May 19, 2014
Here’s one of those family finds that brings a painful truth of history to life… Not everyone made it across the pond.
Rosetta Suffling was the younger sister of my 4th Great Grandmother and the second known child of William and Elizabeth (Pegg) Suffling. She was born 8 Apr 1805 in Lessingham, Norfolk, England. She married Samuel Gibbs at St. Mary the Virgin Church, Hemsby Parish, Norfolk, England on 25 December 1829. The couple appears to have settled in Hemsby where Samuel worked as farm labor. They had nine children: Samuel Jr, William Suffling, Isaac, Elizabeth, Edmund, Mary Ann, Alfred, James, and Matthew.
On 1 May 1849 the family started their journey to the United States boarding the Bark Gov. Hinckley or George Hinckley under the command of Captain William Loring at London. Unfortunately around the middle of May (165 years ago this month) there was an outbreak of cholera aboard ship and by the time the ship arrived in New York on the 12 Jun 1849 10 individuals had died including Rosetta and daughter Mary Ann (both died 21 May), and her sons Edmund and Matthew (both died 23 May).
Samuel Gibbs and their remaining children made it to New York and Samuel married Lovina Huff to help raise them. Samuel and Lovina ended up in Barry County, Michigan in the vicinity of their Johnson cousins, my 3rd Great Uncles Matthew (who married his cousin, Elizabeth Gibbs) and John.
For more information on the 19th century sailing lines between America and the world see: Cutler Carl C. Queens of the Western Ocean: The Story of America’s Mail and Passenger Sailing Lines. Annapolis: United States Naval Institute, 1961.
March 8, 2014
From my paternal Johnsons to my maternal Johnson line…
I’ve spent quite a bit of time on my Michigan Johnsons in the past so now I’m working my way back out of the country. Sarah Suffling was the wife of #5 Richard Johnson and the mother of my 3rd Great Grandfather, William Suffling Johnson. She was the eldest daughter and the second of at least seven children born to William and Elizabeth (Pegg) Suffling. She was born in March of 1801 and christened on March 22nd in Lessingham, Norfolk, England. I have no concrete information about her life up until her marriage but from October of 1827 she built a life with Richard Johnson first in Horsey-Next-the-Sea and then in America.
Sarah was the mother of at least four children starting with my William in 1830. As I mentioned in the post on Richard, he supported the family as a husbandman, laborer and fisherman. William and his next brother, Matthew, immigrated to the United States around 1848 and the rest of the family, as well as a number of Sarah’s siblings, made the journey across the Atlantic. By the time of the 1855 New York Census Richard and Sarah had settled in Carlton, in Orleans County where the family farmed.
After Richard died in 1874 Sarah could be found visiting the households of her children. During the 1880 Federal Census she was living in Kent County, Michigan as part of William’s household. She died in May of 1889—making this year the 125th Anniversary of her death—in Gaines Township, Orleans County. She is buried beside her husband in Otter Creek Cemetery.
This photo was passed to me by a generous cousin and fellow Johnson researcher.
February 15, 2014
The Johnson’s—I never thought I’d make so much progress but time, careful research, and connecting with fellow researchers and distant cousins have given me great insights into this family of English immigrants.
Richard Johnson is my 4th Great Grandfather. He was born 1 September in 1805 in Horsey, Norfolk, England, the son of Richard and Elizabeth (Richmond) Johnson, and baptized in 8 September. He married my 4th Great Grandmother Sarah Suffling (or Surfling) on 23 August 1827 in Lessingham, Norfolk. They had the first of four children in May of 1830—my 3rd Great Grandfather William Suffling Johnson. Then followed Matthew Suffling in 1833, Mary Elizabeth in 1836, and John Suffling in 1838.
At the time of the 1841 Census the couple was settled in Horsey Next the Sea (northwest of Yarmouth) where Richard was listed as a labourer. At the time of William White’s Hstory, Gazetteer, and Directory of Norfolk in 1845 Richard was listed as a local fish dealer. By 1848 William and Matthew had booked passage to the United States. And in 1851 the remaining Johnsons were one of several families in Johnson’s Corner, Horsey, Norfolk. There Richard was listed as a fisherman and his nephew, Richard, and his family were enumerated in the household.
The family left England in late 1851 and by the time of the 1855 New York State Census they had settled into farming in Carlton, Orleans County, New York where Robert and Sarah lived out the reminder of their lives. That year William and Matthew moved to Michigan, William settling first in Solon, Kent County and Matthew moving to Barry County. John followed them later settling in Barry County near Matthew. Mary married Robert Woolsten and remained near her parents in Orleans County, New York. Richard died 24 Jan 1874 and was laid to rest in Otter Creek Cemetery, Gaines Twp, New York.
Much of this information was found with the aid of my distant cousins Dawn and Marcia—one a descendant of Richard’s son Matthew and the other from his daughter Mary Elizabeth.
May 8, 2012
I am thrilled to say someone in my family had enough money to make the pages of several county histories—including pictures—giving me a bunch of good (if occasionally confusing) leads to track the family back and I am extremely thankful considering we’re talking about a man with the highly original name of William Johnson. He was my 3rd Great Grandfather and today is his 182 birthday.
William Johnson is a great example of the inconsistencies in family stories as their shared over the years. From Chapman’s History of Kent County (1881) I learned that he was born May 8, 1930 in Norfolk, England and he came to America with his brother Matthew when he was eighteen(p. 685). From A. W. Bowen’s 1900 City of Grand Rapids and Kent County I learned he was sixteen when he crossed the Atlantic alone and settled in the Empire State until he came to Kent County in 1854 (p. 793-794). And according to Grand Rapids and Kent County, Michigan (1918) William lived in Orleans County, New York until 1852 when he came to Solon Township (p. 261). All a little contradictory… but certainly worth looking into.
Here’s what I think I know… William was born on May 8, 1830 in Horsey-Next-the-Sea, Norfolk, England to Richard and Sarah (Suffling) Johnson. He did cross from England and neither he nor his brother Matthew was listed in their father’s household as of the 1851 Census for Horsey, Norfolk, England. I haven’t been able to isolate either on a passenger list but by 1855 the family was reunited and enumerated in the stats census for Orleans County, New York, though the household had added their cousin Elizabeth (Gibbs), who married Matthew in 1854. In October of 1855 William married Mary Gordon of Kent County, Michigan and the pair started their family on a farm in Solon Township. In the 18 years they lived there they had 10 children (5 died young) the youngest surviving child was my 2nd Great Grandfather William Amos Johnson.
William was a successful farmer and served his community as one of the organizers of Solon Township and Township Treasurer. The family removed to 160 acres in Section 30 of Cannon Township in 1873 and there William continued to be involved with his community serving again as Township Treasurer and giving generously to support and advance the congregation of West Cannon Baptist Church. William died December 24, 1908 and was laid to rest at Cannon Cemetery.
Everything in the histories gave me new source material to look into and a rough time frame to work with—and I needed it. As it happens not only is William Johnson one of the most common names in my family but there was a second highly successful William Johnson family in the Rockford area during the same period as my own.
So, don’t forget to check out local histories. You never know what you might find. Seriously, check out the picture of William and Mary from a 1907 county atlas (p. 129). It was a fabulous surprise when I found it.