Friday, June 22, 2012

The Bell Family of Guysborough Nova Scotia

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, the surname Bell is a rather common name to New England, Canada, Scotland, Ireland and the British Isles.

My very distant ancestors (who are also ancestors of many tens of thousands of New Englanders) were John Bell & Elizabeth Wurttemberg of Nova Scotia (formerly of Scotch-Irish background).  At least two of their reportedly 11 children moved to Dover Maine and started large families in the early 1800s, and their story is traced here.

This blog post covers what is known, suspected, and questioned regarding their prior home in Nova Scotia, which was home to many Scotch-Irish immigrants.

John Bell was reputed to have been a loyalist during the American Revolution, and won a land grant from the King for his service, although his children were unsuccessful in locating and claiming that land.  We have been unable, as of this writing (July 2012), to locate any proof of records of John having been a Loyalist.  If and when we find such proof, we can then add his name to the UELAC Loyalist Directory.

The question of "where in Nova Scotia did they live" is a long mystery of all the Bell researchers.  Below is a collection of facts and ideas which may lead us to narrow down the likely places.

The Mormon Family History Library collection regarding Nova Scotia Deeds currently only offers Halifax County, which I don't believe our Bells come from.  There are many dozens of recorded deeds involving "John Bell", during the years 1749-1851.  According to Helen Thompson, a fellow researcher, this John married a Catherine, so it's not ours.

Helen also writes about a John Bell of around that time who was victimized by the 1792 Great Fire of Shelburne, Nova Scotia.  I'm doubtful this is our John as well, due to the commonality of the name John Bell, and the distance between Shelburne and the town of Manchester, where we have found many easily validated records.  Helen is to look in Shelburne vital records on microfilm order.
Helen did some nice research in Guysborough County records, most of it in Manchester town, per her message below:
The first record I have for a land transaction for John Bell, yeoman, in Canso is the 1812 land grant in which he is named with William Phipps. It states that they were both of Canso at the time of the grant. The land was then sold by The Sheriff in 1815 on behalf of "John Bell late of Canso" for the sum of Thirty Six Pounds .. subject to the "Equity of Redemption", sale being to the highest bidder Abraham Whitman.   Abraham Whitman seems to have taken out a writ against John Bell in 16 Oct 1813 for Twenty six pounds seven shillings (debt and costs), which seems to have led John Bell to abandon his land and property in Canso. A similar situation occurred with William Phipps as his land was also sold by The Sheriff at the same time.
Going through the other records I have found the following:
Christ Church Baptismal Records (film 1378473), Parish of Manchester, Gusyborough County (transcribed records)
-- Bell, Robert. Son of John and Elizabeth. Born Feb 12 1799
-- Bell, Catherine. Dau of John and Elizabeth. Born May 15 1805
-- Bell, Alexander. Son of John and Elizabeth. Born Oct 20 1706 --- I think this should read 1806
-- Russel, John. Son of Major and Mary. Bapt Jan 12 1799

-- Phipps, William. Son of William and Mary. Born Dec 15 1805
No burial records for any Bell, Holland/Hollien, Phipps or Russell.
Registry of Marriages, Birth and Deaths for the town of Manchester 1783-1870 (film 1376195)
Alexander & Katherine Cumming  (is this Catherine Bell?, a daughter of John Bell)
-- George b[orn]. Dec 2 1784
-- Katherine d[ied]. Dec 12 1784
p.78 Marriages solemnized by [J Cutler]
1802 - December 26 William Phipps was married to Mary Russel
From the book  "Guysborough Sketches and Essays" by A.C. Jost, p.320
Russell, Major. Married Mary Bell 8 May 1797. Family
-- John Bapt. 12 Feb 1799
-- Ann
-- Elizabeth
(It appears Major Russell died, and I have seen somewhere that he possibly drowned or died at sea. Mary (Bell) Russell then married William Phipps, 1802, which led to the birth of at least one child - William (see above)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Fullers of Lowell Massachusetts

My 4th great grandparents were John Fuller (1773-1842) of Campton New Hampshire and Sarah "Sally" Bean (1781-1841) of Sandwich, New Hampshire.  There are some records of a Mary Bean being born in 1774 in New Hampshire, but I don't think there is a connection.  Our "Sally" was indeed buried in 1841 in Lowell, at age 60.  Their marriage occurred in 1801 in Moultonborough, NH, and their names were listed as Jonathan Fuller & Sally Bean. John & Sally had potentially 11 children together (a few of them have yet to be verified, and notes to that effect are included below).  The 1810 Census appears to have them at New Holderness, near Campton, New Hampshire.

The Move to Peacham

In 1817 or so, they moved from Moultonborough, New Hampshire to Peacham, Vermont, where they ran a farm on MacBean Road near John's brother Bethuel, who had moved there about 20 years prior.  John's elder sister, Mary Mercer Fuller-Wheeler, had settled in nearby Danville, VT by 1790.  According to the family, John's son, Samuel Bean Fuller, didn't move to Peacham with the family.  He stayed behind in New Hampshire, living on his uncle Samuel Bean's farm in Meredith.  John moved his family to Lowell, Massachusetts at some point between 1830-1838.  Around the same time that John moved to Lowell, his brother Bethuel left Peacham for West Bloomfield, Michigan.  I wonder what happened in Peacham in the 1830s to cause both brothers to leave their farms behind?   According to a Peacham historian, farming in Peacham was always hard, but the 1830's were a period of relative prosperity and the sheep boom had not yet ended. Indeed Peacham reached the zenith of its population in 1840. The westward migration started in the 1840's. There were many Fuller farms in Caledonia County, Vermont at that time, and some preliminary research indicates that many were descendants of other colonial Fullers than this line.

John and Sally died in 1842 and 1841, respectively, about a decade after arriving in Lowell.  John died of bladder disease.  They are buried at Old English Cemetery in Lowell.   Below is Sally's gravestone, which appears to have held up, but John's, likely in the vicinity, didn't survive due to the fact that many old graves in the area were made of marble, which is a poor choice for braving the harsh New England weather.

Here is a brief summary of collected, and ongoing, research regarding the children of John & Sally: 

1.  Moody B. Fuller (1802-1855) was born in New Hampshire (probably Moultonborough).  Since this was John's first born son, I'm thinking that Moody may have been a nickname for John.  Sally's mother's maiden name was Moody, so this is likely the source of the name.  There are 1830 and 1840 Census entries for his very unique name (and the age seems to match) in Smithfield, Rhode Island, and was married with several children.  He worked as a scythe grinder and died of consumption in Blackstone, Mass.  He is buried in Millville Cemetery, Mass.

2.  Hannah Fuller (1808-1887) was born in New Hampshire (although some sources claim Peacham, VT).  Around 1837 she married Hiram Russell of New Hampshire.  They had three children (Charles, Edward, and Helen) in Lowell, Mass., but later moved to Lawrence. 

3.  Samuel Bean Fuller (1812-1890) was my 3rd great grandfather.  He was born in New Hampshire, just before the family's move to Lowell, Mass.  He later moved to Waterville, Fairfield, and Winslow Maine to work on the railroad, and eventually settled out in Ottumwa Iowa during the Civil War, setting up a dry goods business which burned down not long after it started.  Samuel had 7 children and 18 grandchildren.  Many of his descendants ended up in Missouri, Seattle, California, Chicago, and Maine, but none of them stayed in Iowa.


4.  Abner M. Fuller (1813-??) was born in Massachusetts.  I haven't found any information on him at all.  This notation only comes from Henrietta Chapman's diaries.  At one point, I was confusing him with an Abner Fuller born in Lancaster to Edward & Susan Fuller, and moving to Orange, Ohio.  This is most definitely not him, however.

5.  Harrison H. Fuller (1814-1885) was born in Moultonborough, NH.  He married Arvilla Hill of Epping, NH, (sister to Parsons Hill, who married Harrison's sister Caroline).  Harrison and Arvilla they stayed in Lowell, where Harrison worked as a police officer.  They had five children.  Their sons, Edwin and Charles, fought in the Civil War.

6.  Porter W. Fuller (1815-1853) was born in Moultonborough, NH.  He worked on a farm in Lowell most of his short life, and died in the Almshouse at age 38.  He died of dropsy, and is buried at Old English Cemetery near his parents.

7.  Josiah Fuller (1817-??) was born in Vermont, according to all census records.  He married Ellen A. Smith, and had one son, Willie.  They settled in Chicopee, Massachusetts, where Josiah worked as an almoner.  I can't find any direct proof that Josiah is indeed the child of John & Sally.  His 1900 census states his parents were born in VT, which is wrong.  However, his Chicopee marriage record states that his father was named John.  This could be another non-relation.

8.  Mary Bean Fuller (1818-1885) was born in Vermont, according to all census records, and her death record.  She married a brickmason named Daniel Chapman, and they had five children.  She ran boarding houses in Lowell and in Lawrence, which housed many Irish and Scottish immigrants.  Mary died of apoplexy in 1885, at her son in law's house, next to Broad Street Cemetery, and is buried at Edson Cemetery in Lowell, with three of her children.  Her death record, interestingly enough, lists her parents as Josiah Fuller and Mary Bean, both of New Hampshire.  I'm pretty sure this is an error.  The only Josiah in this family was her brother (listed above).  I couldn't find any couple matching those names for the appropriate time period of her birth.

9.  Sarah Ann Fuller (1819-1882) was born in New Hampshire.  One record has a Sarah Ann born in 1819 in Winchester NH to a John H. Fuller and his wife Parmelia Conant.  This family's ethnicity is written as Canadian, so I doubt this is the right Sarah...or possibly this Sarah is not of this family.  Another source lists her birthdate as 1816 in Marlborough, NH.  This also seems unlikely, when the past two children were born in Vermont (if we're to believe even they were of this family).  Anyhow, this Sarah appears to have married a Corbin Gould of Orange, Mass., and they settled in Boston with six children.

10.  Caroline W. Fuller (1821-1881) was born in Vermont.  She married Parsons Hill of Epping, NH, (brother to Arvilla Hill, who married Caroline's brother Harrison).  and moved to Lynn, Mass, where she had three children.  Their eldest, Caddie, died at age 15.  Their son Herbert had a daughter he named Caddie, who died at one year of age.  This family is buried in Pine Grove Cemetery in Lynn, Mass.

11.  Juliet W. Fuller (1821-1862) was born in Vermont, and was a twin to Caroline.  She married Charles Wentworth, and had one child, Frank.  They settled in Worcester, Mass.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Bell Family of Dover-Foxcroft

The Bell surname is common to England, Ireland, and Scotland.  It is of uncertain origin, but it is believed to have stemmed from the profession of a bell ringer.

My Bell ancestors came from Scotland originally.  My fifth great grandfather, John Bell born 1746, according to legend, was married to an Elizabeth from the House of Württemberg in Germany, when it was part of the Holy Roman Empire, and before Württemberg became its own state.  I have yet to find any confirming paperwork for this connection, however.  I've also heard that John and Elizabeth were Scotch-Irish, living in Northern Ireland, before they migrated to Nova Scotia.  John was reputed to have been a "Loyalist" during the American Revolution.  For his service to the King in the War, John received a land patent, but his children failed to locate and claim it.

Ten of his reported eleven children were:  Robert (a Methodist minister who was murdered), Jane, Henry, Alexander, Catherine, Mary, John,  David, Betsey, and Margaret.  Not totally sure of the birth order, but it's clear that Henry and Jane were born a year or so apart.

It's long been a brick wall for the Bell family and its researchers to determine exactly where the Bells came from.  Was John born in Scotland, or was he born in a Scotch-Irish settlement in Northern Ireland?  How did he meet the obviously German Elizabeth Wurttemberg?  When did they come to Nova Scotia?  Where in Nova Scotia?  Too many questions to answer...although some sources point to Canso (in Guysborough County).

I've done some digging into the Family History Library's collection of Northern Ireland, and it appears that there were many Bell families living in County Down (which is Northern Ireland's closest county in proximity to Scotland).  To that end, there were also about a dozen men named John Bell fathering children during the 1780s to early 1800s.  None of them appear to be with a wife named Elizabeth.  However, there was a John & Bella in County Down who had a Catherine (which is one of the names of the children of research) on 30 Jan 1786 in Downpatrick.  I can find no other children of this couple, however.  If I can just locate one or two more children of John & Bella with names that match the children's names above, we might have a close enough match.  There is a Jane Bell, born in Downpatrick, born to a John & Jane.

According to one family legend, John & Elizabeth lived in "Petelwerse, Nova Scotia".  Since no such town exists (or existed), it's possible that this was a misprint of what is now known as Bliss Island, New Brunswick (then unofficially called Pentelowe Island).

The above information comes from the family bible of Annie Bell-Saltonstall (1870-1943), who was a 4th generation descendant of John Bell.

Interestingly, much of what was found in Annie's bible matches the research provided to me by George Holland (descendant of Jane Bell and Daniel Holland like myself), and also Patti Manson C. (descendant of Henry Bell & Prudence Leach).

I've dug deeper into the possible whereabouts of the Bells' potential homestead in Nova Scotia on another blog post, found here.

I had long heard that my Bell ancestors were somehow related to Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, born in 1847.  I did a study of this family lineage, and am very doubtful of this connection.  If any Bell family researchers out there reading this post would care to comment, I'd be interested to learn if they've heard, or proven, the same connection.  I had heard this from my great grandmother, Lorena Holland Murch-Fuller, who had told this to anyone who would listen, up until her death in 1990.  My pet theory is that Gram heard of one of the many men named Alexander Bell in our direct family, and made the connection herself (or repeated someone else's assertion of same).

What I do know is that among their 11 children, Jane and Henry Bell were siblings born in Nova Scotia to John & Elizabeth Bell, and moved to Jay Maine somewhere around 1810...and eventually settled in Dover Maine, among other towns.

Jane Bell-Holland

Jane was my 4th great grandmother.  In 1808, she married sea captain Daniel Frederick Holland of Prussia (his name was believed to have been originally spelled Hollien).  According to some family trees, this marriage occurred in Canso, Nova Scotia.  If so, this would give us an indication of the general location of the Canadian settlement of the Scottish Bells.  According to other legends, Daniel's mother was also from the House of Württemberg.  This could be a carryover error, or it could establish a true link between these German and Scottish families.

In 1810, Daniel and Jane's first child, Daniel Jr., was born in Monmouth Maine.  In 1812, their second child, Marie Württemberg Holland, was born in Jay Maine, just 20 miles north of Monmouth.  Their next five children were born in Jay (including my 3rd great grandfather, Civil War Patriot John Christopher Holland).  Around 1825, the family moved 50 miles east of Jay, to Plymouth, Maine, and had their four remaining children, making 11 kids total.

The Holland children migrated to Hampden, for the most part.  Jane was living with her son, Daniel Jr., in Hampden for the 1850 Census (Jane was likely widowed at this point, and Daniel had yet to marry his wife, Mary Finson).  Jane's daughter Margaret Holland had moved to Dover, Maine in 1844, and married her first cousin, Alexander Bell (son to Jane's brother Henry).  Jane, at 66 years of age, was living with Margaret and Alexander's family in Dover for the 1860 Census, and that's the last record I can find of Jane.  I don't know when she died, or where she is buried, but it's possible her grave is at the Pine Grove Cemetery in Dover-Foxcroft, the final resting place of many of the Bells of Dover, although the online cemetery listing doesn't show her, it could be she's unmarked.  I paid a visit to the Hampden Town Hall, and viewed burial records for all their cemeteries.  Jane's two eldest sons, Daniel and John, are buried at the town's Riverview Cemetery, but there is no mention of Jane there either.

Henry Bell

Farmer Henry Bell married Prudence Leach, and moved to Dover, where they had four children:  (i) Mary E. Bell, who married James Robinson, Manoah Harriman, and John Ames (six kids total), (ii) Henry P. Bell, who married Emeline Witham, had eight children and moved to Cleveland, Ohio, (iii) Alexander Bell, a farmer who married his first cousin Margaret Holland, and had three children, and (iv) Joel Paine Bell, who married twice, had three children, and eventually moved to Cheboygan, Michigan in his later years, where died at 77 of gangrene, just a couple months after his son George had passed.

One of the children of Alexander Bell and Margaret Holland, James Madison Bell, has some interest to me.  He married Sylvia Bean Burrill, who descended from the Scottish MacBean clan of New Hampshire, and the English colonial Burrill family, both of which I also descend from independently, in addition to the Bell and Holland families of Scotland and Germany written about in this and other posts.

James & Sylvia had eight children, including two sets of twins, born in succession.  The elder pair of twins (Ai & Ami) were sent to live with their grandparents, Alexander and Margaret.

Henry's descendants are numerous, and many generations later, Bells still call Dover home.

Here are some photos of a few of Henry's descendants kindly offered by Sallie Fleet, a descendant of Henry's son Joel:




Below are some gravestone photos from Pine Grove Cemetery (aka Branns Mills Cemetery), the Dover-Foxcroft cemetery of the Bells and other related families, courtesy of Patti Manson C., a descendant of Henry Bell, via Find a Grave:

Monday, June 4, 2012

Samuel Phelps, Revolutionary War Patriot

Samuel Phelps (1735-1777) was my fifth great grandfather, from Lyme, Connecticut.  Born in 1735 to Charles Phelps and Margaret Tiffany, of the colonial Phelps and Tiffany families of New London County, Connecticut. 

As for Samuel's paternal ancestry, many researchers cite from the book "The Phelps Family in America" by Oliver Seymour Phelps, and determine that Samuel was named for his great grandfather Samuel, who had emigrated to Connecticut from Crewkerne, Somerset, England on the Mary and John in 1630 along with his father William of Crewkerne, Somerset England (not to be confused with William Phelps of Gloucestershire, as many trees have conflated).  This Samuel the immigrant's mother, by the way, was a descendant of King John of Gaunt of the Plantagenet line via the Neville dynasty.

DNA studies have indicated that Crewkerne Phelps Clan (who settled in Windsor, CT) are not of the same family as the Lyme Phelps Clan (of unknown English origin).  It's possible that the Lyme Phelps Clan traces from William of Gloucestershire, but more research is needed here.  Here is a link to a wonderful repository which studies the many Phelps clans of old New England.

Now, back to my ancestor, Samuel of Lyme.  Samuel's wife was Sarah Tiffany, who was some distant relation to his own mother.  Samuel and Sarah had at least six children, including Samuel Jr (1755-1824) and my fourth great grandfather, Niles Phelps (1771-1848).  Niles' granddaughter, Esther Phelps Martin, married Leonard Sherman Clark of East Haddam Connecticut (my 2nd great grandparents).

From a Sons of the American Revolution application, I found the following bit of information about Samuel's career during the War...
Samuel enlisted in the Revolutionary War in Captain Coit's Company in April 1775.  He fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill.  

He re-enlisted in 1776 in a Soldiers Regiment, where he served one year from March 1778 as marine and carpenter on board privateer "Sampson" commanded by Captain David Brooks, which sailed from the Connecticut River.  He was wounded in fight with a British Sloop-of-War named "Sparrow".
Unfortunately, there were several men with Samuel's name living in Connecticut around his time.  One such Samuel who causes the most confusion would be Samuel Phelps of Harwinton CT.