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.
Once we broadened our search we began to look a little closer at the spelling differences, “Hammitt” vs “Hammett” vs “Hammatt”. At times the Hammitt and Hammett spellings seemed to depend more on the Census taker’s handwriting or spelling capabilities than anything else, giving the impression the two names were interchangeable. As our list of Hammitt’s and Hammett’s grew larger, and our search a bit more intensive, we began to see, not only distinct family lines where the spelling was consistent, but also lines where the spelling changed. Family lore tells us two brothers had a disagreement and one changed the spelling. I’ve come across this story one other time, which may or may not give it credence. Family stories are not usually given much credibility. Folklore gets embellished over the years, unsavory parts are left out and things tend to get a bit jumbled. But the stories carried through the generations usually have an origin of truth buried between the lines. These stories come from somewhere and at the very least they deserve some thought.
Genealogy has always relied on documentation, family folklore
and, in some cases, a good old-fashioned leap of faith. More importantly, it relies on collaboration
that includes the sharing of information, stories and theories. We have no way of knowing if or when the
disagreement between brothers took place, or which brothers found themselves on
What makes the disagreement story a bit intriguing is DNA
evidence suggesting a familiar relationship between our Hammitt lineage and that
of 3 Hammett family lines. These families are represented by a branch icon in
the Branches menu. We haven’t found that
missing link, but I believe it’s out there.
I also know we can’t solve our mystery without looking closely at the
lineages of all the Hammitt, Hammett and Hammatt families, as well as the
families of those they married.
Hopefully by looking beyond the obvious we’ll find the answer to our
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 →
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: Continue reading →
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 →
The Hammitt families were well known for their ship building talents and skills. From steamboats to schooners, each of the Hammitt men who engaged in shipbuilding excelled at their talents. As a young man, Isaac Hammitt was one of the many Kensington shipswrights called on to assist with the building of USS Niagara in Erie, Pennsylvania. He later became a principal owner of the Isaac Hammitt Yard in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania. Isaac’s son, Isaac Hammitt, Jr., was a well known shipbuilder in his own right. The same was true for his son, Joachim Murat Hammitt. Follow us as we piece together the stories of these men and their families.
Isaac Hammitt and Mary Louise Augustine Photo courtesy of James M Hammitt
The search for ancestors and relatives connects us all to new families. Go back a few generations and you’ll come across names you don’t recognize. Dig a little deeper and you begin to realize the role those families played in your own history. Keep searching and ultimately you will hit the inevitable “brick wall”. We search through church records, census reports, family cemetery plots – the list goes on and on. Eventually we start branching out to the families we didn’t recognize at first and begin to realize those family histories may hold clues to the answers we are looking for. Our search has lead us down a variety of paths and family histories beyond Hammitt ancestors and descendants.
We all interpret the information we find a bit differently. In the genealogy section of the website you will find two trees, each with its’ own version of the family history we share. There are probably as many differences as there are similarities between our versions. We made the decision not to merge our information into one family tree, but to keep them separate, allowing us to branch out in different directions. One tree will lead you back through the Bosworth family from England, while the other concentrates on several families in South Jersey.
We are still in the beginning stages of developing the website. Here are a few of the families you’ll begin to see in the database as we move forward with the transition to the website:
The blog, Isaac’s Ark, gives us the opportunity to discuss the families, their history and how they are related. Registration is required if you would like to comment on a blog post. Use the Contact Us form to introduce yourself, be sure to include a little bit about your interest in the site. The Genealogy section is separate and is where you will find the family trees. Registration is required for access. Again, please include something about your interest when completing the registration form.