Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Chloe Cooley, Adam William Vrooman, and My Family Tree

I've written a few times about my Van Every ancestors ties to slavery.
I am back again with their ties to another slave. A historical one, that many Canadian schoolchildren might have been able to tell me about ten years ago if they read my posts.

Who was Chloe Cooley?

Chloe Cooley was a young black woman held as a slave in Fort Erie and Queenston, Upper Canada in the late 1700s, as the area was being settled by Loyalists from the United States. Her owner forced her into a boat to sell her in 1793 across the Niagara River in the United States.

This incident was observed by several witnesses, who petitioned the Executive Council of Upper Canada. Although charges were dropped against Cooley's owner, the incident is believed to have led to passage of the Act Against Slavery, 1793, in Upper Canada. It prevented slaves from being imported into the province and provided for gradual abolition of slavery within a generation among those held there. 

Who was the Loyalist owner? Adam Vrooman. (Some sources give his name as William)

Source (Wikipedia entry)

About 1784 Adam Vrooman and my ancestor, McGregory Van Every likely shared a lot. 

Source: Niagara Historical Society Publication Number 27.

Geo Vanevery is almost certainly McGregory. No known son or close kin of McGregory was named George. McGregory is listed as one of the original 1782 settlers in the First Census of Niagara, 25th of August, 1782. 

In that census there was one male slave, belonging to Thomas McMicken. That slave had been incorrectly assigned to McGregory by some researchers, which I clarified in Following the Citations in 2012. Vrooman isn’t in the original census, so he arrived between 1782 and 1784. 

Why would Adam Vrooman and McGregory Vanevery share a lot?

Good question. I have a couple possible answers. 

1) They were cousins. Or at least the families were close.

Looking at my family tree, it suggested a Sara Meyndertse married a Jacob Vrooman in the early 1700s. There was no specific date, and no source. It's continually frustrating that I wasn't very good at citing sources in early research. 

Sara appears to be the great-granddaughter of Myndert Fredericksen. McGregory was the great-grandson of Myndert, so second cousins with Sara. His children would have been third cousins with any children of Sara and Jacob.

Wikitree says Adam’s parents were Jacob Vrooman and Rachel Van Woert. And that Jacob and Rachel were married in 1743. 

Wikitree has no definite spouse of Sara Meyndertse, but questions whether she married Jacob Vrooman. If you look at the entry, you will see I added her entry in 2011. Since then someone has questioned her spouse. Did I make a mistake? 

FamilySearch agrees with me, as does Ancestry, and they both cite New York Marriages, 1686-1980 for a 1742 marriage. So I have now added that as a source. 

So there is a possibility there was a brief marriage between Sara and Jacob Vrooman, and that Jacob's children, including Adam, were not actually DNA cousins with my ancestors, though the families may have remained close. There is also a possibility there were two Adam Vroomans, marrying separate women.

2) There are also suggestions that Abigail VanEvery, daughter of McGregory married either a Peter Vrooman or an Isaac Vrooman. There are also suggestions that this Vrooman spouse died in 1782 in New York. I am not certain what Abigail and a possible child did at that time, but joining her father in Niagara is certainly a possibility. Possibly along with some Vrooman kin. 

Back to the events of 1793. 

There was growing sentiment in Canada to free slaves, and owners were deciding to sell before being forced to free. Vrooman arranged a sale across the Niagara River in New York. Cooley fought back. 

Vrooman beat Cooley, tied her up and forced her into a small boat, aided by two other men. (Wikipedia entry above)
Who were the two other men? 

Adam’s brother, Isaac, and one of the sons of McGregory Van Every. (Canadian Encyclopedia)

[Another Isaac]

Which son of McGregory? Every source I can find refers to the third individual in the same format. I suspect there is no document that specifically identifies him

Records suggest, when Adam arrived in Niagara, he had another slave named Tom. Even if Adam was the owner, if the lot was a partnership with my ancestor, and they had familial ties, my ancestor likely directly benefitted, and likely approved. McGregory died in 1786, but at least one of his sons was close enough with Adam Vrooman ten years later to provide his assistance in what Canadians call the Chloe Cooley Incident. 

Chloe Cooley received a postage stamp earlier this year. 

Note: There are no known images of Cooley, so all images are artistic renderings.

Other resources:


Thursday, April 27, 2023

National Library Week: Usefulness of a Library Card

 April 23-29 is National Library Week in the United States

In 2010, 20122015, and 2019 I looked at the value of my St. Louis County Library Card with respect to genealogy research. I thought I would do that again.

Here are 30 databases I can use to research genealogy courtesy of my library card. For most of them I can access the database at home, though a few are in-library only. Unfortunately, I don't get to the library very often, as the location closest to me is under construction.

1. A to Z Maps Online
2. A to Z the USA
3. AAS Historical Periodicals Collection
4. Academic Search Elite [EBSCO]
5. Access World News
6. African American History Online
7. African American Newspapers: 19th Century
8. American Ancestors (In Library Only)
9. American Indian History Online
10. Ancestry Library Edition (In Library Only) - Ancestry provided remote access for the first couple years of the pandemic, but they have stopped doing so.
11. Archion (vital records for Protestant churches in Germany)
12. Civil War: A Newspaper Perspective
13. eBooks on EBSCOhost
14. Ethnic NewsWatch [ProQuest]
15. Factiva
16. FindMyPast (In Library Only)
17. Fire Insurance Maps Online (Missouri and Illinois)
18. Fold3
19. HeritageHub (Formerly America’s Obituaries and Death Notices)
20. HeritageQuest Online
21. Historical New York Times (ProQuest)
22. Historical Newspapers US Major Dailies (ProQuest)
23. Historical St Louis Post Dispatch (ProQuest)
24. History Vault: Southern Life, Slavery, and the Civil War 1 & 2
25. MyHeritage Library Edition
26. NewsBank
27. NewspaperArchive
28. Newspapers.com
29. Nineteenth Century US Newspapers
30. ProQuest Digital Microfilm (NYTimes, St. Louis Post Dispatch)

AmericanAncestors, Ancestry, FindMyPast, Fold3, MyHeritage, and Newspapers.com are all major subscription genealogy websites. Having free access to even basic/library versions is excellent.

However - the St. Louis County Library system card is not the only library card I have.

Six months ago I started employment at a local university. 
So now I have access to their databases as well. Here's a selection:

1. Academic Search Complete (1975-present)
2. Adams Papers Digital Edition (Rotunda) (John Adams' papers)
3. African Americans, Communists, and the National Negro Congress (Archives Unbound)
4. African American Newspapers (ProQuest)
5. African American Newspapers: 19th Century
6. Al-Ahram Digital Newspaper Archive (Egyptian newspaper)
7. Amateur Newspapers from the American Antiquarian Society (Archives Unbound)
8. America in Protest: Records of Anti-Vietnam War Organizations, The Vietnam Veterans Against the War (Archives Unbound)
9. America’s Historical Imprints
10. American Civil War: Letters and Diaries
11. American Hebrew and Hebrew Messenger 1867-1922 (New York newspaper weekly)
12. American Historical Periodicals from the American Antiquarian Society
13. American Israelite 1854-2000 (Cincinnati newspaper weekly)
14. American National Biography
15. American Periodicals 1740-1940
16. American Religion: Denominational Newspapers
17. Ancestry Library Edition (Still has Remote Access)
18. Associated Press Collections Online
19. Atlanta Constitution 1868-1945
20. Atlanta Daily World 1931-2000
21. Australian Dictionary of Biography

And that's just a selection of resources starting with the letter A!

The larger someone's family database is, the more it is true:
you never know where someone's name will appear. 
The university has over 1,100 online databases.
I'm finding a lot of interesting things, even though I haven't been writing about them.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Tombstone Tuesday: Robert Lee (1895-1971) and Mabel Ada (1901-1991) Gober

 Robert Lee Gober (1895-1971) and Mabel Ada (Fulkerson) Gober (1901-1991) were my wife's great grandparents. The photograph below was taken July 3, 2015.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Amanuensis Monday: 1925 Trip of Myrtle Van Every

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another. 

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

Below I transcribe an article found at Newspapers.com mentioning my maternal grandmother. It's very brief, but corroborates some photographs I have in my collection.

El Paso, Texas
28 Jun 1925, Sun
Page 13

Myrtle Van Every, formerly of El Paso and now of St Louis, is visiting her aunt Mrs. A.A.. Benold, of 908 Octavia street Last week Miss Van Every visited her sister at Fort Hancock. She will leave soon for California, stopping at the Grand Canyon. She will also go over the Canadian Rockies while she is away


1) Mrs. A. A. Benold (Minnie) was my grandmother's sister. Not her aunt. There were 16 years separating them in age. There were eight years separating my grandmother from her sister, Eva, who lived in Fort Hancock. 

2) I have some photographs from the Grand Canyon. I do not know who her companion was.

3) I also have a photograph I believe is from California. While I suspected she was in Hollywood from the caption, the article confirms she went to California as part of the same trip. I don't know her companions here, either. However, I do know she had first cousins living in California, and there is a good chance these may have been them. (Her father was one of over 20 siblings. While not all lived to adulthood, she had a lot of cousins.)

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Tracking Down a Death Record

A search on a local genealogy society website uncovered a burial record for an infant in 1908. No given name, so I knew the child, if not stillborn, lived only a brief period of time.

Unfortunately, while the index survived, the actual microfilm records for the particular month in 1908 did not survive. 

So I contacted the cemetery. Only the book containing names and dates survived. The book with other information, such as parent names, did not. 

That left me contacting the County Clerk. I was trying to avoid that until I verified that the infant was a kin. There are a limited number of potential fathers with the surname in the area, but not all are related to me. And I really do not like spending money on documents for non relatives, even if it is minimal. And in this case it was $20 plus VitalChek’s processing fee, which I do not consider minimal.

I emailed the clerk and asked if they had any other process than VitalChek for non-certified copies. I got a very kind “Not usually, but I checked to see if we had the record, and there’s not much info on it. Here’s the scan. Happy New Year!” (Not exact wording.)

It never hurts to ask. The clerk was correct - there wasn’t much info, but it did have the birthplace for both parents. (Not their names - just the birthplaces.) If that info is correct, the infant was not related to me. Related to somebody, though, so I will save it in my files in case I ever run into a researcher for that family.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Ancestry U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index - App vs Website

The information presented by Ancestry.com for the U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index is different depending upon whether you view it on a web browser, or their phone app.

Here is what I see on a web browser (With name and SSN info removed. The individual is a second cousin of a grandparent. I am not in contact with their descendants.)

____ in the U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index 

Birth Date:26 Nov 1915
Birth Place:St Louis, Missouri
Death Date:14 May 1986
Notes:Nov 1936: Name listed as ________; Oct 1943: Name listed as _____; : Name listed as _______; 24 Mar 1988: Name listed as _______

Here is what I see on my iPhone app for the exact same record:

U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index 

Gender: Female
Birth Date: 26 Nov 1915
Birth Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Death Date: 14 May 1986

As you can see there are a handful of fields that are completely left off of the record on the app. 
  • Race
  • SSN
  • Notes
There is absolutely no indication on the app that they have expurgated this information from the record. Some sort of warning would be nice - informing the researcher they need to use a web browser to view all available information. (Or even better, include all of the information on the app.)

In this case, the Notes information is critical. This is an index, and transcription errors can occur easily. While there is no reason to call into question the death date when viewed on the app, when viewed on the browser, the Notes section clearly indicates something is fishy. Why is a change in how the name is listed recorded two years after the supposed death?

The tombstone and obituary for this individual indicate that the date of death was indeed in March of 1988. I fully suspect that something did occur in May of 1986. Possibly the change in name listing that has no date in the notes. And this somehow got recorded as the death date in the indexing. However, without having the additional records to refer to, if I relied solely on the information presented on the app, I would enter the wrong information into my tree, without questioning it at all.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Did my second great grandfather, Samuel Newmark, make up a cousin while crossing a border?

When my great grandfather, Barney, in July of 1907 crossed the Canadian border into the US, the Border Crossings document indicates the following:

Barney Newmark, age 22, Tailor, Citizen of Canada, Hebrew, Last Resided in Winnipeg, Nearest Relative Mother Rosa Newmark in London, Final Destination St. Paul Minnesota, Joining a cousin, Joseph Newmark, on 344 Eagle Land Street, place of birth London England.

Barney's father, Samuel, indicated at the same border crossing that he was:

45, a tailor, citizen of Canada, Hebrew, Last resided in Winnipeg, Nearest relative wife, Rosa in London, visiting the same cousin, Joseph in St. Paul, and place of birth Warsaw, Poland. 

Barney was not born in London. Later, for a local Who's Who of businessmen, he would claim he was born in Dublin, Ireland. It is almost certain he was born in either Warka or Warsaw, Poland, like his father. They were also not citizens of Canada. They had only spent three months in Canada, and I don't believe anyone in the family obtained citizenship in London even though they were there for 15 years. 

Who is the cousin, Joseph, in St. Paul Minnesota? Is he another figment of  imagination? Eagleland is a very curious name for a street since America has an eagle for a symbol, and I am unable to find such a street in St. Paul or its vicinity The only Eagleland Street I can find is in Texas. Samuel's middle name was Joseph.

However - nearby in Minneapolis, in 1907, there were families with the surname: Newmark, Neimark and Naymark. None that I can find with the given name Joseph. I suspect this cousin was an invention. But there remains a possibility that they existed.