Friday, September 25, 2015

Unusual-Hope Allen's Will (52 Ancestors # 39)



  I wrote about Hope Allen a couple of weeks ago and when this week’s challenge was presented, I thought of his will.  The challenge is “Unusual”, with the suggestion of sharing the most unusual record you have found doing your family research.  When I was researching Hope Allen, I found an item in his will that I thought was fascinating.

Hope Allen wrote his will in Boston in May of 1677, and he died shortly after that.  This is the item in the will that I find so unusual:


“Item My Will is that my Two Negroes namely Dege and hagar Shall Serve my wife Hannah Allen for the Tearme of foure yeares next after my decease and that then they Shall have their freedom, they then paying unto my Said wife the Summe of Thirty pounds in money which Said Summe I hereby give unto my Said wife for the educating and bringing up of my Children that I now have or hereafter may have borne by her.  And in Case my Said Negroes Shall not purchase their freedom as aforesaid that then they Shall be Sold or otherwise Improved by my Said wife for the uses above mentioned.”


I have seen or read of many wills granting slaves their freedom in the mid 1800’s, but this was almost two hundred years before that!  And while his will does not “grant” their freedom, they are afforded the opportunity to purchase their freedom.  I found that amazing and it gave me a different perspective on Hope Allen.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Favorite Place to Research (52 Ancestor's # 38)



This week’s challenge is Favorite Place to Research.  I had a bit of a conflict trying to decide if I wanted to write about where has been my favorite place or where might my favorite place be to research.  Which came down to Ireland would be my favorite place to go to research if I ever felt like I knew exactly where to go.  I seem to want the impossible with Ireland.  I’m not sure that I could find out much more than I already have found at this point at least.  Going to Ireland would be more of a seeing where the family was from rather than a research trip.  Anyway, I decided to go with my favorite place to do research. 

Peoria, Peoria County, Illinois has been my favorite place to do research since it is where I have lived all of my life.  My mother’s ancestors arrived in Peoria starting in 1838 when my great-great-great-grandfather, Patrick Smyth, came here.  Another great-great-great-grandfather, James H. Murphy, arrived in Peoria in 1850.  Patrick’s daughter, Elizabeth, married James’ son, William, in 1864.  William and Elizabeth Smyth Murphy are my great-great grandparents.

I knew my great-grandparents and their children well, so I grew up with lots of stories about the family in Peoria, early on knowing where everyone was buried and went to school, and who they married, etc.  This was all a definite advantage for me when I began to research my family history.  It certainly helped that I also lived in the area! I have been able to comb through cemeteries, the courthouse and the library whenever I needed/wanted to do so.  That has made researching very fulfilling and interesting for me.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Large Family-Hope Allen 1625-1677 (52 Ancestors # 37)



This week’s challenge is “Large Family”.  I think that my ninth great-grandfather’s family qualifies.  I believe that Hope Allen had the most children of any of my ancestors.

Hope Allen was born in 1625 in England.  His parents were Arnold and Mary Reynolds Allen.  It is not known when Allen Hope came to the United States but it appears that he married Rachel Knight in 1648 in Boston, Massachusetts when he was twenty-three years old and she was twenty-two years old.  Hope Allen is first found in the Boston Town Records in 1651 where “Hope Allen, a Currier, is admitted an inhabitant.”

Hope and Rachel Allen had ten children, born from 1648 to 1664. Two of the children were twins. In May 1660, Hope bought 400 acres at the Casco River (at what is now known as Portland, Maine, about 115 miles from Boston).  It appears that Hope Allen and his family always resided in Boston.  When Rachel died around 1667, at least three of their ten children had already died.

Hope Allen married for a second time to Mary (last name unknown) in about 1669.  They had one child born in 1670, which is also the year that Mary died, so she may have died in childbirth.  The child (a son, John) died before 1677.

In 1671, a year after Mary died, Hope married for a third time to Hannah Townsend.  Hannah was the widow of Thomas Hull.  She had seven children with Thomas, but only three were living when she married Hope.  Hope Allen and Hannah had five children, with two of them being twins.

All in all, Hope Allen fathered sixteen known children, by three wives.

Hope Allen died in Boston in1677 at the age of fifty-two. He was buried in Boston.  His wife Hannah was pregnant with their fifth child at the time of his death. 

From a source based on the inventory following his death, it indicated that "The home was unusually large for those days and its value was estimated at 450 pounds, it consisted of a kitchen, hall, Lodging roome next to Streete, the parlour, the 'little Lodging roome next the parlour',the little chamber next the street, the chamber over the hall, the garret next the street, the little chamber next to the yard, the chamber over the parlour, the garret over the parlour, and the work house. Included many items indicative of culture and also listed '2 negroes a man & woman' ". (Negroes named as Dega and Hager in his will.) Hope Allen’s will also refers to his unborn child that Hannah was carrying when he died. (Also named Hope). In his will, Hope Allen left all of his property in Portland Maine (400 acres) to his oldest son, Edward Allen.

Hope’s wife Hannah went on to marry twice more and lived until 1721 when she was eighty years old.