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.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

# 12--The Farmer, Not in the Dell, but in Illinois—John M. Hannah

             John M. Hannah, my 2nd great grandfather fought in the Civil War (See Blog# 2—John M. Hannah—Why did you lie about your age?).  However, he spent most of his life as a farmer in Edgar County, Illinois.  Now I grew up in New York City, what I know about farming in this day and age is minimal.  What I know about farming in the mid1800’s is just about non-existent.  
             Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales are on line and easily searchable by name.  John purchased land 11 times from 1844 to 1851.  The land was located in Township 16 North and Ranges 12 and 11.  In total he bought 661.15 acres.  Some of the land was bought with military land warrants, which he had purchased from the holders and the rest was purchased at $1.25 per acre.  The site has directions about how to find the exact location of the land.  I did that and found that the land was located in the northeastern part of the county, near the current town of Chrisman in both Ross and Prairie Townships.  The coordinates for each purchase can be put into Google Early, which I did, so I was able to virtually view his farmland.  He also, according to the books in the Courthouse in Edgar County, purchased land privately in the same areas.  
             So now I knew where the land was, but not what he did with that land.  Ancestry.com has the U.S. Federal Census Non-Population Schedules for 1850 containing information about the land, animals and produce.  On his farm, John had 150 improved acres and 200 unimproved acres.  The land was valued at $2500 and the equipment at $500.  His livestock included 8 horses, 2 milch cows, 12 working oxen, 40 other cattle, 6 sheep, and 70 swine for a value of $1266.  The farm produced 30 bushels of wheat, 3000 bushels of Indian corn, 150 bushed of oats, 2 bushels of peas and beans, 6 bushels of Irish potatoes, $5 worth of produce from orchards, 120 pounds of butter, 2 tons of hay, and $25 for slaughtered animals.  
           I know a lot more now about John M. Hannah and his farm, but I still have question.  He had a lot of land.  I would like to ask:  The farm was 350 acres, how did you use the rest of it.  I know you sold some and gave some to your children, but what about the rest?  Did you rent it out, just leave it, what?  What did you do with what you grew?  Sell it?  If so where and who bought it? 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

#11—Yes, Please, I would like a Beer and a Song—Frank Huelster

I am always pleasantly surprised when I find information about one of my relatives whom I know little to nothing about. Frank Huelster, who is my great great uncle, fell into that catagory.  From the census, I knew that he migrated from Germany with his wife, Anoinette in 1893. Once in the United States, Uncle Frank and his wife lived in Brooklyn, New York.  There they raised three children:  Francis, Elizabet, and Walter. 

                On a whim the other day, I put his name into the database , called The Postcard, which contains a number of newspapers in New York State.  Much to my surprise, up popped his obituary, which was a goldmine of information.

                In terms of work, Uncle Frank first worked as a bookkeeper at the Steiger Publishing.  He then moved to the Lieberman Breweries.  While initially he was a bookkeeper, eventually, he became the superintendent of the bottling department.    A little more research revealed that Lieberman Breweries were
located in Brooklyn, and were the brewers of Rheingold beer.  If you grew up on the East coast, you know that Rheingold beer was not only very popular, but also famous for its yearly contest for “Miss Rheingold”, who would be featured in their advertisements. 

                What surprised me most was what his involvement in the Germany community in Brooklyn, New York, particularly in German choral groups.  Using the internet, I learned that in Germany communities in the United States, there were many clubs and organizations devoted to music.  Typically they performed works by classical composers such as Wagner, Strauss, Handel, etc. and participated in singing festivals.   However, they also engaged in social activities like dances and travel.  Uncle Frank was a member of the Schwaeblschen Saegerbund, a German singing society, and the vice president of Arion Singing Society.  A little more research and I found that the Arion Society described as an elite choir of men, who performed regularly in their own building’s auditorium.

                Uncle Frank died in July 11, 1938.  He along with his wife, who died in 1933, are buried in Maple Grove Cemetery in Queens, New York. 


 The Postcard  (http://fultonhistory.com)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fighting for Freedom--Abiathar Richards, Sr.

                When I think of the Revolutionary War in New England, I think about Paul Revere and his ride, the Old North Church, and the British Red Coats.  Missing from this picture are the colonial soldiers that fought in the War.  This week and next, I will focus on two of my New England grandfathers who were soldiers during the revolution.
                Abiathar Richards, Sr. is my 3th great grandfather.  He was born in Dedham, Massachusetts to John and Abigail (Avery) Richards in June of 1738.  On May 21, 1753, he married his cousin, Elizabeth Richards.  He and Elizabeth had nine children.
                 In  1776, General Washington was conducting a siege of Boston.  During the night of March 4, large cannons from Fort Ticonderoga were moved onto the hills of Dorchester Heights, which overlooks the Boston Harbor.  So that the British would not hear the cannons being moved into  place, the soldiers wrapped the wheels of the cannons in straw.  That action strengthened the siege against Boston.  Convinced that the cannon fire  would damage their ships in the harbor, the British troops withdrew from Boston.  Abiathar Richards participated in this action by serving four days under Captain Joseph Lewis in the 1st Dedham Company
                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.  After the war, he returned to farming. 
                Abiathar Richards died on September 30, 1803 at the age of 73.  He is buried in the Village Cemetery in Dedham, Massachusetts.

                                I think it is interesting that Abiathar enlisted three times.  If I could talk to Abiathar about the war, I would ask him why he did that.  It does not appear that he was engaged in any battles, I also would want to know if that was correct.  One last question-- he and his wife had nine children and a farm, who took care of them and the farm, while he was away.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

#8 What Do You Mean, I Cannot have a Cup of Tea? Ebenezer Newell

               In  genealogy,  I am always much more interested in what people did and how they lived, rather than when they were born, died, married, etc.  Thus it is always a good when I can find out something more  about a person.  Since Patriots Day in Massachusetts is coming soon, I though in the next couple of blogs I should find out more about my relatives that were involved in the Revolutionary War. 

            One such person was my 3th great grandfather, Ebenezer Newell.  Other than the basics, I did not know much about him.  I did know that Ebenezer was born on January 4, 1712.  His parents were Josiah and Hannah (Fisher) Newell in Needham, Massachusetts.   In 1735 he married Elizabeth Bullard.  After her death in 1753 he married Elizabeth Allen.  Originally a resident of Needham, in 1748, he moved to the Strawberry Hills section of Dover.  He farmed there until 1769 when he sold the farm and moved back to Needham.   Ebenezer died on January 8, 1798.

            Since Ebenezer would have been in his sixties during the Revolutionary War, I was surprised to find that he was indeed involved in the war efforts.   According to the History of Needham, Massachusetts, 1711-1911: including West Needham, now the town of Wellesley, to its separation from Needham,   Ebenezer was on the Committee of Correspondence, Inspection and Safety during the war.  While the Committee was involved in writing to other committees about colonial issues and plans of action, and overseeing the militia, one of its most interesting tasks involved the drinking of tea.  In essence, because the taxes on tea supported the British, the Committee was to see that the people in the town did not drink tea.

            According to Frank Smith (1897) in Narrative History:  A History of Dover, Massachusetts as a Precinct, Parish, District and Town: 
            On December 5, 1774, the town voted “that we do not further engage that we will not drink, nor suffer any in our families to drink, any kind of India tea till we have a full redress of all the grievances enumerated in the Association Agreement”  …The committee of inspection were instructed to endeavor to find out whether any of the inhabitants presumed to violate the foregoing engagement, and if any were found acting contrary thereto, to post up their names in some public place in each parish as enemies of the welfare of America.

            I can find no records of people whose names were posted or how Ebenezer and the other committee members went about this task.  Thus, if I could talk to Ebenezer, I would ask:  How did you find out who was drinking tea?  Did you post their names?  How did other people react to those who had their names posted:  What did people drink in place of tea?