Parmelia Hall Church: Power of Published Genealogy Queries, Part II

1/1/2018: Parmelia Hall Church: Power of Published Genealogy Queries, Part II. / See Part I: Power of Published Genealogy Queries

In “Power of Published Genealogy Queries” posted in February 2017, I shared discoveries about my 3rd great-grandmother Parmelia, wife of Benjamin F. Church, resulting from a query published in American Ancestors, Volume 17, Number 3, Fall 2016, “Brick Walls,” page 21. This is New England Historical Genealogical Society’s magazine.

By great good fortune, a Milwaukee genealogist spotted the query and recognized the names. He sent me records for Parmelia and her two oldest daughters from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Trinity Chapel. St. Paul’s was the city’s first Episcopal Church, located on the east side of the Milwaukee River. Trinity was an Episcopal mission on the west side of the river, later replaced by St. James Episcopal Church.

Check that earlier posting to see out how his generous sharing helped advance my understanding of Parmelia and her oldest daughter Hannah Maria Church, my 2nd great-grandmother.

Next Research Step: Find Her in St. James Records

His advice for a next research step was to see if Parmelia transferred to St. James Episcopal Church, if her other children were baptized there, and if there is a record of her funeral. And there might be baptismal sponsors to research for clues. He noted the St. James records are held at the Milwaukee County Historical Society.

More about Parmelia and the baptism of two sons was indeed obtained from the MCHS. I still have not found a specific birthplace for her (1850 Census says New Hampshire) or confirmed her maiden name, but I have more clues. The St. James records show:

> Benjamin and Parmelia’s first son, Charles Benjamin Church, was born 19 Aug 1847 in Milwaukee, and then on 27 Feb 1848 was baptized at Trinity Chapel, according to records held by St. James Episcopal Church. Both the short-lived Trinity (1846-1849) and St. James (founded 1850) served Episcopalians living the west side of Milwaukee River.

> Their second son, John Benjamin Church, was born on 1 Dec 1852 in Milwaukee and was baptized 20 Feb 1853 at St. James Episcopal Church, according to St. James baptism records. So Parmelia had indeed joined the new west-side church by 1853.

Parmelia’s Full Name in these Records

In the baptism records of her two sons, Parmelia was recorded as Parmelia Hall Church. Was Hall her maiden name? She used H. as her middle initial in land deeds with husband Benjamin as early as 1840, for example, leading to the likelihood it was her maiden name.

Or was Hall the surname of a first husband who had died, leaving her a young widow? Her oldest daughter Hannah Maria gave her mother’s name as Parmelia C. Church when Hannah married Sherman Abernethy Bradley in Milwaukee on 6 Jan 1859. Years later, Hannah and Sherman’s son Jesse Charles Bradley gave his grandmother’s name as P. Clemens on his mother’s death record.

There is a funeral listed for her in St. James Records, dated 22 Feb 1856. The full record lists Parmelia Church, d. 20 Feb 1856, of consumption, no birth place, residence Milwaukee, buried FHC [Forest Home Cemetery]. Rector was Rev. J.P.T. Ingraham who had come from Trinity to St. James in 1852.

Those details match her mortuary notice in Milwaukee Daily Sentinel dated 21 Feb 1856 that reads: “On the 20th inst., of consumption, PAMELIA H. CHURCH, wife of Benjamin Church, Esq. Funeral on Friday, the 22nd inst., at 10 o’clock A.M. from her late residence on Fourth Street, Second Ward. Friends of the family are respectfully invited to attend.” Note the middle initial H. in her name here.

The combination of the St. James funeral record and the mortuary notice solve the confusion in the Forest Home Cemetery record that lists her as Elizabeth Church, buried on 21 Feb 1856 in the plot owned by Benjamin Church. This Elizabeth is actually Parmelia, Benjamin’s wife. FHC listed her birth date as 2 Nov 1815, consistent with her age in the 1850 Census.

So we have a wealth of clues about Parmelia’s ancestry, but they are contradictory. And none turn up a result for her in the major genealogy databases. Nonetheless, these discoveries about Parmelia – alternatively Permelia and Pamelia – are due to NEHGS publishing my query and the kind genealogist sending me church records and advising on next steps. To both I again say thank you! And so our research continues! We welcome your input!

Please follow my genealogy postings on Twitter:

Why not check out my helpful Genealogy Tips & Tools webpage:

Thank you! And good researching!


Published on January 1, 2018 at 1:45 pm  Comments Off on Parmelia Hall Church: Power of Published Genealogy Queries, Part II  
%d bloggers like this: