The Mystery of Elizabeth Edwards

[ Originally published Friday, October 20, 2006]

Elizabeth Edwards was born on 06 Apr 1788 in Germantown, New York and was baptised on 20 Apr 1788. She was the first child of William Edwards and Christina Smith. We even know who her sponsors (ie. Godparents) were at her Baptism – Jacob Bekker & wife Elisabeth Schneider. The first 3 children of Christina and William are well documented having been born in Germantown whose records are still extant.

In 1807 Elizabeth married Elisha Allen in Glen, Montgomery County, NY. Her husband, Elisha, had been in Glen since at least 1800 since his father was listed on the 1800 census. They stayed in Glen through 1810, listed on that census as well. According to descendant, Dick Shea, they moved north to Jefferson County, New York around 1816.

With all this documented evidence it is indisputable that Elizabeth Edwards is the daughter of William Edwards and Christina Smith. How is it then that the family history passed down by Solomon Edwards, Elizabeth’s brother, to his son Dimmick, makes no mention of Elizabeth?

I can not attempt to solve this question but let’s look at a few facts. Elizabeth was born in 1788 and her brother, Solomon, was born in 1799. There was an 11 and a half year difference in their ages. In 1816 when Elizabeth removed to Jefferson County, Solomon would have been 17 years old. Three of William and Christina’s children, William, Solomon and Amanda relocated to Steuben County, New York at an unknown time prior to 1824. In 1824 Amanda returned to Glen for her wedding to John Olmstead. So we know that the Steuben County Edwards maintained contact with the Glen Edwards at least through 1824.

We don’t know at what age Solomon was when he passed on the family history. Presumably he would have spoken about his family throughout his life. It’s a mystery as to why Elizabeth is left off of his version. We can speculate that there may have been a rift between them that would cause the oversight. Regardless, there is no doubt that indeed Elizabeth was the child of William and Christina and therefore the older sister of Solomon.

More food for thought:

1) Why is Amanda Edwards, the youngest child, born a good 9 years after her next closest sibling, Solomon born in 1899?

2) If Amanda returned in 1824 (at age 16) for her wedding does that suggest that either Christina or William were still alive at that time?

History of the Edwards Genealogy


[Originally published Wednesday, October 18, 2006]

There have been a lot of genealogists in the Edwards family. The first genealogist I know of was Sarah Estella (Gurney) Edwards, wife of Seeber Edwards. I have correspondence of hers and her brother, Harris, showing their research into the Gurney family history in the early 1900s. I can only imagine that she also researched the Edwards line as well. There was also one letter I saw where Seeber, as well, was corresponding regarding one of his family lines.

The most well-known Edwards family historian to-date was William Henry Edwards II, or as we affectionately knew him, Uncle Bill. Uncle Bill had a tremendous love and knowledge of the Edwards family history. I believe this must have come from his parents. Uncle Bill had a number of records and notes on the family and could recite the family history from memory. He made quite an impression on my mother, Helen Edwards, and inspired her to become a genealogist. Unfortunately he died while I was still quite young so I never got the chance to know him.

In the 1960s my parents did quite a bit of family history research. They even went to Glen, NY and visited with the Dillenbecks, descendants of William Henry Edwards, who were still living in the Edwards homestead. They recorded an interview with Lucy Dillenbeck but unfortunately, 40 years later, nobody knows where that tape is.

And now here we are in 2006. I started researching the Edwards family history in 2004 in anticipation of the birth of my 3rd son who was named after my great grandfather, Seeber Edwards. I was looking for a unique name for my son and I couldn’t find any family name more unique than Seeber. However, at that time I knew little about my family history. Before naming my child after an unfamiliar relative I sought to find out a little more about his namesake. And thus began my journey into family history.

However, I didn’t stop with just my direct ancestors. Inspired by another family history book, The Silver Family in America by Benjamin Stump Silver, I decided to try to create a similar book for the descendants of William Edwards and Christina Smith. And since then I have been on a wonderful journey discovering all the descendants of our original Edwards immigrant ancestor. My website is a compilation of that work in progress.