Friday, August 6, 2021


OUR great-great-grandmother, Hester (Jane?) Halsted/Halstead, was born in Olcott Beach, Niagara County, New York, on 4 February 1824. She was the daughter of Benjamin and Anna (Wisner) Halstead and the last of 11 children, two of whom are unidentified and probably died at or near birth. I use the Halstead spelling. The children were:

            Sarah Ann  b. 1803

            Charles  b. 1805, d. 1894

            David Wisner  b. 1808, d. 1860

            Ransom  b. 28 Nov 1809, d. 30 Nov 1883

            James  b. 25 Jan 1812, d. 10 Jun 1869

            Morris  b. 15 Aug 1815, d. 08 May 1895

            Mary A.  b. 24 May 1820, d. Aug 1910

            Joseph  b. 1823, d. 07 Sep 1873

            Hester  b. 04 Feb 1824, d. 31 Jan 1914


Both Hester’s paternal and maternal grandfathers (Benjamin Halstead and David Wisner) served in the Revolutionary War, and it appears her maternal great-grandfather (Thomas Wisner) may have. I researched this family several years ago, but when DNA began to give me more family members to research, the Revolutionary War connections appeared. Since these would be the first on my paternal side, I was excited. These will give me twelve patriots for NS DAR.

Hester Halstead Fowler

One Halstead Family: A Root of Our Family Tree by John W. Harrold (1975) does an excellent job with at least the familiar part of the family. Also, it gives a comprehensive history of the areas of New York where the Halstead family lived during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. There is a timeline of the movements of Benjamin and Anna including their life before and after marriage in Romulus Township, in an area which eventually became Cayuga County, New York. They married there in 1802. The county boundaries changed again, and by 1810 Romulus was in Seneca County where Benjamin and Anna completed a transaction for selling land. Eventually, life found them in Olcott (that area having gone through several name changes also), Niagara County, New York. During that time, Benjamin served in the War of 1812 on two separate occasions.

Not one to stay long in any one place, in 1830 Benjamin moved his family to Michigan and eventually settled in Superior Township, Washtenaw County. He died in Michigan on March 11, 1834 and is buried in what may have been known as the Cross Cemetery, next to St. John’s Cemetery and Highland Cemetery in Ypsilanti. His widow, Anna, returned to the Niagara Co. area with several of her unmarried children, having family that had remained in that area. She died there in 1876, at the age of 91 and was survived by five children, including my great-great-grandmother, Hester.

Doing further research on this family, I began running into numerous Ancestry trees with a Hester (Ann?) Halstead, born in New York about the same time as OUR Hester, but eventually settling in Hillsdale County, Michigan, with a husband and children. Hillsdale is about 60 miles from Superior Township, in Washtenaw County. This Hester was given the same parents, Benjamin and Anna Wisner Halstead. I had done enough research and had records to make me confident I had the correct information on OUR Hester. Contacting people online responsible for those trees proved mostly fruitless. But one man in Indiana did answer. He said he had a box of papers and pictures from his grandmother and he would go through it to see what he could find to help clear up this confusion.


In the meantime, I continued digging for additional information. FAN (Family/Associates/Neighbors) work, in particular for all Hester’s brothers and sisters was done. One of the problems was that on Hester’s death certificate, issued in Washtenaw County (a clue that she is OURS) lists her father’s surname as “Bailey” with the mother’s name unknown. An additional clue was that the informant was a Chas. H. (Charles Henry) McDougall. This is Hester’s daughter Delphine’s husband’s brother (!!) Unfortunately, the family sent as informant a man (!!) and one who was related by marriage only (!!), AND who obviously didn’t know the answers to the questions!! Since most of the family still lived in that area, why Charles? Hester had three daughters who probably would have known that information. As it turns out, Bailey is the married name of one of Hester’s sisters, Mary A. Another clue – that she is OURS!! 

There had to be a second Hester and many less-than-thorough researchers had mixed them up. And it really wasn’t that difficult to figure out! The man in Indiana eventually sent a picture of some family members labeled by his grandmother. The picture had a man listed on the back, as “my great-uncle Smith Halstead.” That made him a brother to this man’s grandmothers’ grandmother, Hester Halstead. This is the family in Hillsdale County. So, I went back to Ancestry to research a Smith Halstead. Even though there was more than one, there weren’t many. It turned out that he was part of a Halstead family from Yates County, New York. Smith Halstead had been married three times – thank goodness! Because his third marriage record was on Ancestry and listed his parents’ names as Jacob Halstead and Betsy Reynolds. A couple of trees did have Hester born in Yates County, so one of my searches was to find out if there were any Halstead families in Yates County about the time of OUR Hester’s birth in 1824. The 1830 census had two: Qaieb and John Halstead. If you view the image of the census, it clearly says Jacob not Qaieb (those transcribers are inventive). Jacob had two daughters under the age of 10 – one could easily be this other Hester. I gave my fellow researcher this information. He agreed with my assessment – and that OURS was the daughter of Benjamin and Anna Wisner Halstead.

OUR Hester was named after her father’s sister and Hester’s sister, Mary A. Halstead Bailey, named a daughter, Hester. OUR Hester (married to George W. Fowler in 1839) had twins: Sarah Ann and Mary Ann (born 12 August 1842). OUR great-grandmother, Delphine, was born 4 May 1851 in Washtenaw County. The names of the twins certainly fit. There are no Jacobs or Johns in OUR Halstead family, at least in the generations I have followed.

George W. Fowler


 And a recent find -  Hester’s husband, George, died in 1893 and her sister, Mary A.’s husband, Almon Bailey died in 1891. They are found living together on the 1905 New York State Census in Newfane, Niagara County, New York. I would guess that Hester was visiting Mary A. for an extended stay and, thankfully, they are recorded together during the census takers visit. They are listed as Mary A. Bailey, 84, and Hester Fowler, 81.  Mary A. died in 1910 and Hester in 1914.

                                                PLEASE!! Watch those trees!


HALSTEAD/FOWLER Family (from New York to Michigan):

Richard Halstead (1701-1785) and Hester Oldfield (1707-1784)

   Benjamin Halstead (1740-1801) and Ruth Howell  (1748-1800)

      Benjamin Halstead (1775-1834) and Anna Wisner (1784-1876)

         George W. Fowler (1817-1893) and Hester J. Halstead (1824-1914)

            Children of George and Hester (Halstead) Fowler:

            Albert D. Herrick (1834-1925) and Mary Ann Fowler (1842-1920)

            Andrew John Huston (1835-1902) and Sarah Ann Fowler (1842-1926)

            John A. McDougall (1843-1920) and Delphine E. Fowler (1851-1941)



NOTE:  The picture of "Hester Halstead Fowler" is labeled "Mrs. Hester Halstead" and came from the Ypsilanti Historical Society's collection. I am making an assumption that this is OUR Hester, since I am not sure who else would be Mrs. Hester Halstead. The picture of George W. Fowler also came from their collection.

Saturday, January 9, 2021