Friday, January 25, 2013

My ORMSBEE Brothers: Jacob, Stephen Decatur

I recently found the name of my Ormsbee brothers' father:  Arnold ORMSBEE, and his wife Hannah or Anna.  This was a wonderful breakthrough, due not only to new photos and details on the FindAGrave site about Oakwood Cemetery, Syracuse, New York, but also by digging into clues in a newspaper article found on that wonderful site, Old Fulton Postcards - which is actually about Newspapers (turn down your speakers!).

Jacob ORMSBEE, born 21 Jun 1806 in Pompey, Onondaga, New York, is my third greatgrandfather on my mother's side.  He lived in Manlius, Onondaga, New York, for several years as an adult, moving about 1828 to Baldwinsville to work, finally settling in Syracuse, Onondaga, New York, by 1845.  He was a skilled carpenter apparently, and was one of the carpenters employed  in 1833 building the three story Seneca Hotel in Baldwinsville, as well as the old Globe Hotel and the first Onondaga Orphan Asylum in Syracuse, Onondaga, New York.

In approximately 1824 while still living in Manlius, he married Sabra/Sally TOWERS, born 22 Aug 1805, in Shaghticoke, Rensselaer, New York.  I can finally spell both those placenames without stumbling!  Both partners were 18 years old, Sabra being almost a year older, possibly 19.  Jacob and Sabra had 5 children, the eldest three married, and two of them had children for several more generations.  We have no photos of Jacob and his wife.  

My family line goes through their very long-lived 2nd child, Harriet "Hattie" Philena ORMSBEE, b. 28 May 1827, d. 20 Aug 1929.  She is the smaller elderly lady in the 1924 photo on the side.  Her taller daughter who is talking with her is Clara Augusta GRAVES, Clara's daughter Marguerite on the right holding my almost 2 year old mother.  Four generations.

 But what about Hattie's ORMSBEE family? Did she have uncles and aunts?  Did she know her grandparents?  For the past 8 years, I could find nothing about her family past her father's name, Jacob, and that they lived in towns in Onondaga county, New York.

Recently, I found an interesting clue about Jacob's family in the Syracuse Weekly Express, Wednesday, June 27, 1888.  It's a bit blurry, but states as follows:
Four Generations Dining Together.
    A pleasant gathering greeted Mr. Jacob Ormsbee Thursday afternoon at his home, No. 18 Rust street, the occasion being the eighty-second anniversary of his birthday.  Four generations ate and talked together.  Among those present were L.J. Ormsbee and his family, C.G. Graves and his family, Stephen A. Ormsbee and his family, Mrs. John Leary and others.  A purse of money was presented to the host in behalf of the relatives by H.J. Ormsbee.

I knew who all of those individuals were from my previous research... LJ was his son Lucius Jared Ormsbee, CG Graves married his daughter (my 2nd greatgrandmother), Mrs. John Leary was Jacob's daughter (widowed), and HJ Ormsbee was Lucius' son. But Stephen?  Unknown. 

I found he was also buried in Oakwood Cemetery in a different section from Jacob and his family members, and this information had been recently added with additional details. Including - the same parents as now listed for my Jacob - Arnold & Hannah Ormsbee. Amazing. Some digging showed that the newspaper had Stephen's middle initial incorrect - his middle name was actually Decatur, but errors can easily happen in journalism.  

I have since learned more about Stephen Decatur Ormsbee, such as that he lived in the same area, working as a carpenter like his big brother. He had three children I could find online, and at least one of them had a child. In addition, his 2nd child was a boy: James Arnold Ormsbee, named for his grandfather apparently. 

Perhaps there's a cousin out there somewhere who has photographs of the ORMSBEE families, or stories. I would love to find any relative who may have more information about these two brothers, and their parents.  Of course, there may have been a sister or two, but we know the challenges in finding women once they married!   Contact me if you know anything about either the ORMSBEE brothers and their parents.


John D. Tew said...

Celia: Congratulations on your breakthrough! The thrill of discoveries like this is one of the pleasures of genealogy! :-)


Celia Lewis said...

Thanks John - I was indeed very thrilled to find another brother and confirm the parents' names. Now it seems that there were more siblings when I search the 1810 and 1820 Census for Arnold, the father. Somewhere out there there must be another Ormsbee/Ormsby who's related!

Jill Ball said...

Well done, Celia. Keep digging and I'm sure you'll have more breakthroughs.

Celia Lewis said...

Thanks so much Jill. Sometimes I make progress so very slowly in this maternal line, then something comes up that makes me blink and notice a new idea ... what is that? A random bit of information. So every once in awhile I search through old as well as new record databases. I have hope!

Betty Taylor said...

It's so great to find someone new, especially after you have put so much time in. I enjoyed reading about your research. I too am learning place names that I had never heard of.


Celia Lewis said...

It's all about our own personal growth, don't you think? We keep on learning and finding new bits of history to ponder on! Thanks so much for commenting on my blog, Betty.

Anonymous said...

Dear Celia,
My name is Elizabeth, and I am an Ormsbee directly through my parental line. I am hoping we can connect and compare notes. I am descended from Harrison Ormsbee (b. abt. 1816, d. 2/11/1873 in DeWitt, NY). His descendants are very well researched, but I am interested in learning about Harrison's parents and how they may connect to the Syracuse Ormsbees, given the close proximity. It is my thought that Harrison may come from a common ancestor. Please email me at

Susie Lockwood said...

Hi Celia:

I came across your blog as I was researching Maria Ormsbee, the wife of Simeon (Simon) Cadwell and mother of Edward S. Cadwell. It is quite possible Maria is related to your Ormsbees as she lived in Cazenovia, NY - adjacent to Manlius and Pompey.

There is a biography of Edward S. Cadwell in "A Twentieth Century History and Biography of LaPorte County, Indiana" which provides some background information on the family. An ebook is available online. Edward S. Cadwell's bio is on pp. 450-451.

Good luck with your research!

Celia Lewis said...

Thanks so much, Susan! I see it on FamilySearch as well as HathiTrust, so I will definitely be reading it. Every little bit of information helps me in searching. Although this area of New York is rather challenging to research for details! Certainly there were more than 3 or 4 Ormsbee children of Arnold & Hannah/Ann Ormsby/Ormsbee, as noted on early censuses.
Thanks again for your comment - I'm enthused to do more research in this area.


Family, friends, and others - I hope you enjoy these pages about our ancestors and their lives. Genealogy has become somewhat of an obsession, more than a hobby, and definitely a wonderful mystery to dig into and discover. Enjoy my writing, and contact me at celia.winky at gmail dot com if you have anything to add to the stories. ... Celia Lewis