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.

Search Military Records - Fold3

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  ————–

My Male Ancestors – Birth, Death, and Age at Death

Brown/Montran Research
Roberts/Barnes Research

One of the reasons that I enjoy Randy Seaver’s blog, Genea-Musings is that he regularly makes me realize the missing branches I have in my tree leaves have lots more to do on my tree.  His recent “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun” asked folks to look at their tree and determine the age of death for their male ancestors. (He had done a similar thing for female ancestors the week before.)

Using Heredis, it is really simple to generate such a report. I clicked on myself, then clicked on Documents/Ancestor Report and the system generated the data. Then I went to Report Export, I selected Excel from several options.  After the information exported, the Excel spreadsheet opened automatically.

Because the ahnentafel numbers for the individuals are exported, it is easy to select just the male ancestors by deleting all of the odd numbers. I immediately saw that my 3rd great-grandfather, Enoch Mannin, lived the longest – 88 years. The ancestor who died the earliest was my great-grandfather Hugh Ellis Roberts, who died at an extremely young 24 years of age.

Next, I began seeing my gaps.  I have three people with a range of dates for their life.  For example, my great-grandfather John F. Montran was born sometime between 1860 and 1875 and died sometime before 1911. So, he could have died at 35 or died at 51 years or anywhere in between; I don’t know.

Then, I realized I have six ancestors for whom I have no death dates. More work.

Finally, I realized I have nine ancestors in the past five generations that I know nothing about.  No names, let alone birth or death dates. So, Randy’s challenge reminded me of how much more work I still have to do. But the good news is that I have 11 of my male ancestors identified as to their age at death. Even better, I have eight more this year than I would have had last year (all of my Roberts line.).  I even have one more than I would have had last week, So things are definitely looking up.

Chart of Male Ancestors, Dates of Birth and Death

Ahn. #
Surname
Birth Date
Death Date
Age at Death
Father
2
Hugh Eugene  Roberts
° 9/1926
† 27/3/1997
70
Grandfathers
4
Bert Allen  Roberts
° 7/9/1903
† 1/5/1949
45
6
Richard Earl  Brown
° 14/9/1903
† 19/1/1990
86
Great-Grandfathers
8
Hugh Ellis  Roberts
° 2/7/1884
† 30/8/1908
24
10
Joel Clinton Barnes
° 23/6/1857
† 30/6/1921
64
12
Arthur Durwood  Brown
° ~ 1864
† 27/8/1928
~ 64
14
John F  Montran
° <> 1860 & 1875
† < 1911
< 35
2nd Great-Grandfathers
16
Asa Ellis Roberts
° 28/2/1835
† 8/10/1887
52
18
Samuel Vaden Scott
° 1860
† 1931
71
20
Nelson Barnes
° 24/3/1816
† 21/2/1884
67
22
Nimrod Lister
° <> 1824 & 1827
† < 1909
< 82
24
William Henry Brown
° 1842
26
John William  Manning
° ~ 1845
† 25/4/1888
~ 43
28
Unknown (Montran)
30
Franklin E  Barber
° 10/1836
† 7/4/1917
80
Third Great-Grandfathers
32
John Calvin Roberts
° 3/3/1795
† 4/1873
78
34
Unknown Marshall
36
William H. Scott
38
Adrico J. Haley
40
Unknown (Barnes)
42
Unknown
44
Unknown (Lister)
46
Unknown
48
Barney Brown
° ~ 1814
† <> 1860 & 1870
<> 46 & 55
50
William M  Sanford
° ~ 1822
52
Enoch  Mannin
° 1819
† 7/4/1907
88
54
Unknown
56
Unknown (Montran)
58
Unknown
60
Unknown (Barber)
62
Stephen  Blackhurst
° ~ 1804
† 24/12/1869
~ 65
———-  DISCLAIMER  ———-

 

Descendants of the Founders of Ancient Windsor (DFAW)

Application Submitted – DFAW

I’ve been doing genealogy for quite a number of years.  And I think I’ve done well.  However, in some respects the “proof of the
pudding” is acceptance into a lineage society. 
Also, one of the biggest problems that I have is my first three
generations.  My mother never married my
father. My maternal grandmother was married to someone other than my mother’s
natural father and my mother’s birth certificate indicates her mother’s husband
as the father and not her natural father. 
Finally, my grandfather changed his name several times. He was born
Clifford Brown, went by Clifford Durand and Richard Earl Durand during
different times of his life and lived much of his later life as Richard Earl
Brown.  I think I have these twists and
turns documented but I don’t know if they are documented enough for a lineage
society to accept. 
Logo of the Descendants of the Founders of Ancient Windsor
I took a look at several societies for which I believe I
should be eligible to join.  One society
seemed perfect for me, the Descendants of the Founders of Ancient Windsor
(DFAW).  Their purpose is to “record and
preserve the history and genealogy of the founders of ancient Windsor, their
families and descendants.”  Although a
lineage society, they do not require documented descent from a founder for
membership. After joining, you may submit lineage forms and documentation to
their genealogist and, if approved, receive a certificate that you are a
descendant. I should be able to do so.  My lineage is from Henry Wolcott, the Wolcotts to Mary who married Chester Parsons, the Parsons to Mary who married William Sanford, the Sanfords to Marion who married Henry Brown, and the Browns down to my grandfather. 
So, I’ve put together my Application for Membership, along
with my check, and am sending it off in today’s mail.  I am looking forward to becoming a member of
the DFAW.  I’ll continue to blog about my
experiences with them.

Don’t Forget Books – Sanford & Parsons in Wells county, North Dakota

Don’t Forget Books

When researching ancestors, particularly ones that settled a particular location early in that location’s history don’t forget to look for key books regarding the location.  
I’ve tried using Google Books first and OCLC’s WorldCat second, but, have found that WorldCat provides fewer false positives in the searches.  
First, I do a search on OCLC’s World Cat. As an example, I searched for: {“Wells County” “North Dakota”}  which yielded 257 potential candidate books. In this particular search the first two entries, Atlas of Wells County, and Soil Survey: Wells County weren’t of interest to me at this time.  The third entry certainly piqued my interest, The history of Wells County, North Dakota, and its pioneers : with a sketch of North Dakota history and the oregin [sic] of the place names.
I then highlight the title, copy the name and switch windows to books.google.com.  Generally, the book is listed on the first page of the google books search. I look at the book there, in particular look to see if an ebook is available.  I’m looking for the beautiful “  EBOOK – FREE  ” block.  If it is there, fantastic. In the search box below the book’s title I enter my desired search criteria, (typically a surname) and look to see if the book has anything I am looking for.  
If it is not there, I prefer to see the book myself and not rely upon others to do a lookup for me; so, at this I switch back to WorldCat and get the information I need to order the book/material via interlibrary loan.
Generally, in a couple weeks the book is at my local library where I can closely review the material for information pertinent to my research.  
In the case of The History of Wells County, North Dakota, and it pioneers… I received the book in a few weeks and reviewed it closely.  there was a nice seven paragraph biography of A. C. Sanford (Almond Sanford). The biography mentions his mother and father (my 3rd great-grandparents), a brother, and sister settled the area with him, at the same time.  Almond’s sister married William Wright. William Wright is covered in another biography in the book.  I also learned that A.C. had three cousins, Webster, Winfield, and Chas. E., who also settled the area at the same time. Elsewhere in the book, I learned that his uncle, Charles A. Sanford, was a major donor to the University at Jamestown, ND. So much so that a hall was named for him. (Sanford Hall). 
I was able to glean 11 source citations and a few dozen facts regarding the Sanfords and the Parsons that settled Wells County, North Dakota in the early 1880s from the book including this regarding my 3rd Great grandfather William Sanford: 

“Wm. Sanford and his sons, A. C. and George P. Sanford, located on Section 6 in northwestern Sykeston township in 1883.  Wm. Sanford was the father of Mrs. Wm. Wright of Cathay, and a brother of C. A. Sanford of Courtney, donor of Sanford Dormitory at Jamestown College.”
I am certain I will find more information in the three books I still have on request regarding Wells County, N.D., via interlibrary loan.  Hopefully, I will learn exactly how Webster, Winfield, and Charles E are related.