Sunday, December 31, 2017

Year in Review: Slow, But Steady Progress

This year was a year of slow but steady progress researching and writing about my family history. This blog and my research took a back seat to getting our Virginia house ready to sell. Thankfully, it sold in two days so the discomfort of keeping my home a pristine showplace was short lived!

11719 Flemish Mill Court, Oakton, Virginia.

Foyer of our Oakton home; courtesy of TTR Sotheby's International, The
Yerks Team

We are now temporary residents of upstate New York and I am learning to cope with below zero temperatures! We plan to be New Yorkers until my husband retires in late 2019. He had been commuting to work in Albany since 2012; so the move north of the Mason-Dixon Line (something I said I would never do) made sense even to me.

Before our move we held our second bi-annual Lange Cousins Reunion in Lake Park, Georgia. We are the grandchildren of Gustav and Wilhelmina (Schalin) Lange and there are 16 of us. So far most of us have managed to attend our reunions.

Assemblage of Lange first cousins; personal collection

I had promised to produce a pamphlet about the history of the Lange family. We knew a lot about the Schalin family from a book written by a distant cousin, Lucille (Effa) Fillenberg, but the Lange family was a mystery. I was able to navigate the Polish archives and learn a few things. The best gift, however, meeting by telephone the son of Grandpa Lange's youngest brother. He was able to provide so much more information and context. My brother John helped me sort through the ever-changing country borders before and after World War II and provide the context of life for civilians living in war-torn land.

Procrastinator that I am, the pamphlet was late, but it eventually got done a few weeks after the reunion.

Ludwig-Lange Family History

The Slave Name Roll Project turned two in February and was discovered when it was mentioned in an education video produced by

As a result, the project became more than one person can handle and I'm hoping to share some exciting news about the project in a few weeks. It's been very rewarding to watch this worthwhile endeavor grow.

Slave Name Roll Project

I was also interviewed for an article which appeared in the New Haven Independent, "She's Preserving Vets' Names for the Digital Age," which describes Heather Wilkinson Rojo's Honor Roll Project. Pete and I love to contribute to this volunteer effort as it gets us out exploring the countryside -- no matter the weather! I encourage everyone with a smart phone and transportation to think about contributing as well.

Honor Roll Project

Perhaps the most exciting thing that happened this year was a "gift" received just after Christmas. A comment on my recent post, DNA Discoveries: Jewell Progress, referred me to a comment on Find A Grave and to a Virginia Chancery Court case, which was a goldmine of helpful information. There will be a post about the details in a few days, but the net result was I learned the maiden name of Catherine B. Jewell's mother, her mother's siblings, and maternal grandparents. Catherine B. Jewell was my great great grandmother. So I was able to learn the name of a three times great grandmother and a four times great grandfather. I had no expectation of being able to push my Jennings pedigree chart back in time as it is a line that has been researched for decades by a very able group of genealogists.

The DNA Discoveries: Jewell Progress post will be republished on 16 January in the RootsFinder blog for the "How I Solved It" series.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Who's Your Daddy, Adam Beard?

In 1952 Jessie Irene Beard (Brand) wrote a small book entitled, History of Adam Beard and His Descendants. There isn't much doubt Adam Beard was born on 11 November 1787 in Bedford County, Virginia. He married Margaret Ennis Crouch on 8 March 1814 in the county of his birth. Six months later he enlisted as a private in Captain John Hewitt's Company, which was part of the Second Regiment of the Virginia Militia and served his country until 30 November 1814. As a result of his military service he received two parcels of land, which I have yet to track down.

Adam and Margaret had ten known children in Virginia before they migrated to what was then Mason County, Virginia, in 1845. It is now part of West Virginia. They built a log cabin on Shady Fork of the Little Sixteen Creek, about 20 miles from Point Pleasant, where the Kanawha river joins the Ohio river.

Adam Beard's Cabin on Shady Fork; image courtesy of History of
Adam Beard and His Descendants

They lost at least one son during the Civil War. Margaret (Crouch) Beard died in 1870 and Adam Beard died in 1872. They are both buried in Viers Chapel Cemetery in Mason County, West Virginia.

Jessie believed her Adam Beard descended from Capt. David Beard. She wrote in her book:

"The earliest record of the Beard family that can be traced here in the United States is of -- David Beard -- the first one of our family to settle here. Legend tells us that his family were natives of Ayrshire, Scotland, but left there because of religious persecution and went to North Ireland. No actual facts are known by the writer about his early life here, except, that he lived in Virginia and was a soldier in the American Revolution. He was in the army of General Greene, serving with him through the Southern Campaign, rising to the rank of Captain. He was badly wounded at the battle of Cowpens, January 17, 1781, having been shot through the abdomen while leading a charge near the close of the conflict. After his recovery, he again entered the service and was at the surrender of Yorktown. After the war was over, he returned to Virginia and settled in Bedford County."

This paragraph is incorrect on a number of fronts. Capt. David Beard's grandfather was John Beard (1705-1780) and he was born in Bedford County. So there have been Beards in that county since at least the late 1600s.

Most public trees I have found on several genealogy websites list Capt. David Beard as the father of  the Adam Beard who married Margaret Crouch. And David Beard did have a son named Adam Beard, who was born about 1770 in Virginia and died in 1825 in Henry County, Tennessee. I think there is a lot of confusion about the various Adam Beards running about the countryside all around the same time. This is what I believe the correct tree to be:

How I believe the Beard family tree should organized;
created using Microsoft PowerPoint

My reasons are as follows:
  • David Beard's wife, Isabella (Carson) Beard would have been 41 years old when she gave birth to the Adam Beard, who was born in 1787 and settled in what became West Virginia. Certainly possible I'll grant you, but perhaps not likely.
  • David Beard and his family migrated to Sumner County, Tennessee, by 1787 when his eldest son was killed by Indians, according to Irene Beard's book. This means that Isabella remained behind in Virginia and gave birth to son Adam in 1787 or that David's son John was sent ahead to scout the route to Tennessee. That scenario is possible, but not likely.
  • David and Isabella Beard had an older son named Adam, who was still alive in 1787. Why name another son Adam? Again this is not likely.
  • John Beard's son, Adam Beard (c1755-1787) lived and died in Bedford County, Virginia. His family was obviously closely affiliated with the Crouch family as his daughter Polly married a Crouch, likely an older brother of Margaret Ennis Crouch, wife of Adam Beard (1787-1872). This would make it likely that this branch of the Beard family and the Crouch family were close and perhaps migrated westward in Virginia to a county that became part of West Virginia.
None of these suppositions are definitive, yet having the Adam Beard, who died in 1872 in West Virginia, be the son of Adam Beard makes a lot more sense on all fronts.

What do you think?

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve at The Sagamore

Pete and I journeyed north to Bolton Landing on the west shore of Lake George through snow, ice and fog to spend Christmas Eve at The Sagamore. The hotel was named for a character in James Fenimore Cooper's 1826 novel, Last of the Mohicans -- Chingachgook, the last Mohican chief and often called "The Great Sagamore," or respected chief. The first hotel opened in 1883 and quickly became the center of social activity for wealthy Green Island residents and the owners of "cottages" along Lake George's Millionaires Row.

The less photographed entry facade of The Sagamore; personal collection
Valet desk; valet service is complimentary; personal collection

The first hotel was built in the shingled Queen Anne style of architecture, was constructed in the shape of an "H" and was three and a half stories. Lake steamers made regular stops at the docks of the hotel bringing new guests and their arrival was a highly anticipated event.

After the first fire in 1893 which left nothing more than the chimneys, there was no summer season. However, the surrounding cottages did not burn and owners needed a place to dine and socialize. So the Sagamore bowling alley was converted to a dining hall for the 1893 season.

The new Sagamore opened for business on 26 June 1894. Its architecture was picturesque; "its varied porticoes, balconies, and gables admirably displayed in colors that harmonized richly with their native surroundings."[1]

The second fire occurred on Easter Sunday in 1914 and totally destroyed the resort. Though rumors abounded about a new hotel in the years following, only cottages were built on Green Island. In 1923 the Sagamore Club opened. From historic photographs of the club, one can begin to discern the beginnings of the current hotel, which opened on 1 July 1930.

The hotel was added to the National Historic Register of Places in 1983 and became a member of Historic Hotels of American in 1991. The property was purchased by Ocean Properties, LTD in 2008, who have invested an additional $50 million.

The world famous lake facade, which was built in 1930; personal collection

View of Lake George and Dome Island; personal collection

The Christmas decorations were beautiful throughout the hotel, including banks of poinsettias...

Poinsettias in the lobby; personal collection

...Christmas trees throughout the property...

Christmas tree in the lobby bar; personal collection

...beautifully decorated mantles (yes, I lusted after that bark canoe)...

Cabin style Christmas decorations; personal collection

...and one life-sized gingerbread house in the lobby.

Life-sized gingerbread house in the lobby; personal

Merry Christmas to all my family and friends.

[1] Brown, M. O. The Sagamore, Lake George. Bolton Landing, New York, 1889. (Pamphlet)

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Joseph Leonard's Service in World War I: Just in Time for Meuse-Argonne

I "discovered" Joseph Leonard when I attended the dedication of Veterans Memorial Park in my new hometown of Cohoes, New York. In the park there was a memorial dedicated to Joseph and his service during the Philippine Insurrection for which he had been awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor.

Sgt. Joseph Leonard memorial in Veterans Memorial Park,
Cohoes, New York; personal collection

I wondered why Joseph Leonard had enlisted in 1897 using the name Joseph Melvin and wanted more details about his service. During my research journey, I learned Joseph led a very eventful life with several tragedies along the way. I also learned that he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps a second time and served in World War I.

On 19 April 1918 Joseph Leonard, at the age of 41, walked into a Marine Corps recruiting station in Cleveland, Ohio, and re-enlisted as a Private. He was given 5 days furlough and stationed to the Marine Barracks in Brooklyn, New York. In New York he was assigned to the 12th Co. until he was transferred to the Marine Detachment aboard the USS North Dakota (BB-29), a battleship, on 13 June. The dreadnought was based at the Brooklyn Naval Ship Yard and the York River in Virginia. She was tasked with training gunners and engine room personnel. The Marine Detachments aboard naval ships were responsible for the brig, defense of the ship and attack operations against the enemy ashore. Private Leonard would have participated in gunner training.

USS North Dakota (BB-29); courtesy of Wikipedia

On 17 August 1918 Private Leonard was transferred to Co. A in the 1st Separate Machine Gun Battalion at Quantico, Virginia. Sometime prior to 1 October the battalion was transferred to France where it was designated 1st Training Machine Gun Battalion as part of 1st Training Regiment. The regiment was stationed west of Tours in Chatillon-sur-Cher and Billy. On 16 October Private Leonard was transferred to USMC 5th Regiment as a replacement soldier. The regiment was near, Chalons-sur-Marne, south of Reims, and fighting in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. The 5th Regiment fought primarily as part of 4th (Marine) Brigade, 2nd (Army) Division.[1]

On 19 October the brigade of which 5th Regiment was a part was detached from 2nd Division and assigned to the French IX Corps to relieve its 73rd Division near Attigny, about 40 miles north of their position. About 5 miles from Attigny, the regiment received orders to return to 2nd Division. The plan was for the American Expeditionary Forces to force the Germans back across the Meuse river.

The remainder of Private Leonard's battle chronicle is told in A Brief History of 5th Marines, by the Historical Branch of the U.S. Marine Corps:

"From positions six miles southeast of Buzancy, the Marine brigade and 23rd Infantry (on the right) moved out in the attack early on 1 November. Throughout the day, resistance remained light, and each of the 5th's battalions had a hand in the successful advance. On 2 and 3 November, the 5th Regiment (minus the 2nd Battalion, attached to the 9th Infantry) was in support of 3rd Brigade. On 4 November, the 5th returned to the lines and sent out strong reconnaissance patrols to the Meuse. During the next four days, the regiment continued to move forward in the right of the division zone. Plans were made to cross the river on the night of 9-10 November, but were postponed because of the difficulty in obtaining bridge-building materials.

The 2nd Division had been ordered to cross the Meuse at two points, Mouzon on the left (north) and Letanne, five miles to the south. The 6th regiment, with the 3rd Battalion of the 5th attached, was to make the Mouzon crossing, while the remainder of the 5th Regiment, plus one battalion of the 89th Infantry Division was to accomplish the Letanne movement. At Mouzon, attempts to gain the opposite bank on 10 November failed when the enemy discovered the site and brought all available fire upon it. The thrust at Letanne, however, did not share the same fate.

Floating bridge at Letanne; courtesy U.S. Marine Corps Archives

Beginning at 2130 on 10 November, the 2nd Battalion started crossing the cold river. Despite heavy fire from German machine guns and artillery, treacherous footing on the board covered logs that served as floating bridges, and the uncertainty in the dark of night, the battalion crossed in one hour. Casualties and the scattering of units brought about by the difficulties in the crossing cut the battalion fighting strength to about 100 Marines by early morning. It reorganized, nevertheless, and moved out to the northwest, removing any enemy that remained. These efforts by the 2nd Battalion made the 1st Battalion's movement to the east bank less difficult. When both battalions were across, they joined forces in a sweep along the river towards Mouzon. At this time, word on the armistice reached the Marines.

Accounts of the reactions of Marines and Germans to the the news of the armistice differed. Some said that both sides celebrated, even together, while others stated that the friend and foe alike received the report joyfully, but in silence. Regardless of sentiments, the 5th still had much work ahead of it; realizing that the cessation of hostilities might be temporary only, the men began organizing the ground for defense. Then, on 14 November, after being relieved, the regiment moved south to Pouilly, on the Meuse opposite Letanne, to re-fit and re-equip for the last phase of its European operations.

The 2nd Division, of which the Marine Brigade [including 5th Regiment] was still a part, was one of six American divisions immediately ordered to move into Germany for occupation duty. The march to the Rhine began before sun-up on 17 November, and the 5th had the honor of providing the advance guard for the division. The first phase of the movement -- to the German border, approximately 60 miles away -- was made in six marching days and one rest day. The route to the border took the regiment southeast through Montmedy, France, across Belgium, and into Luxembourg to its eastern border with Germany. Here, the regiment participated in a defensive alignment of the division until crossing into Germany the first day of December...

...The 5th Regiment crossed the Rhine river at Remagen on 13 December and on the 16th moved to permanent winter quarters in the Wied River Valley just to the southeast [in Datzeroth]. Here the regiment began its mission of occupation. This duty involved not only a military preparedness to counter and defeat any riotous or warlike action of the German people, but also, a civil 'know-how' to supervise the local governments of the various towns in the regimental area.

8th Machine Gun Co., 5th Marine Regiment in Datzeroth, German; courtesy
of U.S. Militaria Forum

Training, of course, constituted the most important event in the day's activities. Schools, range firing, maneuvers, and reviews prevailed. To take advantage of duty-free time, Marines of the 5th took part in educational programs and availed themselves of the opportunities for leave in the larger French cities or for tours along the Rhine. Continuous emphasis was placed upon the physical readiness of the troops."

While stationed in Datzeroth, Germany, Private Leonard was promoted to Sergeant. On 24 March 1919 Sergeant Leonard was transferred by Special Order No. 79 to Marine Barracks, Washington, DC. From there he was transferred to Casual Co. 3912 in preparation of being discharged. He was discharged on 3 July and issued an honorable discharge button.

[1] During World War I 2nd (Army) Division was twice commanded by Marine Corps generals, the only time in military history Marine Corps officers commanded an Army division.

Joseph Leonard was born in 1876 Cohoes, New York, to James and Mary (Melvin) Leonard. He served in the USMC from 1897 through 1902 during the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in the Philippines. After being discharged, he migrated to Fergus County, Montana, and married Grace Cunningham in 1911. They had two children before her death from complications related to pregnancy. He homesteaded 160 acres near Stanford in present day Judith Basin County. At the time the area was called Coyote, which had a post office from 1909-1914 (thank you, Dave Wallenburn!).

After World War I Joseph returned to Montana where he worked as a copper miner and lived in a boarding house in Butte. His children were raised by their maternal grandparents. Joseph died at the California Veterans Home-Yountville in 1946 and was interred at Veterans Memorial Grove in the same town.

A Brief History of the 5th Marines, Marine Corps Historical Reference Series No. 36. Historical Branch, G-3 Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, (Washington, DC: U.S. Marine Corps, 1963), pages 10-12.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Learning about Susan (Bitto) Bertothy (1884-1984): My Sister-in-Law's Great Grandmother

My sister-in-law's great grandmother, Susan (Bitto) Bertothy, was baptized in what is now known as Mera, Borsod-Abauj-Zemplen, Hungary.[1] Mera is a village in northern Hungary, with a rich history in protest and resistance. During the course of Hungarian history, the area became a focal point of resistance to the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg dynasty, and even the Catholic church. Today, the region is known as the "Ruhr Valley of Hungary." During the Communist era it was heavily industrialized and that revolution was led by the mining of brown coal.[2]

Mera, Borsod-Abauj-Zemplen, Hungary; courtesy of Google Maps user
Gez @ batsy

Susan Bitto's parents were Istvan Bitto and Zuzsana Juhasz. They were married about 1878 and both were born in the same town as their daughter. I suspect Istvan was a coal miner but have no proof. By 1899 he and his wife had three children, who were all born in Mera. Two daughters named Maria were deceased.

The turn of the century was a prosperous time for northern Hungary. New factories and rail lines were built and opportunities for work expanded. But for whatever reason, the Bitto family decided to join Zuzsana's brother in Pennsylvania. Father, Istvan, his wife and the children -- Susan, Istvan, and Juliana -- traveled to Bremen, Germany, a trip of nearly 1,300 kilometers and boarded the North German Lloyd's ship SS H. H. Meier in Bremen, Germany, on 16 December 1899. They arrived at Ellis Island on 28 December. The original immigrant station had been completely destroyed by fire in 1897 and the new building did not open until late 1900 so I am unsure exactly how the Bitto family was processed. All were allowed to enter the country and Mr. Bitto arrived with $30.00.

They traveled, likely by train, to Swoyersville, Pennsylvania, which is a few miles from Wilkes-Barre and deep in the heart of the anthracite coal mining country. When the 1900 census was enumerated the family of Stephen, as he was now known, Bitto, lived on Owen Avenue. He worked as a day laborer and his son, also now called Stephen, worked as a breaker boy at a nearby coal mine. His wife had a son they named Andrew earlier that year, completing their family.

Daughter Susan, married Ladislaus "Louis" Stephen Bertothy, who was also from Hungary, on 4 July 1905 at the St. Francis Church in Naugatuck, Connecticut. Louis immigrated about the same time as Susan and was born and raised in Gonc, Hungary, about 20 kilometers north of Susan's home town. Perhaps they knew each other before coming to the United States? Otherwise, I have no idea how the met. But much of Louis' early life is still a mystery to me. By 1910, they had two living children and lived in Naugatuck, Connecticut, in a rented home. Her husband was a core maker at an iron foundry. Living with them was Louis' brother, Stephen, his wife and two children and three boarders.

A malleable iron factory in Naugatuck, Connecticut; courtesy of Dillon
Family History

In 1917 Louis Bertothy became a naturalized citizen of the United States. That same year Connecticut conducted a military census. Louis indicated he could not ride a horse, drive an automobile, understand telegraphy, had no experience with a steam engine or electricity, and could not handle a boat or navigate. A year later registered for the World War I draft. He and his family lived at 82 Spring Street in the Union City community of Naugatuck and he continued working as a core maker at Easter Malleable Iron Company. His appearance was described as tall and slender with blue eyes and dark hair.

Between 1911 and 1919, Susan had three more children:
  • Emma Doris Bertothy (1911-20090
  • Madeline T. Bertothy (1918-1998)
  • Ernest Julius Bertothy (1919-1997)
In 1920 the family continued to live at the Spring Street address and Louis worked at the foundry. That year the census enumerator asked about a person's birthplace and their mother tongue. Both Susan and Louis indicated native language was Magyar, which strongly indicated they were native Hungarians and not of another ethnic group which the Hapsburg dynasty occasionally populated Hungary.

In 1930 the Bertothy family had moved to 112 Spring Street, a duplex, which Louis and Susan owned, valued at $3,000. They rented the other unit for $13 a month. Louis continued to work at the foundry.

By 1940 the family moved to 138 Spring Street, which was a single-home valued at $2,000. Louis worked as a trimmer at the iron foundry. Only their youngest son, Ernest, lived at home and Susan's widowed mother lived with them as well.

Louis, or Ladislaus, and Susan Bertothy remained in Naugatuck until their deaths. Louis died in 1972 and Susan in 1984.  They were buried in St. James Cemetery.

[1] At the time of her birth, the village were Susan Bitto was baptized was known as Felsomera and the county was called Abauj-Torna.

[2] Brown coal is also known as lignite. You may read more about coal here.

Friday, December 15, 2017

DNA Discoveries: Hiram Abiff Boaz -- Genealogy

Continued from DNA Discoveries: Hiram Abiff Boaz -- The Meaning of His Name.

Hiram Abiff Boaz, was my fourth cousin three times removed, a Bishop in the Methodist Church and former president of Southern Methodist University. I discovered him when resolving a DNA match who shared John Beard (1705-1780), my six times great grandfather, as the common shared ancestor.

Bishop Boaz wrote Eighty-four Golden Years: Autobiography of Bishop Hiram Abiff Boaz in 1951. I am quoting a small portion of Chapter I. Ancestry, Childhood, and Early Youth, which begins on page 13, about his genealogy.

"Where the family name, Boaz, cam from I confess that I do not know. It is certain that it did not come from the the original Boaz, who married Ruth, for the name of his son was Obed and his grandson was called Jesse. In that ancient day each son was given a new name that had but little, if any, connection with the name of the father. Obed was known as Obed, the son of Boaz. Not until a much later date has the son borne the surname of his father. For many years in the province of Cornwall, England, the name Boaz has been a familiar name. From there it appears to have scattered out into other sections. But from whence did the first people of that name come? The question has interested me for years.

Historical map of Cornwall, England, c. 1783; courtesy of Wikipedia

There are reputable scholars who devoutly believe that the ten lost tribes of Israel migrated to England, Scotland, Ireland and other parts, about six hundred years before the Christian Era, and are now known as Anglo-Saxons. Mr. C. A. L. Totten has written extensively in defense of this theory. Rev. J. H. Allen has written a most interesting book supporting this thesis and brings many interesting facts from the Bible and history to prove his contention. He is quite sure that the throne of England is a lineal successor to the throne of David and supports this idea by quoting many prophecies from the Bible. Queen Victoria believed this to be true, and so do many scholars of today. Many families in England, Scotland and Ireland bear names that were borne by some of the lost tribes of Israel. The most eminent scholars, however, hold that the ten lost tribes were absorbed in Assyria. Which of these theories is true I am not prepared to say.

It is a fact, however, that quite a few people bearing the name Boaz still live in Scotland, Ireland, and especially in Cornwall, England. Our first ancestor of whom we have definite and positive information, Thomas Boaz, was born in Scotland. Since so many bearing our family name still live in Cornwall, England, it may be that Thomas Boaz, or some of his ancestors, migrated to Scotland at an earlier time. The name in those early days was spelled in several different ways such as Boaz, Boaze, Boze, Bows, Bowes, Boase, and Boas, all belonging to the same family of people. The different spelling would have the same pronunciation. English genealogists tell us that the various ways of spelling the name were accounted for by the tax collectors who heard the name pronounced and spelled it for their records as it sounded to them.

About two hundred years before the birth of Thomas Boaz, the noted Presbyterian divine, John Knox, lived and preached in Scotland. Under the influence of John Calvin he quit his orders in the Catholic Church and became a "Presbyterian Dissenter." His faith, zeal and eloquence made many converts. His influence went far and wide. His first wife was Marjorie Bowes, by whom he had two sons. My great great grandfather, Thomas Boaz, was also a "Presbyterian Dissenter" according to our family records. It is possible that he believed himself in some way related to John and Marjorie Bowes Knox, and that he out to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious ancestors.

It is readily admitted that my family does not have the slightest proof (except the name) that we are descended from distinguished ancestors. Our family records go back only a little more than two hundred years and that is not far enough to tie them in with such illustrious people. Yet it is interesting to know that people bearing our name were of some importance in the days long gone by...

...My paternal grandfather was David R. Boaz. He was born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, April 24, 1790, later moved to Murray, Kentucky, and is buried there. He served faithfully in the war of 1812. My paternal great grandfather was Shadrach Boaz, a brother to Meshach and Abednego, and was also born in Virginia during the year 1951. We are told that he was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and rendered valiant service to the cause. In the courthouse at Chatham, Pittsylvania County, Virginia, I found his will dated January 2, 1817, and probated September 30, 1817. He was a wealthy planter.

The first portion of 1797 land grant to Shadrach Boaz in Pittsylvania,
Virginia; courtesy of the Library of Virgiia

My paternal great great grandfather, Thomas Boaz, was born near Aberdeen, Scotland, about 1723. Early in life he joined the "Scotch [sic] Presbyterian Dissenters." On account of religious persecutions by the Church of England he emigrated to Ireland while a young man. There he soon met and married an Irish lassie whose Christian name was Agnes. Her surname has been lost from the records. Four sons were born to them while they resided in Ireland. Meeting persecutions from the Catholic Church on account of religious beliefs, he and his wife and four sons came to America in 1748. After a brief sojourn in Buckingham County, Virginia, they settled in Pittsylvania County, where they lived to the end of their days. some of there descendants still live in Virginia but many of them migrated to Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, Alabama, Arkansas, and on to Texas. The Land Office records in Richmond show that Thomas Boaz patented twenty-eight hundred acres of land in Pittsylvania County, showing great wisdom in this.

The beginning of the land grant of 1,577 from George III to  Thomas
Boaz in Pittsylvania in 1763; coutesy of the Library of Virginia

My maternal grandfather was Nathaniel Hill Ryan, of Irish descent. He was born in Nelson County, Virginia, June 6, 1806. On November 10, 1827, he married Sallie Ann Wills who was born in Nelson County, Virginia, December 28, 1806. She was the daughter of John and Elizabeth (Pettyjohn) Wills. John Wills, my maternal great grandfather, was born in Virginia, 1775, and died in 1871, being more than ninety-six years old at the time of his death. My maternal great great grandfather was James Wills who fought in the French and Indian War before the days of the Revolutionary War. I have in my possession now a photostatic copy of the land grant allowed him for his service in that war and it was signed by Edmund Randolph, Governor of Virginia. I have also a copy of his will signed on September 29, 1820. It was through him I was elected to the membership in The Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Virginia.

My mother frequently told us that we had English, Irish and Scotch [sic] blood flowing in our veins. The sturdiness of the English, the thrift of the Scotch [sic] and the humor and generosity of the Irish ought to make a good citizen, provided they are mixed in proper proportions.

Boaz, Hiram Abiff. Eighty-four Golden Years: Autobiography of Bishop Hiram Abiff Boaz, (Nashville, TN: Parthenon Press, 1951), page 13-15,18-19.

Shadrach Boaz married Isabelle Rutherford, daughter of William Rutherford and his wife, a daughter of John Beard (1705-1780), my six times great grandfather. The given name of Isabelle's mother was Agnes or Hannah. Isabelle Rutherford and her father, William, are mentioned in John Beard's will.

DNA Discoveries: Hiram Abiff Boaz's -- The Meaning of His Nam
DNA Discoveries: Hiram Abiff Boaz's Parents -- A Description

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

DNA Discoveries: Hiram Abiff Boaz -- The Meaning of His Name

Continued from DNA Discoveries: Hiram Abiff Boaz's Parents -- A Description.

Hiram Abiff Boaz, was my fourth cousin three times removed, a Bishop in the Methodist Church and former president of Southern Methodist University. I discovered him when resolving a DNA match who shared John Beard (1705-1780), my six times great grandfather, as the common shared ancestor.

Bishop Boaz wrote Eighty-four Golden Years: Autobiography of Bishop Hiram Abiff Boaz in 1951. I am quoting a small portion of Chapter I. Ancestry, Childhood, and Early Youth, which begins on page 13, about Biblical references to his name.

"The family name, BOAZ, which I bear, perhaps with pardonable pride, is an ancient and honorable name. It is found for the first time in the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament. In the second chapter of that ancient and beautiful love story we find these words: 'And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was BOAZ.' It appears that he lived in the town of Bethlehem, where at a later date the Christ was born, and owned a farm out in the country near by. It was in this field of Boaz that Ruth gleaned in the long ago story and won the admiration and love of the rich owner. She was soon married to Boaz as the nearest kinsman to her mother-in-law, Naomi. She bore a son to Boaz and called his name Obed. Obed became the father of Jesse and Jesse became the father of David and David became the father of Solomon, who built the Temple in the city of Jerusalem.

When Solomon built the Temple the record in Holy Writ declares, 'And he reared up pillars before the Temple, one on the right hand, and one on the left; and he called the name of that on the right hand Jachin and the name of that on the left Boz.' The pillar called Jachin was to represent strength. The one named Boaz stood for stability. From that day down to the present time Masons have held in high regard the names Jachin and Boaz because they represent two excellent attributes of character, strength and stability.

My given name, Hiram Abiff, has also interesting connotations for the Masonic fraternity. In the building of Solomon's Temple, Hiram Abiff drew the plans for the Temple. He was a skilled workman and holds high respect among all Masons. When I was born my father was an active Mason. His experience as a Master Mason, no doubt, had something to do with the name he gave me. The given name and the surname being scriptural and in frequent use among Masons has caused no little interest among Masons and brought me many favors undeserved."

Bishop Hiram Abiff Boaz with his autobiography in 1962 at the age of 96
not long  before his death later that year; courtesy of Dallas Freemasonry


Boaz, Hiram Abiff. Eighty-four Golden Years: Autobiography of Bishop Hiram Abiff Boaz, (Nashville, TN: Parthenon Press, 1951), page 13.

DNA Discoveries: Hiram Abiff Boaz's Parents -- A Description

Friday, December 8, 2017

DNA Discoveries: Hiram Abiff Boaz's Parents -- A Description

I discovered the interesting life of Hiram Abiff Boaz, my 4th cousin three times removed and great great grandfather of one of my brother's DNA matches. Solving the common shared ancestor enabled me to "meet" Bishop Boaz.

Wikipedia profile: Hiram Abiff Boaz
Texas State Historical Association biography: Hiram Abiff Boaz

Hiram Abiff Boaz was licensed to preach in 1889 by the quarterly conference of the First Church (Methodist); taught at several universities, was president of Southern Methodist University, elected Bishop in the Methodist Church, served in the Far East several times before retiring. Much has been written about Bishop Boaz so I will not repeat that information in detail.

However, I learned Bishop Boaz wrote an autobiography entitled, "Eight-four Golden Years: Autobiograph of Bishop Hiram Abiff Boaz." I found the book at a used book store through and wanted to share with his descendants that he was a genealogist and knew quite a bit about his family history.

A word of caution, you will likely find the description of his parents difficult to read because of its attitude towards slavery and the ownership of human beings, as well as the assumption that a well-cared-for slave is a happy slave. I chose to include the information because Bishop Boaz was no racist bigot from everything I have read. He was a worldly, well- educated and traveled man. The view he espoused in 1951 when his autobiography was written was not atypical for a Southern gentleman of the era. So for all the prejudices our fellow African-Americans still experience, we have come a long, long way from the beliefs of 1951. I found that to be a positive message the more I reflected upon its meaning. 

From Chapter I: Ancestry, Childhood and Early Youth:

"I was born in Murray, Kentucky, on December 18, 1866, soon after the close of the War Between the States. I was the sixth in a family of eight children. I was well born. My father and mother were sound in mind and body. There were in the prime of life when I made my appearance. Neither had any physical handicap or mental peculiarity. Both were physically strong, mentally alert and morally sound. For this rich inheritance I thank God and my parents.

Home of Peter Maddox Boaz in Calloway County, Kentucky; from
Eighty-four Golden Years: Autobiography of Bishop Hiram Abiff Boaz

Peter Maddox Boaz was my father. He was born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, January 19, 1819, and there grew to manhood. He moved from Virginia to Concord County, Kentucky, about 1849, and remained there until 1852, when he moved again, this time to Calloway County, where he remained until 1873. He was six feet in height and weighed one hundred eighty pounds. He was strong and robust. He had a clear gray eye with a bluish tinge. Being a man with unusual mental and physical qualities he became very successful in business. He was the owner of a large plantation near Murray, Kentucky. He was also a grower and manufacturer of tobacco and the owner of quite a few slaves. These slaves worked around the home, on the farm and in the tobacco factory. Their homes were not far from the "Big House" and were well suited for their comfort. They enjoyed every consideration at the hands of my father who was always kind to them and their children. They held him in high esteem and were devoted to him and his family. When given their freedom by proclamation of President Lincoln they hesitated long before accepting their liberty. Some of them remained with him as hired servants for some time. One of them, 'Cupe' by name, came with him to Texas and remained with him to the day of his death, as a hired servant, of course.[1] Thus my father demonstrated the kindness of his great heart.

Peter Maddox Boaz; from Eighty-four Golden Years:
Autobiography of Bishop Hirman Abiff Boaz

Being a good citizen and fearless in the discharge of his duty, he was elected sheriff of his county and served in that capacity for several years. When the War Between the States broke out, he was one of the most successful businessmen of his county and one of its most useful citizens. He lived in a beautiful colonial home, surrounded by large and stately trees on the outskirts of Murray. He and his family and his slaves were happy and prosperous, living in peace and plenty.

When the war closed his slaves were freed, his business disorganized and his fortune swept away. Being prosperous and kindhearted he had signed security notes for his friends in financial distress and had many of those notes to pay when the war was over. The federal army confiscated his livestock used on the farm and took his tobacco from the barns. The war left father without slaves, without business and broken in spirit. That is what war does for millions.

In the early spring of 1873 he sold his home and all that was left by the war and in March moved to Tarrant County, Texas, settling near Birdville, about seven miles east from what is now the city of Fort Worth. From the severe shock of the war, he never recovered his fortune or his spirit. He was a broken and bruised reed to the end of his life.

My mother, Louisa Ann Ryan, was born March 5, 1836, at Lynchburg, Virginia. Her parents were Virginians and belonged to the well-to-do class of planters of that State. She was a first cousin to Thomas Fortune Ryan, the New York multimillionaire. She inherited many fine qualities from those Virginia parents. Her great-grandfather, James Wills, fought in the French and Indian Wars. She was five feet and five inches in height and did not weigh more than one hundred twenty pounds. Her eyes were blue, her voice soft and sweet. She was endowed with remarkable energy and her powers of endurance were almost beyond limit. In the days of her prosperity she had slaves to look after the children, slaves to do all the work around her lovely home. I am told that these faithful slaves adored their "Mistress." To me this is no wonder for all her children adored her. She was the idol of our hearts.

Louisa Ann (Ryan) Boaz; from Eighty-four Golden Years;
Autobiography of Bishop Hiram Abiff Boaz

She presided over her home with grace and poise. She never lost her patience. She seemed never to tire in her labors of love and mercy. In the days of her prosperity she was modest and unassuming. In the days of adversity she toiled with untiring energy to keep her household in order and to look after all the interests of the entire family. After cooking and cleaning house all day she worked many times until midnight to keep her children in suitable clothes. She never complained of hardships in those days of poverty, but was always cheerful and optimistic. Perhaps this was because of her sublime faith in God and His never failing mercies. She was devoutly religious. As a child I believed in God because my mother believed in Him and I believed in my mother. This faith in God was held in my youth because of my faith in my mother. When I went away to college I had to find an independent faith of my own, an individual experience of God, but faith in my mother was an anchor that never failed and held me true to God.

To me my mother was a beautiful woman. It was not the beauty of rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes but the beauty of a saintly life. The beauty of serenity and peace was hers. Her lovely spirit, her motherly devotion to her children, her supreme confidence in the goodness of God made her beautiful to all her children. By example and precept she tried to lead all her children into the higher and nobler life. She instilled the principles of absolute honesty at all times. She taught us to tell the truth on all occasions regardless of the result to us, to deal fairly with all men at all times in spite of what others might do to us. Many tines have I heard her say, 'Have a place for everything and everything in its place.' 'Two wrongs never make a right.' 'Do right and you will win in the end.' She taught us to honor God in all things and to keep His commandments, and she set the example in her own life. I never saw her do anything that I thought was wrong. Her sublime faith in God and her beautiful Christian life have wonderfully influenced my entire career. To her I owe more than I can ever repay.

She maintained her home in Benbrook to the end of her life, although she spent much of her time in our home during her later days. She often said that she kept that home of her own so that if she tired of living in the homes of her children she would have a home of her own to which she could retire in peace and quiet. In this she was wise as in so many other ways.

In her eighty-second year while residing in my home, she fell and broke her hip and became bedfast. She suffered no pain but gradually failed in strength. Frequently when asked how she felt she would reply that she was in no pain but 'very tired.' On the night of November 27, 1917, she quietly took her departure for the world beyond the skies. There was no pain, no struggle, and her immortal spirit took its flight to the God who gave it. She had lived a marvelous life and died a triumphant death to enter on that life beyond the grave that is richer, fuller and infinitely more glorious than this life. Today the memory of her voice is like the memory of sweet toned bells, the memory of her beautiful sprit is like the memory of fragrant flowers. She is singing around the Throne of God today. Some day I shall join her and what a meeting that will be!"

[1] "Cupe, the former slave and servant to Peter Maddox Boaz has been released on the Slave Name Roll Project.

Boaz, Hiram Abiff. Eighty-four Golden Years: Autobiography of Bishop Hiram Abiff Boaz, (Nashville, TN: Parthenon Press, 1951), page 15-18.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Deadlier than War

Little Birdie Dawson died on 26 October 1918 at the age of 14 years, 2 months and 17 days of epidemic influenza, which claimed the lives of between 30 and 100 million people worldwide between 1918 and 1919. She was really just a blip in the statistics and died after being treated by a physician at home for two days. She was also my second cousin once removed.

Before the pandemic came to Virginia, people were focused on the war across the Atlantic. Young men and women were leaving to serve as soldiers and nurses and citizens at home made sacrifices for the war effort and bought Liberty bonds.

And then influenza came to Virginia. There were two main outbreaks in 1918 -- the fall outbreak between September and October and the second outbreak, in December. It attacked the most productive members of society, those between 20 and 40 years of age, tested all levels of government and a the medical community weakened by the war effort.

Women wearing masks to protect them from influenza; courtesy of Helena
as She Was, an open history resource

The first outbreak began in Virginia in Army camps set up to train recruits to fight in Europe. One 13 September a newly arrived soldier had an "acute respiratory infection." Three days later there were over 500 influenza cases at the camp. In total, 48,000 soldiers died in Camp Lee, about 130 east of Bedford County where Birdie lived. It didn't take long before the flu spread to the civilian population and Birdie was dead little more than a month after that first case at Camp Lee. She was one of 84 people who died in Bedford of Spanish influenza that year.

Birdie Loren Dawson was born on 8 August 1904 in Bedford County to Whiston Robert Dawson and Ada Deliah Burks. She was their eldest child. Her father was the grandson of my two times great grandfather Powhatan Perrow Jennings.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Another Honor Roll Project Success!

I can't let the month in which we celebrate Veterans day to pass without mentioning another Honor Roll Project success. The objective of the project is to photograph veteran honor rolls memorials and transcribe the names so they would be indexed by Internet search engines and available to family historians and genealogists when searching for their military ancestors.

In September of 2015 I accompanied my husband to Albany, New York, where he works. While he slaved away at the office, I explored the cities, towns, and villages in the Berkshire mountains of western Massachusetts, photographing war memorials and other interesting things. In Pittsfield, Memorial Park is downtown and includes an honor roll memorial for the men from the city who served in the Civil War. I contributed the photographs and names in a blog post in honor of Memorial Day 2016. Another member of our Genealogy Bloggers Facebook group discovered her four times great grandfather's name among those listed in my post!

Facebook conversation about the Honor Roll contributions for Memorial
Day 2016; screenshot courtesy of Facebook

I was so excited as this was my second success.

The Honor Roll Project was created by Heather Wilkinson Rojo, author of Nutfield Genealogy. My contributions may be found here.

Monday, November 27, 2017

5th Infantry Division World War II Combat Narrative

Peter Charles Dagutis was born on 10 March 1918. He was my husband's father and we lost him in 1991. He lived in Detroit as a young man and was engaged to be married. Then, his life was interrupted by the military draft enacted under the Selective Service and Training Act of 1940. He was drafted on 7 April 1941 and did not return home from Europe until 18 June 1945. He served as part of the 5th Infantry Division, more specifically with Company H, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Regiment, 5th Division, Third Army.[1]

This combat narrative was written by Army historians after the World War II and is part of the official history of the U.S. Army.


The division arrived at Utah Beach France 11 July 1944 and assumed defensive positions from 1st Infantry Division near Caumont 13 July 1944. On 26 July 1944 it attacked to take Vidouville and made a limited advance to Torigny-sur-Vire-Caumont Road, after which it was reassembled 1 August 1944. On 8 August 1944 the division opened its offensive toward Nantes, taking Angers 10 August 1944, and with the assistance of 7th Armored Division, captured Chartes 18 August 1944. Speeding easter the division crossed the Seine at Montereau 24 August 1944 and took Rheims 30 August 1944 and established a bridgehead across the Meuse at Verdun at month's end. The division began the battle for Metz 7 September 1944 as the 2nd Infantry was stopped in the Amanviller-Verneville area and the 11th Infantry pushed up the Meuse heights near Dornot. The 2nd Infantry continued to batter the city's outer fortifications, and on 8 September 1944 the division gained a precarious bridgehead over the Moselle which immediately came under heavy shell fire and continuous counter attack. The 2nd Infantry made repeated frontal assaults as engineers bridge the river for tanks on 12 September 1944. But the Arnaville bridgehead effort was hampered by German shelling or the deep mud and ammunition shortages. The 10th Infantry and 11th Infantry regrouped inside the perimeter and defended it against a strong German attack 17 September 1944.

Soldiers of the 5th and 95th infantry divisions in Metz; photograph courtesy
of the Center for Military History

The division attacked Fort Driant commencing 27 September 1944, which guarded the northern approaches to Metz. The 11th Infantry forced its way into the bastion's outer edges 3 October 1944, but the Germans counterattacked from the tunnels after dar. The division committed itself entirely into this battle in very costly combat, but by 12 October 1944, attempts to seize the fort were given up, and the division withdrew to rest. On 12 November 1944 the division returned to the assault and was counterattacked at once as it entered the bridgehead of 6th Armored Division. Over the next few days the 2nd Infantry took Ancerville; the 10 Infantry reduced Fort Aisne, BOies de l'Hospital, Marly, and Fort Queuleu; and the the 11th Infantry pushed into Metz itself, the division encircling the town completed the following day. Rear-guard opposition inside Metz had been mopped up by 22 November 1944, but the division kept infantry to contain the forts there while it relieved the 95th Infantry division and attacked cross the Nied 25 November 1944. The Ste. Quentin fortifications surrendered to the division on 6 December 1944 as it was pulled back to assembly areas.

Belgium and Luxembourg

On 16 December 1944, the German Ardennes counteroffensive began, and the division relieved the 95th Infantry Division at Saarlautern bridgehead, attacking out of it 18 December 1944. After slow progress, Waldbilling and Haller fell 25 December 1944. Throughout January the division continued to reduce the southern flank of the German drive in conjunction with 4th Infantry Division. On 4 February 1945 it was relieved in line by 6th Cavalry Group and took up new positions.

5th Infantry Division medics during the Battle of the Bulge; photograph
courtesy of the Center of Military History


It attacked across the Sauer River near Echternach 7 February 1945 despite strong currents and German shelling which prevented bridging. It expanded this bridgehead to the West Wall LIne by 10 February 1945 and by 19 February 1945 cleared up to the west bank of the Pruem RIver. After regrouping, the 2nd Infantry and 10th Infantry crossed the Pruem near Peffingen during the night of 24-25 February 1945. The 11th Infantry cut the Bitburg-Trier Highway on 27 February 1945 and cleared to the west bank of the Kyll by the following day. The division opened its attack to establish the Kyll bridgehead between Erdorf and Philippsheim on 2 March 1945. Progress was rapid as the division leapfrogged elements past numerous towns and reached the Moselle 10 March 1945. The 2nd Infantry and 11 Infantry crossed the rivier 14 March 1945 after divisional regroupment and seize Treis, Lutz and Eveshausen.

5th Infantry Division crossing the Sauer River; photograph courtesy of Center
for Military History

Working closely with the 4th Armored Division, the division reached the Rhine with the 11 Infantry at Oppenheim and Nierstein on 21 March 1945. The next day the regiment crossed the river with little difficulty. On 26 March 1945 the 10th Infantry captured the Rhine-Main airport as the division reached Frankfurt-am-Main. On 4 April 1945 it completed clearing the city and secured it until 9 April 1945 when it closed into the Olsenburg area. The 10 Infantry attacked to take Arnsberg while the 2nd Infantry reached the Ruhr River 12 April 1945. The 11th Infantry rejoined the division from Frankfurt on 14 April 1945, and the division then occupied Westphalian regions south of the Ruhr until relieved by the 75th Infantry Division on 24 April 1945.

Czechoslovakia and Austria

On 1 May 1945 the division advanced across the Czechoslovaian border and into Austria behind armored units. On 5 May 1945 the division attacked across the Tepla River and followed the 4th Armored Division through the Regen and Freyung passes as the hostilities brought its offensive to a halt.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Why John and Mary (Boyd) Mitchell Are Not the Parents of Robert Mitchell (1714-1799)

After researching the ancestors of my great grandmother, Effie (Beard) Jennings (1871-1906), I learned she was the daughter of David Fleming Beard, Sr., and his second wife, Barbara Ann Mitchell. Barbara Ann was great granddaughter of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell (1714-1799).[1] Robert Mitchell was born in Londonderry and immigrated with his parents and siblings to Pennsylvania. They settled in Pequea, Pennsylvania, where many Presbyterians of Scottish descent settled prior to the Revolutionary War. We known Robert "the Elder" Mitchell migrated to Bedford County, Virginia, where he wrote his will and died in 1799.

Many, many family trees indicate Robert is the son of John Mitchell and Mary Boyd. I do not believe these are the correct parents for Robert "the Elder" Mitchell. Instead I believe his parents were Robert Mitchell and Mary Innes said to be of Edinburgh, Scotland, for the following reasons:

John Mitchell's Will
John Mitchell was born on 1 July 1682 in Londonderry and he wrote his will on 14 February 1771 in Augusta County, Virginia. (Chronicles of Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia: Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County, 1745-1800 by Lyman Chalkely). This will has been cited as evidence that Robert (1714-1799) and James Mitchell (between 1710-1720-before 1776) are John's sons.

In his will, he named Elizabeth, his wife (not Mary Boyd) and the following children: Thomas, Robert, John, James, Elenor (Mitchell) Wilson, Mary (Mitchell) Right, and Elizabeth. Son James was born about 1742 in Augusta County and could not be the James Mitchell who married Margaret Caldwell circa 1751. All of John Mitchell's other known children who were alive at the time of his death were mentioned in his will.

Several sons with given names whose descendants are DNA matches were not mentioned in the will.

Robert Mitchell's Will
Robert "the Elder" Mitchell wrote his will on 23 April 1781; it was proved on 25 February 1799 in Bedford County, Virginia. The will includes the following bequests:

"To my beloved wife Mary I give the Plantation I now live on during her life or widowhood, at the end of either I give it to my son Samuel. Also to my wife Mary I give all my movable Estate to be disposed of at her discretion...

To my son Daniel I give one hundred acres of Land where he now lives.

To Robert and Stephen I Give the remainder of the Upper Tract I bought off Hilton.

To Josiah Campbell the lower half of the same tract."

Rev. William Henry Foote wrote of Rev. James Mitchell, son of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell, in his book, Historical and Biographical Sketches of Virginia, based on information he received from a Mitchell descendant, Rev. Jacob D. Mitchell in 1854:

"...He father Robert Mitchel, was born in the north of Ireland but emigrated to America while still a youth...His wife, whose maiden name was Mary Enos, was, it seems of Welsh extraction...This excellent pair resided in Bedford County for many years...They had 13 children, of whom not one died less than 70 years."

Only five children are named in his will, and I have 15 possible children in my tree. I have been using DNA to confirm which of those 15 children belong to Robert Mitchell and Mary Enos. Using DNA and documentary evidence I have been able to prove these children: Susannah Mitchell, who married Josiah Campbell; Rev. James Mitchell; Stephen Mitchell; Robert Harvey Mitchell; Mary Mitchell, who married Samuel Beard; Margaret Mitchell, who married Adam Beard; Martha Ann Mitchell, who married Samuel Claytor; and Daniel Mitchell.

Mary Innes/Mary Enos Problem
Several trees have compressed two generations of Robert Mitchells into one generation. I believe the problem was caused by the similarities of their wives' maiden names.

Robert "the Immigrant" Mitchell, married to Mary Innes, immigrated to Pennsylvania when with his wife and young children in about 1735. One of his sons, also named Robert, who I call "the Elder," married to Mary Enos in Delaware.

Other children of Robert "the Immigrant" may be Daniel (about 1718-1775), married to Mary Caldwell, and James (before 1720-before 1776), married to Margaret Amey Caldwell.

Daniel Mitchell's Will
Daniel Mitchell was born about 1718 in Londonderry and wrote his will on 13 June 1775 in Bedford County. An estate inventory and appraisal was filed with the court on 18 October 1775 so I am assuming he died between June and October 1775. In his will he named his brother Robert (including the relationship between them) as an executor. (Abstracts of Bedford County, Virginia, Wills, Inventories, and Accounts, 1754-1787 by Joida Whitten)

Daniel made his brother his executor yet Daniel was not mentioned inJohn Mitchell's will which was written when he was still alive.

Documentary evidence of residence in Pennsylvania and Bedford County exists for Robert "the Elder" Mitchell. However, no documents proving residence in Augusta County have been discovered, which would be likely if Robert Mitchell was the son of James Mitchell and wife, Elizabeth. It is possible a Robert Mitchell lived in Augusta County but he has not been proved to be Robert "the Elder" Mitchell.

Books about the Mitchell Family
Shipley, Mitchell, and Thompson Families compiled by Stith Thompson and published in 1964 includes a family tree that indicated Daniel and Robert were brothers and their father was named Robert:

Mitchell family tree; image courtesy of

Mr. Thompson's book includes the following:

"Up to the present time we have few reliable records of this line of Mitchells before 1747. It is clear that at that time there were two brothers in Bedford County, Virginia, Daniel Mitchell and Robert Mitchell. What we know of the father of these brothers comes from letters embodying the traditions of the family of Rev. James Mitchell (son of Robert) who was born in 1747. These traditions assert that the father of Daniel and Robert was Robert Mitchell of Londonderry, Ireland. He is spoken of as "the Immigrant."

Mrs. W. H. Walthall of Roanoke, Virginia, wrote on 4 February 1895: Robert Mitchell was born in Londonderry, Ireland, in the latter part of the 17th century. His father's family suffered greatly in that noted siege of Londonderry (1689), of which he loved to talk. When a young man in the first part of the 18th century, he married Miss. Mary Innis of Edinburgh, Scotland, and moved to America and settled at Pequa, Pennsylvania.[2] They had thirteen children. While the children were young he moved to Virginia and settled in Bedford County. He raised them all and as soon as they became grown they scattered all over the Union, all married and raised large families. Rev. James Mitchell, my grandfather was his youngest child. He was born 29 January 1747."[3]

From a letter from Mrs. George P. Parker of Bedford, Virginia to Stith Thompson dated 24 September 1934 we have the following: "Robert and Daniel Mitchell were sons of Robert, Sr., the Immigrant. Daniel and Robert Mitchell, Scotch Irish immigrants landed at Philadelphia about 1735, went to Pequa and to Bedford County, Virginia, about 1754-56." (This information is from family notes belonging to Dr. John Mitchell of Bedford County.)

Pequea, Pennsylvania. The river is the Susquehanna; courtesy of RootsWeb

Mr. Thompson believed the Mitchell brothers traveled to Lunenburg/Bedford County in a large party led by the Caldwell family.

My paternal uncle, siblings, cousins and I who descend from Effie (Beard) Jennings have 28 DNA matches that have a Mitchell as the common shared ancestor. For 26 of those matches Robert "the Immigrant" Mitchell was the common shared ancestor. This is not surprising as we descend from his son, Rev. James Mitchell (1747-1841). However, for two of those matches, the common shared ancestor was Robert "the Immigrant" Mitchell (before 1689-unknown). One descended through the son James Mitchell (between 1710-1720-before 1776) and the other descended through Daniel Mitchell (born about 1718-died 1775).

Based on family tradition, histories written just decades after the relevant people died, documentary evidence and DNA seem to support my conclusion that Robert "the Immigrant" Mitchell was the father of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell and at least two other sons -- Daniel and James. What is still unknown was which of the two Robert Mitchells had 13 children as one sources says the Immigrant and the other says the Elder. Perhaps one day we'll be able to solve that mystery.

[1] Effie (Beard) Jennings >> Barbara Ann (Mitchell) Beard >> Daniel Mitchell >> Rev. James Mitchell >> Robert "the Elder" Mitchell >> Robert "the Immigrant" Mitchell

[2] Bedford County was formed from Lunenburg County on 15 December 1753. Thereafter, the Robert Mitchell lived in Bedford County.

[3] Pequea (pronounced peck-way) was spelled Pequa in the Colonial Era.

[4] According to several documents I have found, Rev. James Mitchell was not the youngest son of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell and Mary Enos.

More information disputing the relationship between John Mitchell and Mary Boyd as the parents of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell may be found here: Mitchell Family History

Revisiting Daniel Mitchell, Patriot
Robert Mitchell, the Elder