Archive for August, 2011

Diadamia Hopkins Shepherd – The Clue in the Deed

A diadem is a crown or sign of royalty. My diadem is Diadamia (Hopkins) Shepherd is one of my g g grandmothers, and her origins were a bit of a mystery until I found a deed with a clue.

Deeds, especially in the early Americas, should not be overlooked, for in them are found many clues. A deed not only gives you the physical location of an ancestor, the names of his neighbors and witnesses, who were often family, and the date a property is sold, but it can also give you the name of his wife.

David Shepherd lived in Rutland County Vermont, and like most American males in that area and time period,  he owned property. When a man sold his property his wife was interviewed and given the opportunity to give consent or objection to the sale of the land. This was important because, as his wife, she owned 1/3 interest, or dower rights to any property her husband owned. Her giving her approval was necessary to clear the title to the land.

In the many land transactions of David, his wife Diadamia was interviewed and her first name ‘Diadamia’ is recorded. It occurs with a number of different spellings, but always linked to David Shepherd. By looking at the land records I knew her first name, but nothing of her maiden name or her origins. My big clue came on one particular land sale. The deed mentions that -David and Diadamia Shepherd were selling land that she received ‘as an heir of Wait Hopkins, late of Bennington Vermont.

At first I didn’t know why she was an heir, she could have been a daughter, a niece or a granddaughter of Wait Hopkins, but now I had another name, Wait Hopkins, the fact that he was deceased, and a place to look, Bennington Vermont.

Further research told me that Wait Hopkins, of Bennington Vermont, was one of the Green Mountain Boys, and was killed in the Revolutionary War. A check at the 1st Congregational Church in Bennington, which would have been the church in the area at this time gave more clues. The Reverend Jedediah Dewey was the 1st minister of this 1st Church in Bennington. He was one of the ‘Black Cloak Brigade’ . These were ministers who supported the Revolution kept their congregations fired up with their pro independence sermons.

The Church has, of course, a cemetery, records of members, and records of burials and baptisms.  One name on the lists of members was Wait Hopkins. In these church records found the baptism of Diadamia Hopkins  “baptized by her grandfather Reverend Jedediah Dewey at Bennington, Vermont on February 28, 1768″, and the names of her parents Wait Hopkins and Mindwell Dewey.

There were many other records found in that little church among the baptisms, marriages and burials, and I found them as a result of a ” clue in a deed”.

As a guest blogger a version of this blog was also posted on http://lessonslearnedingenealogyresearch.blogspot.com/ Lessons Learned in Genealogy Research is maintained by Sandra Hammons and is a place where you can go to learn about how to do your genealogy research.

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This tip obviously will not work for everyone, but, if you are looking for the maiden name of a woman and you are looking after 1937, you might try the Social Security Death Index [SSDI]. There are a number of SSDI sites that will let you search by first name only. You may find her under her maiden name, if she didn’t have it changed on her Social Security Card, or the maiden name may be part of her name as a middle name or initial.

I searched for my mother Julia and entered her known death date. It came up with her name as Julia F. Bliss.  Of course I knew that was her, but the middle initial could have given me a clue to her surname. The “F” in her name stands for her maiden name. As I also knew her sisters, I did a first name search for them as well and they also used the middle initial of F. Some women continued through their lives using a maiden name a part of their name. It may be worth a try.

If you don’t know the exact birth date, you can also limit your results by birth year or by the state in which they died. If you find them in the SSDI it will give their birth date, and the month and year of their death. If you are certain that is your person, and cost isn’t an issue, you could send for their Social Security Packet, which will have the information they filled out at the time they received their Social Security card. Be aware that their application may or may not have included the names of their parents. Copies of these papers range from $27.00 – $29.00 depending on how much information you give them to search with.

The SSDI is available on ancestry.com and worldvitalrecords.com if you have a membership to either. It is, however, free at RootsWeb  and at American Ancestors/New England Historical Society NEHGS. RootsWeb is the easiest to use and NEHGS is generally updated more often. Again, this may not work for your ancestor, but the searches are fast and cost you only a bit of time.

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Women and immigration/naturalization in a Nutshell

Practices for women becoming citizens of the US have changed over the years. Depending on the year, a woman could be naturalized with her husband, called derivative citizenship, or lose her citizenship because she married an alien. It is important when looking for Immigration Records to understand the law that was in effect during the time period you are researching.

  • 1804 A widow and children of an alien who dies before filing his final papers are eligible for US Citizenship.
  • 1855 an alien woman who marries a US citizen is automatically naturalized. This was repealed in 1922.
  • 1907 The Expatriation Act states that a woman who is a US citizen and who married an alien loses her citizenship and takes on the nationality of her husband. This was repealed in 1922, but citizenship was not restored until 1936
  • 1922 The Cable Act gives independent citizenship for woman twenty-one years of age and over. Derivative citizenship is discontinued.
  • 1924 Indians born within the territorial limits of the US can be citizens.
  • 1943 Asian women can become citizens.

When searching for naturalization for a female you will often need to look at the records of her husband, or her father. First try to find a Declaration of Intention [also called First Papers]. Often when an alien arrived they would file these to declare their intent to remain in the United States. These papers will give you:

    • Their name
    • Country of birth or allegiance
    • A few will show the date and port of arrival [much more detail if you are looking after 1906]
    • Normally there needed to be a period of proof of residency before the person became a citizen. This time requirement jumped all over the place from 5 to 14 years, depending, again, on the time period. The exception might be if a person married a US citizen or served honorably in the military.

After the residency requirement was met the applicant would file a formal application. Generally minor children, who were not born in the US, would derive their citizenship from their father when he was naturalized. This was the case for women also, who could derive citizenship from their spouses until 1922.

The census from 1900-1930 can help as it tells whether a person was naturalized. NA=Naturalized; AL=Alien; PA=First Papers Filed.

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