23 July 2015

Resource: Old Lutheran Migration

The latest issue of American Ancestors has a great surprise!  American Ancestors is a publication of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and I'm used to finding info about my maternal grandfather's Colonial New England ancestry in almost every issue.  I was unhappy about 2 years ago when the society decided to open their focus to be much more general: there'd be less content for me but I could understand their need to appeal to more people and make more money to support the society...so...

I never expected to find an article directly relevant to my Hegwer line!  While Carl Benjamin Hegwer and Maria Rosina (Ilgner) Hegwer are not specifically mentioned, "George Dopf and the Old Lutheran Migration of 1839" is a very good article about the nature of their immigration in 1839.  It's very hard (as in near impossible?) to find scholarly things in English about the early 1800s in Silesia, so this article is a real treat.  The ship the Hegwer's were on left Hamburg 1 Jul 1839 and is the one described in this article, arriving NY on 24 Aug 1839. 

Wherever the article refers to the Silesia group, that's us!  There is no doubt that Carl Benjamin Hegwer knew Krause and Grabau, and probably Rohr, too.  There was quite a bit of documented 'drama' among the 3 ministers, the Buffalo congregation, and the Wisconsin groups that has been left out of this article.  You can't fit everything in one article!

I had no idea that any of the travel documents needed by the Old Lutherans to leave Prussia still existed.  I can't wait to follow author McGrath's reference list and see if I can find some new info specific to the Hegwer's or Ilgner's.  Records from the part of Silesia now in Poland are harder to find than those now in Germany, but I'll still try... and maybe the Hegwer/Ilgner party had already started to move and were interrogated along the way, leaving records in what is now Germany???

McGrath, Lawrence R. "George Dopf and the Old Lutheran Migration of 1839." American AncestorsVol. 16 (2), Spring 2015, pages 37-40 & 59.

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21 July 2015

Great-Great-Grandfather Homer Thomas Porter

Clipping from the St. Albans Messenger of St. Albans, Vermont.  This obituary appeared Thursday, 31 Dec 1903 on page 8.  I found it through GenealogyBank.com; I'm very happy with my new subscription!*

Homer Thomas Porter and Dolly Bates are one set of my maternal great-great-grandparents.  It's always nice to have an obituary for an ancestor, but this one is especially nice for several reasons:
  --It specifies where he was living when he died.
  --Dolly Ann (Bates) is named as his late wife.
  --His father, Thomas, is named. With common names, it's always nice to have generations linked!
  --It not only says where Dolly was when she died, it also specifies why she was so far from Vermont.
  --Surviving relatives are named and residences specified.
  --His religion and commitment to it are included.

I had most of these events but only from a distant family  member.  Granted, an obituary may not be reliable but this one is still closer to being original than what I had previously.  All input considered, I'm feeling pretty good about reliability.  What I had is confirmed and I'm able to fill in some very meaningful new details.

And, I have something new to research: What was the "battle of Plattsburg" and why is it still mentioned 90 years later???

Line of Descent

For the curious or the observant, Dolly Ann (Bates) Porter and her mother-in-law Abigail (Bates) Porter are not closely related.  Abigail is a descendent of Clement Bates, while Dolly Ann is a descendent of Edward Bates of Weymouth.

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05 July 2015

Portrait of a Great Great: Mary Mason

With a full quarter of my ancestry coming from the Great Migration, I'm used to finding the occasional mention in American Ancestors, one of the periodical publications of the New England Historic Genealogical Society.  But the Winter 2015 (Vol. 16, No. 1) has set a new standard here for excitement!

One article is primarily about Abigail Smith Adams, wife of President John Adams and mother of President John Quincey Adams [1].  Author Michelle Marchetti Coughlin hypothesizes howAbigail's maternal great-grandparents may have affected Abigail.  Luckily for me, those maternal great-grandparents are also my 8th-great-grandparents, John NORTON and Mary MASON.

The entire article is very interesting and includes a good deal of family history information and detail, far beyond birth-marriage-death.  The great surprise is a portrait of Mary Mason, circa 1670!  The actual portrait, artist unknown, is on display at the Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, Massachusetts.  As part of the United States National Park Service (NPS), the website is great, too.  It includes a Photo Gallery with eight sections, one of which is Portraits in the Old House. Of the 32 portraits shown there, one is of "Mary Mason, circa 1670" and a download is available.  My illustration here is a clip of that NPS download. Please visit their fine site for your own full copy.


  • Join national genealogy societies!
  • Read their publications and be prepared for surprises!
  • Appreciate fine government websites!

Line of Descent
Rev. John Norton = Mary Mason
Capt. John Norton = Elizabeth Thaxter
William Norton = Elizabeth Bennett
Moses Bates = Hannah Norton
Moses Bates = Ruth Shaw
Norton Bates = Betsey Sweet
Homer Thomas Porter = Dolly Ann Bates
Celim Homer Porter = Clara Evelene Davidson
my Grandpa Porter

[1] Coughlin, Michelle Coughlin. "A shared sensibility: Examining the legacy of John and Mary (Mason) Norton, maternal great-grandparents of Abigail Smith Adams." American Ancestors, 16 (1): 47-51.