Saturday, June 25, 2016

David West (1758 – after 1826) Part 3: 1818 – after 1826

Compiled by Joy Ikelman, June 2016. All disclaimers apply.

David West (1758 – after 1826)
Part 3: 1818 – after 1826

Summary:  David West is the ancestor of one of our West DNA Family Group #5 participants. This article addresses David West’s life between the years of 1818 to 1826, when he was last mentioned in Quaker records. He probably died before the 1830 Census. It is likely that Susannah West preceded him in death. David and Susannah’s sons were Benjamin, Abraham, Jacob, and Levi.

Note: Quaker customs, terminology, and record-keeping are unique. Please refer to Understanding Quaker Records on this blog site for more information.

Land in Batavia Township, Genesee County, NY
By the end of 1817, Wests from this family had moved from Prince Edward County, Upper Canada (Ontario), to Genesee County, in western New York. [1] This relocation is consistent with the Society of Friends’ “Western Movement.” [2]

On 06 Jul 1818, David West and son Benjamin acquired land from the Holland Land Company in Batavia, New York. They co-signed on lots 10, 12, and 14 in Township 13, Range 2, Section 7. [3] On 12 May 1820, Abraham selected a lot nearby—lot 3, Township 13, Range 2, Section 3. [4] These lots were generally 120 to 320 acres. [5] A map from 1814 shows that the lots were in the northern part of Batavia Township—later called Elba. [6] If a settler paid for the land upfront, he would receive the title. Most settlers (including the Wests) made a down payment, and then signed “Articles of Agreement” (contracts) that specified a period of time in which payment would be made. [7]

U.S. Census of 1820, Elba, Genesee County, New York
In the 1820 Federal Census, all four brothers—Benjamin, Abraham, Jacob, and Levi—were listed with their father in Elba. [8] The position of their names on the list directly correlates with the location of the lots. Abraham’s name is set apart from the others, just as his lot was set apart.

David West’s record lists one male 45 and over (David, 62), one female 45 and over (Susannah, 65), and a male aged 16 to 25. This could possibly be another son, but there is no indication (from data) for this. It is more likely that David had someone helping him to maintain his farm, or a boarder.

The census information for the four brothers matches what we know about their families in 1820. Abraham’s record shows no female in his age group. This validates that his first wife, Mary, died by 1820. He would marry again in 1822. [9] It also appears that Abraham has a young married couple with a child living with him, plus his two young children.

Portion of the 1820 Federal Census of Elba, Genesee County,
New York, showing David West and his four sons.

David West is Disowned from Hartland Monthly Meeting
On 18 May 1826, David West was disowned from Hartland Monthly Meeting. [10] This is the last Quaker minute that I could find for him. In 1819, David and Susannah had become members of this Meeting. [11] By 1826, David was probably a widower. In the same month of 1826, Abraham and his family had moved to Logan (Adrian Township), Michigan Territory. [12] Benjamin and Levi and their families were living in Norwich, Oxford County, Upper Canada. [13] I could not find the location of Jacob.

It is possible that David West expressed viewpoints that were not in line with his Meeting’s doctrines. The original minute book would describe the circumstances of the disownment. I only had access to the index from the Friends Historical Library (Swarthmore College). In general, a disowned Friend would not be kicked out of the Meeting forever. A properly written apology and consideration by committee could cancel the action. [14]

In the mid-1820s, the Society of Friends was in turmoil over changing beliefs. These changes began at least a decade before, as soon as the Society of Friends’ Western Movement began. The Friends were living in a new environment that required cooperation with non-Quakers. Quakers could no longer maintain the same level of separation from the world as before. [15] In 1828, the Society of Friends split into two groups—Orthodox and Hicksite.

Estimating a Date of Death for David West
It is likely that David West died before 1830. David West did not appear on the 1830 Federal Census. Tombstones for Susannah and David have not been located. During this era it was unusual for a Friend to be remembered with a tombstone. [16] Also, Quaker minutes generally did not mention the death of members.

The data from the Elba land records may give us an estimated date. The Holland Land Company retained titles on the land that was “purchased” until full payment was made. [17] The Company could withdraw a settler’s land at any time and resell it to someone else. This was called a “reversion.” [18] Reversions usually occurred when there was no activity on an account—generally meaning that the settler had left the area.

In about 1827, Abraham West’s land reverted back to the Holland Land Company. [19] This is probably because he left for Adrian, Michigan in 1826. In 1830, Lots 10, 12, and 14—the lots that were co-purchased by David West and Benjamin—reverted back to the Company. [20] Benjamin West’s name is recorded in the reversion list. David West’s name was not recorded.

At the time that Benjamin’s land reverted, he and Levi had been living in Norwich (Upper Canada) for eight years. It is my theory that David West lived on the Elba land until his death. Benjamin allowed reversion to occur in 1830 as he had no more reason to make payments on the land.

The Rest of the Story
As I worked on this project about David West, I discovered a lot of information about his sons Benjamin, Abraham, Jacob, and Levi. Much of it is online, for free. If you are researching this West branch, check local, State, and Federal records. Check the Canada Archives. Examine Quaker minutes in the United States and Canada. [21]

During the 1840s, the four brothers lived in Michigan—another stopping place of the Society of Friends’ Western Movement. In the 1840 Federal Census, Abraham, Jacob, Levi were counted in Lenawee County, Michigan. [22] Benjamin returned to the United States from Canada in 1845. [23] The 1845 Michigan Census lists Benjamin, Abraham, and Jacob in Lenawee County. [24] Abraham and Jacob lived in Adrian, and Benjamin lived in Raisin. Levi was not listed in the Michigan Census, but he lived in Raisin. [25] All the brothers were together once more, at least for a little while.

References and Additional Notes
West Family DNA group results are at

1. Please refer to Part 2 of this series on David West. It is likely that Jacob West moved from Greene County, NY, to Genesee County, NY.
2. Arthur Garratt Dorland, 1927: A History of the Society of Friends (Quakers) in Canada, The MacMillan Company of Canada Limited, Toronto. “Chapter 3: The American Background of the Quaker Migration to Canada,” p. 42-62.
3. Karen E. Livsey, 1991: Western New York Land Transactions, 1804-1824, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland, p. 194.  At; accessed Mar 2016. The type of transaction is listed as “O.” This means David and Benjamin were the original owners of this particular property.
4. Livsey, 1991, p. 246. The transaction is listed as “W.” This means that Abraham West was probably assuming a contract from a previous owner.
5. Robert Silsby, 1961: “The Holland Land Company in Western New York,” Adventures in Western New York History, Volume VIII, The Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, Buffalo, New York, p. 3.
6. Map of Genesee with Townships in Counties and Inhabitants, 1814. Holland Land Company Maps, Archives of the Holland Land Company, 1789-1869. State University of New York, Fredonia, NY. At; accessed Mar 2016.
7. Livsey, 1991, p. viii.
8. Census of 1820, Elba, Genesee County, New York. Records of the Bureau of the Census, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
9. Hartland Monthly Meeting of Friends: Men’s Minutes 1821-1833, H393, Volume 3.3, p. 18. Swarthmore College, Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore, PA. Abraham West of Elba, son of David and Susannah; Anna French, daughter of Elijah and Tabby French, married 20 of 12 m 1822.
10. Hartland Monthly Meeting of Friends (Orthodox), Men’s Minutes 1821-1833, H393, Volume 1.1, p. 129.
11. Farmington Monthly Meeting of Friends (Orthodox), 1803-1997: Men’s and Joint Meetings, F335, Volume 1.3, 1816-1821, p. 94 and 109. Swarthmore College, Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore, PA. Susannah and David are mentioned separately in two minutes. Hartland Monthly Meeting was created from a portion of Farmington Monthly Meeting.
12. W.A. Whitney, 1880: Historic and Biographical Record of Lenawee County, Michigan, Volume 1, W. Stearns & Co., Adrian, MI, p. 102. Abraham (“Abram”) West was one of the first settlers of Adrian, Lenawee County, Michigan.
13. This is indicated by Benjamin and Levi’s membership transfers to Norwich Monthly Meeting, and various excerpts from the minutes of that Meeting.
14. J. William Frost, 1973: The Quaker Family in Colonial America: A Portrait of the Society of Friends, St. Martin’s Press, NY, p. 55. “The excommunicated could still regard himself as a Quaker. . . If the evildoer repented, he had to make formal acknowledgment, either orally or, more often, in writing, before the Monthly Meeting.”
15. Please refer to Part 2 to read about the changes that were occurring during David West’s years in Canada.
16. Frost, p. 43.  Up to the early 1800s, “Friends permitted no marker of any kind on the grave, but since having a tombstone was not a disownable offense, some appeared.”
17. Silsby, p. 6.
18. Livsey, 1991, p. xiv.
19. Karen E. Livsey, 1996: Western New York Land Transactions, 1825-1835, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland, p. 73. At; accessed Mar 2016.
20. Livsey, 1996, p. 283.
21. The West sons are mentioned in various Monthly Meeting minutes. Here are some of the Monthly Meetings you should check: Oblong (NY); Nine Partners (NY); any other Meetings in Dutchess County (NY); Farmington (NY); Hartland (NY); Adolphustown (ONT); West Lake (ONT); Norwich (ONT); Adrian (MI); Raisin (MI); and, Red Cedar (IA).
22. Census of 1840, Lenawee County, New York. Records of the Bureau of the Census, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
23. Norwich Monthly Meeting Minutes, found in Canadian Yearly Meeting Archives, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, on Accessed Apr 2016. The minute is on page 38 and 39 of the file called Cemetery Records, 1847-1930, which is actually a compilation of various documents. Benjamin West had been member of Norwich Monthly Meeting for more than 30 years. This is a transcript of his certificate of transfer:

      To the Raisin Monthly Meeting of Friends, Michigan.
Dear Friends. Benjamin West having removed and settled within the compass of your Meeting       requests our certificate: this is to certify that he is a member of our religious Society and settled his temporal concerns to satisfaction as far as appears, as such we recommend him to your Christian care and remain your Friends.

Signed in and on behalf of Norwich Monthly Meeting of Friends (Canada) held 9th of 4th Mo. 1845.
Signed John Palmer, Frederick Stover, correspondent. Clerk for the day.

24. Michigan State Census Records, 1827-1874. 1845 Census of Michigan, Lenawee County. Originals are archived at the University of Michigan. Images are available at Seeking Michigan, Accessed Mar 2016.
25. “Business Notes, 1799-1840s.” Part of the collection of E.H. Marion Crock of Bloomfield, Ontario. Archived at Pickering College, Newmarket, Ontario. Information used with permission of Canadian Quaker Archives and Randy Saylor, project coordinator. Image 1-6: 17, 18 transcribed by Doug Smith. In a letter dated 3 Mar 1847, Mary Jennings of Raisin, MI, wrote to Stephen Bowerman: “Levi & Nancy live within one quarter of a mile of us. They and their family are all pretty well.” Mary (Bowerman White) Jennings was the mother-in-law of Levi West.

Many thanks to Lorelle VanFossen for her genealogical work. VanFossen is a descendant of Levi West. To see her compilation of the descendants of David West, go to: