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  ————–

Arthur Durwood Brown (1869-1928)

Brown Line
By – Don Taylor

52 Ancestors - Week 41
No Story Too Small

Sometimes you have an ancestor for whom you know there are a lot more stories about them. Arthur Durwood Brown was such a man. There are several of Arthur’s grandchildren still alive. I hope that some of them contact me with additional stories and information about Arthur and his life. He was a remarkable man, a pioneer who settled in some of the most isolated places in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Ancestor Sketch – Arthur Durwood Brown (1869-1928)

Arthur Durwood Brown was born on 5 December 1869 in Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan. He was the second child of eleven children born to Henry and Marion Sanford Brown. There are many conflicting records regarding Arthur’s birth year. The 1920 Census indicates he was 56 years old and thus born in 1863. On the other end of the spectrum, the 1900 Census says he was born in December of 1870.[1] His death certificate and his grave marker both indicate he was born in 1868. I am quite certain that he was born in December of 1869 because of the 1870 Census that clearly indicates that he was seven months old when the census was taken on 2 August of 1870.[2]

Photo Crop of Arthur Durwood Brown
Arthur Durwood Brown

He grew up in Saline, which is a small community about ten miles south of Ann Arbor. It was on the Detroit, Hillsdale, & Indiana Railroad line that came to Saline in 1970. About 1883, when Arthur was 14 years old, the entire family migrated west to Jamestown, North Dakota. Arthur’s youngest brother, Edward, was born in North Dakota in January 1884.[3]

Jamestown was an up and coming new town. It was founded in 1872 and incorporated as a city in 1883.[4] It is not clear to me how or where he and Mary Elizabeth Manning met nor where they were married, but all records indicate they married on 19 Oct 1892. Arthur would have been 22 years old and Mary just 16.

Photo of Arthur Durwood Brown in a hat.
Arthur Durwood Brown

Either before he moved to Minnesota or shortly after the marriage they moved to Minnesota. In either event, they established residence in Sylvan Township, Cass County, Minnesota and had their first child, Clyde Leroy, in February 1884. By June 1896, they had moved back to North Dakota where Victoria was born. Moreover, by 1897, when Clarence was born, they returned to Minnesota. The 1900 Census reports that the young couple lost a child[5]. Based upon the four-year gap in children, the child probably was born and died between 1899 and 1900 in Minnesota. We do not know the child’s name or sex.

Based upon the birthplaces of the children, the family seemed to move back and forth between North Dakota and Minnesota many times.

Name
Year
Location
Clyde
1894
Minnesota
Victoria
1896
North Dakota
Clarence
1897
Minnesota
Cora
1901
Minnesota
Clifford/Richard
1903
North Dakota
Edward
1908
North Dakota
Arthur
1909
North Dakota
Charles
1914
North Dakota
Delores
1917
Minnesota
Nettie
1921
Minnesota
Children whose birthplace was unknown were omitted.

Clifford, my grandfather, was born in 1903 in Kidder County, North Dakota. Martin was born sometime between 1904 and 1906 and Dorothy was born between 1905 and 1907. Sadly, Arthur’s two youngest children at that time, Martin and Dorothy, died from measles sometime before 1910.

In 1909, Arthur received a Land Patent for 120 acres in Merkel, Kidder County, North Dakota. It was for the N1/2-NW1/4 and the SW1/4-NW1/4 – Section 34, Township 144 North Range 72. It is interesting to note that Arthur’s brother Edward married Dertha Merkel. Today, Merkel township has a population of 39 people scattered over nearly 60 square miles of land.[6]

In 1917, he returned to Minnesota where Arthur received a land patent for 160 acres in Township 138 N, Range 029W, Section 7, NE1/4-Nw1/4, N1/2-NE1/4, SE1/4-NE1/4. (Modern GPS 46.7911918, -94.4073918 is NW Corner of L shaped property.) Today this is a very rural area of Backus in Cass County.

Arthur’s two oldest boys served in World War 1. Clyde went into the Army, went to France, where he met his wife Yvonne and returned from the Great War with his new bride. Clarence went into the Navy and served aboard the USS Shawmut, a mine layer that operated in the North Sea during much of World War I.[7] The 47-year-old Arthur didn’t serve in The Great War staying in Minnesota; his daughter, Delores was born in 1917. His last child, Nettie, was born in 1921[8] a year after his first grandchild, Marie (Clyde’s daughter), was born.[9]

Marker - Arthur Durwood Brown
Marker:  ARTHUR D. BROWN 1868 FATHER 1928 (Photo by Mark Matson)

Arthur died on 27 August 1928, at the Walker Hospital, Walker, Cass Co., Minnesota of carcinoma of the liver.[10] He was 58 years old. He was buried at Gull River Cemetery, in Pillager, Cass County, Minnesota.[11]

On FamilySearch.Org, Arthur is person #934W-2TJ.

Further Actions:

  • Coordinate with relatives what I have for accuracy.
  • Find out if there are any stories regarding how and where Arthur and Mary met.

List of Greats

Arthur Durwood Brown
Henry Brown
Benjamin Brown

– – – – – – – – – – – – – Disclaimer – – – – – – – – – – – –

Bus

===============

Footnotes

[1] 1900 Census, Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, 1900; Census Place: Township 136, Crow Wing, Minnesota; Roll: 761; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0069; FHL microfilm: 1240761.

[2] 1870 Census, Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, 1870; Census Place: Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan; Roll: M593_708; Page: 316A; Image: 86; Family History Library Film: 552207. http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=1870usfedcen&h=27532996&indiv=try.

[3] 1885 Census – Dakota Territory, NDSU Archives, Page 44-018. Brown, W. H., et al. http://library.ndsu.edu/db/census/family?ed=44-018-10.

[4] Wikipedia — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamestown,_North_Dakota

[5] 1900 Census, Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, 1900; Census Place: Township 136, Crow Wing, Minnesota; Roll: 761; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0069; FHL microfilm: 1240761.

[6] City-Data.Com — http://www.city-data.com/township/Merkel-Kidder-ND.html

[7] Wikipedia — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Oglala_(CM-4)

[8] E-Mail from Les Crider – 2001-01-13, Art & Mary Brown & Children & parents info.

[9] Find a Grave, digital images (http://www.findagrave.com), Marie F Brown – Memorial 79865796.

[10] Minnesota, Division of Vital Statistics, Certificate of Death, Arthur D Brown.; Minnesota Historical Society.

[11] Find a Grave, digital images (http://www.findagrave.com), Arthur D Brown – Memorial # 87334615.