Thursday, January 29, 2015

1875 Burglary Attempt Thwarted

While I was looking for information about my second great grand uncle, Reuben B. Lowell, I came across the following news story in the Portland, Maine Daily Press from October 12, 1875, at

Washington County [Maine]
  A few evenings since an attempt was made
to enter the residence of Mr. Reuben Lowell of
Milltown, while he was absent at Calais. His
wife, daughter and servant were the only ones
at home, and seeing the shadow of the burglar
upon the curtain, they armed themselves with
any available weapons, Mrs. Lowell taking her
husband's revolver, the daughter a carving
knife and the servant was sent up stairs to
blow a dinner horn to attract the neighbors.
The man fortunately decided not to break in,
and made his exit not knowing what was in
store for him.

This is Reuben B. Lowell who went to California in 1849. At the time of this attempted burglary, his wife, Elizabeth was about 42 years old and his two daughters were 11 and 18.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Closest to Your Birthday - November 21 - 52 Ancestors: #4

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is "Closest to Your Birthday."

In Family Tree Maker for Mac, there is a "List of Individuals" report where I was able to create a birthday list including all individuals in my database sorted by birth date.

Birthdays were always special days in my home growing up: my mother made sure of that. Interestingly, there are only three in my database with March 7 as a birthday, and my mother is one of them. The other two are on my father's side of the tree and not related to my mother.

However, there are eight individuals in my database with my birth date of November 21 (including a newly-found second cousin of my husband's, who was also born in the same year as I was). Two of these are direct ancestors of mine!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Uncle Reuben Lowell and the California Gold Rush

Clipper Ship
"California Clipper 500" by G.F. Nesbitt & Co., printer
Wikimedia Commons 
Today is the 167th anniversary of the discovery of gold in California. An extensive Wikipedia article notes that on January 24, 1848, James W. Marshall found gold at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. This started the "Gold Rush" of men going to California to seek their fortune.

I have a second great grand uncle (probably two) who traveled from Maine to California as part of the Gold Rush.

Reuben Braddock Lowell (1827-1910) was a son of Reuben Lowell and Sarah (Smith) Lowell of Calais, Maine. (His sister, Sarah Lowell, is my second great-grandmother.)

The Historic Genealogy of the Lowells of America from 1639 to 1899 by Delmar Lowell (1899) (see Google Books, p. 488) claims that Reuben's brother George Albert Lowell (1831-1907) also went to California in 1849 with his brother Reuben, but George doesn't appear in the 1850 census. He may have been missed, as taking the census in California in 1850 was a challenge for enumerators.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Frances A. McAlpin Pyle - A Strong Woman - 52 Ancestors: #3

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, I am using this week's optional theme of Tough Woman, which gives me a great opportunity to write about a great-grandmother of mine whom I know quite a bit about, but have not written about.

Frances Adelaide McAlpin was born on February 28, 1860, in New York City to David Hunter McAlpin and his first wife, Frances Adelaide Rose. Of their ten children, she was their seventh child and only daughter. I think that being the only girl helped to make her a strong woman. Her mother died when she was ten and a half, which probably resulted in her growing up faster than she otherwise might have.

In most records, I find she is referred to as Adelaide, perhaps to differentiate herself from her mother, who was likely known as Frances.

Adelaide is on the right in the picture below, which I believe was taken in about 1879.

Unknown woman on left
Frances Adelaide McAlpin on right

She married James Tolman Pyle, son of James Pyle, founder of Pyle's Pearline Soap, on February 12, 1884. The detailed description of their wedding, from the New York Daily Tribune, can be found here.

She gave birth to six children (some of whom I've written about previously):
James McAlpin Pyle (1884-1954)
David Hunter McAlpin Pyle (1886-1944)
Adelia McAlpin Pyle (1888-1968)
Sara McAlpin Pyle (1891-1978)
Charles McAlpin Pyle (1893-1966), my grandfather
Gordon McAlpin Pyle (1901-1943)

My first blog post was about the home that Adelaide and her husband, James, built in Morris County, New Jersey, called Hurstmont, which is where my grandfather grew up. See an aerial view of Hurstmont here. She came from a wealthy family and married into a wealthy family. She managed two households, one in New York City, and Hurstmont in New Jersey, raised six children, who each had their issues, and lost her husband when she was 51 years old.

Monday, January 12, 2015

52 Ancestors: #2 Reuben Lowell - Descended from a King

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is a writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small.   I am participating this year, hoping to write about an ancestor at least once a week.

This year's challenge offers optional weekly themes to help me pick an ancestor to write about. This week's theme is "King" (as in Martin Luther King or Elvis Presley). However, I will use the opportunity to mention that one of our ancestral lines is considered a royal line - the Lowell family.

See "The Royal Ancestry of Percival Lowell" by Brandon Fraud and Douglas Richardson in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, (Volume 157, October 2003, pp. 309-319) for the Lowell ancestry back to my 21st great-grandfather, King Edward I of England. (However, don't get excited; he has millions of descendants!)

The following display shows the two lines (which come together again) from which we descend from King Edward I (b. 1239, d. 1307) of England:

Edward I, King of England
Elizabeth of England
Margaret de Bohun
|                               |
Sir Philip Courtenay                       Elizabeth Courtenay
|                               |
Sir John Courtenay                       Sir Hugh Luttrell
|                               |
Sir Philip Courtenay                       Sir John Luttrell
|                               |
Elizabeth Courtenay    =       Sir James Luttrell
Sir Hugh Luttrell
Eleanor Luttrell
Elizabeth Yorke
Christian Percival

In about 1570, Christian Percival married Richard Lowle. These are the parents of my immigrant ancestor, 10th great-grandfather Percival Lowell. See Surname Saturday - Lowell for the descendants of Percival Lowle/Lowell down through my maternal grandfather to me.

However, I'm just using this as a jumping off point to write about a Lowell ancestor of mine who lived a short life, my third great-grandfather, Reuben Lowell.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

52 Ancestors: #1 Thomas Cutler Whitman - A Fresh Start

Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small ran a great writing challenge in 2014: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. I didn't participate, but I decided I would participate in the 2015 challenge, so I will be sure to write about an ancestor at least once a week!

This year's challenge includes optional weekly themes, which will hopefully help me choose an ancestor to write about each week.

I have written about many of my ancestors already, so I will try to use this challenge to find ancestors about whom I have not already written.

Thomas Cutler Whitman is my 3rd great-grandfather. He was born of Loyalist parents (George Whitman and Esther Atwater) in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, on April 2, 1803. He married Diana Morgan in Guysborough, Nova Scotia, on March 13, 1827, and fathered nine children with her. I shared what I know of my Whitman line in a Surname Saturday post.

I don't have any more information about Thomas C. Whitman in Nova Scotia. He did, however, make a fresh start in 1857 when he immigrated from Nova Scotia, arriving in Boston on September 26, 1857, on the Steamer Eastern State, of Yarmouth, N.S. Following is the passenger list showing Thomas and presumably three of his sons: Judson, Ira, and what looks like "Ridout" but could represent Charles or Gordon. His wife and a couple of daughters are listed together on the following page. Eldest daughter, Esther (my second great grandmother), immigrated from Nova Scotia to Boston (to New York) in 1849., Boston, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1954 [database on-line] (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2006),, Database online. Record for Thos Whitman.

The family ultimately ended up in New York, where he is found in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census as a farmer in Jamaica, Queens, N.Y.

I wrote about finding his death date at this Tombstone Tuesday post, where I included the following New York Herald death notice:

New York Herald, July 23, 1870

Thomas Cutler Whitman died on July 22, 1870, in New York and is buried at Elmont Cemetery, in Elmont, New York. Most of his children ended up in the U.S. and many can be found on

I descend from Thomas Cutler Whitman as follows:
Thomas Cutler Whitman
Esther Abigail Whitman
James Tolman Pyle
Charles McAlpin Pyle
Charles McAlpin Pyle, Jr.