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LEWIS ALDRICH WILKINSON is a native of Rhode Island, and was born in Cumberland, Aug. 8, 1800.
He is a lineal descendant of Lawrence Wilkinson, who came to America and settled in Providence in 1645, only nine years after Roger Williams. Lawrence was the son of William Wilkinson and Mary (Conyers) his wife, sister of Sir John Conyers, Bart., and grandson of Lawrence Wilkinson of Harperley House, Lanchester, County Durham, England. He was a Lieutenant in the Royal Army, and was taken prisoner at the fall of New Castle by the Scotch and Cromwellian troops, while striving to sustain the tottering throne of King Charles I. His estates were sequestered by order of Parliament, and with the permission of Lord Fairfax he left his fatherland with his wife and child never to return.
On arriving at Providence he was immediately received into the fellowship of the infant colony, and lands were granted him as an original proprietor.
He subsequently took up about 1000 acres in and around Providence. He was a member of the Legislature, or "Commissioner's Court," for several years, and died Aug. 9, 1692. His wife was Susannah, daughter of Christopher Smith. They had six children: Samuel, Susannah, John, Joanna, Josias, Susannah. His son JOHN married April 16, 1689, Deborah Whipple, and had John, Jr., Mary, Sarah, Freelove, Daniel, and Jeremiah. (See "Memoirs of Wilkinson Family," p. 47.) John was an extensive land owner in Cumberland R.I., and settled near the "Dexter Lime Rock" on the Blackstone River; was wounded in King Phillip's War, and received a pension in 1682 from the "General Assembly" of Rhode Island. He was a member of the Legislature, or "Deputy for Providence to the General Court" several terms and died suddenly April 10, 1708.
His son JEREMIAH was born June 4, 1707, married Elizabeth A. Whipple, and had twelve children of whom was JEMIMA, who after hearing Rev. Geo. Whitefield preach, became a singular religious enthusiast or monomaniac, and was called by some the "Prophetess", but she assumed the name of the "UNIVERSAL FRIEND", and founded a society, and finally settled in New York near Crooked Lake, and named the country "New Jerusalem", which it still retains. She died in 1819, leaving a large estate of about 10,000 acres, which to-day is worth over $3,000,000, but which has never been in possession of her heirs. The matter is being investigated, and the prospects are favorable.
Jeremiah was a farmer and inventor and cut the first nails from cold iron in the world; he also invented a nail machine, card machine and drew the first wire in America.
His son Stephen, the father of Lewis A., was born Jan. 29, 1755, and married, first, Elizabeth Sheldon, daughter of Roger Sheldon of Massachusetts, and had Sally, Preston, Manning, Leonard, Rufus, Lewis A., and Barton H. He served in the Revolutionary War and was shot through the face in the battle of Rhode Island. May 5, 1805, when Lewis was about four years old, his father left Cumberland, and moved his family, via New York, Hudson River, and Mohawk River, thence by wagon to East Bloomfield, Seneca Co., N.Y., where they remained one season, and raised a crop on rented lands, and the next season (1806, the year of the total eclipse), went to West Bloomfield and raised another crop, and then by way of New Jerusalem to the "Friend's" residence, where they remained a short time. Not liking the country, he determined to proceed to what is now Covington, Wyoming Co., N.Y., where he had previously taken up 1355 acres of land.
The Friends strongly opposed Stephen's going to the Genesee Country, as it was then called, but he was resolute, and settled on Allen's Creek, built himself a log hut, and commenced clearing a farm in the wilderness. They reached this place March 10, 1807. Their nearest neighbor was a mile distant through dense forests, and their nearest place of trade was Canandaigua - sixty miles away, where they purchased their bread stuff, etc.
Deer, wolves, bears and other wild animals were common, and would frequently bound in among the cattle and frighten them. There were no schools, no advantages, and their deprivations and sufferings were very great. On his exploring tour, previous to their moving he found the Indians friendly, and ate with them and slept in their wigwams: and, at their suggestion, had climbed a tall tree and gazed over (as he expressed it) the most beautiful region the eye ever rested upon. Now they were on the ground, and were soon to experience the terrible hardships of pioneer life.
The year after their arrival, the family was seized with typhoid fever. The mother was the first victim, and died Dec. 1808, and in January Manning died, in February Leonard died, and the rest of the family were all sick. The neighbors did not dare to come into the house, and the trembling, broken-hearted father laid out his own dead and consigned them, in their last resting place. It was a sad time. Four boys survived, but they were young, and the father and boys were obliged to do the work both in doors and out. Their clothing was soon gone and there was no way of replacing it. These poor boys, clothed in rags, whenever a person stopped at the cabin, would hide themselves until he departed.
In 1813, Mr. Wilkinson married Lucy Botsford in New Jerusalem, a member of Jemima's Society, an excellent woman. The children found in her a second mother indeed. In 1811, a log school house was built, and, here Lewis A, first learned his letters under the tuition of Elder Story of the M.E. Church. Schools were sometimes kept in private houses for a short time, and at one time in an old tannery near by.
Until he attained his majority he aided his father on the farm for several years. His father's health had been failing, and the three boys were obliged to take charge of the farm - the oldest being a cripple from the effects of the fever spoken of settling in one of his limbs.
His father died Aug. 4, 1821, and the farm was divided among the four boys. By their mother's request, Preston, the cripple, lived with his mother on the homestead. In 1824, Lewis A. built a house of hewn logs on his own farm, which was all new and heavy timbered, on Allen's Creek flats, which required much hard labor before he could raise anything. In 1825, he married Emily M. Smith, daughter of Jesse aud Lydia (Dart) Smith.
Emily was born at Williston, Vt., and at three she was carried by her widowed mother to Hampton, N. Y., to live with her uncle, Daniel Rockwell, who married Lucretia Dart. They were the parents of Dennis Rockwell, was appointed at Washington to select the place and establish the first land office in Illinois. He selected Jacksonville. Mrs. Rockwell, some years after the death of her husband, married the Hon. Jason Kellogg of Hampton, Washington County, N.Y. For a short time Emily was sent to a school at Poultney, Vt.
After her mother's marriage with Aaron Spaulding of New Marlborough, Mass., she with her sister accompanied her parents to that place where she was kept in school till 1812, when her father sold his possessions and moved to the Genesee country. He carried mill irons, and in company with James Sprague, built a saw mill on Allen's Creek one mile from Mr. Wilkinson's, which was the first and only saw mill for s great many miles around, and was greatly needed. Here he hewed the timber and put up the frame of a house and covered it with bark until he sawed boards at his own mill.
They arrived at their place of destination June 30, at midnight, having traveled from twelve at noon, from what is now called Le Roy Village, a distance of about ten miles. There were no roads, but marked trees, and a kind of path. There were no schools near, and Emily walked three miles daily, a part of one summer to attend a district school, and afterwards attended the Middlebury Academy in charge of Elder Bradley, a Baptist Minister. Forming the acquaintance of Mr. Wilkinson, there were married as above stated, and in March 1826, moved into their new log house and commenced housekeeping, clearing the land and farming, and continued thus employed for a period of about eleven years.
Mr. Wilkinson had been favorably impressed with the western country, and had resolved with his brother Barton to take a trip to this country. They accordingly in 1835, took the stage to Buffalo, the steamer to Detroit; from there they chartered a team to Niles, Mich., and at the mouth of the St. Joseph, by sloop to Chicago. From Chicago they went to Joliet, Ill. and thence on foot to Door Prairie, Ind. This was the most beautiful country they had seen, and Mr. W. determined to make it his future home.
June 30, 1835, they stopped at Laporte, at a tavern situated where "Huntsman Hall" now stands. On the following morning they took the stage for Detroit, and reached that place on the 4th of July. In Nov. 1836, he sold his farm in New York and went to Fort Wayne, Ind., and entered three eighties, and then bought in Scipio Township 170 acres on Sec. 18, and moved his family to this place.
They reached there Sept. 15, 1837, and moved into a log cabin sixteen feet square, where they stayed three years, often in harvest having between twenty and thirty work-hands. It was before the time of reapers. In 1839 he commenced building, and erected a barn and cottage. Nov. 23, 1840 on the fifteenth aniversary of their marriage, they moved into their cottage. In 1839, his wheat crop of one hundred acres yielded an average of forty-five bushels to the acre. His house, farm, and crops in earlier days frequently secured the first premiums at the county fairs.
During the Rebellion they were active in connection with the Sanitary Commission. The Ladies Soldiers' Aid Society, of which Mrs. Wilkinson was Secretary, at Door Village, contributed $16,682 from Oct. 1861 to May 1865, for the benefit of our brave boys who were in the field. In the proceedings of the "Loyal Women of the Republic" held in New York May 14, 1863, is recorded the following sentiment, being a brief extract from a letter of Mrs. Wilkinson to the President of that meeting. She says, speaking on behalf of the Soldiers' Aid Society:
"We will labor with all our might, mind and strength for a free country, where there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude. As our mothers stood by the Government in the Revolution, so we, like them, will stand by the present Administration. We believe the sin of slavery to be the cause of this horrid war, therefore we hail with gladness the ninth section of the Confiscation Law and the Proclamation of Freedom by the President."
Mr. W., after reserving a scanty living, devoted the proceeds of his farm to the Union Cause.
They still live at the old homestead, about two miles west of Door Village, and have had seven children: Frances, Francis Marion, Stephen R., Edwin R., Lewis H. (commonly called Hartie), Emily M. and Martha A.
STEPHEN R. is unmarried; was educated in Laporte, and is a person of extensive reading, and a practical phrenologist.
EDWIN R. is a farmer. Married first Mary A. Boardman; second, Sarah A. Van Meter, and has four children, Van Edgar, Lewis F., Etta E., LuEmma. He was formerly in the machine shop at Aroma, Ill., in company with his brother Lewis H., but now resides at Earl Park, Benton Co., Ind.
LEWIS H. was educated in Laporte; married Elizabeth A. Rice, a school teacher, sina parole. He has been engaged in the manufacture of agricultural implements in Michigan City and Laporte; is now in the employ of the Champion Machine Co., Springfield, Ohio, traveling in the Southern States. He is an inventor, and has patented an "Improved Cultivator."
ALONZO ROBINSON CUTLER is of English descent. His father, Leonard Cutler, was a native of Bennington, Vt., and shortly after his marriage, in 1811, emigrated to Upper Canada, where land, then being cheap, he determined to make his home. But, as war between Great Britain and the United States was about to break out, he concluded that what fighting he did, should be on the of his own country. Accordingly, he left Canada, and moved into the state of New York, volunteered, and became a soldier in our second war for independence. He belonged to an artillery company, and did good service in that memorable conflict.
After the close of the war, he moved into Jennings County, Ind., then a vast wilderness, tenanted by wild beasts and savages. Here, he cleared up a timbered farm, mostly with his own hands, and remained five or six years. About 1825, he moved to White Pigeon Prairie, Mich. This was a wild Indian country, with no white settlers except Judge Winchell, who was the first settler, and Mr. Cutler was the second in all these parts.
There being no architects, no house builders, then in the country, he planned and built his own log cabin, purchased lands, and being a man fond of civilization and society, and wishing the early settlement of the country, his cabin for the first few years was always open to the coming settlers and landlookers.
Soon, this wilderness began "to blossom like a rose", and the cabins to dot the prairies in every direction; and, being a man of uncommon energy, perserverance and economy, and proverbial for his honesty, and with the aid of his three sons, he soon rose from the condition of a poor man, to that of a well-to-do farmer with all the comforts of life.
But, hearing of the fertile lands of Door Prairie in Indiana, he sold his farm at White Pigeon for $3,000, and in 1831 removed to Laporte County. Here, he bought several sections of land at Congress price and made him a new home where he lived for many years.
The West and the new country, however, still had charms for him, and he again moved, near Decorah, Iowa, where he now resides in the full enjoyment of the Christian faith, respected and honored as an honest man by all who know him.
He was born in 1780, and is now over 93 years of age. He married first, Mercy Cutler, and had seven children, three of whom are living, and the rest died young.
1. Morice D., the oldest son, moved to Wisconsin in 1836, and
settled at Waukesha, and was, and is now, one of the principal proprietors
of the city.
2. John studied medicine, graduated, and emigrated to California in 1849, and though he was an "old line Whig", and his party being greatly in the minority, yet he was elected to the Legislature, and was afterwards elected county judge, which office he held for quite a number of years.
3. Alonzo R., was born Feb. 26, 1812, and came of military stock. As we have stated above, his father was in the War of 1812, and at the age of eighteen, Alonzo united with the old fashion militia - was elected one of the non-commissioned officers, and was the officer who warned out his company for general muster at White Pigeon, Michigan.
In 1831 he left that state and came with his father to Laporte County, Indiana. After attaining his majority, and being, like his father, an ambitious and energetic pioneer, and desirous of making something for himself, he moved to Wisconsin in 1836, and settled at Prairieville - the place now known as Waukesha. At that time, it was a wild, uncultivated Indian country. He built his cabin on the banks of the Fox River, on unsurveyed lands, among the Indians - the Indians having yet a right to the country. Here he made his settlement, and after three years, purchased the lands upon which the Waukesha Mills now stand, and where the best part of the Waukesha City is now located.
He sold his possessions here in 1839, and then commenced land speculations. He bought lands in Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota, and afterwards engaged in loaning money and buying unmatured promissory notes. Through a dealer in the various departments of trade, his employment in early life was, and is noto, that of a farmer. He lives in a very handsome and convenient frame house, the front yard ornamented with a beautiful pine grove, part of which was planted by his own hands over thirty years ago.
Mr. Cutler married, December 27, 1842, Sarah Church, and has had six children; three only are now living. Their names are as follows: Morris C., Mary E., Austin, George W., Emma, and Lewis.
Austin was educated, in part, at the Michigan University at Ann Arbor. In addition to his other studies, he attended lectures on different subjects, and graduated with high honors in chemistry and pharmacy, receiving a diploma certifying the same. He is a fine organist and pianist, having received his musical education at Oberlin College, Ohio. His commercial education in banking, book-keeping and steamboating was obtained at the latter institution. He received the usual diploma in all these branches. He is a merchant, and resides at Geneva Lake, Wisconsin.
While yet a school-boy, only eighteen years of age, during the late Rebellion, Austin threw down his books, cast aside his slate, left school, shouldered his musket, and volunteered in Company B, 138th Regiment Indiana Volunteers, and faithfully served in the Union army; was honorably discharged, receiving the thanks of President Lincoln, and a certificate of honorable service near the close of the war.
George and Lewis are also good scholars, farmers by occupation; but in winter they engage in school-teaching.
The lessons drawn from the life of such a man as Mr. Cutler must have a salutary influence upon the youth of succeeding generations. Here they may learn that energy, perserverance, and industry will raise any well-disposed man from the lowest depths of poverty to a position of affluence and wealth.
Leonard Cutler married, secondly, Ellen Blair, a sister of Judge Blair, of Porter County, and had Mary, Catherine, Ellen, James, William, David and Leonard, all living but Mary, who married Dr. F. Hunt of New York City. James is Recorder of Mitchell County, Iowa; William has served as sheriff of said county; David is a fine dentist; the rest are intelligent farmers, all married, and residing in Iowa.
WILLIAM DEMYER was born in Kingston, Ulster County, N.Y., April 22, 1812.
His ancestor, William Demyer, was born in Holland, September 20, 1655, married, October 20, 1678, Catherine Bayard, and had Nicholas and Johannes.
Nicholas married, June 13, 1713, Elsie Schoonmaker, and had Benjamin, born October 19, 1729. Benjamin married Elizabeth Wyncoop, February 20, 1744, and had Elizabeth, John, Nicholas and Mary.
John married, in 1801, Elida Smith, and had Benjamin, Stephen, Hannah C., Abraham S., William, Nicholas, Mary A., and D.W. Clinton.
William married, first, Ann Eliza Woodmansee, of Kingston, N.Y., and had William W., Mary A., Sarah A., and John R. Mrs. Demyer died in 1872 and is buried in the cemetery at Kingsbury, Ind.
Mr. Demyer married, secondly, Mrs. Rachel S. (Benscoter) Demyer, his brother's widow, sine parole. William W. married M. Elizabeth Jackson, and has Celia A., Ada and Ida (twins), and John J.
Mr. Demyer, the subject of this sketch, was educated in private
schools in New York, aided his father on the farm until sixteen years
of age, then engaged as a clerk in a variety store where he continued
eight years. In 1837 he married and moved to Laporte County, Ind.
and purchased 160 acres of land south of his present residence. In
1860 he bought the farm he now occupies, and built a substantial
farm mansion, a lithograph of which is contained in this volume.
(Transcriber's note: I do not have this picture at this time).
Through the Wyncoops, Mr. Demyer is descended from Anneke Jans (Bogardus), who was the owner of the New York Trinity Church property, worth, probably $300,000,000. This property was leased by her ninety-nine years. When the lease expired, the heirs did not claim it in season, and the occupants hold it by right of possession. The matter has been litigated, but the heirs have not as yet been successful.
The descent is as follows: Anneke Jans, and had William, who married Wintjie Suybrant; they had Everadus, who married Siatie Huffman; they had Maria, who married Johannes Wyncoop; they had Elizabeth, who married Benjamin Demyer; they had John, who married Elida Smith - the parents of William, the subject of this sketch.
The Suybrant estate in Holland, amounting to $70,000,000, belongs to the heirs of Wintjie Suybrant, who married William Bogardus, the fifth ancestor on the stream of time back from Mr. Demyer. This property has never been claimed by the heirs.
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