An Enthusiastic Welcome to All Problem Solvers

The people and information on this site were, in the beginning, selected because they were identified as our family's most significant Genealogy Brick Walls. When we first published the site in 2008, only two of our problem families were represented. We also introduced five, and then six, additional puzzle families we plan to discuss in the future. After seven years of additional research our site is growing to include family groups we hadn't originally identified as Brick Wall surnames. These families do, however, include many descendants of our Brick Wall people. We've also discovered these new family groups have their own collection of puzzling questions needing to be answered. It is our hope that by making our research available in this way, we may find cousins and other genealogists who are researching these same individuals and share, compare and discuss our findings. Even as we progress, we continue to ask...

Who were these people...

If you know anything that may help us chip through these bricks, or learn more about these people and their lives, please contact us! Corrections of all kinds are also welcome.

Brick Wall: William Gerrard's two "natural" Sons, William and Thomas, of County Meath, Ireland

William Gerrard (  ->1789) of Dormstown, County Meath made his will in 1788. He named, according to a brief abstract we found a few years ago, his two married daughters, Rebecca Hinds and Sarah Hinds who had married brothers John Hinds and Matthew Hinds, respectively. He named his three unmarried daughters, Elizabeth, Catherine and Anne, who we would learn later married married William Foster, John Small and Michael Gibney, respectively. The will abstract also named his two "natural" (illegitimate) sons, William and Thomas -- who were a complete surprise to us.

Who were William Gerrard's two "natural" sons?

A Brick Wall, to be sure! To feed our curiosity, we went first to Ireland's wonderful transcripts of memorial deeds, conveyances and wills which had proved so helpful in our research of the Hinds family. We were able to find enough information about William's two "natural" sons to feel certain that, although they were acknowledged in their father's 1788 will, they were never considered brothers, or even family or friends, by their father's five daughters. And, although that was good information to have, our primary questions about these two "natural" sons, remained unanswered.

  • Who was their mother -- or mothers?
  • Where did they grow up?
  • Did they marry?
  • Did they have children?
  • Where did they live?
  • When and where did they die? 

What became of William Gerrard of Dormstown's two "natural" sons, William and Thomas? We thought if we learned more about the extended Gerrard family of County Meath, we might find some answers. Again, we turned to Ireland's transcripts of memorial deeds, conveyances and wills, expanding our research to include Gerrards throughout County Meath, primarily during the 17th and 18th centuries.

We learned that the Gerrards were an aristocratic, influential and wealthy family with large holdings in County Meath and beyond. Through several generations, sons succeeded to ancestral lands and acquired more. They married well and had children who are included in this project.

Most of the Gerrards in this work, including William Gerrard ( ->1789) of Dormstown, descend from Thomas Gerrard (1643-1719) of Gibbstown, County Meath, whose second son, was Thomas Gerrard ( -1763) of Liscartan, County Meath. He had married Catherine Cooper in 1713, and in February of 1729 purchased, by lease and deed, the castle, land and farm of Liscartan, in all, 430 acres. Thomas and Catherine had eight children, four sons and four daughters. William Gerrard (  ->1789) of Dormstown, the primary subject of our Gerrard Project, was Thomas and Catherine's fifth child and third son.

Our Gerrard research, although not complete, has been extensive. The link below will take you to additional information about the Gerrards of Gibbstown and the Gerrards of Liscartan, and some history of the times they lived in. We welcome your visit...

Then... Two Amazing Things Happened...

First… a researcher, who lives in Ireland and is descended from one of the five Dormstown Gerrard sisters, discovered our website. She sent us additional information she had accumulated through her own research, and gave us permission to include it with ours. She also had puzzled over William Gerrard ( ->1789) of Dormstown's two “natural” sons, William and Thomas, had not been able to learn much about them, and also considered them a serious Brick Wall. How wonderful it was to have someone to talk with about the Gerrards of County Meath!

Then… another Gerrard researcher found our website hoping to find information about the Gerrards of Ardbraccan, County Meath. Even though our site was not helpful to her, she shocked and thrilled us with an email on which she attached a more complete copy of William Gerrard ( ->1789) of Dormstown's 1788 will which she had obtained from the National Library of Ireland, Genealogical Office in Dublin, several years ago, and also a copy of the 1763 will of Thomas Gerrard ( -1763) of Liscartan, County Meath, William’s father. Both of these wills have now been transcribed and are included on our site. 

What an unexpected and very welcome gift! In William’s 1788 will we learned where his two “natural” sons were born, and additionally, the existence of his three “natural” daughters. The will even named the mother of his five illegitimate children! We're not finished, though. We still don't know if William and Thomas married, or if they had children, or when and where they died. 

Brick Wall: The Gerrards of Ardbraccan, County Meath, Ireland

Our fellow Gerrard researcher and benefactor who sent us the wills is researching the families of three William Gerrards, all of Ardbraccan, County Meath: William Gerrard (1848- ), son of Samuel Gerrard (1823- ), William Gerrard (1794- ), Samuel's father, and William Gerrard (1761- ), William (1794-  )'s father. Her family’s oral history states that William (1848-  ) was a “cousin” to the descendants of William (1761- ), and that her Gerrards of Ardbraccan were related in some way to the Gerrards of Gibbstown in County Meath. If that’s the case, her Ardbraccan Gerrards connect somewhere to our Gerrards of Gibbstown, Liscartan, Tankardstown, and Dormstown, and we all want to find that connection. She has given us permission to include what she knows about her Ardbraccan Gerrards on our site, and we would love to hear from other researchers who may have additional information about her Gerrards and how they connect to ours. Please let us hear from you...


Some Links to More Information and the Individual Gerrards of County Meath, Ireland

The first link below will take you to a list of our known descendants, extended family and associates of the Gerrard family of County Meath, Ireland. A blue icon before a name identifies a descendant of our earliest known Gerrard ancestor, Thomas Gerrard (1643-1719) of Gibbstown, County Meath, and his two newly (2018) discovered brothers, Edward Gerrard, and another brother whose name we don't know. The second link will take you to a shorter list of the Gerrards of Ardbraccan, County Meath and their extended family as we know it. We think they connect in some way to our other Gerrards, and want to know where. We've identified the Gerrards of Ardbraccan with a red icon to indicate we need help! The third link connects to a list of County Meath Gerrards we can't connect yet to either the Gerrards of Gibbstown and Liscartan or to the Gerrards of Ardbraccan. Suggestions, here, would also be welcome. And the final link opens the full story, as we know it, about our Gerrards of County Meath, Ireland: The Gerrard Project.

Our Heaton Family

Lincolnshire, England to Suffolk County, Massachusetts

Our Heaton Project represents a journey of more than 500 years. John Heaton (s1490-1552) of Fotherby, Lincolnshire, England was our family's earliest known Heaton, and his great-grandson, Nathaniel Heaton (1602-  ), was our Heaton immigrant, arriving at Boston, Massachusetts with his wife and children in 1634. Several of his children settled in Suffolk County, Massachusetts where, in Dedham, Nathaniel's grandson, Samuel Heaton (1682-c1756), married Sarah Hawes (1686-c1769). Our research of the Hawes family led us to Ebenezer Ellis (1701-1776) and his extended Ellice family.

Richard Ellice (c1621-1694) and his brother Joseph Ellice (c1630-1672) lived in Dedham, and John Ellice (b1616-1697) and his brother Thomas Ellice (1629-1690) also lived in Dedham before moving the short distance to Medfield. We remained in Suffolk County for quite a while, determined to identify the relationship between these two sets of Ellice brothers.

Windham County, Connecticut to Morris County, New Jersey

In the meantime, Samuel Heaton (1682-c1756) and Sarah Hawes (1686-c1769) had settled in Wrentham, Suffolk County. When they relocated with their children to Windham County, Connecticut, we joined them there. And in Connecticut, we found the answer to a generations-long puzzling question.

We then followed Samuel and his sons to Morris County, New Jersey where we met the "singing sister" Sarah (Long) Colver (c1673-1756) of the Rogerenes, a small religious sect opposed to the established Puritan church. We may even have identified "our" Thomas Colver (  -1852), thus answering another nagging question.

Frederick County, Virginia to Chester County, Pennsylvania

We followed Samuel's son Isaac Heaton (1731-1814) from New Jersey to Frederick County, Virginia where he married Hannah Bowen (1742-1827) in 1760. They remained in Virginia long enough for us to take a break from the Heatons and make a side trip to Chester County, Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania we met some new families, spending a good amount of time with the immigrant John Sharpless (1624-1685) who settled in Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1682, and with Isaac Weaver (1723-1816), of the same place, who married John's great-granddaughter, Sarah Dell (1731-1814). The Weavers and the Dells were Quakers and reminded us what a pleasure it is to work with the Society of Friends Monthly Meeting records.

In Bucks County, Pennsylvania we ran into Robert Heaton (1642-b1717) who had emigrated from West Riding, Yorkshire, England in 1682. Yorkshire and Lincolnshire are neighboring counties in England and it is suspected that, with some serious English research, we may learn that these two different branches of Heatons have a common ancestor. The activities of Robert's great-grandson, John Heaton (1724-1788) of Loudoun County, Virginia were often confused, by earlier researchers, with Isaac Heaton's older brother, John Heaton (1719-  ), whose life remains unclear.

Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa

Isaac and Hannah (Bowen) Heaton left Virginia about 1785 and moved with a group of other families to that part of Washington County, Pennsylvania that would, in 1796, become Greene County. Isaac and Sarah (Dell) Weaver's son, Isaac Weaver Jr. (1756-1830), was among the group who moved to Pennsylvania, where he served as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Treasury and in both houses of the Pennsylvania legislature, representing the district composed of Washington and Greene counties.

When Isaac and Hannah (Bowen) Heaton's son, Jacob Bowen Heaton (1786-1839), married Isaac Weaver Jr.'s daughter, Rachel Weaver (1787-1858), in 1809, we were able to make our Sharpless to Dell to Weaver to Heaton connections. And, we loved it that Jacob and Rachel named their first born child Weaver Heaton (1810-1873). We think Weaver is a great name!

In Pennsylvania, we puzzled over Washington Heaton (1777-1826). Who was he?... The story his descendants learned was that his father's name was John Heaton, a soldier serving in the Revolutionary War under General George Washington when John's son was born on 11 September 1777 -- and that Washington Heaton earned his name because of his father's admiration for the General. Good story for sure, but which one, of the many John Heatons, was Washington's father? We identified five potential candidates: John Heaton (1760-1820), John Heaton (1743- ), John Heaton (1719- ), John Heaton (b1756-1823) and John Heaton (1745-1831) -- and then we knew!

Our extended Heaton family continued to move in various family groups, branching out to other states, including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa where we found William Naylor Heaton (1847-1916) and his younger brother, George Heaton (1851-1927), and their respective wives, Lucinda Willis (1856-1945) and Jane Willis (1855-  ). The Willis girls were on our puzzle list because their father had not yet been identified. We began our search for him believing that the girls' marriages were another case of sisters marrying brothers, so we set out to find, using the United States censuses, the correct Willis family. Wrong! Turned out, Lucinda and Jane were cousins who married brothers. 

Continuing West...

Our research didn't end in Iowa. New generations of our Heaton's extended family continued to move, usually west. We enjoyed following them from Lincolnshire, England to Boston, Massachusetts and all the way to California, and we found answers to several questions that have puzzled us for years. Of course, as usually happens, we also developed an even longer list of questions needing additional answers.

The link below will take you to an index of all of the people included in our Heaton Project, and the red tree icon indicates that person is a descendant of our earliest known ancestor, John Heaton (s1490-1552) of Fotherby, Lincolnshire, England.

Traveling with our Heaton family has been a delightful trip, and we invite you to share it with us...

Brick Wall Solved: John Bolton (1756-1819) of Bridgewater and Boston, Massachusetts

John Bolton married Zilpah Peirce in Boston in 1803 and had one daughter, Elizabeth Everett Bolton, born in Boston in 1806. Our family had been searching for three generations to identify who these Bolton ancestors actually were. After years of frustrating hit-and-miss attempts, about five years ago we decided to methodically research and eliminate, one-by-one, the members of every Bolton family we identified to have been living in Massachusetts during the targeted time period. To keep them all straight, we gave the most likely John Bolton candidates identifying names and also grouped the families by their primary counties of residence. The project was completed in 2010, and only one family and, thankfully, only one John Bolton, remained probable. Unless we find any conflicting documentation to the contrary, we have decided to "claim" the candidate we had called "John Bolton (the Uncle) of Bridgewater" as our Ancestor.

John Bolton, our ancestor, was born in Bridgewater, Plymouth County, Massachusetts in 1756, the only son of John Bolton Jr. and Elizabeth Hayward. As a young man he enlisted in the Continental Army and served in the Revolutionary War until its end in 1781. In 1797, after just a few months of marriage and no children, he divorced his first wife, Betsy Denny, very publicly in the Boston newspapers. He married Zilpah Peirce almost six years later and they had one daughter, Elizabeth Everett Bolton, in 1806. Zilpah died when Elizabeth was two years old and John's health and finances went steadily downhill. He died in Boston in 1819.

It would be lovely to say that, by finally identifying John, our Bolton Brick Wall was completely destroyed. However... as so often happens, with one problem solved, others presented themselves.  In the earliest reliable resource we have found, the words "uncertain" and "perhaps" were used to describe the placement of both John Bolton Jr. and Elizabeth Hayward in their respective Bolton and Hayward families.  Because we wanted to know the truth, our next major Bolton tasks, in addition to trying to identify Zilpah Peirce's family, became to determine the accurate parentage of both of our ancestor John's parents, John Bolton Jr. and Elizabeth Hayward.

Brick Wall Solved: John Bolton (c1730-c1762) of Bridgewater, Massachusetts

John Bolton Jr. married Elizabeth Hayward in Bridgewater, Plymouth County, Massachusetts in 1751 and had four children. Their third child and only son, John Bolton, was born in 1756 and was our first Brick Wall subject discussed above.

In the Vital Records of Bridgewater, for his marriage and for the births of each of his children, John was identified as "John Bolton Jr."  As early as 1897 when Nahum Mitchell's History of the Early Settlement of Bridgewater was published, the parentage of John Bolton Jr. was described as uncertain.  Then Anna Chesebrough Wildey's 1903 Genealogy of the Descendants of William Chesebrough stated that John Jr. was the son of Ensign John Bolton (1686-1755) and Ruth Hooper (1691-1755).  Although now proven to be incorrect, that wrong conclusion at that early time was probably considered logical.  John Jr. "should" have been the son of a John, right?

Since that publication in 1903, almost all books and internet sources on the subject have perpetuated the error.  We, also, initially thought that 1903 conclusion seemed logical, while at the same time believed that it shouldn't be that difficult, in today's world, to prove -- or disprove.

After completing our research of all of the Massachusetts Bolton families, it appeared probable that John Bolton Jr. was the son of one of the sons of John Bolton (1660-1721) and Sarah Chesebrough (1663-1743), and therefore the great grandson of Nicholas Boulton (c1600-1683) the Immigrant.  We were determined, if we could, to identify the correct father and to set the record straight.

John Bolton (1660-1721) and Sarah (Chesebrough) Bolton (1663-1743) had eleven children, six of them sons. The only son we could initially eliminate from consideration as John Jr.'s father was the eldest, Ensign John Bolton (1686-1755) who, according to land records, his will and the division of his estate, had five daughters and no sons. We therefore concluded that the title of "Junior" was used only as a means of distinguishing the younger John (c1730-c1762) from his older uncle John (1686-1755), who also lived in Bridgewater. The remaining five brothers, all of whom were researched as possible fathers, in order of birth were Samuel Bolton (1688-1753), Nicholas Bolton (1695-1750), Elisha Bolton (1700-1777), Joseph Bolton (1704-1751) and Nathaniel Bolton (1706-1770).

When our research of the brothers brought us to Elisha (1700-1777), we learned that he had six sons who had all served in the French and Indian War.  According to the records, they enlisted and served in pairs. Imagine our excitement when we learned that the first two to enlist were the two oldest brothers, John (c1730-c1762) and Elisha (c1735- ). Elisha's birth had been recorded in the Bridgewater records, but John's had not.  Additional research told us that one of Elisha (1700-1777)'s sons had died in the army on or before 9 Jul 1762, and that all of his sons except John could be found in the records after that date.  We had wondered of course, before discovering the war records, why we had found no records of John after the birth of his last child in 1760.  So, then we knew... Elisha Bolton (1700-1777) was John Jr.'s father!

Our Bolton People

What began as our Bolton Brick Wall project, with John Bolton and Zilpah Peirce as our only two "problem" people, grew to include John's parents, John Bolton "Jr." and Elizabeth Hayward, and the search to identify their parents.  For three generations our family had been trying to identify who these Bolton ancestors actually were. We finally began to make some progress after we decided to methodically research and eliminate, one-by-one, the members of every Bolton family we identified to have been living in Massachusetts during the targeted time period. To keep them all straight, we gave the most likely John Bolton candidates identifying names and also grouped the families by their primary counties of residence.

Our John Bolton, we discovered, was a descendant of Nicholas Boulton, the Immigrant. Nicholas is the earliest known ancestor of most of the Boltons of Plymouth and Bristol Counties and the link below lists his known descendants, descendant families and associates.  Among the descendant families and associates, ancestors of some individuals may also appear, and by necessity, there is duplication of some of the people between other lists found on the site.

Our Bolton Family

Come inside using the link below for the full story...

Brick Wall Connection Made: Walter Hinds and Walter Hinds, County Cavan, Ireland

Yes! It's true... Our "Missing Link" has been found -- and his name was also Walter Hinds!

Walter Hinds of the 1800s was our ancestor and he was the primary subject of our Hinds Family research. Neither Walter nor Hinds appeared to have been common names in County Cavan, Ireland in the 1700s or early 1800s. So when we identified a second Walter Hinds, this one of the 1700s, it just seemed unreasonable to ignore the possibility that these two Walters were very likely related.

Walter Thomas Hinds of the 1800s

Our ancestor Walter Hinds of County Cavan, Ireland, was born about 1798. His parents and siblings were a mystery. He married Margaret Charters, probably around 1840, and they had eight children: John Hinds, James Hinds, Robert Hinds, Bella Hinds, Fanny Hinds, Henry Hinds, Edward Hinds and Richard Hinds. We learned from our research that Walter was identified most often, probably to distinguish him from his relatives with the same name, as Walter Thomas Hinds.

Walter Hinds of the 1700s

Three wills were found in Dublin at the National Archives of Ireland that introduced us to the earlier, 1700s, Walter Hinds, his brother, John Hinds, and Walter's eldest son, Ralph Hinds, all of County Cavan, Ireland. Through the wills we learned of several additional Walter Hinds family members and were able to identify our earliest known Hinds ancestor as another John Hinds (  -1706). The link below lists his known descendants, descendant families and associates. Among the descendent families and associates, ancestors of some individuals may also be represented.

A Tale of Two -- Now Three -- Walters Connected

We can now shout to the rooftops that through Memorial Deeds and other land records, our two Walters have been connected -- with yet another Walter Hinds! Come inside using the link below for the full story...

Preview of Coming Attractions

One of the aspects of genealogy that makes it so rewarding is the never-ending supply of "Brick Walls" we run into. Chipping through the bricks, and solving the puzzles, even when the solutions present more puzzles, is a joy! This website has given us the opportunity to share our problem people and to compare and discuss our information with others. We're excited about the answers we've already found -- and our cousins and new friends, too! We have additional puzzles we plan to share, and some that are currently in various stages of development include:

John Richard Watts and Jane Fleming, London, England, 1828

John Richard Watts was baptized at St. Mary Newington, London, Southwark, England in 1798. His parents were listed on his birth record as "John" and "Sarah" and he had a sister named Mary Ann, but no further information is known about who his family was.  He was an officer in the East India Company and first married Mary Ann Grice at St. Mary Rotherhithe, London, Southwark in Feb1825. Mary Ann died giving birth to their son, John Henry Watts, in late Dec 1825. John Richard then married Jane Fleming in 1828 at St. Dunstan, Stepney, London. Nothing at all is known about Jane's parents, birth or life before her marriage. John Richard and Jane immigrated with John Henry first to New York City and then to Honesdale, Wayne County, Pennsylvania and had four more children. 

Francis West (c1605-1692) of Duxbury, Massachusetts

What was the relationship between the Francis West who appeared in Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts in the 1630s and the Captain Francis West who arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1608? Many sources have noted that they were the same man, or that Francis of Duxbury was a descendant of Francis of Jamestown. Just as many, however, have reported that there was no relationship between the two men at all. Inquiring minds want to know...

Thomas Brown(e) (c 1760-1817) in England and Wales

Thomas Brown(e), born c1760, was likely the son of Henry and Mary Browne of Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire, England. He married, first, Jane Flemming of that village in 1789, immigrated to Monmouthshire, Wales, and married, second, Jane Williams in 1798 after his first wife's death. Some of his descendants immigrated in 1847 and then settled in Scranton, Lackawanna (then Luzerne) County, Pennsylvania by 1850.

John (Primus) Conger (c 1640-1712) of Woodbridge, New Jersey

Researchers, for years, have been trying to learn about the early life of John Conger. His name simply appeared in the marriage records of Newbury, Essex County, Massachusetts when he married Mary Kelly in 1666. His country of origin has never been learned, although it is believed by some Conger researchers that his surname was originally "Belconger". Other variations of the Conger name have also been suggested over the years. John and Mary Conger relocated to Woodbridge, Middlesex County, New Jersey before 1669. John Conger, who produced a very long line of descendants, is thought to have had eight children with Mary, and after Mary's death, with his second wife Sarah Cawood, seven more.

Jonathan Arnold (1758-1838) in NY, CT and PA

Who was Jonathan Arnold's first wife and the mother of his first four sons? Jonathan was born in 1758 in Aquebogue, Suffolk County, New York. While still a teenager, he served first for New York and then Connecticut in the Revolutionary War and later appeared on the Census of 1790 in Warwick, Orange County, New York. He brought his four sons, David, Shubel, Thomas and Heman into his marriage in 1798 with Mary (Polly) Lester, and they had seven more children. They lived in Wayne County, Pennsylvania. Whom, where and when did Jonathan marry first?

Levi Townsend (c1750->1830) of New York and Pennsylvania

Levi Townsend married Rebecca Jones, probably c1785 and probably in New York.  They had ten children and raised their family in Falls Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.  Levi's early life is a mystery, and active research has been underway for years by this researcher and many others desiring to place Levi with the correct parents and siblings. DNA evidence has confirmed to our satisfaction that Levi was a descendant of one of the three Townsend brothers of Oyster Bay, Long Island, Nassau County, New York but which one and how many generations removed is not known.  It is believed that he was born in New York and probably lived in early Dutchess County (now Putnam County) before relocating to Pennsylvania.


Content and Accuracy

The site is a work in progress, built from ongoing research which, by its nature, is incomplete. Where secondary sources have been used, attempts have been made (or are being made) to locate a primary source or original document to verify or disprove the secondary source information. In most cases, erroneous information that had originally been included, and then proven to be incorrect has been identified and explained. In some instances, however, false information was deleted entirely. These deletions occurred primarily in the very beginning of the research process -- before it was learned that "bad" information, with verification and source citations, could be a valuable tool in future research. All opinions expressed and conclusions drawn are those of this researcher unless attributed to another source.