Friday, February 3, 2012


1887 Partial Map of Somers Township
Section 27, Pedley parcel

Pedley Family - John and Delilah and Children
(Source:  Photo courtesy of Robert Swartz.)
13 Children of John and Delilah Pedley
David, born about 1961
John, Jr. born about 1863
Clara, born about 1864
Ida, born about 1865
Leuella born about 1867
Martha born about 1869
William born about 1871
Frank born about 1873
Delia (Julia)? born about 1875
Ernest born about 1877
Ralph born about 1880
Etta born about 1884
Ralph born about 1880

Children of John and Delilah Pedley
Left to Right Back Row: Frank, John, Ernest, Etta, Emma, Willliam and Lou.
Left to Right Front Row:  Ralph, Ida and Guy.  Absent from photo are Clara, Dave, and Delia.
(Source:  Photo courtesy of Robert Swartz.)
John Pedley (1837 - 1922)
I think his given name at birth was Jonathan but he was known as, and his tombstone and obituary list him as John, so I have used that name.
A biography of his son, David, says that John was born at Sutton, Cambridgeshire, England.  It says he came to America in 1847 and landed at New York.  He went west to Wisconsin and located in Somers, Kenosha County.

In the 1860 Federal Census of the Town of Somers, he was listed in the household of W. H. Merrill. Merrill was only three years older than John.  John was listed as a farmer.  Also in the Merrill household was Delia (Delilah) C. Burton.  She was listed as a servant.  They must have married shortly after the census
The 1870 Kenosha County Directory recorded that he leased 1/2 acre from William Smith in Section 14, of Somers Township.  In the 1870 population census, he was listed in the Town of Somers as a farmer with no real estate but personal property worth $300.  Living with him was his wife and six children.  The 1880 Agricultural Census indicates that he rented his land and that he had 153 tilled acres, 85 acres of permanent pasture and 75 acres of woodland.  The value of the farm land was $12,750, implements was $350 and livestock was $350.  He paid $100 in wages in 1879 for 10 weeks of work.  The estimated value of his farm production was $1,500.  He produced 20 tons of hay from 30 acres.  He had 6 horses, 9 milk cows, 14 other cattle, 8 calves dropped, 3 cattle purchased and 23 cattle sold live.  His farm produced 1,000 lbs. of butter in 1879.  He had 68 sheep in 1880 and had 45 lambs dropped.  He sold 70 live, slaughtered one and lost two to disease.  He had 68 shearing fleeces in 1880 and the weight of the fleeces was 408 lbs.  He had 5 pigs and 40 chickens and his chickens produced 400 dozen eggs in 1879.  He cut 80 cords of wood.  He grew the following field crops:
     One acre of barley and produced 20 bu.
     12 acres of corn and produced 1,125 bu.
     20 acres of oats and produced 600 bu.
     10 acres of wheat and produced 100 bu.
     1/2 acre of potatoes and produced 50 bu.
     5 acres of apple orchard and 150 bearing trees that produced 150 bu. of apples valued at 450.
     25 acres of flax producing 280 bu. and 10 tons of straw.
In the 1880 federal census, he was listed in the Town of Somers.  His wife and nine children were listed with him.
(Source:  Information written above by Robert Swartz.)

The Pedley Family, Town of Somers, Kenosha County, Wisconsin
Click on image for larger view.
(Source:  Photo courtesy of Robert Swartz)

John Pedley Obituary
John Pedley, one of the oldest and best known residents of Racine and Kenosha counties, died on February 27, at the Kenosha Hospital, being 84 years and six months old.  He was born in Sutton Isle of Elly, England on August 27, 1837.  He came to America at the age of 12 years old and was employed as a driver for a tow boat on the Erie canal.  Later he came west and assisted in getting out ties for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad company and had the pleasure of seeing the first trains run over this road.
Mr. Pedley was united in marriage to Delilah Burton and he then engaged in farming and assisted in clearing and developing some of the best farms in Racine and Kenosha counties.  He purchased the Locust Hill farm, consisting of 320 acres in the Township of Somers, in the spring of 1832.  He resided there until he retired from active farming on March 1, 1906, at which time he moved to Kenosha.
During his residence in Somers Township, Mr. Pedley took a great interest in politics, being a Republican, but always advocated that the best qualified candidate should be elected.  He was also an advocate of good roads.
To Mr. and Mrs. Pedley were born 13 children all of whom are living.  He is also survived by 88 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.  His wife died eight years ago.
The funeral will be held at the Hansen Funeral parlors at 10:30.
(Source:  Racine Journal March 1, 1922)

Ralph Pedley, Rural Route #34 Mail Carrier
(Source:  Original photo courtesy of Robert Swartz.)

Pedley Family Picnic about 1915
"The boy right in the middle of the photo is my father.  The third female from the right is my Aunt Loretta.  Just over her right shoulder is (I believe) John Pedley.  Just behind John Pedley is, I believe, my grandfather, John F. Swartz.
Click on photo for larger view.
(Source:  Original photo and caption courtesy of Robert Swartz.)

 John Pedley Death Information
His death certificate (Vol. 10, pg. 634, Kenosha) says that he was a resident of 273 Bronson St.  It says that he was born in England and his father's name was Jonathan and that his mother's name was not known.  The certificate was signed by Dave Pedley.  It says he died of uremia due to obstruction from enlarged prostate.  It says he was buried at Greenridge Cemetery on March 2, 1922. 
I have an obituary from the Kenosha News of Feb. 28, 1922.  It says that his father's name was Jonathon Pedley.  It says that he was known as "one of the most progressive farmers of that part of the country."  It says he died at Kenosha hospital, "...just after four o'clock after an illness of a week's duration."  He lived alone at his home at 373 Bronson Street.

John and Delilah Burton Pedley
Photo taken in their home.
(Source:  Original photo courtesy of Robert Swartz.)
John Pedley Obituary
I have another obituary, from an undated Kenosha Evening News that states:

The pioneers of the Town of Somers are rapidly passing on.  Their ranks are fast being thinned by the unconquerable hand of Death, and but a remnant now remains of those early sturdy settlers who came to this vicinity.  John Pedley departed this life at the Kenosha  His death marks the passing of a man who had been affiliated with the activities of the Town of Somers, one whose influence has counted in the up building and development of the town and the county.  He was born in Sutton, Isle of Ely, England, August 27, 1837, and came to America at the age of 12 and was first employed as a driver on a tow boat on the Erie Canal.  Later he came west and assisted in getting out ties for the Chicago & Northwestern Railway and he had the pleasure of seeing the first trains pass over this now famous road.  About this time he was united in marriage to Miss Delilah Burton, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. David Burton of the Township of Paris, who preceded him in death eight years.  He then became interested in agriculture and aided in clearing and developing some of the finest farms of Racine and Kenosha counties.  In the spring of 1882 he purchased the "Locust Hill Farm", of 320 acres and resided there until his retirement from active farming in March of 1906, when he and his wife moved to Kenosha.  In politics he was a staunch Republican, but always advocated the best candidate should be elected.  He was always a strong supporter of good roads.  His last days were made as comfortable as possible surrounded by his children and given the best medical attention.  It can be said Mr. Pedley by those who know him well, that he was a man of wonderful personality, never complaining, could always smile and speak a word of cheer.  His death came as the end of a perfect life in which he made friends of all with whom he came in contact.  Funeral services were held from the Hansen funeral parlors, Kenosha Thursday morning at 10:30 o'clock.

Comment Notes from Robert Swartz.  February 2012.
Leon Northway wrote in a letter that his mother said that John Pedley went back to England to visit relatives in the 1880s or 1890s.

I have several photographs of him.  I also have a photo of what was said to be his house and "Locust Hill Farm".  The barn and "Locust Hill Farm" still stood until the mid-1990s and I took a photograph of it before it was destroyed.

Delilah (Burton) Pedley (1840-1913)
She was born in New York State and came to Wisconsin with her father, his second wife, and her four sisters. She was listed in the 1850 federal census of the Town of Pike (Somers) in the home of her father and step-mother. She shows up in the 1860 census in the house of W.H. Merrill, where she worked as a domestic. Her future husband, John Pedley, was also employed by Merrill.

Letter written by Delilah to a sister dated November 27, 1864 (Source:  Letter contents courtesy of Robert Swartz.  Written "as is". Copyright February 2012.  All Rights Reserved.)
Dear Sister
"I now sit down to answer your very welcome letter which I received two weeks ago and was very glad to hear that you was well but was sorry to here that your mother met with such an accident. I hope she has got well before now I am very lonsome today. John has gone to illanois with the sheep. he went two weeks ago last Thursday. I have to stay all A lone with my babies. I went to one of my sisters and stade a week with them. it is verry lonsome to stay all alone night and day with three little children like mine so long and when he comes home he cannot stay more than a month before he will have to go again and stay and help take care of them one month more. I tell you I shall be glad when we get off from this farm. We dont expect to make anny thing but our living and hardley that. The man that owns the farm is one of the meanest men living. he is one of those sick men that makes monney their god. he would take the very bread out of our mouths if he could for A cent if we starved he abuses john the worst kind of way he knows how. he is so mean and insulting there is no one that knows him but dislikes him. there is a mistake about the babys name. I gess John did not spell it wright. his name is John grant. he was born on the 21 of feb instead of the twenty 2 as John wrote to you. you said that johny's picter was ________ that was John work. he put it in the letter before I knew any thing about it and sealed it up so i should not read it. he said that I allways make funn of his letters and i should not rad them. i gess he would have a chance to turn the joke on me if he was here. I dont wright to any one but you and not to you very often. I tell John that you had rather have him wright than me because he can wright a better letter than I can. I think it is A shame that he does not wright to Father Pedley often. Johny has a hard time cutting teeth. he has been verry sick with the last four. They all come at once. he has six now. He can go all over the house shoving a chare. Clara is A fat roge in all kinds of mischief and David kan to much better. I gess i have written pretty much all the news this time and the children want to go to bed. kiss naty for me. David thinks he ought to have a pare of boots as well as natie. he says he will asked pa to by him some when he comes home. you must excuse my scribling. I send my best love and wishes to you and folks."
from Delia Pedley

Wright Soon

Comment Notes from Robert Swartz, February 2012
There are two interesting inferences that can be made from this letter. First, the letter is addressed, "Dear Sister", but she then makes a reference to staying with "one of my sisters", rather than saying "one of OUR sisters". I suspect that the letter was written to one her half-sisters, a daughter of David Burton by his second wife. It seems to be the only explanation of why she would write anything so paradoxical. Related to this is the question of how this letter ended up in Kenosha, since I believe her half-sisters lived in California. It is also interesting that she says that it is a shame that her husband, John, "does not wright [sic] to Father Pedley often." This suggest that John Pedley's father was still alive in 1864.  In the 1870 and 1880 censuses of the Town of Somers, she was listed with her husband and children.

Mrs. John Pedley Obituary
Mrs. John Pedley meets with Fatal Accident at Her Home on Saturday
Husband of the woman is Painfully Burned in an Effort to Save the Life of His Wife
Details of the Accident Will Probably Never be Known
Mrs. Dalilah Pedley, seventy-three years of age, wife of John Pedley and a pioneer resident of the town of Somers, was fatally burned at the family residence on Bronson Street on Saturday afternoon and she died just before midnight after six hours of almost inhuman suffering. The details of the case will probably never be known as Mrs. Pedley was alone in the house at the time of the fire and she was so terribly burned that she was unable to give any statement in regard to the manner in which her clothing were ignited. It is thought that Mrs. Pedley, who was infirm from age, had made an effort to start a fire in the kitchen range and that she fell over the stove, her clothing catching fire from the blazing paper in the range. The accident occurred just after five o'clock Saturday afternoon and Mrs. Pedley struggling against the flames, was discovered by her husband within a few minutes after her clothing had caught fire. When her husband reached the house the old lady had already been burned to such an extent that it was impossible to save her life. With great presence of mind her husband wrapped a carpet about her and extinguished the flames and then he extinguished the flames in the house and carried his wife to the bed room. Dr. Thompson was called to attend the stricken woman and everything possible was done to lessen the pain in the few hours that she survived. On Saturday afternoon Mrs. Pedley had entertained her sister Mrs. Chaffee from Racine and just before five o'clock the sister had left for her home. Mrs. Pedley had started to prepare the evening meal and Mr. Pedley went to a nearby meat market to get some meat for supper. As he returned to the house he heard his wife screaming for help and he rushed into the house to find her standing in a mass of flames against a window casing of the kitchen. In his efforts to rescue his wife from her peril Mr. Pedley himself was terribly burned about both of his hands and arms. He seemed not to realize his own danger and all through the evening gave his most tender attention to his stricken helpmate. Mrs. Pedley became unconscious shortly after she was burned and until death came she was kept wrapped in oiled blankets. The woman's entire body was scorched by the flames. Her clothing had been burned from her and her face and arms and head were one mass of great burns. From the first the physicians declared that there was no chance of saving the life of Mrs. Pedley. Coroner Millager was notified of the fatal accident just after the death of Mrs. Pedley, but it was not thought necessary to hold an inquest. Mrs. Pedley was born in New York state but came to this county when a young woman and for many years resided on a farm in the town of Somers. Since the family removed to Kenosha she had made her home on Bronson street. She is survived by her husband and a large family of children. Funeral services will be held from the family residence at two o'clock Tuesday afternoon and interment will be at the family plot at the Kenosha City cemetery.
(Source:  Kenosha Evening News of Oct. 27, 1913)

Note:  Her death certificate (Vol. 7, page 553) listes her as Delilah Burton, not Pedley. It indicates that the cause of death was "Shock from burns, accidental".

Leon Northway wrote in a letter that she served on the school board of Kenosha School District #2, Hillcrest School. She was thought to be the first woman to serve on a school board in the state of Wisconsin.

I have several photos of her ranging from about 1863 to about 1912. One photo is of her as a young mother, with her son David. Another is a photo of her as an old lady with her daughters Florence and Clara and a small child. One photo is a large group portrait with the entire family, both parents and thirteen children, taken in about 1889.

David Pedley
Oakwood Cemetery, Somers, Wisconsin
(Source:  Photo courtesy of Larry and Linda Kopet, USGenWebArchivesWisconsin)

Everett Pedley
Oakwood Cemetery, Somers, Wisconsin
(Source: Photo courtesy of Larry and Linda Kopet, USGenWebArchivesWisconsin)

Ida L. Pedley
Oakwood Cemetery, Somers, Wisconsin
(Source: Photo courtesy of Larry and Linda Kopet, USGenWebArchivesWisconsin)

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