Thursday, February 14, 2013

Family Tale of Samuel H. Slater from Wayne County Pennsylvania Lost in Boston Fire- Part 3

After I found those wicked awesome articles, I began to search for Samuel Slater and this event on google.  No luck, but wait.  There were three other people that died in this fire with him.  Maybe if I search for them I will find something on google.   

I begin to make my way through my list I created with keywords, places and people.  As I work through my combinations, I search google for "Henry Ward" (one of the other men that died) and Damascus.  I find a website with Henry Ward buried in Lookout Cemetery, Damascus Township with a notation that says "(same plot as Sam Slate)".  I search the webpage for Slater knowing the "r" was missing from Slater.  No Slater named Sam, however once again the "r" was missing.  A "Slate, Sam L. H. GAR GR.L. NY GAV (same plot as Henry Ward)" is buried in the cemetery.  (Slate [Slater], Sam L. [SamL] H. GAR GR.L. [Co. L] NY GAV [CAV]) 

Is this my Sam?  There are other people buried in this cemetery with the last name Slater.  Two of which are jumping off the page.       

"Slater, William T. 1877 - _____ (husband Mary C. Brown)"
"Brown, Mary C. 1876-1913 (wife of William T. Slater)"

These are my great-grandmother's parents!!  William T. [Thomas] is the son of my Samuel H. Slater.  (If you could have only seen me doing the snoopy dance of joy!) 

Another bonus...SAMUEL IS A CIVIL WAR VET!!!  Possible Pension File?

After this discovery, my father contacted the Equinunk Historical Society in Pennsylvania.  They sent us a wonderful article from the Honesdale Citizen that talked about all the specifics of the house fire at Senator Joel Hill's residence at Lookout in Damascus Township, Wayne County, Pennsylvania.  The article stated that Samuel was a pensioner, and left behind "a wife and quite a large family of grown up children".  They also sent information about the National Historical Site - Joel Hill Saw Mill, where Sam may have worked.

I would say based on the evidence collected thus far that this is likely my Sam.  I will continue to search for more documentation to confirm this.  Samuel's pension file is currently "missing" at the NARA, and they are looking for it.

Likely, my 3x great grandfather, Samuel H. Slater, did die in a fire just not in Boston.  He died in a fire at the residence of Senator Joel Hill.  For those of you that remembered from earlier that the only thing that was left was a ring.  Well, that part is kinda true.  It wasn't a ring, but suspender buckles.  That is how they identified him after the fire.

I would like to Thank Linda Blum-Barton, who is the host of the website Wayne County PAGenWeb.  There is lots of great genealogical information for Wayne County, Pennsylvania on this website!  The cemetery information on the website allowed me to help put the pieces of the puzzle together! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Family Tale of Samuel H. Slater from Wayne County Pennsylvania Lost in Boston Fire- Part 2

This story of Samuel Slater being killed in a hotel fire (see previous post) was not know to me as I began the search for information about my great grandmother (Helen Jane Slater) and her branch of the family tree.

I was on in search of any newspaper reference to my Slater family of Wayne County, Pennsylvania or Sullivan County, New York. I was about to give up when all of the sudden I see an article about a Samuel Slater, similar age according to the information I do have, that died in a house fire in Honesdale, Pennsylvania in April 1904.

Source Citation:  "Four Burned To Death," Wilkes-Barre Times (Wilkes-Barre, PA), 11 April 1904, p. 10; digital images, ( : accessed 30 November 2012), Newspaper Archives (1690 - 2010).

Hmmm. Then I find another article with an age that is very close to my Samuel Slater.

Source Citation:  "To Bury Four In One Grave," Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA), 17 April 1904, vol. 150, issue 108, p. 7; digital images, ( : accessed 30 November 2012), Newspaper Archives (1690 - 2010).

I can't stop here! Is this my Samuel Slater that supposedly died in a hotel fire in Boston? To be continued....

Friday, February 8, 2013

What To Get A Genealogist For Their Birthday - Civil War Pension Files

Genealogy is a passion of mine, and has been since I was a little girl.  It is a passion that has been passed down in my family for over 70 years from my great-great Aunt Hazel to my father and to me.  Since my Aunt passed almost ten years ago, my father and I make it a regular habit to email back and forth about online finds, new cousins found, and discussions about our ancestors.  In fact,  you could probably say that we have this secret language.  We will have conversations that drive my mother crazy sometimes because she can't always figure out who we are talking about.  Many times we may only mention the person we are discussing by their first name, as we know them personally. 

Recently, we have become more interested in some of our ancestors that served in the Civil War.  We have spent time learning about these men and finding what we could about their lives.  All the men that fought and survived received pensions in my family, which is just wicked awesome.  Many of the men, particularly my ancestors from the Sullivan County, New York and Wayne County, Pennsylvania area, we know very little about.  Yes, there are a few trees with information online completed by others, but no sources.  I don't trust those trees when there are no sources cited.  We do have one distant cousin we talk with who has done an incredible job with the family tree, and has incredible sources!  I can't wait to meet her one day in person! 

My father's birthday was coming up, and I had no idea what to ever get him.  The love of my life, Jason, and I could not figure out what to get him.  We went back and forth for the longest time.  In bed one night, I had a thought that what if I got a pension file from the NARA for one of our civil war ancestors for my father's birthday gift.  I shared this with Jason, and we thought it was a great idea.  This is like a dream come true gift for a genealogist!  So, I ordered the file the next day from the NARA using the online form.

Well, two days later I get an email from NARA stating that the file could not be found.  WHAT!  NOT FOUND!  I didn't give up!  Well, I can't go to the NARA because I live in New England and it is located in Washington DC.  So, I contacted another professional genealogist I know that might have someone she uses to get files from the NARA.  Sure enough, she did and I contacted that person.  This was the best gift ever, and I was not going to take a "file not found" answer.  I was going to have to wait a few weeks until the lovely lady was going to visit the NARA, and not only was I going to get the one file I originally wanted, but I could get ALL the pension files for just a little more than what NARA charges for one.  YES ALL OF THEM!  I was in genealogy heaven!!

I woke up this morning (knowing she went yesterday) to an email from her, and a photograph of every piece of paper in each file!  No better way to start the day off!!  I am so excited to be able to give my father this birthday gift!!  If you ever can't think what to get a genealogist for their birthday, how about a set of documents from NARA or another repository.

Side Note:  The file NARA couldn't find.  They told her it was checked out, and they are looking into where it went.  I hope they find it, since this is the file on Samuel H. Slater that I have begun writing about in this blog.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Family History Writing Challenge

I heard through the grapevine (from my BU Alumni Study Group) about a challenge that was going on for the month of February.  It is The Family History Writing Challenge from The Armchair Genealogist, Lynn Palermo.  I absolutely love chasing down the research and sharing the stories.  Usually, those stories are told about my process and the great finds., however mostly oral, not written.  I will be the first to admit that I am terrible about writing up my family history.  I think part of it comes from feeling like the stories I write up have to be just perfect.  In order for me to tackle this idea of not being perfect and start writing, I joined this Family History Writing Challenge.

Everyday I receive an email with great ideas about writing my family history.  One idea was that I loved was to take out a photo of an ancestor that you love and speaks to you.  My writing challenge foal for today is to find a photo and write about it.  I selected one of my favorite photos of my grandfather, Kenneth Ernest Hackett.

Kenneth Ernest Hackett was the only son of Ernest Edward and Jennie Ella (Sheltra) Hackett born 20 June 1911 in Hartford, Windsor, Vermont, and died on 9 June 1975 in Hartford, Windsor, Vermont.  He married Elsie Mae (Rose) on 22 September 1937 in Hartford, Windsor, Vermont.  Kenneth and Elsie had three children and five grandchildren.  These are the facts of Kenneth, my paternal grandfather, however he was so much more.  Unfortunately, I never knew my grandfather, however his memory has lived on in my life through the stories shared.  I was in my early adulthood before I ever remember seeing a photo of him at my grandmother's house.  I thought it was a black and white photo of a bald man (Kenneth) sitting on an ottoman, and it sat in my grandmother's room.  Later, I received that photo of my grandfather from my grandmother for Christmas.  It was the best gift she could ever give me, and it turned out to be a photo that was taken from a newspaper clipping.  Who was this man I often wondered?  What kind of man was he? 

The photo above sums up who I believe my grandfather to be.  A confident, but humble, handsome man that was loving and nurturing.  Kenneth stands confidently holding this beautiful white horse.  The wind must have been blowing that day, and it may have been a warmer winter or early spring day.  This may be one of the only photos of my grandfather as an adult with a full head of hair.  It shows how much he loved and respected animals.  The stories of my grandfather and his love of animals has always been shared with me, and this picture clearly shows it.  He would often feed the neighborhood strays or take them in.  Though he isn't smiling in the photo, my grandfather is displaying his horse with pride. 

Things I do know about my grandfather is he was intelligent, humble and loving.  My grandfather was valedictorian of his high school class.  At the time of his death, Kenneth was the acting fire chief of the Hartford Fire Department.  The story is he lied about his age to join the fire department because he was afraid of fire and wanted to conquer that fear.  I am often told that I would probably have had him wrapped around my finger, and that I often do things like him.  When I was about 17 or 18 I walked into my Great-Great Aunt Hazel's house in the middle of winter asking for paper bags.  My parents and my aunt wanted to know why.  I said to cover the floor mats of course because I wanted to prevent them from getting all sandy and salty.  My dad laughed because apparently that is what my grandfather use to do for the same reason. 

So lesson....EVERYONE GET OUT AND WRITE IT DOWN!  Write those stories down and your family history to share.  Don't just make it dates.  Make the people come alive.  Now I need to interview the rest of the family to get their thoughts and stories about my grandfather. 

Thanks Lynn.  I hope you do this challenge again and even more people join in!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Family Tale of Samuel H. Slater from Wayne County Pennsylvania Lost in Boston Fire- Part 1

I have always loved hearing family stories or family tales.  I was that kid that use to bug my elders to tell me stories of what life was like, something they did or family stories.  Often these stories conveyed to us are passed down from one generation to the next, and it is like playing telephone.  By the time it gets around to the last person, you are lucky if the original message was correct.  Well, today's family tale is about my Slater family branch from Wayne County, Pennsylvania and Sullivan County, New York.

Growing up my father was told that his 2x Great Grandfather, Samuel H. Slater, died in a hotel fire in Boston, and all that was left was a ring he wore on his finger.  My father searched for years trying to find some record or newspaper article about a hotel fire in Boston, Massachusetts in the early 1900's.  The searches always came up empty.

Though this event was very tragic, it is exciting to know that there may have been a historical event that my ancestor was involved with. Why was a man that remained in the same area of the country his whole life go to Boston and was he really killed in a hotel fire? 

In the mean time, I knew very little about Samuel H. Slater, and what I did know mostly came from US Federal Census Records.  Here is the condensed version...

He was the father of William Thomas Slater and grandfather of Helen Jane Slater.

In 1850, Saml Slater (age 11) resided in Lumberland, Sullivan, New York within the household of David Slater.

In 1860, Samuel H. Slater (age 22) resided in Tusten, Sullivan, New York within the household of David Slater.

By 1870, Samuel Slater (age 34) resided in Damascus, Wayne, Pennsylvania. In 1880, Samuel Slater (age 40) resided in Damascus, Wayne, Pennsylvania.

In 1900, Samuel Slater (age 62) resided in Manchester Township, Wayne, Pennsylvania. Samuel married Mary A. (_____) probably in 1863, and had six children, James, Jane, Charles E., William Thomas, Samuel C. and Grace M. 

In 1900, residing next door was Thomas Slater (aka William Thomas), wife Mary C. (____) and daughter, Helen J.

Samuel most likely died prior to 1910 because Mary A. (_____) is listed as Widow in the 1910 US Census.

To Be Continued...