Another Randy Seaver/Genea-musings exercise! “Thinking about your direct ancestors back through 2nd great-grandparents – in other words, ancestors #2 to #31 on your pedigree chart – how many children did they have? How many lived long enough to marry? How many died before age 10?” So here’s mine:
#2-3: R. Wells and M. Wilson – 3 sons, 1 daughter (3 married), 0 died before age 10
#4-5: Edward Lee Wells (1905-1955) and Velma Irene Belknap (1913-1999) – 4 sons, 4 daughters (7 married), 0 died before age 10
#6-7: Charles Thompson Wilson (1907-1989) and Helen Dorothy Oakes (1912-1988) – 1 son, 2 daughters (3 married), 0 died before age 10
#8-9: Robert Luke Wells (1881-1919) and Nannie Jane Clark (1880-1969) – 4 sons, 1 daughter (5 married), 0 died before age 10
#10-11: Earl E. Belknap (1895-1960) and Florence E. Bost (1896-1961) – 9 daughters, 1 son (9 married), 0 died before age 10
#12-13: John A. Wilson (1874-1930) and Mary A. Thompson (1872-1940) – 7 sons, 3 daughters (7 married), 1 died before age 10
#14-15: William Oakes (1888-1928) and Mae D. Moore (1892-1971) – 1 daughter (1 married), 0 died before age 10
#16-17: James H. Wells (1840-1904) and Mary Ann Clark (1839-1894) – 5 daughters, 4 sons (8 married?), 0 died before age 10
#18-19: Willis Clark (1834-?) and Sarah E. Wells (1838-1923) – 4 sons, 3 daughters
#20-21: Arthur F. Belknap (1869-1955) and Martha Gisel (1869-1925) – 1 daughter, 4 sons (5 married), 0 died before age 10
#22-23: William S. Bost (1859-1932) and Mary E. McCracken (1862-1911) – 4 daughters, 3 sons (5 married), 2 died before age 10
#24-25: John Alford Wilson/Rustad (1833-1889) and Mary Ann Gibson (1837-1923) – 5 daughters, 3 sons (4 married?), 3 died before age 10
#26-27: Archibald Thompson (1838-1931) and Elizabeth Dunning (1837-1912) – 9 sons, 2 daughters (6 married?), 3 died before age 10
#28-29: Henry Ochs/Oakes (1846-1922) and Minnie Schroder (1857-1936) – 2 sons, 2 daughters (4 married), 0 died before age 10
#30-31: Fred L. Moore (1863-1924) and Mina Adell Bolt (1865-1942) – 3 daughters, 2 sons (3 married), 2 died before age 10
The following exercise was borrowed from a post from last year on Randy Seaver’s blog. Working on this exercise, I actually learned a few things about the 1940 census! I learned the circled x’s next to names mean that person is the one that answered the census-taker’s questions. Also, I noticed a column I had never paid attention to before – Number of hours worked during week of March 24-30, 1940.
1) Determine where your ancestral families were on 1 April 1940 – 80 years ago when the U.S. census was taken. 2) List them, their family members, their birth years, and their residence location (as close as possible). Do you have a photograph of their residence from about that time, and does the residence still exist?
* On April 2, 1940,my father, Robert Wells (born 1939) resided at 17117 O’Connor Street in Allen Park, Michigan with his father, Edward Wells (born 1905), his mother Velma (nee Belknap, born 1913), and his three older sisters, Patricia (born 1934), Ruthann (born 1936), and Donna (born 1938). Edward was a stock chaser at an axle company. His salary was $1600 annually. He had worked 50 weeks in 1939 and 40 hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940. Velma answered the census questions. They owned the home, and it was valued at $1200. Here is a photo of that house today:
* On April 8, 1940, my grandparents, Charles Wilson (born 1907) and Helen (nee Oakes, born 1912) resided at 2431 Bennett Street in Dearborn, Michigan, with their daughter Sally Ann (born 1934) and son Charles (born 1935). My mother, Mary, had not been born yet. In the census, Charles was listed as a truck driver at a creamery company, and his income was $2000 annually. He had worked 50 weeks in 1939 and 48 hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940. Helen was the one who answered the census questions. They owned their home, and it was valued at $4600. Here is the house in the 1950s:
* On April 13, 1940, my great-grandmother, Mae Oakes Smiechowski Johnson (nee Moore, born 1892) and her 3rd husband Alfred Johnson (born 1892) resided at 14810 Parkgrove, Detroit, Michigan, with Mae’s nephew, Harry Moore (born 1914). Mae was my grandmother Helen’s mother. Alfred and Mae owned the house (valued at $6000) and rented the upper flat out for $35 a month. Alfred was listed as an inspector of automobile parts, and his income was $2100 annually. He had worked 48 weeks in 1939 and 40 hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940. Alfred was the one who answered the census questions. Here is the house in 2007. It has since been torn down.
* On April 19, 1940, my great-great grandmother, Mina Moore Thompson (nee Bolt, born 1865) and her 2nd husband Bert Thompson (born 1879) resided at 23439 Michigan Avenue in Dearborn, Michigan. Mina, Mae’s mother, was the one that answered the census questions. Bert was a carpenter in building construction and worked 26 weeks in 1939. During the week of March 24-30, 1940, he worked 24 hours. His annual income was $800. They rented the house for $10/month. The house would have been located on the south side of Michigan Ave. near the corner of Outer Drive. It was torn down before 1956, when an office building was built there.
* On April 16, 1940, my great-grandmother, Nannie Wells (nee Clark, born 1880) resided at 1087 Victoria Avenue in Lincoln Park, Michigan with her son Jesse. She rented the house for $30/month. Also living with her were two lodgers from Indiana named Fred and Boaz Duncan. Nannie was the mother of my grandfather Edward Wells. The house no longer stands but was located near Fort Street and Outer Drive.
* On April 3, 1940, my great-grandparents, Earl Belknap (born 1895) and Florence (nee Bost, born 1896) resided at 1611 Electric Avenue in Lincoln Park, Michigan with their children Helen (born 1921), Arthur (born 1923), Betty (born 1927), Joyce (born 1931), Nancy (born 1934), Nadine (born 1936) and Shirley (born 1939). Earl and Florence were the parents of my grandmother Velma. I don’t have a picture, but it was located near Fort Street and Southfield Road. They rented for $20/month. Earl was a carpenter, earning $750 in income annually. He had worked 36 weeks in 1939.
* On April 19, 1940, my great-great grandfather, Arthur Belknap (born 1869) was the father of Earl Belknap and resided at 35120 University in Nankin Township, Michigan (now in Westland, Michigan). He was living with his daughter Belva (born 1899) and her husband Alva Merillat and their children Bernetta (born 1928) and Ralph (born 1939). They rented the house for $20 a month. Here is a photo of the house from 2007:
For Week 40 of #52Ancestors, the theme is “Harvest.” I decided to look and see how many of my great-great grandfathers (you have 8) were listed in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census/1881 Canadian Census with an occupation of “Farmer.” Here we go:
James Wells – Farmer, aged 40, Horsepasture District, Henry Co., Virginia
Willis Clark – Dead
Arthur Belknap – aged 11 – his dad was a laborer in Dover, Fulton Co., Ohio
William Bost – Farm Laborer, aged 20, Marion Twp., Henry Co., Ohio
John Wilson – Farmer, aged 48, Howe Island, Frontenac, Ontario, Canada
This week’s theme was “Easy.” But I chose to go a different way with it: I search my tree for people with “E-Z” in their names. I came up with Ezekiel Worthen (1636-1716), my 8th great-grandfather. He was the great-grandfather of Martha Worthen (1745-1826), who married Thomas Locke (1751-1816). They had a daughter Abigail (1778-1861) that married Obadiah Belknap (1774-1834). Obadiah and Abigail were the grandparents of my great-great grandfather Arthur Belknap (1869-1955).
My grandmother’s family, the Belknaps, used to hold a family reunion every year in Ohio. At first, it was for the descendants of the Belknaps and the Clarks (the descendants of my great-great grandfather Arthur Belknap, and those of his sister Lucina and her husband John Q. Clark). My grandmother (and her mother before her) used to keep track of names, birth and death dates in booklets she handed out to every family represented at the reunion.
In the Sept. 11, 1942 issue of the Adrian (MI) Daily Telegram, there is a short article titled “Clark-Belknap Families,” which states:
The 15th annual reunion of the Clark-Belknap families was held Sept. 6 at The Island in Adrian with 68 members present from Montpelier, Ohio, Bay City, Detroit, Royal Oak, Adrian, Ogden Center, Ypsilanti, Belleville, and Clayton. Officers were elected as follows: president, John Q. Clark; secretary, Mrs. Earl Belknap; treasurer, Mrs. Jesse Clark. The 1943 reunion will be held at the same place.
In the 1985 booklet, she wrote, “Our reunions have been going on since 1950, your Historian has attended reunions since they first were organized in 1925, under the title of ‘Belknap-Clark Reunions’ which were disbanded in 1955, after the death of Arthur Belknap.” I think she was saying the Belknap-only reunions started in 1950.
In the 1974 booklet, she wrote, “In the year of 1949, Arthur F. Belknap decided a record of his ancestry would be nice to have to hand down to his descendants. He contacted a lawyer friend of his and eventually the following record of ancestry was give to him.” Arthur was in contact with Glen W. Evans of Lansing (a genealogist, not sure if he is the lawyer friend mentioned above), who wrote a book titled “The Belknap Family” in 1949. In a letter to Arthur dated October 5, 1949, Mr. Evans listed Arthur’s ancestry from Abraham Belknap to his father Thomas Belknap. He ended the letter by saying, “Keep well and take care of yourself and I will try to make the Belknap Reunion next year at Adrian, Mich. where I may be able to tell you more about this branch of the Belknap Family.”
In 1980, the reunion celebrated it’s 30th anniversary. Here are my grandmother (back row, second from left), her one brother, and her seven surviving sisters (one had died in 1977).
The thing about family history that is challenging is the overwhelming focus on the male side of things – surnames, lines of descent, etc. This means (at least for me) that I know very little about even some pretty recent female ancestors.
One example is Polly Ann Farr, my third great-grandmother. She was the 3rd wife of Thomas Belknap (born in 1803), and the mother of Arthur Belknap. She was born in about 1832. The earliest record I have found for her is an application for a marriage license, dated September 18, 1848 to Thomas Belknap in Lorain County, Ohio. I’m not sure if this means they were married on that date or not. The application states that “she is of eighteen years.” I don’t think that’s true though.
The next record is the 1850 U.S. Federal Census for Russia Township in Lorain County. Polly Ann was listed as age 18 and birthplace of Ohio. Thomas’ 11-year-old son Francis is also living with them. In 1860, the family was living in Clinton, Fulton County, Ohio. Polly was listed as 29 and born in Ohio. They had 4 children in addition to Francis by 1860. In 1870, they were living in York Township, Fulton, Ohio and Polly was listed as 38. Now they had 6 children in addition to Francis. In 1880, the last census she is found in, the family was living in Dover Township, Fulton, Ohio. She was listed as 49, born in Ohio. Polly’s father was listed as born in Vermont, while her mother was born in Kentucky. Only three of their children were living with them in 1880.
After all this, she ended up dying at the age of 52 years 3 months in 1887 (according to her pretty unreadable tombstone – I know: the dates don’t add up!), before her husband Thomas, who died in 1889 at the age of 85!
Through DNA, I think Polly Ann’s father may have been Kimball Farr, but I have to do a lot more research to prove it!
I’m not so sure about this relative’s legendary status, but he is somewhat infamous. William Worth Belknap is my 6th cousin 4x removed. We are both descended from Abraham Belknap, my 9th great-grandfather. My Belknap line comes from Abraham’s son Samuel, while William’s Belknap line comes from Abraham’s son Joseph.
William was born in New York in 1829 and graduated from Princeton University in 1848. He moved to Keokuk, Iowa and joined the Democratic party. He was elected to office and served in the Iowa House of Representatives from 1857 to 1858. He joined the Union army in 1861 and was commissioned as a major, recruiting the 15th Iowa Volunteer Infantry. He served at Shiloh, Corinth, Vicksburg, and Atlanta. By the end of the war, he was made a Brevet Major General. After serving as the Iowa Collector of Internal Revenue, having been appointed by President Andrew Johnson (and during which time he became a Republican), William was appointed Secretary of War by President Grant in 1869.
Due to the Trader Post Scandal and all that went along with it (including involvement by 2 of his wives), William resigned as Secretary of War on March 2, 1876, but was still impeached by the House on March 3. He was acquitted by the Senate on May 29, 1876.
William moved back to Iowa and practiced law. He maintained an office and a residence in Washington, D.C. He died there in October 1890. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
One of the good things William can be remembered for is purchasing thousands of negatives from the Civil War photographer Mathew Brady when he was going bankrupt in the early 1870s. According to the National Archives, where the photos are stored, “After the Civil War, business for Brady’s studios gradually declined, until in July 1874 Secretary of War William Belknap purchased part of Brady’s collection of negatives (ca. 2,250 plates) at public auction for $2,500 because of Brady’s bankruptcy. In April 1875, the War Department purchased 3,735 plates directly from Brady under express Congressional authorization… .”
Lots more information about William Worth Belknap can be found in his Wikipedia article.
For this week’s “At the Cemetery” prompt, I’m going to take a look at Tedrow Cemetery in Dover Township, Fulton County, Ohio. A lot of Belknap’s are buried there, including Thomas Belknap, our ancestor that originally left New England and came to Ohio to continue our branch of the Belknap tree.
Tedrow Cemetery is located on the north side of County Road J, just east of the village of Tedrow. The cemetery has also been known as Spring Hill Cemetery and Eldredge Cemetery.
Family members buried here include:
Thomas Belknap (1803-1889)
Polly Ann Farr Belknap (1837-1887), Thomas’ 3rd wife
Zera Belknap (1853-1920), Thomas and Polly’s oldest son
Mary Jane Kessler Belknap (1854-1928), Zera’s wife
Frederick Belknap (1889-1920) – Zera and Mary’s son