Civil War Tax Lists on Ancestry.com

I have recently been working with the Civil War Federal Tax Lists on Ancestry.com and on the off-chance you haven’t used them, I thought a quick overview might be beneficial. I have been surprised by how many of my ancestors could be found in the tax rolls and the various facts that they revealed. Here is an example of the taxes for Dr. Thomas Edgar Hunt.  He was probably the most wealthiest of my distant relatives, so he was required to pay many different taxes on his income, carriages, watches, piano and his physician’s license:

Dr. T. Edgar Hunt Federal Tax Assessment 1865

Dr. T. Edgar Hunt Federal Tax Assessment 1865

History and Details of the Law

To raise money to finance the Civil War, Congress enacted an income tax for annual incomes over $600, taxes on licenses (doctors, lawyers, brewers, merchants, bankers, jugglers (yes jugglers and any slight of hand occupations) etc.), taxes on luxury items (watches, carriages, pianos, silver plate etc.) and monthly taxes on certain retail goods and services. During the war, this effected only states that were in the Union, but after the war, Southern states were taxed as well. A detailed article on the law can be found on the NARA website in Prologue Magazine.

Here is an example of one of my Southern ancestors, who after the war went into the retail and liquor business in Arkansas.

Matthew P. McCrary Aug 1869 Federal Tax Assessment

Matthew P. McCrary Aug 1869 Federal Tax Assessment

If your subject was poor, subsistence farmers or away at war, you probably won’t find your ancestors, but I found relatives I didn’t expect to who had luxury items or were tradesmen. So, check everyone who was in the U.S. during this period of time.

Index and Searching

Civil War Tax Lists

Civil War Tax Lists – Ancestry.com

The dates of the tax lists of 1862-1918 are misleading, as the later years of 1872-1918 really only include the states of Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Arizona.  The collection primarily references taxes for the period of 1862-1866. Find the states and date ranges of tax records included in the database here.

States and Years of Tax Records

States and Dates of Tax Records – Ancestry.com

The index has some issues, so be sure to try multiple spellings of the last name, experiment without the first name if the last name is uncommon, and try with and without the county/state.  If you find one relative, make sure you review the whole “District” for other relatives who might not be showing up in the index. Sometimes you will get too many results if someone has a common name for the area. I was looking for James Ramsay Dey in Hunterdon County and surrounding counties in New Jersey and got these results.

James Ramsay Dey Tax List Search

I narrowed down by Hunterdon County and got this:

James Ramsay Dey Tax List Search Hunterdon County

He lived in Warren County in 1862-1863 (the county just northwest of Hunterdon) and moved to Hunterdon County sometime in 1864.  The index did not show him in Hunterdon County, but by reviewing the district pages before and after my Hunt ancestors, I finally find him in Clarksville, Hunterdon County in the 1864 tax rolls.

James Ramsay Dey 1864 Federal Tax Assessment

James Ramsay Dey 1864 Federal Tax Assessment

Tax Districts

I wasn’t sure if I had the correct Bernard/Bernhardt Knorr from Buffalo, New York when I found this record. New York had many districts, so it isn’t clear from “Tax District 30” and the names in the location column that these people are actually living in Buffalo, Erie County, New York.  I was able to confirm that I had the right district by checking this National Archives article for a breakdown of tax districts for each state (scroll down the list for the state and details). In case you are wondering why Bernhardt Knorr had 11 sheepskins? He was a tanner! It seems like an expensive tax to pay monthly and makes me think differently about his economic status.  Perhaps he wasn’t as poor as I always thought.

Bernard Knorr Monthly Taxes for July 1864

Bernard Knorr Monthly Taxes for July 1864

Good luck and if you find something interesting about your family in the index, let me know!

Posted in Civil War, Dey Family, Genealogy General, Hunt Family, Knorr Family, McCrary Family | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Conflicting Evidence: When Did Rev. John McNair Get Married?

A woman ought to know her own wedding anniversary right?  But what if the minister’s records and a letter from the bride conflict?  That is what happens for Susan Adeline Hunt McNair.  When asked for her marriage date to Reverend John McNair by the Princeton Theological Seminary, she sent the following letter which identifies her wedding date as 27 Aug 1838.1

Susan Adeline Hunt McNair Eyears letter to Princeton Theological Seminary

Susan Adeline Hunt McNair Eyears’ letter to Princeton Theological Seminary

Only the marriage records filed by her uncle Rev. Holloway Whitefield Hunt Jr. to the Clerk of Morris County, New Jersey, conflict and report the wedding took place on 21 Aug 1838.2

Marriage Records performed by Rev. Holloway Whitfield Hunt

Marriage Records performed by Rev. Holloway Whitfield Hunt

The logical explanation is that it is a typo, but we need to do an analysis of both documents to determine which might be more reliable.

Marriage record filed by Rev. Holloway Whitefield Hunt Jr.

Rev. H.W. Hunt sent in the registrations of all the weddings he performed from 1832 to Oct 1845 on 10 Oct 1845.3 See note below.

Letter to Clerk of Morris County, New Jersey from Rev. Holloway Whitfield Hunt Jr. on 10 Oct 1845

Letter to Clerk of Morris County, New Jersey
from Rev. Holloway Whitfield Hunt Jr. on 10 Oct 1845 3

  • The record of the Hunt and McNair wedding was delayed by 7 years.
  • It was transcribed from Rev. Hunt’s records and was not the record created in August 1838.
  • A 1 and 7 look very similar and could easily be transcribed incorrectly when Rev. Hunt was copying from his records to the letter he was sending to the Clerk.
  • While, Rev. Hunt was Susan A. Hunt’s uncle and most likely had a close relationship with his niece, he may not have an exact recollection of her wedding date.  From the records he is reported, he had performed more than a hundred marriages in the 13 years; he may not remember the exact date.

Letter from Susan Adeline Hunt McNair Eyears

  • The letter is from Susan Adeline Hunt and she had first-hand knowledge of her wedding date to Rev. McNair.
  • She had celebrated her wedding anniversary for 27 years from 1839 to 1866 (Rev. McNair died in January 1867).
  • The letter is dated 9 Feb 1880 and was 41 years after her wedding.
  • She was remarried to Isaac Eyears and has a new wedding date to remember 15 Sept 1875.
  • In her letter, her 1’s and 7’s look distinctive and there does not appear to be any confusion that she believes her wedding date to be 27 Aug 1838.

In  Genealogy Standards by the Board for Certification of Genealogists, in the section “Reasoning from Evidence, #48 Resolving evidence inconsistencies states:  “identifying evidence items that support each side of a conflict and (b) articulating a defensible rationale for setting aside evidence items that support all but one side of the conflict.”  It goes on to say, that a defensible rationale should be (a) only one uncorroborated evidence item or only one combination of related evidence items supports one side, (b) showing that significantly more error-prone sources and information items supports one side, (c) explaining why evidence for one side is substantially less credible than evidence for the other side, or (d) any combination of rationales a-c.”4

Ideally, I would find additional evidence of their wedding date that could prove one side or the other, but that is unlikely.  I was pretty excited I found two, I just wish they agreed.  But does one week really matter?

So is this an unresolved inconsistency? I tend to want to lean towards Susan’s letter, but could I make enough of a case with the information I have now? What do you think?


 

Sources

1 Letter from Susan Adeline Hunt McNair Eyears to Rev. W. E. Schench, D.D.; Rev. John McNair File; Alumni/ae Files; Special Collections: Princeton Theological Seminary Library, Princeton, New Jersey.

2  Morris County, New Jersey, Marriage Records 1795-1919, Rev. John McNair-Susan Adeline Hunt, 21 Aug 1838; image, “New Jersey, County Marriages, 1682-1956,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939Z-1Z9N-JR?i=167&wc=9XRM-3TG%3A146367501%3Fcc%3D1803976&cc=1803976 : accessed 5 January 2016); citing “Morris County; FHL microfilm 1314456.”

3  Morris County, New Jersey, Marriage Records 1795-1919, letter regarding marriages performed by Rev. H. W. Hunt Jr. from 1832-1845; image, “New Jersey, County Marriages, 1682-1956,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-9880-41922-44?cc=1803976 : accessed 5 January 2016); citing “Morris County; FHL microfilm 1314456.”

4  Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tennessee: Ancestry, 2014) 27-28.

Posted in Genealogy General, McNair Family | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Our Ancestors Ghosts Reaching Out

There are hundreds of stories among genealogists of inexplicable coincidences and miracles that lead to finding dead ancestors, live distant cousins, or stories hidden for years. I loved the one about a young English girl who was planting a sunflower in memory of a WWI soldier. The name she was given turned out to be a 3X great uncle.   Or the New York real estate broker who was brought in to sell a house that turned out to be owned by his great-grandmother.

Battle of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Reenactment May 2014

Battle of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania
Reenactment May 2014

My own little “woo woo” story is when I was on a vacation with my friends in Washington D.C./Richmond area for the NGS Conference in 2014.  We had dinner with another friend of mine from D.C., who told us there was a 150-year reenactment of the battle of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania the following day.  It was at this battle where my 4x Great Uncle Anthony Mattson from Pennsylvania had died.  Of course, we had to go to the reenactment. Later, after the NGS conference, we were able to visit the next battle scene at Haw’s Shop, where the youngest brother Jesse Mattson died of wounds he had received there.  Then we visited Cold Harbor where the 3rd brother David Baker Mattson was shot but survived. I had hoped to visit the Civil War battle sites in between research in DC and the conference, but I hadn’t really put the dates together to realize we were there exactly 150 years after the events happened.  The Mattson’s brothers were definitely reaching out that week and wanted their stories told.

American Ghost by Hannah Nordhaus

American Ghost by Hannah Nordhaus

So I was curious about the book American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Southwest by Hannah Nordhaus. The title is really misleading and I think quite a few people thought they were going to get something like Amityville Horror when they picked this up to read and must have been very disappointed!  Really, it’s Hannah Nordhaus’s personal journey to understand her German great-great-grandmother, Julia Shuster Staab, who immigrated to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1866.  She researches the Staab and Shuster history in Germany and America, which is an enthralling story of German Jews who came to America to find freedom and success. She covers so much territory trying to understand her ancestors, using diaries and records of the family and other pioneers they would have known. She reads newspaper accounts and court records, interviews distant relatives, and travels to Germany to the places Julia and her family lived and visited.

 La Posada de Santa Fe, New Mexico by John Phelan Wikimedia Commons

La Posada de Santa Fe, New Mexico
by John Phelan  (Wikimedia Commons)

Julia is fascinating, a woman plucked from an upper-middle-class German life who travels across the world to a desert with rough cowboys, Native Americans and Catholic priests and nuns.  You may actually know about Julia if you have ever visited La Posada in Santa Fe. This was her house and she is said to haunt it, which is just another venue of research Nordhaus explores.  She sees a variety of psychics throughout the book to determine if Julia is really haunting La Posada and if so, what is the cause of her unhappiness. We learn that Julia struggled with her own demons throughout her life, with the loss of children who died, a philandering and domineering husband and perhaps a fragile mental and physical constitution that may have never adjusted to an environment so different than her home in Germany.

Nordhaus’s research was thorough and her storytelling was riveting. If you are thinking about writing a family history, this is definitely a book you should read.  Family history doesn’t have to be dry.  Though I don’t think the Association of Professional Genealogists is ready to add psychics to their researchers….yet?

Happy New Year and may 2016 be full of blessings for all!

Posted in Books, Genealogy General, Writing Family History | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Rev. John McNair’s Famous Brother-In-Law, Dr. Daniel Kirkwood

Okay, maybe not famous to you and me, but I think if you are an astronomer, you might know who he is.

I first saw mention of Dr. Kirkwood in John McNair’s Princeton Theological Seminary alumni file. He was responding to inquiries about John McNair and his brother Solomon McNair.

Daniel Kirkwood letter pg 1 (PTS Alumni File)

Daniel Kirkwood letter pg 1 (John McNair PTS Alumni File)

Daniel Kirkwood letter pg 2 (John McNair PTS Alumni File)

Daniel Kirkwood letter pg 2 (John McNair PTS Alumni File)

The letter reveals that Daniel Kirkwood is married to Mrs. (Sarah Ann) Kirkwood, the youngest sibling of John and Solomon McNair.  He was quite knowledgeable about his wife’s family. Is it not funny how he writes the letter to Princeton Seminary rather than Sarah Ann? One professor to another? The letter was forwarded to Daniel by Mrs. McNair of Newtown, Pennsylvania.  She had been married to James McNair (2nd oldest sibling) until his death in 1872. The letter also gives details about the youngest McNair brother, Solomon, who also became a Presbyterian minister.

Solomon and Sarah McNair Family

Solomon and Sarah McNair Family

Kirkwood Observatory, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana (Durin at en.wikipedia)

Kirkwood Observatory, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana (Durin at en.wikipedia)

I looked up Daniel Kirkwood and aside from all the genealogy records, I found him in of all places Wikipedia. He studied asteroid orbits, was called the “American Kepler”, and had an asteroid, an observatory, a lunar crater and a street in Bloomington, Indiana named after him. Who knew?

By doing a quick study of the life of Daniel Kirkwood, this is what I learned about the McNair’s:

Kirkwood McNair Timeline

Kirkwood McNair Timeline

So why is this important?

  • We can surmise that John McNair most likely introduced his sister Sarah to Daniel Kirkwood. Sarah still lived with her mother in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and must have been visiting her brother John in Lancaster.  Did they meet at church or some other function? Did John marry them? Time to check Lancaster, PA records.
  • Solomon McNair went to Princeton Theological Seminary too! I need to order his alumni file.
  • The Kirkwood’s move to Riverside, California in 1889 where Sarah’s sister, Mary (McNair) Craven is living.
  • The Reverend’s John and Solomon were both in Lancaster County, PA in 1860’s and would have spent some time together before John’s death in 1867.
  • It shows that Rev. McNair and his family kept in contact with his sister Sarah and Dr. Kirkwood. Despite their physical distances of Indiana and New Jersey, they had kept in touch.
  • By following the geographic travels of Rev. McNair’s siblings, we can see where they overlapped and what type of society, culture and environment they moved in.
  • We can make some assumptions on the level of education and social status of Rev. McNair’s siblings that might have encouraged their marital matches.
  • I need to follow-up to find out where the papers of Professor Kirkwood went (Bloomington, Indiana?) and if they might have any other references to the McNair’s.

Have I mentioned lately how important it is to investigate the siblings?

Posted in McNair Family | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Rev. John McNair, His Inheritance and One of My Favorite Documents

Princeton Theological Seminary John Frelinghuysen Hageman, History of Princeton and its institutions (J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1879)

Princeton Theological Seminary
Hageman, John Frelinghuysen, History of Princeton and its institutions.
Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1879.

Do you have a favorite document for one of your ancestors in your collection? I am betting you do…it is usually one that broke through a “brick wall” or perhaps it has some sentimental attachment, such as a letter from an ancestor? I have quite a few “favorites”, but one of the top five is Rev. John McNair’s alumni file from Princeton Theological Seminary.  It was the mother lode of biographical facts that gave me a map to follow him through his life.

In the last blog entry, I mentioned that neither William McNair nor his brother John received anything in their father Solomon’s will. William had his debts forgiven for the money he borrowed money to buy land in Michigan. But what about John? Why didn’t he get any money from his father’s estate? John’s alumni file helps to answer those questions and so much more.

Solomon and Sarah McNair Family

Solomon and Sarah McNair Family

In Solomon’s 1832 will, he stated:

I Give devise and bequeath to my son John McNair all the

book accounts and advancements that have been Given

or paid for his education; and the sum of twenty dolars

to be Paid to him on the first day of october next out of

my estate in case I should not live to that time……

Solomon McNair's Will 1832

Solomon McNair’s Will 1832

At first this sounded a bit harsh to me. Was Solomon fed up with footing the bill for John’s education?  And what about Rev. John McNair’s educational expenses?  Where did he go and what did he do?  In John’s alumni file, there is a questionnaire from 1872 with all the answers!

Princeton Theological Seminary 1872 Alumni Questionnaire for Rev. John McNair

Princeton Theological Seminary
1872 Alumni Questionnaire for Rev. John McNair

  1. Where and under whose tuition was he prepared for College?   At Newtown Academy under Rev. Mr. Boyd
  1. Date and College of his graduation? Jefferson College PA 1828
  1. Length of time spent by him at Princeton Seminary, and in any other Theological Institution before or after his residence at Princeton.  Between one & two years at Princeton Seminary (1828-30)
Jefferson College at Canonsburg, PA. Crumrine, Boyd, History of Washington County. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts, 1882.

Jefferson College at Canonsburg, PA.
Crumrine, Boyd, History of Washington County. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts, 1882.

John went to Newtown Academy in his hometown for college preparation, run by the Presbyterian minister Rev. Alexander Boyd.  He then attended Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, which was also a Presbyterian institution. It was a “log cabin school” and a cornerstone of spreading religious thought during the Second Great Awakening. After John’s graduation from Jefferson, he attended Princeton Theological Seminary for 1-2 years to prepare for being a Presbyterian minister. He didn’t graduate from there though, which may indicate his father didn’t want to pay for another degree. Another possibility is that in the 1830’s, John didn’t need to complete the advanced degree to become a minister. He may have just needed those 1-2 years of “post-graduate education” to be able to get a “license to preach” from the Presbytery of Philadelphia in October 1831. Solomon was still giving John money in 1832 as he stated in his will, so John was receiving assistance at the age of 25. That explains a lot about what Solomon invested in John’s education.

Solomon McNair's Tombstone at Newtown Presbyterian Church by Rebecca Evans

Solomon McNair’s Tombstone
at Newtown Presbyterian Church
by Rebecca Evans

John is finally ordained as a minister in November 1833 and goes on to preach in many churches across the country. From John’s alumni file, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Solomon supported his son’s education to become a Presbyterian minister both financially and emotionally.  The family was very involved with the Newtown Presbyterian Church, having gone there for 4 generations with many of their family buried in the church cemetery, including Solomon. And after Solomon’s death, his youngest son, also named Solomon, goes to college at Jefferson and becomes a Presbyterian minister – presumably with the funds he inherited from his father. After researching what happened to the other brothers and sisters after Solomon died, I think that Solomon was evenhanded about dividing his estate equally between is wife and children.  John just got his inheritance a little earlier, when Solomon was alive to give it to him.

More interesting tidbits from the amazing alumni file and what it told me about John’s sisters next time.

Posted in McNair Family | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

William McNair (1798-1776) and the Road Less Traveled

We are taught not to have too many assumptions in genealogy, but one custom that is generally true, is that the oldest son inherits the family farm from his father.  When he does not inherit and follow the pattern, there should be a good reason.  In Solomon McNair’s 1832 will, he makes only one statement about his oldest son William McNair.  It sounds a bit terse and one suspects there must be a story behind it.

Solomon McNair 1832 Will Bucks County, PA

Solomon McNair 1832 Will – Bucks County, PA

Transcription:

I give devise and bequeath to my son William McNair the

   two obligations I hold against him with the Interest that is

  due or may become due on them, to be his share of my Estate.

Solomon loaned his oldest son money on two occasions and charged him interest.  This was William’s only inheritance from his father’s estate and Solomon leaves his estate to be divided equally between his wife and 6 of his other children. (His son John McNair doesn’t get a share of the estate either, but that is for another post.)

So, what did William do with the money and where did he go? I found that William left Bucks County, Pennsylvania prior to August 1827 and traveled to the Michigan Territory. When he arrived, he bought land in Tecumseh, Lenawee County and settled down in the undeveloped region in the southeast part of the territory that would later become the state of Michigan.

William McNair Land Patent - Bureau of Land Management

William McNair Land Patent – Bureau of Land Management

Apparently, William wasn’t the type of person to stay in the town where he was born, working on the same farm that grandfather and father had successfully built. He didn’t want to marry a local girl, walk the already well-worn path or do what was expected of oldest born sons.  He had dreams of going west and of creating a new path of his own.

It didn’t take William long to get involved in the local community of Tecumseh. He joined the local militia and became a Colonel by 1832. His regiment served in the Black Hawk War, though Black Hawk and his warriors were captured before William’s troops arrived to the battle. He served as undersheriff of Lenawee County in 1835, when he became involved in a border dispute with Ohio that was called the “Toledo War.”  He plays quite a significant role in taking Ohio surveyors prisoner who were trying to measure the land they believed to be legally part of Ohio. No lives were taken and it sounds a bit humorous from the accounts, but one can imagine this was serious business deciding who really owned the land. He is even called upon to give a description of the event to President Andrew Jackson. Michigan loses this battle for the “Toledo strip”, but wins the war by getting over 9,000 square miles on the Upper Peninsula full of timber and mineral rights, when it is finally made a state in 1837.  It seems that William might have played a big part in getting satisfaction for the state of Michigan!

Disputed Toledo Strip - by Drdpw on Wikipedia Commons

Disputed Toledo Strip – by Drdpw on Wikipedia Commons

William married Elizabeth Robertson, from New York, in 1832.  They had 5 children that lived to adulthood: Eliza (b. 1834), James (b. 1836), David (b. 1840), Sarah (b. 1842) and Agnes (b. 1844).  According to the 1850 Agricultural census, William has 60 developed acres of land and 20 acres of undeveloped land worth $1200.  At some point he sold off 80 acres of land from the original purchase. He grew wheat, corn and oats and had a variety of livestock.

He was involved in Tecumseh community life in a variety of roles as a Michigan State representative in 1849 and later as postmaster from 1853 to 1861.  He died in Tecumseh in March of 1876 at the age of 78.  William McNair lived a full and eventful life, 600 miles away from his hometown, where he could make his own mark on the world.  Proving there is always an exception to the rule and not all oldest sons stay home.

Major General William Sharp (1868-1937) McNair, McNear and McNeir Genealogies by James Birtley McNair (HathiTrust.org)

Major General William Sharp McNair
(1868-1937)
McNair, McNear and McNeir Genealogies by James Birtley McNair
(HathiTrust.org)

P.S. In Honor of WWI – Veterans Day

William’s grandson, William Sharp McNair, went to West Point (class of 1890), received the Silver Star in the Philippines, and rose to Major General in WWI where he received the Army Distinguished Service Medal. http://valor.militarytimes.com/recipient.php?recipientid=17931

P.S.S.

As part of my “standard work” for research, I always check ArchiveGrid.  It’s a bit like playing the slot machine, in that you typically get a cherry, an orange and an apple….nothing matching the name, location and context of the person you are looking for perfectly. You have to look at the collection’s finding aid to see if the documents have anything to do with the individual you are researching.  The more you know about your topic, the better you can quickly determine if it’s a false positive result. I could almost hear the happy cling-cling from the computer, when I plugged in “William McNair, Tecumseh, Michigan.” I finally got something worth checking out at Yale University. There are two letters in the correspondence files of General Joseph W. Brown from Col. William McNair on 28 May 1832 and 17 Jun 1835.  General Joseph W. Brown was from Bucks County, Pennsylvania and moved to Michigan.  Something tells me these letters are from my William McNair. Now I have to get up to Yale University to check them out.

Posted in Genealogy General, McNair Family, World War I | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Rev. John McNair and the Value of Sibling Research

Black Bellied Whistling Duck Family by Matthew Paulson via Creative Commons

Black Bellied Whistling Duck Family
by Matthew Paulson
via Creative Commons

I am finally getting around to turning my University of Washington genealogy class paper on Reverend John McNair into a published book. I had spent a good 6 months of intensive research on the paper and visited both New Jersey and Pennsylvania to do on site investigation, but there is nothing like new eyes to realize how much I missed. I was a newbie genealogist when I started the class and as much as I learned about methods, I didn’t know what I do now 8 years later. I shouldn’t have been surprised that I hadn’t done very much research on Rev. McNair’s siblings, other than to identify their names and some cursory information. My excuse is that I spent most of the paper on Rev. McNair’s adult life, when he was preaching in various Presbyterian congregations around the country, debating, publishing poetry and serving in the Civil War as a chaplain. However, significant parts of his childhood and what happened to his siblings, is a gap as big as the Grand Canyon.  My plans for a quick update to the paper are in the trash and I have a new extensive research plan.

What can you find when looking at siblings? Many, many things – migration patterns, family alliances and tragedies, unknown facts about your direct ancestor and clues about family connections previously unknown.  Last week in the midst of researching his 7 brothers and sisters, I found an article about his sister Mary’s 50th wedding anniversary party in Riverside, California in 1889 that included information about her family:

Miss Mary L. McNair was born in 1812 – in stormy times for the young Republic. There were in all four sons and four daughters, only two of who remain in this land of the dying, Mrs. C. V. Craven and Mrs. Dr. Kirkwood. The McNair’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were elders in the Presbyterian church and of Scotch Irish descent.  Two generations back, on her mother’s side, is a family of Quaker blood and a family which gave to Pennsylvania two remarkably able Quaker preachers. This family’s name was Sampson.  The same family on another branch gave to our country and the world General and President U. S. Grant. 1

What? Quaker’s? Sampson?  This just might be the maiden name I have been looking for Mary McMasters. And a possible distant cousin of Pres./Gen. Grant?  Oh, don’t miss the siblings…and remember to look at old research for new leads.  (See my head hang in shame)

1. “A Memorable Event – The Golden Wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Craven,” Riverside Daily Press, 9 Feb 1889, p. 3, col. 4; digital images,  GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 19 Oct 2015), Newspaper Archives.

Posted in Genealogy General, McNair Family | Tagged , , | 2 Comments