Monday, May 25, 2020

52 Ancestors 2020 #21 Flora Gertrude Bancroft's Timeline and Will

Flora G Bancroft Timeline and Will
I just found a will that my great grandmother wrote the year she died.

The will is short and reflects how much (or how little she possessed). Floras' life was circumscribed by difficulties and some personal tragedies. She lived through World War 1, the Great Depression and World War 2. Her own father had served in the Civil War. Her mother died when she was young. I am not sure where she was schooled still I'm sure her father was sure she had it. Like many people of the era she lived nearly her entire life with extended family. This post is a time line of her life events-connecting them to those people I believe she was closest to. After all, what affects our loved ones, affects us,

I believe it relevant information when writing a personal history.

Birth and Youth

Birth - 22 June 1867 in Meadville, PA to Isabell (Bella) Sarah Brinker (d of Sarah Anna Graham and Col. Jacob Brinker of Butler PA) and Peter Sanford Bancroft (1830- 1916) disabled Civil War vet, professor, and editor, born in Colebrook, CT.

Age 7- 1874-Death of her mother Isabell Brinker (born in 1846, three children)

Age 13- 1880- Residence - Butler, Butler, PA Her widower father moved the family

to the small city of Butler. Living in town meant she and her brothers were now close to her mother's family and their children (her cousins on the Brinker side).

I imagine she would have spent much time with the girls in the Brinker family.

Her 20s

With her Butler cousins




On Oct 16 in 1895 Flora married William Henry Tilton (son of Louisa August Copes and Henry A Tilton.)

Flora filed for her marriage license giv­ing her first name as "Flo."

He was 22 years old and she was 28 years old when they wed.

William Tilton was born in Brooklyn, NY. His family moved to Butler for a job. His parents moved from Butler to Detroit, then to California.

Tiltons: Earlier that month, William's sister, Isabella C Tilton, wed Charles Roe in Butler on Oct 2. Flora and Isbella were friends: Flora's son, my grandfather, was named after Bella's husband Charles. And, Aunt Bella gave her nephew Charles Tilton her engagement ring upon her passing.

Her husband’s brother Clarence A Tilton had married and was divorced, living in Michigan. He subsequently married a divorcee writer Bertha Francis Parker (no children).

Bancroft Siblings: Flora's brothers Earl and Grove were wed already married and living in Butler.

Her 30s

In 1899 her brother Grove Graham Bancroft died at age 30, leaving wife Etta (Bowman) and young daughter Irene Bancroft.

She was 32 when she had her first child Henry Addison Tilton, Butler, PA in 1900. The same year her brother's infant son, Sanford Bancroft died ( son of Earl Bancroft & Clara Ryan) died.

Then, a death: Flora and William's infant son Henry died in 1901. She was 33.

In 1902 her 2nd son (and only child who grew to adulthood, my grandfather) Charles Bancroft Tilton was born at 130 E Cunningham St, Butler, PA. She was 35 that year. 


In 1906 (she was 39) her brother's son 2-year-old Alfred Bancroft (son of Earl Bancroft & Clara Ryan's son) died.

About 1907


Her 40s

In 1910 she was 43 and lived with her husband, son and father in Butler, PA.

1916 was a bad year: Her father Peter S Bancroft died on 17 May 1916 at her home on 318 West Cunningham St, Butler, PA.

Father, PS Bancroft; and son Charles Tilton (at 2)

Less than a month later and a week before 48th birthday, her husband William H Tilton died on June 15, 1916. His obituary ran on Jun 16, 1916. The death certificate states the cause of death as throat cancer (with other cancers).

My grandfather was 14 years old the year she was made a widow. 

Her 50s-60s

She remarried a "Pat" (Alexander) Moore who promised to care for her financially. That didn't work out; as soon as her son Charles was out of college in 1926, he found the couple a small hut on the farm he was managing, they were in desperate straits.

Pat Moore died in 1935, by which time the couple was living with Charles, his wife and their children in Philadelphia. Flora continued to live with the family till the end of her life.

Pat Moore and Flora abt 1931
Flora, and granddaughters Ann and Margaret 1940s

Her 70s-80s

The Great Depression had forced my grandfather to take up jobs which were wholly unsuitable for him. He never made much money-enough to keep body and soul together. His wife did what she could to contribute. At the start of World War 2 began, her son found out he could become a commissioned officer, so he signed up. In the war he was with Air Force intelligence. When the war was over, he returned unscathed.

During the war, the family had moved out of Philadelphia to Elizabeth's family's hometown in northern Adams County, PA The eldest grandchildren went off to college and the 'baby' was still at home. When Charles returned from the war, he and Elizabeth set up a nursery business that was limping along.

In February of 1949, Flora was not yet 82. She made out her will in her own hand. I don't know why but since she died later that year, perhaps the doctor gave her some bad news? She turned 82 that June. The month following on July 6, 1949, she died in Gettysburg, PA. My grandfather was 47 years old. (The following year my mother got married to my father). She is buried at the Menallen Friends Meeting.

Her Will (son & wife & grandchildren, l don't know who Helen is)


Flora Bancroft Tilton Moore's Will

Transcription:  February 1949

My will or wish is that the little I have of worldly goods viz- the silver in chest & china Since they came from Charles grand­parents on his father's side. I wish Charles & his wife Elizabeth to have them so long as they both or one of them live. Charles may leave them as he wishes--only that Elizabeth has use of them for life. Then Billy--should have it(?) Flora Bancroft Tilton Moore

I wish Ann to have 3 gold bowl table­spoons & the silver ladle Margaret to have 3 gold bowl tablespoons & the salad spoon Helen to have the little silver nut spoon. Flora Bancroft Tilton Moore

Saturday, May 16, 2020

52 Ancestors 2020- #20 - Henry Comly of England Emigrates to Penn's Wood

Henry Comly II & Agnes Heaton (8th gr grandparents)
Henry Comly, his wife and his family (including son, Henry Jr) emigrated in 1682. The Comlys are connected to my maternal grandmother's side several times. 
The Comlys married at least two families (possibly more) she is descended from. Comlys came to the  Phildadelphia (Moreland) area and were English Quakers. For generations, they married their kind--English (as opposed to German) Quakers.
(The lineage appears at the end of this piece)

Parents: Henry Comly Sr (1615-1684) & Joan (1630-1689)
Henry Comly (II) was born in Bedminster, England. He emigrated with his parents, (Henry Sr & Joan Tyler) 1682 when he was a young boy.
Henry (Sr) bought about 500 acres of land from William Penn (1681) where the family settled (Warminster, Bucks, PA).
Only two years after arriving Henry (Sr)died and left to his son Henry                                            “two hundred acres bought by me of the Governour besides the House and Hundred which I now live in."
His mother remarried Joseph English in 1685.
Henry (Jr) Marries
In 1695 Henry married Agnes Heaton, daughter of Robert Heaton at Langhorne,  PA.
When Henry married Agnes, she brought to the marriage property which included the Manor of Moreland—two large tracts of land; together they had this as well as his Warminster property.
Agnes & Henry raised their family on the Moreland property.
Henry was active in religious life of the Friends (Quaker) Meeting and in civil affairs. In 1711 he was the collector of county taxes. In 1721 his name is found on a list of subscribers for maintaining the poor who belonged to Byberry Preparative Meeting.
Henry's name on Byberry Prep Mtg-Money needed to maintain mtg house
One descendant, a great grandson said all "of his children were married according to the order of Friends.” (Quakers).
Henry & Agnes had 11 children whose names were recorded in the Comly family bible. They were members of Abington Meeting and that Meeting has records  for at least nine of their children.

“Henry Comly appears to have and supported through his life the character of an honest and upright man. He carried his temporal concerns with vigor and was successful in his business, so that he might be regarded as wealthy for a farmer at that early period. We find that he was employed in adjusting differences about property against his neighbors and was considered a serviceable member of the religious society.” - 
From Comly Genealogy: John Comly, his great-grandson
Henry died at 57 year on 16 Mar 1726. (see Abington Monthly Meeting)
His widow Agnes died in 1743.

Comly, George Norwood, b. 1874. Comly Family In America: Descendants of Henry And Joan Comly, Who Came to America In 1682 From Bedminster, Somersetshire, England. With Short Account of the Ancestors of Charles And Debby Ann (Newbold) Comly. Compiled by George Norwood Comly... Philadelphia, Pa.: Priv published under supervision of J.B. Lippincott company, 1939.
PUBLIC DOMAIN; accessed 15 May 2020 at

Monday, May 11, 2020

52 Ancestors 2020 #18 Where There’s a Will - David Petts leaves Widow Phoebe in the Lurch

*Phoebe Stevens (my husband's 3rd gr grandmother)
Daughter of John Stevens (1779-1840) and Azubah Procter (1776-1840)
B 3 May 1812 Stoddard, New Hampshire
D 3 Apr 1902 Keene, Cheshire, New Hampshire
Her siblings
~~John Stevens (1807–1865)
~~Henry Stevens (1808–?)
~~Azubah Stevens (1808–1852)
~~Ephraim Stevens (1814–1895)
Married *David Towne Petts (his 3rd gr grandfather)
B 25 Nov 1810, Weston, Windsor, VT
D 3 Dec 1856 in Marlow, Cheshire, New Hampshire
Their children:
~Ferdinand Petts (1834–1933)
~Rosina Petts (1835–1861)
~Lyman Gustavus Petts (1836–1927)
~George A Petts (1842–?)
~Myranda Anette Petts (1843–1917)
~*Christiane L Petts (1845–1871) (his 2nd gr grandmother)

Phoebe outlived her husband by 46 years, falling short of living to 90 years old by one month.
A wife in this period was not the automatic heir to her husband's property. The husband owned everything, including his debt.
David T. Petts died intestate (without a will). Consequently, there are a lot of records (from 1856 for at least 2 years) in New Hampshire.
But as the widow Phoebe was entitled to a “dower”-the state gave widows that much. Typically, it was 1/3 of the entire value of the estate (it was handled by the probate judge). Phoebe got slightly-very slightly-more the 1/3.
Phoebe also asked to be  the administratrix—something she had to petition the court to be. Amos Fiske was ‘commissioned’ by the court to appraise and list all belongings of David T Petts.
To settle the estate, Phoebe (as administratrix—or as widow, depending on the document) had to fill out a court document and have it approved.
She got ‘reimbursed’ for travel, but it was out of the estate.
David Petts died in 1856—the estate got bogged down by people wanting their money--and then it seems that the court suspected the family was hiding property. It finally was settled in 1858.

Phoebe auctioned the estate (apart from the ‘dower’ which was hers) and then paid back her husband’s creditors
There are two sets of inventories. One looks like the final ‘official’ inventory (has a seal on it), the other is in long hand. The inventory in long hand lists the value of each item and next to each is also has a list of names. Perhaps the longhand sheet was the worksheet for the public auction.  Several of the bidders were related to her (sons).
No other records indicate that they ran a tavern/inn.
But when you see the inventory you realize they must have. The quantity of food and alcohol, along with bedding for that time period indicates an inn. The unofficial inventory is 9 pages long. The inventory is very large for the time. (If you read on, you’ll see verification.)
I don’t know anything about antebellum New Hampshire estates, but I am guessing Amos Fiske who was commissioned by the court, may have made a profit on reselling the articles he bought at auction.
Inventory                             - $642.98
 S. for Wid. Allow. 
[The widow’s dower, or 1/3 of David’s property)     $200
Sold for                       $360.08
                                  $82.98 L of S

If David Towne Petts owed his creditors more than $443.06, then the creditors could not be repaid in full. When you adjust this for inflation, $443=$14,560.
I looked at his creditors (from those who came forward after notices were posted and published), you find he owed more than $2,240. This, adjusted for inflation, is equivalent to $74,000--when he had the equivalent of $14,560.
His creditors had to accept what the court allowed.  If they were owed $5.24, they were allowed about .59 cents. Most of his creditors were “promissory notes” or IOUs.  But there were about 6 or 7  judgements on David Petts, and some of them very large. This tells me that he had borrowed money on time and had not fulfilled his obligation of repayment in a timely manner---and the creditor had to file a judgement in court against him.

David Towne Petts died intestate. His estate was INSOLVENT.

  16 Dec 1856
(His widow) Phoebe Petts petitioned court to be the administratrix of her husband's estate.
  16 Dec 1856
A bond for: Phebe Petts, Amos Pike, and Samuel Buss amount of $1200 to execute estate accdng to the laws of New Hamsphire.
  6 Jan 1857
Phebe Petts, of estate of David T Petts of Marlow deceased intestate, says she is unwilling to be charged with the goods and chattles belonging to the said estate as appraised. Wherefore she prays that she may have license to sell the same at public auction. "foregoing petition is decreed granted and the license is issued accordingly"
  6 Jan 1857
The estate of David Petts was published for 3 consecutive weeks in the Cheshire Republican (newspaper) printed in Keene, Cheshire County (NH) with additional notifications at some publick house in each of the towns of Marlow and Stoddard (for at least 40 days). - Judge of Probate 6 Jan 1857
  Jan 1857
Phebe Petts, widow and relict of David T Petts of Marlow. "Prays your honor to make her such an allowance out of the Personal Estate of said deceased, for her present support and comfort, as may be suitable to her condition and degree, and consistent with the situation of the Estate." "Phebe Petts" (response): “January 1857  Upon the above petition, it is...decreed that the said widow be allowed in such article as she may choose, out of the Inventory of the Personal Estate of said deceased, suitable to her condition, at their appraised value, the sum of two hundred dollars, for her present support and comfort. (Judge)
  Jan 1857
Several Pages of the Official Inventory & appraisal Jan 6 1857 done by 3 men
  Jan 1857
New Hampshire, Cheshire County, the Judge of Probate for County; To Phebe Petts, Administratrix of the Estate of David T Petts late of Marlow in said county, deceased intestate: You are hereby licensed and ordered to sell at public auction, all the goods and chattels of said deceased, except such part thereof as has been ordered to you for your present support (see petition).
And you are directed to give notice of such sale by posting up advertisements thereof in two or more public places in said Marlow at least 10 days before said sale. If you comply with this order, and act with fidelity and impartiality in said sale, you will be credited with loss, or charged with the gain upon such sale. 6 January 1857 - Judge of Probate
  Jan 1857
Amount of Sales at Auction of the Estate of David T Petts Late of Marlow; Deceased; by Phebe Petts Adminstratrix - Jan 29 1857
Auction - inventory

Inventory (partial)


Appraisal less widow's dower

Sept 1857
Creditors & Heirs at Law of the Estate of David T Petts of Marlow in Cheshire County. ... 1st Tuesday of September [1857]...and ordered that Phebe Petts give notice causing the Citation to be published 3 weeks successively in the Cheshire Republican printed at Keene in said county.

 Sept 1857
Amos Fiske of Marlow, the commissioner of the Estate of David Petts of Marlow was given a year from 1 Dec 1857, a list of all the claimes which have been received against David Petts' estate. (Signed by the judge on 1 Sept 1857) - fig 1
1856 Expense of Administration
First, Cash paid Out
Kimball for Advertising .75
L. Tenny for services at auction $4
Samul Bress for services as appraiser and clerk $4
Elisha Bress for services as appraiser $2
Amos Pike for services as appraiser $2
AS Fiske Commissioner for services as a commissioner $8
Kimball for Advertising                       $4.75

1857 Paper 2 - Funeral Charges of the deceased
Dec  5 Paid Daniel Mack for coffin & box / recipt No 1 $8.00
Dec 5 Paid John Mellen for digging grave & box recipt No 2 $4.00                                                                                 _________
Phebe Petts, Administratrix

Second Personal Services of Administratrix
1856 [Date] For attending Probate Court expenses, to take letter      $3.50
     [Date] Expenses with appraisers                                        $2.00
1857 [Date] Attending probate court, expenses, to take license $3.50
     [Date]  Service at the sale                          $2.00
     [Date]Attending Probate Court and expenses                   $3.50
     [Date]Attending Probate Court and expenses                   $3.50
1858 [Date] Attending probate Court and expenses $3.50
     [Date] Attending probate Court and expenses      $3.50
     [Date]  Making administrative account                    .75
      --    Attending Probate Court and expenses          $3.50
1858 ?? attending count from New Ipswich to settlement  $3.50
                                                                                    Phebe Petts
Account Papers
Paper A
In trust on personal property
In trust on cash taken at sale
Collected of Amos Pike on note for property $3.64
                                    bought at sale
Collected of Ferdinand Petts on note for property bought at sale $21.52
Collected of Samuel Buss on note for property bought at sale $1.55
Collected of Elisha Buss on note for property bought at sale $1.16
  1 March 1858-Estate was discharged...and report made by the Commissioner is accepted. - Judge
  June 15 1858

Their eldest son (who was an adult), Ferdinand Petts, was summoned to appear in court to be examined regarding his father’s estate.
I cannot figure out what the larger point was but assume that the probate court was not satisfied that the discharging the amount owed by David Petts’ estate had been handled legally. 
A horse was quite valuable at that time and the court questioned Ferdinand Petts regarding his possessions in 1856. He was also asked about this stallion.  (Interestingly he brings up the name Amos Fiske, who is the same man who was commissioned by court to do the appraisal on the estate).
Ferdinand’s testimony includes this:
“In May 1856 my father was in need of a horse to use in connection with the tavern & informed me of it & wanted I should help him to one. ?? at the same time the said stallion was a pace horse & one he should like and I told him if he could buy it. So as I --- would? be sure to not lose by it he might buy him for me. He made the trade, took & kept him until Dec 1856. Q Did you experience the horse during the negotiation for the purchase, or have anything to say as to the price or qualities of the horse?”[etc].  
The testimony goes on on property and notes.
Ferdinand is questioned about a "tavern stand" which apparently he bought. The court wishes to know where he got the money from. At this point there is some involvement-or suspected involvement-of Fiske (Amos Fiske who was also the Commissioner for the estate). 

At one point in time, the deceased, David Petts, needed money and so borrowed it from his son. And so on.
There many questions, all about money and property which go on for pages, and some of which are hard to understand due to the handwriting of the note-taker. 
There are 35 questions, but many of them are compound questions, requiring more than one answer.
Ferdinand was finally done with his testimony on July 20, 1858.
page 1 of Ferdinand's court testimony

·       21 September 1858
Whereas the Commissioner presented all claims allowed the sum is $2539 dollars and 39 cents; and whereas the settlement of your account, except the widow's dower, having been sold and the proceeds accounted for. There appears to be a balance of $312.96.
The creditors were notified accordingly, and you are directed to distribute the balance of 312.96 to aforesaid creditors by paying to each of them the proportion to each of their claim respectively annexed. --Judge