I am amazed at the abundance of information my ancestors left for me to find online. How could they have possibly known that some of the teensy bits of information they left behind about themselves would surface hundreds of years later readily available to not only me, but to the world?
In 1910 a distant cousin, Emma Runk, self-published 100 copies of a book titled, Barcroft Family Records. At least one of those books was donated to the New York Library by The Colonial Dames of America. A hundred years or so later the book was scanned into Google’s vast database. In 2013 I found the book through a Google search on ‘Ambrose Barcroft’. I was only trying to verify that someone named Ambrose Barcroft existed in the 1700’s in New Jersey. Instead I found a document that gave me ancestral information starting with my Grandmother Hazel Davenport (Hanshaw) and linking her directly to some guy in England who apparently began a 25 year-long spat with William the Conqueror around the year 1068.
You just never know what you’ll find online. But you still have to be very careful and verify the information with as many sources as you can. And sometimes, you find out some long-forgotten piece of history that had a major effect the lives of ones ancestors.
My main online resources for the family history tour are:
Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.com and WikiTree.com are all very useful in researching family trees, documents, census records, and many scanned public records.
Find A Grave – It is what it says it is. A searchable database of cemeteries. And some of these are the hard to find, out of the way, small-town cemeteries where 75 people were buried in the early 1800s like Robertson Cemetery in Dryden, NY where I believe a 4th-Great-Grandfather (Davenport) and 2 or 3 of his brothers are buried.
Old Fulton New York Postcards – fultonhistory.com – This is 19th and early 20th century Upstate New York Facebook. This is a searchable PDF database linking you to 19th and 20th century newspapers that have been scanned – usually from microfiche.
It was in one of these newspapers, from Montour Falls in 1901, that I found this five-generation obituary.
“After a long period of suffering Mrs. L. A. Culver entered into rest Thursday, June 20th, aged 79 years.
She is survived by a brother, Albert Beebe, of Kayutah lake, one sister, Mrs. James Tracy of Birdsall, N. Y., and four children — Dr. O. B. Sherwood and Mrs. Bezzie Sawyer of this place, Mrs. Maria Davenport of Etna, and Mrs. L. L. Soule of Moreland.
She was born in Salem, Conn., and came with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Beebe, (who were among the pioneers in this section), when six years of age, to Connecticut Hill. Subsequently her life had been spent in this locality. She united with the Presbyterian Church at Newfield, in her youth. Was married to Dr. Sherwood at the age of 18, and resided with him at Enfield Center and Trumbull’s Corners. After his death she returned to Cayutaville, where she has since lived.
She was married to Charles Culver, who she survived 20 years. The funeral was held from her late home Sunday, June 23d, Rev. C. L’V. Haynes officiating; burial at Mclntyre cemetery. As the remains were laid away to the long rest* by six grandsons—Elmer, Dwight and Harry Sherwood, Dwight and Charlie Sawyer and Fred Davenport — the youngest grand-child, Aline Sawyer, and a great grand child, Seward Davenport, covered the casket with beautiful flowers.
Mrs. Sawyer, who so tenderly cared for her mother in her declining years, wishes to tender her thanks to the neighbors and friends who assisted in any way during the illness, and in the trying days after the death of the beloved mother.”
So – Here are the 5 Generations:
Seward Davenport – My Grandfather’s Brother
Fred Davenport – My Great Grandfather (Seward’s Father)
Maria Davenport (Sherwood) – My 2-Great-Grandmother (Fred’s Mother)
L.A. Culver – (Lucy Ann Beebe) – My 3-Great-Grandmother (Maria’s Mother)
John Beebe – My 4-Great-Grandfather (Lucy’s father)