Saturday, August 10, 2019

Collins Mix and the Tioga County Poor House - Part 3

Welcome to Part 3, sorry for the broken up posts but the story ended up being longer when you type it all out!  Plus you know summer is busy!!  I tend to do more research in the winter!

So back in Part 1 and Part 2, we were learning about Collins Mix, who died in the Tioga County NY Poor House.  My cousin and I found the actual Keeper's Book that named him, and in that book we found out some additional information about Collins - he wasn't put into the Poor House just the one time.  Unfortunately, it was many times.

Here's the listings for Collins that my cousin and I found in the Keeper's Book:

The first listing of Collins in the book was 21 June 1845:  Collins, age 67, brought in by a Joel Robinson (many people were), after a bit of looking on the magic internet, I found a Joel Robinson who was the "Superintendent of the Poor" for Candor, Tioga County in the book, "The New York State Register, for 1843".  It's pretty likely it's the same guy then.  There are typically 3 columns to check for each person: "Lunatic", "Idiot", and "Mute" and none of these columns were checked for Collins.  Sometimes there would be a column for "Foreigner" and/or "Colored".

Next up, 12 November 1845:

Third, 12 November 1846:  Collins, age 69

Fourth, 12 November 1847:  Collins, age 70

Fifth, 12 November 1848: Collins, age 71

Sixth, 12 November 1849:  Collins, age 72.  This is the first time they have a column for "Intemperate" and there's no mark in it for him.

Seventh, 12 November 1850:  Collins, age listed as 72 again.  This is the only time they have a mark for the "Intemperate" column for Collins out of 3 opportunities.

Eight and final listing, 12 November 1851; Collins is listed as 73 and he's listed as dying in January 1852.

So the last 6.5 years of his life were spent there at the Poor House.  It's sad, there's not much you can say looking this far back in the past; without any other types of records there's no way to know for sure the circumstances.

So it could be he was a lifelong alcoholic, or maybe it was some mental illness along with the alcohol or was something else entirely - chronic pain that he was medicating with alcohol but then he'd get mean - or maybe that one check for Intemperance was an error and it was some other reason he was there - we won't know for sure until time travel is invented.  But either way, he didn't want to live with his family or his family didn't want him to live with them and so he ended up either voluntarily or involuntarily living in the Poor House.

But, on a good note for us today, it's one more piece of the puzzle in place!  Hopefully it will lead to more!  It was a fun investigation for me and my cousin, we had a good time!!!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Collins Mix and the Tioga County Poor House - Part 2

Welcome back to the saga of Collins Mix!  In the last post (Part 1), we ended with my trip to the Tioga County Historical Society in 2009.

So now, we fast forward to 2019.  I know I know, how did 10 years go by?  I don't know!  As far as I know I'm still 15 and forgetting my locker combination in my dreams.  Don't ask me what the hell is going on. :-D

AnyWAY, back to Collins and his family - we discovered him in the 1850 census in the Poor House in Owego, Tioga County, that he was listed as intemperate on the index card, and he died in 1852.

Sure would like to know how Leafe pronounced her name!! "Leaf?" "Leaf-ee?" "Leave?" Who knows?

He came up in conversation during a visit with my cousin Kimberly in New York.  We both do genealogy for the Mix side of our family and we decided to have a visit where we could review and verify our overlaps, etc.  During the visit we decided to take a trip over the the Tioga County Historical Society to see what might come up - maybe we'd find that Keeper's book and find out more about Collins!

The volunteer at the desk at the historical society was incredibly helpful and friendly, but was unable to locate the Tioga County Poorhouse Keeper's Book.  We looked at some microfilms of old newspapers in case we might find Collins mentioned, but no luck.  The volunteer (I'm sorry I don't have his name!!) even called another lady who wasn't there that day to ask if she knew anything about it.  Can you believe, she popped in on her day off and was rummaging around back in their storage area, but no luck.  Librarians and historians and volunteers are the BEST PEOPLE!

They suggested we head over to the local library just a few streets away because they had a mostly un-cataloged family history section filled with donations and maybe we would find something there.  So off we went to the library, with a quick stop for refreshments on the way.

We'd just made it through the door when the librarian behind the desk yelled over to us (yes! the librarian YELLED to two complete strangers): "OH, the historical society called!  They found your book!  They said to come back!"

OMG, how'd she know it was us?  Because she's a LIBRARIAN, THAT'S WHY!

Don't mess with librarians!

So we raced back to the historical society taking corners on 2 wheels and slid sideways into a spot and ran inside and........


Oddly enough it looks like 3 year old me already saw it and "wrote" on it...
Never was there a more beautiful sight than this little book on the table!

The volunteer historian was so nervous about letting us handle it but we swore on our ancestors we would gently hold it open by hand and just take photos.

You see - it survived a massive flood there a few years back - the whole basement of the Historical Society was under several feet of water and guess where all their records are stored?  Yep, of course!  Apparently they had a company come up from Texas I think it was, they do freeze-drying of records to try and make them usable again after floods.  I can't imagine trying to pick up the pieces after that!  But our book made it - so we quickly looked under the date I'd seen on the index card a decade ago and sure enough, there he is, Collins Mix, admitted 12 Nov. 1850.  But no one is listed under having dropped him there, no info under "Discharged".  POO!

"Colins Mix", male, born NY, 72 yrs old, Intemperate, resides Owego County

But finally after a decade, I've seen the source record, I know the index card was correct.  Awesome feeling!

So my cousin and I bask in the awesomeness for a moment and then she's like, so, let's look and see if he's anywhere else in this book!

Coming soon!  Part 3!!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Collins Mix and the Tioga County Poor House - Part 1

So I've got this problematic 4th Great Grandfather, Collins Mix.  He's problematic because when I first applied to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), my application had to be rejected as the father/son relationship between Collins Mix and his son Jonathan Collins Mix is assumed but not proven.  The slightly unusual first name of "Collins" comes from his mother's maiden name.

I know that somewhere, there's got to be a small item in a local newspaper, or a bible page, but so far, no one has found them.  So, when I can, I come back to him to see what I can find.

Collins was born on 20 January 1777 in Wallingford, CT, to Thomas Mix and Lois Collins.  I know of one brother to Collins, an older brother named Joel.

By the time Collins was in his early 20s in the 1800 US Census, he was in Clarendon, Rutland County, VT, married to Leafe Ide.

By the 1810 Census, the family was south of there, in Northumberland, Saratoga County, NY.  Finally, by the 1820 and 1830 censuses they stopped their wandering in Candor, Tioga County, NY.  I have yet to locate him in the 1840 census.

From what I can tell so far, they had 4 living children, Olive, Jonathan Collins, Squire Ide, and Sevinah.  Interesting names to be sure, and genealogists LOVE interesting and unusual names!!!!  As a little girl I was frustrated with my own name, always having to pronounce it and spell it for people, but boy did my perspective change once I started researching genealogy!  Thomas Mix, son of Thomas Mix, son of Thomas Mix, son of Thomas Mix, and every female named Elizabeth or Sarah, UGH!!!!!  LOL, but I digress....

Now, on to the 1850 census, the first that really gives us some good details on our people.  I found Collins Mix, but he was not only alone, he was listed as a "pauper" in the Tioga County Poorhouse.

There's lots of reasons a person might end up in a "Poorhouse" in the 1800s - you could of course, be poor, but you might also have a disability like blindness or deafness, some kind of congenital disease, you might be an alcoholic, or have mental illness.  And despite the best intentions that might have gone into creating a poorhouse, it was a place best avoided if  possible.  So how is Collins there, alone?  He had adult kids, he had a wife.  Leafe shows up in the 1865 New York State census, living with her daughter Sevinah and her family so she was alive - unfortunately, despite her lovely unusual name, she remains elusive - I have not yet been able to find her whereabouts in 1850.

But now, Jonathan Collins Mix is findable in 1850 - I found him living in the same county as his dad Collins, in the Candor NY 1850 census.  He's listed with his wife and 4 kids.  So why isn't Collins living with his son if he's so close by?

So that's a clue that perhaps there was something going on with Collins where either he didn't want to be with family members or they weren't in a position to take him in.  Could have been mental illness, alcoholism, but all I know for sure is he's listed as a "pauper" in the 1850 census.  Could be he was just a jerk!  Or maybe his family were the jerks!  We'll never know for sure.

So armed with this information, back in 2009 I traveled up to the Tioga County Historical Society.  It's on a serene tree-lined street right up on the river in Owego NY.

There I found an index card in their files during a search for Collins Mix. The index card said the following information was from the "Tioga County Keeper's Book":

     Mix, Collins
     D. 17 Jan. 1852 ae 73 at the Poor House
     12 Nov. 1850 admitted ae 72, intemperate
     Residence Tioga County

AHA!  So there we go - "intemperate".  In this case, the word intemperate was often used to denote alcoholism.  So if that is truly what's going on, that would explain why his family, though nearby, didn't have Collins living with them.  Of course, he could have had a terrible temper......

Perhaps he was prone to rits of fealous jage
Anyhoo, with that information, I was then able to locate, on microfilm at the Historical Society, the following, which proved the death information on the index card:

     Mortality at the Poor House
     Names of persons who have died at the Poor House during the year 
     ending on the 1st Day of Dec. 1852 
     (Furnished by Col. Daniel Bacon, Keeper).
     Collins Mix, formerly of Candor, Jan 17th 1852, 73
     Average number of inmates, about 75
     Proportion of Deaths about as 1 to 5
     Of the whole number received, the proportion is as 1 - 17

This was from "The Owego Gazette", Number 21, 15 January 1853, page 2.

While there at the historical society in 2009, I asked about that Tioga County Keeper's Book mentioned on the index card, but was told at the time that they did not have it, though if I reached out to other historians in the area I might be able to locate it.

And so there for many years, was the end of my information about my 4th Great Grandfather, Collins Mix.

Up next, Part 2!!!!  No, I didn't prove the father-son relationship (I WISH!), but I did find out more cool stuff along with my cousin!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

US Presidents in the Family - Part Deux

All right, so as a follow up to my last post on connections to U.S. Presidents on my maternal side, here are U.S. Presidents specific to my Paternal side.

My paternal side has deep roots in the U.S. just like my maternal side, but instead of New England, it's British immigrants to what is now Virginia and Maryland.

9th US President - William Henry Harrison

Unfortunately, William, my 1st cousin 6x removed, died from pneumonia only 31 days into his term, this being the shortest any U.S. President served.  Stories say he died from getting sick after giving a very long inauguration speech in poor weather, but that's just a tall tale. He was, however, the first President to die in office so that freaked everyone out and they then had to make sure there were rules in place if that happened again.  William was the son of Benjamin Harrison V, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  It's strange to think back to my childhood school visits to Independence Hall in Philadelphia meant I was walking literally in Benjamin's same steps.  Maybe I would have paid more attention!!

23rd US President - Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin (yes SOOO many Benjamin Harrisons) is my 3rd cousin 4x removed. However, I am related to him twice, on both my maternal and paternal sides (on my maternal side, he's my 6th cousin 5x removed).  I have a soft spot for finding out how I'm related to someone multiple times, I just love it LOLOL!  Yeah, I pretty much am my own cousin.  AnyHOO, on my paternal side, our common ancestors are his grandfather, Benjamin HARRISON IV (above) and his wife Anne CARTER.  The Carter family is also among some of the first families to immigrate to Virginia.

39th US President - James Earl Carter Jr.

Jimmy Carter, who is the first president I was aware of existing as a child, is my 10th cousin 1x removed.  Our common ancestors are John CARTER and Bridget BENION, Londeners who were parents to  emigrants to Virginia in the 1600s.

Now, since doing this research, I've found that there's actually even more Presidents that I'm related to on both sides but I thought I'd focus on the closest relations.

As long as you can find that one ancestral line that hits a royal somewhere in Europe, you're pretty likely to find that you are related to all kinds of historically famous people.  It's been a really fun indulgence the last few weeks going over all these lines and it does suddenly bring history to life when you realize some name you read is actually a relation, no matter how distant!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

US Presidents in the Family

So I treated myself just after Christmas to a great book published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society: Ancestors of American Presidents, by Gary Boyd Roberts.

I knew there were a few presidents who were cousins, but I wasn't sure of exactly how and I really wanted to look at trustworthy research that I could then of course verify myself!

I looked first on my mother's side because my Dad already knew on his side of the family that he was cousins with the two HARRISON presidents, William Henry and his grandson, Benjamin.

My maternal MIX ancestry has some very deep New England roots, even one Mayflower ancestor so I knew that's where I would look for any lines that lead to Presidents and sure enough, we've got a grand total of FOUR, which is really cool.

13th US President - Millard Fillmore

Yep, lucky number 13 is my 5th cousin 5x removed.  Our common ancestors were Oliver PURCHASE and Thomasine HARRIS.  Oliver and Thomasine lived in Dorset, England, and it was some of their children who decided to journey to America in the 1600s. 

Millard Fillmore became president in 1850 because the sitting President Zachary Taylor died from cholera, and Millard was the Vice-President at the time.

18th US President - Ulysses S. Grant

Grant was my 6th cousin 5x removed.  Our common ancestors were William ROCKWELL and Susan CAPEN.  William and Susan emigrated from Dorset, England to Connecticut in the 1600s. 

I learned an interesting thing while finding out exactly who Ulysses S. Grant was - his birth name was actually Hiram Ulysses Grant, but due to an error on his West Point admission form, he was kind of "re-christianed" Ulysses S. Grant and apparently he stuck with it :-D He was twice elected President.

23rd US President - Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin is my 6th cousin 5x removed and his grandfather is my 4th cousin 7x removed. We are related on my maternal side through Benjamin's grandmother, Anna Tuthill SYMMES.  Through her our common ancestors are Francis CHICKERING and Anne FISKE of Suffolk, England.  Francis and Anna emigrated in the 1600s to Massachusetts. 

I was specific about Benjamin's grandmother because on my paternal side, we are related through Benjamin's Grandfather, who also just so happened to be a President (the 9th one), but more on him in my future paternal post!

30th US President - Calvin Coolidge, Jr

Calvin Coolidge is my 9th cousin 3x removed.  Our common ancestors were Bernard CAPEN and Joan PURCHASE.  Notice the last name of Capen, yes, Grant and Coolidge are related as well, they were 7th cousins, 2x removed.  And notice the last name of Purchase, he was cousins with Millard Fillmore too, 7th cousins, 3x removed. Interestingly, he also became president because he was Vice-President and the President died!  Warren G. Harding died from a heart attack.  Calvin stepped up and was then also elected President after that.

And there you have it!  It's interesting that all our connections go back to England and immigrants who came to New England in the 1600s.  Next up will be a review of Presidents on my paternal side.