#4 – Arthur Belknap

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.


52 Ancestors #4 – Closest to your Birthday

#1 Thomas Belknap

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.

52 Ancestors #1 – Fresh Start

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.


Floyd Crichton, 1901-1973

Floyd Crichton was born 27 December 1901.  In the 1920 census, he was living in Akron, Ohio.  Floyd joined the Lincoln Park Police Department in 1925 and was a motorcycle officer.  A fellow officer on the force was Preston Tucker, founder of the Tucker Corporation and the 1948 Tucker sedan.

Lincoln Park Police Department
Floyd Crichton, 2nd from right in 2nd row. Preston Tucker, 1st on left in front row. Image from Lincoln Park Historical Society.

In the 1930 census, Floyd Crichton and his first wife Gladys were living on Fort Park Boulevard in Lincoln Park, Michigan.  Gladys was 20 years old and had come to the U.S. from Canada in 1923.  Floyd was 28 years old and was a lieutenant in the police department.   They had a daughter named Delores.  Meanwhile in 1930, Preston Tucker and his wife Vera lived on Warwick Street in Lincoln Park with their 4 children and Preston’s brother William.

Sometime before 1945, Floyd and Gladys divorced.  Gladys and Delores were living in Dade County, Florida with Gladys’ second husband Hazen Dubois in a 1945 Florida census.  Delores was 14 years old at the time.  Further research about Hazen Dubois revealed that he had also lived on Fort Park Boulevard in Lincoln Park with his first wife Bertha during the 1930 census.  They had two sons, Hazen Jr. and Robert.  There was also a lodger living with them; a 20-year-old actress named Rose Adams.

Floyd became the Chief of Police of the Lincoln Park Police Department in 1936.  Presumably, that is how he met Helen Bernadine Belknap, who worked for the city of Lincoln Park.  They married on 11 December 1947.  Helen’s nieces and nephews called Floyd “Uncle Chief” or “Uncle Chiefie.”

Floyd Crichton and Helen Belknap
Floyd Crichton and Helen Belknap

In 1948, Floyd took a leave of absence from the police force to help out Preston Tucker at his auto company.  The assignment didn’t last long for the company closed in 1949.  For more information about Tucker’s trial, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preston_Tucker.

Floyd served as president of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police in 1951-52.  He retired in 1960 from the police department.

Floyd was interviewed by Charles Pearson for Pearson’s 1960 book The Indomitable Tin Goose: The True Story of Preston Tucker and His Car.  He gave insight into Preston Tucker’s time on the Lincoln Park Police Force.

About the area along the Detroit River, Floyd said, “It was a main port of entry for booze from Canada, and more money changed hands there during bootlegging days than anywhere else in the United States.  It was a tough district and being a cop was a tough job.”  He continued, “Pres and I worked together.  We rode motorcycles daytimes ten months of the year and squad cars after midnight.  Pres was a good cop.  There wasn’t a damn thing he was afraid of and he could spot a booze runner a mile off.” (Pearson 37).

Floyd also recalled an incident involving Tucker and his squad car that got Tucker into some trouble.   Tucker had cut a hole in the car’s dashboard with a Lincoln Park Department of Public Works torch so that heat could be piped in from the engine during the freezing winter months.  Floyd said, “So when some taxpayer heard about Tucker cutting a hole in a city-owned squad car with a DPW torch, he was in trouble.  They had no authority to lend the torch, and the next thing that would have happened would have been a hearing on destroying public property.”  Instead of an official hearing, Tucker was demoted (Pearson 40).

When Preston Tucker died in 1956, Floyd Crichton was one of the pallbearers at the funeral.  Tucker was buried in Michigan Memorial Cemetery in Flat Rock, Michigan.

Preston and Vera Tucker’s gravestone, Michigan Memorial Park, Flat Rock, MI

According to the Lincoln Park Preservation Alliance in their book Lincoln Park (from the Images of America series), Preston Tucker’s wife Vera signed copies of Charles Pearson’s book at the Sears store in Lincoln Park in 1960 with Tucker’s car on display.  Floyd Crichton also attended the book signing.

After retirement, Floyd purchased a liquor store in Lincoln Park in 1965.  The store was robbed five times.  During one of them, a private guard employed by the store shot and killed a robber.  During another robbery, Floyd was shot by a robber.  Paramedics did not know he was shot until one of them moved the tie he was wearing aside and saw a small spot of blood.  Floyd recovered and, in 1967, he and his wife Helen moved to Charlevoix to get away from the crime in the city.  According to the Detroit Free Press, in Charlevoix he “farmed and worked part time in a hardware store” (5C, April 24, 1973).

Floyd died of cancer on 22 April 1973 at Ann Arbor’s University Hospital.  Helen, who worked as a secretary at the Charlevoix County Road Commission, died on 6 January 1980.  She was killed when she was hit by a bus after she had been involved in a collision on the icy road and was exchanging insurance information with the other driver.  Floyd and Helen Crichton are also buried at Michigan Memorial Cemetery in Flat Rock, Michigan along with many members of Helen’s family.

Crichton gravestone
Floyd and Helen Crichton’s gravestone, Michigan Memorial Park, Flat Rock, MI

Belknap – Bost Wedding Announcement

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.

This short announcement in a Wauseon, Ohio (?) newspaper proclaimed the wedding of my great-grandparents Earl and Florence Belknap.  It took place at Earl’s maternal grandfather’s home in Wauseon on June 2, 1913.

Here is a close-up of Earl and Florence from a family photo in about 1923:

Here is a photo of them in later years:


A tragedy and a mystery

September 1925, from an unknown newspaper (maybe Lincoln Park) in Wayne County, Michigan:

Willis Wells, 17-year-old son of George Wells, a contractor of 1284 Arlington Ave., accidently killed himself in a room where E.K. Belknap had gone with the youth to look for a flashlight. 
     Young Wells opened a dresser drawer and picked up an old .22 caliber pistol which was kept there.  A little later E.K. Belknap stated, when his back was turned, he heard the report of the pistol and Willis exclaimed, “I’m shot.”
    Dr. Loeffler was called, and upon arriving he found the lad lying on the bed dead.  Soon after Coroner Burgess ordered the body turned over to Undertaker Stohl.
     The accident happened at 6:40 Monday Evening.
Mrs. Arthur Belknap, 60 years old, of Fayette, Ohio, was instantly killed and her son Orville, 24 years old, seriously injured Tuesday evening, when the automobile which Orville Belknap borrowed from Sergeant William Born, and drove to Fayette to bring his mother and wife here for the funeral, ran into the rear of a body truck, ripping off the top and turning over at Telegraph and Eureka Roads.  The driver of the truck apparently did not stop.  Belknap is in the Eloise hospital, where it is said he is suffering from a fractured skull and other injuries.
     A report of the accident indicated that Orville Belknap’s wife was with him and his mother in the car.  This has since been disproved.
     The inquest into the death of Mrs. Belknap was held at Eloise Wednesday.
     Funeral was held Thursday from the home.  Interment at Woodmere Cemetery.

Willis Wells’ unmarked grave at Woodmere Cemetery, Detroit

Some parts of this news story are familiar to me.  I had heard that my paternal grandfather had a brother who died when he was 17.  First, the story was by drowning, then it was by gunshot.  It took place in Lincoln Park, which is where 1284 Arlington Ave. is located.   E. K. Belknap could possibly/probably be my great-grandfather Earl Ervan Belknap.  I know Mrs. Arthur Belknap is his mother, Martha.  She died in a car accident in 1925 which corresponds with this news article.  I know Orville is Earl’s brother.  I had no idea the families knew each other this early.  Earl’s daughter married my grandfather Wells in 1932.

Arthur Belknap Family
Martha Belknap (1869-1925), seated at center

Mystery:  Who is George Wells?  I know of no George Wells.  My grandfather’s parents were named Robert and Nannie.  Robert Wells died in Virginia in 1919.  Nannie moved her four sons and 1 daughter to Michigan around 1924, I think.  Could this be a typo in the news article?  I sure hope so.  Otherwise I have no idea what is going on.

Willis Wells, Nannie’s son, is referred to as James W. Wells and is almost 2 years old in the 1910 Virginia census.  In 1920, he is listed as an 11-year-old Willis J. Wells.

The Willis Wells of 1284 Arlington Ave.  died on September 14, 1925 and was buried September 17, 1925 in Section 6, Block 4, Lot 121 at Woodmere Cemetery.

Think this needs a little more research…