Saturday, April 12, 2014

Rebecca Trotter Drake

I'm trying to get to know my female ancestors a little better.  As a genealogist, I sometimes just want to scream at all the women I know to leave SOMETHING behind; letters, journals, photos.  I fear that the next generation is going to be for a real tough battle to find pieces of their families, now that everything has gone digital and no one saves emails.

I have been reading my favorite book about women to help put Rebecca Trotter Drake into perspective: America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines by Gail Collins.  For anyone doing female family tree research this is an absolute treasure.

Another good one to add to your library or at least check out at your library is The Colonial Mosaic American Women 1600-1760 by Jane Kamensky.

The two books work well together -- America's Women is a little chattier, but there are some great statistics in The Colonial Mosaic.

When I'm doing general research, I keep a notebook handy and jot down information that I then try to put into perspective.  For example:  The first child born in America was Eleanor Dare in 1587.  Jamestown was founded in 1607. My Elizabeth Trotter was born in 1655 in New Jersey.  Her parents -- William Trotter and Catherine Cutbury Gibbs were both born in Massachusetts.  Rebecca was a 2nd generation American.

Back in those olden days, it took approximately 2 months to cross the Atlantic, and that's if everything went well.

One of the books stated that women lived most of their lives without back support.  They sat on stools or benches and most households had only one real chair, and you know who that was always reserved for.

Gleaned from the diaries of women in the 18th century (My Rebecca Trotter Drake would have been 45 years old), some of a women's duties were:
  1. Candle making
  2. Soap making
  3. Butter and cheese making
  4. Spinning
  5. Weaving
  6. Dying
  7. Knitting
  8. Sewing
  9. Dressmaking
  10. Tailoring
  11. Shoe making
  12. Millinery
  13. Brew beer
In 1656 (Rebecca Trotter would have been a one year old baby) the New England General Court ordered "all hands not necessarily employed on other occasions, as women, Girles and Boyes" be required to spin 3 pounds of thread a week for at least 30 weeks a year"!

And speaking of spinning -- in a full day of spinning a women could walk over 20 miles -- all in the one room of her house.

Rebecca Trotter Drake had 14 children.  She had six sons before a girl came along.  She had 4 boys in 4 years, then a two year break, followed by son #5, another two year break and then #6 son. Can you imagine trying to ride herd on a hip baby, a toddler, a preschooler, a kindergartner, a first grader, a second grader -- all boys! Holy cow.  And Abraham was only a year old when Sarah was born.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Rebecca Trotter Drake

Here are couple of things I found on the Internet regarding Rebecca Trotter.  I've learned that I can take fabulous pictures of my computer screen with my Iphone.  I just can figure out how to get them into a place where I can post them.  So I just email them to myself.

I've learned that when you are researching Middlesex County in New Jersey the same names keep popping up over and over.

Here is some info that I gleaned from The History of Middlesex County, New Jersey by John P Wall:

Stelton Baptist Church was founded in 1689.  The congregation was formed by 6 of the area's earliest European settlers:  John Drake (that's Rebecca Trotter's husband), Edmond Durham, Nicholas Bonham, John Smalley, Hugh Dunn and John Randolph.  These other names are littered through my family tree.  It goes on to say that John Drake, a nephew of Sir Francis Drake, became the first pastor of the congregation and  served in that capacity for 50 years.

Stelton Baptist Church in Edison, New Jersey is the second oldest Baptist Church in New Jersey and the 10 oldest in the United States.  It remained the Stelton Baptist Church until 1875 when it was renamed First Baptist Church of Piscataway.

The first church was erected in 1748.

Rebecca Trotter Drake

So I have been obsessing a lot about the women in the family.  I've put Lucia Cahoon Drake on hold until I can back up to Michigan and into the files at the Mitchell Research Center in Hillsdale.  Now it's time to obsess about another female who has even less information available.  And I tell you, for someone I know a lot about, I sure don't know anything of value.

When I'm researching a relative, I try to put a face to party, which is extremely difficult to do, but I kinda got a way around it.  I put in the dates and look through the google images, hoping i kind find a face that clicks.  For Rebecca Trotter Drake, I found this painting by Johannes Vermeer.  It's called the Milkmaid.

It is circa 1658.  Rebecca was born in 1655, but it took fashion a long time to make it from Europe to the colonies.  I like the fact that she is muscular with thick forearms and that she's working.  Rebecca Trotter Drake was married to a farmer.

I've also been reading the book America's Women: 400 years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines.  There is a ton of fascinating information about life in the Colonials.  I'll be including that in some of my future posts, but today, I want to get down what I know so I can study it in context.  

Rebecca Trotter was born in 1655 in Elizabethtown, Union, New Jersey, to William Trotter and Catherine Cutbury Gibbs.  Both of the parents were born in Massachussetts. I still need to look at a map to determine how far away Elizabethtown is from Piscataway, where Rebecca ended up.  All 4 of Rebecca's grandparents were born in England, so I'm assuming that she spoke with an modified English accent.

She married John Drake (more about him later) and had a whole passel of kids.  I'm still not 100% sure how many she had ... but at least 14.  She married John Drake 07 July 1677 which means she would have been 22 years old.  From what I've read in America's Women, it was not uncommon for girls to be married at 12 or 13.  Under what circumstance was she allowed to marry so late?

As far as I can tell, these are her children:
  1. John  1678-1758
  2. Francis 1679-1733
  3. Samuel 1680-
  4. Joseph 1681-1758
  5. Benjamin 1683-1763  This is my line.
  6. Abraham 1685-1763
  7. Sarah 1686-1744
  8. Isaac 1687-1702
  9. Jacob 1690-
  10. Ebenezer 1693-1740
  11. Ephraim 1694-1725
  12. Rebecca 1697-1749
  13. Abigail 1699-
  14. Hannah 1699-1740
There are also many family trees on Ancestry that have two more daughters:  Mary 1700-1740 and Elizabeth 1702-.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Hunt for Lucia Cahoon Drake Continued

With John C Drake's death date in hand, I went back to the FamilySearch website - again.  Lo and behold, I found his death record.  Name was right.  Date was right.  I clicked in and read a typed transcription record from the handwritten record.  John C Drake.  Father:  John Stout Drake.  Mother:  Tuira Drake.  Tuira?  WTH?  So I dug deeper, going into view the handwritten record.

If you know what you're looking for, Tuira Drake is oh, so obviously Lucia Drake.  It was all about being able to read old timey chicken scratches.  Tuira Drake IS Lucia Drake. This is what it looks like:

Lucia is the one in the middle. 

Now as I was looking at this document, I noticed the name under Lucia.  And then it hit me!  Lucia died 9 October 1871.  I flipped back a page.  Lucia Drake was the next recorded death in 1871.  But, the record -- too -- was written by the same person, so it looks like Tuira -- again.  Finally found Lucia's death record.  I went back to that page where I first found her.  James H Cohoon is listed as her father.  Finally a definitive freaking clue.  Forget the spelling of her dad's last name.  We'll get to that later.  And -- drum roll please -- her mother's name is Mary A Cohoon. 

So listen up all you cousins, searching for our Lucia Cahoon Drake.  Search for her under Tuira Drake.  I haven't tried a search in all the family trees at Ancestry.  Yet.

This document still doesn't solve the spelling issues.  It still doesn't solve the fact that I can't find Lucia Drake in the 1870 United States Federal Census.  It doesn't solve the problem that in 1970 there was another lady -- Elenore -- listed as the wife to John Stout Drake.  It doesn't solve the mystery of Elenore being buried with John Stout Drake, Lucia and Johnnie and Mary Pease.  But it is tangible proof.  John and Lucia were married a long time.  He would've known her family parentage better than some random person.  So in my own personal record, I'm making it official.  Lucia's dad was John H and her mother, Mary A. 

The Hunt for Lucia Cahoon Drake.

So I'm back from Michigan.  What a bust that turned out to be.  I had made arrangements with the Mitchell Research Center in Hillsdale, Michigan to spend a day working on my family tree. The Center was closed for the holidays, but they were going to open it up for me.  Unfortunately, the ice and snow got so bad, I had to cancel and hunker down at my brother's place.  Note to self -- don't ever EVER allow my husband to have any freaking thing to do with my family history research plans.

I've reached the point in most of my research that I really can't move forward now without spending some money.  Either traveling places or ordering vital records or maybe even hiring someone.  So when this research trip fell through, I decided that I'd bite the bullet and order the death certificate from John C Drake, hoping that it would provide me with his mother's maiden name through the actual listing of her name, but I have also seen some entries in family trees at Ancestry listing John's middle name being Cahoon (his mother's maiden name).

So, I went to one of those website's where you can order a copy of vital records and began to fill out the forms.  The reason I chose a death certificate was because death certificates are available to anyone. Things have changed quite a bit when trying to order a birth certificate, a lot more restricted.  My understanding is that if the document you are seeking is more than 100 years old, there isn't a problem. 

This is what I knew:  John C Drake was born 26 April 1871 in Amboy, Hillsdale, Michigan.  His mother was Lucia Cahoon Drake and his father was John Stout Drake.  He died on 30 August 1871 in Amboy, Hillsdale, Michigan.  He dies of the bloody dysentery.  His name is on the tombstone with his mother, Lucia at the Baker/Drake Cemetery in Hillsdale.  He was called Johnny.

So I filled out the forms.  I had been psyching myself up for a few hours that it was perfectly okay for me to spend this money after the busted research trip.  Even if it costs $50 it's still way cheaper than hiring a professional or financing another trip back.  The cost was $46.  And then another $8.50 for processing.  And then another $18 to mail it to me.  HOLY CRAP!  Call me a cheap skate, but that's a lot of money to spend on something I wasn't sure about.  So I decided to fall back -- ONE MORE TIME, regroup -- ONE MORE TIME -- and double check all information just to make sure I wasn't missing something.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Success! You Can Run but You Can't Hide

Sometimes -- just sometimes, there is a reward for obsessive behavior.  And victory is sweet.

For the past couple of years, I have dilly dallied with old childhood memories.  There are two of them that are so brilliant, I felt I owed it to myself to at least make an attempt to see what they were about.  This is what I've been working on:

  1. I remember visiting a farm with my dad.  I remember walking behind him in a field of grass that reached up to my waist.  I do not remember any of my brothers being with us -- which is crazy, because my dad usually hauled us kids every where.
  2. My dad called the man we were with "Uncle Howard."
  3. After the funeral of my grandfather, Don Dee Drake (he died after MY dad), we went to a farm.  At this farm there were horses, and I met a cousin named Marti (also my name) Manigold, and we road ponies all day.   I knew she was connected -- somehow -- to "Uncle Howard."
  4. The farm couldn't be too far from my grandparents in Union City, Michigan as we didn't have a chance to get bored on the drive over.
  5. My dad had a favorite cousin named Majorie.
Can I tell you how many hundreds of hours I've spent looking for a Howard Drake or a Howard Scoville?

In 1975, I was listening to the radio and there was a news report that a small plane had crashed over by Niles, Michigan.  The pilot and three passengers were killed.  One of the passengers was a Marti Manigold who was a year younger than myself. Years later, I wonder why we never followed up on that, why we didn't go to a funeral or something.  Then I remembered that it was right around this time (January 8) that my mom was diagnosed with cancer and we probably weren't thinking about anything else.

In the last couple of years I've done some random sporadic research and have found absolutely nothing.   Then, I found a tribute to my cousin Marti Manigold -- also known as Martha Ellen Manigold -- that's right -- same first and middle name and our birthdays are 1 day and one year apart.  She writer and classmate of Marti, wrote lovingly about her, but there wasn't any details that I could track down.  I even tried to track the writer down but no such luck.  Back on the back burner.

Then one day, I randomly started googling small plane crashes around the Chicago area and I found two articles.  Unfortunately, the article had been read and transcribed by a computer.  It was hard to decipher, but at least I learned where and when the crash had occurred.  What I was looking for was surviving family, but, alas, the article was only partial.  Still, not to be daunted, I emailed the public library in Berrien Springs, Michigan, to see if they had back issues of the local newspaper.  A research librarian emailed me back that they, indeed, had microfilm for the dates I was inquiring about.  Well, it wasn't ideal, but I was going to be going to Michigan in the winter and I thought I could take a day and make a run down there. I emailed the librarian and asked her what their hours were going to be over Christmas.  She emailed me back and said that if I could provide her with the dates I was looking at, she would try and look it up for me.  WHAT???? Really????

And so I did.

A week later I received another email from that lovely librarian in which she informed me that she had found a couple of articles concerning the plane crash.  She wanted my address so she could mail them to me.  Are you kidding me?  I asked her how much I owed her for copies and postage and time and she said NOTHING. Consider it a random act of genealogical kindness.

And at the end of one of the articles was a list of the survivors which included Mr. and Mrs. Howard E. Berry, Union City.

Okay.  This means I wasn't crazy.  Now what?

Back through the family tree again.  There was NO Berry family to be found.  Then I went through all the women I could find to see if someone -- anyone -- had married a Berry, or had a daughter that married a Berry.  No freaking luck.

So I've been mulling this over.  And over.  And over.

Then, I went to and found a marriage record for Howard Herbert Berry and Anna Elmira Dickey.  Married in 1918.  Howard Herbert Berry was born in 1898, two years after my Grandpa Don Dee Drake.  Howard was born in Barry, County -- not too terribly far away.  Then I thought maybe I was looking at this wrong.  Fall back  and regroup.  Again.

Today, I found another marriage record for Howard Herbert Berry.  In the 1930 United States Census, there is a Howard H Berry living in Union, Branch, Michigan.  His wife's name was Noldine and they had a daughter, Majorie Ellen.  Bingo!  And there the name Ellen was cropping up again.

So, I started looking into Noldine.  And I found another marriage license with the bride being a Noldine Fitzgerald.  Fitzgerald was the last name of my Grandpa Don Dee Drake's second wife.  I knew HER to be Ellen Fitzgerald and when she married my grandfather she had a son named David.  I have always ASSUMED (and you know what that means) that her married name was Fitzgerald.  I ASSUMED she was a widow. Anyhoo, I found a United State Census from 1910 with Noldine Fitzgerald listed as the 12 year old daughter of Guy E. and Etta Fitzgerald.  There was also a a son -- Markham -- and a little baby girl named Elizabeth.  Who was 0 years old.  The year was right for my step grandmother's birth, but her name was Ellen.  Not Elizabeth.

A little backtracking through Censuses and I found Guy Fitzgerald.  His mother's name was Ellen.  So my next question -- and I didn't expect much -- was Elizabeth's middle name Ellen?  And did she go by Ellen?  My family is a great one for calling each other by their middle names.  My dad was Donald Duane Drake.  All his friends and coaches called him "Dobbie" -- which is another long story.  All the family called him Duane.  Only my mom called him Don.

So then I went to and did a search on public family trees and there I found my step grandmother Elizabeth Ellen Fitzgerald.  Correct birthday, and it shows her marrying a Don Dee Drake.  Apparently my family isn't as important to them as it is to me.

This is great news.  I can safely say that Howard Berry was not actually an uncle, but a step uncle with his wife Noldine and my step gran being sisters.

You would think this is the end of it but it's not.  I now have a whole bunch of unanswered questions.  I don't think actually pursuing them would do me any good, as these involve family members that are not blood.  How hard do you pursue something like that?  I only have so much time.

I will eventually transcribe the newspaper articles concerning my cousin Marti Manigold's death.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Family Reunions

I used to really love the family reunions that we used to have at my grandfather's house on Bedford Road, in Urbandale, Michigan.  Actually, I think there was only one, but it was pretty great.  All my cousins were there:  Charlene, Dee and Kay.  That's right.  Three measly cousins.  Charlene was way older than us, Kay and my little brother Mike Drake were practically babies and worthless.  So that left me, Dee and Dob.  And Dob didn't have much use for us and went off to hang out with my dad and Uncle Jack.  Dee or Deeter as we called him, laid in the hammock and talked about how much we hated Dob.  There was always a ton of great food, no naps unless we accidentally fell asleep.  And this set the stage on how family reunions were supposed to be. 

In another direction -- and stay with me -- when tracing your family tree, we sometimes forget that we are not all descending from only child homes.  That most generations had more than one child and when you get back past the turn of the century (the 1900s not the 2000s) there were many, many children and many children that died and are long buried. 

When I get stuck, I will sometimes take a couple and list all their siblings, like I was getting ready to send out invites for a family reunion.  I recently did that with my great grand parents Allison Royce Drake and Jane Myers Drake.  For as much as I know about them, I certainly don't know very much about them.  And this kills me because I knew people that knew them, that could have told me a lot, I'm sure, if I had only been so inclined to ask.  But I wasn't into family trees at that time.  The only thing I was interested in about families is how to get away from mine.

So here's what I discovered and you can see the glaring gaps:

Allison Royce Drake had 9 siblings:
  1. James Amos Drake
  2. Ann Drake
  3. Sidney Drake
  4. Mary Cerenus Drake
  5. Alfred Bird Drake
  6. Jane Drake
  7. Lucy Drake
  8. John C Drake
 I might note here that there are some people that will claim that there were 10 Drake kids in all, but I believe that Alfred Bird Drake and Bird A Drake are the same person in spite of the 1820 US Federal Census that lists them both, 2 years apart.  And I will prove that before I die.

Jane Myers Drake had 7 siblings:
  1. Eveline Myers
  2. Huldah Myers
  3. Stephan Myers
  4. Mary Myers
  5. John H Myers
  6. Joshua Myers
  7. Mattie Bell Myers
So you'd think that if they all got together that it would be a helluva a family reunion, right?

So far, this is what my quick research has discovered.  And I haven't run down every single lead, with every single piece of information at Ancestry and the Internet.  This might not be 100% accurate, which is why I'm putting it here, until I can verify.

Here we go:
  1. Allison Royce Drake married Jane Myers and had 4 children -- Hattie, Don Dee, Allison Royce and Lucia
  2. James Amos Drake married Mary A Wright and had 4 children -- Ethie, Hiram, Carrie and John Haight.
  3. Eugene Emery Drake married a gal named Amelia and had 5 children:  Minie F, Issa May, Clarance, Lloyd B and Eva.
  4. Ann Drake never married.
  5. Sidney Drake married Sarrah and had one daughter: Lucredia
  6. Mary Cerenus Drake -- I have no record of her marrying or having a child.
  7. Alfred Bird Drake married Eugenia Priestly.  Eugenia may have been nicknamed Mattie.  I have no record of them having any children.
  8. Jane Drake married George Priestly.  George and Eugenia were brother and sister.  They had three children:  Earl, Katie and Fern.
  9. Lucy Drake, died at 23 years old of consumption.  I have no record of her marrying or having children.
  10. John C Drake was born and died in 1871 and is buried with his mom, Lucia Cahoon Drake.  There still seems to be controversy over the spelling of Cahoon.  I am wondering if the C initial in John's name would be her maiden name.  I should order the birth certificate.
For all the Drake siblings, there are a total of 17 cousins.  For the time and the number of people that were involved, that wasn't very many.

On to Jane Myers siblings:
  1. Eveline Myers married David Cope and had 5 children:  Clarence Earl, Edgar Floyd, Albert Roy, Harriet L, Iva B.
  2. Huldah Myers married Elisha M. McElhenie and had two sons:  Walter Scott and Charles Edgar.
  3. Stephan Myers I believe died in 1874 at 12 years old with no wife or issue.
  4. Mary Myers -- I can find no records at all.
  5. John H Myers -- no record.
  6. Joshua Myers -- no record.
  7. Mattie Belle Myers married Edward Collins Schwartzwaller.  She was 42 when they got married and I find no record of there being any children. 
For all the Myers siblings, there are a total of 11 cousins.

So, what did all this rigmarole do for me?  I noticed that John C Drake has the middle initial "C."  I've seen the grave with my own eye.  The boy and Lucia share the same side of ol' John Stout Drake's tombstone.  I don't know why, but for many years, I just assumed the C stood for Converse, another side of the family.  So that is a lead to pursue.  It also shows me how much I don't know.