Friday, March 30, 2012

The Cobb Family Grows And Shrinks

The marriage of Silas W. Cobb and Olive Throop must have been a good match. In 1817, the couple gave birth to twin daughters. One twin’s name is unknown at this time, but the other twin was named Mary. 

A family of twelve must have kept Olive very busy. Silas W. Cobb was also busy providing for his large family. In the 1820s Silas was the proprietor of The Cobb Tavern of Moretown, Vermont. 

In the 1820s New England Taverns were considered “hotels” where overnight guests could receive a breakfast and dinner. As with any restaurant, the quality of food could vary but it was usually plentiful as stagecoaches might stop for the night.

Good, plentiful food is only part of the New England tavern life. Men gathered at the local tavern for drink.  In the 1820s American men consumed a great deal of alcohol much more that today. The Cobb Tavern may have been home to the Cobb Family and a meeting place for the gentlemen of the area.

Silas Bowman Cobb’s biography reports that the large family had little money. Silas Bowman tells of receiving a limited education due to family finances; which suggests that all the Cobb children had limited educational opportunities as well. Perhaps they worked in their father’s tavern or were “bound out” as Silas Bowman was.

The Cobb Family most likely experienced hardship. In 1828 and 1830 two family members passed away. The Vermont Watchman & State Gazette reported Mary Cobb’s death.
Cobb, Mary; age 11; 29th ult., twin daughter of Silas W. Cobb, Esq.; Moretown;
Issue Date:  8 April 1828

The paper also reported the death of Olive Cobb.
Cobb, Olive; age 52; 16th inst; wife of Silas W. Cobb; Montpelier; 
Issue Date:  23 November 1830

I would like to extent a thank you to the Janice Boyko and The Northeast Kingdom Genealogy Group of Vermont. This nonprofit organization is run by volunteers and has been a great source for my Vermont genealogy research.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What Is A Man To Do?

What is a new widower to do with four young children? The answer seems quite obvious. He needs to remarry quickly and that is exactly what Silas W. Cobb did. I often wonder how does a man find a suitable bride in Vermont in the year 1815. I haven’t discovered the answer yet, but I know that Silas W. Cobb prevailed in his quest for on 9 October 1815, just nine months after the death of his first wife, Silas W. Cobb remarried. His bride was Olive Throop, herself a widow.

Olive lived in Bethel, Vermont with her husband, Charles Throop, along with their four children:  Martha, Nancy, Sarah and Charles. Her husband, Charles,  passed away in 1809 prior to the birth of their son, Charles. Poor Olive had to give birth to her only son just three months after the death of her husband.

Records show that Olive did not rush into a second marriage. She was a widow for ten years. This indicates that Olive had strong, familial support. The support may have come from her father-in-law, Nathaniel Throop.

Nathaniel Throop and Elizabeth Skinner had a large family of ten children. Nathaniel was the patriarch who cared for his own family and most likely the family of his deceased son, Charles. I believe this to be true as he officiated the wedding ceremony of Silas W. Cobb and Olive Throop, his daughter-in-law. Nathaniel Throop was a Justice of the Peace.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lessons in Story Telling

My challenge is to tell the story of the Silas W. Cobb Family. I am ready for the challenge, but struggle with mechanics. I am beginning to think that this blog is my practice ground. Stories may be repeated as I hone my skills.

One single grave marker located in the Northfield Oakwood Cemetery, Northbrook, Illinois sparked my interest in Silas W. Cobb. Silas W. Cobb was a New Englander and an ancestor unknown to me.  He resided much of his adult life in the towns of Moretown and Montpelier, Vermont.

I suspect he married Sarah Hawks sometime prior to 1802 as their first child, Adeline was born about 1802.  Adeline was followed by Edwin (1804), George Whitman (1807), Silas Bowman (1812) and Mary Ann (1814).

The end of 1814 and the beginning of 1815 must have been terribly challenging for Silas W. Cobb and his family. The Vermont Watchman Newspaper of Montpelier reported in December 1814 that infant Mary Ann Cobb died at three months of age.

Cobb, Mary Ann; age 3 months, daughter of Silas W. Cobb; Moretown; Issue Date 13 Dec 1814.

Sarah Cobb, my great, great, great grandmother, passed away on 3 January 1815. The Duxbury and Moretown Cemetery Inscriptions by Robert Morse report the following:

Cobb, Sarah, wife of Silas W. Cobb, d. Jan. 3, 1815, age 33 years

In about one month's time, Silas W. Cobb lost his youngest daughter and became a widower with four young children to raise. What is a man to do?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lessons in Record Keeping

As a new family history researcher, I made one very large error in my early record keeping. When writing about the Cobb Family, I realize that my Cobb research was performed during those early years.  Unfortunately, it fell victim to poor record keeping and inexperience. What I know about this family has been through a hunt and peck type of strategy. I discover little information here and then a little information there.

As I matured in my research skills, I began to develop a habit of asking questions; which led to a specific type of research. I have learned to use my camera to record books, pages and any information I find. I now write my all source information and am beginning to develop a research log by family names with the hope of saving me from retracing my footsteps.

Now to the Cobbs . . .

After reading my previous post about Olive Throop, you might wonder where I gathered my information. My burning desire to travel to Vermont is on the back burner; which means I must find my information through the next best avenues.

I wrote to the Bennington History Museum, 75 Main Street, Bennington, Vermont, inquiring about Silas W. Cobb. Tyler Resch, museum librarian, provided the marriage record for Silas W. Cobb and Olive Throop. The discovery of this marriage led to the question: Who is Olive Throop and what did she bring to this marriage? 


Friday, March 23, 2012

Olive Throop Enters The Picture

Here we are returning to the story of Silas W. Cobb (March 16th post) and revisiting the 1820 U.S. Census records for Silas W. Cobb of Moretown, Vermont. To better interpret the household members of that census, further research was needed. My amazement continues, as I am able to find so much information about a man born about 1777 on the Internet.

Following the 3 January 1815 death of “Sarah” Cobb, Silas W. remarried an Olive Peake Throop. The marriage took place on 9 Oct 1815.  Olive, widow of Charles Throop, brought four children into the new marriage. Additionally Silas W. and Olive Cobb had twins: Mary and an unknown child.

The Children of Charles and Olive Throop:
Martha Throop:              Birth Unknown
Nancy Throop:               1806
Sarah Throop:                1807
Charles Throop:             1809

The Children of Silas W. and Olive Cobb:
Mary Cobb:                     1817
Twin to Mary:                 1807

When I fill in the names of the Troop children and the Cobb children the 1820 household begins to look like this:

Free White Persons – Males – Under 10:               2 (Silas Bowman) (Charles Throop)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15:              2 (Edwin) (George Whitman)
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44:              1 (Silas W. Cobb)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10:            3 (Mary Ann’s Twin Sister) (Mary & Twin)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15:           2 (Nancy Throop) (Sarah Throop)
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25:           2 (Adeline)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44:           1 (Olive Cobb)           
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture:        1
Total Free White Persons:                                      13
The family appears to be complete. The question arises regarding the number of daughters named Mary and their twins. Could this possibly be repeated information? I will need to look further.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Start of a New Week

Do you ever wish the days to be longer in order to get that “To Do List” checked off? I have been wishing that lately. A few too many things on my “To Do List” have made blogging a bit of a challenge.

I joined my local genealogy society and volunteered to help with the scheduling of programs for our monthly meetings. It has been a good experience. My co-chair, Bill, and I quickly filled the schedule. Our speakers have been confirmed and the year seems to be moving along smoothly.

The Illinois Humanities Council is sponsoring our April meeting. I am told we are very lucky to have received the funding and a few tasks need to completed in regards to the IHC requirements. We must advertise our April meeting in newspapers.

I made my feeble attempt at a press release and then sent it off to my daughter for her review. Luckily for me, she happens to be in the public relations field. My daughter quickly amended by work and tonight I have sent out my first official press releases!

On April 14, 2012, Ellie Carlson, Curator of Costume for the Winnetka Historical Society, will be teaching us techniques for dating photos. Guests are invited to bring photos for her review. The meeting is held at the Northbrook History Museum, 1776 Walters Avenue, Northbrook, Illinois. The meeting begins at 1:00 p.m. If you are interested, please stop in.

I must show off by first Press Release with a BIG THANK YOU to my daughter!


North Suburban Genealogy Society Hosts Public Meeting
Attendees Invited to Bring Family Photographs for Dating

March 19, 2012 (Northbrook, Ill.) - The North Suburban Genealogy Society invites the public to attend its April 14 meeting at the Northbrook History Museum (1776 Walters Avenue, Northbrook, IL). The meeting will feature Ellie Carlson, Curator of Costume for the Winnetka Historical Society, and focus on dating family photos through clothing. Attendees will learn techniques for dating photos and additional tools to use in their genealogy search.

Carlson, who is quoted as saying, “Some people are married to their jobs, I date costumes,” is a museum curator with 25 years experience in small and mid-size museums. She has also completed a professional internship at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in the Division of Costume in 1987.

The April 14 meeting begins at 1:00 PM and is handicap accessible. This is a Road Scholar lecture sponsored by the Illinois Humanities Council.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Everyone Is Irish On St. Patrick’s Day

I would like to share an Irish tale.

Many years ago, my cousin, Michael, married a beautiful girl named Elaine who was of Italian descent. They were to be married by Elaine’s elderly Italian uncle, Father Tognucchi. I arrived at Church early, settled into a pew and patiently waited for Elaine’s elderly uncle to perform the wedding mass. I was looking forward to listening to his beautiful Italian accent. I love Italian accents.

With Father Tognucchi’s first words, I realized that this elderly, Italian priest did not have an Italian accent. He spoke with an Irish brogue! I spent the remainder of the wedding and my trip home pondering how could this be.

My soon-to-be husband and I attended their wedding reception. On the drive to Elaine and Mike’s wedding reception, I told him the story of Elaine’s elderly, Italian uncle, Father Tognuchhi. I explained how he was originally from Italy but spoke with an Irish brogue.

My future husband’s immediate response was, “Oh my gosh, I know him! Father Tony was a frequent guest in my home growing up.” As we enter the reception, there sat Father Tognucchi.  My future husband quickly approached Father Tognucchi and introduced himself. There was a heartfelt reunion with big smiles that led to a pay phone because cellular phones were not yet invented. Father Tony and my now father-in-law had a happy reunion via telephone.

How did an elderly priest from Italy learn to speak English with an Irish brogue?  And . . . how did this elderly priest from Italy become friends with an Irish-Italian Chicagoan?

During World War II, Father Tony lived in India and learned to speak English from an Irish missionary or monk. My father-in-law was also stationed in India during World War II. He was assigned to the signal corps and it is there he met Father Tony. I trust they spent a great deal of time in Church together, but I think they may have shared many adventures while stationed together in India. The two became fast friends.

I hope you enjoyed my Irish tale that involved an Italian priest and an Irish-Italian Chicagoan.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Friday, March 16, 2012

The Silas W. Cobb and Sarah Hawks Family

To understand early census records, I needed to first research the Silas W. Cobb family. Please refer to March 9, 2012 Post. Vermont records can be accessed online through, Family Search and various Google searches. The Newberry Library located in Chicago also has an extensive collection of Vermont records.

Silas Bowman Cobb’s biography informed me that his mother’s maiden name was Hawks. Researchers on have noted her name as Sarah Hawks. I have not personally found original records proving her given name.  I did, however, find a book, Duxbury and Moretown Cemetery Inscriptions, Washington County, Vermont written by Robert Morse. Copies of the book can be found in Vermont. This book suggests that evidence does exist as to Mrs. Cobb’s given name. Vermont Old Cemetery Association also published a book giving Sarah Cobb’s death information; which I was able to locate at a nearby library. It is there I learned that Sarah Cobb passed away 3 January 1815.

Silas W. Cobb and Sarah Hawks had a good size family considering she passed away at approximately 33-35 years of age. Here are their children:

Adeline Cobb                           Born about 1802
Edwin Cobb                             Born about 1804
George Whitman Cobb            Born about 1807
Silas Bowman Cobb                Born about 1812
Mary Ann Cobb                       Born about 1814 – Mary Ann passed at 3 months of age
Twin sister to Mary Ann          Born about 1814

When looking at the 1820 U.S. Census records for the Silas W. Cobb household, I understand how the family fits into the census numbers. As you see, there are many reported but unknown people in the household. Sadly, Sarah Cobb nee Hawks is not reported. Her passing suggests a remarriage for Silas W. Cobb and perhaps a few more children!

Free White Persons – Males – Under 10:            2 (Silas Bowman)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15:           2 (Edwin) (George Whitman)
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44:           1
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10:         3 (Mary Ann’s Twin Sister)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15:        2
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25:        2 (Adeline)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44:        1           
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture:     1
Total Free White Persons:                                   13

Opportunities for genealogical research are always changing as new information comes online regularly.  I was recently contacted through by a Vermont resident who is the new Cemetery Commissioner in the Town of Moretown, Vermont. She discovered Sarah Cobb’s gravestone and informed me that the stone was surrounded by briars and brambles in what was once a cow pasture. She has invited to Moretown and I plan on visiting there this spring or summer. How lucky am I?


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Shoemaker, Mason, Harness Maker . . . Famous Chicagoan

I have been absent lately. Life will return to normal next week and I will be able to devote more time to writing.

Were you able to watch Friday’s "Who Do You Think You Are?" I hope so.  If not, you can view the episode on the website, Jerome Bettis and his desire to learn about his mother’s family was the focus of this episode.  Jerome was very familiar with this paternal side of the family.  However, his mother knew very little about her ancestors. Not knowing about a part of one’s family history seems to be a common thread among so many stories. I think it is the reason why genealogy is so appealing.

This week I began writing about the Silas W. Cobb Family of Vermont. Silas W. Cobb’s youngest son was named Silas Bowman Cobb. In his biographical sketch, Silas Bowman Cobb appeared to be a restless young man with a determined father. This determined father wished to find a trade for his son.

With little education, Silas Bowman was “bound out” as an apprentice to a shoemaker. Shoemaking was not for young Silas Bowman and he broke away from the apprenticeship and returned home. Young Silas Bowman was apprenticed again, against this will, to a mason. Silas Bowman discovered masonry was not for him and he returned home.

The elder Cobb finally conceded and allowed the young man to choose his own path. Silas Bowman chose to apprentice with a harness maker and found success at just seventeen years of age. Unfortunately, the harness maker sold his business; which included the service of young Silas Bowman.

Of course, this was unacceptable to young Silas. According to his biographical sketch, Silas Bowman spoke the following words to the new owner, “In this case the nigger don’t go with the plantation.” He negotiated with the new owner and received satisfactory wages and mastered the harness making trade.

His words, “In this case the nigger don’t go with the plantation,” show that slavery was part of life even as far north as Vermont. Slavery touched all people at that time in history. Lucky for Silas Bowman as he was not African American, could speak his mind and negotiate a better life for himself.
Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed, “Silas Bowman Cobb,” The University of Chicago Biographical Sketches, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1922), 145-170.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Silas W. Cobb

I would like to introduce you to my fourth great-grandfather, Silas W. Cobb. Today he resides in the Northfield Oakwood Cemetery located in Northbrook, Illinois.

The gravestone of Silas W. Cobb reports that he passed away on 13 April 1852 at seventy-five years of age.  This suggests that Silas W. Cobb was born about 1777. My heart beat faster with this discovery because he could be my one and only link to the American Revolution!

The surname Cobb was a new name in my tree and required careful research. I have many questions about this gentleman and will need to travel to Vermont to find the answers. The 1820 and 1830 census records show Silas W. Cobb living in Moretown, Vermont and Montpelier, Vermont; respectively. Back in the day, census takers reported heads of household and tallied the household members by age, sex, free or slave, and colored or white.

On 7 August 1820 the Silas W. Cobb household of Moretown, Vermont looked like this:

Free White Persons – Males – Under 10:                2
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15:               2
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44:               1
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10:             3
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15:            2
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25:            2
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44:            1           
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture:         1
Total Free White Persons:                                       13

In 1830 the Silas W. Cobb household of Montpelier, Vermont looked like this:

Free White Persons – Males - 20 thru 29:                 3
Free White Persons – Males – 50 thru 60:                1
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14:            1
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19:            1
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29:            3
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39:            1
Total Free White Persons:                                       10

Who were these people? What were their names? How did a man living in Vermont end up buried in Illinois? There is so much to learn and so much to tell. Tune in to my next post for a little more of the story.


Monday, March 5, 2012

My Only Early Chicagoan

Chicago will be celebrating its 175th Birthday this year. Such a grand milestone made me wonder if any of my family tree members were present for the actual incorporation. In fact, there was one Chicagoan whose his name was Silas Bowman Cobb and I am his third great grand niece.
Silas Bowman Cobb was born in Montpelier, Vermont on January 23, 1812.  His father was a prosperous businessman whose partner introduced young Silas Bowman to the idea of going west. Oliver Goss had just returned from the small town of Chicago and was organizing a group to go west and to create a settlement. Silas Bowman’s imagination was sparked.

Silas Bowman decided to go west against his father’s wishes, joined the Oliver Goss party and traveled to Albany, New York via wagon. In Albany Silas Bowman parted with Oliver Goss and traveled onward via the Erie Canal to Buffalo, New York. Along the way, a thief stole much of his money leaving him with a mere seven dollars. He explained his situation to the captain of the schooner, “Atlanta,” who then agreed to take him to Chicago for a fee of four dollars. He bought food for the journey with his remaining funds. As things would go, the journey took longer than expected and young Silas Bowman ran up a small bill.

The “Atlanta” reached Chicago on May 29, 1833. There was no harbor so passengers disembarked and were rowed to shore. Silas Bowman was held aboard ship due to his debt of three dollars.  A kind person took pity on the young man and paid his bill allowing Silas Bowman to disembark. On June 1, 1833, Silas Bowman Cobb finally set foot in Chicago.

What did Chicago look like in 1833?  It is reported that there were not more than 50 white inhabitants and only a few soldiers in Fort Dearborn. The Kinzies, pioneer settlers, lived in a log home north of the river along with huts of Indians and half-breeds. The town clung to the river and no one lived near Madison Street for it was the prairie.                                                   

Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed, “Silas Bowman Cobb,” The University of Chicago Biographical Sketches, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1922), 145-170.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Happy 175th Birthday, Chicago!

Today the great City of Chicago celebrated its 175th birthday. The Chicago History Museum and the DuSable Museum honored this day with actors dressed as famous Chicagoans.

So what has happened in the past 175 years? Here are a few highlights that come to mind:

1866            Cook County Hospital Opens 
                     Tunnels are built to draw “pure water” from the lake.
1868            Lincoln Park Zoo welcomes a pair of swans.
1869            The Chicago Water Tower was built.
1870            St. Ignatius University opens its doors. Today it is known as Loyola University.
1871            The Great Chicago Fire
1876            A baseball team wins the National League title. 
                     That team will be eventually named The Chicago Cubs.
1878            A Chicago firehouse invented the first fire pole.
1882            The cable cars begin operation.
1893            The Columbian Exposition
1958            Our Lady of Angels Grade School Fire
1967            Chicago is hit with a blizzard that dumped 23 inches of snow on Chicago.
1968            Chicago Democratic Convention
1976            Mayor Richard J. Daley died.
1979            American Airlines Flight 191 crashes at O’Hare.
1981            Jane Byrne is elected mayor.
1983            Harold Washington is Chicago’s first black mayor.
1986            Chicago Bears win Super Bowl XX.
2005            White Sox win the World Series.
2010            Black Hawks win the Stanley Cup!

Friday, March 2, 2012

It’s Friday Night

Tonight is my favorite show, “Who Do You Think You Are?” Reba Mc Entire is this week’s featured celebrity. I really know very little about her and am looking forward to her story.

My entry into genealogy was delayed for a long time because I thought that genealogy was reserved for important, famous people such as Mayflower descendants, presidents, kings, etc. Published genealogies of famous, blue blood families can be found in libraries and now on the Internet. The books provide a great resource for those who are related but they were not for me.

My roots are much more humble. Despite my humble roots, discovering those who came before has been so exciting and so interesting. The celebrities on “Who Do You Think You Are?” respond to familial discoveries exactly as I do. We are basically all the same. Celebrities, blue bloods and even  those with humble roots all experience the same joy in the discovery of our ancestors’ stories.

History is part of that discovery and I think the television show does a very good job of putting the ancestral information into historical and social context. Our family trees are not just names and lines linking parent to child they are real people who lived in real time. To better understand our ancestors, we need to understand the time in which they lived for that time shaped the society they lived in and affected their actions.