A Full Family Tree – The Hurst Family – Part 2
As mentioned, the majority of this family history traces the direct line of Ransom and Ellen’s son Hilliard Sr., so he is discussed last to avoid confusion. Hilliard Sr. was born on March 29, 1850 in Colchester South and was quite the businessman. He purchased the Wilkes Baptist Church located in the Matthews Settlement and moved it to land he purchased on Lot 10 in Hillsville, next to the railway tracks on the 3rd Concession. This building was referred to by locals as Hilliard’s Hall and was used as a space for meetings and social events, but it may also have been used as a restaurant and ice cream shop. The Amherstburg Echo mentions that Hilliard was to “open an ice cream parlor at Hillsville on June 12th,  and will continue every Thursday and Saturday during the warm weather, selling ice cream and all kinds of soft drinks.” The Amherstburg Echo also reported that Hilliard was opening a restaurant and it is most likely that Hilliard’s Hall was the location of the restaurant and ice cream shop. After reading this you might be asking yourself, where was 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 (Baptist Church) and Central Grove on the corner of the 4th Concession and Walker Road. Hilliard was very active in the community and was referred to as the “Mayor of Hillsville.”
In addition to opening a few businesses, Hilliard was also a farmer who married Manda/Amanda Minerva Chavis who was born circa 1852 and the daughter of Wiley and Clarissa Ann (Evans) Chavis, who were married on July 5, 1841 in Clark County, Illinois. According to Milo Johnson’s book, New Canaan: Freedom Land, “the fact that their [Clarissa and Wylie’s] marriage is registered indicates they were ‘Free People’ living in Illinois or neighboring Indiana.” Wiley and Clarissa arrived in Essex County some time between 1849 and 1852, most likely landing at Amherstburg and settling in New Canaan, Colchester North in Essex County. The 1861 Personal Census for Colchester lists Manda and her siblings which included: William, James, John, Nancy, Thomas, Eveline, Sarah, Louisa, Mary, and Theresa. Clarissa Chavis later married Henry Artis in June of 1874, so it is most likely that Wiley passed away shortly before that. It was over a decade later, in 1887, that Clarrisa passed away.
On the marriage record for Manda and Hilliard, the former is listed as Manda Runells, not Chavis. The record states that she was a widow explaining the different last name, but “Runells” is a misspelling of “Reynolds” from a previous marriage to William Henry Reynolds. Manda and her first husband William had two children: Emaline who was born on May 3, 1872 and Alfred who was born on June 27, 1873. Both children were born before Manda’s second marriage to Hilliard on March 24, 1875, meaning that William passed away between the birth of his second child Alfred, in 1873, and Manda’s next marriage to Hilliard in 1875. During their marriage, Manda and Hilliard Sr. had at least seven children: Rhoda, Almeda, Ellen, Hilliard Jr., Blanche, Wylie and Everett Walter Farrington Hurst.
Rhoda was born in Harrow on October 31, 1876. According to her August 1, 1895 marriage record, she married a labourer named Henry Smith, who was born in Stratford, Ontario. Henry was the son of Kirk Smith and Larene Hirrer, although Henry’s mother’s name might be Sarene or something similar, because the beginning of her name is cut off in the marriage record and it is difficult to determine her full name. At the time, Rhoda performed housework as her occupation and she was 20, while Henry was 32. Both lived and were married in Romeo, Michigan. According to the 1900 census, the couple moved to Armada, Michigan and that is where Rhoda remained until her passing on August 6, 1947. Over the years, the census records also reveal that Henry worked as a “teamster” in 1900, while the 1910 census states that Henry was a “labourer” who does “odd jobs,” while Rhoda worked as a “Laundress” out of her house. Henry and Rhoda had a least one child, a son, named Clarence Henry who was born on December 4, 1895 in Romeo, Michigan. On Clarence’s WWI draft registration card it states that he was 30, a “Common Labourer” and single. According to Clarence’s draft registration card during WWII, he was age 46, living in Armada, MI, unemployed, 6 foot 2 inches tall, 145 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. If photos don’t exist for a person, records such as these are sometimes the next best thing in helping us to image what a person would look like. On the gravestone for Clarence H. Smith it says CO.C. 372 INF (Infantry) U.S. Army. The gravestone also states that he passed away in 1942, meaning that he was likely killed in action during the war, but it must be added that Clarence is not listed on the National Archives WWII Army Casualties list for Macomb, Michigan where he is from. It remains unclear what happened to him.
Rhoda’s sister Almeda is the next person to be discussed. She was born circa 1877 in Colchester South to Hilliard and Manda Hurst. On April 18, 1898, she married Albert Lewis who was born in Colchester South and the son of Matthew Lewis and Eliza Simpson. According to their marriage record, Almeda worked as a “domestic” while Albert was a “cook.” The couple had one daughter named Eliza who was born on July 17, 1898. She married a carpenter named William Scott, who was the son of Henry Scott and Mary Hill. The couple was married on September 19, 1917.
There is little information available on Almeda’s sister Ellen, but she does show up on the 1891 Census for Colchester South and is 12 years old, meaning that she was born circa 1879. There is more information about the rest of her siblings: Hilliard Jr., Blanche, Wylie and Everett who we will discuss next. Hilliard Jr. was married at least two times. His first marriage was to Rose Thermond on October 13, 1906 in Windsor. Hilliard was 24 and worked as a “Porter” at the time of their marriage, while Rose was 19 and the daughter of James Thermond and S. Scott. Neither had been married before. According to Hilliard’s 1912-1913 Immigration record, he was widowed, meaning that his first wife Rose passed away some time before 1912-1913. His immigration record also states that he entered Detroit with the destination of Cheboygan. Hilliard’s second marriage was to Goldie Burch on November 12, 1913. According to their marriage record, Hilliard Jr., a labourer, was 30 and living in Detroit, while Goldie was 25 and living in Flint. Goldie was the daughter of Richard and Maggie Burch. Their marriage record also states that there was “No Ceremony.”
According to the 1891 Census for Colchester South, Hilliard Jr.’s sister Blanche was born in 1883 because she is listed as 8 years old at the time of the census. Her brother Everett was born, according to his death certificate, on October 30, 1886 in Harrow. He later married Fannie L. Laster, who was born in Georgia, the daughter of L.L. Laster (mother’s name not given) and was a cook. The couple married on January 8, 1910 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and at the time, Everett worked as a “Porter.” There’s still more information about the Hurst Family to come next week.