Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Tale of Love and Loss at the Onondaga County Poorhouse

by Nancy Maliwesky

On January 3, 1832 Patty Kingman, 41, Huldah Kingman, 14, Jason Kingman, 13, Henry Kingman, 11, Sally Kingman, 7, Lafayette Kingman, 4, and Joseph Kingman, 2, entered the Onondaga County Poorhouse.   The cost of their stay was charged to the town of Pompey[i]. 

On January 17, 1832, 14 year old Huldah received 6 yards of calico, 1/3 yard of lining and thread valued at $1.06, and a pair of shoes valued at $1.50.  She was bound out on trial on January 30, 1832 to William A. Cook.  Her length of stay at the Poorhouse was four weeks.  On January 18, 1832, 13 year old Jason (spelled Jasin in the Poorhouse ledger), received 2 ½ yards of shirting at the cost of 31¢.  He was released March 13, 1832, after ten weeks stay.  On February 2, 1832, 11 year old Henry Kingman received one pair of hose valued at $1.13 and was bound out on trial to R.L. Hess of Syracuse.  His length of stay at the Poorhouse was four weeks and one day.

On February 8, 1832, 2 year old Joseph Kingman received 2 yards of factory gingham and thread valued at 35¢.  On February 20, 1832, Patty Kingman (presumed the mother of this family) received 2 yards of factory gingham and thread valued at 35¢.  She was discharged from the Poorhouse on April 21, 1832 after fifteen weeks and four days stay.  Prior to her leaving the Poorhouse, though, Patty and her family suffered great loss.  On March 27, 1832, Joseph Kingman, 2 years old, died.  On March 30, 1832, Lafayette Kingman, 4 years old, died.  On April 19, 1832, Sally Kingman, 7 years old, died.  The Poorhouse records suggest that the three young Kingman children were buried on the Poorhouse property.  The Kingman family was not alone in their grief, as eleven souls passed at the Poorhouse during the months of March and April 1832.  Ten of the eleven who died were children. 

As the Director of the American Pomeroy Historic Genealogical Association, I am familiar with the early history of the Onondaga County Poorhouse, as Spencer Pomeroy died there on May 2, 1833.  Spencer immediately came to mind when I read in an article in the Syracuse Post Standard on Monday, December 6, 2010 that told the story of an archaeological dig taking place on the grounds of the old Poorhouse when construction on that site unearthed the remains of twenty four people who had been buried behind the hospital in the 19th century.  There have been several hospitals on this site.  The 1928 hospital is the only building still standing at the site.

I contacted Daniel Seib, the chief archaeologist at the site (which was being run by the Public Archaeology Facility at SUNY Binghamton) and expressed my interest in their work at the Poorhouse, and asked what I could do to help.  Knowing of the ledger books at the Town of Onondaga Historical Society, I offered to photograph and transcribe the early ledgers to help identify those inmates who had died during this timeframe.  Ledger books 1 and 2 contain information regarding inmates and expenses at the Poorhouse from 1827 through 1836. The next ledger book in the collection begins with expenses for the year 1856, and then lists inmates starting in 1861, so it is obvious that one or more books have gone missing.  Because of this my research was not complete, and a full inventory of those buried at the Poorhouse site was not available.  If anyone knows where there ledgers are, please contact the Town of Onondaga Historical Society or Jane Tracey, the Town Historian.  While these ledgers have no monetary value, the information contained in the books is important to those researching the area and especially to those people who had family members who were in the Poorhouse.  

 Daniel contacted me on Monday, September 24th to let me know that he would be giving a talk at Onondaga Community College about the Poorhouse dig and their findings.  The lecture was held on Monday, October 1st at 11:20am in Mulroy Hall, room 410.  Appropriately, Mulroy Hall is the H-1 building (the 1928 hospital built at the Poorhouse site).    He also told me that the reburial of the remains found at the site would take place on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at the Loomis Hill Cemetery in the Town of Onondaga. 

Perhaps the most thrilling news for me was that of the eighty sets of remains discovered at the site, Daniel and his team were able to positively identify three persons based on the research that I had provided them with.  These were the Kingman siblings, Joseph, Lafayette and Sally.  I decided to see if I could find out more information about the Kingman family.  It would be wonderful if we could connect with living kin and share their story.

As the Kingman family’s stay at the Poorhouse was charged to the town of Pompey, I decided to start with the 1830 U.S. Federal Census for Pompey, Onondaga County, New York.  There I found the household of Justus Kingman.  In the household were two free white males under five, one free white male between five and nine years of age, one free white male between ten and fourteen years of age, two free white males between fifteen and nineteen years of age, one free white male between forty and forty nine years of age, one free white female between five and nine years of age, one free white female between ten and fourteen years of age, and one free white female between forty and forty nine years of age.  Using the ages listed in the Poorhouse ledger I was able to match all the children, the presumed mother Patty, and the presumed father, Justus.  Two additional people in the household (both males aged between fifteen and nineteen years) appeared not to have entered the Poorhouse with the younger of Justus and Patty’s children. 

Where was Justus Kingman in January 1832; and why did his wife and younger children end up in the Poorhouse?  Did he die, or was he out of town and some of the family members took sick, so the mother took them to the Poorhouse for treatment?  It is interesting that Jason, who was old enough to have been bound out, was released from the Poorhouse a full month before his mother was.  Where did Jason go?  Were there other family members who took him in?

I was able to find a marriage record for a Jason Kingman, born about 1819 in New York in the “Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925” database on FamilySearch.org.  The marriage place was Perrinton, Gratiot County, Michigan and Jason’s parents were listed at J. Kingman and Pattie Chapman.  Further research identified a short biography of this Jason Kingman on pages 483-484 of the book Portrait and Biographical Album of Gratiot County, Michigan available on GoogleBooks, as follows:
                “Jason Kingman, farmer, on section 20, Fulton Township, is the son of Justus and Patty (Chatman) Kingman, natives of Vermont.  They first settled in Madison County, N.Y., and afterward removed to Tioga Co., Pa., where he died, in 1830.  She died four years later, in Onondaga Co., N.Y.
                “The subject of this biography, Jason Kingman, was born in Cortland Co., N.Y., June 11, 1819, and was 11 years old when his parents removed to Pennsylvania.  When he was 16 years old, having lost both his parents, he was obliged to make a start for himself, and for two years he was employed in farming for others.  He then went to sea as a common sailor, and followed that life until 1853, when he came to Lenawee Co., Mich.  For two years he was engaged in making pearlash.  In 1855 he bought a farm in Lenawee Co., Mich., which he worked for a short time. Selling this place, he purchased in Fulton Co., Ohio, where he lived eight years.  In the spring of 1864 he came to Gratiot County and bought 80 acres of land on section 20, Fulton.  He has since disposed of 30 acres and has 40 acres improved.  In the summer of 1883 he built a finely-planned residence.
                “In Adrian, Lenawee Co., Mich., in December, 1855, he married Miss Mary J. Cooley, who was   born in Orleans Co., N.Y., Jan. 13, 1834.  Her parents, Justus and Clarissa (Baker) Cooley, were natives of the State of New York, and came to Michigan in an early day, settling in Medina, Lenawee County, where they yet reside.
                “Mr. and Mrs. Kingman are active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  He is a member of the Masonic Order.  Politically, he has always supported the Republican party, but being very pronounced in his temperance views, he casts all his influence with the Prohibitionists.[ii]

A check of U.S. Federal Census records for Jason Kingman, born about 1819 in New York, and living in Michigan by 1853, did not provide any clear evidence that Jason had any offspring.  Jason died July 10, 1901 in Fulton, Gratiot County, Michigan[iii].  He was buried in the Fulton Center Cemetery in Perrinton, according to FindAGrave.com.

I also checked the U.S. Federal Census records for Henry Kingman, born about 1820 in New York.  Only one record was found.  According to the 1850 U.S. Federal Census for Perry, Shiawassee County, Michigan, a Henry C. Kingman, 29 years old, born in New York, was living with presumed wife Amy Kingman, 21 years of age, born in New York, and presumed children Daniel Kingman, 1 year old, born in Michigan, and Frances E. Kingman, 3 years old, born in Michigan.  Also in the household was Elizabeth Brant, 10 years old, born in Michigan.  Henry was identified as a farmer with real estate valued at $400.  Subsequent searches of later census records failed to identify this family, although a genealogist researching the wife of Henry C. Kingman stated that his wife had remarried about 1852, so Henry may have died soon after the census was enumerated.

Huldah Kingman was bound out to William A. Cook in 1832.  I have not been able to find any trace of her after that date.  She may have married and thus changed her name, or she may have died.  I am hoping that the former is the case and that someone connected to Huldah will read this blog article and contact me!

It was in researching Daniel, the son of Henry C. Kingman, that I had a real breakthrough, and by which I developed a better understanding of this family.  I found a burial record for a Daniel Kingman on FindAGrave.com.  According to this record, Daniel was born in 1847 and died in 1895 and was buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Morenci, Lenawee County, Michigan.[iv]  I checked for other Kingmans buried in the cemetery and found, amongst others, William P. Kingman born 1816, who died in 1902.  Attached to this record was an image of William’s death certificate, and his parents were identified as Justice Kingman, born in New York, and Katarah Lotimer, born in New York.[v]  Could this be one of the older brothers who did not enter the Poorhouse?  If so, why was his mother’s name different than Jason Kingman’s?  A quick check of a Kingman Genealogy[vi] on GoogleBooks helped to answer this question.  Keturah Latimer was the wife of Mitchell Kingman, and the mother of Justus Kingman.  Perhaps the informant on William’s death certificate was confused about William’s mother’s name. 

It seemed interesting to me that Daniel Kingman, son of Henry C. Kingman, would be buried in the same cemetery with his uncle William.  As I delved more into this family, I realized that the Daniel Kingman who was buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery was actually the son of William.  This family, as many other families of that time, had distinct naming traditions and the same names keep popping up.  This makes sorting the families a bit of a challenge!

So far I have been able to identify and trace three children of Justus and Patty Chapman (all sons), 11 grandchildren, 9 great grandchildren and 3 great, great grandchildren.  William P. Kingman settled first in Shiawassee County and later resided in Lenawee County.  Jason Kingman resided in Lenawee, Fulton and Gratiot Counties and Henry was found in Shiawassee County.  If you are descended from Kingmans born in New York State and if any of the names and places in this article match your ancestors, please contact me. I would love to share the story of this family with living descendants. 

Kingman children re-interment
Joseph, Lafayette and Sally Kingman were re-interred, with 87 other souls, in the Loomis Hill Cemetery in the Town of Onondaga, New York, on Wednesday, September 26, 2012.  The remains were buried next to the remains they were originally found with, so, like the first time these children were buried, they are once again "shoulder to shoulder", or perhaps more accurately, they are now "box to box".  In a sad state of affairs, a decision was made by the agency funding the archaeological research to bury the bodies in the banker's boxes they were being stored in while at the research facility.  All we can do now is remember and honor these people, known and unknown, and hope that their descendants are able to find their new resting place.  I wish we could have identified all of the people buried in the Poorhouse Cemetery, and now re-interred at the Loomis Hill Cemetery.  Perhaps someday we can.   

[i] Onondaga County Poorhouse Ledger 1, pp 45-46, Town of Onondaga Historian’s Office, Onondaga, New York
[ii] Portrait and Biographical Album of Gratiot County, Michigan (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1884)
[iii] “Michigan Deaths and Burials, 1800-1995,” index, FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FHNV-5Z5: accessed 25 Sep 2012), Jason Kingman, 1819.
[iv] Find A Grave online {www.findagrave.com], record created by With_Respect,_Always, Record added Jun 8, 2009, Find A Grave Memorial # 38071573
[v] Find A Grave online [www.findagrave.com], record created by With_Respect,_Always, Record added Jun 8, 2009, Find A Grave Memorial # 38071607
[vi] Kingman, LeRoy Wilson, Isbell and Kingman Families; some records of Robert Isbell and Henry Kingman and their descendants, (Gazette Printers: Oswego, 1840)

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