July 19, 2011

Five Brothers/ Three Stories - Middleton S. Ordway

Middleton Smith Ordway, the third son of Harrison and Philina Ordway, was born August 31, 1840 in Pennsylvania.  Middleton’s middle name, Smith, was probably bestowed to honor Harrison’s grandmother, born Jemima Smith. Middleton was one of the brothers who settled in Michigan after marrying Mary Jane Cleveland on March 15, 1863 when he was 22 and she was 19.  I could find no record of Middleton enlisting , being chosen in the draft, or serving in the War Between the States.

Middleton and Mary Jane settled down near Grass Lake, Jackson Township, Michigan.  The Agricultural Census for Grass Lake, dated June 1, 1872 indicated that Middleton owned 22 acres of improved land, 5 acres of woodland, and 13 acres of unimproved land, valued at $1000.  At that time also, he owned 1 horse, 2 mules or asses, 4 cattle, 13 sheep, and 2 swine, for a total value of $250.  He had no harvest to report.
Agriculture Census, Grass Lake, Michigan 1872

Three children were born to Mary Jane and Middleton: Bertha, born 1862; Hanson (Hauser) Burnham, born 1873, and Russell, born 1875.  Unfortunately, Middleton lived a short life, dying at the age of 37 years, 10 months and 21 days as a result of a fatal buggy accident, according to his death certificate.  This obituary from the Jackson Daily Citizen, Wednesday, July 10, 1878, described the accident and its aftermath well:

The Fatal Accident on the Page Road Yesterday Afternoon, Resulting in the Sudden Death of M. S. Ordway, of Grass Lake.

At half past three o’clock yesterday afternoon as Middleton S. Ordway, a well-to-do farmer of Grass Lake township, was driving eastward on the Page road, near the Air Line Junction, in company with Mr. James Fish, a neighbor, the horse, a very unreliable animal, became frightened at the whistles of the locomotives and started to run.  The horse was owned by Mr. Fish, but Mr. Ordway was driving, and pulling up on the reins suddenly, she became still more fractious, surged around, broke the shafts, and capsized the buggy. Mr. Ordway, a heavy man, struck on his head, and Mr. Fish fell on him, with the buggy binding them both to the earth, while the horse disengaged itself from the vehicle,and galloped away. 

Police constable George Mann and Mr. Benj. Weiger happened to be driving into town at the time, and were on the spot when the accident happened.  Assistance was at once summoned, the men extricated from the ruins of the buggy and taken into Railroad House, close by, kept by James Mills, where Mr. Ordway was laid on the floor and Dr. North immediately telegraphed for, but he died in about ten minutes before the doctor’s arrival.  Mr. Fish was badly bruised, and being an old man, suffered severely from the nervous shock, but he was sent home in the evening in a comfortable condition.

Coroner Finn was notified and instructed officer Mann to impanel a jury, which he did, consisting of A. D. Shearwood, Patrick Casey, M. W. Parish, S. E. Rogers, Christian Frey and Charles Myers.  They viewed the body which was brought to the city and prepared for burial by John Weeks, and the friends were notified, who arrived in the evening and took the remains to Grass Lake. 
The jury met again this morning at the Coroner’s office and after examining witnesses, rendered a verdict that ‘deceased came to his death by concussion of the brain by being thrown from a buggy, drawn by a runaway horse, who was frightened at the locomotives’ whistles, but no blame could be attached to the railroad company or any of its employees, as the horse was uncontrollable, and the engine at least a quarter mile distant from the scene of the accident.’

Mr. Ordway lived on his farm five miles south-east of Grass Lake, in Fishville, where he leaves a family of a wife and three children,in comfortable circumstances.  He was only 34 years of age.” (age incorrect)

Mary Jane, left with three young children, did marry again four years later to Thomas Knickerbocker.   Thomas and Mary Jane had one daughter together, Leta, born in 1884.  Mary Jane died at the age of 56 on March 18, 1900 of meningitis and she is buried with Middleton in Grass Lake, Michigan.

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