I am posting each of these stories here in order to demonstrate what can be done, and, to make the information available to interested others. PLEASE NOTE: these have not been edited and updated for new information, so if you read this, take the information WITH THAT IN MIND! Thanks! Enjoy reading this slice of our lives.
The Wilson family in Illinois - Part I
In the introduction to this series, we said:
The Wilson line was a good place to start because a lot of good people before us had done a lot of work in recording and preserving records down through the years: From England to Connecticut shortly after the Mayflower landed at Plymouth, to upstate New York, to Illinois just after the Black Hawk wars, fighting in the Civil War, moving to Prairie City, Iowa and then to the Far View Farm in Carroll County, Iowa, between Coon Rapids and Glidden. The Wilsons, particularly in Illinois, were also active in the Underground Railroad.
The first record we had to work with (in the spring of 1995) was in the form of a letter to Hazel Bolger from a Wilma Fletcher in Des Moines dated June 3, 1965. Actually, what we had was a piece of paper on which I (Bill) had hand copied some of the information from the letter. I had done this sitting at the kitchen table in Glenn and Ruth Bolger's house sometime about 1975. It began like this:
1. Robert Wilson (a kinsman of Thomas Newell) Windsor by 1647
married Elizabeth Stebbing, dau. of Edward,
and had children, probably others:
2. Samuel Wilson (b. about 16-52-1697)
married Mary Griffin of Windsor, Conn.
dau. of John Griffin and had children: Elizabeth, Mary, Abigail,
John, Samuel, Mindwell
3. John Wilson, Deacon (1686-1774) Windsor,
married Mary Marshall, dau. of Thomas Marshall and
Mary Drake (The Drake line is a royal one)
and had children: Mary, John (b. 7 Nov 1711), Hannah, Noah,
Joel, Rachel, Amos, Pheneas
4. John Wilson, Jr., Capt., Deacon, (1711-1799) born Windsor, Conn.
One of the first 5 settlers of Harwinton, Conn.
married Abigail Stevens, dau. of John,
and had children, probably others: 5. Eli (11-30-1740)...
The list continued thru 6. Eli (1765-1824) and 7. Eli (1791-1875) who is the one who eventually moved to Illinois. More on this end of the lineage below.
Nancy began two research tracks that became fruitful at an early stage. One was to check the Ancestral File on the computer at the library and the LDS church family center. It actually had the first four generations, above, on file, but, also had one preceding generation (see copy attached), John Wilson, born about 1600, in England, along with wife, Hannah James, born about 1605 "of Windsor, Hartford, Conn." [In a later episode, we will discuss early Connecticut history, when both the Wilsons and the Adkins were among the very early colonists, shortly after the Mayflower landed.]
The second research track was the census records. We will not attempt here to detail the many records that were found, checked, examined, recorded, rechecked, etc. to confirm and then expand on the information on the Wilson family. Some examples, and a July 1995 status report, will suffice for now. The ten generation Pedigree Chart from John down to Norman, as of 14 July 1995, is attached.
The two most recent generations included in the 1965 letter were (notice the gaps in information, including no spouses, no death dates):
7. Eli Wilson (1791-1875) married Julia Candee - Removed to Camden, New York in 1818 and to Peoria Co, Farmington, Illinois, in 1834.
Had children: Eli Pomeroy 4-20-1814
Huldah Jane 1820
Levi Parsons 7-16-1822 -to Iowa in 1855
8. George F.H. Wilson - Harwinton, Litchfield Co, Conn.
married Lydia Adkins, Oct 1837, Plymouth, Litchfield Co., Conn.
Children: Julia Asenath May 23 - 1839
Emily Jane Aug 30 - 1841
David Norman Jun 28 - 1844
Hiram Aug 5 - 1846
George Edwin Jun 10 - 1851
Elbert Edkins Dec 6 - 1853
Sarah Ellen Nov 27 - 1855
Harriet Lulu Sep 15 - 1857
We have since received a copy of the actual letter to Hazel...from Marjorie Meggs, in Edmond, OK, who is writing an Adkins genealogy book (see Lydia, wife of George F.H. Wilson, above). It is expected to be available in December, 1995. Wilma Fletcher, in the cover letter to Hazel, asked these questions, among others:
1. I would like any information as to Eli (7) Wilson's descendants. Do you know who any of the girls married?
2. Where did George (8) and Eli (8) Pomeroy Wilson settle?
Using census records, Nancy was able to, first, locate Eli and family in Peoria Co, Illinois, near the town of Trivoli, just east of Farmington. Farmington is actually in Fulton County, just across the line from Peoria Co (Illinois map attached). In addition, she confirmed George F.H. (still don't know what the initials stand for) and his family moved to Henry County (about 1850) and Eli Pomeroy stayed in the Farmington area as an adult (we have identified his wife and their five children and their spouses), but, later, died in Des Moines. These facts were further confirmed by our visits to Peoria, Trivoli, Farmington, and Cambridge (Henry Co). In Cambridge, for instance, we found (by review of newspaper microfilms) the obituaries of both George F.H. and his wife, Lydia, which gave a good summary of their lives and family relationships (much more on these later). In Peoria, we found an entry in a "Trivoli Directory" which provided details of Eli Pomeroy's life in the community and more details on his father, Eli's, early years.
The following speaks of the father, Eli, from the directory article:
"(Eli) was reared on a farm (Harwinton, Litchfield county, Conn.) and received a liberal education, which well qualified him to teach, which occupation he pursued in the State of New York for a number of years. In May, 1813, he married Miss Candee...and by which union there were four sons and four daughters, all of whom lived to adult age,... In 1818 they immigrated to Camden, Oneida county, N.Y., where he became an active member of the Congregational Church, teaching vocal music and leading the choir for many years. He was somewhat of a politician of the Dewitt Clinton and Gerrett Smith style, though he never sought office. In the spring of 1834 he immigrated with his family to Peoria county, and located in Trivoli township on Sec. 8, where he remained in comfortable circumstances until his death, which occurred Sept. 7, 1875, at the age of eighty-four. His widow is still living at the age of ninety-one (therefore, this written about 1880), retaining all her mental faculties to a remarkable degree. The family came by the lakes and rivers to Peoria, arriving June 3, 1834. Through the kindness and hospitality of the Hon. Charles Ballance a room was obtained for the stay and lodgement of the family of ten for the night, free of charge. The next morning started out for their future home on the west line of the county, and were all day making the trip, twenty-four miles. The land not yet being in market, he purchased a claim of Joel Brown, ten acres broke and a small log cabin on it, partially finished. Thus he located, and soon made his family a new and comfortable home. He was liberal minded and reformatory in his views, both in church and state; was a friend to the poor and friendless of every class and condition. From his boyhood he was opposed to slavery, and his place was known as a leading depot on the underground railroad between Cairo and Galena [more on this in another episode]."
We have visited his grave (with his wife, Julia) in the pioneer section of the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Farmington, IL. Three pictures are in the cemetery picture file.
With respect to the children of Eli and Julia, we have identified them all (see Family Group Records attached for the families of both Eli and George F.H.) with their spouses, except for the youngest, David Candee Wilson. We only recently confirmed his name and birthdate. He had two daughters we know of, now, but have yet to locate the name of his wife. This is one of a set of questions we are building for another trip to Farmington and Cambridge, probably next summer. We wrote earlier of Eli Pomeroy Wilson and George F.H. Wilson, of course. Julia married James Wickwire in Trivoli. They lived in the large brick home (very likely the one built by Eli for his family) next door to the original cabin Eli bought and first lived in with his family. Huldah Jane married Truman Jones and was living in Chicago in 1879. Levi Parsons Wilson married Nancy M. Ortch and was one of the first settlers of Prairie City, Iowa (see episode 7). Sarah Elizabeth married Royce Allen whom she knew from Camden, Oneida county, New York. They also moved to Henry county where we will report more on them later. Notice they were prominent on the LDS records, I suspect someone in his family was the reporter. He was an active politician, farmer, and cattle breeder. Margaret married Dr. John Gregory. We have identified two children.
As for the children of George F.H. and Lydia, Arthur, Henry and Ella died in infancy and are recognized on a common stone in the Munson cemetery (George donated the land for the cemetery, by the way. We have several pictures of it on the top of a hill overlooking the land they and Royce Allen and other relatives owned). Judith married David Kemerling, but, she is buried near her parents. We are still seeking information on him. Emily Jane married Francis Martin Austin and moved to Prairie City. Norman we know about, and more, later. Hiram is a mystery. We cannot locate birth records or a grave site. Edwin George Wilson was unmarried, died in Cambridge in 1921. He owned the forty acres in Carroll County, IA, immediately east of the original Far View farm for several years, but sold it outside the family, not to Norman or his family. Bears more investigation. Elbert died in infancy and is buried in Munson cemetery. Harriett Lulu Wilson married Charles Edgar Remsburg in Trivoli in 1878. In 1884 they moved to Glidden, Iowa, and settled in Lanesboro where some of their descendants still live (friends of Paul, Carolyn, Ruth, etc. - as well as relatives). Their oldest son, however, raised his family in Prairie City!
This has been rather lengthy, but, I believe illustrates well how much a little well directed research time can accomplish. Simple comparison of where we started with the current status is startling...and we have just begun. The stories of their daily lives from newspaper articles and other references are still the most important sources of bringing their way of life "to life," however. The bare statistics are essential elements, but are just really the tools to get at those other details. We will get into more of those details when we delve into each families' activities in future episodes.
Another part of the story to tell is of Illinois during these years as Eli and his family were arriving and settling beginning in 1834. "For a time in 1832 northwestern Illinois was kept in terror by Indian raids and murders..." Later in 1832, Chief Black Hawk was driven into Wisconsin where he and his band were reduced to "abject submission." Abraham Lincoln served as a captain of militia in the campaign. He ran for (state) General Assembly in 1832 and was elected in 1834, 1836, 1838 and 1840. "First an unsuccessful storekeeper in New Salem, he took up the study of law by himself and in 1836 was admitted to the bar." I have attached a map of Illinois with a number of the towns and counties mentioned above marked in red. Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837. In a Priarie City directory listing for Levi Parsons Wilson it states: "...emigrated from New York to Peoria Co., Ill., in 1834, with his parents before the Indians left that section; Peoria was called Ft. Clark; there were only two frame buildings and 200 inhabitants..."
More details and relationships in later episodes.
Families are Forever! ;-)