Sunday, September 16, 2012

Genealogy research stepped on toes?

So at this point in time my major research project (for my own ancestors) is the Richardson family that hails from western New York (Ontario/Livingston/Allegany/Monroe counties).  The progenitor of the family is Jonathan (I) Richardson, who appears to have been born c.1743 and died between 1821 and 1829, in Livonia, Livingston Co, New York.

I descend from two of his children: Joseph and John.  John appears to not have had a lot to do with the family that came to Livonia: he moved to the town of Canadice and that is where he raised his family and where his son William raised his family.  However, John's daughter Elizabeth married her first cousin, Rufus Richardson, son of Joseph.

Earlier this week I was searching on the Internet to see if anyone had done research on Joseph's youngest son, William Harrison (William Henry Harrison) Richardson, who was born in Livonia, New York, on 26 January 1814, a little less than a month after his father died in the War of 1812 at the Battle of Black Rock.[1]  A family history written by my great-great grandmother states that he went to Wisconsin.[2]

I had seen family trees for a William Henry Harrison Richardson who married Emily Boynton/Boyington and took a gander at the available records for the family.  I was really beginning to think that I had finally found the missing William HH Richardson. All the census records said that William, his wife Emily, and their first three children, all boys, were born in New York between 1838 and 1844, but gave no specific location.  And as I was looking at trees, I stumbled across one that had a set of parents for William HH Richardson that didn't match my hypothesis of William HH Richardson being Joseph's son. This tree had William living in Essex Co, New York in 1830 and 1840 - a place across the entire state of New York from my Richardsons.

So I wrote the compiler of the tree and asked some questions about why he had concluded that William was part of the Essex Co, NY family group rather than the Monroe Co, NY group. I also had a William Richardson in Monroe Co, NY in the 1840 census that fit the known makeup of the family, and was probably the son of my Joseph. I did get a reply back, which I appreciated, but nothing regarding why the Essex Co, NY group appeared stronger than the Monroe Co, NY group.  So I emailed again, asking very pointed questions.

And then, I started thinking. How would I be able to get at least some idea of where any of these people were born? That would at least give some confirmation of a general location and probably set me on the right path. The middle child, William Henry Harrison Richardson Jr, had served in the Civil War. Perfect! Maybe his enlistment papers would have his birthplace! But, unfortunately, that would mean ordering the file from the National Archives and waiting, and, I'll be honest, paying more money this month on genealogy. So, step two: did WHH Richardson Jr get a pension for his service? Bingo! He died in the war, and his wife got a pension.[3]


Fold3.com image of William H.H. Richardson pension index card

Looking at the index card on Fold3.com, I saw that the pension dated to 1865, just after the end of the war. With such an early pension and a low certificate number, would the pension itself be on Fold3, in the Widow's Pension files currently being digitized?

Bingo again!

Euphemia (Clark) Richardson's complete pension file, dating from 1865 to the 1920s, was online. YAY. But would it have anything in it to suggest a birthplace for William? I was not hopeful - after all, the idea was the prove more about the widow and her connection to the soldier than anything about the soldier himself.

But again, luck struck. A deposition from the county clerk of the county in which William and Euphemia married included all the data included in their marriage record, including the parents' names of both, and the birthplace of William HH Richardson Jr - Greece, New York.[4] And where is Greece? Monroe Co, New York.

Fold3.com image of page 8 of the William H H Richardson widow's pension.

Additional evidence that William HH Richardson of Waukesha Co and Juneau Co, Wisconsin is the same as the William Harrison Richardson, son of Joseph and Abigail, includes the fact that William of Wisconsin named his first son Rufus, a name used throughout multiple branches of Joseph and Abigail's family.

Also, a transcription of the tombstone of William HH Richardson (an image is found online at Find-A-Grave but the age is no longer part of the stone)[4], gives a calculated date of 27 Jan 1810. While the year is not correct, a date being a day off is not that uncommon.

Well, after thinking this through, I re-emailed the person I write previously with this evidence thinking it would help my case. And haven't heard back from him. Oops. I am not trying to step on toes, I am trying to working on this (extremely large) documentation project. I'm pretty sure we are cousins and I'd like to collaborate, but we shall see.


[1] Compiled military service record, Joseph Richardson Jr, Pvt., Capt. Gould Tyler’s Company, Blakeslee’s Regiment, New York Volunteers, War of 1812; Carded Records, Volunteer Organizations, War of 1812; Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780s-1917, Record Group 94, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

[2] Richardson Family History (MS, no date), privately held by Sara Gredler, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Austin, Texas, 2012. Untitled, this handwritten narrative was written by Lillian (Hunt) Shepard, and covers two generations of Richardson descendants.

[3]Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900, compiled 1949 - 1949, documenting the period 1861 - 1942, National Archives series T289, microfilm roll 620, entry for William H H Richardson, digital image, "Civil War and Later Veterans Pension Index," Fold3.com, http://fold3.com :  accessed 16 September 2012.

[4] Deposition of Juneau County, Wisconsin clerk for proof of marriage, 24 May 1865, part of Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Veterans of the Army and Navy Who Served Mainly in the Civil War and the War With Spain, compiled 1861 - 1934, Application number WC56984, soldier William H H Richardson, widow Euphemia (Clark) Richardson, Company B, 38th Wisconsin Infantry, digital images, Fold3.com, original located at the National Archives, Washington, D.C.

[5] http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~knemeyer/10662.htm

(c) Sara Gredler, 2012.
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