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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Historic Note:

Albany:  The history of Albany began with early Dutch settlements in the 17th century when Fort Nassau and Fort Orange were built in the area.  The village of Beverwijck was established near Ft. Orange and was later renamed Albany by the English.

“Albany is one of the first cities in the world to have installed public water mains, sewer lines, natural gas lines and electricity, infrastructure and utilities….”  -- from Wikipedia.


Who was Orlando Oliver and how is he related?

On July 17, 1865, Mary Lord Oliver Warner, widow of Alanson Oliver, applied for widows’ benefits.  Appearing with Mary were Orlando Oliver and his wife, Phebe Oliver, residents of Taylor, Cortland Co., NY, who served as witnesses to the application.  Mary was also living in Taylor at the time of the application.

[Interestingly, the judge who presided over the application was Hiram Crandall; Crandall being the maiden name of Alanson’s mother.]

It’s very easy to jump to the conclusion that Orlando was some kind of relative of Alanson; the impulse is almost immediate.  And, while I don’t rule out that strong possibility, I can’t make that leap.  More research is necessary.
Orlando is not in my database of nearly 3,600 individuals; therefore, he has not previously appeared on any other documents or census records associated with my immediate Oliver family.

I’d had a copy of Alanson’s pension papers for some time before I got back to the name of Orlando Oliver; about 4 years.  There are other pieces of family information on the application papers that I added to my database but I had nowhere to put Orlando’s name.  I try to be methodical and move carefully and chronologically to be as accurate as possible.

For some time, there has been a disagreement about the parentage of Alanson’s father, Ezra Oliver.  I have no parentage listed for him because I have found no clear, concrete information, despite what other family members and researchers have told me.

For some time, it has been thought, by others, that an Aaron Oliver was Ezra Oliver’s father, Alanson’s grandfather.  I, however, had dismissed him as a possibility since the dates for his birth are very close to Ezra’s.  There is a rule of thumb, even back a couple of hundred years, that 20 is an average age to begin having children; give or take 5 years.  Simple logic should clearly be that 2 males, 5 or 10 years apart in age, cannot be father and son.

Oliver is a very common surname.  While the given name, Ezra, is not so common, we have 3 Ezra Oliver’s in our family.  There were other Ezra Olivers in the State of New York.  It doesn’t mean that we are related to them; just as all William Smiths are not related to each other.

However, Orlando Oliver is there, on a pension application for Alanson Oliver.  Is he related or did Mary, Alanson’s wife, just happen to know Orlando and Phebe Oliver and ask them to be witnesses?  I have just begun the research; this is what I’ve found so far and Aaron Oliver (which Aaron Oliver?) has reared his head.  Family history is an odd and surprising activity.

In looking at the 1890 Veterans Schedule for someone else, I saw Orlando and remembered that he was listed on Alanson’s pension application.  On that census, an address is usually given.  Orlando Oliver’s address in 1890 was Ledyard, Cayuga Co., NY.  So there’s a good possibility that he may also appear in Cayuga Co. on the 1880 US census and/or on the NYS 1892 census n that place; and, he does.

One of the joys of online family history research is the amount of information that has been gathered, organized, digitized and made available.  I’m a paying member of Ancestry.com so I have access to a great deal of information.  Unhappily, despite all that Ancestry, the Mormon church and a multitude of other online resources, I am still stuck at brick walls on most family lines.  Still, one of the things that Ancestry offers is the ability to upload your family tree to their site and make it available to the public (mine is not there).  I always check to see if someone has done so with each and every individual I have in my database.

The thing to remember with these personal family trees is that, like the insistence that a particular Aaron Oliver was Ezra Oliver’s father, much of this personal information is NOT necessarily researched or documented but is simply information that families have been passing along for who knows how long.  Anything found in these family trees, if one wants to be accurate, has to be researched and documented.

Still, these personal family trees can provide a jump to other possibilities if you’ve reached brick walls, as I have.  So, I looked to see if someone has Orlando and Phebe Oliver in their family tree and, yes, someone has; many people, apparently, have.  And, here’s where coincidence, family weirdness and serendipity begins.

According to quite a few family trees at Ancestry, Orlando was married to Phebe [Phoebe] Lord.  Funny, Alanson Oliver’s widow’s maiden name was also Lord.  Remember?  Mary Lord [maiden name] Oliver [first married name] Warner [ second married name] was applying for widows’ benefits which is where I first became aware of Orlando Oliver.  Coincidence?  Maybe; maybe not.

Some of those same family trees list Orlando’s parents as Aaron Oliver – maybe that Aaron Oliver that several people thought was Alanson Oliver’s grandfather – and Rebecca Crandall.  Again, Alanson Oliver’s mother’s maiden name was Crandall.  Coincidence?  Maybe; maybe not.

So, now I have Alanson Oliver, son of Ezra Oliver and Hester [Esther] Crandall and Orlando Oliver, son of Aaron Oliver and Rebecca Crandall.  Alanson is married to Mary Lord.  Orlando is married to Phoebe Lord.  Relatives?  Maybe; maybe not.

What I can tell you, after decades of this kind of research, is that it’s almost as possible that it’s nothing more than coincidence as it is that there’s a relationship between these families.  But, I’m not going to tell you that either is the case; I’m going to continue researching until I know.  There’s more information in these family trees for Orlando and I’ll go through my usual steps of tracing Orlando from birth to death and each member of his family and his in-laws until I know what’s what.  And, I’ll report back.

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