Sunday, November 6, 2016

I Just Posted Little Elizabeth Ann Portus Memorial on Find A Grave

I don't know where my head is sometimes. I wrote a blog post on Thursday, August 11, 2016 called Little Elizabeth Ann Portus Vamplew died barely one year old and it never dawned on me to add a memorial for her onto Find A Grave. Well, better late than never. Her memorial is #172299804. 

My husband and I have been to the churchyard. We couldn't find a headstone. The churchyard has virtually been cleared except for a small patch of trees and bramble. I thought maybe her headstone was in there, but cousin Allan went there when the leaves were off the trees and couldn't find a stone either. Or maybe there never was one because  her parents couldn't afford one.

Besides not doing a Find A Grave memorial, I wrote that whole blog post about her from the marriage of her parents John Portas and Mary Ann Vamplew, to her birth, baptism, and death, yet never included one beautiful item...the funeral card. How could I miss that? It was in the folder with all the other images for the post. My cousin Sharon has this funeral card and all I have is the image of it. That's okay by me, at least someone in the family has kept it safe.

The card is beautifully embossed. I believe it is cut out and pasted onto a piece of black card stock. They don't make this type of card anymore and I think they should. Her name on this card is in initials which are Elizabeth Ann Vamplew Portus.


In Affectionate Remembrance of
E. A. V. PORTUS
who departed this life
NOVEMBER THE 16th, 1864,
AGED 6 MONTHS.
––––––
This lovely bud, so young, so fair,
Called hence by early doom;
Just came to show how sweet a flower,
In Paradise would bloom.




Friday, October 7, 2016

Dinah Portas Second Daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth

Dinah PORTAS is the daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth (Moor) Portas. There is nothing special or unusual about her that causes me to write other than she is also the older sister of Joseph a shepherd from Lambcroft.

I am of the thinking, if I write about Joseph and Elizabeth's children, maybe, just maybe, I can figure out where and when Joseph and Elizabeth are buried. The most obvious place of burial would be Marshchapel where their last child was baptized in 1756, but I've been through the parish records and bishop's transcripts so many times and have found nothing. That doesn't mean the burial of one, possibly both, isn't there, it just means I haven't found anything. I wrote a little about the quest on May 16, 2012 – Hunting and Gathering in the Family History Library – just five months before I found Joseph's baptism.

BAPTIZED
Dinah was baptized in Wyham cum Cadeby, Lincolnshire (Lincs), England, on 10 Oct 1742, 10 years before brother Joseph. She was the second child/daughter born to Joseph and Elizabeth. The date is the Julian calendar year.




Wyham cum Cadeby parish church is dedicated to All Saints
which was restored around 1886. It is an ancient building.
You can find information on
 Wyham cum Cadeby on Rootsweb.
This church image is by Paul 
Fenwick and
can be found on Lincolnshire Church Photographs.

MARRIAGE
Dinah married Matthew WARDALL in Fulstow, Lincs, on 18 Jul 1770. She was fairly old by this time - 28. I wonder if she felt like Charlotte Lucas the best friend of Elizabeth Bennett in "Pride and Prejudice" that she must marry Mr. Collins or be left with nothing. That is something each woman had to endure back then.



Matthew and Dinah had five known children: Matthew, Faith, Thomas, Ann, and Christopher. They didn't follow the naming practices otherwise Joseph would have been named second son not Thomas. So maybe there were more children I haven't found. There is a five-year gap between Ann and Christopher for possibly containing more children. All the children were baptized in Fulstow, Lincs.


ABOUT MATTHEW
Matthew was baptized in Healing, Lincs, on 7 Jul 1742 to Thomas and Ann Wardall. Healing is a village about 17 miles north of Fulstow.


Baptism record on Lincs to the Past, a website owned by the Lincolnshire Archives.
Healing parish church is dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul.
You can find information on Healing on Wikipedia.
This church image is by Paul Fenwick and
can be found on Lincolnshire Church Photographs.

Matthew, a farmer, was buried in Fulstow on 4 Apr 1801 at age 57. In his Last Will and Testament found on a family member's website, Matthew leaves to his only living son, Thomas, "all cottages, closes, land, etc. situated in the several parishes of Theddlethorpe or elsewhere in the county of Lincoln." Matthew must have done well for himself with being a "farmer" and all this property being left to his son. I don't know who else received from the will. I know daughter Ann was still alive, but have no idea if Faith was also. 



Fulstow parish church is an ancient church dedicated to St. Lawrence. 
It is believed this church dates back to the 1200s. 
BURIAL
Dinah didn't stay in Fulstow after Matthew died. She must have moved in with her daughter Ann who was living in Theddlethorpe about 15 miles southeast of Fulstow. Dinah died at age 64 and was buried in All Saints churchyard on 1 Apr 1807.

All Saints, Theddlethorpe parish church burial record on Lincs to the Past,
a website owned by the Lincolnshire Archives.
All Saints parish church. Image by Wendy Parkinson
and can be found online at Lincolnshire Church Photographs.

AM I CONFUSED OR WHAT?
What do you think? Joseph and Elizabeth could have been buried in Fulstow or Marshchapel. Another possibility would be Joseph buried in Marshchapel and Elizabeth buried somewhere else where one of her daughters lived. I don't think it could be Theddlethorpe since Dinah wasn't there until after 1801 when Matthew died. 

I have no clue if Joseph died before his wife or not. So where and when did he go last? Elizabeth's last son was born in 1756 so we know she was alive then. She could have lived up to about 1800, but most likely not. I have a feeling I'll be doing a little more hunting. This will take more time. Heck, it's only been about 10 years since I first started looking.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fifth Great Uncle Joseph Portas a Shepherd

OUT OF THE BLUE
Ever since I met Margaret – Portas researcher – I pretty much stayed away from gathering Portas families from her parishes. Why bother when she had it all and I could always reference to her? And then this e-mail came which changed my family tree.

On Sep 29, 2012, at 06:03 AM, cousin Margaret wrote:

Hi Karen,
I hope I can catch you with this before you go to SLC, you didn't say what date you were going, but I know its usually in October. Well here goes.
Guess what.  The Joseph and Ann that I gave you last time, with a son William born Kelstern who married Susannah Wightman...

Well  it turns out that this Joseph is actually yours, son of Joseph and Elizabeth Moore.
Joseph (M) Ann Butters on 25.5.1780 at Marshchapel by Banns wit. John Butters and Thomas Swaby.
Ann Butters was born c.1752 buried 30.12.1844 age 92 at Fulstow.
Joseph and Ann had 8 children (I am sure you have them. 5 of which were bap. at Marshchapel. but the last Three i.e. William 17.11.1793 who married Susannah Wightman was bap at Kelstern.  Thomas 11.5.1796 was bap at Beelsby and Ann 17.6.1799 was bap at Binbrook, she was buried 2.8.1803 age 3 at Kelstern.
Joseph Portas was buried 21.9.1801 age 50 a Shepherd of Lambcroft (Kelstern).
1841 Census. Fulstow
Ann Portas 89 living with Richard Dixon 64 and Bridget Dixon 56.

I was going on my annual Salt Lake City family history library trip a little over a week later. The e-mail came just in time for me to add it to my priority "To-Get" list. For a long time I was hoping to find Joseph's burial information and this e-mail couldn't have come at a better time. I still don't know what prompted her to send it. I was feeling lucky...the genealogy gods were looking down at me!

Who would have thought an e-mail as innocent as this one would ultimately solve a couple mysteries on the same day and in the same roll of film. Not only did it clear up a mystery of how Joseph Portas who married Ann Butters was connected to my family, but I found the long-time hunted 1716 baptism of another Joseph Portas – my 5x-great grandfather and gained a 7th cousin – Margaret!


KELSTERN AND LAMBCROFT
Back in the 18th Century, the hamlet of Kelstern evidently administered religious rights to Lambcroft. The present-day Kelstern, tucked into the Wold Hills, really isn't more than a few houses, a manor home, and parish church. It is the village cousin Margaret's Portas family had connections. I was hoping to find my connection to Margaret's family, too. Her family had a sizable-year gap – 1711-1718 – between their children and we believed my 5x great grandfather would fit nicely into that slot. Anyway, you can read about the results of my 8-year-plus quest for his baptism here.

This is the only map that shows Lambcroft. There seems to be a couple cottages there.
From the 1824 ordnance survey map put out by Cassini Historical Map, Old Series #113. 

BAPTIZED
With the revelation that Joseph was the son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Moor) PORTAS, he has moved into my family tree as my 5x great uncle. Joseph was baptized 18 Aug 1752 in Marshchapel. He is brother to my 4th great grandfather William (Elizabeth Knight)



BURIAL
According to his 1802 burial record at St. Faith's churchyard in Kelstern, he was a shepherd at Lambcroft which is no longer a hamlet and possibly wasn't much of one either back in 1802. Joseph was buried on 21 Sep 1802 at 50 years of age.

Note: above his burial entry is daughter Ann's, 3 yrs old buried 2 Aug.
St. Faith's church. Image by Paul Fenwick and can be found on
Lincolnshire Church Photographs.
MARRIAGE
Joseph married Ann BUTTERS by Banns on 25 May 1780 in Marshchapel at St. Mary church. And it is there, in Marshchapel, they had five of their eight-known children. 


Hard to see the date, but it is a 25.
St. Mary church. Image by Paul Fenwick and can be found on
Lincolnshire Church Photographs. 
ABOUT ANN
Ann Butters was baptized at St. Leonard parish church in South Cockerington on 4 Apr 1756 to Thomas and Eleanor. South Cockerington is a "marsh" village about 12 miles south of Marshchapel.
Baptism record on Lincs to the Past a website owned by the Lincolnshire Archives.

St. Leonard church. Image by Paul Fenwick and can be found on
Lincolnshire Church Photographs.
Joseph and Ann were married 22 years. They had eight known children: Mary, Elizabeth, Dinah, David, John, William, Thomas, and Ann. There is one gap of five years between fifth and sixth child where one or more could be born, but I haven't found any to fill the spot(s) yet. Their first five children were baptized in Marshchapel, the sixth child William was baptized in Kelstern, the seventh Thomas baptized in Beelsby, and their eighth Ann was baptized in Binbrook.

I have no idea what became of Ann during the 39 years after Joseph died. I know a few of her children moved away to other parishes. It appears Ann did not remarry because in the 1841 UK Census taken in Fulstow we pick up again with Ann Portus. She is 89 years old and is living in the Richard and Bridget Dixon household. At first thought, Bridget could be a daughter, but in Margaret's e-mail she said Bridget was from the family MASON and not a PORTAS. Since I also have no record of a daughter Bridget, I can only guess Ann is living with the Dixons possibly as a housekeeper or just as a benevolent jester on the part of the Dixons. She is not listed as a "pauper."


Ann is buried in the churchyard of St. Lawrence in Fulstow on 30 Dec 1844. She is 92. Perhaps no one knew her husband was buried in Kelstern.


Ancient church dedicated to St. Lawrence. It is believed this church
dates back to the 1200s. Below in the porch, on either side of the doorway,
stand two effigies, one of a knight and the other of his lady.
Images by me on a 2014 trip.





Sunday, September 18, 2016

William Portas and Elizabeth Knight: A Short Story

Sometimes as I wonder through my files and images, I come across items I haven't paid that much attention to for awhile or I have some to fill in. I must have gone off on some other wild goose chase and never came back.

Back in 2014, when Bob and I were in Lincolnshire, England visiting cousins and doing family research, we stopped at the North Coates parish church to get pictures of the churchyard and the headstone of my fourth great grandparents William and Elizabeth (Knight) Portas. About two years ago I wrote a blog posting about the visit ... Don’t Do What I Did When Visiting a Parish Church and Graveyard where, after coming home to Illinois, I discovered I didn't get the headstone image I was seeking. Dah!


I found this note on William's family card in my tree program:
Attention: BAPTISM information from cousin Margaret on 23 Jul 2010 email - "Although I had the same bap date as you i.e. 9 Aug 1761 this in fact does not belong to Elizabeth with parents David and Susannah. The IGI shows the parents as a William Portas and Ann?"
The sentence about IGI seems to be a mistake...should be "parents as a William and Ann Knight."

Cousin Margaret and I had been looking for Elizabeth's parents. We tried the naming practice first...William as first son, so father's father should be William. Nope...he should have been named Joseph but wasn't. David is second son, so mother's father should be David. And that is what we were originally going by because the name David as far as we knew, showed up first at this time in my Portas family. Well as it turns out, William is Elizabeth's father's name. I could go a little further -- third son Joseph should be named after his father...nope...he is named after his paternal grandfather! So the whole naming practice theory is out the window with this family.


Even though I don't have a lot of information on my 4x great grandparents, I can write about what I know so far. Maybe someone out there can fill in a few blanks.

BAPTISM
William is the son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Moor) Portas of Marshchapel, Lincs. He was baptized 9 Apr 1754 at St. Mary's church.
Baptized   9th of Apr  William Son of Joseph and Elizabeth Portas in St. Mary's church, Marshchapel.
This image of St. Mary's was taken by me.
For some reason we didn't go into the churchyard.
There may have been a wedding going on when we were there.
Image of St. Mary's was taken by Paul Fenwick.
It is on Lincolnshire Church Photographs.
Elizabeth, the daughter of William and Ann Knight, was baptized 9 Aug 1761 in St. Mary's church. I could only find this typed transcript on film so far in my travels to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. I've got it on my To-Do list for my next trip. So for now, I have to go with what I have.




MARRIAGE
William married Elizabeth Knight on 1 July 1784, in St. Mary's. I found their marriage record as well as the banns announcement record.


Banns record - read at
St. Mary's Church, Marshchapel
Marriage record - St. Mary's Church, Marshchapel 1 July 1784
In this marriage there were nine children all baptized in North Coates which isn't too far from Marshchapel. Both communities are marsh towns. Born were: William, David, Joseph (my 3x great grandfather), Anne, Dinah, Sarah, Jane, Thomas, and John. There were no big gaps in the dates between baptisms, so I'm confident there weren't any more children.

BURIAL
William was buried 19 Jul 1829 at age 74. Elizabeth was buried 21 Dec 1847 at age 86. Both are buried in the St. Nicholas churchyard, North Coates. Their monument has both William and Elizabeth's names, date of death and how old they are. It looks to be a slate stone. Their burial information can be found on Find A Grave.




Image was taken by Roy Jamson who gave it
to me to put on Find A Grave.
CENSUS
William doesn't show up on any census since he died 1829, but I found Elizabeth on the 1841 Census living in Grainthorpe living with her daughter Jane Lowis. Ancestry.com indexed her name as "Portels." So much for searches on Ancestry. I wouldn't have found her there except I was tracking her daughter Jane and family.

The census is the only one Elizabeth was on since she died about six years later. It shows Elizabeth 79 - pauper. Death record gave her "abode" as Binbrook. She could have been staying with another child at the time of her death.



OCCUPATION
William and Elizabeth lived in two villages less than three miles apart during their lifetime. I have no idea what type of occupation was William's. I have found their signatures on many church records as witnesses to marriages, but never as a church warden or curate.

I will continue to add to their story as I find information.



Sunday, August 21, 2016

I Didn’t Know Syllina's Maiden Name Showed Up in Her Last Will & Testament

Remember Syllina “What’s Her Name?” my 7th great grandmother who was married to William Portas – blog post November 3, 2013? Well, I've been doing a little revisiting of previous blog posts and discovered something I hadn't picked up on before.

As we found out in the blog post of July 15, 2014 her maiden name is Birket or Burket/Berket. We uncovered it by UV light on the original Wold Newton, Lincolnshire, Parish Register. Spelling doesn’t mean much because it changes oh so often in these old records.

Recently I revisited the blog post of April 5, 2014 which talks about her Last Will and Testament of 1717. Wills are suppose to give you a good clue to various family members whether they are spouses, children, siblings, or even parents. Most of the time the Testator would “spell” out how they are connected…my dear husband/wife; my son/daughter, etc. Sometimes the Wills bequeath money or belongings or land to friends or servants, but there would be an adjective describing how they are connected…my good friend and partner; my devoted servant. You really have to pay attention to the detail and check out the connections between all of the names and the deceased. Well I did pay attention to two names in Syllina’s Will, but there was no identifier.

SYLLINA'S MAIDEN NAME SHOWS UP
Not knowing until July 2014 what Syllina’s maiden name was, I wasn’t aware of a connection of one of the names in her Will until just recently when I revisited the transcript. In my post of April 5, 2014 further down in the text I explained the DISPERSEMENT… I wrote “Sillenia doesn’t distinguish what connection she has to two more people named further on – John Berkett(?) and Elizabeth Smith who received 10 Shillings a piece. Could they have been her servants? They must have been special to her to be named in her Will.” Well, low and behold, John Berkett turns out to be her brother!

Now I’m suspecting Elizabeth Smith could be her sister. I did go through the Parish Reg. pages on Lincs to the Past, and searched FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com….nothing showed up on any site. The family could have moved away sometime after 1653 prior to Elizabeth being born and when the last “known” child was baptized and buried in Ludborough. I might find her somewhere in my search wanderings, but I suspect not any time soon.

So I’m at a loss for Elizabeth Smith, but I know who John is. That's not bad for a couple hours sleuthing.


 
St. Mary's church in Ludborough, where John and Margaret Birket's first five children were baptized. According to Wikipedia.org "The parish church, dedicated to St. Mary, retains elements from the 13th to the 15th century but was substantially renovated by James Fowler in 1858. Following the lengthy closure for renovation the church was re-opened on 1 May 1860." (photos by me)


Named after Syllina’s father John, her brother John was baptized on 7 Feb 1646 in St. Mary's church, Ludborough, Lincolnshire, England. Syllina was baptized 20 Dec 1648 and is buried in Tetney. Hannah was baptized 4 Nov 1651 and Adsolon and Dinah were baptized 2 Jan 1653. Dinah was buried the following March. I’m not sure if Adsolon and Dinah were twins or not, but most likely. Those are all the children I could find for John and Margaret Birket of Ludborough. It’s interesting there isn’t a daughter named Margaret. I guess the family didn’t practice the naming patterns.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

An update: Little Elizabeth Ann Portus Vamplew died barely one year old

I was going through a few images and came across one of my great grandmother's cottage hymn book. On the inside cover is a note "Elizabeth Ann Vanplew Portos  Boarn Ap 27-64 & Departed this life Novem. 16-64" and on the opposite page "Mary Ann Vanplue Portus Tomby Nr Coningsby Lincolnshire"
The COTTAGE HYMN BOOK, suitable both FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP and PRIVATE USE
The book is in the possession of cousin Sharon. I had a photo copy of the inside cover, but I never saw the actual book until I visited Sharon one day and we were looking over her cache of family stuff. I was quite taken by it and couldn't help but think about Mary Ann losing her child not one year old. What a hard time that must have been. No wonder she put the information in her little book as a reminder for prayer.

FIRST BORN
Elizabeth Ann was the first child born to Mary Ann Vamplew of Tumby Woodside, Lincolnshire, England and John Portus of Tumby which isn't too far away. 

[added 15 Sep] Notice on the "Entry of Birth" just added to this blog, there is no father listed, just the mother – Mary Ann. Elizabeth Ann's birth wasn't registered until 12 May 1864 even though she was born towards the end of April. There wasn't a set amount of days before the registration had to be made until 1874 when six weeks was the deadline. Some people still thought it was the church's responsibility to register. Besides all this, my people in Lincolnshire lived in somewhat rural area; the means of traveling to the Registration office wasn't as easy as it is today; time passed. Horncastle was about 8 miles away from Tumby by buggy. Someone would have had to take off work and that would have taken pretty much of the day for travel.




Little Elizabeth Ann was born 27 April 1864, and on 19 June was baptized in St. Peter's, the Wildmore parish church which is south of Tumby Woodside. 
St. Peter's is also referred to as Parish of Thornton-le-Fen and has been called "Frog Hall" since it is near some drains on the fen and during services the sounds of frogs croaking outside was dominant.
Baptisms solemnized in the Parish of Thornton le Fen in the County of Lincoln in the year 1864.   June 19th / Elizabeth Ann Portus illegit: dau of / Mary Ann / Vamplew / Tumby Woodside / Domestic Servant / S. George Kerr   P. Curate
MARRIAGE OF PARENTS
Mary Ann was a domestic servant and John was a farm labourer. As so many times during my research, I have come across pre-marriage births within my family history. This was no exception except, but when they settled in Lake County, Illinois, they told everyone they were married in 1863, when actually they didn't marry until 1 Sep 1864 five months after Elizabeth Ann was born. I guess settling so far away from home, in a new land, it really didn't occur to them 146 years later, someone would know the truth.

This scenario isn't all that unusual. John and Mary Ann were working and according to protocol, couldn't leave to be married less they forfeit their job and income. I suspect John waited until his indenture was completed and then they married making the child legally his.


1864 Marriage solemized at
Chapel in the Chapelry of Thornton le Fen in the County of Lincoln.
Thursday Sept 1st / John Portus  Mary Ann Vamplew / both of full age / Bachelor  Spinster / Labourer  (note: no occupation for Mary Ann) / Part of Tumby Allot / William Portus (father of groom)  James Vamplew (father of bride)/ both fathers are labourers. The marriage was by Banns.  Witnesses: James Vamplew and Jane Portus

ELIZABETH ANN'S DEATH
About three months after Elizabeth Ann was baptized, her mother and father married. The family was complete and hopefully happy to be. It wasn't more than two months after John and Mary Ann were married that Elizabeth Ann died.


1864 Death in the Sub-district of Tattershall in the County of Lincoln.
Sixteenth November 1864 Coningsby / Elizabeth Ann Portus Vamplew /
Female / 6 months / Daughter of Mary Ann Vamplew now the wife of John Portus Farm Labourer / (cause) Teething Convulsions not certified / X The mark of Maria Stamper  Present at the death  Coningsby / Eighteenth November 1864 

Many babies in those days died of "teething convulsions" because they didn't know how to treat the high temperatures which caused the convulsions. This must have been devastating for both Mary Ann and John. I can't imagine losing a child and so young, too.

Elizabeth Ann is buried in the St. Michael's churchyard, Coningsby. When Bob and I were there a few years ago, we couldn't find any marker or headstone for her. Cousin Alan searched a wooded area in the churchyard just last year before the leaves came out; he found nothing. So if she had a marker of some sort, it isn't there anymore.


St. Michaels Parish church in Coningsby, Lincolnshire, England
John and Mary Ann had three more children in Lincolnshire before they immigrated in 1870 to the United States and settled in Diamond Lake, Lake County, Illinois. Five years later, John's parents would migrate to the U.S. and settle in Garfield, Kansas.



Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Earlier Colonial Ancestors in Rhode Island

OLD COMMONS BURYING GROUND - Little Compton 
On our way home from Cape Cod the beginning of June, it was a must to do a little family history and cemetery searching in Rhode Island. My family was in this state very early before the Revolutionary War. Our first stop was Little Compton which is on the south-eastern shore; Massachusetts borders on the east. The day we were there it was beautiful but a little windy.
Beautiful day in Little Compton shore.
All along the roads in Little Compton we saw these wonderful stone fences.
The town of Little Compton isn't very big; it was easy to find the Old Commons Burial Ground where there are many Brownells who are connected to our family, too. 

The four-square Old Commons Burial Ground is across Commons St. street from the
triangular United Congregational Church cemetery.

This time we were looking for my 6x great grandfather's grave dating to early 1700s. Jonathan Blackman, b. 1688 and died 1717 at age 29. He married Susannah Palmer in 1713. She was his second wife. They are the parents of two (known) children, one of which is my 5x great grandmother, Mary b. 1715 who married Thomas Brownell in 1734.

Forth great grandmother, Mary Brownell, born about 1746 to Thomas and Mary (Blackman) in Little Compton married Abel Fowler, Sr. 3 June 1770 in Exeter, Kent Co., Rhode Island. My last posting shows where Abel and Mary are buried in Center White Creek, New York. And, Mary's mother Mary was buried in North Pownal, Vermont. I have yet to discover and prove where Thomas was buried in 1756.

We didn't find Jonathan's headstone, so I went on the web and found the Rhode Island Historic Cemeteries website where there was a nice image of it. I don't know when this image below was taken, but most of the headstones in this cemetery weren't a nice and clean when we were there. I thank whoever took the time to clean the stone and image it for others to see.
"Here lyeth the Body of Jonathan Blackman who dyed October the 8 1716 aged 28 years."
[Found on Rhode Island Historic Cemeteries site.]

RHODE ISLAND HISTORIC CEMETERY #187 - South Kingstown
Our next stop took us straight west of Newport to southeastern South Kingstown, Washington County. This is where we the grave of my oldest (proven) Fowler ancestor is buried. Isaac Fowler was born around 1696 in South Kingston. He married Mary Hopkins in 1720 and we know of six children being born to them. One of those children was Simeon who is buried in the Fowler Private Burying Ground in Center White Creek, New York. Cousin Kevin and I have speculated, but not proven, who Isaac's parents could be. That is the next quest in our research -- is John or Christopher his father? Or could it be a Thomas or Simeon? What fun is in store for me. What an interesting little adventure it was that started out in the courthouse.

I knew from several accounts, the little cemetery was situated on private land in some one's backyard. One such account was written in the South County Independent on 18 May 2000.
SOUTH KINGSTOWN GRAVES LAW ALREADY AFFECTING HOMEOWNERS
South County Independent, May 18, 2000
By Linda C. Baily, Independent Staff Writer
SOUTH KINGSTOWN- Dan Martin was simply clearing some brush in his backyard in Tefft Hill when he stumbled onto a cemetery. As many Rhode Islanders know, this is not an uncommon event.
 But with the town's new graves ordinance, property owners who find remains must immediately stop any work in the area and take steps to protect the remains, which can include paying for a consultant to conductan archaeological investigation.
 According to John Sterling, author of "R.I. Historical Cemeteries," Rhode Island differs from other New England states in that it did not have many large town cemeteries. Instead, the state is littered with many small family cemeteries, which has caused problems for homeowners and developers alike. Town and state legislation tackling the issue places the burden of excavation and more on the property owner.
 Martin discovered the small cemetery in the spring of 1992 in the rear third of his half-acre parcel marked off by wire and a broken-down wooden fence. Inside the marked-off area he discovered four roughly cut stones,which appeared to him to be Quaker in style.
 Curiosity got the better of Martin, who began to investigate his discovery. He invited state Rep. Leona Kelly (R-Dist. 49) of South Kingstown to look at the site, and then contacted Craig Anthony afterlearning of his work with the oldest gravestone in Rhode Island. Martin even registered the cemetery as an unknown historical cemetery, No. 187, unknown because at that time there was no reliable way to fix a name tothe occupants, though there was substantial belief that the remains were members of the Tefft family who lived in the area for many years.
 Martin sent a bone that he had found to Anthony, who confirmed with the state medical examiner that it was, indeed, a human femur. The Tefft family had a reunion in South County and reburied the bone with a smallceremony.
 The real problems started for the Martins, however, when they wanted to sell the land and move. According to Dan Martin, the property was on the market for only two days when they got a bid that was acceptable from apotential buyer. The sale was going along smoothly until two days before the closing when the buyer backed out because the Martins could no longer offer a clear title on the land because of the cemetery. Martin'sdiscovery had placed restrictions and easements on the land so that the ground could not be disturbed within 25 feet and any ancestors of the remains could come onto the property to pay their respects.
 Martin was forced to hire an archaeologist to excavate the site and delineate the boundaries of the burials. "They dug up my entire yard," said Martin. "They found no additional evidence of remains or graveshafts."
 When Sterling was invited to the scene he discovered a headstone with "I.F. April 20, 1773" carved into it, the first real clue as to who was interred there.
 With a little research, Sterling discovered with relatively high certainty that the remains are that of Isaac Fowler, the grave to his left is his wife Mary Hopkins and at her feet is probably one of theirchildren. Fowler had purchased the property from Steven Tefft of Newport for 3,000 pounds. His son, Simeon Fowler, inherited the land at his death. Simeon turned around and sold the property back to the Tefft family for only 150 pounds. Martin was relieved to determine who was there and "to put a name to historical cemetery No. 187."
 Sterling was also able to find Isaac Fowler's will, with all sorts of interesting revelations about the man and his family. According to Sterling, "This is a classic case where the crude lettering on afieldstone-marked grave led to the records that led to the records that prove who is buried in an early burial ground."
 "We're very happy, regardless of the difficulties we had," said Martin, whose home has finally been sold after three or four deals fell through because of the cemetery. "As a result of the town ordinance and statelaw, we know who there," said Martin, adding, "I would expect the same in future years."
 Although it turned out to be a happy ending for the Martins, it was an extremely expensive process. They had to pay two mortgage payments, taxes and insurance on two houses and a home equity loan for nearly half a year because the house wouldn't sell with the restrictions of the cemetery. The archaeologist cost about $1,700, the backhoe to excavate cost $650 and the Martins are paying $1,200 as part of their purchase agreement to fix the landscaping in the back yard where the property was excavated.

The town clerk showed us an index of the historic cemeteries. Isaac Fowler is buried in historic cemetery #187, but she couldn't tell us where it was located. So we went to another office where a very nice clerk got out the city plat map which had all the historic cemeteries marked on it. She also printed off an assessment sheet giving the address and name of the current property owners. We set our GPS in the car, and off we went. I was tingling with excitement.

Isaac Fowler is buried in historic cemetery #187 in the backyard on lot #32.
We drove into a nice well-manicured subdivision and found the house on lot 32. Bob went up to the door and a woman answered. She thanked us for asking to see the little cemetery and told us it was around back. We were welcome to go back there. Her husband was in the yard, too and he came over to talk to us. I thanked him for taking such nice care of this ancient burying ground. 


There were several "stones" marking graves. None of the stones had any writing on them except the one leaning up against the tree which very faintly I could see 73. This was the stone mentioned in the account by Linda C. Baily, staff writer, in 2000.


The stone's image was found on Rhode Island Historic Cemeteries website. Whoever took this picture did a wonderful thing for us family historians. Seeing this small cemetery was really a thrill to me. I have been wanting to visit for quite a number of years after seeing it on the web so many times in my searches.


South Kingstown was the priority stop. I can check that off on my To-Do list, yet I wish I had time for more research in Rhode Island. I have ancestors in Newport, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Providence, and who knows where else in this little state. We needed more time, but not to be had on this trip as we had to get back home to Illinois. We did what we could in the time we had.