Monday, January 15, 2018

I, Abraham Bennet, Do Make and Publish my Last Will and Testament, Feb. 4, 1842, Minisink, NY

On March 1, 1785 Abraham Bennett married Lydia Shultz in Goshen, Orange Co., New York. When they wed, Abraham was 20 and Lydia 15 years old. They raised 7 sons and 8 daughters.

In a recent post, Introducing Alvah’s parents: Abraham Bennet and Lydia Schultz, a newspaper account stated 4th Great Grandfather Abraham Bennett was born on a farm near Springside station, in the town of Wawayanda, in 1764. A little Orange County, New York history is needed here. During Great Grandfather’s lifetime, there was no town of Wawayanda; he resided in the town of Minisink. It wasn’t until 1849 that the Wawayanda Township was carved out of Minisink lands. This is why you’ll see the family referred to as Wawayanda and Minisink residents.

From 4th Great Grandfather Abraham Bennett’s will, I learned about his final wishes. His last will and testament was written one day before Grandfather’s death on Feb. 5, 1842 identifying 12 of his children. He provided generously for his wife as well as single and married daughters except for one. Daughter Azubah Bennet received the smallest legacy amounting to only $5. The Executors’ petition revealed no one knew where she lived. Somehow Azubah became estranged from her father.

Abraham bequeathed $10 legacies to the older Bennet brothers, Benjamin, Samuel, Levi, and Abraham. My ancestor Alve Bennet, the youngest, inherited Grandfather’s farm.

Transcription copied from Orange County, NY Will Book L, pages 370-374:

The last will and testament of Abraham Bennet of the Town of Minisink County of Orange and State of New York.  I Abraham Bennet considering the uncertainty of this mortal life, and being in a feeble state of health, but of a sound mind and memory, (blessed be Almighty God for the same) Do make and publish this my last will and Testament in manner and form following  That is to say First I order and direct my said Executors to Pay my Funeral expenses and all my Just and honest debts.  Second I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Lydia Bennet during her natural life the use of fifty acres of Land situate on the North East corner of my farm in the Town of Minisink Commencing on the Road leading from Charles Mills to Middletown and on the north side of the Lane and crossing said lane leading to my Dwelling house so as to include the watering place, my Dwelling house and about sixteen feet from the south end of the Barn including said barn and out buildings upon said fifty acres, and I order and direct that my three Daughters named Polly Bennet, Lydia Bennet & Nancy Bennet have the privilege and Right in the above mentioned premises for a home so long as they or either of them remain single and unmarried and during the lifetime of my wife Lydia Bennet, I also give and bequeath to my wife Lydia Bennet the sum of one hundred Dollars, also four cows, and one horse. The above Legacies left to my said wife Lydia Bennet is to be in lieu of her Dower Right, I give and bequeath the above mentioned and Described land Containing fifty acres after the Death of my Wife Lydia Bennet unto my three Daughters named, Polly Bennet, Lydia Bennet & Nancy Bennet, I give and bequeath my wife Lydia Bennet and my three Daughters named Lydia Bennet, Polly Bennet & Nancy Bennet All my household furniture Beds & Bedding to be equally divided between them.  I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Polly Bennet the sum of One hundred Dollars and also three cows to be kept upon the above mentioned 50 acres of Land, I give and bequeath to my Daughter Lydia Bennet the sum of One hundred Dollars, I give and bequeath to my Daughter Nancy Bennet the sum of One hundred Dollars  I give and bequeath to my Son Alve Bennet the residue and remainder of my farm situate in the town of Minisink afforsaid and supposed to contain about seventy six acres of land be the same more or less  I also give and bequeath to my Son Alve Bennet one two horse waggon and one sett two horse harness, I give and bequeath to my four sons named Benjamin Bennet, Samuel Bennet, Levi Bennet, & Abraham Bennet the sum of ten Dollars each, I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Azubah Bennet the sum of five Dollars Provided the said Azubah shall call on my said Executors for the same. I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Penelope Crawford wife of Oliver Crawford the sum of fifty Dollars. I give and bequeath unto my daughter Hannah Thorne wife of Thomas Thorne the sum of fifty Dollars, I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Esther Kerby wife of David Kerby the sum of fifty Dollars. And lastly as to all the rest residue and remainder of my personal estate goods and chattles of what kind and nature soever I give and bequeath unto my daughter named Polly Bennet. I Direct and Request my said Executors to pay the within mentioned Legacies as soon as convenient. I Do hereby nominate and appoint my son Alve Bennet and Benjamin Bennet of the village of Middletown Executors of this my last will and testament hereby Revoking all former wills by me made – In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this fourth day of February in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred forty two - two
Abraham Bennett
his mark

The above instrument, consisting of one Sheet was now here subscribed by Abraham Bennet the testator, in the presence of each of us: and was at the same time declared by him to be his last will and testament and we at his request sign our names hereto, as attesting witnesses
Charles Mills Town of Minisink
Henry S. Beakes Town of Wallkill

February 14, 1842 Abraham’s sons and executors Alve and Benjamin Bennet petitioned the Surrogate of Orange County, New York to accept Grandfather’s will. The document included Abraham Bennet’s next of kin and heirs regardless of whether they inherited or not. I found two sons, Christian and William Bennet, predeceased their father. Christian’s son, also named Christian, and William’s daughters, Emeline Parker and Frances Anderson, filled out the family tree. A special guardian was appointed for the three grandchildren as they were minors.

Petition from Abraham Bennet’s Estate Packet
Filed Orange County Surrogate Court, Goshen, NY

This petition is a gem. It tells the names of Abraham and Lydia’s children with their whereabouts in February 1842. I have the feeling Benjamin and Alve listed the heirs starting with the Widow and then naming the children from oldest to youngest. The notes I’ve added for each Bennet child are what I’ve been able to locate. If you can add or correct the family facts, please do.

1.    Benjamin Bennet born March 7, 1786; married 2 times; died April 29, 1861 Orange Co., NY. Benjamin’s Letter of Administration identified his 2nd wife Sophia Jane and children Stephen, Samuel, Elijah, Eliza, and Edgar. The 2nd Mrs. Bennet, Sophia Jane, received a widow’s pension from the Government owing to Benjamin’s service during the War of 1812. Benjamin belonged to Capt. David Christie’s New York Militia in a Regiment commanded by Col. Isaac Belknap enlisting August 1814. He was discharged honorably near New York City Nov. 16, 1814. Sophia Jane Bennet provided a description of her husband: six foot high, light complexion, light-grey eyes, and light hair. The pension application identifies Benjamin’s 1st wife Mary Hosier. Benjamin Bennet was Sophia Jane’s 2nd husband; they married Feb. 1, 1851 Orange County, NY. Most likely Mary Hosier was the mother of Stephen, Samuel, Elijah, and Eliza and Sophia Jane Edgar’s mother. You can view the pension online at []
2.    Polly (aka Mary) Bennet born October 27, 1787; never married, died October 20, 1882 living to be about 94 years old.
3.    Christian Bennet predeceased his father. Christian married and had a son also named Christian (who was included in his grandfather Abraham’s list of heirs). Christian Otto Schultz, 1712-1785, and his American Descendants compiled by Enid Dickenson Collins, Brooklyn, N. Y., October 1942, page 116 states Christian was born April 12, 1789 and died March 1829. In Alfred Mathews’ work, History of Wayne, Pike, and Monroe Counties, Pennsylvania, he notes Christian Bennett located at an early date north of James Bigelow’s place in Mount Pleasant, Wayne Co., PA.
4.    Samuel Bennet born Nov. 23, 1790, settled in Mount Pleasant, Wayne Co., PA. His wife’s name was Mary. Samuel died Feb. 2, 1867 and Mary passed June 6, 1868. Both are buried in Sherwood Cemetery, Wayne Co., PA. A daughter, Sarah J. (Bennet) Wilcox, was born July 18, 1813 in Damascus, PA; died Mount Pleasant March 5, 1906. Another daughter, Lydia A. Bennet born 1815, died 1888. Probably more children. Alfred Mathews' History of Wayne, Pike, and Monroe Counties, Pennsylvania, Chapter XXIII covering Mount Pleasant, page 652, states: Samuel Bennett, brother of Levi, settled on the mountain in the southwestern part of the township.
5.    Azuba Bennet born May 9, 1792, married John C. Willis, died Dec. 3, 1870. The 1865 NYS census reveals Azubah married 2 times and was a parent to 2 children. John C. Willis was her husband at that date and they lived near Alvah Bennett and sisters Mary and Nancy.
6.    William Bennet born Feb. 2, 1794, married Frances Stickney, died July 26, 1839 according to Enid Dickenson Collins. William died a few years before his father but his daughters Emeline Parker and Frances Anderson were named as next of kin.
7.    Levi Bennet born about 1795/6, married 1st Dillie Denning, 2nd wife Elizabeth Craig October 1835, Wayne Co., PA. Levi died Dec. 26, 1877, interred at Sherwood Cemetery, Wayne Co., PA. Elizabeth Bennett died March 25, 1885. Levi was also of War of 1812 veteran serving in Orange County’s Capt. John Dunning’s Company of the New York Militia. A pension file is online at Alfred Mathews' History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe Counties, Pennsylvania, page 652, Mount Pleasant, Wayne Co. Chapter XXIII states “Capt. Levi Bennett located on the place now owned by his son, Malden Bennett. He was a prominent man.” Levi’s will identify children Malden Bennet, Horatio D. Bennet, Levi Bennet Jr., Mahala Van Metre, Theresa A. Elmendorf, and Susan Galord.
8.    Hannah Bennet, born Jan. 13, 1797, married Thomas Thorne, died Nov. 26, 1883 Wallkill, Orange Co., NY. They raised a large family in Orange County.
9.    Abraham Bennet born October 24, 1798, married Eleanor Ross, died Wayne Co., PA May 1863. Alfred Mathews’ History of Wayne, Pike, and Monroe Counties, PA, Lebanon Township Chapter XXI, pages 619-620 writes “The farm is now owned by Virgil Brooks. At this point a road leads east; the first farm upon it was taken by Abraham Bennett, of Orange County, N. Y., who married a Ross. He left three sons,--Abraham, Alva, and Joseph R., and three daughters.”
10. Margaret Bennet, born April 24, 1800, died at the age of 16 years May 31, 1816. Margaret’s buried in Pine Hill Cemetery, Middletown, NY near her parents.
11. Penelope Bennet, born Feb. 27, 1802, married Oliver Crawford, died Nov. 16, 1864 Wallkill, Orange Co., NY. Penelope and Oliver raised a large family—James B., Nancy C., Oliver, Mary, Lydia, John H., Esther, George, William, Abram, and Jane.
12. Lydia Bennet born about 1803. Lydia married Joseph Bailey Crane a few years after her father’s death. She passed Sept. 19, 1846 in Ohio.
13. Esther Bennet Aug. 17, 1805, married David B. Kirby May 25, 1826, died June 21, 1882. Their children were Abram B., Oliver C., Gilbert B., Oscar P., David S., Esther Ann, Laura Frisby, and Jane Talmadge. The family lived in Wayne Co., PA returning to Orange Co. NY in 1852.
14. Nancy Bennet born June 12, 1809, never married, died Nov. 8, 1884.
15. Alvah Bennet born May 12, 1812, married Esther Penny Feb. 15, 1834, died August 21, 1890. Children of Alvah and Esther: Theodore, William H., Fanny Jane, Esther Almeda, Abby Anna, John F., Harriet Augusta, Sarah Elizabeth, Abraham, David Winfield, Christianna, and Ida L.

When I next write about the Bennett’s, I’ll tell you a story from Abraham’s boyhood.

My Ancestry
4th Great Grandfather Abraham Bennett and wife Lydia Shultz
3rd Great Grandfather Alvah Bennett and wife Esther Penny
2nd Great Grandmother Fanny Jane Bennett and husband Albert Doty
Great Grandfather Lewis Penny Doty and Emily Wight
Grandfather Frank Leroy Doty and Viola Lillian Wilson
My Mother

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Here's Nellie 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Fav Photo

Here’s Nellie from Julia’s post When Harry Met Nellie . . .  when she was a girl.

Nellie Mae Clark Hewitt

What little girl wouldn't love that hat?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

When Harry Met Nellie . . .

I’ve joined Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Writing Challenge and am beginning with this week’s prompt—start. Let me start the New Year with a Guest Author (and daughter) Julia DiMunno. Continuing with the theme, Julia is starting her journey tracing our family’s history. Take a few moments and enjoy “When Harry Met Nellie . . .”

A few months ago my mother and I made a trip to the Wallkill Cemetery to “winterize” the graves of a few of our family members, clearing off any debris or lichen that had formed on the stones. We had been out there not so long ago to clean the graves of my great grandparents, Frank and Viola Doty. So on this trip we were paying attention to the Hewitt/Ludlum plot. (Note: we paid very particular attention to Aunt Ella as my grandmother recently said “I hope you did a good job, because if she was watching you from above I’m sure she’d have something to say about it”. But I digress.

The Hewitt/Ludlum plot is made up of the aforementioned Ella Wilson Ludlum and her husbands Uncle Milt and Uncle Ray. On the Hewitt side is Uncle George Hewitt, his wife, my Aunt Lillie (Clark) Hewitt and their daughter Nellie. Nellie is my cousin. Her mother Lillie was the sister of my Gr. Gr. Grandmother Grace Clark Wilson. Nellie and her husband Harry are special in our family. They died young, leaving behind no direct descendants. As we drove out of the cemetery, a sudden thought occurred to me--we really should go and visit Harry before the snow falls. Poor Harry, he died so young and his grave may have been neglected over the years. (This appears to be a requirement among the women in my family when we discuss Harry Everett Lee. A cock of the head, hand resting lightly over heart, “Poor Harry, he died so young”). I must confess, I am very new to genealogy, but it seems to me that I am most drawn to the kinfolk who have no one to remember them.

As we drove out of the cemetery that sunny day and in the coming weeks, Nellie and Harry captured my thoughts. I wondered about the day that Harry met Nellie. They had a story to tell, of that I was sure. Who was Harry behind ‘Harry who died so young’ and who was the woman behind him? So I began the search to piece together their lives and tell their story--to add flesh to bone so to speak. I must confess, it has been a most rewarding project and I know that I’ll miss learning about these two when this is done. So without further ado let me introduce you to them.

Harry Everett Lee was born was May 5, 1889 in Orange County, New York. The eldest son of Thomas Everett Lee and Clara Cairns Lee, he came from a long line of farmers who called the Howells area in the town of Wallkill home. His paternal grandfather was farmer turned politician, Morris E. Lee, and his paternal grandmother was Fannie Mapes Lee, a member of the large Mapes clan. His maternal grandfather was Robert Cairns, who was written about in the Portrait and Biological Record of Orange County in glowing terms as “a very progressive man, and no citizen stood higher, morally or socially than he”. Harry’s father, Thomas Everett Lee is described as a progressive farmer and devoted family man. His mother, Clara Cairns Lee, as we shall soon see, was a very strong woman. Harry was 1 of 4 siblings. Sister Daisy was 4 years older than him. Younger brother Robert Lester was born in 1893, and baby Claribel came along in 1898. In 1891 the Middletown Times Press reported that Thomas E. Lee “has purchased the Cairns farm and will take possession at once”. The Lee family would call the farm on Highland Lake home until the early part of the 19th century.

We don’t know much about Harry’s early life. I would like to think that it was a happy one given the disposition of his father and the proximity of other family members of his age living around Highland lake. We do know that young Harry’s life was punctuated by some losses. In 1895, Harry’s paternal grandmother, Fannie Mapes Lee, passed away at the age of 80. Sadder yet, on January 18, 1899 baby sister Claribel died at the family home at Highland lake. She was not quite 1 year old. Her death was reported by The Argus, and no further details were given. Infant mortality rates were certainly higher in Harry’s time than they are now, but it still must have been heartbreaking for the family to lose one so young. Then in 1903 came perhaps the greatest blow of all. For on March 11, 1903, at his home at Highland Lake, Thomas E. Lee died from complications of diabetes. His obituary states that he had been ill for 3 years and had been confined to bed for only 2 days before his demise. His obituary describes him as “an industrious and progressive farmer, and a good citizen. He was devoted to his family and fond of family life”. Thomas Lee was only 43 years old when he died. How hard this must have been for Harry. He was 13 years old when his father died--not quite a child and not yet a man. He was the eldest son, but he certainly could not have handled all of his father’s responsibilities on the farm.

Clara Cairns Lee was now a single mother raising 3 children ranging in ages from to 9 to 18. As we shall see, Clara was a strong and independent woman in her own right. We know that she remained at the family farm at Highland lake at least until the later part of 1904. In 1905, daughter Daisy Lee married Martin Mapes Bennett, leaving Clara with her two boys, Harry and Robert. By 1907 she had moved her boys to Middletown and was renting out the Lee farm and/or property on Highland Lake. (Highland Lake supplied the city of Middletown with drinking water and it is possible the city was paying her for use of the land). I think Clara must have moved there to give her boys a better chance of finding employment. The 1907 Middletown City directory finds the Lee family renting a home at 56 Mulberry Street. Harry is employed at the local Tannery not far from his home. By 1909 Harry was living on East Main Street and was working as an apprentice. One year later the NYS Census finds the family living on Orchard Street in a rented home and Harry is now employed as a plumber. This was a trade that would serve him for the rest of this life. I believe it was sometime around this time that Harry became a member of the Eagle Chemical Engine Company, a fire company in Middletown that had been present since 1859. I can only speculate on what prompted him to join the fire company. His uncle, Morris Lee Jr. had been a much loved fireman so perhaps he influenced his young nephew. Fire companies were also very active in their communities so perhaps Harry was simply exposed to the company on his own. Regardless, somewhere along the line he joined the fire company and it was a fact he took much pride in. One additional fact we do know is that by 1909 Harry had already met Nellie.

Nellie Mae Clark Hewitt was born on January 29, 1890. She was the only child of George B. Hewitt and Lillian Clark. The Clark’s were a Goshen family. Grandfather Jeremiah Clark ran a meat market and alongside Uncle Benjamin Reeve Clark, who ran a fish market, were known as “The Market Men of Goshen”. Hailing from Fishkill, NY in Duchess County, George Hewitt, carpenter and later a building contractor, was a business associate of Jeremiah’s. Family lore says that Jeremiah “kept bringing him home to dinner”. Said dinners would have included Jeremiah’s unmarried daughter Lillie. A match was made and 28 year old George and 20 year old Lillie married. Lillie did well for herself. George Hewitt provided for her and cared for the next two generations of women in our family. I often say that the history of our family would be much different had George Hewitt not come along.

After George and Lillie married, the family moved to a rented home on Academy Avenue in Middletown, New York. By 1903 they were homeowners in the house on Myrtle Avenue where they would remain for many years. Nellie’s childhood appeared to be a happy one. As the only child of George and Lillie, she seemed to be loved and perhaps a little doted on. has been an absolute treasure trove for the Middletown papers and they reveal a glimpse of life for young Nellie. There was St. Paul’s Christmas play in 1901 entitled “Crowning Christmas” in which young Nellie played the role of “Pictures”, a birthday party for Cousin Nettie Clark in 1902 that included refreshments, music and a hayride, and in 1903 a surprise party was thrown for Nellie’s 13th birthday. Thirty-nine of her friends were in attendance and it included refreshments, games and cards.

But in 1904 Nellie‘s life did change. On June 24, 1904 Grace Clark Wilson, Nellie’s aunt, died suddenly at the age of 28. She left behind her two small girls, Ella aged 5 and Viola, aged only 4 months. As they had with the death of daughter Minnie nearly 10 years prior, the Clark family sprang into action. Grandparents Jeremiah and Harriet took in baby Viola, and George and Lillie took in niece Ella. The girls’ father, Jerome Wilson who was living in Connecticut and working for the New England Railroad, remarried in 1906 and intended to bring both girls back to Connecticut. By then little Viola been stricken with polio and needed more help than her grandparents could give so there was no question that she would go. Ella however had bonded with Aunt Lillie and was reluctant to leave. She remained with the Hewitt’s for the rest of their lives. I wonder how this change must have been for Nellie. She was a teenager--only 14 years old, a difficult age for any young girl. Perhaps she was used to being the only child and having her parents’ undivided attention. Suddenly a motherless 5 year old girl was underfoot. But all accounts point to a close relationship with all three cousins. Countless family pictures show all three girls smiling, arms slung round each other’s necks. I think that Nellie must have been great fun to be around.

Of a curious note, The Middletown Daily Argus reported that on November 18, 1907 the Eagle Chemical Engine and Hose Company hosted their very first fair. Working the flower booth that night was none other than Nellie Mae Hewitt. Is this perhaps where she met Harry? If any of my Clark cousins out there know how they met, I would love to hear it.

As I alluded to earlier, Nellie and Harry definitely knew each other, if not already courting by 1909. That was when they attended the wedding of Nellie’s cousin, Laura Fitzgerald to Billy Swift. Harry was best man, and Nellie was the bridesmaid. There is a picture of them with the wedding party, standing side by side. In 1910 the NYS census finds Nellie, aged 19 living with her parents. By now, our Nellie is a working girl, employed at Borden’s’ Condensery on Canal Street in Middletown. 1911 saw the wedding of another cousin, Frank Knapp to Mary Pritchard. Both Nellie and Harry are noted as being in attendance. 1911 also saw the Hewitt family move from the family home on Myrtle Avenue to the new house that Uncle George built at 24 Grand Avenue, just around the corner from where they were then living.

1912 was an eventful year for our couple. On February 2 Harry was elected 1st Assistant Foreman to the Eagles. Then on August 20, the couple announced their engagement. They were married on September 11, 1912 at the house on Grand Avenue. It appeared George Hewitt spared no expense for his only child. It sounds like a lovely affair. The Daily Argus reported:

   “A very pretty wedding was solemnized this afternoon at the home of Mr. and Mrs. George B. Hewitt, 24 Grand avenue, when their daughter Nellie became the bride of Harry E. Lee, of this city.
   Promptly at three o'clock the bride and groom marched into the parlor to the strains of Lohengrin, played by the orchestra which was hidden behind a large bank of ferns, and took their place under a large bell made of American Beauty roses. The ceremony which was with a ring, was performed by Rev. Dr. Thomas R. Wallace, pastor of St. Paul's Church, of this city.
   The bridesmaid was Miss Viola Clark, of Paterson, N. J., a cousin of the bride, and R. Lester Lee, a brother of the groom, acted as best man.
   The bride was attired in a white lansdowne dress trimmed with Persian trimming and carried a shower bouquet of white roses, and her traveling gown was a blue tailored suit, with large picture hat to match.
   The bridesmaid's gown was of pink crepe meteor over pink silk and trimmed with dutchess lace.
   The ring was carried on a cut glass heart by Miss Viola Wilson. The home was prettily decorated with pink and white, the decorations being by Lorentz.
   After the ceremony the guests sat down to a sumptuous banquet which was served by the bride's parents. The bride and groom left over the Erie for a wedding journey, the destination being known only to themselves.
   Upon their return they will make their home for the present with the bride's parents at 24 Grand avenue.
   The groom's gift to the bride was a large silver chatelaine bag, and to the best man a pearl stick pin. The bride's gift to the bridesmaid was a brooch set with diamonds and pearls. Guests were present from Brooklyn, Chicago, sections of Wisconsin, New York, Paterson, Newark, Port Jervis and Goshen.
  The groom is a popular young man in this city and is First Assistant fireman of Eagle Hose Co. He is employed as plumber by Halsey E. __?__.
   The Daily Argus joins with the many friends of the young couple in wishing them a happy journey through life.”

Nellie and Harry spent their honeymoon at Syracuse, where they visited the State Fair, Binghamton, Buffalo, Oswego and Niagara Falls. Many years later a drawing was found in my great uncle’s basement of a couple posing in front of the falls; the man had a twinkle in his eye and the woman wore an elaborate blue hat. Though it was a mystery at first, after process of elimination my mother and grandmother figured out it was Nellie and Harry. That picture hangs prominently in my mother’s sewing room to this day. Upon the couple’s return to Middletown, they stayed briefly at Harry’s home on John Street before moving in with Nellie’s parents on Grand Avenue.

1913 was a rewarding year for the couple for on February 4 Harry was elected Forman of the Eagles for which he served for 1 year. They both must have been quite proud. 

Two years later more excitement came. In 1915 Nellie and Harry left her parents’ house and moved to a rented home at 97 Montgomery St. in the town of Goshen. My grandmother recently told me, “You come from a long line of bossy women”. Well if we are the chips, then Aunt Lillie was the block. She ruled the roost at Grand avenue (I say that with nothing but affection). This must have been an exciting time for Nellie to be mistress of her own home. Not much is known about the couple’s years in Goshen. I am not sure what brought them there, but by 1916 Harry was employed as a plumber in the shop of Frank C. Hock, so it is certainly possible that employment brought them there.

However, at the time, one rather sad event was well recorded. On March 20, 1916 Harry was working in the home of Mr. H. M. Hubbell repairing a defective pipe when 4 year old Edith Hubbell wandered by, coming too close to the blow torch. The Middletown Daily Times Press reported “In order to heat a solder iron Mr. Lee lighted a blow torch and while at work the child came into the room and walked past the torch, her dress immediately caught fire, and in an instant the child was a mass of flames.” Luckily, with the help of Charles Van Gelder, an employee at the Hubbell home, the fire was extinguished quickly. Little Edith sustained injuries to her left side and hands. A few weeks later on April 1, Harry, along with Charles Van Gelder was presented with a gold watch for their quick actions. The Middletown Daily Times Press reported that little Edith by then had almost completely recovered.

By 1917 the couple had changed address and was living at 134 West Main Street in Goshen. In June of that year, Harry registered for the draft. By then the First World War had been raging in Europe since 1914 and America could remain neutral no longer. Harry, however, was rejected due to physical defects--what they may be I do not know. One year later a promotion came Harry’s way. Sometime during the couple’s stay in Goshen, Harry had joined the Cataracts, a Goshen’s first fire company dating back to 1843. His employer, Frank C. Hock was the fire chief, so it is possible that Harry joined the company through him. On April 4, 1918 Harry was elected Second Assistant Foreman to the Cataracts. It seemed as if he was on the rise.

But time was running out for Nellie and Harry. On November 13, 1918 at 2:30 in the afternoon, aged 30 years, Harry E. Lee died of pneumonia. His obituary states that he died at home after a brief illness. The Goshen Independent Republican reported that he was the third employee at Mr. Hock’s shop to die of pneumonia in one month. Mr. Russell Earle, another employee, aged 33 years old, died a mere 1 day before Harry. One has to wonder if the men were exposed to something. Legionella seems a possible culprit. It is a bacterium that can grow in water systems--most likely man made ones. The contaminated water can then be inhaled once it spreads into droplets. It can lead to pneumonia. Perhaps we’ll never really know what lead up to the death of a 30 year old man in the prime of his life. Harry was buried in the Lee family plot at Howells cemetery with his father and baby sister Claribel.

Nellie was now a widow at the age of 28. What a shock this must have been for her to lose her husband of just 6 years. I’m sure she thought that they had years ahead of them. Her first move was to head back to 24 Grand Avenue in Middletown and make her home once again with her parents and Cousin Ella. By 1920 she had gotten a job at J.V. Demerests Dry Goods Company. Over the next few years she would work there as a clerk and then a saleswoman. The 1920’s seemed an uneventful time for Nellie. Her life revolved around work and family, and the various clubs she was a member of, including the Idle Hour Club, Ladies Auxiliary of Veterans of Foreign Wars and of Olympia Council, Daughters of America. On March 3, 1927 the Middletown Daily Herald-Times Press reported that a surprise party was thrown for Nellie celebrating her 37th birthday. Refreshments were served by Aunt Lillie and cousin Viola Wilson. The group played dominos and cards and music was provided by piano and radio. I am glad that she had this happy time in what would be the twilight of her life. For on November 4, 1929 Nellie Mae Hewitt Lee passed away at Memorial Hospital in Middletown at the age of 39. The cause of death was a cerebral hemorrhage. She never remarried. She was buried at the Wallkill cemetery in the Hewitt family plot. She, like Harry, was gone too soon.

It was a cloudy day, with a light mist falling when my mother and I paid our visit to Harry. We had never been there before so it took a while to find him (how had we never been there before?). The Howells cemetery is lovely and the Lee family plot was in very good condition. Harry had not been neglected over the years after all. He is there with his parents, his brother Robert, and baby sister Claribel. Sister Daisy is not far from him and his Cairns and Mapes relatives are nearby.

It felt right to be there and pay respects to this kinsman of mine to let him know that he was not forgotten. The Jewish people have a tradition of placing a stone on the grave of a loved one. It is a physical reminder that someone was there. Long after flowers have withered the stone remains. Before we left Howells cemetery that day, I placed a stone that I had taken from nearby Nellie’s grave atop the Lee family grave--a gift from Nellie to Harry, delivered by her cousin 89 years later.

~ Julia DiMunno (first cousin 3 times removed to Nellie Mae Hewitt)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Introducing Alvah’s Parents: Abraham Bennett and Lydia Schultz

An Orange County, New York newspaper published Nov. 19, 1881 discussed my ancestor Abraham Bennett. I thought it might be a pleasant way to introduce 4th Great Grandparents Abraham Bennett and Lydia Schultz to my blog readers.

A Match for the Bertholf Children of Warwick

Abraham Bennett was born on the farm now owned by Hulet McBride, near Springside station, in the town of Wawayanda, in 1764. His wife, Lydia Hulse, was born where Little’s mills now stand, in 1769. They spent all of their life time within three miles of the place of their birth and raised a family of fifteen children, all of whom arrived at mature years. Mr. Bennett died in 1842. His widow survived him eight years and died in 1850. Of their children, five are now living, four daughters and a son. Mary, whose age is 94, and Nancy, aged 72, were never married; Hannah, whose age is 84, is the widow of Thomas Thorne, and Esther, the widow of I. C. Willis, aged 76. All of the girls, except Mrs. Thorne, who lives at Otisville, now live on the old homestead where they were born and which now belongs to their “baby brother,” Mr. Alvah Bennett, whose age is 70 years. The united ages of the five surviving children is 396 years, or an average of over 79 years. Mr. Alvah Bennett and Miss Esther Penney were married 49 years ago and have raised a family of twelve children, the youngest of whom is twenty-two, and have never had a death in their family. They have had thirty grand children and, twenty-eight of whom are now living. Next! W. A.
[Source Middletown Daily Press, Middletown, New York, Saturday, Nov. 19, 1881, page 3]

The author compared the Bertholf children of Warwick, Orange Co., New York to Abraham’s family. I wish I knew what the reporter meant by the title “A Match for the Bertholf Children of Warwick”. Does anybody know these Bertholf’s?

The Middletown Daily Press got Grandmother Lydia’s maiden name wrong. She was born Lydia Schultz, a daughter of Christian Schultz and Hannah Gardner.

The reporting provided a light-hardhearted moment when I saw my 3rd Great Grandfather Alvah referred to as a 70 year-old “baby brother”. I hope the Bennett sisters appreciated longevity when they read their combined ages equaled 396 years.
The Sisters
Abbott Handerson Thayer
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

I have Abraham Bennett’s estate pack and will be discussing his children in the new year.

My Ancestry
4th Great Grandparents Abraham Bennett and Lydia Schultz
3rd Great Grandparents Alvah Bennett and Esther Penney
2nd Great Grandparents Fanny Jane Bennett and Albert Doty
Great Grandparents Lewis Penny Doty and Emily Wight
Grandparents Frank Leroy Doty and Viola L. Wilson
My Mother

Monday, December 11, 2017

News of Alvah Bennett, Wawayanda, NY

The Middletown, New York newspapers have been a goldmine for me. Recently, I added two new articles for 3rd Great Grandparents Alvah Bennett and Esther Penny.

The February 19, 1881 issue of the Middletown Daily Argus reported the grandparents wedding anniversary:

Celebrating a Wedding Anniversary.
   Mr. and Mrs. Alvah Bennett, living near this village celebrated, last evening, the forty-seventh anniversary of their wedding, by a social party at which some 400 guests were present. Eleven of their twelve children and many of their grandchildren were present. After a bountiful supper, dancing was indulged in until a late hour. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett were the recipients of numerous and costly presents and better still, of the good wishes of their friends for many years of happiness and prosperity.

Alvah Bennett and Esther Penny Celebrate 47th Anniversary

I knew three Middletown, NY newspapers printed Great Grandfather’s obituary when he passed. I can now add the Middletown Daily Argus to the list (Friday, August 22, 1890 edition). When I found the fourth obit, I wondered if the writer knew him as this was a more detailed account.

   Mr. Alvah Bennett, one of the oldest and best known citizens of the town of Wawayanda, died at his home near Springside Station, at 1:30 o’clock, yesterday afternoon, aged 78 years, 3 months and 7 days.
   Mr. Bennett suffered a stroke of paralysis late in the fall or early in the winter, which, for a time, completely prostrated him and made his recovery seem impossible. He, however, partially rallied, after a time, from its effects and this spring was able to walk about the farm. He, however, suffered another stroke, on Monday of this week, from the effects of which he died, as above stated.
   Mr. Bennett was the last surviving member of his family. He was the youngest of fourteen children born to Abram Bennet and Lydia Schultz, his wife. He was born on the Bennett homestead, near Springside, on which he always lived and on which he died.
   Mr. Bennett married Ester Penney, over forty years ago. Twelve children were born to them, of whom ten are now living. The sons are: Theodore, a farmer, living in the town of Crawford; William, of Brooklyn; John F. of Bloomingburgh, ex-Supervisor of the town of Mamakating; David W., a farmer near Howells; and Abram, living on the homestead farm.
   The daughters are: Jane, wife of Albert Doty, of Wawayanda, who died a few years ago; Almeda, widow of the late Geo. W. Horton, of Wawayanda, who since her husband’s death, several years since, has lived at the homestead; Harriet, wife of George W. Carpenter, of this city; Kittie, who died several years ago, and who was the wife of ______ Doane of Wawayanda; Ida, living near Goshen; Ann, wife of Seth Blizzard, of Slate Hill; and Elizabeth, wife of Horace Doane of Gardnerville.
   Mr. Bennett was related to several well-known families in this city and vicinity. He was an uncle of the late Oliver Crawford and also of Mr. James B. Crawford and of Mrs. C. Macardell, of this city, and of Mr. John H. Crawford, of the town of Wallkill.
   Mr. Bennett, during his life-long residence in Wawayanda, became very widely known. He was a whole-souled, generous-hearted man, who won his way at once to the hearts of all of his acquaintances and will be sincerely mourned by all who knew him.
   The funeral notice appears elsewhere.       

   Earlier posts about Alvah Bennett:

TREASURE CHEST THURSDAY After 50 Year Marriage Alvah and Ester BennettParted by Death

TOMBSTONE TUESDAY Alvah Bennet and Ester Penny, Wawayanda, Orange Co.,NY

SUNDAY OBITUARY Alvah Bennett died Aug. 21, 1890 Wawayanda, NY

My Ancestry
3rd Great Grandparents Alvah Bennett and Esther Penny
2nd Great Grandmother Fannie Jane Bennett and husband Albert Doty
Great Grandfather Lewis Penny Doty and wife Emily Wight
Grandfather Frank Leroy Doty and wife Viola L. Wilson
My Mother

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Daniel Maclise
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