm, I thought “Oh no.”  I have written about a number of farms and farmers in my family:  George Newell, John Hannah, Sarah Hannah.  They were all farming in the mid 1800’s in the Midwest and the Agricultural Census gave me lots of information about them.  However, I also had farmers in my Richards line whose farms were in Dedham, Massachusetts from the mid 1600’s to the 1800’s.  So I decided that I would see what I could gather about one of them.

I looked though what I had and discovered that I had some interesting diary entries and newspaper clippings about my great great great grandfather, Abiathar Richards, Jr.  Abiathar was born in April 7, 1754 to Abiathar and Elizabeth (Richards) Richards.  He married Elizabeth Smith on April 12, 1782.  They had  eleven children.

According to various records, Abiathar Richards was a farmer. . Nathaniel Ames was a physician in Dedham and Ames’s diary contains several references related to farming and cattle. “ May, 14, 1814…Ab’r Richards to Calf to sell..(P 1017)”; “June 13, 1816 Ab Richards calf w 23lb” ; “November 22, 1816 Calf 7 w old Ab Richards good Veal 16 lb. hind qrs sold At 10 cents Lb (p. 1068).  Dr. Ames also indicates that he was paid by Abiathar in produce or livestock for treating various illnesses.

In the local Dedham newspapers I found several ads from Abiathar related to lost or found livestock. On November 4, 1797, Abiathar advertised that he had five stray cattle and that if the owner could identify them and pay Abiathar for taking care of them, he could have them back.  Somehow, Abiathar lost 23 sheep and a 3 year old mare colt who wandered off.

In 1824, Abiathar advertised to sell his farm.  From the ad, it appears that Abiathar primary focus was raising, selling and slaughtering cattle.  It is not clear what he raised in the orchard.

I have several questions for Abiathar.  Where was the farm?  How big was it?  Did you grown crops and if so, what:  Why did you decide to sell it?

Monday, September 17, 2018

#146--Wedding Gift Registry--A Source for Genealogy Information

Those who know me know that I come from a family where not much of sentimental value gets discarded.  Several years ago, I was able to copy my grandmother, Gertrude Richards, wedding registry from December 1902. It was a small book: on one page was the name of the person or people who gave her the present with their addresses and on the other the gift.  What a treasure trove of information.  Who else do you invite to your wedding, but your relatives and close friends? It certainly filled in some holes about where people lived and allowed me to gather more information about them

In many ways it was a family tree and I could see or figure out who was related to whom.  It was easy to pinpoint close family members as their surnames were Richards or Cochrane.  It was also fairly easy to spot those who were related to the Richards, e.g. the Mallorys or the Sterns.  I knew those last names. 

However, there were a number of people who were rather puzzling.  For example, there were a number of Fishers, all of whom lived in Manhattan, New York.  With some digging on Ancestry and Family Search, I discovered that the Fishers were cousins of Gertrude Richards’s father and were also in the shoe business as was Gertrude's father.  

Equally interesting, were the gifts—remember this is a family that passes things down from generation to generation.  They ranged from silver spoons, to vases, to pillows, to handkerchiefs, to bowls.  There were several items that struck me because I think I have them.  One is a bookcase from Gertrude’s Aunt Emily Cochrane.   I think it is in the one my family room, filled with old books.  Another was a black fan.  Now that may seems unusual, but a black fan has been passed down to me from my parents, and I believe it might be the same one. 

I would love to ask my Granny more about her gifts.  Did she use all of them?  Did she have some favorites? What did she give her husband as a gift and what did he give her?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

#145--Happy Birthday--Darlington Peter Riley

How appropriate that this week’s theme is who is born closest to your birthday.  This week was my birthday and I was certainly interested to see who I share my birthday with.  Family Tree Maker was able to tell me that there were three people born on my birthday:  -Lemeul Elliott, Franz (Frank) Huelster, and Darlington Peter Riley.  I have previously blogged about Franz Huelster, so I needed to pick between the other two.  I settled on Darlington Peter Riley, as he was in my Hannah line.  I knew nothing about him except that he was the son of Nancy Hannah.    I am Nancy’s second great grand niece, which means that Darlington is a very distant cousin. 

Peter and Nancy Riley
Darlington Peter Riley was born on September 8, 1846, in Brown, Ohio.  His father was David Riley and his mother was Nancy Hannah, who had previously been married to Robert T. McKee.   On November 17, 1851, Darlington married Nancy F Haney in Pendleton, Kentucky. They had seven children together.

Darlington, who went by the name of Peter, in 1870 was a farmer living in Pendleton, Kentucky.  In the census from 1880 to 1920 he is described as a farmer in various small communities south of Cincinnati.  In 1930 he was retired and living with his daughter, Nellie Riley Wainscott. 

He died on February 1, 1936, in Walton, Kentucky, at the age of 89, and was buried in Kenton, Kentucky.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

#144--Shoes--A Family Business

Labor Day is this week so my blog challenge is about work.  I love pretty shoes and that may be because I have a number of relatives who were in the shoe business in New York City in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

 So I decided that I would blog about them and see how they fit together.  Early on, the settlers had lots of land in Dedham and were able to pass large tracts of it on to their sons.  However, by the 1800’s fewer and fewer families were able to give away enough land for a sustainable farm.  Consequently, young men began to leave Dedham and seek their livelihood elsewhere.

The first one of my ancestors to leave was Nathaniel  Fisher, one of my cousins.  He 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 also 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. Most notable is the clock that he put on the front of his store on Duane Street and it is still there.

The next ancestor to leave Dedham was Abner Richards, my great uncle.  He came 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.

Abiathar Richards, Abner’s brother, came to New York prior to the Civil War.   Abiathar joined his brother’s firm and the name was changed to A. S. Richards Shoe Company, located at 44 Cortland Street, New York, New York, and later on Reade Street.  The tax records indicate that he was shoe auctioneer.   When Abner died in 1887, the name of the company became the A. Richards & Company with Abiathar as the president.  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.  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

Friday, August 31, 2018

#143--William D. Hannah Goes to School

Schools are starting up all over the United States so how appropriate that the blog topic for the week is school.  I knew that my grandfather, William D. Hannah, went to Wentworth Military.  So I decided that I would find more about that school and his time there.  Archive.org has all the catalogs for Wentworth on line.  So I was able to find a great deal about the school in the late 1880's.

Wentworth Male Academy was founded in 1880 by Stephen Wentworth in Lexington, Missouri.  He employed Benjamin Hobson to run the school, who turn hired  Sandford Sellers.  Sellers graduated from Virginaia Military Institutue, as the head of the school and incorporated many of their traditions into Wentworth.  In 1882 Wentworth was renamed Wentworth Military Academy.

William was born in 1870 in Butler. Missouri.  I assume he attended the schools there, either public high school or Butler Academy.   However, in 1889 William is on the register of Wentworth, but not for the previous year or the next year.  So I think that he attended for what might be his senior year as he would have been 17 years old.  The school offered three courses of study:  classical, elective and business.  Since he attended Dickson College in Pennsylvania, and the catalog is states that the classical course for for college preparation, I think he did that one.  That curriculum covered English, Mathematics, Latin, Greek, History and Science. Tuition for highest grade was $50 Room and Board $250.

The daily routine looked like this:

Each cadet was required to have two uniforms.

William in his Uniform

I have a number of questions for my grandfather about his time at Wentworth.  Why did he go and for what year?  Did he graduate?  Did it prepare him well for Dickinson College?

Friday, August 24, 2018

#142--George Newell Hannah--Farmer

When most people think of the census, they think about people being counted, their ages, occupations and relationships.  However, they are other kinds of census schedules.  One that I like a lot is the Agricultural Census Schedule, which focuses on farming.  For each farm it gathers information in several different categories:  land, livestock, and produce.  Since many of my ancestors were farmers,   this schedule tells me exactly what their farms were like.

I have previously blogged about the farms that were run by my great great grandfather, John M. Hannah (.#12--The Farmer.Not in the Dell )and my great great aunt, Sarah Ann Hannah Mitchell (#18--Sarah Ann Hannah--Farming on Her Own).   So for this week’s blog, I am going to focus on my great uncle, George Newell

The schedule I looked at for George was the 1860 Agricultural Schedule.  At that time George was 32 years old.  He had married Mary Ann Markey in 1855 and by 1860 they had two young children.  George’s farm contained 80 improved acres and 7 unimproved acres.  His farm, which was in Prairie Township in Edgar County, Illinois, was valued at $1700 and the implements used on the farm were worth $50.

George owned 2 horses, 2 milch cows, 2 other cattle, and 45 swine, all valued at $301.  His farm produced 3000 bushels of Indian corn, 150 bushels of oats, 100 pounds of butter, 40 pounds of cane sugar.  In addition, the animals slaughtered were worth $50.

Unfortunately, the Agricultural Census Schedules for 1870 and 1880 are not available for George.  However, the regular census indicates that he continued to farm.  So if I could, I would ask him about farming in those years.  Did he acquire more land?  Get more live stock?  Raise different crops?

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

#141--Family Legends: James Hannah and the Pretty Maid

This week’s theme is family legends.  All families have legends about their ancestors.  Some involved being related to royalty or famous people, others involve having the family name changed at Ellis Island, while still other might involve ancestors who came over on the Mayflower.  Most family legends may have a little truth in them. 

In my family the legend involved the reason that James Hannah (1772--1828), my emigrant ancestor,  came to the United States in the late 1700’s.  As the story goes, James, a younger son,  came from a well-to-do family in Derry Ireland.  The family owned a Bleaching Green.  These were large grassy areas where linen cloth would be laid to be bleached by the sun.  James evidently fell in love with one of the family maids, who of course is always described as pretty.  This was totally unacceptable to James's  parents, who beat him so he fled to the port and sailed to the United States, probably landing in Philadelphia. 

That is a nice story, some of it may be true.  From my research, I am pretty sure that the Hannahs did indeed own a bleaching green.  Bleaching Greens were very common in that part of Ireland.  I have a letter in which a cousin describes going to Ireland, meeting with the Hannahs, and seeing the bleaching green. 

Now did James fall in love with the maid and flee.  Maybe, but probably not.  I think if he had loved her, he probably would have married her and brought her to the States with him.  I think that being a younger son, he did not see much future for him in Derry, so he decided to migrate.  However, it is a nice story. 

I have not been able to trace the origin of that story so if I could talk to James Hannah, I definitely would ask him why he left Ireland and came to the United States.