Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hunting for Abby (August 27, 2015) -- Part II of "A Mystery Solved?"

1850 U.S. Census for Cumberland, Rhode Island

This post continues the analysis of available information about Abby [Hunt] Miller in an effort to learn more about her and to identify her parents and siblings.  In Part II, I move to data available in the public record. As shown in the relevant excerpt above, the 1850 U.S. Census provided information that matched up nicely with the notes from my grandmother.

In Part I of this analysis, the first spoon notes of my grandmother indicated that Abby Hunt was born in 1807 and married Eber Miller who was born in 1805.  The second spoon notes indicated that Amey Bishop married Asquire Miller and they had four sons (Aurin, Namon, Eber, and Asquire, Jr.).  Those notes also stated that Eber Miller married "Abby Hunt" while his brother Aurin married "R.A. Hunt."

The 1850 Census corroborates the Miller-Hunt connection and the birth years for Eber Miller and his wife Abby as stated in my grandmother's notes.  In 1850, Amey Miller, widow of Asquire Miller, was 70 years old and the head of the Miller household in Cumberland, RI.  As indicated in the Census, Amey's son, Eber Miller, was 45 years old in 1850 making his birth year 1805 (which matches my grandmother's notes).  Eber was married to Abby Miller who was 43 in 1850 and so her birth year was 1807 (again this matches my grandmother's notes for the birth year of Abby Hunt).  Two daughters of Eber and Abby are also listed in the Census -- Ruth A. Miller (age 21 in 1850) and Cornelia C. Miller (age 17 in 1850).

Things then get very interesting in the 1860 U.S. Census, which is shown immediately below.

1860 U.S. Census for Cumberland, Rhode Island

In 1860, Amey Miller, mother of Eber Miller, was still alive at age 79.  Eber was now head of the Miller household at age 55 and his wife Abby was 53.  Their daughter, Ruth A. Miller, was now married to Samuel Carpenter and the Carpenters and their son, Samuel Eber Carpenter (age 6), and their daughter, Abby Laura Carpenter (age 1), were living in the Eber and Abby Miller household. But of greatest interest is the fact that a 61-year-old woman named "Charlotte Hunt" was also living in the Eber and Abby Miller household in Cumberland. Based on the Census information, Charlotte would have been born in 1799.  At eight years older than Abby Miller, Charlotte Hunt could not be Abby's mother, but she could be an older sister -- and Charlotte was not a very common female name at the beginning of the 19th Century.[1]  I thought this could be a very valuable clue to finding Abby Hunt's parents and siblings.

1870 U.S. Census for Cumberland, Rhode Island

A decade later, the US Census (immediately above) shows that the Miller household in Cumberland, RI was still headed by Eber Miller.  Eber and his wife Abby had their daughter, Ruth A. [Miller] Carpenter, and her children (Samuel Eber Carpenter, Abby Laura Carpenter, and Nancy Bishop Carpenter) living with them. And Charlotte Hunt, age 70, was still a member of the household.  Ruth's husband, Samuel Carpenter, is missing from the household, but according to the Census in 1870 for nearby Attleborough, Massachusetts, he was still alive and living with his parents (Joseph and Nancy Carpenter).

1880 U.S. Census for Cumberland, Rhode Island
By the time of the 1880 US Census (shown above), Charlotte Hunt was no longer among the Miller household members. Abby Miller, widow of Eber Miller and age 73, was living in the Cumberland home with her daughter, Ruth A. [Miller] Carpenter, and Ruth's three children -- Samuel E. Carpenter, Abby L. Carpenter, and Nancy B. Carpenter.  Ruth's husband Samuel had also returned to the household.

Armed with the notes from my grandmother and the corroborating data from four decades of US Census enumerations for Cumberland, RI, I was now fairly confident that Eber Miller had indeed married a woman named Abby Hunt.  I had a working assumption that Abby had an older sister named Charlotte who had lived with Abby and her family for more than a decade. In addition, I assumed that Eber Miller's brother, Aurin Miller, had married another sister of Abby Hunt known from my grandmother's notes only as "RA Hunt."

Recalling that my grandmother's notes and a spoon with the initials DSH provided clues that Abby's father was Daniel S. Hunt, I began a search for Daniel Hunt and his family. The search was unsuccessful, but I did eventually come across the following information in Rhode Island, Vital Extracts, 1636 - 1899 about a Hunt family in North Kingstown, RI.

The first thing I noticed was that while there was no Daniel Hunt in North Kingstown for the time period involved, there was a Samuel Hunt, son of another Samuel Hunt who married a woman named Susan and had a family of seven daughters, but no sons.  It took me a second read of the Samuel and Susan Hunt family members to suddenly realize that the names and births matched up almost exactly with my grandmother's notes AND the US Census information for a Charlotte Hunt living in the Eber and Abby Miller household in Cumberland, RI!

As the above excerpts from the North Kingstown births and marriages clearly show, Samuel and Susan Hunt had a daughter Abby born on March 17, 1807 -- the same year my grandmother's notes show for Abby Hunt's birth and the same year for Abby [Hunt] Miller's birth as calculated from decades of US Census enumerations for the Cumberland, RI Miller household. More important, however, is that Samuel and Susan Hunt had a daughter Charlotte who was Abby's older sister and was born on November 11, 1798 -- making Charlotte about eight years older than Abby.  This, of course, correlates with the age difference between the Charlotte Hunt living in the Miller household in Cumberland, RI and Abby [Hunt] Miller who was married to Eber Miller.  But the connections do not stop there. Note from the p. 83 excerpt above that Samuel and Susan Hunt of North Kingstown also had a daughter named Ruth Ann Hunt who was born May 14, 1801. This matches up nicely with the "RA Hunt" who, according to my grandmother's notes, married Eber Miller's older brother, Aurin! 

The discovery of the above information about the North Kingstown family of Samuel and Susan Hunt was all too good to be merely coincidental! My tentative working conclusion about my 3X great grandmother, Abby Hunt, was that her parents were Samuel and Susan Hunt of North Kingstown, RI and that her older sister Ruth Ann Hunt married her brother-in-law, Aurin Miller.  In addition, I reached the plausible conclusion that Abby's older, unmarried sister, Charlotte Hunt, had lived with Abby and her family in Cumberland during the last decade or more of her life. 

But, as shall be shown in the third part of this analysis, there are still a few nagging inconsistencies and questions raised by additional data I have collected. This additional data prevents a definite conclusion that I have indeed found the parents and siblings of my 3X great grandmother, Abby [Hunt] Miller. 

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[1]  See for Popular Given Names US, 1801 - 1999.  Data from the US Census of 1850 indicates that in the first decade of the 19th Century in a sample of 6,363 female names, there were only 38 Charlotte examples vs. 66 for Abigail and 953 for Mary.  From the same Census data a sample of 26,154 female names in the decade of 1841 - 1850 indicates only 125 examples for Charlotte as opposed to 128 for Abigail, 4338 for Mary and 2020 for Sarah.  
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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  1. Hi John. I have been following your story, such an interesting one. I also have a case where the sibling provided the evidence. Be sure you look at Rhode Island Roots which is available (excluding the last 5 years) on the NEHGS website, some further work may have been done on the family you found.
    I own a rare Hunt genealogy and I looked a few weeks ago to see if I could help you. One of the least useful books of its type, it's basically a compiled index which presents data SOURCE BY SOURCE, mostly for probate and vitals, town by town in Massachusetts. Thankfully that style of family history book never caught on. Found nothing to help you. Hunt was a common name in several spots in R.I., though.
    Really enjoy following your story.

    1. Hi Diane. Thank you for your comments! Excellent idea to look at Rhode Island Roots, which I have not done as yet. I have some additional evidence to show in Part III (which I am working on now). I also have some seemingly contradictory evidence that will be reconciled as I arrive at my final conclusion(s). I think the analysis was a good illustration for me of how one must be careful and follow all clues and evidence before even arriving at a working conclusion. The final part of this analysis will have what was a very nice surprise for me and that I look forward to sharing with anyone who has been following this series. ;-)