Biography of William Birdsall
Alpine, Kent County, MI Biographies



Kent County Biographies

Names A to E
Names F to O
Names P to Z

Online Biographies

New York

Also see
Railway Officials in America 1906

Famous Americans

William Birdsall. - The ancestors of this representative farmer and pioneer of Alpine were English. in 1653 two brothers came from England to America, landing at New York. One proceeded to Canada, and the other is the ancestral head of the Birdsall family of this sketch. Lemnel Birdsall, the earliest direct ancestor named, was a native of Quaker fill, Dutehess Co., N. Y. He was a farmer, and lived many years at Harpersfield, Delaware Co., N. Y., where he died, aged 99 years. His children were John, Michael, William, Benjamin, Oliver, and three daughters not named. William, third son, was born in 1781, and married at Harpersfield about 1802 to Mary, daughter of Chester Fuller, a native of that place, born in 1785. In 1816 Wm. Birdsall moved with his family to Erie Co., N. Y.; he died in 1869: Mrs. Birdsall, in 1873. Following is the record of 11 of their 13 children: Olive, married Franklin Dennis; Lydia, married Williams Warren; Sarah, married Orson Bowen; William, married Sehina Hawley; Benjamin, married Minerva Field; Mary, married Joseph Griffen; Lucinda, married Addison Dunham; Celinda, marrIed Enos Tucker; Oliver, married Adeline Dunham; Rebecca, married Hibbard Holmes; John, married Mary A. Berry, - all of Erie Co., N. Y. William, eldest son and fourth child, was born at Saratoga. N. Y., Sept. 11, 1814. The place of his birth was the well known Wilbur farm, situated in a historic locality, it being a portion of the battle field of Stillwater, where Burgoyne's army met with defeat and ruin. His parents settled in Erie county when he was two years old, where he passed his early life obtaining an education in the pioneer log school house of those days. On reaching his majority he hired to his father for two years for $100 a year and clothing. Following that engagement he paid his board at home and worked for other parties. Having bought 50 acres of land he was married March 13, 1839, at Evans, Erie Co., N. Y., by Rev, Mr. Bliss. to Selina, daughter of Salma and Jane (Hudon) Hawley, born Nov. 18, 1822. Her father was horn in Monroe, Saratoga Co., May 11, 1796; her mother, June 18, 1891. They were of English extraction, early settlers in America, dating back to the "Mayflower." The record of their eight children is as follows: Selina, married Wm. Birdsall; Ira S., married Ann Maria Kimble; Sarah W, married Wm. Brown; Alonzo M., married Lucy Cluff; John H., married Donett Carrier; Huldah A., married Josiah Southwick; Hannah M., married Edwin Stanklift, and Salma B., married Mary ___, Mr. Birdsall increased his estate to 120 acres, and after a residence upon it sold it and moved to Michigan. He realized about $1,000, with which he began life anew in the Peninsular State. He left New York with a team, accompanied by his wife and two adopted children; they prepared their food on the way and slept at taverns. The trip occupied 21 days, and is remembered as thoroughly enjoyable. They reached Alpine tp. March 29, 1846, and settled on see. 33. The year previous Mr. Birdsall bought a half see. of land in another county, which be afterward sold. He soon bought 40 acres of land on sec. 28, and 40 on sec. 3, Walker tp. A difficulty arose about the title, to the latter, and Mr. B. was compelled to pay for it a second time. He purchased his present homestead, 80 acres, on sec. 34. It was a wilderness, well stocked with wolves and traversed by bears. The same year he cleared a site, build a good frame house, 18x28 feet, and a large frame barn. He began to ocoupy the house Jan. 1, 1849, and lives in it still, though it has been remodeled and enlarged. Mr. Birdsall's place is one of the best improved in the tp. It includes 200 acres, with fine orchards and fruitful gardens. He pays mitch attention to the culture of onions, and in 1881 sold $1,200 worth. The sales from his gardens range yearly from $1,200 to $2,000. He has cleared upward of 300 acres., and has owned all aggregate of 2,000 acres. Mr. Birdsall is a Republican, and aided the war of the Rebellion by money and influence. His adopted son, John Bowen, enlisted in 1861 in Co. D, 2d Mich Cav., and died in his country's service April 8, 1862, at St. Louis, Mo. Mr. and Mrs. Birdsall have had 14 children; records as follows: Alouzo H., born May 28, 1840, died at two years of age,; John Bowen (adopted), born Aug. 8, 1842; infant twins (deceased); Salma W., born July 15, 1846, married Martha Bump March 3, 1868; Oliver T., born April 26, 1848, died aged 20; Albert H., born, April 12, 1850, married Alice H. Everett, of West Hurley, N. Y., May 20, 1876; William Henry, born Sept. 2, 1852, married Louise Rice, of Walker, in 1874; infant (deceased); Charlotte J., born Oct. 6, 1855, married Selia S. Hersey Nov. 1, 1877; Ira M., born March 13, 1858, died at the age of five years; infant (deceased); Martin P., born July 27, 1861; Jena C., born June 20, 1868. Mr. and Mrs. Birdsall belong to the Congregational Church. He has been a Trustee many years, and during his whole lire a liberal supporter of all educational and religious movements. He has paid in the aggregate $3,000 for the building of five churches, and aided in their maintenance. e was on the steamer "Atlantic," lost en Lake Erie in 1852, when 450 of 600 passengers were lost. He accords a just proportion of his success in life to the influence and good management of his wife, who shared with him the labors and difficulties of his pioneer life, and now shares in his prosperous content. Mr. Birdsall's portrait on another page is a copy of one taken at the age of 82 years.

History of Kent County, Michigan
Chas C. Chapman & Company
Chicago 1881.