One of the GeneaBlogger Games events is to create a timeline. This really couldn’t have come at a better time, as I’ve been trying to figure out where Aaron WEBSTER and Robert PARKS (both are my fifth great-grandfathers) were before relocating to Oakland County, Michigan in the early 1820s.
According to History of Freemasonry in Oakland County, MI, as well as History and Genealogy of the Gov. John Webster Family of Connecticut, Aaron Webster was living in both Sackets Harbor and Aurelis, New York. The 1820 census for Aurelis, New York confirms this portion, and also places him near Robert PARKS. Unbeknownst to me, they apparently knew one another prior to their move to Michigan.
There are several confusing factors at play here, mainly because that part of New York was undergoing several boundary changes and the settlement of new townships. By creating a timeline, working with Aaron only at the moment, I am able to get a better picture and see what may be wrong with the data in the aforementioned sources. For example, the book on John Webster’s family states that all of Aaron’s children were born in Sackets Harbor (except the last, born in Aurelis). The problem is, according to what I have found so far, Sackets Harbor was not created until 1801, and one child was born in 1799, and one in 1801, meaning they may have been born somewhere else (or the same place of a different name).
Additionally, the timeline helps with the boundary changes. Present day Sackets Harbor is in Jefferson County, however, Jefferson County was not formed until 1805, from Oneida County. I’m not sure if Sackets Harbor became part of Jefferson County at that time, or later (I haven’t found anything yet). But having the timeline, along with boundary changes, I can figure that in some cases I would need to look in at least two different counties for records.
This is the first time I’ve really had to deal with new settlements and boundary changes. These particular families have been in the country since colonial times, but I haven’t really explored that far back as of yet. Once they came to Michigan, things are pretty smooth in terms of location (no major changes) and finding records. All of my other lines were immigrants after 1870 and settled in areas pretty-well developed (e.g., Chicago), so again, not much guesswork.
It will be interesting to see what I learn through this process. I’m going to really have to dig into the history of these areas in order to determine what records are applicable to each family during a given time. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I think I’m up for the challenge.
Sources Mentioned in the Article
Charles Fey, History of Freemasonry in Oakland County, MI (Royal Oak, Michigan: Royal Oak Lodge No. 464, 1949).
William Holcomb Webster and Rev. Melville Reuben Webster D. D., History and Genealogy of the Gov. John Webster Family of Connecticut With Numerous Portraits and Illustrations (Rochester, New York: E. R. Andrews Printing Co., 1915), 401-402.