Christopher Townsend’s will can be found on Familysearch.org dated 22 MAR 1809.
You will note that he took special care of his daughter Sarah. He left his son Samuel 60$, his son Darius 40$, and his son Christopher 1$.
There seems to be a lot of confusion about how to get or ask for hospital records under governance by the Michigan Department of Community Health.
First, you must ask for the court order to view the records from the judge in the county that the Asylum was located. Not the county your family was living in; although, sometimes they are the same county. You call the court and ask for the name of the judge who authorizes medical record releases and then write that Judge, addressing him/her properly, for a court order for the medical records of so and so at the __________ Asylum/State Hospital. Your letter should be respectful and polite and should include your relationship to the patient, when they died, and why you feel that the records would help you (ie. to complete your family medical history). You should have a pretty good idea of when the person was there. If you are denied a court order and are willing to fight over this, then you can call back and argue with them that you will go through the process if need be to gain access to these records.
Second, the person was committed in the county in which they resided at the time and this generated probate court records. So these records fall within the county the person lived in, and this may not be the same county the asylum was in. Some counties have allowed these records to be digitized and available and you should exhaustively search the internet (including familysearch.org) for these records before you call or bother a court. I advise finding these records first as they will tell you when the person was sent to the asylum and why.
Third, if you live in state you can call your state rep or senator to assist you, and you can complain that these records are kept under lock and key but other records with private and personal data are available to anyone- such as the 1940 census. You can emphasize the importance of having these records to complete your family medical history as mental illness has an hereditary component.
Fourth, if you live out of state, you can call the state rep or senator for the district in which the Asylum was located and explain your difficulty in getting your family’s medical records for this asylum. The records are all in the State of Michigan Archives in Lansing and are under threat of destruction.
Good luck. You will need to be persistent and the records may not even tell you much.
Below is the will dated 29 JUL 1831 for William Elrod of Elizabeth Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. It is located on familysearch.org.
William Elrod died 13 SEP 1831 in Elizabeth Township.
The following heirs are mentioned in the will: son Joseph, daughter Mary Mitchel, son Thomas, son William, son Muse, son Johnson, son Robert and daughter Martha Elrod. His wife Mary is also mentioned. To Joseph he left 200 acres that lay partly in Butler County and partly in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. He also left him his rifle gun and powder horn, his volume of Ferguson’s astronomy and all of the correspondence in his desk. To his wife he left his Bible with all of his family’s records inside and then this was to go to Joseph upon her death.
Why am I now researching the Elrod family? I have a pretty good feeling that Joseph was the father of my 3rd great grandmother Nancy Ralston. Somewhere in a family record Joseph is listed as having two children: Nancy born 1814 and John F. born 1818. My Nancy was born in 1814. Also, Joseph lived in Slipperyrock, Butler County, PA as of the 1840 Census. He lived there alone. He then moved in with Nancy Ralston and her family as of the 1850 Census.
Why would Nancy’s family think her name was Nancy Agnes McLane? That is what I have to work out. I also need more evidence that Joseph Elrod was Nancy’s father. Supposedly Joseph didn’t leave an estate when he passed, but he owned a lot of land. There are records somewhere and I don’t think it is coincidental that after he passed, Nancy and her family had the money to move to Iowa. What do you think?
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.
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:
Below are select pages from Benjamin Walker Ellison’s probate files from Charlevoix County.
Included are some pages of the declaration of his insanity. He was declared insane on November 27, 1912 and delivered to the Traverse City State Hospital (formerly Northern Michigan Asylum) two days later.
On 23 FEB 1913, Benjamin Walker died at the Hospital.
John Ralston Sr. of Slippery Rock Township, Butler County, PA died in Feb. 1850. His original will and probate file can be seen digitized at familysearch.org:
John Ralston Sr. had eleven children: William, James, Jane, John Jr., Elizabeth (Betsy), Mary Polly, Samuel, David, Susan, George and Elem.
John was born 17 MAY 1776 in Greensburg, Westmoreland County, PA and is buried on the Old Smith Farm in Slippery Rock. He was married to Betsey Sharp. He was an enlisted private in the War of 1812.
John Ralston Jr. married Nancy Agnes McLane and they settled in Jackson County, Iowa in 1853. Their son Millen Ralston is my great-great grandfather.
I searched the Index to Deeds, 1881 – 1901 for the following families: Ellison, Van Buren, and Robinson. Remember that Enoch Robinson was Benjamin Walker Ellison’s brother-in-law, married to BWE’s half- sister Annie Hudson. BWE’s middle son William Arthur married Anna Van Buren, her father was George Van Buren.
There was a serious fire at the county courthouse when in Boyne City on 8 OCT 1887 and many deed/mortgage books were destroyed. There are no records to replace what is burned, but we may want to check FHL’s microfilm # 965402 Abstract of deeds by township, Charlevoix County, 1861 – 1974. I know that sometimes after courthouses burned, individuals would record the land they owned in case of future disputes. This may be in the abstracts. The original deeds are gone though.
The following Deed Books were destroyed: Volumes 1 through 7, Volumes 9, 11, 12, 15 and 17.
Mortgage Books destroyed: Volumes 1 through 7, Volumes 9 – 15 and Volume 18.
Remember that Tax Assessment Rolls can replace some of this information, as in a Land Description and amount of acreage. The Tax Rolls will also tell you when someone with property, including personal property, began being taxed in a particular location. Know the tax rules to assess when you have found someone dropped off the tax rolls; it was not always due to death.
There is only one mention of Ellison in the Index to Deeds. We can, though, substitute BWE’s Land Patent from the Federal government for this missing deed. I do suspect the Ellison’s also owned property in Boyne City – the BW Ellison & Company Brewery.
A Grantor is the person who sold the property. A Grantee is the person who bought the property. A Mortgagor is the person who loaned the money and the mortgagee borrowed the money.
With this information, we can now order the correct film of the original book of deeds through the Family History Center. If any of you do this, please would you share a copy with me and I will post it for everyone? I will not be looking these deeds up anytime soon.
Index to Deeds 1881 – 1901 Charlevoix County, Michigan FHL US/CAN Film 965396
Date Grantor Grantee Sec/Twp/Range Vol/Pg #
FEB 1882 Robinson, Enoch K & wife Joseph R. Buster 6 32 5 8 256
FEB 1885 Van Buren, George H. Nalford 16 32 5 13 22
MAR 1886 Van Buren, George & wife S.S. Robert 16 32 5 14 416
NOV 1899 Robinson, Enoch K & wife Herman Suler 6 32 5 40 35
MAY 1900 Robinson, Enoch K & wife Paul J. Sischnewski 6 32 5 40 295
MAY 1900 Robinson, Eliza A. Paul J. Sischnewski 6 32 5 40 295
Date Grantee Grantor Sec/Twp/Range Vol/Pg #
NOV 1888 Robinson, Enoch K. United States 6 32 5 23 79
NOV 1888 Robinson, Enoch K. State of Michigan 6 32 5 21 428
APR 1891 Robinson, Annie H. Samuel Horton 6 33 6 31 178
JUL 1899 Van Buren, Oren Lucretia H. Powers Lots 7 & 8 38 416
Of the Village of Boyne Falls
OCT 1900 Ellison, Mony A. (Mary) ______ Night 12 32 5 40 519
Date Mortgagor Mortgagee Sec/Twp/Range Vol/Pg #
JUN 1883 Robinson, Enoch K & wife Eliza A. Robinson 6 32 5 8 152
Date Mortgagee Description Vol/Pg #
AUG 1886 Van Buren, George & Wife Discharge of Mortgage 17 24
Notes: The second section of the Index with Surnames beginning with V was missing entirely.
The Charlevoix County Index to Deeds, 1881- 1901 is available on microfilm from the Family History Centers. It is microfilm number 965396.
James J. Dawson was the husband of Mary Maria Ellison, daughter of Walker and Margaret Ellison.
The Probate is dated May 5, 1884. Thanks to Donna Cromwell for finding this and sharing it so generously.