Sunday, January 28, 2018

ETCHED IN OLD STONE: The King of Winsor Castle

“Soul Liberty and worship is a man’s castle…” (Thomas Bicknell)
As the direct descendant of many First Families of Rhode Island, including the Winsors, my Grandma Smith would have been amused by my recent family find: Winsor Castle.  She was quite proud of her Winsor heritage, even suggesting that royal family lines stretched back to the 11th century English palace of Windsor.   Unlikely at best, even though our 1637 immigrant ancestor, Joshua Winsor (who dropped the “d” in his name), grew up only a few miles away from Windsor Castle, at Stoke Poges.  Winsor family lines did, however, extend to the Old West frontier of 19th century America -in covered wagons leading all the way to Winsor (not Windsor) Castle. 
(transcribed below)
In fact, Winsor Castle was constructed in 1872 as a fort to protect a large Mormon cattle ranching operation located within the Arizona Strip along the border between northern Arizona and southern Utah.  A bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon), Anson Perry Winsor was hired by Brigham Young to operate the ranch and maintain the fort, which soon became known as “Winsor Castle.”  The name stuck.
The castle’s “king,” Anson Perry Winsor was the great-great-great grandson of immigrant Joshua Winsor, as was my fourth great grandfather Jesse Winsor.  Both men’s families were united through a long line of early American Baptists and a common (my 7th) great grandfather, another Joshua Winsor (1682-1752).  Both families pulled up roots after generations in Rhode Island, migrating first to New York and then into the Ohio River Valley.  But that is where their family paths diverged.  While my Winsor ancestors set down new shoots in Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan, Anson took a different path: he became Mormon and followed the early leaders of this new and controversial religious movement to the freedom of Utah Territory.  As the descendant of 17th century Rhode Island pioneers who, through religious persecution and banishment, founded a place where they might exercise a “liberty of conscience,” Anson Perry Winsor’s right to exercise his religious convictions would have been applauded by an ancestor who wrote:
“…that the doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience, is most evidently and lamentably contrary to the doctrine of Christ Jesus the Prince of Peace.”  (Roger Williams)
Now run by the National Park Service, Winsor Castle is open to the public and can be toured on site at Pipe Spring National Monument located at the edge of the Antelope Valley region in the remote Arizona Strip just below the Utah border.  It is bounded by the Grand Canyon to the south and by the Vermilion Cliffs and Zion National Park to the north. 
Transcription of plaque pictured above: 

Established May 31, 1923
Through Efforts of Stephen T. Mather and Friends
Occupied in 1863 by Dr. James M. Whitmore, who
with Robert McIntyre was killed 4 miles S.E. of here
January 8, 1866 by Navajo and Piute Indians.
Erected by direction of Brigham Young in 1869-70
by Anson P Winsor for handling the church tithing
herds and as a frontier refuge from Indians.  It became
the first telegraph office in Arizona when the Deseret
Telegraph Line reached here in December 1871.
Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Association
And Citizens of Kanab Stake

Saturday, January 20, 2018

HOODWINKS AND HUMBLE PIE: What's Under the Crust?

9GGF William Jefferay, (1591-1675) 
As self-assigned family historian, I take my job very seriously as I attempt to unearth the stories of the GloverSmith past in an earnest effort to endow our future generations with a true sense of heritage.  In the forty years since I began this quest, I’ve learned to check and recheck information and to carefully collect documentation to ensure my research is based more on facts than folklore.  But every now and then I fall victim to a crafty hoodwink or two.  It’s not the first time -and I’m sure it won’t be the last- when I have to cut into a piece of ‘umble pie.
In one of my fact-checking moments today, I discovered an obscure entry at an online genealogy site that suggested someone else had been hoodwinked, too.  Like me (and many, many others,) the contributor had been leaning heavily upon TheJournal of William Jefferay, gentleman… as a reliable primary source for information about our shared ancestor.  I was surprised to see that this person had removed Jefferay’s 17th century journal from his list of sources because he believed it to be historical fiction.  Hmm.  I thought I’d take a closer look.
Here’s what I found when I scrutinized the title page (see if you can spot it, too):
Born at Chiddingly, Old England, in the year 1597;
Died at Newport, New England, in the year 1675.
Some Account of Divers People, Places and Happening,
Chiefly in New England.
Compiler of
“The Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island,
“The Roger Williams Calendar,” etc. etc.

The title provides a hint of hoodwinkery “hidden in plain sight”: “A DIARY THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN.”  Since Austin’s byline included his role as editor rather than author, a reader might rightfully be led to believe that he worked from genuine manuscripts written by Mr. Jefferay.  But Mr. Austin did not draw a clear line between fact and fiction, suggestively allowing the reader to believe either way.  I had eagerly read the journal and even shared parts of it, believing the compilation to be the genuine, selected, personal writings of my ninth great grandfather, edited into a volume by a noted genealogist, Mr. Austin.
In the “Editor’s Preface,” Austin’s language might even suggest that any erudite (aka “always intelligent”) reader would easily extrapolate his intent: 
“The always intelligent reader will perceive that no attempt is herein made to befog his understanding with the somewhat musty, if time-honored, story of an ancient manuscript, found in an oaken chest, in an old garret. [Hoodwink #2: With a careful choice of wording, Austin confessed that he did not “attempt to befog” the reader with real entries from a real journal.]
“Neither has it been thought necessary to use a form of language strikingly different from the present; for, however much the seeming quaintness, it repels continuous reading, and the real difference in style of the two periods, is not so marked as often imagined.
“Yet, without these customary attestations to reliability, [Hoodwink #3: he confessed here that we will not be able to verify the reliability of the content since he tweaked the antiquated language, deceptively suggesting he was working from an antiquated text.] there is here much fact, if some fancy is also interwoven. [Uh-huh.] As to the seven stories told at the Seven Club, the reader must be his own judge [He’s off the hook!] of whether, in a more credulous age than ours, these were really told and taken in all seriousness, or whether each strove to outdo the others in marvels, as happens often in our day.
“But as to this Journal, if any should be found so doubting as to think there was no such man as the one now edited, [Hoodwink #4: using the ruse of offering up proof that William Jefferay was a real man whose grave bore a real inscribed headstone, he lulled the readers into a false sense of trust that what they were about to read was equally real.]  let him go to the house of Sergeant Bull (still standing), where Jefferay first met his wife; or, doubting yet, he may hie him to the old cemetery, and there read, while time still spares the almost gone inscription:
“Here lyeth interred the body of Wm. Jeffray Gentl, who departed this life on the 2d day of Jan’y, 1675, in the 85th year of his age.
Since every tomb an epitaph can have,
The Muses owe their tribute to this grave,
And to succeeding ages recommend
His worthy name, who lived and died their friend;
Being full of days and virtues, love, and peace,
God from his troubles gave him a release,
And called him unto the celestial place,
Where happy souls view their Creator’s face.
Vivit post funera Virtus”

“Now shall the gentle reader, no longer doubting, read Mr. Jefferay’s Journal aright, and learn, perchance, some things worth the keeping.” [Hoodwink #5: “No longer doubting,” we were welcomed to read the journal as if it, too, was real. And many of us did just that!]
Well, well, well.  As I dug a little deeper, I discovered that Mr. Austin must have enjoyed great success with his book, publishing a sequel to it the following year:
Found in Mr. Jefferay’s papers marked:
Some strange relatings, sent by divers of mine acquaintance,
with a desire that they be read unto the Seven Club.
Here followeth a naming of within. W.J.’ [nice touch-adding William Jefferay’s initials]
Edited by John Osborne Austin.
Compiler of “The Journal of William Jefferay, Gentleman.1900”’
[from the Preface]  “It was doubtless Mr. Jefferay’s intention to have read these tales at the Seven Club, though whether he ever did so is unknown.  Evidently those who sent them to him were familiar with the tales already told at the club, and were acquainted with the members.  The narrations heretofore published (as part of Mr. Jefferay’s Journal) were so favorably received, that it has been decided to print these later found [aka “I just made them up, too”] stories, as a proper sequel… Wherefore, gentle reader, give unto them a fair hearing, and your courtesy shall, perchance, be something requited.  JOHN OSBORNE AUSTIN. Providence, R.I.”

I also found reference made to this sequel in an author’s notes from “The Town Records of Rhode Island: A Report, Volume 8 by Amos Perry. On page 279, Perry states, “More Seven Club Tales is the title of an interesting pamphlet recently issued by John O. Austin.  These quaint tales, imaginary in structure, but founded on fact, form a sequel to the author’s Journal of William Jefferay.” [This was a nice way of saying that Austin created the tales based on things he knew about the individuals to whom he attributed the stories.]

But, thank goodness for authors who don’t mince their words.  In Matthews and Pierce’s book, American Diaries: An Annotated Bibliography of American Diaries Written Prior to the Year 1861, Volume 16, published in 1945, we find the following description:
“Jefferay, William (1591-1675) of Chiddingly, Eng., and Newport, R.I. Private diary, 1650-January 1669 (preceded by autobiographical notes); a fake diary [yes, a FAKE diary!] of the life of an actual inhabitant of Providence, recently written. John O. Austin, The Journal of William Jefferay (Providence, 1899) 189 pp.” 

Please excuse me while I go eat my humble pie!

Friday, December 8, 2017


SMITH-DORT/THOMAS~3rd GGM Deiadamia (Thomas) Dort
[The following notes were gleaned from the “Transactions of the Michigan State Agricultural Society for 1851.”Vol. 3] Deiadamia's husband, Titus Dort was not only a member of the executive committee but instrumental in founding both the Society and the first Michigan State Fair.

The 3rd Annual Michigan Agricultural Society [MAS] Exhibition, later known as the Michigan State Fair was held on Wed.-Fri. September 24-26, 1851.   Due to poor attendance the previous year in Ann Arbor, the Fair returned to Detroit. 
·         Day 1: cloudy -entry for stock and exhibited items.  Deiadamia would have been entering her products to exhibit while Titus attended the MAS executive committee meeting held on the grounds, making sure there were adequate volunteers for filling the viewing committees. Titus was named “chairman pro tem” as a member of the business committee for the coming year.
·      Day 2: clear, warm and “very pleasant”; The grounds were reported to be so crowded with people that the viewing committees found it difficult to judge.  At 2:00 pm a “very eloquent” [and very lengthy] address was delivered by Gen. Lewis Cass.
·       Day 3: began with heavy storms that subsided by 10:00 am.  Deiadamia and other fair-goers viewed the judged exhibits. [Did she take home a blue and a red ribbon?] The morning business meeting of the fair included: reading of committee reports; election of officers for 1852; notes of appreciation to go out to their featured speaker, volunteers, and land owners who supplied the grounds for the fair and a request for a copy of Gen. Cass' speech for publication.  Titus Dort moved to amend some specific wording to the constitution. Three delegates of the MAS were appointed to represent the society at next year’s Annual Exposition of the American Institute of New York. In the afternoon, a sale of exhibited animals took place “at which much of the stock on the ground changed owners.”

INCLUDED in the 1851 listing of EXHIBITORS:
·         Mrs. Titus Dort, Dearborn, 1 crock butter.
(In the committee report her entry was noted as “N. 31, 2nd best [Second Place] 10 lbs. made in June” for which she was awarded “Transactions and $1.00")  FYI: in today’s currency, $1.00 would be worth just over $30.
·         Mrs. Titus Dort, Dearborn, 2 new cheeses made without pressing.
(In the committee report it was noted “There were but few cheeses of one year old and over, but several new cheeses equal, in the opinion of your committee, to any made at the best dairies in the State of New York.” Of the five prizes given, her entry No. 55 was awarded the premium [First Place] for “two very excellent cheeses, made without pressing”) 
·         Mrs. Titus Dort, Dearborn, 1 pce. rag carpet.
      (The committee recommended a change for coming years due to a problem in judging “…In such goods as fulled cloths, coverlets, &c., the manufacturer by profession, and the farmer’s wife come into competition, while it is impossible that the latter can make as handsome an article as the former, though the actual quality may be as good. But it is believed that this Society peculiarly intends to foster ‘home productions of this sort; and therefore your committee think that it would be best to offer two setts of premiums, one for manufacturers, the other for agriculturists.”
·         Titus Dort, Dearborn, 3 varieties of apples
[In contrast to Titus’ modest entry from his orchards, a Mr. Fox of Grosse Ile exhibited 37 varieties along with “a dish of red Siberian crab apples”] 
·         Mrs. Titus Dort, Dearborn, 1 bottle currant wine.

Top exhibitors were asked to later submit a report on their prize-winning entries for publication in the annual report.  Great-great-great grandmother Deiadamia submitted the following:

 “CHEESE” Report by Mrs. D. [Deiadamia] Dort
J. C. Holmes, Esq., Sec’y Mich. State Ag. Society:
Dear Sir –Pursuant to the requirements of the premium list of said society, I send herewith a statement of the manner of making cheese without pressing for which a premium was awarded to me at the society’s fair for 1851.
The milk is curded and the rennet prepared in the same manner as is prescribed in the essay of A. L. Fish, Esq., of Herkimer county, New York, which will be found in the patent Office Report for 1848, pages 620 and 621. When the curd is properly prepared as therein directed, it is put into a clean dry linen or cotton bag, a little warmer than it should be when put to the press, and pressed down slowly as can be done with the hand, so as to make it solid ---it can be in just such shape as the maker may desire; I think the cone or sugar loaf the best shape –and then hung up to drip and dry, in about the same temperature as is fit for drying and curing pressed cheese.  No more than fifteen or twenty pounds should be put into a cheese of this kind.  They cure much sooner than when pressed, and are very rich, as none of the oil passes off as it does under the power of the press.  They need no care in drying, as the cloth is a perfect shield against flies, and prevents them from cracking.  When cured, they are very convenient for family use.
I have made but a few in this manner, and they have cured and kept as well as those that I have pressed of the same weight, and are much richer; besides it saves a great deal of care and labor in turning and greasing to prevent injury by flies.
Dearborn, January, 1852.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

ETCHED IN OLD STONE: Obituary of Titus Dort 1806-1879

Smith/Post-DORT 3rd GGF

OBITUARY – Titus Dort Detroit Free Press Oct. 9, 1879  [138 years ago]

Another Pioneer Gone—Death of Hon. Titus Dort.
            Last Tuesday Titus Dort passed to rest after a well-spent life of 78 years.  “Squire Dort,” as he was familiarly called, was one of the pioneers contemporary with the Hon. Jonathan Shearer [see letter below], of Plymouth.  He was born in the State of Vermont, County of Addison, and Town of Bridgeport, on the 17th day of June, 1806.  His father emigrated to Ohio in the fall of 1811 and settled in Franklinton, the county seat of Franklin County, on the west side of the Sciota River, opposite where the City of Columbus now stands.  It was then Woodland.  In less than a year after he had taken up his residence there war was declared against Great Britain, and Franklinton was made the headquarters of the Northwestern army.  In 1815, the war being over, his father moved twenty miles north-west, on the Big Darby.  In 1821Titus Dort came to Detroit with a drove of cattle, driving them on the Gen. Hull Road through the Black Swamp.
            In 1826 he came to Detroit to reside and commenced making brick on the Dequindre farm, about one mile east of Woodward avenue (this was probably where Dequindre street now is).  In 1820 he began brick-making on the Rouge.  On the 30th day of November, 1829, he married Deidamia Thomas, a daughter of Alanson Thomas, an early settler of Dearborn, who has already preceded him to the “better land.”  In 1833 he entered into a contract with the War Department of the United States, represented here by Lieut. Joshua Howard, to furnish the brick for the government buildings to be erected at Dearborn, excepting 100,00 in the basement of the arsenal.
            In 1835 Gov. Mason and the Legislative Council of the Territory of Michigan appointed him a Justice of the Peace.
            Eighteen hundred and thirty-six found him a delegate from Wayne County to the Convention at Ann Arbor, in September of that year, to accept or reject the proposition of Congress, that our Territory should be admitted into the Union of the States.
            Elected by the Township of Dearborn Justice of the Peace in 1836, and having served so satisfactorily and uprightly for a term of three years, he was re-elected for a term of four years.  It was during the year 1836 that several wards in the City of Detroit neglected to elect such officers and on the 15th of June Congress acknowledged and accepted our State Constitution, except the boundary, and then our State laws were accepted by all.  Many of the townships and wards had no legal officers so “Squire Dort” had several law cases from Detroit.
            He was elected three different times to the House of Representatives, in 1838, 1844 and 1864; also twice to the State Senate –in 1843 and 1850, and took a seat at each succeeding session.  At the session of the Senate of 1849 he was appointed Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture.
            After receiving from Prof. Holmes several communications on the formation of a State Agricultural Society, he presented the matter to the Senate and House and they, with a few exceptions, united in forming such a society.  He was also one of the Executive Committee for five years.  Always held in high esteem by his fellow townsmen, he was often placed in positions of trust and responsibility, being made for several years Supervisor of the Township of Dearborn.  He was frequently appointed Superintendent of Wayne County poor, and personally looked after the erection of the first and third brick buildings on the county farms for their accommodation.  Much of his time in the later years of his life was spent in the settlement of the estates of deceased persons, and in 1860 he was a candidate for the office of Judge of Probate, but was defeated with the candidates of the Democratic party generally.
            Thus closed his civil and political record.  He was what was called a Jackson Democrat and prided himself in doing everything in business with accuracy and honesty, and not a slur or stain has ever fallen on his character.

Detroit Free Press Oct. 31, 1879  [three weeks after Titus’ obituary was published]

 “The Late Titus Dort.” -a memorial tribute-
            The following is extracted from a letter from Hon. Jonathan Shearer to Andrew J. Dort, son of the late Hon. Titus Dort:
“My Dear Respected Friend, Andrew J. Dort:
            I feel heartily to sympathize with you in the bereavement of a loving father, who has gone to rest from his earthly labors, which were for a long number of years faithfully devoted for the good of his fellow men, and especially for the welfare of his brother pioneers in opening the way for organizing a new State.  He was a kind, benevolent husband and father and neighbor in his domestic relations; and loved and respected by all, and in his public relations an honest, considerate lover of exact and impartial justice in the various capacities of public trust.  I became acquainted with him in the Territory of Michigan, and was intimately acquainted with him and his acts publicly during many years , as he, as well as myself, had the honor of a seat twice in the State Senate, and in two sessions in the House of Representatives, and while as a member of the Senate of 1849 I wrote the bill for the establishment of county agricultural societies of Michigan, great opposition was manifested by the professional men of the Senate on account of the newness of the State, and your honored father came to the aid of the passage of the bill, and it became a law, and in 1849, while he was struggling to establish the State Agricultural Society, my humble abilities were devoted to aid in the passage of that law; and before this, when Father Pierce was organizing the High School at Ann Arbor we gave him our united support in the establishment of the Normal School at Ypsilanti and also aided Gov. Felch in passing the Central Railway into the hands of a company, as while the State owned it, it did not prove successful, for individuals who had an interest in it could look after it much better than the State.  We also took a deep interest in the establishment of the free common or primary schools, being on a special committee to draft the school laws, and to raise the mill ta to make the people interested in the schools; this, with the sales of the school lands, had a good deal to do in aiding the free school system.  We contended long and strenuously that the property of the State should educate the rising generation, the poor as well as the rich, as intelligence would protect the State and the free school has become the law of Michigan, and great benefit is a lasting result of those weary labors.
            I had the pleasure of taking rooms two sessions with your dear father, and after long and complex sessions, listening to tedious debates and thousands of motions sometimes to no profit, we would retire to our rooms and look over the laws of their States and compare notes on subjects of importance to the State and people, and freely burn the midnight oil in posting ourselves for the coming day's labor, and often your dear father would say to me that our votes were a matter of record, and we were willing to be judged by them, and if we committed errors it was of the head, not of the heart.  People not acquainted with legislation have but a faint idea of the thoughtful labor imposed upon the mind; as the old saying is, “much study is wearisome to the flesh;” and we found it so in aiding in the organizing a new State to make the statue agreeable to a toiling, industrious people, who were leveling the forest and changing it into fruitful fields of plenty, and your honored father labored long and patiently for the good of our beloved State and its noble institutions.  Coming from State affairs to township and county business, your father held many offices of trust, and for a long time was almost constantly employed to the satisfaction of upright men; his decisions were made with care and equal justice to all concerned, and the pioneers of Michigan highly appreciate his able service, and all who survive him feel deeply to mourn the great loss of a good and faithful brother pioneer; and all the people at large, when they understand his true history, will cherish his memory in respectful and lively remembrance.  In his political faith he was a Democrat of the Jefferson and Jackson school. 
Truly yours, J. SHEARER.