*Towse Biographies and Family Stories

a.k.a. "Old News"

Herein find a motley collection of biographies, obituaries, letters and family stories contributed by vvarious cousins.  We'd love to hear yours; a genealogy isn't much fun to look at without some meat on its bones! Just email me with your story, and we'll put it up to share. You must  include your source if it's from published material or you heard it from someone else!  

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Mary Walton on Nancy McPhee Towse    Of mittens andwine

Kittie Holt on Daniel Webster Towse       A hired hand goes berserk and the surry ends up in a gulch

Mary Walton on Eliza Ann Towse Toft     The taffeta dress and the beaver hat

Kenneth G Towse on Daniel Delhi Towse     Of hotdogs and minstrel shows and the Baptist Church

Kenneth G Towse on Ellsworth  Murry "Spud" Towse     "I call my flivver LaSalle"

Ruth Bauder and Clare Warrington on Viola "Ollie" Towse     The baby paid for with a dead "Indian"

Composite biography of Mary Ann Towse Lund

Biographical sketches of Francis Towse, Loyalist, of Norfolk, VA and Shelburne, NS

Simpson and Ann Towse    Yorkshire to Illinois, 1850

Nancy McPhee Towse

Mary Walton 1991: Nancy and William had a self contained farm, and grew almost everything--she had a flax wheel, spinning wheel and loom. Nancy knitted socks and mittens to barter for the few goods they couldn't produce. She would wash them and press them under the cushion of her rocking chair, wet, so they would dry larger, and thereby save yarn. I wonder what people thought when they shrunk! William would take them to the store in town to barter...Sugar was used only when the parson came to visit, otherwise they would use molasses or maple sugar...Nancy smoked a clay pipe. As this wasn't exactly proper for a good Christian woman, she claimed it helped her "catarrh". She and the other women, teetotallers all, would develop an occasional cold--together. This necessitated the purchase of a bottle of wine for remedy. Somehow, when the bottle was emptied, the colds disappeared! I remember my father telling me she had prayers twice a day...he used to get the cat to howling just to interrupt her. ---from a late-night phone conversation between Debra Cohig and Mary Toft Walton

Daniel Webster Towse

from "Historical Vignettes of Riverbend, Colo." copyright by Kittie Holt, available at Elbert County Historical Society, Kiowa, Colorado:

"The DAN TOWSE ranch holdings were north and east of Riverbend, bordering on the Smith Harper ranch on the north. One night, so the story goes, when Mr Towse was away from home their hired man consumed too much liquor and went berserk. Mrs Towse and small son took refuge in their bedroom but when the crazed one started pounding on the door they escaped through a window and ran across the prairie to the Smith Harper home which was a mile or more away. Smith was deputy sheriff at that time and capable of handling any situation. Some time later Fred McIlhenney heard footsteps pounding across the porch on the front of his store and this poor fellow burst in shouting, "Hide me! Hide me! Smith Harper is after me!" Fred realized the man was out of his head and sent his older son to bring the section foreman and station agent to help subdue him. They were both large, muscular men but even so it took a hard struggle to get shackles and handcuffs on him. Smith Harper had arrived in the meantime and at times throughout the night it taxed the strength of the four men to hold the poor fellow to the floor. The next morning Dr Rothwell arrived from Hugo to give him a sedative and they finally got him to Denver...

"...Eva (Harper Koontz) tells of a harrowing experience at a later date. The DAN TOWSE family came by the Harper ranch with their team and buggy and were joined by the Harper family in their rig when they all strted to Limon for Easter services in the one church there at the time. About a mile from Limon as they were crossing a gulch, a roaring motorcycle suddenly appeared over the hill. No smooth highway there, the road was rough and rutted. At this strange, unexpected apparition, the Towse team bolted and swung up the gulch where the surrey tipped over, throwing Mr Towse clear. However, Mrs. Towse and son Harry were dragged under the surrey for several yards. The team broke loose and started for home, neckyoke attached, almost running the motorist down who had stopped to view the scene of destruction that he had caused. There was no church for the Towse and Harper families that Easter, but Dr Kennedy was called out of church to minister to the bruises and abrasions that Mrs Towse and Harry had suffered. Fortunately, no bones were broken. The Harper team also ran away, but Smith and Kenneth were able to control them so no harm came to that family. A dramatic introduction to the first motorcycle to travel the byways of Riverbend... [These stories took place somewhere between 1898 and 1911]

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Eliza Ann Towse Toft

per Mary Walton 1991: Eliza Ann was a very proud woman. She felt that Charles Toft didn't provide well enough for her...When they were older, she and Charles were about to lose their home, as they couldn't make the mortgage, so John and Lydia came to live with them to help...she owned a black taffeta dress, and always wore it to church, so she could swish down the aisle...Once, when beaver hats were the rage, she insisted Charles have one, and that it be the best. He got the clerk to tell her that the cheap one was the most expensive, so she would be satisfied and could be proud of it...She was a very thin woman...very religious, like her mother.---from a phone conversation between Debra Cohig and Mary Walton

Daniel Delhi Towse

as related by Kenneth Gibert Towse, his Son

"Dan" was a popular man about town. His occupation was a counter man at a meat market in downtown Woburn known as The Mohigan Beef Co. He was well-liked by all that came in contact with hi. He loved people. Any time I or any of my friends would go in the store he would give us a hot dog to eat. He was an honest man and no doubt paid his boss "Jack Kaplan" for all the hotdogs he gave out to the "kids".

"He was a man with energy to burn. He would think nothing of picking up a paint brush and give the screens of the house another coat of paint. Seems like he was always painting the trim of the house; one year it was green the next it would be red.

"He loved to put on minstrel shows at the First Baptist Church and High School in Woburn, of which I and the rest of the family were involved. He could make a star out of anyone.

"During and after World War II he would gather together all his amateur talent and entertain the wounded veterans at the local military hospitals. Later on he formed a group known as "Dan's Troopers" made up of all the amateur entertainers he had developed and booked them at various clubs and organizations for their entertainment at a price which after expenses would "divvey up" with the cast.

He was insrumental in bringing together many young people to the Baptist Church and named this group "The Manoki Club" of which many marriages spun off from it. Dan was always in "hot water" with the elders of the church for having a picnic at the beach on Sundays. I can remember sitting in my bathing suit singing hymns with a group of young people under a shelter at a beach town, I guess he calmed the elders' nerves by seeing to it that his youth group got some kind of religion along with their play."

Ellsworth Murry "Spud" Towse

as related by his brother, Kenneth G Towse

"Spud died accientally while shovelling now off a roof of one of his rental properties he slipped and fell tothe ground, landing on his head. He died at the hospital of his injuries. He was 63 years old.

"Spud had many jobs and enterprises during his lifetime, but the one I believe he enjoyed most was being a landlord and remodelling older homes into multiple rentals.

"He loved big cars. I remember the time he owned a LaSalle sedan. He made up a song to the tune of "My Gal Sal" that said, 'I call my flivver LaSalle, She gets six miles to the gal. Down hill she's a devil, but dead on the level, was my La-Salle.' The prettiest car he ever owned was a 1948 Cadillac coupe. He used to keep the black finish polished so it gleamed in the sunlight. I can still see the proud look of ownership whenever I saw him behind the steering wheel with a cigar in his mouth.

"One of the jobs I remember his having was selling waterless cookware at friend's homes. The host would gather four or five couples to their home for dinner. Spud would prepare the dinner and serve it. I went along and washed the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen while he invited the guests into the parlor and gave them a sales pitch and most generally made a sale to all that were present. He was a 'Born Salesman.'

"He was quite a ham and when it came to minstrel shows he was a perfectionist as an end man in 'black face'. He and I did a tambourine overture at the minstrel shows in the community that always brought an encore. He along with the rest of the family donated much of their time entertaining the wounded servicemen recuperating at the local military hospitals during and after World War II."

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Viola "Ollie" Towse

Ruth Bauder in a letter to Debra Cohig: "Grandma Viola told a funny story about her birth in Rawlins in 1869. Mr Towse (WW) was out on the job "bossing", I guess--anyway, he wasn't home. The two boys were out in the yard playing the afternoon of April 15th, when two raggedy Indians came along and tried to grab the kids. Their mother (Clara) grabbed up a gun and shot at them, killing one--the other ran off in a hurry leaving his friend lying there. When WW came home, he dropped off the dead Indian over to the depot platform--why there, I don't know, but at least it was out of his family's sight. Baby Viola was born the next day--April 16, 1869. But there is more! A U P railroad doctor assisted at the birth and the conversation goes like this: WW:"What do I owe you for bringing my baby girl into the world?" Dr.:"Give me permission to take that cadaver of the Indian your wife killed yesterday. I can use it for anatomical sectioning." So--my grandmother was the first pioneer baby to be paid for with a dead Indian! And Grandma swore it was true! I've heard the tale since I was a tadpole!"

Clare Warrington's version: "Viola, later called Ollie, born 1869, being the first white child born in this tent town... In connection with the birth of this child an amusing incident is a part of the historical records of Rawlins. The little boy Ellsworth was playing by the woodpile, when a young Indian buck came riding by on his horse. He scooped up the tot and made his getaway. The other lad Eddie gave the alarm and a posse of civilians was hurriedly organized to pursue the Indian and recover the boy...that night in the general store and saloon the doctor said, "If you let me have the carcass of that indian, WW, your little girl won't cost you a cent...This little family moved back to Cheyenne where WW with his brother Dan worked for a Mr Dan Barksdale, one of the big cattlemen of those days, and where the boys got some of thier early education."

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Mary Ann Towse

Mary Ann Towse was born in Garton, Yorkshire. She came with her parents, John and Mary, and her siblings to New Brunswick in 1821 - when she would have been about 2 years old (1812 seems to be an error). They landed at Baie Verte, a bay east of Sackville, after a 13 week trip. After living a long time in Sackville proper, John moved to Tolar's Island in Upper Sackville. 11 years later he moved to Aboushagan Road, a small town several miles north of Sackville (from William Towse obituary, Sackville paper (Tribune?)1905). John was a farmer (per 1851 NB census).

In 1842 Mary Ann married John Lund in Westmorland County, New Brunswick (probably Sackville). John was also of Yorkshire origin: he was born in Beverley Yorkshire in 1819, and came to Canada with his family in 1835. John owned marshland that he claimed from the sea, building dikes with shovel and wheelbarrow (the Tantamar Marsh in the Sackville area was drained by settlers, providing fertile farmland). He and later his sons built their homes and farm buildings with whip-sawn (hand-cut) lumber. They used oxen to work the land and cut grain with scythes, beat it with flails and pounded it into flour. They had orchards, vegetable gardens, cows and chickens. For food they had wild berries, moose and deer meat, trout from the streams, herring from the Tantramar River, mackerel and cod from the Bay of Fundy and lobster from the Northumberland Straits. Life was good, blizzards, droughts and hailstorms unknown and a bottle ofJamiacan rum was only 25 cents. But families were large with not enough room to spread out, so they looked westward.

Mary Ann gave birth to 12 children, all born in the Sackville area. An interesting connection between the Towses and the Lunds is that both John W.Towse (1804 - 1878) and his nephew Daniel Lund (1843-1892), Mary Ann's oldest son, were Stewards for Mount Allison University, a highly-regarded liberal arts college in Sackville. west; he stopped in Brandon, Manitoba where a Dr. Fleming who had come west earlier advised him to homestead in the area where the Canadian Pacific Railroad line ended at that time.. He walked 14 miles southwest and claimed a quarter section of land. He sent for his wife and son, and wrote letters back that all was good; many relatives and friends followed within a few years and liked the open land where they could see for miles. In 1884, John and Mary Ann came with 8 of their sons and dtrs to homestead in the area, known as the Lippentott district (George, Charles and James remained in New Brunswick, their son Christopher had died in infancy). By then, Mary Ann was 66. John homesteaded with Wesley and his other sons, daughters and their husbands. John broke land with the oxen he had brought:13 acres in 1884, 38 acres by '87. He had his home built by June '84, 24x16ft with added kitchen 12x12, also barn and granary. The farms were built on the banks of the Pipestone River, on either side of the Manitoba/ Saskatchewan border. The nearest town now is Woodville, Saskatchewan. Mary Ann died in December 1894, and John 10 years later. They are buried in the little Lippentott cemetery, on land donated by John on what is now the Simpson farm, Saskatchewan. Their graves can still be visited.

Sources (except for 1st paragraph): "Lippentott" as told by Ivan Lund - family document Marilyn Clayton in "Steel and Grass Roots: the History of Elkhorn, 1882 - 1992" "Across Border and Valley - The Story of Maryfield and Surrounding Districts" Vol 2

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Francis Towse of Norfolk, Va, New York City and Shelburne,Nova Scotia

from Palmer's Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution:  "Towse, Francis Loyalist Claim Record AO13/24/489   A blacksmith of Norfolk, Virginia. Joined Lord Dunmore and following the evacuation of Norfolk erected his forge aboard the British transport Unicorn, cont. that employment for six months, and finally landed at New York. Towse settled at Shelburne, Nova Scotia, after the Peace, and estimated his loss at 475 Pounds Sterling.

from Sabine's Biographical Sketches of Loyalists :  Towse, Francis In 1782 a Loyalist Associated at New York to settle at Shelburne, Nova Scotia the following year, with his family of seven persons...

from American Loyalist Claims:   Towse, Francis  Norfolk, Virginia   Blacksmith   Joined the army at the beginning of the war. When Norfolk evacuated, he embarked with his family on the transport ship Unicorn where he erected a forge and was employed on board about six months. Then went to New York; when it was evacuated, he brought his family to Nova Scotia. Memorial: 12 April 1786 Shelburne. Claim: Newcastle coals taken for navy; coal in his shop; ton of wrought iron; smith's tools, etc. Evidences: Deposition 15 Apr 1786 Shelburne by John Lownds and James Dunn, formerly of Norfolk, that they knew claimant there and claim is just.

entries from International Genealogical Index for New York:   Francis Towse married Susannah Frost 14 Nov 1778 New York City;   Francis Towse born 19 Sept 1779 New York City son of Francis and Susannah;   Anthony Towse christened 16 Dec 1781 New York City son of Francis and Susannah

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Simpson Towse, with his wife Ann, together with eight (or nine) children came from Yorkshire, England, in 1850. We have no report of the closest town, but not too far from Goole. They settled in the state of New York and then to the Chesterfield, Illinois, neighborhood in 1852. One report has it that Eliza was married to Thomas Bielby in England and came directly to the Chesterfield neighborhood in 1852.

We are unable, at this time, to find out what line of work Simpson followed but a majority of the sons became farmers and settled in an area generally between Chesterfield and Carlinville. As we now have it Thomas Bielby, Wm. Robinson, Johnathan, Charles, Bethel and Watson all lived on farms. My grandfather, William, was a buggy and wagon maker, having learned the trade in England, and operated a hardware store in Chesterfield the last few years of his life; his step-son, Samuel L Berryman, taking over the buggy and wagon shop. This shop was merely a repair shop during the time I remember it. Thomas ran a small hotel in Chesterfield and later moved to St. Louis and lived with his daughters there. Simpson Jr seems to have evaded us and we do not know where he went or what his occupation was. We suspect he was the father of Johnathan, father of William, who became a real estate agent in Granite City, Illinois. No confirmation on this as yet.

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