Part 1-No shortage of inconsistencies, 10 June 2011
A collection of inconsistent information written about about William Preston, the first sheriff of Williams County, Ohio.
Part 2-Driven to a more historical account (10 postings), 16 June 2011
Genealogy is a journey. The second article in this series presents particular information we used to break down our brick wall. The various postings mention how the records were discovered, questioned and evaluated to better identify Sheriff William Preston.
2.01 William and his Miss Butler (marriage)
2.02 He survives (census)
2.03 The Butler did it! (identifying our Butler family)
2.04 I do declare, and he did! (declaration)
2.05 Death plus 30 (probate)
2.06 Of brothers and soldiers (about John Preston at Ohio)
2.07 You do the math (about William C. Preston and the King)
2.08 One good deed (and the long road home)
2.09 Through the peep hole (the larger family)
2.10 Rummaging about Rumney
Part 3-Putting it all together - Part 3A
PART 2-Driven to a more historical account
2.10 Rummaging about Rumney
To develop some of the research that follows, we were assisted by various town clerks, including Linda Whitcomb at Rumney; library/archival experts, including Susan Turbyne and Kathy Sobetzer (Byron G. Merrill Library, Rumney), Bill Copeley (New Hampshire Historical Society Library, Concord) and Jane Walsh at Gloucester (Mass.) Archives.
Rumney is a beautiful place. This New England town is part of Grafton County, located in west-central New Hampshire, along the Vermont border (Vermont counties Essex, Windsor, Orange and Caledonia are adjacent to Grafton County, New Hampshire).
The town of Rumney was twice chartered (granted). ["Early Town Papers ...," NHSP (1884) 13:354]. The first grant was made in 1761 to "Samuel Olmstead and others." In 1767, Rumney was re-granted to "Daniel Brainard and others." Many of the grantees (both charters) came from Brainard's home town of Haddam, Connecticut. [Rumney, New Hampshire, Wikipedia] From NHSP (1884) 13:354, Jonathan Cummings settled at Rumney by 1765, and "the following year [came] James Heath, Daniel Brainard, and Moses Smart." Both grants were published in NHSP (1895) 25:481-489. For the 1761 charter and full list of grantees, see NHSP (1895) 25:481-485; for the second, NHSP (1895) 25: 485-489.
William Preston (1754-1842) was born at Chester and removed to Rumney "by 1768" with his parents and any number of siblings. [Vermont Families in 1791] According to the same article, in 1784, the father, William Preston (1728-1804), acquired land at Strafford, Vermont, [cites, "LR B:255"] and removed to there "probably after 1785," with wife Hannah Healey [NHVR, as Presson and Helay] and most of their children. (Vermont Families submitter Sprague reports son William (1754-1842) stayed at Rumney and the "rest of the family" migrated to Strafford.)
Many years after our research about Rumney had begun, some 1880s era written oral tradition was discovered. [Charles H. Herbert, "Papers" (MS 1989-128), New Hampshire Historical Society Library] This material reported the Preston family settled first in Rumney when William was 12, and they lived "on the East side of Baker's river, under Rattlesnake Mountain." Stereographic cards, dated about 1880, are extant for "Baker's River, Rumney, NH, near Rattlesnake Mtn" and "... On the slope of Rattlesnake Mt., Rumney, NH." ["Rumney, New Hampshire," Wikipedia]
The early family group
We used a variety of source materials to build a framework of the Rumney family. These included vital records, The State and Provincial Papers of New Hampshire, news accounts and Grafton County deeds. We also worked with several local published histories (Rumney, Plymouth, Wentworth, Warren and Concord, New Hampshire, and Bradford, Vermont, to name a few).
The New Hampshire Vital Records ("NHVR") include entries for the twelve known births to William and his first wife, Elizabeth Clark. There were also two children born to William and his second wife, Mary Herbert--Jonathan (1809) and Hannah (1811). [Bouton (1856), p. 66] The latter two births have not been found recorded in NHVR.
New Hampshire Birth Records, Early to 1900 (FamilySearch.org)
New Hampshire Marriage Records, 1637-1947 (FamilySearch.org)
New Hampshire Death Records, 1654-1947 (FamilySearch.org)
New Hampshire Death Records, 1654-1947 (FamilySearch.org)
One child, Hannah Preston, died 4 Mary 1797. Little Hannah was born in 1796, the twin of Joseph Preston. (See the article, "Love it when a deal comes together," for research to overcome a conflict about the identity of the Hannah Preston who died at Rumney in 1797.)
William Preston (1754-1842) was enumerated at Rumney in the U.S. Census of 1790, 1800, 1810, 1830 and 1840. (The 1820 U.S. census for Grafton County, New Hampshire is listed as "missing.") Entries from the 1790 and 1800 U.S. census appear in the graphic to the right. (Blank 1790 and 1800 U.S. census forms are available from Access Genealogy.)
Elizabeth (Clark) Preston died in June, 1807, at Rumney. One notice of her death includes the phrase, "left eleven children to morn." [The Sun ..., June 27, 1807, see graphic below.]
(Blank 1810 U.S. census forms are available from Access Genealogy.)
We use timelines frequently in our research. Selected events about the early family, through 1810, are summarized in the timeline that follows. This summary includes all the vital events related to William Preston and children born to him through the time of the 1810 U.S. census.
In addition to 1810 U.S. census entry for William Preston's household at Rumney, we identified returns for the three Preston children known to have married before that census. (1) Benjamin Preston (m. Ann Williams "Nancy" Robie [NHVR, Plymouth (see FamilySearch.org]) was enumerated at Rumney (graphic above). (2) Henry D. Preston (m. Persis Bodwell [MAVR, Methuen. FamilySearch.org) was enumerated at Woburn, Massachusetts (below, left). (3) William's daughter Elizabeth Preston had married Lemuel Kezer, Jr., [NHVR, Rumney, FamilySearch.org] who was enumerated at Wentworth, New Hampshire (below, right).
We have not been able to identify all of William Preston's children in the 1810 U.S. census. We believe all ten sons survived, and, as above, daughter Elizabeth (Preston) Kezer/Keyser also survived. (William Preston's youngest daughter, Hannah Herbert Preston, was not born until 1811.)
Who shot the cemetery?
Early in our research, notice about the grave of William Preston (1754-1842) at Rumney was found in Patricia Law Hatcher, Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots (v3, L-R). In 2004, Dr. Annette Lamb, William Smith's daughter, made a trip to New Hampshire. She was able to photograph the Preston gravestones at Rumney Depot Cemetery.
Annette fashioned the gravestone images and her commentary into a web page that reads much like a cemetery tour. See her website, eduscapes "Rumney, New Hampshire."
I maintain a worksheet about the family cemetery inscriptions at Rumney and elsewhere in New England. A summary of relevant entries from my worksheet follows.
For the purpose of this case, graves for William Preston (b. 1780) and John Preston (b. 1787) were not located at Rumney Depot cemetery or elsewhere in New England.
Read any good deed books lately?
The Grafton County, New Hampshire deed books are online. Although it takes a little work to access the earliest books, the records can found and read. So we read them, page by page, through about 1805.
While we had a general interest in learning about the larger Preston family from the Grafton County deeds, we really want to learn (a) more about the land interest William and Asenath sold in 1829 to Collins Preston (graphic below), and (b) whether unidentified Prestons had owned land or witnessed early deeds at Rumney. As to the latter, other then records mentioning William and Hannah (Healey) Preston and their descendants, we found no mention of other Preston families in the early deeds about Rumney. We specifically found no mention of a Charles or Cynthia Preston.
William and Asenath's 1829 deed to Collins Preston of Rumney referred to a second deed, "dated 21st of Nov A.D. 1803 & recorded in the Register .... Libre 37 folio 557." We found the referenced deed and a second deed of equal interest.
1803 Weld & Co. to Eaton
The 1829 deed: William and Asenath Preston to Collins Preston of Rumney. ("One good deed.") involved "land which Jabes H. Weld & Oliver F. Weld conveyed to Daniel Eaton by their deed dated 21st of Nov. A.D. 1803." The graphic to the left represents the image about that deed (recorded 1804) and a transcription of the deed.
We separately researched Jabez H. Weld, Oliver F. Weld and Daniel Eaton. We could not identify a family relationship between these men and the Preston family of Rumney. [See Charles Frederick Robinson, Weld Collections (Ann Arbor, Michigan: privately printed, 1938), p. 135-6, entries for Jabez Hatch Weld (no 79) and Oliver Fletcher Weld (no 80).]
1803 Charles Clark to Weld & Co.
On 21 November 1803 Charles Clark (wife Molley) of Rumney, sold a parcel of land to Jabez H. Weld & Co. The deed was recorded in 1803. This transaction occurred the same day that Jabez H. Weld & Co. sold land to Daniel Eaton (above 1803 Weld & Co to Eaton).
The grantor, Charles Clark, is the man who is only probably the brother of Elizabeth (Clark) Preston (1760-1807), the wife of William Preston--see "Through the peep hole." Charles Clark was only probably the uncle of William Preston, Jr.
We continued working with the Grafton deeds though a more extended period. For surname Preston and the period ca1805 to about 1850, we worked mostly from Grafton County Deed indexes. Virginia cousin, S. Smith, a descendant of Alice (Van Wormer) Preston, was helpful in this effort.
Did I will? Did I do?
Early in our research about the Preston family of Rumney, we located the Gloucester, Massachusetts, notice of intent to marry about "John Preston of Rumney" and Mary Cook.
Cook deaths Preston deaths
A distantly related Presson/Preston family then resided Gloucester [Biographical Review (1898) 28:155-56], but the intention identifies this John "of Rumney"--and we believe only William and Elizabeth's son by that name would have been so identified at that time.
For years, we struck out in attempts to learn more about this vital record entry. We could not find evidence of an actual marriage or even better identify the bride-to-be.
There were two Cook families at Gloucester in the 1810 U.S. census (graphic, above left), and two "Mary Cook" entries in the subsequent marriage vital records. (Blank 1810 U.S. census forms are available from Access Genealogy.)
In the 1820 U.S. census, there was only one family Cook indexed at Gloucester--Mary Cook. Sigh.
The two interesting Mary Cook marriages in the Gloucester vital records were Mary Cook, a widow, married 21 Jun 1814 to David Lane Jr., and Mary Cook married 5 Aug 1821 to Zebulon Parsons.
We turned to Jane Walsh and the Gloucester Archives for help. Jane found the bride-to-be had been identified most recently by Mary H. (Johnston) Sibbalds (1926-2009) in The descendants of Jeffery Parsons of Gloucester, Massachusetts, 2 vols (Salem, Mass: Higginson, 2003, 2006). Working over the weekend, Jane locate Sibbalds' passages and other information that would help us further identify this Mary Cook.
Very interesting dates, no? (Hint ... timeline ... Is it likely the same John Preston filed an intention to marry Mary Cook in June 1811 at Gloucester, fathered a child with her there b. February 1813 and also married Sophia Ewing in October 1814 at Piqua, Ohio?)
Rockport, where Sibbalds reports Mary (Cook) Parsons is buried, was part of Gloucester until about 1840. ["Rockport," Wikipedia]
We haven't yet obtained Jane's underlying source materials or found other reference to William Pool's source for John Preston's date of birth (as 13 Feb 1813, graphic above). Equally relevant, however, seem a number of negative research results. There is no Preston 1813 birth recorded in the Gloucester vital records [VR Gloucester 1:560] ... nor is a birth of Martha Perkins recorded there in 1810. [VR Gloucester 1:534-535] Indeed, a search in the Massachusetts Vital Record collection at American Ancestors returns no births for "John Preston" between 1810 and 1814. (There were births of two children "John Cook" in the returns--one "John Cook," born 1811 to Francis and Elizabeth at Billerica, Mass; the other, "John Little Cook," born 1814 to Jonathan F. and Mary at Roxbury, Mass.) American Ancestors returns no results from the same collection for births of "Martha Perkins" or "Martha Cook" between 1808 and 1811.
Although we have not been long been researching Mary Cook's son, John Preston, we have identified some information about him from vital records and census returns. An overview of those records follows.
Death register, Rockport, Mass, 1868
John died 31 Aug 1868, age 56 yrs, 6 mos. The death register reports John was born at Rockport to John [Preston] and Mary Cook.
John Preston's marriage was recorded in the early vital records of Gloucester, 19 May 1835 to Mary Ann Sturdevant. [VR Gloucester, 2:439] She died his widow, Mary Ann Preston, at Rockport 8 Feb 1890, ae 78 yrs, 11 mos, said b. Bouwingham [sic], Maine. [FamilySearch.org, "Massachusetts Deaths," cites FHL film 960243 (separately, MAVR, 409:379)] No parents names were listed, but clues to her larger family exist among the various census records we examined.
In the early vital records of Rockport, Massachusetts, we located the births of four children to John Preston and Mary A. [(Sturdevant)] Preston-- [VR Rockport, p. 35] (1) Emma Horton Preston, born 25 April 1840 ("d. John and Mary Ann"); (2) Mary Ann Preston, born 25 Oct 1843 (d. John, stone cutter, and Mary A."); (3) John Preston, born 17 July 1845 ("s. John, stone vender, and Mary A."); (4) Jane C. Preston, born 8 April 1848 ("d. John, stone dealer, and Mary A.")
John and Mary Preston were enumerated at Rockport in the 1840 U.S. census. Their dau. Emma, b. 1840, died 13 Jun 1844, at Rockport. [FamilySearch.org, "Massachusetts Deaths," cites v14 p 97.]
... and at Rockport in the 1850 U.S. census. John is ae 38, a stone cutter, b. Massachusetts. His wife and children Mary A., John, Jr., and Jane C. are reported. Son John Preston died 06 Mar 1851, at Rockport. [FamilySearch.org, "Massachusetts Deaths," cites v57 p 152]
... and again at 1860. John is ae 48, a stone cutter, born Massachusetts. His wife and children Mary A. and Jane C. are reported in the home. Also residing in the home is Harrison Sturdevant, ae 13, and Elizabeth ?Beaton, ae 17, reportedly a servant.
Massachusetts State Census for 1855 and 1865, transcribed, are available at American Ancestors. John Preston, at Rockport, was reported in both. In the 1855 state census, he was ae 43, born Mass. In the 1865 record, he was ae 43, born Rockport. [AmericanAncestors.org, "Massachusetts State Census Transcriptions for 1855 and 1865 (Essex, Middlesex, and Plymouth Co.)"]
Who's this John and Mary Preston?
One John Preston was reported in the 1810 U.S. census at Grafton, Grafton County, New Hampshire (2-0-2-0-0^0-0-1-0-0). This is almost certainly the John and Mary whose children's Grafton births were recorded New Hampshire vital records. A son, Alpheus Preston was born 02 Nov 1804 [NHVR] -- well in advance of the Preston-Cook intention. Also recorded at Grafton were Burton Preston, b. 21 Dec 1809 [NHVR] and Lydia Preston, b. 22 Jan 1811. [NHVR]
We have researched the family and corresponded with descendants who believe the mother to be Mary/Polly (Tucker) Preston. In brief, see also (a) FindaGrave entry for John Preston at Button Cemetery; (b) biographical sketches about grandsons Nathan G. Preston [Lovejoy* (1911), 2:917 ; descendants call him Nathan Greenough Preston (E. Smith to GJ, e-mails of 16 Oct 2008-1 Jan 2009)] and George Washington Preston [Lovejoy* (1911), 2:917]; (c) John J. Dearborn, History of Salisbury, New Hampshire (1890), for "The Tucker Family," Polly Tucker, therein no. 25; (d) Vermont Probate (Tunbridge), estate (17 Dec 1819-4 Oct 1822) of John Preston (referenced in E. Smith to GJ, emails 2008-2009).
From our separate research, the John Preston in Grafton at 1810 was probably the man by that name b. 1 Sept 1786 to Robert Greenough Preston and his wife, Hannah Brown. [Vermont vital records (recorded at Strafford), extracted] This Robert Greenough Preston, born 12 Aug 1766 at Chester, New Hampshire [NHVR] was a first cousin of William Preston (1754-1842) of Rumney. [Among many others, Robert Preston, S 41,077, New Hampshire line, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804]
*Evelyn M. Wood Lovejoy, History of Royalton, Vermont, with family genealogies, 1769-1911 (1911) 2:917; digital images, InternetArchive (www.archive.org : accessed Dec 2009). Sigh. The link to pages referenced above broke prior to publishing this article. Assuming the links update, I'll include them again as an update to the blog.
1808 S. Masten to Wm Preston, Jr.
On 17 March 1808, William Preston, Jr. of Rumney purchased a one-half interest in land described at Groton from Samuel Masten. The graphic below represents our working image and transcription of the deed; it was recorded in 1808.
We are confident the grantee in this transaction was William Preston (b. 1780), son of William and Elizabeth. Reading the early Grafton County deeds contributed to our identification--William (1754-1842) had been referred to in deeds as as "William Preston, Jr." during the time his father, William Preston (1728-1804) lived at Rumney.
In our research, we learned little about Samuel Masten.
This 1808 deed is the one of two records we identify with the son, William Preston [Jr.], b. 1780, at New Hampshire. Notice of the second record follows.
Hanover, Grafton County, New Hampshire, is a town along the Connecticut River at the Vermont border. Dartmouth College is located in Hanover. Frederick Chase and John King Lord, A History of Dartmouth College and the town of Hanover, New Hampshire (2 vols 1890, 1913), 2:631-33, tells the story of attempts to construct improved passage along the falls at Hanover. The project suffered a series of setbacks and "in September 1808, half the dam at the lower fall, in the course of construction, was carried away by another freshet and three of the workmen ... were drowned." The next month, October 1808, a series of contracts were let in the hope of repairing and improving upon the former design. As part of that October effort, the group contracted with "William and Collin Preston" to "blast out and compete the lock." [Chase and Lord (1913) 2:633]
It is not clear that the Preston contract was a successful one. Lord writes, "Mr. Olcott called his brother-in-law, Ben Porter, to his aid, and gave work into other hands, but the enterprise still suffered from the careless work that had already been put into it ... The upper lock was so poorly constructed that on being filled for the first time with water it wholly burst and had to be torn down and rebuilt at great expense ... Not until 1810 were the works completed as to be effectual ... Mr. Olcott found that he had expended, instead of the $300 originally contemplated, nearly $23,000 on the work itself ..."
We have an outstanding inquiry with the college to learn if the archived papers mention or otherwise identify William or Collins Preston.
The 1829 deed ("One Good Deed") was originally read and transcribed to read, "I William Preston of Defiance in the State of Ohio ... for ... the sum of three hundred dollars ... paid by Collins Preston of Rumney ... miner ..."
In 2007, however, we discovered a series of 1812 Boston death notices for "Collins Preston, late of Rumney, NH, ae 31." One such obituary appears in the graphic below.
Alas, there was more than one Collins Preston of Rumney. Meet Collins Preston, the younger, who in 1829 was a "minor" (graphic below).
Odds 'n ends
(a) William P.'s pension file. William Preston (1754-1842) served in the Revolutionary War and was a pensioner at the time of his death. His pension file (S3222; W2667; Bounty Land Warrant 5079-160-55) does not mention sons William Preston or John Preston. The file mentions as family only his second wife, Mary (Herbert) Preston, and two of his children, neither of whom are directly named. The most direct reference therein about the two children mentioned is found in a document titled, "A list of my Famaly" [ca1819-1820] (graphic below). The document might be better described as a list of the campaigns in which William served. A research log/outline of William Preston's entire pension file can be read here.
(b) Rumney Then and Now. The family of William Preston (1754-1842) was covered in J.A. Barney's 1967 work, Rumney, Then and Now. There is no mention of son William in Barney's overview.
(c) More family group tid bits. With the exception of sons William and John Preston, we have located proof of death about each of the other children born to William Preston (1754-1842). All of the records located report deaths at New England, or, in the case of his youngest daughter, at Illinois. I maintain a research log showing, for each family member, if we have located a vital record, gravestone reading and/or picture, obituary and/or other death related information. See the graphic below.
Various documents about early New Hampshire are recorded in the The State and Provincial Papers of New Hampshire (aka, New Hampshire State Papers, NHSP). We keep a research log/worksheet about our work with the NHSP. See the graphic below.
While it is not represented in the graphic that follow, we also maintain a clipping file of various newspaper items that have been located about family members.
(d) Probate. No probate file has been located for William Preston deceased 1842, nor for William or John Preston at Grafton County, New Hampshire. Probate files at New Hampshire exist for two of William and Elizabeth Preston's children--Washington Preston (dec'd 1825) and Michael Preston (dec'd 1849); worksheet follows.
This article (2.10) is the final installment to Part 2 (ala, our historical research) in the series, "Sheriff William Preston's identity crisis." We have presented information we learned about William and John Preston at Ohio, and select information about the family of William Preston (1754-1842) in the area of Rumney, New Hampshire, and other parts of New England.
Genealogy is a journey. The next article is a record of how we use the information to solve identity and relationship questions about Sheriff William Preston.