Grandpa Jenks



Today, well, 141 years ago today, my great great great grandfather, Morris Jenks passed away in the house he built in Southfield, Oakland Co, Michigan.  Morris was born on 7 October 1801 in Berkshire, New York to Laban and Prudence White Jenks and migrated with the family into Oakland County, Michigan in 1820.  On 20 November 1828, in Bloomfield Twp, Oakland Co, Morris married Almira Botsford.  The two had four children: Leman Case (1830), Esther (1832) [my great great grandmother], Oliver Torrey (1835), and Minerva B (1838).  As an early pioneer of Southfield, Morris was elected one of the township’s first three Road Commissioners in that first township meeting on April 4, 1831.   Like his father, Laban, Morris served in the Militia and was a Captain in the Michigan Militia.  He was elected Assessor in 1844.  The first home he built was a log cabin, but in 1851 he built a second home for the family that still stands on Berg Road in Southfield.

Morris was laid to rest in the Southfield Cemetery, where his marker has fallen and broken and is in disrepair.  Luckily, I found it a number of years ago before it was totally destroyed.


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Remembering Grandma Lee


Esther Jenks Lee

Grandma Lee died 10 February 1918, 101 years ago.  She was my grandfather’s grandmother [my great great grandmother]

Three years before Michigan became a state – in 1832, to be exact, a baby girl was born on a farm on the Burg Road in Southfield Township – and was Christened Esther Jenks. She was the daughter of Morris and Almira Botsford Jenks. Of course, in those days, the present day road was called the Reservation Trail and the very few clergymen who made that trail two or three times a year visiting the several Indian reservations in the south part of Oakland County were known as Indian Missionaries. But the Jenks homestead was known all over southeast Michigan as a place where hospitality was a habit. And one of not more than 10 or 15 similar places in Wayne County outside of Detroit which at that time boasted of about 2000 inhabitants.

The babe, Esther Jenks, grew in the homestead in the woods to girlhood, of handsome face and figure, sweet disposition, and a pronounced character marked by industry, thrift, and uprightness. At about the age of 17, she went to Detroit and, staying with her Aunt Mary Botsford Cook, she attended the old Cass School for two or three terms. At the close of her school days – often interrupted by the general community conditions common to pioneers, she emerged a young woman of rare intelligence.

I think the young people of her day enjoyed themselves far more than those of today. Their pleasures were simple and perhaps far apart but were satisfactory and were thoroughly appreciated. I have heard Esther tell many amusing and interesting stories of her youthful days. But. I am sorry to say that my memory has failed and I remember but a few instances and have had to depend on others and items from newspapers for a good bit of my information. But once when they still lived in the old log house, Uncle Smith Jenks lived a little south of the corners on the west side of the road. And one fine evening a lot of the young folks decided to go down to Uncle Smith’s calling. Esther was entertaining her very first beau, so they walked slowly and let the others get there a few minutes ahead. Then walking up to the door, they very politely knocked. Instead of the door being opened with an invitation to enter, someone sang out, “Come in if you’re fat — stay out if you’re lean.” Esther’s dignity received such a shock that she marched her escort back home very much disgusted with the rest of the crowd.

Another time, a young man came to take her and sister, Minerva, to a party and one of them said “I haven’t a thing to wear” and the young man said, “You’d better stay home then.” I never knew who these two young men were but I do know she did not marry her first beau.

This other little remembrance of her dignity and uprightness was with other little notes and items that he remembered hearing his parents speak about, Mr Frank Lee, kindly handed over to help me out in writing a little about their happy youthful days. At one time, two of the Lee boys, George and Charlie, then living west of the stone school house, hitched up a four horse team to a sleigh and packing up a half dozen couples, drove to Birmingham. Besides the young teamsters, there were Esther Jenks, Helen Babcock, Julia Waters, John Hutchins and wife, Mr and Mrs Hut Hall, a Miss Hicks, and, I think, a sister for John Hutchins. They were expecting a Mrs Wallets (sister of John Harmon) would have a turkey dinner or, at least, an oyster stew for them. So with appetites sharpened by the 10 mile ride in the cold night air, they drove up to the Willets’ house. But, there was no fire in the parlor. A quilt was on the dining room and no fire there. Some of the girls were so much at home that they went out in the kitchen to get warm and took the others along much to the disgust of Mrs Willets. After it came to the crowd that they would have neither turkey dinner or oyster stew or even a whack at a cold ham bone, the boys gathered up some crackers, cheese, and candy and started home and, I suppose, had as much fun on the homeward journey, as they did going. Those living along the way got out as they came to their homes. George Lee left his girl at her father’s (John Waters). Also, the sleigh bells and Buffalo robe. And Miss Hicks was also let out at her gate. When they came to the stone school house corners the 4 horse team did not fancy going east instead of toward home and it took about all the horsemanship the boys had to make the turn right side up. And when they got to the Babcock house they were so busy keeping the horses from getting hopelessly tangled up that Miss Helen gathered up the robe and found her way to the door alone. When they got back to the corner again, they had quite a time to get the horses to go south to the Jenks place and by the time they got there, the boys had all four horse team ride they cared for so unhitched the leaders with the idea of leading them behind the sleigh. In the scramble they did not pay much attention to Miss Esther Jenks and so as she was going in the gate, she turned and said, “I don’t mind going in alone, but I’ll be darned if I’ll lug in the buffalo robe.” But even at that neither she nor Miss Waters went back on their beau teamsters. For they at least helped to tote the buffalo robes all the rest of their lives.

Esther Jenks, daughter of Morris and Almira Botsford Jenks, became the bride of Charles Norton Lee, son of Horatio and Hannah Munn Lee on December 25, 1855. The ceremony was performed by the Rev Robert Lanning at the home of the bride’s parents. They were attended by her brother, Leman, and Lydia Sickner Jenks, his bride of a few weeks. After dinner a load of the young folks went for a sleigh ride to Detroit. The two young married couple stayed and made a visit. The bride’s dress was an all wool Challis, ashes of roses in color, and made with a very long full skirt, little tight waist with a leg of mutton sleeves, and an embroidered silk collar. The wedding guests included a number of Mr Lee’s near relatives as well as a number of the bride’s cousins from Detroit.

The Reunion Papers of the Jenks FamilyEva Seymour Jenks
And from the Notes on the 1918 reunion from the same manuscript:

At her home, “the old Jenks homestead” in Southfield, Michigan, February 1 0, 1918, Esther Jenks Lee, aged 85 years, beloved mother of Mrs. Effie Weaver [my great grandmother], Mrs. Myra Churches, Mrs. Etta Wright, and Mrs. Ora Churches. Mrs. Lee was the last one of Morris Jenks children and leaves to mourn her loss (besides her children) a number of loving grandchildren, a sister-in-la w, Mrs. Oliver Jenks, and a host of other relatives and friends. Her last days were seemingly free from pain. Her only complaint being “so tired” and so soft and so still did she leave us, that none save the Angels could tell precisely the moment when Jesus recalled her to Heaven to dwell. Her funeral was held February 13, and was attended by hundreds from Oakland and Wayne counties, and she was laid to rest beside her beloved husband and only son in Southfield Cemetery. – Eva Seymour Jenks.

And the obituary from the Southfield Newspaper: Three years before Michigan became a state – in 1833 to be exact – a baby girl was born on a farm on the Burg Road in Southfield township and she was christened Esther Jenks. Of course, in those days the present day road was called the “Reservation Trail” and the very few clergymen who made that trail two or three times a year – visiting the several Indian Reservations in the south part of Oakland county, were known as Indian missionaries. But the Jenks homestead was known all over southeast Michigan as a place where hospitality was a habit and one of not more than ten or fifteen similar places in Wayne county, outside of the city of Detroit which at that time boasted of about 2,000 inhabitants.The babe, Esther Jenks, grew on the “homestead in the woods” to girlhood, of handsome face and figure, sweet disposition and a pronounced character marked by industry, thrift and uprightness. At the close of her school days – often interrupted by the general community conditions common to pioneers, she emerged a young woman of rare intelligence and grace. Still she lived on the old farm. At 23 years of age she became the wife of Charles M. [ed.- N.] Lee – who died in 1905. And they lived on the old farm, rearing a large family and winning the respect and admiration of all in the rapidly growing neighborhood. Life to them was satisfying and prosperous. After the death of her husband Mrs. Lee still remained on the old farm until Sunday, February 10, when she died, for eighty-five years being a resident on the farm. A very rare record. The children were Emma, Estelle who died at three years of age; Welly Lee who died last fall, Mrs. Effie L. Weaver, Mrs. Myra H. Churches, Mrs. Etta Wright and Mrs. Ora Churches, all of whom are still living. Mrs. Lee’s funeral, held last Wednesday afternoon was attended by hundreds from Oakland and Wayne counties and the burial was in the Southfield cemetery. Rev. Evans officiated. The funeral arrangements were under the supervision of R. B. Northrup.  Grandma Lee is laid to rest in the Southfield Cemetery with her husband, Charles Norton Lee and their beloved son, Lewellyn Lee [Uncle Willy] who passed away the year before.

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Happy 79th Anniversary Laurence Mentor Phillips and Gale Delilah Ashton

On 8 February 1940, Laurence Mentor Phillips married Gale Delilah Ashton in Pontiac, Oakland County, Michigan.  Lawrence was my third cousin, twice removed.  James Andrew Phillips and Mary Jeneavieve Lee welcomed Laurence into this world on 10 August 1913. It may seem that I have run a bit off the beaten path to pull up these particular family members today.  But, I am extremely grateful to their son, Gary Lee Phillips, my fourth cousin, once removed, whom I have only met via email for setting me on a great journey in tracking my Lee ancestors.  It was about 20 years ago, in the beginning of online research when I found a gedcom posting by Gary on a genealogy web site that had Horatio Lee, the same name as my great great great grandfather.  Gary had both birth and death information.  I had Horatio’s death date and age at death from his tombstone.  Quick calculation showed these to be the SAME.  We started to exchange emails.  Gary dropped a major surprise on me – he had the family Bible from Horatio’s parents – William and Mary Lee!!! (note:  William and Mary Summers Lee are buried in Quaker Cemetery, Farmington, Oakland County, Michigan – tombstones were a subject of a previous blog entry)


And then the Lee family just took off for me.   So, that is why I honor the marriage of what might appear to be such remote relatives.   Gary is a descendant of Horatio’s brother, Harvey.

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Happy 326th Birthday, Grandpa Isham!🎈🎁🎂

It was on 7 February 1693 in Barnstable, Massachusetts, that Isaac Isham was born to John and Jane Parker Isham.   Isaac was my 7 times great grandfather.  Isaac married Abigail Lambert on 3 May 1716, also in Barnstable.  Those Cape Cod natives liked to stay on the Cape!  Isaac and Abigail had 8 children:  Isaac (1718), Samuel (1719), John (1721), Ebenezer (1723), Timothy (1725) [my ancestor], Joshua (1727), Daniel (1729), and Abigail (1731).  Grandfather Isham died at Barnstable in July of 1771.  Son Timothy married Rebecca Fuller, the direct descendant of Mayflower Passenger, Edward Fuller.

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Happy 247th Birthday, GGGG Grandmother Jenks!🎂🎈🎈🎈🎈

On 25 January 1772, in Norton, Massachusetts, Prudence White was born to Nathaniel and Mehitable Morey White.   At the age of 21, Prudence married Laban Jenks on 22 September 1793, in Cheshire, Massachusetts.  Grandparents Jenks were the parents of 14 children: Lucy (1794), Smith (1795), Orrin (1796), Patience (1797), Seth (1798), Polly (1800), Morris (1801) [my GGG Grandfather], Laura (1805), Nathaniel (1806), Diadama (1808), Sophia (1809), Laban, Jr. (1811), Prudence (1812), and William (1814)!

Life with GGGG Grandfather was not stationary. They lived for a time in Adams, Mass, but in 1805 they were at Tioga County, in the Newark Valley, NY, members of the Mass syndicate that bought townships in this region. Grandfather and his brother and cousin had established the hamlet of Jenksville.  He built a home and then Grandmother Jenks and the children followed.  The house he build in 1795 is still standing and in the family.  Tiring of Jenksville, Grandfather moved the family up the road and founded the town of Speedsville where he was the postmaster.  But, this was not a sink your roots in the ground stay either.  On November 10, 1821, they moved to Bloomfield Township, Oakland County, MI, where they stayed with Daniel Balls for ten days. Laban purchased the north east square in Section 34 and built a log house, the first west of the River Rouge.  It is there Grandparents Jenks would spend the rest of their days.  Prudence White Jenks passed away 24 June 1835.

Laban and Prudence were laid to rest in the Gilbert Lake Burial Ground, but true to their tradition of not staying put, they were moved in the early 20th century to Section 25 of the Roseland Park Cemetery in Berkley, Michigan, with a great number of others that had been interred at Gilbert Lake.



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Life was hard for early settlers …

My 11th great grandfather, Edward Fuller, is reported to have died shortly after this date, 11 January, in 1621.  Having arrived with the first sailing of the Mayflower with his wife and 12 year old son, Samuel (my 10 times great grandfather).   Edward did not survive that first hard winter.  It is also reported that his wife also died in this same time line.   Edward was one of those who signed the Mayflower Compact of 11 November 1620.



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Still miss you, Grandpa Lee!

lee weaver1942

Lee Norton Goodliff Weaver (1893-1970)

Lee Norton Goodliff Weaver was born May 15, 1893, in Columbus, Ohio, to Lemuel and Effie Lee Weaver.   It did not take long after starting school that he would forever drop the use of the first of his middle names and become simply Lee Goodliff Weaver [something about being called Lee No Good Weaver by classmates was the factor in this decision].  Lee would grow up around the family homestead in Southfield, Michigan, and for a time his family lived with his maternal grandparents, Charles Norton and Esther Jenks Lee in the house built by her father, Morris Jenks.  [Goodliff was the name of his paternal grandfather, Goodliff Weaver] The Weaver family eventually built a home on Tireman at the corner of Scotten in Detroit.  At the age of 12, Lee was reported to have purchased the lot next door to the one purchased by his parents.

Lee would marry Florence Koontz on April 27, 1918, also in Columbus, but the young couple settled in Lee’s home in Detroit, Michigan.  The Weaver home on Tireman was a duplex and Lee and Florence lived in the upper unit there until 1929.   Both of the Weaver daughters were born in that home.

Grandpa was called Grandpa Lee not Grandpa Weaver, at the insistence of Grandma Florence.  When my older cousin was born she defined that she was to be Grandma Florence, NOT Grandma Weaver.  Grandma Weaver was her mother-in-law and she really did not care for her at all.  So, to follow suit, Grandpa was Grandpa Lee.

Grandpa was a great friend and grandfather.   Whether it was taking the whole family to the Masonic Temple in Detroit to watch first run movies in the Consistory Auditorium (a perk of Grandpa being a 32nd degree mason), flashing his Consistory ring in the eye of a policeman that pulled him over for speeding (the diamond was quite flashy) to let him know he was a high degree Brother Mason, or just taking his four grandsons to Camp Dearborn for the day whenever the Eastern Star had a card party and the boys needed to be “supervised”, or teaching us the fine art of poker when he was watching the boys during the evening when he had a chance, Grandpa was the best.

I still remember by last visit with Grandpa.  My mother kept trying to get him to tell me good bye since I would be going back to college the next day.  Grandpa refused, saying, that he wouldn’t do it because he was never going to see me again.   He died a couple of days later on January 10, 1970.


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