Photo Friday—Lars and Sophia Watne

Lars and Sophia Watne, Cooperstown, ND.

Lars Watne was born 19 Jul 1872, and baptized Lars Johan Villumsen in Høyland, Rogaland, Norway, on 1 Sep 1872.

As Villumsen is also his father Jonas Villumsen’s patronymic last name, his last name is a frozen patronymic name (a former patronymic name adopted as the last name). In the 1875 Norway Census, Lars is instead listed as Lars Johan Jonassen, using the patronymic last name. Upon arriving in the United States, he adopts Watne as his family name, based on his Norwegian farm name Vatne (rural residence Foss-Vatne).

Lars’ wife Sophia Helgeson was born 16 Jul 1877, and baptized 5 Aug 1877 in Birkrem parish, Helleland, Rogaland, Norway.

Sophia’s baptism record only lists her given name Sofie, with no last name listed. At the time of her birth, her family lived at the rural residence Tjørn, so her name at birth was likely Sofie Tønnesdatter Tjørn. In the United States, she adopts Helgesen as her family name, using her father Tønnes Helgesen Tjørn’s patronymic last name. She also went by the nickname Sophie.

She is listed in the 1891 Norway Census as Sofie Tønnesdatter Kjørren, using the patronymic last name Tønnesdatter and the farm name Kjørren.

The photographer George Von Blon, established the Von Blon Studio in Cooperstown in 1900. “… Von Blon is known to have practiced his trade upstairs in the two-story frame building on the east side of 9th Street, one-half block south of Burrell Avenue. The building is now [1982] known as the Lende building.” [1]

Perhaps a family member knows if this is a wedding portrait, which would date it about Dec 1904.

The portrait’s verso notation, handwritten, is:

Mr and Mrs. Lars Watne

Lars Johan Villumsen (1872-1948) is 2nd great-grandfather of MKS in the Watne branch.

Sofie Tønnesdatter Tjørn (1877-1963) is 2nd great-grandmother of MKS in the Watne branch.

Photographer: George Von Blon, Cooperstown, North Dakota.

[1] Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial, 181.

John Witherbee 1666 Court Testimony

Below is an image of the primary source [1] first placing John Wetherby I in Massachusetts, and also establishing his birth year as 1641 or 1642.

John Witherbee court testimony, 2 Oct 1666.

On 2 • 8 • 66 (2 Oct 1666), John Wetherby testifies in the Court of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, in the case of William Kerley vs. Thomas Rice & others. Wetherby (or Wetherbee) is spelled Witherbee in the transcript. October is the eighth month in the Julian calendar used in England and the British Colonies at the time.

In his testimony, John Wetherby states that he is “aged about 24 years,” so it is likely his birth date is before 2 Oct 1642, in either 1641 or 1642.

William Kerley is the Constable of Marlborough, Massachusetts. He files a complaint against Thomas Rice, Edward Rice, and Joseph Rice (three brothers), and Peter Bent claiming they failed to perform night watch duties for the town.

Apparently, John Wetherby was performing night watch one night with Thomas Rice, and John testifies about their encounter with the Constable, John Barnes, and Nathanial Johnson during that watch.

Although the events occur in Marlborough, it is interesting to note that most of the involved parties probably knew each other in Sudbury, Massachusetts, where most of them lived previously. Among the early settlers of Sudbury, we find William Kerley, Edmund Rice (father of Thomas, Edward, and Joseph), John Bent (grandfather of Peter Bent), and Solomon Johnson (possibly related to Nathaniel).

Note below the interesting coincidence regarding John Wetherby and Thomas Rice.

John Wetherby (1642-1711) is 9th great-grandfather of MKS in the Wetherbee branch.

Thomas Rice (1625-1681) is 10th great-grandfather of MKS in the Watne branch.

[1] FamilySearch; Colonial county court papers, 1648-1798; Folio 40; Middlesex County (Massachusetts), Clerk of Court; Family History Library Film 901001 / DGS 007902664.

Photo Friday—Kathy Wetherbee

Kathleen Lucille Watne (right) and her twin, abt. 1955.

Today is the 74th birthday of Kathy Wetherbee.

What is better than a birthday? Two birthdays on the same day. Twins!

Kathleen Lucille Watne (1945-2017) is grandmother of MKS in the Watne branch.

OTDIH—Victor Porter McKnight Killed in Action at the Battle of Normandy

On this day in history, 13 Sep 1944, Private First Class Victor Porter McKnight (1922-1944) was killed in action while serving with the 175th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division, U.S. Army at the Battle of Normandy in France.

Victor is the son of Thomas Leroy McKnight and Olive Margaret Porter McKnight. He was born on 13 Mar 1922 in Hannah, Cavalier County, North Dakota.

Porter-McKnight families at George and Ida Jane Porter’s house, 1939. Victor is the third person from the left in the back row, in the dark sweater with white buttons, his arm around the woman to his right.

He enlisted in the Army on 21 Dec 1942. The 175th Infantry Regiment trained in the United States until 5 Oct 1942 when it sailed to England on the ocean liner RMS Queen Elizabeth.

The 175th landed on the still unsecured Omaha Beach, Normandy, France beginning at 1230 hours on 7 Jun 1944, D plus 1. The 175th captured Isigny and Lison on 9 Jun, pushed the American lines to within three miles of Saint-Lô, and defended the high ground known as Hill 108 on 17 Jun.

From 25 Aug to 18 Sep, the 29th Infantry Division took part in the assault on Brest. It is possible Victor was there when he died. It has been difficult to find details of his service in France.

Victor was awarded the Purple Heart and the World War II Victory Medal.

The Brittany American Cemetery is located on the site of the temporary American St. James Cemetery, established on 4 Aug 1944 by the U.S. Third Army. It marks the point where the American forces made their breakthrough from the hedgerow country of Normandy into the plains of Brittany during the offensive around Avranches, France.

The 28 acre cemetery contains the remains of 4,505 of our war dead. The names of 500 of the missing are inscribed on a wall of the memorial terrace.

The sculpture Youth Triumphing Over Evil at the cemetery bears this inscription:

I have fought a good fight

I have finished my course

I have kept the faith

—2 Timothy IV, 7

PFC Victor Porter McKnight (1922-1944) is 2nd cousin 2x removed of MKS in the Watne branch.

Say Anything …

“Shall we never, never get rid of this Past?” cried he, keeping up the earnest tone of his preceding conversation. “It lies upon the Present like a giant’s dead body!”

—Holgrave, The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

OTDIH—Olympic Champion Ethel Hannah Catherwood

Ethel Catherwood, the “Saskatoon Lily”, 1928 Summer Olympics.

On this day in history, 5 Aug 1928, Ethel Hannah Catherwood won the gold medal for the high jump in the 1928 Summer Olympics.

Two years earlier, on 6 Sep 1926 at an event in Canada, Ethel had set the high jump world record of 1.58 meters. That record was broken on 3 Jul 1928 by the Dutch high jumper Lien Gisolf with a jump of 1.582 meters. [1]

On the final day of the 1928 Summer Olympics, Ethel set the new world record with her final jump of 1.595 meters. [1] With this jump, Ethel held the Canadian record for the next quarter century.

The Canadian high jumper Ethel Catherwood in action, 1928 Summer Olympics.

Ethel’s accomplishment is notable in several ways. The 1928 Summer Olympics was the first time women were allowed to participate at the Olympics. Hers was the first ever gold medal awarded to a female high jumper. And Ethel is still the only Canadian woman to win a gold medal in an individual track and field event at the Olympics.

The 1928 Canadian Olympic team heading off to forge their place in sports history. Ethel Catherwood is the tallest woman, center of photo.

Ethel was born on 28 Apr 1908 in Hannah, North Dakota, the daughter of Joseph Catherwood and Ethel Jane Hannah. The family moved to Scott, Battleford District, Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1910. One of nine children, Ethel was a natural athlete, playing baseball, basketball, and hockey. She began to high jump before she was ten years old, and was soon jumping heights rivaling the world’s best jumpers.

After the Olympics, Ethel returned to Saskatoon, Canada, an international sensation. However, she soon withdrew from public life after her private life was sensationalized by the press [2]. She married and moved to California, where she died in 1987.

Ethel was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame (1949), Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (1955), and the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame (1966).

Canada Postage Stamp, Sporting Heroes series, Ethel Catherwood, High Jump, 1928 Summer Olympics.

Ethel Hannah Catherwood (1908-1987) is 2nd cousin 3x removed of MKS in the Watne branch.

[1] Athletics at the 1928 Summer Olympics—Women’s high jump.
[2] Saskatoon Lily: record-breaker, scandal-maker.

Irish Ancestral Homelands of the Watne Branch

In our 1 Mar 2019 post introducing Elizabeth Hannah Walker, we teased that we now know where the Gallagher branch and Hannah-Virtue branch of our Watne branch lived in Ireland. It is time for the big reveal.

Ancestral homelands of the Gallagher and Hannah-Virtue families in Ireland.
Migration of the Gallagher and Hannah-Virtue families within Ireland and to Ontario.

Check out this interactive version of the map with each pin listing which ancestors lived there.

The Porter branch is still a mystery.

The Gallagher branch is from two places that are about 11 miles apart:

  • Derries Townland, Drumhome Parish, County Donegal, Ireland (before 1792)
  • Killymard Parish, County Donegal, Ireland (before 1789)

The Hannah-Virtue branch is from four places that are within 7 miles of each other:

  • Meenadreen Townland, Donegal Parish, County Donegal, Ireland (before 1803)
  • Kilgole Townland, Drumhome Parish, County Donegal, Ireland (before 1843)
  • Derries Townland, Drumhome Parish, County Donegal, Ireland (before 1785)
  • Tievebrack Townland, Drumhome Parish, County Donegal, Ireland (before 1797)

These townlands are very small. Their area in square miles varies from 0.20 for Kilgole Townland to 1.25 for Meenadreen Townland. Farms in Drumhome Parish at the time varied in size from 6 to 20 acres, or 0.01 to 0.03 square miles. When the Porter-Gallagher and Hannah-Virtue families reached North Dakota, they were each able to patent one or more lots of 160 acres.

Our recent progress on these branches is based on the Walker family research, which introduced us to the work of Donegal Ancestry Ltd. and the on-line database of Irish records. From these records, to date, we have identified 11 previously unknown ancestors, solved the mystery of our Hindman (Hyndman) DNA matches, and added over 120 baptism and marriage records to our family tree. And, most importantly, we know precisely where to visit in Ireland to walk in their footsteps. Thank you F. Walker for opening this door for us.

Starting from the marriage record for Francis Walker and Elizabeth Hannah, we learn:

  • They married on 17 Feb 1825 in Drumhome Parish, County Donegal, Ireland, and their denomination is Church of Ireland.
  • Francis was living in Derries Townland, Drumhome Parish.
  • Elizabeth was living in Tievebrack Townland, Drumhome Parish, which is immediately east of Derries Townland.
  • Unfortunately, this record does not identify their parents, or any sponsors/informants.

With these two places, Derries and Tievebrack Townlands, we started digging. Here are a few key things we found in the records:

  • Of the over 120 records found, all are for the Church of Ireland. This is consistent with these families listing their religion as Church of England in the 1851 Census of Canada.
  • Ellen Jane Hannah (listed as Jane Hanna), daughter of Francis Hannah and Catherine Virtue, was born on 31 May 1845, was baptized on 13 Jul 1845 in Drumhome Parish, and they were living in Kilgole Townland.
  • Catherine Walker, wife of Richard Hannah, is the daughter of Andrew Walker and Elizabeth Hindman, was baptized on 8 Jun 1788 in Drumhome Parish, and they were living in Derries Townland—the first explanation for our DNA matches to the Hindman family.
  • Mary Jane Gallagher (listed as Jane Gallagher), daughter of William Gallagher and Mary Walker, was baptized on 18 Nov 1832 in Drumhome Parish, and they were living in Derries Townland.
  • William Gallagher is the son of James Gallagher and Jane Maichlum (McCollum), was baptized on 1 Apr 1803 in Drumhome Parish, and they were living in Derries Townland.
  • Mary Walker, wife of William Gallagher, is the daughter of Francis Walker and Ann Hindman, was baptized on 26 Apr 1801 in Drumhome Parish, and they were living in Derries Townland—the second explanation for our DNA matches to the Hindman family.
  • Francis Walker (Gallagher branch) and Andrew Walker (Hannah-Virtue branch) are brothers or 1st cousins.
  • Ann Hindman (Gallagher branch) and Elizabeth Hindman (Hannah-Virtue branch) are sisters.

That means Mary Jane Gallagher and Ellen Jane Hannah are 2nd cousins 1x removed through both their Walker and Hindman lines.

From the records, it appears the William Gallagher-Mary Walker Gallagher family was living in Derries Townland, Drumhome Parish, when they then emigrated from Ireland to Manvers Township, Victoria County, Canada West (now Ontario) some time between Nov 1838 and 1842.

From the records, it appears the Francis Hannah-Catherine Virtue Hannah family was living in Kilgole Townland, Drumhome Parish, when they then emigrated from Ireland to Manvers Township between 13 Jul 1845 and early-1848. Their son Richard Hannah is said to have been born at sea on 12 Mar 1848, although his records list other places (e.g. Ireland, Canada) and later dates as well.

We can now understand how our Irish ancestors and relatives in the Watne branch came to emigrate from Ireland to Manvers Township. These families knew each other in Ireland—going back at least three generations.

We do not know why they emigrated. Note that the William Gallagher-Mary Walker Gallagher family emigrated three to seven years before the start of the Great Famine or Great Hunger of 1845-1849, known to us outside Ireland as the Irish Potato Famine. And the famine was most severe in the west and south of Ireland—these families lived in the north. There is more to learn.

A few comments about the records we found and the conclusions drawn from them are appropriate:

  • The on-line records show the transcription data, and not images of the original source documents. It is not possible for us to confirm the transcriptions at this time. Never mind whether the original source documents were recorded accurately as well.
  • It is rare (like never) to find all three of the birth/baptism, marriage, and burial/death records for an individual during this time period among these records. Only one burial/death record has been found.
  • The records available before 1848 are sparse in time—mostly birth/baptism records. The earliest record found so far is dated 1783. These families could have therefore resided in other townlands in between the available birth/baptism records of their children. The six places listed above may not be the only places they lived in Ireland during these generations, but we can assume they were nearby at least.

So, what are we looking for now? Well, more ancestors, including the family of Andrew Porter. And an explanation for family stories saying that some of these ancestors are Scottish. Perhaps we need to go back several more generations, prior to 1785, to find their ancestors emigrated from Scotland to Ireland.

Extra Credit: “Drive” around these townlands in Google Street View.

[Updated 14 Jul 2019]
All the event locations for Ireland in our family tree have now been updated to the form City or Townland, Civil Parish, County, Country.

So we can now properly differentiate between:

  • Donegal, Ireland—the county
  • Donegal, Donegal, Ireland—the civil parish
  • Donegal, Donegal, Donegal, Ireland—the townland
  • Donegal, Clonmel, Cork, Ireland—another townland in Ireland
  • Donegal, Knockgraffon, Tipperary, Ireland—yet another townland in Ireland

So the County Donegal heat map now shows everyone in their correct locations.