Archive for the ‘Lamphere’ Category

In the Land of Cotton

A while back, I visited the Linn Henley Research Library (of the Birmingham, Alabama Public Library) for the second time.   My first visit was several years previous, and I found some things I didn’t notice the first time.  Readers may know my great-great grandmother Emma Luella Lamphere was born in Tuscaloosa around 1854, making me anxious to make use of a stay in Birmingham to learn more.

The main reference room at the Linn Henley Research Library.

The main reference room at the Linn Henley Research Library, Birmingham, Alabama.

I think the experience of visiting a repository more than once is an important one.  In this case, it had been three years between visits.  In those years I have learned more about Russell and Hannah (Andrews) Lamphere including the location of their graves, further information about some of their children, Russell’s future business activities after he left Alabama, and my hard-won determination of Hannah’s Andrews Rhode Island-based family.

What I really want to know

It’s Russell’s business dealings in Tuscaloosa that interest me most.  It’s the earliest family story that exists in my mother’s family – that he went down south, started a business, and lost it in the Civil War.

Here is the evidence I have for Russell’s career:

Early years in Norwich, Conn., as a machinist/cotton mill overseer:

  • Russell’s father left Westerly, Rhode Island by 1805 and worked in some of the early textile mills of Plainfield and Norwich, Connecticut, so Russell, born in 1817, grew up in the mill neighborhoods of Yantic Falls, Norwich.  Russell married in 1838 and appeared in the 1840 census with his wife, new son, and 3 extra adults around their age.  Clearly, he was earning a living.
  • 13 Aug 1845 – Russell and his father together gave a mortgage of $200 for property and half a house to (Russell’s brother in law) Henry Palmer in Greeneville, Conn.
  • 9 June 1847 – Russell Lamphere 2nd purchased for $545 part of the homestead of John J. Denison “a lunatic,” “on the north side of the highway leading from the Methodist Chapel to the Paper Mill Bridge” as the highest bidder at a public auction. Also on this date contracted a mortgage on the property for $400.
  • 16 Sep 1847 – the birth record in Greeneville for Russell’s daughter Caroline M. states that Russell was “overseer in cotton mill.”
  • 1850 census (Norwich, Conn.) – Russell is listed as a “Machinist” with property worth $700.  John Denison’s household is just prior to his on the list.
  • 15 May 1851  – Russell Jr “of Montville” quitclaims for $100 his rights to the property  “at the North side of the highway leading from the Methodist Chapel to the Paper Mill Bridge, at Norwich Falls” to John Eggleston.  Quitclaim means he gives up all rights to the land, whatever those rights or the value of those rights may have been.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama years of building and losing a business, and the Civil War

  • 1855 – Russell appears in the Alabama State Census in Tuscaloosa index (FamilySearch.org) as “Russell Lampkin.”
  • 6 Aug 1859 – An ad appeared for a new business (The Independent Monitor, Tuskaloosa, Ala., August 6, 1859.  Vol XXIII, No. 17, p.2):
New Firm - Murrell & Lamphere, The Independent Monitor, August 6, 1859

New Firm – Murrell & Lamphere, The Independent Monitor, August 6, 1859

  • 1860 – Russell was in the federal census in Tuscaloosa, Alabama with his family.  His unreadable occupation appears as this:
The indecipherable occupation of Russell Lamphere in the 1860 census.

The indecipherable occupation of Russell Lamphere in the 1860 census.

  • 1 Feb 1861 – An ad appeared announcing the dissolution of the business due to the death of partner Wm B Murrell (Independent Monitor, The City of Tuscaloosa, Ala. February 1, 1861, Vol XXIV, No. 42, p. 2):
The Dissolution of the Lamphere and Murrell partnership, caused by the death of Wm. B Murrell. Independent Monitor, Feb 1, 1861, p. 2

The Dissolution of the Lamphere and Murrell partnership. Independent Monitor, Feb 1, 1861, p. 2

  • 28 Aug 1861 – An ad appeared for a tin shop (The Observer and Flag of Alabama, The City of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Volume 15, No. 35, p1):
Tin Shop ad, The Observer, Aug 28, 1861

Tin Shop ad, The Observer, Aug 28, 1861

  • 1866 – Alabama state census White Population – Russell is head of a household of 9 in Tuscaloosa.
  • 1870 – Russell and daughter Emma (my gg-grandmother) were enumerated in Meridian, Mississippi, and he was a “machinist.”

Later career in Rhode Island as a mill overseer

  • 1875 – Rhode Island state census, in Johnston, lists Russell and family. His occupation was “Manufr. of Cotton Goods.”
  • 1878 – Providence city directory: “Lanphere, Russell, overseer, Oriental Mills”
  • Mar 17, 1879 – married Sarah Rawson, his occupation listed as “Overseer in Cotton Mill”
  • 1879 – 1885 – Connecticut Congressman John Turner Wait submits, three times, a bill for the relief of Russell Lamphere (Session 46-2 – H.R. 5889; Session 47-1 – H.R. 3223; Session 49-1 – H.R. 3182).  Any backup papers have not yet been found.
A Bill for the Relief of Russell Lamphere, filed in 1879.

A Bill for the Relief of Russell Lamphere, filed in 1879.  $50,000.  I almost fell off my chair at the Boston Public Library when I saw that.

  • 1880 – federal census in Providence, R.I., “Works in Cotton Mill.”
  • 1883 – overseer, Oriental Mills
  • 1890s through death in 1898 – mostly boarding with his children

A summary of his career

  1. Skilled with metalworking and machinery, Russell took responsible work in cotton mills when he needed a job.  My guess is that the title “overseer” was more about overseeing the machines, rather than the people, although it could have included both.
  2. Reading between the lines, and hinted by the Relief bills, I believe Russell tried to open his own cotton mill three times:
    1. 1847, at Norwich Falls, on property near the other mills that he purchased from John J Denison, which was very close to other mills. If not, he certainly was making his plans for the Tuscaloosa move, and, possibly, working with a partner to plan the move south.
    2. 1855 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I suspect the south’s growing desire by 1850 to begin processing its own cotton, and not relying on northern mills, drew Russell to Alabama some way, somehow.  I suspect this business, whatever it was, was already dissolved by 1859 when the “new firm” of metalworkers Murrell & Lamphere opened.
    3. 1875 in Johnston, Rhode Island.  This is reasonably certain because it is listed in the R.I. 1875 census.
  3. The family legend, and the size of the H.R. Relief bills, suggest that his business interests were larger than the tin shop business described in the surviving ads.

And this is where things stood as I approached the Birmingham library for the second time.

The records in Birmingham

On my first visit, I stuck with the many volumes of vital and military records that I would never have access to in New England.  Nothing much turned up back then except some compiled military listings that seemed to show that my gg-grandmother Emma Lamphere’s two brothers, Charles C. and William, served in the confederate army. A quick review turned up nothing new.

Being more experienced now, I had several ideas about how to get smaller details that might help me.


I explored the map case.  The first discovery was a map of early roads and waterways in Alabama.  Back in the book section, I also found a map of an inland journey down the Ohio River to northern Alabama taken by Juliet Bestor Coleman, a “Connecticut Yankee in Early Alabama” (Mary Morgan Ward Glass, ed., National Society for Colonial Dames in America in the State of Alabama, p. 17).  These may help me determine, someday, how my ancestors may have traveled to Tuscaloosa.

I managed to find a Sanborn map of Tuscaloosa from 1884 using web access at the library.  Before this trip, I had reviewed the historical materials I had on Tuscaloosa, in particular, The Federal Invasion of Tuscaloosa, 1865 by Thomas P. Clinton and others (Northport, Ala: American Southern, 1965).  I knew that important buildings in Tuscaloosa were burned by federal soldiers in April, 1865 in the waning days of the Civil War, including the University of Alabama and its library, also local factories, warehouses, and munitions.  So a map from 1884 may or may not reflect the Tuscaloosa of the 1850s-60s.  But I examined it closely.

Sanford map of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1884, showing one cotton mill.

Sanborn map of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1884, showing one cotton mill.

Nothing like a visual image to bring a story into focus.  There was one cotton factory in the town of Tuscaloosa in 1884.  One.  Boy, does that clarify the search a bit.  Even if, prior to the war, there were several, what I realized was that this was not a booming metropolis with dozens of cottons mills.  I learned from the Clinton essay that the cotton mill in 1865 was called “Black Warrior” (you can see on the map it borders the Black Warrior River).  I learned on this web page, Tuscaloosa Area Visual Museum, that Black Warrior was founded in 1846.  I checked several resources at the library but could not learn very much about the Black Warrior factory; I learned the names of the series of owners, and traced some biographical info on those folks, with no obvious connections to my Connecticut family.


To prepare for my trip I re-read the various sources of Tuscaloosa history I had found during my last trip, and a couple of books I bought since.  At the library, I examined each history book, probably much more closely than I did on my previous trip when I was still mostly interested in finding my family’s name – a practice that I have come to realize causes you to not think and reason enough, although of course it would always be lovely to find our ancestors in those index pages.

“Hard time of the severest nature prevailed in Tuscaloosa in the last days and directly after the war. Any money available was worthless Confederate currency or city change bills, equally worthless. Acorns were frequently eaten for food. … Population fell to a new low ebb in 1870 with only 1,650 residents.”  (– A History of Tuscaloosa, Alabama 1816-1949 by Ben A. Green, ed. W. Stanley Hoole and Addie S. Hoole, University, Alabama: Confederate Publishing Co, 1980).

I’ve been curious about why my family left Tuscaloosa by 1870 and briefly stayed in Meridian, Mississippi, but I think that snippet is giving me a pretty good idea of why.  If the 1870 census is right, the wife and older children were not with Russell … perhaps now I can understand why they may have been forced to live separately, perhaps just to survive.


I also learned, from a microfilm copy of the 1855 state census, that Russell Lamphere headed the following household in 1855 (Department of Archives and History, Montgomery. Alabama State Census, 1855: Tuscaloosa County, p. 75, entry for Russell Lamphere):

  • White males under 21:       2
  • White males over 21:          2
  • White females under 21:    2
  • White females over 21:       2
  • Slaves:                                    1
  • Total inhabitants:                 9

Previously, I had only seen a brief listing of his name from this census. For a family that had just arrived from Connecticut a couple of years prior, it seemed astonishing to me that a slave was counted in the household. There is no way to know if the enslaved person was male or female. A perusal of the census shows a very large enslaved population in Tuscaloosa, and the next household on the page was occupied by Robert Jemison Jr. with 162 slaves.  Were the Lampheres renting on his property?  A check of Tuscaloosa deeds that I did at the Family History Library in 2015 shows no property owned by Russell.  I’m troubled that Russell and Hannah owned another human being, although possibly, they were paying for the service of a slave owned by others.  I’ve always thought of Russell as not so much a dreamer, although he had big dreams, but an ambitious schemer. One assumes he acclimated himself quickly to southern life.

Checking the “7th Floor Records Project” of the Tuscaloosa Genealogy Society for local records which are gradually being digitized (yay for those folks, what an outstanding job) and its compiled index, I found two entries for “Russell Landfier” in the Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court Subpoena Docket Book 10, 1854-1859, dated 19 Sep 1856 and 19 Dec 1856; both were subpoenas issued for cases involving Robert Jemison Jr.  I wonder what else I could ever learn about the case involved and Russell’s testimony, if any.

“James Goodrum vs Robert Jemison Jr.”  “139”  “4th” – not sure what those indicate.  Looks like witnesses for the defendant are James Little, Reuben Searcy, and Russell Landfier.  With thanks to the 7th Floor Records Project.

Robert Jemison Jr.

I got curious about Robert Jemison Jr (see a photo and flattering biography here) and learned that he was a local politician and business leader.  He was involved in many business ventures and, among other things, owned plantations that produced a great deal of cotton.  Could he be the person that enticed Russell Lamphere to move south and help start a cotton mill?

Mr. Jemison’s papers are housed at the University of Alabama.  I was curious if he had any correspondence with Russell and did a search.

3 letters

I found, in the University of Alabama digital archives, three items that relate to Russell Lamphere.  One was, amazingly, an 1867 letter written by Russell Lamphere.  I’m not sure of my rights to reproduce that here, so I leave the link.  Here is a transcription:

DeSoto Miss July 12/67

Hargrove & Fitts


your letter of the 2d is at hand and its contents noticed in relation to that business I left with you.  I will be perfectly satisfied with anything you think best about the Accounts.  I think they are all togeather however I will write to my wife to send the Book to you just put the thing through and I will and I will pay the bill. I do not know when I can come but if it is nessary you can drop me a line.

Yours Very Respectfully

R Lanphere

(on reverse) R. Lamphere

July 12th 1867

I also found a letter written by Mr. Jemison to Russell Lamphere.  It contained intriguing suggestions of business activities.  Surprisingly, this was from 1860 when Russell was in his Murrell & Lanphere “guttering/piping/repairing” years (see above) … any cotton mill seemed to have been left behind.  I’m confused by this; Russell didn’t have a son named Russell, and indeed the very name Lamphere seems virtually unique in Alabama in this period – there was, presumably, only one Russell Lamphere. Would he be running the cotton mill and the tin shop at the same time? Here is a transcription:

Tuskaloosa 7 January 1860

Mr. R. Landphere

D Sir

Messrs Hines and [blot] applies to me for the use of the two small lathes belonging to the Cotton Mill.  If yourself & Mr. McLester shall think you can accommodate them without prejudice to the Company’s interest I have no objection to its being done.

Very Respectfully

R. Jemison Jun

[illegible] M. Co.

Robert Jemison Jr and “Mr. McLester” ( Robert McLester?) do not immediately bring up many ties to cotton mills, but they were wealthy Tuscaloosa businessmen who could possibly have partnered with Russell Lamphere if they aspired to start a cotton mill.  I now have wonderful new clues (albeit confusing and conflicting ones) about Russell’s ties in Tuscaloosa and Mississippi.

And lastly, I found a 1980 inquiry from a descendant of Russell Lamphere’s son, Charles, that gave me some additional evidence that Charles stayed behind in Tuscaloosa and joined the Confederate Army.  More on that another time.

Lessons learned

  • Looking at the 1855 NEIGHBOR of Russell Lamphere is what led me to the University of Alabama Archives and ultimately to these letters.
  • I should have checked the University of Alabama archives website many times, not just once, years ago.  Records are being digitized all the time, and local universities have MANY archival materials relating to local residents.
  • I had used, over the years, a briefer index of the 1855 census that did not help me realize who Russell Lamphere’s neighbors and household were.
  • I have not searched hard enough for war materials relating to Charles C. Lamphere.

This feels like a huge breakthrough, to have the name of a possible business partner or colleague.  Next stop:  Learning everything possible about Robert Jemison, Jr.

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In the Land of Cotton

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I’ve decided to revisit a brick wall ancestor, my 4x-great grandmother, Lydia Minor, and to create, along the way, a complete guide to this journey.  I hope readers with their own Rhode Island brick walls will follow along, and perhaps choose one problem to explore on their own as this goes on. The problem originates in Rhode Island but then veers westward; something that many readers will identify with.

I’m not kidding when I say this will probably take years.  I chose this problem because it’s pretty hopeless.  Eight years has not solved it yet, so there is no low hanging fruit.  It should be/would be/could be solvable – the Minors of southeastern Connecticut are pretty well known – but this particular individual has eluded researchers up to now.  Lydia Minor is the great-grandmother of my mother’s grandfather, Russell Earl Darling.

The problem, if it is ever solved, will be solved by devising and implementing strategies, which will often involve seeking connections between small details that can be gleaned about Lydia and her known family.  So, let’s strategize.

I absolutely need an “X-RAYS BOX.” Right away.

The research question

It’s important to state, in writing, the question.  The question needs to narrow down the focus, but also to refer to specific people.

Who were the parents of Lydia Miner, who married Russell Lamphear in 1807 in Preston, Connecticut?

OK.  Now I know what I’m looking for.

Lydia Minor’s life

I’d like to begin by showing the little I know about who Lydia Minor really was, so that readers will begin to appreciate her as much as I do.

Direct Evidence

Her marriage:[1]

At Preston, Mr. RUSSELL LAMPHEAR, to Miss Lydia Miner.


  • The marriage was recorded in a Norwich, Connecticut newspaper as happening in Preston (Connecticut), the town immediately east of Norwich.  When I review facts on the husband, Russell, it will be clear that he was living in Norwich at this time, having recently moved from Westerly, Rhode Island.
  • With few Minors in Preston, no clues have surfaced to connect Lydia or Russell to Preston.  But embarrassingly, I now realize that although I have consulted The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Records, Preston 1687-1850, Parts 1 & 2, some New London County probate districts via microfilm at the NEHGS library in Boston, and some Preston deeds at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I have never been to Preston Town Hall. And there’s nothing like going to the town hall.  Well, that’s why we’re doing this!  Adding it to the list.
  • “Miss” Lydia Miner is an indication this is a first marriage.  Based on her age (from her death record, coming up) of about 20 or 21, that was very likely anyway.

Lydia’s newspaper death notice clipping was something I ordered from the New London County Historical Society[3]:

The scanty 23 January 1849 death notice for Lydia at least gives an age, 62.


  • The notice, in a Norwich, Connecticut newspaper, specifies that the death occurred at “Norwich Falls.”  The Falls is a neighborhood that became industrialized thanks to water power in the very early 1800’s, and (as will be reviewed in the future) evidence points to Russell and Lydia spending many years there.
  • Lydia died on 18 January, 1849, still married to her husband Russell.  Her age in January, 1849 of 62 years suggests a birth year of 1787 or, even more likely, 1786.  Russell certainly knew how old she was, but who the source of this information was, and whether it was reported directly to the paper for insertion or copied from some town record, is unknown.  No death record was found on three separate searches in the Norwich Town Hall or in the printed two volume set, Vital records of Norwich, 1659-1848. Also none was found at the Connecticut State Archives in Hartford.
  • Western papers please copy is a good indication that Lydia had loved ones west of Connecticut.  Although only one son and one daughter are specifically known to have headed west, this is something to keep in mind as the children are explored.

Indirect Evidence

Here are some thoughts about her as shared by her son William in his old age as he was reminiscing to a reporter, along with an old friend (this clipping was sent to me by a very kind researcher on a related line who noticed Russell Lamphere on my blog)[2]:

I think for a woman who married in 1807 and had 14 children, being remembered in this manner by a loving son 50 years after her death is very sweet.

The story, further, tells us that Lydia and Russell Lamphere had 14 children; seven boys and seven girls:

Note that the “genial old gentleman, fond of stories” was Lydia’s son William Lamphere, and the rest of the paragraph refers to Lydia’s husband, Russell Lamphere.


  • Lydia and Russell not only had 14 children, but seven were girls and seven were boys.
  • Lydia did all her own housework (I do know that several of the oldest children were girls, which was probably a help) and met “the demands of society” which I take to mean she led a normal life and interacted with her community.
  • The Lampheres were Methodists.  Good to know.
  • The clue about the children living long lives is barely true, as a child-by-child examination will show, but clearly some of them did.

Research plan (just the beginning of the plan, I will keep adding):

  • Visit Preston Town Hall to seek birth and marriage records for Lydia, and take a careful look at ALL Minor records in the deeds and probate (although Connecticut separates probates into “districts” I notice the towns often have older materials on hand).
  • Review Thomas Minor Descendants 1608-1981 by John Augustus Minor to build a list of all the Lydia Minors that are not the right one.  I’ve done this before, but I think I’ll start fresh.  Also, in that book, explore Minors who were ever resident in Preston.
  • Review historical background materials on Norwich and Preston.
  • Investigate Methodists churches in Norwich Falls in the first half of the 1800’s.
  • Carefully review available record sets for Norwich and Preston on Ancestry.com, AmericanAncestors.org, and FamilySearch.org, as well as any Revolutionary War records on Fold3 for Minors/Miners from Preston.  I haven’t reviewed web resources on this for a while, and it changes quickly.
  • Consider a visit to the New London County Historical Society in New London, after the review is well underway and the research plan is more fully developed.

While I don’t have a picture of Lydia of course, this photograph is of her daughter, Lucy Ann (Lamphere) Cook, 1808-1865. From the collection of L. Buck, used with permission.

Next:  Starting from the beginning, I’ll review the early life and residences of Lydia’s husband Russell, trying to determine where he met Lydia.


[1] “Married,” The Courier (Norwich, Conn.), 20 May 1807, p. 3, col. 3; image copy, GenealogyBank.com, (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 18 June 2011).

[2] “Letters from the People : Old Times and Old Folks,” Norwich (Connecticut) Bulletin, 12 September 1898, p. [unknown], col. 3.

[3] “DIED,” Norwich (Connecticut) Evening Courier, 23 January 1849, vol. VII, no. 141, whole num. 541, p. 3, col. 1.

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My days at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City this winter, aided by my research notebook, gave me the opportunity to pursue many record sets that I had not used before.  Of course many of those turned out not to have the possible record I was seeking. I am recording all those negative results, and also taking a careful look at what I did find.

Russell Lamphere

I have been pursuing the unusual story of my ggg-grandfather Russell Lamphere (1817-1898), who moved his family from Norwich, Connecticut to Tuscaloosa, Alabama in the 1850’s to start a business, and returned by 1875 to Johnston, Rhode Island where he attempted to launch another business.  Russell was a metalworker/machinist, and often worked as an overseer in cotton mills, but what the business was exactly, I don’t know.  The most intriguing thing I know about him is that a congressional bill for relief was submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives three times in the 1880’s seeking reparations for his losses during the Civil War – totaling $50,000.  I have to know what this was.  I just have to.

Norwich Town from the East.  from History of Norwich, Connecticut, from its settl... p.front

Norwich Town from the East. from History of Norwich, Connecticut, (Caulkins, 1845), frontispiece

Partnerships in Tuscaloosa

Recently, a perceptive reader pointed out to me that pursuing the wealthy, better documented industrial families of Norwich might reveal a business interest in Tuscaloosa, Alabama … possibly a partner for Russell. She pointed out that it could even explain the relationship with Congressman John Turner Wait.  I have stalked Mr Wait and his connections for years and have yet to turn up a plausible link to Russell. So it’s time to pursue this idea, and I am planning a visit to Norwich where I will follow up a bit more on that this summer.  It makes a lot of sense because Russell, a metalworker, often worked as an overseer in cotton mills and I suspect his expertise was in the machinery itself … the kind of expertise a wealthy mill owner would probably want to bring with him to Alabama.

In what might have been a later partnership, Russell lost his business partner William B Murrell (a native of North Carolina) to death before February, 1861.  An ad appeared in the Independent Monitor of February 1, 1861, page 2:

Russell Lamphere's business Partner, Wm B Murrell, died in

Russell Lamphere’s business Partner, Wm B Murrell, had died by 1861. Independent Monitor, Tuscaloosa, Ala., 1 Feb 1861, p. 2

But there were no property or probate records for Murrell in Tuscaloosa.

Looking for property in Tuscaloosa

I didn’t know if Russell had ever purchased property in Tuscaloosa, so this was my chance to go through Tuscaloosa deeds.  Nothing turned up.  I wasn’t too surprised.  I knew by this ad in the Independent Monitor that he was running a shop in “a house” that was formerly a book store – I could imagine the family might live in the back or upstairs.  It always struck me as rental property.

The business Russell advertised after the death of his partner.

The business Russell advertised after the death of his partner.  Independent Monitor, Tuscaloosa, Ala, 29 March 1861, p. 3

But while I was at it, I also noted the film numbers for deeds back in Norwich, Connecticut, where Russell was born and married, and where his father had lived since 1807.  I realized I had never examined any deeds from there, mostly because I didn’t really expect that they owned property.  I haven’t worked on Russell in a long time, and I think on my previous visits to Norwich, years ago, I wasn’t used to looking at deeds and didn’t realize that they revealed so much.  Rookie mistake, of course.

Property in Norwich, Connecticut

And so I learned that they did, indeed, own property, through some strange and convoluted transactions.  I captured images from microfilm and have been examining them for a couple of weeks.

History of Norwich, Connecticut, (Caulkins, 1845). p.185

from History of Norwich, Connecticut, (Caulkins, 1845). p.185

There were six transactions:

  1. Henry Palmer sold to Russell Lamphere and Russell Lamphere Jr for $200 a tract of land with one half of a dwelling house in the village of Greeneville, Norwich, near Main & Sixth Streets. ALWAYS PROVIDED … notes of hand … well and truly paid with interest  … one year from date (this is just a mortgage).  2 Aug 1845 (52:548).
  2. William Phillips, Conservator of John J Denison of Norwich … a lunatic and distracted person … for $545 paid by Russell Lamphere (who was the highest bidder) certain parcel of land … said homestead … the portion NOT sold to Dwight L. Phillips …  (refers to deeds from 1828 and 1839 for full description).  9 Jun 1847 (54:382).
  3. Dwight L Phillips of Norwich … for $175 received of Russell Lamphere 2nd of said Town … a certain tract of land at Norwich Falls (same property as conveyed to me by William Phillips Conservator of John J. Denison 28 April 1846 – p. 357 – a portion of the old homestead of said John J. Denison, the remainder of which is this day deeded… to Russell Lamphere.  9 Jun 1847 (54:383).
  4. Russell Lamphere 2d of Norwich … for $400 … received of John J. Denison … a certain lot of land situated in the Town of Norwich at Norwich Falls … the same property as was conveyed to me this day … from William Phillips … and all the buildings thereon standing … ALWAYS PROVIDED … I am justly indebted to him for … the sum of 400 dollars with annual interest … if I do well and truly pay … this present deed to be void (this is just a mortgage) … 9 Jun 1847 (54:384).
  5. Russell Lamphere 2d of Norwich … for $175 … received of Dwight L. Phillips … do sell … two parcels of land … in the town of Norwich … with the buildings thereon standing … being the same parcels of land as have this day been deeded to me the one from William Phillips as Conservator of John J Denison and fully described in said deed from Wm Phillips to me and the other fully described in a deed from Dwight L. Phillips to me, the whole comprising all the old homestead of John J Denison … ALWAYS PROVIDED … I am indebted to D.L. Phillips by my note … the sum of $175 … if I pay … this present deed to be null and void.  9 Jun 1847 (54:385).
  6. Russell Lamphere Junior of Montville … for $100 received … quit-claim unto said John Eggleston of Norwich a certain tract of land situate in Norwich, being a part or portion of the “No Man’s Acre” lot, so called … North side of the highway leading from the Methodist Chapel, at Norwich Falls, to the Paper Mill Bridge … meaning to convey in this conveyance, all the buildings on said land, and all appurtenances and privileges … being the land and premises which were conveyed to me by Thames Manufg Co by two deeds, one of which is dated Feb. 28, 1828, and is recorded in Norwich, in the 40th Book of Deeds, at the 527th page, and the other bears the date the 1st day of April 1828, and is recorded in said records, Book 44st at page 43, to which reference is had … set my hand and seal … 15 May 1851 (57:384).

Panic ensues

As I read deed #6 I realized that when I perused these deeds at the Family History Library, I missed the point that the property had been acquired by Russell Lamphere 2nd in 1828.  Although Russell’s birth was apparently unrecorded, he consistently reported a birth year of 1817 or 1818.  He can’t have purchased the property from the Thames Manuf. Co. at the age of 10 or 11.  And it couldn’t be Russell Lamphere, Sr. since his father’s name was Daniel (by 1850, “Jr.” or “2nd” was very likely to have the same meaning that it has today). Not only that, but Russell was recorded in the 1850 census living in Norwich.  I wasn’t sure what “of Montville” was referring to in an 1851 deed.

I have studied the name Lamphere in Norwich for a long time.  All Lampheres at the Falls seem to be Russell Lamphere 2nd’s parents or siblings. The idea that ANOTHER, older Russell Lamphere 2nd was hanging around the Falls buying property was quite a lot to take in.  I really, really had to know what those 1828 deeds said.  It was the first morning of the NERGC conference.  I realized it was one of the few days I would have off of work for a couple of months.  So, I made a quick trip to Norwich before attending the conference that day.  It was a genealogy emergency.

The Falls in Norwich, on the Yantic River, from Map of New London County, Connecticut, Walling, 1854.

The Falls in Norwich, on the Yantic River, from Map of New London County, Connecticut, Walling, 1854.  I believe this section compiles a couple of busy neighborhoods because the Shetucket River and Greeneville (the reddish factories shown in the top corner) are actually to the south and west of the Falls neighborhood.

A quick visit to Norwich City Hall

The town hall had binders of photocopied pages on display in place of the oldest deed books.  I couldn’t photograph them; their system required that I pay for them to remove and photocopy the pages, which was fine. I easily found the deeds thanks to the clear citations in the 1851 deed.  Sure enough:

  • Deed 40:527 was a deed for part of “No Man’s Acre” being sold for $870 to Stephen Remington, by the Thames Manufacturing Co., 28 Feb 1828, signed by William P Greene and Williams C. Gilman.
  • Deed 44:43 was for an additional portion of the “No Man’s Acre” also sold to Stephen Remington for $100, 1 April 1828.

I investigated the Thames Manufacturing Company and found a good overview of the establishment of the various mills and factories at the Falls in Modern History of New London County, Chapter VI, “The City of Norwich” (particularly p. 150-152).  Some businesses failed during the panic of 1837, and the buildings were later re-used by new companies. I can only conclude that the phrase “conveyed to me” in the 1851 deed was simply an error.  Many portions of deeds were copied (I recognized the descriptions from deed to deed) and the deeds recorded in the town hall are, themselves, copies.  Careless wording could have happened at any point.

Don’t look now, but I think I just passed some sort of genealogy milestone.  I found my first mistake in a deed.

Studying the map

Once I got to the conference, I found a CD for sale of Walling’s 1854 map of New London County from Old-Maps.  The Falls section, pictured above, shows the Falls Mfg. Company site, which was the former location of the Thames Mfg. Co.  Because I have been to Yantic Cemetery several times, I realized the earliest section (where Russell and Hannah Lamphere are buried) was shown on the map as “Cemetery.”

An 1833 map of Norwich by William Lester, from the David Rumsey Map Collection, shows a different view of The Falls.  The orange spot is near the original section of Yantic Cemetery; it may possibly be the Methodist Church.

An 1833 map of Norwich by William Lester, from the David Rumsey Map Collection, shows a different view of The Falls. The orange spot is near the original section of Yantic Cemetery; could there have been an early church there? The map legend suggest it might be a Methodist Church. Or, it could just be the early part of the cemetery.

The story the deeds are telling

  • Russell Lamphere and his father gave a $200 mortgage in 1845 to Russell’s brother-in-law, Henry Palmer (married since 1830 to Russell’s oldest sister, Lydia Lamphere).
  • The transactions in deeds 2, 3, 4 and 5 all occurred on the same day, 9 Jun 1847.  Russell purchased, in two separate transactions, the full property of lunatic John J. Denison for a total of $720.  He obtained two mortgages from the sellers (one, the Administrator of Denison’s estate, the other, a local man who had purchased the other portion of the estate at the auction) for a total of $575.  The property was located in Norwich Falls and was at one time owned by the Thames Manufacturing Co.
  • Russell Lamphere was living in Montville (just to the south of Norwich) in 1851.  He left Connecticut shortly thereafter; my gg-grandmother Emma Lamphere would be born in Alabama in 1854.
  • Russell quit claimed his rights to the entire property in 1851 for $100.  Quit claim means you give up any rights you may or may not have in a property; I assume because of the mortgages that Russell couldn’t sell it in any other manner. This is murky to me; the mortgages aren’t mentioned. So, he owned the property for four years.
Falls Company, pictured in 1888.  By then, the factory was greatly expanded from the early days as the Thames Mfg. Co.

Falls Company, pictured in 1888. By then, the factory was greatly expanded from the early days as the Thames Mfg. Co.

Who was John J. Denison?

Norwich vital records show that John J Denison married Olive Jillson in 13 Feb 1828 (p. 685). The following mortuary notice appeared in The Morning News (New London, CT) Vol. I, issue: 158, P. 3 (15 May 1845):

DIED … In Norwich Falls, on the 11th inst., Mrs. Olive Denison, wife of John Denison.

John J. Denison died in 1875 in Norwich and was buried in Yantic Cemetery (Lot 16).  An article in the Daily Constitution (Middletown, CT) vol. III, issue 768, p2 (21 January 1875) reads as follows:

John J. Denison, who has lived a recluse at Norwich Falls ever since the death of his wife, twenty-nine years ago, was found dead in his bed the other day.  He refused to live with his children, persisting in a solitary mode of living.  The neighbors having missed him from the streets for some days, entered his hermitage by a window and found him.

John Denison lived next door to Russell in 1850. This probably just means that they let the recluse rent or just live somewhere on the property even after the 1847 sale.

Russell and his family living next door to John Denison in Norwich, 1850.  Federal Census, Connecticut, New London County, Norwich, p. 286.

Russell and his family living next door to John Denison in Norwich, 1850. 1850 Federal Census, Connecticut, New London County, Norwich, p. 286.

Was John J. Denison (likely born in 1805 in nearby Stonington, Connecticut) a relative of Russell Lamphere’s mother, Lydia Minor (Minor is a common Stonington name and Lydia is a brick wall with unknown family)?  John appears on page 123 of Baldwin & Clift’s  A Record of the Descendants of Capt. George Denison (1888) as John I Denison.  I have no idea of the reliability of this book, but I cannot make out a possible relationship to Lydia.

Oddly, Russell Lamphere Sr. had a sister Nancy (Lamphere) Crocker (1787-1862) who had a son named John Denison Crocker.  While a relationship to John Denison is looking unlikely, any connection might possibly go back to Russell Sr.’s brick wall mother, Nancy (—) Lamphere (c1752-1833).

The big questions

  • Was the 1847 purchase intended for establishing a business, or just for a residence?  Given the location and history of the property, it could be either.
  • Will Norwich newspapers and books help me determine if any well-financed mill owners started an operation in Tuscaloosa in the early 1850’s?  If so, why did Russell have a new partner by 1860?
  • Can I find additional evidence in Tuscaloosa?  I do have a few books to read through.  It was a depressing time in Tuscaloosa.  It’s been hard to get myself to learn more, but, learning more always helps.
  • Is there any evidence in Norwich newspapers of Russell and Hannah’s life and departure for Tuscaloosa?
  • Is there any point in further research on the congressional bills from the 1880’s?  Once, a kind blog reader put a request in for me to the National Archives in DC.  Nothing was found, but I wonder if I could try again, perhaps by hiring my own NARA researcher.
  • Does May, 1851 – the date of the last Norwich deed – represent the departure date for the Lampheres?  I suspect it does.  And why was Russell “of Montville” when he had just been enumerated in 1850 in Norwich? Were they staying with someone?
  • Will tracing John Denison back to Stonington, on my own, not relying on any books, help me find something to link him to a Lamphere wife?
  • Are there any other middle name clues to be found amongst the descendants of Daniel and Nancy Lamphere?  I have tried to find any, but need to try harder.
  • Can DNA results help at all?

A note to my readers

If you think you are a fourth, fifth or sixth cousin to me, and you have a DNA test on Ancestry DNA or Family Tree DNA, can you drop me a note and tell me the name listed as the test taker?  I would appreciate it.  And there are a lot of cousins out there; I am lucky to hear from them from time to time.

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Lydia (Lamphere) Palmer's grave, from the same plot as Russell (Jr.) and Hannah Lamphere in Yantic Cemetery.

Lydia (Lamphere) Palmer’s grave, from the same plot as Russell (Jr.) and Hannah Lamphere in Yantic Cemetery.  Photo by Diane Boumenot.

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While at the Family History Library last month, I was finally able to get a copy of the 1726/7 map showing the division of George Lamphere’s property among his heirs.  My goal in investigating the early Lamphere property is to seek evidence of the parents of my 5th-great grandfather Daniel Lamphere of Westerly, who died in 1808 and may have been born around 1735-1740.  Given the timing, it’s likely that Daniel’s father was a grandson of George Lamphere.

Westerly in a much busier era, 1888, in Picturesque Narragansett, p. 163.

View of Westerly and the Pawcatuck River.  Westerly in a much busier era, 1888, from Picturesque Narragansett, p. 163.

The problem

The theory in The Lamphere Family Research Aid (1981) by Shirley Bucknum that the Daniel who married Eunice Wise was Daniel4 (Daniel3, John2, George1) was something I double-checked while in Salt Lake City; unfortunately THAT Daniel signed a receipt in his father Daniel’s 1788 probate record along with his wife, Wealthia.  MY Daniel was married to Nancy at the time. I wanted to explore the whole probate record (my copies download here if you want to take a look – page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4) and when I did, sure enough, THAT Daniel really does seem to be the son of John2, because he names his wife, Cattern.  So I am looking things over again, more broadly.  This is an open question.

I consulted the only reliable compiled tree on the early Lampheres, Scott Andrew Bartley’s series of articles:

  • Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants.”  New England Historic Genealogical Register 153 (April 1999): 131-140.
  • Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants, Part 2.”  New England Historic Genealogical Register 159 (October 2005): 333-340.
  • Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants, Part 3.”  New England Historic Genealogical Register 160 (January 2006): 47-59.
Daniel and Welthia Lanpher signed a discharge on March 18, 1789 for their share from Daniel Lamphere's estate.

Daniel and Welthia Lanpher signed a discharge on March 18, 1789 for their share from Daniel Lamphere’s estate.

George’s children

According to the articles (and also, more or less, according to Austin’s Genealogical Dictionary of R.I.), George’s children were:

  • Richard
  • Shadrack
  • Mary m. Peter Button
  • Patience m. Eber Crandall
  • John
  • Seth
  • Theodosios
  • Sarah m. James Covey
  • Elizabeth m. James Pendleton

While we’re on the subject, I would note Mr. Bartley’s warning that there is no evidence for the name of George’s wife.  People may “have” a name, they may “find” a name, but there is no evidence.

I found in Westerly Probate book 4, p. 181, “A Plot of the Land of George Lanphear & Divided According to the Order of Capt James Hill, Capt Oliver Babcock & Justice John Richmond Committee March 21 1726/7 – Christp: Champlin – Survey”

The names are found clearly on the map (get larger version here):

The map from p. 181 (printed numbering) of Westerly Probate Book 4.

The map from p. 181 (printed numbering) of Westerly Probate Book 4 shows the division of George Lamphere’s land.

The names appear as follows:

  • Top row:  No. 9 Shadrack Lamphear  48 Acres
  • Bottom row:  No. 1 Ja. Covey, 27 A 58 R   |  No 2 Seth Lanphear  18 A 80 R  |  No 3 Richard Lanphear  20 A 00 R  |  No 4 Eber Crandall 17 A 64 R  |  No 5 Theodosias Lanphear 28 A 100 R  |  No 6 [Richard?] Lanphear 29 A 40 R  |  No 7 Mary Button 46 A 16 R  |  No 8 James Pendleton 34 A 78 R

Note that the corner landmarks are: A large white oak, large white oak tree, John Lanphear’s [Corner?], and [illegible].  Other landmarks mentioned are a stake, and a stake and stones.

Page 172, adjacent to the map.  Copied in 1735.

Page 172. Copied in 1735.  “The above draft is a true copy of the original entered April 15th 1734.  William Babcock CC.”

Where is it?

I just don’t know where this land is.  My guess about where MY Daniel Lamphere left land to his second wife and his many children is in this post:  On Lanphere Road. The area I found was called “Lamphere Hollow” and there is a decent chance it represents the general area where George had his land, but I don’t know.

The 1774 Census transcribed in Rhode Island Roots (vol. 10, Dec., 20013, “The 1774 Census of Rhode Island: Charlestown and Westerly“, transcribed by Vera M. Robinson) shows the following interesting set of Lampheres and neighbors (p. 197):

  • Joseph Clarke …………….. 1. ……… 1. ……….1 ……………………….. 1 ……………………….. 1 ……
  • Elisha Clarke ……………..2. ….4 ….4 . … 1. ….1 ……………………….. 1 ……………………….. 1 ……
  • William Brombly ………..3 . ……… 1. … 4 …..1 ……………………….. 1 ………………………..1 . …..
  • James Pendleton ………… .3.. …..: ..I.. ……… I.. …………………… …I.. ……………………..I…. …
  • James Pendleton Junr ….. 1. … 1. … 1 ….2 . …. 1 . ………………………1 ………………………..1 ……
  • Nathan Lanpher.. … :. ….. ..2… . 3.. .. 2.. . .2… .. I.. …………………. …..I ……………………….. I.. ….
  • Nathan Lanpher Jur …….. 1… . 2… . l .. .. 3… .. I.. ………………… ……I.. ………………… ……I.. ….
  • Daniel Lanpher …………. .2.. ……. .3… . l … ..I.. ……………………… I.. ………………. ……..I.. ….
  • David Lanpher Junr ……..1 . … 1. … 1 …. 2. ….1 ……………………….1 … ……………………… 1 ……
  • David Lanpher …………… 1. … 3 …. 1. … 2. …. 1 ……………………….1. . ………………………. 1 ……
  • William Vinsant …………. l .. . .5… . 3… . 2…. . I.. …………… …………I… …………………….. 1 ……
  • Daniel Lampher Junr …… 1. .. .3.. .. I.. .. 5… .. I. ……………….. ……I ………………………. .I ……
  • John Burdick ………………4 …. 2 …. 2. …3 ….. 1 ……………………….1. . ……………………… 1 ……
  • William Babcock ……….. 2 ………. 3 …. 1 ….. 1 ……………………….. 1 ……………………….. 1 ……
  • Samuel Brand …………….. 1. …2 …. 1. ………. 1 ……………………….. 1 ………………………..1 ……

The neighbors are some of the same names mentioned in the deeds of my Daniel’s widow, Nancy, as the property was sold off after 1808. Clearly, “Nathan” and “David” are huge clues since, at this early date, they are not Daniel’s sons.  I think “Nathan” may be Nathan4 (Nathan3, John2, George1) who was married by 1774 to his third wife, Sarah Saunders and had about 10 children already.

The 1777 Military Census for Westerly, R.I. (Rhode Island Roots vol 10, Sept 1984, “1777 Military Census, Westerly, Rhode Island“) lists:

  • (page 60) Daniel Lanpher 60+  and
  • (page 63) Daniel Lanpher 3d 16-50 A and Daniel Lanpher Jr 16-50 A. (=”From 16 to 50 years and able to bear arms”)

This leaves me confused – I’m not even sure what the right number of Daniels should be.  I need to go through the 1790 and 1800 census page by page – after all, one of the Daniels died in 1788.  Maybe that will clarify things.

map of southern Rhode Island from History of Washington and Kent counties, Rhode Island, 1889, page 1.

map of southern Rhode Island from History of Washington and Kent counties, Rhode Island, 1889, page 1.  The Lamphere property that belonged to my family was just above the bold “Westerly”.

Next steps

  • Can the old map help me?  Can I find descendants of the Crandalls, Pendletons, Coveys, and Buttons still living near my Lampheres? – I wonder what happened to the properties inherited in this division. 
  • Names – Fortunately, my Daniel had a lot of children over the course of two marriages.  I need to investigate the names more thoroughly.  Unfortunately for this purpose, I still don’t know Nancy’s maiden name or family.  Sources for information about the early families are unreliable after generations 1 – 3.  I may just turn to deeds and vital records so at least I know the names I’m finding are real.  An index to early Westerly deed volumes can be found on USgenweb here which is a useful starting place when planning to look at Westerly deeds.
  • Rhode Island Roots – I explored these for Lampheres years ago when I probably just tried the index for certain names.  There may be lots of subtle clues in there I could find today.
  • Review what’s known – I plan to make a complete list of every fact related to my Daniel and his son Russell.  Some names were mentioned in the probate that I explored extensively a while ago, but need to revisit.
  • Census – re-analyze all existing census records looking for patterns of neighbors.

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From At Home Again page 36.

From At Home Again page 36.






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In my search for more information about Nancy, wife of Daniel Lamphere (c1740 – 1808) , I decided to explore each of their children’s lives.  I also examined the children from Daniel’s first marriage, since the circumstances of its ending are still unknown to me, and I thought if I learned more about them it might explain something about how Daniel and Nancy’s relationship began.  Daniel and Nancy are my grandmother Edna Darling’s ggg-grandparents from Westerly, Rhode Island.

I discovered Daniel’s children in this post, and examined Nancy’s supposed Tefft ancestry in this post.   I decided now to reexamine each of the 15 children individually.

A murder mystery

I didn’t get too far.  Imagine my surprise when I immediately found myself deep into a murder mystery.  This is the story of that mystery, but it’s also a story about sources of information.

One of the first children born to Daniel and Eunice Lamphere was George Lamphere, on 31 March 1761, according to the Westerly birth records.  The original Lamphere immigrant (gg-grandfather to George) was named George (c1638 – 1731) and there are many descendants with that name.  I knew from my initial exploration of Daniel’s descendants that George and his siblings from the first marriage left Westerly for northern New England and New York.   George was residing in Royalton, Windsor County, Vermont in 1810 when he gave a power of attorney during the settlement of his father’s property.

I saw that George married Delight Hilliard on May 2, 1782 in Shirley Bucknum’s Lanphere Family Research Aid.  George’s family is #92 on page 19.  They “removed from Westerly to Norwich by certificate 7 Mar 1783 (TCP 4/6: 465)” meaning they were given a certificate saying that their home was Westerly, which would ensure they would be allowed to maintain a home in their new location.  I have not yet been to Westerly to check the town council records volume 4/6 for that myself. I did find the marriage recorded in the Bozrah, Connecticut records by Barbour.

An old building in Windsor, from Vermont, the Unspoiled Land (1915) p37

An old building in Windsor, from Vermont, the Unspoiled Land (1915) p37

The first sign of the murder

Then I saw a strange note for George in Lanphere Family Research Aid:

Newspaper dated 29 Nov 1806, Windsor, VT:  “Mrs George L Lamphere died under suspicious circumstances from which her husband and mother were arrested & committed to jail” (RI VR 14 p37)”.

Her source was Arnold’s Vital Records of Rhode Island, vol. 14, p. 37.  A look at that entry shows that James Arnold abstracted the information from the Providence Gazette of November 29, 1806.  This is the Gazette article, from GenealogyBank.com:

In Windsor (Vt.) Mrs. Lamphere, wife of George L.  Having died on Sunday, she was buried on Monday; but suspicions arising, her body was taken up some days after, and examined by a jury of physicians, who reported that she came to her death by blows received on her left side and across her back; that those blows were probably given by her husband, and that his mother was accessory thereto.  They were both committed to Woodstock gaol.

A search brought up numerous other, similar newspaper entries from around New England, as paper after paper copied the Vermont story.  The nearest local paper in Windsor, Vermont revealed a few more details.

The Windsor Post Boy of November 11, 1806 mentioned:

she had been under the care of a Physician several days, and a part of the time was supposed delirious.  Her complaints were so singular, that she was suspected to have died by poison or violence; her body by permission of her relations, was on Tuesday taken from the grave and examined by nine Doctors

The September 5, 1807 Rutland Herald (v. XIII, issue 36, p.3) gave the outcome of the trial:

Important Trial – On Wednesday last, before the Supreme Court at Woodstock, came on the Trial of Mrs Ewing and George Lanphear, of this town, on an Indictment for MURDER committed on the body of Mrs. Lanphear (wife of the latter;) and after an impartial trial, which continued for four days, the charge was given to the Jury by His Honor Judge Tyler; – who, after a consultation of three hours, returned a Verdict NOT GUILTY.  — Windsor paper, Aug 31.

Royalton Village and brick store from History of Royalton

Royalton Village and brick store from History of Royalton

There are some good examples in here of how evidence can be skewed or overlooked:

  • the article repeated in various papers specifies “Mrs. Lamphere, wife of George L.”  But the Providence Gazette retelling of the story uses “Mrs George L. Lamphere.”  The Gazette is making an assumption (about what the L means).
  • A similar mistake was made by Arnold in his abstract of the death record from the Providence Gazette: “her husband and mother were arrested” but in fact the Providence Gazette had clearly stated “her husband, and that his mother was accessory thereto.”  And frankly, to even put the abstract into his volume suggested that the individuals had Rhode Island origins – something that he could not have been sure of.
  • George Lamphere lived in Royalton, Vermont, located in Windsor County.  I could find no newspapers for Royalton (a small town) so looked in Windsor County.  But for a while, I overlooked this clue: the Windsor Post-Boy stated that she “was interred in the West-Parish of this town” – if I had thought this through earlier I would have realized the paper was referring to the TOWN of Windsor and so the wife could not have been buried in Royalton.  I was checking each town on the map, and I would have known Windsor was too far away to be a likely burial spot. Also, some stories gave a dateline of “Windsor, Vermont.” Of course that meant a town, not a county.
  • Nowhere in these newspaper reports is the first name of the wife mentioned.

The fact that strongly supported the story

As I read more notes online (repeating over and over that this couple was George and Delight Lamphere) and as I eventually saw the original court record (see below), I became aware that the accused murderer’s mother was named Eunice.  That was also the name of my George Lamphere’s mother, although I had been uncertain as to her fate (Eunice’s husband Daniel remarried about 3 years after his and Eunice’s last recorded child).  The newspapers mentioned “Mrs. Ewing” but I quickly found an 1804 marriage in Windsor, Vermont of Eunice Lamphear and William Ewing.  This made me wonder if Daniel and Eunice had gotten a divorce, and she had eventually accompanied her son up to Vermont. In fact, another of Eunice’s children, Eunice, was also living in Royalton with her husband, Eliphalet Davis.  I checked with the Rhode Island Judicial Records Center, but no divorce for Eunice and Daniel was found, but I have never found a death record for Eunice either.

Tavern image from History of Royalton

Tavern image from History of Royalton

Looking around online

Over a period of weeks I explored sources both contemporary to the event – like newspapers, census records, and vital records – and more recently compiled sources, like family genealogies, online notes, and lists.

The Barbour vital records for Bozrah, Connecticut (just next to Norwich, where George and Delight had gone in 1783) reported the marriage and five births for George and Delight between 1783 and 1791: Jesse, David, George, Erastus, and Daniel.

The History of Royalton, Vermont with Family Genealogies 1769-1911 by Evelyn M. Wood Lovejoy (Burlington: 1911), (volume 1 and volume 2 are online) has a brief entry for the George and Delight Lamphere family on page 847, in which son George is noted, birth date unknown, and the births of Daniel, William, Eunice, Jeremiah, Sally, and Sidney are reported between 1796 and 1806.  The book also mentions a David, Erastus, and Jesse, about whom nothing was known, but I was able to easily see that those names matched the children born in Bozrah.  It was noted that the family, living on Broad Brook, Royalton, seemed to have a presence in Royalton from 1793 until around 1820 only.

I was rather shocked to find (in the Mayflower Descendant, vol. 51 (2002): p. 95, accessed on AmericanAncestors.org) an article “William Hillard of Duxbury, Massachusetts” by Victor Grant Hillard Jr. which repeats the story of Delight being murdered (which is not uncommon to find) but takes it a step further and states, on page 123, that Delight’s mother, Victoria, was living 29 Nov 1806 when jailed for the murder of her daughter Delight.  The source cited was the garbled Arnold abstract of the Gazette death notice.  It’s a good illustration of how indexing, abstracting, and retelling can change the story – and how important it is to check other sources.

But for once, it was actually the comments, queries and notes online that helped the most.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that although the story of George Lamphere murdering Delight was repeated often online, some commenters took issue with this story and cited sources to argue that the story should not be attached to the George Lamphere who married Delight Hilliard. I usually ignore random genealogy information posted online because it is usually unsupported. But in this case there were serious comments, evidence and reasons.  In particular, “calliecute” on Ancestry.com left a comment on someone else’s tree that contained two excellent pieces of evidence:

  • details of the graves of both George and Delight, in New York State, c 1830
  • a mention of the trial record, which was cited as “WINDSOR SUPREME COURT DOCKET VOL 3 P28 – AUGUST TERM 1807” which names the wife as “Amelia.”  Prior to seeing this, I had barely begun pouring over court record guides to figure out Vermont court records – this note assured me a record existed.
Old schoolhouse from History of Royalton

Old schoolhouse from History of Royalton

The facts that disproved the story

An email to the Vermont Archives (see Windsor County on this page) brought me a quick reply with a two page summary of the case, which was the only surviving record (Windsor County Supreme Court, January 1807 – January 1818 (vol. 3) p 28 – 29).  I am very grateful for their help.  Here is the pdf document of The State vs. Eunice and George Lanphier, August Term, 1807: WindsorSC_v3_p28 as sent to me by the archives.  Here is a pdf of my transcription: Windsor County Supreme Court.  The archives staff said it was a public record and I was welcome to post it.  If anyone is wondering, I transcribed the Windsor County jurors as Isaac Tower, Theophilus Bates, Leonard Walker, Junice Parker, John Parker, Arnold Wheeler, Leonard Richardson, Amos Horner, John Billings, Moses Davis, Prince Haskell, and Thomas Hodgkins.

I thought from what I saw online that the court record would name the wife as “Amelia.”   And sure enough, the wife was named Amelia. That does not disprove anything, really, since Delight could have died and George remarried, although it certainly eliminates Delight as being the victim.

Another important piece of evidence didn’t strike me until I went through the timeline of this story.  According to the book History of Royalton, Vermont (linked above), George and Delight’s last child, Sidney, was born December 12, 1806.  Ancestry.com has images of a card file for Vermont Vital Records, 1720 – 1908.  Sidney’s card appears below.  So not only was Delight alive in December of 1806, but she and George were still married and having children.  I would not say this is absolutely conclusive proof of anything, but it goes far to prove that George was unlikely to have married and murdered Amelia by the date of the assault, October 25, 1806.

Ancestry.com - Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 card 2910 of 4095.

Ancestry.com – Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 card 2910 of 4095.

Lastly, and again I would like to thank Ancestry.com user calliecute for this information, George and Delight Lamphere are buried in Riverside Cemetery in Pierrepont, St. Lawrence County, New York.  Because of spelling variations, the Lamphere name is hard to find online and so various compilations of records have been built, including the Lamphear Genealogy Web Site on Rootweb.  There I found some lists of New York graves for Lampheres, including this page which lists St. Lawrence County graves.  To quote the information on that page, provided by volunteers Alice Rosenburger and Bob Lamphear:

LANPHEAR, George died August 19, 1832 at 71y, 4m, 18d
LANPHEAR, Delight (wife of George) died July 24, 1831 at 77y 11m 5d

This is definitely the George and Delight I’ve been studying.  Calculating back George’s birth date puts it one day off from the recorded Westerly birth date of March 31, 1761.  Delight’s age at death does not seem to match the date of her birth recorded in the Barbour volume for Stonington, Connecticut (p. 191):  August 18, 1764. The age on the grave marker suggests a birth date of August 19, 1753 – one day and 11 years off.  That would suggest she was 77, and her husband 70, at the time of her death – something that would be very unusual in that era.   I suspect the gravestone may have been hard to read; perhaps it said she was 66.

Also, the markers noted in that cemetery included other family members – Hiram, son of Sidney Lamphear, and Eliza Ann and Zerah, daughters of Erastus Lamphear.

Broad Brook area in the southern corner of Royalton; 1782 map of the initial Royalton land allotments - Daniel Lamphere was not there yet.

Broad Brook area in the southern corner of Royalton; 1782 map of the initial Royalton land allotments – George Lamphere was not there yet.

I am not finding census records to back up this move to New York, but George may not have been the head of a household later in life.  I did find evidence that he was trying to move as early as 1805 – an 1805 ad by him, in the Windsor Post-Boy, offering his farm for sale:

Said farm contains upwards of 100 acres of excellent land, 40 acres under good improvement with a young and thrifty Orchard, well watered.  Wood easily brought to the door for use – and Mills handy – 25 cattle can now be kept thro the year on said farm … 500 dollars in Cash, and the remainder in neat stock and horses.  –George Lamphear, Royalton, February 13, 1805.

My conclusion is George and Delight Lamphere should no longer be considered as a part of the murder story.  Sadly, that doesn’t really solve anything.

The crime itself

Apparently any record of the evidence presented at trial is no longer available.  So we don’t know what the jury was told, other than the words of the indictment.  I wonder why she was under a doctor’s care and yet the concerns arose by what she said, not by what that doctor saw.  I wonder why her body had to be exhumed to find the evidence of a lethal beating.  I suspect, but don’t know, there were no other suspects.  I am not knowledgeable about the legal system of the time (although I follow The Legal Genealogist faithfully!) and don’t want to assume I know the law – I am wondering if beating her was really no crime?  Wouldn’t the handkerchief about the throat seem to clearly indicate an intent to murder her?

I don’t think I will easily forget the grim details in the court record:

Eunice & George did then & there feloniously, willfully and with malice prepense strike, knock down, and with great force & violence beat and kick the said Amelia Lanphier upon the back, the left side, the neck, and the Loins of her the said Amelia, and did also, then & there feloniously, willfully, and with malice prepense bind a Handkerchief around the neck and throat of her the said Amelia, and thereby with great force and violence, did squeeze and press the neck & throat of her the said Amelia …

the said Amelia, from the said twenty fifth day of October until the first day of November in the year last aforesaid at Windsor aforesaid, did languish, and languishing did live and on the same first day of November in the year last aforesaid at Windsor aforesaid, the said Amelia died of the several mortal strokes, bruises & hurts, and so the Jurors aforesaid upon their oath aforesaid do say, that the said Eunice & George, her the said Amelia in the manner and form aforesaid, feloniously, willfully, and with malice prepense, did kill, and murder …

from the original court file - see pdf link, above

from the original court file – see pdf link, above

The brutality, and the agonizing days of pain which ended in her death are a terrible legacy for Amelia, whoever she was.  One senses this was not the first episode of violence in this household, if two family members were conspirators in it. We are only hearing one part of this story (accurate or not) in the indictment but if it was true, ultimately there was no justice for Amelia.  She went to her grave, perhaps leaving beloved children behind, and (if she was murdered by these family members), the murderers went on with their lives after a brief jail stint.  There is nothing to be done about that, but at the very least she should NOT be remembered as a different person altogether.

I hope that genealogists can do that for her.  If anyone puts her identity together, I would like to know.

In conclusion

In this research, I found good evidence where I least expected it, and bad information in places that should have been more reliable.  I also noted some subtle errors introduced by abstracting.  This has been a great reminder of the importance of examining all sources for information, and checking each fact as thoroughly as possible, even those that appear to be substantiated.

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p 42-Vermont, the unspoiled land

Connecticut River Valley from Vermont, the Unspoiled Land, p. 42

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Some background

I made some good progress this year with the Lampheres when I found some Westerly, Rhode Island deeds that showed that my ggggg-grandfather, Daniel Lamphere, had two families of children, the first with wife Eunice (possibly Wise) beginning in 1759, and a subsequent set of children after 1775 with second wife Nancy (possibly Tefft) (the story of that is here).  The Westerly vital record books show both of these families (vol. 3, page 100 and vol. 4, page 67 – both indexed in Arnold’s Vital Records of Rhode Island, vol. 5, Westerly Births & Deaths section, p. 111 & 112) and on first glance one would think these were two different Daniel Lampheres.  Neither wedding – to Eunice or to Nancy – has surviving documentation, although the marriages are real enough, per the birth records, and Daniel’s last land records which name Nancy as his widow, and name both sets of children as belonging to him.

Knowing there was only one Daniel Lamphere, and suspecting (not completely proven yet) that his correct place in the fourth generation of  the Westerly Lampheres was Daniel4, Daniel3, John2, George1, I turned my attention to the identity of Daniel’s second wife, Nancy, who is my ggggg-grandmother.  Nancy was identified tentatively as a Tefft in the usual Lamphere resources (see details below).  Nancy is related to my grandmother in the following way:

Nancy, likely born around 1750, was my grandmother's ggg-grandmother

Nancy, likely born around 1750, was my grandmother’s ggg-grandmother

Learning more about Nancy

This is the convoluted problem with Nancy:

  1. Several unreliable sources suggest her name may be Tefft
  2. She became Daniel’s widow in late 1808 and by her right of thirds, held onto one third of the Westerly, R.I. farm which I have tentatively located (see blog post here).
  3. Although I have no documentation of the wedding, their first child, my gggg-grandfather Russell Lamphere, was born December 2, 1776, and five additional children by 1792.

    To Mr. Daniel Lanphear and Nancy, his wife, RUSSELL their eldest son born December the 2d AD -- 1776

    To Mr. Daniel Lanphear and Nancy, his wife, RUSSELL their eldest son born December the 2d AD — 1776. The other children were Marcy, William, Nancy, Triphena,and Daniel.

  4. There was a neighbor to the Lamphere property over a period of many years named John Tefft.
  5. A Partial Record of the Descendants of John Tefft by Maria E Maxon Tefft (Buffalo: Peter Paul Book Company, 1896) presents, on page 30, a John Tefft family featuring a daughter, Anna (for which Nancy would be a nickname), who married Daniel Lamphere.  Surprisingly, Anna was born in 1790 (and Arnold’s Vital Records of R.I., vol. 5, Westerly, p. 138 shows the same birth dates) .  Since my ggggg-grandmother Nancy married by 1776, the person in the book is about a generation off.
  6. The book A Partial Record reports some information about John Tefft’s property: “The Tefft homestead was built in 1739, and is situated one mile and a half from the busy part of Westerly, R.I. and is owned by William R. and Walter Frazier, great great grandsons of John Tefft.”  I turned to my map of the Lamphere property location, as well as a Beers 1870 map from this page on historicmapworks.com, which shows a “Wm Frazier” and “Frazier”.  That location definitely borders the Lamphere property.
  7. John Tefft’s will is abstracted in the Rhode Island Genealogical Register, v. 9, page 54 (Westerly, R.I. Probate vol. 2 1811-1821, p. 347-348).  The will was proved 28 Feb 1820, and mentions many of the same children, and their spouses, reported in A Partial Record, including daughter Anna Lanphere, wife of Daniel Lanphere.

With so much to back up the John Tefft family whose daughter, Anna, born 1790, married Daniel Lanphere, I have to conclude that there was a real Anna Tefft, daughter of the neighbor John Tefft, who married a Daniel Lanphere.  But it is clear that is NOT MY ggggg-grandfather Daniel Lanphere, but must be some later Daniel Lanphere.

Transcription of Nancy's mark on the 1817 deed to Nathan F. Dixon.

Transcription of Nancy’s mark on the 1817 deed to Nathan F. Dixon.

Looking at other Daniel Lanpheres

My Daniel Lanphere had two sons “Daniel” named in the Westerly birth records, one born in 1768 in the earlier family and the other in 1792 in the later family. This seems strange since there is no indication that the elder one was dead before the later one was born.

A Daniel Lamphere had an 1812 probate record in Westerly, abstracted in Rhode Island Genealogical Record naming three minor children, Daniel, Sophronia, and Pamelia, who chose Lemuel Vose as their guardian (Lemuel’s brother was married to a Mary Lamphere, connection unknown).  I am not finding a marriage record nor have I read the original probate record yet, (The Lanphere Family Research Aid mentions that a wife, Elizabeth, is named in the will), but Nancy, born in 1790, is very unlikely to have been the wife here, she would be a little too young.

There are other Daniel Lampheres.  There is a Daniel Lamphere, died 1854, buried in the Joshua/Lemuel Vose Lot in Westerly, near his two wives:  Nancy Ann, died 1832, and Fanny, died 1838.  Surely, that is the Daniel that was taken in as a child by Lemuel Vose in 1812.  I can find no last name for Nancy Ann – could she be Anna Tefft?

Looking at census records for Westerly, Rhode Island:

  • 1810:  no Daniel Lamphere head of household
  • 1820:  one Daniel Lamphere, household of a couple with three children
  • 1830:  one Daniel Lamphere, a household of 12
1810 Federal Census, Westerly, R.I., showing cousin Nathan Lamphere, cousin John Crandall, son Russell Lamphere (who may have been managing property but was usually living in Connecticut), and Anne Lamphere.  It seems likely that this was Nancy.

1810 Federal Census, Westerly, R.I., showing cousin Nathan Lamphere, cousin John Crandall, son Russell Lamphere (who may have been managing property but was usually living in Connecticut), and Anne Lamphere. It seems likely that this Anne was Nancy.  Courtesy of Ancestry.com, page 3 of 7 in Westerly.

My conclusions about Nancy Tefft

All along, I suspected that the Tefft books were simply placing my Nancy Tefft in the wrong generation, somehow.  But now, with evidence to substantiate what the book says, I am starting to think that A Partial Record is right about Nancy Tefft. She married a Daniel Lamphere, just not MY Daniel Lamphere.

But the bigger question is, how does this change my research:

  • Is the whole “Nancy Tefft” idea that I see mentioned over and over as my Daniel Lamphere’s wife a simple error based on the Tefft books, possibly encouraged by the neighboring properties, but really my ggggg-grandmother has a completely different surname?
  • Could there actually be two generations of Nancy Tefft/Daniel Lamphere marriages?
  • If her surname is not Tefft, how will I find other possibilities?

I think I have explored all of her deeds, and I am unable to find a death record, and probate for her seems unlikely since she essentially deeded her third of the farm to Nathan F. Dixon in 1817.  Based on the census, she seems to have lived past 1830.

All in all, the details in the book looked shoddy to me, but they turned out to be reliable enough that they are truly pointing in another direction.  Now I am left with a completely undocumented wife … essentially, starting over with her.

Next steps

  • Considering that I truly have no idea what her name is, look for new possibilities.  I have taken the Tefft suggestion much too seriously.  I will not even use it as a tentative name in the database anymore.
  • Keep searching for death, probate, subsequent deeds, census or burial info for Nancy.
  • Find out what happened to the first wife, Eunice – continue the search for a divorce record at the Rhode Island Judicial Archives, or death information for Eunice in other places.
  • Continue to explore the stories of each of the 15 children listed in the Westerly birth records for Daniel Lamphere.
westerly 7th day baptist

Old Seventh Day Baptist Church, Westerly. Some Lampheres were originally members, but there is no evidence that Daniel and Nancy were.


Westerly vital records are transcribed in James Arnold’s Vital Records of Rhode Island 1636-1850, which can all be found here – Westerly is in the second half of volume 5.

http://www.Findagrave.com, Vose Lot, also known as Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Westerly #023.

– The Lampheres

The NEHGS articles, available to members on the NEHGS website, http://www.americanancestors.org, or in many genealogically-oriented libraries, are the standard source for Lamphere generations one through three:

  • Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants.”  New England Historic Genealogical Register 153 (April 1999): 131-140.
  • Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants, Part 2.”  New England Historic Genealogical Register 159 (October 2005): 333-340.
  • Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants, Part 3.”  New England Historic Genealogical Register 160 (January 2006): 47-59.

The Ancestry of Harry E. Figgie, Jr., of Cleveland, Ohio by Patricia Law Hatcher.  Boston: Newbury Street Press, 2007.

Two sources commonly accessed by Lanphere researchers should be used with caution, since they are drafts only and contain many known errors and omissions:

  • The Lanphere Family Research Aid by Shirley (McElroy) Bucknum.  The Genealogical Society of Portland, Oregon, 1979, plus rev., 1981.  The author states there is no copyright on the book, so that it can be shared.  I will try to take better pictures of the booklet in the future and put it online, in the meantime, try this link to an archived pdf copy (all notes in this copy are by Scott Andrew Bartley).
  • The Lanphere and Related Families Genealogy by Edward Everett Lanphere.  Typewritten manuscript, 1970.  This is present in many genealogical library collections, but is also available at this link for subscribers to Ancestry.com.  The main section, starting on page 1, is called “The Lanphere Line”.  Googling that term may produce other online copies.

Tefft Ancestry– The Teffts

A Partial Record of the Descendants of John Tefft by Maria E Maxon Tefft Buffalo: Peter Paul Book Company, 1896.

The Tefft Ancestry, Comprising Many Hitherto Unpublished Records of Descendants of John Tefft of Portsmouth, Rhode Island by Charles H. W. Stocking.  Chicago: The Lakeside Press, 1904.

The Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island by John Osborne Austin – add. by G. Andrews Moriarty.  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1978.  Teffts are on p. 392-393.  Covers early generations only.

Sypher, Francis J.  “Ancestry of William Tefft of Herkimer and Oneida Counties”, The New York Biographical and Genealogical Record, v. 139 (2008) p. 95-102.

Hatcher, Pat.  “Peter Tefft and Occam’s Razor”, The New York Biographical and Genealogical Record, v. 139 (2008) p. 103-108.

Mathew, Linda L. “John Tefft and his Children: A Colonial Generation Gap?”, Rhode Island Roots, v. 18 1992, p. 76-80.

The Descendants of John Tefft (1614-1676) compiled by Rachel Saul Tefft.  Reprinted by Higginson Book Company, Salem, Massachusetts, 1997.  Accessed at the Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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