Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ira Davis land grant and wounding in 1813

Ira Davis and Polly Hayden of Stanbridge East I found a land grant file for Ira Davis Lower Canada Land petitions at the archives [ ]reading through it he describes why he deserves the grant because of his service in the 4th Battalion of township militia during the October raid of 1813 and that he was wounded during the raid.

The article ‘A Distant Drum: The War of 1812 in Missisquoi County’ ( that 8 men were wounded and not taken hostage when the other were marched to Vermont. Another article I read on the raid mentioned a book “ Loyalties in Conflict : A Canadian borderland in war and rebellion 1812-1840’ by J.I. Little ( I found used copy online for $10) in it I found a mention of an Amos Davis of Stanbridge ( always rumored to be father of my Ira ) saying that his son was wounded in the raid !

So new clues and a little closer to solving some mysteries !

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Daniel Webster Smith house Williamsport PA

This is our family photo that has been handed down of the Daniel Webster Smith home in Williamsport, PA.  

We've always been told that this my DW new home and new carriage and that my great- grandfather Isaac Smith on the pony and the 2nd Mrs DW Smith on porch. We now believe instead it might be Charles on the pony. Thanks to cousin Tom,  my fellow Smith family researcher we've discovered lots of great information about the family and the  houses and businesses of this once important lumber mill family of Williamsport. The home no longer exists. 236 East Third corner of Basin

The house was built in approx 1874 on the corner of East Third and Basin.
Tom wrote ....

Daniel Webster's house was valued at $30,000 in the 1870 census (about $600,000 today), but that sounds low to me.  I have a construction background, and I know we couldn't build that for $600,00 today.  Of course, labor costs relative to the final value were not what they are today, so $30,000 is probably ok.  It's interesting that Daniel's house stood in a row of homes where the values were $3,000, (unknown), $10,000, $30,000 (Daniel's), $30,000, and then back down to $6,000.  My guess is those lower valued homes were probably purchased and replaced with much costlier mansions.

The photo may have been around 1874, but some sources question when the house was built.  I found both 1870 and 1889 as construction years, but I believe the $30,000 value of Daniel's residence in the 1870 census eliminates the 1889 date, and - besides - he died in 1888.  So, 1874 for your photo date would be logical.  However, Daniel's wife at that time would have been Hilinda (Riant), not Harriet.  Also, if the photo was in 1874, the boy on the pony could have been 14-year-old Charles.  It certainly wasn't 24-year-old Isaac Newton.

Here is deed for purchase of land on April 1st 1868

When I visited Williamsport many years ago I brought a bad xerox of the photo and some one suggested it may may be the LL Stern house -many , many years later we find that to be true.

 Last year,  Tom got in touch and since then we have done considerable research on the Smith family together and this is his excellent analysis of the address of the house:

Williamsport Smith house address issues

Now, regarding the confusion over what street DWS's residence was on and what the house number was, I've received the following from Scott Sagar, Curator of Collections, Lycoming County Historical Society.
   The question of which street is easy to answer: Meckley's book is incorrect.  The building in question was definitely on East Third Street, at the (southwest) corner of Basin Street.  This was probably a simple typo; Third and Fourth Streets are often accidentally substituted for each other.
  The house number issue is a little more complicated, but basically both 236 and 228 are correct.  In our city directories, prior to 1888 they give L. L. Stearns' residence as East Third, corner of Basin, similar to what your research said.  Starting in the 1888 directory, the residence is numbered 236.  It remains thus until 1931 (by which time it is the VFW post), and then in the 1932 directory it switches to 228 (still as the VFW post).  We unfortunately do not have a 1933 directory, but in the 1934 and 1935 directories it is still 228, but is listed as "Vacant".  In the 1936 directory, the property has been split into 234 (a diner/restaurant) and 236 (a filling station).  I have no explanation for why the address would change from 236 to 228 (and then back to 234/236), but it was not unusual for numbers to shift in that way.  We also have a few city atlases and insurance maps that confirm the 236 address prior to 1932, and the 234/236 address after 1936, but have no maps for the brief period when it was 228.
  As for your final question, when the building was demolished, I'm afraid I can't pinpoint it exactly.  As mentioned above, the VFW post is listed until 1932, then in 1934 and 1935 it is vacant, and in 1936 it is the diner and filling station.  The Grit article you supplied did mention that the building stood vacant after the VFW moved, so it could be that it was still standing in 1935, right before the filling station went in.  Also, city directories are often a little slow to pick up on changes, so that makes it difficult to know exactly when such a change occurred.  It appears that the answer is somewhere between 1932 and 1936.

Here is the home when it was known as the L.L. Stearns home 


Here is the Stearns family living in the home in the 1880 census
 Here is 1891 Sanborn map of the residence

Here is the home in the 1912 Sanborn Insurance maps

Here is the home when it served as the VFW post in the 1930s

and when it was announced it was to be demolished