Sunday, October 12, 2014

From the Highlands of Scotland: The Calder Family

One of the greatest challenges in genealogy research is mis-information, whether it be by mistake, misinterpretation, failing memories or inaccurate family legends.  Sorting through those issues along with the sparsity of records in some cases can plague research efforts.  As in any research project, proof of theory or history relies on the ability to replicate results based on the information that you document.  In the case of the Calder Family all of these challenges have been and are still present.   

Initially the prime source of research into finding the root of our family’s Scottish connection was an interview my father conducted with his uncle Robert L. Lake (Uncle Bob).   Bob believed that the Lake family actually immigrated to the United States from directly from Scotland,  the patriarch of the new “American Clan”  being Angus Loch.  

Angus, according to Bob, changed the family name from Loch to Lake when he immigrated, and settled in New York State. Many attempts were made to locate a record of Angus, searches of record repositories in New York both manually and via computer, cemeteries and cemetery records, but no evidence was found. After years of research it is clear that Angus does not exist in the context of our Lake Family.

During the interview, a thread was developed identifying Bob’s grandmother’s line,  the Calder Family,  which has proven to be our true connection to Scotland.  With the Angus Loch avenue exhausted, the Calder Family became the focus;  Bob said that the Calders came to the United States directly from Scotland, and that his grandmother, Crista Cawdor was 3 years old when she arrived in New York.  Crista had 4 sisters; Elizabeth, Janet, Charlotte and Nina, and the family name had been changed from Cawdor to Calder  to “Americanize” it.  

Of the 4 sisters only two of them, other than Crista had families known to Bob; the oldest sister, Elizabeth Agnes Calder married James J. Smith of Gouverneur, New York about 1865, and they raised a family of  6 and lived out their lives in Gouverneur.  The youngest sister, Nina Calder married Charles Fry about 1873; they had one child, Ella Mae Fry, but the marriage ended in divorce. Nina then married Henry Quackenbush who died in 1883. Nina had 2 children with Henry,  Peter Emmett and Clara Quackenbush.    Bob had no information with regard to Janet or Charlotte other than that Janet married a man named Morgan.  No records have been found to substantiate that as of this writing.

So you would think that with all of that information the mystery would be solved right?  Our ancestors from Scotland arrived in New York, connected with the Lake family that was already established here and that’s the story.   Wrong!   Crista Cawdor/Calder does not exist, there are no records to-date (30+ years to-date) that identify Bob’s grandmother as Crista.  The first “record” located that identified her by the name “Christie Ann” was her a cemetery marker in Hillside Cemetery, Natural Bridge, New York. Oh, and by the way, this is the only place she is identified this way...the challenges just kept mounting from there.

Let's stop for a moment and clarify our branch of the Lake Family tree. Our family did not come to this country from Scotland; the patriarch, John Lake, was born in England about 1625 and he came to the American Colonies through what is now the State of Rhode Island. He ultimately settled in Gravesend, The Dutch Colony of New Amsterdam, (New York City), where he married Ann Spicer, the daughter of one the Gravesend colony leaders.

Gravesend is a neighborhood in modern day Brooklyn New York; there is a small side street in that neighborhood known as Lake Street, on the corner of that street is where the Lake Family homestead stood nearly 360 years ago.  At that time the town of Gravesend was the “frontier.”  Kind of hard to believe that in the middle of the largest city in the United States sits the one time “frontier village” that our family inhabited, and where it began.  

(Gravesend Map was created in 1873. It is not clear to me what date in history it was drawn to represent. It is presented here just as a reference to our story.)

John’s family spread from Gravesend to the colonies of  New Jersey and New York. Other than a short separation after the American Revolution (in which they went with other Loyalist families to Canada) our Lake family has been firmly centered in upstate New York.  

Jesse Lake, about 1813, returned to the United States and was the first generation of the family to firmly re-establish roots here. He married  Lavinia Cook in 1816 in Perrington, New York, and began their family, which would ultimately grow to 10 children. They settled in Gouverneur, New York.

In 1860 in Gouverneur NY, not too far from Jesse and Lavinia Lake lived the family of Morris and Orissa Smith. In their household was a 19 years housekeeper named  Ann Calder. She was born in Scotland.  Within two years of this date Ann married Joseph Lake, and so started their family.   

There are a couple of interesting connections here, the first being quite simply that Orrisa Lake -  Smith was Joseph’s sister. The second, more subtle bit was that Morris Smith and James Jason Smith (Elizabeth Calder’s husband) were cousins.   Ann Calder and Joesph Lake were married in 1862/3 and Elizabeth Calder and James Smith were married in 1865, who introduced who to whom, interesting hey?

So clearly the connection to Scotland is Joseph Lake’s wife Ann (or Christie or Crista or Christie Ann, whichever name you choose they are all the same person and none of them are her birth name).  
We will start there the next time... oh, and by the way, she never came to the US until just before marrying Joseph, so none of the Calder family were raised in the United States!

More information about Gravesend and the community that was established there in 1643

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