Monday, July 29, 2019

Mary Hall & the Hall Family of Massachusetts

It's been a while since I posted. Six months, actually. This year has been a whirlwind of activity, and I'm barely keeping up with all of it. We bought and are now renovating a house. My work has been extremely busy, taking me to multiple countries this year, and I'm about to depart for another long international trip. I've taken on leadership of a local political group, supporting campaigns and meeting with potential candidates. Add to this the care and nurturing of two (quickly) growing children, and there's just not enough time in the world. My genealogy binders are unpacked and ready in my new office, but I haven't opened them in a long time. I'm trying to carve out more moments to work on writing, though, and hopefully I'll get in a few posts before the end of the year.

The last series I wrote was about my Smith ancestors. This is my mother's paternal line. I'm going to address a branch of the Smith line now and talk about the Hall family of Massachusetts.



Mary Hall was my fourth great-grandmother. She married my fourth great-grandfather, Samuel Belding Smith on July 29, 1827 in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. She was the mother of my third great-grandfather, Samuel G. Smith.

Mary was born August 23, 1803 in Westminster, Massachusetts. Westminster is in northern central Massachusetts, near Fitchburg. Even today, Westminster is a small community, with a population of around 7,000 people. In 1803, when Betsey was born, it was a sparsely populated farming community. Forests and lakes are found in abundance in Westminster, and the soil produced excellent crops, particularly corn, peas and lentils. The town was first settled by white colonists in 1737, and was officially incorporated in 1759. Prior to that, there does not appear to have been a indigenous settlement in the town limits, according to "History of Westminster Massachusetts (first named Narragansett no. 2) from the date of the original grant of the township to the present time, 1728-1893; with a biographic-genealogical register of its principal families" by William Sweetzer Heywood, but several Native American tribes were present in the surrounding area, including the Nashuas, the Hassanamiscos, the Quaboags, and the Squakeags.

Crow Hill Pond, Leominster State Forest, Westminster

Mary's mother, Prudence Martin, was from nearby Ashburnham, whereas her father, Elisha Hall, had been born in Dedham, much closer to Boston. The Hall family had moved west at some point after Elisha's birth, however, and Elisha married his first wife, Sarah Bemis, in Westminster in 1794. Sarah died in September 1799, just a month after their daughter, Sally, was born. Three years later, Elisha married Prudence Martin in Westminster on November 26, 1802. Mary was the eldest child of Elisha and Prudence, born ten months after the wedding. They had two more children together. Elizabeth was born in 1808 and Alexander in 1815. The unusual spacing of these children makes me wonder if there weren't more Hall siblings who did not survive and for whom there are no records.

On July 29, 1827, Mary married Samuel Belding Smith in nearby Fitchburg. She was twenty-three years old, and Samuel was nineteen. They appear to have settled in Westminster at first, as this is where their first child, Mary Ann Smith, was born on February 5, 1828. In November 1830, Samuel bought property in Fitchburg and the family settled there permanently. Samuel worked as a carpenter and Mary raised their children. After Mary Ann, there were two more children, Sophia, born in 1830, and Samuel, born in 1837.

Main Street, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, 1867. By James E. Morse.

When Mary was in her 40s, she lost both of her parents and one of her daughters within the span of  a few years. Her father, Elisha, died in 1845, followed by her mother, Prudence, in 1849. In 1851, the middle Hall child, Sophia, died at the age of twenty. Sophia had not yet married and was still living with her parents. This must have been a great blow to Mary and Samuel. Their other two children, Mary Ann and Samuel, lived to adulthood, married, and had children of their own. Both of them would move to California, settling near Los Angeles with their families.

At some point between Sophia's death in 1851 and the census of 1870, Mary and Samuel moved from Fitchburg to Bunker Hill, Illinois. Mary died there on May 17, 1886 at the age of 82. Samuel would live another seven years, dying on December 6, 1893 at the age of 86.

Monday, January 28, 2019

The End of the Smith Line

Town Hall and First Congregational Church in Hadley, MA (Source: John Phelan for Wikimedia Commons)


In my last post, I gave an overview of the three Samuel Smiths who lived in Massachusetts and New Hampshire during the Revolutionary War. Now, we'll continue on with profiles of the three Smith men who came before them. This will take us to our immigrant ancestor and the last known Smith male in this line.

Preserved Smith (b. 1677)
Deacon Samuel Smith's father was Preserved Smith. Preserved was born 16 August 1677 in Northampton, Massachusetts, and died in 1713 in Hadley, Massachusetts. On 15 December 1697, in Wethersfield, Connecticut, he married Mary Smith, daughter of Chileab Smith and Hannah Hancock. The couple settled in Hadley and had at least seven children together.

The household was an extremely religious one. In 1774, Preserved's son Chileab Smith (three years younger than our ancestor Deacon Samuel Smith) wrote a pamphlet called An Answer to Many Slanderous Reports Cast on the Baptists, at Ashfield vigorously defending his religion. The pamphlet includes this sentence about his family: "I was born at Hadley, of religious parents, my father died when I was about four or five years old; and as I grew up, my mother instructed me in things of religion and taught me how to live; I promised to do better and endeavored to reform, but soon found fault with my own conduct.” The pamphlet outlines Chileab's deep concern with religion, a falling out with his church in South Hadley, complaints against him by his community, and his feeling that his children were not sufficiently devout.

The Smith family was deeply involved in the Baptist faith, and there were many reverends and pastors among them. Preserved's grandfather, Rev. Henry Smith, was a very influential church leader, and at least two of his sons would also take up the pulpit.

Preserved died in Hadley in 1715, at the young age of 38. His youngest child was just three years old at the time. Mary raised her children alone for several years, and in 1721, she married Peter Montague. They continued to live in Hadley.

Gravestone of Preserved Smith, Old Hadley Cemetery in Hadley, Massachusetts


Samuel Smith (b. 1639)
Preserved Smith's father was Samuel Smith. Samuel was born in Wethersfield, Connecticut on 7 January 1639 and died on 10 September 1703 in Hadley, Massachusetts. About 1662, he married Mary Ensign, daughter of James Ensign and Sarah Elson, in Wethersfield. James Ensign was an English immigrant who had been one of the first settlers of Hartford, Connecticut. Samuel and Mary had eight children together. They left Wethersfield and moved to Northampton, Massachusetts in about 1666, and then again to Hadley, Massachusetts in about 1680. Samuel died 10 September 1703, at the age of 64, in Hadley. His wife, Mary, lived another twenty years, dying in 1723.

A typical British ship that would have sailed to the new land of America in the 1600s.


Rev. Henry Smith (b. 1599)
Henry Smith, our immigrant ancestor, was born about 1599 in Norwich, Norfolk, England. A number of basic details about Henry's life cannot be proven. Estimated dates of his birth range from 1588 to 1601. Several different wives have been attached to him without concrete substantiation. What we do know is that he attended Kings College in Cambridge in 1619 and became a reverend in 1623. He left England with his wife, Dorothy Cotton Smith and several of their children in 1636 to escape religious persecution. He lived first in Watertown, Connecticut, where he was one of a group of men who governed the newly claimed land. By 1638, he was living in Wethersfield, Connecticut, where he led a congregation. He seems to have been a controversial religious leader, and there were calls for his removal, which he refused to heed. Henry died, of a "grate fever," in 1648, according to his son Samuel Smith. Henry was in his late forties or early fifties at the time of his death and many of his children were still fairly young. Dorothy Cotton Smith remarried John Russell, who succeeded Henry as leader of the church and acted as stepfather to the Smith children.



The book Colonial Days & Ways as Gathered from Family Papers by Helen Evertson Smith (published 1900) transcribes a letter written by Samuel Smith (b. 1638) to one of his sons. This letter illuminates Samuel's early life and includes details about his father. It is probably the best sense we can get of these ancestors, so I am copying some of the text below.

Samuel wrote of his memories of his father, Rev. Henry Smith, and the difficulties of early colonial life.

My Dear & Dutiful son: .... I was of so tender an Age at the death of my beloved Father that I am possessed of but little of the Information for which you seek. My Revered Father was an Ordained Minister of ye Gospelle, educate at Cambridge in England & came to yis Land by reason of ye Great Persecution by which ye infamous Archbishop Laud and ye Black Tom Tyrante (as Mr. Russell was always wont to call ye Earl of Strafforde,) did cause ye reign of his Majestie Charles ye First to loose favor in ye sight of ye people of England. My Father & Mother came over in 1636/37, first to Watertown, which is neare Boston, & after a yeare or two to Wethersfield on ye great River, where he became ye firste settled Pastor. 
Concerning of ye earlie days I can remember but little save Hardship. My parents had broughte bothe Men Servants & Maid Servants from England, but ye maids tarried not but till they got Married, ye which was shortly, for there was a great scarcity of women in ye Colonies. Ye men did abide better. Onne of em had married onne of my Mother's Maids & they did come with us to Wethersfield to our grate Comforte for some Yeares, untill they had manny littel ones of their Owne.
I do well remember ye Face & Figure of my Honoured Father. He was five foot ten inches tall and spare of build, tho not leane. He was active as ye Red Skin Men & sinewy. His delighte was in sportes of strengthe, & withe his owne hands he did help to rear bothe our house and the firste meeting house in Wethersfield wherein he preacht yeares too fewe. He was well Featured & Fresh favored with faire Skin & longcurling hair (as near all of us had) with a merrie eye & swete smiling Mouthe, tho he coulde frowne sternlie eno' when need was.

Samuel also recounts the great fear the colonists had of the native peoples and the predators that lurked in nearby woods.

Ye firste Meetinge House was solide mayde to withstande ye wicked onslaughts of ye Red Skins. Its Foundations was laid in ye fear of ye Lord, but its walls was truly laid in ye fear of ye Indians, for many and great was ye Terrors of em. I do mind me y't alle ye able-bodyed Men did work thereat, & ye olde & feeble did watch in turns to espy if any Savages was in hidinge neare & every Man kept his Muskete nighe to his hande. I do not myself remember any of ye Attacks mayde by large bodeys of Indians whilst we did remayne in Wethersfield, but did ofttimes hear of em. Several families wch did lives back a ways from ye river was either Murderdt or Captivated in my Boyhood, and we did all live in constant fear of ye like. My Father ever declaredt there would not be so much to feare iff ye Red Skins was treated with suche mixture of Justice & Authority as they cld understand but iff he was living now he must see that wee can do naught but fight em & that right heavily. 
After ye Red Skins ye great Terror of our lives at Wethersfield & for many yeares after we had moved to Hadley to live, was ye Wolves. Catamounts was bad eno' & so was ye Beares, but it was ye Wolves yt was ye worst. The noyes of theyre bowlings was eno' to curdle ye bloode of ye stoutest & I have never seen ye Man yt did not shiver at ye Sounde of a Packe of em.

He also wrote of his conflicted feelings for his stepfather, John Russell.

... Mr Russell did opine yt had it not been so it might not have founde us agen, but he was sometimes a littel shorte of ye Charity wch thinketh no Evil, at ye least I was wont to think so when his Hand was too heavy on my Shoulders & I remembered ye sweetnesse & ye Charity of my firste Father, but on ye whole said he was a Goode Man & did well by my Mother & her children, & no doubt we did often try his wit & temper...

Our earliest American Smith ancestors lived lives that are very different that the ones their descendants do today, but their survival in a new and harsh environment paved the way for the generations to follow.

Monday, January 14, 2019

So Many Samuel Smiths

The location of Northfield, Massachusetts, in Franklin County.


I recently wrote about my third great-grandfather, Samuel Belding Smith and his son, Samuel G. Smith. Prepare to get really confused, because there are several more Samuel Smiths still to meet. This part of our family tree has been a bit mind-boggling, and frankly is still something I'm puzzling over, so I hesitate to write about the Samuels in great depth at this point. This will be strictly an overview, and the research on our Samuel Smith ancestors will continue.

Most of what we know about the Samuels was uncovered by my grandmother's cousin Barbara, who worked diligently with a professional genealogist in New England to determine the correct line of descent, distinguish one Samuel from the next, and untangle the question of their wives. Here is a brief summary of what Barbara uncovered.

Samuel Smith (b. abt. 1760)
Samuel Belding Smith's father was Samuel Smith, my fourth great-grandfather. We know next to nothing about him, except that he was born in the 1760s, likely in Northfield, Massachusetts. Massachusetts Town Vital Collections 1620-1988 tells us that Samuel Smith Junior married Anna Wright, on June 10, 1784 in Northfield. She was the daughter of Aaron Wright and Anna Graves. The record indicates that both Samuel and Anna were from Northfield. Samuel and Anna had two children together: Pliny Smith (b. 1790) and Sophia Smith (b. 1791). Samuel later married Hannah Belding, with whom he had our ancestor Samuel Belding Smith. It is possible, but unconfirmed, that the marriage of Samuel and Anna ended not in death but divorce. It is also possible that Anna remarried Ozias Elmer and had more children, but there is not enough documentation to be certain. Samuel would have been old enough to fight in much of the Revolutionary War, although I have not found service records that can be definitely attributed to him. He certainly lived in very interesting times, being a young man at the time the American colonies declared independence. I wish we knew more about his experiences.

Capt. Samuel Smith (b. 1735)
Samuel Smith's father was Samuel Smith, known as "Captain Samuel Smith." He was born in 1735 in Northfield, Massachusetts, and died just across the border in Winchester, New Hampshire, in January 1823. Captain Samuel married Mary Wright, daughter of Nehemiah Wright and Mary Sheldon of Northfield. We know that Samuel Smith purchased property in Winchester and lived there for some time. My grandmother had the original land grant for the property, and I remember seeing it in her office when I was a young woman. It did not come to me with her other genealogical materials and is now presumed lost. While Samuel lived in Winchester, his social obligations were based in Northfield, seven miles to the south. He was a founding member of the Masons in Northfield. The book A History of the Town of Northfield, Massachusetts (authors: Josiah Howard Temple, George Sheldon; published: 1875) states: "In 1800.... Capt. Samuel Smith who lived over the line in Winchester but attended meeting in Northfield, had a heavy two horse carriage." (p. 353). He also appears to have donated pipe organs to churches in both Northfield and Winchester. The biggest mystery to me has always been the "Captain" prefacing Samuel's name. He does not have a Revolutionary War service record. Barbara told me that Samuel was a loyalist who was put in jail in Charlestown, Massachusetts soon after the American colonists declared independence. Jailing British sympathizers was a common occurrence during the revolution, as it prevented them from providing support to the British cause. While we don't know the specifics of Samuel's experience, the fact that he was still in America, apparently prosperous and owning the honorific "Captain" in 1800 indicates that he must have been forgiven by his neighbors to some extent. He is an intriguing ancestor, and one I look forward to researching further.

Deacon Samuel Smith (b. 1705)
Captain Samuel Smith's father, also Samuel Smith, was born on 1 October 1705 in Northfield, Massachusetts. In 1727, at the age of 21, Samuel married Sarah Morton, the daughter of Abraham Morton and Sarah Kellogg. The Morton family was from nearby Hatfield. Samuel and Sarah were married for forty years and had ten children together in Northfield. Samuel worked as a deacon in the church there and was also a blacksmith. According to Daughters of the American Revolution, Lineage Book Vol. 063, 1907, Samuel was a member of the Committee of Correspondence, Inspection, and Safety in Northfield. In 1775, at the age of seventy, he responded to the Lexington Alarm. When British soldiers marched from Boston toward Concord to seize munitions that were stockpiled there, 77 militiamen met them on Lexington Common. The British opened fire. An alarm was sent out to local supporters of the American cause, and armed men, including Samuel, assembled upon the route the British were taking to fire at the retreating soldiers. This was the beginning of the Revolutionary War. It's very interesting that Deacon Samuel took up arms for the colonists, while his son evidently had strong loyalist leanings. Sarah Morton Smith died in 1767, and Samuel remarried Abigail Horton. Abigail Horton's first husband was Ebenezer Field of Deerfield, and is connected to my husband's Field ancestors (Ebenezer is my husband's second cousin seven times removed). Samuel died in 1799 at the age of 94. He lived to see the success of the American Revolution and an enormous amount of change in his lifetime.

My next post will cover the three remaining men in our direct Smith lineage, all the way back to our immigrant ancestor. Yes, there is one more Samuel still to come!

Monday, January 7, 2019

2019 Genealogy Goals



2018 was a year of upheaval for me, and I did not have a lot of time to devote to genealogy. I certainly did not achieve all of my family history-related goals last year, although I made progress on a few larger projects and continued to blog when possible. I expect that 2019 will be more of the same, as my personal and work commitments will take precedence over genealogy, but I'd still like to set some goals to keep myself focused.

I set genealogy goals for myself in 20182017, 2016, 2015 and 2014. Whether I actually achieve all my goals or not, it's helpful to think about top priorities each year so I can stay on task.

Here are my goals for 2019:

1. Continue writing about my Smith line. I've been working on this for a while now, and there's still more to share.

2. Write about the Lindsey family of Frankfort, Kentucky. I rescued some old letters from my local antique store belonging to the Lindsey family. I will be writing about them here and trying to return the letters to a Lindsey descendant.

3. Organize and archive. My family will be moving in 2019 (again), and I am eager to get my genealogy files unpacked and organized so they can be easily accessed. I will also continue to scan and archive my materials, particularly the photos and original documents left to me by my grandmother.

4. Research my Burns and Matthews ancestors. The search for more information on my direct maternal line has been a frustrating one. I have a big brick wall in Nancy Matthews Burns, my 4th great grandmother. This family came from the Carolinas to Tennessee and on to Illinois in the 1800s. I will continue to research them and see if I can make any headway.

Happy New Year! I hope 2019 will be happy and productive for all of us.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Samuel Belding Smith

View of modern day Fitchburg, Massachusetts (source)

The parents of Samuel G. Smith were Samuel Belding Smith and Mary Hall of Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

Samuel Belding Smith was born on October 20, 1807 in Winchester, New Hampshire. He was the son of Samuel Smith and Hannah Belding. Mary Hall was born on August 23, 1803 in Westminster, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of Elisha Hall and Prudence Martin. They were married on July 29, 1827 in Fitchburg. Samuel and Mary had three children together:

Mary Ann Smith (b. 1828; d. aft. 1910; m. Philip Howe)
Sophia Smith (b. 1830; d. 1851)
Samuel G. Smith (b. 1837; d. 1922; m. Ellen Partridge)

Samuel B. Smith was a carpenter. The 1850 U.S. Census shows him living in Fitchburg with his family and notes his occupation. The real estate he owned was valued at $650, so it appears that Samuel was living comfortably. With him in his home was his wife, Mary, and their eldest child, Mary Ann, who was recently married to Philip Howe and had six month-old twin boys Alvah and Alvin Howe. Philip is not listed in the household, but he and Mary Ann were definitely married at the time, so it's possible that he was away for some reason at the time of the census. Another explanation is that Mary Ann and Philip may have had a household elsewhere, but Samuel and Mary might still have included Mary Ann and the twins as part of their family to the census recorder. Also living with Samuel and Mary was their 19-year old daughter Sophia and their 12-year old son Samuel. This moment, captured in the census, is bittersweet, for two tragedies were about to befall the Smith family.

On August 5, 1851, Sophia Smith died. She was twenty. The tragedy of losing their daughter must have devastated Samuel and Mary. Sophia was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Fitchburg, next to her paternal grandmother, Hannah Belding Smith. Then, in 1852, Alvah Howe, their two-year old grandson, died.

Sometime between 1852 and 1860, Samuel and Mary Smith decided to leave Fitchburg. We have no way of knowing if the dual losses they suffered prompted this move, or if it was purely a decision born of economic opportunity. The couple settled in Bunker Hill, Illinois, over a thousand miles west of Fitchburg, with their son Samuel. Mary Ann and Philip Howe accompanied them, setting up their own household nearby.

The distance between Fitchburg, MA and Bunker Hill, IL.


Samuel continued to work as a carpenter in Bunker Hill. He died there on December 8, 1893 at the age of 78.

It's not clear when Mary Hall Smith died. There is a record at Bunker Hill Cemetery stating that a Mary Smith born in 1803 died on 17 May 1886 and is buried there. It would be easy to assume this is Samuel's wife, Mary. However, some peculiar information is found on Samuel Smith's probate record. This document, dated 27 December 1893, contains a statement from Samuel's son, Samuel G. Smith, which reads as follows:

Petitioner further shows that the said Samuel B. Smith died, seized and possessed of real and personal estate consisting chiefly of six (6) acres of land in the North East corner of of Section Number Twenty-Two (22) in Township Seven (7) Range Eight (8) west of the third principal meridian in the County of Macoupin and the State of Illinois, [unreadable word] old furniture, carpenter's tools, etc. 
All of said personal estate being estimated to be worth abut twenty five dollars. 
That said deceased left surviving him Mary Smith, his widow who has for a number of years resided out of the state and Samuel Smith and Mary A. Howe his children as heirs.

This indicates that Mary had not been living with Samuel for years, and was not even in the state of Illinois, much less buried in Bunker Hill Cemetery. Where was Mary? Why wasn't she living with her husband? In 1893 she would have been 89 years of age. It is possible that she'd was infirm and had gone to live in a medical facility, but why out of state? These questions don't have answers at this time. I cannot find any records for Mary Smith after the 1880 U.S. Census, which shows her living with Samuel in Bunker Hill.

Samuel and Mary Smith were the first of their immediate family to move west. This marked the beginning of the Smith family's migration from Massachusetts to California. Their daughter, Mary Ann Smith Howe, would take her family to Santa Ana, California. Their son Samuel Smith's children would later follow their cousins west to California, settling in nearby Los Angeles.


Monday, October 15, 2018

Samuel G. Smith, Civil War Veteran

Samuel G. Smith
Samuel G. Smith

I'm continuing my posts about the Smith family, and the ancestral line of my paternal grandfather, Glenn Murray Smith. Most recently, I profiled Walter Samuel Smith, my second great-grandfather. Walter's father was Samuel G. Smith of Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

My third great-grandfather, Samuel G. Smith, was born on June 9, 1837 in Fitchburg. He was the youngest child and only son of his parents, Samuel Belding Smith and Mary Hall. As a young man, he and his parents moved to Bunker Hill, Illinois. They can all be found in the same Bunker Hill household in the 1860 census. Samuel was 23 in 1860, a very dangerous time to be a young man. The American Civil War was on the horizon, and in 1861, Samuel enlisted in the 7th Illinois Infantry Regiment.

Samuel Smith’s military career can be confirmed with a record from the database "U.S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938." The record for Samuel Smith states that he enlisted in the 7th Illinois Infantry on July 11, 1861 in Bunker Hill, Illinois. This would have made him part of Company F. His rank was private. Samuel served in the same company as his future brother-in-law, Wallace Partridge. They were both from Bunker Hill and volunteered for service with the 7th Illinois Infantry within days of each other in 1861. It's not known whether they were friends before enlisting, or if they created a bond during the the war, but Samuel married Wallace's sister, Ellen Henrietta Partridge, five months after being discharged in July 1864.

There is no record of any specific experiences Samuel had during the Civil War. We do know that he served for three years without significant injury or illness, which is really remarkable. The 7th Illinois Infantry saw action at the Battle of Fort Donelson, the Battle of Shiloh, the Battle of Corinth, the Battle of Allatoona Pass, the March to the Sea (under command of General Sherman) and the Carolinas Campaign. These were all very significant campaigns which resulted in a lot of casualties, so Samuel's ability to survive rather unscathed is incredible. He was discharged on July 29, 1864 at the end of his term of service. The war would continue for another nine months, but it does not appear that Samuel reenlisted after being discharged in 1864.

The Battle at Shiloh, by artist Thure de Thulstrup.
Image in public domain, available at the United States Library of Congress. 

After completing his military service, Samuel returned home to Bunker Hill. Five months later, on 27 December 1864, he married Ellen Henrietta Partridge. Ellen was the eldest daughter of James Partridge and Sarah Pendleton, both of whom had been born in England. Samuel was 27 at the time of the marriage, and his bride was just 18. Samuel and Ellen had four children together:

  1. Mary Emma Leticia Smith (b. 1865, d. aft 1940, m. Oscar Clement Partridge)
  2. Walter Samuel Smith (b. 1869, d. 1962, m. Julia Emrette Bigham)
  3. George D. Smith (b. 1877, d. 1967, m. Elizabeth Roberts)
  4. Charles Edgar Smith (b. 1884, d. 1962, m. Florence Belle Isaac)


The 1880 U.S. Census lists Samuel's occupation as stone mason. The 1900 U.S. Census lists his occupation as farmer. The 1870 U.S. Census describes him as a "plasterer and farmer." He owned his own farm in Bunker Hill, right near his parents, Samuel and Mary Smith. In 1893, when Samuel was 56 years of age, his father died. In 1905, aged 68, Samuel lost his wife, Ellen. They had been married for forty years at the time of her death. By 1914, when Samuel was 77 years old, he had gone to live in Togus, Maine.

Togus in 1906. Source

From Wikipedia:
Togus is a facility operated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs in Chelsea, Maine. The facility was built as a resort hotel, and housed Union veterans of the American Civil War prior to being converted to a veterans hospital. It was the first veterans facility developed by the United States government.
Samuel lived at the veterans facility for the rest of his life, and died there on June 10, 1922. He was 82 years old. At the time of his death, all four of his children were still living and he had nine grandchildren. His body was taken home to Bunker Hill for burial, and he lies next to his wife Ellen in the Bunker Hill Cemetery. 



Monday, August 6, 2018

Julia Emrette Bigham and Her Ancestors

After a long delay to accommodate some extensive work travel, I'm continuing a series of posts about my second great-grandfather, Walter Samuel Smith, and his wife, Julia Emrette Bigham. In my last post about this family, I wrote about Walter's siblings. In researching Julia's siblings, I went down the rabbit hole a bit and decided to sketch an outline of her entire Bigham ancestry. I'll come back to this family in more depth later, but wanted to get the basics recorded.

Julia Emrette Bigham Smith

Julia Bigham and Her Siblings

Julia was born April 20, 1869 in Perry County, Illinois, the daughter of William John Bigham and Angeline Campbell. She was the eldest of four children born to William and Angeline. Her siblings were as follows:

Levi Leo Bigham (b. 1872; d. 1949; m. Grace Hodges)
Emma Jane Bigham (b. 1874; d. 1917; m. Robert Reider)
Viva Louella Bigham (b. 1877; d. 1974)

The Bigham family lived in Perry County, where Julia's father William was a farmer. Unfortunately, in December 1876, when Julia was just seven, her father died at the age of 42. Her mother, Angeline was six months pregnant at the time of her husband's death. Not long afterward, Angeline moved the family to Rome Township, in nearby Jefferson County. Her brother, Francis Campbell, was a farmer there, and she must have wanted to be closer to her family. Angeline was only 25 years old when she lost her husband. She did not remarry.

All three of Angeline and William's daughters moved to Los Angeles as young women. Julia, the eldest, appears to have been the first to make the journey. She was living there by 1890, when, at age 20, she married Walter Samuel Smith. 

Emma seems to have been the next to join her sister in Los Angeles. In 1899, Emma married Robert Reider, son of Israel Reider and Harriet Leonard, in California. They had two daughters, Katharyn Reider and Ruth Reider. Emma died in Los Angeles in 1914 at the age of 42. 

Viva also left Illinois for California, and was living there by at least 1910, when she is found in the census living with her sister Julia and brother-in-law Walter Smith. Viva worked in a chocolate factory for many years. She never married.

Levi Bigham stayed in Illinois, where he married Grace Hodges, daughter of Isham Hodges and Frances Hays, in 1896. They settled in Marion County, where Levi worked as a farmer. Levi and Grace did not have any children.

The location of Chester County in South Carolina


William John Bigham

Julia’s father, William John Bigham, was born May 25, 1834 in Chester County, South Carolina. William was the son of Elijah Bigham and Elizabeth Isabelle Gaston. Elijah was a farmer, a popular profession in Chester County. Census reports show most of the Bigham family's neighbors were involved in farming. Elijah and Elizabeth had ten sons, so William grew up in a bustling household full of siblings.

In the mid-1850s, the Bigham family moved from South Carolina to Perry County, Illinois. William, the third eldest of the children, would have been in his mid-teens at the time of the move. The Bighams appear to have moved as an extended family unit. In addition to his parents and siblings, at least one set of William's grandparents traveled with him to Illinois. His paternal grandparents, Isaac Bigham and Rachel Weir, are buried in Hopewell Cemetery in Pickneyville, Perry County.

William's eldest brother, Jefferson Bigham, set up his own farm in Perry County. In 1860, both William and his older brother Ebenzer Bigham are listed in the U.S. Census as farm hands on their brother Jefferson's farm. However, the brothers are also listed in that same census in the household of their mother, Elizabeth, on her nearby property. Ebenzer had bought his own 80-acre parcel of land to farm in 1857, so it is odd that he isn't recorded as living there in 1860. While it's not clear where exactly William was residing in 1860, it's clear that he was in close proximity to his mother and siblings, and involved in farming.

On November 24, 1866, William married Angeline Campbell, the daughter of Andrew Ross Campbell and Cindrilla Evaline Greene. Angeline was born October 7, 1851 in Perry County and was just 15 when she married William, who was 32, more than twice her age. While this may have been an instance of true love, the marriage might also have resulted from a shortage of young men in the years following the Civil War. Angeline may not have had a lot of options when it came to marriage.

Angeline’s father, Andrew Ross Campbell, had also come to Perry County from Chester, South Carolina. There, he married Cindrilla Greene, the daughter of Levi Greene and Elizabeth Elen Short. Levi and Elizabeth had arrived in Perry County from Pennsylvania and Kentucky, respectively.

The Thresherman's Association in Pickneyville, Perry County, hosts an annual Fall Festival that includes demonstrations of farming techniques and an antique tractor pull, in celebration of the area's farming history. Our Bigham ancestors were farmers in Perry County.
[photo source: City of Pickneyville]


Elijah Bigham

Elijah Bigham, father of William John Bigham, was born about 1800 in Chester, South Carolina. He married Elizabeth Isabelle Gaston, the daughter of William Gaston and Jennet (or Janet) MacMillan. These families were both Scots-Irish, people of Scottish ancestry who had come from what is now Northern Ireland to South Carolina in the mid-1700s. They were part of a large wave of Scots-Irish immigration to the American south.

Elijah Bigham and Elizabeth Gaston had ten sons:

George W. Bigham (b. 1828; d. 1864 in the Civil War; m. Mary Ann Campbell)
Isaac Jefferson Bigham "Jefferson" (b. 1829; d. 1874; m. Sarah Jane Campbell)
Robert Bigham (b. 1830; d. 1871; m. Cindrilla Greene)
Ebenezer Bigham (b. abt 1831; d. 1878; m. (1) Martha Campbell (2) Dorothy Wood)
William John Bigham (b. 1834; d. 1876; m. Angeline Campbell)
Josiah Bigham (b. abt 1836; d. 1874; m. (1) Harriet Logan (2) Octavia Willis)
Middleton Bigham (b. 1837; d. 1913; m. Mary Elizabeth Fones)
Samuel Thomas Bigham (b. 1845; d. 1918; m. (1) Permelia Gibson (2) Nancy Boyd)
Leroy Bigham (b. 1846; d. 1900; m. (1) Barbara Beck (2) Clarinda Willis (3) Malanda Justice
Alexander Bigham (b. 1848; d. 1899; m. Josephine Foreman)

There are two common trends that become apparent when looking at the lives of the Bigham brothers. Many of the brothers died fairly young, in their 30s or 40s. Also, four of the brothers married Campbell women. The eldest brothers, George and Jefferson, appear to have married sisters. Mary Ann and Sarah Jane Campbell were likely both the daughters of Andrew Campbell (b. abt. 1799). Ebenezer's wife, Martha Campbell, was the daughter of John M. Campbell and Nancy Ayres, and almost certainly a cousin of Mary Ann and Sarah Jane, although I haven't worked out all the details of the extended Campbell relationships yet. William, my ancestors, married Angeline Campbell, who is likely connected to the other Campbell girls. There were a lot of Bighams and Campbells living in Chester County, and the families had a close relationship.

One other thing to note is that the third Bigham brother, Robert, married Cindrilla Greene. This is the same Cindrilla Greene who is my fourth great-grandmother, via her first marriage to Andrew Ross Campbell.

Isaac Bigham

Isaac, father of Elijah Bigham, was born, rather incredibly, on July 4, 1776, in Chester, South Carolina. He married Rachel Weir, daughter of George and Mary Weir, who, like Isaac’s parents, were Scots-Irish immigrants from Northern Ireland. He died in October 1862 in Pickneyville, Perry County, Illinois.

James Bigham

James C. Bigham is our earliest known Bigham ancestor. He was born in County Antrim, Ireland, and likely emigrated to America with his parents as a teenager or young man. He married Nancy J. McFadden. He died in South Carolina in 1801, just a year after the death of his son, Elijah.