Friday, December 16, 2011

Follow-Up Friday - The William Knapp Search

I've been trying to Follow-Up on Fridays to answer comments received on Genea-Musings posts and questions in email. This post will cover issues raised concerning my search for the parents of William Knapp (1775-1856).  For reference purposes:

My Elusive Ancestor - William Knapp (1775-1856) (9 October 2006)
Possible Knapp Families in Dutchess County NY - Post 1: The 1790 U.S. Census (14 December 2011)
Possible Knapp Families in Dutchess County - Post 2: The "Nicholas Knapp Genealogy" (15 December 2011)

Here are comments and questions from correspondents, and the answers I have today:

Q.  Anonymous asked in a Post 1 Comment:

"Did William have sons who might have been named after his father? I'd look at families headed by men of those names as a priority."

A.  Good comment.  Russ Worthington listed the children in a comment on the same post.  I will list them in an upcoming post, and analyze them.

Q.  Connie recommended in email:

"I would start with a list of your William's children and grandchildren. Then eliminate any names that you are sure came from his wife's family.... father - mother - siblings (you can go back to them later) then compare your remaining list to the given names in 1790 as a jumping off point for future research. A Phineas would be a stroke of luck. I'd also look for abstracts of wills and deeds for each area, since they usually have every-name indexes and you may find William there."

A.  Excellent ideas, and I will do this in an upcoming post.

Q.  Howard Swain had several suggestions in a Comment to Post 2 above:

"You might try looking for a Knapp will naming "my son William". NEHGS has recently put the Eardeley will abstracts online:  Abstracts of Wills, Admins. and Guardianships in NY State, 1787-1835. I looked but didn't find anything helpful.

"There is a very interesting article by Henry Hoff in the latest (Fall 2011) issue of American Ancestors (the newsmagazine of NEHGS) titled "Navigating New York Probate". He mentions that in 1830 there was a NY law passed that required a petition listing all heirs of a decedent. The FHL has microfilm of them for some counties. From a table he shows, it looks like they have Dutchess Co. for 1793-1868. As they say, Read the whole thing.

"And, if you want to pursue the probate angle, you should read New York State Probate Records by Gordon L. Remington. It has been newly updated and is available from NEHGS.

"I'm curious how you know he was born in Dutchess Co. Do you know where he and Sarah were married? Where did he die? Have you searched for an obit?"

A.  Thank you, Howard, for the ideas.  My responses:

*  The last time I checked, the NEHGS database did not have Dutchess or Putnam Counties.  Now it does, so I've added this to my to-do list.

*  I read the American Ancestors article.  I have the Dutchess County NY probate records on my to-do list for my trip to the FHL in February.

*  I have accessed the first edition of the Gordon Remington book, and need to read it again.

*  The only clues I have for William's birth in Dutchess County NY is the 1850 U.S. Census which shows him as age 75, born in New York (enumerated in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey), and the death record in the New Jersey records that I abstracted as (it is also on now):

"William Knapp, died of Old Age, died 16 June 1856, Newton [Sussex County] NJ, age 81, shoemaker, born Dutchess Co., NY [no parents listed]"

The source citation:

New Jersey State Library, "Records of births, marriages, and deaths of New Jersey, 1848-1900," Volume AF, 1848-1867 (Sussex County), page 655, William Knapp entry, FHL Microfilm 0,584,582.

Both of those records indicate a birth year of about 1775 in New York.

*  I don't know where William Knapp and Sarah Cutter were married.  My hypothesis is that they married in about 1804 in Woodbridge, Middlesex County, NJ.  Sarah was the daughter of Stephen and Tabitha (Randolph) Cutter of Woodbridge, and the birth record of at least one of their first eight children is in the Woodbridge records.

*  William Knapp died in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey, and is buried in the Old Burying Ground there.

*  I have not found an obituary for William Knapp yet, although I have only looked in online newspaper resources.  That's another to-do list item the next FHL visit or Newton NJ visit.

Q.  In a Post 2 comment, Martin noted:

"Where does William claim to have been born in the 1850 and 1855 censuses?

"Which families from the 1790 census in Dutchess county with a son under 16 have a son over 16 in the 1800 census? 

"Have you used the series the Beekman Patent? They have passed the K's so, it should have everyone listed.."

A.  Good suggestions:

*  In the 1850 U.S. Census, William claims to have been born in New York.  There is no 1855 census for New Jersey.

*  I haven't looked at the 1800 census for New York for entries with a white Knapp male aged about 25.  He may have been in New Jersey by 1800, and there is no 1800 U.S. Census available for New Jersey.

*  I have a photocopy of the Knapp section of the Settlers of Old Beekman Patent by Frank J. Doherty, and will evaluate those families in an upcoming post.

Q.  In an email, my CVGS colleague Susi suggested:

"I have some suggestions for follow up on Knapp. Look at the 1800 census and compare how many boys leave that bracket. It will help weed out some of those you won't need to look at.  Also look for school lists, church rolls, town council meeting minutes, and how many other Knapp researchers have you collaborated  ? with?"

A.  Another good list of suggestions:

*  The 1790 census had age groups of under 16 and over 16 for males.  The 1800 census has age groups of 0-10, 10-16, 16-26, 26-45 and over 45.  It will be difficult to correlate these, but I may try.

*  I've added school lists, church rolls, and town meeting minutes to my to-do list to search at the FHL and on a trip to Dutchess County NY.

*  I've emailed with over 30 other Knapp researchers with New York ancestry over the last 24 years.  None of them could help me.  I've posted on message boards and mailing lists.  I've reviewed most of the published Knapp surname books.  I checked the Knapp Family Association bulletin that was on an FHL microfilm. 

Q:  Richard emailed me, saying:

"Here are two URLs that may be helpful:
Dutchess County Historical Society:
Dutchess County Genealogical Society: "

A:  Yes, very helpful.  They look like candidates for a visit to Dutchess County!

I think I'm up-to-date on this!

Russ Worthington is continuing his review of the research problem and is chasing Knapps in New York and New Jersey.  See his posts listed in File Sharing and Brick Walls - Russ Examines My Database.  I provided Russ two GEDCOM files and he has set up a shared Ancestry Member Tree in order to capture and share his findings. 

Thank you to my readers and colleagues who have been helping me with this elusive ancestor problem.

1 comment:

Sharon said...

Hi Randy:

In fact there is an 1855 census for NJ. Also 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915.

1855, 1865 and 1875 only exist for some counties. 1855 does exist for Sussex Co. However, it lists only name (usually only head of household), age groups, native or foreign born. Some townships do list all family members.

From 1865 on all household members were listed. As with the Federal census, records get more detailed with each census. By 1905, census schedule looks just about like 1900Federal census.

Sussex County records exist for all of these state censuses.