Brick Walls

Every genealogical researcher sooner or later runs up against what is known as a “Brick Wall.” In other words, an area of research where, despite all efforts, nothing seems to fit and no further progress can apparently be made. In the case of one-name studies, such as my Titus lines, the brick walls have tended to multiply. I am listing some of them here in the hope that visitors to this webpage will be able to solve some of these puzzles.

Each one of them will provide a unique challenge. I believe the key is to keep working on them from all directions. Noli illegitimi non carborundum.

A nominal index of descendants of these families is contained in the following table.

Brick Wall Index

The index provides the name of each descendant involved in each “brick wall,” the Brick Wall Number, and the relationship of each person. Each Brick Wall Numbers is described below.

Brick Wall Number 1.

One of the unsolved mysteries of the Titus family of North America is the ancestry of John Titus whose descendancy has not yet been determined. All that is known is that he arrived in New Brunswick around 1771 from New York and settled on a land grant at Washademoak, Queens Co., NB, along with a Benjamin and a Silas Titus, who also originated in New York. Church of Latter Day Saints records state that John was the son of a John and Elizabeth Titus, but no source of this data is given except that it was submitted by Kay Beal of 1482 W. Hanks Circle, Farmington, VT, 84025. “Loyalist Families” indicates that John Titus originated in New Jersey.

The following e-mail was received on January 31, 2009. It sheds new light on the New Brunswick line and could narrow down the search.

Hi Bill,
I enjoyed your new webpage.  I thought you might like an update on the Loyalist John Titus.  He can now be clearly placed on Long Island in the 1770s and 1780s.  In his 1805 probate there is mention of a debt to James Ellison of New York, and further digging in N.B. court records has found a suit by Ellison against John Titus in 1793 in which Ellison demanded payment for goods provided in 1780.  Titus was described as being a carpenter, residing at Hempstead on Long Island, at the time of the transaction.  Loyalist John Titus was mentioned as a carpenter in a 1785 land dispute at Little Musquash Island near Washademoak.  Lastly, fellow-reseacher Sandra Thorne has found a record of the baptism of the first three children of John and Elizabeth Titus in the parish register of St. George’s Anglican Church, Hempstead.  I presume his wife was a member of this church.  John Titus was himself said to be a Quaker.  He was not baptised as an Anglican until 1796; this took place in New Brunswick and was recorded in the parish register of St. John’s Anglican Church, Gagetown, as an “adult” baptism. I have no doubt that John and his brother Benjamin belong among the Robert Titus descendants and I am hopeful that further research will confirm the exact connection. 
Best regards, Greg Haley

Another theory has been posed by Jan Zito, who is a researcher of the Dutch Titus line. She believes that the New Brunswick John Titus was actually Jan Titus, grandson of the patriarch of the Dutch Titus line, Titus Syrach De Vries. Nothing is known about him except that he was a Captain in Colonel Richard Van Brunt’s Regiment in the Kings County Militia in 1776. His father Francis’s will reads “I leave to my second son, Jan Titus, all that piece of land I bought of William Latting.” He was to pay 160 pounds to his father’s will executors.

Robert Titus, patriarch of the English line, arrived in the new world in 1635 from London, along with his wife and two children. Three other sons and a daughter were born in the United States. His genealogy is reasonably well documented, but there are large gaps in the lineages of two of his sons, Abiel and Content. It is on the assumption that the New Brunswick John Titus descends from this Robert Titus that generation numbers are accordingly assigned to this genealogical guide.

Benjamin, according to “Land Grants of Loyalists” published by the New Brunswick Department of Transportation, received land at Westfield, Kings Co., NB. (Ononette). He received a subsequent grant in Upper Canada (Ontario) and no further record of him can be found as he probably died before the 1851 census was taken. Census records do, however, include Titus families living in Prince Edward County, Ontario which could be his descendants, as they are listed as having originated in New Brunswick. Further research is necessary. No further reference to any Silas Titus has been found in New Brunswick references.

To further complicate this situation, a couple of researchers in New Brunswick have attempted to shoehorn this John Titus line into the line of Content Titus, in particular to a John Titus that was born around the same time period. That John Titus, however had a wife named Rebecca, not Elizabeth and was said to have moved to New Jersey. Perhaps the city of New Brunswick, NJ was confused with the Province of New Brunswick, Canada.

Work is now being undertaken to recruit male Titus descendants from both the New Brunswick and Dutch lines to undertake Y-DNA testing. The results of these tests could go a long way in determining the origin of the New Brunswick Titus line.

5. John Titus. b. 1732. d. 1804. m. Elizabeth Beadle. She born 1735. m. 2nd ? Elizabeth Dorland (Derlin). John Titus settled in Queens County, New Brunswick near Jemseg. He is said to have come from New York with his brother, Benjamin in 1771. Benjamin moved to Upper Canada in 1800. The NB Royal Gazette on Apr. 24, 1805 records that Jon Titus would be the administrator of the estate of John Titus of Grand Lake, Waterborough, Queens County, NB as of Apr. 19, 1805. This would be Jonathan, John’s son.

Brick Wall Number 2.

This is one of those brick walls that are difficult to solve because the difficulty in finding information that predates the US 1790 census.

7. Nathaniel Titus. b. Jan. 6, 1765 near Morristown, Morris Co., NJ. (86 at 1850 census when he and his wife were living with his son William and family at Hamburg, Erie Co., NY). d. Jun. 8, 1858 in Hamburg, NY. m. Sarah (Sally) Brandow, daughter of Wilhelmus and Eytje (Groom), in 1792. She b. 1777. d. Oct. 2, 1856. The following comments by Ethel Pierce: “Nathaniel Titus, Sr., our great grandfather, had a brother named Benjamin and one sister. His father was an Englishman and his mother was a Dane. His brother settled in the State of Virginia while he came to New York State to live. His father and mother died while the children were young so he was brought up by his grandparents and learned the trade of a hatter. He married Sally Brandow in 1792. She was a native of Athens, Green County on the Hudson River. They lived there a while, then moved to Brantford, Canada where he worked at his trade. Great grandmother was always afraid of the Indians so she kept a butter ladle handy to hit them over the head as she knew that wouldn’t kill them. I have that butter ladle. When a boy he often visited the camp where General Washington was encamped with his army of soldiers during the winter in which they suffered so severely from the cold and lack of supplies. He used to carry things to the army as in a measure they were dependent on the people for any little delicaticies they might need when ill. At one time he happened to be near a tavern where Washington was stopping with a small body of British he had captured on one of his raids. Seeing grandfather, Washington called to him to help look after his prisoners while he went in to dinner. He did so and on coming from his dinner, Washington presented him with a small sword for his help. He was fourteen years old then and he kept the sword as long as he lived and it is known in the family as an heirloom of Washington’s kindness to our grandfather. This sword was taken west by one of the boys and was never heard about since. From Brantford, Canada, our grandfather came to the primitive village of Buffalo in 1801. He took up a tract of land of about forty acres which included most of what is now known as the Terrace. He sold this Buffalo holding and removed to Bay View and kept a tavern. A licence was granted to Nathaniel Titus in 1805 to open a public house at the bend in the lake shore in what is now Hamburg. He sold it in 1818. When Buffalo was laid to ashes by the British and their Indian allies in 1812, the Titus family sheltered many of their former neighbours and friends who were refugees, thankful that kind Providence had delivered them from so an untoward a fate. He did many valiant acts for the defense of Buffalo until the close of the war. He was an artillery soldier in Buffalo and had charge of guns on Niagara Square. He was of a genial disposition and of his many friends were Dr. Chapin and Warren.”

Brick Wall Number 3.

Papers from Chenango County, NY. Generation numbers are approximate, assuming that this line is descended from the Robert Titus line.

Generation 6. Samuel Titus. b. Oct. 26, 1756 in NY. d. Jul. 5, 1810. m. Elizabeth _____. She b. Jun. 11, 1760 in NY. Their children:

7. Marget Titus. b. Jun. 26, 1780;
7. John Titus. b. Jan. 13, 1783;
7. Mary Titus. b. Oct. 12, 1787. d. Oct. 28, 1797;
7. Samuel Titus. b. Nov. 7, 1789 at Washington, Dutchess Co., NY. (69 in 1860, 79 in 1870, 89 at 1880 census when he was a widower and enumerated at North Norwich, Chenango Co., NY). He was a retired farmer in 1880. The 1880 census said that both his parents were born in NY. d. Feb. 14, 1884. Death note says he was son of Samuel. m. 1st Mary (Polly) Duncan, daughter of Solomon and Lucretia (Briggs?), in Dutchess Co., NY. She b. Jun. 30, 1793. d. Jan. 7, 1826. m. 2nd Gertrude (Duncan) Leonard, first cousin of his first wife. She b. Nov. 22, 1796. (60 at 1860 census). d. Aug. 6, 1865.

Brick Wall Number 4.

6. John Titus. The 1840 census has a family of John Titus, age 40-50, enumerated at Washington Twp., Guernsey Co., OH, with one male age 20-30, two females age 10-15, one female age 15-20, one female age 20-30, one female age 30-40, and one female age 40-50. It is likely that the Henry Asa Titus below is his son.

7. Henry Asa Titus. b. ca 1817 in OH. (34 in 1850 at Washington Twp., Guernsey Co., OH, 63 at 1880 census when the family was enumerated at Dayton, Tuscola Co., MI). d. 1894. He was a cooper in 1880. The 1880 census stated that both his mother and father were born in NY. m. Elizabeth Ann Logan, daughter of Alexander and Rebecca (Bothwell), on Mar. 29, 1849 in Tuscarawas Co., OH. She b. ca. 1822 in OH. (27 in 1850, 58 at 1880 census). d. Jan. 15, 1898 at Dayton, Tuscola Co., MI. The census stated that her mother and father were born in OH.

Brick Wall Number 5.

I have been butting up against this brick wall because of curiosity more than anything else. The objective is to link up “Silent John” Titus, the baseball player, to one of the main lines. Through census records I’ve been able to trace him back as far as his grandfather, and that is as far as I’ve been able to go. Here is what I have:

Benjamin A. Titus. b. ca. 1807 in PA. (42 in 1850, 53 at 1860 census when the family was enumerated at New Castle, Schuylkill Co., PA). He was a merchant in 1850. m. Mary Ann _____. She b. ca. 1808 in PA. (40 at 1850 census, 52 in 1860). Their child:

Theodore F. Titus. b. Sep., 1832 at Easton, Northampton Co., PA. (18 in 1850, 28 in 1860, 46 in 1880 at Norwegian, Schuylkill Co., PA, 67 at 1900 census when enumerated at St. Clair, Schuylkill Co., PA, 77 in 1910). He was a policeman in 1880, a night watchman in 1900 and Bourough health officer in 1910. The census indicates that his mother and father were both born in PA. m. Agnes Uren in 1851. She b. Dec., 1833 in England. (44 in 1880, 66 at 1900 census, 76 in 1910, 87 in 1920 when she was living with her son, John and his wife). She came to the US in 1838. The 1910 census noted that she had nine children, five of which were living. Their children:

Emma Titus. b. ca. 1862 in PA. (18 at 1880 census).

Ida Titus. b. ca. 1866. (14 at 1880 census).

Theodore Titus. b. ca. 1869. (11 at 1880 census).

Benjamin Titus. b. ca. 1871 in PA. (9 at 1880 census).

Henry Titus. b. ca. 1873 in PA. (7 at 1880 census).

Silent John

John Frederick Titus. b. Feb. 21, 1876 in PA. (4 at 1880 census, 34 in 1910, 42 in 1920 when they were enumerated at St. Clair, Schuylkill Co., PA). (birth year 1877 in 1900 census). He was a day labourer in 1900 and listed as a ball player in 1910 and living at home. He was listed as retired in 1920. d. Jan. 8, 1943. Buried in IOOF Cemetery, St. Clair, Schuylkill Co., PA. His mother, Agnes was living with them in 1920. m. Ethel Stone Boote. She b. ca. 1897 in PA. (23 at 1920 census).

The May, 1952 edition of Sir magazine features the following article by Jack Kofoed titled “How I Helped Beat The Giants Out Of The 1908 Pennant.” Part of the article, a delightful little story, goes as follows:

“Winter or summer, Titus dressed the same. A derby was set squarely on his head. He wore a heavy worsted suit, and across the vest sparkled a thick gold watch chain. His mustache was black and luxuriant, and he chewed on a cigar, rolling it from one corner of his mouth to the other.

As John strode south on Broad Street, his head was bowed and his eyes searched the sidewalk. Sweat stippled the back of his sunburned neck, drooled from under the derby hat.

I said, ‘Hello, Mr. Titus,’ and he said, ‘Hello, kid.’

‘What are you lookin’ for?’ I asked. ‘You lose somethin’?’

The bristly hairs of John’s mustache twitched in a grin.

‘Nope. I’m lookin’ for hairpins —- ladies’ hairpins.’


‘They’re lucky for me,’ he said. ‘Every hairpin means a hit I wouldn’t get if I didn’t find it.’

That made sense. I wouldn’t walk on the cracks of a sidewalk. If Mr. Titus believed in hairpins, that was all right with me (Jack Kofoed was 13 at the time).

‘The first time I found out about hairpins,’ Titus said, ‘I was playin’ semi-pro ball. I had run into one of them slumps, and wasn’t hittin’ the size of my hatband. I found the pins, and busted a couple over the fence. What would you believe? What would anybody believe? Hairpins is good for me.’

“In the long run, my discovery didn’t do ‘Silent John’ Titus or the Phillies much good. It did, however, win the National League championship for the Chicago Cubs, and snatched the pennant away from John McGraw and his New York Giants!

How could a thirteen-year old kid do anything like that? That’s what I’m going to tell you.

You’ve got to have a picture of the 1908 race to really understand what I’m talking about.

That year was a three team scramble between the New York Giants, the Chicago Cubs, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, The Phillies settled into fourth place. (Kofoed goes on to describe the famous incident where Fred Merkle failed to touch second base in the game between the Cubs and the Giants. In the resulting playoff the Cubs won).

Toward the end of the season, New York came to Philadelphia for a series they counted on to win. I watched (Covaleski) handcuff the Giants on Saturday afternoon. That was fine, but much to my disappointment, ‘Silent John’ did not play much of a part in the victory. He struck out once, and popped out a couple of times. That disturbed me, for I wanted him to finish the season in a blaze of glory, so I could uphold him during dull winter days.

I saw Mr. Titus in front of the Junction House that night. He was alone. John sat in the wooden arm chair, jaws wagging over a chew of tobacco while he fiddled with his watch chain.

‘I hope you get a couple of hits tomorrow, Mr. Titus,’ I said. ‘I sure love to see the Giants licked.’

‘Hope so, too,’ John replied laconically, ‘but it looks like I’m in a slump. Slumps come and go. You can’t tell about ‘em.’

When I went home I decided to do something about it. While mother was working around the spotless kitchen, I slipped upstairs to her bedroom. I hadn’t forgotten the outfielder’s superstition about hair pins. There were several on the dresser, and I slipped them into my pocket.

Sunday dragged. I could hardly wait. Manager Murray had decided to pitch Covaleski against New York again, though Harry would have only a day’s rest. He was as strong as a Percheron brewery horse, and eager to get at the New Yorkers.

It was one of those muggy September afternoons, when even if you sit still in the shade, sweat runs out of your hair, into your eyes, and salt stings them into blinking. I stood by a telegraph pole, half hidden by it, so ‘Silent John’ would not see me. He always took the same route, never varying it by a foot. He would pass directly by this telegraph pole, so I dropped a hairpin there and two more at the entrance of the club house. The luck charm might not work if there were too many of those bits of twisted wire.

When Titus came out of the hotel and started across the street, I ducked into the club house, but kept the door partly open, and watched. Sure enough, he found the pins. A smile stretched his black mustache, and when he sat down to put on his spiked shoes, he was whistling.

In batting practice, ‘Silent John’ smashed three or four drives off the wall, and I was so happy I could hardly breathe. The hairpins had ended his slump, all right. Even a kid can tell from the way a ball player takes his cut whether or not he’s ready. Titus was.

That was forty-three years ago —-a long time to remember anything, particularly a ball game. I don’t recall the score, or who pitched for the Giants, but I do know Harry Covaleski, still rankling with the memories of insults, kept pouring his fast ones in. The bullies—- the great hitters like Donlin and Devlin and Bresnahan — couldn’t do anything.

The Phillies would not have won had it not been for Titus. He had three rousing hits that helped to beat New York — one for each of the hairpins I had dropped.

The Phillies beat the Giants, and satisfaction was our only reward.

So, even Merkle’s failure to touch second would not have mattered if Covaleski hadn’t beaten them, and Covaleski wouldn’t have won had it not been for ‘Silent John’ Titus. And, you can take the word of a kid who was only thirteen years old when it happened, that ‘Silent John’ wouldn’t have had the hits had I not stolen my mother’s hairpins, and dropped them where he could pick them up!”

Brick Wall Number 6.

Arretus Titus. b. Nov. 6, 1858 in Canada. (21 at 1880 census when he was enumerated at Portage, Kalamazoo Co., MI, living with Marion J. and Nell Brownell as a farm labourer). The 1880 census stated that both his father and mother were born in Canada. According to his granddaughter, Bessie Irena, “He was said to be found in Michigan with gunney sacks on his feet, and a piece of paper in his pocket, with his name and birth date on it.” d. Jul. 17, 1920. m. Lillie Belle Curtis on Feb. 16, 1882 at Almena, Van Buren Co., MI. She b. Oct. 10, 1864 at Paw Paw, Van Buren Co., MI. (65 at 1930 census when she was living with her son Daniel’s family). d. Aug. 31, 1941 at Grand Rapids, MI. She m. 2nd Bert Smith.

Brick Wall Number 7.

The Titus family below was evidently from near Binghamton Co., NY and originating in NJ.

Ephraim Titus. b. Sep., 1787 in NJ. d. Nov. 26, 1848 at Windsor, Broome Co., NY. m. Jane Snyder. She b. Dec. 6, 1793. d. Jan. 9, 1880 at Windsor, NY. Their children:

William Titus. b. May 14, 1815.

Loren Titus. b. Jan. 18, 1817.

Julia Ann Titus. b. Sep. 16, 1819.

John Titus. b. Jun. 20, 1825.

Marcus Titus. b. Feb. 8, 1827.

Clarrisa Titus. b. Sep. 22, 1830.

Minerva Jane Titus. b. Sep. 26, 1834.

Brick Wall Number 8

James Titus. b. May 25, 1764 at Washington, Dutchess Co., NY. d. 1846. m. Rheumy Hill ca. 1795.

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