Mary Alice Ellison was born 28 MAR 1848 in Cato, Cayuga County to Nathaniel P. Townsend and Betsey Welch.
Her birth name was Elizabeth (Betsey) Townsend. She had one brother at the time of her birth, Darius Townsend. Darius served in the Civil War for the Wisconsin 5th Infantry. He was born circa 1841 in New York.
On 11 APR 1848, less than two weeks later, Elizabeth’s mother died.
The Cutler family and the Townsend family had many associations in Cayuga County and Onondaga County. They formed business relationships and they married each other.
Somehow, Samuel H Cutler and his wife Amanda Davis ended up with Elizabeth Townsend and they re-named her Mary Alice Cutler. Mary Alice is living with them in Elbridge, Onondaga County, New York in 1850. I have searched and searched the Surrogate Court records for this transaction and have not found it. Since, the father was alive at the time of the adoption, I don’t think they needed to go to court.
Nathaniel P. Townsend re-married very quickly to Mary Eliza Perkins (1849.) Mary Eliza was the widow of Cyrus James Gleason of Cicero, Onondaga County, New York. Cyrus and Mary had three children: Sarah Elizabeth (b.1839), Lodawiski Lovilla (1842-1922), and Edson H. (1844-1880). These children stayed with their mother and step-father and are listed on the censuses with them, sometimes as Townsend’s.
Nathaniel and Mary Eliza moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin by 1850. They had four children together. One of them was born in Cato, New York on 31 JUL 1849 and is listed as unnamed. I have a feeling this child died. The other three children were: Charles Nathaniel (b. 1851), Adonirum Elnathan (1854-1904) and Jennie Eliza (1860-1926.) The Townsend family lived in Wisconsin for many years.
You have to be very careful when looking on ancestry.com about this family as people are listing the children with the wrong parents.
Nathaniel died sometime after 1880 (approx. 1894) in Ashton, Osceola County, Iowa where his daughter Jennie was living (Jennie Glazier.) There is a lot yet for me to learn about this Nathaniel P. Townsend- including who his parents were.
When Mary Alice died, her son listed her parents as being:
N.P. Townsend and B. A. Court
Which is partially true.
Her mother was Betsey A. Welch, the daughter of Maria Polly Court and John Welch. When Polly Welch died in 1863, she left her grandchildren Darius and Elizabeth (Betsey) Townsend some money. Maria Polly Court was the daughter of John Court and Lydia Wright of Cato, Cayuga County, New York. This mistake of using the Court name, as the mother’s maiden name, is actually the only reason I was able to figure this mystery out. A very good mistake indeed.
Below are a selection of the papers from Polly Welch’s estate file in Cayuga County, New York: