I’ll take Potpourri (for $100)

[with apologies to Art Fleming and Alex Trebek] This post is a collection of news briefs on Williams family research – our mother’s paternal line. The first is titled:The Envelope, Please!Sometimes genealogical activity is not focused and purposef…

[with apologies to Art Fleming and Alex Trebek]

This post is a collection of news briefs on Williams family research – our mother’s paternal line. The first is titled:

The Envelope, Please!

Sometimes genealogical activity is not focused and purposeful.  It’s very easy to go off on a  web-based tangent when the harder work is overwhelming. In my study group, we’ve called it “chasing rabbits.”  

Not too long ago, for some reason, I “googled” Charles McBride, husband of Dora Williams, our 2nd great aunt.  And up popped a 2008 Williams Family forum post by David McBride, asking if anyone had information on a Charles McBride who married a Dora Williams.  I quickly pulled my Williams file and retrieved notes sent to mom, Elizabeth Williams Ruffner, by Melvin McBride, a cousin who resided in South Carolina.  Apparently, they had talked, probably on the phone, and his note was sent after that conversation.  I do not recall any other communication between the two of them and I don’t remember any Christmas cards from the McBrides (and, in our family, you know every Christmas card correspondent, but that’s a different story.)

Here’s the document and the note that accompanied it.  It’s the only scrap of evidence I have (so far) related to the death of Jesse G. Williams in 1864:

Melvin_mcbride_to_elizabeth_williams_ruffner_p1Melvin_mcbride_to_elizabeth_williams_ruffner_p2

I scanned the documents and sent them to David.  His grandfather’s name was Melvin McBride but we’re not sure if my Melvin is the same person as his Melvin.  There are a few discrepancies and it would be helpful to know when the note was written.  It’s not dated nor do I have the envelope. I’ve had the notes for years, probably decades.  It’s possible that Mom tossed the envelope or it’s possible that I thought it unimportant and tossed it myself.  (One thing we can be sure of is that, if Dad had given me the document, the neatly slit envelope would still be attached.)  I have learned from past misdeeds, though.  I save postmarked envelopes and strive to date anything I write.

[I may be carrying that to extremes — my daughter’s boyfriend did ask, “why does your mom date my birthday cards?” Answer – because you never know when it might be important.]

The note from Melvin refers to Tom D, a cousin of both Mom and Melvin.  I talked to Tom D, still residing in Sierra Blanca, Texas, for the first time not too long ago and we began an exchange of information.  He has lots of pictures and documents, some of which were gathered by his sister, Julia Mae.   Hopefully, I’ll be travelling to Texas to meet Tom in the next few months.  We’ll be able to get the Melvin McBrides sorted out and a whole lot more.

Baltimore, Arkansas

When I attended the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University in June, the very first evening I found myself sitting next to Gloria from Hempstead County, Arkansas.  That’s where brothers Jesse G. Williams and James M. Williams lived side-by-side in 1860 — just before the Civil War.  Since then, she has retrieved wonderfully helpful documents from the Arkansas State Archives, including James’ death certificate, obituary, his service record, township maps and a deed in which James sold land to Jesse.  It was a huge boost that gives me many future avenues of research.

I was able to help her, too.  She has a Baltimore line and I retrieved death certificates and a birth record for her from the Maryland State Archives.  The cemetery where her ancestors are buried is less than 15 minutes from my house.  So next I’ll be heading there to take some pictures.

It’s not unusual to meet someone in the genealogical community who is willing help with local research and retrieval.   But to establish a Hempstead County-Baltimore City/County mutual exchange on Day 1 of Samford is a story worth mentioning.

James and Jesse had a sister Named Emily

I keep my eye on the Ancestry.com feature that lets you know when another subscriber is saving records for someone that you’ve researched.  I recently got in touch with Pat, of Minnesota, who is also working on James M. Williams.  She is the descendant of Emily, sister of James and Jesse.   Emily was living next door to Jesse in 1860 – in the household of James.  Pat  (nicely) corrected my speculation that Delilah, listed in the 1850 census as a 13 year old was a cousin of James, Jesse, and Emily.  Pat says the census age is wrong and that Delilah  was actually their grandmother.  New grist for the to-do list….

That’s two maxims for today – never rely on one piece of evidence and never throw away a postmarked envelope.

I was happy to share with Pat this last bit of news.

The Original Land Patent issued to Burgess Williams

At the National Institute of Genealogical Research at the National Archives in DC in July, I delved more deeply into public land states (we don’t live in one), and for the first time, realized that Burgess Williams, the father of Jesse and James, obtained his Alabama property directly from the federal government in 1851.  He paid cash so his land entry file was not one of the genealogically juicy ones that accumulate in a credit sale but the file did contain the most important document of all.  Burgess was issued a final certificate in 1850 proving that all sale conditions had been met.  Had he turned it in to the land office, he would have received his original patent dated 1851.  But he never went back to the Sparta (AL) land office to pick it up; he died in 1852 and may have even moved to Arkansas shortly before then.  In those situations, the patent was later returned to the General Land Office (later the Bureau of Land Management) in Washington.  Burgess didn’t pick up his patent so 159 years later, I held it in his stead. Here’s a picture of the document and a duplicate of the certificate that entitled him to the patent:  

Burgess_williams_final_certificateBurgess_williams_patent

Thanks to Claire Bettag for her assistance sorting out the certificate and patent.

Local Matters, Part III and holding

In the last two posts, I detailed what I have learned about the life of 2nd great grandfather Levin Dukes from his first known appearance in Baltimore records in 1847 until his death in Georgetown in 1866. But who are Levin’s parents and where was…

In the last two posts, I detailed what I have learned about the life of 2nd great grandfather Levin Dukes from his first known appearance in Baltimore records in 1847 until his death in Georgetown in 1866.  But who are Levin’s parents and where was he born? 

Maryland is listed as his state of birth in both the 1850 and 1860 federal censuses; it is also listed as his first wife Susan’s place of birth in 1850. (1)  Twentieth-century census records for three daughters, Susan, Sarah, and Fannie, all identify Maryland as the birthplace of their father. (2) 

His age of 39 in the 1850 census, and an 1866 death notice referring to him as being in his “54th year,” suggest a birth year range of 1810 to 1813. (3)  At this point, I’m regarding the age of 40 listed in 1860 as one of those census anomalies; his age was probably provided by his twenty-four year old bride. (4)  He’s not the first man to have aged only one year in a ten-year span!

Pre-1850 federal censuses list only heads of household by name; Levin is not indexed as a head of household anywhere in 1840, when he would have been aged 27 to 30.  There is only one Dukes household indexed in the 1840 federal census for Baltimore; it does not include a male his age.  (5) He was probably single until his marriage to Susan in 1847, and if indeed he lived in Baltimore, he was most likely a boarder represented by a tick mark only.  Levin and Susan were married in what could be considered a nontraditional church, serving the maritime population, suggesting few family ties to Baltimore. (6)

Margaret Dukes’ 1866 letter, to the D. C. district court overseeing Levin’s estate, states that her younger stepdaughter, Sarah, our great grandmother, was staying with an uncle in Baltimore. (7)  So far, there is no evidence that she stayed with anyone other than James Pawley, Jr.   Pawley died in 1872 and his will carefully lists family members and their relationships in each clause that devises real and personal property.  (8) The “orphans of Levin Dukes” are explicitly mentioned in his will; he instructed his executors to pay the interest earned by Baltimore City stock worth $2,500 to James, Susan, and Sarah, with no mention of a blood relationship. (9)

The surname Dukes appears most frequently in the counties of Caroline and Worcester, and to a lesser extent in Queen Anne’s County, all on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and contiguous Sussex County in Delaware. The border between Delaware and Maryland is a fluid one; people readily moved back and forth.

That a man, who eventually built his modest fortune on the water, grew up in a seagoing county seems a strong possibility.  It’s a least a working hypothesis!  Further weight was given to this theory by two renowned genealogists, who both observed that they had never seen the given name Levin outside the Delmarva Peninsula or descendants of area residents. (10) 

It’s complicated, though.  There is not one Dukes household in any of those counties that has the right age and gender data match for Levin in 1820 to 1840. If his father died when he was young, his mother could have remarried and moved him into a household headed by stepfather.  He may never have been enumerated in a Dukes household; he was born just after the 1810 count.

In the aftermath of Levin’s death, no immediate family members stepped forward to take care of his children of his first marriage. That’s the corollary to my working hypothesis; he left the Eastern Shore as a young man to make his living and had few ties to his childhood home.

I’ve consulted as many derivative and secondary, published sources as I could locate in Baltimore (but certainly not all that have been published) on the counties of Caroline, Worcester, Queen Anne’s and Sussex, without seeing a single reference to a Levin Dukes born 1810-1813.  It’s time to delve more directly into original sources at the Maryland State Archives – land records, wills, estate files, guardianship papers, etc.   Because there is a cluster of individuals named Levi (very similar name and one often indexed as Levin) and James (the name of his son) in Caroline County, that’s where I’m starting.

After Caroline County, I’m heading directly to Sussex County, Delaware (research-wise) before the other Maryland counties because that’s where Margaret Dukes found her second husband – an intriguing clue, albeit one that undercuts my few-ties-to-childhood-home corollary. (11)

You may not hear anything about this endeavor for some time!

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(1) 1850 U. S. Census, Baltimore (Independent ) City, Maryland, pop. sched., Ward 4, p. 69B (stamped), dwelling 821, family 962, Levin Dukes; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 January 2010);  citing National Archives microfilm publication M432, roll 282. 1860 U. S. Census, Washington, District of Columbia, pop. sched. Georgetown Ward 4, p. 162 (penned), dwelling 1034, family 1129, Levin Dukes; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 January 2010); citing National Archives microfilm publication M653, roll 101.

(2)1900 U. S. Census, Montgomery County, Maryland, pop. sched., 2nd District, Clarksburg, enumeration district (ED) 50, p. 20B, dwelling 375, family 387, Susin R. Henderson; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 August 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 625.  1900 U. S. Census, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, pop. sched., Greensburg Ward 1, enumeration district (ED) 100, p. 30A, dwelling 574, family 625 [smudged], Sarah D. Offutt line 46; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 August 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1497. 1900 U. S. Census, Sussex County, Delaware, pop. sched., North West Fork Hundred, enumeration district (ED) 99, p. 10B, dwelling 193, family 194, Fannie A. Willey; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 August 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 157.  1910 U. S. Census, Sussex County, Delaware, pop. sched., Representative District 2 (Greenwood), enumeration district (ED) 105, p. 3A, dwelling 52, family 57, Fannie Willey; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 August 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 148.  1920 U. S. Census, Sussex County, Delaware, pop. sched., Greenwood Town, enumeration district (ED) 181, p. 1A, dwelling 11, family 11, Fannie Willey; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 August 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 200.

(3) 1850 U. S. Census, Baltimore (Independent ) City, Maryland, pop. sched., Ward 4, p. 69B (stamped), dwell. 821, fam. 962, Levin Dukes.  “Died,” (Washington) Evening Star, 17 March 1866, p. 3, col. 2.

(4) 1860 U. S. Census, Washington, District of Columbia, Georgetown, pop. sched. Ward 4, p. 162 (penned), dwell. 1034, fam. 1129, Levin Dukes.

(5) A search of the 1840 federal census of the Dukes surname in Baltimore, using Ancestry.com, turned up one hit, a household headed by James Dukes, age 40-50, and including only one other male, age five to 10.

(6) “Married,” The (Baltimore) Sun, 23 January 1847, p. 2, col. 4.  Schell, Edwin. “Preacher’s Collection.” Card File. Lovely Lane Museum & Archives (Baltimore, Maryland).

(7)Letter from M.A. Dukes dated June 26, 1866, transcribed by Malissa Ruffner, 3 September 2009; Levin Dukes Guardianship Case 1832; Old Series Administration Case Files, 1801-1878; Record Group 21; National Archives Building, Washington, D. C. 

(8) Baltimore City, Maryland, Register of Wills, Wills, Liber JHB 38: 214, James Pawley, Jr. (1872), Maryland State Archives CM 219-20, Annapolis, MD.

(9) Ibid.

(10) Lloyd Bockstruck and  Karen Mauer Green,  informal conversations with Malissa Ruffner, held 18 June 2010 at Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama, and 13 January 2011, at the Family History Library, Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, Salt Lake City, Utah, respectively.

(11) Pippenger, Wesley E., compiler., District of Columbia Marriage Licenses: Register 1, 1811-1858 ; Register 2, 1858-1870 (Westminster, MD: Famiiy Line, 1994), Register 2, p. 85. 

 

 

Local Matters, Part II

In the last post, we found second great grandfather Levin Dukes at Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown, buried in April of 1866 in an unmarked grave. He is, however, not alone. A seven-month old Dukes infant was buried alongside him in December of tha…

In the last post, we found second great grandfather Levin Dukes at Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown, buried in April of 1866 in an unmarked grave.  He is, however, not alone.  A seven-month old Dukes infant was buried alongside him in December of that same year. (1)  And it appears that his widow’s father and brother, John Lambie, Sr. and John Lambie, Jr., were moved to the same plot from the Presbyterian Burying Grounds in 1887. (2)
  
Let’s back up to the 1860 federal census and take a closer look at the years in Georgetown.

Newly-married Levin and Margaret (Lambie) Dukes, and his three children (great grandmother Sarah is nine), are enumerated on the same page as the Lambie family.  It was headed by John, 54, a Scottish-born contractor,  his wife, A. E., age 44, and seven children ranging in age from two to 18. (3)  They were probably Margaret’s parents and younger siblings.  Listed between Lambie and Dukes is another household, comprised of two young families, one headed by John T. Kelley, and the other by William Appleby.  (4)  Both men were grocers, living over their store, and apparently brothers-in-law twice over, having married each other’s sister. (5)

Here’s a visual aid for that paragraph:

1860_census_washington_dc_dukes_cropped_for_citation

Between 1860 and March of 1866, Margaret gave birth to two daughters, a namesake, Margaret E., and Fannie A. (6)  She was eight months pregnant with their third daughter, Anna L., when Levin died suddenly – and without a will. (7)  

Margaret was named administratrix of Levin’s estate and guardian of all six children. (8)  She posted two bonds – $18,000, as administratrix, and $12,000, as guardian, $2,000 for each minor.  (9)  John B. Davidson, agent of Potomac Tow Company and business associate of Levin’s, and neighbor John T. Kelley, acted as sureties for both, obligating them to pay the sum if Margaret failed to perform her duties. (10)

The personal property inventory provides a glimpse of Levin’s financial worth, not an inconsequential dollar figure for that time, and their day-to-day life. (11)

Inventory of Personal Property of Levin Dukes, deceased

10/33    Of  Tug[boat] “Gov. Curtin”    2,000.00      
1/36    Of  Tug[boat] “Rescue”    333.33      
$1,800 Baltimore City Stock- 6 % of 1890c 99 1/2    1,791.00      
Note of John B. Davidson    3,000.00      
1    Bed, Bedstead and bedding    23.00      
1    Bed, Bedstead and bedding    20.00      
1    Bed, Bedstead and bedding    23.00      
1    Marble top bureau & washstand     10.00      
      Matting, [?] sett & chairs of Front Room    2.00      
3    Venetian blinds & 12 window curtains    2.00      
4    Stoves    10.00      
1    Cottage set    20.00      
1    Piano    25.00      
1    Sofa and 1/2 dozen chairs (in parlor)    13.00      
1    Matting, rug and table    7.00      
     Looking glass and pictures    12.00      
     Writing desk, table, clock and carpet in sitting room    10.00      
     Books    5.00      
     Safe, pine table and 4 chairs (in kitchen)    5.00      
     Crockery and Glassware & knives and forks    4.00      
     Money in Savings Bank of Baltimore    909.2      
          Total                                                          $8233. 1/5     

In addition to the 66 Market Street frame house pictured in the last post, Levin owned a larger brick residence several blocks away on the same street.  (12)

Margaret wrote a letter to the court detailing her budget, transcribed below. (13)  It’s a stark look at a complex family situation:

Georgetown June 16, 1866

Dear Judge:

Mr. Robbins advised me to draw up a letter stating to the court what I could afford to support the children with. My stepson is in his 19th year.  I think I can board him for a hundred dollars a year, but shall expect him to clothe himself.  My stepdaughters I will clothe, for a hundred dollars each, the oldest stays with me, the youngest with an Uncle in Baltimore.  There will be no board for either of them.  My own children (three of them) I should like a hundred each for them for board, clothing and everything.  Our income (after the expenses in the house are paid) will be in the neighborhood of nine hundred dollars.  I am not willing to spend more than the income.

Very respectfully,

M. A. Dukes

On October 9, 1866, Kelley and Davidson filed a petition expressing concern that that they were at risk of losing their sureties and asked the court to order Margaret to appear and provide counter-security. (14)  The court issued a citation ordering her to appear.  (15)  However, on the appointed day, the order was suspended; the parties must have come to an interim agreement on how to proceed. (16)  By April of 1867, the estate of Levin Dukes was settled.  (17)

Margaret remarried on June 17, 1867, to John Collison, and moved to his home in Delaware, with daughters, Margaret and Fannie. (18)   A month later, the petition of Kelley and Davidson was revived on the issue of the guardianship bond alone, and Margaret refused, in open court, to provide counter-surety for the total amount. (19)  The court ordered her guardianship revoked and Kelley was named guardian of Jimmie, Susie, and Sadie.  (20)  Margaret posted a new bond in the smaller amount of $4,000, and her  husband provided surety so that she could continue to act as guardian of her two daughters.  (21)

The three older siblings spent the next several years between Kelley’s new home in Darnestown, Montgomery County, and the home of James Pawley, the glass merchant in Baltimore with whom the family lived before relocating to Georgetown.  Probate documents after 1866 do not mention Anna.   She is most certainly the seven-month old infant buried with Levin.
 
The two Georgetown properties were maintained at least into the 1870s, together generating annual rental income of $550, used to support the orphans.  (22)  The shares of the tugboats, Rescue and Gov. Curtin, were auctioned, generating an additional $1,680; the stock sale brought in $1,731. (23)

One by one, as they reached majority age, the orphans’ guardianship accounts were closed, and they took charge of their own finances.  There are over 100 pieces of paper in several different guardianship case files that document financial arrangements made on their behalf.   Here are just a few images (24):

Division_of_rent_case_1946Georgetown_courier_receipt_case_1946Georgetown_tax_receipt_case_1832Offutt_receipt_for_glass_glazing_case_1832Pawley_receipt_case_1946Receipt_for_quarters_sadie_dukes_case_1946Sale_of_stock_case_1946Susies_receipt_to_appleby_case_1946

The Levin Dukes biography has a fairly clear and detailed ending, at least on paper.  No doubt the back story of the personal relationships among his surviving family members and associates is a complicated one.  

—————————————————————————————————————————-

I am indebted to Robert Ellis and George Briscoe, NARA archivists, for their assistance in navigating Record Group 21, and to Patricia O’Brien Shawker, for her NIGR lecture on NARA citations.

(1)  The Oak Hill Cemetery, Burial Records (http://www.oakhillcemeterydc.org/Burials/654.pdf : accessed 11 May 2009), citing Wesley E. Pippenger’s “Oak Hill Cemetery, Georgetown, D.C.: Monument Inscriptions and Burial Data, Parts One and Two” (2007), “Dukes, Child.”

(2)  Pippenger, Wesley E., Dead People on the Move!: Reconstruction of the Georgetown Presbyterian Burying Ground, Holmead’s (Western) Burying, and Other Removals in the District of Columbia  (Westminster, MD: Willow Bend Books, 2004), 134.

(3) 1860 U. S. Census, Washington, District of Columbia, Georgetown Ward 4, p. 162 (penned), dwelling 1036, family 1132, John Lambie; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 January 2010); citing National Archives microfilm publication M653, roll 101.

(4) 1860 U. S. Census, Washington, District of Columbia, Georgetown Ward 4, p. 162 (penned), dwelling 1035, family 1130 and 1131, John T. Kelley and W. M. Appleby; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 January 2010); citing National Archives microfilm publication M653, roll 101.

(5)  Kelley, Joseph Crockett, Sr. and Alice McKnight Kelley. “My Grandfather Joseph Kelley,” p. 1; Kelley Family  File, Vertical Files, Montgomery County Historical Society, Rockville, Maryland.  

(6)  Margaret A. Dukes, Guardian Bond, 12 June 1866; Transcript of Guardian Bonds, Vol. 1, October 26, 1861-November 2, 1867, p. 398; Records of the United States District  Court for the District of Columbia, Record Group 21 (RG 21);  National Archives Building, Washington, D.C (NAB).

(7) Ibid.

(8)  Entry for Tuesday, April 3, 1866, p. 262; Proceedings, Vol. 8, No. 8, E-109, March 25, 1865-July 23, 1867; RG 21; NAB.  Margaret A. Dukes, Guardian Bond, 12 June 1866; Transcript of Guardian Bonds, Vol. 1, October 26, 1861-November 2, 1867, p. 398; RG 21; NAB.
 
(9)  Ibid.

(10)  Ibid.

(11)  Inventory of the Goods, Chattel and Personal Estate of Levin Dukes, transcription by Malissa Ruffner, 1 September 2009; Case 1832; Old Series Administration Case Files, 1801-1878; RG 21; NAB.  
(12) Appraisal of Real Estate of Levin Dukes;  Case 1832, Levin Dukes; Guardianship Case Files, 1801-1878 (Old Series);  RG 21; NAB. 

(13)  Letter from M.A. Dukes dated June 26, 1866, transcribed by Malissa Ruffner, 3 September 2009; Case 1832; Old Series Administration Case Files, 1801-1878; RG 21; NAB. 

(14)  Petition filed by John B. Davidson and John T. Kelley;  Levin Dukes Probate, Case 5277;  Old Series Administration Case Files, 1801-1878;  RG 21; NAB. 

(15) Entry for Tuesday, October 9, 1866, p. 397; Proceedings, Vol. 8, No. 8, E-109, March 25, 1865-July 23, 1867; RG 21; NAB.
 
(16) Entry for Saturday, October 24, 1866, p. 407; Proceedings, Vol. 8, No. 8, E-109, March 25, 1865-July 23, 1867; RG 21; NAB. 

(17) Entry for Tuesday, April 9, 1867, p. 517; Proceedings, Vol. 8, No. 8, E-109, March 25, 1865-July 23, 1867; RG 21; NAB. 

(18)  Pippenger, Wesley E., compiler., District of Columbia Marriage Licenses: Register 1, 1811-1858 ; Register 2, 1858-1870 (Westminster, MD: Famiiy Line, 1994), Register 2, p. 85.

(19) Entry for Tuesday, July 16, 1867, p. 587; Proceedings, Vol. 8, No. 8, E-109, March 25, 1865-July 23, 1867; RG 21; NAB.
 
(20) Ibid. 

(21)  Entry for Tuesday, August 20, 1867, p. 18; Proceedings, Vol.  J. R. O’B No. 1, July 27, 1867-May 28, 1870; RG 21; NAB. 

(22)  Appraisal of Real Estate of Levin Dukes;  Case 1832, Levin Dukes; Guardianship Case Files, 1801-1878 (Old Series);  RG 21; NAB. 

(23)  Adams and Davidson Receipt; Case 1946, Levin Dukes; Guardianship Case Files, 1801-1878 (Old Series);  RG 21; NAB.  Dowling Auctioneers Receipt;  Case 1832, Levin Dukes; Guardianship Case Files, 1801-1878 (Old Series);  RG 21; NAB. 

 (24) Items individually cited to either Case 1832 or Case 1946; Guardianship Case Files, 1801-1878 (Old Series); RG 21; NAB. 

Local Matters

One of the biggest surprises since undertaking family research was the discovery of an ancestral connection to Baltimore, my home since 1977. “I’m not from here,” I tell people. But, as my husband sometimes puts it, “she’s more from here than I am…

One of the biggest surprises since undertaking family research was the discovery of an ancestral connection to Baltimore, my home since 1977.  “I’m not from here,” I tell people.  But, as my husband sometimes puts it, “she’s more from here than I am.” 

Several lines ducked in and out of town at various times.  But the most intriguing individual is Levin Dukes, tugboat captain, our 2nd great grandfather, who lived just north of Fell’s Point  from 1847 (maybe earlier?) until about 1859. A Fell’s Point tugboat captain?  It doesn’t get much more local than that.

It was Levin’s daughter, Sarah, who married Lemuel Offutt, M.D., originally of Montgomery County, Maryland, in 1877, and moved to Pennsylvania, from whence we came.  Dad told me in  2008 that his grandmother, Sarah Dukes, who died 16 years before he was born, was a complete blank to him.
  
Two years later, we’ve at least made the acquaintance of Sarah’s parents, Levin and Susan (nee Tagret/Taggart), and know how their story ended.  The beginning of their story remains elusive. The quest hasn’t reached “brick wall” status, the term genealogists use to describe their toughest research problems, but it has certainly been my biggest challenge to date.  More on that in Part II or however many parts this is going to take.
Continue reading “Local Matters”