Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Charles Atkinson

Charles Atkinson

Problem: Was he born in Lancaster Co., PA or Cumberland Co., PA.
JoNelle Linnaus lists, Northumberland Co., PA.

QUESTION: Can anyone cite a source for the birth information?

COMMENT: Charles and Elizabeth Atkinson married in Cumberland Co., PA. Some list the marriage place as Perry Co., PA. JoNelle Linnaus lists, Cumberland Co., PA. Robert Guilinger points out that counties in Pennsylvania were carved up into small counties after 1800. Therefore, a person born in a certain county in 1760 could still be in the same locality after 1800, when they died, and be listed in a different county. In the case of Charles and Elizabeth Atkinson they were probably married in Cumberland Co., PA (now part of Perry Co., PA).

MILITARY: James and Charles Atkinson, enlisted with their father, Cornelius Atkinson. These boys started careers as frontiersmen patterned after that of their father and for the next 20 years or more were frequently engaged in military service, against the Indians or otherwise in defense of their country.

Later in the Revolution, another brother, William Atkinson, enlisted in the Pennsylvania Militia, as a member of Robinsson's Rangers (Pennsylvania Archives, 3rd Series, Vol. 23, p. 196) For other sources of information see Cumberland county, PA Deed and Orphan Court Records; Dauphin Co., PA Orphan Court records; Hains History of Perry County, PA; DAR Book 140, p. 235.

Charles Atkinson applied for a pension for his Revolutionary War service and in it he mentions some of the duties performed by him and his fellow rangers in 1779. James Atkinson was a witness attesting to this service.
(Source: Catherine Fedorchak, Vol. II, p. 60 - furnished by Robert Guilinger)

MILITARY: Revolutionary War Service Records - Cornelius Atkinson and sons, James and Charles Atkinson
Cornelius Atkinson served as a Lieutenant with the 2nd Battalion of Northumberland County Pennsylvania Militia. Colonel James Potter was the Commander.
1st Company. Arthur Taggert, 1st Captain.
Cornelius Atkinson, 1st Lieutenant
85 Privates
Cornelius Atkinson's sons, James and Charles Atkinson served as Privates in the company.
(Source: Pennsylvania Archives. 5 Series. Vol. 8, pp. 641-667-F85-F854-. 67.)
The Atkinsons also served as Ranger on the Frontiers - Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. 1778-1783.
Cornelius Atkinson 1778-1783; James Atkinson 1778-1783;
Charles Atkinson 1778-1780.
(Source: Pennsylvania Archives. 3rd Series. Vol. 23, pp. 245-338-343- 711.)
[Note: REH found this information about the war records in the Data File of Cornelius Atkinson at the DAR in Washington, DC.]

MILITARY: Atkinson, Charles (Monroe Co.); Pvt. Capt McCoy's Company, Cumberland Co, Pa. Mil. during 1781-1782. Bur (sic, should be born) 1760. Mar second wife, Elizabeth Stephen. Br 1769. D 1841. Ref: Mrs. Edna Quick Acomb, Nelsonville.
Tombstone standing. Fur infor by Elizabeth Zane Dew Chap.
(Source: Official Roster - "Soldiers of the American Revolution Buried in Ohio. by the DAR, 1929, F.J. Hier Printing Co., Columbus, Ohio; top of page 21 reads "REVOLUTIONARY SOLDIERS 1775-1783" - furnished by Robert Guilinger)

MILITARY: James Atkinson was a Sgt. in Capt. James Seal's Company for 265 days.
Charles was a Pvt. in the same company.
(Source: Pennsylvania Archives, 6th Series, Vol. 5, pages 618, 630)
(Source: Catherine Fedorchak, Vol. II, p. 61 - furnished by Robert Guilinger)

Recd. Washington 14th February 1795 of Jno. Wilkens, Junr. forty nine dollars fifty eight cents and one third in full for my services as a soldier in Capt. James Sealses compy of State militia also two dollars for the use of my gun in said services as witness my hand
Thos. Gilespie.
(Source: Muster and Pay Rolls, p. 630 - furnished by Robert Guilinger)

EMIGRATION: About the end of the 18th century, ca. 1799, brothers Charles and James Atkinson moved to the Northwest Territory and settled on Sunfish Creek in what is now Monroe Co., Ohio. There within the next 3 to 4 years they were joined by their brothers, William, Isaac, Mitchell and their sister, Mary Jones-Inghram.
(Source: Catherine Fedorchak, Vol. II, p. 61 - furnished by Robert Guilinger)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I learned that RootsMagic has a "notes" option that could prove useful. If you want to record information that isn't shared in reports, web pages or GEDCOMs you can place curly brackets around the text in a the note fields.

I tested by putting some text into a "fact" note. Some had the curly brackets and some didn't. Then I created a Register report. The private text didn't appear in the report.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Eli C. Henthorn

Eli C. Henthorn

Eli C. Henthorn was born Abt. 1809/1810 in Ohio. He died Abt. 16 Jun 1867 in Jackson Twp., Monroe Co., Ohio.

I prepared a 94-page Register report in the PDF format for Eli C. Henthorn and his descendants. I used the RootsMagic program to store the information in my Adam Henthorn file.

If you are interested in this report contact me.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nancy (Henthorn) Stowers

Nancy (Henthorn) Stowers
d. 9 Apr 1846

The following letter was written by John Stowers, husband of Nancy (Henthorn) Stowers, to Amos and Elizabeth Henthorn shortly after the death of this wife. John and Nancy were living in Vermillion county, IL and Amos and Elizabeth were in Iowa. The 1st wife of Amos Henthorn was Catharine Stowers, John Stowers' sister. Amos had married Elizabeth Sharp just one month before John married Nancy on 12 Oct 1843.

Vermillion co. Illinois April 14, 1846

Beloved brother and sister,
With a heart filled with sorrow I take my pen in hand to inform you of my trouble which appears to be more than I can beare. On last Thursday morning which was the ninth day, about sunup it pleased the Lord to remove by bosom companion from the scene of action and I am left with two little boys to morne the loss of a loving companion and Mother, but our loss is her eternal gain.

I wrote to you about her having the feaver, lest you did not get it I will write again. On last Sept. she took the feavers and it left her with a bad cough and she never was stout anymore, though she was able to do her work, and on the 11 day of January last, she had another fine son and we called his name, John Wesley. He is well and grows finely.

She sayed she never would recover and was ready at any time to go home when it was God's will to call her, for she sayed she was a going to glory to meet her friend that was gone before and the night before she left the world, she shouted the high praises of God til her voice failed her and at day light I ask her how she felt ans say she was going to a better world than this and talked well in her senses and soon fell asleep in the arms of her savior.

She is now safely housed in the paradise of God where I hope to shortly go and injoy her company to all eternity, this my dear friends is all that gives me any comfort here that we are not long to be parted and last my dear brother and sister, pray for your brother that I may live so as to meet my nearest and dearest friend in glory.

Her complaint came from cold. Some called it haisty consumption, her Doctor called it the dropsy of the heart. Her sufferings was great but she bore them with Christian fortitude and has gone to rest.

Tell William Henthorn she was very anxious to see him in the flesh but she could not now.

I would say o brother, live so as to meet her in the kingdom of God where if faithful until death we will all soon meet, to part no more forever.

I received your letter in February and it gave us great conmfort to hear that you was on the mend and that you was a comeing in here. I would have wrote sooner but circumstances did not of admit it. Excuse me for it please.

Let all the friends know of the fate that has befallen me and come and see me and my two sweet little boys.

I must conclude. I remain your brother until death.
John Stowers

(William Henthorn, mentioned in the letter was the brother of Amos Henthorn. This letter had been in the Amos Henthorn Bible for more than 120 years. Nancy's death date was also recorded in the Bible.)

High-Speed Internet Connection

At long last I decided to get a high-speed Internet connection. We chose to sign up with Verizon FIOS for their three-piece bundle. The installation was done on Tuesday April 21, 2009. There are still some issues with the TV installation.

The phone and the Internet seem to be working. While I used the phone to connect to the Internet there were always problems including photographs in my blog postings. Today it took only seconds to include the photograph of me that you see with this posting.

Included in the Internet part of the bundle is 10Mb of webspace. This is good news. I was disappointed in October 2008 when AOL dropped support for free webspace and I lost my genealogy website that I'd made available for many years. As time and health permit I hope to build another website.

I'll keep you posted here when there's progress.

Mr. Dickie

Monday, April 20, 2009

File Conversion Status

Genealogy Files of Dick Henthorn
Converted from PAF 2.31 to RootsMagic
As of 19 Apr 2009

For many months I have been distressed that I lost access to my genealogy files when the clock battery stopped working on my IBM laptop computer. The files weren't lost, I just couldn't read them

From time to time, as time and mood permitted, I have worked on the projects to convert the files from PAF 2.31 to RootsMagic. This document is a status report.

Files Converted:

1. PAFDat - my Henthorn, Carlson / Hagstrom file, and Melva's family
2. PAFEng - the Henthorn family of England
3. PAFJohn - the John Hinthorn family of Illinois
4. PAFNew - several small trees for families that I worked on but didn't include in the larger files.
5. PAFSma - the John Henthorn family. This is the brother of James Henthorn.
6. PAFAda - the Adam Henthorn family of Monroe County, Ohio. Converted on 14 April 2009.

Files Yet to be Converted:

1. PAFJam - James Henthorn family of Monroe County, Ohio.
2. PAFWill - William Henthorn family of Monroe County, Ohio
3. PAFCon - Conger family
4. PAFYoh - Yoho family
5. PAFOth - Collateral Henthorn families. This includes the Watson family. This PAF file was damaged and for the longest time I couldn't find a good backup. On 19 Apr 2009 I found a set of nine GEDCOM floppies created on 26 Jan 2001 that should allow me to recover this file.

File: ConvertStatus.txt

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Silas Austin Dean Ahnentafel Chart

24 May 2006

1 Silas Austin DEAN: b 25 Apr 1848
2 Orsemus DEAN: b 11 Aug 1801 Cornwall,,CT; m 20 Apr 1825 Youngstown,Mahoning,OH; d 17 Nov 1883/1884 Center,,WI
3 Rhoda HAYDEN: b 25 May 1808 Youngstown,,OH; d 24 Jan 1878
6 Samuel HAYDEN: b 29 Jul 1774 Morristown,Morris,NJ; m 3 Oct
1798 Westmoreland,,PA; d 29 Mar 1840
7 Sophia GRAY: b 10 Apr 1771; d 21 Mar 1841 Columbia,,OH
12 Christopher HAYDEN: b 18 Feb 1718/1719 Braintree,Norfolk,MA; m
Bef 1753 Morristown,Morris,NJ; d Sep 1804 Morristown,Morris,NJ
13 Elizabeth SUTTON: b Abt 1735/1736 Basking Ridge,Somerset,NJ; d
1817 Morristown,Morris,NJ
25 Priscilla WEBB: b 1 Sep 1697 Braintree,Norfolk,MA; d 25 Aug
1731 Randolph,Norfolk,MA
26 John SUTTON: b 19 Sep 1701 Piscataway,Middlesex,NJ; m Abt 1724 Woodbridge,Middlesex,NJ; d 1761 Basking Ridge,Somerset,NJ
27 Mary MARTIN: b 21 Sep 1707 Piscataway,Middlesex,NJ; d Piscataway,Middlesex,NJ
50 Peter WEBB: b 10 Dec 1657 Braintree,Norfolk,MA; m Abt 1683 Braintree,Norfolk,MA; d 12 Feb 1717/1718 Salem,Essex,MA
51 Ruth BASS: b 28 Jan 1663 Braintree,Norfolk,MA; d 5 Jun 1699
52 John SUTTON: b 20 Apr 1674 Piscataway,Middlesex,NJ; m 1695 Piscataway,Middlesex,NJ; d 19 Dec 1750 Piscataway,Middlesex,NJ
53 Elizabeth CONGER: b 1 Jan 1678 Woodbridge,Middlesex,NJ; d 10
May 1731 Piscataway,Middlesex,NJ
102 John BASS-: c 18 Sep 1630 Saffron Waldon,Essex,,England; m
1657; d 12 Sep 1716 Braintree,Norfolk,MA
103 Ruth ALDEN: b Abt 1637 Duxbury,,MA; d 12 Oct 1674 Braintree,,
106 John BELCONGER: b 8 Sep 1633 Suffolk,,,England; m 12 Apr 1666 Newbury,Essex,MA; d Abt 27 Aug 1712 Woodbridge,Middlesex,NJ
107 Mary KELLY: b 12 Feb 1641 Newbury,Essex,MA; d Abt 1685/1689 Woodbridge,Middlesex,NJ

206 John ALDEN: b Abt 1598 ,,,England; m Abt 1621 Plymouth,
Plymouth,MA; d 22 Sep 1687 Duxbury,Plymouth,MA
207 Priscilla MULLINS: b Abt 1602 Dorking,,Surrey,England; d Aft 1650
214 John KELLY: b Exeter,,Devonshire,England; d 28 Dec 1644 Newbury,
414 William MULLINS:
415 Alice UNKNOWN:


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Postal Address Abbreviations

Postal Address Abbreviations

AL Alabama
AK Alaska
AZ Arkansas
AR Arizona
CA California
CZ Canal Zone
CO Colorado
CT Connecticut
DE Delaware
DC District of Columbia
FL Florida
GA Georgia
GU Guam
HI Hawaii
ID Idaho
IL Illinois
IN Indiana
IA Iowa
KS Kansas
KY Kentucky
LA Louisiana
ME Maine
MD Maryland
MA Massachusetts
MI Michigan
MN Minnesota
MS Mississippi
MO Missouri
MT Montana
NE Nebraska
NV Nevada
NH New Hampshire
NJ New Jersey
NM New Mexico
NY New York
NC North Carolina
OH Ohio
OK Oklahoma
OR Oregon
PA Pennsylvania
PR Puerto Rico
RI Rhode Island
SC South Carolina
SD South Dakota
TN Tennessee
TT Trust Territory
TX Texas
UT Utah
VT Vermont
VA Virginia
VI Virgin Islands
WA Washington
WV West Virginia
WI Wisconsin
WY Wyoming

APT Apartment
AVE Avenue
BLVD Boulevard
CT Court
CTR Center
CIR Circle
DR Drive
EXPY Expressway
HTS Heights
HWY Highway
IS Island
JCT Junction
LK Lake
LN Lane
MTN Mountain
PKY Parkway
PL Place
PLZ Plaza
RD Road
RM Room
STA Station
STE Suite
ST Street
TPKE Turnpike
VLY Valley

FileName: ABBREV.txt

Friday, April 17, 2009

How I Entered Data & GEDCOM

How I Entered My Genealogy Information and Using GEDCOM for Data Exchange

I used the LDS DOS Personal Ancestral File (PAF) version 2.31 to record my genealogy data. For many years I ran the DOS version of the PAF program in a Window of the Windows operating system. I created many different genealogy files because there was a limit to the number of records that could be stored in anyone one PAF database.

As of 2009 I am slowly converting my genealogy files to the RootsMagic program. This is a long process which I may complete someday.

Some comments about how I entered the data into my files.

Unfortunately I did not use the "Co." abbreviation with county names. I regret this because it causes confusion. As I've converted my files to RootsMagic I added this abbreviation to the county names in some of my files. Having a way to tell when a name pertains to a county is useful because often the name of a town and the name of a county are the same. If we don't indicate when the name pertains to the county the readers of our genealogies are confused.
When the full name of a person wasn't known I usually entered the word "Unknown" in the field where the missing name belonged. This is especially true in the case where a woman had children out of wedlock. In this situation I always entered the name of the father as "Unknown Unknown."

In the case of surnames such as McCoy I entered the name as "Mc Coy". This was done because programs which automatically capitalize the surname to "MCCOY" make it impossible for the reader to know that the name should only have two captial letters in it.

I entered place names in this order: town/city, county, state. In the case of burial a fourth piece of information, the cemetery name was entered: town/city, county, state, cemetery name. In PAF (2.31) only 16 characters were allowed for each of the 4 place name fields, so sometimes the cemetery name is truncated. You can usually find the full name of the cemetery entered in the "note" field. When I started using the RootsMagic genealogy program I corrected the cemetery name problem whenever I noticed it.

In the "notes" of PAF 2.31 I entered a period (.) in the first position of lines between paragraphs. Why I did this is a long story. In brief it was to keep the paragraphs from closing up on each other when printed by some programs. As I converted my files to RootsMagic I removed this place holder. PAF 2.31 also didn't use word wrap in the note fields. This problem can be fixed in RootsMagic. However, it is a very time consuming project to accomplish. Once the problem is corrected the text in paragraphs flows across the entire width of a report page eliminating all of the white space on the right side of the page.

When I found a source citation I included that information in the "note" field in PAF. PAF 2.31 didn't support source citation. If I thought there was a conflict about data I discussed the issue with a "Problem:" or "CONFLICT:" "note."

Finally, some comments about exchanging data between genealogy programs.

Information can be exchanged between genealogy programs using the GEDCOM format. The letters stand for Genealogical Data Communications format or some such computer terminolgy. This is also a very good way to backup your genealogy files because GEDCOM makes the files portable between computers and genealogy programs.

When I send a GEDCOM you get everything I know. I don't hold back information.

It is a good idea to check GEDCOM files for completeness. The last line in any good GEDCOM file is the TRLR, trailer line. This line has those 4 characters "TRLR" in the line. When I make or receive a GEDCOM file I always check to see that this line is in place. You can use a word processor or text editor program to view a GEDCOM because it is a "text" file. There is no point sharing or loading the file if the "TRLR" line isn't there.

While I am still involved in genealogy, I ask that you do not share any GEDCOM file you receive from me with anyone else. If someone wants my work I will be glad to discuss sending them a GEDCOM if they contact me directly.

However, if you incorporate any, or all, of my data into your own genealogy file then you may consider the data yours and you may share it in any way you see fit. That is to say, if you create a GEDCOM file from your own genealogy program feel free to share it.

I am still interested in adding more information to my files. However, as of 2009 my main interests are to: 1) recovery all my genealogy files and convert them to RootsMagic, 2) continue to publish and share the information I have already gathered, 3) place copies of more of my work in genealogy libraries around the country.

I appreciate any proof reading help I get. I don't care how small the typo might be, I would like to know about it.

Good luck with your genealogy. And, if you have shared your informationwith me, thank you for sharing.

Dick Henthorn
5403 76th Avenue
Hyattsville, MD 20785-1705
(301) 459-0535
Modified 17 Apr 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Seek

Comments about what I strive to obtain for my genealogy file.Updated: 13 Apr 2009

We try to record the full name (including middle name) of each person and information on 5 life events: birth, christening, marriage, death, and burial.

It is easiest to read dates when they are written in this format: 7 May 1939.

We try to obtain the date for each event, and the city/town, county, and state where the event occured.

It is very important to record the name of the county where events took place. In many states there are multiple places with the same place name so knowing the county name is important.
In the case of burials, we also record the name of the cemetery.

When someone marries into the line, we record the name of their parents (maiden name for the mother).

We like to get newspaper clippings about weddings, anniversaries, deaths, and other events that took place in family member's lives, along with short stories and recollections written by family members. This textual information is entered in the note field for each person. This information is what makes reading a genealogy interesting.

This material can be shared in the form of clippings, scanned images, or typed text. Getting the information already typed is a big help.

You also might want to consider writing a few paragraphs about yourself, your spouse, your children, your parents, and grandparents which I could include in the "Note" field for each person.

Things that I think might be of interest are: where did they grow up, where did they live, what schools did they attend, did they have military service and if so, with what units and where, when did they met their spouse, what did they do for a living, did they receive any awards or citations, did they ever serve in public office or do public service, in what organizations did they hold membership, what was their religious affiliation, and what significant events occurred in their lives?

File: !alliwan.txt

Isaac Baldwin

Isaac Baldwin

Census: 1820 in Monroe Co., OH, Ohio Twp.
Isaac Baldwin (Balding) between the age of 26/45 with five sons (4 under 10 and 2 10-16) and 1 daughter (under 10) and one female (26-45)
(Furnished by Gordon Paul)

LAND: In 1828, Isaac and Mary Baldwin sold some land to James Walton and the deed information shows they lived near Negro Run of Sunfish Creek. That creek empties into the Ohio River at Clarington. Isaac Baldwin must have died without a will prior to April 22, 1848, as The Spirit of Democracy of that date shows that George W. Durkee had been appointed as his administrator. According to a Durkee family Bible, George W. Durkee was married to Matilda Baldwin, July 4, 1841, so she was probably the female in the Isaac Baldwin family in the 1820 census and under 10 years of age.
(Source: Catherine Fedorchak, Family Research in Monroe County, undated)

PROBATE: Isaac Baldwin died, Abt. Apr 1848. The estate notice is dated, 22 Apr 1848, George W. Durkee, administrator. (George W. Durkee married Matilda Baldwin)
(Source: Norma Henthorn)

PROBATE: 22 Jul 1848, notice of probate, Isaac Baldwin estate. Wm. C. Walton appointed guardian of Isaac Baldwin, lunatic.

LAND: 24 Mar 1849, Book 11, p. 288, Monroe Co., OH, To Eli Baldwin, quit claim. From, Andrew and Maria Henthorn; George and Matilda Durkee; in consideration of the division of the farm formerly owned by Isaac Baldwin; Witnesses: Thomas Weston and Washington Foreman. Andrew and Mariah Henthorn each signed with an "X" and George and Matilda Durkee signed their names.

RESEARCHER: Mrs. Emanuel (Ruth) Baldwin of Beallsville, OH worked on the Baldwin family.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

File Recovery Project

At one time all of my genealogy files were in the DOS Personal Ancestral File (PAF) format on an IBM ThinkPad laptop. When the clock battery on this computer wore out it wouldn't boot up any more. I paid a computer shop to put the files from the hard drive on a Kingston thumb drive. Then I set the thumb drive aside and complained about how much work it would be to move the files from the thumb drive to my replacement computer, a Dell Latitude laptop where I intended to load them into the RootsMagic genealogy program.

The issues involved in the process aren't worth going into in this posting. Suffice it to say, there are many steps involved and I have to do part of the work on a desktop computer that also has issues. The biggest problem is that the "note" field in my PAF files use a period (.) to separate paragraphs. Those place holders must be removed and replaced with a carriage return before converting the old PAF files to RootsMagic.

As of yesterday morning the five largest files hadn't been converted. It had been so long since I worked on this project I had trouble understanding the notes I wrote the last time I worked on the project a year ago.

I'm using this posting to announce that yesterday I was sucessful in converting the Adam Henthorn, of Monroe Co., Ohio, file of 6,405 individuals and 2,379 marriages. I worked most of the day on the project. After the file was loaded into RootsMagic a test revealed that there is enough information to produce a Register genealogy report of nearly 700 pages.

At least four files, probably all larger, remain to be converted: James Henthorn; William Henthorn; Conger; and Yoho. There is one large file that seems to be damaged. I'll probably have to accept that I lost all of that work. Based on the Adam Henthorn project I estimate it will take four full days to complete the work. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to accomplish these projects in due time.

Mr. Dickie

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Looking to the Future

I'm looking forward to getting a Verizon high-speed Internet connection and whatever website space they make available with the service. Ever since AOL dropped free website support I've been upset because all of the genealogy information I'd shared for years was no longer available on the Internet. It will be nice to again have a place for anything I want to share.

Yesterday I worked on a project to convert my genealogy files that were stored, at one time, in the file format of the Family Origins for Windows program to the file format of the program that replaced it, RootsMagic. The process was quite easy because the RootsMagic program has this capability built-in. I also created a "text" file where I listed the names of all of the genealogy files and other pertinent information. I needed to do this because I'm sure it won't be long before I forget what I have available. Once a file is stored in the RootsMagic format all of the powerful output capabilities of the program can be used to share the information. I wish this program had been available years ago when I was working on genealogy almost every day. As time goes by it will be interesting to see what comes out of my current efforts. Hopefully I can sustain the interest and energy to make good use of these expanded capabilities.

Watch this blog for further reports about my progress with the high-speed Internet connection and with RootsMagic.

Mr. Dickie

Ahnentafel Defined

Ahnentafel Defined

Ahnentafel is a German word meaning ancestor chart.

The person for whom the chart is prepared has the number one (1) in front of their name.

To find the father of a person, double their number. To find the mother, double their number and add one. Therefore, the parents of (1) would be (2) and (3). The parents of (3) would be (6) and (7). Fathers are always even numbers and mothers odd numbers.

By the way, if people repeat in a chart it is not an error. This happens when there are so many links between the various families.

File: !ahnen.txt

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Thomas Cresap

Thomas Cresap(b. 1694 ?; d. 1790)

A name that still strikes sparks in our imagininations is that of Thomas Cresap. With his air of daring, his boastfulness, his audacious swagger coupled with sheer courage, his colorful attitude and speech, and a gift for finding his way despite any and all obstacles, he often reminds us of another English-born adventurer connected with Maryland: Captain John Smith.

Certainly, the family fort, househould, and trading post called "Oldtown," which he established and operated for many years, was one of the best-known place names in colonial America. Every traveler of any consequence knew about Cresap and Oldtown (known to many Indians as Opessa's Town). Located on the northern bank of the Potomac River, about 15 miles east of Cumberland, [Maryland], it was, for some ten years or more, looked upon as a sort of "Ultima Thule, or fartherest west," in Maryland.

Cresap, a frequently-embattled rough-hewn frontiersman, and speculator, in a certain sense, was also an innkeeper --- but food and lodgings were free of charge to all who came. This was a custom of the time, especially in such a region where the usual inns and taverns were non-existent. On any one day, he might have as his guests one or two Moravian missionaries, on their way from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to Virginia - and their Bethabara or Wachovia settlements in North Carolina (bent on converting Indians to Christianity); a government emissary on some important mission; perhaps even George Washington or Christopher Gist; three or four Indians, passing through; and one or two hunters, or trappers. Very likely, he enjoyed the "tall stories," and profited by the items of genuine frontier news, but was equally glad to find tourist traffic light on other days, considering his expense for food.

It is evident that Cresap had something further to gain from all this. He did considerable business with friendly Indians, trading European-style hardware and food items (flour, salt, gunpowder, weapons, bacon, hams, and so on) for furs. Increasingly, too, he bought and sold land, not omitting to solicit business from his Moravian churchly visitors. Here, we encounter an odd quirk of his nature. Though not religious, he looked upon their religious activities as a stabilizing influence. In addition, he respected them for their godly behavior and high principles.

As for Indian visitors, he welcomed friendly ones who might be customers; and he "put up" with others, showing whatever grace he could summon. (Often, there were war parties of the Six Nations, on their way to or from battles with their customary southern enemies, the Cherokees. These rather unwelcome guests --- who never bought real estate and seldom traded furs -- apparently reasoned that the colonists had driven away or killed their deer or other game, and that Cresap, therefore, should supply food to take its place. They regarded him as the only visible representative of a faraway "Great White Father" who had already broken one promise or another. Here, though not especially gifted as a diplomat, Cresap usually managed to "strike a deal.")

"Big Spoon," we are told, was the name usually given to him by Indians, descriptive of his apparently open-handed generosity in supplying them with food. As for Cresap, himself, the descriptions we have vary considerably, depending upon who said or wrote them. (See "Thomas Cresap, Maryland Frontiersman," by Kenneth P. Bailey.) William Trent, the Pennsylvania trader and Virginia military personage, was a prominent and fairly frequent quest at Oldtown. Andrew Montour, another respected individual (three-quarters Indian, and long noted as an interpreter and diplomat in Indian affairs) was Cresap's close friend. So was that courageous diplomat and Indian scout, George Croghan. It was from Cresap that George Washington learned much frontier lore, the two remaining friends until Cresap's death in 1790. (He was born in Yorkshire, England, probably about 1694, though he, himself, never was sure of the date).

On the other hand, a member of Braddock's expedition, described him thus.
"May 8th: Ferried over the River into Maryland ... there lives Colonel Cressop, A Rattle Snake Colonel, and a D---d Rascal ..."

No doubt, the title of "Rattle Snake Colonel" was intended to be derogatory, indicating that the military title was self-adopted rather than official.

By some, no doubt, Cresap was accused of "interfering in Indian affairs." He was not one to "go by the book." Yet, time and again, we read statements praising his hospitality, such as this one by two Moravians, visitors at Oldtown in 1749:

"... On October 31st, we passed no house for thirty-five miles, but indescribably high mountains. We started early ... and after passing safely through two creeks we came to Colonel Crissops at night, pretty well tired out. He received us very courteously ... Several other people were with him, a gentleman from Maryland and a servant from Virginia, to whom he gave all kind of good information about Bethlehem, and also about the conversion of the Indians... He also showed us on a map where the Six Nations live ..."

Extraordinary, indeed, was Cresap's ability to serve in the Maryland General Assembly, at Annapolis during part of one week, while being on hand the remainder of the week, as a sort of human "frontier listening post," at Oldtown.

It was in 1739 that a Pennsylvania captain, John Charlton, took out, from the Maryland government, a patent for 200 acres of land at a spot known as "Indian Seat." Cresap bought this on May 24, 1740 (for 100 pounds current money). With later land additions, it became known as Oldtown. From then on, he frequently acquired more land, selling whenever there was promise of a good profit.

From all this, we may certainly conclude that Thomas Cresap was just the right sort to have stationed along such Indian trails as Nemacolin's Path; one from whom news would be frequently forthcoming; and one who would seldom leave either friends or enemies in doubt.
(Biographical Sketches of Maryland by George and Virginia Schaun, 1969, p. 96-97)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

National Genealogical Society Library

Did you know that the National Genealogical Society Library is no longer located in Arlington, VA? Several years ago the collection was transferred to the St. Louis County Library in St. Louis, MO. This accomplished two goals. First it physically located the collection nearer to the middle of the country. Second the St. Louis library agreed to make the items in the collection available through inter-library loan.

Yours truly donated two genealogies to the collection, one for the Watson family and the other for a branch of the Henthorn family.

This link will take you to a page where you can find links to other pages which explains all this in more detail.

St. Louis County Library - Special Collections Department

Mr. Dickie