history-genealogy site

This is a site where I will discuss my family genealogy research and related history. When a blog deals with a particular family group, I will try to include it in the title so uninterested people can skip it without skimming it. It is my hope to get feedback on research methods, family members and historical context from other historians, genealogists, and researchers. (c) Barbara L. de Mare 2006, 2007

Location: Englewood, New Jersey, United States

Friday, July 18, 2008


Probate file of Richard Chapel

To the Hon. William P. Walker Esq. Judge of Probate for the County of Berkshire

Humbly shows Travis A. Phillips of Colebrook in the County of Litchfield, Connecticut. That Richard Chapel last an inhabitant of Sandisfield in said County of Berkshire has lately viz on the twenty first day of Feby 1825 died testate leaving Goods and an Estate of which administration is necessary that Benjamin Sheldon Esq. was appointed by said deceased Executor of his Last Will and Testament and has a legal right to take such administration but has declined that trust, that Sarah Chapel the Widow of said deceased has also declined. That Daniel Chapel Seth Chapel and Richard heirs at Law of sd deceased reside in the State of New York, that John Chapel one of the heirs has died since the decease of sd testator & has a family in sd State of New York. That Matthew Smith Chapel is supposed to be in the State of New York and has a family living in sd Sandisfield – that Sarah Roberts & Grace Phillips two of said heirs reside in the State of Connecticut, that Ruth Sage resides in sd State of New York, that Hannah Chapel & Betsy Sage reside in sd Sandisfield, that sd Daniel Chapel declines taking administration of sd Estate, that your petitioner is the husband of the said Grace Phillips who was the daughter of sd deceased ~ Wherefore he prays that your Honour would [p. 247] appoint him Administrator with the Will annexed & allow him to prove said Will as aforesaid agreeably to Law in such cases made and provided ~ Dated at Great Barrington this twelfth day of May A.D. 1825.

Travis A. Phillips

Berkshire ss. At a Court of Probate holden at Great Barrington

in and for said County on the second Tuesday of May A.D. 1825

The foregoing petition being duly ? acclaimed, It is thereupon decreed by the Court ? that the sd petitioner give notice to all persons interested in the subject matter thereof to appear at a Court of Probate to be holden at Lenox within & for said County on the first Tuesday of Term next at ten o’clock in the forenoon ~ those living in this County to have personal notice fourteen days before said Court. All others by publishing the petition & this order thereon in the Berkshire Star printed at Stockbridge three weeks successively the first publication to be at least fourteen days before said Court at which time & place they may be heard concerning the same.

William P. Walker Judge of Probate

In the name of God Amen. I Richard Chapel of Southfield in the County of Berkshire and Commonwealth of Massachusetts being in good health of body and of sound and disposing mind to settle my worldly affairs whilest I have strength and capacity so to do, do make and publish this my last Will and testament hereby revoking and making void all former Wills by me at any time heretofore made. And first and principally I commit my soul into the hands of my Creator who gave it and my body to the earth to be interred in the burying ground of Southfield aforesaid near James Road, at the discretion of my Executor hereinafter named, and as to such Worldly Estate wheresowith it has pleased God to entrust me I dispose of the same as followeth ~

Imprimus ~ I give and devise to my dear and beloved Wife Sarah Chapel during the time she shall remain my Widow the use and improvement of those two pieces of land lying and being in Southfield aforesaid lying west of my dwelling house called and known by the name of the Mivnik* lots one lying on the South Side of the highway containing thirty acres, and the other on the north side of the highway containing twenty five acres with privilege to cut sufficient timber for the repairing and supporting of sufficient fences and sufficient fire wood for her own use – also the north west room in my dwelling house and the B? in the stoop, the use of so much of the west Barn as will accommodate her for the putting up of sufficient fodder and for stabling one horse and Cow, also one good horse, the side saddle I now own one good Bridle one good Cow and two Beds & Bedding to th? One third part of all my household furniture & household utensils and [p. 248] such articles as shall be selected by her, and six dollars in money to be paid her annually by my sons Daniel Chapel, John Chapel Seth Chapel, Richard Chapel & Matthew Smith Chapel, meaning to give and bequeath my sd Wife the use and improvement of the above property during her said Widowhood and no longer, and from and after her said Widowhood I give and bequeath the same to my said sons Daniel, John, Seth, Richard & Matthew Smith ~

Item. I give and devise to my said sons Daniel Chapel John Chapel Seth Chapel Richard Chapel and Matthew Smith Chapel after my just debts and funeral charges are paid all my Real Estate of what name or nature soever and wherever it may lye excepting the use and improvement of that devised to my said Wife, and also all of my personal Estate of what name or nature soever excepting also the use of that devised to my said Wife during her said Widowhood –

The above property devised and given to my said sons to be divided between them equally so that they shall share & share alike taking into consideration the several sums I shall have advanced

them respectively and charged them on my Book of Accounts against them kept solely for that purpose. Including in their several shares the sums I have or shall advance them respectively --

And I consider my farm in Southfield worth twenty five dollars per acre including the buildings

and my land in the State of Ohio worth four dollars per acre now it is my will and pleasure that my son Matthew Smith Chapel who I expect will live with me, shall have his equal share as above defined of my Real Estate out of my homestead to be taken when he shall choose or select at its just and proportional value, According to its quality to twenty five dollars per acre including the whole farm, and the remainder of the home farm at its proportional value, and the land in Ohio at four dollars per acre to contain the shares of my sons Daniel, John, Seth and Richard as above expressed –

Provided however and on this condition that these my sons Daniel, John, Seth, Richard and Matthew Smith pay or cause to be paid the several sums hereinafter mentioned ~

To my Wife Sarah Chapel six dollars annually so

long as she remains my Widow ~

To Sarah Roberts in addition to what I have already

Given her the sum of sixty dollars

To Susannah Chapel including what I have already advan

ced her the sum of four hundred dollars ~

To my daughter Betsy Sage including what I have already

advanced to her the sum of four hundred dollars ~

To my daughter Grace Phillips including what I have already

given to her the sum of four hundred dollars ~

[p 249] To my daughter Ruth Sage including what I have already

advanced to her the sum of four hundred dollars ~

The sums above bequeathed to my said daughters to be paid from my household furniture at my decease so far as two thirds of the same will pay and the reminder of my household furniture to be received in payment by my said Daughters after my said Wife shall cease to be my Widow and the deficiency if any shall then be paid in money by my said sons ~

And likewise and provided also that said Daniel, John, Seth, Richard and Matthew Smith shall provide for the comfortable support and maintenance of my said Daughter Hannah Chapel if she lives to expend the property I have above given and bequeathed to her ~ And I nominate and appoint Benjamin Sheldon of Sandisfield Executor of this my Last Will and Testament

In Witness Whereof I Richard Chapel have to this my last Will & Testament set my hand and seal this ninth day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand Eight hundred and fifteen ~

Richard Chapel & seal

Signed Sealed & published by the above named Richard Chapel for his last Will and testament in presence of us who at his request and in his presence have hereunto subscribed our names as Witnesses ~ Jabez Bosworth Jr., Ezra Sacket, Aaron Picket

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Berkshire ss. By the Hon. William P. Walker, Eaq., Judge of the Probate

of Wills ? within and for the said County of Berkshire to all

SEAL unto whom these presents shall come Greeting

Know ye that at a court of Probate holden at Lenox within and for the County of Berkshire on the seventh day of June in the year of our Lord Eighteen and twenty five before me the sd Judge The Instrument hereunto annexed is presented as the last Will and Testament of Richard Chapel late of Sandisfield in the County of Berkshire deceased by Travis A. Phillips for Probate, Benjamin Sheldon the Executor therein named having declined the trust reposed in him ~ And Ezra Sacket one of the subscribing Witnesses to the same appearing made oath that he saw Richard Chapel the testator sign and seal and heard him publish and declare the same to be his last Will and Testament, that he appeared to be of lawful age, sound mind and disposing memory when he did it, and that he together with Jabez Bosworth, Jr and Aaron Picket who are absent all subscribed as Witnesses to the same at the same time in the presence of the said testator, and an order of motion having issued from this court which is now returned duly complied with. And it also appearing to the Court by satisfactory evidence that there is no objection to the Probate of the same ~ I do therefore by virtue of the power and authority to me given me in and by [p.250] the laws of the Commonwealth aforesaid, deem that the said Will is proved, and do approve and allow of the said instrument as the last Will and testament of the said Richard Chapel deceased. And I do commit the Executor thereof in all matters concerning the same and of the Estate of the said Richard Chapel whereof he died seized and possessed in said County unto Travis A. Phillips who is hereby appointed administrator with the will annexed on the Estate of said deceased well and faithfully to execute the same and to administer the Estate of the said deceased according thereto who accepts of the said trust and gives Bond as the law directs to render a full and perfect inventory of said Estate into the Probate office of said County upon oath within three months and also to render a just and true account of his proceedings thereon upon oath within one year from the date hereof. In testimony whereof I hereunto set my hand and seal of said Court ~ William P. Walker

At this same Court Power of administration of Richard Chapel late of Sandisfield in the County of Berkshire deceased is granted unto Travis A. Phillips of Colebrook in the State of Connecticut who gives Bond as the law denotes for the faithful discharge of his said trust as on file Sureties to Bond Silas Sage and Philemon Sage both of Sandisfield and Erastus Beach, Daniel Sears and William Wolcott are appointed to appraise and make an inventory of said Estate

NOTE: The above is the first probate file for Richard Chapel, including his will. I will post the remainder when I have transcribed it. Interesting things to note: This will was written in 1815, before Matthew Smith Chapel's children with Susannah were born. Richard treats Susannah as one of his daughters in the will. The other daughters-in-law are not so treated. Richard also states in the will that he assumes Matthew Smith Chapel will be living with him. Although the 1860 census lists Mathew Smith Chapel as a "pauper" in the county farm, as opposed to others who are classified as "insane," I am beginning to wonder if rather than being a cad he actually had mental problems. Anyone have any thoughts on the subject?

Thursday, July 17, 2008



All I ever knew about my paternal grandfather’s childhood was that he was born in County Tyrone, North Ireland, and immigrated to our shores as a teenager before Ellis Island was open. I thought he might be from Stewartstown. I had also been told that his father’s name was Richard and his mother’s Eliza Jane. I had early childhood memories of at least 2 brothers, Uncle Billy and Uncle Jack, and remembered that Uncle Billy had one child, my Cousin May. Aside from my grandfather who had 6 children, none of his other siblings left heirs. There were an unknown number of sisters; one story I heard was that they died young of cancer. I also heard that the mother returned to Ireland. Not much too go on!

To begin my quest into my Irish routes, I joined the Ulster Historical Society and purchased various how-to books on researching the North Irish. The Ulster website permitted various name checks, but no Ferrys turned up. After a year or two, I decided to hire a researcher through the Society, and buy a 5 year membership. I provided my limited information as set forth above, authorized the expenditure of 250 lbs sterling without further contacting me, and made a preliminary payment of 70 lbs.

Another couple of years passed with me making quarterly inquiries into the status of my report. Then my Aunt Jay died, the last survivor of her generation and my grandfather’s eldest child. Aunt Jay had always been interested in the family history and may have belonged to the DAR as did her mother. Consequently Aunt Jay had a fair amount of genealogical material. Her two sons gave these materials to me for safekeeping.

In the process of sorting through Aunt Jay’s papers, additional information came to light. It seems that my great-great- grandparents had come to this country before the Civil War with several small children, one of whom was my great-grandmother Eliza Jane Smith. The scraps of paper in the box given me by my cousins, mostly miscellaneous notes in Aunt Jay’s distinctive handwriting, indicated that this Eliza grew up in New York, and married and had a child. The husband and child died shortly after the marriage, and Eliza Jane returned to Ireland where she found and married Richard Ferry. After giving birth to half a dozen kids, she and her second husband returned to New York with their brood, where an unknown number of her siblings had remained.

By this time ancestry.com had procured databases with many more ships’ manifests than had previously been the case. First I search unsuccessfully for James Ferry, Richard Ferry, and the other brothers. No hits. I then tried just the surname, and up popped Mrs. E. Ferry. Following this lead, I discovered the entire family on the “State of Georgia” which had sailed from Glasgow, Scotland and Larnem, Ireland, arriving in New York on 23 May 1889 (National Archives, Washington, DC, micropublication M237, Roll 533, List No. 651, lines 25-32). This explained the theory I had heard set forth by Aunt Jay that Grandpa may have landed in Georgia. Georgia was the name of the ship, not the port of debarkation!

The names of the Ferry family on the “State of Georgia manifest matched what I knew of my grandfather’s family except that all ages appeared to be off by 2 years. I did not consider this unusual for the times. As my grandfather was born December 6, 1879, he was 9 years old upon debarkation in New York. According to the manifest he was 11. This would make it easier for him to get a job. I simply subtracted 2 years from the ages of all family members when entering them in my database.

Now that I knew the age of my great-grandmother, and that she had previously resided in the United States, I did another search for her under her maiden name, which I knew to be Smith. Fortune smiled upon me once again. I found a Smith family with children named similarly to those of my grandfather’s siblings. The mother and one daughter were both named Eliza Jane, with the daughter’s age matching that of the mother on The State of Georgia as I had adjusted said age. This Smith Family sailed on the Star of the West, which ship arrived in New York on 1 May 1863 from Liverpool ((National Archives, Washington, DC, micropublication M237, Rolls95-580, Manifest of “Star of the West,” filed District of New York, Port of New York, p. 6, lines 20-28).

By this time about three years had passed since I order and pre-paid for a search in North Ireland. As nothing whatsoever had been forthcoming, I wrote again with the additional information I had discovered on my home, hoping it might simplify and speed up the search. I hoped in vain; I got a return e-mail stating that the researcher had already discovered all this information. My five year membership expired, and I still had no report. Now I wrote monthly, each month being promised the report the next month. Like Annie sang about “tomorrow,” next month was not forthcoming. Another year passed, during which I did not renew my membership. I did, however, become increasingly pushy about wanting my report for which I had paid. Wasn’t six years long enough for the researcher?



Monday, July 14, 2008


I just returned from a week in Washington DC at the annual Continental Congress. What an awesome experience! For those of you unfamiliar with DAR functions, they are the best-run any meeting could possibly be. Everything is timed to precision, and all the work of the work sessions gets accomplished. Committee reports are not to exceed 2 minutes. At the 2 minute mark the President-General and two of her pages stand; the speaker knows to thank the President-General for the privilege to serve in her administration, and sits down. These business meetings generally took place in the morning or afternoon. The evenings were reserved for awards and other such events. Evening sessions start with an armed forces band playing for about half an hour until the procession. The procession starts of course with the American and DAR flags, brought in by pages. More pages follow, each with a flag for one of the 53 states and territories. Dignitaries and DAR national office holders follow, escorted by pages. Finally pairs of pages enter and line either side of the center aisle. Through this comes the President General. DAR rules permit a standing applause for her and her alone, unless the President of the United States is present. As she passes under the front of the hall, a huge American Flag comes out of the ceiling and flutters overhead. When she gets to the lecturn she strikes her gavel to bring the session to order and an interesting and fascinating evening ensues. The opening ritual consists of the invocation given by the Chaplain-General, the Pledge Allegiance to the Flag, the American's Creed, and the singing of the National Anthem. Various people named after the gavel is pounded lead each of these recitations. They have already located themselves at an unobtrusive place on the stage, but from which it is only a few steps to the podium to perform her duty. After this opening the President General announces that the doors will be open while the band leaves, and the chairs and mikes used by the band are quickly removed by the experienced staff. The doors are closed again and stay so for most of the evening, only opening for a few seconds when permission is granted by the President General. The Continental Hall is a huge building which holds in excess of 2,000 people, which was about the attendance on the first night. Each state is seated in prearranged sections. There are also state boxes where the State Regent, State Vice-Regent, and other invited guests sit. The boxes hold 5 seats. Primarily women are present, but there are some male guests and spouses. The women are all attired in evening gowns, the men in tuxedos. The best evening was National Defense Night. The keynote speaker was the Secretary of Defense. Awards were given to men and women alike with very impressive credentials in a variety of fields. The evening proceeds like a well-oiled machine, with all the pagaentry, pomp and circumstance of an English court. The pages on the stage assisting officers and other VIPs seated there are most unobtrusive. The schools night is another impressive event. Awards are given to the outstanding history teacher of the year, the good citizen, and other such. DAR totally supports some schools, and contributes to others. These schools are primarily in Appalachia, started a century ago, for poor mountain children who otherwise would not receive an education. Most are boarding schools, and many neglected and abused children now attend them. The pages remind me of Ladies in Waiting. They are members under the age of forty. To be a page at Continental Congress is a great honor. The pages all wear white evening gowns, and are there to direct traffic, pass notes, get water for those seated on stage, etc. The highest officers have personal pages. This is the most sought-after position. Two of the President General's pages sit behind her. They stand when she stands and sit when she sits. Another of her personal pages is available to take notes from her and carry out the instructions she has given. This description of the Congress only touches on the work done by the DAR. The two areas of greatest focus are schools, including literacy, scholarships, etc., and aid to our men and women in uniform. I sat next to a soldier at the National Defense luncheon who said he knew nothing of the DAR until he was seriously wounded in a hospital in Germany, and he was given "this"--with which he showed us his phone card with the DAR logo on it. He was nearly in tears telling us much it was appreciated by himself and his injured comrades. The phone cards are only one of the many ways in which the DAR supports our military personnel. Sitting in the hall listening to the days of two minute committee reports is a great way to learn more of the work inconspicuously performed for our country and its heritage by the DAR ladies. Unlike the sterotype I had in my head when I joined, it is not an organization of old ladies sitting around having tea. It is a vibrant group of dedicated women, many of whom are Junior members--under the age of 36. There has been a resurgence of membership in the last few years, particularly among young women. For anyone interested in more of the work of the DAR, the NS DAR website can me consulted. I believe it is DAR.org; if not, google NSDAR (NS is "National Society") I have not begun to do the Congress justice, but hopefully those of you who have never attended a Continental Congress get some idea of the flavor of it from this very brief description.