Sunday, October 27, 2019

Edward Ebert Kelly died this day in 1987

Dear Ed,
I hardly knew you... of course I was curious about you... you are, after all, my husband's father. I had wanted to meet you before we were married. That didn't happen. After we returned from our honeymoon, we drove up to the Poconos so I could meet you and your wife. My Ed was not enthusiastic about the trip, but I think he agreed because he knew how important it was to me. It was difficult for my Ed, he was still smarting from your departure from his life.

Over the years, through researching your family, I've learned more about the circumstances of your life. It doesn't excuse how you treated your children but it does help us understand.

Born 3 April 1926 in Philadelphia to William Joseph and Alice Mae (Hanna) Kelly, you were the 5th child and second son. According to family lore, you were supposed to be named for your maternal grandfather Edward Everett Hanna. When your birth was registered, there was some confusion so you ended up Edward Ebert instead of Edward Everett.

William J. Kelly Family 1930 census with Edward E. Kelly underlined in red

In the 1930 Federal Census your family was living at 5326 Westminster Avenue in Philadelphia. Your father was working as a Weaver in a Cotton Mill and your older siblings were in school. Things seemed to be going well for the family even though it was the beginning of the Depression. Your sisters, Marie and Dot, used to tell us of how difficult things got for the family during the Depression. They spoke of having to move suddenly, when the family was evicted for non-payment of rent because everyone had lost their job. They explained that if no one had coins to but in the electricity meter in the house, there would be no light, no heat also if no one had the funds to purchase coal.

Things became desperate for the family when your Dad, was killed 17 Sep 1939. We have yet to find the record of the inquest so we do not know if he was killed in a fight or when he was pushed into the street and was run over by a car. There was no life insurance, nor death gratuity. The income he was bringing in ceased.

William J Kelly Death Certificate
The family was living in a typical Philadelphia brick row house at 663 N. Conestoga Street according to your mother who was the informant for your father's death certificate above. The photo, from Google, is the house as it looked in October 2018. By today's standards the house seems small for a family of 8, your younger brother John having been born late in 1930.

The row houses in this area were typically, two rooms down stair, living room or parlor, then behind the dining room and the kitchen was a lean-to attached at the back. There were two bedrooms upstairs.

By 1940, your older sisters were all working to support the family. Marie, Dot and Alice were all working as Cotton Winders in a Rubber Factory. Your older brother William had left school and was looking for work. Only you and your younger brother were in school. Aunt Marie told us that you left school at the end of the term, having finished 8th grade, and started looking for work.

The family managed to stay in the house at 663 Conestoga.

1940 Census for Kelly family recorded April 3, 1940.
We don't know how long it took for you to find work with the Philadelphia Inquirer Newspaper Company or if it was your first job. We do know you were working there when you registered for the draft on your birthday April 3, 1944. You described yourself as being 6ft tall and weighing 155 pounds with Gray eyes and brown hair and a "flesh pimple on the left hand." I wonder if any of your children remember the mark on your left hand.
World War II Draft Card for Edward Ebert Kelly from from NARA
Though your draft card does not say it, three months later your enlistment papers list your occupation as pressman and plate printer. It was an occupation that you would pursue much of your life. As a single man, without dependents, it was not surprising that you chose to enlist in the Army on July 21, 1944, you surely would have been drafted. Luckily, the war was winding down and you got only as far as Ft. Ord near Monterey, California during the two years you served.

We don't know how you met Pauline Nelda Haas. Your neighborhoods were not far apart in Philadelphia. Perhaps, one of your siblings introduced her to you. our were headed home to Philadelphia by July 6, 1946 departing from Fort Meade, Maryland. We know you and Pauline were married October 25 1947.
Edward Ebert and Pauline Nelda Kelly on their wedding day October 25, 1947
You and Pauline went on to have five terrific children, Edward William, Russell Alan, Patricia Anne, Robert Steven and Doreen Lynn Kelly. It's a shame you did not stay to see them grown. Though you reappeared in their lives now and again, I think its fair to say none of us really knew you well.

Your daughter-in-law,

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Challenge of Common Name Brick Walls: #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Post 2

Dear Grandparents,
Though I often post about your adventures centuries ago, there are those of you who remain mysteries to me. Many of you were born in 19th century America, I'm sorry to admit. When I can find European Records several centuries older it bedevils me to admit that you remain successfully hidden in my own country. The single common denominator among you is the commonality of your surnames.

First example: Elizabeth Jane Jones. I have been searching for the identities of her parents for years.
Elizabeth Jane (Jones) Gibson from family Bible in my possession
According to her daughter Sarah Amanda (Gibson) Hugunin's family Bible, she was born 2 May 1821 in Tennessee. She married Newsom Gibson 29 Dec 1840 in Davidson County, Tennessee and died 1 Jan 1895 in Chicago, Cook County, IL. I have no way to distinguish her from the others named Elizabeth Jones and connect her to her parents.

Second: William Henry Colby, my second great grandfather was born between 1827-30 in New Hampshire or perhaps NY according to records I've discovered.  I have not been able to determine which of the William or Wm Colbys listed in the 1850 Federal Census is him. He married Fanny Hutchinson Hunnewell 11 May 1855 in Lake County, Illinois. My Great Grandfather William Wallace Colby was born 16 Oct 1857 in Black Hawk County, Iowa. The other children are all born in Lake County. Usually in the census he is listed as a farmer however in the late 1870s the family is living in Logansport, Indiana and William is running a broom making business. The broom making is corraborated by a letter written by my Great Grandfather to a cousin.
William H. Colby 1900 Census Vernon Township, Lake County, Illinois
image from
I have found many William Colby's born in New Hampshire between 1825-1830 but still not the clue to link him to his parents. I have DNA matches the tie into descendants of Anthony Colby who immigrated from England with the Winthrop Fleet in 1630 but no paper trail.

Third: Another 2nd Great Grandfather Simpson Barnes' parents remain unknown.  Simpson is supposed to have been born 10 Feb 1825 in New York according to family records that I have not seen. He married Angelina Burgoyne 15 Nov 1848 in Hillsdale County, Michigan.
Simpson Barnes 1850 Census
Cambria, Hillsdale, MI image from

According to census records he also lived in Wapello County, Iowa and Jefferson County, Kansas. There are 15 other Barnes families listed in Hillsdale and surrounding counties on the 1850 census. I'm working on finding a Barnes connection that went on to Iowa and Kansas. So far, it seems he followed his wife's family.

Fourth: Nancy Carr, one of my third great grandmothers, born 5 Feb 1791 in Northampton, Pennsylvania and died 17 Apr 1871 in Wabash County, Indiana. She married Tobias Werst circa Dec 1815 in Pennsylvania and their first son Joseph Carr Werst was born there 23 Sep 1816. The family emigrated to Butler Township, Darke County, Ohio by 1830. By 1855 they are living in Wabash County, IL. Nancy named her first son Joseph Carr Werst and that is my only clue as to the name of her father. There is a Joseph Christopher Carr who died 7 Apr 1839 and is buried in Bucks County, PA not far from where Nancy (Carr) Werst was living on Keystone Run, Northampton County. Once again there are many Joseph Carrs in the area and I have not found the record that ties Nancy to one of them.
Nancy Carr Werst headstone from
Mississenwa Cemetery, Wabash County, Indiana
headstone were moved to this location
So I continued to be challenged by the common names of my ancestors. It is particularly frustrating that all these examples are on my mother's line. I have DNA matches that link me to cousins that are descendants of most of these ancestor but no one has additional information. Here's hoping that one or more of these mysteries are solved this year.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

1 Jan 2019

Dear Grandparents,
Another year has begun. Hopefully, it will be full of more genealogy research that I accomplished last year. I'm making a concerted effort this year to keep up with Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. She provides prompts to encourage writing about at least one ancestor each week. Her first prompt for 2019 is #First.

For my first post of the year, I've selected my 7th great grandfather who was known as Lieutenant Jonathan Lyman. He is the first person I can document who was born on the first of January.
Jonathan's birth listing from Vital Records
Born January 1, 1684 in Northampton, Massachusetts, Jonathan is the son of Richard and Lydia (Loomis) Lyman. He was the fifth born of their nine children. His grandfather, Richard  Lyman, had immigrated from High Ongar, Essex, England in 1631. His grandmother, Hepzibah Ford, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth (Cooke) Ford had immigrated in 1630 from Dorchester, England.
The Lyman family moved to Lebanon, Connecticut in 1696 with a number of other families from Northampton.

Jonathan married Lydia Loomis, daughter of Deacon Joseph and Hannah (Marsh) Loomis. They were from Windsor, Connecticut. Their marriage was recorded in the volumes of Lebanon Vital Records however, the date is illegible. Based on page number in comparison to legible dates recorded on the same pages it was about 1708. This would also agree with the birth of their first child.

Jonathan was termed Lieutenant from his service in the Train Band of the North Company of the South Society in the Town of Lebanon. He was Ensign in May of 1726 and then Lieutenant in 1729 (Barrett Wendell, Society of Colonial Wars in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Boston, 1906 p. 353).

Jonathan and Lydia were the parents of eleven children. six boys and five girls. Jonathan survived four of them. We are descended from their youngest child Anna Lyman who married Isaiah Tiffany.

One of the benefits of going back and looking at genealogy research that was done in the past is that it creates a new to-do list. I had not previously found Jonathan's will. Now I have it and will be transcribing it tomorrow. There will be lots to decipher including more that six pages of inventory. Jonathan signed his will and a quick glance at it reveals there were several books in the inventory so I assume he was literate.

Amanda, Ed and I visited Lebanon in 2015. We did not find a headstone for Jonathan in the old cemetery but he is most likely buried there.

Happy 335th Birthday, Grandfather Jonathan,


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Happy Birthday Grandfather Cecil Oscar Werst

Dear Cecil,
(This was meant to be posted on March 16th and was delayed by an internet outage.) Today we are celebrating the 118th anniversary of your birth in what was then called Grasshopper Falls, Kansas. Please forgive me for not addressing you as grandfather. Having never met you, I do not know if you would have preferred Papa, Grampa, or whatever. I've always thought of you as Cecil. Named for you, I always wondered if children had made fun of your name when you were in school like they did with mine. Thinking of you as Cecil helped me think that I had an ally in the name wars of childhood.

Cecil Oscar Werst
circa 1926
You are the 7th child of Lewis and Mary Jane (Barnes) Werst. The Werst side of your family was part of the Somerset Church Of the Brethren congregation of Wabash County, Indiana that emigrated to Jefferson County, Kansas in 1864.

1900 Federal Population Schedule for Rock Creek Township,
Jefferson County, Kansas showing family of Louis and Mary J Werst
with seven children including 2 month old Cecil O Werst. 8 Jun 1900
In the 1900 Federal Census, Lewis was working as a carpenter and states that he has only been employed for three months so far that year. The family is living in a rented home. I expect you had no memories of life in Kansas as your family soon moved west to Washington State.

Your Dad had been married once before he married your mother 1 Oct 1885. He and his first wife, Lunnete "Mattie" (Fitzsimmons) Werst were the parents of your three older half brothers, Jasper Lewis, George Franklin and Forest Dean Werst. Their mother died in April 1884.

Jasper had followed his maternal Uncle Charles Wesley Fitzsimmons to Pataha, a small community near Pomeroy, Garfield County in the Washington Territory. This was wheat country, not the forested country of Western Washington.

From by Russell Lee, 1941
How wheat was harvested before combines.
Jasper had written home about the plentiful opportunities in the new state and Lewis and Mary Jane decided to follow the opportunity. We do not know if they traveled by wagon or rail. It must have been a logistical challenge to move a family of nine more than 1,000 miles.

The family settled in and their next and last son, Alvin Edgar Werst was born Christmas Eve 1902 in Garfield County. Alas, Lewis was not a farmer. The death of their 10 year old son Guy Alfred on November 24, 1905, the day after Thanksgiving appears to have been the last straw for the family attempt at farming .

Before the end of the year, they moved further west to Belma in Yakima County. This area was known for its apple orchards. It was also an area where the Federal Government was building dams and irrigation canals and there was plenty of work for a carpenter ready to give up on wheat farming.
By the time the 1910 census was taken, Lewis was a prosperous contractor with three of his older sons working as carpenters for him.

Prosperity for the family was short lived, Lewis sickened and died in 1916. With your older brothers married and raising families of their own, supporting your Mother and younger brother fell to you. Thanks to, we know you applied for work as a fireman on the Northern Pacific Railway 21 May 1918 at Pasco, Washington.


We don't know why you lied about your age on the application. Did you think that being 19 would give you a better opportunity? The application states that you were 5ft 8 inches tall and weighed about 140 pounds. You had blue eyes and medium brown hair. You were hired and started work 2 days later. Evidently, the job did not suit you as you resigned effective June 3rd. It wasn't your job performance as the superintendent stated "services satisfactory." Were you homesick? Didn't like the work? Unfortunately, we don't know.

Eighteen months later, the 1920 Census lists you as head of the household, age 19, sole support of your mother and younger brother Alvin. You are listed as a laborer doing general work for wages.

1920 Federal Census for Grandview Precinct, Yakima, Washington
Household of Werst, Cecil
We don't really know much about your life between 1920 and 1924. We know you went to Pendleton, Oregon where your brother Clem was working as a carpenter building houses. Across the street from Clem and Bessie lived Harley "Hal" and Madge (Colby) Massey. Beginning in the summer of 1923, the Massey's were hosting Madge's younger sister Ada Grace. She had moved in after completing two years at Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University). Grace had discovered her stepmother had given away the dog she left at home in Newberg and vowed to never return to her father's house while her step-mother lived.

I wish we could know what you thought of Grace. I think she was quite the live wire. She had been President of her 1921 Newberg High School class and involved in everything. She was a modern woman, working as a secretary. I expect that she was also the whirlwind that swept you off your feet.

Ada Grace Colby circa 1922 from family collection
You did have many things in common. You had both lost a parent in your teenage years. You were both born in Kansas. You had each lived on farms and knew you wanted to seek your life's work elsewhere. You were both younger children in large families. Most of all, you both were determined to better yourselves.

Many years later, she talked with we grandchildren about her ambitions for you. She talked about how she helped you refine your dress, speech and manners. She also talked about how she loved to hear you play your banjo.

By August 8, 1924, you were in Spokane, Washington getting married.

We think this may have been your wedding photograph.
The next three years passed all too quickly for Grace. You were promoted from salesman to Field Manager for the Royal Silk Hosiery Company. She was forced to leave her position as a secretary for the Spokesman Review Newspaper when her pregnancy began to show. Your daughter Betty Lorraine was born June 23, 1926.
Cecil with daughter Betty circa Fall 1926
Grandmother Hoo Hoo, our pet name for Grace, told us how you doted on your daughter. She talked about you taking her on rides in the park, including the Merry-go-round. She talked about the wonderful three month trip through all your Royal Silk territories in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
What an adventure for the family of three who would soon become a family of four!

Sadly, it was not to be. One of your teeth was bothering you. It was removed, an infection set in, and you were dead in two weeks at age 27 years, 7 months and 8 days. Your death certificate says that one of the leukemias added to your condition. A young life, cut way too short.

Cecil Oscar Werst's Death Certificate

We can not know what you could have accomplished. You left behind a stunned, pregnant wife and a fifteen month old daughter.

I wonder if you ever imagined the size of your family now. We gathered last weekend to wish Helen (Werst) (Pearce) Caldwell, the daughter you never met, a happy 90th birthday. You have 24 surviving descendants and hopefully have been reunited with your daughter Betty.

Happy Birthday Cecil! Your legacy lives on.

Your granddaughter,

Monday, February 5, 2018

Roger Williams arrived in New England 387 years ago today. #52 Ancestors in 52 weeks, week 6

Dear Great Grandfather Roger,
Today we celebrate the 387th anniversary of your arrival in Massachusetts. Honestly, I would not have remembered but this morning it was listed in our newspaper as one of the notable things that happened on 'This Day in History'. Not bad for someone who passed from this life some 300 years ago.

When we studied 'Roger Williams: Champion of Religious Freedom and Founder of Rhode Island' in school, I was attracted to your story but had no idea that you were my 11th great grandfather. If I'd known our relationship, I promise I would have paid more attention.  We know much more about  your life today than was covered in that long ago history class.

Born circa 1603 in London, England, you were the son of James Williams a tailor and merchant and his wife Alice (perhaps Pemberton). Evidently you were quite precocious taking shorthand notes of sermons and speeches in the Star Chamber. Noticed by Sir Edward Coke, he sent you to Sutton's Hospital (Charterhouse School) in 1621. Your progress was such that you then entered Pembroke College of Cambridge University in 1625, completing your bachelor of arts degree in 1627.
Pembroke College, Cambridge University from,_Cambridge
It is supposed that you took the orders to become a minister of the Church of England. A record of your ordination has not yet been found. We know that by 1629 you were serving as chaplain to Sir William Masham of Oates in Essex. Was it your dislike of the Anglican liturgy or Bishop Laud who impelled you to immigrate to Massachusetts? I wish you could provide that answer.
All Saints Church at High Laver, site of Roger and Mary Williams marriage.
by Charles01 at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Oxyman using CommonsHelper., Public Domain,
We know you married Mary Barnard December 15, 1629 at High Laver, Epping Forest, Essex. What an adventure for a newly married couple to travel to Bristol and board the ship Lyon and sail for New England December 1, 1630. Crossing the north Atlantic in the dead of winter must have been terrifying. It must have been a hellish 65 days. The Lyon also brought food stores to the famished colony at Plymouth. The arrival must have been the cause of quite the celebration.

The North Atlantic painting (circa 1900) by Charles H. Woodbury 1864-1940
from the Library of Congress Collection
It is written that you were invited to fill the pulpit of John Wilson who was visiting in England. You declined the offer because his Puritan church in Boston had not formally separated from the Church of England. You felt more comfortable with the Pilgrims of Plymouth who were 'separatists' having formed their own church when they fled England for Holland in 1607. Your determination to achieve the separation of church and state as well as your friendship with Native Americans and your role in the founding of Rhode Island are stories for another day.

Today we are thankful for the courage of you and your wife. We owe our existence to that courage.

Cecily Cone Kelly

Our descent from Roger and Mary (Barnard) Williams is as follows:
Their daughter Mary Williams married John Sayles
Their daughter Mary Sayles married John Holmes
Their daughter Susannah Holmes married Rev. Valentine Wightman
Their daughter Mary Wightman married Capt. Joshua Rathbone
Their daughter Martha Rathbone married Uriah Stephens
Their daughter Martha Stephens married George Hornell
Their son George Hornell, Jr. married Sarah Thacher
Their daughter Lydia Hornell married 2nd John Champion Clarke
Their daughter Mary Elizabeth Clarke married Charles Shepard Newton
Their daughter Helen Brown Newton married Frederick Naaman Cone
Their son Charles Newton Cone married Hazel Bynon Allen
Their son Charles Newton Cone, Jr. is my father.

Interesting that most of this descent is traced on the female line.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Jonathan Lyman 1684 - 1753 #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Dear Grandparents,
As we start 2018, I've signed up to participate in Amy Johnson Crow's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" prompts. I am hoping my participation will help me tackle writing about one of your lives each week this year. Where to start? Now that is a challenge. I decided to start with the only person in my direct line for whom I can document a January 1st birthday, my 7th great grandfather, Jonathan Lyman.

Born in Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, January 1, 1684 (Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988,, 2011, p 24), he is the son of Richard and Elizabeth (Coles) Lyman. They were married 26 May 1675 in Northampton (, Massachusetts: Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988).
Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts shown in red on this map from
His ancestry was English on both sides. Jonathan's paternal family came to Massachusetts from High Onger, Essex, England in 1631.
St. Mary's Church in High Onger, England was built about 1181. In all probability the Lyman family worshipped here.
Image from

His great grandfather Richard Lyman  was the 11th member of the Roxbury, Massachusetts Church and then moved to Hartford, Connecticut in 1636 (Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Online database: American, New England Historical Genealogical Society, 2010 p 1217).

The English origins of his maternal great grandfather, James Coles, have not been discovered. He immigrated to Massachusetts before 1639 and also lived in Hartford (Rising Genealogy: Descendants of Jonathan Rising of Suffield, Connecticut,, North American, Family Histories, 1500-2000, database online, Provo, UT, 2016, Appendix D).

When Jonathan was 12, his family joined a number of other families from Northampton who moved to the fairly new community of Lebanon in New London County, Connecticut. He spent most of the rest of his life in Lebanon. He became a farmer and landowner (Coleman Lyman, Ancestors and Descendants of Richard Lyman from High Ongar in England 1631, New York 1878, p 166

We do not know the exact date of his marriage to Lydia Loomis. Part of the page is torn from the church records and the date is missing (, Connecticut, Church Record Abstracts, 1630-1920, Provo, UT 2013, V 4 p 3). We imagine sometime before their first child, Jonathan Lyman, was born September 1708. Lydia is the daughter of Deacon Joseph and Hannah (Marsh) Loomis. Her family came from Essex, England in the 1630s.

Jonathan and Lydia are the parents of eleven children born over 18 years in Lebanon. They are:
  • Jonathan b. 19 Sep 1708,  d. 1709.
  • Lydia  b. 23 Nov 1709,  m. Thomas Webster,  d. 10 Dec 1790 in Bolton, Tolland, CT.
  • Jonathan  b. 23 Apr 1712, m. Bethiah Clark 2 Oct 1735, d. 28 Jul 1792 Lebanon.
  • Sarah  b. 24 Jan 1713,  m. William Hunt 19 Dec 1734 Lebanon, d. 7 Feb 1746.
  • Hannah  b. 15 Feb 1715, m. Simeon Hunt 29 Jul 1736 Lebanon, d. 2 Jan 1758 Coventry, Tolland, CT.
  • Joseph  b. 3 Jul 1718, m. Joanna Loomis 2 Dec 1741 Lebanon, d. 15 May 1751 Coventry, Tolland, CT.
  • Jacob  b. 4 May 1721, m. Mehitable Bushnell 26 Jun 1745, d. 15 Jan 1802 Andover, Tolland, CT.
  • Rachel  b. 4 May 1721, m. Edmund Grandye 15 May 1745 Lebanon, d. 1815.
  • Zeriah  g. 14 Apr 1723, m. Samuel Bushnell 5 Oct 1743 Lebanon, d. Feb 1745 Lebanon.
  • Elijah  b. 21 Jul 1727, m. Esther Clarke 14 Dec 1748 Lebanon, d. 5 Apr 1782 Coventry, Tolland, CT.
  • Anna b. 28 Jan 1730, m. Isaiah Tiffany 19 May 1748 Lebanon d. 24 Apr 1823 Lebanon.
Jonathan died 11 Aug 1753 and is buried in the Old Cemetery in Lebanon. He wrote his will 25 Dec 1732. The probate file contains 10 pages of inventory items. Among my tasks for the new year is transcribing the 30 pages in his will packet.

Jonathan Lyman's Headstone from Photo by Sara
Our descent from Jonathan and Lydia (Loomis) Lyman follows:
  • Their youngest daughter Anna married Isaiah Tiffany 19 May 1748
  • Their daughter Anna Lyman Tiffany married James Clarke, Jr. 18 Jan 1781
  • Their son James Augustus Clarke's second marriage was to his first wife Anna's sister, Parnel Champion. We are descended from the second marriage.
  • Their son John Champion Clarke married Lydia Hornell 2 Oct 1845.
  • Their daughter Mary Elizabeth Clarke married Charles Shepard Newton 2 Oct 1865.
  • Their daughter Helen Brown Newton married Frederick Naaman Cone 29 May 1889.
  • Their son, my grandfather, Charles Newton Cone married Hazel Bynum Allen 4 Sep 1926
Only while writing this descent did I realize that Charles and Mary Elizabeth (Clarke) Newton were married on her parents' 20th wedding anniversary. My husband and I were married on my parents' 22nd anniversary.

Besides chronicling an ancestor's life, "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" is rapidly filling in my 2018 Genealogical To Do List. Johnathan Lyman was a known ancestor for me. He is included in the pedigree chart prepared by my granduncle William L. Cone and passed on to me by my grandfather Charles N. Cone. Most of the facts included in this post are based on research I've done over the last 20 years. Still, I thought a search might reveal additional life events.

That simple search found a 1983 Master's Thesis by Robert Charles Anderson entitled "Genealogy and Social History: the Early Settlement of Lebanon, Connecticut, as a case study."(Masters Theses 1911-February 2014, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, #1282,  Yes, that Robert Charles Anderson, the author of the Great Migration Study. I do not know if he has a personal interest in Lebanon but I certainly do. I found 28 families to whom I have a connection in his paper.

Genealogy is often a linear pursuit, following one or another family by generation up the family tree. In my case, I have been concentrating on the stories of individual ancestors. Now I realize I also need to spend time on cluster research in places like Lebanon. Anderson identified immigrants to Lebanon from Northampton, MA, Norwich, CT, and Hartford, CT. He wondered in his paper if they had intermarried or had stayed within their original groups. It may have taken a couple of generations but my family tree contains intermarriages from all three groups. I will be spending time this year looking for family members in the sources mentioned in Anderson's bibliography.

Happy New Year,
Cecily Cone Kelly

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Celebrating Independence Day

Dear Grandfather Clark,
Today as we are celebrating the 241st anniversary our Independence,  I think it is important to remember that many of our ancestors were involved in the American colonies fight for independence even before the declaration that we all hold so dear was adopted. In 1775 you raised a company from your friends and neighbors in Lebanon, Connecticut and responded to the Lexington Alarm and then marched on to the Battle of Bunker Hill. It was still more than a year to the first reading of the famous document.

The Battle of Bunker Hill has gone down in our history as such but of course, you know it was fought on Breed’s Hill. The source of the confusion seems to be that the Colonial Troops had originally been ordered by the Committee of Safety to “Bunker’s Hill in Charlestown be securely kept and defended, and also some one hill or hills on Dorchester Neck be likewise secured.”

      Battle of Bunker Hill drawing from

Though we do not have your description of the battle. Other first hand accounts reveal that the day was hot. The grass was unmown, reaching to the knees of the men trying to march through it. There were walls and fences to be climbed over.

People from Boston, across the Charles River, lined the shore, crowded the hills, climbed to rooftops to watch the progression of battle. British ships shelled Charleston setting houses, churches and other buildings ablaze. British General Burgoyne wrote it presented “a picture and a complication of horror and importance beyond anything that ever came to my lot to witness to.”

Were you and your troops in the redoubt that had been constructed on Breed’s Hill? We’ll probably never know how it felt to watch the scarlet clad British troops inching their way up the hill toward you. We understand that you held your fire until they were just 150 feet away. When the volley came, the British troops fell in heaps. It must have been exhilarating.

Commanding a Company of your friends and neighbors from Lebanon, you must have felt a terrible responsibility to keep them alive. Were  your sons James and Moses with you? You must have known that British would regroup after the failure of their initial assault. Given the limits of your ammunition, how long could your troops last? Could the eventual retreat be managed effectively preserving the troops to fight another day and avoid a flight of panic? There are so many question I would like to ask.

The British suffered tremendous losses, 1,054 men shot, 226 killed out right. The American losses are more difficult to ascertain. The records were not good and the troops not as organized. Volunteers from several states, such as your troops who had marched the 100 miles from Connecticut were not integrated into the records. I know you knew how many of your men were killed or wounded but it has been difficult for historians to track the numbers from all the units.

Though the Battle was an eventual loss, Americans celebrated the Battle of Bunker Hill for the tremendous showing that American raw recruits made in the face of the disciplined English forces who were the best in the world. According to a letter from General Gage to Dartmouth, Americans were “not the despicable rabble too many have supposed them to be” … they have… “a military spirit… joined with uncommon zeal and enthusiasm… The conquest of this country is not easy.”

Surely, it pointed to the need for a unified command structure. About a month later, the Continental Congress appointed George Washington, “to command all the continental forces, raised or to be raised, for the defense of American liberty.”

Today too many Americans believe that independence was all but guaranteed. The personal sacrifices made by those of you who left family, homes, farms, and businesses to put everything on the line to fight for independence are often overlooked. We can only imagine the sorrow you felt when you arrived home late in the fall of 1775 to discover that your young children Wealthy and Ernest had died within two weeks of each other in September.

However distraught, we know that you went back to your regiment and participated in the Battles for New York City and White Plains even more determined to win our independence.

CllarkhomeLebanon2015 (2016_12_17 18_37_25 UTC).jpg
6th and 7th great granddaughters Cecily Cone Kelly and Amanda Kelly in front of the
James Clark Home in Lebanon, CT circa 2016
From author’s personal collection

We know how you how you felt about our independence from a report written in the Connecticut Courant newspaper published 10 July 1822. It described a commemoration of the anniversary of American Independence held in your home town of Lebanon. It described you, at age 93, wearing the hat worn by the late Col. William Williams at the time he signed the Declaration of Independence, giving the following toast to,
The Liberty of America, may it be as durable as the slavery would have been
Lasting had it not been gained.

The article also noted that you were accompanied by your son, grandson and great grandson on the occasion.
Image of James Clark from the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Bunker HillJamesClarkage94 (2016_12_17 18_37_25 UTC).jpg
17 June 1825 Image from the Lebanon Historical Society Collection

We remain dedicated to the principles of the Declaration of Independence and many of your descendants have put their lives on the line, as you did, to secure these rights. We still “mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”


For family members our descendent from James Clarke follows:

Cecily (Cone) Kelly, Charles Newton Cone, Jr., Charles Newton Cone, Helen Brown (Newton) Cone, Mary Elizabeth (Clarke) Newton, John Champion Clarke, James Augustus Clark, James Clark, Jr., James Clark