Categories
Unique Visitors
32,168
Total Page Views
504,189
View Teri Hjelmstad's profile on LinkedIn
 

 
Archives

Thomas Snow, Please Stand Up

My ancestor Lucy Snow (abt. 1760-1795) married Gershom Hall and had a large family in Harwich, Massachusetts. But who were her people?

Online family trees attribute her parents to Thomas Snow and Hannah Lincoln. None of these trees include much proof of this connection other than a baptism record from Brewster, the town north of Harwich. This church list includes a child Lucy, daughter of Thomas Snow, jr., baptized in 1760.

This might offer good evidence of her father’s name, but then the question becomes, “Which Thomas Snow fathered Lucy?”. The name seems to be a very common one in colonial Massachusetts.

I have identified two, maybe three, men who might qualify. Before claiming one of them as my Lucy’s father, I must investigate each of these men to make a case for Lucy’s parentage:

  1. Thomas Snow, Junior. This man married Hannah Lincoln in Harwich on 31 January 1760. Afterwards, a Thomas Snow, jr. arrived almost immediately in Brewster, Massachusetts. The records of the Brewster Church mention him several times. On October 12, 1760, his wife Hannah received full Communion. Several of his children subsequently were baptized there including Lucy in 1760, Edward in 1763, Bethia in 1765, Hannah in 1769, and Priscilla in 1771. So far, I have no explanation for why this Thomas was called “Junior”.
  2. Capt. Thomas Rogers Snow. According to a cemetery marker in Brewster Cemetery, this man died in the West Indies on 27 April 1790 at age 54. He is buried with his widow Hannah [Lincoln] who lived until 1817. The person who manages his FindAGrave memorial claims he was born at Harwich on 19 Nov 1735. The Harwich records do include a Thomas who was born that day at Harwich to Nathanaell and Thankfull Snow. The Hall family entry in the Encyclopedia of Massachusetts agrees with this claim.
  3. Thomas Snow, Revolutionary War patriot. According to the DAR files, the Thomas Snow who served in Massachusetts was born at Harwich in 1734 and later relocated to Gorham, Cumberland County, Maine. He lived until 1825. His wife’s name was Jane Mague. A 1908 publication, Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire, discusses the Snow family, specifically the Thomas Snow who settled in Maine. It states he was born to Thomas Snow about 1730 in Harwich. It goes on to say he wed three times with the second wife being Hannah Lincoln and the third Jane Mague. It makes no mention of Revolutionary War service. A third source, a couple of Sons of the American Revolution applications, both claim the soldier Thomas was the son of Nathaniel, not Thomas. They go on to say he was the husband of Hannah Lincoln, and they make no mention of Jane Mague.

Were these one, two or three men? The profiles for #1 and #2 seem to match each other pretty closely. They seem consistent with the father of a daughter who lived at Harwich.

And what about the Thomas Snow who removed to Maine? He does not seem as close a fit, and I suspect he was a different Thomas Snow. But what are the odds that another Thomas also had a wife named Hannah Lincoln?

It seems the records of more than one man may have been commingled. It will take some research to sort this out. I can begin by creating a chart listing references to each man side-by-side. I can then compare their data to isolate similarities and differences and thus untangle this problem.

This approach will help me differentiate the men to find the most likely candidate for the one who fathered Lucy in 1760. If I am to verify a Mayflower lineage, I need to resolve the question of Lucy’s parentage.

A Brewster-Harwich Connection

My ancestor Lucy Snow Hall (abt. 1760-1795) may hold the key to establishing a Mayflower ancestor for our family. To establish a genealogical proof of this line, I must find evidence of Lucy’s parents.

Online trees claim that Lucy was the eldest child of Thomas Rogers Snow (1735-1790) and his wife Hannah Lincoln. Most of these trees do not have sources attached. A couple of them cite the Encyclopedia of Massachusetts printed in 1916.

My wonderful husband/tech advisor went on a search for a digital copy of this book. He found it at an online library called eBooks Read (ebooksread.com). Volume 3 describes the Hall family, and my Lucy married Gershom Hall.

The book discusses this Gershom and states, “He married (first) February 8, 1781, Lucy Snow, baptized December, 1760, in Brewster, Massachusetts, died October 8, 1795, in Harwich, daughter of Thomas and Hannah (Lincoln) Snow. She was a descendant of Nicholas Snow…He married at Plymouth, Constance, daughter of Stephen Hopkins, who came in the ‘Mayflower’ to Plymouth in 1620.”

This encyclopedia seems the likely source for all the claims of Mayflower descent for my Lucy. Can it be verified in original records?

Unfortunately, I have been unable to find town birth records for 1760 for Harwich or Brewster on Ancestry.com or FamilySearch. I did go looking for the Brewster baptism record for Lucy. I found these published in Records of the Brewster Congregational Church, Brewster, Massachusetts, 1700-1792. The entries for 1760 include two that mention Lucy’s purported parent, Thomas Snow:

  1. Oct. 12 Received to full Comunion (sic) Hannah ye wife of Thos Snow junr
  2. Decr Baptized Lucy a Daughter of Tho’s Snow Junr

The Lucy baptized that day must have been the child of Thomas Snow and his wife Hannah. It disturbs me some that the father is called “Junior”. The family tree in the Encyclopedia I mentioned above says Thomas was the son of Nathanial Snow, not the son of another Thomas.

Other genealogists have told me that people in colonial times did not interpret the Junior designation the same way we do today. We think of it as indicating that a son was named for his father. Back then, it could mean an uncle-nephew relationship or that there were two men of the same name in town, with the Junior being the younger man.

Is it plausible that the Lucy baptized at Brewster was the same Lucy who married Gershom Hall? How would they meet if they lived in different towns? He lived his life in Harwich. She came from Brewster. Both are towns in Barnstable County, but I wondered how often people traveled between the two.

I turned to my copy of the Historical and Genealogical Atlas and Guide to Barnstable County, Massachusetts (Cape Cod). The chapter on Brewster tells me that until 1803 it was known as the north precinct of Harwich. As we say in genealogy, that makes Brewster and Harwich within “kissing distance”. A meeting between Gershom of Harwich and Lucy of Brewster seems feasible. How likely is it that another Lucy Snow, born in 1760, lived in the same vicinity?

Other records that might led further evidence to this family tree might not exist. Land and probate records would have been recorded in the Barnstable courthouse. It suffered a disastrous fire in 1827. Ninety-four volumes of land records dating back to 1686 were lost. Some instruments may have been re-recorded, but the county does not have a complete set of records.

Perhaps I have found everything there is to find on Lucy. I have a baptism record for a likely candidate for the wife of Gershom. I have Lucy’s marriage record and cemetery marker. I have an encyclopedia entry describing her family tree. I have explanations for possible discrepancies (another Lucy Snow born the same year in faraway Worcester; a father described as Junior; a marriage between a couple who came from different towns). My Lucy is looking more and more like the Lucy who descended from Mayflower ancestors.

 

 

The Search for Lucy Continues

My ancestor Lucy Snow (abt. 1760-1795) has not yet revealed her parentage to me.

This week I sought a birth record for her, but the only 1760ish birth record I could find for a Lucy Snow was from the Massachusetts town of Rutland. This place lies west of Boston. The parents were John and Sebilla Snow.

None of this Lucy’s information matches what I know or suspect about my own Lucy, reportedly the daughter of Thomas Rogers Snow and Hannah Lincoln. My Lucy was the first wife of Gershom Hall, and they lived in Harwich, on the Cape. She is buried there.

After some digging in various online databases, I did eliminate the Rutland Lucy as my ancestor. That Lucy married Thomas Whittemore and moved to upstate New York. There they raised a large family.

Besides not finding a birth registration, I have not located my Lucy’s name in any of the Snow genealogies I viewed this week. Without this low-hanging fruit to tell me the names of her parents, I will need to expand my search.

I have made a checklist of sources to study. I will look first at the PERSI database on Find My Past for articles on the Snow family. After that, I plan to search for wills or deeds that might mention Lucy.

She remains the link to any Mayflower ancestry I might have. Lucy Snow of Harwich had a family. They continue to wait to be discovered.

Lucy Presents an Unexpected Snag

Uncovering information about my Massachusetts ancestor Lucy Snow (abt. 1760-1795) presents a more difficult task than I first imagined. I have been using the images at FamilySearch, Ancestry, and American Ancestors to find out more about her and to document her life.

This week I located only documentation of her marriage to Gershom Hall. The Harwich town records include a Marriage Intention from late 1780 and a Marriage from early 1781. These confirm that Lucy’s surname was Snow at the time of her marriage. Earlier I had found a town record of her children, including my ancestor Rhoda Hall.

Next, I looked for a birth registration for Lucy. A family tree on the WikiTree website claims she was the daughter of Captain Thomas Rogers Snow and Hannah Lincoln, both Mayflower descendants.

When I searched for a birth record for Lucy Snow, born about 1760 to this couple, no such record appeared. Instead, the only result was for Lucy, daughter of John and Sebilah Snow, born 5 February 1760 at Rutland, Massachusetts. Rutland lies a long way from Harwich.

Was my Lucy the daughter of John and Sebilah Snow? The birth year matches.

Or was her birth to Thomas and Hannah unrecorded? They lived at Harwich, the same town where Lucy married Gershom Hall.

The WikiTree list has no source for the claim of Lucy’s descent from Thomas and Hannah. I need some proof linking Lucy to a set of parents.

I can do two things to resolve this mystery:

  1. Contact the WikiTree contributor and ask about a source, and
  2. Keep working in the records in hopes of uncovering more information.

I plan to do both these things. Lucy is my link to possible Mayflower lineage. I hope she does not turn into yet another brick wall ancestor.

Uncovering the 18th Century Life of Lucy Snow Hall

Female ancestors present difficult research questions. They left fewer records than their male counterparts did. Hence the common advice to look for the men in their lives when seeking information about the lives of the women.

As I follow my path towards documenting a Mayflower ancestor this year, I realize that much of my dad’s New England ancestry lies along the female line. I must trace back to the mid-1700’s before I reach a male in his suspected Mayflower heritage.

This month I have focused on Dad’s third great-grandmother, Lucy Snow (ca. 1760-1795). She may have descended from Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins, both through his daughter Constance and his son Giles. The Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, which documents the descendants of the Pilgrims, does not mention Lucy because she would have been the sixth generation.

Lucy married Gershom Hall in 1781. I did some research on him years ago and have even visited their graves in Harwich, Massachusetts.

To find out more about Lucy Snow, I began by pulling out everything I had collected on her husband Gershom. I found her mentioned twice. The cemetery record and gravestone in Harwich, Massachusetts tell us that Lucy Hall, wife of Gershom, died 8 October 1795, aged 35 years. The Hall family chapter of The Library of Cape Cod History and Genealogy gave me their marriage date.

Today I have access to several online databases of New England records that I did not have the last time I looked at the life of Gershom Hall. I turned to a couple of these to find out more about Lucy.

I located the Harwich town records wherein I found a list of the children of Gershom Hall and his wife, Lucy. One re-copied version of the record pencils in the maiden name Snow for Lucy. The town shows birthdates for eight children, a son (Daniel) and seven daughters (Rosanna, my ancestor Rhoda, Thankful, Lucy, Tamsin, Olive, and Sukey).

My personal records include that name of one more daughter not mentioned in the town record. Her name was Patience, born in September 1795. Lucy died a month after Patience was born, and the little girl lived only eight months.

As I reviewed these documents, I realized that I need to locate the Hall’s marriage record because the Cape Cod history is a secondary source. I also need to find a birth registration for Lucy. Perhaps her father left a will that would help me tie the generations together.

To find everything I can on Lucy, I must follow the men in her life. Find the records created by her husband and father, perhaps her grandfathers, and I will find Lucy.

Rhoda Hall, Daughter of Lucy Snow

Last week I defined a project to link three of my female ancestors, Hannah Lincoln, Lucy Snow, and Rhoda Hall. I must do this as part of my goal to prove my family’s descent from a Mayflower ancestor. Hannah Lincoln descends through both her parents from Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins.

Information posted by other researchers claims these women to be mother, daughter, and granddaughter. I have good documentation of my family line back to Rhoda Hall, my most recent ancestor among these women. My next step is to prove that Lucy was her mother.

None of the sites I have visited includes citations or links to proof of Rhoda’s relationship to Lucy Snow or Hannah Lincoln. Do I have enough proof to make the case that Rhoda was Lucy’s daughter? The Mayflower Society will not take my application unless I provide some documentation.

I began by reviewing everything I have collected about Rhoda Hall, my third great-grandmother.

According to the 1850 U.S. census for St. Joseph County, Michigan, the last one in which she appeared and the only one in which she was named, Rhoda was born about 1784 in Massachusetts. I have not yet located a birth registration for her.

Rhoda married Benjamin E. Dunbar on 2 June 1805 at Chatham, Massachusetts. The marriage record does not name her parents.

In the early 1830’s Benjamin, Rhoda, and their children relocated from Cape Cod to then-Portage County, Ohio. Benjamin died shortly after the move. After that sad event, records usually refer to Rhoda as the Widow Dunbar.

She appears in Ohio school census records and in court records through the 1830’s and 1840’s. Again, no record mentions her parents.

Rhoda passed away, probably back in Ohio, soon after the 1850 census was taken. No death record was created. She was buried next to Benjamin in the city cemetery in Stow, Ohio.

A record linking Rhoda to her father does exist. In his will dated 1841 and probated in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, Gershom Hall leaves $50 to his daughter, Rhoda Dunbar. Gershom Hall remembers his wife Jerusha in the will, but Jerusha probably was not Rhoda’s mother. Gershom married Jerusha late in life, when Rhoda was in her thirties.

Gershom had been married more than once. Secondary evidence links Rhoda to a previous wife, Lucy Snow. A Cape Cod history relates that Gershom and Lucy married in 1781. Lucy’s 1795 cemetery marker tells us she was the wife of Gershom Hall. Rhoda was born in 1784, during the time between the 1781 marriage and the 1795 death of Lucy. Perhaps Rhoda was honoring her mother when she named one of her daughters Lucy Snow Dunbar.

After reviewing this material this week, I feel pretty confident that Lucy Snow was the mother of Rhoda Hall. I will spend some time searching the Massachusetts records for Rhoda’s birth record and Lucy’s death registration to confirm the dates. I will also begin locating probate records for other family members to determine whether their relationship is spelled out anywhere else.

Based on the evidence I have collected, I have posted Lucy’s name as the mother of Rhoda Hall Dunbar in my family tree. I believe Lucy Snow, wife of Gershom Hall, was my fourth great-grandmother.

 

 

 

Hunting for Mayflower Ancestors

With the new year comes a new genealogy project. After spending last year on foreign research in Finnish records, I will turn my attention closer to home in 2020.

My father had deep American roots. His mother’s family lived in New England a couple of centuries ago, and I want to find out more about them. I am hoping to prove a line or two of Mayflower ancestry.

Dad’s direct maternal line offers me a chance. According to a post on WikiTree, his third great-grandmother, Lucy Snow, descended two ways from Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins. The lines go this way although no sources are cited:

Lucy Snow>Hannah Lincoln>Hannah Hopkins>Stephen Hopkins>Stephen Hopkins>Giles Hopkins>Stephen Hopkins

Lucy Snow>Thomas Rogers Snow>Nathaniel Snow>Edward Snow>Jabez Snow>Constance Hopkins>Stephen Hopkins

My first stop searching for proof of this ancestry has been the databases on the American Ancestors website (https://www.americanancestors.org/index.aspx). There I located documentation for the births and marriage of Lucy’s parents. Lucy herself is not mentioned so I have nothing to link her to them. I need to find some proof of her parentage.

I also need to find some proof that Lucy was the mother of my known ancestor Rhoda Hall. I have only cemetery information saying she was the first wife of Gershom Hall. I believe Rhoda Hall Dunbar, Dad’s second great-grandmother, was the daughter of Lucy and Gershom.

My next task will be to link up the three women. If I can find documentation for the relationship Rhoda Hall>Lucy Snow>Hannah Lincoln and Thomas Snow, I will have my Mayflower ancestry from Stephen Hopkins. Then I can turn my attention to learning whether I descend from any other Mayflower passengers. Many people who descend from one Mayflower passenger also descend from others.

New England family lines have been well-documented. I think proving a line of Mayflower descent, if I have one, should be doable this year. This project will offer me an interesting genealogical year.

Joulupukki

When I was a girl, Santa delivered each of us kids a special gift on Christmas Eve. He would ring the front doorbell and leave it on the porch shortly after we finished our traditional Christmas Eve meal of ham and potato salad.

I thought everyone celebrated the holy night this way. Only after I grew up did I learn that we probably followed an Americanized version of a Finnish Christmas tradition that my mom had learned from her immigrant grandparents.

The Finnish Santa is called Joulupukki. He dresses not in red velvet but in fur. He bears gifts to children in Finnish homes on Christmas Eve. Instead of sliding down a chimney after they go to bed, he knocks on doors during waking hours and asks whether any good children dwell there. All the well-behaved youngsters receive a gift from him. In appreciation, they sing carols.

Usually, we in our American household did not see Santa/Joulupukki in person on Christmas Eve. My mom explained that he was in too much of a rush to wait for us to answer the door. He simply dropped off our gifts and hurried on.

This year, I was re-introduced to Joulupukki when he attended our local Finnish Christmas party. We welcomed him with a traditional song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7HorrUBmTs). Then he presented gifts to all the good children, but none of my own grandchildren were there. This got me thinking.

I decided to resurrect the idea of Joulupukki in a small way for my family this Christmas. I signed some of my gift tags with “Joulupukki” instead of “Gran and Granddad”. Then I waited to see if anyone would notice.

Our eldest granddaughter, a 16-year-old, asked about the unfamiliar tag. That question gave me an opening to explain about Joulupukki and to share a bit of my (their!) Finnish heritage.

I tried, but the grandchildren did not seem very interested in this tradition when so much other gift-giving went on around them. Even so, they have now heard the story. They may remember it if I decide to have Joulupukki make another visit next year.

These children, just 6.25% Finnish, know so little of the traditions their family brought from the old country. Much was lost in my grandparent’s determination to become American. Perhaps I can use the story of Joulupukki to reclaim some of what we have forgotten and pass it along.

 

 

DNA Testing and the Law

Every month I attend a community meeting where various guest speakers come to talk about issues of local concern.

This week our Sheriff spoke about county law enforcement issues. One topic caught my attention. He mentioned using DNA to solve long-unsolved homicides. His cold case unit has gone beyond matching crime scene DNA with a suspect identified through normal police work.

This month his department solved a 1980 homicide by tracking and identifying a suspect solely through DNA testing. They analyzed DNA taken from the crime scene and uploaded it into a genealogy database. They looked for matches and identified a suspect.

The department tracked the man, who now uses an alias, to Florida. Law enforcement there put him under surveillance, followed him to a local bar, and took the glass he used. DNA testing on the glass matched that taken in the case by investigators in 1980. The suspect was arrested and extradited to Colorado.

Although it is wonderful to see this man being brought to justice at long last, I am not sure I like the idea of using genealogy databases for law enforcement purposes.

Much discussion has taken place around this debate in recent months, and I will not repeat it here. I just know that I do not want my DNA being used to entrap my relatives.

At the only company where I have taken a DNA test, FamilyTreeDNA, I have opted not to have my DNA used this way. I made the same selection for the other kits that I manage at this company.

I provided our DNA to the testing companies to further our family history, not to take part in police sting operations. I hope the testing companies continue to give us the option to opt out of law enforcement requests for match information.

It is too late to take my DNA sample back from them. I must hope they will continue to use it in the spirit for which it was given, for genealogy only. If the authorities want a DNA database, they could create one themselves using samples from willing participants. Leave me out of it.

Reading for Genealogy

A genealogist needs to spend time improving skills and keeping up with happenings in the genealogy world. One can choose from both print and online publications for professional reading. These resources provide educational articles, examples of well-written genealogies, and announcements of upcoming events. I subscribe to several journals and blogs that keep me up to date.

In Print

  1. National Genealogical Society Quarterly. This publication has promoted genealogical scholarship since 1912. Each issue consists of several genealogy case studies that serve as an example of excellent analysis and writing. The Quarterly also reviews recently published genealogy books.
  2. NGS Magazine. This quarterly magazine includes news articles about the National Genealogical Society. It also contains how-to articles, including columns on using the National Archives and technology.
  3. The Palatine Immigrant. This periodical covers research on German-Speaking ancestry. It includes book reviews, research articles, a genealogy advice column, and news of upcoming Palatines to America events.
  4. The Colorado Genealogist. The quarterly publication of the Colorado Genealogical Society focuses on articles and transcriptions of records specific to Colorado.
  5. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. This journal of American genealogy publishes current research on New England families and sources.
  6. American Ancestors. A sister publication to the Register, the magazine covers Society news, program and tour announcements, and articles of genealogical interest.

Online Blogs and Newsletters

  1. The Legal Genealogist. Judy G. Russell, a lawyer and a genealogist, writes about (what else?) genealogy and the law. https://www.legalgenealogist.com/
  2. Vita Brevis. The blog of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, it posts essays by the Society’s professional staff. https://vitabrevis.americanancestors.org/
  3. Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter. Dick Eastman has been covering genealogy news with his online newsletter for 23 years. https://blog.eogn.com/
  4. DNAeXplained—Genetic Genealogy. Roberta Estes helps us discover our ancestors, one gene at a time. https://dna-explained.com/
  5. Norwegian Genealogy and then some. Martin Roe Eidhammer writes helpful tips for Norwegian research, and he also offers travelogues and book reviews. https://martinroe.com.godtsagt.dev/blog/

At our house, we also receive one more genealogical publication that comes addressed to my husband/tech advisor. I do not know how much of it he actually reads because Slekt og Data is written in Norwegian. This publication is put out by Norway’s largest genealogy organization.

Most of the blogs I listed arrive in my e-mail In box every day. I can read or skim them in a few minutes. I set aside some time in the late afternoon to read the journals that come by snail mail. The writers who contribute to these publications provide a wonderful educational service to those of us searching for our ancestors.