Searching for Samuel Hammitt and Jane Simmons

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.[1]  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.  At the time, Samuel was nine years old and Mary was two.[2]  The lack of New Jersey records for the period make it difficult to confirm with certainty this is our ancestor, but the Baptism record suggests there may be something to Joachim’s statement that Isaac was his ancestor.


Samuel and Jane Hammitt are found next in the 1791 Will of Andrew Corson, Sr.  The Corson Will, proved in Maurice River Township, Cumberland County, named as executors William Peterson and Nathan Newton.  The witnesses were Moses Morgan, Samuel Hammitt and Jane Hammitt.[3]  The 1793 Will of John Kille provides us with the next bit of evidence regarding Samuel Hammitt.  John Kille (1740-1793) had amassed a great deal of land throughout his life.  In his Will, he left detailed instructions regarding the properties, including naming those who, at the time, were in possession of the land.  His Will leaves to his fourth son, Joseph Kille, a “plantation on the easterly side of Morris [Maurice] River, [Cumberland Co.], now in possession of Samuel Hammitt and bought of William Conner”.  John Kille left his two grandsons each £100.  He also bequeathed to “Samuel Hammitt, of Morris River, £100”. [4]


At first not having access to the early census records seemed like a huge stumbling block.  But it forced us to move away from what we were comfortable with and broaden our search.  Doing so resulted in the discovery of the Baptism records and confirmed the existence of Isaac.  John Kille’s bequest to Samuel lends credence to the fact there may have been some sort of relationship beyond that of landlord and tenant.  The Corson Will tells us there was not only a Samuel Hammitt living in the area, but also Jane Hammitt.  Is it possible Nathan Newton, one of the executors of Andrew Corson’s Will, was the namesake for Isaac Newton Hammitt?  That’s a search for another day.  But for now, I know that had those early Census records been available I probably would have missed more than I found.



 

[1] “New Jersey Census Records,” accessed November 29, 2016, http://www.censusfinder.com.  (N.J. Census Records Directory: New Jersey)

2 “Search Christ Church Parish Registers,” accessed November 29, 2016, http://www.philageohistory.org/rdic-images/ChristChurch/search-register.cfm?fn=&ln=hammitt&t=&s=ln&d=a.

3 “Ancestry.com – New Jersey, Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817,” 89, accessed November 29, 2016, http://interactive.ancestry.com/2793/32669_236614-00094/26045?backurl=http://person.ancestry.com/tree/50220280/person/65000324104/facts/citation/343735520528/edit/record.

4 Ibid., 215.

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