Tag Archives: Jane Simmons

Rhoda Packer Borton and Her Affirmation

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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.

Fennell Family

The Fennell family connects to the Hammitt line in 1923 when Ruth Eva Fennell married Isaac Edwin Hammitt on October 6th. Isaac was the 2x’s great grandson of Samuel Hammitt and Jane Simmons. The photo featured in the header of the website is of Isaac and his children.

Currently the family is represented in Cheryl’s tree. This branch of the tree holds the records of over 1000 Fennell descendants and ancestors. From church beginnings to the discovery of oil, the Fennell families played a large part in the settling of Western Pennsylvania. Although family events and accomplishments are well documented the progenitor of the family is not.

Like other Fennell researchers we have relied heavily on The Fennell Chronicles, by Mrs. Raymond Ralston. Mrs. Ralston’s accounting identifies Frederick Fehnel, Sr. as the “earliest Fennell ancestor” and one of four brothers. In a letter to Mrs. Ralston, Lt. Col. Fennell identifies the four as: Christopher, Frederick, Conrad and Abraham. He also wrote that tradition tells us the family “fled Germany during the prosecution of Protestants to England during 1702 – 1709, thence coming to America”.

Newspaper accounts from 1911 reported the first Fehnel reunion, held at the Moorestown church in Moorestown, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. Attended by over 60 families from seven states, the reunion was held to honor the memory of Gottlieb Fehnel. It was reported that Gottlieb had “settled in Northampton County in the early part of the eighteenth century” having landed “from Odenwald, Germany.

Could Gottlieb have been the first Fennell?