Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Doctor Amos Townsend - 52 Ancestors: #6

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is "So Far Away." I decided to use this theme to share what I have been learning about a 4th great-grandfather, previously a brick wall ancestor, but one whose family ended up pretty far away from each other (in early 19th century United States).

Amos Townsend was born in October 1779, to Isaac Townsend and Rachel Crosby and baptized in New Salem, Franklin County, Massachusetts. I have found seven siblings born in New Salem, but other, secondary sources indicate that there were likely more.

According to Henrietta Danforth Wood's book Early Days of Norridgewock (Freeport, Maine: The Freeport Press, 1933), Amos Townsend moved with his father, Isaac Townsend, to Oneida County, New York, when he was about 20 years old (so about 1800). It was in Oneida County that Amos studied medicine and became a doctor. I have not been able to find the family in the 1800 U.S. Census.

Most of this Townsend family moved farther west in upstate New York, (Genesee County, later Wyoming County) and at least one brother to Michigan.

Created using Google Earth, showing locations where Townsend family members lived 1779-1850's.

Amos, however, moved from Oneida County, New York, to Maine, where he married Tryphena Ellis on June 23, 1805, in Winslow, Kennebec County.

Winslow, Kennebec, Maine, "Town and vital records, 1771-1892"
By the Rev'd Joshua Cusman~
Doctor Amos Townsend of Fairfield and Miss
Tryphena Ellis of Waterville June 23, 1805~

Amos and Tryphena had eight children between 1806 and 1826:
Mary Jane Townsend
Julia Elvira Townsend
Eliza Almeda Townsend
Charles Edmond Townsend
Sophia Tryphena Townsend
Harriet Frances Townsend
Benjamin Ellis Townsend
Sarah Nutter Townsend

Wood's book goes into a bit of detail on each of the children, who they married, and what they accomplished.

Amos lived and practiced medicine in Fairfield for a few years. When Somerset County, Maine, was established on March 1, 1809, from portions of Kennebec County, Amos moved to Norridgewock, where he lived for the rest of his life, practicing medicine and being active in town affairs.

It looks like Amos was active in the Republican party at the time, hosting meetings at his Norridgewock home, according to a couple of newspaper articles I found at

February 13, 1810, American Advocate (Hallowell, ME),

August 13, 1812, American Advocate (Hallowell, ME),

Another newspaper notice from December 21, 1816, lists Amos Townsend as "Collector of the Revenue for the 5th Collection District of Massachusetts." (Remember, Maine was part of Massachusetts until 1820.)

I find Amos Townsend in Norridgewock in each of the census years, 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, and 1860 (where the head of household is his son, Benjamin, a merchant).

Another, much older town history, The History of Norridgewock by William Allen, (Norridgewock, Maine: Edward J. Peet, 1849), states that Amos Townsend was appointed Register of Deeds for Somerset County, when the county was formed, as well as opened a tavern, practiced as a physician, and traded. He helped financially in establishing the Norridgewock Female Academy. This book was written when he was still living and notes that "he is still in practice, although the infirmities of age impair his usefulness. His son, Charles E. Townsend, M.D. is also a practicing physician in town."

Both of these old local histories note that Amos gave land for the cemetery on the south side of the river to the town.

Tryphena died in 1852, and Amos died on March 7, 1862 and is buried in Norridgewock, at Riverview Cemetery at FindAGrave, which was the land he gave to the town. His memorial is here.

I descend from Amos Townsend as follows:
Amos Townsend
Julia Elvira Townsend
Henry Clay Copeland
Lowell Copeland
Lowell Townsend Copeland
My mother


  1. How neat to have a doctor in your line so far back! And, to find newspaper articles that are that early.

  2. How neat to have a doctor in your line so far back! And, to find newspaper articles that are that early.

    1. I love old newspapers, as well as old local histories. I have had good luck with them. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Thanks for this blog entry, Elizabeth. I've just started researching the Amos Townsend family. I believe his oldest daughter, Mary J. may have married a relative of mine, John Adams. There were many Adams in the area, so I am looking for documentation as to the family of this John Adams. My 3rd great-grandparents lived in Norridgewock; Joseph Crosby Adams [Find A Grave Memorial# 93717086], and Priscilla Whipple Adams. John Adams was a physician, so can't help but wonder if he studied under his father-in-law? Many in the family moved to Missouri. I believe Dr. John Adams and his wife, Mary J may have separated after the tragic scalding death of their young daughter, Eliza. I am tracking a Mary J. Adams to the Cincinnati, Ohio area [1850 and, 1860 US census with family of son, Charles Adams], and then later with her grandson, Amos T. Adams back to Norridgewock [in the 1870 and 1880 US census]. Wish me success, and if you ever run across anything relating to Mary's family, I'd love to hear from you.

    1. I have spent several weeks recently working on my Townsend line (and newly-discovered Crosby line - Amos' mother was a Crosby) and there appears to be many doctors in the family. And as I work back, there are many Townsends in colonial Massachusetts.

      I just took a look at my Family Tree Maker and I have nothing for Mary Jane Townsend except for her birth, September 5, 1806, in Norridgewock, to Amos and Tryphena.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!