Sunday, November 1, 2009

Surname Saturday: Space and Armstrong Research

As any family historian will tell you, locating our elusive female ancestors presents a number of unique challenges which is why, after much debate, have decided to highlight my 3rd Great Grandmother Katherine Armstrong Space.

According to census records, Katherine/Catherine Armstrong was born circa 1793 in Pennsylvania. It is believed that her father's name was John Armstrong as this name appears in several families in the Space family. Family legend states that John Armstrong was among the early Scottish settlers of the Wyoming Valley, Luzerne County, PA. Legend also goes on to state that John, as a child, was one of the survivors of the Wyoming Valley Massacre that occurred in July 1776. However, I have been unable to locate any documentation to prove this statement. While there was a well-known figure named John Armstrong involved with this incident, his life and family history are well documented and there appears to be no link between this John Armstrong and the father of my Katherine Armstrong.

Katherine Armstrong married Zephaniah Space on 25 May 1811 in Wyoming Valley, Luzerne Co, PA. Zephaniah was born circa 1789 in Sussex Co, NJ to John Space and Abigail Mott. John, who immigrated to New Jersey from Germany, is the progenitor of my Space family line. John Space is the reason I was able to make my application to the Daughters of the American Revolution; he enlisted in Hackensack, NJ, in 1776 serving for the entire duration of the war: spent the cold winter at Valley Forge and was present at Yorktown. I find it more than interesting that John's older brother, Peter Space, who supposedly immigrated with John, did not serve. But that is fodder for a future post.

John received 100 acres of bounty land in the Luzerne area, where he and Abigail raised a family of 9 known children of which Katherine's husband, Zephaniah, was the oldest known son.

In 1818 Zephaniah and Katherine immigrated to Clarion County, PA, settling on land in the New Bethlehem area. They also raised a family of 9 known children; my line descends from their son, Zephaniah Allen born in 1826.

A Space family history published in 1936 was the cause of my first genealogy "ah ha" moment. Citing a visit by the authors (who happened to be first cousins) to Clarion County as well as information found in census records, gave me reason to believe that what was written certainly must be true - right? It was a number of years before I questioned their statements, including the following: "In the Armstrong family there were only two children, Catherine and her brother John. Catherine's father was John Armstrong, and the parents died when John and Catherine were children. Catherine was reared in East Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in a family by the name of Hart."

When I finally asked myself, "How do I know that this is true?" did I discover no documentation or reference of Katherine living in Clarion County prior to 1818, following her marriage to Zephaniah, in Luzerne County. It seems unlikely that Katherine could be 'raised by a family in East Bethlehem', assuming this is Clarion County, in an area that was not yet settled only to return to Luzerne County to be married in 1811. A list of the early settlers of Clarion County area does not list "Hart."

Another Space and Armstrong family researcher has shared information from her ancestor claiming that Katherine Armstrong's mother married twice. The first marriage to John Armstrong with John and my Katherine as issue. The second marriage to Adam Nolf/Nulph with five children born to this union: Jake, John, George, Polly and Barbara. The girls marrying brothers Nicholas and Jake Hetrick. Both Nolf/Nulph and Hetrick are common families in the Clarion County, PA area.

"Finding Grandma Katie" remains at the top of my Top Ten Most Wanted. Maybe 2010 will be the year I discover her family and make yet another connection in her life.

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