Sunday, April 17, 2016


George and Susan (Sherwood) Ashdown
In going through old family photos from the Sherwood family, I came across this photo of a man and woman. On the back of the photo it says that this is George and Susan Ashdown and that she is Richard, James and John's sister.   I knew that Richard, John and James were the Sherwood brothers who had come to the United States in the mid-1850's along with their father, Samuel, from Kent County, England.  I had known of the brothers for many years and have a few letters about them in the stacks.  This was the first indication that there had also been a sister. She has been a bit of a mystery. 
I recently traveled to Salt Lake City on the sad occasion of Homer Sherwood's death.  Homer was a beloved first cousin to my parents.  Attending the service marking the celebration of his life also provided an opportunity to connect again with many cousins from several generations.  I got to catch up on some of their lives and also to introduce some of them to our interesting shared family history.  Another blessing was also that I got to meet and visit with another Vandervort distant cousin with whom I am friends with through the internet. This very hospitable family also works at the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake.

I only had a little time to spend at the Library but was able to document a little more information about the distant great aunt who is pictured above.  I knew that Richard, James and John had come to the US from Kent County, England in the mid-1800's.  I also knew that Richard and John had fought for the Union during the US Civil War. But I had never heard anything of the sister until this photo surfaced.  Being at the FH Library, I was able to access international records which I can't do from home since I don't want to pay the extra fees.
 Richard William Sherwood 1829-1889 - 1 of the 3 brothers of Susanna Sherwood Ashdown.

As I have worked my way through the various census and family records, it appears that what happened is that John, the oldest brother, was the first of the three brothers to emigrate to the US.  He must have emigrated in late 1846 or very early 1847 as on September 19th of that year he married Ann Williams in Palmyra, New York.  Their first child, a girl, was named Harriett.     

Richard Sherwood, John's brother, married Mary Ann Gulvin on January 3, 1851 at the East Sutton church in England, ceremony performed by Rev. George William Watson.  They left for America four months later and it appears that the younger brother James moved with them.  Samuel Sherwood shows up in the 1851 as a widower.
  William Richard Sherwood 1859-1929 - son of Richard William Sherwood, nephew of Susan  Sherwood Ashdown and brother of Susannah Sherwood Pratt.
Susanna Sherwood Ashdown had a niece, Susannah Sherwood, born in America, who it appears was named for the Susanna who stayed behind.  The younger Susannah, who went by Susie, married Arthur Pratt of Johnstown Center, Wisconsin.  Due to her chronic illness (consumption?) she only lived to her early 30's and had no children.  The link above will take you to a letter that she wrote to her step mother (and aunt) talking about her life.  Her husband Arthur was reported to be a loving and thoughtful man who later married again and had several children from that marriage. Susannah had one sister older than herself, Esther, named for her maternal grandmother.   Esther and Susannah were born in Marion Township, NY which was just a few miles from Palmyra.  When the Richard Sherwood Family joined the John Sherwood family in America, they stayed for 4-5 years in New York.  During the spring of 1856 the Sherwood Families moved to Lemonweir, Wisconsin and after the Civil War they moved to the farm just outside of Kendall where members of the family continued to own the land for about 150 years.

I found that the 1841 English census is the last time the family is seen together.  Samuel, the father and the two older children, Susannah and John, are shown living in Cucumber Hale cottage.  Harriett and the two younger children, Richard and James, are next door at what looks like Ransom Park cottage.  I know that when the census takers came around they listed people wherever they happened to be at the time.  So perhaps Harriet worked next door for the homeowner and the younger children were with her. 
1841 census with all known family members.
Harriett doesn't seem to appear in the 1851 census and Samuel is listed as a "widower" so this seems to be why she did not emigrate with the other family members.  Having to take care of estate details could also be the reason that Samuel did not leave at the same time as his sons.  Susanna doesn't show up in the 1851 census although George appears to be listed as married but no wife is named at that residence. We do not know if Susanna Sherwood Ashdown was married before she married George Ashdown and had grown children that had homes of their own at later census takings, or whether they simply had no children.  So far I haven't found her in the 1851 or 1861 English census and by the time she shows up in the 1871 and 1881 censuses, married to George, a lot of time has passed since she is last found in the 1841 census.   
1871 census with George and Susan Ashdown 
1881 census with George and Susan Ashdown
 All these old pioneering families are hearty souls who faced a myriad of trials in search of their goals.  I imagine that originally Harriet planned to travel with them.  Or maybe the loss of their anchoring wife and mother was the catalyst for the men seek better fortunes here in America.  The Sherwood sister Susanna stayed in England, but it's nice to be able to reach across the miles and the and the one and a half centuries and acknowledge her place in the family!