Thursday, November 8, 2012

Erorrs in Notes Regarding Nancy Beagle

I'm entering this for now as a public service rather than as really much to do about my ancestors because, at this time, I'm not sure if these folks are related to me or not.

By way of background, this post concerns a woman named and known variously as "Elizabeth LaPorte," "Sophrana E. LaPorte," "Eliza LaPorte," "Lillie LaPorte," "Lillian Laporte," "Lillie Niles," and "Lillian Niles."  She was the daughter of Nancy Beagle (b. 1821 d. 1912) and Joseph LaPorte (c. 1813 d. 1863). For ease of reference, though, I'll refer to her as "Elizabeth/Lillie LaPorte."

Elizabeth/Lillie was born in December 1855 and died in 1936.  She married her step-brother, Barnum Niles (b. 1851 d. 1938).  Barnum, sometimes known as "Barney" was the son of the Reverend Nathan Niles and (I think) Jane Kirnan. After Jane died, the Rev. Niles married Nancy Beagle-LaPorte (after her husband, Joseph LaPorte, died).  Sort of a Brady Bunch scenario where Marsha marries Greg.  In fact, it happened twice -- Jane Anne "Jennie" Niles married William Edward LaPorte, also step-siblings.

But I digress.

The purpose of the post is to clarify some errors in "notes" that are circulating on the web, which make two mistakes, which seem to be repeated frequently.  They are that:

1.  The Elizabeth/Lillie LaPorte married a man named Isaac Reckard; and
2.  That Elizabeth LaPorte is distinct from Lillie LaPorte.

Both, for the reasons stated below, are wrong, as explained more fully below (which is from an essay that I wrote on the topic a while back):

The error in the notes regarding “Eliza LaPorte” is that she is the same Eliza/Elizabeth married to “Isaac Reckard (b: 13 Sep 1849, d: 7 Sep 1916 at West Chazy).” I believe that the source of this error is an entry in the Northern New York Tombstone Transcription web site here That entry states: RECKARD(front)Isaac RECKARD / Sept. 13, 1849 - Sept. 7, 1916 / His Wife / Eliza LaPORTE / Nov. 13, 1850 - Sept. 23, 1927 / Their Son / Henry Walter / Apr. 28, 1888 - July 22, 1888 /  The dates from the Chazy Rural cemetery web page match up precisely with the claim made in the “Nancy Beagle Notes.” I believe this is an error for several reasons.
 First, the Elizabeth in these Chazy cemetery records (and the Nancy Beagle Notes) is said to have been born 13 Nov 1850. As a result, we’d expect to see “Elizabeth” at age 10 or so in the 1860 Census with Nancy and Jospeh LaPorte. But what we actually find at or near that age is “Edward” aged 12 and “James D[arius]” aged 7.  Also there is a “Sophrana E” aged 4.  As explained more below, I believe that this Sophrana E is actually “Elizabeth” and “Lillie” LaPorte, who later marries  her step-brother, Barnum Niles, not Isaac Reckard.

 In the 1880 Census, there is an “Elizabeth Laport” living with Nancy and Nancy’s son, Darius.  Nancy is 58, Darius 27, and Elizabeth 25. This Elizabeth is listed as a "daughter" (not "daughter in law") and would have been born about 1855, not 1850 as claimed in the notes and as listed in the Chazy Rural Cemetery.

It is almost certainly not Darius’s wife Henrietta Downs as she was not married to Darius until 1881. And even if they had lived together as common-law husband and wife prior to that, Ms. Downs was born in 1863 and would have only been 17 at the time of the 1880 census, not 25 as indicated in that record even with errors running rampant in the North Country census records, this discrepancy is notable. The “Elizabeth” in this 1880 record would be the same age as the “Sophrana E” from the 1860 census. In 1892 Nancy (Beagle) Niles was living with her step-son Barnum, who married “Lillie,” a diminutive nickname of Elizabeth, who, according to this record, would have been born about Dec 1854.

The “Nancy Beagle Notes” list “Sophrana” as being born about 1856, but give no further details – marriage, residence, death, etc. This seems somewhat suspect, but not by itself a basis for concluding much. A second reason that I think it is an error to conclude that Nancy’s Elizabeth married Isaac Reckard is that Nancy claims to have 8 children around 1865. In Benjamin Franklin La Porte’s Civil War Pension file, Nancy Ann Beagle/LaPorte/Niles is explaining to the pension board that she needs the “Mother’s Pension” because she depended on Benjamin’s labor. And, the death of her husband Joseph left them with no property except the clothes on their backs.  In it, she also states that at death, she was left with “eight” children.

EThe "eight" to whom she referred were, I believe:
(1) Adelia (b. 1843);(2) William Edward (b. c. 1843);(3) Benjamin Franklin (b. 1845);(4) Edward (b. 1848);(5) James Darius (b. 1853);(6) Sophrana Elizabeth “Lillie” (b. 1855);(7) Henry Jeremiah (b. 1859); and (8) Georgiana (b. 1861).

If “Elizabeth” “Lillie” and “Sophrana” are all different people as the notes claim, then there would be either 9 children, or there were either deaths intervening, or Nancy’s reference to “Eight” excluded some who may have moved away from home.  Absent any records of the childhood deaths of any of the children of Joseph LaPorte and Nancy Beagle, I believe the better view is that the notes are in error and that the eight Nancy refers to are those listed above.
A final reason to believe that the notes are in error is that the portion of the Chazy Rural Cemetery web page that immediately following the entry for Elizabeth LaPorte and Isaac Reckard is this entry on that page:

(back)1844 J.C. Webb 1926 / His Wife / Josie LaPORTE / 1866 - 1931 / Headstone: James / Headstone: Josie /
That both LaPorte women were included on the same stone strongly suggests that the two were related. But “Josie” here is shown to be born in 1866.  By 1866, Joseph La Porte was dead (Joseph is indicated as dying in April 1863 according to Nancy’s statement in the Civil War Pension file of her son Benjamin Franklin LaPorte). It seems unlikely that another daughter born after Joseph died would be called a “La Porte.” Further, a Josephine La Porte appears in Vermont death records married to a “James” Webb giving the same death date (1931) but listing as her father “John La Porte.”  It is possible that this “John” is "Jean-Baptiste" LaPorte, who married Genevieve Dufresne (grandson of Jean Baptiste LaPorte and Marie-Agathe Masse), shown here on a public tree. Based on all of the above, I believe that “Elizabeth” is “Sophrana E," also known as “Lillie” who later marries her step-brother, Barnum Niles.  If all three names are the same person, Nancy’s “eight children” is an accurate statement. The birth dates for Elizabeth, Sophrana and Lillie are all consistently close to late 1855 in the various census records (4 year old Sophrana E in the 1860 census) (25 year old Elizabeth in the 1880 Census) and (37 year old Lillie in the 1892 NY Census).  Each puts a date of birth near 1855, not 1850 as claimed.


  1. Michael,

    Eliza H. who married Isaac Reckard was the daughter of Jean Baptiste(John) and Genevieve(Julia)Dufresne.
    She was living with her parents John and Julia Laport in Beekmantown, NY during the 1860 Census.
    It looks like that Nancy Beagle's notes may have been correct based on the information that I have.

    Doug Farnsworth

    1. Doug:

      I think that maybe I wasn't clear enough in what I said -- and also couldn't find a good way to include the portion of the notes that I think are in error.

      The "notes" for Nancy Beagle assert that this Eliza married to Isaac Reckard was the daughter of Joseph LaPorte and Nancy Beagle. THAT is an incorrect assertion, I believe.

      The correct genealogy and history is the one that you note. Eliza is the daughter of JB and Genevieve Dufresne.