A BRIEF HISTORY OF JOSEPH GORDON AND SOME OF HIS DESCENDANTS
It is uncertain where Joseph Gordon (1753-6/1843) was born, in Northern Ireland or Lancaster County Pennsylvania. At any rate in the spring of 1776 he enlisted in the 12th Pennsylvania Regiment at Northumberland, PA. His company commander was Hawkins Boone, who was said to have been a cousin of Daniel Boone. The 12th Regiment was engaged in the Battle of Brandywine where it was almost totally decimated. They went into winter encampment with Gen. Washington and because many men and officers had been killed or wounded at the Battle of Brandywine, were merged with the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment and then into the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment of the Continental Army. They were engaged at Germantown and Monmouth.
In early January 1781 the regiment was merged into the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment and then mustered out of service at Trenton, NJ. The officers and men were discharged to return to their homes. Joseph had served for 4 years.
Following his discharge from service at Trenton he went to Derby, Connecticut, where it is said in an affidavit to his pension application, "he came to his friends" he may have married there, but a record hasn’t been found for that, yet. Following his time in Derby, he migrated to Montgomery Co., New York and at some point prior to 1808, to Sullivan TWP Madison County, New York near Bridgeport.
In 1818 he applied for a pension from the United States Government, which was granted. He applied for an additional pension in 1820, which was also granted, totaling a whopping $100.00 a year.
Subsequent to his 1820 pension application and prior to 1825 he moved to Willet, Cortland Co., New York, where he resided until his death in June of 1843.
In 1936 the DAR found his grave in Willet and marked it.
Joseph was married twice but his first wife’s name has never been found. This marriage produced at least two children, James Joseph Gordon (est. 1792-1865)) and John (est. 1795-1870).
Joseph’s second wife was named Ruth, but her surname is unknown. He had 5 children by his second wife - Anna, Lovina, Erastus, Prudence, and Amanda.
Nothing is known of the 1st four children but Amanda married Isaac Campbell in Willet and emigrated to Spring Green, Wisconsin.
James Joseph and John Gordon were farming in Lenox TWP Madison Co., NY in 1830 but they both had left that county and moved to neighboring Oswego Co. prior to 1840. They probably went to Oswego for better farmland. Many soldiers from Madison County returned from Sackett’s Harbor by walking through Oswego County and noted the better land. Many of them later sold their holdings in Madison County and migrated to Oswego. One of them was John P. Yerton, the father of Rozilda L. (Yerton) Gordon
James Joseph was a veteran of the War of 1812 and was wounded at Sackett’s Harbor. He was married twice and at least one of his children by his first marriage came to live in Wisconsin, Charlotte Sabrina (Gordon) Shaver.
He lived out his life in Central Square, Oswego Co., NY and died there after 1865.
John was engaged in the manufacturing trade in Oswego, NY and was living in Central Square before 1836 as Aurilla there in that year and George Horton and Oscar LeRoy were born there in 1836 and 1840.
John, his wife Martha (Congdon) Gordon and 6 of their children (Libia, Robinson, Warren, Aurilla, George and Oscar) left Oswego County NY in the spring of 1847. They came to Wisconsin via packet boat on the Erie Canal and then by steamboat on the Great Lakes. There was no rail transportation to Wisconsin at the time, but several steamboats made twice-weekly trips from Buffalo, NY to Milwaukee and Chicago when the lakes were free of ice and navigable.
They settled first in Ashippun TWP, Dodge Co.
Their eldest son James Congdon Gordon stayed behind in Central Square with his wife Rozilda L. (Yerton); he was a cooper by trade. Probably building wooden barrels for the flourmills at Syracuse or the salt manufactures in Oswego County.
Before 1860 John and Martha had relocated to Monroe Co., where they were living near Hoffman’s Corner in Wellington TWP. Their youngest son Oscar was the only one of their offspring still living with them. The rest of the family had either married or left to make it on their own.
Before 1856 James C. and Rozilda left Central Square, Oswego Co., NY and had settled in Concord TWP, Jefferson Co. where James had taken up farming.
Robinson T. had married Sarah Jane Willard of Concord; Jefferson County and they were farming in Wellington TWP. He was also going by the name Robert by then rather than his given name.
Warren probably had returned to New York and married his wife Electa there as his first daughter, Lovina, was born in New York State about 1859. They were back in Concord by 1862 as their second child Ida was born there about that year.
Aurilla married James Willard of Concord and they were living there in 1860. James Willard was the brother of Sarah Jane Willard and Elizabeth Willard Tindel. Their parents were William and Mary (Crouch) Willard who were natives of England.
George was living near Ripon, WI.
In the autumn of 1861 after the War of the Rebellion (Civil War) had broken out between the North and the South, two of the Gordon "boys" joined Wisconsin military units in support of the Union.
George Horton, who was fur trapping near Ripon, joined "I" Company, 11th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry on 9 October 1861. The 11th Wisconsin Infantry was mustered in at Camp Randall in Madison and when training was complete they were sent to Missouri and then down to Arkansas. George was engaged in battle and wounded at the Battle of Bayou Cache (Arkansas) on 2 July 1862 when Confederate soldiers ambushed his Company near the Cache River. At the end of his original enlistment he re-enlisted as a Wagoneer. George was later involved at the Battle of Vicksburg (Mississippi) and other battles, and was in the hospital at Dauphin Island Alabama when the war ended, and was still absent from his unit, in the hospital, when the 11th Wisconsin Infantry was mustered out at Madison, Wisconsin in September 1865.
Oscar LeRoy enlisted shortly after George, at Wellington, in "A" Company 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry in October 1861. His regiment was mustered at Janesville, Wisconsin. His service was almost exclusively in the West and Indian Territory. He served until January of 1865, when the 3rd Cavalry Regiment was mustered out of Federal service.
Their eldest brother James joined the 42nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry at Wellington in September 1864 to take the place of another man from the town of Lisbon in Waukesha County. The 42nd never saw combat but James was selected to be part of the Honor Guard for President Lincoln’s body as it passed through Cairo, Illinois and southern Illinois on its way to Springfield after his assassination. He spent most of his enlistment escorting Confederate Prisoners of War to New York for internment.
When the Civil War was ended and their Regiments were mustered out, the Gordon brothers returned to Concord, WI; first Oscar then James and finally George when he was recovered enough to travel home from the military hospital in Mobile, Alabama.
In 1867 James C. bought 40 acres in Section 31, Wellington TWP and moved there from Concord with his wife Rozilda, sons James Melvin, John Peter, William W., George H. and Leonard L., and daughters Martha D., Mary Rozilda, and Alice F.
In 1873 James C. received a grant for 160 acres in Sect. 31. This was a Veteran’s Homestead Grant that was signed by U.S. Grant who was then President of the United States.
Following his re-enlistment in the 11th Wisconsin Infantry in January 1864, George returned to Princeton in Green Lake County and married an Irish immigrant, Mary Hellen Brice from County Donegal.
By 1870 George and Mary Hellen had taken up farming in Lincoln TWP., Monroe, Co.
Oscar was working in a sawmill at Warrens Mills.
Martha Gordon passed away sometime after the 1860 census and before the 1870 census, it’s assumed that she might have died in Wellington TWP and John had returned to Concord where he was living with Warren and Electa. As there is no record of John after the 1870 census it’s assumed that he died between then and before the 1880 census was taken. He may have died in Concord, WI or he may have gone with Warren and his family to Missouri.
Aurilla, her husband James and their family were still living in Concord.
James C. farmed his land in Wellington TWP until he retired. His sons, George H., William W. and Leonard L. took over farming the land. The Gordon boys were well known in the area for their teams of horses.
James C. died in 1909. George H. died in 1931, William W. in 1935 and Leonard L. in 1942. The farm remained in the family until Leonard’s wife; Goldie sold it in 1945. She died in Viroqua in 1967.
The Gordon Family Cemetery was established on the farm; James C., Rozilda L, and their children, Alice F., George H., William W., Leonard L., Leonard’s wife Goldie are buried there. Herbert Bickford, the son of Martha Gordon is also buried in that cemetery.
There are three other slabs are in the cemetery that have nothing engraved on them.
Robinson (Robert) farmed in Wellington TWP until he moved to Forest TWP of Vernon County. He and Sarah Jane Willard were divorced and in October of 1873 he married her sister Elizabeth A. Willard Tindel. Robert died in 1915 and Elizabeth died in 1918. They are both buried in Mt. Tabor TWP, Vernon County. As late as 2004 a descendant of Robert and Elizabeth was still farming in Wellington TWP.; Sherrill (Jack) Gordon had a dairy farm section 22. Several other descendants still reside in Monroe Co.
George left Monroe Co. and farmed for some time in Jackson Co. and then went North to Chippewa County, Rusk County and finally Chetek in Barron County where he died in 1920. He and Mary Hellen are buried in Lakeview Cemetery at Chetek.
He attended the GAR reunion in Vicksburg in 1918.
A granddaughter and several great grandchildren of George and Mary Hellen are still living in Monroe Co.
Oscar also left Monroe Co., married Adeline Curavo Little, the widow of John Little, and took up farming near Chetek in Barron County. Later on he went to the Southen states where he cut railroad ties for about 8 years in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. He returned to Wisconsin first settling in Rusk County but later relocated to Chetek where he died in 1916. Oscar and Adeline are buried in Lakeview Cemetery at Chetek.
Clyde Alvin Gordon was the only child of the marriage between Oscar and Adeline. He was killed at Chateau Thierry in France in July of 1918 during World War I. Alvin’s body was returned to the United States and he is also interred in Lakeview Cemetery with his parents.
Warren and Electa left Concord in Jefferson County sometime after 1870 and it is assumed that the family went to Parksville, Platte Co., Missouri, which is where Electa and her son Charles E. were listed in the 1880 census. Electa was widowed before that census was taken. It’s probable that Warren died there. In 2006 a descendant of Charles Elmer Gordon, the only son of Warren and Electa Gordon made contact with the author. There had been no knowledge of this family since 1870.
There is no record of Libia after the 1850 census in Dodge Co.
THE CHILDREN OF JAMES CONGDON & ROZILDA L. (Yerton) GORDON
(James Melvin, John Peter, Alice F., William W., Martha D., Mary Rozilda, George H., Joseph Henry, and Leonard L.)
James Melvin "Mel" Gordon was born at Central Square, NY. He married Betsy Hellen Lillie at Tomah, WI.
Two of their daughters are buried at the Cal Day Cemetery. Their son Warren was killed at Warrens, WI when he jumped off a train near his home. He is buried in Warrens.
Mel and Betsy Lillie moved to Nebraska where he was a farm machinery dealer, hotel owner and a peace officer. Betsy Gordon had a millinery business. They both died in Nebraska, Betsy in 1921 Randolph and Mel in 1941 in Anselmo. They are both interred in Randolph, Nebraska.
John Peter "Pete" Gordon was also born at Central Square, NY. He married Martha Ida Parker in Glendale TWP. They farmed near Gays Mills, Crawford Co. and in Monroe Co. until he took up a land grant East of Chetek in Gates (later Rusk) county on Fish Lake. He built a log cabin for his family. It is still in use to this date, but no longer used as a dwelling. After settling his family at the new property he returned to Monroe Co. and drove his livestock up to the new land. During the winter months he was gone from the family as he worked in the lumber camps. He bought land in Murry TWP of Rusk County and farmed it. He was also a policeman at Ladysmith. He was shot in the arm by a bank robber, who obviously knew him as he leaned over and said "I’m sorry Pete, but I had to do that". Both John Peter and Martha died on their farm in Murry TWP., Rusk County WI. Martha died in 1931 and Pete in 1937. They are buried in Exeland, Sawyer Co., WI.
Alice Gordon never married and was probably the first person buried in the Gordon Private Cemetery on the farm.
William W. "Bill" Gordon never married, and was living on the family farm when he died.
George H. is said to have married Bertha Gust and a child is registered as being born to them in 1900, however there doesn’t appear to be a record of their marriage. He was also living on the family farm at the time of his death.
Martha D. Gordon married John Bickford they had a son, Herbert, who died young. They divorced.
She married Clarence Culver at Wellington TWP. and later moved to Douglas Co., Wisconsin where she died.
Mary Rozilda Gordon married Delevin Drum in Wellington TWP. They moved to Ladysmith, WI in Rusk County. He was a merchant. All of their children were born at Kendall. Their son Ralph was a Captain in the Field Artillery during World War I and was wounded at Fismes, France.
Mary and Delevin died at Ladysmith in 1945 & 1941 respectively.
Joseph Henry "Joe" Gordon married Lola Moses at Ontario in Vernon County, they went City Point in Jackson County and then to Ladysmith, WI. He was a blacksmith and was still attending his hearth and anvil when he was over 80. He died in Ladysmith in 1949.
Leonard "Len" Gordon married Goldie Willard, the granddaughter of his aunt Aurilla. Her Grandparents raised Goldie. They never had children.
Aurilla Gordon Willard came to live with Len and Goldie after her husband James Willard died. She died there on Christmas day 1923. She is buried with her husband James at in Concord, WI.
Ida May Willard Buske, who was Goldies mother, also came to live with Leonard and Goldie. She died there in 1932.
THE CHILDREN OF GEORGE HORTON AND MARY HELLEN GORDON
Alvin Gordon married Julia Tallman and later Myrtle Lange; he died in Michigan in 1953.
Alvina married Edgar Hewitt in Warrens. She died in the Town of Sampson, Chippewa County in 1902.
Milo W. married Edna Mae Gordon on July 8, 1900, the daughter of John Peter Gordon and they had issue of 8 sons and 2 daughters..
Milo was killed in a bridge construction accident in Barron County in 1922.
Edna died in Eau Claire, Wisconsin in 1964 and is buried at Chetek, WI.
Myrtle married John Gotham at Warrens. She died in 1934 at Chetek, Wisconsin.
John also died there after 1947.
Elmer Eugene died as an infant.
An annual reunion of the various branches of the Gordon family is held at Wildcat Mountain State Park, Ontario, WI.
All descendants of these Gordon families are welcome to attend.
James D. Thalacker
“The civilized man has a moral obligation to be skeptical, to demand the credentials of all statements that claim to be facts.”