Monday, May 30, 2016

Hawksley - another ongoing mystery

Brick walls seem to be my major focus this year and one I've been hammering at for about 20 years now is John Goodwin Hawksley. A visit to NEHGS in 2008 helped me find an unexpected letter in their manuscript collection, which gave me at least one of John's parents. It put together the following family tree:

Mr. Hawksley ("an Englishman") and Mary Goodwin (daughter of "a Goodwin and a Workman"; her father was a loyalist from New Jersey who fled to Saint John, New Brunswick) had:

1. John Goodwin Hawksley, born 8 February 1810, Fredericton, York, New Brunswick, Canada. Married Lucy Thomas Lilley on 29 March 1842 in Hodgdon, Aroostook County, Maine, and had 13 children. Died 21 September 1893 in Mars Hill, Aroostook County, Maine.

2. Mary Hawksley, born about 1812. Married Robert Chambers Nichols on 14 February 1833 in Fredericton, York, New Brunswick, Canada, and had at least 1 child. No records found after the death of her son in 1837.

3. Sarah Brown Hawksley, born about 1814. Married John Wellington Adams on 23 December 1831 in Fredericton, York, New Brunswick, Canada, and had 5 children. Died sometime in December of 1840 or in 1841.

4. Margaret Elizabeth Hawksley, born 23 May 1816 in Fredericton, York, New Brunswick, Canada. Married Isaac Benjamin Adams on 3 October 1833 in Prince William, York, New Brunswick, Canada and had 9 children. Died 11 September 1889 in Forest City, York, New Brunswick, Canada.

Mary (Goodwin) Hawksley married William Madigan on 14 October 1824 in Fredericton, which means Mr. Hawksley either died or went missing between 1816 and 1824. Mary (Goodwin) (Hawksley) Madigan died May of 1868 in Hodgdon, Aroostook County, Maine. 

I wrote to the Town of Hodgdon in hopes of obtaining a death record for Mary, however they did not have one. In their reply, they told me many of their records for that time are missing, so Mary Goodwin's loyalist father and Workman mother remain a mystery.

The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick have many digitized records, including vital statistics from 1800 onward. However, I have found nothing on the births of the 4 Hawksley children.

There seems to be plenty of information about the Hawksley and Adams families after their moves to Maine, as well as other Goodwin loyalists, but not the ones I seek. I hope someday to find the answer...

Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Samuel Blackden, from England to Boston

Samuel Blackden is an ancestor seemed to have led an interesting life. Born circa 1690, probably in England, and possibly married to a woman named Ann, Samuel possibly had at least 8 children:

1. Mary Blackden;

2. Unnamed Blackden;

3. Lydia Blackden, born about 1736 in England and married Joseph Fairbanks, 21 Aug 1756 in Halifax, Nova Scotia;

4.  Ann Blackden, born 21 Mar 1741/42 in England and married Dr. Jonathan Prescott, 11 Oct 1759 in Halifax, Nova Scotia;

5. William Blackden, born about 1746 in England and married Sarah Oaks, about 1771;

6. Joseph Blackden, born about 1750 and died 9 Apr 1750 in Halifax, Nova Scotia;

7. Elizabeth Blackden, born about 1751 and died 5 June 1831 in Halifax, Nova Scotia;

8. Samuel Blackden;

As you can see, we have many children without dates and places of birth, and very few primary sources have been discovered about this family.

Samuel Blackden: England to Boston

"A List of the Families of English, Swiss, &c, Which Have Been Settled in Nova Scotia since the Year 1749, and Who Now (1752) Are Settlers in the Places Hereafter Mentioned (Halifax, et al.)" places him in Nova Scotia as of 1749. He is found in the 1752 census of Halifax. Samuel Blackden was a brewer and tavern-keeper by trade, a profession that got him into some trouble.

In the "General Index to the Annual Register" for 1758-1780 (edited by Edmund Burke, printed in London, England) is this entry:

Blackden, mr Samuel, of Halifax, Nova Scotia; remarkable verdict he obtained against captain Gambier, iv. (106, 107)

The text of the case and decision is found in "The Annual Register or a View of the History of Politics and Literature for the Year 1761" (7th edition printed in London, 1800, and available from Google books). The case is basically this:

Samuel Blackden filed suit against Captain Gambier of the ship the Burford. As the case states, "The action was brought for damages the plaintiff sustained in Nova Scotia by the defendant's taking him by violence from his freehold there, burning his house and detaining the plaintiff unjustly on board the Burford 125 days: when after a hearing of 3 hours, a special jury of merchants gave the plaintiff (number?) damages and costs of suit."

There is more specific information in "The Repository or Treasury of Politics & Literature for MDCCLXX" (June 1770), volume 2, pages 373-374, also available via Google books. It specifies that Captain Gambier took Samuel Blackden captive in 1755 and confined him for 125 days. Samuel became ill with a fever over that time and nearly died. Meanwhile, the captain's sailors also burned down Samuel's home, leaving his wife and young children with nothing.

The whole reason for this capture is that Samuel was accused of providing rum to the British sailors. Samuel was apparently innocent of this, and the captain sailed him to England and ditched him at Plymouth. Samuel somehow got to London and sought recourse until he got a decision in his favor.

Captain Gambier was punished to the tune of 800 pounds, payable to Samuel Blackden. Whether he paid it or not, I don't know. But Samuel ultimately returned to his family, because he later became a resident of Boston, Massachusetts by September of 1756, when he granted a deed for a lot at Halifax.

Samuel died 18 June 1768 in Boston. It appears his wife, Ann Blackden, died September 1788 in Halifax and is buried at St. Paul's there.

Samuel's story is over 260 years old and the facts are as tattered as his and his family's life probably was when he was taken prisoner in 1755. Maybe that's one of the reasons I'm so interested in putting it all together.

Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Low Tech & Modern Tech for Genealogy

Recently, Kassie Nelson and I got together for brunch, to discuss the future of The Rogue Genealogist and our current research projects.

She also offered me some books she no longer had use for and how could I refuse?

While so much is online these days, there remain many books - particularly those that remain under coypright and have not been transitioned into ebook format - that are useful to us. Can a genealogy tip or suggestion ever be outdated? I'm sure it's very possible.

However, I think it's more likely that there are things we might not consider or, a more likely possibility, things the next generation of genealogists might not think about.

Low Tech & Modern Tech for GenealogyOne of the books given to me is a 1993 publication about how to find your Italian ancestors. I'm only 24 pages into the book and found tips I hadn't even considered. Most of the time, I think about vital records and census records as a starting point. Then I move on to compiled genealogies and newspapers, and then Google searches in hopes of hitting a blog or website or an older book that mention an ancestor.

Additionally, I look at probate and land records, and sometimes voter registrations. I still love Family History Library microfilms and splurging on a military pension file from the National Archives is exciting to me.

Are our younger genealogists digging deeply? Are Gen Xers, like me, and Baby Boomers digging deeply enough? Is the ease of digital genealogy and high tech keeping us from looking at things we might no longer see as valuable, because they aren't in front of our face as often, like "Who's Who" guides?

I think, for me, an intersection of modern-tech and low-tech is a good way to cover most of my bases. The amount of resources going digital is fantastic and the ways we access information is changing everyday. But it's also worthwhile to take a step back in time, process-wise, and look at other avenues. You might not find an ancestor in the records online, because they don't cover a particular year, surname or area yet, so it may behoove you instead to write a letter overseas or check out a print resource at the library. Manuscript collections, such as those at NEHGS, that are not scanned or transcribed are rich with information that you might just be missing if your focus is solely on digital research.

Not sure which bases to cover in your research? Family Tree Magazine offers several research forms for download, including an Online Database Search Tracker and Repository Checklist. Checklists and logs like these might direct you to types of records you'd never considered.

And when you see a genealogy research guide on sale or offered for free, it could very well be worth picking up. That 1993 book might provide insights that are still valuable today.

Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan