For the past several days I have been going through a lot of stuff trying to figure out what to write next about Timothy Demonbreun. However, putting all of the information together is kind of difficult. There is the problem of trying to separate fact from fiction, along with having to accept some things as definite fact, even though I cannot see the documentation (I am assuming that others who have written about him have seen it, so that’s where trust comes in on matters such as that). There are so many fantastic stories about Timothy’s life, and I will share them all…along with letting my readers know which stories I do not have sources for and what stories have been passed down through the Demonbreun descendants for about two centuries now (my hope, as always, is that someone will present a source, a document, anything!). I do, however, want to point out that most stories started somehow. Here are a few family stories I have heard about my ancestors, either stories passed down or stories I have read online…along with the facts:
1. Lore: Spencer DeMumbrie was from France. Fact: Spencer DeMumbrie was born in Tennessee. This one is kind of amusing because I can only speculate as to where this story came from. On the death certificate for Minnie DeMumbrie, Spencer’s daughter, it has him as having been born in France. Since Minnie’s son was the informant I can only assume that Minnie had told people her father was French, rather than descended from French-Canadians. My Granddaddy even referred to her as his “French grandmother” (even though, in reality, he could have called both grandmothers French…his other grandmother Annie Bondurant was descended from the French Huguenot Jean Pierre Bondurant).
2. Lore: James Anderson Proctor’s first wife Paralee was a gypsy. Fact: James Anderson Proctor, the husband of my 3rd great-grandmother Amanda Summers, was married first to a woman named Paralee. However, when I found the marriage record I also found that Paralee’s full maiden name was Delilah Paralee Duffel. This means that Paralee was Amanda’s aunt through her mother Emily Jane Duffel. And now, if anyone ever decides to start searching for Paralee again (I think everyone kind of gave up trying to find her when she “disappeared” after the 1850 census), they will now know what happened to her. And it also answers everyone’s question as to where JA’s wife came from (because no one could figure out her maiden name, I guess).
3. Lore: The Para family had their surname changed to Para when they arrived at Ellis Island from Italy. Fact: That never happened. What is known is that if their name was changed once they arrived in America, they would have done it themselves, and it would have been well after they arrived. And there is still no proof that it was ever anything different. Prior to boarding the ship in Italy their information and documentation would have been checked by Italian officials. Once they arrived they would have had to present the documentation to officials that were either from Italy themselves, or fluent in Italian. The records and names would have to match up, otherwise they wouldn’t be permitted to enter the country. When filing for citizenship they would have had the option to change their last name if they so chose. So far, I know they wouldn’t have come through Ellis Island, anyway. The patriarch of the family Giacomo Para (Anglicized to Jacob Para) arrived in America about 1876 or 1877, sixteen or seventeen years prior to the opening of Ellis Island. Before that he would have arrived through Castle Gardens in New York, if that’s even where he entered the country. There is no record of him at Castle Gardens, either. So there is no telling what location he came through. I haven’t found his wife and children yet, either. So back to the name: If the surname was changed then I don’t have a clue what it was originally. And apparently no one else does, either. While I did find record of a Giacomo Para entering through California, he was much too young, he immigrated much too late and he stayed in California.
4. Lore: Elizabeth Bennett was 115/116 years of age when she died. Fact: Um, no one really knows the truth here. She is another mystery that everyone hopes to someday unravel. She will be getting her own post, but you will meet her soon anyway, as she is a key player in the story of Timothy Demonbreun. Anyway, if you are to believe her headstone, erected by her son Jean Baptiste, she was born July 24, 1740 and died February 7, 1856. In 1850 she claimed her age as 105, putting her birth year about 1745. However, she gave birth to her last child in 1795, making her age at this birth either 50 or 55. Sigh. I’m not saying it’s impossible. Just improbable
5. Lore: There really is no lore for this particular example, about Elizabeth Freeland. Just a jumble of information about her. Fact: In 1850, the first time Elizabeth shows up on a census record, Elizabeth is shown as being 37 years of age, born about 1813 in Alabama. In 1860, however, she is 56 years of age, having been born in 1804 in Louisiana. I do know that she married Peter McQueen in 1820 in Louisiana, so I greatly doubt she was born in 1813. I mean, her first child Louisa was born in 1821, which would have meant that Elizabeth was a mere 8-years-old. Unfortunately, her marriage records to Peter McQueen and Claiborn Perry don’t mention her age, or her place of birth, for that matter. I know her brother was residing in Alabama when he died, but he also had land in Mississippi (which is where she was living when she divorced Peter and married Claiborn).
These are just a few examples of family stories and misinformation. I just felt it was important to get this out there prior to continuing Timothy Demonbreun’s story. Because, as you’ll see, his life was pretty wacky.