My article—The Croy Boys:Seven Sons Serving in the Civil War—is in the just-published OGSQ. Have ancestors from Ohio? Join the Ohio Genealogical Society! It is a fabulous organization, and you get access to so much—including all the Quarterly publications. Go to “Civil War” in blog categories in the right-hand column and find out more about these boys.
Pinch time! After this posting, I retire for one month to work on the upcoming publication of The Scattering of Stone. Taking a book to publication takes time, and the time is near (exact date not yet known). I just received the completed edits for Scattering, my multi-period American historical fiction novel set in Pennsylvania and Ohio at the end of the eighteenth century. Editing takes careful, line-by-line, word-by-word attention, so I’ll be (happily) busy for a while.
Included in the month hiatus is a trip to New England to research my third book set in 1775-1778, Bennington, Vermont. (And, yes, it’s a pleasure trip, too.) I’ll write about my adventures when I return.
But, for now, let’s talk research! Namely, out-of-print books on line! Genealogy, history, or historical fiction researchers alike, this is an amazing tool. If you’ve read my blog, you’ve heard it me say it before, but REALLY—.
Here’s one more example: the details of the ill will, distrust, fear, and chaos in the midst of war. The document? The Records of the Council of Safety and Governor and Council of the State of Vermont, Vol. I edited by E.P. Walton, Montpelier: Steam Press, 1873. (The bold in these quotes is mine.)
Ill will? Or what do you do with a strong-willed woman?
Arlington, 28 May 1778 “Whereas it has been represented to this Council that the wife of Jeremiah French late of Manchester (now in armes with the Enemy) is very turbulent & Troublesome where she now is, & refuses to obey orders…You are hereby Commanded to Take said Woman and her children…& Transport them to Head-quarters at Rutland & there diliver them to the commanding officer who will order a party of the men…[so] she can go to the enemy in order to git to her husband…” Records, pg. 260
Distrust? September 1777 (after the Battle of Bennington) through early 1778 the council recorded entry after entry dealing with local “enemies” who sided with England, imposing deportations to enemy lines, fines, confiscation of property, passes of travel, or oaths of allegiance. These matters so encumbered the docket that a March 1778 council resolution gave the majority of these duties to the captains guarding Tory jails. An example:
Vermont Council of Safety, 3d September 1777 “Francis Breakenridge is permitted to Return home, & Remain on his father’s home farm, and if found off to expect 39 Lashes of the Beach Seal, until further orders from this Council.” Records, pg. 155
Fear and chaos?
Vermont Council of Safety, Bennington, 28 July 1777 “Whereas the inhabitants of the northwesterly part of this State have been necessitated to remove their families by the encroachment of the enemy, and some are removed to the states of Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut:…request such men to return and assist in defending this and the United States of America from the ravages of the enemy…” Records, pg. 138
Oh! And an ancestor in the mix!
Bennington, 6 October 1777 “We are informed that Mr. S. Payne of Sunderland has in his Custody one yoke of oxen the Property of this State which we desire youd Take into Custody immediately.” Addressed to Commissioners of Sequestration Records, pg. 186
Go deep! It’s worth the dig!
And look for great blogs like A Writer of History by MK Todd. (Okay, you can include my blog, as well.) I remember reading the Bernard Cornwell quote she used in her most recent post (found here), and I thank her for reminding me of it. I love Bernard Cornwell’s rousing stories! No matter your research, in fiction, the story’s the thing.
“The most important thing, the all important thing, is to get the story right. Write, rewrite, rewrite again, and do not worry about anything except story. It is story, story, story. That is your business. Your job is not to educate readers on the finer points of Elizabethan diplomacy or Napoleonic warfare, your job is to divert and amuse people who have had a hard day at work. What will get you published? Not style, not research, but story. Once the story is right, everything else will follow.” B. Cornwell
I am currently obsessed with Bennington County, Vermont—in particular the township of Sunderland. My reasons?
- Samuel Payne, my 4 times great-grandfather[i] lived in Sunderland.
- My work in progress fictionalizes Samuel’s time in Sunderland during the Revolutionary War.
- My husband and I travel to New England in October, and Bennington is one of our stops.
As usual, the deeper I dig into an area the more details I uncover. Consequently, I’m deep into smallpox and early inoculation, the Green Mountain Boys, the impact of the Revolutionary War on the area, and the conflict between New York and New Hampshire Colonies over the Grants. A stickler for original sources, I am devouring (slowly—it’s a huge banquet) the town records for Sunderland, Manchester, and Bennington found via FamilySearch Wiki. If you have ancestors from Bennington County, I highly recommended these resources.
When I started searching the Sunderland records (See my first post and second post.), I got so excited by what I found that I neglected the first commandment of research—thoroughly document sources. In this case, I omitted the image number for my information, making it hard to return to it. So, back I went to the Family History Center, the only place I can access these records.
This time while carefully documenting, I also worked through the documents more systematically. The Sunderland records are not chronological, have multiple page numbering systems, and mix ear marks, town minutes, vital records, and land records. They require a page-by-page skim and scan approach. And PRESTO!
I found the record for Samuel Payne’s land purchase in Sunderland, Vermont. As I’ve said too many times, I LOVE LAND RECORDS. You can discover so much. Here is an annotated version of Samuel’s deed[ii] to highlight what one land deed can reveal. Note: (?)=illegible I omitted a large section of legal verification in the interest of clarity, but you can find the complete transcript here. Samuel Payne_s deed for land purchase in SunderlandAn endnote corresponds to each bolded portion of the deed.
“Know all men by these (?) that I Stephen Washburn of Sunderland in the County Albany and Province of New York yoman[iii] for aand in consideration of the sum of Sixty Eight pound[iv] Lawfull money to me is paid By Samuel Payen of Williamstown in the County of Burkshire In the Province of the Massetchuset Bay yoman[v] the Receipt where of I do hereby acknowledge & have given granted Bargained (?) and convey and confirm to him the said Samuel Payen his heirs and assign for Ever all my Right title interest claim and Demand I leave of two Lots of Land lying in Sunderland in County and province of P commonly known by No 14 and 21 and also part of the fifty acre lot No 6[vi] Beginning upon the North end of the Lot No 14 Containing ten acres by the same (?) or side all being of the same Division of fifty acre Lots of Land in P township with a Dwelling House[vii] …THIS SECTION OMITTED.
In witness where of I have here unto set my hand on this Seventeeth Day of September in the year one thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy two[viii] and the twelth year of his Magisty Reign (signed) Stephen Washborn in presence of Gideon Brownson Cornelie Brownson
Sign Sealed and Delivered
The (?) of Fifty acre Lots is (?) between the twenty Seventeeth and Eighteenth Lines
Bennington April 29th 1789 then the within named Stephen Washburn personally appearing acknowledged the within instrument to Be his free act and Deed[ix]
This deed ReceivedMarch 6th 1790 by Abner Hill Town clerk[x]
An analysis of lots (see photos) confirms that Samuel Payne lived at the confluence of Batten Kill and Mill Creek. A town history mentioned that Samuel Payne was the first to run a grist mill near the northwest corner of Sunderland, and I had deduced that he would have lived on Mill Brook. A comparison of the lot map and a map of old Sunderland above shows this well.
One more mystery yet unsolved: when did he sell this land? I was unable to find two deeds referenced in the index in which he sold to an Amos Brownson and an Amos Chipman. I wrote to Sunderland’s clerk for advice and have a few ideas of my own.
Meanwhile, back to the Family History Center—did I say I have a new obsession?
[i] Through my father, Ralph Croy, son of Justus Croy, son of Sarah Angelina Smith Croy, daughter of Sephronia Payne Smith, daughter of Zerah Payne, son of Samuel
[ii] Sunderland Town Records Deeds, Vol 3, 1760-1815; image 323; FamilySearch filmed 8 September 1952 [accessed on-line at Family Research Center, Prather, CA on 24 August 2017]
[iii] The original owner, Stephen Washburn, likely owned the land under New York charter when Sunderland was considered by New York as part of Albany County.
[iv] The land (110 acres) cost 68 pounds in 1772.
[v] Confirms other documents from Williamstown records and town histories putting Samuel Payne in Williamstown before moving to Sunderland.
[vi] Samuel Payen (Payne) purchased lots 14, 21 and part of 6 in Sunderland (and likely because of the dispute the province of the Sunderland land was left with a P, neither New York or New Hampshire.)
[vii] The property he bought already had a dwelling house.
[viii] Samuel bought this land on September 17, 1772.
[ix] Stephen Washburn had to appear when Samuel finally entered his deed in the town records April 29, 1789, likely concerned that his property be acknowledged before Vermont became a state. He also had bought property in Panton, Vermont in 1788 (see this post).
[x] I’ve gotten to know and appreciate Abner Hill quite well as I’ve read the town records including his unique spellings and offhand organization.
My mother Hattie Beatrice Schulz Croy, born February 24, 1919, died August 4, 2017 on her wedding anniversary. She was ninety-eight years old and lived a long, event-filled life. I’ve refrained from writing about her ancestry because she still lived, and, since two sisters still live (longevity runs in our family), I will save most of my research until later. But, in honor of the heart-felt and raucous reunion her death precipitated, and to celebrate her notorious sense of humor, this post has to do with hairlines.
My nephews have often wondered at the source of the M-shaped hairline (not pattern baldness) that they inherited from their father. The tone of the question tended to the “why us” variety, though I think the look a handsome one. If there is any doubt, check out the actor who plays Uhtred on The Last Kingdom—not bad.
It’s unlikely that it came from Dad’s side of the family. While the photo below isn’t definitive because of all those hats, the hairline is not in evidence. Pattern baldness shows up in patriarch, Calvin Croy but not that hairline.
It possibly came from Hattie’s mother’s side, the Meyers, but the hairlines in the picture below seem quite ample. Patriarch, John Meyer has a hint of the M-shape but—you decide.
On the other hand, take a look at the Schulz family. Matriarch Marie and patriarch Martin, in my mind, are rocking the look. Other family members also show the inherited trait though it’s hard to tell with that fashionable (or camouflaging) midline part. (On a side note, check out the curtains in this photo and the last. They were taken in the same studio in Sparta, Wisconsin.)
Heredity is a random act of kindness, or not, and the times and conditions of our lives, likewise, consist of a throw of the dice. A kindergarten teacher I once knew always said, “Take what you get and don’t throw a fit.” My mom lived some tough times and some lucky ones; heredity granted her gifts and challenges. (I mean, look at the wedding photo. Is that a hint of an M-shaped hairline?) Still, tucked into the tough, the lucky, the gifts, and the challenges was humor. As she said on the day before she died, “Oh, you came to the party.”
This past week I drove six-miles to our local Family History Center. Lucky right? And I live in a rural community. The ease of access amazes me. More amazing? I’d never been there.
I had discovered digital images for Sunderland, Vermont land records on the FamilySearch. Having pinpointed the date Samuel Payne bought land in Addison, Vermont after leaving Bennington County, VT, I was anxious to confirm that he had lived in Sunderland as I suspected. This based on a brief mention I discovered in a history of the township. My double-click gave me this message:
“These images are viewable: When using the site at a family history center.”
I went, of course, and the trip introduced me to some wonderful, like-minded genealogists, while my exploration of the land records netted amazing results. What a boon! Besides confirming, on a major historical note, that Ethan Allen and his brother Ira Allen purchased a wealth of land in Sunderland right after the Revolutionary War (Volume 3, pg 23-25), I found out Samuel Payne was one of the early settlers there.
Here is what I discovered in the first unnumbered pages of Volume 3 which began with earmarks and Council minutes then moved on to 1784 land records…odd:
- On March 29, 1774 Samuel Pane (Payne), Abel Blanchard, and Daniel Comstock were on a committee to sell the Scott lot
- On April 27, 1777 Samuel Payen (Payne) registered his mark with the clerk: a crop in the left ear and a half-penny in the upper side of the right (more on that below!)
- On March 8, 1778 Samuel Pane (Payne) was on a committee with John Lee, and Charles Everts to survey for a highway
The first pages of Volume 3 are filled with pages of cattle heads, 5 to a page, some heads were unclaimed and some, like Samuel’s, were claimed and dated. I had never seen this before, but townsmen were required to mark all of their cattle (by this meaning all cows, pigs, and sheep) with a mark registered with the town clerk. A short explanation specific to Connecticut Colony can be found here. My research indicates it was a common practice in the colonies allowing them to distinguish animals both in a free range environment and in circumstances where a cow, pig, or sheepherder tended all the township’s animals.
The early volumes (1-5) are a confusing mixture of Council Meeting minutes, early vital records of individual families, land records, and ear-marks with records from disparate years right next to each other on the pages. Because of the mishmash, I found the index of minimal use. For example, land records for Samuel Payne should appear in Volume 1, pages 63, 67, and 87 but I couldn’t find them there. I must have looked four times! And Ira Allen’s land records in Volume 1 should appear on page 221, but there are not that many pages in the volume. I have more work to do—see you next week!
I was raised in Trinity County and consider that fact one of my life’s blessings. My father was the reason I grew there, from second grade through high school graduation (Go Wolves!). He worked on the Trinity portion of the Central Valley Project for twelve years, from 1953 through 1965. I ran across this brochure and thought it was interesting. A gift to the project kids, with love.
Once again the e-mails I receive from other researchers, have spurred me to reevaluate my research, including how I proceed. I’m inspecting the Payne family of Vermont in greater depth, since they (and consequently the Green Mountain Boys and the battle of Bennington) are the inspiration for my next book. I know Samuel Payne lived in Bennington, Vermont because his name is mentioned in histories of Sunderland, Vermont and because of his military record spanning 1777 and 1781(see this post). Afterwards, he appears in the 1790 Federal Census in Panton, Addison County, Vermont.
So, the big question is: When exactly did the family make the move from Bennington to Panton? The answer came by doggedly following the trail laid out through FamilySearch Wiki, indexes, and records. Name searches revealed none of this information.
Before I began my search, I knew who (Samuel Payne), where (Panton, VT) and when (between 1781 and 1790). I outline my process below.
- FamilySearch Wiki: Go to the wiki for the place you are interested in researching. https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Main_Page In my case, Panton, VT had the actual deeds and grants beginning in 1761. Wow![i]
- The resource includes an index, but I didn’t know this when I began. The resource looked like this Deeds, town and vital records, v. 2 1784-1793 Deeds, v. 0 1784 Deeds, town and vital records, v. 3 1792-1801 Deeds, town and vital records, v. 4 1801-1825 But when I clicked on it, I went to the very first page and an index was there,[ii] along with Volume I, not mentioned above: Panton Proprietors Record 1761- 1837. It looked like this:
- Now I have page numbers for my search, but those are not the IMAGE pages. I need to estimate the image page by dividing the page number of the document by 2 (there are two pages for each image) and adding the pages before the NUMBERED pages begin. Hope you are following me. Anyway, I estimated, searched, and found these:
The question answered: Samuel Payne bought land in Panton first on May 1, 1788 (21 acres) and again on June 14, 1788 (35 acres). The land was situated along Otter Creek. Using a similar method of discovery I went to v. 4 and found the deed (Pg. 477) in which he sold a single parcel of 75 acres on Otter Creek to Edward Gray on November 3, 1812. This indicates he likely purchased about 20 acres of land to make the full parcel after the summer of 1788.
Of course, now I needed a great map! Check out the one above from, where else, the Library of Congress.
[i] A note: some of these digital images are only available for viewing at a Family History Center. Panton’s were available on-line. Bennington’s require a Family History Center. Luckily one is just down the road from me, so I’ll be visiting soon.
[ii] An aside regarding indexes in Ancestry: often a name search leads to an index, but search the record. Often it is a complete record and the actual document is found on later pages.