Say Anything …

By a curious quirk of human nature, rather than Mother Nature, every American family of the surname Washington is related to George, all Adamses are of the family of John Quincy, and all Jeffersons are cousins of Thomas—at least as far as family traditions are concerned.

—Elizabeth Shown Mills, C.G., F.A.S.G.

Twenty-Fourth Census of the United States

Stanley G. Wetherbee, 1910 United States Federal Census enumerator, Fairmount Township, Richland County, North Dakota.

Beginning today, households across the United States will receive U.S. Census Bureau mail detailing how to respond to the 2020 Census—the 24th Census of the United States.

To mark this important occasion, we jump back to 15 Apr 1910—the beginning of the 13th Census of the United States. Our Stanley Wetherbee served as the enumerator for Fairmount Township (pop. 320), Fairmount Village (pop. 387), and LaMars Township (pop. 287), Richland County, North Dakota.

In 1910, enumerators were hired through the civil service system after a prolonged disagreement between Congress (favoring patronage positions) and President Theodore Roosevelt (favoring civil service positions).

Stanley visited households in Fairmount Township from 18 Apr to 25 Apr, Fairmount Village from 26 Apr to 3 May, and LaMars Township from 4 May to 7 May. He may have taken 24 Apr off. So he enumerated 994 persons over 19 days, about 52 persons per day.

Stanley appears to have made one mistake though. He seems to have forgotten to visit his own family. In 1910, Stanley was likely still living with his parents Homer and Florence Wetherbee, and his four younger brothers. We have looked high and low, far and wide—there is no Homer Wetherbee family in the 1910 US Census. So North Dakota’s population was not 577,056, but instead 577,063.

Under the 72-year rule, the National Archives and Records Administration will release the original 2020 US Census returns to the public in 2092. Until then, only statistical reports that do not identify individuals will be released. Genealogists will have to wait.


Stanley George Wetherbee (1890–1971) is 2nd great-uncle of MKS in the Wetherbee branch.

Facts and Events—Levels of Confidence

As our genealogy skills have developed, particularly over the last year, we are more often documenting our level of confidence in the facts and events we add to our family tree, or discuss in our posts here or in other documents we author.

There are many terms we could use to express our level of confidence, and many schemes to rank these terms relative to each other. No point in reinventing the wheel, though.

After purchasing a copy of Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence Explained [1], we chose to adopt the hierarchy of terms presented there in Section 1.6 Levels of Confidence.


Certainly: The author has no reasonable doubt about the assertion, based upon sound research and good evidence.

Probably: The author feels the assertion is more likely than not, based upon sound research and good evidence.

Likely: The author feels some evidence supports the assertion, but the assertion is far from proved.

Possibly: The author feels the odds weight at least slightly in favor of the assertion.

Apparently: The author has formed an impression or presumption, typically based upon common experience, but has not tested the matter.

Perhaps: The author suggests that an idea is plausible, although it remains to be tested.


Being more mathematically and visually inclined, here is how we tend to apply these terms in our own use.

We usually keep possibly and apparently to ourselves until we have done a little more research.

When we estimate an individual’s birth year, based on a parent’s, spouse’s, or child’s birth year, we indicate this with, for example, “Estimate, based on her mother’s Birth.”

We assume the mother is 3 years younger than the father, and the mother is 22, 31, and 40 years old at the birth of their first, middle, and last child. These average ages were found in a reference that we unfortunately failed to record at the time. The reference though was for 1600–1900 America when the economy was largely agriculture-based.

And, if we copy something from someone else’s tree to preserve it until we have time to look at it, we now attach a source entitled “(copied from the internet; no source provided)”—copy these at your own risk!


References:
[1] Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained, Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, Third Edition, Revised (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2017), 19-20.

Early Settlers—Watertown, MA

A Map of the Original Allotments of Land and the Ancient Topography of Watertown Proper, compiled and drawn by Henry Bond, M.D.

This map of Watertown, Massachusetts, was brought to our attention in an email newsletter from the New England Historic Genealogical Society. The map shows the original allotments of land for Watertown, first settled in 1630.

In two previous posts, we learned about two of our early settlers of Watertown—John Whitney I and William Shattuck I. But we have more!

On this map, we find the original allotments of land for several of our ancestor families:

  • Kimball
  • Reynolds
  • Sawtel [Sawtell]
  • Shattuck
  • Tarball [Tarbell]
  • Whitney

To the lower left, we find Whitney’s Hill.

The family name How appears on several of the lots, perhaps related to our Howes of Sudbury and Marlborough, Massachusetts, although none of our Howes are known to have been in Watertown.


Richard Kimball (1596–1675) and Ursula Scott (1597–1661) are 11th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

Jonathan Sawtell (1639–1690) and Mary Tarbell (1645–1676) are 9th great-grandparents of MKS in the Wetherbee branch.

Richard Sawtell (1611–1694) and Elizabeth Pople (1611–1694) are 10th great-grandparents of MKS in the Wetherbee branch.

William Shattuck I (1661–1672) and Susanna NN (1620–1686) are 11th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

John Whitney I (1588–1673) and Eleanor NN (Whitney) (1599–1659) are 10th great-grandparents of MKS in the Wetherbee branch, and 12th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

John Whitney II (1621–1692) and Ruth Reynolds (1623–1662) are 11th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.


[Updated 28 Apr 2020] Removed unsourced last name, Arnold, for Eleanor NN (Whitney).


References:
[1] Digital Commonwealth, Massachusetts Collections Online (photograph).

Photo Friday—Pvt. James Merritt Wetherbee

Pvt. James Merritt Wetherbee, Company D, 83rd Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, abt. 1863.

This carte de visite photo was featured in Photo Sleuth in the spring 2017 edition of Military Images magazine [1].

On 21 Aug 1862, James Merritt Wetherbee joined the 83rd Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and served through the remainder of the Civil War.

During 1863, his regiment held Fort Donelson in Tennessee. [2]

According to Frederick Gaede [2], the “83rd was heavily engaged on February 3, 1863 at Fort Donelson, where it repulsed an attack by 8,000 Confederate troops under Joseph Wheeler and Nathan Bedford Forrest. During the engagement, known as the Battle of Dover, the regimental loss was 13 killed and 51 wounded. Soon thereafter, certainly by July, a number of the regiment were detached and ‘transferred to mounted Infantry to hunt guerrillas in 1863.’ It was reported in the Nashville Daily Union (Jan 1865) that Sergeant Brady of Wetherbee’s company and several other members of the 83rd captured Jake Sly and several companions who were ‘noted guerrillas.’”

The Photo Sleuth article describes Gaede’s identification of James’ weapons in the photo as a Merrill carbine and Starr revolver. Further, he says these weapons were primarily used by Union cavalry regiments, instead of infantry. [2] This suggests James was transferred to this mounted Infantry unit along with SGT Brady to hunt guerrillas.

“During the year 1864 the regiment had some 200 miles of communications to guard, as well as heavy patrol duty, and during the winter of 1864–65 it was on provost duty at Nashville, Tennessee.” [1]

He was discharged at the end of the war, on 5 Jul 1865, in Chicago.

James was born in Royalton, Niagara County, New York, the son of Ira Jay Wetherbee and Lydia Manchester. He removed to Illinois by 1857. After the Civil War, he removed to Fayette County, Iowa, by 1877, and to Palouse, Whitman County, Washington, by 1920. He was a farmer, and later a grain mercant/dealer.

He was married three times, his first two wives dying before the ages of 28 and 39 respectively. We have confirmed he had five children with his first wife Louisa Johnson, and six children with his third wife Catherine Maria Roberts.

According to the photo inscription, the photo was given to his first daughter, Ellen Rexaville Wetherbee.


James Merritt Wetherbee (1831-1920) is 3rd great-grandson of John Witherby II (1677-1720), and 4th cousin 5x removed of MKS in the Wetherbee branch.

References:
[1] Kurt Luther, Photo Sleuth—Merrill Carbine Leads to a Soldier’s Identification, Military Images, spring 2017.
[2] Wikipedia, “83rd Illinois Infantry Regiment.”

Jazaniah Howe’s Jun 1783 Honorable Discharge

This document, for sale by Bauman Rare Books, showed up in our email inbox recently. The name How [Howe] caught our eye.

The history lesson is free. The document is not!

(AMERICAN REVOLUTION) WASHINGTON, George. Document signed. Newburgh, New York: June 11, 1783. Folio, original ivory printed document (measures 8 by 13-1/2 inches) printed on both sides and finish by hand on the recto. WITH: two pay vouchers, each 6-1/2 by 8 inches, printed on recto and finished by hand.

A fine example of a soldier’s discharge, boldly signed “G. Washington,” issued from his headquarters in June, 1783, near the end of the Revolutionary War, instructing that one “Jazaniah How, Sergeant” of the Invalid Corps, having served for six years and one month, is hereby discharged. It is said that Washington insisted on personally signing soldiers’ discharges at the end of the war, wanting to display his appreciation for the sacrifices they made.

This rare June 11, 1783, official document, signed by Washington at his headquarters, comes just three months before the Treaty of Paris would officially end the American Revolutionary War. While the American victory at Yorktown in late 1781 had dealt a mortal blow to the British and effectively ended their offensive operations on the continent, the British still had 30,000 garrison troops occupying New York City, Charleston, and Savannah. Washington remained skeptical of British intentions and was wary of his army easing its guard. “He didn’t know that on November 30, 1782 a preliminary peace treaty had been signed… As another icy winter loomed, Washington sensed deep discontent roiling his troops” and vowed to keep a watchful eye on his men (Chernow, 430). “With little fighting to do… only the hand of Washington kept the army from another revolution” (Clark, 11).

This document also speaks to the Continental Congress’s June 1777 creation of an Invalid Corps, after the terrible losses at the Battle of Long Island. “They suffered overwhelming odds when the tally of losses was taken—records, though not exact in verification even up to this day, show that at least 1,100 were taken prisoner and approximately 300 were killed and 650 wounded. It was considered a great loss for that time when taking into account the number of combatants involved. Faced with this great loss, Gen. George Washington was more than determined to face the task of saving his remaining troops and this, fortunately, he was able to accomplish later. At that time, the idea of forming a different class of regiment occurred — soon to be known as the ‘Invalid Corps.’ This idea, it seems, grew out of discussions and decisions which had been initiated concerning the number of disabilities and the problem of allowances and status of pensions after the battle. So many losses were precipitated during the Battle of Long Island — losses of arms and legs and other body parts — that something had to be done to alleviate the severity of the problems that arose. The plan that was devised was to help the Continental soldiers willing to enter battle, even at the risk of their own lives, and this was to offer what was to be the first American ‘pension plan.’ What Congress decided was to grant half-pay to the wounded and disabled, but also put forth the following caveat, that all such officers and soldiers who were found capable of doing guard or garrison duty should be formed into a ‘Corps of Invalids’ and ‘subject into the said duty'” (Joan Brown Wettingfeld).

Countersigned by J. Trumbull and Jonathan Pugh, the regiment’s adjutant. At the bottom of the document is the declaration that “The above Jazaniah How has been honored with the Badge of Merit for six Years faithful Service,” signed by Lewis Nicola, who founded the Invalid Corps. Accompanying this discharge are two pay vouchers for How, each signed by Eleazer Wales and dated July 25, 1783, one recording the payment of “Sixteen pounds, six shillings and one penny” and the other “Thirty-seven pounds and six shillings”; Jazaniah How signed each document with an “X,” noted as “his mark.”

Bauman Rare Books

Jazaniah Howe (1737-1816) is 3rd cousin 8x removed of MKS in the Wetherbee branch.

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.

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