Nov 25, 2011

Family Lore


Letter:

Grand Rapids, Mich
July 9 - 1964
Vern Bradley
Dear Friend
I was up to White Cloud last week saw Bernice Garfield she is having trouble by high blood pressure she said it was hard for her to write.
She said she had a letter from you wanting some information for your son about Sarah Elizabeth Pierce.
I am enclosing a sheet on her families also one on the Purdy Family. I wish your Son has time to check Thomas Purdy and family who came to America in 1836. I think he can get his information in London England.
Hope you and your family are all OK.
From Clarence J Phelps
1727 Silver Ave SE
Grand Rapids 7 Mich


My Grandmother, Gertrude M (Crain) Bradley, was the genealogist in the family and it appears as though she was researching her late Mother-in-law's  family in 1964. Kalamo was a small "close knit" community, so her Father-in-law (Vern Bradley) apparently knew where to find some cousins of his late wife, Myrtle Talbot.

Vernor James Bradley married Myrtle Arvilla Talbot on Christmas Day, 1902. Myrtle was born March 31, 1881 to Othello and Ella (Odell) Talbot in Kalamo, Eaton Co., MI.

Ella (Odell) Talbot was the daughter of Sarah Pierce Strong and Jonah L Odell.

The above letter refers to Bernice Garfield, whose father was Ella Odell's half brother, Charles M Strong. The letter writer, Clarence Phelps, was the grandson of Sarah Pierce's oldest daughter, Ruth Annette Strong Purdy.

They related the following:

Sarah Pierce, was born near Maidstone, Kent, England on May 13, 1825. Her maternal grandparents, who disapproved of their son-in-law's Irish heritage, took her when her mother died young. When Sarah was 7 years old, her father "kidnapped" her from the grandparents and brought her to America. They settled in Elmira, New York where Sarah was educated.


She married Reuben G. Strong in 1848 and they moved to Coldwater Michigan, where they remained until 1851.
  • Sarah and Reuben's oldest daughter was born Aug. 24, 1844 in Michigan so they must have been married and living there earlier than 1848. Some notes sent by Bernice Strong Garfield are typed on lined notebook paper, so that may have been a typo.
  • It looks like Reuben G Strong (born 1819) was a son of Chauncey Strong who came from Sodus, Wayne, NY to Branch Co., MI with his family in 1835. Still trying to figure out when and how Sarah got there.
"In 1851, Mr. Strong and his family started for Oregon by Overland Route with two yoke of oxen and wagons.  When they reached the Mississippi river, they were delayed with other emigrants by high water. Mr Strong left his family in Quest of work and during his absence was attacked by cholera.  His family never seeing him again.  Mrs. Strong disposed of her property .  She left the household goods to be shipped back east and the family returned to Coldwater Mich. but she never received the goods.

On Feb 8, 1852, Sarah L Strong, age 26, was married to Jonah L. O'Dell, age 34 of Ovid Twp. by Rev. Ruben Graham at Coldwater Mich.

In 1855 moved to Kalamo Eaton Twp. Mich. and purchased a farm which Mrs. O'Dell owned at time of death. Mrs. O'dell drove with her five children in a one horse rung, Mr. O'Dell preceding them."


According to an LDS pedigree file, Reuben Strong died July 18, 1851. Reuben, Sarah, 7 year old Ruth A. (called Annette,) 3 year old Charles and little Rosetta, not even a year old, must have packed up and headed west in the late spring/early summer of 1851, starting out on the Chicago Road/Sauk Trail which went right through their town. I found several diaries from families going west from Michigan, and they seemed to cross the Mississippi River at various places from Warsaw IL to Galena IL.

I imagine the Strong family meant to claim 640 acres in Oregon under the "Donation Land Act" and traffic west was low in 1851 due to the outbreak of cholera, which was the leading cause of death on the trail.

What I can't imagine is Sarah heading back alone with 2 yoke of oxen, a couple of wagons and 3 very young children...



Other things I think:
Rev. Reuben Graham was an important person to the Strong family. Reuben Strong is listed as "Reuben C Strong," "Reuben G Strong," and "Reuben J Strong." His children's death records all list him as "Reuben G Strong," with Charles' record listing him as "Graham Strong." If his name was Reuben Graham Strong, I expect the Rev. Reuben Graham may have been an uncle, possibly related to Reuben's mother, Ruth. Also, Ruth Annette Strong was living with the Rev.and his wife Deborah (who had no children) in Branch Co. when she was 16 years old while her family was living in Kalamo, Eaton Co., MI.

A Baptist Minister at the time was a Rev. E. Loomis of the Home Mission Society, who was conducting services in Branch Co. just before Rev. Graham. The Rev. Loomis could have been related to Sarah's second husband, Jonah L O'dell, son of Eli and Abigail (Loomis) O'dell.

Things to do:
Visit the Holbrook Heritage Room at the Coldwater Michigan Library !

2 comments:

Sheryl said...

I always enjoy reading the work of old-time family historians and genealogists. Research (and sharing the information with others) must have been really difficult in the days before the internet.

Pam said...

I feel like my Grandmother would have loved the Internet research, but I can imagine the satisfaction of writing and receiving letters after waiting for weeks and coming across records after searching through hundreds. If only I had some diaries!