This week’s theme was “Easy.” But I chose to go a different way with it: I search my tree for people with “E-Z” in their names. I came up with Ezekiel Worthen (1636-1716), my 8th great-grandfather. He was the great-grandfather of Martha Worthen (1745-1826), who married Thomas Locke (1751-1816). They had a daughter Abigail (1778-1861) that married Obadiah Belknap (1774-1834). Obadiah and Abigail were the grandparents of my great-great grandfather Arthur Belknap (1869-1955).
My grandmother’s family, the Belknaps, used to hold a family reunion every year in Ohio. At first, it was for the descendants of the Belknaps and the Clarks (the descendants of my great-great grandfather Arthur Belknap, and those of his sister Lucina and her husband John Q. Clark). My grandmother (and her mother before her) used to keep track of names, birth and death dates in booklets she handed out to every family represented at the reunion.
In the Sept. 11, 1942 issue of the Adrian (MI) Daily Telegram, there is a short article titled “Clark-Belknap Families,” which states:
The 15th annual reunion of the Clark-Belknap families was held Sept. 6 at The Island in Adrian with 68 members present from Montpelier, Ohio, Bay City, Detroit, Royal Oak, Adrian, Ogden Center, Ypsilanti, Belleville, and Clayton. Officers were elected as follows: president, John Q. Clark; secretary, Mrs. Earl Belknap; treasurer, Mrs. Jesse Clark. The 1943 reunion will be held at the same place.
In the 1985 booklet, she wrote, “Our reunions have been going on since 1950, your Historian has attended reunions since they first were organized in 1925, under the title of ‘Belknap-Clark Reunions’ which were disbanded in 1955, after the death of Arthur Belknap.” I think she was saying the Belknap-only reunions started in 1950.
In the 1974 booklet, she wrote, “In the year of 1949, Arthur F. Belknap decided a record of his ancestry would be nice to have to hand down to his descendants. He contacted a lawyer friend of his and eventually the following record of ancestry was give to him.” Arthur was in contact with Glen W. Evans of Lansing (a genealogist, not sure if he is the lawyer friend mentioned above), who wrote a book titled “The Belknap Family” in 1949. In a letter to Arthur dated October 5, 1949, Mr. Evans listed Arthur’s ancestry from Abraham Belknap to his father Thomas Belknap. He ended the letter by saying, “Keep well and take care of yourself and I will try to make the Belknap Reunion next year at Adrian, Mich. where I may be able to tell you more about this branch of the Belknap Family.”
In 1980, the reunion celebrated it’s 30th anniversary. Here are my grandmother (back row, second from left), her one brother, and her seven surviving sisters (one had died in 1977).
The thing about family history that is challenging is the overwhelming focus on the male side of things – surnames, lines of descent, etc. This means (at least for me) that I know very little about even some pretty recent female ancestors.
One example is Polly Ann Farr, my third great-grandmother. She was the 3rd wife of Thomas Belknap (born in 1803), and the mother of Arthur Belknap. She was born in about 1832. The earliest record I have found for her is an application for a marriage license, dated September 18, 1848 to Thomas Belknap in Lorain County, Ohio. I’m not sure if this means they were married on that date or not. The application states that “she is of eighteen years.” I don’t think that’s true though.
The next record is the 1850 U.S. Federal Census for Russia Township in Lorain County. Polly Ann was listed as age 18 and birthplace of Ohio. Thomas’ 11-year-old son Francis is also living with them. In 1860, the family was living in Clinton, Fulton County, Ohio. Polly was listed as 29 and born in Ohio. They had 4 children in addition to Francis by 1860. In 1870, they were living in York Township, Fulton, Ohio and Polly was listed as 38. Now they had 6 children in addition to Francis. In 1880, the last census she is found in, the family was living in Dover Township, Fulton, Ohio. She was listed as 49, born in Ohio. Polly’s father was listed as born in Vermont, while her mother was born in Kentucky. Only three of their children were living with them in 1880.
After all this, she ended up dying at the age of 52 years 3 months in 1887 (according to her pretty unreadable tombstone – I know: the dates don’t add up!), before her husband Thomas, who died in 1889 at the age of 85!
Through DNA, I think Polly Ann’s father may have been Kimball Farr, but I have to do a lot more research to prove it!
I’m not so sure about this relative’s legendary status, but he is somewhat infamous. William Worth Belknap is my 6th cousin 4x removed. We are both descended from Abraham Belknap, my 9th great-grandfather. My Belknap line comes from Abraham’s son Samuel, while William’s Belknap line comes from Abraham’s son Joseph.
William was born in New York in 1829 and graduated from Princeton University in 1848. He moved to Keokuk, Iowa and joined the Democratic party. He was elected to office and served in the Iowa House of Representatives from 1857 to 1858. He joined the Union army in 1861 and was commissioned as a major, recruiting the 15th Iowa Volunteer Infantry. He served at Shiloh, Corinth, Vicksburg, and Atlanta. By the end of the war, he was made a Brevet Major General. After serving as the Iowa Collector of Internal Revenue, having been appointed by President Andrew Johnson (and during which time he became a Republican), William was appointed Secretary of War by President Grant in 1869.
Due to the Trader Post Scandal and all that went along with it (including involvement by 2 of his wives), William resigned as Secretary of War on March 2, 1876, but was still impeached by the House on March 3. He was acquitted by the Senate on May 29, 1876.
William moved back to Iowa and practiced law. He maintained an office and a residence in Washington, D.C. He died there in October 1890. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
One of the good things William can be remembered for is purchasing thousands of negatives from the Civil War photographer Mathew Brady when he was going bankrupt in the early 1870s. According to the National Archives, where the photos are stored, “After the Civil War, business for Brady’s studios gradually declined, until in July 1874 Secretary of War William Belknap purchased part of Brady’s collection of negatives (ca. 2,250 plates) at public auction for $2,500 because of Brady’s bankruptcy. In April 1875, the War Department purchased 3,735 plates directly from Brady under express Congressional authorization… .”
Lots more information about William Worth Belknap can be found in his Wikipedia article.
For this week’s “At the Cemetery” prompt, I’m going to take a look at Tedrow Cemetery in Dover Township, Fulton County, Ohio. A lot of Belknap’s are buried there, including Thomas Belknap, our ancestor that originally left New England and came to Ohio to continue our branch of the Belknap tree.
Tedrow Cemetery is located on the north side of County Road J, just east of the village of Tedrow. The cemetery has also been known as Spring Hill Cemetery and Eldredge Cemetery.
Family members buried here include:
Thomas Belknap (1803-1889)
Polly Ann Farr Belknap (1837-1887), Thomas’ 3rd wife
Zera Belknap (1853-1920), Thomas and Polly’s oldest son
Mary Jane Kessler Belknap (1854-1928), Zera’s wife
Frederick Belknap (1889-1920) – Zera and Mary’s son
My grandmother Velma’s brother Arthur was a Master Sergeant in the Air Force, and served during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. He was born January 8, 1923, the only son out of the 10 children of Earl and Florence Belknap.
I tried to trace his career through records and newspaper articles. Arthur first enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on May 28, 1942. He served in the 13th Air Force, 307th Bomb Group, 370th Bomb Squadron. He was an assistant aerial engineer on the B-24 “Eager Beaver” at Guadalcanal in 1943. The following images are from the 307th Bomb Group documents on Fold3.
I’m not sure what happened next, maybe he was discharged, but on September 11, 1945, Arthur registered for the selective service in Lincoln Park, Wayne, Michigan. He was listed as unemployed.
On August 22, 1946, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force.On July 3, 1947, he married Eva Reitzi in Manchester, New Hampshire and his occupation was listed as U.S. Soldier. I’m thinking he must have been stationed at Grenier Air Force Base in Manchester. He and Eva divorced on October 27, 1949 in Wayne County, Michigan. Arthur next married Daisy Burpee, who was from Manchester. They married on January 5, 1950. In 1953, Daisy was listed as a cementer in the Manchester City Directory. Around this time, Art may have been stationed in Germany. Eventually, Daisy must have joined him, because on December 28, 1955, they adopted 2-year-old girl in Bitburg, Germany that they named after one of Arthur’s sisters. On September 23, 1956, the three of them returned to the U.S. via military air transport, landing at McGuire AFB in New Jersey.
After this, he was stationed at Laughlin AFB in Texas. This is where they were living when their daughter was naturalized on March 17, 1959. A newspaper article in the Del Rio News Herald of May 31, 1959 discussed the opening of the Capehart housing project on the base. Arthur’s family was among the first five families to move in. According to Val Verde County Historical Commission, these were the first on-base quarters available to Laughlin personnel.
After this, I don’t really have any information about Arthur’s career other than his military release date was December 31, 1964. Below is a picture taken at the 1980 Belknap Reunion of Art, surrounded by his surviving sisters.
He died on September 7, 1985 in Tawas City, Michigan and is buried in Fort Custer National Cemetery in Augusta, Michigan. His wife Daisy died in 2018 at the age of 95.
Myron Belknap was the brother of my great-great grandfather Arthur Belknap. Myron was born on February 2, 1855 in Ohio to Thomas Belknap and Polly Ann Farr. He had a half-brother Francis (born 1848), brothers Zera (born 1853), Thomas (born 1861), and Arthur (born 1869), and sisters Alice (born 1857), Lucretia (born 1860), and Lucina (born 1866).
On June 24, 1860, he was enumerated with his family in Clinton, Fulton County, Ohio. He was 5 years old. On June 4, 1870, the family was living in York, Fulton, Ohio. Myron was 14 years old, did not go to school, and could not write. In this census, my great-great grandfather Arthur was 1 year old. On June 18, 1880, Myron was still living at home in Dover Township, Fulton, Ohio with his parents and siblings Lucina and Arthur. He could not read or write and was a laborer.
By 1900, both Thomas and Polly had died. I think Myron took over the farm in Dover Township. His sister Alice and her husband David Shaffer lived nearby with their son Ernest. On April 15, 1910, Myron was still living alone on the farm in Dover Township and was 55 years old. In January 1920, at 65, Myron was still farming in Dover. His farm was described as a truck farm, which is “a farm that produces vegetables for the market.”
Myron Belknap died August 17, 1929 in Dover Township of a cerebral hemorrage. The informant on the death certificate was his nephew Ernest Shaffer. He was buried in Tedrow Cemetery in Tedrow, Fulton County, Ohio with many of his relatives, including his parents, his brother Zera, and his sister Lucina.
This week I wanted to talk about the first-born child of my great-great grandmother Martha Gisel Belknap. Her name was Minnie Gisel. She was born March 31, 1887 when Martha was just 17 years old. On Minnie’s first marriage license her father is listed as “not known” and her surname is her mother’s. I’m afraid to know what this could mean. I hope Martha just had a teenage dalliance when she was 16 and maybe Minnie didn’t know his name when she went to fill out her marriage license.
Minnie was adopted, formally or informally, by my great-great grandfather Arthur Belknap when he and Martha married on March 5, 1890. Minnie married Ernest J. Crume on May 23, 1903 in Fulton County, Ohio when she was 16. Their son Glen was born August 31, 1903. Their daughter Irma was born June 22, 1905.
In 1910, the family was living in Lima, Ohio where Ernest was a carpenter. In 1912 and 1913, Ernest was a pattern maker rooming at 132 11th Street in Toledo, Ohio. In the 1913 Toledo Directory, Minnie was listed as a waiter. In 1916-1918, they were living at 119 12th St. in Toledo. In 1919, they were living at 2034 Vermont in Toledo. On May 22, 1919, their son Glen died at the age of 15 in Fulton County. He was buried in Wauseon Union Cemetery. In the 1920 census, the family was living on Cemetery Street in Fayette Village, Gorham Township, Fulton County.
Unfortunately on December 29, 1921, Minnie also lost her husband Ernest. His obituary in the Toledo Blade in January 1922 stated:
Ernest J. Crume, 39, of 1416 Pinewood in Toledo, Lucas Co., Ohio, died at home from Nephritis and Erysipelas. He was employed at Overland Auto, and worked as a Pattern Maker for automobiles. He is the son of Henry and Elizabeth (Walters) Crume. Mr Crume is survived by his wife Minnie, who was the one who reported his death.
On April 28, 1923 in Henry County, Ohio, Minnie married again. Her new husband was named Lee Counselman. He had three previous wives and would have one more after Minnie’s death. Sadly, Minnie died at the age of 37 on February 24, 1925 in Gorham, Ohio of peritonitis. She is buried in Wauseon Union Cemetery.