Freeman and Grace Thayer with sons Elwin, Vern, Roa, Percy and Dean, ca. 1900
Nathaniel Thayer, (1640-1725) son of William Thayer and Mary Kellaway of Thornbury, Gloucestershire, England was our first ancestor to immigrate in about 1660. He settled in Taunton, Massachusetts and married Abigail Harvey (1640-1691).
Jonathan Thayer (abt. 1685-1778) was a son of Nathaniel and Abigail Thayer. He and his wife Mary were parents of a son with an unusual name, Mephibosheth Thayer (1741-1805). Mephibosheth fought in the French and Indian War, which waxed and waned between 1755-1763. He settled in Woodstock, Windham Co, Connecticut, where in 1765 he married Lydia Chamberlain (1745-1825) of Woodstock.
The name Mephibosheth is found in 2 Samuel 6-8 of the Bible, as the son of a Jonathan.
Mephibosheth’s nicknamed was probably Mep, Sheth or just plain Bo. Regardless, he and Lydia, did not give any of their sons that name, but their son, Levi Thayer did.
Levi Thayer (1770-1847) was the 3rd son to be given the name Levi. The other 2 died within a few months after birth. In 1793 Levi married Lydia Havens (1772-1872). They moved to the Grafton County area of New Hampshire where Levi is found on the town records of Franconia, Bethlehem and Lisbon, as Dr. Levi Thayer. Lydia lived to the age of 99.
The Thayer family had a close relationship with the Applebee family of that area. Their 8th child was named Zebedee Applebee Thayer (1810-1892) after Zebedee Applebee. Levi Thayer’s sister Priscilla Thayer married Izail Applebee.
On October 6, 1831, Zebedee Thayer married Roxanna Snow (1813-1900). Her lineage has been traced back to the Mayflower Pilgrims and the beginnings of our country. She was a descendent of Stephen Hopkins and two of his children, Constance and Giles, passengers on the Mayflower.
Roxanna was an 8th generation descendant of Stephen and Mary Hopkins on her father, Nathaniel Snow’s side; 2nd generation, Constance Hopkins (1606-1677) who married Nicholas Snow (1599-1676); 3rd generation, Mark Snow (1628-1695) and Jane Prence (1637-1712); 4th generation, Nicholas Snow(1663-1754) and Lydia Shaw(1668-1712); 5th generation, Nathaniel Snow (the 1st)(1697-1773) and Elizabeth Eldridge (1702-1772); 6th generation, Nathaniel Snow (the 2nd )(1735-1809) and Azubah Nickerson (abt 1740-1810); 7th generation Nathaniel Snow (the 3rd )(abt 1775-1856) and Lydia Blodgett (abt 1783-bef 1860).
On Roxanna’s mother’s side, Lydia Blodgett, she was also an 8th generation descendant of Stephen and Mary Hopkins; 2nd generation, Giles Hopkins (1607-1690) and Catherine Wheldon (1615-1687); 3rd generation, Deborah Hopkins (1648-1727) and Josiah Cooke (1645-1731); 4th generation, Elizabeth Cooke (1674-1770) and Thomas Newcomb (1668-?); 5th generation, Deborah Newcomb (1702- aft 1749) and Thomas Lamkin (abt 1680-aft 1750); 6th generation, Mary Lamkin (abt 1732-aft 1790) and Archippus Blodgett (1733-bef 1790); 7th generation, Elijah Blodgett (1755-1827) and Mary “Polly” Lamkin (abt 1761-1813).
Both of Lydia Blodgett’s grandfathers, Joshua Lamkin and Archippus Blodgett were soldiers in the American Revolution. They were among the early settlers of Stratford, Coos County, New Hampshire and are found on numerous town records.
Freeman Albert Thayer was b. 31 March 1845 in Landaff, Grafton Co, NH. He was the eighth child of Zebedee Thayer and Roxanna Snow. Freeman married three times and had a total of 14 children, 13 sons and 1daughter.
Freeman’s first marriage was on December 25, 1867 to Rebecca Mathews, daughter of John and Cynthia Mathews, in Colebrook, Coos Co, NH. She was b. 14 October 1848, Columbia, Coos Co, NH. They came to Minnesota in March 1869 and are found on the 1870 census living in Corrina, Wright Co, MN. Freeman is listed as a farmer. By 1880 they were living in Minneapolis where Freeman was a carpenter. Freeman and Rebecca had 6 children: Walter, 1870-1949; Ernest, 1872-1950; Fred, 1877-1949; William, b. 1880- died young; Guy, 1884-1975; and Ethel (Amy), his only daughter, 1886-1963. Rebecca died in 1888 at the age of 40; cause of death was blood poisoning.
Freeman’s second marriage was to Celine “Mattie” Stansberry, daughter of William and Jane Stansberry, on 4 July 1889. She was born abt. 1863 in West Virginia. They had a son William L. Thayer, 26 May 1890. Mattie died less than five months later on October 4, 1890. “Willie” was raised by Mattie’s family, and eventually moved to Los Angeles, California changing his name to Stansberry.
On 12 November 1891 Freeman married for the third time to Grace Agnes Ostrander (1873-1934) in Granite Falls, Yellow Medicine County, Minnesota and settled in Montevideo, Chippewa County. She was the daughter of Oscar Ostrander (1849-1902) and Anna Mary Kent (1846-1928). They had 7 sons; Elwin Freeman Thayer, 1893-1970; Leon “Vern” Thayer, 1894-1977; Roa Burton “Roy” Thayer, 1896-1977; Percy D. Thayer, 1899-1975; and Dean G. Thayer, 1901-1937; Roy Dewitt Thayer, b/d 1903; and baby boy Thayer, b/d 1908.
About 1899 the family moved to Rushseba twp, Chisago Co, Minnesota, along with Grace’s parents. Rushseba was right near the Pine County and Chisago County line. Fred and Lena Thayer were living in Clover twp, Pine Co, MN. Fred was Freeman’s third son who was only 4 years younger than Grace. There was a big age difference with Freeman and Grace. She was only 18 when she married 46 year old Freeman. Grace was younger than his first two sons, Walter and Ernest. The 28 year age difference may have lead to their separation in 1909 and their divorce on December 9, 1910 in St. Paul.
PINE COUNTY, MINNESOTA
Freeman Thayer moved to Ogema twp in 1911 were his son Fred and daughter in-law, Lena had purchased 160 acres in T.44 R.17, section 15. Lake Lena bordering their land was named after her.
By 1916, Freeman and his son Elwin had purchased property in Ogema twp, T.44 R.17. Freeman had 120 acres in section 12 and Elwin had 80 acres in section 13. Freeman and Elwin built a farmhouse and barn, and began to farm and raise milk cows.
Elwin enlisted in the US Army in 1918, and was in the 4th Anti Air Craft Machine gun Battalion, during WWI. He was honorably discharged in 1919 after having served in Brest, France.
Elwin married Vera C. Cornwall (1901-1989) in Hinckley, Pine Co, Minnesota on 1 December 1924. Vera was from Danbury, Burnett Co, Wisconsin daughter of Archibald Cornwall (1877-1961) and Ella Burgert (1877-1966). He brought her home to the farm in Ogema and together they worked the farm and raised their children Wayne, LaVonne, Basil and Diane. Vera was such a hard worker that it was said she lost a baby boy, Bruce, a baby girl, Shirley and a set of twins to premature births. One son, Ronald, died at 1 week old of crib death in 1941.
On August 5, 1927, Freeman Thayer went out to tend the farm animals when his enraged bull charged at him, knocking him over and trampling him. Four days later, surrounded by most of his children and ex wife, Grace, he died in his bed at the farm from internal injuries. He was 82. Freeman Thayer is buried at the Ogema ‘Bangs Brook’ Cemetery, in Ogema twp, Pine County, Minnesota.
In 1928, Grace (Ostrander) Thayer married a Norwegian widower with 10 children. John Dokka was 8 years younger than Grace. They are found on the 1930 census living in St. Paul with his 5 youngest children. Grace died four years later of complications from some medications she was taking for high blood pressure. She is buried next to her father in Rush City at the William Taylor Cemetery. Her gravestone has her name as Grace Thayer.
Elwin Thayer was a strong, handsome, God fearing man with many gifted talents. He delighted his wife Vera with a wind generator that brought them running water, electricity and the first radio in the area. He became known for miles around as “Daddy Al”. They also had the first piano. Many a nights their home became the meeting place for fun and entertainment.
Vera had the gift of hospitality. She was famous for her cooking and delicious baked breads and desserts. If you came near her kitchen, she’d sit you down in front of one of her full course meals which made you want to come back for more. But it didn’t end there. Vera was also known for her reminiscent storytelling. She would have everyone laughing as she humorously wove in interesting details of people, animals and events. She was an avid letter writer and by the time of her death in 1989 she had written a number of journals detailing her life.
In the fall of 1937 Elwin and Vera purchased property on Hwy 77 on the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix River. Elwin built a building with living quarters and they opened the Interstate Park and Café. The business provided bait and parking for fisherman, lunches, beverages, Juke Box and piano music for a night of dancing. They also were the only place you could purchase gasoline (Diamond X) for miles around.
Over the years, Elwin and Vera helped many families and children in the area with gifts of food and clothing. They also raised 3 additional children, Dorothy, Raymond and (Vera) Pauline Thayer, whose Ojibwa mother, Julia Reynolds (1913-1938), died at age 25 leaving the young children on the Ogema reservation located on the St. Croix River. Their father, Chester Thayer, was a ½ nephew of Elwin’s. Chester’s father was Walter, a son from Freeman’s first marriage. Elwin and Vera brought the children to their home and raised them as their own.
Today, the Interstate Park and Café is gone, but the memories still linger on. On Highway 77, just over the St. Croix River from Pine County in Wisconsin, is Thayer’s Landing. It marks one of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway Canoe launches. Thayer’s Landing was named in honor of Elwin Freeman Thayer and his family who were one of the first settlers in Ogema twp, Pine Co, Minnesota and Swiss twp, Burnett Co, Wisconsin.