#28 Belknap Reunions

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).

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Week 28 (July 8-14): Reunion

#29 Polly Ann Farr

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.

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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.

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Thomas and Polly Ann’s tombstone in Tedrow Cemetery

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!

Week 29 (July 15-21): Challenging

#48 Lucina Belknap Clark

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Lucina Belknap Clark’s tombstone in Tedrow Cemetery, Fulton Co., Ohio (photo is from 2005)

My 3rd great-aunt Lucina Ellen Belknap was the next-to-last child of Thomas Belknap and Polly Ann Farr. Thomas and Polly’s last child was my great-great grandfather, Arthur Belknap (1869-1955). There were 5 other siblings: Zera (1853-1920), Myron (1855-1929), Alice Lucelia (1857-1944), Lucretia (1860-1900), and Thomas Jefferson (1861-1935). There was also a half-brother, Francis Marion (1848-1923).

Lucina was born about 1866 in Delta, Fulton County, Ohio. In 1870, she was counted with the rest of her family in York Township. She was 4 years old. In 1880, she, along with her parents and brothers Myron and Arthur were living in Dover Township. On August 13, 1884, Lucina married John Quimby Clark in Morenci, Lenawee County, Michigan. In June 1886, Lucina’s brother Thomas married John’s sister Clara in Fulton County.

Lucina and John had 9 children: Viola (b. 1885), Bessie (1887-1920), Jesse (1890-1971), Oliver (1891-1977), Lena (1894-1981), Herbert (1898-1981), Lavada (1900-1989), Ida Fern (1902-1998), and Ione (1905-1993). Lucina died in October 1907 and, in 1910, Bessie was married, Jesse was a hired man, and many of her children were living with relatives. Herbert was living with his sister Bessie. Ida was living with Lucina’s sister Alice, and Ione was living with Lucina’s brother Zera.

By 1940, John was living with his granddaughter Florence and her family in Raisin Township, Lenawee, Michigan (Florence was the daughter of Bessie). He died in Tecumseh on January 16, 1946. He and Lucina are buried in Tedrow Cemetery in Fulton County, Ohio.

John Q. Clark with some of his children in the 1940s.

Week 48 (November 26-December 2): Next to Last