Perth Amboy

Irene Bell Wait of Perth Amboy, New Jersey—my new theory

Irene Bell Wait (b. 1764) married my fifth great-grandfather David Wait (b. 1754, Edinburgh, Scotland) on 21 April 1874. They lived in Perth Amboy, Middlesex County, New Jersey.

A recent comment left on my post Irene Bell Wait, one of my brick walls, which I wrote nearly 7 years ago, prompted me to go back and re-read it. You know, whenever I read my old posts, which isn’t very often, I kind of come away amazed that I managed to come up with so much information. Maybe some of you fellow family history bloggers feel the same way: “Did I write all that??!”

Anyway, that first post mentions an Andrew Bell, a witness to David Wait’s will, which was executed on October 29, 1810, shortly before David succumbed. His wife Irene Bell had died in 1804 at age 39, leaving him with 11 children, many of whom were still very young when he died. Twenty-year-old daughter Margaret was left a house in which she was to raise her younger siblings.

I wanted to try to connect Andrew Bell with Irene Bell as this was the first time I actually sensed I had a lead as to her possible identity, but my attempts to link the two failed.

My latest theory, and it’s only a very loose theory at the moment, was spawned by a reexamination of materials I’d already read and the discovery of a few new ones, and that is that Andrew Bell (b. 1757) and Irene Bell (b. 1764) were half-siblings.

This hinges on “Andrew Bell” being the Andrew Bell who was born in 1757, in Philadelphia, to English-born John Bell (cir. 1725-1778) and his first wife Hannah Smith, daughter of Frederick Smith of Philadelphia, hatter.* One other child, Cornelia Bell, was born in 1755. She eventually married William Paterson, one of the signers of the Constitution. She is mentioned on the website www.constitutionfacts.com under the heading “The Women Behind the Signers of the U.S. Constitution” (note: the birth and death dates are incorrect).

Andrew Bell and his father John Bell were Loyalists, while Cornelia was pro independence. How the family dealt with these divided loyalties is reflected in the numerous letters Cornelia wrote to her brother during the war years. You can read about this in the book Past and Present: Lives of New Jersey Women

At some point, the marriage between John Bell and Cornelia and Andrew’s mother Hannah Smith ended, and John Bell remarried on 27 April 1763, to widow Annaatje “Anna” Meyer Tilden (1731-1819, daughter of Johannes Pietersz Meyer and Elizabeth Pell**; Find a Grave memorial #16213136). Anna Meyer’s first husband Captain Richard Tilden had died in October 1762 in Philadelphia. They had been married for roughly 11 years and had had two children:

Richard, who died in infancy, and John Bell Tilden, December 1762-1838 (Find a Grave memorial #16213149). Obviously, given the second son’s name was John Bell Tilden, the Tildens had some very close connection to John Bell. And, clearly, John Bell did not hesitate to leave Hannah to go take care of the Captain’s widow and her infant son.

From p. 465-466  of Volume IX of The Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, we can read the following about Captain Richard Tilden and son John Bell Tilden (note that the latter’s birth year here is given as 1761; his tombstone says 1762):

The Tilden or Tylden family is one of great antiquity in England; as far back as the reign of Edward III. We find William Tylden paying aid for land in Kent, when the Black Prince was knighted. ( I ) The first Tilden of whom we have record in America was Captain Richard Tilden of England, who died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. October, 1762. He married Anna Meyer, born in New York, August 31, 1731, daughter of John Meyer and Elizabeth (Pell) Meyer, and granddaughter of William and Elizabeth (Van Tuyl) Pell. She bore him two sons: John Bell, see forward, and one who died in infancy. (II) Dr. John Bell Tilden. son of Captain Richard and Anna (Meyer) Tilden, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 9, 1761, baptized in the Episcopal church, and died July 31, 1838, in New Town, now Stephen City, Virginia. He was a student at Princeton College at the time of the revolutionary war and left college to join the Continental army, receiving a commission as ensign. May 28, 1779, in the Second Regiment Pennsylvania line, commanded by Colonel Walter Stewart. He was subsequently promoted to second lieutenant, his commission to date from July 25, 1780. His regiment left York, Pennsylvania, for the southern campaign in the spring of 1781, and he was present at the siege of Yorktown and surrender of General Cornwallis.  At the close of the war he was honorably mustered out of service, and became a member of the Pennsylvania Society of the Cincinnati. During his entire service he kept a diary, which is now in the possession of the Pennsylvania Historical Society, in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania. Dr. Tilden settled in Frederick county, Virginia, where he practiced medicine until the close of his life. Some time prior to 1824 he was ordained to the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal church, and during the agitation of the question of lay representation, he advocated the equal rights of the laity with the clergy in the legislative department of the church, for which he and other prominent members were expelled for so-called heresy. In 1872 the church admitted its error by adopting lay representation into its polity. Long before the subject of African slavery took a political shape, Dr. Tilden manumitted his slaves and sent them to Liberia with one year’s outfit. Dr. Tilden married August 9, 1784, Jane Chambers, born in York county, Pennsylvania, December 18, 1766, died May, 1827, (laughter of Joseph and Martha (McCalmont) Chambers, of York, Pennsylvania. [It goes on to list all the children and their progeny.]

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John Bell was 38 when he married Anna Tilden. She was 32, so it would have been highly plausible for her to have had more children. Was Irene Bell, one of my fifth great-grandmothers, a product of this union?

Irene Bell was born in 1764. When John Bell died in 1778 at his Bellfield Estate in Bridgewater Township, Somerset County, New Jersey. Irene would have been about 14. The fact that she is not mentioned in John Bell’s will does not seem surprising to me given her age. Note to self to try to find Anna Bell’s will. Perhaps, Irene is mentioned in it.

John Bell’s will appears on page 40 of the New Jersey, Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817 (accessible via Ancestry website, and probably Family Search). In his will, John leaves the following:

  • $500 to wife Anna Meyer Tilden Bell;
  • $200 to ex-wife Hannah Smith;
  • “a negro” to stepson John B. Tilden, who was anti-slavery (as per the Virginia biographical info above) and surely would have freed this individual;
  • “a negro woman, Delia, and her son Rory” to daughter Cornelia Bell;
  • “house and fifty acres of land in Bridgewater Township, Somerset County” to son Andrew Bell;
  • “All my lands in Earls Colne, in County of Essex, England” to friend Mark Grime of Witham, County Essex, England;
  • Residue of Estate to Anna Bell, Cornelia Bell, Andrew Bell, and John Tilden.

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Last reflections:  Irene Bell married David Wait in 1784; it had struck me before that some of the names in their family Bible appeared to be the German/Dutch variants. If Irene’s mother was from a Dutch community and had a Dutch upbringing, as Anna Meyer did, this may explain why a few names in the family Bible sound Dutch. Also, her first two sons were named David and John. Perhaps, David’s father was also David.  If Irene’s father was John Bell, the name John would have been thoroughly appropriate for a second-born son.

In one of my past posts, I’d mentioned that there was some confusion as to which side of the Revolutionary War events David Wait was on. Given what I’ve learned recently—about Perth Amboy being a Loyalist stronghold during the War—the version of him coming to America as a member of the British forces and subsequently being captured now makes the most sense. It would also make sense that David felt comfortable marrying into a Loyalist family. The War had only officially ended a little more than six months prior to their marriage.

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If you have read this far, you are probably someone interested in this family line. Please let me know if you ever find anything that corroborates (or refutes) my “theory”; I will certainly keep chipping away at this. Hopefully we can all get this figured out some day!

PS: I will say that I am very confused by the fact that John Bell had two wives and took the second one while the first was still living. I’ve been doing some reading on marriage, etc. during the pre-Revolutionary Colonial period. Divorce was very uncommon. I will have to look into this some more, but from what I’ve read thus far, the laws in place would likely only have condoned divorce in cases of abuse, adultery, cruelty, or abandonment, and would not have awarded the guilty party the opportunity to remarry while the wronged party was still alive. So was Hannah Smith the guilty party here? Did her actions lead to a divorce and John Bell’s remarriage to Captain Tilden’s widow?

John Bell Tilden was born in December 1872, two months after his father Captain Richard Tilden died. Did Anna name the baby John Bell Tilden because John had been supporting her financially and morally? They married four months after the baby was born.

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*See page 40 of the New Jersey, Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817

**Ancestry.com. New York City, Compiled Marriage Index, 1600s-1800s [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.

Categories: Bell, Loyalists, New Jersey, Perth Amboy, Presbyterian, Revolutionary War, Wait, Woodbridge | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

John Oliver Wait (1787-1876) of Perth Amboy

The Independent Hour, Woodbridge, NJ, Thursday, Dec 7, 1876

I stumbled on an obituary recently for my fourth great-grandfather, John O. Wait of Perth Amboy, NJ. It was in the 7 December 1876 issue of The Independent Hour (Woodbridge, Middlesex Co., NJ).

A carpenter, and later a baker, by trade, John lived to the very ripe old age of 89, outliving his wife Elizabeth Crow by 22 years, and his daughter (my 3rd-great-grandmother Margaret Wait) by nearly 25 years. At the time of his death, he was one of the oldest, if not the oldest, citizens in the town.

The obit is short and sweet but provides me with some new details:

  • He was “an undertaker for a number of years”, which makes perfect sense—I’m sure he was called on to make plenty of coffins anyway.
  • He died “at the residence of his son, James T. Wait” (b. 1824).
  • He was “an amiable and straightforward man, and filled many offices of trust and importance in the city.” While I’d known he was someone who’d had his fingers in many pies (sometimes, perhaps, quite literally!), it was pleasant to read those characteristics nonetheless. For a past post on John, click here.
  • “The funeral services were held in the Baptist Church, after which the remains were taken to the cemetery for internment.” This surprised me, since I’d have thought that any funeral would have taken place at the Presbyterian Church where his father had been a founding member.

baptist_church I can think of a few others in my/our family tree who made it to such a ripe old age, or even farther: Isaac Jaques (1791-1880); Captain Richard Brodhead (1666-1758); Andrew Jackson Brodhead (1822-1913); Daniel Westbrook Dingman (1774-1862); and there may be others. But as the blog I’ve linked to below points out, the average age back then, which was in the forties, was just that—an average. Many attained old age, and they did it without all the healthcare advantages we have today.

Well, that’s the morsel I am sharing today. Have a good weekend.

Resources:
Other blog posts on the Wait family: See: Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, Post 4, Post 5 and Post 6
Passion for the Past – Blog: Post on 19th century Mourning Practices; Post on The Average Life Expectancy Myth

Categories: Perth Amboy, Wait | Tags: | 4 Comments

The David Wait and John Oliver Wait families of Perth Amboy, New Jersey

In the nearly four years I’ve been doing this blog, I don’t recall anyone contacting me about the Perth Amboy, NJ, Wait family line—except for a gentleman from the Herriott Heritage Association who kindly alerted me to the link between the Waits and the Herriotts. The lack of contact surprises me a bit since the David Wait family was large as was John Oliver Wait’s. Surely there are other descendants out there, some of whom may hold interesting information. Perhaps folks are afraid I am going to take their information and publish it, which is definitely not the case. I’m very respectful of others’ wishes when it comes to the family history content that has remained within their family line for generations. I only share details people want me to share and give me permission to share. And I always give credit where credit is due.

Anyway, if you’ve been following this blog, you may recall that I’ve written a number of posts on the Waits. See: Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, Post 4, Post 5 and Post 6. I have not done much more research on the family since my last post, which was back in 2013, but I hope to get back on track soon.

My family’s line down from David Wait (b. 1754):

1-David Wait b. 20 May 1754, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, d. 11 Nov
1810, Perth Amboy, Middlesex Co., NJ
+Irene Bell b. 20 Oct 1764, CT, d. 31 May 1804, Perth Amboy, Middlesex Co., NJ
|—–2-John Oliver Wait b. 10 Jan 1787, Perth Amboy, Middlesex Co., NJ, d. 23
| Nov 1876, Perth Amboy, Middlesex Co., NJ, bur. 24 Nov 1876, Alpine
| Cemetery, Middlesex Co., NJ
| +Elizabeth Crow b. 11 Sep 1792, Woodbridge, Middlesex Co., NJ, d. 9 May
| 1854, Perth Amboy, Middlesex Co., NJ, bur. Perth Amboy, Middlesex Co.,
| NJ
| |—–3-Margaret Ann Wait b. 7 Mar 1817, Perth Amboy, Middlesex Co., NJ,
| | d. 26 Mar 1851, Perth Amboy, Middlesex Co., NJ
| | +Juebb (Jacob) Lewis d. After 25 Mar 1851
| | |—–4-Sarah Augusta Lewis b. 25 Nov 1836, Perth Amboy, Middlesex
| | | Co., NJ, d. 1900, bur. Alpine Cemetery, Middlesex Co., NJ
| | +Moses Martin b. 1833, d. 1883, bur. Alpine Cemetery,
| | Middlesex Co., NJ
| | |—–5-Margaret Lewis Martin b. Jun 1859, Perth Amboy, New
| | | Jersey, d. 1945, Elizabeth, Union Co, NJ, bur.
| | | Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, Union Co., NJ
| | | +Andrew Douglas Brodhead b. 17 Aug 1853, East Mauch
| | | Chunk, Carbon Co., PA, c. 6 Feb 1854, 1st
| | | Presbyterian Church, Mauch Chunk, Carbon Co., PA, d.
| | | 6 May 1917, At Home, Elizabeth, Union, NJ, bur.
| | | Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, Union Co., NJ
| | | |—–6-Frank Martin Brodhead b. 5 Feb 1882, Perth
| | | | Amboy, Middlesex Co., NJ, d. 8 May 1951,
| | | | Elizabeth, Union Co., NJ, bur. Evergreen
| | | | Cemetery, Hillside, Union Co., NJ

Categories: Family Bibles, New Jersey, Perth Amboy, Wait | 2 Comments

A post of interest to John Oliver Wait & Elizabeth Crow descendants: The Herriott connection

Those descendants of John Oliver Wait (1787-1876) and his wife Elizabeth Crow (1792-1854) may find this post of interest. Ray Harriot of the Herriott Heritage Association contacted me recently to tell me about the link that they have established with the Crow family thanks to a tip that came from Scotland, and that is that Elizabeth Crow’s great grandfather Samuel Crow was married to Eleanor Herriot, a daughter of Elizabeth Lockhart and David Harriot.

1-Samuel Crow d. 1761 +Eleanor Herriot, daughter of David Harriot and Elizabeth Lockhart, b. cir 1716; d. 22 Apr 1749, Woodbridge, Middlesex, NJ

2-Col. Samuel Crow b. 1737, NJ; d. 15 Mar 1801, bur. First Presbyterian Church, Woodbridge, Middlesex, NJ +Elizabeth Potter d. 6 Aug 1831, Woodbridge, Middlesex, NJ, bur. First Presbyterian Church, Woodbridge, Middlesex, NJ

3-Ellis Crow b. 4 Jun 1765, d. 2 Nov 1824, bur. First Presbyterian Church, Woodbridge, Middlesex, NJ,  +Martha Campyon b. 23 August 1768, NJ; d. 2 Dec 1851, Woodbridge, Middlesex, NJ

4-Elizabeth Crow b. 11 Sep 1792, Woodbridge, Middlesex Co., NJ, d. 9 May 1854, Perth Amboy, Middlesex Co., NJ, bur. Perth Amboy, Middlesex Co., NJ, +John Oliver Wait b. 10 Jan 1787, Perth Amboy, Middlesex Co., NJ, d. 23 Nov 1876, Perth Amboy, Middlesex Co., NJ, bur. 24 Nov 1876, Alpine Cemetery, Middlesex Co., NJ

Quite a while ago, I did a blog post that included the will of David Wait, John’s father. Ray pointed out to me that his ancestor James Harriot (once the mayor of Perth Amboy) was listed as one of the inventory takers for the will. Pretty fascinating!  For more information on the Herriott family (note: a number of various spellings of the surname exist), click this link to the Herriott Heritage Association website. They publish a newsletter twice yearly, and you can subscribe to it via their site.

With their permission, I am posting the below pages from one of their recent newsletters that included mention of the discovery of the Crow-Herriott connection.

Herriott Herald Newsletter, published here with the permission of the Herriott Heritage Association

Herriott Herald Newsletter, published here with the permission of the Herriott Heritage Association

Herriott Herald Newsletter, published here with the permission of the Herriott Heritage Association

Herriott Herald Newsletter, published here with the permission of the Herriott Heritage Association

Herriott Herald Newsletter, published here with the permission of the Herriott Heritage Association

Herriott Herald Newsletter, published here with the permission of the Herriott Heritage Association

Categories: Crow, Herriott, New Jersey, Perth Amboy, Wait, Woodbridge | Leave a comment

Irene Bell Wait, one of my brick walls

On April 21, 1784, a woman named Irene Bell married my fifth great grandfather, David Wait (b. May 20, 1754).

Who was Irene Bell, born on October 20, 1764, and a resident of Perth Amboy, NJ? What was her background? Who were her parents? The few clues I have about her have been gleaned from a biographical sketch on her son James (b. 1824) that appeared in a book, Biographical and portrait cyclopedia of the Third congressional district of New Jersey (p. 500-502), and that is that she and David were active in the Perth Amboy Presbyterian Church and parents to nearly a dozen children. I found a separate source stating she was born in Connecticut (FamilySearch™ Ancestral File v4.19, AFN: 9TX4-0G), but no evidence was provided to substantiate that.

Irene died in Perth Amboy on May 31, 1804, at age 39, her last child having been born in 1801. David’s will, written in 1810 and mentioned in the last post, contains the name of Andrew Bell. I decided to research this Andrew to see whether he was in any way related to Irene.

I discovered an Andrew Bell who had been a loyalist and served in the NYC office of the British commander-in-chief during the Revolutionary War. After the war his loyalist ties did not have the impact on his future life that they may have had otherwise, likely because Andrew’s sister, Cornelia Bell, was married to William Paterson, a prominent patriot and attorney-general for New Jersey. Eventually Paterson served in the senate, as governor, and as a member of the Supreme Court. Andrew Bell, who had studied law in Perth Amboy before the war, returned to Perth Amboy after the war and began a new chapter in his life as a successful merchant. The NJ Historical Society’s biographical note describes him as having been appointed the collector of Perth Amboy’s port in 1800 for the final year of John Adams’ presidency.  During this time period, he was also the deputy surveyor general of the East Jersey Proprietors and for approximately thirty-five years, ca. 1806-1842, served as the surveyor general. The Historical Society has in its archives a fascinating collection of his personal papers, land surveys, financial records, maps, and letters.

So, I was intrigued; could Cornelia and Andrew have had a sister named Irene? Well, I discovered the answer unfortunately was “no”.  Cornelia is listed in a 1997 book on famous NJ women (**Burstyn, p. 33-35) and it is stated that she was the oldest child and only daughter of NJ landowner John Bell and his wife.  So while I think this Andrew Bell may very well have been a witness to David Wait’s will, he was not Irene’s brother. Could Irene have been related to him in some other way? A cousin, perhaps?

Another angle that occurred to me was that perhaps Irene was the daughter of German or Dutch immigrants who had changed their name from Behl, Bale, or Bel. The reason that crossed my mind is because in the Wait family Bible, daughter Margaret Wait’s name is not spelled “Margaret”; its spelling looks more like “Margratha,” and Irene’s own name does not appear to be spelled as “Irene.” It looks more like “Rinea” or “Irinea.” Could Irene have been an Americanized version?

I’ve searched every way possible on Family Search and have come up empty handed. I’ve searched the trees on World Connect to no avail. A lead came up with the Bel surname, but upon further investigation, those Bels, members of the Dutch Reformed Church in Hackensack, NJ, had no daughters named Irene or anything approximate to Irene. Their one son also had no daughters by that name.

I have also searched New Jersey Marriage Records, 1665-1800, and early Connecticut Marriages, and come up with nothing.  Bell was a prominent family name in early Connecticut history, but I could find no record of an Irene. Perhaps they were married in a different state? I tried early Pennsylvania records as that is where Andrew Bell was from, but found nothing there.

The next best step appears to be to try to access burial records for the Alpine Cemetery in Perth Amboy. The First Presbyterian Church yard does not appear to have any grave sites; I suspect if it ever had a graveyard, it was moved to Alpine to make way for encroaching city growth. In any case, Irene Bell Wait is my brick wall. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

 

**Burstyn, Joan N. (1997). Past and Promise: Lives of New Jersey Women. Syracuse University Press.

Categories: Bell, Perth Amboy, Wait | 2 Comments

David Wait Family of Perth Amboy, NJ: David Wait’s 1810 Will

City of Perth Amboy, 1823

Perth Amboy Presbyterian Church

Last year I wrote a couple of posts about the David Wait family of Perth Amboy, NJ. This past weekend, I came across details from David Wait’s will dated October 29, 1810, written 14 days before his death at age 56. As you may recall, David was a carpenter and was involved in the construction of Perth Amboy’s first Presbyterian Church. To read the previous posts about David and his family, click on Oct. 5 & 7, 2011, in the calendar/archives on the left side of this blog.

David’s immediate family tree looks like this:
1-David Wait b. 20 May 1754, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, d. 11 Nov 1810, Perth Amboy, Middlesex Co., NJ
+Irene Bell b. 20 Oct 1764, CT, d. 31 May 1804, Perth Amboy, NJ
|–2-David Wait b. 15 Jan 1785, Perth Amboy, NJ, d. 7 Nov 1825
|–2-John Oliver Wait b. 10 Jan 1787, Perth Amboy, NJ, d. 23 Nov. 1876, Perth Amboy, Middlesex Co., NJ
|–2-Isaac Wait b. 26 Apr 1788, Perth Amboy, NJ, d. 25 Jun 1815
|–2-Margaret Wait b. 9 Jun 1790, Perth Amboy, NJ, d. 4 Jun 1837
|–2-Joseph Thompson Wait b. 13 Oct 1791, Perth Amboy, NJ, d. 12 Feb 1854
|–2-Kathrine (Catherine) Wait b. 18 May 1793, Perth Amboy, NJ, d. 25 Jan 1813
|–2-Agnes Wait b. 16 Oct 1794, Perth Amboy, NJ, d. 24 Mar 1859
|–2-James Wait b. 31 Jul 1796, Perth Amboy, NJ, d. 31 Dec 1800
|–2-Sarah Matilda Wait b. 31 Mar 1798, Perth Amboy, NJ, d. 21 Jun 1818
|–2-William Elias Riggs Wait b. 3 Jun 1800, Perth Amboy, NJ
|–2-Phillip Kearny Wait b. 30 Sep 1801, Perth Amboy, NJ, d. 25 Feb 1843, Savannah, GA

When the will was written, David’s wife Irene was deceased, having passed away six years previously at age 39, and the children ranged in age from 9-23. The eldest, David and John, were bequeathed all the tools and implements of my trade to be equally divided between them according to their value.(John is the son from whom I am descended).

Brindle cow
PHOTO BY Christian Bickel, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Germany

Daughter, Margaret, my brindle cow, bed, bedding, 2 chairs, 1 chest, 4 looking glasses (one of which is in trust for each of her sisters, Catherine, Agnes, and Sarah). Said daughter, Margaret, the house and lot in Perth Amboy, which I bought of the late Sophia Terrill, to be occupied by her as a home for herself and all of my younger children, to wit, Joseph, Catherine, Agnes, Sarah, William, and Phillip, until they reach age 21 or are married; and when youngest is 21, executors to dispose of said house and lot, and proceeds to be divided between children, or their heirs, equally. Executors to hold in trust the new house and lots belonging thereunto (in which I now live), to rent or to be sold and profits or proceeds used for support and education of my children.

English flintlock blunderbuss (Image in public domain. See http://www.nps.gov/history/museum/exhibits/revwar/image_gal/morrimg/blunderbuss.html)

All residue of estate to be divided equally between said children when youngest is 21. Executors–sons, David, John, and Isaac. Witnesses–Andrew Bell, Jas. Edgar, Jr., Lewis Arnold. Proved December 11, 1810. 1812, Jan. 18. Inventory [not totaled]; made by James Harriot, Thomas Griggs. Lists “one uniform Coat, Vest & Boots,” spy glass, case of drawing instruments, lot of architect books, other books, one blunderbuss. (NEW JERSEY, ABSTRACT OF WILLS, 1670-1817, FILE 10279 L; viewable in book Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey, Calendar of New Jersey Wills, Volume XII, 1810-1813, page 409)

Daughter Margaret certainly had her work cut out for her, but she had probably already been raising her younger siblings for some time given the tragic loss of mother Irene (Bell) Wait some years prior. One name here that stands out in particular is that of witness Andrew Bell. This may have been a brother of Irene’s. Irene’s ancestors have been a mystery to me so far, so maybe I can find something out by researching Andrew. Hopefully this is a promising clue!

Categories: Last Wills and Testaments, Lewis, Martin, Perth Amboy, Presbyterian, Revolutionary War, Wait | Leave a comment

Sweet Little Edith Easton Brodhead

Brodhead_Edith_Easton_wm

Edith Easton Brodhead

The recent post of the Andrew Jackson Brodhead family reminded me of this sweet little angel, Edith Easton Brodhead, who was born in Perth Amboy, NJ, on November 3, 1879. Both the assembly of photos of the A. J. Brodhead family and this portrait of Edith are in nearly identical frames. And both frames are quite large.

Brodhead_MargaretLewisMartin

Margaret Lewis (Martin) Brodhead

Edith passed away just shy of age 2 years and 5 months. She was the firstborn child of Andrew Douglas Brodhead and Margaret Lewis (Martin) Brodhead who had married the year before Edith was born, in 1878. At the time of Edith’s passing, Andrew Douglas Brodhead was 29, and wife Margaret was 21. The second Brodhead child, Frank Martin Brodhead (my grandfather), was seven weeks old. Two other brothers would follow not long thereafter: Lewis Dingman Brodhead in 1884, and Andrew Jackson Brodhead in 1886.  All of the Brodhead-Martin children were born in Perth Amboy, NJ. (At some point, the family relocated to Elizabeth, which as just up the pike, but I am not sure exactly when that was.)

Brodhead_Andrew_D_old_PS1

Andrew Douglas Brodhead

The portrait of Edith is unsigned; there may be a clue under the mat, but because the frame is very old and the portrait is under glass, I don’t think we’ll be taking it apart any time soon. I plan to write away to the NJ archives to see if I can find out her cause of death. I can’t imagine how sadly her loss must have been felt by the young couple. Perhaps the arrival of baby Frank the preceding month helped them cope with their grief. If Edith was taken by a serious childhood illness, thankfully it did not take Frank as well.

Over the years, I’ve often looked at Edith’s little face and felt sad to think of her loss at such a young age. Makes one appreciate one’s own survival of childhood. There was a time–not all that long ago–when such losses were very common. Little Edith must have brought great joy to those around her during her brief time on earth. That is what I now try to remember whenever  I see her precious little face.

Categories: Brodhead, Easton, Lewis, Martin, Perth Amboy | 3 Comments

David Wait Family of Perth Amboy, NJ: Puzzle in the John O. Wait Tree Solved

In the last post, I alluded to a puzzle in the tree of John Oliver Wait, son of David Wait. What I was referring to was the fact that the Wait family Bible lists two children in addition to John’s twelve children with wife Elizabeth Crow: Sarah Augusta Lewis and Charles Smith Lewis. Their dates of birth are such that they could not have been Elizabeth’s children as Elizabeth gave birth to other children around that time. This left me mystified as to whose children the Lewis kids were. It seemed odd that they had a different surname from Wait. I wondered if they belonged to one of John’s oldest daughters, but I dismissed that idea a bit since the eldest daughters were still quite young. Moreover, I would have expected to see a marriage to a Lewis listed for one of the girls. Then I read about the founding of the first Presbyterian Church in Perth Amboy by Capt. John Angus, David Wait, and John Lewis, and it occurred to me that those families and their  descendants were probably pretty intertwined. Perhaps the Lewis children were adopted by the Waits after some tragedy in the Lewis family.

Well, I finally came across some really convincing evidence two nights ago on what the real facts were. I’d often searched for a “Sarah A. Lewis” but had little success. This time I tried “Augusta Lewis” and was amazed to find her listed under the 1850 census at age 14, still in the John and Elizabeth Wait household. That on its own did not provide any revelations as to who her parents were, but I did not see Charles Lewis listed with her, so I thought–why not try to see what happened to him? I’d never searched his name before. Since Charles and Lewis are common names, I decided to throw in the Smith middle name. So I searched under the full name and year & place of birth, and was stunned to find a death record for a Charles Smitt Lewis in Blue Mound, Macon Co., Illinois, who died in 1921 at age 86. Yes, it was him, Sarah Augusta Lewis’s brother, “Smitt” misspelling and all.  Best of all, the record lists the parents: “Juebb Lewis” and “Margaret Waili”, and “Waili” certainly was a misspelling/”mistranscription” of “Waite” (a common and logical misspelling of “Wait”). [Note: Since writing this post, I have seen Juebb listed on a family tree as Jacob; given the crazy spelling of Waili, perhaps Juebb is indeed also a misspelling. ]

So, much like the blog entry Truin and Trewin, Thomas and Thos, this goes to show that it can really pay off to be creative with your searches. Who would ever expect to find Sarah A. Lewis, by using Augusta for her first name? Not me, anyway. (Incidentally, later records for her replace the “Augusta” with “Ann”.) And then for that misspelling to lead to another record with a misspelling of Smith, and then that to lead to Margaret Wait misspelled as Waili.

In summary, my original thought that the Lewis kids were children of one of John and Elizabeth’s daughters was correct. Margaret gave birth at age 16 and then 18. She was still living with John and Elizabeth when she was 34 (as per the 1850 census). Her surname is listed as “Waite,” not “Lewis,” so I don’t know what happened to “Juebb.” The 1850 census does not describe Margaret as a widow, but I assume he may have passed away. Margaret herself passed away in 1851 at the young age of 34.

Charles Smith Lewis married Nancy E. Lewis, an Indiana native. He was already in Macon Co., Illinois, in 1860, at age 25, according to census records. He is listed then as single. By the 1880 census, he is listed with Nancy, 7 years his junior, and three children: Margaret A., Sarah E., and Charles W. (18, 13, and 6, respectively). His occupation is listed as “lumber dealer.” The death record lists Charles Smith Lewis as being buried in Hall Cemetery in Blue Mound, Macon Co., Illinois. I searched Find a Grave’s website for any Lewises in Hall Cemetery and found C.S. Lewis and Nancy E. Lewis.  (I’d never have thought to search for him under “C.S.”–just one more bit of evidence to suggest creativity is vital when searching records.) May they rest in peace.

I’ll keep researching the Waits in Perth Amboy, but at least now, that one big puzzle has finally been solved!

Categories: Blue Mound, Macon Co., Census Records, Lewis, Perth Amboy, US Federal 1850, US Federal 1860, US Federal 1880, Wait | Leave a comment

David Wait Family of Perth Amboy, New Jersey

One family line which we can trace back only so far is the David Wait family of Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, David Wait settled in the town after the end of the Revolutionary War, married Irene Bell, and together they had 11 children. I have found two sources of biographical information about David Wait and his descendants online:

There is conflicting information about David Wait’s involvement in the Revolutionary War. The Wiley source says he came over to the Colonies as a British soldier, was captured and held a POW until after war’s end, and then eventually made his way to Perth Amboy via Sussex and Essex counties in NJ. The Mendenhall source says he enlisted in the Colonial Army, was captured and held by the British until the end of the war, and then went to Perth Amboy. I’m inclined to believe the former, but have not researched this further.

Perth Amboy on Map (US Census)

Presbyterianism in Perth Amboy, NJ describes the founding of the first Presbyterian Church in Perth Amboy by Capt. John Angus, David Wait, and John Lewis. The Wiley bio mentions David Wait as being a carpenter and his son John Oliver Wait, who married Elizabeth Crow (granddaughter of Col. Samuel Crow), as first working with David as a carpenter before starting his own successful baking business. John’s son, John Oliver Wait, entered into the business before striking out on his own at No. 24 Smith Street (until 1852) and No. 24 Smith Street (from 1852 onwards). Evidently he was extremely successful with his “breads, fine cakes, ice-cream and confections” as his resources allowed him to own a 130-acre farm in nearby Woodbridge.

Page 500 of the Wiley text

Page 503 of the Wiley Text (note: there was no text on pages 501-502)

If you go to the “Names S-Z” tab above, you will be able to see the family details I have thus far for David and Irene Wait and their descendents. I would love to know something about the pair’s ancestors, but so far have come up empty-handed. If you are extra attentive when reading the list,  you might notice something curious. Indeed, there is a bit of a mystery there. More about that in an upcoming post!

Categories: Bell, Crow, Martin, Perth Amboy, Wait | Leave a comment

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