Stephenson Update

April 9, 2010

George Wold Stephenson

During the past week, I have been in contact with two of my Stephenson 4th cousins.  My 3rd great-grandfather was George Stephenson (1774-1846), who lived in Lincolnshire, England.  He and his wife Elizabeth Wold (W0uld) had 12 children.  My ancestor was George Wold Stephenson (1813-1896), who immigrated to the US and settled in St. Johns, Michigan.  Most of my records follow this line.  Another son of George and Elizabeth was Absolam Wold Stephenson (1798-1854), whose son John Absalom Stephenson (1840-1921) immigrated to Australia.  His descendant Frazer Stephenson has established a family tree The Stephenson Family Tree- Australia on  Another son of George and Elizabeth was David (1802-1875), whose family remained in England.  His descendant Patrick Stephenson has set up The Stephenson Family Tree, also on  Much of the Stephenson information and pictures  from my blog are now also available on these two trees.  

 To make it easier to collaborate, I have now up-loaded my Stephenson data and have a family tree George Wold Stephenson Descendants on Ancestry.  We are working to combine data on these three trees to form more complete records on the Stephensons.  If you are not a subscriber to, please respond in a comment to this post.  I can add you as a guest on and you can view what information is available. 

St. Mary's Church, Horncastle, Lincolnshire, England

This summer Sandra and I will spend time in Europe, including a brief visit to Horncastle and Hogsthorpe.  I will share our findings when we return.  Since we are traveling using airline miles, our itinerary is determined  by available flights, rather than the time we would like to spend.  Three days would be more appropriate.  The good thing is that Horncastle and Hogsthorpe, where our Stephenson ancestors lived, are very small and have few cemeteries and churches.  Hopefully, we can cover a lot in the short period.  I have communicated with Pat Stephenson, my 4th cousin mentioned above, and we will try to make contact during our brief stop in England.

A few months ago I wrote a blog, comparing genealogy in my father’s time and in mine.  Thanks to resources such as, three distant cousins on three continents can now easily collaborate on virtually a real time basis to build an extensive genealogical data base.  How times have changed!


Plowman Poetry: Song of the Little Old Rocker

August 18, 2009


This poem was written by George Fawcett Plowman in 1908.  George was one of the eleven children of William Tuthill Plowman.  He was also brother to Lide Plowman who wrote extensively about her early life in rural Michigan.  George writes this poem about Lucy, his wife, and her rocker, no doubt also remembering his mother and her rocker.
George and Lucy Plowman

George and Lucy Plowman

Song of the Little Old Rocker

By George Plowman


Here I am, dressed out anew,

In nineteen hundred eight.

Not many of my early chums

Can boast of such a fate.


I’ve helped to soothe the restless child

When the fire was burning bright,

With a ruddy blaze and glowing coals,

By the fireplace at night.


I’ve heard the hum of the spinning wheel

As the housewife made it fly,

While she drew the thread out from the roll

And hummed a lullaby.


I’ve watched the reel, reel off the skein

When the spindle full had got

And listened for the little click,

The signal for the knot.


I’ve seen the skein stretched on the swifts

And the swifts go whirling round

As the quillwheel turned the shuttle’s quill

And the yarn on the quill was wound.


I’ve listened to the noisy loom

Beneath a lowly roof,

While the shuttle through the warp would fly

And the lathe bang up the woof.


This all I’ve seen and heard, and more,

I’ve seen the forest wane,

And by the woodman’s axe to fade

Into a fertile plain.


I’ve rocked the babies now grown old

And the babies they have born

And I’ll be rocking babies still

When Gabriel blows his horn.


The different coats that I have had,

To know would be a shocker,

Though now disguised with Japalac,

I’m Lucy’s same old rocker. 

Plowman Poetry: Memories of the Old Stove

August 17, 2009


This undated poem was written by Sarah Elizabeth Plowman, known to her family as “Sate.”  The poem was written to her neice Luna May Plowman, daughter of Charles Nelson Plowman.  Charles and Sate were both children of William Tuthill Plowman.  The last stanza of the poem refers to a “souvenir.”   The Plowmans often wrote poetry to accompany gifts at Christmas, birthdays, and other special occasions.  We do not know what the souvenir was.

Sarah Elizabeth "Sate" Plowman

Sarah Elizabeth "Sate" Plowman

Memories of the Old Stove

by Sate Plowman


Way back in old Westphalia

When we were young and gay,

When brothers too and sisters

Wore the common home-spun gray,


Our happy brother Charlie

So strong in hand and arm

Had left the dear old homestead

Moved on his Riley farm.


To us other numerous children

It always seemed a treat

To visit this dear brother

And around his board to eat.


They always set a table

Good enough for any king,

For what ever there was needed,

He would always gladly bring.


His wife was kind and thrifty

And of pies, baked not a few,

For of fruit he furnished plenty,

Both to bake and also stew.


Now soon they found their oven

Quite too small for their demand,

And they planned to buy another

Either new or second-hand.


So now this happy brother

To an auction found his way;

I think he will remember

For it was his lucky day.


It was there he found the creature

They always called, “Old Dutch,”

Of milk she gave a plenty

And of butter they made much.


There too, a fine large stove he found,

‘Twas just as good as new,

The oven large and roomy

The fire-box ample too.


But as the years went fleeting by

They made another change,

This stove now old, was set aside,

For the bright and modern range. 


Our brother’s oldest daughter

With a voice quite sad and low,

While looking at the old stove, said,

“I am sorry to see it go.”


When a very little maiden

With her round and dimpled cheek,

By it’s side she sat and prattled,

In the oven warmed her feet;


By it sat in early childhood,

When the time so quickly flies,

By it rocked her little sister,

With the bright and laughing eyes.


Many pleasant recollections

‘Round the old stove seemed to twine,

And she loved it very dearly

For that bright and sunny time.


And now for happy memories

For which we all have sought,

We bought this little souvenir

For what the old stove brought.

The Plowman Family: Lide Remembers Childhood, conclusion

August 15, 2009


Mary Eliza "Lide" Plowman

Mary Eliza "Lide" Plowman

In the last two posts, Lide Plowman has told the story of her childhood — homelife, schooling, and childhood play.  Today she concludes the true story, recalling spelling bees and courting.  Her account makes us remember the things that are positive and good for families today.  As usual, the family tree chart is at the end of the post to assist you with keeping the family members and relationships straight.

The spelling bees were a source of much pleasure and profit.  Each school would train their pupils on a certain part of the speller and use that part when they spelled at their own school, their  teacher being the one to pronounce the words.  It was quite a honor to spell another school down.  Every one was eligible to try.  The first part of the evening was spent in choosing sides and spelling and after a social time at recess, the contest was between the different schools.

 I remember especially one with Mr. Macumber when Mrs. Macumber came with her school.  Among them were Naomi, Harriet and Maryette Dutton.  I was younger but I see Maryette yet standing when nearly all were down.  I admired her very much and in a few years loved her as a sister.  I do not remember who won.  At recess the young people visited and at the end paired off for the home trip.  Some tomed they went to some home and had a short party or dance if there happened to be a musician present.  George and Granvil Peck, Hermans cousins, had violins, and Sidney Bliss a dulcimer, which considered good music.  There were neighborhood parties, no public dances near us.  Young folks found places to meet for amusement then the same as now.

 Till and had two escorts, the one Till liked best liked me, and one I liked best liked Till.  When Till would refuse one, he would ask me, but sometimes through such maneuvers I would be left out and one of the boys sisters would go instead, which did not please our sister nor myself either.

 As I have written you before, our elder brothers spent many winter evenings shelling corn to be ground at the mill, chopping sausage meat in the winter on a bench made of hard wood using a ax to get it fine.  It took some meat to supply our family and the fresh meat would keep sweet and good in that way a long time.  The bony parts had to be eaten first.

 We had apples, peaches, plums and cherries when I first remember and using our own sugar with our own fruit gave us a good supply of desserts.  Later cider applesauce formed quite an item in our fare.  It was planned to make a good supply and send some to Ezra, also dried fruit and fresh apples and any thing else that they lacked.

 Our first experience in canning fruit was in a small mouthed jar, (crock).  Met had given me instructions and I did as near as I could remember, but it was a sad failure.  I was probably 16 then.  Met’s kept alright and mine did the next time.  Glass jars came soon after and our preserving days with equal parts of fruit and sugar were over.

 I wanted to tell how Sate came to be called Eber, how mother and her children rented a house for a school week where Sate was teaching.  John went for them each Friday and took them back each Monday with provisions for the week, and Till at home always glad to welcome them.  How Lute went to Ezra’s to do chores and attend school where I was teacher.  How George went with Jule and me to attend school in St. Johns.  How Jule went to care for Barbara and keep people from killing her with kindness, and Ezra gave Jule a cow when she was married.  No use to enumerate, the thoughts come faster than I can write.

 As I look back it seems we have much to be thankful for, in a home of plenty and enough work to keep us interested in our home, each having a share and doing it cheerfully.  The boys helping out doors the girls helping Mother, spinning, knitting, sewing and tending baby, — all loving each other in a happy simple life. 

Plowman Family Tree

Plowman Family Tree


The Plowman Family: Lide Remembers Childhood, part two

August 13, 2009


In part two of Lide Remembers Childhood, written in 1924, Lide Plowman tells about childhood play and her brothers and sisters in their mid-1800’s home in rural Michigan.  The family tree chart is at the end of this post.

When Brother George came after four girls, it was a great treat and he was the idol of all, with his black eyes and clear white skin.  Nothing was too good for him.  Father made him a wagon with all the parts of a big one.

 Lute had for his pet and plaything an old root something the shape of an animal, called Thompson, who lived many years with us as a companion for “our punch.”  About that time we had a “pork sprout” (a little runty pig), which was also a pet, called Porky, which grew into a fine pig, but no one wanted to eat him.  These pets were as to Lute as Paul’s horse was to him.

 Till, Jule and Sate found much pleasure with their little families of home made rag dolls, about seven inches tall consisting of father, mother, boy and girl.  The house the top of a box about two feet square, with little rolls of cotton for beds to fit their size, and covers etc.  And these families were put to bed and gotten up in the morning every day while the girls talked and talked.

 Saron’s and my pet was the checker board, which helped us to pass many happy hours, only sometimes we were not good losers and had disputes.  At those times the board flew to the shelf, mailed to the beams, where things were kept away from children.

 It was from that shelf that I found Ivanhoe and Father Clement and Thaddeus of Warsaw, which I regret to say that I never read.  Father thought it a great book.

 I have been thinking much lately of the time Ezra left home for Gratiot.  Father had bought Ezra 169 acres of land from the government for $80.00 and with a wagon and yoke of oxen and provisions and bedding he started out to make a home for himself in the wilderness.  He was 20 years old.  Jon Hendernshott and Harvey Troop were with him.

 Of all the leaving home of our family, this seems the most lonesome and far away, although only 50 miles away, but at that time 1855, there were not many settlements north of Maple Rapids and no roads, only trails.

 Father made Ezra a black walnut chest with a till for papers.  The corners were mitered and it made a nice piece of furniture.  The chest was burned and father made him another, but as I remember it was not so nice as the first one.

 It was a happy day for us when Ezra came home on a visit, and the little ones thought candy grew on trees where he lived as he always brought some for them, and later that was not all he brought.  I think in about two years Barbara came with him.  She was about the size of Florence and was very kind to all the children.  Her nice dress was a white lawn with yellow set flowers, very pretty, and what won my heart, she made my doll a dress like it.

 Barbara with her father and brother came from Ohio about the time Ezra went north.  She walked bare-footed behind the wagon and drove a cow and calf.  They had to ford rivers and they were with one family when they upset and their baby was drown.  They lived at first in a shack with no frool and all their furniture was made of rough longs.  Her broom was also home made with which she swept the dirt floor.

 Ezra once signed a note with a man, who skipped off and left him to pay.  This was what put the mortgage on his farm and left Barbara without means in her old age.  They had no children of their own but brought up three, and no matter how much trouble they had they were always cheerful.

 Our brother Ezra was not to accumulate wealth here, but out of kindness of his heart, his help to those in need, especially to children and mothers, he had a mine of wealth stored where “neither moth nor rust could not corrupt, nor thieves bread through and steal.”

 I might say here that Ezra’s neighbors had moved from near Grand Ledge and made the trip home with ox teams, which was a slow way of traveling and our place was the stopping place the last night.  With one man as driver and all the women and children  a lumber wagon would hold, it would tax the bedding of the house to furnish a place for all to sleep.  We were always glad to hear from Ezra, and I think Father considered that as pay for all the trouble and expense.

 George was a baby when Ezra went away, so you see there was no time when all of us children were at home, only 8 at that time.  Charley must have married soon after Lute came, and Saron about the time the twins came to cheer our household, and how we all loved them.

 John Gensterbloom had been living with us since I was 12 or 14.  You may be interested in how John came to be a member of our family.  His parents moved here from Germany and lived near Mrs. Petch’s father, and John and his father worked for him.  Our father needed help as Ezra had gone then, and John first to work and finally to stay.  He could not have been more than 13 and was one of the family ever after.  After the three older boys moved away the children still had an older brother and I am sure Nora and Dora knew no difference, as he took care of them as any of the family.  He was always helping mother and arranged his work so he could go for Jule every week, while she was teaching in Bengal.

 Although we were 11 children, there were never more than 8 or 9 of us at home at the same time, but with Father, Mother and the school teacher 7 months of the year, we were still quite a family with plenty of work for all.

 Charley and Saron being our elder brothers were very kind to take us out when we had no other escort.  We had no theaters and moving pictures were undreamed of, but we much ___ the association of our schools. 






Plowman Family Tree

Plowman Family Tree








The Plowman Family: Lide Remembers Childhood, part one

August 11, 2009
Ezra Plowman and his wife Barbara.  Ezra was Lide Plowman's beloved big brother.

Ezra Plowman and his wife Barbara. Ezra was Lide Plowman's beloved big brother.


In previous posts, Mary Elizabeth “Lide” Plowman has recounted her memories of her father and mother in early rural Michigan.  In today’s post, written in 1924, Lide remembers her childhood, schooling, and her brothers and sisters.  As we have done previously, the family tree chart is at the end of the post.

As I look back over our childhood it seems like a happy family, with Ezra as a baby tender, singing in the big rocker with his arms full of children.  Charley as Mother’s helper and cook, with the other playing around, makes a good picture of our dining room.  When father and mother were away this plan worked well and I can not recall hearing these brothers dispute.

 The first real event that I can remember was when we went to a show of some kind in Lyons about 14 miles away.  I think we had horses at that time, as father had them the first in the neighborhood.  I remember nothing of the show but remember vividly of us loading into the ___ and of Till’s and my black calico dresses with red and black flowers.  We were about 4 and 6 years of age then.

 Another trip to Lyons was made with Charley and Saron and Till to visit Mr. Nettleton’s soon after they moved there.  Roswell, our boys with Charlotte, Jane, Till and I went to the river and into a boat which I did not enjoy, maybe the others did.  (I have been in many boats since that I did not enjoy either).  This was the last we saw of our neighbor girls.

 Charley and Saron took us to the last day of school at McVeys.  We sat in the bottom of the sleigh and near Thelen’s something happened, a tree across the road I suppose and the boys unhitched the oxen and in driving them away the chain caught on the iron on the end of the tongue and gave it a sudden jerk which threw Jule who was standing up backwards giving her quit a bump.  We left her at Nancy’s who cared for her until we came back.  The first teacher that I remember was a man, quite old, Charles Dear.  The only thing that I remember about him was that the children took goose quills to him and he made their pens.

 After him came Mr. Macumber who taught several winters, beginning in an old log school house.  While he taught our school, his wife a marvelous teacher, taught at the McVey or Boughton, where nearly all the pupils were Americans, and they had much to be thankful for having such a good teacher.  In all the teachers in the neighborhoods she was the one far ahead of them all, a live teacher.  It would be well for the future of the world that we had many like her.  I’ll tell in another place how I lived with her one summer and went to school to her.

 Mr. Macumber was a very eccentric man and a fairly good teacher.  He kept good order, but as our brothers were always good in school and the other boys patterned after them, it was not so difficult to do.  After Mr. Nettleton’s moved away nearly all the pupils were Germans and very well behaved.  I remember an expression that he used to use.  When he threatened to punish he would say, “I’ll puggle you.”  Around the stove were bench seats made of slabs of logs raised by legs in each end.  These were used by the younger children who could get along without desks.  Once Mr. Macumber jumped over one of these benches to scare some children (for punishment I suppose) and the floor broke and let him through.

 During Mr. Macumber’s reign we had our outline maps.  These were three or four feet square and hung on the walls.  There were maps of the world and of each continent.  We began with the map of the world reciting in concert and either teacher or pupil pointing to each place as named.  We repeated each item twice beginning —–

                Whole world 2 hundred million, whole world 2 hundred million

                Water surface 150 million, water surface 150 million

                Land surface 50 million, land surface 50 million (etc., all repeated twice)

                North pole, south pole, equator, tropic of cancer, tropic of Capricorn

                Arctic circle, Antarctic circle, north Frigid zone, south Frigid zone.


                North Am. South Am. Europe Asia Africa (and probably Australia)

                Arctic ocean, Pacific ocean, Indian ocean.

 Etc., etc., until we had covered each map naming the states, rivers, bays, straits, capes, isthmus, islands, mountains, and more etc.

 Next Henry Hall had a term and I think it was Charley’s last term.  I know the two were about even in Arithmetic and some problems were a puzzle to them.  That year a young German John Jonas, boarded at Grandmothers.  He was maybe 20 or 22 and had been educated in Germany.  Pete Bertram would translate the problems and John Jonas would show them the solution, which was quite a wonder to me.  He went to our school to learn English.

 We then had Mr. Tracy, who was a born teacher but not so well educated.  He was the one who taught us the animal rhyme, the rules for arithmetic and boundaries for the states, and also the Presidents from Washington to the 14th (My ambition now is to have some one of our rhyming relatives complete the list to the present.  Let us have it next year).

 The map “The stream of time,” which Rex now has, has been in the family longer than I can remember.  (And every time we go to Iron Mountain we get it out and I study it.)  This hung at first in our living room and we repeated the larger print, twice of course, beginning Stream of time, stream of time, or charters of, or charters of universal history, universal history.  This map afterwards hung in the girls bedroom and we often used to begin on it before we were up in the morning.  But the usual time for our “Concert Recitations” was after supper.  I can see us now gathering around the fire with the rocking chair filling up first, and a baby or two on Ezra’s lap when he was at home.  Then we repeated all the lessons and rhymes we ever knew, and we had exhausted the arithmetic and geography and sighed for more worlds to conquer, we would begin on

                Tuttle cracker, Tuttle cracker,

                Emily cracker, Emily cracker,

                Ezra cracker, Ezra cracker, Charley and Etc through our immediate family, the Petches and all the neighbors, until bed time.

 Another winters play when the older ones were seated around the table, Till, Jule, and Sate, (I always reading) played what they called “keeping house or working in a tavern.”  Mrs. Petch had worked in a tavern in Ionia, and had told us of the work she did and the ways of the house, and nothing more was needed except what their imagination supplied.  Their houses were furnished beautifully and there was no limit to the beautiful dishes and things they had to eat.  Each one working about and telling what they were doing. 

Plowman Family Tree

Plowman Family Tree


The Plowman Family: Lide Remembers Mother, conclusion

August 8, 2009


Today Lide Plowman concludes this installment of her memories of childhood, especially those of her mother Emily Crane.  Lide’s childhood was a happy one, some would say idyllic, but there was much hard work and struggle in pioneer Michigan.  The family tree chart is at the end of this post. 


Some of the Plowman brothers and sisters in later years

Some of the Plowman brothers and sisters in later years

Mother and Father used to make evening visits from one to six miles, in always took an ax along to clear the road from accidental trees and limbs fallen across the road.  I have a vivid memory of their coming home rather late one night, when the children from Uncle Sammy’s were over playing with us.  I stood between the window and door saying something like this, “Here I stand, beside the door, come and kiss me three or four.”  And just as Ira Crane was to kiss me, Mother’s hand with a dark glove on came between our faces.  Can you imagine the exclamations and running of a lot of frightened children?  Mother soon realized our fright and came in to assure us we were in no danger.

 Mr. Bower who bought out Uncle Francis Crane had three boys and they would stop in their way to school to warm themselves before our fire.  To plague sister Jule Mother would say, “John Bower has come to see my Julie”.

 She used her shoulders to keep her pins on and we children would reach for one she would always make a strange noise and quick motion of her head, which always made us jump.

 She was a woman who lived for her family.  No outside influences caused her to forget them and she always joined with them in a little fun or sports.  She was self-sacrificing, I remember as I was getting up to a young lady of her giving me a dress she had bought for herself.  Father rather objected to this.  She had very good taste in selecting materials, to get good quality, fast color, and pretty figure.  Aunt Ellen often spoke of the good taste she had in that way, and she also often remarked how nice and white her floor looked.  Mother did not mop everyday but when she did there were no dirty corners or streaks on the floor, but we children stayed in another room or out of doors until the floor was dry.  Now how do you think it looked after the night wood had been brought in on a cold, snowy, winter night?  You could slide from the door to the hearth, but that was unavoidable so it had to be endured.

 Saron and I took a great deal of pleasure in playing checkers but after several days we would have a disagreement, and if it continued our board went up on the “high shelf”.  A board as long as the room, nailed to the beams, which made a good place to keep things from the children, and was used for books and medicine.  Father lathed and plastered after I can remember and he had some difficulty in getting the plaster to stay on, as it persisted in creeping down.  After awhile we would have the checker board until it was taken from us for the same cause.  Ivanhoe was kept on this same shelf and when I could find nothing else to read they would get it down for me again, I must have read it as many as ten times, as well as two or three times since I was a woman.  I never could get interested in Thaddeus of Warsaw which Father thought was a great book.

 For papers we had the Star in the West, a Universalist paper, the New York Tribune, the county paper (first the DeWitt Republican, later the St. John’s Republican) and the Journal of Education.  The first three were weeklies and gave us much good reading. 

 I wish I could make you see as I do the old German tinker who visited us once or twice a year.  He was rather a small man with one leg shorter than the other and withered so that he had to use a cane.  He was dressed in clothes he made himself from skins of animals, sheep, deer and coon.  He had a coonskin cap, a sheepskin coat, and a fur garment for a shirt, with the fur on the inside.  His shoes and pants were also made of fur. 

 In the winter he had a cutter fixed up or I should say made with anything he could find.  He drove an ox whose harness consisted of rope, leather, string and a strap, he had picked up in his travels.  He minted our tinware as we had no 10 cent store to get new and throw the old away.  He usually stayed two or three days and it was as good as a circus to us children, for Mr. Medsker was as good as a clown.  We would stand around and watch and listen to him by the hour and he was very funny if things went well, and if they didn’t, we all kept our distance.  His ox and rig was as curious to us as wild animals in a circus and I think the children here would be as interested as we were.  His home was somewhere in Riley and he had two little girls.  One of them came with him once, she was rather good looking.  She had to sleep with Till, much to Till’s displeasure.

 The nearest doctor was at Lyons, but Dr. Hugg at Ionia was considered best but was twenty miles away in a new country.  I think he was with Mother when Till was born.  Later Dr. Seinol, a well educated doctor came.  Father had great faith in him.  He it was, who removed the cancer from Uncle Hiram Brown’s lip with a pair of dull shears, after other doctors had eaten it out and he had suffered a great deal and spent much money.  It never broke out again and he lived to be an old man.

 It was a great blessing to have a good physician only two and one half miles from us.  He lived one mile east of Westphalia, and was our dr. until the Civil War when he moved farther away and later went to the war.  After this Dr. Dellenbough came. 

 I hope you have not tired of these reminiscences as I have enjoyed it and Pearl has insisted that I put in many things that may not interest you.  She says next year it must be the children of the “House of Plowmans”.

 Hoping you may have many happy Christmases and that the New Years as they come may bring you many blessings. 

Plowman Family Tree

Plowman Family Tree