Category Archives: Brick Walls

My Top 3 Most Wanted Ancestors x 2 in 2021

We often hear that it’s not good to repeat research that we’ve already done, but I think that statement isn’t so true anymore. That’s because of the flood of records becoming digitally available online with each succeeding year.

I have been quite successful identifying a number of new leaves on the family trees by revisiting branches that have been sitting dormant for years.

I’ve decided it is time to give a serious new look to several more of those ancestral leaves and see if I can find some new blooms of information.

I don’t want to identify these ancestors as brick walls. To me, a brick wall is when I don’t have a new avenue to pursue. As you will see, there are clues for these Most Wanted.

I’ve chosen three ancestors from Dave’s tree and three from mine.

The lucky winners are – from the Stufflebean tree:

1. Parents of Jacob Miller. I know a lot about Jacob, as he was a Revolutionary War pensioner and served from Northampton County, Pennsylvania. I suspect his father might be one Henry Miller who died in the 1760s, when Jacob was just a child. I’ve made tentative searches in the past, but dropped them as I don’t find Pennsylvania to be a very researcher-friendly state. It’s time I really made the effort and dug around for more information about Henry and/or other potential parents for Jacob Miller.

2. Parents of Zadock Jarvis. Zadock also had military service during the American Revolution when he lived in Maryland. I’ve seen references that his father was James Jarvis. I also thought that Zadock probably died in North Carolina in the early 1800s, as he was quite elderly – 80ish – at his final census appearance. I figured he had died before the following census (I think it was the 1830), but another researcher claimed that Zadock died in Indiana, where he lived with his son. I checked the census and was I surprised to see a 90 year old male in that home. Therefore, I have Maryland and Indiana records that need to be combed for Jarvis clues.

3. Family of Rebecca (MNU) Alberty, wife of Henry Alberty of Surry County, North Carolina and Washington County, Arkansas. I’ve seen statements that her maiden name was Bryant, or possibly Bryan, without even a hint of a source for that. However, it’s a clue to be followed if I can find some crumbs of a trail. This is Dave’s maternal line and the family always claimed a Cherokee ancestor. Rebecca could possibly be it, as Henry lived in North Carolina, Georgia and Arkansas, all areas with ties to the Trail of Tears. Bryant is a name among Cherokees and, perhaps most importantly, Henry’s half brother, Moses Alberty, has family members documented on the Dawes Rolls.

I actually had a much harder time picking three most wanted from my own tree. My dad’s side is out of the picture, as there are no records in the village in Slovakia to tell me any more than I, or anyone else, knows.

The winners in the Sabo family tree are:

1. Robert Wilson, born c1730, of Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada. I knew that Robert was said to have come from the Boston, Massachusetts area after first arriving in the colonies, but there are new clues out there pointing to Sudbury, Middlesex, Massachusetts.

2. Mary Woodward, wife of Robert Wilson, above. If this proves to be the correct couple, there will possibly be an entirely new branch on my family tree.

3. Jonathan Parker, of Campobello Island, c1788, Loyalist. There are lists of his children out there with marriages and then descendants. I hope Parker relatives on Campobello Island (and there are many) have correctly pieced together his family, with a possible wife! Jonathan’s son, Benjamin, married Robert and Mary Wilson’s granddaughter, Maria Wilson, which is my direct line.

We will see how much success I have in documenting any of these clues. I might be wildly successful or it just might be many cases of non-researchers copying, pasting and spreading wishful thinking!

Which Brick Wall Would You Most Like to Bust Wide Open in 2021?

Which brick wall would you most like to have break wide open in 2021? For me, my Loyalist ancestor, Robert Carlisle, is well represented in a brick wall. There are a few chinks, here and there, but not a peep of light shining through anywhere!

I know quite a bit about Robert after he married, probably in Parr Town (today, St. John, New Brunswick, Canada) in the summer of 1785.

I know almost nothing of his life before the American Revolution.

Here is what I do know, working backwards in time:

1. Robert died in 1834 in Charlotte, Washington, Maine, according to widow Catherine’s statement when she applied for a widow’s pension available in Canada for soldiers of the “old war.”
2. The family lived in Sussex Vale, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada until they removed to Charlotte, Maine in the 1820s.
3. Robert filed two land deeds in St. John in the summer of 1785. Both were for land sales. In the first, no wife released dower rights. In the second, Catherine released her rights, so Robert apparently married in the summer of 1785. That fits with the birth of their first child about 1786.

Before Robert’s appearance in St. John in 1785, I have only one bit of proven information about him. He served with the Royal Fencibles. Again, Catherine supplied that helpful detail in her pension application.

You would think that would be a huge lead for further research. Well, not really. My research has shown that relatively little is known about the Fencibles during the war.

Here are a few facts:

1. The Fencibles were recruited in Boston (Massachusetts), Newfoundland and Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1775. By October of that year, the regiment consisted of about 200 men. However, no muster rolls survive.

2. The only known combat for the Royal Fencibles was the defense of Fort Cumberland, near Sackville, New Brunswick in late 1776.

3. The regiment constructed Fort Howe at the mouth of the St. John River in 1777. They served under Gilbert Studholme there until the end of the war.

4. They disbanded at Fort Howe and Halifax on 10 October 1783.

5. There is no evidence that the Fencibles ever entered the American colonies as a military force.

Back to Robert Carlisle –

The only American census record for Robert shows him living in Charlotte in 1830 with son James and his family. Living next door is another son, John, and his family. The census places Robert’s birth year between 1751-1760 and wife Catherine’s between 1761-1770. Catherine’s pension application indicated she was born in 1761, so the 1830 age categories are likely correct.

I have no evidence that Robert Carlisle ever lived in the American colonies before the Revolutionary War. None of his children lived to the 1880 census in the U.S. or the 1881 Canadian census. If he did live in the colonies, he hid his past well.

It is likely that Robert was born 1755-1760 since Catherine was born c1761. He would have been about 20 years old if he joined the Royal Fencibles in 1775. Since he evidently was a private or perhaps of some other low military rank, his young age would fit that scenario.

On the other hand, It is entirely possible that Robert Carlisle was not a member of the Fencibles for the entire length of the war. He might have only served with them for a year or two. With no muster rolls or payroll lists surviving, it is impossible to verify the length of his service. More on that in a bit.

Have Nova Scotia records shed any light on Robert Carlisle?

I wish I could say yes. I was fortunate enough to visit the Nova Scotia Archives in 2019 and spend a couple of hours there.

Robert was unmarried until the war ended. Not only does he not appear in land or probate records there, the Carlisle surname isn’t even found in those early records.

Except. . . . for one mention. Dennis Heffernan married one Mrs. Jane Carlisle in December 1761. Where they married isn’t stated on the library catalog card, but Dennis Heffernan lived in Halifax, so it seems likely he married Mrs. Carlisle there.

Dennis Heffernan was a business man. He had two known children, Dennis, born c1762 and Jane, born in the 1760s. Mr. Heffernan died on 24 March 1789, also found on a card in the Nova Scotia Archives catalog.

I think part of my difficulty in finding family for Robert might be that he had no brothers and, perhaps, didn’t even have any full siblings. It’s a possibility that Mrs. Jane Carlisle was his mother and was a young widow with a toddler when she married Dennis Heffernan.

However, aside from the notation of her marriage, Mrs. Jane Carlisle slipped into history leaving no other trace of her existence. Given that Dennis Jr. was born c1762 and a daughter was named Jane, she probably is the mother of those two Heffernan children.

Is she Robert Carlisle’s mother? I have no idea. Robert didn’t have any known daughter named Jane, but it is certainly possible that he could have had a daughter by that name who died young.

Robert’s first three children were sons Robert, John and James. I’d guess from those choices that his own father likely bore one of those names.

There are Carlisles/Carliles in southern Maine  around York County at the turn of the 19th century. However, I’ve found no documentary links between that family and my Robert Carlisle.

Apart from the marriage of a Mrs. Jane Carlisle in 1761, there is one other possibly tantalizing clue to follow.

Loyalist Walter Stewart was the father of John Stewart who married Robert’s daughter, Catherine Carlisle, in Sussex Vale, New Brunswick, Canada in 1814.

Walter Stewart was from Dutchess County, New York and in his memorial, it is stated that he served with the Loyal American Regiment, based in Dutchess and Westchester Counties, New York.

What is intriguing about the Loyal American Regiment is that one JOHN Carlisle enlisted with them on 21 December 1782 AND on 25 June 1783, one JAMES Carlisle is noted as having deserted the same regiment.

Could Robert be related to this John or James Carlisle? Again, I don’t know.

A search of Dutchess County land and probate records hasn’t turned up any instances of the Carlile/Carlisle surname in the years leading up to the American Revolution.

I would dearly love to find parents and siblings for Robert, but I  have been stymied at every turn.

Suggestions, anyone???





My Top 5 Genealogy Brick Walls

Every once in a while, it is time to review some brick walls in the old family tree. Actually, I am perfectly happy to spread the frustration around, so I’ve included a couple of candidates from my husband’s ancestral branches, too. Their homes, and available record sets, represent very wide geographical locations – New England, Canada, Maryland-North Carolina, and Germany.

Let’s see what we have and hope that readers (distant cousins?) might have new clues to chip away pieces of these walls.

#1 – Susannah (MNU), wife of Thomas Burnham of Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts. Thomas Burnham was born 19 January 1666 in Ipswich. Given the span of their children’s birth years, Susannah was likely born between 1673 and 1682. I wrote multiple posts last year about my search for Susannahs born in Massachusetts in the right time period, but had no success proving that any of them married Thomas Burnham. The best candidate is Susannah Cross, born 27 November 1673 in Boston, the daughter of John and Susannah Cross.

A Stephen Cross and Robert Cross lived in Ipswich by the 1630s. Whether or not they were related to John Cross, I have no idea. However, Robert Cross, who lived in Chebacco Parish (then part of Ipswich, but today Essex and the same neighborhood where the Burnhams lived) was involved in a land dispute that dragged through the court for over 30 years. Robert Cross Sr. appealed a verdict which had gone in favor of JOHN BURNHAM JR. in 1693 and the disputed land had been owned at one time by THOMAS BURNHAM. That is definite proof that the Cross family and Burnham family at least knew each other. However, it provides but a flimsy possible connection to John Cross of Boston.

So, in spite of the fact that Massachusetts probably has the single best set of vital and historical records of anywhere in the U.S., Susannah is still without a proven maiden name.

On the other hand, Maryland and North Carolina aren’t known for their early vital records, although a few exist, and they didn’t disappoint:

#2 – Elizabeth Gwinn Spear (1817- 1878) who married James Dulworth and lived in Cumberland County, Kentucky is one of my husband’s earliest non-German ancestors with a middle name. As with Susannah (MNU) Burnham, I wrote about an in-depth search I did trying to find the Gwinn connection to the Spear family, as I am convinced that Elizabeth was likely named for a grandmother. The Spears first settled in the Baltimore area and then migrated to Surry County, North Carolina about the time of the Revolutionary War. While I did find several mentions of Guinn and Gwinn families, both in Maryland and North Carolina, no likely family connection was found between the Spears and Gwinns.

Let’s move on to a new country – Canada:

#3 – Catherine (MNU) who married Loyalist Robert Carlisle is a double descent for me, making it even more annoying that I can’t find her maiden name. Catherine was undoubtedly a member of a Loyalist family and married Robert probably in Parr Town (St. John), New Brunswick, Canada in the summer of 1785. There are two land deeds involving sales by Robert Carlisle that summer. In the first, no wife released dower rights, but a couple of months later, Catherine released her rights. A 1785 wedding date fits with the birth of their first child, Robert, about 1786. There were “only” about 15,000 residents of St. John by 1785, so the pool of possibilities is limited, but the pool is more like an ocean.

#4 – Jane (MNU) who married Daniel Astle, son of another of my Loyalist ancestors, James Astle. This family lived in Ludlow on the Miramichi River in Northumberland County, New Brunswick, Canada. Daniel was born c1783, probably in Sorel, Quebec, before the family made its way into New Brunswick. They had previously lived in Schenectady, New York.

A quick search online shows many trees showing Daniel’s wife as Jane PARKER. I can take credit for that, I believe, as I compiled a quite complete list of the descendants of Loyalist James Astle back in the 1990s and contributed a copy of my heavily footnoted work to the Family History Library and several other repositories. I noticed that, like most others of their era, the Astles had relatives by marriage who served as witnesses on land conveyances and marriages and served as godparents to babies. Daniel Astle died in 1817 and I noticed that widow Jane and their children often appeared in government records with Parkers, specifically Christopher Parker. I also noticed that the Parkers had no ties to any of James Astle’s other children. Therefore, I posited that Daniel married Jane (possibly Parker.) Well, you know how that goes and the online trees conveniently leave out that very important word – POSSIBLY.

I still think it is very possible that Jane is a Parker, but no smoking gun has been found.

For my last brick wall, let’s head to Germany:

#5 – Johannes Stoppelbein, born c1600, is the only male on this list. He happens to be the first known Stoppelbein and lived his adult life in Langenlonshiem, Germany. He married Elisabetha (MNU) and they had one known child, Hans Valentine Stoppelbein, baptized 12 January 1633/34 in Langenlonsheim.

My curiosity is piqued because not only is Johannes the first man to be called Stoppelbein, any and all others are descendants of Hans Valentine. The name has not been found anywhere before Johannes.

Furthermore, Stoppelbein means stubble leg, which makes me wonder if Johannes was either born with a deformed leg or suffered an accident to his leg and any other surname by which he might have been known was lost to Stoppelbein.

The obvious answer to  this brick wall is a Y-DNA test (which my husband has taken with not a single close match), in the hopes that Stufflebeans today might all also match up to some other surname that originated in the area around Langenlonsheim.

Those are five of my current most frustrating brick walls. Please share one of yours in the comments!