Thursday, March 2, 2017


Please note NEW EMAIL ADDRESS: doug.macdonald.pei(at)
Remember to substitute the symbol in place of "(at)" in the address.
The old email address no longer works. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Jenkins Family Traditions - Fact or Fiction?
(exerpt from: "Nicolaus Henckell the Hessian" by Douglas B. MacDonald, 2009)

Have you heard the story about . . . ?
Many stories have been passed down through the family from generation to generation.  And of course we realize that once something has been put in writing, whether true or false, it tends to take on a life of its own.  Sometimes such stories or items become quoted as if they were prime sources themselves.  Even prime source records may sometimes vary when compared with each other.   For example, birth dates on tombstones or from census documents are usually less reliable than birth or baptism records from church documents because the date of recording is more distant from the event of record.  For the same reason, birth dates from infant baptism records are more accurate than those from adult baptisms.   Conflicting sources must always be evaluated.   But which of the many stories from family tradition should we now consider fiction?

Great Old Ages - Not Fiction, but Exaggerated
The great old ages of some of Nicholas and Elizabeth’s children born in PEI contain errors.  These came from an article in the Examiner of 1 March 1880, written a few weeks after daughter Catherine had died.  Even the questionnaire answered by William Jenkins in old age contains an error in the year of his own birth.  He could not possibly have been born in PEI in 1783, because his parents did not arrive on the Island until 1787.  And to this day, no church source has ever been found which records either birth or baptism for any of their children born on the Island.   Let’s look at the details.

The Examiner said “Nicholas Jenking [sic] the father died at 76.   His wife 75, John Jenkins 90, George accidently killed 51, Susannah is still alive aged 100, William died at 92, Nicholas 90, Catherine 91, James still alive aged 88, Henry died at 81, Elizabeth 86 and Leanor 72.”  But what should it be?

In order in which the names appeared in the article:
Nicholas Sr. was born 28 March 1755 and died 15 July 1823, so would have been 68, not 76.
Elizabeth, his wife, birth date unknown, died 29 July 1823, less than two weeks after Nicholas.   She was probably not 7 years older than her husband, and if actually one year younger than Nicholas as the article shows, she would have been 67, not 75.   Also, if she had been 75, she would have been born about 1748, and given birth to their last child Magdalene (Laney or Leanor) at about age 50, which is considered unlikely.  She was probably born about 1756.
John George Jenkins, born 13 May 1784 in Treysa and died 20 June 1866, so would have been 82, not 90.
George, born in PEI but date unknown, was accidently killed 30 October 1836, but if age 51 at the time would have been born about 1785 when the family was still living in Germany.   He was more probably born about 1789, so would have died aged 47, not 51.   Remember, too, that the article was written about 43 years after he died, so his age was probably off.
Susannah, born 18 December 1785 in Treysa, died 14 May 1884, so would have been 94 in 1880, not 100.
William was born about 1787, so could have been 92 if he had died shortly before the article appeared, and if he had been born shortly after the family arrived in PEI, and his age is considered possible.
Nicholas Jr. was probably born about 1790, so when he died in 1877 he would have been about 87, not 90.
Catherine was probably born about 1791 and died 10 February 1880, so would have been 88, not 91.
James was probably born about 1792 and died 24 Feb 1887, so could have been 88 when the article appeared.   If so, he would have died age 95.
Henry was born about 1788 and died about 1870, so could have been 81.
Elizabeth was born about 1793 and died in 1858, so would have been about 63, not 86, but would have been born about 86 years before the article, possibly explaining the number used.
Magdalene (Laney or Leanor) was born about 1798, died in 1858, so would have been about 60, not 72.

Nicholas was born in Hanover, Germany - Fiction
We now know from church records that Nicholas Jenkins was born Nicolaus Henckell on 28 March 1755 in Treysa, Germany to Johann Hermann Henckel and Anna Elisabeth Otto.  He was baptized 31 March 1755, and confirmed in the Lutheran Church, Treysa in 1769 at the age of 14.

The Surname Change Was Suggested by a Minister - Fiction
The story persists that Nicholas anglicized his surname to Jenkins at the suggestion of Rev. Dr. Louis Charles
Jenkins, Minister at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Charlottetown, PEI.  However, Rev. Jenkins wasn’t born until 1797 in England, and the "Weekly Examiner" of 21 Nov 1884 says he didn’t emigrate to the Island until about 1820.  Nicholas would have been 65 years old by that time, and have been an Island resident for 33 years.  The earliest record of Rev. L. C. Jenkins having to do with any of Nicholas’ descendants is the baptism of grandson John Jenkins, son of James and Margaret, who was baptized 9 December 1829, some six years after Nicholas died.  Meanwhile, Nicholas Junior was using the Jenkins surname at least by May 1809 when his name appears on a land transaction.

Nicholas Was Married Twice - Fiction
Nothing has been found to back up the tradition that Nicholas had two wives, the first being an Edwards from the Channel Islands or the Isles of Scilly, the second one being the widow Baum.  The Edwards connection comes through a son and daughter of Nicholas.  It was Nicholas Jr. who married Mary Edwards, and his sister Magdalene (Laney) who married Richard Edwards, their parents being James Edwards and Dobson McBriar, whose family came from the Isles of Scilly off the southwest tip of Cornwall, England.   We also know that while in America, 28 year old Nicolaus Henckell was married 27 July 1783 to Betsey [Elizabeth] Robinson in the Presbyterian Church, Jamaica, Long Island, NY  by Rev. Matthias Burnet.  A few weeks later, on 15 August 1783, the soldiers of the Regiment von Knyphausen sailed from New York for Germany, Nicolaus and his new bride among them, and after two months they arrived back in Ziegenhain on 16 October 1783.  It was only about 5 km from there to his hometown of Treysa.

Elizabeth Pfluger Married Lt. Col. Baum - Fiction
Nothing has been found to date to back up the idea that Nicholas’ wife Elizabeth had been previously married to a German soldier surnamed Baum.  She most certainly was never married to Lt. Col. Frederick Baum who was killed in the Battle of Bennington in Aug 1777.  This is backed up by court records in Germany where Lt. Col. Baum’s widow, mistress and daughters fought over his estate, with no mention of a wife or child in America.  And it is therefore also certain that Nicholas was never married to anyone with either the maiden or married surname of Pfluger, as this name came from a brother-in-law of the Lt. Col.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Miscellaneous Updates

Glad to see more than 10,600 visits so far to this blog. I hope you find something of interest in your quest to add to your knowledge of the Jenkins and Ballem families.

I regret not having posted in a long time, but there have been problems in posting articles to this blog. Also, I broke my arm just over a year ago, and it still has neither the strength nor mobility that the other arm has. Before you feel too sorry for me, I broke it while ice-skating on a cruise ship in the eastern Mediterranean. It was initially set on board, but had to be re-broken when I got home, and plate and pins installed.

My book Nicolaus Henckell the Hessian: A Genealogy of Jenkins Families of Prince Edward Island has been well received, and the 3-volume set is selling well too. As requested in the book, I welcome all additions, corrections, or errors. When sufficient information has been received, it is planned to publish a fourth volume to the set. Meanwhile, four addenda, with a total of 26 pages, have been emailed to those who purchased the book whose address I have. If you have purchased the book, but have not received the addenda, please let me know. Email me at demacdonald[at]pei[dot]sympatico[dot]ca, remembering to complete the areas in brackets properly. (Sorry for any confusion, but an address presented in this way helps lessen spam.)

On a related note, have you tried to read any of the comments to the postings? Most of them appear to be in an oriental font, and are unreadable. I welcome comments, but please send them directly to me rather than posting to the blog.

Now for a family related puzzle:

Does anyone have information on Amelia Jenkins of Millview, PEI, who was married 3 March 1874 to Samuel Jardine? Whose family are they? Do they have any family?

Friday, April 30, 2010

April Photo of the Month

Mount Albion School, Lot 48, PEI.

Can anyone help identify the teacher and pupils? What year was this photo taken?

Please send whatever names you can to me at: demacdonald (at) .If you can help with this, I have an older photo of the same school to try later.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Jenkins Photo of the Month - March 2010

You never know where a priceless family photo is going to turn up. This picture was taken in the entrance to Piazza Joe's Italian Eatery & Bistro in Charlottetown, PEI. Look closely at the photo on the wall (click on it to enlarge). Would you have recognized it as the family of Robert Jenkins and Margaret Louisa (Young) Jenkins which was taken in 1901? And an original, not a copy, in the original frame! It has appeared previuosly on this site. One of the young girls is my wife's grandmother Hannah Belle Jenkins.
After finding the restaurant owner, Joe Lisi, I was told that he had bought the framed photo at a yard sale. As he was from the US it had no sentimental value to him, but was just an old family photo to go with a few others he had on adjacent walls of the entry to his establishment. After explaining the significance to our family, I asked if I could buy it from him. He replied that he would not sell it, but that what he wanted was an old family photo, and that if I could provide him with a suitable replacement we could make a trade. You will now find hanging in it's place a copy of the photo of the family of Isabella Jenkins and husband Kenneth MacDonald taken in 1903, which is also found in Nicolaus Henckell the Hessian, Vol. I, p. 242. Thank you Joe.
The moral of the story is to always keep your eyes peeled for old family photos. You never know where you might come across something which is priceless to the preservation of your family heritage.
If you have old Jenkins family photos to share on this site, please send a scanned copy to me at . And please don't forget to identify all your photos with who is in them so it won't someday be tossed out like the priceless Jenkins photo shown above.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Jenkins Photo of the Month - February

This photo of the Henry Boswall Jenkins family was submitted by his grandson Hudson Jenkins. It shows Henry Boswall Jenkins, born 23 February 1866 in Mount Albion, Lot 48, PEI; his wife Elizabeth Jane (Bessie) MacKenzie Jenkins, born 17 September 1877; and their sons. From the left, they are Lorne Alexander Jenkins, Robert Harold Jenkins and Henry Spurgeon Jenkins. It was undated, but appears to have been taken about 1908. You can find more on this family in Nicolaus Henckell the Hessian, Vol. 1, p. 241.
If you have old photos and/or stories to share, please email me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How a Baby Received His Name

This photo of the family of Robert Jenkins was taken in the early summer of 1901 in Charlottetown. The baby shown on his mother's lap had been born 27 April 1901. The Governor General of Canada, His Excellency Lord Gilbert Minto, and his wife visited Prince Edward Island later that summer. During the visit Robert somehow managed to present this photo of the family to Lady Minto, requesting that she name the baby. She called him Gilbert, after her husband, and he thus became Gilbert Minto Jenkins. This begs the question of what he had been called before, and what his birth name might have been registered as.