24 January 2011

Goodbye Cotton Kimball!

Circa 1906 Postcard of Haverhill, Massachusetts
I really miss having old Cotton Kimball in my tree. I've got this group of elusive ancestors in the Haverhill, Massachusetts area, and for the longest time, I've had a bad link to Cotton. He has been lurking in my genealogical database since the early 1990s, when I was only just grappling with citing sources, never mind working on getting down to the reliability thereof! I like his name, I must admit, and have not been too anxious to knock him off, but I have been gently collecting evidence to do so for years.

It all started innocently enough with Elizabeth Kimball, whose intention to marry Nicholas Colby on 6 March 1796 appears in the published vital records of Haverhill. The intention does not identify Elizabeth's father, and because of this, confusion abounds, Kimball being a very common name in Essex County.

The genealogy I inherited identifies Elizabeth as daughter of Cotton Kimball and Rhoda Sargeant. They have some interesting ancestors, including the Hon. Nathaniel Peaslee Sargeant, Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, for one; and Hannah Dustin for another. We don't often hear much detail on female ancestors, but Hannah has a thrilling and horrifying story (click on her name to read more about her). I really hate sawing that branch off my family tree.

But alas, Hannah is not my ancestor because her great grandson Cotton Kimball's daughter, aka Wrong Elizabeth Kimball, was born too late and died too early to have been my Nicholas Colby's wife. Instead, Wrong Elizabeth is shown in the vital records to have been born 6 July 1784. Her birth fits in nicely between two of her siblings: George, born 1782, and Susanna, born 1786, so not a lot of space to push around there. This birthdate would have made her an impossible eleven+ years old at the time of Nicholas Colby's marriage. That was enough to start me on the case.

Nicholas was only 18 when he married Elizabeth Kimball, and their first child (that I have found) is Mary King Colby, born 12 Dec 1796. If Wrong Elizabeth were her mother, she'd still be only 12 at the birth–again, not something we see often in these parts. Elizabeth and Nicholas went on to have at least four more children. The family is treated in Frederick Lewis Weis' The Colby Family in Early America, but he omits two children (including my ancestor, of course) and attributes two children of a different Nicholas to this family unit. This is where my information originated. Quite a little muddle to untangle. It would make a lovely family to sort out in an article, but for today, I'll simply mourn Cotton, Rhoda and their ancestors, including this little lost soul.
Gravestone of Nathanael Sargeant, son of the Rev. Mr. Sargeant
(not to be confused with his younger brother, Nathaniel Peaslee Sargeant)
Pentucket Cemetery, Haverhill, Massachusetts
Courtesty of FindAGrave
Consulting the Haverhill vital records again we find a death: "Kimball, Elisabeth, d. Cotton and Rhoda (Sargeant), Nov. 24, 1817." I did consider that Cotton and Rhoda may have had two daughters named Elizabeth. Though rare, it did occasionally happen. One reason I ruled that out was because Cotton's 1824 will does not mention a daughter Elizabeth. Another more convincing reason is that Nicholas Colby and his wife Elizabeth are buried in Linwood Cemetery in Haverhill. Elizabeth didn't die until 1862.

Index to Essex County Probate
I could go on, but I won't. You'll have to read the article which, at this rate, will appear in about 2015... Cotton's not my ancestor. I've known this for a while and have drifted around examining likely Essex County candidates, but turning up no one worth following. I have finally attached her somewhat solidly (thanks to the NH vital records at familysearch.org) to a John and Mary Kimball of Weare, NH. Exciting stuff. She fits in nicely with a birthdate of 1780 (matches date on gravestone, matches age in 1850 and 1860 censuses). She was young at marriage, but there's a world of difference between 11 and 15!

So, I'm bidding adieu to Cotton, but a little excited that I have a theme for my article.
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