Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Canadian Best Family Puzzles

Best Family puzzles have been confounding me for several weeks now. A couple weeks back I found a post from a distant relative which explained how to find and research early Canadian records.  She and I are related through my mother's Hayner/Vollick side of the family.  So I have been poking around Canadian records.  I was first looking for Hainer, Vollick, Van Valkenburg and Larroway records when I came across some intriguing Best records.

 The Best Family is on my Dad's side of the family. My 2X Great Grandmother is Nellie Best and she was born in Canada.  Her father was John Landon Best. This was really all that I knew as I began my research.

I came across John's father's name, Conrad Best, when I found John's death certificate in the seekingmichigan.org death record database. It was the death record which lead me to look in Canada for Conrad Best and found the family in Bayham Township, Elgin County, Ontario.  I was able to locate a Best Cemetery in Canada online and sure enough, John's family is buried there.  I was rather excited by this find in 2013.

The Cemetery is located in Corinth, Elgin County, Ontario. My records and research indicated that John's father, Conrad was born in Germany in 1799.

During the Revolutionary War the, the Governor of Quebec was a man named Fredrick Haldimand.   He created a massive amount of correspondences and records while reporting back to officials in England about Canada.  These papers are called the Haldimand Papers.  They are currently held by the British Museum.  They were transcribe, eventually filmed and now those films are available in a digital database.

My cousin Lorraine's blog explained that these records are now available and how to view them.  While looking through these records I was surprised to see Conrad Best in the index.  What I knew of my Conrad Best was that he was born in Germany in 1799 so he must have arrived in Canada sometime after the year of his birth.  If this is true, than he is likely not related to this Conrad Best but could there have been a mistake in the data. Could Conrad have been born in Canada of German descent in 1799.  In my years of research I have learned to take a close look at records that seem similar especially with naming patterns.  I have found many errors or misrepresentations in Census records.  So I kept looking at the records.

In the Haldimand Papers,  I found a Conrad Best and his brother, Hermanus Best who both resided in the Albany, New York area at the time of the Revolutionary War. They arrived in the colonies with their father, Jacob Best. They were Loyalist meaning that they preferred to remain loyal to the British crown.  During my research of my Germany heritage, I discovered that towards the end of the 17th and into the 18th century, the wealthy Rhine region of Germany known as Palatine was repeatedly invaded by French troops, which resulted in continuous military requisitions, widespread devastation and famine.

The first mass migration of people from this area began in 1708. The British Monarchy under Queen Anne's had sympathy for the Protestant Germans and had invited them to go to the colonies and work in trade for passage. Official correspondence in British records shows a combined total of 13,146 refugees traveled down the Rhine and or from Amsterdam to England in the summer of 1709.

Some of my early German ancestors were apart of this exodus from Germany which continued for 50 years or more.   I will need to search thru the passenger lists to see if I can find Jacob Best so I can figure out when this Best family arrived in the colonies.  Now fast forward to the time of the Revolutionary War and many of these families still feel a great sense of gratitude to the British Crown for giving them a opportunity to start over in the colonies.  Being loyal to the crown at the time of the Revolutionary war was a dangerous stance to take.  Most Loyalist lost all their land, homes, business and/or  personal property. It was taken from them by the patriots and/or  local Militia.  The families of  Jacob, Conrad and Hermanus Best left New York after their properties were confiscated and fled to Canada.

In the Haldimand Papers, there are several pages which have the names of Conrad and Hermanus Best are listed as Loyalist and Rangers in the British Militia in Upper Canada. Many of the documents are lists of Canadian settlers who were loyal to the crown.  These documents serve as early census records which state who the Head of the household was, where the family lived, sometimes how many people in the household and what the occupation of the head of household was and that they were loyal to the Crown.

Military Petitions listings show that Conrad and Hermanus joined forces with the British Militia in 1777 under Captain Robert Leake.

I will continue to research these Best Families to see if there is any connection.  IF there is a connection, I am missing one generation which would connect these families together. So I am still looking for missing pieces in this puzzle.

Happy Hunting,


Tombstone Tuesday - July 14, 2015 - Catherine Best Carson

 Catherine Best was born in Doreham, Ontario, Canada, the daughter of Conrad Best and Catherine Louks on June 11, 1836.  She married Stephen Crane in 1855 in Canada and they moved to Michigan a short time later.  On December 3, 1872, Stephen Crane died.

Catherine Ann Best about the time she married George W Carson

 Catherine married Reverend George W Carson on December 19, 1875.  They had one child, daughter Effie Carson, who was born in 1876 and died in 1886. Effie is buried in the Brant Township Cemetery.  Rev. George Carson died on  December 5, 1901 and Catherine died on July 12, 1915.

An aging Catherine with two of her grandchildren.

The following is the Obit published in the Chesaning Argus, Chesaning, Michigan.


     Mrs. Catherine Carson, one of Chesaning's oldest resident, died Monday morning at the home of her son, George Carson, as a result of a stroke of paralysis suffered Tuesday morning, July 6th, while she was shopping in town.     The stroke affected her right side and rendered her helpless and confined to her bed with little hopes held out for recovery by the attending physician.  Though unable to speak, she apparently retained consciousness until Monday morning, July 12, when she passed peacefully away, at an early hour.
     "Grandma" Carson was widely known in this vicinity and surrounding community and was as widely respected and loved.  Her ever readiness to aid in troubles, together with her goodness of heart were traits of her noble character.  She will be missed by a large circle of friends who have long been benefited by her counsel, aid, and cheery optimism.  She had a good word for all, and all were her friends.
     Catherine Best was a native of Doreham, Canada, where in 1855 she was united in marriage to Stephen Crane.  The couple moved shortly to Chesaning locality, where with the exception of a few years, Mrs. Carson has resided.  After the death of her husband, Mrs. Crane, in 1875, was married to George Carson, whose death occurred in 1903.  Since that time Mrs. Carson has made her home with her step-son, George Carson Jr., at whose home she spent her last days.
     She is survived by no children of her own, but leaves four step children who will miss her as a mother.  They are:  Geo. B. Carson, of Chesaning; John F. Carson, Mrs. Lagrande Sanderson, of Brady; and Mrs. Martha Curry, of Portland, Oregon.
     Grandma Carson has always proven true to the faith of her choice and carried out the doctrines of the Methodist religion to the end.
     She was a most faithful and devoted member of the church, always in her place, close to the front; never missing a Sabbath, unless detained by illness.
     She spent her winters the past few years with Miss Gates, just across from the church, that she might be near to attend prayer meeting and Sunday services.  Here she will be missed as in the home, and the places she was wont to go.
     Funeral services were held Wednesday afternoon in the church, at which Rev. Karr, of Millington, officiated, assisted by Reverends Seelye and DeWitt (former pastor of the Baptist church), and burial was made in Brant, beside her late husband.
     Many and beautiful floral offerings spoke of the love of the community, while tears freely flowed from the eyes of the aged and middle-aged and young, as they looked for the last time upon the face and form of the aged sleeper.
     Rev. Karr, her pastor for six years, spoke tenderly and feelingly of her as a church member and friend.
    Hers was a life of usefulness and self sacrifice.  She acted the part of the good Samaritan and many there are who call her "blessed".     Out of town relatives and friends present at the funeral were: Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Sanderson and son, Arthur, and Mrs. L. Horn and son, of Henderson; Mr. and Mrs. R. Watson, Mr. and Mrs. A. Smith and Mrs. M. Woodhull, of Hemlock."

I decided to share this with you even though I do not have a photo of her tombstone.  I will try to obtain it and could put it in later. I found this Obit on Ancestry and thought it was quite interesting.  Catherine Ann Best is the younger sister of John Landon Best, my 3X Great Grandfather.  I have been looking closely at Canadian Best Family these last few weeks. after discovering a Conrad Best in Ontario about the time of the Revolutionary war. 

Happy Hunting,


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday - July 7, 2015 - Mary Morgan Hayner Densmore

Mary Morgan Hayner was born on October 21, 1871 in Port Hope, Michigan. She was the daughter of Robert Wesley Hayner and Dorothy Ann Morgan. She married Charles Densmore in Port Lambton, Ontario Canada on March 27, 1889. I always wondered why they were married in Canada.

Mary and Charles Densmore had 11 children; Addie Mae (1890), Nomer (1893), Charles Ray(1894), Elizabeth(1897), Dorothy (1901), Jay Morgan(1903), John Reynolds(1905), Harry Hayner(1908), Mary Kathryn(1910), Allan Glen(1912) and Alvin Chester(1912). Nomer died on March 18, 1893, 20 days after his birth. Dorothy died on November 6, 1920 at the age of 19 years old. Alvin Chester died on November 8, 1912, 8 days after he was born.

This family photo was likely taken around 1915. Allan, the youngest boy looks to be around 3 years old.
Mary Morgan and Charles Densmore
Mary Morgan and Charles live in Marine City, Michigan, Mary Morgan out lived her husband by 15 years. She died on July 5, 1958 in Marine City. She was buried next to Charles in the Rose Hill Cemetery.