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Rebecca (Ferguson) Bristol


Rebecca Ellen (Ferguson) Bristol was born on April 25, 1830, presumably in Perry County or Zanesville, Muskingum County, OH, the daughter of John H. and Sarah (Miner) Ferguson. Her husband was a Union Army soldier and prisoner of war during the Civil War. 

At some point in time, Rebecca moved from Ohio to Michigan, where she settled in Porter Township, Cass County. There, she apparently met her future husband.

On New Year's Day 1850, when she was age 19, Rebecca married 21-year-old Lemon Watson Bristol (1830-1905), a native of Potsdam, NY, and the son of Almarion and Mabel Bristol. The ceremony was led by justice of the peace J.N. Jones, and took place in Porter Township, Cass County. Witnesses were Albert Jones and Emily Curtis. A record of the wedding was written in the family Bible.

Lemon stood 5 feet, 9 inches tall, with black hair and hazel eyes. He had come to Michigan as a boy of age five in 1836, with his parents, settling in Constantine, St. Joseph County.


"A Soldier's Dream of Home"
The Child At Home, American Tract Society, Boston

The Bristols together bore a family of five children -- Lemon W. "Franklin" Bristol, Harvey S. Bristol, Clarisa "Clara" Belle Granger Weikel, Ulysses S. Bristol, and an infant who died at the tender age of eight months. 

Prior to the war, Lemon and John Ferguson were "engaged in pioneer wood-working industries," said the Berrien County (MI) Record. Lemon also had "bought a sawmill meanwhile on the banks of the Little Fish lake in Cass county." The mill was located at Ropertown, "a pioneer sawmill town long since disappeared," said the Record

On Aug. 9, 1862, with the Civil War in full fury, Lemon went to Constantine, St. Joseph County, MI to enlist into the Army. He was assigned to the 19th Michigan Infantry, Company D. 

While serving in McMinnville, TN, or about March 15, 1863, he caught a bad cold "brought on by long exposure on picket duty during cold & wet weather," remembered Capt. Frank D. Bolstein. "On the night when he contracted said disease he was exposed to a violent storm of rain, sleet & snow, and when relieved he had a violent cold & his eyes were inflamed.... It rendered him unfit for duty, & nearly destroying his eyes." 

One can only imagine Lemon's thoughts and emotions as he suffered his ailments so far away from the comfort of his wife and children.

In an affidavit later in life, Lemon described his capture as follows:


Lemon's medical discharge

On the 2 day of March 1863, I left Brent Wood Tennessee for Franklin Tennessee with post train being on detailed duty driving team. At that time, was the last I saw of my Company, they being left at Brent Wood on guard while the Regiment went to Franklin Tenn. with John Coburn brigade. March 4, 1863, ordered to advance and attack the rebels at Spring Hill & Thompson Station, south of Franklin, Tenn. -- On the 5 1863 was over powered and taken prisoner. On the 25th Mar 1863 Rebel general Forest went to the right of, or to the west of Franklin and captured Co. D and what was left of John Coburn brigade at Brent Wood. May 29 1863 ordered to report at the Fort for duty, June 4 was attacked by Forest about 10 A.M.,. In the Fort was 2.24 lb. siege guns and 1.32 lb parrot runing or fireing the balance of the day, I standing within 25 feet of them, at night laying in fort on our arms and raining all night. Takeing cold and setling in my head causing both ears to gather and discharge, both ears discharging for several days. My ears was washed out with soap such by the use of syringe by some surgeon 3 or 4 days, who he was I never found out. On the 19th of June 1863 my Regiment returned to Franklin Tenn. I done no duty till the last of July 1863. My Lieutenant Frank Baldwin would not let me be put on guard or picket on acount of my defective hearing for a long time.

Testifying on Lemon's behalf, fellow solider John S. Doty said: "I remember that in the month of June 1863 the whole Regiment had been prisoners of war, and returned to Franklin Tennessee and I also remember when our Regiment was taken prisoners, that [Lemon] with several others was on detached service and not present, consequently I did not see him for some time untill we [were released from captivity and] got to Franklin... I discoverd when I spoke to him that he was deaf for I had to repeat my questions several times and talk very loud to make him understand. I knew that [he] was good on hearing when he went away on detached service." 

Lemon was sent to the Desmarres Eye and Ear Hospital in Chicago. There, on March 6, 1865, he was honorably discharged from the Army.

Upon returning home, he went to see his friend Abraham Miller of nearby Three Rivers, St. Joseph County. Miller recalled that "on the first day when [he] got home, [I] noticed in particular a change in the condition of {the soldier's] health, he appeared to be broken down in health and physical strength. [I] noticed that [he] was very thin, and that [his] eyesight was strongly impaired."

He immediately applied for and was granted a pension from the federal government as compensation for his disabilities. 


Buchanan's railroad depot at the turn of the century


In June 1880, when the United States census was taken, Lemon and Rebecca were residing in Penn Township, Cass County, MI. Lemon was employed as a cabinet maker. In 1885, they were in the town of Three Rivers, Cass County.


Berrien County Record, 1905

Lemon's wartime eye and ear problems began to affect him even more in later years. In about 1881, he wrote: "I began to lose my hearing and gone to the condition reported from the examination board at Kalamazoo and still growing deafer." In 1885, he wrote that "I cannot hear common conversation two feet from me. By holding my hand so I can catch the sound. I can hear by imperfectly. My left ear is no good to hear out of at all. My right ear troubles me by not being able to hear only as above described, and there is a rumbling and cracking sound. As to my eye sight I am almost blind in both eyes and cannot perform any kind of manual labor that will assist me in making a living and I cannot get any labor to do on account of my defective eye sight."

By 1888, the Bristols had relocated to Buchanan, Berrien County, MI. They made their home on Portage Street. The census of 1900 shows them in Buchanan, having been married for 50 years. Son Ulysses resided with them that year, and worked as a day laborer. In his final years, Lemon drew a military pension of $25 per month. He could only read "with the aid of a strong magnifying glass," he said.

After a lifetime of suffering from his war-related illnesses, Lemon died at home on Aug. 5, 1905, at the age of 75. The Berrien County Record said he "had been sick for some little time and quietly passed away at his late home on Portage street last Saturday." He was laid to eternal rest in Oak Ridge Cemetery, following a funeral led by Rev. W.J. Douglass and attended by members of his former post of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR).

Rebecca outlived her husband by eight years. She submitted extensive paperwork to the federal government, and was awarded her husband's pension to provide her with needed financial support. Living in her household in 1910 were son Ulysses, daughter Ellen, and granddaughters Pearl and May.

At the age of 82, she became sick the first week of January 1913. She passed away after a nine-day illness, on Jan. 13, 1913, of "pneumonia and old age," stated her death certificate. She was laid to rest at the Oak Ridge Cemetery.


~ Son Lemon W. "Franklin" Bristol ~

Son Lemon W. "Franklin"  Bristol (1853-1936) was born on Aug. 18, 1853 in Constantine, MI..

A bachelor at the age of 26, in 1880, he lived with his parents in Penn, Cass County, MI and earned a living as a laborer. 

Franklin on Jan. 28, 1881 entered into wedlock with widow Ellen (Aurel) Keene (April 25, 1856-1922), daughter of F. Aurel of Michigan. The wedding was held in Marcellus, Cass County.

Together they bore a family of three, among them Cora Cook Carter. 

Daughter Cora is known to have been born in Illinois in September 1888. By 1900, when the United States Census was taken, the Bristols were in Kane, Pottawattamie County, IA. 

They moved within Pottawattamie County during the first decade of the 1900s, with Franklin continuing his work as a carpentry contractor. In 1910, their home was in McClelland, Hardin Township, and eight-year-old Iowa-born granddaughter Alice Cook resided in the household at that time.

The family dwelled in 1913 in Council Bluffs, IA and then by 1920 migrated to Southern California, putting down roots in Gardena, Los Angeles County. Frank worked in Gardena as a carpentry contractor.

By 1922, the Bristols returned to Iowa and the town of McClelland. Ellen died in Bentley, IA on April 27, 1922, just two days after her birthday. A physician wrote that she was "found dead in bed probable disease of heart."  Interment of the remains was in Fairview Cemetery in Council Bluffs.

The widowed Franklin spent his final years in Los Angeles County and in 1930 shared a home in Pasadena with his married daughter Cora Carter. He passed away in Los Angeles County three days after Christmas in 1936, at the age of 84. 

Daughter Cora Bell Bristol (1888-1970) was born on Sept. 9, 1888 in Illinois. She grew to womanhood in McClelland, IA. Cora was twice-wed. At the age of 17, she married her first husband, 23-year-old railroader George Sumner Cook (1881-1923), a New Jersey native and the son of George W. Cook. The pair tied the knot on April 22, 1905 in Pottawattamie County, IA. Together, they bore a daughter Alice Cook. The Cooks divorced, and George went to live in Kansas City, MO. In time she was joined in matrimony with widower Hiram W. Carter (Aug. 12, 1870-1952), an Ohio native and son of William and Mary (Fortney) Carter who had been wed previously to Mary Johnson (1878-1902). Their three offspring were Stella R. Carter, Alice Carter and Robert G. Carter. The Carters lived in Council Bluffs, IA in 1919 at the address of 716 17th Avenue. They relocated to Southern California and resided in 1920 in the Los Angeles suburb of Gardena. As with his father-in-law, Hiram made a living as a carpentry contractor. Their address in 1927 was 920 Irwin Avenue in Inglewood, CA. Circa 1930, now in Pasadena, he worked as manager of a paint store. Federal census enumeration records for Los Angeles in 1940 list Hiram as a clerk in a retail paint store. Evidence suggests that Hiram was admitted during the 1940s to a mental institution in Modesto State Hospital in Stanislaus County, where he was housed in 1950. He passed away in Stanislaus on May 26, 1952. Cora outlived her spouse by 18 years and spent that time in Gardena. She died in Carson, Los Angeles County on Oct. 23, 1970. 

  • Granddaughter Stella R. Carter (1902- ? ) was born in about 1902 in Iowa.
  • Granddaughter Alice Carter (1907- ? ) was born in about 1907 in Iowa.
  • Grandson Robert G. Carter (1908- ? ) was born in about 1908 in Iowa.


~ Daughter Clara "Belle" (Bristol) Granger Weikel ~

Daughter Clara "Belle" Bristol (1859- ? ) was born on Dec. 8, 1859 in Constantine, MI.

At the age of 20, on Feb. 9, 1879, she wed William F. Granger (1853- ? ). William, a native of Geaugea, OH, was 26 at the time of marriage, and Clara 19. The ceremony was performed in Penn, Cass County, MI by justice of the peace H.A. Crego, in the presence of witnesses Benjamin and Helen Granger.

The Grangers were farmers. They were both residing in the household of Clara Belle's parents when the federal census was taken in 1880.

The marriage must have fallen apart, as the federal census of 1900 shows William as a farmer and single man, and boarding in the home of James Stevens in Penn Township, Cass County.

Clara apparently later married Malcolm Weikel (April 26, 1859-1924), son of John and Mary (Ball) Weikel. 

Together they produced a daughter, Mattie De Pagter. 

The Weikels resided in Newberg Township, Cass County circa 1898. 

When the federal census was taken in 1900, the Weikels were farmers, and 12-year-old daughter May Weikel was in their household. 

Their final residence together was on a farm in Porter Township, Cass County. Sadly, Malcolm was diagnosed with hardening of the arteries and inflammation of the walls of the arteries in his brain. He was gathered away by the spirit of death three days before Christmas 1924. Burial was in Constantine.

Belle made news in April 1928 in the St. Joseph Herald-Press when she and her brother Harvey returned to their residences in Buchanan after spending their winter months in California. She also is known to have visited Detroit for two weeks at a time circa March 1931. She and her brother Harvey traveled to Constantine in May 1932 to visit Mr. and Mrs. James Traverse, as covered in the gossip columns of the Benton Harbor Herald-Palladium.

U.S. Census records for 1940 and 1950 list Belle sharing a household with her divorced daughter in Southfield, MI (1950) and Novi, MI (1950).

Belle passed away three days before Christmas 1951 in the Novi Convalescent Home operated by her daughter. Rev. A. Stanley Stone conducted the funeral. The body was transported to Constantine Township Cemetery for interment.

Daughter Mattie Weikel (1889- ? ), also spelled "Matie," was born on Feb. 11, 1889 in Michigan. She may have married the same man twice. On March 31, 1917, in Detroit, the 28-year-old Mattie entered into marriage with 26-year-old Leonard De Pagter/Depagter (1891-1957), son of William and Minnie (Muste) De Pagter of Grand Rapids. Justice of the peace James Martin officiated. Federal census enumeration records for 1920 list the pair in Detroit, with Leonard's 23-year-old brother Lambert in the household. As of 1920, Leonard worked as a photo engraver for photographers and Mattie as a hand sewer for an automobile manufacturer. It is possible that the couple divorced in the early 1920s. The second time she wed Leonard was at the age of 37, when she lived in Detroit and was employed as a clerk. On July 29, 1927, was again joined in wedlock with De Pagter. Officiating their second wedding was Rev. Ben T. Leonard. The De Pagters are known to have been in Detroit in 1930-1931, where he worked as a photo engraver for an advertising firm and she as a manager of a rooming house on King Avenue. For 35 years, he is known to have engraved photos for publication in the Detroit News. Census records for 1930 show six lodgers in the dwelling-place. The couple divorced in Macomb County, MI on Nov. 28, 1938, with Mattie accusing her spouse of "extreme cruelty." Census records in 1940 indicate that Mattie and her 80-year-old mother shared a residence in Southfield, Oakland County, MI, with Mattie self-employed running a dog kennel. She is known circa 1939 to have shown chow-chow dogs in competition in the Blue Water Kennel Club Dog show and in 1942 at the Muncie (IN) Kennel Club Six Annual All-Breed Dog Show. In 1942, one of her dogs was pictured in the book How to Raise and Train Your Puppy by Bob Becker. She also was named in a 1944 article in Dog World, which said she "has been very successful at shows lately with her Trade Wind..." Census records in 1950 list Mattie and her 90-year-old mother in the same home, with Mattie now running the Novi Convalescent Home in Oakland County. Her final fate is not known.

Former husband Leonard at age 51 on Oct. 3, 1942 was joined in wedlock with 41-year-old Margaret (Brom) LeClerc ( ? - ? ), a native of Alexandria, IN and the daughter of Henry and Gertrude (Peltzer) Brom. The marriage was conducted in Mt. Clemens, MI by justice of the peace Frank E. Jeannette. At the time, both Leonard and his second bride dwelled in St. Clair Shores, MI. Margaret brought two stepdaughters into the union -- Audrey Howard Sloan of Hollywood, CA and Shirley Ann Ryan of Mt. Clemens, MI. They belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church of Grand Rapids. He eventually retired and in 1956 moved to Playmore along the Myakka River near Venice, FL. He died in hospital in Rochester, MN on May 27, 1957, with an obituary appearing in the Tampa Bay Times. His remains were interred in Sarasota Memorial Park following services led by Rev. Robert I. White of the Venice Nokomis Presbyterian Church.


Copyright 2007, 2019, 2022 Mark A. Miner