Monday, May 25, 2020

#69 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

#68 - 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

Friday, May 8, 2020

#67 Legal Contracts: How They Serve Us -Wigard Levering of Pennsylvania

Law Contracts: Do they serve us or do we serve them?
A written contract in the form of a deed, a bond, a will, or some other instrument can give one a sense of security. 
"Posted: No Trespassing" can be nailed on a tree on your property when you have the deed to the land. 
Or, as a in will, you may inherit property.  
But what if  you are an indentured servant? how would you feel about the contract?  Wonder if my ancestor Wigard Levering find out that being indentured contract was too much of a burden? or too long? 

I Rosier Levering and Elizabeth Van de Walle - of Leiden and Germany (Gen 1) 
~ Rosier Levering was born about 1615 in Leiden (Leyden), Netherlands. He died Mar 1674/75 in Gemen, Munster, Germany.

Leiden, Netherlands (wikipedia/opensource)
~ He married Elizabeth Van De Wall[e], the daughter of Jacobus Van De Walle and Agatha Hess in 1646/47 in Gemen, Munster, Germany.
~ Elizabeth Van De Wal[e]l was born 21 May 1626 in Wesel, Germany. She died in Gemen, Munster, Germany.
Move to Pennsylvania
Elizabeth Van de Walle's brother, Jacob Van der Walle, was a wealthy Dutch Pietist and a prominent shareholder in the Frankfort Company which owned and organized Germantown, PA.
After William Penn acquired his Pennsylvania land in 1681, he needed settlers so he traveled throughout Europe seeking settlers, particularly Friends (Quakers) and Mennonites. Penn also found partners for the venture who had agents to help acquire more settlers.
One of these partnerships, organized about 1683, was the Frankfort Company (1683) and one partner in the Frankfort company was Jacob Van De Walle, brother-in-law of Rosier Levering (whose wife was Elizabeth Van De Walle).

Children of Rosier Levering and Elizabeth Van De Walle
Rosier Levering and Elizabeth Van De Walle had several children, including Wigard (son).
II Wigard Levering and Magdalena Boeckers (Gen 2)
Their son Wigard Levering was born in 1640s in the town of Gemen, Munster, Germany.
In April 1674, he married  Magdalena Boeckers, of Wesel, Germany.
The earliest record of Wigard Levering and his wife, Magdalena Boeckers, appears in the records of the Presbytery of the Evangelical Parish of Gemen, Munster Stadt, Westphalia, Germany.
On March 22, 1674, the first wedding banns for "Wigard Levering, Rosier's son, with Magdalena Bokers, of Essen," were proclaimed.
Mulheim Germany
They lived in Gemen first, then moved to Mulheim (where son William Levering was born).
No doubt Wigard's uncle, Jacob Van De Walle, was an agent for getting Wigard Levering  into a contract with the Frankfort Company at Wesel to ship the family to Philadelphia (dated 20th of March, 1685).
Their agreement with the Frankfort Company is at the Pennsylvania Historical Society:
"We, the subscribers, do acknowledge and confess by these Presents, that we have contracted and agreed together, that Doctor Thomas Van Wylick and Johannes Le Brun, in behalf of the Pennsylvania Company, in which they, and other friends of Frankfort and other parts, are engaged, to accept or receive me, Wigard Levering, old 36 or 37 years, and Magdalena Boeckers, old 36 years, and four children, Anna Catherine, William, Amelia, and Sibella, respectively 1/2, 2 1/2, 5 and 9 years, to and for the service of the aforementioned Company, to transport by shipping out of Holland or Ingland, to Pennsylvania, upon their cost. On Their arrival in Pennsylvania, they were to report themselves to Francis Daniel Pastorius, who was general agent for the company. Written upon the margin of the instrument an agreement to include "the Contractor's brother, Gerhard Levering."

New Chapter: Wigard & Magadelena's Emigration
They emigrated that year to America with four children, sailing to Philadelphia on “Penn's Woodland” from the Netherlands. They first settled in Germantown (outside of Philadelphia).
In August, 1685, the Frankfort Company conveyed 50 acres of land in Germantown to Wigard Levering.
A recorded deed, executed in August 1685 reads: "On the tenth of that month and year, Francis Daniel Pastorius, as the attorney of Jacob Van de Walle and others, forming the Frankford Company, conveyed to Wigard Levering a lot in Germantown containing fifty acres of land. So done in Germantown, on the 10th day of the 6th month (August), in the year of Christ 1685, in the sixteenth year of the reign of King James the Second of England, and in the fifth year of the reign of William Penn.'"
Wigard and his brother Gerhard Levering became freemen in 1691.
Once Wigard was a free man, he bought 500 of land and his brother bought adjoining land, near the  Wissahickon Creek to the Schuylkill River—most of Roxborough (slightly west). They lived there for the rest of their days.
Breaking a Contract:
When they immigrated both Wigard and Gerhard Levering were indentured to the Frankfort Company. (Indentured/Redemptioned laborers who lived in servitude for a set number of years in exchange for passage to the American colonies from England or Germany. They were considered chattel that could be bought and sold until the period of their servitude expired.) And although Wigard was indebted to the efforts of others for his relative prosperity and the benefit of no longer living in the church-state of Germany, he chose to get out from his obligation to the agents by suing to break the contract a full fourteen years after his immigration. Perhaps he believed that he had fulfilled his obligation? I can't know. A document reveals how Pastorious felt:
“… He…sued the said Comp; as debtors to him & to deprive me, the now Agent of the said Company of all advice & assistance in Law, employed all the Attorneys in the Country, who pleading that he the said Wigard, his wife & 4 children are not to discount anything for their Transportation, obtained Judgment in the last County Court against the said Company, for 32L 16s 10d. Now supposing the said German Company had Intended to transport the said Wigard his wife & children gratis or free, as I have proofs to the contrary… Therefore your Petitioner in the behalf of the said German Comp. humbly entreats you to grant to have the cause tried again (a thing he thinks not so unheard of as that a Plaintiff should employ all the Lawyers to impede & hinder the Defendants to get any) And to the end that a Just Cause may not suffer by my unskillfullness in pleading & notorious want or defect to express myself sufficiently in the English tongue to the full understanding of a Jury; May it please the Govr & his Council to appoint a Person learned in the Law to patronize or manage the same. And as your Petitioner requests these things only for Justice & Truths sake, so (he hopes) it will tend to the preventing both of others, who being transported by the said Company's disbursement may probably follow the steps of Wigard; as also to the allaying of dissatisfaction of several honest hearted people in Germany and especially oblidge your Petitioner.
- F.D. Pastorious "

Wigard Levering spoke German and was unable to write. His wife Magdalena died when she was about 67, in 1717 at the age of about 67 years.
Wigard (some people called him John) died in February 1745/46. His age was estimated between 103-107 when he died and was buried upon his farm.
The location is now part of Fairmount Park of Philadelphia. Later it became the churchyard and burial ground of the Baptist Church. It is now Leverington Cemetery.
It is now Leverington Cemetery.

[In 1689, William Penn had a census taken and found about a thousand Swedes; nevertheless, the Germans outnumbered them greatly in a short span of time. The Welsh were prominent across the Schuylkill in Merion Township.]