Edit Update: I am way behind on the #52Ancestors Challenge, and I’ve been blogging without looking to see if what I’ve been writing about is on the list of this year’s challenges. In looking at the list tonight, I realized that this blog fits the “Same Name” Challenge of Week 25 (Jun 18-24). Since we are not on an actual time frame to get these done, I dedicate this blog to the #52Ancestors Week 25 Challenge.
This blog is probably going to be more of a rant, but it’s going to also have some important information in it.
Online Family Trees
I am constantly amazed that so many people copy information from one family tree to another without checking the documentation. So many trees on Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, and even on FamilySearch.org have so much unsupported misinformation that it boggles my mind. It’s like everyone that has these trees sees it in someone else’s tree so it must be true…copy copy copy…ugh!!!!!
Then there’s those of us that check the sources attached to those that have sources. Documentation for the wrong person is attached. As is the case in the Hannah Billings Triangle (my name for the research nightmare I just completed).
One of the most difficult things to do when researching someone with the same name, which was extremely common back in the 16 and 1700s, is when records are missing, for whatever reason. (There are many…records burned by Benedict Arnold, or some other fire, didn’t attend a church (never baptized, married by a Justice of the Peace before records were required), baby didn’t survive a day after birth, or died young and only has a field marker to remember them by. The list is really long.) In the case of the Hannah Billings Triangle, two don’t have birth records, two don’t have death records, one had a child and mommy died when the baby would have been about 9 months old and daddy died 4 years later…no other record for the baby to be found, who by the way was also named Hannah Billings, but even if she lived she wouldn’t have been able to get married at the age of three, so that totally rules her out, and keeps this from becoming a four-way nightmare.
So How Does One Go About Sorting Out The Three Hannahs?
Let me start off by saying, when I first started this search there were only two Hannah Billings, about the same age (that’s a guesstimate on my part, as neither of them have birth records). One married John Clark, the other married Eleazer Putnam, and for about 12 hours it looked like they were the same Hannah and she had married twice it just wasn’t recorded either of the Genealogy Books that way.
In “The Billings Family of Connecticut” Hannah Billings married ________ Clarke. Found the marriage record so now ________ Clark is John Clark.
In “History of the Putnam Family” Mrs. Hannah (Williams) Billings married Eleazer Putnam.
Guess which Hannah Billings is married to Eleazer Putnam on almost every tree on Ancestry? To their credit, two of the trees also assumed that Hannah Billings was married to both men. But all of them are WRONG. And they have conflicting documentation that spells it all out, they just aren’t really examining it. This is why it’s important to do your own research (and I started off that way, and cannot for the life of me figure out why everyone doesn’t do it).
Once my brain registered that Hannah Williams married someone named Billings first (and no it didn’t register right away but I was running on sleep deprivation), I tried searching for the _____ Billings that she was married to. I could only find records for one Hannah Williams that married anyone named Billings in that time period (early 1700s) and she married the brother of the Hannah that married John Clark. (His will is signed by him as John Clark not Clarke, but either way can be considered correct for that time period). So that’s how the 3rd Hannah Billings came into play and then was eliminated.
Will the Real Hannah (Williams) Billings Please Stand Up?
Hopefully not. Better to rest in peace wherever you may be buried, which brings me to an interesting problem in the Hannah that married John Clark there is a birth, and marriage record there is a birth record, there is no record for her death, anywhere. Now there are Ancestry trees that do have this Hannah attached to the right spouse, but they show two different dates of death and one of those dates belongs to the Hannah (Williams) Billings that married Eleazer Putnam, the other date has NO documentation and is 2 months later in the same year.
For the Hannah Billings that married Eleazer Putnam, the only record for her is her marriage to Eleazer, then what is in the Putnam book in regards to her death and her age at the time of her death, which does give an approximation for her year of birth, but that wasn’t helpful in finding her birth record either.
So How Do You Differentiate Between The Two?
It came down to marriage dates and the birth of the children:
Hannah Billings married John Clark on 08 April 1725, and they had the following children:
- Timothy; b. 18 Jan 1726/27
- Thankful; b. 29 Mar 1728
- Ebenezer; b. 11 Aug 1731
- Jerusha; b. 24 Aug 1736
- Patience; b. 11 Oct 1738
- John; b. 11 Jan 1740/41
- Elijah; b. 11 May 1744
- Roger; b. 17 Nov 1747
- Mary; b. 23 Apr 1750
So she could not have married Eleazer Putnam on 07 Jan 1730/31.
Where I found the children? In John’s will dated 25 Dec 1759, probated 1760. Found their birth records in “The Barbour Collection” after that.
I’m still working on Mrs. Hannah (Williams) Billings that married Eleazer Putnam, but their children were, according to the Billings article (haven’t finished looking for these children’s records):
- Apphia; b. 09 Oct 1731; d. 1800 (so kind of ”Putnam Family History to furnish the year of death)
- John; b. 13 May 1734; d. 10 Aug 1786
- Charles; b. 13 Oct 1737 (no date of death)
- Eunice; b. 2 Nov 1740; d. young
Because the information on the last listed above, Hannah (Williams) Billings, is so limited I came at this from three different angles:
- First Approach, Straightforward: Looked in all of the usual and unusual places for birth info, death info. Couldn’t find anything other than what is included in this blog.
- Second Approach, What If?: I tried combining one or both together, because in a couple of situations the time line appeared, on the surface to fit. However, the more I used this approach the more I was able to eliminate any of the three of them as being the same person. They are definitely three distinct individuals. It was in using this approach that I discovered the Hannah (Williams) Billings that married Samuel Billings and how she came to be part of the process.
- Third Approach, Process of Elimination: Demonstrated above.
References Used (In No Particular Order):
The New England Historical And Genealogical Register For the Year 1927 Vol LXXXI; The Billings Family of Connecticut by Rev. Creighton Spencer-Mounsey. Published by the N.E. Historical /Genealogical at the Robert Henry Eddy Memorial Rooms, Boston; PG 163, #6. Available at the AmericanAncestors.
Republished version the reference above: Roberts, Gary Boyd, (Selected & Introduced by) (1983); Genealogies of Connecticut Families: From the New England HIstorical and Genealogical Register, Vol 1, Adams-Gates; Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, Maryland; Retrieved from: https://tinyurl.com/y9yhks8o (Note; what page is available for view is dependent on what Google lets you see)
Wheeler, Richard Anson; (1900); History of the Town of Stonington, County of New London, Connecticut, from its first settlement in 1649 to 1900; Press of the Day Publishing Company, New London, Conn.; PG 237, #14; Retrieved from https://archive.org/stream/historyoftownofs00whee_1#page/n11
Putnam, Eben (1891). A History of the Putnam Family in England and America; The Salem Press Publishing and Printing Co., Salem, Massachusetts; PG 143-144, #156; https://archive.org/stream/ahistoryputnamf01putngoog#page/n242
Both marriages conveniently on the same page: Ancestry.com. Connecticut, Town Marriage Records, pre-1870 (Barbour Collection) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006. Original data: White, Lorraine Cook, ed. The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records. Vol. 1-55. Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1994-2002. View with paid subscription (and I’m still alive to pay for it): https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/1062/VBMDUSACT1634_0035-0037/61639
John Clark’s Will: Ancestry.com. Connecticut, Wills and Probate Records, 1609-1999 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Connecticut County, District and Probate Courts. View with paid subscription: https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/9049/007629722_00023/759765
Birth Records for the Clark children (Note: they are in alphabetical order with Ebenezer on the first page of the link, click to the next pages (4 total) to see the other children: Ancestry.com. Connecticut Town Birth Records, pre-1870 (Barbour Collection)[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.
Original data: White, Lorraine Cook, ed. The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records. Vol. 1-55. Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1994-2002. View with paid subscription: https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/1034/VBMDUSACT1634_0035-0068?pid=550140
If I missed a reference, please let me know. I will be happy to add it to the list.