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

Saturday, May 20, 2017

20 May 2017

Dear Grandfather Tobias,

Today we celebrate the 224th anniversary of your birth. While celebrating today, we really wish we had the opportunity to talk with you. There are so many unresolved questions about your life.

We believe we have identified your parents, Andreas Werst born about 1763 in Northampton, Pennsylvania. No surname has been discovered for his presumed wife and your mother Catherine. We have no birth certificate for you but we would not expect to find one for the time and place where you were born. The date comes from family records. We have found a record of your baptism at the Friendensville Lutheran Church in 1794.

Andreas Werst's family enumerated in the 1800 Federal Census.
There are two males listed as under age 10 in 1800 which would include Tobias.
"United States Census, 1800," database with images, FamilySearch
(https://family"XHR4-FS3: accessed 20 May 2017),
Andreas Werst, Salisbury, Northampton, Pennsylvania, United States; citing p. 624;
NARA microfilm publication M32, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records
Administration, n.d.), roll 37; FHL microfilm 360,340.
Note: Though listed as Salisbury, the image clearly lists the residents of Upper Saucon Township.
Since your father's will was written in German, we imagine that German was the language spoken in his home. It must have been your first language. We believe you must have also spoken English as your wife Nancy Carr seems to have been of Northern Irish heritage and would not have spoken German. Your family was either Lutheran or Reformed. Both congregations shared the same building and their records have been combined.

We know you served your country as a private during the War of 1812. You served with Capt. Robert McGuigan in the 123rd and 81st Regiments of the Pennsylvania Militia, Commanded by Lt. Col. James Montgomery. Your wife, then widow, Nancy (Carr) Werst applied for a widow's pension 23 March 1857.  Nancy said that you were disabled in 1814 and discharged at Danville, in Northumberland County. Were you wounded or injured in an accident? We just do not know.

The Pennsylvania Archives contains the following letter from Capt. McGuigan to the governor.

        Milton, July 2, 1812. 
To his Excellency, Simon Snyder, Governor of Pennsylvania:- 

 Sir: I have the honor to inform you that on the 1st day of July, 
instant, the several classes of the One Hundred and Twenty-third 
regiment of Pennsylvania militia; James Moodie, lieutenant colonel 
commandant, Second brigade, Ninth division, met in pursuance of brigade 
orders in Milton, Northumberland county; that upwards of the number 
seventy-nine have volunteered their services as their quota of militia 
to your 
Honor, to be ready to march at any time required. We beg leave to state 
to your Excellency that it is the wish of the company to march at the 
first call. 
                          Sir, your most obedient humble servant, 
                                    ROBERT McGUIGAN, 

We know that your company was ready to go early in the war. At the outbreak of the war Northumberland county sent Captain Robert McGuigan's company and the Warrior Run Rifle company, Captain William McGuire, to join the troops at Erie and they served in the Black Rock Campaign. (Major William P. Clarke, Official History of the Militia and the National Guard of the State of Pennsylvania, 1909, P. 94).

Nancy also added that you were married by the Rev. John Bryson, Minister of the Gospel in December 1819. John Bryson was a Presbyterian minister who's ancestors immigrated to Pennsylvania from the north of Ireland but who were of Scottish descent. Perhaps Nancy's family were also Scots-Irish. We believe her father's name may have been Joseph Christopher Carr because of the name given your eldest son.

We do not know why you moved to Neave Township in Darke County, Ohio. We do know that you lived there in 1840.

Tobias Werst family with 5 sons and 2 daughters in 1840 census.
"United States Census, 1840," database with images, FamilySearch
( : accessed 20 May 2017),
Tobias Worst, Neave Township, Darke, Ohio, United States; citing p. 71 NARA microfilm publication
M704, (Washington D. C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.),
roll 390; FHL microfilm 20,163.
The family is still living in Ohio in the 1850 census, but must have moved shortly after to Wabash County, Indiana where two grandsons were born in 1852. Your story ends in Wabash County, where you died 20 April 1855 and were buried four days later.

Tobias Werst tombstone at Mississinewa Memorial Cemetery
Tombstones were moved to this location when an earlier cemetery was flooded.
Photograph from author's personal collection.
There is so much we still need to learn about your life. Rest assured, we are still looking for answers to our questions. Any hints you could send would be greatly appreciated!

Happy Birthday,

Our descent from Tobias is as follows:
Cecily daughter of Betty Werst Cone, daughter of Cecil Oscar Werst, son of Lewis Werst, son of
George Washington Werst, son of Tobias Werst.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Dear Grandparents,
On a recent trip to Massachusetts to celebrate my sister’s 65th birthday, we had the opportunity to see the home of our 10th great grandfather Jonathan Fairbanks. The cold, wet day could not deter us from walking around the house. We don’t normally expect to find such an old house, still standing.The Fairbanks House is indeed special.

Photograph of the Jonathan Fairbanks house taken from the parking lot.
27 March 2017 from my personal collection

From the website for the house,, Aboott Lowell Cummings, former Charles F. Montgomery Professor of American Decorative Arts at Yale University, stated,

“The Jonathan Fairbanks House in Dedham, Massachusetts, is one of the most important historic houses now standing in the northeastern part of the United States. Its value to the area and to the nation as a whole lies not so much in its claim to being the oldest house in New England but in its Architectural significance… It may be said quite simply that no other house of the mid-17th century in New England has survived in such unbelievable unspoiled condition. It is extraordinary that so early a structure should preserve such a high percentage of original features. It is a veritable store-house of information concerning the small handful of houses which survive from this early period.”
The center section of the house is the oldest. The east and west wings were added in the eighteenth century. Timbers for the Fairbanks house were sent to England for dendrochronology testing which dated the wood sent at 1641. Family lore says that some of the boards and much of the furniture original to the house was imported from England.
Photograph of Jonathan Fairbanks house taken 27 March 2017
form my personal collection

One of the secrets to its survival, is that the house was passed down and occupied by the Fairbanks family until the early twentieth century. The Fairbanks Family in America still owns the property and opens it for tours Wednesdays thru Sundays from May 3rd to October 29th. Because of the timing of our visit, we were not able to see the inside of the house but we will certainly schedule a return visit at a later date.

So how are we related to the Fairbanks family? It is not a surname that most of our family remembers. Here is our connection to Jonathan and Grace (Smith) Fairbanks. Maiden names are indicated by parentheses.

Cecily (Cone) Kelly13, Charles Newton Cone, Jr.12, Charles Newton Cone12, Frederick Naaman Cone11, William Warner Cone10, Joanna (Warner) Cone9, Thomas Warner8, Eleazer Warner7, Thomas Warner6, Delight (Metcalf) Warner5 , Rev. Joseph Metcalf4, Deacon Jonathan Metcalf³, Mary (Fairbanks)² Metcalf, Jonathan and Grace (Smith) Fairbanks¹

The Fairbanks and allied families are from the West Yorkshire area of England primarily around Halifax. It has been a center of the woolen industry since the 15th century. It is said that Jonathan was a weaver and merchant of woolens.
Map of West Yorkshire, England from www.wikipedia.orgHalifaxWestYorkshireEnglandwikipedia.png

Jonathan and his wife Grace (Smith) arrived in Boston sometime in 1633. No record of his immigration naming the exact date or ship has been discovered. By 1636, he and his family relocated to the newly founded town of Dedham, Massachusetts. The men founding the community were asked to sign the following Covenant:

The Covenant
  1. We whose name ar here unto subscribed doe in the feare and Reverence of our Allmightie God, Mutually: and generally p[ro]mise amongst ourselves and each to other to p[ro]ffesse and practice one trueth according to that most p[er]fect rule, the foundacion where is Everlasting Love:
  2. That we shall by all meanes Laboure to keepe of from us all such as ar[e] contrarye minded. And receaue onely such unto us as be such as may be p[ro]bably of one harte, with us, as that we either knowe or may well and truely be informed to walk in a peaceable conversation with all meekness of spirit for the edification of each other in the knowledg and faith of the Lord Jesus: And the Mutuall encouragem[ent] unto all Temporall comforts in all things, seekeing the good of each other, out of all which may be derived true Peace.
  3. That if at any time difference shall arise between p[ar]ties of our said Towne, that then such p[ar]tie and p[ar]ties shall p[er]sonlly Reserve all such difference unto som[e] one 2 or 3 others of our said Societie to be fully accorded and determined without any further delaye. If it possibly may bee:
  4. That every man that now or at any time heareafter shall have Lotts in our said Towne shall paye his share in all such Rate of money and charges as shall be imposed upon him Rateably in p[ur]portion with other men. As allso become freely subject unto all such orders and constitutions as shall be necesariely had or made now or at any time heere after from this daye fore warde as well for loveing and comfortable Societie in our said Towne as allso for the p[ro]sperous and thriveing condition of our said fellowshipe, especially respecting the feare of God in which we desire to begine and continue. Whatso ever we shall by his Loveing favoure take in hand.
  5. And for the better manefestation of our true resolution heere in every man so received to subscribe heere unto his name, thereby obliegeing both him self and his successors after him for ever as we have done.

According to the Dedham Historical Register Volume II, published in 1889, page 153, Jonathan Fayerbancke was among the signatories to the above covenant. He also received 12 acres of land among those he built his home. It would be interesting if neighbors signed such covenants today.

Sign for the Fairbanks House taken 27 March 2017 from my personal collection.

Jonathan was admitted a free man in Dedham 23 March 1637-38. Certainly the Fairbanks family were Puritans but Jonathan seems to have had some doubts about how the faith was practiced. When he made his declaration of faith, it was noted that he had “long stood off from the church upon some scruples about public profession of faith.” His concerns were resolved when he became a member of the First Church in Dedham 14 June 1646. His faith would have been considered to be Congregationalist.

The death of “Jonath. Fairebanck” was reported as 5 Dec., 1668 in “The Record of Births, Marriages and Deaths, and the intentions of Marriage in the Town of Dedham, Volume 1, page 11. He was buried in the Old Burying Place in Dedham. No headstone survives to this day and it is unknown if there was ever a marker on his grave.
Photograph of the Old Burying Place in Dedham is from Bill Boyington from used with permission.

Jonathan Fairbanks left a will that was probated 26 January 1669. He mentioned his wife Grace and children John, George, Jonas, and our 9th great grandmother Mary (Fairbanks) (Metcalf) Smith. His will is marked with an ‘x’ and it is unclear if he was illiterate or just too weak at that moment to sign. I may discover more when I visit the inside of the house!     Love, Cecily

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ancestor Tracking - 2017 Ancestor Tally

Dear Grandparents,
Many have heard me say each time I identify a new ancestor "now I have two additional people to find." Family researchers who announce that their "genealogy is finished" have always surprised me.
There are many of you that I still need to identify and there are more and more records available.
I figure my work will never be done.

Yesterday I came across Family Sleuther: Solving family history's mysteries a Facebook page ( this is the spelling used on the page) with a post on Ancestor Tracking. He suggested that the beginning of a new year is a good time to tally one's ancestors. I imagine the idea is to compare how many additional have been identified by the beginning of 2018. Having successfully identified more than 1,000 direct line ancestors seems at first glance to be quite an achievement. Looking at the far right column shows how much more work there is to be done.

My first challenge comes with the parents of my 2nd great grandfather William Henry Colby. Most records show him as having been born in New Hampshire. The earliest record found is his marriage to Fanny Hummell 11 May 1855 in Lake County, Illinois. This record contains an inexact spelling of his wife Fanny Hunnewell's name. Below is his entry in the 1900 census.

"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 17 January 2017), William H Colby, Vernon Township, Lake, Illinois, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 139, sheet 1B, family 20, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,314.
The parentage of another 2nd great grandfather, Simpson Barnes, is also a challenge. He is consistently listed in census records as having been born in New York. He marries Angelina Burgoyne in Cambria, Hillsdale County Michigan 15 November 1848. No record discovered lists the names of his parents.
"United States Census, 1850," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 9 November 2014), Simpson Barnes, Cambria, Hillsdale, Michigan, United States; citing family 84, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.)
The next hole in my linage is identifying the parents of Elizabeth Jane Jones, my 3rd great grandmother on my mother's side. She is my direct fifth generation mitochondrial ancestor.

Elizabeth Jane (Jones) Gibson
portrait copied from Hugunin Family Bible in my possession.

Entries in the Hugunin Family Bible, which were entered around the time of her daughter Sarah Amanda Gibson's marriage to Van Epps Hugunin in 1868, list Elizabeth's birth as 2 May 1821. However, they make no mention of her parents. The earliest record that clearly identifies Elizabeth is that of her marriage to Newsom Gibson 19 December 1840 ("Tennessee Marriages, 1796-1950," database, FamilySearch ( 8 December 2014), Newsom Gibson and Elizabeth Jones, 29 Dec 1840'; citing Davidson, Tennessee, reference; FHL microfilm 200,295).

The challenges in identifying each of these great grandparents lies in the their common surnames.
Jones, Barnes and Colby occur so frequently that it has been impossible to differentiate my ancestors from others with similar names. So far.

As the chart shows, I have plenty of work to do this year. Only another 3,860 ancestors to identify. Any serendipitous assistance is welcome.