The above portrait hangs in the Cannonsburg Museum, Cannon Township, Michigan. The author of this website borrowed the portrait, had it professionally photographed, and made the print available for anyone who would like it at:
Since I was a child, I’ve had a growing fascination with our family history, kindled by my grandfather, Ronald Pennington. I would spend much of my Summer with my maternal grandparents where I would hear repeated stories surrounding their childhood and roots. The stories that captivated my interest the most were those told about my 2nd Great Grandfather, the enigmatic James Pennington.
Not much was known about him. Those stories I remember being told were based in truth but embellished with imaginative inklings from the creative mind of my grandfather. They grew grander as the years passed. Still… I didn’t mind listening to the same stories repeatedly as my own passion for genealogy blossomed inside me. And I owe this to my grandfather.
My grandfather Ronald is now gone. He died in 2000 at the ripe old age of 92. It was his death that inspired me to look into our shared roots in an attempt to determine fact from fiction. Over the years I have unveiled a plethora of information and were I to be given a single wish it would be a chance to share my discoveries with my grandfather. He would have been delighted in my discoveries.
On my living room wall is a full-sized portrait of James Pennington in his Union Cavalry uniform: standing hands at his side, colt revolver nestled in its holster, his steel-hilted saber donning his left side, with an icy blue eyed gaze that reminds me of my grandfather’s.
The portrait is a replica of the actual pastel painting that now resides in the Cannonsburg Museum in Cannon Township, Michigan. The original was donated by Joyce Hondorp, eldest daughter of Bernice Pennington Whitbeck and has been passed through the family hanging prominently on the walls of the James Pennington home in Courtland, the Oliver Pennington home in Alto, the Bernice Whitbeck home in Wyoming, the Joyce Hondorp home, and now in its final resting place in the museum.
I was surprised to learn that there exists a 2nd copy of the James Pennington Civil War portrait. Dave Cavanaugh, son of Joyce Pennington Cavanaugh, grandson of Guy Pennington, great-grandson of William Wallace Pennington, told me that he too has a pastel portrait of James Pennington - the very same print - hanging on his wall in Iowa. This print has been in their family for many years. It does appear that James Pennington had 2 copies of the painting created: perhaps 1 for the at-home folks and 1 for his Iowa son. This came as quite a surprise to me. Dave did not know about the double portrait either. He believed that the painting was made post-Lincoln's War from an existing headshot of James Pennington.
My grandfather never knew James as James died 5 years before my grandfather was born, so whatever recollections he might have had about James came through his grandmother Esther or other family members. No wonder he was so curious.
James was a stowaway… he ran away from an English orphanage… he was the bastard child of Queen Victoria… he might be the brother of Jack the Ripper… these were all stories that held a young child’s interest. I think my grandfather desperately wanted to know about his roots and invented fables to fill in the gaps of his own understanding. I can’t blame him for that as I would likely do the same were not the facts made available to me.
Fortunately we now live in an age where it is becoming ever easier to trace our genealogy through sites like Ancestry.com that continue to scan new documents making these available to family researchers like myself. But most (some say more than 90%) of available documents are still unavailable online. These must be sought out and investigated for their usefulness. This is not easy. It is time consuming. And had I not had the genealogical torch passed me by my grandfather I would have quit long ago.
But I can’t. My passion is too strong. I want to know the truth. I must know it. Whether it takes me an entire lifetime I will discover the absolute truth surrounding my 2nd Great Grandfather James Pennington.
When I began my genealogical adventure I failed to document my sources. This is a huge problem with many online and offline trees. Researchers fail to document their sources and future genealogists have no earthly clue where those researchers found their information. This held true in my own research. There were two great-granddaughters - for whom I am grateful - that dove off the deep end in search of their roots. Bernice Pennington Whitbeck and Hazel Weller VanAken, both 3rd generation Pennington’s, had the privilege and opportunity to interview the last surviving member of the 2nd generation - Edith Maud Pennington.
Edith was James Pennington’s youngest daughter who lived until 1962. She shared a large amount of information about her father with Bernice, information that is most interesting but from my genealogical perspective must be considered secondary as it is only hearsay and not direct from the source. Still, Edith is closer to the original source and what she had to share is exclusive and adds color to our Pennington story with trivialized nuggets that may one day prove to be gemstones.
I have decided to create a site around the person who was James Pennington. The site will begin with his person and span off into the 2nd, 3rd, and perhaps 4th generations. I will also - through James - touch upon the families that intermarried into the Pennington clan: the Inwoods (through Esther Inwood, wife of James Pennington); and the Wellers (twice intertwined with the James Pennington family through Warner Pennington and Eva Pennington).
I have decided upon the NGS (National Genealogical Society) system to number my genealogy. This in itself is difficult using my online platform because the NGS system calls for superscript numbers and letters to represent 1) generations and 2) footnotes.
Because of the limitations of the online environment I had to improvise. For generational numbers I will use a red italicized letter/number to indicate the generations from and before the central figure, which for the Pennington family is James Pennington. American generations are assigned a number that grows larger with each succeeding generation while overseas generations are assigned a letter that grows larger the further back it goes. Thus James Pennington is generation 1 while his children are generation 2. James’ father and mother are generations A while his grandparents are generation B.
For footnotes I will utilize green non-italicized numbers and these will provide my source documents in the proper genealogical format. As my writing will always be far ahead of my sourcing, you may find that my source citations are behind. Please be patient with me as I develop this site. I will get to the citations eventually though they are my least favorite task in genealogy. But, they are important.
Most graphics I include are clickable for larger viewing.
Please bookmark this site and come back on a regular basis. I will be adding ALL of my collected information from over the years. There is a lot. It may take me months - perhaps a year - to get it all online; however, my purpose is to document everything so future generations can take up the genealogical torch passed along to me by my grandfather and carry it forward as new information comes to light.
1. James 1 Pennington (William A), likely born 12 August 1828 1 near Glasgow, Scotland 2; died 24 November 1903 at Courtland Township, Kent County, Michigan 3. James married on 12 February 1857 at Washington Township, Macomb County, Michigan, Esther Maud Inwood, daughter of William and Charlotte (nee Remnent) Inwood 4.
Year of Birth
That James Pennington was born between 1828 and 1832 is without dispute; however a birth recording, parish or otherwise, has not been located to confirm an exact date. Therefore we can only rely on the information James divulged concerning himself. Those items marked in red (see Visual 1) likely came from James himself - and even these dates do not agree. The earliest of records, the 1850 Federal census argues for an early date (1828) 5 and this coincides with a General Affidavit filed by James in 1902 for a Pension 6.
Another early record is the volunteer enlistment paper signed by James Pennington when he joined the Union Army. This record gives an early year of 1829 7. But James claimed to have been 25, a birth year of 1831, when he married 8. Because 3 of the 4 source documents taken from James himself argue for an early birth year, and because 2 of the 3 give a year of 1828, I would suggest that James was likely born in that year until something is found that proves otherwise.
Place of Birth
Another question that arises is the place of James Pennington's birth. In most sources (see Visual 1) James claimed to have been born in Scotland. His obituary states that he was born near Glasgow. It is likely that both Bernice Whitbeck and Hazel VanAken (both family historians - now deceased) discovered this obituary and took the information from it as gospel truth. But there is some dispute as to whether James was born in Scotland at all.
Note that the earliest document, the 1850 Census, states that James was born in England, not Scotland 9. James probably gave this information himself as the census taker makes a correction when giving James' age scratching off what appears to be a '21' and writing over it '22'. Why? Perhaps James had remembered he had just had a birthday (the census was taken 13 August). Note too that James is listed as being out of work suggesting that he may have been present on the day the census was taken.
Because the majority of the source documents, even those given by James himself, suggest that James was born in Scotland, there is no reason to suggest otherwise until an earlier source document can be found.
Only a single document, the death certificate of James Pennington, lists the possible names of the parents of James Pennington. William Pennington, born in England, is listed as the father 10. Ann Wallace, born in Scotland, the mother 11. The informant for this information was Oliver Pennington, a son of James Pennington 12. Oliver Pennington was present at the time of James' death as would have been Esther Pennington, wife of James, and possibly Edith Pennington, a daughter.
Did James give this information? Both a Scottish and an English genealogist were hired to search for birth, marriage, or death records, for James Pennington and/or his parents. Nothing was found 13. The Pennington surname is not Scottish in origin and there were no Pennington's in Scotland for the 1841 English Census.
The English naming pattern partially fits with the names of James and Esther Pennington's children.
First son named for the father's father: William Wallace Pennington
First daughter named for mother's mother: Eva Ann Pennington (should have been Charlotte)
Note however that daughter Eva's middle name is "Ann" and son William's middle name is "Wallace". All the known names of James' alleged parents are there. Until proof is found otherwise it must be assumed that William Pennington and Ann Wallace were in fact the parents of James Pennington.
Bernice Pennington Whitbeck wrote the following about James Pennington's formative years:
For much of her information it is not known whether it came from Edith or not. I have noted above those instances where Bernice specifically states that tidbit came from her Aunt Edith.
Hazel Weller VanAken's Ahnentafel agrees that James Pennington immigrated in 1848 at the age of 18, that he was the son of William Pennington and Ann Wallace, and that he had at least one sister (only two children mentioned). Problem again, the information is unsourced. Neither girl could have asked their Grandfather because he died when they were young. So whoever they asked is secondary information - someone's recollection of what James actually had said, if anything at all.
In summary it is difficult to sort fact from fiction in the above 16 points. While some or all of the above is probably true, none of it can be proven for the only one who really knew the facts is deceased: James Pennington. He took several secrets to the grave with him. Or did he? Is there a way of circumventing around his enigmatic childhood? Can we still locate missing family members? Yes, via DNA. And we are actually pursuing just that - see DNA below.
1841 English Census
James Pennington should appear on the 1841 English Census (for England/Scotland) and be between the ages of 9 and 13. If born earlier it is likely that his mother is deceased. His father is also deceased. A thorough search of this census has resulted in a few candidates one of whom may be our James Pennington. However, many people were not enumerated for one reason or another and James may have escaped enumeration.
View 1841 English Census Candidates
The 1900 Federal census records that the immigration of James Pennington occurred in 1851 14 though it is uncertain whether this information was remembered properly or who gave the information. If it wasn't James the information is secondary. Both the genealogies of Bernice Pennington Whitbeck and Hazel Weller VanAken list an unsourced year of 1848 15 (Bernice states "about" 1848). Bernice did get some of her information from Edith Maud Pennington, James' youngest daughter; however, she did not always say what came direct from Edith. Even if it was from Edith it is hearsay. She was only repeating what she thought she had heard. She obviously wasn't present to witness the immigration.
Ronald Wallace Pennington, a grandson of James Pennington, born in 1908, never knew his grandfather who passed 5 years before Ronald was born. Ronald believed that James stowed away on a boat and that he allegedly heard this story from his grandmother Esther 16. However, Edith Pennington paints a different story. Edith said that James came to America with a group of friends, that James had planned to go to Massachusetts where he had family, but was talked into following his friends to Detroit instead 17.
Regardless, two possible immigration records have been found neither of which has been confirmed.
First is a "James Peinngton", occupation: tailor, age 22, male, voyage paid by self, born in England, who sailed from Liverpool, England and arrived 6 June 1850 on the "Florida" in New York City 18. If this record were correct it would give James sufficient time to reach Ray Township, Macomb County, Michigan where an unemployed James Pennington appears on the 1850 Federal census. This would make perfect sense considering how James was a new arrival and based on the next door neighbor (more information under the 1850 heading).
The second is a "Jas. Pennington", occupation: laborer, age 22, male, voyage paid by self, born in Ireland, who sailed from Liverpool, England and arrived 20 September 1851 on the "Kossuth" in New York City 19. Ireland's Griffith Valuation does show a few Pennington families living in Ulster, Ireland 20. This "Jas. Pennington" was from one of these. Does this make him Irish? No. Northern Ireland contained many English who were offered land by the English Crown. This area was mainly Protestant as opposed to Southern Ireland, which was predominantly Catholic. Could this "Jas. Pennington" be the James Pennington of this genealogy? It is possible though James never claimed to have been born in Ireland or made mention of this land.
1850 Federal Census
James Pennington appears on the 1850 Federal census living under the Robb household in Ray Township, Macomb County, Michigan 21. This census was taken on the 13th of August 1850 22. It appears that the enumerator began to record a "21" but corrected the entry to a "22". This may be because James, being interviewed by the census taker, remembered that he had just had a birthday, one day before. James does not yet have an occupation. Could this be because he was new to the area and still looking for gainful employment? On this census and only on this census does James state that he was born in England.
An interesting mention is that another young man, Richard Shutt, age 21, who works as a farmer, born in England, is living under the same household 23. Of a similar age to James I had thought perhaps that Richard was one of the young men whom James accompanied to Detroit; however, Richard Shutt sailed from Glasgow, Scotland arriving on 1 June 1848 aboard the "Madawaska" in New York City 24. James Pennington is not listed on the ship manifest 25.
Edith Pennington told Bernice Whitbeck that James worked as a teamster (wagon driver) for the Neil Gray family of Washington, Macomb, Michigan and that this is where he met his future bride 26. Adjacent the Robb household, where James Pennington took up his residence, was the farm of Neil Gray Junior 27. It is possible that James Pennington, a new arrival to the area, sought work with Neil Jr., but was directed instead to Neil's father a few short miles west in Washington 28. This is more than coincidence.
James Pennington and Esther Inwood married on the 12th day of February 1857 in Romeo, Macomb, Michigan 29. James was allegedly 25 while Esther was 21 30. Witnesses were Martha West of Romeo and Emily Walker of Washington 31. Rev. Asher E. Mather, Minister of the Gospel, was the marriage administrator 32. Of Rev. Mather it is said, "... after a brief period (in Detroit) he removed to Romeo, where a small church was in a depressed condition. During the next four years his work was greatly blessed, a good house of worship and a parsonage were built, and the church, which had been aided by the American Baptist Home Mission Society, became self-supporting. 33" Rev. Mather died on the 27th of August 1899 in Battle Creek, Calhoun, Michigan 34. He is buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery at Pontiac, Michigan (block 4, lot 469) 35.
Edith Pennington told Bernice Pennington Whitbeck that while living in Macomb County the new family had their own home - they did not live with Esther's parents 36. But shortly after William's birth the new family moved to Cannon township 37. They came with Esther's brother James Inwood and his young family 38. It is assumed that they lived down Blakely Rd. where James Inwood had his residence: there once was an old house right across the road from them 39.
Wedding Photo of Esther Inwood
The original photo pictured above is in the possession of Doris Bartell, daughter of Bernice Pennington Whitbeck. This photo has a companion photo, the younger portrait of James Pennington. Both photos were forwarded to photo analysis expert Maureen Taylor of Family Tree Magazine. Maureen confirmed that the photos were right for the 1857 era. She also believed that both photos are wedding photos and the young girl pictured with Esther was the flower girl at the wedding.
Read Maureen's Article - Old Blue Eyes in a Family Photo
Read Maureen's Article - Daguerreotype, Ambrotype and Tintype: Telling Them Apart
Read my Analysis on the Young Girl Pictured
Relocation to Kent County
Between April of 1858, the birth of son William Wallace, and 9 July 1860, the date of the 1860 Federal census, James Pennington and family relocated to Cannon, Kent, Michigan. They did not make this trip alone. Esther's brother, James Inwood and family also made the trip. The Pennington family lived adjacent the James Inwood farm located on the southwest corner of 7 Mile and Blakely.
James Pennington did not enter the war when Lincoln first called for troops. This may be because of the births of his 2nd child, Eva Ann in 1861 and Warner James in 1862. Regardless, Lincoln did call for additional troops in July of 1864 and James heard the call. But instead of enlisting in his home State of Michigan for some odd reason James traveled a distance of 444 miles (assuming he traveled through Canada) to Genesee Falls, New York where he enlisted in the 9th New York Cavalry on 4 October 1864.
One possible reason is that the Michigan-based units only offered a 3-year enlistment term for the same bounty offered by the State of New York for a 1-year enlistment. James, not knowing when the war would end, decided on the 1 year term, especially on account of his young family.
Edith Pennington told Bernice that her father was at Cedar Creek, Waynesboro, and some minor skirmishes. The Battle at Cedar Creek was fought on the 19th of October. It is not likely that Private James Pennington was present for the major battle. Typically once a new recruit signed on he was sent to training, through Washington D.C., and on to his unit. He would be marked on muster rolls as "present". Rather for the months of September/October Private Pennington was marked as "not yet joined". But for the months of November/December Private Pennington is marked as "present". In addition, under the remarks it states that James "joined company Dec. 12 / 64".
Captain and Brevet Major Newel Cheney wrote a history of the 9th New York Cavalry. For October 28 he wrote, "A large number of recruits joined the regiment." He also wrote how Confederate General Jubal Early's forces that had been defeated at Cedar Creek were reorganizing in and around that area. Union cavalry units, and Private James Pennington may have been among them, charged through the area quashing Early's forces. So it is very possible that James Pennington was present at Cedar Creek just not at the major skirmish.
Reading through the numerous affidavits and documentation required for pension approval it is known that James was injured during a raid near Winchester, Virginia. It was one of the coldest nights of the war, around New Years 1865, and James was with several other men on picket duty. James rode a young inexperienced horse that stepped into a hole, stumbled, and sent James forward on to the pummel of his saddle before hurling him to the ground below. Corporal Thomas Rycroft, James' bunk mate, assisted James and his horse. He then found a resting spot for James to gather his senses. James was in obvious pain - white in the face.
Arriving back in camp James complained over the intensified pain thinking it might be his kidneys. James also complained about the soreness in his joints and muscles brought upon by the dire cold. The next day the group marched on to Lovettsville, Virginia where they camped out the winter. In too much pain James sent Corporal Rycroft for medicine. The horse injury had caused what is known as Varicocele, an enlarged vein in the scrotum - a damaged left testicle.
Read a letter written by Esther Pennington to Husband James Pennington on 17 November 1865
Michigan birth records did not commence until 1867. Son Oliver was born in 1868 yet his birth apparently was not registered or has not been found. The 1870 Federal census places the Pennington family in their new home on Big Brower Lake, Courtland, Kent, Michigan.
On 27 March 1862 James Pennington purchased from Nancy J. Thompson, trustee for Dennis Harbaugh, for the amount of $400 the following parcels:
40 acres of land on the south end of the NW 1/4 of the NE fractional 1/4 of Section 3 (Courtland Township)...also all of the NW 1/4 of the NE fractional 1/4 except 40 acres on the south side of Section 3 (this is the Courtland parcel where stood the Pennington barn)...
Also the West 1/2 of the SW 1/4 of SE 1/4 of Section 34 (this was the Cannon homestead parcel on Big Brower Lake.
View Land Contract here.
It may be that James Pennington enrolled in the Union Army for the $300 bounty he received. He could have used this money to help purchase the 80 acre parcel east of the homestead, north of 10 Mile.
According to one neighbor, the 20 acre parcel was the only one to have buildings: a house and barn; however, Hazel Weller VanAken wrote that her Grandmother Esther told her the barn was across the road from the homestead. The land was poor - only 9 acres was tillable. There was a small orchard around the house.
I was contacted by Wayne and Karl Schmidt who own property on the south end of Big Brower Lake. He thought perhaps some of this land was owned by James Pennington so he wished to do a bit of investigation. I sent him the two pictures I possess of the old barn and house to begin his search. The brothers went to the property after visiting the Courtland Township. Wayne wrote that "it isn't too hard to detect where the property lines are as there is a line of old maples on the western border and a line of maples on the eastern border. Essentially the Pennington homestead consists of two 10 acre squares stacked atop one another."
Wayne sent me a few photos of the property. He also looked at the property across the road and believes he found the area where the barn once sat. He said, "we're basing all of this on the slope of the road and the small embankment in front of the barn picture (that I sent him)." This has filled in over the years. Wayne gave me permission to post his photos (nos. 6-9 below). I appreciate the research of both Wayne and Karl Schmidt. Turns out their property sat to the west of the Pennington plot on the former Goss section.
The 80 acre parcel had no buildings and the land was rough light land, mainly blow sand. Here the family farmed Rye, Beans and Potatoes on only about 5 or 6 acres. The 65 acre parcel was very poor land and wooded. By 1879 the family had 110 acres of tilled land, 38 acres of orchards/meadows/vineyards, and 40 acres of woodland. 25 tons of hay were harvested, 300 pounds of butter produced, 45 fleeces shorn, 50 bushels of potatoes produced, 250 bushels of indian corn produced, 310 bushels of wheat produced, 20 tons of straw/flax produced and apples grown with 100 producing trees on 3 acres. The family had 4 horses, 3 milk cows, 45 sheep, 5 pigs, and 50 chickens. The Pennington farm, even with its limitations, was productive.
Postbellum Lincoln's War
Because of his ailing health (rheumatism, enlarged prostate gland, and Varicocele) James Pennington was not able to work the farm in his later years. He gave the reins of the farm to his son Oliver with the stipulation that he care for his parents. Oliver fulfilled his duties as a son.
Oliver worked the farm while his sister Edith, a school teacher at Weller school, resigned and returned home to assist her aging parents. She was paid $2 per month for her troubles.
Toward the end James was completely unable to work. His enlarged prostate and testicular vein caused him much pain when passing water and certain unrest. He had to get up at least 10 times a night to pass water.
James applied for a pension and was awarded $12 per month commencing July 1890 based on the loss of his left eye (non-war related), varicocele, enlarged prostrate gland, and rheumatism. According to the pension record James lost his left eye in the winter of 1868 being hit by a tree branch - the eye atrophied into its socket leaving nothing but a white stump.
GAR - Grand Army of the Republic
James Pennington joined the Peter A. Weber GAR in Rockford, Michigan in the final half of 1891. Other members of this GAR unit include the Weller brothers, one whom his daughter Eva would marry, Sidney Leroy Weller. These brothers were early members of the unit and likely convinced James to join. The GAR was a fraternal organization much like our American Legion or VFW today.
James Pennington died from typhoid fever on 24 November 1903 at his home in Courtland. He was buried on the Pennington plot at Old Bostwick (Marshall) Cemetery. This church cemetery sat north of the Bostwick Congregational Church. James and Esther Pennington are not found on the membership rolls. James had no life insurance.
Esther was awarded a widow's pension starting with $8 per month and ending with $30 per month at the time of her death in 1925. Probate was entered. Final expenses were tallied: 200 cash paid to Esther (widow), $150 in household goods, $70 to the undertaker, $12 for new burial clothes, $390 paid to Edith, $5 paid to the minister, $5 paid for the choir, $2 paid the sexton, $14 paid to Dr. Sarber, and $2 in medicine. Real Estate was valued at $3300 and personal property was valued at $110.
DNA - Solving the Pennington Mystery
My Grandfather Ronald Pennington had a working theory that the Pennington name was adopted by James when he came to the States. Using the modern advances of DNA it is easy to prove or disprove this theory. The problem was in finding a living male Pennington descendant that would be willing to take the test. My Grandfather passed in 2000.
My Grandfather had a younger brother named Lyle. Lyle died young in 1976 so he was not a candidate; however, Lyle had a son named Tom. I reached out to Tom via his sister Ruth who still remains on some of the old Pennington land off 9 Mile Road in Cannon Township. Tom agreed to take the test.
View Tom's DNA results.
Children of James1 Pennington and Esther Maud Inwood were as follows:
+ 2 i WILLIAM WALLACE 2 PENNINGTON, born April 1858, Washington, Macomb County, Michigan; married Edith N. George on 30 December 1891 in Shawano, Shawano, Wisconsin; died 29 May 1948 at Nashua, Chickasaw County, Iowa.
+ 3 ii EVA ANN 2 PENNINGTON, born 10 August 1861 at Cannon Township, Kent County, Michigan; married Sidney Leroy Weller on 11 February 1884 at Cannon Township, Kent County, Michigan; died 11 October 1933 at Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan.
+ 4 iii WARNER JAMES 2 PENNINGTON, born 23 December 1862 at Cannon Township, Kent County, Michigan; married Grace Elizabeth Weller on 27 September 1894 in Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan; died 24 June 1943 in Rockford, Kent County, Michigan.
5 iv ISABELLA HATTIE 2 PENNINGTON, born 2 June 1866 at Cannon Township, Kent County, Michigan; died from Scarlet Fever on 21 February 1871 at Courtland Township, Kent County, Michigan. Esther Pennington's Bible record states that Isabella died on 27 January 1871 and was born on 19 May 1866. This conflicts with official Kent County Records. Her name taken from marker is misspelled "Isibella", but on the Pennington monument reverse is spelled correctly. Date on marker seems to coincide with the information from Esther's Bible. Small text on marker reads "meet me in heaven."
6 v OLIVER S. 2 PENNINGTON, born 6 September 1868 at Cannon Township, Kent County, Michigan; died from Scarlet Fever on 1 January 1871 at Courtland Township, Kent County, Michigan. Esther Pennington's Bible records states that Oliver died on 31 January 1871 and that he was born 17 April 1868. This conflicts with official Kent County Records. Date taken from marker seems to coincide with the information from Esther's Bible. Small text on marker reads, "budded on earth to bloom in heaven."
7 vi OLIVER HENRY 2 PENNINGTON, born 10 November 1871 at Courtland Township, Kent County, Michigan; died 3 August 1956 at Alto, Kent County, Michigan. Never Married. Oliver had no issue. Edith said that he was named after old Mr. Wilkinson who always brought the children something (an apple etc.) Oliver was the typical aloof Pennington man. He was popular with the ladies in his youth but seemed married to his farm. The administrator of his father's estate he sold the land and purchased quality farmland on Timpson Avenue in Alto Township. Here Oliver lived with his mother, sister Edith, and later brother Clarence, until the end of his days. Oliver's death came suddenly. He died Friday night, August 3rd, about 6 o'clock. Oliver had been out watching hired help put away the grain and the door wouldn't shut. Edith tried to help him but they couldn't get it shut. Edith meant to do it herself the following day before he could get to it again but Oliver tried and fell hurting himself. Oliver repeatedly called for Edith's help - he couldn't get up. She helped pull him by his good left arm and he stumbled to the house collapsing on the sitting-room floor. Edith couldn't get him up so she put pillows under him and he laid there all night. The next day when the mailman arrived he assisted Edith in getting Oliver to the sitting-room couch where Oliver died.
View Photos from Oliver Pennington's Life.
Read Oliver Pennington Letters.
8 vii CLARENCE R. 2 PENNINGTON, born 1 Mary 1874 at Courtland Township, Kent County, Michigan; died 5 October 1937 at Alto Kent County, Michigan. Never Married. Clarence had no issue. Clarence left home at an early age. He went as far as Colorado before settling in Duluth, Minnesota as a laborer. He returned home to Alto Township where he died.
9 viii EDITH MAUD 2 PENNINGTON, born 6 September 1877 at Courtland Township, Kent County, Michigan; died 27 January 1962 at Lowell, Kent County, Michigan. Never Married. Edith had no issue. Edith was a schoolteacher. She taught at the Weller School in Cannon Township before resigning to care for her aging parents. She moved with her brother Oliver and mother to Alto Township where Oliver purchased his farm. She remained with her brother all the days of her life. After his passing Edith lived alone. Suspicious that the previous day's mail had not been picked up, mail carrier Harvey Slater investigated the Pennington home to find Edith sitting in a chair beside an unlit stove. Two kerosene lamps were burning dimly on the table. Mr. Slater immediately drove to a neighbor's home and called two of Edith's nieces. Edith was suffering from an extreme bad cold and the flu. Edith was taken to the Lowell Rest Home where she died 10 days later.
View Photos from Edith Pennington's Life.
1. "1850 United States Census," database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 May 2016), entry for James Pennington (age 22), Ray Township, Macomb County, Michigan. See attached graphic. The birth year of James varies widely from 1828 at the earliest to 1832. Three source documents came direct through James calling for an early date: his Union Army Volunteer Enlistment where an earlier birth year would make James older rather than younger (many youthful soldiers lied about their age so they could enlist whereas older soldiers normally wanted to give a younger age), his Application for Pension, and his 1850 Federal Census.
2. State of Michigan Department of State - Certificate of Death, no. 262 (1903), James Pennington; Division of Vital Statistics. A single document gives the birth location of James Pennington: his death certificate. Incidentally this is the only document we have that gives the names of his parents - secondary information given by Oliver Pennington (likely sitting adjacent his mother Esther at the time the certificate was completed), neither who ever knew the parents.
3. Michigan Certificate of Death no. 262 (1903), James Pennington. This is primary information. Oliver and Esther Pennington were both witnesses of the death of James.
4. Macomb County, Michigan, Marriage Records, Vol. D, no. 299, James Pennington and Esther Inwood, 1857; County Clerk's Office, Macomb County. Note on this certificate that James states he is 25. Did he wish to appear older? This would give a birth year of 1831.
5. "1850 United States Census," database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 May 2016), entry for James Pennington (age 22), Ray Township, Macomb County, Michigan.
5. "1850 United States Census," database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 May 2016), entry for James Pennington (age 22), Ray Township, Macomb County, Michigan.
6. General Affidavit of James Pennington.
7. Volunteer Enlistment of James Pennington
8. Macomb County, Michigan, Marriage Records, Vol. D, no. 299, James Pennington and Esther Inwood, 1857; County Clerk's Office, Macomb County.
9. "1850 United States Census," database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 May 2016), entry for James Pennington (age 22), Ray Township, Macomb County, Michigan.
10. Michigan Certificate of Death no. 262 (1903), James Pennington.
13. English & Scottish Genealogist Information here...
14. 1900 U.S. census, Courtland Township, Kent, Michigan, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 43, p. 11-A, James Pennington; NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 721.
15. Bernice Pennington Whitbeck and Hazel Weller VanAken, Genealogies and Private Papers; copies privately held by Jay Kruizenga, Allendale, Michigan, 2012.
16. Ronald Wallace Pennington, grandson of James Pennington (Plainfield, Kent, Michigan), interview by Jay Kruizenga, 1980s; transcript privately held by Jay Kruizenga, Allendale, Michigan, 2012.
17. Edith Pennington, daughter of James Pennington (Alto, Kent, Michigan), interview by Bernice Pennington Whitbeck, unknown date; transcript privately held by Jay Kruizenga, Allendale, Michigan, 2012.
18. James Peinngton Immigration
19. Jas. Pennington Immigration
20. Griffith Valuation
21. "1850 United States Census," database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 May 2016), entry for James Pennington (age 22), Ray Township, Macomb County, Michigan.
24. Richard Shutt Immigration
26. Edith Pennington, interview, unknown date.
27. 1850 Census
28. Neil Gray Residence
29. Macomb County, Michigan, Marriage Records, Vol. D, no. 299, James Pennington and Esther Inwood, 1857; County Clerk's Office, Macomb County.
33. Rev. Mather Biography
34. Rev. Mather Biography
35. Rev. Mather Burial Information
36. Edith Pennington, interview, unknown date.
39. Cannon Township Plat Map