Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve 1910: SMITH FAMILY

On this day ~one hundred and five years ago~ my great grandfather William R. Smith did some last minute Christmas shopping! 
Merry Christmas 2015
Last year's post:

Friday, October 16, 2015



4th GGF Joshua Secord (1781-1851)
a millwright, was born in Clarkstown, Rockland County, New York. His daughter, Mary Abigail "Polly" Secord married Mortimer Winsor and parented my 2nd great grandmother, Lydia Secord Winsor, wife of Andrew Jackson Dort. 
1661Protestant expulsion from La Rochelle.Luiken
(From "Biographical Sketches and Index of Huguenot Settlers of New Rochelle  1687-1776" by Morgan H Secord:)
"AMBROISE de SICAR was a native of La Rochelle, France.  He owned a small vineyard there which supplemented his income as a "saunier" or salt maker.  The revocation of the Edict of Nantes made La Rochelle a target for anti-Protestant forces.  How and when Ambroise and his five children left France is not known.  The first entry in the records of the Huguenot Church in New York City is a baptism of a daughter of Ambroise and his wife JEANNE PERRON.  On 09 Feb 1692 he purchased 109 acres of land in New Rochelle NY from Guillame LeCount for which he paid thirty-eight pistoles & 8 shillings, current money of New York, equal to about $150 in gold."
(From HUGUENOT TRAILS, “Family History-The Secor Family,” published by The Huguenot society of Canada. Founded 1966. Vol. XV Number 3, 1982, ISSN-0441-6910:)
Secor family cairn, Scarborough
"The Scarborough SECOR family descend from Jacques Sicard born 1675 and the Niagara SECORD family descend from Daniel born 1672. Jacques and Daniel were probably born in Mornac where their father Ambroise was a Saunier (maker of salt).
Records show that most of JACQUES and ANN [Geertje Terrier]'s children moved across the Hudson River to the area around Tappan in Orange County, a predominately Dutch settlement.
We find in the existing documents, that this branch of the family as a rule, dropped the final "d", while the members of Ambroise Sicard's family who remained in Westchester County, retained the final "d".
According to Morgan Seacord, who was for many years the historian in New Rochelle, Jean Sicar born 1712 was the father of John Secor ca 1730. It was this JOHN SECOR (ca 1730) who married MARIA GIRAUD (Gerow). Maria was the daughter of Benjamin Giraud and his wife Annatye Kuyper whose marriage is recorded in the Hackensack Dutch Reformed Church records. Maria was the granddaughter of Daniel Giraud born ca 1665 in France and died in York.

John Secor and Maria lived in Kakiat, Orange County N.Y. (this area now Rockland County). Their son ISAAC
was born 11 August 1751 probably at Kakiat N.Y. [My records show Clarkstown, about 10 miles away.] He died in Scarborough, Ont. Canada 27th of August 1835. Isaac married MARY SIMMONS (1752-1819). During the Rev. War Isaac and Mary lived in the Haverstraw Precinct of Rockland County. With the exception of their two youngest children, Rebecca and Joseph, we find the birth dates and the baptism dates of their other children in the Clarkstown register of the Tappan Dutch Reformed Church.

This seems to be proof enough that the family remained in this area during the Rev. War.  While Isaac Secor did not fight in the Rev. War, he was loyal to the Crown and assisted the Loyalists in other ways. In his land petitions he mentions that he suffered many hardships at the hand of the Rebels. Because of his mother's illness and his young helpless family he was forced to remain.  Isaac's mother Maria died in 1785. Soon after that he and his family started out on the long trek to Canada. It is possible they stayed in Ballston Falls N.Y. enroute. This was a Loyalist stronghold during the Rev. War. Isaac and Mary's daughter Rebecca was born the 26th of November 1787. It is likely that she was born in Ballston Falls which would account for the family tradition that Isaac and Mary were from Ballston Falls New York.

Isaac Secor entered Canada in 1788 with his wife and five children: Isaac, the younger, Sarah, JOSHUA, Peter and Rebecca. Another son Joseph was born 22 October 1790. Rebecca and Joseph were baptized by Rev. Robt. McDowell, Hamilton Township.  He was in Kingston before going to Napanee where he built the first stone mill. In 1797 Isaac resided in the Township of Marysburg.  By 1804 Isaac Secor and his family had arrived in York. He purchased lot 19 Conc. D in Scarborough where a grist mill was erected. He was located on the West side of the road access and his son Isaac, the young, on the East side. The Highland Creek flowed through the property. The road access became the Markham Road. His son Peter later ran the mill.
Scarborough Historic Mills includes Secor Grist Mill
Isaac and Mary's children all married and had families:
Isaac, the younger (1773-1853) married (1) Rachel Ferguson, (2) Ellithear Ferguson.
Sarah (1775 - ?) married 91) Isaac Benn, (2) James Jones

JOSHUA (1781 - ?[1851]) married Lydia, surname unknown. [Harris]
Peter (1785-1861) married Elizabeth Winslow
Rebecca (1787 - ?) married Simmons Mallory
Joseph (1790 - 1874) married (1) Ann Stevens, (2) Bridget Ryan

The Secor Cairn, overlooking the Secor Memorial Park, stands on what was known as Secor Hill, now Stevenwood Rd. This commemorative cairn is a tribute to a family of principle who helped build the township of Scarborough [York, Ontario, Canada]." 
Joshua's headstone suggests he was born in 1783
We know that JOSHUA SECORD descended from 1681 French Huguenot immigrant, Ambroise Sicard.  The "d" at the end of his surname might lead us to believe that he was great-great grandson of Daniel rather than Jacques but the available records lead back to the Scarborough family that is known as SECOR.  (By his father's generation, Secor and Secord were both used.) 
In Silas Farmer's History of Detroit and Wayne County and Early Michigan (1890), a biographical sketch of Joshua's son Lorenzo states that Joshua Secord, wife Lydia (Harris), and 4 children came to Detroit area in Jan. 1821.  Since Joshua's daughter (my great-great-great grandmother) MARY ABIGAIL "Polly" SECORD was born in 1815 in Erie County, New York, it seems reasonable to assume that this family was once again on the move, eager to take part in the "Michigan Fever" migration of New Yorkers (and also former New Yorkers who were compensated with territorial land for Revolutionary War damages to homes and property) to claim acreage in Michigan Territory.   
Lydia Secord Winsor Dort
Having lived thirty years in Michigan, Joshua died April 9, 1851 in Wayne County where he had fifty acres of farmland, four milk cows, two working oxen and other cattle and hogs.  He grew Indian corn and oats.  His estate, estimated at $800, listed his granddaughter LYDIA SECORD WINSOR as an heir along with her brothers Henry and Oscar, since their mother and Joshua's daughter, MARY ABIGAIL, had died prior to Joshua's death.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

MICHIGAN PIONEERS #4: Samuel Dexter, Jr.


Samuel Dexter, Jr. (1787-1856)
Founder of Ionia, Michigan; son of 1st cousin-7x Candace Winsor and father-in-law of 3rd GGAunt Mehitabel Winsor, the sister of 3GGF Mortimer Winsor

BACKGROUND: Samuel Dexter, Jr. was the son of Candace Winsor, the daughter of Rev. John Winsor.  John was a "brother-by-a-different-mother" of our direct ancestor, Joshua Winsor, Jr.   "In the early thirties the fame of the lands in the territory of Michigan reached the East, and among others who became interested was Samuel Dexter, of Herkimer county, New York, near Little Falls.  He was at that time forty-six years of age, had been a member of the New York state Legislature, and had also had a contract of excavating a large section of the Erie canal near his home. In the fall of 1832, in company with Doctor Jewett, later of Lyons, Michigan, he rode horseback through southern and western Michigan, looking up government lands for himself and friends. After following the lake shore to Chicago and investigating the prospects there he came back to Michigan and located lands on the Grand river at Ionia, and Grand Rapids; taking a quarter section at Ionia and a strip eighty rods wide on the east side of Division street reaching from Wealthy avenue to Leonard street on the north in Grand Rapids. Mr. Dexter went to White Pigeon, in the south part of the state, where the United States land office was then, entered his claims and returned home to New York, and spent the winter in selling his farm, getting everything in readiness and writing letters to induce as many as he could to join him in his new venture - that of making a new home in an unbroken wilderness."  (from: "History of Ionia County, Michigan : her people, industries and institutions, with biographical sketches of representative citizens, and genealogical records of many of the old families", 1st volume, edited by E. E. Branch, 1916)

Prudence Dexter Tower
as told in Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society Collections, Vol.28. 1897 (p.145-148) "The Journey of Ionia's First Settlers" by Prudence Dexter Tower, daughter of Samuel Dexter, Jr. [Read at Ionia May 27, 1893, on the Sixtieth Anniversary of Their        Arrival.]     "Some recollections of my father, Samuel Dexter, and the pioneers that first settled in Ionia; of their journey and arrival at Ionia: My father visited Michigan in the fall of 1832, and, through letters which he published, others were induced to come to Michigan. He and Mr. Erastus Yeomans bought a canal boat, a scow, and fitted it up to move the families, and as many of our household goods as possible, to Buffalo.      ~We started from Frankfort village, Herkimer county, N. Y., April 22, 1833, with three families, Mr. Yeomans', Oliver Arnold's and Samuel Dexter's, using their own horses to draw the boat. The boat's name was "Walk-in-the-Water," but some one wrote on the side of the boat with chalk, "Michigan Caravan." I think at Utica Mr. Joel Guild and his brother Edward and families embarked with us. We traveled by day and at night had to go ashore to sleep at hotels. At Syracuse Mr. Darius Winsor and family cast their lot with the rest. [NOTES: The above-mentioned boat "Walk-in-the-Water" was named after the first steamboat on the Great Lakes, shipwrecked in 1821.  Also, since Candace's brother Darius died in 1784, this namesake may have been a nephew. Sixty-two people left New York for Michigan on April 22, 1833. There were six families, headed by Samuel Dexter, Erastus Yeomans, Oliver Arnold, Darius Winsor, Edward Guild and Joel Guild. They were also accompanied by five young, single men, Dr. William B. Lincoln, P. M. Fox, Abraham Decker, and Samuel's brothers, Warner Dexter and Winsor Dexter.]     ~The boat was a motley sight, as the deck was piled with wagons taken to pieces and bound on, and every conceivable thing that could be taken to use in such a country where there was nothing to be bought. From Buffalo to Detroit we came by steamer “Superior.”
Of our trip on the lake I remember little besides sea-sickness. At Detroit we procured oxen and cows, and as much cooked provisions as possible and started on our journey through the wilderness. There were sixty-three people all told in the party. The first day out from Detroit we could make but seven miles because the roads were so heavy. At Pontiac we stayed one night. This was at that time a very small place and had rather a hard name, so much so that, if any one wanted to send a person to a bad place, he would say, "You go to Pontiac."     ~About twenty miles west of Pontiac we stopped one night with a Mr. Gage and his young wife and baby. I think they had no neighbors nearer than Pontiac and he complained that neighbors were getting too near; their hogs bothered him. From this time we had to camp out nights. At Shiawassee there was one French family, also two brothers by the name of Williams who were Indian traders. One of them my father hired to pilot us through to Ionia. From Shiawassee there had never been a wagon through, and much of the way we had to cut the road as we went along.     ~ At Shiawassee there were three children sick with canker rash or scarlet fever, a son of Edward Guild, myself and younger brother, Riley Dexter. We staid over one day during a heavy rainstorm. The Guild boy and myself soon got better, but little brother grew worse, and when we were in the heavy timberland about thirty miles east of Ionia, the dear little boy died about four o'clock in the afternoon. Mr. Guild had a small trunk which he let us use for a coffin and he was laid in the grave by the light of the camp fires which were burning. My father made a feeling prayer before the coffin was placed in the grave. They piled the grave high with logs to protect it from wolves, and also carved his name, age and date of death on a large tree before leaving the place.     ~ There was a French trader living in Muir who had a squaw for a wife. His name was Generaux. There was also a white man living at Lyons by the name of Belcher. Those were all the inhabitants on the river, except Indians, until you reached Grand Rapids, and I think there were but two white families there.     ~ I must tell you that most of the teams that brought us through from Detroit were ox teams. We had much trouble in crossing marshes and fording streams. Many women walked, and sometimes when we got stuck in the marshes the men had to carry them ashore. At night where we camped the men would build great fires by a log and the women would cook the meals. They had to bake biscuits in tin bakers set up in front of the fire. I think those were times that tried women's souls.     ~When we arrived at Ionia there was a large company of Indians living there. They had planted corn, melons and squashes, and did not like to leave; but through the aid of our interpreter father was able to pay them for their improvements and they left peaceably.     ~There were five wigwams built of bark. Four of them were down by the river. They were very small not more than ten feet square. Each had two bunks on one side, one above the other. The other wigwam was a few rods south and east of where the Novelty mill now stands, in the midst of the cornfield. This one was twelve or fourteen feet square, with a doorway at each end, at which we hung up blankets for doors. My father's family occupied this one. On two, sides of this wigwam was a low platform wide enough to lay a bed. On this we made up four beds and had a little space-between the foot of the beds to tuck in the little ones. In the center the earth floor was hollowed a little where the Indians had had fire. The roof in the center had an opening for smoke to escape. It also served to let in the rain, and one morning after a heavy rain when the creek had overflowed and run down the path into the wigwams,, mother's shoes were floating on the pool in this fireplace.     ~Our goods were mostly sent around the lakes to be left at Grand Haven, together with provisions, and as there was no transportation except by pole boat, it was a long and tedious task to get the goods up from Grand Haven.     ~For a table the men drove stakes in the ground and put sticks across them. They then laid the sideboards of our wagon box on for a top. So you see we had the first extension table in Ionia.     ~ Joel Gould and family went directly to Grand Rapids to live, but the rest of us lived in the wigwams until they could build big houses to live in. The first corn raised was pounded in a large mortar the Indians had dug out in a large hollow stump. The same fall my father brought from Detroit a large coffee mill, with two handles, with which two men could grind the corn. All the settlers had their corn ground in this coffee mill that winter. The next year father bought a small run of stone and put it in his saw mill to run by water, and with this the first wheat raised in Ionia county was ground. It was unbolted flour. Later my father built a grist mill, which has been remodeled and is now known as the Novelty mills.     ~ Mr. [Darius] Winsor had a little daughter sick with consumption who did not long survive after our arrival. Eugene Winsor was born that first fall and was the first white child born in Ionia county."
[A few of Samuel's siblings and numerous relatives made the migration from New York state to Michigan Territory during this era.  One brother, Darius Dexter married Mortimer's sister Mehitabel.  Without any proof whatsoever, I have surmised that our Mortimer Winsor may have been raised in their New York home before Mehitabel's death in 1829.  Mortimer married Mary Abigail Secord the following year in Michigan.  Darius Dexter moved west, remarried, and settled in Perry, Illinois where he died in 1866.  The other link to Mortimer may have been the above-mentioned Darius Winsor who was most likely a cousin to Samuel and Mortimer.]
MIGenWeb links to Ionia history online resources 
The Journey of the Dexter Colony 1833 with map of route through Michigan; Ionia County Historical Society, May 2010.

MICHIGAN PIONEERS #3: Mortimer Winsor

WINSOR FAMILY CONNECTIONS:  New York to Michigan @ 1830

3rd GGF Mortimer Winsor (1807-1876) to daughter, Lydia Secord Winsor (1838-1885) to daughter and my great grandmother, Mae Louise Dort (1873-1964)

BACKGROUND: Mortimer Winsor was the great-great-great-great grandson of 1637 English emigrant, JOSHUA WINSOR and 1631 English emigrant (and founder of Providence, Rhode Island) ROGER WILLIAMS
Original Providence RI settlement
In the plat of Providence's original fifty-two home lots we find the immigrant ancestors of three interrelated Michigan pioneer families:  Gregory DEXTER (lot #1), Roger WILLIAMS (#14), and Joshua WINSOR (#35).  Two hundred years and many generations later, descendants of these three founding Rhode Island families would take part in the western migration to Michigan Territory.    

By 1802, Mortimer's family had moved from Rhode Island to Herkimer County in New York state.  
The family connections Winsor/Williams/Dexter are as follows:
  • First generation Americans, Samuel WINSOR (son of Joshua the Immigrant) married Mercy WILLIAMS (daughter of Rev. Roger Williams)
  • Their son JOSHUA WINSOR fathered two sons JOSHUA, JR. (whose mother was Mary Barker) and JOHN (whose mother was Deborah Harding)
  • Our direct Winsor lineage runs through the descendants of Joshua Jr. (1709-1796)
  • Our Winsor/DEXTER lineage runs through the descendants of Reverend John (1723-1808) whose daughter CANDACE married Samuel DEXTER, Sr., 3rd great grandson of immigrant Gregory Dexter.  (Their son Darius married Mehitabel WINSOR, Mortimer's older sister.  Another son, Samuel, Jr. led the "Dexter Colony" from NY to Ionia, Michigan in 1833. And a third son, John, married Sophia WINSOR, a relation I have yet to connect to Mortimer.)
MORTIMER'S STORY:  What little we know about my third great grandfather, Mortimer WINSOR is pieced together from the stories of others.  Mortimer was born in 1807 to Jesse and Mercy (Smith) Winsor after their relocation from Rhode Island to New York.  We know of four siblings, all of whom were born in Rhode Island and much older than Mortimer.  (Smith Winsor b. 1784, Mehitabel b.1787, David b. 1789 and Clark b. 1796)  This age gap would prove important for Mortimer whose mother died when he was only three; his father when he was ten.  So by 1817, Mortimer was an orphan and very likely taken into the family of an older brother or sister.  Married to Col. Darius Dexter, Sr., his sister Mehitabel was a newly-wed at the time of their mother's death and may have raised her little brother.  By the time of her father's death, the Dexter's were now living half-way to Detroit, in Chautauqua, New York.  Following Mehitabel's death in 1829 and his father, Samuel Sr.'s death in 1832, Darius Dexer moved his family west into the Illinois region where he lived out his life.  
Was Mortimer among this pioneer movement?   Undoubtedly.  He was already in Michigan (ahead of Samuel Dexter's founding of Ionia, Michigan in 1833) as evidenced by Mortimer's marriage to [Mary] Abigail Secord in Washtenaw County on 29 May 1830.  (Mary Abigail's family moved to Michigan from New York in 1821.) 
What records show:
  • 1837 Mortimer and Abigail purchased land in Unadilla, Livingston County, Michigan (Abigail's brother Lorenzo Secord was already a landholder there)
  • 1838 daughter Lydia Secord Winsor was born 9 Feb. in Dearborn, Michigan
  • 1841 son Oscar F. Winsor was born 
  • 1844 son Henry Mortimer Winsor was born
  • 1849 son Charles B. Winsor was born 
  • in the years following his wife "Polly's" death abt 1849, Mortimer was found in Dearborn with a stint in Cedar, Calloway, Missouri where he worked as a carpenter before returning to Michigan where he resided in Wayne County before his death on 5 Nov 1876 in Nankin.
  • Although his death information is in the records for Union Chapel Cemetery, Inkster, his gravesite is unknown. 
    Lydia Secord Winsor
    Daughter Lydia and her husband Andrew Jackson Dort are buried there along with a number of the Dort family. 
The name "MORTIMER" is not evident in our Winsor family prior to 3rd great grandfather Mortimer Winsor, but its legacy continued: 
~brother David named a son Mortimer David Winsor 
~brother Clark named a son Henry Mortimer Winsor
~Mortimer named a son Henry Mortimer Winsor (who had a daughter named Minnie born in 1870)
~Mortimer's wife's brother named a son Henry Mortimer Secord (who also had a daughter named Minnie born in 1870!)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

MICHIGAN PIONEER #1: Alanson Thomas

THOMAS FAMILY CONNECTIONS:  Connecticut to Michigan @ 1800

Aaron to Alanson to 3GGM Deiadamia THOMAS (1812-1877), wife of Titus DORT, Jr. (1806-1879)

BACKGROUNDAlanson Thomas was the great-great-great grandson of Great Migration British immigrants (including Matthias Button  and George Geer) and the son of Aaron, Jr. (1754-1825) whose family had been early settlers of New London, Connecticut, originally of Massachusetts.  Aaron Jr., an American Revolutionary War veteran who served in the Continental Army in 1776, had a brother Joel who moved west following post-war treaties, suggesting a term of military service that qualified him for a land bounty in the Michigan Territory.  Aaron, Jr. followed him about (or before) the year 1800 with his wife and children, of whom sons Aaron III and Alanson were born in Windham County, Vermont. The birth of a third son, Joel, places the family in Detroit by the year 1800 when Alanson was 12. 

At the turn of the nineteenth century, the portion of the Northwest Territory now known as Michigan was still part of Indiana Territory.  At that time it was a hotbed of disputed land claims instigated by the the British and the Native American tribes they encouraged to resist U.S. western expansion.  It was wilderness territory where early landholdings -including the Thomas'- began to emerge as narrow ribbons along the Rouge River down to its capital, Detroit.

At the onset of the War of 1812, Alanson Thomas was listed as one of the early settlers along the northern banks of the Rouge River along with Aaron and Uncle Joel.  It is believed that both he and his brother Aaron III served in military defense of their Michigan properties during that time.  Since Alanson's daughter -and my third great-grandmother- was born in May of 1812 in Champaign County, Ohio, it seems reasonable to assume that Alanson relocated his wife, Polly, and young family out of harm's way until the hostilities of war settled down.  But even after the war, ceded Indian lands continued to create dissatisfaction for Native Americans who resented being pushed out of a territory they once claimed.  According to Farmer's History of Detroit and Wayne County and Early Michigan (1890): 
"After the peace of 1815 the Pottawattomie Indians were disaffected and
troublesome, Whether from any specific grievance or from their natural
habits of lawlessness, they frequently committed little depredations on the
sparse settlers along the river Rouge, west of Detroit. They manifested no
desire to engage in open hostilities, but were indifferent to the rights of the
whites, where they conflicted with their own wants or caprices. Tonguish [Tonquish]
was their chief and also their leader in these acts of lawlessness. In his
relations with the whites he was arrogant and imperious. Followed by his
band he entered the houses of settlers and demanded of the occupants such
articles as his need or caprice indicated, and by intimidation secured his
plunder. He generally planned to execute these little forays at such times
as the men were supposed to be absent from home. At such times his object
could be gained without danger to himself by simply over-awing the women.
When the men were at home the Indians frequently came off second best."

ALANSON'S STORY:  (from the same source)
Tonquish's "mark"
"Alanson Thomas lived in a log house on the north side of the river Rouge, about two miles below where the village of Dearborn now stands. His house stood on the brow of the hill. He was one day fixing up some shelves
in his house for his wife’s convenience, when he heard the voice of a man behind him. He turned round and was confronted by the form of Chief
Tonguish, who was ordering his (Thomas’s) wife to hand him something
which he coveted. Thomas demanded, “ What are you doing here?” The
chief sprang at him to seize his person. As quick as thought he met the
brawny fist of Thomas, which landed him senseless the other side of the
room. He then went to him, took him by the hair, raised his head up and
kicked him under each ear, and then threw him out the back door down
the hill. Looking up he saw a band of Tonguish’s Indians standing by
who had witnessed the discomfiture of their chief. One of them, a young
man—son of the chief, looked at Thomas, scowled, shook his head and said,
“Bime-by you be dead.” “ Well, dead or alive,” said Thomas, “I’ll venture
to give you a flogging! ” So he picked up a green withe that had been pro-
cured for fixing his fence, and proceeded to chastise the young man severely.
He jumped up and down and yelled; but he gave the war whoop in vain,
for none of his companions came to his rescue. Thomas’s determined man-
ner over-awed them, and they passively looked on. Instead of serious
trouble, which Thomas anticipated as a result of his treatment, the Indians
were after that afraid of him and avoided him whenever they could."
Location: Wayne Road at Fountain (south of Ann Arbor Trail)
Westland, Wayne Co., Michigan

Source: History of Detroit and Michigan, Silas Farmer 1890 - Part XIII Biographical Pg. 1330-1340

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

MICHIGAN FEVER: Five Family Stories

Tandem Fit Surculus Arbor
A shoot at length becomes a tree”

Michigan Territory in 1822
Michigan was carved out of the larger Northwest Territory in 1805 but did not gain full statehood until 1837 after a boundary dispute with Ohio.  In exchange for a narrow ribbon of land on the northern Ohio border, the 'Toledo Strip,' Michigan gained the entire Upper Peninsula and became the twenty-sixth state in the Union.*   

In the 1620's and '30's many of our British-born ancestors joined in the first Great Migration to the Americas.  Two hundred years later, members of those founding families were again branching out westward, pushing the frontier back along the Great Lakes in the quest for land in the Michigan Territory.  It was a new era of growth for that vast region of dense forests and poor roads as native land treaties opened the way for safer settlement and travel was improved with major (yet still primitive) roadways linking regional hubs such as Detroit and Chicago.  The Erie Canal, opened in 1825, provided a valuable water route that spurred further growth to the region.  Michigan was, for the most part, still wilderness as our ancestral families set up pioneer homesteads in a region that radiated out from its heart, Detroit.  In the decade between 1820-1830, Michigan's population had more than tripled to 31,639 (of which the 'town' of Detroit numbered only 2,222 in 1830).

This was the start of "Michigan Fever" as the territory's population jumped to over 212,000 between 1830-1840.  The majority of the pioneers to this region came from New York and New England.  And this is where our Michigan-transplanted family 'shoots' began to take root as newly emerging communities cropped up between Detroit and Grand Rapids.

In the next series of posts, we will explore the lives and legacy of five families from that era -and even earlier- that provided 'a shoot that, at length, became our Michigan family tree'.  These are the families of my great-great grandparents:  

Andrew Jackson Dort and his wife, Lydia Secord Winsor.  
The surnames below no longer appear in our contemporary family tree simply because they 'died out' as the maiden names of female ancestors, the last being my great-grandmother Mae Louise Dort.  The stories behind these names, however, should not be lost to our future generations since it was through each family that most of our early Michigan roots were formed. 
Michigan Territory 1805-1837
#2:  DORT

*Titus Dort (father of Andrew Jackson Dort) served as a Wayne County delegate for the First Convention of Assent of the Territory of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Sept. 26-30, 1836.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Union Chapel    Cemetery
Inkster, Michigan
Where the Lilacs Once Grew

Over fifty years ago, my great grandma was buried in a small cemetery only a few miles west of where my Dort 'family tree' was planted in Michigan.  Vermont-born Titus Dort and his brothers Josiah, Calvin, and James came to Michigan from Ohio in 1824 on a cattle drive with their father.*  Two years later, twenty year-old Titus and Josiah, 16, returned to set up a brick manufacturing business.  By 1833 Titus had secured a federal contract to supply the bricks to construct the Detroit Arsenal.** He also began to establish himself as a life-long public servant: Dearborn township school commissioner, township assessor and justice of the peace, leading to  numerous other appointments he accepted throughout his lifetime.  Titus went on to serve in Michigan politics *** as a State Representative (1839, 1842, 1865-66) and State Senator (1849-52).  In 1849 he was chairman of the State Commission of Agriculture, instrumental in establishing the State Agricultural College that soon became Michigan State University -the first U. S. institution of higher learning to teach scientific agriculture.  
Titus and his wife Deiadamia had one son, Andrew Jackson Dort, born 1831 in Dearborn.  With his father busy in civic duties, Andrew ran the family 'market garden' farm.  He married Lydia Secord Winsor and raised a large family including:
-Titus Mortimer
-Jay Wilke
-George Brenton
-Kesiah (Kizzie) Augusta
-Deiadamia (Damia) Pauline
-William Ten Eyck
-Mae Louise and
-Asa J. 
Many of the Dort family are buried at Union Chapel Cemetery -including Titus and his brother Josiah (father of Dallas Dort), Titus' wife, Deiadamia, their son Andrew Jackson and wife Lydia, A. J.'s sons William T. E, infant Asa, and youngest daughter -my great grandmother- Mae Louise.  
While researching my family tree, I discovered that -among all the old graves in the Dort plot- only my great grandma Mae's headstone was unfinished:  the last two digits of her death date had not been incised.  With the helpful assistance of the cemetery caretaker, Delores Murley Bailey, I was able to complete this long-overdue task last month.  Thank you, Delores!

2015 photo courtesy of Julie Hahn
 Established in 1833, Union Chapel Cemetery depends on donations for its upkeep.  In addition to annual placement of Memorial Day graveside flags and regular mowing of the grounds, ongoing maintenance is done to keep the 2-acre property and its many gravesites looking nice.  We thank Delores and her husband for over thirty years of dedication to this service.  If you are interested in making a contribution to the upkeep of our ancestors' resting place, please contact: Union Chapel Cemetery c/o Delores Murley Bailey, 7170 Edwards, Belleville, MI  48111.

* (read Titus' story found in Pioneer Collections "A Personal Reminiscence" p.507)
** (from  (c)2013. p 21)  "Construction of the new Detroit Arsenal was completed in 1837.  The complex consisted of 11 buildings enclosed by a wall 12 feet high and 2 1/2 feet thick.  Finally, the new Powder Magazine, located 940 feet east of the Arsenal, was completed in 1839.  Since much of the construction material for the Arsenal was obtained locally, the Arsenal provided jobs for many local residents.  Brick manufacturers, such as Titus Dort eventually constructed a kiln on the Arsenal grounds and produced his bricks on site."

*** (from "Genealogy of the Dart Family In America" by Thaddeus Lincoln Bolton, 1927)
p. 37 "[Titus Dort] served about six terms in the lower house of the Michigan Legislature and about four terms in the Upper House.  He served on the Committee on Agriculture and was responsible in some measure for founding the Agricultural College at Lansing, Mich., and for laying out the plan for organizing the Public Schools of Michigan which has been adopted in large measure in all the other states in the Union.  His farm house stands between Dearborn and Detroit about a mile and a half east of Dearborn, and is owned by Henry Ford..." 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

BLOOD OF FARMERS: Search for Civil War Connections

MORGAN/WILLIAMS -Starkey Connections
Searching for 2GGF Jacob Coleman Morgan
It all began with a black and white photograph of J. Coleman's son, William Thomas Morgan. The image shows William standing next to another man with a typed caption that reads “William T. Morgam & Alf Star---”. The crumpled label obscures the man's last name. He and my great grandfather William stand against a cloth backdrop; both are dressed in suits; William wears a tie and Alf sports a button on his lapel. Although William holds his hands behind his back, they are undoubtedly as work-worn as his companion's. Farmers. They both sport bushy mustaches that are greying; my great grandfather's looks almost white.

But who was Alf? And why were they posed together? I'd have to guess that the photo was taken around the turn of the last century; they appear to be in their early fifties. My curiosity was piqued by the fact that my family tree of over seventy-four hundred people did not include a single surname beginning “Star---”. Until now.

My search for information on my great-great grandfather, Jacob Coleman Morgan has been curiously limited by a scarcity of records. I have an 1850 U.S. Census that lists him as a 17-year old son of James and Athela Morgan. By the 1860 Census, he was listed in Doddridge County as 25 year old husband of L.J. and father of four children. I also found his Civil War draft registration. By the time of the 1870 Census, Jacob's wife had remarried, merging five of their six Morgan children** into the Swiger household.  And, although I have acquired other records, they are probably not for “our” Jacob. (There are at least six Jacob Morgan's in our family tree alone but he seems to be the only Jacob C., and was known as “Coleman.”)

Although my “pre-internet” family tree (based on my father's excellent memory) records Jacob Coleman's death in 1869, modern technology now provides huge archives of information to aid in the refinement of facts that were originally passed down as inter-generational oral history. Data now suggests that my great-great grandfather most likely died sometime between the autumn of 1862 (when his youngest child was conceived) and the autumn of 1865 (when his widow Louisa Jane remarried widower Absalom “Abb” Swiger). And, although it appears that he died during the time of the Civil War, I have not been able to find any verifiable record of military service for Jacob C. Morgan. Or, for that matter, any family stories about him.

My great grandfather William Thomas Morgan would have known his father's story. He may even have passed it on to his grandson, my father Thomas Morgan Glover. But family oral history is often silent on stories difficult to tell. Some family stories were destined to be passed on, others were not. Jacob Coleman's story may have been one of the latter.

While searching for information on Jacob Coleman, I found what appeared to be an unrelated story of three young soldiers named Starkey. There was no mention of J. Coleman, but their story was intriguing ...especially by the fact that their surname started with “Star---” as in the photograph. I still don't know why their Civil War story emerged during this specific search for my great-great grandfather, but it provided the lead to expand my Morgan family line a little more in search of any Starkey connections within it. And there were.

The Morgan-Starkey Connections:
The Morgans are related to the Starkeys through the family of LEVI, SR. and MARY REBECCA (MERRICK) STARKEY. Three of their sons, Samuel, Levi W. F., and Charles were, in turn, the fathers of the three Starkey cousins of the Civil War story I found. (Just to keep family gatherings interesting, all three men also had sons named Samuel, Levi, and Charles.) Our Morgan/Williams family connects through two of LEVI, SR.'s sons:
  • Samuel (born 1791), whose daughter Matilda married Isaac Williams -the uncle of Louisa Jane, wife of Jacob Coleman Morgan. Matilda's brother John T. Starkey was one of the three Starkey Civil War cousins. This means that John T. was the brother of Louisa Jane's aunt.
  • Levi W. F. (born 1806), who married J. Coleman's aunt, Sarah Jane (Price), sister of his mother Athela (Price) Morgan. His son Levi W. was a first cousin to J. Coleman and the second of the three Starkey Civil War cousins.
  • [The third brother, Charles (born 1803) was the father of the third cousin, Curtis Merrick Starkey.]
The Civil War story of these three Starkey cousins is detailed in an excellent online essay entitled “The Blood of Farmers” written in 1997 by Randy Starkey. This carefully researched and tragic story is well worth reading in its entirety at: .

According to Mr. Starkey's research,
Private Curtis M. Starkey, wounded in the wilderness, died of his wounds, in a Washington D.C. hospital on June 10, 1864. His body is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Section 27, Grave #533 in Arlington, Virginia.
Private Levi W. Starkey was treated and later released to return to his home in Marion County, West Virginia. He lived in that county for twenty five more years and later served as school commissioner in Mannington. He moved to Steubenville, Ohio in 1889 and died near there in 1903. It was reported he ultimately died from his battle wound. He is buried in Steubenville.
Private John T. Starkey was treated in a hospital in Washington D.C. He was granted a recuperative furlough in June 1864, to return in July 1864. He went home to his farm in Wetzel County, West Virginia. He failed to return from furlough. His official statement was that he had been too ill to return as required since he was being treated for pneumonia. The army, desperate for troops and unsympathetic, tracked him down. He was arrested at his farm on January 9, 1865, by Deputy United States Marshal Jesse T. Snodgrass. He was taken first to Wheeling, West Virginia, and then to Cumberland, Maryland, on January 12th. He was tried by General Court Martial, for desertion, on February 27, 1865, and found guilty. He was sentenced to be returned to his unit, under guard; to make up all time lost; and to forfeit ten dollars per month, of his private’s pay of thirteen dollars, for a period of twelve months.” (from “The Blood of Farmers,” Randy Starkey, 1997)
NOTE: John T. Starkey was also the father of Alpheus “Alf Star---” Starkey pictured in the photograph with William T. Morgan, “almost” second cousins. Both men were born around 1858 -Alf in Wetzel County, William in neighboring Doddridge County, in soon-to-be West Virginia. Both were eldest sons of farmers and would become farmers themselves. They both would have known their fathers' stories.

We may never know the full story of William T.'s father, J. Coleman Morgan. In a nation where our liberties were once defended in the farmers' fields, the hero's story has always been the one we yearn to hear. But the bloody realities of the Civil War yielded more heartaches than heroics for the men who had to lay down the plow and shoulder the rifle, leaving behind their young families and unplanted crops to defend a fractious national unity with the "Blood of Farmers.”

**[NOTE:  after publishing this post I was able to look back in the Doddridge County census records to find more Jacob C. and Louisa J. Morgan family information.  
In 1860, Jacob and Louisa were both listed as age 25 with the following children:  J.A. (male, age 5), S.A. (female, age 4), M.A. (female, age 3), and W.J. (male, age 2). 
By the 1870 census, widowed Louisa Jane had married Absalom Swiger and the Morgan children in their household were:  Sarah A., 14; Martha A., 13; William T., 11; Mary J., 9; and Caroline M. 6. -aka Amanda C.]

Saturday, May 2, 2015

ANCESTRY: The Reverberating Bell of Ages

In a recent episode of "Who Do You Think You Are," musician Melissa Etheridge stated:   
...I was instantly warmed and moved by the story...
and of course the father/daughter relation always rings a beautiful bell in me,
and how that reverberates on down for generations...
I have a strong belief that the influence of your ancestors,
that influence of their journeys, of their adventures, of their thoughts, of their dreams
are handed down through traditions, through ways that we don't even know.
I can't wait to tell [my children] the journey and the things I have learned.” (TLC 2015)

Many of us who study family history are drawn by that 'reverberating bell of ages' that resonates between the past and the present as we discover the people, traditions, and circumstances of our ancestry.  And, as we follow the sound, we strive to imagine what hopes and dreams inspired our kin -guiding them along the unique paths upon which their lives led from their ancestors to us and on to our children; of  a continuous life line of journeys marked by the ancient ring of a beautiful bell sounding its lingering story of family.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Our Quaker Roots #4: LYDIA WRIGHT ON TRIAL

8GGM Lydia Wright Horner (1655-1713) Quaker daughter of 1635 immigrant, Peter Wright (known as founder of Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York) and wife of Quaker Isaac Horner (who emigrated from Yorkshire, England around 1677)
1661 Petition
"Some Considerations presented unto the King of England, & C. being Partly an Answer unto a petition and Addresse of the Gen. Court of Boston in New-England, Presented unto the King (As Is Said) Feb. Last, the 11th Day." [Edward Burrough, 1661]

Following the 1661 publication and delivery of this document to England's King Charles II detailing the religious intolerance and persecution of Quakers by Puritan law, England stopped Massachusetts courts from executing any more Quakers for professing their faith.  It did not, however, prevent Massachusetts from continuing to deal out harsh punishments instead.  The execution of Mary Dyer that year particularly sparked a passionate response from many Quakers -especially women.  Three of these women were sisters, Mary, Hannah, and my 8th great grandmother, Lydia Wright, daughters of 1635 English immigrants Peter and Alice Wright of Oyster Bay, Long Island.  
On Sunday, July 8, 1677 Lydia and other Friends silently accompanied Margaret Brewster into Boston's South Church during the service to protest current laws that punished Quakers for not conforming to Puritan religious practices.  Margaret, it should be noted, was dramatically dressed in sackcloth that day as a barefoot penitent with her hair down around her shoulders, ashes upon her head, and her face blackened. Needless to say, her wordless visual testimony had its intentionally disruptive effect and, as a result, she and her entourage were immediately arrested and placed in prison where they remained until their hearing the following month.  Lydia was twenty two years old. Here is the transcript as shown in the records of the Boston Court, August 4, 1677.
Clerk. Call Lydia Wright of Long-Island.
L. Wright. Here.
Gov. Are you one of the Women that came in with this Woman into Mr. Thatcher's Meeting-house to disturb him at his Worship?
L. W. I was; but I disturbed none, for I came in peaceably, and spake not a Word to Man, Woman, or Child.
Gov. What came you for then?
L. W. Have you not made a Law that we should come to your Meeting? For we were peaceably met together at our own Meeting-house, and some of your Constables came in, and haled some of our Friends out, and said, This is not a Place for you to worship God in. Then we asked him, Where we should worship God? Then they said, We must come to your publick Worship. And upon the First-day [Sunday] following I had something upon my Heart to come to your publick Worship, when we came in peaceably, and spake not a Word, yet we were haled to Prison, and there have been kept near a Month.
S. Broadstreet. Did you come there to hear the Word?
L. W. If the Word of God was there, I was ready to hear it.
Gov. Did your Parents give Consent you should come thither?
L. W. Yes, my Mother did.
Gov. Shew it.
L. W. If you will stay till I can send Home, I will engage to get from under my Mother's Hand, that she gave her Consent.
Juggins, a Magistrate, said, You are led by the Spirit of the Devil, to ramble up and down the Country, like Whores and Rogues a Cater-wawling.
L. W. Such Words do not become those who call themselves Christians, for they that sit to judge for God in Matters of Conscience, ought to be sober and serious, for Sobriety becomes the People of God, for these are a weighty and ponderous People.
Gov. Did you own this Woman?
L. W. I own her, and have Unity with her, and I do believe so have all the faithful Servants of the Lord, for I know the Power and Presence of the Lord was with us.
Juggins. You are mistaken: You do not know the Power of God; you are led by the Spirit and Light within you, which is of the Devil: There is but one God, and you do not worship that God which we worship.
L. W. I believe thou speakest Truth, for if you worshipped that God which we worship, you would not persecute his People, for we worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the same God that Daniel worshipped.
So they cried, Take her away.
Following the hearings, the court clerk read the governor's sentence as required by the 1661 "more humane" law*:
~Margaret Brewster was to be tied to a cart's-tail at the South meeting-house, stripped to the waist and drawn through the town to receive twenty lashes across her bare body.
~Lydia and the two other women were to be tied to the cart, too. 
In the words of Joseph Besse, author of a 1753 book documenting the deplorable plight of 17th century Quakers:
"During the Examination of these Women, they appeared altogether unconcerned as to themselves, being fully resigned to whatsoever Sufferings might be their Portion; stedfastly maintaining their full Assurance of a divine Call to the Service they went upon, and a perfect Peace and Serenity of Mind in yielding Obedience thereunto:  In all which they seem to have really exercised the Faith and Patience of the Saints and People of God." (Joseph Besse, ``A Collection of the Sufferings of the People Called Quakers''; Vol. II (Chapter V: New England )
Note:  Lydia returned to Oyster Bay but was drawn to the colony of Barbados where Margaret Brewster lived.  She was granted a traveler's certificate by the Society of Friends Quarterly Meeting at Flushing, Long Island on 30th day of the 10th month [Dec.], 1682 that read:
...Friends at Barbadoes, Antigoe, Nevis, Jamaica ... where this may come greeting, whereas, the bearer hereof, our deare friend, Lydia Wright, hath ...time had drawings and moveings on her heart, and minde in ye love of God to visit the seed of God in those parts, and now finding freedom in his love, hath signified ye same unto consideration of this our men and women's Quarterly meeting, we, after a weighty consideration and examination of matters, in God's feare, for ye preservation and exaltation of God'struth, both in particular and in generall, we, with unanimous consent, did and doe aquiess with ye motion of her going to visit friends in your parts, as having good unity therein and therewith; moreover, yt she is one yt hath walked as becometh truth ever since her convincement, according to our knowledge ---- have not heard to ye contrary but has lived in unity with us, and we with her in ye truth. In which truth, that never changeth, we recommend this our deare friend and sister unto you, hoping and desiring your godly care over her, who are your brethren and sisters in ye same truth.
This lovingly written certificate was signed by over twenty members including her sisters Mary and Hannah, both of whom had also been imprisoned years earlier for witnessing their faith.  The meeting secretary's name headed the list:  Isaac Horner.  Lydia returned from Barbados to marry Isaac on 17th March, 1683/4.  Following the birth of their first child in 1685, Lydia and Isaac moved along with Mary and her husband to New Jersey, where the Horner family tree took root.  Sadly, Lydia's sister Hannah  drown on a missionary trip when a boat overturned on the western shore of Maryland.
*See Whittier's poem "The King's Missive"  in which the last Quaker condemned to death and twenty-seven other Quakers were released from prison:
 ..."So the door of the jail was open cast,
And, like Daniel, out of the lion's den
Tender youth and girlhood passed,
With age-bowed women and gray-locked men.
And the voice of one appointed to die
Was lifted in praise and thanks on high,
And the little maid from New Netherlands
Kissed, in her joy, the doomed man's hands."
 Both Mary and Hannah Wright of Long Island (in NY, then New Netherlands) were among the 27 Quakers released that day in 1661, with Hannah only fifteen or sixteen years old.  Since the poet was given facts from the case as background for writing this poem, it seems likely that the "little maid from New Netherlands" represented young Hannah, known as 'The Devotee'.