Finding Mary Simmons & Her Ancestors, Part Three

In Parts One and Two, we found we found the wife of Leaming Hawkins Bradley and mother of Sherman Abernethy Bradley to be Mary Simmons of the Town of Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut. We estimated her birth year as 1811 or 1812 and then found that her father very likely was Job Simmons who lived in the Town of Litchfield.

Who Job’s Wife and Mary’s Mother?

If Job was Mary’s father, who was her mother? Unlike most of the Simmons families who moved west from northwest Connecticut into New York in the early 1800s, Job remained in the Town of Litchfield until his death in 1855. Thus, he was enumerated in the 1850 Census as Job Simmons, age 71, a farmer, with his wife Arsena Simmons, 67, both born in Connecticut. They lived in or near the village of Milton in the Town of Litchfield, west of the village of Litchfield and north of the village of Bantam or Bradleyville. [See map for all three villages.]

In 1834, Job Simmons had purchased a 1/8th share of the Simmons Forge located near Milton. Two previous Simmons individuals owning the iron works there were John and Solomon, mentioned in Part Two. Others who owned part of the Simmons Forge at one time or another were Eri Grannis, Guerdon Grannis and Thomas Grannis as well as Chauncey Dennison.

Arsena Simmons was recorded with other variations for her first name. She and Job are buried at the Headquarters Cemetery just south of Milton. There they are recorded on gravestones as Job Simmons, died 20 June 1855, age 76, and Arseneth, consort of Job Simmons, died Feb. 23, 1869, age 86. A consort is a wife.

They can be found in the book Litchfield and Morris Inscriptions and also on FindaGrave with a memorial for Job Simmons and another memorial for Arseneth Simmons. When Fanny B. Simmons died on 25 June 1818 at age 4 years 4 months, her parents were shown as Job and Arcena Simmons. Fanny too is buried in the Headquarters Cemetery. [Note: some sources say she was 7 years 4 months old at death.]

With is no indication that Job Simmons married more than once, it is likely that Arsena or Arseneth is the mother of Mary Simmons while Fanny B. Simmons is her sister. The book History of the Simmons family: from Moses Simmons, 1st, (Moyses Symonson) ship “Fortune” 1621 to and including the eleventh generation lists just one child, the daughter Fanny B. Simmons, likely because she is buried with her parents and official birth records were missing. Some family trees also list a daughter named Caroline, born in 1804.

Key Piece of Evidence

While I believed my theory about the parents of Mary Simmons was a sound one, I really wanted another source for confirmation. That came in the form of a mortuary notice at the time of her death.

On 14 Sep 1854, the Litchfield Republican newspaper carried this very brief notice: “In Chicago, Ill., July 18th, Mary, wife of Leaming H. Bradley, and daughter of Job Simmons of Milton.” Here, in less than 20 words, was confirmation that the Mary Simmons who married Leaming H. Bradley was indeed the daughter of Job Simmons who lived in Milton, Town of Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut. Arsena or Arsenth Simmons must have been her mother.

With these multiple sources, I had confimed the parents of one of my third-great-grandmothers on my father’s side. The next challenge would be to try to find more about Mary’s Simmons ancestors. We’ll take that up in Part Four.

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Published in: on October 29, 2011 at 11:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Finding Mary Simmons & Her Ancestors, Part One

I thought it would be impossible to find the parents of the Mary Simmons who married Leaming Hawkins Bradley in 1830 in Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut. Right after the Revolutionary War, there were several Simmons families in that county. Fortunately, I was wrong. The saga of finding Mary and her ancestors offers several helpful genealogy research lessons.

First discoveries about Mary
When Leaming and Mary’s son Sherman Abernethy Bradley married Hannah M. Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on 6 January 1859, the person taking down Sherman’s parents failed to get Mary’s maiden name. They were recorded as Leman H. Bradley and Mary C. Bradley. So that was my first brickwall concerning Mary: no maiden name.

As an aside, Leaming is a surname turned into a given name, and it is misspelled in many different ways including Leman, Leming, Leyming and more. Leaming Hawkins Bradley apparently insisted that his middle initial H. be included whenever his name was recorded. This gave me a helpful clue that a record was for my third-great-grandfather, even if the spelling of his first name was mangled. He also went by L. H. Bradley.

Then one day, while reading about the importance of doing research on all members of a family, I remembered that Sherman A. Bradley married a second time. I wondered if his mother’s maiden name would be on that second marriage certificate. To my great delight, it was.

When Sherman married Mary Schneider on 11 January 1882 in Plymouth, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, his parents were recorded as L. H. Bradley and Mary Simmons. Now I could learn more about my third-great-grandmother and confirm that Sherman A. Bradley was from Litchfield County, Connecticut.

Her own marriage record
Once I had Mary’s maiden name, I recalled a curious entry in the Barbour Collection of the Vital Records for the Town of Litchfield, Litchfield County. It read: Seyming Bradley and Miss Mary Simons, both of Litchfield, married there on 18 September 1830. Knowing how often the old script letters L and S are confused for each other, I was pretty sure that this really was Leyming Bradley and Mary Simmons. [I now have a certified copy from the town clerk of the original document and can confirm the name is Leyming, a phonetic version of Leaming].

This marriage was the best match I had found for the parents of Sherman A. Bradley whose place of birth on his 1859 marriage certificate was “near New Haven, Connecticut.” But could I found any other source for this being the marriage of Leaming H. Bradley and Mary Simmons?

Leaming’s birth in Barbour Collection
Fortunately, the birth of Leaming Hawkins Bradley was recorded with the Litchfield Town Clerk and was transcribed correctly in the Barbour Collection. He was born 10 October 1808 in Litchfield to Horace Bradley and Hannah who was recorded there as Hannah Hawkins but actually was Hannah Twitchell. Her mother’s maiden name was Hawkins, the source of the middle name for Horace and Hannah’s first son Leaming.

The Cutter genealogy book
While I believed my theory about Sherman A. Bradley’s parents was a sound one, I really wanted another source for confirmation. That came in the form of an item in the Bradley genealogy section in a major book, Genealogical and Family History of Central New York, Vol. III. The editor was William Richard Cutter.

On page 1224, listed first among the children of Horace Bradley and Hannah Twitchell, was “Leaming, married Mary Simonds and had several sons.” Here was Leaming’s first name spelled correctly, his marriage to Mary Simonds, another variation of Simons and Simmons – and the mention of sons.

With these multiple sources, I was convinced I had found the name and the birthplace of my third-great-grandmother on my father’s side of the family. The next challenge would be to try to find her parents and further ancestors. We’ll take that up in Part Two.

Please follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBPetura

Why not check out my helpful Genealogy Resources webpage: http://bit.ly/GenealogyResources

Please join my group Finding Family for Free at GenealogyWise:
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Thank you! And good researching!

Misspelled Names in Genealogy

Records used for genealogy research are, unfortunately, riddled with errors, especially the spelling of names. These incorrect names create major challenges for family historians as they search for earlier generations.

Name errors occur for varied reasons. Sometimes names have variations and individuals were not concerned which version was used. Sometimes names were written down incorrectly in the original record. Also, handwriting on old records is often hard to read or in old-fashioned script, leading to errors when the names are transcribed for a census or name index, for example.

Genealogists learn to spot names in the records that might be the ancestors they are seeking — even when outrageously misspelled –and then work to prove or disprove their theory.

My search for my paternal third great-grandparents — parents of Sherman A. Bradley — is an instructive example. To celebrate Father’s Day 2009,  here is a look at my quest for my Bradley forefathers, focusing on the challenges of misspelled names!

When my paternal second great-grandfather Sherman A. Bradley married in Milwaukee on 6 Jan 1859, he was recorded as born in Connecticut “near New Haven” with parents Leman H. Bradley and Mary C. Bradley. When he married for a second time on 11 Jan 1882, the official asked for a maiden name for his mother, so Sherman’s parents were listed as L. H. Bradley and Mary Simons.

An exhaustive review of all Leman, Lemon, Leming and Lyman Bradley men of the right period to have a son born in or about 1835 in Connecticut turned up no relevant results. Nor could an 1850 Census record with Leman, Mary and Sherman be found — anywhere.

Two intriguing records turned up, however, in Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut, a place about 40 miles from New Haven:

> Leaming Hawkins Bradley b. 10 Oct 1808 in Litchfield to Horace Bradley and Hannah Hawkins
> Seyming Bradley m. 18 Sep 1830 in Litchfield to Mary Simons.

The name Leaming could be mistakenly recorded as Leman — and there was a middle name starting with H. And if those who created the Barbour Collection of Vital Records for Connecticut towns misread the capital L as a capital S, then the marriage record could be Leyming Bradley m. Mary Simons.  Leyming is yet another way a clerk might think to write down Leaming, and marriage at age 22 was typical in those days.

This was the closest I had come to a match for the names Sherman gave as his parents. But could I prove this was right? Several records and books kept me focused on this family.

First, Leaming H. Bradley turned up in the 1840 Census in Washington Township, Litchfield County, Connecticut, with two sons in the 5-9 age range. Sherman would fit in that family.

Second, a Pedigree Resource File at FamilySearch.org for Leaming’s younger brother John showed that he, another brother Clark and father Horace were in Dodge County, Wisconsin, not far from Milwaukee, in the 1850 Census. Here was an exciting Wisconsin connection with a date not long before Sherman arrived in 1857-58.

Third, among the books on Ancestry.com I found one with the genealogy of this Bradley family line going back to New Haven in the 1640s. It showed that Leaming Bradley, the first child of Horace Bradley and Hannah Twitchell [her correct surname], had married Mary Simonds and they “had several sons.” Here was good confirmation of the Litchfield marriage record and a match to the two young males in Leaming’s household in the 1840 Census.

[The book is Genealogical and Family History of Central New York, Vol. III, by William Richard Cutter. See page 1224.]

Attempts to find a birth record for Sherman A. Bradley were not successful, even with efforts by the Litchfield Historical Society and the Town Clerk for Washington, Connecticut. Such a record is always the best proof. I was pretty sure I had the right family, but felt I need some added records for confirmation.

I turned to the Milwaukee City Directories for the 1860s and 1870s to see if Sherman’s father or parents might have come to Milwaukee as well. In the microfilms of those directories, on a day not long ago, I found the proof I was looking for: Leaming H. Bradley had come to Milwaukee where his son Sherman was married and working. You can imagine my excitement!

His name was recorded in various ways in the directories, and I share them all to show again the challenge of misspelled names:
> 1862: L. H. Bradley
> 1863: Leming H. Bradley, proprietor of L. H. Bradley & Co.
> 1865: Seamey H. Bradley, same address as Leming H. in 1863.
> 1866: Leaming H. Bradley, his name spelled correctly! 
> 1867: L. H. Bradley
> 1871-1872: Lyman H. Bradley

Leaming’s consistent use of his middle initial H. helped identify him, no matter how his first name was mangled.

The home address for all but one of these entries was on 8th Street, helping show that these are  listings for the same man, just various spellings of of his name.  And the location was about four blocks from the home of Benjamin Church where his daughter Hannah lived with her husband Sherman A. Bradley.

Also, in many of these years his occupation listed was pumpmaker, including the final listing when his name was spelled Lyman. Sherman A. Bradley had the same occupation. [Note: In that era, water pumps were made out of wood, so Sherman’s career move to pumpmaker from carpenter makes sense.]

Two more clues helped confirm that Leaming Hawkins Bradley and Mary Simons were Sherman’s parents. Written on a Bradley family tree were two notes: one, that Sherman had an ancestor in the Revolutionary War and, two, the ancestral name Abernathy, connection unclear. Books showed the parents of Horace Bradley as Aaron Bradley — who served in the Revolution as a youthful blacksmith and guard — and Lorrin Abernethy, daughter of Dr. William Abernethy.

All the pieces of the genealogical puzzle fell into place, at last.

But why was a Bradley male child born in 1808 given the first name Leaming? That name honors his great-grandfather Leaming Bradley who first brought the family to Litchfield from Middletown, Connecticut, and also his third great-grandmother Jane Leaming, daughter of Christopher Leaming and Hester Burnet, who married the first in the line of men named Abraham Bradley. But those are stories for another day.

Using the surname Leaming was a given name did indeed honor our Leaming ancestors, but also created a genealogy brickwall that was very strong, but has finally tumbled down!

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research articles to help you find your family and ancestors, often for modest or no cost.

Surnames of My Ancestors

My own ancestors will turn up in Relative Musings occasionally as I illustrate points or seek to explore their lives and influence.  This listing will track of those references, which can also be found via the search engine. Surnames I am researching include:

  • Father’s paternal side: Abernethy, Baker, Bradley, Church, Leaming, Simons, Speich, Stocker, Twitchell
  • Father’s maternal side: Becker, Booth, Bruce (Bruss), Ebrey, and Stiemke
  • Mother’s paternal side: Conger, Cram, Morey, Palmerton, Sharp and Woolverton
  • Mother’s maternal side: Boie (Boje), Carstens, Groth, Hachez, Luehr (Luhr), Suhr, and Tonner

Mentions of family discoveries in my Finding Family for Free postings or other entries and the date they appeared include:

Abernethy/Abernathy, paternal lineage

Baker, paternal lineage

Boie, maternal lineage

Booth, paternal lineage

Bradley, paternal lineage

Bruss / Bruce, paternal lineage

Church, paternal lineage

 Groth, maternal lineage

Hachez, maternal lineage

Leaming, paternal lineage

Luehr (Luhr), maternal lineage

 Sharp, maternal lineage

Stiemke, paternal lineage

Tonner, maternal lineage

 Woolverton, maternal lineage

Women are recorded with their maiden and married names, where available, but are indexed primarily under their maiden name. Click on the date to go to and read the entry.

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