Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Like father like son.......David Barkley Comstock

My last post was about my 2nd great grandfather George Delmer Comstock - I  have more to share on him later but I wanted to share about his father, David Barkley Comstock.  David intrigues me because I went from having a name on a sheet of paper to photos and documents that really made him come to life for me.  Two of his sons (and eventually his widow) moved west to California.  Through census records and obituaries I tracked down the 2 grandsons his youngest son William Eugene Comstock had and they sent me a bunch of photographs.  More recently I've been in contact with another cousin in California who is a great granddaughter of his oldest son David Edwin Comstock and she's been going through the belongings of her late aunt and sending me information and photos.  It's been a treasure trove for me that wouldn't have been possible without some nervous phone calls to receptive cousins!

David was born August 17th, 1827 at Adams, Berkshire County MA, the 5th child of Amos and Hannah (Upton) Comstock.  I know very little about the movement of his family until the 1850 census picks him up married at Bruce, Macomb County MI, working as a "carpenter".  According to a Comstock genealogy book that I got from my grandmother Amos died in Lapeer County MI in 1855 and Hannah died in 1865.  The 1850 census still has Amos and Hannah at Adams MA so David moved to MI prior to them.

He married my 3rd great grandmother Barbara King Harris February 15th, 1849 at Bruce.  The two grainy photos on the left are believed to be from their wedding in 1849.

In 1860 he and Barbara are living in Wyoming, Kent County MI, he being listed as a "merchant" and in 1870 they're living in Grand Rapids, Kent County MI with him working as a "Yankee Notion Dealer".   He appears to have even had his own brand of cigars!

The two advertisements were found in the Grand Rapids City directory for 1867-1868.  I thought I had failed to document the years (as so often happened in my younger "eager" genealogy days but I see I wrote it in pencil on the top of one of the ads.  The cigar label came in the group of photos from CA.

David passed away of "brain fever" May 11th, 1874 and is buried at Grandville Cemetery in Kent County MI.  He's buried with 4 of his children that died young (my 2nd great grandfather George Delmer Comstock is also buried there in a different section), and according to cemetery records his wife Barbara.  I know she died and is buried in California so I suspect the "Mrs. Comstock" that is buried with him is his mother Hannah who died around the same time his children did.   The original cemetery records burned so I'll probably never be able to verify this.

I had been told that he died as a result of a mugging that took place while he was in New York on business.  After my grandmother's death I found this picture in her cedar chest:

I later found the following articles detailing how he must have survived being murdered!

From the Buffalo Evening Courier and Republic August 14th, 1865.  (I marked that they both came from the same paper, entirely possible but it is likely the 1st one came from the previous edition). 

David must have survived the mugging that allegedly was the cause of his death if he returned to NY in 1870 and died in 1874.  His widow Barbara died in California in 1894 and she will be another blog post as one of the aforementioned cousins sent me a document that blew me away and filled in a ton of blanks for me recently (so I'll share that on another post).

There are an amazing number of existing photos for David given his death in 1874.  I'm so thankful I reached out to my CA cousins and received them!

I'm assuming this is the "most recent" photo of him (if you call a photo that has to be 140 years old recent).  Everyone that sees this photo talks about his eyes and the amazing thing is that my mom's oldest brother (one of his 2nd great grandchildren) had the same eyes - absolutely the same eyes.  Genetics sure can carry on...........although after his son George Delmer none of us have been grocers!

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