I was surprised to learn that I know of more ancestors with the surname of Taft in my Roberts Line than any other surname, including Roberts. Only my Mannin(g) and Wolcott ancestors, which are on my Brown line, are more numerous.
Taft is an English name coming from a variant of Old and Middle English word “toft,” meaning a yard enclosing a residence[i], a curtilage, or homestead. It was also applied to a low hillock where a homestead used to be.[ii]
Nearly 12,000 of the 13,500 Tafts in the world live in the United States. The highest concentration of Tafts is on the Island of Jersey, a dependency of the United Kingdom in the English Channel (close to France). Today, there are over 1,000 Tafts in both New York and California. There are only 59 people with the Taft surname here in Maine. I wonder if their ancestors came to Maine as mine went to New York in the 1700s. I’ll have to look at that sometime.
Taft is a very famous name in American history. Probably the most famous Taft is my 5th cousin, four times removed, William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States and the 10th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He is the only person to have held both offices. You don’t find cousins any more illustrious than “Cousin Bill.”
I haven’t researched Robert, Benjamin, or Stephen Taft enough to understand their immigration. Certainly, they came from Europe and probably England during the Great Migration of the mid-1600s. Silas Taft, my 5th great-grandfather was born in Massachusetts colony in 1744 and died in New York in 1812.
The 1840 Census indicated that there were no Taft families in Indiana, however my 3rd great-grandfather, Joel Cruff Taft died there in 1849. I know he had lived in New York, during the 1820s, before he went to Indiana. Twenty-five percent of the Tafts in the United States lived in New York in 1840 and over 1/3 of the Tafts resided in Massachusetts. So, it appears that my Tafts followed a typical migration west – Massachusetts to upstate New York, west to Indiana with some going further west again.
3rd Great-grandfather: Joel Cruff Taft (1800-1849)
4th Great-grandfather: Asa Taft (1774-1839)
5th Great-grandfather: Silas Taft (1744-1812)
6th Great-grandfather: Stephen Taft (1710-1803)
7th Great-grandfather: Benjamin Taft
8th Great-grandfather: Robert Taft
My known Taft relatives.
My records have 259 known, direct-line descendants of Robert Taft identified over fourteen generations, which is about 9% of my known Roberts/Brown Tree. Mercy Taft, who married Nelson Barnes in 1839, had nine siblings who I haven’t had a chance to research yet.
During the summer of 1965, my stepfather decided to sell the house in North Minneapolis and build a new home in Brooklyn Park. Brooklyn Park is a second-tier suburb about ten miles northwest of Minneapolis. I believe Budgar was the first to buy in a development called “Sager’s Acres.” In any event, as is often the case with new construction, building completion was delayed. The house on Bryant Avenue sold and we needed a place to live. We ended up renting a dwelling on Lowry Avenue in Minneapolis between Lyndale and Aldrich Avenue. I registered for school at Osseo with the expectation that we’d move to the new house before school started. No such luck. Somehow, we were able to find an Osseo teacher who lived in North Minneapolis and who would give me a ride to and from school until the house in Brooklyn Park was completed. I’m not sure, but I think I rode with the teacher for about a month, maybe two. I wish I could remember her name and thank her for the rides.
Osseo was an old farming town that was experiencing the pains of massive growth. The school district (Independent School District #279) was an area consisting of Osseo, Brooklyn Park, Maple Grove, and parts of Brooklyn Center and several other towns. The original building was built in 1928. More classrooms and a lunchroom were added in 1949 and more classrooms again were added in 1957. In 1959 a gymnasium was added. In 1961 a major expansion was added and in 1964 another major expansion was added. With one of the expansions, the old part of the building was designated the Junior High portion of the school and the new expansions were designated the high school part of the building. I started at Osseo in the fall of 1965. As I recall, all of the high school classes were in the two new expansion wings of the school. The newly built gym and the cafeteria were used by the High School. Osseo had the worst lunches ever. Just plain horrible. One meal I remember vividly was toast with a blob of spaghetti-like mix on top with a little cheese melted on top that they called “pizza.” They were also trying to be healthy, so they took chips and good things out of the machines and replaced them with apples, oranges, and other “healthy” foods. In my junior year, the Junior High students moved to a new building nearby and the old building became a newly established Junior College. Needless to say, our attitude changed greatly when we learned that they had student lounges and more adult facilities. They also had good food in their machines. Occasionally, we’d sneak around the building, enter the Junior College, and buy goodies out of their machines.
In the spring of 1966, I got into a big row with my stepfather. He and my mother had been fighting, which typically occurred when he had been drinking, and I broke it up and beating him until I got tired. He made it be known that he would kill me in my sleep for it, so I decided it was time to leave. After a few weeks on the street, I was arrested for trespassing (Two other runaways and I were sleeping in a model home at night.) Budgar didn’t want me back, so I was ruled incorrigible. I was lucky enough to be sent to a foster home in Brooklyn Center (not a group home) and I was able to continue at Osseo High. It was while living in the foster home I met my best friend, Doug, who lived a few blocks away from the Olson’s house on Perry Avenue.
I was in the audio-visual group, chess club, computer club, and was seen as a generally geeky, nerdy, kid. I was over six feet tall and under 150 pounds –skinny. I did well in high school and never needed to study to get a “B.” If I really liked a class and I decided to work for it I’d get an “A.” At that time, they gave students two grades, the standard A to F letter grades for academics and a “Citizenship” grade from 1 to 3; three was a “misfit.” The vast majority of students received a “2,” meaning “Satisfactory.” Once, I receive an A-3. Academically superior but a misfit. It was Spanish class. My teacher was from Boston and couldn’t trill an “r.” I, however, could trill my “r’s” and would correct the teacher’s pronunciation regularly. She was really frustrated with me. Basically, if I liked a teacher, I did well in school, if I didn’t like a teacher, I cut up constantly and did poorly.
I didn’t do anything in the way of sports in high school. Living in the foster home, I didn’t receive any type allowance or income, but my foster parents encouraged me to work to earn money. I worked at several different jobs during high school. I was a fry cook at a greasy-spoon restaurant in Crystal called Marty’s Grill. Doug worked there also. We were both stiffed on our pay when the place went out of business. I also at International House of Pancakes (IHOP), Sweden House, a smorgasbord (buffet) in Crystal and several different Embers Restaurants. I also worked at a large Holiday gas station in Crystal. (My best friend Doug worked there too.) Twelve years later, when I got out of the Navy, Doug and I also worked together at TRW in Arden Hills. So, we actually worked at three places at the same time over the many years of our friendship.
While I was living at the foster home, I really needed and wanted a driver’s license. In order to get one, I needed to get a copy of my birth certificate. That is when I learned that my birth surname was Taylor. A name I had never heard before. It was shortly after that when I changed my name. My foster parents couldn’t put me on their insurance, so in order to afford insurance, I decided to try to move back with my mother, who truly missed me. Budgar and I were able to co-exist for much of my senior year. However, once I graduated, Budgar want me gone so I moved into a small house in Northeast Minneapolis with a couple friends.
Today, Independent School District 279 serves Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Corcoran, Dayton, Hassan Township, Maple Grove, Osseo, and Plymouth. It has 19 elementary schools (K-5), four middle schools (6-8), three high schools, including Osseo, and an area learning center (9-12). Osseo High School is a four-year school with a huge campus. The old 1924 building with the 1935 and 1948 additions were demolished for a new gymnasium. The 1959 gym was converted to a new cafeteria in 2002 along with adding new office spaces. From 2002 to 2005 the exterior was renovated. Finally, in 2014-2015, more classrooms were added along with a choral rehearsal room. Frankly, I don’t think I’d recognize the school today as the same one I attended 50 years ago.
It has been 50 years since I graduated from Osseo. I hope there is a reunion. I’d love to see the old school and possibly catch up with some old friends.
Almira Chamberlain married young and died young, at only 41 years of age. She was a pioneering woman who went west with her husband, from her native Vermont to Genesee and Orleans counties in New York. Then again further west, Almira moved to Saline, Washtenaw County Michigan.
5thGreat-grandfather: Benjamin Chamberlain (tentative)
Almira Chamberlain Sanford (1804-1845)
In the year Almira Chamberlain was born, 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr mortally wounded Alexander Hamilton in a dual, Napoleon Bonaparte was proclaimed Emperor of France, and Louis & Clark left on an expedition to explore the newly purchased land west of the Mississippi. Almira was born on 21 August 1804.[i] I believe her father was Benjamin Chamberlain, her mother is unknown. The 1810 Census suggests that she had two older brothers and an older sister.[ii]
Almira married Ezra Sanford in 1819. [iii]She was 15 and Ezra was 27. The young couple headed west and were in Bergen, Genesee County, New York by August 1820 when the census was taken.[iv]
They had nine children – eight boys and one girl. They were Ezra (1820), William (1823), Henry (1824), Amos (1827), Ann Maria (1829), John W. (1831), Orlo (1835), George Poindexter (1835), and Charles A. (1838). All of the children were born in New York except for Charles who was born in Michigan.
The family was in New York through the 1830 census and appears to have consisted of Ezra, Almira, and their first five children.[v]
In 1834, her son Henry died at the age of ten.
In 1836, Ezra headed west with 16-year-old Ezra, (Jr.), and 13-year old William to prospect a new homestead. The following year he returned to New York for his wife and other children and located them in Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan, arriving on July 4th, 1837,[vi] the year that Michigan became a state and only five years after Saline became a town.
The 1840 Census suggests that Ezra junior had created his own household, but Charles, George, Orlo, John, Ann Maria, Amos, Henry, and William were still home. [vii]
Almira (Chamberlain) Sanford died in Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan on July 7th, 1845. She is buried at Benton Cemetery.
[i] History of Washtenaw County, Michigan, William Sanford – Pages 1408 and 1409. Chas. C. Chapman & Co. (1881). History of Washtenaw County, Michigan: Together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships … and biographies of representative citizens : history of Michigan. Chicago: Chas. C. Chapman & Co. https://archive.org/details/cu31924028870520.
[ii] 1810 Census (FS), Family Search, 1810 Census – Benjamin Chamberlain Head – Bennington, Vermont. “United States Census, 1810,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XH21-YST : accessed 7 February 2018), Benj Chamberlain, Bennington, Vermont, United States; citing p. 87A, NARA microfilm publication M252 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 64; FHL microfilm 218,668.
[iv] 1820 Census (FS), Family Search, 1820 – Ezra Sanford – Bergen, Genesee, New York. “United States Census, 1820,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHLV-7VN : accessed 24 September 2017), Ezra Sanford, Bergen, Genesee, New York, United States; citing p. 43, NARA microfilm publication M33, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 72; FHL microfilm 193,727.
[v] 1830 Census (FS), Family Search, Ezra Sanford – Clarendon, Orleans, New York. “United States Census, 1830,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHG5-KP2 : 29 July 2017), Ezra Sanford, Clarendon, Orleans, New York, United States; citing 96, NARA microfilm publication M19, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 115; FHL microfilm 17,175.
[vii] 1840 Census (FS), Family Search, 1840 Census – Ezra Sanford – Saline Township, Washtenaw, Michigan. “United States Census, 1840,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHYX-63Z : 15 August 2017), Ezra Sandford, Saline Township, Washtenaw, Michigan, United States; citing p. 140, NARA microfilm publication M704, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 211; FHL microfilm 14,797.
Finding the parents of early 19th century women is always a challenge. So, I knew that determining the parents or my 4th great-grandmother, Almira (Chamberlain) Sanford was going to be difficult. Almira married Ezra Sanford in 1819 when she was only 15 years-old. She had nine children and died quite young, at only 41 years of age.
All the information I have about her life is from secondary sources. First, The History of Washtenaw County, Michigan states:
William Sanford, Farmer, was born in Genesee Co., N. Y., March 30, 1823. His parents were Ezra and Almira Sanford, the former born in Bennington Co., VT, Aug 19, 1792, and the latter born in the same place, Aug. 21, 1804. They were married in 1819, and were blessed with 9 children, 5 of whom are living.[i]
The other source I have is the death record for William Sanford, which provides his parents names as Ezra Sanford and Almira Chamberlin (or Chamberlain).[ii]
If I believe that these two records are accurate, then I can hypothesize three scenarios.
Her family was in Bennington County, Vermont in 1810 when she was five-years-old and there will be evidence of her in the 1910 Census records.
Her family was in Bennington Co. in 1800, four years before she was born.
In 1820 her family was either in Bergen, Genese, New York where she and Ezra were in 1820 or they are still in Bennington Co. Vermont.
Finally, it is possible that her family came and left Bennington County after 1800 and before 1810 making it impossible to determine the family from these census records.
The 1810 Census is clear. There is only one Chamberlain household in Bennington County, Vermont.
The Benj. Chamberlain household consists of three males and three females. Excluding the oldest male (clearly Benjamin) and the oldest female (most likely his wife) who are both over 45 year of age that leaves:
Two males, from 10 to 16 years of age,
One female under 10 and
One female from 16 to 16.
In 1810, Almira would have been five years old and fits into the one female under ten.
With the 1810 census findings kept in mind, Benj. Chamberlain should be found in the 1800 census. His age could be either 26 to 45 or over 45. His wife would be the same. But there should be at least two males under 10 and one female under 10 in the household.
The only Chamberlin in Bennington County in 1800 is a Calvin Chamberlin. He appears to be 26 to 45 but the children in the household are all older than 10. So, there is no way this can be the same household with a different first name being used.
Next, I looked for a Benjamin Chamberlain in the 1800 Census anywhere. The search yielded 14 results on Ancestry.
Children Under 10
Brattleboro, Windham, VT
3 boys, 1 girl
Still in Brattleboro.
Chelmsford, Middlesex, MA
Dalton, Berkshire, MA
2 boys & 1 girl
Glastonbury, Hartford, CT
2 boys, 3 girls
Greenfield, Hillsborough, NH
Newbury, Orange, VT
1 boy, no girls.
2 boys & 2 girls
Plymouth, Windsor, VT
Schenectady, Albany, NY
3 boys & 1 girl
Still in Schenectady.
Standish, Cumberland, ME
Thetford, Orange, VT
Thetford, Orange, VT
1 boy & 1 girl
Turner, Cumberland, ME
2 boys & 1 girl
Windham, Greene, NY
1 boy, 1 girl
Of those 14 Benjamin Chamberlains, only four had a combination of at least two boys and one girl, however, one of those seems unlikely due to location.
Back to the 1810 Census
Then, I look at the 1810 Census again. Two of the Benjamin Chamberlains were still in their 1800 location during the 1810 Census. Only the Benjamin Chamberlain living in Dalton, Berkshire, MA was no longer found in Dalton. Dalton is only about 20 miles south of Bennington County, so that move seems possible, even likely. Certainly, much more likely than moving 250 miles northeast from Philadelphia to Bennington County.
Armed with these census facts, I feel comfortable enough to hypnotize that Benjamin Chamberlain, who lived in Dalton, Massachusetts during 1800, is likely the father of Almira Chamberlain and lived in Bennington County, Vermont in 1810. As such, I’ll create a tentative relationship and continue researching this as a possible family unit.
[i] History of Washtenaw County, Michigan, William Sanford – Pages 1408 and 1409. Chas. C. Chapman & Co. (1881). History of Washtenaw County, Michigan: Together with sketches of its cities, villages, and townships … and biographies of representative citizens: history of Michigan. Chicago: Chas. C. Chapman & Co. https://archive.org/details/cu31924028870520.
[ii] Michigan Death Certificates, William Sanford (Birth 30 Mar 1823 – Death 05 Jul 1915)- Charlotte, Eaton, Michigan.
I continue investigating the siblings of Rufus Holton Darling. In this research, I was able to extend my knowledge of Rufus’ mother Sally Ann (Munsell) Darling. I learned that Sally moved in with her son, Abner, and his wife before the 1860 Census. By knowing Sally was in Wisconsin in 1860, I may be able to find her death records.
Indeed, the building of the Erie Canal was a big part of his childhood. Construction began in Rome on July 4th, 1817, with the canal connecting Rome to both the Hudson River and the Great Lakes by 1825.
By 1830, his family located further west, to Clarkson, Monroe County, New York. Clarkson is about 18 miles west of Rochester and about 8 miles from Lake Ontario. The 1830 Census appears to include a household of Abner senior and his wife, Sally.[ii] Also, are five boys and three girls. They appear to be:
Franklin (age 1)
Hannah (age 6)
Sally Ann (age 9)
Henry (age 10)
Rufus (age 14)
Deidamia (age 16)
Abner (age 19)
Unknown (Possibly Andrew)
One child’s identity is unknown, but his age is 15 to 19. It is possible that this child is Andrew, but other records suggest Andrew should be age 25 during the 1830 census.
About 1834, Abner married Nancy Anne Green. They had two children while living in Clarkson, a daughter, Lucinda, (born 1835) and a son, Ned, who was born before 1840. The family moved from Clarkson, New York to Racine, Wisconsin about 1840. It appears that Ned died there before 1840.
Abner started a business in Racine and went bankrupt. After the business problems, Abner and Nancy moved on to Grand Chute, Wisconsin, where he began another business. I have not been successful finding him in the 1840 Census.
During the 1850 census, the family consisted of Abner, his wife Nancy Anne, and their daughter Lucinda.[iii] They lived in Grand Chute, Brown County, Wisconsin. In 1851, Brown County was divided, and part of it became Outagamie County.
The 1855 Wisconsin census indicates they were living in Appleton, but it is unclear if they moved from Grand Chute or if only the “closest post office” change.[iv]
In 1860, they had a very complex household. Besides Abner, Nancy, and Lucinda there are five other individuals in the house.[v] Sally A. Darling, Abner’s 75-year-old mother is living with them. Also, there are four young adults living with them. Harriet Reed, Wilbur Yoenne, Joseph Hammend, and Jos Colman. All ages 20 to 25. Jos Colman is interesting because, later that fall, Lucinda marries Henry Colman. I need to research and find out what the relationship might be between Jos Colman (b. 1840) and Lucinda’s husband, Henry Colman (b. 1834). I suspect they were all students at Lawrence College.
Education appears to have been very important to the Darlings. Lucinda, Abner and Nancy’s only daughter, attended Lawrence College and was the first woman to graduate from the school (in 1857). She went on to be an instructor in Latin at Evansville Seminary in the 1860s and later taught in the Madison and Sheboygan public schools. The Lawrence University 1930 yearbook, The Ariel, was dedicated to her.[vi]
Abner’s wife Nancy died in April 1867. That following October he married Nancy’s niece, Sarah Green.[vii] The 56-year-old Abner was 27 years her senior. They had three children together.
Alice Wells Darling (1869-1920)
Jessie Lucy Darling (1870-1917)
Helen S. Darling (1878-1949)
The 1870 Census finds the family consisting of Abner, Sarah, and their daughter Alice.[viii] Also living with them are three other individuals. Louisa Lowell, a 20-year-old domestic servant, and May Welland, a six-year-old girl whose relationship is unknown, lived with them. Also was 68-year-old R. H. Green. This is apparently Robert Hunter Green, Sarah’s father.
The 1880 Census finds the family back down to Abner, Sarah, and their three daughters.[ix] Living with them still is Abner’s father-in-law, the 78-year-old Robert Green.
Abner Darling died in the fall of 1880. He was buried at Riverside Cemetery, Appleton, Outagamie County, Wisconsin.[x]
Further Actions / Follow-up
Document Abner’s property ownership in Outagamie County.
Document Abner’s bankruptcy in Racine.
[i] This date is consistent with his Grave Marker and the 1850 and 1860 Census records.
[ii] 1830 Census (A), Abner Darling – Clarkson, Monroe, New York – Page 271. Source Citation 1830; Census Place: Clarkson, Monroe, New York; Series: M19; Roll: 94; Page: 271; Family History Library Film: 001715 4
[iii] 1850 Census (FS), 1850 Census – Abner Darling (c. 1812) – Grand Chute, Brown, Wisconsin. “United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4D6-G1L : 12 April 2016), Abner Darling, Grand Chute, Brown, Wisconsin, United States; citing family 640, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4D6-G1L.
[iv] Wisconsin, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1820-1890, Ancestry, WI 1855 State Census Index – A. C. Darling – No Image. Outagamie County, Appleton Village, 1855. Ancestry.com. Wisconsin, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1820-1890 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 1999. Original data: Jackson, Ron V., Accelerated Indexing Systems, comp. Wisconsin Census, 1820-1890. Compiled and digitized by Mr. Jackson and AIS from microfilmed schedules of the U.S. Federal Decennial Census, territorial/state censuses, and/or census substitutes.
[v] 1860 Census (FS), Family Search, 1860 Census – A C Darling – Appleton, Outagamie, Wisconsin. “United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MW9J-N11 : 1 October 2017), A C Darling, 1860. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MW9J-N11.
[vii] Wisconsin, County Marriages, 1836-1911, Family Search, Abner C Darling & Sarah A Green – 1867. “Wisconsin, County Marriages, 1836-1911,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QK85-MHDG : 9 March 2016), Abner C Darling and Sarah A Green, 26 Oct 1867; citing Rock, Wisconsin, United States, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison; FHL microfilm 1,275,527.
[viii] 1870 Census (FS), Family Search, 1870 Census – Abner C. Darling – Appleton, Outagamie, Wisconsin. “United States Census, 1870,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MNSM-K4W : 12 April 2016), Abner C Darling, Wisconsin, United States; citing p. 84, family 631, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 553,229.
[ix] 1880 Census (FS), Family Search, 1880 Census – Abner C Darling – Grand Chute, Outagamie, Wisconsin. “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MNHH-VFZ : 14 September 2017), Abner C Darling, Grand Chute, Outagamie, Wisconsin, United States; citing enumeration district ED 126, sheet 238C, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 1440; FHL microfilm 1,255,440.
[x] Find a Grave, Abner Darling (1811-1880). Citation: Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 01 February 2018), memorial page for Abner Darling (1811–1880), Find A Grave Memorial no. 184635832, citing Riverside Cemetery, Appleton, Outagamie County, Wisconsin, USA; Maintained by Jeanne Weiland (contributor 49074152).