Saturday, October 30, 2010

Solomon Joseph Hartley: Brick Wall everlasting?

My maiden name is Hartley. Captain Solomon Joseph Hartley (abt 1775-1815), who was a mariner in the late 1700's/early 1800's in the Philadelphia area, is my 4th-great-grandfather. When I first started my family tree it didn't sink in that he was only 1 of 64 4th-great-grandparents, and because I shared the same last name I put an undue amount of importance on his line.

The problem is, no one seems to know where he came from.

This is the original info I had on Solomon:
Captain Solomon Joseph Hartley, the progenitor of the family which forms the subject of this chapter, was a sea captain in Philadelphia, PA. He was born about the time of the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. He followed the sea from the time he was a boy and finally became a sea captain. He is known to have made long voyages to foreign countries and sometimes would be gone for three years on such trips. On one voyage to China he brought back some dishes which have been preserved by one of his descendants. [QUERY: DO WE NOW KNOW WHERE THESE DISHES ARE?] He had a brother, William, of whom nothing further is known than that he was resident either in Pennsylvania or New Jersey in 1815. Capt. Hartley married, about 1803, in Jersey City, NJ, Mary (Gwynap) (Clegg) Onetti, the widow of Joseph Onetti; he was her third husband...............
Capt. Hartley drowned in the Delaware River in 1815 at the age of 39, while rowing on the river near Philadelphia. ("It is greatly to be regretted," May Tibbetts wrote, "that some history of his branch of the Hartley family was not written down during his lifetime, to be preserved for his descendants." The widow Mary Hartley, who older sons were eight and 10 years old at the time of their father's untimely death, was left in straitened circumstances; she assumed again her occupation as glove maker and pursued that work for many years until her death, about 1855, at the home of her son, William Hartley, then of Camden, NJ.

Records indicate that the three sons of Capt. Solomon Joseph and Mary Hartley were provided with "good educations" and each was apprenticed to well-to-do Quaker families in Philadelphia. By this means, each learned a trade. All were reared in the Society of Friends, though in later life they did not all continue as members of this group.

The name Hartley immediately says "English" to most people, and one of my cousins, Richard Stanley Dunlop (who wrote the above quote), did quite a bit of research on other Hartley's in the Philadelphia area who all seemed to be of English heritage. When he assembled the list of possibilities there was no Internet as we know it today, and certainly no online genealogy sites. I took his extensive work and developed Ancestry* trees for those lines, soon discovering that Solomon Joseph Hartley did not fit into any of them.

Solomon had three children that we know of, all with his wife Mary Gwynap (??-abt 1855) (she is another monster of a brick wall): George Washington Hartley (1805-1880), William Hartley (1807-1874), and Abner Hartley (1813-1890).

I believe George W probably has the most descendants (I am one of them) and thus more people are likely looking for info on Solomon from that angle. George W claimed his father's birthplace was GER on the 1880 Census (the first federal census that asked for parents' place of birth).

Germany?? But Hartley isn't a German name! Well, actually it can be, it turns out, although I don't think it is very common, or is an anglicized version of Hertel or Hartle.

William only lived until 1874 so he didn't get to answer that question.

Abner, who was an obscure figure on my side compared to his brothers, was generally thought to have been born about 1809, a reasonable assumption of spacing between siblings, but wrong. He was born in 1813 and was only about 1 1/2 when his father drowned in the Delaware river. In the 1880 Census he put his father as from Poland.


And then one of George W's sons, Marquis de Lafayette Hartley (1836-abt 1920), seemed to think Solomon was a Danish sailer. By this time it was decades away from the fact and he never met Solomon, so it is possible that he got it mixed up.

There is a Family Search/LDS/IGI record of Solomon Joseph Hartley married to a Miss Gijwnap, daughter of Giles Gijwnap. I'm not a big fan of the Family Search side of the LDS records, and this record is just strange. Mary Gwynap was supposedly born in New Jersey and was Scottish (although Gwynap says "Welsh" to me). At some point I will have to request the info on who submitted that data to LDS. But I digress...

I've noticed that in the 1800's and 1900's Censuses people would say that their parents were from Ireland or Germany or wherever and upon further investigation of the parents it would turn out that they were just of that ethnicity a generation or two back, and were actually from Pennsylvania or Maryland for example.

Anyway, none of this evidence on Solomon says "English" to me. I looked on the map and tried to figure out what area would have been in both Germany and Poland at some point around Solomon's time and that would work with the assertion that he "followed the sea from the time he was a boy," and came up with the tentative place of Danzig.

Solomon was gone a lot at sea, and didn't appear to be in any of the Federal Census records (although the New Jersey ones of his era were lost, so he might have been on one of those). It is possible that the Solomon Hartley in the modern-day Fishtown area of Philadelphia in the 1813 Philadelphia city directory is my guy, and possibly the 1810 Bridgeport address, but otherwise there seemed to be no documentation on him.

After months of looking around the web I discovered a wonderful index put together by the (late) Ruth Dixon that was on limited preview via Google Books:

Title Index to Seamen's protection certificate applications, port of Philadelphia, 1796-1823: record group 36, records of the Bureau of Customs, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC

Indexes to Seamen's Protection Certificate Applications and Proofs of Citizenship Author Ruth Dixon Edition reprint Publisher Genealogical Publishing Com, 2001 ISBN 0806345896, 9780806345895 Length 159 pages

Seamen's Protection Certificates were authorized by Congress in 1796 to identify American merchant seamen as citizens of the United States and, as such, entitled to protection against impressment at sea. This work is an index to the names of merchant seamen who made application for a Seamen's Protection Certificate (SPe at the Port of Philadelphia between 1796 and 1823. The names of 14,397 seamen appear in this new volume, and each is identified according to the date of the SPC application, age, race, and state or country of birth.

Limited preview - 2001 - 159 pages - Reference

Through this I found a Solomon Hartley (applied in 1803 at age 28, born in PA), a George Hartley (applied in 1794 at age ?? from Germany), and Joseph Onetto (likely Mary Gwynap's first son by her second husband Joseph Onetto). Umm, wow!! Hot stuff!

I contacted the National Archives and Records administration and they sent me copies of these certificates (so far my experience with NARA has rocked!).

Text of Solomon's protection certificate--anything in parenthesis are my comments:

(Content of the copy of the record of Solomon Hartley (n. 9566 Soloman Hartley, 2 Nov). The certificate is folded, with info on each side)


Commonwealth of Penn.

Phildelphia County

Personally appeared before me the Subscriber one of the Justices of the Peace forsaid county, James Creed(?), who upon his sollemn Oath Sywreth and Sayeth, that Solloman Hartley to his certain knowledge was born at Pitsborough in the Commonwealth aforesaid, said Solloman is about twenty eight years of age, five feet five inches and three quarters high, brown hair, near unto black, blue eyes and dark complexion, a scarr under his left chinn on the upper part of his neck. A mark or scarr on the upper joynt of the little finger of his right hand-- Said Solloman Hartley acknowledges no government but the government of the state of Penn and generally the Government of the United States of America of whome he claims citizenship--

Sworn and subscribed before me Given under my hand and Seal the 2nd day of Novem. 1803

James Creed(?) (signed)

Salomon Hartley (signed) (might read Solomon, the writing is a little unclear)

Wm Robinson(?) (signed) (last name unclear)

So he's claiming to be from PITTSBURGH (Pitsborough) of all places lol. It just goes to show that when you assume things you'll miss out on other possibilities. For some reason I thought the population movement went from East to West in the early United States, but actually it makes sense. Pittsburgh isn't near the ocean, but it is near key rivers and maybe Solomon originally was a riverboat guy. Also, there were German immigrants in that area when he was born.

Text of George Hartley's protection certificate:
City of Philadelphia ss(?),

I Matthew Clarkson Mayor of the said City do hereby Certify that George Hartley Mariner son of George Hartley Labourer of Dantzig, where he was born, and arrived at Philadelphia--from Amsterdam----did this day take and subscribe before me the Oath of Allegiance prescribed by an Act of the General Assembly of the Common Wealth of Pennsylvania pass on the 13th day March 1789,--

five feet nine inches, dark compl.

Germany, Dansick

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed my seal the--Third day of July 1794

Matthew Clarkson (signed), Mayor

DANZIG?? I just about fell over when I saw this. I'm not saying that this IS a relative of Solomon because I really have no way to prove it, but I made a pretty good guess at a mariner Hartley from Danzig! I do wonder if it IS a relative though.

So, I've made some progress on Solomon, but not as much as I'd like. I could never figure out what happened to his brother William mentioned in the quote toward the beginning.
I did recently contact the very helpful Joan Lowe, Corporate Archivist at ACE Archives for a search of the Insurance Company of North America (INA) voyage insurance records to see if his name came up, but he didn't. And I think if he was a captain he should have had a record. This makes me wonder if he was indeed a captain or if that was a natural exaggeration of status that happens so often in family genealogies lol. Ms. Lowe recommended that I contact the Philadelphia Seaport Museum library to see if they have any ideas, so that is the direction I'll go next, along with a new interest in early Pittsburgh.

As an aside, I do wish I knew how Solomon met Mary Gwynap. At that time she was twice-widowed Mary Gwynap Clegg Onetto, and mother to 2 young children, Joseph "Joe" Onetto (b abt 1796-1851) and Elizabeth "Betsey" Onetto (b abt 1800-???). Was Joseph Onetto elder a mariner as well? Did Joseph Onetto the elder and Solomon know each other?? Why on earth did Solomon and Mary get married in Jersey City, NJ, instead of Camden NJ or Philadelphia? I believe that one of Joe Onetto's own children said he was from Italy in the 1880 Census, and that seems to be one of those cases where he was of Italian ancestry (father Joseph Onetto probably WAS from Italy) rather than from Italy itself.

*I am an Ancestry subscriber, so my bias tends toward that service.

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