“Hello Daughter, I’m Your Father”

Marshall Cortis young man
Ruth Martha Andrews was born October 12, 1912. She never knew who her father was – always a missing piece in her life. Even if you don’t have a relationship with your birth parents, most children want to know who they are. Well, now we know – Marshall Frederick Cortis. The last blog was about how DNA was used to locate this missing piece of the family. A recent show on the ABC News 20/20 “Buried Secrets”, featuring CeCe Moore as the genealogist, detailed a similar process in locating the birth parents of two babies who had been abandoned. DNA is opening doors that could never have been imagined 20 years ago.

What I have pieced together about Marshall’s life has largely been through public records. He might still have a daughter living. If so, she would be 89 years old. I have not been able to find records of her beyond a mention in her sister-in-law’s 2011 obituary. The other relatives that I have connected with were not able to tell me  what the man was like, and none had met him or knew him.

Marshall Frederick Cortis was born April 16, 1889 in Hingham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts and was named John Marshall Remington. He was the second son of Bernard Collan Remington and Margaret L. Deveau. His older brother, George, was born two years earlier and only lived for two months.

His father’s family had deep roots in Plymouth County, stretching back to the original passengers on the Mayflower. There were also more recent immigrants from Ireland. His mother was an immigrant from Digby, Nova Scotia.

Fourteen months later, in June 1890, Marshall welcomed another brother to his family – Bernard Charles Remington. Things must have been difficult between his parents because they separated and his father married Estelle May Wood on March 26, 1894 in Boston. According to Bernard’s marriage application, this was his first marriage. On November 29, 1894, Margaret “Remington” married Thomas Powers in Malden, Massachusetts. On February 5, 1897, a daughter was born to Margaret and Thomas – Gertrude Theresa Powers.

However, months before either of these marriages occurred, Bernard and Margaret had given their oldest living son up for adoption. On January 2, 1894, Marshall was adopted by Fred O. Cortis and his wife Ella. His name was changed to Marshall Frederick Cortis. I do not know if the Remington’s knew the Cortis family, or if this adoption occurred through an agency. Marshall was not quite five years old when his parents approved his adoption. His younger brother stayed with Margaret, and was raised by his mother and step-father.

Marshall moved to Oxford, Massachusetts with a new family to start his new life. In 1900, when he was 11 years old, he was still living in Oxford. There was also an 8 year old girl, the daughter of Fred and Ella, living with them. By 1910, Marshall was living in Worcester and was a piano maker. On February 11, 1911, when he was 21, he married Ella Victoria Ross. Ella was the daughter of Gustaf and Louisa Ross. Ella was born in Worcester on October 10, 1883. Both her parents were born in Sweden. Ella was 27 when she married, and this was her first marriage. Seven months later, on September 17, 1911, their first child was born – a daughter that they named Evelyn.

Early in 1912, Marshall was involved with Blanche Louise Andrews, resulting in the birth of Ruth nine months later. It is unlikely that Marshall was aware that he fathered another child.

Marshall and Ella had eight children together, all born in Worcester. They are

  1. Evelyn L. was born September 17, 1911. She was 79 years old when she died on March 14, 1991 in New York City, and was unmarried.
  2. Chester Marshall was born February 9, 1913. He married Catherine Frances Fogarty in 1935. Chester was 64 years old when he died in Queens, New York City in December 1977, seven months after his wife’s death in May 1977.
  3. Freeman R was born on January 31, 1915 and died in 1916.
  4. Bertha Margaret was born November 10, 1916. In 1930, when she was 14, she was a boarder in the home of Sadie Adams in West Brookfield, Massachusetts, along with her younger siblings Norman and Lillyan. Her mother had died and she and her siblings were probably in foster care. In 1958 she was working as an elevator operator. Bertha was 72 years old when she died on October 17, 1989. She never married.
  5. Edward was born in 1918 and died in 1919.
  6. Norman Elliot was born May 13, 1920. By 1930 he was in foster care. Norman served in the Army during World War II. He married Barbara Frances Weeden, and he died in Florida on February 20, 2000. He was 79 years old. His wife died in 2011.
  7. Howard was born in 1922 and died the same year.
  8. Lillyan Gertrude was born March 4, 1923. She was in foster care in 1930. She married Bernard Thebodo. Lillyan died on May 25, 2011 in Millbury Health Center, Worcester. She was 91 years old.

Cortis kids 19240003Ella was 40 years old when she died on March 7, 1923 from pneumonia, following the birth of her daughter.

In 1924, Marshall married Lucy May Carleton. This was Lucy’s second marriage. She married (1) Christian Charles Brennenan. Together they had four children, born between 1915 and 1919. The children stayed with their father when this marriage was dissolved and Christian remarried.

Marshall and Lucy had five children:

  1. Carleton Emerson was born May 6, 1926 in Providence, Rhode Island. He served in the Navy during World War II. Following his service, he returned to Worcester where he was an employee of the Chain Belt Company. He was married to Lucy A. (last name not known). Carleton was 79 years old when he died on July 5, 2005.
  2. Donald Myles was born February 26, 1927 in Worcester. He served in the Navy during World War II. Upon his return from the War he moved back with his parents for several years. In 1958 he was working as a salesman at Denholm & McKay Company in Worcester. In 1961 he was a beautician at David’s House of Beauty. Donald was 64 years old when he died on November 3, 1991 in Sun City, Riverside County, California. I did not find a record of marriage for him.
  3. Barbara A was born about 1929 in Worcester. She married Luther G. Avirett, and in 2011 they were living in Bradenton, Florida. She and her husband might still be living. I could not find a record of them beyond 2011 when mentioned in a sister-in-law’s obituary.
  4.  Leroy Hebert was born April 24, 1930 in Worcester. By 1992 he was living in Phoenix, Arizona where he died on September 28, 1998. He was 68 years old. I do not know if he ever married.
  5. Carol Virginia was born November 12, 1933 in Worcester. She married Edmond J. Robidioux. Edmond served in the Navy during World War II, and died in 1983. Carol was 67 years old when she died March 29, 2001 in Worcester.

I have not tried to identify the grandchildren of Marshall. Many are still living. This can be a project of Marshall’s descendants.

Marshall had a number of jobs. In his early years, he was a woodworker and made pianos. In 1917, he was a tool room foreman at the Norton Company, and in 1920, he was working as a machinist. In 1927 he was working as a shipping clerk, and he did this for several years. I don’t know how he fared during the depression, and he might have lost his position as a shipping clerk when so many others lost their jobs and manufacturing was struggling. By 1939, he was a landscape gardener. In 1940 he was a salesman, and again in 1941 he was working as a gardener. By 1942 he was working as a salesman at the Worcester Rod and Gun Club. He then became a sales clerk for Iver Johnson Sporting Goods, where he worked for 10 years until his retirement in 1955.

Marshall registered for the draft in 1917, and again in 1942. The draft cards give us a little more information on what he looked like. He was 5’5”, and in 1942 weighed 157 pounds. He had light brown hair. The 1917 draft card said he had grey eyes, and the 1942 card said he had blue eyes.

Marshall completed one year of high school. It was not unusual for young men and women to leave school early during this time period in New England in order to go to work.

Lucy and Marshall stayed together until separated by death. Marshall died from a heart attack on February 29, 1956. He was 66 years old. He is buried at Pine Grove Cemetery in Leicester, Massachusetts in a lot owned by the Carleton family. His wife, Lucy, died February 20, 1991 at the age of 96. I have a copy of Marshall’s obituary, but do not know which paper it was published. It was probably a Worcester newspaper.

1956 February 29
Marshall F. Cortis, Sportsman, Dies.

Marshall F. (Curt) Cortis, 66, of 2 Kings St. who retired a year ago after 10 years as a sales clerk for Iver Johnson Sporting Goods Co., died Wednesday in City Hospital.
Before joining Iver Johnson’s, he worked for Worcester Rod and Gun Club. He was widely known in the Worcester area as a sportsman.

He was born in Hingham, son of Fred O. and Ella S. Cortis, and had lived in Worcester 45 years. He leaves his wife, Mrs. Lucy May (Carleton) Cortis, six sons, Chester M. of Jamaica, L.I., NY, Norman E. of Oxford and Carleton E., Donald M. and Leroy H. all of Worcester; five daughters, Evelyn L. of New York City and Bertha M, Lillian G. wife of Bernard Thibodeau, Barbara A., wife of Luther G. Avirett, and Carol V. wife of Edmond J. Robideaux, all of Worcester; a brother Bernard C. Remington of Malden, and 12 grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held Friday at 11 am in the Athy Memorial Home, 4 King Street. Rev. C. Fraser Kierstead, pastor of First Church, Old South Congregational, will officiate. Calling hours at the funeral home will be 2 to 5 and 7 to 10 pm today.

Although we know a lot more about Marshall Cortis, we still don’t know what the man was like. What kind of relationship did he have with his children from his first wife, who no longer lived with him after Ella died? Why didn’t they come to live with him after he remarried? Did the children from his first marriage have any type of relationship with the children from the second marriage? Did he feel like his birth parents had abandoned him? Did he have a relationship with his birth mother and birth father, as well as his brother? Lots of questions, and we will probably never know the answers.

Ruth Andrews grew up as an only child. I wonder how she would feel to know that she had so many half siblings.

The next post will be on the birth parents of Marshall Cortis – Bernard Collan Remington and Margaret L. Deveau.

Until then…..

Finding the Father of Ruth Andrews DeBoise – Breaking Down Brick Walls with DNA

DNA symbol

Who was the father of Ruth Andrews DeBoise? That was the big mystery in the search for her ancestors. If Ruth’s mother, Blanche, knew the man who fathered her daughter, she did not tell anyone. She was only 16 when she became pregnant. She was single, and an only child who was doted on by her parents. All that was known about him was that he was white, and probably Irish or Scandinavian. This was 1912. Although there have always been interracial relationships, it was still not common or accepted. And family lore indicated that this was not a consensual relationship.

I wrote for and received Ruth’s birth certificate – no father was listed. I double checked with her death certificate – unknown. Family did not know. I was stuck for many years, and wondered if I would ever find the answer.

I’m sure you have all seen Ancestry’s DNA ads – “I thought I was German, and found out I was Irish (or something like that!)”; “I had no idea I was Native American”, etc. When I started looking for DeBoise family information, DNA was not part of the “toolkit”. You went to town halls, talked to the elders, and as access to the Internet became easier, you connected with other researchers to share information. A great world of resources opened when Ancestry.com and Family Search offered access to their records on the Internet.

A few years ago, 23 and Me, Ancestry, and a few other companies began offering DNA testing at an affordable cost. Why take a DNA test? For many people, all they want to know is their ethnic background. For others, it can help identify, or confirm, ancestors. Adoptees use DNA to help find their birth parents. As more people take the DNA test and their results become part of the database, the chances of finding the answers and identifying the unknown ancestor becomes greater.

My sister and I, and both my parents, took the Ancestry DNA test several years ago, when it was still in the relatively “new” stage. We were curious about our ethnic background, and we were hoping that we could break down some of our brick walls – particularly on those common names of Smith and Cook. You get half your DNA from your father and the other half from your mother. The DNA that you get is random. Just because you have the same parents, it does not mean that you get the same DNA segments. Only identical twins receive the same DNA.

That’s why siblings can have different skin tones, different color eyes, and different color hair. That’s why we look different. For example, my ethnicity estimates are 27% Irish; 27% Scandinavian, and 24% Great Britain. My sister’s estimates are 31% Scandinavian, 25% Great Britain, and 19% Irish. I had dark blonde hair (before it turned grey!) and green eyes. She has platinum blonde hair and blue eyes. We have the same background, but in different percentages because of the random distribution of DNA from our parents.

So, I felt that DNA might be the way to identify this elusive man. After much persuasion and several years after I had my DNA tested, one of Ruth and James’s children agreed to DNA testing. Oh happy days! The test is very simple. I ordered the test kit from Ancestry, the DNA donor spit in a vial, and off the spit went to Ancestry for analysis. A few weeks later, we had the results.

The most immediate result was the ethnicity estimates. The ethnicities of the children of Ruth and James are: Benin/Togo; Ireland/Scotland/Wales; Scandinavia; Mali; Cameroon/Congo; Europe South; Great Britain; Native American; and several other African countries. I did not share the percentages, because each child who tests will have different percentages in each of these regions – explaining why everyone looks similar but yet different.

Finding matches to help you identify unknown ancestors can be a little more challenging. I had a learning curve in understanding how to use the results to find the answers I was seeking. Fortunately, others have taken the time to write easy to understand information on interpreting DNA results, and YouTube also has some good videos. GEDMATCH.com is a free site where you can upload your raw DNA results and expand your potential matches, in addition to the matches provided by Ancestry. When you find potential matches, you usually need to do some more work to find out who your common ancestor is. It takes time and patience.

After about a year, I began to see a number of relatives that shared DNA with the DuBose family who originated in South Carolina, both white and black. I was able to connect these relatives to Peter Purdept DuBose. This family was discussed in one of the earlier blogs on the DeBoise family.

After a year, I still had not been able to figure out who Ruth’s father was. I found a number of matches from Nova Scotia, which I could tell were from the Andrews side of the family. However, the people I connected with did not know who in their family might have lived in New England – and they were still living in Nova Scotia! But I am a patient person. I figured as more people tested their DNA and the results were added to the databases, the chances would increase that I would eventually find out the answers.

And then the pieces began to fall together. I had several very close matches, contacted the individuals, and was able to identify who their common ancestor was. Through genealogy research, confirmed by the amount of DNA that was passed down, I was able to determine that this common ancestor was Marshall Frederick Cortis! The matches were all grandchildren of this man, and cousins of the child of Ruth and James who had completed the DNA test. I was able to connect with a woman who had worked on the genealogy of her husband, a grandson of Marshall Cortis, and she was a goldmine. She shared pictures of Marshall, an adoption record for him, and the birth certificate of his father.

The pictures were unbelievable. The family resemblance between the sons of Ruth and James, and Marshall Frederick is uncanny, and there is no question that they are related.

We will never know the exact details of the relationship between Blanche Louise Andrews and Marshall Frederick Cortis. However, they had a daughter – Ruth Martha Andrews – who was deeply loved by her family. Ruth’s children, grandchildren, and great children are many, and the numbers continue to grow! Blanche would be very proud of her daughter, her descendants and their accomplishments.

The next post will be on Marshall Frederick Cortis, and what I have been able to find out about his story.

Stay cool. When you think you have had enough of the blistering summer heat, think back on those very frigid days we had in New England last winter. I don’t think I’m ready to repeat that just yet!

Until next time…..

The Children of James and Nancy Wallace of Monson

The last blog was on James and Nancy Wallace, the first African-American family with the name of Wallis/Wallace to settle in Monson, Massachusetts. James and Nancy moved from New York to Massachusetts around 1800.

In a previous post I wrote about their son Samuel and his wife, Emily Green, direct ancestors of Ruth Andrews DeBoise. I am going to finish with the remaining children of James and Nancy: DOLLY, HENRY, ROXANNA, and DICKERSON.

1. DOLLY was born about 1801 in Palmer, Massachusetts and is the oldest of the identified children of James and Nancy. On June 30, 1830 she was admitted as a member of the First Congregational Church of Monson. She was also listed as the head of household in the 1830 Federal Census in Monson, with one adult male and one male child under 10 years of age living in her home. By 1832, Dolly and her family were living in Palmer. On September 28, 1832 she married Joel Hazzard in Stafford, Connecticut. Joel was born about 1798 in Connecticut.

By 1839 she and her family had moved to Brookfield, Massachusetts. Dolly must have been a strong woman who handled her own money. She purchased three acres in Brookfield for $36 in 1844. Although she would not have been allowed to sell the property without her husband’s permission, the deed was in her name. In 1865, she needed the court’s permission to obtain a mortgage on her property without her husband’s consent. Joel deserted her in October 1861 and was supposedly living with another woman in New Haven, Connecticut in March 1862. Joel could not be found and Dolly was able to obtain the mortgage without his signature. She sold the property to her son Lorenzo in 1867.

Dolly was listed as a widow in the 1865 Massachusetts State Census, although I have not found a death record for Joel. She was 82 years old when she died on June 29, 1883 in Brookfield from apoplexy (stroke).

Dolly and Joel had at least five children. Three of her sons served in the Civil War. (1) James served in the Massachusetts 5th Colored Calvary as a Private. (2) George Alfred also was a Private in the Massachusetts 5th Colored Calvary. (3) Charles was 17 years old when he died from consumption in 1856. (4) Jane was last found in 1875 living at the State Farm in Cranston, Rhode Island. She was a domestic, and the State Farm was an almshouse for the poor. (5) Lorenzo was a Sargent in the Massachusetts 5th Colored Infantry.

Alfred Hazard Brookfield Cemetery
Alfred Hazzard Co. E Mass. Cav. Brookfield Cemetery

2. HENRY B was born between 1808 and 1812 in Monson. On January 16, 1842 he married Lucinda (Lucy) Johnson. Henry and Lucy had at least seven children: (1) Charles (2) George (3) Ann (4) Emmeretta (Emma) married George Hazzard, son of her aunt Dolly and Emma’s first cousin. (5) Henry Cady married Eveline Newport, then married Charlotte Oakley. Charlotte married George Hazzard following Henry’s death. George and Emma had separated by the time of this marriage. (6) John W was 20 years old when he died from consumption in 1865. (7) Elizabeth Sarah was nine years old when she died from consumption in 1864.

By 1860 Henry and Lucy were no longer living together. On October 24, 1874 Henry married Ellen H. Pennington Van Dusen. Henry worked as a laborer on local farms. On April 3, 1881 Henry was burnt to death. He was 69 years old.

3. ROXANNA (sometimes listed as Rosanna) was born about 1813. She was the mother of one child, Charles Henry Wallace. She was about 15 years old when he was born. Roxanna was also a member of the First Congregational Church of Monson. She was 22 years old when she died on September 18, 1835 in Palmer.

4. DICKERSON (Dick) was born about 1814. On March 22, 1845 he married Elvira Jenkins. In 1850 he was living with his mother, Nancy, and stepfather Henry Miller in Monson and worked as a farm laborer. His family was not living with him. Dick died May 25, 1861 in Monson from dropsy (edema). He was about 45 years old. Dick and Elvira had one daughter, Martha. Martha married William L. Mason of Springfield, and was 37 years old when she died from phthisis (tuberculosis).

As I researched the descendants of the children of James and Nancy, I found that many of the families of color living in Palmer and Monson at the time James and Ruth raised their family were related to the original Wallace family.

I have written the stories of the African-American ancestors of James and Ruth (Andrews) DeBoise – at least what I have found in my research. There is much more to be told, and I hope that some of their descendants will continue to add to their stories.

I will be moving on to Ruth Andrews’ father, and his ancestors. His family stretches back to the earliest settlers in New England, including a direct ancestor who was on the Mayflower. He also has family from Nova Scotia.

The next blog will be about using DNA for genealogy research, and how DNA helped to identify the father of Ruth Andrews.

Soon we will be celebrating the 4th of July – Independence Day. I wonder how our ancestors celebrated the 4th. James and Ruth DeBoise took their family annually to Forest Lake to celebrate the 4th. This annual outing was something the children really enjoyed.

Forest Lake Methuen Mass
Forest Lake in Methuen, Mass.

Enjoy Independence Day – celebrate with family, have a cookout, and just have lots of fun!

Until next time…..


James and Nancy Wallace – the Original Family Settlers in Monson, Massachusetts

We recently celebrated Memorial Day. Although Memorial Day was established to honor those who died in American wars, for our family it is also a time to visit the graveyards and remember our departed loved ones. We clean the gravestones, and leave flowers as a tribute to those who were close to us. We hope that our children and grandchildren will continue this tradition when we are no longer able to do so.


James and Ruth DeBoise

In the last post I finished the story of SAMUEL and EMILY WALLACE and their fifteen children. This week we are visiting with JAMES and NANCY, Samuel’s parents.


In one of my early trips to Monson town hall, long before records were on the Internet and you had to search for information the old fashion way spending hours looking through the original records, I was going through all of Monson’s vital records looking for information on anyone named Wallis or Wallace. Thankfully Monson is not a large town and this task was manageable. The staff working at the Town Hall was really nice and let me have access to the records. Not all places that I have visited in my genealogy research have been so helpful.

I found a card in the death index for JAMES WALLACE who died January 23, 1823. All it said about him, besides his date of death, was male and Black. In 1823 Monson, there were very few black families. JAMES WALLACE was listed in the 1820 Monson Federal Census, with one male over 45 years of age, and nine free black persons in the family. Until 1850, only the name of the Head of Household was listed in the census, making the connection of early families more difficult.

Was James the grandfather of the James who served in the Civil War and was married to Anna Gibbons? Naming a child after one’s father is a common naming practice. How was the “Widow Wallace”, a free black in the 1830 Federal Census, related to this James?

After many years of not finding answers to my questions, I began building “family trees” for all the old Wallace/Wallis families and I began to find the connections. I found the given name of “Widow” Wallace (Nancy), where she and her first husband James were from, and the children who were born after they moved to Massachusetts. Their story is not complete, but it is no longer silent.

The Wallace family is one of the earliest black families to settle in Monson. The JAMES WALLACE family, the first Wallace family found in the records for Monson, is from New York. They are first listed in the 1820 Federal Census as living in Monson, but might have been living in Palmer as early as 1801 when one of their children was born. They were not found living as an independent household in the 1800 or 1810 census for Palmer. However, only heads of households were listed, and if they lived with another family they would be listed as a number of free persons of color in that household.

So why would they move to Massachusetts from New York around the turn of the century? We don’t know if they were free people of color when living in New York. Slavery had not ended in New York, and did not end until 1827. In 1799, New York passed a gradual emancipation law that freed children born after July 4, 1799, but they were indentured until they were young adults. In 1817 a new law was passed freeing all slaves but not until 1827.

Massachusetts and Vermont had both abolished slavery before 1800. Blacks in Massachusetts could vote, and could move within the state without legal restrictions. Although I will never know for certain, James and Nancy probably moved to Massachusetts from New York because they knew they could raise their family without the threat of slavery.

The family is listed under James Wallace in the 1820 Federal Census with nine in the family, and as a free family of color. The family is listed in the 1830 Federal Census in Monson as Widow Wallace with seven in the family, again as a free family of color. Dolly Wallace (James and Nancy’s daughter) is listed as head of a separate household. I believe that all of the early Wallace families from Monson are related to James and Nancy. Birth records in Monson for this time period are very incomplete. Marriage, death, and census records were very helpful in trying to tie these relationships together.

JAMES WALLACE was born between 1755 and 1770 in New York. This is an estimated date of birth, based on various dates of birth given for his wife Nancy. Men were generally, but not always, a few years older than their wife. He died on January 23, 1823 in Monson. James probably worked as a laborer on the farms in Monson.

NANCY (last name unknown) was born between 1757 and 1775 in Staten Island, New York. She was listed as the head of house in the 1830 census in Monson, with seven living in the household, including one female between 36 and 55 years of age. On April 10, 1841 she filed intentions to marry (2) HENRY MILLER. He was born about 1797 in New York. She is listed in the 1850 census as Nancy Miller in the household of Henry Miller. She is 80 years old and he is 57 years old and a laborer. Neither Henry nor Nancy can read or write. Her son Dickerson is also living in the household.

In the 1855 Massachusetts State Census she is living in the household of her son Henry, is 91 years old and blind. Her husband is no longer living. She died February 13, 1860. Her death record states she was widowed and 103 years of age. I think she was old, but not that old. The 1850 census indicates that she was 80, and the 1830 census indicates that there was one female 36 – 55 years old in the household, both placing her birth around 1770 or 1775. Her youngest child was born in 1816. It is very unlikely a woman is having a baby when she is 60 years old!

I found records on five of their children. They might have had more. Children of James and Nancy are:


The families of Dolly, Henry, Roxanna and Dickerson will be discussed in the next blog.

Have a great week!


The Last Will and Testament of Samuel Wallace

Will Samuel Wallace

Before I move on to Samuel’s parents, James and Nancy, I want to share Samuel’s will. Not often am I fortunate enough to find a will from one of the early ancestors. When Samuel was mentioned as having a will in the book “Black Families in Hampden County, Massachusetts, 1650-1855” by Joseph Carvalho, I had to try to get a copy. I wrote to the Probate Court in Springfield, and they not only sent me a copy of the will, but also everything that they had in his file for settling his estate. I was thrilled! Not only did this information tell me which of his children were alive at the time of his death, but it also gave me more information on his property – real and personal. I will do my best in transcribing the documents for you.

Be it remembered that I, Samuel Wallace of Monson County of Hampden in the State of Massachusetts being of sound mind and memory, but knowing the uncertainty of this life, do make this my last will and testament.
After the payment of my just debts and funeral charges, I bequeath and devise as follows:
I give bequeath and devise to my beloved wife Emily Wallace all of my estate both real and personal of which I may die seized to her sole use forever.
I appoint my wife Emily Wallace to be executrix of the my last will and testament and request the Judge of Probate to require of her no surety or sureties on her official Bond.
In testimony whereof, I hereunto set my hand, and in the presence of three witnesses declare this to be my last Will, this Twelfth day of March in the year one thousand eight hundred and Eighty-Eight.
                                                       Samuel X Wallace
On this Twelfth day of March A.D. 1888 Samuel Wallace of Monson Mass has made his mark signed the foregoing instrument in our presence, declaring it to be his last Will, and as witnesses thereof we three do now, at his request, in his presence, and in the presence of each other, hereto subscribe our names.
                                                             Geo Hunter
                                                            Geo E. Fuller
                                                         Tha L Cushman

George Fuller was a physician, Thaddeus L Cushman was President of the Bank, and they both lived in Monson. I found a George Hunter from Holyoke who worked in a silk mill. This might have been the third witness.

Samuel died March 14, 1888, two days after completing his will. He knew he was dying and, because he had property, wanted to make sure that his wife would inherit his estate.

On February 8, 1889 Edwin R. King petitioned the court to be named administrator of the will, in that Emily Wallace had died after her husband, and before this date. Although I was never able to find the date of death of Emily, I know that it occurred between March 1888 and February 1889. Edwin R. King is the husband of Nancy Wallace.

To the Honorable the Judge of the Probate Court in and for the County of Hampden:

Respectfully represents Edwin R. King of Palmer in the County of Hampden that Samuel Wallace who last dwelt in Monson in said County of Hampden, died on the Fourteenth day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and Eighty-Eight possessed of goods and estates remaining to be administered, leaving a widow. Whose name was Emily Wallace (since deceased) and as his only heirs-at-law and next of kin, the persons whose names, residence, and relationship to the deceased are as follows:

Sarah Law, wife of George P. Law – of New Bedford, Mass, daughter.
James Wallace of Monson, Mass – son.
Alanson Wallace of New Bedford, Mass – son.
Betsey Wallace Thompson of Palmer, Mass – daughter.
Rosanna Kelsey of Palmer, Mass. – wife of Sidney Kelsey, Palmer, daughter.
Emily Mason of Palmer, Mass wife of Wm Mason – daughter.
Nancy King wife of E.R. King of Palmer, Mass – daughter.
Mary Wallace of Monson, Mass – daughter.
Julia Wallace of Monson, Mass – daughter.

That said deceased left a WILL herewith presented, wherein his widow was named executrix but she having since died the heirs at law request your petition to act.

Wherefore your petitioner prays that said will may be proved and allowed, and letters of administration with the will annexed issued to him.

Dated the Eight day of February A.D. 1889.
Edwin R. King

The undersigned being all the heirs-at-law and next of kin, and the only parties interested in the foregoing petition, request that the prayer thereof be granted, without further notice.”

The Court responded by setting a date Edwin King was to appear in court – March 1, 1889 – and he was to give public notice by publishing in the Palmer Journal once a week for three weeks his request to be named executor of the estate to ensure that no one else wanted this job.
On the Sixth of March, 1889 Edwin R. King was appointed executor of the estate.

Edwin presented to the court, on this same date, the debts of the estate.

Dr. W. H. Stowe Medical attendance 23.00
Dr. Wilkins 8.50
John Monyhair 2 caskets etc. 89.00
Taxes due town of Monson 6.40
Teams to Funeral J.T. Stevens 3.75
Teams to Funeral L. G. Cushman 2.50
Geo H. Newton’s account 3.00
Frank Warren – mortgage 32.80
W. N. Flynt Co. – Robes etc. 3.10
George E. Fuller medical attendance 47.00
Total debts – $229.05

On March 7, 1889, the value of the amount of Real Estate was appraised at $400 for the home place of about 15 acres with buildings. The amount of Personal Estate was appraised at $5.00 for household effects and stone tools.

Samuel must have been a stone mason since he had stone tools, and probably taught his two sons, James and Alanson, the trade since they also became stone masons.

To be appointed as executor of the estate, Edwin had to put up eight hundred dollars in bond. He got the help of his father, Sylvannus King of Monson, and his brother, Albert King of Palmer, in pledging the money for the bond. The order of appointment was signed March 8, 1889. No wonder none of the other family members wanted this job!

On March 17, 1889, Edwin presented an accounting of the estate. Debts totaled $229.05. A charge for administration was $45.00, increasing debts to $274.05. Personal estate amounted to $5, which did not cover the debts. Real estate was appraised at $400, and must be sold to satisfy the debts.

“Home place of the late Samuel Wallace situated northerly of the farm of Rev. James Tufts containing Fifteen acres more or less together with the buildings thereon.”

Edwin was licensed to sell the real estate in order to pay the debts and settle the estate.

You would think that the land would be sold, the debts paid off, the remainder split among the heirs, and that would be the end of it. Well, think again!

I found two small pieces of property auctioned off in 1891 because of nonpayment of 1890 taxes by the heirs of Samuel Wallace. Thirty-nine and one-half cents was owed on 1¼ acres near the Rock House. This was purchased by Truman Watross at public auction for nine dollars.

On another one acre lot of land near Rock House, fifteen and one-half cents was owed for taxes. This land was purchased by David J. Anderson of Monson at public auction for twenty dollars.

Some of Samuel and Emily’s ancestors might be ambitious enough to figure out how to use new technology to discover exactly where their land was located. I found land records for Massachusetts on FamilySearch.org. You can also visit http://www.masslandrecords.com/ for Massachusetts Land Records. I have not used this site before, so it might be fun to see what you can find on the Wallace family, other relatives, or other property you are interested in.

Until the next time….

The Children of Samuel and Emily Wallace, continued

Wallace_Hillside Cemetery_Monson
Hillside Cemetery, Monson, Massachusetts

In the last post, I shared information on Samuel and Emily (Green)Wallace, and four of their fifteen children: Samuel Jr., Baby Boy, Sarah, and James. I will continue with their children. All of the children were born in Monson.

5. ALANSON was born about 1842. He was living with his parents when he followed his brother James and enlisted as a Private in Company A, Massachusetts 54th Regiment during the Civil War. He was mustered in at Camp Meigs, Massachusetts on March 30, 1863 at the same time as his brother James. Alanson was wounded at the assault on Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863. A ball passed through the flesh under his right arm and across his stomach. In spite of the injury, he was present for all muster rolls until his discharge on August 20, 1865.
Following his discharge he returned to Monson.

On November 30, 1871 he married Alice Cutter in Monson. I do not know if they had any children, but the marriage did not last long. By 1879 Alanson had moved to New Bedford and was living with his sister Sarah and her husband George Law. Alice died August 27, 1892 in Springfield.

Alanson married (2) Laura Stevens on July 21, 1896 in New Bedford. They had two daughters, Emily born in 1893, and Mary born in 1896. Alanson died October 16, 1896 in New Bedford of heart disease, almost three months after his marriage to Laura. He was 54 years old. Laura died August 11, 1897 of typhoid fever. She was 36 years old and left two orphan daughters.

Alanson applied for an invalid pension three times between 1891 and 1894 – all times denied. He claimed disability due to a wound received during the War. He also received a cut on the underside of the left ankle which he incurred while mowing with a scythe following the War. He claimed to have chronic diarrhea which was contracted at Morris Island, South Carolina in the summer of 1863. A later application also indicated he had heart disease and rheumatism. Medical examinations found him to be emaciated and poorly nourished. He also walked with a limp. Significant disability was not found and he was not awarded a pension.

Alanson’s occupation was a mason’s helper and a laborer.

6. BETSEY E. was born in June 1844. In 1870, Betsey was keeping house for Wayne Coles and his young son in Monson. In 1880 she was a servant in the home of the Sanford family in Palmer. On February 14, 1885 she married Enos Thompson in Amherst, Massachusetts. Enos died in 1889, leaving Betsey a widow at 45. By 1889 she was living in Springfield where she lived for the rest of her life. She worked both as a domestic servant and as a laundress. The 1900 census indicated that she had one child who was still living, but no other records were found of any children. Betsey was 78 years old when she died in 1922.

7. ROSANNA was born in May 1846. As early as fourteen years of age she was working as a domestic servant, while still attending school. In October 1863 she had a baby, who died four months later. The name of the father was not identified on the birth record. As early as 1866 she had established a relationship with Sidney Kelson and began having children with him. Sidney was a Civil War Veteran. He was born in 1828 and was 18 years older than Rosanna. According to Rosanna’s widow application for a pension based on his military service, they had nine children together. However, by 1900 only three of those children were living. Rosanna and Sidney married April 15, 1889. They married because Palmer authorities gave them the ultimatum to marry or move out of town. Sidney had been married to another woman. The other woman did remarry and died shortly before his marriage to Rosanna. Rosanna moved to Springfield shortly before Sidney’s death in 1901, and Sidney moved to the “almshouse” for care.

Sidney Kelson Co.1_29thConnInf
Oak Knoll Cemetery, Palmer, Mass.

Comments on her application for a widow’s pension by those who reviewed her case stated that Sidney had stomach cancer and other ailments, and when he could no longer work Rosanna “practically” deserted him and moved to Springfield. He did not want to go with her, but did go to her house one day before his death. Her application for a widow’s pension was denied, largely because the investigators did not feel she was of good “moral” character. She was seeing other men before and after her husband’s death. While in Springfield, she worked as a laundress. Rosanna was 61 years old when she died on December 19, 1907 in Springfield from apoplexy (stroke).

8. EMILY M. was born in about 1849. On June 6, 1868, when she was 19 years old, she married William Mason. William was born in Maryland and was also 19 at the time of his marriage. Emily kept house for her family, while her husband farmed his own farm, and his sons, as they got older, worked on farms in the town. The Masons lived in Palmer. Emily died sometime between 1889 and 1891. Her husband remarried and moved to Worcester in 1891. The Mason’s had at least nine children, seven who were living at the time of Emily’s death. They were: William Jr., Samuel, Harry, Robert, Charles who died at three months from diphtheria, Harriet Elizabeth, Katherine Louisa who was adopted by her aunt and uncle, Sarah Wallace and George Pascal, Betsey, and Moses Aaron who was 20 months old when he died in 1889 from consumption.

9. INFANT BOY was born on July 20, 1849 and died before the 1850 Federal Census was taken.

10. NANCY M was born on August 31, 1851. In 1870, when she was 19 years old, she was working as a domestic servant. She had a son, Albert Wallis Smith, son of John Smith, who was born that year. Nancy and John were not married. Albert was 7 years old when he died in 1877 from diphtheria.

On November 24, 1880, Nancy married Edwin Russell King. Nancy was 29 and Edwin was 37. Edwin was from Monson and was a farmer and stonemason. He was also white. Edwin and Nancy had two children, Albert and Frank Edward; however both died very young and before 1900. Sadly, none of her children lived to adulthood. Nancy was 51 when she died on September 5, 1902 in Palmer from acute endocarditis (inflammation of the heart values). By 1910 Edwin was living in the Alms House in Palmer, and he died the following year.

11. FRANKLIN was born in November 1852. When he was 18 he was working in a grist mill. He died on May 13, 1873 from consumption (tuberculosis). He was 19 years old. He did not marry.

12. N was a baby girl born on October 23, 1853 and she died before 1855. Nothing else is known about her, and her name, found in birth records, was only referred to by an initial.

13. BABY BOY was born early in 1854 or 1855 and died on July 13, 1855 from cholera. A birth record was not found.

14. MARY MARILLA was born on August 24, 1855. In 1877, when she was 22, she had a daughter, Elizabeth. Her father is unknown. Elizabeth died the following year from diphtheria. In 1880 she was a live-in servant in the Samuel Cushman house. By 1892 she was living in Palmer. In 1900 she rented her home, and had three male boarders. One of those boarders was Adin Ryder, who was married at the time. She would later marry him.

Mary worked as a housekeeper. In 1903, her daughter Beatrice Madeline Wallace was born. Adin was her father. Beatrice married Ralph Johnson. Her son, Kenny Johnson, married Barbara Rose DeBoise, daughter of James and Ruth.

By 1910, Adin was no longer living in her home. The Federal Census said Mary had three children, but only one was living. By 1920, Adin is again living with her. By 1930, Adin and Mary have married. She stated in the Census that she was 57 at her first marriage. Mary died April 25, 1936, and is buried in Hillside Cemetery in Monson.

15. JULIA ANN was born on June 14, 1859. She lived her early years in Monson, but had moved to Palmer by 1886. She moved to Palmer about the same time her brother James moved. They both lived on Dublin Street during the same time period. Julia worked as a housekeeper and laundress. She never married. However, she had four children. The fathers of the children are not known. The children were: Otis, Horatio, Agnes and Mary. Julia was 53 years old when she died on July 12, 1912 from chronic nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys). She is buried in Hillside Cemetery in Monson.

With such a large family, Samuel and Emily have many, many descendants.

The next post will be on Samuel’s parents, James and Nancy Wallace, and his brothers and sisters that I have identified. James and Nancy were the first of the Wallace family to live in Monson.

Sunday is Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to all who are mothers, step mothers, and foster mothers.

Enjoy the beautiful weather that we are having. Memorial Day is in a few weeks. Don’t forget to visit the grave sites of your loved ones, and those who may have been forgotten. Let’s remember what they gave us that helps to make us who we are.

Until next time, as we continue to climb this branch of the tree…….

Samuel and Emily (Green) Wallace of Monson, Massachusetts, Part 1

SAMUEL WALLACE was born about 1811 in Monson, the son of James and Nancy Wallace. Samuel was the second generation of Wallace’s living in Monson. There were 31 black individuals in Monson when Samuel was born, a small number for this rural community. Samuel had at least two sisters and two brothers, and he was the second oldest.

When Samuel was born, James Madison was President, and was elected to his second term in 1812. Our relationship with Great Britain was strained as Britain had seized over 4,000 American sailors, and trade between the two countries came to a halt. By 1812, we were once again fighting Great Britain. The War lasted for two years, and the United States was clearly established as an independent country upon its conclusion.

Indian chiefs Tecumseh and his brother, The Prophet, were trying to unite various tribes of Indians to fight the whites and maintain their lands. They were defeated at the Battle of Tippecanoe (Lafayette, Indiana) by William Henry Harrison, then the Governor of Indiana and a future President.

Samuel married EMILY A. GREEN on March 7, 1838 in Monson. She was born about 1811 in Ashford, Connecticut. Although no record of her birth was found, Ashford was referred to as her place of birth on multiple records related to her children as they stated the place of birth of their mother. I could not find information on her parents, but there was one black household by the name of “Green” in Ashford – Major Green. I have not been able to determine their relationship.

Samuel was a lifelong resident of Monson, and was listed in the all the federal and state censuses from 1840 until his death. His occupation was listed as a laborer or farmer, and records list him as black. He and his wife purchased and sold property in Monson. He first purchased land in September 1832, and he and his wife continued to purchase small plots of land, or sell land, or use land as collateral for loans for themselves. In March 1887 Samuel and Emily sold 7 ¾ acres to the town of Monson for $150 reserving the right to live in the premises as long as they were living. They still owned land at the time of their death.

Samuel died on March 14, 1888 from paralysis. He was 77 years of age. He is buried in Hillside Cemetery in Monson in an unmarked grave.

Samuel’s will was prepared and signed two days before his death. Samuel left all his property and estate to his wife Emily, who was to be sole executor. However, Emily died shortly after Samuel. Edwin R. King, Samuel’s son-in-law, was appointed administrator February 8, 1889. Assessment of the property was valued at $400 real estate – 15 acres plus building, and $5 personal effects. Debts amounted to $229.05 – mostly medical and funeral expenses. The property was sold to satisfy debts and the balance was divided among living children.

Emily was able to purchase real estate in her own name in 1848 and 1867, somewhat unusual for a married woman. The land purchases were small plots adjoining their current home. The pension records for her son James stated that she worked for the parents of George H. Norcross for years. George H. Norcross’s father was said to be a prominent man and manufacturer in Monson. Census records indicated that she worked as a “washerwoman” or laundress. She owned a plot at Hillside Cemetery with her daughter, but there is no record of burial there. It is possible that there was a relationship between Emily and Prince Powers or his wife, Betsy Damon. Prince and Betsy were both living in Ashford when Emily was living there, and were listed in the 1840 Monson census living adjacent to Samuel Wallace. Samuel was involved in selling the Power’s property following his death in 1863. Records list Emily as black.

Emily died between March 14, 1888 and February 7, 1889. There is no record of her death and her place of burial has not been located. Her parents, or other family members, have not been identified.

Samuel Wallace and Emily A. Green had at least 15 children:

1. SAMUEL WALLACE JR. was born in 1833 in Monson. On February 19, 1855 he married Sarah Jane Porter. They had at least three children: Isabella who died shortly after birth, Lyman who also died as a child, and Harriett who lived to adulthood.

By 1860 Samuel Jr. and Sarah were living in Palmer. In 1870 they were living in Springfield, and owned real estate valued at $1,000 and personal property valued at $500. They were living in the same house as William Mason and his wife Jane, and had three white boarders. Samuel Jr. and William were both couriers, and Sarah worked as a domestic servant. By 1873 Samuel Jr. and Sarah had moved back to Palmer.

Samuel Jr. served in the Civil War. He enlisted July 26, 1864 after being drafted to fill a quota for the Palmer 10th congregational district. He originally enrolled as a private in the Massachusetts 54th, and was then assigned to I Company, Massachusetts 55th Regiment on October 23, 1864. These were both all black regiments. He was mustered in at Boston and mustered out on August 29, 1965 at Charlestown, South Carolina. Samuel’s occupation at enlistment was a courier, and he was 32 years old. Military papers described Samuel Jr. as 5’11” tall, with dark hair, dark eyes, and dark complexion. He received a $300 bounty for enlisting – $100 received at enlistment and $200 at discharge.

Prior to his work as a courier, he worked as a farmer and laborer. In 1873, Samuel Jr. was working as a brakeman on the railroad. Samuel Jr. was 43 years old when he died on March 5, 1876 from consumption (tuberculosis). Samuel Jr. is buried in the Palmer Cemetery and his grave is marked by a gravestone. His wife received a widow’s pension of $8/month beginning August 19, 1890. By 1912 that had increased to $12 per month.
Sarah owned her home at 17 Pine Street in Palmer. She was 81 years old when she died January 27, 1913 from an intestinal obstruction, and is buried in the Oak Knoll Cemetery in Palmer.

2. BABY BOY WALLACE was born in 1835 and died on 22 Oct 1839 in Monson at four years of age.

3. SARAH M. WALLACE was born November 4, 1837. Her tombstone says that she was born November 4, 1840; however, her younger brother James was born June 11, 1840 so that cannot be correct. Her marriage record states that she was 24 at the time of her marriage in 1861, and the 1900 Federal Census states that she was born in 1837.

In the 1855 Massachusetts State Census, Sarah was found living in Northampton with other single individuals, and “convict” was indicated for those individuals. Her brother James was found in the House of Corrections in Springfield for the same year. I have found since I wrote about James last week that the term does not necessarily mean they were incarcerated, but might have been receiving housing and services because they were indigent. Terms used in 1855 were not always used the way we would use them today.

Sarah married George Pascal Law on September 14, 1861 in Palmer. George was a porter at the time of his marriage. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on July 16, 1863 as a sailor during the Civil War,  and was discharged August 15, 1864. He served as a waiter on the ships Wabash and Augusta Dinsmore.

Following the Civil War Sarah and her husband moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts. In New Bedford George worked as a shoemaker, a shirt cutter, a foreman in a laundry, and a clerk. He also received a pension from the Navy for his Civil War Service.

George died January 31, 1899 in Wareham, Massachusetts from inflammation of the bowels. He was 58 years old. Following George’s death, Sarah moved to Wareham where she purchased a house. Sarah was 90 years old when she died on June 26, 1928 in Wareham. They are buried in Centre Cemetery in Wareham.

George and Sarah Law
George P. Law Sarah M. Law

George and Sarah did not have children of their own. However, they adopted her sister Emily’s daughter, Katherine Louisa Mason, and Katherine was known by her adoptive parents’ name of Law.

probably Catherine Law
Probably Catherine Law

4. JAMES WALLACE was discussed in a previous blog.

Since this is such a large family, the next blog will continue with the stories of the children of Samuel and Emily.

The daffodils are finally blooming at our home in Massachusetts, and it is really feeling like Spring! Have a wonderful week.

Until next time….