#13 – John Gisel

(52 Ancestors #13 – No theme)

John Gisel was born September 27, 1843 in Wilchingen, Schaffhausen, Switzerland to Leonard Gisel and Elizabetha Bachtold.  He had an older brother, John, who died in Switzerland in 1842.  His family came to the United States in about 1852.  It is believed that his mother died while on the journey over and she was buried at sea.  In the 1860 U.S. census for Franklin, Fulton County, Ohio, his father Leonard is listed with four children: George (aged 20), Anna (19), John (16), and Mary (15).  John married Margaret Rhost in about 1868.

In the 1880 U.S. census, John and Margaret were living in Franklin and had 7 children: Ella/Mary Ellen (aged 13), Martha (my great-great grandmother) (aged 10), John (8), Lydia (7), Libbie/Elizabeth (5), Samuel (3), and William (9 months).  They had a daughter, Anna, who was born in 1875 and apparently died before the 1880 census.  In 1881, they another son, Albert.

In the 1900 census, John and Margaret were still living in Franklin and had been married for 31 years.  Out of 9 children born to Margaret, 8 were still living.  By the 1910 census, John and Margaret were living on Cedar Street in Wauseon, Ohio.

On June 2, 1913, their grandson Earl Belknap (Martha’s son) married Florence Bost at their home.  From an announcement from the local paper:

The marriage of Mr. Earl E. Belknap and Miss Florence E. Bost, occurred at the home of Mr. John Gisel on Cedar Avenue Monday evening, at 4:00 o’clock, Rev. J. H. Williams, officiating.

In 1920, they were in the same place, John was 76 and Margaret was 71 and employed as a laundress.

John Gisel died November 1, 1923 of pneumonia and an inguinal hernia.  He was buried in Wauseon Union Cemetery.

Their daughter Elizabeth Bingman died April 9, 1924 of mitral regurgitation, and their daughter Martha Belknap died in an auto accident in Michigan in September 1925.  In the 1930 census, Margaret was an 83-year-old widow living alone on Cedar Street in Clinton Township, Fulton, Ohio.  She died April 20, 1939 at the age of 90 and is buried in Wauseon Union as well.

#6 – The Beltofts

(52 Ancestors #6 – So Far Away)

The mark of Bennet Beltoft from his will, 1624
The mark of Bennet Beltoft from his will, 1624 (from http://www.belnapfamily.org/ SEAX_DABW_45-1_Will_Beltoft_Bennet_1.jpg)

This week, I’m going to mention a family that is the furthest back in time that I have been able to go.  Thanks to research done by previous generations of my family and others, we’ve figured out that my grandmother’s paternal side is descended from the Beltoft family from Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, England in the 1400s.  Abraham Belknap, the son of Bennet Beltoft, is the ancestor of all the Belknap’s (or Belnap’s) living today in the U.S.  There’s even a Wikipedia article on the surname, which may help explain the change from Beltoft to Belknap.  Another great resource for Belknap/Belnap is the Belnap Family Organization.  Here’s my line: Bennet > Abraham > Samuel > Ebenezer > Obadiah > Nathaniel > Obadiah > Thomas > Arthur > Earl > Velma > Robert > Me

#4 – Arthur Belknap

(52 Ancestors #4 – Closest to your Birthday)

Arthur Belknap, with his 60th birthday cake (1929)
Arthur Belknap, with his 60th birthday cake (1929)

I was born on what would have been Arthur Belknap’s 110th birthday.  He was born May 23, 1869, probably in Fulton County, Ohio, to Thomas Belknap and Polly Ann Farr.  He was their last child.

In the 1870 U.S. census, Arthur was living in York Township, Fulton, Ohio with his parents Thomas and Polly, his half-brother Francis, and his siblings Myron, Lucelia, Lucretia, Thomas and Lucina.  He had another brother, Zera, who was living with the Stillman Biddle family in York, as a farm laborer.

In 1880, 11-year-old Arthur was living in Dover, Fulton, Ohio with his parents and his brother Myron and sister Lucina.

On March 5, 1890, Arthur married Martha Gisel in Fulton County.  Martha had a child named Minnie, who had been born in 1887.  On August 14, 1891, their son Floyd was born in Dover.  On April 9, 1895, a son Earl was born in Gorham Township.  On March 18, 1899, their daughter Belva was born.

In 1900, the family was living in Franklin Township, Fulton, Ohio.  Arthur was a farm laborer and rented his home.  On August 18, 1901, their son Orville was born in Franklin.  On August 18, 1903, their last child Kennard was born.

In 1910, the family was living in Gorham Township, and Arthur was listed as a laborer.  In 1913, Arthur’s first grandchild, Velma, was born in Wauseon, Ohio.  Velma was my grandmother.

In 1920, Arthur, Martha, Orville and Kennard were living on Gorham St. in Gorham Township.  Arthur was a laborer at a lumber company, while the boys were farm laborers.

In September 1925, Arthur’s wife, Martha died in a car accident.  See this post from March 2011 for details of her death.

Arthur Belknap at his wife's grave, 1925
Arthur Belknap at his wife’s grave, 1925

In 1930, Arthur was living alone in Fayette, Ohio, working as a laborer at odd jobs.

By 1940, Arthur was living with his daughter and her family in Nankin, Wayne County, Michigan.

In the 1947 and 1953, Lincoln Park, Michigan city directories, Arthur is listed as living with his son Earl at 617 Cleophus.

Clockwise from top left: my aunt, my grandma Velma, my great-grandpa Earl, my great-great grandpa Arthur holding my cousin who was born in February 1955.
Clockwise from top left: my aunt, my grandma Velma, my great-grandpa Earl, my great-great grandpa Arthur holding my cousin who was born in February 1955.

Arthur died August 1, 1955 in Wyandotte, Michigan. He is buried in Wauseon Cemetery in Wauseon, Ohio next to his wife.


#1 Thomas Belknap

(52 Ancestors #1 – Fresh Start)

Thomas and Polly Ann Belknap's tombstone
Thomas and Polly Ann Belknap’s tombstone

Thomas Belknap was born in 1803 to Obadiah Belknap and Abigail Locke in Lisbon, New Hampshire.  According to A Standard History of Fulton County, Ohio, “It is known that Thomas Belknap was born on a family homestead in Vermont that had come to his father…in consideration of his service in the War of the Revolution” (page 428).  (Although there is some “Tory” talk in the family; somehow the Belknaps ended up in Quebec just over the border since both Obadiah and Abigail are buried there).   I’ve also seen a story that mentions that his new step-father did not get along with the step-children, so Thomas went to live with an uncle in Pennsylvania until the age of 21. However, I’ve never found evidence Abigail remarrying after Obadiah’s death.

Thomas married Sally Dearborn in Derby, Vermont on August 1, 1824. She died in 1838. Thomas married Eunice Burns sometime between 1838 and 1848, and they had a son named Francis Marion Belknap who was born in Wisconsin on January 17, 1848.  I am assuming Eunice died in childbirth as Thomas then married Polly Ann Farr on September 18, 1848 in Lorain, Ohio.

According to A Standard History of Fulton County, Ohio, “Zera Belknap was the oldest in a family of seven children born to Thomas and Polly Ann (Farr) Belknap, and he was the only one born in Lorain county. He was not yet two years old when his parents came by wagon from Lorain to Fulton county. They encountered many difficulties crossing the black swamp enroute to the new country. They located at Delta, and there six children were born to them. They were: Myron, Lucile, Lucretia, Thomas, Lucina and Arthur. While Thomas Belknap attained to the age of eighty-five years, his wife died while she was yet a young woman. They lie buried in the Spring Hill Cemetery.  Thomas Belknap was married three times, and Zera Belknap was a son from his third marriage. There was a half brother, Francis Marion Belknap, who was from the second marriage, and he came along with the family to Fulton county. There were three children by the first marriage, but their mother died in Vermont and the father went to Wisconsin before he finally located in Lorain county. These children never came west and nothing is known of them today. In all there were eleven children born to Thomas Belknap—three different mothers.”  This helpful book also states that, “When Thomas Belknap removed from Delta he located at ”Hornetsville,” and he helped cut the timber from the site of Wauseon and work it into barrel staves. While there was white oak timber in abundance, his occupation was stave-making, the staves sent to Buffalo and the barrels made there.”

In the 1850 census, Thomas, Polly and Francis are listed as living in Russia, Lorain County, Ohio.  Polly was only 18 years old and Thomas was 46.  In the 1860 census, the family lived in Clinton, Fulton County, Ohio.  Thomas was listed as 45 and Polly as 29 (Hmm, Thomas never ages in these censuses!)  They had Francis living with them, as well as their children Zera, Myron, Alice L. (Lucile as listed above), and Lucretia.  In 1870, Thomas Belknap was 54 and Polly was 38 and the family was living in York, Fulton County, Ohio.  Francis was living with them, but Zera was not.  Also, Myron, Lucelia (Alice or Lucile as listed above), Lucretia, Thomas, Susanna (Lucina as listed above), and Arthur.  My family line comes through Thomas’ son Arthur who was born in 1869 when Thomas was 66 years old.  In 1880, the family lived in Dover, Fulton County, Ohio and Thomas was listed as 60 and Polly was listed as 49.  Myron, Lucina and Arthur were living with them.  Polly was listed as Ohio as her birthplace, while her father’s was Vermont and her mother’s was Kentucky.  I’ve never been able to find anything about her parents.  I think Polly died around 1887.  Thomas died, full of years, on April 13, 1889.  They are buried in Tedrow (Spring Hill) Cemetery.

Tombstone Tuesday – Martha Gisel Belknap, 1869-1925


This is a photo of a photo of Arthur Belknap (1869-1955) at the grave of his wife Martha Gisel Belknap (1869-1925) in Wauseon Union Cemetery in Wauseon, Ohio.  She died in a car accident that was mentioned in this previous post: A Tragedy and a Mystery.

Martha Gisel was born 21 June 1869 in Ohio.  In the 1880 Federal Census, she was living with her family in Franklin, Fulton County, Ohio.  Her parents were John Gisel (1843-1923) and Margaret Rhost (1848-1939), both were born in Switzerland.  Martha had a daughter Minnie on 31 Mar 1887 and married Arthur Belknap in Fulton County, Ohio on 5 March 1890.  They had four sons and a daughter (Floyd, Earl, Belva, Orville, and Kennard).  As mentioned in a previous post, Martha died in a car accident in Michigan on 15 September 1925.

Martha and Arthur Belknap with Minnie and Floyd, abt. 1893

Family Recipe Friday – Grandma’s Apple Pie

Edward and Velma (Belknap) Wells, 1951
Edward and Velma (Belknap) Wells, 1951

Here is my Grandma Wells’ apple pie recipe:

8-9 apples (not sliced too thin)
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 pats margarine

Mix apple slices, cinnamon and nutmeg together.  Let stand 15-20 minutes.  Pour in pie crust [I guess we’re on our own on how to make the crust!] and put pats of margarine on top.  Put slits in top crust.  Bake on 425 for 20 minutes then turn down to 350 for 40 minutes.  Make sure to put the pie on a cookie sheet, so the juices won’t spill in oven.