Stories of my Ancestors

We have lots of interesting ancestors that mostly came from what is now the UK and Europe. Some were even the English Kings so we are related to a lot of people with titles.  There are even several native american families in my husband's ancestry. There are some famous ministers and a few outlaws and TONS of pioneers.  I make no attempt to  judge the  people below, although many of the good ones I greatly admire.

Erastus Darias Baker , my great-great grandfather, was apparently a man who loved the Lord and Sunday peace and quiet.  He also had quite a temper.  My great-grandfather George Alfred Baker loved to play the fiddle.  When George was playing one day on the Sabbath, Erastus took the fiddle and smashed it!  His wife, Jane Louden Christy Baker was furious!  Over the next while (I don't really know how long) she scrimped and saved for a new one.  She purchased one made in France in the 1880's.  She made a lamb's wool bag with his embroidered initials on it so the instrument wouldn't "catch cold".  She wanted it to always have a  sweet voice.  It is still in the family and makes quite a lovely sound.

Japhet Chapin , b. 16 Mar 1697, and his second wife Lydia Belding were interesting. This is from Orange Chapin's book CHAPIN GENEALOGY, Printed by Metcalf and Co., 1862.  "When Japhet was 82 and his wife, Lydia, was 80, they made a journey on horsebback (on separate horses) from their residence on Chicopee St. to Northfield, a distance of more than 50 miles in one day, and it is said that they sat as erect upon their horses as young people. Japhet was a man of very punctual habits.  For instance, if any visitors came to see him and had a team with them, after passing the usual salutations, he would inquire when they would leave; they might appoint the time when they chose, and at the appointed hour, whithout any further conversation about it, their team was brought to the door in readiness for them to start home."  (Why didn't I get the punctuality genes?)

Deacon Samuel Chapin, was one of the very first settlers in Springfield, Massachusetts.  There is currently a statue of him in the town square in Springfield, Massachusetts .  He had a very large family.  Books were hard to come by then.  When he died, he had land sold to make sure that each of his children received a family Bible!  This information came from Orange Chapin's book CHAPIN GENEALOGY, Printed by Metcalf and Co., 1862.

Joseph K. Christy ,  (b. abt 1823) is one of the most colorful figures in the database.  My great-aunts claim that Uncle Joe Christy was a horse thief.  I prefer to call him an entrepreneur.  (You'll want to check out the notes for all the Christy's, especially Joseph K. Christy's brother George Washington Christy & his sister Emily Marilda Christy.)  The Christy's had moved to Missouri around 1850.  They were from Kentucky and their family had owned slaves for generations.  My guess is that one of the reasons they moved there was to help insure that Missouri would be a slave state.  When the time came for the Civil War, Julius his brother fought.  George W. didn't fight but aided and abetted the Southerners every chance he got by procuring medicines and even hiding his brother Julius under the porch while the Union soldiers were looking for him.  Joseph is said to have taken a different approach.  It is said that he would steal horses from the North and sell them to the South.  Then he would steal horses fromt he South and sell them to the North.  One night both sides just about caught up with him and he is supposed to have swum the Mississippi a couple of times trying to evade them.  The story of him only gets better.  The following is written by his grandson, Ralph Christy.

"Then Joseph, John & Edwin went to St. Louis, got a job on a steamboat on the Missouri River; worked for board & passage to Independence, Mo.; joined a wagon train and walked to California.  During that trip they were attacked by Indians several times.

"They found gold - came home on a ship around South america to New England, to Chicago & Peoria by train; then on to N. E. Mo., Revere, where Washington and Daniel had settled.  John & Edwin went to Kansas.  Joseph took wis wife & son to Illinois, Hancock Co., where he settled. . . . . The trip to California took 4 years; 1 to go & 1 to get home.

"Joseph Christy:  a Civil War veteran - Rebel."

Chesserton John Gillman , b. 10 May 1780, was part of the ill-fated Willie Handcart company of Mormon Pioneers.  Unlike the Donner Party who resorted to cannabalism when they were trapped by snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies, just endured, froze, starved and many died.  When word got out that these companies were trapped on a high Wyoming plateau, Brigham Young promptly dismissed a General Conference of the church.  He told its members told to rush home and gather blankets, food, and whatever they could to aid rescue parties.  They were also to make rooms in their homes to nurse the starving and frozen party.  The story is a very compelling one.  However, our Chesserton John Gillman, about 76 years old,  died 2 days before the rescue parties arrived. He was trying to pave the way for his family to come later. Because of their faith and convictions, they did come later in spite of the fate of their father.  For more information on this even you might want to visit  and click on Willie Company in the upper right-hand corner.

Jacob Cassady or Helvy , The family story on Jacob went like this.  "Jacob Helvy was originally born as a Cassaday or Halladay.  They  lived in Inez, Martin Co., Kentucky.  When he was grown up, he shot a man.  Jacob's brother Philip was the sherrif and told Jacob that  if he wanted to avoid going to jail he better change his name and get out of town.  He took his wife's maiden name and moved west.  She was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian.  For many years they lived on a riverboat that travelled between southern Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee.  Great grandfather Ulysses Grant Helvy was born on the Riverboat with his twin brother Philip."  This was all we had to go on.

It has turned out that portions of the story are true, but researching Jacob was a nightmare. I went to look in census indexes at the Salt Lake family history center and came up with only one 1860 census and that was 6 years before our great grandfather U. G. Helvy was born.  Jacob and family moved so much that finding him is still very difficult.  The Helvey Research Group was instrumental in helping us figure Jacob out.  Kenneth L. Dyer and John Mitchell in particular deserve special thanks.  When I sent for Ulysses Grant Helvy's death certificate, it named his parents as Jacob Helvy and Mary Price.  I had looked in Martin Co., Kentucky and there weren't Hallidays but there were Cassaday's or Cassady's.  I even found a Phillip Cassady.  I guessed that if Jacob didn't take his wife's maiden name, maybe he took his mother's maiden name. (If you couldn't have your dad's name anymore whose would you take?)   I wrote to the Helvey Research Group looking for a Cassaday  married to a Helvy who had sons named Jacob & Philip.

I hit paydirt!  They knew that Jacob Cassady had married a Mary Price.  Jacob had killed someone and they moved west to Arkansas.  They didn't know abou the name change.  Jacob Cassady did have a brother named Philip.  The altercation, though,  apparently happened in southern Ohio.  I now have several more generations of this family.  We still have much to research on this family, but what a tremendous breakthough!  Many thanks to those at the Helvey Research Group that were an invaluable help to us!  I don't know that we could have figured this out without them and the invaluable help of ROOTSWEB!

Sarah Pease (Scalawag or Victim?) was accused of being a witch in Salem, Massachusetts.She is not a direct-line ancestor but is instead a sister-in-law to our John Pease married to Mary Goodale and Ann Cummings. You can better see the relationship by going to the Pease family Homepage listed in the Favorite Links section.  Here is the direct link to a page on Sarah herself and her story.  I found it very interesting.

Russel Riggs (My hero!) Grandad was a cowboy!  When I knew him he was a dairy farmer.  One day as I was doing a verbal family history interview he was describing his job as foreman for a ranch man who had sheep  and cattle camps scattered all over the mountains of southern Idaho and northern Utah.   I exclaimed, "Grandad you were a COWBOY!"  With a glint in his eye he replied, "I s'pose you could say that."  I suppose he is more of a modern sort, but I'll always think of him dressed that way.  (If you want to see that family "glint" go to  This is my grandfather [second from the left in the back row] and his family.  He doesn't show the "glint" here but his dad and two sisters sure do!  Grandad could look just like that too.)

He wore a sweaty old cowboy hat and he always wore cowboy boots.  He had chaps and he was bow-legged.  Since the shepherds couldn't leave their camps, someone had to go around and check on them.  For 20 years my grandfather rode out and around in a circuit between Murtaugh, Idaho and almost down to Logan, Utah.  He told wonderful stories about seeing wildlife such as the mother cougar who was dragging off her prey of a big deer or antelope.

The story I like best though is when his horse saved his life.  He was caught in a terrible fog and they were lost.  He said he didn't know where he was and he didn't think the horse knew anymore either.  Then the horse started neighing.  From very far off in the distance they heard a faint whinying.  Grandad's horse whinnied back.  The two horses kept talking until the lost horse and rider were back at camp.  (I'm afraid I can't tell it like he could.)

Joseph Preston Yadon (Patriot or Traitor?) was born in County Down in Ireland. When he was 12 someone in his family died, and it upset him so much he ran away from home. Later, he came by boat to the new American Colonies and fought with General Burgoyne in the Revolutionary War on the side of the British. He was only 18 years old when he played the drum in the fife and drum corps under General Burgoyne. When General Burgoyne's troops were captured, so was Joseph Yadon. The conditions in the prisons at that time were horrible. The prisoners were given very little food. Some died of diseases or starved to death. Joseph was young and wanted to live. When the independent Americans told the prisoners they could be free if they changed sides and fought for the Americans, Joseph did. Now he was a drum major for the Americans. His friend, by the name of Pennybaker, played a  fife. Even though Conrad died, Joseph Yadon got to be friends with the Pennybaker family. [I hope I don't have this story wrong.  I can't find Conrad in my database.  However there are so many spellings of Pennybaker, I may have just missed it.  If you can straigten me out, please do.]  Conrad had a pretty red-headed sister that Joseph married and settled down with after the war. He lived in Tennessee in his later life. He actually inherited a large fortune in Ireland, but couldn't go back to get it because he would have been hanged for being a traitor to the British cause. In America, he is honored because of his service to his country during the Revolution. There is a book about him and his descendants.  [YADON - PENNYBAKER Family History, Compiled by Betty Jo Weaver Windel, 1990 (Printed by HP Publishing --She says she has 35 left.  Contact me if you want her email address.  LOVELY BOOK!]

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Monday, 12-Apr-2004 09:34:12 MDT