AMHERSTBURG FREEEDOM MUSEUM
The Baylis Family History Part 1 – Settlements in Essex County
This month’s family history focusses on the Baylis family, specifically through two members: Henry Baylis and Robert Baylis. We’ll begin with Henry Baylis who was born in Lewiston, Delware circa 1827. He married Mary Jane (Laufin) Washington, who was also from Lewiston and the daughter of Lebediah Laufin and Elizabeth Lewis. They moved to the Philadelphia area likely after escaping enslavement, pre 1850. According to the book New Canaan, Freedom-Land, Henry and Mary Jane arrived in the Colchester South Township area in roughly 1858 and purchased 50 acres of land on Lot 8, Hillsville at the junction of Roseborough Road and the 3rd Concession.
Have you ever heard of Hillsville? It was a name used by Black residents in Essex County which described a concentration of Black residents living on the 3rd Concession. The community, according to Milo Johnson, “stretched westward, from 3rd Concession at the Richmond drain, towards the McLean Side Road, east of Walker Road; and from Roseborough, near 3rd Concession, it stretched north towards the 4th Concession.” Hillsville had two main churches: Mount Calvary Church of God in Christ and Central Grove on the corner of the 4th Concession and Walker Road. Hilliard Hurst was very active in the community and was referred to as the “Mayor of Hillsville.”
Henry Baylis farmed in Hillsville for about 60 years and was a well-respected citizen. Years after Henry’s passing, his wife Mary Jane sold their farm and lived with her son Samuel on Gore Road. When Mary Jane passed in 1919, the Amherstburg Echo remarked that she “was above the average in intelligence and was a credit to her race both as a citizen and a consistent Christian woman.”
Henry and Mary Jane’s children include Maria, Moses (1850), Elizabeth (1855), John (1857), James Henry (1858), Victoria (1860), Theodore (1861), Samuel (1864), William (1865), and Mary (1868). There was no available information for Maria, but plenty to share about Moses. According to several records, Moses was born circa 1850 in Philadelphia. He married Alice Marshall, the daughter of Alexander Marshall and Maria Ann Boyd. Moses and Alice had two sons named John (1879) and Harry (1888). Sadly, John passed away at the age of 17 in 1895 after contracting measles which spread to his lungs. Harry married and established himself on a farm on Concession 4 in the Hillsville area. Sadly he also died young after contracting tuberculosis and dying of heart failure at the age of 27 in 1915. Harry’s wife, whose name we do not know, passed away a few years later, in 1918, in Detroit where she lived following Harry’s passing. Do you know who Harry’s wife was?
The family of Moses Baylis lived on a 10-acre farm on the 3rd Concession in the Matthews Settlement, which began when Mathew Matthews first purchased land in 1819. Its location is approximately five miles northwest of Harrow, Colchester South Township. It, according to Milo Johnson, stretched from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Concessions at the Drummond Road intersections and the area north and south of Concession #2 from Drummond Side Road to Smith Side Road. It was approximately five square miles of space. Matthews also played an instrumental role in building the settlement’s first church and school. In fact, the first church was built on his property in 1819, while the school was built near the church a few years later, in 1825.
Sadly, Moses passed on September 1, 1930 in Colchester. He was a very religious person and he often spoke to groups at church and other gatherings. Moses’ sister Elizabeth is who we will discuss next, but all we could find was a death record that states she passed on September 2, 1929 in Essex at the age of 77. At the time of her death she was a widow, but the record does not name her husband. There were also no records available for Elizabeth’s siblings John, Victoria, William and Samuel, except for previously mentioning that Samuel and his mother Mary Jane lived in the same house on Gore Road after the passing of Samuel’s father Henry. There is more information for the remaining Baylis children: James Henry, Theodore and Mary Annie.
James Henry was born circa 1858. He married Julia Ann Lewis on May 17, 1882 in Colchester. Julia was the daughter of Matthew and Eliza Lewis. The couple had at least one son named James Bert Baylis who was born on March 23, 1887 in Macomb, Michigan. James later married Ada Beck on November 21, 1911 in Windsor. Ada was the daughter of George Beck and Josie Hopkins.
James Henry’s brother, Theodore, was born in 1861 and passed away at the age of 22, on October 16, 1883 in Colchester. Theodore’s sister Mary Annie was born circa 1868 and she later married Robert Eli Powell on July 10, 1884 in Amherstburg. Robert Eli Powell was the son of Louis and Hettie Powell. Interestingly, the 1901 Census for Colchester South shows Mary Baylis Powell living with her mother Mary and siblings. Mary Annie’s father Henry is not listed because he passed away a few years earlier in 1896. The 1901 Census does not list Mary Baylis Powell’s husband Robert, but there is an “M” for Married next to Mary Annie’s name. Mary Annie married a second time on December 18, 1823 in Windsor to David Washington who was the son of Thomas Washington and Emily Warfield. Just a note for their marriage record which lists Mary Annie as Annie Baylis Pow, not Powell.
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week for part 2.
The Baylis Family History Part 2 – What’s in a Name?
As mentioned, there are two main branches of the Baylis family that we are exploring this month. We discussed Henry Baylis’ family in Part 1 so it is now time to move onto Robert Baylis’ family. Robert Baylis Sr. has a connection to the Amherstburg Freedom Museum because his gravestone was recovered from a field and is now located behind the Nazrey A.M.E. Church, on the Museum’s property. Robert was born into slavery circa 1821 (some documents say 1810) in the Carolinas and he was originally known as Robert Hornsby. He escaped via the Underground Railroad, passing through Ohio while being followed by slave catchers along the way. According to Milo Johnson’s New Canaan, “The fugitives placed garlic and onions in their shoes to throw the hounds off their scent. Unfortunately, the slave catchers caught up to them as they were about to enter a boat onto Lake Erie. The Freedom Seekers fended off the slave catchers using the paddles of the boat and rowed off to liberty. Robert and his companion made it to freedom in Amherstburg and settled in Malden Township.” Once in Amherstburg, Robert changed his name to Robert Baylis to protect himself from slave catchers who were likely still tracking him down. Freedom Seekers changing their name was not an uncommon act. If you recall in the Johnson Family History, Gabriel Timberlake changed his name to James Johnson when he arrived in Colchester, not only to protect his family and his own identity from slave catchers; he was emancipating himself through his name by saying goodbye to his old life.
Robert Baylis Sr. lived on his farm on the 7th Concession of Malden Township. He married Elizabeth Ryer, who was the daughter of Joseph Ryer. Elizabeth’s 1909 death record lists her mother as “unknown” but it states that Elizabeth’s father was born in New York. The couple had 17 children: Mandy (1840), William (1842), Jacob (1843), George (1845), Mary (1849), Robert (1851), Sarah (1854), Lucinda (1856), Malinda (1856), Julian (1858), John (1860), Matthew (1861), Elizabeth (1865), Mahala (1868), Joseph (1871), Booth (1871), and Martha (1872).
Of all their children, we were able to find information for Robert, Lucinda, John, Joseph and Martha. Because there is a wealth of information for Robert Baylis Jr., he will be discussed last to avoid confusion. We’ll start with Robert’s sister Lucinda. She married John Green and interestingly, there were two marriage records for the couple: the first is from August 2, 1873 and the second is from August 6, 1895. In both records their ages match up for Lucinda who was born circa 1856. The Marriage Record from 1895 states that John was the son of Ellik Green, but I believe this is the incorrect spelling of Alex Green. In an article from the Amherstburg Echo titled “A Double Funeral” it states that John was born in Malden Township in 1850 and was the son of the late Alexander Green. This article does not mention John’s mother’s name, but in the 1871 Census for Malden there is a John Green listed with parents Alexander and Aliza Green. I compared John’s age on his marriage record and the 1871 Census and they match up, so this is likely the correct John Green and also that his mother’s name was Aliza. The article “A Double Funeral” also sadly shares that John was hit by a streetcar in Detroit while driving a wagon and passed away in the Red Cross hospital from a fractured skull. It adds that John and his son Frank both worked as teamsters in Detroit. At the time of John’s passing, Lucinda had already passed away on November 3, 1891.
Lucinda and John had at least ten children. The 1891 Census lists John and Lucinda with their ten children: Elizabeth (14), Gordon (13), Frankie (11), Gusla (9), Clara (7), Angeline (5), Emeline (5), Burk (3), Arabelle (2), Augusta (2/12).
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week for part 3 where we will discuss Lucinda and John’s child and other Baylis family members.
The Baylis Family History Part 3- Three Sets of Twins
We ended Part 2 of the Baylis family history by mentioning that Lucinda and John had at least ten children. The 1891 Census lists John and Lucinda with their ten children: Elizabeth (14), Gordon (13), Frankie (11), Gusla (9), Clara (7), Angeline (5), Emeline (5), Burk (3), Arabelle (2), Augusta (2/12).
Elizabeth married Henry Chambers on August 8, 1892 in Amherstburg and Henry was the son of Lewis and Manda Chambers. Elizabeth and Henry’s children include Rebecca who was born on January 24, 1894 in Amherstburg, John Mahlon who was born on November 15, 1900, Elizabeth Ellen who was born on April 21, 1905 in Amherstburg and William Henry who was born on March 26, 1909, also in Amherstburg.
Elizabeth’s brother Gordon is next. According to several records, he was born circa 1878 and passed on March 26, 1899 in Malden at the age of 21. His death record also reveals that, at the time of his death, Gordon was single and worked as a labourer. Gordon’s brother Frank married Louisa or “Lula” Marshall, the daughter of David Marshall, although some documents list Hezekiah Marshall instead of David. The 1881 Census lists John and Lucinda’s children as Eliza, Gordon and John F., so it is certainly possible that Frank’s first name could also be John considering his other siblings were either female, born much later or do not have the initial “F” in their name.
The next child of Lucinda Baylis and John Green is Gusla or “Gussie” who was born on December 22, 1881 in Malden, followed by twins, Emeline and Angeline who were born on December 25, 1886, also in Malden. Next is Burk who was born November 9, 1887 and Augustus/Augusta who was born February 11, 1891, both in Malden. Sadly, two of Lucinda and John’s children, Julia Ann and John Henry, both passed at early ages. Julia Ann was born on May 14, 1876, but passed away a few years later on February 19, 1880, while John Henry was born on January 16, 1881 and passed away the next month on February 12, 1881.
We’ve discussed the children of Lucinda, now it’s time to move forward with her brother John, the next child of Robert Baylis and Elizabeth Ryer. John married Mary Brown-Weathers, the daughter of Morton Brown and Lucinda Pope. At the time of their marriage, John was a labourer and Mary worked as a domestic. The couple married on April 17, 1888 in Detroit. Based on the documents available, John and Mary had at least eight children: Roy, Hazel, Flossie and Frederick (twins), Enda, Rena, and Madeline and Claudine (twins). Roy was born on June 20, 1888 in Windsor. He married May Welburn on June 8, 1920, also in Windsor. May Welburn was the daughter of James Welburn and Catherine Anderson.
Roy’s sister Hazel was born on April 6, 1892 in Windsor and later married Otto Powell on April 25, 1910 in Windsor. According to their Marriage Record, Otto worked as a Porter. Next are the twins, Flossie and Frederick who were born on April 20, 1894 in Windsor. According to their Birth Record, at this time their father John worked as a Sailor. Tragically, both Flossie and Frederick passed away that same year, but on different days: Flossie passed on July 10, 1894 while Frederick passed on August 5, 1894. Their sister Edna was born on July 23, 1896 and later married Charles Mann in February 1918 in Windsor. Charles Mann was the son of Walter Mann and Sarah Britton.
Edna’s sister Rena was born on August 23, 1899 in Windsor, while the next set of twins, Madeline and Claudine were born on July 24, 1904. According to her Marriage Record, Madeline married William Arthur Mulder on June 1, 1920 in Colchester. William was the son of John Arthur Mulder and Sarah Stewart.
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week for part 4.
The Baylis Family History Part 4- An 80th Birthday
Up next is Joseph, the next child of Robert Baylis Sr. and Elizabeth Ryer. Joseph married Louisa Egbert on January 1, 1898 in Windsor. Louisa was the daughter of Daniel Egbert and Hattie Moore. Their marriage record also reveals that Joseph worked as a Sailor, just like his uncle John. A second marriage record for Joseph reveals that he married more than once. On November 22, 1905, Joseph married Viola Hurst in Romeo, Macomb, Michigan. Viola was the daughter of Henry Hurst and Nancy Lewis.
Before moving onto discuss the line of Robert Baylis Jr., a little bit about his sister Martha first. According to her death record, she was born April 20, 1872 and passed on March 3, 1950 in Detroit at age 77. She is listed as Martha Pease and her parents were Robert and Elizabeth Baylis, meaning that she is the correct Martha. Although we know that she married into the Pease family, her husband’s first name is not mentioned in the record.
As mentioned, Robert Baylis Jr. has been left for last because there is significant documentation for him and his descendants. Robert Jr. married Maria Ann Boyd, the daughter of John Boyd and Eleanor Nolan (one record says Ellen, not Eleanor), on August 14, 1875 in Colchester. In the January 29, 1932 issue of the Amherstburg Echo it mentions an 80th birthday celebration for Robert Baylis, saying “The home of Mr. and Mrs. John Day, seventh concession, was beautifully decorated on Wednesday, January 13th, on the occasion of the eightieth birthday of Robert Baylis, Sr. A well worded address was read by Mrs. Day, after which Mr. Baylis was presented with a beautiful copy of the Holy Bible and a pair of reading glasses for which Mr. Baylis thanked them heartily. The evening was spent in prayer and song. At the conclusion of the evening a delicious lunch was served by Mrs. Day … Mr. Baylis gave a very inspiring talk on ‘The sin of the present world’ and concluded with ‘lay not up for yourself treasures on earth where moth and thieves break through and steal, but rather lay up for yourself treasures in Heaven and prepare to meet thy God.’ Mr. Baylis is a pioneer of this district and we are glad to say is hole [sic] and hearty for one of his age. He is held in high respect by all.”
At the time of this publication, Robert’s wife Maria Ann had passed away many years earlier. In her obituary it says, Maria Ann was the “eldest daughter of the late John Boyd of Colchester North, and was married to Robert Baylis of Malden, August 14, 1875 and took up their residence in this township. To them were born twelve children, of whom nine are living – Robert, of Kalamazoo; Elisha, of Windsor; John, of Malden; Herman, Ellen (Mrs. Meddon), Pearl and Cora, of Detroit; Hattie, of Colchester South. Besides her husband and children she leaves to mourn four brothers and three sisters – Andrew, of Amherstburg; Ernest, of Chicago; Anthony, Walter, Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Binga, of Detroit, and eighteen grandchildren. The funeral took place on Sunday afternoon being very largely attended. Mrs. Baylis was a devoted Christian woman and held in high respect in the community.”
Robert Jr. and Maria Ann had thirteen children: Robert (1876), Iva Dell (1876), Elisha (1880), Forest (1883), John Edward (1884), Mahaliah (1886), Herman (1888), Malidia (1889), Pearlie (1890), Josephus (1893), Cora (1896), Bertha (1899), and Hattie (1901). Robert Jr. and Maria farmed in Malden Township for a time, but in the early 1900s moved to the United States which is recorded on the 1901 US Census, indicating that they along with Cora, Bertha and Hattie were living in Hamtramck, Michigan. It is likely that many of their remaining children stayed in Canada.
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week for part 5.
The Baylis Family History Part 5- Snake Lane
For part 5 of the Baylis family history, we would like to thank several contributors. When we began posting about the Baylis family, Jasmine Wilson reached out to us and offered to share further information about her family. She also spoke with Loraine Crosby, Ethelda Wilson and Vida Mulder who also shared information that will be included in today’s section. We are grateful to them for helping us share this significant history.
We’ll begin this section with Robert Jr. and Maria Ann’s first child Robert F. Baylis who was born on June 11, 1876 in Malden. He married Ida Brooks, the daughter of Benjamin Brooks and Delia Brown, on July 15, 1896 in Windsor. Robert F. and Ida had at least four children: Josephus/Joseph, Robert J., George Henry and Peter. Josephus was born on May 26, 1902 in Windsor and according to his death record he sadly died at age 16 of influenza. This record also mentioned that he worked as a stamper. Robert J. Baylis was born on May 23, 1900 and passed away on May 5, 1941 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, while George Henry was born on April 16, 1904 and Peter sadly passed away at 13 months on April 13, 1908.
Robert and Maria Ann’s next child was Iva Dell Baylis. The death record for an “Ivy” Dell Balis says she was 15 years old at the time of her passing on November 2, 1893. Iva Dell’s brother, Elisha, was born on April 5, 1880 in Malden and later married Martha Brooks, the daughter of Benjamin Brooks and Delia Brown, on September 19, 1900 in Windsor. According to the 1921 Census, Elisha and Martha had the following children: Ethel, Beatrice, Ruby, Pearl, John, Gertrude, Bessie, Louis, Margaret, Kenneth and Clayton. This list should also include Delia Baylis who was born on October 22, 1904, but she sadly passed away the following year on December 27, 1905 in Windsor. This is in addition to Elma Baylis who passed away at 8 months on December 15, 1911 and Louis Baylis who was born on October 13, 1916, but sadly passed away in Windsor on February 10, 1930 at the age of 13. Of Elisha and Martha’s remaining children, information on Emma Beatrice, Ruby, Bertha and John was available. Emma Beatrice was born on April 17, 1903, Ruby was born on March 15, 1906, Bertha Edith was born on August 28, 1907 and John was born on April 2, 1909. All were born in Windsor.
Next up is Elisha’s brother and the next child of Robert Baylis and Maria Ann Boyd Baylis, Forest. He was born on March 11, 1882 in Malden, but passed at age 17 on July 16, 1899 in Colchester due to appendicitis.
Forest’s brother John (also known as Jack) married Daisy Ellen Marshall, the daughter of Hezekiah Marshall and Emma (some records say Elizabeth) Jones-Johnson. John and Daisy moved from Malden Township to Colchester Township circa 1922 where they lived on Snake Lane, Lot 9, Concession 2, Gore. Have you ever heard of the Harrow Snake Lane Black Pioneer Community? All that remains of this settlement is a cemetery. In the mid-1800s, Black Canadians used this site for religious camp meetings and there was a BME church located north of the cemetery, but it was torn down in the 20th century. Many of the stones were moved or broken, which resulted in a restoration campaign in 2001. The only grave that they are certain matches its headstone belongs to Olivia Ellen Moore.
John and Daisy had at least nine children: Clarence Dirford (1909), Robert (1912), Keitha (1913), Elmer (1916), Orville Wellington (1917), John (1921), Lucy (1922), Vida Wanita (1923), and Donald (1925). John and Daisy’s children attended the segregated school, SS#11, and were taught by Mrs. Beulah Cousin and Mrs. Shadd. Clarence Dirford was born on March 11, 1909 in Malden, but there was no information for Clarence’s brother Robert. We were able to locate the November 23, 1931 death certificate for a Mary Baylis whose mother is listed as Keitha Joedell Baylis. We can say with certainty that this is the correct Keitha, not only because of the uniqueness of her name, but also because the informant is John Baylis who for “Relation to Deceased” it says grandfather. Keitha’s brother John was sadly stillborn on December 7, 1921 in Colchester South, as well as Lucy who was also sadly stillborn in 1922.
The next child of Daisy and John is Vida Baylis. Sadly, her mother passed away when she was only nine days old, so it was Emma Marshall who raised Vida. She married Elwood Judson Mulder in 1942. Thanks to Jasmine Wilson, Loraine Crosby, Ethelda Wilson and Vida (Baylis) Mulder we are able to share more about Vida and her husband and children. Elwood Judson retired after 25 years of working at Amchem, but he was also a farmer who grew corn, tomatoes and soy beans. Jasmine also shared that Vida worked as a Homemaker.
Elwood and Vida’s children include Ethelda, Keitha, Daisy Loraine, George, Norman, and Larry. Ethelda was born in 1944 and married Carl Fredrick Wilson in 1968. Ethelda and Carl’s children include: Carl Jr. who was born in 1970, Pamela (Isreal) who was born in 1974 and Melissa (Morgan) who was born in 1979. Vida and Elwood’s next child is Keitha who was born in 1946 and her children include: Nathan Casey, Stacey Lovelle (Caprice) and Lee Winston. Keitha’s sister, Daisy Loraine, was born in 1948 and married Joe Crosby II in March of 1968. Daisy and Joe’s children include: Joe Crosby III who was born in 1968 and Susan Lousie who was born in 1975. The next child of Vida and Elwood is George who was born in 1949 and married Carletta Wilson. George and Carletta had a daughter named Georgina (Mulder) White. Next is Norman who was born in 1950 (passed 2015). His children include Shelly, Eddie Norman, Chrystal, Jason Ott (step), DeWan, and Jordanne. Last is Larry who was born in 1952 and married Louise Kay Wilson. Their children include Marie (Gagnon), Larra (Pears), Philip, Jeremy, Bethany (Sims) and Ashley.
Now that we’ve discussed John Baylis’ family, we will return to discussing his siblings starting with Mahaliah who was born on February 5, 1886 in Malden. Her brother Herman was born on June 24, 1889 in Malden and later married Melissa Piper, the daughter of Charles Piper and Mary Dunn, on November 20, 1909. Melissa Piper’s birth record states that she was born on June 29, 1893 in Windsor and that her father Charles worked as a Porter.
Pearlie Baylis, the next child of Robert and Maria Ann Boyd was born on November 20, 1890 in Malden and she later married Marcus Hanna, who was born in Missouri and the son of Blem Hanna. Their marriage record also lists Marcus’ mother but her first name is cut off and her last name looks like “Land.” Pearlie and Marcus married on February 23, 1916 in Detroit. A second marriage record shows us that Pearl married more than once. Pearl Baylis Hanna also married Samuel Tatum, the son of James and Mary Tatum. They married on January 15, 1921 in Detroit and at that time Samuel was a waiter and Pearl worked as a domestic.
Pearl’s brother Josephus was born on March 15, 1893, but he sadly passed at 14 months old on May 6, 1894 in Windsor. Josephus’ sister Cora married William DeBaptiste on June 3, 1915 in Detroit. William was the son of Banjamin DeBaptiste and Clara Woung. At this time, William worked as a Salesman. Cora’s sister Bertha married John Harris on May 6, 1914 in Detroit. John was the son of Babe and Sarah Harris. The 1921 Census for Anderdon lists John and Bertha Harris with their children: William, Lester, Irene, and Orval. The 1921 Census also lists John as a Farmer.
Finally, we come to the end with Robert and Maria Ann’s last child Hattie who, according to her birth record, was born on March 27, 1901 in Malden. No further documents were found for Hattie.
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week where we will celebrate another amazing family.