Genealogy is solving mysteries, putting together puzzles and working with others. report John Bunnell reports on the progress he and his collaborators are making on one branch of the Bunnell family.
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I've already been corresponding with George Farris on this, but I'll now bring everyone else in the loop. It appears that George's hunch that we could find the Kentucky/Virginia William/Samuel Bonnell family by tracing the related/neighbor families has paid off. As a review, the two related families during the early Virginia years (pre-Revolution through Revolution) were the Peter Rossell family and the Jacob Wright family. Tax lists show these families moving together from Loudon County to Spotsylvania County, William Bonnell and Jacob Wright were witnesses to a land sale for Peter Rossell, and William Bonnell was the administrator of Jacob Wright's estate (with the elder Samuel Bonnell as a second).
Recently, George was able to trace the Rossell's back to the Trenton, NJ area using established genealogical information. Fortunately, I was able to stop by the New Jersey state archives for a very short visit in conjunction with a recent work trip. While I only had time to scratch the surface at this facility, several things were immediately clear.
First, a court case between Peter Rossell and Charles Rossell established the fact that Peter was living in the township of Windsor in Middlesex County in 1758-1759. This is just to the east of Trenton.
Second, Jacob Wright, a farmer, was also a resident of Windsor Township until 1766. Jacob Wright was in legal trouble over debts in the 1760s, climaxing in the complete confiscation of all of his possessions in October 1766.
Third, there was a Bonnell family in the same Windsor Township from at least 1732 until at least the mid-1760s. This family (the only Bonnell family there, as far I can tell) was headed by Samuel Bonnell, Sr. and also included a Samuel Bonnell, Jr. At least one of these two was a blacksmith. The Bonnells also had debt problems dating as early as 1749. The debt cases involved both Samuel Bonnells in the mid-1760s. In the last cases, the plaintiffs were the same as those suing Jacob Wright.
The connections here are so numerous and tight, that I think that there can now be no doubt that these are the same three families that appear in Loudoun County in 1768. For the first time, then, we are able to place the Kentucky Bonnell line in the northeast.
The next task ahead is for me to sort through the pile of documents relating to this family that I took away from the NJ archives. My time in the archives was so limited, I did not even have time to read most of the documents then or since. I am extremely grateful to the staff, who rushed through making over sixty pages of copies to take with me. I will ask for your patience in sorting through this, as my time is extremely limited due to work and family pressures now. It will probably take months to get through all of this material.
The first objective in sorting through these documents is to untangle Samuel Bonnell, Sr. from the Samuel Bonnell, Jr. This will help us determine which one appeared in Loudoun County and the relationship between the Samuels and William (father and brother or father and grandfather). Once we have a clear view of Samuel, Sr., we can then try to ascertain the earliest records in this township, which may then give us a point of reference as we try to connect this eldest individual to the main Bonnell/Bunnell line.
As groundbreaking as these records are, I expect they will be insufficient to answer all of our questions. I imagine there is much more information in the NJ Archives that I was able to quickly gather from indexes. Also, we are now focused on such a small geographic area that there is a reasonable chance of payoff from searching count and church records, looking for the Ganno connection, etc.
I anticipate that this will be a tremendous jigsaw puzzle, so I welcome everyone's help as we try to put these pieces together.
More to follow (bit by bit)...