Monday, August 4, 2014

Civil War Blogpost Challenge ~ Military Monday

For Bill West's Civil War Blogpost Challenge, I looked at my database to see which of my ancestors might have fought in the U.S. Civil War (150 years ago). I find that I can't add much more to what I have already shared about the service of my ancestors in the Civil War.


My maternal grandmother's ancestors were in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. I have written about my second great grand uncle, James M. Lysle, who died in Virginia, serving for the 63rd Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. I share his picture here again. His youngest brother, George Lysle, my second great-grandfather, was born in 1845, possibly too young to serve, but working in a coal company, perhaps he provided help in the war effort in other ways.

There were a few other Alstons and Lysles (great-uncles and/or distant cousins) who served from Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania, Veterans Burial Cards, 1777-1999, at, is a good resource to determine Civil War service. I do not find my third great grandfather, James Freeland, who died on March 1, 1863, at about age 48, according to his gravestone (see his FindAGrave memorial) or my third great-grandfather, Samuel Hunter, who also died in 1863 at about age 49, in this database, or in Civil War records at, so it appears that they may not have fought, but perhaps served in other ways.


My maternal grandfather's father's family was in Maine (see second great-grandfather Henry Copeland's draft information here). It looks like he was exempted from service.

My maternal grandfather's mother's family was in Chicago. I wrote about what I could find about second great-grandfather Samuel S. Greeley's service (building sewers) here.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cousins Day ~ Throwback Thursday

In honor of July 24 being Cousins Day, I share the following picture from the summer of 1982.

My grandmother, Helen (Hunter) Copeland (1907-1990) is in the middle, with her sister, Margaret Hunter (1905-1994) sitting next to her. She is surrounded by her three daughters, three sons-in-law, and nine grandchildren. She couldn't be any happier!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Henry and Jane Sewall

Several years ago, my husband and I explored the First Parish Burying Ground in Newbury, Massachusetts, where some of my early immigrant ancestors are buried.

My husband took the following picture of my 8th great-grandfather's gravestone.

MARCH YE 25 1646
DIED MAY YE 16, 1700
PSAL - 27 - 10.

Henry died on May 16, 1700, and his wife, Jane, died eight months later, on January 13, 1700/01.

The gravestone was erected by his eldest son, Justice Samuel Sewall.

Psalm 27, verse 10 reads: "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up."

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Surname Saturday ~ Henry Sewall of England and Massachusetts

Coventry, England
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
My immigrant Sewall ancestor is Henry Sewall. He was baptized at St. Michael's Church, Coventry, Warwickshire, England, on April 8, 1576. His actual birth date is unknown, but could be as much as three years earlier.

Coventry is the red area in the image at right. According to The Descendants of Henry Sewall 1576-1656, by Eben W. Graves, an invaluable source for Sewall descendants, the Sewalls were in Coventry, or at least parts of Warwickshire, for generations. What I share here is only a brief summary of the wealth of information to be found in this book, which I purchased soon after its 2007 publication by the Newbury Street Press.

In 1591, Henry Sewall entered the Drapers Company of Coventry, for a nine-year apprenticeship. According to Wikipedia, the Drapers Company was a large trading guild in Coventry. A draper is an old term for one who sells cloth and dry goods.

At some point between 1611 and 1615, Henry moved about 100 miles north from Coventry to Manchester, where he, his wife, and his infant son are listed in the Manchester parish records in the summer of 1615.

Henry's wife was Anne Hunt, who died soon after the baptism of their son, Henry, in 1615. Not much is known about her except for the record of her burial on July 1, 1615. Within a year, Henry Sewall married Ellen (Mosley) Nugent, a young widow. They had six children, all of whom died young. The Sewall family lived in or near Manchester, England, from about 1615 to about 1631. By April 1634, Henry Sewall was back in Coventry, selling property in preparation for leaving England.

Newbury, Essex Co., Mass.
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
In 1634, Henry Sr., about 58 years old, sent his son, Henry, Jr., about 20 years old, ahead to New England to "begin a plantation." Henry, the father, arrived in New England by July 1635, when he first appears in records in Essex County.

Henry Sewall was a founder of the town of Newbury, Massachusetts, (where my early Lowell ancestors lived), which was settled in 1635. He later moved to Rowley, just south of Newbury. (See a great map of Essex County here.) Henry died, intestate, in Rowley in March 1655/6. It took a couple of years for his estate to be settled.

Generation 2: Henry Sewall, the only child to survive to adulthood, was baptized at Manchester Cathedral, Lancashire, on June 25, 1615. Various records imply a birth year between 1611 and 1614. He immigrated to New England on the ship Elizabeth & Dorcas in 1634, ahead of his father and step-mother. He was sent with plenty of provisions for setting up a new home for the family.

He spent his first winter in Ipswich (two towns south of Newbury in the above map), where he had received a grant of 40 acres. He sold this land in the spring of 1635 and, along with his father, became one of the first settlers of Newbury.

Henry married Jane Dummer at Newbury, Massachusetts, on March 25, 1646. In late 1646, Henry and Jane returned to England with his in-laws, the Dummers, and lived in England until 1659, where he served as a minister at North Baddesley, Hampshire. Henry (the son) visited his father, Henry, in New England once, in 1650, when he bought several parcels of land in Newbury.

Henry and Jane had eight children, five born in England between 1649 and 1659 (Hannah, Samuel, John, Stephen, Jane), and three born in Newbury between 1662 and 1668 (Anne, Mehitable, Dorothy). After Henry returned to New England in 1659 to finish settling his father's estate, it took him a couple of years for him to decide he would stay and he finally sent for his wife and children. They arrived in July 1661.

Henry died on May 16, 1700, in Newbury, Massachusetts, and was buried in the First Parish Burying Ground there. His wife, Jane, died eight months later on January 13, 1700/01 and was also buried at First Parish Burying Ground.

I descend from their oldest son, Samuel Sewall.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pennsylvania Death Certificates, 1906-1944 Now on

As Pennsylvania researchers probably already know, Pennsylvania death certificates (for 1906 through 1944) are now available at 1906-1924 were made available a few months ago; 1925-1944 were made available last week, and 1945-1963 should be available in the fall.

It was a big deal for Pennsylvania researchers when Pennsylvania made its death certificate indices available in early 2012. I wrote about the steps required to obtain PA death certificates here when I blogged about my great grandfather Percy Hunter. During 2012, I obtained over 20 death certificates for members of my maternal grandmother's extended family at $3 each.

Benefits of having the death certificates indexed at include the ability to look for a name without knowing the specific death date AND the quality of the scan. Below is an example of the death certificate of my second great grandmother's twin, Christine Agnes Alston. (See a photo of the twins here.) The first image was scanned, printed and mailed to me, then I scanned it to save to my computer. I downloaded the second image from