I have a friend whom I met a number of years ago through my work, and because of my work, every few years I’m able to see him and we are able to catch up. This past February he came to our office and during our conversation he shared some information about his great-great-grandparents. Hugo F. Engels (1836-1911) and Mary Olivia Phillips (1852-1904). Hugo F. Engels was a pretty well-known name in his time. Here is the obituary for Hugo F. Engels:
My friend seemed to know quite a bit about Hugo’s family, but knew very little about his great-great-grandmother, Mary Olivia Phillips. I told him I would do some investigating to find out more about Mary and her family.
Searching on Ancestry for Mary’s family, the first record hit I got was the 1860 census:
You see that her parents were Jesse and Dora A. Phillips.
I began looking for a marriage record for a Jesse Phillips and this is what I found:
I then began looking at Jesse Phillip’s family. The amount of records for Jesse were limited, but looking at Family Trees on Ancestry suggested that Jesse’s parents were Lovel Phillips (1804-1846) and Martha Crane (1807-1885). I did a hardcore search and came up empty handed, however, I then came across Lovel’s and Martha’s resting place on Find A Grave, in the Maple Street Cemetery, Bethlehem, Grafton County, New Hampshire.
There is a rather large Phillips family monument at there grave sites:
Luckily, the photographer at the cemetery took another closer photograph of the monument, and got the names for Lovel and Martha:
Under the links for children, there was Jesse B. Phillips…now, this is not proof of a son and parents relationship, but I clicked on the link and was pleasantly surprised to see that Jesse’s name was also on the same family monument:
I still did not feel comfortable declaring Jesse as the son of Lovel and Martha as of yet, so I dug in deeper. I went to FamilySearch’s Records page and clicked on the browse link on the right hand side under “Find a Collection”:
I then clicked on United States of America on the left side, which expands to a selection of all the States:
I then selected New Hampshire:
I then had a choice of Probate links to choose from, so I started at the bottom and worked my way up. Of course, it wasn’t until the last link (the one at the top) that I found what I was looking for (with my luck, if I had started at the top, it would have been the last link at the bottom):
Now the real work began. I clicked on the “Browse through the images” link which took me to the next page. The only County listed was Grafton:
I clicked the link and it brought up this and clicked the link “Probate Records”:
Typically on these pages with files listed, the links are usually in some sort of order:
I had to go hunting. I brought up the Find option for my browser (CTRL-F – on your keyboard, if you hold down the shift key and hit the F key while in your internet browser, you can search for text on the current page) and then typed in the year 1846, the year of Lovel Phillips death and got to this one:
I clicked the link which took me to the book I wanted. Now I just had to get to the names beginning with the letter “P”. After doing this type of research, you get a sense of where alphabetical names are based on page numbers; etc., so I took a shot. There are 864 pages in this file:
I made a guess at about page 400…I typed in the number 400 in the field shown above that has the number 1 in it and hit Enter. That got me to the “M”s. So I took a 2nd guess at page 500 and Bingo! The name written is L. Philips:
I made a mad dash back to the beginning of Lovel Phillip’s Estate Probate file to see if I could find Jesse’s name. Nothing. So I went back to the page I started at and went forward. I only had to go another 26 pages and there it was, the children listed for Lovel Phillips and Martha Crane, and Jesse is the 2nd named son above the age of fourteen. The area in the red box reads as follows.
“…Nathaniel Phillips, Jesse Phillips & Robert S. Phillips, Children of Lovel Phillips late of Bethlehem in said County deceased and minors over the age of fourteen…”:
Remember that these search techniques on FamilySearch will sometimes be unique to each ancestor, and very manually involved, so don’t get discouraged. You will have to sometimes be creative and think outside the box when doing this, but most of all, you must be diligent, and if you are, the pay off will be huge.
Now it was clear that Jesse B. Phillips was the son of Lovel Phillips and Martha Crane.
My next step was to look into Lovel Phillips and his parents (just a note here, that I do research the wives of ancestors, but for this post I wanted to concentrate specifically on a particular lineage).
Again, I went back to the family trees just to see who people were claiming as Lovel’s parents. They were supposedly Jesse Phillips (1775-1828) and Lydia Bolles (1778-1846).
When I saw the name Bolles, something made bells go off inside my head. I don’t know if it was a name that I had seen before or what, but I knew I had to confirm things before I put the cart before the horse.
I first looked for a will or estate papers for a Jesse Phillips that supposedly passed away in 1828 in Grafton County, New Hampshire. It didn’t take long. I found a 126 page estate package for Jesse Phillips in Grafton. I meticulously went through each page looking for the name Lovel. It wasn’t long before I was rewarded:
The above reads as “Acknowledgements of advancements out of Jesse Phillips’ Estate to Lovell Phillips $150.00”
I clicked to the next page and found this:
A portion of the above reads ”…I have received one hundred and fifty Dollars in part for my portion out of my Father, Jesse Phillips Estate before his decease…Lovel Phillips…”.
Now, Jesse’s better half, Lydia Bolles was my next conquest for finding information. I found the marriage record for Jesse and Lydia:
You’ll notice that the person that married them also has the last name Bolles. Nathaniel Bolles (1758-1843)is Lydia’s father who was a minister. Lydia’s mother was Thankful Bolles (1760-1849), a cousin to Nathaniel (not unusual for cousins to marry around this time). I found his will in 1829, Cheshire, New Hampshire, naming one of his seven daughters, Lydia Phillips:
A portion of the above reads ”…to my seven daughters, that is to say, Lydia Phillips…”.
Here is a record of the recorded birth for Nathaniel, as the son of David and Lidea Bolles:
I found this in the book called “Genealogy of the Bolles Family” by John Augustus Bolles:
I searched for a marriage record for David Bolles and his wife Lydia. I found it…Lydia’s maiden name was Kirby:
I decided to do an internet search on the names David Bolles and Lydia Kirby and lo and behold, I see on a Rootsweb page, Lydia’s name and the word “Mayflower” and descendant #59631.
This is what I was able to put together from this:
The names and numbers are documented by the Silver Book, Vol. 12, Page 528.
What are “Silver Books”? The Mayflower “Silver Books” provide biographical and genealogical information on the Mayflower Pilgrim descendants. The index will provide records that include: Baptism, Birth, Marriage, Marriage Intentions, Deeds, Death, and Burial Records.
My friend now knows he is a direct descendant of Francis Cooke and is a Mayflower descendant and can now join “The Mayflower Society”.
Prior to finding the record proving the son to parents relationship for Jesse B. Phillips, I found the obituary for Jesse’s brother Nathaniel, further solidifying the Mayflower descendency for the Phillips family:
Mayflower Silver Books
“Calling All Mayflower Descendants” Facebook Group
My friend, who now has some bragging rights
My wife, Cheryl whose love and support is all I’ll ever really need
For all those reading this post, please stay safe and stay healthy.
Brian S. Miller