Saturday, August 6, 2016

Life Sketch: João Ignacio de Souza (1842-1922)

Birth and Childhood

João Ignacio de Souza (or Sousa) is my great-great-great-grandfather. He was born about 1842 in Matriz, Ribeira Grande, São Miguel, Azores, Portugal, the son of José de Sousa and Maria de Jacinta. His childhood on Azores remains a mystery. Through DNA testing, we can confirm that he had a sister named Helena Rosa Souza, who was born in 1850 and later married Manuel Ignacio Ferreira. His remaining siblings and what came of his parents is unknown at this time.

Marriage and Children

João Ignacio de Souza married Maria Filomena Ferreira, the daughter of Victorino Ferreira and Ana de Estrela, at about 1870 in Ribeira Grande, Azores Portugal. While living in Ribeira Grande, they welcomed their first child, José Ignacio Souza, was born 30 April 1871. They may have experienced a miscarriage or stillborn before they welcomed their second child, Antonio Ignacio Souza in 1874. His third child, João Ignacio Souza was born on 28 May 1875, followed by Manuel Ignacio Souza on 30 January 1877, Jacintho Ignacio Souza on 18 April 1880, Maria Conceiaoi Sousa on 10 April 1882, and Augusto Sousa in 1882, who died in infancy.


At the age of 41, João, along with his wife and children, set sail on the SS Thomas Bell. The British steamship left from Ponta Delgada, São Miguel, Azores, on 30 August 1883. The journey lasted about 63 days. Finally, on 2 November 1883, they arrived in Honolulu.

A detailed description of their journey and arrival can be read at my post titled Azores to Hawaii, aboard the SS Bell Rock, 1 November 1883.

Life in Hawaii

After arriving at Honolulu, João and his family were taken to Waialua, where he worked as a contract laborer for the sugar plantation. While living in Waialua, they had the following children: Eugenio Ignacio Souza on 25 October 1884, Helen Sousa in 1886, Maria de Jesus Sousa on 25 December 1887, and John de Souza on May 1892. 

The only known picture of João Ignacio Souza and his wife Maria Filomena Ferreira is this one with their daughters, taken around 1900.

João Ignacio Souza, wife Maria Filomena Ferreira, and daughters Maria Conceiaoi Souza and Maria de Jesus Souza

Sons of João Ignacio Souza and Maria Filomena Ferreira, taken approx. 1890

In the 1900 U. S. Census, we can find João, his wife Maria Filomena, living in Waialua with and 7 of their 11 children: José (age 29), João (age 25), Jacintho (age 20), Maria Conceiaoi (age 18), Eugenio (age 16), Maria de Jesus (age 13), and John (age 8).

1900 U. S. Census, Family of João Ignacio Souza and Maria Filomena Ferreira

Neighbors were Frank Gonsalves and family, Manuel Robello and son, and Manuel Rego and family.

The census also gives us a background of whether or not João could read or write, and what languages he spoke. As it turns out, not only could João read, write, and speak English (and of course his native language of Portuguese), but he could also speak Hawaiian. His children were also able to read and write and speak three languages. His wife Maria Filomena was not able to read, write, or speak English.

João is not found in the 1910 U.S. Census. His wife died in 1904 and while most of his children are still living in Waialua, he is not listed in their households. However, he shows up again in the 1920 U. S. Census, residing in Waialua in the household of his eldest son, José. 


João died on 29 April 1922 at the age of 80. His death certificate states that his cause of death was due to "shock-hemorrhage from self inflicted (knife) wound of abdomen". However, family story further explains the cause of this self-inflicted wound.

Of his death, his great-granddaughter, Juliette Otholt Crosson, writes:

"João died 30 April 1922 after cutting open his abdomen with a knife, in the washhouse at his home. He apparently had a cancer so painful he could no longer stand it, and the story is he decided to cut the pain out of his body. This story implies he did not specifically intend to commit suicide, but was out of his mind with pain."

To expand on the above story, another great-granddaughter, Toni Souza Nakamura, writes:

"I grew up hearing this story... it was told not in a sad way, but, almost with reverence and awe that he was brave enough to do so... perhaps this is how the family coped."


João is buried in Puuiki Cemetery in Waialua, in a family plot with his wife, Maria Filomena, and son Eugene, who died in 1907. Maria Filomena had originally been buried in 1904 at the old Catholic Mission graveyard and was removed to Puuiki on 5 May 1922, after nearly 18 years in the old cemetery. Burials were no longer allowed at the old cemetery, so her children moved her so that she and João could be together in Puuiki.

Photo via contributor David Dunnavant

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Auntie Alice's Potato-Macaroni Salad

Auntie Alice is my grandmother's sister, Alice (Otholt) Horii. Among my grandmother Juliette's recipes, she had this one of her sister's potato-macaroni salad. The directions are very straightforward and it is very simple to make (and very delicious!).

If you are from Hawaii, this is known simply as "Potato-Mac Salad". If you are from the mainland, this type of macaroni salad is known as "Hawaiian Potato-Macaroni Salad".

Auntie Alice's Potato-Macaroni Salad

4 russet potatoes
2 Tbsp. chopped onion
2 Tbsp. chopped celery
2 hard-boiled eggs
1 box macaroni
Best Foods mayonnaise (*see Note below)
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop potatoes and boil until tender. Let cool in fridge overnight. Boil macaroni until tender. Drain. Chop up hard-boiled eggs. Combine potatoes, macaroni, onion, celery, and eggs in large bowl. Add mayonnaise until everything is well coated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled.

Note: The recipe calls for Best Foods mayonnaise. If you live on the mainland, particularly on the east coast, this is also known as Hellman's mayonnaise. I cannot stress enough to NOT to use any other brand of mayonnaise.

Auntie Alice (Otholt) Horii, visit to Hilo, Hawaii in 1980.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Alfred Jackson ELLIS (1818-1893)

Birth and Early Life

Alfred Jackson Ellis was born on 16 December 1818 in Edgecombe County, North Carolina to Elisha C. Ellis Jr. and Temperance Batting (Batts). His father, Elisha, was a farmer in an area of Edgecombe County that later became Wilson County.

Not much is known of his early life. We do know that his father died in 1843, but by that time Alfred was 24 years old.

Marriage and Family

First Marriage

In 1846, at the age of 28, Alfred married Abselliah Minshew, age 22, the daughter of James Minshew and Martha Edwards. They had a daughter, Drucilla F. Ellis, on 18 November 1847. Abselliah died on 3 May 1849, cause unknown, though it may have been childbirth.

Second Marriage

On 28 May 1850, Alfred married his second wife, Martha Ann Edwards, also known as "Patsy". She was the daughter of Cullen Edwards and Sarah P. Speight.

In the 1850 U. S. Census, Alfred is living in rural Edgecombe County with his wife Martha and his daughter Drucilla, now 3 years old.

In addition to Drucilla, Alfred and Martha had 9 children: Almirah (born 1851), Viola (born 1853), Falcanor (born 1856), Harley E. (born 1858), Augusta (born 1860), Fannie (born 1862), Ira James (born 1865), Martha Jackson (born 1869), and Elisha Cullen (born 1872).

In the 1860 U. S. Census, Alfred and his family were living in the Saratoga area of Wilson County, North Carolina. Wilson County was formed in 1855 from Edgecombe County (among other counties), so it is very likely that Alfred was still living on the same farm. Two men by the names of Jackson Stallings and Caswell Pitman were also living with Alfred and his family. They were both wheel wrights by trade. They may have been apprentices under Alfred, because in the 1870 U. S. Census, Alfred is listed as a wheel wright (as opposed to a farmer in previous censuses).

On 15 October 1872, Alfred's wife Martha died from complications due to the birth of their son, Elisha Cullen Ellis. The infant survived 23 days and died on 7 November 1872.

Alfred appears again in the 1880 U. S. Census, with four of his remaining children.

Third Marriage

On 17 October 1880, Alfred married for the third and final time a Polly Ann Ward. While she was only 34 (he was 61) at the time of the marriage, she and Alfred had no children together.

Military Service

Alfred enlisted on 24 July 1863 and served as a Confederate Soldier during the Civil War in Captain Croom's Company, North Carolina Local Defense, Kinston Guards, and Kinston Provost Guards. He rose to the rank of a Sergeant and was reported present through 31 August 1864.


Alfred was a "Master" of the Joseph Warren Lodge, #92, of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, located in Stantonsburg. This is the oldest lodge in Wilson County.

Death and Burial

Alfred Jackson Ellis died on 16 March 1893 in Saratoga, Wilson County, North Carolina. He is buried in what is now known as the Rodgers-Mercer Cemetery just outside of Saratoga, on land that may once have belonged to his father, Elisha Ellis.

Rodgers-Mercer Cemetery, Saratoga, NC

Alfred Jackson Ellis (1818-1893)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

William Henry WHEELER Sr. (1828-1885)

Birth and Early Life

William Henry Wheeler Sr. was born on 20 November 1828 in Wake County, North Carolina. He is believed to have been an orphan, later taken in by Adam Wilcox (1814-1883) of Greene County. Some accounts say that this was not an actual adoption but an apprenticeship. Regardless of what it was, it appears that Henry Wheeler and Adam Wilcox had a father-son relationship. 

There are many questions pertaining to Henry Wheeler's early life. When was he orphaned? When did he make his way from Wake County to Greene County? Was Adam Wilcox a family friend or a relative? Did William Henry Wheeler have any siblings? Is Wheeler the surname of his biological father or did he obtain it elsewhere? These questions may never be answered.

In the 1850 U. S. Census, Henry Wheeler is 23 years old and living in house #394 in Greene County, North Carolina in the household of Arthur D. Speight (age 26). His occupation is "cooper". He is living not very far from the home of his future wife, Melvina (she was listed as being 16 years old and living in house #390). Around this time, Melvina was working as the superintendent of weaving at the Faircloth Plantation near Walstonburg.

Marriage and Family

Henry Wheeler married Melvina Caraway in 1853 in Greene County, North Carolina. They had 7 children:

1. Hulda Virginia Wheeler

She was born in May 1854 in Speights Bridge, Greene County, North Carolina. She married Ashley Edwin Whitley in 1873 and had 8 children. She died on 17 November 1913 in Walstonburg, Greene County, North Carolina and is buried in the Ellis Burial Ground. 

2. Nancy Elizabeth Wheeler

She was born on 1 October 1856 in Speights Bridge, Greene County, North Carolina. She married John Henry Whitley and had 4 children. She died on 27 May 1922 in Walstonburg, Greene County, North Carolina and is buried in the Bailey Cemetery.

3. Franklin Webster Wheeler

He was born on 1 December 1859 in Speights Bridge, Greene County, North Carolina. He married Martha Sawrey in 1880 and had 8 children. He died on 20 February 1929 in Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina.

4. William Henry Wheeler Jr.

He was born on 12 December 1861 in Speights Bridge, Greene County, North Carolina. He married Matilda Lizer Gay on 29 December 1880 in Greene County, North Carolina and had 12 children. He died on 17 November 1930 in Walstonburg, Greene County, North Carolina of a cerebral hemorrhage, contributory to arteriosclerosis. He is buried in Walstonburg Cemetery.

5. John D. Wheeler

He was born in 1866 in Speights Bridge, Greene County, North Carolina and died some time before 1880 of tuberculosis.

6. Charles Wheeler

He was born in 1870 in Speights Bridge, Greene County, North Carolina and died some time before 1880 of tuberculosis. 

7. Martha Ella Wheeler

She was born in February 1875 in Speights Bridge, Greene County, North Carolina. She married John Washington Garris on 18 October 1896 in Speights Bridge, Greene County, North Carolina. She died in 1905 in Speights Bridge, Greene County, North Carolina.

Military Service

William Henry Wheeler Sr. enlisted in the Confederate Army on 12 February 1862 for a twelve month service. He served in Co. K, 41st Reg. North Carolina T. (3rd Reg. North Carolina Calvary). He was present and accounted for through October 1864. 

William Henry Wheeler, Sr. of Greene County, NC.


In 1877, William Henry Wheeler Sr. purchased land adjoining Nancy Deering and Bailey corner at the mill run from Seth Walston for $600. 

In 1878, William Henry Wheeler and his wife, Melvina Wheeler, sold to John J. Harrison for $825.00 land near Howell Swamp Church, adjoining the hald of S. P. Cox, Adam Wilcox, and the tract of land on which Harrison lived, containing 40 acres.


William Henry Wheeler Sr. died about 1885 in Walstonburg, Greene County, North Carolina, of pneumonia. He is buried in Barfield Cemetery in Appie, Greene County, North Carolina. His grave is unmarked, but is said to be under the big tree on the left as you enter the cemetery.


He was a member of Howell Swamp Free Will Baptist Church.

Additional Sources: (1) Evelyn Hendricks, great-granddaughter, (2) Bertha Walston Shirley, great-granddaughter.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Azores to Hawaii, aboard the SS Bell Rock, 1 November 1883

On 1 November 1883, my ancestor João Ignacio de Souza, his wife Maria Filomena, and their five children arrived at Honolulu port after a long journey from the town of Matriz on the island of São Miguel, Azores, Portugal. They were brought over to work on the sugar plantations.

The Voyage Aboard the SS Bell Rock

The following is the report of the voyage of the SS Bell Rock, the ship that brought João and his family to Hawaii, written by the ship's captain, James Dumbreck:
"The British steamship Bell Rock,  with a troup of Portuguese immigrants was reported as off the coast at five o'clock Wednesday afternoon. She arrived at the port at 7 p.m. of the same evening to anchor near the bell buoy, and was shortly afterward brought into port. She sailed off Ponta Delgada, St Michael's, Azores, after taking her living freight. She sailed again on the 30th of August, 1883, at 4 p.m. with 1,411 passengers, among whom were 530 children of twelve years and under. She crossed the equator on Longitude 29 degrees West on September 8th.

SS City of Paris 1866.jpg
Photo of the British steamship City of Paris, much like the SS Bell Rock.

There were strong winds from the Platt River to the Straits of Magellan. The Straits was entered on the 24th of September and cleared it on the 26th. There were strong head winds from the Straits to Lota, Chile. On the 2nd of October, she took in coal and proceeded her voyage on the 6th. She crossed the equator again at 127 degrees West on the 22nd of October. Had moderate North-East and South-East trade winds. Sighted Honolulu at 7 p.m., October 31st, and moved into port on November 2, 1883.
There were five births and eight deaths. Seven of the deaths were children, and one was an old man. There were a few cases of measles, but no deaths from the measles.  
On Saturday, the whole of the immigrants by the Steamship, Bell Rock were safely and rapidly landed. The work was begun about 7:30 a.m. and finished by 11 a.m. This is reported to be the shortest time (in proportion to numbers) in which the immigrants have been landed in Kakaako. The contractor did his work well and all concerned appeared to be highly satisfied with his arrangements.
The scene at the depot during the day was bright and lively. The immigrants looked clean and healthy, and were in the best of spirits, delighted, as was natural, to get ashore. Without seeing the little crowd it is not easy to realize from reading the figures we have already published how large is the swarm of young children added to this population by this arrival. As we stated in a former occasion, the Depot was in first rate condition to receive them. There is ample room for all and the change from the necessarily close quarters on shipboard was evidently appreciated by all of them, and by non more so than by the little people.
Senho Canavarro, Mr. A. Hoffnung, Colonel Macfarlane and Messrs. Hassinger and Smithies were busily engaged on board and at the Depot most of the day. His excellency the Minister of the Interior also paid a visit to the place and many other officials and visitors went down Saturday and Sunday. Yesterday afternoon, by His Majesty's command, the Royal Hawaiian Band played a selection of music to cheer the new arrivals.
At the close of the Bell Rock's voyage, the immigrants gave evidence of their satisfaction with the manner in which their comfort had been looked after by all the officers who came more particularly in contact with them, by presenting to Captain Dumbreck, the medical officer, Dr. Fitzsimon, Mr. Aushback the purser, Mr. P. Brown, the immigrant steward, and Mr. R. Podmore, the storekeeper, testimonials as to the manner in which they had been treated on board."

 The following is a translation of one of these documents:
"We the undersigned passengers, emigrants just arrived in Honolulu in the steamer Bell Rock from St. Michael's, have the pleasure to declare that the food we have received during the voyage was of a good quality and in the necessary quantity, and that we feel very thankful for the good treatment and kind attention we have received from the master of the said steamer, Captain Dumbreck, from Dr. Fitzsimon, from Purser Aushback, and from other officers, and we wish this statement may be known public in our island of St Michael's."

A Visit by H. R. H. Princess Liliuokalani of the Kingdom of Hawaii

H.R.H. Princess Liliuokalani, circa 1887

In 1883, King David Kalakaua was ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Upon the arrival of the Portuguese immigrants, Kalakaua's sister, Princess Liliuokalani was sent to greet them. My ancestor, João, his wife Maria Filomena, and their 6 oldest children Jose, Antonio, João, Manuel, Jacintho, and Maria Conceiaoi, were in the presence of this beloved princess and future queen of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Her visit is described in the following:

"H. R. H. Princess Liliuokalani visited the immigrants yesterday, as also the Premier and Minister of the Interior, Mr Hoffnung, Captain Dumbreck, and quite a crowd of others, both natives and foreigners. There was also another visitor, less distinguished, but none the less interesting for that - a boy who was born during the day. Mother and child doing well. Mr. Smithies and Mr. Marcos were there most of the day, doing all they could to attend to the wants of the people."

Wedding Bells

With 1405 immigrants on board the ship, it would be no surprise that during the 76 days at sea, relationships would form and couples would fall in love. Upon leaving the ship, twelve of these couples were ready to enter into Holy Matrimony:

"Last Monday afternoon twelve couples of the newly arrived immigrants of the steamer Bell Rock presented themselves to the Secretary of the Interior Department for the purpose of obtaining the necessary documents prior to their being united in Holy Matrimony. They were all dressed for the occasion, and presented an exciting and interesting scene. Colonel J. H. Boyd furnished the ladies and gentlemen with all they required in the usual felicitous manner. The final ceremonies were concluded at the Roman Catholic Church. "

The Value of the Portuguese

At the conclusion, the SS Bell Rock's Captain, James Dumbreck, expresses his opinion of the Portuguese immigrants and their value to the Kingdom of Hawaii:

"Of all the immigrants introduced into this Kingdom, combining the question of labor and re-population, I consider the Portuguese by far the preferable, and I would urge upon the Legislative Assembly to make a liberal appropriation towards their introduction. There may not be many requests at present from the sugar planters for them, as they cannot be procured and fed as cheaply as the Chinese; also, as a rule, having wives and large families. The Government should not hesitate to invest large sums of money in bringing them here, as I consider that the prosperity and even the independence of the Hawaiian Kingdom depends upon the introduction and permanent settlement of industrious and prolific people.
Many of the Portuguese, at the expiration of their contracts, are desirous of obtaining a small piece of land, on which to make a home, an it would be well for His Majesty's Government to devise ways and means for that purpose. In that way they become permanent settlers, and will contribute largely to the agricultural development and revenue of the country. Many applications have already been made by those whose contracts will shortly expire, o Mr. Canavarro, Commissioner for Portugal, inquiring what prospects there were of their obtaining lands for their permanent settlements. 
It is by such opportunities offered to numbers of small farmers, that the country will be greatly benefited. At the same time, settlements in the neighborhood of sugar estates would be of great benefit, and furnished a constant supply of labor either by the day or on shares."

Source: Published in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald on Sunday, October 23, 1983.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Maria CALDEIRA (1882-1924)

Maria Caldeira

Birth and Early Childhood in Madeira

Maria CALDEIRA was born in August of 1882 in Funchal on the island of Madeira, Portugal. She was the eldest child of Augusto CALDEIRA and Maria Felisberta de Jesus PESTANA. Nothing is known of her childhood while living in Madeira.


Maria arrived in Hawaii with her parents and two brothers, Jose and Frank, on 13 April 1888. They sailed on the Thomas Bell. The voyage from Madeira to Hawaii lasted 156 days. 

Honolulu Harbor, 1888. The view that 5-year-old Maria must have seen upon arrival.

Later Childhood in Hawaii

I have found no record that tells us where the Caldeira family went after they arrived. We know that the Portuguese were brought over to work on the sugar plantations. The Caldeira family may have been shipped to a plantation on the island of Maui, perhaps in the Wailuku-Paia vicinity. Family tradition says that Maria's future husband sent for her from Paia. What we do know is that her father Augusto was dead by 1900 and her mother Maria Felisberta was widowed and living in Waialua on the island of O'ahu with five of her six children.

Marriage and Family

Maria CALDEIRA married Manuel Ignacio SOUZA Sr. in 1900 in Waialua, Hawaii. She was 17 or 18 at the time of her marriage. Being a devout Catholic, Maria had her first child, Lucia, in 1901, followed by Manuel Jr. in 1902, John in 1904, Joseph in 1906, Mary in 1908, Antone in 1910, Alfred in 1912, Frank in 1915, and Helen in 1917.

Manuel treated Maria poorly and often beat her. He was also known to be fooling around with other women throughout their marriage. 

Maria CALDEIRA (1882-1924)

Huntington's Disease

Around the year 1908 at the age of 25, Maria began showing signs of Huntington's disease, believed to have been inherited from her father. Manuel continued to beat Maria, even after she was already showing signs of the disease (shaking and progressive madness).

By 1909, her eldest daughter, Lucy, was taken out of the second grade and given the responsibility of running the home and taking care of the younger children, as Maria was already physically and mentally incapable of doing so. 

In 1917, Manuel and Maria's youngest son Frank died at the age of two of diarrhea. Manuel blamed his oldest daughter, Lucy, for Frank's death. Lucy would put flowers on Frank's grave at the old Catholic Mission Cemetery near Thompson's Corner in Waialua every year for over 25 years.

By 1920, Maria's daughter Lucy was married and a widow by the name of Emily Bento was living with the family and taking care of the housework and the children for Maria.

Because Huntington's disease causes the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain and leads to mental and behavioral problems, Maria was "put away" in the Oahu Insane Asylum sometime after 1920. Her daughter Lucy visited her at the asylum in Palama on All Soul's Day (November 2) every year. Lucy, now with a family of her own, would bring her eldest daughter Alice with her to visit "vovo" (Portuguese for grandmother). They would bring pie, as Maria loved pie. Lucy said that her mother would wolf the pie down, using only her hands, and ate until it was all gone.

Oahu Insane Asylum, 1888. Photo from the Hawaii State Archives.

The living conditions at the asylum in Palama in the quarters where Maria lived were described as being absolutely plain, no beds, bare floors, and a single pillow. The living conditions and the pathetic state of Maria in her final years must have been difficult for Lucy to witness.


On 7 January 1924, at the young age of 41, Maria died at the asylum. Her body was brought home to Waialua and laid to rest at Puuiki Cemetery.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Michael CROSSON & Rebecca Honour WILSON

Michael Crosson

Birth and Immigration

Michael Crosson was born in County Tipperary, Ireland in December of 1822.

Family sources say that he came to this country at age 17, or about 1842. However, he is listed as a passenger on the ship Jacob A. Westervelt, departing from Liverpool, England (his native country being Ireland) and arriving in New York City on October 9, 1850. This would put him at arriving in the country at age 27.

His life in Ireland is a mystery. The location of County Tipperary is given by Alice Benard Crosson (1905-1998), his granddaughter, who remembers him visiting her occasionally.

Discovering Michael's Parents

A discovery in 2015 led us to the identity of his parents, who are now known to be Owen and Julia Crosson. (This link is confirmed by documentation and genetic testing.) Michael Crosson also has 3 known sisters: Catherine, Anna, and Rose. They immigrated to America with their parents and settled in Philadelphia. The 1910 US Census tells us that his sister Rose arrived in America in 1840. The accuracy of this date is uncertain, but it makes sense that Michael Crosson came over later to join his family and begin a new life in New Jersey, within close proximity (about 50 miles) to his parents.


Following Michael's arrival, he married Rebecca Honour Wilson on January 27, 1853 in New Egypt, Ocean County, New Jersey.


After arriving in America, he was employed as a farm laborer.


Michael died on January 5, 1903 in New Egypt, Ocean County, New Jersey at the age of 80 (although his headstone says age 78). He was laid to rest in Church of the Assumption Cemetery in New Egypt.

Rebecca Honour Wilson

Birth and Parents

Rebecca was born around 1832 in New Jersey (possibly New Egypt). She may have been the daughter (or an adopted daughter?) of Alfred Wilson and Maria (Appleby?).

Indian Girl?

Some family sources say that she was an indentured servant. Those same sources also say that she was a full-blooded Indian/Native America. There are no documents to prove that she was, or that she wasn't. Here are the things we do know:

(1) In the early 1990s, George Leon Crosson, Jr., great-grandson of Rebecca, had taken a DNA test, showing that he did indeed have Native American ancestry, about 15%. Does this confirm that Rebecca was a Native American?

(2) An AncestryDNA test taken in 2013 by great-great-grandson Terence William Crosson did not reveal any Native American ancestry. What this proves is that if Rebecca was a Native American, the DNA did not make it down this many generations.

(3) Both the 1870 and 1880 U.S. Census' say that Rebecca is white. This could mean that she is either not Native American, only part Native American, or full-blooded Native American but could pass as white.

The question still remains on her true identity.

Mormon Connection

Family legend has it that she was connected to the family of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet. While there is no record of a baptism or other connection to Joseph Smith or to the Mormon Church, her father, Alfred Wilson, is another story. I will go into detail about this connection when I cover Alfred's story.


Rebecca died on September 6, 1899 in Cream Ridge, Monmouth County, New Jersey at the age of 68. She is buried with her husband in Church of the Assumption Cemetery in New Egypt.

Headstone of Michael Crosson and wife Rebecca Honour Wilson
Church of the Assumption Cemetery, New Egypt, NJ
Source: contributor Kat

The Family of Michael and Rebecca Crosson

Through census records and Rebecca's family Bible, we are able to conclude that she and Michael had 10 children:

1. John Alfred Crosson

He was born on February 26, 1854 in New Egypt, Ocean County, New Jersey. He died on February 27, 1878 in Monmouth County, New Jersey, at the age of 24. His cause of death is unknown. He never married. He may have been named for his maternal grandfather, Alfred Wilson. Whether or not the name John is a family name is unknown. He is buried in Church of the Assumption Cemetery (Roman Catholic) in New Egypt, NJ.

Headstone of John Alfred Crosson
Church of the Assumption Cemetery, New Egypt, NJ
Source: contributor Kat

2. Owen Crosson

He was born on January 12, 1856 in Cream Ridge, Monmouth County, New Jersey and died on June 5, 1875 in Monmouth County, New Jersey. His cause of death is also unknown. He never married. He may have been named for his paternal grandfather (thus further proving the correct parent link of Michael). He is buried in Church of the Assumption Cemetery (Roman Catholic) in New Egypt, NJ. 

Headstone of Owen Crosson
Church of the Assumption Cemetery, New Egypt, NJ
Source: contributor Kat

3. Michael Crosson

He was born on February 25, 1858 in Cream Ridge, Monmouth County, New Jersey. He married Jennie Agnes Welsh on December 10, 1888 in Asbury Park, Monmouth County, New Jersey, and had 7 children. He died on December 10, 1941 in Bradley Beach, Monmouth County, New Jersey at the age of 83 and is buried in Saint Catherine's Cemetery in Sea Girt, Monmouth County, New Jersey.

4. Catherine Ann Crosson

She was born on April 8, 1860 in Cream Ridge, Monmouth County, New Jersey. She was also known as "Kate". She married (1) Charles Edward Applegate on December 20, 1883 in New Egypt, Ocean County, New Jersey and; (2) Harry M. Irons on October 16, 1901 in Cream Ridge, Monmouth, New Jersey. She had one child, a son, with Mr. Applegate. She died on February 28, 1919 in New Egypt, Ocean County, New Jersey, at the age of 58 and is buried in Jacobstown Baptist Church Cemetery in Jacobstown, Burlington County, New Jersey.

5. George Wilson Crosson

He was born on April 2, 1862 in Plumstead, Ocean County, New Jersey and died on September 13, 1864 in Freehold, Monmouth County, New Jersey, at the age of 2. Cause of death and his burial location is unknown.

6. Mary Anna Crosson

She was born on November 2, 1865 in Upper Freehold, Monmouth County, New Jersey. She was also known as "Mame". She married (1) Lewis Reed in 1884 and (2) Harry Luke. With Mr. Reed, she had 8 children. She died on August 27, 1930 in New Jersey at the age of 58.

7. Rebecca Wilson Crosson

She was born on June 11, 1867 in Upper Freehold, Monmouth County, New Jersey. She was also known as "Bess". She married Joseph Lanning Warwick in 1895 and had 2 children. She died on February 28, 1931 in Hamilton, Mercer County, New Jersey at the age of 63.

8. George W. Crosson

He was born on October 5, 1869 in Upper Freehold, Monmouth County, New Jersey. He married Emma Vandusen Hopkins and had 1 daughter. He died on February 11, 1955 in Elberon, Monmouth County, New Jersey at age 85.

9. Elizabeth Mary Crosson

She was born on February 6, 1871 in Hornerstown, Monmouth County, New Jersey. She was also known as "Lizzie". She married (1) Thomas Lawson Earl in 1892; (2) Thomas Ramsey; and (3) Ernest Judd Eilenberg. She had one child with Mr. Earl. She died on September 15, 1962 in Vineland, Cumberland County, New Jersey, at age 91.

10. Joseph Crosson

He was born in May 28, 1875 in Mercer County, New Jersey. He married Helen T. Applegate some time before 1910. They had no children. He died on December 16, 1956, probably somewhere in Mercer County, New Jersey, at the age of 81.


Michael and Rebecca were both buried in the Roman Catholic cemetery at Church of the Assumption. I feel it is safe to assume that they were of the Roman Catholic faith.