Monday, October 20, 2014

Combing through Details

While looking for the ancestors of Ezra A. Dunn (1821-1898), I found a few people who worked at his pottery business.  Of special note was a little biographical sketch about William A. Dunlop (1833-1910).  William became an owner of the pottery business.  He was also the brother of Ezra's wife, Hermoine.

You can find a lot of these biographical books online now, as they are usually over 100 years old.  Use them to point you in the direction of actual records.  They were written about men in a designated geographical location with the intent to make them look good.

Short biography about William A Dunlop, his ancestors, and his children

I had already uncovered Joseph Dunlop and Margaret Little as parents of William and Hermoine and their siblings.  This is the second mention that Joseph Dunlop was born in Pennsylvania; the other mention is his enumeration in the 1850 census in Raritan Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey.

My focus shifted to Margaret, "daughter of James Combs, and widow of Robert Little."  This is important.  I have the record of Margaret Little's marriage to Joseph Dunlop in 1824.  Her last name is given as "Little."  There is no mention that she is a widow, but there is also no mention that she is young and unmarried, which is sometimes specified in the marriage record.  This record provides only the names of the parties; no ages, marital status, or parents.

I thought of Joseph Dunlop's grave, which I visited last month.  He is buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Matawan, Monmouth County, New Jersey.  Close to his stone are three other stones:

Robert Little (1784-1821) of Billis, County Cavan, Ireland.
Frances Little (1809-1830), daughter of Robert Little and Margaret
William Johnston Dunlop (1829-1832), son of Joseph W Dunlop and Margaret

I theorized that Joseph Dunlop and Robert Little were connected through Joseph's wife, Margaret, though I was not sure of the relation of Robert to Margaret.  I was excited to finally find an Irish ancestor in my father's tree, complete with the hometown in Ireland and year of immigration to the United States.  With a new last name for Margaret, it looks like I have to relinquish the Littles as Irish ancestors.

Robert Little's will, signed October 20, 1821, is viewable at FamilySearch.  He died nine days after signing the will.  Some good information is given.

Monmouth County, New Jersey Wills
Volume B, page 271

Monmouth County, New Jersey Wills
Volume B, page 272
Robert Little named his beloved wife as Margeret Little.  I usually see that a wife's share is contingent upon her not remarrying, but that language is not in this will.  ("So long as she remains my widow.")

Robert Little named two daughters, Sarah Jane and Fanny.  Sarah Jane was described as the eldest and would turn 21 years old in 1837.  That gives us a birthdate around 1816 for Sarah Jane, while providing that Fanny was born between 1817-1821.  Robert also mentioned that Joseph Combs was occupying his farm.  Robert appointed his brother, William Little, and his friend, Henry Arrowsmith, as guardians of his daughters.  (At this time in history, a child's mother was often not named as the guardian because of financial interests and the tendency for a young widow to remarry.)

Robert mentioned his brothers, Thomas Little and William Little, and his sister, Margeret Little.  Friends were Asbury Fountain and Henry Arrowsmith.  Witnesses were Eli T Cooley, John Frost, and Asbury Fountain.

Daughter Fanny Little is likely the Frances Little buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery.  She died April 30, 1839 at the age of 20 years and 6 months.  That would be about 1818, which is within the range of possible birth years, based on the wording in her father's will.

We can develop a timeline for Margaret Combs.
1790s- born
About 1815- married Robert Little of Ireland
1816- gave birth to daughter Sarah Jane Little
1818- gave birth to daughter Frances/Fanny
1821- death of Robert Little, first husband
1824- married Joseph W Dunlop
1827- gave birth to daughter Hermoine Dunlop
1829- gave birth to son William Johnston Dunlop
1830- gave birth to son Alfred Dunlop
1832- son William Johnston Dunlop died
1833- gave birth to son William A Dunlop
1836- gave birth to son John Dunlop
1839- daughter Frances Little died
1852- death of Joseph Dunlop, second husband

Margaret died after the 1850 census.

Shifting from Margaret Little to Margaret Combs, daughter of James Combs, provides us with some more avenues to research.

Transcribed Record
Old Tennent Scotch Presbyterian Church
Monmouth County, New Jersey

This transcribed record (available for free from FamilySearch) looks like our Margaret Combs.  Her birthdate is 1795; her father is James Combs; and the location, Tennent (Manalapan) in Monmouth County is where we need this family to be.  The church records survived, so I should be able to track them down.  The Old Tennent Presbyterian Church still exists!  Its cemetery has over 15,000 burials at FindAGrave- 93 of them are Combs!

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