A Note to My Readers: I am sure I am not the only historian who has run into a familiar stranger or two while researching a family line. That is very likely to happen as you go back to the earliest days of American history. After all, there were less people and somebody HAD to marry someone in that small, small world. Somewhere along the process you are going to ask yourself…”where have I seen this name before?”
I’M A “Central” NEW YORKER
I am a Tyler descendant and have been researching my Tyler ancestors for years. The fact that I was born and raised in central New York and that it is the geographic nexus for my ancestral lines over several generations pretty much guarantees I will run into a relative. First cousins marrying was not an unusual occurrence in the earliest days, but as the population grew and its consequences became clear…madness, deafness, etc., relationships became more distant and diverse. Another trend that you fairly trip over are siblings of one family marrying siblings of another. Again, as the population grew and migration became more common and far flung, that circumstance fell away.
Families sharing common ancestry had reunions, wrote family histories and in general provided current day historians with the bridge information that we all appreciate. The Tylers were especially enthusiastic celebrating their heritage up until the Great Depression. Reunions of the Tyler Kindred of America ceased to be planned as the generation of historians Rollin U. Tyler and William Irving Tyler Brigham died off. My grandmother and her sisters were the last to attend one of the reunions held in Auburn, New York in the summer of 1929. Tylers came from all over America and they all knew each other and despite the ‘twice removed’ kind of thing…only referred to each other as “cousin”. Kin was kin.
Sometimes when you are NOT looking, an individual pops up in the work and your brain puts on the brakes and does the old double take.
Lately, I have been exploring my Davenport and Smith families in the generation of my 4th great grandparents, Ira Smith and his wife, Sarah Davenport, of New Haven, Connecticut and Newfield, Tompkins county, New York. I had great success with the Smiths as they settled in central New York…despite the epic challenge of the Smith surname. Ira and Sarah had settled in New York just before 1800 along the western side of Cayuga Lake in what is now Ulysses. I hadn’t explored the Davenports as they migrated from New Haven so it was time to see if like the Smiths, they sought new opportunities along the Finger Lakes in the post Revolutionary War era. Did Sarah Davenport Smith’s family members find the same path to the rolling hills above Cayuga Lake?
As I had supposed, one of Sarah’s siblings heeded the call. Her youngest brother, Street Davenport and his new wife, Nancy Maria Shults, came to New York State shortly after their 1827 marriage where their children, Sullivan Shults Davenport and Mary Hetty Davenport were born. Sometime between 1835 and 1840, the Davenports migrated one more time…to Townsend, Sandusky, Ohio.
We all know New York State covers a great deal of territory and the Davenports could just as well have settled in Albany or Long Island as anywhere else. But the argument that they homesteaded with the Smiths along Cayuga Lake can be made because Sullivan Davenport married central New York born Lovina Twiss. Lovina is a Tyler…her mother was Polly Tyler and her father was Benjamin C. Twiss of Cayuga County, New York. The Twiss family likewise migrated to the Sandusky County, Ohio area in the period between 1836 to 1850.
So what, you say? So…I had Polly Tyler Twiss and her daughters Lovina and Permelia entered into my family tree…as a good and faithful Tyler historian when I first began creating the family tree. Years ago. Lovina’s husband…yep..Sullivan S. Davenport. And their progeny. And I had moved on. At the time I had no knowledge of my Davenport heritage so Sullivan Shults Davenport was just another Ohioan that had been born in the great state of New York.
Now that I have been putting my Davenport family history in apple pie order, I ran into Sullivan Shults Davenport and had the “deja vu all over again” moment. I went to enter him into the tree from the Davenport research perspective…with a wife possibly named Lavinia and found…HIM. Already there. And Lovina Twiss…not Lavinia somebody or other. And their children…Ellen Maria and John Elliott and Cora Ada…all of that generation of Tylers that would travel back to Auburn. Travel back and listen to the speeches from the historians and the songs written and performed for the occasion. To stand in front of the Pavilion at Owasco Lake for the big group photo of the 1929 Tyler Kindred of America. The photo that hangs on the wall of my sitting room. Somewhere amid the throng are individuals that are both my Tyler and Davenport family members.
Circle closed. And kin is kin.
“A Supplement to The history and genealogy of the Davenport family, in England and America, from A. D. 1086 to 1850″. Printed for the family, Stamford, CT in 1876 and entered into the Library of Congress in 1877 by Amzi Benedict Davenport.
“The Tyler Genealogy: The Descendants of the Branford, Connecticut Line of Roger Tyler”. By Willard I. Tyler Brigham and Calvin Cedric Tyler, Volume 3.
Tyler Kindred of America Genealogical Records. University of Connecticut.
Family Records, Tyler Collection.