Vernon County

WEEK 20: Margaret DeGarmo – Black Sheep Mama

I’ve been busy traveling and visiting with family this month which has put me a little behind on my 52 Ancestors posts. So I’m attempting to get caught up.

This theme for Week 20 was “Black Sheep”. I had already blogged about the most prominent “black sheep” in my husband’s family, James Peter Larry. But how did he get that way? This week, I take a look at his parents, specifically his mother, to see if bad blood really runs through the family.

James’ mother was Margaret “Peggy” DeGarmo. She was born around 1806 to Samuel DeGarmo and Elizabeth Grimes, and grew up in Randolph, Virginia.

It appears that Peggy had 3 children out of wedlock in her early 20s, which must have been scandalous in its day. They were Cushing DeGarmo, born 1825; Angeline DeGarmo, born 1833;  and Jacob DeGarmo, born 1836. All 3 children were born in Virginia.

At some point between 1836 and 1838, Peggy and her 3 children moved to Perry County, Ohio. She had a brief relationship with Peter O’Leary, and had one child; James Peter Larry. It is not known if she had ever married Peter O’Leary. But there’s a story that he ended up being incarcerated for murder. Again, this is a story not proven.

Finally, Peggy settled down with Thomas Downey. They married in 1853 in Perry County, Ohio. However, Thomas and Peggy had about 6 children born before they were married: Elizabeth, born 1840; Margaret, born 1841; Prudence, born 1843; Mary, born 1845; Eli, born 1846; and John, born 1850.

Thomas Downey died around 1858 in Ohio. After his death, Peggy moved to Vernon County, Wisconsin with most of her children. She could be found in the 1870 Census living near her children: Eli, Prudence and Elizabeth, who had all married and had children of their own. There were 2 grandchildren living with her, Isaac and Sarah DeGarmo. They were the children of her eldest son, Cushing DeGarmo, who was killed in the Civil War.

Two years later, Peggy DeGarmo Downey, mother of 10, died in Liberty, Wisconsin.

WEEK 16 – 2015: Velma Myrtle (Kelsey) Fish – 1897-1989

A few years ago, my mother-in-law had given my husband a photo of him and his siblings with his great grandmother, “Grandma Fish” My husband fondly remembers her sugar cookies and told me that she was in her 90s when she passed away. So when this week’s 52 Ancestors theme of “Live Long” came up, I immediately thought of her.

Velma Myrtle Kelsey was born on August 24, 1897 in the small, rural community of Springville, Vernon County, Wisconsin. Her parents were Flornty and Harriet “Hattie” (Van Dyke) Kelsey. William McKinley was beginning his first term as President that year. Three days before Velma’s birth, a gentleman named Ransom Olds in Lansing, Michigan was starting his automobile company, Oldsmobile.

Velma’s parents seemed to have bounced around a bit, living between Jefferson and Genoa in Vernon County, and briefly in Browning, Taylor County, Wisconsin.

Tragedy struck on Velma’s 13th birthday in 1910. Her mother, Hattie, died at the age of 28, leaving Velma, her father, and 6 other young siblings.

At some point, she met Roscoe Fish, who was from Sparta, Monroe County, Wisconsin. On March 10, 1919, she and Roscoe took a trip to Winona, Minnesota and were married by Samuel L. Parrish. Witnesses to the ceremony were Roscoe’s sister, Mary and her husband, Alex Paterson.

Roscoe and Velma settled down in Sparta, to start their family. They had 4 sons and 4 daughters. Three of their sons died when they were just infants. They eventually moved to a large home on Pine Street in Sparta, where Roscoe was employed by nearby Fort McCoy.

Roscoe and Velma were married for 29 years until tragedy struck once again. Roscoe suffered an aneurysm at the age of 59, and died on November 11, 1948.

Velma continued living on as a widow for 41 years. Over that time, she saw 32 grandchildren, 52 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great-grandchildren born. She also had to bear another loss, when her daughter, Phyllis, died in 1982.

Velma died March 13, 1989 at the age of 91. She is buried next to her husband, Roscoe in the Angelo Cemetery.

During her lifetime, she lived through the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. She saw the Berlin Wall fall and saw Neil Armstrong become the first man to walk on the moon. William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush all served as President while she was alive. and although, she experienced so much heartbreak at the death of her mother, her children and her husband, she obviously experienced much joy and wonder to have lived as long as she did.

WEEK 5 – 2015: Stephen A. Fish

Upon seeing the theme of this week’s 52 Ancestor challenge,”plowing through,” the records of the U.S. General Land Office immediately sprang to mind. The Homestead Act of 1862 was passed by Congress in order to make land in the west available to citizens willing to settle and reside on the land for five years and show evidence that they had improved it. The GLO records hold the documents showing the transfer of these public lands to the applicant. Since the applicants were required to show that they improved their parcel of land, no doubt there was a lot of “plowing through” involved.

My husband’s tree has quite a few of these bold adventurers. I decided to focus on his 3rd great grandfather, Stephen Allen Fish, who is credited with being amongst the earliest settlers in the small community of Liberty, Wisconsin.

No one seems to agree on where he was born. Some researchers say he was born in 1802 in Canada. However, others say he was born in New York or Massachusetts.

In 1850, he was living in Walworth County, Geneva with his wife and 4 sons. One of his sons was 18 year old Samuel.

According to the History of Vernon County, Samuel settled on section 9 of Liberty in 1855. He was elected as one of the first town officers in 1858, holding the position of clerk.

Stephen followed his son to Liberty shortly after. He was awarded the 85 acres he had been farming on February 1, 1858 by the Bureau of Land Management.

Stephen died in 1864 in Liberty. He is buried in the McCullough family plot in Liberty.


Google Earth Snapshot showing location of land settled by Stephen A. Fish in Vernon County, Wisconsin.

Google Earth Snapshot showing location of land settled by Stephen A. Fish in Vernon County, Wisconsin.

Land patent for Stephen A. Fish.

Land patent for Stephen A. Fish.

8. Jean Remy Jambois – Man of Many Names

This week’s ancestor for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Days challenge is my husband’s 4th great grandfather, Jean Remy Jambois.

It has been a challenge researching this particular ancestor, because of the many various spellings of his name. I have seen it as “Jean Remy,” “Jean Reme,” “Jean Remequois,” and just plain “Remy.” His offspring would prove to be confusing as well. For example, one of his daughters, (my husband’s 3rd great grandmother) could be found as “Mary Florentia,” “Florentine,” “Flora,” or “Mary”. However, some of her sisters also had “Mary” or “Marie” before their names: Marie Rose, Marie Victorine, Mary Euphemie.

However, I did manage to find out much about this family. Remy was born 1814 in the region of Lorraine, France. He married Margaret Diehdonne about 1836 in France.  In 1847, Remy and Margaret packed up their children and boarded the ship “Michigan” in the port of La Havre, France and sailed to America. They arrived at the port of New Orleans on May 21, 1847.

The Jambois family resided in New Orleans for several years. Remy found work building for the levee. Two children were born in New Orleans: Marie Victorine in 1848 and a son, Amedia, in 1853.

The Jambois family moved north to Galena, Illinois for a a few years. In 1870, Remy acquired 80 acres from the Land Patent office near LaCrosse, Wisconsin. The family moved and settled in what is now present day Genoa, in Vernon County, Wisconsin. According to “Memoirs of Vernon County” by Earl M. Rogers, Remy helped to build the first Catholic church in the county.

Margaret died in 1871 followed by Remy on September 27, 1884. To date, I still have not found their resting place. However, most of their children are buried at St. Charles Catholic church cemetery in Genoa.