Thursday, November 18, 2010

The children of Ralph and Agnes (Baxter) Ecoff, my Gr Gr Grandparents

      The genes of the long and illustrious line of the Ecoff family were brought to the Holt line by Agnes Baxter Ecoff when she married John Childs, and whose daughter, Agnes Gertrude Childs, married Frank Raymond Holt in 1898 in Beaver, Pennsylvania.
       Ralph Ecoff and his wife Agnes Baxter migrated from Harmon County, Maryland to Borough Twp, Beaver County, Pennsylvania sometime in the 1830's. Their son, Ralph (9 Sep. 1818- 24 Jan 1855) was the first of the line to marry in Pennsylvania when he married Margaret Alaman (15 Jun 1822- 18 Apr 1854) on 9 Dec 1840, in Borough Twp., Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Ralph's and Margaret's first child appeared on the scene not quite 13 months later when they were blessed with the birth of their first son, Samuel, on the 29th of Dec 1841. Five more children were born at  fairly regular intervals, starting with  Asa b 28 Nov 1843, Rochester, PA; John Henry, b 14 Dec 1848, Rochester; Agnes Baxter, b 28 Jan 1848 - d 22 Jun 1930, Beaver, PA; Mary Crawford, b 12 Nov 1851, Rochester, PA; and Margaret Alaman, 15 Apr 1854, Rochester, PA.  Unfortunately, the children's mother, Margaret Alaman Ecoff, died three days later on 18 April, 1854, probably from complications during  the birth of her daughter, Margaret Alaman. As an interesting aside, at least to me, my oldest sister Miriam, who lived just two short months in 1921, is buried on the grave of her Gr Gr Grandmother, Margaret Alaman Ecoff.
     My Gr Grandfather, John Worrell Marshall Childs, married Agnes Baxter Ecoff, the oldest daughter of Ralph and Margaret Ecoff, and their daughter,  Agnes Gertrude Childs, married Frank R. Holt, who were the parents of my father, John, and my Uncle Frank.
      Ecoff males served in every American War from from the War of 1812 through WWll. One may have served in the Revolutionary War, however, I have not been successful in my search for the immigrant Ecoff. The name Ecoff is reasonably common, historically, in Germany, Norway and Sweden but our immigrant Ecoff's country of derivation and when he arrived in America is still a mystery, at least to me.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Joseph Leman/Lehman/Davis Update---DNA

          I want to bring you up-to-date on the attempts of my first cousin, Frank Davis, and myself to determine just whom Joseph Davis's father was. Joseph, you might recall, was the lineal ancestor, actually Grandfather, of my mother, Naomi (Davis) Holt. We know that Joseph's mother was an Irish lass named Agnus Leman.  (The name has been spelled several ways: Leman/Lehman, Leeman.)  She was born c1820 somewhere in the Emerald Isle.  We also know she had a son, Joseph, born c1840 who stated in the 1880 census that he was born in Pennsylvania. Where?  To date, no one knows. Nor does anyone know whom his father was.  My grandfather, Albert Hooker Davis, always said his grandmother's name was Agnus Lehman/Leman/Leeman.   He never mentioned a grandfather, and I never thought to ask.  
          Enter DNA testing. DNA testing requires a direct line male descendant in order to acquire the same DNA as Joseph's, which is exactly what Frank Davis, Joseph's Great Grandson, is. I am also a Great Grandson but through my mother so my DNA wouldn't get it done. When the results came in, low and behold, not Davis, nope, but Boyd.  Boyd???  Where the heck did that come from?  Joseph's father, obviously.  Or so we thought. The results were 36 markers exactly and 1 was not.  Bingo, 99.9% certain Joseph's father was a Boyd. Well, maybe.
          Months later, after searching for Boyds, another match came in.  This one with 37 markers right on, and  an absolutely perfect match, none of this minus 1 business. Perfect fit, but the name is Hamilton. Here we go again. The Boyd is a few generations back---probably. I have big questions about her pregnancy.   1) When did Agnus arrive in America, and was she pregnant when she arrived? I don't know. 2) Did she get pregnant in Ireland or America? I don't have a clue. If in America, where? Pennsylvania? I really don't know.  I need to know where and when she lived near a Hamilton in late 1839 to have a prayer of finding Joseph's father.
          I am assuming she became pregnant here in America. Ok then, where was she living in late 1839?  Where there any Hamiltons living close by? There is some question about Joseph's exact birth date since the 1840 census gives only male, head of household names, unless the female was the head of household.  In the 1850 census (when finally everyone is named) Agnus is living with her to-be husband, Samuel Davis, in Middlesex Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, and is listed as Agnus Leman, single, born in Ireland.  No Joseph in sight.  In fact he doesn't show up until the 1880 census living next door to his mother, Agnus and her husband, Samuel Davis in East Deer Twp, Allegheny County, PA.  As an interesting aside, in 1850 she is listed as Agnus, in 1860 and 1870, she is listed as Nancy and in 1880 she again is listed as Agnus. She died in 1881 and is buried as Nancy.
       By then, Joseph had married twice, first to a young lady whose name, (I think but have no proof) was Susan Potts, who died, possibly during the birth of Joseph's oldest daughter, Laura. He then married Sarah Ann Kennedy in 1869 and had four children by her.  Interestingly, in 1869, his Father-in-Law, William Kennedy, in his Bible, listed his name as Joseph Leeman (sp). In the 1880 census of East Deer Twp., Allegheny County, Pennsylvania he was calling himself Joseph Davis.
         I put all this in an earlier blog hoping to get a little help from an interested reader. I'm again calling for your help. The DNA data clearly establishes that his father's surname was Hamilton. The only thing I know to do is assume that Agnus got pregnant in Pennsylvania. The DNA Hamilton family whom Joseph matches have a long history of living in Pennsylvania.  Indeed, in Western Pennsylvania. 
           My guess is Joseph was an out-of-wedlock child, born in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, father ---- Hamilton, mother, Agnus Leman. He obviously was farmed out, possibly to relatives on either side, somewhere in Allegheny County in 1850 because he doesn't show up with her in the 1850 census when she is living with Samuel Davis.
         He married Sarah Ann Kennedy in 1869 and his first child in this second marriage was Martha Bell Elizabeth, born 23 October, 1870. She was followed by Amy Nancy, Anna Theresa and Hooker Albert aka Herbert Albert. The last two are  not mentioned in the Kennedy Bible.The birth information on his new family is listed in his Father in Law William Kennedy's Bible, and the 1880 census.   I doubt he lived very far from his mother at any time from his birth in 1840 or early 1841 until her death in 1881 in East Deer Twp. (or Tarentum) Allegheny County, Pennsyvania.
         Where oh where was he in 1850, 1860 and 1870? Leman immigrants from Ireland show up in Allegheny, Butler,and Armstrong Counties during those years. I really would like your help in finding our Hamilton relative.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Find-A-Grave--We dId

          Good morning everybody, I hope you had a good weekend.  We did. Genie signed us up with an interesting group called  So yesterday we responded to a request to "find a grave," actually two graves, both in one of the local cemeteries, Skull Valley Cemetery. 
We successfully photographed them with Genie's digital camera and sent them along to the "Find a Grave" folks. This morning there was a grateful "Thank You" in our email. You know, doing something for others benefits both parties.
          The Skull Valley Graveyard is a tiny little graveyard, I'd say maybe fifty or so graves at most,  with two recent burials and the oldest around 1900. As you might imagine, Skull Valley isn't a great big community. How did it get its name? Well, we are told when the first white folks, a couple of trappers, visited the area some time in the mid 1850's they found a lot of human skulls laying around. It is suspected that those skulls were all that remained of bodies left unburied after a battle between two rival Indian groups many years before. But no one really knows.
          Sometime after the Civil War, in the 1870's, people began to move into the area and it has been occupied ever since. Current population? Oh maybe fifty or so. The tiny village now boasts a post office, grocery store, one tiny, tiny restaurant, one pump service station and a small building occupied by the local Historical Society. Neat place.
          I just know you folks are all excited now about Skull Valley. As an interesting aside, last fall when Genie and I drove through the area on our way to Prescott, we saw a small Elk herd just outside of town with two really nice Bulls. That alone recommends the place to me.
          Okay, okay, I'll move on to other things. My next family blog should be ready to go either tomorrow or the next day if something doesn't come up, like photographing a grave somewhere in another tiny rural cemetery around here. Yes, we live in a tiny community out in the boonies ourselves and drive thirty miles to Prescott to do our shopping once a week. Fun huh? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
          I'd really like to hear from any of you that read my blog. It would help me a lot to know what you think and get your suggestions as to how I can make it better--write to me more often.  See ya tomorrow.  Bob

!!!!!!!!HAPPY SPOOKS DAY!!!!!!!!!

     When I was a kid--uh boy, here he goes again--Halloween had a dual meaning. Go out and knock down corn shocks, soap car windows, knock on doors and run. Or, dress up as a spook, dress up as a bum, or fairy, you name it. Then knock on doors with your goodies sack held out in front of you and delight at what the folks put in it. Nibble on it all the way around the neighborhood as you beg for more, then go home and compare to see who got the most and the best of the wonderful, usually sweet, goodies.

     When your old, dottery and grumpy like me, you try and remember the good times you had tearing down a neighbor's corn shocks, soaping his car windows, you name it, anything devilish. You tell anybody who will listen your funny stories, at least you think they're funny. They may have heard them all before, indeed if it is a family member, I'm sure they have heard it all before.

     You remember that you got lots and lots of goodies, some homemade, others store "boughten," but you didn't really mind just so you got something.