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In memory of Willis West Hitchcock

"The farther backward you can look the
farther forward you are likely to see."

Winston Churchill

My interest in genealogy has been more than a hobby or recreation although it has provided many hours of enjoyment. It has been my journey to knowing who and what I am and why.

I first became interested in genealogy when I was about twenty-five years old. I had always been curious about my family and its history having had a rather “rootless” childhood. My father was in the United States Air Force. I heard myself referred to as a “military brat,” a somewhat negative term. I attended thirteen schools before I graduated from high school and never really felt connected to any one community. My father’s work was in the defense of the United States so I developed a more “worldly” sense of community. The whole world was my community. We lived in various parts of the United States as well as other countries. Thus I became curious about the history of that community, the United States especially, and the part my ancestors played in its development.

I also was a child of the fifties, which in my opinion was a rather shallow, superficial era for people who were white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant. I grew up feeling there was something missing. The world my “teachers” presented to me was the NOT the world I suspected it to be. World events as I was coming of age in the sixties validated this suspicion as well as events in my personal life.

Through my own personal quest for my ancestors’ history I have also learned that I was taught only a partisan’s view of our country’s history. Much of it has been told in terms of “white men” and not of other people of color or of women. My brother made a profound statement when he gave me a copy of our family’s name genealogy, HITCHCOCK, saying it was “complete.’ I thought to myself “ how could that be? This is just ONE name, the patriarchal name. What about all the grandmothers’ names and their place in history? “

It has been through researching my grandmothers’ and great grandmothers’ names that I have learned many things not taught to me when I was younger.

I have found people of all kinds of character, personalities, and lifestyles. I have tried to present their lives as objective as I could, leaving personal judgments aside. I have gained a great appreciation for their lives and the contribution they all made to not only me becoming the person I am but also to making this country what it is. It is certainly a mosaic of many different colors.

My ancestors were among the first English immigrants in New England, Mid-Atlantic States, the German Palatines, and the Scottish migration in the mid 1700’s into Pennsylvania.

Several lines trace back to English, Spanish, and French Royalty.

The Hitchcocks remained in New England until about 1911 when my paternal grandfather went west to help build the railroad across the continent. He met my grandmother in Salt Lake City.

One part of her family had migrated to Utah with the Mormon migration in the mid 1800’s.

Another line traces back to the settlement of Harford County, Maryland. This family went south and then north into Kentucky and onto Missouri.

My mother’s ancestors were part of the migration to California in the mid 1800’s from the Mid-Atlantic States.

My religious heritage crosses a wide spectrum of beliefs and dogmas ranging from the Puritans to the Quakers, Mennnonites, Baptists, Methodists, Mormons, and “off shoots” of these denominations. We even have a few Catholics.

Most of these people were common, everyday people trying to make a life in an ever-changing world. I feel they were very much like people today. Some were heroes and others unsung heroes and some not so.

Genealogy for me is a pilgrimage through the shadows and into the truth. It is a deeply personal quest as well as being a vehicle for research and learning local history. It is fascinating and it is a rewarding endeavor. That is part of my story.

I will begin with my paternal name, Hitchcock.

The Hitchcock name goes back to William the Conqueror. Not much is known on my immigrant ancestor, Mathias Hitchcock, prior to his emigration to America when he joined the great migration from England to America in the early 1600’s. What I do believe is he was part of the Puritan congregation of St. Stephens on Coleman Street in London, England, in the early 1600’s. He may have moved there from the outer area of England due to economic, political, and /or religious unrest.

England’s economy was in trouble at that time where people outnumbered jobs. Religious strife was also rampant. Other ancestors who were part of this congregation were Thomas Graves, Thomas Nash, Nathaniel Merriman, and Thomas Dewey.

It has been suggested that Thomas Nash made the first clock in America. His son married Rebecca Stone, daughter of Samuel Stone who was an influential minister in Connecticut.

Hertford,Hertfordshire-Discover Hertford Online


Mathias Hitchcock married Elizabeth Nichols whose family came from Wales. The Nichols were shipbuilders for the King. Elizabeth’s nephew Edmund Nichols, settled Rhode Island.

Through marriage the Hitchcock family has contributed in many ways to the growth and development of America. Among the names we find several presidents, Grover Cleveland, being a seventh cousin of my grandfather, Hubert Heaton Hitchcock.

Through the line of Thomas Nash are Gen. Sherman, Mary Lyons who founded Holyoke College, Daniel and Noah Webster, Mark Twain. The Hitchcock Chair was created by Lambert Hitchcock, a descendant of Mathias. One line gives me a Mayflower Pilgrim, Edward Fuller.

Also there are many stories of not so well known heroes such as the Meeks family who were part of the “Underground Railroad” transporting and freeing slaves out of South Carolina into Indiana.

There is also the story of Martha Leonard who was pregnant when captured by the Indians in Massachusetts in 1677 and taken hostage with her three young children. Her husband, Benjamin Waite, a renowned Indian fighter eventually rescued his family along with others in Canada. Their daughter who was born shortly after the rescue was named Canada. Her great granddaughter, Sophia Smith, was the founder of Smith College.

Thomas Graves’s sons were also killed in a massacre at this time in nearby Hatfield, Massachusetts. Thomas Graves of Hartford, CT & Hatfield, MA


 Several notorious women are among my ancestors.

There is Mary Clements, wife of Deacon John Osgood, who was tried and acquitted of witchcraft in Andover, Massachusetts in the late 1600’s.

Mary Osgood


The Tuttle family certainly brings an interesting story to the family where several of William Tuttle’s children were either killed or killed due to mental instability. Sarah & Benjamin Tuttle-Notable Women Ancestors


Also we have our infamous ancestors such as Isaac Chauncey Haight who was among Joseph Smith’s first converts to Mormonism in upper New York State. He was involved in the Mountain Meadows Massacre in the 1840’s.

Haight Family


Isaac Haight married Eliza Ann Price whom he met in England when he was on a “recruitment mission” for the Church of Latter Day Saints in 1850. He failed to mention he had other wives until she was on a wagon train from New Orleans to Salt Lake City.

Their daughter, Marie Antoinette Haight, married Silas Wright West, who descended from Robert West of Baltimore, Maryland. Silas was the grandson of Isaac West and Martha (Patsey) Meeks. Isaac was killed within a couple years of his marriage leaving Patsey with an infant son, William Shelton West. The Wests had migrated south to the Carolinas and westward to Kentucky.

Silas’ maternal grandfather was William McGuire who was a state senator in Missouri. The McGuires were among the settlers who followed Daniel Boone to Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap. William married Susannah Daniel in Clark County, Kentucky.

The McGuire and Daniel families were from Louisa and Middlesex Counties, Virginia, and settled near Boone’s borough, Kentucky, although they were in Clark and Montgomery Counties as well.

The McGuires fought with Daniel Boone at the Blue Licks Battle. A marker has been established honoring James McGuire.

Battle of Blue Licks


Susannah Daniel was the daughter of Christopher Daniel. William and Susannah moved to Missouri. They were a family so typical of many who were split by the Civil War, with brother fighting brother. One of their sons opposed the southern position of succession in Civil War but was coerced into serving on the South's side rather than be sent to prison. Ironically he was captured and died from cruel treatment in a northern prison. His son, John, was killed at the of battle of Glasgow, Missouri, at the age of twenty-one.

William and Susannah McGuire’s daughter, Lucretia, married the aforementioned William Shelton West who had also moved to Missouri where he was a physician. Their son Silas was quite an adventurous man having signed up as a teenager out of Missouri on a cattle run that took him to Montana. He then went to Utah where he made his home in the Cedar City area. He traveled as far as the Philippines and Mexico and eventually moved his family to San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake where the family continued to live until present time. Silas Wright West (1846-1918)


Silas and Marie Antoinette (Height) West’s daughter, Marie Antoinette West, married Hubert Heaton Hitchcock, my paternal grandparents. They had four children who all served in World War II. Their oldest served with the Marines and was a bomb detonator at Nagasaki, Japan, and lived to tell about it although he was declared dead at one time. Their daughter was in the Navy.

Another son served with the Merchant Marines, the unsung heroes of the war. My father served in the Air Force and flew with the Flying Tigers under General Chenault.

Flying Tigers: American Volunteer Group



My mother’s father Harry Guthrie Hansell was the first in his family to earn a college degree and taught the Hoopa Indians in Humboldt County, California.

The Hansells were part of the Quaker settlement in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Family tradition says they were from England. Amos Hansell married Abigail Fox in 1850. She may have been a relative of George Fox, founder of the Quaker religion in England. Harry’s wife Lillian Gilkey was also the first in her family to receive a college degree. The Gilkeys were part of the Scot-Irish migration in the 1700’s into Pennsylvania and southward to the Carolinas and then on to Kentucky. The Deans who married into the Gilkey family were among the first settlers of Maryland in the 1600’s. Deans of Dorchester Website


They were shipbuilders for the most part and came to America in search of commerce. Some of William Gilbert Dean’s sons remained in Maryland. My line descends from his son William Richard Dean. The family was Anglican but converted to Catholicism. William’s grandson Thomas Dean moved westward into Hampshire County, West Virginia before moving on to Kentucky where he was reported to have been the largest slave owner in Mercer County, Kentucky, in the late 1700’s. A nasty lawsuit developed following his death between his second wife and the children of his first wife over ownership of these slaves. Effects of that feud still exist today in that area.

My line of Deans broke from this family and went to Ohio when Thomas’ daughter-in-law, Jane Gilmore-Dean, was widowed in the early 1800’s and went to Coshocton County. Jane and her husband were part of the Methodist Circuit ministry that was moving westward. The subsequent generations continued westward to Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, and as far west as the state of Washington.

My grandfather’s mother was Ellen Louis Guthrie daughter of Alexander Porter Guthrie and Caroline Conrad.

The Conrad family was among the early German Palatine settlers at Germantown, Pennsylvania. The story of the Cunards/Conrads in America begins with Thones Kunders (later changed to Dennis Cunred/Conrad), a dyer by trade and Mennonite by faith,who left Krefeld, Germany, with his wife and three young sons in the summer of 1683.  His home in America was also the site of the first public protest of slavery in the new world.  It is a national historic site today.  His descendents include Samuel Cunard, the founder of the Cunard Shipping Line and Charles"Pete" Conrad, an astronaut of five missions including a walk on the moon in Apollo XII.

Germantown, Pennsylvania
By Betty Randall


Caroline Conrad, who apparently married very young,was disowned by her father, went on to live in a plural marriage with another man after divorcing her first husband. She then left him and her two children and married another man who rode for the Pony Express. She divorced him also after one child. She then married Alexander Porter Guthrie and had by the time she was forty-two ten children and four husbands. Upon Alexander’s death she then married her daughter’s father-in-law, Harry Fox Kingston Hansell, at the age of sixty-three.

The majority of my ancestors led private lives trying to do the best they could to keep body and soul together as a new country was being created. Each and every one of them is part of that story.

I always honor my ancestors on Halloween: Day of the Dead. I also honor them on November 1st, All Saints’ Day, and November 2nd, All Souls Day. And for the others I honor them on April 1st, April Fools’ Day.

Diane Hitchcock-Owens
6198 So. Pike Dr.
Larkspur, CO 80118

For more on my lines go to the following sites.

New England Ancestors

Pioneer Family of Humboldt County, California

Ancestry of Emily Ann Dean

Haight Family

Silas Wright West (1846-1918)

Ancestors of Paul Robert Owens

Carothers Family of Swissvale, Pennsylvania

The Grand Dame

Ancestry of Lillian Gilkey




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