Who Is Sarah Winkley?

The first person I blogged about several years ago was Sarah Ann Hawkins, daughter of Cornelius Hawkins.  Having a copy of an original New Hampshire marriage record (not the index cards) showing that Cornelius Hawkins had married Sally Brown, I had assumed that she was the mother of his children.  After a lot of searching, I found Sarah Ann’s death record – the index card – and it named her mother as Sarah Winkley.  I also found the record for her sister Eliza, which again listed the mother as Sarah Winkley.  I haven’t yet identified their older sister who was listed in the 1840 census – but younger brother Andrew’s 2nd marriage information names his mother as Sarah W.

Who is Sarah Winkley?

Some on-line trees on Ancestry list her as the daughter of William Winkley and Mary Winkley, being born 22 Feb 1798 in Barrington, NH, dying 7 Dec 1871 in Portsmouth NH. 

Here’s what I know – I have a photocopy of an old marriage record that says that on 5 December 1825, Mr. Cornelius Hawkins and Miss Sally Brown, both of Tamworth, were married.  The record doesn’t name parents.  The “Miss” in the record implies that this is Sally’s first marriage. 

The 1830 census lists Cornelius Hawkins age between 20-30, a woman of the same age, and two females under the age of 10 (presumed to be Eliza and her unknown sister.)

The 1840 census lists Cornelius Hawkins age 30-40, a male under 5 (Andrew) a female 30-40 (his wife), two girls 10-15 (Eliza and ?) and one girl under 5 (Sarah Ann).

The 1850 census names all family members and lists Cornelius as 45, Sally as 50, Sarah as 19, and Andrew as 12.  I know that daughter Eliza was married in 1848, but don’t know what happened to the other daughter.  Sally is sometimes a nickname for Sarah.  Is this Sally the same person as Sarah Winkley? 

From later records, I learned that Eliza Hawkins was born in 1829, so for Sarah Winkley to be her mother, she would most likely have married Cornelius between the 1825 marriage of Sally Brown, and Eliza’s birth. 

The NH vital records show an index card saying that Cornelius and Sally Brown were married 2 March 1860.  The name of the justice of the peace is the same as the original record.  I suspect that the person tasked in 1905 with copying the original information from town records to the state index cards simply erred and (almost) wrote the original date of the recording of the marriage (29 March) and mixed up the year (1826 vs 1860). 

The 1860 census lists Cornelius, Sally, and Andrew, plus daughter Sarah Ann and her new husband and child (which should have been Josephine but they recorded as John.)

The 1870 census lists Cornelius but now calls his wife Mary.  Through the prior census records, his spouse Sally has always been a few years older, but Mary is now listed a year younger.  I don’t know if this is just a discrepancy caused by the passage of time, or if this indicates a different wife for Cornelius. 

I did not find Cornelius and wife in the 1880 census, so I am guessing that they died before it was taken.  I also didn’t find any other Cornelius living in the Tamworth/Albany/Conway area, so believe that the above-listed records all apply to one person. 

CD Hawkins’ headstone is in Portsmouth, NH, and says born in 1805, died in 1800.  It also says Sarah, his wife, born 1800, died 1880.  They are buried with Eliza Hawkins Fuller and family, so I am confident that CD is Cornelius.   I have not been able to find death records for Cornelius or Sarah.  They may have died elsewhere and been buried here as part of Eliza’s family plot. 

Back to Sarah Winkley.  If she is the one listed as dying in 1871, why is her headstone off by nine years?  I know “written in stone” doesn’t make it true, so was this an error made by the stone carver? Or is the record for a different person.

An index of NH births at FamilySearch.org does list the Sarah who was born in 1798, daughter of William and Mary, although the associated image is the index card, not an original record.   The same website has the 1871 death record.  However, if she was Cornelius’ wife, her death record should have listed her as Sarah Hawkins, not Sarah Winkley.  The record shows her as single – other options available on the card were married, widowed, or divorced, and since single was written in, most likely this Sarah Winkley was NOT the spouse of Cornelius Hawkins. 

The parents of this Sarah Winkley died before the 1850 census, so I was not able to find them in a family group.  However, the 1860 and 1870 census shows a Sarah of the correct age, living in the Buzzell family in Barrington.  A little prowling around Ancestry indicates that Sarah had a sister Ann (aka Nancy) who married a Buzzell.  These records are what I would expect to find for a Sarah Winkley who never married, which is what is indicated by her death record.   Finally, the best evidence.  on FamilySearch.org, I found the will for William Winkley, from 1845.  He named his daughters by their married name, but Sarah was called Winkley, indicating she wasn’t married.  The will also described an arrangement William Winkley made in 1840 with his son-in-law Jeremiah Buzzell, for Sarah’s care.  Having made this arrangement for a 40-year-old daughter, I suspect she may have had a mental or physical disabilitity that ruled out the possibility that she would marry and have a family of her own.  Final proof that the daughter of William was not Mrs. Cornelius Hawkins.

So who is the right Sarah Winkley? I have proven that the Sarah daughter of William as shown on  the trees on Ancestry is not the correct person.  I have ruled her out, but that doesn’t bring me any closer to identifying my third-great-grandmother beyond just her name. 

Next step – contact the three tree owners on Ancestry to share the above info (and hope they correct the record) and keep watching for new databases that might help sort this out.



  1. Km Kitsos said,

    March 12, 2014 at 10:01

    From the dates of birth and death, I think Sarah Winkley and Sally Brown are the same person. Where the name “Winkley” comes in, is a mystery

    • sooze471 said,

      March 12, 2014 at 22:06

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I agree it is possible that they are the same person. The Winkley comes from daughter Maria’s death record, from daughter Eliza’s death record, from daughter Sarah’s death record, from son Andrew’s marriage record to his 2nd wife (with one version saying Sarah W, the other saying Sally W.) Another mystery is why does Cornelius’ marriage record – the original version held by the town clerk, not the later index card which has the wrong year, say that he married “Miss Sally Brown”. The mysteries are what makes it fun, although solving the mystery would be even better!

      • Km Kitsos said,

        March 13, 2014 at 06:50

        I can’t find much info on Sally Brown’s parents, Silas and Mary. Do you have any? Thanks

      • sooze471 said,

        March 13, 2014 at 08:43

        Not much – there is a Jonathan M Brown b 23 Jul 1798, Moultonborough, Carroll NH with parents Silas Brown and Mary. Also a Stephen in 1781 in Temple, Hillsborough, NH. There is a Silas Brown, with Mary Pierce, who are parents of Mary Brown Graves b 1811 d 1905. I don’t know if they are all the same family. (from FamilySearch.org). Without revealing personal info, can you tell me if/how we might be related? Cornelius and Sarah’s daughter Sarah Ann is my 2nd great grandmother. I’m always on the look-out for new cousins.

      • Km Kitsos said,

        March 13, 2014 at 12:00

        I’m related through Cornelius D Hawkins mother. Mary Polly Dinsmore. That’s my maiden name. She’s been called so many names. The Dinsmore name was originally Denbo, which her father, Cornelius is known by both Denbo and Dinsmore (Densmore)

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