Sunday, May 12, 2024

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 20: Taking Care of Business

This week's title phrase can mean a variety of things.  It can literally mean taking care of one's means of supporting self and family.  Here on this blog, I've discussed businessmen and businesswomen in the family:  Emily [Hoyt] Packard, who was a milliner; Nelson Reed McKee, a jeweler and watchmaker; Frank A. Packard, Bloomington, Illinois, merchant; Perry Wilmer Reed, head of the Pensacola, Florida, Chamber of Commerce; my father, Arden Packard, and his brother Jack, advertising agency owners; Oscar Merry Packard, builder and developer; Walter Hetherington Packard, builder and developer, and stockbroker.

The phrase can also mean buckling down and taking care of the serious stuff in life.  Samuel Packard's religious convictions caused him to take his wife and their firstborn, a daughter, on a risky and most probably quite uncomfortable sea voyage in 1638, from their home in Suffolk, England to a hardscrabble new settlement in a wild land called Massachusetts.  There was Richards Packard, who did his part in taking care of a certain dispute with England at the end of the 1700s.  After that was settled, Richards began a northward migration that left him disappointed in Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire, on up into Canada, which was practically giving land away and not being terribly picky about who they were giving it to, even to those who had previously taken up arms against His Majesty, George III.  The succeeding three generations of my line were born in Canada.  Mathew Hale Packard, a member of that third generation, took a chance on what I call "retro-migration," going from Canada back to the U.S.  He took care of other grim business from 1860 to 1865, serving in two regiments of New York cavalry.  Farther west, at the same time, Charles Reed did the same in a regiment of Indiana infantry.  My father took care of the business of serving in the U.S. Navy, from his education at the Naval Academy to World War II service.

They all, with their brothers and sisters and cousins and aunts and all else, took care of the business of living, as best they could.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Looking for Complexity in all the Wrong Places

That describes my search for the brother-in-law relationship between my paternal great-great granduncle Major Wellman Packard and N. S. (Nathaniel Strong) Sunderland.  I was overthinking, which is something I tend to do.  It turned out to be very simple.

Major Wellman Packard was married to Ellen Harris, verified by their marriage record.  N. S. Sunderland was married to Rachel Harris. verified by their marriage record.  Just a few minutes ago, I found a hint as to who Rachel and Ellen's father may have been, each having that hint in the form of the same suggested father for both of them, on their Ancestry profiles.  One source listed in support of this relationship was the gentleman's will, which specifically mentions Ellen and Rachel, Rachel under the surname Sunderland.  Apparently, Ellen and Wellman Packard had not married at the time of her father's death.

Yes, N. S. Sunderland was indeed Wellman Packard's brother-in-law, and yes, Ellen and Rachel were indeed sisters, as set out plainly in their father's will.  I'm glad someone in our family finally died testate!

Case closed.

Not quite.  Still more sources to gather, especially a second ton of coverage of N. S. Sunderland's life and times.  Lots and lots of newspaper articles to transcribe, comb through for facts and clues, and analyze it all.  Lots of work still to be done.

But with all that ahead of me, I finally have the satisfaction that I am so Midwestern, I'm related to myself.  Hello, cousin self!

I'm so Midwestern . . .

. . . I'm related to myself.  Well, I grew up in the south, so how I have heard this saying is, "I'm so southern, I'm related to myself."  Cracker Barrel even sells t-shirts in this part of the country with that saying on them, in that form.

To rehash it briefly, there is a letter in the Abraham Lincoln Papers in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress to Lincoln in early 1860 from my paternal great-great granduncle Major Wellman Packard.  In it, he mentions his brother-in-law N. S. Sunderland.

Oooo!  Eyes pop wide, a big curiosity arises.  I have a bunch of Sunderlands on my mother's side, back to my fourth-great grandfather, Peter Sunderland, and his wife Nancy Ann Robbins.  Is this N. S. Sunderland, on my father's side, related to the Sunderlands on my mother's side?

Turns out, yep.  N. S. Sunderland -- Nathanial Strong Sunderland, so it turns out -- was the son of Peter Sunderland and Nancy Ann Robbins.  I have found absolute tons of newspaper articles about Nathanial Strong Sunderland, who was often referred to as N. S.  He was born in Ohio, in Centerville, in Montgomery County.  Nathaniel's father, Peter Sunderland, was apparently a pillar of Centerville, becoming established after he arrived there from the east.  His house, the house Nathaniel and his brother and sister grew up in, is quite the historic landmark in Centerville.

In addition to all the newspaper articles, there are also leads to military pension files, which I will order when I scrape up the dough for them.  There is Nathaniel's Civil War draft information.  There are some marriage and death records, but more are missing, especially marriage records.  I'll have to keep looking for them.

N. S. did not stay in Centerville.  He ended up in Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, where Wellman Packard, known in the family more by his middle name than his military-sounding given name, and many of his siblings had brought their families from Canada. Later, N. S. took his family to Larned, Pawnee County, Kansas.  I have no idea why.  But he became a man of renown in that town, serving multiple terms as mayor, as well as director of the town's school board, and key positions in the local Republican party.

However, in the edition of 8 April 1920 of the Larned, Kansas, Chronoscope, is this brief and puzzling article:
Elected mayor 1920 part 1

The rest of the article characterizes Herbert Porter as a candidate of "the young man's party" and continues briefly with a list of the other winners on the independent ticket. Those names are familiar as men who served in those offices in Mayor Sunderland's administrations in his terms as mayor.  Is the use of the phrase "passed off very quietly" a clue?  It is a phrase often used (though not always with "off" included) in obituaries.  Was this a tribute?  Or did some citizens of Larned, disgusted with the people who were actually running for these offices, conduct a write-in campaign to express their disdain, and their wish for a true-blue workhorse like Col. N. S. Sunderland, a longing for "the good ol' days."  The reference of Herbert Porter being a candidate of "the young man's party" may argue in favor of this theory.  These questions are legitimate, because the one and only Col. N. S. Sunderland died in 1909.  No junior to carry on the name.  It is a very odd little article.  The Midwestern sense of humor can be a puzzle to others, perhaps.

I still do not have the exact connection of N. S. to Wellman Packard as a brother-in-law.  That is the last piece in the puzzle.  There also now sits before me the duty to transcribe all these newspaper articles, as their presentation on Ancestry, ported over from, is often totally unreadable!  I have my clippings of them on, and I can zoom in or out as needed for readability.  Then comes the big step of carefully combing through these articles for all the clues that abound there, and conducting a proper analysis.  But at least I know where N. S. Sunderland plugs in with the rest of my mother's Sunderlands, whether this connection to my paternal side is true or not.  That in itself is a victory.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Descendants of 2nd great-grandparents

One of the genealogy web postings I have always enjoyed appears in Randy Seaver's prompts under the title Saturday Night Genealogy Fun .  I'm a bit late with this one; it's been busy around here!  So, without further ado:

1)  How complete is your family tree?  Do you have information about your cousins  - both close and more distant?  Today's challenge is to take one set of your 2nd great-grandparents and make a Descendants List (using your genealogy management program - e.g., Family Tree Maker, RootsMagic, etc.)

2) Tell us about your choice of 2nd great-grandparents, and tell us approximately how many descendants of them that you have in your family tree database. Share your answers, and perhaps a chart, on your own blog or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link on this post if you write your own post.
Here is mine: it's rather long, and I apologize for the fuzziness of the image, but I just spent two hours trying to get it to work at all . . . I have NO talent in the graphic arts.
As you can see, the Reeds were indeed fruitful, and multiplied, until you get down to my grandparents, Benjamin Franklin "Frank" Reed and Ruth Nave.  They were married in 1913, and Frank was killed in a railroad accident in 1917.  Ruth remarried twice, but had no more children.  I have only 33 Reeds and spouses and children in my database, because I have not been able to work on it for a goodly while.  I have not by a long shot finished delving into all the collateral ancestors here.  I have no idea how many descendants of Charles Reed and Clarissa Haney Wright there may have been, up to the present time.  I have met only a few of my cousins, and very few of my uncles and aunts, and only two grandaunts.