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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01 January 2011

I'm Ancestor Approved!

A pleasant way to finish up the year 2010 was being notified that I've received the “Ancestor Approved" award from Kelly (Coghan) Holderbaum, author of Sunny Ancestry (http://sunnyancestry.blogspot.com/). Thank you, Kelly! I hadn't read Kelly's blog before, and am glad to have discovered it, it's really good!


The “Ancestor Approved Award” was created by Leslie Ann of "Ancestors Live Here" in March 2010, and has been passed along to many genealogical bloggers. Recipients are asked to make a list of ten things they have learned about their ancestors that have humbled, surprised, or enlightened them. Then they are to pass on the award to ten other bloggers who are doing their ancestors proud. 

Being a professional genie and all, I'd like to extend the criteria for the "Things I've Learned" list to include clients' ancestors as well!

1. I had a hard time letting go of Cotton Kimball as the father of Elizabeth Kimball wife of Nicholas Colby of Haverhill. Cotton has some great people in his line, especially fearless Hannah Duston, of scalping fame. But this year I replaced him with John and Mary (Kimball) Kimball, so now I have twice as many Kimballs as I thought.
Hannah Dustin/Duston of Haverhill
Photo Courtesy: Prof. Joseph Modugno (Hawthorneinsalem.org)
2. I've learned how to say no when asked to help with volunteer activities. I already do too much and though I want to help all of the societies to which I belong, there just ain't enough of me to go around! To remedy this dilemma I just switch around from society to society. This is good for networking, also.

3. When working as a consulting genealogist at Ancestors Roadshows, etc., I've learned that most people don't have questions they want to ask me. Almost everyone simply wants to tell me what they've done and who their ancestors were. A little validation of their research techniques goes a long way! 

4. Tom Jones (Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL) taught me that just because you write as you go along doesn't mean you're not going to have to write the whole danged thing over again because of something you discover towards the end of your journey. One little piece of evidence can make you have to reorganize the presentation of your data, and if you don't do it, you're not able to prove your point effectively. Thank you, Tom! 

5. I keep thinking of a trip we took to England when I was 6 months pregnant and my eldest child was 18 months old. The flight was delayed, he got completely hyped from being overtired and cried (screamed) his way across the Atlantic Ocean. We were mortified at the horrible experience we were providing for our dagger-eyed fellow passengers. We were seated in the middle of the 5-seat row and the hostesses totally ignored us, even when he threw up while we were landing. This took all of 18 hours from start to finish, I had my husband and good friend to help, and still I think of the trauma! Recently, I was researching a lady from the Azores who came over with her 2-year old and a 9-month old in 1907 by ship. Who knows if she may have been pregnant? I keep thinking of her now and being awfully glad we were able to fly to England rather than take a ship! What a whiner I am!

SS Peninsular
Courtesy The Guiod Family Website

6. I've learned that it is much better to just hand over a not-quite ready gedcom file to a friend than to make her wait another ten years because I've almost discovered something else. This is humbling.

7. It makes me feel centered and calm to study the past. Researching ancestors and reading about the history of countless localities has an effect on you after a while. You see patterns in behavior, in the ways that people react to certain situations and it makes you feel like the past is not so distant. You feel like you can predict the outcome of so many events based on whether or not people are paying attention to the past.

8. Plenty of people know very, very little about their ancestors, even as close as their own grandparents. Most people cannot name their eight great-grandparents. While not beneficial to those people, it is good for the professional genealogist because it brings more clients our way, but more important, gives us the gift of telling people about their own families and seeing their happiness as a result. I love this!

9. Having a family reunion is a great way to get the entire extended family interested in genealogy. It brings out photos (Essie, I haven't forgotten your album!), introduces people with different political beliefs, or from different parts of the country to the concept that they have much in common with each other, starting with 99 percent of their ancestors, and makes for great deviled egg consumption!

My nephew John Kemmett, cousin, Esther (page) Klaiber
and brother Tim FitzGerald
Barnes Family Reunion 2010
10. Twentieth century research is tough! The completely new dimension of dealing with live people is introduced and suddenly we have to be conscious of people's feelings and sensitivities! This is scary, but worthwhile in that we get to bring families together!

Blogger awards are a great way to get to know my fellow bloggers because they usually have a requirement that you pass along the admiration, so below you will find my top ten favorite blogs. The challenge lies in winnowing down my list to just ten. I just can't believe how many great writers there are out there! And how fascinating the variation in people's approaches to genealogy. Some of them encourage me by their own dogged research, others keep me up to date on technological issues,  a few make me want to call them and enjoy a loooooong cup of coffee together discussing life and ancestors, and the rest are just plain entertaining! I hope you enjoy them all as much as I do!  I hereby pass the "Ancestors Approved" award to the following geneabloggers (in no particular order)!

1. Heather Rojo's Nutfield Genealogy
2. Bill West's West in New England
3. Marian Pierre-Louis's Marian's Root & Rambles
4. Anne Morddel's The French Genealogy Blog
5. Paula Stuart-Warren's Paula's Genealogical Eclectica
6. Mel Wolfgang's Mnemosyne's Magic
7. Stefania [unknown]'s L'origine della famiglia Basaba
9. Susan Petersen's Long Lost Relatives
10. Caitlin GD Hopkins' Vast Public Indifference