Monday, June 28, 2010

And now, let's see what's happening in "Poetry Corner"

Alas! Another day has passed
and my mailbox is sadly bare;
The New York Department of Health
has yet to answer my prayer!

O NY DOH, please do tell--
Tell me yay, tell me nay!
Have you seen my death certs?
My patience is oh so frayed!

The truth has been told by my bank;
On 11 June you cashed my winter-writ check!
Yet every day since then
Fruitless has been my mailbox trek!

The suspense is killing me!
Will I get my certs?
Or will the dreaded Letter of No Records Found
Be my cold com-fert?

O New York Department of Health, take pity!
I toss and I turn every night!
Have you not heard of immediate gratification?
Come on already!!!!!

(with all apologies to the New York DOH, yes I know it costs money to scan records and make them available to the supplicants I mean users immediately via a website and you need people to run the website and have the ability to process credit cards online but I swear, I will contribute lots of money towards recouping your investment because there are LOTS and LOTS of records I would buy, I SWEAR!)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Will of George Akins

My last couple posts (part 1 and part 2) detailed the will of my great-great-great-grandmother, Rebecca AKINS.

Now, thanks again to the wonderful SAMPUBCO website, I can share the will and probate information for Rebecca's husband, George AKINS.

Here's the transcript of his actual will:

I George Akins of the town of Barton, Tioga County and State of N.Y. aged fifty seven years, being of sound mind and memory do make publish and declare this my last Will and Testament in manner following that is to my.

First - After defraying expense of a proper and suitable burial and paying all my just debts, I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Rebecca Jane, all my personal property of every kind to use and control and dispose of as she shall desire.

Second I further will and direct that my wife shall have the use and control of all my real estate during her life.

Third - I further Will and direct and give my son John F. Akins the use of my real estate during his life, and to come into the possession of the same after the death of my wife Rebecca Jane and not until the death of my said wife.

And I further will and bequeath and desire all my real estate aforesaid to the heirs of my son John F. Akins after the death of my wife and my son John F. Akins.

And I hereby appoint my wife Rebecca Jane and my son John F. Akins the executrix and executor of this my last will and testament and I hereby declare the foregoing to be my last Will and Testament revoking all former Wills made by me.

In Witness Whereof. I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 13th day of June.

George Akins
(his mark)

So let's see:

1. The will was made June 13, 1873. George was a Farmer, and was one in all the census records I've seen. Prior to this will, he was living in neighboring Chemung County NY. Sometime between 1870 and 1873 he moved to Tioga County, NY and stayed there until his death in 1883.

2. George helpfully mentions by name his wife and son. There is no mention of a daughter Mary listed in the 1850 census. Perhaps she died young?

3. George also confirms for me that he (along with his wife Rebecca) both referred to their son as "John F." Not Francis or Frank or Franklin; all of which are various names John liked to give to census takers, presumably to throw future generations of researchers off so that they waste years thinking some other John is their ancestor. Not that I'm bitter or anything great-great-Grandpa. Not bitter at all. grumble

The probate of George's will happened on 20 November 1883. The witnesses to the will, who were also at the probate hearing were A.G. Allen and Jerome (or maybe James?) Hungerford, both of Waverly, NY. There were no special notes to the will or probate records.

"Waverly" (in Tioga County) raises a flag for me because most of John F.'s 1st wife Gertrude BOWMAN's family lived in Waverly. This particular town doesn't come up in my records for anything else at the moment. So I'll have to check if there are any connections between the BOWMAN family and this A.G. Allen and J. Hungerford. I'm not related to the BOWMAN's, because my ancestor was John F.'s 2nd wife, but it still helps to research this corollary stuff in case any clues pop up.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Will of Rebecca Akins - Part 2, OK Here's the Actual Will

Welcome back! For those of you following along, my last post forced lots of back story on you about my Rebecca AKINS. And now, here's a transcription of her actual will:

Aug. 4, 1900.

KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS, That I, Rebecca Akins, of the Town of Barton, County Tioga, and State of New York, being in sound mind, memory, and understanding, do make and publish this my last Will and Testament hereby revoking and making void all former Wills by me at any time heretofore made.

After all my debts and obligations shall have been paid and all my funeral expenses settled then I give to my Grand-daughter, Julia E. Griffiths, all the residue of my personal property whatsoever; all my house-hold goods of every description, beds, bedding, carpets, couches, tables, chairs, musical instruments, dishes, knives & forks, spoons, pails, all tin-ware, and all goods mentioned and not mentioned which I may possess at my death. Also all my calves, hogs, horses, harnesses, wagons, sleighs, hay and grain and every thing of value or of no value do I give to her for she has been a kind and an affectionate daughter and has kindly cared for me in my declining years.

Rebecca Akins
by Sada Akins

All righty, so....

1. Julia E. Griffiths is Rebecca's grand-daughter through Rebecca's son John F. AKINS and his first wife, Gertrude BOWMAN. How sweet that Rebecca notes that Julia "kindly cared" for her!

2. From what I can tell, Julia lived with her grand-parents George and Rebecca since at least age 8, as she showed up in numerous federal and state census records with them.

3. I wish I wish I wish that Rebecca had specified what musical instruments she had laying around.

4. How COOL that she had a sleigh to leave to Julia! My grandmother used to tell me about the winters in NY back in the day. I've never ridden in a horse-drawn sleigh, I'm going to have to add it to my to-be-bucketed list!

5. Rebecca signed it with a "mark". And who "Sada" is, I have NO idea.

And now here's what I am really happy about! The probate part of the will I have mentions by name my great-grandmother Cornelia AKINS. In the transciption below I left out the worst of the legal-ese.

Last Will and Testament of Rebecca Akins, deceased

Be it remembered, that heretofore, on the 10th day of October, in the year 1900, Julia E. Griffiths, legatee, named in the Last Will and Testament of Rebecca Akins, late of the Town of Barton, in the County of Tioga, now deceased...

...requiring them to appear before him, at his office in the village of Owego, in said County of Tioga, on the 29th day of October, 1900, to attend the probate of such will.

And afterwards, to wit, on such 29th day of October, 1900, due proof being filed of the service of such citation, on all parties to whom the same was directed except Geo. T. Akins;

The proponent appeared by F. A. Bell, Esq., her Attorney and filed a duly executed affidavit showing failure to obtain service of the citation on Geo. T. Akins as aforesaid, and Fred W. Clifford, Esq., having been appointed the Special Guardian for Charles and Cornelia Akins infant parties herein a supplemental citation was thereupon issued to said Geo. T. Akins and on this 7th., day of January 1901, said Geo. T. Akins having filed a duly executed waiver of the issue and service of a citation herein, and no one opposing; Thos. Bennett and J. L. Bennett appeared and gave their testimony in support of said Will as one of the attesting witnesses to the execution thereof.

and more later on....

J.L. Bennett
Thomas Bennett

Surrogate's Court.
In the Matter of Proving the Last Will and Testament of Rebecca Akins

J.L. Bennett and Thomas Bennett, being duly sworn in open court, upon their several corporeal oaths, each for himself doth depose and say that they are subscribing witnesses to the Last Will and Testament of Rebecca Akins, late of the Town of Barton, in the County of Tioga and State of New York, deceased. And these deponents do further say, that the said Rebecca Akins, deceased, did, in the presence of each of these deponents, subscribe her name (by mark) at the end of the instrument, in writing, which is now here shown to these deponents, and which purports to be the Last Will and Testament of the said deceased, and which bears date on the 4th day of Aug., one thousand nine hundred.

Subscribed to and sworn to before me this 7th day of January 1901, Howard J. Mead, Surrogate.

...on all parties to whom the same was directed except Geo. T. Akins. The proponent appeared by F. A. Bell Esq., per Attorney and filed a duly executed affidavit showing failure to obtain service of the citation on Geo. T. Akins as aforesaid, and Fred W. Clifford, Esq., having been appointed the Special Guardian for Charles and Cornelia Akins infant parties herein a supplemental citation was thereupon issued to said Geo. T. Akins and on this 7th., day of January, 1901, said Geo. T. Akins having filed a duly executed waiver of the issue and service of a citation herein, and no one opposing; Thos. Bennett and J. L. Bennett appeared and gave their testimony in support of said Will as attesting witnesses to the execution thereof, and Julia E. Griffiths having taken and filed the statutory oath for administrators-with- the- Will-annexed,...

...And it is further ordered that upon said Julia E. Griffiths filing the usual bond in the amount of $400.00 Letters of Administration with-the-Will-annexed issue thereon.

For those of you who plowed through that:

1. "Geo. T. Akins" is George T. AKINS, a grandson to Rebecca (brother to Julia). He was not around I think to get the first citation for this will because he had moved to Nebraska. A couple of the AKINS' children from John F.'s first marriage moved to Nebraska for a while around 1900. Most eventually moved back to the Tioga County area in NY.

2. Charles and Cornelia, "infant parties" are of course, my great-grandmother and great-uncle (Rebecca's grandchildren from her son John F.'s 2nd marriage). At the time of this probate, they were age 12 and 13, respectively.

3. I'm no lawyer, and certainly no expert especially on early 20th century will legal-ese, but it seems to me that there was some sort of concern about guardianship for the 2 youngest kids of John (seeing as how he was already dead, in case you didn't read the last post). Why this would be a concern, I'm not sure, since they would have been living with their Mom and her new husband, the widower Joe QUICK. Unless of course, I'm on the right track about Hattie maybe not being the best mom ever? So maybe there was concern about their well-being? I just don't know. I could be saying mean things about Hattie for no reason (and if that's the case, sorry great-great-grandma!!!!).

4. Holy cow, Julia had to pay $400 in the year 1900???? What's up with that? According to one of my favorite historical currency conversion websites, that's like 10 GRAND!!!!

And so, that's the will and probate info on my great-great-great-grandma, Rebecca AKINS. I'm not 100% sure what all it says, but I don't mind because it's got Cornelia's name in there! Yay!!

Also, just a note: I'm going to start using "to wit" more in my writing, especially in my work emails as in:

Hi John!

So I was wondering if you had ever heard back from John, to wit, the other John, not you, about the country question.

Let me know if you have, to wit.

Kind to wit Regards,


Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Will of Rebecca Akins - Part 1, the Back Story

Thanks to the fabulous SAMPUBCO website, I have a copy of probate/will information for my great-great-great grandmother Rebecca AKINS.

Before I provide the transcription, let me fill you in on some details.

Rebecca was born in October of 1819 in Orange County, NY and married a George AKINS either right before or right after moving to Chemung County, NY. They had 2 kids as far as I know, John Francis and Mary.

The son, John Francis AKINS, married a lady named Gertrude BOWMAN. They had 6 children, and then sadly, Gertrude died in December of 1884, at the age of only 38. Her children ranged in age from 17 years to only 16 months.

So that left John in a bind, he was a farmer and there was no way he could care for these children by himself. Although his eldest daughter, Julia, was 17 years old, she had been living (as far as I can tell from multiple census records) with her grandparents George and Rebecca since she was 8 years old.

That left John will only 5 children to care for, but the oldest was just a 15 year old girl, Mary Jane. Running a farm household for her father, along with caring for 4 younger siblings, the youngest a toddler, would have been a bit much for her.

Enter stage left, his 2nd wife, my great-great grandmother, Hattie KIRBY. In April of 1885, the 44-yr-old John married the (barely) 19-yr-old Hattie.

Family lore states that Hattie was sold as a bride to John by her grandmother Lucinda KIRBY in exchange for a new stove. (Don't let anyone tell you how life was simpler and better in the old days!!!)

Why would she be sold for a stove? Well, my guess is it was because poor Hattie was supposedly the product of an affair between her mother, Laura KIRBY, and Laura's sister Sarah's husband, Alonzo CHESLEY.

Laura was only 17 when she had Hattie, and then when Hattie was only 7 months old, Laura died. Family lore states she died of a broken heart. So that left Hattie's grandparents to raise her. Interestingly, Sarah stayed with Alonzo, and continued to have children with him. So either he was a smooth talker like no other smooth talker, or she stayed just so she could bring it up during every argument for the rest of their lives (which is my guess). I picture this:

Alonzo: "Geez Sarah, how could you not notice the milk was curdled before you put it in my coffee?"

Sarah: "Well Alonzo, maybe you should have noticed it was my sister before you put your---"

Alonzo, interrupting: "OK, OK, I'LL POUR MYSELF ANOTHER CUP!!!"

Anyway, so that's why I don't completely dismiss the sold for a stove story. It was probably tough having Hattie around as a constant reminder. People are only human, I can't judge because I wasn't there to see for myself.

Meanwhile, so there was the teenage Hattie, suddenly step-mother to 5 children, the oldest of which was only 4 years younger than her. I doubt they welcomed her with open arms, since it was only a few months since their mom passed. Although I could be wrong, they may have liked her (and needed the help around the house).

John and Hattie had 2 children: Cornelia, born in 1887 and Charles, born only a year later in 1888.

John then promptly died when Charles wasn't even 2 years old yet.

So the boys and the girls who weren't already out of the house married went to live with their grandma, Rebecca. I have them in the 1892 census with her (thank heavens for New York's 1892 census! It almost, almost makes up for no 1890 federal census).

Hattie, now only 24 yrs old, with a 2 yr old and 3 yr old was in a difficult position. I doubt her grandma Lucinda was going to welcome her back into her home when she had just gotten rid of her - OR - maybe Hattie had no intention of going back, because who knows what she would have been sold for next! Fortunately, she found a widower with 4 not-too-young children, Joseph QUICK, and they married in 1891.

There are some family stories that indicate that maybe Hattie wasn't the best at caring for children. Again, I can't judge since I wasn't there. Apparently Joe QUICK came home from the fields one day and found Charley bound (the way you bind babies, but he would have been a toddler) and hanging from a post in the kitchen. From that point on, Joe took Charley and Cornelia with him into the fields during the day. Now who knows, maybe Charley was a TERROR! Maybe he was on Hattie's last nerve, she was young, and she hadn't probably had the best examples in parenting from her family, so who knows.

Now, with all that as background, some of what's in Rebecca AKINS' will about little Charley and Cornelia might make more sense.

Tune in tomorrow for the actual will transcript and probate records!

This all feels pretty soap-opera-ry, so here's a timeline to help keep it sorted in the meantime:

1841 - John Francis AKINS born to George and Rebecca

1846 - Gertrude BOWMAN born Absalom and Catherine

1866 - Hattie KIRBY born to Laura (and allegedly Alonzo CHESLEY)

1866 - Laura KIRBY dies

1884 - Gertrude BOWMAN dies

1885 - John F. AKINS and Hattie KIRBY wed

1887 - Cornelia AKINS born to John F. and Hattie

1888 - Charles AKINS born to John F. and Hattie

1890 - John F. AKINS dies

1891 - Joseph QUICK and Hattie (KIRBY) AKINS wed

1900 - Rebecca AKINS dies

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Surname Saturday - Akins (19-Jun-2010)

Well Dear Friends, if you've been following, you know I had a recent revelation on my AKINS family in that I discovered and have rectified a big ole mistake.

So now I have to re-do my old AKINS Surname Saturday post with the correct info. Here is my new ahnentafel for AKINS:

1. Leah KLEYLEIN - Me!

3. Deborah DOMELLE - my Mom!

7. Ann MIX - my Grandma! She was born in Tompkins County, NY and spent her childhood years there. After marrying my grandfather (William DOMELLE), they moved around a bit.

15. Cornelia Elizabeth AKINS, born 23 Apr 1887 in Village of Lockwood, Tioga County, NY; died 24 Jan 1986 in Ithaca, Tompkins County, NY. She was married to William MIX, of Tompkins County, NY.

30. John Francis AKINS, born 13 Mar 1841 in New York; died 13 Feb 1890. I've located him in Tioga County, NY in the 1870 and 1880 Federal Census's, but that's it so far. He was married to Hattie KIRBY (his 2nd wife), who I believe is from Seneca County, NY, as the earliest record I've located her in is in the 1870 Federal census in her Grandfather's household in the town of Waterloo. In his spare time, John Francis enjoyed giving different versions of his first name, as in: John F., John, Francis, Frank and Franklin.

60. George AIKENS, born abt. 1815 in Orange County, NY. He is my first ancestor to be from this county. He was married to Rebecca, surname unknown but most likely JONES and most likely the JONES family was from Connecticut. More on that as I figure it out.

George's will was probated in 1883, so he left Rebecca a widow. She didn't pass away until 1900. I am eternally grateful to Rebecca for mentioning 2 of her grandchildren in her will (Cornelia and her brother Charles, children from her son John Francis's 2nd marriage).

So far I only know of 2 children for George and Rebecca: John Francis, and a sister Mary.

120. AIKENS. My only bit of info so far on George's parents is that they were both born in Ireland according to more than one census where George stated this.

Monday, June 14, 2010

"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce

It was a dark and stormy night…

I stared at the papers in front of me and realized: I’d made a mistake.

A significant mistake.

A big ole whopper probably sometime circa 1995 or so.

My AKINS family was not who I thought they were. Somewhere along the way I’d mixed up 2 John AKINS in the federal census and had then perpetuated it for like 15 years! 15 years without noticing!!! O the shame, the horror! :-D

Fortunately, John’s supposed ancestry had hit a brick wall at his supposed grandfather so THANK GOODNESS I wasn’t losing a line back to colonial New England or anything like that.

How did this come to be?

Well, back in February of this year, I got this great comment on a blog entry on my AKINS surname from the wonderful Leslie Ann (whose blog Lost Family Treasures is one of my favorites!).

Leslie Ann (to whom I will always be grateful) commented that she had found some John AKINS wills on the SAMPUBCO website! I was SO beyond thrilled! I ordered them right away.

I THOUGHT I was ordering the will of the father of my John AKINS. You see, my 2nd Great-Grandfather was named John Francis AKINS.

I got the wills (O happy day!) and pored over them.

Right away something didn’t feel right. Why wouldn’t this John guy mention his son John (my John) who was clearly alive and well? I started feeling weirder and weirder. But my transcripts of the source records (census’s) all showed a John living with his parents, John and Deborah. And this was definitely the will of the John who was married to Deborah.

Then I finally started going back through the original sources census files and THAT’S when I started feeling really concerned.You see, sometime back in circa 1995 I found an 1850 NY Federal Census record where there was a John who was the right age living in about the right place and he was listed as a son of John and Deborah AIKINS:

Apparently, in my naivety and enthusiasm, I just ASSUMED it was my John!

And then to compound the error, this is what I typed into my notes in my software:

Now what do you supposed would have made me type “John Francis” when the original record clearly states “John”. Yep, must have been that naivety and enthusiasm I mentioned earlier. Ah, youth!

So now I started really digging around. My AKINS family has always been mysterious, I never could find them in all the census records. Seems like now they were ready! Turns out my John Francis Akins liked to go around not just by the name John or John F. He also liked using Frank or Franklin! All my missing census’s popped up - with the right wife and kids matching my others, in the right places. It's just that my shady 2nd Great-grandfather liked to go by different names. I'm sorry Great-Grandpa, but "Franklin" is NOT the SAME as "Francis"! Frank can come from both of them, but they are NOT the SAME! Geez.

And then that’s when I found them - John F. Frank Francis Franklin's parents. In the 1850 census, over in Chemung County NY. It was George and Rebecca AIKENS. Son named Francis. And there they all were again in 1860 - still in Chemung County, but now he’d switched back to John!

I was incredibly frustrated with all my wasted years on the wrong family, yet also so happy I’d found the right one! This one felt right.

And so, back to SAMPUBCO I went and lo and behold!!!! There were wills for both George AND Rebecca! Both in Barton, Tioga County, NY and that matched up too with where they'd moved during the different census records!

And then I waited for the wills to arrive. On tenterhooks. (If you’ve ever read romance novels, I bet you’ve seen that phrase, that's where I learned it back in the day 146 years ago when I would bother to read fiction.) Look it up, it's exactly appropriate! Fine, I know you won't, so just click on the link:

And today the wills came!
The first one I saw was for Rebecca. And right there, on the first page, was a provision mentioning her grandchildren - Charles and Cornelia AKINS.

YES! MY Cornelia! My great-grandma Cornelia Elizabeth Akins Mix Simpson!!!

AND, both wills mention their son "John F. Akins". (yeah, that's right 2nd Great-Grandpa, your parents both called you John - so that's what you're gonna be in my records!)

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!! I'm back on track! With new stuff to look up, what could be better?

And now, time for a celebratory drink! Whew!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Broome County NY County Clerk has a Great Website

I love immediate gratification!

So when I stumble across a website that has put in the long hours of work of scanning parts of their archive just so I can buy AND receive documents at 11pm at night while sitting in my jammies drinking a benedictine and water (mmmmmmm)....well, I just have to give them kudos!!! :-)

If I had a virtual gold star, I'd stick it on their website!

So if you have some docs like wills or such from the last 30 years or so that are in Broome County NY's County Clerk's Office - check out this website:

All you have to do is a "Document Search", then filter it some more by choosing type of document, or date or name (I did a search on one of my surnames: MIX) - and then I limited it by document type - Will.

And boom!

There was the 1964 will of Hattie Bell Winewright Mix, the wife of my great grand-uncle, Orvil Thomas Mix!

Even better, there was a button next to it to Order a Copy!

And EVEN BETTER than that, it cost me less than 2 dollars and TA DAH, I had a .tif copy of the will!

Truly, an awesome website. If only I had more relatives that lived in Broome County NY.

If you are lucky enough to have relatives from Broome County, please go to their website and order documents so they get more money to scan more of their records!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Back from Vacation, Back to Reality!

I just returned home from a lovely beach vacation down in Negril, Jamaica. It was beautiful, sun was warm, water was warm, food and drink was plentiful. Couldn't ask for more!

Except when it comes to the traveling part. The one good thing we had going for us was that we weren't flying USAir (which would have meant automatic late departure and loss of luggage). We flew Jamaica Air, and I can't say enough about the staff on the plane - very friendly and courteous, they were wonderful.

What I will complain about is....yeah, you guessed it! Leg room.

Yeah yeah, I know, it's a given, we aren't supposed to be comfortable flying. We're supposed to be packed like cattle going to the slaughter-house, but it's gotten a bit ridiculous. I'm 5 foot 6 inches. Not that tall I thought. Am I mistaken? Is it tall? Well, apparently to the airline industry I'm a GIANT. My knees were literally pressed against the seat in front of me. There was no place to go!!!

Below I present my photographic proof:

I'll say this and then stop whining:

Dear Airline People in Charge of Cutting Costs Who Decided That Cramming In Extra Rows Of Seats Would Be Fine Because Those Customers Should Just Shut Up And Be Grateful They Even Get To Be On The Plane:

When you die and go to hell (because you will), your hell will have you as a coach passenger on non-stop flights from NYC to Australia, sitting in a middle seat, on a full plane, with only the one bathroom all the way in the back (because you removed the other ones to add more seats). Shame, shame, shame on all of you!!!! And when you get to Australia, you get back on a plane and go back to NYC, in the same seat. Over and over and over again. Dante's 7th ring of hell has nothing on this!!



But enough of that!!! Back to Jamaica!

Here's a couple pics from the resort, I miss it already!