Friday, March 15, 2013

THE LABYRINTH OF CANADIAN POMEROYS PART II

by Alethea “Lee” Connolly 

While we continue sleuthing through old deeds, wills, journals, letters, and church records, we spend a good amount of time sifting through images on the computer screen for newly posted resources. But sometimes we find gold, just because fellow searchers come forward and share what they found. They provide the missing link that leads us giant steps forward. Much research today is about such generosity and collaboration.

THE QUEBEC PONTBRIAND/POMEROY CONNECTION IN ONONDAGA
AND OSWEGO COUNTY

Recently, these random acts of kindness came my way when I continued researching the French Canadian brothers, Louis and Germain Pontbriand, who, for some reason, changed their name to Pomeroy when they emigrated from Canada to the United States. (See our August Blog) We discovered Louis and Jeremiah had the same father, but different mothers. They were half brothers. Louis’ mother was Marie Louise Martin dit Pelland (first wife, deceased). Germain/Jeremiah was a son of Louise Preville (second wife of the elder Louis). This was a very large family, though not uncommon for the times in French Canadian families. Therefore, age differences between siblings sometimes ranged between fifteen to twenty years.

Since our August posting, I’ve received information from several descendants of these Pontbriand/Pomeroys. The 1850 federal census showed Jeremiah and family then living in Syracuse, and later in nearby Lysander, New York. One descendant of Jeremiah sent me a very clear photo of the grave stone of John and Harriett Pomeroy Pomeroy, his great grandparents, located in Oak View cemetery, Frankfort, Herkimer County, New York.1 The inscription on the gravestone shows their new POMEROY POMEROY surname identity.

Gravestone of John Pomeroy and wife Harriet Pomeroy Pomeroy
 His ancestors, are both of Pontbriand lineage, as Harriett was a daughter of Jeremiah, and John, the son of his Jeremiah’s elder brother Louis. Richard, who sent the photos, is a great grandson, of Gertrude, John and Harriett’s daughter.

Richard’s cousin, Diane, also sent us family information. She descends from Jasper, John and Harriett’s son. She told us about Harriett’s sudden death in December, 1917. It was reported a “strangulation, ” Diane explained Harriet had a condition of a goiter which restricted her throat. Tragically, one day, while doing food preparation, she choked when she ate some peas! Who would have known such a detail?

Another cousin, Jane, sent me a copy of the wedding photo of her great grandparents, Jasper Pomeroy and Maud Littlewood. Jasper and Maud married in 1906 in Frankfort, New York. Jane also sent copies of family obituaries, and Jay’s (Jasper’s) death certificate, which noted he was born in Brewerton, New York, where the family lived before moving to Herkimer County. Every tidbit of information illuminates the portrait of a family and leads to other investigations.
Wedding photo of Jasper Pomeroy and Maud Littlewood
In fact, it was a comment of Diane’s that prompted me to go back and look at the Onondaga County Poor house records. She mentioned Jeremiah had been sheltered at the poor house prior to his death. These records indicate that prior to his admission in May 1888 he had been a “salt boiler,” not an unusual occupation for Syracuse men in that time period. Some might say Syracuse, New York was the city built on salt, as this industry started early and lasted lucratively until into the early 1900s. That was a very tough occupation. In the days of corporate salt boiling “men worked in 90-degree heat and humidity, 12 hours a day, seven days a week, from April to November, boiling brine to isolate salt,” according to one journalist.2 They could produce three to four bushels in five hours. The poorhouse record confirmed Jeremiah’s birth in Canada; that he had five brothers and two sisters, and died while in the poorhouse, either in 1890 or 1891.3

POMEROY/PONTBRIANTS IN OSWEGO COUNTY

 While we knew Jeremiah and family moved between Onondaga, Oneida and Madison Counties in the 1860s, we just recently noticed he was in in Oswego County, likely not far from Louis, his elder brother, for several years. My colleague Barbara Dix, historian for the Town of Schroeppel, checked the 1855 NYS census and found PUMEROY family.4 The census taker used initials for given names, but we were still able to establish this was Jeremiah “Pomeroy”. If information on the record is accurate, especially the birth locations and ages of the children, then it seems Jeremiah and family had spent ten years in Onondaga County before coming in 1854 into Oswego County. Since all of his children were recorded as born in Oswego County, we estimate he was in this county perhaps by 1851. We now speculate that the Pontbriands arrival into this area of New York is about the year 1844.

We know that Jeremiah and family were in Verona, Oneida County in 1860, then for a few years in Bridgeport, Madison County, before coming back and settling in Onondaga County. It is here that his daughter Harriett married John Pomeroy, and where their three children Jasper, Gertrude and Wayne are born. They later moved east, to Herkimer County, and then west to Ohio, as our generous correspondents have shared. Other descendants of Jeremiah have been more difficult to trace. One daughter, Maria, married in 1883, when in her late thirties, to Brazil Pepper, and they settled in Granby. The 1900 census data indicates one child born to Maria, not then living in the household.5 It is not clear whether this child was born to Brazil and Maria.

 It is not surprising that some of Jeremiah descendants remained in the Granby area, while others went to Herkimer, and Ohio, as their uncle, Lewis Pomeroy, and their “cousins” remained there. When son Lewis Pomeroy died in 1908, his will identified him by both surnames of Pomeroy and Pontbriant.6 This discovery propelled much of our extended French-Canadian research resulting in grandchildren with the names of DAVIS and VIEW. Many of his children remained in the county. Daughters and granddaughters married into households with surnames such as MURRY, DAVIS, VIEW, WILLIAMS, ADAMS, LA BEEF and BURDEN. Perhaps now they will know that some of their ancestors were once Pontbriants from Quebec whose surname was changed to Pomeroy!

POMEROYS FROM STANSTEAD, QUEBEC THAT MIGRATED INTO NEW YORK

In the midst of digging through Quebec records for information about the Louis and Jeremiah family lines, I came across another puzzle. Several years ago I researched Judge Selah Pomeroy who, migrated from Vermont into Stanstead, Quebec in the early 1800s, where he raised his family. They were direct descendants of the Eltweed line. We knew Nancy Pomeroy, a daughter of Judge Selah’s son Hazen Pomeroy Sr., and his wife Lois Mansur, married Horace Wells in Syracuse, New York in 1847. 7 It was curious, but didn’t, at the time, prompt any intensive investigation.

Then one day, our county historical association archivist mentioned to our director that she had seen a Pomeroy name in an old diary she had been looking through. When I went to examine it, I learned the name was “Adele Pomeroy.”8 I recognized Adele as Nancy Pomeroy (Wells) sister. She was, according to this small journal, employed in 1847 as a teacher in a select school in Syracuse, which was just opened by Madame Anastasie Julia Raoul. Madame Raoul’s life had its own mysteries and secrets. By 1847, her fortune was depleted. With debts piling on her doorstep, she started a select school, and saved herself from the poorhouse.9 This meant that two sisters, Nancy and Adele Pomeroy, daughters of Hazen Pomeroy Sr., Judge Selah’s son, and wife Lois Mansur, were in Syracuse in 1847 and 1848. Had Adele read some advertisement for teachers, and taken advantage of this opportunity?

It was certainly an interesting coincidence that two families from Quebec who were, or became Pomeroys, ended up in Syracuse, between 1847 and 1850. Was there any connection of these Stanstead Pomeroys to the Louis and Jeremiah Pontbriand/Pomeroys? It was a longshot speculation, but puzzles and labyrinths are the peculiar territory of genealogists.

 I started to trace the Horace and Nancy Wells family unit. I found that in the 1850 U. S. census record they were in Broome County, and was surprised at their household members. Nancy and Horace were living in Chenango then, with sister, Louisa, and their 11 year old brother Selah.10 Further research showed that brother Charles was in the U. S. at least by 1854, when he married Mary Calkins.11 Perhaps he traveled with them, and then the siblings split up. It seemed like half of Hazen Pomeroy’s family bolted out of Stanstead for the United States!

 In tracing the descendants of the Stanstead Pomeroy sisters and their brother Charles, I found some stayed in the United States, and moved west, but some descendants returned to Canada, though not to Quebec. Nancy and Horace moved west to Illinois Her sisters, and brother Charles, married and a multitude of descendants have been traced – whose surnames are HARPER, SMITH, REED, LAFRANCE, FLETCHER and CURTIS.

Charles married Mary Calkins, but five years after their marriage (1859) he died in Michigan at age 35, leaving a wife and two children. I was able to trace descendants of his son, Charles W. Pomeroy, but not his daughter Mary. Another “act of random kindness” from Guy, a great-great-grandson of Charles W. Pomeroy, filled in some interesting family details, because his great grandmother, Nettie (Pomeroy) Curtis left family notes. Guy shared with us some of Nettie’s memories. She wrote that “when her (Nancy’s) brother Charles died, she took his little daughter Carrie to raise.” She also wrote that Horace, had a “furniture business in Troy” and “was a professional singer” of both church and opera music. Such recollections spice up a family history!

I still don’t know what motivated the three sisters (Nancy, Adele and Emily Louisa), and their brother Charles to move to the U.S., but I found no connection between the Quebec Pontbriands and the Stanstead “Eltweed” Pomeroys.

“THE STRANGE CASE OF PETER POMEROY”

Sometimes when you follow a loose string through a labyrinth, you end up somewhere in an unknown land, maybe with Dorothy in Kansas. But if you are fortunate, it may actually make sense.

In April 2012 a Pomeroy descendant contacted our director. She had traced her ancestry through a Peter Pomeroy in Illinois, but found Peter did not “link up” with our Eltweed Pomeroy family tree. She then asked a male relative to take a DNA test to help solve her “brick wall” She was surprised when instead of getting a Pomeroy match, the “markers” lined up with a PONTBRIANT line!

 Since we were doing research into the Louis and Jeremiah Pontbriand/Pomeroys families in New York State, it seemed promising to speculate Peter was somehow related to these families. It was a confusing trail, complicated by multiple marriages and half sibling relationships. There seemed to be no direct link to Louis and Jeremiah. Since sorting out these multiple marriages in the Quebec Drouin and Tanguay records was a challenging maze, I decided to push back to earlier generations and documents, and noticed that not only did our Louis Pontbriand in Onondaga and Oswego counties, marry three times, but so did his grandfather. I finally realized his grandfather, Jean Baptiste Briand dit Sansregret, was the key to unraveling my puzzle.

Louis Pontbriand, whose sons Louis and Germain (Jeremiah) migrated to New York with him (and his second wife Louisa), was the son of Jean Pierre Briand and Marguerite Lambert. 12 Jean Pierre, was the youngest surviving son of Jean Baptiste Briand dit Sansregret and third wife Marie Genevieve Cantara, born 1779. 13

However, Jean Baptiste Briand dit Sansregret was married three times. By his first wife, Francoise Jodouin, he had a son, Jean Baptiste Brilland born abt 1760.14. There was then about a twenty year difference in age between these half brothers. Descendants of Jean Baptiste Brilland emigrated into the town of Chazy, Clinton County, New York, while Louis Pontbriand and some of his family, including Lewis and Germain/Jeremiah, settled in Onondaga and Oswego counties.

Specifically, the elder half brother, John Baptiste Brilland, married Therese Perron, and their son Francois Eustache Pontbriand Sansregret married Felicite Vandal.15 A portion of this latter large family came to New York, and their surname became POMBRIO.16 One of their children was a Pierre, or Peter. Peter’s mother Felicite died in 1848, and his father remarried. In the 1850 census for Chazy, Clinton County, Peter is shown, as abt 11 years old, with his step-mother, and several siblings.17 I could not locate Peter in subsequent census records, nor in cemetery records, though other family members were located in the old St. Louis cemetery in Sciota. 18

A month ago, having already done some research in the Chazy, New York area, I came across a POMBRIO Family genealogical posting. Following this thread, I fortuitously found the genealogy work done by Susan L. Pombrio on the POMBRIO family ancestry. I received a copy of some of her research through the Northern New York American-Canadian Genealogical Society in Plattsburgh. “Pierre” is listed as the 12th child of Francois Eustache Pontbriand-Sansregret and Felicite Vandal. After his name she has noted “ b ca 1839 Sciota, NY went either west or south.”19 Oh happy day!

This was another piece in the Peter Pomeroy identity puzzle, one that supports our belief that the Peter Pomeroy in the U. S. 1860 Illinois census, is Peter/Pierre POMBRIO in the 1850 Clinton County census, a descendant, linked generations back to Jean Baptiste Briand dit Sansregret, and, therefore, linked to Louis and Germain.

 In the 1860 census of Plainfield, Illinois Peter’s place of birth is listed as Canada.20 It appears from the household that Peter is an apprentice in the John Virgil household. Virgil is a successful carriage maker, it seems, and Peter, age 21, is listed as a “wagon maker.” As he is unrelated to the family, as far as we know, it is not likely information was given to the census taker by Peter, but by John Virgil. It probably “sounded like” Peter was “French Canadian,” and certainly the head of household would have known some aspect of his origins. In subsequent census records, when Peter is head of household, Peter consistently states his place of birth as New York.

One descendant said family memoirs reported Peter never referred to his French Canadian heritage, but apparently told his adult sons he was a stowaway and came from France. Our research shows this unlikely, as do census records over the years where he himself claims his birth as New York State.

A great granddaughter of Peter Pomeroy, in writing to us, noted, according to Peter’s “Civil War Records that he was born in 1839 in New York.” The old Kansas GAR Post records in fact reported his birth locality as “Clinton City.” Well, that’s 50% correct.21 When Peter Pomeroy was 76 years old, he was listed in the 1915 Kansas State Census. He and wife Karen were living in Mulvane, Sedgwick County. He was cited as born abt 1839, in Clinton Co. NY. 22 

It seems at least, for the time being, I’m out of the labyrinth, even if all mysteries haven’t been solved. Still, part of the family story may be true. Peter may very well have run away from his Clinton County family sometime after 1850.

There is the possibility that he knew he had these half-cousins, Lewis and Jeremiah, in Oswego, and Verona, at this time. Perhaps he went as a young teenager to work with one of them, seeking an off-the-farm opportunity, especially since Jeremiah was listed as a boat captain. It would have been quite easy, from that point, to stowaway on a boat and find one’s way to Chicago. But then, that’s another puzzle.

Peter Pontbriand/Pombrio/Pomeroy died in 1916.23

 ENDNOTES

*The surname Pontbriand has been recorded and transcribed Pontbriant, Pontbrillant, in the Drouin Records of Quebec for the same person and family, but I have used the “d” spelling for consistency here. Some branches of these ancestors were recorded as Briand, and Briand dit Sansregret, as you will see, and the descendants of a branch in Clinton County retained the Americanized change to Pombrio as a surname.

1. We have used only first names of our information donors to protect their privacy. I’m using the spelling on Harriett’s gravestone, with two “ts” for Harriett’s given name throughout this text.

2. Sewell Chan, December 31, 2009, “On the Road: A Proudly Salty Reputation,” City Room, New York Times, online at: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/31/on-the-road-a-proudly-salty-reputation/

3. Onondaga County Poorhouse records, Town of Onondaga Historical Society, 9/27/2012, Record Books HO-2, and M/W. Volunteer look-up by M. L. Michalec. It appears Jeremiah returned to the poorhouse after a dismissal in 1889. A later entry shows he died there September 6, 1890 or 1891, the date being difficult to determine due to confusion in page numbering.

4. 1855 New York State Census, Town of Schroeppel, Second District, Family 241. Ancestry.com.

5. 1892, New York State Census, First Election District, p. 2, line 12-13. Ancestry.com; also 1900 U. S. Census, Oswego, New York, 5A, Ed 108, line19-20.

6. In the matter of the estate of Louis Pontbriant-also known as Louis Pomeroy…, Surrogate Court, County of Oswego, New York, 12 September, 1910.

7. Marriage Horace W. Well and Nancy M. Pomeroy, Onondaga Standard, April 12, 1848, p. 3. C. 3

8. See: The Anastasie Raoul Collection, Onondaga Historical Association, Syracuse, New York at http://www.cnyhistory.org/

9. Ibid.

10. 1850 U. S. Census Chenango, Broome County, New York State, P. 348, Dwelling 1796, Fam 1866.

11. Charles Pomeroy married Mary Calkins of Lowell, Massachusetts in 1854 according to B. F. Hubbard’s The History of Stanstead County Province of Quebec, with Sketches of more that Five Hundred Families, (Quebec: Heritage, 1874), p. 123-124. A thank you to Guy G. for some confirmations and interesting new information.

12. Baptism of Louis Pontbriand, July 14, 1807, son of Jean Pontbriand and Marguerite Lambert. Yamaska, Quebec. Ancestry.com Quebec, (Drouin Collection, 1621-1967) [database online]

13. Marriage of Jean Briand dit Sansregret, widow of Jeanne Voine (Venne-Voyne) to Maria Cantara, 1779, Feb 15, Yamaska, Quebec. Drouin. Source same.

14. The marriage of Jean Brilland to Therese Perron, September, 1794, cites his parents as deceased Jean Baptiste Brilland and Francoise Jodouin. Drouin. Source same.

15. (1) Marriage of Jean Brilland, son of deceased Jean Baptiste Brilland and Francoise Jodouin, to Therese Perron, Sept 29, 1794. Contrecoeur, St-Trinite´ Quebec. (2) Marriage of F. Eustache, older son of Jean Baptiste PontBrillant and Therese Perron to Felicite Vandal, Jan 11, 1820, Sorel, St. Pierre, Quebec. Ancestry.com Quebec. Drouin. Source same.

16. See POMBRIO Family Genealogy researched by Susan L. Pombrio. Before coming into this family genealogy, I had noted this surname while looking at burials in St. Louis Roman Catholic Cemetery (see ftn 18) and researching the Clinton County census records.

 17. 1850 U. S. Census, Chazy, Clinton County, New York , p. 242, line 34 Dwelling: 1659, Family: 1768, “Eustace POBRIA.” Peter is cited age 11. Ancestry. Com.

18. St. Louis Roman Catholic Cemetery, (Sciota, Town of Chazy, Clinton County, NY.) Surname of POMBRAH shows Augustus, and Phillisa (Eustache and Felicite Pombrio Pontbriant). POMBRIO also recorded. Northern New York Tombstone Transcription Project at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~frgen/clinton/chazy/st_louis.htm

19. Susan L. Pombrio, A Genealogy of the Pombrio Family in the United States, (#008), p. 45. provided by the Northern New York American-Canadian Genealogical Society Library, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

20. 1860 U.S. Census, Plainfield, Will County, Illinois, pg 164, line 1, part of John Virgil household, Family # 1223. Peter Pomeroy notes his birth location as New York in the 1885 and 1895 Kansas State Census records, and also in the 1870, 1900, 1910 U.S. census records. Ancestry.com

21. Kansas Grand Army of the Republic Post Reports, The James Shields Post 57 (1882-1937) Wellington County Sumner, Kansas records Peter Pomeroy mustered roll citing his birth location as “Clinton City.” Ancestry. Pomeroy served until the end of the war..

22. Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925, Reel K-1-K-271, Kansas State Historical Society, 1915 Census, p. 7, line 23, Family 10. Ancestry.com

23. Peter Pomeroy, died 1916. Kansas, Find A Grave Index, 1854-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

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