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Maj. Brown house

with Elizabeth Lynds Lyons (1768-1823)

These are my fourth great-grandparents via the Myers family; twice over, as explained below.

Early life

Thomas Brown was born in Warren, in central Massachusetts, on 20 November, 1769. He married the widow Elizabeth Lynds Lyons in Warren on 8 February 1791, They then moved to the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, where several of their children were born. Click here to view their place in the family tree.

Ohio pioneers

Their sights were set even further west, however. In 1806, they were the second settler family to arrive at the newly platted township of Berkshire (named for the former home of the founders) in the newly opened frontier of central Ohio, later a part of Delaware County. The Browns had traveled seven hundred grueling miles; for the last twenty or more, literally following the ruts of the first wagon, on a newly blazed track through dense forest. Altogether, nine families settled at Berkshire the first year, with many more to follow, including the “town’s” founder and developer, entrepreneur Moses Byxbe. Byxbe and Brown made grand plans for the town of Berkshire Corners. with hopes it would become a county seat, or even the capitol of the future state of Ohio.

In 1811, Thomas Brown built the first brick house in the township, a structure that was still standing in the early 2000s.

Unfortunately, by this time, a bitter falling-out had ensued between Brown and Moses Byxbe. Unbeknownst to his settlers, Byxbe quietly sold off nearly all of his Berkshire land, and secretly entered into partnership with a certain Judge Henry Baldwin of Pittsburgh, PA. Baldwin had title to, but had never visited, some 16,000 acres at a prime riverfront locality about ten miles west of Berkshire. In 1807, Byxbe and his family moved out of Berkshire township to the new location, which was to become Delaware City (and the county seat, due in large part to Byxbe’s lobbying).

This was a most unwelcome development for the Berkshire settlers, and Thomas Brown emerged as their leader. Brown and his followers opposed Byxbe’s moves at every turn, some of which involved their own underhanded dealing and double-crosses. Ultimately, they failed; Delaware City blossomed, and Berkshire Corners never got to first base. Another thread in this drama involves the groundwater in Berkshire corners, which was said to be contaminated with naturally occurring sulphur.

A “major” kerfuffle concerned Thomas Brown’s campaign to be Major of the county’s militia. His opponent was none other than Moses Byxbe, Jr(!). It seems that this was an elected position, and that the junior Byxbe (albeit with baggage of his own) won the election, but that Brown challenged it at least twice. According to a scathing letter written by Byxbe Jr. (not necessarily reliable),  on one occasion Brown’s followers appeared with their muskets loaded and primed.

At one point, Brown was appointed Major by the governor, but lost the post within weeks. This seems to be the sole basis on which Thomas Brown could have claimed the title of Major. He served sporadically in the War of 1812, but never rose higher in rank than Sergeant.

Thomas Brown died on 25 July, 1816, at the age of 47. He is buried in Berkshire Cemetery, where his gravestone was barely readable in 2013. Most of the oldest monuments in the cemetery are in similar condition.

Just two miles to the east, still within Berkshire Township, the village of Sunbury fared a good deal better. There, at a strategic point along a well-traveled wagon road, my third great-grandfather Lawrence Myers came from Pennsylvania, along with his brother William, to found the town in 1816, the year of Maj. Thomas Brown’s death. The following year, Lawrence married Thomas Brown’s daughter, Eliza. Click here to read their profile.

Sunbury town hall and plaque honoring Lawrence Myers

Two of Maj. Thomas Brown’s sons deserve some remarks. The youngest, Col. Thomas Jefferson Brown (1802-1831), is also my third great-grandfather, due to a marriage of two cousins in the next generation. His “Col.” designation is even more curious than his father’s “Maj.” The younger Brown died at the age of 29, seemingly too young to attain the rank of colonel, especially under the peacetime conditions of the period. His wife died one month later, aged 27. Like his parents, “Col.” Brown is buried at Berkshire Cemetery.

The eldest son, Elam Brown (1797-1889), was another pioneer. He led a wagon train to California in 1846, two years before the gold rush began, acquired a large land holding east of San Francisco Bay, and founded the town of Lafayette. There is a great deal in print about Elam Brown; including the remarkable factoid that his wagon train, after encountering hardships, illness, and several deaths, made their treacherous passage over the Sierra Nevada, only days ahead of the ill-fated Donner Party. Elam Brown is buried with numerous family members, at an elaborate memorial in Martinez, California city cemetery.

with Eliza Brown (1795-1855)

Early Life

My third great-grandfather Lawrence Myers (no known middle name) was born in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, on 28 June 1794. He was the second of ten children of Philip Myers and Martha Bennett. Click to view his profile in the family tree. His given name was after his uncle, Philip Myers’ elder brother, who had also settled in the “Wyoming” valley of Luzerne County, and who had no children of his own. The name “Lawrence,” with no middle name, became an important one in the family, given to one and only one male in each generation, a custom that holds to this day.

When this Lawrence was born, northeastern Pennsylvania was on the western frontier, despite being barely 100 miles from New York City. By the time he reached adulthood, the frontier was further west, offering fresh opportunities for young adventurers. Ohio was a hotbed of new settlement, and Lawrence, along with his brother William, moved to Delaware County,

Sunbury

There, in 1816, the two brothers co-founded the town of Sunbury. For his residence, Lawrence built a one-room cabin, facing the central square of the newly planned and platted town. On 18 May 1817, Lawrence was married to Eliza Brown, daughter of an even earlier settler in the county, Major Thomas Brown.

Sunbury turned out to be a strategic location for a stagecoach inn, as it was on a main travel route, about one day by coach from the state capitol. His father had made his mark in Pennsylvania as an innkeeper, and Lawrence Myers resolved to follow suit. By 1820, he had established a travelers’ inn, attached to and eventually surrounding his initial log cabin. The inn became a profitable business, which continued to thrive long after its founder’s untimely death. After many renovations, and one partial destruction by fire, the building was renovated by the local historical society. It is now a community museum, named the Myers Inn, after its original proprietor (it is not known to have used that name, even during its time under Myers’ ownership). The basic structure of the building dates from around 1880, a full half-century after Lawrence’s death. It was renovated by the local historical society and opened as a museum in 1994.

inn

Deep in the center of the building, beneath floor level, renovators made a remarkable discovery: the foundation logs and hearthstones of the wood frame cabin that Lawrence Myers first built in 1816, 12 by 16 feet in size.. They rebuilt the hearth and created a replica of the cabin’s interior upon its original foundation.

1816 Room

Lawrence and Eliza had three children who survived infancy, the eldest was my second great-grandfather Henry Bennett Myers. Click here to read Henry’s story. Lawrence Myers died on 7 May, 1829, just shy of age 35. Eliza operated the inn for several years, before selling the property and moving with her son Henry to Oskaloosa, Iowa, where she lived until she passed away in 1855.

Family Bible

In 1824

In addition to the Myers Inn museum, Lawrence is honored on this Ohio historic site marker, located in the town square, within sight of the Inn.

history sign

Family Bible

In 1827, Lawrence purchased a bible, which has become a family heirloom, and is now in possession of his third great-grandson, the one named Lawrence Myers.

I have not seen the bible myself, but received photocopies of the family history pages, filled with births, marriages, and deaths from Lawrence’s birth in 1796, up to the 1920s, including all or most of his descendants to that time.

Lawrence is buried in Berkshire Cemetery, a few miles west of Sunbury, as are Eliza’s parents and many relatives.

Berkshire
Lawrence stone

Eliza herself is buried in Oskaloosa, beside her son Henry.

with Susan M. Eldridge (1820-1893)

My second great-grandfather Harry Eugene Colby was born on 15 December 1822, in Darien Township, Genesee County, New York. Click here to view him in the family tree. His ancestors had lived in the Northeast since his fourth great-grandfather (my 8th great), Anthony Colby, arrived in the nascent Massachusetts Colony, only ten years behind the Mayflower.

Harry’s father, Danial Colby, moved to western New York state in 1812. Upon his maturity, Harry moved further west. He worked as a store clerk in Kane County, Illinois, before marrying Susan M Eldridge there on Jan. 1, 1849. Susan was born in New York state on 19 May 1820 (according to her obituary). Nothing more is known about her early life or family.

In 1856 Harry and Susan moved to Monona County, Iowa, where Harry worked by spells at farming, and at businesses in the town of Onawa. They had three children: Helen A. Colby, who married Stephen Myers, and is pictured in their profile, Frank E. Colby, and Harry E. Colby, Jr. Below, Harry with his two adult sons, and their two sons, around 1900. Clockwise from left: Dean, Frank, Harry, Jr., and Paul.

True to period, the exclusive portrait is of only the direct male heirs; Harry and Susan had a total of sixteen grandchildren. Click to view three generations of descendants.

In 1888 (at 66 years of age), he joined with his son Frank in a coal and lumber dealership, which thrived for many years thereafter. Harry and Susan are interred in Onawa City Cemetery, with many family members buried nearby. Below, details of their monument, shown in top photo.

with Anne Madsdatter Maurhaugen (1829-1918)

My second great-grandfather Amund Amundsen was born at Volden (then called Dalseggvolden), in Sør-Fron parish, Norway, 11 Sept. 1829. Click here to view his profile in the family tree. In the top photo, the near foreground is part of the present-day Volden farm, extending to the river. Although the landscape has been changed by historic floods, it is the same location. The old structure pictured below was being reconstructed in 2011.

Volden building

Amund’s birth was perhaps the humblest of all my ancestors in his generation. He was the “illegitimate” son of a husmann’s daughter, as recorded at his baptism on 4 October 1829. Despite these humble beginnings, after Amund immigrated in 1857, he was an early settler in the ethnic community at Coon Prairie, which became a popular destination for Gudbrandsdalers. His picture appears in the commemorative history of the settlement and church, first published in 1927. Pardon the poor reproduction.

Amund Volden

Amund Married Anne Madsdatter Maurhaugen in Sør-Fron on 3 November 1854. Their first child was born in Norway, with nine more to follow after their immigration Click here to view the family group.

The couple are buried, along with one of their children, at Coon Prairie church.

Family Tree search capability

… has finally arrived on the home page and other content pages. This is a big upgrade, and long overdue. Now in each page’s sidebar, you can enter a first and/or last name (partial names will do), and be taken directly to the search results in the Larson-Myers family tree. Try it out!

Tips: The feature does not search for alternate spellings, i.e. searching for Larson will not find Larsen, etc. It does find any name that contains exactly what you type, anywhere in the name. so if you search for the last name Haugen, it will return everyone with last names of Haugen, Bakkehaugen, Monshaugen, etc. etc.

It is not case-sensitive: if you’re a lazy typist, you don’t have to worry about the caps key.

To fine-tune your search, there are many options available on the results page, by clicking “Search” in the upper left, then “Advanced Search” to access all the features.

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