Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday (without a tombstone): Charles Backus and family of Wyoming County, New York

The other clue on the Backus family I needed to follow up with was the fact that Rolla Backus, age 16, was listed as a nephew in the household of Adelbert Hitchcock and his wife Clarissa during the 1900 federal census. They lived in the town of Yorkshire. Also living with the family was a son, Carl R. Hitchcock, age 15. In what ways could Rollie be a nephew? Rollie's mother could be a sister of Adelbert or Rollie could be the nephew of Adelbert's wife. The research I was able to do online on the Hitchcock family did not yield any connections to Rollie Backus that I could see.

Adelbert Hitchcock's wife is listed as Clarissa B. in other records and a Rootsweb WorldConnect submission gives her last name as Burnham. In 1910, Clarissa's birth place is listed as New York, her father's as Canada (English) and her mother's as New York. Clarissa was born about 1851 and was the mother of three living children. Her and "Delbert" were married 37 years according to this census, putting the wedding date in the year 1873. The 1892 state census shows Adelbert and Clarissa with three children Homer F. [sic] age 18, Lenna W., age 16 and Carl R. age 7. None of this helped tie Rollie to the family definitively, so I left it for another day.

That day came on my Thanksgiving break this year. I was not even actually researching the Backus name although my mother-in-law had been here for Thanksgiving dinner. I was looking up some general information about the town of Java in a January 1980 edition of the Historical Wyoming County newsletter, a copy of which is found at fultonhistory.com. In the same newsletter, I also found a transcript of the Arcade Rural Cemetery which included four entries for the surname Backus. This just happened to catch my eye because of Java being the birthplace of Rollie's son. None of these names matched what I had so far but I printed out the information to check later against what I did know.

What luck I had with this one! Sometimes I really believe the ancestors nudge us along. Truly there was really nothing to suggest that this Backus family buried in Arcade Rural Cemetery was the right family. Just juxtaposed to information about the town of Java made me think about it, although the areas are within proximity.

The information from the cemetery transcript is as follows:

Charles Backus, July 15, 1814 - Oct. 6, 1881. (Son of John)
Etta Smith, wife, died May 1889, -- Yrs.
Permelia Backus, wife, Charles, and
Dau. Paul and Sarah E. Burno, died Aug 15, 1892, -- Yrs.
Child Backus, interred Oct. 31, 1874

Still really nothing to go on, but I went back to looking at online records on the Hitchcock family to see if I could figure out if Clarissa B. Hitchcock was the family link for Rollie. For the record, the child listed as Homer F. Hitchcock in 1892 appears to actually be Herbert E. Hitchcock born 1874. Herbert died in 1933 and is buried in the Delevan Cemetery in Delevan, Cattaraugus County, New York. It is a record on the son Carl Hitchcock, though, that yielded a bingo winning in the game of family connections here.

From familysearch.org, I retrieved a marriage record of Carl R. Hitchcock age 25 and Evelyn M. Dornan in Cattaraugus County. Carl's parents are listed as Adelbert Hitchcock and Clarissa Burno. Aha! A probable connection to Permelia Burno Backus listed in the cemetery transcript. Time to look further at this Backus family. It was a tombstone kind of search as further information was gleaned from findagrave.com. Much of it confirmed what was listed in the cemetery transcription. Click on the names below as they are linked to the findagrave.com entry for each.
Image from findagrave.com

Charles Backus
Etna Smith Backus
Permelia Burno Backus

Interestingly enough the entries on findagrave.com indicate that the burial information for each of these was from the Wyoming County Historian's office but no gravestones were found. The Historical Wyoming Newsletter did not include information regarding when the transcript was originally completed, but the date of the newsletter was January 1980. This issue began the transcript, though it was not completed in that issue. I believe the remainder of the transcript ran in subsequent issues after that.

Even without a tombstone, I was able to confirm the connections with further research into the Burno family, but I will save the details of that information for another post.


  1. Dawn, I agree with most of your work here with one exception, Herbert E Hitchcock is NOT the child of Adelbert and Clarissa, their three children are:

    Homer Franklin Hitchcock, born 16 Nov 1874 Delevan, Cattaraugus, NY and died 1 Jun 1942 Corning, Steuben, New York. At Buffalo, NY he married in 1897 to Ursula Delmage of Canada and they removed first to Rochester and then to Elmira, NY and were the parents of 5 children. He and Ursula are buried at Elmira, NY in Woodlawn Cemetery;

    Len Wendall "Lennie" Hitchcock, born 21 Oct 1877 Delevan, Cattaraugus, New York died 13 Sep 1954 Mansfield, Tioga, PA married twice, #1 to Eldena O'Neal of Arcade Wyoming, NY and after her death in 1914 #2 marriage to Katherine "Kate" Wood and he is the father of 4 children in all. Lennie and both wives are buried in Prospect Cemetery, Mansfield, PA.

    Carl Robert Hitchcock born 9 FEB 1886 Delevan, Cattaraugus, New York and died 4 JUL 1964 Franklinville, Cattaraugus, New York he married Evelyn M Dornan of Franklinville and they are the parents of 4 children. Carl and Evelyn are interred at Mount Prospect Cemetery in Franklinville.

    Jim Bramble Tampa, FL (formerly Elmira, NY)

  2. Thank you, Jim! I appreciate the information you provided in your comment. Any idea who Herbert E. Hitchcock was? Luckily my work does not hinge on him being a child of Adelbert and Clarissa's. It was only supposition based on seeing Herbert's tombstone information in the same cemetery. I am glad to clear that up and may edit this post to reflect this correction you provided.