By Cheryl Coats and Lindsay Jackson
Cindy Hillman recently won our Branch Out sweepstakes, and received 20 hours of ProGenealogists research time. Initially, she wanted to see if her McKinley line connected to President William McKinley (who wouldn’t!) Unfortunately, we discovered that the only chance of those lines connecting would have occurred in Ireland in the 1700s, a time and place where record availability today is almost non-existent.
We then turned to a branch of Cindy’s father’s side of the tree: the Moore family. An Ancestry.com search uncovered a compiled family history called Genealogy of the Stokes Family, which included Cindy’s 5th great-grandfather, John Moore of Burlington County, New Jersey. Compiled family histories are very helpful tools in learning more about a family, but should act as spring boards into original documents, not taken at face value by themselves.
The Stokes Genealogy said that the Moore family belonged to the Quaker faith. While searching for the Moore family in original records on Ancestry.com, it quickly became evident that this was the case. The Quakers, or the Religious Society of Friends, were excellent record keepers. Quaker Meeting Records are indexed and available on Ancestry.com. Searching through these monthly meeting records, we confirmed the names and dates found in the compiled genealogy.
Some of the meetings the Moore family attended were in Evesham Township in Burlington County, New Jersey. The group met in this building.
One of the other databases we reviewed to learn more about the Moore family was the Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications. These don’t generally contain original records for Revolutionary War veterans, but they do contain information about the veteran’s military service and their descendants. We were surprised to find an application for John Moore.
It was a surprising find because Quakers commit to refrain from war and promote peace, however there were some who chose to participate in the Revolutionary War, risking their good standing in the Quaker faith. According to the membership application, John was one of these. He served as a private in the New Jersey Militia.
According to the Stokes family history, the first of the Moore line to immigrate to America was Benjamin Moore, who married Sarah Stokes. Benjamin and Sarah are Cindy’s 7th great-grandparents. In the section about Benjamin, it states that he was the largest land holder in New Jersey. The most exciting thing about researching the Moore family is that, with more work, it will be possible to look into the truth of this statement.
Generally, when researching early American or colonial ancestors, there are very few records available. However, because of the Moore family’s association with the Quakers and their penchant for record keeping, there was a lot to find! While we got Cindy started, there is still plenty for Cindy to discover. What’s more, fun details about their lives, such as if they served in the military and where they attended religious meetings, are waiting to be discovered.
Congrats to Cindy for winning the Branch Out Sweepstakes, and thank you to her for giving us the opportunity to research her fascinating family.
Cheryl Coats and Lindsay Jackson are part of the ProGenealogists team.