Mary Ann Hitchcock


Mary Ann Hitchcock Pinkerton


The lady pictured above is my 3rd great-grandmother Mary Ann Hitchcock Pinkerton.

She was the youngest out of seven children born to Alured Hitchcock and Sarah Warner Stevens 17 June 1824 in Vergennes, Vermont. Both of her parents come from a long line of New England Colonial families.

Mary Ann married David M. Pinkerton, Jr., a missionary preacher, on 27 October 1845 in Galesburg, Illinois. They spent the next twenty-five years of their married life as missionaries. Along the way, they had nine children.

Mary Ann passed away at her daughter Mary home on 8 November 1908 in Northfield, Minnesota.


Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

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Bean Station

Bean Station in Grainger County Tennessee has deep roots in post-revolutionary America. Captian William Bean along with Daniel Boone scouted and hunted in the area as early as the 1760s. Both explorers are legendary frontiersmen who discovered a way through the Cumberland Gap in the spring of 1769.

At the end of the Revolutionary War, William Bean was granted 3000 acres of land for his outstanding service. He decided on a piece of land in what is now Grainger County Tennessee.

It is possible that William Bean had seen the area that he had chosen before while hunting and surveying land with his buddy Daniel Boone.


William Bean and his wife Lydia Russell are said to be the first permanent Caucasian settlers in Tennessee.

Located below Clinch Mountain, Bean Station became a place of safety from the chaos of the frontier.

A shrewd businessman William Bean built Bean Station at a significant crossroads. Outside of the fort, William built the Bean Tavern which was the largest tavern between Washington D. C. and New Orleans. Travelers coming from far and wide stopped there on their journeys. It was a busy hub for the surrounding settlements in East Tennessee.

Interesting Note: Abraham Lincoln’s mother was a waitress at the Bean Station Tavern for a time.

To read more about Bean Station, click here.


I hold a particular interest in Bean Station as I am a descendant of William Bean and Lydia Russell who are my sixth great-grandparents.




Thank you for reading

J. R. Findsen

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My Life’s Story: Chapter 2




My Life’s Story

by Eleanor Van Dusen Bowen


Chapter 2: French, New Mexico


French, New Mexico [near Cimarron] was in the northeast part of the State. It is not on the maps anymore. The only buildings still there are the old livery stable and the store building. Everything else is gone as though it never existed. This in about 1978.

When we arrived in French, it was very cold and snow lay on the ground. Grandfather met us with a horse and buggy, hot bricks for our feet and plenty of blankets. We learned that Grandfather’s farm was several miles west of French on what was called the French Tract. When we arrived at the house, my Grandmother had the most enormous amount of food on the table and lots of fresh, cold milk for us to drink.

Mother soon started to get better. When spring came, Grandfather put her into the fields to plow and drive other farm machinery. It wasn’t long until she was well and had begun to gain a little weight.

I remember that the biggest events of the year were to me, hog killing time and Christmas. Thanksgiving came next in pure pleasure and fun. On the holidays, the table was always loaded with lots of good food, and Grandfather would tell us ghost stories and tales of his life as a young boy in England.

The next year, my Father came west and we moved onto the huge Taylor Ranch not far from Grandfather’s farm. Mr. Taylor had herds of cattle and be did a lot of farming. Father worked here for the next few years. Charles and I went to Andrews School. The first year we drove a horse and buggy, but the next year there was a bus to pick up the children and take them to school.

We lived in Springer during the winter of 1920 and 1921. Harry and I went to the grade school and Charles attended the Junior High School.

In the spring of 1921, Mother divorced Father and we moved back to Grandfather’s farm on the French Tract. There is a separate story about the French Tract and my life there.

To be continued…



Catch up on Eleanor Van Dusen Bowen’s story: Chapter 1


Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

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Tall Tales Debunked



We all have stories that are passed down from our grandparents or great-grandparents. These tales have a way of enticing our imaginations.

All too often, as we dig a little deeper into these fantastic tales, they prove only partially true or not true at all. As a consequence, a bit of magic from our childhood evaporates. However, through research new exciting tales take their place. That is the real magic of genealogy.

Recently, my father asked me to check into a story told to him by a scruffy old logger from Alaska. His name was Jack Johnstone. The old logger’s story had inspired dreams of living the frontier life that lasted a lifetime.

When my Dad was fourteen years old, he and his father worked as loggers on the islands around southeast Alaska during the summer of 1968. While sitting around a campfire after a long day of work Johnstone told stories of his connection to Jeremiah Johnson, the famous frontiersman who was made even more famous by Robert Redford.


jeremiah johnson

Robert Redford as Jeremiah Johnson

As a child, I remember having to watch the movie Jeremiah Johnson over and over. As a consequence, the movie is forever committed to my memory.

It was apparent that the tales told to my father so many years ago still inspired his imagination.

Jack Johnstone of Ketchikan Alaska claimed he was a direct descendant of the infamous Jeremiah Johnson.

The first step in debunking or confirming this tale was to learn as much about Jeremiah Johnson’s life. Here is what I found:

Jeremiah Johnson, was in fact, born Jeremiah Garrison to Isaac and Eliza Garrison in July 1824 in Little York, New Jersey. He had a very rough childhood with a father that was abusive.

Isaac Garrison thought nothing of sending his small children out to work off his debts. Jeremiah had at least one brother who died while fighting during the Civil War and two sisters, both of whom had children.

Due to the abuse suffered during his formative learning years, Jeremiah grew up scrappy, a fighter and a survivor. A skill which would serve and hinder him throughout his life.

At the age of twelve, Jeremiah left home to work on a schooner hunting whales. After a while, Jeremiah became bored and joined the Navy. His violent nature got the better of him, and he knocked out his commanding officer. It was thirty days before Jeremiah could go ashore. Once on dry land, he disappeared.

Fearing reprisal of desertion Jeremiah changed his name to Jeremiah Johnston and ventured out into the wilds of the west. Trapping and gold mining became his new occupation.

He wandered all the way to California, then back to the east towards Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. As he went, he gained a bad rap as a violent drunk and was known to be a skilled fighter.

During his travels, he met up with his friend and business partner J. X. Beidler. The two men hit it off immediately. Together they started bootlegging alcohol to Native tribes.

In the 1880’s Jeremiah quit his rough and dangerous lifestyle, opting to become a lawman around Billings Montana. At the age of 70, he retired and took one last trip to Tombstone Arizona.

On his return, he took sick and was shipped off to Los Angeles California where he spent the last year of his life. He died in January 1900.

Of Note: At this time Jeremiah had no known children.

For a more in-depth look at the life of Jeremiah Garrison Johnston check out this website dedicated to this colorful mountain man.


Now on to the storyteller Jack Johnstone.

Jack was the son of Charles Roscoe Johnstone and Dora Ida Hanna.

Charles Roscoe Johnstone was born 6 Aug 1861 in Pineville, Kentucky. He was the son of Stephen Johnson of Virginia and Abigail W Johnson of Ohio.

Charles and Dora’s first child, Forrest, was born in 1891 in Kansas. By 1892 their second child, Frank was born in Saguache Colorado.

Wyoming was the Johnstone family’s next stop. There they stayed for at least three years before moving north towards Canada.

Jack Johnstone was born in 1903 in British Columbia. Three more Johnstone children were born in Canada before the family finally settled in the small southeast Alaskan town of Ketchikan around 1915.

In conclusion, there seems to be little to no evidence of a connection between Jack Johnstone of Alaska and the infamous frontiersman Jeremiah Johnson.

Jack Johnstone’s lineage is readily available to any researcher. His father was Charles Roscoe Johnstone.

Maybe Jeremiah Johnson was an uncle of Jack some may ask? A more distant connection is not the case. 

Jack’s grandfather was Stephen Johnson who was born in 1816 in Virginia and died in 1894 in Kansas.

Stephen was born eight years before Jeremiah Garrison Johnston and in a different state. Also, we must remember that Jeremiah’s original surname was Garrison. Stephen was born with the surname of Johnson.

The closest connection the Johnstone family has with the legendary Johnston is proximity. They were living in the same area at the same time.

Steven Johnstone and his sister Ruth were born in Wyoming in 1894 and 1896. Jeremiah G Johnston was a lawman in Billings during those years. There is a possibility that they may have crossed paths or at the least, the Johnstone family heard about the already famed man.

Unless Dora, Jack’s mother, had an unknown affair with Jeremiah, who was nearing seventy years old at the time, it is highly doubtful there is a blood connection.

It is easy to see how this story became a tall tale within the Johnstone family while sitting around a campfire after a long day of work with an impressionable teenager like my father soaking in every word.

Unfortunately, this tall tale is debunked.

Do you have a family legend you would like investigated? Maybe I can help. Check out my services page for more information.


Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen


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The Line Between Bravery and Insanity


What kind of person packs-up their household (wife, kids, animals) and hacks their way into the wilderness to make a new home; a new life? There is a fine line between bravery and insanity my friend. Many of you may remember the movie The Adventures of the Wilderness Family that came out in 1975. It is a movie about a family that decides city life is slowing killing them. They pack up to start a new life somewhere in the Rockies. As a kid, I watched that movie with awe and dreams of my own. At the time, little did I know that my ancestors had lived through a similar tale except, their story was fraught with more dangers than we can possibly imagine.

Turn the clock back two hundred years before Hollywood débuted the Wilderness Family. Captain William Bean (my 6th great grandfather) and his family decided to trade in their relatively cushy life for carving out a new existence in the middle of nowhere, in the land that is now known as Tennessee. What possesses a person to do such a thing? Pat Alderman in his book The Overmountain Men gives a little insight:

Captain William Bean moved his family into the new country early in the year 1769. He built a cabin on a point between Boones Creek [Yes, named after Daniel Boone] and Watauga River, just above the mouth of the creek. Ramsey [I don’t know who this dude is] says that Bean had camped here while hunting with Boone [Daniel Boone and my 6th great granddaddy were buddies!] and was familiar with the country….William Bean was acquainted with military training of the time and held a Captain’s rank in the Virginia Militia [think Mel Gibson in The Patriot]. He was a born leader and a man of means [translation: rich]. His name appears frequently in the organization and affairs of the Watauga Association and with Washington County. Many relatives and friends from Virginia soon settled around Bean.


Captain William Bean was adventurous, daring, wealthy, enterprising and slightly nutty.  He buddied around with frontiersmen like Daniel Boone. Up until 1769 the Tennessean wilderness had seen its fair share of adventurers, but it took Capt. Bean and his daring to bring his entire family out into the sticks. They are known as the first permanent settlers of the greater area. Lucky for me, and the rest of his descendants, Capt. Bean’s adventurous lifestyle did not end in disaster.

If you would like to learn more about Captain William Bean (his wife Lydia Russell has her own badass story) and others like him, I would suggest picking up a copy of Alderman’s The Overmountain Men. It is a good read. You might even learn some of the crazy histories that shaped our nation.

Thank you for reading.

J.R. Lowe



Genealogist Journal 5th Anniversary

Recently, 25 March 2012, Genealogist Journal celebrated its 5th Anniversary. How to commemorate the milestone? After careful thought, I decided to repost the first article. It featured a biography sketch of my third great grandfather put out by Dartmouth College.

Before we get to the first original posting, I want to thank all my readers and found family members for their support. I have enjoyed sharing my genealogical research with all of you and look forward to the next five years.


My third great grandfather was David Pinkerton, JR. He was an alumni of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire; class of 1841. While researching, I came across a biography sketch of David. Here is what it says:

David Pinkerton, the son of David and Susannah (Griffin) Pinkerton, was born at Landaff, Nov. 3, 1814. He studied divinity at And. Theo. Seem. Graduating in 1844; was ordained? Preached at Elkhorn, Salem, Two Rivers, Waupun, Fond Du Lac Co. and Maple Grove, all in Wise and now lives at Waupun without a charge. He married Ann, dau of Alfred Hitchcock of Vergennes, Vt at Galesburg, Illi. Oct. 27, 1845.


Thank you for reading,

J.R. Lowe

Mary Ann Hitchcock



Mary Ann Hitchcock was an amazing woman. She was the mother of nine children and the wife of a circuit preacher who showed a tenacity and grit to rival any man. I have the privilege of being her third great granddaughter. In the picture, Mary Ann is holding her grandson William Douglass Pinkerton, Sr.

Mary Ann Hitchcock was born 17 Jun 1824 in Vergennes, Addison County, Vermont to Alfred Hitchcock and Sarah Warner Stevens. Mary’s father died in 1830 when she was only six years old. She was the youngest of seven children. Soon after the passing of her father, the Stevens family went on a long journey that landed them in Galesburg, Illinois. It was in Galesburg, on 27 October 1845 at the age of twenty-one, Mary Ann married David Pinkerton; a native of New Hampshire.

His ministry took them from Illinois to Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas and into Minnesota. In Iowa, two of her teenage sons drowned while swimming in the Iowa River on a hot summer day. Mary Ann’s eldest daughter, Mary Elizabeth, traveled to Africa as a missionary. After Mary Elizabeth’s return to America, she married a preacher and moved to Minnesota. Mary Ann, widowed in 1886, went to live in Minnesota with her missionary daughter. There she stayed for twenty-two years until she passed away in 1908 at the age of 84. Her body was taken back to Grinnell, Iowa to be buried along side the two sons she had lost.

Thank you for reading,

J.R. Lowe

My Life’s Story: Chapter 1


My Life’s Story

By Eleanor Bowen


Chapter 1: My Story

My father’s name is Caleb Grant Van Dusen. He was born December 19, 1867 in Indiana. His parents were Elijah and Martha Rennels Van Dusen. He was raised on a farm. When he was about ten years old, the family moved to Stuttgart Arkansas where his father bought a farm at the edge of town. There were four children; Scott and Caleb; two sisters, Polly and Rebecca, both who died young. My father was in the creamery business for several years. When his father died, the farm was sold and the proceeds, plus cash were divided between my father and his brother Scott. Father put his share into a restaurant, but he soon lost everything. When his brother offered to get him a job in the creamery in Hot Springs where he was working, he accepted and we moved to there about the first 1913.

The meaning of the Van attached to our name, according to Webster’s Dictionary is that it identifies the part of Holland that we came from, but legend says it means that we are in some way related to the House of Orange, so, you can take your choice. Dusen is supposed to be our last name, but we combine the Van and the Dusen and capitalize the V and the D. Father is a third generation from the old country on his father’s side, I don’t know much about his mother’s side of the family, except that they come from England.

Later in life, Father became a carpenter. He taught me a lot about carpentering and repairing of furniture.

My mother’s name was Mary Ellen Barrett. She was born in Coffeyville, Kansas, September 30, 1881. Her parents were George and Lydia Melvina Halstead Barrett. The family moved to southern Nebraska while she was still a baby. When she was thirteen years old, they moved to Arkansas and rented a farm near Carlisle. She was raised on a farm. She was a second generation from England on her father’s side of the family. Her father came from England when he was nineteen years old. A plantation owner, by the name of Barrett, sponsored him. He had to work for him three years without pay and during that time he was taught to read and write by Mrs. Barrett. His name was originally Green, but when he decided to stay, he took the name of Barrett. In some way it made it easier for him to become a citizen of the United States. Mother was a third generation from Scotland on her mother’s side of the family.

On January 15, 1899, she married my father in her home. Afterwards she went with him to Stuttgart to live on the Van Dusen farm. Later she moved with him to Hot Springs. Her only claim to something other housewife was her part in supplying recipes for a local cookbook. And Marksman with a gun.

I have two brothers. There is Charles Grant Van Dusen, who was born at home in Stuttgart on November 17, 1905. There was my brother, Harry Scott, who was born at home in Stuttgart on December 23, 1912. He died September 22, 1923 at Durango, Colorado in the Mercy Hospital of gangrene which was due to a ruptured appendix.

I am Eleanor Erma Van Dusen. I was born September 11, 1910, at home, in Stuttgart Arkansas. I lived at times on a farm and other times I lived in town. In Hot Springs, Father worked in the creamery until he became ill with TB. Mother, then, took in boarders and baked bread for sale until she too contracted TB and was soon unable to do much of anything.

I remember the following:

We would lay nails in different positions on the tracks of the street car. When the wheels passed over them, they became fused together in the forms of scissors, knives and etc.

Childhood diseases were a big part of my life the first year that I lived in Hot Springs. I had measles, Chicken Pox, and a bad case of malaria fever.

I lived to watch the children that were old enough, roller skate up and down the sidewalk on the hill from our street to Whittington Avenue. The sidewalk would have four steps, then a length of ramp and then four more steps up to the higher street.

We would have an especially good time when the family went to the park to see the ostriches and the alligators and bears. An attendant, who sold little alligators for pets would fasten their mouths onto his fingers while he dangled them in the air.

One pleasure was when I would walk, barefoot, down the street when it was muddy and I would squish the mud between my toes on my way to a neighbor’s yard to pick and eat sweet ripe cherries and plums off her tree near the fence.

Often, I was allowed to play with a doll almost as large as I was. It belonged to Mrs. Needham who lived next door to us. She dressed it sometimes as a sailor boy and at other times as a Buster Brown doll, which it originally had been.

I remember fighting with my cousin Helen, who was older than I. I could get away from her by slipping through a hole in our fence to play with a little girl my age, because Helen was not allowed to leave the yard at any time.

Mother and Father became so ill and poor that there was very little to eat. When my Grandfather learned how ill my mother had become, he sent the money for her and the three of us to come live with him in New Mexico. We left father in Hot Springs, because he was too ill to travel and Uncle Scott promised to look after him.

In January 1915, we boarded the train for New Mexico.


Chapter One Notes: In this first chapter, there are a few issues that need to be addressed. First, Eleanor was told that her father was a third generation from the “old country” on his father’s side. This is not exactly true; it is, but it isn’t. Her paternal grandfather was Elijah Van Dusen son of Jacob Van Dusen of Dutch descent. Jacob Van Dusen was born in New York State, where the American branch of the Van Dusen family have thrived since the 1620’s. So for them, New York would have been the “old country”, not the Netherlands.

Another part of this narrative that is more from the realm of fiction than fact, is the story of Eleanor’s maternal grandfather, George Barrett. He did come from England when he was nineteen, but the rest of the story she tells is not true. His original surname was not Green, as she states, it was Barrett. As for the plantation owner, there is no evidence to support the existence of such characters. Eleanor fails to mention George Barrett’s first wife, who happens to be Lydia Halstead’s (George’s second wife) mother, Rachel McIntyre. It may very well be that Eleanor did not know about her great grandmother. It is not clear from whom Eleanor learned the story of her family from, but I do have a few theories as to why she was told a story clearly divergent from the truth.


Check back for Chapter 2.


Thank you for reading,

J. R. Findsen

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