I noticed on GeneaBloggers website that one of their popular writing prompts is called Matrilineal Mondays. The concept is simple: Post about some one from the female line of one of the families you are researching. I quickly decided it was a great idea and that I would write about Amy Fettie for my first Matrilineal Monday meandering.
Amy’s mother, whose name we still don’t know, is the missing matrilineal link for my husband’s mother’s family. Amy was of French or Swiss French descent based on a MtDNA test done by a female direct descendant of Amy Fettie.
We don’t know a lot about Amy Fettie but my sister-in-law and I are obsessed with finding out where she came from, when exactly she was born, who her parents were, did she have any siblings, and where she is buried? We spend endless hours speculating on her origins and often find ourselves traveling down dead ends as we continue on our search to find out about her parentage. The mid-1700s is a time period that was well documented for New York and the surrounding colonies. Staten Island, where her husband’s family had lived since the late 1600s is well researched and most of the islands church and civil records held by the Staten Island Historical Society were catalogued and indexed in a WPA project during the 1940s and later microfilmed by the Latter Day Saints. I have searched most every microfilm record I could find for Amy Fettie, her husband, and her descendants, as well as collateral lines of the family. Knowing how easy it is to miss an important fact or clue I will just have to look through them all again. A person doesn’t just pop up out of thin air!
While we have no portraits of Amy, I did recently find a reproduction of a oil painting of her son, Captain Henry Fountain, that was painted by an English artist who was living in New York at the time (Source: Ancestry.com). This painting hung in the Fountain House Inn, Shore Road, West New Brighton, Staten Island, NY, which Capt. Henry Fountain and his brother John Vincent Fountain owned and ran. The building unfortunately no longer exists.
As I look at Henry’s portrait I try to imagine what his mother and sister looked like. In my imagination Amy and her mother have the same dark hair and eyes and very fair skin as Henry.
It’s been difficult to find any records for Amy Fettie (est. 1748 – est 1793). The surname FETTIE seems almost non-existant in New York and New Jersey in the records of that time period. The first vital record for her is her marriage bond to Vincent Fountain (1748 – 1819) dated 2 June 1772 (source: NY Marriage Bonds).The record does not give any indication as to exactly where the marriage took place — was it on Staten Island, or perhaps Manhattan? All we know from this record is that it was in New York State. Extensive searches of the available church records for Staten Island have yet to yield more details that might give us a clue as to where and when Amy was born, or any other details of her life other than her marriage to Vincent and the birth of her children.
Amy and Vincent had 4 children together: Their first child Anthony was born a respectable 10 months after their marriage (4 March 1773 – 21 Jan 1844). John Vincent was born nine years later (1782 – 4 Sep 1861) and then about a year later Henry was born (1783 – 28 May 1863). After a four year gap their daughter Mary was born (27 Dec 1787 – 13 Feb 1842). It is Mary who is the next female in this matrilineal line. Some family trees published online show Mary Fountain as the daughter of Vincent’s second wife but this is not accurate as she was born six years before their marriage. Mary became the wife of Abraham Van Pelt, a member of another old-time Staten Island family with roots going back to late 1600s.
When Vincent Fountain was enumerated in the first US Federal Census, taken in 1790, two females were in his household. Only Vincent’s name is mentioned however the census indicates that along with other male members of the family there were two females in his household, who we can assume were Amy and their 3 year old daughter Mary. This is the last record I can find in which Amy was alive.
The next vital record found for the family is for Vincent Fountain and it is dated four years after the census was taken. On Feb. 25, 1974, Vincent married Elsey Jennings aka Alice Jinnings (1768 – 1841) at Moravian Church, New Dorp, Staten Island, NY. Vincent and Elsey had six children together, and presumably she filled the role of step-mother to at least the younger two of Amy’s children. The Fountain family on Staten Island was always fairly well off and both Vincent and Elsey are mentioned in various deeds of land transactions. Vincent’s accidental death was well reported in the New York Post and other newspapers. While Vincent’s funeral was held at St. Andrews Episcopal Church he was buried at Moravian Cemetery in New Dorp. His wife Elsey, who died some twenty years later was buried with him. This fact was confirmed by Richard L. Simpson, historian at Moravian Cemetery. Mr. Simpson was not able to tell me whether Amy Fettie Fountain was buried there or not. Most likely she was laid to rest in family burying grounds that have since been obliterated, like so many others on the Island.
I will continue to search for information on this matrilineal line and hopefully will be able to add a post script one day in the near future.