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.

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] Wikipedia, “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.

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Ancestral homelands of the Gallagher and Hannah-Virtue families in Ireland.

This interactive map shows the homelands and migration of the Gallagher and Hannah-Virtue families within Ireland in the years before they emigrated. Zoom in and then click on the pins to see a list of the ancestors living in each of these places and the vital events (b=birth, m=marriage, r=residence) occurring there.

Extra Credit: “Drive” around these townlands in Google Street View. Zoom in to a pin, and then drag the little yellow person onto the map at the base of the pin.

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 RootsIreland.ie 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, Durham 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 RootsIreland.ie 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.

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

Early Settlers—Sudbury, MA

In The History of Sudbury, Massachusetts, 1639-1889 [1] by Alfred Sereno Hudson, we find that our ancestors played a significant role in founding Sudbury. Among the approximately 130 early settlers, Hudson identifies eight of our ancestors heading families there. They came to America as part of the Great Migration of English Puritans to Massachusetts from 1620 to 1640.

According to Hudson [2], “From the town records we have compiled the following list of the early grantees or settlers, who went to Sudbury Plantation about 1638 or 1639 : —

Peter Noyse (Hampshire, England)
Walter Haine (Wiltshire, England)
John Haine (Wiltshire, England)
John Howe (Shropshire, England)
Edmond Rice (Suffolk, England)
John Stone (Suffolk, England)

“The following are names of persons who were at the settlement soon after it began : —

John Moore (Essex, England)
Thomas King (Dorset, England)

Another 11 listed there are cousins or relatives by marriage. Here is a list.

Map of the First Roads & House Lots in Sudbury, Drawn by J.S. Draper. [3]

Below are excerpts from [1] regarding their roles in the affairs of Sudbury.

  • Walter Haynes represented the town in the General Court of Massachusetts in 1641, 1644, 1648, and 1651, and was a selectman ten years.
  • John Howe served as a selectman of Sudbury in 1643.
  • Peter Noyes was a selectman eighteen years, and represented the town at the General Court in 1640, 1641, and 1650.
  • Edmund Rice was one of the committee appointed by the General Court, 4 Sep 1639, to apportion the land in Sudbury to the settlers. He served as selectman from 1639 to 1644, and was deputy to the General Court several successive years.
  • John Stone was an elder in the church, and in 1655 was town clerk.

We also learn there [4] that John Howe of the Wetherbee branch and Edmund Rice of the Watne branch had house-lots next door to each other in Sudbury, 327 years before the Wetherbee-Watne grandparents of MKS married. The map above reflects that John Howe probably sold his lot on The Street (left side of map on Mill Road) to either Griffin or Rice, and took the lot on The Plain (right side of map).

Hudson’s book provides short biographies for each of these first settlers.

John Haynes (1622-1697) and Dorothy Noyes (1627-1715) are 11th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

Walter Haynes (1583-1665) and Elizabeth Haynes (1586-1659) are 12th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

John Howe (1620-1680) and Mary Martha Jones (1618-1698) are 10th great-grandparents of MKS in the Wetherbee branch.

Thomas King (1600-1676) and Anne Collins (1608-1642) are 11th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

John Moore (1602-1674) and Elizabeth Rice (1612-1690) are 11th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

Peter Noyes (1590-1657) is 12th great-grandfather of MKS in the Watne branch. His wife Elizabeth (1594-1636) died before the family emigrated from England.

Edmund Rice (1594-1663) and Thomasine Frost (1600-1654) are 11th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

John Stone (1618-1683) and Anne Stone (1613- ) are 11th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

[1] The History of Sudbury, Massachusetts, 1638-1889, by Alfred Sereno Hudson, 1889.
[2] Reference [1], 26-27.
[3] Reference [1], map after 76.
[4] Reference [1], 74.

Marched on the Alarm of 19 Apr 1775

Minute Men Leaving the Home of Captain Isaac Davis, 19 April 1775, by Arthur Fuller Davis.

On this Patriots’ Day Weekend, we remember these family members that marched on the Alarm of 19 Apr 1775, the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

Acton, Massachusetts
Luther Blanchard **
Ezekiel Davis II
Isaac Davis *
Abner Hosmer *

Ashburnham, Massachusetts
Ephraim Wetherbee
Phineas Wetherbee II

Bolton, Massachusetts
John Whitcomb

Concord, Massachusetts
Amos Hosmer

Fitchburg, Massachusetts
Paul Wetherbee II

Harvard, Massachusetts
Jonathan Crouch II
Timothy Crouch
Oliver Mead I
Joseph Wetherbee I
Oliver Wetherbee
Abel Whitcomb I

Lancaster, Massachusetts
Asa Whitcomb

Leominster, Massachusetts
Nathaniel Chapman
Littleton, Massachusetts
Joseph Lawrence
Samuel Lawrence II
Thomas Lawrence
Daniel Whitcomb
Isaac Whitcomb
Jonathan Whitcomb V
Silas Whitcomb

Lunenburg, Massachusetts
Thomas Wetherbee I

Rutland, Massachusetts
Samuel Ames

Stow, Massachusetts
Nehemiah Batcheldor
Ephraim Taylor
Oliver Taylor I
Phineas Taylor II
Solomon Taylor
Joseph Wetherbee
Judah Wetherbee
Silas Wetherbee
Thomas Wetherbee II
Reuben Wetherby
William Whitcomb

Westford, Massachusetts
Calvin Blanchard

* shot and killed in action at Battle of Concord.
** wounded in action at Battle of Concord; died of wounds later.

The service records for each, most found in [2], are summarized in this report.

To learn more, read these excellent books:

All are in the Wetherbee branch, except Samuel Ames in the Watne Branch.

[1] Arthur Fuller Davis Gallery, Acton Memorial Library (painting).
[2] Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War, 1902. This 17 volume set is available on archive.org and openlibrary.org.

Photo Friday—Tonnes Helgesen

Tonnes Helgesen.

Tonnes was born on Tjørn farm, Bjerkreim, Rogaland County, Norway, and lived there his entire life. He married Kari Ivarsdatter Vasboe in abt. 1869.

He was the third son named Tonnes—two brothers of the same name died before his birth—Tonnes (1837-1837) and Tonnes (1839-1839).

Tonnes Helgesen Tjorn (1841-1916) is 3rd great-grandfather of MKS in the Watne branch.

[1] Ancestry.com member BASturm (photograph).

Photo Friday—Elizabeth Walker

Elizabeth Hannah Walker (1807-1888)

Meet Elizabeth Hannah, wife of Francis Walker III, and newly discovered (for us) daughter of Richard and Catherine (Walker) Hannah.

Until a few weeks ago, our family tree included six children of Richard and Catherine Hannah—Edward, John, Francis, Andrew, Isabella, and Richard. They all arrived in Manvers Township, Durham County, Canada West (now Ontario) from Ireland about 1848, and are “easily” followed through the Census of Canada for many decades after.

Una May Davey Porter provided us this tantalizing breadcrumb regarding the children of Richard and Catherine Hannah …

New information — Francis, Edward, John, and Richard had twin sisters Elizabeth Hannah and Mary Ann Hannah, besides another sister Sara.

Hannah – Adams Genealogy, 1848-Present, 1987, page 105.

The 5-second rule has SO expired on this 32-year-old breadcrumb.

During our research of the Hannah family, we identified several associated families of Walkers, Loves, Kerrs, and Virtues that removed with the Hannahs from Manvers Township westward to Holland Township, Grey County, Ontario; to Arran Township, Bruce County, Ontario; to Manitoulin Island, Ontario; westward through Canada or to Hannah, North Dakota. We even found a Francis Walker, married to an Elizabeth Hannah, but had been unable to determine their relationship to our Hannahs.

We also found many DNA matches of our family members with these Walker, Love, Kerr, and Virtue families, but have been unable to identify a most recent common ancestor (MRCA) shared with them that explains the shared DNA.

On 6 Jan of this year, we stumbled across a family tree belonging to kfwalker11 on ancestry.com containing an Elizabeth Hanna, wife of Francis Walker. What actually caught our eye is this tree contains actual sources for baptisms and marriages of their Walkers in Ireland, which is not often seen during our research of our Irish lines. The sources though refer to private research that was paid for by this Walker family with a genealogy research company in Ireland, so we were not immediately able to see the actual records.

We contacted kfwalker11, aka F. Walker, and have been blown away with what we received. F. Walker mailed us 69 pages of research into the Walker family including the research of L. Walker and K. Moore. This research connects their Elizabeth Hanna as the daughter of our Richard Hannah and Catherine Walker, and connects their Francis Walker to our Catherine Walker. Elizabeth’s husband Francis is Catherine’s 1st cousin.

Our Hannah family has long known its ancestors emigrated from Donegal, Ireland, to Canada. We now know from precisely where!

And we now know precisely where to keep digging—which led us to learn that Mary Jane Gallagher’s (Andrew Porter’s wife’s) family is from this same place in Ireland. So her mother Mary Walker is probably from this same Walker family—which is also supported by numerous DNA tests.

Thank you F. Walker, L. Walker, and K. Moore for generously sharing your Walker research with us!

Elizabeth Hannah (1807-1888) is daughter of Richard Hannah and Catherine Walker, and 5th great-aunt of MKS in the Watne branch.

Francis Walker III (1803-1871) is husband of Elizabeth Hannah, and 1st cousin of Catherine Walker.

Richard Hannah (1780-1874) and Catherine Walker (1784-1825) are 5th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

[1] Ancestry.com member kfwalker (research) and jazzysdad (photograph).

Photo Friday—Soo Line #X-17 Snow Plow

With a polar vortex bearing down on the U.S. midwest, these photos from Lucille Watne’s photo album seem appropriate.

This Jull type snow plow, Soo Line #X-17 (see the railroad reporting mark on the side of the railcar in the second photo), was operated by the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railway Company (M.St.P.&S.S.M.), also known as the Soo Line for the phonetic spelling of Sault. [2]

The Soo Line was a grain and timber products carrier operating in Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Montana, and providing U.S. connections for the Canadian Pacific Railway. [3]

Most rotary snow plows are of the Leslie type, featuring a large circular plow blade rotating on a shaft parallel to the tracks. The Jull type however has a large spiral screw rotating diagonally across the front of the plow. Both types were invented by and designed by Orange Jull, a Canadian inventor. Between 1890-1892, 11 of the Jull type were built, but all were eventually scrapped. [4]

The Railroads of Montana and the Pacific Northwest website has more photos and information about this very same Soo Line #X-17. [4]

That website refers to many postcards of #X-17 in circulation taken near Dooley, Montana, during the Feb 1916 blizzard. Lucille’s photos however appear to be original, not postcards. Her photos are not labeled with place or date. Perhaps the grain elevator in the first photo can be identified. Is this in Hannah, North Dakota?

[1] KMS Family Genealogy Digital Archive, Hannah Elva Lucille Porter Watne collection (photograph).
[2] Wikipedia, “Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad.”
[3] Soo Line Railroad Company: An Inventory of Its Company Records at the Minnesota Historical Society, Manuscripts Collection.
[4] Railways of Montana and the Pacific Northwest.

Early Settlers—Watertown, MA—William Shattuck

In our 26 Oct 2018 post, we met John Whitney, one of the founders of Watertown, Massachusetts. There is another family member among the founders—William Shattuck. [1]

Watertown was first settled in 1630, 10 years after the arrival of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Massachusetts.

William was born in England in 1621 or 1622. He likely arrived in America when he was a minor; when it is not known, but certainly no later than 1642 when he is listed as a proprietor in Watertown. [2, 3]

In 1642, he married Susanna, whose last name, birth date and place, and parents are not known. They are believed to have had 10 children. William was a weaver and farmer. [2, 3]

He purchased several parcels of land in the area including a one acre homestead; three acres of upland; a home, garden, and 30 acres situated on Common Hill; 25 acres upland; three acres of swamp; and 4 acres of meadowland. He also bought a farm at Stony Brook, near the present bounds of Weston, Massachusetts; four acres of meadow in Pond Meadow; and a house and farm. [2, 3]

William Shattuck’s son John and John Whitney’s granddaughter Ruth married on 20 Jun 1664, presumably in Watertown.

William’s will was written on 3 Aug 1672. He died 11 days later on 14 Aug in Watertown, at the age of 50. His will was proved on 29 Aug in Middlesex County, Massachusetts.

William Shattuck is interred in the Old Burying Place Cemetery in Watertown. John Whitney is also interred there. [4]

William Shattuck I (1661-1672) is 11th great-grandfather of MKS in the Watne branch.

John Whitney I (1588-1673) is 10th great-grandfather of MKS in the Wetherbee branch.

John Whitney I (1588-1673) is also 12th great-grandfather of MKS in the Watne branch.

[1] Founder’s Monument—Watertown, Massachusetts, Life From The Roots blog. The two photos above are from this website.
[2] Memorials of the Descendants of William Shattuck …, by Lemuel Shattuck, Dutton and Wentworth, 1855.
[3] Genealogies of the Families and Descendants of the Early Settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts …, by Henry Bond, N.E. Historic-Genealogical Society, 1860; Volume I, 427.
[4] FindAGrave, “Old Burying Place.”