Sunday, April 1, 2012

About My Blog Site

This blog is for the purpose of sharing information about my ancestors, which I've gathered from over 35 years of research. I have a heritage that is an American melting pot: Greek, Irish, French, English, Scottish, Dutch and several other European nationalities, plus some Native American. I'm endlessly fascinated with the combination of people who came together to make me, and I want to know as much as possible about them.

Many of my ancestors exist only as names and dates, but some have a story to tell, and for these individuals, I have written biographies. The bulk of the biographies come from three branches of my pedigree that trace back to 17th century North American colonies: New France, New England and New Netherlands. These people are fairly well-documented because many colonial records have survived. And since the people lived so long ago, they have a massive amount of descendants, some of whom have done extensive research on them. My New France and New Netherlands branches include some of the very first settlers there; my New England branch doesn't go back to the Mayflower, but has several people who sailed with the Winthrop Fleet in 1630. I feel lucky to be connected to so much history.

My biographies also include people who lived during the 18th,19th and 20th centuries. These people have a much smaller number of descendants because they're more recent, but at least a few people might benefit from my research. If nothing else, my blogs serve as a tribute to these ancestors.

Each post features the biography of one of my ancestors. I issue them in no particular order; I've made an index to help reference them. I hope that readers will get something out of my efforts. If anyone wants to offer information, or just to connect with me, please leave a comment. Thank you.

Ancestor Biography Index

Allyn, Matthew (1605-1670)
Ashley, Robert (~1615-1682)
Bartlett, Robert (?-1676)
Bartlett, Samuel (~1639-1712)
Bevan, Job (1793-1862)
Bevan, Maria (1820-1888)
Bishop, Edward (~1620-aft 1694)
Bogaert, Teunis Gysbertse (1625-1699)
Bolheres, James John (~1886-1941)
Boucher, Marin (~1589-1671)
Boynton, Joshua (1646-1736)
Boynton, Phebe (1750-1847)
Boynton, William (~1606-1686)
Brokaw, John (~1680-1740)
Brooks, Thomas (~1595-1667)
Broucard, Bourgon (~1645-1720)
Burrage, John (1616-1685)
Butler, Nicholas (~1595-1671)
Carpenter, William (1605-1659)
Carpenter, William (1631-1703)
Cheever, Ezekiel (1614-1708)
Chiasson dit Lavallee, Guyon (~1638-~1693)
Chouinard, Jacques (1663-1721)
Clap, Roger (1609-1691)
Clapp, Anne (1773-1802)
Clapp, Benjamin (1738-1815)
Clapp, Jonathan (1713-1782)
Clapp, Preserved (1643-1720)
Clifford, Mary (1798-1876)
Colburn, Edward (1618-1700)
Coleman, Hanora (1825-1890)
Dakin, Samuel (1700-1758)
Davis, Mary Jane (1834-1927)
Davis, Samuel (1798-1888)
Derehaugh, Anne (~1584-aft 1642)
Desportes, Hélène (1620-1675)
Desportes, Pierre (~1594-bef 1634)
Dixey, William (~1607-1690)
Dubois, Madeleine (~1640-1721)
Dumont, Peter Abraham (1734-1818)
Dumont, Sarah (1764-1846)
Dumont, Wallerand (?-1713)
Elwood, Hazel Laura (1901-1964)
Elwood, James William (1869-1925)
Fairbanks, Lydia (?-1704)
Fletcher, William (1622-1677)
Ford, Thomas (bef 1595-1676)
French, James Riddle (1810-1857)
French, John (1635-1712)
French, Nancy Sophia (1856-1916)
French, William (~1603-1681)
French, William (1713-1793)
Furlong, Eliza (1830-1912)
Furlong, Martin (1797-1889)
Gareman, Pierre (1604-1653)
Giroux, Toussaint (~1633-1715)
Hallé, Barbe (~1646-1696)
Hallé, Jean-Baptiste (~1607-1672)
Hegeman, Adrian (~1624-1672)
Hewes, Eleanor Mabel (1880-1942)
Hewes, George Henry (1853-1923)
Hill, Ralph (?-1663)
Holton, William (1610-1691)
Hughes, Charles W. (1819-bef 1864)
Jean, Pierre (~1645-~1626)
Kendall, Thomas (~1617-1681)
Kittredge, Abel (1798-1882)
Kittredge, Jane (1703-1779)
Kittredge, John (1630-1676)
Kittredge, John (1666-1714)
Kittredge, Joshua (1761-1834)
Kittredge, Sophia Newell (1824-1900)
La Brie, Louis Martin (1868-1911)
La Brie, Minnie Louise (1893-1950)
Labree, Francis (1828-1909)
Langlois, Françoise (~1599-bef 1635)
Langlois, Marguerite (~1599-1665)
Lewis, William (?-1683)
Littlefield, Edmund (1592-1661)
Littlefield, Francis (1619-1712)
Littlefield, Mary (1646-1719)
Luckey, Ellen Ann (1829-1882)
Luckey, Mary Edith (1854-1899)
Luckey, Samuel (1830-1884)
Lyman, John (1623-1690)
Lyman, Medad (1770-1813)
Lyman, Oliver (1739-1799)
Lyman, Richard (1580-1640)
Lyman, Sophia (1800-1838)
Margetts, Catharina (~1625-1690)
Margetts, Joseph (~1593-1675)
Martin, Abraham (~1589-1664)
Martin, Anne (1645-1717)
Martin, Joachim (~1636-1690)
Martin, Marie-Madeleine (~1642-1714)
Martin, Pierre (~1601-aft 1679)
McGuire, Julia A. (1871-1922)
McGuire, Patrick H. (1834-1882)
Minot, George (1594-1671)
Minot, James (1653-1735)
Minot, John (~1626-1669)
Mignault dit Labrie, Jean (~1665-1735)
Mitchell, Thomas Michael (1893-1980)
Morgan, Robert (~1601-1672)
Morin, Marie (~1646-1729)
Morin, Noël (~1609-1680)
Morin, Pierre (~1662-1741)
Morin dit Boucher, Pierre (~1634-~1690)
Newberry, Benjamin (~1624-1689)
Newberry, Thomas (~1594-~1636)
Nicolet, Jean (1598-1642)
Nicolet, Madeleine-Euphrosine (~1628-1689)
Norman, Richard (?-aft 1653)
Paine, Rebecca (~1618-1703)
Patten, Thomas (1636-1690)
Patten, William (?-1668)
Pepperell, William (1764-1841)
Pietersen, Laurens (?-aft 1663)
Plumb, John (1594-1648)
Pomeroy, Eltweed (1585-1673)
Pomeroy, Medad (1638-1716)
Probasco, Christoffel (~1649-?)
Probasco, Juriaen (?-~1664)
Quitel, Marthe (~1638-1722)
Rapelje, Joris Jansen (1604-1663)
Rapelje, Sarah Jorise (1625-1685)
Ratté, Jacques (~1630-1699)
Richardson, Ezekiel (~1602-1647)
Riddle, Gawn (~1700-1779)
Ross, James (1852-1882)
Ross, James S. (1803-1878)
Ross, John (1764-1808)
Ross, John (1829-after 1872)
Ross, Laura Ethol (1873-1917)
Rossignol, Jeanne (~1652-1712)
Sayles, John (~1594-~1645)
Sayles, Phoebe (1625-1666)
Soucy dit Lavigne, Jean (?-~1678)
Strong Jedediah (1637-1733)
Strong, John (~1610-1699)
Stryker, Jan (1615-bef 1697)
Thorndike, John (1603-1668)
Thorndike, Paul (~1642-~1698)
Toole, Mary (1846-1904)
Toole, Timothy (?-bef 1870)
Trico, Catalyntje Jeronimus (~1605-1689)
Turgeon, Charles (~1627-aft 1699)
Van Aersdalen, Jan Pauwelsz (~1600-1654)
Van Arsdalen, Alletta (1803-1886)
Van Arsdalen, Christoffel (~1696-~1772)
Van Arsdalen, Christopher (1760-1840)
Van Arsdalen, Jan (1676-1756)
Van Arsdalen, Simon (1627-1710)
Van Cleef, Jan Cornelissen (1628-aft 1698)
Van Middleswart, Jan Teunise (1654-aft 1723)
Van Schouw, Claes Cornelissen (1606-?)
Van Sutphen, Dirck Janse (~1645-1707)
Van Tuyl, Martha (1767-1853)
Verreau dit LeBourguigon, Barthélemy (~1631-1700)
Wheeler, Timothy (~1604-1687)
Woodford, Thomas (?-1667)
Woodward, Freedom (~1642-1681)
Woodward, Henry (~1601-1683)
Worcester, Samuel (1629-1681)
Worcester, William (~1601-1662)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Large Family and a Long Life – Phebe Boynton

B. 23 Nov 1750 in Coventry, Connecticut
M. about 1765 in (probably) Easthampton, Massachusetts
Husband: Benjamin Clapp
D. 30 Nov 1847 in Easthampton, Massachusetts

Phebe Boynton was born November 23, 1750 in Coventry, Connecticut to Joshua Boynton and Rachel Carpenter. Phebe was their first child and they had a second daughter Anne just before Joshua died in 1752. Phebe's mother married a second man, Ebenezer French, and they had nine children.

Phebe married Benjamin Clapp in about 1765 and they settled in Easthampton, Massachusetts. If this marriage date is accurate, she was just 14 or 15 years old; Benjamin would have been 26 or 27. They had 13 children born between 1768 and 1794.

The Clapps lived the rest of their lives in Easthampton. Benjamin served a short time in the American Revolution, but left to care for his sick father. Phebe also had two half-brothers who served in the revolution. Benjamin was said to have been mentally impaired late in his life and Phebe must have cared for him. He died on November 8, 1815. 

Phebe lived another 32 years as a widow. She was said to have “a very genial disposition” and she “retained activity, both of mind and soul, till the last year of her life.” On November 30, 1847, Phebe died at the age of 97. Many of her children had predeceased her and it is said that she had 70 grandchildren. She was said to have been the last survivor of the original 73 members of her church, which was founded in Easthampton in 1785.

1.  Rachel Clapp – B. 28 Feb 1768; D. 11 Jul 1868; M. Nathaniel Edwards, Jan 1800

2. Ocran Clapp – B. 27 Feb 1770; D. 16 Dec 1835; M. Sarah Lyman

3. Sophia Clapp – B. 9 Dec 1771, Easthampton, Massachusetts; D. 12 Sep 1840, Nelson, New Hampshire; M. Reverend Gad Newell (1764-1859)

4. Anne Clapp – B. 21 Nov 1773, Easthampton, Massachusetts; D. 13 Dec 1802, Charlotte, Vermont; M. Medad Lyman (1770-1813)

5. Clarissa Clapp – B. 22 Feb 1776; D. after 1864; M. Jonathan Lyman

6. Benjamin Clapp – B. 14 Nov 1778; D. 1 Apr 1821

7. Sally Clapp – B. 15 Nov 1780; D. 9 Jan 1844; M. Daniel Lyman, 31 Dec 1806

8. Solomon Clapp – B. 2 Sep 1782, Massachusetts; D. 25 Nov 1827, Easthampton, Massachusetts; M. Pauline Avery (1787-1864)

9. Spencer Clapp – B. 15 Aug 1784; M. Diana Phelps, 1 Jan 1805

10. Phebe Clapp – B. 6 Sep 1786, Southampton, Massachusetts; M. Levi Clapp (1784-1856)

11. Fanny Clapp – B. 24 Feb 1789; D. after 1864; Jared Clark, 5 Jan 1809

12. Caroline Clapp – B. 15 Oct 1791; D. after 1864; M. Milton Knight

13. George Clapp – B. 24 Apr 1794; D. 15 Jul 1825

The History of Easthampton: its settlement and growth, Payson W. Lyman, 1866
The Clapp Memorial: record of the Clapp family in America, Ebenezer Clapp, 1876
The American almanac and repository of useful knowledge, Charles Bowen, 1848
Tombstone inscriptions from Main Street Cemetery, Easthampton, Massachusetts
A History of Nelson, New Hampshire, Parke Hardy Struthers, 1968
The Lyman Family in America, Lyman Coleman, 1872

Monday, March 19, 2012

Giving Himself a New Name – Thomas Michael Mitchell

B. 7 Oct 1893 in Oswego, Kansas
M. (1) 11 Nov 1912 in Tacoma, Washington
Wife: Tillie Nack
M. (2) 11 Feb 1921 in Los Angeles, California
Wife: Hazel Laura Elwood
M. (3) 1943 in (probably) Los Angeles, California
Wife: Lillian Johnson
D. 10 Mar 1980 in Monterey Park, California

Thomas Michael Mitchell didn't start out life with the name Mitchell. He was born on October 7, 1893 in Oswego, Kansas to an unmarried 20-year-old woman named Laura Ross. He never knew his own father; his mother told him the man’s name was Thomas Carey and that he refused to marry her when she became pregnant. In 2017, DNA evidence proved that this man was Thomas Michael Carey (1864-1937), who would go on to own a fruit wholesaling business in Coffeyville. Carey married in 1895, and with his wife, he had four more children. None of them was ever told about their older half-brother.

Laura Ross also got married in 1895 — to a man named Howard Sheridan. Sheridan accepted Tom as his own son, and Tom took the name Sheridan. He would have seven younger half-brothers and one half-sister (two of the boys died as a babies). In 1900, the family left Kansas for Tacoma, Washington. During the years 1901-1905, they lived in the remote town of Lake Kapowsin, near Mt. Rainier. Tom's step-father worked for the railroad and their tiny house was next to the tracks that ran through the woods. After 1905, the family moved to several places in the Puget Sound area.

Tom with his half-brothers Forrest and Howard in about 1901

Tom completed his education when he graduated from the sixth grade. Between the years 1907-1915, he worked at various jobs all over the Northwest. He traveled as far north as Alaska, and as far south as Portland. One time he got into trouble at a lumber mill, threatening his boss after he fired him. Later, when the boss turned up murdered, Tom was arrested for it. A girl he was staying with came forward as an alibi and cleared his name. There was also a story that Tom had a brief career as a prizefighter during this time.

On November 11, 1912, Tom married a woman named Tillie Nack. The following summer, Tillie gave birth to a stillborn son, and she died in 1915. In 1916, Tom moved to Los Angeles with the Sheridan family. He found work as an ice cream maker. The following year, Tom's mother died in childbirth at age 43.

In 1918, Tom was drafted into the Army. He was due to be shipped to fight in the war in Europe, then he was delayed when he contracted the Spanish flu. Men died in hospital beds on both sides of him, but Tom recovered, and afterwards, he shipped out to France. The war ended before he got there, and he was sent back to the United States, to be stationed in Newport News, Virginia, where all the returning soldiers were arriving. This was where he spent the bulk of his service.

Tom in about 1918

One evening, Tom went with a friend named Tex Townsend to meet some girls in the restricted zone of town. On the way out, they got into a fight with some MPs. The next day they heard that one of the MPs had wound up dead and they were going to be arrested for it, so Tom and Tex left. They traveled first to Richmond, then Tex said he knew a lawyer in Washington D.C. When they met with the lawyer, he said they should keep running and change their names. Tom chose the name “Mitchell” more or less at random, although he had known of another serviceman named Mitchell who had been court martialed and given a huge prison sentence. After they went their separate ways, Tom never heard from Tex again.

Tom traveled first to Philadelphia where he took a job at a Woolworth's store, and on a whim stole $600. Then he got on a train to St. Louis. By January 1920, he was in Denver, and next he went to Salt Lake City, where he almost bumped into one of his superiors from the army at a dance. Finally he found himself in Caliente, Nevada. After a short time there, he made a deal with someone to trade his own train ticket to Salt Lake City for one to Los Angeles.

Arriving back in Los Angeles, he found that the Sheridans had left and there was no way of finding them. Tom took a job as a cook at the downtown YMCA. There he met his second wife Hazel Elwood, also working as a cook. After a brief courtship, they married in Los Angeles on February 11, 1921.

Tom and Hazel had a son Tom in 1922 and a daughter Patsy in 1924. Tom had wanted to name his boy "Michael," but Hazel chose Tom instead. Still, Tom liked to call his two children "Pat and Mike." In 1926, the family relocated to Oakland, where Hazel had a baby boy, born in September 1926.

Tom holding son Tom in 1922

In 1928, Tom and his family moved back to Los Angeles after a fire destroyed their Oakland house. They eventually settled in Tujunga where Hazel’s family owned property. In 1930, Tom opened a restaurant in Hollywood, but within a year, had an accident with his car that badly injured his knee. He was unable to drive and closed the restaurant, so Hazel became the breadwinner by taking a job as a cook. As a result, she moved on her own to Hollywood, and he stayed in Tujunga raising the kids. They never lived as a couple again.

During the 1930s, Tom became interested in nutrition. He used what he learned in books to help get his knee better. It was the Depression and hard to make ends meet. He kept chickens in the yard and to help feed the kids, he would kill them. For a time he made brandy from grapes growing wild in the neighborhood. He also made donuts which he had the kids sell door-to-door. In March 1934, Hazel had a fourth child, a baby girl.

By the late 1930s, Tom moved the family to the San Gabriel Valley, the area he would live for the rest of his life. He also settled into a career of cabinet making, a trade he first learned in 1923. In the early 1940s, he bought a storefront property on Garvey Boulevard and opened up a cabinet making shop. Behind the shop, he had a house to live in, and a second house that became used by other family members.

Tom in his cabinet making shop in 1953

In 1943, Tom got a divorce from Hazel and married his third wife, Lillian Johnson, whom he met at a dance. They had a daughter born in 1944 with a defective bile duct; she died at 6 months old. Then in 1946, they had a son named Dennis. He had physical problems that showed up later – dyslexia and epilepsy. Dennis was more or less disabled his entire life.

In about 1962, Tom moved one last time, to a house near his shop. He continued to work until he was 80 years old, when blindness from glaucoma forced him to stop. His free time was often spent reading; he surrounded himself with books in his house. He also continued to learn about eating healthy, taking vitamin supplements during the 1960s, way before it was common to do so. He wasn't a religious man, and didn't believe in God. “I believe in reality,” he told people. He liked watching Lawrence Welk and Liberace on television. He had a negative attitude towards war and the military from his experiences in World War I.

Tom in his backyard in 1974

By 1979, Tom was confined to his house, entertained mainly by books on tape from the Braille Institute. He had a little bronchial trouble, but besides blindness, was fairly healthy. One day Lillian told him she was taking him to the doctor for a routine visit, but when they arrived at their destination, he found he was being checked into a nursing hospital. She refused to let him come home again; his son Dennis and wife Judy moved into his house and disposed of all his things.

For the next four months, his health declined rapidly. He died in the nursing hospital on March 10, 1980, and was buried in Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier.

Children by Hazel Laura Elwood:
1. Thomas Milton Mitchell – B. 1 Jul 1922, Los Angeles, California; D. 10 Nov 2007, Winnetka, California; M. Margaret Elizabeth Bolheres (1922-2016), 2 Jul 1949, Pasadena, California

2. Patsy Eleanor Mitchell – B. 23 Feb 1924, Los Angeles, California; D. 27 Apr 2002, Sitka, Alaska; M. James Lawrence Sarvela (1914-1995), 27 Dec 1947, Glendale, California

3. Forrest Leroy Mitchell – B. 21 Sep 1926, Oakland, California; D. 30 Jun 2016, Desert Hot Springs, California; M. Patricia Ann McKenzie (1930-2010), 21 May 1948

Children by Lillian Myrtle Johnson:
1. Carolyn Lee Mitchell – B. 1 Jul 1944, Los Angeles, California; D. 11 Jan 1945, Los Angeles, California

2. Dennis Clark Mitchell – B. 4 Apr 1946, Los Angeles, California; D. 26 Mar 2005, Cheyenne, Wyoming; M. Judy A. Smith, 21 Jan 1973, Rosemead, California

Family Bible of Laura Sheridan
Marriage certificate of Thomas Sheridan and Tillie Nack, Tacoma, Washington, 11 Nov 1912
Marriage certificate of Thomas Mitchell and Hazel Elwood, Los Angeles, California, 11 Feb 1921
Divorce record of Thomas Mitchell and Hazel Mitchell, Los Angeles, 7 Jan 1943
City directories of Tacoma and Los Angeles, 1915-1938
1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 U.S. Censuses in Kansas, Washington, Colorado and California
Interviews of Thomas Michael Mitchell and Thomas Milton Mitchell, 1976-1997
California Birth Index, 1905-1995
Social Security Death Index
California, County Marriages, 1850-1952

Family Killed by the Plague – Simon Jansen Van Arsdalen

B. 1627 in Nukerke, East Flanders
M. (1) 26 Mar 1650 in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Wife: Marritje Baltus
M. (2) 1658 in (probably) Flatlands, New Netherlands
Wife: Pieterje Claese Van Schouw
D. October 1710 in Flatlands, New York
Emigrated: 1653

The common ancestor of the Van Arsdalen family in America was Simon Jansen Van Arsdalen. He was born in 1627 to Jan Pauwelsz Van Aersdaele and Geertje Phillipsdr Haelters in Nukerke, East Flanders (which is now Belgium). Simon was baptized on February 27, 1628. He was one of at least 5 children. The family left Nukerke around 1642, moving to Gouda in what is now the Netherlands; it's been said that they left because of religious persecution. 

Simon was the only one in his family to migrate to America. While the others stayed in Gouda in the Netherlands, he moved first to Amsterdam, becoming a potter. There on March 26, 1650, he married Marritje Baltus. In 1653, he left his wife and two young children to go to the colony of New Netherlands; it was to be a venture involving his pottery business. But when he got word that a plague struck Amsterdam in November 1655 which killed his wife and children, he decided to stay in America permanently.

He settled in Flatlands (now a part of Brooklyn). In 1658, he married Pieterje Claese Van Schouw. Between 1659 and 1678, they would have six children. Simon held many offices in Flatlands. In 1661, he was magistrate, in 1686 he was church deacon, and in 1687, he took the oath of allegiance. He owned a lot of property in what is now Brooklyn, and in 1700 sold several lots in Gravesend to his son Cornelis.

During his life in America, Simon maintained contact with family members back in Holland. On September 9, 1698, he wrote a letter to his brother and sister in Gouda:

"My kindest regards be written to my so much beloved brother and sister; I let you know I received your letter from Aendries Wandelaer and that I understand the contents of it, I am pleased to say, however, that the accident your daughter has met with causes us sorrow, however, it is the work of God, that we ought to bear patiently; farther I let you know, that I, your brother, and my wife and children are in good health yet thank God for His grace and we hope to learn from you the same in due time; I wonder you didn’t write about our niece; farther I let you know all my children are married and each of them is living in a farmhouse that earns their livelihood; I sold my farm to my eldest son Cornelis, 33 years of age, has got five children, three sons, two daughters; my son Jan, 22 years of age, has got two sons; my daughter Geertje has got eight children; Janneken has got five children; Mettegen has got three children; they are comfortably off but they have to work which God commanded Adam; as for me, I stopped working since I am 71 years old now, my wife is 58 years of age and you, my brother, are, if I remember rightly, 60 years of age; God be pleased to give us a blessed end; I am in receipt of your son Jan’s drawing which pleases me very much; I gather from your letter your daughter’s [?] causes you sorrow and I can well believe it and if I knew you would be pleased I would come to your assistance; please let me know; I do not know anything more to write; I will send this letter along with Pieter Berrij; he is our son Jan’s (nephew/cousin), who knows us very well; you can send your reply along with him; as for Dries Wandelaer: he is not acquainted with us and for this reason he cannot inform of us; God be with you and be saluted heartily by me, Sijmon Janson van Arsdalen, your brother"

Simon died in October 1710 and was buried in the churchyard of the Flatlands Reformed Dutch Church.

Children by Marritje Baltus:
1. Sylyntje Van Arsdalen – B. Feb 1651, Amsterdam, Netherlands; D. about Nov 1655, Amsterdam, Netherlands

2. Jan Symonsz Van Arsdalen – B. Nov 1652, Amsterdam, Netherlands; D. Nov 1655, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Children by Pieterje Claese Van Schouw:
1.  Geertje Van Arsdalen – B. about 1659, New Netherlands; D. about 1730; M. Cornelis Pieterse Wyckoff (~1660-~1730), 13 Oct 1678, New Utrecht, New York

2. Cornelis Van Arsdalen – B.1665, Flatlands, New York; D. 19 Apr 1745, New Jersey; M. (1) Tjelltje Rynierse Wizzelpenning; (2) Aeltje Kouwenhoven (1665-1689), 16 Mar 1687, Flatbush, New York; (3) Marretje Dirkse, 2 May 1691, Flatbush, New York

3. Jannetje Van Arsdalen – B. about 1667; D. Dec 1731; M. Gysbert Tunisen Bogaert (~1668-?), 16 Apr 1689, New York

4. Metje Van Arsdalen – B. 1670; M. Evert Janse Van Wickelen, 27 Feb 1690, Flatbush, New York

5. Jan Van Arsdalen – B. 1676, Flatlands, New York; D. 1756, Jamaica, New York; M. Lammertje Probasco (~1675-aft 1736), 1695

6. Maritje Van Arsdalen – B. 1678, Flatbush, New York

"Remembering Simon Jansze," Charles R. Vanorsdale, The Vanguard, Vol. VI, No. 1, July 2003
"Symon's Early New Netherland Days," Charles R. Vanorsdale, The Vanguard, Vol. I, No. 1, July 1998
"Sijmon's 1998 Letter," Charles R. Vanorsdale, The Vanguard, Vol. IV, No. 2, December 2001

First European Born in Canada – Hélène Desportes

B. 7 Jul 1620 in Quebec City, Quebec
M. 9 Jan 1640 in Quebec City, Quebec
Husband: Noël Morin
D. 24 Jun 1675 in Quebec City, Quebec

When the first settlers arrived in Quebec, among them were a few young women. The earliest birth to take place there was that of Hélène Desportes, born on July 7, 1620 to Pierre Desportes and Françoise Langlois. Hélène was named for her godmother, Hélène Boullé, the wife of Samuel de Champlain. It's believed that she had no siblings. When Champlain died in 1635, he left young Hélène 300 livres in his will, although since the will was overturned, she probably never received the money.

After Quebec was taken over by Englishman David Kirke in 1629, Hélène returned to France with her parents. They moved to the town of Dieppe in Normandy, and it seems that within five years, both of her parents died. Hélène returned to Quebec when the French reclaimed it and on October 1, 1634, married Joseph Guillaume Hébert at the age of 14. The marriage contract lists her aunt and uncle, Abraham Martin and Marguerite Langlois, as witnesses. Hélène's husband Joseph was the son of Louis Hébert, who had remained in Quebec during the English occupation. Hélène and Joseph had three children before he died in 1639.

On January 9, 1640, Hélène married Noël Morin, a wheelwright, in Quebec City. She received a dowry of 200 livres from her new husband. She herself owned a house which measured 24 by 18 feet "near the church of Notre-Dame, with 2 arpents of land near Mont-Carmel and a garden measuring 40 perches." Between 1641 and 1656, Hélène and Noël had 12 children. Hélène became a midwife in the colony, likely because she had so much experience with it herself.

Hélène died June 24, 1675 at age 55. Her husband Noël died five years later in 1680.

Famous descendants of Hélène Desportes include Céline Dion.

1. Agnes-Marie Morin – B. 21 Jan 1641, Quebec City, Quebec; D. 30 Aug 1687, Quebec City, Quebec; M. (1) Nicolas Gaudry dit Bourbonniere (1621-1669), 17 Nov 1653, Quebec City, Quebec; (2) Ignace dit Beaupre Bonhomme (1647-1711)

2. Germain Morin – B. 15 Jan 1642, Quebec City, Quebec; D. 20 Aug 1702, Hotel Dieu, Quebec

3. Louise Morin – B. 27 Apr 1643, Quebec City, Quebec; D. 28 Apr 1713, Quebec City, Quebec; M. Charles Cloutier (1629-1709), 20 Apr 1659, Quebec

4. Nicolas Morin – B. 26 Apr 1644, Quebec City, Quebec; D. 1667, Quebec City, Quebec

5. Jean-Baptiste Morin – B. 25 May 1645, Quebec City, Quebec; D. 12 Dec 1694, Quebec City, Quebec; M. Catherine Belleau (1639-?), 22 Nov 1667, Quebec City, Quebec

6. Marguerite Morin – B. 29 Sep 1646, Quebec City, Quebec; D. 17 Oct 1646, Quebec City, Quebec

7. Hélène Morin – B. 30 Sep 1647, Quebec City, Quebec; D. 20 May 1661

8. Marie Morin – B. 19 Mar 1649, Quebec City, Quebec; D. 8 Apr 1730, Quebec City, Quebec

9. Alphonse-Valcour Morin – B. 13 Dec 1650, Quebec City, Quebec; D. 30 Aug 1711, St-Thomas, Quebec; M. (1) Marie-Madeleine Normand (1651-1690), 10 Feb 1670, Quebec City, Quebec; (2) Angelique Destroismaisons (1670-1744), 1700

10. Noël Morin – B. 12 Oct 1652, Quebec City, Quebec; D. 1718, Quebec

11. Charles Morin – B. 30 Aug 1654, Quebec City, Quebec; D. 4 Oct 1671, Quebec City, Quebec

12. Marie-Madeleine Morin – B. 29 Dec 1656, Quebec City, Quebec; D. 22 Jul 1720, Quebec City, Quebec; M. Gilles Rageot (1642-1692), 29 May 1673, Quebec City, Quebec

A Point in History [website]
One-hundred French-Canadian Family Histories, Philip J. Moore, 1994
Our French-Canadian Ancestors, Gerard Lebel (translated by Thomas J. Laforest), 1990
 GeneaStar: Famous Family Tree and Genealogy [website]

Widow of a Minister – Sophia Newell Kittredge

B. 22 Nov 1824 in Nelson, New Hampshire
M. 7 Aug 1849 in Nelson, New Hampshire
Husband: Reverend James Riddle French
D. 22 Dec 1900 in Los Angeles, California

Sophia Newell Kittredge was born November 22, 1824 in Nelson, New Hampshire to Abel Kittredge and Sophia Lyman, their first child. Her middle name was in honor of her great-aunt, Sophia Clapp, who married Gad Newell; they had raised Sophia's mother from the time she was 13. Sophia had three younger brothers, Edward, Samuel Farrington and Charles, but Charles died young, and her mother, who had difficulty with child bearing, died soon after. Abel remarried his wife's sister Anne and gave Sophia three half-brothers: Minot, Henry and another Charles, who also died young.

When Sophia came of age, she was courted by a minister from Maine named James Riddle French. He was an older man and a widower with a young son. His letters to Sophia have been passed down in the family, and many told of the love they had for each other. In June of 1849, he wrote, "Twin spirit of my being, thy heart shall be my resting place through time, & thy caress sheds o’er my soul a perfect blessedness. I would not have it otherwise, nor live without thee, to love & soothe & bless. My heart expanding doth thy love receive, more valued than the world, or all the world can give."

Daguerreotype of Sophia in about 1850

Sophia and James were married in Nelson on August 7, 1849. The first few years of marriage were spent apart as he worked as a traveling preacher throughout New England. It wasn't until 1852 that he secured a steady position at a Congregational church in Portland, Maine. There she gave birth to son James in 1852. It's likely Sophia took an active role in helping her husband with his work, especially as he became sick with a chronic illness that affected his stamina. In about 1856, they moved to his hometown of Prospect, Maine. Reverend James grew weaker and weaker, but continued to preach, even as Sophia encouraged him to rest. At the end of that year, Sophia had a baby girl named Nancy.

Sophia nursed her husband through his final illness, and after he died on March 23, 1857, she wrote about it to her father: “What we so much feared has come upon us. My dearest earthly friend is ‘not,’ for God has taken him. His body now lies in the cold grave, his ransomed spirit is I trust singing the praises of redeeming love.…None but those who have been there can fully sympathize with me in this time of trial.…O, my dear parents, I am all alone with my fatherless children.… My health is very poor. I am very weak, feel afraid I shall have to give up and be sick.”

Sophia had this locket made containing real hair, either hers or her late husband's

Sophia stayed in Maine long enough to settle the affairs of her late husband in probate court, then took the children to her father in New Hampshire. Many women in her situation would look for another husband, but Sophia decided to support herself. Whether she felt too strongly about Reverend French to remarry, or was of an independent mind is not known. In about 1858, she moved to Dorchester, Massachusetts. There she attended school and afterwards found a job teaching in a boarding school. In 1861, Sophia kept a journal, writing about her life away from her children. "Thurs. eve. Stormy, snow and wind, right down-east snowstorm. Nothing special to-day; wrote a letter to Jamie [her son]. Have much to be thankful for, yet my rebellious heart is prone to look on the dark side of the scene, and long for 'forbidden fruit.' I yearn for my children, and the separation seems sometimes unbearable. O' for faith and patience."

A page from Sophia's journal

The journal covers a period of time when Sophia lost her job as teacher and tried to find other ways to earn a living. Most of her family had relocated to nearby Boston, including brothers Edward and Farrington, and her father and step-mother, who cared for James and Nancy. "Have taken a house in Dorchester, the rent is 300 dollars; have fitted it up for boarders. This is probably a risky experiment, but I feel that the providence of God has led me here. The subject has agitated for some time before. I made up my mind to take this step; several times I gave up the idea of going to housekeeping this season, then it would come up again, and after consulting with my brothers Edward and Farrington, I would come out and look at houses and hunt up the boarders. Finally it was thought best for me to make an attempt — to do something if I could." She struggled with the boarding house venture and could only find a handful of people to rent her rooms. By the end of the year, she turned to her brothers and a widows' fund at her church in order to have money to buy shoes for the children, who were now living with her.

Sophia during the 1860s in Boston

During the mid-1860s, Sophia settled in Boston, working as a city missionary helping the needy. She continued to work for the city missions all through the years her children grew up. During the early 1870’s, James left home, traveling throughout the West. For a time, he cut off correspondence with his mother and sister, and fell into some trouble that caused him to change his name to Frank Emerson. Daughter Nancy stayed close to her mother, and in 1879, married a man named George Hewes, a carriage builder and part-time preacher. The young couple took Sophia into their home, and she retired from the missionary work. Soon there were grandchildren in the household.

In 1882, son-in-law George decided to take the family away from New England and move to the Midwest. Sophia, who was 56, went with them. They moved to the small farming community of Le Mars, Iowa. It was a very difficult climate; a tornado struck their house in June 1885, moving it five feet off the foundation and forcing the family to take refuge in the flooded basement. Sophia notified son Frank, who was living in Los Angeles, and he wrote back suggesting they join him in California, offering to pay their way out, if only he could. Four years later, the family had the money to make the move, and Frank gave them advice on the best train fares, then arranged for their tickets through the Southern Pacific Railroad, where he worked.

In November 1889, Sophia, along with Nancy’s family, took a train to Los Angeles. She lived the rest of her life just south of downtown Los Angeles, a part of Nancy and George’s household. Once they got settled, George founded a church and settlement house to help the poor. It can only be speculated how much influence Sophia had on her son-in-law.

Throughout the 1890’s, Sophia continued to write letters, communicating with those relatives still on the east coast. In 1893, her brother Farrington wrote her from New England with news about the family. Farrington ended his letter with, “…my dear Sophia, don’t forget the loved ones in the old Bay State and remember we all think of you and love you just as much as we ever did if thousands of miles separate us from the vision of sight. Did we not all have the same dear father and mother, and how much our dear mother loved Minot and Henry’s mother, and did not our step-mother love us all? Yes my dear sister, think of us all here and pray that each one may so live that we can all meet with the loved ones who have gone before. As well as those to come after we have left this beautiful world for a better and brighter one…”

Sophia lived long enough to see the marriage of her oldest granddaughter, Eleanor, and the birth of her first two great-grandchildren, Mabel and George Elwood. She died of cancer on December 22, 1900 at the house she lived in with Nancy and George. She was buried in Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles.

1. James Riddle French, AKA Frank Emerson – B. 12 Oct 1852, Portland Maine; D. 13 Jun 1913, Los Angeles, California; M. Mrs. May Lynch (1850-?), 25 Aug 1878, San Bernardino, California

2. Nancy Sophia French – B. 21 Dec 1856, Stockton Springs, Maine; D. 12 Jul 1916, Berkeley, California; M. George Henry Hewes (1853-1923), 17 Jul 1879, Boston, Massachusetts

A History of Nelson, New Hampshire, Parke Hardy Struthers, 1968
The Kittredge Family in America, Mabel T. Kittredge, 1936
Family Bible of James and Sophia French
Letters of James Riddle French to Sophia (Kittredge) French 1849-1852
Letter from Sophia French to Abel Kittredge, 31 Mar 1857
1860, 1870, 1880 and 1900 U.S. Censuses, Massachusetts and California
Journal of Sophia Newell French, 1861
"The Wind's Work," The Evening Sentinel, Le Mars, Iowa, 16 Jun 1885
City Directories of Boston, Massachusetts, and Los Angeles, California, 1866-1900
Letters written by Frank Emerson (nee James French) to Sophia French, Los Angeles, California, 1885-1889
Death certificate of Sophia Newell French, Los Angeles, California, 22 Dec 1900
Death certificate of Frank Emerson, 16 Jun 1913, Los Angeles, California
Death certificate of Nancy Hewes, July 1916, Berkeley, California
Marriage certificate of George Hewes and Nancy French, 21 Jul 1879, Boston, Massachusetts