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Curiosity - #52 Ancestors - Catherine Hoak Noel

Curiosity 

Who was Catherine Hoak Noel?

Why does this topic make me shake my head thinking I don't know what to write? Genealogy is all about curiosity. In fact, every discovery that has been made was because I was curious. One could say that curiosity is the foundation of genealogy! In fact, without curiosity there wouldn't be any discoveries nor that next odd and curious discovery that keeps a person digging!

Today, I am curious about my maternal third great grandmother, Catherine Hoak Noel. She is one of those ancestors that seems to be a blip on the screen, pretty much invisible. Really though, she is a typical woman of the early nineteenth century. In nineteenth century American society, a woman’s role was predominately that of cook, wife, mother, and homemaker in a rural setting. Families were large. Women were relied upon to provide children who then supplied manual labor on the farm helping to maintain the family income and welfare.

Women during that time enjoyed few rights, be it political, legal or social. Females were expected to be subservient to their husbands and fathers, in all matters, for their entire life. Without rights, a woman’s name doesn’t usually appear in documents nor does she make decisions. A husband, father, brother, brother-in-law or another designated male makes all the decisions for her welfare. It is no wonder that women, during this time period, are so difficult to research.

What do I already know about Catherine Hoak Noel? Catherine Hoak was born in 1798, most likely in Strasburg, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to Jacob and Hannah Pugh Hoak. Jacob Hoak had been living in the area for a number of years as is evidenced by his being counted in the Septennial Census for 1786, 1793 and 1800, as well as Strasberg tax records for 1786.

Strasberg was a linear village that stretched two miles along the Great Conestoga Road. It evolved into a trade center and stagecoach stop on the road between Philadelphia and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The Great Conestoga Road dates to 1684 when the path was known as the Allegheny Path and used by various Indian tribes to trade with people of Philadelphia in the 1700’s.

Jacob’s next appearance is in the 1830 US Federal Census for Butler, Buffalo, Allegheny Co., PA. Catherine, age 32, is not living with the family in 1830. Where is Catherine?

I first saw her name on second great grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Noel's death certificate. Catherine Hoak was listed as his mother and Peter Noel was listed as his father. Searching for both names helped. Another researcher commented, "Oh, those are the two who married outside the Catholic faith." News to me. I wasn't aware there was a line in the family that was Catholic. She pointed me to two churches to check and also to a compilation of church records, Catholic Vital Records of Central Pennsylvania by Albert H. Ledoux. The entries told a story.

Based on the marriage records, it appears that Peter Noel was Catholic and Catherine Hoak was Protestant. This is based on the marriage records compiled by Ledoux. Today the couple would be allowed to be married in the Catholic Church as long as the fiancé agreed to allow the children to be baptized as Catholic, and also agreed not to interfere with their religious practices, education, etc.

This looks as though it holds true for the 1800's also. But, better yet, in the eyes of the Catholic Church, Catherine converted to Catholicism by being baptized on her wedding day, 20 December 1829. Since they were the parents of Jacob, born in 1826, it is most likely that Peter Noel and Catherine Hoak were married in a civil service before Jacob was born. Records of that marriage have not been found. Regardless of a civil service or a service in the Protestant Church, there was undoubtedly some pressure from the Noel family for Catherine to convert to Catholicism and to have Jacob baptized in the Catholic Church. The Noels were staunch Catholics.

Jacob Noel was born in 1826, but not baptized until after his parents' marriage was recognized in the Catholic Church. The Catholic marriage date was 20 December 1829. Jacob would have been three years old. If Catherine converted so that Jacob could be baptized, it is odd that they would wait eight months, until the 1st of August 1830, to baptize Jacob along with his baby sister Margaret.

Is there a mystery here to solve? What was actually happening? Could Jacob have been born to Peter and a "first wife"? Probably not, as the parents on the baptismal record are listed as Peter and Catherine. There is definitely some sort of mystery. The entries by Ledoux for Peter and Catherine became even more curious.

The two entries below are evidence of many puzzle pieces: the marriage of Catherine Hoak and Peter Noel, Catherine’s baptism, her date of birth, and the names of her parents, Jacobi and Hannah Hoak.

Catholic Vital Records of Central Pennsylvania by Ledoux

Vol. 1, p. 156, St. Michael's, Loretto

#03271 NOEL, Petrus (parents omitted) m. 12-20-1829 Catharina HOAK (p.o.)

(dispensation obtained from disparity of cult) DAG


Catholic Vital Records of Central Pennsylvania, by Ledoux

Vol. 1, p. 89, St. Michael's, Loretto

#01887 HOAK, Catharina (Jacobi/Hannah) b. 04-10-1798 bp. 12-20-1829 gp:

omitted/omitted Noel, wife of Abraham DAG


The baptismal entries for three of Peter and Catherine's children are listed below. They are confusing and raise questions.


Catholic Vital Records of Central Pennsylvania, by Ledoux

Vol. 1, p. 91, St. Michael's, Loretto

#01945 NOEL, Jacob (Petri/Catharinae) b. 03-13-1826 bp. 08-01-1830 gp: Simon

Noel/Maria Noel DAG


Jacob’s baptismal record shows the grandparents (gp) as Simon Noel and Maria Noel. That is a new piece of information. The entries for Peter and Catherine’s daughters, Margarita and Elisabeth, however, are very curious. It is not possible for the two girls to be born in the same year two months apart.


Catholic Vital Records of Central Pennsylvania, by Ledoux

Vol. 1, p. 91, St. Michael's, Loretto

#01947 NOEL, Margarita (Petri/Catharinae) b. 06-19-1829 bp. 08-01-1830


Catholic Vital Records of Central Pennsylvania, by Ledoux

Vol. 1, p. 88, St. Michael's, Loretto

#01868 NOEL, Elisabeth (Petri/Catharinae) b. 08-19-1829 bp.  10-10-1829 bp. Rev.

D. A. Gallitzin/Maria Magdalena Noel, wife of Abraham


In analyzing the entries, it is possible that transcription errors were made in the Ledoux books. The two girls could not be born on the same day two months apart. Per the transcribed records:
  • Margarita is baptized the same day as Jacob in 1830. 

  • Margarita and Elizabeth have a birthdate of the same year, 1829, two months apart. 

    • Is there a transcription error?  Could the "4" have looked like a "9" causing the error?

    • Or, is it possible the girls were twins, one was sickly causing her to be baptized later, with an entry error as to the month of birth?

  • Elizabeth was baptized in 1829, two months prior to Catherine’s being converted by baptism and marrying Peter in the Church. If Catherine converted and was married in the Church so the children could be baptized in the Catholic Church, why was Elisabeth baptized in the Church before those events?

  • Simon and Maria Noel are the grandparents.

  • Maria Magdalena Noel is listed on Elizabeth's baptismal record. It is reasonable to consider her as the grandparent, since Maria Noel is listed on Jacob's baptism as a grandparent.  

It is easier to view the above activities in a timeline.

Date

Name/Event

13 March 1826

Jacob - Birth

19 June 1829

Margarita - Birth

19 August 1829

Elisabeth - Birth

10 October 1829

Elisabeth - Baptism

20 December 1829

Peter and Catherine - Marriage

20 December 1829

Catherine - Baptism

1 August 1830

Margarita - Baptism

1 August 1830

Jacob - Baptism


Might the errors be a result of record keeping on the early frontier? The records place Catherine in Loretto, Cambria Co., PA. Cambria County, Pennsylvania was largely frontier and mostly unsettled. It wasn’t until 1806 that Cambria County was established. Cambria is the ancient name for Wales and was initially settled by the Welsh.


Father Gallitzin arrived in the area in 1799 to serve the population of 12 families as well as travel to other small villages to provide religious services. He mentions in his journal that as he traveled from place to place he sometimes lost the scraps of paper on which he had the marriage or baptism information recorded. Could lost notations be the case? Was it a transcription error made by Ledoux? Further research was definitely required.

In searching for another source, I found a digitized copy of the Souvenir of Loretto Centenary, 1799-1899 by Ferdinand Kittell. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Loretto Church, Ferdinand Kittell included the church history for its first one hundred years, as well as a transcription of the marriages and baptisms performed by Father Gallitzin who founded the Church at Loretto.

Kittell’s transcribed entry of baptisms and marriages made by Father Gallitzin answered the question of birth dates and baptism dates for the Peter and Catherine Noel family.


The entry reads:

Noel, Peter and Catherine

Margarita, Jacob, Elizabeth

1824-1829


Each of the entries in the Centenary lists the names and births of the children from the oldest to the youngest. In this case, Margaret the oldest born in 1824 and Elizabeth the youngest born in 1829. The birth date mystery was solved. It was an error in transcription, undoubtedly, the numeral 9, in the old German script, looked like a 4 to the transcriber. The three Noel children were Margaret born in 1824, Jacob born in 1826 and Elizabeth born in 1829. The records also show that all three children had been born prior to Catherine converting to Catholicism and her marriage to Peter in the Catholic Church.

The 1830 US Federal Census lists the family in Clearfield, Cambria County, Pennsylvania.

1830 U.S. Federal Census

Locality:  Clearfield, Cambria County, Pennsylvania

Page




Line




Head of Family


Free white persons, including heads of families

0-

5

5-

10

10-15

15-20

20-30

30-40

40-50

50-60

70-80

80-90

90-100

100 & c

195


Peter Noel Junior

Male

  1




1








Female

1

1

1



1







1830 United States Federal Census Pennsylvania,Cambria Co., PA, (Clearfield, Cambria County, Pennsylvania), Page 195; Peter Noel; (http://ancestry.com : digital image 5 of 6; accessed April 2013), Provo, UT M19; Roll: 161; Page: 195; citing Family History Library Film: 0020635

There is an additional female between ten and fourteen who could be a niece or a helper since there would be a new baby, Elizabeth.

The Noel family moved to Allegheny County sometime after the enumeration of the 1830 census but before the birth of their fourth child, Benjamin, who was born on Christmas, 1834, in East Deer Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

In the 1840 United States Federal Census the enumeration shows that the family had settled in East Deer Township, Allegheny County, PA. The family group changed in ten years. The Noel household was now a family of six.

1840 U.S. Federal Census

Locality  East Deer Township, Allegheny County, PA

Page

Line

Head of Family


Free white persons, including heads of families

0-

5

5-

10

10-15

15-20

20-30

30-40

40-50

50-60

70-80

80-90

90-100

100 & c

83


Peter Noel

Male


2





1






Female

1


1




1






1840 United States Federal Census Pennsylvania,Allegheny Co., PA, (East Deer Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania), Page 4; Peter Noel; (http://ancestry.com : digital image 11 of 22; accessed April 2013), Provo, UT Roll: 439; Page: 83; citing Family History Library Film: 0020536

1840 US Federal Census

East Deer Township, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania

Males

40 - 50 Peter Noel (abt 1806)

5 - 10 Jacob (1826)

Benjamin (1834)

Females

40 - 50 Catherine (1798)

0 - 5 Henrietta (1840)

10 - 15 Elisabeth (1829)


The count matches what would be expected for the family except one female, their daughter, Margaret is missing. She would have been sixteen. It is presumed that she died between 1830 and 1840 as no records can be found for her after her baptism in 1830.

The list shows two males between 5 and 9 which matches for Benjamin but not for his older brother, Jacob, age 14. Since it is unknown who provided the information to the enumerator, it is presumed that there is an error in judging the age of the young male or just in recording in the correct column. The census indicates that Peter works in mining.

Catherine and Peter are enumerated in the 1850 US Federal Census for East Deer Township, Allegheny County, PA. Peter is listed as a coal digger and Benjamin as a laborer. Benjamin, undoubtedly, is working in the coal mines, as that was his occupation in future census records as well as his Civil War Pension documents.

1850 U.S. Federal Census Population Schedule

Locality  East Deer Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

Enumeration Date 3 September 1850

 

Page

 

House

 

Family

 

Name

Description

Occupation

Value of real estate owned

Place of birth

Additional Information

Cannot read or write

Age

Sex

Color

21

364

364

Peter Noel

46

M


Coal Digger

200

PA

  X




Catherine

51

F




PA





Jacob

23

M




PA


22

364

364

Elisabeth

20

F




PA





Benjamin

15

M


Laborer


PA





Henrietta

11

F




PA



1850 United States Federal Census Pennsylvania, Allegheny County, PA, (East Deer Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania), Population Schedule, p 21-22 (stamped), Line 41, Dwelling 364; Family 364; Peter Noel; (http://ancestry.com : digital image 41 of 50; accessed April 2013), Provo, UT Roll: M432_747.


The last time the Peter Noel family is listed in the census is in 1860. Peter is recorded as being 49 years of age and Catherine is listed as being 64 years of age. Neither of the ages are accurate but close estimates.

There is no record for Catherine after 1862 when she was listed as one of the heirs in her father, Jacob Hoak’s will.

Peter died on 15 July 1865. There has not been a probate filing or a will found for Peter Noel. Peter is buried in an unmarked grave at Prospect Cemetery, Brackenridge, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Prospect Cemetery records show that in 1865 Peter purchased Lot 26, Section E, Spaces 1-8 for $30.00. Many of the Peter Noel family members are interred there.

There is no record that Catherine is buried in Prospect Cemetery. Information about Catherine’s death and where she is buried has not been found. Mention of Catherine in her father’s will in 1862, is the last record mentioning her.

The curious church records for the Peter Noel family made studying Catherine Hoak Noel somewhat confusing and raised many questions. Some of those questions were answered but with others there is certain to be a story that may never be told.










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