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Samuel Carbis, Family Tales

15 Jan., 2010

:: Virginia Carbis photo

Thanks for the comment.  It sounds like we must be cousins
of some kind.  If you have any information on Virginia’s
parents, Samuel Carbis and/or Mary Ann Logan  I would love
to hear from you.  According to family lore, Samuel Carbis
ran away from home in England as a young boy and came to the
US as a cabin boy on a ship.  He later worked on either the
Mississippi or Ohio River as a captain, pilot or master of a
river boat (I’m not sure which, but each is a separate and
distinct position).  So far, I haven’t been able to document
any of this; it’s just based on what stories have been
passed down.  You said you have seen this photo before.
Where was that?  Do you have, or know of, any other photos
of the Carbis family?


Jan. 15, 2010

Hello Mike,

To answer what most likely must be your first question, no, I have no photos of the
Carbis family. In fact, until a few years ago, no one knew that *Carbis* was a family
name, we had only heard stories of a multiple great grandfather working on riverboats/
steamers, out of PA.

I tracked down the photo of Virginia Burd after many a Sunday of trying to find out
anything about the Carbis family. A Google search of Carbis- steamships led me to some
place which carried magazine articles. An article about Virginia Carbis Burd ( who by
then I knew was Maggie’s sister) and her husband, Simeon Burd, appeared in a certain
Civil War journal, an article about the old photos taken.  However, the old photos were
not on line. At that time.

I spent a lot of money on Ebay buying a three foot high stack of Civil War magazines and
finally could see the sister of *my* Maggie Carbis- *your* Virgina Burd.

As I now live in The Netherlands, that was some hefty postage, but it was very much worth
it, to see Virginia Burd, for trying to track down Maggie was very hard indeed and simply
being able to see her sister told me many things.

Right now I am on a hiatus from trying to search for *roots*, too many brick walls, as
they are called, which are complicated by the fact that I live in The Netherlands.

However, I do have a website where I stored what I found: http://robertkerlin.com/wp/ .
Unfortunately, regarding the Carbis family in Pittsburgh,
http://digital.library.pitt.edu/pittsburgh/ has changed all of their links.One can see,
if one really looks through maps and Census reports, that Samuel Carbis and Mary Ann
Logan not only seem to have had a good amount of money, but were also very protective of
their daughters ( I cannot, at this moment, remember if there were three or four), for
they usually had homes right next to each other. One portion of a map is still on my
site, showing the Burds living right next door to the Carbis family.
http://www.robertkerlin.com/images/carbis_map_1872_l.jpg   . Carbis is misspelled as well
as Burd, but they are living right off of 21st St. , on the right.

Mary Ann Logan Carbis also seems to have spent her twilight years living with yet another
daughter, Pauline Carbis Gelstin, in Derry PA ( http://robertkerlin.com/wp/?p=50 ) . I am
rather sure that Samuel Carbis died between 1872 and 1880, but a request to the Mormons
came back  empty and with the query if I was sure that he died in PA.

Ok, it was a logical gamble.

I have been able to track back Maggie Carbis to 1850 (
http://www.robertkerlin.com/wp/Census_1850_carbis.htm ), and at  six years old, one finds
Virginia Carbis.

Believe me, this is the same family. If you follow the names that the sisters gave their
children, there is no doubt. Add to that maiden names,the fact that their father was born
in England, Mother in PA and proximity one reaches bingo rather quickly, although purists
might disagree.

I am descended from Maggie Carbis’ son, Samuel Kerlin. While Mary Ann seems to have done
her best to raise him ( for whatever reason, Sam was raised by Mary Ann and Samuel
Carbis, along with- I assume- the long desired son, Henry, whom I think  was named after
Maggie’s departed husband, Henry Kerlin ). Sam Kerlin doesn’t really strike me as the
brightest penny in the purse, but, then again, I don’t  really know anything about the
financial situation in America when he lost the farm that his Grandmother bought for him
due to back taxes .

I have, however, seen photos of the son of Maggie Carbis : he was rather short, dark
haired, and had the saddest face that I have ever seen. He had handsome sons and
daughters with black hair, sparkling eyes and a sense of adventure, which seemed to
compensate for the fact that they were not very attractive. Then again, the concept of
beauty changes over the years.

One finds in the earlier Census reports that the family was living with a Rachel Logan. I
believe that this was Mary Ann’s mother. Rachel Logan is buried next to what might be a
son named William Logan and his wife. It is very difficult to search out the Logans in
PA, Pittsburgh.. There were quite simply too many of them at that time, and that whole
Indian ancestry bit is very hard to track down.  It usually involves a member of the

I am sorry that I cannot give you more information, but perhaps you can find something

20 Jan. 2010

:: Re: Virginia Carbis photo


Yes, I did get your note.  I should have responded earlier,
but I’ve been very busy.  Give me a few days, and when I get
a chance I was going to type up what little additional
information I have on the Carbis family.  Most of it is from
family stories that are not documented, but you might find
it interesting.  I also have some additional questions for
you, but will save them until my next email after I have had
a chance to sort through my family history files.



27 Jan., 2010


you can certainly use the photo of Virginia Carbis.  I tried opening the
link you gave for the photo of Sam Kerlin, but I got a message saying I didn’t
have permission to view the site.

Here is
what I know about the Carbis and Logan families.  Most of this is from undocumented family stories passed down
from generation to generation, but a few small pieces have been

Carbis was born in England about 1812.
He ran away from home at age 9 and signed on board a sailing ship as a
cabin boy.  It is not certain how
long he spent at sea, or if he made more than one trip, but eventually he
arrived in the United States and began working along the Mississippi River.  (Your history of Indiana County says he
was working on the river since 1836, which would put him at about 24 at that
time.  Family tradition holds that
he was a steamboat captain as does the History of Indiana County, but the
census of 1850 says he was a Mate. Perhaps he moved up over the years, but I
don’t know for sure.)  Sometime in
the late 1830s or 1840s he met and married Mary Ann Logan.  (Family tradition claims that her
father was Chief Logan, a full-blooded Tuscarora Indian.  More on him later.)  I only knew about two children;
Virginia Louise (my ancestor 1843-1913 who married Simeon K. Burd 1843-1908),
and Pauline (who married a man named Gelston).  Your information now tells me there were at least two other
children named Maggie and Annie.
Although Mary Ann Logan was a Catholic, Samuel Carbis refused to be
baptized.  According to family
stories, he claimed that in his position as riverboat captain he had to use
strong language to his “darkies” and his mules, and that he could not reconcile
becoming Catholic while using such obscene and blasphemous language.  Samuel Carbis worked for more than 40
years on the river then retired to Pittsburgh shortly after 1880. (He may not
have shown up on some of the earlier census records if he was on the river at
the time the census worker came calling.)
According to information I found many years ago (I can’t remember where
now), he lived on Hatfield, just north of Fiftieth Street.  On his deathbed he converted to
Catholicism and was baptized.  He
died in 1884 and is buried in Saints Simon and Jude Cemetery, Blairsville,

history provides no information about Samuel Carbis’ wife, Mary Ann Logan,
other than her name.  I did not
know when she was born or died, but I see from your data that she was born
about 1822 and lived until after 1900.

I have
no documentation at all about Chief Logan.  Everything I know is from oral family history.  According to family tradition, the
Chief Logan of our family was a full-blooded Tuscarora Indian and should not be
confused with the famous Mingo Indian chief by the same name.  This Mingo Indian had his entire family
massacred by the white men, and he then became a renegade.  He is not our ancestor.  The following, however, is what has
been passed down through the generations.
The Chief Logan of our family was a drifter and traveled
extensively.  Although it is not
known where or when, he met and married a red-headed Irish Catholic
immigrant.  Her name may have been
Mary Coye (or Coyle), but my mother wasn’t sure if this was the right name when
she told me.  Over the years, the
Logans are supposed to have had 17 children.  Most of these were apparently born in the wilderness.  It is also claimed in family legend
that Chief Logan was a friend of Davy Crockett.  Wherever Davy Crockett would go, Chief Logan would tag along
with apparently little or no regard for his wife and family.  Mary (if that was indeed her name)
would then have to load all the children onto a wagon and follow her
husband.  Just what became of this
remarkable couple is not known.
None of the above is documented.
It is all based on oral family history, but there never has been any
doubt that we had a Tuscarora ancestor named Logan.

records show that the Tuscarora Indians originated in North Carolina, but
sometime about the early 1700s they were forced out of their homelands and
migrated north, first to Maryland, and later to western New York State.  This seems to fit with the birthplace
listed on the census for Rachel Logan.
So, is Rachel Chief Logan’s wife instead of Mary Coye?  It is entirely possible that my mother
misremembered the name of Chief Logan’s wife.  But if Rachel was born in Maryland, what was the basis for
the family story of her being Irish Catholic?  Maybe her parents were Irish, or perhaps the census is wrong
about her birthplace.  Another
possibility is that there might be a generation missing in our oral
history.  Perhaps Rachel married a
son of Chief Logan and Mary Coye?
Since I don’t have any dates for Chief Logan, other than that he was
contemporary with Davy Crockett (1786-1836), it’s possible that Rachel (born
1794) could be his daughter-in-law rather than his wife.  However it may be, I am inclined to
believe, based on your census data, that Rachel is the mother of Mary Ann Logan.
I hope you can make sense out of all this and that it helps you in your research.


Jan . 28, 2010

Thanks for the reply and the information about the other siblings to Maggie and Virginia.  Do you have any information on the birth and death dates for Julia and Pauline/Annie?  And what is it that makes you suspect that Annie and Pauline are one and the same?
As for Henry J. Carbis, you say he was about 2 years younger than Sam Kerlin (b. 1857)  That would put Henry J. Carbis at about 1859 for a birth date.  Is it possible that he is a posthumous son of Henry Kerlin?  If Maggie was pregnant when her husband died in 1858, it is possible, if not likely, that her parents may have adopted the child at birth to take the financial load of raising him off the young widow. Although it is also possible, as you speculate, that he was the son of Sam Carbis and Mary Ann Logan.
In addition, you said that until you found that Mary Ann Logan´s mother was born in Maryland, you had no idea why Henry Kerlin ran off with Maggie Carbis to get married in the brand new Catholic Church in St. Louis.  I am not sure what Rachel’s birth in Maryland has to do with her granddaughter getting married in St. Louis, which is in Missouri.  But since Henry was a pilot on a steamboat between Cincinnati and St.Louis, it seems likely that he met Maggie through her father who was either a Mate or a Captain on a boat – perhaps they both worked on the same boat.  But it does seem that Henry Kerlin must have been quite young for a pilot.  (A captain was the man in overall command of the steamboat.  Often, but not always, he was also the owner or partner of the owner of the boat.  The mate was second in command and reported to the captain and acted as his intermediary with the crew.  The mate was the man with the responsibility for directing the crew on the day to day operations of the boat, including the business of loading and unloading the cargo.  The pilot was the man who was responsible for the safe navigation of the boat on a specific section of the river.  He had the responsibility of being intimately familiar with the river and all its bends and shallows.  He is also the man who steered the boat.)
I tried a couple of times to view your photo of Sam Kerlin, but although the webpage opens, the photo fails to load.  I am glad you found some value in the family stories I have.  I just wish there was some way to document them.  I wish I knew where to go next with the whole Indian connection.


Jan. 28, 2010

Hi Mike,

and thank you. I love family stories, for I have found that while they might be a bit
romanticized and might skip a generation or two, there does tend to be a kernel of truth
in the stories. My grandmother´s tales of her Grandfather – Sam Kerlin – being a river
boat  Captain actually were alluding to Samuel Carbis, her Great Great Grandfather. But
it was only through these stories and Sam Kerlin´s death certificate that I was able to
scrabble out some sort of truth.

The whole Tuscarora Indian business is also interesting, for family tradition has it
that in  every generation, one child will be born with coal black hair and deep, dark,
brown eyes. Considering that the family has married so very many Irish and that coal
black hair is almost as rare as a natural platinum blond, I used to razz my Grandmother
and say that she had Gypsy blood in her – actually, it was Bohemian.

As to my website. As I have mentioned, I just keep it up for my notes, and lately, I have
not done anything with it, as it became too frustrating. In 2006, the whole site was
hacked, and with the help of friends, I was able to get what I had back. I did indeed end
up blocking access to photos, as some creepy place was constantly snitching them or
leaving ….rude…links. I shall set up the photo of Sam Kerlin elsewhere, although I do
believe that it was taken with an very early version of a Brownie camera and by someone
with a tremulous hand. But even through the blur, one can see a resemblance with Virginia

Your family stories about Catholicism were also very interesting, for the Kerlin´s were
amongst the first and staunchest  supporters of the new religion, The Methodists. Until I
found that Mary Ann Logan´s mother was born in Maryland, I had no idea why Henry Kerlin
ran off with Maggie Carbis and married in the brand new Catholic Church in St. Louis.

Samuel Carbis and Mary Ann Logan also had a daughter named Julia. She ended up marrying a
guy named Murphy, a mail carrier, and moved…away. I suspect that Annie is Pauline. Then
also, they finally had a son that lived. His name was Henry J. Carbis. For a number of
years, I thought that he was actually Maggie´s son, as he was about 2 years younger than
Sam Kerlin. But as Sam Kerlin retained the Kerlin name, Harry Carbis was always Harry
Carbis. If you have access to Ancestry .com, you can find the comings and goings of he
and his wife in that same area around Blairsville.

His descendants, as of 1930, lived in Tarrentown, PA. I have spelled that wrong, but
cannot come close enough for Google to help me- but it is not far from Pittsburgh.. In
that rather serendipitous way that life has, my Great Grandmother´s second husband was
from the same place, and as a child, I recall going there and meeting the old family

And Rachel Logan. I found- online- a burial plot in a Catholic Cemetery in Pittsburgh. It
was on my list of places to visit, but time ran out. The dates for Rachel Logan- as
listed in the 1850 census- fit. She is buried next to a William Logan and I believe a
Sara Logan, but I am very unsure of that. Considering proximity , religion and age, this
could be a son of Rachel Logan. But given the family´s penchant for passing on names, I
find William very interesting.

But thank you for the stories. And hopefully, I can get that photo of Sam up where I have
not blocked access-


Jan. 31, 2010

Hello Mike,

for the first time in two years, I have opened my PAF files. I quite
simply forgot about Annie, although once I read her husband’s name, it
did come back.

What I have for the children of Samuel Carbis
( born 1813, England) all dates are guesses from census reports,
other family trees, or the Mormons.

And Mary Anne Logan ( July, 1821, PA)

Children :

Margaret E. Carbis born 1841, maybe in Missouri, but most likely in PA.

Virginia Louise Carbis born Sept. 1843

Anna Josephine Carbis  born 1848

Agnes Pauline Carbis  born April 1851

Julia Carbis  born 1853

Henry J. Carbis born 1862


Margaret Carbis married Henry T. Kerlin in Missouri, 5 Nov. 1856.
Their son, Samuel Kerlin,  was born 3 Sept., 1858. Tradition says that
he was born in Kentucky, most likely Louisville. Given the time and
the place, I cannot find a birth certificate.

In the Census of 1860, Maggie Carbis has remarried, a blacksmith named
John Joyce. They live next to Samuel Corbis , a river mate , in
Rollins Township, PA.
There is also a 6 year old girl named Rachel Logan living with them,
who I cannot track down.

Maggie went on to have 6 more children, the eldest being a daughter named
Mary Joyce, born 1863.

Ok, you know all about Virginia Carbis…

Anna Josephine Carbis married the 5th of Dec. 1864  a certain John A.
Magee, born in 1843, PA, death 31 Dec., 19 1932.

They had a daughter, Mary A. Magee, born 1866.

A son, Samuel G. Magee, born 1869.

A son Carl A. Magee, born 1873.

A son Clarence G. Magee, born 1875.

You also seem to know about Agnes Pauline Carbis, born April, 1851,
possible dies 8 Jan. 1929. She married Clarence Gelston in 1866 (
these girls married young), and had at least 9 children.

Julia Carbis, born 1853, PA, married Thomas J. Murphy- born 1847 in
New Jersey- in 1870. They had 4 children, May, Gertrude, Blanche and

Henry J. Carbis was born in 1862 and that’s all I have on him,
although I spent many a Sunday trying to follow him.

So that’s what I have in the PAF. Although I just glanced through it.
To be honest, I was looking for Maggie Carbis, and her sisters were
tangents I was following, hoping that she too lived next door to one
or another of them.

Let’s see, I have no death dates for Julia ( how can one follow a name
like Murphy ?) or Pauline. I no longer have access to Ancestry .com,
but I thought that Mary Ann lived with Pauline in the 1900 census,
second page.

I have always doubted that Henry Carbis was the son of Samuel and Mary
Ann Logan, however, while Samuel Kerlin seems to have grown up with
the Carbis family, he was listed as a Kerlin and as a Grandson. Harry was
a Carbis and listed as a son. I have no idea. Samuel Carbis´ will might
be interesting. And I myself had a baby at 42.

As to the Catholic business, I was rather shocked -the name Kane is
about as Irish and Catholic as one can get- to discover that I had
ancestors who were not only Protestant, but fervent Methodists. – my
punctuation is giving out right now- have to love Vista- so please be
patient. The Kerlin branch of my family were one of the earliest US
converts to the Methodist Church and all of the Obits that I have
found have praised their piety. And so I was surprised to find Henry
and Maggie running off to St. Louis to be wed in a Catholic Church.
This was not a family affair, for the witnesses seem to be the
equivalent of what one would find in a Las Vegas Chapel. And checking
out the dates and times, the church was less than a year old. I could
only guess that some how the rivers had brought them both together and
to St. Louis. As a last note on Catholicism, I suppose that I still
have that idea in my head that long ago and far away, Maryland was a
haven for Catholics. I have never checked out if there was a Catholic
Church, at that time, in Louisville  or Steubenville.

One of my last finds was that which said that Henry Kerlin had been a
Pilot. Oddly enough, while I have no idea what a Mate is, I do know
what a Pilot is and he strikes me as very young indeed to have been a
Pilot. I can only explain it by considering the times and his family
connections. After the Census of 1850, Henry Kerlin, his Mother,
Father and 2 brothers pretty well vanish from the face of the earth.
In 1852, after the death of their very pious Grandmother, they all
moved from Mount Pleasant , Ohio to Steubenville, Ohio. His father, a
tailor, shared a store with Oscar B. Kerlin,  a cousin.

According to his obituary, Oscar B. Kerlin left the Union Army as a
Major, having run one of the last steamboats into New Orleans before
the port was blockaded. Commissary, he was.

The rest of the family was up in Louisville, some doing quite well
indeed. But they are all on the rivers,. In fact, my Grandmother – who
was very close to her Grandmother, the Irish wife of Sam Kerlin-
always said that Annie O´Neil had been buried facing the rivers in
Pittsburgh. Well, I spent a cootie´s  age tromping through that
cemetery in Pittsburgh. The family grave site does not face the river.
Fortunately, I had one of those V shaped can openers in my pocket-
road trip and all , dontcha know- and when I finally found the last
resting place of Sam Kerlin, his wife, Annie O´Neil, their second son,
Stanely and my Great Grandmother´s third husband – ok. she sparkled- I
scrapped the turf away from the marker. It was white marble, very
soft, as you must well know.

I have no idea why that photo will not show up. I have had friends checking it and they
cannot see it either. And so I have put it up on Flick’r
http://www.flickr.com/photos/32421653@N00/4318775032/sizes/l/ . It is a very poor quality
photo, and Flick’r has downsized it quite a bit. I tend to think that the family
resemblance involves the way that the outer corners of both Sam Kerlin and Virginia
Carbis’ eyes turn down, the oddly skewed eye brows and that aura of sadness in both

Best regards,


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