Sunday, January 12, 2014

52 Ancestors - Week 2 - Rebecca "Peggy" Bennett

I think I might be developing a theme so far for these blog posts. This week will also be a female brick wall. I have a total of three brick wall women so far in this line - if I just had more time and easier access to Virginia records, I could kick them down! Time and distance are my biggest genealogical enemies. :(

This week features Rebecca or Peggy Bennett. She was my third great grandmother. As with Margaret Maurer, I know nothing about her until after her marriage. I try to look into her every once in awhile, and recently I had an idea as to who her family might be, but so far have not had a chance to look any further into it.

Rebecca was born about 1787, per the census records. That's about all I have for a birth record. One census record lists Loudoun, VA, as her place of birth. I don't really know yet. It would be great if she was, I have a lot of historical context for the Loudoun area up to the Civil War.

The next record I have is the marriage record, as reported in Vogt and Kethley's Virginia Marriages 1775-1850.  15 December 1807, Abraham Shaver and Peggy Bennett are married, bondsman is Thomas Hommon. New Market, Shenandoah, VA.

Now this is where I think I might have a clue. There aren't any Bennetts in the New Market, Shenandoah VA area, so I was thinking that Rebecca might be a Bennett by marriage, and that perhaps Hommon (or Hamman) might be her maiden name, based on the bondsman's name. Here's the other clue:

In the records from 200 Years in the Shenandoah Valley by A.P. Kelley, he lists “William Benason was born into the world the 12 August in the year 1804 and baptized. Sponsor: Barba Hammon” (sic)--yet all the other children under Abraham and Rebecka are written as "to me was born into the world..." (see below for document...)
Per Pine Church Baptisms by Klaus Wust, under Abraham Schafer and Rebecka: Willem Benat (?)[1]was born 12 Aug 1804. Sponsor Barbara Hamman.

So obviously this child was born prior to their marriage and has the name Bennett/Benat/Benason. (Remember that Klaus and Arthur were transcribing these documents from the German Lutheran Church take all spellings with a grain of salt!) But the catch is that Thomas Hamman was married to Elizabeth Shaffer/Shaver, the sister of Abraham ~ so maybe Barbara Hamman was Thomas's sister and sponsor of the child, and maybe his name was William Bennett Shaffer. The date makes me think not, but I just don't know what to think at the moment. It still could be that Thomas Hamman married Elizabeth Shaffer and Abraham Shaffer married Rebecca Hamman, but I don't see a Rebecca Hamman so far in anything I've looked at. I'm still going to follow that as a possibility.

Oh and one other thing, there was a post on a message board about a John Homman b. 1770 in Loudoun, VA who married Polly Foltz in 1800. They had George, Jacob, Maria, and Anna Catherine according to the message board post. But that doesn't mean he could not also be the father of Rebecca (maybe a previous marriage) -- the Loudoun, VA birth caught my eye. Will have to explore further. 

Anyway, Rebecca and Abraham had these children: (per the Pine Church baptismal records)
Absolom (1820-1906)

I have copies of the 1860 and 1870 census as my next record in her timeline. Clearly I need to sit down and do more with this family! Abraham died (according to others) 15 July 1867, and I'll go with this for now til I have proof, but he is missing from the 1870 census so he obviously died between 1860-1870. In 1870 Rebecca lives with her son Philip and his family. This census states she cannot write. She is not found in the 1880 census, and some say she died 23 February 1878, so I'll go with this til I have proof as well.

So my job will be to search for the connection, if there is one other than Elizabeth Shaffer, between the Homman/Hamman family and the Bennett family. Then hopefully connect Rebecca to one or the other and figure out who she is.

Addendum 1-14-14:  I just noticed an interesting discrepancy. Klaus Wust's Old Pine Church Baptisms 1783-1828 lists Abraham and Rebecka's first child (after the mysterious William) as Jacob. His sponsors were Jacob Nes (Neese/Nehs) and wife. Arthur Pierson Kelley's transcription of the same records lists the first child as David, with the sponsor David Ness and wife. Ahhh the perils of secondary sources! Especially ones transcribing a foreign language! But I am pretty sure there was not a David Neese (Nehs/Ness). If there are any Neese family out there you could confirm for me. (I do not have a Klaus Wust's OPC Baptisms scanned, but I do own the book. The record in question is on page 39, should you care to check it out - here is the APK 200 Years in the Shenandoah Valley record:)

[1] (?) is actually how it is in the book!


  1. Are your Zirlkes from the Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia by way of Philadelphia in colonial times?

  2. Hi Schalene! Yes they are! Descended from Michael Zirkle, who came to VA from PA after his father Ludwig died. Michael was born in 1735 in PA. He served in the Rev War in VA. Are you also a descendant of Michael or one of his brothers? I would love to connect.