Friday, September 17, 2010

Ancestor profile: The mystery of Hiram Horatio Raynor...

Hiram Horatio Raynor is my third great grandfather on my mother's side of the family. He's buried in a plot in Greenfield Cemetery, Uniondale, Long Island, New York along with his wife, Ann (Raynor) Raynor, their son and daughter-in-law, Joseph J. "J.J." Raynor and Annie (Poole) Raynor, and J.J. and Annie's three children - William Poole Raynor, Eliza "Lidie" Raynor, and Monroe Raynor (my great-grandfather) and Monroe's wife, Amelia Berg Raynor (my great-grandmother). Hiram's headstone reads, "Hiram H. Raynor, died Dec. 18, 1898" and his age puts his birth about Dec. 24, 1824.

His parents were Joseph and Elizabeth, who died in 1829 and 1828, respectively. Now, I personally have not been able to verify that particular information. That's based on research done by other Raynors before me, so we take that with a grain of salt, although there is evidence, both real and circumstantial, linking him to both Rebecca Raynor (Joseph's mother) and Whitehead Raynor (Elizabeth's father).

In my records, and as far as I can tell, everyone else's records, Hiram disappears, from his birth until 1855. He should appear in the 1850 census, but I can't find him, despite extensive and exhaustive looking. I even looked under the name "Hiram Horatio Smith" on the theory that it's possible Joseph's sister Elizabeth and her husband, Uriah Smith, took him in as a child after the deaths of his parents. I arrived at this possibility due to inaccurate information on the Long Island Genealogy website (which gives a good place to start looking but which is shamefully, embarrassingly inaccurate) that listed a Hiram Horatio Smith, born 1824, as one of the children of Elizabeth and Uriah. That theory so far has not panned out, and neither has the one that Hiram H. Raynor left Long Island as a young adult and traveled somewhere else for awhile before returning home, but I haven't given up yet that I'll find him there, although he may turn out to be an 1850 census ghost - I have a lot of relatives who are, frustratingly, census ghosts...

So, we don't have Hiram in the 1850 census, but we do have him in the 1860, married to Ann with son Joseph, as well as the 1870 and 1880. In all three he's living in Hempstead, Long Island - listed as a seaman in 1860, a bayman in 1870, and an oyster planter in 1880, which is how many of the residents living on the water in those times made a living...So far I haven't been able to find him in the 1892 New York State census, either, but I've only just started looking for him there. You have to be patient and persistent when it comes to these things. I am neither patient nor persistent, so genealogy, in addition to being fun, is teaching me to be both those things...

But, you ask, didn't I say that Hiram appears on records before the 1860 census, in 1855? He does indeed, and I thank cousin April E., for sharing with me these documents that she found. In October of 1855, Hiram H. Raynor was made one of the executors of his grandmother Rebecca Raynor's estate. The beginning of the one document reads, "The people of the State of New York, to Jacob Raynor, son of Rebecca Raynor, deceased, and Hiram H. Raynor, grandson of said Rebecca Raynor, deceased, send greeting."

So, that's pretty interesting. The inventory of Rebecca's estate gives you some insight into her life, but sometimes we forget to look at the other names on the document, such as her grandson Hiram and his uncle Jacob...and looking at those names places my third great grandfather five years earlier than the 1860 census does, but there's still a 30 year gap that I would love to somehow, some way, eventually narrow down and/or account for. Also, I would love to know where his middle name came from. It sounds like something straight out of Shakespeare, right?

I don't have any photos of Hiram but I visit his grave at Greenfield sometimes, just to say hi and see if maybe he'd like to give me some insight into where to look for him next.

Hiram Horatio Raynor's headstone is on the left, next to the grave of his grandson, William Poole Raynor.


And, awesomely enough, thanks to April, I also have my third great grandfather's signature...it's the little things that make me happy. :)

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