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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Google Books and Genealogy -- Will of John Colver III

Genealogy and Google Books (a little graphic I made)
Rather than working on my paper for Symposium (which btw is titled, "Witness, Mercy, and Life Together in the first five fathers of the Missouri Synod"), I have been doing genealogy research on my family. Years ago my grandfather got me interested in the Collver family. Ever since then, it has been an on and off hobby. One of my great discoveries was the use of Google Books for genealogy. While I have used Google Books for scholarly papers, I never really considered using it for genealogy. Google scanned in all sorts of public documents, including wills, court records, local histories, et al. It is amazing what can be found online. Just a few years ago, quite a lot of research and hunting in indexes would need to be done just to find a book. Then you would have to obtain the book or a copy of the page, perhaps even traveling great distances to see a book that might only have a few lines or a sentence that was needed.

For instance, while researching John Colver III on an Ancestry.Com message board, someone posted there was a "will of John Colver." The person did not post the will because the information was obtained third hand and was considered unverified. The person sent me enough information that I did a search in Google Books for New Jersey, Wills, Colver. Google search produced: Calendar of New Jersey wills, administrations, etc, Volume 30, page 105, the will of John Colver.

Excerpt of Calendar of New Jersey Wills, "Colver John"

1732, Dec. 2. Colver (Cower), John, of the Blackriver, Hunterdon Co., "cordwinder, being sick"" will of. Wife, Freelove. Eldest son, John Collwer; son, Jabsh Coulver. Expected child. Residue of estate to wife, "in this colleny or att nwinglend" (New England). Wife, executrix. Witnesses -- Seth Smith, Leaddy Collver and John Beil. Proved August 20, 1733. Lib. 3. p. 368.
Inventory, without date, ₤95.11.0; including beaver hat, felt hat and Bible. Made by David Collver and John Bell.

The "expected" child's name was Jonas born in 1733. Since the will was executed by August 1733, it is quite possible that John never saw his newborn son. This John Colver III was not living with the rest of his Puritan/Rogerene/Colverite family on Schooleys Mountain, New Jersey. This fact has caused speculation that he did not agree with the religious practices of his father. In any case for my genealogical history, the significant son of John Colver III was Jabez (spelled Jabsh in the will). Jabez later became Rev. Jabez Collver in 1760. He was a Presbyterian minister, one of the first in Ontario, Canada. He also changed the spelling of Colver to Collver in Canada. So if a "Collver" has his name spelled "Colver," he originated on the East Coast. As those "Colvers" migrated West, the spelling got changed to Culver -- hence, Culver City, California. If the name is spelled, "Collver" he is probably from the Canadian branch of the Collvers and somehow related to Jabez. At least, this is my best guess now on the variations in spelling Collver.

As for Jabez, many interesting things found in Google Books... perhaps another day.