You can look up on the Warrant Registers at the PA State Archives for your ancestors to see if they were the “first” owners of land in Pennsylvania, given to them on a warrant. Remember that the Native Americans owned this land first and then that land was taken from them.
You will need to write down the Letter and Numbers listed after the name, as designated on the far left of the entry. For instance H-31 105 and A-51 35.
I did take the time to check if any of the lands in Westmoreland had been released to William or Robert Ralston, as the register is alphabetical to original warrant applicant. I did find one example of this, so maybe worth the time.
Not all of the copied warrant surveys are digitized. The copied surveys run from Volumes A through D.
William Ralston (born about 1750) settled in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania in April, 1769 according to the testimony he gave to the court. This testimony can be found in the Pennsylvania, Published Archives Series, 1664-1902, 6th series, Volume XIII, Part Two on pages 31 and 32 and of which you can read below. This is also available in full on Ancestry.com.
In February of 1786, William tells the court that he claimed land north of Big Sewickley Creek, next to the lands of Jeremiah Lochrey and John Hughes in April/May of 1769. This is the exact time when this area of Pennsylvania was opened to legal settlement by the white people. He loses this land during the American Revolution, and the US government pays him 646 pounds on March 17, 1782 as a result of the confiscation of his estate. You can see these documents in the same 6th series, Volume XII, pages 578 and 845.q
It is important to note the mention of Jeremiah Lochrey. This connects our William to Lochrey and we can then assume with a good deal of certainty that the William Ralston in the Pennsylvania Volunteers in the company commanded by Captain Jeremiah Lochrey, stationed in Westmoreland County, for the defense of the the frontiers is our William.
William Ralston was a sergeant in this company from April 11 to October 10, 1780 and then promoted to Ensign from October 11 to December 15, 1780. He is not listed as being specifically in the company of Rangers who were under Captain William Guthrie’s Company which served under the command of Captain Lochrey. But the term “ranger” was used for the soldiers who defended the American frontier at the time of the revolution from the American Indians working in conjunction with the British.
Here is a fabulous map of Pennsylvania in 1770. If you download it you can zoom in and see all of the marked areas.
What else can we deduce with some certainty about this William Ralston?
He is not the William Ralston in East Caln, Chester County nor is William of East Caln, born about 1733, the father of my William. William of East Caln is the third son of John Ralston out of Pikeland and then Vincent, Chester County. John Sr. begins to own property in Chester County in the 1730s. William remained in East Caln, Chester County until he removed to Philadelphia and died there 18 Nov 1808 at the age of 75. Our William was in Westmoreland County with certainty. So the William Ralston in East Caln on the 1751, 1754, and 1786 census (and others) is another man. William Ralston also owned land in West Nantmeal and lists this as his residence when he purchases additional land in East Caln in 1756. See Book T-4, Page 629, Deeds of Chester County. He sold his property in East Caln to Joshua Way in 1801 Deeds Book W-2, Page 48 and he lists himself as being of Philadelphia at the time.
John Ralston Sr. came from Northern Ireland with his son Robert in 1728 and they settled in Pikeland, Chester County. Robert’s son John born in Vincent, Cester Co in 1744 and died in West Vincent in 1825. There is an entire article about these semi-famous and important Ralstons in the book Old Families of Philadelphia. Robert was an important man in the American Revolution and the listings of these Ralston men out of the Philadelphia militia in the Pennsylvania Published Archive Series are not my Ralstons, the Robert and William who lived in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. William Ralston of East Caln, Chester County had only one child, Robert, born 18 DEC 1761 in East Caln, Chester County, Pennsylvania. This Robert resided in Philadelphia by 1780 and is the reason William moved there. Same names and approximately the same ages, different family.
My William was on Forbes Road in Hempfield Township, Bedford County, PA in 1773, an area that became part of Westmoreland County. Pennsylvania Tax and Exoneration List:
In 1776, his son Jon was born near Greensburg, Westmoreland County, also very near to Hanna’s Town. We know this from the book titled Butler County (PA) History.
In 1774, William’s brother Robert signs a petition of Westmoreland County at Fort Shippen. You can see this in Pennsylvania Published Archives Series 1, Volume 4, 534.
You can read more about Fort Shippen and other western frontier forts and places here.
Let’s stop here at 1776 and with William’s American Revolution service and continue next time. I have the archives to continue perusing and also Westmoreland land deeds and surveys to look up and download. We have a court proceeding to find also for William lost his land in a court proceeding in the 1790s. A court proceeding that arose due to an event during the Revolution, separate from the confiscation noted above. The Ralstons were Scots-Irish presbyterians so maybe we can find some church proceeding records on them also.
Once we find everything we can readily find on William and Robert (and I have Robert’s will) we will try and see if we can deduce from whence they came to Westmoreland County and to where William went, along with wives and children.
Make note please of the proximity of the Hanna family in Westmoreland County as DNA results show a common ancestor 12 generations back from me. Or a few more generations back from William.
William ~ John Sr ~ John Jr ~ Millen ~ William A ~ Ivan ~ Richard ~ Me.
But more on this as I cannot locate a birth record for Ivan, though he was born in 1902 when they were required at the county level in Iowa. Orphan Train baby?
I am finally finding some time to dig into my Ralston line. I was prompted to do this as my sibling’s DNA test is showing a possible Non-Paternal Event.
This means that somewhere on the male Ralston Y-DNA line, there was (possibly) an event in a family’s life in which they gave one of my ancestors the last name of Ralston, or he took on the surname himself, but his biological father was not a biological Ralston.
There are a lot of armchair DNA genealogists these days, running their little surname projects and asking everyone with the same surname to join the project and get tested. One of them did this to me and then wasn’t so nice about our results. Told me to stop saying my Ralstons were Scottish (not that I have), that I wasn’t a “real Ralston.” That my family tree was very problematic. See, he didn’t use the family tree I provided to the project but the one I was working on on Ancestry. And I don’t claim anything for sure without historical documents and references. If you haven’t noticed yet, most of the trees on Ancestry are cobbled together without fact-checking or sources. People don’t realize there were three Benjamin Ellisons all born within a year or so of each other and all born in Yorkshire (but in different towns or villages), for example, and they cannot possibly all have the same father. You have to do the work to sort these men out before you lay claim to one as yours.
BTW: I did figure out my Benjamin Ellison and was able to take his line back to the 1600s.
But the thing about Ancestry search is that the more you add to your tree, the better your search results. To combat this, I’ve taken to creating new trees with people I suspect might be my ancestors. Then I work through this tree, using ancestry, familysearch.org, archives, libraries, other source material. And when I can connect for sure with other people in another tree, I do so.
Couple of other problems with the armchair DNA genealogist’s claims. First, Y-DNA only tests the male line. So here is a very real scenario. One of my Ralston ancestors’ mother was a Ralston and she gave birth out of wedlock to him. I say this because on my maternal side, my fifth great-grandparents had a son out of wedlock and he was baptized under his mother’s maiden name and then a year later, his mother married his father. The baptismal record lists his father’s legal name. This child went the rest of his life using the name on his baptismal record, never using his father’s surname.
I could indeed be a real Ralston. Our maternal ancestry makes us just as much of who we are as our paternal does. Also, if our family has gone by the Ralston surname now since the early 1700s, I think we can say we are real Ralstons. Adopted doesn’t make someone any less part of the family.
Second, the Ralstons were Scotch-Irish Americans, or Ulster Scots, in the mid 1700s in Pennsylvania as is the family our DNA seems to be matching up with. Ulster Scots were from Scotland but some of them immigrated to Northern Ireland in the 1600s to help Mary Queen of Scots’s, the Roman Catholic queen who came to an awful end, Protestant son, King James I, populate Ireland with Protestants. Beginning in the early 1700s this wasn’t working out so well for these predominantly tenant farmers and they began migrating to colonial America. Land for the taking (or so they thought). They weren’t Irish in their ethnicity/heritage; they were Scottish. Most of them anyway. One hundred years is a long time to live in Northern Ireland and they intermarried and so forth. But basically, if you go far back enough, and you are of Scotch-Irish descent, you’ll find your roots in Scotland.
But like I said to the guy, Scotland is not better than Northern Ireland or vice versa. The English aren’t better than the Irish or the Scottish. Come on, this is the 21st century.
Back to figuring out an NPE. Where could this break have come into the line. My brother? My father? My grandfather? My great-grandfather? And so forth on back.
I called a cousin who knew both my grandfather and great-grandfather Ralston. We decided we are fairly certain that my father was my grandfather’s son and that my grandfather was his father’s son. I am fairly certain that my brother is my father’s son but there is no way I am bringing this up to either him or his mother.
Who do I check? My great-grandfather William Alfred Ralston of Iowa? His father, Millen Ralston of Butler County, PA then Jackson County, IA? His father John Ralston Jr of Butler County, PA then Jackson County, Iowa? His father John Ralston Sr of Greensburg, Westmoreland County, PA then Butler County, PA? Or his father, William?
So I decided to start with William Ralston born about 1755 somewhere and who suddenly appears in 1769 in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. I am not sure who his father was. Or his wife. The published sources on the Ralstons, such as The Golden Threads and the other Ralston book have a lot of inaccurate information because they found a Ralston with that name in a locality (ignored the other ones in other nearby localities) and then blended the men together. There are at least three William Ralston’s in Western PA during the mid 1700s, so we cannot blend them together. Ralston was a common name.
I will start recording the results of this search in future blog posts.
But if you were notified of an NPE in your family DNA results, don’t let the project coordinators force upon you uneducated assumptions. These project coordinators should be held to the genealogical standards of sourcing, using primary and secondary credible documents, and of relaying information within the historical context of your ancestor’s life. It is okay to make an educated and informed best guess, after you have largely ruled out the other options.
And Northern Ireland is stunningly beautiful. On the Antrim coast you can see Scottish islands and practically swim across. You can at least take a boat.
There are several Benjamin Ellison’s from the same ancient parish of Birstall in Yorkshire all born between 1781 and 1786. On Ancestry.com these men are being rolled into one man.
I myself made the mistake of thinking Frances Rebecca Ellison born 1814 and baptized at St Peter’s in Birstall was the daughter of my Benjamin Ellison but what made me realize the error was that my Benjamin Ellison was a currier, and never a woolstapler. Frances Rebecca’s father Benjamin was a woolstapler. I began trying to figure out who was this other Benjamin and Mary Ellison in Birstall, Yorkshire.
Benjamin Ellison (not my Benjamin!) was born in March 1784 in Cleckheaton (of the Birstall Parish) to John Ellison and Hannah Wilkinson. He had a sister named Sally born 1785 in Cleckheaton and also a brother named Edward born 1788. Sally married Richard Dixson and these two were the signed witnesses to Benjamin’s marriage to Mary Beaumont at St Martin in the Fields, Middlesex, England on 28 DEC 1809. This is why it is important to read the original documents yourself; they often give clues.
Mary Beaumont was the (well-off) daughter of Benjamin and Rebecca Beaumont. She and Benjamin had three children: Francis Beaumont Ellison (1810-1898), Frances Rebecca Ellison (1814-1889 and never married), and George Ellison (1819-1896). All of whom were well-off because of their mother’s estate.
Then Benjamin did a bad bad thing. He left Mary and his family in about 1843 and went to Penzance, Cornwall, England and was living with Mrs. Elizabeth Ruth Seamon. And in 1845, he murdered Mrs. Seamon. He was executed for this crime on 11 AUG 1845 in Cornwall and you can read the entire story here:
In the story, his son George is mentioned and it is stated he was from Birkenshaw. Birkenshaw is essentially the same area as Cleckheaton.
I have a couple more Benjamin Ellison’s to try and figure out as I am not certain of the parents of MY Benjamin Ellison who married Mary Maria Ambler in Baildon, Yorkshire and died in Burnsall in 1832. Benjamin and Mary Maria had my Walker Ellison, whose grave I just visited in Baildon. He named his son Benjamin Walker Ellison, following the naming tradition.
I am using the British naming tradition as a clue and so far, Benjamin and Mary Maria did follow this tradition, which means that Benjamin’s father was William Ellison. Unless William was not their firstborn son. They named their firstborn daughter after the maternal grandmother: Hannah Maria Margaret Ellison. And their second son, if William was the first, after the maternal grandfather John Ambler. More research to be done.
BENJAMIN ELLISON The above portrait of Benjamin Ellison, the murderer of Mrs. Seaman, of Penzance, is considered to be a good likeness, especially the upper part of the face and head; it was taken in the County Hall, Bodmin, while the unhappy criminal was receiving sentence of death for his awful crime. Ellison was a tall man, nearly six feet high, yet rather slightly formed. His aged was 61, and he was a native of Birkenshaw near Leeds, in the West Riding of Yorkshire. He had received a superior education, and had moved in a respectable station in life, having been connected with the manufacturing interest of his native county. We understand that his wife and family are still living, to deplore his untimely and disgraceful end. About two years since, he left his wife and home, in consequence of disagreements about pecuniary matters, and had not been heard of by her or his relatives until after his committal for the murder. The wretched culprit suffered for his crime on Monday last, and a full and authentic account of the execution is given in our fourth page. [The description of his death has been omitted; however, the confession is printed in full. He acknowledged in a letter that Elizabeth Bramble, whose testimony he adamantly denied at the trial, did substantially tell the truth. Ellison’s two sons visited him, but his wife did not – nor did any other relative. Evidently, he had no money of his own, so the will he signed bequeathing property to Mrs. Seaman was “purely a fabrication”; his wife was “possessed of considerable property”. jm]
Walker Ellison was buried in the churchyard at St. John’s Parish Church in Baildon, Yorkshire on April 2, 1841.
His gravestone is a table top tomb and it is located near the church: “From the church porch, a path ( made out of headstones) leads to a gap in a hedge. If you go through this gap you enter a small section of the graveyard . To the left of the entrance is a row of table tombs- ie horizontal headstones supported by stone on the two short sides. The gravestone is about the third such stone from the entrance.” Michael Lawson.
Mike Lawson is a volunteer at St. John’s and he and his colleagues have cleared away this area of the churchyard where Walker is buried. He generously met us at the church and showed us around. Thank you, Mike.
Mike also provided me with the inscription on Walker’s gravestone. It was nearly impossible to take a photo to make the inscription legible.
‘Sacred to the memory of Walker Ellison of Baildon died March 31st 1841 in the 23rd year of his age. Also of Jeremiah Thomas , brother of the above November 24th 1844 aged 19 years. Both the sons of the late Mr Benjamin Ellison of Burnsall, formerly of Birkenshaw. Also of Peter, infant son of William and Elizabeth Ellison who died September 9th,1850.’
Note that Walker’s brother Jeremiah Thomas Ellison is buried with him. And also his nephew, son of William Ellison.
Much of the churchyard is overgrown and largely inaccessible. Mike had access to a pamphlet of all the inscriptions in the graveyard as it is impossible to find someone in certain sections. I did have him check for Margaret Ellison’s parents, Francis and Sarah Cooper, who are also buried here but they do not have a stone marker. Mike explained that whomever buried Walker spent a great deal of money doing so, including the cost of bringing his body to Baildon from Easingwold, where he died. About 35 miles away. Many people, like Francis and Sarah Cooper, simply did not have the money to purchase a stone marker.
I am fairly certain I am the first descendant of Walker’s to visit his grave since his widow and two children left for America in 1848. My great-grandmother tried to find it in the 70s when she visited England and thought he’d been buried in Easingwold. Walker was only 23 when he died.
Walker Ellison ~ Benjamin Walker Ellison~ William Arthur Ellison ~ Harold Delmont Ellison ~ James Arthur Ellison ~ my mother ~ myself
I found these articles on my Ralston family, including Richard A Ralston, Ivan and Marjorie Ralston, William A and Nellie Mae Ralston, and Nellie’s parents: Charles Lester Eastman and Charity Welch Eastman.
This is St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Rathfriland, County Down, Northern Ireland where John & Mary Carroll baptized their daughter Bridget, my great-grandmother, in 1867. Other children baptized there include: Catherine (1865), Thomas (1869), and Mary Ann (1871).
Here is the view from the church:
John Carroll was married to Mary Ferrigan on 20 SEP 1860 at the Church of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church of Clonduff Parish in Hilltown, County Down, Northern Ireland.
Here is the interior and exterior of the church as it looked in 2018:
I have recently discovered that Abigail’s line can be directly traced to Robert Paddock, the blacksmith of Plymouth Colony, Massachussetts. It appears he arrived to the colony circa 1634. Abigail’s line is Abigail~Nathaniel~Silas~Zachariah~Zachariah~Zachariah~Robert. There is a fabulous document titled “The Paddock Genealogy” and can be found on ancestry.com. Beware though, the entire book was not scanned in properly and information on Silas is on the missing pages. Original data: Curfman, Robert Joseph,. The Paddock genealogy : descendants of Robert Paddock of Plymouth Colony, blacksmith and constable, 1646. Fort Collins, Colo.: Curfman, 1986.
Online searches with zero results for Darius and Abigail:
General History of Dutchess County 1609-1876 by Philip H. Smith
History of Dutchess County by James Smith (1882)
Inscriptions from 5 NY, Dutchess County, Cemeteries
Putnam County Cemetery Inscriptions by Josephine Frost
Commemorative Biographical Record of Counties Dutchess and Putnam
History of Putnam County: Southeast section. Pages 287 and 289 list the Cranes and Paddocks as principal settlers of South East. Abigail’s mother was Mary Crane.
The History of Putnam County by William Blake
At the Archives of Michigan I searched the following books, microfiche, and microfilm for Darius and Abigail’s name and any possible children born/died in the years of the unknown children of this couple. Nothing much was found.
Index to Old Gravestones of Dutchess County, NY and then read through the acutal book: Old Gravestones of Dutchess County, New York
Marriages and Deaths 1778-1825 Volume 4 by Reynolds
Old Gravestones of Putname County with info from Dutchess by Barbara Buys
Historical and Genealogical Record, Dutchess and Putnam microform
Records of Early Settlers Putnam County, births microfilm
Cemetery Inscriptions Putnam County, including Fredericksburg microfilm
Confiscated Properies of Philipse Highland Patent lists Darius’s father Christopher Townsend as buyer for 122$ 2 JUN 1783 Fredericksburgh and also as the current occupier of the land. South East is located in the Philipse Patent. See map:
Tax List of Philipse Patent, 1777 lists Christopher Townsend and Silas Paddock.
Old Southeast Church Cemetery book
Payments to People Who Built the Erie Canal F127.E5 K46 2008. Lists Townsend and Trenor as being paid $1000.00 to deliver cast iron culverts and other castings on line of Champlain Canal. This data was transcribed from a book: Laws of the State of NY in Relation to the Erie and Champlain Canals and the book is at the Erie Canal Museum.
Darius and Abigail have on censuses 6 unknown children. Two boys born between 1795 and 1799 in South East when it was considered Dutchess County and who lived with them in Windham, Greene County, NY 1801 to 1810 and then disappear. Four girls. Two born 1795 to 1800 and who both live with them in Windham. One girl born between 1801 and 1810 in Windham and who live with them through to Cayuga County 1830 census. One girl who lives with them on the 1830 census, and may be a grandchild. The known children are: William, Christopher, Elizabeth E., and Nathaniel Paddock Townsend.
I did find a possible lead: Nancy Townsend Noxon, wife of Daniel L. b. 1794, Feb 24th and d. 1865, May 1 buried in the Methodist Ground, Potter’s Corners, LaGrange, NY. Townsends were Baptists so this is a long shot.
These are the news articles pertaining to William C. Davis and Almy Greene Davis (nee Rathbun) you can order from the Geauga County Public Library. As you can see they are not truly obituaries as advertised prior to ordering.
Almy Greene Rathbun Davis and William C. Davis had at least three children: Eunice Amanda, Phoebe Sephina, and John H. Eunice Amanda married Samuel H Cutler and they adopted NP and Betsey (nee Welch) Townsend’s daughter Elizabeth E. Townsend born in 1848 in Cato, Cayuga County, NY. Betsey died from complications of childbirth. Eunice Amanda and Samuel renamed the baby Mary Alice Cutler. She married Benjamin Walker Ellison in 1862. Alice and Benjamin are my 3rd great-grandparents.
I am trying to figure out if I can determine where Eunice and Samuel were married, as Samuel remains a mystery. He shows up in 1850 in Elbridge, Onondaga County, NY and disappears after summer 1863 in Oakfield, Kent County, Michigan. If I can figure out where William and Almy were circa 1845, we could narrow down where Eunice may have met Samuel.
The article reads: Claridon. The following, according to our record, is the number of deaths in the township for the year 1879. Feb 15, Mrs. Davis, 84 years. Geauga Republican, January 7, 1880, Page 1.
The article reads: Hambden. The remains of Mr. Davis were taken to Riverside Cemetery, Cleveland. His residence for the last eight years has been in the north part of Claridon. Geauga Leader, March 6, 1885, Page 3.
Neither William or Almy left any probate estate records in Geauga County, Ohio.
William and Almy Davis were the parents of Eunice Amanda Davis. In 1850, William and Almy lived in Elbridge, Onondaga County, NY as did Samuel H Cutler and his wife Eunice Amanda (nee Davis).
They all moved to Cleveland, Ohio about 1853.
William and Almy sold to the railroad company Lot 35 in Elbridge on 4 JUN 1851.
Here is the deed:
Funny thing is, they got a mortgage for the same lot, Lot 35, in the town of Elbridge in 1852 and again in 1853.
In 1852, they sell lot 36 (or a part of it) in Elbridge and again in 1853, same lot (or the other part of it).
I looked up the deed to see if it says the town that they came from, but it says Elbridge. I do not know where they came from in New York prior to this appearance in Elbridge. Samuel H Cutler also appears suddenly in 1850. He was 28 at the time.