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Mercer County Home Page
History - Part 2
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Families that Migrated from Maine to Mercer County

As early as 1839 families began arriving in Mercer County from the state of Maine. Most seemed to come directly, while others followed the usual pattern of movement first to Ohio, or Indiana, and then later to Mercer County. We are very curious about the early settlers who came direct. How did they hear about Mercer County? Why did they choose it? What was their mode of transportation? We will name these families all on this page and link them to their family pages here - perhaps seeing all the names in one place will help researchers in some way. If there is not a clickable link shown we don't have information up yet on the family. On some families, we have no more information than shown on this page. We will include some from other townships in case it triggers a connection for researchers.

A cautionary note for researchers: We used Eulalia Garrett's book for the 1860 Mercer County, Illinois, census, and while it is a wonderful source, we notice many families shown as born Maryland are found noted as born Maine in later census records. We were curious about this and looked up some of the original census records and they are not necessarily mistranscribed in the book - apparently sometimes the census taker could not read his own notes when he filled out the forms! So also beware of original 1860 Mercer County census records.

Transportation to Mercer County

Ann Rothery tells us that the obituary of her gggrandparents says that "Nehemiah and Louisa Blaisdell made the entire trip by wagon." Nehemiah is one that is found in Mercer County by 1840. It boggles the mind that these people in that time period came all the way from Maine by wagon. No doubt a group of families came together. Karen Gray tells us that the Josiah Gray family came to Mercer County in 1854 from Maine - taking a train to Chicago and then wagons to near Keithsburg. Some of Nadine Holder’s ancestors (from New York) took the Erie Canal, then a steamer on the Great Lakes, and then a wagon from the Chicago area in Illinois to eastern Iowa and this could have been a route from Maine as well.


Albee Family

James Albee, age 59, laborer, born Maine is shown in Millersburg Township in 1860. He has wife Jane (Strickland), 46, Me, and children: Otis, 14, Me; Sarah, 10, Me; Vernon, 6, Me, and David, 4, Me. There were intermarriages with the Fuller and Hersom families (see below).

Bean Families

The Bean Families that settled in both Rock Island County and Mercer County at an early date probably came from Beans Corner near Jay, Maine. There were connections with the Fuller family (see below) in Mercer County.

Bigelow

Joseph Bigelow's migration to Mercer County from Maine has a twist. We received a note from Denise McMahon in Australia where she and a cohort are researching Americans who left their homeland and came to Australia during the gold rush. Joseph Bigelow was one of those who arrived in Australia in 1853 with other young men from Maine - including three cousins. They believe Joseph later settled in Eliza Township in Mercer County, Illinois. Joseph Bigelow married America Young on 8/28/1879 in Mercer County. We find him in Eliza Township in 1880: Joseph Bigelow, 52, born Maine, parents born Maine; Amessia Bigelow, 29, born Iowa, parents born Ohio; Theresa Mason, daughter, 15, born New York, parents born New York; Enos Young, brother-in-law, 17, born Ia, parents Ohio; Hugh Howard, farm laborer, 30, born Oh, father born Pa; mother born Va. There is more about Theresa Mason on the Mason page.

Now the big question: Who were the three cousins of Joseph who also went to Australia? There are other Bigelows in Mercer County: In 1860 in Richland Grove Township, John Bigelow, age 16, laborer, born NY, with the William Morey family whose wife Sarah was also born New York; in 1870 in Aledo, Horace Bigelow, age 35, a printer for the Aledo Record, born New York; in Preemption Township, Edwin Bigelow, 40, farmer, born New York and family. We note that Joseph's "daughter" Theresa Mason, was born New York, so these Bigelows might have been related to Joseph? (probably not the Australian cousins as they were of Maine.)

Blaisdell

One of the earliest arrivals were two Blaisdell families who are found in the 1840 census: Ralph and Dorcas Ricker Blaisdell and their sister-in-law, Olive Horsum Blaisdell, widow of John Drew Blaisdell. Olive made a public land purchase in 1839 in Section 3 in future New Boston Township. Also see Horsum entry below.

Briggs

There are duplicate records for this family in the 1860 Census in Mercer County: #1715 Alonzo Briggs, 60, laborer, born Maine; Dessa Briggs, 40, born Maine; Francis G. (male), laborer, age 17; Isadore, 10: Belsora, 8; all born Maine. The other record, #1749, gives Dorsey Briggs, wife, age 44, and Francis as a female (he was a male), with the rest of the family the same. Ann Rothery is researching this family and tells us that Alonzo Briggs and Hadassa Blaisdell published an intent to marry in Jay, Maine in May 1831. They apparently returned to Maine and are found there in the 1870 and 1880 census.

Dorse

Freeman Dors is found in Keithsburg in 1860: Freeman, 63, farmer, born Maine; Nancy, 64, Me; Philinda, 23, Me; James F., 23, Me. With them is a Fred Parsins, painter, 25, born Maine. Also in Keithsburg are two sons: Freeman, Jr., 36, born Me; Rhoda [Fish, see below], 35, Me; Mary, 9, Me; Alice, 7, Me; Fanny, 5, Me; Rozilla, 3, Il; Harvey, 8/12, Il; and George, 27, laborer, born Me; Melissa, 23, Me; Florilla, 3, Il. Dates indicate they came to Illinois before 1857. Freeman Sr's daughter Philinda married Silas Hillman Fuller (see Fuller link below) in Mercer County in 1864. There were several Dorse descendants still in Keithsburg Township in 1900.

Eames

In the 1860 census in Eliza Township we find "Unknown" Eames, 50, born Me; Jane W. Eames, 14, born Me. He may have been husband of Louisa Wing (see below)

Fish

Next door to the Dorse family in Keithsburg in 1860, indicating they probably came to Mercer County together, is John Wesley Fish and family: John W. Fish, 43, laborer, born Me; Elvira, 42, Me; Alonzo, 24, Me; Charles, 16, Me; Sarah, 13, Me; Olive, 9, Me. Karen Gray tells us that John Fish sold land in Somerset, Maine, on 25 August 1855. The family is found in the Town of Anson, Somerset Co, Maine in 1850, where they are again next to a Dorse family member: #51 John W. Tish (old "T"s and "F"s often looked alike), 34, Cooper, Me; Elvira, 32, Me; Alonzo, 13, Me; Melissa A.,10, Me; Urvine, 10, Me; Charles H., 6, Me; Sarah E., 3, Me; Albert, 2, Me; Olive 2/12, Me.

John Wesley Fish'son Ervin (Urvine above) served with him in Company G 30th Illinois Infantry. Erving Fish is buried in Greenmound Cemetery, born 1832 (1840 per census above) died May 25, 1872. John Wesley Fish enlisted from Keithsburg on September 19, 1861, mustered in Jan 13, 1863 and was discharged March 26, 1863 as disabled. John applied for a pension on February 17, 1869 and received certificate #111403. Widow Elvira applied as a widow on March 7, 1885 and received certificate #253491. John W. has a GAR marker in Greenmound Cemetery but no dates are given. Wesley Fish is listed in Keithburg City in 1870: #13 Wesley, 54, laborer, born Maine; Elvira, 53, born Maine, Charles, 24, born Maine, harnessmaker; and grandson Augustus Fish, 4, son of Sarah who married Ebenezer Gray.

Fuller

A family intimately connected with the Blaisdell's was the Fuller family. Several families came starting in about 1842. Sam Fuller has researched this family extensively in Maine and there is a link to his Web Site on the Fuller page.

Gray

This is another family that virtually invaded Mercer County at an early date, those from Maine coming about 1854. Karen Gray is researching the Josiah and Lucinda Fish Gray family of Somerset County, Maine. Lucinda's half-sister was married to Freeman Dorse, Jr. also of Maine (above). We are putting up a Gray page because at least one Gray family (of Kentucky) lived in New Boston Township. We have included some information on all the Gray families in Mercer.

Hearsum, Hersom, Herson, Horsum?

The wife of John Drew Blaisdell was Olive Horsum. (See Blaisdell entry above.) We are suspicious that the Hearsum/Hersom families found in Mercer County at the same time as the Blaisdells may be connected in some way, especially since the spelling seems to vary a great deal. The family of Samuel Herson, age 56, born Maine, is found in New Boston Township in 1860. Ann Rothery believes Samuel was a nephew of Olive Horsum. He was married to Margaret Blaisdell, probably a daughter of Ralph and Dorcas Blaisdell. Samuel and family are gone by 1870 and we will not be putting up a page for them, though they are in our area of study, since we have only the single census record (see below). A Lucien Hearsum, age 30, born Maine, and family are found in Millersburg Township in 1860. Nearby is Augustus Hersom, age 30, born Me, and family (wife Mary Jane Albee). They are next door to the Albee family (above) and have one of the Albee children with them in 1870. In 1860 a Samuel Hersom, age 21, born Maine and family is near the others in Millersburg Township.

The 1860 census record for Samuel Herson, Household 1754, New Boston Township: Samuel, 56, farmer, Maine; Margaret, 52, Maine; Elias, 30, Me; Sarah, 26, Maine; Harrison, 24, Maine; Stephen, 20, Me; Sylvanus, 18, Me; Mary, 14, Il; Samuel, 11, Il. These records indicate Samuel and family came from Maine between 1842 and 1846. Sons Elias and Stephen are found as retail grocers in Sugar Creek in Poweshiek County, Iowa in 1880. Augustus Hersom above is also in Sugar Creek indicating a close connection. Judy Stenerson tells us that Augustus was son of Samuel and Margaret.

Holmes

Next door to the Augustus Hersom family (above) in Duncan Township in 1870, we find John Holmes and family, born Maine #124. John is age 26. At # 131 is David Holmes, age 25, born Maine, and family. At #132 is a Wentworth Holmes, age 21, born Maine; Elsia Holmes, age 56, born Maine, who is evidently the mother; Calvin P. Holmes, 15; Melvin B. Holmes, age 17, born Maine. There are other Holmes families in Mercer County but they are mostly born Pennsylvania.

Knox

According to the History of Mercer County 1882, Asa Knox came from Maine to Mercer County in 1842, as in 1841 he had taken a claim in New Boston Township (not found in public land records). A possible brother, George Knox, was married to Clarissa Fuller of the above Fuller family and they too came to Mercer County. We will be putting up a Knox page but have temporarily linked this to Fuller. Karen Gray's husband is a descendant of the Moses Knox family of Jay Maine who came in 1841. Also see link to Knox family by Marna Wilson on the page.

Perkins

In 1850 in Township 14N Range 4W we find Barzilla Perkins, 37, laborer, born Maine; Mona(?) or Marra(?), 27, born Maine; Mark, 8; Ellen, 5; both born Maine. Next door to them is Dorcas Blaisdell, 71, widow of Ralph Blaisdell. The Blaisdell Family Association has Maria Blaisdell, as daughter of Ralph and Dorcas, and married to Barzilla Perkins. The family is not in Mercer County in 1870. Link is to Blaisdell family.

Pomeroy, Pomroy

This family was intimately connected with the Fullers and Blaisdells so we will be adding a page for them. In the meantime the link is to the Fuller page.

Strickland

John Strickland was married to Rachel Blaisdell and came to Mercer County with the Blaisdell family. Link is to Blaisdell family. There was also a connection to the Albee Family (above).

Wade and Tarr Families

In the 1860 census in Millersburg #1602 and #1603 are a Wade family and a Tarr family from Maine. They are of interest to us as James Wade was at one time an operator of the New Boston Ferry. We have included the census on the Tarr family on the Wade page. In looking for more information on the Wade family we found James's son Leander working as a lumberman in the town of Maine, Outagamie Township, Wisconsin, in 1880 - a town almost entirely populated by Maine families!

Wing

This family was found in Eliza Township by 1850. There were connections with the Pomeroy, Blaisdell, and Strickland families. We will be putting up a page for them. In the meantime the link is to the Culick page.

We found two Wing sons in 1850 in Eliza Township: #59 Richard Melton, 23, farmer, born England; Susan, 34, England; Daniel Wing, 17, Me; Joseph Wing, 15, Me; Amanda Melton, 5, Il; Platt Mott, 48, laborer, New York. We SPECULATE that perhaps Susan was a Wing widow?

Daniel Wing married Elizabeth Seybert 5/1/1853 in Will County, Illinois but they are found in Mercer County in 1860: #2636 Daniel Wing, 27, laborer, born Md (not!); Elizabeth, 24, Il; Angeline, 6, Il; Caroline, 4, Il; Emma, 2, Il. Brother Joseph Wing was in the Poor House in 1860: Joseph Wing, 23, born Maine.


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