Bridging Generations

Ancestors and descendents of Joyce Verla Pratt and Mark Richard Berrett

Archive for the category “alpha madalene roberts”

Weekly Family History Calendar


This week in our family history we can celebrate two birthdays.

20 February 1767 – Robert Comfort:  my fourth great-grandfather through my mother’s line was born in Ulster, New York.  That’s 219 years ago!  He was 8 years old when the Revolutionary War started.

The pedigree:
Joyce Pratt Berrett -> Madalene Roberts Pratt -> Ezra Nahum Roberts ->
Annie Elizabeth Slingerland Roberts -> Nancy Comfort Slingerland -> Robert Comfort

 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

20 February 1834 – F. Edward Toone:  my second great grandfather through my dad’s line was born in 1834 in South Molton, Devenshire, England.  He was born 183 years ago.


F. Edward Toone – undated photo

The pedigree:
Mark Richard Berrett -> Thomas Francis Berrett ->
Annie Elizabeth Toone  -> F. Edward Toone 


“Dies After Mishap”


Neighborhood where Ezra lived at the time of his death
(photo 2016)

Mishap seems like a rather casual word to describe the accident that took Ezra Roberts’ life, but the headline of The Flint Journal described it that way.


One man was injured fatally and five other person were hurt, two seriously, in traffic accidents here Sunday [August 17, 1930].

Ezra Roberts, 68 years old, 2014 Ferris St, who suffered a fractured skull, body bruises, and shock when he was knocked down at Saginaw and Fifteenth Sts. by a automobile driven by Oscar Balser, 612, East St., died early this afternoon [August 20, 1930] in Hurley Hospital.

Mrs. J.C. Dowding, 118 W. Newell St. told Traffic Investigators Herbert W. Straley and William N. Monroe that she was driving south on Saginaw St. and saw Roberts step off the curb and start crossing the road without looking in her direction.  She slowed down to let him pass, Balser’s car passing her and hitting him, she said.

Balser declared he was driving about 10 mile an hour and than when he saw Mrs. Dowding slow down, he thought she intended to park and started to go by her.  He noticed Roberts, but saw him pause, so he continued to go ahead, the pedestrian walking into the path of his car he said.

Grandpa Ezra is buried in the Imlay Cemetery, Imlay City, Lapeer County, Michigan.


And as a side note, I couldn’t resist doing a little research on Oscar Balser. At the time of this accident he was a 21 year old single man who had immigrated from Canada in 1927.  He married in 1932 and had two children.  He seems to have lived his whole adult life in Flint, Michigan dying there in 1991 at the age of 83.
It’s interesting to think about the strangers who have an impact on our lives.

1405 Lippincott Blvd.


The house where Stella and Ezra and their family lived at the time of her death.
(photo 2016)

I’ve written about Stella’s untimely death from pneumonia in this post.  Following is her obituary published at the time of her death in 1926.

ROBERTS – Mrs. Estella Jane Roberts, 54 years old, died Saturday at 1405 Lippincott Blvd. from pneumonia after a week’s illness.  She was born in Elmira, N.Y. Oct. 29, 1871, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Widger.  She had lived in Flint since March, 1901.  On June 2, 1905 she was married to Ezra Roberts in Tuscola  County.  She was a member of the Latter Day Saints Church  She leaves her husband and her mother, and four sons, Alvin, Ray, Glen, and Don, all of Flint, and six daughters, Mrs. David Lutze, Madeline, Nina, Erdine, Dorothy and Irene, all of Flint.

Stella left a large family, and I can’t imagine the loss they felt at her passing.


Estella Jane Widger, my great-grandmother


Caton, Steuben, New York (credit


Born on 29 October 1874, Estella is my great-grandmother, the mother of my Gram, was the second of three children born to Alpheus and Rosanna Buker Widger.  Her older brother, John Alvin was born on 13 August 1872, and her younger sister, Evaleen, joined the family on 5 May 1880.

From the website, Town of Cato, New York ( we learn that Caton is a small town in southern New York state right on the border with Pennsylvania. The first permanent settlers arrived in the area in 1819, and in 1840 the town was officially named Caton and included 219 farms.  From 1861-1865, 175 men from this little community fought in the Civil War, more than any other small town in New York State.  In 1870, just a few years before Estella was born, Caton had three resident physicians.  Perhaps one of those attended her birth!

I know very little about Estella or her family, but I have discovered a few pictures of her.  Perhaps you’ll see a family resemblance.


Estella as a young woman before she married

Version 2

about 1892-1894 — 18-20 years old

Fortunately I have a postcard Stella wrote to her sister, Eva, in 1919 after Madalene returned from a visit there.



Postmarked July 21, 1919-5 p.m.-Flint, Michigan

Dear Sister,  Madalene got home all right she had such a good time.  We have got to move the place (?) is sold and I am glad of it.  Sam and Elsie Hansen just called on their way home.  They both look good.  Thy are going to California to stay a year.  I was sick when Madalene came home but am all right.  Glenn & Ray are still in the country.  Alvin stays with Eva makes my family seem small.  Write soon.  Stella 115 River St

It’s fun to see the kind of correspondence that family members shared in the absence of a home telephone, and it’s amazing to me to have her handwriting, 98 years later.

. . . in a moment of despondency

Alexander Roberts and unknown (1)

Alexander Roberts with unknown woman – perhaps a daughter or daughter-in-law

My 2nd great grandfather, Alexander Roberts, died in 1916 at the age of 91.  His death certificate states that he committed suicide “in a moment of despondency.”

Roberts, Alexander Death Cert (1)

The following is the account of Alex Roberts’ death as reported in the Friday, October 27, 1916, edition of The Advertiser (local newspaper of Caro, Michigan):

Alexander Roberts, Civil War veteran of Wilmot Suicides by shooting
     “Despondency because of failing sight and a haunting fear that he might lose his mind, are given as probable causes for the suicide by shooting of Alexander Roberts at Wilmot Tuesday.

     “Had he lived until next January he would have reached the age of 92, and in spite of his advanced years, he enjoyed fairly good health.  He lived in the family of his son , John, where he had a large front room, when he received every attention from all.  Mrs. Roberts had left him to get supper after being assured by the old man that he desired nothing further.  In a few minutes a shot was heard, and going to his room he was found dead with a bullet in his brain and the revolver still grasped in the right hand.
     “For many years he had kept the weapon in a stand drawer, near his bed, but had never shown any disposition to kill himself.
     “He was married twice:  his first wife bore 13 children, six of whom survive.  There are 36 living grandchildren and 34 great grandchildren.
     “He was a veteran of the Civil War and 12 of his comrades of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) acted as pall bearers at the funeral at the funeral held at the Baptist Church, Kingston, Friday.  Mrs. Daniel Cummins of Caro is a granddaughter and attended the funeral.”

It seems a rather sad ending . . .

Alex and Annie

I like the ring of those names together, and I guess they did too.

Alexander Roberts and Anne E. Slingerland were married on 17 March 1852 in West Oxford, Brock District, Ontario, Canada.  Theirs are the last names on this list of marriages performed by Isaac Elliot, Pastor of the 2nd Regular Baptist Church.

Marriage Roberts, Alexander & Slingerland, Annie (1)

Alexander Roberts and Anne E. Slingerland Marriage Record

You can see in the 4th column that this couple was married by the authority of “Banns,” instead of a license.  The banns of marriage, are the public announcement in a Christian parish church or in the town council of an impending marriage between the two persons indicated. Traditionally banns were read from the pulpit on the three Sundays prior to the wedding.

The purpose of banns was to enable anyone to raise any religious or civil objection to the marriage, so as to prevent marriages that are invalid. Objections vary between legal jurisdictions, but could include a pre-existing marriage that has been neither dissolved nor annulled, a vow of celibacy, lack of consent, or the couple’s being related within the prohibited degrees of kinship.

Settling in Michigan

Ezra Nahum Roberts
(father of Alpha Madalene Roberts Pratt)
23 September 1862 – 20 August 1930

Ezra Nahum Roberts

Born in Kingston, Tuscola, Michigan in 1862, in the middle of the Civil War, my conclusion is that Ezra’s childhood may have been difficult. Like many men of that time, Ezra’s father Alexander, was a farmer who could neither read nor write (as per 1880 census) and his mother Annie kept house.  Theirs was a family of 13 children, and Ezra was the 6th child, 3rd son, and the first to be born in Michigan.

The Roberts family moved to Kingston, Michigan from Tillsonburg, Ontario a distance of about 170 miles, sometime between December 1860 when their son John was born in Canada, and September 1862 when Ezra was born.


Kingston map (1)

After 1830, the population of Michigan grew rapidly.  Some settlers came to buy inexpensive farm land and others came to join relatives already there.  Some came for jobs in the mining and lumbering industries, and some were drawn simply by a sense of adventure.  I don’t know what prompted Alexander to move his family, but Tuscola County was very newly settled and perhaps offered promise of a better life. Kingston was established in 1857 when the first house was built, the first town meeting was held in April, 1861, and the first Methodist church was organized in about 1861.  At that time the only roads were trails through the woods, much of the time impassable for a team of horses.  The Roberts family would have had primitive living conditions as they worked to clear land and establish a farm.

As noted in a previous post, Ezra’s father, Alexander Roberts, served in the Civil War from 1864-1865, so Ezra wouldn’t have had a chance to know his father very well until he was about 4 years old.  His father’s absence would have required his older siblings (the oldest sister being about 9) to take on responsibilities that his father left vacant, or that his mother couldn’t handle on her own.  We also know from Alexander’s pension application that he was not very healthy upon his return from the war, which no doubt put a strain on the family.  Even so young, it’s very possible that Ezra could have had responsibilities for crops or household chores as the whole family would have had to work together as their part of the war effort.

What would you ask Grandpa Ezra about his childhood?






So who are these people?

If I’m going to be serious about writing this blog – and I am, and if I want you to be serious about reading it – and I really do, I think I should make it easy to figure out who all these people are and how we are related to them.

This is my mother’s pedigree chart showing four generations.  You just figure out how you’re related to Joyce Verla Pratt Berrett, and then follow the pedigree lines to see how you’re related to the rest of the folks.  Simple, right?

joyce pedigree ancestryI hope that in time you’ll become familiar with these names and begin to feel a connection with all of these families.  I know I have!  Maybe you’ll even find a name for your next child . . .

Stay tuned for the same chart for the Berrett family.


Alexander Roberts, Civil War Veteran

2016-01-13 19.19.52

Alexander Roberts

My 2nd great grandfather, Alexander Roberts was born 191 years ago today on 16 January 1825.  My greatest source of information about Alexander is the record of his efforts to receive a pension for his service in the Civil War from 12 July 1864 until 2 April 1866.  According to the record, Alexander had suffered permanent disability as a result of illness suffered during his military service.

Alexander’s request for a pension was not quickly nor easily granted.  The earliest papers relating to the pension are dated October, 1882, and the pension was not granted until 28 May 1912.  He was required to prove that he was in good health prior to being drafted and that his health had suffered since his discharge, causing him to be unable to work about half of the time.  He had to provide signed affidavits from neighbors, fellow soldiers and others who had known him, both before and after the war.  Unfortunately, the doctors who had treated him during the war and following his discharge had died or moved away and so were unable to provide evidence in this case.

Alexander himself provided the following summary of his war experience as recorded in a General Affidavit dated 13 September 1884:
       “My residence since my discharge has been Tuscola County in the Township of Kingston and Koylton my Post office has been the sam all the time namely Kingston.  My occupation has ben Farmer from discharge to the present time.  That I was first taken sick at Chatinuga before I had reached my regiment by contracting a severe cold from which I had a rum of Typhoid pneumonia from which resulted my lung disease and general disability.  I was sent to field hospital Chatinuga in the month of October 1864.  I remained there about 8 days.  I then went to Nashville I think to the 2nd division hospital.  From there I went to Jeffersonville, Ind.  Where I remained about 3 weeks after which I found my regiment in about 8 days I was engaged with my regiment in the battle of Nashville, Tenn.  After said battle our regiment was ordered to Washington from there the Regiment was sent to North Carolina.  I was taken sick and sent ashore at Smithville on Cape Fear River where I remained for two or three weeks and was then sent to Wilmington, NC.  When I was sent to hospital I think this was also called 2nd division hospital.  I think I remained there about two months.  I again joined my regiment at Goldsborough, NC and after a time was taken sick and treated by a surgeon of the 28th Mich. Vols, from there I was sent home on sick furlough.  Dr. Wm Johnson (deceased) of Vassar, Mich. first treated me after my return on furlough.”

He continued his application for a pension on a form stamped PENSION OFFICE, 14 November 1885:
        “Dr. Pepron of Newburg Mich. treated me for about fourteen years (lately moved to Kansas.)
       “For the first year after my return in 1865 I was unable to perform any manual labor except once in a while a light chore for the following 5 or 6 years.  I was able to do about 1/3 of a days work and for the last 12 years I have been prevented 1/2 my time from following my usual occupation by reason of my disability.”

Pensioner dropped (1)

Final pension check (1)

It appears that Alexander received $27.00 each month until he died on 17 October 1916.


Happy 87th Anniversary!

Mr. and Mrs. Francis Taylor Pratt
23 April 1927

Frank and Madalene Pratt on their wedding day with Frank Stone and Connie Roberts

Frank and Madalene Pratt on their wedding day with Frank Stone and Connie Roberts

Marriage License and Certificate

Marriage License and Certificate

The Marriage License lists Pop’s age as 21, but in reality he had just turned 20 on April 18.  A few years earlier, he had lied about his age to get permission to work, and it appears he kept that story at the time of his marriage!

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