Monday, September 18, 2017

Review, Re-Do, and Rethink Todd Ancestry: James Todd, Junior

James Todd, Jun., was most likely born in Virginia about 1785. He married Catherine Siple Sept. 13, 1812, in Augusta County, Virginia. After twenty-two years of marriage and eight children, 4th Great Grandfather died in 1834.

Review, Re-Do, and Rethink Todd Ancestry:
Lieutenant James Todd, Jun., 93rd Regiment, War of 1812

Katherine Bushman writes “James Todd, Jr. was the Lieutenant James Todd of the War of 1812” and cites Annals of Augusta County, Virginia From 1726 to 1871, Jos. A. Waddell; page 394 as a source.

Mrs. Bushman steered me in the right direction once again. I located Joseph A. Wadell’s Augusta County history online in the Google Books collection. About a year after the United States declared War on Great Britain, four Augusta Co., VA companies were called for duty:

            Captain Baldwin’s Company
            Captain Baskin’s Company
            Captain Stuart’s Company
            Lieutenant Todd’s Company

Captain Baldwin and Captain Stuart’s Companies served from July 6, 1813 until Sept. 28, 1813. While Captain Baskin’s and Lieutenant Todd’s Companies also began duty on July 6, 1813, their units were broken up August 16, 1813, and most men enlisted with other groups. 4th Great Grandfather James Todd Jun. became a Lieutenant with the “Flying Camp” commanded by Col. James McDowell.

Annals of Augusta County, Virginia From 1726 to 1871, Jos. A. Waddell; page 394

Annals of Augusta County, Virginia From 1726 to 1871, Jos. A. Waddell; page 395

The Library of Virginia has an index to the War of 1812 Pay Rolls on their website for Virginia soldiers appearing in Pay Rolls of Militia Entitled to Land Bounty under the Act of Congress of Sept. 28, 1850, and Muster Rolls of the Virginia Militia in the War of 1812.

I found Lieutenant James Todd listed in the pay rolls on page 40. Great Grandfather James died by the time the Land Bounty Act was created in 1850. Even though he was among those entitled to a land bounty, that doesn’t mean his widow or children applied or received land. Ancestry’s database, U.S. War Bounty Land Warrants, 1789-1858, didn’t contain any Todd kin that I recognized.

Next, I turned to and was pleasantly surprised when I found a database named “United States War of 1812 Service Records, 1812-1815”. Here’s the general index card for Grandfather James Todd. Just as Mr. Waddell stated in his book, Lieutenant Todd became a member of the Flying Camp Militia.

Ancestry’s War of 1812 Pension Application Files Index, 1812-1815 produced zero results. That’s not surprising as legislation wasn’t enacted until the 1870’s to provide pensions for surviving soldiers. The earliest pensions were granted to the surviving widow if the soldier died during their term of service. Neither scenario applies to Great Grandfather.

Searching the service, bounty land, or pensions at the National Archives would be expensive.

Some time ago the Federation of Genealogical Societies helped spearhead a digitization project called “Preserve the Pensions, 1812” and raised $3 million. War of 1812 Pensions and Bounty Warrants became available free of charge on for surnames beginning with A through M. The project stalled for quite some time but the Federation of Genealogical Societies reports work is to begin again this month. I think I’ll wait!

My ancestry
4th Great Grandfather James Todd, Jun., and wife Catherine Siple
3rd Great Grandmother Catherine Todd and husband David McFall
2nd Great Grandfather James Addison McFall and wife Radie Maria Harman
Great Grandmother Flora Belle McFall and husband Daniel Franklin Joseph
Grandfather James McFall Joseph and wife Lucy Leora Clemmer
My Father

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Review, Re-Do, and Rethink Todd Ancestry

Starting today I’m beginning a new project: Review, Re-do, and Rethink my Todd ancestry.

In July 1991, I asked the late Mrs. Katherine G. Bushman, a knowledgeable and respected Augusta Co., Virginia Genealogist, to help me with my McFall family.

While digging out information about my McFall line, Mrs. Bushman found my 3rd Great Grandfather David McFall married Miss Catherine Todd of Augusta County, VA Sept. 3, 1812. The Todd surname was well known to her. Back in 1964, Katherine Bushman accepted the task of finding ‘James H. Todd’ who lived in 1860 Augusta County. She found four James H. Todd’s and no doubt this research resulted in her compilation ‘‘The Todd Family of Mossy Creek, Augusta County, Virginia” compiled in1966. She sent me copies for my branch of the family which I’ll be discussing in Project Review, Re-do, and Rethink.

This became the backbone of my research leading me to 5th Great Grandfather James Todd Sr. and 4th Great Grandfather James Todd Jr. My line of descent continues with Miss Catherine Todd, daughter of James Todd Jr. and wife of David McFall.


File 211, Consent by Catherine Todd for daughter Catharine to marry David
McFall, 7-22-1842; Bond, dated 7-23-1742 [must have meant 1842]; married 7-28-1842 by J. A. Van Lear (Marriage Book 2, page 61, Ministers returns). Also found in Staunton Spectator of August 11, 1842. David McFall died March 22, 1854 (Staunton Spectator of same year)           Source: Katherine G. Bushman’s Research

Re-Do: cites July 23, 1842 as the marriage date and states the record was originally published in "Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, 1745-1800; extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County" by Lyman Chalkley. I viewed Volume 1, 2, and 3 online but didn’t find the 1842 marriage.

A marriage date of July 28, 1842 is also cited by utilizing their Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940 databases. They note their database was originally part of Virginia, Marriages, 1785-1940. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.

I find it odd that cited Lyman Chalkley’s Chronicles as a source when I couldn’t locate the McFall-Todd marriage in the 3-volume set. Are there more volumes to this work?

Before Catherine married David McFall, her mother was required to give her permission as she was only 19 years old.  I would dearly love to see the consent and bond Mrs. Bushman referred to but couldn’t find any catalog listings for either at or the interlibrary loan service of the Library of VA.  I might be able to view the minister’s returns from the Library of VA. It’s worth pursuing.

I don’t doubt Mrs. Bushman’s findings for a moment and hope I can verify her work with a document or two to add to my Todd collection.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Miss Catherine Todd of Mt. Solon, Augusta Co., VA

You’ve heard about the McFall’s often on this blog. Today I want to tell you about the lady who married 3rd Great Grandfather David McFall—Miss Catherine Todd.

Born in Augusta County, Virginia January 1823, Catherine was one of eight children born to James Todd and Catherine Siple. She married David McFall July 28, 1842. They would only have eleven years together; Grandfather died a young man (age 35) March 20, 1854.

Catherine became a 31 year old widowed mother of five children. She never remarried and no doubt faced her share of challenges raising her young brood.

The Widow McFall lived to be an old lady passing Feb. 1, 1908 when she was 85 years old.

The Staunton newspapers enjoyed Grandmother’s longevity and advised their readers of her ‘comings and goings’ during her last years.

The June 1, 1906 Staunton Spectator noted “Mrs. Cathrine McFall, the next oldest person of our village, who is quite active for one of her age, nearing her 84th birthday, is at this writing visiting her grand-daughter, Mrs. Howard Irvine, near Churchville.”

According to the July 6, 1906 Staunton Spectator issue, Grandmother created a buzz upon her arrival at the M. E. Church’s Children’s day service.

      An interesting feature of the occasion was, when Mrs. Catherine McFall entered the church on the arm of her son. She was observed by Dr. James T. Clarke, who arose with the gallantry of a youth and the politeness of a Chesterfield and tendered her a seat by his side remarking, “This is the old issue,” which caused a waive of laughter over the congregation. Both are considerably up in the eighties, yet they seemed to enjoy the evening as much as the young.”

July 6, 1906 Staunton Spectator, From Mt. Solon

 (By the way, Miss Mysee McFall, a granddaughter, participated in the ceremonies.)

A grandson makes the Mt. Solon news via the Staunton Spectator and Vindicator Friday, Dec. 6, 1907; “James D. McFall of Richmond, is visiting his grandmother, Mrs. Catherine McFall.

When Catherine died, the Staunton Spectator and Vindicator published a lengthy article Friday, February 7, 1908:

     This most estimable lady passed away Saturday night at Mt. Solon, her death being due to pnuemonia and the infirmities of old age. The deceased was the daughter of the late James and Catherine Todd, and was born in the Mt. Solon neighborhood, in the month of January, 1823, and she was in her 86th year. She was a sister of James and Preston Todd, who preceded her to the grave.
      Many years ago she married David McFall, and of this union four children are now living, namely Stuart B., of Washington; Hamilton B., and B. Chambers McFall, of Mt. Solon, and Miss Maggie McFall, of the same place. She is also survived by many grandchildren.
      Her whole life was passed in the village of Mt. Solon, her children grew to manhood and womanhood there. She was such a part and parcel of the neighborhood, and her good work was so intimately interwoven in all that transpired there that she will be greatly missed. In so far as she was able she assisted in charity and her Christian life was a model, her motherly virtues a source of pleasure, and her struggle with the cares of a family in her widowhood was brave and successful. She had long been a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, South, and her funeral took place from that church on Monday afternoon being conducted by her pastor, Rev. W. S. Marsh. The funeral being attended by many friends and relatives.
      Mrs. Catherine McFall of Mt. Solon, Va., after several weeks of illness, died at her residence in the village at 10 p.m. on the first day of February, 1908, aged 85 years. She was born in January 1823, and was a daughter of James and Catherine Todd, who settled on a small tributary of Mossy Creek about the middle of the 18th century. She lived all her long life on and near the place of her birth. She had three sisters and four brothers--none of whom survive her. Her remains were borne to the grave by six of her grandsons who acted as pall bearers. She was the widow of D. B. McFall, a former merchant of the village, and was a consistent member of the M. E. Church, South for many years. The funeral services were conducted by her pastor Rev. W. H. Marsh. The hymns sung during the services were "I would not live away", "Lead kindly light" and "From every stormy wind that blows"--the latter one of her favorite hymns. Although she suffered much during the latter part of her sickness, she never murmured; being perfectly rational to the last when she sank peacefully to sleep. Her last hours were cheered by her bright anticipation of joining the hosts of the redeemed who had gone before. Her death will be deeply regretted by her relatives and numerous friends who will never forget the cheerful smile which so frequently wreathed her handsome, youthful-appearing face; but they are comforted by the reflection that their loss is her eternal gain, and it will be their privilege to meet her again in the realms of everlasting bliss, "Far beyond the sunsets radiant glow, where sickness and sorrow, pain and woe, and the pangs of separation, are known no more forever."
             J. T. C.

The Staunton Daily Leader also printed an obituary in their Monday evening, Feb. 3, 1908 edition:

Staunton Daily Leader Feb 3 1908, Country Woman Dies in her 86th year

As you can tell from this post, I delight in finding my family in the papers. If you should see any of my McFall’s or Todd’s, please share the news.

My ancestry
4th Great Grandparents James Todd and Catherine Siple
3rd Great Grandparents Catherine Todd and David McFall
2nd Great Grandparents James Addison McFall and Radie Maria Harman
Great Grandparents Flora Belle McFall and Daniel Franklin Joseph
Grandparents James McFall Joseph and Lucy Leora Clemmer
My Father

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Searching for Aunt Abbie

I’m pleased and proud to introduce Julia DiMunno, my daughter, as my first guest author.  I owe Great Aunt Abbie Kimber a debt of gratitude for piquing Julia’s interest in our family’s history. Thank you Julia for sharing Aunt Abbie’s story.

Greetings family and friends. My interest in Abigail Kimber began in March 2017. That was when I, just beginning to develop an interest in our family tree, shyly offered to record some of the Kimber letters for my mother. If any of you have been reading my mother’s blog for any length of time, I’m sure you know all about the Kimber letters--a series of letters written amongst the Kimber sisters and their mother, Keziah dating from 1848-1865. They offer a poignant snapshot of life among one family. After my offer, my mother’s immediate response was “You can be the voice of Aunt Abbie in her diary”. Great, I thought, but who’s Aunt Abbie?

Aunt Abbie, I learned, was my fourth great grandaunt, her sister Charity Kimber Clark being my direct ancestor. Over the next few weeks I read and recorded her diary, which ranged from September 10, 1864 to November 30, 1864. I lent my voice to her words and hopefully, I did her justice. I must confess, in the process, I developed a tenderness to this ancestor of mine. When the project was over I asked what became of her and was shocked at the answer. We do not know what happened to Aunt Abbie. We do not know when or where she died, or where she is buried. How could this be? Albeit she was unmarried and childless--a sprig on a larger family tree--she lived, and was an integral part of a family. She could not have simply vanished, a lone woman forgotten in the pages of time. My quest became to find her.

Let me first tell you a little about her. Abigail Lucy Kimber was born April 22, 1822 in Unionville NY. She was one of nine sisters born to Benjamin and Keziah Kimber. She was the only unmarried sister and was often sent from home to home to care for ailing family members. She spent most of her time between Orange County, NY and Bradford County, PA. This must have been a trying task at times. She was there to care for sister, Julia Ann Kimber Elston, in the months leading up to her death. Alongside her mother Keziah, she helped care for little nephew Ephern Doty, sleeping beside him in her own bed before he slipped away. In father Benjamin’s later years, it was Abbie who sat vigil at his beside watching his every breath. One diary entry from October 23, 1864 reads “It don’t seem as if I can live it he don’t”.

Aunt Abbie was not without her own problems. According to notes believed to be from Winifred Drake Ridall (Granddaughter of Jane Kimber and Moses Seely) “she had a great disappointment. A man wanted to marry her but she would not marry him unless he accepted the [Jones ?] children, which he refused”. The handwriting here is in the margin and difficult read, but I believe it refers to the Jones children (the children of deceased sister Susan Kimber and Caleb Jones). She may have had her own physical ailments as well. In one of the Kimber letters sister Sarah Kimber Mackney writes that she is going to send Abbie medicine to see if it helps. In another, Keziah refers to Abbie’s only being able to sit up in bed a little and needing a litter to travel in. When she was caring for Julia Ann, Abbie fell ill suddenly and the family thought that she could “not liv no time”.

Reading through the Kimber letters and Aunt Abbie’s own diary one can see evidence of what we now know as depression and anxiety. She makes multiple references of her gloominess and her nerves. One diary entry from November 14, 1864 reads: “O how pleasant death looks to me--it will relive my poor throbbing heart and this poor weak body of mine that knows no rest”. She was but 42 years old when she wrote this. I have no doubt that Benjamin’s death in 1866 exacerbated these feelings.

In 1874 at the age of 52, Aunt Abbie was admitted to the New York State Homeopathic Hospital in Middletown, a mere few weeks after it opened. This hospital was the first of its kind, offering a more gentle approach to the mentally ill. Likely living with Jane and Moses Seely in Troy, PA at the time, they would have heard about this new hospital from their Orange County relatives. I believe they were watching and waiting for this hospital to open in hopes that it could help her. One year later, according to the NYS 1875 census records, Abbie is still there and listed as “insane”. Thanks to the work of Mrs. Kathryn Decker Osburn (granddaughter of Phebe Kimber Decker) we know that Abbie was discharged from the Homeopathic hospital on March 23, 1876 and that her condition was “unimproved”. Kathryn even went a step further by writing to the NYS Department of Health and the Office of Vital Statistics searching for a date of death on Abbie. Her queries were answered stating that no records were found.

My search began where Winifred’s and Kathryn’s left off. My instincts told me that she may not have strayed far from Middletown after her discharge. She would have been about 54 years old by then, and after spending two years in the state hospital she may not have been well enough to travel back to Bradford County. I searched the 1880 census records for the remaining Kimber sisters and, as suspected, could not find Abbie with any of them. So then I began to look among the extended family, paying close attention to the Orange County relatives. Had one of the younger generation taken her in? After all, she had helped care for enough of them in her lifetime. I searched the 1880 census records for nieces and nephews hoping to find Aunt Abbie among them. This was no easy task, as my ancestor Charity alone had 12 children. I grew more disheartened with each search. A nagging thought formed in my mind--what if no one took her in? What if she was too far gone or hard to handle? Could she have gone to a home for destitute women?

I was still in the midst of searching among the Clarks, Deckers and Elstons, when, on a whim I did a Google search for the Orange County poorhouse. I was directed to’s Census of Inmates in Almshouses and Poorhouses, an index I didn’t even know existed. Lo and behold-- there she was. Miss Kimber was admitted to the Orange county poorhouse on March 22, 1876 at the age of 54. According to her admission form, she was admitted after spending 2 years “at Middletown”. Among the other demographic information,we learn that she was temperate, status of dependence was insanity, she was unable to perform labor, and that she “would remain” at the poorhouse. A single line at the bottom of the form gives us a tiny glimpse of the woman. It reads “this woman is noisy and fretful”.

I was elated to have found her, but dismayed to have found where she was and it led to further questions. I assumed that Aunt Abbie died in the poorhouse, but I can find no evidence of it. I believe that she died between 1876 -1880. I have been unable to find any more records for the Orange County Poorhouse, neither at the state or local level. Our local Orange County Genealogical Society holds the records for those buried in the old poorhouse burial ground, but alas, those years are missing and she is not among their other records. “Find a Grave” searches have yielded no results, as have searches for death notices or obituaries in local papers.

There may be another alternative. According to the notes of Winifred Drake Ridall, her mother, Isabel Seely Drake, thought that Aunt Abbie might have been taken home to Bradford County. She writes: “I know that she died before or about the time of my mother’s marriage, which was December 30, 1875 at Fassett, Pa. Grandfather lived at that time on the left hand side of the road after leaving Fassett on the way to Gillett, about opposite where the church now stands (1936). I do not know how long before this date he lived there. Mother told me that her aunt was in the state hospital in Middletown for some time, but she was taken out and brought to their home”. Her timeline is a little off. We know that Abbie was alive and still in the state hospital in 1875 and that she lived to see at least the first few months of 1876. But is it possible that she was taken out of the poorhouse and brought home to Jane and Moses? So far I have found no records of any death notices in the Pennsylvania newspapers and “Find a Grave” searches have yielded no results.

So family and friends, we have now arrived at our brick wall. Any information or suggestions are most welcome. I would love to know when and where she died. Above all, I would like to stand before her grave, place a bright bouquet of flowers on it and say “You were not forgotten”. Who knows, maybe with your help the next time you hear from me, it will be under the title of “Finding Aunt Abbie”

~ Julia DiMunno (4th great grandniece of Abigail Kimber)

Louis Galliac