Tuesday, August 26, 2008

John Hempstead and His Wives

The initial puzzle about John Hempstead concerned his first and second wives. The first wife's name is unknown. In the 1865 census at Riverhead, Long Island, John was enumerated with Mary Walton as his "second wife", along with their children. The Suffolk County Historical Society advised me that John Hempstead was living in Brooklyn in 1860...the inference being, in 1860 he was married to his first wife. [Mary's father Lysander Walton was a farmer in Riverhead for many years.]

John's first 2 children were Charles, born May 1855, and Phebe, born 1857. I assumed that they belonged to John and his first wife.

However...I cannot locate John with the 2 children in the 1860 census! There are a couple of faint possibilities...one being a family with very similar names living in a resort town ["Mexico"?], upstate New York.

Then I came across the statement in the "Brooklyn Daily Eagle", that John Hempstead, nephew of the notorious Emma Augusta [Hempstead] Cunningham, in 1857 languished in the Suffolk County jail on charges of bigamy!

John's son Charles turned 2 years old in 1857; his daughter Phebe was just born that year. Did he marry Mary Walton in 1857, while still married to the first wife?

It appears that John's first 2 children considered Mary Walton their mother; I believe her name appears on the death certificate of son Charles Hempstead, and appears so in other people's genealogies. I am not certain that is correct; just have to prove it, one way or the other!

  • check Bklyn church records for John's first marriage
  • try to obtain court records of bigamy charge
    [unavailable per correspondence with Riverhead]
  • try to find marriage record, John to Mary Walton
UPDATE:  marriage record found in pension app of
  Mary for husband John's military service: marriage
  date was 5 July 1856.  Son Charles was born 1 May
  1855, so probably son of John's first wife - who was
  still married to John when he married Mary, if his 1857
  arrest for bigamy was 
Note: re-check ambiguous 1850-1860 censuses, Riverhead area, for Mary Walton

UPDATE:  at 1850 Mary was a child living at home with her parents.  At 1860, her name and the name of the 2 children enumerated with her should have been Hempstead.  As to Charles' age [24], it should have been 4 or 5; his birthdate was 1 May 1855 - depending on the effective census date, he could have been either age.  The age written in the census was probably an error.

What About Clement Miner Hempstead?

Clement Miner Hempstead was supposedly named after the Clement Miner who married a Hempstead relative in New London, Connecticut. In looking back over the Hempstead family tree, it appears that Nathaniel Hempstead Sr. had a sister named Abigail who married Clement Miner. At first glance it looks a little strange to me - Nathaniel Sr. [b. 1753] moved to Brooklyn, NY in the late 1790's. His 2 sons were also b. in New London, but moved with their father to Bklyn at around the ages of 10 and 15. When they eventually married, would they even remember their aunt?

On the other hand, I recall from viewing numerous microfiche at the LDS Family History Centers, that the Hempsteads of New London and Long Island, New York went back and forth between the 2 locales quite regularly, including having their children baptised in both places. Thus it doesn't seem too far-fetched to think that the Hempsteads of Bklyn could have maintained a fairly close relationship with their New London relatives.

In looking for the parentage of Clement Miner, the only 2 possibilities appear to be Christopher Hempstead Sr., making Clement a brother of "my" Christopher Hempstead [Jr.], or Nathaniel Hempstead Jr. who married Mary Pedricks. Nathaniel Jr. died before 1820; Clement married Sarah Brown around 1834 and resided Long Island by 1840; at 1850 Nathaniel III was living with his mother in Bklyn. [He died 1870 and was buried in Riverhead, NY in Clement's family plot.]

Tracking Clement as a child in the earlier censuses [1810-1830] has not been totally successful. I cannot locate him at all in 1830, at least not as head of household, and not as a child at home with either Mary Hempstead or Christopher Hempstead Sr. In 1820, however, he fits into either household!

Clement's children, in order of birth, were: 2 children died as infants; Mary [named after his mother?], Clement Jr., Nathaniel [after his father?], Caroline, Sarah [after his wife], Anna [after his sister?], Lillian, and Eliza [after another sister?]. He only had 2 living sons, neither of whom was named Christopher.

Based on the names of Clement's children, and Nathaniel [III]'s burial in Clement's family plot in Riverhead, it appears to me that Clement was the son of Nathaniel Jr. and Mary, thus a brother of Nathaniel Hempstead III.

Clement Miner Hempstead and John Hempstead [son of Christopher Hempstead Jr.] were neighbors in Riverhead for years. Their relationship, based on the above supposition, would have been first cousins, once removed.

* Obtain death certificate of Clement Miner Hempstead [1888] to ascertain parents.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Piecing Things Together...

I worked backwards somewhat in fitting this puzzle together. I had my great-grandmother Phoebe [Hempstead] Morrell's Death Certificate, naming her parents: Christopher Hempstead and Alice Smith [supposedly b. New Jersey, still a mystery as she died before 1850]. I found Christopher easily enough in the 1850 and later censuses, in Bklyn, with an approximate date of birth of 1806-1807. In 1870 a Sarah Hempstead age 75 lived with him; probably his mother.

I had John Hempstead, probable brother of Phoebe, living with her and new husband Adrian Morrell at the 1850 census [Bklyn NY]. My mother had also told me that the Hempsteads living in Riverhead were "cousins" that she visited as a child. John Hempstead resided Riverhead, Long Island from the 1865 census on - with wife Mary [Walton] listed as his 2nd wife. Next door was Clement Miner Hempstead. Per Riverhead cemetery records, Clement was b. 1810 in Bklyn, as was a Nathaniel Hempstead, b. 1803, d. 1870, buried in Clement's family plot. [Could the 2 be brothers?] [see separate post on Clement.]

In researching the federal censuses, there weren't many Hempsteads in early Brooklyn. I found Nathaniel, his son Nathaniel, Christopher, his son Christopher. There was a Charles Hempstead in 1790, and Charles is a name that seems to appear in almost every generation of the families, but Charles didn't appear in the indexes for the early 1800's in Bklyn. There was a Thomas, but per the Thomas Hempstead bible record found at the Bklyn Historical Society, he was from Groton, Connecticut, while our Hempsteads were from New London [per the famous diary of Joshua Hempstead, of Hempstead House] with a family connection to Long Island.

Also at the Bklyn Historical Society I found the following birth and baptismal information on our Hempstead family, as well as marriage dates, extracted from the "Long Island Patriot" [unless otherwise noted] by Bertha Lee Hempstead Benn:

  1. Elisa[Eliza], dau. of Nathaniel & Mary Hempstead, b. 8/29/1801, baptised 4/6/1802; sponsor: mother. [This record only was extracted from the church records of St. Ann's Episcopal Church of Bklyn]
  2. Nathaniel, son of Nathaniel and Mary Hempstead, b. 8/29/1803, baptised 11/16/1805. Sponsors David Steward, Christopher Hempstead, Sarah Hempstead, Elizabeth Stewart.
  3. Ann, dau. of Nathaniel & Mary Hempstead. Born 9/14/1805, baptised 11/16/1805, sponsors David Steward, Christopher Hempstead, Sarah Hempstead, Elizabeth Stewart.

  4. Sarah, dau. of Christopher and [Mary - should be Sarah?] Hempstead, born 8/4/1805, baptised 11/16/1805. Sponsors Nathaniel & Mary Hempstead, Elizabeth Stewart.

  • Sat. 11/1/1800 at the house of David Stewart in Brooklyn, Nathaniel Hempstead, bachelor, and Mary Pedricks, spinster, by John Ireland.
  • Sat., 11/16/1805 at the house of Nathaniel Hempstead in Bklyn, Jacob DuBois and Phoebe Pedricks, by John Ireland.
  • [Baptised the same day - Phoebe Pedricks an adult aged 18 years baptised 11/16/1805. Sponsor David Stewart, Nathaniel Hempstead, Elizabeth Stewart.]
  • 11/19/1821 at the house of Mrs. Hempsted, John Gildersleeve & Eliza Hempsted. [married]
  • 4/19/1826 James Tredwell & Ann Hempsted, at the house of Mrs. Hempstead. [married]
  • 3/5/1826, at the parsonage, Nathaniel Hempstead & Caroline Glispie. [married]
  • [Long Island Patriot dated 6/14/1827]:
    Married in the village [Bklyn] on the 31st Ultimate, by Rev. L.S. Stillman. Mr. John Williams of Middletown, CT to Miss Sarah, dau. of Mr. Christopher Hempstead.


  • another Hempstead researcher felt that Nathaniel's wife's maiden name was Pettit, not Pedricks; however, the newspaper accounts of both Mary and her sister having the surname of Pedricks makes it more likely, in my opinion, that Pedricks is correct.
  • The baptismal sponsors of Nathaniel & Mary's children were Christopher Hempstead, probably his wife Sarah, and the Stewarts, David and Elizabeth. [Not sure who the Stewarts were; Nathaniel had an older sister named Elizabeth who, per her father's pension affidavid, died in 1796.] [Note: The 1800 census shows a daughter whose age fits Elizabeth's...] Nathaniel & Christopher Hempstead were probably brothers: Nathaniel, in turn, was a baptismal sponsor for his niece, Christopher's dau. Sarah. [Note that all but one of the 5 children named above were baptised on the same day.]
  • Note - only Nathaniel's first child was baptised at church; the next 3 were baptised at home. I wonder why?
  • Nathaniel Hempstead, father of the 4 children named above, must be the Nathaniel Jr. who died some time before 1820, when his widow Mary first appears as a "Mrs. Hempstead" with young children in the federal census. Later on in the Bklyn Directories she is listed as "Mrs. Hempstead, widow of Nathaniel Jr." Note that the 1821 and 1826 marriages of 2 daughters, above, mention only their mother's house and not Nathaniel's.
  • Nathaniel Jr.'s son Nathaniel [III], born 1803, must be the Nathaniel "b. 1803 Bklyn, died 1870", buried in the same plot as Clement Miner Hempstead in Riverhead, Long Island, NY.
  • Christopher and his wife Sarah Hempstead had to be the parents of "my" Christopher Hempstead, father of Phoebe Hempstead Morrell. Although the only mention of Christopher's wife [above] calls her "Mary", I think the extractor of the info automatically wrote the wife's name as "Mary" due to the name being written in all the extracts directly above ["Nathaniel and Mary"]. Christopher & "Sarah" were named as sponsors for all the above baptisms of Nathaniel's children. And their daughter Sarah, married to Mr. Williams in 1827, would have been named for her mother.
  • Note: Sarah is specifically named as Christopher's wife in the "Brooklyn Daily Eagle" auction announcements in the 1840's, after his [1839] death; their house was foreclosed upon for non-payment of a mortgage. She also appears in the 1870 census, living with "my" Christopher.

I found the Revolutionary War pension file of Nathaniel Hempstead Sr. online. He filed his application in Bklyn NY, 1834, 2 months before his death. His date of birth, place of birth [New London, CT], marriage, names and dates of birth for his children, even the date he moved his family to Bklyn from CT, were all included in that document. Nathaniel's wife was Elizabeth Manwaring; their children [all b. New London] included sons Nathaniel Jr. and Christopher Manwaring Hempstead.

I started checking the 1800 through 1840 censuses in Brooklyn. I found Nathaniel Sr., his son Nathaniel Jr. [who d. young but left some children], and Nathaniel Jr.'s widow Mary. I found Christopher [Sr.] with 9 children including a son whose age fit "my" Christopher.

The Nathaniel Hempstead [III] b. 1803 to Nathaniel Jr. and Mary, along with his sisters named in the baptismal announcements, match perfectly to the early census records of Nathaniel Jr.  His widow Mary was later enumerated in the 1850 census with only son Nathaniel [b. around 1803], living at home with her [Bklyn NY]. The records above indicate Nathaniel [III] married a Carolyn "Glispie" [Gillespie?] but I cannot find anything further on either of them, until Nathaniel's 1870 interment in Clement's cemetery plot. Unfortunately, I am told that no death certificate would be available for an 1870 death.

The 1857 newspaper accounts in the "Brooklyn Daily Eagle" of the murder trial of Emma Augusta [Hempstead] Cunningham added more information on the family history. Her father was Christopher, a member and trustee of the the Sands Street Church. [He was later involved with the new church built to house the growing congregation, York Street Methodist Episcopal Church, per Bklyn Directories.] Emma was born in 1818. She had a sister age approximately 40 at 1857, called "Mrs. Barnes". Another sister was mentioned only as Mrs. Simmons. And John Hempstead, in Suffolk County, was called her nephew.  [Note: per later research, Emma's sister Cordelia married a Mr. Simonson; they resided NY City, 18th Ward at 1855 and 1860.]

The approx. dates of birth [and marriage] of these 3 women fit neatly into Christopher Sr.'s early census enumerations, along with Christopher [Jr.].

Finding the article that mentioned Emma's "niece Phoebe Morrell" was the clincher. Phoebe was the daughter of Christopher [Jr.] and Alice; Emma Augusta Hempstead Cunningham had to be a sister of Christopher's. And since John was a nephew of Emma's, the John Hempstead living w/ Phoebe at the 1850 census in Bklyn was indeed her brother, another child of Christopher's. The "cousin Sarah" my mother remembers visiting in Riverhead was the wife of John Hempstead's son Charles; thus, Sarah was actually a cousin [by marriage] of Phoebe's daughter Alice Morrell, my mother's grandmother.

BTW, Emma Augusta Hempstead Cunningham was acquitted of the murder she was accused of. The newspaper accounts I have read all seem to agree she was guilty, along with her male accomplice, but societal conventions at the time prevented physical examinations of women, and there was no definitive proof that she was guilty. Only one account I've read portrayed Emma in a sympathetic vein, as having been used and abused by the murdered man, who was far from saintly himself. Emma [and some or all of her children] moved away in the 1850's or 1860's, ending up in California where she remarried [in 1870]. Her husband died in the early 1880s and she returned to Bklyn as "Mrs. Emma Williams" where it is said she died penniless in 1887. She was interred first in the burial plot of her niece, Phoebe Morrell, which I assume was a charitable gesture on Phoebe's part; perhaps Phoebe was one of the few, if not the only relative willing to acknowledge Emma upon her return to Bklyn. [Phoebe was interred in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx NY in 1912.] Some time in the 1890s a relative [supposedly a son of Emma's] apparently called the cemetery from CA, which eventually resulted in Emma being re-interred in the Cunningham cemetery plot at Green-Wood Cemetery in Bklyn. In 2007, the same year the book by Mr. Feldman was published, supposedly some descendants got together and had a headstone erected both for Emma [pictured on this blog] and for the man she allegedly murdered.

  • Obtain death certificate of Christopher [Jr.], some time after 1880, to ascertain his parents' names [including mother Sarah's maiden name]. [Note, he died in his 70's or 80's, there may not have been anyone left who knew his mother's maiden name.] [Note:  Sarah's maiden name later found to be Sherman]
  • Obtain probate file for Christopher [Jr.] to see who his living children were  [DONE]
  • Obtain death certificate of [his mother] Sarah Hempstead [between 1870-1880] to discover her parents' names. [Found entry in death index only]
  • Obtain probate records of Christopher [Sr.] to find names of his married daughters, and verify Christopher [Jr.] was a son.  [DONE]
  • Obtain death record [church?] of Alice [Smith] Hempstead, probably between 1844-1849, to discover her parents' names.  [See later blog on mystery surrounding her name/identity]

YET TO COME...More Mysteries Remain!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hempstead in old Bklyn Daily Eagle newspaper articles

I recently found, online, various newspaper accounts in the "Brooklyn Daily Eagle" of the 1857 murder trial of Emma Augusta [Hempstead] Cunningham. I also came across the blog of Mr. Feldman, who wrote a book [published 2007] based on that trial [and others of the times]. I was almost positive that Emma was part of my Hempstead family - probably an aunt of Phoebe [Hempstead] Morrell. What clinched it was reading that Mrs. Cunningham, who died "penniless" in 1887, was first buried in the plot of her niece, Phoebe Morrell!

The Cunningham murder articles also named her father, Christopher Hempstead, said to be a strict Methodist who disowned Emma when she married someone outside their faith. [It was also said that while Christopher was highly thought of by the church, he was not as popular outside the church.] Christopher's date of death and date of probate were provided in the article; he was said to have a modest estate, with everything going to his family. I hope this data will enable me to obtain copies of those probate documents, hopefully naming all his children for me.

Included in those newspaper articles was vague mention of 2 sisters of Emma's - a Mrs. Simmons who resided "on Lexington" in New York, and a Mrs. Barnes, widowed twice, resided Newark NJ with both husbands but moved back to Brooklyn, NY [Old Gowanus] after the 2nd husband died. Had either 4 or 7 children, total. While her sister Emma Augusta was potentially a murderess, Mrs. Barnes was described as a thief.  [After housesitting for a friend, she cleaned the house out and attempted to sell the goods.]

In another newspaper article, it was stated that John Hempstead, nephew of Mrs. Cunningham [Emma Augusta] was currently [1857] being held in the Suffolk County Jail on charges of bigamy. I've researched John [brother of Phoebe Hempstead] a bit - there is a mystery as to who his first wife was, and if she was indeed the mother of his first 2 children. [John resided Bklyn, NY before moving to Riverhead, Long Island, NY around 1860, where he married Mary Walton, his 2nd wife per 1865 census.] Now, evidently, I have to determine if he married Mary Walton [as his 2nd wife] while still being married to the first wife! I wonder if old court records survive out there on Long Island... [update---per correspondence with Riverhead, those records cannot be found.]