Lydia Minor married Russell Lamphere in 1807 in Preston, Connecticut. They may possibly have had fourteen children in nearby Norwich, and she died in Norwich in 1849. Lydia is my gggg-grandmother through the following line – my grandmother Edna Darling–>Russell Darling–>Emma Louella Lamphere–>Russell Lamphere Jr.–>Lydia Minor. I last wrote about Lydia over a year ago.
I reviewed my scanty evidence of Lydia Minor previously:
- a marriage notice in the Norwich Courier, May 20, 1807: “At Preston, Miss Lydia Miner, to Mr. Russell Lamphere.“
- a death notice in the Norwich Courier, Jan 23, 1849: “At Norwich Falls, on the 18th inst., Mrs. Yydia, wife of Russell Lamphere, aged 62 years. ” [most likely a typo for Lydia]
- an entry in “History of Floyd County, Iowa” (1882) contained in a memorial to their son, Williard “son of Russell and Lydia (Miner) Lanphere, natives of Connecticut, where they died. … He is one of a family of fourteen, and is the tenth child.”
And the one piece of new evidence that has surfaced in the last year or so:
- A Norwich Bulletin article from 12 Sep 1898 entitled “Letters of the People: Old Times and Old Folks” was sent to me by a thoughtful researcher who found my blog. It gives a reminiscence of Russell and Lydia by their son, when he was elderly:
- “Russell Lamphere, father of William Lamphere of William Street, who is a genial old gentleman, fond of stories (<-note these remarks refer to William, not Russell) also had fourteen children – seven boys and seven girls – perfect method, you see, for the Lampheres were sterling Methodists. The most of the children lived to be over 75, and the eldest to be 86! William Lamphere and Captain William Sherman are the oldest residents of the Falls.”
- ” … Their mothers “when women were women, and fashion models had not been invented” as he says, did all their housework, with ten children to care for, and besides found time to meet the demands of society.”
The question: Where was Lydia born?
One major question about Lydia Minor is whether she was born around Preston, Connecticut, where she married in 1807, or perhaps in nearby Westerly Rhode Island, where her husband was born. I examined the children’s reports of her birth place, on various census records. I have identified 10 possible children for Russell and Lydia, with varying degrees of certainty. Analysis of that evidence would take several pages, but contact me if you are interested in a particular individual.
Here is what the possible children reported about their mother’s place of birth:
- Nancy, b.? Married Samuel Munro in 1833 in Plainfield, Connecticut?
- Lydia, b. 1807. Married Henry Palmer, 1830, Norwich. Died 1852.
- Lucy Ann, b. 1808. Married Burnham Cook, 1833, Norwich Falls. Died 1865.
- Eliza or Elizabeth, b. 1811. Married Joseph Thomas Fletcher, 1829, who died young. Married Ashael A Parkerson, 1847. In the 1880 census she indicated that both her parents were born in Connecticut. She died in 1896.
- Caroline, b. 1814. Married Jeremiah C Brown in Norwich, 1832. No evidence after 1850.
- Russell Jr, b. 1817. Married Hannah Andrews 1838, in Colchester, Connecticut. In the 1880 census he indicated both parents were born in Rhode Island. He died in 1898.
- William, b. 1818. Married Jane Elizabeth Hopkins 1844. In the 1880 census he indicated both parents were born in Rhode Island. In the 1900 census he indicated that both parents were born in Rhode Island. He died in 1901.
- Williard, b. 1820. Married Mary J. Hoisington in the 1850’s in Iowa. In the 1880 census he indicated his father was born in Rhode Island and his mother was born in Connecticut. Williard died in 1902. No 1900 census found.
- James D., b. 1829. Married Mary —. In the 1880 census he indicated both parents were born in Connecticut. James died in 1887.
- Louisa H., b. 1832. Married Nathan Locke Potter, died before 1876.
Reports are evenly divided between Rhode Island and Connecticut. Williard is the only one who splits the birthplace of his parents, to assert that his mother was born in Connecticut. And yet, just the fact that any of the children, all born and raised in Connecticut, would say their mother was born in Rhode Island seems significant.
Consulting standard sources
Most of the standard sources on the Minors were produced by John Augustus Miner, including Thomas Minor Descendants 1608-1981 (Trevett, Maine, 1981) and earlier versions of this genealogical work, such as The Lyon’s Whelp, 1970. The Barbour collections for the southeastern Connecticut towns have all been consulted, as well as the genealogical journals indexed on the NEHGS website, AmericanAncestors.org.
There is only one Lydia mentioned in Thomas Minor Descendants 1608-1981 who could be this Lydia Minor. Since Lydia’s brief obituary is specific about her age, we can estimate her birth at around 1787. The book mentions a Lydia born in Stonington, Connecticut, January 27, 1787 to Lodowick and Jerusha (Peabody) Minor. Here and there (but NOT in the book) one sees an indication that this Lydia married Paul B. Maine and moved to Chenango, New York, died 4 Jul 1874, and is buried in Center Cemetery, Pharsalia (former name, Stonington), New York. I have been unable to get a death record. Two siblings of that Lydia – Isaac and Lodowick – also settled in New York but not particularly near Lydia, or each other. I have not yet searched for a probate record for Lodowick, Sr., which might settle this.
And yet I have sensed all along Lydia could easily have had an undocumented birth; her own children were not registered, that I have found. Tying her to Lodowick and Jerusha is based on name and date only and as time goes on and I find no other matching names or places I feel more certain that is not her.
Finding a clue in Westerly
While searching Westerly deeds recently for Russell Lamphere’s family, I learned that Russell grew up in Westerly and had departed before 1808. Norwich, Connecticut was a growing mill town and he may have headed there for work. Clearly he could have met Lydia in either spot before their marriage in Preston (not far from Norwich), Connecticut in 1807.
I made a thorough review of Minors in James Arnold’s Vital Records of Rhode Island, volume 5. In the Westerly Marriages section, p. 46, I found something I’ve never noticed before:
- 4-253 Minor, Eliza, and William Lanphere 2d, Dec. 23, 1812.
This is not so far off from 1807, the year of Lydia’s marriage. A thorough search for Eliza’s parentage has revealed nothing so far. However, I note that Lydia named a daughter Eliza or Elizabeth in 1811.
I searched for William Lanphere 2d (noting that “2d” may not have meant then what it would mean today). The Lanphere Family Research Aid by Shirley Bucknum suggests that the William Lanphere who married Eliza Minor in 1812 was the son of Nathan4 (Nathan3, John2, George1) and that Eliza may have died before 1830, when William married (2) Achas Stillman. A DAR record (DAR set, Albany, NY B58, p144) was cited for some part of this, and apparently there are recorded births of children in Westerly.
Why this seems significant
William Lanphere’s father, Nathan Lanphere, married three times and William was the son of Nathan and his third wife, Sarah Saunders. William had many siblings. As I read through the Lanphere Family Research Aid for this family (p. 11), I was surprised to see that one of the sisters, Abigail, married Wait Clarke in 1799 (apparently recorded in Westerly). Wait Clarke had appeared at the probate hearing for Russell’s father, Daniel Lanphere.
Eliza Minor is probably the biggest clue I’ve had on the Lydia Minor mystery in two years. But she is only a clue, there is no real evidence at this point, and no combination of details to prove anything. Eliza could be a cousin or sister of Lydia, or not. I notice there are more mentions of Minors in the Westerly deeds than in the Westerly vital records, suggesting to me that Minors came across the line from Stonington, Connecticut (where the Minor population was much larger) from time to time. I suspect that the births of Lydia and Eliza were either not recorded, or were recorded in a way that is now hard to find.
Since my discovery of the identity of Russell’s father, Daniel, I have struggled to find Daniel’s exact parentage in a community that had several Daniel Lanpheres. However, if they are from the line I suspect (Russell5, Daniel 4, Daniel3, John2, George1) then Russell and William would have been second cousins.
So Russell’s second cousin married a Minor, in Rhode Island, perhaps? I think I can officially say I now have a fifth clue for Lydia.
- Explore Minor probate records in Westerly or Stonington for names that look familiar from Lydia and Eliza’s children, and could possibly be the father of Lydia, Eliza, or both
- Find the spouses of Eliza’s children, and see if Eliza’s parentage could be mentioned in genealogies for those families.
- Continue to explore the Seventh Day Baptist connections, since Wait Clarke and his wife were lifelong members of the church.
- Look for a death record for William’s sister Abigail (Lanphere) Clarke.
- Continue to explore the location of Lydia’s wedding, Preston, Connecticut.
- Look again for neighbors of Russell Lanphere’s boyhood home (now that I am close to finding the spot) through census and deed records and Russell and Lydia’s life in Norwich, Connecticut.
- Explore other sources for obscure stories, such as the Narragansett Historical Register or Rhode Island Roots.
- Continue to seek the burial spot of Lydia and Russell.
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