Archive for the ‘Lamphere’ Category

On Lanphere Road

While driving in Westerly one day I discovered a “Lanphere Road” running between Beach Street (Route 1A) and the Pawcatuck River.  It’s near the River Bend Cemetery.  I was curious about whether that could be the approximate location of my last Westerly ancestor, Russell Lanphere Sr., born 1776, and his parents, Daniel and Nancy Lanphere.  Locating Daniel and Nancy in Westerly might be a first step in finding the path of his descent from early Westerly resident George Lanphere.

I had previously investigated Daniel’s Westerly, Rhode Island deeds.

What the Deeds Told Me

My ggggg-grandfather Daniel Lanphere owned a farm in Westerly.  He bought and sold various parts of it over his lifetime.

From Westerly Land Evidences, v. 13, p. 361, entered July 5th, 1808 (written just before Daniel’s death):

  • “a certain tract of land situate in Westerly … containing … about sixty acres, the farm by me now improved”
  • “bounded as follows, to wit.  On the North by land belonging to David Lamphere, on the East by land belonging to Maxson Lamphere and land belonging to John Tefft on the South by the highway which heads from Pawcatuck bridge on the west by land belonging to Nicholas Vincent of New York.”
  • “premises with the buildings thereon standing and all the appurtenances thereunto belonging”

I have seen some suggestions that Daniel owned some of the original George Lanphere property allocated at the time the town was founded in the 1660’s, but haven’t been able to find evidence of  that yet.  I do have evidence that in 1669 George Lanphere possessed Lot 32 (contact me for the citation) but I have never seen a map plotting those original lots.

What the Map Told Me

Looking at a modern map one is struck by some of the streets surrounding Lanphere Road which are named for the early Westerly settlers; names that I saw over and over in the Westerly land records: Clark, Greenman, State.  This gives me the idea this area was settled early.

Lamphere Road courtesy of Google maps - it's actually Lanphere Road

Lamphere Road courtesy of Google maps – it’s actually Lanphere Road

“The road that leads to the Pawcatuck Bridge” could be some version of what is today Route 1A, Elm Street/Beach Street or, obviously, an earlier iteration of the road. Today the bridge is in the middle of downtown, separating Westerly from Pawcatuck.  It looks like the narrowest spot, and from the scanty evidence I’ve found, I think it was always in the same place.

The location of the present bridge over the Pawcatuck River, top, and Lanphere Road, near the bottom.

The location of the present bridge over the Pawcatuck River, top, and Lanphere Road, near the bottom.

A Visit to the Street

I visited Lanphere Road this week.  As you can see on the map, the road ends at the river.

Lanphere Road

The area has a few older houses amongst more modern houses, but my husband said when he was a kid, it was mostly woods.

Beach Street at the intersection of Lanphere Road

Beach Street at the intersection of Lanphere Road

There were mid-20th century houses, and perhaps a few earlier, on Lanphere Road.  Nothing looked very old … not that I expected to see my ancestors’ modest dwelling that was probably not new in 1810.  The only thing that really struck me was that it would seem impossible to describe land in this area without mentioning the Pawcatuck River.  And I did not remember any mention of the river itself in those deeds.  And one other thing, when I returned home and studied the map: how could Beach Road road EVER make the south border of a property?  It runs north/south.

Looking for Old Maps

I visited the Rhode Island Historical Society to see what older Westerly maps they might have. They had one from 1850 that covered the downtown (“village”) area only.  They had a Beers’ atlas containing maps of each town in Rhode Island from 1870; I cannot reproduce that Westerly map here but it can be nicely viewed at HistoricMapWorks.com.

I talked to the librarian (which is always advisable when looking for maps at the RIHS; some cataloging of the maps is still ongoing).  She asked if I had consulted Westerly and Its Witnesses by Frederick Denison (1878).  I explained there were no Westerly maps in the book.  She pointed out that my ancestor’s property might have been described.  I knew it wasn’t, specifically, but the idea stuck with me to check it over again carefully.  I read that book a long time ago.

Putting the Pieces Together … of Granite?

It was a string of clues in Westerly and Its Witnesses that ended up helping me.

First clue: A Lanphear cemetery on property owned by N.F. Dixon

A chapter on “Grave-Yards and Graves” listed a Lanphear cemetery described as follows:

Lanphear Ground (2).  This is located on the pasture land of the Hon. N. F. Dixon, on the southwest slope of Cormorant Hill, about midway between the residence of Rev. A.B. Burdick and Lanphear Hollow, and within view from the Potter Hill Road.

I suspected right away the name “N.F. Dixon” had somehow survived most of the 19th century. A Nathan F. Dixon (in 1810) was the purchaser of all of Daniel Lanphere’s property.  His name was mentioned over and over again in the deeds.  I went looking for him, and I learned that Westerly resident Nathan Fellows Dixon was at one time a U.S. Senator from Rhode Island, and his son and grandson, with the identical name, also had successful political careers.  The eldest Nathan Dixon, an attorney, moved to Westerly around 1802, according to the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.  It only makes sense that he would purchase local property as he established himself in Westerly.

Senator Nathan F. Dixon, courtesy of Wikipedia.  Well, at least our family property wasn't bought by some nobody.

Senator Nathan F. Dixon, courtesy of Wikipedia. Well, at least our family property wasn’t bought by some nobody.

Nathan Dixon appeared several times on the 1870 map, and one of the locations was near “Rev. A. B. Burdick” and Potter Hill Road, although I have never located anything called “Lanphear Hollow” or “Cormorant Hill.”   I checked the Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries site and it claims the Clark-Lamphear cemetery is on Route 3, Ashaway Road, “50 feet N of telephone pole #6248”.  I will check that out in the future; most historic cemeteries have a marker.  The N.F. Dixon property could, at one time, have had a southern border of the “road leading to the Pawcatuck Bridge.”  The “Potter Hill Road” location for the cemetery confused me, but perhaps “High Street” had previously been part of Potter Hill Road.

This was my idea after the first clue:

possible area of Lanphere property

possible area of Lanphere property

The second clue: finding landmarks that ARE on the 1870 map, in this case, granite quarries.

There was another cemetery description in Westerly and Its Witnesses that led me to investigate quarries:

AUSTIN GROUND: A few rods northeast from the Lanphear Ground, across the path leading to the quarry on Cormorant Hill  …

OK, now we have a mention of “Cormorant Hill” as the site of a quarry.

The third clue:  I looked for more information on the quarries and found them in the 1870 map.  

One quarry was described as “opened by Mr. Jonathan Lamphear and Mr. Ephraim Lamphear on Cormorant Hill, north of Lamphear Hollow.” While it is not on the map (I believe it may have been opened AFTER 1870), based on the quarry locations preceding this one, it could easily be in the location I mapped, above.

One of the quarries was on “Vincent Hill” – there is a good chance this was named for the neighbor mentioned in the deeds, Dr. Vincent (Dr. Vincent had come from New York, and was likely the first Vincent in Westerly).  The location of Vincent Hill (that quarry WAS on the map) is near one of the “N.L. Dixon” spots marked on the map. Knowing Dr. Vincent was to the west of Daniel Lanphere, and the road was to the south, I can now narrow down the property location.

In Conclusion

I now feel fairly confident that Daniel Lanphere’s property was here:

My best estimate of Daniel Lanphere's property, at this point.

My best estimate of Daniel Lanphere’s property, at this point.

My husband will be surprised when he sees this map.  When I met him, he was living a block away from there.

I would like to find evidence of Cormorant Hill, and Lamphear Hollow, to clarify this further.  The only clue that is NOT matching is that Potter Hill Road should be near the cemetery; however “High Street” (sometimes called “Upper High Street”) could have been part of Potter Hill Road at an earlier time.

I have to say good-bye to Lanphere Road.  George Lanphere and two of his sons had original lots in Westerly in 1669: George had #32, Richard Lanphere had #11, and Shadrack Lanphere had #24 (contact me for this citation).  Perhaps Lanphere Road originally belonged to one of those sons.

One New Connection

Westerly and Its Witnesses mentioned that there were about forty ancient unmarked graves in the Clark-Lanphear Cemetery.  It also listed six grave markers that were readable; among them, graves for Capt. Clark Lanphear and wife Wealthy, and second wife Keturah.

Hmm, Clark and Keturah Lanphear?  Why did I recognize those names?  Oh that’s right.  I have their son Reuben’s family bible sitting right beside me on the table.  But that’s a story for another day.

Next Steps

  • Use this valuable Westerly Deed index on USGenWeb to identify Westerly deeds I would like to see.
  • Check out other Westerly maps by consulting a librarian at the Westerly Public Library.
  • Look for more information about the original lots, and settler George Lanphere’s lot #32, and what happened to that.
  • Pursue the hunt for “Lanphear Hollow” and “Cormorant Hill.”
  • If necessary, use further resources about the Westerly granite industry to pin down the location of the Lanphere quarry.
  • Finish the blog post about the Lanphear family bible.

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Dixon House, Westerly, from Leading Businessmen of Westerly, Stonington, and Vicinity. Boston: Mercantile Publishing Co., 1889.

Dixon House, Westerly, from Leading Businessmen of Westerly, Stonington, and Vicinity. Boston: Mercantile Publishing Co., 1889.

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By Their Deeds

This is the story of how Westerly, Rhode Island Land Evidences helped me solve the puzzling problem of Daniel Lanphere.

One of my research goals at the Family History Library a few weeks ago was to seek information about Daniel Lanphere of Westerly, Rhode Island, the father of my gggg-grandfather Russell Lamphere.  I am related to him in the following way: my grandmother Edna Darling -> Russell Darling ->Emma Lamphere ->Russell Lamphere ->Russell Lamphere ->Daniel Lamphere.

I’ve been doing a literature search for several years. 

There is a source I trust for the first three generations of Westerly Lanpheres: the three New England Historic Genealogical Society articles by Scott Andrew Bartley (citations at bottom of this post).  But the poorly documented fourth and fifth generations, from a variety of sources including books and journals, vital records, census records, and probate, contain several Daniel Lanpheres.  [When not transcribing, I will spell the name Lanphere in the rest of this story.]

Probate and Vital Records were not solving it.

Probate records first came to my attention thanks to a mention in the Rhode Island Genealogical Register, vol. 16, Will Index, p. 174.

Daniel’s probate record did not specify his descendants except for his son Russell of Norwich “oldest son in these parts” along with mentions of his wife, Nancy.  That always confused me, because Russell was the oldest son, period, according to the Westerly vital records.  Russell is the oldest of six siblings born to Daniel and Nancy Lanphere, as seen here:

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

I travelled to Westerly to view the probate file myself, as mentioned in my previous post on Daniel Lanphere.  That didn’t help.  This is a classic case of a probate record being a little vague and Rhode Island vital records not being complete, complicated by the fact that there are several individuals with the name Daniel Lanphere.

And then I found the deeds.

When I got to the Family History Library and all that microfilm, I started with the Westerly Land Evidence records I was most sure about, that mentioned Daniel and his son Russell (quite recognizable because Russell moved to Norwich/Plainfield Connecticut, and was married to Lydia, things I proved long ago).

Daniel Lanphere mortgaged property to son Russell in 1808:

I Daniel Lamphere of Westerly … in consideration of the sum of two hundred dollars received of Russell Lamphere of Norwich [Connecticut] …have sold conveyed and confirmed … to him the same Russell Lamphere his heirs and assigns forever a certain tract of land situate in Westerly … containing … about sixty acres, the farm by me now improved … bounded as follows, to wit.  On the North by land belonging to David Lamphere, on the East by land belonging to Maxson Lamphere and land belonging to John Tefft on the South by the highway which heads from Pawcatuck bridge on the west by land belonging to Nicholas Vincent of New York.  To have and to hold the above granted … premises with the buildings thereon standing and all the appurtenances thereunto belonging … Provided nevertheless … I the said Daniel Lamphere well and truly pay the aforesaid sum … then this deed to be null and void …  In witness whereof … fourth day of July 1808, in presence of Nathan F. Dixon, William Lamphere.                    — Daniel Lamphere        — Westerly Land Evidences, v. 13, p. 361, entered July 5th, 1808

The index at the front of volume 13 makes it clear that Russell gave the mortgage to his father

The index at the front of volume 13 makes it clear that Russell gave the mortgage to his father

Daniel died a few months after the mortgage was granted.  Russell became the Administrator of the estate.

… I Russell Lanphere Administrator on the estate of Daniel Lanphere late of Westerly … by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Supreme Judicial Court of the said State at their April term for said county of Washington AD 1810 and pursuant to the direction of the court of probate of said Town of Westerly, and for and in consideration of the sum of ninety dollars to me in hand … well and truly paid by Nathan F. Dixon of said Westerly … the highest bidder at public auction for the estate hereby conveyed holden on the 23rd day of August AD 1810 … have sold …  which the said Daniel Lanphere at the time of his decease … a certain piece or lot of land bounded as follows … thence east to [empty space] Tiffts Land … containing nine acres.    In witness whereof —  Priscilla Dixon, Joseph Eaton — Windham County [Connecticut], Plainfield, Joseph Eaton, Justice of the Peace, Windham County               — Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 220, entered Nov 14 1814 Jesse Maxson, Town Clerk

So I have clearly identified my gggg-grandfather Russell’s link to this exact Daniel. 

So now I know the neighbors in this era are Maxson Lanphere, David Lanphere, John Tefft, and Nicholas Vincent.  There is other evidence to suggest, but not prove, that John Tefft is Daniel’s father-in-law.

The next deed showed that Russell sold the property (except for the portion his mother Nancy had by widow’s rights) to Nathan F. Dixon. 

… I Russell Lanpher of Plainfield in the County of Windham in the State of Connecticut  yeoman for and in consideration of four hundred and ten dollars received … of Nathan F. Dixon Esq of Westerly … a certain [piece or parcel of land situate in said Westerly containing by estimation about sixty acres … bounded northerly on David Lanphere’s land.  Easterly on land of Maxson Lanphere and [empty space] Tifft southerly by the highway and westerly by land owned by Sally and Phoebe Carr.  And I covenant … that I am well seized of such Estate under a deed of mortgage dated the fourth day of July [1808] … executed … by Daniel Lanphere late of Westerly deceased… which mortgage was executed to me as collateral security of a certain note of hand the same day executed by said Daniel Lanphere to me for the sum of two hundred dollars with interest annually payable in one year from the date thereof which mortgage deed I do hereby assign to the said Dixon …  I Russell Lanphere … do covenant … I am well seized and possessed of six undivided thirteenths of said estate by deed thereof subject only to my mother Nancy Lanphere‘s dower… and I Lydia Lanphere wife of said Russell Lanphere do release … all right of dower and power of thirds … this 30th day of December [no year given] …      Russell Lanphere and Lydia Lanphere her mark  In presence of Priscilla Dixon, Jeremiah Thinsman  Windham County, Plainfield, Joseph Eaton, Justice of the Peace, County of Windham …            — Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 221, entered Nov 16 1814 Jesse Maxson, Town Clerk

Russell and Lydia's signatures on the sale

Russell and Lydia’s signatures on the sale

Here is where I got a little confused.  Russell owned SIX UNDIVIDED THIRTEENTHS of the property?  Why would the property be split thirteen ways?  There were six children.

The next entry was very startling.

… Whereas I Joseph Crumb of Grafton in the County of Windham in the State of Vermont by virtue of five several powers of attorney to me executed by

  • one George Lamphere of Royalton [Vermont]… dated … the eighteenth day of December [1810] …
  • one executed by John Clarke and Marcy his wife of Lydon in the county of  Hampshire, State of Massachusetts [June 18th 1811] …
  • one executed by Jesse Lanphere of Plainfield in the County of Grafton in the State of New Hamshire [30 May 1811] …
  • one executed by Eliphalet Davis and Eunice his wife of Royalton [Windham, Vermont] [18 Dec 1810] …
  • one executed by Nimrod Lamphere and Roda his wife of Petersburgh in the County of Renssliere and State of New York [6 March 1811]

being authorized to sell their right in an undivided tract of land situate in Westerly … which they inherited from Daniel Lanphere late of Westerly deceased the said George Lanpher, Marcy Clarke, Jesse Lanphiere, Eunice Davis and Roda Lamphier being five of the children and heirs at law of Daniel Lanphiere deceased. … in consideration of one hundred dollars received from Russell Lanpher … give … all the rights of interest they have … in an undivided tract or parcel of land by estimation fifty-one acres … bounded as follows on the North by land belonging to David Lanphere, on the East by land belonging to Maxson Lanphere … land belonging to John Tifft … land belonging to the Grantee on the South of the highway which leads from the Pawcatuck Bridge on the West to land lately owned by Nicholas Vincent … free of all incumbrances except a mortgage deed executed to the said Russell Lanphere … and the widows right of dower … I set my hand [20 June 1811]  — Joseph Crumb  In presence of Nathan F Dixon, Isaac Champlin  .. and whereas the said Joseph Crumb having intermarried with Prudence Lanphere daughter and one of the heirs at law of Daniel deceased … sold to Russell her share of the estate … agrees he will … deliver her deed thereof …             — Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 222, entered Nov 17 1814 Jesse Maxson, Clerk

So the deed, above, lays out six more children of the same Daniel Lanphere. 

They are: George, Marcy, Jesse, Eunice, and Roda, as well as Prudence (married to Joseph Crumb).  The first five sold their portion of their father’s estate to Russell Lanphere for $20 each.

But I’ve never heard of any of them.  I spent the afternoon wandering through the “Daniel” section of my Lanphere research binder, and my digital records of Lanphere books and documents.

There was another Daniel Lanphere of Westerly, married to Eunice, with the following family, pictured below as they appear in Arnold’s Vital Records of Rhode Island, volume 5, page 111:

Daniel and Eunice Lanphere

Daniel and Eunice Lanphere

I knew my Daniel was married to a Nancy, so I had always assumed THIS Daniel was not my ancestor.  But the children’s names match, except for the name “Marcy.”  Several of the named spouses match Westerly vital records. 

So Daniel had TWO families, one 1759-1772 and the other 1776 – 1808.  To my knowledge, no one has identified these two as being the same person, with wife (1) Eunice and wife (2) Nancy. 

In this next record, widow Nancy gets her “thirds”:

… Whereas Daniel Lanpher late of Westerly deceased died seized of a certain small farm or tract of land situate in Westerly … Nancy Lanpher … was the wife of Daniel … entitled to one third part of said farm … whereas it is agreed by the widow and the sd Dixon together with William Lanphere another of the heirs at law to submit the assignment of said dower …  to set out and assign to the widow her dower or third part of the estate …  — Nancy Lanpher her mark, Nathan F. Dixon, Wm Lanpher … set off to the said Nancy the whole of the west part of the dwelling house wherein she now lives …  the North Pasture so called, bounded … the fence or wall … to the head of the Lane leading to the house … a small garden to the southward of the Crib containing about a rod of ground … to be used in a prudent manner …  Witness Wm Rhoades, Joseph Pendleton        — Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 223, entered Nov 17 1814 Jesse Maxson, Clerk

Another daughter, Nancy (daughter of Nancy; married to George Crocker) appears to sell her share to widow Nancy:

… We George Crocker and Nancy Crocker wife of the said George in Waterford in the County of New London in the state of Connecticut … for … the sum of twenty dollars … paid by Nancy Lanphere widow and relict late of Westerly …  a parcel of land with a dwelling house and barn thereon standing … containing forty nine acres … the late homestead farm which … the late Daniel Lanphere died seized and possessed which we hold be virtue of the said Nancy Crocker being a lineal descendant and lawful heir to the said Daniel Lanphere deceased. —Nancy Crocker, George Crocker In presence of David G Otis, George Williams August 25th 1815     — Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 259, entered September 8 1815 Jesse Maxson, Clerk

And then the heirs I knew about, the other children of Daniel and Nancy, sell their shares to Nathan Dixon:

… We William Lanphere, Triphenia Lanphere, Daniel Lanphere and Milly Lanphere all of Westerly … children and heirs at law of Daniel Lanphere late of said Westerly deceased for the consideration of twenty dollars received by each of us of Nathan Dixon of Westerly … quit claim … to said Nathan Dixon  … our respective shares in the Real Estate of which our said father Daniel Lanphere died seized of … being a tract of land where the said deceased last dwelt containing about sixty acres … bounded as follows … land belonging to David Lanphere … land belonging to Maxson Lanphere … land belonging to John Tefft … the highway which leads from the Pawcatuck Bridge … land now owned by the Miss Carrs formerly owned by Doct. Vincent.  … premises with the buildings thereon … we are each of us seized of the undivided thirteenth part of said tract of land …   — William Lanpher, Triphina Lanphear her mark, Daniel Lanphear, Permily Lanphear … In presence of Thomas Noyes 2d, Joseph Pendleton, Enoch Lanphear … April 14 & 18, 1815       — Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 310, entered September 20 1815 Jesse Maxson, Clerk

In 1817, widow Nancy appears to sell a great deal of her property to Nathan Dixon, with a kind of reverse mortgage arrangement:

… I Nancy Lanphere widow of Daniel Lanphere … in consideration of the sum of twenty five dollars to be paid by Nathan F. Dixon … each and every year … annually … during the period of my natural life … all the right … which I have in the estate … (except the part of the dwelling house where I now live …) I do release to the sd Dixon … Nancy Lanphere her cross  — In presence of Ichabod Taylor, Priscilla Dixson … April the 25 AD1817     — Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 349, entered May 10 1817 Jesse Maxson, Clerk

The Daniel who married Eunice (Wise?), often called Daniel, Jr, is usually purported to be the son of Daniel (and Catherine Prosser), descended from John2 and George1. 

The property itself certainly seems to back up this theory, I see signs from various other deeds that I copied that it descended directly from George to John to Daniel to Daniel. Several of the neighbors are also descendants of John2.   My husband, who is a Westerly native, plans to help me find the locations mentioned and pinpoint this land.  And further Westerly records, and old maps, will probably clarify these relationships.

In Summary

I am thrilled to have made a previously unknown connection in the Lamphere line.  If this had been in the probate records, I would have found it long ago.  It was the deeds that showed me the story.

Next Steps:

  • Each of Daniel’s families seems to have a son, Daniel.  I have no evidence that the first Daniel died before the second was born, so I should look for that.
  • I have no evidence of the first wife’s death.  There is no vital record for that, but I might be able to find a burial record for her.
  • Likewise I have no record of either marriage in the vital records (other than the sets of children) but I will continue to pursue that
  • The first wife may be Eunice Wise but I do not know the real source of that information.
  • Explore the neighbor, John Tefft, who may be the widow Nancy’s father (or, perhaps, a brother)
  • Prove the parents of Daniel.


All land records are from Westerly Land Evidences, volumes 9 – 14.  The list of FHL microfilms containing these records can be found here.

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.

The NEHGS articles, available to members on the NEHGS website, http://www.americanancestors.org:

  • 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.

Robinson, Vera M., transcribed by.  “The 1774 Census of Rhode Island: Charlestown and Westerly.” Rhode Island Roots 29 (December 2003): p. 197.

Two sources commonly accessed by Lanphere researchers, should be used with caution:

  • The Lanphere Family Research Aid by Shirley (McElroy) Bucknum.  The Genealogical Society of Portland, Oregon, 1979.  Re-reading her introduction just now, I see that she 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.  For now, it is available in many genealogy libraries.
  • 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.

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Recently, on a trip to the Providence Public Library, I found obituaries for Russell and Hannah Lamphere from the Providence Journal.  I was surprised to see that they were buried in their home town of Norwich, Connecticut.  Later, online, I found a list of all those buried in cemeteries that (now) belong to the town of Norwich.  The 976 page pdf of the list (available as a link here) contained Russell and Hannah’s names, and pointed to Section 6, Plot 9 at the Yantic Cemetery, Norwich.

At the Cemetery

This is taken from the cemetery map at the entrance to Yantic Cemetery:

Section 6, Lot 9

The plot has several markers visible, and most likely more burials in the rest of the space.

The area of Plot 9

I have now been there twice.  There are two small markers which may or may not designate where Russell and Hannah are buried; one has initials, the other is more worn.

One of the small markers may have the initials “L R”

The rounded marker in the back is for James D. Lamphere who I believe is Russell’s brother.

James D. Lanphere

“In memory of my husband, James D. Lanphere, born Oct. 14, 1829, died January 27, 1887.  Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.”  James left a widow, Mary, and a stepdaughter.

The first (tilted) marker up front is for Russell’s sister Lydia (Lamphere) Palmer, who died fairly young.

Lydia Lamphere Palmer

“Lydia, wife of Henry Palmer, died in Greenville, Nov. 19 1852, aged 45.  —   Mother.”

This brings us to the fifth marker.  It’s a mystery, but since Russell’s wife and mother are still among my mystery women, any information is useful.

The photography lesson

The first time I saw the marker, I took pictures that I couldn’t decipher.

hard to read my first set of pictures

I consulted genealogy friends on Facebook.  Turns out this is a controversial topic, and I got lots of conflicting advice.  When I went today, two of the suggestions worked great.

  • Wet the marker (I had a bottle of water in the car leftover from a recent trip)
  • Photograph in bright sunlight (the sun was going in and out of the clouds, so I waited for it to be right)

This was the result:

Margaret (Gaslin) Bassett

“Margaret Gaslin  widow of Barnabas Bassett  DIED  March 7, 1854 aged 76”

The difference is incredible. Both in person and in photographs, it became much easier to read.

So that was a lot of work just to figure out that the marker belonged to the next plot (#10), the Bassett plot. Which leads me to believe the other tiny, unmarked gravestone may belong to the Bassetts.  Leaving just 3 markers in the Lamphere plot.

Although there are no additional markers, the master list also included in that plot Harry H. Hill and Frank A. Hill.  Those are not names I recognize.

Original Cemetery Records

I also stopped at the Norwich Town Hall to look, once again, for a death record for Russell Lamphere’s mother, Lydia Miner, in 1849 (the death record I have is from The Norwich Aurora).  I didn’t find one.

But I did notice, among some miscellaneous volumes in the records room, an original sales/burial book from Yantic Cemetery detailing some later-sold sections with numbers in the mid-100’s.  My section was 6.  I looked everywhere, and asked if there were earlier volumes, but the clerk could not find any.

What’s Next

  • I will investigate the Hills a little more thoroughly, but there’s always the possibility they were sold spots in the plot but are not related to my family.
  • The original Yantic Cemetery sales records may be somewhere, like a local historical society.  I’ll keep looking.
  • The map says “R and W Lamphere” but I can’t account for a “W Lamphere”.
  • I do not know where Russell’s parents, Russell and Lydia, are buried.  Need to keep exploring that.
  • As I somehow expected, Russell’s loyal associate, Congressman John Turner Waite, who submitted a War Reparations bill for Russell three times in the 1880’s, is also buried in Yantic Cemetery.  I am thinking of approaching the New London Historical Society for more information about him.

John Turner Wait

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It’s been a busy week – I’ve visited four sites in three days.

Westerly, Rhode Island Town Hall

The question:  I am looking for property deeds or other information for Daniel Lanphere, who died in Westerly in 1808.

Westerly Town Hall

Daniel Lamphere is the father of my gggg-grandfather, Russell Lamphere, Sr.  I am seeking more clues about Daniel Lamphere’s parents.  I have Daniel’s 1808 probate records, which don’t help on that point, so I thought I would try to see where his property came from.

I was unable to find all the records I wanted, and time ran out, so I think I will just re-group and re-analyze everything I do have.  One highlight of the day was finding Russell Sr’s original birth record – I’ve only seen transcriptions.

Russell their Eldest Son born December the 2nd AD 1776.

The siblings are:  Russell Lanphere 1776, Marcy Lanphere 1782, William Lanphere 1785, Nancy Lanphere 1787, Triphena Lanphere 1789, and Daniel Lanphere 1793 (?).

I was thrilled to find this because there is quite a gap between Russell and his next sibling, Marcy, and I always wondered if it had been correctly transcribed.  I have never found a marriage record for the parents, Daniel and Nancy.  Her name is sometimes mentioned as Tefft.  The old Tefft genealogy seems to support this theory, but the years don’t quite work out.  So, any documentation I can get is good.

Coincidentally, I ran into some Tefft researchers at the town hall.  While they couldn’t help exactly, it sure was fun meeting them.  And they said something nice about people who write blogs!  What a good day.

Seeing this list makes me realize that I don’t know too much about most of these siblings; I have found them to be hard to trace.  I think it would be worthwhile to try some more.

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My search for the story of my ggg-grandfather Russell Lamphere’s 20-year stay in Alabama before, during, and after the Civil War has had two recent developments.

1. Russell Lamphere files a claim for Civil War losses

John Turner Wait

Congressman John Turner Wait (Norwich, Connecticut) filed H.R.5889 on April 19, 1880 for War Claims relief for Russell Lamphere.  This past winter I was able to view the bill on microfilm at the Boston Public Library.

Have you ever sat at a microfilm machine in a quiet library and shouted “WHAT!!”  Well that’s the embarrassing thing that happened (and luckily no worse) when I saw the amount  of the claim – $50,000, in 1880.  I’m quite sure that no funds were ever received.  But it made me curious about three things:

H.R.5889 A Bill for the Relief of Russell Lamphere

  • What was the business Russell owned?  I later learned, through microfilm, that around 1859-1860, he owned a tin and metalworking shop.  Was that it?
  • On what was this huge claim based?  Thanks to the efforts of a “research buddy”, I learned that the National Archives does not have any details of this bill, other than the bill itself.  Whatever documentation had existed is not there.  I have not completely given up finding information somewhere else.  I’ve really only begin to look.
  • What was Russell’s relationship to Congressman Wait?  I suspect Congressman Wait was related to Russell or possibly Hannah.  At the time the bill was filed (and refiled two more times) Russell lived in Providence, Rhode Island, not in Wait’s district at all.

Russell’s exact ancestry in the Lamphere line is something I have not settled yet, and Hannah’s ancestry is uncertain, so all clues are welcome.  There is one here — Congressman John Turner Wait shares a name with one of the five associates mentioned in Russell’s grandfather – (Daniel Lamphere’s) will – Wait Clarke. Clues like that may mean nothing.  But they’re kind of fun.

And one last issue confuses me – I think that those who filed claims for war reparations needed to be loyal northerners whose property was confiscated or destroyed by the northern army during the war.  I’m really not so sure that applies to Russell, since I’ve seen his name on a local militia sign-up.  Was he just lying?  Until and unless I find the backup of that bill, I’ll never know.

2. I find a link to a cotton mill

Tin shop aside, I’ve always wondered how Russell’s skills as a cotton mill overseer (noted in 1843 birth record for daughter and 1880 census) were used during his stay in Alabama. I suspect he may have used his metal-crafting skills to maintain machinery in mills.  I’ve never been able to connect him to a cotton mill in Alabama.  At last, I found something, but it’s pretty strange.  Is there any part of this story that’s not unexpected?

Last night I saw that there were some new Alabama vital records added to familysearch.org.  Although I have almost no official Alabama records, I always check, so I looked up Lamphere (and many other spellings).  I was surprised when something came up:

“Alabama, County Marriages, 1809-1950,”  William Lanphere, 1859

William Lanphere marriage

William Lamphere is Russell and Hannah Lamphere’s oldest son, born in Connecticut.  Apparently he married Bridget A. Hearn or Bridget O’Hearn – I’m not sure – on January 7, 1859.  I don’t think the $200 “bond” was anything but a formality; it’s on every record.  Note that the record is from Mobile County – far to the south of Tuscaloosa.

What I found on the back of the record was the surprising part:

William Lanphere marriage-page 2

The location of the wedding was the “Dog River Factory”.  Now I’ve had a lot of non-church weddings in my ancestor’s files, in fact, mostly non-church weddings.  But in a factory?  with the inelegant name of Dog River?

I thought about this for a while and realized that in the mid 1800’s many factories were surrounded by factory housing, thereby becoming villages, so I tried to find out about this Dog River Factory area.

I found two sources:

  • a master’s thesis on antebellum cotton manufacturing (Miller, Randall M. The Cotton Mill Movement in Antebellum Alabama. New York: Arno Pr, 1978. Print. Preview available on Google Books)
  • a report of an 1853 outbreak of yellow fever in the village (1853 YELLOW FEVER DEATHS NEAR THE DOG RIVER COTTON FACTORY & ST. STEPHEN’S ROAD. From: Report on the epidemic yellow fever of 1853. New Orleans. Sanitary Commission 1854)

Caring for yellow fever patients, Mississippi, 1870

What I learned was the factory began as a cotton mill around 1849.  To quote from the second (1853, “Yellow Fever”) source:

The Dog River Cotton Factory is situated Southwest of Mobile, about five miles, and has within its inclosure of some twenty or thirty acres, about 300 operatives, including their families. The houses are built in a hollow square, and form a complete village.

From the first (“Cotton Mill” source):

[p. 73]  Two cotton factors, Garland Goode and William Ledyard, joined [Phillip] Phillips as directors and purchased the summer property of James Battle, on 35 acres on Dog River.

[p. 74] During the summer of 1849, the owners laid the cornerstone of Dog River Factory, and by April, 1850 the mill was ready to receive cotton machinery. …  The original factory contained 176 looms on the first floor, 40 cards on the second, and 5040 spindles on the third with additional machinery where necessary.  A motor-driven conveyor system transferred the work from one room to another.

[p. 75] The owners purchased the cotton machinery “of the most improved kind” and in “the very best style” from the Mattewan Works of New York …  By the end of the year 1850, Dog River Factory was in complete operation.  The factory manufactured Osnaburg, sheetings and yarns, which it marketed in Mobile.  The owners usually hired female white labor to run the spindles, although in 1850, most employees were men … The 1850 census reveals that with but two exceptions skilled positions at the Dog River Factory were occupied by natives of the British Isles or the Northern states.”

By 1853 a change in management and a fire (and resulting long wait for replacement machinery from the North) caused a delay in profitability until at least 1857.  More famously, the factory was the scene of a Civil War encampment, and may or may not have been a weapons factory during the war.  But that’s not a part of my story.

Girl working at cotton mill

All of this gives me some idea that the factory might have taken young William (born in 1840) on as a factory hand, although the factory seems so remote from his home in Tuscaloosa. Did they have a connection to it? A more remote possibility is that the wife was from Dog River Factory and they went down there for the wedding. The thing I am quite sure about is that Russell’s family did not live in Mobile during 1859-1860 since I have newspapers that show his residence in Tuscaloosa.

All of this evidence is contradicted by William’s appearance in the 1860 federal census with Russell’s family in Tuscaloosa (with no Bridget).  But there were very few Lampheres (of any spelling) in Alabama at that time, so I have little or no doubt that this William/Russell father and son combo are the right ones.  I wonder if by any chance, Bridget died.

Any actual evidence is extremely valuable to me. Dog River Factory ties the family, once again, to cotton mill work … I wonder what it means?

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I have come to realize over the last few months that three problems:

  • Hannah (Andrews) Lamphere’s parents, Jesse and Sarah Andrews
  • Lydia (Minor) Lamphere’s parents
  • the unknown Lamphere line from which my ggggg-grandfather Daniel Lamphere descends

are not all that separate, and will probably be solved, ultimately, in tandem.

I am descended from them in the following way:

  • my great-grandfather Russell Darling
  • –his mother Emma Luella Lamphere
  • —-her father Russell Lamphere (and mother Hannah Andrews)
  • ——his father Russell Lamphere (and mother Lydia Minor)
  • ——–his father Daniel Lamphere (died 1808)

For a long time I thought that Daniel Lamphere was the son of another Daniel Lamphere of Westerly, R.I.  But I learned I was wrong after reading some wills from Westerly; the elder Daniel did have a son Daniel, but THAT Daniel had a wife named Wealthia, who signed a receipt.  My Daniel has a wife named Nancy (possibly Nancy Tefft).

Town Hall and Fire Station, Westerly

Reviewing the literature

I looked over the good sources for Lamphere information (all available to members on the NEHGS website, http://www.americanancestors.org):

  • 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.

Because of my interest in Shadrack Lanphere I consulted this article about his wife, Experience Read’s family:

  • Jane Belcher. “William Reed of Weymouth and Boston Massachusetts, and Some of His Descendants – Continued from volume 40, #1.”  The Connecticut Nutmegger 40 (September 2007): 182-221.

At this point I realized that my most recent theory about descending from Shadrack Lanphere  (Daniel4, Oliver3, Shadrack2, George1), and several other theories,  just didn’t match what was in those articles.

I was wrong, so wrong

So I decided to go back to what I absolutely know and start over from there.

Here are some sections of my ggggg-grandfather Daniel’s probate record:

Westerly, Rhode Island Town Council and Probate.  Vol 6/8 1798-1811, p. 350-352.

At a Court of Probate held in Westerly in the County of Washington at the dwelling house of Nancy Lanphere (widow) Relict of Daniel Lanphere Late of said Westerly deceased. December 23, 1808 Being specially convened for the purpose of appointing an Administration on the Estate of the said Daniel Deceased.  Elias Cottrell, John Cross, and Joseph Stillman present holding said court.

Personally appeared before said Court the aforesaid Nancy Lanphere and declined administration on said deceased’s Estate and requested that her son Russell Lanphere (he being the eldest son of said deceased in these parts) might have the Administration of said Estate.  Which request being duly considered by said court is granted and the said Russell is thereupon appointed.  His complying with the law bonds given in Court.  The Court doth appoint John Cross, Maxson Lanphere, and Wait Clarke to appraise the Personal Estate of said Deceased and make an inventory thereof.  The said Maxson Lanphere and Wait Clarke personally appeared before sd. Court and Engaged.

Witness Jesse Maxson Jr. P. Clerk.

To All Persons to whom these Presents Shall come Greeting.

We the Court of Probate for the Town of Westerly in the County and State aforesaid.  By virtue of the power by law Vested in us do hereby give, grant and empower Russell Lanphere late of Westerly, but now residing in Norwich in the County of New London, State of Connecticut, Administrator, to Administer on all and singular the Goods, Chattels rights & credits of Daniel Lanphere late of said  Westerly deceased.  …

The estate totaled $153.83.

So I am curious about the people mentioned in the probate record.  Some of them may be acting in an official capacity, but are the others close connections?  I spent the day learning more about them.  Westerly was a fairly small town, and their names are well known.  Of all of them, I found direct connections to two:

  • Maxson Lanphere – he descends in the Lanphere line this way:  (Maxson4, Nathan3, John2, George1).  His wife was Anna Champlin.
  • Wait Clarke – his wife was Abigail Lanphere (Abigail5, Nathan4, Nathan3, John2, George1).   Abigail’s mother was Sarah Saunders.  A lifelong Seventh Day Baptist, Wait died in Niles, New York.

Old Westerly Seventh Day Baptist church, built circa 1680

There’s a book about this

Amazingly, after figuring this out, I managed to find a reminiscence about this branch of the family in the following book:  Scenes, Memories and Travels of 82 Years, and Short Sketches of the Lanphear and Potter Families by Ethan Lanphear, published by the author (c1900). The author was among the many Lanphere branches that headed to New York State in the 1800’s.  The Lanphear chapter begins on page 369.

This is how the book begins:

I WAS born in Westerly, R. I., March 2, 1818. My parents were Samuel and Hannah Lanphear. We moved with an ox team and sheet-covered wagon from Potters Hill, R. I., to Alfred, Allegany Co., N. Y. The country was mostly wilderness after crossing the Hudson River at Albany until we reached the end of our journey, five hundred miles. My parents then had three children, all boys, myself the youngest. My mother’s sister and her husband, Amos Crandall, took passage with us, the goods of both families being on the same wagon. We worked our way through the wilderness to Alfred in about eighteen or twenty days, camping out nights, or sleeping in the wagon, when we could not find logs huts to cover our heads. Then there was not a frame building in that town. The earliest settlers nearly all lived in logs huts or shanties. It was a wild country, and the settlers had to meet hard fare, barely living on wild game and wild fruit.

Ethan descends this way: (Ethan5, Samuel4, Nathan3, John2, George1).

Ethan Lanphear and his present wife – from the book, c1900

So what do we know?

Obviously, I don’t know what this means yet.  But the fact that a certain branch of the family gathered round for Daniel Lanphere’s inventory seems very significant to me.  Next steps:

  1. Use every means possible to learn about the descendants of  John2 Lanphear.
  2. Learn more about the ancestry of Wait Clarke.  It’s a story for another day, but I believe we have a later connection with the Wait family.

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The photo of the church is from a 1922 Tract courtesy of a site that provides a history of the Sabbath Day churches. 

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