May Genealogy To-Do

In April I managed to:

1. Finish renaming all the computer files in my Salt surname folder and sub-folders, and started adding birth-marriage-death evidence to my direct ancestors and a couple of closely related people.  Yay!!

2. Make a lot of progress on one of the two new family trees I’m creating for the upcoming Fall wedding.  This is a family that had lots of children in each generation and although I won’t use all the information for the new display tree I want to create for the couple, I do want all the information in the database.

3. Finish the first draft of transcribing the William Boorman will.  There are still places where I had trouble reading the handwriting so it isn’t complete yet.

For the coming month of May, I will:

1. Finish adding all my direct Salt ancestors vital information from my computer files and Evernote.  Trying to decide whether to do the same level of adding with my other direct ancestors before trying to complete a surname.  It all needs to be added to my RootsMagic database and it is starting to make sense to me that I should focus on the direct ancestors first.  (Maybe there will be somewhat fewer Bright Shiny Objects and rabbit holes that way!)

2. Go back to the Boorman will, having left it for a few days, to see if I can decipher any of the words I couldn’t read the first time around.  I wish I had someone to put a fresh pair of eyes on this one – my will expert in Sussex was very helpful for the Denman and Martin wills.  I will try to think about who might be willing.

3. Continue to work on the latest up-coming-wedding family trees.  I have a good start but want to get it finished with plenty of time to figure out how to present it.

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Abigail Butler Coffin (1783-1858)

Coffin-family-dag-cased_thumb.jpgAbigail Butler Coffin is my third female ancestor who migrated with her husband and children from Nantucket to Cincinnati in the early 1800s.  She came with four or five young children (the birth date of one son isn’t well recorded).  Her oldest child and son was born in 1802 and the family likely migrated in 1811.  I say likely because there is little solid evidence and no family story passed down about their migration or their early life.  I have discovered that there is at least one letter held in the Nantucket Historical Association’s research library (referenced in Sea Letters by Renny Stackpole) that mentions the migration of Cyrus Coffin and family as well as others.  At the time the young Coffin family reached Cincinnati it was a very young town in a very young state.

Abigail was born 30 April 1783 on Nantucket, to Rev. Zebulon Butler and Anna Starbuck Butler.  It was at the end of the American Revolution and Nantucket had been severely economically stressed by the War so life was difficult for many on Nantucket.  Abigail was not yet 4 years old when her mother died.  Her father remarried, to Elizabeth Woodbury, 2 years later but he only lived about 6 months after that marriage.  It has been said that he suffered a long sickness before his death but I have not found any more details.  Elizabeth Woodbury was likely a relative of Anna Starbuck, perhaps her aunt (her mother’s sister).  The records I have seen are not clear.

So, Abigail, the youngest of the three children of Zebulon and Anna Butler, was left with a step-mother.  Elizabeth must have provided the majority of her care from the age  of 6, 7 when her father died.  Her sister Nancy was 14 when their father died and so she and Abigail would have been left with Elizabeth.  Abigail’s brother John was lost at sea the year after their father died.  There is no record that Elizabeth remarried after Zebulon Butler’s death, and she died in 1822.

The Rev. Zebulon Butler family was most probably not part of the Religious Society of Friends (or Quakers) in Nantucket.  Zebulon was called Reverend although I have not seen a particular church affiliation mentioned, and the Society of Friends would not have designated him as a reverend.  Abigail did not seem to have been raised in the Society of Friends.

In March 1802 she married Cyrus Coffin, son of Isaiah and Sarah Folger Coffin.  Their marriage does not seem to have been recorded in any of the local church records that are cited in the Vital Records of Nantucket Massachusetts to the Year 1850, Volume III, Marriages (A-G).  Since it is known that Cyrus’s parents were Friends, it is possible that he was disowned or censured by the Society for marrying outside the discipline.  Certainly Cyrus and Abigail were not members after they migrated to Cincinnati, and did not raise their children as Quakers, although Cyrus’s mother Sarah continued to be a member in Cincinnati.

The image at the top of this post shows Abigail seated next to Cyrus, with their son Zebulon standing behind them.  It is not dated but must have been done between about 1845 and the second half of 1850, certainly no later than 1858.  Abigail died in 1858 at age 75 and doesn’t appear to be quite that old here.  She was buried in the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati in the family plot.


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April Genealogy To-Do

Well, March neither came in like a lion nor left lions-moving_thumb.jpglike one, but I do like these lions so here’s a picture of lions on the move as April moves in.

March saw me plugging away at cleaning up one of my surname computer folders.  I am always surprised at how much time and work it takes.  If only I kept them in organized shape in the first place!  Anyway, I am working on the Salt folder.  I have renamed everything that hadn’t been already filed in a sub-folder, and now am working on each sub-folder (Births, Marriages, etc.) to be sure files are consistently named.  Since I have a project that involves the Salt family line, I am going to follow through and get each folder and file organized or renamed and then the information attached to the RootsMagic database in the appropriate way.  Obviously the way I should be working all along, and not the way I work at all.  This is why I have so many files that duplicate others (can you say re-invent the wheel?) and that have information or evidence about people that isn’t included in my datebase, so that when I look at my tree I don’t know I have evidence to support an event.  Bad Pat!

I have also made a good start on the next new family tree – there is a family wedding coming up in October and I thought I’d get a good head start and hopefully not be driving myself crazy at the last moment.  Both families are local to me, so I hope that will make it easier too.  And it appears that in each there is at least one genealogist already, so that is fortuitous.  Any suggestions about how to turn this new tree into a suitable-for-hanging graphic will be gratefully received.

Finally, I just barely got started on transcribing my William Boorman will, so that is a big goal for April.  This will be another 25 minute a day challenge I think.  The handwriting is not all that easy to read and the file is a little fuzzy.   So challenge it is!  Update next month.

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Phebe Foye Wilcox Myrick (1771-1815)

This will be a short description of my g-g-g-g-grandmother Phebe Foye, who was another of my Nantucket grandmothers who migrated from Nantucket to the Cincinnati area in the early 1800s.  There isn’t a lot of information readily available about Phebe beyond the vital records that show her birth, marriages, and death.  These come from a handwritten page in a family Bible (I think written by her daughter Susan Wilcox Justice), from the Vital Records of Nantucket to 1850 (available online at to subscribers or the NEHGS website) and the Eliza Starbuck Barney Genealogical Record at the Nantucket Historical Association Research Library & Archives which  has been made into a searchable database and is available online through the NHA website here.  Unfortunately the church records from the Society of Friends and 2 other collections of private papers referenced in the Vital Records to 1850 are not available online but only on Nantucket.  So what I have is indexes and extractions from letters published other places to go on at this point.  I’m starting to dream about a research trip to Nantucket!

The vital records that are available for Phebe do not agree with each other as to dates of events, and often do not report the place of the event.  So, I have three different dates of birth ranging from 1770 to 1776 and either September or November as the month of birth.  It is agreed that she was born in Nantucket to Abigail Marshall and Joseph Foye.  Depending on which of these years is correct, Phebe was between 12 and 17 years old when her mother Abigail died in 1788.  It is difficult to pin down dates for her father Joseph, but it seems likely that he was not born in Nantucket and probably died a widow in 1798 (listed in the Vital Records to 1850 for Nantucket).  He doesn’t seem to have remarried, suggesting that the children were all old enough that there wasn’t pressure for him to provide another mother for them.

Phebe married Reuben Wilcox (or Willcocks) sometime between March and October of 1795.  A private collection of papers on Nantucket gives the March date and the family Bible gives October as the date.  Reuben died about 2 years later, leaving Phebe with an infant daughter (Susan) in 1798.  She had a mother-in-law and a married sister who may have been helpful to her and she did not marry again for 4 years.  She married Thomas Myrick in 1802.

Phebe and Thomas Myrick had 3 children between 1803 and 1808 which was also a difficult time in Nantucket economically.  The island community was hit very hard by the Revolutionary War during which it struggled to stay neutral and was raided by both the English and the American rebels who stopped Nantucket ships and took both sailors and goods.  Between the Revolution and the War of 1812 there was increased conflict on the island based on religious differences and growing political ones.  By the time the War of 1812 looked inevitable, many Nantucketers were ready to leave and seek more prosperous places to live.

Phebe and Thomas Myrick reportedly migrated, likely with the Cyrus Coffin family, in 1811 to the Cincinnati, Ohio area.  Farm land was available, with lower prices the further from Cincinnati you went, and Thomas seems to have bought land in Clermont county.  He is listed as being a property holder by 1826.  Phebe had died in 1815 by report, although there are no official records found to support this information, and no other, more anecdotal evidence to describe how or why she died at the relatively young age of 43.  Perhaps if I make it to Nantucket to do some research I will find a letter or other evidence to fill out some of the glaring gaps I see.

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March Genealogy To-Do

trees for blogSince this is a leap year, I have an extra day of Frebruary to finish up projects and look at what I have managed to accomplish.  The first Friday of the month we had a sneaky wintry-mix storm that ended with a beautiful sunset, and cancelled a lot of activities including the day-long workshop I was supposed to be at.  So there was a bonus day at the beginning of the month too.  Given all this extra time, I have managed to finish my goal of renaming and reorganizing my family line Evernote notebooks.  I have made a checklist on my Trello research board for 25 minute challenges and this was perfect for it.  In that spirit, in March I will – 25 minutes at a time – begin renaming all the family files in my computer in the same way.  Some of this has already been done, but I don’t think any of the surname folders are completely renamed.  So which name to begin with?

In February I found and purchased the William Boorman will from the National Archives at Kew.  In March I will add transcribing that as a 25 minute challenge.  It is a single page so I hope it will not be too difficult or take too long.  I did also look for any William Denman wills and did not find any.  In March I will look online to see where else these might be, and I will check the Archives at Kew site for a will for Hannah Gaston Denman (who was the widow of a William and the mother of another we think is in my family line).    Lastly, I will digitize at least one of the family daguerreotypes I have, one that says Sarah Folger Coffin is one of those pictured.  This cannot be, since she died in 1822 and daguerreotypes were not available before 1839.

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