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Lewis Thorpe

Born in North Haven, Connecticut, Lewis Thorpe was a 7th generation descendant of its founders, and the 2nd son of Ohio pioneers, Joel Thorpe and Sarah Dayton. He worked on the Mississippi and eventually settled in Perry County, Missouri.

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BULLETBorn in New Haven, Connecticut BULLETYoung Man on the Mississippi BULLETEarly History of Perry County, Missouri BULLETLewis Thorpe Marries Ann Preston BULLETLewis Thorpe Marries Elvritta Phillips BULLETChildren of Lewis Thorpe & Ann Preston BULLETChildren of Lewis Thorpe & Elverettta Phillips BULLETLinks BULLETContact us

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Born in New Haven, Connecticut

Lewis Thorpe was born in New Haven, Connecticut on 19 March 1798. His parents, Joel Thorpe and Sarah Dayton, were both the 6th generation of their families to live there. Their ancestors had come from England in the 1600's. Lewis had an older sister, Julia age 5, and brother, Bezaleel age 3.

In 1799, his parents packed the one-year-old Lewis into an ox cart, along with his sister, brother and whatever of their belongings they could carry. They began the long trip to the newly opened Western Reserve, an area of Ohio bordered by Lake Erie to the north, Pennsylvania to the east, 41 degrees north latitude to the south and extending 120 miles to the west. As compensation to its citizens who had lost property to the British during the Revolutionary War, Connecticut had reserved part of this area known as the "Firelands". The Thorpe family was one of the first to settle in Ashtabula County.

Lewis and his family faced many hardships during the first few years. In 1801, they gave up their life of isolation and moved to the village of Cleveland. Lewis' father, Joel was a house builder. In addition to building the house their lived in, he also build some of the earliest homes and mills in the area. He also built a 250-ton ship, named the "Sally", after Lewis' mother.

While in the Cleveland area, the family grew to include a brother, Warren, b. 1802, another brother Dayton, b. 1805, a sister Diantha, b. 1807, and baby brother Ferris, b. 1808. Shortly after the birth of Ferris, their father Joel got a contract to build houses in Buffalo. Again he packed up the family, but this time they probably traveled by boat, possibly the "Sally" to make their way from Cleveland to Buffalo.

Joel Thorpe joined the US Army when the War of 1812 began. Sarah remained in Buffalo with the children until 1813, when the British burned it to the ground. Sarah and the children barely escaped with their lives, but somehow made their way back to Newburg, Ohio. There they waited for the war to end and their father to return home. But on 25 July 1814, Joel was killed along with over 1600 other men, at the Battle of Lundy's Lane. Lewis was just 16 years old.

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Young Man on the Mississippi

It's not known for sure what happened next. One report says Lewis' younger siblings were taken care of by neighbors. Lewis at age 16 was probably considered more of an adult than a child. It was at this time that he may have begun working on the ships that ran on Lake Erie. Eventually, he began working on produce boats that traveled the length of the Mississippi.

It must have been on one of these trips that he stopped near what would become Perry County, Missouri. The area had previously been under the control of the French government and then the Spanish government. Both empires were interested in boosting the Catholic populations in the territory of Upper Louisiana, and so had beengiving land grants to Catholic families willing to move there and work the land.

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Early History of Perry County, Missouri

Perry County was created from the former Ste. Genevieve District in November 1820 and the County seat was located at Perryville in 1821. The French had begun settling here in 1735, and the Spanish took over the area in 1770. In 1799, the Spanish began awarding land grants to Americans willing to settle the land. The hope was that a large group of Americans in the territory would prevent a British invasion. Parcels as large as 800 acres were handed out virtually for free. Applicants had to pay the cost of surveying the land, about $41.

Spain was also looking to increase the Catholic population in the area. Some of the earliest beneficiaries of these land grants were a group of Catholics from Maryland who were escaping religious persecution in the East. Many of these families had already settled in Kentucky, but the offer of free land was something they couldn't refuse. The men went ahead, cleared the land and built their new homes, usually a cabin. Then they returned to bring their families here.

After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the territory became part of the United States. Other waves of immigrants came into the county, mainly from Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Typically, they would cluster together in groups with similar religious or ethinic backgrounds. In addition to the Catholics, there were Baptists, Methodists, and Lutherans. The federal government began selling the land to settlers in 1820. At about $1.25 an acre, many people were willing to give up their comfortable lives in the East or South and move to the new territory.

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Lewis Thorpe Marries Ann Preston

According to Goodspeed's History of Southeast Missouri, 1888, Lewis Thorpe came to this area in 1818. About 1819 he married Ann Preston, daughter of Jonathan and Mary Preston. The Prestons had been in the area since 1803. In 1806, Jonathan Preston received a Spanish Land Grant of 978 acres. Ann Preston had been born in 1797 in Virginia, so like Lewis, had become a pioneer and traveled across the country at a very early age.

By 1830, Lewis Thorpe and Ann Preston had four children, three sons and a daughter. Their daughter was named Julia, after Lewis' older sister. The names of the sons are not known as none of the male children survived until 1850.

In 1837, Lewis Thorpe purchased about 180 acres of land in Bois Brule Bottom from the federal government. He paid $1.25 per acre. His occupation was farmer.

By 1840, their family included three more children, two girls and a boy. The name of only one is known. Diantha Thorpe was born in 1834, and was named for Lewis's other sister. It's quite possible that some the sons were called Joel, Dayton, Warren, Bezaleel or Ferris.

15 October 1841, Clement Knott brought a suit in Perry County Chancery Court against Lewis & Ann Preston Thorpe, Sarah Preston Massey (Ann's sister & wife of Joseph Mossey), James Preston (Ann's brother), Amzi Chandler, and Samuel & Serena Bartlett. The dispute was over 160 acres of land that had been willed to the heirs of Jonathan Preston, but were entailed to Clement Knott at the time. The court ruled in favor of the Plaintiff. This record is significant because it is the last reference mentioning Ann Preston Thorpe. She died between 1841 and 1846. Her death is not mentioned in the Diary of A. L. Hager (which he began keeping in 1844), so it's possible she died before that. It is not known what caused the death of Ann Preston or how many children were still living at the time of her death. By 1850, only Lewis' two daughters, Julia & Diantha were still living. It is possible that whatever caused the death of their mother may have taken the lives of some of the children as well.

Strangely enough, our connection with Lewis Thorpe is through his 2nd wife, so we are not directly related to Ann Preston. But, through another line, we are directly descended from Ann's sister, Sarah Preston, wife of Joseph Massey. Makes for a rather twisted family tree.

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Lewis Thorpe Marries Elvritta Phillips

By 1847, Lewis was a widower with minor children. On 23 September, 1847, A. L. Hager wrote in his diary "23 Sep 1847, Lewis Tharp was married to the widowe Joseph Saddler". Elvritta Phillips, widow of Joseph Sadler, had two children of her own, 8-year-old Elizabeth, and 6-year-old James. Eventually, their family grew to include six more children. June 28, 1848, a daughter was born, and on November 8, 1849, a son. True to form, the names given to the children were those of Lewis's parents, Sarah and Joel. Later came Martha, Caroline, Oliver, and Henry Lewis. Lewis and Elvritta and their children were members of the Bois Brule Baptist Church.

Lewis Thorpe occasionally kept in touch with his brothers by mail, and there were infrequent visits with other family members. In a letter he wrote to his brother, Warren, in 1858, he spoke of life on his farm. There were apples, peaches, pears and cherries. His 30 or 40 acres each of oats, wheat and corn kept him busy. He did most of the work himself, but did on occasion hired young men to help him. It had been awhile apparently since his last letter, because he listed the names and birthdates of all his children from his second marriage ten years earlier.

In the same letter, Lewis Thorpe spoke of a severe illness he suffered the previous year which almost killed him and left him very weak, making work difficult. He died a year later, May 1, 1859, at the age of 60. It is not known where he was buried, but it's likely he was buried either in the Bois Brule Baptist cemetery or in the Preston cemetery located on the Preston farm. He left his widow Elvritta with nine children to raise. It's not too surprising, then, that she married again within the year.

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Children of Lewis Thorpe & Ann Preston

  1. Julia Ann Thorpe, b. 1828, Missouri; d. September 24, 1853, Perry County, Missouri; married William McCauley, October 17, 1852, Perryville, Perry County, Missouri. He was the son of William McCauley, Sr. and Ann White.

    Lewis and Ann's daughter, Julia, was married to William McCauley in a Catholic ceremony at St. Mary's Church in Perryville. She died in childbirth less than a year later along with the infant.

  2. Diantha Thorpe, b. 1834, Missouri; d. Abt. 1861, Missouri; married George W. Lewis, 21 Jun 1857.

    Diantha Thorpe married George Lewis about 1857. They had two children: Julia, named for her mother's sister, and Andrew. Diantha died shortly after the birth of Andrew in 1861. George married almost immediately to Rebecca Phillips, daughter of Redmon Phillips and Elizabeth Bishop. Rebecca Phillips was also a niece of Elvritta Phillips, Diantha's stepmother.

  3. Four male children and one other female child were enumerated in the 1830 and 1840 censuses. They were all missing from the 1850 census, and are presumed to have been deceased by that time. Their mother also died sometime between 1841 and 1846.

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Children of Lewis Thorpe & Elvritta Phillips

i. Sarah Thorpe, b. June 28, 1848, Perry County, Missouri; married William E. Rhodes, son of Joseph and Bernice Rhodes, on 09 Aug 1866.

Sarah Thorpe and her husband William Rhodes were the parents of eight sons: Jesse, Jasper, Otho, Arthur, Guy, Joel, Lewis, and Howard. Son Jasper eventually moved to Laramie, Wyoming, where he died in 1959.

ii. Joel Calvin Thorpe, b. November 8, 1949, Perry County, Missouri; d. December 15, 1905, Perry County, Missouri; married Margaret Catherine Manning, daughter of John Basil Manning and Minerva Anne Horrell, November 02, 1871, Perryville, Perry County, Missouri.

Joel and Margaret were the parents of six children: L. B. (Lewis Bernard), James Oliver, Mary Ellen, Ora Mary, Minnie (Minerva?) and Martha Eveline.

iii. Martha Thorpe, b. May 6, 1851, Perry County, Missouri; married James B. Davis.

iv. Caroline Thorpe, b. November 3, 1854, Perry County, Missouri; married James Bradham, Abt. 1873.

A daughter named Blanche is the only child found for this couple.

v. Oliver Thorpe, b. February 29, 1856, Perry County, Missouri; d. 18 Dec 1899; will probated December 28, 1899, Perry County, Missouri; married Louisa Fassold 24 Sep 1894 in Perry County, Missouri.

Oliver Thorp, Perryville, Missouri

Oliver Thorp and Louise Fassold had two children, Linetha Christine and Dayton Albert Thorp. The children were quite young when Oliver died. Louise Fassold remarried to Ferdinand Bergman and had four more children: Elbert, Alpha, Stella, and Flora. Oliver Thorp is buried at the Home Cemetery in Perryville, Missouri.

Photo courtesy of Gwendolyn Pigg

vi. Henry Lewis Thorpe, b. September 21, 1857, Perry County, Missouri; married Columbia Ann Pearson, Abt. 1886.

Four children have been found for this family: Beulah, Mina, Abbey, and Howard Thorpe.

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Thorpe Family Links

BULLETLewis Thorpe Guardianship, 1818   BULLETChancery Court, 1841   BULLETJoel & Sarah Dayton Thorpe   BULLETJoel Calvin Thorpe & Margaret Catherine Manning   BULLETHistory of the Thorpe Family in America   BULLETThorpe Surname

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Rankin Family History Project Sonoma County, California

Design & content by Shirley Ann Rankin

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THANKS to Patricia Bishop Obrist, Annie Lloyd and Gwendolyn Pigg for contributing information on the PRESTON, THORPE and PHILLIPS families.

Graphics by Shawna

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Updated March 16, 2002
© Copyright RFHP 2002. All images and content on this website may not be reproduced without permission. Names, dates and other facts are in the public domain and you are welcome to them.