Archive for April, 2011

William and Ursula Hawes of Solihull

30 April 2011 Leave a comment

Anyone who is researching the Hawes family has most likely read Edmond Hawes of Yarmouth, Massachusetts, by James William Hawes. I came across an article while browsing back issues of the NEGHS Register this evening: Reinterpreting the Vital Dates of WilliamB Hawes and His Wife Ursula from Their Memorial Brass (by John C. Brandon). It’s a great article regarding alternate reading the ages/birth dates for William Hawes and his wife Ursula Colles.

Also in the footnotes is a link to a blog that will be of interest to those researching: one entry deals with the St. Alphege Church (where the brass memorial is found) and the other deals with Hillfield Hall (the manor built by William Hawes). There are some great photos.


Philippi-Ensminger Marriages (updated)

28 April 2011 1 comment

(updated from old post to add Nicolaus Ensminger and Anna Elisabetha Philippi)

I think that I’ve sorted out a bunch of intermarriages between the Philippi and Ensminger families of Bas-Rhin, Alsace and later Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  One marriage I have not worked out is between Hans Georg Philippi and Anna Barbara Roth.  I’m not sure who the parents of Hans Georg Philippi are, I’m going to have to consult Wesner’s Alsatian Connections to see if she has his parents. She does not

Georg Ensminger4 (Philipp3, Hans Georg2, Hans Meyer der Einssminger1) married Maria Catharina Philippi3 (Johannes2, Philipp Hensel Philipp1) on 7 Feb 1702 at Waldhambach, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France (source)

Anna Elisabetha Ensminger4 (step-daughter of Philipp3, Hans Georg2, Hans Meyer der Einssminger1) married Johannes Philippi3 (George Hans2, Philipp Hensel Philipp1) on 5 Jun 1691 at Waldhambach, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France (source)

Ludwig Ensminger6 (Hans Nicholas5, Philipp4, Philipp3, Hans Georg2, Hans Meyer der Einssminger1) married Eva Christina Philippi5 (Johannes4, Johannes3 George Hans2, Philipp Hensel Philipp1) on 12 Dec 1752 (source)

Nicolaus Ensminger6 (Peter5, Philipp4, Philipp3, Hans Georg2, Hans Meyer der Einssminger1) married Anna Elisabetha Philippi5 (Johannes4, Johannes3 George Hans2, Philipp Hensel Philipp1) on 18 May 1754 (source)

Bas-Rhin Vital Records, Les Archives départementales du Bas-Rhin, Waldhambach, BMS, 1683-1720, 3 E 514/1, p 132
Bas-Rhin Vital Records, Les Archives départementales du Bas-Rhin, Waldhambach, BMS, 1683-1720, 3 E 514/1, p 127
Ensminger PA 1994, Raymond Martin Bell and Brendan R. Wehrung, (Washington, PA: 1994), CS71.E6 1994., 2-25.
Ensminger PA 1994, Raymond Martin Bell and Brendan R. Wehrung, (Washington, PA: 1994), CS71.E6 1994., 1-18, 2-20.

Destruction of library books

27 April 2011 Leave a comment

This is what I hate about people: they will take a razorblade and cut out about 200 pages of a library book–because they want that information. Photocopy? Transcription? Too much work and too much money for them, it just makes so much more sense to rip it out!

This book deals with land patents and surveys in New York between 1766 and 1882. I am trying to understand the border disputes between Massachusetts and New York, and was hoping it would help. All of the appendices with all of the details and data have been ripped out. The book itself is from 1884, so who knows when they were ripped out. “Ripped out” is also not really accurate, because it was done with a razorblade very cleanly and very precisely. This was not a heat-of-the-moment type thing, this was someone who thought about what they were doing and have the forethought to bring a razorblade with them into the library.

ARGHHH!! Assholes.

Common ancestors

20 April 2011 Leave a comment

io9 has an article about how there are only so many common ancestors that we can all have that’s very interesting and a fun thing to think about. Also interesting is the discussion on most recent common ancestor for the world.

From the article “Why humans are all much more related than you think“:

When we get right down to it, we must face the truth that we’re all hopelessly inbred. It’s a question of basic mathematics – there simply aren’t enough ancestors to go around. To understand what I mean, let’s say you were born in 1975, your parents were both born in 1950, your four grandparents were born in 1925, your eight great-grandparents in 1900, and so on. In other words, your number of ancestors doubles every 25 years the further back in time you go.

If you take this back just 1,000 years, you’ll find that you have well over 500 billion ancestors in a single generation. Considering there’s fewer than seven billion people on this planet – and even that is far, far more than any other point in human history – there’s something seriously wrong here. The solution, of course, is that you don’t have 500 billion distinct ancestors, but rather a much, much smaller number of ancestors reappear over and over and over again in your family tree.

Things like this always bring to mind my own experiences with this sort of thing. One of my friends when I was a child was a Backus whose family was from upstate New York–just like my Backus family (though I haven’t established a link, since we have fallen out of contact). My two best friends (who are sisters) are also my 10th cousins via John Dodge (b 1636, d 1711). My boyfriend is my 10th cousin once removed via John Howland (which my boyfriend doesn’t like to think about). And, with all the fervor over the royal wedding right now, via Thomas Ford (b abt 1591, d 1676) I am the 12th cousin once removed of Prince William, with whom I also attended university (which is also where I met my 10th cousin best friend, and which is a few miles from Dundee, where some of my Irish ancestors lived before emigrating to the US).

It is fascinating the ways in which we are all related, but what I also find interesting is the where–how locations allow for the meeting of these now disparate groups to come together.

A Name Recovered from History: Piecing Together Clues, Collector Identifies Fallen Soldier in Liljenquist Collection

19 April 2011 Leave a comment

Note: I am reprinting this work under the understanding that works made for the US government are not under copyright in the US. This is from the Library of Congress Gazette dated April 15, 2011. It’s a great story of researching the identification of unknown people in old photographs using genealogy. It’s also a great example of the benefits of crowdsourcing and what happens when what was once a private collection is made public to all.

By Mark Hartsell

Piecing Together Clues, Collector Identifies Fallen Soldier in Liljenquist Collection

He definitely knew the face.

The mustache and hat were unfamiliar. But Bryan Watson instantly recognized the eyes, the chin and, especially, that nose – long and flat on the sides.

The title of the photo – part of the Library of Congress collections on Flickr – offered only the sketchiest of information about the man pictured: “Unidentified Confederate soldier in captain’s frock coat wearing hat.”

Watson had been collecting Civil War ambrotypes and tintypes for 18 years, and he never forgot one of these haunting faces.
Including this one.

This captain in the Library’s collection, Watson was sure, was the same man pictured in an ambrotype of an unidentified captain in his own collection.

“Those images burn into your mind, and you remember stuff like that,” Watson says. “That’s why when I saw that picture, I thought, ‘That has got to be the same guy I have.’ ”

Now, Watson needed a way to confirm his instinct – and, hopefully, put a name long lost to history to that familiar face.

The image recognized by Watson is one of more than 700 ambrotypes and tintypes of Union and Confederate soldiers assembled by Tom Liljenquist, a McLean, Va., businessman, and his three sons over a 15-year period and donated to the Library last spring.

Almost 400 of those portraits went on display in the Jefferson Building on April 12 in “The Last Full Measure: Civil War Photographs from the Liljenquist Family Collection,” an exhibition commemorating the sesquicentennial of the war. The exhibit runs through Aug. 13.

The identities of the vast majority of the subjects in the photographs remain unknown.

The Library in December posted the collection to Flickr, a photo-sharing website, for the public to view – and, it was hoped, help fill in gaps in information about the soldiers.

Tracking down long-lost identities of Civil War soldiers is a tricky business – records often contain conflicting dates, ages and spellings.

So researchers gather clues, weigh probabilities and second-guess their own assumptions. Any identification leaves a shadow of doubt without the confirmation of another portrait bearing the same name and a solid provenance.

“When clues exist, such as part of a name with a rank, state, or regiment, you check such sources as the Soldiers and Sailors System and,” says Carol Johnson, photography curator in the Prints and Photographs Division. “But you usually have to make assumptions along the way, for example, that a soldier who lived in North Carolina joined a regiment from that state.”

No soldier in the Liljenquist Collection had been solidly identified since the images went online. A Virginia researcher in December tentatively put a name to an image of a Union soldier, but uncertainties about the name, age and date couldn’t be definitively resolved.

Then, in mid-March, a message appeared on Flickr in the comments section for an unidentified Confederate soldier wearing a captain’s frock coat and a hat and sporting a mustache.

“I am sure I know who this is,” the message read. “I will follow up with the story later.”

Watson grew up far from the heartlands of the Civil War in a small town in Wyoming where he still lives and works as a pharmacist.

Watson loved history, and as a teenager on a family trip to Oregon in 1992 he noticed a photo of a Civil War soldier in an antique shop. The image touched something in him, so he bought it and continued to collect.

“These photographs were like a chain reaction: I just started buying more and more, as much as I could find,” says Watson, now 36.

About five years ago, Watson bought three images – a Confederate ordnance sergeant, a Confederate captain and a South Carolina militia officer – from an estate in Florida.

The photos weren’t put together by a dealer or collector – part of their appeal to Watson. “They’d been sitting together forever,” he says.

Two of the solders were unidentified. But the image of the sergeant carried two inscriptions: a note in period ink on the cushion opposite the photograph read “Father of R I Barnes.” On the back of the image was inscribed “William Sharpe Barnes, 19 years old.”

Watson searched for information on William Sharpe Barnes, found nothing and put the search aside.

Years passed.

Then, in March of this year, Watson viewed the Liljenquist Collection online and saw that familiar face: the unidentified Confederate soldier in a captain’s frock coat.

Beneath the mustache and hat, the soldier bore an unmistakable resemblance to the photograph of the captain Watson bought from the Florida estate.

Watson put the image of the Liljenquist captain on his computer screen side by side with the image of his captain.

The eyes. The chin. The long nose, flat on one side. This has to be the same guy, Watson thought. They are even wearing the same uniform.

The Liljenquist captain wears his coat open with a string bowtie hanging prominently from the shirt collar. Watson’s captain wears what appears to be the same coat, but closed. A string bowtie peeks just above the coat collar.

The same man, Watson was sure, but a man with no name.

Inspired by the chance discovery, Watson resumed his search for information about the soldiers in the photos from the Florida estate.

This time, a Google search on William Sharpe Barnes produced a hit at, an online database of cemetery records.

The database entry, posted in 2009, showed that a William Sharpe Barnes, born in 1843, rose in rank from sergeant to lieutenant to aide-de-camp for Gen. Bryan Grimes of the 4th North Carolina.


The record also showed that Barnes had four children, the last of whom was Ralph Ivor Barnes.

Yep: R I Barnes, the name on the note attached to the photograph.

“How many people have a middle name that starts with ‘I’? Ralph Ivor Barnes? That’s absolutely him,” Watson says.

Watson had positively identified the sergeant in his photos, but what about his ambrotype comrades?

William Sharpe Barnes, the record showed, had two older brothers – including one who served as a captain in the 4th North Carolina.

That brother, Jesse Sharpe Barnes, was killed at the Battle of Seven Pines near Richmond, Va., in the late spring of 1862.

Watson felt certain he had discovered the identity of the captain in the photo from the Florida estate – and, by extension, the captain with hat and mustache in the Liljenquist Collection he so closely resembled.

“How many Confederate captain ambrotypes exist to this day? Not many, perhaps a few hundred,” Watson says. “It’s got to correlate. They’ve got to be brothers. If they were just picked from different areas and put together, I wouldn’t think that. But the fact that they’ve been sitting together for 130 years just made me think that that’s got to be him.”

Watson posted his findings on Flickr, and Johnson and Helena Zinkham, chief of the Prints and Photographs Division, set about to confirm his theory.

Zinkham found information on the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System database that supported Watson’s conclusion: The 4th North Carolina listed only one Barnes who held the rank of captain – Jesse S. of Company F.

Johnson found more corroborating evidence on, and the captain’s entry in the Library of Congress online database was amended to reflect the discovery – the only soldier in the Liljenquist Collection thus far to be positively identified.

The captain with the hat and mustache – his life lost 149 years earlier and his identity lost for decades unknown – officially had his name back: “Captain Jesse Sharpe Barnes, F Company, 4th North Carolina Infantry in frock coat and hat.”

And Capt. Barnes had close, newly discovered relations – a long-lost brother and a clean-shaven, slightly younger version of himself – sitting some 1,700 miles away in Wyoming.

But not for long.

Liljenquist heard about the discovery of his captain’s identity and thought a family reunion at the Library of Congress might be in order. He called Watson and offered to buy the three photos, with the intention of donating them to the Library.

Watson hesitated – selling his best images is the “equivalent of having your dog run over,” he says – but ultimately agreed.

So William Sharpe Barnes and Jesse Sharpe Barnes this month arrived at the Library to reunite with a long-lost comrade, a mustachioed captain in a hat and frock coat.

“The Liljenquist Collection,” Zinkham says, “keeps bringing us good surprises: A family reunion among the photos and a great education in visual literacy and how the ‘history detective’ sources really work.”

Rose (Cassidy) McPeak

19 April 2011 Leave a comment

Researching my Irish roots is frustrating. Irish records are so much more difficult to come by, and with the mass migration, there are just huge numbers of people coming over at the same time, many with the same names.

Neil McPeak married a woman named Rose around 1884. Up until the other day, I had no idea what her maiden name was. On Thursday, I received an e-mail from my mom’s cousin that contained Rose’s maiden name: Cassidy. She also supposedly came from Dundee, Scotland, as Neil McPeak did. While I haven’t verified this (I assume that this comes from a marriage record), I went to work, looking for possible matches. I do have doubts about the reliability of this data–for instance, Neil’s name was indicated as Cornelius, but I have found no evidence of this being his full name.

Rose McPeak is listed in the 1900 Census as Rosa, but as Rose in 1910 and 1920. In all, she is listed as having been born in Scotland in 1861 or 1862. In the 1900 Census, she is listed as having been born in April of 1861. In the 1900 and 1910 Censuses, she’s listed as having arrived in the USA in 1869, and as having arrived in 1880 in the 1920 Census. In 1910, she is listed as having had 12 children, with 9 living.

In Dundee, we find two Rose Cassidys having been born within 10 months of each other.

Samuel Cassidy was born in Ireland about 1835 to Charles and Rosey Cassidy. In 1851, he was living with his parents, sisters Matilda and Ann, and brother Charles in Henderson’s Wynd, Dundee. In 1855, he married Betsy Grimes in Dundee. Betsy was also born in Ireland, and I did not see her in the 1851 census in Dundee. On April 5, 1860 at 4 AM, Rose Ann Cassidy was born to Samuel and Betsy Cassidy in Lyons Close, Blackness Road, Dundee. The parents and daughter lived with Samuel’s parents, brother, and sister Ann at 13 Wallaces in Dundee.

After this, I could not find these Cassidys. There were no death recrods, no census records, or anything else. They disappeared. Cassidy is a pretty common last name. I tried searching for Matilda Cassidy, since that was the least common of the family’s names–but no luck. The family were mainly weavers.

The other Rose Cassidy was born February 16, 1861 at 3 PM to Patrick and Alice (Donaghy) Cassidy at 15 Bernard Street, Hawkhill, Dundee. Patrick Cassidy was a carpet/jute weaver. Patrick and Alice had been married on November 6, 1846 in Dundee. According to the 1861 Census, they had the following children in Dundee: John, Catherine, Mary, Patrick, David, Michael, and Rose. Another daughter, Alice, was born in April 1864 and died in August 1864, after having been ill for 3 months. The mother Alice died April 14, 1864 of a hemorrhage, presumably related to the birth of her daughter Alice. At the time of her death, both of Alice (senior)’s parents were deceased: father James Donaghy, a laborer, and Alice (Haskett?).

By the 1871 Census, this Cassidy family was diminished. While there aren’t death records for Rose, she is not with her father. Patrick Cassidy was living at 9 Bernard Street with his sons Patrick and Michael. With no death record, it’s plausible that she went to live with someone else.

Looking at census records of Philadelphia, there is a Rose Cassidy living with a John and Mary Donaghy in 1870 and 1880 in the area near what is now where the Art Museum is located. In the 1880 Census, Rose Cassidy is listed as being John Donaghy’s niece. Presumably, this is the Rose Cassidy who was the daughter of Patrick and Alice (Donaghy) Cassidy.

Although this probably puts Rose Cassidy, the daughter of carpet weavers who were located a few blocks away from the carpet weaving McPeaks in Dundee, in Philadelphia, it doesn’t put her too close to where Neil McPeak and Rose settled in Philadelphia.

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