Ancestry of Margaret Legard Gunyon Church: Part Two

Why Margaret Came to America
That still left the question of why Margaret – the youngest of six children – would leave her large family in England for America. Here are some thoughts, steps toward unraveling her mystery.

A significant error in the 1900 Census, showing Margaret coming to America in 1877, led to initial confusion. That error made it appear that she left home at age 20, about the time her father died. Futher research in English and American census records, however, turned up the correct date. First, Maggie Gunyon, age 13, born in England, was enumerated in the home of Robert and Fanny Gunyon in Milwaukee in the 1870 Census [surname mistranscribed Gwnyer]. Then the 1871 Census for Yorkshire, England, has no Maggie in the William and Ann Legard household.

A search of ship’s passenger logs revealed that “Margt Ledgar,” born about 1858, age 7, female, nationality English, origin England, had arrived in New York on 7 Aug 1865. She was traveling with Robert Gunyon and Fanny Gunyon of the USA; their ports of departure were Liverpool, England, and Queenstown, Ireland, their destination the USA. Thus, in late July or early August 1865, Margaret Ledgar [later Legard] left her native Yorkshire, England, to live with Robert and Fanny Gunyon of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Gunyons adopted her as their daughter, although we’ve not seen the documents.

Newspaper and legal journal articles concerning the wills made by Robert and Fanny in early 1892 state that the couple had no children of their own – and reveal the family connection. Fanny was the sister of Margaret’s mother Ann (Craven) Legard, and so was Margaret’s aunt. We surmise that the families thought good opportunities would be available in America for Margaret, and she could be a daughter and companion to Fanny. Robert Gunyon was a very active businessman as will be shown. Thus Fanny likely craved having a child in the house.

Adoptive Parents Robert Gunyon and Fanny (Craven) Gunyon

We know a good deal about Robert and Fanny who, the 1850 and 1860 U.S. census records tell us, were born in Scotland and England respectively. Once the sister connection between Fanny (Craven) Gunyon and Ann (Craven) Legard was understood, many records for the family were found in English and American censuses, passenger lists, city directories and much more.

Robert Gunyon: Robert was enumerated in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England, in the 1841 Census, taken June 6. In the household were John Gunyon, 25, and Robert Gunyon, 20, both drapers, and Joseph Irving, 15, a draper’s apprentice. Their address was “back of Cheapside.’ All three were born in Scotland. John and Robert were perhaps brothers or cousins, we thought. Then a check of Pigot & Co.’s Directory of Yorks, Leics… , 1841, turned up a Wm. Gunyon under Grocers and Tea Dealers, his shop located on Cheapside, Barnsley.

That find of the three Gunyon men led to the discovery that Robert was born on 28 Sep 1817 in Kelton, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland, the son of William Gunyon, a cooper, and wife Mary (Gullon) Gunyon. His brother William was born there on 11 Sep 1809 and his brother John Gunyon was born there on 5 Aug 1814. Kelton is a parish 10 miles (N. E. by E.) from Kirkcudbright, pronounced kirr-KOO-bree, a town and parish in Kirkcudbrightshire, within the Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland. It is situated on the estuary of the River Dee in southwest Scotland.

Robert was recorded as a draper and son of William Gunyon when marrying Fanny Craven in Barnsley in 1841, a match with the Robert Gunyon in the other documents. A draper was originally a retailer or wholesaler of cloth used for clothing such as silk, linen and cotton. West Yorkshire, England, Marriages & Banns, 1813-1935, show that Robert Gunyon, a draper, married Frances Craven on 10 Sep 1841 in Silkstone with Stainborough, All Saints. His father was William Gunyon, farmer; her father was William Craven, a currier. Robert and Frances were both recorded as “of Barnsley” on their marriage record.

Frances “Fanny” Craven: Frances was baptized on 1 Jul 1821 in the parish Barnsley, St Mary. The church record shows her father was William Craven, a currier, and her mother was Mary Craven. Frances was born in the first half of 1821, based on her age in census and other records. She was usually called Fanny. She was enumerated in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England, in the 1841 Census, taken June 6. In the household were William Craven, 55, Mary Craven, 55, Mary Craven, 20, Fanney Craven, 20, Harriet Craven, 15, and Martha Craven, 10. Daughter Ann Craven was not there as she had married James Ledgar in 1840.

Father William Craven was a currier, suggesting how Ann met James Ledgar, also a currier. Mother Mary’s maiden name was Coe. William Craven, age 21, married Mary Coe on 23 Jan 1808 in Barnsley, Yorkshire.

Robert Gunyon and Fanny (Craven) Gunyon in Milwaukee: In late August of 1843, Robert and Fanny set off for America, departing on the ship Birmingham from Liverpool, England. On 9 Sep 1843, one day short of their second wedding anniversary, Robert Gunyon, age 25, and Mrs. Gunyon, age 22, arrived in New York City. Both were recorded as from Great Britain. His occupation is hard to read on the ship’s log. There is no evidence, but Robert and Fanny likely sailed north on the Hudson River, took the Erie Canal west to Buffalo and then sailed the Great Lakes to Wisconsin. They likely arrived in Milwaukee in late 1843 or early 1844.

Evidence of Robert Gunyon in Milwaukee begins in 1845-1846. Robert was one of eight men of Scots heritage who organized the first curling club in Milwaukee, and likely the first in Wisconsin. The game was played on the frozen Milwaukee River at the foot of Mason Street, according to Pioneer history of Milwaukee: from the first American settlement in 1833 to 1841, with a topographical description. That source says 1846 but another says 1845.

On 2 Jun 1846, Robert Gunyon was reported as having a letter remaining at the Milwaukee post office, according to a listing in the Milwaukee Sentinel and Gazette of this date. On March 24, 1847, Alexander Mitchell rallied the Scottish community in Milwaukee to raise funds for relief of famine victims in Scotland. Robert Gunyon was involved, according to the “Historical Messenger” of the Milwaukee County Historical Society, Vols 22-25.

The book Pioneer history of Milwaukee also mentions Robert’s involvement in early Milwaukee politics. On 11 March 1850, he was listed was one of three men to receive the highest votes for 2nd Ward assessor, and then, on 1 April 1850, he stood for election on the People’s Ticket for 2nd Ward assessor. He apparently did not win. The Milwaukee Sentinel on 2 April 1850 said he ran for assessor on the Law and Order Ticket for the 2nd Ward. Later, in 1879, he ran for the State Senate as a Greenbacker, but again did not win, according to the Blue Book of the State of Wisconsin.

The 1850 Census for Milwaukee lists Robert Gunyon, 33, a merchant born in Scotland, with wife Fanny, 29, born in England, in the 2nd Ward on the west side of the Milwaukee River.

Second part of an article completed in February 2015… to be continued. See Part One and Part Three

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Published in: on June 7, 2016 at 3:42 am  Comments (1)  
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Permilia, wife of Benjamin Church

52 Weeks, 52 Ancestors: Number One
QUERY for the wife of Benjamin F. Church, her name perhaps Elizabeth Permilia Clemens Church

I am seeking the parents, birth date and birth place for the wife of Benjamin F. Church, a pioneer builder who arrived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1835 from Ulster County, New York. He spent time in Chicago in 1834 before coming on to Milwaukee. I would also like to know when and where she married Benjamin. Here is what is known about her from various records:

Given names: She is Permelia Church in the 1850 Census, Permilia Church in her first daughter’s marriage record [1859] and Parmelia Church in her 2nd daughter’s marriage record [1875]. In deeds in 1840 with husband Benjamin she is recorded as Parmelia H., Pamelia or Purmelia. She is recorded as Elizabeth Church, a married woman, in the 1856 burial records at Forest Home Cemetery where she is buried in the Benjamin Church Lot with infant Benjamin F. Church Jr. who died 1850. She may have been Elizabeth Permilia or Permilia Elizabeth.

Surname: Her surname of Clemens is given in just one place, her first daughter’s death record [1891] where she is listed as P. Clemens. This is unconfirmed, and could be Clements or other name.

Birth: She was born in New Hampshire in 1815 or 1816, as per the 1850 Census where she is shown as 34 years old.

Marriage: An 1838 or 1839 marriage date is estimated based on the apparent 1840 birth of her oldest known child, Ann Maria Church, recorded as 10 in the 1850 Census. No marriage record has been found for Benjamin and Permilia, either in Milwaukee [Early Milwaukee Marriages booklet] or in Chicago [Fink Index].

Meeting: We can only wonder where they met, whether in Buffalo, New York, the port where ships sailed to Chicago and Milwaukee, or in Chicago where Benjamin first settled in 1834 or Milwaukee. She would have been with parents or other relatives. Ulster County, New York, is on the Hudson River, so it is likely Benjamin went west to Chicago via the river, the Erie Canal and then a Great Lakes ship. He came overland to Milwaukee in the fall of 1835, and returned to Chicago to settle his affairs before settling in Milwaukee, according to his obituary [1887].

Children: Benjamin and Permilia had 6 known children: Ann Maria Church [1840-1891], Ann Augusta Church [1843-1876],  Charles B. Church [1847-1885], Benjamin Church Jr [1850-1850],  John Benjamin Church [1851-1911] and Susan Church [1855-1870]

Death: Benjamin’s wife died 21 Feb 1856, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, according to Forest Home Cemetery records for the Benjamin Church plot. Recorded as Elizabeth Church. No Church in the death index, Milwaukee Register of Deeds, 1852-1875.

I have found Clemens families in New Hampshire in census records of the right period, even some with females of the right age in their household. But I have not found a published genealogy or other source that puts Elizabeth Permilia into a family. This is a tough brickwall and any help would be appreciated.

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Published in: on December 28, 2013 at 7:17 pm  Comments (5)  
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BBPetura on Twitter

Using Twitter is a fun way to meet genealogists, get tips on new family history resources and record research progress.  And also to follow news media, experts on archaeology and gardening, and more! Unique diary! Here are some of my recent tweets:


Wisconsin 1875 Census on FamilySearch with index & scans is great! Ancestors Benjamin Church & Sherman A. Bradley in Milwaukee!

RT @Palaeogeek Thirty thousand year-old colored twine found in Georgia: | Europe that is!

Beautiful day so I enjoyed a visit to Living in the Garden north of #Pullman for fall #flowers, food treats:

RT @Cherryteatime Condense #genealogy w/geography – Suffolk, Shropshire, Yorkshire ENG, Glarus SWISS, Pomerania, Holstein, Trier GER, more!

My search – ancestor Ferdinand Hachez did weather observations 1865, helped found a hail insurance company 1870

#Genealogy tip: At least once a year, search for your ancestors in old books & documents at Great finds possible!

Great idea: search anew for ancestors’ info on their birthday. Thanks @mjnrootdig for #Genealogy tip of the day:


RT @jefferymartin Skull has been found that rewrites the history of man — | And woman we presume!


Try to be a generous genealogy volunteer and help others find their families! See an example at Relative Musings:

Labor Day #genealogy – Ancestor Sherman A. Bradley was a carpenter, then pumpmaker, owned Badger Pump, Milwaukee. Pumps then made of wood!

Labor Day #genealogy – Ancestor John Nicholas Luehr was stonemason & farmer in late 1800s. His hard work meant two sons could go to college!

Labor Day #genealogy – Ancestor Benjamin Church, pioneer carpenter in 1835 in Milwaukee, from Ulster County, NY:

Labor Day #genealogy – Both of my grandmothers, Beatrice and Lucille, were teachers before marrying: one home ec, one elementary school.

Labor Day #genealogy – William Henry Luehr was a newspaper publisher, a school teacher & principal in Wisconsin:

Labor Day #genealogy – Martin Friedrich Bruss came to Milwaukee from Cammin, Pomerania, to continue family tradtion of ship building, 1839.

Labor Day #genealogy fun: tweet about the labors of your ancestors – any of their occupations a suprise? a family tradition? Please RT!


Amazed at my Hachez ancestors’ migrations: Brugge, Belgium, to Bremen, Germany, to village of New Holstein, Wisconsin, in 1854!

Just finished replying to a distanct cousin in Germany about the Hachez family of 3 who came to Wisconsin in 1854:

Note: The hash # tags and at @ tags you see above don’t work outside Twitter! You can find those tweeting by putting their Twitter handle after Mine, for example, is  Please follow me!

Benjamin Church House – Milwaukee

benjamin-church-house-front.jpg Photograph by Barbara Bradley Petura

An exceptional way to be in touch with your family history is to visit locations important to your ancestors’ lives.  July 2007 gave me an opportunity to do just that. 

The place was the Benjamin Church House, located since 1938 in Estabrook Park, Shorewood. The house was built about 1844 in an area then known as Kilbourntown. That name came from Bryon Kilbourn, land owner and founder about 1835 of the pioneer town just west of the Milwaukee River.

Kilbourntown was one of three towns that merged in 1846 to create the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The others were Juneautown east of the river and Walker’s Point to the south.

In those days, the Church house was on Fourth Street at the intersection with Court Street, between Cherry and Galena streets. The site in the pioneer era is described as up a hill overlooking a tamarack swamp near the river.

Benjamin Church, my ggg-grandfather, was one of the earliest settlers in Milwaukee. He arrived in November 1835 via Chicago from his birthplace in Ulster County, New York.

A pioneer carpenter and master builder, he brought the Greek Revival style from the East Coast to the young city of Milwaukee — and applied it to construction of his own family home. With its four graceful columns on the front and other distinctive features, the house gives the feeling of a small Greek temple.

That Greek Revival style, combined with the use of hand-hewn lumber and Cream City bricks stamped with the date 1844 and initials of the brick maker, made the house worth saving, restoring and moving to a new location. The house today is an intimate museum of life in Milwaukee in the 1850s, with the furnishings giving a sense of what life was like in those days.

Standing in the cozy house, I imagined Benjamin Church returning home, up the hill to the house, climbing the steps to the porch and enjoying the modest elegance of the Doric columns, then entering the house right into the small living room.  A fire crackling in the fireplace and the sounds of his children would have greeted him at the end of a day’s work.

His wife Permilia would likely have been in the kitchen cooking dinner, helped by oldest daughters Ann Maria and Ann Augusta. I imagine the younger children doing their chores, or their studies, or perhaps playing.

Known to her family as Hannah, Ann Maria married Sherman A. Bradley on January 6, 1859. They too lived in the Church House and their son Jesse Charles Bradley was born there June 22, 1866.

A special treasure awaited me in the back room of the house, where a display board told the history of house and of Benjamin Church himself. There on display was his photograph! See it on the page with his biography.

The Benjamin Church House, also called the Kilbourntown House, is open to the public free during the summer. A docent or guide is on hand to talk about the house, its history and its significance in conveying a vivid snapshot of early Milwaukee history.

Check with the Milwaukee County Historical Society for the hours the house is open. It is worth a visit!

Essay and photograph by Barbara Ann Bradley Petura, July/August 2007.

Published in: on August 13, 2007 at 4:42 am  Comments (1)  
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Surnames of My Ancestors

My own ancestors will turn up in Relative Musings occasionally as I illustrate points or seek to explore their lives and influence.  This listing will track of those references, which can also be found via the search engine. Surnames I am researching include:

  • Father’s paternal side: Abernethy, Baker, Bradley, Church, Leaming, Simons, Speich, Stocker, Twitchell
  • Father’s maternal side: Becker, Booth, Bruce (Bruss), Ebrey, and Stiemke
  • Mother’s paternal side: Conger, Cram, Morey, Palmerton, Sharp and Woolverton
  • Mother’s maternal side: Boie (Boje), Carstens, Groth, Hachez, Luehr (Luhr), Suhr, and Tonner

Mentions of family discoveries in my Finding Family for Free postings or other entries and the date they appeared include:

Abernethy/Abernathy, paternal lineage

Baker, paternal lineage

Boie, maternal lineage

Booth, paternal lineage

Bradley, paternal lineage

Bruss / Bruce, paternal lineage

Church, paternal lineage

 Groth, maternal lineage

Hachez, maternal lineage

Leaming, paternal lineage

Luehr (Luhr), maternal lineage

 Sharp, maternal lineage

Stiemke, paternal lineage

Tonner, maternal lineage

 Woolverton, maternal lineage

Women are recorded with their maiden and married names, where available, but are indexed primarily under their maiden name. Click on the date to go to and read the entry.