September 25, 2011

Willis Ordway Was Warned

One of Aaron’s sons, Willis Johnson Ordway, must have found himself in a predicament in August 1817, in Pomfret, Vermont.

 In early New England, many towns abided by “warning out” laws.  Vermont abandoned those laws in 1787, but revived them from 1801 – 1818.  Warning Out laws gave the town authorities the power to ask folks who might not be able to support themselves or who might be troublemakers or transients to leave town.  When a newcomer moved into town, he was given one year to establish himself and meet the criteria set up by each town.  If a person could last a year without being warned out, time was up and the town had to accept him.  Warrants were required to be served within the first year the person was there. 

In Alden M. Rollins’ book, Vermont Warnings Out, Volume 2, Southern Vermont (Picton Press, Camden, Maine), Willis J. Ordway appears as having been served a warning out in the town of Pomfret, Vermont on August 12, 1817.  Willis Johnson Ordway was the second son of Aaron and Susannah Johnson Ordway, born  4 September 1794 in Strafford, Vermont.  He would have been 23 when this warrant was served, probably by the local constable.  The constable’s task was to serve the warrant within a particular time frame (usually about a week) by delivering it in person or by leaving it at the dwelling place of the person.  The town clerk would record the warrant in the town books and because of that, many records still exist for genealogists.  I would need to order the microfilm of those records to find out if any additional information was recorded about Willis’s situation.

According to Rollins, few people were actually expelled from towns in Vermont.  As long as the person settled in there and earned his keep or held a public office, which were hard to fill otherwise, he would be allowed to stay.  Even if he did go on the poor rolls of the town, that town had the right to send him back to the place from which he came, making the town of origin responsible for the person’s keep.
S = Strafford, P = Pomfret, N =Northfield

Looking ahead in the census, Willis made his way up to Northfield, northwest of Strafford by 1820 and by 1830, he was back in his hometown of Strafford, Vermont, living with his family. After 1840 sometime,he moved down with his father and brothers to Elk Township, Pennsylvania.

 So was he causing trouble in Pomfret or did they just think he was lazy and not contributing to his own keep?  Wish I knew.

September 19, 2011

Book Review - Forsaking All Others by Allison Pittman

Forsaking All Others by Allison Pittman

As a young woman, Camilla was more than ready to leave her parents to marry the handsome Nathan Fox and follow the leaders of the Mormon Church to Utah with him.  But when Nathan takes a second wife after he has two children (and one who doesn’t survive) with Camilla, it is hard for Camilla to reconcile this with the Christian beliefs with which she was raised.  She begins to question the teachings of the church and eventually feels so strongly that she leaves her daughters to make her way back to the parents she once deserted, thinking that she will eventually come back for her children once she has established a new home for them in her hometown.  Luckily, during her escape, she is rescued from a winter storm by Colonel Brandon and some of his soldiers from a nearby fort.  As she suffers from exposure and frostbite, they take her in and nurse her to wellness, help in her rescue, and escort her back home. 

When she returns to Salt Lake City to reclaim her daughters, she must face the wrath of the church and her husband, as well as the hurt feelings of her daughters.  Will Camilla’s faith stand strong as she faces the trials of beginning a new life?

This book reads quickly as we enjoy the romances between Nathan and Camilla and Camilla and Colonel Brandon, the adventures of traveling across America on horseback in the accompaniment of soldiers of the time, and the suspense of escaping the punishments that might be enacted by the “enforcers” of the Mormon church toward a deserter. 

I didn’t give this book the highest rating just because some parts seemed unbelieveable and too coincidental.  I will not reveal those incidents here, just because it would give away too much of the plot.  However, it was a very enjoyable book that took me away for awhile to an earlier time in America and gave me a glimpse of the early days among the Mormons in Salt Lake City.

Tyndale Publishing provided me a copy of this book for my review.  That in no way influenced my review.

September 13, 2011

Aaron Ordway and Susannah Johnson Ordway

Let’s keep going back in the family tree – (Fred, Lemuel, Richard, Harrison, and now Aaron) to my four greats grandfather, Aaron Ordway, born in Rumney, Grafton, New Hampshire, very close to the Vermont state line, on July 2, 1769.  He married Susannah Johnson, daughter of Willis Johnson and Jemima Smith Johnson, who was born in New Hampshire on May 11, 1774.  Just think… a few years before the Revolutionary War. 

When we visited in Strafford, Orange County, Vermont, we found quite a few of the birth records for the children of Aaron and Susannah, as this was where they settled after their marriage.  Many of these records are now online, but finding the records in the very old books was much more fun. 
So as far as I can determine, these are the children of Aaron and Susannah Ordway:
1.       William Ordway, born November 16, 1792 in Strafford
2.       Willis Johnson Ordway, born September 4, 1794
3.       Aaron Ordway born August 29, 1796
4.       Isaac Ordway born September 7, 1798
5.       Tamar Ordway (female) born April 18, 1800
6.       Abraham Ordway born April 11, 1803
7.       Mariah Ordway born August 13, 1805
8.       Lydia Ordway born October 7, 1807
9.       Harrison Ordway* born October 24, 1810
10.   Harvey S. Ordway born c 1819
11.   Benjamin, birthdate unknown
A sample page from a vital records book in Strafford.  This is really not original, but was copied from the original at some point a long time ago.  If you enlarge this, you will be able to spot some of the birth records for Aaron's children.

Most of the children of Aaron and Susannah were born in Vermont, except for perhaps the last three.  According to the censuses of 1800 and 1810 of Strafford, Vermont, the family resided there with their growing brood of children.  By 1820, the family had moved into New York, as the 1820 census for Genesee, Ontario County, New York showed Aaron there with wife and some of the children.
I have never been able to find Aaron in the 1830 census, but by 1840, the family was settled into Elk Township, Warren, Pennsylvania.  The census shows Aaron Ordiway as head of household, aged 70 – 80, with his wife,a ged 60-70 and one male, aged 20 – 25, probably Harvey.  Also some of the sons show up as neighbors as head of their own households: Harrison, Isaac, and Benjamin.  Up until 1850, only the head of household was named on the censuses, so we have to speculate, using the hash marks in various age groupings, which family members were living in the household at the time.

We visited Warren, Pennsylvania  on a research trip and, looking at  records in the archives there, we found the Ordways buying and selling land in Elk Township, sometimes as individuals and sometimes in partnership.


Some researchers have placed Aaron’s death in 1849.  I have found no record of his or Susannah’s deaths.  I’m sure that I just haven't looked in the right place yet.  Many of the children moved on to Lorain County, Ohio, but efforts to find the record there have not been successful.  Also no record of death was found in Warren, Pennsylvania.  In fact, I personally think Aaron might be listed in the 1850 census, living close to daughter, Mariah Ordway Ross and husband, Joel Ross.  If you have some proof of a burial place for Aaron and/or Susannah, I hope you will contact me.
We definitely had some New England determination and the quest for adventure in the Ordway family.  To leave Strafford, Vermont, Aaron’s childhood home, and travel with a large extended family around the Great Lakes from New York, to Pennsylvania, to Ohio and eventually, some went to Michigan and a few to Missouri, was quite a feat in those early days.  It was a poor, rough pioneer life for these folks.

September 8, 2011

A Newly Discovered Photo

I am always amazed at how this blog has reached across the miles...sometimes not very many others who connect to our families.  Many thanks to a newfound relative, Gary, a descendent of the Thomas C. Ordway family in Putnam County for this great photo of Thomas.  I am so grateful to have this photo to put with the story of this Civil War ancestor.
Read more about Thomas C. Ordway on this blog.