Saturday, October 3, 2015

Saturday Serendipity (October 3, 2015)

After a brief hiatus for a trip to the Adirondacks, Saturday Serendipity returns this week with an unusual posting -- a single recommendation for inclusion on your reading list. 

Those with an interest in U.S. History -- and particularly those with genealogical roots in maritime New England  -- will find Leviathan (2007) by Eric Jay Dolin an especially informative and interesting read. Dolin's book is a history of whaling in America and as such it spends considerable space discussing the rise and trajectory of the New England whaling industry. 

So far as I know, there is as yet no evidence that anyone in my Rhode Island/Massachusetts-based genealogy was a whaler, but there were a few generations of blacksmiths; therefore, my interest in the history of whaling in New England increased substantially when I read Dolin's succinct synopsis of the far reaching impact of the rise of the whaling industry.  As Dolin elucidates, the move to actively hunting whales rather than merely awaiting their drifting ashore . . . 

               "[R]equired new ships, which were built by an expanding human fleet of shipwrights,
               carpenters, and caulkers. New wharves were erected . . . to unload the catch. More casks
               were made to store blubber and transport oil to market, and the number of coopers
               expanded to meet the rising demand. Great supplies of iron were needed for harpoons and
               ship fittings, and blacksmiths worked their forges as a result. Sails and ropes had to be
               made, keeping the sail lofts and rope manufacturers busy. The whaleships needed food and
               supplies, and a cadre of merchants kept them provisioned. [Besides Nantucket]. . . Other
               whaling ports in Massachusetts and Rhode Island went in search of whales in the
               open ocean and expanded their infrastructure accordingly."

As Leviathan engagingly demonstrates, the reach and impact of open ocean whaling in New England was far and wide for perhaps 200 years. Anyone with a genealogy rooted in colonial maritime New England forward is likely to find this book of value. As the dust jacket review of the book states,
"[W]haling is one of the mightiest themes in American history. Indeed, much of America's culture, economy, and even spirit was literally and figuratively rendered from the bodies of whales." 

I highly recommend Leviathan for the history and genealogical clues it provides. This book belongs on the shelf of any genealogist with deep New England roots!

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Image of the Leviathan dust jacket from the hardback copy of the book in the author's personal library.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Friday, October 2, 2015

Hunting for Abby ( October 2, 2015) -- Part III of "A Mystery Solved?"

In Part II of this analysis of the mystery of my 3X great grandmother, Abby Hunt, I arrived at the tentative conclusion that I had found the family of Abby -- her siblings and parents. But, I also stated that additional data raised some inconsistencies and questions that prevented a definite conclusion.  In this part of the analysis, I discuss those inconsistencies and the data that raise questions as well as some newly discovered family documents that shed light on this inquiry.

As previously related in Part II, the 1860 Federal Census for Cumberland, Rhode Island indicated a Charlotte Hunt, age 61, was living in the Eber and Abby [Hunt] Miller household. The enumeration day for this Cumberland census was 13 July 1860.

Recalling from Part II the research that indicated "Charlotte" was not a very common female name in the mid-19th Century, it was a surprise when my research also disclosed a "Charlotte D. Hunt" age 60, living in the household of William C. and Mary S. Barney in Warwick, Kent County, Rhode Island. While the page image on for the 1860 Warwick, RI enumeration is almost completely illegible, the enumeration day at the top of the page is clearly 5 July 1860. The transcription for the Warwick census at (shown below) clearly states that among the Barney household members on 5 July 1860 is one "Charlotte D. Hunt." 

By 1870, the Barney household no longer includes a "Charlotte" or "Charlotte D." Hunt among the household members.

But, as we have already seen, the Eber and Abby [Hunt] Miller household in Cumberland, RI did have a 70-year-old woman named "Charlotte Hunt" living in the home on enumeration day that year.

I was puzzled by this discovery of two Charlotte Hunts of almost exactly the same age and my tentative conclusion about finding the parents and siblings of my 3X great grandmother Abby Hunt was shaken further when I recently discovered among family papers I inherited the church pew rental receipt shown at the top of this post.  The receipt is clearly made out to "Mrs. Charlotte Hunt" and is signed by the same W. Cooke, clerk, who signed the pew receipts for Eber Miller, head of the household in which Charlotte was living.  [See the Eber Miller pew receipts as posted here on August 28, 2015.] Did this mean that the Charlotte Hunt living in the Miller household in Cumberland was a married woman and thus was not the sister of Abby, but rather her sister-in-law?

I ruminated on this turn of events and recalled that my grandmother's spoon notes had stated that Abby Hunt's father was "Daniel S. Hunt" and that the heirloom silver spoon I have does indeed contain the engraved initials "DSH" on the handle. But the discovery of the "Charlotte Hunt" clue in the Cumberland census of the Miller family, led to discovery of a Samuel Hunt -- son of Samuel Hunt -- living in North Kingstown, RI with a wife named Susan and seven daughters including girls named Abby, Charlotte, Ruth and Mary among others. It was therefore possible that Daniel S. Hunt was either known by his middle name, which could have been Samuel, or the transcription or indexing misnamed him somehow.

And then I also discovered among old family papers the notes my great grandmother, Sarah [Freeman] Carpenter, made for the "Family of Major Daniel Hunt & Susannah Northup."  Sarah's notes are shown immediately below.

My great grandmother clearly cites as her source for the Hunt family data "Pages 82 & 3 North Kingston Births A.V.R. Vol. 5 & 6."  Unlike the images of pages 82 and 83 from Rhode Island Vital Extracts  1636 - 1899 shown in Part II, however, Sarah's notes provide additional information that includes the middle names and marriages of the daughters of Daniel and Susannah Hunt. Her notes show that Charlotte's middle name was "Dupont" -- thus "Charlotte D. Hunt" -- and that Charlotte died "unmarried." Moreover, Ruth Ann Hunt is shown as having married Aurin Miller and Mary Sweet Hunt is shown as having married a man with the surname "Barney." Mary S. Hunt is indicated to have died in 1879.

Another recent discovery among family papers is what appears to be a family tree also done by my great grandmother. Sarah [Freeman] Carpenter, the wife of Samuel Eber Carpenter. It is a descent chart for  Ruth Ann Miller, daughter of Eber and Abby [Hunt] Miller.  Ruth Ann Miller was the mother of Samuel Eber Carpenter. The first half of the tree is shown below and it can be seen that the chart states that both Major Daniel Hunt and his wife, Susannah Northup are buried in Brayton Cemetery in Apponaug, RI.

From Find-A-Grave Memorial #78739671 -- photo by Rick O. (#46911607) taken at Brayton Cemetery. 
From Find-A-Grave Memorial #78739518 -- photo by Rick O. (#46911607) taken at Brayton Cemetery. 

As it turns out, Mary Sweet Hunt and her husband William C. Barney are also buried in Brayton Cemetery and Charlotte D. Hunt is buried there with them and their children.

From Find-A-Grave Memorial #13499992 -- photo by Rick O. (#46911607) taken at Brayton Cemetery. 
Summarizing all the research, family notes, and artifact evidence presented thus far, I now arrive at the following conclusions with respect to my 3X great grandmother Abby Hunt and her family . . .

1.  Abby Hunt was the daughter of Maj. Daniel S. (possibly for Samuel) Hunt and his wife Susannah or Susan Northup.
2.  Daniel Hunt and his wife Susannah/Susan Northup lived in North Kingstown, RI where their seven daughters were born: Susan; Sally Northup; Charlotte Dupont; Ruth Ann; Lucy Tripp; Mary Sweet; and Abby. So far as is currently known, Daniel and Susannah, had no sons -- so the Charlotte Hunt living in the Miller family household in Cumberland, RI was not a married woman and sister-in-law of Abby [Hunt] Miller..
3.  Charlotte D. Hunt never married and lived with at least two of her sisters and their families.  She lived with her sister Abby and her husband Eber Miller in Cumberland, RI during the period 1854 - 1870, but she also lived for a period of time with her sister Mary and her husband William C. Barney in Warwick, RI ending sometime around July 13, 1860.  Charlotte was in Warwick for the federal census enumeration day there on July 5, 1860, but she was living in the Miller household later that same month when the federal census enumeration day took place there on July 13, 1860. Charlotte lived in Cumberland with her sister Abby before 1860 as shown by her 1854 pew receipt for Christ Church in Lonsdale, the Miller family's church. Charlotte probably lived with the Miller's in Cumberland from July 13, 1860 until sometime after July 21, 1870 when the 1870 census showed she was still in the Miller household in Cumberland.
4.  Charlotte died unmarried in 1875 and was buried in the family plot of her sister Mary S. Barney and Mary's husband William C. Barney, Sr. The 1854 pew receipt made out to "Mrs. Charlotte Hunt" was a clerical error and should have read simply Charlotte Hunt or Miss Charlotte Hunt.

While I am now 95% sure I have found the parents and siblings of my 3X great grandmother Abby [Hunt] Miller, questions are now raised about who the parents of Maj. Daniel S. Hunt and Susannah/Susan Northup are.  As Part IV of this analysis will demonstrate, I have some clues to follow and I have a big reveal regarding other documents recently found among family genealogical materials.
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Gravestone photos via Find-A-Grave as stated.  All such photos were contributed by Rick O. whose service to the genealogy community is much appreciated.

Images of the pew receipt, Hunt Family notes, and Ruth A. Miller ancestry chart are from original documents in the collection of the author.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Friday, September 25, 2015

Brown University Class Day 1911 program -- Friday Fotos (September 25, 2015)

The scanned images shown above are of the program for the Brown University Class Day 1911.  It was recently discovered among some family records and artifacts. The original program is a small (5 in. x 6 in.), leather-bound brochure that is held together by a laced and tied leather thong. This made scanning a delicate and difficult process in order to avoid damaging the original family artifact. The page images shown below are not as clear or as straight as I would have liked, but further handling of the document or attempting to unlace the brochure to scan each page individually was not an option.

 The last two pages of the brochure contain a roll of the class members of the Brown University Class of 1911. Among the listed members is my maternal grandfather, Everett Shearman Carpenter, and Ira Winsor Knight, the future husband of my grandfather's sister, Ruth Ann Carpenter.

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Images scanned from the original artifact in the possession of the author.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Saturday Serendipity (September 12, 2015)

The following are a few recommendations for inclusion on your reading list this weekend. 

1. The book "Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace" by Nikil Saval has been billed as "an entertaining look at the history of the modern worker, that the modern worker can actually learn from" (Rosecrans Baldwin in reviewing the book), but it also has instructive information for genealogists and family historians seeking to understand more about the jobs and worklife of ancestors and relatives in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Listen to a rebroadcast about Cubed on NPR's Kojo Nnamdi Show here and see an excerpt from the book.

2.  Can you name the "Seven Dastardly Deeds of Genealogy?" Author Joy Neighbours has listed them concisely and with pithy descriptions. Read the list here.    

3.   UpFront With NGS posted a very useful piece about the availability of U.S. Marine Corps "casualty cards." The cards are in a database for World War II, War Dogs, Interwar Period 1946-50, Korea, Interwar Period 1955-1965, and Vietnam.  Casualty cards were issued when a Marine was wounded, missing, killed or deemed a prisoner of war. Read more and get links here.

4.  And in case you have not heard or seen on the news, there has been an exciting discovery at Jamestown, Virginia. Read about the four bodies that were unearthed and the "mystery in a small box" here.    

5.  After a summer hiatus, Barbara Poole of Life From The Roots blog is back with her "photo essay" posts for Labor Day and remembrances of Massachusetts victims of 9-11.            

6.  James Tanner of Genealogy's Star blog posted just this morning a thoughtful and helpful pro and con rumination on the advisability of keeping your own genealogy database on your personal computer and not just one on-line. Read about his views on the pros and cons here.    

7.  Always a thoughtful and informative writer, Diane MacLean Boumenot of One Rhode Island Family blog has added to her oeuvre with a useful piece titled "Searching Smarter."  You can read Diane's piece here.
8. And finally, what is a "cabinet?" If you are from Rhode Island, it is something completely different than a cupboard with drawers or shelves for displaying or storing things. New Englanders and non-New Englanders alike will enjoy the summary of New England slang terms and other New England news posted on Peter Muise's blog New England Folklore this week.  Find out what a cabinet is in Rhode Island and more by going here.   
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Friday Fotos (September 11, 2015) -- Everett Shearman Carpenter and Two Tew Grandchildren

Everett Shearman Carpenter was born on Washington's birthday (February 22nd) in 1891. He died at age 70 on January 6, 1962.

The above photograph is the only photo that I have ever seen of my maternal grandfather, Everett Carpenter, with just my sister and me.  It was discovered just a day ago amongst a box of old family photographs. The photo is not specifically dated, but is believed to have been taken around 1957 in Cumberland, Rhode Island at the home of my maternal grandparents, Everett and Ruth Carpenter.  I think that the photo is taken of the the three of us sitting on the back tailgate of my parents' Studebaker Scotsman wagon.

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Image scanned from the original snapshot in the collection of the author.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Saturday Serendipity (August 29, 2015)

The following are a few recommendations for inclusion on your reading list this weekend. 

1.  Yesterday's Friday Fotos featured two 1841 rental receipts to one of my ancestors for his rental of a pew in the Episcopal Christ Church in Lonsdale, Rhode Island. This week an interesting article in the New York Times explains why the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island is establishing a museum focused on the trans-Atlantic slave trade as part of the new center for racial reconciliation and healing to be housed at the Cathedral of St. John in Providence. More than half the slaving voyages from the U.S. left from the Rhode Island ports of Newport, Bristol, and Providence and many of the shipbuilders, financiers, and captains of those slaving voyages were Episcopalians. As a result, Rhode Island has been referred to a "the Deep North." Read more about this action by the Diocese of Rhode Island and the preeminence of Rhode Island in the slave trade here.    

2.  We all know how Find-A-Grave and similar sites can be very useful for obtaining genealogical information. And most of us are probably aware of, or have seen for ourselves, how many cemeteries are falling into deplorable condition. Read here about a man in Pennsylvania who took it upon himself to buy a cemetery where his ancestors and relatives are buried and the care he gives to keeping their final resting place in order. 

3.  Why is transcribing documents relating to your genealogy important and what can it do for your research? Read this post by Janine Adams of Organize Your Family blog to find out. 
4.  UpFront With NGS blog posted about a free database made available by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The database is of Historic Landmarks. Have a look here and you can get a link to the website while learning how Diane Richard found and used the database.             

5.  UpFront With NGS also posted a very interesting piece about genetic inheritance from ancestors. As we all know, if we look at a graphic of our family tree, it appears that we would get 50% of our genetic make-up from each of our two parents, 25% from each of our four grandparents, 12.5% from each of our eight great grandparents, etc. But, as the post points out, this is a simple math approach and genetics does not follow simple mathematics. Have a look at the post here and get a link to a Slate article titled, "Which Grandparent Are You Most Related To?" for more in-depth information on this topic.          

6.  As genealogy researchers, we are always on the lookout for new, untapped sources of information that could prove useful for evidence or even mere clues about influences on our ancestors and thus our genealogy. One such source could be an understanding of the business/economic booms and busts during certain periods of our nation's history. The Vault posted an interesting piece about an early 1940s infographic produced by the Tension Envelope Corporation for its customers. A large chart depicting business booms and depressions from 1775 - 1943 was folded into a pamphlet that, when opened, could be displayed on a wall. Learn more about the chart here and see an image that can be clicked on to access a large zoomable version.      

7.  Just this morning, James Tanner of Genealogy's Star blog posted a very informative and useful piece about the available state-by-star resources for genealogy research by location. See Mr. Tanner's helpfully illustrated post here.     

8.  And finally, in a related post about location-based data for genealogy research, Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings blog posted this week about finding genealogy and family history records that are not digitized. The post is Randy's useful and informative answer to a question raised at a recent meeting of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society, "When I have exhausted available online data, how can I find out what paper or microfiche information is kept in a particular area?"  Read Randy's illustrated post here
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Fotos (August 28, 2015) -- Eber Miller's 1841 Pew Rental Receipts

Eber Miller is my 3X great grandfather. He was born in 1805 and married Abby Hunt who was two years younger than he. They lived in Cumberland, RI at 551 High Street and belonged to Christ Church (Episcopal) in Lonsdale, Rhode Island.

Shown above are two paid rental receipts to Eber Miller for the quarterly rental of Pew No. 80 for the periods beginning March 12, 1841 and June 12, 1841 respectively.  The cost for the rental of the pew was $1.43 per quarter or $5.72 per year.

For more about Christ Church in Lonsdale, see the post of February 20, 2014 here.
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Scans from the original receipts in the collection of the author.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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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 importantly, 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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