Lora C. Jenks: Civil War Veteran

Lora C. Jenks was born around 1820 in Oswego County, New York. Very likely his father was Nathan Jenks, and his mother is still unknown to me. I have no birth or baptism record for Lora. In fact the first record I have for him is his purchase of a tract of land in Ionia County, Michigan on March 1, 1850. A few months later he is found in Ronald Township, Ionia County, in the 1850 census. By this time Lora has already married Almira Nettleton, and fathered four children. Sarah, the oldest (and my direct ancestor), was born in 1841, then came Nathan (1843), Margaret (1846), and Alvira (1849). 10 years later, Lora had moved across the county line, but only about 10 miles north, to Bushnell Township, Montcalm County, Michigan. He has had another son, George, and is still a modest farmer. But all this time the United States had been becoming more and more divided, and the Civil War was about to tear the country apart.

jenks, lora - muster roll
Lora C. Jenk’s muster roll

April 12, 1861: the first shots of the Civil Wars are fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina.

November  02, 1861: Lora C. Jenks enlists as a Musician in the Michigan 13th Infantry Regiment.

April 07, 1862: The 13th Michigan takes part in the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee.

April 30, 1862: Lora is promoted to “Full Sergeant”.

May 1862: The 13th Michigan fights in the Siege of Corinth, Mississippi.

October 01, 1862: Lora is promoted to “Full Principal Musician”.

December 1862-January 1863: The 13th Michigan fights in the Battle of Stones River, Tennessee.

From the regimental history:

The regiment was engaged at Stone River the 30th and 31st of December, 1862, and in January, 1863, where it distinguished itself by its desperate valor and was most warmly commended for the heroic work that checked the onward rush of the confederate forces. The brigade of which the Thirteenth formed a part was commanded by Colonel Charles G. Harker, and was detached from its division and sent to the extreme right of the Union line, where the enemy had crushed that wing, when it formed a line in the immediate front of the confederates and a desperate conflict commenced. The Union forces were steadily pressed back by the enemy, but the Thirteenth held its position until nearly surrounded, when it fell back a short distance and reformed, continually showing a bold front to the enemy. Colonel Shoemaker ordered a bayonet charge and the Thirteenth sprang forward with a yell, driving the enemy from the field in confusion and capturing a large number of prisoners. The regiment lost nearly one third of its strength in killed and wounded in the action on this part of the field. It recaptured two pieces of artillery of the Sixth Ohio Battery, which had been abandoned when the Union forces were driven back by the furious onslaught of the enemy.


September 1863: The 13th Michigan fights in the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia.

It proceeded almost at once to Chickamauga, where it was engaged the 19th and 20th of September, coming in contact with the enemy near Lee and Gordon’s Mills, and before the close of the battle, lost 107 killed, wounded and missing out of a total of 217, the number of officers and men the regiment carried into action. Such a record tells how the Thirteenth sustained its part in this historic engagement far more eloquently than words can describe.

January 1864: The 13th Michigan Regiment “veteranized” and 173 men, including Lora, re-enlisted.

September 03, 1864: Lora’s son, Henry Jenks, enlists in the 13th Michigan.

November-December 1864: The 13th Michigan joins in the Savannah Campaign, better known as Sherman’s March to the Sea.

March, 1865: The Regiment fights in the Battle of Bentonville, Georgia.

April 9, 1865: Robert E. Lee surrenders to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, officially ending the Civil War.

April 26, 1865: The 13th Michigan is with William Tecumsah Sherman when he accepts Joseph E. Johnson’s surrender at Bennett Place in the largest surrender of the war.

July 25, 1865: The 13th Michigan Regiment, including Lora C. Jenks, musters out at Louisville, Kentucky.

Destroying rail line on Sherman’s March to the Sea

Both Lora, and his son Henry, had survived the war that claimed so many lives. And looking at the 1870 census we see that the last of Lora’s children, Lincoln, was born in 1861. A baby boy, named after the President leading the country during  a great civil war, spent his first years growing up without a father. The father, who named his son after the great leader, believed in the cause enough to not only leave his baby boy, but to re-enlist after an already dangerous three years. In 1870 Lora has gone back to Bushnell, Montcalm County, and has beaten the metaphorical sword back into a plowshare. He is, however, much more well off. His property, worth $200 in 1850 and $400 in 1860, is worth a stunning $8,000 in 1870. Lora has done well for himself after the war. Not only that, but it seems like Lora became a citizen of some standing in the local community. In 1866 and 1868 he is named as one of Bushnell Townships “County Supervisors”. Then, in 1872 he is appointed to be the postmaster of Vickeryville in Montcalm County, Michigan. But Lora’s rise was cut short, and on the 17th of June, 1875, Lora died of “consumption” (tuberculosis). Interestingly, on his death record the occupation is listed as “Merchant”, even though 5 years earlier he is still listed as a farmer in the census. And unfortunately the death record does not give the name of his parents, but as a Nathan Jenks is the father of a few other Jenks kicking around Montcalm County around the same time, he is likely Lora’s father as well. It seems that Lora survived a terribly dangerous 4 year ordeal, only to be brought down by disease when he was finally becoming well off.

jenks, lora - gravestone 01
Lora C. Jenks – Headstone

David Peters: Living in Victorian England

David Peters is my 3rd great grandfather through my paternal grandmother’s line. He is the first in my 52 Ancestors series to not be American. He was born, lived, and died in England. There is no birth certificate for David, but he was baptized on the 20th of August, 1829 in Steyning, Sussex, England, the son of Philip Peters and Eleanor Evans. The Anglican parish church in Steyning where he was baptized, St. Andrew (and St. Cuthman), is also where King Alfred the Great’s father, King Aethelwulf of Wessex, was originally buried. The next time we see David he is living with his parents in Upper Beeding in the 1841 English census.

Ten years later, in 1851, David is living in Lower Lancing as a lodger in the household of Thomas Hacker and is employed as a “Garden Laborer”. Less than a month later, on April 19, David would wed Thomas’ daughter Amy in the parish church of Lancing. David and Amy lived in Lancing for the rest of their long lives. They had nine children, five girls and four boys. Right in the middle of the pack was my great great grandfather David Herbert Peters, who emigrated to the United States around 1885. Why the younger David chose to emigrate to the United States, I don’t really know. I’m sure he could have been well off working in the family business. Perhaps he had a falling out with the family, or maybe he believed America offered better opportunities for him or his children, or maybe he was just the adventuresome sort.

David Peters and Amy Hacker’s Wedding Record

In the 1861 census the elder David is still listed as an agricultural laborer, but by the time of the 1871 census, he had become a coal merchant. David ran a successful coal business for the rest of his life and passed it down to his son-in-law. One of David’s daughter, Emma, married a man named George Lisher. David’s son Thomas, along with George Lisher took over the family business, and even expanded into dairy and eggs as well. Eventually, after Thomas’ death, the Lisher family took over the entire business. George’s granddaughter, Evelyn Farrant, remembered the coal and dairy business in a local history piece that ran in the West Sussex Gazette.

1871 Census showing David as a Coal Merchant living at the Railway Hotel.

 At first glance it may seem like David did not live a very exciting life. We see him baptized, grow up in the censuses, get married, have children of his own, start his own business, and grow old. But I’m sure David’s life was full of joy and sorrow, expectations and disappointments. Most of his life was lived during the reign of Queen Victoria. Perhaps he wondered if Great Britain would take aside in the American Civil War. What did he think when he heard the news of the Boer Wars or the Boxer Rebellion? The advent of British Rail system probably allowed him to become a successful merchant in coal. In fact, the first time he listed in the census as a coal merchant, he is living in the railway hotel, probably to be close to his client base. David died when he was 79 yeas old, on the 29th of July 1909, essentially of old age. His wife Amy would follow two years later.  His life was long and full, and he was a part of history.

Queen Victoria (r. 1837-1901) – David’s Queen for the majority of his life.

Władysław Filip von Kornaszewski: Nobleman?


Władysław Filip von Kornaszewski was born in what was, at the time, Strelno, Bromberg, Posen, Prussia (now Strzelno in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian province of Poland) around the year 1845. Outside of his birthplace, I know nothing about his early years. I have yet to find a baptism record for him in the old country, or indications of who his parents might be. He must have moved north to the area around Putzig (now Puck) where he met his wife Antonia Grabowski. She was baptized in Putzig, and their first children Edward/Edmund and Leokadia were baptized there as well. Family lore says that Władysław was a “veltsman” for Kaiser Wilhelm in one of his palaces, and that was how he met Antonia, who was a maid in the same palace. I have yet to find any confirmation of this story, and there certainly don’t seem to be any Prussian/German royal palaces around Putzig. At any rate, Władysław  and Antonia were married sometime before 1874 when their first child (either Edmund or Leokadia, or perhaps both, the records are unclear) was born. Their first four children were born in Prussia between 1874 and 1882.

On September 13, 1883 a 31 year old “Wladislaw Kornazewski” arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, having departed from Bremen, Germany on the “General Werder”. A year and half later, April 20, 1885, “Wl. Kornoszchefsky”, 40 years old and traveling with Antonia (35), Edmund (7), Leokadia (6), Stanislaus (3), and Gregor (2), arrive in New York aboard the “Martha” departing from Gothenburg and Stettin. The second record is obviously the right Władysław and his family. I’m not sure whether the first record is an entirely different person (based on the age) or perhaps a reconnaissance trip and he later came back to Prussia for the rest of the family

The SS General Werder. Possibly the first ship Władysław arrived on.
Władysław and family listed in passenger registry of the “Martha”, 1885.


The family made their way to Chicago, Illinois and only a few months later, July 5, 1885, Władysław and Antonia’s first American-born child, Helene, was baptized in St. Alphonsus Catholic Church. Sadly, Helene died in September, barely a few months old. Władysław  happened to also be listed in the 1885 city directory for Lakeview (at the time just outside the city limits of Chicago) and was living at 456 Southport Avenue. Over the next 6 years, 4 more children were born; Anselm Andrew in 1886, Alphons in 1888, Elizabeth in 1889 (who also died after only a few months), and the youngest, my great grandfather Alois in 1891. All of the children were baptized at St. Alphonsus, a German parish established almost at the same time Władysław arrived in Chicago. Interestingly, in the baptism records for Helene, Anselm, and Alphons (the first three childen born in America), Władysław has the German “von” added before his last name. Although not always the case, the “von” can sometimes be an indicator of German nobility. Only in these few church records, however, is the “von” present. The earlier baptisms in Prussia do not have the “von”, although those records are transcriptions, so it may be there in the originals. It also seems as if Władysław  dropped the preposition later during his time in America as the later of his children’s baptisms and his death records do not show the “von” as part of his name. This “von”, however, is the only indication that there might be a kernel of truth to the story of Władysław  working for the Kaiser.

kornaszewski, anselm - baptism record (highlighted)
Anselm’s Baptism Record with Władysław’s full name including the “von”
The interior of the second St. Alphonsus church, completed 1897, just two years before Władysław died.

On September 17, 1892, Władysław was granted his final papers and became a naturalized citizen of the United States of America. A month later he registered to vote in the City of Chicago. The 27th of November, 1899, while the Chicago Drainage Canalwas in the final stages of construction, Władysław died of Typhoid Fever. During the last half of the 19th century Chicago had one of the highest death rates from typhoid fever in the world, until reversal of the Chicago River in 1892 (during the process of constructing the canal), and the chlorination of the city’s water supply beginning in 1912.

A photograph of the Kornaszewski family taken soon after Władysław’s death. His painted portrait is included and is the only picture I have of him.

Jennie Dundon: An Enigmatic Life

Dundon, Jennie E. - Headstone
Jennie’s Headstone from FindaGrave.com

Jennie Dundon was my paternal grandfather’s maternal grandmother (if you follow that), making her my great great grandmother. According to her headstone, she was born September 22, 1872 and died February 8, 1905, a young mother in the prime of her life. The parents listed on her death certificate are “John Trembal” and “Martha Dondon”. The earliest record I can find for Jennie is the 1880 census for Clinton County, Michigan, where she is listed as “Jennie Mccrae” with her grandparents James and Elzada Dundon, and presumably her mother “Martha Mccrae”. Looking into Clinton County marriage records we find that Martha Dundon had been married, first to Simeon TenEyck in 1876, and then to John McRae in 1878. But neither of these men match the father of Jennie on her death certificate, and she was already 4 years old by the time of thefirst marriage. So who is Jennie’s father?

Jennie “Mcrae” in the 1880 census

Jumping back in time to the 1870 census (2 years before Jennie was born) we find Martha’s parents (Jennie’s grandparents) James and Elzada in Clinton County. In the next house Ferdinand Trombly, age 38, is enumerated, with Martha Trombly, age 19. Also in the household are Eliza (16), Mary (14), Joseph (13), and Louisa (11). It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that Martha could, in fact, be a child of Ferdinand (who would have been 19 when she was born), but to lend evidence to the theory that 1870 Martha Trombly was actually Martha Dundon we have to jump back even further. One “Ferdinand Trombley” is found in the 1860 census in Detroit, Michigan. He is 28 years old. Enumerated with him are Mary (23, presumably his wife), Eliza (5), Mary (4), Jeremiah (3), and Louisa (1). The ages for Ferdinand, Eliza, Mary, and Louisa all match perfectly. Presumably Jeremiah is the same person as Joseph, with either the census taker mistaking the name, or possibly being listed one of those times as his first name and one as his middle name (this happens fairly often in census records). This leaves Mary.  It’s doubtful that Mary and Martha are the same person due to the large age difference. My theory is that Mary dies sometime between 1870 and 1880, and Ferdinand and his children move to Clinton County where Martha Dundon takes up with him. I have yet to find any marriage record for Ferdinand and Martha, the only evidence of marriage is her last name in the 1880 census. Martha’s children variously go by Dundon, TenEyck, or McRae throughout their lives, but never Trombly, even though both Jennie and at least one other sibling (Frances) were born before Martha’s first recorded marriage to Simeon TenEyck. I believe that Martha and Ferdinand had, at the very least, some sort of common-law type marriage, even if they were never officially married. I also believe that Ferdinand Trombly is the “John Trembal”  listed as father on Jennie’s birth certificate.

Martha “Trombly” in the 1870 Census

Jennie got married at 15 or 16, early even for those days, perhaps because of her unstable childhood. She married my great great grandfather, George Conklin on April 22, 1888. According to the birth date on her headstone she would have been 15, but the marriage record says 16. She may have lied about her age so she could get married (or her headstone could be wrong). Jennie and George had 2 boys and 3 girls, one of whom was my great grandmother Cora Conklin. By 1900 the family had moved to Lansing, and in another 5 years Jennie has died of Pneumonia at (as her death certificate records) “about 30 years” old. George would later remarry, and unfortunately the only picture I have of him is with his second wife, as the woman in the picture is listed as “Grandma Conklin”, but is much too old to have been Jennie.

conklin, george & jennie dundon - marriage record
George A. Conklin & Jennie “Dundy” Marriage Record

It’s slightly strange that the period in her life that seems most stable is the time I know the least a about. Her childhood is a confusing mess of information, while her married life seems placid in contrast. I hope that she found some happiness in her marriage and children before she left this world so young.

dundon, jennie - death certificate
Jennie Dundon Conklin’s Death Certificate

Am I Jewish?

The short answer? No.

But that wouldn’t necessitate a blog post, now would it?

I was raised Roman Catholic, the faith my mother grew up in. My father was raised Methodist, the faith of both his parents. In fact his great grandfather, John Augustine Moray was a fairly prominent Methodist Protestant minister in Michigan. So then you might ask why would I even consider the fact I might be Jewish? If you happened to read my last post about Israel Morey (John’s father, my 3rd Great Grandfather, and my last known paternal ancestor) then you know I (or technically my dad, but because the results apply to me as well, I will use “I” for the rest of the post) recently learned that my Y-DNA haplogroup is J1 or J-M267 (two terms for the same group). Specifically, a subclade of this group that has strong Jewish orientation. In fact, one of the J1 project administrators believes my particular subclade (J-PF7263/64 for those of you who are interested) was a Jewish group originating in France around 800 AD, which then spread out to different parts of Europe including Germany, Spain, and the Ukraine. So, I may have paternal Jewish ancestry dating back to over a thousand years ago.

But does this make me Jewish? According to traditional Jewish law, Halakha, one’s status as a Jew descends through the maternal line, not the paternal (though special status is often inherited paternally), so even if my 50th great grandfather was a Jew…once one of the males in the line between him and I changed religions…that’s the end of the line.

My closest Y-DNA matches are descended from a Pierre Morin dit Boucher, and it is likely I am also a direct descendant. Pierre was born in France and immigrated to Acadia and then New France in what is now Canada. He is the last known paternal ancestor of the Morin line to which I likely belong, he was born in the early 1600s, and he was Catholic. So if my ancestors really were Jewish, at what point in the 800 years between my subclade appearing in France, and the birth of Pierre Morin dit Boucher did they change their faith? Will I ever get closer to figuring out why? Possibly. The paper trail could push back from Pierre, with the possibility of finding Jewish ancestors. Or as more people are taking DNA tests for genealogy, and as those tests become more sophisticated I may be able to push the knowledge of my DNA closer to the present.

Now…who knows if there’s any Jewish ancestry on my Mom’s side…maybe I’m Jewish after all.