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Draft registration card for Francis H CHALCRAFT

Slowly finding and posting items that are helping in my family research – geez! I wish there was just more time … Here are some items found and posted onto my genealogy board in Pinterest.

For my grandfather, Francis Herbert CHALCRAFT, his World War I draft registration card:

U.S.WorldWarIDraftRegistrationCards1917-1918FrankHerbertChalcraft_front U.S.WorldWarIDraftRegistrationCards1917-1918FrankHerbertChalcraft_back

(where it reads that he is 18 years old, born November 13, 1899; and he lives at home with his mother (Rose nee MACE) and father (Charles CHALCRAFT) at 108 Stockton Street in Brooklyn NY, in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood.) When looking for this address in Google Maps, it seems that the address no longer exists – that perhaps its become a parking lot or an empty lot. The building at 107 Stockton was built in 2011, based on my research, so this neighborhood has gone through a great deal of change since 1918.

108_stockton_st_brooklyn 108_stockton_st_brooklyn_02

By the way – the back of the draft registration card indicates that Frank Chalcraft is tall and slender with grey eyes and light-colored hair.

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Surname – ASTON

A location-based surname, likely to mean “East of the settlement 1, 2,” or East of the main village.

I mentioned my great-great-grandfather, Joseph Henry ASTON (born: December 02, 1834; died: January 05, 1905) before as I discovered the abstracts of the muster rolls for his military service during the US Civil War.

Joseph’s father, Samuel ASTON (born abt: 1797, died abt: 1858), is a character of some intrigue in the family lore. From one of the unpublished family history collections I have (written and compiled by Alice ESKHOLME) there is the following:

There are numerous “stories” as to what happened to great-grandfather SAMUEL ASTON.

One being that his sons were so disgusted with him because he was always drunk and that they “chipped together” and bought a ticket and sent him back to England. (To me, a very unlikely story.)

Another is: That after the Mexican War, when the Government could not pay the soldiers they were offered land or a keg of rum and he chose the rum. (This is not borne out by the military records.)

Another was: That he was granted a piece of land (160 acres) on Lake Michigan (about in the heart of where Chicago now is) but thereafter sold the deed for a keg of rum. The military records show that he was granted 160 acres, but no location is shown, and that he assigned the Warrant for same to his agent, Edward Andariese.

The story that he went West seems most likely of all. I am more inclined to think that he did not buy rum with the proceeds from his Land Warrant but that he used whatever money he obtained to buy supplies to go West. However, he was never heard of again by any member of his family. He probably joined up with the “Gold Rush” pioneer in 1849 neaded for California, or maybe Oregon; or maybe the “Silver Strike” in Nevada. Yet again, he may have headed south to Texas or New Mexico.

His reason for going? Well, there could have been many. Maybe he was “nagged to death” at home. My personal opinion is that he was a restless individual and craved action – adventure.

At any rate, the 1858 Brooklyn Directory lists great-grandmother, SARA ASTON, widow, dressmaker.


“FIND YOUR LAST NAME.” Surname Database: Last Name Origins. N.p., n.d. Web.
12 Oct. 2013. http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Aston

“Last Name Meanings Dictionary.” Last Name Meanings Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web.
12 Oct. 2013. http://www.last-names.net/surname.asp?surname=Aston

Surname Saturday: Chalcraft

CHALCRAFT is English in origin. By accounts it is a location name from Old English cealf ‘calf’ + croft ‘enclosure.’

My Chalcraft ancestors came from Surrey, England – the south eastern part of England. My great-great-grandfather, Francis CHALCRAFT, came to Nova Scotia Canada. His son, Charles, eventually immigrated to the United States first to Massachusetts and then finally settling in the New York City area.

There is another line of the CHALCRAFT family that settled quite heavily in Illinois, USA … and I’m still trying to find any connection to that line.

Sharing – new board on Pinterest

Collecting and sharing information, whether via images, documents, or simply text … Am trying to find the simplest way to do this …

May I invite you to visit my new Pinterest board: That Genealogy Stuff

Visit That Genealogy Stuff on Pinterest

News: Ancestry.com enhancements and big news!

So I just read the Ancestry.com has acquired Find A Grave. Wow! That’s a huge deal, and it seems to be of a pattern I’ve been seeing of late … that of consolidation, where there will be fewer database sites and these sites will contain huge amounts of information. I suppose that offers greater convenience. We’ll just have to see.

I also read some highlights of updates and enhancements on Ancestry.com [via GeneaBloggers]. Some of these updates and enhancements look to be very useful.

So, he fought in the Spanish American War – William Henry VALENTINE

I had scanned and shared an image in a recent post about my ancestor, William Henry VALENTINE (b. November 26, 1874; d August 24, 1946). Well, in going through more documents I’ve had I realized that the certificate of American citizenship was part of a packet of documents he had to gather in order to submit his pension request.

Here’s a portion of that packet of documents. This first one, believed to be completed by his wife – Harriet Ellen ASTON – includes his declaration of his service … That he served in the 22nd New York Volunteer Infantry in 1898 during the Spanish American War. (click on the image to view as a larger size)

In addition to his military service information, this has some great information about his marriage and children. And as it was completed by Harriet, his wife, I’m going to give it high credibility in what it states. I’m also rather curious about the spelling of her first name – she writes it Harriette. In every other document I’ve seen it as Harriet. Hmmmmmm

William_H_VALENTINE_militaryrecord_003

So, per her own declarations on this document William Henry VALENTINE and Harriet Ellen ASTON were married on October 20, 1898, by the chaplain of his regiment.

And here is a scan of William’s discharge from service (click on it to view it larger).

William_H_VALENTINE_militaryrecord_001

And the reverse side – which is admittedly my favorite part …

William_H_VALENTINE_militaryrecord_001-reverseside

It reads:

Noncommissioned Officer: Warranted Corporal Sept 1st 1898

Remarks: Service Honest and Faithful
Character: Excellent

It’s my favorite part because it’s not just dates or facts … it is some context to my ancestor’s life, particularly his service in the military.

Census Sunday – Charles Albert CHALCRAFT

The records for Charles Albert CHALCRAFT (b. Nov 1879-1880; d. July 03, 1961), my great-grandfather … and apparently my namesake in a way. According to a family story told by both my father and mother, Great Grandpa Charlie asked that mom and dad name their firstborn son after him. Hence, my middle name is Charles. 

The puzzle with Charles is his actual date of birth. There are conflicting stories and information for it; but, I’ve narrowed it down to either 1879 or 1880. Some of it is taken from census reports. … … Here we go … …

It is known that Charles CHALCRAFT was born in Nova Scotia, Canada. In the 1881 Canadian census I find him as the son of Francis and Anne CHALCRAFT. The record indicates he was 1 years old at the time, which would provide an estimate of his birth year being 1880, or perhaps even late 1879. If, for example the 1881 census was taken early in that year, Charles’s birth year could be 1879 … which makes sense given his birth month to be November.
[click to view a larger image version of the census page]

1881CensusofCanadaForFrancisChalcraft_cropped09282013 

Okay – so Charles’s birth year could be 1879; it could also be 1880. It seems that 1881 is becoming doubtful.

Now we move to the 1891 Canada census. And he’s found at home, aged 11.
[click to view a larger image version of this census page]

1891CensusofCanadaForCharlesAChalcraft_cropped09282013

Again, this would seem to confirm his birth year as 1880, or late 1879. So far so good! And if I continue the search in the 1911 Canadian census, I find the following:
[click to view a larger image version of this census page]

1911CensusofCanadaForFrancis[Frank]Chalcraft_cropped09282013

There’s Francis (Frank) and Anne CHALCRAFT – still in Nova Scotia. But there’s no Charles! And he’s not found in any entry of the 1911 Canadian census.
In 1911, Charles would be between 31-32 years old (assuming his birth year to be 1879-1880).

I do find him in the 1900 and 1920 US Census records.

In 1900 (Brooklyn, NY) it reports his birth year as 1879 and his age in 1900 as 20 years old.This census was taken on June 7 of 1900 … since his birth month is accepted as being November, Charles would be 20 years old at this point in time in June. He’d turn 21 in November of 1900.

In the 1920 US Census (also Brooklyn, NY), which was taken on the 3rd and 5th of January 1920, it reports his age to be 40 years old. Again, this leads me to believe his actual birth year to be 1879.

In the 1940 US Census I find him … It reports that he is 59 years old.
[click to view a larger image of this census page]

1940UnitedStatesFederalCensusForCharlesChalcraft_cropped09282013

So, 1940 – 59 = 1881. Hmmmmmm. The 1940 Census was taken on April 11. So, it appears that Charles’ birth year could be 1880.

So, for now I will maintain both years – 1879 and 1880 – as possibilities for now just from the census records. Of course, an official birth certificate would (hopefully) answer the question. Will need to request one.

By the way – his death certificate indicates birth year to be 1881. But that’s unlikely.

Joseph Henry ASTON and the US Civil War

I posted about this on my Facebook timeline earlier this month – on September 17th to be precise. A little something I found: Civil War Muster Roll extract for my great-great-grandfather, Joseph Henry ASTON (b. December 02, 1834, d. January 05, 1905)

JosephHAston_CivilWarMusterRollAbstract_pp2

Joseph Henry ASTON enlisted on July 3, 1861, at the age of 27 (according to the first page of the muster roll extract), as a Private in the 82nd NY Infantry. He transferred from Company A to Company E on July 15 of that same year. (His brother George Weston ASTON was in Company E of the 82nd NY Infantry; so, I am assuming that Joseph transferred to be with his brother).

You can see from the image above the remarks – they read as follows:

MR April 30/62 Present. MR June 30/62 Present. Borne as Asten. MR Augt 31/62 Absent. MR Oct 31/62 Absent, wounded and captured in action Sept 17/62 at Antietam MD now in Camp Parole Annapolis MD. MR Feby 28/63 Present. MR April 10/63 Present. MR Oct 31/63 Present. MR Dec 31/63 Present. MR Feby 29/64 Present. MR April 3 of 64 Present.

He was mustered out on 25 June 64 having gone to New York City.
On the 21st of May 1864, he was discharged due to “Expiration of term of service.”
His rank when discharged was Private.

The most interesting part of this extract is the note about his being wounded and captured at Antietam, which on Sept 17, 1862, was the bloodiest single day’s battle in US history. It remains so to this very day.

To do: Research the involvement of the 82nd NY Infantry in the Battle of Antietam … to see where my ancestor would have been on the battlefield itself.

Funny thing … in 2008 the family went on a weekend trip to the Antietam battlefield (photos can be seen on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/elrancholoco/sets/72157607602801423/
and I didn’t know about my great-great-grandfather’s involvement until now. Oh well …

Ancestor appreciation day

Part of my work now as I restart my research is to digitize the records and documents I’ve collected over the years. As part of Ancestor Appreciation Day – William Henry VALENTINE (b November 26, 1874; d August 24, 1946), my great-grandfather. What I like about this document is the photo attached to it!

WilliamHVALENTINE_1917-11

It reads:

Seaman’s Certificate of American Citizenship

I, Henry C Stuart, Special Deputy, collector of the district of New York, do hereby certify that William H Valentine, an American seaman, aged 42 years, or thereabouts, of the height of 6 feet – inches, color of eyes Blue, of hair Brown, complexion Ruddy, special characteristics scar on right index finger, scar on left index finger
had this day produced to me proof in the manner directed by law, and I do hereby certify that said William H Valentine is a citizen of the United States of America.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal of office this 2 day of Nov 1917.

Getting back into the research game …

I started pursuing my family’s history way back in the olden days when accessing the Internet meant tying up the phone line and listening to the beeps and buzzes of the modem. And things were painfully slow! In spite of all that I managed to make some interesting progress … and then … life happened … or more specifically, some changes in life happened. We moved, new jobs, and there just wasn’t enough time in the day to research anymore.

Now, though, I’m seeing a slew of resources available … and there are now some others in my family who are quite interested in our family stories and genealogy. So, this has been top of my mind lately.

I may not be able to devote many hours to this, but I’m working on a plan of spending a little time each week to keep up the research and improve my documentation of sources and facts.

And part of that is the start of this blog …

I’ve been blogging since 2006, but those either have to do with my profession or just some personal ramblings. This one is devoted exclusively to my research.

So, let the fun restart!

For any intrepid reader who stumbles upon this blog or who may even decide to follow it, please check our my surnames page to see those names that are of interest to me.