Jewish Roots: Surnames & Locations

We’ve always been aware that my husband, Alan has some DEEP Jewish roots – in fact, his AncestryDNA results came back with a whopping 96% Ashkenazi Jew heritage. One of the problems I am running into while trying to trace his history is the lack of information. A lot of the records of his family – at least the ones who came to the United States – just say “Austria” or “Hungary” as the place of birth. Some – like his Great Grandfather, Jacob’s Naturalization papers – list a town perhaps, but it’s hard to read and is impossible to find out about. Especially since I am really lacking in my historical knowledge/geography of the areas in question.

As I find locations & surnames, I’m going to list them here. Hopefully, I will be able to share this information with “cousins” and figure out these mysteries.


  • Bernstein
  • Brandt
  • Cagan / Kagan
  • Karp
  • Lipkin
  • Sonnenschein
  • Spegal / Spiegal
  • Zweigenbaum


  • Austria
  • Hungary
  • Russia
  • Stuchie, Russia
  • Brest-Litovsk, Russia
  • Zsofiafalva

Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

Did My Ancestors Fight in the American Revolution?

With Independence Day coming soon I figured I would do a little in-depth research as to who in my family served in the American Revolution. I know there were some on my Mother’s PELTON side because I’ve come across an application for both “Sons of the American Revolution” and “Daughters of the American Revolution.” I’d love some more details about who they were and where they fought! and Fold3 are the websites that I used for the information I’ve gathered. I will cite the actual sources later in the post. The easiest way to start your own research is to figure out which relatives lived in the general time period of the war. In the case of the American Revolutionary War (also known as the American War of Independence) the years of the war were 1775–1783.  The average age of the soldier’s varied according to this demographics survey – but generally speaking it was around the early to mid-twenties.

The colonies required militia service, generally, of males between sixteen and sixty, excepting clergy, college students, slaves, and, often, free blacks. In Virginia, service by Catholics was forbidden. [source] There were a few outliers of course – Israel Trask, son of a Lieutenant who volunteered and served as a cook’s helper and messenger was 10 years old and Samuel Whittemore was 78 years old.

So, one could assume that, if an ancestor was in between the ages ~16 to ~60 between 1775 and 1783, there was a very high chance they were in the military and therefore, fought in the Revolutionary War.

My Personal Revolutionary War Ancestry

Ithamar PELTON (my 5th great grandfather)
Birth 22 Nov 1740 in Saybrook, Essex, Connecticut
Death 16 Mar 1826 in Middlefield, Hampshire, Massachusetts

According to the D.A.R. Lineage Book (vol. 5) “Ithamar Pelton turned out at the Lexington Alarm and was a sea captain commanding privateers and taking many prizes during the struggle for independence.”

More about the Lexington Alarm

The Refugees of 1776 from Long Island to Connecticut

Do you have a Revolutionary War ancestor? Please share!



Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

Plan of Boston Showing Existing Ways & Owners 1630-35-40-45

These four maps of Boston, Massachusetts (MA), were published in 1905 by the Boston Municipal Printing Office, in a small booklet entitled “Series of Plans of Boston showing Existing Ways and Owners of Property 1630 – 1635 – 1640 – 1645.” Compiled by George Lamb, from Town Records, Book of Possessions, Massachusetts (MA) Bay Records, Savage’s Winthrop, Lechford’s Diary, Aspinwall’s Notarial Records and Suffolk County Deeds. Property owners’ names are shown as of 1630, 1635, 1640, 1645.

Continue reading

Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

Pelton’s in Leicestershire, England circa 1600’s

“Calendars of wills and administrations relating to the county of Leicester, proved in the Archdeaconry court of Leicester, 1495-1649, and in the Peculiars of St. Margaret Leicester, Rothley, Groby, Evington, and the unproved wills etc., previous to 1801. All now preserved in the Probate registry at Leicester” (full text ebook)

Series II Transcripts of Wills 1500 – 1558 (pdf ebook, non-searchable)

  • 1551 – Pelton, John ; Wigstone
  • 1587 – Pelton, Wm. ; Leicester 46
  • 1636 – Pelton, Wm. ; Peathnge parva 121
  • 1642 – Pelton, Wm. ; Leicester 3


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

John PELTON – Crossing the Pond

There are some mentioned of the Pelton surname originating in Essex, England – but there is no proof as to whether our first ancestor in America – John Pelton – actually came from Essex. So, in order to figure out his origin we need to look at the facts that we already know. If you are researching this person please feel free to leave a comment and share what you know! Remember – facts only! We want cited sources.

John Pelton

Birth: circa 1616 in England

Immigration/Emigration: Between 1620-1650 from Leicestershire, England (source 3)
*** work-in-progress: Pelton’s in Leicestershire, England circa 1600′s

Marriage: Susannah Way(e) in 1645 (source 2)

Death: 23 JAN 1681 in Dorchester, Suffolk, Massachusetts (source 1)


  1. Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 for John Pelton (document)
  2. U.S., New England Marriages Prior to 1700 for John Pelton (document)
  3. Topographical Dictionary of 2885 English Emigrants to New England, 1620-1650 (document) (ebook)


“A genealogical dictionary of the first settlers of New England showing three generations of those who came before May, 1692, on the basis of Farmer’s Register (1860)” by James Savage (ebook)

PELTON, JOHN, Boston, very early, had est. describ. in the book of
possns. rem. to Dorchester, his eld. s. John was bapt. 2 Mar. 1645.
In his will of 3 Jan. 1681, pro. 10 Mar. foil, he names w. Susanna, s.

“Genealogy of the Pelton family in America : being a record of the descendants of John Pelton who settled in Boston, Mass., about 1630-1632, and died in Dorchester, Mass., January 23rd, 1681” by J.M. Pelton (ebook)

“Records relating to the early history of Boston .. (1876)” (ebook)

“Records of the First Church at Dorchester, in New England, 1636-1734” (ebook)

More Information:

  • WikiTree Page for John Pelton
  • First Parish Church of Dorchester, Massachusetts (website)


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

Researching Civil War Ancestors (Henry MANN)

This is a post in progress 😉

I’m on the hunt for my ancestor Henry MANN who registered for the Civil War draft in the Third Congressional District, Brooklyn (Kings County) New York in 1863. According to an article posted in the NY Times – names were chosen from all who registered and his name wasn’t on the list. This leads me to believe he didn’t actually serve in the military.

Henry MANN
Birth 1822 in Suffolk, England
Death aft. 1882 1892 in New York [edit: found on 1892 NY State Census]

Henry married Elizabeth
Birth circa 1839 in Ireland
Death aft. 1882 1892 in New York [edit: found on 1892 NY State Census]

Children of Henry and Elizabeth were:

Henry E. MANN
Birth JUN 1863
Death aft 1923 in New York

William MANN
Birth 1868 in New York

Source for family info: 1880 US Federal Census (New York)

Note – according to the reason why I am seeing a LOT of armed guards mentioned in the NY Times article (linked above) is that in 1863 there were a lot of draft riots happening!

There were four drafts between 1863 and 1865, which included 3.175 million records. Historically, the 1863 draft was one of the most tenuous moments in the Union outside of the battles fought on Northern soil. Most of the concern was due to the draft riots that took place in New York in 1863.

It’s crazy to know that my ancestor was at one of these “drafts” (and presumably; a riot). I wonder if he was in favor of the war or against it? He would have been 42 years old when the drafts were happening.

Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page Ireland Collections

Ancestry has free access to some of their Ireland immigration records right now!

Lord Morpeth’s Roll

The Morpeth Roll is a unique testimonial document signed by over 275,000 people across Ireland in 1841, on the departure of George Howard, Lord Morpeth, from the office of Chief Secretary for Ireland. The Morpeth Roll is scheduled to go on public display until next year. However, Christopher Ridgway, curator of Castle Howard, the UK stately home where the Roll was discovered, will display the real thing at a conference entitled The Gathering: Local History, Heritage and Diaspora, on 24 November. As well as explaining what it is, he will be talking about its potential value as a pre-famine census substitute for Irish genealogy research. [x]

When George Howard (Lord Morpeth) left office after 6 years as Chief Secretary for Ireland, he received a unique thank-you card: a 412-meter roll of parchment containing the signatures of more than 150,000 Irishmen (and a few women). Morpeth had been seen as a friend to Ireland, enough so that even nationalists like Young Irelander Thomas Davis signed the roll, extending to Lord Morpeth the “warmest Good wishes of our Country.”

Lot’s of great information! I haven’t done a lot of work with my own Irish heritage. Might be a good time to do so!

So far – I just have ONE absolutely legit Irish relative that I have a source for. My Great-Great Grandmother Elizabeth (who was the mother of my Great Grandfather Henry E. MANN) was born in Ireland circa 1839. She, along with her husband Henry (circa 1822 in England) and her children Henry E. (1863, NY) and William (1868) are listed in the 1880 NY Census.

Elizabeth wasn’t listed in the 1900 census, so I assume she passed away before then. All I have to go on right now is that 1880 census. I haven’t researched any further yet!

Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

My PELTON Ancestry Line

The surname Pelton belongs to perhaps the largest class of English family names – those derived from names of localities. Pelton was a common place-name before the Norman conquest. William the Conqueror granted Pelton Manor to William the Deacon and some two centuries later his descendants took their surname from the Manor. Important branches of the Pelton family have lived in Northamptonshire, Wiltshire, Somersetshire and Buckshire. The coat-of-arms of the Essex family is described: an inescutcheon charged with a ben within a orle of escallops. [source]

John Pelton, the American immigrant was born in England about 1616 and was descended, it is believed, from the Essex branch of the family. [source]

There are a lot of PELTON’s in America – a lot of them are descended from John PELTON & Susanna WAY(E) who came over from England on the Mary & John.

“PELTON: John Pelton engaged in fishing business, came to Boston, Mass Bay Colony 1630; removed to Dorchester 1635.” [source, source]

John PELTON & Susanna WAY(E)
   then Samuel PELTON & Mary SMITH
      then John B. PELTON & Jemima JOHNSON
         then John PELTON & Elizabeth CHAMPION
            then Ithamar PELTON & Asenath PRATT
               then Asahel PELTON & Anna DENIO
                  then Horace Birt PELTON & Mary CORLEY
                     then Horace O. PELTON & Ella/Ellen S. HIGGINS
                        then George Lester PELTON & Francis M. WEEKS
                           then Charles Lester Isaac PELTON who is my grandfather.

I’m trying now to get away from the “name collecting” and find actual stories and photos. I’ve got a few of my grandfather but none of anyone further back. I’m also trying to get my hands on an original copy of the 1892 “Pelton Family in America” but it’s pricey and I only see it once in a blue moon.

There is a digital copy available for free:

Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page