Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day; Our Family Veterans.

Memorial Day is the day we remember the American veterans who fought and died in wars.

First in our line of veterans is Joseph Henry Ludwig, a hero of the Revolutionary War. I've already written about him. We might have other Revolutionary War veterans in the family, but he's the only one I've been able to document.

His grandson, Captain Joseph William Ludwig, commanded a steamship for the Union Navy during the Civil War. Born in Waldoboro, Maine, he was living in New York City at the start of the War. After the war, he lived in Jersey City.

William James Tibbitt of Elkton, Maryland, also served in the Union Navy; he served as a Landsman, which was the lowest rank at the time. But his service record indicates that he spent most of his enlistment in the Pacific Ocean. His gravestone in Elkton Cemetery has a GAR emblem.

James McDermond also served in the Civil war, as a sergeant. Like most able-bodied men in Pennsylvania, he was pressed into service in 1862 when rumors of a Confederate invasion spread. Any male able to carry a rifle was drafted to do just that. After a few months, almost all of them were released back to civilian life. But Sergeant McDermond was "Awarded for Distinguished Service" for his time with Company D, 21 Pennsylvania Vol. Infantry

Samuel Hudson Fisher II was only 17 years old in August 1862 when he enlisted as a drummer for the 114th PA Infantry, Company D. In December of 1863 he incurred a rupture while in Virginia, and was transferred to a Veteran's Hospital in Chicago. He was discharged in October 1864.

Interestingly, while he returned to Philadelphia to marry Josephine Weis, and definitely lived there, his son Samuel Hudson Fisher III was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1873. He died at age 45 at his home on Dean Street in Philadelphia.

By and large, most of the conflicts of the twentieth century spaced out such that the men of our family were either too young or too old to be called into wartime service. But we did have soldiers and sailors in the family;

Fred "Butch" Jahn, served in the Coast Guard through the 1960s and 1970s.

Winfield Tibbit served in Germany during the Cold War of the 1950s; S. Stewart Joslin III served there twenty years later as a tank commander.

We should be thankful for the sacrifices made by each generation; they bought us our freedom.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Hinchman Family; Making Connections

A few years back, when I took up this genealogical quest, Grandma sent me a folder full of material pertaining to her lineage. She had a photograph of Mary Ann Prickett, née Hudson. She had discovered a house in Medford, where Mary Ann was from, and the house was identified as the" Jacob & Mary Prickett House, 1827." Mary Ann would have been about 20 when the house was built, and indeed her first child was born in 1827. It was a perfect fit!

Except that it wasn't. According to the family bible, Mary Ann Hudson was actually Marian Hudson. She married Enoch Prickett, not Jacob. And she lived her entire married life in Philadelphia, where Enoch built carriages. And if the family bible wasn't enough proof, it's been confirmed by the US Census.

To be fair, Grandma didn't know that my mother had the Hudson family bible; my great-grandmother had had it stuck away in the garage of all places, and my mother rescued it from a trash bin when my great-grandparents moved out of their house on Marlkress Road for the smaller place on Potter Street. And she didn't have census data. All she had was the knowledge passed down that Great-Grandma Prickett was born Mary Ann Hudson in Medford, New Jersey.

I know that my discoveries disappointed my grandmother; she had been so sure, and so happy to visit the home of her "ancestress."

So I was initially excited when a recent web search led me to this: the home of Samuel and Rebecca Hinchman, built in 1849.

You see, Marian's daughter Malvina married Isaac Hinchman. And Isaac was the son of - get this - Samuel and Rebecca Hinchman. And if THAT isn't enough, according to the 1850 census, Samuel and Rebecca Hinchman lived in Moorestown with their children Isaac, Elizabeth and Acshah!

Once again, it looks like a perfect fit!

After all, how likely is it that there could be another Samuel Hinchman with a wife named Rebecca, right?

As it turns out, it's 100%. Samuel M. Hinchman, with his wife Rebecca, are listed in the 1850 Census in Newton Township, which is just south of Moorestown. He's two years younger than our Samuel.

Now I know what you're thinking: OUR Samuel was living in Moorestown a year after this house was built, and the OTHER Samuel wasn't. So why don't I think that this is our ancestral house?

First, because our Samuel was dirt poor. In 1850, his occupation is given as "laborer," which is the lowest paying occupation there is. He didn't have a craft, or property. He showed up at farms, or warehouses, or wherever, and did whatever physical work needed doing. According to the 1860 census, he was working for Lydia King of Haddonfield, as a live-in chauffeur. He probably slept in a carriage house in back of her home, a common practice for servants of the day.

Second, because the Historical Society mentions that this Hinchman family has ties to the Lippincott and Stokes families - something we don't have. And believe me, I'd know if we did.

It's possible that I'm wrong, and that Samuel DID build this house - or at least the oldest part of it - and his fortunes had changed by the time of the census. It's possible. But I got no proof.

I'll keep this tucked away; maybe I'll find a connection to this house in the future.

We're connected to the Hinchmans by way of Isaac's daugher, Marian, who married Winfield Felten. Marian, of course, was named for her grandmother. She had a brother, Clinton Starn Hinchman.

As long as I can remember, his name has always been just that: Clinton STARN Hinchman. It's never just "Clinton" or "Clint." "That handsome man? That's Clinton Starn Hinchman, he's Grandma Marian's brother!"

I tried to figure out what the connection was; there had to be one somewhere. Are the Starns cousins, perhaps? I wondered.

I looked and researched and dug and couldn't find any hint of a marriage between a Hinchman or a Starn anywhere. Sure, I found lots of Hinchmans. They owned most of Cherry Hill. I found loads of Starns: there were about as many Starns as Hinchmans in Camden County, back in the day. But nothing definite.

Until last night. My latest search turned up an entry in South Jersey : a history, 1664-1924.

I knew that the Hinchmans were members of Trinity Methodist Church: I found an invitation to Roland Hinchman's funeral tucked into the family bible, and the service was held there.

But last night, I learned that Isaac Hinchman was one of its founders. And at last, the Starn connection is brought to light.

On page 372 of Volume One, we learn the following:

"The first church erected in the borough was the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, incorporated March 11, 1865 by David S. Stetson, A.G. Cattell, Matthias Homer, Elijah G. Cattell, Isaac Starn, Charles W. Starn, James C. Fenn, Isaach Hinchman, and Joseph H. Starn."
Which Starn was Clinton named for? I don't think it matters; Isaac would have been good friends with all of them. Creating a church forges a community; these people would have been one big family, connected by their common faith.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Uncle Doc

My grandfather, Pop-pop Joslin used to tell us stories of his "Uncle Doc." He was a society doctor in Asbury Park, back at the turn of the last century, he knew Arthur Conan Doyle, he was the first man in town to own a car.

Dr. James F. Ackerman was all that. He was born in Nashua, New Hampshire, to Joseph Ackerman and Susan Reed. His father was a successful provisions dealer. Uncle Doc attended Amherst, but left to pursue a medical degree at Homeopathic College and Hospital in New York City. In 1890, he graduated and spent a year in Vienna. In 1891, he joined the practice of Dr. Bruce Smith Keator. Dr. Keator's health caused him to step down later that year, and Dr. Ackerman took it over.

The son of an astute business man, Uncle Doc inherited a strong business acumen; he was on the board of several corporations, including at least one bank. His efforts led to the creation of Fitkin Hospital in Neptune Township, which is still in operation to this day.

According to my grandfather, Uncle Doc was sitting in a train car at a station in New York City, reading a new book of stories about a fictional detective. Engrossed as he was, he couldn't help but notice an agitated man on the platform outside the train who kept looking in the window at him. A moment later, the man boarded the train and came into Uncle Doc's cabin.

"I say," he said, "I can't help noticing that you're reading that new Sherlock Holmes book, and I was curious to know how you find it." Uncle Doc offered that it was a fascinating story, very original and inspiring.

The man's face erupted into a grin; "Delighted to hear it! Forgive me for my interruption, but I had to know; I wrote it, you see; please allow me to introduce myself, I am Arthur Doyle!"

They quickly ascertained they were both men of medicine, and my grandfather maintained they corresponded off and on, and would occasionally meet up at medical events in New York and Washington DC. ( I have not been able to corroborate this story, but I am working on it!).

He married Ann Rouse in 1896. Annie was the daughter of Martin Rouse of Jersey City, himself an American success story. Rouse started off as a cooper, worked his way up to chandlery, and eventually was a partner in Goulard and Rouse, with offices on Wall Street, Chicago and St. Louis, and served on the board of the Produce Exchange for many years. Rouse's oldest son, John, married Transylvania Ludwig, the daughter of wealthy sea captain and merchant Capt. Joseph Ludwig.

John and Transy had three children together(Transylvania, Wiliam Martin, and Hattie), but the marriage didn't last. Aunt Annie and Uncle Doc took in John's two daughters and son for a time. They gave the girls all the advantages a debutante would expect at that time, and even celebrated the girls' "coming out." They became young Tranny's favorite aunt and uncle, and after she married Stew Joslin, they and their son, Stew Jr., were frequent visitors to 1001 Grand Avenue, Asbury Park. When Stew Jr. had trouble getting accepted at a college, Uncle Doc arranged for him to attend Amherst.

One year at Thanksgiving, my grandfather and some neighbors were discussing first cars, and my grandfather told us about Uncle Doc's car. "It was the first car in town, and the only car in town for several years. I remember they'd put it up for the winter in the barn. Oh, no, you couldn't drive a car in the winter back then: you'd jack it up to save the tires, and empty the radiator, and cover it in blankets to keep the dust off. In that season, he'd use the horse and carriage, which he did most often, anyway, because it was more reliable."

My grandfather also reported that Uncle Doc delivered the illegitimate daughter of Warren G. Harding; a story echoed by at least one of Harding's biographers. While I haven't determined the truth of that, his Amherst biography does indicate that among his achievements, he belonged to the US Secret Service; an odd membership for a doctor!

He died in 1936, and his obituary appeared in the New York Times, including the picture above.