Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thomas Tindall (d. 1713) (52 Ancestors, #35)

Thomas Tindall > Elizabeth Tindall > Elizabeth Pearson > Mary Elizabeth Hutchinson > William Phares > Robert Phares > Samuel Clevenger Phares > Francis Marion Phares > Amy Louise Phares > Cecil Lloyd Walters > Charles Lloyd Walters

Thomas is believed to have come from England to New Jersey in 1678. He was selected as constable for 1692-3 and in 1695 he was listed among the inhabitants of Nottingham township, New Jersey. According to the tax records for Nottingham in 1703, Thomas owned 460 acres of land, an average size of property for the township. The land that he owned is in present day Trenton, New Jersey.

In 1703, Thomas was among the men who wrote to the governor requesting permission to establish a church in the township of Hopewell. The group had "a pious design to promote the honor of God and the advancement of the Protestant religion and Church of England" and had purchased land in order to build a church "for the more decent worshiping of God." The St. Michael's Church was established in 1703 and is still in existence today.

Thomas died between July and October of 1713 when his will was written and proven. Included in his will is wife Isabel and his 12 children. The will also mentions his 3 farms, including one on the “Assunbinck” (probably the Assunpink Creek), one in Hopewell Township and his “home farm.” The value of his personal estate was valued at £505.2, a sizable estate for the time.

Sources: History of Burlington and Mercer; History of St. Michael's Church; History of Trenton, NJ; "Copy of the Minute Book of Nottingham Township"; Abstracts of New Jersey Will, Volume XXIII.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Great-Grandpa John Erickson (1875-1968) (52 Ancestors, #34)

John Erickson > Daniel Erickson

John Erickson, also known as Per Johan Erikson, was born on March 1, 1875 in Borgsjö, Västernorrland, Sweden and was the eldest son of Erik Person and Juliana Marta Persdotter. John came to America on June 2, 1893 with 2 of his siblings. Their immigration was arranged by their father’s brother, Nels Utterberg of French Lake, Minnesota. John and his siblings traveled from New York by train to meet their uncle and his family. I wonder what thoughts were going through John’s mind as they set out on their voyage. He was only 18 years old and responsible for his 16-year-old brother, Erick (aka Conrad) and 14-year-old sister, Anna. They were traveling to an unknown land to meet an uncle they probably hadn't seen in over 10 years.

John worked his first American winter as a logger near Deer Creek, MN in order to raise money. Using the money he earned, in 1896 he purchased an 80 acre farm from Andrew Johnson of French Lake. The following year, John sent for his parents and siblings, Edward, Julia and Ella, and they joined him in French Lake. The original house on his farm was just a two-room log home. In 1910, John built a framed home and also built a home for his parents. The land John farmed has been in the Erickson family ever since. John lived on his farm until he was 89, when he moved in with his sons Clarence and Lawrence.

John's wife, Emma Larson, was first married to Edward Erickson, John's brother. Edward died of tuberculosis in 1907 and Emma married John on July 2, 1908. John and Emma’s household included their 8 children and 2 children from Emma’s first marriage. Sadly, Emma died following the birth of son Edwin in 1923. Being left to raise an infant, along with his 9 other children, John decided to have Edwin raised by John and Hazel Larson (Emma’s brother and sister-in-law). Although he wasn’t part of the immediate household, John made sure Edwin was often included as part of the Erickson family.

Although he only attended school for three years in Sweden, John worked to educate himself and loved to read. He was first received to the Grace Lutheran Church on May 13, 1900 and was an active member. He taught Sunday School (and one of his young pupils was his future daughter-in-law, my Grandma), and he served as Sunday School Superintendent for a number of years. He also served on a number of boards including creamery, school and town boards.

John died on September 20, 1968 and is buried alongside wife Emma in the Grace Lutheran Cemetery. At the time of his death John had 43 grandchildren, 47 great-grandchildren and 2 great-great-grandchildren.

Following the death of Emma in 1923, John placed a “thank you” in the local paper to thank the community for the $549 that was presented to the family. He wrote, “May God help me bring [my children] up for Him and His Kingdom, and to be worthy citizens of this great country of ours.” I like to believe Grandpa John would be proud of his Erickson descendants. I know I am.

Sources: Grace Lutheran Church Records, Cokato Museum; Newspaper clippings, Cokato Museum and Wright County Museum; family recollections and photographs

Monday, October 13, 2014

Matthias Button -- Witch Trials, Fires, and Godfrey (52 Ancestors, #33)

Matthias Button > Sarah Button > Ephraim Kingsbury > Rachel Kingsbury > Esther Laurence > George Palmer Ransom > Samuel Ransom > Jameson Harvey Ransom > Charles Francis Ransom > Lillian Emma Ransom > Charles Lloyd Walters

The early life of Matthias Button is unclear. Some histories say he was English, other that he was a Dutchman. We do know he was in Boston by 1634, moved to Ipswich by 1641 and by 1646 he had settled in Haverhill, Massachusetts. In looking through local and family histories, the family live of Matthias is a bit unclear. He was married a number of times. His first wife, Lettyce was a member of the First Church of Boston in 1634 and had at least 2 children baptized in the church. It is believed his next wife was Joan, followed by Teagel. (I’ve also seen it suggested that Lettyce and Teagel could be the same person and Joan wasn’t married to Matthias). Elizabeth (Wheeler) Duston was Matthias’ final wife who outlived him.

One thing is very clear – Matthias had an enemy in John Godfrey.

John Godfrey was an unusual man. His background is unknown and he never seemed to settle into any permanent home, instead moving from place to place, staying with various people. One place he could be found, however, was in court. Between 1658 and 1675 Godfrey was in court for a minimum of 132 cases, 89 times as the plaintiff, 30 times as the defendant, and 13 times under criminal charges, all with a surprisingly high success rate.
What John Godfrey is most notorious for however, were the charges of witchcraft. He was first charged in 1658/9 and although he was acquitted, the courts labeled him as “suspicious.” Godfrey, it would seem, had little concern for how he was received by others. Even though the communities regarded him as suspicious, Godfrey had a “tendency to say things that would startle, or confuse, or annoy his listeners.”

In 1665/6 he was again charged with witchcraft and Matthias Button and his daughters Sarah and Mary were called as witnesses before the court in Boston. The verdict of the court was, “We find him not to have the fear of God in his heart. He has made himself suspiciously guilty of witchcraft, but not legally guilty according to the law and evidence we have received.”

In 1669, Matthias sued Godfrey for “firing his chimney which caused his house to burn and the goods therein, also the death of his wife, and for running away as soon as he had done it.” Matthias’ wife Teagel died in 1662 and it is believed that she was victim of this fire. I find it curious that Matthias would wait so long to make the claims against Godfrey. Perhaps the witchcraft and other charges brought against Godfrey helped to spur Matthias to believing that Godfrey was to blame. Whether Godfrey was at fault or not, we’ll never know, but the courts of the day believed him to have some part in the tragedy. While the court did not have the power to claim that Godfrey was responsible for the death, they did award Matthias £238 2s.

The drama between Matthias and Godfrey didn’t stop here. For years they continued to bring each other to court over a variety of issues, many connected to the loss of his wife and personal property. The troubles even extended past Matthias’ death as their final court case was dismissed because Matthias was unable to make his court appearance, having been dead for several weeks. Even after his death, Godfrey continued to appear in the court records, seeking payments that were promised him from previous cases involving Matthias.
Haverhill is only a few miles from Salem, Massachusetts and in looking through some of the pages and volumes of court case for Essex County, it is little wonder that, in about 20 years, the area would find itself in the middle of the Salem Witch Trials.

Matthias died on August 13, 1672 and didn’t leave a will. The estate’s inventory was taken, in part, by Henry Kingsbury (his daughter, Sarah’s father-in-law) on March 9, 1673. The division of the estate was finally decided by the courts on November 14, 1676, more than four years after Matthias’ death. The estate was to be divided into five equal parts, one part for each child. Two daughters were to have their portions “delivered to their husbands as soon as possible” and the other shares were to be delivered when the other children were of age or married.

Sources: The Records ofthe First Church in Boston, 1630-1868, volume 1, Richard D. Pierce, editor; Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, Ancestry; Records and filesof the Quarterly Courts of Essex County Massachusetts, vol. IV 1667-1671 (and additional volumes); Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of EarlyNew England, chapter 2, “Peace with No Man” by John Putnam Demos, Google Books; History of Haverhill, Massachusetts: From its first settlement, in 1640, to the year 1860, Ancestry; Probate Court Records of Essex County, Massachusetts

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ephraim Kingsbury (1681-1756) (52 Ancestors, #32)

Ephraim Kingsbury > Rachel Kingsbury > Esther Laurence > George Palmer Ransom > Samuel Ransom > Jameson Harvey Ransom > Charles Francis Ransom > Lillian Emma Ransom > Charles Lloyd Walters

Ephraim Kingsbury was born on April 13, 1681 in Haverhill, Massachusetts to James and Sarah (Button) Kingsbury. By 1699, the family had moved to Plainfield, Connecticut. He married Phebe Main, probably around 1700-1702 as their first child, Ephraim Jr, was born Oct. 15, 1702.

By 1709 Ephraim was voting for town officers. Between 1720 and 1741, he was selected 17 times to serve as Plainfield's representative to the General Assembly (selections were made in May and October). His daughter’s father-in-law, Daniel Lawrence, was also a representative during this same time. Ephraim was also part of a committee that selected a new location for the meeting house.

His will was dated March 5, 1756 and it was brought to the courts on October 8, 1756, so Ephraim died sometime during that time. He leaves his estate to his wife, Phebe. After her death, the estate was to be divided between daughters Phebe Cady and Rachel Lawrence. He had previously given his sons Ephraim and John a "deed of gift" which was to go to their heirs. His grandson, William Cady was to be executor.

Sources: Massachusetts Vital Records,; Connecticut, Births and Christenings,; The Genealogy of the Descendants of Henry Kingsbury, of Ipswich and Haverhill by Frederick John Kingsbury, 1905, Google Books

Monday, September 15, 2014

Richard “Bull” Smith, founder of Smithtown, NY (52 Ancestors, #31)

Richard Smith > Job Smith > James Smith > Temperance Smith > Keturah Tuthill > Elizabeth Lamoreaux > Samuel Ransom > Jameson Harvey Ransom > Charles Francis Ransom > Lillian Emma Ransom > Charles Lloyd Walters

The early life of Richard remains unclear, although tradition says he was born in York, England and that his father fought alongside Cromwell. After coming to the colonies, Richard may have resided in Boston for a short time before moving to Long Island.

According to the History of Long Island, Richard was a resident of Southampton, NY until 1656 when he was ordered to leave due to his "unreverend carriage towards the Magistrates." From here he moved to Setauket, NY before settling in an area on Long Island that would come to bear his name, Smithtown.

Richard is sometimes referred to as "Bull" Smith and there are several legends surrounding the man and his nickname. One tradition says he was called “Bull” because he rode a bull instead of a horse. Some stories carry this further, saying that before the founding of Smithtown, the local Native Americans’ told Richard he could have whatever land he could encircle from the back of a bull. Whatever the truth behind his name, it has become a piece of the history of Smithtown and a statue of a bull can still be found, in honor of the city's founder.

There was some disagreement over the rightful ownership of the land Richard claimed was his. In a document signed May 4, 1665, Richard states that he bought the land from Lyon Gardiner, a prominent settler and soldier. Meanwhile, some of the Native Americans said the land belonged to them, while others believed the land had been rightfully sold to Richard. In the end, Richard "thought good to buy the land" for which he paid one gun, one kettle, ten coats, one blanket, three hands of powder and three hands of lead.

Richard and his wife Sarah had at least 9 children. Richard probably died in 1693, as his will was proven on May 2, 1693.

Below I've included Richard’s entire will. It is a typical will of the day, “misspellings” and all. (Standardized spelling didn't come along until later, even in proper names. The will belongs to “Richard Smith” but it is signed “Richard Smyth.”)

One thing I noticed with Richard’s will that differs from other wills I've read, is that it seems to be written from both Richard and Sarah. The will asks that “our” bodies received a decent burial and items are given to “our children.” While Sarah’s name and seal are included at the close of the will, there is no mention of her in the will itself. Usually, when the wife is still alive, there are some provisions made for her. Maybe it was thought that Sarah wouldn't long outlive her husband, but in actuality, she outlived Richard by a number of years.
The will opens with Richard saying he is “of sound and perfect memory” and gives the reminder that it is God’s will that determines how long everyone lives.

When reading these old wills, I always find it interesting to see the differences in what each child is given. As was fairly common, the eldest son, Jonathan, was given a larger portion that his siblings. Also fairly common, and sadly so, two of the sons were each bequeathed a slave. Most of the children were given a specific piece of land along with “a share of land in division with the rest of the children,” however son Adam only received a share of the land. I wonder why he was given such a smaller portion. (There could be a number of reasons for this. Maybe there was a disagreement in the family, or maybe Richard had simply given Adam his share prior to his death.) 

Richard’s two daughters received land as well as his clothing which suggests how valuable clothing was in the day, especially when it was the only household item singled out in the will. Sons Jonathan and Richard were named executors and it was their duty to pay Richard’s debts and see that the estate was divided among the children.

The Will of Richard Smith
March the 5th 1691-2. In the name of God, Amen.

I Richard Smith Sen'r of Smithtown in the County of Suffolk on Long Island, in the Province of New York, being sick & weake in body but of sound and perfect memory, thanks be to God, calling to mind the uncertain state of this life and that we must submit to God's will when it shall please him to call us out of this life, doe make constitute and ordain this our land will & testament, hereby revoking and anulling any former or other Will or Testament made by us either by word or writing.
Imprimis. We give our soules to God who gave them & our bodyes being dead to be decently buried in such place and manner as to or Executors hereafter named shall seem convenient, and as for the lands, goods & Chattels wherewith it has pleased God to endue us withal, our just debts & Legacyes being first paid, we order and dispose in manner and forme following.
Item. To Jonathan Smith our oldest son we give & bequeath our house, barn and orchard joyning to his home log, and the homestead as far as the old fence Northward and halfe way from the said house to Samuel's house; and thence to the West ende of the barn, and the wood close on the East side of the little brook over against the house and forty acres of land more than his equall share in division with the rest of our children, and that lot of meadow over against the hiss on the West side of the River.
Item. To our son Richard we give and bequeath our negro Harry and an equall share of land in dividsion with the rest of our children.
Item. To our son Job we give & bequeath our negro Robin for the terme of tweleve years and an equall share of land in dividsion with the rest of our children, and at the end of sd twelve years the said Robin shall be free.
Item. To our son Adam we give an equall share of Land in division with the rest of our children.
Item. To our son Samuel Smith we give and bequeath the orchard Southward of the house, & half the pasture bounded by the little Creek, the Eastward parte thereof, & the lower or northward most fresh Island on the east side of the river, with an equall share of land in division with the rest of our children, and the swamp called the North swamp, with the land on the East side which is fenced.
Item. To our son Daniel we give and bequeath the other halfe of the pasture Southward of his house, the westward part of it, and an equall share of land in division with the rest of our children. & our will is that James Necke shall be and remaine for the use and improvement of my six sons above said and their heires forever.
Item. To our daughter Elizabeth Townley we give & confirm that land and meadow at a place called Sunk Meadow as it is mentioned in a deed made by us, & also the one half of my cloathing.
Item. To our daughter Laurence we give & bequeth an equall parte & share of land in division with the rest of our children where it shall be most suitable & convenient, also the other halfe of my clothing.
Lastly we doe hereby nominate and appoint our beloved sons Jonathan & Richard Smith, Executors of this our last Will, & Testament, to pay all our just debts and to make an equall partition amongst all our children, of all the goods & chattels & what moveable estate shall be left.
In Witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals the day and year above named.
Richard Smyth [seal]
Sarah Smyth [seal]
Sealed & delievered in presence of
John Roe
Jonathan Lewis
Thomas Helme
Proved May 2, 1693

Sources: A History of Long Island by Peter Ross, 1902; Portrait and Biographical Record of Suffolk County (Long Island) New York, from Google Books; will and other documents from Records of Smithtown, (In the will, “the” was written as “ye” but I changed it to make the reading smoother).

Monday, September 8, 2014

John Cortright (1714-1783) (52 Ancestors #30)

John Cortright > Elisha Courtright > Isaac Cortright > Mabel Dodson Cortright > Jameson Harvey Ransom > Charles Francis Ransom > Lillian Emma Ransom > Charles Lloyd Walters

John Cortright was born in New York in 1714. I’ve come across a wide variety of spellings and variations of his name, including Johannes and Hannes Kortrecht. His baptism is recorded in the records of the Dutch church of Kingston, Ulster Co., New York on August 15, 1714. His parents were “Cornelis Kortregt” and “Christina Roose-krans.” The Cortright family lived in the area, known as Minisink, a region that included parts of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. John married Margriet Dennemerken, and the baptisms of 7 of their children were recorded in the Walpeck Church (New Jersey) and the Wachackemeck Church (near Port Jervis, NY). 

Around 1744, John and his family moved near Smithfield, PA and the 1772 tax records for the area include John and his sons John, Christopher and Elisha. John died sometime between January 31, 1783 (when his will was written) and May 12, 1783 (when the inventory of his estate was taken). In a number of Cortright histories, I have seen mention that John’s sons John and Christopher were both killed in the Battle of Wyoming (My ancestor Capt. Samuel Ransom also died in that battle). However, according to the abstract of John Sr.'s will, while Christopher is deceased, his son John is still living. 

In the early days of every colonial community, the people’s attention soon turned to organizing church meetings. Beginning in 1741, the Dutch Reform Churches of Minisink employed Rev. Johannes Casparus Fryenmuth as their first minister.  On his vacation Sundays, Fryenmuth would spend them in the area of Rochester and it wasn’t long before the people of Rochester wanted him as their pastor. 

When the people of Minisink learned they could have their pastor “seduced” away from them, they sent the following strongly-worded letter to Rochester. The authors, including John Cortright, made no qualms about what they thought of the attempted theft. The fact that the Minisink people had only recently welcomed Fryenmuth back from Holland after paying for his voyage and education may also have had something to do with their fear of losing their new pastor. As Fryenmuth remained with the Minisink churches, it appears the letter had the desired effect.

Minisink, Dec. 6th, 1741
To the Rev. Consistory of Rochester, greeting:

We, your servants, having learned that you have had correspondence with our pastor, and have seduced him, so far as to send him a call, thinking that the large amount of salary promised him will induce him to leave us – the Lord who thus far has caused your acts of supplanting to fail will further direct them to a good end. We find ourselves bound to obey the command of the Saviour “Do good to them that hate you;” we therefore will deal with you hereafter, as we have before, “doing you good.” It is true you give us no thanks for his services among you. You are bold enough to say that he has eight free Sundays during the year, which is as true as the assertion of the Devil to Eve, “You will not surely die.”

If you desire, then, to have our minster four or six times during the year, we will grant your wish cheerfully, and leave it with our pastor to settle with you as to the amount of his compensation. If this cannot prevent the execution of your unjust intention, and the Lord wishes to use you as a rod to chasten us, we shall console ourselves with his gracious words, Heb, 12, “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and he rebukes every son whom he adopts.” If it please the Lord to permit you to deprive us of our pastor, then we hope that your consciences will not be seared to much as to take away our livelihood amounting to £125 12s 6d. (over paid salary)

Should this however be the case, then we will not hesitate to give the matter into the hands of a worldly judge. We expect your answer, and conclude our discourse with the wish that the grace of our Lord and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, may remain with you until a blessed eternity. Amen. We remain your servants.

John Cortright
John Van Vliet
Abm. Van Rampen
William Cole

Sources: Letter and its English translation from A History of the Minisink Region by Charles E. Stickney, 1867,  emphasis is mine; Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications,; Minisink Valley Reformed Dutch Church Records, 1716-1830, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society,;  Baptismal and Marriage Register of the Old Dutch Church of Kingston,; History of the Van Kortryks or Courtrights, by Dudley Vattier Courtright, 1923; New Jersey Abstract of Wills 1670-1817, 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Eva Margareta Nilsson (1866-1947) (52 Ancesters #29)

Eva Margareta Nilsson > Edward Lundeen > Marion Elisabeth Lundeen

I love Eva's wedding dress!
(click on the picture for a closer look)
Eva Margareta Nilsson was born to Johan Nilsson and Anna Jonasdotter on Oct 12, 1866 in Lekaryd, Kronoberg, Sweden in the province of Småland. In 1884, at the age of 17, Eva came to America.** She was in Bay City, Wisconsin for a short time before moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota. While living there, she visited the area of Albion, near Annandale, Minnesota. It was on that visit that she met John Lundeen. The couple was married in Minneapolis on April 16, 1887.

John and Eva lived and worked their farm in Albion. Eva gave birth to 6 children including Alice who died at the age of 3 years old. (I remember hearing something about an accident with a stove or fire?) The couple also had an adopted daughter, Agnes. In 1917, John and son Carl opened a garage in Annandale, called “John Lundeen and Son.” Later, John would step aside and his sons Walter and Henry would join Carl. The business became Lundeen Bros., Inc., a Ford agency, and is still in business in Annandale. 

Ed, John, Carl, Agnes, Eva, Walter, Joe

Son Edward continued to work the family farm, and the 1940 census shows Ed’s family and John and Eva lived on the farm together. Following John’s death in 1940, Eva moved to Annandale and lived with her youngest son, Henry (or as I remember him, Uncle Hank). Eva died on January 18, 1947 and is buried in the Albion Free Church Cemetery. One of the 4 pastors that officiated her funeral, Rev. Wallace Larson (at that time pastor at the Annandale Free Church) was my first pastor more than 30 years later, (then at the Albion Free Church).

In April 1937, John and Eva, along with 350 family and friends, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. The afternoon included an informal program where memories of their love and generosity were shared and congratulations from those absent were read. The final speech was given by son Carl, and as the local paper reported, “In the remarks by Carl, the stranger could picture this couple starting married life in a very small house, the floor of which was of wide, rough and loose boards, with very little furniture. Little by little improvements were made until the farm was comfortably equipped with buildings and furnishings that makes farming easier.”  

The conclusion of Eva’s obituary focuses on her faith. At a young age, Eva had given her heart to the Lord. She was a faithful member of the Albion Free Church and the oldest member at the time of her death. As stated in a family history, “John and Eva’s high ideals and Christian hospitality were an inspiration to all who knew them and lived in their children’s lives and that of successive generations.”
Eva and her sons

Sources: Newspaper articles from Annandale Advocate from Wright County Historical Society; Census records from; family photos and clippings.

**Does anyone know if she came on her own or if she was traveling with or meeting family in America? The info I have says her parents died in Sweden and her obit only mentions siblings in Sweden.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

John Tuthill, Graffiti Artist? (1658-1754) (52 Ancestors, #28)

John Tuthill > James Tuthill > John Tuthill > Keturah Tuthill > Elizabeth Lamoreaux > Samuel Ransom > Jameson Harvey Ransom > Charles Francis Ransom > Lillian Emma Ransom > Charles Lloyd Walters

John Tuthill was born in Southold, New York on February 14, 1658 to John and Deliverance (King) Tuthill. He married Mehetable Wells and the couple had at least 11 children. John’s father and father-in-law are listed among the founders of Southold which is located at the eastern end of Long Island.

John owned a large amount of land in Southold. He was also a member of the New York Provincial Assembly in from 1693-94 and again from 1695-98. He served as Justice of the Peace and Sheriff and was one of the men responsible for establishing the first road that ran the entire length of Long Island.

In a speech given in 1868, one of John’s descendants described John as having “great natural shrewdness and energy of character” and this combined with his friend manner and honesty made him “a great favor with the people.”

John was known as “Chalker John” Tuthill because of his habit of always carrying chalk with him which he used to mark various things and to do figures as the need arose.

John died on November 21, 1754 at the age of 96.

Sources: Salmon Records; English Origins of New England Families, Second Series Vol III - speech by Hon. William H. Tuthill from; The Tuthill Family by Lucy Dubois Akerly; Ancestors of James Wilson Yates and his Wife Nancy Davis Terry by Josephine C. Frost

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

John Walters (52 Ancestors, #27)

John Walters > Melchior Walters > Freeman Walters > Florence Eugene Walters > Cecil Lloyd Walters > Charles Lloyd Walters

Earlier this week I had a delightful lunch with my cousin – my fourth cousin twice-removed, to be exact, but a cousin all the same. We chatted about our common line and shared stories about other branches too, as well as life in general. I thought it fitting that my next post be about our common ancestor.

John Walters was born on June 11, 1783 and was christened at the First Reformed Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His parents were Melchior and Barbara Walters.
Sometime after 1800, the Walters family moved from Lancaster to Bath in Steuben County, New York. He married Pamela Chapman, daughter of Caleb and Lydia Chapman, sometime before 1810.

John, along with his father-in-law, Caleb Chapman, was one of the founders of the town of Urbana. It was formed on April 17, 1822 out of the township of Bath, New York. The first elections were held in March 1823 and John was one of several men elected as "Path Master." A history written about the area stressed the importance of this position, saying it was one of “the most essential and important offices in the town.” The Path Masters, or Overseers of the Roads, were responsible for the roads in this untouched land and “to have good roads was the key to the rapid development of the township.” John was also chosen to be a fence viewer. A fence viewer would be in charge of inspecting the conditions and location of fences and settling any disputes that may arise due to placement or escaped livestock.

Based on census records, it appears John and Pamela had at least 7 children, although not all lived to adulthood. Son Melchior is my direct ancestor and his brother Franklin is the forefather of my cousin. Following Pamela’s death in 1822, John married Susanna.

John died on April 2, 1850 and is buried in the North Urbana Hill Cemetery in Urbana. Pamela, Susanna and a number of other family members are also buried there.

Sources: census records from; birth records from; An Outline History of Tioga and Bradford Counties in Pennsylvania, Chemung, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins and Schuyler in New York from Google Books; cemetery report from

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Charles Lloyd Walters and Marion Elisabeth Lundeen - My Grandparents (52 Ancestors, #25 & 26)

Chuck and Marion - My Grandparents

Of all the ancestors in my tree whom I have never met, these are the two people who have had a profound influence on my life. My mom’s parents, they died a few months before I was born and I love the stories I've heard about them and their love for each other.
35 years ago today, they died tragically, in an accident that also claimed the life of their infant granddaughter Jessica. Even after all these years, I still run into people who remember them. Some remember their deaths, still saddened by it, but others remember their lives. I remember seeing an elderly gentleman, with tears in his eyes, telling my mom what Marion, his Sunday School teacher, had meant to him. Some may argue that you can’t miss something that you never knew, but it is in moments like those, that I do miss my grandparents. 
25th Anniversary

Their faith and belief in God that they taught and shared with their daughters has continued, and sad as it was, their deaths were a deciding factor for my dad becoming a pastor, sending our family along a path, that although my siblings and I may have groaned and joked about being “pastor’s kids,” I can imagine my life any differently.

Charles Lloyd Walters was born on June 29, 1923 in Clear Lake, Iowa to Cecil Lloyd and Lillian Emma (Ransom) Walters. Chuck moved around a lot in his young life. He father was a preacher and the family was often moving from one place to another. Eventually the family settled on a farm near Annandale, Minnesota. Chuck farmed along his father and then on his own. It was here he raised his own family until the time of his death. 

Marion Elisabeth Lundeen was born on February 20, 1925 to Edward and Agnes (Lindberg) Lundeen, of Albion, Minnesota (near Annandale). She attended college in St. Cloud and then taught at Annandale. My mom says she had a variety of different colored shoes she would wear to school to keep the attention of her first graders. She also considered herself "half-dressed" if she didn't have her earrings on.

Chuck and Marion were married on July 12, 1952 at the Albion Free Church, the same church where many Lundeens and Walters worshiped, were married and buried. The bride “wore an ice blue gown of nylon tulle and lace, an ice-blue veil caught at the temples with blue forget-me-nots. Her bouquet was of pink camellias, pink and white carnations. Her pearl necklace and earrings were a gift from the groom. For ‘something old’, the bride wore her grandmother’s ring of Swedish gold.”

Chuck and Marion died on July 15, 1979 and are buried next to each other in the Albion Free Church.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Benjamin Brooks 1671-1755 (52 Ancestors, #24)

Benjamin Brooks > William Brooks > Lemuel Brooks > Aurel Brooks > Almira Allen > Emma Sanderson > Elmira Lyons > Lillian Emma Ransom

Benjamin Brooks was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on July 25, 1671 to William and Mary (Burt) Brooks. He married Mary Barnard around 1692 and the couple had 12 children together. 
Benjamin Brooks Son of William & Mary Brooks born July 25, 1671
Springfield, Massachusetts Vital Records
Benjamin was a soldier in Father Rasle's War. Father Sebastien Rasle (or Rale) was a French Jesuit missionary to the Native Americans. Father Rasle worked with the Abenaki people, located in Maine, where he preached Christ to the Indians. The English, on the other hand, were certain that Rasle was instigating the Indians against the English and even had a price on the Father's head. On August 23, 1724, a force of 208 soldiers attacked the Abenaki village of Norridgewock were 26 natives were killed along with Father Rasle. The English claimed it a victory and the Indians looked upon their fallen leader as a martyr. Benjamin's brother Joseph, and nephew Nathaniel (son of brother Nathaniel) was also in the war.

While the attacks of the Father Rasle's War were to the extreme, any fear and dislike the Brooks family may have felt towards the French and Indian forces wasn’t without reason. Nathaniel Brooks, Benjamin’s brother, was living with his family in Deerfield, Mass, in 1704 when French and Indian soldiers raided the village. Nathaniel, along with his pregnant wife Mary and their two children were forced to march north to Canada. Along the way, Mary fell on some ice which resulted in a miscarriage. Mary was unable to continue on the march. She told the Rev. John Williams, who later told of the groups trials, that she would "not be able to travel far, and I know they will kill me to-day; but God has by his spirit, with his word, strengthened me to my last encounter with death. I am not afraid of death. I can, through the grace of God, cheerfully submit to the will of God. Pray for me that God would take me to himself." Mary was indeed killed and the fate of the two children is unknown. Nathaniel was able to return from Canada in 1707. Another of Nathaniel’s children, also named Nathaniel, faced a similar fate. He was capture by Indians in 1756 and brought to Canada where he was last heard from in 1758.

In the Springfield town meeting held on March 9, 1702/3 Benjamin was one of six men to see to the “law about swine” and the “ringing & yoking them.” Apparently the town’s swine were a common topic of discussion including where they should be penned, when they were allowed at certain places and what to do if there was a wondering pig. 

Benjamin is also in the town records as having received various land grants. There are also a number of records of him receiving money for the hiring of his bull in which he was paid anywhere from 15s to £2 a year. 

Benjamin died in Springfield, Massachusetts on May 3, 1775.

Benjamin Brooks of Springfield Died May 3. anno: Dom: 1755
Springfield, Massachusetts Vital Records

Sources: Massachusetts, Springfield Vital Records, 1638-1887 from; William Brooks of Springfield, Mass., and Some of His Descendants by Joel Nelson Eno, from the NEHGS Register, Vol. 72, Google Books; The First Century of the History of Springfield, The Official Records from 1636 to 1736 from Google Books; history about Father Rasle’s War from Wikipedia

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Florence Eugene Walters (52 Ancestors, #23)

Florence Eugene Walters > Cecil Lloyd Walters > Charles Lloyd Walters

Back: Maude and Will
Middle: Florence Eugene, C. Lloyd, Stella May and Amy
Front: twins Verneille and Verdette
Florence Eugene Walters was the son of Freeman and Jennie (Baisley) Walters. He was born on May 14, 1862 in Rochelle, Illinois. By 1870, his family had moved to DeWitt, Clinton Co., Iowa. On April 26, 1888 he married Amy Phares in Clinton, DeWitt, Illinois. At the time of their marriage, Florence Eugene, (aka Eugene or Gene) was working as a locomotive fireman, but soon after the couple was married, Eugene began farming near Maroa, Illinois. 

Around 1907, Eugene, Amy and their six children moved near Holstein, Iowa. Eugene recorded that he earned $900 in 1914 while working the farm near Holstein. It may not sound like much, but considering the average income was less than $700, the family was probably doing alright. While Eugene had always rented his farm land in the past, when the family moved near Winterset, Iowa, he now purchased his farm. After just a few years, Eugene purchased the home (valued at $12000 in 1925) that would be his last, a farm in Lincoln Township, between Clear Lake and Mason City, Iowa. 
Home near Maroa, Illinois

On the morning of September 27, 1926, Eugene milked his 10 cows and upon returning to the house to rest on the couch, he suffered a heart attack and died shortly after. He is buried in the Clear Lake Cemetery.

In 1947, Eugene’s brother-in-law, William Marshall Phares, wrote a book about his family. He included the following description of Eugene:

“During his active years – and they never were otherwise – Gene was a man of extraordinary constitution and stamina. He probably scaled a little under the average in height, yet was built like an iron man and often performed physical feats that astonished. All of his life he engaged in the hardest sort of manual labor with little visible effort. He was extremely ambitious, working at difficult tasks early and late, and always proud of the finished job. His chief, and unselfish, aim was to provide his flock with the comforts of life.

“Though possessed of a fiery temperament, reflected in piercing brown eyes – almost black - that shone brightly in anger or in merry-making, he was one of the kindest of men. He would go to extremes to relieve the distress of another, whether friend or foe. He was known as a good neighbor and held the esteem of everybody in the various communities where he had lived. He was a great ‘tease’ and loved to have fun in his idle moments and when feeling well.”

Sources: Census records from; Robert Phares, Patriarch by William Marshal Phares; family records and recollections of Lillian Ransom Walters.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Hans Larson Opsahl - mystery solved!

Hans Larson Opsahl > Emma Larson > Daniel Erickson

A couple weeks ago, I was connected with Peggy Hanson, a (distant) cousin via information on Find A Grave. We share common ancestors in Hans and Mary Larson. My great-grandmother Emma Larson and her grandfather Fred Hanson were siblings and children of Hans and Mary.

Hans has been a bit a mystery for a while, as I wrote about in an earlier post. In all the records I had about Hans, he was Hans Larson, but his obituary and burial plot connect him with the last name of Opsahl. I asked my newly found cousin if she had ever heard “Opsahl” in connection with Hans. She hadn’t and began digging into her information and asking other relatives. We finally have our answer!
The church and cemetery in Eidsvoll,
 Norway where members of Hans'
 family are buried

Opsahl comes from Opsalengen which means “the Opsal Meadow.” Opsal was the name of the farm where Hans and his family lived. Peggy wrote, “It is clear that our Hans Larson properly referred to himself in Norway as Hans Larson Opsalegen; as there was a close connection between a family’s name and the name of the place they lived. Once in America Hans Larson Opsalengen and his family embraced the American manner and became Hans and Mary Larson; but all the while remaining in their Norwegian minds as Hans and Mary Opsahl.”

Peggy also sent me information from the 1865 census in Norway and from that I can add not only Hans’ father and mother, but also his grandparents! I now know that Hans was born in Ejdsvold (now called Eidsvoll, Norway), and he is the son of Lars Anderson and Anna Hansdotter (both who also came to live in French Lake, Minnesota). Lars is the son of Anders Larson and Marie Andersdotter. With all the Hans, Lars, Anders, etc, it’s no wonder they also used place names to identify themselves! Another way to think of Hans Larson Opsahl is “Hans, son of Lars, from Opsahl.”

A huge thanks to Peggy and everyone who helped us finally figure out where “Opsahl” came from! And it’s always fun to welcome another cousin J

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Daniel Lawrence of Groton, MA and Canaan, CT (52 Ancestors, #22)

Daniel Lawrence > Daniel Lawrence Jr > Esther Laurence > George Palmer Ransom > Samuel Ransom > Jameson Harvey Ransom > Charles Francis Ransom > Lillian Emma Ransom > Charles Lloyd Walters

Daniel Lawrence was the son of Enoch and Ruth (Whitney) Lawrence. He was born on March 7, 1680 in Groton, Massachusetts and he probably grew up in that town. According to the History of Windham County, Daniel, his wife Sarah, and their children settled south of Plainfield, Connecticut around 1708 where Daniel "became a prominent public man." He was given the liberty to vote in 1709 and he was chosen to be Surveyor of the Highways. Daniel served as Selectmen for 15 years, serving his first term in 1716.

There seems to have been an ongoing debate over the location and arrangements of the meeting house, which would also serve as the place of worship. Daniel's name can be found in connection to many of the various proposals. In September 1720, Daniel was part of a committee to determine the seating arrangement in the new meeting house. Those over 50 years old were seated according to age and the rest were seated based on their estate. The task was a difficult one and the committee was "allowed one pound in money for care and service." The arrangements were unsatisfactory to many and in 1721, it was voted that a new arrangement would be made.

Daniel was a deputy from Plainfield to the General assembly in Hartford (1723), responsible for "removing all encumbrances on the public roads of the town" (1729), and moderator of Plainfield's town meeting (1740). In 1735 he received the title of "Captain," indicating he had prior military experience.

Around 1742, he moved to Canaan, CT where his sons Daniel Jr and Isaac had moved, and he and his wife and daughter Elizabeth were admitted into the church in January 1743. He was named as a town inhabitant on December 4, 1744 and resided in the area until his death on May 8, 1777. Daniel and many of his descendants are buried in the Mountain View Cemetery in North Canaan, CT.

Sources: Massachusetts Births and Christenings, FamilySearch; Connecticut Deaths and Burials, Ancestry; Find A Grave; History of Windham, Google Books; Historical Sketches of Some Members of the Lawrence Family, Ancestry

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Jesse McPherson – Preacher, Doctor and Veteran (52 Ancestors #21)

Jesse McPherson > William Alexander McPherson > Elizabeth Rebecca McPherson > Amy Phares > Cecil Lloyd Walters > Charles Lloyd Walters

I haven’t been able to find out much about the origins of Jesse C McPherson. Based on census records, he was born between 1780 and 1790. He married Jennie Atkinson in Roane, Tennessee on August 1, 1808. Jennie probably died before 1822 when Jesse married Barbara (Ely) Dougherty, also in Roane, TN. (Barbara and her first husband, Joseph Dougherty were divorced, a rarity for the day).

The 1830 census lists Jesse in Lee County, Virginia. The household includes 11 children and was probably a combined family which would have included children from the union of Jesse and Barbara as well as from both of their first marriages.

Jesse was a Methodist circuit rider preacher as well as a doctor. He served in the War of 1812 and participated in the Battle of New Orleans.

In 1837, Jesse sold 117 acres of his land in Lee County. It is assumed this was around the time he and his family moved to DeWitt County, Illinois. While in DeWitt, Jesse became the first treasurer of the county, however he only held the position for a short time as there was only $25 in the treasury. Jesse also served as Justice of the Peace for the precinct of Mt. Pleasant (present day Farmer City).

It is believed the family is of Scotch and Irish descent and they left the South because of their opposition to slavery. According to family history, Jesse is buried in the “Old Mills Cemetery” located to the west of Clinton and is possibly the same as the Mills/Cackley-Hickman Cemetery although there doesn’t appear to be an existing marker for Jesse.

Sources: Robert Phares, Patriarch by William Marshall Phares; Ely Family from; Marriage and census records from

William Weaver (52 Ancestors, #20)

William Weaver > Mary Weaver > Elizabeth McPherson > Amy Phares > Cecil Lloyd Walters > Charles Lloyd Walters

William Weaver was the son of Nancy and Revolutionary War Veteran, James Weaver. He was born on February 10, 1783 in Lee County, Virginia. He married Mary Sims on December 12, 1803 in Virginia. The couple had 13 children and all but 1 outlived their father.

According to The Good Times in McLean County, Illinois, William and his family moved from Virginia to Washington Co., Illinois in the fall of 1831. By 1832 the family was living near Downs in McLean County. When William came to McLean County, he brought with him 60 head of cattle and William was the first to bring grafted fruit to the county. Besides his farming, William was also a Baptist preacher.  

William died in McLean County on September 3, 1838 and is buried in the Hopewell Cemetery in Downs, Illinois. Even though he only living in the area for 6 years, it seems William was well liked. The 5’ 8” gentleman had a lively step and “never used a cane.”   He was called “Old Father Weaver” and was remembered as being “full of fun and good humor.”

Sources: The Good Times in McLean County, Illinois by E. Duis, Google Books; Revolutionary War Pension records for James Weaver, Family Search

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Emma Elizabeth Sanderson, Civil War Poet (52 Ancestors, week 19)

Emma Elizabeth Sanderson > Elmira Lyons > Lillian Emma Ransom >  Charles Lloyd Walters
Emma Elizabeth Sanderson is the daughter of Loren Sanderson and Almira Allen. She was born on June 18, 1847 in Oriskeny, New York. She married John Lyons in 1864. John enlisted in naval service in the Civil War in September of 1864 and by the end of the war, he was serving in Texas. After the war, the couple settled in Leroy and later Marengo, Iowa, both in Benton County. Emma’s parents and family also settled in Benton County. Emma gave birth to 7 children, 6 who lived to adulthood. Emma and John both died on the same day, May 2, 1914, Emma being seized with grief over the death of her husband. They are buried in the IOOF Cemetery in Marengo. Emma’s marker includes the symbol of the Women’s Relief Corp. 

The following is a poem that Emma is said to have written while waiting for John to return from the Civil War. As far as I have seen and can tell it is an original. (If anyone knows differently, please let me know)

Poem by Emma Lyons                    Utica, New York, June 7th, 1865

He is coming home today
Yes, he's coming home, my darling,
From the field where fiery wars
Holds his carnival in horror
Of the dear old Stripes and stars
and impatiently I'm waiting,
While the tedious hours delay,
For my gallant sailor lover
Who is coming home today.

Oh, my eyes were dim and tearful
As I watched him go away,
Looking oh, so brave and fearless
But he's coming home today.

How my cheeks turned pale with terror,
How my heart stood still with fright,
When they told me how he'd battled
In the thickest of the fight,
And I prayed that God would shield him
In the terrible affray
And forbid the balls to harm him.
But he's coming home today.

He is good as he is gallant,
And has such a charmed air.
And such mischief making glances
And such waves of curling hair
Oh my life is full of gladness
And my heart with pleasure gay
For my Johny true and faithful
And he's coming home today.

Sources: Census records from Ancestry; family photos, letters and stories

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thomas Lord, 11-times great-grandfather (52 Ancestors, week 18)

Thomas Lord > William Lord > Benjamin Lord > Andrew Lord > Huldah Lord > Caleb Chapman > Pamela Chapman > Melchior Walters > Freeman Walters > Florence Eugene Walters > Cecil Lloyd Walters > Charles Lloyd Walters

Thomas Lord, son of Richard and Joan Lord, was born in England around 1585. Philip Lord, Jr, a direct descendant of Richard Lord, has done extensive research on the Lord family. He concludes that the Lord family was of middle class and fairly well off based on the property listed in Richard's will and other clues which he talks about on his website.

Thomas Lord and his family left England spring of 1635 aboard the ship Elizabeth and Ann and arrived in Boston harbor in July 1635. Thomas, age 50, traveled with his wife Dorothy and 7 of their 8 children. The eldest son, Richard, had arrived in the New World sometime earlier, probably to prepare the way for the rest of his family. Richard had been granted land in the town of Newtown (later called Cambridge) and the family probably lived with him for the first winter. The passenger lists says the Thomas is a "smith" which would have been a very valuable occupation to the colony and there are later records that show his eldest son, Richard, to have been a metal smith.

In the fall of 1635, some of the colonists, under the leadership of Rev. Thomas Hooker, were looking to move. The group was already becoming too large for the town and space was becoming limited. A location up the Connecticut River was selected for a new settlement. By spring 1636, preparations were made. Most of the supplies would be shipped from the Boston Harbor and up the Connecticut River. On May 31, 1636, one hundred colonists, a group which included the Lord family, along with 160 cattle began to walk the 100 mile trail to their new home in Hartford, Connecticut.

It is believed that Thomas died around 1655 as there are not further records relating to him, but he had certainly died by 1663 when the records of Hartford include an order to his wife, Dorothy, to maintain a section of fence, an order that would have certainly been directed to Thomas if he had been alive.

Sources: Some of the Ancestors of the Reverend John Selby Frame and his wife Clara Winchester Dana, compiled by Julia Locke Frame Bunce,; Passenger Lists from; Philip Lord’s site at

Monday, May 5, 2014

Absalom Johanson Landberg 1847-1928 (52 Ancestors, week 17)

Absalom Landberg > Ida Petronella Landberg > Hulda Vidlund > Lorayne Wendorf

AJ and Christine's wedding photo
Absalom Johanson Landberg, who often went by A.J., was born on November 14, 1847 to Johan Hansson and Petronella Andersdotter in Mo, Göteborg Och Bohus,​ Sweden. He was born “Absalom Johanson” and added “Landberg” later in his life. From family stories, I know he was a sailor while in Sweden and also worked in a store in Norway.

He came to America and Minnesota on 1873 and on November 28, 1874 he married Mary Erickson. I haven’t much information about Mary, but it is probable that she died within a couple years of their marriage as Absalom entered into his second marriage less than 3 years later, marrying Christina Louise Nelson on September 1, 1877 in Hennepin County, Minnesota.

Upon coming to Minnesota, AJ lived the first ten years or so in Minneapolis where he worked as a cooper. At least part of that time he worked Mr. A. M. Anson who operated his business on the corner of 6th Street and 14th Ave, Minneapolis. AJ was living South Washington Ave during this time. I’m sure AJ wouldn’t be able to recognize his old stomping grounds. To help make ends meet, the family took on boarders.

Around 1894, AJ and his family moved to the area of Watertown and Hollywood in Carver County, Minnesota. Absalom set his sights on becoming a farmer, however he didn’t know much about farming. Their daughter remembers Christine instructing AJ on the ins-and-outs of farming, often working in the fields herself. The couple had 12 children, all but 2 lived to adulthood.

By 1926, A.J. and Christine were once again living in Minneapolis, this time at 1942 Hayes Street. The large stucco house at this current address is the same that AJ and family would have lived in and it was in this house, on September 11, 1928, where Absalom died. He was buried in the Watertown Public Cemetery in Watertown, Minnesota.

Sources: City Directories, Census, and death records from; Swedish birth records from; Family stories from Vidlund Family Roots by Bruce Mattson; family photos from Bruce and others; property information