Thomas Jefferson PRESTON was b. 23 Feb 1836 in Hamilton, NY and m. 25 May 1872 (probably in Missouri or Iowa) to Mary Elizabeth TRUAX (b. 25 Sep 1843 perhaps in OH).  They had settled by 1880 in Stanberry, Gentry Co., MO, where their children appear to have been born.  By 1900 they had moved to Hutton Valley, Howell Co., MO where they died, TJ in 1915 and Mary Elizabeth in 1928.

Mary Elizabeth TRUAX was the daughter of Job TRUAX (1810-1896) and Eleanor JONES (1816-1896), both from Pennsylvania.  This is another family that moved steadily west from Pennsylvania through Ohio, finally settling in Iowa, not far from where Mary Elizabeth and her husband were found in the 1880 Missouri census.  Job was the son of Benjamin TRUAX Jr. (1774-1844) and Ezediah Pamer (~1780-1879).  Ezediah Palmer has the distinction of spending all 100 years of her life on the same farm in Bedford Co., PA.  Benjamin TRUAX came from a long line, which reaches back to the arrival of his ancestor Philippe du Trieux, a Walloon, who immigrated to New Amsterdam in 1624.


They had children as follows:

Lou Ella Preston (b/d 1873) – from the family bible

Lorin T. Preston (1875 – 1877) – from the family bible

Edward Dooley Preston (1878 – 1964) m. Eary Brown (1880 – 1961).  Had children Karl and Rodney b. in Springfield, MO.

Frank Preston (1880 – ) m. Mary and then Ethel Murphy.  Frank and Mary had children Dorothy and Mary.

Pony Express

Posted on: August 25th, 2015

Thomas Jefferson Preston, at the age of 24, is missing from the 1860 census.   He is not living with his parents and cannot be found in any census across the country.  Family lore states that he was a pony express rider, and this is certainly consistent with his absence in 1860.  The Pony Express began in April 1860, founded by the Leavenworth and Pike’s Peak Express Company, after the Postmaster General decided to cut back on overland mail service to the new state of California.  Families who had gone west were anxious for news of the Civil War brewing in the east and the Company hoped, that by setting a new standard for mail delivery, they could gain a government contract for mail delivery.   While no official list of riders has ever been found, it is certainly believable that young TJ whose father had gone west, perhaps on the California Trail, for gold in 1850 and been gone for at least 6 years, wanted to see the trail and perhaps be part of a solution to help families in the east communicate with relatives in California.

The Pony Express route stretched from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California.  It was different from other mail services in that it did not use a stagecoach, but instead relied on fast riders, switching horses at designated stations, who delivered mail across the dangerous expanse of the West in about 10 days.  The riders were required to weigh under 125 lbs.  Together with the “mochilla” saddle bag, designed to carry water and weaponry as well as the mail – the horses were only to carry 165 lbs.  The owners of the company stressed to their riders that no matter what happened to the rider or horse on the journey, the mochilla must be saved at all costs.   Riders rode about 75 – 100 miles per day, switching horses every 5-25 miles.  All told there were 184 stations in the network.  The trail stretched west from Missouri along the California and Oregon Trails, the California Trail being the same one used by 49’ers a decade earlier as they moved west into California to look for gold.  The riders of the Pony Express rode fast and hard for 19 months, getting mail to California faster than ever before.  During the 19 months they were in operation, only one delivery was lost.  But then, in October of 1861, the telegraph reached California.  The founders of the Pony Express went bankrupt and the riders found other work.

For TJ Preston, this meant settling in Missouri with his wife, Mary Elizabeth Truax, formerly of Iowa.



Pony Express – Wikipedia Article on the Pony Express

History – Pony Express Museum in St. Joseph, MO website

Pony Express National Historic Trail – National Parks Service website detailing history and current options to visit Pony Express related sites today

Pony Express Riders – List compiled by the Pony Express Home Station


Posted on: August 25th, 2015

In 1848, gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill, east of San Francisco.  San Francisco, at the time, was a small settlement of roughly 800 people.  California was a part of Mexico.  The discovery followed the end of the Mexican-American War which resulted in California and much of what is now the southwestern portion of the United States being ceded to the US.  The future state of California was handed over to the United States about 2 weeks AFTER the discovery of gold.   Stutter wasn’t actually happy about the discovery.  He wanted to build a farm on the land and would have preferred to keep gold out of it, but it was difficult to keep such an exciting find a secret.  Very quickly, his laborers had deserted and the entire city of San Francisco had become a ghost town as industrious individuals relocated to the gold fields in ever increasing numbers, hoping to get rich.  Because California was a part of Mexico, it was Mexican laws that applied to the discovery of gold.  Most of the land was public, not privately owned.  Mexican mining laws allowed miners to stake a “claim” and hold it as long as they were actively working.  As soon as they stopped working the claim, they lost “ownership” and others could “claim jump,” moving in to try their luck on the same claim.

The first miners to arrive in the gold fields east of San Francisco were local, west coast people, people with easy access.  These first miners were able to just pick up large chunks of gold from the ground.  It was easy to get rich.  By the time Americans on the east coast heard about the rapidly spreading wealth and then travelled in large numbers across the country, getting rich was becoming more and more difficult.  From the east coast, prospective miners had several options for reaching California.  They could travel by sea around South America, a long and perilous journey.  They could travel by sea to Panama and then spend a week crossing the isthmus by mule, another perilous journey.  Or, they could come across the great expanse of the west by land on the California Trail, yet another long and perilous journey.   Yet, despite the dangers, thousands went west.  When miners stopped finding large chunks of gold lying around on the ground, they started digging and panning.  Miners would put a shovelful of dirt, etc. in a pan of water, shake it around, and let the weight of the gold separate it from the rest of the dirt.   As it became more and more difficult to find gold in the pans, techniques became more and more industrialized and the miners went from working for themselves to working for a mining company.   And throughout the process – it became more and more difficult for anyone to get rich.  By 1850, the population of San Francisco had grown to 25,000 people.  And the non-native population of California, estimated about 800 in 1848 had exploded to 100,000 people by the time California became a state in 1850.  By 1852, only four years after it started, gold production had peaked.  It was very hard to get rich, and in fact, many people went home with no more than they started.

When word trickled east about the gold in California, it stirred the imagination of Loring Porter Preston.  He probably left home some time in late 1849 or early 1850, arriving in California in time to be counted in the Placerville census in November of 1850.  He was living in a tavern, his occupation listed as “miner for gold,” along with most of the other occupants.  Placerville was originally called Dry Diggings, named for the method the miners used to search for gold, carrying dry dirt to the stream to separate the gold.  It was later given the ominous name of Hangtown, an indication of the lawlessness that arrived at the same time as the massive influx of people.  When Placerville was incorporated in 1854, it was the third largest city in California.  Loring P. Preston stayed in California for 6 years while his wife and children held down the fort in New York.  He returned home via Panama in 1856 and was reunited with his family, no visibly richer than he was before.



The Gold Rush of 1849 – narrative of the gold rush

The California Trail – Wikipedia Article on the California Trail (also see Placerville article)

California Gold Rush – Wikipedia Article on the Gold Rush (see cool map)

 The California Gold Rush of 1849 – Coloma, CA Chamber of Commerce with history as well as info on visiting today

Loring Porter PRESTON was born 16 Mar 1812 in Hamilton, NY and married on 26 Dec 1832 in Hamilton to Louisa Maria CRANE.  Loring has the distinction of appearing in the 1850 census in Placerville, El Dorado Co., CA, living in a tavern and working as a “miner for gold,” and having left his wife and children in New York for the year while he tried to find his fortune.  He supposedly returned by way of Panama in 1856.  Loring died in Stansbury, MO in 1887.

Louisa was born in 31 Oct 1813 in Hamilton, the daughter of Lucas (Luke?) Crane (1775 – bef 1855) and his wife Nancy (abt 1782 – aft 1855).  Lucas Crane and his brothers (Roswell and George ?) are mentioned in several histories of Madison county, having arrived there about 1810, among the original settlers of the community.  Lucas and his wife were both born in Massachusetts.  Their origins are unknown, although Lucas may be the son of Adonijah CRANE (see Genealogy of the Crane Family by Ellery Bickerell Crane).

Loring Porter PRESTON and Louisa Maria CRANE had the following children:

Thomas Jefferson Preston (1836 – 1915) m. Mary Elizabeth TRUAX (1843-1928)

Lewis Orlando Preston (1842 – ~1870) m. in Avon, NY to Jane Bancroft (1840 – ).  Children:  Frederick Dewitt (b. 1861) and Lewis (b. abt 1865)

Electa Preston – died in infancy (~1850)

The Salem Witch Trials

Posted on: August 25th, 2015

As was probably inevitable in the small community in 1692, the Preston family was affected by the Salem Witch Trials.  Rebecca Towne Nurse, the mother of Rebecca Nurse Preston is a well remembered victim of the hysteria that gripped the towns of Salem, Ipswich and the surrounding communities in 1692 and 1693.  Two of her sisters were also accused,  Mary (Towne) Eastey and Sarah (Towne) Cloyce, with Mary Eastey being convicted and executed.  While men were less often accused, one of those who were was John Alden, son of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins.

The first few people who were accused in 1692 were women on the fringes of society, those not viewed as important in the community or people with mental illness or strongly vocal about the supernatural.  As a community, the people of the Massachusetts Bay Colony had a strong belief that Satan walked among the people and was always looking to do harm.  They were easily convinced of supernatural powers.  Some of this religious or superstitious zeal may have been at fault during the beginning of the Salem witch craze.   Regardless, it was easy for the public to get swept away in the craze when the women accused seemed different or “other.”

The “witches” mainly were accused of causing fits and other strange behavior in other people, mainly young girls.  “Spectral evidence,”  the display of the afflicted youngsters and their behaviors in the courtroom, was one a large part of the witch trials and the question of whether it was also possible that another factor in the ensuing hysteria was simply the boredom of teenagers and children who wondered how much attention they could garner by feigning affliction.  One of the key accusers was Ann Putnam.  There was a long standing family feud in Salem between the Putnam and Porter families that may also have been a factor in the events of 1692/1693.  The Porter family spoke up in great numbers for Rebecca Nurse.

Rebecca Nurse was an elderly woman at the time of her accusation and professed her innocence unwaveringly.  She was a prominent member of the church and community.  It was after her execution and the accusation of several other well respected individuals that the community began to think twice.  People began to wonder how reliable the “spectral evidence” was and eventually, in the trial of Rebecca’s sister Sarah Cloyce, the judge agreed to exclude it from the trial.  People had begun to believe that the devil could make himself appear in an innocent person and that it was possible that the accused themselves were not to blame.

During the years that followed, families fought to have excommunications reversed and names exonerated from charges.  In many cases, these things were granted and achieved as it was generally recognized that the community had not handled the whole situation well and that innocent people had lost their lives.  Several of the accusers, including Ann Putnam, made public apologies for their role in the witch trials.



Wikipedia Article:  Salem Witch Trials  – There are also individual articles on several of the victims.

Famous American Trials:  Salem Witchcraft Trials 1692 – Also includes transcripts of several of the trials as well as statements by witnesses

Salem Witch Museum – Official website of the Salem Witch Museum

Family of Lewis Preston and Susannah Snow

Posted on: August 25th, 2015

Lewis Preston was born in 1786 in Connecticut.  He married in 1808 in Hamilton, Madison Co., NY to Susannah SNOW (b. 1785).   Lewis died in 1860 in Hamilton and Susannah died in 1862 in Avon, Livingston Co., NY.  Susannah was the daughter of Captain Abijah Snow (1754-1819, son of Nathan Snow and Mary Mansfield) and Sarah Porter (1756-1801, daughter of Ebenezer Porter and Lydia Loring).  Captain Snow was a descendant of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins of the Mayflower.

Lewis and Susannah (Snow) Preston had the following children:

Electa Preston (1809 – 1831)

Loring Porter Preston (1812-1887) m. Louisa Maria Crane (1813-1875)

Lyman Osgood Preston (1818 – 1904) m. 1843 Louisa Lord (b. abt 1820 – ).  Children:  De Alton, De Edwin

Lewis Orlando Preston (1820 – 1860) m.  ??

Julia Ann Preston (1824-1854) m. 1848 Damon Richmond

Susan Maria Preston (1826-1859)


Ancestors of Thankful Hopkins

Posted on: August 25th, 2015

The family story, passed down as something said by Lewis, her son, was that Thankful Hopkins (b. 1746) was the daughter of Stephen Hopkins, signer of the Declaration of Independence.  There is no evidence to support this.  So who was her father?  We have been unable to locate any vital records pertaining to Thankful.

I did find one Hopkins family from Litchfield, CT, that of Stephen Hopkins and Rebecca Mayo.  They had children as follows:  Desire, Prence, Benjamin, John, Mary, Rebeckah, and Hannah, born between 1732 and 1755.  Prence’s son Chillingsworth is buried in the same cemetery in Hamilton, NY where the descendants of Stephen and Thankful are buried so at least one member of this Hopkins family made the same journey from Litchfield to upstate NY as Thankful did.  Was she connected to these Hopkins?  I do not know.  There doesn’t seem to be any evidence of this Stephen having a daughter named Thankful either.

Another possibility raised by another researcher was that of the family of Jonathan Hopkins and Anne Colt, both of Hartford.  They DID have a daughter named Thankful, but as far as I can tell she would have been born no later than 1730, as such is probably too old too have been our Thankful.




Family of Stephen Preston and Thankful Hopkins

Posted on: August 25th, 2015

Stephen Preston (b. 19 Aug 1743 Ashford, CT – d. 23 Sep 1801 New Lebannon, NY) m. Thankful Hopkins (b. 24 Mar 1746 – d. 8 Dec 1820).  They had the following children:

Rhoda m. 1790 in Cornwall CT to Theodore Abbott (children:  Caleb, John, Almira, Frisbee, and Rhoda)

Stephen (b. abt 1777 CT – d. aft 1870 Hamilton, NY).  Married unknown wife?  Had children:  Clarissa and Lucy.  Married 2: Polly and had two more children:  Fanny and William.

Eunice (b. 1782 CT – d. aft 1860 Avon, NY) m. Roger Hackley (abt 1781 – aft 1870).  Had children:  Julius, Harriet, Eliza, ?, Lucinda, and ?.

Lewis (b. 29 May 1786 – d. 27 Apr 1860) m. 27 Dec 1808 in Hamilton, NY Susannah Snow (b. 14 Nov 1785 – d. 10 Aug 1862)

Althea (b. abt 1788 CT – d. aft 1875 Hamilton, NY) m. David Smith.  Had children including Preston H. and Lucy Malvinia, but not sure of the names of the others.

Ancestors of Eleanor Stiles

Posted on: August 25th, 2015

Eleanor Stiles was the daughter of John Stiles and Deliverance Towne.  She was born in Feb 1703 in Boxford.  Her birth is listed in town records and while there are some conflicting reports regarding her marriage, it is said that John Stiles mentions daughter Eleanor Presson in his will.  I have not yet found a copy of the will.

John Stiles and Deliverance Towne are mentioned in the Descendants of Roger Preston of Ipswich, but much of the information regarding the Stiles family below comes from the Stiles Family in America:  Genealogies of the Massachusetts Family, Descendants of Robert Stiles of Rowley, MA by Mary A. Stiles (Paul) Guild.

John Stiles, (b. 1661 in Rowley Village (now Boxford, MA) – d. bef May 1753) m. Nov 1684 to Deliverance Towne (b. 1664 Topsfield – d. abt 1705).  In addition to Eleanor they had the following children:  Deliverance, Ruth, John, Elizabeth Marcy, and Mehitable.  Deliverance was a twin, daughter of Jacob Towne and Catherine Symonds.  Jacob was the son of William Towne and Joanna Blessing and brother of Rebecca Towne Nurse and Mary Towne Etsy who were both executed in Salem in 1692 on charges of witchcraft.  John remarried to Mary French about 1727.

John’s father was Robert Stiles (b. ENGLAND – d. Jul 1690) who m. Oct 1660 to Elizabeth Frye (b. ENGLAND – d. 1713).  In addition to John they had the following children:  Elizabeth, Sarah, Abigail, Ebenezer, Sarah, Robert, Timothy, and perhaps Eunice and Samuel.  Elizabeth was the daughter of John and Ann Frye.

Family of John Preston and Eleanor Stiles

Posted on: August 25th, 2015

It is assumed that John Preston was born about 1708, as he was the eldest son of his parents John and Mary Preston.  He was born in Andover, MA or Killingly, CT and died after 1775, where remains somewhat of a mystery.  He married in Mar 1730/1 in Windham Co., CT to Eleanor Stiles.   Preston Genealogy by John Totten (1950) states that he was dismissed from the Church at Ashford to the Church in Litchfield in 1747.  He and son Jonathan were in Winchester in 1767 and 1769.   I looked for records in Litchfield, but the First Congregational Church of Litchfield has records back only as far as 1895 as earlier records were destroyed in a fire.  Totten states that “he was last heard of in Litchfield, CT, in 1775, and it is said that he and his sons Asa, Stephen and Jonathan removed to Sheffield.”  I have not been able to locate them there.

John and Eleanor had the following children, from town records, and the Descendants of Roger Preston:

Asa (b. abt 1732 Windham) m.  24 Dec 1755 Ruamah Taylor.  Children:  Jehiel, Asa Jr. , Ruhamah

John (b. 12 Apr 1735 Windham) – probably died as a child

Infant (b. 1737) – died as an infant

John (b. 1739).  Perhaps the John who m. 6 Nov 1775 Susannah Andrews in Litchfield.   Children:  Susannah and Diedamia

Anne (b. 7 Aug 1741 Ashford)

Stephen (b. 19 Aug 1743 Ashford – d. 23 Sep 1801 New Lebannon, ,NY) m. Thankful Hopkins

Jonathan (b. 10 May 1746 Ashford) m. Prudence Barber