Branch Out Contest Winner: Heidi Hall and Her Elusive Huff
Back to Blog

Back in October, Heidi Hall won our Branch Out sweepstakes and received 20 hours of research time with the ProGenealogists team. Her main request was to verify the ancestry of Martha Huff. ProGenealogists was able to verify links to George Huff, a Civil War veteran, to his father, Nicholas Huff, a War of 1812 veteran, and while no direct evidence was found linking Nicholas to Revolutionary War veteran, Richard Huff, there is strong circumstantial evidence that points to Richard being Nicholas' father. I spoke to Heidi just before I left for RootsTech and she was anxious to dive back into the mystery, but was hoping we could provide her with some possible next steps that could help her prove definitively the relationship between Nicholas and Richard. Here are some thoughts I had: Go Wide The 1840 census shows our target, Richard Huff, living with P.J. (or possibly T.J.) Huff in Ovid, Seneca County, New York. On the second page of that enumeration, it asks for the name of Revolutionary pensioners and happily, Richard appears there next to his twin brother Nicholas, as noted by the enumerator. (Here's to the census takers who go above and beyond!) 20140224Huff1840_1


So we have two brothers living near each other in a cluster of Huff households (beyond the four Huff households shown here, there is a P.A. Huff further down the page). There is most likely a pretty close relationship between these households, so I would dig deep on all of these families and learn as much as you can about them and how they are related. If you can prove a relationship between our Nicholas (who is in Chili, Monroe County, New York in 1840although he married his wife in Ovid in 1808) and a sibling and then prove a relationship between that sibling and Richard, you will have indirect evidence of Nicholas and Richard's relationship.

Church Records

Since the twin Huffs, Richard and Nicholas, both filed for pensions related to their Revolutionary War service, I looked through some of the records for clues that might lead to more information. One thing that caught my eye was an affidavit by Edward Hodge, clergyman. I searched for Edward Hodge Ovid New York and found this RootsWeb page with a history of the Ovid Center Baptist Church. While his affidavit isn't proof positive that the family was a member of his congregation, it's something to bear in mind. A search on WorldCat for seneca county new york baptist church records revealed that Cornell University Library has microfilm of some Baptist church records from that area. I also found A History of the Purchase and Settlement of Western New York on Google books that gives a history of churches in Ovid. It also mentions that the town was settled by immigrants from New Jersey in 1790-1791 who were mostly Dutch. The Dutch reference prompted me to peek at the Dutch Reformed Church records on While Richard and Nicholas don't appear, a lot of other Huffs do. These records might be helpful in sorting out some of the Huff family groups. The New York State Archive also links to several collections of church records. Try searching their catalog for seneca county church records and you'll see these collections.

Search Wider

While researching the Huffs in the area, one thing that became apparent was that there was a group of immigrants who moved from Hillsborough, Somerset County, New Jersey (where Richard Huff hails from), that settled the area around Ovid. In the pension file, the affidavit signed by Abraham Low testifies that, "Abraham Low for himself further says, that he has known the said Richard Huff from a child, born and brought up in the same neighborhood together, and knows that he rendered the services for two years and more in the United States service in the militia as set forth in his said declarations as he served in the same company with him for that length of time or more in the said Revolutionary War." So they were both from Hillsborough, Somerset County, New Jersey, they served together in the war, and at the time this affidavit is being recorded, Abraham Low is residing in Ovid. Clearly they know each other well. Another affidavit is from Luke Covert, also of Ovid. A search for that name in New Jersey hits on a Luke Covert who is on a 1784 tax list in Hillsborough, Somerset County, New Jersey. Whether these men are family or just friends, there is clearly a connection of some sort. Just as they appear in Richard's pension, we should also think about whether Richard testified similarly for one of his neighbors in a pension. What made them all move to Ovid' Look closely at the pensions of both Nicholas and Richard. Note all of the people who testify or are mentioned. Are there connections' Research these families and you may begin to see the pieces of the puzzle come together.

Local History

One last suggestion would be to dig into the history of the areas where they lived. has 14 local and family histories for Seneca County, New York. Look for insights into the area in these titles. Also check out the resources for Somerset County, New Jersey. Learning more about what drew your ancestor to the area (or prompted them to leave) can spark ideas for other avenues to pursue. Congratulations Heidi on your win and best of luck with your search!   Contest Would you like to win your own family history package valued at over $3,000 USD' There are still a few days left in the February Branch Out contest - so enter now for your chance to win!