Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Britton Line of Ancestory



Cecil C. BAVIN (1893-1927)/Dollie Lucy BRITTON(1889-1974)

Orendo Wilber BRITTON (1852-1017)/Angelia Elizabeth SLOAN (1857-1923)

Lucius BRITTON (1807-1883)/Phebe HART (1809-1860) *1

Benjamin BRITTON (1769-1857)/Sarah (Maiden name not known.)

William (IV) BRITTON *2 (ABT 1733-1778)/Mary LATHAM (1744-1827)*3

William (III) BRITTON (ABT 1700-1783)/Sarah WOODWARD (????-1795)

William (II) BRITTON (ABT 1671-1725)/Lydia LEONARD (1679-1773)

William (I) BRITTON *4(BEF 1655-????)/Mary PENDLETON(ABT 1652-1732)

*1 Moved from Vermont to Michigan.
*2 William (IV)Britton served in the Revolutionary War
*3 Mary Lathem's family is traced back to the Chilton Mayflower family.
*4 It is the parentage of William (I) BRITTON that was the focus of the "Origins of the New England, Westmoreland, NH, Brittons" discussion posted earlier.


History of Westmoreland (Great Meadow) New Hampshire, 1741-1970, And Genealogical Data; Westmoreland History Com., Westmoreland, NH; (1976); pgs. 348 - 355, 486 - 488; (Cheshire Co., NH)

Vital Records of Taunton, Massachusetts to the Year 1850, Vol II Marriages; NEGS, Boston Mass; (1928) pg. 69-70

Marriage Record of William Britton & Mary Latham, Aug. 10, 1766, Westmoreland, N.H.

Britton Family Records; Un-published records and notes collected, verified and compiled by Carol M. Newcomer.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Origins of the New England, Westmoreland, NH, Brittons

Compiled and edited by Bill Newcomer, January, 1998.

(Originally published on Rootsweb. In going over this for publication here, I realized this may appear as a somewhat disjointed summery outline to someone not familiar with our Britton genealogy or New England genealogy. I apologize for that, but also believe this discussion illustrates some of the pitfalls of genealogical research.)

The following is a discussion of our Britton origins that took place via e-mail between Valerie Phillips Gildehaus, Donald Britton Miller, and Bill Newcomer. The discussion does not so much decide what our Britton origins are, but looks at three theories and why they are inadequate and we do not accept them. We recognize there are other theories regarding our Britton origins not discussed here.

Preliminary agreement

The parties to this discussion have not raised any question about the relationship of our New England Britton lines to William Britton and his wife, Mary Pendleton, through their son William (II) Britton and his wife, Lydia Leonard. The question and focus of this discussion of our Britton origins is:

"Who was the father of the William Britton who married Mary Pendleton?"

I. Theories of the Family Origins

"Exploratory Material on Britton Origins"; Elsie (Chickering) Brown; August 1976

This material by Elsie Brown does a very good job of setting forth the different theories of the family origins. The relative merits of these theories are discussed below in context of analysis of the sources. The main theories are as follows:

  1. The James Britton Origin: The family descends from one of the two James Britton's found in early records of Mass. The most probable candidate is the James Britton of Woburn who married the widow Jane Eggleston. This theory says James and Jane Britton are the parents of the William Britton who married Mary Pendleton, and there was another son named Peter.

  2. The Rhode Island Britton’s: There is record of a William Britton who was governor of the Rhode Island Colony in 1666-1668. This William was Elsie Brown’s favorite candidate for being the father of the William Britton who married Mary Pendleton.

  3. The Maryland William Britton: A William Bretton settled in Maryland in 1637 and had a young son named William. This theory speculates that the son, William was the William Britton that married Mary Pendleton.

II. The Sources & Analysis

Genealogical Dictionary: Vol I "A-C"; James Savage; (BFR 1868?) ; page 257

Lists two James Britton's in early 1600's Mass.

1) A James Britton was hanged for adultery on Mar. 21, 1644. (A vivid account of this is cited by Elsie Brown.)

2) The James Britton who died in Woburn May 3, 1655. No mention of wife or children.

"The History of Woburn, Middlesex County, Mass."; Samuel Sewall, Wiggin & Lunt, Boston; 1868

In Appendix No. I, pg 529 is a copy of the Orders for Woburn (1640) with James Britton listed as one of the subscribers. In the Appendix on Genealogical notices he mentions James Britton, the material is an almost exact copy of Savage who Sewall cites as one of his sources. He does mention James Britton's wife married Isaac Cole ABT 1658. No mention of any children.

Sewall must have had access to some of the early work of Savage. Indications are from a catalog listing noted by Donald B. Miller, that Savage's work was done over a time period from about 1860 to 1884.

Bill Newcomer's notes:

"...on page 183 Sewall makes a comment that I believe has direct bearing on our discussion of Britton origins.

He is speaking of a Major Convers and of his work as Town Clerk of Woburn. Here is a summery of what was said about Major Convers' work as Town Clerk.

He noticed his predecessors had recorded births, marriages, and deaths on various loose pages of paper that were in sad shape and about to perish. Convers at his own expense bought a blank folio volume, well bound, and transcribed the records, and doing a valuable service in preserving them for posterity. By this work and that of his successor some 50 years of records were preserved. To give time context, this in the latter part of the 1600's.

If a William or Peter Britton was born in Wolburn, we have some very good expectation that the record of that birth was preserved. It is possible there may have been a fragment Convers was not able to transcribe that may have contained records of James & Jane Britton's children, but I struggle with making any claim on the probability of that."

Valerie Phillips Gildehaus comments (Jan, 10, 1998):

"This is the kind of thing that has always bothered me about the James Britton theory. The Woburn History, written before Edward Britton's book in 1901, makes no mention of sons William and Peter.

The Peter issue has always bothered me, too. If Edward Britton just listed a son William, I would assume he just found a likely Britton of the right age, and declared him to be William's father. The addition of Peter makes me think he had some source for this - but what?? I have never found a Peter Britton in any other records."

Donald Britton Miller notes (January 10, 1998):

"I examined the Microfiche which came today and there is no record of births to a Britton in Woburn! [This is as we suspected from other sources.] There is only one marriage and it is Jane's to Cole."

Lewis Fales Britton Manuscript (1822 - 1902)

His great-grandfather was Ebenezer Britton (1715 - 1788). Lewis says Ebenezer's father's name was William. There is then a somewhat cryptic statement that appears to say that this William's father and grand-father were also named William. Taken at face value this means the father of the William Britton who married Mary Pendleton was also named William and not James.

Valerie Phillips Gildehaus comments:

"This may be confused with his maternal line which included 3 Wm.'s in a row prior to Lewis's gr. grandfather Robert Britton."

Bill Newcomer comments:

"Lewis's father and mother were third cousins; her maiden name also being Britton. The document is suggestive, but not at all conclusive due to the maternal connection as noted by Valerie."

Britton Genealogy as pub. by Edward Earl Britton & Caroline Amelia Parker, Jan. 1 , 1901

This work contains the earliest note of James and Jane (Eggleston) Britton having two sons, William and Peter. The son, William is identified as the William Britton who married Mary Pendleton.

Valerie Phillips Gildehaus said (December, 1987):

"In the section on James Britton, Edward cites two sources -Savage and Charlestown Genealogies. These do list James Britton and a wife, but do not mention any sons." (Our copy of the Savage citation confirms the first part. Moffatt concurs with Valerie regarding the Charlestown Genealogies.)

"Edward Britton was not even able to identify his own gr. grandfather, Luther Britton, correctly. He apparently just found a Luther Britton and assumed that was his Luther. Edward's Luther was not son of Ebenezer, but a son of John and grandson of Pendleton (brother of Ebenezer). Edward Britton's line appears to be correctly given in the Westmoreland History and in the computer printout Don sent."

Donald Britton Miller concurs regarding the Luther Britton error per his comments, citing Edward Britton's notes on Luther Britton:

"From this connection which is in direct conflict with the Westmoreland History & Genealogy [ as it relates to LUTHER, son of Ebenezer], his whole Britton line descends.] He claims that his Luther was the 11th son [I think 12th, D. B. M.] of Ebenezer Britton 1715-1788, my relative.

12/28/96 ...... I have found the source of the problem/conflict which made me think that Edward Earl had created a new wife for Luther to create a genealogical file. There is another Luther, son of John Britton and Phebe Hewitt, son of Pendleton and Hannah Sills. Pendleton was the son of William & Mary Pendleton and this William was the son of James Britton."

New England Families Genealogical, Vol III, (1915)

Page 1373, regurgitates the James & Jane, Peter & William connection, and apparently the Luther Britton error.

Donald Britton Miller's notes regarding the Edward Britton's Luther Britton error:

"I discovered the error in Edward's work and tried to inform people about it. The author of the David Freeman book also discovered the error about Luther's. But errors live on and get copied over and over. I informed NEHGS and put info on line about the error ... but no one cared!"

Lineage of Winchester (IV) Britton; Hereditary Member of the Plantagenet Society (Date not known)

Bill Newcomer's notes:

"This chart repeats the Edward Britton error connecting Sebra Winchester Britton to Luther, son of Ebenezer, instead of to Luther son of John Britton, son of Pendleton.

A preliminary analysis of that part of the chart dealing with generations before 1600 indicates data doesn't fit with data on Paul McBride's WWW pages on the English lines of nobility. The chart lists "Sampson Leonard" where we would expect "Henry Leonard" (See Daniel Britton Ancestry Chart.)

This chart is clearly based on the Edward Britton genealogy. Edward was Winchester Britton (III)'s brother. The chart appears to have been compiled by Edyth Clements (Shiply) Britton, Winchester (III)'s wife. She claims to be a "Magna Charta Dame". This is Moffatt's "Mrs. Winchester Britton" (Moffatt & Gilbert, page 38.)

This chart's intent is to show the Leonard connection to the Britton lines and doesn't have any Britton information earlier then William & Mary (Pendleton) Britton's son William who married Lydia Leonard. I am including the analysis of this chart here because I believe it reflects the somewhat casual attitude of the Winchester Britton family towards genealogical research, and thus reflects the relative lower degree of reliability to be given to Edward Britton's work."

"The Ancestors of Daniel Freeman Britton" by Eva L. Moffatt and Geoffrey Gilbert (1953)

Bill Newcomer's notes:

"Moffatt didn't realize there were two James Britton's in early Mass. Confuses the Woburn James Britton with the "hanged" James Britton.

She apparently did not have time to fully explore the Winchester Britton Chart that is mentioned on page 38. If she had, she would not have thought Mrs. Winchester Britton to be "an alert family historian,.." (See notes on Winchester Britton Chart above.) This false lead came from Mrs. Britton's being born in Baltimore, Maryland, and thus the Winchester Britton Charts being given to the Maryland Historical Society. Moffatt's preliminary thought was that maybe the Winchester Britton material might have information connecting the Westmoreland, NH Britton's to the Maryland James Britton.

Moffatt says regarding James Britton of Woburn (page 37):

"..A careful examination of the wills and deeds of Middlesex and Sussex counties, Mass., has failed to bring to light any son of James and Jane, and there is no record of any sons in the vital statistics of Woburn, Charlestown, or Boston."

Valerie Phillips Gildehaus agrees with Moffatt (December, 1997):

"I have found nothing published or written prior to 1901 that mentions anything about either of the early James Britton's having sons Peter and William. My cousin Linda and I spend quite a bit of time at Newberry Library searching for anything prior to 1901 that documents this. Everything published after 1901 that lists these sons has the same information that Edward Britton gave."

Moffatt says regarding the Maryland William Britton:

"A family record which has come down to Charles Ebenezer Shelley of Albany, N.Y.. states that the father of our William was also William." She then mentions the William Britton of Maryland as a possibility.

Bill Newcomer's notes regarding the Maryland Britton Theory:

"In reviewing the Maryland Historical Magazine, Vol 50, (1955) article on William Bretton of Newtown Neck, I find some of my initial reservations being reinforced.

The clue in this article is the account of William Bretton's devout Catholicism. Thus my reservations follow along two lines:

1. Is it reasonable to expect a son of a wealthy respected man in Maryland to leave the mild climate of Maryland for the harsher climate of New England and with no apparent evidence he took much, if any of his father's wealth with him? I suppose this is possible, but don't believe it probable.

2. Is it reasonable to expect a man brought up in a devoutly Catholic home to leave a place where Catholicism was more then just tolerated, (the Maryland colony was established for Catholics), and go to a Puritan Congregationalist New England that was very "anti-papist"? Possible? Yes. Probable? No. On top of all that is the acknowledged silence about William Bretton's son, William. No more is heard. The most probable conclusion is he died young.

On this basis I would respectfully suggest that, unless other evidence is found, the Maryland-Bretton theory of the origins of our New England Brittons, though possible, is very improbable."

Note from Donald Britton Miller, (January 1998):

"You have done a good job of stating the reasons for rejecting that theory. In talking with Dollarhid [who is the 'expert' on migrations to the Americas, he indicates that many could not stand the closed mindedness and rules of the New England pilgrims. They were evidenced by quickly moving out to new towns. This is what James did and evidence suggests he became a Congregationalist. In the Ebenezer era there is nary a mention of Catholicism."

Valerie Phillips Gildehaus said (January, 1998):

"I, also, agree with Bill's analysis of William Britton of Maryland and his son William. The odds are extremely high that William Jr. died young without issue. William Jr.'s being the originator of our line would be a definite long-shot, however, not impossible. If the son of a prominent Catholic family met and married a Protestant from New England, this would probably be sufficient reason to never mention him again - and to ignore any children of such a union. Not likely, but these things did happen."

"Exploratory Material on Britton Origins"; Elsie (Chickering) Brown; August 1976

Bill Newcomer's notes:

It is in Elsie's materials we find mention of the Rhode Island William Britton. She cites a "..History of Middlesex Co., by Hurd (under Groton) Vol ii.." where the name is spelled "Brenton" . She also notes at the time of her writing (1976), "As yet I have been unable to find out who his descendants were, but he is my favorite candidate as father of our ancestor William Britton."

Valerie Phillips Gildehaus said (January, 1998):

"I have looked up the Rhode Island line (very briefly), and the William Britton families for this time period appear to be accounted for, so this is unlikely to be our line."

"History of Westmoreland (Great Meadow) New Hampshire, 1741-1970, And Genealogical Data"; Westmoreland History Com., Westmoreland, NH; (1976); pgs. 348 - 355, (Cheshire Co., NH)

Corrects the Luther connection error. Keeps James and Jane, citing William and Peter as sons.

Valerie Phillips Gildehaus notes (October, 1997):

"I'm quite sure that the information about James from the 1976 Westmoreland History was taken from the Edward Britton book - it's virtually identical."

"A Short History of the Brittons in America" by Maynard H. Mires, MD, pub in 1976

Source cited by Donald Britton Miller. Mires repeats the James & Jane, William and Peter connection.

III. Conclusion

Valerie Phillips Gildehaus said (December, 1997):

" I always try to get as close to the primary source as possible. It's ideal to find the same information from two independent sources. So far, everything that I have found that says James BRITTON had two sons - Peter and William - was written after the Britton Genealogy by Edward Britton, 1901. The existence of two James BRITTONs in early New England seems to be well established, as does the material on one James's wife; however, I can find nothing written prior to 1901 that lists two sons for James BRITTON. I believe all the listings of the two sons originated with the Edward BRITTON book. The problem is: Where did he get this information??? On page 7 of his book he sites two sources: Savage; and Charlestown Genealogies p.229. These sources do document what Edward BRITTON says about James and wife, but neither mention sons Peter and William. My cousin and I searched at some length to find anything prior to 1901 that mentions any Peter or William BRITTON who could possibly be these sons. When I lived near Chicago, I was able to make frequent trips to Newberry Library where there is an outstanding collection of New England material. We could find nothing to document the existence of these two sons."

Bill Newcomer concludes:

"Serious doubt has been cast on the connection of our New England Britton lines to the James and Jane (Eggleston) Britton. Where we should be able to find evidence of this connection in the early records of New England, specifically the records of Charlestown and Woburn, it is not there. Edward Britton's approach to the early genealogy of the family is suspect.

The Maryland William Bretton theory also has some difficulties not easily cast aside.

The Rhode Island theory has more plausibility but again lacks evidence. Valerie's initial investigations along that line are not encouraging.

One possibility I've not seen seriously discussed is that the William Britton who married Mary Pendleton was himself a immigrant from the British Isles. But again that is only speculation without any evidence."

Donald Britton Miller notes (January., 1998):

"I am beginning to agree with you that we must begin our line with William Britton, Sr. 1650-1680 and recognize that the connection with James is improbable. I shall plan to do that with the inclusion of a discussion of the several theories that go before. I shall sit down with Savage sometime and go through it in detail on the outside chance he says something on a different page that sheds light. I too have been through the History of Woburn and wondered that it says nothing. I have ordered Microfiche on Woburn which should list all births, deaths, and marriages. When it comes it will probably confirm what we already suspect." [As noted above, Don confirms there was no record of William or Peter in the Wolburn microfiche.]

Relationship of the participants:

Donald Britton Miller is a 5th cousin, once removed, to Valerie Phillips Gildehaus through Ebenezer Britton, and a 6th cousin, once removed, to Valerie through William (II) Britton.

Valerie Phillips Gildehaus is a 7th cousin to Bill Newcomer through William (II) Britton, and a 6th cousin, once removed, through William (III) Britton.

Bill Newcomer is a sixth cousin, once removed, to Donald Britton Miller through William (II) Britton.

Done With Geocities

With the publication in my last post of Anna Margaret (Clarke) Spade's obituary, I finished moving the Geocites pages I wanted to save to this blog. There is at least one more article I will posting here that were previously posted on Rootsweb.

At that point I will be looking to publish a number of things I've written in the past, but have not previously published.

One item I need to investigate is if my Great-grandfather George Newcomer was at Cumberland Gap during the Civil War at the same time the Britton Uncles from my mother's side of the family were. That would be a curious coincidence indeed.

Coming next is an extended discussion of the origens of our Britton side of the family originally published at Rootsweb..

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Obituary of Anna Margaret (Clarke) Spade

[ Anna Margaret (Clarke) Spade was my great-great-great grandmother on my mothers side. She was born November 20, 1822, and died October 23, 1890. She and her husband Christopher are buried in West Franklin Cemetary, Fulton County, Ohio. The following was transcribed from "Bavin Beginnings: A History of the Charles Bavin Family" compiled by Carol Sizemore and Mary Byrne (August 1994).]

Obituary of Anna Margaret (Clarke) Spade

By her Pastor, J. W. Lilly

Anna Margaret Spade, nee Clarke departed this life near West Unity, Ohio, Oct. 23rd, 1890, aged 67 years, 11 months and 3 days. The funeral service occured from the family residence, Saturday afternoon conducted by the writer.

Sister Spade was born in Cumberland County, Penn. With her parents she removed to Richland County, Ohio, where in the fall of 1842 she was united in marriage with Christopher Spade, who died two years ago. In the spring of 1843 they located to Williams County, Ohio. The country was new, but the hardships and inconveniences of a pioneer life was patiently shared with her husband, and right well did she perform her part. For forty-six years she resided on the farm about three miles northeast of West Unity. She was converted when but thirteen years of age, and united with the Church of God. In a few years she became identified with the church of the United Brethren in Christ of which she was a member nearly fifty years. She had a clear experience, and the strength of her faith in the Lord, was indicated by her ever Christian life. She was highly esteemed in the community where she live, and exerted a wide influence for good. Always interested in the salvation of others, and the welfare of her own family. Her last moments were spent in prayer and her last words were, "Children I must leave you."

She leaves seven children, twelve grand-children, one great grandchild, one sister, one brother, a large number of near relatives and many warm friends to mourn her departure. The triumphant death of this sainted mother, should be a solace to the sorrowing ones; her hallowed influence a benediction upon their lives, and an inspiration to meet her in heaven.

J. W. Lilly

Transcribed and edited by Bill Newcomer, great-great-great grandson of Anna Margaret (Clark) Spade, December, 1996. Copyright © 1996 by J. William Newcomer. All rights reserved.

Copy of will and Memorandum of Ulrich Nekoment of Hellem Twp.

[This is a transcription from a copy of the English translation from the German. My father got this English copy a number of years ago when in Pennsylvania.]

Copy of will and Memorandum of Ulrich Nekoment of Hellem Twp. [Hellem Township, York County, Pennsylvania]

Ulrich Newkoment, Hellam Twp, Aug. 18 1787, Magdalena Executor, Book "G-203"

"Book - G-203". MEMORANDUM, That Letters Testamentary with original annexed were granted to Magdalena Neukomet, one of the executors of the estate of Ulrich Newkomet late of Hellam Township, deceased. Inventory to be exhibited in the Register's Office at York on or before the eight- eenth day of September next coming, and an account or reckoning on or before the 18th. day of August next or whom thereunto legally required. Given under my hand and seal of office at York, the 10th. day of August A.D. 1787.

N.B. Benjamin Hershey the other executor having renounced.

Translation of will from the German of Ulrich Newkoment.

I Ulrich Newkoment of Hellam Township, York County find myself at present weak and infirm in body yet of sound mind and memory, and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die. Therefore I do make this 26th. day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy- seven, my last will and testament as follows;

First, it is my will that all my just debts shall be paid; and

Secondly, I give, bequeath and assign all my movable and unmoveable estate to my beloved wife Magdalena Newkomet for and during the term of her natural life, wherefore she shall mantain and school and otherwise educate the younger children as well her circumstances will admit, this I say, she is to enjoy without any disturbance or interruption of any of my children as long as she lives.

Further, it is my will after my wife's decease, such moveable goods as shall be then remaining shall be divided equally between all my children, and this my dwelling plantation I give, that is to say after my wife's decease, to such or any one of my children whichever of them shall give the most or best price for it, and the amount or price of the plantation, and also all the moveables shall be divided in equal shares amongst all of my children. My first wife's daughter Anna shall have her equal share and no more. Likewise my eldest son Christian shall have his equal share and no more, and also to all my children to each one an equal share.

Further, I do make my beloved wife Magdalena Newkomet and my trusty friend Benjamin Hershey of Lancaster County, executors of this my last will and testament, declaring this and no other to be my will and testament, done the day and year above mentioned.

Ulrich Newkomet (His mark)


Henry Strickler

Bastian Brawie

Christian Newkomet (His mark)

Copyright © 1997 by J. William Newcomer. May be copied for personal, not for profit use. All other rights reserved.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Answering His Country's Call:
George D. Newcomer

George Debolt Newcomer was born April 15, 1844 in Holmes Co., Ohio. When George was only a few weeks old, his parents, John & Naomi (Debolt) Newcomer, moved to what is now Fulton Co., Ohio, and settled on land that is now part of the City of Wauseon. It was in this context of a pioneer family of the Old Black Swamp that George grew to manhood.

On April 12, 1861, just before George's seventeenth birthday, Confederate forces opened fire on Fort Sumter. The next year, on May 28, 1862, at the age of 18, George enlisted in the Ohio Infantry 85th Regiment, Co. G, for a 3 month enlistment. This organization never reached full regimental status, and from time to time different parts of the regiment were detailed to other units. What existed of the regiment did guard duty at the prisoner of war camp compound at Camp Chase, near Columbus, Ohio.

We have a record of George transferring from the Ohio 85th to the Ohio 87th Infantry, Co. D, in June 1862. George may have latter regretted that transfer. The Ohio 87th was at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia when General Stonewall Jackson (CSA) came to visit in September 1882. The Confederate troops commanded the heights around the town, and the Union troops were soon forced to surrender. George was now a prisoner of war. At this point in the Civil War, prisoner exchanges were more common then in the latter part of the war. A day or two latter George was among those exchanged. It also helped that the term of enlistment for the 87th Regiment had already expired. I always joke with my friends that George had been a "guest" of Stonewall Jackson's for a day.

This event may have been the seed of an erroneous family story from my boyhood. The story was that George had been a prisoner of war and keep at the infamous Andersonville Confederate prison in Georgia. He did do prison camp duty at Camp Chase while with the 85th. He was a prisoner of war at Harper's Ferry, but not detained.

On June 16, 1863, about 8 months after mustering out of the 87th, George signed up for a 6 month enlistment with the Ohio 86th, Co. H. At that time the Confederate Brigadier General John Morgan was raiding through the southern parts of Indiana and Ohio. Under the command of Colonel Wilson C. Lemert, the 86th took part in the pursuit of Morgan.

Co. H of the 86th O.V.I. was from Fulton Co. One of the men in the 86th O.V.I. from the Fulton County area was Thomas Mikesell, son of William and Margaret (Bayes) Mikesell. Thomas had a first cousin, Malinda, that was to become George D. Newcomer's second wife, and mother of Guy Vernon Newcomer, my Grandfather. Another Fulton Co. pioneer family represented in Co. H was the Bayes family.

After Morgan's capture, the 86th was sent to Cumberland Gap as part of a Union force to take control of the Gap from the Confederates. At that time 3,000 Confederate prisoners were taken. The 86th stayed at Cumberland Gap for the remainder of its enlistment time. George mustered out in February 1864. We went through Cumberland Gap in 1993. At the Cumberland Gap National Park, you can still see some of the old gun emplacements up on the mountain. It is a very beautiful spot.

On August 12, 1864, we find George enlisting in the Ohio 182nd, Co. B. for a 1 year enlistment. While in the 182nd he reached the rank of Sergeant by appointment of Col. Lewis Butler on October 27, 1864, and in May 1865 reached the rank of 1st Sergeant.

It was in this regiment that George took part in one of most significant events of his military career. In November 1864, the 182nd was sent to Nashville, Tennessee where Major General George Thomas (USA) was waiting for General John Bell Hood (CSA) to come calling. General Hood was desperate. He wanted to divert Sherman's attention from his march through Georgia to the sea. Hood wanted to bust through Thomas' forces to the Ohio River, then swing east to join up with a beleaguered General Robert E. Lee in Virginia.

In the meantime, Thomas, who happened to be from Virginia, but was a staunch Unionist, was coldly calculating the destruction of Hood's army. General Sherman had confidence in Thomas, but President Lincoln and General Grant were less sure. Thomas wanted more mounted units, and was scrounging the country side for horses. Hood kept coming on, even after being mauled at the battle of Franklin and letting Schofield get away to join up with Thomas at Nashville.

Then the weather turned bad. There was an ice storm. Further delay on Thomas' part caused Grant to seriously consider replacing him. In fact the orders for doing so were on there way when on December 15, Thomas loosed the Union forces on the Confederate positions. The result was what General Sherman called the most decisive battle in the whole war. Union forces opened the battle with an attack on the Confederate right wing. The main Union assault was then made on the Confederate left flank, and it was there that the Confederates were overpowered and routed from the field. Hood's Army disintegrated under the Union onslaught. What was left of it was sent staggering back to Alabama with Union troops in hot pursuit. The Confederate Army of Tennessee ceased to exist. Hood tendered his resignation, and Thomas' place in history was secured.

Sgt. George Debolt Newcomer was there. We are told concerning the 182nd that, "The 182nd took a prominent part in the ensuing battle of Nashville, and behaved handsomely. It did not participate in the pursuit of the enemy, but was retained in Nashville, where it performed guard and provost duty up to the 7th of July, 1865." (Ohio In The Civil War, Larry Stevens' Internet WWW pages). It is not entirely clear to me if the 182nd actually faced the enemy under fire.

In my mind, George stands out among our ancestors. He was a participant in one of the most momentous, watershed events in the history of our nation. What did the young Northwestern Ohio farm boy think of when he heard about the slavery and states rights debate? News of events such as the Lincoln - Douglas debates, the Dred Scott decision, and John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, with the aid of the telegraph, would have gone all over the country in only a few days. How much of his perspective came from his Methodist upbringing? Did he go to war out of a sense of patriotism and concern for the Union, or was it more of a chance for a farm boy to get away from home and see some of the world? Unfortunately, to my knowledge, there are no surviving letters to home, or recorded memoirs. What a find for our family if such were to be found.

George DeBolt Newcomer went home and farmed. December 28, 1869 he was married to Clara Poorman. The fruit of this union was one son, Frank Melvin, born Oct. 28, 1870. Clara died May 6, 1875.

On December 19, 1875, George married Malinda Mikesell, daughter of Adam and Mary (Jones) Mikesell. The children from this marriage were; Susie Ethel, born Sept. 24, 1878, Guy Vernon, born Aug. 17, 1879, and Mary I., born July 6, 1886.

George was active in his community as well. He was a Fulton County Commissioner for seven years, and also served as a trustee for Clinton Twp. He was active in the Grand Army of the Republic, Masons, and from 1890 to his death was member of the Episcopal Methodist Church. He passed away on November 3, 1931. The Wauseon Republican announced his passing in a front page article titled:

Fine Pioneer, Brave Soldier
Kind Citizen Dead
Faithful Public Official


History of Fulton County (Ohio); Vol. I; Frank H. Reighard, Editor; Lewis Publishing Co., NY; (1920); photocopy of pages 203-205

Family Records Found in the Family Bible of John Newcomer (1809 - 1890); A two volume set of the "Cottage Bible" owned by John Newcomer & his descendants.

National Archive Records of George Debolt Newcomer, collected and copied by John M. Newcomer, Great grandson of George D. Newcomer.

Synopsis of Regimental histories of the Ohio units were taken from Larry Stevens' Internet WWW pages Ohio in the Civil War (

Local men who fought in early American Wars ; "Digging for your roots"; Jana Sloan Broglin; The Toledo Blade; May 1997; Toledo, Ohio

Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years And the War Years, Carl Sandburg, Reader's Digest, 1970

Obituary of George D. Newcomer; Wauseon Republican; November 6, 1931; Wauseon, Ohio

Compiled and written by Bill Newcomer, great-grandson of George D. Newcomer, October, A.D. 1997. Copyright © 1997 by J. William Newcomer. All rights reserved.

Pioneer Family of the Old Black Swamp:
John & Naomi Newcomer

The following material was transcribed from: History of Fulton County (Ohio); Vol I; Frank H. Reighard, Editor; Lewis Publishing Co., NY; (1920); pages 203-205. The second part of this page contains information on the Black Swamp area of Northwest Ohio which includes Fulton County.

[Editor's note: In this first part, I added some extra paragraph breaks for easier reading, and corrected a few spelling errors. I also added in a few notes enclosed in "[ ]"'s.]

This narrative starts on the bottom half of page 203.

John Newcomer and family came in 1844, and settled upon land which latter, as Newcomer's Addition, came within the boundaries of the village of Wauseon. The Newcomers were typical pioneers. John, son of Jacob, and grandson of Ulrich, was born in 1807, states the family genealogy. He married Naomi Debolt in 1831; moved to Holmes county, Ohio in 1837; and in 1844 moved "to the unsettled regions of Western Ohio, and settled in what was then Lucas, but now is Fulton county, and carved out a home from the forests where afterwards was located the town of Wauseon." He died in Wauseon fifty-six years latter, and an obituary gives the following information:

"In the early spring of 1844 he came west, purchased 160 acres of wild land where now (1890) is embraced Newcomer's Addition to Wauseon, and the Northwestern Fair Grounds, and before returning to his eastern home let a contract to clear off 3 acres of ground across the street and in front of his late residence.

In May, 1844, he loaded up a wagon with household effects, and left Holmes county for the new home in the west. The cavalcade consisted of: a covered wagon, pulled by two horses; one extra saddle horse; two cows; two or three head of young heifers; eight or ten head of sheep; father, mother, four children (one a babe of four weeks) and three other people. The trip was made in nine days."

George D. Newcomer, who is still living in Wauseon, was the babe of four weeks of that trip. He says that his mother rode the saddle horse, and presumably carried him also. The eldest of the four children was Solomen, then twelve years old. The two elder boys and their sister made the journey on foot driving the cattle and sheep. The obituary of John Newcomer continues:

"The day after that on which they landed at the William Bayes homestead, Father Newcomer and his two boys, armed with axes, grubbing hoes, and strong will, blazed a way through the wood... and in two days a quarter of an acre was cleared off. In less then three weeks a cabin with 'puncheon floor' was ready for occupancy."

John Newcomer's first log cabin was of round logs, but later he built a large hewn-log house, of two floors. That house was a stopping place for travelers. George D. Newcomer says that when the railroad was being built in 1853-54, they often had forty or fifty boarders all of whom would sleep in the one large upstairs room, sleeping on the floor, and arranging themselves as well as they could around the room, "feet to the center." The small log house was then used as a dining room. The cooking was all done on a spit, before an old-fashioned fireplace.

John Newcomer had a good part in the development of Clinton Township and of Wauseon. He held several local offices, and for nine years was a justice of the peace. "He took a leading part in the erection of the church (Methodist Episcopal) at Wauseon", and was "the first Mason made by Wauseon Lodge, on its organization, 1864."

(Newcomer Plot, Union Cem.
Wauseon, Ohio)

The golden anniversary of the wedding of John and Naomi Newcomer was held in 1881, and on that day 175 friends, most of whom were prominent residents of Fulton county, called to pay "their respects to Uncle John and his bride of fifty years ago." Mrs. Newcomer died five years later, aged seventy-two years, having lived long enough to see a remarkable change take place in the locality to which they had come in 1844.

Of their children, Solomen went to Nebraska in 1856, and in the next fifty years only visited Wauseon twice, once to attend his parent's golden wedding anniversary, and the last time in 1912. He died in Wauseon on this second visit. His life had been an adventurous one, "gold prospecting, and fighting Indians, carrying United States mails, on snowshoes over mountains and barren wastes." In his last years he lived in Idaho.

Anna, or Hester Ann, was born in Clinton Township on February 28, 1846, and was, it seems, the first white child born in what now is within the corporate limits of Wauseon. She married Wesley A. Blake, and in the marital state lived almost fifty years, her death occurring in 1913, just three weeks short of what would have been their golden wedding celebration. She was a staunch Methodist, like her mother, and was an ardent church worker.

George D. , the only surviving child of John and Naomi Newcomer still lives in Wauseon, much respected. His life record has been good. He enlisted in the spring of 1862, and discharged at the end of the war, his service including a brief term as a Confederate prisoner [Harpers Ferry, 1862]. During his life George D. Newcomer has taken useful part in Wauseon and county affairs; he was trustee of the township for six years, and for three terms was a commissioner of Fulton County. [George D. Newcomer died on November 3, 1931 in Wauseon, Ohio.]

Note on The Black Swamp Area of Northwest Ohio

In the book Heritage of the Black Swamp (compiled and written by Cynthia Harger and Norma Snyder on behalf of the Sauder Museum, Archbold, Ohio; 1978), Erie Sauder gives a description of that area west of Sandusky and north of the Maumee River, of which Fulton County is a part. At the time of the early settlement of the area in the mid 1830's it was "..over 2,000 square miles of flat, swampy, unhealthy land..." It was not until the 1850's that a massive drainage project made the place more hospitable, (and some of the richest farmland in the nation). It was the swamp that made this land so cheap that the poorer immigrants found their home here.

Harger and Snyder go on to relate more about the hard times the Black Swamp settlers faced, wolves, floods, hard back breaking work to carve out a home in the wilderness of Northwest Ohio. This is the area John and Naomi Newcomer brought their family to in 1844. They were indeed true pioneers.

Transcribed and edited by Bill Newcomer, great-grandson of George D. Newcomer, and great-great-grandson of John & Naomi Newcomer, December, 1996. Copyright © 1996 by J. William Newcomer. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Sultana Connections

The Compiling of the Sultana Passenger List.

The compiling of the last passenger list of the steamship Sultana began immediately after the tragic explosion of April 27, 1865. One of the primary sources of the list are the Memphis and St. Louis newspapers of the time (The Sultana Tragedy, Jerry O. Potter, pg 195).

In 1892, Chester D. Berry, a survivor of the Sultana, wrote Loss of the Sultana and Reminiscences of Survivors which in Potter's words, "..contained an incomplete list." Gene Salecker is to be credited for his years of research in compiling the names of the soldiers on the Sultana. That list was included in Disaster on the Mississippi : The Sultana Explosion, April 27, 1865, written by Salecker and published in 1996. Potter clearly acknowledges his debt to Salecker, and combined his own research with Gene's to produce the list that appears in the Appendix of The Sultana Tragedy published in 1997.

My Connection to the Sultana History.

My interest in the Sultana is two fold, involving family history and the history of the area of Hillsdale Co., Michigan where I grew up, Wright Twp. near the town of Waldron.

Wesley Lee, my great-great-great uncle on my father's mother's side, enlisted Aug. 19, 1862 in Co. A of the 102nd Ohio Vol. Infantry. Uncle Wesley was captured by the Confederates at Athens, Alabama on Sept. 24, 1864. He was held at Andersonville until the end of the war. He was on the Sultana when it blew up on April 27, 1865 just north of Memphis. Uncle Wesley was one of the first survivors to make it to shore that terrible night. His account of that tragic experience is told in Chester Berry's 1892 book, Loss of the Sultana, and Reminiscences of Survivors. Wesley Lee finally made it home to Holmes Co., Ohio. He did marry and he and his bride settled in Davisess County, Missouri.

Zebulon Gray, my Great-Great Uncle on my Father's mother's side, enlisted August 1884, in the 18th Michigan V.I. and was in Co. G. The Michigan 18th Reg't was recruited primarily from Hillsdale, Lenawee, and Monroe Counties. Family records indicate Zebulon was with that part of the 18th Reg't captured by the Confederates at Athens, Alabama. According to the family story, Uncle Zeb was detained at Macon, and then at Andersonville until the end of the war. His Andersonville imprisonment is confirmed by his pension records. After their release at the end of the war, a number of the 18th Reg't POW's were on the Sultana when it blew up near Memphis, TN on April 27, 1865. Don Harvey has identified 60 men from the MI 18th Reg't that were killed in that explosion. Uncle Zeb's pension records indicate he was not on the Sultana, but he would have known comrades who were. He came home and raised a family.

Phyllis Rickard, an old neighbor of mine from the Waldron, Michigan area, found in her research references to three men of the 18th MI Reg't. from what was then known as South Wright, but is now Waldron, who were on the Sultana and survived; Christian W. Abbaduska, Nathaniel Fogelsong, and Samuel Stubberfield.

At the time Phyllis and I were growing up, there were still families in that area with those last names. All three of these men came back home, and all three are buried in the Waldron Cemetery. A perusal of the rosters of the 18th MI Reg't will turn up a number of familiar last names for those whose roots go back that corner of Hillsdale Co., MI.

A memorial to the men from Michigan who died on the Sultana was dedicated on Veterans Day, November 11, 2001. The memorial is located on the Northeast corner of the County Courthouse square in Hillsdale, Michigan. I hope to have pictures of the memorial up loaded to this page in the near future.

Grave of Christian Abbaduska, MI 18th Inf, Co. F; Waldron Cemetery, Waldron, Michigan

Grave of Samuel Stubberfield, 18th MI Inf, Co. F; Waldron Cemetery, Waldron, Michigan

Grave of Nathaniel Foglesong, MI 18th Inf, Co. A; Waldron Cemetery, Waldron, Michigan

Our Family Civil War Soldiers

My great-grandfather, George Debolt Newcomer, served in several Ohio Infantry units.

My great-great-grandfather, Charles Bavin served a 3 month enlistment with the 14th Ohio Infantry,Co. E (April - August, 1861). This unit was in the battle at what is now Philippi, West Virginia. This was the first major land battles of the Civil War. The 14th OVI was involved in other battle including Corricks Ford. After the 3 month enlistment was up, the unit was again organized for a 3 year enlistment, but Charles, along with most of his comrades from the old unit, had enough of the war.

Battle of Corricks Ford, July 13, 1861. (Other sources on this battle call it "Carrick's Ford".) The 14th O.V.I. volleys against the elevated position of the 23rd Virginia while the 7th Indiana conducts a flanking movement. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper (Image courtesy of 14th OVI Re-enactment Group.)

Uncles and Cousins in The Civil War

  • Benson Gray, (Great-Great Uncle on Father's mother's side.)enlisted Dec. 24, 1862 in the 7th Michigan Cavalry; Co. F; (3 year enlistment). This unit was part of the Michigan Brigade that eventually was under the command of George A. Custer. The Michigan 7th Cavalry was involved in the operations around Gettysburg and afterwards. It was at this time, July 1883, that family records say Benson was wounded at the battle of Culpepper, and was discharged Jan. 23, 1864. In October 1864, Benson enlisted in the 18th Michigan V.I. for 1 year, and served until his discharge on June 26, 1865. (See notes below on Benson's brother, Zebulon for information on the 18th MI V.I.) Benson Gray died in Oct. 1920, and his grave is in the Woodland Cemetery in Jackson, Michigan.

  • Zebulon Gray, (Great-Great Uncle on Father's mother's side, and brother to Benson.) enlisted August 1884, in the 18th Michigan V.I. and was in Co. G. The Michigan 18th Reg't was recruited primarily from Hillsdale, Lenawee, and Monroe Counties. Family records indicate Zebulon was with that part of the 18th Reg't captured by the Confederates at Athens, Alabama. According to the family story, part of which has been confirmed from National Archive records, Uncle Zeb was detained at Macon, and then at Andersonville until the end of the war. After their release at the end of the war, some of the 18th Reg't POW's were on the Sultana when it blew up near Memphis, TN on April 27, 1865. Don Harvey has identified 60 men from the MI 18th Reg't that were killed in that explosion. Uncle Zebulon was not on the Sultana. He did come home and raised a family. Zebulon Gray died in May, 1927, and his grave is in the Forest Hill Cemetery in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

  • Wesley Lee, (great-great-great uncle on my father's mother's side) Enlisted Aug. 19, 1862 in Co. A of the 102nd Ohio Vol. Infantry. Uncle Wesley was also captured by the Confederates at Athens, Alabama on Sept. 24, 1864. He was held at Andersonville until the end of the war. Wesley was not as fortunate as Uncle Zeb Gray. He was on the Sultana when it blew up on April 27, 1865 just north of Memphis. Uncle Wesley was one of the first surviviors to make it to shore that terible night. His account of that tragic experiance is told in Chester Berry's 1892 book, Loss of the Sultana, and Reminiscenes of Survivors. Wesley Lee finally made it home to Holmes Co., Ohio. He did marry and he and his bride settled in Davisess County, Missouri.

  • Christopher Britton and his brother, William B. Britton were my great-great Uncles on my mother's side. Born in Vermont, they came with their family to Michigan in 1855. At the start of the war, both brothers enlisted in the 1st Michigan Light Artillery, Battery G known as "Lamphere's Battery". William was injured by artillery on May 19, 1863, during the operations around Vicksburg, . Christopher was wounded in the thigh during the fighting at Pt. Gibson. Both returned home to Michigan. William settled on the family farm in Ransom Twp., Hillsdale Co., Michigan. He is buried in the Evergreen (Burt) Cemetery in Ransom Twp.

    Christopher moved up to Newago Co., Michigan. We think his unmarked grave is in the Whipple Cemetery in Home Twp., Newago Co., and that has been confirmed by the copy we have of his death certificate.

  • Christopher & William had a younger brother, Quincy Britton. Quincy, born in 1848, could not have been much more then 13 or 14 when he enlisted in Co. D of the Michigan 11th Cavalry. He apparently lied about his age. After the war, Quincy became a successful businessman in Toledo, Ohio. His grave is in the Maplewood Cemetery in Toledo, Ohio. If you are a descendant of Quincy Britton,we very much would like to hear from you.

Some WWW Civil War Resources

What is This About?

A number of strands have come together that have resulted in creating this blog. This blog will be focusing on family history and geneology. Along with that, to a lesser degree, will be some focus on the local history of the area where I grew up.

The family history and stories will focus on the four families of my own ancestory; Newcomer, Gray, Bavin, and Britton, and also the families of my wife Nancy's ancestory; Williamson, Clarke, Jidov, and Morar.

The local area where I grew up is the part of Hillsdale County, Michigan known as Wright Township which includes the communities of Prattville and Waldron. One of the focal points of that local history is the Michigan 18th Infantry Regiment and that regiments connection to the steamship Sultana which in late April of 1865 exploded and sank in the Mississippi River just north of Memphis, TN.

I will be bringing together in this blog a number of things I have previosly published elsewhere on the WWW. Some of those were on my Geocities pages and with Geocities going defunct, I need a new place for those items, thus the creation of The Neukomment Files.

Neukomment is the English transliteration of the German family name we now carry as Newcomer. And with that introduction, here we go....



"Britton Family Records"; Un-published records and notes collected, verified and compiled by Carol M. Newcomer.

"Civil War Pension Records of Christopher Britton, Battery G, 1st Michigan Artillary"; National Archive records.

"Civil War Pension Records of Quincy M. Britton, Co. D, 11th Michigan Cavalry"; National Archive records.

"History of Westmoreland (Great Meadow) New Hampshire, 1741-1970, And Genealogical Data"; Westmoreland History Com., Westmoreland, NH; (1976); pgs. 348 - 355, 486 - 488; (Cheshire Co., NH)

Marriage Record of William Britton & Mary Latham, Aug. 10, 1766, Westmoreland, N.H.

"Vital Records of Taunton, Massachusetts to the Year 1850, Vol II Marriages"; NEGS, Boston Mass; (1928) pg. 69-70

"Mayflower Families Through Five Generations", Vol. Two (Robert M. Sherman, Editor; General Society of Mayflower Descendants; (1978)), pg. 84.

Civil War (General historical sources.)

"Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years And the War Years", Carl Sandburg, Reader's Digest, 1970

Civil War Battles by State (National Park Service)

Michigan in the Civil War (

Ohio in the Civil War (

"The Civil War: A Pictorial Profile"; John S. Blay; Thomas Crowell Company (New York; 1958)


"A Record of One Branch of the Newcomer Family" by James K. Newcomer (Great Grand Son of Ulrich Neukommer) Urbana, Ohio, 1882

“Early Newcomers of Lancaster County” by Virginia N. Lane, Mennonite Family History, Vol. II, No. 3; July 1983)

"History of Fulton County (Ohio)"; Vol. I; Frank H. Reighard, Editor; Lewis Publishing Co., NY; (1920); photocopy of pages 203-205

"Local men who fought in early American Wars"; "Digging for your roots"; Jana Sloan Broglin; The Toledo Blade; May 1997; Toledo, Ohio

"Family Records Found in the Family Bible of John Newcomer (1809 - 1890)"; A two volume set of the "Cottage Bible" owned by John Newcomer & his descendants.

"National Archive Records of George Debolt Newcomer", collected and copied by John M. Newcomer, Great grandson of George D. Newcomer.

Obituary of George D. Newcomer; Wauseon Republican; November 6, 1931; Wauseon, Ohio