Friday, December 23, 2011

the leaning tower of ... Norwich

The Augustine Steward House in Norwich
(built c. 1530). From British Listed
Building's website.
My ancestor, Augustine Steward, was a three-time mayor of Norwich, England.  His house, built in the early 1500's is still standing to this day. 

Augustine Steward was born in about 1491 in Norwich, Norfolkshire. He was the son of Geoffrey Steward, an alderman and merchant grocer, who died in 1504, when Augustine was about 13.  Augustine's mother Cecily remarried to a wealthy merchant named John Clerk.  She later traded under her own registered merchant's mark as Cecily Clerk.

Augustine Steward became a successful merchant and grocer in Norwich.  The house where he lived in Norwich is still standing to this day.  Some sources indicate the house was built in 1530, yet other sources suggest that he was actually born in the house (in about 1491).  Perhaps he was born in a structure that stood at that location, but it was later torn down and replaced in 1530 by the structure which can be seen today.  Apparently because of its uneven foundation, the house has shifted over its 500 years and is noticeably leaning.  It has since been used as a butcher's shop, a broker's shop, an antique dealer's shop, a bookshop and a coffee house.  It is said to be haunted by a 1578 plague victim known as the "Lady in Grey."

Augustine Steward's portrait from the
Norwich Civic Portrait Collection
Augustine was the mayor of Norwich in 1534, 1546 and 1556 and sheriff in 1526.  He was also a Norwich councillor from 1522 to 1525, an alderman from 1526 to 1570, M.P. (member of parliament) in 1542 and a Burgess in Parliament in 1547.  In 1540, Augustine purchased the monastery of Black Friar's Church (St. Andrew's Hall) for the city of Norwich. 

In 1549, Augustine was instrumental in leading peace negotiations during Kett's Rebellion.  He had been appointed deputy mayor during the uprising.  During the rebellion, Augustine also entertained and housed the King's representative, the Marquis of Northumberland (William Parr, brother of Henry VIII's wife Katherine Parr).  The house was also used by the Earl of Warwick as a base from which to squash the rebellion.

In addition to his own service as mayor of Norwich, Augustine's stepfather John Clerk was also a mayor of Norwich.  Additionally, his son-in-law Thomas Sotherton (also my ancestor) was a Norwich mayor, as well as Thomas' father Nicholas Sotherton and various other Norwich men connected by marriage.  Augustine died in 1571.

My descent from Augustine:

Augustine Steward md. Elizabeth Read
- Elizabeth Steward md. Thomas Sotherton
-- Augustine Sotherton md. Ann Peck
--- Elizabeth Sotherton md. Thomas Warner
---- Augustine Warner md. Mary Towneley
----- Augustine Warner md. Mildred Reade
------ Elizabeth Warner md. John Lewis
------- Charles Lewis md. Mary Howell
-------- Anne Lewis md. Edmund Taylor
--------- Mary Taylor md. John Brodie
---------- David Brodie md. Susan M. Sthreshley
----------- Ethalinda E. Brodie md. Thomas A. Jones
------------ Thomas A. Jones md. Lee P. Whitlock
------------- Louetha Jones md. Newell B. Brown
-------------- Bettye B. Brown md. Paul C. Wadleigh
--------------- Randy Wadleigh md. Barbara Plymale
---------------- Ryan Wadleigh

Monday, October 31, 2011

the first Muslim in America?

My possible* ancestor Anthony Jansen Van Salee was the first known Muslim to live in what is now New York City. Others have suggested that he could have been the first Muslim in the entire New World.

Anthony was born in about 1607 at an unknown location.  Anthony's parentage has not been definitively proven.  It is generally accepted though that his father was an infamous Dutch pirate named Jan Janszoon van Haarlem.  The identity of his mother has never been established, but she is usually believed to be of North African descent, the most prevalent theories being that she was from Morocco or Spain. 

The places where Anthony supposedly lived in his youth.
1. Sale, Morocco, 2. Fez, Morocco
3. Algiers, Algeria, 4. Cartagena, Spain
What we do know is that because he used the name Jansen, Anthony acknowledged being the son of someone named Jan.  Also, as an adult he used the toponymic last name "Van Salee", indicating that he was from SalĂ©, Morocco.  In later adulthood, he also indicated that he was from Fez, Morocco.  When he married in 1629, he was listed as being from Cartagena, Spain.  Many people have accepted this to mean that he was born in Cartagena, and raised in Salee.  Perhaps he was born in neither place, but had spent time living in both.

Contemporary records also indicate that Anthony was of a mixed-ethnic background.  The most common term used to describe him was "Turk."  Other terms were: "Mulatto", "Swarthy" (dark-skinned), "semi-Dutchman", and "Tawny".  There is also a story that when his wife gave birth to one of their children, she asked the midwife whether the baby looked like Anthony or another man (she was apparently having an affair).  The midwife supposedly told her that since the baby was a bit brown in color, that it was likely Anthony's child. 

Still, other researchers have proposed that Anthony was actually white and that contemporary records indicating otherwise was simply slander or an indication that he had lived in Morocco and was not literally mixed-race.  They also propose that mixed-race theory is not possible because of the timeline.  Jan apparently worked for the Dutch until becoming a Moroccan pirate in the late 1610's, apparently indicating that Anthony could not have been the son of a Moroccan mother.  Of course, that does not prove that Jan did not have children by a non-white mother beforehand.  Also, as is stated above, we do not know for sure that Jan was even his father.

As far as I know, Anthony was never identified directly as being a Muslim, but there is a lot of circumstantial evidence which points to it being likely.  1) Anthony was raised in Morocco, where Islam was practiced, and it is unlikely he would have practiced Christianity.  2) There is apparently proof that Jan Janszoon Van Haarlem (who was probably Anthony's father) had converted to Islam, after being captured by Muslim pirates.  3) He was frequently described as "Turk" in contemporary records, which some researchers indicate is a designation of religious affiliation and not necessarily of ethnic origin.  4) An old Qu'ran (Koran) had been passed down in the family for many generations, the story being that it was from a Dutch pioneer of New York who was Muslim. After researchers had discovered Anthony's probable Muslim origins, they identified the Qu'ran as belonging to him.  5) Anthony was frequently involved in disputes with the church in New Amsterdam and was often fined by them.

Anthony was probably raised in Salee, Morocco and also lived at times in Algeria and perhaps in Spain. In the late 1620's, he moved to Amsterdam, Netherlands, where he joined the Dutch West India Company and sailed to America in 1630.  Anthony was married to a woman named Grietje Reyniers in or after December 1629, either in Amsterdam or on board the ship en route to New York.  Grietje (or Margaret in English) was an acknowledged prostitute.  Grietje has herself become a legend of American colonial history and has been dubbed "the first lady of the night" of Manhattan and "Manhattan's first and most famous prostitute." 

In 1630, Anthony and Grietje settled in New Amsterdam (now Manhattan in New York City).  During the next nine years, Anthony and his wife had many legal disputes with the church and the town authorities and they were finally banished from New Amsterdam in 1639.  In that year, they settled on 200 acres in what is now Brooklyn (in the Gravesend neighborhood).  Because of this, he is acknowledged by some as the first European settler of Brooklyn.  The farm he settled in Gravesend was called "Turk's Plantation."  Because his farm apparently butted up against what is now called Coney Island, it was for many years called "Turk's Island."  Anthony died in 1676.

* It has not been proven that Anthony Van Salee is actually my ancestor.  My proven ancestor Jacques Barkelow was married to a woman named Jannetje.  It has been suggested (because of Dutch naming customs) that because their second known son was named Barent, Jannetje was the daughter of a man named Barent.  If that is true, one of the strongest candidates for her father is Barent Johnson, the great-grandson of Anthony Van Salee.

My possible descent from Anthony:
Anthony Jansen Van Salee md. Grietje Reyniers
- Cornelia Van Salee md. Willem Janse Van Borkulo
-- Jannetje Van Borculo md. Jan Barentsen Van Driest
--- Barent Johnson md. Maria Stillwell
---- Jannetje * md. Jacques Barkelow (*it is not proven who Jannetje's parents were)
----- William Barkelow md. unknown
------ James Barkelow md. Elizabeth
------- Flora A. Bartlow md. James Murray
-------- Mary E. Murray md. George F. Merriman
--------- Vera V. Merriman md. Benjamin H. Plymale
---------- Ben T. Plymale md. Patricia J. Bixby
----------- Barbara Plymale md. Randy Wadleigh
------------ Ryan Wadleigh

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

shotgun weddings?

From what I can yet discover, all of my known ancestors were born from parents who were married, but that does not mean that all of their children were conceived after marriage. 

This blog post is the results of my investigations into possible cases of premarital sex resulting in pregnancies and weddings.  I went through my family tree and compared the documented dates of marriage with the documented dates of birth of their first children.  The below examples include just some of the instances when children were born before marriage, or when they were born up to 7 months after the marriage.  All of these oldest children listed below were born alive and survived to adulthood (so it is not likely they were premature births).

It is of course possible for a surviving child to be born after only 7 months gestation, although that would have been less likely in the 1800's or earlier.  The most likely scenario is that these were all examples of conception before marriage. 
Minnie Thurston Hopkins, mid-1880s

My great-great-grandmother's sister Minnie Thurston was married to Edgar Hopkins on August 18, 1881 in Chariton County, Missouri.  Their first child, Harry, was born two months later on October 17, 1881. 

Minnie was from Minnesota, but had moved by herself to Wisconsin in her youth to work as a servant.  It was in that situation that she became pregnant by a traveling salesman from a nearby town.  They decided to get married and eloped to Missouri, where Minnie had some relatives.

My great-great-grandmother's sister, Mary Kling, gave birth to an illegitimate son on February 27, 1881 in Mankato, Minnesota.  The father of the child is unknown.  The baby was named Fred Kling, and was raised by Mary's parents, Christian and Dora Kling. 

My great-great-great-grandparents William Brown and Amanda Stephens were married on December 15, 1859 in Montgomery County, Tennessee.  Their first child, Jesse, was born 7 months later, on July 26, 1860.  Then, in the 1860 census, William, Amanda and Jesse were living in the household of William's parents, suggesting that perhaps they were not prepared to be married. 

My great-great-great-great-grandparents Jeremiah Tilton and Abigail Freese were married on December 30, 1840 in Deerfield, New Hampshire.  Their first child, Austin, was born 7 months later on July 28, 1841.  Jeremiah later became a Baptist minister.

My great-great-great-great-grandparents Isaiah Custer and Elizabeth Salehamer were married on June 5, 1825 in what is now Berkeley County, West Virginia.  Their first child, Charles, was born 7 months later, on January 10, 1826. 

My great-great-great-great-grandparents James Stephens and Nancy Head were married on March 26, 1823 in Sumner County, Tennessee.  Their first child, Elizabeth, was born 2 months later, on May 26, 1823. 

My great-great-great-great-grandparents Antoni Kling and Maren Damm were married on July 13, 1822 in Rise, Denmark. Their first child, Hans, was born 3 months later, on October 13, 1822.

My great-great-great-great-grandparents Thaddeus Bixby and Hannah Worrick were married on December 6, 1802 in Guilford, Vermont.  Their first child, Oliver, was born 4 months later, on April 21, 1803. 

There is a story about how their daughter Annis Bixby, came to be married in 1830.  One day, she was outside hanging clothing on a line when a laborer was out working the field.  His gaze found the beautiful red-headed woman, and he decided on the spot that he would come back and win her.  He did.  Perhaps Thaddeus and Hannah met in a similar way?

My great-great-great-great-great-grandparents John Hill and Dorothy Allen were married on December 26, 1796 in Bourbon County, Kentucky.  Their first child, Margaret, was born 4 months later, on April 26, 1797. 

My great-great-great-great-great-grandparents Carl Lilienthal and Engel Kahl were married on November 9, 1792 in Lutjenburg, Germany.  Their first child, Hans, was already 2 years old when they married.

My great-great-great-great-great-grandparents Manassah Bixby and Elizabeth Dunsmore were married on November 12, 1765 in Lancaster, Massachusetts.  Their first child, Manassah Jr, was already 10 months old and Elizabeth was pregnant with their second child, Joseph, who was born 2 months later, in January 1766.

My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents Peter Helm and Christina Schieffer were married on November 17, 1757 in Claverack, New York.  Their first child, Elizabeth, was born 4 monts later, in March 1758. 

My great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents Moses Thurston and Hannah Johnson were married on May 29, 1744 in Andover, Massachusetts.  Their first child, Hannah, was born 4 months later, on September 10, 1744. 

My ancestors Steven Flanders and Abigail Carter were married on December 28, 1670 in Salisbury, Massachusetts.  Their first child, Thomas, was born 2 months later, on February 17, 1670/1. 

Things to consider:
1) It is possible for infants to be born alive after a gestation of 7 months or less.
2) It is possible that the documented dates of marriages or births are incorrect.
3) Even if all of the documented dates are correct, it is does not necessarily mean the couples in question were not married at an earlier date.  There could have been different civil and religious ceremonies, or they could have lost the documentation of the original marriage and been required to officially remarry.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

fun at the beach or pool

With the summer drawing to a close, I've decided to look back on warmer weather by putting together this photo collection of my ancestors enjoying themselves in the water.

My great-grandmother Vera Merriman swimming in Lake Michigan
in about 1915, while attending college in Chicago.

The Wadleigh family swimming at an unknown location about 1929.  Back row, left to right: Mabel Wadleigh
(great-great-aunt), Louise Custer Wadleigh (great-grandmother), Gerald Wadleigh (great-great-uncle). Middle row, left to right: Gerald M. Wadleigh (great-uncle), Eric Wadleigh (great-uncle), Charlotte Wadleigh (cousin). Bottom row, left to right: Paul Wadleigh (grandfather), Gerald T. Wadleigh (cousin).

My great-grandfather Odin Wadleigh and my grandfather Paul Wadleigh, 1930's, at
an unknown location.
My grandmother Patricia Bixby burying her sister Evelyn Bixby in the sand on the Oregon Coast, about 1944.

My grandmother Patricia Bixby at the Oregon Coast, 1940's.

My grandfather Paul Wadleigh (far right) and my great-uncle Eric Wadleigh (far left), with two unidentified friends, 1940's, at an unknown beach.

My great-aunt Shirley Bixby (right) and a friend, on the Oregon Coast, 1940's.

My great-aunt Evelyn Bixby, Oregon Coast, 1940's.

My grandmother Bettye Brown Wadleigh, early 1950's, Long Beach, CA?

Left to right: my dad Randy Wadleigh, uncle Mark Wadleigh, aunt Karen Wadleigh, 1953, Long Beach, CA

My great-grandmother Louise Custer Wadleigh (seated on the right) and unknown friends. Vacationing in Hawaii in the 1950's.

My aunt Catherine Plymale and uncle George Plymale enjoying some Pepsis on the Oregon Coast, 1955.

My great-grandparents Odin and Louise Wadleigh, in Hawaii, 1950's.

My uncle Deane Plymale (left), my aunt Catherine Plymale (middle) and my mom Barbara Plymale (right), at the beach in Port Angeles, WA, in 1960.

My grandmother Bettye Brown Wadleigh at an unknown pool, 1950's.

Left to right: my uncle Deane Plymale, mom Barbara Plymale, uncle George Plymale, aunt Catherine Plymale, in 1964.

My uncle Deane Plymale and my aunt Catherine Plymale jumping into the pool, 1967.

At the beach in Port Angeles, early 1970's.  Left to right: Deane Plymale, Catherine Plymale, Barbara Plymale, Doug Wilks, George Plymale.

My grandmother Patricia Bixby Plymale (far right), with a group of her friends at the beach in Port Angeles, 1983.

Left to right: me, my brother Trevor, my brother Odin and my mom, at a beach near Los Angeles in 1992.

me, my brother Trevor and my brother Odin jumping in the pool in San Diego, 1994.

Monday, September 12, 2011

my connection to Abraham Lincoln

My great-great-great-great-grandparents Reuben and Betsy Merriman were born and raised in Connecticut.  They married in 1812, and immediately moved out west, settling in Kentucky.  They remained in Kentucky for 17 years and in 1829, moved to Sangamon County, Illinois, where they remained.  Years later, some family members stated that the move to Illinois was because they did not approve of slavery which was legal at the time in Kentucky.

This story of the Merriman family is similar to Abraham Lincoln's family story.  Abraham was born and raised in the state of Kentucky and in 1816, moved north to the non-slave state of Indiana.  The Lincoln family's decision to move was partially because of their objections to slavery.  Eventually, in 1836, Abraham Lincoln moved to what is now Sangamon County, Illinois (where the Merrimans lived), to practice law. 

My great-great-great-grandfather
William Merriman, who was 16 years old
when his parents died. 
In February 1842, Reuben and Betsy Merriman died within a day of each of from winter fever (pneumonia).  They left a large estate of 830 acres and no will to properly divide their assets.  Also left were seven children to mourn their loss: Lucinda (aged 29), Lavinia (24), George (23), John (20), my great-great-great-grandfather William (16), and twins Francis and Robert (11). 

In June 1842, the older children filed a lawsuit in Sangamon County Circuit Court to equitably divide the estate.  The case was titled Merriman et al vs. Merriman et al, as it was the adult children (Lucinda, Lavinia and George) jointly suing their minor brothers (John, William, Francis and Robert).  The lawyers hired to represent the family's case were none other than Abraham Lincoln and his partner Stephen Logan.  Eventually, all of the family's real estate holdings were ordered sold and the proceeds equitably divided between the children (although the oldest son George did purchase 360 acres from the estate).  The four minor children were also placed under legal guardianships until they attained majority.

Years later, Reuben and Betsy's oldest son George Merriman had become a wealthy and successful farmer, who had a professional presence in the county seat (and state capital) of Springfield, where Lincoln lived and worked. George "had the honor of Abraham Lincoln's friendship."

My great-great-great-grandmother Artinecia Riddle also lived in Sangamon County, Illinois between 1836 until 1851.  Years later, her son said that she was a "personal acquaintance" of Abraham Lincoln during those years and "she recalled memories of the homely barrister who later became one of America's greatest presidents and one of the outstanding human characters in all history."
My descent from Reuben and Betsy Merriman:

Reuben Merriman married Betsy Bennett
- William H. Merriman married Artinecia Riddle
-- George F. Merriman married Mary E. Murray
--- Vera V. Merriman married Benjamin H. Plymale
---- Ben T. Plymale married Patricia J. Bixby
----- Barbara Plymale married Randy Wadleigh
------ Ryan Wadleigh

1. Merriman et al v. Merriman et al (June 29, 1842), B, 328-329, Illinois Regional Archives Depository, University of Illinois at Springfield.
2. Portrait and Biographical Album of Sangamon County, Illinois. Chapman Brothers, Chicago, 1891.
3. Newspaper Article, The Picket-Journal [Red Lodge, MT], Dec. 21, 1933

Sunday, August 28, 2011

pets in my family tree

Often, families include more than just biologically related people.  They also include those furry (or feathery, scaley, spiney, etc.) animals that occupy the cherished positions of family pets.  My family tree is no different, and is filled with animals that were doted on and loved.  The following is a short list and photo collection of just some of the pets in my family tree.

In 1867, my great-great-great-grandfather's brother, Albert Jones, died.  His probated estate included an inventory of his personal possessions and assets.  As was usual, the inventory included his livestock holdings.  What was unusual though, is that all of his livestock were individually named in the inventory.  He had cows named: Lucky, Mary, Smith, Julia, Sally, Maria, Lizzie, Jane, Bully, Mollie, Blacky, Aggy and Nora.  He had mules named: Mollie, Beck, Sofa, Cola, Pat, Kit, Dinah, Tiger, Peter, John, and Collie.  He had horses named: Charlie, Jennie, Lightfoot and Billy.

My great-great-grandmother Julia Thurston Bixby had a pet goat that she particularly loved. Although the pet goat was something that many family members remembered, nobody had the common sense to record its name or take its picture.

Wadleigh family gathering in about 1903 with their pet dog pictured in the front.  (My great-great-grandfather Oscar Wadleigh is standing on the far left.  His mother Abbie Wadleigh is seated on the far left and his father John Wadleigh is standing third from the right.)

My great-great-great-grandmother Abbie Tilton Wadleigh and her dog, c. 1910's.

Buster Brown
My grandmother Bettye Brown and her family had a pet Boston Terrier in the 1940's. He was aptly named Buster Brown.
Buster Brown with my grandmother Bettye Brown
and my great-grandmother Louetha Brown.

My other grandmother, Patricia Bixby, also had a pet Boston Terrier during the 1940's. 

My grandmother Patricia Bixby (right) and an unidentified friend or cousin, holding Mickey.

My great-aunt Evelyn Bixby holding Mickey, with a cat standing nearby (name of cat unknown).

Mickey at home.

Mike and Josh
During the 1940's and 1950's, my great-grandparents Odin and Louise Wadleigh had a succession of bulldogs.  I only know the names of two of them, Mike and later Josh.

Odin Wadleigh and a bulldog.

Louise Wadleigh and a bulldog.

Odin Wadleigh and two bulldogs.

two more of the bulldogs.
Odin Wadleigh holding a baby bulldog.

Lover and George
During the 1950's, my dad and his family had two pet monkeys.  One of them, a Spider Monkey, was named Lover.  The other, a Cabuchin monkey, was named George.

My great-grandmother Louetha Jones Brown holding the spider monkey Lover.   

During the 1960's, my mother and her family had a black standard poodle named Chipper. 

My mom and Chipper in 1964 (the white dog was
a neighbor's dog).

My grandmother Patricia Bixby Plymale and Chipper.

Various pets
My dad and the family's poodle, 1960's.

My uncle George Plymale with the family's pet Parakeet, early 1960's.

My great-aunt Mary Jo Plymale Brown and her cat (Snowball?) in 1972.

My grandmother Patricia Bixby Plymale and her dogs Gus (left) and Ozzie (right), 1970's.

My dad's dog Simone (Shneemyoon?) on top of his car, late 1970's.

My Mom and her pet rat, 1971.

My brother Odin and three of our dogs, Fanny, Fred and Barney.

My cousin Ira (left) and my brother Odin with
two of our Basset Fanny's puppies, 1984.

My grandmother Patricia Plymale's cat Candy, found as an orphan kitten in the 1980's.

My mom with one of our Pygmy Goats, early 1990's.

Some more of our Pygmy Goats (including Bill, Bob and Charleen).

Three more of our pets: Fanny (the Basset Hound), Havoc (the Irish Setter) and Minnie (the cat).

My brother Trevor riding our pony Rocket.

My mom holding our pet caiman alligator, Frank, late 1980's.

My grandmother Bettye Brown Staley playing with my aunt Karen's dog Nelly. (Photo stolen from Leslie Moe.)