Thursday, August 21, 2014

52 Ancestors - J. S. Littrell – A Mean Man

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small issued the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.  Each week focus on one ancestor and post something about him or her.

Me - My Mom - Ruby Alberta Belknap - Bessie Beatrice Landers - Angeline Henrietta Littrell - John H Littrell (J.S. Littrell  brother to John?)

We tend to think the best of our ancestors when all we have to go by are a few records with dates and names. Sometimes there’s a family history or obituary portraying them as an upstanding citizen of the community. And if they weren’t so upstanding maybe very little was said. While searching for my 2nd great grandfather John H. Littrell in the Dubuque, Iowa, USA newspapers, I came across all the dirt on Jacob S. Littrell, also know as J. S. Littrell.  I believe he may be John’s brother or close relative. I have yet to find prove of a relationship, but there’s strong evidence of a family tie. Both John and Jacob are one of the few Littrells in the Dubuque area during 1850s and 1860s, they are close enough in ages to be brothers. John is born about 1830, Jacob 1833. They both enlisted in the Union army during the civil war in the same regiment. John enlisted in the regular army 12th infantry regiment on November 29, 1861, Jacob  enlisted on February 14, 1862 

My 2 nd great grandfather John died in Dubuque, Iowa in November of 1862 after being medically discharged on October 11, 1862. Jacob was discharged on February 14, 1865 and returned to Dubuque. I’m not sure what kind of man my 2nd great grandfather was, but J. S. led a scandalous life in Dubuque, Iowa. It was all highlighted in the Dubuque Herald on February 23, 1873. Just the title suggest he wasn't highly thought of. 

The article gives a few facts of J. S. Littrell's life. It states he moved from Maryland to Iowa with his parents in 1847.  He lived in Maquoketa for a while.  J. S. was 40 years old on the February 20, 1873, making his birth date February 20,1833. He married Mary Ann Kelly about 1853. In the 1870 census, J. S. and Mary are living in Dubuque, Iowa with children Frank, 9 years old, and Charles, 2 years old. 

Most of the article is about his scandalous ways. Somehow he became the city engineer in 1870 serving out the unexpired term of Mr. Crusius. It states he was man of more than average ability, but he put a poor effort in at work and accepted bribes. He had numerous relations with lewd women, leaving his sickly wife at home. Then he left town leaving his family in poverty with unpaid debts.

I don't think J. S. would have returned to Dubuque, Iowa after his scandal. I did find in the United States Records of Headstones of Deceased Union Veterans, a headstone record for Jacob S. Littrell in Denver Colorado in the Riverside cemetery that lists his death date as December 2, 1889. 

Looking at census records, it looks like his boys Frank and Charlie stayed in the Dubuque, Iowa area. 

More on the Littrell family:


"A Mean Man," The Dubuque Herald, 23 February 1873, p. 4, column 2; digital image, My Heritage ( : accessed 21 August 2014).

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

52 Ancestors - Britta Maria Polo (Honkawaara) - Finnish 2nd Great Grandmother

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small issued the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.  Each week focus on one ancestor and post something about him or her.

Me - My Mom - Fridof Jaakko Waldemar Maki - Carolina Honkawaara - Britta Maria Juhontytär Polo

My 2nd great grandmother, Britta Maria, is not the woman I thought she was. She still is a brave woman for immigrating from Finland to a new land with her young children to follow her husband to America in 1884. But based on previous family trees and a write up in a family history book, I assumed her maiden name was Riekki. But assuming anything in family research can lead you astray. With the help from one of my Finnish DNA match cousins from Family Tree DNA, I've discovered the real Britta Maria. Sometimes it takes just a little help to get started. After just a bit of information provided to my cousin, he was able to find the marriage record for Britta and her spouse Sakaris.  He sent me a link to the actual record on Finland's Family History Association website. (To see the digital images click on the sources at the end of the post.) Their marriage is right at the top under 1869 beside the date of April 17. The record is in Swedish, so names are recorded in Swedish.

Apr. 17th 1869   Drengen och ungk. Zacharis Mattsson Honkavaara och Pigan Brita Maria Johansdr Polo vigde i Jokijärvi kyrka af N. A. Bergh…

Basic translation from my cousin:
It says that Zacharis (son of Matts) Honkavaara and Brita Maria (daughter of Johan) Polo got married 17th of April 1869 in church of Jokijärvi.
Jokijärvi in is Pudasjärvi and their titles express that neither has been married before. Their real names may have been Sakari and Riitta in Finnish. My great grandmother went by the name Britta Maria in America.

So Britta wasn't a Riekki but a Polo or Polo could be a farm name. Finnish names are confusing but there are lots of great resources on-line that can explain much better than I could. I listed a few later in the post. The second name is usually a patronymic. Which is basically stating who you are the son or daughter of. Brita is the daughter of Johan. Johandotter in Swedish and Juhontytär in Finnish. 

Now that I knew where to search for information I tackled the birth records (Syntyneet in Finnish) in Pudasjärvi parish on the Finland's Family History Association website. I looked for the children births that I knew were born in Finland. Although I don't know a lot of Swedish or Finnish, I was able to pick out the names. I found the birth for three of the children I knew about and a couple who didn't survive long. I wasn't able to find the birth for Charles (Karl in Finnish) who was born about 1882. Since he was born after his father left for America maybe he was born in another parish. Britta would follow later in 1884 with the four surviving children. Two daughters would be would born in Michigan, United States. One being my great grandmother, Carolina or Liina.  Her children:

  • Maria Sofia born December 4, 1869 in Pudasjärvi 
  • Zackris born February 10, 1872 in Pudasjärvi, died March 18 1872 in Pudasjärvi
  • Anna Kaisa born April 30, 1873 in Pudasjärvi
  • Greta born November 8, 1875 in Pudasjärvi , died September 12, 1877 in Pudasjärvi
  • Sakari born May 27, 1879 in Pudasjärvi
  • Karl born about 1882 in Finland
  • Carolina born 1887 in Michigan, United States
  • Johanna born February 9, 1889 in Michigan, United States

From the marriage record I now know Britta's father's name, Johan. To find Britta's birth and other family members, I look at the Communion Books (Rippikijart). These are amazing records that list family members, birth dates, where a person has moved to or from, and other tidbits. It took me a while to understand these records and find families. The Honkavaara family seem to be at No. 54 Heikkila in Pudasjärvi  for a number of years and this where I find Britta Maria in the book from 1861 to 1873. It has her name as Brita Maria Johandr Polo born October 21, 1847 and she moved from Kuusamo in 1869 (the year she married). So off I go to look at the birth records in Kuusamo. Sure enough I find Britta in the 1837-1855 Syntyneet for October 21, 1873. I can't read all of the entry but it looks like her father is Johan Polo of Orolas and her mother is Sofia. Looking at the Rippikijart in the Kuusamo parish in the book from 1843 to 1849 I find the family at Orola.

From just a little help from a cousin and a whole lot of goggling to understand Finnish records I was able to find the real Britta and her family. After going through some more records I was able to go back quite a ways on the Polo family and discover her mother's name, Sofia Larsdotter Määttä. Along the way I learned a little Swedish and Finnish. I've found the Swedish records a little easier to decipher as it's closer to English. Most of the records seem to be in Swedish up to about 1879 then they switch to Finnish. As for the name Reikki, I think I've discovered where that came from. I believe that name is from her husband's family. Going back in the Communion Books I was able to find that the Honkavaaras seemed to be originally from Riecki farm.

Help with Finnish records:
Finding Records of Your Ancestors 
Family Search Wiki
How to Trace Your Roots in Finland
Swedish and Finnish names 
Finnish names on Wikipedia 

Finnish Records:
Finland's Family History Association 
Genealogical Society of Finland. Lists of christenings, marriages, burial, and moves  


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

52 Ancestors - Catherine Paterson (Greenlees) - Doting Daughter

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small issued the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.  Each week focus on one ancestor and post something about him or her.

Me - My Dad - Johnston Cumberland Paterson - Francis Paterson - Johnston Paterson (Catherine is the daughter of Johnston and sister of Francis)

My great grandaunt Catherine Paterson or Kate, as she is named in some records, is another one of my ancestors who may be forgotten as she married late in life and never had any children. She was the oldest daughter of Johnston Paterson and Catherine Muirhead. She was named after her mother and her grandmother Catherine Kennedy. Kate was  born about 1844 in Glasgow, Scotland. 

Shortly after her birth Catherine, her parents, and her older brother, Johnston, moved from Glasgow to Braehead Cottage,  Moffat Mills near Airdrie, Scotland. Three baby boys died and were buried in Glasgow before the move. Kate grows up at Braehead Cottage watching the family grow and shrink as babies are born and children die. Her mother gives birth to four more boys and two more girls. Her little brother George Hunter dies at only two years old of a fever for 8 days. When Catherine is 24 years old, her sister Elizabeth dies at 12 years old of pneumonia. Then her brother Edward at 15 years old dies of water in head. Two years later Kate's brother William dies at 24 years old of struma (enlarged thyroid?) that he had for several years. How sad it must have been for the family to bury so many children. Only two of Kate's siblings marry and have children. Although, I'm not sure about her older brother, Johnston. (He's some what of a mystery.) Her sister, Ann marries John White, a farmer  from Shotts in 1872. Her brother Francis (my great grandfather) marries Ewenina Kennedy in 1881 and after her death marries Elizabeth Danskine (my great grandmother) in 1883.

By the 1891 census it looks like Catherine will remain a spinster. Her father dies this year and she is still living at Braehead Cottage with her mother and youngest sister, Jessie. Maybe Catherine was just being a devoted daughter caring for her parents or nobody came around to her liking. But three years after her father's death, at the age of 54 (although the marriage record states 47), she marries John Greenlees, a watchmaker, from Ayr. Her brother includes the names Greenlees in his youngest daughter's name, Edith Greenlees Paterson. 

Catherine's mother dies in 1897. Her sister Jessie probably moved in with Catherine and John at this time as she is listed in the 1901 census as living with them. Jessie is 17 years younger than Kate. Young enough to be her daughter. 

Kate never had children of her own but she seemed to be surrounded by her own sibling, nieces, and nephews. She died in Ayr, Scotland at the age of 61 of influenza and pneumonia. 
Other posts about the Patersons:

New Monkland, Scotland, Statutory Deaths 1855-2013, death of George Hunter Paterson; digital image, ScotlandsPeople ( 29 August 2008); 651/02 0028.

New Monkland, Scotland, Statutory Deaths 1855-2013, death of Elizabeth Paterson; digital image, ScotlandsPeople ( 1 February 2012); 651/02 0038.

New Monkland, Scotland, Statutory Deaths 1855-2013, death of Edward Paterson; digital image, ScotlandsPeople ( 1 February 2012); 651/02 0074.

New Monkland, Scotland, Statutory Deaths 1855-2013, death of William Paterson; digital image, ScotlandsPeople ( 29 July 2014); 651/02 0115.

Glasgow, Scotland, Statutory Marriages 1855-2014, marriage of John Greenlees & Kate Paterson; digital image, ScotlandsPeople ( 28 July 2014); 651/01 0106.

Ayr, Scotland, Statutory Deaths 1855-2013, death of Catherine Greenlees; digital image, ScotlandsPeople ( 28 July 2014); 578/01 0537.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

52 Ancestors - James Paterson - Glasgow Spirit Dealer

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small issued the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.  Each week focus on one ancestor and post something about him or her.

Me - My Dad - Johnston Cumberland Paterson - Francis Paterson - Johnston Paterson - James Paterson

The surname Paterson is special to me as it's my birth name. The furthest I've been able to go back on my paternal side is my 3rd great grandfather, James Paterson.  He was born about 1766, probably in Glasgow, Scotland as that is where he was married, had his children, and died. 

James is listed as a spirit dealer in Glasgow when he marries Ann Hunter on June 5, 1810 by  Mr. William Kidston, Burgher Seceder Minister in Glasgow. James and Ann had five boys and one girl that I've discovered in the Old Parish Registers for births and baptisms. Their children:

James born May 1, 1811 is in the May 1811 register. James is listed as a spirit dealer and witnesses are George Crofs & Walter Graham. 

Francis born December 12, 1812, Johnston born December 29, 1814, and George born February 19, 1819 are all in the December 1820 register. James is listed as a porter and witnesses are Edward Crossgrove & James Dow. 

Alexander born August 3, 1823 is in the December 1823 register. James is listed as a grocer & spirit dealer and witnesses are Matthew Anderson & David Drysdale.
Mary born June 7, 1826 is the January 1834 register. James is listed as a labourer and witnesses are Andrew Wortherspoon & William Kerr. Also, at the end of the birth entry it's written: by order of F. Georges' [Sepica]. Not sure what that means.

Some of his children I've been able to trace through the records. I'm still looking into the witnesses to see if any are related to the family.  But I've not found much beyond the birth dates for James and Alexander. Paterson seems to be quite a common surname and so are some of the given names. The easiest given name to find has been Johnston (my direct paternal line) as it's an unusual first name. 

I believe that James died in January of 1840 in Glasgow at the old age of 74. His funeral was January 27, 1840 with a hearse with 2 horses. James is buried  in the lair of George Neilson at St. David's church yard in Glasgow .  He's listed as a grocer. I think this is likely my James as I've found other Patersons buried in the same lair of G. Neilson in St. David's. One of the best clues would be the burial of wee George Paterson, only 2 months old, whom father is listed as Johnston Paterson.  Probably James' grandson. 

 I've discovered an interesting book on google that looks at the evidence of  drunkenness in Glasgow, Ireland and London.  On page 175, Mr. William Collins, a bookseller and the vice president of the Scottish Temperance Society states that in 1832 in Glasgow there were 1360 spirit dealers, making one to every 14 families. Evidence on Drunkenness Presented to The House of Commons published in 1834. 

Another post about James and his wife, Ann Hunter:

Glasgow, Scotland, Pre 1855 Banns & Marriages, marriage of James Paterson and Ann Hunter; digital image, ScotlandsPeople ( 30 April 2008); OPR 644/001 0280 0127.

Glasgow, Scotland, Pre 1855 Births & Baptisms, birth of James Paterson; digital image, ScotlandsPeople ( 25 January 2012); OPR 644/01 0200 0554.

Glasgow, Scotland, Pre 1855 Births & Baptisms, birth of Francis Paterson, Johnston Paterson, and George Paterson; digital image, ScotlandsPeople ( 29 April 2008). OPR 644/001 0300 0133. 

Glasgow, Scotland, Pre 1855 Births & Baptisms, birth of Alexander Paterson; digital image, ScotlandsPeople ( 25 January 2012); OPR 644/01 0310 0327.

Glasgow, Scotland, Pre 1855 Births & Baptisms, birth of Mary Paterson; digital image, ScotlandsPeople ( 25 January 2012); OPR 644/01 0330 0642.

Glasgow, Scotland, Pre 1855 Deaths & Burials, death of James Paterson; digital image, ScotlandsPeople ( 20 April 2012); OPR 644/01 0630 0099.

Glasgow, Scotland, Pre 1855 Deaths & Burials, death of George Paterson; digital image, ScotlandsPeople ( 20 April 2012); OPR 644/01 0630 0095.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

52 Ancestors - Abraham Warry - Non-Conformist

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small issued the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.  Each week focus on one ancestor and post something about him or her.

Me - My Dad - Dorothy Eleanor May Warry - Alfred William Warry - George Augustus Warry - William Keen Warry - Abraham Warry

My Warry side of the family has its share of non-conformists. Living in England some of them just didn't conform to the established church. My grandmother (Dorothy Warry) and her family stated they were baptists on the Canadian census records. So it's no surprise to see my 4th grandfather (Abraham Warry) in the England Non-Conformist records.  The surname Warry and his wife's surname Keen can be found sprinkled throughout the non-conformist records. 

Abraham was born probably in 1781 as he was baptized December 31, 1781 at St. Michael in Stockland, Devonshire, England. The same church where his siblings, John, Ann, and Robert were baptized.  He was the son of William Warry and Elizabeth. Most indexes seem to have his mother as Susanah, but I was able to look at the actual image on Find My Past. At the very bottom of the 1781 page is Abraham's baptism. The name Susanah is crossed out and Elizabeth written below.

Abraham Warry baptism St. Michael, Stockland, Devonshire, England

Abraham married Mary Elizabeth Keen about 1807 probably in Bristol, England. Bristol seems to be the place where he began his association with the New Jerusalem/Swedenborgian Church. A religion based on the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) a Swedish scientist and theologian. Their daughter Eliza Warry is found on a list of members baptized into the New Jerusalem Church in Bristol. She was born August 2, 1808 and baptized on August 28, 1808 by William Pownall. Their address at this time is listed as Redcliff Street, Bristol. 

By 1819 the Warry family is in London, England. On December 25, 1819, Abraham is baptized with his nine year old son (William Keen Warry) at the Swedenborgian, Fryars Street Chapel on Friar Street, in London, England. 

Abraham & William Keen Warry baptism London, England

Abraham Warry of Wm & Elizabeth Warry             25 Dec. 1819
William Keen Warry of Abraham & Mary Elizabeth
   born  3 March 1810                                        } 25 Dec. 1819

Information on Nonconformist:

More on Abraham's family:

St Michael (Stockland, Devon), Devon Baptisms, unpaginated, page dated 1781, Abraham Warry baptism; digital images, Find My Past ( : accessed 3 June 2014).

"England & Wales, Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970," digital images, ( : accessed 25 June 2014), Eliza Warry baptism; The National Archives; Kew, England; Piece 1361A: Wooburn Green (Primitive Methodist), 1832-1836. Three images in front of the Wooburn Green (Primitive Methodist) are baptisms from the New Jersusalem Church in Bristol.

"England & Wales, Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970," digital images, ( : accessed 10 June 2014), Abraham Warry baptism; The National Archives; Kew, England; Piece 4239: Friar Street, Blackfriars (Swedenborgians), 1787-1837.

Monday, June 23, 2014

52 Ancestors - Donald Francis Belknap

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small issued the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.  Each week focus on one ancestor and post something about him or her.

Me -My Mom - Ruby Alberta Belknap - Donald Francis Belknap

Donald Francis Belknap was the first of my great grandparents to  come to Canada. He arrived in 1899 with his father Thomas Jefferson Belknap when he was 17 years old. 

Donald was born May 14, 1882 in Marshalltown, Marshall, Iowa, USA. He was the youngest of the three children of Thomas Jefferson Belknap and Mary Elizabeth Fiddler. His older siblings were Martin Henry Belknap and Birdie Eldora Leona Belknap

Donald was 16 when his mother Mary died in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. After her death, Donald and his father Thomas went to Alberta, Canada. In 1905 Donald purchased NE 4-40-24-4 by Lacombe, Alberta. His father Thomas purchased the quarter to the west. 
The purchases can be viewed at the Library and Archives Canada website under Land Grants of Western Canada, 1870-1930 for Donald Francis Belknap and Thomas Belknap.

In March of 1906 Donald married Bertha Todd. Donald and Bertha can be found on the 1906 census with the post office address of Valley City in Sub-District 28, Strathcona, Alberta.  Sadly she died on his birthday just a year later in 1907. She is buried at the Fairview Cemetery in Lacombe. 
In 1910 Donald is back in the USA in Geddes, Charles Mix, South Dakota.  I wasn't sure why he would go to South Dakota. But taking a second look at his family I realized that his maternal grandmother Frances George Fiddler went to Geddes after her husband Henry Fiddler died in 1896. She probably went to live with her daughter Eldora Elizabeth Fiddler Pierce. So Donald would have had family in South Dakota.
It was in South Dakota that Donald married his 2nd wife Bessie Landers. After a couple of years in South Dakota and losing a newborn son Donald took his wife back to Canada by Lacombe. They cross the North Portal, Saskatchewan, Canada border on September 25, 1912.
Donald and Bessie had three girls, Bertha (Betty), Ruby, and Frances. They are in the Lacombe area till about 1918, as Donald is mentioned in  several publications around that area mostly for his water dowsing abilities. See my post Workday Wednesday - Water Witch. 
Donald is then found in Telkwa, British Columbia along with his father Thomas  and sister Birdie. He's in the Wrigley's British Columbia Directories under Telkwa for quite a few years in the 1920s either as a mixed farmer or lather. I've found the death records for two children born in Telkwa to Donald and Bessie. Uruon Azasiah Belknap was born in 1923 and Mary Elizabeth Belknap was born in 1925. They both died before the age of one. 
Donald is back in the Lacombe area by 1928, as he's once again appears in publications. In the Western Globe on December 8 1938:
TEES. - Tees news ten years
ago: After an absence of several
years, Don Belknap returned
to prove that his divining for
water wells had not been im-
paired by his sojourn in British
Columbia. Just a decade ago,
Dec. 1 1928, Don commenced a
well for B. M. Armstrong. Since
that time he has dug or located
several flowing wells, in addition
to many that didn't quite over-
flow. During this intervening
period. Donald has never hit a
dry hole, when after water.
Donald and Bessie end up in Edmonton, Alberta. Donald's wife Bessie died in Edmonton on January 27, 1947. Donald died 18 years later in Edmonton, on August 13 1965. He's buried at the Mount Pleasant Cemetery. I visited the cemetery a couple of years ago and was disappointed to find no grave maker at his plot. 
More posts on Donald's family:

Donald Francis Belknap, birth certificate Bk 1, Pg B13 (1882), Marshalltown, Marshall, Iowa, Iowa Department of Public Health, Des Moines, Polk, Iowa.
 "British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 22 Jun 2014), Uruon Azasiah Belknap, 07 Jul 1924; citing Telkwa, British Columbia, Canada; British Columbia Archives film number B13125, Division of Vital Statistics, Victoria; FHL microfilm 1927302. 

 "British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 22 Jun 2014), Mary Elizabeth Belknap, 08 Feb 1926; citing Telkwa, British Columbia, Canada; British Columbia Archives film number B13130, Division of Vital Statistics, Victoria; FHL microfilm 1927349. 

"Western Globe," newspaper, University of Alberta, Peel's Prairie Provinces ( : accessed 23 June 2014), December 8, 1938, Item Ar00507