Tuesday, April 28, 2015

52 Ancestors II, Week 69: Rhode Island Families

click to enlarge

These ancestors are emigrants from England in the 1630s, VERY early in America's history: remember that the Pilgrims arrived in September 1620.

This is a very interesting family chart:  All immigrants who end up settling in Rhode Island: the Maxson brothers marrying the Hubbard cousins and then in two subsequent generations, Maxson 1st cousins marrying each other.

First some background: “During the 17th century, people left England to escape religious persecution. Many colonists came to America to be able to freely practice their religions. Roger Williams (b 1603) was a defender of religious liberty who arrived in Boston on February 5, 1631.

Leaving behind the religious intolerance under England's King Charles I, he and his wife journeyed across the ocean to join the "American Experiment" in Boston in 1631. At first, Williams just wanted to reform the Church of England; soon, he sought separation completely.

Many of Williams's parishioners did not agree with his idea to separate from the Church of England. He then became minister in Salem. There, his ideas also proved too radical. He went to Plymouth but again fell into disfavor. Williams insisted that land must be purchased from the Indians, rather than taken from them forcefully, in order to claim title to it. He again went to Salem and was eventually put on trial in 1635 for his views.

His sentence was banishment.

Williams then purchased land from the Narragansett Indians and established the settlement of Providence, Rhode Island in 1636.

Williams founded the colony of Rhode Island (the Providence Plantation) based upon principles of complete religious toleration, separation of church and state, and political democracy (values that the U.S. would later be founded upon). It became a refuge for people persecuted for their religious beliefs, Anabaptists, Quakers, and Jews settled in Rhode Island.

After forming the first Baptist church in America, Williams left it to seek spirituality in different ways. He stopped preaching to his friends, the Indians, when he realized that their form of worship also fell under his principle of religious freedom. He declared, "forced worship stinks in God's nostrils." (1)

Our ancestors who immigrated to America at about the same time:
  • Richard Maxson (b. 1602) immigrated to Boston 1634. A blacksmith, possibly killed by Indians at age 43.
  • Hugh Mosher (b. 1600) immigrated to Boston 1632
  • Samuel Hubbard (b 1610) immigrated 1633
  • Tacy Cooper (b 1609) immigrated before 1636
  • Joseph Clarke (b 1618) immigrated in 1637
All these families were living in Massachusetts and left to go to Rhode Island in the 1630s.

“The Portsmouth Compact was a document signed by 23 men on March 7, 1638 that established the settlement of Portsmouth, which is now a town in the state of Rhode Island. It was the first document in history that severed both political and religious ties with mother England.“ (2)

John Clarke and Thomas Clarke signed The Portsmouth Compact, but not our ancestor Joseph Clarke.  However they do seem to be related.  And on my side of the family, our ancestor is William Wilbore, b. 1660 in Rhode Island, and his probable relation is Samuel Wilbore who also signed The Portsmouth Compact.  So our families probably knew each other. :)

All these families had children born in Rhode Island:
  • John Maxson born 1639
  • Mary Mosher born 1641
  • Joseph Clarke (Jr) born 1642
And subsequently three more generations were born in Rhode Island in the 1660s, 1690s, 1720s.

by Dwight C. Brown Jr. of Bradford, Rhode Island.
"Inscription. (on the North side the following)

1680 - 1899

This Monument is a Memorial to the early Pastors of the Second Seventh-day Baptist Church in America, whose remains lie buried within the enclosing circle. They were stalwart men and sound preachers. They "fought the good fight" and "kept the faith." Upon this spot stood the house of worship from 1680 to 1852.

(on the west side the following)
Thomas Hiscox, 1686-1773.
John Burdick, 1732-1802. (ancestor?)
Joseph Maxson, 1672-1750. (direct ancestor)
Abram Coon, 1763-1813.
Matthew Stillman, 1770-1838.
Daniel Coon, 1792-1858.

(on the east side the following)
Joseph Clark, 1670-1719. (ancestor?)
John Maxson, 1638-1720. (direct ancestor)
John Maxson Jr., 1666-1747. (direct ancestor)
Thomas Clark, 1686-1767. (ancestor?)
Joshua Clark, 1717-1793. (ancestor?)

(on the south side the following)
William L. Burdick, 1864-1952. (ancestor?)
Everett T. Harris, 1904-1982.

Erected 1899 by Seventh-day Baptist Churches of Hopkinton & Westerly Rhode Island.

Location. 41° 24.043′ N, 71° 47.88′ W. Marker is in Ashaway, Rhode Island, in Washington County." (3)

(1) http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/colonial/jb_colonial_williams_1.html
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portsmouth_Compact
(3)   http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=30707

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

52 Ancestors II, Week 68: Michael Greenlee

Michael Greenlee, Sr was born about 1700 probably in Ulster, Northern Ireland.

He married twice, his first wife’s name is unknown.  They had 7 children together. We are related to their youngest Michael (Jr). She died (around 1759, perhaps in childbirth).

Michael (Sr) (with 7 young children), married a second time (before November 26, 1761), Esther Davis who was born about 1740, daughter of John Davis. They had four children, and we are also related to their youngest child Allen.

The Greenlee twin brothers wrote this biography (in 1908) about their great grandfather:

"Michael Greenlee purchased land in Kent County, Delaware as early as 1754; but the following, related by Edmund Greenlee (the barrel-maker), as told him by his father (the man with the bad back), shows that he must have settled in Delaware many years before. 'My Grandfather Greenlee came from Ireland at the age of about 14 years, had no Irish brogue on his tongue, settled in Delaware near the Maryland Line; his first wife's name unknown; had children by her; I do not remember hearing the age at which Grandfather married his first wife, but at the time of his second marriage he was 60 years of age. I do not know his second wife's given name or maiden name but she was 19 years of age when they were married. Grandfather at 60 years of age was very strong and active; is said to have taken a hog after it had been killed weighing 200 lbs. by the bristles and lifted it from the ground with one hand, and could jump up and strike his feet together twice before touching the ground. He was by occupation a farmer.'” (1)

Michael (88) died in Kent County, Delaware (will dated November 8, 1788; proved January 2, 1789);

Esther (51) died about 1796.

(1) Greenlee Genealogy, by Ralph Stebbins Greenlee and Robert Lemuel Greenlee (Edmund’s and Mary’s  twin sons), self published in 1908 in Chicago.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

52 Ancestors II, Week 67: Michael Greenlee (Jr)

Robert and Ralph Greenlee wrote this biography about their grandfather: "Michael Greenlee, (the 6th child of 11) was born April, 1759, in Kent Co., Delaware, near the Maryland line.

Michael (33) married April 19, 1792, at Georges Creek, Fayette Co., Pennsylvania, Bethiah Maxson (24), of New Jersey, who was born about 1768." (1) They had 11 children between 1793 and 1811.  Our ancestor, Edmund (the barrel-maker) was their youngest.

"Michael was one of the oldest settlers of Crawford County, Pennsylvania. The Maxson family in moving to Virginia passed through Fayette County, Pennsylvania, where Bethia remained and did not go on with the family. She was living there with Rev. Woodbridge when Michael Greenlee married her.

After his marriage he resided in Franklin County for a period of two years, then moved to Pittsburg, where he remained one year, and then, in company with his family and a small colony of settlers, came up the Allegheny River and French Creek on a flat-bottom boat or raft, which was pushed up the stream with setting poles, to Meadville, where there was a small settlement. He brought with him eighteen barrels of flour, two barrels of side pork, a lot of flax, one and one-half bushels of salt, one yoke of oxen, one cow, two two-year-old heifers, one mare, one large black walnut chest and other household goods.

There was nothing but an Indian trail through the woods from Pittsburg to Meadville at that time, and the only stopping place in the whole distance was where James and Philip Dunn had settled. Here they stopped for a rest. During their trip up the river it rained so that their beds were getting wet, and he put boards on barrels for covering for his wife and little son, Robert. On this journey the livestock was driven to the new home along this primitive trail through the forest, and on this trip Mr. Greenlee injured his back pushing the boat, from the effect of which he never recovered.

He remained one year on French Creek Flats, near Meadville, where he raised a patch of corn. When the crop was ready to harvest, being unable to walk, he took a chain and rode one of the oxen into the field, where he hitched the chain around a shock of corn (a stack or bundle of bound or unbound corn piled upright for curing or drying) and drew it to a shed, thus saving his corn, while his neighbors left theirs on the field and it was swept down the creek in a freshet (the flood of a river from heavy rain or melted snow) and was lost.

The spring following, in March, 1797, he went on horseback to Venago Township, now Cussawago Township, and secured four hundred acres of land and built a small log cabin. When he went to look for the land, a man had agreed to come out from Meadville and bring him a gun and fire tools, but disappointed him, and the consequence was that he was obliged to stay in the woods all night with his horse and dog, without fire or gun, there being four inches of snow on the ground. He made his bed beside a fallen tree, against which he stood pieces of bark for covering. His dog barked continually, thus keeping the wild animals away; otherwise it seemed to him as though he must have been killed by them, as all through the long, weary night these denizens of the forest gave distinct evidence of their presence.

In order to get supplies for their families, the men had to go through the woods on horseback along an Indian trail to Pittsburg. During his absence on one of these trips, which took several days, Mr. Greenlee's wife was very much annoyed by wolves, bears and panthers, which came alarmingly near. She took lighted pine torches and threw them at the animals, which were afraid of fire, thus keeping them away. A blanket was used to cover the entrance to the little cabin and served in lieu of a door.

That fall Mr. Greenlee hired the underbrush dug out and the large trees girdled, for which service he paid five dollars, and the ground was prepared for seed in as effective a way as possible. He bought one bushel of seed wheat, costing four dollars, and sowed it on this acre of ground, which produced thirty bushels. There was a brush fence around this acre, somewhat protecting it from wild animals, but nevertheless it was necessary to guard it both day and night until the crop was harvested. That one bushel was all the wheat he ever bought for the use of his family.

Being an invalid, as stated above, he was unable to personally do much farm work, so he took up the manufacture of reeds for weaving, and other similar work. He always kept a yoke of oxen, and changed work with his neighbors by letting them use his ox team, and thus managed to get his heavy farm work done—work his boys were unable to do because of their youth. It is said of him that he never gave a note in his life and never had a lawsuit.

A notable characteristic of the Greenlee family has been equability of temperament. Each successive generation has shown the same mildness of disposition, the same gentle and kindly nature, and the deepest sympathy and regard for all men. Sterling integrity of character, strong mentality and excellent business ability have also been typified in the various representatives of the name. The family has ever stood for the highest order of citizenship, and has rendered strong allegiance to religious, educational and all other good work.

Mr. Greenlee was a First-day Baptist and his wife a Seventh-day Baptist, and accordingly they kept both days holy. Their home was always open to the itinerant clergymen of both denominations, and was to these noble pioneer workers in the Master's vineyard a home indeed. Mrs. Greenlee, in the mean-time lost her health and did most of her work in bed, such as sewing, knitting, mending, and sometimes spinning, the last work being accomplished by having one of the children turn the wheel for her. She was also quite a poet.

Bethiah (51) died in 1819. Michael (68) died in 1827, near Mosiertown, Pennsylvania.

(1) Greenlee Genealogy, by Ralph Stebbins Greenlee and Robert Lemuel Greenlee (Edmund’s and Mary’s  twin sons), self published in 1908 in Chicago.

1810 Federal Census

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

52 Ancestors II, Week 66: The Greenlee Brothers

As a general rule, I write about ancestors only, which does not include aunts and uncles.  This week, I am making an exception:  The Greenlee brothers wrote the Greenlee Genealogy and the Stebbins Genealogy, both of which have been invaluable for our family research.  In these books, they included an auto-biography: They were very interesting twin brothers who, together, worked hard and were very successful! Their legacy continues to this day. see the information from Greenlee.com at the very end of this post!

"Robert and Ralph Greenlee were born 13 Apr 1838 in Rundell Corners, PA, (the third and fourth children of eight total). "They began at the age of ten to assist in the active duties of farm life by carrying the milk from the yard into the cheese house, in that way helping their mother with her milking. At the age of twelve each of them milked ten cows night and morning, and became very expert milkers. A year or two afterward they learned to make the cheese and butter, and were able to attend to that while their father was engaged in other duties on the farm. After their father had invented a machine for the manufacture of his cheese boxes and butter firkens, the boys helped him in that department, thus learning the cooper's trade.

Robert Lemuel was left-handed and Ralph Stebbins Greenlee, right-handed. They chopped as one man and did their other work in the same manner. They were given the best educational advantages the common schools afforded, and later attended Allegheny College at Meadville, Pennsylvania, although neither of them completed the college course.

While working for their father their mechanical skill was developed. They became acquainted with Mr. Drake, the first discoverer of oil, and furnished him with barrels. They also manufactured oil barrels for Oil Creek, but this did not prove a successful venture as the price of barrels became very low, and the flow of oil was so great that it became of little value. When they could not sell their barrels they bought oil at twenty-five cents a barrel; but the difficulties were so great in getting it from the field that they lost money on it. At that time Oil Creek was practically a wilderness, except here and there a clearing with a small farm house.

They purchased their father's patents for keg and barrel machinery, giving him their notes for six thousand dollars in payment, and went into the business of manufacturing cooperage (the making of barrels and casks). They met with so much success that they were able to meet the notes at the end of the first year." (1)

(Normally, men born at this time would have served in the Civil War, and their younger brother Michael did serve.  I can surmise that their service to the war effort was to supply the Union army with needed materials.)

"In 1862 the brothers (age 24) decided to go to Chicago and continue the manufacture of cooperage on a larger scale, having their machinery constructed in Erie, Pennsylvania. They made a contract with Samuel M. Nickerson & Company for the manufacture of barrels for the distillery which was then using one hundred and sixty barrels per day. They little expected opposition from the coopers, and were not aware of the existence of a Cooper's Union—probably the first union ever established in Chicago.

It was soon decided by the Union that it was not to their interest to allow the Greenlee machinery to run. At that time none but woodbound barrels would do for high wines, and they were not prepared with machinery for the splitting, shaving, and setting of hickory hoops, as the oil barrels which they had made in Pennsylvania were hooped with iron, for which they had the machinery. Consequently it was necessary for them to employ coopers to do that work. It was one of the rules of the Union that no one but a cooper's son should be allowed to learn the trade.

The Union decided that the only way to drive out the machinery was to finish only as many barrels as they could have made by hand, so it would cost just as much for merely hooping a barrel as it would to shave the staves and heading by hand, joint them, truss them, and finish the barrel. In this way the Greenlees would receive practically nothing for the work done by the machinery. Not only that, but the coopers would make the barrels leak if possible, either by putting hickory chips across the joints under the hoops, or by making holes in the joints from the inside.

It finally became necessary to discharge all the union coopers and hire green men from the street, whom they were able to teach to split, shave and hoop a barrel. In that way they became independent and as a result practically broke up the union, although it required a great deal of money, perseverance, and energy. They were at their place of business from five and six in the morning until eight or nine at night, in that way preparing the material for work the following day. They made a success of the cooperage business, and finally organized a company which was known as the "United States Barrel Machine Company, 'and sold out their patents.'" (1)

Ralph (27) married Elizabeth Brooks (27) (who was also a twin with sister Eleanor) on 15 Feb 1866, and Robert (28) married Elizabeth's other sister, Emily (24) (who was also a twin with brother William) (24) a year later on 11 Apr 1867.  In other words, Mrs Brooks had two sets of twins, born in 1838 and 1842, and went on to have 4 more children (single births).

Ralph and Elizabeth had 1 child: Getrude, and Robert and Emily had three children: Grace, William and Isabel.

"In 1866 they (age 28) formed a co-partnership with their father-in-law, Mr. William Brooks, and under the firm name of Greenlee Brothers & Company, entered business for the general sale of machinery and railway and machinists supplies, in addition to cooperage, which they carried on successfully for a few years. They then purchased Mr. Brooks' interest and engaged in the manufacture of special lines of wood-working machinery for the manufacture of sash, doors and blinds, and special machinery for railroad car building.

They were the first to adopt and make a success of mortising timber by the use of the hollow chisel; or, as it was called, boring a square hole. They have taken out a number of patents on machinery for use in that connection and other special wood-working machinery.

They have been constantly adding new inventions and methods until the Greenlee machines have become famous with manufacturers in wood all over the world. Immediately after the great fire in 1871, they (age 33) removed to their quarters on West Twelfth Street. In 1882, in connection with the wood-working machinery business they (age 44) engaged in the manufacture of repairs for all stoves and ranges, which has grown to such an extent that they now have patterns for the burning out pieces of over 150,000 different stoves and ranges, being the largest concern of the kind in the world. Their trade extends practically over the whole country.

The same year they built a foundry for the manufacture of castings for their wood-working machinery and stove repairs. In 1886 the firm of Greenlee Brothers & Company was incorporated, and they also incorporated the Northwestern Stove Repair Company, which employs 60 to 70 men,

and the Greenlee Foundry Company, which employs 200 men, and in this way were enabled to divide their personal property. They have since added to the manufacture of wood-working machinery, the manufacture of augur bits of every description. In 1903 (at age 65) Greenlee Brothers & Company moved their plant to Rockford, Illinois.

The factory site comprises twenty-two acres of ground, the present buildings covering about eleven acres. They manufacture wood-working machinery, particularly for ear shops, mortising, boring, sawing and tenoning machinery, wood boring tools, square augurs, etc. The buildings are mostly fire-proof and are all steel construction. They give employment to about four hundred men.

When they came to Chicago they had very little money but have never received any financial assistance. They have always been in business together, their interests being equal, and their success can be attributed to their perfect confidence in each other and their unity of action. If one is away the other acts independently, each having full power of attorney from the other, to do anything necessary with their property, both personal and real. Some years after their removal to Chicago, they bought the old homestead in Crawford County, which remains the home of the Greenlee family in Pennsylvania.

They married sisters (both of whom were twins, but not of the same pair), daughters of William Brooks who for many years was a resident of Sherbrooke, Canada, and one of the leading spirits of the conservative government of the Dominion, but later became a resident of Chicago. In 1904 they (age 66) published "The Stebbins Genealogy".  One of the main points being to make it so plain that a child could understand and easily trace his ancestry.

As will be seen by their photographs, the brothers very closely resemble each other, and they are as much alike in character, disposition and thought, as in looks. They have always taken a lively interest in the welfare of the city, and both are members of the Union League Club.

They have been extensive travelers; and, with their families, who always accompany them, have visited most of the foreign countries, making trips around the world, and going into the interior of China, Japan, and other oriental countries.

Their leading characteristics are inbred politeness, kindness and consideration for others, coupled with indomitable will-power, untiring energy, broad liberality and uncompromising honesty. Their fortunes have been fairly gained, and stand proud monuments to their sturdy manhood and genius." (1)

Robert (77) died 30 Sept 1915, and Ralph (79) died 11 Jun 1917.

Fast Forward about one hundred years... and the Greenlee company is still going strong!


In 1862, it started with the Greenlee brothers’ barrel-making machines, then woodworking tools. Today Greenlee is the most respected and trusted source for professional grade tools when it comes to installing wire and cable. From holemaking and bending to test and measurement, you can depend on Greenlee tools to outlast and outperform the competition every time."  (2)

Greenlee.com Company History:

'The "Hollow Chisel Mortiser'

Promising in an early catalog "if a machine we build is equaled by any other make, we either improve it or cease its manufacture", Ralph and Robert achieved another triumph with the invention of the "hollow chisel mortiser" in 1874. Similar in size to a table saw, this revolutionary tool combined the cutting edge of a four-sided chisel with the boring ability of a rotating bit to produce square holes in wood (a design used worldwide to this day and the inspiration behind the Greenlee "Square G" logo), enabling speedier, more accurate and more solid construction of wood products. The mortiser proved so successful that the brothers purchased a lot for the construction of a new factory (ironically, only one block from the site on DeKoven Street where Mrs O'Leary's infamous cow supposedly started the Chicago Fire).

The 'Greenlee Tie Machining Car'

After the Civil War ended, the nation continued expanding westward at an increasing rate, and the completion of the first transcontinental railroad line in 1869 further fueled this migration, helping to bring thousands of settlers west of the Mississippi. This in turn prompted the building of thousands of miles of new railroad track; from 1870 to '80, 40,000 miles of new track was laid, and in the next decade, another 65,000 new miles were added, every one of them requiring several thousand wooden ties to support the track. The Greenlees responded by developing a larger and more complex innovation than any of their previous machines, the "railroad tie machining car", a self-contained rolling tie-milling factory in a boxcar. Fed rough timber on one side, this could produce up to 6 finished ties per minute sliding out the other. (By 1911, Greenlee was building "self-powered tie machining & spike driving cars" and other extra-heavy duty tenoning, mortising and cutting machines for both railroads and railcar builders.) A manager of the Pullman Car Company wrote Greenlee Bros 'They in all respects excel, rather than fall short of, what you claim for them.' " (3)


(1) Greenlee Genealogy, by Ralph Stebbins Greenlee and Robert Lemuel Greenlee, self published in 1908 in Chicago.
(2) http://www.greenlee.com/index.aspx