Lots of new activity in the tree

…any questions?  Comments?  I’d love to hear from you!


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Welcome, New Editors!

We recently acquired two new tree editors and I would like to welcome them.  One is not a descendant, but is interested in the family of Stacy B Collins, a West descendant for whom her town in Minnesota was named.  She has agreed to add information on this in a few weeks, which I very much look forward to reading.  The other is a Starr descendant whose questions on the bulletin boards and personal family tree have won him my admiration.  I look forward to his contributions.

With new members arriving, this is a good time to remind everyone that no information in the tree is to be changed  without first challenging it on this site.  It can be hard to just leave in the tree something you feel to be incorrect, but please follow good form.  I know none of us would like to revisit one of our ancestors and find that the information we’ve entered was altered without our knowledge.  The Golden Rule predates even Christianity, but this is a Quaker family tree, so I will quote George Fox:

“Oh, do as you would be done by. And do unto all men as you would have them do unto you, for this is but the law and the prophet.”

And if you’ve finished adding the basics of your family, why not document them?  Birth certificates, death records, headstones, deeds, stories, photos of individuals, families and homes make them all more three-dimentional and are likely to be the basis for establishing authenticity of an individual person in the tree, should a dispute arise.

Right now I am preparing a list of surnames to post, and writing an article on the “Pennypott Tavern”, which will take some time to complete.  Still trying to come up with a valid list of hints for Ms. McGregor to pursue in Bristol and will publish them here for review or comment before I send them to her for the next round.  I have been going through wills and deeds, looking for connections between James West and others who originated in Bristol.



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Second Correspondence with Margaret McGregor Posted

In reviewing our site stats for pages visited, it has come to my attention that only one individual has reviewed the page titled “Correspondence with Margaret McGregor” in the month our site has been up and running, while the “Home” page has had seventy “hits”.  There have been a hundred and fifty-seven visits all together, but whose counting?  Oh, yeah…me! 🙂

Perhaps it has not been made clear that there are pages as well as posts here in Blog Land: certainly the tiny type announcing the presence of the pages is not suggestive of their importance.  When you are on the “Home” page, you will see that at the top of the page, just below the map, is a black bar that is home to three titles: “Welcome”, “Home” and “Correspondence with Margaret McGregor”: these are the pages.  At least, these are all of the pages the bar seems willing to display.  Never fear: I have added a complete list of “Pages” below the “Search” box in the column at the right of the page.  And while you’re over in that column, why not scroll further down and choose to “Follow” our site?  An email will be sent to you automatically when there’s an update if you choose to follow us.

I am working with Margaret McGregor of Bristol, England, in an effort to gain more knowledge about James West and his family before he arrived in America.  And why, you ask, would I share that information on such a public forum?  Because, as you will see if you view the page, it is my intent to do a well documented and thorough search—which is why I am using the well organized and experienced Ms. McGregor.  There is little benefit to any of us in duplicating one another’s efforts.  If you or one of the family historians in your branch have done similar research, I hope you will be equally forthcoming regarding your efforts, both successful and failed.  Whatever I learn through Margret McGregor’s efforts will be shared here and in the tree with all of you.  Here on our blog, it will be added to the page titled “Correspondence with Margaret McGregor”.  A review of what is on that page might prevent others from wasting time on a review of documents that have already been gone over by the competent Ms. McGregor, either now or in the future.

Last round, much was learned.  This round we were not so fortunate.  Still, something is gained by knowing where not to search.  All things in good time…

So pop by the “Correspondence with Margaret McGregor” page and see what’s been done to date.  If any of you have ideas regarding future research in Bristol, based on what we know to date, I’m open to specific suggestions.  I’m making up my list of suggested targets for her next report now.


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One thousand twenty nine and counting…

We have nearly doubled the number of James West descendants that were in the tree at its inception.  Thanks to all of you who are actively working on the tree (you know who you are!): I hope you find watching our tree grow as satisfying as I do.

Have you tree editors viewed branches other than your own?  I hope that if you haven’t you will.  There are a few celebrities in the tree: people who achieved prominence in their time, some with accomplishments that are part of the fabric of life today.  There are also some mysteries to be solved.    All in good time…

Right now my biggest mystery is how to handle tags and categories in this blog!  Never having done this before, it’s taking me some time to organize things in a way that I think will make sense to us all, so please bear with me.  If you are on the “Posts” page, you will see that the links and posts in the right hand column are beginning to reflect the new organization.  I’m hoping that when they are all in place it will be easy for us to find exactly whatever we are looking for.  For now, the “Search” button on the top of the right column is your best bet.  Plans for a Surname Index and a Descendant List are in place, but I’m waiting for the growth of the tree to slow a bit so I’m not re-doing them every week!


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Cooper, Coates, Milnor, Fisher, Wagner, Wharton, Allen and others: Schuylkill Fishing Company

“An authentic historical memoir of the Schuylkill Fishing Company of the state in Schuylkill. From its establishment on that romantic stream, near Philadelphia, in the year 1732, to the present time.”  Author: William Milnor; Publisher: Philadelphia, J. Dobson, 1830.  This work was updated in 1888 and noted to be “a reprint of Wm. Milnor, Jr.’s history of this Ancient Association, published in 1830, with a continuation of the same to the year 1888, to which is added a list of members from its formation to the present time…”  A copy of this latter work can be found for free on google books:


Not a business, as the name might imply, but an anglers’ club, claiming to be the oldest social club in the English-speaking world and still in existence, according to Wikipedia:


I found one of my Howell family on the list.  Info on the move to Rambo Rock may be of interest to those of you who are, like me, Rambo descendants.  William West (1759-1834ish) is noted as an informational source, though not listed as a member.  A surprising number of names from Northern Liberties.  There are photos of their clubhouse—the very amusing “Castle” with Gothic windows.  Happy fishing!


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Unlikely Resource for Families with Ties to Mariners, found in the Trees

While researching the other day, I stumbled upon a book titled, “Some Accounts of the Tree Family and its Connections in England and America”.   This book was printed for private circulation by J.B. Lippincott Company in 1908 and contains 105 pages.  It can be found on both google.com and archive.org.  I stumbled upon it because I’ve been trying to flesh out Samuel Volans (1773-1858) who married Mary Cooper (1775-1858), a West descendant.  His father, Joseph Volans/Volens was a mariner.  Samuel Volans was a sea captain.  There weren’t very many of that name in Philadelphia early on, so other than spelling variants, searching was rather easy.

In this volume, “Volans” appeared in “LIST OF NAMES OF MEMBERS BELONGING TO THE SOCIETY FOR THE RELIEF OF POOR AND DISTRESSED MASTERS OF SHIPS, THEIR WIDOWS AND CHILDREN. FROM 1765-1812.”  The list is at the very back of the book.  Both Samuel Volans and his father are listed as members, Samuel having joined October 1799, and Joseph having joined January 1763.  Additionally, two Wests are listed: William West who joined July 1796 and Charles West who joined October, 1765.

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) has the original documents for this Society in their Manuscripts Collection:


Society for the Relief of Poor and Distressed Masters of Ships, Their Widows and Children. Records, 1765-1923.  (7 linear ft.)

The papers of the Society for the Relief of Poor and Distressed Masters of Ships, Their Widows and Children include minute books, 1765-1922; dues books, 1768-1922; and other similar records.  Deposited by the Fidelity-Philadelphia Trust Company, 1945.

Those of you with merchants or mariners in your lines may want to take a few minutes to search the list reproduced in the Tree Family book for your ancestors from the Society’s inception in 1765 up to 1812.  The HSP might be consulted for  information regarding subsequent years.


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Have you seen Elizabeth Drinker’s Diary?

“[Drinker’s] diary, which spans the years 1758 to 1807, is the most substantial woman’s diary that survives from eighteenth-century America; and it ranks with the diaries of Samuel Sewall, William Byrd, Landon Carter, John Adams, and William Bentley in its richness as a source for understanding the social and cultural history of the period it covers.”

If the above praise from American Historical Review is enough to pique your interest, wait until you hear this: you won’t always be reading about someone else’s ancestors.  The Drinker diary is full of references to Charles West (1725-1796), son of Charles West b. 1690 (the inheritor of the shipyard in Northern Liberties) and grandson of of our ancestor James West, shipwright.  At least seven of the references use his full name, but many refer to him simply as “C. West”.  A sampling:


“Oct 7.  Went to ye Burial of John Houghton—and on the third day last, Jos. Richardson was also Buried.  Many have been lately taken off.  Charles West has been very ill—on the fourth day last, Hannah Hopkins was sent for from home, her father and mother both being unwell.”

Additionally, numerous other family members and those allied with them are mentioned.  Scattergood, Starr, Warner, Fisher, and Volans are among the ones I’ve noted so far.  The original diaries reside at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Collection ID #1760.  Google Books has a searchable copy of the Diary Extracts, published 1908.  There are also various formats available on archive.org.  A new edition (2010; 2011) has been published by the University of Pennsylvania Press with a preface by Elaine Forman Crane, Professor of History at Fordham University.

If you decide to read the Diary (so far I’ve only skimmed it, looking for references), please add a “Story” or “Fact” to the individual’s “Overview” page in our tree if you do find something of interest about one of our James West descendants!


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