Sunday, May 19, 2013

Finding John Powell - 1 possibility down

One of my current projects is identifying all the descendants of Jonathan Richardson, the man I call "the progenitor" of my Richardson family in western New York. He came to Ontario Co, NY between 1803 and 1810 with (probably) four sons.

One of those sons, Jonathan (II) Richardson, had a daughter named Rhoda. Rhoda Richardson married Rowland Powell and had at least five children. The second-to-last known child and last son was named William Ryder Powell, and he seems to have a bit of a bad guy. (More on him as a person to come later.)

William Ryder Powell married (or at least had a somewhat long term relationship with) a woman named Mary Martin. Mary Martin was born in Ireland about May 1826, probably in the small parish of Youghalarra in County Tipperary where her known brothers and sisters were baptized. Her parents were Malachi/Malachy Martin and Margaret O'Brien (Brien). I have not been able to find when Mary Martin emigrated to the United States.

Their first child, Mary Adelia Powell, was born in Livonia, Livingston Co, New York, probably around May of 1848 (though her obituary gives her birth date as 22 May 1846, all of the previous records give year of birth around 1848 rather than 1846). This also gives the latest emigration date for Mary Martin as approximately nine months before May 1848 (or 1846) - around July of 1847 or 1845.

The only census that has William Ryder and Mary (Martin) Powell enumerated together is the one from 1850; Mary appears alone with three children in the 1855 New York State census: Mary A, aged 6; William I, aged 4; and Luceria A, aged 2, as well as a cousin, Margaret Hogan. The 1855 census also states that Mary (Martin) Powell had lived in Livonia, New York, for 12 years and that she was an alien. (William Ryder Powell was a natural-born American.) That gives a latest emigration date for Mary Martin as 1842-1843.



In 1860 Mary (Martin) Powell has two children with her in her household: 7-year-old Lucera and 2-year-old John. William appears to have died and Mary Adelia is living in another household working as a domestic. I have not been able to find John in the 1865 New York State census. In 1870 he is living with his mother, Mary, in Livonia, and by 1875 Mary (Martin) Powell has married a man named Michael Tone and John is living in their household, listed as a step-son to Michael Tone. John is enumerated as working on the Erie railroad.

And where is John after that? In the 1900 census, Mary (Martin) Powell Tone's enumeration states that she has had four children and that three are still living. That appears to imply that John Powell is still living.

The web becomes further tangled as the history of William Ryder Powell is examined. According to his obituary, William Ryder Powell was not the nicest of people. He was shot to death (supposedly in self-defence) in 1904 in California. The obituary also states, "He was arrested, tried and convicted [for horse stealing], and our informant is quite sure that his sentence to Auburn prison was for a term of five years. After he got out of prison, which was something like thirty-five or forty years ago, he drifted to California...."  This gives some dates for William Ryder's incarceration at Auburn: released between 1864 and 1869, with a five year sentence, gives his incarceration beginning dates of between 1859 and 1864. However, records for this period at Auburn do not survive. It is, of course, possible, that these dates are off, and maybe as many of five years on either side.

The probate completed in 1904 and 1905 by his daughter, Mary Adelia (Powell) Sheldon, states that her father purchased land in California and was unmarried when he did so, and gives his only surviving heirs as two daughters: Mary Adelia (Powell) Sheldon and Lucera (Powell) Crane (I'll come back to this one, too).

So what happened to John Powell? Was he really William Ryder Powell's son? Where is he in subsequent censuses after 1875?

I thought I had found a candidate - a John H Powell married a woman named Kitty Dempsey in Rochester, NY in 1886. He worked on the railroad, was approximately the right age, and his mother was born in Ireland. I was lucky in that I had already ordered a roll of microfilm from the FHL of Rochester and vicinity church records for another purpose!


On 26 April 1886 John H Powell married Catherine "Kitty" Dempsey at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Rochester, New York. John H Powell was the son of Samuel Powell and Elizabeth Kennedy. Catherine was the daughter of Bernard Dempsey and Catherine Costello.

And there went that hypothesis popped.

So what happened to John Powell? I'm still looking.

I'm also still looking for Lucera (Powell) Crane/Ware too: she signs her name as Lucera Crane in the probate documents, her death certificate gives her name as Lucera Ware, and I can't find anything on her under either name. Supposedly, according to online family trees, she married a man named John Ware and they had two children (before 1904 when she signs her name as Lucera Crane), but I am still trying to follow that up.


[If sources are desired, please comment or send an email. I would be happy to oblige.]
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