THE WAXHAM ANCESTORS
By Robert D. Waxham
The Search Begins
The search for early Waxham ancestors has not been without difficulties. In addition to the usual genealogical problems of missing records, inaccurate data, and conflicting sources, the Waxhams who lived in England in the 18th and early 19th centuries had the annoying habit of giving the same Christian namesJohn, William, and Jamesto nearly all their male offspring. If one died in infancy, the same name would often be given again to the nextborn male. They also left confusing church records (church records being the only official source for births, deaths, and marriages in England until civil registration began in 1837) by having children christened in batches so that the dates of christening bear no relationship to the actual date of birth. Also, some children were baptized twice, once in the Methodist church and again, to comply with official requirements, in the local Anglican parish (St. Leonard's, Downham, Cambridgeshire).
However, we have also enjoyed some significant advantages in our search. A major one is that the Waxham name is rare. To the best of our present knowledge, every Waxham who has ever lived in the United States can trace his or her ancestry to one of the four Waxham brothers who came to this country in the 1830's. Although there are still a few Waxhams we have been unable to link to the tree, so far every one who has been extensively researched has eventually proved to be a descendant of one of the four. Therefore, each time a new Waxham comes to light, we can assume quite confidently that enough digging will result in a successful linkage.
Another very important advantage is that one of the Waxham relatives in EnglandWilliam John Leon Waxhamdid a prodigious amount of research on the family tree in England several years before I started. He sent charts summarizing his work to several Waxhams in the United States, two of whom have supplied copies to me. At first, it was impossible to reconcile his chart with our American records. The reason turned out to be simple. Since most of the pre-1837 data came from church records and the church had no reason to record emigration, the English chart assigned certain children born to a William Waxham who stayed in England to a different William who came to the United States. I was able to make a trip to England in January 1998 and rechecked the English records against a June 10, 1834 Ship Passenger List, with the result that the English and the American Waxhams are now documented as being descended from the correct William Waxham. Except for the emigration problem, it is believed that all other aspects of the English chart are correct.
Early English Waxhams
The father of the four Waxham brothers who came to the United States in the 1830's and thus the common ancestor of all Waxhams now living in the United States (to the best of our knowledge) was John Waxham. John was born in 1743, married Elizabeth Parker in 1782, and died in 1816. He was a farmer and lived all his life in Downham (sometimes called "Little Downham" or "Downham-in-the-Isle" to distinguish it from other Downhams) a few miles from the cathedral city of Ely, Cambridgeshire, England. He is buried in the graveyard at St. Leonard's parish, Downham, and the gravestone is still legible. St. Leonard's parish was founded in 1274 but the church edifice is even older. The base of the tower is of Norman origin although it now has two later increments. The recorded history of the town goes back to about 970 A.D.
John's family had lived in Downham for several generations. His father was William Waxham, born 1712, and his mother was named Catharine (spelled with an "a"). Thanks to the work of William John Leon Waxham, we know that common-ancestor John's grandfather and great-grandfather were both named Bartholomew. The elder Bartholomew was born about 1646 and married Judith Wells. The younger Bartholomew was born about 1673 and married a lady named Sarah.
Earlier Waxhams are largely lost in the mists of history. Some of them apparently spelled the name "Waxam". Waxam and Waxham may be contractions of "De Wachesham". There are records of an Osbert and Isobel De Wachesham (circa 1190 - 1236) and others named Giles, Sir John, Girard, Sir Giles, and Sir Robert (circa 1327 - 1374), but we have no proof at present that these were the ancestors of the Waxhams in Downham.
There is also an ancient village called Waxham in Norfolk on the coast of the North Sea. It was recorded in the Domesday Book, that comprehensive property survey compiled shortly after the Norman Conquest in 1066, and is known to have existed for more than a thousand years. At one time it was large enough to be divided into Waxham Parva and Waxham Magna and featured a great baronial mansion known as Waxham Hall. Now coastal erosion has taken its toll; all of Waxham Parva and most of Waxham Magna save one large farmhouse (probably a remnant of Waxham Hall) and part of the church of St. John has now disappeared into the sea. Waxhams apparently lived in the village for a long time, but records are very fragmentary. A researcher named Douglas Lionel Waxham, some of whose ancestors used the spelling "Wexham," located numerous mentions of Waxhams, Wexhams, and other variant spellings in ancient records from a large number of English towns but was never able to establish a firm connection between the Waxhams of Downham and any of the other families having the same or similar surnames.
The Four Emigrant Brothers
John and Elizabeth Waxham of Downham had four sons: John-born in 1782, William-born in 1784, Thomas-born in 1794, and James-born in 1796. There were also three daughters Elizabeth, Ann, and Sarah born in the decade between the birth of William and the birth of Thomas. Elizabeth married John Green and has a descendant now living in Cumbria, but for the purpose of this sketch we will confine ourselves to the four brothers who emigrated. We know that all four sons established households in Downham because they appear in the voting records of the time.
We do not know what impelled the four to leave England and journey to America but we can speculate that their motives were mainly economic. It must have been difficult to support four growing families on the farm plots owned by the Waxhams in the fens surrounding Downham. Holding companies, such as the Holland Land Company in western New York State, were advertising cheap land, and the temptation probably proved irresistible.
The youngest brother, James, was the first to go. James married Ann Gill on December 31, 1816 and the couple had three children who were born in England. Ann Gill died some time between 1822 and 1831. James married a second Ann, Ann Nicholas, in 1831, probably shortly before leaving for the United States. James and his second wife had six more children after coming to America. According to his naturalization papers, he sailed from Liverpool on May 18, 1831 and arrived in New York on June 24. He and his family almost certainly were aboard the ship Renown whose itinerary corresponds exactly with the dates and places cited by James in his application for naturalization. However, a careful check of the official Ship Passenger List for the Renown on that trip does not reveal any travelers named Waxham, lending credence to a story passed down through the generations and which I heard from his g-g-g-g-grandson that they were stowaways. If this bit of family lore is true, one wonders how he could have successfully kept a family of five, including a 10-year-old boy, hidden and cared for during the 5 week voyage.
James presumably wrote back to his older brothers in England describing the opportunities available in the States in glowing terms. Thomas became the second Waxham brother to leave England, arriving in New York aboard the ship Canada on August 26, 1833. Like his brother James, Thomas had also lost his first wife, Elizabeth Webb, whom he had married in 1814. This Elizabeth bore him eight children and died in 1831 at the age of 32. To take care of his brood of seven surviving children, Thomas apparently brought along his niece, also named Elizabeth and the daughter of his brother John, on the voyage to America. (She is recorded on the Ship Passenger List as "Elizabeth Waxham, age 22, Spinster.") Sometime after arriving in the U.S., Thomas married a second wife, once again named Elizabeth, with whom he raised five additional children. The following year, in 1834, John and William, together with their wives, both named Elizabeth, and children embarked on the Eliza arriving in New York on June 10, 1834. John saw very little of his new homeland. He died June 20, 1834, only ten days after arrival in the U.S. Although the cause of death is unknown, we do know that shipboard conditions for immigrants were appalling in the 1830's, and it seems likely that John contracted some illness during his passage from which he was unable to recover. Fortunately, three of his sons were nearly grown and Uncles Thomas and James were already established in the New World, so John's family was not entirely lacking in survival resources.
Each of the four brothers had large families, and numerous descendants are living in the United States at the present time. For genealogical clarity, it is convenient to think of the descendants of each brother as a clan, so we will now proceed with the story using the headings "Clan John," "Clan William," "Clan Thomas" and "Clan James" in an effort to make the lineage clear.
As noted above, eldest brother John died ten days after disembarking in New York. He is buried in the Angell Settlement Cemetery (also known as Evergreen Cemetery) in Hanover Center, Chautauqua County, New York, a short distance from the former farm of brother Thomas who probably handled the arrangements. The tombstone is inscribed "Rev. John Waxham" which whets one's curiosity since there are no other records documenting ordination or indicating John to have been anything other than a farmer. In fact, he lists himself as a farmer on the Ship Passenger List dated only 10 days before his death.
John's wife, Elizabeth Simpson, whom he had married September 27, 1808 back in Downham, apparently set up a farm household with son John, Jr. since the 1840 Census (which lists only the head of the household by name) shows a family of five with John as head of household and a woman aged between 50 and 60 living in Hanover, Chautauqua County, New York. John, Jr., born July 16, 1815 in Downham, married Ann Booth April 3, 1846 and moved to Franklin Township, Erie County, Pennsylvania some time between 1850 and 1855. He died in Pennsylvania about 1888. John, Jr. and Ann had three sons Sylvester, Charles Heber, and Frank N. Waxham. Charles Heber Waxham was born about 1850, married his neighbor, Martha Sarah Batchelor, worked as a mechanic in Erie, Pennsylvania, fathered at least five children, and died April 27, 1909 in Westfield, New York. His oldest son, Harmond Alfred Waxham, was born in Erie but spent much of his life in Southern California. He has a number of descendants now living in New Jersey, California and Arizona. The second son, Charles William Waxham (a name that appears again in Clan William), was born July 5, 1889 in Erie, married Dorothy Anna Paulson in Michigan, and also later moved to Southern California. He has living descendants in California and Massachusetts. What happened to Sylvester is unknown. Frank N. died at age 19.
John, Jr's younger brother, Thomas, lived with him in New York State, married Betsy Booth (sister to the Ann Booth who married John, Jr.) and apparently moved with him to Pennsylvania where they had adjoining farms. Thomas, born about 1817, fathered three sonsJames, Jabez Bunting, and Georgeand a daughter, Alice. Jabez Bunting Waxham, through his son Oliver Jabez Waxham, has numerous living descendants, some residing in Pennsylvania.
Less is known about the other children of John Waxham, Sr. There was a son named William who moved to Illinois, married Eliza Merrick, and had two children, William and Marry, who have not been traced. Another son, James, died in England in 1831. Yet another son, Jabez, has not been identified positively in census records (some of which list a "J. Waxham" and others a "J. B. Waxam") but he is almost certainly the J. B. Waxham who married Ellen Monroe December 26, 1850 and operated a daguerreotype shop in Dixon, Illinois in 1854. What happened to this marriage is unclear, because another record shows Jabez Waxham marrying Olivia G. Ocallaghan on September 4, 1855. There seems to be several possible explanations for these two marriages in five years. There may have been a quick divorce, or Ellen Monroe may have died very young, or perhaps the "J. B." Waxham who married Ellen Monroe is not the "Jabez" Waxham who married Olivia Ocallaghan. Complicating the story enormously is another report of a marriage of Ellen Jane Waxham to Andrew Jackson Whitehead on May 17, 1877 in Whiteside County, Illinois a marriage that produced six children. If this Ellen was the divorced spouse of Jabez, she would have been about 46 in 1877, a highly improbable age to begin a series of six babies. Unverified information from the Internet states that Ellen Jane Waxham was born August 10, 1852 in England. This Ellen is of a more appropriate age to be the wife of Andrew Whitehead and the mother of his six children. However, if she was born in England in 1853, she came to the U. S. long after the four brothers we have been tracking and represents an exception to our hypothesis that all U. S. Waxhams descend from the four brothers. Since there are other Waxhams listed in the 1860 census for Illinois whom we have been unable to traceWilla Waxham and "M" Waxhamthe possibility that a second branch of the Waxham family existed at least briefly in this country cannot be totally dismissed. Jabez enlisted as a hospital steward in the 110th Illinois Infantry on August 15, 1862 and saw service in the Civil War.
We have only fragmentary records of the three daughters of John Waxham, Sr. Elizabeth, born in 1812, came to America with her Uncle Thomas to take care of his numerous children, as noted above, but nothing is known of what became of her subsequently. Susannah, born December 12, 1819, married a man named Rope who may not have lived very long because she was living with Uncle Thomas by 1855 and later moved to Erie County, Pennsylvania, probably to be with her brothers, and died there March 1, 1886. As for the youngest daughter Mary, who was born in 1827, we believe she moved to Illinois but have no proof.
William Waxham, the second oldest immigrant son, was the great-great-grandfather of the present author and therefore, of course, of particular interest to me, my siblings, and offspring. Despite our concentrated attention, however, there is much about him we do not know. After his June 10, 1834 arrival in New York City, he presumably made his way to Hanover, Chautauqua County, New York where brothers Thomas and James were well settled and where his dying brother John was about to be buried. However, he apparently never bought property in Hanover and, by the time of the 1840 Census, was living in Stratford, Fulton County, New York with wife Elizabeth Hopkin (whom he had married in England in 1813) and their seven surviving children (the oldest child, Eliza, born in 1813, had died in England in 1817). These children were:
William apparently did not prosper in Fulton Country, some 200 miles to the East of his two brothers, and seems to have drifted about for the rest of his life. His wife, Elizabeth, appears to have died young, probably in the 1840s. By the census of 1850, William was living with daughter Mary Ann in the town of Evans, Erie Co., NY. At the time of the 1860 census, he was in Pleasant Township, LaPorte Co., IN working as a farm laborer for his brother Thomas. Three years later, he was back in New York State. In the abstracts from a Fredonia, NY newspaper dated March 27, 1863, we read the following under the date of March 16, 1863:
"...Found under the RR bridge in Silver Creek...Appears he fell through
Silver Creek is a town on the shore of Lake Erie in Hanover Township, a few miles from the farms formerly operated by brothers Thomas and James. As a boy, I remember seeing the railroad bridge over the deep gorge in Silver Creek on a number of occasions, but I had no knowledge at that time that this was the place where my great-great-grandfather had met his end.
Although William and Elizabeth Waxham brought seven children with them on their journey to America, six of them have proved difficult to trace. We have found almost no records for Elizabeth and Eliza. The other three daughters formed a triple alliance with the prominent Bullock family of Erie County, NY. Maria married John Russell Bullock about 1846; Mary Ann married Thomas Bullock about 1848; and Rebecca married Henry Bullock June 6, 1848. All had children, but our information on them is sketchy.
Unlike his siblings, we have a substantial amount of information on William Hopkin Waxham, my great-grandfather. William married Hannah Tyra sometime before 1850. She was the daughter of James Tyra and "Grandma Hannah Nash". This sturdy woman married and buried three husbands and still had time enough left over to live with William and daughter Hannah for at least 20 years. Her maiden name was Peacock and she was born about 1791. She married James Tyra some time before 1820 and lived in Canada where daughter Hannah was born July 27, 1820. By the early 1840's, Tyra had apparently died and "Grandma" was living in Chautauqua County, New York where she married Silas Nash on July 14, 1844.
Silas Nash was 82 at the time of his marriage to Hannah Peacock Tyra, then 53, and one of the area's most respected citizens. Born June 14, 1762 in Norwalk, Connecticut, Nash served five tours of duty in the Connecticut Militia during the Revolution. He married Adri Adams, who was to bear him 10 children, on October 29, 1792. He purchased land (178 acres according to one record), taking advantage (as did some of the Waxham brothers 20 years later) of the liberal credit terms and bargain price$2.50 to $3.50 per acreoffered by the Holland Land Company and became a substantial citizen. He was selected Justice of the Peace in 1816 and served as the first Supervisor of Perrysburg from 1818 to 1821. He was a deacon in the First Baptist Church at a crossroads called Webster's Settlement at the time the church was founded in 1811 but renamed Nashville in 1824 as an honor to Silas.
After the death of Silas Nash January 6, 1852 at the age of 90, his widow moved in with daughter Hannah and William Hopkin Waxham and was recorded as a member of that household in the 1855 New York State Census. Marriage then beckoned again, and she became the wife of James Fryer September 21, 1862. Fryer apparently survived less than three years because, by the time of the 1865 New York State Census, Grandma was back living with William and Hannah where she remained until her death January 28, 1884 at the age of 93, three years after the death of her daughter on May 11, 1881. Grandma appears in a list of pensioners published in a newspaper about 1880 as receiving a widow's pension of $8.00 per month.
Returning now to the main thread of our tale, William Hopkin and Hannah had five childrenfirst three girls: Ella (sometimes listed as Ellen), born in 1852; Mary, born in 1854; and Martha, born in 1856; followed by two boys: Charles William (who is difficult to track in the official records because he is listed as "Chapman" in New York census records and as "Charles E." on his death certificate), born in 1858; and George Clinton (my grandfather), born in 1862. Ella married F. T. Watrous, and nothing more is known of her until her death in 1888. Mary married Franklin Beardsley December 24, 1873, after which she also disappears from view. Martha apparently married twice, once to a man named Parkman and again to one named Ede, but we have no additional information and even this much may be in error.
As Charles grew to manhood, a serious family dispute arose, of which we know only that it concerned a horse. Charles left New York State never to return, and went West to Leadville, Colorado. Years later, one or more of Charles' sisters journeyed to Colorado in an effort to heal the rift. The attempt must have succeeded because a photograph of Charles and his wife, Bridget Delia, made in Leadville, Colorado, appears in the New York family's collection of old family portraits.
Charles and Bridget lived in Leadville until about the turn of the century and then moved to Seattle. He died February 6, 1927 and she 12 years later on February 7, 1939. They had six children:
All the children except Arthur married, and there are now numerous descendants living in Washington, California, Oregon and Nevada.
After the falling out over a horse caused Charles to leave home and head West, George Clinton stayed on the family farm on Hanover Road near Parcell's Corners, inheriting the farm on the death of William Hopkin Waxham in 1901. George married twice. His first wife was Mary Smith. One daughter, Lola Waxham, was born of this union. Mary died November 1, 1891. George then married Eva Jane Young who bore him a son, Raymond Lee Waxham (my father) on November 28, 1895. George Clinton died in 1924, after which Eva Jane married Lamont Babcock and also outlived him, dying January 1, 1949.
Upon graduating from high school, my father, Raymond Lee Waxham, went back to the school to take a teacher's training course and then taught school for a year at Parcell's Corners. He saved his salary and used it to defray expenses at Cornell University, where he studied agriculture for two years. Although he inherited the family farm in 1924 after the death of my grandfather, it was no longer a viable family farm after a large part of the land was amputated to form a reservoir for the town of Silver Creek. So he purchased 86 acres in Nashville on the corner of Route 39 and Alleghany Road where stood the remnants of an old hotel, once host to drovers who came through from the West with flocks of livestock enroute to the cities to the East but abandoned after the construction of a railroad a mile to the North brought an end to the cattle drives. He operated the family farm until his death June 6, 1962. My mother sold it a few years later.
Dad married Lillian May Post, daughter of Frederick and Florence May Tuttle Post, October 1, 1921 at my mother's family home in Brocton, New York. The marriage resulted in six children, which must have far exceeded my parents' expectations because, even after the first child was born, they built a two-bedroom farmhouse on the new property in Nashville.
Thomas was the second of the four Waxham brothers who emigrated from England to America. His date of arrival was August 26, 1833. Thomas bought land, probably uncleared virgin forest as was most of the land available in Chautauqua County at that time, from the Holland Land Company in 1833. He seems to have prospered. In 1835, the Town of Hanover (population 2,065) conducted a local census to gather both demographic and economic information. The household of Thomas Waxham consisted of the following:
6 males 6 male aliens not naturalized 9 females 1 unmarried female 16 - 45 7 unmarried females under 16 50 improved acres 6 cattle 2 horses 22 sheep
By the time of the local assessment for taxation in 1842, Thomas owned 97 acres. The valuation is given as $1,900. Assuming that he paid about $2.50 per acre for this land originally, he had succeeded over the period of about 9 years in bringing the value up to nearly $20 an acre.
Thomas was at least as fertile as he was prosperous. His first wife, Elizabeth Webb bore him eight children, all born in England. As noted above, Elizabeth Webb Waxham died in 1831 and Thomas, needing someone to care for his brood of young children, apparently persuaded brother John's oldest daughter Elizabeth to sail with him to the United States in 1833. Between 1840 and 1850, another five children were born to Thomas and a woman also named Elizabeth. We are not quite certain who this Elizabeth was. Although we can find no mention of a wedding in early Chautauqua County, NY newspapers or church records, most probably Thomas married a second spouse after settling in this new county who became the mother of his last five children. This Elizabeth may also have died young. The U.S. census of 1850, the first one to record the names of family members in addition to the head of household, lists an Elizabeth Waxham, age only 28, as residing with Thomas. In the New York State census of 1855, only 5 years later, the Elizabeth living with Thomas was age 43. In the U.S. census of 1860 for Indiana, the Elizabeth recorded with Thomas was 48 - consistent with the 1855 listing but 10 years too old to be the same Elizabeth as the one with Thomas in 1850. However, these 1855 and 1860 census ages are just right for the Elizabeth who was the daughter of John. The theory that emerges from this tangle is that Thomas' second wife Elizabeth (maiden name unknown) died between 1850 and 1855, following which unmarried niece Elizabeth, who had cared for his children years before on shipboard, resumed her role as caretaker of his household.
Of the eight children born in England with first wife Elizabeth Webb, five were girls and three were boys. We will summarize the girls briefly because their descendants carry surnames other than Waxham. Except for Deborah, who died December 18, 1847 at the tender age of 17, Thomas' daughters grew up in Hanover Township and married prominent early residents. Eldest daughter Mary Ann married neighboring farmer Albert Horton in 1842. Margaret, the second-born daughter, married Comfort Birdsley, a captain in the local militia, sometime commissioner of highways, and substantial landowner, on November 24, 1842. Miriam, the third daughter, married William Ward Livermore April 10, 1851 in Forestville. The fourth daughter, Elizabeth, married Hall Gidley Van Vlack on February 3, 1850, and her descendants are well documented in the Van Vlack genealogy compiled by Barbara Van Vlack.
Of the three sons born to Thomas and first wife Elizabeth, we have reasonably complete data on two. Middle son John was not included on the roster of the children of Thomas who emigrated to the United States in 1833 and therefore is probably the John Waxham listed in the Cambridgeshire burial index as having died at the age of 2 months in 1823.
Eldest son James was born July 24, 1818 in Downham. He married Mary Scovill on March 28, 1852 in Silver Creek, NY and apparently moved to Lincoln Township, LaPorte County, Indiana before 1855. In addition to farming, he must have been active as a preacher since he is described as Rev. James Waxham in his obituary. James and Mary had three daughters: Harriet, Mary Ann, and Emma. He died July 4, 1899 and is buried in the Salem Chapel Cemetery where there is a large family monument.
William Webb Waxham (who appears as simply as Webb in most records) stayed in Chautauqua County. He was a carpenter/joiner and lived in Irving (near Silver Creek) in the 1870's and moved to Dunkirk, New York before 1880. He married Sarah Ann Haight before 1855. Webb and Sarah had two children: Jessie, born in 1862 and John A. in 1873. Webb died December 11, 1888. Sarah lived to a ripe old age, dying June 10, 1920.
Neither Jessie nor John A. ever married. John A. worked in the Engineering Department of Alco Products for 56 years, retiring in 1946. During this period, he invented an incubator, a device that circulates warmed air over chicken eggs so that they will hatch without the ministrations of a mother hen, and sought to patent it. John's patent was challenged in an infringement suit. The case was argued all the way to the Supreme Court, which issued a decree on January 7, 1935 invalidating John's claim of uniqueness. John A. lived on in retirement to the age of 90, dying August 29, 1964 in Dunkirk.
The five children born to Thomas Waxham and his mystery-shrouded second wife, Elizabeth, were: Alfred, born about 1840; Adelaide Victoria, born July 16, 1842; Herbert O., born June 26, 1844; Wilbur, born about 1847; and Melissa, born October 21, 1850. All were born in Chautauqua County, NY and all but Wilbur, who died in childhood, moved with Thomas to LaPorte County, Indiana in 1858. We assume thta Thomas died in Indiana some time after 1860 but have never been able to locate any documentation.
There were two Alfred Waxhams, both of whom served in the Union Army during the Civil War and one of whom died in service. We believe the one who died in the war was Alfred, the son of Thomas, but we have never been able to locate any additional information on the surviving Alfred, who was presumably the son of William and entered the service in Illinois.
Adelaide Victoria Waxham married Ozro B. Foster on August 19, 1866 in LaPorte County, Indiana. Foster was at various times a school teacher, a farmer, and the proprietor of a hardware store. In October 1861, he had enlisted in Company C of the 48th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Since this was the same Civil War unit in which one of the Alfred Waxhams served, we can speculate that Adelaide's older brother, Alfred, had something to do with introducing Ozro Foster to his sister before dying December 24, 1861. Ozro and Adelaide had seven children, several of whose obituaries are on file with this author, and it is probable that there are numerous descendants of this family living today. Adelaide died August 4, 1909 while Ozro lived to the age of 91, passing away April 13, 1933.
Herbert Waxham was also a Civil War veteran. He enlisted July 15, 1863 in Company D of the 128th Indiana Infantry shortly after his 19th birthday and took part in the siege of Atlanta until falling ill in August 1864. He lived for a time in Iowa and then became one of the early settlers of Boulder, Colorado. He married Edith Belle Cady in 1880 and lived a long life, dying October 12, 1935 at the age of 91. They had three sons - Harrison O., Earl Cassius and Herbert H.
Harrison, after periods of service as a policeman, deputy sheriff, and special investigator, became a liquor salesman. On the morning of July 5, 1935, following an argument with his wife Ethel, Harrison left home threatening to kill himself. A week later, his body was found in the mountains.
Earl Cassius and Herbert H. are particularly important to our story because they left what are believed to be the only living descendants of Thomas Waxham to bear the Waxham surname. Earl and wife Hazel Huston had two sons: Carey Burdett Waxham (July 1, 1916 - August 1983) and Wayne Sherman Waxham (May 21, 1918 - June 30, 1969). Wayne Sherman and wife Margaret Thompson are believed to have a surviving daughter. Earl's younger brother Herbert H. married Lillian Snyder and had a son, Stewart Edwin Waxham (September 14, 1921 - July 1986). Stewart Edwin is known to have living descendants in the State of Washington.
The two youngest children of Thomas Waxham and his second wife have left no descendants. Wilbur, as mentioned above, died May 27, 1853 in New York State as a six-year-old boy. Melissa apparently never married and, after residing most of her life in Omaha, died July 21, 1929. Older brother Herbert made arrangements to have her body shipped to Boulder, Colorado for burial.
Although James was the youngest of the four brothers who brought the name of Waxham to America, he was the first to arrive June 24, 1831. As mentioned much earlier, he and his family may have been stowaways.
While many branches of Thomas' enormous family seem to have died out, youngest brother James has left a gene pool that is now spread across many states and seems destined to persist until the end of time. Like Thomas, James also had sequential wives having the same given name, in this case Ann. His first wife, Ann Gill, whom he married December 31, 1816 in Downham, England, had three childrenKeziah, born about March 19, 1817; Ann, born about July 27, 1819; and Zachariah, born December 10, 1821. After the death of Ann Gill, he married Ann Nicholas in 1831, probably very shortly before boarding the ship for the trip to the U.S. This second marriage produced six more childrenCelestia, born about 1833; James, born about 1838; Victoria, born unknown and died as a child June 3, 1846; Salina, born about 1845; Lovina, born about 1847; and Henry P., born about 1849. (The "abouts" qualifying the above dates of birth signify that they are based either on baptismal or census records and thus may be inexact.)
James appears to have been even more successful as a pioneer farmer than brother Thomas. He made his first land purchase in 1832, a year after arriving. Ten years later, when the Hanover tax assessment survey was conducted, he owned four parcels of land, totaling 312 acres and valued at $4,450. He sold pieces of his holdings at various times from 1848 to 1863 and moved from Hanover to Wesleyville, Pennsylvania (near Erie) between 1850 and 1855. He died in Wesleyville on July 13, 1873.
Although a few gaps and mysteries remain, a large number of James' descendants are well documented. Eldest daughter Keziah married Allen Travis March 19, 1840 and then moved to LaPorte, Indiana where the family came to include six children. Second daughter Ann also married a Travis (William W.) April 2, 1839. Keziah and Allan have a large number of descendants, and the family has compiled detailed genealogical records. So far as is known, Ann and her husband were childless.
Eldest son Zachariah and most of his multitudinous descendants are likewise well documented. His line includes a number of remarkable people who deserve to be covered in some detail. Zachariah was still a boy when he came to America in 1831. He grew up on his father's farm near the center of Hanover Township and married Caroline Nevins from nearby Smith's Mills on March 20, 1843. She was the daughter of early settler Samuel Nevins and a member of the Nevins family who owned and operated a number of businesses and farms in and near Smith's Mills at that time. They moved to LaPorte, Indiana about 1845 where Zachariah farmed until moving to Rockford, Illinois and entering retirement. During his retirement and after the death of Caroline, he married an Alice Ophelia Fay from Vermont. He died February 13, 1901 in Rockford.
Zachariah and Caroline had seven children. The oldest was Walter Augustus, born February 2, 1844, the only one of Zachariah's children to be born in New York State. Walter died at about age 18 in Nashville, Tennessee while serving in the 73rd Indiana Infantry. The oldest daughter was Isadore, born January 8, 1846 in LaPorte. She married John Rupel February 20, 1865 and died May 6, 1925. Their son, John Francis Rupel, born in 1866, married Emma Barnhart, and had three daughters.
Second son Ernest was born February 5, 1848, also in LaPorte. He was a commercial traveler for the Henry W. Price Company and seems to have traveled abroad as well as widely in this country. He married Alice J. Roberts who appears in the DAR lineage book as the granddaughter of a Revolutionary War soldier. Ernest died June 9, 1928 and Alice December 25, 1925, both in Los Angeles County, California. Ernest and Alice had one daughter, named Evelyn, who was educated at Wellesley, Stanford, and Oxford and is reported to have compiled a dictionary.
The next son, George W., was born August 30, 1850. He married Ella Hunt, with whom he had one son, William James Waxham, born in 1876. William James Waxham and his second wife, Mary Elizabeth McClenlan, married April 18, 1900 in Middleburg, Florida, and had 12 children, several of whom died as infants. Although the daughters produced numerous descendants under various surnames, the only surviving sons were Roy W., whose only son, Bruce, died in 1985, and Hiram George, who had two sons and two daughters. Hiram George Waxham died in Shreveport, Louisiana on May 23, 1996. The descendants of William James Waxham, most of whom live in Florida or Louisiana, maintain close ties and hold a well-attended family reunion each year in Florida.
Frank E., the fourth of Zachariah's five sons, was born January 1, 1852. After earning an M.D. degree, he practiced in Chicago. There he made several noteworthy research contributions including development of an intubation device and a procedure for its insertion into the throat in patients with obstructed breathing, an alternative to the more traumatic surgical entry into the throat known as tracheotomy. At first this treatment was highly controversial. In the preface of his book Intubation of the Larynx published in 1888, he wrote: "Few can appreciate the risks and dangers that were encountered in introducing this operation into private practice. Several times my life was threatened for 'putting a plug in a child's throat.' On one occasion I was obliged to beat a hasty retreat to avoid personal injury, and in another case the coroner was summoned to investigae and hold me responsible for a child's death. Through the support and encouragement of my brother practitioners, however, I was enabled to persevere until the operation became established as a legitimate procedure." Dr. Frank moved to Denver in 1893 and died in 1911. He married a schoolmate, Elizabeth Leach, on May 13, 1880. From this union came three daughters including one who has become posthumously famous, Ethel Phoebe Waxham, born August 11, 1882 in Rockford, Illinois..
Ethel Waxham graduated with honors from Wellesley College in 1905. In the autumn of that year, she accepted a position as a teacher in a small settlement in primitive central Wyoming. A gifted and insightful writer, Ethel kept a journal chronicling her journey to Twin Creek and her experiences during a year of teaching. During this year and subsequently, she added to her journal and maintained a lively correspondence with numerous acquaintances including one John Galloway Love, a Wyoming sheep rancher who had met and been deeply smitten by the young school teacher. After a 5-year courtship, much of it by stagecoach-borne letter, they were married June 20, 1910.
For many decades, Ethel's saga was known only to her immediate family who fortunately preserved all her papers. Fortunately again, Ethel's son, John David Love, loaned some of her writings to John McPhee, who was conducting research on the geology of Wyoming. This led to publication of a two-part article, "The Rising of the Plains" in the New Yorker magazine in 1986 which included excerpts from Ethel's journals. (A college roommate sent me a copy shortly after it appeared, but I had to write back and admit that I had no idea who Ethel Waxham was.) Since the New Yorker readers were little engaged by Wyoming geology but wildly enthusiastic over Ethel's wit, it became clear that she deserved a wider audience. Granddaughters Barbara Love and Frances Love Froidevaux compiled and edited a book, Lady's Choice: Ethel Waxham's Journals and Letters, 1905-1910 issued 1993 with a paperback edition in 1998. Substantial bits of Ethel's writings were also included in the Ken Burns television series, The West. A sampling of these scenes can be viewed on the Internet at the link below.
The fifth son of Zachariah Waxham and Caroline Nevins was Charles H. Waxham, born May 4, 1861. After public school, he graduated from a school of pharmacy, moved to Chicago in 1882 where he owned and operated a drug store, and then enrolled in the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Graduating in 1893, he practiced briefly first in Chicago and then in Indiana. In 1901, he moved to Sugar City, Colorado where he served for over 35 years as staff physician at the National Sugar Company. Except for military service in the medical corps during World War I, he lived and practiced medicine in Sugar City until his death November 23, 1937. He married Hettie L. Gebler July 11, 1880 in Beloit, Wisconsin.
Dr. Charles and Hettie Waxham had three children. Amy Blanche Waxham, born January 3, 1881 in Rockford, perhaps the most glamorous of the Waxhams, was a fashion model whose beauty can be seen in the Mack Sennett photographs of the period. Amy married Carleton H. Stafford; the couple had no children. She died March 1, 1959. Charles and Hettie's second daughter, Grace Caroline, died in infancy. Their only son, Charles LeRoy Waxham, was born August 11, 1888. He married Edna May Greene April 14, 1928 and lived in Colorado. He died March 2, 1985 at the age of 96.
We have been reviewing the descendants of Zachariah Waxham, third child and only son of original immigrant James Waxham and Ann Gill. As mentioned previously, James had a second wife, Ann Nicholas, who bore him six more children, as enumerated above. For convenience, since our emphasis is on the Waxham surname, we will discuss the sons first.
James Waxham served in Company E, 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment during the Civil War. He enlisted April 26, 1865 and was discharged June 14, 1865 and thus probably was spared the rigors of actual combat. Despite the brevity of his service, his name is inscribed on a monument to Civil War veterans located in front of the Gage County courthouse in Beatrice, Nebraska. James Jr. married Victoria Saltsman April 15, 1858 in Erie, Pennsylvania and had three children Sarah Celeste Waxham (October 27, 1861 - February 18, 1890); Eddie Waxham, born February 24, 1864 and died the same day; and William Saltsman Waxham (October 21, 1868 - Unknown). William Saltsman Waxham married Fannie Ames Martin, also a DAR-documented Revolutionary descendant, on March 16, 1893 in LaSalle County, Illinois. They had two sons: Ralph Waxham (April 27, 1898 - 1991), a detective who once ran for the office of Secretary of State of Nebraska, and William Waxham (July 9, 1906 - October 2, 1982). Both were married but had no children and spent their later years in Denver, Colorado.
The second son of James Waxham and Ann Nichols was Henry P. Waxham, born about 1849. Unlike his older brother, he stayed in the East, working as a blacksmith and farmer and dying in Wesleyville August 10, 1910. He married Lucy Hough and had one son, Frederick A. Waxham, who was born in 1878 and died in 1936. If Frederick had a wife and children, we have not yet uncovered their records.
In addition to the two sons, James and Ann Nicholas had four daughters. Celeste, the eldest, was born about 1833, two years after the family arrived in the United States. She married David S. Chambers on June 22, 1854. Salina Waxham was born about 1845, also in Chautauqua County, NY. She apparently never married and died March 13, 1923 in Franklin Township, Erie County, PA. Another daughter, Lavinia (or Lovina - records are inconsistent), was born about 1847. She married Robertson D. Chambers and had a daughter, Anna, born about 1869. Lavinia died June 3, 1929 in Oil City, Venango County, PA, her daughter Anna dying in the same place June 10, 1942. James and Ann Nicholas had a fourth daughter, Victoria, who died in childhood. We do not know when she was born, only that she died June 3, 1846 and, for some reason, is buried in the Main Street Cemetery in Fredonia, NY rather than in the Evergreen Lawn Cemetery in Hanover Center, which would have been about 12 miles closer to her father's farm.
This summary has been prepared not only to share what we now know of the history of the Waxham family but also to indicate the numerous areas where we remain ignorant. The writer will be enormously grateful to anyone who can fill in any of these gaps or supply new leads which ought to be pursued. At any rate, I hope you have enjoyed our story.
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