Chasing Chiltons

David B. Appleton — My Favorite Ancestor 8 June 2017 CHGS Meeting

 James Chilton, at age 63, was the oldest passenger on the ship Mayflower in 1620, and he and his wife both died during that first hard winter for the Pilgrims, leaving their youngest daughter Mary, my 10th great-grandmother, an orphan in wild and unsettled New England.

James Chilton and his family had lived in and around Canterbury, and later Sandwich, in the County of Kent, England, for some years in the late 16th and very early 17th Centuries before they moved to Leiden in The Netherlands and then in 1620 boarded the Mayflower to voyage to New England.

 The earliest record I have found so far which names James Chilton is a reference to “Chylton, James, tailor” who was made a Freeman by Gift of the City of Canterbury in 1583.

With that as background on James Chilton, my wife and I took an opportunity in 2014 to spend a full day in Kent, England, “chasing Chiltons,” where we visited the three parish churches, two in Canterbury and one in Sandwich, where we know James Chilton and his family spent time: St. Paul’s Without the Walls, Canterbury; St. Martin’s, Canterbury; and St. Peter’s, Sandwich.


St. Paul’s Without the Walls, Canterbury, Kent

We find several parish record entries of James Chilton’s children being baptized at St. Paul’s:

Isabella, the daughter of James Chilton, baptized 15 Jan 1586/87

Jane, the daughter of James Chilton, baptized 08 Jun 1589

Ingle, the daughter of James Chilton, baptized 29 Apr 1599

Chiltons Fig 1.1

St. Paul’s Without the Walls (that is, outside the walled city of Canterbury) is believed to have been built as a chapel by the nearby St. Augustine’s Abbey for local people and overseen by the monks of the Abbey as a place of worship and instruction.

In the late 13th century the church was enlarged eastwards creating the space now occupied by the organ (built in 1901).

Chiltons Fig 1.2

The church has been enlarged again, southward in 1320, and further extended and refurbished in the mid-19th century when the tower was rebuilt and a third aisle created southward, but certainly the oldest portions of the church we see today would have been familiar to James Chilton and his wife.

There are two other entries in the parish records which may relate to the family of James Chilton:

Richard Chilton, baptized 27 Jan 1582/83

Joel Chilton, baptized 16 Aug 1584

These baptisms were performed in years when such entries did not include the father’s name. The parish records around these years is inconsistent: in some years, the father’s name is included; in other years, it is not, apparently at the whim of the recorder.

St. Martin’s, Canterbury, Kent

The following entries are found in the parish records for children of James Chilton:

Joel, the son of James Chilton, buried 02 Nov 1593

Mary, the daughter of James Chilton, buried 23 Nov 1593

Elizabeth, the daughter of James Chilton, baptized 14 Jul 1594

James, the son of James Chilton, baptized 22 Aug 1596

 The sign near the entrance to the grounds of St. Martin’s Church (named for St. Martin of Tours) states it is the oldest church in continuous use in England, and notes the days and times when services are still held there. It goes on to tell us that about the year 580 King Æthelberht of Kent gave his Christian bride, Bertha, the daughter of Charbert, King of the Franks, and a Christian, a place for worship. It was originally a building of Roman origin, and the remains of the older Roman building can still be seen in the walls of the chancel.

 In 597, Pope Gregory sent St. Augustine and forty monks to lead a Christian mission in England. Ethelbert allowed them to worship here, and they extended the chapel to include the great west wall. “Here they first began to assemble, to sing the psalms, to pray, to celebrate mass, to preach and to baptize, until the king was converted to the faith and gave them greater freedom to preach and to build and restore churches everywhere.” (Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, 731 A.D.). Eventually Æthelberht was baptized, and Augustine went on to build the Abbey and Cathedral and to become Canterbury’s first Archbishop. At that time, St. Martin’s lost its prestige but retains its historical primacy.

Chiltons Fig 2.1

The great west wall and the roof of the nave dates to the 14th Century, though some of the roof beams have had to be replaced since then.

Chiltons Fig 2.2

 Of the baptismal font in the church, the base is newer (it probably dates to the 19th Century), but the two lower tiers and the rim are believed to be of Saxon origin, and the higher tier of arches, Norman (since the Normans required higher fonts in their churches). This is the font where James Chilton and his wife stood when their children Elizabeth and James were baptized.

Chiltons Fig 2.3

St. Peter’s, Sandwich, Kent

The following entries are found in the parish records for children of James Chilton:

Christian, daughter of James Chilton, baptized 26 Jul 1601

James, son of James Chilton, baptized 11 Sep 1603

Mary, daughter of James Chilton, and my 10th great grandmother, baptized 31 May 1607

There has been a church on the site of St. Peter’s in Sandwich since about 1100. That early Norman church was probably destroyed in 1216, when Sandwich was attacked by the French during the First Barons’ War (1215-1217), when a group of rebellious major landowners (barons), supported by a French army under the future Louis VIII, made war on King John of England for his refusal to abide by the Magna Carta.

Chiltons Fig 3.1

The church was rebuilt a little later in the 13th century, when it consisted of a central nave with north and south aisles, a tower, and a chancel. In the 14th century the north aisle was widened and raised in height, and a chantry chapel was built at the east end of the south aisle. Much of the church today thus dates to the 13th and 14th centuries.


There remains on display in the church a 17th century sounding board, a wooden canopy which hung horizontally over the pulpit to direct the words of the officiating priest out to the congregation in these days before electrical amplification. Without a more specific date, I cannot say if this sounding board was installed at the time the Chiltons attended the parish, or if it is a replacement for the one that was in use when they were there.

Chiltons Fig 3.3

 It was a fun and informative journey, following the moves of James Chilton and his family through three parishes in two cities in Kent, England. The opportunity to visit these places, to “walk in their footsteps” and to learn first-hand a little bit about the lives of this – my – Pilgrim family, has heightened the emotional connection to these places where they lived and worked, and where some of their children were born and buried.

 And yet, the history of these places both precedes and succeeds the Chiltons’ time there, with connections as distant as St. Augustine and more recently, to a descendant from across the ocean “chasing Chiltons.”

by David B. Appleton


Genealogy Detectives Track Down Cedar Hill Tornado Details

Thank you to the Dallas Morning News and Loyd for allowing us to post this on our site

A Historical marker sits at the site believed to be the final resting place for some of the nine victims of a tornado that struck Cedar Hill in 1856


Dallas Morning News Staff Writer

Published: 04 March 2016 04:14 PM

Updated: 04 March 2016 04:26 PM

The tornado of 1856 still holds Cedar Hill in its grip. Perhaps not much is known about it outside the city limits, but it continues to come up in regular conversations with anyone who has lived in Cedar Hill for a decent length of time.

In its May 10, 1856 issue, the Dallas Herald “received minute particulars of the frightful tornado that recently carried desolation and death to the village of Cedar Hill, and neighborhood.”

The delivery of the news wasn’t instantaneous back then, so Herald readers were just finding out about the twister, which destroyed Cedar Hill on April 29, 1856.

Newspaper details of the time are sketchy and leave out major details that a modern-day reporter wouldn’t dare miss. Very few first names of victims are given. Reports state that only one building was left standing, but no information is provided about how many buildings were there to begin with.

And in comparing the Cedar Hill tornado with others like it, the Herald likens it to “The tornado at Natchez many years ago, and that which visited Vicksburg some eight or ten years since, …”

No journalist today would get away with saying “some eight or ten years since” or “many years ago” when giving a date.

These missing details have vexed residents, and Dave and Geri Klauck of the Cedar Hill Genealogical Society were enlisted to find out more about the particulars of that April afternoon in which nine people were killed and 12 wounded in the 10-year-old town of about 400 residents.

The two will present their findings in a 7 p.m. meeting March 14 sponsored by the Cedar Hill Museum of History.

“All that was known was the first name of one person,” Dave Klauck said. He and his wife have written a book, Gone with the Wind, the 1856 Cedar Hill Tornado, in which many of the details have been fleshed out.

A team of six genealogists did the research, each assigned to track down a victim.

“Geri loves a puzzle,” Dave said. “If you don’t want to be found, don’t get her on your case.”

The team dug into its resources, and Dave is thankful for the abundance of tools the group found online to help them:; the University of North Texas’ Portal to Texas, operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Dallas County tax rolls, Dallas Public Library archives and – yes – Google.

“The babies’ names are still unknown, unless we come across church records, baptismal records or birth certificates,” Dave said.

But the group managed to find complete names for all the adults except one – a victim of a repugnant period of U.S. history. One “Negro woman” found among the dead likely was one of tornado fatality James L. Berry’s slaves, according to the team’s findings.

Some of the dead are believed to be buried in what is known as Crawford’s Tornado Graveyard, which was granted a Texas Historical Marker in 2012.

Dave also puts the number of buildings in the town back then at about a dozen. A map that he recreated showing the path of the tornado and the probable location of Cedar Hill’s buildings is in the Zula B. Wylie Library, he said.

The team’s research also uncovered details about a scandalous event after the tornado that is rendered in the sketchiest of details in the Herald.

The newspaper states that, “reports are in circulation, implicating the conduct of a prominent individual near Cedar Hill, in inhumane disrespect for the dead, and a refusal of that hospitality to the distressed that would spring spontaneously from every generous heart. We have suppressed the facts, as given us by a correspondent, and the name of the individual implicated, because it is an exhibition of human nature in a form so debased and ignoble that we are unwilling to believe it without further evidence. We wish to give him an opportunity of clearing himself of the imputation.”

Near as he can figure it, Dave Klauck believes this refers to Robert Crawford, a citizen of some renown who apparently turned back some people who wanted to store some of the bodies in his home to clean them up for burial.

“Crawford turned them away because he had some company and a lot of injured people already at his home,” Dave said. “He may not have made many friends on his way out of town.”

Be that as it may, the cemetery bears his name, probably because he deeded the land for it.


Genealogy Basics

It Begins with You

  • Start with yourself and work back in time
  • Ask family members for information, artifacts and family stories
  • Identify your immediate family members—mother, father, siblings and grandparents
  • Record full names, nick names and the maiden names of the women
  • Record the date and place of birth, death and marriage
  • Include the name(s) of spouse(s)
  • Record Your Data and Sources

Record Your Data

  • Record the data you collect on a Family Group Sheet
  • Use international style for dates—13 Aug 2016
  • First, the Wife & Her Partents
  • Next, the Husband & His Parents
  • Then, the Kids
  • Site your Sources


A Family Group Sheet Uniquely Identifies  a Family as Yours


 Tree Style Ancestral Chart


 Ancestral Chart – Vertical


Resources Other Than Your Family

  • Birth, marriage, death & cemetery records
  • Census records
  • Social Security records
  • Newspapers & city directories
  • Land records
  • Tax records
  • Probate records

Online Family Trees

  • They are good for finding clues, not data
  • Are notorious for not citing sources
  • Data without sources are not facts, they’re just stories
  • Check carefully against your family group data
  • They are notorious for bad research
  • Their sources are NOT your sources—check their sources for validity
  • ALWAYS look a gift horse in the mouth

Save Your Data on Your Computer

  • Family Search—Free online Family Tree
  • Family Tree Maker—About $40 from Amazon
  • Ancestry—By subscription

Join a Genealogical Society

  • Learn more about genealogy at every meeting
  • Personalized help from fellow members
  • Great conversations!
  • The Cedar Hill Genealogical Society
    • Always free admission
    • Meets the second Thursday of each month
    • 7:00pm; 6:30pm to socialize and snack
    • At the Zula B Wylie Library in Cedar Hill

from the Researching Your Family History on the Internet computer class

Why do Genealogy?

You want to find out who your ancestors are and possibly get back to the “old country”.

You are curious about family members whose names pop up in family stories.

Members of your family are prone to certain medical conditions and you would like to track the history of this condition as it has traveled through your family.

You are a history buff and genealogy, a natural extension of this past-time allows you to discover the history of your family.

You enjoy researching anything, so why not your family!

You enjoy talking to and spending time with people who do genealogy.

You think DNA testing is cool!

You like to travel especially to conferences, so why not to those sponsored by the Federation of Genealogical Societies, National Genealogical Society & Texas State Genealogical Society, which have conferences every year in different locations.

You find yourself wandering through cemeteries, records offices, court houses and libraries, searching for a reason transcribe some data.

You want to find those skeletons in your family’s closet.

Geri Klauck Cedar Hill Genealogical Society