Three Agnes Ellwoods: Tombstone Tuesday

Anout four years ago someone sent us a descendant chart showing the descendants of Edmund Ellwood (1700-1789) and his wife Elizabeth Robinson (1700-?) of Dufton, Westmorland, England. It actually went back a few generations to an earlier Edmund, but the main descendants shown were those of Edmund and Elizabeth. It is mainly a list of names, with a few dates, but no places indicated.

Unfortunately we don’t seem to have kept a record of who sent it to us, but we were told that it originated with a Peter Ellwood, whom we haven’t managed to make contact with.

Since retiring last March, Val has been working her way through it, trying to flesh out the outline with dates, names and places, and trying to prove the various links. In the course of doing this she has discovered several errors and omissions in the list, and also several errors and omissions in various online family trees.

She has mainly been working on the descendants of Edmund and Elizabeth’s eldest son Samuel Ellwood (1726-1796), who married Hannah Barrow at Cartmel in Lancashire in 1752. Samuel was a shoemaker, as were some of his descendants. Samuel & Hannah’s eldest son John seems to have gone back to Wesmorland for a wife, and married Jane Coulthred at Underbarrow in Westmorland, and they then had four children at Cartmell in Lancashire, but we have only been able to trace the descendants of one of them, Timothy Ellwood (1769-1867), who married Mary Withers in 1801. We are not absolutely sure of these links, but on a balance of probabilities they seem to be correct. If anyone has any better information about any of them, please let us know.

Timothy and Mary had 12 children, and it is mainly their descendants that we have been trying to follow.

The two eldest sons, John and Thomas, each had a daughter Agnes Ellwood, and each Agnes married in the 1850s, and emigrated to the USA soon afterwards.

Gravestone of John Turner and Agnes Ellwood in Towanda, Kansas, USA

Gravestone of John Turner and Agnes Ellwood in Towanda, Kansas, USA

We’ve been able to find out what happened to these descendants mainly through the very useful Find-a-Grave web site. Agnes Ellwood (1831-1908), daughter of Thomas Ellwood and Elizabeth Taylor, married John Turner in 1852, and emigrated to the USA in about 1857, living first in Illonois, and then in Towanda, Kansas. You can find their details on the Find-a-Grave site here. They seem to have several children, some of whom are also buried in the same cemetery, and they can also be found on the Find-a-Grave site.

Agnes Turner had a cousin, 15 months younger, Agnes Ellwood (1833-1896), the daughter of John Ellwood and Agnes Harrison, who married John Jackson Tallon in 1855, and almost immediately afterwards emigrated to Illinois in the USA. Unlike the Turner family, the Tallons seem to have stayed in Illinois a while longer, at least long enough for Agnes to be buried there. And again, Find-a-Grave comes up with the most useful information.

It was at this point that we discovered a lot of online family trees for Agnes Ellwood Tallon, on the soon-to-be-closed Mundia site (no links, as they won’t work after September). And every one that we looked at linked to the wrong Agnes!

They all linked to a third, unrelated Agnes, the daughter of John Ellwood and Mary Shepherd, who was born about 1835 in Oddendale, Westmorland, England. The “real” Agnes Ellwood married John Tallon in 1855, and was living in Illinois in 1860. In the 1861 English census the “false” Agnes Ellwood was still unmarried, still living with her parents, working as a dairymaid. In 1868 she married James Coulthwaite in Casterton, Westmorland, and they had a son John Henry Coulthwaite, who had a large family, and his mother Agnes was still living with them on the farm in Westmorland in 1911.

The Ellwood family seems to be a good one for showing the danger of online family trees, and of copying them without checking. We gave another example of this in our blog post on Jane Ellwood and the perils of online family trees.

Gravestone of Agnes Ellwood who married John Jackson Tallon. Hieronymus Cemetery, Armington, Illinois, USA

Gravestone of Agnes Ellwood who married John Jackson Tallon. Hieronymus Cemetery, Armington, Illinois, USA

But the truth about the “real” Agnes Ellwood who married John Jackson Tallon was there on her gravestone all along. She was born in 1833, not 1835, and so is much more likely to be the Agnes Ellwood, daughter of John Ellwood and Agnes Harrison, who was baptised in Colton, Lancashire on 10 February 1833 than she is to be the Agnes Ellwood who was born in Oddendale and baptised on 14 June 1835 in Crosby Ravensworth, Westmorland, daughter of John Ellwood and Mary Shepherd.

We have gathered quite a lot of information on this branch of the Ellwood family, and would gladly share it with other researchers, as a lot of other researchers have helped us. If you would like to have more information please ask, letting us know how you are linked to this family. Unfortunately, while there are many helpful family historians out there who are willing to exchange information, there are also a few “data leeches” who take whatever they can get and give nothing, so we will only give full information to those who can demonstrate their own link to the family. You can ask either in the comments, or on the Ellwood family forum here, or by using the form below:

 

We’ve been busy

We haven’t reported much here for a while, but it’s not for lack of research. We’ve actually been busier on family history research in the last couple of months than we have for a long time.

Val has been going through a family tree on the Ellwood family that someone sent us a while back, trying to verify and extend the descendant lines, mainly from Samuel Ellwood, son of Edmund Ellwood and Elizabeth Robinson of Westmorland, England. Samuels descendants seemed to live mainly in the Cartmel area of Lancashire, and spread out from there.

I’ve been chasing up some loose ends on the Cottam and Bagot families of Lancashire and will write more when I’ve checked some of the them.

Jane Ellwood and the perils of online family trees

Do you keep your primary genealogy data in an online family tree?

My advice is: Don’t.

If you use an online family tree, you should use it only as a back-up for you main data, or as a way of contacting other researchers. It is best to keep your data in a reliable genealogy program, on your own computer (with back-ups, of course).

We’ve been looking at a lot of online family trees lately, especially in connection with the Ellwood family, where the discovery of a link to several generations has opened up a lot of possibilities for more research, and shown a lot of people interested in various branches of the same family.

But we have also discovered that a lot of the online trees are full of errors, and the people who run the sites make it easy to propagate the errors by encouraging you to copy faulty research to your own tree. It also seems that in the some cases  online software actually creates and introduces errors that weren’t there in the first place. We’ve sent people GEDCOM files and when they’ve uploaded them to Ancestry.com, Geni.com, MyHeritage.com and other sites, they are full of errors that weren’t in the GEDCOM files we sent.

Here is an example where about 80% of the trees on Mundia/Ancestry were simply wrong.

There was a Jane Ellwood born about 1834/35 in Dufton, Westmorland, England.

She was the daughter of John Ellwood and Nancy Bell.

The majority of online family trees show her as married to Anthony Brunskill.

A much smaller number show her as married to John Ellison.

Since polygamy was illegal in England in that period, it is unlikely that she was married to both of them. So which is right?

You could take a majority vote, and say that since the majority of trees show she was married to Anthony Brunskill, that would be the correct conclusion, and the others must be wrong.

But that would be wrong.

A look at FreeBMD shows that Jane Ellwood married John Ellison in 1857.

And Jane Elwood married Anthony Brunskill in 1863.

So, logically, one should look at the 1861 census, when one Jane would be
married and the other wouldn’t.

But unfortunately in 1861 the unmarried Jane was not staying at home with her parents, but was staying with Robert Bellas Brunskill, and she is described as his sister-in-law, before she married his brother Anthony, who was also staying in the house.

That means that Robert Bellas Brunskill’s wife Bridget could be Jane’s sister, if we’re lucky.

Or, more remotely, that Robert had another sibling who married one of Jane’s other siblings.

It turns out that Bridget Brunskill’s maiden name was Ellwood, and she was
Jane’s sister.

Their parents were John Ellwood and Ann Bellas.

Note that a marriage certificate would not have solved this problem, because the father of both Janes was John.

So two Brunskill brothers married two Ellwood sisters, and what is more they were first cousins on the Bellas side. That doesn’t affect the identification much, though it does help to confirm it.

What is more, in 1861 Jane was staying with Bridget, in 1871 Bridget was staying with Jane.

So the Jane Ellwood who married Anthony Brunskill was the daughter of John Ellwood and Ann Bellas, and NOT the daughter of John Ellwood and Nancy Bell. The daughter of John and Nancy married John Ellison, but only a minority of
online family trees showed that.

Do you have these Janes in your family tree?

Make sure you have them attached to the right parents and the right husbands!

And be very careful with what you copy from online family trees. Ask the person who posted the tree where they got the information, and that they didn’t just incritically copy it from somewhere else. Unfortunately one of the other problems with family tree host sites is that they make it difficult for you to contact other researchers. They encourage you to use their own internal messaging system rather than regular e-mail, and sometimes to contact other researchers you have to pay to join that site. That is why they recommend it, of course. They want to get you to pay. But if one researcher you want to contact uses one site, and another uses another site, and yet another uses a third site, it can become quite exorbitantly expensive and time wasting.

Ellwood anomalies

Ellwood anomalies

Having recently discovered a whole lot more Ellwood ancestors, there are also a lot more descendants that we may be related to, and one of the things that we have discovered is that a large number of online family trees have links to the wrong families, with children who died in infancy being shown as having long lines of descendants and so on. One of the great dangers of online family trees is that they seem to encourage cut-and-paste genealogy.

John Ellwood (1748-?)

John Ellwood was born in Alston, Cumberland, in about 1748, the son of Thomas and Mary Ellwood.

Some researchers show him as married to Mary Gibson born in 1748 in Moresby, Cumberland, and having seven children, born in Whitehaven. At some point in the late 18th century the family moved to Scotland, where some of the children married, and some of them emigrated with their spouses to the USA.

Other researchers show this same John Ellwood as married to Elizabeth Hogg, and having a completely different set of children.They can’t both be right.

Eleanor Ellwood and Thomas Jaques (or Jacques)

In 1850 a Thomas Jaques (or Jacques) married an Eleanor Ellwood in Whitehaven, Cumberland.

Quite a number of online trees show Eleanor (born 1829) as the daughter of Robert Ellwood and Martha Saxton (or Saxon).

Now Robert Ellwood and Martha Saxon did indeed have a daughter Eleanor, but she was born in 1822, not 1829, and she probably died young. The Eleanor Ellwood who married Thomas Jaques in 1850 was probably born in 1829, but the one who was born in 1829 was the daughter of William and Ann Ellwood, and not the daughter of Robert and Martha.

We’ve looked at lots of online trees with Eleanor in them, in the hope that some researcher has found the antecedents of William and Ann Ellwood, to see if they link into the same Ellwood family somewhere, but so far we haven’t found any. Most of them have opted for the bogus link to Robert and Martha.

Incidentally, there was another Eleanor Ellwood, born in 1821, the daughter of Thomas and Sarah Ellwood, who married Richard Herring in 1846 and had descendants, but nobody seems to be interested in her, and she doesn’t seem to feature in anyone’s online tree.

So if you have Ellwood ancestors and are interesting in meeting cousins and other Ellwood researchers, please have a look at the Ellwood family forum. There you can share information and ask for help with research problems and so on, and perhaps we can resolve some of these anomalies if we work together.

 

Ellwood family of Whitehaven

We’ve just made contact with a previously unknown (to us) Ellwood cousin, Genie Zappanti of Arizona, USA, which has led us to some research done by Bruce Morrison, also of the USA, which has added several generations to our Ellwood family tree all at once.

Val’s maternal grandmother was Martha (Mattie) Ellwood, who married William Pearson in Pinetown, Natal, in 1913, and lived at 315 Main Road, Escombe, Natal.  They were both from Whitehaven, Cumberland, in England. After William Pearson died in 1956, Val’s gran went to live with them — they built on a granny flat, and she lived there for 12 years until she died in 1968. She wrote regularly to her brothers and sisters in Whitehaven, and they sent her the Whitehaven News, and so Val grew up hearing stories of the family in Whitehaven.

When we started our family history, therefore, the Ellwood side was quite easy, at least for a couple of generations back, because a lot of the material was at hand. But we were stuck with Val’s great great great grandparents, Robert and Martha Ellwood, and couldn’t get back any further than them.

One of the things genealogy text books tell you is that you should always get in touch with living relatives, and ask them what they know, and some of them may even be interested in family history. There’s no point in working hard to collect lots of information and draw up a family tree only to show it to a cousin who says, “Oh, Uncle George did all that years ago.”

But we started six years after Val’s grandmother died, and since she had died the family had not kept in touch with the Whitehaven relatives. So we wrote to the Whitehaven News, asking any Ellwood or Pearson relatives to get in touch.

Some did, and in some cases we remained in touch with them, especially some of Val’s mother’s double first cousins, Ralph and John Pearson. Their father, Ernest Pearson was the brother of William, and their mother was Margaret Ellwood, Mattie Ellwood’s sister. John Pearson’s wife, Norah, was an inveterate letter writer, and kept in touch for many years after John died, and we met her and her daughters Maxine Wincott and Zania McKenzie when we went to the UK in 2005. Ralph Pearson became interested in the family history after we had made contact with him, and collected a lot of information, especially on the Pearson side.

Thomas Ellwood (1845-1914)

Our letter in the Whitehaven News also elicited a response from a cousin we had not previously heard of, Mrs Mary Ann Tumilty of Elk Grove Village, Illinois in the USA. She happened to be visiting Whitehaven in the week that our letter was published, and when she got back to the USA wrote to say that she had a family Bible that had the dates of birth and death of all the children of Val’s great great grandparents, John Ellwood (1819-1892) and Bridget Anderson (1819-1876). That also revealed that Val’s great grandfather, Thomas Ellwood (1845-1914), had been born at Wingate Grange in County Durham, which was why we had not been able to find his birth certificate. Now, with resources such as FreeBMD, finding such things is relatively easy, but back in 1975 it wasn’t.

And now, 37 years later, we’ve made contact with another cousin in the USA, Genie Zappanti, who is also interested in the family history.

And through her we have also made the link to Bruce Morrison’s Ellwood Genealogy web site, which traces the Ellwood family back to the village of Dufton in Westmorland where they were farmers for several generations until some became miners. At first they were lead miners in nearby Alston, and later coal miners in Whitehaven.

 

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