Friday, March 31, 2017

Genealogy Story – Daniel Pierpont Bible

Recently I had the pleasure of purchasing an old bible on Ebay that had belonged to Daniel Pierpont. I have since donated it to the Pierpont Family Association for their archives. It will be available for viewing at the Pierpont Family Reunion this summer. But since many of you may not be able to attend, I’d like to post what was in this bible.

While most of the information is just a confirmation of the information in our official family genealogy, what I find most interesting is the commentary that is included with some of the entries. This commentary is what takes if from a simple list of facts to something much more personal. In particular, I am drawn to the story of the young baby who died suddenly and was interred in the same casket as her mother. Also of interest is the story about the family member (Jared Pierpont) who apparently joined a group in NY (the Missionary Society of the Chernango Association of Universalists), married a daughter of one of the group’s leaders, and had nearly no communication with their family back in CT until 4 years later when they came home for a visit and he died shortly after arriving.

The binding of this book was repaired and these blank leaves put in in the year of our Lord 1826.
Below is a translation of the genealogical records on these blank leaves. I have inserted the Pierpont Family genealogy markers in square brackets. The items in italics are the areas of conflict with the Pierpont Family genealogy, but as this bible is a contemporary record, the genealogy should be corrected.

Some extracts from ancient records of the Pierponts
It appears that the Rev James Pierpont [20>16] was ordained in New Haven July 2nd 1685. Said Rev. James dies Nov 22nd 1714.
Joseph Pierpont [20>165] son of said James & the first of the names that settled in North Haven was born October 21st 1704 – was married to Hannah Russel youngest daughter of the Rev. Nodiah Russel of Middletown September 27th 1727. He died November 24th 1748 leaving his widow and 10 children who were born as follows:
[[what about James [20>1651] b 1726, d 1727? Note that this is before above date of marriage!]]
Samuel [20>1652] April 16 1729
Joseph [20>1653] Sept 13 1730
James [20>1654] Oct 2 1732
[[what about Dorothy [20>1655] 1733 dy]]
Benjamin [20>1656] Jan 7 1735
Hannah [20>1657] Nov 12 1736
Mary [20>1658] Oct 20 1738
Giles [20>1659] June 4 1741
Abigail [20>1650] June 6 1743
Hezekiah [20>165a] Sept 27 1745
Sarah [20>165b] July 31 1747
Said Widow Hannah was married to Samuel Hackett Esq. the 6th day of August 1752.
Said Sam Hackett Esq died February 1781.
Said Widow Hannah died June 6th 1791

Giles Pierpont the son of Joseph Pierpont died January 16th 1832 aged 91 years 7 months & 12 days

Joseph Pierpont Esq.

Joseph Pierpont [20>1653] the 2nd son of Joseph Pierpont was married to Lydia Bassett Sept 21st 1756 [[Genealogy has Mar 21st]]
Ezra [20>16531] the first child born July 11th 1757
Joseph [20>16532] the 2nd child born April 28th 1760
Russel [20>16533] the 3rd child born May 17th 1763
Lydia [20>16534] the 4th child born Nov 18th 1766
Lucy [20>16535] the 5th child born Oct 21st 1771
Daniel [20>16536] the 6th child born May 16th 1775
Lydia wife of Joseph died Nov 9th 1783 (48)
Lydia his daughter died Sept 9th 1788 (22)
Son Joseph was married to Annis Blakeslee of Plymouth Oct 26th 1791 [[Genealogy says Esther Bishop]]
Lucy his daughter died Nov 4th 1792 (21)
His wife Annis died Sept 8th 1800 (66)
Said Joseph Pierpont Esq [20>1653] died at my house in the 94th year of his age Feb 8th 1824
Joseph Pierpont 2nd son of Joseph died June 30th 1833 (73)
Ezra his 1st son died at Waterbury home he had a long time resident January 5th 1842 (86-1/2) [[Genealogy says Jan 6th]]
Russell his 3rd son died at Hamden where he first settled December 12th 1844 (81-1/2)
Daniel Pierpont his 6th child and last son died at North Haven November 16th 1851 (76-1/2)
Mrs Esther wife of Daniel Pierpont died at North Haven August 17th 1864 (90-1/4)

Daniel Pierpont’s Family

Daniel Pierpont [20>16536] and Esther Homiston (the daughter of Samuel & Mary Homiston of Hamden) were married September 26th 1799.
Their children were born as follows:
Bede [20>165361] the first child born December 10th 1800
Elias [20>165362] the 2nd child born April 21st 1803
Esther [20>165363] the 3rd child born September 1st 1805
Harriet [20>165364] the 4th child born February 13th 1808
Sally [20>165365] the 5th child born December 10th 1811
Jared [20>165366] the 6th child born June 26th 1814
Rufus [20>165367] the 7th child born March 5th 1818

Said Samuel Homiston died June 20th 1809, he was 66 years on the 16th day of May 1809
Said Mary Homiston died June 6th 1820, she was 70 years old

Said Bede Pierpont [20>165361] our first child was married to Merrit S Pierpont the eldest son of Mrs. Philaman Pierpont June 15th 1823
Daniel Lorenzo their first child was born at Oxford in the State of New York where they resided on August 15th 1826
Bede Eliza their 2nd child was born at the same place September the 10th day of 1826
Harriet Ann their 3rd child was born at the same place September 18th 1828
Daniel Lorenzo died in November [[of that year?]]
Mrs Bede Pierpont after a long and distressing illness produced from the effects of a cancer died at Oxford New York Feb 22nd 1851 in her 51st year

Our daughter Esther Pierpont [20>165363] was married to Ezra Stiles April 30th 1829
They moved to the Doc Trumbull House May same year
[[none of their children in genealogy]]
Their first child (a son) was born February 14th 1831
Said child lived about 18 hours and dies
Their 2nd child (a son) was born February 1st 1833
[[note – picking up their story on next page of insert]]
Charles William Stiles son of Ezra was born Feb 1st and baptized b the Rev. Charles William Bradley Marth 31st 1833.
Esther Josephine their 3rd child born March 22nd 1836 and baptized by Rev H Croswell
Mrs. Stiles the mother & our 3rd child after a severe & distressing sickness which commenced soon after the birth of the said Esther J died on Monday evening at ½ past 11 September 26 1836
Said Esther J who a few minutes before the death of its mother was a plump bright and apparently healthy child died September 28th 1836 at ½ past 7 in the morning & was placed in same coffin with its mother and interred together in the afternoon of the same day [[what a tragedy!]]
Said Charles William Stiles died at Waterbury where his father then lived on the 7th of August 1839, was brought down & interred at North Haven

Sally Pierpont [20>165365] our 5th child died Wednesday July 27th 1831 at about 11 o’clock P.M. in the 20th year of her age. She

Our son Elias [20>165362] was married to Sophronia L Gill Sept 28th 1831
They removed to New Haven to house keeping Oct 12th 1831
Their first child (a son) was born Sept 10th 1834, they named the child Oscar. He was baptized on the 8th day of December 1834 and died the same day
They had another child still born in the month of July 1841, on the 11th of September 1841 [[Not in genealogy]]
Said Sophronia went to Bridgeport on a visit – she was taken sick with the dysentery on the 12th – Elias went down on the 21st & stayed with [her] until her death – she died October 18th at 6 o’clock in the morning (age 33) – was brot up and interred in the North Haven Oct 19th 1841.
Our 1st son Elias was again married by Rev. Daniel Croswell to Miss Grace Bradley of New Haven on the 24th of August 1842
Harriett Augusta their first child was born at New Haven April 18th 1846
Austin Brainerd Fuller was married to Harriett August Pierpont Sunday February 11th 1868
Their first son, Pierpont Fuller born June 25 1869
Their second son Clement Austin born Dec 26 1873
Their third child a daughter Grace Pierpont Fuller June 22 1882

It appears from an Oxford paper of June 5th 1840 that our son Jared Pierpont [20>165366] was married at Smithville Chenango County & State of N.Y. by Elder Miller to Fanny daughter of Abraham Tillotson of the same place. [[Last name not in genealogy]] [[Note that Fanny’s legal name is Frances – she and her son Lagrand appear in the 1850 census in Smithville]]
[[this should clear up the questions in the genealogy]]
On the 27th of May 1840, Le Grand Adolphus dies. [[Note that this individual is NOT their son, but the person whom they named their son after!]]
It appears from Jared’s letter dated Smithville March 13th 1843 that his son named Le Grand Adolphus was born (at Smithville where they still reside) on the 16th day of November 1842.
Our son Jared, his wife & child all arrived here on the 26th of November 1846 (Thanksgiving Day) intending a visit for the winter. We had never seen his wife and child before – he commenced teaching [at] a school in Hamden on the 1st of December, was then taken sick & got home on the 11th, had taught the school 9 days. He died on the 19th of December 1846 at 8 o’clock in the evening (32-1/2) was buried on the 21st – his wife and child stayed with us until the 21st of January 1847 (except about one week with Elias) when they took a passage on the 6am & returned home.
Said child was baptized at our house by the Rev. M Everest on the 12th day of Jan 1847 & called Jared Lagrand [[thus the confusion with his father’s name]] [witnessed by] Elias, his wife, Garnet and Rufus-Shonias [[these names difficult to read]]

Rufus [20>165367] our youngest son was married to Harriet Richards at Waterbury on the 14th day of September 1847 and brought her home on the 15th of the same month.
His first child was born November 28th 1849. Said child was sick about one week – was baptized by the Rev. M Everest on the 27 of January 1850 – name Elias Richards. Said child died on the 29 of January 1850
Daniel Hobart, their 2nd son born May 8th 1851
Joseph their 3rd son born March 11th 1853
George Rufus their 4th son born September 3rd 1854
Rufus Pierpont was taken suddenly bleeding at the lungs on Thursday the 26th July & continued bleeding until the 31st July 1855 when he died aged 37 years & 4 months
Daniel Hobert(sp?) graduated at the Scientific College New Haven class of 1871, died May 17th 1874
Joseph Pierpont son of Rufus and Harriett Pierpont married Hattie B Brockett May 20th 1875
Grace Genevieve daughter of Joseph and Hattie born Nov 16 1877
Richards Brockett their son born November 12th 1881
Joseph their 2nd son born March 26th 1888 – born the week after the great blizzard
George R Pierpont married Anna B Chaney daughter of Cyrus Chaney Oct 10 1876 [[date not in genealogy]]

Harriet Ann daughter of Meritt J and Bede Pierpont died at the residence of her uncle Elias Pierpont in New Haven on the 18th day of April 1885 age 26 years & 7 months
Meritt Pierpont died in Oxford N York December 23 18[[year not written]]

Elias Pierpont died at New Haven Sunday Eve August 12th 1883, age 80 years 3 months 22 days

Genealogy Story – The VanDeCar Family

It appears that the name VanDeCar (and its many alternate spellings/capitalizations) had its origins in America. Prior to the 1600s in New Netherlands (the Dutch settlement along the Hudson River in what is now New York), the Dutch used a Patronymic naming system where the names of the children were based on the father’s first name. This system of naming still existed alongside of the English surname system for a while, but when the British took over that area and renamed it New York they outlawed the prior Dutch practice. Thus it is quite possible that the “original” VanDeCar was not born with that name, but adopted it around 1664 when the British took over.

Here is the lineage from the first recorded individual with that name through my wife’s father – a rather short ten generations. Note that there were alternate forms of the last name used over this timeframe.

Dirk Van der Karre (1637-1727), m. Patricia Bikle Anderson, Ulster NY (New Netherlands)
Dirk Dirksz Van der Karre (1663-1743), m. Feytje Claesz Van Schaack
Note that he is using a combination naming system with Dirk being his first name, Dirksz being the patronymic meaning “son of Dirk”, and then the English surname convention.
Salomon Van Der Kerr (1696-1766), m. Helena Albertson
Ruloffe VanDerKar (1745-1830), m. Sarah Reynolds, moved to Ontario in 1787
Ruloffe was a British sympathizer in the Revolutionary War. He was apparently a member of “Jessup’s Rangers” who were Tory spies, hence the move to Canada when the war ended. A book about the Torys notes that “Ruloff Van Der Karre escaped up the river to Canada on a riverboat.”
John Vandecar (1788-1878), m. Nancy Ann Terry, born in Canada after his father’s move
Annanias VanDeCar (1830-1899), m. Lucinda Sherman, moved to Washtenaw, MI
Dennis Oliver Vandecar (1854-1925), m. Cordelia Huntley
Dennis Birley Vandecar (1877-1924), m. Alta Larrow, moved to Wayne County, MI
Archibald Earl VanDeCar (1897-1963), m. Gertrude Duba
Charles David VanDeCar (1923-2006), m. Mary Ellen Wright, moved to Charlevoix County, MI

The first recorded information with this name is the marriage (First banns) of Dirk Van der Karre to Feytje Clausz on August 7, 1687. Feytje is noted as being from Kinderhook. These records are from the church records of the Dutch Reformed Church in NY.
The next recorded information is a baptismal record for Ariantje by her father Dirk Van der Karre on January 8, 1690.
The baptism of Salomon is recorded on June 28, 1696.  A witness was Feytje’s father, Antoni Van Schayk

When my wife and I got married, she used to chide me how she had to give up such a nice last name (with three capital letters) for the rather common name of Russell. But she knew little of her ancestry except that they came from Canada.

But as you can see from the above, her VDC relatives have been in America just as long as my Russell and Pierpont relatives who emigrated from England in the same timeframe. So she has nothing to be ashamed of.

This is still a relatively uncommon name. As of the most recent records (see, there are fewer than 600 individuals with this last name in the world. Nearly all of them are in the US, with 5 in Canada, 22 in England, and one each in Brazil and South Africa. There are none in the Netherlands.

Current variant spellings include Vandekar, Vandecarr, van Decar, van de Car, and others.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Marrying a Cousin – Part 4

My previous posts on this topic have all involved my family – myself and my wife, my parents, and my grandparents. This last one involves my wife’s parents.

At first glance, one wonders how such a thing could happen, as my wife’s mother is descended from primarily English stock, with long roots in New England – including ancestors who came over on the Mayflower. And my wife’s father’s ancestors were primarily from Canada with linkages back to the Dutch settlers in New Netherlands (before it was taken over by the British and renamed New York). But here is the story behind how their family trees are intertwined.

Their common ancestor is Robert Fuller (1548-1614) who lived in Redenhall, England. Robert had two sons, Samuel (1580-1633) and Edward (1575-1621). Samuel and Edward, together with Edward’s wife and son Samuel (just a young lad at the time), both came to Massachusetts in 1620 on the Mayflower. But Edward and his wife were among those who did not survive that first winter. It’s quite possible that Samuel, their son, was then raised by his uncle. Samuel’s wife, whom had been left behind in Holland, joined him in America in 1623.

The descendant chains to my wife’s parents were as follows:

Robert Fuller (1548-1614)
Samuel Fuller (1580-1633)
Samuel Fuller (1624-1695) – born after Samuel’s wife rejoined him in Plymouth, married a granddaughter of William Brewster
Samuel Fuller (1658-1727)
Seth Fuller (1692-1773)
Deborah Fuller (1733-1758), married Joseph Tinkham
Joseph Tinkham (1757-1822), moved to Palmyra, NY
Molly Tinkham (1787-1874), married Lewis Bedford, moved to Geauga, OH
Amelia Bedford (1821-1891), married Andrew Jackson Barrows
Abigail Barrows (1841-1920), married Jonah Wright, moved to Antrim County, MI
Frank Wright (1879-1957)
Mary Ellen Wright (1924-2010)

Robert Fuller (1548-1614)
Edward Fuller (1575-1621)
Samuel Fuller (1612-1683)
John Fuller (1655-1725), moved from MA to CT with his family
Samuel Fuller (1682-1757)
Mary Fuller (1721-aft 1680), married Thomas Millard
The Millards were not in favor of the colonists during the run-up to the Revolutionary War. They requested and were granted asylum in Canada. Their daughter Sarah was born in Pennsylvania during the long trip from Connecticut to Ontario.
Sarah Millard (1771-1837), married Edward Turner
Nancy Turner (1805-1936), married David Sicklesteel
Sarah Sicklesteel (1824-1896), married Charles Kitchen, moved to Antrim County, Michigan
Nancy Kitchen (1849-1936), married Christopher Swaney
Rachel Swaney (1883-1955), married William Duba
Gertrude Duba (1901-1972), married Archie VanDeCar
Charles VanDeCar (1923-2005)

That means that my wife’s parents were 10th cousins, once removed. Neither of them were aware of this connection when they married. When I began my genealogical research and was able to discover the chain back to the Mayflower for my mother-in-law, she was pleasantly surprised. I was not able to do this level of research for my father-in-law until after he passed away, especially as his roots were all back into Canada until before the Revolutionary War. 

Genealogy Story – Harvard and Yale

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about the religious roots of my hometown (see In this blog I briefly mentioned Harvard and Yale in the context of the overall religious development of New England in the 1600s. But this got me started thinking about some of the men involved, as it appeared that certain families were responsible for filling many of the pastorates of the time. So I went back through that research, this time focusing on individuals instead of the overall movement.

The Organization of American Culture, 1700-1900: Private Institutions, Elites, and the Origins of American Nationality, pages 47-50, put it this way:

The clergy, unlike farmers or artisans, were relatively successful in developing effective local and trans-local alliances which, in turn, led to patterns of collective action and to formal corporate institutions. This is not surprising, for the clergy were, by their very nature, a group with clearly defined common interests, a group whose members had been trained together at either Harvard or Yale (thus having shared an intensive common socialization experience), who were often sons of clergymen themselves (thus having kin-continuity), and who presided over a social institution, the church, whose interests they had a vital interest in preserving. The clergy, as earlier suggested, followed simultaneously two patterns of alliance-making, a bifurcation dictated by the non-inheritable nature of the clerical office. On the one hand, they cultivated close ties with important lay families in the communities in which they served, which strengthened their power in their congregations and opened up occupational opportunities for their sons. On the other hand, they cultivated trans-local alliances with other clergymen (to consolidate professional identity) and with powerful laymen (to further the interests of the church).


Harvard was established in 1636 in the middle of the “Great Migration” of individuals, most of them Puritans, from England to New England – specifically to Massachusetts Bay. While there was a small amount of teaching in the first few years, they did not own any property until 1638, the same year that John Harvard, a graduate of Cambridge in England, willed the school his library of 300-400 books. The first college president was appointed in 1640 and the first graduates were from 1642. Harvard was the first college in the US, predating the second oldest, William & Mary by over 50 years, and Yale by 65 years. So for that period of time it was the only place to get a college education in America.

Its original purpose was to train ministers. As some of the “elite” of society, there was a tendency for the offspring of ministers to follow in their family tradition, so many of those who attended were the sons of other ministers. Also, the faculty of the college were also trained ministers. While those in these positions in the beginning were educated elsewhere, such as John Harvard, it would not be many years before their own graduates would become the faculty and administration. I’d like to focus on the first several presidents of Harvard, their background and families, especially as it relates to New England history and genealogy.

·         Henry Dunster (1609-1658), president from 1640-1654, educated in Cambridge. He came to America under the sponsorship of Rev. Richard Mather (see further information below on the Mather family)

·         Charles Chauncy (1592-1672), president from 1654-1672, educated in Cambridge. He originally served as the pastor at Plymouth, MA, then Scituate. But he had issues because he insisted on baptism by immersion only. When he was hired by Harvard he had to promise the leaders in Boston that he would keep his views on baptism quiet. His 6 sons all went to Harvard (see Israel Chauncy in section on Yale).

·         Leonard Hoar (1630-1675), president from 1672-1675, Harvard class of 1650. He had no sons to carry on his tradition.

·         Urian Oakes (1631-1681), president from 1675-1681, Harvard class of 1649.

·         John Rogers (1630-1684), president from 1682-1684, Harvard class of 1649. Came from a long line of ministers, the most well-known of whom was his great-great-grandfather, John “The Martyr” Rogers (1505-1555), who completed the translation work of William Tyndale and published his bible in 1537 and who was subsequently martyred. (He is my 3rd cousin 10 times removed, and the 1st cousin 6 times removed of my grandmother’s second husband (i.e. my step-grandfather))

·         Increase Mather (1639-1723), president from 1685-1701, Harvard class of 1656. He was the youngest of six brothers, three others besides himself becoming ministers. See further information below on the Mather family.

·         Samuel Willard (1640-1707), acting-president from 1701-1707, Harvard class of 1659.
It is of interest to note how many of these presidents died in office. Samuel Willard was the last of the college presidents to also be a minister. See section below on Harvard-to-Yale transition for further information on this.

Yale University

Yale was founded in 1701 as the Collegiate School of Connecticut. For this section I’d like to focus on the founders of the college. There were ten men, all ministers of the Congregational Church in Connecticut, who met at the home of Samuel Russell (another minister) in 1701 to pool their books (some 400 in all) as the basis for a library and then to present a proposal to the government of Connecticut Colony for the establishment of what would eventually become Yale. All but one of these men were graduates of Harvard, the only institution of higher learning in New England at the time.

·         Samuel Andrew (1656-1738), Harvard class of 1675, pastor in Milford, CT – Rector in 1707-1719, while at Harvard was a tutor to James Pierpont, Samuel Russell, Noadiah Russell, and Joseph Webb. He and Samuel Mather married sisters. His granddaughter married the grandson of Noadiah Russell and James Pierpont.

·         Thomas Buckingham (1646-1709), the only non-Harvard graduate, pastor in Saybrook, CT – the founders originally agreed to locate the Collegiate School in Saybrook and it was only with much resistance that it was relocated to New Haven.

·         Israel Chauncy (1644-1703), pastor in Stratford, CT – son of Charles Chauncy, president of Harvard, he and James Webb married sisters. In addition to his father, a brother and nephew were also ministers.

·         Samuel Mather (1650-1727), Harvard class of 1671, pastor in Windsor, CT – cousin of Cotton Mather

·         Rev. James Noyes II (1640-1719), Harvard class of 1659, pastor in Stonington, CT – a cousin to Timothy Woodbridge, father, grandfather, and other relatives were also ministers.

·         James Pierpont (1659-1714), Harvard class of 1681, pastor in New Haven, CT – related to Abraham Pierson by one marriage and to Thomas Buckingham by another marriage. His children married descendants of Noadiah Russell, Samuel Russell, and James Noyes. Five of his children either became ministers or were married to one. (See for further details).

·         Abraham Pierson (1646-1707), Harvard class of 1668, pastor in Killingworth, CT (later renamed Clinton) – first Rector of the Collegiate School, was supposed to teach in Saybrook, but due to his pastoral duties, taught at his parsonage in Killingworth. Son of a minister.

·         Noadiah Russell (1659-1713), Harvard class of 1681, pastor in Middletown, CT – two of his sons also became ministers.

·         Joseph Webb (1666-1732), Harvard class of 1684, pastor in Fairfield, CT

·         Timothy Woodbridge (1655-1732), pastor in Hartford, CT – son of a minister, his brother and son were also ministers. His daughter married a son of Abraham Pierson.

·         Samuel Russell (1660-1731), Harvard class of 1681, pastor in Branford, CT – 2nd son of Rev. John Russell (1626-1692) of Hadley, MA, Harvard 1645, ministered in Wethersfield CT 1650-1659, then left CT and founded Hadley MA

The Mather Family

The Mather family had some considerable influence in the Puritan community. Rev. Richard Mather was a preacher of great reputation in England, but advised by letters of John Cotton and Thomas Hooker, he was persuaded to join the company of pilgrims in May 1635 and left for the New England with his wife and children. He was desired by several communities, but decided to settle in Dorchester. As noted above, he was the sponsor of Henry Dunster and convinced him to move to America in 1640 and take the role of the first president of Harvard. A book written in 1890, Lineage of Richard Mather, gives a list of 80 clergymen descended from Richard Mather, of whom 29 bore the name Mather and 51 other names such as Storrs and Schauffer.

Richard’s son, Increase Mather, received his education at Harvard and became its president in 1701. Increase also married Maria Cotton, the daughter of another prominent minister in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Cotton. He was greatly involved, not only in the church, but the government of the colony, and, most notoriously, the Salem witch trials, although his son, Cotton, was the most principally involved.

Their son, Cotton Mather, named after his grandfather, while not following in his father’s footsteps as a college president, was also very prominent in the community. During his life he wrote more than 450 books and pamphlets and helped set the moral tone in the colonies. He also influenced early American science with some of the first recorded experiments on corn hybridization in the colonies. In 1689, Mather published a book detailing the supposed afflictions of several children in a Boston family. This laid the groundwork for the Salem witch trials which were in 1692. While Mather called himself a historian and not an advocate, his writing largely presumed the guilt of the accused. Only two of Cotton Mather’s children survived him.

A grandson of Richard Mather, Rev. Samuel Mather, was one of the founding members of the Collegiate School of Connecticut.

Shifting focus from Harvard to Yale

By 1701, and coincident with the founding of the Collegiate School, there were some individuals who were getting disenchanted with Harvard. In particular, Increase Mather, then the 6th president of Harvard, viewed Harvard clergy as increasingly liberal, ecclesiastically lax and overly broad in church polity. So he championed the Collegiate School hoping it would maintain the Puritan religious orthodoxy.

In some ways this was similar to the reasoning of John Davenport in 1639 who took a large group of men with him as he moved from the Boston area to New Haven because they felt that the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony were not appropriately distant from the Church of England (see

In 1716, with the Collegiate School growing, Cotton Mather contacted Elihu Yale for financial help. It was these funds that prompted the movement of the school from Saybrook to New Haven, the building of the first permanent buildings, and the renaming of the school to Yale.

Pierpont Connections

Besides James Pierpont mentioned above, there were a number of my other individuals who are connected to these men. Here are just a few:

Jonathan Edwards, son of Timothy Edwards (minister at East Windsor CT) and Esther Stoddard (daughter of Rev. Solomon Stoddard of Northampton, MA), entered Yale in 1716 at age 13. He married Sarah Pierpont in 1727. Solomon Stoddard died in 1729 and left Jonathan the sole ministerial charge of one of the largest and wealthiest congregations in the colony. With the growing influence of Yale in the Puritan faith, he had considerable influence.

One of the children of Samuel Mather, Abigail, was a maternal great-great-grandmother to Samuel Pierpont Langley (1834-1906). Samuel’s paternal grandmother was Emily Montague Pierpont, the great-great-granddaughter of Ebenezer Pierpont, a younger brother of James Pierpont above. Samuel attended Boston Latin like many of the men above. He was an American astronomer, physicist and pioneer of aviation as well as the founder of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Langley Air Force Base and the NASA Langley Research Center are named after him.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Surviving a Kidney Stone

One day in 2001 I woke with a huge pain in my back. It was so severe as to be debilitating. I made a trip to the ER at our local hospital where it was diagnosed as a kidney stone. By that time the pain was subsiding, but they gave me a prescription for a strong pain killer. As I left, the ER nurse said, “We’ll probably be seeing you again.” How true that turned out to be.

That had been a Saturday evening. The next day was pretty normal – went to church, etc. But on Monday evening it came back with a vengeance. The prescription said no more than one pill every six hours. I took one, but after only two hours it was no longer effective. I was literally rolling on the floor of the bathroom, writhing in pain like I’d never felt before. My wife had never seen me in pain like that either, but there was nothing she could do for me. Childbirth is supposed to be the ultimate pain for women, but I’ve since talked to women who said that pain from a kidney stone is even worse. I can believe it. So, back to the ER it was!

They ask you to evaluate your pain on a scale of 1-10 in the ER. My response was, “I suppose there could be something worse, but this is on the plus side of 9.” They began giving me injections of morphine – one, then another, then a third. By then they were up to 9 cc’s and the pain finally went away. The nurse said, “Usually the number you give on the 1-10 scale is about the number of cc’s that it takes. They were right on with this one. Since it was late evening by this point, they admitted me, kept me on a high dose of pain killers for the night and scheduled the procedure for early the following morning.

A CT scan and x-ray confirmed that this was a uric acid stone, not the more common calcium stone (calcium stones show up on an x-ray, but uric acid stones do not – the technical term is that they are radiolucent). It was about the size of a pencil eraser and was lodged in the opening out of the kidney – definitely too large to pass. The treatment was to insert a stent into the ureter between the kidney and the bladder that had a curl (like a pig’s tail) on the upper end (they put it in straight and it curls when they release it). This kept the stone from blocking the opening. This surgery is done under anesthesia. The doctor said that when they put it in there was a large amount of infection (pus) behind it and the pressure that was building in the kidney from not being able to drain was contributing to the pain. He put me on a regimen of a liquid that was added to glasses of water (tasted like mild lemon juice). This liquid turned my urine alkaline so that it would help to dissolve the stone over the next 10 days.

I had an appointment at the end of the 10 days to remove the stent. While this is also done under anesthesia, it is an outpatient procedure. One interesting side-note is that when I walked into the OR, the OR nurse turned out to be someone whom I knew. I was initially a little concerned as the procedure involves your “privates,” but realized that she would just be doing her job, so I put aside any modesty. The stone by this time had shrunk to less than half its original size. The doctor tried to grab it with a small pair of alligator clips (again inserted into the penis and up the urethra then up the ureter), but it had been made very brittle by the alkaline urine and so it just broke apart into small bits that were easily passed.

I now take a daily allopurinol pill that keeps my urine less acidic so I won’t get another one. This is the same treatment as is used for gout – which happens when the same type of uric acid crystallizes in your lower extremity joints (knees, ankles) and causes pain. But nothing like the pain of that kidney stone. I NEVER want to have to go through that again, so that pill is one that I never neglect to take!

In an earlier blog I wrote about my heart attack ( So it’s only appropriate that I also write about this other major medical issue in my life. This one is adapted from my autobiography (My Life – available on – see But since relatively few copies of that have ever been purchased, I thought I’d post it again on my blog.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Reflections on Retirement

This week marks ten years since I “retired.” I put that word in quotes because one really never stops, but just changes focus. As I often tell people, “I don’t do anything I get paid for.” So, how have the last ten years been? Are they the same or different from what I imagined? And did I make the right choice to retire when I did? The short answers are “great”, “very different”, and “yes”, but there is obviously much more to it than that.

There were several things that together convinced me that the time was right to retire. First, I had always said that I was going to keep working as long as I was still having fun. What I meant by that was that I had no intention of retiring at 65, but planned on keeping going. But there came a time that I realized that the fun had left. One aspect of it was when I got a new manager. He was from the UK and his philosophy was that everyone in his group should do things the same way – it didn’t matter if you were a 25 year-old new hire, or someone like me who had over 30 years of experience. No short cuts allowed, even if you could demonstrate that you were saving either time or money – only the “standard” way was allowed. I felt like my experience was worthless. But the other aspect was that the management of the company was changing and the new operating philosophy was to concentrate on elimination of “waste”. By that he meant that you should be in your office, head down, working. The often informal chats in the hall, even if they were contributing to knowledge sharing and finding better ways of doing things, were not allowed. Even taking a bathroom break should be minimized. The “fun” of working, and of knowing that you were making a contribution, was gone – and in a big way. I wasn’t the only one who felt that – nearly everyone around me who had enough time in that they could afford to leave was leaving as well.

The second thing that convinced me was my health. I had a major heart attack in January of 2005 – one that could easily have ended my life. While I was fully recovered from it in a short time, by the fall of 2006 I realized that I didn’t want to have my life come to an end while working – that I wanted to have some time to enjoy life – whatever of it I had left.

The third thing was that I was finding that all my technical knowledge was becoming obsolete. Over the past few years I had even helped on the project to move any remaining systems off of the corporate mainframe and then seen it turned off. While I still had a ton of “business knowledge” that made me valuable, the technical side of things had totally changed over the past several years.

Finally, I looked at the financial side of things and realized that between my pension, a limited withdrawal from my 401K that I’d been building up for a couple of decades, and eventually Social Security at age 62, that I could be making as much income when not working as I was while working. So there was no financial pressure to keep going.

So in October of 2006, when we were asked by our managers to write out our annual goals (which we did every year), I simply left mine blank and announced that I would be retiring at the end of March. That gave me nearly 6 months to get everything in order, to ensure that my business knowledge got passed along to others, and for me to leave with a good conscience. I followed that plan, got to relax for those months since no one would assign me any projects unless they had a very short deadline, and never looked back.

Financially, things have worked out very well. I early on selected a financial advisor whose Christian perspective matched my own and together we put together a plan that has done as expected. I’ve survived the “great depression” without any issues and have no reason to believe that things will not continue well in this area.

But activity-wise, things have gone very differently. When I retired, my wife was still teaching preschool. In fact, for the first year and a half I was an unpaid teacher’s aide for her. But in mid-2008 she decided to take a sabbatical after teaching for 25 years without a break. Then in August her mother had a few falling episodes and we decided to have my wife spend some extended time in Michigan helping to care for her. That ended up being 12 out of the next 18 months until her mother passed away in early 2010 – leaving me living in PA on my own during those absences. No sooner had my wife come home, then she was repacking to spend time in NJ with our daughter-in-law who was expecting and having some physical issues. Then our daughter, who had gotten married in the interim, and son-in-law began having a family, and, since they lived with us, our life became filled with grandchildren. The first one born in 2010 was soon joined by another in early 2012, then 2013, then a fourth in 2014. So instead of leisurely times we now spend our days in childcare for four growing boys. Not what I was planning on, but I still wouldn’t trade the impact that we are able to have on their lives.

We had started a home renovation project in early 2013, but then boy #3 came along nearly 10 weeks premature and our project came to a screeching halt before it could be completed as we had to help care for a preemie. It’s now nearly 4 years later and we still haven’t been able to get that project restarted! Oh well, maybe one of the days (years?)!

Health-wise, I’ve never been better. As I posted a few months ago, my numbers are all headed in the right direction. For those who care about such things, my triglycerides have always been out of control and peaked at over 950 last year. Now, with the advice of a new primary care physician, my most recent bloodwork showed them at 185. “Normal” is considered 150 or less, which is just a short distance away, but with an 80% drop in just 6 months, she and I are both very pleased.

Even with all the hours that I devote to childcare each day, I’m still finding time to pursue a few of my passions – even if it’s sometimes at 3am. Between genealogy research, history, and blogging, I’ve got a hobby that I can enjoy – and that will keep my mind active. And I’ve still got a few volunteer hats that I wear as well.

So is “retirement” what I expected – no. But am I enjoying it – yes! And was it worth it – most definitely yes!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Genealogy Story – A Cousin-Web

One of the types of genealogy research that I enjoy is the challenge of discovering new cousins. While doing this research for ancestors is challenging enough, doing it for individuals who are still living is even more so, because things like census records since 1940 have not yet been published.

I spent a fair amount of time a few years ago building out the Russell family descendant tree and finding all the descendants first from my great-great-grandfather, Walter J Russell (and thus my 3rd cousins), then going back one more generations to my great*3 grandfather Silas Russell (and thus my 4th cousins). In the process I was able to make connections to many of these individuals and make them part of my friend list in Facebook. 

One such individual is my 3rd cousin, whom I’ll just call here R for anonymity. While the connection for me from Walter J Russell and his wife Lois [Cook] is down the male line (Walter -> Louis -> Erskine -> Vernon -> me), R’s is down a totally female line. Since following female lines is more difficult to the ever-changing last names, this was a fun connection to make.

Recently R posted an old picture of her grandmother and all her siblings. Since these seven individuals are all first cousins to my grandfather, I enjoyed seeing the picture and I commented on it. But the next person to make a comment was another of R’s Facebook friends who had the last name Pierpont (I’ll call them P (again for anonymity)). Seeing the Pierpont last name was a trigger to me, since that is my mother’s maiden name, and a quick check showed that this individual lived in the same part of CT where my mother’s family came from originally. I wondered if P was related to me, and I thought, “How interesting, that one of the friends of my cousin (on my father’s side) might be a cousin on my mother’s side.” Since there were no last name changes to deal with, I did some quick research to see if I could document this P’s Pierpont ancestors.

As I began encountering the typical problems in doing research on living individuals, I made a note of what I was doing. But I soon got a response from R asking why I was doing this research about her cousin. “Your cousin!” I exclaimed, then R told me that P was her first cousin, and she told me about how they were connected. Wow, I thought, we might have a cousin “chain” with each of the three of us being a cousin to the other.

As is not unusual in doing this type of research, I was not able to fully make the connection using available resources. However, I came to the conclusion that P was almost certain a cousin, with the degree of “cousin-ness” being somewhere between 7th and 5th cousin. But as I looked at all the names I realized that there were other connections I needed to include as well.

First, I had previously written about how my parents were distant cousins of each other with Walter J Russell’s wife, Lois Cook’s grandmother being Almira Beecher, and my mother’s great-great-grandmother being Sally Beecher and these two ladies sharing a common ancestry. This made my parent’s 9th cousins of each other (see But since R is also descended from Walter and Lois, this also meant that R and I are 10th cousins as well as 3rd cousins.

Secondly, I had also recently documented a few other incidents where the Pierpont and Russell lines were connected (see One of these is that in the chain leading up from the likely common Pierpont connection between P and myself were Joseph Pierpont (1704) and his wife Hannah Russell. One the Russell side, Hannah is my 8th cousin, 10 times removed. But this has huge implications in the current situation since that distant Russell ancestor is thus a common ancestor of all the recent Pierpont and Russell families. One leg of this long connection is entirely through the Russell last name, the other leg is through Russells down to Hannah Russell, then through Pierponts.

So, to recap:

R and I are:
·         3rd cousins through our common great-great-grandparents, Walter and Lois Russell
·         10th cousins through our shared Beecher ancestors
·         17th cousins through our shared Pierpont-Russell ancestors – she up the Russell side, I up the Pierpont-Russell side

R and P are:
·         1st cousins
·         17th cousins as above – R up the Russell side, P up the Pierpont-Russell side

P and I are:
·         Somewhere between 5th and 7th cousins through our common Pierpont ancestors
·         17th cousins as above – P up the Pierpont-Russell side, I up the Russell side

While it’s true that if you go back far enough most of us may be related in some way, being able to document this web of connections is not typical. Can you tell I’m excited?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Connecting the NE and VA/MD Pierpont Family Lines

The Problem

The ancestral line of the NE Pierponts has been fairly well documented (see And the family tree of the VA/MD line of Pierponts (also Pierpoint) is also well documented. But the latter generally starts with an immigrant Henry Pierpoint who was born in Hertfordshire, England around 1612 and who came to America in 1623. (There are also lines associated with some of Henry’s relatives who came around the same time – I’m not going to deal with them here as they have been researched elsewhere such as in The American Genealogist (see

I have seen a claim that Henry (1612) is the grandson of Sir Henry Pierrepont (1545) and it’s that connection that I want to explore here.

Other Family Trees

First, there are entries in WikiTree ( that show Henry (1545) and his place in the family tree. If you go back up this tree in that database, the information there is pretty consistent with the above NE Pierpont tree where Henry (1545) is tagged as entry “17>23”. The line from Henry (1545) can be traced back to the Henry (1310) who married Margaret Fitz Williams and who is the connection point to the blog I wrote on “Presidential Connection” earlier (

Since the info in WikiTree and the info in the NE Pierpont genealogies seems consistent, I’m not going to discuss any of that here, but just the relationship from Henry (1545) to Henry (1612).

WikiTree also claims that Henry (1545) married Agnes [Harvey], who had a son Amos Pierpoint. Amos then married Ellena [Kirby] and had a son Henry (1612).

Geni ( has Amos Pierpont, son of Agnes [Harvey] Pierrepont and also having a son Henry. It also notes Amos as having 3 older brothers, Moses (1576), Robert (1580), and Richard (1585). It does not show Amos as having a father, only Agnes as his mother.

The documented descendants of Henry (1612) include his children having the names Amos, Moses, and Francis. Given that names often repeat in families, this is certainly a good argument for the connection.

Other Research

The American Genealogist magazine had an extensive article on Henry and his ancestry (see Let’s take a look at that research to see if we can find any further connections.

The article noted that there was a hiatus in English registers in the period 1640-1660 when there was a civil war going to that records of marriage and baptisms are improbable. Thus, the focus of their investigation was (a) looking a names for repetition, (b) seeing if a family in England disappeared about the same time as they appeared in America.

They note that Henry (1612) and his wife had a total of 9 children – five born in England (Amos, Jabez, Elizabeth, Hannah, and Moses) and four more born in Maryland (Charles, Francis, Mary, and Sarah).

Then, in looking at English records, they note a Henry (a child of George) who lived in Benington, Hertfordshire and who married Agnes Harvey in 1572 and then died in 1623. In his will (which appears in full in this magazine article beginning on page 238) he gives bequests to his sons Amos, Robert, Moses, Richard, and his daughter Cathred, These records thus confirm both the information about Henry and Amos and their family in both the Wikitree and Geni databases above.

Thus, we seem to have confirmation of the family line from George to Henry to Amos to Henry. This takes the lineage of the MD/VA line back three more generations into the area of Benington, Hertfordshire, England. This article also goes into the connection between Henry (1612) and the other Pierpont/Pierpoint families in VA/MD.

The George Problem

However, one questions if the George in the above research is the same George as in the NE Pierpont records. The George in this article and who almost certainly was the great-grandfather of Henry (1612) lived in Benington, Hertfordshire, married Margareta Cook in 1543 and they had four children, Joana (m. Richard Barton), Margareta (m. Richard Field), Robert (m. Jone Thorogood), and Henry (m. Agnes Harvey).

The George in the NE Pierpont records lived in Holme Pierrepont (near Nottingham). He was first married to Elizabeth Babbington, then to Winifred Thwaites. Their children included Annora, Elizabeth, Henry (1545), Gervase, and William (1547). William was the grandfather of John Pierrepont who came to Massachusetts in 1640 and began the NE Pierpont family line. This Henry died in 1623.

So we apparently have two Georges living about the same time, each having a son named Henry. One lived in Hertfordshire (N of London) and one lived in Holme Pierrepont (E of Nottingham). This Henry died in 1615.

Since the wills of both Henrys are available, and document the different years of death, we can be certain that these are not the same Henry. And thus, there are also two different Georges.


While it was good to get some confirmation of the ancestry of the Henry who started the VA/MD branch and to be able to document another three generations of his family, it also seems that the family tree in WikiTree has their “wires crossed”.

WikiTree has a line from George (who reportedly died in Holme Pierrepont in 1517) to George (who died in Hertfordshire after 1568) and thence to Henry. Geni on has a line starting with Agnes but does not make any connection to the Holme Pierrepont families. There are also a few family trees in who make that same cross connection from George (born and died in Holme Pierrepont) to Henry (born in Hertfordshire) (for an example, see

Thus, after my own extensive research, I come to the same conclusion as is currently stated in the NE Pierpont family tree:

See Genealogical Records of the Pierpoint Family, complied by A.B. Stickney. Pittsburgh, PA, 1954-1958. Mimeograph typescript, stapled, no covers, 19 pages print on one side, ex-lib. with several stamps and ink notations by compiler. Also stapled in are two reprints of published articles by the author: "The Pierpoints of Hertfordshire, England and Ann Arundel County, Maryland", reprinted from a 1957 issue of The American Genealogist 33 pp. 236ff (available in jpg images through American Ancestors [by subscription] at; his conclusion: "The above evidence, although circumstantial, indicates clearly the origin of the Matylamd Pierpoints and their relationships to each other" (241); and "The American Ancestry of John Pierpoint of (West) Virginia", reprinted from a 1958 issue of The Virginia Genealogist at Further on Arundel County MD, see,_Maryland_Genealogy.

This has been supplemented here by the extensive genealogy by Kathryn Pierpoint Hedman (1953; 2nd ed 1973 = KH), which is based on the earlier work by Hattie M. Pierpoint, The Pierponts of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia (1939). See below for links to the Table of Contents and the Index, as well as to an online copy of the 1953 edition. As is noted on p.2 of the online edition, "THE NEW ENGLAND LINE OF THE FAMILY WAS FOUNDED BY JOHN PIERREPONT WHO SETTLED IN IPSWICH, MASSACHUSETTS IN 164O. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE NEW ENGLAND LINE AND THE VIRGINIA LINE HAS NOT YET BEEN DISCOVERED." To my knowledge, that statement still stands in 2016.