52 Ancestors #3: Charlotte Richardson (1776-aft. 1861)

Charlotte Richardson was my 5th great grandmother. I’ve always had a special interest in Charlotte, as she was my mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother. Considering that researching female ancestors is often more difficult than researching male ancestors, I love that I’ve been able to go back 7 generations and 240 years on my maternal line.

When I first researched Charlotte, I had her parents as John Christopher Richardson and Mary Flintoff. John & Mary were among the over 1,000 immigrants from Yorkshire, England who settled in the Chignecto Isthmus between 1772 and 1775 (for those of you Chignectowho don’t know Atlantic Canada very well, the Chignecto Isthmus is the neck of land that joins New Brunswick and Nova Scotia).  John & Mary made the journey from Yorkshire in 1774, with two young children and a third born en route. Their son, Joseph Providence Richardson, so named because he was born on the ship, “The Providence”, is also a direct ancestor of mine.

In 2014, I met a distant cousin, Arthur Owen, who is also a descendant of Charlotte Richardson. He had evidence that was inconsistent with Charlotte being the daughter of John & Mary Richardson. Arthur had previously used DNA to disprove the oft-cited parentage of another of his ancestors. Since I’m a female-line descendant of Charlotte, we realized that if we could find the right people to compare to, we could use mtDNA to test various theories about Charlotte’s parents. In 2016, with support from Arthur, I did just that.

In an upcoming series of blog posts, I will explain the process I followed. In the meantime, suffice it to say, I had to throw out everything I thought I knew about Charlotte’s parents, and begin anew!

Here’s the new story of Charlotte.

Charlotte Richardson was born in about 1776 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. She was the daughter of James Richardson and Hannah (Unknown).  James died when Charlotte was about 6 years old, following which Hannah married David Dobson. Ten years later, in 1794, Charlotte, then age 18, married her step-father David’s younger brother, Richard Dobson, age 25.

Charlotte tree

Charlotte and Richard settled in Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick, where they raised 12 children, including my 4th great grandmother, Mary Ann (Dobson) Allen.  At the time of the 1851 census, Richard, age 82, and Charlotte, age 75, were living near at least two of their children – their youngest son Job and his young family, and my ancestor Mary Ann Allen, then widowed, and 6 of her 11 children.

Charlotte Dobson - 1851 Botsford Pg 10
1851 Census, New Brunswick, Westmorland, Botsford (83) – Pg 10

Charlotte’s husband, Richard, died in July 1855, as did her son Job two years later.  In 1861, she was living with her daughter-in-law Eliza (Wells) Dobson, widow of Job, and their four young children.

Charlotte Dobson - 1861 Census Botsford - Pg 111861 Census of New Brunswick, Westmorland, Botsford – Pg 11

Charlotte died some time after 1861, having had 12 children, at least 120 grandchildren and at least 91 great-grandchildren (those were the numbers in Richard’s obituary in 1855 – no doubt there were more grandchildren and great-grandchildren by the time Charlotte died.)

The reason I chose Charlotte for this week’s 52 Ancestors post is because the prompt for this week was “longevity”.

Longevity

With the exception of Miranda Allen, who died of dropsy at age 39, my maternal ancestors have all lived good long lives. So if longevity is passed down through mitochondrial DNA, I’d say I’m in pretty good shape!

52 Ancestors #1: Elizabeth Weeks (abt 1814-1858)

I’ve decided to start the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. And although the challenge does not require a blog, I’ve been thinking of starting one anyone, so no time like the present!

After much deliberation on how to begin, I have opted to start a with brick wall I’m currently trying to break down, my 3rd great grandmother, Elizabeth Weeks. And while I plan throughout this challenge to write about ancestors that I know something about, I have more questions than answers when it comes to Elizabeth (and her husband).

Here’s what I know….

Elizabeth Weeks was born somewhere, sometime. She married John William Kirkland and had 9 children, the eldest of which was my 2nd great grandfather, John W. Kirkland, who was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick about 1832. They had children born in Fredericton, in Chatham (Miramichi), New Brunswick and in Prince Edward Island, where their youngest child, Emma Lydia, was born about 1851 (or maybe 1855).  She died on January 26, 1858, in Newcastle (Miramichi) New Brunswick.

That’s it. That’s all I know.

When I first starting researching this line a few years back, I found my John W. Kirkland (the younger) with his wife and three children (including my great grandmother, Wilhelmina, then aged 2) on the 1861 New Brunswick census. Living with the family was John’s brother, Charles Kirkland.

John Kirkland and family - 1861 NB Census
1861 Census, New Brunswick, Kent, Richibucto, Pg 44

When I couldn’t find any information on John’s parents, I decided to research Charles. I thought I had struck gold when I found a wonderful profile of Charles, who had died on the Titanic. The profile, written in 2006, included the following:

Charles Leonard Kirkland was born in March of 1841 in Miramichi, Northumberland County, New Brunswick, the fourth child of John V. Kirkland and Elizabeth Sarah Weeks. The Weeks family had emigrated to New Brunswick from England circa 1820 and John Kirkland, a silk merchant, had emigrated to New Brunswick from Glasgow, Scotland in the early 1830’s. 

Yay! I had parents’ names and countries of origin. I figured it might be a bit challenging finding an Elizabeth Sarah Weeks, born in England who came to Canada around 1820, but at least I had something to go on.

So I kept digging. And here’s what I found…

On the 1891 Census, son John W. Kirkland’s mother is said to be born in the US.

John Kirkland 1891 census parents
1891 Canada Census, Library and Archives Canada, New Brunswick, Kent, Richibucto, Division 3, Pg 27

Likewise, on the 1880 census, son Charles Kirkland’s mother is said to be born in Minnesota. Minnesota?! Were there even settlers in Minnesota at the time she would have been born?

Charles Kirkland 1880 census parents
United States Census, 1880, Penobscot, Hancock, Maine, United States; sheet 149D

On the 1891 Census, daughters Emma and Leavinia both have their mothers’ birth places as Prince Edward Island. Leavinia’s birth record has her mother’s birth place as Fredericton, New Brunswick. On the 1900 US Census, sons James and Charles have their mother’s birthplace as Canada.

See what all of those have in common – not a single one has her birth places as England! So, was she born in New Brunswick? Prince Edward Island, the United States (perhaps Minnesota?) Where did the information about her emigrating from England come from?

And what about her date of birth? Daughter Leavinia’s Late Registration of Birth (issued in 1929) says Elizabeth was 47 at the time of Leavinia’s birth in 1849, which would make her birth year 1802. However, Leavinia was more likely born in 1844, which could make Elizabeth’s birth year as early as 1797. Her death notice in the newspaper says that she was 44 at the time of her death in 1858, which puts her birth at 1814.

If she were born in 1814, she would have had her children from ages 18 to 37 (or later, as sources differ on Emma’s birth date as well). A birth date of 1802 would put her between 30 and 49. The later date is probably more likely, but either is plausible.

So where do you even start looking when you have a 12 year range and multiple possible locations (some of which have minimal records for that time period)?

I’m hoping that DNA will help.

I’ve tested my mother at both Ancestry and FamilyTree DNA and have uploaded the results to GEDMatch. I’ve been spending lots of time lately going through her matches to identify those with a Weeks connection. By using shared matches, and building out some people’s trees, I have identified 12 family groups who descend from 4 of John William Kirkland and Elizabeth Weeks – John W., James, Emma Lydia and Leavinia. Now that I’ve identified these groups, people who match 2 or more of the known descendants are most likely to either a) also be Kirkland/Weeks descendants or b) are descendants of an ancestor of either John Kirkland or Elizabeth Weeks. This latter group could help me break through the brick walls. I’m currently combing through their trees to find common names and locations.

A couple of those shared matches are descendants of a Weeks family from Maine, which goes back to New Brunswick. It’s too early to determine whether Elizabeth is indeed connected to this family, but it’s looking promising!

Meanwhile, if you’re a descendant of Elizabeth Weeks and John William Kirkland, and you’ve done an autosomal DNA test (or plan to), please do let me know and upload your results to GEDMatch. Even if you don’t match me or my mother, you may match some of the other known descendants. Likewise if you have Weeks from New Brunswick or Maine in your tree, I’d love to hear from you!

May 2018 be the year I (finally!) break through this brick wall!

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