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The Phillips Family of Maryland

The Phillips Family of Maryland

I don’t want to jump too far down the rabbit hole as it pertains to the family of Ann Phillips (wife of John Corbo of Queen Anne’s County, Maryland).  When and if we firmly establish that she is our ancestor – I’ll dig a little deeper.  Suffice it to say that the Phillips surname is a fairly common one – and with just a perfunctory review of the records, it seems that their web is tangled just as tightly as ours is!

After looking at the websites of several credible Phillips researchers it seems that the Phillips family is traced back to the late 1590s where the family was present in Devonshire, England.  Many of the early settlers of Colonial Maryland came from the West Midlands of England.  The Maryland Phillips family evidently begins with a man named John Phillips who is said to have come to Kent Island prior to its becoming a part of Maryland.  For now, we will concern ourselves only with the immediate family of Ann Phillips.

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What we know about Ann comes primarily from the parish registers of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Church Hill, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland.  St. Luke’s, known as “the church on the hill,” is one of the oldest churches in Maryland – built in 1732 at a cost of 140,000 pounds of tobacco.  The bricks used to construct the church were shipped over from England to replace the wooden church that had been built there in 1728.  According to the Maryland Historical Society, all records are preserved intact, including births, baptisms, marriages, burials, vestry meetings and special occasions.

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From these parish records we know that Ann Phillips was born to Samuel and Ann Phillips on 25 July 1738 and was baptized at St. Luke’s on 14 Sept 1740.  She married John Curbow there on 27 Aug 1755 at the age of 17.  (As previously mentioned – there were no other Curbow family members located in the register.)

While reviewing the register, line-by-line, I found two additional birth entries for Samuel and Ann Phillips:  (1) David Phillips born 27 June 1741 and baptized 25 Sept 1741 (married Sarah Swift at St. Luke’s on 1 May 1759); and (2) James Phillips born 18 July 1752.  Outside of these three birth records, I have been unable to unearth any further clues regarding Samuel and Ann Phillips of Queen Anne’s County.  There are five additional Phillips’ marriage records in the St. Luke’s parish register (ranging from the 1740s to the 1750s); however, their connection to Samuel and Ann are unknown at this time.  It could be that these are their older children (perhaps not baptized at St. Luke’s); Samuel’s children from a previous marriage; Samuel’s nephews; or perhaps they are not related at all.

(Thomas Phillips married Mary Lawrence 17 Aug 1756; James Phillips married Sarah Lambdin 26 Dec 1743; Robard Phillips married Myratilla Serton 30 Oct 1744; Robard Phillips married Ann Lambden 31 Dec 1746; and Robert Phillips married Hannah Cross 1 Mar 1750).

As I began to expand my search for Samuel and Ann Phillips, the records led me to Cecil County, Maryland.  Cecil County lies to the north of Queen Anne’s County and borders Pennsylvania to the north and Delaware to the east.  It was there that I found a marriage record for Samuel Phillips and Elizabeth Brooks – married on 19 Mar 1724.  Many of the public trees on ancestry.com have Samuel’s wife listed as Elizabeth Ann Brooks.  Of course, none of these trees are sourced in any way, and so it is uncertain whether this is the same Ann who is listed in the St. Luke’s parish register – or whether this is a prior marriage for Samuel.

It is entirely possible that Samuel and Ann Phillips began their married life in Cecil County – had children there – and then relocated to Queen Anne’s County – and had their last three children there.  In fact, I did locate a birth record in Cecil County pertaining to Samuel and Ann Phillips – a son named Isaac Phillips born 7 Jan 1738.  The birth is registered in the parish records of St. Mary Anne’s Parish; his death is recorded there on 7 Aug 1739.  This is somewhat in conflict with what we know about Ann Phillips because Isaac’s date of birth conflicts with hers (having been born 25 July 1738).  It could be that one of the dates is incorrect – or it could be that this is not a family connection at all.

Additionally, the parish records of St. Mary Ann Parish (Protestant Episcopal Church) in Cecil County indicate that Samuel Phillips and wife Elizabeth Brooks had children as follows:  Elizabeth on 5 Apr 1725; Samuel on 19 Mar 1727; Catherine on 28 Apr 1734; Nathan on 21 Feb 1732; and Mary on 29 May 1737 – all prior to the birth of our Ann Phillips in 1738.  At this point in time, I am inclined to think that Elizabeth Brooks and Ann Unknown – are two separate women.

In a book entitled, Inhabitants of Cecil County 1649-1774 written by Henry C. Peden, I noted several land records (including 200 acres of St. John’s Manor) belonging to a Nathan Phillips in 1723.  I next located a Will that was probated 4 May 1748 in Elk River, Cecil County, Maryland by the family of Nathan Phillips.  Samuel Phillips is named in this Will as being the oldest son of Nathan Phillips – which would indicate that Nathan Phillips is Ann’s grandfather.  I located two marriage records for Nathan Phillips (and it is assumed that Nathan was married three times) with his first wife (and Samuel’s mother) being unidentified.  His second marriage took place in 1706 in Cecil County to Elizabeth Cousins; and his third marriage took place 18 Apr 1733 in Cecil County to Jane Simcoe.  In addition to Samuel, it is believed that Nathan Phillips had the following children:  a daughter named Elizabeth born 1720 who married James Boulden; a daughter named Sarah born 1725/1726 who married Johanes Arreams/Arrants; a son named Nathaniel; and a son named Thomas.  According to Nathan’s Will, he left his plantation in Elk River, Maryland to his third wife Jane.  His son Samuel is named in the Will as is John Foster (?) and a grandchild, John Phillips.  After Jane’s death the estate was to be divided between James Boulden and Johaness Arreams (his sons-in-law).  One of the witnesses was Manado Phillips, believed to be Nathan’s brother.

This family tree could be taken back one more generation to Samuel Phillips, the father of Nathan, grandfather of Samuel and great-grandfather of Ann – but I promised I would not jump down the rabbit hole!!  At this point, the genealogy becomes very shaky and most of the dates listed online simply don’t add up.  I am intrigued however to read that some of the descendants of Samuel and Nathan Phillips ended up in Anson County, North Carolina where we next catch up to John Corbo and Ann Phillips.

Stay tuned to our next installment – John Corbo of Anson County, North Carolina.

John Corbeau: Philadelphia – to Oley near Reading, PA – to Queen Anne’s County, Maryland

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2016 in Curbow

 

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John Curbow – Queen Anne’s County, Maryland – Part 3

As a quick recap, a Jean Corbeau arrived in Philadelphia from Friedrichstal, Germany with his family in October of 1737. Now known as John Corbo, he quickly purchased land and settled in the Oley Valley of Pennsylvania.  There is no record that would indicate the age of this Jean Corbeau/John Corbo; however, we know that in order to participate in the land transaction he had to have been at least 21 years of age.  Assuming he was only 21 – his birth year would have been about 1717.  It is possible that since he came with “a family,” that he was older than 21 at the time of the land transaction.

We now fast forward eight years and shift our focus southward to Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. Germans (both from Germany and the Pennsylvania Dutch “Deutsch”) began to settle along the Chesapeake Bay as early as 1723 in the area that would become the City of Baltimore.

It is across the Bay in Queen Anne’s County that we find a marriage record for a John Curbow (indexed incorrectly in various indexes as Carbos or Carboo) (Note – this is the first time we see the surname spelled Curbow). He married Ann Phillips on 27 Aug 1755 at St. Luke’s Protestant Episcopal Parish Church (located in Church Hill, Maryland). Ann Phillips was also christened in this same church on 14 Sept 1740 (she was born 25 July 1738).  If this is the same Ann Phillips – then she would have been about 17 years old at the time of her marriage.  Her parents were Samuel and Ann Phillips.

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Entry from the Parish Register of St. Luke’s Parish

Thankfully, the parish records of St. Luke’s are online as a special collection with the Maryland State Archives. I have reviewed all 58 pages of births, marriages and deaths from 1722 to 1850 – it only cost me some time, my vision and a cramp in my neck to discover several other related Phillips’ family members – but no other Corbo or Curbow families.  This indicates to me that this was not John’s home church – that he was probably not born in the area – and that he probably didn’t live in the area.  Additionally, there were no christening records located for any children born to John and Ann (Phillips) Curbow – which further indicates to me that they left the area shortly after their marriage.

There are many unanswered questions about this John Curbow – we don’t know when he came to Maryland and when he left. He isn’t in any obvious records in Maryland – still much to learn – and I will update this post if and when records are discovered.

QUESTION: Is this Maryland John Curbow the same person as the Pennsylvania John Corbeau/Corbo? Or is this his son? Or are they related at all?

Stay tuned for the next installment: The Phillips Family of Queen Anne County, Maryland.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2016 in Curbow

 

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John Corbo of Pennsylvania – Land Records – Part 2

A mere six-months after John Corbeau’s arrival in America, a John Corbo received a land warrant in Oley, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania (on April 25, 1738).  According to the survey connected to this land warrant – the property was located in Alsace Township (situated in the Oley Valley) which was positioned in Philadelphia County (now Berks County), Pennsylvania.  The Oley Valley was settled in the early 1700s by Germans; French Huguenots; and Swiss a/k/a the Pennsylvania Dutch (“Deutsch”).  In fact, it appears that many of the passengers from the Billender Townshend ended up in the Oley Valley as well.  The village of Oley has a strong historical past and heritage.  In March of 1993, the entire Township was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  According to town history, Alsace Township was said to have been named for the region that the original settlers came from – Alsace, Germany (Alsatian; Elsass; Elsaß – which is now located in eastern France on the border of Germany and Switzerland on the west bank of the Upper Rhine River (present day Alsace, Champagne Ardenne-Lorraine, France).  This is very near Friedrichstal – the German village where Jean Corbeau immigrated from.  (In order to avoid confusion, it is necessary to understand that many of the eastern regions of France – particularly Alsace-Lorraine – were passed back and forth many times between the feuding French and Germans.)

Getting back to the land transaction involving John Corbo, we know that during this time period a man had to have reached the age of majority – which was 21-years of age. Accordingly, this John Corbo was born at least by 1717 but could have of course been much older.

In researching Colonial Pennsylvania land transactions, I had to familiarize myself with and understand the complicated process that the settlers went through in order to obtain land.  In Pennsylvania the initial distribution of land to settlers was a complex process – which thankfully yielded a wealth of information and historical records for us.  By way of short background, in 1681, William Penn received a charter from King Charles II which declared him the outright owner of the land that is now known as the State of Pennsylvania.  As such, William Penn was given the authority to dispose of the land as he saw fit.  The state land office was established in 1682 by William Penn and original deeds and patents were recorded by this office. The administrators and the Commonwealth provided individuals title to land in Pennsylvania through this five-step process:

Application:  Under William Penn all requests to purchase acreage at a desired location were made verbally (probably at the land office).  Later, under Penn’s heirs, applications were in writing.  In the case of John Corbo, his warrant was issued on 25 April 1738, and accordingly, he has no written application on file because, as mentioned, during this earlier period all applications were being made verbally.

Warrant:  This is a written order, based on the application, to survey the requested tract of land.  John Corbo’s Warrant states that he requested 100 acres of land “situated about two miles from Francis Lanciscees on Oley Hills in Oley Township.”  In his Warrant, John Corbo agreed to pay the sum of fifteen pounds and ten shillings for the land and “yearly Quit-rent” of one half penny Sterling for every acre thereof.warrant1

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Survey:  Once the application was made and the warrant issued, a surveyor physically measured and marked the land and prepared a survey.

Return of Survey:  After the survey was filed with the land office, the settler was required to make payment on the land.  The image below is the Survey attached to John Corbo’s warrant file.  This image will make more sense once the Patent is discussed below.  The land that belonged to John Corbo is in the upper right hand corner labeled with Phillip Reeser’s name.

survey1Patent:  A Patent was a written first title to the property conveying ownership to the individual submitting the application.  Subsequent transactions involving the property were generally conducted on the county level. If and when I locate the pertinent deed, I will update this post should it yield further information on John Corbo.  The Patent associated with John Corbo’s land transaction was “returned” 22 Dec 1790, some 52 years after the date of the application, and was shown to convey land to a Henry Reeser.  My initial question was whether John Corbo owed the land for 52 years.  The chain of title below clears this question up.  Once I begin poring over the land Patent, I began to get a clearer picture of how things actually transpired.  As it turns out, John Corbo only held the land for nine years – selling it on 1 Apr 1747.

…..there is granted by the said commonwealth unto the said Henry Reeser a certain tract of land called “Plainfield,” situated in Alsace Township, Berks County…….

……in pursuance of a warrant granted to John Corbo dated 25th April 1738 who by deed dated 1 Apr 1747 conveyed the same to Lawrence Hart who by deed dated 9th of July 1748 conveyed the same to Tider Brener & Benjamin Lightfoot Sheriff of said county having taken the same in execution to satisfy the debts of the said Brenor by deed dated 6th Feb 1788 conveyed the same to the said Philip Reeser in fee who conveyed the same to the said Henry Reeser….

Oddly enough, given the abundance of historical records maintained by the State of Pennsylvania, John Corbo appears in no other Pennsylvania record. I have reviewed many, many internet resources and have scoured the Pennsylvania collections of several libraries to no avail. Pennsylvania has marriage and probate records dating as early as 1682; church records as early as the 1730s; and naturalization records as early as about 1740.  (Note – tax records for the property mentioned above in Oley Township are not available until 1758 – over eleven years after John sold his property.)  John Corbo appears in none of the available records.  As always, the constant misspelling of the surname makes researching the Curbow family extremely difficult.  While searching for records, I found a John Cambree present in Philadelphia County in 1744; a Eberhard Karboe (with Christina C. Zink) present in Philadelphia county in 1753;  a Solomon Kirby, a Nathaniel Kirby – both known Curbow first names; a John Coble; and a John Carbough of York County, Pennsylvania.  None seem to be our John Corbo or seem to be connected to him.  What happened to John Corbo of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania?  Why is there no record for him after the sale of his land in 1747?  Did he die young?  More likely to me – he followed the German migration pattern and left the area.  Stay tuned for – John Corbo of Maryland.

QUESTION: We have established that the John Corbeau of Freichstals, Germany and the Jean Corbeau that arrived in Philadelphia in 1737 is one and the same person.  Now – is the German/French immigrant John Corbeau and the Pennsylvania land owner John Corbo one and the same person?

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2016 in Curbow

 

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Jean Corbeau of Pennsylvania – Part 1

We begin our journey down the family tree with a man who I believe could be our Curbow immigrating ancestor.  He is, in my opinion, a much stronger candidate than the Jean Carrieŕe mentioned in the 1949 newspaper article I detailed in yesterday’s blog post.  Of course, nothing is definitive and much more research needs to be performed and much more proof must be uncovered before we can tie him into our family line.

According to historical passenger and immigration lists, we know that a Jean Corbo (sometimes indexed in German as Johan Carbo) arrived October 5, 1737 at the Port of Philadelphia on the ship Billender Townshend from Amsterdam after a layover in Cowes, England. (Unfortunately, no women or children were listed on this particular ship’s manifest – only the men are listed). The captain did note however that there were 231 people on board and that they were Palentines.   The captain’s notes on the ship’s manifest read as follows:  Palatines imported in the Ship Billinder Townshend, Thomas Thompson, Master, from Amsterdam, but last from Cowes, as by Clearance thense. Qualified the 5th day of October 1737.” And further:  At the Courthouse of Philadelphia, October 5, 1737. Present: The Honorable James Logan, Esq., President; Ralph Assheton, Thomas Griffitts; Samuel Hasell. The Palatines whose names are underwritten, imported in the Billender Townshend, Thomas Thompson, Master, from Amsterdam, but last from Cowes, did this day take and subscribe the Oaths to the Government.” [Signers of the Oath of Allegiance to England] It appears that Jean Corbo did not sign the Oath of Abjuration. [Abjure – to solemnly renounce (a belief, cause or claim).]

From a publication entitled, History of the Clewell Family (published 1907) we get a glimpse into what Jean Corbeau’s voyage to the new world must have been like.  The Clewell’s ancestor, Louisa Franz Clewell was on board the Billender Townshend along with her two sons Franz and George.  It is stated that:  The Billender Towhshead anchored in the Delaware at Philadelphia on Saturday, October 5, 1737, from Amsterdam, Holland (page 21).  The account continues: According to tradition the voyage was a stormy one. Storm after storm overtook them and during one of these storms Johannes G’Fellern (Louisa’s husband) was drowned (page 24).

From the Captain’s list we know that on that same day all male passengers over the age of 16, including Jean Corbo, were taken to the Courthouse in Philadelphia to take the Oath of Allegiance to the British Crown. (From this record we know that Jean had to have been at least 16 years old to take the oath – so born at least by 1721; however, he was probably older because he was the only male Corbo/Carbo on the ship. In other words, he was not traveling with a father, uncle or older brother.)

Captain’s Ship Manifest – Billender Townshend – 10/5/1737

John Corbo’s Name as it appears on the Ship’s Manifest

There are numerous books which chronicle the early arrivals to the Port of Philadelphia, including, Pennsylvania German Pioneers: A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808, Volume I and Memorials of the Huguenots in America: With Special Reference to Their Emigration to Pennsylvania, both include a listing for Jean Corbo who arrived 1737 and settled in Pennsylvania. While the name Corbo or Carbo is not a proven or accepted name by the American Huguenot Society, it does appear that both the Germans and the Huguenots are claiming Jean Corbo/Johann Carbo in the two referenced books.

A brief historical review of the German Palatines indicates that they were early 18th century emigrants from the Middle Rhine region of the Holy Roman Empire (which is present day southwest Germany).  Toward the end of the 17th century and into the 18th century, this region was repeatedly invaded by the French military which resulted in widespread devastation and famine to this once wealthy region.  As early as 1709, the English began making promises of free land in the American Colonies, and this in turn triggered a mass exodus of these impoverished and desperate people.  In response, the English began a program of resettling these Germans in England, Ireland (County Limerick and County Wexford) and the Colonies (first to New York and later Pennsylvania).  (Again, it is important to note that during this time period all German emigrants were referred to as “Palatines.”)

It is entirely possible that Jean Corbo was what became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsch).  The Pennsylvania Dutch were a cultural group formed by early German-speaking immigrants to Pennsylvania.  The true origin of the Pennsylvania Dutch is often confused – because the people known as the Pennsylvania Dutch are not from Holland but rather are of a mixture of German, Swiss, and French Huguenot origin.  The first wave of these settlers began in the late 17th century and concluded in the late 18th century.  Again, the majority of these immigrants originated in what is today southwestern Germany.  The first major settlement of Pennsylvania Dutch was located in northwest Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.  Many of these Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants then migrated down the Great Wagon Road into North Carolina.  This was particularly true after North Carolina established a “headright system” in the late 1700s where the state gave away one hundred acres to male heads of household who were willing to settle in western parts of the state.   Germans being a frugal people leapt at the opportunity of the free land being offered.  The Germans of western North Carolina generally migrated from Pennsylvania to the Yadkin River Valley.  This very closely follows the believed migration pattern of our Curbow ancestors.

Looking back at the passenger named Jean Corbo who arrived in 1737 on the Billinder Townshend – there are indeed some very interesting and compelling parallels between him and the history of the German Palatines, the Pennsylvania Dutch and their migration patterns.  In looking at the other passengers who arrived on the Billinder Townshend with Jean, it appears that many of them ended up in Philadelphia County (present day Berks County), Pennsylvania and that many of them originated from Friedrichstal, Germany.

In the Spring, 1973 issue of Pennsylvania Folklife, in an article entitled, Pennsylvania Emigrants from Friedrichstal, we learn that Friedrichstal, Germany was founded in 1699 specifically for Huguenot refugees.  In honor of Friedrichstal’s 250th birthday celebration, author Oskar Hornung wrote a town history (Friedrichstal:  Geschichte einer Hugenottengemeinde zur 250 Jahrfeier).  This book contains information on most of the founding families of Friedrichstal, and among them we find a Jean Corbeau.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate the book here in America – most copies are located in Germany.  Thankfully, it is among the collection of the LDS library, and I have ordered the film for review.  Luckily, I can read German, and I am very hopeful that we may glean more information about Jean Corbeau and his family.  I’ll update this post after I have reviewed the film  In the meantime, the referenced article  states that Jean Corbeau was a farmer with a family and that he arrived with them on the Ship Townsend at Philadelphia on October 5, 1737.

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Based on this article we can conclude that Jean Corbeau of Friedrichstal, Germany was a French Huguenot and that he and Jean Corbo of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania are one and the same person.

Can we conclude that Jean Corbeau is our immigrating ancestor?  No – but stay tuned for Part 2 – Jean Corbeau – Pennsylvania Land Records.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2016 in Curbow

 

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Curbow Family in America – Overview – Part 1

Many years ago, when I initially began to delve into the history of my husband’s Curbow family, I was told by immediate family members that three Curbow brothers came to America from Ireland – while still other researchers stated that the Curbow’s were French Huguenots who fled France to escape religious persecution. In addition to this oral history, I ran across a 1949 newspaper article published in the Southwestern Times (a Houston, Texas publication) entitled, Local Couple to Join Six Varieties of Kerbow at Cooper.  The article goes on to detail a Kerbow family reunion which was to include all spellings of the surname – Kerbo; Kerbow; Kirbo; Curbo; Curbow and Kuehrbeaux.  The article claimed that the family (no matter the spelling) is descended from a Joseph Kerbo of Edgefield County, South Carolina, and in particular, is descended from one of the 45 French Huguenot families which settled just south of the Santee River at old James Town, South Carolina in 1680.  To date, I have found no real sources to substantiate any of these family stories.

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Published Southwestern Times Houston on Thursday, August 4, 1949, Vol. 5, No. 46, Ed. 1

 

To be sure, we do have a Joseph Curbow in our line. He was a North Carolina revolutionary war soldier, who did live for a period of time in the Edgefield District of South Carolina but later settled in Gwinnett County, Georgia.  Joseph is believed to be one of our Curbow ancestors – we just don’t have the information yet on how he ties into our family line.  I believe that the French Huguenot ancestor being described in the Southwestern Times news article is Jean Carrieŕe who did in fact settle in Old James Town, South Carolina on the Santee River.  Old James Town was located about forty miles north of Charleston and was settled by French Huguenots who established the first Huguenot Church there (The French Santee St. James).  In Jean Carrieŕe’s naturalization record, he was described as a cooper and a planter.  He was born to Jean and Elizabeth Carrieŕe in Normandy, France.  According to relevant parish records, he did marry and he did have a son named John.  A Jean Carrieŕe (possibly the father of this immigrant) was denizened in England in 1700.  A land warrant was issued in South Carolina on 3 Jan 1701 for the survey of 200 acres for a “John Careau.”  I believe that we can disprove – or at least cast heavy doubt on the theory – that this Jean Carrieŕe is our Curbow ancestor.  The timeline is much earlier than what we know about our Curbow ancestors and this information does not fit our Curbow family migration pattern (Pennsylvania to Maryland to North Carolina to South Carolina to Georgia and then into Texas).

The Curbow surname does appear to be of French origin. As used in America, it may be an Anglicized form of the French surname Courbou(x) or Courboules. In that instance, Curbow is derived from the village named Courbou(x), in the Lat and Haute-Saone region of eastern France. Alternatively, it could be an Anglicized form of Courbeu(x) or Corbault. In that case, the name derives from the French word corbeau – which translates raven.

In genealogy, your family history research must begin with the known facts about your ancestors and work itself to the unknown.  After almost ten years of researching, I have hit a major brick wall with my husband’s 3x great grandfather, Tilman P. Curbow, and so I have decided to do something that any professional genealogist would warn you against.  I have skipped forward by several generations of known Curbows – and have started working my way down the family tree.  By doing this I hope to get a clearer picture of the Curbow family as a whole and possibly glean some answers as to who Tilman Curbow’s parents were.

Have any of you ever researched “down the family tree”?  What are your strategies in breaking down brick walls?

Stay tuned for Part 2 – Jean Corbeau – the immigrating ancestor –

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2016 in Curbow

 

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Legends and Myths

Do you remember playing the childhood game called “telephone” – the game where the first person in line whispers a phrase into the second person’s ear, and the phrase is then repeated down the line? When finally at the end of the line, the phrase almost always ended up being vastly different than what it was at the outset. And so it goes with family stories – sometimes they are true, but many more times, they are simply family legends and myths.

I receive weekly contacts and inquiries from other genealogy enthusiasts who are hunting the same family lines that I am. Nearly everyone has a story to tell – a story that has been handed down through the generations about their ancestors. Some of the family stories that I hear most often include:

Our family has Native American ancestry. Our great-grandma was a Cherokee Indian Princess.” This story never varies – it’s always a Cherokee – never another tribe – and it’s always a female princess – never a male king, prince or chief. 🙂  The majority of the Curbow researchers that have contacted me have made this same assertion. I have done extensive research on several Curbow lines and have never found proof of Native American lineage and there has been no Cherokee Indian Princess lurking among the ancestors! From the Cherokee Museum: The Cherokee never had princesses. This is a concept based on European folktales and has no reality in Cherokee history and culture.19041452

Our family is related to Jessie James, John Wesley Hardin, Billy the Kid, Kit Carson, Daniel Boone , etc., etc., etc.” Of course, it’s only human nature, to want to lay claim to one of these American legends and place them in our family tree. It is also true that not everyone with the surname James can be traced back to Jessie James – and not everyone named Boone can trace their roots back to Daniel Boone. Such a relationship can only be proven by diligent research and proper sourcing.

Our first American ancestors were three brothers who came to America…..” I ponder the fact that it’s never five brothers or six sisters – always three brothers!!! I hear this family story very often and so it was with our Curbow family. When I first seriously began researching the family all I had heard was: “Three brothers came to America from Ireland.” None of this proved to be even close to the truth. Do your research!

I’ll share a few of our own family stories that l have been researching:

Brothers, Joseph Curbow (1755-1850) and William Curbow (1757-?) were both Revolutionary War soldiers. The family story states that both Joseph and William were present at the British surrender in Yorktown in 1781. Fact or fiction?

Lieutenant-Colonel John West was said to have committed adultery against his wife and left her to live with Cockacoeske – Queen of the Pamunkey – and purportedly a cousin to Pocahontas. Fact or fiction?

One of the “Curbo girls” married into the John Wesley Hardin family. The “Curbo boys” ran with the gang and are responsible for burning down the Courthouse in Hill County, Texas in the late 1870s. Fact or fiction?

With all this said, I do believe that most family stories begin with a smidgen of truth. In other words, where there is smoke there might be a fire. Take it all with a grain of salt and do your own research being careful to source every fact.  The family story that has been passed down to you may be a starting point that leads you to breaking through a brick wall and compiling a very successful and interesting family tree.

Happy Hunting !

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Odds and Ends

 

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Testimony of an American Patriot – Part 2

On 7 June 1822, under an Act of Congress, the United States made provisions for veterans to receive a pension for their service during the American Revolution.  William Kerby (or Curbo) was among those that filed an application for a pension.  His pension hearing was held in the Precinct Court on 16 Sept 1833 in Jackson County, Tennessee before the Honorable Abraham Caruthers, Circuit Judge for the Third Judicial Court in Jackson County as follows:

On the 16th day of September, 1833 personally appeared before the Honorable Abraham Caruthers, Judge of the Third Judicial Circuit for the State aforesaid, now presiding in the County of Jackson and State of Tennessee, William Kerby, or as it is sometimes written William Curbo, a resident of the county and state aforesaid, aged seventy-four years on the 6th of July last {this suggests a birth year of 1758} who being first duly sworn according to law doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the pension made by the Act of Congress passed June 7, 1932.

That he enlisted into the Army of the United States in the year 1775 {he would have been 17 years old} as he believes, but being wholly illiterate, in this he may be mistaken.  He will however proceed with the narration of such facts or will enable the department without any difficulty to ascertain the justice or injustice of his application.  He enlisted with Captain Thomas Harris, and served in the 4th Regiment of the North Carolina line, as he now understands it.

The regiment to which he belonged was commanded by Col. Thomas Polk, who was from the County of Mecklenburg, North Carolina.  The first Major of the Regiment was George Davidson – long after this period Major Davidson was killed at Beatty’s Ford on the Catouba {Catawba??} River in a skirmish with the British and this declarant is of opinion and his recollection is so that at the time of his death he held the rank of General, in the state troops of North Carolina.  James Fair was lieutenant in Capt. Harris’ Company.  James Costs was Ensign.  When he entered the guard he resided in Anson County, North Carolina near the town of Wadesborrough. 

Captain Harris’ company joined the Regiment at Wilmington, North Carolina.  The next day after reaching Wilmington, they set out on their march for Headley’s Point, near Charleston, South Carolina – where they remained in winter quarters until the following spring.  From Charleston, the troops returned to Wilmington, where they remained, he believes about a month.  From Wilmington, the troops marched to the town of Halifax, North Carolina.  There were then at that place according to his recollection, five Regiments – General Francis Nash had the chief command of what troops were there – they remained there something like a month.  From there they marched to Fredericksburg, Virginia where they only remained a few days and continued their march to the head of Elk in Pennsylvania, where they joined General Washington’s army.  {Yes – the General Washington – future President George Washington!}  From there they went to Philadelphia, by the way of what was called “the floating bridge” on the Schuylkill {River}.   

The Army remained some time in Philadelphia, how long he does not distinctly remember, but according to his recollection, he was in Philadelphia on the day that independence was declared.  {Did you just get the goosebumps?  I did – this is American history in action!}  He was in the Battle of Brandywine [September 11, 1777] where he received a wound in the right arm near the shoulder.  This wound was given by one of the British dragoons with a sword.  {When I first read this I thought that a “dragoon” was a type of weapon; however, I found out that it was actually a type of soldier known as a Dragoon Guard.  This designation was given to refer to a certain type of cavalry regiment in the British Army.}  The wound is now distinctly to be seen, or rather the scar which the found first ??? and will be visible while he lives.  At the same time and as he suppose from the same sword, he received a wound in the right hand, which in like manner has left an indelible mark.  After the Battle of Brandywine, he went with the main Army into winter quarters at Valley Forge, there a great many of the North Carolina troops died, and this declarant, with others, was transferred to the Company commanded by Captain John Somers of Somers.  The name of the Lieutenant was McGibboney.  The name of the Ensign was Blount Whitmil. 

He states that previously to going into winter quarters at Valley Forge, he was in the Battle of Germantown.  The winter of 1776 they occupied Valley Forge as winter quarters.  The following summer, and according to his recollection, on the 17th day of July 1777, he was in the Battle of Monmouth.  They remained, he says in Jersey, the winter of 1777.  The following year, the period of his enlistment which was for three years, expired, and he obtained a discharge, signed by General Washington{I wonder what that would be worth if we had that now??!}  His father’s house was burnt in Anson County, North Carolina, at which time his discharge was burnt.  This was during the war, and while this declarant was in the militia service.  He had gone out as a substitute for his brother Joseph Kerby or Curbo, and the discharge had been left with his father, John Kerby.  The whole period which he served his country was six years and three months; but, he was only three years in the regular or United States Army.  He experienced many privations and hardships while in the militia, and on one occasion, at the capture of Charleston, was taken prisoner.

After, reading and digesting William’s testimony, I was overwhelmed with the wealth of information it contained.  I wondered – was William Kerby just a fanciful story-teller?  Or did he really live out this very fascinating piece of our American history?  The oral family history insists that “William and Joseph were present when Cromwell surrendered to General Washington.”  At first I thought – sure – wishful thinking!  Now, I’m not so quick to disregard this family story.  I found out that he was in fact not a storyteller – all of his claims are historical fact.  (See my notes below regarding the people he mentions in his testimony.)  In the end, William’s testimony was credible and the Judge ruled favorably by stating,,,,,and the said Court does hereby declare their opinion that the above-named applicant was a revolutionary soldier and served as he states.  

Captain Thomas Harris, the Army officer that William claims to have enlisted with, did in fact exist.  He was a resident of Iredell County, North Carolina.  His pension hearing took place on 24 May 1821.  On his oath he declared that he joined the continental army in April 1776 as a captain in the Fourth North Carolina Regiment and served in that army for {page torn} years in which time he rose to the rank of Major.  He then on account of his health and other circumstances resigned his commission but afterwards went out in the Militia and acted as Aid to General Griffith Rutherford and was wounded and taken prisoner at the Battle of Camdon  on 16 Aug 1780.

The following commanding officers – all served in the Revolution – actually existed – and are documented:

Thomas Polk – born abt 1732 in Pennsylvania – was one of the original settlers in the area now known as Charlotte, North Carolina.  During the 1750s, this area was located in Anson County, North Carolina.  In 1775, Thomas was one of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.  He was a revolutionary war officer and rose to the rank of Brigadier General.  He died in June of 1794.

George Davidson – born abt 1738 in Ireland – was a Captain who commanded the First Regiment of the North Carolina Line from Sept. 1775 to Feb 1777.  He later rose to the rank of Colonel of the North Carolina Militia.  He died in Iredell County, North Carolina.

John Summers/Somers – He served in the North Carolina Regiment as Lieutenant and later as Captain.  He was taken prisoner at William’s Plantation in July of 1780.  He retired from military service in 1883.

Patrick McGibboney – was a Captain with the Fourth Regiment, North Carolina Continental Line.  He was born in Scotland about 1743 and died in Greensboro, Gilford County, North Carolina in February of 1804.

Thomas Blunt Whitmill – was known as Blunt.  His widow filed an application for his pension.  She stated that he was a Lieutenant in the North Carolina Continental line.  She states that her husband received a land grant for his service; that he participated in the Battle of Brandywine.  She stated that her husband died in September of 1798.

General Francis Nash – was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia in 1742.  Early in his life his parents moved to North Carolina.  At a young age, General Nash became a merchant, attorney and Justice of the Peace.  In 1775, he was elected Lieutenant Col. of the First North Carolina Regiment, Continental Army.  He took part in the expedition to Charleston – and was in short order promoted to Brigadier General.  He received orders to march his troops north to join the Army of General George Washington.  While in the north, General Nash commanded a bridge at the Battle of Germantown, Pennsylvania where on 4 Oct 1777 he was mortally wounded.  Further, when researching life in the City of Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War, I found out that what is now known as Market Street Bridge is located where Market Street crosses the Schuylkill River.  Before the bridge was built, the citizens depended on ferry boats and a couple of crude floating bridges to cross the river.  While the British were in possession of Philadelphia during the war, there existed a pontoon bridge at this location and later a plank floor bridge of floating logs.  I suppose this could be the “floating bridge” of which William speaks in his testimony.

Stay tuned for Part 3 – brick walls – a contest – and a prize !!

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Curbow, Times and Places

 

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