Tag: Vermont

William S. Bush, Baptist Preacher

When William S. Bush (c. 1816-1892) decided to become a Baptist clergyman, he did not choose an easy life for himself and his family. He preached in several small towns in a rural, mountainous region of northern New York State, and although the Baptist religion was very popular in America at the time, each congregation was independent, and doctrinal differences could create frictions.

William was born in West Haven, Vermont, the son of farmer William Bush and Polly Bagg Bush (1785-1856). William’s middle initial stood for Stanley, a name that appears frequently in the Bagg family as a nod to Polly’s mother, Pamela Stanley.  

I do not know what influenced him to become a Baptist. Polly’s family worshipped in the Congregational church in Massachusetts, but I doubt the Baggs were very religious. After Polly’s family moved to Canada in the late 1790s, her father and brothers became Anglican and her sister married a Catholic. I know nothing about William’s father.

The Baptists were active in spreading the gospel in Vermont. There were numerous churches in the state, they were well organized and they promoted education. It is quite likely that William studied at the Baptist-run Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution in Hamilton, New York.

Warren County, New York

There were two main branches of Baptists in mid-century New York: Old School Baptists who did not adopt any modern practices that were not found in the Bible, such as such as missions and Sunday schools; and Missionary, or New School Baptists, who did embrace such innovations. In addition, there were numerous independent Baptist churches. I do not know which beliefs William subscribed to.  

In 1844, he was pastor of Johnsburg Baptist Church, Warren County, New York, and in the following years, he moved many times in that region. This kind of turnover appears to have been normal for the area’s Baptist clergymen. The 1850 census found him in Minerva, Essex County, New York. In 1860 he was back in Johnsburg. When the 1865 state census and the 1870 federal census were taken, the family was in Chester, Warren County, and in 1880, William was living in Horicon, Warren County.  

In the 19th century, Johnsburg was a thriving town, and the construction of the railroad beside the nearby Hudson River in 1871 improved transportation. Logging was the most important local industry, especially in the winter. The logs were floated downstream on the Hudson, and local saw mills, driven by water power, kept employees busy. There were four local tanneries in the 1870s, with the tannery in North Creek turning out 30,000 hides a year. There was also some garnet mining in the area. 

Despite the relatively harsh climate, a lot of the land had been cleared. Farmers grew beans, corn, oats and squash, and some grew rye to supply a local distillery. Others supplemented their incomes by selling valuable potash they made from wood ashes.

Slavery was an issue that no doubt concerned William, both as a preacher and as an individual. In the 1840s, this issue caused a rift between Baptists in the northern parts of the United States and those in the south, who defended it. William must have felt strongly because he registered for the Union army in the U.S. Civil War Draft in 1863, though he probably did not serve.

In 1860, William’s Aunt Sophia Bagg, the widow of wealthy landowner Gabriel Roy, died, leaving him and his siblings generous bequests. He and his brother, Phineas Bagg Bush, travelled to Montreal in January 1861 to receive their inheritances. The 500 pounds Sophia left him must have gone a long way to supplement his preacher’s salary, while the trip to Montreal would have provided an opportunity to meet his many Canadian cousins. 

I have been unable to find a record of William’s marriage, so his wife’s maiden name remains a mystery. In census records, she appears as Sarah M. Bush, born in New York. The couple had at least five children, four of whom grew to adulthood.

Their oldest daughter, Sophia, (c 1843 – ) was born in Vermont. She last appeared living with her parents in the 1865 state census. Lydia, born around 1848, appeared in the 1850 census but must have died before 1860. Son George S. Bush (c 1846 – ) seems to have remained single all his life. Charles A. Bush (c 1858 – ) may have married and moved west, first to Arizona, then to Washington State, and Lora Bush (1860-1916) probably married Watson Huntley, remained in northern New York State and had several children.

William’s wife Sarah must have died before 1880 because in that year’s federal census, William, now aged 62, was married to his second wife, Diana, 59. A box in the census was ticked indicating that they had been married that year. Diana must have died soon after because William seems to have remarried again. Next to his grave in North River Cemetery, North River, New York, is the gravestone of his wife Mary A. Bush (1821-1889), who was born in England. William last appeared living in Johnsburg in the 1892 state census, age 75, occupation preacher. The census was carried out in February and William died that September.   

See also:

Janice Hamilton, “Polly Bagg Bush and Her Family,” Writing Up the Ancestors, April 28, 2016 https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2016/04/polly-bagg-bush-and-her-family-part-1.html

Janice Hamilton, “Polly Bagg Bush: A Surprise Sister,” Writing Up the Ancestors, May 23, 2014 https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2014/05/polly-bagg-bush-surprise-sister.html

Photo Credit:

New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer, p. 693

Notes and Sources

It has been difficult to find information on this family, partly because they lived in a rural area where there were few local newspapers and no such thing as a city directory. An obituary for Rev. William S. Bush was probably published somewhere. I have checked the digitized Warren County newspapers on the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society website, but have so far found no references to him.  

Baptists say that only people who are believers should be baptized, so they do not baptize babies and their baptismal records do not indicate of date of birth. That presents a problem in a state that did not keep vital records until the early 1900s. Nor do Baptists believe that marriage is a sacrament, so unless an individual minister kept his own records of the congregation’s activities, there are no church marriage registers. Finally, Baptist congregations are basically independent, so they do not store the records they do have in a centralized location. For this reason, I have relied on censuses to research William S. Bush’s family.   

I used www.ancestry.ca to find the U.S. federal and state census records for this family, and I came across several public member trees on Ancestry that mention his family. There is a photo of William’s grave on Find A Grave (www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=112480768) and this is where I found his date of death.

The website www.reynoldstonnewyork.org features articles and photos about late 19th-century life in the Adirondack region of New York State, including logging, saw mills and potash making. My information about the history of Johnsburg comes from a history of the town,  www.johnsburgny.com/history.html.

William was mentioned as a pastor of Johnsburg Baptist Church in H.P. Smith, History of Warren County (www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nywarren/countyhistory/smith/xxxiii.htm).The sources I used for background on the Baptist Church include the New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer, New York: New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, 2014; Vermont Baptists, The Baptist Enclyclopedia, 1881 (http://baptisthistoryhomepage.com/Vermont.baptists.the.html); and American Baptists, A Brief History (www.abc-use.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/history.pdf).

This article was edited on June 12, 2016 to add historical background on Johnsburg.

Polly Bagg Bush and Her Family

When Sophia Bagg (c 1791-1860) left bequests in her will1to the children of her sister Polly, she also left a legacy to me. Thanks to Sophia’s will and the 1861 inventory of her possessions made following her death2, I have been able to trace the lives of Polly and her family.

Sophia, Polly, Stanley and Abner Bagg were the children of Phineas Bagg and Pamela Stanley of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, my four-times great-grandparents through Stanley. In this post I’m going to look at Polly, the eldest, and her children and grandchildren. 

An exerpt from the will of Sophia Bagg, veuve Gabriel Roy

Polly Bagg was born in Connecticut on April 22, 1785.3 She married Massachusetts-born William Bush and they settled in West Haven, Vermont, not far from the southern tip of Lake Champlain. Perhaps Polly and William Bush had difficulty making ends meet in the early years of their marriage. A letter written in August 1824 by her brother Abner indicated that he was sending Polly a barrel of wool, “a present to a poor unfortunate sister.” 4  

She also appears to have had help from her brother Stanley. He owned a share of the Bush family farm in Vermont and he left his share to Polly in his 1851 will. He died in 1853, but by that time the Bush family appears to have moved to the Midwest. According to the 1850 U.S. census, Phineas Bush, farmer, 28, was living with Mary Bush, 52 (Polly is a nickname for Mary) and William Bush, 53, farmer, in Clinton County, Illinois. 

A photo posted on www.findagrave.com of Polly’s gravestone in Harrison Cemetery, Marion County, a rural area of southern Illinois, shows that she died there on Jan 9, 1856. Son Phineas is buried nearby, but I have not yet found a record of William Bush’s death.  Polly’s and William’s four children were Pamelia Ann, Mary Sophia, William Stanley and Phineas Bagg.5

The two Bush daughters led very different lives, with Mary Sophia living in Quebec as a French-speaking Catholic and Pamelia Ann settling in Oregon. Neither was able to attend the 1861 inventory of their aunt’s will: Mary Sophia was already dead, and Pamelia lived too far away. Phineas Bagg Bush represented Pamelia at this family gathering. Sophia had left her 200 pounds, about $5,400 U.S. in today’s currency.

Sophia and her husband, Montreal-area landowner Gabriel Roy,6 adopted Polly’s daughter Mary Sophia Bush (c. 1815-1841) and brought her up in their St. Laurent home. In 1835, Mary Sophia Roy Bush married Louis Charles Lambert Dumont (1806-1841), the seigneur of Milles-Îles. He was the owner of a vast territory of forests, mountains, rivers and farms in what was basically a feudal system of land ownership in Quebec prior to 1854. 

Both Mary Sophia and her husband died suddenly, on separate dates, in 1841. Their only child, Marguerite Virginie Lambert Dumont (1838-1874), who was just three years old at the time, became heir to the seigneurie. She was brought up by a notary in the town of Saint-Eustache, north of Montreal. When she was 15, she married her cousin, Charles Auguste Maximilien (CAM) Globensky (1830-1906). Virginie had eight children and died at age 36.

Polly’s other daughter, Pamelia Ann (1812-1880),7had a much longer life, but no children. The inventory of Sophia’s will identified her as the wife of John W. York, a Methodist Episcopal minister in Oregon.

The 1840 U.S. Federal Census showed that Pamelia was no longer living in Vermont with her parents at that time. The Early Oregonian8 indicates that Pamelia had a first husband, George Quinton, but I have so far been unable to find a marriage record, place of residence or his date of death.

In 1847, she married clergyman John W. York in Marion, Illinois. Born in Georgia in 1801, John W. York had previously lived in Missouri and he had been married twice before.9 According to the 1850 census, he had three teenage daughters.10

In 1852, Pamelia and John moved to Oregon, settling in Corvallis, Benton County. Corvallis was located on busy transportation route and was a growing town.11 John was admitted to the Oregon Conference and worked as a Methodist Episcopal minister there for many years, travelling the area circuits and overseeing the construction of a new church.

In the 1880 census, Pamelia was listed as an invalid and she died that December. John died in 1884. Both are buried in Mount Union Cemetery, Philomath, Benton County, Oregon.12

As for son Phineas (1820-1867), I have not completed my research on him and his family, but according to www.findagrave.com, he died in Marion County, Illinois on Jan. 4, 1867. His widow, Louise M. Bush, was listed in a city directory in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1905.

Three young daughters are buried in the same Illinois graveyard as Phineas, but two other daughters appear to have accompanied the widowed Louise to Tennessee.   I have written about son William Stanley Bush (c. 1816-1892) in a separate article.  (This article was revised Oct. 2, 2016)

See also:

Janice Hamilton, “William S. Bush, Baptist Preacher,” Writing Up the Ancestors, May 19, 2016 https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2016/05/william-s-bush-baptist-preacher.html

Janice Hamilton, “Polly Bagg Bush: A Surprise Sister,” Writing Up the Ancestors, May 23, 2014 https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2014/05/polly-bagg-bush-surprise-sister.html

Janice Hamilton, “The Doomed Marriage of Mary Sophia Roy Bush and Louis Charles Lambert Dumont,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Jan. 27, 2015, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2015/01/sophia-mary-roy-bush-and-louis-charles.html

Janice Hamilton, “Marguerite Virginie Globensky,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Jan. 27, 2015, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2015/01/the-story-of-marguerite-virginie.html

Notes and Footnotes

  1. Notary J.A. Labadie, 18 mai, 1856, #14278, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
  2. Notary Leo Labadie, 28 January, 1861, #6248, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
  3. I previously believed that Polly (Mary was her real name) was born in Pittsfield, MA, however, Pamelia told the census-takers in 1880 that her mother was born in Connecticut. This makes sense because Polly’s mother, Pamela Stanley, was from Litchfield, CT, and the two towns are not far apart. I have not found any record of Polly’s birth or marriage, only census records and a photo of her gravestone. Her date of birth is calculated from age at death, as recorded on her gravestone.
  4. This letter is in Abner Bagg’s letterbook, PO70/B1, the Bagg Family Fonds, held at the McCord Museum in Montreal.
  5. Searches on www.ancestry.ca for William Bush in the 1820, 1830 and 1840 United States Federal Census show the family living in West Haven, Rutland, Vermont. In 1830, there were only five people in this household rather than the expected two adults and four children; Mary Sophia had already gone to live with her aunt in Lower Canada.
  6. I have yet to find photographs or portraits of any of these individuals except for Virginie. Sophia and Gabriel Roy must have had their portraits done, so if you come across images of any of these people, please contact me at janhamilton66@gmail.com.
  7. Pamelia appears in records and censuses as Pamelia Ann Bush (most likely her correct name at birth), Amelia Bush, Permilia Duinton, Pamelia Ann Bush York, Parmelia York, P.A. York and Pamelia A. York. In her will, Sophia referred to her as Ann, so perhaps that is the name she usually used.
  8. Oregon Secretary of State, “Pamelia Ann Bush,” Early Oregonian Search, https://secure.sos.state.or.us/prs/profile.do?ancRecordNumber=100338, accessed April 23, 2016.
  9. “Oregon Conference,” Minutes of the Annual Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Spring Conferences of 1884. New York: Phillips and Hunt, 1884, p. 334, https://googlebooks.ca, accessed April 24, 2013.
  10. The 1850 U.S. Federal Census on Ancestry.ca showed John W. York, 48, farmer, and Parmelia York, 38, living in District 68, Clinton, Illinois. With them were Martha York, 19, Ann York, 17, and Emily York, 15. Also with them were Nathan Dougherty, 22 and Andrew Carr, 20. I don’t know who these young men were, perhaps farm workers. 
  11. For more information about the history of Corvallis, Oregon, see the website of the Benton County Historical Society, http://www.bentoncountymuseum.org/index.php/research/benton-county-history/
  12. Pamelia Ann Bush York, Find a Grave, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=25056543&ref=acom, accessed April 23 2016.