John Parsons and my guilty diversion
How I do research.
One of my regular activities is to try to remember my ancestors on their birthday. I look at a calendar I prepared of the key dates for direct ancestors and saw that my fifth-great-grandfather, John Parsons, would be 249 years old today, if he were still living. I didn’t even know his name until a few weeks ago, so I thought I’d do a “deep dive” into his history before his birthday. My, oh my, it is so easy to be diverted from your intentions. I know I shouldn’t get side-tracked in my research, but I did and I am glad I did in this case. As usual I started with Ancestry.com. I research there thoroughly, census, city directories, pretty much anything they have except for other people trees (a “shallow dive”). Afterwards, I branch out in my research and use the internet. I next use Family Search, the other services I subscribe to such as Genealogy Bank and Archives.Com. As I fill in more and more details about an individual I then use the several hundred other web sites I have bookmarked as appropriate. I also order books and microfilm as I need it. It is process for me that I call “a deep dive.”
My Starting Point
I first learned of John because he was identified in History of Washtenaw County. (A free download via Google Books.)
He was Chester Parson’s father.
1801 – Moved from Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts.
1802 – Moved to Windham, Greene County, New York, in the Spring of 1802.
1813 – Died in Greene County, New York.
Of course I immediately wanted to know where he was born. Chester has been born in 1799 in Sandisfield, Mass and his parents moved to New York with him in 1802. Sandisfield, Mass. seemed a likely place. But, could I confirm that.
A search on Ancestry yielded someone’s tree where they cited a Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) case file. Way cool. I try not to accept trees submitted by individuals to Ancestry, but I do like to use their references and other information as a research idea to follow them in their sources. I generally accept DAR files as fairly accurate. They generally know what they are doing and are really good about not accepting poor research.
2nd Connecticut Regiment Flag
Courtesy of Flags of the World
I checked the DAR site and found a case where an application — Nat’l # 445593 – Ancestor # A088240 — had been submitted that went through Chester and John Parsons. It then went on to John’s father, John Parsons, who was a lieutenant in the Revolutionary War serving in Capt. Samuel Wolcott, 10th Co., 1st Berkshire Cnty Regt of MA Militia. It also indicated that John Jr. was born 18 Nov 1764 at Windham, NY. Humm — odd for someone to be born in NY, somehow move to Sandisfield, then back to Windham.
Further searching on Ancestry.com yielded a list of individuals born in Sandisfield, Mass., which included John born Nov 18th 1764 of Lieut. John & Hannah Parsons. The conflict was obvious. According to the list, John and his siblings as well as John’s first five children were all born in Sandisfield. Further Search of found a handwritten ledger of “Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988” which listed John Parsons Jr.
I transcribed the information there with some difficulty. After transcribing the information I search some more and found the exact same data transcribed by someone else. I learned to be sure to look for transcriptions of handwritten documents before I transcribe it myself. Instead, I should have compared the transcription with the original document and see if I agreed with the transcription. In this case, everything was as I had thought so I accepted the transcription.
I then found a second handwritten document from Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records on Ancestry that showed the same information only kind of backwards. Really difficult to read, but it appeared to have information consistent with the other handwritten ledger entries.
Further searching found that John’s wife’s father also fought in the Revolutionary War. One of the references to Samuel indicated there was a book about the Wolcott family. I found it on Google Books; it yielded a total of 79 new direct ancestors and their siblings. (More on them in future blogs.)
In my research, the death of John Parsons is unclear. History of Washtenaw County, on page 1405, clearly states, “John and Mary Parsons, removed to Green Co., N.Y. in the Spring of 1802, where the former died in 1813, but the latter resided there til 1826.” The DAR Database indicates that John Parsons died at Saline, MI on 7 April 1813. Further searching on Find a Grave yielded an entry, but not a marker photo (Memorial #118318770) indicating he is buried in Green County, I was unable to find a Find a Grave entry in Washtenaw that might be him..
Further searching found that John’s wife’s father also fought in the Revolutionary War. Samuel Wolcott – Yes John’s father, Lt. John Parsons fought under his wife’s father, Capt. Samuel Wolcott. One of the references to Samuel indicated there was a book about the Wolcott family. I found it on Google Books, Wolcott genealogy: the family of Henry Wolcott, one of the first settlers of Windsor, Connecticut; it yielded 79 new direct ancestors and their siblings. More on them in a later postings.
Although I didn’t find out a lot about John Parsons, Jr.’s life, yet, investigating him opened up research into many more ancestors. I’ll have to get back to a deep dive on John junior next year. Hopefully I will be able to clear up the conflicting information I have. What I know now:
John Parsons (Jr.)
John Parsons was the third child of John & Hannah Parsons (Sr) and was born on 18 Nov 1764 in Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Mass. (See 1 below.) He was the oldest of the five boys and he had four sisters, two older and two younger.
John married Mary Wilcott (date unknown) and lived in Sandisfield, Berkshire county, Mass. then, in 1802, moved to Windham, Green County, New York. (See 2 below.)
John and Mary had five children;
Samuel, Polly, Orrin, John, and Chester Parsons,
John Parsons died Apr. 7, 1813.
He may be buried in Section 1, Pleasant Valley Cemetery, Ashland, Greene County, New York. “Inscription indicates he died at age.”
Some sources indicate Green County, New York .
Some sources indicate Saline, Washtenaw county, Michigan.
Ancestry.Com – Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988.
Daughters of the American Revolution, “Ancestor Search” – Parsons, John – Patriot: A088240 – Member: Ruth Evelyn Hill Carr Nat’l #: 445593.
Google Books – History of Washtenaw County, Michigan: Together with Sketches of Its Cities, Villages and Townships – Page 1405, et al.
Find-a-Grave Memorial 118318770: