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Histories & Mysteries


Volume I, Number 1--June 1985


"Dear Bissell Researcher"..................................................................................2-4

It Didn't All Begin with Captain John!..................................................................4-6

"New Maiden Names for Old!"--The Strange Case of Catherine Goulais Bissell Ely......6-7


CONNECTICUT CONNECTIONS: The Bissells of Howard County, Arkansas................9-16

Vital Statistics for Families of John and Henry Bissell of Howard County, Arkansas..16-17

Queries (Pierce B. Bissell and Frederick L. A. Bissell)..............................................18

RHODE ISLAND ROUNDUP: The Bissells of Yates County, New York......................18-21

Bissell Research Directory..........................................................................................................22

[Notes to readers of Internet edition: pagination does not coincide with that of original printed version. Minimal corrections and deletions have been made in brackets to eliminate false and misleading information.]

Published Quarterly by the Eldon Bissell Memorial Association
[1999: now at P.O. Box 5193, Orange, CA 92863]
Edited by Roger Bissell, Copyright 1985, 1999

"Dear Bissell Researcher"

This is the first issue of a newsletter dedicated to filling in the gaps in Bissell family history.

As many of you know, one of the finest research tools we have for tracing our Bissell roots is Edward P. Jones' monumental work (now out of print), Genealogy of the Descendants of John Bissell of Windsor, Connecticut by 1640.

Yet, although it lists several thousands of Captain John's descendants -- as well as a related line of Bissells who settled in Rhode Island later in the 1600s -- the Jones book still leaves many loose ends dangling. (I should know -- I'm one of them!)

Some of us Bissell researchers have chosen to continue where Jones left off, correcting the errors and omissions of his wonderful book, while adding on later generations as they are discovered.

Three good examples of this are: The Descendants of Captain John Bissell: the First Five Generations by Pelham St. George Bissell III; The Descendants and Ancestors of Morgan Bissell (which covers the line David, Ozias II, Capt. Ozias I, John, John, Samuel, Capt. John) by Elton Harry Bissell; and Limited Continuation of the Bissell Genealogy (which covers the line Benjamin C., John, Thomas, Capt. John) by Freeman E. Morgan, Jr.

These are heroic efforts; and, hopefully, there will be more to come. Nevertheless, as Freeman Morgan is reported to have said, it's not likely that we will ever see the day when all twelve generations (down to the present day) are identified.

Others among us merely want to try to attach our family's line to one of the Connecticut or Rhode Island families. When my father and I began our research eight years ago, this was our goal. My great-great-grandfather, Pierce B. Bissell, was born about 1816, supposedly in Michigan, and lived in Rock Island County, Illinois (with a brief sojourn in Will County) from about 1839 to 1870, when he died. At this writing, we still have not been able to link Pierce Bissell with either of the two main Bissell families.

Whichever group you belong to -- the bottom-uppers or the top-downers -- this newsletter is designed with you in mind. Hopefully, all of you will find it helpful at some point or other -- and interesting even when it doesn't touch on your particular line of research.

In each issue, we intend to present at least one solved mystery, along with some unsolved ones which have researchers stymied. And if a particular solution doesn't resolve your problem, take heart! That's one less line of research for you to pursue.

Naturally, we hope you will take part in this newsletter, too. You may have the critical suggestion or piece of information that would solve someone else's puzzle. Or you may have reached a roadblock in your own research. So, whatever the case, please feel free to share your problems or solutions (or both) with us!

Now, I admit this newsletter is a labor of love. But it also costs money to make and send to each of you! So, here is what I ask: if you like the newsletter and want to keep getting it, please send a check for [1999: now $10.00] to the Eldon K. Bissell Memorial Fund. If you don't want to receive it, just let us know. In either case, you can use the enclosed envelope.

What will you get for your [$10.00]? Well, the newsletter will be published about once every three months, and it will contain probably about 20 pages of material each issue -- more, once we start getting letters to the editor and other material from our readers. (Speaking of which, please indicate in your letters if you do not want them to be published or yourself identified as the writer).

We will definitely publish at least one year's worth of BissellHistories and Mysteries, because there is already enough material for four juicy issues. The more help we get from you readers, the longer we can keep it going. So, please send us your questions, your answers -- and your money! Thank you!

[signed]Roger Bissell
[1999: P.O. Box 5193
Orange, CA 92863

P.S. -- No doubt, some of you will want to correspond with each other about your research, while others may not. So, in the Bissell Research Directory (a regular feature of the newsletter), I'll list every subscriber's name and the line they're interested in, but I'll only list addresses for the ones who give me permission. (For that reason, our Directory in this issue contains no addresses.) That way, you don't have to get letters from every Tom, Dick, or Captain John, if you don't want to. Between now and when you let us know what to put in the next Directory, if someone wants to contact you badly enough, they can just send the letter to use, and we'll forward it. That way, you can get all the mail they want to send you, without them being able to abuse your address (like, by putting you on various other mailing lists without your consent). So, remember: it's your choice about whether your address will be listed in the Directory. Just let us know.

P.P.S. -- Although some of you have corresponded with me or my father, Eldon K. Bissell, in the past, others may not know anything about us. My father, who passed away last September, was a retired farmer. His widow, Deloris Bissell, still lives in Atlantic, Iowa; and my sister, Julie Bissell Tupker, lives with her family in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I'm a professional musician here in Nashville, where I live with my wife and three small children [1999: Orange, CA, different wife, another small child!]. In addition to editing this newsletter, I'm currently putting the finishing touches on our book, The Bissells of Barstow: a Genealogy of Pierce and Sarah Bissell, which Dad and I worked on for nearly seven years. It's scheduled for publication this fall [1999: Part I published in 1991]. Professional genealogists, we're not -- but we always tried to make up for it with energy and enthusiasm.

It Didn't All Begin with Captain John!

by Roger Bissell

Even if you're lucky enough to have a copy of the 1939 Edward Payson Jones book (now out of print), Genealogy of the Descendants of John Bissell of Windsor, Connecticut by 1640, to help you in your research, you may spend a lot of time staring at it in vain!

First of all, the version published by Roderick Bissell Jones (E. P. Jones' son) omits the original appendix containing the Rhode Island Bissells, who were found not to be descendants of Captain John. Instead, they descend from another branch whose founder came over from England in the late 1600s.

So, if you want to find out about the Rhode Island Bissell line, you have to send to Salt Lake City for the L.D.S. microfilm and read it at your friendly neighborhood branch library of the Mormon Church. Or, if you're lucky, a fellow researcher who has already done this and ordered a copy of the Rhode Island appendix, will send you one, too.

Secondly, Roderick Jones also omitted an appendix chockfull of "Unidentified Bissell." Some of these hook into a Captain John line, while others hook into a Rhode Island line, and still others may be from even later immigrant Bissell lines.

From time to time, I have discovered where some of these unidentified Bissells fit into the "Big Picture," and I'm convinced that they are the missing links for some of our readers, too. Yet, by omitting them, Roderick Jones made it tougher for the Bissell researcher. Again, it's back to the L.D.S. microfilms -- or a friendly fellow Bissell genealogist.

Third, even if all the Rhode Island and Connecticut lines were traced completely down to the present, some Bissell families would not be included! The Bissells of Oak Ridge, Tennessee (Alvin, mayor, and his son, Keith, Public Service Commissioner) descend from a line of Bissells who came over directly from Alsace-Loraine in the early 1800s. [2002 Note: This information is not correct! Relatives of Alvin and Keith Bissell inform us that they are descendants of Titus Lucretius Bissell of Simsbury, Connecticut, through his son Edward Hamilton Bissell of Gaston County, North Carolina. Thanks to Edd Bissell of New Market, Tennessee for this corrected information. A detailed web page on this family will be uploaded sometime during 2003.] (Two more examples: Thomas Bissell of Ireland in the 1850 McKean County, Pennsylvania census; and Benjamin Bissell of Scotland in the 1850 Kent County, Michigan census.)

Even before 1800, there were immigrant Bissells not of the Captain John or Rhode Island lines. John Bissell came to Virginia in 1645, as did Francis Bissell in 1651 and Thomas Bissell around 1663- 1679. A John Bissell came to West New Jersey in 1664. And Thomas and John Bissell came to Philadelphia in 1774 and 1786, respectively. (And how many others were there who were not listed in immigrant records?)

With the possible exception of the Philadelphia immigrants, none of these are descended from either the Captain John or Rhode Island lines. They are cousins related from further up the family tree. And if you are descended from one of them, you won't find your roots in E. P. Jones' book. (It's one of my recurring nightmares that this might be true for my own ancestry!)

And fourth, if that's not enough, consider the bizarre case of Catherine Bissell in the article following this. Even if her case is totally unique, however, it should be abundantly clear by now that it didn't all begin with Captain John!

"New Maiden Names for Old!"
The Strange Case of Catherine Goulais Bissell Ely

by Roger Bissell

As some of you know, census records show no Bissells in Michigan before 1830 and only one Bissell (Theodore) in 1830, whose children were all shown as being under 10 years of age. Yet, big as life, there was a Catherine Bissell (sometimes referred to as Catherine Goulais), born 1817 in Michigan, mentioned in the early records of Minnesota. (I stumbled across her existence while trying to uncover the roots of my great-great-grandfather, Pierce Bissell, born 1816 or 1817, supposedly in Michigan.)

In volume 6 of Minnesota Historical Quarterly Magazine, we read that Reverend E. M. Ely married Miss Catherine Bissell of the Mackinaw Mission on August 30, 1835. Her maiden name was Goulais, and she was of mixed blood (p. 351). And in volume 8, we read that Catherine Bissell Ely was born November 25, 1817 and was educated at the Mackinac Mission (p. 247).

In volume VI, part 2 (1891) of Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, we find that Mr. Ely of Fond du Lac (now part of Duluth) was married to Miss Bissell of Mackinaw (p. 123). And in volume IX (1900), we find that Edmund Franklin Ely (1809-1882) was a pioneer teacher and missionary at Fond du Lac who was married in 1835 to Miss Catherine Goulais, one of a group of reinforcement teachers from Mackinac (pp. 246-7).

Question: if her maiden name was Goulais, how could she be called Miss Bissell? Answer: Bissell was her maiden name, too!

As a researcher with the Mackinac Island State Park Commission told us in a letter several years ago:

        For some time, I have been researching the Mackinaw Mission. Catharine Bissell is one of many interesting persons connected with the mission.

        She was born on 25 November 1817 at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Her father was a French Canadian whose surname was Goulais. Her mother was a half-blood Chippewa Indian who drowned near Mackinac in 1827. In 1824, she entered the mission and remained until she moved to LaPointe on Madeline Island (Wisconsin) where she married Edmund F. Ely on 30 August 1835. Reverend William T. Boutwell performed the marriage. Catherine had two children: Mary Wright Ely born on 29 May 1836 and Delia Cooke Ely, born on 28 February 1838.

        Catherine received the name 'Catherine Bissell' while at the Mission. It was common practice for Easterners who supported children in missions to be able to give them Anglicized names. She was named after Josiah Bissell Jr. of Rochester, New York. [emphasis added]

Aha! Now we're getting somewhere. Catherine Goulais was sort-of-adopted by Josiah Bissell Jr. of Rochester, New York.

Referring to the Jones book, we find that Josiah Bissell III (1757-1822) died in Rochester. Among his children were Richard (b. 1796) and Josiah Wolcott IV (b . 1790). One of Josiah IV's children was a daughter Catherine who was born in 1821 and died in 1822. Isn't it obvious that this is the infant daughter after whom Josiah ("Junior") IV named Catherine Goulas upon becoming her sponsor?

(As a footnote to this, I wonder if Pierce B. Bissell might have been "adopted" by the same process and was never a Bissell to begin with. There is some hint of Indian blood on Pierce's mother's side, and his older son's name was Richard, as was Josiah IV's brother! Or, perhaps he might have been Richard's son.)

Introduction to

by Roger Bissell

When my father and I were investigating our Bissell ancestry several years ago, he contacted many Bissell researchers who were listed in various genealogy magazines and services. We were hoping to find, somewhere among the many "Lost Tribes" of Bissells, a common thread that would lead us to the unknown ancestors of my great-great-grandfather, Pierce B. Bissell

We have yet to solve our own puzzle, but the wealth of information we gathered has enabled us to identify the ancestry of a number of other Bissell families. Part of the reason for this newsletter is to share all of this data and thereby save others from having to go through the same process and "re-invent the wheel," so to speak.

The following articles are the first installments of two regular features of this newsletter. In them, we hope to connect people to their Connecticut and Rhode Island roots -- and in so doing, to greatly enrich the reach of the E. P. Jones genealogy. Perhaps someday it will be collected together in a new Bissell family history. For the present, we will be satisfied that others find it useful and enjoyable.

The Bissells of Howard County, Arkansas

by Roger Bissell

One of the more intriguing research projects my father and I have worked on is the genealogy of the Arkansas Bissells who lived from about 1860 on down to the present in Howard County in southwestern Arkansas. My father learned from some of their descendants that their line traced back to a Henry Bissell born in 1838, whose father (supposedly also named Henry) was a pioneer settler of Springfield, Illinois, who died later during the Gold Rush. His widow was said to have returned to Illinois to reclaim their homestead, only to find that the city of Springfield had grown up around it and that their claim was no longer recognized!

Our first step was a trip to the Tennessee State Library and Archives. The Blackwood Township, Howard County, Arkansas census of 1880 showed two families of Bissells living there:

Henry, 42, born Louisiana, father born CT, mother born NY
Lucinda E., 30, born Alabama, father born AL, mother born AL
Lucettia E., 15, born Arkansas, father born LA, mother born AR
William S., 14, born Arkansas, father born LA, mother born AR
Henry Custer, 13, born Arkansas, father born LA, mother born AR
Thomas J., 9, born Arkansas, father born LA, mother born AL
Mary A., 7, born Arkansas, father born LA, mother born AL
Sarah E., 5, born Arkansas, father born LA, mother born AL
Martha M., 3, born Arkansas, father born LA, mother born AL
Dora, 7/12, born Arkansas, father born LA, mother born AL

John, 44, born Illinois, father born CT, mother born NY
Elizabeth 44, born Texas, parents nativity not given
Alfred, 14, born Arkansas, father born IL, mother born TX
Charlotte, 12, born Arkansas, father born IL, mother born TX
John, 6, born Arkansas, father born IL, mother born TX
Henry, 4, born Arkansas, father born IL, mother born TX
Benjamin, 1, born Arkansas, father born IL, mother born TX
Jefferson, 18, born Arkansas, father born IL, mother born TX
Mary Jane, 21, born Arkansas, father born IL, mother born TX

Clearly, Henry and John were brothers, since their fathers were both shown as being born in Connecticut and their mothers in New York. We also see that their parents lived in Illinois, then moved to Louisiana. [Janet Givens points out that the birthplace given for the mother of Henry's first three children was erroneously given as Arkansas, when it should have been given as Missouri. See below for the family of Loucetta Henry, born in Missouri. Also, "Mary Jane" may be a misreading; instead it may be Mary Ann; and her birthplace should have been given as Texas, not Arkansas. The census informants for these two households probably just didn't have the appropriate information to give the census taker and guessed the best they could about the middle names and places of birth.]

Now, there is no indication of a Henry Bissell in either the 1830 Illinois census or the 1840 Louisiana census. In fact, the only Bissell in the 1830 Illinois census index is "Allved" (Alfred, misread by the indexers); and the only two Bissells in the 1840 Louisiana census index were Theodore and A. (initial only).

Referring back to the 1880 census entry, we see that John Bissell had a son Alfred. This suggests, at least, that Alfred (not Henry) is the father of Henry and John Bissell of Howard County, Arkansas.

Referring to the Jones book, we find two Alfreds of the approximately correct age to be Henry's and John's father: Alfred, b. 1804 (son of Aaron II and Naomi of East Windsor, Connecticut), who died unmarried; and Alfred, son of Jerijah II of East Windsor and Wapping, Connecticut, who is not carried forward in the Jones book.

This latter Alfred had a brother Jerijah and a brother David, who were not carried forward either. But note: there was a "Jerejah" Bissell in the 1820 Madison County, Illinois census (which included Pike County at that time) and a David Bissell in the 1840 and 1850 Pike County, Illinois censuses. These must be one and same as the sons of Jerijah II of Connecticut! (Jerijah II also had sons Seymour and Horace, about whom nothing is presently known, although he was said in the Jones book to have had grandsons named Jerijah and Edward.)

David Bissell of Pike County, Illinois was listed in the 1850 census as 51 years of age, born in Connecticut. This would put him born about 1799. Also listed with him were daughter (or second wife) Rhoda, 31, born Connecticut; Henry, 17, born Illinois; and William, 5, born Illinois. Nearby was another son, Alfred, 25, born Connecticut. This Alfred was listed in the records of veterans of the Mexican War (1848), and this Henry was listed in the records of veterans of the Civil War (1862-5).

But is the A. Bissell in the 1840 Louisiana census the same as the Allved (Alfred) in the 1830 Pike County, Illinois census? Yes. The proof came when we carefully re-read the index for the 1850 Texas census. There was an Alford Bessell (again census indexers misspelled his name, and we overlooked it the first time) in Panola County, Texas -- and lo and behold, he turned out to be the missing link!

Alford Bessell, 54, born Connecticut
Matilda, 42, born New York
Thomas, 17, born Illinois
John, 13, born Illinois
Henry, 11, born Louisiana
Shelton, 6, born Texas

(Also, for the record, Panola County, Texas marriage records show that Thomas Bissell married Susan Boyett on October 18, 1854, and John Bissell married Elizabeth Legrone on October 6, 1856.)[Janet Givens notes that Thomas Bissell was Susan's second husband. Her maiden name was Susan Miller, and she married first Annas Boyette and third Thomas L. Roscoe.]

Again, however, we must ask: are these the same John and Henry as the ones in Howard County, Arkansas in 1880? Yes. Apart from the fact that Henry's oldest son was named William Shelton, a dead giveaway itself, we have the testimony from the 1860 census of Sulphur Springs Township, Polk County, Arkansas:

John Bissell, 24, born Illinois
Christiana, 24, born Texas
Martha, 2, born Texas
Mary A., 1, born Texas
Alfred, 67, born Connecticut
Matilda, 54, born New York
Henry, 22, born Louisiana
Shelden, 16, born Texas

Note that Alfred was still alive in 1860, so he didn't die in the Gold Rush after all. It's possible that he did go west in one of the waves of fortune-seekers, but we now know that he died in Polk County, Arkansas in January of 1870.

The Arkansas mortality census of 1870 shows that Alfred "Bizzell" of Polk County, Arkansas died from "disease of the lungs," and that he was 76 years old. From this, we calculate that he was born sometime between January 1793 and January 1794 -- probably sometime in 1793.

It's still possible that Alfred's widow did return to Illinois to reclaim their homestead (only to find it taken over by the town of Springfield). However, this could not have been until after 1870, for she wasn't a widow until at least then. Also, to leave land unattended for over 30 years and still expect to reclaim it? Not likely -- but possible.

Perhaps it was Alfred's and Matilda's son, Henry, who attempted to reclaim the land. He was nowhere to be found in the 1870 census (though we haven't looked line by line, county by county yet), nor were his brothers Shelton and Thomas. (Nor could we find Thomas in 1860, nor Thomas and Shelton in 1880.) We invite researchers to strain their eyeballs in search of these references!

Henry should have been somewhere in Arkansas in 1870, because his children before and after 1870 were all born there. Unfortunately, that year's census is not indexed, and he was "between wives," so to speak.

We did find Henry's brother John in the 1870 census of Sulphur Springs Township, Polk County. (Again, the name was misspelled, which once more drives home the point that we Bissell researchers must carefully consider all the variant spellings of our surname.) Here is the reference:

John Bizzell, 35, born Illinois
Christine E., 35, born Texas
Martha M., 12, born Texas
Mary A., 11, born Texas
William A., 9, born Arkansas
Thomas J., 8, born Arkansas
Alfred, 5, born Arkansas
Charlotte, 2, born Arkansas
Elizabeth A., 6/12, born Arkansas
Matilda, 62, born New York

Re-examining the 1880, Blackwood Township, Howard County census, we found:

William A. Bissell, 20, born Arkansas
Matilda, 70, born New York
James A. Barton, 30
Martha M., 23, born Texas
James C., 3
Henry H., 1

William A. Bissell and Martha M. Barton were two of John's grown-up children. Thomas J. Bissell went by "Jefferson," apparently to distinguish him from his uncle Thomas. We couldn't locate Mary A., and apparently the baby in 1870, Elizabeth A., had died before 1880. Otherwise, the family was intact and three sons larger in 1880. It's possible they had even more, since their youngest, Benjamin, was only 1 year old in 1880. That's about all we know about John's family, except for some cemetery records, which we will include in the chart at the end of this article.

Henry Bissell, the person of main interest to the Bissell researchers we've been in contact with, was married twice. He married first, around 1864, to Settie Henry, who was the mother of his first three children, including William Shelton Bissell, the ancestor of the researchers my father corresponded with. Settie's full first name, it turns out, was Loucetta.

In searching for Loucetta Henry's parents, we went to the 1850 Arkansas census index, which showed only four Henry's in the area that was to become Howard County. Of these, William Henry of Sevier County, Blue Bayou Township proved to be the one we were looking for:

William Henry, 36, born Missouri
Martha, 33, born Missouri
John, 14, born Missouri
Jasper, 13, born Missouri
William, 11, born Missouri
Margret, 8, born Missouri
Emily, 5, born Missouri
Loucetta, 4, born Missouri
James, 1, born Missouri

We have double-checked this relationship. We are in possession of a list of marriages of James Isom Henry and his brothers and sisters, which include "Lucetta" and all of the others shown in the census (except William) and several more as well (Bascum or "Dock," A. G., Mary E., Martha Caroline, and Zeodia). (It's possible that William's middle name was Bascum, and that he was a doctor.) Also, we have a group sheet showing that James Isom Henry had a daughter named Luisa Settie. That pretty well proves it.

From this, we see that Loucetta (Setty) Henry was born about 1846 in Missouri. She was probably about 18 years old when she married Henry Bissell, and she died sometime between 1867 and 1870 (when he married his second wife). James I., age 33, and John A., age 44, were living in Blackwood Township, Howard County in 1880, so presumably that is where she died. A search of cemeteries or burial records will probably confirm this.

Can we trace Loucetta's roots back any further than her father William? Well, also in Sevier County, Arkansas in 1850 was John Henry, 71, of North Caroline, his wife, Elizabeth, 46, of Kentucky, and their children Samuel, 21, Ge--, 18, Littleton, 16, Martha E., 12, and Sarah, 7, all born in Arkansas. Next door was Rease Henry, 22, and his wife Margret, 18, both born in Arkansas.

It's possible that John is William's father, and that Elizabeth is John's second wife (not William's mother). William, then, would have been born in Missouri, while his step brothers and sisters were all born in Arkansas. I leave this for Arkansas Bissell researchers to investigate further.

Henry Bissell married second on September 8, 1870 to Lucinda Elizabeth Townsend, who was born in Alabama on January 18, 1850. (She died August 4, 1912.) This indicates that she would have been a small baby during the 1850 Alabama census.

According to an affadavit by her son-in-law, J. G. Helm, Lucinda's parents were Clark Townsend and Nancy Taylor Hopson, and that Nancy's parents were both full-blood Cherokee Indians. Nancy and her twin brother, William Lightly Hopson, were the children of William Hopson and Melvina Taylor. Bissell-Townsend researchers are welcome to follow this lead.

So, now we have John and Henry Bissell of Howard County, Arkansas definitely established as sons of Alfred and Matilda Bissell -- and Alfred Bissell as the son of Jerijah Bissell II of Wapping, Connecticut. For those interested in the full line of descent from the immigrant ancestor who came to Connecticut around 1640, here it is:

1. Capt. John Bissell of England & Windsor CT (1591-1677) m. Mary Drake

2. Lieut. Thomas Bissell of England & Windsor CT (1630-1689) m. Abigail Moore, October 11, 1655

3. Thomas Bissell II of Windsor CT (1656-1689) m. Hester Strong, October 15, 1678

4. Thomas Bissell III of Windsor and Wapping CT (1683-1771) m. Martha Loomis

5. Jerijah Bissell of Windsor and Wapping CT (1713-1806), m. Lydia Bartlett, March 17, 1751

6. Jerijah Bissell II of Windsor and Wapping CT (December 20, 1751 to July 16, 1825), wife's name unknown

7. Alfred Bissell of Illinois, Lousiana, Texas, and Arkansas (1793-Jan. 1870), married Matilda [1999: Hoskins] of New York

8a. Henry Bissell of Howard County, Arkansas (1838-1902) m.1 Loucetta Henry about 1864, m.2 Lucinda Elizabeth Townsend, 1870

8b. John Bissell of Howard County, Arkansas (1836-?) m. Christiana Elizabeth Legrone, 1856

Henry and Lucinda had additional children after the 1880 census was taken: Adear (Ada), 1881, Nelly, 1884, "Little Babe", 1886, Minnie, 1888, and Rhoda, 1890. Note that Henry's uncle, David Bissell of Pike County, Illinois, had a daughter Rhoda born 1819 in Connecticut. Perhaps Alfred's and David's mother (Jerijah Bissell II's wife) was named Rhoda.

Also note that Henry's son, William Shelton, was named after Henry's brother Shelton. Perhaps this name was handed down from Henry's mother's maiden name: Matilda Shelton? [1999: No, it was Hoskins.] Or perhaps Henry's grandmother Bissell's maiden name was Shelton: Rhoda Shelton?

There is no evidence that Matilda's maiden name was Hoskins [1999: no longer true, see BHAM, Vol. I, No. 2-3 for data on Matilda's family of origin], except for an entry in the L.D.S. family registry by Bea Zimmer and James Helm. They would like to start a family organization for descendants of Henry Bissell (1838-1902). If you or someone you know is interested in helping form such a group, contact them at:

Bea Zimmer, 917 Presidio, San Clemente Ca 92672; 714/492-7986

James Helm, 2609 Lakeside Dr., Garland TX 75042

On the next page is a sheet of family vital statistics for Henry and John Bissell of Howard County, Arkansas. It details as many births, deaths, and marriages as are presently known. It's bound to contain some errors, so feel free to correct them and/or make any additions that you can come up with. (The listing is a composite of information from census records, cemetery records from Howard County, and records from a family Bible reprinted in Grimes Family History by Miriam Doris Brown of Gig Harbor, Washington.)

Next issue's "Connecticut Connections" will deal with a cluster of Bissell mysteries growing out of the line of Isaac Bissell III of Hartwick, Otsego County, New York, and leading us to western New York, Ohio, Illinois, and Iowa. We'll call this installment "The Bissells of Otsego County, New York." (Not to be confused with the Rhode Island family of Bissells of Otsego County, New York, which will be the subject of our next "Rhode Island Roundup"!)

Vital Statistics for Families of John and
Henry Bissell of Howard County, Arkansas

compiled by Roger Bissell

John Bissell, born 1836, Illinois; married October 6, 1856 to Caroline Elizabeth Legrone (born 1836, Texas). They had:

Martha M. Bissell, born 1858, Texas, married James A. Barton
Mary A. Bissell, born 1859, Texas
William A. Bissell, born September 30, 1860, Arkansas, married S. E. Kyle, died February 3, 1942
Thomas J. Bissell, born February 16, 1862, Arkansas, married Mary Jane Pinkerton, died September 3, 1945
Alfred Bissell, born 1865, Arkansas
Charlotte Bissell, born 1868, Arkansas, married John Benjamin Franklin Givens.
Elizabeth Bissell, born 1869, Arkansas
John Bissell, born 1874, Arkansas
Henry A. Bissell, born 1876, Arkansas, married Arcadia Dyer
Benjamin F. Bissell, born May 23, 1879, Arkansas, died December 22, 1916

Henry Bissell, born September 22, 1838, Louisiana; married first around 1864 to Loucetta (Setty) Henry (born about 1846, Missouri); married second September 8, 1870 to Lucinda Elizabeth Townsend (born January 18, 1858, Alabama, died August 4, 1912). He died April 27, 1902. They had:

Lucettia Emily Bissell, born January 28, 1865, Arkansas
William Shelton Bissell, born January 18, 1866, Arkansas, married Laura Lucinda Blackwood, died December 30, 1941
Henry Custer Bissell, born March 4, 1867, Arkansas
Martha Ann Bissell, born February 5, 1868, Arkansas, died before 1877
Thomas Jefferson Bissell, born November 7, 1871, Arkansas, died July 14, 1965
Mary Alice Bissell, born March 4, 1873, Arkansas, married ____ Grice, died January 11, 1904
Sary Elizabeth Bissell, born January 21, 1875, Arkansas, married ____ Holden, died September 18, 1963
Martha Mathilda Bissell, born March 7, 1877, Arkansas, married ____ Coffman, died July 19, 1960
Dora Bissell, born October 4, 1879, Arkansas, married C. E. Dunkin, died December 21, 1967
Adear (Ada) Bissell, born November 9, 1881, Arkansas
Nelly Bissell, born March 21, 1884, Arkansas

"Little Babe" Bissell, stillborn June 15, 1886, Arkansas
Minnie Bissell, born June 28, 1888, Arkansas, died January 10, 1979, married James G. Helm (died December 23, 1961)
Rhode Bissell, born August 22, 1890, Arkansas, married ____ Brunson, died August 3, 1966


Who was Pierce B. Bissell of Rock Island and Will Counties in Illinois? He was in censuses of 1850 and 1860, was said to have been born in November of 1816 or 1817 in Michigan, and was said to have died in November of 1870 in the Rock Island area.

Who was Frederick L. A. Bissell of Schuyler County, Illinois? He was in censuses of 1840, 1850, and 1860, was said to have been born about 1801 in Massachusetts, and died before 1865.

The Bissells of Yates County, New York

by Roger Bissell

During the 1800s, several families of Bissells moved to Yates County in central New York.

One of them, headed by Luther Bissell (1773-1835), is well-documented by E. P. Jones, Luther being assigned #467 in the Connecticut branch of the Bissell family. Four of his children moved to Illinois, one of them becoming governor of that state. One of his sons stayed in Connecticut, while another moved to Oneida and Niagara Counties of New York. We will discuss both Luther and his brother, Benjamin of Otsego County, New York and Lake County, Ohio, in our next installment of "Connecticut Connections."

Another Yates County Bissell was Daniel B. Bissell, who was shown in the 1850 census as having been born in New York. We suspect [1999: and now know] that he was the son of Daniel Bissell IV ("the spy"), who had the peculiar habit of naming all of his male children Daniel!

Yet another Yates County Bissell was Christopher Pierce Bissell, born in 1803, who moved to Ohio in the 1840s. He was a son of Stephen Bissell (1783-1831?), who is #73R in the Rhode Island Bissell clan and who lived in Otsego County, New York. We will discuss Christopher and Stephen and the other descendants of #29R, Pvt. Samuel Bissell (1755-1832), in our next installment of "Rhode Island Roundup."

The Yates County people we are focusing on this time are the descendants of #33R, David Bissell, born in 1763, who was the brother of #29R, Pvt. Samuel Bissell.

David Bissell was born February 4, 1763 in North Kingston, Rhode Island and married on March 10, 1785 to Elizabeth, daughter of Benjamin West. He lived for a while in Exeter, Rhode Island, whose Vital Records show that he and Elizabeth had two daughters: Mary, born in 1785, and Waity, born in 1792.

The account in E. P. Jones' appendix says that David was still living in 1840, which is confirmed by the index for the 1840 census of North Kingston, Rhode Island (where he was also shown in the 1820 and 1830 censuses). We also find him in the 1840 census of pensioners for Revolutionary or military services, so chances are that he was a Revolutionary War veteran, as was his brother Samuel.

Aldridge Bissell (1788-1859) was born in Rhode Island and died in Yates County, New York, in the town of Milo. He first appeared as head of a household in the 1820 census of North Kingston, Rhode Island as "Aldrick" Bissell. By 1830, he had moved to Yates County, New York.

Who was Aldridge Bissell, and what relation if any was he to David Bissell? Well, if our theory is correct, Aldridge was the son of David. But what proof do we have?

First of all, David's mother (Samuel #13R's first wife) was named Sarah Aldrich (or Aldridge). It's not surprising, then, that one of her grandsons would be given her maiden name. But how do we know Aldridge wasn't David's nephew -- i.e., the son of one of his brothers, Thomas, John, or George -- rather than his son?

Luckily, we have more evidence. First of all, David had a daughter named Waity -- and so do Aldridge! It's much more likely that Aldridge would have named a daughter after his sister than after his first cousin.

Secondly, Aldridge had a son named David! He and his brother, William, were living near Aldridge in the 1850 census. Also, Yates County probate records show that David A. Bissell was executor for Aldridge's estate.

For these two reasons, we think it's much more likely that Aldridge was David's son, rather than his nephew. We certainly invite other researchers to confirm this. In the meantime, however, we will regard it as not just hypothetical, but quite probable.

Aldridge was said to have married twice: first around 1815 to Elizabeth (Gardner?) and second after 1827 to Priscilla Clark. Their children were as follows:

1. Nicholas Gardner Bissell, born 1816 in Rhode Island, died 1860 in Clinton County, Michigan. He married Eliza I. ____ (1826-1908) in 1846.

2. Phebe G. Bissell, born 1819 in Rhode Island, died in 1873. She married first Gardner Tefft and married second Paris Corey.

3. David A. Bissell, born about 1822 in New York.

4. William Sean Bissell, born 1824 in New York, died 1903 in Clinton County, Michigan. He married Almyra Snyder (1829-1903).

5. Elizabeth A. Bissell, born 1827 in New York, died 1891 in Clinton County, Michigan. She married Van Rennsalaer W. Sunderlin in 1846.

6. Waity T. Bissell, born 1836 in New York. She married David H. Clark (born about 1835), a possible nephew of Priscilla Clark Bissell, and thus possibly Waity's cousin. (He was in the home of Phebe and Gardner Tefft in the 1850 census.)

7. Sarah P. Bissell, born 1839 in New York.

The 1840 census indicates that there was another son born between 1825 and 1830, but it fails to indicate a son of Nicholas' age; so perhaps the census taker misplace the "1" on the wrong side of the "2" for David and William. Also, the 1850 census shows a Mary A. Sutherland, wife of Walter Sutherland living next to the Teffts. Is this the same person as Elizabeth A. Bissell Sunderlin, and Walter the same as Van Rennsalaer W. Sunderlin -- or perhaps their sister and brother?

To date, we know of only one child of Nicholas G. Bissell: Adalbert W. Bissell, born about 1846. We know of three children of William S. Bissell: DeForest W. Bissell, born 1859, Elmer Dow Bissell, and Clarence Dorr Bissell, who married Frances Crane. (We presume they all went to Michigan, since Nicholas died there in 1860.)

"Dorr" and Frances Bissell had Ethel, Lucy, and Joe, who married Iva Townsend. Joe and Iva Bissell had Vada, Harry, and Clell of Pewamo, Michigan, whose wife is researching the ancestry of Aldridge Bissell.

Three of the children from Aldridge's first family went to Michigan apparently sometime between 1850 and 1860. The cemetery records of Clinton County, Michigan give quite a few dates. Interested researchers could pursue this further by writing for death certificates, obituaries, etc., as well as the service record of David Bissell, which is probably on file with the Daughters of the American Revolution in Washington, D.C. As with other lines we research, we will note corrections and additions in forthcoming issues of Bissell Histories and Mysteries.

Mrs. Jeanette Lois Somers Dickinson is the contact person for anyone who would like to join her in forming a family association of descendants of Aldridge Bissell. She can be reached at: 528 Charles, East Lansing, Michigan 48823 -- or call 517/332-5740.

Our next "Rhode Island Roundup" will be entitled "The Bissells of Otsego County, New York" and will deal with the descendants of Samuel Bissell (1755-1832) of Rhode Island and Otsego County, New York.

Bissell Research Directory

Pierce B. Bissell (b. Michigan 1816/7, d. Illinois 1870): Roger Bissell, Royce Bissell [1999: now deceased], Marie Wetzel [2002: now deceased], Zura Brown [1999: now deceased].

Aldridge Bissell (b. Rhode Island 1788, d. New York 1859): Mrs. Clell Bissell, Jeannette Lois Somers Dickinson.

Christopher Pierce Bissell (b. New York 1805, d. Ohio after 1860): Mrs. Charles O. Bissell.

Henry Bissell (b. Louisiana 1838, d. Arkansas 1902): William Glenn Bissell, Joe Grimes, Don Grimes, John D. Bissell, Bea Zimmer, Dennis Bissell, Doris Brown, Ernestine Davis, Bonnie Henry, James Helm.

Frederick L. A. Bissell (Bessell?) (b. Massachusetts? about 1801, d. Illinois after 1860): Roy H. Bissell.

John Bissell (b. Oneida County, New York about 1808, d. 1889): Mrs. Jean H. Robinson.

Rachel Bissell (b. Connecticut 1767, m. John Simmons): Mrs. L. J. Armentrout.

Joseph A. Bissell (b. Connecticut 1731, d. Ohio 1814): Freeman E. Morgan, Jr., Howard O. Neff.

Morgan Bissell (b. Connecticut about 1801, d. Illinois 1876): Mrs. Joyce Bissell Hory.

Charles L. Bissell (sheriff of Ulysses, Kansas, 1886-9): Mrs. Della E. Crowl.

Samuel Bissell (b. Rhode Island 1755, d. New York 1832): Soren Simonson, Jean F. Gilmore, Nellie Weeks Balcom, Alma F. Slawson.

Notice: we will expand this directory next time with addresses and more names. If you do not want your name listed, or if you do not want your addresses given, please let us know as soon as possible!