Two weeks ago I got an email that there was a comment to be approved on our blog.  When I read the comment I was thrilled and then, I have to admit, just a tiny bit suspicious (sorry, Linda!).  The writer said she had come across a copy of a deed showing William Denman buying land in upstate New York in 1795.  She wanted to know if this was my family by any chance.  You can see the comment and my response on the Contact Us page.  I was actually still on vacation and in Canada when I first read this and responded.

As soon as I got back home, I emailed my genealogical genie and we had several emails back and forth about what it was and how she came to have it.  She told me that she volunteers in a non-profit animal shelter that accepts donations which it then sells to help support the work at the shelter.  She had noticed the names on the document and thought she’d try to see if she could find out anything about them.  Her hope was that someone in the family would be interested in it.  She didn’t spell it out, but obviously found the blog and the Denman names I have written about before, so she left a note.

I was very eager to know more about what she had, and she offered to get a picture to email to me.  Her husband took several shots and they showed me that it was indeed a copy of the original William Denman deed.  It shows William and Ann Denman acquiring the 200 acres in New York where they built the homestead that was the place my Denman family first settled in this country.  I have written about this place before, here.

What I haven’t told about is the existence of this original deed.  My sister and I were lucky enough to see it in person when we visited the Denman family in Grahamsville New York two summers ago.  It belongs to our Denman cousins, and has hung on their office wall for a number of years.  The story we were told was that someone had discovered it in an envelope in a safe deposit box in California when its owner had died.  Apparently the executor thought it belonged back in New York and it was sent to the Denmans who still live in the Neversink area where the family first settled.  They framed it and hung it in their office.  I got one picture of our older cousin holding it, but we couldn’t get a copy of it made while we were there.  (I admit to being somewhat concerned that it needed to be re-framed with archival matting and protective glass, and hope that this has been done since then.)  Anyway, I didn’t get a real chance to read the document but I could see the signatures of William Denman and of Ann Denman who signed as a witness.

IMGP4527The good news is that Linda found me and offered me the copy, if I was willing to pay the postage and make a donation to her shelter.  I was glad to say yes.  She got it to a shipper and I found it waiting for me two days later when I returned home from a day out.  It is now hanging in my home office. The good news is also that this piece of family history survived the impact of hurricane Sandy in New Jersey.  The bad news is that it is stuck to the glass and has a lot of water damage.  However, it is still completely readable.  And the stamp on the back of the frame shows it was framed in Pasadena California.  I am hoping to hear from the company, which is still in business.

There is still the genealogical mystery of who made this copy, and when.  Also how did the person who donated it to the shelter come by it and where?  My genealogical genie is going to ask her a few specific questions which may help me figure out if her family is related to the Denmans and if she got the document in California or someplace else.

Research
* Continue to look for birth, death, marriage records for Margaret, John, Tilford, William S., John Charles Earhart. I have marriage and death for Mary E. (Hockman), but no birth found yet under either name. I am waiting for a death cert for William S. to arrive, and have started a table of dates and sources for all of these people.
* Get the pension file for Tilford Earhart, filed by his mother Margaret. Unfortunately this file is not yet available on Fold3.com, except for the index card, so I may have to send to NARA for it.
* Waiting for last batch of copies of original records found on familysearch.org that I requested, the very end of October.

Organization
* Added a To-Analyze tag to Evernote, and a folder in my genealogy documents sub-directory to hold records found but not entered into my database yet. Continue in bad habit of pulling off the internet but not immediately putting into database.
* Pick a group of census records and really learn how to enter them in Clooz – a program which I really like my early experience with but which I need to learn to be more proficient using.
* Type notes from Maine trip and file information. Figure out next steps.

Education
* Watched several of the Clooz videos and think I understand how to enter source and then document for census records. Excited to see that Clooz can now transfer sources back to one database and hope that it will soon be able to transfer to RootsMagic.

    

It is possible to explore family history and understand it reasonably well, family, on the other hand, is always a mystery.

Alice, Ruth and Elinor

Alice, Ruth and Elinor

     The problem with trying to understand your own family is that you were a child when you first encountered these mysterious people.  Your views on each of them are colored by the nuclear family you grew up in and even that nuclear family had its secrets, lots of them.

      This is why family historians are always asking themselves, “Why didn’t I know this?’ or “Why didn’t I spend more time with this person?” or one of a thousand other questions usually accompanied by slapping the forehead and saying, “Duh!”

      I did some forehead smacking recently when I discovered a 1977 article from The Jewish Exponent of Philadelphia about my cousin Elinor Brown.  Elinor is my first cousin, once removed, or put in language I actually understand; she was my grandmother’s sister’s kid.

      I knew Elinor when I was growing up.  We weren’t as close to my grandmother’s family, but we saw them from time to time.  They came to our weddings and Bar Mitzvahs; we went to theirs.  There was no estrangement that I know of, there just didn’t seem to be a lot of communication, but what do I know, I was a dumb kid.

Elinor Brown (top right) with her father and sisters, Alice and Ruthe

Elinor Brown (top right) with her father and sisters,
Alice and Ruthe

Elinor was born in 1898, so she was about 50 years older than I am.  As a child I suppose she was just another old person to me, but I knew Elinor when I was an adult in my twenties and thirties.  Why then did I know so little about her?

      The article from The Jewish Exponent of Philadelphia is about Elinor’s career in the advertising business.  I knew she was in business of some kind and I knew she was successful, but I never thought about what it must have been like for a woman of her generation to be in business.

      Elinor began writing for the Yiddish newspaper, Der Tag, which was owned by her father.  After high school Elinor went to secretarial school in Syracuse.  Secretarial work, after all, was what women did until they got married.  Elinor came home for the summer and took a job in the secretarial pool at an ad agency.  She never returned to school and somehow made it from the secretarial pool to space and media buying.  She was the only woman in that area.

      She made the next big jump when she heard that the Contadina Company was looking for an ad agency.  She flew to Chicago and convinced Contadina’s parent company to hire the E.L.Brown Agency.  This was the birth of the agency.  When she arranged a banquet for Contadina dealers she ran into a bit of a problem.

      This from the Jewish Exponent, “I finished making the arrangements with the hotel management, went up to my suite to change, and decided to go down for a drink.  But they turned me away at the bar–unaccompanied women were not allowed in.

      I was furious!  Here I had just finished spending God knows how much money in that hotel, and I couldn’t go to the bar.  I grabbed the assistant manager and told him my story. He finally escorted me into the bar and sat with me while I had my drink.  But–imagine!”

      It was a problem that would persist so she dealt with it.  “I hired a man whose only function in the agency was to pick up the check.  He traveled with me wherever I went, all over the country, and that’s all he did.  Pick up the check.”

       What can I say, it’s brilliant, appalling, and yet awfully funny.

      There are a lot more stories I could tell about this interesting woman and her long and successful life.  She married twice, had children and grandchildren and worked into her 80′s.

      I am delighted to know more about this early feminist.  I’m just sorry I didn’t get to hear her stories from her.

 

 

 

Research
* Continue to look for birth, death, marriage records for Margaret, John, Tilford, William S., John Charles Earhart.
* Get the pension file for Tilford Earhart, filed by his mother Margaret.
* Send for more copies of original records found on familysearch.org from the list I am accumulating in Evernote.

Organization
October is going to be tricky for getting much done with any organization. I’m going to be gone for 12 days in the middle of the month. However, I will *try* to:
* Pick a group of records and really learn how to enter them in Clooz – a program which I really like my early experience with but which I need to learn to be more proficient using.
* Type notes from Maine trip and file information. Figure out next steps.

Education
* I caught several of the Legacy Family Tree webinars in September: I watched the recorded one by Mary Hill, Colonial Immigrants: Who They Were and Where They Came From; another recorded one by Linda Woodward Geiger, Getting the Most from Your Records: Putting Them Through the Wringer! and I attended the live on by Marion Pierre-Louis, Don’t Be an Audio Hog: Free and Easy Ways to Share Your Audio Files. Whew!! I will try to watch at least one in October. Perhaps it would be smart to watch the video tutorials that Clooz has published, in my quest to learn to use the program more easily and efficiently.

For our GRIP course we were asked to describe a research problem for discussion with the class.  I wrote up the basics of what I knew about Mary/Elizabeth Earhart (or Hockman) Boothby.  I included the information I have posted here before.

The fun part was having everyone in the class read my problem and then ask questions and make suggestions about what to do next in my search for Mary’s true parents.  At the time I wrote it up, I basically had all of the places she appeared in the Federal Census, the information about her marriage to Alex Boothby, the registration information for some of her children, and her death certificate information.  Her youngest daughter, my grandmother Carrie, was the informant on the death certificate so not a primary source for any of the information I was interested in (like her parents or her date of birth).

The consensus of the GRIP class was that I needed to do a timeline of some sort to help me decide whether there was truly a second Elizabeth Hockman of about the same age (as it appears at first blush on the census records I had).  This turned out to be quite easy once I was back home and had access to all my documents and saved records.  The first census I found Elizabeth Hockman on, in the John Arehart family, was the 1860 census and she was listed as 4 years old.  This census was taken on 28 June 1860.  The one showing a David Hockman family which included an Elizabeth Hockman aged 5 was taken on 9 June 1860.  So they could have been the same child in two different places at two different times.  The 1870 census, however,  showed the two families on the same page 5 households apart, one Elizabeth M. Earhart and one Elizabeth Hockman.  This argues that there were two different girls.  Lastly, on the 1880 census, Elizabeth E. Hockman was still living in her mother’s household (census taken 4 & 5 June 1880) while Mary E. Boothby was married and living with her husband and three sons (census taken 7 & 8 June 1880).  It seems unlikely that first Elizabeth was at the Hockman’s using the last name of Hockman and 3 days later at home using her married name of Boothby.

The next set of suggestions were ways to look for who this Elizabeth Hockman of mine might be.  Did her father have sisters who might have left a daughter?  Did her mother?  Was her older brother married when he died?  This wouldn’t really explain the Hockman name.  Then there is the possibility of finding probate records showing a guardianship or the death and will of a possible father.  Once home, I also decided that I need to look into the death of Tilford Earhart, her older brother, who served in the Civil War.  Margaret Earhart, their mother, applied for and seems to have been granted a pension based on Tilford’s service and death.  I am now trying to find out if this pension file has been digitized by Fold3 and if I can get the pension file that way.  I also need to add Tilford to the list of probates to search for.

At this point I come to several conclusions.  The David Hockman family that had an Elizabeth was not the family that Mary/Elizabeth Hockman Earhart was born into.  Although the two families lived in the same small area of Brown County, Ohio, for much of their lives, making it more confusing to figure out, Elizabeth daughter of David and Delitha Hockman was not the same person as Elizabeth/Mary Hockman Earhart.   The John and Margaret Earhart family seems to have included 2 biological children and 2 “adopted” children.  Since the censuses did not list relation to head of household until 1880, it is difficult to be sure which of the children were which.  Tilford was born within a little more than a year of their marriage, suggesting to me that he was a biological child.  William S. Earhart and Elizabeth Mary were born within a couple of years of each other, and John Charles followed 8-10 years after them.  The only clue so far is the 1900 censusEarhart, Margaret - 1900crop which shows Margaret Earhart living with John C. and his wife Emma, listed as mother of head of household, and reporting that she was the mother of 2 children, 1 of them living.  Since we know that Tilford was dead by 1900 and that Elizabeth Mary was still alive, and William S. was also still alive (at least based on later censuses showing him in Wyoming), this suggests that John C. was her son and that the middle two children were adoptees.

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