Monday, August 31, 2015

Copey of Harvard, My Second Great Uncle - 52 Ancestors #35

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is School Days, since it's back to school time in the U.S.

I have been writing about my direct line ancestors, but I would like to take this opportunity to write about a second great uncle who was quite well known in his time as a professor of English at Harvard College.

Charles Townsend Copeland was born on April 27, 1860, in Calais, Maine, as the oldest child of Henry Clay Copeland and Sarah (Lowell) Copeland. He had a younger brother, Lowell Copeland, and a much younger sister, Sarah Katherine Copeland.

Image courtesy
There is a wonderful biography of him, Copey of Harvard: A man who became a legend during his lifetime, by J. Donald Adams, published in 1960 by Houghton Mifflin Company in Boston, of which I have two copies. Much of what I share comes from this biography, which was written by a former student, and really gives a wonderful taste of the personalities not only of Charles but other members of his family, colleagues at Harvard, and many of his students. Adams' sources include many letters written to Copey, from Copey, and to the author, provided to him during his writing of the book.

There are also some wonderful photographs in the book of him and some of his ancestors, but I can't share them here because I'd probably be violating copyright.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Joseph Rose, Gun Manufacturer - 52 Ancestors #34

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is Non-Population, which refers to special census schedules: have you found an ancestor on a non-population census — agriculture, industry, manufactures, or 1890 Union veterans? Tell us about him or her.

I have known about these special census schedules, but have not fully explored them. I found a few 19th century ancestors while trying to decide who to write about this week. The most interesting to me was what I found for third great-grandfather, Joseph Rose.

He was born on October 25, 1809, in New York City to Joseph Rose and Frances Stanton. He married Frances Stanton Willet on October 23, 1827, and fathered six children with her.

In the 1850 U.S. Census, the first census that lists all names of household members, I find 40-year-old Joseph Rose, Jr. in New York City's Ward 4, with occupation of Gun Smith.

The household includes his wife, his four youngest children, a servant, and the last name in the image is that of his son-in-law, David Hunter McAlpin, who likely lived next door.

U.S. Federal Census. Year: 1850; Census Place: New York Ward 4, New York, New York;
Roll: M432_536; Page: 264B; Lines: 35-41; Record for Joseph Rose family

So in the's Selected U.S. Federal Census Non-Population Schedules, 1850-1880 for New York Ward 4, page 373, I find some more information about Joseph's business:

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Third Great Grandmother Elizabeth Sewall Willis of Boston - 52 Ancestors #33

I have been keeping up with the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, and often using her optional themes. I liked last week's theme ("32" third great-grandparents) so much that I will continue to write about a third great-grandparent if the optional theme doesn't work for me.

Third great-grandmother, Elizabeth Sewall Willis, was born in Portland, Maine, on September 12, 1820, to Benjamin Willis and Elizabeth Sewall May. She was their second child; her older brother was Hamilton Willis. Sadly, her mother died when she was two years old, supposedly after the birth of a third child, who did not survive. It doesn't appear that her father remarried.

Her grandfather was Joseph May and her first cousin was Louisa May Alcott. Her daughter, Eliza May Wells, married Elizabeth's first cousin (Eliza's first cousin once removed), Samuel Sewall Greeley.

On November 6, 1838, in Newburyport, Massachusetts, she married Thomas Goodwin Wells as his second wife. (I wrote about discovering his first wife here.)

They had five children, three of whom survived her:
Eliza May Wells (1839-1880)
Henry Willis Wells (1841-1864)
Louisa Wells (1846-1927)
Benjamin Willis Wells (1856-1923)
Ruth Lyman Wells (1862-1943)

As I have noted before, this family gets confusing because there are so many in different generations and different branches with the same names: Eliza/Elizabeth, Louisa, Ruth, Benjamin, Thomas.

An 1882 passport application (from's U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925) confirms her birth date and birth place (as she reported it), as well as provides me with a physical description and her signature.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Found a Death Date at FindAGrave!

I recently had a photo request fulfilled for my third great-grandmother, Sarah (Smith) Lowell whom I wrote about here. I had been looking for her death date for years! I now know she died on March 1, 1884.

She is buried in Calais Cemetery, Calais, Maine. Her FindAGrave memorial links to memorials for her husband, parents and children.

Many thanks to FindAGrave volunteer Janice Gower for taking this photograph. She also provided the following transcription:

Died May 18 1837
AE. 42 Yrs.
Died March 1, 1884
AE 88 Yrs
Infant Children
Died in San Francisco, CA
Jan 9th 1854
AE 25 Yrs.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Third Great Grandmother Mary Ann Bowman of Kentucky - 52 Ancestors #32

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is "32" where I get to focus on one of my 32 third-great-grandparents.

Since I have been working on writing about third and fourth great grandparents during much of this writing challenge, this fits into my plan!

Last week, I wrote about a paternal third great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Gorin. His wife was Mary Ann Bowman. I know much less about her.

Mary Ann was born in Kentucky on March 2, 1814 to Granville Bowman and wife Polly Walthall. (Her parents were born in Virginia.) I have five younger siblings listed for her, but there could be more children who didn't survive childhood.

I know her birth date from the Gorin family bible and I believe her birth place was probably Burkesville, Cumberland County, Kentucky, considering her father was in Cumberland County in U.S. Censuses from 1810-1840. (Also see her obituary below.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Thomas Jefferson Gorin - Easy to Research - 52 Ancestors #31

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is Easy: We ended July with" Challenging,” so it seems fitting to begin August with “Easy.” Which ancestor has been pretty easy to research?

Thomas Jefferson Gorin
A somewhat easier-to-research ancestor (at the third-great-grandparent generation) is Thomas Jefferson Gorin. I mentioned him in my Gorin Surname Saturday post. I have written about one of my oldest photographs, an ambrotype, of him here. (A note in with the photograph identifies him!)

The best source I have for him and his family is the 1856 family bible, which I wrote about here. It includes several obituaries which paint a wonderful picture of his life.

Thomas Jefferson Gorin was born on January 27, 1808, in Glasgow, Barren County, Kentucky, to Revolutionary War veteran, John Gorin, and Elizabeth Franklin. He was the tenth of eleven children. Barren County had only been created ten years earlier, from Green County and Warren County. It was settled by Scotch-Irish and yes, Glasgow was named for the city in Scotland. (See Wikipedia.)

It is the family bible that tells me he married Mary Ann Bowman on December 27, 1831. They had eight children:
Mary Elizabeth Gorin (1833-1891)
James Edward Gorin (1835-1896)
Laura Gorin (1837-1853)
Emma Gorin (1839-1901)
Unnamed daughter Gorin (July 1842)
Ellen Gorin (1844-1858)
Thomas Gorin (March 1847-November 1847)
Florence Gorin (1851-1925)

Some of these children we wouldn't know about except for mention in this bible!