Lot and Elizabeth (Walton) Conant

It was a cold and rainy Tuesday when Lot Conant was born…. Okay. Maybe it wasn’t. I don’t really know. He was born about 1624 near Cape Ann, Massachusetts to Roger and Sarah (Horton) Conant. He was the fourth of ten children. Lot’s parents and older siblings had recently arrived in the New World from England. He was the first of their children to be born in Massachusetts.

In 1626, when little Lot was just two years old, his father founded the town of Salem and was named the first governor of Massachusetts. He only held onto the title for two short years, but that is a story for another day. Just suffice it to say that Lot grew up in a family of forward thinkers and a father who was very involved in his community and his church.

When Lot was 25 years old, he married Elizabeth Walton on the 9th of January, 1649 in Salem, Massachusetts. Elizabeth was 19 and the daughter of Reverend William Walton and Elizabeth (Cooke) Walton. Elizabeth was born on October 9th, 1629 (it definitely could have been a cold and rainy day!) in Seaton, Devonshire, England. When she was five years old, the family set sail on the Hopewell as part of what is known as the “Great Migration.” The Walton family first lived in Hingham, Massachusetts before relocating to Marblehead.

With Lot and Elizabeth’s marriage, the couple settled in Marblehead where Lot eventually owned several pieces of property. Lot was listed as a “Yeoman” in land records, or a farmer in today’s terms. On the 28th of July, 1650, the couple welcomed their first child, a son named Nathaniel. He was the first of ten children. Soon following were – Jonathon, Lot, Elizabeth, Mary, Martha, Sarah, William, Roger, and Rebecca. Sarah and William were twins. Interesting enough, not only did all ten children live to adulthood, they all lived to be quite elderly by the standards at the time. The youngest to die was in their seventies and most of the kids lived to be in their late eighties.

In 1662, Lot was elected as a Selectman in Marblehead, following in his father’s political footsteps. He was still a farmer and some have guessed that Lot was also a shoemaker. That supposition comes from the fact that in his will he left his shop and tools to his son Nathanial, whom we know WAS a shoemaker. It stands to reason, because we also know that many of his descendants were tailors by trade.

In 1666, we believe that Lot and Elizabeth moved their family to Beverly, Massachusetts. It is known that Lot’s father, Roger, gave him his homestead at Beverly containing over 100 acres. Some of that was town property and some out of town. On the same day, Lot signed a lease back to his father for the house and three acres. He charged his dad an annual rent of one ear of Indian corn. That’s a pretty good deal!

The following year, in July of 1667, Lot transferred his membership from the First Church in Salem to the new church in Bass River, (as Beverly was known at the time.) It is noted that both Lot and his father were founding members of the new church.

Between March 1670 and March 1671, Lot sold some of his Marblehead properties. On a list of Marblehead householders dated May of 1674, Lot is still listed, so he must have retained at least one of his properties there, though by all accounts, the families primary residence had moved to Beverly.

In March of 1672, he was fined 4 shillings for attacking a man named Matthew Fairfield. I would love to know what that was about!

When Lot was fifty years old, he fell ill. On September 24, 1674, he wrote his last will and testament stating, “I, Lot Conant, aged about fiftie yeers being sicke and weak…” He passed away just five short days later on September 29, 1674 in Beverly. His burial place is unknown. (His last will and testament is listed below.)

Elizabeth was 44 when Lot died, leaving her a widow. In 1678, the Conants second son, Jonathon, married Bethiah Mansfield. Elizabeth soon made that family connection even stronger by marrying Bethiah’s widowed father, Andrew Mansfield, on January 10, 1681 in Salem. Elizabeth was 51 years old.

I haven’t found much about Elizabeth and Andrew’s life together, but unfortunately it didn’t last long. Andrew passed away on November 27, 1683, leaving Elizabeth a widow for the second time when she was 54 years of age.

The paper trail that I was able to find online ends here. I haven’t yet located a death date or a burial place for Elizabeth. In Lot’s will, he left the house to her to live out her days. Starting with Roger and his wife, there are several generations of the Conant family that their burial place is unknown. I suspect that Elizabeth and Andrew stayed on the Beverly homestead and that somewhere on the land where the Conant family lived for so many years is a family cemetery.


Lot Conant’s Last Will and Testament

I, Lot Conant aged about fiftie yeers being sicke and weak, yet of p’fit understanding doe hereby declare my last will and testament wherein in the first place I doe bequeath my soule unto god that gave it, and my body to the grave in hope of a blessed reserrection: and for my outward estate and goods I doe bequeath and give unto my five sonns to each of them fiftie pounds and unto my son nathaniel the shop and tools over & above the rest, and unto my five daughters twenty pounds to each of them and this estate I leave to be whole and unbroken till they come to full age or to marriage estate and in the meane time the whole to rest in the hands of my wife, and for the bringing up of the children and further more my will is that my wife be executrix and that the land be not at all disposed off
from the children and that my wife have the dwelling house and orchard for her life time. and also that my kins woman mari Leach have a cow or heifer at her beig married or going from my wife. And for help unto my wife in this matter I doe instruct and designe mr. John Hale, Captaine Lathrop and my brother Exercise Conant to be assisting. Hereunto I have subscribed my hand this 24 of the 7 month 1674. Witness Roger Conant Signed Lot Conant Exercise Conant Sworn 26:9 mo:1674 Inventory totalled 782.04.00 including “a shop where Nathan Conant works 5.00.0”

(Lot and Elizabeth are my husband Riff’s 8x great-grandparents.)

Fielding and Eleanor (Ellison) Phipps

Monroe county, West Virginia

A Beautiful View in Monroe county, West Virginia

Fielding Phipps was born and raised in Monroe County, Virginia (Now West Virginia). Monroe county lies in an area of Appalachia known as the Allegheny Highlands, high in the Allegheny mountains. He was born on June 18th, 1806 to John Peace Phipps and Mary (Fleshman) Phipps. He was the fourth of five children.

Little Fielding was only four years old when he mother passed away.

At 21 years of age, Fielding married Eleanor Ellison. The couple married on November 13, 1827 in Monroe county. Eleanor was only 14 years old. I don’t think that was particularly unusual in the mountains.

Eleanor was the daughter of Reverend James Isaac Ellison III and Mary “Polly” Ellender (Calloway) Ellison. She was born at Farley, Virginia, (now West Virginia), on December 12th, 1812.

Phipps, Fielding and Eleanor Marriage

This document was known as the Marriage Bond. It was taken out with the county clerk and signed by both Fielding and Eleanor’s brother, Milton. It assured the county that there was not any legal reason why the marriage couldn’t take place. It states that should some obstruction to the marriage be discovered, that then both Fielding and Milton would assure that an amount of $150 would be paid to the county. You will notice here that Fielding signed with his mark “X” – He could not read or write so someone actually signed his name for him.

The couple welcomed their first child on December 23, 1828 – a son, William Harrison Phipps. Now, they also had a daughter, Sarah Elizabeth, who was born in 1828 and, I believe, died as an infant. It is unclear if Sarah and William were twins or if Sarah was born early in the year.

The Phipps family moved and settled in Sand Lick, Fayette county, Virginia in 1829. (Also now West Virginia). Here they had a large family and became land owners. Fielding is listed among the first pioneers who settled this area.

At least eleven more children were born to the union, all in Sand Lick. Eli William, Charles C., Mary Ann, Delilah, David, Eliza, Andrew Lewis, Elizabeth Jane, James Remly, Paulina, and Nancy Jane. Little Charles died at just 1 year of age, David at age 13, and Elizabeth Jane at birth. Four children lost in all. That must have been incredibly hard. Eleanor was 16 when her first child was born and 19 when her first child died. Just thinking about it breaks my heart a little.

Land records show that in 1835, Fielding was granted 50 acres of land on Sand Lick Fork. The following year, in 1836, he was granted another 76 acres. Now the two federal census’ that I could find him in are early enough that they did not list his occupation. There were many coal mines in the area, but with that much land, I would venture to guess that Fielding was a farmer instead of a miner. What I do know from those census records is that neither Fielding or Eleanor could read or write.

Interestingly enough, in 1848 he can be found in a list of Fayette county public school commissioners. Even though Fielding and Eleanor could not read or write, it must have been important to them to bring a school in to their area so that their children could get the education that they did not.

Fielding was also a member of the Fayette County Court at the time of his death in 1849. I am not exactly sure what that would have meant, what his role would have been. He was indeed very active in their local community.

Unfortunately, a month before his 43rd birthday, Fielding died. I haven’t been able to find a record with a cause of death, but I did read a comment by one distant cousin stating that he thought Fielding had been stomped by a horse.  That notation can be found in their son Eli’s civil war pension records. I have not been able to get my hands on those records, though I will keep trying! Fielding died on the 2nd of March, 1849. Eleanor became a widow at the age of 36.

I believe he is buried in a country cemetery in the Sand Lick area known either as the Phipps Cemetery or Caperton Cemetery.

Six years after Fielding’s death, Eleanor married a man named Steele Seth Lafferty. Eleanor was 42 and Steele was 49.  He was also a widow and had four children. His wife died just three weeks before he and Eleanor married. It makes me wonder if it was more a marriage of convenience than anything. He had at least two small children still at home, two boys aged five and three, who would have needed looking after. Together, Steele and Eleanor did not have any more children.

The 1860 census, five years after their marriage, finds that Lafferty family living in an area known as Marsh Fork in Raleigh county, Virginia. (Also now West Virginia). Steele was a farm laborer and Eleanor listed as a housewife. Neither could read or write. Steele’s two boys lived with them, now 10 and 7 years old. Eleanor’s youngest daughter, Nancy Jane, would have only been 12 at the time and I wonder where she was living.

A year later in 1861, West Virginia became a state, so the Phipps family and the Lafferty family no longer lived in Virginia, but West Virginia instead.

By the 1870 census, they had moved to the Leevale area in Raleigh county and Steele was now farming for himself. One of their neighbors listed in the census was James Phipps, one of Fielding and Eleanor’s sons.

Eleanor became a widow for the second time in 1875 when Steele passed away on February 2nd. He was 69 and Eleanor was 62.

In 1880, the census shows Eleanor living with her son James and his family. He is a farmer, his wife keeping house, and they have four children at home.

In October of 1889, what was known as the Russian Flu hit the world in pandemic proportions. 1 million people around the world would die from this influenza, including 13,000 Americans. The pandemic ran it’s course from October 1889 through December of 1890, with recurrences in March – June 1891, November 1891 – June 1892, winter 1893–1894 and early 1895.

Our own Eleanor succumbed to this flu. She passed away on January 28th, 1890 at the age of 77. Her cause of death is listed as “La Grippe” – Influenza.

Eleanor’s burial place is not known for sure. It is thought that she may be buried in the Croy Cemetery in Giles county, Virginia which is near where she lived with her son and his family.

Phipps, Fielding and Eleanor Lineage

(Fielding and Eleanor are my 4th great-grandparents.)

AKA’s:  There are different spellings of some of the names on various documents. Here they are in case you are trying to research for yourself:

Fielding Phipps AKA Fielden, Fips, Fipps

Steele Seth Lafferty AKA Steel Laverty


Jonathan and Bethiah (Mansfield) Conant

King Philips War

Jonathan Conant was 23 years old when he became a soldier serving with Major Samuel Appleton’s company during King Philip’s war, or the First Indian war. This war broke out when tensions between the colonists and Native Americans reached a breaking point. Records show that his company was stationed on garrison duty at Hadley and Springfield when the bloody battle at Narraganset Fort known as the Great Swamp Fight occurred, so Jonathan was probably not involved in that particular battle. He served the duration of the war from 1675 to 1678. He earned just a little over four pounds for serving in the war. That amount roughly translates to $285 today.

Jonathan was born on December 15, 1652 in Beverly, Massachusetts to Lot and Elizabeth (Walton) Conant. He was baptized when he was 9 years old on the 26th of May, 1662 in Salem, Massachusetts.

Shortly after the war, Jonathan married Bethiah Mansfield. The couple married on the 7th of May, 1678 in Beverly.

Bethiah was the daughter of Andrew and Bethiah (Gedney) Mansfield. She was born either on February 7th or April 7th of 1658 in either Salem or Lynn, Massachusetts. (I have found conflicting information.)

After the wedding, the couple made their home on sixty acres of land in Beverly that had at one time belonged to Jonathan’s grandfather, Roger Conant. John built a house and farmed the land. He also was a weaver by trade.

In 1679, the couple’s first child was born, a son that they named Lot after John’s father. Nine more children would follow – Elizabeth, Bethiah, John, Deborah, Mary, Daniel, Rebecca, Benjamin, and Jemima. All ten children lived to be adults. That is amazing and fairly unheard of for the times.

Conant, John and Bethiah Family - Town Records

In 1681, when the couple had been married for three years, John’s widowed mother married Bethiah’s widowed father. I have seen some accounts that say that Bethiah was John’s stepsister but that is not wholly accurate, since they were adults, had been married for several years, and had children of their own before their parents married.

In 1692, Jonathan added on to the families acreage by purchasing part of his brother Nathaniel’s land.

John became a widow at the age of 67 when Bethiah passed away on July 27, 1720. She was 62 years old.  John followed his wife four years later on September 30, 1724. In his will, he split his land, leaving it to their sons.

Both Johnathan and Bethiah’s burial places are unknown. I suspect that somewhere on that property, there was a family cemetery, since his grandfather and father’s, whom also owned the land, grave sites are also unknown.

Conant, Jonathan and Bethiah Lineage(Jonathan and Bethiah Conant are my husband Riff’s 7th great-grandparents)


Shirley and Harry Kennison Photo

Shirley and Harry Kennison - Brush Prairie, Washington abt. 1929

Shirley and Harry Kennison

This photo was taken when the Kennison family lived in Brush Prairie, Washington and was probably taken around 1929. Shirley would have been six and little brother Harry three.  About this time, Shirley fell out of a second-story window. She hurt her back but wasn’t seriously injured.

Thank you to my cousin, Kara Kennison, for sharing this picture with us! (Kara is Harry’s daughter.)

Leoma Nesta Dallas Simmons

Leoma and Nola Dallas - 1922

Nola and Leoma Dallas – Iosepa, Utah

One hundred years ago, a baby girl was born in a place called Iosepa, a small town in Skull Valley. Skull Valley is in the high desert country of Utah in the United States of America. The baby girl’s parents looked at her, counted her fingers and toes, welcomed her into the world and named her Leoma Nesta Dallas. Her middle name was in honor of her Aunt Nesta, her Mama’s sister. Leoma was the seventh child born into the family, though three more would follow in the years to come.

It was April 28th of 1920. The great war had ended and Woodrow Wilson was president of the United States. It was a time of optimism and prosperity, but Leoma’s father was a trapper and a hunter. He was paid for each fur he brought in and that is a hard way to raise a large family.  Her mama, Amy Hovey,  was raised in the Mormon religion but left it behind to marry Walter Dallas.

In September of that year, the first home radio was available to purchase. The first broadcast from a commercial radio station was the results of the presidential election – Warren G. Harding won.

The Roaring Twenties had just begun, but that happy carefree time, full of Jazz music and flapper dresses, did not reach into the wilderness of Utah.

Automobiles, moving pictures, and electricity in the house for the city folks were just some of the major changes that the decade brought. Baseball stadiums began to be built around the country and Leoma would be a fan of baseball for her entire life.

By the time Leoma was ten years old, Wall Street had crashed and the Great Depression had begun. The Dallas family had moved to Jerome Prairie, Oregon where Leoma’s dad was mining for gold. Herbert Hoover was president of the United States.

Mickey Mouse was created, Pluto was discovered, prohibition came to an end. In 1935, President Roosevelt created the Rural Electrification bill; by 1939 twenty-five percent of rural households had electricity, but indoor plumbing was still in the future for the country folk.

When Leoma was sixteen, her family had been hit hard by the depression. They were traveling around California, following the fruit harvest as migrant workers. Leoma was living in Grants Pass, Oregon with her oldest sister and her family. She tried her hardest to stay in school, but the chores got to be too much and she found it too hard to go back.

Simmons, Rolin and Leoma - California

Leoma and Rolin Simmons

She was nineteen when she married a man named Rolin Clay Simmons. Rolin worked in the mine with her brothers and the sparks flew when the two met. This same year, in a country far away, a man named Adolph Hitler hatched a plan to take over the world. Two years later, the United States joined in World War II. Leoma’s Rolin had arsenic poisoning in 1941 from working in the mine, so he was not sent off to fight.

Leoma’s brothers went to war. She had five babies in five years time, the last one coming by cesarean section. Her brothers all came home from the war. One brother contracted polio and would walk with a cane the rest of his life.

The Simmon’s family moved to Elgin, Oregon. The country prospered after the war ended.   Rolin and Leoma started a hardware store, a construction company, and became landlords.

The first atomic weapon is tested in the mid 1940’s; the sound barrier is broken for the first time, and the television and microwave oven are invented. Casablanca wins an Oscar and Frank Sinatra became one of the first teenage idols. The Diary of Anne Frank was published in 1947.

Leoma Simmons and Children - About 1950 - Elgin, Oregon

Leoma and her five children

In the next decade, the 1950’s, a vaccine for polio had been found, the first kidney transplant was completed successfully, and the Korean War began.

The first Peanuts cartoon strip was published, Queen Elizabeth II was crowned, and segregation was ruled illegal by Brown vs. Board of Education.

Science proved that cigarette smoke causes cancer, Walt Disney opened a park, and Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Elvis Presley scandalously shook his hips on television, the Soviet satellite Sputnik was launched, and Dr. Seuss wrote “The Cat in the Hat.”

The Simmons children grew up, married, moved away, and went to war. Grandchildren were born who adored that baby girl who was born in Skull Valley so many years ago. They called her Grandma.

John F. Kennedy became President of the United States. The country went to war with Vietnam. John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The fight for civil rights was being fought on United States soil. Martin Luther King was assassinated. Hippie’s were growing their hair long and practicing free love.

Leoma and Rolin were running their hardware store and building houses, playing with the grandkids and growing a garden. Washing paper plates and never throwing out the leftovers – a habit leftover from those hardscrabble years.

Leoma and Rolin Simmons

Leoma and Rolin in their backyard

A man walked on the moon, the fight for equality went on, there was a worldwide oil crisis, gasoline was rationed, and President Nixon resigned. Bell bottom pants were the rage.

In the early 1980’s, the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh took up the local Oregon headlines with this cult commune. A recession hit the logging and farming community hard where Leoma and Rolin lived. They sold their hardware store and many of their friends and neighbors, and some family members, were forced to sell and move. Rolin passed away in 1982, making Leoma a widow at the age of 61.

The space shuttle Challenger crashed, grandkids began to marry, and great-grandbabies were born. The Soviet Union was dissolved, the United States entered another war, The Gulf War, and Dolly the sheep was cloned from a cell.

Leoma lost one of her daughters and a child should never die before a mother. She began to have heart problems and memory problems. When the grandkids would visit, she would ask for them to take Grandpa his lunch down at the worksite. Whose to say that her mind didn’t need to go to that happier time, when the people she loved most in the world were just down the road, building a house, or working in the garden?

Leoma Nesta Dallas Simmons - age 70 - October 1990

Leoma Nesta Dallas Simmons left this earth on January 27th of 2004. She was 83 years old and had lived through so much, seen so many changes in this world of ours. “This too shall pass” she often said, because she knew that it would.

Simmons, Leoma Headstone - Elgin Oregon June 2020

She is buried in the Elgin Cemetery in Elgin, Oregon with her beloved husband Rolin next to her and her daughter Janice beside him.

Dallas, Leoma Nesta Lineage

(Leoma is my maternal grandmother)


“How can you have been gone so long when I still see your sparkling brown eyes light up in teasing. And that soft chuckle or intake of breath before saying “Good Night!” Not wishing someone slumber, but expressing exasperation. Or the softness of your cheek as you hug me close. So many ways you will always be with us. Happy Birthday Grandma.” – Susan Sannar Pawley

“The softness of her cheeks is what I remember most ❤.” – Brittany Sumpter (Great-Granddaughter)


Leoma Dallas Simmons’ Diary 1937 – 1955 – Dear Diary

Dear Diary In 1937, Leoma was seventeen years old. In August, she was living with her oldest sister and family in Grants Pass, Oregon. Leoma loved going to the movies but didn’t love going to school. These are her personal diary entries that give a glimpse into her life from 1937 to 1955. Book 1.





All My Love: Letters from Leoma Dallas Simmons – All My Love

All My Love CoverThese are the personal letters that Leoma wrote to family from 1960 to 1989. Includes: A short personal history that Leoma wrote about her family, and essays about Leoma and Rolin written by their granddaughter, Paula Sannar Niziolek. A family photo album included. Book 2.


Benjamin and Martha (Davison) Conant

Selectmen Gavel

Benjamin Conant spent much of his life involved with local politics and forging new paths wherever he went.

Benjamin was born on October 22, 1968 in Beverly, Massachusetts to John and Bethiah (Mansfield) Conant. He was the ninth of ten children and his family had been participating in town government since they had arrived on the shores of America.

At the age of twenty-two, Benjamin married Martha Davison in her hometown of Ipswich, just about ten miles from Beverly. The couple married on January 24, 1721.

Martha was born in 1698 or 1699 in Ipswich to Dr. John Davison and Martha (Dodge) Davison. She was the first born of five children in her family. Martha’s grandfather, Daniel Davison, immigrated to Massachusetts from Scotland.

The young couple made their home in Beverly, where Benjamin continued his work as a tailor. A tailor was someone who made, altered, or repaired clothing. At the time, this was very much a man’s trade.

In October of 1721, the couple welcomed their first child, a daughter named Lydia, (or Lidia on some records). They would go on to have three more children – Ezra, Abigail, and Benjamin. I believe that Benjamin and Martha also had several babies who died as infants –  three or possibly four, but the records from this time are hard to interpret.

In 1728, the Conant family moved from Beverly to Dudley, Massachusetts. Here Benjamin was involved with incorporating the town in 1732. He served as the town clerk for twenty-six years and was the Chairman of the board of Selectmen from 1743 to 1756. The Board of Selectmen is the governing body of the town, much like a city council.

During this time, Martha passed away. She was only 48 years old when she died on January 5th of 1746. The couples youngest child was just 8 years old. I have not been able to find a record of Martha’s burial, but I would guess that she was buried in Dudley, as that is where she died.

Just a few short months later, Benjamin remarried. His bride was Lydia Lamb and the couple married in Dudley on September 17th, 1746. They would go on to have five more children – Abijah, Asa, Abigail, Lucy, and Jemima. I believe that Asa was the only one that survived to adulthood.

When Benjamin retired from public office, he moved his family to Warwick, Massachusetts where he passed away on September 20th, 1767 at the age of 68. Like his first wife, Martha, I cannot find a record of his burial. Again, I am assuming that he would have been buried in the community where he died.

Conant, Benjamin Lineage

(Benjamin and Martha are my husband’s 6th great-grandparents.)


A Cute Letter

Sannar, Susan Letter dated March 1969

Written by Susan Sannar – March of 1969

Dear Gradmotr and Gradpopa.

I will get 4 days off of school. I will send Brany (Brandy the dog?) with the letter. Paula can say fish – hi up happy apple. What is thaxt. Daddy!

My boyfined is named Danny. His dad is Dan. His ma is Linda. Dark Shadows is on now. You are probly watshing it.

Susan Sannar

So cute! Susan is my oldest sister. She wrote this when she was six years old and sent it to our grandparents, Leoma and Rolin Simmons. We were living in Juneau, Alaska and they were in Elgin, Oregon.