Category Archives: Blakeslee

NYS Archives: My ancestor Waples Hance in early tax rolls

Sepia Saturday 505. Fifth in a series based on recent research discoveries at the NYS Archives & Library: New details for my paternal ancestor Waples Hance.

Rounding out my recent research trip to the New York State Library and Archives, I was able to access some early tax records for my paternal fourth great-grandfather Waples Hance — who moved in the late 1700s from his childhood home in New Jersey to New York’s southern tier.

Finding evidence of Waples’ arrival in the Binghamton, N.Y., area — and the possible name of his wife Rachel Chapman’s father– were among my research goals.
1841 Atlas of New York State Counties and Senatorial Districts. Click to enlarge. This map shows the various homes of my fourth great-grandfather Waples Hance — from his childhood in New Jersey and adult years in Broome County, N.Y. (at lower right in district 6) to his senior years in Susquehanna Co., Penna. (south of Broome County). Image: NYPL Digital Collections

Waples and Rachel were the parents of Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee — whose 1866 divorce I wrote about last year. And I can’t help but wonder whether her decision to leave her husband Zebulon in 1858 might have been inspired, in part, by the example of her father — who picked up stakes to start a new life with a new wife far from his New Jersey home.

Waples’ story in brief

I have not yet written in detail about my fourth great-grandfather Waples Hance (born circa 1760) because I am still documenting his story — particularly his early life in Shrewsbury Township, Monmouth County, N.J.

However, numerous written sources, including J.H. French’s Gazetteer of the State of New York, indicate that as an adult he lived in Conklin in Broome County, N.Y. — arriving there circa 1788, when he would have been about 28 years old.
Bird’s eye view of Binghamton, N.Y. (circa 1882). My ancestor Waples Hance lived in this area from circa 1788. Before any bridges spanned the Chenango and Susquehanna rivers, he purportedly operated a ferry near where the two rivers meet. I am still documenting this and other details of my fourth great-grandfather’s life. Image: Library of Congress

Tioga County tax rolls

So in the New York State Archives, I looked at tax records for that period — when Conklin was in Town of Chenango (from which Binghamton was formed in 1855) in Tioga County (half of which became Broome County in 1806).

Tax assessment rolls on microfilm for Tioga County, from 1799 to 1804, covered the period I was interested in — and I found several entries for Waples Hance that firmly place him in Chenango, Tioga County, N.Y. during that time.

Town of Chenango, Tioga County, N.Y – Tax Assessment Rolls 1799-1804 – Source: New York State Archives 
Year Names of Possesors Description of Real Estate Value of Real Estate Value of Personal Estate Tax to be paid
1799 Hance, Waples House & farm $340 $30 $0.36
1800 Hance, Waples House & farm $340 $40 $0.94
1801 Hance, Waples House & farm $200 $56 $0.66
1802 Waples Hance House & farm $200 $30 $0.46
1803 Hanse, Waples Land $360 $40 $0.65

Like Gloversville city directories, some early tax assessment rolls for Tioga County have been digitized. Yet, I found more entries for my ancestor Waples Hance by scrolling the microfilm than through online searching — plus I was able to see other entries on the rolls and place my ancestor’s house and farm in a broader context.

A Chapman family mystery

The tax rolls also allowed me to delve into one more family mystery: Who was the father of Waples’ wife, Rachel Chapman?

French’s Gazetteer, in a note about Conklin, N.Y., mentions Daniel Chapman as an early resident. Could he be the father of Rachel (Chapman) Hance? If so, he might be my fifth great-grandfather — and judging by the tax rolls, he certainly appears to be a good candidate! More on what I discovered in the next post.

Up next: Finding a new fifth great-grandfather. Please stop back! Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Arthur T. Bull’s GAR Descriptive Book

Sepia Saturday 502: Second in a series of posts based on recent research discoveries, starting with my U.S. Civil War ancestor Arthur T. Bull of the 6th New York Heavy Artillery.

Delegate badges worn at GAR conventions. Photo: Molly Charboneau

In the last post, I discussed my recent genealogy research trip to the New York State Archives and Library and one of the collections I looked at — the Grand Army of the Republic New York Dept. collection.

This week I want to share some of the remarkable documents and artifacts in this collection — several pertaining to my Union Army ancestor Arthur T. Bull of the 6th New York Heavy Artillery.

My ancestor’s GAR enrollment

First among these (shown below) is the Descriptive Book in which — on 21 July 1886 — my great-great grandfather Arthur was enrolled in GAR Nathan Crosby Post 550 in Salamanca, Cattaraugus Co., N.Y.

Cover of the GAR Nathan Crosby Post 550 Descriptive Book. These post books with marbleized covers were standard issue. The New York State Archives has many of them in their collection from GAR posts statewide. Photo: Molly Charboneau
Number 30: My ancestor’s enrollment in the GAR. My great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull enrolled as “A.T. Bull.” He was not a founding member of Nathan Crosby Post 550. However, he joined in 1886 soon after moving to Salamanca, N.Y., from the Adirondacks region. Photo: Molly Charboneau

Digital images of the book and his listing are available online — but they were just no substitute for holding the actual Descriptive Book and knowing that my great-great grandfather directly provided his life and military details, which were entered by a fellow veteran.

I was doubly fortunate that a photographer documenting the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society trip happened by and photographed me as I was researching!

Viewing my ancestor’s GAR enrollment record. My great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull joined the GAR in 1886. Seeing his name in the post’s Descriptive Book was a high point of my Nov. 2019 genealogy research trip to the New York State Archives in Albany, N.Y. Photo: Jennifer Clunie, New York State Archives Partnership Trust

The GAR support network

The story of my ancestor Arthur T. Bull’s membership in the GAR is detailed in a previous post — along with a transcription of his record.

Arthur and his wife Mary benefited greatly from his GAR membership — and through it developed new friendships in an area that they moved to late in life.

The GAR provided a valuable support network to assist with pension issues. And after my great-great grandfather Arthur died, his fellow veterans helped my great-great grandmother Mary with probate.

So it was wonderful to view and photograph the embossed, folio-sized founding charter of the Nathan Crosby Post — a GAR chapter pulled together by a group of Union Army veterans who were there when my ancestors needed them.

Founding charter of my ancestor’s GAR NY Nathan Crosby Post 550. These folio-sized documents are impressive. The New York State Archives has a large collection of GAR charters from throughout the state. Photo: Molly Charboneau

Other items of interest

The GAR New York Department collection — with 99 boxes in 14 sub-series — is a significant source of statewide information about Union Army veterans.

Reunion, encampment and campaign badges from Grand Army of the Republic gatherings. Photo: Molly Charboneau

In addition to specific items pertaining to my ancestor Arthur T. Bull, I pulled several boxes of general interest — and I was amazed at the breadth of what was available.

The collection preserves badges, books, photographs, minutes and other documents from a pivotal time in U.S. history — yet remains very personal in its presentation.

One can almost imagine the veterans who — long after the U.S. Civil War — proudly wore, and carefully saved, their GAR pins and badges from conventions, encampments and reunions before fading from history’s stage.

This archival collection assures that New York’s Union Army veterans and their invaluable contributions are not forgotten.

Up next, more research discoveries in the New York State Archives. Please stop back! Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Why Hannah left Zebulon in 1858: A circumstantial theory

Sepia Saturday 495: Fourth and last in a series on why my third great-grandmother Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee may have left her marriage in 1858.

In court records of my third great-grandparents’ 1866 divorce proceedings, no direct evidence was submitted by my third great-grandmother Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee to explain why she left her marriage — never to return.

According to my third great-grandfather Zebulon Blakeslee’s divorce petition, Hannah left him on 1 Nov. 1858 — just two-and-a-half weeks before their 30th wedding anniversary on 19 Nov. 1858.

Hannah’s bold action was unusual for women in the mid-nineteenth century, when only 0.3 in 1000 U.S. marriages ended in divorce. So the most intriguing question in this series is: Why did Hannah leave Zebulon?
Godey’s Fashions for Women (June 1864). I believe Hannah’s departure had a great deal to do with her close relationship with her daughters — Rhoda Ann and Mary Elizabeth — and her developing relationship with her young grandchildren. Photo: ctgpublishing

Having examined the court papers, reviewed a timeline of Hannah’s early and later married life, and chronicled what I know of her post-divorce years, I have formed a theory of why she left Zebulon.

And I believe Hannah’s departure had a great deal to do with her close relationship with her daughters — Rhoda Ann and Mary Elizabeth — and her developing relationship with her young grandchildren.

Hannah’s focus: home, children, grandchildren

Hannah married Zebulon when she was 16 — and spent her childhood and married life in nearby rural farm communities of Conklin, N.Y. and Brookdale, Penna.

There is no evidence that she worked outside the home and the family’s farm during that period — so her focus appears to have been on her home and children. By 1858, the year she left Zebulon, she also had three grandchildren: Rhoda’s sons Duane and Albert and Mary’s daughter Emma — all living nearby.

An abrupt change in 1858

Then in 1858, something happened to upset the stability of Hannah’s extended family — possibly an economic depression related to the Panic of 1857, which hit rural areas hard.

For that’s when Hannah’s daughters Rhoda and Mary, their husbands William Whitney and Arthur T. Bull, and their children uprooted themselves and left the cross-border Conklin-Brookdale area — resettling in Delaware County in New York’s Catskills region.

Hannah’s husband Zebulon appears to have simultaneously fallen on hard times, too — because by 1860 he was boarding with another family and no longer living in his own house.

Township Valley in Delaware County, N.Y. During the 1860 U.S. census, my third great grandmother Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee was living in the Catskills village of Walton, Delaware County, N.Y., with her daughters and their families. She joined them there when she left  her husband in 1858. By: Andy Arthur

Hannah steps into the future

I believe this cascade of events in 1858 prompted Hannah to make a life-changing decision: to stay behind as her daughters and grandchildren — her whole world — moved far away, or to join them in search of a better life.

Since she was living with her daughters in 1860 in Walton, N.Y. — and without Zebulon — we know she chose to step into the future.

Did she try to convince Zebulon to come with her? Did he refuse? Or was this a chance for Hannah to break free from limiting marital circumstances? Hard to know without direct evidence.

However, during the Blakeslee divorce case Jehiel W. Snow testified that, “Have heard her say that she never would come back to live with him and heard her say that she should quit him there.”

One phrase from his testimony seems to stand out: “…quit him there.” Am I reading too much into this — or does that sound like the frustrated statement of a woman whose husband simply refused to budge when the rest of the family was suddenly on the move?

Her family sustained her

My theory about Hannah’s departure rests on circumstantial evidence — and without direct evidence there may never be a definitive explanation. There is also a ten-year period — from circa 1862 to 1873 — when I have not been able to determine her whereabouts.

Yet once Hannah made the decision to throw in her lot with her daughters and grandchildren, she did not turn back — and they, in turn, were apparently supportive. During her later years, and for the rest of her life, she lived with one daughter or the other — and even one of her adult grandsons.

Would she have remained as close to them if she hadn’t joined them in 1858? Possibly not. And for Hannah, that may have made her bold decision worth it.

Up next: A series summary, then a fall break for Molly’s Canopy to relax and recharge. Please stop back when blogging resumes after the holiday season.  Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2019 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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