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All things history and genealogy.

Category: Genealogy

Transcription: Baptism records of 1855 taken from the Drouin Collection, 1670-1946.


The following is my transcription of Baptism records of 1855 taken from the Drouin Collection for  Arichat, Île du cap-Breton-N. Écosse (paroisse de l’Assomption).


Those baptised are François Hilarion Forest, Alexandre Albert Hureau, Charles Edouard Fougère, Sara Jeanne Girroir, Philomène Hureau, William Thomas Forgeron, Henriette Elizabeth Landry.



B. 139

François Hilarion Forrest

Le vingt-deux Novembre mil huit cens cinquante cinq, nous prètre soussigné avons baptisé François Hilarion né, le dix-neuf du mème mois, du légitime mariage de Lairé Forrest et de Marcelline Samson de cette paroisse. Le parrain a été Jean Beauséjour et la marrain Françoise Paon.

H. Girroir, Ptre

B. 140

Alexandre Albert Hureau

Le vingt-six Novembre mil huit cens cinquante cinq, nous prètre soussigné avons baptisé Alexandre Albert né la veille, du légitime mariage de Jean Hureau et de Amilie Briand de cette paroisse. Le parrain a été Alfred Briand et la marrain Adelaide Hureau.

H. Girroir, Ptre

B. 142

Sara Jeanne Girroir

Le vingt six Novembre mil huit cens cinquante cinq, nou prètre soussigné avons baptisé Sara Jeanne née avant veille, du légitime mariage de Abraham Girroir et de Susanne Forrest de cette paroisse. Le parrain a été Alex. Forrest et la marraine Sabina Angélique Forrest.

H. Girroir, Ptre

++ voir B. 145.

B. 143

Henriette Elizabeth Landry

Le vingt huit Novemb re mil huit dens cinquante cinq nous prètre soussigné avons baptizé Henriette Elizabeth fille legitime de Abraham Landry et Julie Boudrault. Le parrain a été ???oi Landry, la marrain Mare Leblanc.

H. McDonald, Ptre

Le ?eu?e neuf Novembre mil huit cent cinquante cinq nous prètre soussigné, avons baptizé ubn enfant James né l’avant villle de legitime mariage de Michael ?????? et Mary Doyle.

B. 144

William Thomas Forgeron

Le he?t?? Novembre mil huit cens cinqante cinq nous prètre soussigné, avons baptizé William Thomas né lávant veille, du legitime mariage de Élisée Fourgon et Victoire Landry. Le parrain a été Guillaume Henry la maraine Adelle Leblanc.

H. McDonald Ptre

B. 145

Philomène Hureau

Le vingt six novembre mil huit cens vinquante cinq, nous prètre soussigné avons baptisé Philomène née, le veille, du légitime mariage de Aimé Hureau et de Mathilde Boudrault. Le árrain a été Policarpe Boudrault et la marraine Victoire Hureau.

H. Girroir, Ptre

Transcription of baptism records of 1855 taken from the Drouin Collection.

The following is the translated text (exactly as provided) via Google Translate.



B. 139

François Hilarion Forrest

On the twenty-second of November, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five, we, the undersigned, baptized François Hilarion, born on the nineteenth of the same month, of the legitimate marriage of Lair6 Forrest and Marcelline Samson of this parish. The godfather was Jean Beauséjour and the married Françoise Paon.

H. Girroir, Ptre

B. 140

Alexandre Albert Hureau

On the twenty-sixth of November, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five, we, the undersigned, baptized Alexandre Albert, born the day before, of the legitimate marriage of Jean Hureau and Amilie Briand of this parish. The godfather was Alfred Briand and marraine Adelaide Hureau.

H. Girroir, Ptre

B. 142

Sara Jeanne Girror

On the twenty sixth of November, one thousand eight hundred and fifty five, we, the undersigned, baptized Sara Jeanne born before the eve of the legitimate marriage of Abraham Girroir and Susanne Forrest of this parish. The godfather was Alex. Forrest and the godmother Sabina Angélique Forrest.

H. Girroir, Ptre

++ see B. 145.

B. 143

Henriette Elizabeth Landry

On the twenty-eighth day of November, one thousand eight in fifty-five, we, the undersigned, baptized Henriette Elizabeth, the legitimate daughter of Abraham Landry and Julie Boudrault. The godfather was ??? oi Landry, the married Mare Leblanc.

H. McDonald, Ptre

The nine eighth November one thousand eight hundred and fifty five we prerequisite undersigned, baptized ubn child James born the villain of legitimate marriage of Michael ?????? And Mary Doyle.

B. 144

William Thomas Forgeron

The he ?? November one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five, under the undersigned, baptized William Thomas born before the eve of the legitimate marriage of Elisee Fourgon and Victoire Landry. The godfather was Guillaume Henry Adelle Leblanc.

H. McDonald Ptre

B. 145

Philomène Hureau

On the twenty-sixth of November, eight hundred and fifty cents, we, the undersigned, baptized Philomene, born the day before, of the legitimate marriage of Aime Hureau and Mathilde Boudrault. The árrain was Policarpe Boudrault and the godmother Victoire Hureau.

H. Girroir, Ptre


The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.

Originally posted 2017-05-06 13:19:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Police can request your DNA from sites like Ancestry, 23andMe.


Millions of people have handed their DNA over to genetic testing companies like Ancestry or 23andMe to learn more about their family history.

Eric Yarham wanted to learn about his heritage, so he mailed off his saliva to 23andMe.

“I’m just trying to unravel the mystery that is your genetics,” said Yarham.


Yarham was surprised to find a tiny portion of his DNA profile can be traced back to sub-Saharan Africa. He was also unaware that his genetic information could end up in the hands of police.

“The police make mistakes and I would rather not be on the unfortunate end of one of those mistakes, as a result of my DNA being somewhere that is unlucky,” Yarham said.

Both 23andMe and Ancestry confirm your DNA profile could be disclosed to law enforcement if they have a warrant.

23andMe Privacy Officer Kate Black said, “We try to make information available on the website in various forms, so through Frequently Asked Questions, through information in our privacy center.”

According to the company’s self-reported data, law enforcement has requested information for five American 23andMe customers since it began offering home test kits more than a decade ago.

23andMe’s website states, “In each of these cases, 23andMe successfully resisted the request and protected our customers’ data from release to law enforcement.”

Black said she wouldn’t entirely rule it out in the future. “We would always review a request and take it on a case-by-case basis,” Black said.

Read on . . .


Source: Police can request your DNA from sites like Ancestry, 23andMe

Originally posted 2018-01-12 11:48:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Editorial: Better grasp of history can aid dicussion on race

By The Herald Editorial Board

We’re betting that more than a few of our readers might be a little hazy on the significance of Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19 and marking a significant step in the end of slavery in the United States.
On more than a few points of American history, many Americans, including your author, are in need of a refresher course or two from time to time.
The Juneteenth date doesn’t represent the day that President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation took effect; that’s Jan. 1, 1863; or when the 13th Amendment was adopted and officially ended slavery nationwide on Dec. 18, 1865.
The day it celebrates is specific to Texas; June 19, 1865, marks the arrival of U.S. Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger and his troops in that state with orders to free those still enslaved there. As Afi-Odelia Scruggs, an independent journalist writing recently for The Washington Post explains, following the end of the Civil War, as Union troops retook territory across the South, they emancipated those still held as slaves in the former Confederate states. In fact, the last slaves to be freed in the U.S. were held in Northern states, such as Kentucky and Delaware, and weren’t freed until the 13th Amendment’s adoption.

Scruggs further explains that Juneteenth celebrations haven’t been consistently celebrated over the last 155 years, largely driven underground during the Jim Crow era when segregation made observation of the unofficial holiday difficult, if not dangerous, to observe.

Source: Editorial: Better grasp of history can aid dicussion on race

Who is a historian

Major General GD Bakshi at an event in New Delhi (Express File Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

By Navneet Sharma

“If history and science has taught us anything, it is that passion and desire are not the same as truth.” — E O Wilson

Those who don the historian’s hat are expected to unearth, collect and present facts which make a coherent and cogent narrative. A historian also must have historical sensibility and historical mind. Though history is known as story of the past, yet it is not a story, but a re-construction of the past based on evidences and sources.

Before going into the appreciation of historical sensibility and historical mind of G D Bakshi and the invitation extended to him as historian by the vice chancellor of the university, one should acknowledge that the students and faculty of Centre for Historical Studies, JNU have issued press releases distancing themselves from the organisation of this event.

Source: Who is a historian

What Juneteenth means to my Black Jewish family

I have always been interested in genealogy, but having children made me more invested than ever in unearthing my family’s stories. I wanted to show my children what “biracial” really meant, piecing together their father’s Scottish and Russian Jewish ancestry with my Black Arkansas and San Francisco roots.

At the same time, I felt the need to bolster what “Black” really meant. My husband could point to the specific villages his forebears left behind. How far back could I trace my own, formerly enslaved, ancestors?

Once I tried to trace my mother’s family back to specific plantations. For those who don’t know, the best way to do this is to compare census records with the family wills of slave owners because they often mentioned slave names in their wills. A lover of research, I happily immersed myself in a scanned antebellum document, deciphering the copper-plate handwriting.

Source: What Juneteenth means to my Black Jewish family

Richard 3rd’s facial reconstruction illustrates show family traits can span generations.

A while ago, I watched with great interest the progress of the effort to positively identify the remains found in a Leicester parking lot as those of Richard III, as described in a past post.
News was later released that a Richard 3rd’s facial reconstruction was done from his skull and a photo was published on News Leicester next to that of his 17th generation nephew, Michael Ibsen.

Marsh Blythe: Richard 3rd's facial reconstruction illustrates show family traits can span generations.

Portrait of Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky.

I hope it’s not just me, but I can see a familial resemblance and wonder if the likeness of Michael Ibsen had any bearing on the artist’s rendering, or if it was indeed solely based on the skull. If it is only based on Richard III’s skull, the resemblance is quite striking.

In an earlier post, I posted images of, and described the remarkable resemblance between my father-in-law (see right) and Isaac Shelby, nephew of my father-in-law’s seventh great grandfather (see above left), Governor of Kentucky and hero of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

I only wish I could one day compare these images with images of the original Shelby family immigrant, Evan (Dhu) Isaac Shelby (direct ancestor to both).

In another instance I had conducted research into a family friend’s background with the story surrounding the mysterious ‘aunt’ of another ancestor in mind. This aunt had always intrigued the family as they never knew much about her.

My research led me to the story of a young, single girl working as a domestic in the home of a wealthy business man, and soon becoming pregnant and bearing an illegitimate child. This girl turned out to be the mysterious aunt, only the ancestor, although believing she was an aunt, never learned she was actually her mother.

I wondered if this ‘aunt’ had become pregnant by her employer as there were no other males of an age to be candidates in the household. I managed to locate photos of a second generation descendant and his son who still owned and operated the family business. Upon comparison, I could see a definite likeness, although not quite as marked as in the two examples above. This likeness strengthened my belief that my conjecture was correct.

Without documentary proof of any kind and with no possibility of DNA testing, this is the best I can do.

It’s truly amazing to me how similar and consistent family traits can remain over the generations.

Hilarious history: From Napoléon’s petit package to Pythagoras’ fear of farts | Ancient Origins

History is often presented in grey, rather dry terms, but when you do a bit of digging, our past is full of remarkable people who had wicked senses of humor and died with as much vigor as they lived.

In this article we will look at some of the most prominent people and funny events in history, where you just have to laugh.

Plea For A Pilgrim’s Pint

The Pilgrims were the first English settlers of the Plymouth Colony in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States. It has been said that the first thing said to the Pilgrims by the Native American Samoset, was specifically: “Do you have any beer?” in perfect English.

European trade routes to North America had already existed for several generations and cod fishermen and trade diplomats had traveled extensively to the Americas from Europe.

Historical records back up the fact that Samoset was the first Native American to greet the pilgrims and the possibility that he requested a cold beer is actually supported by most specialists.

Read on . . .

Source: Monumentally Funny Events in History: From Napoléon’s Petit Package to Pythagoras’ Fear of Farts | Ancient Origins

Transcription: Biography of Henry O’Reilly from ‘Rochester History’

Rochester History, Henry O'Reilly
Rochester History, Henry O’Reilly

The following is a transcription of the biography of Henry O’Reilly from the book, “Rochester History,” edited by Dexter Perkins, City Historian, and Blake McKelvey, Assistant City Historian.


Edited by DEXTER PERKINS, City Historian and BLAKE MCKELVEY, Assistant City Historian

VoL. VII JANUARY, 1945 No. 1

Henry O’Reilly


Henry O’Reilly (or O’Rielly, as he insisted on calling himself in later life) was, no doubt, not one of the greatest figures connected with the city of Rochester. He was not born here; he did not spend the major part of his life here; and when he died in 1884, he had long since outlived the period of his major usefulness. He never attained distinction of the first order; he was volatile, improvident and —— so his enemies said — quarrelsome; he was a great man for starting something, and a poor man for finishing anything — with the large exception of his Sketches of Rochester, published in 1838. But none the less he is an extremely interesting person. He had warmth and brilliance; he identified himself with a whole variety of good causes, and contributed materially to all of them; he had a kind of itch to improve the little world in which he moved; and he succeeded in doing so in many ways. He was also the storm center in one of the most interesting technological and business controversies in the period before the Civil War, the controversy over the telegraph; and though he lacked the constructive genius that characterized Hiram Sibley, another Rochesterian of far more practical capacity, he was for a time the idol of those Americans who saw in the telegraph a menacing monopoly and played a part, stormy and dramatic, in the development of a great industry. When you begin to study O’Reilly, you may not unqualifiedly admire him, but you are sure to find him worth knowing; and because he is well worth historical acquaintance, I am going to sketch in this number of Rochester History the essentials of his career.


Rochester History, published quarterly by the Rochester Public Library, distributed free at the Library, by mail 25 cents per year. Address correspondence to the City Historian, Rochester Public Library, 115 South Avenue, Rochester 4, N.Y.


The Young Immigrant

O’Reilly was born in Cartickmacross, County Monaghan, Ireland, on February 6, 1806. Like many another Irishman, in later years Henry was prone to discuss his ancestry in terms that suggested a distinguished lineage. He seems to have dwelt with some pleasure upon a certain great grand-uncle who was Bishop of the Diocese, and he was also proud to relate that his maternal grandfather, Henry Ledbetter, had once been offered a peerage, and was the confidential physician of the Bresfords, a family then powerful in Ireland. But Henry’s immediate origins were less impressive. Of his father, very little is known; he seems to have been a merchant; he failed in business in the depression following the Napoleonic wars; and he was, through the rigor of a brother-in-law, confined in a debtor’s prison in 1816. Though later he followed the rest of the O’Reilly family, that is, his wife, and son and daughter, to America, he seems to have played no important part in Henry’s life, and even the date and place of his death are uncertain.

Henry came to the United States at the tender age of ten, with his mother and sister, and landed, as millions of immigrants have landed since, in the City of New York. There he was received by his “good uncle,” Edward Ledbetter, but his uncle’s benevolence did not extend so far as to provide support for his youthful relative, and still at the age of ten, O’Reilly was apprenticed to Baptiste Irvine, editor of the New York Columbian. The articles of apprenticeship were for a term of eight years, and for the greater part of the period O’Rei1ly was to serve without pay. He was to be given sufficient meat, drink and clothing; and he was to be instructed in the mysteries of the art of printing, in reading, writing and arithmetic, and in the rudiments of the “latin and french languages.” In exchange for these manifest advantages O’Reilly agreed “not to waste his master’s goods, not to commit fornication or contract matrimony, not to play at cards, dice or any unlawful game, not to absent himself day or night frorn his master’s service without leave, and not to haunt alehouses, taverns, or playhouses.”

There was to be plenty of variety in Henry O’Reilly’s career as time went on, but the termination of his first apprenticeship was no fault of his, and it is probable that a similar statement may be made


with regard to his other frequent changes of employment in these early years. The papers of the time were frequently ill-supported; Irvine gave up the editorship of the Columbian less than a year after the signing of Henry’s articles of apprenticeship. The boy seems to have Worked for some time thereafter in the printing office of Clayton and Kingsland; but in 1823 he was offered a place on the New York Patriot, and there he first began to take part in politics, becoming, as was natural in the circumstances, an ardent partisan of the candidacy of Andrew Jackson for the Presidency of the United States. In 1824, indeed, in company with his employer, Colonel Charles K. Gardner, Henry paid a visit to Washington, and was presented to Old Hickory. Before the year was out, we find him moving to Kinderhook, New York, to become the printer of the local paper, the Herald, and we cannot help believing that he had by now formed a connection with Martin Van Buren, and that he was fairly launched in a reasonably active political career.

But Kinderhook was only a way station to Rochester. While serving on the Patriot, O’Reilly had had as a fellow-compositor one Luther Tucker. Tucker had a friend who wished to establish at Rochester a daily newspaper, and he was offered the business management of the paper, and asked to select a competent editor. Thus, in 1826, at the age of twenty, the young Henry moved once more, and on October 21, 1826, he issued the first number of the Rochester Daily Advertiser, which, with changes of name, and, indeed, changes of policy, has none the less endured down to our own day.

The Editor and Politician.

The young editor had walked into the center of a major political storm. These were the days of the anti-Masonic agitation. In September of 1826, William Morgan, who had written and promoted a book which purported to reveal the secrets of Masonry, had been abducted from the jail at Canandaigua, and had disappeared. Now in Western New York at this same period, the foes of the Jackson patty were looking for a political issue, and particularly for an issue that would wean away from the dominant political faction some of the more democratic elements in the population. They found what they wanted in the disappearance of Morgan. Here was an opportunity to raise a


terrific hue and cry over the secret society of Masonry and its aristocratic implications. The opportunity became still more profitable when a body was washed ashore from Lake Ontario, which, it was speedily rumored, and afterwards alleged in a coroner’s inquest, was the body of Morgan himself. Political excitement, therefore, mounted higher and higher, and in due course gave rise to a new political party which described itself as the Anti-Masonic party.

Into this interesting political scene Henry O’Reilly was precipitated in the fall of 1826. He began his editorship of the Advertiser, as a wise editor would do, by professing the highest impartiality with regard to politics. But O’Reilly, as a detached and neutral observer of the political scene, or indeed of anything else, is an O’Reilly that never existed. He already had his political predilections; his Irish blood yearned for a fight; and before long he was involved in the controversy over anti-Masonry, arid was locked in conflict with one of the most formidable figures in the history of political journalism.

In 1826 Thutlow Weed was editor of the Ror/Jerter Telegraph, a man thirty-four years of age, who might well resent the appearance of a stripling of twenty as his competitor in the thriving frontier community. Weed was not the originator, but soon became one of the participants, in the anti-Masonic agitation, and one of the leaders in the attempt to capitalize the disappearance and the death of Morgan in the formation of the new party. It is not likely, having regard to the newspaper methods of the time, and to the extraordinary violence of journalistic controversy, that O’Rei1ly would long have escaped the shafts of his rival. But the hot-headed Irishman apparently offered the first provocation for the outburst of hostilities. From the first he had been suspicious of the inquest that had attended the finding of the alleged corpse of Morgan on the shores of Lake Ontario, and had not hesitated to express his suspicions that there was something very peculiar about the whole business. Soon a most interesting story came to his ears. In the arguments that took place in the frontier community the question of the identity of the body of Morgan naturally rook a prominent place. In one of these arguments, so the story began to circulate, Thurlow Weed was reported to have said, in informal conversation, that at any rate the corpse was a “good-enough Morgan till after election.” Later on, when confronted with this charge, Weed denied it categorically, and declared that what he had said was that it


was a good enough Morgan till another body was found, a comment which, it must be admitted, was hardly less cynical than that of which he was accused. But when O’Reilly published the first of these two versions of his rival’s words, he found himself the object of the most bitter attacks on the part of Weed. He was pilloried as a liar; he was described in the pages of the Telegraph as a “Mason-jade” a peculiarly offensive epithet in the current political controversy, and all the more so in the case of O’Reilly, since O’Reilly was not a Mason; and he was in due course, fixed with a libel suit whida hung over his head for thirteen years, and was naturally a source of considerable embarrassment. In such circumstances, to put it bluntly, O’Reilly found that he could not take it, and in ]uly, 1827, he temporarily withdrew from the scene, alleging feeble health in part as an excuse. After a visit to Niagara Falls, he went back to New York City, and there again took up printing at the Methodist Printing Office which had been one of the scenes of his employment some years before.

But the itch for politics was strong in O’Reilly, and a most exciting and possibly a most rewarding Presidential campaign was approaching. The Old Hero, the veteran of New Orleans, the idol of the people, Andrew ]ackson, was running for the Presidency. The campaign was a delirious one; indeed, never before had so large a part of the electorate gone to the polls. How could a good party man be content to print Methodist tracts instead of ringing Jacksonian speeches? There could be but one answer to this question, so O‘Reilly, at the solicitation of Mr. Tucker, his original employer, went back to Rochester, and took part as editor of the Advertiser once more in the campaign which was to elevate Old Hickory to the Presidency of the United States. And now O’Reilly appears for the first time, but not the last, if not in the guise of an officeseeker, at least in the guise of one much interested in the offices. In 1828 Abelard Reynolds was Postmaster of Rochester, a position which he had held since the very beginnings of Rochester’s civic history. Reynolds, of course, was a supporter of the conservative cause, and of John Quincy Adams in the campaign of 1828. It was obvious, at any rate to the Jacksonians, that a new appointment was in order. So the editor of the Advertiser journeyed to Washington, and secured the appointment of a good Jackson man, ]ohn B. Elwood, in place of Reynolds. He also brought back from his visit to the capital another political plum, the collectorship


of the Genesee Revenue District, which was awarded to General Jacob Gould.

One might have thought that by this time O’Reil1y would have been in a fair way to settle down. But in 1850 he married, and his bride, Marcia Brooks, was the daughter of a land~holder of the upper Genesee country, in the neighborhood of Nunda. Thither the editor of the Advertiser removed in May of 1830, hoping no doubt to profit from his father-in-law’s plans to establish a village in that neighborhood, and thoughtfully providing himself with the job of postmaster in the new locality, a matter which was not difficult in view of his services to the administration in power. O’Reilly‘s removal to Brooks Grove, as the place was called, hardly does credit to his business sagacity. It is true that in 1830, when for the second time he left Rochester, the town was experiencing its first recession, following the boom created by the building of the Erie Canal. But there was no good reason to believe that the Genesee mill town and canal port had exhausted its potentialities; indeed those with greater confidence were soon justified as growth was resumed and the village became a city in 1854. Nor was there anything about the job of postmastership at Brooks’ Grove that could be described as challenging to a young man now 24, who had substantial capacities, and a growing circle of friends. So once again O’Reilly’s exile was a brief one, and the campaign of 1832 saw the young Irishman, now a citizen, back once more in the editorship of the Advertiser, and warmly engaged in re-electing Andrew Jackson to the Presidency of the United States. For his services in this regard he received the post of Deputy-Collector for the Genesee District, and this together with his journalistic activities, provided him with a reasonable pecuniary reward. He was now to settle down for a while — in so far as it was in his nature to settle down, and in the course of the next ten years he played an important part in the life of the young community. In some ways he was at his best during these next ten years, active, public-spirited, the friend of many liberal causes, and the author of one of the best books of its kind, a book that is invaluable to any student of Rochester history.


The Rochester Civic Reformer

Amongst the objects of O’Reilly’s activity during his ten years’ continuous residence in Rochester none was more important than the enlargement of the Erie Canal. The canal had been finished in 1825, and had, of course, been the major factor in the astoundingly rapid growth of the city on the Genesee. Constructed at a cost of around $10,000,000, it had been amazingly profitable, and it had been possible for the state to retire a loan of seven and three quarter million dollars from the revenues of the first ten years. The chief drawbacks were its size, particularly its depth of only four feet, and the flimsy character of the locks and other features of its construction. It was natural that there should arise a demand for its reconstruction and enlargement, and this movement was closely connected with a movement for the reduction of the tolls. But the question soon became a controversial one; there was much opposition in the legislature to a new borrowing program; and it took a long and vigorous agitation before the enlargement of the canal could be carried into effect.

Into this agitation O’Reilly threw himself with characteristic ardor. He was, of course, by no means alone in his advocacy of enlargement Indeed, the opinion of leading Rochester citizens of both political parties coincided as to the necessity of such a policy. But his name appears again and again amongst the men who took the deepest interest in the project, and his views, it would appear, had a greater and greater influence as time went on. The canal commissioners first recommended the enlargement of the canal in their report of the spring of 1855. The legislature, very much under the influence of those short-sighted individuals who thought borrowing to be inherently immoral, enacted in May a law providing that the surplus tolls from the Canal might be devoted to the deepening of the waterway, or to the construction of further locks, if needed. In the fall of 1835 a committee of Rochester citizens, of which O’ReilIy was a member, passed resolutions expressing pleasure at this initial step and the profound conviction of the importance of a forward looking policy with regard to the canal in general. But the method of providing for enlargement through surplus revenues was soon seen to be inadequate. The sum that was found to be necessary to carry through the program


determined upon by the canal commissioners was found to be at least equal to the original expense of constructing the canal. To expect that such a sum could be found through tolls would mean that the much-desired improvement would be long-delayed. Confronted with this fact, friends of the canal urged a borrowing program to effect the necessary construction.

It may well be that O’Reilly was one of the first to formulate such a policy and to join with others in bringing it to fruition. (He was never afraid to borrow, either personally or otherwise.) At any rate, on the 30th of December, 1836, he was one of three citizens of Rochester who addressed a public meeting assembled at the courthouse, to consider the canal question, and out of this meeting came resolutions urging new loans based upon the canal revenues, and a call for a convention of the people of western New York to press for similar action. This convention met in Rochester on Ianuary 18, 1837, and attracted immense attention. It appointed a central executive committee, of which O’Reilly was chairman, for placing the matter before the public. This committee engaged in a successful agitation which had its final fruits in the law of April 18, 1838, authorizing a loan of four million dollars, (not as much as had been desired), for the improvement and enlargement of the canal.

O’Reilly’s success in bringing about the end which he had in view was due in part to a very energetic and skillful agitation. But it was due in part, also, to the particular circumstances of the time. The Jackson administration had hardly gone out of office when there followed one of the most disastrous depressions in the early history of the country, and one which was extremely severely felt in western New York. Of course in general the idea of borrowing to create employment was hardly the economic gospel of the 1830’s. But curiously enough in New York state there was considerable sentiment for just such a course, as was to be strikingly exemplified when William H. Seward was elected Governor in the fall of 1838. The passage of the canal law, it seems hardly doubtful, was in part assisted by the fact that here was a means ready to hand to deal with the critical problem of the depression.

Was O’Reilly’s agitation for the enlargement of the canal wise and far-seeing? In the very year in which the legislature voted for


the enlargement of the canal, the first steam railway entered Rochester. Was it therefore something less than far-sighted to agitate for the development of canal navigation, at a time when a new agency of transportation was coming into being? Superficially, it might seem as if this question would have to be answered in the affirmative. But if one looks a little more deeply into the facts, one discovers that the Erie Canal remained for a long time after 1838 the principal means of transportation through the state of New York, and that the high point of its usefulness (the maximum development of its traffic) was not reached until the middle of the decade of the fifties. Looking at the matter, then, from this point of view, it seems clear that Henry O’Reilly was not only faithfully representing the necessities of his community in the agitation with which he had so much to do, but was promoting a development which was eminently desirable from the viewpoint of his time and of the decades immediately to come.

There was a second movement, fully as important as that which had to do with the canals, in which O’Reilly’s name appears again and again. This was the movement for the improvement of the schools of Rochester.

The decade of the thirties is remarkable not only in New York but throughout the Northern states for the developing interest in education. The great wave of liberalism which characterized the period expressed itself nowhere more vigorously than in the field of the schools. There was much to be done to improve them, for in most of the country only the most rudimentary educational conditions existed. This was true of Rochester when O’Reilly took up his residence in the community on the Genesee.

The Rochester schools had begun on the district system, that is, they bore no relation whatsoever to the community as a whole. One district might be well run, according to the standards of the time; another might be little short of infamous. One district might pay its teachers fairly well; another might grant little more than sweatshop wages. True, when the city was incorporated in 1854, the Common Council was given the power to act in the capacity of Commissioner of Schools, and was given a broad kind of supervisory authority. But these powers were almost never exercised, and the districts struggled along without any substantial support from the municipality. As late


as 1839 three districts within the city lacked school-houses, one of them renting a room in an old cooper’s shop. Each separate school was kept only as long as the funds of the district permitted, some of them for only three or four months a year.

Into the movement for the improvement of the public schools, O’Reilly flung himself with characteristic energy. In 1836 a public meeting in Rochester provided for the appointment of a citizens‘ committee called “The Committee for Elevating the  Standards of Common School Education.” It provided for the circulation of a sheet called “The Common School Assistant,” and engaged young A. C. Pratt as a kind of propagandist to go through the county calling attention to the educational needs of the communities. lt continued its work during 1837 and 1838, and in November of the latter year recommended an “entirely free common school system, supported by a general tax on real and personal property.” A little later, on December 1, 1858, a resolution was adopted looking to the organization of a Board of Education which would appoint a superintendent of public schools, and which would have “districts so arranged and schools so regulated as to allow of gradation in public English education.” A committee of fifteen was appointed to urge the adoption of this policy upon the Common Council and the legislature.

It took time, however, to reach the desired goal. Today it is difficult for us to realize that the expenditure of funds for educational purposes was often opposed a century ago as an unnecessary coddling of the masses. There were Americans in that day who wished to keep the less fortunate in their place, and could see no point in making it possible for them to rise in the social and economic scale. The improvement of our schools, like most important steps in social progress, did not come about with the unanimous adhesion of all citizens, but had to be struggled for, as most good things do have to be struggled for.

But Henry O’Reilly had no doubt as to what needed to be done. At every stage he supported in the pages of the Advertiser the contemporary agitation. And in the spring of 1841 he drew up a memorial on the school question which received wide circulation throughout the state and which was one of the factors in securing the passage of a bill amending the city charter and providing for reforms of the first


order of importance. The law of 1841 provided for the election of a board of education, composed of two members from each ward, which should have power to appoint a superintendent of schools, and which was charged with the financial authority necessary to the building up of the school system. The system to be established was to be public and free. Sixteen years before the state of New York entirely abolished the rate bill system, and early enough to become the fourth city of the state to do this, Rochester in 1841 set up an educational machinery which was hailed at the time, and with reason, as a great advance. The citizens of Rochester showed their appreciation of the role that O‘Reilly had played in the battle for the school law by electing him to the Board of Education constituted under it. There is no room for doubting his notable public service in this regard.

O’Reilly’s interest in the improvement of the educational standards and opportunities of Rochester was shown in another way when he was prominent in the organization, in 1838, of what was known as the Young Men’s Association, and of which he became president. The special circumstance which promoted the growth of this important agency in the early life of Rochester was, interestingly enough, the commission of the first murder which had ever taken place in the city in 1837. This untoward event, says O’Reilly, directed public attention to the necessity of establishing institutions for “presenting intellectual and moral attractions to counteract the vicious allurements to which (as legal examinations proved) the young men of this city were largely exposed.” It was resolved that what was particularly needed was a library and educational program, and the establishment of a center which should serve as an alternative, as O’Reilly highmindedly put it, to “eating-houses, with each a newspaper and a bar—bowling alleys, with their temptations to drinking and their temptations to belting – gaming tables with their enthralling allurements and their degrading companionships—and enticement to every vicious indulgence—diligently provided by those who excite appetite and feed passion for the sake of emolument.” Accordingly, funds were found to rent the second floor of a building on State Street, and there to provide the first public reading room and city library in the history of Rochester. There were small membership dues, and books could be taken out only by accredited borrowers – but the library itself was open to all, and the provision for taking out boolm was the first that had been made. By


the close of 1838 the library counted more than 2000 volumes, and the membership included 139 full subscribers, and 97 others holding reading room privileges. Once started on this hopeful project, O’Reilly’s soaring imagination carried him further. He attempted to raise funds for a city library to be erected by the Association, and took an option on two lots at the corner of State and Mumford Streets with this end in view. An attempt was made to sell stock for the promotion of this project
at $50 a share, but this project failed, like so many others in which O’Reilly was financially concerned, and the energetic editor of the A41/miter had to pay $400 out of his own pocket as a result of his premature action. On the other hand, O’Reilly was more successful in securing the amalgamation of the Young Men’s Association with the Athenaeum, an earlier venture in the field of literary and educational activity. The union of the two still further enlarged the library resources of the Association, and by the close of 1840 there were over 2500 volumes available to members, and membership had risen to 409.

It would be pleasant to believe that the impetus thus given to the love of learning was permanent in its effects. Unfortunately, the facts are otherwise. After O‘Reilly’s removal from the city the activities of the Association declined. But the work that was done in this early period was not in vain. It served, no doubt, as an inspiration to the efforts of the late forties, when an attempt was made to pump new energy into the educational current of Rochester. And, wholly apart from its practical results, it is highly characteristic of O’Reilly himself. His generous impulses, his democratic instincts, and his intellectual energy all contributed to make him feel keenly the necessity of an educational advance. In taking the position that he did, he was acting in the most elevated spirit of his own time.

The Local Historian

The year 1838, which saw the establishment of the Young Men’s Association, was also the year in which O’Reilly published his Sketcbes of Rochester, the first important descriptive work published in and with regard to the city on the Genesee. The occasion for this work the author describes in his preface. In 1856, in response to a request from the city corporation, O’Reilly had published some statis-


tical data on the community in which he lived in pamphlet form. The success of this venture emboldened him to go further. He was encouraged by Everard Peck and Thomas Kempshall to carry his project through, and these two men assisted him in securing a publisher. In the winter of 1858 the committee which had the work in charge travelled by the only conveyance then possible, the stage-coach, all the way to New York, taking five days to do so, “with good sleighing,”to put in the hands of Harper Brothers the manuscript of this important work. When it was published it sold at the price of $1.50, or $1.25 when ten copies were taken by a single subscriber. The first edition was quickly sold; but-—quite characteristically, O’Reilly realized little financial profit from his venture. He had made the work more elaborate and more costly than had been originally proposed.

It would he extravagant to contend that the Sketches of Rochester was a great piece of literature. But it is fair to say that very few communities have enjoyed, in the early stages of their development, the services of a more conscientious or thorough chronicler. It is impossible to write the history of our city Without frequent reference to O’Reilly. His work is invaluable as a contribution to local history. It is a mine of information on the economic and social development of a frontier community. And, in the life of a busy editor, and active citizen, it represents no inconsiderable achievement.

The year 1838, which connects with so many of O’Reilly’s activities, must now be connected with one more. The editor of the Advertiser, as we have seen, had always been interested in politics. He had acquired a small political oflice in 1832. He had run for the state Assembly-—unsuccessfully—in 1837. In 1838 the postmaster of Rochester resigned. The friends of the man who must by now have been one of Rochester’s most prominent Democrats, perhaps the most prominent Democrat, rallied to present him for the vacant office. O’Reilly himself was absent in New York at the time, and does not seem to have bestirred himself particularly. But on May 24, 1838, his Presidential commission came through, and from that time forward until his removal from Rochester, he performed the duties of this important office. It is difficult to arrive at any clear evaluation of his service in this regard. He is said to have done great work in reducing the number of robberies in the mails. He certainly became well known to many influential Democrats, and established connections which were useful


to him in the future. But it may be also that in accepting the position of postmaster, he gave unnecessary hostages to fortune; the work may well have been distracting; and it exposed him, of course, to prompt political reprisal when the Whigs came into office in the elections of 1840. These were the days of the very perfection of the spoils system. There could be only one answer to the question of what to do with postmasters who had the bad judgment to belong to the opposite political party, and that was to get rid of them. O’Reilly, in common with others of his political creed, was soon made to walk the plank; and it seems probable that his dismissal from the post-mastership had something to do with his removal from Rochester at the end of 1842, or in the very beginning of 1843.

But the editor and author of the frontier was so constituted, at any rate while in his thirties, that he could not be long without a cause; he must always he promoting something; and the cause that now caught his eye, and that offered also an opportunity to earn a living, was the cause of constitutional reform. The constitution of New York state had undergone revision in 1821; but in many respects it was still archaic in 1842. Unlike the constitution that preceded it, it had provided for a procedure by which it might be amended; but somehow or other this procedure, with a single exception, had failed signally to function in practise. There were a number of respects in which, from the view-point of the liberal forces of the time, changes  were indicated by the beginning of the forties. It was thought, for example, that the judiciary should be made elective, rather than appointive; it was thought that the terms of members of the legislature ought to be shortened; and still more, the disturbances which had broken out in the Hudson Valley, where a semi-feudal system of landholding still persisted, seemed to call for a drastic alteration of the
existing law.

The Albany Years

The revamping of the constitution was just the kind of a cause that Henry O’Reilly enjoyed serving; and it must have been in his mind when he left Rochester in 1842, for he then accepted the editorship of the Albany Atlas, a journal which advocated constitutional reform. But journalism was not enough. In 1843 O’Reilly started the


organization of what was called the State Constitutional Association. He became a member of its Executive Committee; he persuaded one of the most powerful Democratic politicians in the state, Michael Hoffman, to accept the post of leader; and he initiated an agitation for the calling of a constitutional convention. This agitation bore fruit in the legislative action of 1845, in an overwhelming popular vote in favor of a convention, and in the constitutional convention of 1846. The reforms which have been mentioned above were adopted, and O’Reilly had the satisfaction of seeing the work of the convention accepted by the people at the polls. But before this day had come the ebullient Irishman had made another dtange of base. When he had transferred his activities from Rochester to Albany, he seems to have indulged the hope that, since the Democrats were in power, he might secure the state printing. By this time he was thoroughly familiar with the mixing of business and politics, and had, indeed, almost continually held some office such as was dealt out in the thirties to deserving members of the party. But something slipped; the Democrats, badly divided into factions, could not unite on the Irishman as their candidate for printer; O’Reilly belonged quite clearly to the radical wing; and it is probable that in this as at other times he took very little pains to moderate his opinions or to express them other than with vehemence. The warring groups in the legislature united upon a compromise candidate; and O’Reilly, after only a brief period with the Atlas, transferred his energies to the New York State Agricultural Society, and became its Recording Secretary. But here again the pickings apparently were insulficient and after a short time in this post O’Reilly, like many another American, turned from the slim rewards of daily labor to the glowing opportunities of successful promotion.

His Telegraph Ventures

The middle forties mark a very decided change in the personality of this interesting man. The impulse for reform, the zeal for causes, the political ardor, never completely deserted him; indeed he was usually able to rationalize his conduct in terms of some great popular  good. But after 1844 O‘Reilly became interested in making money in a big way. He had certainly been conspicuously unsuccessful up to


this time; he had left Rochester in debt; he had not demonstrated any extraordinary business capacity at any time; but perhaps these very facts tempted him to some kind of scheme for easy and rapid accumulation; his temperament made it easy for him to see immense possibilities for the future in a new invention; and the year 1844 was the year of the first American telegraph. As is well known, on the 24th of May of that year, Samuel F. B. Morse, having persuaded Congress to appropriate the funds for an experimental line from Washington to Baltimore, had sent the famous message, “What hath God wrought ?” over the wire. A new era of communication was thus ushered in.

There were those, in 1844, of course, who did not think so. Morse offered his invention to the federal government for the modest sum of $100,000; and it is interesting to reflect upon the acumen of the Postmaster-General of that day, who reported that he was uncertain that the revenues from the telegraph could be made equal to the expenditures. Disappointed by this rebuff, Morse turned to private capital, and early in the story of the development of his invention, Henry O’Reilly appears upon the scene.

How came it that he was projected into this new field of endeavor? The answer lies in his friendship with Amos Kendall, who had been Postmaster-General of the United States under ]ackson and Van Buren. Kendall had been selected by the Morse patentees, (there were four of these), to represent them as their business agent. In June of 1846, he signed a contract with O’Reilly, calling for the “construction of a line of Morse’s Electro-Magnetic Telegraph to connect the great seaboard line at Philadelphia, or at such other convenient point on said line as may approach nearer Harrisburg, in Pennsylvania, and from thence through Harrisburg and other intermediate towns to Pittsburg, and thence through Wheeling and Cincinnati, and such other towns and cities as the said O’Reilly and his associates may elect, to St. Louis and to the principal towns on the lakes.” Here, so it seemed to the former Rochester editor, was a princely grant indeed, little less than the concession of a great telegraphic empire in the most rapidly growing part of the country, the booming middle West.

Whoever reads carefully the contract that I have just quoted can readily appreciate what troubles lay in its vague and wholly unlawyerlike phraseology. Amos Kendall, it is clear, believed that he was giv-


ing to O’Reilly merely a right of construction in a telegraph system which should remain under a single and undivided ownership and control. He believed, furthermore, that he was conferring on the other party to the contract nothing more than a commission to construct telegraph lines, not the right to manage them, or to become a kind of telegraph baron with a dominating interest in any of them. But O’Reilly had a wholly different view of the matter. What he did was to start the organization of a whole series of companies, independent of one another, and extending over — and finally beyond — the great area in which the contract gave him the right to operate. Nor was he without the desire to play a part in the management of the lines. He hoped to use his position to secure wide stock interests. Those interests would carry with them, of course, a very substantial measure of control over the companies which he was successful in organizing.

The difference of opinion that soon developed between O’Reilly and the Morse patentees goes to the heart of some very interesting problems of business organization, as those problems presented themselves in the decades of the forties and fifties. It is tolerably clear to us today that the telegraph is a natural monopoly, and that the consolidation of the telegraph lines of the country has been, on the whole, a highly desirable consummation. But a hundred years ago, the feat of monopoly was keen. The nation had not long before expressed a decisive opinion on the question of the concentration of financial power in the Bank of the United States. It had emphatically supported Old Hickory in his war on that institution. Now there loomed the possibility of another monopoly, monopoly of a new and potentially significant means of communication. What could be more dangerous? In taking a contrary view of the problem, in organizing many local companies, and eventually in his fight with the Morse patentees, O’Reilly appeared in the characteristic role of the champion of the people and the foe of special interests. He was probably never more widely known, and never more popular, than in the late forties and early fifties; and there is little doubt that he gloried in this popularity, and pictured himself, (while engaged in the most fat-teaching plans for personal gain), as the hero of a great fight for the common man.

There is another aspect of this question that ought to interest us. O’Reilly, in his energetic organization of telegraph companies all over


the country, undoubtedly performed a yeoman service in awakening the interest of local capital in what has become one of the great industries of the country. Where, indeed, in the late forties, was the capital to be found, except in the communities to be served? The country had not yet developed to the point where vast stock issues could have been floated in New York. The only practicable method of approach to the problem of securing funds was to go out and get them in the areas which were to be opened up. O’Reilly did just this. His methods were the methods of his time. That they aroused a tremendous interest in the new means of communication, and that, despite the final collapse of his hopes and of his fortunes, these efforts were by no means wasted, is clear.

O’Reilly’s financial methods look peculiar and by no means prudent from the angle of vision of 1944. The funds raised by the sale of stock were used for the construction of the lines. The companies which O’Reilly organized were apt to begin business with a large part of the money which had been raised to set them off already expended. But, however imprudent this may appear today, it was not regarded as foolish in 1845. The unlimited optimism of the American temperament in the period before the Civil War is difficult for us to understand today. But it made possible business practices that would now be universally condemned as unsound.

None the less, we must not, in our understanding of O’Reilly’s motives and view-point, attempt an apologia for him. The judgment of James D. Reid, who had been his assistant in the post-oflice at  Rochester and whom he brought into the telegraph business, does not seem an uncharitable one. “Henry O’Reilly,” he wrote in 1879, “was in many respects a wonderful man. His tastes were cultivated. His instincts were fine. He was intelligent and genial. His energy was untiring, his hopefulness shining. His mental activity and power of continuous labor were marvelous. He was liberal, generous, profuse, full of the best instincts of his nation. But he lacked prudence in money matters, was loose in the use of it, had little veneration for contracts. . . . He formed and broke friendships with equal rapidity, was bitter in his hates, was impatient of restraints.” This characterization is sound. And the criticism which it contains will be found to be amply justified by the history of O‘Reilly’s telegraph companies.


From the beginning, of course, O’Reilly, in his fulfilment and elaboration of his contract with Kendall, had many difficulties to contend with. He was reasonably successful in securing the funds for the construction of the Pennsylvania line as Jonathan Child, Samuel L. Selden, Hervey Ely, Alvah Strong and many others are found amongst the subscribers. But his contract called for the completion of the line within six months of the signing of the agreement. O’Reilly and those associated with him had, of course, not the slightest experience in constructing telegraph lines. They were the pioneers, working without the technical knowledge that could only be gained in that day from experience. They had no models to follow. As winter came on, their troubles multiplied. At the end of November a storm broke their wire (which they had drawn tightly in the belief that transmission was aided by a taut line) in a hundred places. When the 13th of December arrived, the line had not been completed. The contract of O’Reilly with the Morse patentees was by any strict construction, null and void.

Of the patentees, however, (and there were four of them) only one, the villain of the piece in most accounts of telegraph history, F. O. ]. Smith, was anxious at this time to take advantage of O’Reilly’s predicament. Morse and Kendall, the business agent, were willing to be generous. O’Reilly had worked hard. His difliculties had been great. He might still he a very effective helper. Why not let him go ahead? During the year 1846, in fact, the line between Philadelphia and Pittsburg was made ready for business. Time was to show that it was flimsily constructed, and some of it had to be rebuilt as early as the fall of 1849. But at the outset of the telegraph era in 1846 no one could know this.

Meanwhile O’Relly went ahead with other projects. A line was constructed between Boston and New York; another was started to run west from Cincinnati to Pittsburg and Louisville. Often the difficulties seemed almost insuperable. ln one night a storm in New England produced 170 breaks in a stretch of 50 miles. The ambitious Irishman was in financial difliculties. His files for the winter of 1847 are full of duns and protested notes. He had to plead with Rochester merchants for more time for his grocery and clothing bills, and even to beg credit for a ton of coal for his home.


There seems little doubt, moreover, that he had gone beyond his powers, as defined in his contract. In order to get his companies started he issued stock which, it was alleged, represented an interest in the patents themselves. His organization of separate companies was directly contrary to the desires of Kendall and of the patentees. In addition, F. O. J. Smith managed to persuade his associates virtually to hand over to him the control of the patent interests, and by this time Kendall, concluding that O’Reilly was not to be trusted, went over to the opposition. The patentees began to construct competing lines; they sought to close the lines they did construct to O’Reilly business. Though a temporary injunction restraining O’Reilly was denied them in 1847, they went ahead making more and more trouble for him. Efforts at compromises were blocked by the dominating personality of Smith. The struggle waxed hotter and hotter.

In the popular view O’Reilly was the hero of this bitter battle. He had had the vision to propose lower rates on telegraph service for newspapers than his rivals, and he also hit upon the sound principle of lower rates for quantity service. He was the gallant David directing his sling against the burly giant Goliath.

“The steed called lightning (says the Fate)
Is owned in the United States.
‘Twas Franklin that caught the horse.
‘Twas harnessed by Professor Morse.
With Kendall’s rein the steed went shyly,
Till tamed and broke by H. O’Reilly.”

So chanted the friends of the fighting Irishman.

But unfortunately O’Reilly never knew when to stop. There might have been some color of right in his activities in the region north of the Ohio, There could be none whatever when he sought to construct lines south of the river, and he knew it. In order to make his case stronger in this region, he bought the patents to a telegraphic instrument described as the Columbian, and that has been described by Alvin F. Harlow as the “most absurd imitation and infringement of the Morse system that supposedly sane men ever tried to get away with.” The only excuse that can be given for him is that he was so ignorant of mechanisms as not to realize how bald a fraud this was. But naturally the Morse interests rook advantage of the situation. In


1848 the District Court declared against 0’Reilly. His instrument was declared to be an infringement of the Morse patent. Of course O’Reilly appealed. But the years of litigation that followed naturally did not help his financial situation. And in 1855, the Supreme Court, in a decision rendered by Chief Justice Taney, dealt the interests which O’Reilly represented what was virtually a death blow. After this time the ebullient Irishman appears only infrequently in connection with the history of the telegraph. Some of the lines which he had built virtually disintegrated; others were developed by other men into powerful agencies of communication. But none owed anything of their further growth to him. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that he had strayed into fields in which his talents were not conspicuous, and, indeed, in the years that followed, he was to be a rather pathetic figure, never attaining success, from time to time seeking once again to capitalize his talent for popular controversy, and for popular causes,but rarely doing so with any profit to himself.

It is curious that O’Reilly, in this decade of the fifties, never took any important part, so far as can be discovered, in the slavery controversy. The probable explanation lies in his close affiliations with the Democratic party. One might have thought that such an issue as this would decidedly appeal to him. But O’Reilly was a partisan Democrat, and it may well be that he hesitated to cut loose from his old associations. At any rate, at no time does he appear as a militant foe of the extension of slavery, let alone of the “peculiar institution” itself, and his migration, as a chronic officeseeker, from the Democratic into the Republican party was not successfully effected until somewhere around 1869.

Years of Discouragement

In the intermediate years between 1853 and 1869 he interested himself in a number of unsuccessful ventures. He started a project for the improvement of the Des Moines River, in Iowa. But before lung he fell to quarreling with his associates, was kicked out of the company which he had helped to form, and had to content himself with the meager satisfaction of exposing some of its irregularities before the lowa legislature. In 1859, returning to New York, he engaged in a more congenial and more successful battle, a battle to pro-


tect the canals of New York State against the hostility of the railroads. But the victory which he won in a campaign for the further enlargement of the canals left him once more without employment. Two years later we find him president of a concern called the American Terracultor Company, located in Rochester. This company was organized to manufacture a machine which would supplant the plow, and which, instead of turning the soil, dug up the ground and pulverized it by means of forks attached to endless chains, cutting a strip of land forty inches in width and ten inches in depth. But matters did not go smoothly here, either, and in addition the period of his connection with the terraculror was saddened by the death of his son at the battle of Williamsburg. In 1863 we find him acting as Secretary of an Association for promoting Colored Volunteering, and acting in conjunction with Peter Cooper to see to it that such volunteers would be authorized and credited to the quota of New York State. In 1867 we find him once more attacking his old foe, the railroads, and becoming Secretary of the National Anti-Monopoly Cheap Freight Railway League, which had as its fantastic object the construction of railway lines which should be open to free competition for the transportation of freight and passengers, but which is interesting as an early expression of the popular resentment against the growing power and arrogance of the railway systems of the country. On this project O’Reilly got exactly nowhere, and his own compensation in connection with it was so small that it did not meet his living expenses. During all this time, it would appear, he was constantly in debt, dependent often upon the generosity of his creditors.

In 1869, however, O’Reilly secured an appointment in the New York Customs House as store-keeper. This job, which could hardly have been particularly lucrative, he attempted to supplement by editorial work for one or another of the New York papers, forming a temporary connection with the World and with the Tribune. But his old flair for editorial writing seems to have deserted him, and he could give satisfaction neither to Manton Marble nor to Horace Greeley, the editors of the sheets in question. He was busy during this period with his Memoirs, and with the arrangement and collection of his historical papers; but the first of these two tasks he never completed.

In 1878, moreover, misfortune befell him. Rutherford B. Hayes, elected President in 1877, was one of the first Presidents to put into


practise, and against strong opposition, the principles of civil service reform; and the Presidential axe was soon whetted for Alonzo B. Cornell, the Collector of the Port of New York, to whom O’Reilly had owed his appointment as store-keeper. Ar the age of 72, then, O’Reilly was removed from office. He continued to live in New York till 1884, when he returned once more to the scene of his youthful successes, the city of Rochester. There he died, in St. Mar’y’s Hospital on the 17th of August, 1886, and was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, the site for which he had been instrumental in selecting nearly fifty years before. He had, at one time, lapsed from the Catholic faith, but in these last years of his life he returned to it, and before his death received extreme unction, according to Catholic ritual. The career which we have thus been analyzing was certainly nor, from the worldly point of view, a successful one. O’Reilly was devoid of the qualities that make for achievement in the business world. He was improvident, rash and by no means easy to deal with. To the eye of the hyper-critical, he might well appear as one who had a professional interest in controversy, in stirring up trouble, in which he generally found himself brilliant and inextricably involved. But any such judgment would be not only partial, but far too severe. O’Reilly was a man of very generous impulses, of very substantial Capacities, and of some measure of successful achievement. In particular is this true of the period that he spent in Rochester. He identified himself during that period with a number of important causes, with the development of the Erie Canal, which (it must never be forgotten) played a fundamental role in the growth of the stare down to the Civil War, and on which the prosperity of this city depended, with the establishment of a great step forward in the system of public education,with the first feeble steps towards the maintenance of a public library, with the development of a newspaper which has had a continuous existence since 1826. On a larger scale his activities seem, in retrospect, to be futile and ill-judged. Perhaps they were. But here too it must not be forgotten that he was a popular hero to many Americans in the early part of the fifties, and that, crude as were his methods, and wrong as were many of his decisions, he expressed something that needed to be expressed in his opposition to unrestricted monopolistic control of an important industry. The remedy for such control was emphatically not the remedy that he envisaged. It was not competition, but


regulation, that was finally to be judged necessary in the telegraph industry. But it would have been difficult for an American of his period to have foreseen this. After all, the era of regulation was to come after O’Reilly was in his grave. No one contends that here was a great man. But surely here was an interesting man, a man towards whom a charitable judgment is easy, a man whose generous impulses command respect, and whose life was not devoid of service to his fellows.

Biographical Note: This effort to present a full length picture of Henry O’Reilly in brief compass has been greatly facilitated by a master’s thesis written by Sister Miriam Monaghan at the Catholic University of America. A typed copy of her study, Henry O’Reilly: Journalist and Promoter of the Telegraph, has generously been made available by a gift to the Rochester Historical Society. In addition to his own published works, cited in the paper, the fat volume by James D. Reid, The Telegraph in America (Albany, 1878), and Carleton Mabee’s The American Leonardo: A Life of Samuel F. B. Morse (New York, 1943), have proved useful.



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All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.
 is in cahoots with public records agencies, a group suspects.

A nonprofit claims its request to obtain genealogical records from state archives was brushed aside in favor of Ancestry’s request.

I know that Michael Peck, my great-great-great-grandfather, died on July 14, 1922. I know this because last October I visited the cemetery in Cornwall, New York, to find the date on his headstone. I had been searching for information on Michael for almost a decade on, but never found any information about his death. Had I waited until a few weeks ago, I could have saved myself the trip upstate. Ancestry finally added the New York State Death Index for 1852–1956 to its collection, and I would have found Michael’s date of death with a few clicks of a mouse.

This new archive on Ancestry, however, was added under questionable circumstances, one genealogist claims. Brooke Schreier Ganz, the founder of the nonprofit group Reclaim the Records, has filed a lawsuit against the New York state agency handling the records, calling into question whether it engages in backroom dealings or preferential treatment with Ancestry.

According to the lawsuit, “although the same Records Access Office at [the Department of Health] handled both [Freedom of Information Act] requests, the timeline and procedures followed throughout the process for Ms. Ganz and Reclaim the Records was different than it was for”

Read on . . .

Source: Is In Cahoots With Public Records Agencies, A Group Suspects

What does Elizabeth Warren’s ‘native’ ancestry mean?

On Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released results from DNA testing, suggesting she has Native American ancestry and thrusting the issue of genetic testing and Native American identity into the spotlight.

The DNA report comes after years of political back-and-forth exchanges between Warren and Republican opponents, who accuse her of pretending to have Native American blood to further her law career. A DNA “fact check” on a political debate would have seemed like science fiction even a few election cycles ago. Even today, though, DNA ancestry testing is not as simple as it might seem, especially when it comes to the search for a Native American identity. [How Do DNA Ancestry Tests Really Work?]

“It’s important to be thinking about where community and culture is derived from,” said Matthew Anderson, a geneticist at The Ohio State University, who is of Eastern Cherokee descent. “It’s not the DNA.” . . .

Read on . . .

Source: What Does Elizabeth Warren’s ‘Native’ Ancestry Mean?

Journey through centuries: An ancestral doppelganger is discovered!

My biggest fascination with my genealogy research is finding old photos of the people – especially any rare ancestral doppelganger to current family members.
An ancestral doppelganger is discovered!
Marshall Matthews Blythe (Mark’s father) c. 2004.
An ancestral doppelganger is discovered!
Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky, c. 1812 – An ancestral doppelganger!

These images bring some life to the profile created by the fact finding of my research and brings these characters closer and makes them more relatable and understandable.

A while ago, while I was researching the Shelby family which included the original Welsh Quaker immigrant Evan Isaac Shelby (8th great grandfather to my father-in-law), his son Brigadier General Evan Shelby (7th great granduncle) and Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky (1st cousin, 8 times removed, and born in 1750),

I was immediately struck by the resemblance between my father-in-law and Governor Isaac Shelby.

Considering this relationship spans seven generations, it is quite amazing!

In another instance, I was doing some research for a friend who was curious about what happened to one mysterious great great aunt who had a past around which there had been rumours. Upon researching, I discovered that she was actually the birth mother of a girl who was raised by another family member, believing this person was her own aunt.

At the time of the child’s birth, this woman worked as a domestic in the home of a wealthy entrepreneur in the late 1800’s and became pregnant, having the child out of wedlock.

Knowing how often the domestics were taken advantage of by the men of the house, I looked into it further, believing he might be the baby’s father. I was sort of surprised (but not too much) to find a picture of this gentleman’s grandson and great-grandson – and there was a definite resemblance! In this case it was not quite as striking, but was there nonetheless around the mouth and eyes.

William B. Coon – Soldier in the War of 1812

In a previous post, I told the story of David Coon, the fourth great grandfather to my children Erin and Stuart, and his service and death in the Civil War.
His father, William B. Coon (about 1789 to August 25, 1854) was also a soldier, but in his case he served in the War of 1812.
William was born in Beekmantown, Clinton, New York and was the son of Joseph Coon.


War of 1812 Minor's Claim to Bounty Land for William B. CoonWar of 1812 Claim to Bounty Land by William B. Coon, page 1.

War of 1812 Minor's Claim to Bounty LandWar of 1812 Claim to Bounty Land by William B. Coon, page 2.

Zebulon Pike
Colonel Zebulon Pike

In 1813, at the age of 24, William enlisted as a Private with the 36th Regiment of the New York Militia under Captain Fillmore at Plattsburgh, New York.

On January 4, 1851, William B. Coon swore an affidavit before John Kilborn, Justice of the Peace in Canada West, United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, in support of his claim to bounty land in compensation for his service in the War of 1812. According to the affidavit, he, along with his horses and sleigh, were pressed into service March 1, 1813 by Colonel Pike’s 15th Infantry Regiment to go from Plattsburgh to Sackets Harbor, serving seventeen days.

Subsequently, he enlisted August 25, 1813 at Beekmantown, Clinton County, New York, as a Private in Captain S. Fillmore’s Company of the militia commanded by Major John Roberts. He was honorably discharged about December 1, 1813. During this three month period of service, they defended the town of Plattsburgh during the burning of the newly promoted General Pike’s encampment, under command of Colonel Thomas Miller.

War of 1812 Minor's Claim to Bounty LandWar of 1812 Minor’s Claim to Bounty Land, page 2.

War of 1812 Minor's Claim to Bounty LandWar of 1812 Minor’s Claim to Bounty Land, page 1.

A supporting “Declaration on Behalf of Minor Children for Bounty Land” of August 3, 1869 by Harriet (Hattie) Laplaint of Beekmantown, Clinton County, New York states she is the child of William B. Coon, who had been married to Elizabeth Hicks. She further states William B. Coon had died August 25, 1854 and that Elizabeth had predeceased him on September 26, 1842. She was the only child of William and Elizabeth listed and as there were other children by both of his marriages, it appears she was the only claimant for the bounty land. This declaration is witnessed by her half-brother Samuel C. Coon and one Joel Cudworth.

Bounty Land Claim signed by Hiram Southwick.Bounty Land Claim signed by Hiram Southwick.

The “Bounty Land Claim” document signed by Hiram Southwick proves the previous marriage of William B. Coon, although his first wife is not named, stating he was the half-brother of Hattie in support of her claim. William’s first wife Clarissa Haskill had previously been briefly married to Ebenezer (Eben) Southwick and had two sons by him, Hiram and James.

Power of Attorney re land claim.Power of Attorney re William B. Coon’s land claim.

William B. Coon was married about 1818 to Clarissa Haskill at Beekmantown. Their children were: John Williams Coon (1819-1842); David Coon (1824-1864); Samuel Churchill Coon (1824-1903); and Clarinda Coon (1826-1870).

The fate of Clarissa is unknown at this point, but it is assumed she had died sometime between 1826 and 1840, as William married a second time in about 1840 in Ontario, Canada to Elizabeth Hicks. Their children were: Mary Eleanor Coon (born circa 1840) and Harriet “Hattie” Coon (born circa 1841).

Military Bounty Land Warrant Certificate - William B. CoonWilliam B. Coon’s Military Bounty Land Warrant Certificate.

William died August 25, 1854 in Alexandria, Licking County, Ohio. Unfortunately, this was before he could receive his 40 acres of bounty land in Wisconsin, which then went to his son David, who relocated there with his family prior to his own service in the Civil War.

Keep checking back as I will soon write a post about my children’s other fifth great grandfather, Alanson Adams, the father of David Coon’s wife, Mary Ann Adams. Alanson also fought in the War of 1812, having enlisted along with his brother Gardner in 1813.


  1. Emily Bailey, “David Coon and Family Background,” e-mail message to Christine Blythe, 19 Nov 2006.
  2. Emily Bailey, “William B. Coon Family,” e-mail message to Christine Blythe, 20 Nov 2006.
  3. Coon, William B.; War of 1812 Service File.
  4. Act of Sept. 28 1850 Land Warrant Card – Coon, W.B. and Coon, David.
  5. Military Bounty Land Warrant Certificate – Coon, William B.
  6. Military Bounty Land Location Record – Coon, William B.
  7. 1851 Canadian, Lansdowne Township, Leeds County; Ontario GenWeb;
  8. “Genealogy Genforum,” database, Coon Family (


Transcription: Last Will and Testament of John Royall Jr. of Powhatan County, Virginia.


The following is my transcription of the Last Will and Testament of John Royall Jr. of Powhatan County, Virginia.


In the name of God, I John Royall Jr of the County of Powhatan being weak of body but of sound mind and disposing memory do make and ordain this to be my last will and testament in manner and form as follows.

Imprimis I lend to my dear and affectionate wife Elizabeth Royall during her natural life the plantation I now live on together with the following slaves (Viz) Phill, Peter, Lambrick, Arthur, Poll and her three children viz George, Squire, and Maria, Kate and her child Chmberlayne, and Emily & her child Fanny, and at the death of my wife I give her the fee simple right to dispose of five of the above mentioned slaves by will or otherwise, the value of the value of the First five slaves to bear proportion to the aggregate value of the whole. I further give her all my household & kitchen furniture to dispose of as she may think proper. I also lend her during my natural life the use of all my stock of Horses, cattle, sheep & hogs also such of my plantation utensils as will be sufficiently of the use of the hands mentioned above, which several bequests are to be considered in lieu of her right of dower.

Secondly, The residue of my estate of whatever nature or kind, either in possession, expectancy, or reversion I give & bequeath unto my son Joseph Albert Royal, also that part of my estate that I have loaned to my wife during her natural life I give to my said son after the death of his mother. But it is expressly my will and desire that in case my said son Albert should not arrive to the age of twenty one years or marry that then the whole of what I have divised him shall be equally divided between my brothers (First), Joseph A. Royal, Will Royal & James F. Royall. But in case that either of my said brothers should die before my son Albert, without bearing lawfull issue, that then the said estate should be divided between the survivor or survivors of them, or the issue of the survivor or survivors of them such issue if more than one to have the part divided among them that their father would have been entitled unto in case of his being alive at the time of the death of my said son Joseph Albert.

Thirdly, I do hereby constitute and appoint by this testament my brother William Royall guardian to my said son Joseph Albert and do vest him with full and ample powers over that part of my estate that I have divised unto my son Joseph Albert, so that he may sell or exchange any part thereof that he may think will be conducive to the interest of my said son, as I myself might or could do were I living, also it is my will that in case my wife should die before my said son arrives to the age of twenty one years or marries, that in case of such an event that my said brother William have as guardian the same control over that part of my estate that I have lent to my wife during her life as I have given him over the part devised to my said son And having implicit confidence in my said brother William it is my desire that security be not required of him as guardian of my son, and do require and expect of him that he will have my son well & virtuously educated and that he will have him qualified for such profession as his education and talents may fit him for.

Fourthly, it is my will that the whole of my estate be kept together untill my just debts are paid.

Fifthly, it is my desire that my estate be not appraised & that my executors hereafter named be not required to give security for the execution of this my last will.

Lastly I do appoint my brother William Royall & my worthy friend William Archer Cocke executors of this my last will and testament hereby revoking all wills heretofore by me made. As Witness my hand & Seal this twelfth day of January one thousand eight hundred & three.

John Royall Jnr {SEAL}

Signed sealed & ackn’d in presence of
John Royall
John Winston
Jas. Cocke
John R. Robertson

A codicile explanatory of that part of the first clause of this my last will and testament relating to Emily and her child. Whereas I have some debts respecting my title to the wench & Child Fanny – now it is my desire that my wife Elizabeth Royall shall possess in fee simple all the right title or interest that I have or may have in said slave Emily with her present and future increase which I give to her and her heirs forever.

Whereas in the third clause of this will I left my brother William guardian to my son Joseph Albert with full powers and controul over my estate both real and personal whereby he may buy sell or exchange for the benefit of my said son. Now in case of the death or any other disability of my said brother William which may take place before my said son arrives to the age of twenty one years or marries then I do hereby invest my friend William Archer Cocke with the same powers to act as guardian to my said son as I have given to y brother William in the former part of this will. As witness my hand and seal this 12th day of January 1803.

John Royall Junr {SEAL}

Signed sealed and acknowledged in presence of
Jas. Cocke
John Royal
John R. Robertson

At a court held for Powhatan county the 16h day of March 1803 This last will and testament of John Royall decd together with the Codicile thereto annexed was presented in open court and proven by the oath of John Royal and John R. Robertson two of the witnesses thereto & thereupon ordered to be recorded. And on the motion of Wm. Royall and William A Cocke the executors named in the said will who made oath thereto Certificate is granted them for obtaining probate thereof in due form.

Jas Poindexter CPC

Transcription: Last Will and Testament of John Royall of Powhatan County, Virginia.
Transcription: Last Will and Testament of John Royall of Powhatan County, Virginia.


The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.

Transcription: Marriage record of Telesphore Blanchet and Agnes Larocque and others.


The following is my transcription of the marriage record of Telesphore Blanchet and Agnes Larocque and others.




County of Carleton


Division of Ottawa


His Name


Louis Berthiaume


Telesphore Blanchet


Joseph Adrian Burke





Residence when Married




Place of Birth

Pointe Gatineau

Ste. Rose, Rimouski


Bachelor or Widower (B or W)




Rank or profession




Names of Parents

Louis Berthiaume

Marie Pagé

Louis Blanchet

Marguerite W. Pine

Thomas & Elizabeth

Her Name

Emilie Barille

Agnes Larocque

Eliza Jane Daugherty





Residence when Married




Place of Birth

Beauharnois, P.Q.



Spinster or Widow (S or W)




Names of Parents

Joseph Barille

Adeline Mathieu

Barnabe Larocque

Marcelline Déguerre

Robert and Mary

Names and Residences

of Witnesses

Narcisse Dubois

Marie Shea

Barnabe Larocque

Aldine Gauthier


Jane Mark

M. J. Mark

Marriage record of Telesphore Blanchet and Agnes Larocque.
Marriage record of Telesphore Blanchet and Agnes Larocque.

Transcription: Marriage record for Chester Keefer and Mary Ann Jaques.


Transcription of the Marriage Record for Chester Keefer and Mary Ann Jaques.


Transcription of the Marriage Record for Chester Keefer and Mary Ann Jaques.
Transcription of the Marriage Record for Chester Keefer and Mary Ann Jaques.

THE STATE OF OHIO, Geauga County

Personaly appeared Chester W. Keefer and made application for a MARRIAGE LICENSE for himself and Mary Ann Jaques of the township of Munson in said county, and made solemn oath the he the said Chester is of the age of twenty-one years, and the said Mary Ann, is of the age of eighteen years; that they are both single, and not nearer of kin than first cousines; that he knows of no legal impediment against their being joined in marriage.

C. W. Keefer [signature]

Sworn and subscrbed this 5th day of Oct. 1836

Before me,

A. Philips D??? [signature]


Larry David and Bernie Sanders are distant cousins | Flavorwire


On the fourth season premiere of “Finding Your Roots,” Henry Louis Gates Jr. revealed a match between the Senator and comedian’s DNA.


In fact, Larry David and Bernie Sanders are distant cousins.


Throughout the three seasons of Henry Louis Gates Jr.,’s PBS series Finding Your Roots, the author and historian has used family ancestry research to track familial connections for celebrities (and between them), with some surprising results.

But few of the show’s revelations have been as predictable as that of last night’s fourth season premiere: that Senator Bernie Sanders and comedian Larry David, who has portrayed him quite convincingly on Saturday Night Live, are related.

Gates and his team were able to make the connection via a long identical stretch in both Sanders and David’s DNA, which indicates cousins.

David, who was hoping for a connection to “a good athlete,” is amused and eventually accepting (“Cousin Bernie!”), while Sanders is unsurprised: “He does a better Bernie Sanders than I do!”

Take a look…


Source: Ancestry Non-Shocker: Larry David and Bernie Sanders are Distant Cousins – Flavorwire

Ancient tomb of Santa Claus discovered beneath church.

The Death of St. Nicholas.

Archaeologists in Turkey may be on the cusp of solving a mystery thousands of years in the making after they stumbled on a tomb beneath the remains of an ancient church they believe contains the remains of Saint Nicholas—known popularly as Santa Claus.


A portion of the site believed to contain the undamaged grave was discovered in St. Nicholas Church, located in Turkey’s southern Antalya province. The Demre district in which the church can be found is known to be the revered Christian saint’s birthplace.


The head of Antalya’s Monument Authority, Cemil Karabayram, told the Turkish press the shrine was discovered during electronic surveys which showed gaps beneath the church.

“We believe this shrine has not been damaged at all, but it is quite difficult to get to it as there are mosaics on the floor,” Karabayram told Cemil Karabayram. In the excavation process, archaeologists will have to loosen each tile from the mosaics and remove them together in a mold.

The claims over the 1,674-year-old remains of St Nicholas would compete with differing narratives that place the original saint’s relics as far away as Italy and Ireland.

Read on…


Source: Ancient Tomb of Santa Claus Discovered Beneath Church

How the Filles du Roi brought the ‘Mother’s Curse’ to Canada | The Atlantic


The first King’s Daughters—or filles du roi—arrived in New France in 1663, and 800 more would follow over the next decade. Given their numbers, they were not literally the king’s daughters of course.


They were poor and usually of common birth, but their passage and dowry were indeed paid by King Louis XIV for the purpose of empire building: These women were to marry male colonists and have many children, thus strengthening France’s hold on North America.


And so they did. The filles du roi became the founding mothers of French Canadians, for whom these women are a source of historical pride.


A grand old restaurant in Montreal was named after the filles du roi. So is a roller-derby team. French Canadians can usually trace their ancestry back to one or more of these women. “French Canadian genealogy is so well documented, it’s just a piece of cake to trace any line you have,” says Susan Colby, a retired archaeologist who comes from a French Canadian family and has done some of that tracing herself.

So well-documented is French Canadian genealogy that professional geneticists and demographers use the data for research, too. Whenever a small group of people leave a large population (France) to found a new one (New France), they bring with them a particular set of mutations. Some of these mutations will by chance be more common in the new population and others less so. As a result, some rare genetic disorders disproportionately impact French Canadians.

One of these is Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy, which causes vision loss, usually in young men. Recently, geneticists using French Canadian genealogy have reexamined the effects of Leber’s and found a striking pattern of inheritance: It seems to show a long-theorized but never-seen-in-humans pattern called the “mother’s curse.”

Read on…


Source: How the Filles du Roi Brought the ‘Mother’s Curse’ to Canada – The Atlantic

1784 Will of Thomas Batte Senior (partial)


The following is my transcription of a partial typed copy of the 1784 will of Thomas Batte Senior.


I’m still looking for the complete will or the missing portion, but the major points and information appear to be included in the page I do have.


Last Will and Testament of Thomas Batte Sr. of 1784.

…& furniture that I have lent unto my loving wife I give and bequeath unto my son Richard Baugh Batte to him & his Heirs & assigns forever.
Item I give unto my loving wife Dorothy Batte my Negroe woman named Sall & her two Children Daniel & Phillis with their increase fro this day to her & to her heirs and assigns forever

Item I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Elizabeth Chamberlane Batte three tracts of parcels of Land lying in the county Chesterfield one known by the name of Packers, one by the name of Strattons & the other by the name of Dawsons joining the Lands of Elam Folkes & Woodson, also one third part of my Horses Cattle Sheep & Hogs, Household and Kitchen Furniture & Plantation Utensils, I also give unto my said Daughter my negroe woman Nanny & her child Sterling & their increase from this Day to her & her heirs and assigns forever.

Item I give and bequeath to my son Richard Baugh Batte all my Lands lying & being in the County of Prince George also one third part of my Negroes not specifically given one third part of my Horses, Cattle, Sheep, Hogs, Household; & Kitchen furniture & plantation Utensils. I also give to my said son my Negroe Woman Chener & her son Peter & their increase from this day which said Land & Negroes I give to him & to his heirs and Assigns forever.

Item I do hereby appoint my friend Stephen Cocke of Nottaway in Amelia County guardian of both my children & desire that he may out of their estate give them such liberal education as he thinks proper.

Item It is my Will & desire if my two children, my son Richard Baugh Batte, & my Daughter Elizabeth Chamberlain Batte, should both die before they arrive to lawful age or Marry, then I give one third part of my estate both real & Personal to Thomas Batte jur. son of Chamberlain Batte to him & to his heirs & assigns forever. one other third part I give also if my said two children should die as aforesaid to the children of my sister Mary Cox to be equally divided amongst them which estate both real and personal I give to them & to their Heirs & Assigns forever, The other third part both real & personal I give to the Children of my Sister Elizabeth Jones deceased which estate I give to them & to their Heirs and assigns forever to be equally divided amongst them all if my said two children should die as aforesaid.

I do hereby Constitute & appoint my friends Alexr. Marshall & Stephen Cocke of Nottoway in Amelia County my Executors of this my last Will & Testament hereby revoking all other will or wills whatsoever made by me or for me and as a compensation & sattisfaction for their Trouble & traveling expences in performing the sd. Business of Exrs. I give & bequeath unto my sd. Executors & to their Heirs & assigns forever my negroe man slave (a blacksmith by Trade) named James. It is my will & desire that my estate not be appraised.

In witness whereof I have to these presents set my Hand and seal this 17th day of September 1787 –

Signed Sealed published & declared to be the last will

Thomas Batte Senr.


1784 Will of Thomas Batte Senior (partial).
1784 Will of Thomas Batte Senior (partial).


eBooks from Google eBooks and Internet Archive: A researcher’s gold mine!


This article’s title “eBooks from Google eBooks and Internet Archive: A researcher’s gold mine!” aptly describes how I feel about including ebooks and online publications and libraries in my genealogy research.


Some of my best finds have come through using the Google genealogy research tools.

I believe in using primary sources as much as possible in my genealogy research. This is the only way to be sure the data is 100% accurate and safe to use.

Anyone looking at the sources in my genealogy database (see menu link above) will see that I consistently categorize the sources I use according to their quality.

One exception to my preference for primary sources is the use of publications such as magazines, newspaper articles and books. Errors in factual data such as dates, ages, etc. do occur, but what I find invaluable about these sources is the narrative. This is the one way to get beyond the facts and learn from the personal recollections and knowledge of others. This is how I learn the story of our ancestors.

Google EBook Search
Google Advanced eBook Search

In cases where these publications are the sole source I have at the time, I will continue to search for high quality primary sources for the factual information, but I will still document the data from the publications in the meantime as long as I’m careful to categorize its quality appropriately.

When selecting the proper source quality categories, I do so for each and every fact for an individual so I have a clear picture of the accuracy of each and every fact at a later time. The clearer, the better.

Two places I use frequently to find these publications are Google eBooks and Internet Archive. By using Google eBooks’ advanced search (click on image above for full size), it is possible to stipulate exactly what you’re searching for by a variety of means including:

  • for text ‘with all of the words’, ‘with the exact phrase’, ‘with at least one of the words’, and ‘without the words’ (using ‘without the words’ can be invaluable for eliminating undesirable results);
  • for full book views, limited and full views, all books or Google eBooks only;
  • for all content; magazines or books; and
  • by language, title, author, publisher, subject, publication date, ISBN and or ISSN.

Some of the titles I have found during my research include:

  • “A History of Delaware County Pennsylvania,” by George Smith;
  • “The History of Wales,” by Rev. William Warrington;
  • “Annals of Yorkshire,” by Henry Schroeder;
  • “Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution,” by Lorenzo Sabine;
  • “A California Tramp and Later Footprints,” by Thaddeus Stevens Kenderdine;
  • “Collections Historical and Archaeological Relating to Montgomeryshire,” by the Powys-land Club;
  • “Kearsley’s Complete peerage, of England, Scotland and Ireland,” by George Kearsley; and
  • “Farm and its Inhabitants, with Some Account of the Lloyds of Dolobran,” by Rachel Jane Lowe.
Internet Archive
Internet Archive Search Screen

With the Internet Archive site, it is possible to search a variety of media types including the Wayback Machine (an archive of obsolete websites), moving images, texts, audio, software, education, forums and FAQs.

There are other places ebooks can be found but Google eBooks and Internet Archive are the ones I turn to most often for the best results.

Be sure to give either (or both) of these sites a try. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find.

Transcription: Obituary for Wesley Blythe, Mortician.


The following is my transcription of the obituary for Wesley Blythe.


Obituary for Wesley Blythe.Wesley Blythe

Wesley E. Blythe, 86, of 508 West County Road 34 died Friday at Poudre Valley Memorial Hospital.

The funeral is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Monday in the Goodrich Chapel under the direction of the Rev. Delbert Paulson. Burial will be in Grandview Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Shrine Crippled Childrens Hospital in care of the Goodrich Mortuary.

Blythe was born Nov. 4, 1890 in Lawrenceburg, Tenn. He married Lena C. Cade January 25, 1917 in Covington, Ind.

Blythe graduated from the Cincinnati College of Embalming in 1913. He was a funeral director in Danville, Ill. and Colorado Springs before moving to Fort Collins in 1932.

Here he purchased the Blythe Hollowell Mortuary in 1935 and joined in partnership with Jack Goodrich in 1947 under the name of the Blythe-Goodrich Mortuary. Blythe retired in 1957.

He was a member of the First United Methodist Church, fort Collins Elks Lodge, Masonic organizations and served as a DeMolay Dad. He also was member and past president of the Fort Collins Kiwanis Club, 100F Lodge, American Association of Retired People and was active in local civil defense activities after World War II.

Surviving is a nephew, Gene Hamilton, of Aztec, N.M.


The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access anddownload.

Photos and images are essential to successful genealogy research and blogging.

My two main passions in life are my genealogy research and blogging, and photos and images are essential to the success of both.
Photos and images are essential to successful genealogy research and blogging.
Photos and images are essential to successful genealogy research and blogging.

Most of us do this for the love of the craft – and yes, it is a craft that takes a great deal of talent, research, and knowledge of available resources to make it work.

For all my knowledge, my efforts barely make enough to pay the overhead, which can be considerable, even though I’m an advanced user and can perform most IT, SEO and other tasks myself. There is not much income left over for myself, so I must seek out as many free tools and resources as I can find.

The following is just a brief description of the image search tools I have used – and many I still do use.

One of the tools I recommend using to increase readership and minimize bounces is to use the highest quality images possible.

This can be rather difficult considering the confusion regarding copyright restrictions, licensing, and available image repositories.


In the beginning I used the Photodropper plugin and liked it, but sometimes the quality of the images left a lot to be desired.

I remained loyal, however, until each update made it more and more difficult to find anything but licensed images requiring payment. These images were definitely at the forefront of every search.

Browser Image Search Add-on.

I also tried the image search add-on for my browser, but found this to be a total waste of time as there was no way of filtering the searches or telling at a glance whether they were free or if they were under license restrictions.

Image Sites

Wikipedia main page image.Since I started taking on guest authors, I’ve taken notice of the quality of the images they submit and two companies stood out for me.

They are and

The searches are not contaminated with restrictions and costly images and the browsing is easy and straightforward. I’ve also been impressed with the variety and quality of images available.

Another resource I use regularly is

Image more details link window.

Many of the images on this site are available for use with some licensing restrictions detailed on the image’s Wikimedia Commons page.

Image more details window.

This can be reached by clicking on the image, then clicking the “More Details” button on the lower right.

Most of these images require only the inclusion of a photo license statement, which I always include at the very bottom of my posts.

Search Engine Image Searches

The two largest resources available are probably the least used because of the issues and confusion surrounding copyright.

They are Google and Bing image searches.

A keyword’s search shows no indicators of cost or license restrictions in the results.

This is easily resolved by using the search filters available on both sites.

First, search using the keyword on the main search page, then click on the Images link in the menu at the top of the page, and then use the filters drop-downs at the top of the page to search through numerous categories, including licensing and use restrictions.

Below are screenshots of the dropdowns from each of the Google and Bing image searches.

Image searches
Google image searches.
Bing Image Search Filters
Bing Image Search Filters

I used to use Microsoft Office’s clipart and image gallery regularly, but a while back, Microsoft discontinued this site.

Microsoft Office’s clipart and image library are now available through Bing’s image search.

My top ten: Best world-wide genealogy and ancestry websites.

After almost twenty years of genealogy research, there are certain sites that have become my ‘go to’ sites for certain aspects of my genealogy research. I thought it might be helpful for me to post my list of my top ten genealogy and ancestry websites.
Internet Archive
Internet Archive Search

I have also included a description of the reasons why these sites have proved invaluable to me. If you’re looking for information in these areas, be sure to check out these sites.

The headings are links to the sites described and paid sites are indicated by ($) following the heading.


Maintained and updated by the LDS (Latterday Saints) Church, this site has been invaluable for all of my time researching my family’s genealogy. In the past few years in particular, the databases have expanded substantially as the LDS organization works to digitize more and more information. Recently, the search feature has become much more effective and accurate. No matter what country, region or time frame you are researching, this is a wonderful site. Best of all, it is free.

2. is a favorite for all of the reasons listed for, the only difference being that a paid subscription is required. Although I do use a great deal, I plan my research so I don’t have to remain subscribed all of the time. As I research and find gaps, I keep a ‘to do’ list and when it is large enough to warrant the cost, I will subscribe for as long as I think is necessary, tackle my list, and cancel the subscription when I have completed my list. It has been almost a year since I last subscribed because I’ve been finding a substantial amount of information elsewhere. I am due to subscribe pretty soon to tackle my current ‘to do’ list.

If you’re looking for one paid site that provides extensive data from around the world, this is the one.

3.  Cyndi’s List

Cyndi’s List is the largest site that offers extensive links to genealogy sites and resources on the internet. Cyndi has worked tirelessly for decades creating this site of over 300,000 links – sorted, categorized and constantly updated to maintain currency and functionality.

Recently, however, Cyndi’s List has been the target of a hacker who stole her entire site, making minor changes to ‘make it their own’ and attempting to divert revenue to themselves. Be sure the site you’re visiting is actually Cyndi’s List and help protect her extensive investment and our valuable resource.

4.  Olive Tree Genealogy

Olive Tree Genealogy is an extensive portal of links to valuable data and genealogy research information around the world. Although I do find this site somewhat confusing and difficult to navigate, my investment of time and effort has proved valuable as I have found wonderful, obscure data that I was unable to find elsewhere.

5.  Foundation for Medieval Genealogy

You should have seen my surprise when my husband’s ancestry connected directly to nobles and royalty in the medieval period. For the longest time this was a vast brick wall for me as there is very little quality data available online for researching this time.

I can’t remember how I found this site, but it’s an amazing resource as it’s extensively researched and sourced. The sources are described in detail and where there are questions about the data, they make it clear so we can note these gaps and questions in our own research. Where they have drawn conclusions from the existing evidence they examine the evidence and describe their conclusions.

6.  Directory of Royal Genealogical Data: University of Hull

This is another well researched site about royal genealogy from the University of Hull in England that also covers the medieval period, but they are not as clear about the quality of their sources, the evidence they’ve used to form their conclusions and the reasons they formed the conclusions leading to the published genealogy.

7.  Internet Archive

Besides finding and sourcing dates and events, I also enjoy finding the details of the lives of our ancestors through written accounts. Access to these publications has helped immensely with writing this blog by enabling me to understand the circumstances and times in which our ancestors lived.

Internet Archive tops Google E-Books on this list because it is totally free.

8.  Google E-Books

Google E-Books is essentially a site offering paid and free access to public domain written materials and books with a very accurate, intuitive search feature. If you use the link in the heading, however, it is possible to search only titles available for free access and download. To find free titles, be sure to check ‘Full View’ when conducting a search.

9.  Rootsweb

This is a free site offered by . It’s a valuable resource for providing free access to user input data and family trees. Although I don’t entirely trust the data offered on this site for the simple reason that it is made up from ‘user input’, it has been very valuable to me when encountering those frustrating brick walls. I use the information here as ‘clues’ which have helped me break through those brick walls.

This data is recognizable in my Blythe Database because I do not enter sources or indicate very poor quality sources. Those using my database should interpret these facts as questionable at best.

10.  GeneaBloggers

GeneaBloggers was the genius idea of offering a directory of genealogy blogs. When I have some time on my hands and just want to explore what others are doing and saying, I start at GeneaBloggers.

Have fun checking out these sites!

Sir William ap Thomas and Gwladus ferch Dafydd Gam

Sir William ap Thomas Herbert, (21st great grandfather to my children) was born about 1390 to Sir Thomas ap Gwilyn (1360-1438) and Maud de Morley (1375-    ).

Featured image: Tomb with Effigies of Roger Vaughan and Gwladus ferch Dafydd Gam.

Sir William ap Thomas first married Elizabeth (or Isabel) Bluet (1380-1420), daughter of Sir John Bluet of Raglan Manor and Katherine Wogan, and widow of Sir James Berkeley. Elizabeth inherited Raglan Castle while married to to James Berkeley, who later died in about 1405. There were no children born to William and Elizabeth.

Sir William ap Thomas - Battle of Agincourt in 1415.
Sir William ap Thomas – Battle of Agincourt in 1415.

William fought in support of Henry V of England alongside Sir Roger Vaughan, first husband of his later wife Gwladus ferch Dafydd Gam and her father Dafydd Gam ap Llewelyn in the battle of Agincourt. Both Sir Roger and Dafydd Gam died in battle and Dafydd Gam was knighted as he lay dying. Sir William was made a knight-banneret.

In 1426, William was knighted by King Henry VI, and was known as “Y marchog glas o Went” (the blue knight of Gwent), because of the colour of his armour.

When Sir John Bloet died, Raglan Manor was inherited by Elizabeth and her husband James Berkeley. Upon Elizabeth’s death in 1420, William lived at Raglan as a tenant of his step-son James, Lord Berkeley. In 1425, James Berkely granted William the right to live at Raglan Manor for the remainder of his life.

In the earliest of his many occupations, William was made Steward of the Lordship of Abergavenny by 1421. At about this time, he married secondly the daughter of Dafydd Gam and the widow of Sir Roger Vaughan, Gwladys ferch Dafydd Gam, who was known as ‘Seren y fenni’ (Star of Abergavenny). The exact date of Gwladus’ birth is unknown, but she was born in Breconshire, Wales. She was renowned for her beauty, discretion and influence.

Her father supported Henry IV of England and as a result, she, her father, grandfather and two brothers were driven from their last home in Wales, finding refuge at King Henry IV’s court, where Gwladus served as a Maid of Honor to both of Henry IV’s wives, Mary de Bohun (about 1368-1394) and Joan (about 1370-1437).

After her marriage to Sir Roger Vaughan, she returned to Wales with her family as Roger was a great friend of her father’s and would later fight and die with him at Agincourt. Roger and Gwlady’s children were:

  • Watkin (Walter) Vaughan, who died 1456, married Elinor, daughter of Sir Henry Wogan, on Easter 1456. Watkin was murdered at home at Bredwardine Castle. His half-brother William Herbert and Walter Devereux worked to ensure the execution of the culprits at Hereford.
  • Thomas Vaughan, born about 1400, married Ellen Gethin, daughter of Cadwgan ap Dafydd. In 1461, Thomas died at the battle of Edgecote and was entombed at Kington church, near Hergest.
  • Sir Roger Vaughan of Tretower Court married first to Cicely, daughter of Thomas ap Philip Vychan, of Talgarth and second to Lady Margaret, daughter of Lord James Audley, another of the heroes of Agincourt. He died in 1471.
  • Elizabeth Vaughan married gentleman Griffith ap Eineon.
  • Blanch Vaughan married John Milwater, a wealthy Englishman commissioned by Edward IV to accompany Blanch’s half-brother, William Herbert, to the siege of Harlech Castle.

William ap Thomas and Gwladus had the following children:

  • Thomas Herbert, born in 1422.
  • Sir William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke (1423–1469), who took the surname Herbert. William’s support for and loyalty to Richard, Duke of York, and Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, resulted in his being recognized as Edward IV’s Welsh “master-lock”. He was the first full-blooded Welshman to enter the English peerage and he was knighted in 1452. William married Anne Devereux in 1449. She was the daughter of Sir Walter Devereux.
  • Sir Richard Herbert, born about 1424, of Coldbrook House, near Abergavenny who died in the battle of Danesmoor.
  • Elizabeth, born about 1427, married Sir Henry Stradling (1423–1476), son of Sir Edward Stradling  and Gwenllian Berkerolles. In contrast to previous generation, Henry and his brothers-in-law were hostile to the Henry VI reign. In 1476, Henry went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land dying on August 31, 1476 on his journey back to England. He was buried at Famagusta, Cyprus.
  • Margaret, born about 1429, married Sir Henry Wogan, Steward and Treasurer of the Earldom of Pembroke. He was made responsible for securing war material for the defence of Pembroke Castle. Their son, Sir John Wogan, was killed in battle at Banbury in 1465, fighting along side his uncle, William Herbert.

Other children that have been attributed to Gwladus and William include: Maud, Olivia, Elizabeth (who married Welsh country gentlemen, John ab Gwilym).

Gwladus and William raised their own children as well as those from her marriage to Sir Roger Vaughan.

Abergavenny Priory, Abergavenny, Wales
Abergavenny Priory

By 1432 William was able to purchase Raglan Manor for about £667 and afterward, he expanded the manor to become Raglan Castle.

Sir William was appointed to the position of High Sheriff of Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire in 1435, and in 1440, also to the position of High Sheriff of Glamorgan. About 1442 or 1443, William became Chief Steward of the estates of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York. He also served as a member of the Duke of York’s military council.

William ap Thomas died in London in 1445 and his body was brought back to Wales. William’s wife, Gwladys, died in 1454. Gwladys and her husband William ap Thomas were patrons of Abergavenny Priory where they were both buried and their alabaster tomb and effigies can still be seen in the Priory.


  1. The Herbert Family Pedigree, Ancient Wales Studies online; [].
  2. Herbert and Einion Sais links to Blayneys, online; [].
  3. Thomas Allen Glenn, Merion in the Welsh Tract: With Sketches of the Townships of Haverford and Radnor (Norristown, PA: 1896), ; pdf, Digital Library; [].
  4. Gwladus ferch Dafydd Gam; Find A Grave; [].
  5. Early Leighs of Wales; [].
  6. The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdon, Extant, Extinct or Dormant (G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume I.).
  7. John Burke, History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland (1834-1838).
  8. Dr. Thomas Nicholas, Annals and Antiquities of the Counties and County Families of Wales (1875); [].
  9. John Edward Lloyd and R. T. Jenkins, Ed.; Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940 (1957).
  10. Wikipedia; [].