Monday, January 21, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: Will of Nehemiah Newans

Amanuensis Monday

What's an Amanuensis, you say? It's a copyist: someone who sits like a crazy person squinting their eyes and probably ruining eyesight to read that old document hand-written so very long ago and type it out. We do because we love:) 
One of my very favorite ancestors to write about is Nehemiah Newans (1740 - 1820), and you can see more about him using the page tab above where you'll find a rough time line of his life. (And don't even look at the nasty source citations: I need to fix that and can do better. It's on the list.)

He's one of my Revolutionary War ancestors and there was a little book his great grandson, Thomas F. Myers (1841 - 1920), had printed that's fascinated me for quite a while. You can see that book by clicking the tab above. The family has looked to it as gospel but in digging around I found that Nehemiah Newans did not die in the last battle of the Revolutionary War but instead never returned to his wife, Catherine Kepplinger Newans and small son, Thomas Newans, in York, Pennsylvania. Instead he made a life for himself as a stone mason in upstate New York... and with a new wife, Mary Newans! And in the will he mentions a second son, Elias Thompson. What's up with that and a different last name of Thompson?! Hey, it's not for me to pass judgement... I just hope to get to the bottom of some of it as I go along:)

Today, I want to take another look at his will. Here it is, below and my shot at a transcription, below that.

I Nehemiah Newans of the town of Canandaigue in the County of Ontario and State of New York do make and ordain this my last will and testament in a manner and form following - (vis) I direct that all of my just debts should be paid out of my potential (?) estate if it should be sufficient thereof and if not that such part of my real estate be sold as will be sufficient there for at the election of my executors___________
All the rest and residue of my estate both real and personal as shall remain after my debts are paid I give and bequeath unto my well behaved wife Mary Newans to have and to hold the same to all and enjoy during her natural life and the remainder of all such estate after her decease shall invest in the heirs of my sons Elias Thompson and Thomas Newans  And I do hereby constitute (?) and appoint Moses Atwater Esq of Canandaigue afore said my sole executor of this my last will and testament. Hereby (?) all other and former wills by me made _____________
In witness thereof I have here unto set my hand and seal this twenty third of March in the year of Lord one Thousand eight Hundred and twenty. _________
Nehemiah Newans (seal)
Signed sealed published and declared in the presence of us by the said Testator Nehemiah Newans as and for his last will and testament in the presence of us who subscribe our names as witnesses thereto in the presence of the said testator
Canandaigue 23 March 1820  _______________
Thomas Beals
Chester Loomis
E. S. Cobb

When I check online trees, Nehemiah Newans' wife's name is all over the place. I use that as a bellwether to decide how well the researcher has done their homework.

I'm still practicing my transcribing skills and it's a work in progress, but it's improving. The first time around this project was really hard for me, but this time around it was easier and that allowed me to focus on acuracy.

Ananuesis Monday is a weekly blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers. You can find the whole week's list of prompts here. Thanks, GeneaBloggers for being you!!

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