Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Indian in the Family

Several years ago I was shown a letter that had been written to my great-aunt Jeanette Winchell Schwab in July 1970.  My Aunt Kate had it in her possession and I finally learned of it 36 years later.  I don’t know why it took so long for me to read it because the letter was written in response to a visit my parents and I made to my aunt a long time ago.  
Jeanette Winchell
Aunt Jeanette had asked the author what tribe the Indian in the family came from.  She had no idea but gave some valuable information on the Daniel Hoyt family from which she and Jeanette was descended.  This is what the author wrote about her family:
“…Daniels wife Nancy died Aug 4 1808 [in Hudson, Columbia County, NY] leving him with 6 children 7 mos to 12 yrs.  It is supposed that he took in the Indian maiden to help him with the children.  There is no entry in the Bible for his marriage but there is the birth of 2 more children recorded.  Edward born Mar 1 1810 and William Henry born Nov 10- 1812.  It is William Henry from whom the Snyders are descended….”
Hudson was in the ancestral land of the Mohicans.  It was quite likely “the Indian maiden” was Mohican, although members of others tribes have been known to travel up and down the river.  I grew up in Columbia County and I have not heard of members of other nations settling here in the 1800s, only in the recent past.
 The Snyders the letter writer refers to are  the descendants of John Martin Snyder and Jane Frances Hoyt.  John was born 8 April 1836 in Athens, Greene County, NY, the son of Jacob Snyder and Hannah Marquart.  Jane was born 24 April 1845 in Columbia County, NY, possibly in Claverack.  I believe they met at Moffat’s Store in the Town of Ghent, Columbia County.  Their first son was born in Latham, Albany County.  By 1870 the family had moved to West Stockbridge, Berkshire County, Massachusetts.  Eventually they settled on North Plain Road outside of Housatonic in the same county.  Jane also had a sister Loretta who had married Joseph Donsbough and settled in Sheffield, Berkshire County, but there is no mention of that family.
This passage puzzled me and I’ve pursued the mystery for a while: 
 “Frederic & Lena looked up records in South Egremont and found that a member of the Winchell family was recorded legally married to an indian girl.  The daughter of this marriage became the mother of Frederick’s grandfather and father of Lillian Warner who married G. Franklin Snyder.
I think when he told me of this he mentioned the tribe name but if he did I don’t remember.  I did not have any of this writen at all.  I asked him Do you mean this Winchell family up here on Hart St.  He said yes.  I don’t know how near a relative it was who married the indian I think he mentioned the first name but I don’t remember. Any way it gives Frederic Indian on both sides of his family through his great grandmother Warner.  I remember seeing her when I was a girl.  She lived in the extra apartment on the back of Warners house with daughter Grace Warner. None of this may affect you.  I doubt that it does but thought I should at least mention it.
 Do you remember Guy Warner at all Aunt Lils brother?  He used to tell Frederick when he was a boy that his wife Cora used to twit him about having indian blood.  That is what started them looking up records in South Egremont.”
 It posed a few questions and now I have some of the answers.  I finally had the time and the ability to trace back Lillie Warner’s family.  She was born Lillie M. Warner, not Lillian, 31 Jul 1872 in the Town of Great Barrington, Berkshire County, Massachusetts.  Her parents were Nathaniel Warner and Paulina Lewis.  Nathaniel’s parents were Asahel Warner and Julia Winchell.  I didn’t find this information until I found Frederick’s application to the Sons of the American Revolution where he listed her name.  Using I located Julia’s death record in which her parents George Winchell and Sarah Livingston were listed.  She was a daughter to my great-great-grandparents who I never knew existed until last week!  She is the “Indian girl” the letter writer referred to.  This seems to be more evidence for my opinion that George’s father Eliakim married an Indian girl himself.   George was only 1/8 Indian.  Since at least two of his sons were marked as part Indian on the census, it seemed likely that George’s mother was Native too.
Within my family there is now a unique relationship among some of its members.  G. Franklin Snyder’s sister Alice B. Snyder married Henry F. Winchell in 1895.  They had ten children and five lived to adulthood.  Not only were G. Franklin Snyder and Lillie Warner’s children Carl, Frederick, Donald, Clifford and Rolland related to their aunt Alice, they were also related to their uncle Henry Winchell.  His family is also one of my research interests.  
Frederick M. Snyder, the previous family historian
 You may ask that now we know Frederick Snyder was probably Mohican on his father’s side, what about his mother’s?  Julia Winchell is a descendant of John Van Gilder, who was Mohican and Wappinger.  It is likely that her grandfather Eliakim’s wife was a Mohican woman, although she could have been a member of another tribe from Connecticut or Massachusetts.  Some of the Native groups in western New England today have ancestors who were refugees from eastern New England.  
 The author gave more information on the immediate family, which has been troublesome to document.  Cousin Frederick M. Snyder had the Daniel Hoyt bible. He had no children, so I hope one of his nieces or nephews has it.  I have been looking into this family and they all disappeared down into New York City!  I haven’t been able to locate a marriage record for son William Henry and Elizabeth Clapper.  I haven’t been able to document their daughter Christine or her husband. 
The last question this letter poses is who wrote it.  The author had to meet these conditions:  female, niece to G. Franklin Snyder and Lillie Warner, had a grandmother Snyder, be alive in 1970 and have a female relative Beth married 15 April 1970 in the Episcopal Church at Stockbridge.  I’ve been able to narrow the choices to two women:  Maud Snyder, daughter of William H. Snyder and Elizabeth Goodhind and wife of Atwood Gallup and Edith Evelyn Snyder, daughter of Frederick G. Snyder and Sarah Kerrigan and wife of Arthur Flavey or Falvey from New York State.  I need to look into Beth’s marriage to determine which woman it was.  With the price of gas these days I don’t hop over into Berkshire County as much as I used to.
Maud Snyder Gallup
This investigation makes me wonder how much Frederick M. Snyder discovered of his family, did he answer all of his questions and how much did I have to repeat.  I won’t know, but I’m publishing this to make it easier for the next relative who gets curious.  In addition, because of the information on Daniel Hoyt’s second partner, my effort to research the ancestors of Alice B. Snyder in honor of her children has grown into a further effort to document the descendants of Mohican people in the original homeland.  


I have since learned that the author of the letter was Maud Snyder Gallup.

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