Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hunting For Abby (August 19, 2015) -- Part I of "A Mystery Solved?"

Headstone for Abby [Hunt] Miller (1807 - 1893), wife of Eber Miller
Cumberland Cemetery, Cumberland, Rhode Island (March 2010)

For several years now whenever I looked at the graphic chart of my family tree there was a nagging hole at the level of my 4X great grandparents.  I have known for a near certainty [How often is there ever complete, absolute certainty in genealogy?] that one of my 3X great grandmothers on my mother's side was Abby Hunt and that she married my 3X great grandfather, Eber Miller of Cumberland, Rhode Island. Yet despite much research and several accumulated clues, I still had no definite proof about who Abby's parents were and so that part of the chart remains blank. I do not know precisely where Abby was born. I do not know definitively who her parents were. I know almost nothing about who she was and what she did before she married Eber Miller.  It has all been a frustrating mystery as mentioned in my May 27, 2014 Tombstone Tuesday post here.

To begin unraveling this mystery, this post begins a written analysis of what information I have and the steps I have taken when I focus on this particular gap in my genealogy.  To start, I lead off with a review of my known descent from Eber Miller and Abby Hunt.  The descent is as follows . . . 

          Eber Miller (1805 - 1877)  m.  Abby Hunt (1807 - April 23, 1893)

          Ruth Ann Miller (1828 - April 6, 1893)  m.  Samuel Carpenter (1828 - 1904)

          Samuel Eber Carpenter (1853 - 1929)  m.  Sarah Etta Freeman (1858 - 1945)
          Everett Shearman Carpenter (1891 - 1962)  m.  Ruth Eaton Cooke (1897 - 1979)

          Shirley Carpenter (1927 -      )  m.  Arnold George Tew, Jr. (1922 -      ) -- my parents

The first question I asked when I decided to concentrate on solving the background of Abby Hunt was, "How do I know my 3X great grandfather Eber Miller married a woman named Abby Hunt?"

The answer came from the first bits of "evidence" I had from family resources:

     1.  My maternal grandmother left notes regarding some family heirloom spoons and some pieces of furniture that were inherited by my mother and her siblings.  I have the spoons and the furniture remains with my mother and her siblings.  My grandmother's spoon notes are shown below.

The middle note section of the spoon notes deals with a small spoon that my grandmother says belonged to DSH -- "Daniel S. Hunt." She further explains that Daniel's daughter "Abby b. 1807" married "Eber Miller b. 1805" in the year 1827.  The rest of my grandmother's notes about the Daniel Hunt spoon brings the genealogy down through my mother, Shirley Carpenter.

Middle section of the spoon notes indicating Abby Hunt's birth year as 1807
and her marriage in 1827 to Eber Miller (born 1805) 

While it is hard to make out, the spoon handle is engraved with the elaborately scripted letters "DSH."

Close up of the spoon handle showing the elaborately scripted letters "DSH."

While not mentioned in the spoon notes shown above, I also have another spoon with my grandmother's handwritten notes explaining that the spoon belonged to "Daniel Hunt," father of Abby Hunt and wife of Eber Miller. Note, however, that this particular memo refers to Abby's father simply as "Daniel Hunt" and not "Daniel S. Hunt" as the first notes on the "DSH" spoon indicate. The note and the second spoon are shown immediately below, but close examination of the actual spoon shows (in my opinion) that the engraving says "A. Hunt" and not "D. Hunt" -- so I believe my grandmother was mistaken about this particular spoon and it belonged to Abby the daughter rather than Daniel the father.

Close up of the spoon which actually is engraved with an elaborately scripted "A. Hunt"

     2.  My grandmother's notes about certain heirloom furniture provides some additional information about the Miller-Hunt family connections.  Her furniture notes are shown immediately below.

The Miller family descent notes on the top left of the paper above state first that the house my mother grew up in was built by her ancestor, Peter Miller, in 1767.  [I have posted about this house previously and photos of the home can be seen here. We often visited my maternal grandparents at 551 High Street in Cumberland, Rhode Island until my grandmother moved shortly after my grandfather died in 1962.]  The notes also indicate that two of Peter Miller's grandsons, Aurin and Eber, married women from the Hunt family.  Aurin married R.A. Hunt and Eber married Abby Hunt. It is easier to make out these marriages by clicking to expand the excerpt shown immediately below. 

     3. The Carpenter/Miller homestead at 551 High Street in Cumberland, Rhode Island is within a fairly short walk of what is now called "Rhode Island Historical Cemetery 3" in Cumberland.  It is located on Dexter Street down High Street from the family homestead and to the left. There are many Carpenters, Millers, Angells and Bishops interred in the Cumberland Cemetery. Among those interred at this cemetery are my 2X great grandfather, Samuel Carpenter (1828 - 1904), and his wife, Ruth A. [Miller] Carpenter (1828 - 1893), daughter of Eber and Abby [Hunt] Miller. Also interred there are my great aunts, Nancy Bishop Carpenter (1864 - 1928) and her sister, Abby Laura [Carpenter] Angell (1859 - 1929) -- who are granddaughters of Eber and Abby [Hunt] Miller.  The Miller interments in this Cumberland Cemetery include Eber Miller (1805 - 1877) and his wife, Abby [Hunt] Miller (1807 - 1893), my 3X great grandparents. 

Gravestone of Eber Miller (1805 - 1877) in 
Rhode Island Historical Cemetery 3 in Cumberland, RI.

Gravestone of Abby [Hunt] Miller (1807 - 1893) in 
Rhode Island Historical Cemetery 3 in Cumberland, RI.
Part II of this analysis will exam public record documents relating to Abby [Hunt] Miller.  It will also present my tentative working conclusions about the mystery of who my 3X great grandmother's parents and siblings were.  
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All photographs and scanned images by the author. 
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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