The Bounder


William Anderson, the fourth child of John and Catherine Anderson, was born in 1799. He was my third great grandfather, and quite a bold fellow he was! In 1819 at the age of 20, William Anderson fathered a child out of wedlock by Elizabeth Hixenbough who was 10 years his senior. Elizabeth Hixenbough was born around 1789, the daughter of Jacob and Mary Ann Hixenbough of Hunterdon.

Pregnancy outside of marriage was not uncommon in the 19th century, especially out on the frontier where a justice of the peace or clergyman was not always readily available, and where children were welcome as future laborers. But I would have thought that in relatively settled New Jersey, William and Elizabeth’s situation would be considered shocking and shameful! I wonder why they were not … strongly encouraged … to marry. The Hixenboughs and the Andersons were neighbors! And there was certainly no mystery regarding Elizabeth’s son’s parentage — although born out of wedlock, the son carried his father’s name: William Anderson, Jr. And they all sound pretty cozy.

Elizabeth Hixenbough’s father, Jacob Hixenbough died intestate about 1823 and her mother willed her property to her unmarried children specifying that if any should predecease her, the survivors would receive that share for their lifetimes, and then it was to pass to “William Anderson, son of my daughter Elizabeth.” Curiously, one of the executors of this will was John Anderson, Sr., the grandfather of William Anderson’s illegitimate son. And one of the witnesses was David Biggs, brother in law of William Anderson. Similarly, the will of William, Jr.’s aunt, who bequeathed her estate to her nephew, was witnessed by David Biggs.

William Anderson, Jr., somehow, seemed to escape the stigma of illegitimacy. He became a wheelwright, married twice, had seven children and was throughout his lifetime one of the well-to-do members of the Lebanon Township Community.


In 1824, just a few years after the birth of his illegitimate son, my third great grandfather William Anderson married Elizabeth Castner. He was 25 and she was 19. They had three children: Daniel Castner Anderson, born in 1826; Mary Ann Anderson, born in 1828; and Elizabeth Catherine Anderson, born in 1829.

A Hunterdon County deed from 1829 indicates that William owed his father in law, Daniel Castner $436.12, as well as owing money to 11 other men. Commissioners were appointed by the court to settle his affairs, and in 1831 his farm was auctioned off. William’s father in law, Daniel Castner was the high bidder! And in 1836, William Anderson, Sr. deserted his family in New Jersey to homestead in Stoney Creek Township, Madison County, Indiana.

I don’t know what became of Elizabeth Castner Anderson, but apparently her young children grew up in the home of or at least around, their grandfather, John Anderson.  Elizabeth and William’s daughter Mary Ann died quite young, but his other children seemed to have fared pretty well. Okay, now –stay with me — this is really complicated: On November 18, 1849, in a double wedding ceremony, Daniel Castner Anderson married Mary Ann Anthony (the niece of his grandfather’s second wife, Anna Rosina Anthony) and his sister Elizabeth Catherine Anderson married Peter Tiger (undoubtedly a relative of my third great grandfather’s sister’s husband). No fool Daniel, shortly before his marriage, he entered into a property agreement that guaranteed that he would eventually become the owner of John Anderson’s extensive farms. Daniel and his wife had one son and six daughters.


So let’s catch up with my third great grandfather, William Anderson.  Having seemingly escaped his family obligations in New Jersey, my third great grandfather started a second family (or third depending on whether or not you count Miss Hixenbough and her son) in Indiana with Sarah Corzatt, his common law wife. Sarah Corzatt was my third great grandmother.

Madison County is located to the east of Indianapolis. A text entitled The History of Madison County from 1820 – 1874 lists a John Anderson among the first settlers of the region. Could this be “our” John Anderson, the brother of my third great grandfather? We do know that John Anderson preceded his brothers William and Henry on the journey from New Jersey to the Indiana frontier.

I can’t figure out where, when or how William and Sarah Corzatt became acquainted. Sarah was born in Warren, Ohio, the daughter of George Corzatt and Phebe Cregar, both born in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Curiously, George and Phebe were married in Hunterdon, New Jersey in 1919. By 1820 when Sarah was born, the Corzatts had made their way to Warren, Ohio.


I don’t believe that William Anderson and Sarah Corzatt were formally married. They had, however, 13 children, the eldest born when William was around 40 years of age and Sarah was 20.

  • Andrew Anderson was born in Madison County, Indiana in 1839. He was drafted to serve in the 30th Indiana Infantry. He died in 1864 at the age of 25, undoubtedly of wounds or illness related to the Civil War, and is buried in the Woodward Quinn Cemetery in Madison County Indiana.
  • Elizabeth Anderson was born in Stony Creek, Madison County, around 1842. She married Nathan Young in 1859 at the age of 17. He was 26, and they had at least one child. She died in 1968 at the age of 26. A few years later, her younger sister married her widower.
  • Mary Jane Anderson was born in 1844. She married Joshua Teeters in 1865 at the age of 21 – he was 30 years old — and they had six children. I don’t know when Mary Jane died – her husband Joshua died in 1905.
  • Julia Ann Anderson born around 1847 in Hamilton County. She married Levi DeLawter in 1870 and they had at least five children. Levi died in 1904 and Julia died in 1909.
  • Louisa Anderson was born in 1848. In 1868, at the age of 20, married her older sister’s widower, Nathan Young, age 35, and they had at least three children. Nathan died in 1922 at the age of 89, and Louisa died in 1926 at the age of 77.
  • Henrietta was born in 1851 in Hamilton County. In 1872, at the age of 21, she married Charles Rohler.
  • William Anderson and Sarah Corzatt’s seventh child, Lucinda, was born in 1853. Lucinda! She was my great great grandmother, and she will get a post all to herself!
  • Rachel was born in 1854. In 1875, at the age of 21, she married 23 year old William Rhoads. They had two children. I don’t know when William Rhoads died, but in 1885 Rachel married William H. Stearn and they had two more children. Rachel died in 1933 at the age of 79. William Stern died in 1943 at the age of 86.
  • John, the ninth Anderson child, was born 1857. He was married to Margaret I. Smith in 1877 and they had five children.
  • Cassius Anderson born in 1860 and in 1885, he married 24 year old Mathilde Passwater. Cassius’ skull was fractured when he was struck by and automobile in 1930. He was 70 years old at the time of his death.
  • Sarah Mariah, twin sister of Cassius, married Joseph Crooks and they had four children. Sarah died in 1932 at the age of 72.
  • And finally, William and Sarah may have had a son named Samuel A. Anderson. Several of my fellow researchers on name a son born in either 1858 or 1863. I have never been able to track down any support for this.


Among the things that interest me about these folks — the siblings of my great great grandmother and their spouses – are:

* the motivations behind the various relocations. By the 1850 U.S. Census, the entire family was living in Wayne Township, Hamilton County, Indiana, so it seems that William and Sarah’s first three children of were born in Madison County, while the rest followed in Hamilton County. Having been settled in Wayne County for a number of years, one wonders what made them pick up and move again. (Hamilton County is located just north of Indianapolis.)

* the ages of the marriages and childbearing. Imagine having your first child at the age of 19 and your final child more than 20 years later! Imagine having borne nine children and then having twins! And all these children lived, in a time rife with death from disease and accidents, not to mention war.

*and their often impressive longevity. With the exception of William and Sarah’s eldest son, Andrew, the males of appropriate age to fight in the Civil War seemed to have survived. I am curious to explore what each of them did in 1860s.




John Anderson and Catherine Emery, my Fourth Great Grandparents

Several years ago, I was fortunate to “meet” Laura Ackerman on Laura is an experienced researcher who noticed that I was researching my third great grandfather William Anderson. She was helping her husband’s cousin, also a descendent of William Anderson, and was kind enough to provide me with relevant portions from two books, Conrad Emery and Descendants and Stevensons and Andersons. So much information! Thanks Laura!

The Anderson branch of my family is rooted in Lebanon, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, which is located in the western part of the state, just east of Allentown, Pennsylvania.  The name Anderson appears in historical records of West Jersey as early as 1733. And many Hunterdon County Andersons were soldiers during the American Revolution. (Hey! A bit more information and maybe I can become a member of the DAR!) Genealogical maps based on the examination of Hunterdon County deeds show in the 1790s, a Samuel Anderson as the owner of 60 acres located very close to 106 acres owned by Hendrick Henry, a second generation German whose name was later anglicized to Henry Emery. Samuel Anderson was likely the father of John Anderson, my fourth great grandfather, and Henry Emery was the father of my fourth great grandmother Catherine Emery.

“It is high time to quit wandering around in historical fog and to proceed to such solid facts about the Andersons as we have been able to turn up.”

John Anderson, my fourth great grandfather, was born in Hunterdon County in 1770. He was likely well educated, and as a justice of the peace was entitled to sign “esquire” after his name. Catherine Emery, my fourth great grandmother, was also born in Hunterdon County in 1769, the eldest of seven children of Henry Emery and Anna Lomason.

In 1792, both aged 23, Catherine and John married.

Catherine and John had six children:

  • Anna was born in 1793 in Hunterdon County. She married a man with the rather wonderful name of Christopher Tiger. In 1850, the Tigers owned 169 acres of land. In 1855, Anna’s father deeded 78 acres of land in Lebanon Township to her. Anna was, in fact, the only one of John and Catherine’s children who remained in New Jersey and she and Christopher had 13 children. Anna died in 1870 and her husband died the next year.
  • John and Catherine Anderson’s second child Samuel, was born around 1795. He injured both his legs was as a youth and walked with two canes. Samuel’s wife’s name was Sarah – they had four children. The family traveled went west to Goshen, Ohio, where Samuel owned land and taught school.
  • The third Anderson child was Henry, born in 1797. He married Elizabeth Stevenson and they had nine children, some born in New Jersey and some born after they made their way to Indiana, where his property lay a short distance from property owned by his two younger brothers, William and John, Jr.  Henry’s first wife died in 1840 and Henry married a young widow named Lydia Opdycke Fisher, his first cousin – their mothers were sisters — and they had five more children. The father of 14 children, Henry lived to the age of 91.
  • John and Catherine’s fourth child was William Anderson, born in Lebanon in 1799. William was my third great grandfather – we will learn more about him later!
  • Elizabeth Anderson, the fifth child of Catherine and John, was born in 1801. In 1819, Elizabeth married a neighbor, David G. Biggs and they had five children. Genealogical maps based on deeds on file in the Hunterdon County Hall of Records show that the Biggs’ property was located close to land owned by William Anderson, John Anderson, Sr., the Hixenbough heirs (more about them soon!) and the Tigers. The Biggs family eventually settled in Illinois.
  • John and Catherine’s youngest child, John Anderson, Jr., was born in 1803. In 1824, John married Nancy Ann Stevenson, whose sister was married to his older brother Henry. The newlywed couple set out for Clermont County, Ohio where numerous Hunterdon County friends, neighbors and relatives had immigrated. John and Nancy Ann had four children before leaving Ohio for Indiana where they were joined by John’s brothers William and Henry, and where they had six more children. Apparently, Nancy Ann found frontier life difficult and missed the relative comfort and convenience of New Jersey.


 Catherine Emery Anderson, my fourth great grandmother, died in 1806 at the age of 36 when her youngest child, John Jr., was just two years old. The next year, John Anderson Sr. married 21 year old Anna Rosina Anthony. It seems that John and Anna did not have any children. Shortly after John’s marriage to Anna Anthony, his sons were bound out to learn trades. This was, apparently, no indication of poverty or neglect on the part of the father or young step-mother, but rather evidence of the fact specialization in occupations was beginning. Anna died in 1860 at the age of 75, five years before her husband. She is buried at Spruce Run Cemetery in Glen Gardner, New Jersey.

spruce run cemetery

John Anderson died in 1865 at the home of his daughter and son in law, Anna and Christopher Tiger. He achieved the age of 96 and joined his second wife in the Spruce Run Cemetery with an excellent inscription: “Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.” (Genesis 25:8)

John Anderson 1865 (1)

Fun with Yearbooks

So here’s just a little something that you might not know: My father, Garth Thomas, was married briefly and divorced before he met and married Mona. You might wonder how I learned this. Well of course, I learned it as one should — from the original document! When I was a kid — maybe around 11 or 12 — I was home sick from school and passed my time doing what every bored, nosey and apparently not all that sick kid would do: I poked around in a drawer full of old documents and photos. There, I found my parents’ marriage license. And what did it reveal, but my father’s first marriage!

mona garth marriage

Well, of course I was shocked and devastated! I immediately imagined an entire other family chock full of my half brothers and sisters. I immediately confronted my mother with my evidence (well, not immediately – if I remember correctly I first consulted BFF Lenore Glaser), which of course meant I had confess that I had been snooping through stuff that was arguably none of my business. She told me, very matter-of-factly, that Garth’s first marriage was brief. He was married in Kansas and then the young couple went to Boston where Garth was getting his PhD. at Harvard. There, she left him for some other bright young Harvard man. Mona assured me that Garth was divorced well before they met and there were no children. Whew! She did tell me that the first time she went to Pittsburg to meet the Thomas family, the first wife’s image had been carefully cut out of all family photos. I have to think that Garth’s parents, my grandparents Opal and Leslie, straight laced midwestern Methodists, were shocked and scandalized to have a divorce in the family!


Once again, my research on revealed much, much more! As I searched records for Garth, several unfamiliar family trees popped up. They were family trees belonging to descendants of Garth’s first wife! Why these folks felt it necessary to include Garth is a bit beyond me. I certainly feel no need to include this lady on my family tree as she is not “family.” But now that we have her, I guess we should deal with her.

Her name was Louise Alberta Carpenter and she was born in Pleasanton, Kansas in 1919. According to her descendants, Louise and Garth were married on August 27, 1939, although I haven’t found any documentation of this. This was while Garth was getting his Master’s Degree at the University of Kansas.

Have a look at the information on Garth’s 1940 draft registration card:

Garth draft card


I don’t know when Garth and Louise divorced but in January of 1945, Louise married a man by the name of Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider. He went on to be very prominent in the fields of psychology and computer science.

Garth and Mona were married in September of 1945, and everyone lived happily ever after….


My last few posts have focused on yearbooks that were recently added to the searchable databases. But I have in my possession Garth’s ACTUAL yearbook from his final year at Kansas State Teachers College. That’s right – the 1938 Kanza – the one signed by Garth’s friends and professors! And it sure is interesting!

Kanza 38



Here is Garth as a college senior– he was so handsome:

Senior yearbook 1_0005


Senior yearbook 1_0002

There is a studious Garth in the center towards the top. Hard to believe that the yearbook would publish the comment, “Garth’s mind is on Louise or Psychology, guess which? With the wind, his hair, and all the horns blowing how can he stand it?” Apparently, Garth had some friends on the yearbook staff and they had some thoughts about Louise Carpenter. Below, see what Gordon, the Art Editor of the yearbook, had to say. And in the crease, where it’s hard for you to read, the Managing Editor of the yearbook commented: “To the swellest TGIF member of the whole bunch – the only thing I have against you is that you spend too much time with L. C. and not enough with us -” And I love Fred’s reference in the text to the “serious, depression – themes” of the previous year’s Kanza. Time to get some fun out of life, according to Fred!

Senior yearbook 1_0010


And speaking of fun, what is this T.G.I F. group that Garth was a part of?

Kanza 38 final 2


He makes no reference to either Louise or T.G.I.F., but I like this Marshall fellow who apparently “abhors” Democrats and Communists and who labels Garth “a great guy” but a Communist.

Kanza 38 final 3


In spite of being an active participant in this T.G.I.F. group, whatever that was, Garth still had time to participate in Sigma Phi Mu, the honorary fraternity for students of psychology and philosophy. He served as Treasurer of the organization.

Kanza 38 final


Other than the comments by Garth’s friends, I have not been able to locate Louise Carpenter anywhere in this yearbook but I feel like she too must have been a K.S.T.C. student. Where is she? In fact, I have not been able to find a photo of her anywhere!


P.S. Look who else made it into the 1938 Kanza!! Little sister Shirley, class of 1941!! (By the way, I have some of Shirley’s yearbooks too … another story for another day!)

Senior yearbook 8_0004 (2)

Garth Johnson Thomas, College Junior

37 Kanza

The year is 1937, and as the world teeters on the brink of World War II, the young students at Kansas State Teachers College (or at least their yearbook committee!) seem caught up in anxiety and uncertainty. Just look at some of the text from the 1937 Kanza – some pretty intense stuff for a college yearbook:

Garth college 2

Garth college 3

Garth college 5
























Garth college 6















In 1937, my father was a Junior at Kansas State Teachers College in his hometown of Pittsburg, Kansas. Is it just me, or was Garth a very handsome young man?

Garth College Junior

Clearly still on his mission to become a great scientist, Garth was the President of Sigma Phi Mu, the honorary fraternity of science and philosophy.

Garth Collerge 37 Sigma phi

I imagine that Garth spent many hours in the state of the art Carney Hall, “one of the best equipped buildings of its kind in the state.”

Carney Hall.jpg

And finally, from the 1937 Kanza, the yearbook of Kansas State Teachers College:



beer parties



Garth, 1934, the High School Graduate

yearbook cover

One of the things I noticed looking though my parents’ high school yearbooks is that yearbooks haven’t changed very much over the last 75 years. Individual pictures of each student are followed by all the various clubs, sports and activities. Students sign one another’s books and promise eternal friendship. The seniors are quoted and predictions are made.  (Annoyingly, the student pictures in Garth’s yearbooks are not alphabetical and there is no index. And I notice that the building depicted on the cover of Garth’s 1934 yearbook is clearly NOT Pittsburg High School!)

Garth PHS 34

Eighteen year old Garth is bright and ambitious, and not particularly modest!

Garth 1934 indiv photo

He is, of course, a member of the Science Club, which has now become the Shulen Von Wissensehaft. (Garth did believe that German is the language of science!) All that surprises me here is that Garth is part of the photography department, but none of the disciplines represented in the club strike me as particularly up his alley.

Garth 34 science club

He looks quite serious!

Garth 34 science club


Garth was also a member of something called Hi – Y.


My favorite: Garth’s nickname is “Prof.” and his favorite expression is “Prove it.” Yep — that’s my father!

Garth 1934 yearbook prove it








I have learned that it can sometimes be a bit … unnerving … to snoop around in one’s family past. One never knows what information is just waiting to be discovered. One might find one’s self genetically linked to delightful African Canadian cousins and discover historical information about ancestors who were born into slavery. Or one might learn fun facts like that one’s own grandmother was several months pregnant when she married. One might come across intriguing hints about one’s father’s very young first marriage – stuff like that.

While I’m fascinated by the more distant past, I feel just a little detached from it. It is something else entirely to start poking around into the young lives of one’s own parents. It’s almost impossible to imagine “mom and dad” as young adults doing things like having crushes, participating in campus clubs, graduating from high school, choosing careers, getting friends to sign their yearbooks …. recently added American high school yearbooks (1900 – 1990) to their searchable database. (And that reminded me that I have in my possession several of Garth’s and Shirley’s high school and college yearbooks – I have never looked at them very closely, but I will now! What stories these yearbooks tell!)

Predictably, the new information offered on reveals some information about the Kansas folks, but very little on Mona. That’s quite possibly because the Gees/Shaws bounced back and forth between Canada and the U.S., changing professions and religions (and sometimes even races!) for a couple of generations. I have never had a very clear picture of where my mother actually grew up – but now I know this:

In 1938, my mother, Mona Gee, was a graduating senior at Detroit Central High School.


Mona's hs
Detroit Central High School


And she was BEAUTIFUL!

 last try


Mona was a member of the Ellen H. Richards Club which was organized to promote interest in home economics, promote fellowship and contribute to the school’s social atmosphere, all noble goals at which Mona certainly excelled!

Ellen Club

Much to my disappointment, and probably Mona’s as well, she was apparently absent on the day the yearbook photo was taken!

Ellen Club 2 


Susan Jane Christian Gee – the Final Word

One might assume that when Susan made that fateful decision to live her life as a white woman, she severed all ties to home and family. But apparently, that was not entirely the case. While we know that many of her descendants knew absolutely nothing about her (and their!) African ancestry, some family relationships continued. We know that when Susan, after traveling and living abroad for more than ten years, returned to Canada with her English husband and four young children, they were going to join her brother, Thomas Christian.

Betty Kurkjian (daughter of Cyril Gee, niece of J. Ronald Gee, Mona’s first cousin) shared this memory of Susan:

My mom and my older sister and I had to move from Detroit to Windsor and we took up residence with my grandmother at 182 Lincoln St. in Windsor. My aunt Dorothy was living there as well. Prior to WWII, my family lived for a short time with Grandma Gee in Windsor.

My mother did not get along with Grandma Gee and said Grandma spent a good deal of her time in her room reading her bible. Well in a way I couldn’t blame her. I was around 4 years old and my sister was 9. I’m not sure we were entirely welcome. My mom was the one who told me most of grandma’s background, although I know she did not know of her African heritage.

My mom told me while we were living with her, she would occasionally disappear to visit a sister who had married an African Canadian.  So perhaps she wanted to maintain that family relationship.

Mom said Grandma had quite a temper. She remembered her chasing my dad around the kitchen with an iron frying pan when she was upset with him.

Cousin Jean Bridges, a descendant of Susan’s sister, Ada Vincent tells us that when she was visiting cousins in Cleveland:

I remember opening the door for a man who dropped by for a visit. It was later in the day explained that he was “a gone white relative.” It seems that when he traveled nearby, he did drop by to visit his cousins. Many have found it easier to find employment, education and opportunities if one could pass as white. 

Who that “gone white relative” was I can’t say, but I have a hunch that it was my grandfather’s brother Cyril – just a feeling.

So what would Susan think of us … researching the census records of three countries; examining ship passenger lists; tracing her travels through Europe; discovering her secrets that weren’t so secret after all; taking DNA tests; and eventually meeting cousins from a branch of the tree that some of us didn’t even know existed? (My grandfather, J. Ronald Gee, had 16 first cousins who at various times were described in census records as Black, Negro, colored, non-white and mulatto!)


susan's grave
Susan Gee is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Walkerville.

Bill Gee and I

My mother’s first cousin Bill Gee, son of Ronnie’s brother Bruce, came to visit from Toronto. Bill and Joan took us out for a great lunch and then we returned to Park Street to swap stories and photographs.

Bill Gee

Bill Gee 2


It’s funny – I have to remember that just because I don’t know something – some bit of family  history – doesn’t mean others share my ignorance. Bill and I looked at several pictures of my mother’s brother, Bill Gee (“the other Bill Gee”). There are several photos of Mona’s brother Bill in which it his African ancestry seems pretty apparent, and there are several pictures of him with his grandmother Susan. Was he a favorite of hers? I have not seen any pictures of her with any of her other grandchildren. Anyway, I mentioned  that I “thought” my mother’s brother Bill died in a VA hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan. Oh yes, not only could my cousin Bill confirm that, but he added that he actually visited Bill Gee at that hospital.

“He is an interesting story. I saw him a few times in Romeo and a couple times after he came back from the war. On the first occasion, he knew he was going to die and was making the rounds of relatives to say goodbye. Can you imagine? In any case, he came waltzing into the house (only my mother and I were there at the time) with this breezy, happy attitude as though he didn’t have a care in the world. It was quite amazing. Shortly after, when I was about 12, I went with my parents to visit him at the veteran’s hospital in Battle Creek. He was laying in bed and still cracking funnies doing his best to make everyone laugh. I later heard from Jack that his mother never forgave Ronnie for not getting Bill deferred when he could have done so.”

Susan Christian and Bill Gee - Copy