SLOCGS member Lynn Storrs shared the following Virtual Research Week Challenge story on our members-only email list, and has given permission to have her story published here. If you have questions about these ancestors or would like more information, please contact Lynn directly.
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Some of our research leads us to find ancestors to brag about; but sometimes we run into others we might not want to claim and whom we wouldn't have liked much if we’d known them. Here’s my story.
I decided during this research challenge to find more information about my gggrandmother, Mary Hinch. To be honest, in 2005, I had identified her as being married to George W. Pottorff from their names on the death certificate of their son, John A. Pottorff and from their marriage record in Pike County, Illinois. On the death certificate, she was Mary Hinc; on the marriage record, he was Geo. W Bottorf. My only other information was on unsourced family trees posted on Ancestry. During these last years, I had concentrated my research on other family lines, which included being able to tie my Badtorff/Pottorff family to the 1709 Palentine Germans, finding them well documented by Hank Z. Jones. So, my goal this week was to prove through on-line sources who Mary Hinch’s ancestors were.
I started with the census information. In 1850, George and Mary, with 2 year old Sarah, were living in Pike Township, Illinois. Next to George’s farm was Andrew Pottorff, his brother. Also on the same page were Samuel Hinch and John M. Hinch and their families. Their ages seem right to be Mary’s brothers. I found another possible Hinch brother living in the next county in Illinois, and right across the Mississippi River from this group, in Missouri, was Uriah H. Hinch (aged 60), with his wife, Elizabeth, and 15 year old son, Robert G. When I found Uriah in the 1840 and 1830 census’, he was in the same area of Missouri. The sexes and ages of his children matched the Hinch’s found in the later census’. One other coincidence, I found my great grandfather, John A. Pottorff in the 1880 census, listed as a farm laborer in the household of Robert G.G. Hinch, just the right age to be the 15 year old son of Uriah Hinch in the 1850 census.
In "Missouri Marriages Before 1840," on pg. 107, I found Uriah Hinch married to Elizabeth Stephenson 23 Oct. 1810. On the Genweb site for Pike County, Ill., I found the following Hinch marriages:
- Louisa Humble Hinch m. 10 Dec 1839 to Jefferson G. McClain
- Samuel Hinch m. 24 Dec 1848 to Lucy Wallace
- Charity Humble Hinch m. 29 Aug 1839 to James Pulliam
- John Milton Hinch m. 14 Dec 1837 to Nancy McIntyre
- Mary Hinch m. 24 June 1847 to George W. Botorf/Pottorff
- Nancy Elizabeth Hinch m. 7 Nov 1858 to Richard M. Raffety
On Rootsweb and in the Missouri Supreme Court Historical Database, I found an exerpt of a will for Uriah Humble Hinch from the “Will Book of Audrain County, Mo.” (pgs 161-162) From this, I learned that Uriah died 27 Jan 1855, Audrain County, Mo., at the age of 65. His wife. Elizabeth, died 27 Sept 1870, aged 85, in Barry County, Ill. And, much to my delight, his children were listed, including his daughter, Mary Pottorf. This tied many of my bits of information together into one whole family.
On Family Search, I found Uriah H. Hinch listed in the War of 1812 records. He was in Capt. Ramsey’s “C” Missouri Rangers and his widow, Elizabeth, was the person who applied for the pension.
Then, I remembered the mysterious name in the household of George and Mary Pottorff in the 1860 census of Nevada, Vernon, Mo., where they would live the rest of their lives. The name is indexed as “Becy” Hinch. Indeed, the name is illegible, but definitely started with “Be” and her age was 65, just the right age to be Mary’s mother, possibly called Betty or Beth instead of Elizabeth.
But, happy as I am to prove Uriah to be Mary’s father, I found an upsetting article in Chicago: It’s History and Builders. On pg. 413, the author discusses fugitive slaves being protected by the citizens of Chicago. An example is given to show tis feeling. It seems that my Uriah H. Hinch, of Mo.,appeared in Chicago in pursuit of several fugitive slaves. He brought a trusted slave with him to assist in identifying and arresting them. Uriah showed handbills all over town with pictures of the runaways and openly searched for them. He was approached by several respected citizens and told that he was “employed in an enterprise full of personal risk.” They hinted that a coat of tar and feathers was being prepared for him. Uriah appealed to a Justice for protection, but was told nothing could be done. An anti-slavery lawyer recommended that the safest course was immediate flight. In the meantime, Uriah’s trusted slave had disappeared, being last seen on a steamer heading for Canada. The book’s author ended up pointing out that “Mr. Uriah Hinch, a name which reminds one of Dicken’s ‘Uriah Heep’, also a personage of unpopular traits.” Evidently, Uriah quickly left town, never to return to Chicago.
Some more rather disturbing discoveries were made when I Googled “Mary Hinch”, “George W Pottorff”. Up came two well-sourced articles by J.R. Baker about the Missouri Bushwackers from Vernon County, Mo. One article listed them in alphabetical order. There was: “George W. Pottorff, bond, $1,000, arrested for aiding enemy”. The other article was about Capt. William Henry Taylor, former sheriff of Vernon County, and leader of the Bushwackers in that part of Missouri. For 7 pages, he details,in chronological order, Taylor and his men’s attacks on Union soldiers, their forts, and Union sympathizers. It tells of their kidnappings, murders, and the burnings of homes and barns in southwestern Missouri and Kansas. At the end, telling of Taylor’s personal life, it said that, “In 1861, Miss Sarah E. Pottorff, of Barry, Ill., became his wife.” It goes on to say, “Sarah was the daughter of George W Pottorff, who had been a Bushwacker under Taylor in the War.”
And, sure enough, in the 1870 census for Nevada, Vernon, Mo., Wm. H. Taylor and his wife, Sarah, are living next to George Pottorff and his younger children. His wife, Mary, has disappeared and has probably died. Missouri has few death records on line and she is not in the “Find A Grave” nor in cemetery listings for that area.
My last find for the Pottorff’s was in the Missouri State Archives, Missouri Union Provost Marshall Papers, 1861-1866. There is the following: “Pottorff, Geo. W., Nevada, Vernon County. Bond of $1000, arrested for aiding the enemy. Released in the security of D.D. Burgess, not to go beyond the lines of U.S. forces. Oath of Allegiance” 06-08-1862
All of this information feels like a kick in the stomach, but it does tie in to some of thr family trees on line. So now, off to check into Uriah Hinch’s parents. They were said to be Samuel Hinch and Charity Humble. Looks like Uriah was given his mother’s maiden name as his middle name. Charity’s parents were Uriah Humble and Charity Kuster/Custer. (Yes, supposedly a connection to Gen. Custer, but I haven’t looked for it yet).
These families are taken back to the 1600’s in England, Ireland, and Germany, if their research is correct. But there is a great deal of confusion in the on-line family trees because there was this Uriah Humble, Jr., and his father, Uriah Humble, Sr., also married to a woman named Charity. Some combined the two couples and posted birth and death dates over 113 years apart!! And, amazingly, others just copied this without thinking!
In googling “Uriah Humble”, I found wonderful reseach on the Kuster/Custer families on Rootsweb. On Genforum, there is a detailed history of the Humbles and Custers in Bucks County, Pa., including their arrival there from Durham, England in 1733. On Ancestry, I also found an article about the earliest settlers in the Shenandoah Valley, and Uriah, Sr., is listed there as a landowner in 1742.
While I didn’t find the will of Uriah, Sr., I did find in Pa. court records that his will was challenged. It seems that he left part of his lands and all of his slaves to his widow, Charity, and his son, Uriah, Jr. When his widow died, his other children challenged Uriah, Jr’s. right to keep all the slaves. The judge ruled that only ½ of the slaves belonged to Uriah and that his mother’s share should be equally divided amongst his siblings. He even had to include in the division ½ of the money he received from slaves he’d sold.
At the GenWeb site for Westmoreland County, Pa., there is an extract of Uriah, Jr’s. will of 17 July 1773. His son, Michael, was named executor in 1774. Unfortunately, this extract doesn’t list children, so I will need to get the original. While I haven’t found much about his daughter, Charity, I did find amazing information on Uriah, Jr’s sons, Michael and Conrad.
I found a 10 page article titled, “Kentucky Longrifles, Kentucky’s Humble Gunsmiths”. The object of the article was to determine if the “Kentucky Longrifle” was indeed first made in Kentucky in the 18th century and whether Michael Humble was the earliest gunsmith in the region. This sourced article not only details the history of this rifle and the surviving examples made by Michael and Conrad Humble, but also the history of the Humble/Kuster families. Both families included gunsmiths and the area they lived in in Bucks County, Pa., was the center of a gunsmithing industry. That is where Michael and Conrad were first apprenticed, before migrating with their family to the Shenandoah Valley. In the 1770’s and 1780’s, there was a big migration of people from that area of Virginia into Kentucky.
Michael arrived in Bourbon County, Ky., as early as 1774. He was a Captain in Kentucky militia in 1777, listed on the rolls as under the command of Gen. George Rogers Clark. In 1779, he was on the muster roll of Capt. James Harrod’s company. His first gun shop, probably the first one in Kentucky, was opened in 1777, near Fort Nelson, which is now Louisville. He was an armorer for Gen. Clark. In addition to repairing guns, he made guns for the forts and frontier outposts. He moved to Mercer County, near modern-day Danville, about 1782, where he built his home, gun shop and track for horse racing. Michael was actively involved in petitions for Kentucky statehood and several constitutional conventions were held in Danville. He died there in 1818.
Conrad Humble arrived in Kentucky about 1780 and bought extensive lands between 1780-1784. The book, Virginia Heads of Households, Rockingham County, Va., I learned that Conrad served in the American Revolution in the Virginia Militia. He previously owned land in Brock’s Gap, Augusta County, Va., where he is included on a 1777 list of tithable landowners. Conrad Humble is identified as having 300 acres. A footnote says that he was a blacksmith and maker of the Ky. Rifle. His neighbor was Jacob Lincoln, grandfather of Abraham. When he died in 1791, Conrad’s estate was extensive and included many luxury items that showed he was a wealthy man.
What is wonderful in the article is that in a section entitled “Getting Acquainted”, the author writes that Michael and Conrad’s father was Uriah Humble, Jr., an immigrant who arrived in Philadelphia in 1733, with his father, Uriah, Sr., and that Uriah, Jr. was naturalized there 7 years later. It says that Uriah, Jr. married Charity Kuster in 1735, and were in Augusta County, Va., by 1751, some of the earliest settlers in that area. The writer points out that Uriah’s name appears in the records there many times, often as a witness to a legal document “including the estate of his father-in-law, Conrad Kustar”. Conrad Humble also was a witness to several deeds there in the 1760’s.
At the end of this research week, the resources I found will enable me to take part of Mary Hinch’s line back 4 generations and I have many more names to check out. I have a few films to order so I can see entire wills and inventories. What an amazing week it was. Although some findings upset me a lot, I am reassured that my Pottorff grandfather was a most tolerant, loving man who would have disagreed with his grandfathers’ attitudes to slavery and the actions of the Bushwackers and that this legacy of hatred has not survived in the family.
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