Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Major Flaw in My Family Tree? – Part 2

Research into Caleb Russell

I had already located three census records for Caleb – 1800, 1810, and 1820. From these I had an estimated date of birth of 1780 since in the 1800 census he was 18-25 but married, in 1810 he was 26-44 and in 1820 he was also 26-44. In 1810 and 1820 he was living in Dover, NY, the known birthplace of Silas in 1803. He also had a son sometime between 1800 and 1810 which would also be consistent.

In further research I have located the wife of Caleb Russell in a cemetery in Brookfield, CT. Her name was Parmea/Parmelia and she was born around 1780 and died in early 1872 at the age of 91. This would be consistent with the above census records as well. Further research revealed that her maiden name was Smith and she was the daughter of Edward and Demeous [Worden] Smith of Dutchess County. A pension application filed by Demeous in 1845 showed that Parmea had a brother Silas, so that would have been the inspiration for Caleb and Parmea naming their son as family names were very often passed down.

Another interesting connection shows up here as well. The 1833 pension application for Caleb’s father, John, shows that he served during the Revolutionary War under Captain Comfort Ludington in setting up defenses along the Hudson, although Caleb was dead by the time this pension was filed and would not have benefitted from it. But the 1845 pension application for Parmea’s mother, Demeous, showed that Parmea’s father Edward also served under Captain Comfort Ludington and that Parmea was one of the beneficiaries of this pension.

Caleb does not show up in later census records, leading me to believe that he died sometime after 1820. I am fairly well convinced that Caleb is the father of Silas. However, how do I reconcile this with the family of his supposed father John since that name does not appear among the children of John.

In doing some quick checking on geography, I discovered that I was going to have to deal with some changing geographic names. Some history on the Putnam County website revealed the following historical changes. Dutchess County was originally much larger. In 1812, the southern portion was split off and renamed as Putnam County. In 1817 the township of Frederick was renamed to Kent. Since these two changes happened right during the period in question, I would have to adjust my searches accordingly. (http://www.putnamcountyny.com/countyhistorian/boundary-changes/)

It has occurred to me that perhaps what we have here is an issue of first/middle names. I ran a census check of Dutchess County in the 1800-1830 period to see what Russell families were living here. I found many of the descendants of John (at least those that had been born at the time and who were old enough to have started their families). I also found other of the siblings of John, i.e. the children of Robert. So names like Abijah, Robert, Isaac, John, and James were present. However, the second son of John, Ebenezer, did not appear in any of the records. But Caleb did, and in the 1800 census he was living in the same town, Fishkill, as John, in fact those two entries are right next to each other and the Worden household is only a few entries away! Many of the other children were living in Frederick (later called Kent). Was John’s son Ebenezer really Caleb Ebenezer so that he changed the name he went by after he was old enough?  That seems quick likely, since the dates are consistent, the place he was living was consistent, and one never finds both names at the same time.

I am now convinced that Caleb/Ebenezer is the son of John and that I have my connections correct – and with a whole lot more certainty since I now also have the name of his wife and her ancestry.

Research into Robert Russell

Most of the family trees in ancestry.com for Robert have him listed with a date of birth of 23 Jan 1722 in Andover, and a date of death of 1784 in Kent, NY. But they have no proof of this and it relies of a story of a man who would have left his Russell relatives in the area around Boston and relocated to a farming area north of New York City. These same [aberrant] family trees often show three children of Robert (Jane, John, and James, born in NJ, NY, and Willington, CT respectively). This makes no sense.

Moreover, I have recently located information about Robert’s grave back in Andover with a date of death of 3 January 1794. It does not seem plausible that someone would move from MA to NY, have a son, then move back to MA.

The only reasonable solution is that there were more than one Robert Russell and that people have selected “facts” about two or more of them to build this composite Robert. And others, including myself, have compounded the situation by replicating this composite individual. So let’s get back to the basics and see what we can determine about the Robert who may be the father of John Russell (1756-1833).

One record that we do have is the recording of a marriage between a Robert Russell and a Mary Kipp/Kip that took place in 1754. Mary was 20 at the time and she would have birthed John just two years later. Mary was a descendant of several generations of Kipp ancestors who had been in that part of NY since 1635. Kipp was an anglicized version of de Kype from Hendrik Ruloffzen de Kype who had been born in 1576 in France, then moved to Amsterdam, before his son Hendrik Hendrikszen Kype/Kipp who was born in 1600 came to New Amsterdam in 1637 with his family (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hendrick_Hendricksen_Kip). If John is my ancestor and Mary is his mother, this would be consistent with my DNA profile as I’ll detail in the final section of this posting.

I was then able to locate the probated will for Robert in 1811 in Frederick (later Kent), in then Dutchess (later Putnam) County, NY. In it he names his children – Abijah, Jane [Utten?], Margaret, John, James, and Elizabeth [Barrett]. Robert, like his son John and his great-grandson Silas was illiterate and signed his will with an “X”. This seems pretty conclusive that this is not the same Robert Russell who was buried in MA over 15 years earlier. So the remaining question is, where did Robert Russell come from?

At this point in my research, I have resolved items 3, 4, and 5 from my original list of concerns. But to satisfy the remaining issues (related to DNA), then if Robert was an immigrant from Ireland/Scotland everything would be consistent.

Irish/Scottish Immigration

Many of the causes of migration are well documented. The so-called “great migration” from 1620-1640 which resulted in the pilgrims and puritans coming to Massachusetts was caused by religious persecution, and ending during the English civil war in 1641 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puritan_migration_to_New_England_(1620%E2%80%9340)). A famine in southern Italy in 1890 led to mass immigration from Italy and Sicily during the period 1890-1917, ending with the entry of the US into WWI (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Americans). The Irish potato famine in 1845-1849 led to many immigrants from there (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Famine_(Ireland)). But 100 years earlier there was mass immigration from Scotland due to the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746 (http://www.emmigration.info/scottish-immigration-to-america.htm). But the Russell surname is only associated with Scotland, not Ireland (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clan_Russell). So combined with the events taking place in Scotland during this period that is the likely place to look.

A birthyear of around 1730-1734 has been assigned to Robert Russell in a few family trees for the reason that he would likely been around the same age as his wife, Mary Kipp and she was born in 1734. Also, since he does not appear in any US records before that time, it is likely that he was an immigrant. Since Robert was illiterate, as evidenced by his “X” when he wrote his will many decades later, there is also little chance that there are other records where he would have appeared. While he does show up in the first US census of 1790, living in North Castle, Westchester County, NY, there is no indication of age except that he is over the age of 16. And his will from 1811 does not provide any clues either.

Unfortunately, immigration records for this time period do not exist, so I was unable to find his coming to this country. However, I was able to find a couple of baptism records in Scotland from 1733 that could have been him. The rest will have to remain conjectural.

What does this all mean?

I now have fairly solid evidence that my Russell ancestors were not part of the Boston Russells who settled in Andover in the 1640s, but were most likely Scottish and came to this country a century later. This makes my family tree consistent with my DNA results.
·       22% Ireland/Scotland/Wales – through my Russell ancestors
·       20% European Jewish – through my grandmother, Vera [Levy] [Russell] Rogers
·       19% Great Britain – through my many English ancestors on the Pierpont side
·       14% Europe West – through the Kipp line, as well as from various Celtic Russell ancestors
·       14% Scandinavia – while I no longer have evidence of a documented line from the Russell ancestors, it’s pretty certain to me that (1) the ancestors of the de Pierrepont family were Vikings as they were the ones who conquered Normandy about 100 years before the original de Pierrepont family owned their castle there, and (2) as the Clan Russell reference above indicates, they believe that they are also descended from the same Baron du Rozel who is the ancestor of the New England Russells.

There are seven or eight blog entries that I’ve written over the years that I will have to post disclaimers to. But that’s a small task. I should also copy this blog to my many Russell relatives letting them know what I’ve found.

I’ll close with something I said before – that I enjoy exploring the intersection between genealogy, geography, and history. That is certain true with this research as you have seen – the genealogy of my Russell ancestors, the geography of the Hudson River Valley and where these events took place (even including renaming of places), and the history of reasons for emigration.

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