Friday, July 8, 2011

Genea-Blogging Works - more help from my readers

There were several very helpful comments from readers on my post Pruning My Family Tree - Catherine Lewis, including:

1)  Howard Swain offered in Comments:

Harry Macy wrote a very useful article, "New York Probate Records Before 1787" in The NYG&B Newsletter of Spring 1991. This is available online at in the members-only area.

As he writes, NY probate records may be in many places including town deed books and notarial records. But the best place to start (for probate after 1664) is the abstracts of wills published in the Collections of the New York Historical Society. These are now online at:  
Scroll down to: New York (County) Surrogate's Court

Your Jonathan Lewis (1715-1785) is in Vol. XIII, p, 251. It appears to me that what you found online was a copy of this abstract (but missing a couple of lines). Note that even though this is quite long, I do believe it is still just an abstract because 1) I've seen others like this that were, indeed, abstracts and 2) note that it begins on p.282 of the liber and the next one starts on p. 285.

In addition to the abstract, the Collections serve as an index to tell you where to find the complete will. Original wills from about 1200 early estates have survived, but this JL is not one of them. So, the best you can do is the version copied into the will liber. The heading at the top of the page shows you that this is in Liber 38. Sometime in the 19th C. these libers were copied. For most, there is thus an original and a copied liber. (I'm never sure which one the page number refers to.)

These have been filmed by the LDS. To find the LDS film number, refer to another excellent resource: New York State Probate Records by Gordon L. Remington. From his Table II, we see that the original liber 38 is on #484023 and the copy is on #866989.

I believe I found your other J. Lewises in these Collections as well as the will of David La Tourette mentioning Jonathan Lewis as a son-in-law (vol VI, p. 315).

Also, I can't believe I forgot to mention that with these NY Historical Society Collections of Will Abstracts, you always need to check vol 16 or 17 to see if there were any corrections. There were quite a few corrections to the early wills and not so many later on. Also, some volumes may have errata or addenda at the start.

2)  Geolover offered in Comments:

Among possibilities are petitions for New Brunswick land grants plus claims of Loyalists petitioning for reimbursement for damages suffered at the hands of Rebels. There can be a variety of family accounts and specific locational information.

If Hutchinson was indeed living in NJ he still might have shared some background with the Lewis family, perhaps in CT or on Long Island, such in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

In the NJ Archives you might find proceedings seizing Hutchinson's land, if he had any, though this might well not help with the Lewis connection. Have you looked at the Secretary of State's website indexing Supreme Court records?

Another possibility is relatives' wills - admittedly a haystack, but one will I saw in NJ Archives had a bit of narrative about a disenfranchised Loyalist son in New Brunswick.

I looked in R. Wallace Hale, _Early New Brunswick, Canada Probate Records, 1785-1835_ (Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, Inc., 1989). The book encompasses abstracts of estate records, not just probates of wills. No estate of a William or Catherine Hutchinson is listed, but several items list William Hutchinson of Saint Johns as fellowbondsman for estate administrators as late as 1834. This suggests that (if the references are to the same person) he had appreciable property to post as surety, so grants, estate records and deeds should be on your want-list. One might find a document referring to something due the decedent's estate from X in New Jersey or NY. There are Lewis' listed in the book as well.

Some Loyalists sold land to trusted kin in order to avoid having it seized by the State. Deeds in NJ are worth looking at, but you probably are aware that a great many land transactions were not recorded until after legislation ca. 1835 requiring recording. Still, the NJ State Archives acquired records of the West Jersey Proprietary a few years ago and has been working on indexing and organization. It also has records of the East Jersey Proprietary. Both have many types of items. One might find some quit-rent records that could reflect transfers of land titles.

The requisite caveat here is that trees often are plausible yet contain little but hot air upon closer examination of records.

3)  Reader Eileen offered in email:

I think if you check with New Brunswick archives, you’ll find the record of William and Catherine being married by his former commanding officer . William was with 1st New Jersey volunteers, and fled to New Brunswick, then moved to Ontario in 1803, settling near Dedrick’s Creek and Backus Mill near Port Rowan.   A lot of records available on-line from New Brunswick archives in Fredericton.

Norfolk County records at the Eva Brook Donley museum in Simcoe, Ontario , including the book on the Hutchinsons by Robert Mutrie have more detail.

I’m still hoping to find out more about William’s first wife and children who died near Philadelphia, and wondering how two of the children stayed with William to arrive in New Brunswick, or survived what killed their mother and siblings and got re-united with their father.  I went to New Brunswick two years ago and found maps showing the original land grant locations to William and his daughter Agnes (from 1st marriage) I think she was given land in lieu of her mother. She stayed in New Brunswick, however her father’s will left something to her or her survivors if they came to Ontario to claim it. 

There are some neat details about William’s Loyalist activities in a book on a website digitalbookindex – under American Revolution/Loyalists.  They have entire books that were discarded from libraries about 1890-1900. There is some info under New Jersey Volunteers website, including modern re-enactments.

I received many clues for further research from these comments.  I added them to my "To-Do" list for the FHL/FHC, for online searches, and for on site research.

I know that a researcher cannot know "everything" about the history and the available records to be found for every locality.  Therefore, I don't have any qualms putting my semi-ignorance on display for all readers to see, especially if it produces research suggestions from knowledgeable readers like Howard, Geolover and Eileen, who have done much more research than I have in these localities and/or on these families. 

I am very appreciative that they were willing to share their knowledge and expertise.   This is the essence of collaboration - and is one of the very best features about genea-blogging.  It is also one excellent reason to join or visit genealogical societies and historical societies in the localities.

The URL of this post is: help-from-my.html

(c) 2011. Randall J. Seaver. All Rights Reserved. If you wish to re-publish my content, please contact me for permission, which I will usually grant. If you are reading this on any other genealogy website (other than through an RSS feed), then they have stolen my work.

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