I'm guilty sometimes ... of growing my family tree without having sufficient evidence to support the assertions made by other researchers. I can't help it - I see a "reasonable" assertion and adopt it as my own hypothesis. Then I test the hypothesis and, if the evidence is credible, I add the information to my family tree.
This was the case several years ago with Catherine Lewis (1759-1845), daughter of Jonathan and Marie (LaTourette) Lewis of Staten Island, Richmond County, New York. She purportedly married William Hutchinson (a New Jersey Loyalist) in Parr, New Brunswick in 1784, and they had seven children. I saw it in a Rootsweb WorldConnect database. It made sense (although I've found no Lewis folks going to New Brunswick from New York - why would Catherine go? Perhaps she went with William Hutchinson).
Last week, I had talked myself into pruning my tree to disconnect Catherine Lewis from her purported parents and thereby severing my only link to Huguenot French ancestry (I really didn't want to give that up...).
The Surname Saturday post last week was for Catherine Lewis, and I had to decide - should I prune the tree, or leave it alone and accept that it may be wrong?
I decided to do a bit more research on Catherine Lewis and her purported parents. In the process, I found another Rootsweb WorldConnect family tree submitted by Bev Franks. The page for Catherine's father, Jonathan Lewis (1715-1785) is here. Bev has transcribed the will of Jonathan Lewis (thank you Bev!!):
"In the name of God, I, Jonathan Lewis, of Staten Island, Richmond County being sick and weak. I will that my executors shall dispose of all my goods, chattel, lands, mill, and tenements as they in their discretion think fit within 2 years after my decease except such articles as shall hereinafter be bequeathed, and I give them full power to sell all my lands, mills, and tenements within the county of Richmond to any persons and their heirs forever by all such lawful ways as to my executors or their Council learned in the law shall seem fit.
"To my dearly beloved wife Mary, my best horse and riding chair, two of my best cows of her own choosing with sufficient of my household furniture to furnish her room together with the sum of 100 (lbs) for life or while my widow. I will that my executors use 10(lbs) for the further education of my son Joseph. After my debts funeral charge and the above legacies are paid, the remainder of my estate shall be divided among my children in the manner following: to my son Jonathan, one eighth of my estate, to my son David one eighth, to my son James on eighth, to my son Israel one eighth, to my son Joseph one eighth, to my daughter Sarah Degroot, one sixteenth part, to my daughter Catherine Hutchinson one sixteenth, to my daughter Elizabeth Lewis one sixteenth, to my daughter Phebe Lewis one sixteenth. None of the said legacies to be paid to my children until they are twenty one years old, but if my executors have money on hand and shall think proper to make a dividend thereof amongst those of my children that are of the above mentioned age shall have the interest of their dividend yearly for their support till they arrive of full age to receive such dividend or their full legacy. If any of my children die underage their part to be divided among my surviving children. I recommend my executors at the sale of my houses and lands to reserve such part as they think convenient for the reception and continuing of my family together during the life or widowhood of my beloved wife Mary, and after her decease or discontinuance of widowhood such house or land reserved shall be sold as also my negro wench and the money divided as fore said. I appoint my wife executrix, my trusty friend and brother in law, David Latourette, my sons Jonathan and David, all of Staten Island Executors. Dated Oct 28, 1785. Witnesses: Jon Latourette, Abraham Vail (weaver) and Edward Hall (schoolmaster). Proved, Richmond County, Jan 5, 1786."
That seems fairly good evidence that Catherine married a Hutchinson ... but is it William Hutchinson? Now that I know that there is a will for Jonathan Lewis, I can search for the probate records for him. Perhaps there are other papers that define her husband's name. Where can I find these probate records?
The list of Probate Records for Richmond County, New York on the Family History Library Catalog lists five items. However, the first item states that Wills start in 1787. The fourth item (Miscellaneous genealogical records, wills, deeds, etc. 1649-1925, on FHL US/CAN Film 514568, Microreproduction of ms. and typescript at the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences) looks promising, but I really wish that the specific Will collection was available. I added this Film to my to-do list for the next time I get to the FHC or go to the FHL.
for the time being, Catherine Lewis will stay in my database as the daughter of Jonathan Lewis.
What would you do with this? What other records should I pursue? I don't know if there are records in New Brunswick for these Loyalists, or if the marriage record there is available on microfilm (another FHLC search!) or if it is whether it will list her parents names. Or his... William Hutchinson's parents are another brick wall problem!
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