Mr. Dobbin

While visiting a friend’s store recently I purchased a few small items in the hope of returning them to family. I see people doing this all the time on various Facebook groups and thought I’d give it a try myself. Having had ephemera and photos ‘returned’ to my by distant family members and strangers, I know just how valuable these little odds and ends can be to a family historian.

One of the items I purchased is this photo:


On the back of the photo someone wrote “Mr. Dobbin”. The only other clues are the photographers named, “W.E. Vaughn” and the location, Red Creek, NY.

My intention is to post this image multiple places. If anyone has any luck tracking down a descendent, please send them my way!


Scouring Old Maps

My 3x-great-grandfather William Justice Warner and wife Mary Van Loan, his parents William Jackson Warner and wife Amelia Mix, and grandparents Josiah Warner and wife Olive Jackson lived in Athens, Greene County, New York. They were farmers by all accounts, with William Justice Warner’s son (William John) as the first to pursue a different livelihood.

I’ve been searching for the burial locations for most of these people. William Justice is buried in Virginia, but his military pension records indicate his wife Mary died in 1871 in Athens, NY. I believe the older Warner’s also died in Athens. It dawned on me that as farmers, they were likely buried on their own land, but where was the farm?

Histories of Greene County and Athens, NY indicate the boundaries of Athens are as follows:

“…beginning at the south end of a bridge that has lately been erected arose the Murderer’s Kill that empties into the Hudson River near the house of Josiah Warner…”

“The house of Josiah Warner, alluded to, stood very near the ice house south of the creek.”

I grew up in a map publishing family and realized recently that I haven’t utilized old maps in my research. I haven’t found a landowners map indicating the precise location of the Warner farm, but I have determined its general location based on the descriptions. If you follow the squiggly line from the “S” (Murderers Kill) to where it intersects with a road coming from the Northeast, that’s the area. Interestingly enough, there is a notation for a “Mrs Warner” just below the “N”.

Screen shot 2015-01-18 at 9.10.19 PM


As I begin to plan a research trip, this information will be invaluable in whittling down the location. As a tip to others, many old maps and atlases are readily available online.

William J. Warner (1812-1898)

I spent a lot of time looking for my ancestor William J. Warner’s place of death. He lived in Athens, Greene County, NY most of his life, with the exception of army enlistments and a brief period of time living in Brooklyn with his two sons. I recently learned that William had died at a soldiers’ home in Hampton, Virginia and was buried there. Just today, I located his obituary:

Comrade William J. Warner, a member of Thatford Post, No. 3, G. A. R., New York, who died recently at the Hampton Soldiers’ Home, had a most eventful life, having taken an active part in three wars in the service of the United States. He was born at Athens, Greene County, N.Y. in 1812, and in 1837 enlisted for three years in Troop A of the Second United States Regular Dragoons. At the end of his term he re-enlisted for five years, and when that was served he again enlisted to serve during the Mexican War.

During the Florida war he saw much hard service. At the battle of Caloosahatchee he had his nose broken by a blow from an Indian tomahawk, and was shot through the right thigh. He was one of Colonel William B. Harney’s company of thirty men who were ambushed by the Indians at Sanibel Inlet and all killed but three. The survivors, Colonel Harney and Privates Eastman and Warner, escaped in a canoe. They were five days and nights without food and scarcely any clothing, until they reached camp.

In the Mexican War Comrade Warner was at the battles of Vera Cruz, Monterey, Palo Alto, Cerro Gordo, Buena Vista, Matamoras and the capture of the City of Mexico. He received a severe wound in the wrist at the battle of Buena Vista, and was discharged in 1848.

In the civil war he enlaced in 1862 as a private in Company G, 159th New York Volunteers, and with that command took part in the battles of Irish Bend, Vermillion Bayou, New Iberia, Port Hudson, and Clinton, all in Louisiana. In April 1863, he was captured by Moshy’s guerrillas, but was retaken in a short time by Grierson’s cavalry. He was discharged for disability in November 1862. The last years of his life were spent among old comrades at the Hampton Soldiers’ Home.

New York Press, 1898

A Challenge: Are There Any Hewitt Descendants Out There?

Can you help this photo get back to its family?

Sarah Rooney, Elnora "Nellie" Rooney Hewitt, and Alice Hewitt

Sarah Rooney, Elnora “Nellie” Rooney Hewitt, and Alice Hewitt

I have a number of photos of these lovely ladies. Elnora Rooney* Hewitt was a close family friend of my great-grandfather George K. Warner, Sr. and his sisters Florence and Alice, enough so that she became “Aunt” to George’s children. I would love to find a descendant to return these photos to—there aren’t many, but just one can be priceless when you have no other photos.

Here’s what I know:

  • Elnora Rooney was born between 1876-78 in Brooklyn, NY. She married an unknown Hewitt and had one child, Alice, in 1908. By the 1910 census Elnora is a widow. She most often went by Nellie. She was still alive in 1940 and living with Alice in Brooklyn.
  • Nellie’s mother, Sarah Roney was born in Scotland. The 1910 census indicates she was born about 1838 and immigrated in 1875.
  • Nellie’s father, James Roney pops up in the 1925 NY state census living with Nellie and Alice. He is listed as 75 years old, born about 1850 in Ireland. The census states he immigrated in 1874 and has been in the United States for 55 years. He is not working.
  • Alice G. Hewitt, daughter of Nellie Hewitt, was born around 1908 in Brooklyn, NY. The photo above, dated 1910, lists Alice as being 2 years and 8 months old.

Things I’m wondering about:

  • Where was Nellie’s mother and father in other census years? I can’t find them anywhere.
  • Did Nellie have siblings that might have descendants still living?
  • Was Sarah Roney really more than 10 years older than James? (note: I found a marriage record for October 22, 1874 for a James Roney and Sarah Baird marrying in Brooklyn—which could be Nellie’s parents)
  • Who was Nellie’s husband? What happened to him? When did he die?
  • When did Nellie die?
  • Did Alice ever marry? When did she die?
* All of the photos are labeled Elnora/Nellie Rooney Hewitt, but in records listing her parents the name is spelled Roney.