My John Whitmer Family Tree Experiment – Update

The last few days have been interesting. If you read my posts on January 5-6 and 7 this week, I decided to contact all the people who had online family trees that contained John Whitmer who died in 1828 in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.

John Whitmer, Page 61

First, in reviewing the trees, I originally counted 358 separate family trees on one site. Next, I sent individual messages to each person hosting the tree. Along the way, I recognized some obvious duplications of hosts – 66 to be exact and, even with that, I am sure there were several people who received at least two messages from free.  That reduced the number of individuals hosting trees to 292.

Interestingly, I came across three other trees whose hosts have chosen to not allow anyone to contact them. That left 289 tree hosts to whom I have written. Happily, most of the hosts had logged in to Ancestry within the last month and many within the last few days. I would estimate that 10-15% last logged in over a year ago. Those people may no longer have an active subscription.

I have received nineteen replies. One person said John was a collateral line that hadn’t been researched and they hadn’t had time to prune the tree. Another was actually descended from Michael and Barbara Whitmer and had erroneously added my John to their family. A couple others replied that they will look at the information and thanked me. Thirteen are direct descendants and mostly said that this line had either been a brick wall or they hadn’t yet researched it and seemed genuinely pleased to have all this new information about John’s origins.

One person wrote and said thank you, but they have done their own research and will keep what they have (which is wrong). I asked if they would share any documentation they had, but none has yet been offered. . . .

One wanted me to re-explain a three day post in a separate email and a second person simply wrote “I need more info.” They both got replies with this blog address.

I have already learned a bit myself about the way that some other people choose to research. Everyone has his/her own methods, which is fine, but I guess I don’t see the point in adding a lot of unverified information to my tree, not having checked any of the facts for myself, and then having to unlink/delete a lot of wrong data.  That seems like a lot of extra work, not to mention the fact that once something is on the internet, it is impossible to completely erase it.

I will post a final update in early February. I am most curious to see what changes are evident in the family trees four weeks later.

Recommended Reads

Here are my favorite blog posts for the first week of 2015:

Canadian Gravemarker Gallery Updates by Gail Dever on Genealogy a la Carte

What’s Your Number? – Revisited by Julie Tarr on Julie’s Genealogy & History Hub

Why I’m Declaring 2015 “The Year of Collaterals” by Amy Johnson Crow on No Story Too Small

In Search of Freelove Andrews by Diane Boumenot on One Rhode Island Family

Indiana Genealogical Society Adds a Free Database of Indiana Civil War Veterans by Dick Eastman on Eastman’s Online Genealogical Newsletter

Tuesday’s Tip: City Directories May Contain Death Dates by Beth Gatlin on So Many Ancestors!

A Note on Unsupported Genealogy Software by James Tanner on Genealogy’s Star

Check for Coroner Records by Joanne Cowden on Researching Relatives

Emma Weeks White Drowned in a Well by Jenn on Climbing My Family Tree

This Is Not a Test Even If It Looks and Sounds Like One by Amy Brotman on Brotman Blog: A Family Journey

Rabbit Trail: Is Hannah (1689-1759), the Wife of Samuel Fletcher (1684-1749), Hannah Foster? by Randy Seaver on Genea-Musings

The Loyalists of Stanstead, Sherbrooke and West Compton 2014 by Jacques Gagné on Genealogy Ensemble

A Life Out of Balance by Tony Proctor on Parallax View

Discovering Family Memorabilia by Wayne Shepheard on Discover Genealogy

52 Week Organized Research Challenge by Susan Bankhead on Brick Wall Genealogist

An Attempt at a Genealogy Go-Over and Finding a Big Oops by Bill Barrett on The Times of Their Lives

Finding Fern, Researching Outside the Box by Susan Messler on genealogycorner

A Tale of Three Orphans by Kendra Schmidt on trekthrutime


William Marche & Family, French Huguenots

Few of my immigrant ancestors appear to have fled their homeland because of an oppressive ruler. Instead, most seemed to come for a better economic life. One of the exceptions was William Marche, a French Huguenot who fled to England in the 1500’s.

First, a short very history of the Huguenots:

For centuries, France was dominated by one official religion, that of Roman Catholicism. However, by the 1530’s, the writings of John Calvin, an influential French theologian,  were seeping into French society. Calvin, himself, fled to Switzerland to escape persecution by French authorities.

As Huguenots vocally criticized the Roman Catholic Church for both its doctrine and rituals, conflicts with church and government authorities grew more and more frequent. For Protestants in France, most of the 16th century was one fraught with fear. Religious tension increased as uprisings became violent.

The peak of this violence was the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 23-24 August 1572 when French Calvinists were purposely targeted for assassination. Five days earlier, King Charles IX’s sister, Margaret, married Protestant Henry III of Navarre (who later became King Henry IV of France.) Many prominent Huguenots were in Paris for the wedding and it is believed that King Charles IX’s mother, Catherine of Medici, was the force behind the assassinations.

St. Bartholomew Day Massacre, 1572
by Francois Dubois, Wikipedia

The king himself ordered the killing of several Huguenot leaders and then mobs of Catholics took to the streets to murder Protestants. The massacre actually lasted several weeks and spread from Paris to other cities and then to the countryside. Estimates of the number of Huguenots killed during this one episode range from 5,000 to 30,000.

The Marche Family:

My 11x great grandfather, William Marche,  was an early French Calvinist. He was likely born  in the 1540’s or 1550’s in the central or southern region of France, as these areas were home to most French Calvinists. His father is thought to be John Marche.

There are no records to document the departure of the Marche family from France or its arrival in England, but the Huguenot population of France peaked at about two million by 1562 when many began to flee to other countries such as England. It seems probable that the family left France during this tumultuous decade -but the route it took is unknown. Sherford is located slightly east of Plymouth, England.

One thing is certain though. Whatever sufferings the Marche family or their friends and neighbors might have gone through, one thing is certain. They had decided to leave France at least a few years before the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. This is one of the scarce facts known about the family’s move. John Marche appears in the court records of Stokenham in September 1569. While the Marches were now living in a country which had declared itself independent of Rome in 1534 and thus under the Church of England, it seems that John Marche wasn’t much of a royalist either, whether they be French or British, as he  was charged with diverting water from the mill belonging to the lord of the manor.

Little else is known about John. With a lack of records for that time period, it is assumed that this John was the patriarch of the Marche family that had established itself in Devonshire.

By 1 Jan 1580/81, William, too, was mentioned in the manor court rolls so he had come of age by that time.

“William Marche Sen.” was brought before the manor court of Stokenham on 9 October 1610 for having “stopped the church path leading from the village of Chillingtun to the parish church of Stokenham” and he was charged yet again on 15 January 1610-11 as he who “doth deny the water to be turned out of a certain ‘drange’ (probably “drainage.”)

Chillington is a village about three miles southeast of Sherford; it is about one mile from Chillington to Stokenham.

Two mentions in the court rolls of the manor don’t necessarily define one’s personality. In the case of William, though, it may indicate that he might have been a bit feisty. These infractions were recorded during the last years of his life and I do wonder what his purpose was in blocking the road to the parish church. Add to these facts the charge that John Marche, his presumed father, was diverting water from the mill of the manor lord back in 1569, and it may be an indication that the Marche family never fully integrated into its new English home.

It appears that the William Marches of 1610 and 1611 are one and the same as William Marche, who left a will dated 29 April 1612 and whose estate inventory was completed by 11 February 1613/14. His wife is unknown and likely predeceased him as he named his daughter-in-law Joane Marche, widow of his deceased son Richard, as executrix of his estate.

William Marche’s will named the following children:

1. Richard, died before 29 April 1612
2. George, living 21 May 1616
3. Joane, eldest daughter who married before 29 April 1612 to Mr. Hinde.
4. Grace, married before 29 April 1612 to Mr. Neale.
5. Jane, married before 29 April 1612 to Gergory Bickforde of nearby Rattery, Devonshire.
6. Prudence, married before 29 April 1612 to Mr. Jackson.
7. Sarah, married before 29 April 1612 to Mr. Pounde

Richard and Joane Marche, executrix of William Marche’s will,  were parents of one son and six daughters named in their mother’s will, one of whom is my ancestress.

Children of Richard and Joane named in her will dated 21 May 1616 were:

1. William, who died about May or June 1617 without heirs.
2. Alice, eldest daughter, unmarried when her sister, Elizabeth, wrote her own will about 1616/17.
3. Elizabeth, died unmarried before 12 May 1619, when her estate inventory was taken.
4. Eulalia, my ancestress, married Henry Burt of Harberton, Devonshire on 28 Dec 1619 at Dean Prior.
5. Amias, living and unmarried on 13 November 1619, when her uncle, Rev.  Henry Martyn, with whom she lived, named her in his will.
6. Jane, living when her sister Elizabeth wrote her will about 1616/17.
7. Johane, living when her sister Elizabeth wrote her will about 1616/17.

Most of the details of the Marche family lives in England are found in  “Genealogical Research in England, Burt-March,” George Skelton Terry, New England Historic Genealogical Register, 86:247-252 published in July 1932.

The Burt family was prosperous. Henry Burt’s father, Henry Burt Sr., was a clothier and landowner. Henry Sr. died in 1617 and Henry Jr. was not the eldest son. Perhaps Henry and Eulalia’s economic circumstances were not as solid as those of his father. Perhaps primogeniture left him with little, as his brother John inherited the bulk of his father’s estate. Perhaps the Burt family’s religious beliefs differed somewhat from the Church of England doctrine. There are many “perhaps” and no answers as to why Henry, Eulalia and their children boarded the ship to New England in 1638/39. Yet, leave they did and today there are thousands of Burt descendants in the United States and Canada.





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