Friday, January 25, 2013

Correcting A Birthplace for Betsey

Just finding a family member's name and information in a book or online family tree isn't enough, researchers should follow up on the information to check its veracity.  This additional step, while time-consuming, can result in new insights into your ancestor's lives.  Censuses, tax records, lineage papers, and town histories combine to make a case for a corrected birthplace for this ancestor

Elizabeth Kennicott was born 16 Oct 1801 in Northfield (now Edinburg), Saratoga County, New York.  She married James Wescott Whitman on 17 Oct 1819, at Avon, Ontario County (now Livingston), New York.[1]  She died 19 June 1873 at Oakfield.[2] Known as Betsey, she was the eldest daughter of twelve children to John Kennicott and Elizabeth Reynolds.[3]  Her parents and grandparents moved in 1798 from Warren, Rhode Island, to Saratoga and Rensselaer counties in New York.[4]  Betsey’s parents lived in Providence, Saratoga County, in 1799 and 1800, then moved to Pittstown, Rensselaer County by 1802 or 1803 to where Betsey’s grandparents, Daniel and Hannah (Kent) Kinnicut [sic] were living.[5]  While some family and online sources put Betsey’s birthplace as Genesee County, New York, it would appear from the census and tax records that Betsey was more likely born in Northfield (now Edinburg), Saratoga County on 16 Oct 1801.  Tax and census records show that John Kennicutt owned property in Providence, Saratoga County, in 1799 and 1800, and then owned property in Northfield from 1801 to 1803.  In each year, John paid tax on property worth $465, making it likely that he owned the same property in those years and that the town lines moved rather than him.  In fact, Northfield was formed from the town of Providence on 13 March 1801, and Betsey was born in October of the same year, so she is therefore more likely to have been born in Northfield.  Later, when residents of the town found that another city in New York was named Northfield, the town was renamed Edinburg.[6]  Betsey’s parents and grandfather Daniel all moved together to Avon, Ontario County (now Livingston), New York, sometime between 1810 and 1819.[7]  Young Betsey grew up with her grandfather Daniel nearby during nearly all of her youth, and perhaps heard stories of his time as a militia man from Rhode Island in the American Revolution.[8]  The Revolutionary War was only within two generations for Betsey, which made hers and her parents’ lives part of the great American experiment in those first years.  Betsey knew her grandfather Daniel until his death in April 1817, when she was about 16 years old.[9] 


[1] For Elizabeth’s name and parentage, see:  Whitman. Celia Orpha Whitman Collection.  “Family Record of John Kennicott” side note reads, “The copy of this record was sent to me, Celia by Anna E. Whitman [daughter of James and Elizabeth (Kennicott) Whitman].”  See also as “Betsey:” “Copy of Kinnicutt Record,” Katie Hoyt Armstrong Membership application (1932), no. 279722, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Library (DAR), Siemes Center, Washington, DC.  Attached to patriot Daniel Kinnicutt, ancestor no. A065393. For marriage date and place, see: Edward Whitman Civil War Pension (Co. H, 8th New York Heavy Artillery), Mother’s application 212503, certificate 164834; Father’s application 212503, certficate164834.  Records of the Veterans Administration, RG 15, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC (NARA).  Claim of Mother for Pension (20 June 1865) reads, "... that she was married to said James W. Whitman at Avon in the State of New York on or about the 17th day of October 1819, by Judge Riggs that she knows of no record evidence of said marriage..."  For further evidence of Elizabeth’s maiden name, see:  Town Clerks´ Registers of Men Who Served in the Civil War, ca 1861-1865, New York State Archives, Collection Number: (N-Ar)13774; box 25; roll 15, dated 1865-1866. [Partial transcription] “Name: Whitman, Albert Edward…  Names of Parents and Previous Occupation:  James W. [,] Elizabeth Kennicott [,] Clerk.  …” [Note: The instructions for town clerks, located at the front of the volume, instructed that maiden names of mothers be included, therefore concluded that Kennicott is Elizabeth Whitman's maiden name.]
[2] Hayes, Rev. Charles Wells, M. A.  St. Michael's Church Parish Register, Oakfield, Genesee County, New York, Sixth Edition, Revised.  FHL film 1,378,696.  “Baptisms” p. 50 – 51, “Burials” p. 120 – 121. The register notes that “entries have been made by the Rev. James R. Coe from such information as he could obtain.  The record is of course imperfect.” See also: Mrs. James Whitman obituary, Progressive Batavian, June 27, 1873.
[3] Whitman. Celia Orpha Whitman Collection.  See also:  Copy of Kinnicutt Record,” Katie Hoyt Armstrong Membership application (1932), no. 279722, DAR Library.  Research note: The Kennicott surname is found with a variety of spellings including Kennicutt, Kinnicutt, Kinnicott, Kenikut, etc.  The Kennicott spelling will be used throughout this narrative.
[4] Letter from Daniel Kinnicutt (Albany, NY) to Josiah Kinnicutt (Barrington, RI), dated 5 Jun 1798. Owned and transcribed in 1983 by Elisabeth Schaeffer (Mrs. John G., R.D. 1, Schoharie, NY 12157). Original found in a desk built by John Kennicutt (Daniel's brother).  Transcription forwarded to author by Martha Haidek ( in Jun 2010.
[5] Kinnicut to Kent, 23 Jul 1758, Warren Town, Births, Marriage & Deaths, Vol. 1, 1738 – 1844, page 67.  Rhode Island State Archives, Providence, microfilm 0907767.  “Mr Daniel Kinnicut and Miss Hannah Kent were married together (Both of this Town) by the Revd Solomon Townsend.” For residence, see: Daniel Kinekut [sic], 1800 US Federal Census, NY, Rensselaer, Pittstown, NARA, micropublication series M32, roll 26, p. 41.  Hannah Kinnicut obituary, Northern Budget, Troy, New York, 30 Oct 1799, page 3, column 3.  Troy Public Library, Genealogy Room, Troy, New York.
[6] Daniel Kinekut [sic], 1800 US Federal Census, New York, Rensselaer, population schedule, Pittstown, page 41; NARA micropublication series M32, roll 26.  John Kennicott household, 1800 US Federal Census, New York, Saratoga, population schedule, town of Providence, page 1094; NARA micropublication series M32, roll 27.  See also: Tax assessment rolls of real and personal estates, 1799 – 1804, New York State Comptroller’s Office.  New York State Archives, Albany, New York, microfilm series B0950.   Providence, Saratoga County, 1799, Box 41, Folder 8, reel 18.  Providence, Saratoga County, 1800, Box 41, Folder 8, reel 18.  Northfield, Saratoga County, 1801, Box 43, Folder 8, reel 18.  Northfield, Saratoga County, 1802, Box 44, Folder 9, reel 19.  Northfield, Saratoga County, Box 44, Folder 22, reel 19.  Pittstown, Rensselaer, 1799, Box 59, Folder 33, reel 26.  Pittstown, Rensselaer, 1800, Box 59, Folder 43, reel 26.  Pittstown, Rensselaer, 1801, Box 59, Folder 51, reel 26 (Daniel Kinnicut [sic] only).  Pittstown, Rensselaer, 1802, Box 59, Folder 59, reel 26. Pittstown, Rensselaer, 1803, Box 59, Folder 67, reel 26.  Compare with:  Alene Whitman, “John Kennicott – Elizabeth Reynolds family group sheet,” dated 24 Sep 1974, supplied in Apr 2003 by Bill Smith (Salt Lake City, UT).  Place of Elizabeth’s birth, handwritten as “Batavia, Genesee, NY.”  See also: Elizabeth Kennicott entry, International Genealogical Index [IGI] (Salt Lake City: Family History Library, 2008), citing microfilm 0,184,209, page 1095, reference no. 285387.  For the history of the towns, see: Sylvester, Nathaniel Bartlett.  History of Saratoga County, New York with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers.  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Everts & Ensign (1878), p. 372. 
[7] John Kenncut [sic] household, 1810 US Federal Census, New York, Rensselaer County, population schedule, Pittstown, page 413; NARA micropublication series M252, roll 35.  John Kinnecutt household, 1820 US Federal Census, New York, Ontario County, population schedule, town of Avon, page 186; NARA micropublication series M33, roll 62.
[8] Daniel Kinnicutt, ancestor no. A065393, DAR Library, Siemes Center, Washington, DC.  See also:  Letter from Rhode Island State Record Commissioner to Mrs. George W. Wilcox (406 W Third St., Sterling, Illinois), 28 May 1925; held in 2012 by the Rhode Island State Archives, Providence.  Second page of letter titled “Revolutionary Service of Daniel Kinnicutt.”  (Mrs. Wilcox claimed herself a descendant of Daniel through his son Edward, see: L. Wilcox Membership Application, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Siemens Center, Daughters of the American Revolution Library, Washington, DC, Membership no. 8854847).  See also: Smith, Joseph Jencks.  Civil and Military List of Rhode Island, 1800 – 1850.  Providence, Rhode Island: Preston and Rounds Co. (1901), 323, 429. 
[9] Ibid.