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Schrödinger’s King

3 Mar 2015

So I’ve learned a good bit about George KING. He was born in Scituate, RI and lived there until the 1790s; he fought in the Revolution; he married and raised a family; he moved to Norwich, NY; he collected a pension; and he died in infancy. Wait, what?

Land records tell us:

  • George King was alive as late as October 1823
  • His wife’s name was Henrietta
  • Some likely relatives were Charles KING (born 1785–95, wife: Sally), Elhanan W. KING (wife: Lydia), William R. KING, and Anthony KING — probably sons or grandsons.
  • He was part of a group that included John COOK — and Charles KING, Arthur BURLINGAME, Jonathan JOHNSON, AND Jesse GREENE — that bought some land in April 1819, then sold it again the next month. (I may be misunderstanding something, but it looks like they bought it for $700 and sold it for $400. I’m probably misunderstanding something.)

Another deed, dated 1817, tells us something about the COOKs; the parties of the first part are all, or nearly all, the then living children of Gideon and Jane, and their spouses, which is always a nice find. They are: John COOK and wife Barbara, Nathan ALDRICH and wife Hannah, George COOK and wife Salanis, Joshua WINSOR and wife Amey, Richard COOK and wife Sally, Charles KING and wife Susannah, Sylvanus COOK and wife Mary, Daniel COOK and wife Waite, and Stephen WINSOR and wife Nancy, all of Norwich, selling land that had belonged to their recently deceased brother Elijah COOK. (No mention of Elizabeth ALDRICH, or Jane who by then had died). This mostly just confirms what I’d already put together, except that I didn’t have a first name for Susannah KING’s husband and wasn’t sure she was in Norwich.

And that’s a bit of a monkey wrench in everything, because there seems to have been only one Charles KING in Norwich. At least I can’t find evidence of more than one. I found online the names of the children of John and George H. KING (the ones from Massachusetts, and who were, as it turns out, brothers) and there was no Charles between them. There’s only one who turns up as head of household in the census, in 1820, 1830, and 1840. But in the one other deed I’ve seen where Charles’s wife is named, she’s Sally.

Sally is normally a nickname for Sarah, not Susannah. Still, maybe Susannah was known as Sally anyway. Or… the mention of Sally is on a deed dated 1823. It’s possible Susannah died and Charles remarried between 1817 and 1823. (I need to look at other deeds Charles was a party to, to see if his wife is named elsewhere, but at the moment is having connectivity problems.)

Or despite all appearances, there really were two Charles KINGs.

It’d be nice to see what Charles’s will says. If there were one. There isn’t, at least not in the Chenango County wills index. In fact I find no probate records for Charles (or George), and no grave markers either. George doesn’t appear as a head of household in 1830 but Charles has a male age 70–79 in his household; then in 1840 that older male is no longer living with Charles. As we’ll see, George apparently died around 1839. Then in 1850 Charles doesn’t appear in Norwich, nor indeed anywhere in Chenango County as far as I can tell. His last land transaction apparently was in 1844. Then, poof, gone.

But I’d have to see more evidence before I start believing in the two Charles theory. I lean in favor of Sally being Susannah, with Sally as second wife after Susannah a not too distant second — just by gut feeling. Either way, I’m pretty confident George was Susannah COOK’s father in law.

But was he John COOK’s? No real evidence either way. If I had proof Barbara’s birth name was KING then I’d be confident George was her father, but as of now, I’m merely rooting for him. (As for Henrietta being her mother, well, it was almost 30 years between Barbara’s birth and Henrietta’s first mention in the deed records. There’s a good chance she was her mother, but on the other hand George could have been widowed — widowered? — and remarried two or three times pretty easily in that period.)

Suppose George is Barbara’s father, though; then of course we want to know where he came from and who his parents were. The land records say he was from Glocester, RI. The state and federal censuses say a George KING headed a household in Scituate, RI from 1777 to 1790. And the 1832 pension roll says George fought in the RI line.

It also says he was 78 (in, I think it means, the year he was awarded a pension — 1824). But that, I’m now pretty sure, is wrong. As I said, Charles KING had a man in his 70s living with him in 1830. In the 1800 census George was 45 or over. If the man in Charles’s household was George, then, combining the two censuses, he must have been born in or very near the first half of the 1750s.

And then I found George’s pension application online — along with a record that his final pension payment was in 1839. The application says he was living in Norwich: check. Says his wife is Henrietta: check. (Says he has a 19 year old daughter, Silana, living with him, who has a 2 year old baby and has never been married. Oh.)

And it quite clearly says he was, in 1824, 68 years old. I’d say the 78 in the pension roll was a typo. But that’s very interesting, because it implies a birth year of about 1755 or 1756.

But there’s a record of a George KING, son of Isaac KING, born in Scituate, RI on 25 Nov 1755! One of a set of triplets, in fact. Looks like a slam dunk.


On it says that in the KING family burial ground in Scituate, where Isaac is buried, there’s a gravestone for George, and it says he died in 1756 — in infancy.


Now, it also says “Note: Stone illegible and/or partially buried” which leaves me wondering whether it really says George KING and 1755–1756 on it. Or more generally, what’s actually written on the stone, and who transcribed it, when? I’ve found no reliable information on the death of George son of Isaac anywhere else, or indeed anything beyond his birth information.

So: Alive and kicking until nearly 1840, or dead and buried in 1756? Or a quantum superposition of both? I’m trying to make an observation here, shouldn’t the wave function collapse?

Okay, while I don’t believe in two Charleses, two Georges seems less unlikely. But wouldn’t it be nice if I found the right one the first time?



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One Comment
  1. Well, this is interesting.

    I have no idea why it says “Somerset, England”; Patience was born in Scituate, RI — and she was one of the set of triplets of which George KING was another. And she ended up in Norwich, Chenango, NY! So, was the George KING of Norwich her brother, who allegedly died in infancy? Or some other relative? Or unrelated?

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