Friday, July 16, 2010

Day 26

I spent the day in Norwich, Chenango Co, NY. John Coats had moved to the area from Stonington, CT and lived there most of his adult life. His son Ezra lived there for an indeterminate amount of time before showing up in Springwater, NY and then Michigan.

It was mostly a day of detective work. I am still trying to firmly tie Ezra to the John Coats in Pharsalia. The story goes that his first wife was Rebeckah Brown. She died and John went back to Stonington to find a wife and married Lucy Peabody in CT before bringing her back to Pharsalia. There they lived for 50 years. GG Davenport had son Ezra born in Chenango County. However, Lucy must have gone home to CT for some reason, because Ezra was born in Stonington.

I combed the vital records. A history of Chenango County lists John Coates and about a dozen other men all moving to the area from Stonington, CT around 1800. However, there are no further mentions of John in any of the town/area records. No vital records (death, marriage). No land records yet. No will. No records of Ezra except as mentioned in his brother Alfred's will in 1889. This document confirms the list of brothers and sisters I have and matches the list of children of John Coats. In addition, Ezra's sister-in-law (Alfred's wife) names her remaining children when applying for a Civil War pension based on son Charles' service. One of these children is Ezra Peabody - probably named for his uncle. No school records for our Ezra either.

The census records from 1810, 1820, 1830 only list head of household with remaining family members grouped by age and gender. In the 1820 and 1830 censuses there is a John Coats with of the right age and the right number of children. In the 1855 census, John is listed as age 84 (correct), born in CT and his wife Lucy is 76 (correct), also born in CT. So - I am reasonably certain this is the right group. I would just like a document that is a firmer link than the Michigan death certificate I have. I hope to find more when I get to CT.

Some inferences can be made from the lack of information and from documentation on Alfred's family (Ezra's brother). I think the family was desperately poor. I doubt they ever owned land. Ezra probably got little schooling. Alfred's family moved to Iowa and similarly struggled. the family relied almost solely on their son's wages and earnings in the military particularly after Alfred was injured in 1858. Although various family records question whether the Peabodys on the Coats and Peabody lines were related prior to Ezra and Roxanna marrying, I believe they were. I think it highly likely that Lucy contacted cousins in Springwater (e.g. William or one of his relations) and sent Ezra to board/apprentice/indenture with them. There he met and married Roxanna. I see no other way they would have met since there are no Peabodys listed in the Chenango County area in the 1800 - 1840 time period. I also think this sets precedent for George Washington Coats being raised by his maternal grandparents (William and Roxanna Peabody. We know from gg Davenport that he lived with them not at home). Ezra worked for William and Sheffield Peabody during much of the 1840s and 1850s. The fire that destroyed his home I am sure set him back. Various census records even in Michigan have him residing away from the family doing farm labor. Just guesses on my part - we shall see. Hopefully we will find concrete information to fill in the blanks.

I did go to Central Cemetery in Pharsalia. I found John's first wife Rebeckah in the "Brown" section - which makes sense after I realized her maiden name was Brown. Don't know if she was born in Stonington, CT (probably) or here in NY but she is (for us) just a side note. John and Lucy are supposed to be buried in this cemetery as well but I combed the hillsides for 2 hours with no luck. There are many gravestone that are buried, crumbled, broken or unreadable. John and Lucy's graves are listed in S1W1, 4 A & B but their stones are among the missing. Too bad.

Tomorrow - off to Oswego in Tioga County for a look at early Middaugh/Davenport records - better connecting them to our line before I get to Ulster Co. next week.

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