Search For:
Exact phrase Any word All words


Unsolved Mysteries



Abigail Phelps    
m. Eli Winchell

William Day       
m. Abigail Woodward

Peter Bankert - Friedrichsberg, Prussia


Abigail Phelps. b. 1769, prob. CT, d. Granville, MA, 1845

Abigail Phelps and Her Descendants

m. Eli Winchell, 1790, prob. Granby, CT

For nearly 5 years I have been searching for the parents of Abigail. The Winchell Genealogy gives the wife of Eli Winchell as Abigail Phelps but shows no parents. As yet, I have found no record of the marriage or her possible parentage in Granby. I have developed a number of theories which might fit, however I have yet to find a solid connection.

My most promising theory is that Eli's wife is his 2'nd cousin, a daughter of Alexander Phelps and Abigail Winchell. Abigail (Winchell) is the daughter of Martin and Lucy Winchell. Her grave-stone located in East Granby cemetery shows that she died 4 May 1773 in her 26'th year, the widow of Alexander Phelps and daughter of Ens. Martin Winchell and Mrs. Lucy Winchell.

Knowing that Eli's wife, Abigail Phelps, was b.c. 1769 (age at death), and that Eli and Abigail named two sons Alexander, I began searching for any possible children of Alexander and Abigail (Winchell) Phelps. Carol Laun, of the Salmon Brook Historical Society, searching probate records, found that there were indeed two daughters from this marriage, named in the will of Martin's widow, Lucy Winchell, as ABIGAIL and Sarah.

Now that we had an Abigail Phelps born in the correct time frame and located in the right vicinity (East Granby, Turkey Hills), we set about trying to find a connection through Alexander Phelps. This has proven to be very difficult. Alexander's parents are unknown and we have found few records of him in Granby or Windsor. A possible lead is that in 1771 Alexander and Ebenezer Phelps jointly bought 81 acres of land in Windsor (WLR 1467). As it turns out, 22 years later, Ebenezer's son, Horace, is a witness to a land purchase by Eli and Abigail (Phelps) Winchell shortly after their marriage. This land deal raises the probability that Alexander and Ebenezer were related and possibly brothers. This Ebenezer is probably the same born 30 Apr 1741 to Nathaniel Phelps in Simsbury.

Eight months after the death of his wife, In January of 1774, Alexander sells his share of the above land to Joseph Forward of Simsbury. After this conveyance we have yet to find any record of Alexander in Windsor or Granby. We do, however, find an Alexander Phelps listed at least six times in "Connecticut Men in the American Revolution". We could theorize that a young widower with two small daughters may have left to find his fortunes in war, possibly leaving his two daughters with his in-laws, Martin and Lucy Winchell. Where he resided after the revolution, if he survived, is not known. We are seeking any further information on him.

So, while we have some promising theories, the true identity of Abigail Phelps, b.c. 1769 and married to Eli Winchell in 1790, remains a mystery.

If you have ANY information which can help, please contact me. e-mail

William Day b.c. 1743, d. 20 Oct 1783 East Haven, CT

William Day and His Descendants

m. Abigail Woodward 14 Nov 1771, New Haven, CT

The origin of William Day of New Haven CT remains unknown and he left few records to guide us.  The descendants of his children, William and Samuel Day of Day St. in Granby CT, and those of Mary (Day) Landcraft of New Haven descend from William Day and his wife Abigail (Woodward) Day of New Haven. 

William Day was b.c. 1743 (age at death).  Our first record of him is his marriage at about the age of 28 to Abigail Woodward in New Haven on 14 Nov 1771.  On 13 Nov 1773 William and Abigail Day sell 6 acres of land in East Haven at Long Point to Azariah and Dan Bradley for £16.  This is ½ of a parcel, the other half having been previously conveyed to the Bradley’s by Abigail’s mother in 1772 for £26.  This land almost certainly came into the hands of William and Abigail through her mother, and not through a Day connection. 

William probably did not serve in the American Revolution and, in fact, may have had some loyalist tendencies.  In August of 1779 William’s name appears on a list of those to “examine into reasons of conduct of those persons who continued in town at the time said town was in possession of the enemy”.  Apparently his explanation was sufficient to justify his “conduct in tarrying in town at said time”. 

In 1782, William Day of East Haven is taxed at the rate of 36-10-0.  Our next record of him is his death in East Haven on 20 Oct 1783 of bilious fever at age 40.  I have been unable to locate any probate record for William.   He may have had nothing to probate if my assumption is correct that his land holdings were actually through his wife and mother-in-law. 

William’s wife was Abigail Woodward, daughter of Samuel Woodward (Peter, Peter, Peter) of New Haven and Abigail Lamson (Joseph, Joseph, Joseph, Barnabas) of Simsbury.  Abigail probably remained in New Haven after her husbands death until her children approached adulthood and then she, along with her mother, removed to her mothers native Simsbury (Granby) probably about 1795, although she was called of East Haven in 1798 when she deeded 9 acres in East Haven to George and Mary (Day) Landcraft (her daughter). 

Where’s the Day Connection

With virtually no evidence to back it up, my best guess is that our William Day descends from either Robert Day of Hartford or Ralph Day of Dedham, MA.  However, as New Haven is a coastal town and subject to more transient residents than an interior town might be, I can’t discount any possibility. 

Robert Day of Hartford?
Family location in New Haven and Simsbury would seem to point to the possibility of inter-action with descendants of Robert Day of Hartford but I have been unable to trace a William Day which might fit.  One possibility might be William Day (William, John, Robert) of Hartford, the son of William and Elizabeth (Andrews) Day.  This William had a brother named Samuel (our William named a son Samuel), and was b. 1718 in Hartford and d. 1758 “in Army”.  He is buried in Center Ch, Hartford.  He would be the right age to father our William c. 1743, but I am unaware if he was married or had children. 

Ralph Day of Dedham?
Although I have not found any Day connections to the Lamson or Woodward lines in this family.  The Woodward line originates in Dedham, MA.  Abigail (Woodward) Day’s grandfather, Peter Woodward (Peter, Peter) was in New Haven by 1725 but was born in Dedham and his grandfather was an original settler of Dedham.  Another original settler of Dedham was one Ralph Day.  This raises the possibility that our William might have descended from a line other than that of Robert Day of Hartford.  Ralph Day did leave descendants, some of whom located in Walpole, MA, but I am unaware of any thorough account of his descendants.

If you have ANY information which can help, please contact me. e-mail

Peter Bankert b. 17 Sep 1829 of Friedrichsberg, Prussia


m. Marie Czarkowski AKA Gertrude Cheska (Cheskey) circa 1858

     Peter Bankert is the origin of our Bankert surname in America.  Born in 1829, Peter, a tailor, was approaching 51 years of age when he left *Friedrichsberg, Prussia to come to the United States with his wife and three of his four sons.  The ship departure list from Hamburg Germany lists Peter, his wife Marie [Gertrude], and their three youngest sons, John, Anton and Frank.  The eldest son, Albert, was already in America and living with the family of Valentine Dux.  Valentine Dux, of West Prussia, had married Wilhelmina Bankert in Germany prior to their immigration to the U.S. five years earlier in 1875. Wilhelmina was born in 1855 but was not a daughter of Peter of Gertrude Bankert.  The fact that Peter's son was living with the family prior to the Bankert's immigration shows a close relationship and I'm guessing that Wilhelmina was a niece of Peter Bankert.

     On September 12, 1880, Peter and his family boarded the ship "Vandalia" in Hamburg Germany and sailed for America.  The Vandalia was a 2,810 gross ton ship with a length of 330' and a beam of 39'.  The nine year old vessel was of iron construction with a single screw capable of making 11 knots.  It also had two masts rigged for sail.  Sailing under Capt. Fischbein, Peter and his family traveled in steerage along with the vast majority of passengers and arrived in New York 15 days later on the 27'th of September. 

     By the following July the Bankerts are in Utica NY and they probably moved to Utica immediately upon their arrival in America.  Their first residence in 1881 was at 182 Court St., next door to Valentine and Wilhelmina (Bankert) Dux. By 1882 they are located on Parker St. in West Utica where Peter and his wife would reside until their death.  It's possible that Gertrude's brother may also have influenced the families decision to come to America and Utica.  Charles Cheskey, named as a brother at the death of Peter's wife in 1906, had emigrated to America about 1872 (1900 census), eight years prior to the Bankerts.  In 1900 Charles is living at 51 Parker St. a few doors from Peter and his wife who are then residing in the home of their son, Albert, at 33 Parker St.

     Over the next decade Peter and his family settled into their new neighborhood in West Utica living among neighbors who were almost exclusively of German origin and language.  They were deeply involved with St. Joseph's Church which was also almost exclusively German.  All four sons became naturalized citizens and by 1891 only Frank, the youngest, had yet to marry a local German girl. 

     Albert, John, and Anton had followed their fathers trade as a tailor.  Albert owned a tailor shop on Parker St. employing up to 14 workers making overcoats and suits for H. H. Cooper & Co. and other clothing firms, Peter, his father, also worked with him for many years.  John was a cooper in 1882, but thereafter is listed as a tailor.  Anton worked as a tailor for H. H. Cooper & Co. from where he retired in 1924.  Frank had taken a different path and, after working as a cigar maker, in 1892 was in partners with Andrew Alsheimer, brother of Anna Alsheimer who had married Frank's brother, John, in "Alsheimer and Bankert", supplying coal and wood from their office at 70 Varick St.  In 1899, Frank was running a successful coal and wood business for himself with an office below his home at 164 Colombia St. and another office on Canal ST.  In August or September of 1899, Frank married Anna Heidel of Waterville.  Two months later, on November 28, 1899, Frank died after being ill for about 3 weeks, leaving his new bride a widow. Frank willed his estate to his wife with the exception of $500 which he left to his parents, Peter and Gertrude, and a stipend to St. Joseph's Church.

     Albert married Sophia Haak in 1884 and they had five children.  Their sons Frank and Albert would marry and have children.  Willie would die at age 4 in 1892 and another son Philip died in 1925, unmarried, at age 35.  Their daughter Amelia died unmarried in 1945.  Albert resided at 1129 Parker St. when he died in 1939 at 79 years of age, His wife Sophia had died in 1927.

     John married Anna Alsheimer about 1899 and had two daughters.  Emma M. who married William E. Evans and had at least two children, and Hilda who died unmarried in 1967.  John resided at 1001 Brayton Park Pl. when he died in 1936 at the age of 75.  John's wife, Anna had died previously in 1918.

     Anton married Helen Hamberger in 1891 and had four sons.  Norbert, Raymond, Anthony and Albert.  All four would marry and, with the exception of Anthony who remained childless, have children.  Anton had resided with his family at 1108 Orchard St. but had moved to 23 Parkside Court before he died in 1944 at the age of 80, his wife, Helen, had died in a car accident in 1939 at the age of 72.

     Peter's wife is called "Marie" in official records, and her last name is Czarkowski in church records, but seems Americanized to Cheskey or Cheska in civil records. During their lifetime, Peter and Gertrude would bury 7 of their 10 children.  It appears that they had lost 6 children by the time they left for America. Throughout their life in their new home-land they stayed close to their German friends and relatives.  20 Years after their arrival they still spoke exclusively in their native tongue and could not read, write, or speak English (1900 census).  Peter died in 1909 at the age of 80.  Gertrude died in 1916 just short of her 85'th birthday.


     In the 1800's Prussia encompassed an area extending from the North Sea along the entire southern coast of the Baltic Sea.  This would include areas now recognized as parts of today's' Poland and Russia.  There are at least three Friedrichsbergs in today's' Germany which would have fit in the Prussia of the 1800's.  One is located very near Berlin, another is more central and south of the town of Hanover, and another is north of Hamburg near the town of Kiel a little south of Denmark.  Valentine Dux, who married Peter's niece, was of "West Prussia" which might narrow down the possibilities.

     A possibility for further research is to find obituaries of the immigrants and hope that they specify a town other than Friedrichsberg to help narrow the search.  Charles Cheskey (1844-abt.1928) is the brother of Marie/Gertrude Czarkowski/Cheska, the wife of Peter Bankert, and his obit might be able to give us an indication of their family origin.  Johanna (1848-aft.1900), the wife of Charles Cheskey  married Charles in Germany which could make her obituary informative.

     The records of St. Joseph's Church in Utica could help answer many of these question.  Unfortunately, their records are not available for public examination.

The Children:
And what of the 6 children buried in Prussia (Germany)?  How did Peter lose so many of his children??

If you have ANY information which can help, please contact me. e-mail