|Bernice Hackley Connely Pratt|
taken in Baton Rouge c1860
|Negative photostat of document|
Connely Family History Document
The most challenging document I have transcribed is a history of the Connely family, probably written by Belle Tisdale's grandmother, Bernice Hackley Connely. The handwriting is similar to one page of a letter written by Bernice to her daughter Eliza in 1867. There were two sets of copies of the three page document. By the time I got them they were both faded and almost illegible. One set consists of three faded negative photostats on heavy photographic paper and the other set contains three faded Xerox copies made by my mother in the 1960s. Present location of the original is unknown.
We don't know who had the negative photostats made or when, but it was probably before my mother started researching in 1964. The Photostat Corporation began about 1920 and the 1922 issue of Patent and Trade Mark Reviews says that its former name was The Commercial Camera Company. Photostat brand machines were in use as early as 1911. Photostat eventually became the generic name for any kind of copy just as xerox has become the generic name for copies today. The Xerox process was introduced in the 1950s and the Photostat Corporation was absorbed by Itek in 1963.
The original document appears to have been a little smaller than 8” x 10” and consisted of one full page written on front and back and one page with two short notes. I started trying to transcribe the document in November 1991 and worked on it off and on. When I got a scanner and photo editing software, the job became possible. By reversing the negative to a positive and enlarging words on the computer screen I was able to piece the text together from the two copies.
|Enhanced Xerox copy of the document|
When I finally got the transcription done in August 1995, I sent a copy to my cousin Janet Sarradet Colletti in Louisiana. She wrote me back and said that she had heard from another Connely family history researcher, Roger Connelly, in Maryland. She gave me his address and I wrote to him. (Notice this was back when we were communicating via snail mail.) I sent him copies of my transcription and told him that we were going to be visiting friends in his area in about a month. Within a week he wrote back:
“The transcription of the 'Connely Letter' was a treasure, thanks for going to all that trouble with multiple copies and for sharing it with me. It seems to be based on the info found in a Connely family Bible (my trans. of that enclosed) but has some dates and counts of children that are of interest to me. I saw this Bible in person (see a few paragraphs in one of the early issues of my newsletter which are enclosed).”
Roger's transcription of the Gilmore Connely Bible information was almost word for word the same as my document, but includes more information on the Gilmore Connely line. There was either a strong oral tradition passed down in the family or both had been copied from an earlier document. Roger also sent me copies of his Connelly Connections newsletter that had much more information on the Bible.
Gilmore Franklin Connely was a great-grandson of the original emigre, Thomas Connely. He married Lucy Leffingwell in Assumption Parish, Louisiana, on February 14, 1843. This was about the same time that William Henry Pratt first came to Louisiana and settled not far away in Baton Rouge. In 1980 the family Bible was in the possession of Gilmore's grandchildren, Ruth and Lavinia Connely, in Houma, Louisiana.
About seeing Gilmore Connely's handwritten information in the Bible, Roger wrote:
“What a thrill it was to read those 3 sentences [the introductory sentences of the document], written by a Connely one and a quarter centuries ago, and providing a wealth of information about our immigrant ancestors of yet another century earlier.”
“...actually seeing the words written by Gilmore Franklin Connely brought tears to my eyes.”
(Roger R. Connelly, Connelly Connections, A Connelly Family Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 2, April-June, 1980, pages 1-3)
Roger had been doing genealogical research for much longer than I had, and I was overwhelmed with the amount of information he had gathered. Roger has graciously given me permission to use these quotes. If you would like to see the Gilmore Connely Bible data transcription and learn more about the whole Connely/Connelly family, go to Roger's website at:http://www.rogerconnelly.com/
Roger even told me where to find Arthur Connely's grave in Old Stone Church cemetery in Augusta County, Virginia. But that's a story for another post.
For today here's the transcription of Bernice Connely Pratt's Connely Family History:
The original is written as one long document with no paragraphs. I have transcribed the words exactly as written but formatted it for ease of understanding. I have used brackets whenever I was not sure or when I have inserted information.
Thomas Connely, his Brother Arthur & Sister Mary, together with their Father & Mother emigrated from Ireland to the State (then colony) of Virginia in the year [blank].
about 1756 or 57 [inserted between lines]
They left behind them a married sister who never had any children.
Thomas Connely married in Virginia a lady named Walker, who bore him 9 children to wit:
Arthur – Thomas – Alexander – Robert – Martha – Mary – Jane – Eliza[beth & Isabella – faded but supplied from next generation]
Of the above 9 persons
Arthur married Jane Dale in Augusta County Virginia by whom he had 9 children, (to wit:
Isabella Connely born [27th] Sept 1786 – died Dec 5 1849 leaving one child named Donaldson.
Thomas Connely born 24th Nov 1787 has 6 living children-
Alexander Connely born 17 May 1789 has 16 living children.
Arthur Connely born 19th Dec. 1790 has 7 living children.
Robert Connely born 20th Dec. 1794, has no children.
Margaret Connely born 1st Nov. 1792 – married S. Logan – has 11 children -
Elizabeth Connely, - died in infancy,
Gilmore Connely, born May 5, 1799 has 9 living children -
Maria Connely born 29th Dec. 1800 – married twice died 16 Aug. 1831 leaving no children –
Thomas married & emigrated to Boone County Kentucky where he died leaving 5 children.
Alexander settled & still lives in Covington Ky where he raised 8 children -
Robert settled in Boone County Kentucky (where he died in 1850) he raised 11 children -
Martha married her Cousin Arthur Connely -
Mary Married [her cousin][struck through twice] George
Berry but never had any children – She died in 1848)
Jane married Charles Patterson by whom she had two children a son & a daughter – (The former was killed in 1837 by a fall from a horse)-
Elizabeth married Samuel Tharp by whom she had seven children who now live mostly in Illinois -
Isabella married Saml Gowdy and settled at Xenia, Ohio where she died in 1838 leaving a large family –
The Arthur Connely – brother of the first named Thomas married in Virginia & there died, having raised 9 children to wit:
Thomas – Robert – John – David – Arthur – James – Mary – Jane & Sarah -
Of the last named 9 -
Thomas was killed in the Revolutionary War
Robert was killed by the Indians while on a surveying expedition in Kentucky -
Arthur married his cousin & settled in Kentucky -
James left a family in Scott County, Kentucky - [Bernice Hackley Connely's father]
John never married he died near Xenia Ohio
David left a family near Xenia Ohio who now are scattered over the west and south -
Mary married Joseph McCauley (left a family -
Jane married David Williamson –
Sarah married John Walker the brother of her uncle Thomas's wife– she lived to a great age & died in Augusta County Virginia
note - Alexander Connely of Covington Died [?] May 1851 the last of the old stock
[Faded note near middle of page 3]
I may have mi[ illegible ] wife with Alexander & it may have been the sister of Thomas & Arthur the first emigrants that married John Walker.