We are still making improvements and changing things around. Since our goal is to uncover our family roots, document the families and recognize their accomplishments we’ve decided to give Isaac’s Ark blog posts top billing. Our Homepage still explains who we are and our goals. While the posts may be a bit slow making it to the internet, there is a lot being added on the Genealogy end.
We began our search with limited information. A journal entry by Joachim Hammitt, tells us our history begins in New Jersey. In 1791 Samuel and Jane Hammitt witnessed the will of Andrew Corson, a Maurice River resident. The 1793 will of John Kille refers to his Maurice River plantation as being in “possession of Samuel Hammitt”. For us, those two documents confirmed we had New Jersey roots. Concentrating our search in New Jersey, we next discovered the Burlington County family of George Hammitt and Rhoda Packer. A second Hammitt family in New Jersey deserved a closer look.
George Hammitt and Rhoda Packer
The genealogy of George Hammitt and Rhoda Packer is repeated many times on Ancestry.com. For the most part, the trees are consistent, well researched and well documented. George Hammitt and Sarah Ruckman are most often identified as the parents of George Hammitt (Rhoda Packer’s husband). In a previous post we questioned whether this was accurate and still consider his origin a mystery. (See: George Hammitt or George Hamack.) George Hammitt is listed as an immigrant from Nova Scotia1 and the marriage of George and Rhoda is recorded in the U.S. and International Marriage Records2. This record identifies Rhoda’s birthplace as Pennsylvania, but provides no information regarding George. The records don’t prove Rhoda Packer’s husband was the immigrant from Nova Scotia. But they do deserve consideration when trying to identify George Hammitt. We have not been able to directly connect our family to the family of George and Rhoda. But we have continued to research the family, relying heavily on the Packer family records for support.
Rhoda Packer Borton and Mathias Aspden, Jr.
The search for Rhoda Packer lead us to the History of the Borton and Mason Families in Europe and America, by Freeman Clark Mason. Published in 1908, the book includes the 1823 Affirmation of Rhoda (Packer) Borton from the case of Packer vs. Nixon. The case sought to identify the heirs of Mathias Aspden, Jr., who was also a Packer family descendant. Rhoda Packer Borton and Mathias Aspden, Jr., were first cousins. Litigation in the matter began in 1828 and continued until 1850, following a second hearing ordered by the Supreme Court. One of the issues addressed was the 1786 transfer of property originally purchased by Aspden’s great grandfather from William Penn. At the conclusion of the matter, the property in question had grown in value to approximately $600,000. Determining the heirs was, without question, of great interest to many people.
Rhoda Borton’s statement identifies multiple generations of the Packer family, including the family of her aunt, Rhoda Packer Hammitt, wife of George Hammitt. The document is an important part of any genealogical research related to early New Jersey families. We have posted a transcript of Rhoda Borton’s Affirmation in the features section on the Genealogy homepage. A digital copy of The History of the Borton and Mason Families in Europe and America, by Freeman Clark Mason, 1908, is available online at: Archive.org. The Affirmation is found on page 257/image 382.
Descendants of the Packer Family
Surnames referenced in the statement include: Hartley, Aspden, Brick, Hinchman, Zanes, Ellis, Kay, Lopen, Bailey, Caldwell, Sims, Duffield, Reynolds, Cox, Bee, Hunt, Leeds, Wiley, Sickler, VanSciver, Wheaton, Haines, Manning, Wothon, and Coates
1 “U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s – Ancestry.Com.” Accessed November 24, 2019. https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=7486&h=2663983&ssrc=pt&tid=50220280&pid=27779849451&usePUB=true.
2 “U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 – Ancestry.Com.” Accessed May 1, 2017. http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=7836&h=520494&ssrc=pt&tid=50220280&pid=27779849451&usePUB=true.
Getting Back on Track
We still haven’t solved the mystery of our first Isaac Hammitt, but we have pieced together quite a few Hammitt, Hammett and Hammatt families. New to our genealogy section is a Master Tree, located in the “Branches” menu. This tree is a collection of all the families we have researched and includes many of the families they married into. The decision to concentrate on searching left little time for website blogging. The more information we uncovered, the faster the months started slipping by. Each day brought new discoveries and took us in directions we had never considered in the past. As we began following the families of spouses we ventured down new paths and each new path seemed to lead to more family relationships.Continue reading
Much like the story from a few weeks ago, about how often Asahel Barnes is confused with his cousin, Asahel Barnes, it appears there are times when George Hamack is mistaken for George Hammitt of Burlington County, New Jersey. As a result, the records of their sons, each named Samuel and each with a wife whose maiden name was Sharp, are also merged together in some histories. The story of two Georges, two Samuels and two Sharp women is as difficult to understand as it is to tell. Many of the facts we uncovered were discovered while trying to confirm whether Samuel Hammitt, the son of George Hammitt and Rhoda Packer, was married to Elizabeth Sharp or Esther Sharp.
The Haddonfield Monthly Minutes of the Friends Society recorded the marriage of Esther Sharp and Samuel Hamack, son of George Hamack, deceased, in 1749. Wondering if this was an alternate spelling of the Hammitt name, we dug a little deeper. Continue reading
Samuel Hammitt (1754-1807) and Jane Simmons (1750-1825)
Our biggest roadblock throughout this search has been determining the ancestors of Samuel Hammitt and Jane Simmons. Following the family’s roots back to Philadelphia was easily documented. Documenting a jump across the river has proven a bit more challenging. It was Joachim’s journal that told us to make the leap when he identified his ancestor as Isaac, who first made a home in South Jersey. Almost all the 1800, 1810 and 1820 New Jersey Federal Census records were lost, the exception being the 1800 records for Cumberland County and the 1820 records for Roxbury and Morris Counties. While the Cumberland County records survived, they are not available online. For the time being we rely on tax records, Wills or the abstracts of Wills, Church records and the Monthly Meeting records of the Friends Society. Through these records we identify extended family members and begin to understand the relationships between families.
Samuel is first found in the records of Christ Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where, on 10 January 1763, Samuel, his sister, Mary, and their father, Isaac, were Baptized by Rev. Richard Peters, D.O. Continue reading
The tradition of naming children after family members has been widely practiced throughout history. Asahel Barnes is a perfect example of how difficult it can be to separate one person from another. The honor of having a namesake to carry on your legacy must have held a great deal of esteem. While still practiced today, it seems to be less of a trend. Even though we may still name our children after a grandparent or relative, today’s names project individuality. No longer is it common to have 4 or 5 children with the same name, all born within a year or two in one family.
Determining who belongs to which record, or even which family, can be not only challenging, but enlightening. These are the discoveries that often lead to forgotten family ties. Sharing how we settled our identity questions will hopefully clear the air for the next researcher.
Both Asahel’s descend from the first Thomas Barnes (b. 1623) that emigrated to America. They both married wives with the surname Ives and their birth and death dates are within a few years of each other. Continue reading
A Blended Family in 1850
Listed in the 1850 Census for the 5th Ward of Kensington are John K Hammett, born 1833, and Thomas J Hammett, born 1835. They are living with the family of David and Elizabeth Gominger Hammitt Fow in the Northern Liberties section. The household of Elizabeth and David introduces us to a blended family of Hammitt, Gominger, Sutton and Carr family members. The 1850 Census didn’t identify relationships, making it easy to assume most of the residents are boarders. But a closer look uncovers family ties and clears up a few mysteries.
Elizabeth Gominger Hammitt Fow
A search for David Fow tells us he and Elizabeth Hammitt were married on May 23, 1841 in the Kensington Methodist Episcopal Church. Living with David and Elizabeth Fow in 1850 are Continue reading
Taking a Closer Look at the Early Census Reports
Manually adding Census info to the genealogy database has proven to be an interesting project. While I love researching genealogy, I have to admit reading a Government website about Government documents holds very little appeal. Eventually I gave in, started reading and learned a few things. What surprised me most was that there is a second screen of information in the 1840 Census. It’s there that you’ll find the names and ages of Revolutionary Pensioners. You’ll also find information about how the family earned a living. Were they involved in manufacturing, commerce, farming or some kind of navigation on the rivers or oceans? I didn’t realize the questions asked by the enumerators referred to the date of the Census, not the when the questions were asked. For example, the official date of the 1830 Census was June 1st and it took an entire year to complete. This meant if the enumerator was at your house in May of 1831 you were expected to give an accounting of the previous year.
The first 20 years of Census data only provides us with a tally of family members and the name of the head of household. Continue reading
Each family has its’ stories passed down through the generations. For us, one of the most intriguing tales is the story of how our 3rd Great Grandfather, Isaac Hammitt, got his name. If you read the previous post, Isaac Hammitt, John Kille and Isaac’s Ark, you know there was a pact between two impressed seamen resulting in a long held family tradition. The book Life in Apollo in the 1890’s, by Marion Dewees Gropen, tells a similar story. Discovering the story had been passed down through another Hammitt family gave it credibility and piqued our curiosity.
The Isaac featured on our home page was born in New Jersey in 1790, the son of Samuel Hammitt and Jane Simmons. His grandson, Joachim (pronounced Joe-ah-cheem) wrote a series of notes in 1941. His words best describe the story:
The tradition of family names has been observed for generations. Though not quite as popular now as it once was, it’s a tradition still followed in some families. Most often it’s a name that holds significant meaning, honoring a person of great accomplishment or character. The name Isaac was especially popular in our family throughout the 1800’s, making it difficult to determine what record goes with which Isaac or even which Isaac goes with what family. The Hammitt family actually had two naming traditions. Most prominent was the name Isaac. Our first Isaac has proven to be somewhat of a mystery and difficult to document. But family notes, bits of information and a tradition that lasted generations tell us he existed. Since so much of our family history is centered on shipbuilding, we decided an Ark would be the perfect place to gather all the Isaac’s. And so, the meaning of Isaac’s Ark.
The second name, although not quite as common but equally important, is John Kille Hammitt. Continue reading