Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Nicholas Jenkins and the Island Census of 1798
Copy from History of Prince Edward Island, by Duncan Campbell, published by Bremner Brothers, Charlottetown, PEI, in 1875, p. 215.
The oldest surviving British Census of what is now Prince Edward Island is that of 1798. The only surviving source of this census is incomplete, and contained in a History of Prince Edward Island, by Duncan Campbell, published by Bremner Brothers, Charlottetown, PEI, in 1875. On page 215 it includes a line with the following information:
Lot 49 - Nicks. Jenkins, 6 males under 16 yrs, 1 male 16 to 60, 3 females under 16, 1 female 16 to 60.
It has always been a puzzle as to which family members were included in this census, and how they might fit into the age groupings as listed. The following presents what is confirmed by quality sources, information based on family tradition, and some educated guesses to help fill in the blanks. Any suggested sources of further research, corrections, expansions and improvements is both welcomed and encouraged
We have read previously that on 3 March 1776 the Regiment von Knyphausen departed the garrison at Ziegenhain, Germany. Regimental Drummer Nicolaus Henckel would have been aged 20 years & 11 months at the time. It is considered unlikely that he would have been already married.
Family tradition has said that Nicholas’ oldest son John was born in Hanover, Germany about 1777. A search of all church baptismal records at the Stadtarchiv, Hanover for the period 1775-1782 turned up no record for either John or his sister Susannah. In fact for no Henckel at all during that period in Hanover. [Source: Letter of 31 Aug 1979 from Stadtarchiv, Hanover to Beryl (MacDonald) Barrett] As Nicholas had left Ziegenhain, Germany 3 March 1776, it is highly unlikely that John was born in Germany, but more probably in New York or Pennsylvania. No birth or christening records have been found to date anywhere.
Family lore has also said that daughter Susannah from Nicholas’ first marriage was born in Hanover, Germany about 1778 or 1779. The only documentation for this date is long after the fact in the 1881 Census of Lot 49, PEI where she was listed as aged 102, born in Germany. As noted above, a search of all church baptismal records at the Stadtarchiv, Hanover for the period 1775-1782 turned up no record for either John or Susannah. Either her assumed age or place of birth (or both) is/are probably incorrect, due to when we know Nicholas left Germany for America.
We have also read previously that on 27 October 1779 five officers and 200 Hessian soldiers commanded by Col. Heinrich Borck of the Regiment Knyphausen aboard the transport Archer arrived at Charlotte Town in Saint Johns Island (PEI). Nicholas then would have been aged 24 years & 7 months. Source documents have been found that shows at least two of the men who had been in PEI that winter of 1779 through June of 1780, Weckesser [Vickerson], and Fischer [Fisher], had returned to Germany in 1783, had been discharged from the Regiment at Ziegenhain in Hessen as Nicholas had, and later returned to live out their lives in PEI. They had both come from the same area in the Schwalm Valley where Nicholas had been born.
We have also read previously that on 27 July 1783 a Nicholas Henkle was married to Betsey Robinson in the Presbyterian Church, Jamaica, Long Island, NY by Rev. Matthias Burnet. [Source: Manuscript owned by the Long Island Historical Society of Brooklyn, NY, copied by Josephine C. Frost (Mrs. Samuel Knapp Frost), Brooklyn, NY, 1914] No other information was given other than the date of the marriage and the names of the bride and groom. This would have been less than a month before Nicholas departed for Germany after the War. Nicholas would then have been aged 28 years & 4 months.
At the end of the Revolutionary War, the soldiers of the Regiment von Knyphausen sailed for Germany on 15 August 1783. They arrived back in the garrison city of the Regiment, Ziegenhain on 16 October 1783.
Family tradition has said Nicholas Jenkins first settled in Vernon River, Lot 49, in 1783, about where St. Joachims Roman Catholic Church later stood. However, this most probably happened after December 1785 and before November 1787 as we shall see. A search by Paulette McNally at the PEI Archives of Military Muster Rolls from 14 June 1783 to September 1784, and of Loyalist land grants 1783-1786, turned up no reference to any Henckel or Jenkins in the Island.
William Jenkins, son of Nicholas and Elizabeth Jenkins, wrote in 1876 in response to a questionnaire that he was born “At Mr. Thomas Beer’s Lot 50" in 1783. He said the family had sailed “In ‘1783' in the Polly - From the United States of America”. He said they landed in 1783, that “Mary Jenkins Died on the passage”, named his father, Nicholas Jenkins, as being the first shoemaker in their area, and said the oldest wayside tavern he knew of belonged to Nicholas Jenkins. But he also said that his brother, James Jenkins, was the first born in their settlement after coming there, possibly meaning that James was the first born in Pownal after relocating from their original home in Vernon River, Lot 49, to Cherry Valley, Lot 50, and shortly after to
Pownal, Lot 49. [Source: PAPEI, Acc. 2702, Series 20, Vol. 296-317, William Jenkins] No birth or christening record for William Jenkins has yet been found. Could it be that William mixed the story of the Polly with that of the troop transport ship from Charlottetown to Quebec? Or was this Polly the ship that brought the family from New York about 1787 after their arrival back from Germany? Next door neighbour Peter Praught , born in Lot 50, PEI in 1796, in answering the same questionnaire as William Jenkins, in 1876 said the old men and women he remembered were “Nicholas Jenkins and his wife. He was born in Germany. And she was born in New York”. [Source: PAPEI, Acc. 2702, Series 20, Vol. 296-317, Peter Praught] This appears to support Nicholas’ marriage to Betsy Robinson in Long Island, NY.
Henry B. Jenkins, son of Nicholas and Elizabeth Jenkins, born about 1784 in Lot 49, PEI. This is only a previously assumed date; no birth or christening record has yet been found.
George Jenkins, son of Nicholas and Elizabeth Jenkins, born about 1785 in Lot 49, PEI. This is also only a previously assumed date; no birth or christening record has yet been found.
Nikolaus Henckel's military records show him taking furlough or discharge from Regiment von Knyphausen at Ziegenhain, Germany in April 1785, further strengthening the idea that he had returned to Germany in 1783. [Source: HETRINA III, no. 7424]
On 18 December 1785, a daughter Susanna was born in Treysa, Germany to “Nicolaus Henckel, master shoemaker, and his wife Elizabeth nee Robinson of New York born”. Witnesses were Susanna Beckmerin, and another illegible name. Although Susanna's birthdate has been shown to be later than had been previously thought (based solely on what someone had given in the 1881 Census), family lore has said she was born in Germany. This birth was recorded in the same town in Hessen Cassel where her father had been born, although she would be a product of Nicholas’ second marriage, not his first.
Nicholas Jenkins, son of Nicholas and Elizabeth Jenkins, born about 1787 in Lot 49, PEI. This is also only a previously assumed date; no birth or christening record has yet been found.
One other very interesting piece of information was found regarding Nicholas and Elizabeth Henckel which adds to the mystery of this family. Listed in Treysa, Germany under "Buriels 1787" was this:
27 November 1787 - “Anna Maria of the absconded citizen and Master Shoe Maker Nicholaus Henkel and also absconded wife Elizabeth nee Ropison (Robison) born in New York, once living there [NY?] with illegitimate child, died on 27 November at 1pm, 9 years old.”
It should be mentioned that in the same month many young children and adults had died as though there was some kind of an epidemic. A 9 year old child would have been born about 1778 when Nicholas was in Pennsylvania or New York. It could be assumed that it was their illegitimate child that they brought back with them to Germany in the Fall of 1783. Susannah was born in 1785, so sometime between December1785 and November of 1787 Nicholas and Elizabeth had left (or absconded) Treysa, probably for the Island.
Catherine Jenkins, daughter of Nicholas and Elizabeth Jenkins, born about 1788 in Lot 49, PEI. This is also only a previously assumed date; no birth or christening record has yet been found.
About 1792 Nicholas and family moved to Cherry Valley, Lot 50, PEI. [Source: Examiner, Charlottetown, 1 March 1880. Name spelled Nicholas “Jenking”, other errors as to date of arrival, number of children, ages, etc.] This begs the question of when Nicholas and family relocated from Vernon River to Cherry Valley then Pownal. Was it after the birth of Catherine and before that of James?
James Jenkins, son of Nicholas and Elizabeth Jenkins, born about 1792 in Lot 49, PEI. This is also only a previously assumed date; no birth or christening record has yet been found.
On 2 August 1792 the trial of Joseph Farrow from Vernon River Settlement was reported. He had been charged three days earlier with the rape of a 12 or 13 year old girl from the community, “a small boy of about 17 being eye witness to the whole transaction”. This witness was 17 year old Peter Bollam, whose testimony helped convict the accused, resulting in the ...“first execution that ever took place in this Island”. [Source: PAPEI, Royal Gazette and Miscellany of the Island of Saint John, Charlottetown, 2 August 1792, p. 4] Family tradition has always said Peter Ballem was the son of Nicholas’ second wife Elizabeth by her first husband, a Hessian soldier who died during the Revolutionary War. But more of this in a future entry.
Elizabeth Jenkins, daughter of Nicholas and Elizabeth Jenkins, born about 1792 in Lot 49, PEI. This is also only a previously assumed date; no birth or christening record has yet been found.
Magdalene (Laney) Jenkins, daughter of Nicholas and Elizabeth Jenkins, born about 1792 in Lot 49, PEI. This is also only a previously assumed date; no birth or christening record has yet been found.
On 1 February 1796, 100 acres of land in Pownal, Lot 49 was transferred from Ann Clark to “Nicholas Jenkins” for 50 Pounds lawful money of the Island of Saint John, but it was signed by “Nicolaus Henckell”.
In April 1798 he is listed as Nicks. Jenkins, Head of Family on Lot No. 49 in the first surviving census of PEI: “A Return of the Inhabitants on the Island of Saint John, taken in April 1798, by order of His Excellency Governor Fanning.......” The family consisted of seven males (six under 16 years of age and one between 16 to 60) and four females (three under 16 and one between the ages of 16 and 60) for a total of 11 people. This would indicate that Nicholas’ son John Jenkins (then about 21) and Elizabeth’s son Peter Ballem (then about 23) were living elsewhere at the time. However, the only known source of this census is incomplete and does not list them elsewhere on the Island.
Further Questions and Research Suggestions:
Regarding a previous marriage for Nicholas: A search of marriage records in Ziegenhain, Germany from 1760 to 1830 turned up no marriage record for any Nikolaus Henckel. [Source: Letter of 30 Nov 1981 from Evangelisch Reformierte Kirchengemeinde Ziegenhain to Beryl (MacDonald) Barrett, Charlottetown, PE]
Is Susannah's date of birth wrong in family tradition, and/or is her place of birth wrong?
Where was Nicholas' first wife when their children were born and who was she? A few wives traveled with their husbands from Hessen to America and were even among the prisoners at Trenton, but it is doubtful that many soldiers traveled back and forth to Germany to visit their wives.
The exact date Nicholas Henckel arrived in PEI has always been in question.
Peter Bollam (Ballem/Baum) was the son of Nicholas’ second wife by her first husband, unknown Baum, so 2 August 1792 is the earliest documented evidence of Nicholas and family on the Island, and places them in the Vernon River Settlement. It should also be noted that based on Peter’s age in 1792, he would have been born about 1775, and at his death 24 January 1874 he would have been about 99, a more believable age than that of 106 as per his headstone.
According to tradition, Nicholas’ first two children were born of his first marriage. As discussed earlier, tradition also states that the two children arrived in PEI with their father, his second wife, and her son, Peter Ballem about 1783. She was a widow named Elizabeth Baum (Ballem) whose husband was said to have been killed in 1776 or 1777 in the American Revolution. Both Nicholas' children were said to have been born in Germany. The 1881 Census of P.E.I, lists Suzannah as being 102 years old (which would mean that she was born ca. 1779), born in Germany, and living with her son James Robertson, a farmer on Lot 49.
The years of birth and order of birth of Nicholas and Elizabeth’s children born in PEI have always been subject to speculation, especially in relation to who might have been included in the April 1798 Census. No birth records have yet been found, with ages at death often based only on those presented by Ludlow Jenkins in 1938 newspaper articles under the heading “Old Times South of the Hillsboro”which were known to have included inaccuracies.
Now to a possible family configuration for Nicholas (Henckel) Jenkins, with birth order modified to fit 1798 Census (followed by their age as it would have been in 1798).
With first wife, unknown:
1. John, born ca. 1777 in NY; died 20 Jun 1866 aet 89 years [Examiner, 16 Jul 1866] (20-21 yrs)
2. Mary, born ca 1779 in NY; died ca. 1788 on passage to PEI (Deceased)
With second wife Elizabeth Robinson, married 27 Jul 1783 in Long Island, NY:
1. Susannah, born 18 Dec 1785 in Treysa, Germany; died 14 May 1884 age 99 years? (12 yrs)
2. Nicholas, born 1787 (poss. enroute to PEI?); died 1877 in PEI age 90 years. (10-11 yrs)
3. William, born ca. 1788 in PEI; died 1877 age 92 years (89 years) (9-10 yrs)
4. James, born ca. 1792; died after 1880. (age 88 years old in 1880) (5-6 yrs)
5. Catherine, born ca. 1793 in PEI; died 10 Feb 1880 age 85 years. (4-5 yrs)
6. Elizabeth, born ca. 1794 in PEI; died 1879 age 85 years? (3-4 yrs)
7. George, born ca. 1795 in PEI; died 30 Aug 1836 age 41 years? (2-3 yrs)
8. Magdalene, born ca. 1797 in PEI; died 1858 age 66 years (per headstone, not b. 1792) (0/1 yr)
9. Henry, born ca. 1799 in PEI; died ca. 1880 age 81 years? (Not born yet)
Also: Peter Ballem, born ca. 1775 (about 17 yrs old in Aug 1792) (22-23 yrs)
PEI Census of April 1798
Only Existing Source: History of Prince Edward Island, by Duncan Campbell, pub. by Bremner Brothers, Charlottetown, PEI, 1875, p. 215.
Lot 49 - Nicks. Jenkins, 6 males under 16 yrs, 1 male 16 to 60, 3 females under 16, 1 female 16 to 60.
Possible children in this Census (based on current information) included:
Nicholas Jr., William, James, George, Henry, Susannah, Catherine, Elizabeth
Did they have another male child (under 16 in 1798) who died young?
John (Henckel) Jenkins (age 20 or 21) and Peter (Baum) Ballem (age 22 or 23) probably not living at home in 1798.
Is this possible? Is it probable? Do you agree, disagree, or have another theory?
Please let me know so among us we might finally sort this out.