17,350 and Counting

The early part of 2020 was devoted to finding Alpheus Adam’s maternal line using a combination of genetic genealogy and old-fashion research into the history of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada and the United States. And 2020 closes as we found possible parents for Andrew Porter Sr. in County Donegal, Ireland.

At the end of 2020, there were 17,350 family members in our family tree.

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.”