Ward Pierce (1840-1921) was my husband’s 2nd great-grandfather.  He served for the Union in the Civil War and was wounded in the left thigh at Cold Harbor.

This is a letter he wrote to the Commissioner of Pensions, asking for an increase of his pension.  It’s so sad to think that he couldn’t make ends meet.  I”m so thankful to have a copy of this letter, which he wrote in his own hand.

Lakewood, N.J.  Jan 16, 1912

Hon Commissioner of Pensions

Dear Sir,

        I am very sorry that you have rejected my claim for an increase as I believe that I’m justly entitled to it as I am not able to work and have only three and a half days to my credit for two years and $17 will not make ends meet as I have no income what ever Well I have done my duty as a soldier to help keep what all men now enjoy and wishing you and all mankind prosperous and happy new year is the sincere wish of yours most respectfully,

Ward Pierce

[stamped Jan 19 1912, U.S. Pension Office]

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This is the will of my 2nd great-grandfather, Jacob Frederick Sanchez-Tereso.  He was almost 20 years older than his wife and still had young children when he wrote his will.  As you can see, he wanted to make sure that they were provided for in case he died.  My great-grandfather, Theodore F. Sanchez, was only 10 when his father died – and he had a younger brother who was only about 7.

I found this will in the Keokuk County Courthouse in Sigourney, Iowa.  It was file No. 1187, in a large bundle of loose papers.  I don’t think that the clerk was very happy that I wanted copies of them all, but oh well- that’s their job, right?:)

I Frederick Sanches Tereso of the County of Keokuk and State of Iowa do make this my Last will and Testament.
first, I will that all of my just Debts and Funeral Expenses be paid out of my personal property and all of the ballance of my Property both Personal and Real Except that hereafter Excepted I do will and bequeath to my wife Matilda Jane to have and to hold During her Lifetime and at her Death then what is Remaining of my property is to be divided Equally among my children Milton F, Helen Handelman, Nancy, Sheridan, Viola Theodore + George Oscar and if my son Milton Shall Stay on the presmises and assist his mother in managing and caring for the Property untill the Youngest one of my children Shall become of age then it is my will that in addition to having an Equal Share with the other heirs above named he is to have the North East quarter of the North West quarter and the North West quarter of the North East quarter of Section Twenty Five (25) Township Seventy four North of Range No thirteenwest, which he is to have for the Services that he is Required to perform as above and Should he fail to perform Said Services as above Stated then all of my property Remaining at the Death of my wife including the above Described Land to be Equally Dividing among my heirs above named and Should my wife Die before my youngest child becomes of age then it is my will that my Son Milton manage and controll my property Remaining at that time untill the youngest heir becomes of age + I do choose my wife Matilda Jane to act as my Executor with my Son Milton has her assistant with of which shall be Required to give bonds and it is my wish and will that my property be divided by my Heirs mutually among themselves without Having the Same to go into Court Witness my Hand this 24th day of August 1881
Fred Sanchez Tereso
witnessed by
Jos Merryfield
___________

  • Heather Roelker - October 31, 2011 - 3:08 pm

    You know what is best about this will? It is legible! I’ve been pouring over a similar document and have to translate each word…you lucky girl.ReplyCancel

    • Jen - October 31, 2011 - 7:49 pm

      How true!! There’s nothing worse than a document that is impossible to read!!ReplyCancel

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William Henry Snider was my husbands 3rd great-grandfather. This is a nice, informative obituary.  I love it when they give details!!:)

From the Evening News Paper, 23 July1880:
Mr. William Henry Snider died on last Thursday morning, July 22, 1880, after a few weeks sickness, in his 74th year.  He was born in North Carolina, March 12, 1807.  He came in Utica in an early day, when Louisville was in the woods.  By his industrious, honest and temperate habits he got him a nice little home, in which he took great pains to keep in good and neat repair, and enjoyed saying it was by honest work that he got it.  He began after marriage by working for Mr. Jacob Lentz Sr. now living near Utica, for $10 per month and was to board at Mr. Lentz’s also, still he always saved a little to lay up for future use.  He was free-hearted and had good will for his fellow men, and was a serious member of the M.E. church, but he was always willing that everyone should have his own choice of churches.  he first joined the church in North Carolina and when he came here he joined what was known as the New Chapel camp meeting.  After the meeting he was amoung some of the brethen, urging them to organize the first Sunday school in Utica.  It was called the Union-Sunday school, all the church took part.  He was then elected Secretary of the Sunday-school, which office he held as long as the school lasted, and then the Methodists organized a school and he was chosen Secretary, which office he filled and was always prompt at his place  until about three years ago, when he resigned, but still he would attend when his health permit.
He was a Democratic in politics; a farmer and a carpenter by trade.  He never was satisfied unless he was employed.  He could be seem almost everyday coming to Utica to get the news and see the sick.
As his life was so was his death.  He always did his duty, and when the Lord called him home he was willing and ready to go.  He was perfectly conscious to the last.  One of his watchers asked him about five minutes before he died if there was anything he wanted.  He shooked his head and opened his eyes.  So he died as he lived, peaceful and happy at 3 o’clock a.m., July 22, 1880.  He leaves a wife and several children to mourn his loss.  All his children are grown.  Their names are respectively, Mr. John Snider, Mr. W.H. Snider Jr., Mr. Joseph Snider, Mr. James Snider, Mrs. Lucinda Smith, Mrs. Mary Pollion, Mrs. Julia Weeks, Mrs. Delilah Van Pelt, Mrs. Laura Chambers and Mrs. Emma Dunn.

  • Jackie - October 30, 2011 - 7:43 am

    Very informative obit, however there is no mention of his wife, not even her name? How sad.ReplyCancel

  • Jen - October 30, 2011 - 9:43 am

    You’re right! I wonder why they didn’t mention her name at all – it was Elizabeth Neely by the way.ReplyCancel

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We had a nice weekend.  We attended the Amigo Airsho here on post. I took tons of pictures of airplanes.

Monday night, I was hit with a horrible cold.  An I-can’t-get-out-of-bed cold.  I’ve had way too much computer time since I haven’t felt like moving.  I’m gradually getting better and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t pass to the rest of the family.  I am forcing myself to be well this weekend as I take the kids to various Halloween activities.

Oh, and I  had another cousin find me this week – a Norwegian cousin.   I love it when people find me! Keep on googling….:)

Well, on to this week’s favorite finds…

  • I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one to have nervous breakdowns because of genealogy.  Jenny at Are My Roots Showing?,  just went through her 19th nervous breakdown, but appears to have made it though.:)  I appreciate the reminder to keep a research log.  I am SO BAD about that and I know that it has caused me so much time in re-searching things I’ve already looked through.  I watched the lesson on FamilySearch also.
  • This week’s edition of Geneabloggers Radio sounds like a blast.  Haunted by Ancestors – A Genealogy Halloween Special!  If I weren’t going to be busy taking my kids to a haunted house and trunk or treat that night, then I would definitely be there!  This will have to be one that I listen to on the ipod as I’m walking on the treadmill. (I have to work off all of that Halloween candy, right??)
  • Happy One Year Blogivesary to my good friend and fellow Geneablogger, Cherie Cayemberg at Have You Seen My Roots?  Cherie and I go way back – in real life.  And I’m so happy that she has been successfully blogging for an entire year.  Keep up the good work!!!
  • I have always loved looking at old class photos.  Nancy over at My Ancestors and Me has a great picture from 1925 to share.
  • What a beautiful Wordless Wednesday over at Above the Trees!  I wish my ancestors had left behind something like this.
  • And a few blogs I’ve started following this week: Nuts From the Family Tree, Geeky Texan, ‘Over Thy Dead Body‘, Blundering Blindly Backwards, and Extreme Ancestry.

And of course, I have to share a few pictures I took this past week:

  • Cinamon Collins - October 28, 2011 - 6:55 am

    Awesome photos! Hope you feel better soon!ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - October 28, 2011 - 10:13 am

    Fabulous photos. They make my heart beat faster and being there in life, with the planes flying over, brings tears to my eyes.

    Thanks for the mention of my photo. I appreciate it.ReplyCancel

  • Dee - October 29, 2011 - 7:34 am

    This must have been the week for you and me for “found” cousins.

    Great photos. Hope you are feeling better very soon.ReplyCancel

  • Christy (GeekyTexan) - November 11, 2011 - 7:46 pm

    Thank you for mentioning my blog! I’m horribly ashamed that I was so behind in my blog reading and just noticed (and am just as behind in my blog posting) the mention in your Friday column. But I’m all caught up now and glad you liked what you saw. Hopefully, GeekyTexan will have some good stuff soon!ReplyCancel

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My Pottgen and Thornton ancestors lived in Alton, Illinois, which is just North and across the river from St. Louis, Missouri.


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Louisa Mary Pottgen was born in Alton on 30 July 1836 (this still remains to be proven by me, because I don’t have a birth record).  Her parents, Francis and Sophia (Ross) Pottgen were immigrants from Germany.  Louisa married James Patrick Thornton, an Irish immigrant, in the early 1850’s.  They moved to Nebraska probably in the late 1870’s.

Here is a little history of this town that they spent a good deal of their lives in (the majority of this is from Wikipedia)…

Alton was founded in 1818 by Rufus Easton, and was named after his son.  Easton ran a ferryboat service from Alton to Missouri.

It became an important town for abolitionists, since Illinois was a free state and just across the river from Missouri, a slave state. Escaped slaves would cross the river and look for shelter in Alton before moving on to safer places. There were many stations on the Underground Railroad in this little city. You can read more about it here.

On November 7, 1837, the abolitionist printer, Reverend Lovejoy, was murdered by a pro-slavery mob while he was trying to protect his press. Lovejoy became the first martyr of the abolitionist movement.

The Alton and Sangamon Railroad was chartered in 1847 and finished in 1852.  It had service from Alton to Springfield and eventually to Chicago.

On October 15, 1858, Alton was the site of the seventh and final debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas.  There were 5,000 people in attendance.  You can read the full transcript of this debate here.

The first penitentiary in Illinois was in Alton, and during the Civil War, it was used to house close to 12,000 Confederate prisoners. Many of them died in a smallpox epidemic and are buried in a cemetery in town. You can actually search through records here to see if your Confederate ancestor was in the prison (they aren’t complete).

And something fun (which has nothing to do with my ancestors since they didn’t live in Alton in this same time period) – Robert Wadlow, the tallest human being, was from Alton.   There is a statue of him in town and a room dedicated to him at the local historical museum.

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I was able to make a very short, rushed visit to Alton last year.  I ended up finding my ancestors’ gravestones, but didn’t have time to stop for anything else, unfortunately.  I’m hoping to make a longer trip there in the future.

I had never really given much thought to the history of Alton before and how it may have affected my ancestors’ lives.  I now have some questions I’ve been thinking about:

  • Did they moved to Alton because they were abolitionists?  Did they ever help escaped slaves? I know that this is a long shot, but with the large amount of abolitionist activity in the area, I have to wonder.
  • They were living in Alton in 1858.  Did they attend the Lincoln-Douglas debate?  How exciting!!
  • How were their daily lives during the Civil War?  Were they scared of having such an overcrowded prison in their town?  I know that Louisa Pottgen Thornton’s brother, Henry Pottgen was killed during the War.  He had fought at Vicksburg, but ended up dying of chronic diarrhea – which I have noticed was quite common amongst the soldiers of this era.
  •  Did they travel to St. Louis very often?  It was only a ferryboat ride away.  Did they have family that lived there?  The majority of Pottgen names I’ve found in the US happen to be in the St. Louis area.  Makes me wonder.
  • James Thornton was a RR agent in 1870 in Alton.  Did the railroad bring him to Alton?
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