Thursday, January 31, 2019

At the Library – #52 Ancestors

My favorite “At the Library” story is about my experience at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  It was many years ago. I was a baby genealogist. My husband was working at a conference in and I’d joined him for a few days. We had an amazing room that looked out to the mountains in the relatively new Grand American five star hotel. While hubby worked, I headed right to the Family History Library. The morning went by quickly as I researched their vast microfilm collection. Hubby showed up around 3:00 to do his research. My head was about to burst and my eyes were exhausted. I told him I was done. I couldn’t look at another thing. I was going downstairs and he could find me there when he was through.

I walked downstairs and browsed through the stacks of books located there. My eye fell upon one. Could it be? Could it be here in Utah? The book was The History of the Town of Catherine by Mary Louise Catlin Cleaver. I pulled the book from the shelf and headed to the nearest table. I wasn’t so tired after all. My adrenaline was flowing again. I pulled my legal pad and pen out, ready to take notes. The Cleaver book was filled with my Agard ancestors who were listed as the early settlers of Catherine, New York.

In my Agard monograph I have a set-aside explanation of the area. It reads: The town of Catherine was originally called Johnson’s Settlement, named for Robert C. Johnson of New York City who purchased 10,725 acres in this area of Upstate New York.  In the center of the crossroads stood a post, not unlike the liberty pole that stands in the middle of State Route 25 and Route 6 in Newtown, Connecticut. The town was divided into northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest sections. Interestingly, the lot in the southeast corner of the town was purchased by Job Lattin, Jr. of Newtown, Connecticut. In fact, many early settlers arrived from Connecticut since this area of Upstate New York was known for its fertile land and abundant orchards.

The Town of Catherine was organized by act of legislature on 9 March 1798. John Mitchell is listed as the first bona fide settler; Eaton Agard is listed as one of the early settlers. The Methodist Episcopal Church in Catherine was organized in 1805; one of the first trustees is Samuel Agard. The Catherine Library Association was organized 1 April 1817 and Samuel Agard again listed as a first trustee. The first post office was established in 1816.

When my husband found me a couple hours later, he said, “I thought you were tired and done for the day.”

“Look what I found,” I replied, showing him the Cleaver book. “I hit a goldmine of information.”

There were so many connections with this family. We were living in Newtown, CT at the time. Litchfield, Connecticut, where the sons of John the Younger Agard had moved, was less than an hour north. I felt like our family had come full circle.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

I’d Like to Meet - Esther Agard - #52 Ancestors

I imagine that Esther Agard was a strong and remarkable woman. Strong because at the age of forty-three and pregnant, she survived a spring Atlantic crossing in 1683. Strong because with the death of her husband John, either during the crossing or shortly after arrival, it was Esther who is the founding member of the Agard family line in America. Remarkable because she survived and thrived. Two years after her son, John, was born, Esther married Samuel Storrs. She raised his five children, plus John and three of hers and Samuel’s. Those children are: Thomas Storrs b: 1886; Esther Storrs b: 1688; and Cordall Storrs b: 1692.

In his book, “Agards in America,” Frederick Browning Agard details the issues surrounding the origin of that family.  He starts with John the Elder coming from “somewhere in the British Isles in the mid-17th century.” John dies at sea or in Massachusetts between 1683 and 1685.” There are various accounts: Phelps Leach’s “Lawrence Leach and some of his Descendants,” D.H Van Hoosear’s “Fillow Family Genealogy,” and a statement of E.V. Carrithers, professional searcher in Brighton, Sussex, England that the family sprang from England, Scropton in Derbyshire.

I imagine Esther was a strong and remarkable woman. I would love to hear her story.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Mehitable - #52 Ancestors

Mehitable is an Old Testament name meaning "God Rejoices." 

I first encountered the name “Mehitable” when I researched the founding mother of the Agards in America—Esther Agard.

In April 1683 John “The Elder” Agard and his wife Esther traveled to the new world. John either died at sea or immediately upon arrival, leaving Esther, who was six months pregnant to become the founding member of Agards in America.

Esther gave birth to John “The Younger” Agard on 16 July 1683, either in Boston or Barnstable, MA. On 14 December 1685, Esther married Samuel Storrs. Samuel Storrs' wife, Mary (Huckins) Storrs died shortly after giving birth to the couple’s seventh child, Mehitable.

Samuel and Esther Agard Storrs had three children, Thomas, Esther, and Cordial. Thomas married a woman named Mehitable Joyce on 14 March 1708. They in turn had a daughter named Mehitable.

In the Agard line, John “The Younger” Agard married Mehitable Hall in 1709. John and Metitable had seven children. The first five sons consist of the five branches of the Agards in America. The only daughter, Mehitable, born 14 October 1718. I have not traced her at this point. 

The next Metitable appears in the Benjamin Branch of the Agard family. Benjamin Agard married Elizabeth Hall and lived in Mansfield, Connecticut. Mehitable was born 16 October 1784 and died 8 June 1770. 

The first child of the Hezekiah Branch born to Hezekiah and Abigail Damon Agard was named Mehitable, born 5 November 1752 in Torrington, Connecticut.

The last Mehitable that I know of in this line was born into the Benjamin Branch, to Joshua and Ruth (Needham) Agard. Ruth was the daughter of Humphrey and Dorothy Munger of Wales, Massachusetts. Their second child was named Mehitable.

The Mehitable naming pattern in this family line seems to end with this generation.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Challenge – #52 Ancestors

My biggest challenge this past year was finishing the transcription of the Jacksonville M.E. Church history. It isn’t the most exciting document. The “history” is just a recording of minutes taken from 1842 to 1946. Photos taken by local residents have been added. An index of names and events will be included.

Update on 12 January 2019: Thanks to the trustees, the file cabinet that has been locked for many years has now been opened. The bottom drawer was filled with papers and documents relating to the church's history. Best of all: My great-grandmother's leather notebook in which she transcribed the church history was found in the drawer. And, it contains the missing twenty-seven years. A volunteer is now sorting through the papers and will arrange them in file folders. This spring we will travel north, go through the papers and see how much to include in my Jacksonville Church History document. Great news!

The church history is important because the document details the struggle and resilience of the Jacksonville church community. Financial issues plagued the church throughout its history, but the community rose to the challenge each time and made sure the church survived.

An excerpt:

July 1851            Subject of uniting Jacksonville and Trumansburg again brought up at Quarterly Conference.  Bro. John W. Nevins, P.E.

Bros Ashworth and Tichenor were delegates from Trumansburg. After long speeches it was laid on the table.

October 1851             It seems that finances were a serious problem for the Jacksonville Church, so much so, that in October 1851 a committee of three was appointed to inquire into the propriety of selling the M.E. Church. The committee to see about this was Joseph Stout, Joseph Ganoung and Elisha Wilcox.

The church history is important for genealogists. Those with ancestors in the Ulysses and Tompkins County area can find out if those ancestors belonged to the church, were active members, or maybe even expelled.

The plan is to have the volume bound and presented to the church in early spring.

Monday, January 7, 2019

First – #52 Ancestors Challenge

The title refers to the fact that it is a challenge for me to keep up with Amy Johnson Crow’s weekly blog suggestions. Writing mystery novels over the past several years has gotten in the way of my genealogy research. I’m trying to rectify that.

I did, however, sort out the marriages of Flossie C. (Dean) Searles Wortman’s marriages. When I did the original research many years ago I found an article in the Trumansburg Free Press and Sentinel that stated: “On December 29, 1910, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Fremont Dean, of East Ulysses occurred the marriage of their daughter Flossie to Mr. Warren Searles of Hector.” In my haste I did not follow through on this, and just assumed the paper got it wrong and that she had not married a “Searles,” but instead the Warren mentioned was Warren “Wortman.”

I now know that Flossie did first marry Warren Searles, and had a daughter named Grace born 30 July 1911. That marriage ended and sometime between 1915 and December 1918 (when Flossie was listed as Warren Wortman's wife on his WWI draft registration card) Flossie married Warren Wortman. I have scoured the newly released (thanks to Reclaim the Records) marriage records for these years and have come up empty handed. I’ve also looked for some other marriage records that don’t seem to be listed. I wonder if the town clerk (s) have not submitted all their records, or the records may be lost.

Elizabeth Lois Wortman was born 16 May 1919 to Flossie and Warren. Flossie died on 24 May 1919, eight days after giving birth. She was listed as living at 205 Pleasant Street in Ithaca. Flossie is buried in the Trumansburg, New York Grove Cemetery, Plot 708 with the Wortman and Dean family.

There is much more work to do on this family, but I am relieved to get Flossie’s marriages sorted.