Thursday, June 23, 2011

Woah! What Was Going On? Part One

Sit a spell, because this is going to take a while explaining and I'm going to need a couple of swipes at it. I'm working on the fall issue of our family history newsletter and thought to tell the story of our ancestor, Nehemiah Newan(s) who was born in England and fought in the Revolutionary War.

Mom received a small book from Dad's Aunt Edith many years ago telling the life story of Nehemiah Newan and other ancestors. Aunt Edith, dear sweet lady that she was, entrusted the small volume to Mom saying that it "was the story of her (meaning Mom's) family" because Aunt Edith always considered Mom as good as any blood relative. Mom has kept that treasure now almost 50 years.

I copied the little book when I was recently in to see Mom and read it for the first time just last weekend. It tells a cinematic tale of the adventures and nobility of our ancestor. It's a really good story... maybe too good, I thought. Mom agreed. Was it the florid verbiage of the era in which it was written or was it more fabrication than fact? I'm hooked on the trail!

The book states that he died in the Revolutionary War. However, Mom had evidence that Nehemiah Newan removed to upstate New York and settled there on land granted to him for war service. I needed to go on Footnote.com and verify what I could.

After an hour or so I smelled something rotten. The book was dead wrong about his death in the war. What else was it wrong about?

So here's our mystery: the sweet little book says he died at York in the war. The NARA documents show him in upstate New York appearing before proper authorities at 70 years of age applying for a pension in 1818. Witnesses swear that he was known to them. Doesn't sound at all dead to me.

Where's the truth of the matter? And what about the book? More later... I need to go back on Footnote and double check a thing or two.

Aunt Edith Condry and her son Father John Condry, 1958

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