Sunday, September 30, 2007


I’m sort of delaying heading off to bed even though I’m really
tired but I wanted to post this thought before it vanishes into
the swiss cheese that is my brain while I sleep.

I was following up on Chris Dunham’s comment on the probable
identity of Orpha Reynolds as the daughter of Simeon Reynolds
and Ruhama West. I noticed on the 1850 Oxford County Census
her name is listed as “Ruhannah”. Was the “m” misread as two
“n” ‘s by the transcriber or written as such by the census taker?
I then googled it to see if the variation popped up elsewhere.

I found the name then as “Ruanna Ames” on an Iowa bboard
query by a descendant.

At any rate, it appears from my initial digging thanks to Chris’
post that Simeon Reynolds is connected by marriage to my
Packard and Dunham lines.

Another example of the tangled roots of genealogy!

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Her name appears on the 1860 Census of the Town of Upton,
County of Oxford, State of Maine at the end of the list of names in
John Cutter West’s family.

Orpha Reynolds. 18 F. Further over on the line it states she was
born in Maine.

She is a bit of an enigma in my genealogy research,

There aren’t any other Reynolds listed on the census in Upton
that year so her family might have been living elsewhere. Perhaps
she was a hired woman who helped Arvilla Ames West run the
household, for Arvilla was now fifty years of age and while most
of her children were grown, she still had 9 year old Ruth and 6
year old David to care for. Ruth in particular might have been
challenging; she was listed as an “idiot” on the 1860 census and
would have perhaps needed more supervision. (19th Century
terminology for intelligence levels differ, I think, from modern
assessment. I’ve no way of knowing how mentally impaired Ruth
might have been by today’s standards.)

At any rate, Orpha lived with the West family, one of whom was
the 26 year old Jonathan Phelps West. I cannot say how or when
they fell in love since I don’t know of any letters or diaries by
either of them that might shed some light on their courtship.

The couple married on October 20, 1861.

A little over two months later, their marriage would come to an

During the year 1861 diphtheria raged throughout the area but
up until now it had not touched the West family. Now it struck it
hard. It could have come to the family from a guest invited to the
wedding who wasn’t as yet displaying the full symptoms of the

Orpha Viette Reynolds West died on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31st,
1861. She was 19 years old.

David Pingree West died on Jan. 17th , 1862

Ruth Ellen West died on Jan. 26th.

16 year old Arvilla Electa West died on Feb. 6th.

Older brother Asa Atwood West lost two of his children to the
disease as well:

8 year old Arvilla died on Feb. 18th.

2 year old Anna Pearl on Feb. 20th.

Another grandchild died in March, but cause of death is not given.

So by Spring of 1862 Jonathan Phelps West had lost a brother,
two sisters, two nieces, and his bride Orpha to the epidemic. And
that Summer he lost his father as John Cutter West passed away
at the age of 59.

I cannot begin to imagine how Jonathan could have coped with
such losses in so short a time. But he did.

He did what generations of New Englanders before and after him
have done: he survived and got on with life.

Three years later, on Jan.31st, 1865,Jonathan married Louisa
Almata Richardson. They would have four sons, the second of
whom was my great grandfather Philip Jonathan West.

I of course would not be sitting here typing this had Jonathan not
lost his first wife Orpha and later married Louisa. But still I
cannot help but feel sympathy for him. I wonder if he ever looked
back at his memories of that October wedding? It took place after
harvest time on a farm, so was wherever it took place decorated to
celebrate both the wedding and Harvest?

Did Jonathan revisit that memory with a smile or did the
knowledge of what came after make it too painful?

And did he ever wonder what life might have been like if he had
not lost his Orpha?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


#14 -Distress Signal. IF you become lost in the stacks of a major
genealogical library, DO NOT PANIC! Use your flutaphone
to summon help by blowing as hard as you can on through
the mouthpiece. A series of the highest and most shrill notes
will be most efficacious and a friendly librarian will arrive to
escort you safely back to your chair.


I have found approximately forty images at
in the Revolutionary War Pension Files of correspondence
between Mrs. Jessie Hale Tuttle and Pension Department.
The earliest request is in 1915 and the latest so far is from
1928, but there is still 21 percent of the pension Files yet to be
scanned and no doubt there are more letters I haven't seen.

Over that period Jessie’s address changed several times, and for
a short period it seems she either owned a typewriter or had
access to one but the majority of her correspondence was
handwritten. I will be blogging more in the future about Jessie
and her dealings with the Pension Department, but there are
two items I discovered that I’ll mention now.

Sometime in the mid 1920’s Jessie must have decided to put her
expertise in family research to good use and a printed letterhead

“Mrs. Jessie Hale Tuttle
Genealogist and Researcher”

appears at the top of the handwritten first page of a letter about
Benjamin Fuller. The original address under her name is scratched
out and her new address handwritten next to it. In another letter
concerning her request for information on Bela Graves she
states that the information was “needed for a D.A.R. paper”. (The
original request had not been answered as yet.)

So, perhaps Jessie’s original research into Moses Barrows was for
proof of descent from a Revolutionary War Veteran in order for
her to join the Daughters of the American Revolution and that
eventually led to her becoming a professional genealogist?

Whether that was actually the case or not, I do think the letters
show Jessie to be a bright, literate woman with a no nonsense
approach. She is indicative of the way American women and
society were changing at the start of the Twentieth Century.
And I found the glimpse into how research into the Pension
Files was done a century ago fascinating.

As I said, I’ll be blogging more about Jessie’s correspondence
but for the moment I’m going to turn my attention back to my
own ancestors.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


It seems to be a quiet day in many of the genealogy blogs I read
most often so after watching the Patriots game I started to dl the
the Revolutionary War Pension File for my ancestor Amos
Hastings from Last night I downloaded those of
Jesse Barker, the brother of my ancestor Jonathan Barker, which
is much smaller than his other brother Benjamin’s and the
Hastings file as well.

So far I’ve found Pension Files for seven ancestors at Footnotes
and the service records and rolls for some of them. It’s a windfall
of information for me and along with the Jesse Tuttle story they
should provide me with plenty of blogging material.

But I do want to get my files here more organized, so I ordered a
copy of Elizabeth Shown Mill’s book Evidence: Citation &
Analysis for the Family Historian so I can get more of a handle
on all the material I have found lately.

And I still need to come up with another thirty or so genealogical
uses for the fluteaphone!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Continuing the story of Mrs. Jessie H. Tuttle's correspondence
I’ve found at while exploring my ancestors’ in the
Revolutionary War Pension Files:

Some months passed between the previous exchange and the
next one that I found in Moses Barrows’ file. Perhaps an event
called World War 1 might have had something to do with the

It was February 1917 before Jessie sent the check:

"4650 Fremont Ave. So.
Minneapolis, Minn.
Feb. 17,1917
Commissioner of Pensions
Dear Sir:-
Enclosed please find my certified check for $3.15. Please send

me photographic copies of the eleven pages concerning the
pension claim of Lemuel Stimson, widow file 7222
Revolutionary War, and the ten pages concerning the claim of
Moses Barrows Widows file 18560.

In both there are 21 pages at 15 cents page making 3.15..
I do not care for certified copies.

Very truly yours
Jessie H. Tuttle"

Jessie emphatically underlined "certified".

Written above Jessie’s address in another’s handwriting is:

“Check for $3.15 rec’d--(three initials that I cannot decipher).

And a few days later came the typewritten reply:

“Rev. War Section

Jessie H. Tuttle
4650 Fremont Ave, South
Minneapolis, Minn.
In reply to your letter of the 17th instant, herewith
are enclosed copies of eleven pages from the Revolutionary
War pension claim of Lemuel and Catharine Stimson. Mass.
W.7222, and of ten pages from the Revolutionary War pension
claim of Elizabeth widow of Moses Barrows, Mass. W. 18,560,
said uncertified Photostat copies are furnished to you under the
provisions of the act of August 21,1912.
Very respectfuly,
G.M. Saltzgaber

I had to smile at the underlined “certified” in Jessie’s request.
She might have been living in Minnesota but she had Yankee
frugality. She was getting copies of government files from a
government agency mailed no doubt with an official stamp in a
government envelope. Why spend extra money for certification
of something so patently obvious ?

So that concluded Jessie’s mail in the Moses Barrows’ file. A few
years later she sought information about his brother Asa,
perhaps having only just then learned of Asa’s existence. I was
certain Jessie must have been related to the Barrows family and
as Janice Brown of Cow Hampshire kindly proved in her
comments to part 1 of this series of post, Jessie's genealogy
shows she was indeed descended from Moses and so a distant
cousin of mine.

I decided to see if Jessie made any other inquiries from the
Pension Dept.


The new Carnival of Genealogy is up over at Susan Kitchen's blog,
Family Oral History Using Digital Tools and I'm
looking forward to reading all of the posts during the
day later today when I'm more awake and able to
appreciate their contents more.

I missed this COG dateline.

The dog ate my keyboard.

Ok. I forgot. I was busy with the Jessie Tuttle series
and forgot.

Ah well. Next time!

Monday, September 17, 2007


One of the cool things about the Revolutionary War Pension Files
from the National Archives at is the glimpses you
catch either of people’s lives or of how things were done back in
earlier times, such as how far genealogy research has come.

Here is another exchange between Jessie Tuttle and
Commisioner G.M. Saltzgaber:

"4650 Fremont Ave So.
Minneapolis, Minn., May 29,1916
Commissioner of Pensions
Dear Sir:-
Will you please inform me how many pages there are in the
Rev. War pension claims of the two following:

Moses Barrows enlisted 1780 Res at enlistment, Plympton,
Ma. Married Elizabeth Colby at NewTown, N.H. July 29, 1789.
She was pensioned as his widow-application dated Oct 20,

1838. Res. at date of application Irasburg, Vermont. He enlisted
1780 under Capt David Holbrook and Colonel Shephard, Mass.
Lemuel Stimson
Enlisted May 1775-8 mos. Nathan Fuller Capt. Thos. Gardiner,
Enlisted May & June 1776. 5 mos. Capt Charles Miles, Col. Reed.
Date of Application Oct 16-1832 Res at date of application
Ashburnham, Mass. Born July 11 -1758 Weston, Mass.
died Ashburnham Sept 22, 1840
and greatly oblige
Mrs. Geo. E. Tuttle"

There is a round U. S. Pension Office postmark of May 31, 1916
By this time Jessie must have been noticed by the clerks of the
Pension Dept. Image 51 of the file seems to be some sort of inner
office memo about this request:

“Moses Barrows, Born in Mass. where he lived until after the
Revolutionary war. Presumably in a Mass. Regt. Died in Irasburg
Vt. His wife Elizabeth is said to have drawn a pension. It is not
known whether he did. Mrs. Barrows also died in Irasburg, Vt.

Lebbeus Hammand, said to have been in troops of the Conn. line.
The Company was raised, however in Westmoreland Co. Penn
(Wyoming) He is spoken of as the “famous Indian scout.” Escaped
from the massacre of Ft. Wyoming in 1778. Drew penson. Died in
Tioga Co. N.Y.

Lemuel Stimson, of Weston Mass. Seems to have been at Bunker
Hill with Col. Gardner who was killed there.

I do not know precisely what is wanted but, but presumably the
service. I suppose also the lady thinks that there will be a full
history of the soldier’s experience. If the record should show
anything more than the bare service any particulars would of
course be thankfully received. I imagine that it will be pretty
difficult to verify the service.

H.E. Warner
Bureau of Pensions
Thro Marsh’s Desk"

And so a reply was sent to Jessie Tuttle:

"June 5, 1916,
Mrs. G. E. Tuttle
4650 Fremont Ave South,
Minneapolis, Minn.

In reply to your letter of the 29th instant, you are advised that
under the Act of August 24, 1918, a charge of 15 cents is made

for each sheet photographed, with 25 cents additional for
certification if that is desired. If a certified copy be ordered it
will be necessary to place on the certificate a ten cent internal
revenue documentary stamp. Each stamp should be forwarded
and not included in the remittance.

The proper amount should be forwarded by certified check,
draft, money order or cashier’s check.
In the pension claim, Lemuel Stimson, Widow File 7222,
Revolutionary War, there are eleven sheets to be copied, the
cost would be 1.65 uncertified, or $1.90 certified and a stamp as
described above.

In the pension claim, Moses Barrows, Widow File 18560, Rev-
olutionary War, there are ten sheets to be copied, the cost
would be $1.50 uncertified or $ 1.75 certified and a stamp also.
Very respectfully,
G.M. Saltzgaber
Commissioner "

Handwritten below the last paragraph and off in the is the

“The ten sheets are 6 pieces, namely -
widow’s decla. of Oct 20 1838-
letter of F. S. Durwage dated Boston Sept. 9,1840
town record of Concord Feb. 26, 1839
affidavits of Joshua Johnson &
Experience “ } Oct 17,1838
& unsigned memorandums.
These are the only essential papers.”

But as we shall see, Jessie Tuttle didn’t quite yet obtain her

Friday, September 14, 2007


The BBC genealogy television show “Who Do You Think You
Are?” recently visited the Hazen Garrison House in Haverhill,
Ma. to shoot footage for an upcoming show. They wouldn’t say
which celebrity’s roots might cause a visit to a 300 year old
home in New England.

More in the article here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


A few months after obtaining the Revolutionary Pension Files of
my ancestors Asa Barrows and John Ames from
during a free trial membership, I took out a monthly subscription
and started searching for files of other ancestors and their

One of the first I found was the file of Asa’s brother, Moses. And
there again I encountered Mrs. Jessie H. Tuttle. Notice that the
correspondence took place some years before her inquiry on

“4650 Fremont Ave So.
Minneapolis, Minn.
Sept.4th 1915

Commissioner of Pensions
Dear Sir:-
Will you kindly give me the date of the death of Elizabeth Colby
Barrows who was pensioned as the widow of Moses Barrows

who enlisted in the Rev. from Plympton, Mass. She probably
died in Irasburg, Vt.

Will you also please tell if it plainly states in Moses Barrows
pension record that he died Jan 10, 1823.? If we prove this date
to be wrong, can it be changed in the records?”

I noticed that Jessie didn’t sign her note.

So did the official who sent her a reply:

“Name Unknown,
4650 Fremont Ave, So.
Minneapolis, Minn.

In response to your unsigned letter dated the 4th instant, you
are advised that in her declaration for pension, signed and
sworn before the Judge of the Court of Orleans County,
Vermont, October 20th, 1838, Elizabeth Barrows testified that
her husband died ‘on the tenth day of January A.D. 1823' and
that this Bureau has no authority to change it.

For the date and place of the widow’s death and the name of
the person to whom the arrears of her pension were paid,
application should be made to the Auditor for the Interior
Department, U.S. Treasury Department, giving him all of the
following data:

“Elizabeth Barrows widow of Moses Barrows, Certificate No.
1513, issued August 26, 1848, for $80. per annum from March
4, 1848 under the Act of February 2, 1848, at the Poultney,
Vermont Agency”.

Very Respectfully,
G.M. Saltzgaber

If this was not the first encounter between Mr. Saltzgaber and
Mrs, Tuttle, then it was certainly one among many.
And she wasn’t done with Moses Barrows yet.


I’m going to post the transcriptions of the Barrows
brothers soon as well as eventually those of Amos
Hastings and the Barker brothers, although I may
hold off on my direct ancestor Jonathan Barker’s
brother Benjamin, whose Revolutionary War Pension
File has 85 images!

But before that, let me introduce you to Mrs.
Jessie H. Tuttle.

On image 2 of Asa Barrow’s file is the notation,
written vertically along the inner edge of a notebook
page “Hist. to Jessie H. Tuttle.

I wondered who that might be, and discovered more
on images 9 and 11. For some reason the order of
the correspondence is reversed, so I’ve put them
back in the right order for clarification here.

Image 11:

“3730 Grand Ave, Minneapolis, Minn. Aug.1,1923
Commissioner of Pensions,
Dear Sir: -

Will you please send me record
of pension claim of
Asa Barrows.
born July 28 (1750?) in Plymouth Co, Mass.
married Feb 12, 1781 Content Benson,
died Oxford Co. Maine about May 1834
placed on pension roll (Maine) July 23
1833 aged 83. Pension began May 4, 1831.
Served in Massachusetts.
Thanking you in advance
I am yours very truly
Mrs Jessie H. Tuttle”

A round stamp to the bottom left of Jessie’s signature
shows that her request was received at the Pension
Office on Aug 3 1923

Image 9 is the typewritten reply to Jessie Tuttle’s request:

Image 9 is the typewritten reply to Jessie Tuttle’s request:
“Rev. War Section”
September 18, 1923.
Jessie H. Tuttle,
3730 Grand Ave.
Minneapolis, Minn.
I have to advise you that from the papers in
the Revolutionary War pension claim, S. 16038,it
appears that Asa Barrows, while living in Plymton,
Plymouth County, Massachusetts, enlisted April 1775,
and served as a private eight months in Captain
Joshua Benson’s company, Colonel Cotton’s regiment,
Massachusetts troops.
He enlisted December 1776 and served six weeks
under Lieutenant Joshua Perkins. The last of July
1780, he enlisted and serve two weeks under Captain
Perez Churchill
He was allowed pension on his application exe-
cuted August 28, 1832, while a resident of Hamlin’s
Grove, Oxford County, Maine, aged eighty one years.
There is no data on file as to his family.


The letter is unsigned. A carbon copy, perhaps?

I wondered what relationship Mrs. Tuttle might have to
Asa Barrows. Was she a relative, or researching the Barrows
family for some other purpose?

I wondered briefly and then set the matter aside for now.
Then I downloaded the records of Moses Barrows, Asa’s
brother, and once more encountered the redoubtable
Jessie Tuttle.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Another hour or so this morning at my kb with the mandatory
cup of coffee as I browse the genealogy blogs.

The A*******.com debate continues with posts at Dick
Eastman’s blog and Craig Manson’s careful examination of the
legal issues involved at his site. One thing I must comment on is
that while I don’t agree with Dick’s point of view, I do feel he has
handled some of the less than civil commentary with grace and

Several of his commenters let their anger get the better of
themselves and it added nothing useful to the debate, nor is
Dick deserving of ad hominem attacks.

I did notice at the WorldVitalRecords Blog something that may
be at offshoot of the controversy. In an invitation to genealogists
to upload their gedcom files to their site, they
added this:

“Important: Your family tree is YOUR data. You can remove it
at any time, limit who can see it, collaborate with others and
grow it together, and share it with whomever you choose. We
will never charge others to search and access YOUR data.”

Now I don’t know if they’ve posted that before, but in light of
recent events it certainly caught my attention today.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Astute readers will note that my first entry in this list was for
numbers 1 to 5 and I’m suddenly at number 9.

That’s because Janice and Apple took pity on a befuddled old
man and contributed 6,7, and 8 in comments.

If anyone else is likewise moved to such kindness, feel free to
send your use for a flutaphone right along!

9. Flower holder- for when you visit the ancestral grave. Stick
sharp pointy mouthpiece into the ground and your flowers into
the other end of the flutaphone.

10. Bookmark-When you have to leave your chair for a moment
to ask the librarian to find you another genealogy book in
the stacks.

11. Bookfetcher- That particular tome on a shelf you can’t quite
reach? Using the pointy mouthpiece end, gently rock the book
loose and down.

12. Bookcatcher- See above. Quickly reverse the flutaphone to
catch the falling book on the wide-ended mouth. If the
librarian notices, tell her you are practicing balancing the

13. Eartrumpet- For when a librarian starts yelling. Insert
narrow end in ear after REMOVING the pointy mouthpiece.
Remember, catch any books before they hit the floor if you
were performing uses numbers 11 and/or 12 when the
librarian started yelling. Turn wide end towards librarian
and say “Eh?”

For some esoteric reason, my spellchecker wants to change
flutaphone to glutathione.

Some late night message from an ancestor about chemicals, maybe?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Tim Abbot at Walking the Berkshires did a post on “Beard Envy”
the other day and it put me in mind of a pic that a newfound
Barker family cousin sent me about a month ago.

This is Symonds Epes Barker Jr. He was the son of Symonds
Epes Barker, Sr. whose parents were Jonathan Barker and
Abigail Mitchell. Jonathan was descended from Richard Barker,
one of the first settlers of Andover, Ma.

I’m descended from Jonathan and Abigail’s son Jonathan
through my grandmother Cora Berthella Barker.

So far, this is the only picture of a fully bearded relative, near or
distant that I have seen. My grandfather West grew one
occasionally I think but nothing on the scale of the 19th century

By the way, I asked Tim and his mother’s Barker line is a
different one from mine, but there is a connection through our
Abbot(t) line where we are both descended from Richard Barker
of Andover.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Ok, Janice, I couldn’t come up with 49 genealogy
related uses for a flutaphone.

But there’s one here and more to come among the others.

1. Doorstop- It’s more humane than using dead cats
or dead Wesley Crushers. And it smells better.

2. Windchimes

3. A Habitat trail for Earthworms-All those finger holes.
“The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out…”

4. Tank decoration for guppies- All those finger holes.
“ The fish swim in, the fish swim out…”

5. A defensive weapon-For when that librarian finally snaps
when you ask her to find another dusty volume in the stacks.
Mouthpieces on flutaphones are pointy!!!

To be continued.


Okay, let’s move along to other matters, shall we?

footnoteMaven has given me a “Nice Matters” award
for which I thank her and which I shall proudly display.
It was created by Genevieve Olsen of Bella Enchanted

The only trouble I have is coming up with others to give the
award to, though. Not that I can’t think of anyone nice, just
that there are so many, and then the ones I think of first
have already gotten the award.

Luckily, I’m able to give one to Tim Abbott for his thoughtful
writing on the environment and history as well as for running
his Family Archive Photo Caption Contest. He was the first of
my distant cousins I’ve discovered online and is a gentleman
and a scholar.

The records I’ve found at will keep me busy for
some time. My direct ancestor Jonathan Barker’s pension file is
only thirteen pages long but his brother Benjamin’s is fifty and
there are the Revolutionary War Rolls and Service Records as
well. The Pension File for Amos Hastings, another ancestor, is
thirty pages.

And I going to post it all here, or the transcriptions that is, to
share with my readers.

I can see those hits already plummeting!

Ah well, back to the genealogy mines.