Tag Archives: genealogy

James Turner Miller – A Good Man Killed – Murder Most Foul

As so correctly stated by Aaron Holt of the National Archives and Records Administration, “It only takes three generations to lose a piece of oral family history.  If you want to avoid losing those precious family stories passed down through the generations, the story must be purposely and accurately repeated over and over again through the generations to be preserved.”

As it pertains to oral family histories – the Miller family has done a great job – specifically as it relates to James Turner Miller, the father of Elijah Spencer Miller (whose wife was Harriet Curbow).  When I began researching the life of Elijah and Hattie – I naturally poked around for information on Elijah’s father, and through census records, I believed that to be James Turner Miller, who lived “east of the Brazos – near Waco, Texas.  As I worked with other Miller researchers, I was told on more than one occasion that Mr. Miller was a wealthy landowner, had been in Waco on a supply trip on the day of his death, and that he had been murdered by cattle rustlers on his way home.  I put that in my “to be determined file” and moved on with the research.  Thankfully, I have many fantastic research partners – and Mr. Tom Hedges (a Miller descendant) – was able to locate this news article, presumably published in a Waco newspaper the day after the murder on 19 Aug 1873.


Intelligence was yesterday morning received of the death by gunshot the evening before, of James T. Miller, a resident of this county, and one of the most orderly and respectable citizens. Who it was that committed this atrocious crime, or by what spirit of diabolism actuated, is yet one of the undeveloped mysteries. Certain it is, however, it was a murder most foul. Jim Miller, for so he was familiarly called, was in town the day he was killed, and it is known that he was not armed. He fell, therefore, by the hand of the assassin. He had bought during the day supplies and a quantity of lumber for use on his place, and was on his way home with them. He lived at the Pitts place, on the Corsicana road, twelve miles from town. A short distance this side of town, night coming on, Mr. Miller, being on horseback, left the wagons on the main road and started home on the “trail,” a more direct route. Shortly afterward the report of a gun was heard in that direction; Mr. Miller not coming home, search was instituted, and on the following morning (yesterday) his body was found. He was shot at the trail crossing of that ill-famed creek, the Tehuacana, a short distance above the Corsicana Road.  A load of buckshot, some eighteen or twenty, taking effect in his side, had done its bloody work and there he lay. “Dead men tell no tales,” and in the absence of witnesses it is possible that the perpetrator of this great crime may go unwhipped of justice and unrecognized, save by the eye of heaven, as the murderer he is. But if it is possible, under such circumstances and in the absence of any clue, to ascertain who it was that did the deed, this should be done and the guilty party be awarded at the hands of the law the fearful penalty due his crime. The deceased will be buried with Masonic honors by Waco Lodge No. 92, to-day.

As it turned out – the family oral history was spot on about the facts of Jim Miller’s murder.

James Turner Miller – known as Jim – was born to Alfred Miller (b. 1793) and Sarah Wray on 12 Feb 1824 in South Carolina.

At the time of the 1850 census we find James T. Miller living next door to his father in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi.  He is a blacksmith – both he and his father are land and slave owners.  Jim is living with his first wife Rebecca, age 21 (Rebecca Ann Anderson) and son Elizah, age 2; (Elijah Spencer Miller, born 1849).  Also next door is Rebecca Anderson, Elijah Anderson and James Anderson.  Can we presume this to be the family of Rebecca, Elijah Miller’s wife?

Miller researcher Shirley McAnelly Hill states that Jim Miller and family were in Texas by 1858 – and they can indeed be found in the 1860 census living in McLennan County, Texas.  He is with his wife Rebecca and son Spencer and daughter Nancy (Nancy Roseann Miller, born 1859).

The oral family story continues stating that Rebecca died in childbirth while Jim was in Galveston, Texas serving in the Civil War sometime around 1862.  As it turns out, this part of the family story checks out as well – Jim did serve in Confederate Army with the 9th Militia Dist., McLennan County, 28th Brigade, Texas Militia – where he held the rank of 3rd Sgt.  It could be that the child Rebecca gave birth to was daughter Mary Alice Miller (born 1862).

Muster Roll Index Card – James Turner Miller

Jim Miller married for a second time to Catherine S. Young on 9 Dec 1864 (presume in McLennan County – although I have not located a marriage record for them there).  The couple had five children:  William Turner Miller in 1865; Susan Ellanora Miller in 1867; Rebecca Miller in 1869; Permelia Paralee Miller in 1871; and Jesse Perkins Miller in 1873).  When the census was taken in 1870, the family is still living in McLennan County, Texas “east of the Brazos.”  At that time Jim owned real estate valued at $8,500 and personal property valued at $2,000.

On a recent genealogy trip to Waco, my husband and I spent hour upon hour, looking through old Wills and probate papers at the McLennan County District Clerk’s office.  While there I pulled the Will and probate file of James Turner Miller – and it was voluminous!  The probate file settles James Turner Miller’s family relationships and confirms that he was a very well to do citizen of McLennan County, Texas.  Since the file was so large, I did not copy it in its entirely; however, I did have a few pertinent pages copied – and will write about that in my next post.  Stay tuned.




Posted by on June 21, 2017 in Miller


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David Alfonso Montoya

From Wikipedia:  Genealogy, also known as family history, is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history.  Genealogists use oral interviews, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members. The results are often displayed in charts or written as narratives.  The pursuit of family history and origins tends to be shaped by several motives, including the desire to carve out a place for one’s family in the larger historical picture, a sense of responsibility to preserve the past for future generations, and a sense of self-satisfaction in accurate storytelling.

This week another chapter of our family story closed with the passing of David Alfonso Montoya who died in Salt Lake City on the night of March 5th.  David was my uncle and my God Father.

David and Adella Montoya with Judy Montoya; Dec of 1960

Dave, as he was known, was born 14 Jul 1927 to Jose Celestino Montoya (1905-1988) and Manuelita De Los Reyes Lujan (1904-1931) in San Francisco, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico.  He was christened at the San Juan de los Caballeros Church near his home.  Dave had an older brother named Jose who was born in 1926 and who died in September of 1927.  He also had a younger brother named Peter Augustine who was born October of 1929 and who died in August of 1997.   When his father, Jose Celestino, married his second wife, Pearl Spencer, Dave gained six additional half-siblings:  Max George (1933-1994); Richard Ernest (1935-1993); Juanita (1937-1949); Rufino Eugene “Murph”); Louis Celestino; and Margie Ann.  From Jose Celestino’s third marriage (to Lea Gladys Overson), Dave gained an additional half-brother:  Robert.

When David was two years old, the 1930 census was taken.  I found David living in Alcalde, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico.  He was living with his father Celestino Montoya, age 24 and his mother Manuelita, age 24.  Also in the home was his infant brother Pedro.  Father Celestino owned his own home which was valued at $300.  The residence was listed as a farm – and the family did not own a radio (that was one of the odd questions asked on the 1930 census).  Father Celestino was performing “odd jobs.”  The family is living next door to Manuelita’s father, Antonio Jose Lujan.  Also nearby is Celestino’s sister, Ramona Montoya Gallegos. 

Sadly, David’s mother, Manuelita, died very young at the age of 27 on 13 Aug. 1931, and according to the 1940 census, David is living with his Montoya grandparents.  He is indexed as being 12 years old born in 1928.  He is attending elementary school and he is in the 6th grade.  He lives in Velarde, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico with his grandfather, Maximiano Montoya, age 69 and grandmother Juanita, age 56.  Also in the home is his younger brother, Pedro, age 10 who is attending school and is in the 1st grade.  Grandfather Max indicates that he owns his own home which has a value of $150.  Uncle Jose Ilario Montoya, age 24 lives next door with his family.  Sometime after the death of his mother, David’s father Celestino left for Bingham Canyon to work the ore mines.  This is where he met his second wife Pearl and where he can be found with her (along with four of their children) in the 1940 census.  It is my understanding that David was very close to, and may have spent some time living with, Manuelita’s brother Tomas Lujan (1908-1995).

On July 13, 1945 in Salt Lake City, one day before his 17th birthday, David enlisted into the United States Navy.  The record confirms many things that we already know about David – his date/location of birth; name of his father and grandfather; and it also confirms that his mother is deceased.  Further his World War II draft registration card indicates that he was living at 809 Broad Street in Kannapolis, Cabarrus, North Carolina at the time.  He indicated that he was 19 years old and again confirms his date/location of birth. His grandmother Juanita Montoya was listed as his next of kin.  He appears on several Navy muster rolls as being assigned to the USS Wisconsin BB64 (Feb; Apr; and June of 1946).

USS Wisconsin BB-64

After his discharge from the Navy, it is assumed that he headed to Ogden, Utah where he met and married Maria Adela (Della) Guadalupe Garcia (1933-2009) on 9 Apr 1951.




At some point after their marriage, Dave and Della moved to Salt Lake City where they raised a large family.

Salt Lake City – 1960 Directory Listing

Services/Mass for David will be held on Saturday, March 11th at St. Patrick’s Church in Salt Lake City.  Neil O’Donnell  & Sons of Salt Lake City will be handling the arrangements.  Rest in peace, Dave, you will be missed.

Life is eternal, and love is immortal, and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight. Rossiter Worthington Raymond





Posted by on March 9, 2017 in Montoya


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Sarah’s Untimely Death

Sarah Elsie Gardner from the collection of Margie Montoya

I am a 38-year old woman who died in February of 1925.  I was brought to the County Hospital here in San Bernardino, California where I lingered for four days before I died.  My diagnosis – acute cholecystitis – in layman’s terms – I died from an inflammation of my gallbladder ~ Sarah Elsie Gardner Spencer Pearson ~

We take so many things for granted – modern healthcare being one of them.  Did you know that not so very long ago – 92 years to be exact – when my great-grandmother Sarah died, the leading causes of death included pneumonia and influenza along with tuberculosis; diarrhea and Syphilis?  Had my great-grandmother been diagnosed in 2017, it is very likely that she would have lived to see her old age.  Elsie would quickly have been diagnosed and hospitalized, given pain medications along with antibiotics and promptly whisked off to surgery.  The doctors would have availed themselves to unheard of technologies including ultrasound; a surgeon would have performed a quick and non-invasive surgery; and chances are that Elsie would have been home and on the mend within a few days.  Today it is rare to die from an inflamed gallbladder.

While many medical advances were being made, medical care by all accounts was still fairly archaic in 1925.  Doctors during this time period essentially relied on common home remedies rather than on medical science.  Elsie would have probably been given pain medication such as Opium (Tincture No. 23, i.e., Laudanum) which was widely regarded as an all-purpose cure for everything under the sun.

Did you know that Bayer used to peddle heroin?!

Prior to this time doctors had used morphine and cocaine to calm teething babies; arsenic and mercury to treat syphilis and heroin to relieve asthma symptoms.  Although discovered in the late 1920s, antibiotics weren’t widely used until the 1940s – instead patients were treated with topical iodine, bromine and mercury to heal their infections – none of which would have helped Elsie.  Had her doctors chosen surgery as an option (which it appears they did not), more than likely it would have been exploratory and they would have anesthetized her with Ether and/or Chloroform.  Hospitals in this time period generally consisted of wards versus today’s private rooms.

Vintage surgical suite circa 1925

Then, as they do now, nurses played a vital role in health care – treating common illnesses, delivering infants and providing emergency care – so it is really unknown whether or not Elsie even had the benefit of a qualified physician.

Throat lozenges containing Cocaine

It took me a fair amount of time to locate my great-grandmother’s death certificate.  I knew that she had divorced my great-grandfather George Francis Spencer; and I knew that she had remarried (Carl Henrick Persow/Person).  I lost track of her after the 1920 census.  Many of the other Spencer family trees on indicated that Elsie had died in Redlands; however, no one had any detailed information or could provide me with a source.  After digging through the California death index, I came across a possibility:  Mrs. Elsie Pearson whose death date matched my great-grandmother’s.  I ordered the certificate and bingo – it was her!

Elsie was listed as a white female who was divorced and whose husband has been Carl Pearson.  The certificate confirms her date of birth and her date of death.  Her occupation was listed as:  “cook.”  It confirms that her father was Henry Gardner and her mother was Mary Patterson.  She had been a resident of Redlands, California for two years prior to her death.  Her body was sent to Payson, Utah for burial.  And saddest of all – the information for the death certificate was provided by the hospital records – not a family member – which indicates to me that she was alone and without loved ones by her side when she died at 38 years, 7 months and 7 days.


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Posted by on February 9, 2017 in Spencer


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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.


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.


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 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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


Posted by on September 20, 2016 in Curbow


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