A Memorial Day Remembrance -Who Were the Parents of Lewis Travis?

Who were the parents of Lewis Travis?

A genealogy conundrum appears in my Travis line in the late 1700’s. Lewis Travis my 3rd great-grandfather was born in Yorktown NY about 1796.  His death record in 1881 Greenville Michigan states that his father’s name was Annanias and his mother’s name was Jemima.[1] That should end the question of parentage. 

However, the conundrum appears in the written family history written by Lewis’ son Theodore Norman Travis in 1912. That history has not been available for reading online until recently. It took several weeks of discussions with the FHL to change the status of the book from protected, because it has been out of copyright for years, and to release the book for reading online.

The history states for the confusion of all that Lewis’ father was Joseph Travis the son of Ananias Travis.[2] For reasons that appear below including the lack of any evidence supporting Theodore’s statement it is likely that Theodore’s account is mistaken and that Lewis Travis’ father was named Ananias Travis as recorded in the Michigan death records.

Theodore begins his account with a story I have heard repeated in several different family lines in my own and other families.  That is the story of three brothers who went from England to North America long ago eventually losing contact with each other.  Sometimes the story is embellished with an account of a rolling pin or bed leg cut in three pieces and given to them in parting by their father to remember their home by. Theodore’s account posits from thin air that the brothers fought in the American Revolution and the two unaccounted for brothers of Ananias possibly died as brave soldiers fighting for the birth of the new country. 

Theodore goes on to state that Lewis’ father Joseph, a son of Ananias, moved to various locations around the colonies after the war, and that Joseph and wife eventually resided with their son Lewis in Cato NY where both parents died near the date that Lewis purchased land on the road between Cato and Jordan NY.[3]

Lewis Travis farm near Cato NY 1853 (marked by red arrow)

The account goes on to say that Lewis’ first wife Laura Doane died after the birth of their third child in 1829, leaving Lewis as a widower with three children.[4] In Theodore’s account Lewis’ subsequent marriage, to Minerva Roberts took place in 1830 as did the birth of their first child Steven Roberts Travis.[5]

1859 Cato NY Plat

Theodore provides a nice map of the Lewis Travis homestead in Cato that neatly corresponds with a plat of Cayuga County NY from 1859 (above), including a right of way path to nearby Cross Lake. Lewis is mentioned in a deed as purchaser of a Cato property in 1835 and, if this is the same property, that puts the deaths of his parents between 1830 and 1835 and their burials probably near to the Travis farm.[6] The Lewis Travis family left Cato by1860 according to both Theodore’s account and the 1860 census that shows them in Michigan.[7]

As mentioned at the start of this discussion there is a dearth of evidence supporting Theodore’s claim that Lewis Travis’ father is Joseph Travis or that Joseph Travis was the son of a recent immigrant from England. A careful search of the records shows no such relationship or origin.  However there is a plethora of evidence showing that Lewis’ father is Ananias Travis descended from a longtime Westchester County NY Travis family. 

Ananias Travis’ father Joshua was born in 1729 at Cortlandt Manor Westchester NY and died 1804 in Yorktown Westchester NY the county where his forebears settled in the 1600’s.[8] His will mentions his oldest son Ananias.[9]  The fact that Ananias married Jemima Walters (probably Waters) in 1789 is given in Yorktown’s Presbyterian minister’s journal, The journal of the Reverend Silas Constant. [10] Joshua Travis is mentioned in the 1792 will of his father David Travis.[11]

Lewis Travis’ second wife Minerva Roberts is mentioned in an Onondaga NY property deed of her late father John Loomis Roberts.[12] One of Lewis’ sons mentioned in Theodore’s account, later scratched out, carried the name of Lewis Travis’ second wife Minerva Roberts’ father, John Loomis Roberts. [13]

Minerva’s mother Isabella Roberts is also mentioned in that Onondaga NY property deed and she is also noted as living with Lewis and family in 1855 in Cato.[14] As an interesting aside if you are related to this family and want to join the SSAR or DAR then see the Joel Roberts chapter in my book Discover Your Roots! How I Found My North American and Revolutionary War Ancestors for additional details and SSAR validation of descent from Joel Roberts.

John Loomis Roberts, is deceased by 1829 as evidenced by the deed mentioning him as lately deceased.[15] He had a brother Samuel Roberts whose name appears on the same census page as Ananias Travis in 1830.[16] [17]

1830 Cincinnatus NY Census

The above facts pertaining to Isabella and Minerva Roberts are useful in analyzing the 1830 Cincinnatus NY census. On page 11/16 of that census we see Samuel Roberts (top), David White (middle) and Ananias Travis (bottom of page) age 80-89. 

According to Theodore Travis’ account page 2, Joseph Travis, Theodore’s proposed father of Lewis Travis, had a daughter Tamar who married a David White.[18] That Ananias Travis, Samuel Roberts and David White appear on this same census page strongly indicates knowledge of each other and indicates potentially established relationships. Tamar and her husband David White are buried together in Cincinnatus NY.[19]

Buttressing Theodore’s account Lewis Travis is found on the 1830 Cato NY census. He has two mature women in his house in 1830 possibly his mother and his new spouse.[20]

Lewis Travis’ death record shows his parents Ananias and Jemima Travis.  They married in Yorktown NY in 1789. Ananias was the son of Joshua Travis who was the son of David Travis. Ananias is living near his daughter and son-in-law Tamar and David White and also near to Samuel Roberts the uncle of Lewis Travis’ second wife, in Cincinnatus NY in 1830.

Ananias Travis is Lewis Travis’ father and they descend from a family that settled in Westchester NY in the 1600’s. Joshua Travis, Ananias Travis, David Travis and the Reverend Silas Constant all appear on the same page of the 1790 Yorktown NY census, (below).

The facts above dispute Theodore’s account of the family origins and of the name of Lewis Travis’ father. Theodore wrote his account late in life in 1912 from memory when he was 77 years old, nine years before his death, which possibly accounts for his embellishments and jumbled facts. He prefaced the book with a caveat that not all of the facts given from memory in the book could be vouched for as 100% accurate.

Theodore Norman Travis is buried in the Elwell Michigan Wright family cemetery along with many of my Wright family relatives. Travis, Wright, Clark, Orvis, Wood and other associated family researchers owe him a wary debt of gratitude and a hearty thank you to those who made the book and additional clippings available to the Family History Library. 

It is timely that as I finished this writing huge explosions of Memorial Day fireworks were set off by a municipal fireworks nearby. By researching our ancestry we can remember our progenitors and discover some of the times and places in which they lived. The families mentioned in this article helped to shape this country and memorializing some of their varied history on Memorial Day seems more than appropriate.

Copyright Bruce Wright, Esq. May 30, 2022

[1] Michigan U.S. Deaths and Burials Index, FHL Film Number:1295523 https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/963910:2549?ssrc=pt&tid=54170672&pid=26883836675

[2] Theodore Norman Travis, History of Ananias Travis’s Descendants, p.2, handwritten, later transcribed, unpublished 1912. https://www.familysearch.org/library/books/records/item/320592-redirect#page=1&viewer=picture&o=&n=0&q=

[3] Id., p.3.

[4] Id.

[5] Id., p.2-3.

[6] Id., p.31-34.

[7] Lyon Michigan, 1860 Census. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7667/images/4232709_00072?pId=45195648

[8] Cemetery inscriptions of Westchester County, N.Y., https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/20399/images/dvm_LocHist006655-00093-0?pId=8F

[9] New York Probate Records, 1629-1971  Westchester, p.92, vol. D-F, 451/632, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L992-Q8TP?i=450&wc=Q75S-MN5%3A213305501%2C231379601&cc=1920234

[10] The journal of the Reverend Silas Constant  p.374 https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/392:20738?ssrc=pt&tid=54170672&pid=26883852477

[11] David Travis will, 1792. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-8992-39J2-G?i=471&wc=Q759-VZ9%3A213305501%2C231365201&cc=1920234

[12] United States, New York Land Records, 1630-1975, Onondaga, vol. QQ p.214. https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/collection/1030/tree/54170672/person/120156793512/media/94fb1dce-3175-4c72-a7ca-784dbe2d3da1?_phsrc=rQk7&usePUBJs=true&galleryindex=1&sort=-created

[13] Theodore Norman Travis, History of Ananias Travis’s Descendants, p.3, handwritten, later transcribed, unpublished 1912.

[14] New York, U.S., State Census, 1855, New York, U.S., State Census, 1855. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7181/images/005207172_00478?backurl=https%253A%252F%252Fwww.ancestry.com%252Ffamily-tree%252Fperson%252Ftree%252F54170672%252Fperson%252F26883836675%252Ffacts&pid=1653820530

[15] United States, New York Land Records, 1630-1975  Onondaga, vol. QQ p.214. https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/collection/1030/tree/54170672/person/120156793512/media/94fb1dce-3175-4c72-a7ca-784dbe2d3da1?_phsrc=rQk7&usePUBJs=true&galleryindex=1&sort=-created

[16] Descendants of Joseph Loomis in America, and his antecedents in the Old world, p.141. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/10387/images/dvm_GenMono000225-00120-0?pId=182

[17] Cincinnatus, NY 1830 Census. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/8058/images/4409681_00056?pId=1497334

[18] Theodore Norman Travis, History of Ananias Travis’s Descendants, p.2, handwritten, later transcribed, unpublished 1912.

[19] David and Tamar White grave marker. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/132683068/tamar-white?_gl=17yqs5m_gaOTY0MjU0MzM2LjE2NTM4NTg3NTE._ga_4QT8FMEX30*MTY1Mzg2OTI0Ni4zLjEuMTY1Mzg3MDU0Ni4w

[20] Cato, NY 1830 Census. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/8058/images/4409681_00830?backurl=https%253A%252F%252Fwww.ancestry.com%252Ffamily-tree%252Fperson%252Ftree%252F54170672%252Fperson%252F26883836675%252Ffacts&pid=1507402

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