AMHERSTBURG FREEEDOM MUSEUM
Looking to the Future – Kersey Family – Part 1
Bertha Kersey had the philosophy of “look to the future,” which speaks to the many generations that followed her and other members of the Kersey family. The Kersey family’s roots in Essex County go back to Alexander and Amanda Kersey who arrived in Colchester circa the 1850s. This month we will be looking at the future generations that followed them.
The Reverend Alexander Kersey was born in Indiana, prior to the Civil War. He married Amanda Watters who was born in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1828 and was the daughter of James and Amanda Watters. Alexander and Amanda came to Colchester in the 1850s and took up farming. They had four children: William, Mary, Rebekah and Isaiah. An article called “Notes of Interest” describing Alexander Kersey mentions that he travelled to the Maritime Provinces in “middle life, where he labored in the interest of his church. He served as itinerant minister and financial agent and Presiding Elder for over 20 years. He was a man widely known both in the United States and Canada. He also travelled through Europe in the interest of his church as a financial agent, at which time he lectured before large audiences. He was the choice of the Nova Scotia conference two or three times to represent it at the General Conference, in which capacity he served them honorable.” He spent quite a bit of time in the Maritime Provinces and it was in St. John, New Brunswick that he passed on February 15, 1908, leaving behind his family who were still in Essex County. Sadly, his wife Amanda passed away a few years later on August 18, 1912 and was described as “one of the oldest residents of the township, in her 84th year.”
As mentioned, Alexander and Amanda had four children: William, Mary, Rebekah and Isaiah. William Sr. was born in 1852 in Terre Haute, Indiana and came to Colchester with his parents at a young age. There is substantial documentation on William Sr., particularly in the Amherstburg Echo, including a write up which states “There are 21 barns and as many or more houses in the Colchester district that were constructed under the skillful workmanship of William Kersey, Sr., who was at one time one of the best-known carpenters in the district. Maybe he was so adept at this work because he learned to manipulate saw and hammer almost as soon as he could walk. Whatever the reason he learned his trade well and now as one of the oldest residents in the township of Colchester South he can look back on a successful and unblemished career.” William Sr. was also a devoted member and trustee of the Central Grove Church in Harrow and was very active in a gathering at the church called Decoration Day, which involved members of the congregation cleaning up the Central Grove cemetery. Participants were requested to bring spades, shovels, ferns and flower seeds to beautify the property. Following the clean up bee, participants enjoyed a social which included a concert. On the committee was Superintendent of the Sunday School, A. Mulder, Treasurer, Walter Banks and Assistant Superintendent, William Kersey Sr., who just a few years later became Superintendent and manager of the clean ups. The Amherstburg Echo reported on these clean up bees from 1926 to at least 1933, meaning that this was an annual event for several years. William Sr.’s son, William Jr. (discussed in Part 2) also participated on this committee and was the Secretary. There’s still more to learn about William Sr. and his family. Stay tuned for more next week.
Looking to the Future – Kersey Family – Part 2
William Sr. married three times and his first marriage was to Annie Sawyer on January 30, 1876 in Colchester. Annie was born c. 1855 in Ohio and was the daughter of Elizabeth and Thomas Sawyer, the latter being described as a pioneer of the community and a person who was the “soul of honour, and a highly respected man.” Thomas was born in Jefferson county, Ohio and fought in the Civil War. For his service he earned a substantial pension. He lived in Canada for 60 years and was also married twice. The first marriage was in Ohio and their union resulted in the birth of two daughters: Virginia Alice and Annie. Thomas’ second marriage was to Elizabeth McConnell. Thomas lived for many years at Gilgal, but later moved to Harrow.
William Sr.’s second marriage was to Armina Ann Johnson in October 1902. William, a carpenter, was 50 years old at the time and Armina, a cook, was 45. Their “quiet wedding” took place at the residence of her parents, James George Johnson and Elizabeth Chatneau, in Colchester and the couple was attended by Armina’s sister Lula and F.H.A. Davis of Amherstburg. William Sr.’s third marriage was to Mary Powell, who was born in Colchester and was the daughter of Nathaniel Powell. She was also the sister of “Doc” Powell who was well known in the area for his herbal remedies. Mary was also previously married to Henry Harris, who passed away in 1909. It was in 1919 that Mary married William Sr. See you next week for the next installment of our family history series.
Looking to the Future – Kersey Family – Part 3
William Sr. had six children: William, Robert, Ada, Hazel, Carrol and Adolphus. His son William Jr. was born in roughly 1879 and later married Bertha Johnson (born c. 1885) on March 3, 1902 in Colchester South. Bertha was the daughter of George Johnson and Francis A. Pines. Bertha and William were even able to celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary, 50 years of marriage, in 1952. William was employed by F.H. Ferriss and Sons Grocery for 32 years and was a “faithful and honest employee but has reach the age where he now feels a job of this type is more suitable for a younger man.” Both William Jr. and Bertha were active and valued members of the Central Grove AME Church, where William Jr. held several positions including trustee, steward, treasurer and supervisor of the Central Grove Cemetery.
William Jr. and Bertha had at least four children: Grace May, Harold, Ethel Luella and Adam. On June 7, 1924, in Harrow, Grace married Charles Cherry, a farmer from Colchester and the son of William and Annie Cherry. At their wedding, Grace was dressed in silk crepe with a hat and veil to match. Following the ceremony, a “dainty” lunch was served, consisting of cake and “other good things.” Grace’s brother Harold worked at Ford Motor Company, while Ethel Luella Kersey married Allen Thompson and moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Although the obituaries for William, Bertha and their children make no mention of an Adam Kersey, his birth certificate does list his parents as William Kersey and Bertha Johnson. It is certainly possible that Adam passed away at a young age, particularly because the only other information available for him was his date and location of his birth: February 13, 1906 in Colchester South. There’s still more to come next week!
Looking to the Future – Kersey Family – Part 4
In addition to William Jr., Annie Sawyer and William Sr. had other children including Robert Kersey. Robert married Minnie Clingman, who was the daughter of William Clingman and Matilda Ridout of Colchester. Robert and Minnie had several children including Mildred, Merele, Clara and Elmer. It appears that Mildred married twice because a marriage announcement in the Amherstburg Echo states that Mildred married Douglas Talbot on August 26, 1936. Douglas was the son of James Talbot of Harrow. At her wedding Mildred wore “a gown of cream with blue trimmings, and accessories to match. They have taken up residence in Colchester South.” A second document, the death announcement for Mildred’s father Robert from 1975, lists her as “Mrs. Mildred Dobson of Windsor,” meaning that she married again. Robert’s second daughter Muriel married Tom Armstrong, while Clara married Elmer Baylis of Harrow. Robert’s son Elmer married Effie Chase, the daughter of Prince Chase of Windsor, on September 20, 1941. The couple had several children: Robert and Gary of Windsor, Bryan of Amherstburg, Brett William, Floretta, who married Laurier Robinet, Sheila, who married Henry Rogers of Windsor, Bonita Denise who was born in July 1956 and Valencia.
Robert’s sister Ada was born on October 25, 1884 in Harrow and later married Fidel A. Naranjo who was born on March 23, 1895 in Cuba. The couple lived in Lorain, Ohio, where Fidel had some interesting, but dangerous careers. The 1920 Census lists him as a “Boiler Fireman” at a Steel Mill, while the 1940 Census states that he was a “fire knocker.” Have you ever heard of this occupation? It involved clearing the engine of fire and cinders over a cinder pit in the yard. This job also involved washing the hot engine in water to cool it down and reloading it with coal for the next run.
Ada’s sister Hazel was born on December 25, 1887 and later married Thomas Colbreth on August 12, 1909 in Detroit. Her husband Thomas was born c. 1888 and his mother was Blanche Pinkham (father not listed). Hazel’s brother Carrol was born on April 27, 1892 and later married Gladys Mae. The couple had three children: Kenneth, Agatha, and Schonitta Fae. Carrol passed away at the young age of 29. He worked in a blast furnace and the sand affected his lungs, causing tuberculosis. See you next week for the final installment of the Kersey family history.
Looking to the Future – Kersey Family – Part 5
At the beginning of the Kersey family history it was mentioned that Alexander and Amanda Kersey had four children: William Sr., Mary, Rebekah and Isaiah. So far, we have only discussed William Sr. and his descendants. William Sr.’s sister Mary is up next. Mary married William McCurdy and they had several children: Bertie, Corah Lee, Wiley, Clarence Evart, Luella M. and Bernice. Bertie was born on March 25, 1882, but there is no available information that goes further than that. Corah Lee was born on May 17, 1880 in Colchester. On December 31, 1919 she married Earl Ward who was a Railroad Porter and the son of James and Elizabeth Ward. On her marriage record, Corah Lee is listed as a waitress, but she has two listings on the record: one for Corah Terry and one for Corah McCurdy, meaning that she was previously married. Interesting, after the entry for Corah McCurdy it says, “In War Service Against Germany Bay County, Michigan.” Bay County, Michigan is the couple’s listed place of residence, but there is no further explanation. It seems as though Corah has some connection to the war, most likely through her husband. Corah’s brother Wiley was born on July 26, 1878 in Colchester North, while Clarence was born circa 1882. At the time of his passing, on August 26, 1904 in Saginaw, Michigan, he is listed as single. Luella, just like her sister Corah, was married twice. Her first marriage was to Daniel W. Meriday, on June 2, 1903 in Detroit, Michigan. Daniel was a foreman and the son of George Meriday and Julia Dalton. Luella’s second husband was Porter Greene who was a waiter born circa 1881: Luella was born in roughly 1885. Porter Greene was born in Kentucky and was the son of George Greene and Jane Clark. Luella and Porter married on February 19, 1919 in Detroit. Finally, Mary’s last child Bernice McCurdy was born circa 1899 and later married William A. Woodson on May 16, 1916 in Saginaw, Michigan. He was born in Connecticut around 1893 and was the son of Cyrus Woodson and Della Kennedy.
Now that we have talked about two of Alexander and Amanda Kersey’s children, Mary and William Sr., it is now time to move onto Rebekah. She married Theopolis Crosby and the couple had at least five children: Cyril, Warren, Eva Elizabeth, Mary Vera and James D. Cyril Lagrant Crosby was born in roughly 1901 and he later married Cordelia Juanita Long on October 14, 1924 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Cordelia was born circa 1906 in Ypsilanti and was the daughter of William Long and Anna Jones. Cyril was a labourer, while Cordelia is listed as a “domestic.” Rebekah’s second son, Warren E. Crosby was born in roughly 1882 and at the time of his passing on August 21, 1902, he was listed as single. Rebekah’s first daughter Eva Elizabeth was born circa 1878 in Canada and is interestingly listed as a labourer. Sadly, she passed away at the age of 20 on December 6, 1898. Rebekah’s next daughter, Mary Vera (Hodge) was born on October 15, 1886 while the 1900 Census lists a one-year old son, James, living with his family in Michigan.
Rebekah’s brother, Isaiah Kersey, is the last child of Alexander and Amanda Kersey. He was born circa 1857 and later married Amelia Umstead of Anderdon on December 4, 1888, at the residence of Mrs. Umstead. Amelia was born in Covington, Kentucky and the daughter of Miles Hearny and Pinkie Hearny. When Isaiah married Amelia he was a widower and age 31. Interestingly, Amelia was 53. Thanks for joining us for this month’s family history series. See you next month when we will discuss another amazing family.