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  • Charlotte V. Groff, PhD

The Harding Township Man Who Never Existed



By Charlotte V. Groff, PhD Originally published in "The Review" in April 2014, Volume 38, Number 1.


In August 2000, I attempted to learn the maiden name of my 5th great-grandmother Abigail who married by 1749 Joseph Fairchild b. 1724. Their first child, Phoebe, was born 17 May 1750. During a trip to the Harding Township Historical Society, I talked to the ladies there who suggested that my Abigail was Abigail Goble b. 18 January 1729, the daughter of Judge Robert Goble. She was living and named as “Abigail” (no last name) in Robert’s 1782 will. I looked at Dorothy Hand Dymond’s book, Genealogy of the Hand Family and Related Families, p. 172, and Ancestry.com, but they all said Abigail Goble had married Simeon Conger b. 1724, the alleged son of Benjamin Conger.

I began to search for a Simeon Conger. He was not listed among the sons in Benjamin Conger’s will. The Conger Family in America, Vols. I and II listed no Simeon Conger born before 1789. No Morristown, NJ area tax list named a Simeon Conger. No military list mentioned him, nor did he have any death or grave list. In short, no primary record existed for this man. However, Joseph Fairchild had tax, military, and earmarks records as well as a reference in The History of the First Presbyterian Church, Morristown, N. J. Part II. The Combined Registers, From 1742 to 1885, p. 70 which said, “Fairchild, Abigail, wid. Joseph; d. 2 July 1806, aet 77.”

Where had Simeon Conger come from? The above church records p. 45 said, “Conger, Abigail; m 23 Feb 1749, to Simeon Goble; [& later to Ebenezer Stiles.]” Another entry on that same page said, “{Conger, Benjamin. {Experience —- [2d. w. Benj.?] L. About 1756; d. 30 Sept, 1784, aet. 73. Noah; B. 5 Mar. 1743. David; B 12 Aug. 1744. Lydia B. 17 Aug. 1746; [m. 11 Dec. 1756 to Henry Gobill.]”. Then p. 87 said, “Goble, Simeon [d. 8 Aug 1777, aet 51.] Abigail Conger [dg. Benj., see Appendix]; m 23 Feb 1749; C.6 Jan. 1765; m. 4 May 1778, Ebenezer Stiles, q. v.; [in her father’s will are named two grand dg’s; Sarah and Martha Goble.]”. A note on p. 273 explained that the Appendix was worked on until “the present date, November 1891.” Appendix page 293 says, “Conger, Benjamin, [s, of John, who d. at Woodbridge about 1710 or 1712]; his widow,” d. 30 Sept. 1784 and had, beside those named p. 45. — Daniel, who d. 1 May 1785, aet 57; he had chil’n: Jonas, Benjamin, Zipporah, and Abigail; his w. Mary, d. 22 May 1777, aet. 40. Enoch. Simeon; m. Abigail Goble and had: Sarah and Martha. Benjamin; m. Elizabeth Goble and had. Lydia. Elizabeth.”

Finally, I had traced Simeon to his origin in the Church Register’s Appendix, but note that no Abigail Conger appears in this Appendix list of Benjamin’s children as p. 87 said she would. Instead, Simeon is listed as if he were Benjamin’s son. Abigail is listed under her married name of Goble rather than her maiden name of Conger, while Benjamin Conger’s two granddaughters, Sarah and Martha, are listed with their parents and prove that the Appendix record is actually the record of Abigail Conger, her husband Simeon Goble, and their two Goble daughters. The incorrect entry has caused no end of confusion for genealogist who have assumed that there was a Simon Conger, rather than that the entry referred to the Simeon Goble family. It has been especially hurtful because Simeon Goble had a sister Abigail Goble who NEVER married a Simeon Conger. An added proof came from the Morristown Bill of Mortality 1768-1806. Fifteen Abigails died during that period, but only one, Abigail Fairchild the wife of Joseph Fairchild, was born in 1729–the same year that Abigail Goble was born; thus Miss Abigail Goble and Mrs. Abigail Fairchild were the same person. It has been a pleasure to prove that my 5th great-grandmother was Abigail Goble, wife of Joseph Fairchild, and that Simeon Conger was the Harding Township man who never existed.

Editors note: Dr. Charlotte V. Groff of Berrien, Michigan, was a long-time member of HTHS. She passed away in 2016, aged 83.

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