Friday, January 14, 2011

Lost at Sea

There are well over 10,000 people in my genealogy database, and many of them are only distantly related or perhaps not at all – I keep information that may be helpful to someone sometime. So it’s not a complete surprise that on some days, like January 14, none of the names that show up are actual ancestors. Today, then, I’ll remember someone who died in January but not on this day; his family would probably not have learned of his death until some time after it occurred.

William H. Hodgins was born August 18, 1859, in Calais, Maine, to William and Eliza T. (Nason) Hodgins. I don’t know what the “H.” stood for, but it was probably added to his name to distinguish him from the first “Little Willie,” his elder brother, who was born in 1854 when the family still lived in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. Little Willie drowned in a well at the age of 14 months and it is said that this sad event encouraged the family to move to Calais. William's younger brother Allen was my great-grandfather.

William H. went to sea, following in the footsteps of his eldest brother, who had gone to sea at an early age and become a Captain of his own vessel. Poor William never got that far. He was still rated as an able seaman when he was lost at sea off the vessel William Deming on January 10, 1883. At the time, the William Deming was near the islands of Great Inagua and Little Inagua in the Bahamas. This map shows the location of the Inaguas relative to the rest of the Bahamas. (The Inaguas are in green.)


I could find very little information about the William Deming. She was a schooner, about 179 tons, out of Calais; the name is that of a prominent man in Calais’ history. Perhaps when I can get to the Maine Historical Society library there will be more information available.

Whether by letter, telegraph, or perhaps not until the vessel made home port, William and Eliza eventually learned of their son’s death. They placed a stone to his memory in the family plot at Calais Cemetery.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Jane Tapley, Isaac Tibbetts, King Aethelwulf of Wessex

On January 13 we remember a birth and two deaths. Two are from the Smith line (my maternal grandfather's mother's family) and one from the Belmore line (my maternal grandmother's mother's family).

Jane Tapley Smith Jane Tapley Smith, known in her family as Jennie, died on January 13, 1879, at the home of her daughter Catherine Smith Jenner in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada. She was born April 21, 1808 in Saco, the daughter of Joshua Tapley and his wife Margaret Foss, and married Simon Smith on March 21, 1827. They lived in Wayne, Maine until sometime between 1847 and 1850, and then moved to Waterville, where they are listed in the 1850 census, and sometime before 1860, to Kendalls Mills, part of Fairfield, Maine, where the 1860 census finds them. Simon and Jennie had either 10 or 11 children (there is some confusion about whether Nancy M. and Mariah, who both died in infancy, were two different children or one called by two names). Five of the children survived to adulthood, including my great-great-grandfather Cyrus Foss Smith and his sister Catherine (Kate) and brother Alvin (sometimes spelled Alvan), who are mentioned in the excerpt below from Cyrus's diary. The Malcom (Malcolm) referred to is almost certainly Malcolm Davis, the son of Cyrus's sister Julia who had died in 1876. Here is a photograph of the diary page reporting Jane's death, followed by a transcription of that day's entry and the two days following.

JANUARY 12-13 1879 death of Jane Tapley Smith

Monday, January 13, 1879

I went up to the P.O. I got letter from Alvin saying Mother was dying. I went down on the train. Mother died this morning at 8:15.

They do not charge me any fare on the train.

I carried a package to Mrs. Vick Huston for Mrs. Keem in Eve.

Tuesday, January 14, 1879

Very Pleasant.

I staid at Kate’s last night Mr. Callwell & Robt Maxwell sat up there. Came home on the train –

Malcom went to Calais with (Sam?) Varnum this AM

I engaged Malcom Bucannon’s team to go to Calais tomorrow

Sawd wood all AM

Went up to Rolfs got Pr Over Shoes on cr 163 ($1.63?)

Borrowd Over Coat of Al Kneeland – Calld to Milton & (illegible) in Eve

Wednesday, January 15, 1879

Very Cold the coldest we have hade this Winter. I got Malcom Bucannon’s team drove down to Alvin’s. Got dinner there then took his team and Malcom – went down to Kate’s – We hade Mother put in the Tomb
Went back to Alvin’s to tea.
We started 5:45 for home Calld to Maloys to warm Malcom came very near freezing to death. I hade to run the Horse to get him home before he froze. Took him in to Shaws & workd on him an hour to get life into him.

(Thanks to my cousin Lorraine Beal for the copies of Cyrus Foss Smith’s diaries.)

At the time of her death, Jennie had been a widow for 16 years, as Simon, a flour miller, had died in 1863. He is buried in Pine Grove Cemetery in Waterville, but it appears that Jennie is buried either in Calais or St. Stephen.

Isaac Tibbetts This is a picture of Isaac Tibbetts, the grandfather of Cyrus’s wife, Leonora Choate. He was born January 13, 1793 in Boothbay to James Tibbetts and his wife Abigail Lewis. On July 22, 1814, he married Sarah “Sally” Hutchings of Boothbay and they apparently settled fairly soon after in Whitefield, where they continued to live. Isaac was a farmer and in 1850 his farm was reported to be worth $1000. By 1860 he appears to have deeded the farm to his son Isaac Jr. as he has no real estate and personal estate of $100. Isaac and Sally had 10 children in all, of whom Frances or Fannie was the fifth. She married Isaac Chauncey Choate and their daughter Leonora became the wife of Cyrus Foss Smith and our ancestor. Isaac and Sally are buried in the Noyes Cemetery in Whitefield, Maine, which has one of the most beautiful settings for a cemetery that I have ever seen, as it looks down over Clary Lake.

aethelwulf coin Next we will go far, far back in time to a distant ancestor. Aethelwulf (his name meant Noble Wolf in the Saxon tongue) was King of Wessex from 839 to 856. Previously, he had been King of Kent. Upon gaining the throne, his first act was to give part of the kingdom to his eldest son Athelstan to rule; for himself he kept what are now Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, and Devon. You can learn more about Aethelwulf from Wikipedia and at this site about English monarchs. The coin shown above dates from his time. Aethelwulf relinquished the throne under some pressure in 856; he may not have been too sorry to do so as he had really wanted to become a priest. He is said to have died on January 13, 858, and after some peregrination, his bones now rest at Winchester Cathedral. The family connection is through the ancestry of Eliza Zebia Perkins, the mother of my maternal grandmother’s grandfather, Hilman Belmore. Eliza’s ancestry went back to Lydia Chipman, the daughter of Hope Howland whose father and mother were Mayflower passengers; Lydia married William Sargent of Malden, Massachusetts Bay Colony, who was descended from King Alfred the Great and thus also from Alfred’s father Aethelwulf. The laws of primogeniture in England (oldest son gets everything and the others have to make their way somehow) mean that many Americans with English ancestry have Kings in their family trees. Younger sons would marry the daughters of noblemen, but later on, as tradespeople became more prosperous, the younger sons of noblemen would marry the daughters of wool merchants and such, and many times their descendants emigrated to the American colonies.

And since Aethelwulf is buried there – I just couldn’t resist including this oldie:

Introducing Tales of My Ancestors

I'm starting a third blog for a specific purpose: to share, mostly with my relatives, bits of the genealogy and family history I've been researching for many years. I may change the blog title at some point when inspiration strikes, particularly since it should more properly be called "Tales of My Children's Ancestors." That is, from time to time there will be information about my husband's family history. I'll put labels on each post with the family line to which it refers.

Sometimes I'll have a new piece of information, but on other days I'll just tell about somebody who had a special day on that particular day. I have a software program called On This Day which goes together with my genealogy software and will list everyone who had a life event on a particular day. Of course, where photographs are available, I'll be sharing them as well. I hope you will enjoy this blog

The URL of the blog is the same as the title of a very occasional family newsletter that I've done for my mother's side of the family. The earliest Billings to come to Maine was John Billin (as the name was sometimes spelled then) who arrived on the Speedwell in 1635 at Richmond Island off Cape Elizabeth. He was contracted to work as a fisherman for the Trelawney operation. It is not known if this was the same Speedwell that was a sister ship to the Mayflower fifteen years previous. I'll tell more stories about John later in the blog.