Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday Search: Putting The Pieces Together

Picture taken during my visit to Leverington Cemetery in 2003. 
In recent months I have made a little bit of progress on the family tree tracing back a number of lines a couple of generations and finding out a few additional details of some of my ancestors. One line that I keep coming back to lately is that of my great great grandfather, John Uttley. While I never knew much about this line growing up (and I still kick myself for not talking to my grandmother about genealogy when she was alive), there has been a lot of progress made in finding out some of the details.

Last year, through online research, reading through a variety of books, sorting through brief mentions in the local newspaper, and calling various city offices, I was able to piece together a few facts about John Uttley and his career in the Philadelphia Police Department. It wasn’t much but I was able to find out that he was appointed to the police force by Mayor Stokley on May 6, 1876 and assigned badge #596. After over five decades on duty, he retired from the force in 1931 having reached the rank of Sergeant. Because the official records for the police department have long since been destroyed, this is all of the information that I could find on the career of the man who helped raise my grandmother.

The same record that provided me with his retirement year, his death certificate, also listed some very important information… the names of his parents. While I am still search for additional information on the Uttley line, his mother’s tree proved to be more fruitful. John Uttely obviously got his longevity from his mother, Charlotte Noblitt (also found at Noblit, Noblett, and Noblet), as they both died as nonagenarians. In fact, according to her obituary, she was believed to be the oldest living resident in Manayunk at the time of her death at age 93 in 1903.

While death certificates in 1903 don’t provide the same valuable information as later official forms, her obituary did offer some additional leaves as her father, Thomas Noblitt, was mentioned as having served in the War of 1812. This is always great information to find so, with those new details I started looking for his pension application. Days of searching and nothing was found. Could it be that the information in the obituary was wrong?

This happens more often than people realize, when obituaries are written, especially those authored by non-family members, there are assumptions made. Maybe Thomas was older than the reporter realized. Maybe it he wasn’t in the War of 1812. Once I made this adjustment to my search criteria, I found the answers I was looking for. The pension application and supporting documents from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania confirmed his service in the Revolutionary War. Charlotte was actually conceived later in life long after Thomas Noblitt’s military service… longevity it obviously part of the Noblitt legacy.

Recently, I also made an interesting discovery to expand the branches out further in this line. While attempting to learn more about this line I came across a book, Genealogical Collections Relating to the Families of Noblet, published in 1906 by John Hyndman Noblit. The surname was close enough that I had to take a look inside these digital pages and found that this was our family. Not only does the book contain the basic information that you would find in any family tree but it also has reproductions of the actual documents from the countries where the name was once prevalent. While it doesn’t have everything, it has given me a lot more information to sort through, digest, and add to this part of my family history. And, just think, this all started with a desire to learn more about a single leaf.