Remembering Our Ancestors: Mary Gardiner

Mary Conkling, daughter of Lion Gardiner and our 9th and 10th great-grandmother, passed away this week 293 years ago.

Mary Gardiner, our 9th and 10th great-grandmother in the Mulford line, was born on 30 August 1638 in Old Saybrook, CT, to Lion Gardiner, 1st Lord of the Manor on Gardiner’s Island, and his wife Marielven Willemson Deurcant, quite obviously of Dutch descent.

It is safe to assume that Mary and her two siblings, her older brother David and her younger sister Elisabeth, grew up on Gardiner’s Island.  Lion Gardiner purchased the island the year after Mary’s birth, in 1639, and gained the “right to possess the land forever” from the King of England.

Mary was named after her mother, whose Dutch name quite plainly translates to ‘Mary’, and we do not know much about her life until in 1658.  In that year Mary’s sister Elizabeth died (in February), and Mary married Jeremiah Conkling, most likely in East Hampton on Long Island, NY, where they then lived and raised their family.

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Their first child was a daughter and they named her Mary Gardiner Conkling, thus giving her her mother’s maiden name as a middle name.  This was not altogether uncommon, it seems:  It happened in the same way to Elizabeth Wise Speer and Sally Wise Felton in the Denney line of our family tree.  Mary Gardiner Conkling went on to marry into the Mulford line, and there you have three prominent names of the 17th century Suffolk County together: Gardiner, Conkling, Mulford.

Altogether, Jeremiah and Mary had five or six children, accounts vary, and they appear to have stayed in East Hampton where Jeremiah was an upstanding member of the community.  He passed on 16 years before Mary, in 1711, and she followed him on 15 June 1727 when she was 88.  She was laid to rest with Jeremiah in South End Cemetery in East Hampton.  The inscription on her tombstone reads:

Mary Gardiner gravestone inscription - Edited
Here lyeth the body of Mary Conkling wife of Jeremiah Conkling who died June 15, 1727

Requiescat in Pace, Great-Grandma Conkling.  To have lived to the ripe old age of 88 in 17th and 18th century colonial America is quite the achievement!


Remembering Our Ancestors: Lady Anne Jernegan

Our 15th and 16th Great-Grandmother Harris, nee Jernegan, lived in 15th century England during the War of the Roses.

Lady Anne Jernegan was born in 1448 in Herefordshire, England, if the Find-a-Grave record is correct, to Sir John Gilberd Jernedan and his wife Lady Agnes Jane Darell.  Times were spicy in England then as the War of the Roses between the House of Lancaster and the House of York was soon to be in full swing, and would not be resolved still by the time little Lady Anne was grown, had married, had children and passed on.

It appears that Lady Anne grew up in Herefordshire which lies up against the Welsh border in the west of England.  There, she also met and married William John Harris, son of John Harris and Anne Hartford, in 1467 when she was 19 years old.  They had three children during their marriage, if we are correctly informed.  Their son John Arthur was our direct forefather through Arilla Harris, mother of Mattie Mulford who married Steward Leslie Denney.

St Marys Churchyard in Prittlewell
St Mary’s Churchyard in Prittlewell, Southend, Essex

While the English nobles continued their feud, Anne and William apparently moved from one side of the country to the other for by the time Anne died on 4 May 1480, we find them living in Prittlewell in Essex, that is, on the south-eastern side of the country.  Anne, who died when she was only 32 years old, lies buried there as well as William, who passed on almost 25 years after Anne in 1504, and their son John Arthur (1468 – 1520), all, it appears, in St. Mary’s Churchyard where the gravestones are in disarray by now as you can see in the featured image.

Rest in Peace, Great-Grandma Harris.  England was in turmoil during your life, but you still managed to grow up, marry, have children, and carry on the torch.

Harris Coat of Arms
Harris Coat of Arms

Remembering Our Ancestors: Two Birthdays and a Burial

So many of our family lines go back to the early days of European settlement in the New World.

When I first looked at our family tree today there seemed to be no-one new to portrait this week, but I was quite wrong.  Within the last 12 months, we actually added three great-grandparents to the tree that all either were born or died within this past week.

In the Denney line:
The oldest of today’s ancestors in terms of distance from us is Humphry Shinton, our 10th and 11th great-grandfather.  He was born on 19 April 1640, in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England, to Humphrey and Elizabeth (Love).  He married Anne Perry on 6 June 1663, in his hometown, and they had two children during their marriage as far as we know.  Their daughter Elizabeth married Richard Felton, and the two of them immigrated to the New World in or around the 1680s.  Their great-granddaughter was Sally Wise Felton, wife of Azariah Denney.  Humphry Shinton died in August 1681 in Wolverhampton at the age of 41, and was buried there on 29 Aug 1681 in the churchyard of St. Peter’s.

In the Lindsey line:
Mary Duset, our 5th and 6th great-grandmother, was born on 3 December 1742 in Milton, Norfolk, MA.  Her parents Peter and Ruth (Newcomb) had at least four more children, and it appears as though Mary’s forefathers and -mothers had already been living in the New World for four generations.  Mary married Benjamin Everenden (later Everton) on 2 December 1760 in Stoughton, Massachusetts.  They had seven children, and their son Thomas was (great-) Grandma Irene‘s great-great-grandfather.  Mary’s husband Benjamin died ten years before America’s independence from England in 1766 and did not even live to see the birth of his last son who was named Benjamin (in his honor without a doubt), but Mary lived to be 80 years old and thus saw a good bit of what went on in the early days of independent America.  She passed away in Dorchester, Suffolk, MA on 4 March 1823.

In the Mulford line:
Our 3rd and 4th great-grandfather William Henry Harris was born on 25 April 1825, only two years after Mary had died, in Mason, West Virginia, the first child of Henry and Jane (Summers).  Four more children were to follow.  At some point in his youth or early adulthood, William Henry crossed the nearby Ohio river and on 21 July 1853, he married Joanna Dianne Brown in Gallia County, OH, but apparently the couple did not stay long on the western side of the Ohio.  Instead, they settled back on the West Virginia side and raised their family there.  We know of only one child that the two had, Arilla Jane Harris, who was Mattie Mulford‘s mother and who in turn became the mother of (great-) Grandpa Lorain.  On 8 January 1886, William Henry died in Mason County, WV at the age of 60, and as far as we know, he lies buried there.

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Requiescat in Pace, Humphry, Mary and William.



Remembering Our Ancestors: Henry Harris

This week 146 years ago, our 4th and 5th grandfather on the Denney side passed away.

Henry Harris’ granddaughter Arilla was the grandmother of our (great-)grandfather Lorain Franklin Denney, and the mother of our (2nd) great-grandmother Mattie Mulford.

When Henry Harris was born in 1792 or 1793, his ancestors had been living in Virginia for well nigh 200 years, that is, since the pilgrim Capt. Thomas Harris, first Harris clan member in the New World, had settled on land that now belongs to Henrico County, VA, in 1611.  Henry was born in Bedford County, Virginia, and appears to have spent his childhood there.  According to our records, he fought in the war of 1812 when he was between 20 and 25, as his later widow received a military pension based on this fact.

Speaking of which:  Henry Harris married Jane W. Summers on 13 Jun 1824 in Mason County, West Virginia.  Apparently,  Henry had made his way further west, and it was Mason county from which our (great-)grandfather Lorain Franklin Denney set out in the 1920s to southern Ohio where the family then settled.

Henry and Jane had at least five children, four boys and one girl.  Their oldest son was our direct ancestor and father of Arilla Harris, who married into the Mulford family and whose daughter then married a Denney.

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By the time Henry was in his 80s, he was living in Buffalo in Putnam County, WV, just south of Mason county.  This week 146 years ago, on 15 April of 1874, Henry Harris died in his 83rd year, and as far as we know, he was laid to rest in Buffalo.

Requiescat in Pace, Great-Grandpa Harris.



Remembering Our Ancestors: George Thomas Mulford

Our 2nd and 3rd great-grandfather George Mulford, who passed away today 95 years ago, lived close to the Ohio River, on the WV side.

The Mulfords had been living along the Ohio River for some time when George Thomas was born on 28 December 1849 to Abraham Mulford and Nancy Slack.  At the time, they were living in Wyoma, Mason County.  As far as we know, George Thomas was the youngest of three children; he had an older brother and an older sister.

On 7 Aug 1875 at the age of 25, George Thomas married Arilla Jane Harris.  The Harris family, too, had been in Mason County for the better part of a hundred years.  The two of them had ten children together, six boys and four girls.  One of their daughters was our (2nd) great-grandmother Mattie, who married Steward Leslie Denney.

George Thomas died on 12 March 1925 at the age of 75 and lies buried in De Linn Cemetery (Clendenin District), Gallipolis Ferry, Mason Co., WV.  It appears to be a very small cemetery over all, but his wife Arilla, who died later that same year, rests there as well.

I wish there were more that I could say about the life of our 2nd (and 3rd) great-grandparents.  But we have no pictures of them, nor do we know much about them other than names and what census data and Find-A-Grave provide.  They came from old families that had been prominent in their own way throughout the centuries, both on the Harris and on the Mulford side, and so there are some of their forefathers we know more about than about these rather close relatives.  It’s a shame, but there it is.

Requiescat in Pace, Great-Grandpa Mulford.

WV mason county

Remembering Our Ancestors: Isaac Hedges Jr.

Today we remember our 8th (and 9th) great-grandfather Isaac Hedges Jr., who passed on today 293 years ago.

Isaac Hedges Jr., first generation American-born Hedges, was born in 1664, the year in which New Amsterdam was captured by the English.  His father Isaac Sr. had immigrated from Kent in England sometime before 1664, and had married Joanna Barnes in 1664 in South Hampton on Long Island.  By the time Isaac Jr. was born, they were living in East Hampton, which had been established only about 15 years before, and it seems that Issac Jr. stayed in East Hampton his whole life.

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In 1685, Isaac Jr. married Mary Parsons Dayton.  Together, they had 11 children, as far as we know, and their first daughter Abigail went on to marry our 7th (and 8th) great-grandfather Captain Jeremiah Mulford, himself a great-grandson of Lion Gardiner.  From Captain Jeremiah the Mulford line goes right down to Mattie Mulford, our (2nd) great-grandmother who married Steward Leslie Denney.

Looking at the history of Long Island, it seems that Issac Jr. and his wife lived during comparatively peaceful times.  After the struggle between the Dutch and the English for control of the area, and a conflict between the governor and the people of Suffolk County about whether they were to belong to Connecticut or New York (which was settled in 1676), people appear to have had a chance to just live their lives and raise their families for about a century, until the Battle of Long Island in late August of 1776.  Isaac was 12 in 1676, and so all his adult life fell into that time span.

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Isaac Jr. died this day, 22 November, in 1726 in East Hampton at the age of 62.  And South End Cemetery in East Hampton is also where he was laid to rest, very fittingly.  Two-hundred years later, in 1926, painter Thomas Moran was buried in the same cemetery.

Rest in Peace, Great-Grandpa Hedges.  You and your loved ones are resting in good company, it seems.

Remembering Our Ancestors: Sir William and Alice Harris

This week we remember our 11th (and 12th) great-grandparents Sir William Harris I and his wife Alice Smythe.

Here we have two ancestors from the Harris line that joined first the Mulford line and in the next generation the Denney line.  Alice Smythe and her husband Sir William Harris, a knight, both died this week 404 and 403 years ago respectively.

Sir William Haris Knight
This photo shows a painting of Sir William Harris, and next to him is a rapier that is said to have been his. The photo can be found on Sir William’s Find-A-Grave memorial.

Sir William Harris I was born on 21 September 1556 in Woodham Ferrers in the county of Essex, England.  His wife Alice Smythe was born in the same year in Westenhanger, near Hythe in Kent, England.  Both villages are east of London, with Woodham Ferrers being further north.

Alice’s father was Sir Thomas Smythe, who was Collector of Customs under Elizabeth I.

William married Alice on 6 May 1583 in St Gabriel Fenchurch, London, and the family had their home at Creeksea Place Manor.  One of their seven children was our 10th (and 11th) great-grandfather Captain Thomas Harris.

William was knighted on 23 July 1603 at Whitehall on the eve of the coronation of James I.  Both he and his brother in law, Sir Thomas Smythe and his son, Sir Arthur Harris, each, were Incorporators and Subscribers to the third charter of the Virginia Company of London.  Both Harris and Smythe were very interested in the development of Virginia.  They exerted their influence to secure money, men, equipment, supplies, and ships for the colonization efforts.  Small wonder that William’s son Thomas immigrated, although there are still some unanswered questions concerning Thomas, and some more research appears to be necessary.

William and his wife Alice stayed in England, though, and died in Creeksea in the same month and almost exactly one year apart:  First Alice passed on on 10th November 1615, and then William on 14 November 1616.  They both were laid to rest in the All Saints Churchyard in Creeksea.

Rest in Peace, Great-Grandparents Harris.


Remembering Our Ancestors: Eight Grandparents

This October-week there are lots of ancestors to remember.

This week, the week from the 13th to the 19th of October, there are eight birth- and death-days of great-grandfathers and -mothers in our family tree to remember, from the 16th all the way almost into the 20th century.  Here they all are, from the earliest to the most recent.

Dorothy Daubeney
BIRTH 1550 • Waxford, Somerset, England
DEATH 18 OCT 1598 • Widworthy, Devon, England
12th great-grandmother in the Snyder line.  She married John Chichester, and their son immigrated to the New World.  Her 5th great-granddaughter Sarah Chidester (the spelling of the name had changed in the meantime) married Abraham Snyder Sr. in 1797 in Berkeley, WV.

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Wynant Melgertse Vanderpool
BIRTH 13 OCTOBER 1683 • Albany, Albany, New York, USA
DEATH 4 APR 1750 • Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, USA
8th great-grandfather in the Denney line.  His great-granddaughter Rebecca Vanderpool married James Denny in Surry Co., NC, from where they went to Ohio and changed their name to Denney.

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Peter Studebaker, Immigrant
BIRTH 16 OCT 1695 • Solingener Stadtkreis, North Rhein-Westphalia, Germany
DEATH 1753 • Broadfording, Washington County, Maryland, USA
7th great-grandfather in the Snyder line.  His daughter Margaret Mary Studebaker, born in Germany and taken by her parents across the Atlantic, married Jacob Snider, himself a German immigrant to the New World, in 1752.

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Andrew Speer Sr., Immigrant
BIRTH 13 OCT 1700 • St. Dunstan and All Saints, Middlesex, England
DEATH Surry County, North Carolina, USA
8th great-grandfather in the Denney line.  His grandaughter Sally Wise Felton married Azariah Denny, father of the James Denny mentioned above, in Surry Co., NC, from where they went to Ohio together with Rebecca and James, and also changed their name to Denney.

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Johan Gerhard Büker
BIRTH 13 OCT 1792 • Riesenbeck, Steinfurt, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
DEATH 26 FEB 1852 • Riesenbeck, Steinfurt, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
3rd great-grandfather in the Bücker line.  The family lived in the Steinfurt area in North Rhein-Westfalia, Germany, for many generations.


Daniel Christman
BIRTH 17 OCT 1801 • West Vincent, Chester, Pennsylvania, USA
DEATH 1857 • Union City, Morgan, Ohio, USA
3rd great-grandfather in the Christman line.  He moved the family from Pennsylvania to coal-miner country, Ohio.

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Anna Maria Schmitz
BIRTH 15 OCT 1804 • Riesenbeck, Steinfurt, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
DEATH Unknown
3rd great-grandmother in the Bücker line.   Her daughter Anna Maria married Berhard Heinrich Anton Bücker in 1862.


Nelson Perry Brown
BIRTH 14 JANUARY 1814 • Ohio, USA
DEATH 16 OCTOBER 1899 • Leon, Mason County, West Virginia, USA
4th great-grandfather in the Denney line.  His grand-daughter was Arilla Harris, who married George Thomas Mulford.  Their daughter Mattie, in turn, married Steward Leslie Denney in 1899.


Also this week, we were contacted by a cousin from NC who sent us a photo of two letters Azariah Martin Denny sent home during the Civil War.  Read for yourself…  Very moving.  The first letter was written in January of 1864.  By June 6th of the same year, young Azariah Martin was dead.

The Denny’s of Surry County, NC, intermarried with the Jones’ and Key’s a lot, and you find both last names mentioned in Azariah’s letters.

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Remembering Our Ancestors: Priscilla Howlett

Today 361 years ago our 11th (and 12th) great-grandmother Priscilla Akers, née Howlett died. A child of south-western England, she died in the New World.

Priscilla Howlett was born in 1592 in South Molton, Devonshire in the South-West of England.  She married Thomas Akers in 1625 and they had at least one daughter, Sarah, who was born in England in that same year.  We do not know if they had other children, but it is likely.

Priscilla’s husband Thomas died in Devonshire in the year 1650, shortly after their daughter Sarah had immigrated to the New World in 1648 and there married William Mulford, another native of Devonshire who had himself arrived in Massachusetts in 1643.  We mentioned their son Thomas Mulford before.

It appears as though Priscilla, now a widow, followed her daughter to the New World.  Sarah and William Mulford had left Massachusetts by then and moved to East Hampton on Long Island.  Quite likely Priscilla lived with them at first, but then married again, possibly a gentleman of German extraction, because records find her buried in Watertown, MA, today greater Boston, under the name of Priscilla Akers Knapp, about eight years later.

She died on 30 August 1658, 361 years ago, at the age of 66.  Rest in Peace, Great-Grandma Priscilla.  You must have been brave to set out into the Unknown all by yourself after your dear husband had died.  May your courage be an example for us.

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Remembering Our Ancestors: Sergeant Wade Ernest Mulford

Great-great-uncle Wade, Mattie Mulford’s brother, died on this day in 1918 at the age of 28 and a day in the Battle of Château-Thierry.


Wade Ernest Mulford was born on 18 July 1890 in a little speck of a place along the Kanawha river in Mason County, West Virginia, the 8th of ten children.  The family moved a little further west to Gallipolis Ferry, WV along the Ohio river towards 1900.  There is a Mulford Cemetery in that location until this day.

Wade seems to have lived with his parents until he joined the army in 1917 and went to fight against the Germans in France in 1918.  He ended up in the Battle of Château-Thierry in a counter-offensive on the morning of 18 July 1918 – his 28th birthday -, when combined French and American forces between Fontenoy and Château-Thierry launched a general counter-assault against the German positions.  The allied forces took the Germans by surprise when the troops went “Over the Top” at a quarter to 5 in the morning without a preparatory artillery bombardment, but instead followed closely behind a rolling barrage.  Eventually, the two opposing assault lines inter-penetrated and individual American units exercised initiative and continued fighting despite being nominally behind enemy lines, or so they say.

Sergeant Wade Mulford died in action, military records say, on 19 July 1918, and he lies buried in Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial.

After World War I, a memorial was built on Hill 204, 2 miles west of the town for which it is named.  The Château-Thierry Monument was constructed “to commemorate the sacrifices and achievements of American and French fighting men in the region, and the friendship and cooperation of French and American forces during World War I.”  Great-uncle Wade was one of the “fighting men”.

Back home they set up a memorial stone for him in the Mulford Cemetery in Gallipolis Ferry, WV, but his body lies in French soil.

Rest in Peace, Uncle Wade.  We feel sure that your sister Mattie named her son Lee Wade, who was born two months after your death on 22 September 1918, in your honor.

Monument Américain de Château-Thierry : résumé de la bataille en Anglais

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