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