25 November 2011
My grandmother Bess Hall Pearce (1893-1986) was doing genealogy in the 1920’s. She worked mostly on her own lines but was also interested in following her husband’s lines enough to interview her his mother and aunt before they died in 1931. But until recently I didn’t know this. When she died I inherited all her notes and books but, because I had a young family and was building my own house I put the materials into a storage loft and forgot about them for 20 years.
I knew that our family tree on my mother’s father’s side included a Rebecca Conrow, born in New Jersey, the daughter of Hannah and Samuel because it was on all the copies of the family tree that I had gotten from my grandmother. Hannah’s family was well known back to Thomas Stokes, the progenitor of this family in this country. Rebecca had married Joseph Washington Pearce.
When I started working on my tree on-line through Ancestry.com, I began to look for a record of Samuel’s family; a list or a record of Rebecca’s siblings in New Jersey. There was nothing. I discovered quickly that many of the census records for New Jersey were missing and I discovered that there was absolutely no record anywhere on-line of the children of Hannah and Samuel Conrow.
I did find the 1850 census record in Tuscaloosa, Alabama for Hannah Conrow b. in New Jersey with daughter, Rebecca Pearce and her four little children, Mary (PA), Elizabeth (AL), George (AL, my ancestor George Alfred Pearce) and Josephine (AL). Rebecca’s husband, Joseph had died in 1848 according to the family bible – which gives only Rebecca and her husbands name with nothing on either’s parents.
I also found an 1840 Census record for Joseph ‘Pierce’ whose household was made up of the following people; a man 20 to 30 (Joseph), 2 girls under 5 (Mary and Elizabeth Pearce), 1 young woman 15 to 20 (unknown), 2 women 20 to 30 (one of which was Rebecca), and an older woman 50 to 60 who would have been Hannah Conrow. I discovered that one of the two young women must have been Marion Conrow who just had to be the sister of Rebecca ~ because, I found a marriage record for her in Tuscaloosa on 23 Apr 1842 to George Alfred Parker (note my ancestors name; George Alfred Pearce).
At that point I contacted a cousin who had this Marion & George Parker on her public tree to tell her the good news, that I had, through circumstantial evidence, connected her to my family as the sister of Rebecca and daughter of Hannah Conrow. She was pretty excited!
So far so good, but I still didn’t know anything about any other siblings nor about Samuel’s family. Nor did I understand how my grandmother knew somehow that Rebecca’s father was Samuel, since it was clear that Hannah was a widow by the time she moved to Tuscaloosa.
In the midst of a remodeling project we attacked the loft upstairs and lo and behold! There was that box of genealogy papers, treasures and an old copy of _The Ancestry of the Stokes _, a wonderful resource for the genealogy of this prominent Burlington County, NJ Quaker family. In the back of the book, to my surprise was a handwritten note in my grandmother’s very sloppy, large handwriting. The handwritten note is on p.310, and 311, part of the appendix of the book and the page that records the children of the marriage of Samuel Stokes and his wife Sarah Ellis. Hannah Stokes is listed as the 6th child and it is there where it says that she married Samuel Conrow. Under the text was the sloppy note. This is what it said:
“Hannah Stokes-Samuel Conrow
Their children were
Rebecca md Joseph Washington Pearce
Marion md George A. Parker
Charles md McCowan
Lewis – John – Stacy
Children of Rebecca + Joseph Washington Pearce”
(she lists children, including a daughter I didn’t know of who d. at 18 months)
“Marion Stokes (sic) md Geo. A Parker”
( she lists children accurately and who they married)
Below this Bess Pearce wrote in the lists of George Pearce’s children and then of her own children, and her grandchild my cousin. She never got around to writing me in.
I realized that Bess had managed to interview either Helen Pearce, the wife of George (he died before Bess married his son, also George), or George Sr.’s youngest sister Josephine (or both). Both of these women lived until 1831, well into the period when Bess was doing a lot of genealogy.
After finding this all important note I contacted a researcher at the Burlington County Historical Association to see if there was any information I was missing about these people. She looked and looked and was able to discover who my Samuel Conrow was but about the children of Samuel and Hannah…apparently lost in time.
If it were not for the efforts of a woman with a 3rd grade education, my grandmother; Bess Hall Pearce.
Addendum to this story: I have also now found Stacy Conrow s/o Hannah and Samuel who married Mary Ann Atkinson and Charles M. Conrow (of Tuscaloosa) who married Elizabeth McCown. I have contacted a few people on these lines to let them know that I have found a key to this family.
- Alexandra Genetti submitted this to ancestry-stickynotes