Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Home Sweet Homestead: SIMs in Ontario

Recently, Ontario Genealogy posted records on Ontario pioneers and the location of their homes. In the 1870 list for Cramahe Township, Northumberland, we find a James SIMM at “bf pt 30 t.”

The site location referenced in the pioneer document translates to “broken front concession, part of lot 30, tenant”. A broken front concession is when a lot is on a shore. Tenant indicates that he did not own the property.

We found an old map of Northumberland and located lot 30 – which is on the shore of Lake Ontario. This map also showed the location of the houses on the property. One of these homes is where the SIM family lived.
Lot 30
Black squares show the houses.

Comparing the old map to Google maps, we can see that some of the homes are still there and there are a few foundations left of those that were demolished. Back in 1870, it was a dense cedar forest. Today, most of the area is now part of Victoria Beach, Ontario.  There is a large gravel pit nearby.

Victoria Beach was a famous vacation spot for the wealthy at the turn of the century. The forest was cleared by 1894 and there were numerous hotels. By 1901, James and Elizabeth had moved into their daughter's home in Cramahe Township.  James passed away in 1902 and Elizabeth in 1907. 

Victoria Beach is rated as one of the best beaches in Ontario today.  If you are in the area and can visit, send us some photos and we can post them on this blog.

Read more about the history of Victoria Beach.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Capt. John GARTH's Letter to His Brother in 1813

Edna OTWELL > Edwin > Maurice > John Franklin > Quintilla GARTH > John GARTH

During the War of 1812, Kentucky supplied troops and food to support the militias.  The War was very important to those living in Kentucky since it affected so many.  A few of John GARTH's sons were in the militia and came home with tales of valor and cowardice.  Here, John writes home to his younger brother (Jesse) in Virginia about the latest news from the front.
First is the corrected text that is easier to read followed by images, research notes and original text.

Corrected Letter (for an easier read)

November 5th 1813
Dr. Brother,
We are well except Thomas.  He has lately returned from the army a little sick.  They have given the British and Indians a good wippen with the loss of all their baggage supposed to be worth a million of money.  You may let Mr. Granger FRETWELL know that the British flag no more waves in upper Canady.  JOHNSON's regiment of mounted militia charged on the British regulars and broke their lines.  They then raised their flag, the brave, with fixed bayonets before.  The Indians is as humble as dogs.  I hope soon to hear good news from WILKINSON and HAMPTON.  I hope the Federalists, as you call them, begin to have their eyes opened and join heart and hand in support of the war.  I pray these few lines will find you and your wife and family in health.  Give my love to Richard GAINS and George CRANK and family and Jefs in Devon Port and ask him if he has found my handkerchief.

PROCTER, as you may call him, left his men on horseback, afraid of his life, knowing his conduct had been bad to our prisoners, left his army in our hands.  This shows what PROCTER is.  Tecumseh is killed by Col. JOHNSON.  In coming up to tomahawk JOHNSON after he was shot down, JOHNSON had five balls through him, he killed Tecumseh with his pistol loaded with buck shot, shot about ten feet at him.  Killed him dead on the spot.  I supposed there never was a instance of militia charging on regulars.

It is supposed that JOHNSON will get over his wounds.  I saw a carriage start after him last Saturday.  I hope he will recover.  He lost about twenty men in his charge.  If he should die, he died with honor. Rhodes GARTH is to be married in a few days to a Miss CARRIGAN of Wayne County and will be with her at my house in a few days on his way to the assembly.  Let me know what has become of brother Elijah and all about his concerns.

Your Brother, John Garth


Research Notes

When this letter was written, John GARTH (1762-1835) was living in Kentucky with his 2nd wife, our ancestor, Sarah.  His younger brother, Jessie Winton GARTH (1774-1865), was living in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Jesse was married to Elizabeth BROWN and had 9 children. Jessie was a farmer.

On page 1, John mentions his son from his first wife, Ann Rhodes HARRIS.  Thomas GARTH (1792 - 1850) had recently returned from the War and it is likely he had supplied the war news contained in this letter.  It is unknown who Mr. FRETWELL was; he may have been a relation to their brother-in-law’s family.  “Upper Canady” is the area just north of the Great Lakes.   “Regulars” refer to British foot soldiers.

On page 2, James WILKINSON, the US Major General, was mentioned.  Richard GAINNES was another brother-in-law.  It is unknown who HAMTON, George CRANK or JEFS were. We think that the latter may be "Jefferson of Davenport".

On page 3, the coward, British officer Henry Patrick PROCTER, retreated on horseback leaving the Indians to finish the fight.  (PROCTER was court martialed in December 1814 for this act –ruined his military career.) This retreat resulted in the legendary death of Shawnee War Chief Tecumseh (1768-1413) on 5 October 1813 at the Battle of Thames.  There are several stories about the death of Tecumseh; many people took credit.  John relates the story that he was killed by a severely wounded Col. Richard Mentor JOHNSON of the Kentucky Militia.  True or not, JOHNSON later used the story to advance his own political career.  He became the 9th US Vice President in 1837.

On page 4, John writes of the impending marriage of his eldest son Rhodes (1784 – 1846) (also from his first wife) to Lucinda CARRIGAN on 14 November 1813.  Rhodes was the first lawyer in Wayne County and had also fought in the War of 1812.  Their youngest brother, Elijah (1772-1817) was a farmer in Virginia.

Uncorrected Version

November 5th 1813
Dr Brother we are well Except Thomas he has laitly returned from the arme a little Sick they have given the british and indians a good whipen with the loss of all ther bageg supposed to be worth a
a million of money you may let mr grainger fretwell know that the british flag no mor waves in upper Canady jonsons regiment of mounted melisha Charged on the british regulars and brock ther lines
they then raised ther flag the Brave with fixed bayonets befor the Indians is an umbl as dogs I hop Soon to her good news from Wilkerson and hamton I hope the federalist as you call them begin to have ther eys opend and join hart and hand In Support of the war I pray thes few lins will find you and your wife and famyly in helth give my love to Richard Gainns and Gerg Crank and famyly and
Jefs in Deven port and axe him if he has found my hankechit

practer, as you may call him left his men on hors back afraid of his lif knowing his conduct had been bad to our prisoners left his armey in our hands this shoes what practer is, Tecomse is kild by Col Jonson In coming up to Tamhok Jonson after he was Shot down, Johnson had five balls throw him, he kild tecom-se with pistoll loaded with buck Shot a bout ten feet at him kild him ded on the spot I Supposd ther never was an instance of Melisha charging on regulars It is suposed that jonson will get over his wounds I Saw a Carig Start after him last Saturday I hope he will recover he lost a bout twenty men in his charge if he shold dy he dyed with Oner  

Rouds Garth is to be married in a few days to a Miss Carrigan of wayne County and will be with her at my house in a few Days on his way to the A Semble.  let me know what has becom of Brother Elijah and all a bout his Conserns your Brother John Garth


Special thanks to the library staff at William & Mary College in Virginia for providing a scan of the original document that is part of their collection GARTH Family Papers 1798-1872 and for permission for use in this private family research project.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Known Causes of Death

Ancestors from the Sim Family Tree:

George W. Sim - age 42             Oct. 19, 1941          Aplastic anemia

Mary A. Wallace Sim - age 75     May 2, 1945            Pernicious anemia, cerebral

Mary Huston Wallace - age 79     Sept. 29, 1923        Old age, influenza

William Wallace - age 85              Oct. 22, 1929          Dilated heart, valvolar leakage,
                                                                                    old age

William Huston - age 54               May 16, 1877          Renal affection

John W. Sim - age 83                   July 4, 1954             Coronary thrombosis

James Sim - age 84                      June 27, 1902         General debility (loss of strength)

Elizabeth Gruer Sim - age 75        July 20, 1907          Unknown protracted illness

Ancestors from the Otwell Family Tree:

Edna Otwell Sim - age 71             Sept. 16, 1976        Lung cancer, cervical cancer

Mary Charnock Otwell - age 61    Oct. 18, 1935          Chronic myocarditis

Robert Charnock - age 46            Oct. 31, 1878          Consumption

Elizabeth Scott Charnock              Mar. 25, 1898          Apoplexy  (stroke)
age 67

Edwin J. Otwell - age 48                June 2, 1920           Pernicious anemia
                                                                                       (lack of Vit. B12)

Maurice Otwell - age 69                April 6, 1915            Epilepsy, schizophrenia

Jane Ash Otwell - age 87              Jan. 20, 1938          Pneumonia, general cold, senility

John F. Otwell - age 87                 June 21, 1908         Paralysis acute ascending

Stark Taylor - age 73                    April 24, 1889         Old age, natural death



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Francis (Frank) OTWELL - Died 1839

Edna OTWELL-SIM > Edwin OTWELL > Maurice OTWELL . John F. OTWELL > William OTWELL > Francis OTWELL

On the Otwell side, Francis was the last ancestor we were able to confirm for our family tree.  From census reports he was born between 1766-1774.  We have found no information on his birth, parents or location of his early years.

We have no record of his marriage.  The Scott County, Kentucky 1810 Census listed six children along with a woman old enough to be his wife.  We believe his wife died some time after this census.  The census records showed many children.  We were able to confirm William, Parker and Mary Ann as his children.

On July 16, 1818 Francis Otwell next married Eleanor Tucker in Bourbon County, Kentucky.  Her maiden name was Berry.  She had a son, Greenberry Tucker, from her previous marriage.  Francis became Greenberry's guardian and he was around the same age as Francis' son, Parker.  Parker and Greenberry became life-long friends.  Parker named "his good friend Greenberry Tucker" as the executor of his will.

Francis Otwell was listed on the 1820 Census in Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky.  He had nine slaves.

In 1827 Eleanor and Francis were involved in a legal dispute over property (Berry vs. Tucker).  They were on opposing sides to Greenberry and other heirs that were involved in the dispute.  We next found Francis on the 1830 Scott County Census.  There is no listing for Eleanor on this census nor is she mentioned in Francis' will in 1839.  We did find Mrs. Otwell's death listed in 1850.  However, she was buried under the name Tucker in Georgetown, Kentucky.

Francis Otwell's estate appraisal was submitted to Scott County Court in January 1839 by his son, Parker Otwell, Administrator.  He had died at his Frank Otwell Farm. The appraisal included a list of his inventory and the value of his possessions.  The first listing was his 16 named slaves valued at $7175.  There were also 37 notes owed to him by family and friends.  Francis' son, William (our ancestor), moved to the Frank Otwell Farm.

Read more about the OTWELL Estates.

This will conclude our research on the Otwell Family.  We will continue researching for new information and will up-date our blog as it becomes available and verified.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

John GARTH (1713-1786)

John GARTH's "Mark"
Edna OTWELL > Edwin OTWELL > Maurice OTWELL > John F. OTWELL > Quintilla GARTH-OTWELL > John GARTH > Thomas GARTH > John GARTH

Our first proven GARTH ancestor in America was John GARTH. He was not educated and could only make “his mark” in lieu of a signature. Lack of education means he was likely born in the colonies.

By 1734, John was a plantation owner in St. Martin’s Parish, Hanover County, Virginia. This area was later called Fredericksville, Louisa County. He invested in land and later came to own over 2,000 acres. He raised livestock and farmed tobacco and corn.

By 1740, John married his first wife Rachel. By 1761, he married Hannah. He may have had another wife between Rachel and Hannah. He had a least 7 children: Sarah, Thomas (our ancestor), Elizabeth, Mary Ann, David, John and William. He was guardian over at least 2 additional children. In his later years, he married the widow Elizabeth CLARK in 1775. There were no children from that marriage.

John was likely a member of the Church of England, as that was required by law.

In 1745, John applied for a patent on 400 acres of land on the South Anna River. The patent required him to cultivate 3 acres out of every 15 within 3 years. And he had to pay an annual fee of one shilling for each 50 acres. After proving his patent, he built a grist mill and leased out portions of the land. This land he sold at a profit in 1761. The grist mill was later known as Byrd Mill after the man who later owned it. The original mill no longer exists.

Later land investments gave John the opportunity to avoid taxes. He would pay the fees on the land in order that the assessor would register his name. This would establish his claim on the land and prevent any future person from claiming it. He would then pay for a survey. But, he failed to apply for the patents. So, he did not pay taxes to the crown.

He was the first GARTH to own slaves. Prior to 1747, he was an overseer of slaves owned by other people. In 1747, he brought a boy aged 11 to court to have his age judged. Newly imported slaves were immediately taxable unless they were under the age of 16. To avoid taxes, John preferred to purchase young and newly imported slaves. In the 1780s, he was also accused in a lawsuit of illegally detaining a slave owned by another family.

Though he could not read or write, in the 1750s, John was a Precinct Processioner. His job was to meet with local property owners to verify the boundaries of their land and note any disputes. After land was processioned three times, the boundaries were unchangeable by law. He was also involved in building county roads.

During the Revolutionary War, John provided beef to the American Militia.

John died in 1786 at about 73 years old. In his will, he provided for his wife Elizabeth for one year. The estate was then split equally amongst his children.

The English surname GARTH means an enclosed yard or garden. Our family likely originated in England. No one knows when the GARTHs came to the colonies or who John’s father was. There is a theory that another GARTH living in Virginia as early as 1733. Known as “Old John GARTH”, he could have been John’s father. Old John could read and write and so he may have come to the colonies from England as an indentured servant.  As always, more research is needed.

This ends the GARTH research.


Davis, Rosalie Edith. The Garth Family: Descendants of John Garth of Virginia, 1734-1986. Dexter, MI: Thomson-Shore, 1988. Print.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Salem BOCOCK (1721-1783) and Susanna BOW (1720-1757) -Married in 1740 Virginia

Flag of Virginia
Edna OTWELL-SIM > Edwin OTWELL > Maurice OTWELL > John F. OTWELL > Quintilla GARTH-OTWELL > John GARTH > Judith BOCOCK- GARTH > Salem BOCOCK and Susan BOW

There were several families in the colonies that used the BOCOCK surname (or variations of it). Salem was also listed as BOWCOCK in a few documents. There is no documentation linking Salem to any of these colonial families. It is believed that this surname is of French origin (BEAUCOCKE). It is suspected that his father was Henry BOWCOCK (1690-1730) of Virginia, husband of Mary. But, Salem does not appear in Henry’s 1742 will.

Salem was born about 1721 and probably in Virginia. Some researchers believe he was born in England. He married Susanna BOW (or BOWE) (1720-1757) about 1740 in Virginia. We do not know her parents names. They had at least 6 children: Judith (our ancestor), John, Mary/Mildred, Samuel, Elijah and Jason.

The earliest record for Salem was a 1742 Louisa County document that he witnessed.

Susannah must have died before 1757. In 1757, Salem was courting a local Quaker, the widow Agnes JOHNSON. The Quakers condemned Agnes for Salem’s “frequenting her house as a suitor.” Agnes broke up with Salem and returned to the Quakers, only to be condemned in 1758 for marrying a non-Quaker “by a priest”. It may be that Salem was the husband. But, this marriage did not last long and Agnes married another in 1764.

In November 1767, Salem and his son-in-law Thomas GARTH (our ancestor) drew up an article of agreement in which all of Salem’s entire estate was relinquished to GARTH. GARTH would then pay all of Salem’s taxes and provide accommodations to Salem. Any property that was sold, the proceeds would go to GARTH. Salem was only 46 years old at the time and it is unknown why this arrangement was made. The contract allowed Salem to request an annual allowance of 10% if he no longer wished to live in the GARTH household and within 2 years, he no longer appeared on GARTH’s tithe list. Another caveat of the contract was that GARTH would provide for Salem’s son Samuel who was ill and under the care of the Parish. The contract stated that if Samuel ever recovered and had to leave the Parish, GARTH would provide for him, too. (It is unknown if he ever recovered.) Also interesting is that this agreement was written by Patrick HENRY.

He may have become a Quaker in November 1776. He may have died in Bedford County, Virginia in 1783 and it is unknown where he or Susanna were buried.

This ends the BOCOCK and BOW research.


Davis, Rosalie Edith. The Garth Family: Descendants of John Garth of Virginia, 1734-1986. Dexter, MI: Thomson-Shore, 1988. Print.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Judith BOCOCK-GARTH (1740-1806)

Judith's signature
Edna SIM > Edwin OTWELL > Maurice OTWELL > John F. OTWELL > Quintilla GARTH-OTWELL > John GARTH > Judith BOCOCK- GARTH

Judith, daughter of Salem BOCOCK (1721-1776) and Susannah BOW (1720-1757), was born about 1740 in Virginia.

A few references cite Judith’s surname as LONG. It is noted that one of her grandchildren, Mildred BOCOCK, also had the surname LONG referenced in a few documents. It may be that LONG was an ancestor’s surname from the BOW side that was used as a middle name. Or, it could be that her mother Susannah was previously married to someone named LONG. Most research agrees that BOCOCK was the correct surname.

Judith married her childhood friend Thomas GARTH (1740-1806) in 1761 in Louisa Co., VA. They settled in Albemarle County and had at least 9 children: John (our ancestor), Ann, Thomas Jr., Sarah, Susannah, Elijah, Jessie Winston, Garland and Mildred.

Judith died about 1806 at about 70 years old. We do not know where her grave is located.


Davis, Rosalie Edith. The Garth Family: Descendants of John Garth of Virginia, 1734-1986. Dexter, MI: Thomson-Shore, 1988. Print.