Friday, June 30, 2017

Samuel Peterson: New Jersey shipwright

After spending two years focused on my paternal line, I've been eager to look at the other branches of my family. Since the Callin Family History started with my 5th great-grandfather on the paternal side, it seemed inevitable that I should re-start this blog project by going to the exact opposite end of the tree: my 5th great-grandfather through my maternal line. Records are still sparse online, but perhaps one of these days I'll get the chance to visit the places that have the records that might fill in the blanks. 

Tracing back from my maternal grandmother's mother, Edna Lyle (Frey) Tuttle, here's what I can tell you about her great-great grandfather:

Samuel Peterson (1783-1862) - my 5x-great grandfather

Sam Peterson was a New Jersey shipwright who was born in 1783 in  Cape May, New Jersey. He had three sons and three daughters with his wife Mary between 1814 and 1830. He died on July 9, 1862, in Middlesex county, New Jersey, having lived a long life of 80 years.

Edna Lyle Frey (1895-1985) pedigree chart
click for full size version
There is a great deal that I don't know, and even some of the facts I have may be wrong. I had to make some educated guesses from the available records, but here's a breakdown of the evidence I have.

U.S. Federal Census records for 1830, 1840, 1850, and 1860 show a Samuel Peterson residing in Middlesex county, New Jersey. The first three place him in North Brunswick, presumably in his home with his wife and children; the 1860 places him in the town of Washington (the borough of South River, today), where he is living with the Palmer family.

I believe that James and Martha Palmer are Sam's daughter and son-in-law. There are also two children with the surname Peterson in the household that year: Samuel (14) and Annie (12); other records for Martha and James identify them as a niece and nephew, which I'll talk about in more detail later.

In addition to the four census records, I have an index record from the New Jersey, Deaths and Burials Index, 1798-1971. That record identifies Samuel Peterson, born about 1782 in Cape May, New Jersey; died 9 July 1862 in Washington, Middlesex, New Jersey at 80 years of age. Occupation: Shipwright; marital status: Widowed.

I have not found any records, local histories or old genealogy texts with any information about Sam's parents, but several Peterson families were listed in the New Jersey Tax Lists in Upper Township, Cape May county, during the 1780s and 1790s. (I found records for Aaron, Isaac, Hance, Joseph, Thomas, and a Samuel Peterson - any of whom might be Sam's father.)

Mary Peterson (1782-1852) - my 5x-great grandmother

Mary was born in 1786 in New Jersey. Other researchers give her maiden name as Hoffman, but I have not been able to confirm that with the available records. I only have two records that name her: the 1850 Census, where she is listed in Sam's household in North Brunswick, and the record of her death in the New Jersey, Deaths and Burials Index, 1798-1971. She died on February 17, 1852, in South River, New Jersey, at the age of 66.

Their Children

This section should be considered a work in progress. I had to piece together clues from a lot of different records, some of which contradict each other. There are several common names used across several generations, and children who seem to have lived with aunts and uncles while their parents were still alive, but I'll do my best to piece things together.

Assuming that the children living in their household in 1830 and 1840 were their sons and daughters, I expect to someday find all six of them. There were three boys and three girls in 1830; one girl and two boys in 1840; and one of each in the household in 1850 (the first year that named all household members). Here is the current list of Sam and Mary's descendants, as best as I can prove:

I. Thomas Peterson (1814–1880) - since none of the records I have found online identify Thomas as the son of Sam and Mary, there was a son listed in the "age 15-19" block of the 1830 Census. Also, the 1860 Census shows the Thomas Peterson family living next door to the James C. Palmer family, where Sam Peterson was also living. This is probably the strongest evidence I have to suggest that Thomas is related to our Sam Peterson. So, while I offer the caveat that he may not be a member of this family, the facts that follow are supported by five Census records (1840 through 1880), which place him in the area of East Brunswick, as well as his death record in the New Jersey, Deaths and Burials Index, 1798-1971, and memorials in the U.S. Find-a-Grave database.

Thomas Peterson was born on August 8, 1814, in New Jersey. He had two sons with his wife, Sarah Eliza, between 1838 and 1843. He was listed as a "waterman," "boatman," and "master sloop" in the various census records. Thomas died on October 26, 1880, in East Brunswick, New Jersey, at the age of 66, and Sarah Eliza died January 31, 1906, at age 88. They are both buried in the Washington Monumental Cemetery in South River, New Jersey.

On the 1870 Census, two young men, Perry (age 22) and Isaac (21) are listed as "farm servants" - their race is listed as "black" and their birthplace as "Virginia." They are indexed as Perry Peterson and Isaac Peterson, but the original census does not actually indicate a surname for them, so I'm not sure whether they used the name or not. 

     A. William H Peterson (b. 1838) married Mary F Reid (b. 1839) in 1858. They had one child during their marriage, Martha R Peterson (b. 1860). In addition to six U.S. Census records (1850-1910) that place him in East Brunswick and South River, William is recorded in U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865. 

     B. Theadore F Peterson (1843–1877) was born in 1843 in East Brunswick, New Jersey. He his wife, Louisa, had one daughter, whom they named Carrie, in 1869. He died at age 35 on April 1, 1877. All we know about Louisa and Carrie comes from the three Census records that feature Theadore.

II. Unknown sister - born between 1816-1820, she only appeared on the 1830 Census in the "Females aged 10 thru 14" block.

III. Martha Peterson (1815–1882) - is my 4x-great grandmother; we will go over this family in more detail in a later post. She married James C. Palmer in 1836, and they had four daughters. This family took in Martha's nephew Samuel and niece Annie when Martha's sister-in-law died; and Martha's father, Samuel, lived with them after Mary died in 1852. In 1860, Samuel was listed in the Palmer household with the occupation constable.

IV. James H. Peterson (1821–1900) - was born in January 1821 in New Jersey. He had one son and two daughters with his wife, Sarah A, between 1847 and 1848. He died in 1900 having lived a long life of 79 years. You will notice a significant gap there, as I only have two Census records for James - one from 1850 that shows him, Sarah, and two of their children living in North Brunswick, and then 1900, living with his niece (Martha's daughter), Sarah Decker, and his brother-in-law, James Palmer.

While I have not been able to find James in the Census between 1850 and 1900, two of his children appear in the records consistently. I haven't been able to find records that would explain what happened, but I suspect that Sarah and one of their daughters, Martha, died during the 1850s. That said, there could be any number of explanations for these patterns.

     A. Martha L Peterson (b. 1847) was three years old in 1850, according to the 1850 Census; after that, I have not found records to indicate her fate.

     B. Samuel H. Peterson (b. 1847) was five years old on the 1850 Census, but later records peg his birth date closer to Martha's. On the 1860 Census, Samuel and his other sister, Annie, appear listed in the same James Palmer household as their grandfather, Sam Peterson (the same Sam we started with). According to a newspaper obituary for his wife, he married Amelia J. Opp in 1873, and they moved to New York state.

Samuel and Amelia were in Deerpark, New York, according to the 1875 New York State Census, and they were in North Dansville with their daughter and three sons in 1880. When Amelia shows up in 1900, she is listed in North Dansville as a widow, but I have not been able to find Samuel's death records. Amelia lived in North Dansville until her death in 1922, and she was buried near two of her sons in Green Mount Cemetery.

Because Amelia Opp is the sister of my 3x-great grandfather, Jacob Edward Opp, I plan to explore this family in a future post - there are a lot of Peterson descendants in this branch!

     C. Annie E. Peterson (1848–1880) presents a few tragic puzzles. She does not appear on the 1850 Census, but she and her brother Samuel appear on the 1860 in the home of the Palmer family. Annie apparently married a man named Eugene Morter, and they both appear in the Palmer household on the 1870.

According to the New Jersey, Marriage Records, 1670-1965, she married John A. Darlington on 11 December 1871, and they lived in Brooklyn, New York, according to the 1875 New York State Census. That marriage record names her parents as "James H. Peterson and Sarah Peterson." In 1880, John and Annie lived in Brooklyn with their three sons: James (b. 1872), John (b. 1877), and Orrin (b. 1879).

Tragically, Annie died on 17 June 1880 - there is a record that attributes her death to "consumption," but it also gives her race as "mulatto" (all other records that list race describe her as "white") and the date of death as June 1879, so that may be a different Anna Darlington. Whatever the cause of Annie's death, little Orrin also died a few weeks later on 14 July 1880.

Her husband and two surviving sons remained in Brooklyn, none married or left any children as far as I have been able to determine. The younger John died in 1902 at age 25; his brother James died in 1924. Their father traveled to England, and returned to New York in July 1886. The most recent record I see for him is the 1900 Census.

V. Larisa Peterson (b. 1826) - appeared in her parent's home in 1850.

VI. Samuel Peterson (b. 1830) - like his sister, appeared at home with his parents in 1850.

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As always, I would be eager to hear from anyone who might be related to any of the families mentioned here. It is a real challenge to research a surname as common as "Peterson," especially when everyone marries someone named either "Sarah" or "Mary" and then names their sons Samuel, James, or John!

But that is the challenge, I suppose, and I wouldn't really have any fun without the challenge.

I can be reached through my Gmail address, which is "callintad" and I will be notified if you comment below. My DNA is in the database, if you are looking for genetic connections.

And happy hunting!