The July 9, 1752, Maryland Gazette published this dramatic account of the death of my fifth-great-grandfather the Rev. Hugh Conn. Born in 1685 in Northern Ireland, he was a Presbyterian minister who immigrated to the United States before 1715. He apparently went to great lengths to drive home the message of his final sermon:
On Sunday the 28th of June last, the Reverend Mr. Hugh Conn, a Presbyterian minister, as he was preaching to a congregation near Bladenburg in Prince George’s county, dropp’d down dead in his pulpit. The subject he was upon gave him occasion to mention “the certainty of death, the uncertainty when it might happen, the absolute necessity of being continually prepared for it… we may be called away in a month, or in a week, or for aught anyone could tell, death might surprise us at the next moment,” which last part of his discourse he was observed to deliver with some elevation of voice; but had scarce utter’d the word moment when, without speaking anymore (putting one hand to his head, and the other to his side), he fell backward and expired, verifying in a most extraordinary manner the truth of his doctrine.
That’ll Leave a Mark
My great-grandfather (shown) ran away from home during the 1800s and toured with Ringling Brothers Circus — he was the strong man and he also caught the cannon balls.
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If you can’t laugh at your family, whom can you laugh at? Other people’s families, of course. Readers found these humorous entries whilst doing their genealogy research. Each entrant wins an Audio StoryKeeper oral history kit <www.americanstorykeepers.com>.
In 1880, Henry Cave, an enumerator in Osage County, Mo., listed the occupation of 66-year-old Jane Bougenet as “devilment.”
This unusual entry for my ancestor was in the Haywood Co., NC, 1860 census: “Nancy Messer, 52, runs at large, insane.”
Don Miguel de Cervantes’ classic Don Quixote clearly inspired two families in 1860 Copiah County, Miss. Shown in that year’s census were two Weeks boys named Don Quixote de la Mancha and Sancho Panza, ages 5 and 4. Nearby in the Smith family was an infant daughter Dulcinea del Toboso, Cervantes’ heroine.
Next door to my family in the 1850 Springfield, III., census, lived “John M. American dollar” and “Margaret American dollar.” I wish I could’ve asked my ancestors about their neighbors.
The 1860 Surry Co., NC, census taker listed one family this way:
Wm Mooney, 75, Farm laborer
Ann Mooney, 74
Mary Mooney, 26, Degraded
Susan Mooney, 24, Degraded
Wm Mooney, 23
Victoria Mooney, 7, Bastard of Mary
Walter Mooney, 6, Bastard of Susan
Laura Mooney, 4, Bastard of “
Lensey Mooney, 9, Bastard