Ancestor Biography – Stephen Blackhurst (1801-1869)

 [Brown]/Montran/Barber/Blackhurst Line
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.As I have begun to get to know my Blackhurst heritage, I am amazed. It is an incredible group of people descended from 19th century English immigrants, Stephen and Fannie (Taylor) Blackhurst. Fifty years after Stephen’s death family reunions began. Their descendants include many community leaders including a superintendent of schools for St. Charles, Missouri. It is more amazing because until I began investigating this family line I had not hear of any Blackhurst ancestors.  It was a name neither my mother nor her brother recalled ever hearing. They both remembered hearing about their great-grandmother Sarah Barber, who died when my uncle was only one year old, but neither recalled hearing Sarah’s maiden name.

Of course, I wonder what caused my line to appear to have become estranged from the remainder of Blackhursts.  I have my suspicions, but need to do a lot more research to prove them. In any event, in introduce you to my third great-grandfather, Stephen Blackhurst.

Roberts-Brown-2017 – Ancestor #62

List of Grandparents

  1. Grand Parent: Madonna Montran
  2. 1st Great: Ida Barber
  3. 2nd Great: Sarah H Blackhurst
  4. 3rd Great: Stephen Blackhurst
  5. 4th Great: Stephen Blackhurst

Stephen Blackhurst (1801-1869)

Birth

Birth years are often contentious and Stephen’s birth year is no exception. He was certainly born sometime between 1799 and 1804.

  • 1799 – His death in 1869 at the age of 70 suggests that he was born in 1799.
  • 1800 – The 1860 Census indicates his age as 60, suggesting a birth year of 1800.
  • 1801 – His marker displays 1801. Because there is no definitive source for his birth year, 1801 is the year I prefer to use.
  • 1802 – The 1841 England Census indicates his age of 39, suggesting a birth year of 1802.
  • 1804 – The 1850 US Census indicates his age as 46, suggesting a birth year of 1804.

Other records indicate he was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England.

Childhood

I believe Stephen was the child of Stephen Blackhurst and Lydia Ellen Cochran. I know nothing of Stephen’s childhood nor of his siblings.

Marriage

Relationship of Sheffield and Rotherham in South Yorkshire

Stephen and Fanny Taylor married on 26 Dec 1825 in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England. Rotherham is the district immediately east of Sheffield.

Adulthood

It appears that the couple may have moved between Sheffield and Kingston upon Hull. Records indicate that their first child, Ellen, was born in Kingston upon Hull and five of the other children were born in Sheffield. There are two children that I don’t have any details on their birth locations and, of course, Ellen’s birth location is single sourced and may be incorrect.

In any event, by 1841 the Blackhursts had located to Kingston upon Hull (known as Hull today), Yorkshire, England.

Coming to America

The 1855 New York Census indicates that Stephen had come to America seven years earlier (1848) while his wife and three of his children had come to America five years earlier (1850). The family, Stephen and Fannie, with six of the children (Elizabeth, Mary, William, Eleazer, Ann, and Sarah) were settled in Auburn, Cayuga County, New York during the 1850 Census. Their oldest daughter, Ellen, married on 4 July 1850 and the census enumeration occurred on the 8th of August. The 1855 New York Census still shows the family in Auburn.

Move to Michigan

It appears that the Blackhursts came to Michigan in 1859. The 1860 Census shows Stephen and  Fanny along with the three youngest children, William, Louise, and Sarah living in Sheridan Township, Calhoun County, Michigan. The Blackhurst farm appears to be about four miles north of Albion. So, over the ensuing years various documents indicate they live in Albion and Sheridan (Township).  There were some apparent conflicts in the 1860 Census that I addressed here.

Death

Marker = Stephen Blackhurst
1801-1869

Stephen Blackhurst died on 24 December 1869 of “Dropsy of the Bowels” (Ascites) in Albion, Calhoun County, Michigan. He is buried at Riverside Cemetery in Albion.

Story

54 years after Stephen Blackhurst’s death, his descendants got together for a family reunion at a park in nearby Jackson, Michigan. See: Blackhurst Family Reunion – 1923 for details.

Children:

Stephen Blackhurst and Fanny Taylor had the following children:

  1. Ellen Blackhurst was born on 19 Oct 1829 in Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, England. She died on 17 Feb 1905 in Sheridan Township, Calhoun County, Michigan. She married Henry Clough on 04 Jul 1850 in Auburn, Cayuga, New York.
  2. Elizabeth Blackhurst was born on 21 Oct 1831 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. She died on 14 Feb 1915 in Calhoun, Michigan.
  3. Mary Blackhurst was born on 20 Dec 1833 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. She died on 14 Feb 1900 in Springport, Jackson, Michigan. She married Royal Baldwin on 11 Jan 1857 in Calhoun County, Michigan.
  4. William Stephen Blackhurst was born on 13 May 1835 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. He died on 10 Mar 1914 in Avalon, Livingston, Missouri. He married Emily M Vase on 05 Sep 186417 in Calhoun County, Michigan,Usa. He married Sarah Elizabeth Hinkley sometime between 1875-1886.
  5. Louise Blackhurst (aka “Eleazer” and possibly “Louisa”) was born on 14 Aug 1840 in England. She died on 17 Mar 1927 in Albion, Calhoun, Michigan at the age of 88 Years, 7 Months, 3 Days.
    1. She married Samuel Sanders about 1862.
    2. She married Champion Eslow on 03 Sep 1872 in Albion, Calhoun, Michigan.
    3. She married Francis Magennis on 15 Aug 1882 in Albion, Calhoun, Michigan.
    4. She married Charles Henry Peck19 on 21 Dec 1898 in Albion, Calhoun, Michigan. It was the 4th marriage for Louise and the 2nd marriage for Charles.
  6. Phoebe Anna Blackhurst was born on 15 May 1842 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. She died on 17 Aug 1929 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois.
  7. Sarah H Blackhurst was born on 29 Dec 1847 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. She died on 08 Aug 1928 at home at 1456 Lawndale, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. Stephen White, Justice of the Peace, performed the marriage ceremony for Sarah and Franklin E Barber on 08 Nov 1869 in Sheridan Township, Calhoun County, Michigan.

Sources

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Trace Stephen Blackhurst’s life in England before his coming to the United States.

Blackhurst Family Reunion – 1923

Amanuensis Monday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I don’t recall ever finding a newspaper article about a family reunion for my direct ancestors. I found an article on Ancestry.Com that mentioned my third great-grandparents, Stephen and Fanny (Taylor) Blackhurst. The article was from 1923. Stephen died in 1869 and Fanny died 1889, so a first family reunion taking place over 50 years after Stephen died and over 35 year after Fanny died was a surprise. It showed the pride the family felt to be a part of each other.  The article was in the August 12, 1923 edition of the Evening Chronicle (Marshall, Michigan).[i]

Transcription

Social News
Reunions
Blackhurst

Evening Chronical (Marshall, MI) 12 Aug 1923

The first annual reunion of the Blackhurst family occurred Sunday at Victory park, Jackson, and was attended by thirty-five members of the family. Descendants of Stephen and Fannie Blackhurst, who came to this country from England, settling first in Auburn, N.Y., and in 1869 coming to Albion which was their home during the remainder of their lives.

Officers were elected during the afternoon following the picnic dinner as follows:

  • President, Mrs Flora Sears of Marshall
  • Vice-President Owen Brownell of Eaton Rapids
  • Secretary and Treasurer, Mrs. E. W. Banks of Albion

The after dinner hours were pleasantly occupied with recitations and speeches by the guests and by the reading of letters and telegrams received from those not able to be present. Relatives and friends were in attendance from Big Rapids, Eaton Rapids, Spring Arbor, Battle Creek, Marshall, Detroit and Albion.

[Note: formatting above is mine.]

Discussion

My research did indicate that the Blackhurst did first settle in Auburn, N.Y. However, they were in Sheridan Township before the 1860 Census.[ii] They were in Auburn during the 1855 New York Census,[iii] so they appear to have moved to Albion between 1855 and 1860 and not in 1869.

People

President Mrs. Flora Sears of Marshall:  I don’t have a clue who that could be.  Apparently from a family line I haven’t traced yet. It is interesting to note that next to the Blackhurst farm near Hall’s Lake was another farm owned by J.W. Sears. Nearby farms also included Sanders, Brownell, and Clough names known to have married into the Blackhurst family.

Vice-President Owen Brownell of Eaton Rapids. Must be Charles Owen Brownell (1870-1962), who was a grandson of Stephen and Fanny.  I learned that he lived in Eaton Rapids in 1923.

Secretary and Treasurer, Mrs. E. W. Banks of Albion, is Phebe Ann (Eslow) a granddaughter of Stephen and Fanny. I learned she lived in Albion in 1923.

In 1923, my 2nd great-grandmother Sarah (Blackhurst) Barber was 76 years old.  In 1920 she was living with my grandmother in New York City. In 1928 she was living with my great-grandmother Ida (Barber) Knight in Detroit. So, Sarah and Ida, could have been there as the “relatives from Detroit.” Donna’s whereabouts are unknown during August 1923 so she could have been there as well. Donna, Ida, and Sarah all lived in Albion at various times so they would have known the people and could well have had a desire to be a part of the first family reunion.

Conclusion

My direct ancestors (Madonna, Ida, and Sarah) left Albion and Calhoun County before 1900, and they never spoke of Blackhursts or Albion. It wasn’t until my research that we learned that Madonna was born in Albion, she always said she was born in Detroit. When queried, my mother and uncle said that Ida was born in Detroit. And neither of them recall ever hearing the surname of Blackhurst in their family history.  That make me wonder what made them apparently abandon the Blackhurst family and totally lose contact.  Maybe I’ll be able to find the Blackhurst Family Reunion of 1923 and learn more.

Albion (MI) Historical Society

There is hope on that front. This article shows many Blackhurst family members remained in Calhoun County and the Albion/Sheridan township area. Their having a family reunion in 1923 is evidence they wanted to keep their family in touch. Albion is about 1-1/2 hours west of Detroit and the Albion Historical Society is open weekends from mother’s day until September. I think it would be a great excursion to visit the Historical Society during my next trip to Detroit and see what they might have.

Sheridan Township (MI) Map showing Blackhurst and related family locations

I wish I lived near Albion. Next door to the Blackhurst farm was a farm owned by J. S. Sears. (Possibly somehow related to Blackhurst Reunion president, Mrs. Flora Sears?) One farm beyond that was a farm owned by T. Sanders. Just south of that a farm by W. Brownell.  It is like half the names of the Blackhurst spouses came from these neighbors.  I would be a fun exercise to look at all of the relationships.

In my wanderings, I have found other people for whom The Blackhurst legacy was a big deal. They spoke about the family going back and forth between Chicago and Albion and sharing stories about when Stephen and Fannie left England and came to America and lived in the “wilderness of Michigan.” Maybe they will share those stories with this black sheep Blackhurst descendant.

Followup

  • Reach out to other Blackhurst researchers.
  • Visit the Albion Historical Society.
    • Research – Any records showing John F. Montran or any Montran surnames.
    • Research – Any records regarding the Blackhurst family of Albion particularly prior to 1900.
  • Determine who Flora Sears of Marshall is and how she related.
  • Do a neighbor study of the Blackhurst family and the relationships of Stephen and Fanny’s children’s spouses.

ENDNOTES/SOURCES

[i] Evening Chronicle (Marshall, MI) (Marshall, Michigan, ), Ancestry.Com, 1923-08-12 – Social News / Reunions / Blackhurst.
[ii] 1860 Census, Family Search, Stephen Blacklin – Sheridon, Calhoun, Michigan – Line 7. Accessed 25 August 2013.  https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MWDJ-W8X.
[iii] 1855 New York Census, Family Search, Stephen Blackhurst – Auburn, Cayuga, New York. Accessed 25 August 2013. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K675-B3M.

Blackhurst Conflicts – The “Blacklin” Family of 1860

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I recently attended a Greater Portland Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society where the speaker, Pam Stone Eagleson spoke about “Confronting Conflicting Evidence.” It was a very good talk. As I listened to it I was thinking, ‘It doesn’t really apply to me;’ I’m pretty good a reconciling conflicting evidence.’  It wasn’t until sometime later that it hit me, she was talking about “Confronting” and not “reconciling” evidence. Do I really confront contradictions or do I just accept inconsistencies without thinking about them too much?

When I changed software long ago because of a database corruption and because of the shortcomings I’ve experienced in exporting to a GED file and importing a GED file into different software my sources are in a bit of a disarray. Because of that, my practice is to take my original sources and reintegrate them as though they were new sources then delete my old sources as redundant. I was doing that cleanup for my 3rd great-grandfather, Stephen Blackhurst.

I began the walk up from my earliest source citation.

  • 1841 England Census – Good[i]
  • 1850 US Census – Good[ii]
  • 1855 New York Census – Good[iii]
  • 1860 US Census – Whoa Nellie!

My 1860 Census record seemed to come from another planet. Lots of conflicts. Looking at the record from the perspective of having just seen the previous four records provided a new at the conflicts. I decided I need to confront the conflicts head on.

1860 Census[iv]

The conflicts include:

Crop of 1860 Census record for Stephen and Fannie Blackhurst
1860 Census for Stephen & Fanny Blacklin
  • Surname – Blacklin family – Not Blackhurst family
  • Age of Stephen: 60, (b. 1799-1800) verses 1802-1804 of other records (3 to 4 years off).
  • Age of Fannie: 59, (b. 1800-1801) verses 1806-1810 of other records (6 or 7 years off).
  • Married: The box for “married during the past year” is marked. Other records indicate they married in 1825.

Gosh, could I have attributed the wrong family to my tree? I haven’t done that in years.

The kids in the household look to be right for the Blackhurst family.

Sarah is 11, although she should be 12.

Louisa is 22 – Her age is right, but the name is different.  Previous records included her as “Eleazer” and “Ealonr.” I guess I can get “Eleazer” out of Louisa – but “Ealonr”? Maybe there is a middle name I don’t know about yet.

William is the right name and age, 24.

1870 Census[v]

1870 Census – Fanny Blackhurst

Sadly, Stephen died in 1869. The 1870 Census doesn’t show relationships; however, the Fanny Blackhurst family has the right surname – Blackhurst.

Fanny is head of household. Living with clearly is her daughter Louisa, now age 31. It appears that Louisa married during the previous decade and had two children. Husband (unknown Sanders) is absent from the record.

Likewise, daughter Elizabeth, aka Bessie, is living in the house with her husband, Isaac Earl, and a daughter Mary, age 8.

I’ll add that other family members, such as my 2nd great-grandmother Sarah Blackhurst Barber, are living in the same area (Sheridan Township, Calhoun County, Michigan, so I am pretty confident that the Blackhurst family moved from Auburn, Cayuga County, New York, to Sheridan Township, Calhoun County, Michigan, sometime between 1850 and 1860.

Surname Conflict

Going back to look at the conflicts.

I can’t explain the Blackhurst/Blacklin surname conflict. Because the family appears to be consistent with the other records depicting the Blackhurst family, before and after the 1860 Census. I have searched the 1850 and 1870 Censuses for Blacklin families without success.  Also I have searched for the Blackhurst surname in the 1860 census to no avail. I believe I have done a reasonably exhaustive search and believe that the Blacklin surname is a census taker error.

Marriage Conflict

“Married during the past year” is a problem. It is certainly possible that Stephen married a second time to a woman also named Fanny. That would explain the shift in age. Another possibility exists in that the census taker marked people who were married as married in the past year. The first three family units on the page are all marked as marked as married in the past year.

The first household on the page is Thomas Saunders (27) with Marion (24) and two children (5 & 3). The second household on the page is Stephen (65) with Fanny (59) and three children (24, 22, and 11).  The third household on the page is David Bowen (33) Valindima (24) and two children (2 & 1). It just seems odd to me that all three of these apparent family units were married in the past year. Unless I find some compelling evidence elsewhere, I don’t believe that Stephen and Fanny were married in the year previous to the 1860 census or that Stephen was married twice. So again, I believe this is a Census Taker error.

Age Conflict

My experience has told me that ages are most accurate early in life. The ages for children under 10 seem the most accurate.  Women seem to have their birth year increase during their late 20s, 30s, and 40s. In their 50s their birth years seem to return to their original and in their 80s and 90s their birth year often seems to move before their original birth year. Men’s ages seem to go similarly, however, single men in their 50s and 60s seem to be older if they are married and seem to be younger if they are single or widowed.

Stephen appears to fit this model

  • 1841 – Age 39 – b. circa[vi] 1802
  • 1850 – Age 46 – b. circa 1804
  • 1855 – Age 57 – b. circa 1798
  • 1860 – Age 60 – b. circa 1800
  • 1869 – Died – Marker says 1801

Fanny’s ages also fit this model.

  • 1841 – Age 30 – b. circa 1811
  • 1850 – Age 42 – b. circa 1808
  • 1855 – Age 48 – b. circa 1807
  • 1860 – Age 59 – b. circa 1801
  • 1870 – Age 64 – b. circa 1806
  • 1880 – Age 74 – b. circa 1806
  • 1885 – Died – Marker says 1806

Conclusion

The bottom line is that I believe I have confronted the inconsistencies in the facts of the 1860 Census records and the have facts in my database as appropriate. Pam Stone Eagleson’s talk about “Confronting Conflict” led me to further consider some inconsistencies in my tree and that is a good thing. Thank you, Pam.

Sources and Endnotes

[i] 1841 England Census, Ancestry.Com, Yorkshire, Kingston upon Hull, Parish of Holy Trinity, Pages 21 & 22. Stephen Blackhurst.

[ii] 1850 Census (FS) (NARA), Family Search, Stephen Blackhurst – Auburn, Cayuga, New York. Accessed 25 Aug 2013. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MCT2-GRX.

[iii] 1855 New York Census, Family Search, Stephen Blackhurst – Auburn, Cayuga, New York. Accessed 25 August 2013. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K675-B3M.

[iv] 1860 Census, Family Search, Stephen Blacklin – Sheridon, Calhoun, Michigan – Line 7. Accessed 25 August 2013. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MWDJ-W8X.

[v] 1870 Census (FS) (NARA), Family Search, Fanny Blackhurst Head – Calhoun, Sheridan, Michigan, Page 30, Line 24.

[vi] Circa – When I enter a “circa” date, it generally encompasses the year before and the year shown. For example, b. circa 1802 generally means 1801 to 1802. In the example of the 1850 Census which was taken on June 1, 1850, an age of 46 suggests the individual was born between 2 June 1803 and 1 June 1804. On occasion, I also use “About” or “Abt” meaning the same thing.

 

Surname Saturday – Cochran

Montran, Barber, Blackhurst, Cochran Line
By Don Taylor

Sometimes it is necessary to just put the brakes on.  So, is the case with Surname Saturday for Cochran. My fourth great-grandmother, Lydia Ellen Cochran, supposedly, is the wife of Stephen Blackhurst (1775-1845), and the mother of Stephen Blackhurst (1801-1849). She supposedly was born in 1754 and died in 1827. Oh my…. That would have made her 21 years older than her husband Stephen and 47 years-old when she gave birth to Stephen the son. Humm…. Possible, but not very likely. Also, I looked for a source document that would have shown these facts and have been unable to find one definitively tying Stephen Blackhurst (b. 1801) to Lyndia Ellen (Cochran) Blackhurst.

So, I probably have something incorrect; as such, I need to do more research to either confirm or correct my current information. Luckily, the next person I have on my Brown/Montran Research list to do an ancestry biography for is Stephen Blackhurst (1801-1869). In researching him, I should be able to identify his parents conclusively.

In the meantime, I’m going to skip Cochran in my Surname Saturday reports for now and hold it for a later investigation. Cochran might be one of my ancestral surnames, maybe it is not.  We’ll see.

Blackhurst a rare name in my family tree.

Surname Saturday – Blackhurst

by Don Taylor

Name Origin

Blackhurst is a surname based upon habitation, that is to say it is based upon where a person lived or came from. In this case “Blackhurst” derived from Old English blæc meaning ‘black’ and hyrst meaning ‘wooded hill’.

Geographical

According to Forebears, there are only about 2,387 individuals with the Blackhurst surname in the world today, mostly in the United States and England.[i]

Back in 1840, there doesn’t appear to have been any families with the Blackhurst surname in the United States.[ii] By 1880 there were only 62 families in the United States and 11 of them were in New York. The 1920 Census reports only 74 Blackhurst families in the entire nation.

Our Blackhurst ancestors came from Yorkshire, England. Steven Blackhurst (1801-1869) in 1848 and settled in New York State. By 1880, there were still only 11 Blackhurst households in New York and only 62 Blackhurst households in the entire United States.[iii] However, there were still 599 Blackhurst families living in England and Wales according to the 1881 Census.[iv]

Forebears indicate that there are several similar surnames.[v]

Blackhirst – primarily in the United States.
Blokhorst – primarily in the Neatherlands.

My Direct Appleton Ancestors

#124 – Stephen Blackhurst 1775-1845 – 4th Great Grandfather.
#62 – Stephen Blackhurst (1801-1969) – 3rd Great Grandfather. Immigrant Ancestor.
#31 – Sarah H. Blackhurst (1847-1929) – 2nd Great Grandmother.
#15 – Ida Mae Barber (1875-1953) – Great Grandmother.
#7 – Madonna Mae Montran (1893-1976) – Grandmother.
#3 – My mother (Living).
#1 – Me.

My known relatives.

My records show 52 known, direct, descendants of Stephen Blackhurst over ten generations. Of my 99 known ancestors, that I have identified, three have the Blackhurst surname.

Ancestry DNA  indicates that I have one person, with a DNA Match that has Blackhurst in their family tree. Unfortunately, it is only 7.2 centimorgans on one DNA Segment and is likely a 5th to 8th cousin. She does have ancestors from Lancashire, England, which is next to Yorkshire, England where my Blackhurst ancestors came from but a genealogical connection isn’t evident. If you have Blackhurst ancestry, why not check out Ancestry DNA and see if you are related to one or both of us? 

———- DISCLAIMER ———-