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Re: Gershom or Gersham Danks
Posted by: William Fulton (ID *****6588) Date: April 20, 2007 at 06:13:01
In Reply to: Re: Gershom or Gersham Danks by Andrew Timleck of 88

Below are notes on Gershom Danks based on my research. What I have not been able to find out is who his father was. I have it down to about six people living in Hampshire County, MA. If you have other information or see errors, let me know. Gershom is my 3rd great-grandfather.

I am also trying to establish more on the ancestors of Gershom's wife, Mary (Polly) Keeler. So if you have anything on the Jonathan Keeler family of Ferrisburg, Addison County, Vermont, please let me know.

The Gazetteer of Hampshire County, Mass.: 1654-1887, page 234 states that in the War of 1812 the town of Easthampton sent out 18 men which included Gershom Danks.

The following quote comes from a newspaper article in the Chronicle Telegram (Elyria, Ohio), dated 25 March 1980. It is headlined "Tombstone Mystery Reveals Elyria Pioneer", and its subject is George Douglass. "With Gershom Danks, another carpenter, George came west to Ohio, arriving in the tiny settlement on the Black River on April 1, 1817." The article says that George Douglass was born July 25, 1794, in Westfield, Mass. It also mentions that Gershom Danks helped erect the first frame house in Elyria. An article entitled, "History of Elyria" has this: "1817, April George Douglass and Gersham Danks, from Westfield, Mass. arrived to help build." Still another source says that Gershom Danks arrived in Lorain County, Ohio and helped build the town of Elyria.

On 30 April 1818, Gershom married Mary (Polly) Keeler. The marriage license is with the Probate Court of Cuyahoga County, Ohio. I have a copy. The license says they were both of Ridgeville Township.

Lorain County records for 1827 have him living in Ridgeville, Lorain County, Ohio, as does the 1830 census. For the 1830 census he is between 30 and 40 years of age, the head of a household with a wife between 30-40 years of age, a son between 5-10 years of age (J. Olmstead Danks), and four daughters of which two are under 5 years of age (Caroline and Adelia Danks), one daughter is less than 10 years of age (Celia Danks), and one daughter is less than 15 years old (Mary Danks). Census records confirm that Gershom was born in Massachusetts.

From a review of other sources, I have that Gershom moved with his wife and family to Illinois in the Fall of 1838. Then the family moved to Lee County, Iowa in February 1839. Gershom made a claim on the "Half Breed" tract in Lee County, Iowa in what is now Charleston Township. (Source: bio by his son, Jonathan Danks. I have a copy.)

Gershom Danks is listed in the 1840 census for Township 67, Lee County, Iowa Territory. He has one male child between 5 and 10 years of age (Henry Danks), and another son between 15 and 20 (J. Olmstead Danks). It shows one daughter between 10 and 15 (Adelia Danks), and two daughters between 15 and 20 (Celia and Caroline Danks). His wife is not listed on this census. But according to a biographical sketch written by son, J. Olmstead Danks, she accompanied Gershom to Illinois in the fall of 1838 and was with the family in Lee County, Iowa, in February 1839. Apparently, she died before the 1840 census.

On 17 May 1845 Gershom entered the Ceresco Commune located near Ripon, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin. He was a member of the Ceresco Commune (Wisconsin Phalanx) along with Adeline E. Danks, Caroline A. Danks, and Henry C. Danks, his children. (Two of his children remained in Lee County, Iowa. They were Celia Danks and Jonathan Danks. Both had married in Lee County.) Mary Danks Clark, his oldest daughter, and her husband, George Clark, entered the Ceresco Commune on the same day as Gershom. Adeline was named on one membership list as Adelia. James Hebden (future husband of Adelia Danks) was also a member and councilman of the Ceresco Commune.

The Pedrick Genealogy Collection at the Ripon Public Library has the following notes on Danks, Gershom. "He was b Aug 6, 1791 at Northhampton, Mass. and came on the domain May 17, 1845 with the following, probably his children: Caroline Danks, b Feb 25, 1826 at Ridgeville, Ohio and who died at Ceresco, Wis Terr Sept 24, 1845, and was int. in Woodlawn cemetery, with no marker*; Adeline Danks b Jan 15, 1830, of whom the sexton's record says: "Gone into the state of wedlock and left for the Fox River;" Henry C Danks, b July 27, 1833 at Ridgeville, Ohio. He was a member of the Phalanx."

"*Butterfield (1880) says she (Caroline Danks) was the first death within the present city and town of Ripon. She was the 1st grown person, but the child, Albert Farmin, (see Uriel Farmin, this list) d in Aug. 1845 was the first death."

"The stock ledger of the Phalanx, (p 76) shows that he held 15 shares by purchase from the corporation and 12 shares by transfer from Geo W Clark, total 27 shares, par$ 675. These were later sold to other stockholders."

By 1850, Gershom was living in Rushford Township, Winnebago County, Wisconsin, (listed as G. Banks) living with the George W. Clark family. George W. Clark appears in the Record of Minutes of the Ceresco Commune in 1846 with James Hebden. Gershom was still with that family and in that location for the 1860 census (listed as Gersham Danks). This George W. Clark was born on 6 Mar 1814 at St. Albans, Vermont (the same state Gershom's wife was born). He also lived in Ridgeville, Ohio, at the same time as Gershom. George was Gershom's son-in-law. George Clark's wife was Mary Danks. The 1870 census for Cherokee County, Kansas has a G. W. Clark living with Mary and dates and places of birth are consistent with earlier information. (It appears the Clark family was living near Gershom in Township 68, Lee County, Iowa, for the 1840 census.) Gershom is not found with them for the 1870 census. He probably died in Wisconsin before the Clark family moved to Kansas. I have not found his date or place of death though.

I also have information on Gershom Dank's family, but still have a lot of mysteries to pursue. For example, there may be a connection to the Latter Day Saints who were active in Lorain County, Ohio when Gershom was there. The Mormons were also active in Lee County, Iowa. Gershom's daughter, Celia married James Pollock, a Mormon. Gershom Dank's movement to Illinois and Iowa corresponds to the timing of a heavy Mormon presence in these areas. It may be coincidence though.

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