Tag Archives: Mary Ann Higbee

Joseph Francis Fenton (or Finton) 1761-1851. My 4th great grandfather.

Joseph Francis Fenton was my 4th great grandfather.

Here is how I relate:

I wanted to write about this ancestor partly because he has been so carefully researched by many other folk on Ancestry and they have shared valuable photos and other documents about Joseph. I wanted to pool all of these resources into one spot in order to share them easily with my family.

Joseph’s surname was Finton and this is how his first grave marker was inscribed, but later, when a new plaque was made the surname was changed to Fenton.

When Joseph Francis Finton was born on February 28, 1761, in Dutchess, New York, his father, William, was 29 and his mother, Mary George Fenton, was 29. He married Margaret Swegals in 1781 in New York. They had 11 children in 24 years. Joseph’s wife Margaret Swegals (my 4th great grandmother) died of measles on 30 March 1822.

Later, in 1825, he married Thankful Gillett and he had no children with this second wife.

He died on October 23, 1851, in Barrington, New York, at the impressive age of 90, and was buried in Penn Yan, New York.

He had a military background:

Source is DAR Lineage Book NSDAR Volume 166:1921


This is what is inscribed on a tablet:
Dedication of Joseph F. Finton Tablet in Penn Yan Cemetery, Nov. 27, 1934

Enlisted June 1778 for 3 years, under Capt. Craig, went recruiting for 3 months. Joined 3rd Pa. Regt. in the fall under Col. Craig (brother of Capt. Craig) Lt. Col. Wiliams & Major Biles.

He was in the assault and taking of Stoney Point in 1779, and in an engagement at Bargains Point, at the time of Arnold’s defection, soldier went to West Point and remained there some time. He was also in New Jersey a long time.

This photo of his tombstone also shows military associations:

Lived from 1761 to 1851


The burying ground of the Finton family was located on the family farm until most of the burials were removed to Lakeview Cemetery in Penn Yan, where they are today.

JOSEPH COMES TO BARRINGTON

The source (Page 145-148-The Fintons and Crosbys) gives us the following information about the farm.

“Joseph Finton was a revolutionary soldier, and came with his family into Barrington, (then Wayne) from New Jersey in the Spring of 1806, and settled on land in the northwest part of the town, which, for some unexplained reason, was not run into lots and numbered wih the original survey. There was enough of this land for about five lots, and it was marked on an early map as “very poor.” Mr. Finton chose this location rather than land more heavily timbered in Milo, because in the open, less wooded land, there seemed a prospect of sooner getting food for stock, which was an object of great importance to pioneer settler. The Bath road at that time was a crooked way through the woods, and Mr. Joseph S. Finton, who lives now on the spot where his after settled, thinks it was not opened as a highway till after the lake road. Their first school for that neighborhood, was in a log house, north of the Barrington line, near the present residence of Job. L. Babcock, on land long owned by Jonathan Bailey. The house was warmed by a hugh old fashioned fireplace, capable of holding almost a cord of wood. School was principally attended to in the winter; and Mr. Finton says that on all the pleasant days they had to stay at home and break flax. Cotton was not king then, and flax wrought by home industry, was the most important element for clothing the family.”

The photo below of the Fenton farm was as pictured after the 1851 death of Joseph.

Finton Farm 1876


The next photograph was not taken until 1925 (Joseph had died in 1851)

1926 photo of the Finton Farm

Mary Ann Higbee Hess, 1813-1874 – my 2nd great grandmother (A story of a Michigan pioneer woman and mother of 12!)

The Hess/Higbee genealogy is well documented.  You can read the book Hess-Higbee Genealogy compiled by W. Emerson Babcock here:

https://archive.org/details/hesshigbeegeneal00lcbabc

When Mary Ann Higbee (my 2nd great grandmother) was born in Crawford, Ohio on December 12, 1813, her father, James, was 33, and her mother, Mary Fenton Higbee, was 31.

Mary Ann married George Waltour Hess on April 21, 1836 in Anapolis, Ohio. They had 12 children in 20 years. She died on March 24, 1874, in Michigan at the age of 60, and was buried in Berrien, Michigan.

In W. Emerson Babcock’s genealogy compilation, it is recounted that this young married couple “pressed the frontier” and made their way to Berrien County, Michigan.  The book (see page 22) then continues to describe the obstacles on their pioneer journey including the need for them to abandon their wagon when they were mid-stream in the St. Joseph River.  They mounted themselves on the horses and continued on their way through the forest trails of the Native Americans until they find Mary Ann’ parents who had gone before them to establish a dwelling. Mary Ann and George’s westward journey had taken them through Chicago towards St. Joseph, MI. They were literally traveling through marsh lands.  See here the documentation in A twentieth century history of Berrien County, MI Chapter XXVI. HagarCountyhttps://www.ancestry.com/interactive/16860/dvm_LocHist004592-00674-1?pid=1084&backurl=http%3a%2f%2fsearch.ancestry.com%2f%2fcgi-bin%2fsse.dll%3findiv%3d1%26db%3dGenealogy-glh19225593%26h%3d1084&treeid=&personid=&hintid=&usePUB=true#?imageId=dvm_LocHist004592-00674-1

 From the history of Berrien County.JPG

Mary Ann’s husband George was by nature a carpenter and also being of German descent, was able to speak and interpret German.  He served as a justice of the peace in the area and was “an old school Democrat.”  In looking over the news paper clipping below, it is obvious that there was a wave of immigration directly from Germany to Berrien starting in 1840.

clipping from an article in News Palladium 30 Dec. 1939

In historical accounts it is mentioned that George was “neat in appearance” and was able to do logging without getting his clothing “dirty.” Wow- a super great life skill! All kidding aside, it does seem that he was considered a respectable and kind man and community leader. I never heard stories from my family about Mary Ann or George, so all of my knowledge has come from searching Ancestry and the web and of course the entire Hess-Higbee compilation by Babcock.

Find a Grave photo of Mary Ann’s tombstone is here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/95816610/mary-a-hess

Here is my connection to Mary Ann Higbee Hess

Mary Ann Higbee (1813 – 1874)
2nd great-grandmother
Juan James Hess (1850 – 1929)
son of Mary Ann Higbee
Robert Lawrence Hess (1924 – 2017)
son of George Kellogg (W) Hess Sr.
Linda Claire Hess
You are the daughter of Robert Lawrence Hess