This was sent to me by John Quinn Doer
NOTES ON THE MANUSCRIPT "FROM OUT OF THE PAST"
Several years ago, researching the Bearss family, from which I am descended, I became aware of the manuscript of Franklyn Elewatum BeArce, printed in Utah Genealogical Magazine, and a later response to it from the noted genealogist Donald Lines Jacobus. Both of these documents are now available on line through the courtesy of Lee Murrah and are interesting to read.
Although the claims made by Mr. BeArce seem somewhat outlandish, a number of Bearss descendants have given themcredence, and continue to support them, particularly in the on-line genealogical community. Therefore I decided to investigate the matter myself, to see what might be learned using information readily available to me at the depositories to which I have have access, including the Yale University Library, the NEGHS library, and the library of the NYGBS.
The undertaking then, is a brief analysis of the document, "From Out of the Past", by Franklyn Elewatum Swimming Eel BeArce, to see what light can be shed on the claims made within it. My sources are cited at the end of the document.
Who was Franklyn BeArce?
Franklin Bearce was a steamfitter who lived in Mount Vernon, NY. He married a Swedish immigrant named Marie (as her second husband) and they had a single child that did not survive them. Born in 1878, in Allegan, Michigan, he was the son of a butcher, Noble Bearce, and his wife, Mary Ellen Blaine.
In his 50's he became acquainted with several families living on the nearby Schaghticoke reservation in Kent, Connecticut, and began to insert himself into their affairs. In 1933 he applied to the Connecticut State Park and Forest Commission to be certified as a Schaghticoke Indian, but after an investigation, he was denied.
His interest in the Schaghticoke was undiminished, however, and in 1939, and again in 1940, Mr. BeArce organized "Pow-Wows" near the reservation, which were attended by several thousand tourists. The 1940 event was promoted by Mr. Bearce as "American Indian Day", and he advertised himself in handbills as "Chief Medicine Man" and "Chief Medicine Sagamore".
In 1939, Mr. BeArce called a meeting of the Schaghticoke community and convinced the attendees to allow him to initiate a land claim before the Indian Claims Commission on their behalf, claiming the Bronx, Manhattan, and a large part of Connecticut and New York.
BeArce volunteered to do all the work entailed by the filing and he was thereupon unanimously elected "Chairman of the Schaghticoke Indian Claims Commission" by all 17 of those in attendance.
The claim worked it's way through the federal Bureacracy and in 1954 was challenged on the grounds that BeArce had no standing as a non-Schaghticoke. He therefore called another meeting, and asked that he be accepted as a member of the tribe in order that he might continue the claim. In another unanimous vote, he was rejected. The suit does not appear to have been renewed.
Since the advent of Indian gaming in Connecticut, and the success of the Pequot casino at Foxwood, similar suits on behalf of the Schaghticoke have now been filed, seeking the right to erect and operate a casino on their land, but this time with some of the wealthiest names in the "hospitality" business taking the part of Mr. BeArce. So far, none have been settled.
Of course, none of this either adds to or detracts from the document "From Out of The Past", and is not intended as an ad hominum argument for or against.It simply provides some color to the picture we have of the author. He sounds like a colorful character indeed.
Proceeding to the manuscript he left, then, and following the suggestion of my esteemed friend Mr. A. Whitney Brown, of Greenwich, Ct, I thought it fruitful to begin by examing those portions which are most easily compared to the historical record. These involve historical persons well documented already.
1. According to Mr. BeArce:
"My grandfather James G. Blaine was a son of John Blaine and his second cousin Elizabeth Ann Blaine. My grandfather James G. Blaine, was a first cousin of Games G. Blaine, American diplomat, and Sec of State and one time canidate for President of this commonwealth; There Their ?) fathers were brothers, and they were both named after their Grandfather, James Gillispe Blaine."
"From Out of the Past" by Franklyn BeArce (unpublished)
The historical record:
Bearce's great grandfather John Blain was a half-brother to Ephraim Lyon Blain, (the father of James Gillespie Blain).Since it was Ephraim Blain who m. Maria Gillespie, neither the grandfather, the great grandfather,nor the great great grandfather (James Blain) of Franklin BeArce would have carried the name Gillespie. Franklin BeArce was related to the politician and statesman James Gillespe Blaine as a half-second cousin 3 times removed.
2. According to Mr. BeArce:
My grandfather Blain was a studious man and a scholar; He was a slave owener at Preston,N.Carolina, and built wagons and gun carriages for the Confederate Govt, during the cival War. He was pauperized by the collaps of the Southern Confederacy, and come North, first to Whitly Co Indiana, where with several Negroes ex-slaves he bought land, and from there to Allegan Co Mich , where he lived for some years and lies sleeping.He married Nandachine Hoover at the Quaker settlement of West Milton,Miami Co Ohio. He was North Irish stock,--
"From Out of the Past" by Franklyn BeArce (unpublished)
The historical record:
Bearce's grandfather James Blain was the son of John Blain, who came from Cumberland, PA and was an early settler in Noble County, Indiana.
He never made wagons or cannons, either for the Union or the Confederacy, never owned slaves, was never rich enough to become impoverished, was not married in West Milton, Miami, OH, and in fact, never lived in North Carolina.
His quiet life in Noble County near his family is as well accounted for as can be expected. The only time he "come north" was when he moved the 100 miles or so to Allegan, Michigan, where he lived near the residence of his daughter Mary and her husband Noble Bearce.
James Blain was from childhood a resident in Noble County, by trade a blacksmith, and at age 24, on May 22, 1855, married, in Whitley County, Indiana, Nancy J. Hoover. (In 1860 several dozen residents of Noble County, the Blains among them, petitioned for the township they lived in to be transferred to Whitley County. They were successful in this petition, and the
county boundaries were moved.)
He lived near his parents and brothers, and at the outbreak of the Civil War, the 1860 census shows him there, a blacksmith, his wife a "domestic" with a one year old daughter. There are no slaves or Negroes in the ennumeration district, and it's doubtful he could have afforded one, even with his wife working.His estate is 200 dollars.
This is is pretty damning for the credibility of BeArce. For a person claiming to know the intimate details of family history to be so wrong about the life of his own grandfather is astonishing, particularly when the grandfather was a neighbor.
3. According to Mr. Bearce:
"The ancestrial history of my grandmother Nandachine Hoover, and her sister aunt Millie, were handed down to me by word of mouth of both these women when I was a young man, and verified on the back..."
"Nandachine Hoover was a dau of Jesse Hoover and Rebecca Yaunts, who were both in the old Hillsborough district North Carolina; Rebecca Yaunts was a dau of John Yaunts,jr son of Yaunt-ka-ha , and Jesse was a son of John Hoover, the following is a true historical and genealogical record of my my grandmother Nancy Hoovers Indian strains, and the people involved, and is to the best of my knoweledge correct...."
"From Out of the Past" by Franklyn BeArce (unpublished)
The historical record:
Quite a bit is known about Rebecca Yount and Jesse Hoover; they were the great grandparents of President Herbert Hoover, and both the Yount and Hoover families have a proud and careful tradition of keeping family history through the generations.
Jesse and Rebecca had nine children before he died in 1856, a short time after the family migrated to Cedar County, Iowa. Rebecca lived another 40 years, well into her 90's, and never remarried, but reportedly adopted another 19 children over the years. She was a true family matriarch.
The problem is that she never had a child named Nandachine, Nancy, or even any variation such as Agnes. In addition, all of her children and their marriages are accounted for, and none married a James Blain. Neither she nor any of her children ever lived in Whitley County, Indiana.
This is not just a case of an unlisted child. Rebecca Yount lived to the age of 96, and counted her children, grand children, great grandchildren, and great, great, grandchildren as closely as a hen counts her chicks. She had nearly 300 descendants when she died and one of her passions was genealogy.
She was part of a very close Quaker community, and the suggestion that one of her children is unaccounted for is not to be credited.
Who then was Nancy J. Hoover, the grandmother of Franklin BeArce? A look at the Federal census of 1850 provides some clues.
September 24, 1850, Whitley County, Indiana, No township listed p.4
Jesse Hand 37NJ Farmer $600
Rebecca 36 NC
David 13 OH
John 8 OH
Samuel 6 IN
Rebecca 3 IN
Nancy J. Hoover 10 IN
Sarah E."6 IN
Amelia M. "6IN
This is certainly the family of Bearce's grandmother, Nancy J. Hoover, complete with her sister Amelia, "Aunt Millie", who later married Moses Daisy. They are but a short distance from the family of James Blain.
It presents a complicated situation. Apparently we see the union of two recently made single parents, each with 4 children by former spouses. A marriage record provides assistance:
Whitley County Marriages: HAND, Jesse to Rebecca HOOVER on May 6, 1849 - Book 1:36
Jesse Hand is probably the son of Cornelius Hand of Kosciusko County, Indiana, but since we don't know the maiden name of Rebecca, her identity remains a mystery, as does that of her first spouse, Mr. Hoover.
She is unlikely to have left us a written record, as both she and Mr. Hand were among the few adults over 25 years of age listed on the page who could neither read nor write. But we can be absolutely sure that she is not Rebecca Yount.
Her identity is a project most appropriately left to her descendants, should any wish to honor her name. I can only add that she died at the Whitley County Poor Farm sometime after 1880, forgotten, it seems, even by her own grandchildren.
Mr. Bearce goes on with a lengthy and ridiculous tale of the Yount family history, and it's Indian origins, similar to the Bearse tale, and to relate it here would serve no purpose other than to amuse the very competent family historians of the Yount clan at the expense of the Bearss' descendants.
Since Mr. Bearce emphatically states that he received this "true and historical genealogical record" from his grandmother and aunt, then we are faced with an unpleasant judgement.
We can only conclude, bluntly, that someone is lying, either Bearce, or his grandmother and aunt. And this is no casual lie. The account he gives is elaborate, lengthy, and follows enough of the vague outline of historical fact to show familiarity with it. The liar would have to have had some knowledge of the Hoover and Yount families. Common sense would suggest that it was indeed, Mr. BeArce who was the liar.
In compiling the manuscript he shows a familiarity with the basics of genealogical research, remarking that there is no Passenger Record for the Yount immigrant ancestor, (Not true by the way.). Had he been deceived, even the barest research would have alerted him to that fact.There can be little doubt that he was the perpetrator of this hoax.
As to his motives, we can only guess. Perhaps he hoped to profit as a result of a land claim. If so, he was deluded. Even real Indians have almost no hope in that regard. Perhaps he was inspired by "Grey Owl", the Englishman who posed an Indian in the early 20th century, and toured the world pontificating upon the "The Way of the Great Spirit".
In any case, since genealogical conclusions can never be ascertained with absolute surety, the whole endeavor depends on diligence and relies on trust. Genealogists have a difficult enough time correcting unintentional errors, and the study would be made infinitely more difficult were the element of deliberate deception to creep in.
Therefore we must dismiss the entire BeArce manuscript with extreme prejudice.To repeat it as a "possible alternative" there is no doubt, is to join in Bearce's perverse fraud.
Let us therefore list the "information" contained in this manuscript, and only in this manuscript, unsupported elsewhere, so that we can, without controversy, dismiss it once and for all:
1. The spelling of the name BeArce - this appears nowhere else.
2. The claim that Augustine Bearss was a Gypsy - again, nowhere else.
3. The claim that the children of Josiah Bearss and his wife Zerviah Newcomb were actually the bastards of a relationship Josiah Bearss carried on with an Indian woman.
4. The claim that Rebecca Baldwin, wife of Josiah Bearss, was an Indian.
We can add to these additional claims Bearce makes earlier in his own genealogy, such as that Sampson May, the father of Anna May, wife of Elijah Rowe, was an Indian through her father, Sampson May, "a full blood Schaghticoke sagamore" according to Bearce.
This Sampson May is listed in the 1820 census of Beekman, Dutchess County, NY, as "Free Black Male". Although Indians often passed for white, for varied reasons, it would be very difficult to mistake an African American for anything but that.
These claims, and others contained in the manuscript of Franklin Bearce, the steamfitter from Mt. Vernon, deserve to be dismissed from controversy, removed from notation, and in general ignored.
Further, it is incumbent upon those who propagate these claims to cite their source, i.e. the unsubstantiated word of a malicious liar.
There are those who continue to pursue historical evidence to support these claims, for whatever reasons of their own, and they are entitled to waste their time in such an endeavor.
I would only advise that as in all wild goose chases, whatever they come up with is subject to this basic rule of logic; proof that something might have happened is not proof that it did.
I can prove a dozen ways that it was possible for me to have run the Boston marathon this year. After all, it was held in my region, others with the name John participated, my presence cannot be accounted for that day in my home town, not every participant was named on the rolls, I have a pair of running shoes, etc. Without some positive evidence that I actually did participate, these claims are meaningless.
I hope this paper is useful to the Bearss descendants, who currently run the risk of being deemed the most gullible of genealogic researchers. This is not the legacy Austin Bearss would have wished for his descendants.
Sincerely, John Quinn Doer
1.1930 Federal Census Mount Vernon, Westchester County, New York
2. Schaghticoke Tribal Nation v. KentSchool Corporation, 3:98CV-0113
COMMENTS OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT, THE CONNECTICUT
LIGHT & POWER COMPANY, KENT SCHOOL CORPORATION, AND TOWN OF KENT REGARDING
THE PETITION FOR FEDERAL TRIBAL ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE SCHAGHTICOKE TRIBAL
NATION PETITIONER GROUPAPRIL 16, 2002
3. STN Pet.: STN Federal Acknowledgment Petition submitted in 1994.
4. STN AR: Anthropological Report Supplementing the STN Petition, dated April 1997, by Lucianne Lavin, Ph.D.
5. STN HR: Historical Report Supplementing the STN Petition, dated April 1997, by Michael Lawson, Ph.D.
6. STN TCA: Twentieth Century Addendum to the April 1997Supplement, dated March 20, 1998.
7. STN TL: STN Tribal Leadership Report dated February 15, 2002.
8. CT Ex.: Initial Submission of Exhibits by the State of Connecticut,December 2001.
9. Town Ex.: Initial Submission of Exhibits by the Town of Kent,December 2001.
10. May 23, 20022002-R-0517 SCHAGHTICOKE LAND CLAIMS AND PETITION FOR FEDERAL RECOGNITION By: Christopher Reinhart, Associate Attorney
11. Biography of James G. Blaine (Norwich, Conn., 1895) by Mary Abigail Dodge
12."American Statesmen Series," James G. Blaine (Boston, 1905) by CE Stanwood
BLAIN, James to Nancy Jane HOOVER on May 22, 1855 - Book 1:211
13. Whitley County Indiana Marriages 1838-1910
14.History of Whitley County, Indiana
"John Blain and his wife, Elizabeth Blain, are the oldest persons in the township.John Blain was born n Pennsylvania, February 29, 1792, and his wife was born January 29, 1791; they were married in Ohio, near Chillicothe 1816, and have lived together as husband and wife nearly sixty-six (66) years - two generations - on the farm where they settled with their little
children in 1836 - forty-six years ago.They are truly old pioneers."
17. Federal Census of 1850, Whitley County, Indiana
18. Federal Census of 1850, Noble County, Indiana
19. Federal Census of 1850, Kosciusko County, Indiana
20. "From Out of the Past" by Franklyn BeArce (unpublished)
21. Federal Census of 1860, Noble County Indiana
22. Federal Census of 1880, Allegan County, Michigan
23. McLean, Hulda Hoover, The Genealogy of the Herbert Hoover Family, Revised and Expanded Edition,
24. Yount Family History: John Andrew Yount and Elizabeth Little, Pauline Moser Shookc1990.
25. The Yount Family of Europe & America, Edith Warren Huggins, 1986.
26. "A Brief Sketch of the Origin of the Yount Family in America", by W. C. Yount, Alliance OH and Wm. M. Yount, Warren OH, 1936.
UCED NYGHN DrDoer