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.

Photo Friday—Susie Sumner

Susie Chapman Sumner (left) and KMS, Jul 1962.

This photo is one of several taken during a visit with Archie Williams Chapman, Susie Williams Sumner, and Marion Chapman Knight during Jul 1962. Archie and Susie are sisters. Marion is daughter of Archie.

Susie grew up in White Plains, Greene County, Georgia. She married Charles Sumner in May 1913, and they resided in Greenville, South Carolina. After his death in 1952, she resided in Charlotte, North Carolina. They had one daughter, Frances Catron Sumner Roland.

Archie June Williams (1890-1965) is 2nd great-grandmother of MKS in the Knight branch.

Susie Elizabeth Williams (1887-1974) is 3rd great-aunt of MKS in the Knight branch.

Marion Elizabeth Chapman (1971-1963) is great-grandmother of MKS in the Knight 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

Photo Friday—Charles and Sarah Clewett Tablet

Charles Felix Clewett and Sarah Churly Clewett tablet; West Norwood Cemetery and Crematorium; West Norwood, Lambeth, Greater London, England.

During a recent trip to London, L. Wetherbee went to the West Norwood Cemetery and Crematorium to visit the gravesite of Elizabeth Ann Clewett, 4th great-grandmother of MKS. Unfortunately, the gravesite does not appear to have a marker for her. There is, however, a marker for one of her twelve children—Charles Felix Clewett, and his wife Sarah Robina Churly Clewett.

The below record, found at the cemetery, lists the family members interred in Section 20, plot 14942:

  • Charles F. Clewett—son of Charles Felix and wife Sarah
  • James Clewett—son of Elizabeth Ann
  • Charles Felix Clewett—son of Elizabeth Ann
  • Elizabeth Ann Clewett
  • Sarah Clewett—wife of Charles Felix
Charles Felix Clewett plot entries; West Norwood Cemetery and Crematorium; Section 20, Plot 14942.

Charles Felix purchased the plot on 15 Aug 1874 upon the death of his child Charles F. at age 3.

This record helped us resolve the children of Edwin and Elizabeth Ann Clewett.

Baptism records list an Edwin and Elizabeth Clewett with four children—Margaret Ann, Mary Ann, Emily Ann, and Charles Felix—born between 1831 and 1837.

The 1851 and 1861 England Census list an Edwin and Elizabeth Clewett with eight children—Edwin, George, Elizabeth, James, Emma, Charlotte, Caroline, and John—born between 1840 and 1855.

Previously, we had not found anything to connect these two sets of records as being the same family. This cemetery record, listing Charles Felix and James, does that. And, it inspired us to dig deeper.

We then found three other records for further confirmation. Elizabeth P. is found living with sister Mary Ann in the 1861 England Census. Charles Felix and James have children baptized on the same day at the same church in 1873. George’s 1908 record in the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar, lists brother Charles Felix.

It appears some of the children worked as servants for other families—Mary Ann, age 17, in the 1851 England Census; Emma, age 13, in the 1861 England Census.

Interestingly, Margaret Ann and Mary Ann married brothers—Henry William Stanley and Robert Stanley, respectively. Of the twelve children, it appears only Mary Ann immigrated to the United States.

Edwin Clewett (1809-1858) and Elizabeth Ann Agg Wain (1809-1891) are 4th great-grandparents of MKS in the Wetherbee branch.

Charles Felix Clewett I (1837-1888) and James Clewett (1846-1875) are 4th great-uncles of MKS in the Wetherbee branch.

Sarah Robina Churly (1843-1895) is wife of Charles Felix Clewett I.

Charles Felix Clewett II (1871-1874) is son of Charles Felix Clewett I and Sarah Robina Churly, and 1st cousin 4x removed of MKS in the Wetherbee 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] 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 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, 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 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.

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.

An Act for Erecting a District in the County of Middlesex, by the Name of Boxborough

Whereas a Number of Inhabitants, living in the extreme Parts of the Towns of Stow, Harvard, and Littleton, labor under many Inconveniences by Reason of their great Distance from any Place of Public Worship, and have requested this Court that they may be incorporated into a District, with all the Privileges of a Town, that of sending a Representative to the General Court excepted:

Be it therefore enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the Authority of the same, That a Part of Stow, a Part of Harvard, and a Part of Littleton, all which are included within the Boundaries following, viz. : Beginning at the Road Southerly of John Robbins’ Buildings, and running Southerly to Acton Corner Three Miles and Ninety-two Rods, to a Heap of Stones ; from thence running Southerly in Acton Line, to a Place called Flag Hill, being two Miles, three Quarters and ten Rods, to a Heap of Stones ; from thence Westerly in Stow two Miles and a Quarter, to a Stake and Pillar of Stones in the Harvard Line ; then running Northerly through Part of Harvard, to a white Oak Tree, by a Causeway from thence to the Place first set out from, be and hereby is incorporated into a District, by the Name of Boxborough. And all the Polls and Estates that are included within the said Boundaries, shall belong to the said District, except those of such of the Inhabitants of that Part set off from Littleton, as shall not within the Term of twelve Months from the passing this Act, return their Names into the Office of the Secre- tary of this Commonwealth, signifying their Desire to become inhabitants of the said District.

And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That the said District be, and hereby is, invested with all the Powers, Privileges and Immunities, that Towns in this Commonwealth do or may enjoy (except the Privilege of sending a Representative to the General Court) and the Inhabitants of the said District shall have Liberty from Time to Time to join with the Town of Stow, in choosing a Representative, and shall be notified of the Time and Place of Election, in like Manner with the Inhabitants of the said Town of Stow, by a Warrant from the Selectmen of the said Town, directed to a Constable or Constables of the said District, requiring him or them to warn the Inhabitants to attend the Meeting at the Time and Place appointed : Which Warrant shall be seasonably returned by the said Constable or Constables ; and the Representative may be chosen indifferently from the said Town or District: The Pay or Allowance to be borne by the Town and District, in Proportion as they shall from Time to Time pay to the State Tax.

And be it further enacted, That Jonathan Wood, Esq ; of Stow, be, and he hereby is empowered to issue his Warrant, directed to some principal Inhabitant within the said District, requiring him to warn the Inhabitants of the said District, qualified to vote in Town Affairs, to assemble at some suitable Time and Place in the said District, to choose such Officers as Towns and Districts by Law are required to choose in the Month of March annually : Provided nevertheless, That the Inhabitants of the said District shall pay their proportionable Part of all such Town, County and State Taxes, as are already assessed by the said respective Towns from which they are taken, and their proportionable Part of all public Debts due from the said Towns ; and also provide for the Support of all the Poor who were Inhabitants within the said District before the passing of this Act, and shall be brought back for Maintenance hereafter.

And whereas it is ft and necessary, that the Whole of the said District should belong to one and the same County :

Be it therefore further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That that Part of the said District which is set off from the Town of Harvard, in the County of Worcester, shall be, and hereby is annexed and set to the County of Middlesex. And the Line established by this Act as the Boundary betwixt the said Town of Harvard and the said District, shall hereafter be the Boundary Line betwixt the said County of Middlesex and the said County of Worcester.

Passed February 25, 1783; Signed by Samuel Adams, president of the Senate, and John Hancock, Governor.

Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; Printed by Benjamin Edes and Sons, Printers to His Excellency the Governor, the Council and Senate of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; M,DCC,LXXXII (1782).

John Franklin Spratlin Funeral Notice

John Franklin Spratlin funeral notice, 9 Mar 1928.

John Franklin Spratlin, husband of Lucy Frances O’Kelley, died on 9 Mar 1928 in Barnett Shoals, Oconee County, Georgia, at the age of 46. According to his death certificate, he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage 10 days earlier on 28 Feb.

John was an electrical worker with the Georgia Power Company.

The relatives listed in the funeral notice are most of his siblings and children.

John Franklin Spratlin (1882-1928) is 2nd great-grandfather of MKS in the Spratlin branch.

Source: The Banner-Herald (Athens, Georgia), 9 Mar 1928, page 4 (newspaper funeral notice).

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], page 26-27.
[3] Reference [1], map after page 76.
[4] Reference [1], page 74.

Boxborough Minutemen Commemorative Musket Volley

Before marching to the 2019 Commemoration of the North Bridge Fight in Concord, the Boxborough Minutemen marched to the Old Burying Ground in Boxborough to read the names of the men from Boxborough District who marched on the alarm of 19 Apr 1775.

17 of the men read out are relatives. Thank you to the Boxborough Minutemen for honoring all that marched and keeping alive the story of that day.

Boxborough Minutemen, Patriots’ Day 2019.

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare,
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Hymn: Sung at the Completion of the Concord Monument, 19 Apr 1836, a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson.