Was Written In 1992 with subsequent updates as indicated)
When one begins ancestor searching, starting with one’s name is
mandatory. The name is one’s personal possession. In terms of history, your
name is a fingerprint, perhaps the first clue as to whom you are.
As a child with 13 brothers and sisters and over 50
nephews and nieces, I somehow had the belief that we were unique by having a
name no one else had. After all, how many times have you heard the name
PURCHASE mentioned on television? Even as I got older and heard that there
might be others sharing the name I still somehow felt that there just could
not be that many.
To prove myself right, I put my daughter, Jennifer,
to work searching the local library for names and addresses of nonrelated
PURCHASE families. I assured her that this project would not take very long
to do. However, to my surprise, it took several days to complete, and she was
able to compile a list of over 100 nonrelated PURCHASE families representing
almost every major city in the United States. Not only was I surprised, but I was
also little disappointed. Indeed, we were not that unique and certainly not
It soon became quite clear to me that this job of
“ancestor hunting” would not be that easy. My job would be to find my
ancestors and their descendants amongst all of the nonrelated families I
surely would come across.
The book Fifty Puritan Families written by Nash,
gives us possibly our first account of a PURCHASE family’s arrival in this
country. The book lists John Purchase, a soldier in the Pequot War, and his
wife Jane who were both born in England and who settled in Hartford,
Connecticut in 1639. The book further states that they were located in the
northwestern part of the village of Hartford in 1640.
My search did not place John and Jane Purchase of
Hartford in our family history.
AVAILABLE GENEALOGY MATERIAL:
A great deal of research material is available to assist a novice
genealogist like myself. Several books on the subject of genealogy were quite
helpful in my search for ancestors.
Census records, both here in the United States and
in England, were a great source of genealogy material. Since the census has
been taken every ten years since 1790 in the United States, and since 1841 in
England, it was a primary source for providing me with names of individuals,
their relationships to each other and their ages. The entire record of the
1890 U.S. Census was destroyed many years ago by a fire in Washington, D.C.
Therefore, it was not available to me.
Passenger lists of ships arriving from foreign
countries since the early 1800s were also reviewed by me, but they were not as
helpful as census records. Not many of the ship lists survived from the
1800s, but for the few that did, I found a number of PURCHASE families who
arrived in America on a regular basis. Most were from England, but there were
a few from other countries. As an example, on one list I found a Joseph
Purchase, his wife and four children arriving from England aboard the ship,
the “Abby Pratt”. They docked at the port of New Orleans, Louisiana on
4/2/1849. I was searching for a George Richard Purchase (my paternal
Grandfather) and his family, but had no such luck. Even though I did not
realize it at the time, I would see this Joseph Purchase and his family again
and they would play a very important role in my search for ancestors.
County court house records in Kentucky and Illinois
were quite valuable in my search. I reviewed tax lists, acquired birth,
death, and marriage records and picked the minds of several County clerks for
I also made extensive use of several genealogy
OAK GROVE CEMETERY; PADUCAH, KY:
From oral family history I learned that my paternal Grandfather, George
Richard Purchase, came from Somersetshire (County) England in the mid 1800s
and settled in Paducah, Kentucky. So, I started my search there. First, I
contacted the McCracken County Clerk’s Office in Paducah, Kentucky. The
County Clerk suggested that I start my search at the Oak Grove Cemetery; it is
the largest and oldest cemetery in the county. Her suggestion brought me
success. I found that my grandfather was indeed buried there and that he died
in October of 1901 at the age of 71. I also found that several members of his
family were also buried next to him in the same family plot.
PURCHASE, Mary Ann died 1883
PURCHASE, James W. died 1887
PURCHASE, George R. died 10/1901
EAKER, Mary Ann (Purchase) died 4/04/1928
PURCHASE, Mary Ann died 11/17/1932
James and Joseph were my Grandfather’s sons from his first marriage. The
“Mary A.” who died in 1883 was his first wife. To find out whom the other two
“Mary’s” were, I had to acquire their death certificates. The “Mary A.
(Purchase) Eaker” is George Richard’s only daughter from his first marriage.
The death certificate of “Mary A.”, who died in 1932, indicates she was the
widow of Joseph Purchase, George’s youngest son from his first marriage.
GEORGE R. PURCHASE OF PADUCAH, KENTUCKY:
Now, with the confirmation that George Richard Purchase had resided in
Paducah, Kentucky, I decided my next step would be check the U.S. Federal
Census records to learn more about him and his family.
Firs, I searched the 1850 Census for McCracken
County, but did not find a George Richard Purchase. However, in the 1860
Census I did find George, his wife Mary, and their 3 children - James W.,
Joseph A., and Mary. – residing in McCracken County, Kentucky, somewhere close
to Paducah. George owned his farm and was listed as a farmer. All of his
children were born in Kentucky, and the oldest child, James W., was born in
1856. Since I was unable to find George in the 1850 Census, I thus concluded
that George and Mary arrived in America between 1850 and 1856.
With further research, I was successful in acquiring
a marriage certificate for George and Mary from Somersetshire (County)
England, the town of Haselbury-Plucknett, which listed the marriage date as
December 1850. Also, through the use of the Church of the Latter Day Saints’
(LDS) Genealogy Library I was able to view microfilm copies of the 1851
England Census. In reviewing the Census from Somersetshire (County), England,
which was taken in the spring of 1851, I found George, age 20, and Mary age
21. Therefore, I further conclude that George and Mary arrived in the United
States and Paducah, Kentucky following the spring of 1851, and before their
first child was born in 1856.
However, being a stickler for detail, I still felt a
need for a more precise date as to George and Mary’s arrival in the U.S. I
was unsuccessful in locating immigration and naturalization (citizenship)
papers and also unsuccessful in locating the two in the few available foreign
ship passenger lists.
I was more successful in viewing the McCracken
County, Kentucky property tax lists. In the 1850 to 1853 Tax Books for
Paducah, Kentucky I found George Purchase beginning with property tax year
1853. If property taxes were paid then as they are now, after the year is
over, then it is quite likely they arrived in Paducah, Kentucky sometime
between the spring of 1851 and the start of the 1852 property tax year.
JOSEPH PURCHASE AND FAMILY:
As I found out, the element of surprise is never far away in genealogy.
During my search of U.S. Census records to locate George Richard Purchase and
family, the 1860 Census presented me with an unexpected surprise. There on
the census list for Paducah, Kentucky was another PURCHASE family. No one in
my family had ever heard of these Purchase in Paducah, Kentucky. Who were
they, and where did they come from? Listed was a Joseph Purchase, age 54,
with his wife Mary and their 4 children. The census indicated the entire
family was born in England. I also found Joseph listed with his family prior
to the 1850 Census. I then remembered that this Joseph Purchase was the same
Joseph Purchase I had previously come across in my search of ship passenger
lists. Joseph and his family arrived in this country from England on
4/02/1849 through the port of New Orleans.
Although I could not determine the relationship
between my Grandfather George and this newly discovered Joseph Purchase, I had
to believe they were somehow related. I could not agree that chance brought
two nonrelated PURCHASE families to Paducah, Kentucky at about the same time.
Obviously, I needed to find out exactly how they were related.
Also, I felt the more I could find out about Joseph
Purchase and family, the more I would learn about my Grandfather and his
THE LDS LIBRARY AND JOSEPH PURCHASE:
While reviewing records at the Church of the Latter Day Saints’ (LDS)
Genealogy Library, I came across Joseph, again.
From a suggestion of a friend, I made a visit to the
local branch of the LDS Genealogy Library in Indianapolis, Indiana. The main
library of the church is located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Genealogy is a
vital activity of the LDS (Mormon) Church, and I hoped that the LDS Library
could assist in my search for English ancestors.
Thousands of family histories have been submitted to
the LDS Church for religious purposes. I hoped that at least one of those
histories would be that of a Purchase family. To my surprise, not only was
there a PURCHASE family history, the family was from Paducah, Kentucky. Also,
their cemetery records were available with the history.
All family histories are listed alphabetically on a
microfiche index. The index provides the appropriate reference numbers to
order the histories from the main library in Salt Lake City, Utah. It took
about one week to receive the history. However, the records were not that of
my Grandfather, George, but rather that of Joseph Purchase and his family.
Also, the cemetery records indicated Joseph and his family were buried in a
private family cemetery located on the original farm of Joseph Purchase in
In this LDS PURCHASE history, Joseph is listed with
his 12 brothers and sisters. One brother is a James Purchase, born September
2, 1804 in Somersetshire (County), the town of Haselbury-Plucknett, England.
The marriage certificate received from England for my Grandfather George and
his wife Mary (Cleal) indicates his father to be JAMES PURCHASE. Could this
James Purchase be the same James listed on the LDS PURCHASE history, born
9/02/1804? It is a possibility, but more evidence would be needed. After
all, James was a commonly used name in England during the 1800s.
GENEALOGIST IN ENGLAND:
After several unsuccessful attempts at trying to locate information
directly from the Somersetshire (County) Archives in England, I found it
necessary to acquire the assistance of a professional genealogist. I
indicated to her what evidence I required, and several weeks later I received
the results of her research. She did find James Purchase, born 9/02/1804,
married to an Elizabeth Rendell, born 4/27/1809. They were married on
4/15/1830. she was unable to find a birth certificate for George Richard
Purchase to prove conclusively that James and Elizabeth Purchase were indeed
his parents. However, she concluded that the overwhelming evidence suggested
they were. I was not so convinced and I wrote and told her this. From what
little I have learned about genealogy research, all conclusions should be
based on facts from two or more separate sources. She was not pleased with my
criticism and wrote and told me so. She remained with her conclusion that
James and Elizabeth Purchase from Haselbury-Plucknett, England were my Great
Grandparents based purely on the fact that she could not find any other James
Purchase residing in the town during the years involved.
Even though I had doubts about her conclusion, I did
however, locate an Elizabeth Purchase with family in the 1841 Census of
Haselbury-Plucknett, England. Elizabeth is shown to be about the age of 30,
with 4 children, - George age 10, John age 6, Thomas age 4, and William age
1. The father’s name is listed at the bottom of the prior page, which appears
to be an abbreviation for JAMES, which I could not be certain of.
Therefore, all evidence leads me to believe that
James and Elizabeth (Rendell) Purchase shown in the history that I acquired
from the church of the Latter Day Saints are my paternal Great Grandparents.
However, I must admit that without a birth certificate for my Grandfather, we
may never know for sure.
GEORGE RICHARD AND MARY JANE:
From one 10 year Census to the next, changes in the families appeared
quite predictable. In one census a child would be found at home with family,
and 10 years later the census would show that same individual married with a
family of his/her own; this was the case with Joseph Purchase and his family.
However, I was not as successful in predicting the life of my Grandfather,
George Richard Purchase, and his family from census to the next. As an
example, it appears from the census that George’s children did not marry nor
have any children themselves. However, I was later able to determine from
other sources that his youngest child Joseph did have a wife name Mary A., and
they are both buried together with the rest of the family at the Oak Grove
Cemetery in Paducah, Kentucky. It appears from all records available to me
that Joseph and Mary did not have any children.
From the 1880 Census to the next available census of
1900 (the 1890 Census for all states was destroyed by fire in Washington,
D.C.) I found a dramatic change in George’s life. The 1880 Census listed
George, his wife Mary and their 18 year old daughter, Mary Ann, residing at
the family farm. Twenty years later in 1900, the census listed George, now
age 70, with a new wife, (also named Mary), age 35, and 4 new children;
George, John, Bertha, and James W. During that 20 year period, George
acquired a new wife and started a new family. But, what happened to his first
I later found out that George’s first wife died on
3/04/1883, and 4 years later he married my Grandmother, Mary Jane Ellis.
I obtained from the McCracken County Court House a
copy of the marriage certificate for George and his new wife, Mary Jane.
(Eventually she would become my Grandmother.) They were married on
12/27/1887. The James W., listed in the 1900 Census as their youngest child,
would some day become my father. He was born on 1/05/1900.
Of course, from word of mouth, I knew that my
Grandfather’s marriage to my Grandmother was not his first, and I also knew
that he was 35 years older than she. However, we were not aware that my
Grandmother had a prior marriage. My Grandmother’s maiden name was ELLIS, but
the marriage license indicates that she also had a previous marriage and her
name was listed as Mary Jane Stacy.
Along with the marriage certificate was a marriage
bond which states that George was required to pay William Ellis, Mary Jane’s
father, the sum of $100 to marry his daughter - a hefty sum for 1887.
Although from what I’ve heard of my Grandmother (she was called "Gran Gran” by
all of the Grandchildren) the marriage bond should have been even higher,
because she was an industrious, kind and loving woman.
The census records presented me with several other surprises or rather
mysteries. From the 1850 Census to the 1880 Census I found only George
Richard Purchase and Joseph Purchase and their families. However, in the 1900
Census I found a Jac Purchase, his wife Mary, and their 3 children; Clara,
Lena, and James W. In the 1910 Census I found a Ben Purchase, age 77, and
wife Mary, age 73.
The biggest mystery of all is not being able to
locate anyone in Kentucky at the present with the PURCHASE name. I searched
property tax records at the court house in McCracken County and all adjacent
counties. I did not find a PURCHASE owning property or paying property taxes
in 1992. Where did they all go? Did the girls get married, ending the name,
or did all of them leave the state for parts unknown? Well, perhaps the
answer is both of the above.
Another item from the census, which I found more
interesting than surprising, was that in the 1880 Census of Ballard County,
Kentucky (a county in close proximity to McCracken county) I found a Molinda
Purchase and her four children. Molinda was listed as a servant in the home
William Apperson. What was interesting about this family was that the census
listed their race as Black. Blacks first appeared in the Census of 1870.
Molinda and her children were not found in the 1870 Census, nor did I find her
in any subsequent census records. I wonder where she and her family went?
Perhaps she married; and if so, with a change in name I wouldn’t be able to
I also found Purchases listed as Black in the 1910
Census of Pulaski county, Illinois. There was a Thomas Purchase and his wife
Jennie. An Annie Purchase, age 5, who lived with Oscar and Ella Hagler. An
Edna Purchase, age 23, who had a 3 year old boy name Lorenzo. I did not find
any of these individuals in the census prior to 1910. Where did they go?
Perhaps the 1920 Census, which will be made available in 1993, will provide us
with some answers.
I sent letters to all of the nonrelated Purchases that my daughter
Jennifer had located during her library research; I was searching for
descendants of the Purchase families from Paducah, Kentucky. I wrote to more
than a hundred families, but received only 5 responses. None of the 5 claimed
a relationship to the families from Paducah.
However, of the 5 letters I received the one from
Claude Purchase of Tonawanda, New York was a surprise. In response to my
letter, Claude sent me a brief history of his family from England. His Great
Grandfather was Edward Purchase from Somersetshire, Haselbury-Plucknett,
England. Claude stated in his letter that Edward was born in 1792, and was
buried in a church cemetery in Haselbury-Plucknett. Claude arrived in the
U.S. in 1946. The 1841 Census of England shows Edward Purchase, his wife
Hannah, and their children just as Claude stated in his letter.
This Edward Purchase is obviously the same Edward
Purchase listed in the LDS PURCHASE history. Not only are they from the same
town in England, their dates of birth are the same.
Another interesting aspect of Claude’s letter is the
date of death of his Great Grandfather Edward on 2/26/1874. My sister, Lois,
gave me a postcard that my Grandfather George had sent from New York City in
1874, before he boarded a ship to England. The postcard indicates he expected
to reach Liverpool, England on January 27, 1874. If Edward indeed was his
uncle, then returning to England because Edward was ill and possibly dying
could explain the postcard and trip home to England.
THE RIVER BOAT DISASTER:
Most family oral history can be supported in whole or in part through
various documents such as birth and marriage certificates. However, the story
of the river boat disaster on the Ohio or Mississippi Rivers may remain a
My father told me the story of his Grandparents who
arrived in the Unites States from England only to die on a river boat as it
made its way up the river to its final destination of Paducah, Kentucky. The
boat sank from some type of unspecified disaster, possibly a boiler fire.
It seems that his father, George Richard Purchase,
remained in England to sell family owned property. When he finally arrived in
the United States he was then told of his parents’ death.
I reviewed various records both here in the United
States and in England and was not successful. However, I was not that
surprised since I had very little to go on. There were many, possibly several
hundred, river boat disasters along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers throughout
the 1800’s, and the available literature that lists the names of casualties
does not indicate any with name of Purchase.
I do believe the story is based on a true incident.
However, there is that possibility some parts of the story might have been
modified over the years making it just that much more difficult to verify.
MARY AND JOHN BENNETT:
George Richard Purchase died in October 1901 and was buried at the Oak
Grove Cemetery with his first family. In 1903 my paternal Grandmother decided
to marry John Bennett of Paducah, Kentucky. To do so, she had leave Paducah
because the laws of Kentucky did not permit marriage between the races. Her
husband to be, John Bennett, was Black.
Mary and her three sons, - George, Johnny, and James
(her daughter, Bertha, remained in Paducah with relatives who were her
godparents) moved to Cairo, Illinois. Interracial marriages were permissible
Mary and John were married in Cairo in 1903. In
1904 they had a child; a daughter named Edna. Mary, John and the children
lived in Cairo for about ten years. They moved to Future city, Illinois
around 1913. Future city was a rural predominately Black community located
outside of Cairo’s city limits.
During the Depression Mary and John Bennett moved to
Klondike, Illinois where they farmed and raised hogs for a butcher named Joe
Mulham, in Cairo. In the spring of 1932, while butchering a large hog, John
met with a serious accident; when the crew was lifting a large hog, the pulley
snapped and John fell into a large kettle of scalding water. He died several
months later on July 7, 1932.
After John’s death, my Grandmother retired and moved
back to Cairo. In 1948 she went to Mexico, Missouri to live with her
daughter, Edna and son-in-law, Hardy Pierce. She died on April 29, 1949 in
Mexico, Missouri, but was returned to Cairo for burial next to her husband,
John Bennett, in the Beech Grove Cemetery, of Mounds, Illinois.
MARY (PURCHASE) BENNETT’S CHILDREN:
George Purchase Jr. entered the U.S. Army in 1919. After discharge, he
became ill (suffering from war nerves) and, unfortunately, spent the remainder
of his life at the V.A. Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois. He died on
10/06/1959 at the V.A. Hospital in Danville, Illinois and was buried in the
V.A. Cemetery on the hospital grounds.
John Purchase left home when he was 17 years old.
He corresponded with my Grandmother for about 20 years, but never returned to
Cairo. I could not find any trace of him through military records or Social
Security records. I believe he might have died at a young age. Surely, he
would have stayed in contact with his family in Cairo, and eventually filed
for a Social Security card. Some say he might have changed his name to Johnny
Bennett, after his Step-father. I could not find a Social Security record on
this name either.
Bertha married Alonzo (Lonnie) Hutchison of Paducah,
Kentucky; they had four children. She died in her early thirties. Following
Bertha’s death, her family did not keep in touch with my Grandmother nor my
father. Through my research I learned from a relative of Lonnie’s, who now
reside in Lone Oak, Kentucky, that Bertha’s children are living in the area of
St. Louis, Missouri. I was not successful in my attempt to locate them there.
2011 History Update
In 2011 I continued my research of Bertha (Purchase) Hutchison. With
the use of the "Internet", a great deal more information is now available to
me for review. In my new research I was able to locate a death
certificate for Bertha, my father's sister. She died a lingering death
from an accidental injury received July 27, 1928. My sister Lois
(Purchase) Howard stated that she had heard as a child that Bertha died from
an injury while pumping water. Apparently, the handle of the pump
popped up and hit her in the stomach. If you have ever used a "hand
pump", you would understand just how this could occur. She was
pregnant at the time. She died several days later on August 2, 1928 of
a "hemorrhage", as indicated by the death certificated.
She died in Paducah, KY and was buried on August 3, 1928 in the "Wyatt"
cemetery. Her husband, Alonzo Hutchison, signed the death certificate
as the "informant". As of today, I have not been able to locate the
Wyatt Cemetery, which I was informed by those living in Paducah, KY that it
could be one of many private cemeteries locate there.
Also, during my recent research I reviewed the "Kentucky Birth Index -
1911-1999". I found birth information on Bertha's children. She
actually had six children rather than four previously believed; they are
Jennelk, William C., Kathleen, Robert L., Charles E., and Clarence G.
With this new information about her children, I again tried to locate family
members of Alonzo Hutchison in Paducah, KY. Even though there were
many in the Paducah telephone directory with the name "Hutchison", not one,
however, indicated a
relationship to Alonzo.
One of her children, Charles E. Hutchison, died in "1999" in Danville City,
Virginia. I found only one working telephone number of a "Hutchison"
in Danville. He stated he was not related.
In another index, I found Clarence G. Hutchison, another child of Bertha's,
once living in Owensboro, KY. Again, I was unsuccessful in locating a
family member in Owensboro.
Further review of Kentucky state records indicated Alonzo was born "about
1894" and died August 16, 1965 in McCracken Co., KY.
Edna married Lee Cook of Future City, Illinois in
1919; they had three children; - Dorothy, William, and Charles.
Subsequently, she was divorced and remarried; there
were no children from her later marriages. She is now a widow and lives in
Los Angeles, California.
Dorothy married Charles Harris of Cairo, Illinois.
They had 2 children. Dorothy died in the early 1940’s and is buried in the
Bennett’s family plot at Mounds, Illinois.
William lives in Los Angeles, California and Charles
lives in Cresthill, Illinois.
James, my father, married Berthen Ellen Spurlock,
my mother, on 7/01/1918. They had 15 children and with the exception of their
second child, Geraldine, who was born in South Bend, Indiana, all were born in
In 1953 my parents and their six youngest children
moved to Paw Paw, Michigan. We lived there for 13 years. When my father
retired in 1966, my parents and I moved back to Future City, Illinois.
Both of my parents are now dead. My mother, Berthen,
died at their home in Future City, IL in August, 1978. My father, James, died ten
years later in 1988 at a nursing home in Cincinnati, Ohio where he had been in
residence for about two years. My parents are buried side by side at the
Greenlawn Cemetery in Villa Ridge, Illinois.