Ancestor Bio – Chester Parsons (1799-1887)

52 Ancestors – Week 2018-16
Brown/Sanford/Parsons

By Don Taylor

I never imagined I’d have an ancestor that there is just too much information available. Amazingly, I have more information about Chester Parsons and his life than I can keep up with. Ancestry, suggests there are 85 Ancestry Hints and 13 other public Ancestry Member Trees relating to Chester Parsons. Admittedly, five of those Ancestry Hints are from me because of one of those old trees, but still 80 Hints is more than I recall seeing elsewhere. I went through all of them, several weren’t clearly my Chester Parsons (1799-1887) and appeared to have been other Chesters. But still, there were a couple items I hadn’t seen before including a photo of Chester. I have several sources of information that I didn’t add to my tree because they didn’t add any new detail, instead confirmed information that I already had. But still, I ended up using 21 sources for information about Chester’s life.

Brown-Roberts Research 2017 – Ancestor #102

List of Grandparents

Chester Parsons (1799-1887)

Chester Parsons was born on 1 December 1799, the fifth child of John Parsons, Jr. and Mary Wolcott, in Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts.

Chester’s siblings included:

  • Samuel –  Born 5 Apr 1787
  • Polly – Born 17 Jan 1792
  • Orrin – Born 6 Mar 1794
  • John – Born 5 May 1796

Childhood

Sometime shortly after his birth and before 1802, the family moved from Massachusetts to Windham, Greene County, New York. In April 1813, Chester’s father, John, died. It appears that older brothers Samuel and Orrin established their own households by the 1820 Census. I have not been successful determining where Chester, his sister Polly, his brother John or his mother, Mary, were during the 1820 Census. I suspect they were living with another family member whose surname was not Parsons.

Marriage

Chester married Deborah Buel Maben on 26 November 1824 in Greene County, New York.

They had eight children

  • Lucinda           Born 1825 in New York
  • James               Born 1826 in Michigan
  • Mary Electa   Born 1828 in Michigan
  • Alfred David  Born 1830 in Michigan
  • Harriet Eliza Born 1832 in Michigan
  • E. W.                 Born 1833 in Michigan
  • Sarah Jane     Born 1833 in Michigan
  • Melissa           Born 1843 in Michigan

Adulthood

In May 1826, Chester and his brother, Orrin headed west to Michigan Territory. The two of them purchased 160 acres of land in Saline Township on 1 November 1826. They built the first mill in the area as well as the first frame house.

The 1830 Census found Chester as the head of the household consisting of two males and three females. On 1 August 1831, Chester purchased 78.24 acres of land, and in 1837 he bought another 80 acres.

The 1840 Census found Chester’s household consisting of four males and six females. There is one male, age 50 to 60 and one female age 20 to 30 that are unknown and do not appear to be Chester’s children.

The 1850 Census finds the Chester Parsons household consisting of Chester, his wife, five of his daughters, one son, and four unrelated farm hands, although Zebe Fuller would marry his daughter Harriet.  Chester’s real property was valued at $7,800.

The 1860 Census finds a prosperous Chester Parsons living with his wife and two daughters. Also living in the household are two young females, ages 19 and 22 who are domestics as well as three farm laborers. Chester’s real property was valued at $12,500.

The 1870 Census finds Chester and his wife, Deborah, living alone. His real estate is valued at $21,000 and his personal property at $5,000.

Deborah died in 1874 at the age of 69. They had been married for nearly 50 years.

C. Parsons Home

Chester remarried on 11 November 1875 to the Widow Wakefield. Chester’s second wife, Jennette Arnold Wakefield, was 24 years younger than Chester.

The 1880 Census finds Chester and Jennett living together in Saline, Chester was 80 and Jennett was 56 and keeping house.

Chester died on 7 June 1887. He was buried at Benton Cemetery, in Plot 30 next to his first wife.

Chester’s property went through probate. Many of his children and grandchildren were mentioned in the various probate documents. There were auctions of his property as well. At one auction, on November 28th, 1890, 52 acres wheat on the ground sold for $6.95 per acre. Also, and a large number of farm implements. Sixty acres of timberland was sold to Sturm and Reeves. Also sold at the auction were 12 cows, 16 head young cattle, and seven horses,

Because Chester was an early pioneer in Saline Township he is often mentioned in various historical books, such as The History of Washtenaw County, and newspaper articles long after his death. According to them Orrin and Chester built the first sawmill in town in 1827, two miles south of the village. There is another story where Chester and Orrin were concerned that someone else might purchase the land they wanted, so they walked by an old Indian trail through the night to Monroe to acquire the property. Chester became the postmaster for Benton in 1835 and cut a road from Saline to Tecumseh road. He kept a hotel before the railroad was completed to Ann Arbor.

Page 437 of The History of Washtenaw County provides a portrait of Chester Parsons. (See above.)

Marker – Chester Parsons – Courtesy Find a Grave

Likewise, page 105 of York, Saline, Ypsilanti, Lyndon, Sharon (Mich.) Township residences, ca. 1874, provides an image of Chester Parsons’ house in Saline. (See above.)

I’ve found a photo of Chester, a birth record, a death record, two marriage records, presumably him in the 1800 Census and through all the Census records in his adult life, 1830 through 1880. I’ve found photos of his home, Bureau of Land Management records of his land purchases, his probate records, and maps showing his property during various years. Finally, stories about his life and activities abound.  His was a life well lived and I am proud to be descended from him.

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • The History of Washtenaw County, page 1406, indicates that Chester’s wife Deborah wrote a history of their move from New York to Michigan what recounted the “hardships and privations of their early pioneer life.” Apparently, she did not complete it, but I would love to find a copy of whatever might have survived from that writing.

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Sources

I have so many sources for Chester Parsons, I’ve decided to abbreviate the sources so that the sources aren’t longer than the article. Additional detail is available; however, the information provided should be sufficient to find the record.

  • 1800 Census – John Parsons Jr. – Sandisfield, Berkshire, Massachusetts (3rd from bottom).
  • 1830 Census – Chester Parsons – Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan Territory/
  • 1840 Census – Chester Parsons – Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan
  • 1850 Census – Chester Parsons – Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan
  • 1860 Census – Chester Parsons – Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan
  • 1870 Census – Chester Parson – Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan
  • 1880 Census – Chester Parsons – Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan
  • Daughters of the American Revolution, “Ancestor Search,” DAR, Buell, Grover – Patriot: A016639 – Member: Ruth Evelyn Hill Carr
  • Daughters of the American Revolution, “Ancestor Search,” DAR, Maben, John – Patriot: A072838 – Member: Ruth Evelyn Hill Carr
  • Chas. C. Chapman & Co. (2012). History of Washtenaw County, Michigan: Together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons, and biographies of representative citizens: history of Michigan: embracing accounts of the pre-historic races, aborigines, French, English and American conquests, and a general review of its civil, political and military history – Pages 1370, 1371, 1373, & 1405.
  • Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620 – Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011 – Parsons.
  • Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950 Ancestry.com – Chester Parsons – Died: 7 Jun 1887.
  • Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952, Ancestry.Com. – Chester Parsons – Jennett Wakefield.
  • The Saline Observer (Saline, MI)– Various repositories:
    • 1882-08-17, Page 3, Column 2, Para 16
    • 1890-11-20, Page 7 – Auctions – Chester Parsons
    • 1890-12-04, Page 5, Column 2, Paragraph 6 – Chester Parsons
    • 1890-12-18, Page 7, Column 3, Paragraph 19 – Chester Parsons
    • 1897-06-24, Page 5, Column 2, bottom –  Obit – Janette A Arnold [Parsons]

————–  Disclaimer  ————–

Chester Parsons and the 1820 Census

Census Sunday
Brown/Sanford/Parsons Line
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Following ancestors through all the census records is often difficult, particularly in census records before 1850, when only the head of household was named. Tracing my 4th great-grandfather, Chester Parsons was straight-forward from the 1880 census back to the 1850 census, even on to the 1830 Census, while Chester was in Saline, Michigan. Before that, he was a young man in someone else’s household not in Michigan. The path to understanding is to take what you know, hypothesize what should be, then see if research fits.

What I think I know.

  • Chester was born on 1 December 1799 in Sandisfield, Berkshire, Massachusetts.
  • Chester married his first wife in Greene County, New York in 1824.
  • In May 1826, Chester and his young family moved from New York to Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan Territory.
  • He and his family appear in 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses. The family seems to have been very stable living in Saline, Michigan, for over 60 years.
  • Chester’s father, John Parsons, died in 1813 in Greene County, New York.
  • In 1820 Chester would have been 20 years old.

My Speculation.

Because Chester probably lived with his father when his father died in 1813 and Chester probably resided in Greene County when he married in 1824, I presume the 20-year-old Chester also was living in Greene County during the 1820 Census. If so, who was he living with?

Search & Results

A quick search on Family Search of all families with the Parsons surname living in Greene County, New York in 1820 yielded four candidates, Samuel, Orrin, Albert, and Stephen. I’m looking for any of those people that might have Chester living with him.

Samuel Parsons – This Windham household consists of 1 Male (Age 26-45) and no other males. Chester’s oldest brother was named Samuel and would have been 33-years-old. This Samual is possibly, even likely, Chester’s brother.

Orrin and Samuel were enumerated next to each other in the 1820 Census.

Orrin Parsons – This Windham household consists of two males (one 16 to 26 and one under 10. There is also a female 16 to 26 in the household. Chester’s 2nd oldest brother was named Orrin and was 25 at the time. It is likely this was him with his wife, and first, previously unknown, son.

Albert Parsons – This Windham household consisted of five individuals, apparently Albert age 16-26, male 10-16, and male under 10 and two females, one, an apparent wife 16 to 26 and another age 10 to 16. There is no known Albert Parsons in my research before this. I will probably need to do more research to determine this Albert’s place in the family or determine he isn’t related. In any event, Chester is not in that household either.

Conclusion

Chester’s father John died in 1814. It appears that Samuel and Orrin each married and established households of their own. Chester, his brother John, and their mother were probably either missed in the 1820 Census or were living in the household of someone without the surname Parsons in Greene County, New York.

Further Research

  • It is possible that Chester and family lived with sister Mary/Polly in 1820. Research Mary/Polly Parsons’ life.
  • It is possible that Chester and family lived with a female sibling of John Parsons, Jr. Research the lives of the other Parsons of Sandisfield, Massachusetts that located to Windham, Greene County, New York between 1800 and 1820.

1840 Census and Chester Parsons

Census Sunday

The 1840 census often exasperates genealogists.  I find the information presented to be challenging and able to provide new questions as well as details.

I was getting to know my 3rd great-grandmother, Mary Electa Parsons. In 1840 Mary Electa was 13 years old and living with her family in Saline, Michigan.  Of course, the 1840 Census only lists heads of households, so seeing Mary in the census is impossible. What I like to do is that the census record and determine who all of the individuals are that are listed suggested in the census.

Screen shot of 1840 Census
Crop of 1840 Census, Saline Township, PG 141

In the case of Mary Electa’s father, Chester Parsons the details, transcribed are:
Chester Parsons | – 1 –  1 – – 1 1 – – – – – // – 2 2 – 1 1

Then using my other records and sources I try to explain each of the individuals listed.  In this  case they are:

Males: 

  • 1 – 5 to under 10           Presumed to be Alfred (age 10)
  • 1 – 15 to under 20         Unknown
  • 1 – 40 to 50                    Presumed to be Chester Parsons (Age 41)
  • 1 – 50 to 60                    Unknown – Possibly brother of Chester or Deborah but most likely Deborah’s father Robert Maben (Age 59).

Females:

  • 2 – 5 & under 10            Presumed to be Harriet (age 8) and unknown.
  • 2 – 10 & under 15          Presumed to be Lucinda (age 15) and Mary Electa (age 12)
  • 1 – 20 to 30                    Probably Sarah Jane – Inconsistent Age.
  • 1 – 30 to 40                    Presumed to be Deborah Buel Maben Parsons

I am quite sure that Chester and his wife Deborah Buel Maben have one child that died in 1881. That individual could be the unknown male 15 to 20 or could be the female age 5 to under 10. That means there is another child living in the family that is completely unknown. All of the other children known to Chester and Deborah are accounted for.

Chester and Deborah were married in 1824, if they had a child in 1825 that child would have been 15 in 1840 and is a likely candidate to be the first unknown male. Likewise, the second unknown girls between 5 and 10 is a likely child. As such, I’m adding two tentative children of Chester and Deborah:

Unknown Parsons – Male – born 1819-1825. Living 1840 – Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan.

Unknown Parsons – Female – Born 1829-1835. Living 1840 – Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan.
I will also update my Unknown Parsons, who died 1881, to suggest it could be one of the above two or an entirely different child.

Finally, there is an unidentified male listed, age 50 to 60. Chester’s father was dead before 1840, however, Deborah’s father, Robert Maben, was still living. Her father would have been 59 in 1840. Additionally, Robert died in 1843 in Saline.  He does not show as the head of a household in Saline during the 1840 Census.  As such, I postulate that Robert Maben was living with his daughter, her husband, and her children.  Do I know this to be true?  No, but I think it is a strong likelihood. As such I’ll add it as a tentative fact until I see facts suggesting otherwise.

Robert Maben – Residence: 1840 – Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan (Probable) – Probably Living with daughter Deborah and son-in-law Chester Parsons.

Taking an 1840 census, applying all know relationships to the census and then attempting to reconcile any unknowns can lead to new insight into the family and family relationships.

————-Disclaimer————-

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Source: Family Search; 1840 Census; Chester Parsons – Saline Township, Washtenaw County, Michigan, Page 141; https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHYX-65H

 

Happy Birthday John Parsons – Born 18 November 1764

John Parsons and my guilty diversion 

How I do research.

One of my regular activities is to try to remember my ancestors on their birthday.  I look at a calendar I prepared of the key dates for direct ancestors and saw that my fifth-great-grandfather, John Parsons, would be 249 years old today, if he were still living.  I didn’t even know his name until a few weeks ago, so I thought I’d do a “deep dive” into his history before his birthday. My, oh my, it is so easy to be diverted from your intentions. I know I shouldn’t get side-tracked in my research, but I did and I am glad I did in this case.  As usual I started with Ancestry.com.  I research there thoroughly, census, city directories, pretty much anything they have except for other people trees (a “shallow dive”).  Afterwards, I branch out  in my research and use the internet. I next use Family Search, the other services I subscribe to such as Genealogy Bank and Archives.Com. As I fill in more and more details about an individual I then use the several hundred other web sites I have bookmarked as appropriate.  I also order books and microfilm as I need it.  It is process for me that I call “a deep dive.”

My Starting Point

I first learned of John because he was identified in History of Washtenaw County. (A free download via Google Books.) 
He was Chester Parson’s father.
1801 – Moved from Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts.
1802 – Moved to Windham, Greene County, New York, in the Spring of 1802.
1813 – Died in Greene County, New York.
Of course I immediately wanted to know where he was born. Chester has been born in 1799 in Sandisfield, Mass and his parents moved to New York with him in 1802.  Sandisfield, Mass. seemed a likely place. But, could I confirm that. 
A search on Ancestry yielded someone’s tree where they cited a Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) case file.  Way cool. I try not to accept trees submitted by individuals to Ancestry, but I do like to use their references and other information as a research idea to follow them in their sources.  I generally accept DAR files as fairly accurate.  They generally know what they are doing and are really good about not accepting poor research.  
2nd Connecticut Regiment Flag
Courtesy of Flags of the World 
I checked the DAR site and found a case where an application — Nat’l # 445593 – Ancestor # A088240 — had been submitted that went through Chester and John Parsons.  It then went on to John’s father, John Parsons, who was a lieutenant in the Revolutionary War serving in Capt. Samuel Wolcott, 10th Co., 1st Berkshire Cnty Regt of MA Militia.  It also indicated that John Jr. was born 18 Nov 1764 at Windham, NY.  Humm — odd for someone to be born in NY, somehow move to Sandisfield, then back to Windham.  
Further searching on Ancestry.com yielded a list of individuals born in Sandisfield, Mass., which included John born Nov 18th 1764 of Lieut. John & Hannah Parsons. The conflict was obvious.  According to the list, John and his siblings as well as John’s first five children were all born in Sandisfield.  Further Search of found a handwritten ledger of “Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988” which listed John Parsons Jr. 
I transcribed the information there with some difficulty. After transcribing the information I search some more and found the exact same data transcribed by someone else.  I learned to be sure to look for transcriptions of handwritten documents before I transcribe it myself.  Instead, I should have compared the transcription with the original document and see if I agreed with the transcription.  In this case, everything was as I had thought so I accepted the transcription.  
I then found a second handwritten document from Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records on Ancestry that showed the same information only kind of backwards. Really difficult to read, but it appeared to have information consistent with the other handwritten ledger entries.
Further searching found that John’s wife’s father also fought in the Revolutionary War.  One of the references to Samuel indicated there was a book about the Wolcott family. I found it on Google Books; it yielded a total of 79 new direct ancestors and their siblings.  (More on them in future blogs.)
In my research, the death of John Parsons is unclear. History of Washtenaw County, on page 1405, clearly states, “John and Mary Parsons, removed to Green Co., N.Y. in the Spring of 1802, where the former died in 1813, but the latter resided there til 1826.”  The DAR Database indicates that John Parsons died at Saline, MI on 7 April 1813. Further searching on Find a Grave yielded an entry, but not a marker photo (Memorial #118318770) indicating he is buried in Green County, I was unable to find a Find a Grave entry in Washtenaw that might be him..
Further searching found that John’s wife’s father also fought in the Revolutionary War. Samuel Wolcott – Yes John’s father, Lt. John Parsons fought under his wife’s father, Capt. Samuel Wolcott.  One of the references to Samuel indicated there was a book about the Wolcott family. I found it on Google Books, Wolcott genealogy: the family of Henry Wolcott, one of the first settlers of Windsor, Connecticut; it yielded 79 new direct ancestors and their siblings. More on them in a later postings. 
Although I didn’t find out a lot about John Parsons, Jr.’s life, yet, investigating him opened up research into many more ancestors. I’ll have to get back to a deep dive on John junior next year.  Hopefully I will be able to clear up the conflicting information I have.  What I know now:

John Parsons (Jr.)

John Parsons was the third child of John & Hannah Parsons (Sr) and was born on 18 Nov 1764 in Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Mass. (See 1 below.)  He was the oldest of the five boys and he had four sisters, two older and two younger.
John married Mary Wilcott (date unknown) and lived in Sandisfield, Berkshire county, Mass. then, in 1802, moved to Windham, Green County, New York. (See 2 below.)
John and Mary had five children;
Samuel, Polly, Orrin, John, and Chester Parsons, 
John Parsons died Apr. 7, 1813.
He may be buried in Section 1, Pleasant Valley Cemetery, Ashland, Greene County, New York. “Inscription indicates he died at age.”

Conflicts

Some sources indicate Green County, New York .
Some sources indicate Saline, Washtenaw county, Michigan. 

Sources:  

Ancestry.Com – Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988.
Daughters of the American Revolution, “Ancestor Search” – Parsons, John – Patriot: A088240 – Member: Ruth Evelyn Hill Carr Nat’l #: 445593.
Google Books – History of Washtenaw County, Michigan:  Together with Sketches of Its Cities, Villages and Townships – Page 1405, et al.
Find-a-Grave Memorial 118318770