Filson Family Farm

Filson Family Farm

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Great Great Grandfather Taylor Silvers Filson and Amanda Hunter (Filson/Hunter lineage)


Taylor Silvers Filson (1824 - 1916)
Family photo, source Grace Filson
My great-great-grandfather Taylor Silvers Filson was born in rural Stark County, Ohio on February 22, 1842 to John Thomas Filson (1806 -1885) and Elizabeth Carey Filson . He was their fourth child, following behind Thomas Carey Filson, John Wesley Filson and Mary Jane Filson.  His father, John Thomas, was a farmer in Ohio and used the name Thomas all his life. As a child Taylor was raised on a farm in Columbiana County, Ohio before moving to Marshall County, Indiana. His mother Elizabeth died before Taylor turned 3, and his father then married Rebecca (Bennington) Mitchell. Thomas and Rebecca had 6 more children making a total of 10.

Taylor being a patriotic man signed up for the Civil War at the age of 19 and served as a private in Company F, 55th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (more on his Civil War experience later). As a young man Taylor stood 5' 91/2", had a light complexion, blue eyes and light hair, as was described on his Civil War records. He could not write as a young man, made evident by his signature, which was made with an "X", but he did learn to read and write in adulthood.

Taylor Silvers Filson Civil War Pension records
from the National Archives in Washington DC
In 1854 his older sister, Mary Jane, married a neighbor boy named Israel B. Alderfer and moved to Marshall County, Indiana. This event encouraged Taylor to move to Indiana and purchase land from the Alderfer family, which would come to be the Filson Family Farm I have written about in previous posts. The two farms were adjacent to one another and are still owned by the Filson and Alderfer families today.

After his Civil War service was completed in 1865 and the war had come to a close, Taylor moved to Marshall County, Indiana permanently.  As with many pioneers, Taylor was a lumber man before he was a farmer. He would cut timber on his land and haul it to sawmill in Inwood, Indiana, which was called Piersonville at the time. Taylor could also travel to the small town of Bourbon, Indiana to do much of his business and a little further to Plymouth if he needed to conduct legal matters, etc…Bremen, Indiana was also nearby and a town that was accessible to him.

1872 Map of Inwood, Indiana, Courtesy Marshall County Historical Society

Plymouth Indiana Postcard, Courtesy Indiana Historical Society

Bremen, Indiana, Courtesy Indiana Historical Society
He cleared the land on his farm of the timber, mainly oak and walnut, and built a log cabin and dug a well filling it with water from the ground or the nearby Yellow Creek. Eventually, as his family grew he expanded to a small house, and then the small house grew to a two story home, with a barn, a corn crib, a chicken coup and an outhouse. He raised work horses and milk cattle and sold lumber to the lumber yard. Cash was not used much in those days; he would use the lumber, crops and farm products such as milk and eggs to barter for what he needed. He would exchange labor with his neighbors as there was always endless farm work to perform. When the land was cleared of all the trees and the swampy land drained into the creek, it was turned into some of the most fertile farmland in the Midwest. A garden was maintained to grow vegetables for the family and hunting for birds and local wildlife would put food on the table. They would have grown an orchard and vines of berries, which still grow on the land today.


Filson Farm, Marshall County Indiana, late 1800s
Taylor and other family members standing in front of the farm
Taylor's wife, Amanda Hunter, was born in Warren, Marion County, Indiana in 1846 to Edmund Hunter (1808 - 1880) and Sobrina Temple Hunter (1808 - 1861). When Amanda was 14 her mother died and the family moved to Green Township in Marshall County, Indiana and that is where she lived when she met and married Taylor.

Marriage Record of Taylor Filson and Amanda Hunter 1867

They married in 1867 and one year later had their first son William L., their first daughter Sarah Elizabeth in 1870 and in 1872 bore my greatgrandfather, John Thomas, followed by their last child, Anna Ruth in 1874. In 1888, sadly Amanda died leaving four children from the ages of 14 to 20 years old. She is buried at Mt Pleasant Cemetery, which is down the long dirt road from the Filson Family Farm.

Amanda Hunter Filson Obituary, The Republican Newspaper, November 16, 1888
After Amanda's death, Taylor was in need of a wife. In 1890 he married Zonettie D. (Caldwell) Mathewson, a widow living in Inwood. They were married in Alexandria, South Dakota, where her mother lived at the time. Zonettie was 40 and Taylor was 48, she brought with her two sons, Archibald Mathewson, age 5 and Clarence Winget age 15, from two previous marriages. They moved to the Filson farm to live with John Thomas (age 18) and Anna Ruth (age 16).

My other Great-Great-Grandfather was named Christian Manuwal. Taylor and Christian met in Stark County, Ohio and both moved to Marshall County, Indiana and became lifelong friends. They each had a son and daughter, of which married the other's son and daughter. They attended the same church, shared grandchildren, and were both delegates for the Republican Party. They also both served in the Civil War but had very different experiences.

By 1910 Taylor had turned over the family farm to his son John Thomas and he, Zonettie and her two sons, moved to Plymouth, Indiana, where he lived next door to Christian and Elizabeth (Zimmerman) Manuwal on Simon Street.
1910 United States Census
Taylor and Zonettie were married for 20 years before Zonettie decided living with him was too difficult and moved to Fort Wayne to live with her son. They never filed for divorce and Zonettie claimed Taylor's Civil War pension after his death. In the pension records she said of the situation; “I led a very unpleasant life during those years. He [Taylor] was intemperate and very mean and many times treated me with violence. He made no effort to render me proper support as he was amply able to do so. I suffered … of indignities and cruelty, until I could bear no more and in August 1910 we separated.”

Zonettie Caldwell Filson Affidavit contained in Taylor Filson's Pension Records at the National Archives in Washington DC
Zonettie had 5 children in all, from two prior marriages, but only the two survived. She and Taylor had no children. She died in 1929 in Fort Wayne, but was returned and buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Plymouth, Indiana. Her obituary in The Daily Pilot, Plymouth, on April 15, 1929 reads;

“Mrs. Zonettie D Filson 78 years old, died at the St. Joseph's Hospital at Fort Wayne at 5 o'clock Sunday evening after an illness of four months. She was a former resident of Plymouth but for several years has lived with her son Clarence Winget of Fort Wayne. Besides Clarence, she is survived by a son, Archie Madison [Mathewson] of Long Beach, California, two sisters, Mrs Elizabeth Bristol of Chicago and Mrs. J. B. Camerer of Toho, Iowa; and two brothers, S. A. Caldwell of Bronson, Kansas and W. A. Caldwell of Alexander, Ill., also survive. Funeral services will be held at the Bunnel mortuary at 3 o'clock Wednesday afternoon with burial in Oak Hill cemetery.”

Notice there is no mention of Taylor.
Tombstone of Zonettie Filson Oak Hill Cemetery, Plymouth, Indiana

When Taylor grew ill in 1915, he moved back to the Filson farm and was cared for by his son John Thomas, John's wife Catherine (Manuwal) and their children, Robert, Russell and Cosa.

In a letter written by Cosa Filson (Heckaman) to a cousin inquiring about the family and the family history, Cosa replies: (Note: I believe this is a granddaughter of Taylor’s brother Thomas Carey Filson)
Cosa Filson
Plymouth, Ind.,August 12, 1916

Dear faraway cousin, I received the letter that you had written to Grandfather Filson, but am sorry to tell you that he has passed away from this world into a far more happier world than this, at 2pm on Wednesday, August 30, 1916, at age 74 years, six months, and eight days.

He has needed the care of a little child for nearly 9 months. He came to stay with us on August 1, 1915 where he remained until his departed to the other world. He was here for 13 months. During the time he was here, he was converted to Jesus Christ and has been truly manifested through his beautiful and patient life since that experience came to his heart on the first day of February, 1916. This date of his new birth into the kingdom of God was also the date of his Christian baptism and his reception into the Methodist Episcopal Church of Inwood. His praise for the goodness of God in the salvation of his soul, continued without a break until the father's summons to eternity. He was one of the most patient person's to care for that ever I saw. For the last three months off and on, he would not have his right mind. He would be talking about one subject and the first thing we knew, he would be talking about something else.

You were asking in your letter about Aunt Mary Alderfer. She died December 15, 1904. She had two children, William and Lizzie, and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

You also asked about Uncle John's people. Well, Uncle John himself died about five years ago and the family, at least the last track we had of them, they were in different parts of Ohio.I am sure if grandfather would be a living and had his right mind, he would be glad to trace it back and I am sure he could.

Grandfather's father's name was John Thomas [1806 - 1885]. I thought perhaps that might give you a little better view of it. Taylor Filson is my grandfather. I am the daughter of his son, [John] Thomas. My father cannot realize whose daughter or granddaughter that you are.

I have heard Taylor Filson, (that is my grandfather), speak of you and Fern Filson. Do you know who she is?

My name is Cosa Filson and I am 17 years old. I am in the third year of Inwood High School. Inwood is about 7 miles east of Plymouth. I am the oldest child of [John] Thomas. I have two brothers, one 13 years [Russell] and the other 5 years [Robert]. My youngest brother [Robert] had three of his fingers on his right hand partly taken off. William Alderfer, that is, Aunt Mary Alderfer’s first boy, said that if he remembers right, your folks lived in Plymouth when you were a little girl.

Say, would you please tell me who your father is and who your father's father is? I would really greatly appreciate to tell you about the family history of the Filson's if I could and would more than be glad if you would write and tell me who your father and grandfather is. I'm sorry I didn't know where you folks were before, for I surely would have written and told you how poorly Taylor Filson was. His daughter said that they had lost track of all of his relatives nearly.

Will be pleased to hear from you. Your faraway cousin,
Cosa E Filson,
Plymouth, Indiana
Rural Route 3, Box 22
Source: Compiled Genealogy of the Filson family by Marjorie Barber Coffin,
located at The Marshall County Historical Society, Plymouth, Indiana

Upon Taylor’s death his obituary reads:

Plymouth Democrat, Sept 07, 1916
Mr. John Thomas Filson was the father of two families of children. Taylor Silvers, the subject of this obituary, was the fourth and youngest of the first family. He was born at Fostoria, Senaca County, Ohio (1) on the 22nd day of February 1842.

Elizabeth Carey Filson was his mother, dying during his youth. Soon the second companion of their father's love became the foster mother of his family and two half brothers and four half-sisters became members of the household. But as the sands of time added the years to eternity's duration, the father, the foster mother, one sister, Mary Alderfer, two brothers, Thomas C. And John, and the four half sisters, Elizabeth, Sarah, Nancy and Ruth all passed from this mortal sphere.

Taylor Filson was a patriotic citizen and seeing the great need of his service in the Civil War (1861-1865), he heeded his country's call to the colors and served in Company F, 55th Ohio Volunteer Infantry for a period of more than three years and nine months. He bore the scars of battle until his dying day.

Mr. Filson being honorably discharged from the country's service came to Center Township, Marshall County, Indiana, to make his future home. On the 26th day of February 1867, Miss Amanda Hunter became his bride. They founded their domestic habitation on a farm one mile north of the little town of Inwood. Two sons, William L and John Thomas and two daughters Sarah Ellen and Anna R. Were given to this union. The mother of this family died on the 4th day of November, 1888. During the unity of this family their residence was always in this one location, and even for nine years after the companion of his young manhood had gone to another world Mr. Filson made the old homestead his abiding place. He then lived in Plymouth, Marshall County, for 19 years, having been married to Zonettie Mathewson June 22, 1890.

Age has been creeping upon him and in his declining days he went to the home of his son, Thomas in sight of the birth place of his family of children, where he remained until his days were numbered. Great affliction of body has been his portion for many months.

He died on Wednesday afternoon, August 30th, 1916, at the ripe old age of 74 years, 6 months and 8 days.Those near and dear who mourn his departure are his wife, his entire family of children, two half brothers Simeon, of Fostoria and Simon, of Findlay, Ohio and his five grandchildren Mrs. Pearl Greer, Carl Rentschler, Cosie, Russell and Robert Filson.

Taylor S Filson Obituary Plymouth Democrat, Sept 07, 1916
When Taylor passed away the family laid him to rest next to his first wife Amanda Hunter, the mother of his children, at Old Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Bourbon Township. The cemetery lies back on the Mt. Pleasant Church of the Brethren (formerly Yellow River Church of the Brethren). I find it interesting even though Zonettie and Taylor were separated for 6 years and they never filed for divorce, the family still acknowledged her as his wife in his obituary. Possibly to appease her, because they knew they would need her help to settle his estate. His estate was settled by Zonettie, who was the sole benefactor. She inherited $676, which was a current value of about $12,000.00.

Grave of Amanda Hunter Filson and Taylor Silvers Filson,
Old Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Bourbon Township, Marshall County, Indiana