Thursday, May 21, 2015

My Canadian Branches ~ Loyalist David Blakeney's Military Career



The year was 1775, David Blakeney (my 6th great grandfather) and his family had lived on the shores of Cane Tail Creek in the Ninety Six District of South Carolina since 1767. Having received a Crown Grant of 100 acres, David had built a house, a barn, stables, and a loom house. His farm had horses, cattle, sheep, and hogs. He harvested wheat, Indian corn, and flax.



As tensions began to boil over in the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution, particularly in the South Carolina backcountry, it often was a struggle of conscience for many settlers, and David may have faced this conflict with mixed allegience. There is evidence to suggest that he initially served in the "rebel militia," probably under Andrew Williamson, "in some degree forced into it." Williamson, the first major double agent in the American colonies, later joined the Loyalist cause, and David possibly followed suit.

By 1780, it became apparent to the British command that more vigilant defenses were essential to retaining the Southern territory. 

"Keeping possession of the backcountry is to utmost importance, indeed the Success of the War in the Southern District depends totally upon it." 
– Lord Cornwallis to Lt. Col. Cruger, August 5, 1780

The eight-pointed Star Fort at Ninety Six was the result. Upon completion the walls stood 14 feet high and it is estimated the walls were 10-15 feet thick. In addition, the defense included abatis (felled trees with sharpened branches), a steep ditch, fraise (sharp stakes protruding from the walls), and sandbags which surrounded the Star redoubt. Approximately 200 soldiers were stationed inside to keep guard.


Fort Ninety Six
[http://www.nps.gov/nisi/learn/photosmultimedia/online-tour-stop-11.htm]

David served as a Private in Colonel John Cotton's regiment of the Stevenson's Creek militia (the 96 Brigade), and narrowly avoided being involved in the King's Mountain conflict on October 7, 1780.

By May of the next year, approximately 1000 Patriot forces under Nathanael Greene were trying to seize the fortified settlement, and failing that, began the Seige of Ninety Six.There is evidence to suggest that David served continually throughout the 28-day seige, from May 21st to June 18th, the longest field siege of the Revolutionary War. As British Lieutenant Colonel Francis Rawdon ("Lord Rawdon") attempted to rescue the Loyalists who were manning the Fort, Greene's forces tried unsuccessfully to breech the enemy defenses on June 19th. but eventually retreated. The Loyalist forces, under Rawdon's influence, decided to abandon the Fort and concentrate their military efforts on the coast. By the time the British left Ninety Six of their own accord, on July 1, 1781, it was the last Loyalist fort in South Carolina.

David and his fellow militiamen proceeded to destroy the wooden structures and fort, and marched to Charleston.  When David left Ninety Six, he did so without his family. Taking only what they could carry, they were eventually sheltered by other Loyalist settlers.

For the remainder of 1791 and through much of 1792, David served in the Loyalist militia on James Island, near Charleston, and apparently saw little action as a non-commissioned officer in Colonel Baily Cheney's regiment. The following is from Clark's Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War, Vol. 1, p.339.




In November of 1792, Charleston was finally evacuated. David, along with his family, sailed with the troops on the troop transport ship "Argo" and landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on November 21st.

Notes: 

  • I have used here David's surname spelled Blakeney. Be advised, however, that there are many variations through the insuing generations, namely Blakney, Blakeney, Bleakeny, Bleakny, Bleakney, Bleakly, and even Bleachly.
  • The Seige of Ninety Six began 224 years ago today.
  • I descend from David on this line:







Sources:

1779 Census of Ninety-Six District (http://files.usgwarchives.net/sc/districts/census/1779_96d.txt)

96 Revolutionary (http://www.townofninetysixsc.com/?page_id=70)

Blakney, David, in Loyalist Directory (http://www.uelac.org/Loyalist-Info/detail.php?letter=b&line=348)

Cann, Marvin L. “War in the Backcountry:  The Siege of Ninety Six, May 22- June 19, 1781.”  South Carolina Historical Magazine 72 (1971):  1-14. (http://www.jstor.org/stable/27567019)

Clark, Murtie June, Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War, Vol. 1, pp.339-340 (Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1981) (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48291)

Moss, Bobby Gilmer. The loyalists in the siege of Fort Ninety Six (Blacksburg, S.C.: Scotia-Hibernia Press, 1999.

Online Tour Stop 11 - Star Fort (http://www.nps.gov/nisi/learn/photosmultimedia/online-tour-stop-11.htm)

Our Loyalist Ancestors, by members of the Halifax-Dartmouth Branch of UELAC in 1983; made available online in 2015 by Brian McConnell, UE, Nova Scotia Branch (http://www.uelac.org/Loyalist-Info/extras/MISC-MULTI/OLA83.pdf)

Patriot siege of Ninety Six, South Carolina, begins (http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/patriot-siege-of-ninety-six-south-carolina-begins)

The Revolutionary War in South Carolina (http://sciway3.net/clark/revolutionarywar/index.html)

South Carolina Townships, 1731-1765, map
(http://www.southern-style.com/Write%20Life/South%20Carolina%20and%20Fort%20Mims.html)

Tarleton, Banastre. A History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781 in the Southern Provinces of North America (London: Printed for T. Cadell, in the Strand, 1787) (via Google Books)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

My Canadian Branches ~ Willie Bleakney Drowns in North River



Five young men in their twenties took advantage of a beautiful early June afternoon in 1892, and were swimming in the North River, at Victoria Mills, in Westmorland County, New Brunswick. It wasn't a break from school they were celebrating, as these youths were farmers' sons, warm from wearing their Sunday best, and dreading the morrow, when another day of late spring planting waited for them.


It would be a day that four of them, and their families, would always remember, and wish they could forget. With the braggadocio of most young men of their age, none of them confessed to the level of their swimming ability.  Showing off spoke far louder than words, indeed. So, it wasn't long before the more able of the five were matched against the new initiates, and the dreaded result.

 


Amidst all the shouting, laughing, and cavorting, it was not immediatly noticed that Willie was gone. Perhaps he had run up on the bank to take a breath, or was playing a prank on the rest of them. Minutes sped by like seconds, and the reality began to dawn. Willie had not dared to confess that he didn't know how to swim. The river was very deep once you swam out too far.

Two of the boys ran to the nearest farmhouse for help, screaming to neighboring farm help and families in wagons as they ran. The remaining boys stayed at the riverbank to mark the spot where Willie had last been heard and seen. Several families rallied to their calls, and gathered along the river to assist in the search.  It would take all of them eight long agonizing hours before finding Willie's limp body.

Willie's father, also named William, would have the heart-wrenching task of signing his only surviving son's death certificate, hastily correcting "William" to "Willie", thankful that his son's mother, Mary, had not lived to witness such a loss. 





On Tuesday next, The Saint John Daily Telegraph ran the following, dateline Moncton, June 13:

William BLEAKNEY, age 20, only s/o William A. BLEAKNEY of Steeves Settlement (West. Co.) was drowned in Main's mill pond at North River yesterday. The unfortunate young with four companions was bathing and being unable to swim got beyond his depth and sank before assistance could be extended to him by his comrades. The body was recovered after about eight hours search. The deceased's family consists of his father and two sisters living.

And, on Wednesday, the Albert County Maple Leaf  ran this, dateline Salisbury (West Co.):

Word reached here Monday of the drowning at Victoria Mills, of a young man while bathing on Sunday. The young man was a son of William BLEAKNEY, Victoria Mills in this parish.

It wasn't until almost ten day later that young Willie was laid to rest, although the location of his grave has yet to be found. This notice of his funeral was published by the Kings County Record in Sussex:

The funeral of Willie BLEAKNEY who was drowned at North River took place Tuesday morn. He was buried by Christel Lodge, I.O.G.T. of which he was a member.*

Willie Bleakney was my 3d cousin, 4x removed. I was able to glean quite a bit of family history from the above documents, while a few questions remain.

What I learned:

  • Willie's approximate birth date
  • Willie's birthplace
  • Willie's death date and death place
  • Willie's father's name
  • Willie's mother, older brother, and two of his four sisters predeceased him
  • Where Fawcett Hill, Wheaton Mills, and Victoria Mills are located

What I would like to find:

  • Willie's grave
  • The remaining information on the rest of his immediate family

I.O.G.T. stands for International Organisation of Good Templars, a temperance organization, which still exists in many countries today.

*********

Three years ago this week, our family lost my sister's second child, Kerry James Queen, accidently and suddenly, at the same age as this ancestor.
 I wrote this story with Kerry
 in my heart.

*********

Photo credit:

"Boys At The Beach"
Albert Edwin Roberts [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
(http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABoys-at-the-beach-r.jpeg)

Sources:


Daniel F. Johnson's New Brunswick Newspaper Vital Statistics, 1784-1890, Vol. 81, No. 1972. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada. http://archives.gnb.ca/. Accessed  4/20/2015.

Daniel F. Johnson's New Brunswick Newspaper Vital Statistics, 1784-1890, Vol. 82, No. 1598. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada. http://archives.gnb.ca/. Accessed  4/20/2015.

Daniel F. Johnson's New Brunswick Newspaper Vital Statistics, 1784-1890, Vol. 84, No. 202. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada. http://archives.gnb.ca/. Accessed  4/20/2015.

New Brunswick. Dept. of Health and Social Services. Vital Statistics from Government Records (RS141), Provincial Returns of Deaths (RS141C4), Reference C4/1892, Microfilm F14021. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada. (http://archives.gnb.ca/. Accessed  and downloaded 4/20/2015).

"New Brunswick Provincial Deaths, 1815-1938," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XG4P-HYD : accessed 20 April 2015), Willie A Bleakney, 12 Jun 1892; citing Wheaton Mills, Westmorland, New Brunswick, certificate 001204, Provincial Archives, Fredericton; FHL microfilm 1,944,029.



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Canadian Branches ~ The Loss of Charles and Nancy Creelman's Children



Charles Creelman, my first cousin 6x removed, married Agnes "Nancy" Johnson in 1849, and settled on property he inherited from his father in Springside, Upper Stewiacke, Nova Scotia. From 1850 to 1870, they welcomed four sons and six daughters. But it is not the births of these children that is notable, but a definite pattern in their deaths.

The FTM Timeline Report for Charles, showing family events as well, indicated the span of years, from 1871 to 1892, when these children, at the dawn of their lives, confronted death.



What this report does not reveal, but further research does, is that:

  • Daughter Mary Ann died at age 19, unmarried
  • Son Frederick died at age 22, unmarried
  • Daughter Maggie died at age 19, unmarried
  • Daughter Hannah died at age 29, unmarried
  • Daughter-In-Law Elizabeth "Jane" (Tupper) died at age 24
  • Daughter Ellen died at age 25, unmarried, and
  • Daughter Martha (Creelman) Nickerson died at age 34

All of these young people were buried in Pembroke Cemetery in Upper Stewiacke, where their parents were also laid to rest.




Mary Ann Creelman's Grave
Frederick Creelman's Grave
Maggie Creelman's Grave
Hannah Creelman's Grave
{No photo of Jane Tupper Creelman's Grave available}


Ellen Creelman's Grave
Martha Creelman Nickerson's Grave
Charles and Nancy Creelman's Graves




Who knows what epidemic or pestilence swept through the Stewiacke Valley during this period to take these young lives. There is evidence of an influenza plague that threatened North America during this period. Perhaps that is the explanation. Or, perhaps a genetic medical condition, that was apt to strike down people in their '20's, was the cause. Was it consumption for all? Mary Ann died of it, now known as tuberculosis. How tragic it must have been to watch such young folks pass on.





Photo credits:

I am indebted to 3rd cousin, 1x removed, Richard Graham, for taking the headstone pictures in Pembroke Cemetery for CanadaGenWeb's Cemetery Project.


Sources:


Cemetery records; Colchester Historical Society Museum Archives, Truro, Nova Scotia (http://colchesterhistoreum.ca/search/)

GeneJane's Roadmap to Colchester Families (www.genejane.com).

Miller, Thomas. Historical and genealogical record of the first settlers of Colchester County, down to the present time, compiled from the most authentic sources. (1873).

Nova Scotia.  Historical Vital Statistics.  Registration Year 1871, Book 1804, Page 574, Number 118. Mary Ann Creelman. (https://www.novascotiagenealogy.com/ItemView.aspx?ImageFile=1804-57&Event=death&ID=8356 : accessed 25 March 2015).




Thursday, February 26, 2015

My Canadian Branches ~ The 3 Wives of Jacob Beck (1850-1938)



The main reason I wanted to talk to first cousin, 2x removed, Virginia Beck Golding in 2000 was to pick her memories of my Smith line. 72 years old back then, she came to our hotel room in Moncton, and told vivid stories of my great grandfather, the Baptist preacher, Wylie Herbert Smith, her Uncle Wylie. She really got my genealogy juices flowing 15 years ago. 

So, naturally, I am returning to her place in my Beck lineage and the information she passed on to me that evening in Moncton and in subsequent correspondence.

True to form, her father, Joseph Alexander Beck, married a Smith, my great grand aunt Estella Angelina Smith, in 1907. And it is with Joseph and Estella's marriage record that the puzzle presents itself.




The marriage record gave Joseph's parents, at the time of his marriage, as "Jacob & Late Charlotte Beck." This told me that Charlotte was deceased by 1907, but I still didn't have her maiden name. It took Joseph's death record to find it.

 

Now I had Charlotte's maiden name. It was Mattix. My cousin, "Mrs. Alden Golding." was the informant of her father's death.

The 1881 Census of Canada shows Jacob's first wife, spelled as "Sharlot," as well as Joseph's three older sisters, Alberta, Anna, and Orpa. Joseph was born two years later in 1883.




Sadly, a 1928 transcription of the graves in the Elgin Baptist Burial Ground, aka the Old Elgin Cemetery, lists Charlotte, wife of Jacob, Jr. d. 1887, ae 27 years. 

Two years later, Jacob married for a second time, this time to Priscilla Capson.



A child was born to Jacob and his second wife in the fall of 1889, and named Lottie Jane. Unfortunately, Lottie Jane only lived about a year, and her cause of death was particularly poignant, "The Lord wanted her."



A more "scientific" explanation of her death was deduced when her mother Priscilla's death occurred 17 days later. She had been suffering from "Consumption" (modern day Tuberculosis) for about 8 months. She was 24 when she died.


It was another two years before Jacob married again, and this time it was probably a practical close-to-home choice. He married Priscilla's younger sister Minnie.

Soon after marrying, Jacob and Minnie (Minerva Bernice) moved across the nearby border to the States. The 1900 US Census shows them living in Calais, Maine, with 3 of their 6 children born there.





Minnie Beck outlived Jacob, who died on August 20, 1938. Minnie died two years later in 1940, and is buried with Jacob in Oak Bay Cemetery, Oak Bay, Charlotte County, New Brunswick.



Oak Bay Cemetery
http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nbstdavi/photooakbaycem.html

Sources:

1881 Census of Canada; Census Place: Elgin, Albert, New Brunswick; Roll: C_13177; Page: 63; Family No: 253.

1900 US Census; Census Place: Calais, Washington, Maine; Roll: 601; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 0198; FHL microfilm: 1240601.

Kanner, Ken and V. Bing Geldart, Marriages Register 1846-1887, Albert County (1984), Ref. 1625, p.91.

New Brunswick. Dept. of Health and Social Services. Index to Death Certificates (RS141C5), Reg. 4927, Vol. 220, Microfilm F20848. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada. http://archives.gnb.ca/. Accessed  and downloaded 5/28/2012.

New Brunswick. Dept. of Health and Social Services. Index to New Brunswick Marriages (RS141B7), No. 1144, Code B4/1907, Microfilm F15925. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada. http://archives.gnb.ca/. Accessed  and downloaded 5/28/2012.

New Brunswick. Dept. of Health and Social Services. Vital Statistics from Government Records (RS141), Index to New Brunswick Marriages (RS141B7), No. 45, Code B4/1889, Microfilm F13388. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada. http://archives.gnb.ca/. Accessed and downloaded 1/25/2015.

New Brunswick. Dept. of Health and Social Services. Vital Statistics from Government Records (RS141), Index to County Death Registers (RS141C1), Code C1b, Page 9, Line 73, Microfilm F13391. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada. http://archives.gnb.ca/. Accessed  and downloaded 2/7/2015.

"New Brunswick Provincial Deaths, 1815-1938," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-159391-991320-5?cc=1840147) : accessed 25 January 2015), 004529710 > image 721 of 1211; Provincial Archives, Fredericton.

"New Brunswick Provincial Deaths, 1815-1938," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-159391-991517-76?cc=1840147) : accessed 25 January 2015), 004529710 > image 722 of 1211; Provincial Archives, Fredericton.