Mad ancestors or elusive ancestors
who drive US mad!
This blog post is not about someone who made me literally mad but maybe more mad in the sense that I am confused!
My Great Grandfather, Andrew Anderson Smalley was born April 3, 1853 in Falls Township, Wyoming County Pennsylvania. He died on March 12, 1943 in Coos County, Oregon. On his death certificate, his father is stated as B.F. Smalley and mother unknown. Okay, could this be a Benjamin Franklin? That name is fairly common and not easy to pinpoint.
So my next step was to go to the 1860 census of Wyoming County, PA to see if I can find Smalleys. I find 3 Smalley children living with a William Dunlap family and their daughter, Hannah. Mary age 6, Anderson age 5 and Edgar at 3 years. Was Hannah the children's mother? I couldn't assume at that point. Her last name was enumerated as "Dunlap". No Benjamin. Maybe he died? A few census pages away is a Jefferson Smalley family from New York. I set this aside as a possible clue.
1870 census of same location shows as head of family, Jesse Wall and wife Hannah and two Smalley children; Andrew age 17 and Edgar age 14 plus William Dunlap and wife. Mary is not found.
1880 census Andrew Smalley and his wife and children are found in Nevada where he is supposed to be. Back in Falls Twshp, no Walls are to be found! There was a land transaction that Jesse Wall participated in 1882, but what happened to him and Hannah? I scoured any variation of the 1880 census that I could think of to try to locate them. No luck.
In October 2004, I was fortunate enough to take a trip to the Historical Society in Tunkhannock, PA. One of my goals was to try to locate more Smalley information. I located the marriage notice of Andrew and his wife Emma in the local newspaper and found that his mother was listed as "Mrs. Wall". BINGO! That solved that issue.
At that point, I was stuck.
A few months ago I was googling and decided just on a whim to type in Andrew Smalley and Pennsylvania. I got a hit! There was a book called "The Centennial History of Oregon, 1811-1912" By Joseph Gaston which listed a whole biography of my Andrew Smalley. It was full of information and he mentions his parents as being Benjamin L. and Hannah M. which further states my case.
You would think at that point I solved all of my issues. Of course not!
It has lead to further problems.
First claim is that Andrew told the author that his father, Benjamin came to America from Germany when he was 16 years old. Okay I can handle that. What confuses me is that Smalley seems to be more of an English name. So not sold on that senario.
Second item is that he said his father "enlisted in the Federal Army as one of the first volunteers of his state and was killed in the Battle of Bull Run." So I eagerly did some research to find any records of a Civil War enlistment under his name, pension research for the widow, Hannah and Penn State enlistment records and there is no one by that name! So where was Benjamin in the 1860 census? He was gone by that time and there is no census listing for anywhere. There is one candidate for the 1850 Census of Luzerne County for a Benjamin L. age 21 a Mason and born in Pennsylvania. I suspect that could be him. Why did Andrew lie about his father? Was his father a criminal? Did he just die and Andrew embellished his story?
As far as Hannah goes, Andrew states that his mother, Hannah Wall lived with her daughter, Mary in Virginia City, NV same place as Andrew and family and died at her daughter's home. So I went to the 1880 census to retrace any Hannahs and Marys in Storey County, Nevada. I found a H.M. Wall age 39 female born in Pennsylvania and parents born in Penn as a prisoner in the County jail! The age was off by 5 years and she stated that she was married. Where was the husband, wouldn't he have been enumerated in the census? This just couldn't get any worse.
Andrew's brother Edgar supposedly died in a mine accident in Nevada as stated in the Centennial history. I did find a entry for an E. Smalley a miner who died from inflammation of the bowels in the 1880 mortality census of Nevada. An R. Smalley female is found in the 1880 census and could be his wife, Rebecca. She is listed in the same county, as a widow.
As far as Mary goes, do not know who she married and what happened. I need to further dig into Virginia City to find out more, the records are somewhat on the scarce side.
After Andrew and family left Nevada, they headed off to Mendocino County, California to lumber. What is interesting, is the family members of the previous Jefferson Smalley listed in the 1860 census are founded in that area! This group of Smalleys originate from the Killfish area of New York. I suspect that Andrews clan connects with these people, but I cannot at this time prove it.
So many unanswered questions which leads to more! The search still continues!


geneabloggers said...

Great post about your frustration! In the end you mention area of NY as "Killfish" - do you mean Fishkill? That is a town near where I grew up.


Delia Furrer said...

I did mean "FishKill". Ha!

Anonymous said...

hi..ANDREW SMALLEY here from newark-on-trent , just started taking an interest in my family name..i believe it can be traced to the county of derbyshire, uk..from before 1066...smalley is not a very common name in my area, but i was amazed how common it is world wide..even a uss smalley and an asteroid !! tracing a family tree is going to be abit of a mine field im sure..!!