Saturday, October 06, 2007

Roadblock - Ruth Dyer and Jonas Joslin

There are several of my female ancestors that are problematic. We don't know where they were born or the names of their parents. In fact, we know nothing of them prior to their marriage. I wouldn't necessarily call them "Brick Walls" since I consider "Brick Walls" to be people that you can't find even though you've investigated all available records. So, since it has been a while since I've done any searching for them (local history books as well as the obvious places online have been checked), I'm going to call them "Roadblocks" for now.

One of these women that we have found nothing on beyond her marriage and death is my 5th great-grandmother, Ruth Dyer Joslin. She was born about 1771 and would have been about 23 years old when she married Jonas Joslin on February 6, 1794 in Franklin County, Vermont (copy of index card of Vermont marriage records microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah). There are 10 Dyer families in Vermont in the 1790 census but it is not really any help since it doesn't provide names of those in the household or even give a breakdown of ages. We don't even know for sure if Dyer is Ruth's maiden name. She was about 23 years old when she married Jonas, which is a little old for a first marriage for that time, perhaps she was married previously?

Jonas was the son of Joseph and Sarah Tarbell Joslin and was born March 1, 1769 in Leominster, Worcester County, Massachusetts. For whatever reason, Jonas left his home in Massachusetts and went to Canada. On page 72 in his book, Nathaniel & Sarah Joslin And their Descendants in America, Donald A. Joslin describes a record of Jonas living in Canada - - An original manuscript of the Book of Aliens, 1794-1795, Mo. 43, Ottawa, Canada, includes the following in Jonas' own handwriting: "I Jonas Joslin, do hereby declare that I am a native of the United States of America from the state of MA in the town of Leominster. My age is twenty-four years. My trade or occupation is that of a farmer, that for this six months last past, I have resided in the Seignory of St. Armand in Mississkuoi Bay, and came into this Province of Lower Canada, by land, on the East Side of Lake Champlain on the 18th day of March 1793, and now reside on the aforesaid Seignory of St. Armand as witness my hand at Mississquoi Bay this 9th day of January 1795. Signed: Jonas Joslin".

Missisquoi Bay is located at the northern tip of Lake Champlain and is just north of the American Canadian border not far from Franklin County, Vermont. An online record of Early St. Armand Deeds found in 2001, lists Jonas Joslin on July 3, 1793 with 105 acres in half of lot 19.

All kinds of questions arise at this point. Why did Jonas go to Canada? How and where did he meet Ruth Dyer? Did she move to Vermont with her parents or was she born there? Could she and Jonas have known each other before he left Massachusetts? Did they actually live in Canada for a while?

Some online records for their oldest known child, James, show that he was born in Cambridge, Lamoille County, Vermont which borders Franklin County on the south, but Lamoille county was not formed until 1835. (His birthplace in the 1850 Census for Whitley County, Indiana, page 472, has previously been interpreted as "S. C." but if you look closely at some of the names that begin with "L", such as Lorin Loomis, it could easily be interpreted as "L. C." instead, which makes sense if it is an abbreviation of Lower Canada.)

Ruth and Jonas had at least four children. It is likely that there were other children born to them. Those known are James, mentioned above; Elizabeth born about 1803 in "Canada West" (according to the 1870 census); Jonas Jr. born 1807 born in Canada, Ohio, or Vermont depending upon which census you look at, though Canada is listed as his birthplace in 1850 and 1880; and Fanny born about 1810 in Canada according to the 1850, 1860 and 1870 census records.

The family lived in Vermont for a while, at least they were there when the census was taken in 1800 and 1810. Jonas Joslin was listed as head of household in the 1800 federal census in Cambridge, Franklin County, Vermont (page 70) and in 1810 he was listed as Jonas Joshlyn in Hinesburg, Chittenden County, Vermont (page 220). Whether they lived in Vermont continuously during those years is not known. It's possible they went back and forth across the border and lived wherever it was convenient.

Sometime between 1810 and 1820, Ruth and Jonas Joslin moved their family to Delaware County, Ohio.

In the late 1700's and early 1800's, Vermont towns had a policy of "Warning Out" those persons who might seem to have no visible means of support and were judged to be a burden to the town. They were given notice to leave. Some left at the warning, while others remained. The rules and enforcement of warnings varied by town. Two volumes of these warnings were published in "Vermont Warnings Out" by Alden M. Rollins (Picton Press, 1995). In Volume 2, an entry for the Town Records for Charlotte (Crittenden County, VT) includes the name of Jonas Joslin on March 1, 1814. Did they leave at that time or did they suffer through 1816, which was known as the year that had no summer. According to some accounts in Vermont, every month in that year had a frost, and nearly every month had a snow-fall; in June snow was 10" deep and July saw freezing rain and ice; consequently most of the crops were ruined. Had Ruth and Jonas already moved their family south to Ohio? Or were they still in Vermont?

The first record of Jonas Joslin in Ohio is his purchase of 100 acres of land on April 1, 1819 in Liberty Township, Delaware County. The 1820 census for Liberty Township (page 94a) shows the Jonas Joslin family living there. The 1826 Tax List for Liberty Township shows that Jonas owned 105 acres of land valued at $308, including the house. His personal property consisted of one horse valued at $40 and six head of cattle with a value of $48.

Ruth died on August 27, 1830 in Liberty Township, Delaware County, Ohio. A record of her death was found in "Delaware County, Ohio Genealogical Abstracts", compiled by Carol Willsey Bell, 1980, p51: "September 16, 1830. Died in Liberty Tp. on 27th ult, Mrs. Ruth Joslin, w/o Jonas, age 59 years." [ult refers to the previous month, so she would have died on August 27th.]

According to one family researcher, Ruth's tombstone reportedly resides within the confines of the Delaware County Historical Museum. The inscription was transcribed by a cousin as "Ruth wife of Jonas Joslin died Aug 27, 1830 aged 59 Years."

Jonas is in the 1850 census where he is listed in Liberty Township (page 208) as Jonas Gloslin, age 81. Residing with him was his daughter Fanny, his son Jonas Jr. along with Jonas' wife Lucy and their eight children. It is presumed that Jonas Sr. died prior to 1860 since he is not listed in the census records for that year.

Frank Dyer has a website called Dyer Families of New England with the objective of tracking down all of the Dyer families in New England and placing them into their proper trees. Frank has identified five primary Dyer families in New England in the 17th century. With 38,000+ people in his databases you'd think there would be a connection, but no such luck.


Miriam Robbins said...

Becky, I am leaving this comment as a reminder for myself to get back to you. I have a family with a similar migration pattern (my SWEERS family), and may have some answers to your questions about why this family went to Canada and/or ideas for records to research. I'm on my way to my genie society's all-day October workshop, but I'll try to get back to you sometime this weekend.

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...


I love that you see this as a roadblock and not a brick wall, I need to think that way more.

I have many Joslin's of various spellings and a few Dyers in my file but nothing that will help you.

Miriam Robbins said...

Becky, sorry to take so long to get back to you. I read in a history of Ontario once that the provincial governor offered land to anyone who could settle and tame it (similar to our Homestead Act, etc.). Many Americans came to Ontario to take advantage of that offer (don't remember if it was free or low-cost). However, this caused a problem when things came to a head between Great Britain and the U.S. in what became the War of 1812. Many Americans then left Ontario to avoid having their men be conscripted into the British army. My SWEERSes and YORKs were two such families that this happened to. The SWEERS family, also from Worcestor County, Massachusetts had been in various Vermont counties before settling in Chippewa Creek, near Niagara. The YORKs had been in Saratoga County, New York, and then also moved to Ontario near the Western New York border.

Anyway, I am wondering if your Joslins and Dyers followed similar migration routes for similar reasons. It's something to consider...

Good luck and happy hunting!

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Hi Becky

Your Jonas would almost certainly have petitioned for land when he left Vermont and came to Quebec (Lower Canada). When a settler wanted free land, he had to petition to the Governor and prove that he met the requirements for obtaining Crown Land.

Often these petitions contain a great deal of family information.

A search of the online Upper Canada Land Petitions reveals 7 hits for Jonas Joslin. Click on each one and you are given the date(s) and reference source. You can view the images for SOME online and save them to your computer

Others will have to be viewed in person (although you could try to have the film sent via ILL to an American Library) so you may have to hire a local researcher in Ottawa to obtain the documents for you

Just go to IF this does not work (I can't copy and paste in this box!) then go to and look for Lower Canada Land Petitions

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

PS. I was so curious I had to look at the images that were available. There's a lot, it seems a group of men with families came up from Vermont and petitioned. I didn't spend much time but on p 9 of the SECOND hit (1794), I spotted Jonas Joslin's signature (with DOZENS of other individuals).

But the thing that might be of great interest to you is that 2 signatures above Jonas is that of a Dyer - it looks like Gideon Dyer but I am looking at the small copy, it isn't saved to my computer where I can enlarge it. (Although you can enlarge it online by clicking twice on it) There is a big possibility that this Dyer is a relative of your Jonas' wife. Anyway I leave you to have fun!

Becky Wiseman said...

Thank you for your comments, Lorine! Some time back, I vaguely remember locating the online records you mentioned but hadn't followed up on them yet. Primarily because I didn't think there would be any additional information, other than the names, in the documents. It is something that I still need to check out. Thanks for the reminder.