Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sommer Siblings and Their Spouses

Now that the excitement of Canadian travels is over, I look over the pile of other projects calling for attention, and it's hard to know where to go next. But now it's the youngest Freistett Sommer brother, Martin 1729-1799, who has me wishing we could somehow find out if he had any descendants who might have made it into our present world. Even though I have already given a couple years of attention to this question, a fresh look has brought new answers! Here is my research trail:

I was looking one more time at the grandson of Freistett Martin 1729-1799, and son of Martin 1770-1811, the blacksmith of Waggoner's Alley, namely John H. Somers (baptized as Johann Heinrich Sommer), 1800~1830. As we know, a couple of years ago I found an 1831 petition by Cecelia Kinnaman for guardianship of her granddaughter, Sarah Somers, daughter of John H. Somers, who had recently died. I suddenly got newly interested in Cecelia, especially finding her in the 1840 census of Greenwich, New Jersey, which is the very area where my ancestor, Georg Sommer/George Summers, moved to when he left PHL. Following the Kinnaman trail, I found there were a couple Kinnaman families (probably originally German, Kuehneman) in Sussex County (later Warren County). There is a great source about the Kinnamon families (available on ancestry), but ultimately this source cannot place Cecelia (see p. 376). Distraction Alert!

I subsequently found the marriage between John H. Somers and Susannah Ann Kinnemore in Jan. 1820 at the First Reformed Church. So voila, it looks like Susannah must have been Cecelia's daughter. But what's this? There is another marriage record in 1825, at StM&Z no less, between Jeremiah Bamford and Susan Kinneamann. But it doesn't stop there. Next I found that Jeremiah Bamford had a first marriage to Sarah Sommer in 1818. It just so happens that John H. Somers had an older sister named Sarah. Sure enough, there is record of Sarah Bamford's death in 1821 at the age of 23, an age that fits with her baptism record for this family group.

So the timeline of this relationship scramble looks like this:
  • 1818: Jeremiah Bamford married Sarah Somers (John H. Somers' sister)
  • 1820: John H Somers married Susannah Ann Kinnaman.
  • 1821: Sarah Somers Bamford, wife of Jeremiah, died.
  • 1822: Birth of Sarah C. Somers.  Was she named for a beloved sister who had just died?
  • 1825: Susan Kinnaman married Jeremiah Bamford. The marriage record says that both of them were single.
  • 1827: John H. Somers, of Dauphin County, PA, executed a deed involving his interest in his father's property on Waggoner's Alley in PHL
  • 1831: Cecelia Kinnaman filed a petition to Orphan's Court for guardianship of her granddaughter, Sarah Somers, stating that the father, John H. Somers had been dead for a year.
The only conclusion I can come to here is that John H. Somers and Susan Kinnaman divorced very shortly after their marriage, even though they had at least one child together (Sarah). So given all these cross-ties, the relationship formula between the Sommer siblings and their spouses looks like this:  A+B and C+D, where A and C are the Sommer siblings, Sarah and John H. After the Sommer siblings dropped out from death and separation, B+D married and lived happily for many years.

My biggest question is this: why didn't Susan take her daughter, Sarah Somers, born from her first marriage into her second marriage with Jeremiah Bamford? From the census data, Sarah Somers never lived with the Bamford family. In other words, why did Cecelia petition for guardianship of the child, Sarah Somers, saying that the Sommer orphan had nobody and nothing when, in fact, the child's mother was alive and remarried? In addition, the children that Jeremiah Bamford and Susan had together were well aware of their half-sister, Sarah Cecelia Somers – who later married Jonathan Simpkins. (Special thanks to researcher, Andrea Batcho, who had already figured out much of this family arrangement.)

There might be any number of answers to this question, but for now, this is the one I have settled on: Cecelia, whoever she was (probably not German), simply wanted to raise her granddaughter. And it seems very likely to me that Grandma Cecelia was well loved. Why? Because Sarah Cecelia Somers Simpkins named her only daughter Cecelia (later married William G. Harris). Add to that six Simpkins sons, and the legacy of Martin Sommer of Freistett most surely lives on today.



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