The Bush Family History Part 1 – From Kentucky to Amherstburg
This month’s family history features the Bush family. Based on the records, the last name Bush was not an uncommon name in 19th century Essex County, so there will be four branches of the Bush family highlighted this month. The first comes from Fountain and Sylvia Bush, the second comes from Luther Bush and Maria Kirtley, the third is from George Washington Bush and his wife Susan, and the last is William Bush and his wife Maria Artis. I am treating each as separate branches because I could not find a definitive connection between the four families except for one detail between the first two Bush families listed above. In Thomas Bush’s (son of Fountain) obituary, it mentions a Luther Bush, but does not refer to him as a sibling, cousin, etc. This was not enough to justify connecting the families, so I have left them separate.
I will start by discussing Fountain Bush. According to the 1861 Census, he was married to a woman named Sylvia (sometimes spelt Selia). I could not find any additional information for Fountain, but I did find a death notice for Sylvia printed in The Amherstburg Echo on March 12, 1875. It says “Bush – In this town, on Monday the 8th inst., Mrs. Sylvia Bush, widow of the late Rev. Fountain Bush, in her 61st year.” I also found a few documents related to their sons Thomas and Moses. The 1881 Census lists Thomas Bush as living under the household of his uncle and aunt Royal and Tilitha Thompson. This Census states that Thomas was 45 years old and worked as a Constable. In the following Census for 1891, Thomas is listed as a ‘common labourer.’ I was also able to find Thomas’ obituary in The Amherstburg Echo which was printed on September 9, 1898. It says “THOS. BUSH, one of the old colored residents of the town, died at his home, Seymore street, on Thursday evening of last week, aged 66 years. Deceased had been ailing for some time, but about four months ago suffered a severe attack of illness, from the effects of which he died. Mr. Bush was born in slavery in Boon Co., Kentucky, 66 years ago, but escaped when about 22 years of age, coming direct to Amherstburg, where he has continuously made his home since. He was unmarried and his only relatives were two uncles, Ryall Thompson and Henry Kirtley, and one aunt, Mrs. Alexander, of Park street. The funeral took place on Friday afternoon, leaving his late residence at 2 o’clock for the Baptist church, where services were conducted by Rev. J.A. Holt, interment taking place in Rose Hill cemetery. The remains were born to their last resting place by Luther Bush, John Wesley, James Dodson, Henry Brown, Thos. Harris and Wm. Brantford.”
I was also able to find a few pieces of information for Thomas’ brother Moses. According to his death record, he passed away on December 1, 1879 at the age of 35. This record also states that he was born circa 1844 in Amherstburg and worked as a mariner. On December 5, 1879 The Amherstburg Echo reported Moses’ passing and wrote “BUSH – In Amherstburg on Saturday, November 30th, Moses Bush, aged 35 years. Funeral took place to the First Baptist Church, on Monday last. The Rev. Anthony Bingey (Binga) preached an impressive sermon.”
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 Bush Family History Part 2 – Firemen on the D.&C. Steamer
The next branch of the Bush family is for Luther Bush and I was able to find significantly more information on this branch. Luther Bush married Martha Kirtley. Both are mentioned several times in The Amherstburg Echo. Martha seems to have been quite involved in the church. An article from May 19, 1882, reported “Walter Anderson and Sylvester Williams were presented with ‘two handsomely bound volumes of Burns’ and Scott’s poems, a Russia leather pocket album, a scrap book and silk handkerchiefs, by the ladies of the First Baptist and B.M.E. churches, of this town, in recognition of the services rendered by them at the late concert. The presentation was made by Mrs. Luther Bush and Miss Sarah Monroe, and took the recipients by surprise. Messrs. Anderson and Williams well deserve all they received.” In 1893 The Amherstburg Echo shared Martha’s involvement in another gift presentation. It says “A number of scholars of the A.M.E. Sabbath School met at the residence of Mrs. Luther Bush Wednesday evening and then repaired to the home of Principal J. H. Alexander where they presented him with a beautiful rocking chair.” A further note. John H. Alexander was the principal at the King Street School in Amherstburg. The following year, on November 23, 1894, The Amherstburg Echo reported “The ladies of the Open Hand Society of the A.M.E. church will give a grand dinner and supper on Thanksgiving Day, (Thursday) … Everybody invited, Martha Artis, Martha Smith, Fanny Bell and Martha Bush, committee.”
Martha’s husband Luther Bush is also mentioned in The Amherstburg Echo. On April 5, 1889, it was reported that “There has been a regular exodus of … mariners this week, they having gone to the various lake ports to join their boats for the season’s navigation. Among those who have gone are … Luther Bush and George Brantford, of the Atlantic.” Almost a decade later, on September 16, 1898, The Amherstburg Echo wrote that “Albert Brown, cook on the Imperial, is taking a holiday of two weeks. Luther Bush is taking his place in the meantime.” Decades later, on June 3, 1927, Luther is listed in a different profession. The article states “Luther Bush, of Amherstburg, Daniel Reynolds, Moses Bayliss and Henry Harris, of Colchester, were compelled to quit their jobs as firemen on the D.&C. Steamer, City of the Straits, because they were Canadians.” No further explanation is given.
Luther was also involved in organizations. On January 4, 1895, The Amherstburg Echo reported that “Luther Bush elected Curator for the Social Literary Society of the A.M.E. church. Organization met every Wednesday evening.” On January 21, 1898, Luther Bush also appears on the Executive Committee for Amherstburg’s Ward 3 at a convention of the South Essex Liberals which took place in Kingsville at the town hall. It was described as “the largest and most enthusiastic convention ever held in the Riding and augurs well for the success of the nominee of the party in the coming election for the Local Legislature. The utmost harmony and unanimity prevailed and the delegates went home after the meeting determined to roll up the largest majority in the history of the Riding. The party is well organized for the election which will soon be at hand.”
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.
The Bush Family History Part 3 – US Calvary
Martha and Luther Bush had at least two sons named William Henry and Luther Jr., along with an adopted daughter named Grace. The first time that Grace appears on the Census with Luther and Martha Bush is 1891 and she is five years old. The following Census for 1901 shows that Martha passed away by this point. According to Martha’s obituary from The Amherstburg Echo on June 17, 1898, “Last Sunday morning, June 12th, Mrs. Luther Bush died at her residence, Sandwich street, aged 51 years and 8 months. She had been sick for five weeks with inflammatory rheumatism, which afterwards developed into kidney trouble. The deceased’s maiden name was Martha Kirtley, and she was the daughter of Bert D. Kirtley, of Lawrenceburg, Indiana. She settled in Amherstburg in 1856, and after a residence of six years was married to Luther Bush, who survives her. To this … couple were born two children, both sons – Luther, who was burned to death at the age of 19 years on the destruction of the ill-fated steamer Lake Breeze, Nov. 27th, 1878 off Leamington, and William H., Fort street. Besides these, an adopted daughter, Grace, 13 years of age, resides at home. A sister, Mrs. Philip Butler, lives at New Canaan, and a brother, George Kirtley, in Detroit. Two nieces, Mrs. Chas. I. Michelland, Mrs. Thomas Pearl, and a nephew, Gordon C. Butler, live in Colchester North. Mrs. Bush was a consistent Christian, a woman of large charities, and one always ready to assist in sickness or time of trouble. She was a member of the A.M.E. church here for the passed 33 years, from which place the funeral services were conducted on Tuesday afternoon by the pastor, Rev. W.F. Townsend, internment taking place in Rose Hill cemetery. The following were pallbearers: – Wm. Brantford, Wm. Monroe, James Dodson, Joseph Bell, John Wesley and Thomas Harris. To Mr. Bush and his family goes out the sympathy of a large circle of mourning friends.”
The 1901 Census which does not list Martha, also does not list Grace as living with Luther. This might cause one to question what happened to her, but Luther’s obituary (still) lists her as his adopted daughter, even if she is not listed under his household on the Census. According to The Amherstburg Echo which printed Luther’s obituary on May 17, 1901, “It is with regret we chronicle the death of Luther Bush which occurred at the residence, corner of Sandwich and Fort streets, Friday last. Mr. Bush who was 66 years of age had been sick for some time and his death was not unexpected. The deceased was born in Boone county, Kentucky, and came to Amherstburg in 1851. In 1857 he married Miss Martha Kirtley and the result of the union was two sons, Wm H., of Amherstburg, steward, on the Sir Oastalia; Luther jr. who died many years ago. In 1898 Mr. Bush sustained an irreparable loss in the death of his wife. The deceased was ? to his friends and was seldom heard to speak disparagingly of anyone. Beside his son, an adopted daughter, Miss Grace, and many friends mourn his loss. The funeral was held on Saturday, service being conducted in the A.M.E. church by Rev. R.J. Hatchett, after which interment was made in Rose Hill cemetery. The pallbearers were John Wesley, Jas. Dodson, Wm. E. Thompson, Wm. Brantford, Simuel McDowell and Wm. H. Brantford.”
Sadly, I could not find any documents that tell us what happened to Grace after the passing of her adopted parents. The only further information I could find for her pre-dates Martha and Luther’s passing. An article from The Amherstburg Echo, on January 11, 1895 mentions Grace’s participation in an A.M.E Sunday School event. The article says “The New Year’s tree and entertainment given by the A.M.E. Sunday school on New Year’s night was well attended, the church being crowded. Several choruses were sung by the choir, and recitations were given by Bertha Wesley, Annie Wesley, Forrest Wesley, May Alexander, John Alexander, Arthur Alexander, Ettie Pierce, Charlotte Pierce, Eddie Green, Esther Green, Leroy McCurdy, Carrie Brantford, Josie Lewis, Grace Bush, Elwood Artis, Roman Simpson, Louise Gaines, Frank Gaines, Edith Thompson, and F.H.A. Davis. One of the most pleasing numbers of the programme was the duet by little Miss Mabel and Master Georgie McCurdy. Miss Almeida Johnson sang ‘O Fond Dove’ very acceptably, and was encored again and again. D.R. Davis gave a short appropriate address, and a duet by Miss Johnson and Miss Bertha Wesley closed the programme. Proceeds $7.25.” On February 8, 1895, in The Amherstburg Echo, Grace is also listed as attending the King Street School.
The next child of Luther and Martha Bush is William Henry Bush. He married Gertrude Smith, the daughter of Captain James A. Smith and Mary Anne Underwood, which was announced in The Amherstburg Echo and said “At Sandusky, Sergeant William H. Bush, to Miss Gertie H., third daughter of Capt. J.A. Smith, all of Amherstburg.” The Echo also mentions William served a second time stating “William H. Brush, eldest son of Luther Bush, of Amherstburg, has returned home after five years service in the U.S. cavalry.” I was able to find a military record for William Henry Bush which recorded that he was a Private in Troop C9, US Cavalry. This record also says that William was born on May 18, 1857, enlisted on June 11, 1878 and was discharged on June 10, 1883. It also mentions the date of his passing, March 3, 1937, which is confirmed on William’s death record.
William’s obituary shares more information and says “Death of W.H. Bush – Following an illness of seven weeks, the death occurred of William Henry Bush, Wednesday, March 3, at his home on Sandwich Street, Amherstburg. Deceased was one of the well known and highly respected members of the colored community and his death is deeply regretted by his large circle of friends. Mr. Bush was born in Amherstburg, the son of Luther and Martha Bush, and resided here until a young man, when he joined the United States Cavalry to fight in the Indian wars. He enlisted June 11, 1878, and served until the year 1883 when he received his honorable discharge. The first year he was in the army he was promoted to the rank of sergeant and won for himself a distinguished record for bravery in battle. In 1890 he was married to Gertrude Smith of Amherstburg, daughter of the late Capt. James Smith and the former Mary Underwood. Deceased was best known for his lengthy career as a marine chef. He sailed the lakes for 15 years, retiring only nine years ago. The last boat on which he sailed was the Homer D. Williams. Since his retirement he has devoted most of his time to his chief hobby, the culivation [sic] of flowers, and his lawn and flower beds showed more than anything else the love of the beauties of nature which he possessed. Surviving him are his wife and one cousin, Mrs. Clara Mitchell of Ann Arbor, Mich. One brother predeceased him. The funeral service will be held this Friday afternoon at his late residence with the Rev. Penny of Windsor, and Rev. I.H. Edwards of Amherstburg, officiating. Interment will take place in Rose Hill cemetery.”
It was only a few years later that Gertrude’s passing was reported in The Amherstburg Echo on April 27, 1944 which reported “Death of Old Resident – Mrs. Gertrude H. Bush, widow of William H. Bush, passed away at her home on Sandwich Street, Friday, April 21. She was born in Amherstburg, October 18, 1869, the daughter of the late Captain James Smith and Mary Ann Underwood and was educated in the public schools here. About the year 1888 she and William H. Bush were married. There were no children born to this union. Mrs. Bush had been a member of the First Baptist Church for more than sixty years and was an interested member of the Ladies Sewing Circle and the Ladies Missionary Society. She was the last of the Smith family and is survived by numerous nieces and nephews. The funeral service was held at the First Baptist Church Monday afternoon at two o’clock. The officiating clergymen were Rev. I.H. Edwards, pastor; Rev. Bradby, Second Baptist Church, Detroit; Rev. Banks and Rev. Henry Talbot, all old friends of the deceased. The hymns were sung by the choir and during the service Mrs. Ralph McCurdy sang a solo. Burial was in Rose Hill Cemetery with four nephews acting as pallbearers, Roman McDowell, Philo Foster, John Foster and Dr. J.R. Lee. The out-of-town relatives attending funeral were Dr. and Mrs. J.R. Lee and Mrs. J.E. Murrell of Cleveland; Mrs. Chas. L. Jones of Toronto; Mrs. Louis Taylor and son Louis Jr. of Windsor; Mr. and Mrs. Philo Foster of Genevea, Ohio; Roman McDowell and Mrs. James Benson of Detroit and many others from the surrounding district.”
Although Gertrude and William did not have any children, there is an interesting article about their grandnephew Robert C. Jones. On September 10, 1942, The Amherstburg Echo reported “Robert C. Jones, grandnephew of Mrs. William Bush, Sandwich Street, a radio operator in the Merchant Marine, is home in Toronto after having had many exciting and harrowing adventures on the Atlantic and the Caribbean in his two year’s service. Jones graduated from East York Collegiate, Toronto in 1933. He took a radio operator’s course with the Canadian Marconi Company obtaining a second-class radio operator’s license. He is going to write for his first-class license soon, and if he obtains it, he wants ‘some active job in the war effort.’ His marriage to his English fiancé appears elsewhere in this edition.”
I also found a marriage announcement for Robert C. Jones which was shared on September 10, 1942 in The Amherstburg Echo. It stated “Jones-Webster – In Woodbine Heights Baptist Church, Toronto, Saturday, September 5, 1942, Miss Winnifred Webster, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. William Webster, Liverpool, England, to Mr. Robert C. Jones, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles L. Jones of Toronto, formerly of Amherstburg.”
William’s brother Luther Jr. sadly met a tragic end as was reported in The Amherstburg Echo on November 30, 1928. It was reported that “The Steamer, ‘Lake Breeze’ was burned to the water’s edge at the Leamington Dock and Luther Bush, Jr., son of Luther Bush, of Amherstburg, aged nineteen, was burned to death. Capt. J. Laframboise was sole owner of the boat.”
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 Bush Family History Part 4 – Settlers of New Canaan
The third branch of the Bush family that will be discussed is the family line connected to George Washington Bush and his wife Susan Bell. According to Milo Johnson’s book New Canaan: Freedom-Land George Washington Bush and Susan Bell were born enslaved and came to Canada through Amherstburg, settling in New Canaan, Colchester North circa 1844, with a residence on Lot 76 of the 6th Concession. Johnson adds that George’s farm was 47 acres with 27 acres in crops with the rest being pasture, orchards and woodland. Milo Johnson also states that “By 1891, the Bush household, now located on Lot 18 of South Malden Road, was quite large.”
I was only able to find a death record for Susan Bush which records that she was born in Virginia circa 1825 and passed away on September 10, 1920 in Windsor at the age of 95. This record also reveals that Susan’s mother’s name was Annie Bell. The informant was Susan’s son Lewis Bush. According to the Census, George Washington and Susan had at least four children: Morgan, Margaret, William J., and Lewis. Morgan is listed in the 1861 Census as 3 years old, but is not listed in the 1871 and 1881 Census. It is likely that he passed away considering he was too young in 1871 (age 13) to have married and started a household of his own.
Morgan’s sister Margaret is the next child of George Washington and Susan to be discussed. She married three times. Her first marriage was to John I. Thornton and they had two children named Emit Valentine and Louisannah. I was able to find a birth record for Emmet Valentine Thornton which lists his parents as Margaret Bush and John I. Thornton. Emmet/Emit was born on March 30, 1877 in Colchester. The 1881 Census lists Margaret (Bush) Thornton and her children Emit and Louisannah living with Washington and Susan. John I. Thornton is not listed. Margaret’s brothers William and Lewis are also listed in addition to Susan’s relative Betsey Bell (a widow), and George Washington’s brother Miles Bush (a farmer). A man named George Presser is also listed.
Margaret Bush’s second marriage was to Cashion Hawkins. I was able to find a birth record for her and Cashion Hawkins’ son George Washington Hawkins who was born on December 19, 1882 in Colchester.
Margaret’s third husband was George W. Brown. They had a daughter named Rosena. The 1891 Census for the household of Washington and Susan A., includes Margaret and her brother Lewis but also Margaret’s children from her first marriage (Valintine and Louise Thorton), and Margaret’s child from her second marriage (George Washington Hawkins), and Margaret’s child (Rosena Brown) from her third marriage. George Washington’s brother Miles is also listed. I was able to find a birth record for Rosena Brown who was born on March 22, 1889 in Colchester North. I was also able to find Rosena’s marriage record where she is listed as Rosa. She married John Fields, the son of Charles Fields and Catherine Sullivan, on March 27, 1912 in Lucas, Ohio. Rosa married a second time to a man named Granvil Singleton, the son of Buell Singleton and Mattie Henry, on May 25, 1917 in Lucas, Ohio.
On July 29, 1892, The Amherstburg Echo reported Margaret’s passing which said “In Colchester North, on Saturday, July 23rd, Margaret M., wife of Mr. George Brown, aged 31 years. Deceased was a daughter of George Washington Bush, of Colchester North and leaves four children and a husband to survive her. The funeral took place on Sunday from the residence of her father to the Union cemetery.” After Margaret’s passing, the 1901 Census records Valentine, George W. and Rosy as living with their uncle Lewis A. Bush and grandparents Susan (Bell) and George Washington Bush. By the 1911 Census, Margaret’s children George, Louisa and Rosie are still living with their uncle Lewis and grandmother Susan. The only difference is that Louisa is listed instead of Valentine and, also, George Washington Bush is not listed meaning that he had likely passed away since the last Census.
Margaret’s brother William is the next child of George Washington Bush and Susan Bell. According to his death record, William James Bush was born circa 1864 in Colchester North and passed on August 18, 1884 at the age of 20. He is also listed as a farmer.
William’s brother Lewis is the last child of George Washington and Susan. Lewis married Blanche Pinkerton, the daughter of Daniel and Catherine Pinkerton. Blanche was previously married to a man named Henry Colbreath and they had several children including Tha. H., George, Joseph, Ludania, Samuel, Beatrice and Nathaniel who are mentioned in the 1891 and 1911 Census. Blanche’s first husband Henry Colbreath is mentioned in the 1891 Census, but not in the 1911 Census so he must have passed away some time within those years. A 1915 immigration record for Blanche Colbreath states that she was accompanied by her son Nathaniel and that she was going to stay with her daughter Mrs. Blanche Warren in Detroit. Blanche Warren can be added to the list of names of Blanche’s children which was mentioned above. It was in the following year, on April 20, 1916, that Blanche married Lewis Bush in Detroit, Michigan. The 1921 Census lists Lewis and Blanche as living in Windsor, along with Blanche’s son Nathaniel Colbreath. Also listed are Blanche’s daughter Beatrice and her husband William Savage, and Daniel and Elizabeth Warren who are listed as Lewis and Blanche’s grandchildren. Above it was mentioned that Blanche’s immigration record stated that she was going to visit her daughter Blanche Warren so Daniel and Elizabeth Warren are likely Blanche’s children.
Just a few years later, Lewis Bush passed away. His death record states that he died on May 29, 1927, but I could not find an obituary. According to Milo Johnson, Lewis worked as a bricklayer.
While discussing George Washington Bush’s line, I mentioned his brother named Miles Bush so I wanted to share a few details about him. According to Milo Johnson, Miles came to Canada with his brother George and lived on the farm. Johnson adds that Miles never married but lived with Betsey Bell. Both Miles and Betsey are listed in the 1881 Census as living under the household of Washington and Susan Bush. I was also able to find a reference to him in The Evening Record which reported on January 1, 1897, “Gesto News – Miles Bush of New Canaan is going to build a new house on the old homestead, about a quarter of a mile west of Gesto. He intends to move there in the spring.” Sadly, just a few months later, on May 12, 1897, Miles passed away in Colchester North at the age of 73. His death record states that he was born circa 1824 in Kentucky. A note mentions that he passed due to old age.
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 Bush Family History Part 5 – Escape to Freedom
The fourth branch of the Bush family to be discussed comes from William Bush and his wife Maria/Mariah Artis. According to their marriage record, William Bush, the son of Charles Bush, married Maria Artis, the daughter of Jacob and Rancy Artis, on October 19, 1899, in Colchester North. At the time, William was 63 years old, and Maria was 50. They appear on the 1901 Census and, interestingly, Mariah (Maria) is listed as the head of household and William is listed as ‘husband.’ This Census also reveals that William’s date of birth was April 15, 1833, and Mariah was born on January 1, 1849. No children are listed, but it is possible that William and Mariah were previously married and had children from another marriage considering their age. Unfortunately, I was not able to find any documents to confirm either a previous marriage or the names of any children. As mentioned, none are listed as living in the same household in the 1901 Census. A possible explanation is that, if they did have children, the were older and living on separate properties.
On April 16, 1909, The Amherstburg Echo reported that Maria Bush passed away on April 12th in Colchester North. Further details were shared in her obituary which said “NEW CANAAN – Mrs. Maria Bush, an old colored resident of this section, died on Monday of this week after a week’s illness. Deceased was over 85 years of age and was born in slavery in North Carolina. Her husband died several years ago.”
I found a death record and obituary for a William Bush who lived in New Canaan, Colchester North, but could not 100% confirm that this was the correct William Bush. His death record states that he died on May 21, 1904 at the age of 80 years old from being kicked by a horse. This record also shares that he was born in Virginia, a farmer, married and Baptist. In the 1901 Census, the correct William is listed as a farmer, married and Baptist which leads me to believe that this is the correct William. Also, because William is listed in the 1901 Census and his wife’s obituary from 1909 mentions William’s passing, he had to have passed away between 1901-1909. The death record and obituary I found are from 1904 which adds further evidence. One issue I encountered is that William’s age is inconsistent in all the documents I found for him. In his death record, William is listed as 80 years (born in 1816) which is a few years off from his year of birth that is listed in the 1901 Census (1833) and his marriage record (1836). To be clear, inconsistent ages/dates are not an uncommon finding when doing genealogical research, but because the ages do not match up, we have to be open to the possibility that this is not the correct William. I cannot be sure.
William’s obituary shares more details, but not enough to confirm things. On May 27, 1904, The Amherstburg Echo shared William’s obituary which says “Colchester North – William Bush, a New Canaan Farmer, colored, died at his home Saturday as a result of a kick from a horse. Death resulted from the iron shoe penetrating his skull, causing instant loss of consciousness. He died within a few minutes. Deceased was at work ploughing in his orchard and bent down to remove an accumulation of weeds from the ploughshare when the horse, without warning, kicked. Members of the family who witnessed the accident rushed to his assistance, only to find him dead. The deceased was 40 years old. He is survived by a widow and numerous children.”
You may have noticed that his obituary says that William was 40 years old. This is an error because his death record which lists the same (rare) cause of death (being kicked by a horse) and the same date of passing (May 1904), lists him as 80 years old. One detail that puts doubt in my mind is that William’s obituary says that he was survived by ‘numerous children.’ I could not confirm that William was previously married or that he had any children, but it is certainly possible.
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.