Friday, March 17, 2017

Aunt Abigail Kimber’s Diary: Oct. 16, 1864–Nov. 30, 1864

Today’s topic is Aunt Abigail Kimber’s diary. Before I tell you about Abbie, I’d like to thank my daughter Julia for graciously adopting Aunt Abigail’s voice featured in the YouTube video below.

Abigail Lucy Kimber was one of nine girls born April 22, 1822, to Benjamin and Keziah (Bennett) Kimber at Minisink, Orange Co., New York. My 3rd Great Grandmother Charity (Kimber) Clark was her older sister.

The diary begins October 16, 1864, with the last entry dated November 14, 1864. When Abigail penned her thoughts, she was 42 years old and unmarried.  She lived in Troy, Pennsylvania in Jane and Moses Seely’s home along with father, Benjamin Kimber. Jane and Abigail were sisters. Their mother, Keziah (Bennett) Kimber had already died by this date.

Being the spinster sister with no husband or children of her own, Aunt Abbie often found herself cast in the role of taking charge of a sick sister’s household. After the deaths of her sisters, Susan and Julie Ann, she spent time in the homes of the widowed husbands caring for the families.

Family members say Aunt Abbie was close to her parents. After Julie Ann’s death, her widowed husband Erastus Elston wanted sisters Abbie and Phebe to travel west with him to ‘keep house.' Aunt Abigail’s response was “she went where father and mother went; if they would go, she would too.” All declined the offer.

You’ll hear Aunt Abbie’s gloominess in her diary entries. One evening she writes

    “I have felt as if there is no rest for me on this side of the grave. O how long Savior before my weary soul will be at rest. O how pleasant death looks to me. It will relieve my poor throbbing heart and this poor weak body of mine that knows no rest.”

The melancholy must have troubled her in the coming years. She was admitted to the Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital May 15, 1874. This hospital opened a few weeks earlier dedicated to treating mental disorders in Middletown, New York. Unfortunately, Aunt Abbie showed no improvement being discharged March 23, 1876.

Source: I located the diary transcription at the Orange County Genealogical Society, Goshen, New York in the Kimber file housed among the Elizabeth Horton Collection. Mrs. Winifred Isabella (Drake) Ridall of Elmira, New York prepared and donated her material to Miss Elizabeth Horton in the 1930’s. Mrs. Ridall was a Kimber descendant of Benjamin and Keziah Kimber by their daughter Jane Kimber and husband, Moses Seely.

P. S.  Dear Family and Friends,
      Please share if you know when Aunt Abigail Kimber passed. I’d like to know where and with whom she spent her final years. Does anybody have photos?

Thanks for stopping by

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Wilson Sisters—Marion, Ann, and Janett

In my last blog post, Thank You, Uncle Hugh, I began a quest to learn what became of my 2nd Great Grandfather Walter Wilson’s brothers and sisters. I made little headway with the Uncles but found 2nd Great Grand Aunties Marion, Ann, and Janett Wilson.

Great Aunt Marion married Alonzo Davis Sept. 28, 1847, at Somersworth, Strafford County, New Hampshire.; New Hampshire, Marriage and Divorce Records, 1659-1947

After 3rd Great Grandfather James Wilson’s death, Grandmother Marion Wilson lived in Norwich, Connecticut with her children. Gran’s daughter Marion and husband Alonzo Davis were close by in Preston August 1850. Aunt Marion and Uncle Alonzo welcomed Great Gran and the youngest Wilson boy into their home at Newfield, York County, Maine (where I found them in the July 1860 federal census). The 1870 census states Alonzo resided in Somersworth, New Hampshire employed as a worker in the iron foundry. He still provided for Great Gran—a good trait for a son-in-law. By 1880, Alonzo worked as a molder in the foundry. Grandmother Marion wasn’t in Alonzo’s home, but he was still taking care of the family. His widowed daughter, Fanny A. Dorman, lived with Alonzo and Marion. Right next door was their eldest girl, Maria A., husband Albert A. Ham and five-year-old Eve.

Alonzo died Nov. 17, 1889, when he was 60 years of age. Aunt Marion remained in Somersworth sharing a home with her daughter Fannie until she passed on Dec. 22, 1910.

Next, I turned my attention to Ann Wilson. Aunt Ann was alive when named in Uncle Hugh’s will written Feb. 19, 1881, but I couldn’t find any clues to her whereabouts.

The1850 census indicates Aunt Janett’s birth occurred in New Jersey about 1833. I suspect she was not an heir of Uncle Hugh because she died before he wrote a will.

I located a Norwich, Connecticut marriage between Janett Wilson and John Swasey Oct. 14, 1851, in the Town of Norwich Vital Records:

                                                                                    Norwich  July 1st 1851
            This is to certify that Mr. John Swasey and Miss Janett Wilson, of
            Norwich, were married by me, July 1st 1851.
            Recorded Oct. 14th 1851, by                    A. L. Loveland
            Othniel Gager Town Clerk                          Clergyman

I needed to know more about this couple.

The District 10, Davidson Co., Tennessee 1860 federal census included:

You can see John Swasey worked for the railroad. Jennett was born in New Jersey about 1833 just like my Grandfather Walter’s sister. The first child, John, was born in Connecticut. Then the family moved to Georgia by1856 where Vashti was born. The new baby Thomas arrived June 1860 in Tennessee.

By 1870, the Swasey’s had moved to Huntsville in Madison County, Alabama. John was still employed as a locomotive engineer, and Janett took care of the house. Their children John and Vashti were at home; sadly, Thomas was not.

I found a widowed John Swasey in Huntsville June 1, 1880, when the federal census was enumerated. This record tells me Janett died sometime between 1870 and 1880 much too young; she was in her late 30’s or early 40’s. Of course, this would explain why Aunt Janett was not among her Uncle’s heirs.

While the1880 census let me know Aunt Janett was gone, it also led me to Aunt Ann. Ann M. Wilson, the sister-in-law of John Swasey, was a housekeeper in the home. Yes, her birth date and place match what I know about her from the 1850 federal census. She was born in New Jersey about 1831 and her parents both born in Scotland.

My Great Grandfather Walter thought highly of his brothers Hugh and John and named two sons in their honor. I’ll continue my quest to find the Uncles.

My ancestry
3rd Great Grandfather James Wilson and wife Marion Moore
2nd Great Grandfather Walter Wilson and wife Mary Peck
Great Grandfather Jerome W. Wilson and wife Grace L. Clark
Grandmother Viola L Wilson and husband Frank Leroy Doty
My Mother

Monday, February 6, 2017

Thank you, Uncle Hugh

3rd Great Granduncle’s legacy to 2nd Great Grandfather Walter Wilson led me to my 3rd Great Granny from Scotland.

I featured Walter Wilson Jan. 2, 2015 in blog post FUNERAL FRIDAY: Erie Railroad Engineer Walter S. Wilson Funeral, May 17, 1893, Goshen, NY


Walter’s parents, James and Marion Wilson, emigrated from Scotland, Great Britain. They spent time in New Jersey and later Norwich, Connecticut.  3rd Great Grandfather James Wilson had a brother, Hugh, in this country. Grandfather and Uncle resided in the Norwich area and operated a business together.

I’m assuming Great Grandfather James died by 1850 since he didn’t appear in the 1850 federal census with the family. Walter lived at home with his widowed mother and siblings Ann, Janett, Hugh, and John November 1850.; 1850 Federal Census; Norwich, New London, Connecticut;
Roll: M432-48; Page: 190A; Image: 382

3rd Great Granduncle Hugh lived to be an old man outliving his wife and son passing away May 19, 1881. Uncle Hugh remembered his brother’s children in his will written Feb. 19, 1881:
I do give & devise unto my brother’s children Walter Wilson, John Wilson, Marion Davis & Ann Wilson the sum of three hundred dollars each & unto his other James Wilson’s children the sum of three hundred dollars.

Only four of James and Marion’s known children inherit in Uncle’s will—Walter, John, Marion, and Ann. Where’s siblings Janett and Hugh from the 1850 census? I find the words “unto his other James Wilson’s children” odd and don’t know how to interpret this. Did Great Grandfather James have a family with a former wife? Unfortunately, I couldn’t find answers to my questions.

For years I attempted to locate more records for Grandfather Walter’s mother and siblings with no success … that is until this past week. Tuesday morning I successively typed Marion Wilson, Ann Wilson, Janett Wilson, Hugh Wilson, and John Wilson into the search box at  It wasn’t looking good. Grandfather Walter’s sister Marion Davis was my last hope. She must have been an older child already married and out of the house by 1850.

The first search result that popped up was ‘New Hampshire Death and Disinterment Records, 1754-1947’ collection. Marion (Wilson) Davis, wife of Alonzo Davis, died in Somersworth, New Hampshire Dec. 22, 1922. Her father was James Wilson and her mother, Marion Moore. Both mother and father were born in Scotland. (Finally, Gran’s family name!)

Next, I searched the 1860 federal census. Marion and Alonzo Davis lived in Newfield, York Co., Maine with their three children, two Davis family members, and two Wilson family members. What a surprise to find 3rd Great Grandmother Marion and her youngest son John R. Wilson in the house. (Newfield was Alonzo’s birthplace.); 1860 Federal Census; Newfield, York, Maine;
Roll: M653_451; Page: 672; Image: 229

The Somersworth, Stratford Co., New Hampshire census enumerator found Great Grandmother Marion in Alonzo and Marion Davis’ home along with grandchildren Maria and Fannie July 29, 1870.; 1870 Federal Census; Somersworth, Strafford, New Hampshire;
Roll: M593_849; Page: 346B; Image: 186160

What I would like to know is when and where Grandmother Marion died. My ancestor, Walter Wilson, became an engineer for the Erie Railroad and settled in Orange County, New York but what became of his brothers and sisters. That’s my new quest.

I could use some help so please feel free to share your thoughts. I’m not familiar with York Co., Maine or Stratford Co., New Hampshire resources and appreciate any advice you want to give.

My ancestry
3rd Great Grandfather James Wilson and wife Marion Moore
2nd Great Grandfather Walter Wilson and wife Mary Peck
Great Grandfather Jerome W. Wilson and wife Grace L. Clark
Grandmother Viola L Wilson and husband Frank Leroy Doty
My Mother


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Keziah writes Daughters in Luzerne County, PA, Kimber Letter 23

Today’s letter dated January 11, 1857, is addressed to Catherine Welda and Abigail Kimber, Keziah Kimber’s daughters in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Grandmother Keziah and Grandfather Benjamin boarded with their daughter, Jane Seely, in Troy, Pennsylvania at this date.

Catherine and her husband John T. Welda resided in Luzerne County with their two small children—Jacob Theodore and Sarah. Abigail came from Orange County, New York with her parents; she must have been staying with Catherine’s family.

Grandmother Keziah shares news about her son-in-law Moses’ work in Pine Crick. Grandfather Benjamin pitches in and takes care of the livestock for him. Another Kimber daughter living in Troy (Sarah Mackney) gets to visit when Grandfather transports the ladies back and forth. Keziah tells Catherine and Abigail the Bennett family news.

No doubt Keziah worried about her health when she wrote, “time is fast a hasting when I shall be no more in this world.” Her words would prove to be prophetic; she died just about a year later at the age of 65 years.

We learn Sarah Alice Seely will celebrate a birthday January 16th and hear a Grandma’s dear messages to the Welda grandchildren.

You can read the letter transcript or listen to my narration by clicking below on the YouTube video:

Transcripts provided by the late Edna Raymond, Town of Minisink Historian.