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.