For a family historian, finding a story-rich obituary can be like receiving long lost money from an unknown great-aunt! We knew that with CNN Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper's tree, we needed to find some of that bank roll' to fill in the blanks within his ancestors' Colonial story.
One of the first obituaries we found gave insight on the life of Jake's 5th
great-grandfather, Solomon Huff, and why he may have been a founder of the Hay Bay Church, the first and now oldest Methodist building in Canada.
Published the day Solomon died in 1828, an excerpt from his obituary reads:
?In 1788 he moved from the United States to this Province, and settled on Hay Bay. He was the first person in the wilds of Fredericksburgh and Adolphustown that devoted the Lord's Day to religious purposes. On Sunday Morning he would call in his neighbors and sing and pray with them. He was appointed a Methodist class leader at an early day and remained such as long as he was able to get to the house of worship, in which situation he was useful and much esteemed.
Information written by Solomon's contemporaries, those who knew him and interacted with him on a regular basis, was invaluable to the story of who Solomon really was. His religious fervor directed not only his life, but even in death. The obituary continues:
?A few moments before the breath left his body, he raised both his hands, and clasping them together, with his eyes lifted towards heaven, and a cheerful countenance, delivered up his spirit to that God which gave it.
Through the lens of this almost 200 year-old obituary, it was not difficult to see why Solomon was a founder of the Hay Bay Church and was honored as an important and valued member of his community.
Another amazing obituary we found was for Jake's 7th
great-grandfather, Englebert Huff. Englebert was quite the character, with a life lived so large that it made the news all the way to London. Even a local paper, The New Hampshire Gazette
of 1765, printed a lengthy obituary for him just a month after his death:
The New Hampshire Gazette, 1765
In this article, Jake learned that his ancestor died from a fall. Other articles expounded that the fall was from a horse and stated that Englebert was described as "a man of considerable local celebrity for his scholarship and dashing horsemanship." At the time of his death, Englebert had excellent health, was of honest principle' and was reported to have lived until the ripe old age of 128!
Whether truth or tale, this obituary gold' gives us a peek into the colorful life of Jake's ancestors and sheds light on the kind of man he was'a popular and enigmatic storyteller. One could say the apple didn't fall far from the tree, even nine generations later with his grandson, Jake Tapper.
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