Tag Archives: Winnebago County Illinois

George Firth – declaring the mystery as solved…

It’s been over 8 years since I first knew of my 3x great grandfather George Firth, but I’m happy to say that today I officially merged George Firth, my ancestor from Yorkshire, with George Firth, the nephew of my 4x great grandfather, John Elliott in my genealogy software.

This means that my George and his wife, Susan Elliott (daughter of the above John Elliott), were also first cousins – not unheard of back then.

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George Firth (1837-1912)

George Firth is my 3x great grandfather, was born May 1, 1836 in in or near Womersley, Yorkshire, England. By process of elimination, I am almost certain that he was the son of Thomas Firth and Mary Elliott, sister of John Elliott.

At about 20 years of age, George came to America (ship, departure and dates unknown). George is enumerated in Winnebago County, Illinois on 1860 census, living with his aunt and uncle, Susanna and John Elliott and their children. There is also a James Firth living with the Elliott’s and George. Family rumor had always been that George came to America with an older brother.

On January 1, 1861 George Firth married John Elliott’s daughter Susannah in Rockford, Winnebago County, Illinois.
According to Susannah’s obituary, George had found work as a brickmaker for the construction of the Hospital for the Insane, west of Independence, which was the reason for their relocation to Buchanan County, Iowa. The hospital’s construction contract was signed on November 7, 1868, and work began straight away.

Above: the Firth homestead, probably Westburg Township, Buchanan
County, Iowa. I think George and daughter Sarah are in front.

George and Susannah had 11 children live to adulthood: Mary, Susan, John, Charles, <a href=”/2008/11/30/ellen-firth-1868/”>Ellen (my 2x great grandmother)</a>, Sarah, Alice, Emma, Nettie, Frank and George. Tragically, their daughter Susan died age 33 shortly after the birth of her first child, and daughter Mary was murdered by her husband William McWilliams.

In 1870 the census, Aug 27, shows the family living in Sumner Township, Buchanan County, Iowa. George was a teamster (wagon driver) and Susannah a housewife. He had a estate of approximately $700. The hildren appear as: Mary J. 8, Susan 7, John E. 5, Charles H. 3, Ellen 2, Sarah 5/12.

George died November 17, 1912. Both he and Susan are buried in Oakwood Cemetery (formerly known as Oak Grove Cemetery) in Buchanan County, Iowa.

Obituary

Nov. 20, 1912, Conservative, abstracted information….

George Firth died Sunday evening at his home in the First ward…for many years he was a resident of this county…in feeble health for the last year, his death the result of a complication of ailments…born Yorkshire, England, May 1, 1837, …at age 20 came to America and located near Rockford, Ill….in 1861 he was married to Miss Susan Elliott, and they had 11 children of which eight survive…one daughter, Mrs. Ellen Torrence, died only two seeks ago at her home near De Smet, SD….came to Iowa in 1868 and located on a farm just west of Independence…later bought a farm in Westburg township…resided on farm near this city up to the death of Mrs. Firth some five years ago…for the past four years Mr. Firth and daughter Sarah have lived in Independence where he died Sunday…surviving children are John, Charles, Frank, and Sarah, of Independence; George, of Medicine Hat, Canada, Mrs. Emma Miller of Goodwin, SD; Mrs. Nettie Clark, of Neosho, MO; Mrs. Alice Neidy, of Winthrop; 32 grandchildren; member Episcopal church of England… funeral services this afternoon by the pastor of the Methodist church with interment in Oak Grove…
Lot 573.

Similar obit in Nov. 21, 1912, Brandon Journal…

Resident of Buchanan Co for 44 years, ailing for a year or more with complications of kidney, stomach and bowel trouble…funeral at his home…spent boyhood in England coming to America at age 20 locating near Rockford, Illinois, until 1868 when to Buchanan county, IA….for a few years employed in work of building the Hospital afterward locating on a farm in Westburg township until 1900 when he went to a farm one mile west of the Hospital, his home until four years ago next spring when he came to Independence….married at Rockford, Illinois, Jan. 1, 1861, to Miss Susan Elliott who died March 10, 1907….daughter, Mrs. Oscar W. Torrence died Nov. 2, 1912, at her home in De Smet, SD…survived by eight children, same as Cons. obit with exception of Mrs. Emma E. Miller listed as living at Clear Lake, IA…

Swan funeral home records show that arrangements made by sons of the deceased, age 75, with no cause of death listed.

Transcription of death certificate:

George Firth
County of Buchanan
Township of Washington
City of Independence
Date of birth: May 1, 1837
Age at death: 75 yrs, 6 mo., 16 days
Widowed
Birthplace: England
Fathers name: Firth
” birthplace: England
Mothers maiden name: ( left blank)
” birthplace: England
Occupation: Retired
Informant: John Firth, Independence, Iowa
Date of death: November 17, 1912
Cause of death: ( This is illegible, Exli???ti?s )
Contributory: Atrophy of bowels with Abst?????
Place of Burial or Removal: Oakwood Cemetery, Independence,Iowa
Date of Burial: Nov. ??, 1912

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Last Will and Testament of John Elliott dated Dec 9, 1862

Winnebago County Court – Will of John Elliott

Written December 9, 1862

In the name of God, amen, I John Elliott of the County of Winnebago and State of Illinois, being of sound mind, and understanding the uncertainty of life make this my last will and testament, and hereby appoint Robert P. Sane of the same County and State my sole Executor to carry out the same-

First my personal property. I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Susana, excepting notes and credits due me.

Second I give and bequeath my farm of eighty acres of land, being the East half of the South East quarter of Section Ten in the Town of Winnebago to my wife Susana, during her natural life.

Third – I direct my large farm in Section Fourteen to be sold, and out of the proceeds of said sale, with any notes or credits due me, all my debts and the expenses of my funeral and a decent tombstone paid, – and the bal. securely invested at interest and the interest paid my wife Susana annually during her natural life; and at her death I direct all the above property or its proceeds divided equally amongst my ten children. viz Sarah, intermarried with Caleb Shurtliff, George now in Iowa, Elizabeth intermarried with John S. Bouck, Anna intermarried with Thomas Midgely, Susan intermarried with George Firth, Emma intermarried with James Falkner, Anna, John, Ester and Ellen.

Witness my hand and seal this ninth day of December AD 1862

In presence of
Robert P. Sane
W A Dickerman
G A Sanford

his
John x Elliott (seal)
mark

Filed January 16th 1875
B.F. Sec Clerk
By OB Shaw Dep

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John Elliott (1806-1874)

John Elliott was born May 16, 1806 in the hamlet of Stubbs Walden in the rural parish of Womersley located in Yorkshire, England. John’s parents were Joseph Elliott, a labourer, and Elizabeth Sellers. Not much is known about his younger years, other than he was the fifth of nine siblings.

John married Susannah Dawson in Campsall, South Yorkshire on December 11, 1826. Susannah (1806-1863) was the daughter of a local farmer and landowner, Henry Dawson, who died when she was four years old. John and Susannah married less than 3 months before her 21st birthday. On her 21st birthday she received £60 from her late father’s estate. (£60 in 1830 is equivalent to £48,164.21 in 2007 using the Average Earnings calculator).

In 1828, John and Susannah’s first known child, Sarah, was baptised at the parish church of Arksey, eight miles south of Campsall. From about 1830 to 1835, John and Susannah lived in Fenwick, within the parish of Campsall. During this time, their children George, Elizabeth and Hannah were born and baptised at Campsall parish church. From 1828-1835, John was described as a labourer on his children’s baptisms.

John and Susannah then moved to Hatfield (near Doncaster), eight miles east of Campsall. Their daughters Susannah, Emma and Ann were born to them 1837-1841. Interestingly, on these baptisms, John is described as a farmer, indicating he now owned land.

John, Susannah and their children are found on the 1841 census living in Hatfield. His occupation is farmer and he has a farm servant living in their household. A John Elliott appeared in the voter lists for Hatfield around 1838 and could be the same as the subject of this biography, as men had to own land to be eligible to vote.

A big change occurred in 1842 when John and Susannah emigrated to America with their children. They sailed from Hull, on the eastern coast of England on the Sir Edward Hamilton. They arrived in New York on June 18, 1842. The family then traveled to Illinois by boat through the Great Lakes and Erie Canal, then overland to Rockford, Winnebago County Illinois. They settled southwest of Rockford on Kent Creek in the spring of 1842. (This information from a letter dated Jan 25, 1985 obtained by another researcher). It was probably the spring of 1843 that they settled in Illinois. I would love to know where they spent the first 8 months of their lives in the US.

According to historian Faye Hilton: “He [John] wanted to buy the NW quarter of Section 14, Winnebago Township from the government, but speculators got there first and made him pay twice the official price. He eventually owned 240 acres at the SW corner of Cunningham and Weldon Roads, where the Daniel Smith family later succeeded him.” Census records show that Daniel Smith was their neighbor.

John and Susannah had three more children in Illinois: John, Esther and Ellen finally in 1849. Amazingly, that’s nearly 20 years of childbirth for Susannah. Though history has shown that occasionally an illegitimate grandchild was raised and known outside the family as a daughter, I don’t wish to speculate either way in this case!

For the 1860 census, John and Susannah are recorded with their children Susan, Ann, John, Henry (aka Esther!), and Ellen Elliott. Also recorded in the household are James Firth age 30 and George Firth age 24. George and James were nephews of John.

I got interested in what their farms and personal estate was worth, so I’ve calculated some 2007 equivalents using a Consumer Price Index calculator

John Elliott’s recorded values of real estate and personal estate, compared against the 2007 equivalent
Census year Real estate value 2007 equivalent Personal estate 2007 equivalent
1850 $2000 $54,779.92 not recorded N/A
1860 $10,200 $262,393.10 $1000 $25,724.80
1870 $15,400 $252,416.35 $400 $6,556.27

I think it’s fair to say they did pretty well!

All of John and Susannah’s children lived to adulthood apart from John, who died January 15, 1863, age 18, in Nashville, Tennessee, due to illness after fighting in the Civil War, in the 74th Illinois Volunteers, Company C.

Their children George, Elizabeth and Susan moved to Buchanan County, Iowa in their early married life and raised families. Two of their other children spent some time in Iowa but ultimately moved on.

Other relatives of John and Susannah also came to Illinois over the years… Dawson and Moate. Their stories will eventually be told as I find the time!

John Elliott died December 24, 1874 in Winnebago age 68. Wife Susannah preceded him in death by 11 years, on February 24, 1863 just a few days before her 57th birthday.

I’ve also transcribed John’s last will and testament.

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