Friday, September 19, 2008


I've gotten a copy of Mary [Walton] "Hempsted"'s widow's pension application for her husband, John "Hempsted". Truthfully, I can't tell if she received the pension or not! However, there were documents which showed that John enlisted for 3 years and was wounded twice, the second [an elbow wound] rendering him unfit for further duty.

These two important facts were appeared on the documents:

  • per the certified record of death from the Riverhead County Clerk's office, John's father was Christopher Hempstead.
  • per his widow Mary's application, the date of their marriage was 5 July 1856 at Riverhead, NY, by Rev. M. Lockwood, "there being no legal barrier to the marriage". There was also a spot for the name of any prior spouse of John's or claimant to his pension, which was left blank. However, in 1857 he was in jail in Suffolk County on charges of bigamy.
John's son Charles was born 1 May 1855. His daughter
Pho(e)be [named probably after his sister Phoebe Morrell] was born in 1857. The date of John's marriage to Mary Walton [1856] indicates to me that Charles was born by his first wife, Phoebe by his second. In 1857, evidently, his first wife was still living and they were still legally married, thus the bigamy charges. By 1865, when John resided Riverhead with his wife Mary, his first 2 children Charles & Phoebe lived with them. Was his first wife then deceased? Was there some other reason the children [or child, if only Charles belonged to the first wife] would not be living with their mother?

John Hempstead did not enlist until 1862; however, I cannot locate him in the 1860 census [he may have still been in jail on the bigamy charges]. That census does show the Walton family in Riverhead, with Mary's parents and some siblings in one household, and probable daughter Mary 2 doors down in another:

State: NY Year: 1860 County: Suffolk County
Township: Riverhead Page: 1100 Database: NY 1860 Federal Census Index
Lysander Walton. 63. M. Farmer [b. 1796-97]
Mehitabel, 53, Rebecca, 12, F [b. 1847-48] all b. NY
Mary Walton, 24, F
Chas 24 M [b. 1835-36]
Phebe 4 F
Silas 21 M b. NY

There does not appear to be a Charles Walton in the Walton family in any other census year. However, there are a couple of possibilities for this census entry:

  • Mary Walton perhaps had a brother Charles, who was married to a woman named Mary, and they had a daughter Phebe almost the same age as Pho(e)be Hempstead would be.
  • Mary had a brother Charles, and she and her daughter Phebe lived with him [along with younger brother Silas.] She used the Walton surname because of her husband's bigamy charges.
  • This is Mary Walton Hempstead, with John's son Charles who should be age 4 or 5, and their daughter Pho(e)be who was actually age 3. Also living with them was Mary's younger brother Silas Walton [who did appear in other censuses]. At present, I think this hypothesis is the correct one.

No comments: