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!

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