Van Valin Mysteries, Chapter One: McCord

I have been searching and not finding, so I thought I would narrate my quest for a bit in hopes of… well, either coming up with some good idea myself, or perhaps by some strange stroke of luck, having someone with a clue stumble across this humble little blog.

 The Van Valin line is my great-grandmothers, my father’s mother’s mother’s line, and it has become one of my main focal points.  The family has been well documented, or tracked at least, from the time of my 3rd great-grandparents forward, and from the time of my 5th or 6th great-grandfathers and preceeding.  So in between lies a little bit of mystery, and I would love to clarify it more.

 In fact, I was charged with the task by one of the family historians of my larger Van Valin clan to research the siblings of my 3rd great-grandfather.  So, I’ve taken up the charge.  I have made some progress, and I’m proud to say I’ve unraveled some mysteries that seem to have escaped even dear Oliver himself (the 3rd great).

Oliver’s parents were Daniel Van Valin and Susannah Lamphier.  Interesting story there.  It seems that they married when Susannah was barely 12 years old.  Census records seem to confirm this, and as wild as it seems, it is more likely than that she gave birth for the last time at age 59, which would be the case using the birthdate recorded in the family history of my line.

Oliver and Susannah’s first child was born in 1803 (mom had not quite turned 13 yet!); Elizabeth (Betsey) Ann.  Seems that Betsey Ann married Andrew McCord in March, 1822, according to a newspaper item recorded in Dutchess Co.  Now, I did some clever sleuthing and discovered that two daughters who were said to be of her younger sister Margaret were actually McCords, and therefore Betsey Ann’s children.  Basically some backwards working through census records of descendents, and then the golden death certificate that listed father’s and mother’s maiden name:  McCord. 

Elizabeth McCord was born about March, 1822.  The only really tricky detail left is that this is when her parents were supposedly getting married.  I believe that birth date comes from the 1900 census, which of course may be off a year.  She apparently married a John Borum before 1850 and lived in Buffalo, with two McCord young men who might be her brothers:  Andrew (b. 1828) and Jay Hicks (b. 1832).  In 1860 she lives a Howland family and is a nurse, apparently a widow.  In 1864 she marries Joseph Meeker in Chicago.  Just to make things fun and interesting, Joseph Meeker is the widower of Elizabeth’s aunt Margaret Van Valin (the one whom it was thought was the mother of Elizabeth and her sister Freelove).  Makes one wonder if when one spouse died if they just sent out an all-points bulletin through the family to see who might be available to step in as the next wife!

Elizabeth’s sister is Freelove McCord.  Love that name, huh?  Freelove married Stephan Thornton, who was born about 1820 in Collins, Erie County, New York, according to his daughter’s death certifcate.  Freelove and Stephan had three daughters: Sarah, Fannie, and Elizabeth F. Thornton.  In 1860 they lived in Buffalo.  Stephan apparently died before 1870 (hmm, wonder about civil war?).  In 1870 Freelove is living with her married daughter, Fanny Slocum and her husband Edward, and their two children Netta and Edward.  The other daughter Lizzie (Elizabeth F.) is  enumerated both with the Slocums in Buffalo and with her aunt Elizabeth McCord Meeker, and uncle Joseph Meeker in Chicago.  (Note to self: I need to check the census dates to see how long it took her to get from one place to the next.)  In 1880, Freelove is still with the Slocum family who has now moved to South Chicago.  They’ve grown three more sons:  Thomas, Thornton and Walter.

I have not found Fanny and Edward after 1880, although I have info on their children up to 1920 I think.  I don’t have anything on the daughter Sarah.  Lizzie married Charles Egbert Bogert on March 8, 1871 in Cook County, Illinois, and in the 1900 census, Freelove is living with them in Omaha, Nebraska.  It is likely that she died there.  Lizzie and Charles had three children, Lovie, John and Bessie.  I wonder if Lovie was Freelove, Jr.  Lizzie moved back to Chicago after her husband’s death sometime before 1920, and Lizzie died  December 26, 1935 in Chicago.  It was her death certificate, giving her mother’s maiden name, that opened up this whole mystery of the McCord/Van Valin marriage.

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Published in: on August 19, 2007 at 4:16 am  Comments (2)  

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  1. I was adopted when I was very young, but my real father’s name was Harry Van Valin, his parents names were Harry Van Valin and Anna Truhart, his grandparents names were Harry Van Valin and Nora Smith. That is as much as I know. I also have some cousin’s in Florida with the Van Valin name. Don’t know if this is helpful to you at all but here it is just the same. Have a great day! Valerie

  2. My father was Robert who was the aforementioned Harry’s brother. Both brothers are now dead. They both served in the military in World War II. Robert in the Navy serving on a destroyer, the US Van Valkenburg and Harry in the Marines. Both brothers were part of the invasion of Iwo Jima. Harry had actually been captured by the Japenese on Guam along with another Marine. Before they could be used as bayonet practise, they were rescued by their fellow Marines. Robert subsequently served as member of the New York City Police Department. Harry rejoined the Army during the Korean conflict and served in the military police. He was part of Eisenhower’s military protection. I understand Ted Kennedy was also served with him at that time. Robert had five children, Robert, Dani Lynn(deceased), Thomas, James and JoAnn (named after his Aunt Jo (Truhart)) who raised both Harry and Robert after the death of their parents. Anna Truhart died at the age of 29 Harry senior died shortly thereafter. Harry also had five children Valerie, Brian, Kieth, Kent and Dani Lynn (named after his niece who passed away from cancer at the age of 21). Harry led a colorful life, initially as private detective, training others for a major retail store. He moved to Vegas and mingled with the stars. He subsequently became friends with Blaze Starr and managed a strip club for her Baltimore. Harry Sr. I understand was boxer who fought under the name Turk Smith. Harry Jr. also boxed in the Marines. I know my father Robert loved his brother very much. I understand they were both orphaned very young and it had always Harry’s job to watchover his younger brother. When Robert enlisted in the Navy in World War II, his was only sixteen. He was bounced out when they discovered his true age. However, with his aunts permission he re-enlisted at age seventeen. He served 21 years as a policemen before retiring to Florida. The last time I saw Harry alive was at my father’s funeral. I know with both of them it was hard for them to express grief. Harry wept for his brother. We had a service for Harry this week burying near his younger brother.


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