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, July 12, 2018

#136--Traveling with Cousin Jean

This week’s theme is travel.  I have blogged about Chet Richards’s trips and the postcards , he sent to his family in the early 1900’s.  So when I saw the theme, I immediately thought of my postcards.  When I looked through them, I realized I had a number of them that my mother’s cousin, Jean Roberts had sent to her.

Cousin Jean was born 21 Sep 1906 Kings, New York, USA  Her parents were William Alexander and Christina (Minarcik) Roberts.  For her entire life, she was a Broklynite, until her death in May of 1977.


Cousin Jean loved to travel through New England.  In the Spring, she liked to see the flowers and in the Fall, the leaves turning different colors.  A dedicated “birder,” any time she traveled she looked for birds.  Cousin Jean had a novel way of deciding when to take her trips through New York so she would not miss what she wanted to see.  She worked in Brooklyn in one of the probation offices.  In that office, newly released prisoners needed to check in.  She always asked those coming from upstate New York about the condition of the trees and flowers!

Here are a couple of the postcards, she sent to my mother.

This is one from Bangall, New York:  She wrote:  

"Hi—I lived up to my reputation as being a drought-breaker—much rain and snow flurries predicted for today.  Have been getting good food and rest.  On Wednesday drove through an apple orchard on the way to Germantown.  I doubt I will continue to New Hampshire as I think there will be little in bloom up there with this weather."

Jean also liked to go to New Hampshire;  here is a card from Clarksville, where it seems all did not go well in the car department:

"This is one of my favorite views at or back at the White Mountains…Leaves just appearing and was like winter when I arrived.  Right now the proprietor is changing a flat tire for me."

And another from Connecticut Lake, New Hampshire:

"Finally reached my favorite birding spot near the Canadian Border.  Very crowded with fisherman for Memorial Weekend.  I was fortunate to get a cottage.  Was very cold until Saturday and much snow still in the woods and on shady roads.  I will probably take a slow route home via Maine.  From my cottage I can see Maine Mountains."

I wish I had asked Cousin Jean more about her trips.  It would be fun to know what was the most exciting things that happened, what places she did not like, if she was anxious about traveling along and if she had any experiences that could be considered dangerous.  

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

#135--Independence Day

It is July and the theme for this week is Independence.  That reminded me of Independence Day and the Fourth of July.  When I was little, Fourth of July was a big celebration.  There were parades with floats, bands playing patriotic music, dignitaries riding in cars and different groups marching.  Also there would always be flags flying, picnics, perhaps a fair with carnival rides, and of course, at night fireworks.

I have a virtual collection of Fourth of July postcards and decided I should some of them to illustrate this holiday.

Fighting for Liberty

Lady Liberty

Parade Time


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

#134--Andrew Cochrane-Johnstone and the Great Stock Market Fraud

London Stock Exchange

Practically all of my ancestors were law-abiding citizens.  They farmed, worked in various businesses, were good citizens, and did not get into much trouble.  So when I come across one who did not do that, I really like it.  My great times 3 grandfather, Andrew Cochrane Johnstone, certainly fits that later category.

 Andrew James Cochrane was born on May 24, 1767, in Scotland to Thomas Cochrane, the 8th Earal of Dundonald and Jean Stuart.  In 1793, he married Georgianna Johnstone, and took on her last name.  He served in the army, as a member of Parliament, and as governor of Domenica.  These posts were not without controversy, accusations, and trials.

However, of all the activities he engaged in, the most famous is known as the “Great Stock Exchange Fraud.”  In 1814 England was at war with France.  The English believed that shortly Napoleon would be defeated and the Bourbons would be restored to the throne of France.

On February 21, a Colonel du Bourg, who said he was the aide to the British Ambassador to Russia, landed in Dover.  He claimed that Napoleon was dead and the Bourbons were back on the throne.  After arranging for the information to be sent to the Admiralty in London by semaphore, he then set off for London himself, spreading the work of Napoleon’s death as he traveled.

Such welcome news was believed and had a very positive effect on the London Stock Market.  It rose dramatically.  While stock values briefly fell with no confirmation of the death, prices again rose, when three men dressed as French Offices rode through London, distributing flyers proclaiming “"Vive le Roi! Vivent les Bourbons!"  However, in the afternoon, when the British government could not confirm Colonel du Bourg’s announcement, it declared Napoleon’s death a hoax, and stock prices immediately fell to their former level.

Lord Thomas Cochrane
Fraud was suspected so the Committee of the Stock Exchange investigated.  It found that the previous week £1.1 million of government based stocks had been purchased and sold on February 21, when the price was high.   Andrew Cochrane Johnstone, Lord Thomas Cochrane, and Richard Butt, Lord Cochrane’s financial advisor and several others  were the ones that bought that stock and sold it at greatly inflated prices.  Also charged was Random De Berenger, who played the part of du Bourg. 

Andrew Cochrane Johnstone, who is believed to be the one who conceived this fraud, immediately proclaimed his innocence both in the newspapers and in Parliament.

The men were tried on June 8, 1814 and two days later a verdict of guilty was handed down.  Andrew Cochrane Johnstone was sentenced to a year in prison, a fine of one thousand pounds and an hour in the pillory.  However, before his sentence could be served, he fled England, never returned, and left several children with their mothers.

Andrew Cochrane-Johnstone died in Paris, France in May of 1833.

In a conversation, I would definitely have a few questions for Andrew.  First, were you the primary person who made up this story?  Did you really think it would succeed?  What about those children?  Did you provide for them after you left?  Did you ever have any contact with them?  Where did you go after you left England?  Any regrets?

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

#133-So Many Hannahs--Are Any of Them Related to Me?

I have been researching my Hannah line for a number of years.  Last Fall I became interested in several men with the last name of Hannah who appeared in the census in Brown County, Ohio.  After all, Hannah is an usual last name.  So I thought it might be worthwhile to see who these men were and if perhaps they had some relationship to my James Hannah.  Briefly, James Hannah was born in Ireland, came to the United States after the Revolutionary War, settled in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, and then moved to Brown County, Ohio.  

The first Hannah that caught my eye was Thomas Hannah.  I was reading all the names that appeared on the same page for the 1820 census for Brown County as my James Hannah and found a Thomas Hannah.  In the 1820 census, he was over the age of 45, living with a woman of a similar age, presumably, his wife and a girl under the age of 10.  I was particularly interested in him as a Thomas
Hannah is listed on the same page as James Hannah in the 1800 and 1810 census in Buffalo Township, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania.  Just to complicate matters, a second Thomas Hannah appears.  He was born in 1800, married Jane Kerr in 1823 in Brown County.  I presume that this second Thomas Hannah was his son.  Thomas Hannahs are listed in the tax records of Brown County from 1820 to 1825.  I can find no further record of any Thomas Hannah after that date so I presume they either died or moved.   Since none of the records or the History of Brown County make any mention of where either of these Thomas Hannahs came from, I do not know if they are related to my James.

The second Hannah I investigated was Alexander Hannah.  According to the Hannah Genealogy Wiki he was born in about 1786 in Hartford, Maryland.  On September 14, 1813  in Clermont County, Ohio. His parents are not know.   He married Nancy Ross in Clermont County, Ohio on September 14, 1813.  They had five children, one of whom was named Alexander.  Alexander appears in the census records for Brown County for 1820, 1830, and 1840.   The 1850 census confirms that Alexander was born in Maryland, but indicates he is now living in Illinois.  Since Alexander seems to have no connection to Pennsylvania where my James settled, I do not believe he is related to my

David Hannah was the last Hannah from Brown County that I investigated.  He is in the census for Brown County in 1820 and 1830, and in Clermont County, Ohio in 1840.  I do not know what happened to him after that, but I do know he is not in the census for 1850 in Brown County or in nearby counties.  I suspect he too is not related to my James Hannah.

I would like to talk to each of these men to learn more about them.  I particularly would like to know if they had any idea if they might be related to James Hannah or if they knew him.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

#132 -Father's Day

It should be no surprise that the theme for this week is Father's Day.  I  have a number of pictures of my father at different ages. So I thought they would make a wonderful blog.  

As a Baby, Sitting on his Father's lap

About the Age of 8

At Poly Prep, his high school, in his letter sweater

At Yale, as captain of the freshmen lacrosse team. He is the one with the sweater with 1927 on it.    

Portrait taken in his mid 20's
Mid 20's

And here is one that is much more contemporary.   While I remember the way he looked at different times, this is the way I remember him now. 

Happy Father's Day, Daddy.  

Sunday, June 10, 2018

#131--John Eliot, Apostle to the Indians

The theme for this week is Chapel.  It could be a place or a person who worked in a church.  From my ancestors I chose John Eliot, a minister, who was also known as the Apostle to the Indians.  He is my 8th great uncle.  He was born in 1604 in Widford, England to Bennett and Lettice (Alger) Elliott. John received a degree from Jesus College in 1622 in Cambridge, and then worked with Thomas Hooker at his Puritan academy.  Eliot came to Boston, MA. In 1631 and then moved to Roxbury, MA.  John Eliot married Hanna Mumford. They had six children, five sons and one daughter.

For almost 60 years, John Eliot was the pastor of the Puritan church at Roxbury, Massachusetts.  He established the Roxbury Latin School in 1645 and served as an Overseer of Harvard College from 1642 to 1685.

His most notable achievement was his mission to the local Indians.  In 1646 he began to preach to them, first in English and later in their own language, Algonkian.  He translated the bible into Algonkian and its publication was the first printing of a bible in North America.  Eliot also established 14 towns for the Indian where they would be able to follow their own culture and laws.  At the same time, John taught several Indians to be missionaries.

In addition, Eliot also wrote several books:  The Christian Commonwealth (1659), Unbosom Psalmes (1663), The Communion Of Churches (1665), The Indian Primer (1669), and The Harmony of the Gospels (1678) and was a major contributor to the Bay Psalm Book.

John died on May 20, 1690.  He is buried in the Eliot Burying Ground in Roxbury.

Monday, June 4, 2018

#130 John Richards--Close in Location, but Far Away in Time

The theme for this week is far away. It could be interpreted in several ways, so I decided that I would interpret it in terms of time and blog about an ancestor who lived a long time ago, Nathaniel Richards, who was born in the 1600’s.  I have previously blogged about his father, Edward Richards and his brother, John Richards.

Nathaniel Richards, the second son of Edward and Susan Hunting Richards was born on January 25, 1648/49 in Dedham, Massachusetts.  On February 21, 1678/79 he married Mary Aldis, daughter of Deacon John and Sarah (Elliot) Aldis.  Nathaniel and Mary had eight children.

Nathaniel first appears in the Dedham Town Records when he received “ten shillings for killing one wolfe” (Vol 5, p.36).  Three years later, Nathaniel along with 21 others was fined 16s 8p for “sitting disorderly in the meeting house (Vol 5, p 72.  In In 1679, he was fined 2 shillings for defects in his highway work.

Nathaniel served in the town of Dedham in several ways.  In 1681/82, and 1882/83, 1685, 1689 he was appointed to view fences.  Both John’s father, Edward, and his brother, John, were fence viewers so 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.  .Nathaniel was also elected constable and collected taxes from the town’s property owners. In 1700 and 1705 he laid out roads.

On several occasions, Nathaniel lent the town money.  In 1690 Nathaniel lent the town 5 pounds to pay Josiah, the Indian.  The town paid the debt by selling land at Dorchester.  Five years later, Nathaniel and his brother, John, lent the town 4 pounds and ten shillings.  In return, they were granted 20 acres of land at a place they both could agree was satisfactory.

Nathaniel died on February 15, 1726-27 “suddenly while sitting in his chair” at the age of 79.  He was buried in the Village Cemetery. His tombstone reads “Here lyes buried the body of Mr. Nathaniel Richards age 78 decd Feb ye 15, 1726/7.

In his will, he gave his wife all his silver money, the use and improvement of all his housing and lands during her life.  He gave land to his sons, Nathaniel, James, Edward, and Jeremiah.  His son Edward received his homestead.  Each of his daughters received 100 pounds.  Whether or not he believed that some of his children would not be pleased with their inheritances I cannot tell, but he did instruct that anyone who objected would be cut out of his will.

I would like to talk to Nathaniel about why he and his brother lent the town money.  Did they offer?  Were they asked?  I also would like to know why Edward inherited the homestead rather than Nathaniel his oldest son?  Of course, I would like to know about just what behavior was considered disorderly in the meeting house.