rinhoff

Aug 132013
 
Chateau-St-Jean

(Is a Goff family ghost still there?)

On a trip to California in June, we visited the Chateau St. Jean Vineyards in quiet, scenic Kenwood, located in the Sonoma valley.  While we are familiar with some of their wines, we wanted to see Chateau St. Jean because of its history.   The winery is built around the summer home of Ernest Abner Goff, who was a second cousin of my grandmother.   I had also heard a story from a distant cousin about Ernest Goff’s daughter, Camilla, who sadly died as a teenager.   Some legends say that her spirit still visits the old family home.

Chateau St Jean-2

Summer Home of Ernest Abner Goff (1872-1957) in Kenwood, Sonoma, California. Now part of the special tasting rooms at the Chateau St Jean winery.
(Click on image for larger view)

Ernest Abner Goff was born 24 March 1872 in Michigan, son of Gilbert B Goff and Emily Marsh.  Ernest’s paternal grandfather was Rev. Abner Goff (1782-1857).   While my branch of the family stayed in Ohio and remained poor farmers for another couple of generations,  Gilbert B Goff moved to the wilderness of Michigan and became successful in lumber.   Ernest followed in this tradition, also developing interests in mining and more lumber in the Pacific northwest.   He bought this property in Kenwood and built the home which his family occupied in 1920.   It remained in the family until the 1970’s.  Camilla died on 27 Sep 1928 at the age of 18 at the family home in Michigan.

While we visited the winery we asked a couple of the staff about the rumors that the ghost of Camilla Goff was still present in the home.   Several acknowledged the stories.  One, whose office is now located in what was Camilla’s bedroom, told me that she will come back to her office to find her chair moved.  She also described how a wine glass mysteriously moved during a tasting.  Camilla, it seems, has a reputation as a trickster.

Chateau St Jean

Ernest Abner Goff and family 1919
(click on picture for larger view)

 

Obituary for Ernest Abner Goff – see page 6 – in the “North Pacific Union Gleaner” – a publication of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, 27 Jan 1958

 

 

Aug 052013
 
Nantucket2

 

We revisited Nantucket in 2009 to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary.    While there we also had the opportunity to enjoy not only the beauty of the island, but to also explore some of its rich history.

Nantucket Harbor- 2009

Nantucket Harbor- 2009

Ruth’s grandmother Susan Hervey Wales (1889-1989) great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Easton (1779-1838) was the last person in her line born in Nantucket.

Among Mary Easton’s Nantucket roots:

  • 3 of the original purchasers of Nantucket ((Tristram Coffin, Christopher Hussey and Thomas Macy) along with other early settlers, Nathaniel Starbuck and John Gardner.    
  • Her family lived in the oldest house on Nantucket (the Jethro Coffin House)
  • Several of her ancestors had active roles in Nantucket’s Whaling activities.
  • Many were part of the active Quaker community, including Mary Coffin Starbuck.
Jul 192013
 
Goff Abner Reprobate 1

In the mail today I received  the will of Abner Goff  (1782-1857).  For more than three decades Abner Goff was  a Methodist Circuit Rider, serving churches in central and north central Ohio.

For me three things about the experience of discovering this will are worth noting.  First, I discovered its existence by examining the Ohio Probate Records (1789-1996), a group of 7 million un-indexed probate records added to the FamilySearch.org website in April.   Heretofore I have shied away from un-indexed records.  How could I find needle in such a large haystack?  However, in exploring this record set I discovered that they are organized by county.   And within each county there is a listing of records that have been digitized.   One set of images was titled “Administration and Executor Index – 1875-1915; worth a look for some of my collateral lines’ research, but not for Abner, since he died in 1857.  I also knew that a fire at the Licking County Courthouse on 2 April 1875 had destroyed most of the records.

Examining the index I discovered references to several Goff’s, including one for an Abner as well as one for Abner W (his grandson.)   Using the volume and page number  I went to the appropriate set of images,  and in a few minutes found a reference to a court hearing in 1891 at which__ Vance brought a certified copy of Abner Goff’s will, which had been probated on  3 July 1857, and asked the court to place the will into the court record, which the Judge ordered.  Thus my second surprise:  finding an official copy of a record which had been destroyed by a courthouse fire.

I could not find a digitized copy of the volume of wills in which Abner’s will was recorded.   Thanks to the Licking County Genealogical Society I was able to order the copy for $5.00.

The third surprise is what I found (and didn’t find) in the will.   The will mentions Abner’s wife, Patty, and one daughter, Sarah.   This is the first proof that I found that Sarah was a daughter.  Abner and Patty moved to Licking County in 1813, purchasing land with his father, Daniel.   Abner and Patty’s four children, Mira, Shadrack, Delano and Varnum, all born in Clarendon, VT, came with them.   There is no mention in the will of these four children, just Sarah.   The four older children had married at least 25 years previously.  Sarah, born in 1823 (according to the 1850 census) was still at home.

For more research:

  • Abner Goff owned a farm at the time of his will, written in 1852, five years before his death.  A further search of real estate records may shed some light on more of Patty and Sarah’s stories.
  • Who was Mr. Vance?   Why did he bring the will to court when he did?   What was going on in 1891?
  • Did Sarah ever marry?

Since this discovery I have found at least a dozen other important documents using un-indexed records on FamilySearch.org.   Since they are releasing millions of new images monthly, I am looking forward to many more discoveries in the months ahead!

Mar 022013
 
Gilbert Goff

For the last several years part of my research has focused on Licking County, Ohio, about 30 miles east of Columbus.  There my 3rd Great Grandfather, Abner Goff and his father, Daniel purchased 200 acres for $1,000 in 1813 after moving from Clarendon, Rutland, Vermont.  In a search for “Abner Goff” in Google Books I discovered several references to an Ohio Appeals Court Case which addressed a dispute over land where an individual died intestate.

The subject Abner Goff (grandson of my Abner and cousin to my great grandfather) died in 1896 without a will and with no children.  According to Ohio law his 162 acres passed to his widow, Martha. Martha died with a will, but the will did not address the disposition of the land, only granting a life estate to Martha’s brother, Ensley Finney Hass.    The dispute arose at death of Mr. Haas as to the proper distribution of the property.  The Goff family claimed that under Ohio law they were entitled to one half of the land.  Mr. Hass’s heirs disputed this.  Hence this court case.

What makes this case interesting to me is not the details of the argument from a court case more than a century ago, but what I found when I visited the Recorder’s Office in Licking County a few years ago.  As a young person Abner’s brother, Gilbert B. Goff, moved from Licking County, Ohio to Michigan and had great success in lumber and other businesses.   In 1911 as this dispute was headed to court, Gilbert Goff executed a quit claim relinquishing his claims to this property and giving it to the heirs of his brother, Zara Goff and their sister, Mary Goff Lampson.   What’s interesting is that he lists fourteen of his known nieces (with their married names) and nephews as we see in a transcription of the document below. Continue reading »

Sep 232011
 
Canoes76

During our recent trip to Moosehead Lake, Maine, we visited the Moosehead Historical Society in Greenville Junction.    This was just a short walk from where Ruth’s mother grew up.   Following an excellent guided tour we stopped in the office to see what they might have about the Templeton family.   Several files!    One treasure was this clipping from the Moosehead Gazette, July  4, 1952 about Ruth’s grandfather, Fred Templeton.  The headline reads: “Fred Templeton Still Making Canoes at Age of 76 Years.”

In the story Fred recounts experiences from his years (1898 – 1945) as a guide at Kineo (see Memories from Kineo).   He remembers seeing as many as 84 moose in a day.  The last caribou he saw was in 1899.   He had other stories to tell, but he had to get back to work to finish the canoe.    Fred died on 9 Oct 1952, just four months after this interview.  Templeton canoes are still known in this part of Maine.

I am so happy that we found this article.  Thanks to organizations such as the Moosehead Historical Society for the work they do to preserve these memories.

Sep 222011
 

We just returned from a wonderful trip to Maine.  Last Thursday I went to the Maine State Archives and State Library looking for information about the Templeton Family, especially Fred and Hermon Templeton’s mother, Emily Sears.   The Templeton family lost contact with Emily after the death of her husband, John Frank Templeton in 1879.  What happened during her next 53 years?

I was very happy when I found her record of death in 1932.   I was even more delighted in finding an obituary in the Bangor Daily News.

Emily (Emma) Sears

However, like many puzzles: pieces found  and now new questions to ask.  I have laid out the story and questions in much greater detail on  a new page focused on her story.   This is the first time I knew that she spent some of her last few years in Bangor, Maine.   Her obituary says that she was the widow of Frank Jenkins.   That’s also new information.    That’s what makes these quests so interesting!

We also had a chance to visit her grave in very rural Willimantic in Piscataquis County, Maine and see this very tiny community where Ruth’s grandfather was born.

Sep 162011
 

Tomorrow we leave Moosehead Lake (Greenville, ME) to begin our journey home.   On Tuesday we traveled with Ruth’s mother to Kineo, where she told us about her experiences as a child living on the island each summer while her father worked as a guide (see Memories from Kineo).   On Wednesday we visited the Moosehead Historical Society in Greenville.  It has to be one of the best small town museums in America.  It was also great to find some newpaper clippings about the Templeton family.

On Thursday I went to Augusta to visit the Maine State Archives and State Library, making some progress, along with developing some new questions about what happened to Emily Sears Templeton after her husband, John Frank Templeton, died.   I will update this information when I get back home.

Today I visited cemeteries in Willimantic and Milo, both here in Piscataquis County.   Found the grave markers I was looking for. It was a great, memorable week with lots of pictures to process and information to organize and ponder.  It will be good, too, to get back to a warmer place.

Sep 132011
 

David Brooks wrote an interesting column in today’s New York Times about the rise of moral individualism, where the family, religion and culture are being replaced by the “free-floating individual as the essential moral unit.”   I read this the same day as my wife and I spent a very special time with her mother, going back to her summer island home in Maine. (See Memories from Kineo).

I believe that genealogy is a great tool to help us place our lives in focus.  It steers us away from thinking it’s all about us.  I always feel profound respect for the courageous sacrifices that our ancestors made that set the table so bountifully for our journeys today.  No, they were not perfect.  But then, neither are we.   Now that I am a grandparent,  I also think about the choices I make and those we collectively embrace that will impact generations to follow.

Here’s to Genealogy  – helping us to keep our focus and our balance!

Sep 132011
 
Kineo

 

Mt Kineo on Mooshead Lake, Maine

Today the weather was perfect as we took Ruth’s mother, Ruth Templeton Rollason, back to Kineo, an  island on Moosehead Lake in Maine where she lived all of her childhood summers.  The shuttle captain loaned us his golf cart so that we could see the island.  We had the best guide – Ruth’s mom – who reminisced about her 17 summers here.

Kineo was a destination resort from the 1850′s until the 1930′s.  In 1903 young Angie Stiles and her sister Martha came from Amherst, Nova Scotia to work at the Kineo Resort.   Fred Templeton was a guide for the guests who wanted to hunt and fish.  He also looked after the boats for families who summered here.

A year later Fred and Angie married in Greenville where they made their winter home.  When school was out, Fred and Angie took their family to Kineo for the summer.

Fred leased land on a small island where he built a modest summer cabin for his family.

Island in Kineo Cove where the Templeton family lived during the summer

The resort is long gone.  Today there is a public golf course, a state park, and many beautiful summer homes.

Sep 102011
 

I’ve only been on this blogging journey for a week.  During this past week I have tried to incorporate my basic family information (my wife’s and my grandparents).  I’ve also been looking at so many great family history blogs to get ideas for both content and the technology behind them.   At the same time I am looking forward to a visit to a state archives in the next few days to pursue one of my brick walls.   Hopefully I’ll have some great news to share.

Within the next two weeks I plan to decide how I will incorporate my family history files into this site.  To go this direction will include selecting a hosting site as well as an interface.  I’m leaning more and more towards TNG.  One (of many) examples is Tonia’s Roots,  a site that incorporates TNG into a WordPress site.