Filson Family Farm

Filson Family Farm

Friday, December 28, 2012

Marshall County Historical Society

Marshall County Historical Society (Filson/Manuwal lineage)

When researching a family, one must stop at the Historical Society or Genealogical Society in the county where the family lived. I had one day to make a very fast trip to the Marshall County Historical Society. This is a wonderful society located in historical downtown Plymouth, Indiana. The very helpful staff quickly led me to their wonderful index of articles and photographs. Hours and hours of research were saved by the hard work the staff and volunteers have spent on this indexing project. I came away with dozens of photos I have never seen and wonderful stories of my grandmother and grandfather.

I learned from a story written by a town local, that my grandmother invited the Sunday School class over to her house to pull taffy. She cooked the taffy and allowed the children to run all over the kitchen with buttery hands to pull the taffy. The author called my grandmother an angel, for she was more concerned with the children enjoying themselves, than her kitchen getting messed up. These stories are priceless to me.

At the historical society, I also got school photos, maps, estate records, and historical information about the little town of Inwood, Indiana. I am deeply grateful for this wonderful organization and look forward to going back, because one day was not enough. 

But, the most valuable item I found was a compiled genealogy on the Filson line. I was, needless to say, shocked to see this large white binder with the word Filson written on the side of the binder.  The compiled genealogy was written by Marjorie Barber Coffin who resided in Santa Barbara, CA at the time.

She opens the document by stating, “It is my hope that another Filson descendent will be able to use this report to finish the documentation of our Filson line, so nearly complete here, and find records connecting our Thomas, John and Robert with Robert’s parentage.”

Well, hopefully I will be able to fill that wish. I wanted to send her a thank you note and after I did some research, I learned Marjorie passed away in 2001. So I think of her as another ancestral soul and will thank the heavens she has come into my life, for her work is invaluable to me. Marjorie descends from the Alderfer line. Her ancestor Israel Alderfer married a Mary Jane Filson, who was the sister of my 2xGreat Grandfather, Taylor Filson. They lived on the farm adjoining the Filson family farm outside of Inwood, Indiana.

For more information on the Marshall County Historical Society and their resources click here.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Clyde Lowell Filson and Theada Helen Filson, brother and sister (Filson lineage)

Today I write a note to say goodbye to my dear Uncle Lowell and a belated note to my Aunt Theada.

Clyde Lowell Filson was born in 1926 in Elkhart, Indiana and recently passed in 2012.
Uncle Lowell, as we called him, was a lifetime resident of Marshall County, Indiana. He was a farmer, a machinery mechanic and a salesman. He was a member of Inwood Methodist Church and an honored United States veteran serving during World War II in the 773rd Tank Destroyer division as a gunner in Germany. He was the oldest son of Grace Coplen and Russell Filson.

Preceding him is his sister and my Aunt Theada.  She was the oldest child of Grace and Russell. Theada Helen Filson was born in Elkhart, Indiana in 1924 and passed in 1993. She volunteered for a two year tour in the Woman’s Army Corp during WWII. She lived in California and Florida, but then retired from hospital administration, returning to Indiana and spent her last years living with my Grandma Grace.
Both Theda and Lowell were raised on the Filson family farm outside of Inwood Indiana with my father and two more sisters. I have wonderful memories of playing on Lowell’s farm as a child with my cousin and I was always taken with Theda’s beauty.
Below is an article from a Plymouth, Indiana newspaper showing both of them going to war and a photo of both of them in uniform in 1944.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Inwood Indiana (Filson/Coplen lineage)

Inwood, Indiana, in Marshall County, is a tiny community one mile from the Filson family farm— the farm where Grace (Coplen) and Russell Filson raised their family. But it was not always a tiny community.

1872 Map of Inwood Indiana

You can find the following description of Inwood in a book published in 1908, by The Lewis Publishing Company, in Chicago, entitled;
A Twentieth Century History of Marshall County, Indiana, Vol 1, by Daniel McDonald

“This village, situated seven miles east of Plymouth on the Pennsylvania Railroad, was, before the railroad was built, called Pearsonville in honor of Ezra G. Pearson who platted and laid out the town December 29, 1854. Mr. Pearson had located there and built a sawmill. At that place and for miles all around it was even difficult for men used to the “thick woods” to get through it in places. When the railroad was built through that place two years later, the company, looking for a shorter name then “Pearsonville” and finding themselves “in the woods” the name of Inwood easily suggested itself and from that day to this it has been called Inwood.

For many years, until the timber was mostly cut off, it was a fine lumber region, and those who purchased land for the timber alone made enough out of the timber to pay for the timber and the land and had enough land left, and much of it is now among the best farming land in the county. The following additions have been made to the original plat: Pierson's first and second; A.W.Hendrick’s; Croup & Core’s first and second; Fredrickson’s, and Lee & Dickinson’s.

This village has a two-story brick schoolhouse, in which is taught a grade school. The Methodists have a church building here; there is a telegraph office. An express office, and stores and shops of various kinds where such articles as the inhabitants need can be purchased.”

Original Inwood School late 1800s

Inwood School Early 1900s

The schoolhouse was expanded three times to meet the needs of the population. In the two pictures above you will see the original school and then a newer school with the addition.  It grew to be a 12 grade school house. My grandmother Grace attended 12th grade at the school in 1923, but stopped short of graduating by one class because, as she told a friend, she went to work instead of “wasting” her time on a diploma. This was a very typical attitude for young woman in rural America of the 1920’s whose biggest dream was to raise a family. Her children also attended there through grade school and then in the 40s they moved onto Plymouth High School. My own siblings attended in this school in the early 1960s for a short time.

Grace Coplen 1922

In 1905 the Methodist Church of Inwood, which was and still is attended by many of my family members, laid its cornerstone according to the Plymouth Democrat Newspaper on Sept 21, 1905, they had  500 to 600 people attending the ceremony.  In the cornerstone they put current issues of newspapers, a bible and other papers of local interest. It also stated the church was too small for the crowd and people had to be turned away.

Inwood Methodist Church, Inwood, Indiana

Inwood at one time had a saloon, a saw mill which brought the railroad, along with a grain elevator and a stock yard. It even had a little hotel which filled up because it was an “on the way” stop to the Chicago World’s Fair.
In the wake of Prohibition you can see that in 1908, 95% of the voters filed a petition against the sale of alcohol in Inwood. The Plymouth Democrat Newspaper on Thursday February 20, 1908, states, “The people of Inwood are without police protection.. and they claim that the selling of whisky there has caused them considerable trouble and they are determined to rid the place of saloons.”
Sadly, because it was not a big enough town to have police or a fire station, many fires helped to bring on the decline of the little community. In The Bourbon News-Mirror Newspaper Aug 3, 1905 issue we see,
 “Fire started in the Livery Stables of E.O.Warnacut… Spread to the saloon owned by Ed Brown, …an Opera House owned by John Caldwell and The Carlston Hotel.”
Much of the town was burned and despite reconstruction efforts, the fire took the town multiple times. As the timber in the area was cut down, people moved into Plymouth and South Bend to work in factories.
At the Marshall County Historical Society in Plymouth, Indiana,  Judy McCollough has complied a 100 year history on the small community of Inwood and I credit her with providing me much of this information.
Inwood, Indiana (Marshall County)

Grain Mill in Inwood Early 1900s

Town Street Inwood Indiana Early 1900s

Town Street Inwood Indiana Early 1900s

Monday, November 26, 2012

Marriage of Grace Coplen to Russell Filson (Filson/Coplen lineage)

Bourbon [Indiana] News Mirror, December 27, 1923


Sunday, December 16, 1923, Russell Filson of near Inwood, son of J. T. and Mrs. Filson[1] took unto himself a wife in the person of Miss Grace Coplen, daughter of Elmer and Mrs. Coplen[2], of near Argos. The wedding ceremony was performed by Rev. Montgomery, formerly of the Methodist Church of Inwood, in the presence of only the immediate family. Following the ceremony the couple was given an elaborate dinner for their guests, by the parents of the bride.

Mr. Filson is a farmer, but for the present has not decided just what place he will occupy, but expects to be able to settle on the place by the first of the year. He is an excellent young man, inherits thrift and energy from his excellent parents and will undoubtedly make a success of life.

The bride is reputed a delightful woman, charming in a social and physical way, and a fit companion and home maker for the young husband. Their interests, likes and desires are mutual, so a good home should and will be the result. May they be happy, prosperous, and live long is our wish.”

1) John Thomas Filson and Catherine Manuwal Filson

2) Mrs. Florence Rodabaugh Coplen

Above is the marriage announcement for Russell Filson and Grace Coplen. I find it interesting to encounter personality traits other people bestow on my ancestors. My guess would be this announcement was written by Russell’s mother Catherine. She sees Russell as thrifty and energetic, traits he likely inherited from her. I make the assumption it was written by Catherine because she uses the word “reputed” when describing Grace. This is not a word a mother would use, but one a new mother-in-law would use. She says Grace is delightful and charming and my favorite part is, she is “a fit companion and home maker for the young husband.” In the 1920s, this sort of companionship is what most women aspired to. They are indeed a beautiful couple.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lesson from Grandma Grace (Filson/Coplen lineage)

One very blistering snowy day in 1972 I had to walk from school to grandma's house. I know what you are saying, but my snow story is real, not made up. The snow was coming down hard and the wind was so strong it stung my face. My spine hurt from the tightness of my body. I walked as fast as I could for about 20 minutes for I was not prepared for snow that day and had no gloves. I made it to Grandma's house and ran to the sink to run hot water over my hands. As the hot water started to run, the pain in my hands escalated to horrifying pain. Luckily grandma was in the kitchen and she quickly turned off the hot water tap and ran cold water over my hands, explaining to me that when anything is frozen it has to be thawed slowly, heat would make it crack. I envisioned my fingers falling off my hands. She filled the sink up with cold water, added a few ice cubes and then gradually brought warm water into the sink. My eyes were filled with tears from pain, but comforted that Grandma knew how to fix it.

In 1971 we moved away from Plymouth, Indiana for two years to another Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, but then returned to the family farm in 1973 when my father retired from military service.

At that time Grandma Grace had bought a mobile home and put it on a cement slab next to the crib on the Filson farm. I enjoyed going over there to play gin rummy and eat her butterscotch hard candy. She had a little Chihuahua that would jump all over and annoy me. She would make rhubarb pie with the wild rhubarb that grew in the field and dandelion green patties with the wild dandelions that grew all over the yard. Looking back on it, I see it was one of my first lessons on how to live off the land. The thought that if I could find nothing else in the world to eat I could go out in my yard and pick the dandelion weeds, the weeds that most people hate and spend an exhaustive amount of time trying to kill, then mix them with egg and flour and fry them in a pan with butter. It makes me feel as if I have some secret knowledge of survival that my city friends do not.  She also taught me how to make gravy, it would take me another 10 years to remember her gravy lesson and implement it into cooking routine, but it eventually stuck. She said to make good gravy; you had to slowly brown butter and flour to a toasty color and then slowly add hot stock to keep the gravy at a slow bubble. “You can’t rush the gravy” she would say. It makes for perfect gravy every time.

I soon got busy with school and with my life and moved away from Indiana. Grandma Grace went to live with her oldest daughter on another farm a few miles from the family farm where she raised her children. Her oldest daughter died in 1993 and due to her poor health Grandma Grace went to live in Miller's Merry Manor Nursing Home in Plymouth. We would write to each other, but I regret I was not as attentive as I should have been. She lived there another 10 years, to the age of 97, and by that time she said she was tired of living. She was in a wheelchair and she did not like the fact that she was lasting so long.

She died on August 25, 2003, which is the same day I celebrated my 18th wedding anniversary. She is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Plymouth, Indiana next to her husband Russell.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cooking With Grandma (Filson/Coplen lineage)

We would visit Grandma Grace from time to time, as we were transferred by the Air Force all over the country, but it was not until 1970 when my father was transferred to Korea that he decided to put us on the family farm close to Inwood Indiana. Grandma at that time was living in the town of Plymouth, Indiana with her friend Irene Hendricks. They shared a cute little three bedroom house on the corner of this small town. They lived next to a car wash that had candy vending machines. I would scavenge for empty coke bottles to redeem for a few pennies to use in them. It was close enough to the middle school for me to walk the twenty minutes to her house after school, where I would often stay the night instead of going back to the farm.

I loved the smell of her house. I loved the little telephone table she had in the small foyer. At the time we had moved onto push button phones, but she still had a rotary phone. I would admire her knitting bag that she kept neatly organized next to her chair. She had made a cover for her footstool which was always placed in front of her chair. It was of a country farm scene that was perfectly needle-pointed in shades of brown. She and Irene would spend the evenings knitting and watching television. She tried to teach me to knit, but I was not interested, as I thought it was something only old people did. I regret that decision. I did help her needle point once and I remembered the lesson 10 years later as I cross-stitched teddy bear pictures for my daughter's nursery. My grandma and I would watch Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, The Andy Griffith Show, along with other shows. We would play Gin Rummy and put together puzzles. I would go there after school and arrive to the smell of Irene making Mashed Potatoes Donut Holes, which I thought were so amazing because they would stay fresh for a week. She would let me help fry them in a small deep fryer, I loved to push them down into the oil and watch them pop up and then when they are still hot, sprinkle them with sugar and watch the sugar melt to a glaze. Yummy!

But of course, the best treats were my grandma’s sugar cookies, that is one of those tastes I will never forget and just the thought of them brings back the taste to the tip of my tongue. My great grandma Katherine also made them, so I am not sure who would claim fame to the recipe. I am sure this is the same recipe millions of grandmas’ claim, but to me it is my grandma's recipe.

She would roll them out on a floured cutting board and with the lid of a Ball canning jar, cut out perfect circles that she would then bake to a perfect golden color. They were soft but crispy and the perfect combination of sweet and buttery.

My grandma was also known for her green beans cooked with bacon and her chicken and biscuits, which comprised of a layer of mashed potatoes, topped with a layer of freshly made thick egg noodles, topped with a gravy which contained large pieces of chicken, carrots and peas, carbohydrate heaven. I would eat then want to take a nap.

In later years I would find my Grandma’s recipe in a church cookbook compiled by our church in Inwood, Indiana. It reads:

Source: Country Cookbook, Inwood United Methodist Church Youth Fellowship,
Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies by Grace Filson

 3 cup flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp lemon extract

1/3 tsp salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 c shortening

Shift the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Cut shortening into it as pie dough. Sprinkle on the lemon extract. In another bowl mix:

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

4 Tbsp milk

Beat eggs and add the sugar and the milk while beating. Pour this mixture over the dry mixture. Mix just until it holds together good, put out on floured board; roll without working anymore than necessary. They should be 1/4 inch in diameter. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 400 degrees until done. These will rise nice and are delicious for children to dunk in milk (will not crumble).

Note: I retyped this recipe the way it is in the book, but I feel there is an error in the original printing. Instead of the cookies being 1/4 in diameter, I know she meant 1/4 inch thick. I know these were not cookies where the dough was put into a ball, as I remember her letting me roll the dough and use the lid of a Ball jar to cut the cookies. Also, not mentioned in the recipe was the sugar we sprinkled over the top before baking. Church cookbooks are not well edited and have many errors in them, but they are a great resource for family recipes!

I will also include here the recipe for Irene’s Mashed Potatoes Donut Holes, I hope you enjoy.
A picture of Grace Coplen Filson and Irene Hendricks

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Grandma Grace Coplen Filson (Filson/Coplen lineage)

Today I write about the only person in my linage I have firsthand knowledge of. My Grandma Grace Genevan Coplen Filson, was born on December 5th, 1905 to Elmer R Coplen and Frances A Rodabough, in Talma, New Castle, Fulton Co, Indiana.

Grace was one of seven children. She attended school in Talma until she was 16 and then moved to Argos, Indiana and attended Inwood High School. She stopped short of graduating by one class; she said she felt she was wasting her time getting a diploma, because she could start working without one. Her mother Frances died in 1924 when Grace was 19 years old. At this point she was a newlywed and had her first of 5 children on the way.

She married Russell Filson at the age of 18, whom she had met at the Inwood Methodist Church. They lived on the Filson family farm near Inwood, Indiana which was built by Russell's Great Grandfather, Taylor Silver Filson.

There they raised a family of 5 children. Grandma would teach her children to grow vegetables and can and freeze summer fruits so they would have enough to take them through the hard winters. They were six miles from the main town of Plymouth, Indiana so any resources they needed for the winter had to be carefully planned out.

Grandma Grace was a very kind and gentle soul. A woman with deep religious beliefs and a slight judgmental streak, although not so much that you would be put off by her. I often sought out her opinion and cared about what she thought. I did not live by her for any extended period of time until I was in the 8th grade. There was a short time we lived with her in 1960 before the Air Force transferred us to Lakenheath, England, it was then we stayed on the Filson family farm for about 4 months. I was three years old and my memories of that time are vague. I do remember watching The Wizard of Oz for the first time that year and being terrified and running to Grandma for comfort.
My mom, Me and Grandma Grace Coplen Filson

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I write this blog for my family and others that may be interested in our ancestors’ journey through time. With this blog I concentrate on the linage of Filson, Hunter, Manuwal, Zimmerman, Coplen (Copeland), Severns, Rodabaugh and Hynes. I concentrate only on the deceased and will only use the names of the living, if I have permission. Our journey starts in Indiana and will move to Ohio. From there the journey is a surprise. I hope to write this blog chronologically, but I get easily distracted and excited about my findings, so I may jump ahead. Some post will be about a particular person, some may be about a place, some may be about a historical moment in time that our ancestor experienced first hand. Also, I may include some of my own personal experiences. Remember it is not the destination, but the journey that is the exciting part. So I invite you to take this journey with me and I look forward to your comments and insights. I also look forward to other distant family members joining this forum. I will try and stay on topic, but sometimes the most exciting thing about genealogy is how I came to find a piece of treasure.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

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Friday, October 19, 2012

First a little background on how I came to have this obsession: It was 2010 and I sat down on a Friday evening to do some channel surfing when I came upon the show "Who Do You Think You Are?" The show tracks the ancestral lineage of a celebrity with the help of genealogical experts. On this night it was Sarah Jessica Parker. Her journey took her to Massachusetts, where she found out her tenth great grandmother was accused of being a witch in Salem. It made me curious to see if I could find any witches in my lineage. When I enrolled on, I realized I had been sucked into a marketing scheme but figured I would subscribe for a month and then cancel my account. It took me about a year before I cut the cable because the website had so much information. When you start doing genealogy you are told to start off with what you know and what is known by others in your family. Then you look for evidence to confirm the information and along the way you track your sources. While working on your genealogy you need to work backwards through time. So you will research and learn about someone's death before their birth. The first sources you seek are primary records, i.e. death, marriage and birth records. Many states only started requiring vital records in the early 1900s. Sometimes they are hard to acquire so then you look for secondary records. One of the best sources for secondary information is the United States Census. The U.S. Census has been performed since the early 1800s, in the early census records only the head of household is named and the number of people in the house. Therefore, you can never be sure you have the right family. Starting in 1850, it was requiring that every person in the household be recorded. This is a wonderful thing for genealogist. For more information on the federal census visit:

I will not go any further in depth about being a genealogist but I will let you know about the resources as I go along. They are too vast to explain in this post.

Oh, and by the way, I still haven't found any witches.

Welcome to my Blog

I am Shelley Filson-Bechtold, born in Lake Charles, Louisiana in 1957. I have five siblings and we are all Air Force Pioneers. While others would refer to us as Air Force Brats, we were in no way spoiled by the Air Force life so I prefer to think of us as pioneers. We moved every two or three years in and out of different schools and even moving between multiple houses in one city. Yet, we persevered and went onto adulthood and now I reside in California with my family of four. I hope you enjoy my blog about my Northern Ancestors.