Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Plymouth Anniversary

The Pilgrims of the Mayflower first dropped anchor in November 1620, and after some efforts to find a place to settle, landed in Plymouth Bay on December 21 and established their settlement there. One of my ancestors was part of that group, and another English ancestor settled in Plymouth about ten years later.


Worldwide there are about 35 million descendants of the Mayflower group.


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Among my many family roots in Fayette County, IL, the Washburns were early settlers of the area later known as Otego Township. My 3-great-grandparents, David and Esther Washburn, came to that area in about 1830 and are buried in the Pilcher Cemetery near Brownstown, IL. In this 2014 post, https://paulstroble.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/my-family-the-washburns-back-to-the-pilgrims/ , I summarized another genealogist’s research to trace the Washburns back to my 9-great-grandparents, John (1566-1624) and Martha (Stevens) Washbourne (c. 1573-1626), of St. Peter’s Parish, Bengeworth, Worcestershire, England. Their son John (1597-1671) and Margery (Moore) Washbourne (b. c. 1586) sailed to New England in 1631 or 1632 and settled in Duxbury in Plymouth Colony; John and Margery’s son John married the granddaughter of a Mayflower passenger, Francis Cooke.

img_4938.jpgThis past winter, I found some wonderful books that trace generations of the Washbournes prior to this John:

James Davenport, The Washbourne Family of Little Washbourne and Wichenford in the County of Worcester (London: Methuen & Co, 1907).

R. E. M. Peach (ed.), The Washbourne Family: Notes and Records, Historica nd Social of the Ancient Family of Washbourne of Washbourne, Wichenford and Pytchley from the 12th Century to the Present Time (Privately printed by John Bellows, Glouchester, 1896).

E. A. B. Barnard, Some Notes on the Evesham Branch of the Washbourne Family (Evesham: W. &. H. Smith Lit., 1914). [Evesham is adjacent to Bengeworth; Little Washbourne and Wichenford are villages in Glochestershire, and Stanford and Pytchley are towns in neighboring Northamptonshire.


This portrait, purportedly of Sir Roger Washbourne, was published in Davenport, but he argues (pp. 192-193) that it may be one of the later Wichenford John Washbournes, who died in 1633.

Fortunately all these books are scanned and readable online: do an internet search and you’ll easily find links to the complete texts. I encourage anyone interested in the early Washbournes to do so!

The following are just a few notes from those books, to summarize my own probable ancestry. (There were a lot of John Washbournes! I had to differentiate a few by adding their dates of death.)

* Sir Roger of Little Washbourne and Stanford, married Joan. He was living in 1299. If John Washbourne (d. 1546) below was the son of John Washbourne (d. 1517), then Sir Roger and Joan are my 18-great-grandparents, living during the reign of the Plantagenet kings Edward I and Edward II. Davenport called Sir Roger “the first authentic Washbourne” (p. 17).

Peach writes, “The Washbournes, of Washbourne, were generation after generation of Knightly degree, previous to the reign of Edward II., and ranked in point of descent with the most ancient families in the kingdom… Sir Roger Washbourne…married two wives: by the first, Joan, daughter and heir of Sir John Mustard, Knt., he had an only daughter Isolde, who became the wife of John Salwey, of Kanke, and by the second, Margaret, daughter and Heir of John Poher, or Power, a son, Norman Washburn, who retired to his mother’s estate in Wichenford, where his descendants continued to reside for several generations, enjoying the highest respectability, and intermarrying with the houses of Kynaston, Mytton, Stapylse, Tracy, Lygon, &c” (pp. 3-4).

(Here is the Find-a-Grave page for Sir Roger, with links to his descendants: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=83958149

The next generations:

* Sir John, son of Sir Roger and Joan, and knight of the shire, died in 1319. Married Isabella Cassy. (Peach, p. 12, Davenport, pp. 3-6)

* Sir Roger, married Margaret, not later than 1316. Roger was still living in 1358. (Davenport, 7, 17; Peach, 33)

* Peter, married in 1355 to Isolde Hanley (Peach, 34).

* John, the last of Stanford and first of Wichenford; knight of shire and vicecombs (sheriff). Married Margaret Poher of Wichenford (Peach, 33, Davenport, 8-17).

* Norman, vicecomes. Married Elizabeth Kynaston. Peach gives her name as Kynaston, a daughter of the High Sheriff of County Worcester (p. 34). Davenport (p. 24) quotes a course indicating that the name is also written Knifton, Knivton, Knyveton, and Kniveton.  Here is Elizabeth’s Find-a-Grave page, with links to her family: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=101434504

* John, born as early as 1454, died May 1517, first marriage to Joan Mitton of Weston, County Stanford (Davenport, 30-34; Peach 36ff). John is buried in Wichenford Church, although Davenport writes that the monument is gone (p. 34-35).

* John, who according to Davenport, is the ancestor of Bengeworth branch (and therefore the ancestor of the American descendants), died 1546. Married Emme, d. 1547. They are my 11-great-grandparents. 

Davenport writes, “At the time when registers became compulsory (1538) he [John] appears on the scene with his wife Emme, residing at Bengeworth, which adjoins the town of Evesham and is a few miles distant from Little Washbourne. They were then quite middle-aged persons, having four grown-up children and several grandchildren. John was buried there in 1546 and Emme in 1547. It is not difficult to imagine the reasons why and the circumstances under which John struck out from Wichenford and migrated to the neighborhood of Evesham to seek his fortune in the town, as younger sons had, and still have, to do away from the paternal roof, though the exact date of his departure can only be guessed. Perhaps he left in his father’s lifetime when his prospects cannot have seemed very rosy, inasmuch as, in addition to two younger brothers, he had an elder brother with a son destined to become the head of the family, and saw the introduction into the family home by his father of a second wife, and in due course of two more brothers, Anthony and Richard. More probably he left in 1517, when his father died. He found himself overlooked in the will, and saw his young nephew of seventeen become owner of Wichenford and Knight’s Washbourne, with the management of affairs left in the hands of a son younger than himself, viz. Walter, and the stepmother, Elizabeth Monington. At any rate, he went forth and became progenitor of the branch which flourished at Bengeworth for a long period, and from which came the famous John who went to America, sending for his wife Margery and their two sons to follow him in 1635 (pp. 35-36).

E. A. B. Barnard, however, questions that John (d. 1546) was the same John who was the son of John (d. 1517). He writes on pages 42-43: “In his excellent History of the Washbourne Family (first published in 1907) the Rev. J. H. Davenport states that the second son of John (8) of Wichenford, was identical with John Washbourne of Bengeworth, Evesham, husband of Emme, from whom he shows, by singularly complete evidence, that the American branches of he Family are descended. it must be admitted, however, that although this identification seems a reasonable probability it is by no means a certainly. Mr. Davenport give strong hypothetical reason for his statement and, with his wide knowledge of the subject any other theory may be plainly untenable, but it has still to be borne in mind that there is no direct evidence for it in the Visitation pedigrees of the Wichenford branch of the famly [sic]. Moreover, we have seen that Washbournes had lived in the neighbourhood of Evesham for at least two hundred years before John of Benegeworth had lands there, and further there is the evidence of a Fifteenth Century Washbourne tile in Evesham Abbey, to say nothing of the possibility of a somewhat later Washbourne coat-of-arms in a window in Old St. Peter’s Church, Bengeworth.” And he goes on from there.

But I found this site—-http://www.genealogy.com/forum/surnames/topics/washburn/4390/ —-that disagrees with Barnard and connects these Johns with the Wichenford line. The people who wrote the family pages on Find-a-Grave for Sir Roger and his descendants also connect the Wichenford line to the Bengeworth line.

So… from John and Emme, we have:

*John and Emme’s son, John of Bengeworth, died 1593. He married Jone Whitfield. Among their children was the son:

* John Washbourne, born August 1, 1566 in Bengeworth, Worcestershire, England, died August 3, 1624. Married Martha (Timbrell) Stevens in St. Peter’s Parish, Bengeworth. She was born there about 1573 and died May 9, 1626.

The rest of this information, which traces the family to my 3-great-grandfather in my native Fayette County, IL, can already be found at the other blog site:

* John Washbourne, baptized July 2, 1597 in St. Peter’s Parish, Bengeworth, died March 17, 1671. He married Margery Moore on Nov. 23, 1618 in St. Peter’s Parish Bengeworth. She was born about 1586. John sailed to New England in about 1631 or 1632, and settled in the town of Duxbury in Plymouth Colony, where he was a tailor. He and Margery were the immigrant ancestors, my 8-great-grandparents, although Margery apparently died not long after they arrived in Plymouth.

* John Washburn, born about Nov. 20, 1620 in Bengeworth, died Nov. 12, 1686 in Bridgewater, Pymouth Co., MA. He married Elizabeth Mitchell in Plymouth on Dec. 6, 1645. She was born about 1629 in Plymouth and died before Dec. 5, 1684 in Bridgewater, MA.

Elizabeth was the granddaughter of a Mayflower passenger. Her parents were Experience Mitchell and Jane Cooke, and Jane Cooke was the daughter of Francis Cooke, who sailed on the Mayflower and signed the Mayflower Compact. Francis Cooke and his wife Hester (who came to the colony a little later) are my 9-great-grandparents. There is much online concerning Cooke and other Mayflower passengers. 

*James Washburn (5/15/1672-6/11/1749), married Mary Bowden (about 1670-12/18/1745). They were from Bridgewater. They married Dec. 20, 1693

*Moses Washburn (9/9/1702-10/31/1765), married Hannah Cushman (12/25/1705-after 7/29/1750). They married May 23, 1727 in Kingston, MA. She was the daughter of Robert Cushman and Perusus Lewis.

* Bezaliel Washburn (about 1740-10/5/1813), married Patience Sollard, his third wife, on July 10, 1795 in Darmouth, Bristol County, MA. (What cool names! “Bezaliel and Patience, table for two…” The biblical Bezalel was one of the artisans on the Tabernacle in Exodus 31.)

*David Washburn (8/12/1785-3/13/1852), married Esther Griffith. David was born in Dartmouth. Esther was born in 1789 in New York. They both settled in Fayette County, IL in the 1830s, and died there. They are buried in the Pilcher Cemetery near Brownstown, IL.

David and Esther’s granddaughter, via their son George, was Abagail [sic] Washburn Pilcher, the mother of maternal grandma, who in turn first got me interested in genealogy.

Last fall, when we were in London, I considered taking the train to Evesham and investigate Bengesworth. I wimped out and instead visited Charles Darwin’s grave in Westminster Abbey and shared in the noon Eucharist. But I do plan to visit these towns and hopefully Wichenford, as well. When I do, I’ll blog about it!


Here is the genealogical chart included in Davenport:


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547297_10151369726078519_733469114_nHere is a series of eight pieces of mine from Springhouse magazine, published in the June 1998 through August 1999 issues. They describe the political campaigns and important legislation during the time my hometown, Vandalia, was the Illinois state capital. Editors Gary and Judy DeNeal did such a wonderful job editing the pieces and adding pictures, really bringing the narrative to life.

The introduction to the first piece explains the circumstances of the writing, and the folks whom I wanted to remember in publishing them. I also remember my parents, Paul and Mildred Stroble, whom I thanked in my 1992 book (referred there) and who helped make my research and writing possible, since I was fairly young when I undertook the project.

These pieces dovetail with my genealogical posts here, because several of my ancestors and their families lived in Vandalia during the 1819-1839 period, a fact that first inspired my interest in this subject.

Here is Illinois Politics, parts 1-4:


And here is Illinois Politics, parts 5-8:


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This post connects to my several other genealogical posts on this blog, especially those related to the Crawford, Pilcher, Gatewood, Williams, and Washburn families.

During the summer of 1974, when I was 17, I finished compiling all the information I had on the Pilcher Cemetery and Winslow Pilcher Family Cemetery, in Fayette County, IL south of Brownstown, in Otego township. The information included all the inscriptions on the tombstones in both cemeteries, locations of unmarked graves (which had been identified to me by older relatives), information about some of the people buried there, and family charts that connected many of the people.  I was not a good typist, but I did my best, and shared the information with relatives.

Here are scans of my work. I’m in the process of placing some of this material on findagrave.com, but posting it here will also make it available for family researchers. Remember that this information is current only to 1974; burials have continued in the Pilcher Cemetery, though not its smaller neighbor. Also remember that the tree, which once stood in the middle of the Pilcher (and which provides a landmark on the maps of graves) was cut down at about that same time.

Here is the Winslow Pilcher Family Cemetery:


And here is the Pilcher Cemetery:




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Vandalia in 1836, by John Matthew Heller. The mural hung in the restaurant at the Hotel Evans in Vandalia from 1954 until the hotel burned in 1969.

My first book was a history of my hometown when it was the Illinois capital, entitled High on the Okaw’s Western Bank: Vandalia, Illinois, 1819-1839 (University of Illinois Press, 1992). Mostly researched in 1975-1979, while I was in college, the book’s first draft was completed in 1983-1985. The publisher liked it but requested a reorganization of the manuscript, which I did in 1989-1991. By then I was also writing my doctoral dissertation in theology.

The following PDF file (a print-out from our old Kaypro computer on which my wife Beth and I worked back then) is a list of all the businesses I could discover that operated in Vandalia while it was state capital. This was to be an appendix to the book but, instead, I published it separately in a 1985 issue of Fayette Facts—the quarterly of Vandalia’s genealogical society—and in the book I discussed the businesses and what they reflected about the local and state economy as well as local settlement.

This material may still have importance for genealogical and historical purposes, so I’m adding the file to this blog—which has gotten quite a lot of views from genealogists during the past few years.



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Mary Burtschi (1911-2009) lived in my hometown, Vandalia, IL, for most of her life and was a beloved teacher in nearby Effingham, IL. She was also an author who wrote books about early Vandalia history and the life and career of Western author James Hall (1793-1868). My wife Beth wrote her master’s thesis at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville on Mary’s life. She got to know Mary well and conducted interviews with her on numerous occasions.  In 1997, Beth published three articles about Mary in Springhouse magazine, a periodical to which I’ve long contributed (including several posts on this blog). Here are PDF files of the articles, published in the August, October, and December 1997 issues.






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My hometown is Vandalia, IL, which is the former state capital and the terminus of the pioneer National Road. U.S. 40 follows the National Road’s pathway. About eight miles east of Vandalia, you can discover the site of the first post office in Fayette County’s Cumberland Township (later called Otego Twp.), and the site of two pumps—-one for people and one for horses—that had existed in pioneer days.

My friend Mary Burtschi (1911-2009) was a devoted local historian of Vandalia. She was one of the major reasons I became interested in local history. In her book Vandalia: Wilderness Capital of Lincoln’s Land (1963), she writes:

“In 1828 the mile stretch through the bottom land east of the Kaskaskia River [at Vandalia] was still heavily timbered. It was a tremendous undertaking clearing the sixty-six foot strip through underbrush and forest trees of such gigantic size. The roadbed itself was only thirty feet wide. Both oxen and horses were used to pull the huge stumps around which chains were fastened. The workers grumbled; it was too much physical exertion and they felt they were poorly paid. A song or rhyme that has been handed down describes the wretched condition of the pike:

“The roads are impassable—Hardly jackass able:
I think those that travel ‘em
Should turn out and gravel ‘em.

“Past the Statehouse square rolled the wheels of Conestoga wagons carrying settlers into a new life and hauling freight into a frontier territory and stagecoaches carrying travelers who would view the new land and then return home to sing its praises or to disparage the glowing accounts that had been written about it. A parade of critical visitors wanting to see the new democracy at work on the frontier cam through Vandalia. Many were convinced that the emotional religion at the camp meetings, the insolence of servants, and the free-for-alls in the grog-shops were too much for the educated man to tolerate. The impressions of the road and of the town recorded by these travelers is a part of Vandalia history.”

Mary quotes according from the German writer Frederck Gustorf, Edmund Flagg, and William Oliver, the latter noting an execrable well along the road. She continues:

“The ‘execrable well’ of which Oliver speaks was probably not the Twin Pumps on the Cumberland Road, located six miles east of Vandalia. Ezra Griffith, who came to this area in 1830, built the first frame house in Cumberland Township. The building, erected in 1835, contained the Cumberland Post Office, a store, and living quarters for the Griffith family. Across the road on the north side stood the wooden Twin Pumps with a horse trouble, hewn out of logs, at each one. The pump on the inside of the fence was used by the Griffith family for stock; the other on the outside of the fence was used by the traveler. Mr. Griffith maintained the pumps and provided a tin cup for the traveler to use. On the south side of the road for a quarter of a mile extended a line of shady locust trees. Here the traveler stopped to water his horses and to rest under the shade.” (pp. 145-146, 148)

Not long ago, I was over in my home area, Fayette County, IL, to take photos for the cover of an upcoming poetry book, and to photograph a few tombstones for the Find-a-Grave site. I visited the Pilcher Cemetery and the Griffith Cemetery, both in Otego Township; the two cemeteries represent much of my mother’s side of the family. My grandmother Crawford was a lifelong resident of Otego Twp. (and is buried in the Pilcher); she was friends with members of the Griffith family, like Chester Griffith who attended her church (and was a source for Mary’s history above). I think Ezra Griffith may have been a brother of my 3-great-grandmother Esther Washburn, but I’ve not proven that; the Griffith and Washburn families settled the area at about the same time.


Coming back out onto U.S. 40 from the Griffith Cemetery road, I took a picture of the little area that had been the site of the Twin Pumps. But I also photographed the memorial to the site had been erected across the highway on the south side. It’s been there a few years but I’d not taken the time to photograph it.


It was a beautiful, sunny summer morning, and I remembered again why the summer of 1974 was so important to me. I was a teenager and driving the seen-better-days ’63 Chevy that had been Dad’s stepfather’s. I was completing two genealogy projects: a family history of the Mom’s family, and also a record of all the tombstone inscriptions in the Pilcher Cemetery near Brownstown, IL, where much of my mom’s side of the family are buried. (I write about my hometown roots and genealogy projects in other essays on this blog.)

To do the work, I started in the morning. I put on shorts and tank top but I figured that solitary hours spent walking in the grass didn’t require shoes, so I didn’t even bring them along. A visitor to the cemetery one day didn’t expect to see a barefoot, longhaired young man examining tombstones and carrying a clipboard.

One morning, driving down IL 185, I had an emotional experience of belonging, a sureness that I would always feel a deep connection to this place: my hometown Vandalia and the surrounding Fayette County. (My main blog has a photo of the area of that highway.) During the ensuing years, my home area has been (to use Frank Zappa’s phrase) a conceptual continuity for me. All the history teaching and writing that I’ve done connect to the summers I did local genealogy projects. And all the Bible-related and religious work that I’ve done (including most of my eighteen books) relate back to my grandma Crawford (buried in that cemetery), who inspired me to do genealogy and first got me interested in the Bible and spirituality in a very preliminary way that bloomed a year or two later.

Places like Twin Pumps are important for local history and for all my own modest efforts during the past forty-some years.


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My Family: the Browns

After a busy semester that included a book deadline, I’m getting back to posting my old genealogical notes onto this blog.

This is a picture of my great-great-grandparents, Josiah and Margaret Williams. They are my mom’s paternal grandmother’s parents, buried (along with so many other of my maternal relatives) in thScan 16e Pilcher Cemetery near Brownstown, Illinois. I tell the story, here, of exploring that cemetery during my high school years and recording the inscriptions. I tell the story of the Williams family here.

Josiah was 20 years older than Margaret, and was first married to her older sister Winnaford. The sisters’ birth name was Brown—and the Browns are an interesting family in my ancestry.

In my genealogy files I have Brown family notes from another genealogist, Glenore Cole, but I don’t remember when Glenore sent these to me. (The pages are yellow, so I’m assuming it was back in the 1970s, when I did so much genealogy.) According to the notes, James and Eliza (Baldwin) Brown are the early ancestors of this branch—my 6-great-grandparents.

They were the parents of: James Brown, born Apr. 29, 1708 in Middlesex Co, VA, died March 3, 1784 in Culpepper Co., VA. Married in c. 1736 to Elizabeth Poole, born April 1719 in Gloucester Co., VA. Her parents were George and Elizabeth Poole.

The children of James and Elizabeth:

1 Hezekiah, born 1738 in Spotsylvania Co., VA, died Aug 29, 1821 in Frankfort, KY. Married to Anne Stubblefield, second marriage to Mrs. Sarah Long.

2 James, born April 19, 1742 in Mansfield, near Fredericksburg, VA, died June 24, 1825 in Bourbon Co., KY Married to Ann Davis on Nov. 15, 1764. Mary (c. 1740-Nov. 29, 1764). Married James Michael Rice George Henry (c. 1745 – after 1821). (Glenore Cole’s notes indicates that James’ and Ann’s son William Brown was an early settler of Sangamon Co., IL—as were my dad’s ancestors whom I discuss here. Did these families on my dad’s and my mom’s side of the family know each other during early 1830s? As with my dad’s ancestors, William Brown has a nice history in John Carroll Power’s 1876 History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois, pp. 146-148.)

3 Elizabeth

4 Sarah

5 Ann

Hezekiah Brown moved to Frankfort, KY in c. 1799. His first wife, Anne Stubblefield was born in c. 1747, possibly in King George Co., VA, and died before 1784. Her parents were Thomas and Ellen (Hackley) Stubblefield. Hezekiah and Anne’s children:

Ellen (Nelly), born April 22, 1764, died Sept. 1856, married to Matthew Newton Clarke

2 Mary (Molly), born c. 1766, died beofre 1819, married William Waters

3 Frances (Frankey), born Feb. 27, 1768, died Nov. 12, 1835. Married Rodham Priest , born c. 1770, died before 1819. (See the information in the fourth comment below.)

4 Jael (Jaly), born c. 1771/2, died before 1805.

5 Hezekiah, born c. 1773 in Culpepper Co., VA, died in 1845 or 6 in Fayette Co., IL. His two wives were – — Danks (or Daniels), and Delilah Currance. So Hezekiah, my 4-great-grandfather, was the pioneer of Fayette County, IL., but so was his sister Elizabeth:

6 Elizabeth (Betsy), born c. 1774. Married to Allan Thompson. I’ll talk about them below.

7 Ann, born 1775, married to James Mason and then Matthew Templeman

8 Lucy, born Feb. 10, 1782, died Oct. 3, 1863, married John D. Richardson

9 Henry (Harry), born c. 1783. Married to Mary Fitzgerald

Hezekiah (II) and Dorrance Currance’s children:

1 William D. (9/6/1798 to 4/26,1859), married Mary Hunter Currance

2 George D. (9/7/1803 to 12/17/1847, married Nancy Carneal

3 Henry (born 1809, probably in Logan Co., KY died 10/16/1856 in Fayette Co. IL, married Susan Pilcher (on May 3, 1832) and then Ann (Austin) Nichols (1819 – March 20, 1899) on Nov. 22 1841. He served in the Black Hawk War in Illinois.

4 Two daughters.

Henry and Ann Brown’s children:

1 Winnaford Ann (born 1834, died before March 1858), married to Josiah Williams on Dec. 5, 1852 by Rev. Benjamin D. Mahon.

2 George, born 1836

3 Margaret Adeline, born 1838, died July 28, 1893. Married on March 25, 1858 to Josiah Williams, who had been married to her older sister.

So we’re back to Josiah and Margaret Williams, my great-great-grandparents, whose daughter Susan married John Crawford—and they are my mom’s paternal grandparents, buried beside my own grandparents in the Pilcher Cemetery near Brownstown, IL.

Josiah and Margaret are buried in the same cemetery; I always wondered if Josiah’s first wife, Margaret’s sister Winnaford, is buried there, too, but there is no grave marker to know.

This is the line of my direct ancestors, but I need to back up and talk about my 4-great aunt, Elizabeth (Brown) Thompson, who was sister of my 3-great-grandfather Henry Brown’s sister. The 1878 History of Fayette County, Illinois mentions Elizabeth twice, though not by name, but rather as the mother of Vandalia pioneer Benjamin Ward Thompson (pp. 25, 60). The history indicates that the Thompsons moved to Fayette County in 1819 and settled a mile and a half south of Vandalia, in township section 29. 1819 was the year Vandalia was founded! Thompson, who was 13 that year, lived the rest of his life in Vandalia and was considered one of the beloved “old settlers.” The history indicates that “Mr. Thompson’s father died when his son was twelve years of age; consequently he was thrown entirely upon his own resources. He struggled alone, and the fact of his having so repeatedly been elected to important positions is the best commendtar that can be passed upon his life and character as a man and citizen” (p. 60).

B. Ward Thompson married Susana Bayle in 1828. Although Thompson is buried in the old Vandalia cemetery, Susanna is buried among my Pilcher and Gatewood ancestors in the Winslow Pilcher family cemetery. Nearby is Susanna and Ward’s daughter, Elizabeth, who married a son of Rev. Benjamin Mahon (my 3-great uncle in that family), whom I mentioned above as the pastor who married Winnaford and Josiah.

Back to Elizabeth Thompson. Her son was a notable Vandalian, and two of Elizabeth’s daughters married notable Vandalians.

One, also named Elizabeth, married John A. Wakefield, another early settler of the Vandalia area—and the first white settler of Otego Township, where most of my mom’s side of the family settled. WakefiIMG_1084eld wrote a history of the Black Hawk War which is still considered an important primary source for that tragic conflict. His Find-a-Grave page provides some of his interesting life.

Another of Elizabeth’s daughters, Margaret, married Frederick Hollman, a German immigrant who was a key person in the establishment of Vandalia in 1819-1820. He was a member of the Ernst colony, a group of impoverished Germans under the leadership of Ferdinand Ernst, who settled in Vandalia in late 1820. Although Ernst died young and Hollman moved away, other members of the colony became important figures in later Vandalia history. My first book, High on the Okaw’s Western Bank: Vandalia, Illinois, 1819-1839, had an entire chapter devoted to the Ernst Colony, and I also wrote two articles on the colony, including this one.

So these two important early Vandalians are related to me by marriage: nephews-in-law of my 3-great-grandfather Henry Brown.

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I haven’t posted to this blog for a while, because of other commitments. Now that things have gotten a little easier, I’m back to posting some things. Here is another installment of my family history: the Strobel family.


John and Emma Strobel, c. 1930. My dad said he took the picture.

When I was a teenager, I traced my mother’s side of the family, and then I hoped to write up a Strobel family tree. But then I went to college, became involved in other things, and drifted away from genealogy. Also, all my Strobel great-aunts and -uncles were deceased by 1961, when I was 4, and so I lacked that whole generation to interview. Such interviews had been crucial when I traced the Crawfords.

But I did trace my grandfather’s generation (he is number eight below) and the names of my father’s generation. Why is my name “Stroble” and all these people are named “Strobel”? Because my grandfather spelled the name both ways, and that was the way he spelled the name for my dad’s birth certificate. Grandfather’s tombstone has Stroble and his obituary has Strobel. In those days, you could spell your name as you wished, I suppose.

Here are my great-grandparents: John Strobel, b. Jan. 1, 1840, d. Aug 26, 1932. He married Emma Hotz,  b. July 7, 1846, d. July 7, 1937. They married June 20, 1865.

Their children: Mary, Lena, John, Ann, George, Charles, Amelia, Andrew, Gustave, Edward.

1. Mary Elizabeth (Lizzie) Strobel, Dec. 31, 1866, d. Aug. 30, 1904, married Frederick G. Schaefer, May 3, 1863 (in Germany), March 7, 1922: Children: Fred, Lady, Karl, Margaret

2. Lena Strobel, b. Oct. 18, 1868, d. 1955. Married Frank Hoffman, who lived 1864-1924 No children

3. John William Strobel, Dec. 12, 1870 to May 5, 1942. Married Sadie Durban. Children: Mary, Angeline,

4. Ann Strobel, b. May 11, 1872, d. Sept. 24, 1872

5. George Strobel, b. Nov. 13, 1873 Married Mamie Philips. Children: Lena, Lillie, Blanche, Emma,

6. Charles Nicholas Strobel, Nov. 5, 1876 till Nov. 27, 1961. Married Lillie E. Watkins, May 7, 1886 till Jan. 20, 1949. Their children: Tina, Leta, Jesse, Evalena, Donna, Delmar, Fred, Charles, Virgil, June. I want to add here that Dad was close to his first cousins in this family branch.

7. Amelia Strobel, August 20, 1880 till Sept. 7, 1961. Married Charles Holman, Oct. 11, 1877 till Oct. 1, 1951. Children: Van, Ethel, Paul, Leo, John, Mildred, Lucille, two infants, Gwendolyn and Leonard (twins, surnamed Holdman), Helen Mae (surnamed Holdman).

8. Andrew Christian Strobel, born Aug,7, 1882, died May 7, 1935. Married Permelia Jane Carson, March 22, 1890, d. Oct. 30, 1991. Her family, the Carsons and Colburns, are described elsewhere in this blog. Andy and Janie’s children: Paul (my dad) and Mary Gladys.

9. Gustave Strobel, Nov. 24, 1884 till Nov. 22, 1885.

10. James Edward Strobel, Oct. 12, 1887, Jan. 27, 1961. A World War I veteran, he never married, and was known locally for his horses. A person on the “Vandalia Memories” Facebook page wondered if I was any relation to Ed Strobel, because he was such a nice person and he let her ride his horses when she was little.

Around 1970 or 1971, my parents and I visited the St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Highland, IL. We found Gustave (“Gussie”) Strobel’s grave. Now that we’re in the era of the internet, there is that awesome site called Find-a-Grave, which identified a grave in Highland as my great-grandfather John’s father, Andreas Strobel (1804-Jan. 31, 1863): http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=strobel&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSob=n&GSsr=121&GRid=20406248&df=all&

Here is John’s page: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=25252546

Gustave’s: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=116669941

My great-grandmother Emma Strobel’s parents are also buried in that cemetery—which I didn’t realize when my parents and I visited it in the 1970s. They were Christian Hotz (Dec. 19, 1817, from Oestringen, Baden and came to America in 1841), died Feb. 22, 1902 in Highland. He married to Maria Eva Weber, who lived Feb. 22, 1822 till July 7, 1898. They married July 28, 1840. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=93228685

Here also is my blog post about John Strobel, including the text of his 1932 obituary. http://paulstroble.blogspot.com/2009/05/my-civil-war-ancestor.html

I always liked my ancestry, although it is almost wholly British, Irish, and German, not untypical of central and southern Illinois. As I’ve described elsewhere on this blog, I’ve a family branch that began with a Mayflower passenger, a branch in colonial Virginia (which, unfortunately, included generations of slave owners). One branch (which I still

Andy and Janie Stroble, c. 1908

Andy and Janie Stroble, c. 1908

need to write about for this blog) includes a historian of the tragic Black Hawk War in 1832. Other branches from Scotland, Ireland, and Wales arrived before the Revolution. The Strobel branch, however, came much later, in the 1840s, reflecting that great emigration from the German states in the mid 19th century. They were also German Catholic, not a popular immigrant group among some Protestants at the time, which makes me wonder what kinds of experiences they had in Illinois. They were the last of my family groups to arrive in America. Though they first settled in Madison County, Illinois, John and Emma eventually moved over to Fayette County, IL, in time for my grandfather to be born there in 1882. And so by 1882, all of my family groups were in place in Fayette County, where I was eventually born and raised.

I’ll think about my grandfather this coming May 7th, the 80th anniversary of his death. He and my dad (who was 22 in 1935) walked together among the stores on S. Fifth Street in Vandalia, and Andy “just caught the door handle and fell,” in Dad’s words. He died of a stroke, age 52. “Everyone knew Dad, and liked him,” my father would say wistfully, and I’ve always wondered what nice times Andy and I missed because our lives did not overlap.


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David and Esther Washburn

Esther and David Washburn

Another genealogical post. Forty years ago, I copied inscriptions at our family cemeteries, the Pilcher Cemetery and the Winslow Pilcher Family Cemetery. (I describe that project in another post, here.) Additional information about those families may be interesting to some readers.

When I was a child, visiting the cemeteries on Decoration Day, I liked to read the old tombstones but I didn’t know who the people were. When I became interested in genealogy as a teenager, how fun to realize the kinship connections. I learned that David and Esther Washburn, who are buried in the older part of the Pilcher Cemetery, are my great-great-great-grandparents. I was interested in tracing the history of their children, but I didn’t get very far and drifted away from genealogy during my college days.

But in the early 00s, I corresponded with a distant Washburn cousin named Hoy Washburn, who sent me a tremendous amount of research he and another cousin had done on the family. Here, I’ll copy the names of just my direct ancestors.

John Washbourne, born August 1, 1566 in Bengeworth, Worcestershire, England, died August 3, 1624. Married Martha (Timbrell) Stevens in St. Peter’s Parish, Bengeworth. She was born there about 1573 and died May 9, 1626. They are my 9-great-grandparents. Here is my blog post about the Washbourne generations in England.)

St Peter's in Bengeworth. From http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1645205

St Peter’s in Bengeworth. From http://www.geograph.org.uk/ photo/1645205

John Washbourne, baptized July 2,1597 in St. Peter’s Parish, Bengeworth, died March 17, 1671. He married Margery Moore on Nov. 23, 1618 in St. Peter’s Parish Bengeworth. She was born about 1586.

According to this website, John (1597-1671) sailed to New England in about 1631 or 1632, and settled in the town of Duxbury in Plymouth Colony, where he was a tailor. He and Margery were the immigrant ancestors, although Margery apparently died not long after they arrived in Plymouth. (Other interesting websites, for instance this one, can be easily searched for concerning these early Washburns.)

John Washburn, born about Nov. 20, 1620 in Bengeworth, died Nov. 12, 1686 in Bridgewater, Pymouth Co., MA. He married Elizabeth Mitchell in Plymouth on Dec. 6, 1645. She was born about 1629 in Plymouth and died before Dec. 5, 1684 in Bridgewater, MA.

Elizabeth was the granddaughter of a Mayflower passenger. Her parents were Experience Mitchell and Jane Cooke, and Jane Cooke was the daughter of Francis Cooke, who sailed on the Mayflower and signed the Mayflower Compact. Francis Cooke and his wife Hester (who came to the colony a little later, on the Ann) are my 9-great-grandparents. There is much online concerning Cooke and other Mayflower passengers. 

James Washburn (5/15/1672-6/11/1749), married Mary Bowden (about 1670-12/18/1745). They were from Bridgewater. They married Dec. 20, 1693

Moses Washburn (9/9/1702-10/31/1765), married Hannah Cushman (12/25/1705-after 7/29/1750). They married May 23, 1727 in Kingston, MA. She was the daughter of Robert Cushman and Perusus Lewis.

Bezaliel Washburn (about 1740-10/5/1813), married Patience Sollard, his third wife, on July 10, 1795 in Darmouth, Bristol County, MA. (What cool names! “Bezaliel and Patience, table for two…” The biblical Bezalel was one of the artisans on the Tabernacle in Exodus 31.)

David Wasburn (8/12/1785-3/13/1852), married Esther Griffith. David was born in Dartmouth. Esther was born in 1789 in New York. They both settled in Fayette County, IL in the 1830s, and died there. Their children:

* Alma Washburn
* Julia Ann Washburn, m. Jabez Luther
* Philip Washburn (1808-1841), m. Rebecca
* Reuben Washburn (b. 1810)
* Leonard Washburn (b. about 1815), m. Shara Ann Starnes
* Daniel Griffith Washburn (b. 1823), m. Mary Beach
* David J. Washburn (2/15/1825-1/30/1893), m. Sarah J. Crawford, who was my great-great-great-aunt in the Crawford family)
* George Washburn (1/24/1826-about 1880). He was my great-great-grandfather. His third wife,

My grandma identified this picture as that of her grandfather George Washburn.

My grandma identified this picture as that of her grandfather George Washburn.

Ellen (Long) Goodman, was my great-great-grandmother. His first wife, Octavia Pilcher, was my great-great-great-aunt in the Pilcher family.
* Hannah Washburn (1829-1907), who married William Lewis Pilcher, my great-great-great-uncle (Octavia’s older brother) in the Pilcher family. They are buried in the Winslow Pilcher family cemetery.
* Almon Delos Washburn (1831-1902)
* Eli Washburn (1832-1864: he died in the Civil War at Marietta, Cobb Co., GA)
* Ira Washburn (1836-1849.
* Leroy Washburn (1838-1908). He married Susan F. Crawford, my great-great-great-aunt in the Crawford family, and sister of Sarah, whom I just mentioned).

George and Ellen Washburn had two daughters Abagail

Four generations: my uncle Harold Crawford (the baby), my grandma Grace, her mother Abby Pilcher, and Abby's mother Ellen Washburn.

Four generations in 1909: my uncle Harold Crawford (the baby), my grandma Grace, her mother Abby Pilcher, and Abby’s mother Ellen Washburn.

and Susan. Susan is buried in the Bolt Cemetery with her husband Isaac England and near her parents. Abagail married Albert Pilcher and had one child, Grace, who married Josiah Crawford. “Joe and Grace” were my mother’s parents.

When I copied the inscriptions in the Pilcher Cemetery in 1974, I had difficulty reading the stones of Philip and Rebecca Washburn and Philip’s young brother Ira (whose twin Reuben died the same year as Ira). They are all buried near David and Esther in the old section of the cemetery.I remember getting down the ground and tracing the inscriptions with my fingers to determine the letters and numbers. I felt sad for Philip and Rebecca, married but young when they both died in 1841. What was their story?

Another Washburn family member, Cyrene (1814-1856) is buried nearby, too. I assumed he was a child of David and Esther, but according to Hoy Washburn’s wonderful research, Cyrene was David’s brother Stephen’s son. (Cyrene is a biblical name but for a place, rather than a person.)

Back to Francis Cooke: the Mayflower website gives some information about him, here. That site also gives famous descendants of the passengers, and the Cookes’ descendants include both Presidents Bush, Dick Van Dyke, “Grandma” Moses, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. How much joy it would’ve given my grandma to know she was distantly related to Roosevelt through her mother’s family! She was a stubborn Democrat and revered FDR.

(An addition from December 2018: I discovered and purchased a book by Nathaniel Morton, “New England Memorial,” which is the first history of Plymouth Colony–the first history published in the colonies, in fact—and contains information about Francis Cooke. Morton’s is the first publication of the text of the Mayflower Compact and its signers, including Cooke. The book was published in 1669: the one I purchased is the third edition from 1774, and the book had additional editions in 1826 and 1855. I mention this also because Morton came to the colony on the Ann–and thus my ancestor Hester Cooke was a shipmate with the future author of America’s earliest history, like her and Francis a Leiden separatist.)



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