Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Photo - Kensington Morning Run

The set below comes from a morning run through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens in London. During the week of meetings we were blessed with sunny skies and warm temperatures. Hyde Park includes the famed Speakers Corner, and is connected to the neighboring Kensington Gardens and Palace. On this particular morning I did a 5 mile loop through the parks.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Hyde Park, 19 Jun 2014.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Kensington Gates, 19 Jun 2014.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Kensington Palace.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Italian Gardens.

James Bond cars up close

Before diving into the mix of meetings last week, I had the chance to visit the London Film Museum's Bond in Motion exhibition. This is the largest official exhibition of vehicles from the Bond movies. I think I've seen just about every movie in the Bond series, so it was very cool to see some of the iconic cars and Q creations up close.
Photo by Patrick Jones, Moonraker story board, London Film Museum
Photo by Patrick Jones. Bond's Aston Martin.
Photo by Patrick Jones. The Jetpack.
Photo by Patrick Jones. The Lotus submarine car.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Rosetta Stone

On Wednesday I was able to spend a few hours at the amazing British Museum in London. When you walk into the main entrance, the Rosetta Stone is behind glass right at the front of the museum. A replica Rosetta Stone can also be seen (and touched!) in the King's Library hall. Below are a few photos.
Photo by Patrick Jones. British Museum, London
Photo by Patrick Jones. 18 Jun 2014
Photo by Patrick Jones. Rosetta Stone replica up close.
It was impressive to see the original but the replica allows you to really get close and see the different scripts (Ancient Egyptian, Demotic and Greek). I'll have more photos later in the week from the British Museum and a very cool James Bond exhibit from another museum.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Wolf Scalp Bounty

In 1788 the corner of southwestern Pennsylvania that made up Washington County was still wilderness. Wolves were a common problem. The county offered a bounty for wolf scalps. The image below is a fantastic find, written on 8 September 1788 by my 7th-great-grandfather Henry Vanmatre when we was Washington County Commissioner. The receipt was provided to Thomas Hughes (husband of Elizabeth Swan Hughes, daughter of John Swan), giving him one pound five shillings in exchange for a well-grown wolf scalp.
Photo provided by Caliban Books
The image is part of a larger set of 100 bounty receipts currently held by Caliban Books in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Huge thanks go to the staff at Caliban Books for sending me a photo of one written by Henry Vanmatre. There are six other receipts signed by Henry, to the following individuals:
- Peter Daley, 1787
- James Hughes, 1788
- John Rosso, 1789
- Samuel Lakin, 1789
- Daniel Steward, 1789

It is great to see his signature on this document, from almost 226 years ago.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Moderating a Dispute

From the minutes of the Pennsylvania Archives, 1782 (via, p. 566):
The passage above refers to a dispute over land in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania. Some of the residents wanted to remain under the jurisdiction of Virginia. Henry Vanmeter participated in a committee (representing those supporting Virginia). Ultimately the land became part of the Pennsylvania.

A map from the West Virginia Genweb shows the competing claims in 1782 (see also Wikipedia entry on the District of West Augusta):

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Justice of the Peace

In continuing to look through the references to Henry Vanmatre (also spelled Vanmetre or Vanmeter), I have found that he served as Justice of the Peace in Cumberland, Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1782 (elected 3 April 1782, History of Washington County).
Source: History of Washington County, p. 267
A longer description of his election in February 1785 appears in the minutes of the Supreme Executive Council from Philadelphia:

Henry was later elected as Washington County Commissioner in 1788.
Source: Pennsylvania Archives
Other sources note that Henry also served as Greene County Treasurer from 1801 until his death.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Henry Vanmatre's Will

The story of my 7th-great-grandfather Henry Vanmatre (also spelled Vanmetre or Vanmeter) is a long one, and his name is mentioned in several historical accounts from the opening of the Pennsylvania wilderness in the mid to late 1700s. During his life, Henry was a pioneer, land owner, justice of the peace and a well-known leader in Washington and Greene Counties, Pennsylvania. There are differences of opinion on the identity of his parents, and how he is descended from the prominent Van Meteren family who arrived in America in 1662. I am going to proceed slowly through available records, starting with the will of Henry Vanmatre.

Henry's will can be found in the FamilySearch Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994 for Greene County, Wills 1796-1862, Volume 1-3 (beginning with Image 53 of 615). For readability purposes I have divided this into several screen shots and I am including a transcription below.
Will of Henry Vanmatre, deceased}
In the name of God amen, I Henry Vanmatre of the County of Greene in the State of Pennsylvania, being in good health at the present and of sound mind and memory, well knowing the certainty of life, do make declare and publish this my last Will and Testament viz after my death it is my desire that my body be decently buried at the discretion of my friends, and my soul I commit to Almighty God who gave it. As to my worldly affairs it is my will and desire in the first place that all my just debts to be lawfully paid, and remaining part of my estate to be divided among my Wife and Children in the following order viz

In the first place I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Martha, all my household furniture and cash, together with one third part of all my personal estate after my debts are fully paid, and the third part of the profits of my real estate during her natural life in line of her dower.

Item 2nd. To my grandsons Joab and Henry Vanmatre sons of Joseph Vanmatre, I will and bequeath five pounds each in cash to be paid to their father in trust for them until they arrive severally to the age of twenty-one years.

Item 3rd. To my eldest son Joseph Vanmatre, I will and bequeath five shillings in cash in addition to the plantation I have already given him.

Item 4th. To my eight daughters namely Sarah, Alice, Rachel, Elizabeth, Phebe, Rebekah, Martha and Mary, I will and bequeath each of them five shillings lawful money in addition to what I have already given them.

Item 5th. To my second son Jesse Vanmatre I do devise one hundred and ninety acres of land in fee simple to be taken off the east side of the same plantation on which I live as follows Beginning at a white oak corner by land of Daniel Moredock deceased marked HV running south nineteen degrees west perches to a sand stone in my Meadow marked HV thence south twenty four degrees east twenty four perches to a white oak thence south forty degrees east seventy nine perches to a white oak thence south twenty perches to a white oak, thence south thirty six degrees east nineteen perches to a post, thence south twenty one degrees west twentynine perches to a post on the original line, thence with said line to the place of Begining to include all of the improvements and and now in possession of said son Jesse.

Item 6th. To my son Absolom Vanmatre I do devise two hundred and thirty four acres of land in fee simple it being the residue in the place I now live on.

Item 7th. To my son Henry Vanmatre Jr. I do devise in confirmation of a deed of conveyance already given him by me for two hundred and fifty acres of land situate lying and being in Kanahwa County in the State of Virginia it being part of a larger tract land which my son Abraham [note - this is an error, it should be Absolom] and myself purchased of Isaac Robertson.

Item 8th. To my son John Vanmatre I do devise in fee the residue of my claim adjoining the land mentioned in the last devise purchased by myself and son Absolom of Isaac Robertson containing by survey two hundred and fifty acres Begining at a stake green poplar and white oak running south ten degrees west two hundred and twenty seven perches to a Spanish oak corner marked HV on Peter Hoge's line, thence south seventy degrees east with said Hoge's line to a stake and stone marked HV on the west side and AVS on the east side by land of Anthony Vansickles thence with said land north twenty seven degrees east two hundred and forty six perches to a stone marked HV on the western side and AVS on the eastern side thence down Francis Watkins line to the place of Begining provided nevertheless that if it shall so happens that the said John Vanmatre shall die without lawful issue then in that case I devise that the last mentioned tract of land containing two hundred and fifty acres to my grand son William Thomas in fee simple.

Item 9th. To my said grandson William Thomas I will and bequeath one horse, one breeding mair, two cows and one set of plow irons and geers, six sheep, and bed and bedding, and also it is my will and desire that he shall have an equal divide with the other legatees in my personal estate all to have and to share and share alike. I do also appoint my son Jesse Vanmatre and my son in law Charles Swan my Executors of this my last Will and Testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal the twentieth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and one. Note the word divide underlined the other legatees araised before signed.

Henry Vanmatre {seal}

Signed sealed published pronounced and declared in the presence of John Heaton, Robert Cather, William Meetkerke, Thomas Hughes.

Greene County} On the tenth day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and three before me John Boreman Register for the probate of Wills and granting letters of administration in and for the said county personally came Robert Cather and Thomas Hughes Esquires two of the subscribing witnesses to the foregoing and annexed instrument of writing and on their solemn Oaths did dispose and say that they were present and saw and heard Henry Vanmatre the testator within named, sign, seal, publish, pronounce and declare the same as last Will and testament, and that at the time of doing thereof, he was of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding, to the best of their knowledge, observation and belief, and further sayeth out.

Sworn and subscribed the day above written before me, John Boreman, Register} Robert Cather, Thos. Hughes.

Registered the 10th of February 1803, and letters testamentary granted to Jesse Vanmatre and Charles Swan, Executors, the same day.

I will have analysis on this in a subsequent post, but it is clear this is a very valuable document to have available. It lists Henry's wife as Martha, all his children and the location of his land. It also lists his neighbors and refers back to earlier purchases in Kanawha County (present day West Virginia).    

Friday, June 13, 2014

Enoch's Run

Yesterday's post described the land of William Davis in Washington County, Pennsylvania as adjoining Henry Vanmeter's property on Enoch's Run. The land was apparently next to a creek that was later known as Swan's Run and Pumpkin Run, which empties into the Monongahela River at Rices Landing. A map showing the location of the land is below.
In 1785, Henry Vanmeter acquired land next to Richard Swan. Richard (b. 1752, d. 1822) was married to Henry's daughter Martha Vanmeter. Richard's father was John Swan Jr. He is referenced in an 1896 report on Frontier Forts of Western Pennsylvania:

"Cumberland township was probably one of the first settled townships in Greene county. John Swan, as early as 1767, looked upon the stately forests that encumbered all the valley of Pumpkin with an eye of satisfaction, and to notice that he had chosen this location for himself proceeded to put his mark upon it by blazing the trees around a goodly circuit. In 1768-69 he returned and made a fixed habitation. He was accompanied by Thomas Hughes and Jesse Vanmeter, who united their strength for mutual protection. These early pioneers determined to provide for the safety of their families, and accordingly built a strong stockade, which has ever since been known as old Fort Swan and Vanmeter. It was situated near the border of Cumberland township [near the present town of Carmichaels], on the spot where the house of Andrew J. Young stands and was a noted rallying point in its day for the venturesome pioneers and their families." The fort was erected early, not later than 1774, and probably earlier.

"Until the massacre by Logan and his band, in 1774, there was no trouble with the Indians; though for safety it had become necessary to have a place of refuge and a fort was built on John Swan's farm, known as Swan and Vanmeter's Fort." (Citation:

The property is also described in Rices Landing, a Bicentennial Historical Sketch. This land is referenced in the History of Greene County (page 120):
There's much more information on the Swan and Vanmeter Forts, but I thought this was helpful to put the land into context.

John Swan Jr had another son, Charles Swan, who married a daughter of Henry Vanmeter. This story will also be described in a future post.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

More on Davis' Delight

Yesterday's dive into the Davis family research uncovered quite a bit on the land holdings for my 7th and 6th-great-grandfathers, William and Azariah Davis. The Pennsylvania Land Warrants and Applications database on Ancestry had an additional image on the 300 acres in Washington County, Pennsylvania known as Davis' Delight. It looks like the land was improved on 1 June 1783, and the warrant for the land was issued on 18 December 1784.
As noted in William Davis' will, and confirmed in the Pennsylvania Tax records, William's sons Stephen and Azariah were living at Davis' Delight at this time. They acquired their own land in Washington and Greene Counties, but this is a helpful find for placing the Davis family in the timeline, and for the reference to their neighbors Michael Jones and Henry Vanmatre (also spelled Vanmeter).

Henry Vanmeter was the father of Alice Vanmeter (my 6th-great-grandmother), who married Azariah Davis. Henry acquired his own land warrant in Washington County on 25 May 1785 for 400 acres adjoining Daniel Moredock and Richard Swan.
On the same day, Henry also acquired 300 acres of adjoining land for his son Joseph Vanmeter.
In the Pennsylvania Tax records for 1789, Joseph Vanmeter appears on the Cumberland Township tax roll with his brother Jesse Vanmeter and father Henry.
There are many more records on the Vanmeters in Washington County, which I will begin to cover in a following post.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Will of William Davis

The entry on the Davis Family (see Picking up the Davis line) from Howard Leckey's Tenmile Country states that the will of my 7th-great-grandfather William Davis is located in Will Book 1 for Washington County, Pennsylvania, page 104. I looked this up on FamilySearch in the Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994, and found the will beginning on page 108. A copy is available below, with a transcription.
William Davis deceased,} In the name of God amen, I William Davis of Cumberland township Washington County, state of Pennsylvania being weak in body but of perfect mind and memory thanks be given unto God, calling unto mind the mortality of my body, and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die do make and ordain this my last will and testament that is to say principally and first of all I give and recommend my soul into the hand of Almighty God that gave it me, and my body to the earth to be buried in decent Christian burial at the discretion of Executors, nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the fame again by the mighty power of God. And as touching such worldly estate wherewith it has pleased to bless me in this life I give, devise and dispose of the same in the following manner and form.

First I give and bequeath unto my beloved son Stephen and Azariah Davis the tract of land where I and they now live known by the name of Davis's Delight and the said land to be equally divided belonging to my before mentioned sons and it to be divided as they are now settled, and after the decease of the aforesaid Stephen and Azariah the said land shall fall unto William Davis second son of Azariah Davis to him and his heirs forever and should my aforesaid son move off from said plantation and settle other lands of their own then they shall give up free possession to the said William Davis at his arriving at the age of twenty one years.

Also all my personal estate I give unto my two sons Stephen and Azariah to be equally divided after my decease between the said two I also give to my beloved daughter Tabitha the wife of John Davis the sum of five hundred pounds specy to be paid to her one year after my decease, likewise I give unto my brother James Davis fifty shillings to be paid him yearly in linen by my sons Stephen and Azariah whom I likewise constitute make and ordain the sole Executors of this my last will and testament. All and singular my lands, mesuages and tenements by them freely to be possessed and enjoyed and I do hereby utterly disallow revoke and disannul all and every other former testaments, wills, legacies, bequests, Executors by me in any ways before named willed and bequeathed, ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last will and testament.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty third day of August in the year of our lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty eight. William Davis {seal}. Signed, sealed, published, pronounced and declared by the said William Davis as his last will and testament in the presence of us who in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names: James Gunner, Jacob Strawn, Francis Hannahs. Washington County J {seal}
The first day of December one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
Be it remembered that on the 1st day of December Anno Domini 1789 the last will and testament of William Davis late of Washington County deceased was proved in due form of law and letters testamentory thereon were granted to Stephen Davis and Azariah Davis the Executors therein named they being first sworn well and truely to administer the estate of the said deceased and to exhibit a true and perfect inventory thereof into the Registers Office at Washington and to render a true and just account of their said administration when legally thereunto required.

Registered this 1st day of December Anno Domini 1789     

In this will, William Davis identified his three children - Stephen Davis, Azariah Davis and Tabitha Davis, as well as his brother James Davis. It is curious that he lists William as the second son of Azariah. By my records I show William as the third son, after Azariah Davis Junior (born in 1780), and my fifth great-grandfather Henry Davis (born September 1781). The will describes his property as Davis' Delight (this is the property purchased in the land warrant in 1785). I'll have more on this property in a following post.

Picking up the Davis line

Earlier this year I started to arrange the puzzle pieces of history on the Davis family in Pennsylvania. In February 2014 I wrote about my 5th-great-grandfather Henry Davis, his service in the War of 1812, his move to Vance Township in Vermilion County, Illinois, and using Ohio Tax records to track the family in Guernsey County, Ohio. In March I wrote about several land transfers in Guernsey County for Henry Davis. I have also covered the next generation back in this line, Henry's parents, Azariah Davis and Alice Vanmeter Davis (see my 9 November 2012 post on Azariah Davis - Patriot). There is a lot more information on the Davis family, and with this post I pick up the story on Azariah Davis.

Washington County, Pennsylvania Land Warrant
Azariah Davis served in the Pennsylvania Militia for Washington County during the Revolutionary War. He appears in the Pennsylvania Tax records for 1781 in Cumberland, Washington County with his father William Davis and brother Stephen Davis. I think this is a great record, shows how much land William owned in Cumberland, that he had a still, and that the Davis sons had horses, cattle and sheep.
Source: Pennsylvania Tax and Exoneration, 1768-1801 via Ancestry
On 16 November 1784, Azariah received a land warrant for 400 acres in Washington County, including improvements along the waters of Delong's Run and Azariah's Run.
Looking further in the Pennsylvania Land Warrants, Azariah's father, William Davis, also obtained a land warrant in Washington County the following year, on 25 May 1785. William received 300 acres, including an improvement adjoining Michael Jones and Henry Vanmeter. Henry was the father of Alice Vanmeter, who had married Azariah Davis in 1780.
The land record above is referenced in Howard Leckey's book, The Tenmile Country and its Pioneer Families, page 528. I have inserted a copy of this page below (via Google Books). I am not taking Leckey's research as complete, and will be diving into the details to do my own verification. As an example, Leckey states the wife of William Davis is not known, but other sources have William Davis' wife as Elizabeth Wollison.
I previously featured the Tenmile Country in a Mappy Monday post in November 2012. I will be revisiting Washington, Greene and Chester Counties in Pennsylvania as I look into the Davis and Vanmeter lines.

Enjoying June

My family history blogging is off to a slow start this month. The summer heat has arrived in DC, and I've been spending quality time outside. I am preparing for upcoming meetings, so my historical blogging doesn't look to be picking up too much any time soon. There are a few research lines percolating, and I am awaiting responses to several inquiries so there may be new results to describe later.

Here's a few items that have caught my attention in the past week:

Google Art Project now with Street Art
I am a big fan of street art. Yesterday Google's Art Project announced it was adding photos of street art to its Art Project (see their tweet here) and exhibits online at Some of my own street art photos can be found in previous posts highlighting Montevideo, Moscow, Buenos Aires, Durban, and Geneva.

Wave of Genealogy TV Programs Set for Summer
July and September will include new episodes of Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s Finding Your Roots and Who Do You Think You Are? (see article). If you're a fan of PBS' History Detectives, they will also have new episodes starting in July focused on a single mystery (see

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Two Years Ago - Radiohead

Two years ago this evening I saw Radiohead live in DC with my sister. This was a fantastic show.
Photo by Patrick Jones - Radiohead, 3 Jun 2012
Photo by Patrick Jones
I used to keep old concert ticket stubs in an 11 by 14 frame, and this eventually grew to 4 different frames. It did not occur to me until recently that I should have made a photo of this set of frames before I threw them out several moves ago. There were some great concerts represented in those stubs - several Pearl Jam shows, Green Day, Beastie Boys, as well as sporting events. I take photos of them now, and will share them occasionally along with concert photos (as I have done on previous posts showing Gogol Bordello at the 9:30 Club).