Monday, November 10, 2014

The Troutman wrap-up and what I found that I didn't know

If you've been following along as I tracked down the life and times of Peter Troutman and his descendants down to my sweet and dear Grandma Kelly, you'll know how much fun I've been having. I've traced the line from Grandma Kelly back through her mother, Moretta (Workman) Zeller, and then her mother, Nancy Ann (Troutman) Workman, then her father Benjamin Franklin Troutman then to the patriot, Peter Troutman. The land records were plentiful and yielded much as did the court records and estate papers. I started to realize that vital records are nice and easy but all the other records just mentioned sometimes give a much fuller picture of what was going on in a family.

When I finally got back to Peter Troutman's generation I felt like I had arrived at my destination! He was the one who fought in the Revolutionary War, and moved from Berks County in Pennsylvania to Somerset County in the western part of the state taking advantage of his military land grant. He settled there and became a part of the community. He farmed, of course, but he was a weaver and carpenter. With other men from the Southampton community, they rebuilt the Comp Church after a fire destroyed it.

His son, Benjamin Franklin Troutman, remained in the area also farming and working as a gunsmith. He went down to Cumberland, Allegany County, Maryland to work as an apprentice to a blacksmith and learn the trade. But then look! His father was a carpenter and he probably learned much of that craft from Peter. So he knew carpentry and metal working and used those skills to become a fine gunsmith. He's listed as such in a book about gunsmiths of the region. It is said that he was a "fine musician" and played the fiddle.

He apprenticed in 1807 and married in 1812 so I'm wondering if he met his young bride while sojourning in Cumberland because she was from Maryland. Oh, and I should mention that Cumberland and Southampton are about 15 miles apart.

His daughter Nancy Ann Troutman married Elisha Workman from a prosperous and landed family in Western Maryland. Their families resided just 12 miles away from each other. Until quite recently I had difficulty organizing some of the records for Nancy Ann. Growing up she was called Nancy, but once she married she became Anne or Anna, or even Angeline. Maybe I had three different people? But no. Once I made a list of which name she used and when I could see how it went. Her birth family called her Nancy, a diminutive of Anne. It was only in her marriage that she was also called Angeline. All the same person.

I don't really know why knowing such details of these ancestors lives makes me so happy, but it does. I guess it gives them some flesh and bones. Early on when I first started doing genealogy I read something that's stayed with me. The writer said that it's what the dash represents, the one between the birth and death years, that's the most fascinating part of this work. Yes it is!

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bounty Land records... and the elusive records for Peter Troutman

Lately I'm obsessed with one of my ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War, Peter Troutman. I've written about him recently and about the quest for his estate papers. After finding what I was looking for I moved on to his bounty land papers. I had a lead and a number from a DAR record: BLTW#40921-160-55. Now what the heck did that stand for?!

Oh sure, I googled. That was a lesson in pure frustration. Sometimes googling is not the way to go.

I really like digging around the Pennsylvania Archives online. This link is my favorite and leads you to a page about Research Topics. Notice the list on the left and you'll see "Genealogy". Under that you'll see a tab for "Land Records" and that's where the bounty land goodies are kept. If you scroll down the page you'll see a good explanation of the whole bounty land process, and that's helpful. As I understand it, the soldier or his widow would first make application for land given out as a bounty or special payment to the infirmed soldier or the widow. There were local lawyers and agents to be dealt with and papers to fill out and letters to write. So the land just wasn't given out as a bonus pay but as a thank you from the government to the old warrior hard on his luck and not able to work, but only after some proper documentation and proper checking. And you know how we genealogists love documentation!!

After the application was approved, a warrant was issued to instruct the surveyor to go survey the actual land and provide a plot map indicating boundaries. This step also initiates the production of a title, which is not finalized until later.

Next step is the survey. We've all seen the old survey maps and the strange measurements and notations on them. I am especially fond of the old surveys that identify landmarks like an oversized rock or old oak tree.

Once the survey is completed it was, at lest back then in the late 1780s, copied neatly into a survey book. Next, a return with written description of the land was conveyed in Pennsylvania from the office of the Surveyor General to the Secretary of the Land Office.

The last step was that a patent was issued with title to the land conveying clear title and all rights.

As much as I enjoy a stumble through the old land records of the fine state of Pennsylvania, I ended up sending an email to an archivist asking for guidance. I included the cryptic code from the DAR record of BLTW#40921-160-55 and asked if he had any idea what that meant and where I might find it. I thought it would take a couple of days to get a reply, but one came back in an hour or two. Here's what he wrote:

“B.L. Wt. 40921-160-55” refers to a Federal Bounty Land Warrant (40921=warrant number; 160=number of acres; 55=act of 1855). The warrant would not have been for land in Pennsylvania. You’ll want to search the unindexed bounty land applications and surrendered warrant files at the National Archives in Washington D.C.

It was a federal bounty land warrant!! I thought it was a State of Pennsylvania warrant. So that's why I couldn't find it. And look what he wrote: The warrant would not have been for land in Pennsylvania!

Long about that time one of my internet Troutman researchers provided a transcribed document that spelled out that this land grant number belonged to the widow!! If it was the widow's, where was the patriot's land grant... if he had one? And so I dove back into the Pennsylvania Archives. Only this time I found it!!!

See that notation on the top image referring to the west side of the Little Allegany Mountains? And the mention of the township? That's exactly where the Troutman family settled when they moved from Berks County to Somerset County. It's right there near the Comp Church at Comps Crossroads, the church that Peter and his neighbors built, and the churchyard where he and his wife and some of his children are buried. Yes, this was his land grant for certain, this was Peter Troutman's land, my 4th great grandfather. And I'm glad to have found it.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Benjamin F Troutman's estate file and a genealogical good deed

I'm always amazed at the willingness of strangers to come forward and offer help to fellow traveler genealogists! It warms my heart when I hear of such tales but when it happens to me, honestly, words fail. Here's what happened.

I was stumbling around and not getting very far establishing a connection between my gg grandmother, Nancy Anna Troutman (1826 - 1882) and her father Benjamin Franklin Troutman (1780 - 1856). Oh, there was no doubt in my mind that they were father and daughter, but proof was what I was after. (You can read about that proof here.) Ever have that happen, when you just know there's a familial relationship but the documents elude you? Well, that's where I was.

I knew exactly what I needed, and it was in Benjamin F. Troutman's estate papers. He had a will, so there was that, but it stated "all my children", which is of no use to us at all. "What are their names," I kept asking him in my mind. Why couldn't he have taken a minute and had the foresight to just name them all? But he didn't. Yeah, sometimes it's like that.

So where was I going to find that list of children? Had to be in the estate papers. I looked around the internet in the usual places for mention of the estate papers and a list of heirs and sure enough, clues indicated that there were estate papers and they named all the children.

I picked up a clue that the genealogical and historical society in Benjamin's residential county had them so checked their web site. Sure enough they provided a research service for a fee. I filled out their research request form and mailed it with a check with a fee for copying the rumored 27 pages in the file. I know these things take a while so I waited and waited. Finally there was a letter that said they lost some staff and were backlogged and it would be even longer before they could work on it. Too bad for me.

Now what? I put out some feelers to folks I had met online in my search for the Troutman family and someone suggested going right to the county courthouse. It was rumored that if you could find the right person they would copy stuff for you! Wow! Couldn't wait to call.

I called. Found the right person. Jeff was his name. He did it, he found the pages I needed and scanned them, and ... drumroll please... emailed them right to me right then! I couldn't thank him enough. It was easy for him to do, so why not, he said in an email. And he really would rather not have to print out a copy, slide it into an envelope and use postage to mail it. Free and easy all around, and one super happy customer.

Sure, I know that this isn't the only county that does this and Jeff isn't the only county clerk to jump in and find a record. It's just that when you really want a specific record and it means a lot to you, and then one person come to the rescue it feels like so much more. I know you "get this".

Nancy Anne (Troutman) Workman (1862 - 1882).

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Fishing for Troutman and catching some links

The adventure continues as I amass documents and make links along my Troutman line. Dad's mother, Helen (Zeller) Kelly's mother's line climbs back up the family tree to two notable families of Western Maryland, the Troutman family and the Workman family. Both are listed on the DAR patriots list so I wanted to know more about their service and what else I could find out about their lives. Add to that the fact that these two families lived about 12 miles from each other in the mid to late 1700s and... how could I not investigate?!

The game was to crawl back in time and look at each generation as I go knowing full well that the terrain gets more challenging back past 1850 and that wonderfully delightful 1850 census. (After working in the "dark ages" before 1850 for a while and then moving up in time to the glorious 1850 census, it feels to me like someone opened a window!)

I started with my Grandma Kelly making sure all vital records that were available for her and husband Gustav Zeller were in the file and scanned as well. At this point, the name of my overall genealogy game is to double and triple check to make absolutely certain that I've requested every available vital record for each ancestor. As you've probably found out, the archives and state vital records folks too quickly run out of goodies for us and we face that ugly message, "the first death certificates were required in Maryland in 1898." So I want to make absolutely certain that I have grabbed all the low hanging fruit that I can. But I digress from fishing.

Grandma Kelly's mother was Moretta (Workman) Zeller (1859-1946) and her mother was Nancy Ann (Troutman) Workman (1826-1882) who married Elisha Workman (1816-1864), and I blogged about Elisha recently and you can read that here. Nancy Ann sported a number of names throughout her life and that was not a help when tracking her in records, I want to tell you! While with her birth family she was Nancy but once she got married she was either Anna or Anne, except for a little while when she was Angeline as she is listed in the 1860s census. Some legal documents and her will show her as Anna A. Go figure.

Anyway, that name thing was a bit of a problem because how do you prove that the Nancy in the estate papers of her father, Benjamin Franklin Troutman (1780-1856), is the same person as Anna A. in her will? How, indeed! Then I found Daniel.

Daniel Troutman was Nancy Anna's brother, and you can see that relationship in the way the names are listed in her father's estate papers. Did I tell you about her father's estate papers? No? OK, let me get back to that in another blog post because it's a heart-warming story about genealogical kindness. Here's a look at a the disbursal list from Benjamin's estate.

As you can see there, Nancy Anne is listed as "Nancy Workman". There, on the list above her name is Daniel, listed as "Danl". Presuming as we do that "heirs" is children unless otherwise stated, he's her brother. Having her listed as Nancy Workman is a lucky find because it narrow down the possible candidates who could be "Nancy Workman" and points directly to our girl. Oh, and did I mention that one Daniel Troutman is listed as the administrator of Nancy Anna's husband, Elisha Workman? There ya' go. The two generations are linked.

In looking for and finding the vitals of an ancestor I sometimes get so excited when I find gold that I forget to look for records that link the generations. Gotta stop doing that. The links the thing.
Nancy Anna (Troutman) Workman (1826 - 1882).

Sunday, October 26, 2014

He died of syphilis

During WWI the first cause of absence from duty was Spanish influenza and the second most prevalent reason for absence from duty was due to syphilis. There was no penicillin then and one of the most commonly used "cures" was injections of mercury. As you can imagine, that didn't go well. It wouldn't be until after 1943, just in time for the Second World War, that science would ride to the rescue with penicillin. But before that it was pretty much take your pick: die from the symptoms of syphilis or from the symptoms of mercurial poisoning. Even when penicillin appeared, it was only effective in the primary or secondary phase of the disease. Once the disease reached the tertiary stage and went to the nervous system or the brain, you were a gonner.

Our ancestor went off to WWI as did so many of all of our ancestors. I've written here previously about Mom's Uncle Jimmy who was gassed during that war and it's definitely not him I'm writing about now. No, this is a very distant cousin of Mom's who served overseas and possibly brought home an unwanted "present" for his wife, although I don't know for sure about her. He died of complication of this deadly STD at the Veteran's Hospital in the state where he lived, and he died about 1940-ish, just a couple of years before the widespread use of penicillin, which is too bad. The records indicate that he'd had it for at least 20 years, and the last three years of his life were the worst of it as it spread to his brain in the third stage, thus necessitating institutionalization.

Of course you know how we are as genealogists. We learn of something such as this in our family, even if it is out on a sort of remote branch of the family tree, and have to go search about it! Our neighbor down the street is a doctor who worked at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) before he retired, and while walking dogs I asked him what he did there and he said that his area was sexually transmitted diseases or STDs. In an effort to make small talk, we chatted about the prevalence of syphilis now. (Stop laughing, we did!) He said that these things go around in certain populations in waves and that a couple of years ago syphilis was the most common STD right here, locally. Really?! I guess I thought these things were all but eradicated due to condom use and easy cures. Not so, he said. (For more about brothels and the British Expeditionary Force during WWI, click here. Did you know that officers were given condoms but enlisted men were not?)

The dangers of STDs were known during WWI and recruits were trained not to succumb to temptations and not to visit brothels while being shown some pretty scary pictures of those who did not resist. Sometimes that scare tactic worked and more often it didn't.

As I often remind myself, we weren't there and we don't know what happened, so I don't judge.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

It's been a while.

Gosh, it's been a couple of weeks since I've posted here and there were some big doings in the family that kept me away. My brother got married thus adding another leaf to the family tree, and this is a lovely one. They've known each other 40 years and now it's official. The families and friends were thrilled. Mom's thrilled too, and she stole the show when she answered, "I do" with my brother! I don't know whether she was afraid that he'd forget the answer or if it was just pure enthusiasm. Here's Mom, now 96 years old, smack in the middle of the happy couple.

They were married in St. Michael's Catholic Church in Frostburg, Allegany, Maryland, the same church where Mom and Dad were married and where Dad's parents were married on 30 September 1913. 101 years of family weddings in the same church!
So that lovely wedding took up most of my time while visiting Mom. Last time I visited which was last summer, she and I made plans for this trip which included trips to cemeteries and a historical and genealogical society over the boarder from Western Maryland where she lives and into Pennsylvania in Somerset County. But as you see, all that went out the window, happily, as we took the bride to have her hair and nails done the day before and then went around to check on details. It was a whirlwind time with family!
When I got home, the boxes of Mom's genealogy materials that I'd packed and shipped arrived not long after the suitcase was empty. Three good sized boxes packed full of treasures arrived on my doorstep and I unpacked them with uppermost care. Lovingly, each item was placed into its new home. There was about one-third of Mom's surname binders, a book about the Troutman family, paper dolls given to Mom by Aunt Marg about 95 years ago, and Mom's high school graduation picture in its original paper folder. Mom's copies of Western Maryland Genealogy, a small format publication that's no longer in business is now with me and I can't wait to dig into those.
And there's one last binder: Mom's collection of death records and obits for the family. I dusted it off and got a cup of tea and curled up to read about the adventures of one family's members. I love reading death certificates because they give up so much information. I sipped my tea and learned and learned. Connections were made, causes of death revealed life style and genetic disposition, maiden names were verified. I can only imagine how much fun I'm going to have looking at the dozen or so other binders!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Elisha Workman c1820 - 1864: Fun with probate files

I'm digging around two of my ancestral families on my father's side, namely the Workman and Troutman families. If you look at a map of Western Maryland and find the little town of Frostburg and it's neighboring village of Mt. Savage, then follow the road up 12 miles into Pennsylvania and see Southampton, you'll have traced the path between the Troutmans in Southampton and the Workmans in Mt. Savage.

Nancy Ann Troutman lived in Southampton with her parents and her father Benjimin Franklin Troutman was a famed gunsmith. Somehow she met and married Elisha Workman, from down in Mt. Savage, of the Workman family who were big landowners in that area. The patriarch of this landed group in Maryland was Isaac Workman (1742 - 1827). One of his sons was John (1779 - 1859) and his son was our Elisha (c1820 - 1864). When Isaac came to the area he grabbed up as many of the military lots from the Revolutionary War as he could. In the end he and his sons owned a cool dozen of those 50 acre parcels given to the soldiers who fought. How he managed to get that many contiguous lots together, I can't even guess!

A section of the Frostburg State University military lot maps in Western Maryland.
Notice "Workman's  Desire" just to the left of center.

It was long thought that all of those Workman men had fought in the Revolutionary War and had been awarded lots for service but further examination of the records show no such thing. Isaac did however swear an Oath of Allegiance.

For a while the boys all farmed together but some decided to move to Knox County, Ohio, so when old Isaac decided that farming was probably a younger man's game he sold or gave some of his lots to his sons. Some of those sons later moved to Ohio and rented out the land to Isaac's grandsons. By the time Elisha came along he had to rent two parcels from his uncles in Ohio.

When Elisha died in 1864, he was renting at least two parcels from his uncles Cuthbert and John L. Workman. I wouldn't have been able to piece all of this together without the probate papers. He died intestate and so his property moved through the usual probate system, leaving a dandy trail behind for me to eventually follow. I'm thinking that because this family all left extensive wills designating the ownership of their land, Elisha might have died unexpectedly and suddenly and had no time to make up a will. A farming accident, perhaps?

Elisha must have had quite the big farming operation because a reading of the estate inventory provides a dandy window into their property. I find about two dozen cows, a dozen horses, so many pigs I stopped counting, wagons and other farm equipment. The household items were sold back to the Widow Workman, but the bulk of the heavy farming equipment and most of the livestock were sold to other farmers.

It was interesting to find that while Elisha Workman rented the land he worked from the uncles in Ohio, he purchased a couple of hundred acres in the not too distant area of Accident, Maryland, which he rented out.

I'm willing to bet that Elisha over on The Other Side felt bad about leaving this world without having made a will. But, on the other hand, it sure did give me a dandy picture into his life and family!

His wife was Nancy Ann Troutman and she's interesting in other ways. Guess I'll have to write about her too.

Partial inventory from property sale of Elisha Workman's estate.

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