Charity Miller

Charity Miller (1785 -1852) was one of only four women who were original land patent owners in Rose Township. She held original land patents for 240 acres in Rose Township (section 21) which she purchased in 1837. She was also an original land patent owner of 160 acres (section 8) in Wayne County in the Michigan Territory before Michigan was a state. She purchased her Wayne County land in 1835.

Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Record (source)

Similar to the other women who were original land patent owners in the township, Charity Miller came to the Michigan Territory from New York and owned land in her own name at a time when few women were landowners. However, her story diverges from these other women in a number of ways.

All of the women who had original land patents in Rose Township were married except Charity Miller who appears to have never married. Two of the other women, Eunice Lockwood and Sophia Hadley, bought their land after their husbands already had original land patents. Elizabeth Garner Moore’s husband was not an original land patent owner. Charity Miller owned her Rose Township land until she died and then willed her land to her half-brothers. It appears Charity no longer owned her land in Wayne County at the time she made her will in 1837 as the Wayne County land was not mentioned in it.

Charity Miller was the oldest and the largest landholder of all the four women who had original land patents in Rose Township. Charity was about 50 years old when she purchased her first acreage in Wayne County in 1835 and 52 years old when she purchased her land in Rose Township in 1837. In total, she had 400 acres of land (240 acres in Rose Township, Oakland County, Michigan and 160 acres in Romulus Township, Wayne County, Michigan). Elizabeth Garner Moore was 46 years old when she purchased her 40 acres in the township. Eunice Lockwood purchased her 80 acres (40 acres in Rose Township and 40 acres in Highland Township) when she was 37 years old. Sophia Hadley was the youngest at age 24 owing 82 acres (40 acres in Rose Township and 42 acres in Springfield Township).

Very little is known about Charity Miller. Charity was not found in any census records and is nonexistent in other historical records. Nor is there much information available about a number of her relatives. The smallest of clues were used to piece together the information presented in this essay. She serves as an example of how women at that time were often lost to history, especially a woman who never married and was without children. The other women who were original land patent owners in the township had husbands and children providing more means for extrapolating information to piece together parts of their stories. This essay is both about Charity Miller as well as an essay about searching for clues about her and her family.

Looking for Clues for Charity Miller

The Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records recorded Charity Miller’s land purchases in Oakland and Wayne Counties. She purchased her land in Wayne County (Romulus Township) in 1835 and her land in Oakland County (Rose Township) two years later in 1837. It was these records which documented the existence of Charity Miller and brought attention to her status as a woman who first owned land in Rose Township.

In addition to listing the name of the land purchaser, date of purchase, county, township and section number, the General Land Office Records post the actual patent which lists where the person was from. Often, when someone purchased acreage at different times, the first land patent will indicate where the person was originally from and later patents will list where the person was living at the time they purchased the land. The 1835 land patent for Charity Miller (pictured below) lists her as being from Wayne County Michigan Territory indicating she may have already been in the area when she purchased land. It is not known why Charity Miller purchased her land in the Michigan Territory. Had she planned on farming this land as a woman in her 50s or had she caught “Michigan Land Fever” and perhaps wanted to invest in “cheap land”? How did she pay for this land as an unmarried woman?

1835 Land Patent for 160 Acres in Wayne County for Charity Miller (source)

Copied below is a partial map which shows original land patent holders in Rose Township. The 240 acres in section 21 owned by Charity Miller are outlined in blue.

Rose Township Original Land Patent Map Showing Land owned by Charity Miller

Close up of Map showing Charity Miller’s Land (240 acres) in Section 21 in Rose Township

As mentioned, Charity Miller was not found in any census records. Information about her birth, death and where she lived were found entirely from clues located in the few records found. The acreage report for the sections of land owned by Charity Miller were pulled and studied. It showed a land transfer on 8/15/1837 from the U.S. government to C. Miller. This date matched the date of the land patent to Charity Miller so it was determined C. Miller was Charity Miller. The transfer report for 7/15/1852 mentioned a “Probate of Will” and showed to whom her land was transferred presumably around the time of her death.

Acreage Report Show Land Transfers from C. Miller to Bennetts

This information led to researching the name A. Bennett who was listed on the land transfer. This subsequently led to discovering A. Bennett was one of two half-brothers of Charity Miller with Jonathan Bennett being the other.

At first it was not known if Charity ever lived in Michigan, but just in case she had, the Oakland County probate records for 1852, her presumed year of her death, were searched. Sure enough, probate records for her were located. It was these records which provided more clues about Charity Miller. Below are partial copies of and transcriptions for Charity Miller’s Last Will and Testament, Petition for Probate and Order for Hearing and Inventory due to the originals being very difficult to read.

Partial Copy of Original Last Will and Testament for Charity Miller

Translation of Original Last Will and Testament for Charity Miller (clues are highlighted)

In the Name of God Amen

To all unto whom it may _____ concern ____ _____ that I Charity Miller now of Pontiac in the county Of Oakland and State of Michigan formerly of Parma in the county Of Monroe the state of New York aged fifty two years on the tenth day of May A.D. 1837 Being of infirm body but of sound and disposing mind and mindful of my mortality do make and _____ this instrument as my last and only will and testament.

Firstly I desire after my death to be decently interred after the manner of Christians.

Secondly I desire the persons hereinafter mentioned to whom I shall give and bequeath all Real estate would pay mutually all of my just debts and to pay my incidental charges in which ?????

Thirdly I give and bequeath unto my half brother (Albert Bennett) now of Pontiac Michigan the north half of the east half of the southeast quarter and the west half of the northeast quarter of Section No.. twenty one in Surveyed Township No. four north of Range seven east in the Township of Rose in the County of Oakland and state of Michigan to hold the same with all the appurtenances unto him and his heirs and assignees forever & ? ?

Fourthly I give and bequeath unto my half Brother of kin Jonathan Bennett now a resident of the town of Rose County of Oakland and State of Michigan that other certain piece or parcel of land situated in the said town of and County of Oakland and known as the east half of the northwest quarter and the south half of the east half of the southeast quarter of section No. twenty one in surveyed Township No. four north of range seven east To have and hold the same unto him and his heirs and assignees forever.

Fifthly I desire my Executor to distribute between the said Albert and Jonathan Bennett for whom I have much love all my wardrobe (?) and other personal effects in such manner unto him may seem ?

In Testimony whereof I the said Charity Miller have herein set my hand and seal at Pontiac in the county of Oakland and state of Michigan on this twenty-first day of December in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight hundred and thirty seven hereby declaring this Instrument to be my last will and Testament Revoking by the Presents all other wills, ? and Codicils whatever by me heretofore made.

Clues from Charity Miller’s Last Will and Testament

  • “now of Pontiac in the county Of Oakland and State of Michigan”

  • “formerly of Parma in the county Of Monroe the state of New York”

  • “aged fifty two years on the tenth day of May A.D. 1837”

  • desire to be interred after the manner of Christians [buried]

  • “give and bequeath unto my half brother [Albert Bennett] now of Pontiac, Michigan [part of section 21] in the Township of Rose…”

  • “give and bequeath unto my half brother of kin Jonathan Bennett now a resident of the town of Rose, County of Oakland and State of Michigan that other certain piece or parcel of land situated in [section 21]...”

  • “distribute between the said Albert and Jonathan Bennett for whom I have much love all my wardrobe (?) and other personal effects…” [to state she loved her half-brothers in her will implies .a close relationship]

Partial Copy of Original Petition for Probate and Order for Hearing for Charity Miller

Clues from a Transcription of Charity Miller’s Petition for Probate and Order for Hearing

  • Petitioner regarding the original probate case was Albert Bennett, Charity’s half brother (note: half-brother, Jonathan Bennett had died in 1850).

  • Charity Miller, late of Pontiac, died in the Township of Highland on or about the 18th day of July in 1852.

  • She was previous to her death an inhabitant of the County of Oakland and she was possessed of real and personal estate in that county to be administered

  • Estimated value thereof is the sum of four thousand five hundred dollars thereabout

  • The names of the heirs at law and other persons interested in her estate were: Sally H??? (illegible) now a resident of the state of New York as sister of said deceased, Albert Bennett, and G.W.Bennett (Albert Bennett’s son)

  • Morgan L. Drake was executor of her will [well known attorney in Pontiac at that time]

Partial Copy of Original Probate of Will - Proofs for Charity Miller

  • Morgan L. Drake was acquainted with Clarity Miller in her lifetime [possibly indicating connections to well known people at the time as well as ability to pay for services]

  • Executed said will in the presence of Albert F. draper and Charles draper and John P. Leroy [Charity was affiliated with these prominent men in Pontiac]

Charity Miller’s probate documents provided information about her. In her will, it mentions her age, confirms she was living in Pontiac in 1837, and that she had been previously from Parma, Monroe County, New York. Her will mentions she loved her two half-brothers Albert and Jonathan Bennett. The petition for a hearing mentioned Charity died in Highland Township. Interestingly, it also mentions a sister who may have lived in Michigan, but had returned to New York, but the sister’s full name was illegible. Only having mentioned half-brothers in her will supports the notion she had not married and did not have children to consider in her will. The value of her real and personal estate was $4,500. Using an inflation calculator, this would be approximately $163,000 in the year 2022. She was an unmarried woman of some means which was unusual at that time.

There is no direct evidence that Charity was in the Michigan Territory at the time she purchased her land in Wayne County (Romulus Township) in 1835, but there is a high probability that she was. First, as already mentioned, her land patent states she was from Wayne County Michigan Territory which sometimes indicated the person was already in the territory at the time of purchase. There is definitive evidence that Charity’s half-brother Jonathan Bennett was in Romulus, Wayne County, Michigan in 1836. The death certificate of Jonathan's son, Levi Miller Bennett, indicates he was born in Romulus, Michigan in 1836 placing the family and possibly Charity there at that time. Jonathan was not an original land patent owner of land in Romulus Township, but Charity was. It is plausible Jonathan and his family (and possibly Charity) were living on Charity’s land.

It is assumed Charity sold her land in Romulus, Wayne County, Michigan prior to making her will in 1837 as it is not mentioned in her will. Only her Rose Township land is mentioned and she leaves this land to her half-brothers.

Death Certificate for Levi Miller Bennett (son of J. Bennett) showing Romulus, Michigan as his Birthplace (source)

Charity’s half-brother Albert Bennett was also in Pontiac, Michigan by 1836 as indicated in a dead letter announcement in the Pontiac Courier in 1836 (shown below). Mail would not have been sent to him in Pontiac, Michigan if he was not expected to be in Pontiac. It is unknown as to the reason why his mail had not been picked up. More about Charity’s half-brothers is presented further along in this essay.

Pontiac Courier, July 4, 1836 (source)

In Search of Charity’s Mother

After discovering Charity’s half-brothers, a search began to try to find the name of the mother they shared. Only two records were found which mentioned their mother’s name was Mary Lockwood. One document was a New York Family Group Sheet Project for the George “Joost” Bennett family (George Joost Bennett was Mary Lockwood’s second husband) and father of Charity’s half-brothers Albert and Jonathan Bennett. The other document was a Michigan Family Group Sheet Project for Albert Bennett. Both are shown below.

Husband: George "Joost" BENNET

Birthdate: bpt 11 Dec 1754 ?

Birthplace: Brooklyn, NY

Death date: 4 Sep 1828 ?

Place of death: Parma, Monroe Co, NY ?

Burial: unknown

Father: Wynant BENNET

Mother: Geertje (Gertrude) EMANS

Marriage date: abt 1787

Marriage place: Steuben Co, New York

Wife: Mary LOCKWOOD Miller

Birthdate: unknown

Birthplace: Steuben Co, NY ?

Death date: 30 Jan 1810

Place of death: Fairfield Co, CT

Burial: unknown

Father: unknown

Mother: unknown


Child No. 1: Albert

Sex: M

Birthdate: 22 Aug 1789

Birthplace: Chatham, NY

Death date: 19 Sept 1864

Place of death: Rose Twp, MI

Burial: Rose Twp, MI (Beebe Cemetery)

Marriage date: 1813

Marriage place: Sand Lake, NY

Spouse's name: Rachel WARNER

Child No. 2: Jonathan

Sex: M

Birthdate: unknown

Birthplace: unknown

Death date: 1850

Place of death: Rose Twp, MI

Burial: Rose Twp, MI

Marriage date: unknown

Marriage place: unknown

Spouse's name: unknown

Other possible children who may have died young: Phebe, William


* Mary's children by Lewis MILLER are: Daniel, David, Gilbert, Charity, Sarah and Anna.

* Jonathan's death from guardianship papers.

* This information is from Dorothy Bennett Inderkum (Bennett genealogist) and the genealogy records on file at the Connecticut Historical Society collected by Edna Minor Rogers.


Notes at the bottom of this New York Family Group Sheet Project state that Mary Lockwood’s previous husband’s name was Lewis Miller and her children with him were: Daniel, David, Gilbert, Charity, Sarah, and Anna. It also states this information was provided by a Bennett genealogist which gives this document some level of validity.

Every name configuration was used to search for Charity Miller’s mother. Mary Lockwood, as cited on the Family Group Sheet Projects, was searched for as well as her married names of Mary Miller (when married to Lewis Miller) and Mary Bennett (when married to George Bennett). Other more open-ended searches using the listed death date of 1810 as provided on one of the documents along with various combinations of potential logical birth dates* and death locations were unsuccessful. It was presumed Lockwood was Mary’s maiden name, but when searching the possibility of her name being another married name from having been widowed was also considered. No records for a woman with any of these names with a plausible age range were found. The children listed as hers with Lewis Miller were all researched and records for them were not found. Due to the lack of information, Mary Lockwood’s family blood-line was not able to be confirmed, but may be explored in more depth in a future essay.

*Assuming Mary Lockwood had several children prior to having Charity in 1785 as suggested in one of the Family Group Sheet Projects and then having had her last child Jonathan Bennett about 1794, a logical birth date range for Mary would be between 1759-1765 or 1762 give or take 3 years.

As with Charity Miller and her mother Mary Lockwood, few records were found for Charity Miller’s father Lewis Miller. Results for what was found are shown and summarized below. Conversely, there were a number of George Bennetts around the correct age in a variety of plausible locations at the same time making it difficult to discern which one was the correct George “Joost” Bennett. This subsequently produced a similar outcome of not finding out much information about him.

Charity Miller’s Father - Lewis Miller

A New York City Probate Court Record for Lewis Miller, shown below, is believed to be for the father of Charity Miller. This document indicates Lewis Miller did not leave a will. His estate was administered by Philip Leak (Leek) of Bedford, Westchester County, New York, who was a creditor of Lewis Miller, possibly suggesting some financial difficulties. Several New York Court of Chancery records showed many people were in debt to Philip Leak.

New York City Probate Court Record for Lewis Miller

Lewis Miller was found to be related to Philip Leak (1741-1786) by marriage. Philip Leak was married to Eleanor Miller who was a cousin to Lewis Miller. Eleanor’s father Abraham Miller was the brother of Lewis’s father, Daniel Miller. The confirmed relationship between Philip Leak and Lewis Miller as well as the location mentioned in the document (“…..late of Dutchess County”) matched other records placing relatives of Charity Miller in this area contributing to the high likelihood this was the correct Lewis Miller.

Charity Miller’s Grandfather - Daniel Miller (1712-1783)

Below is believed to be the will of Daniel Miller (1712-1783), grandfather of Charity Miller. The will mentions his son Lewis Miller (Charity Miller’s father), a son Daniel, a daughter Anna, and his wife Charity (possibly suggesting Charity Miller was named after her grandmother). Daniel Miller’s will states the family had been formally living in Bedford and then living in North Castle, New York. These locations are consistent with where other confirmed Miller relatives had lived.

Will of Daniel Miller (source)

Partially Transcribed Will of Daniel Miller from Abstracts of Wills Collections of the New York Historical Society (source)

The following documents list a family group for Charity Miller’s grandfather’s parents and siblings. Grandfather Daniel Miller’s mother Hannah Jones was the daughter of Joseph Jones and Rebecca Drake. It is not known if Rebecca Drake was related to the well known Pontiac attorney Morgan L. Drake with whom Charity was acquainted. Though there is some conflicting information about Hannah Jones Miller’s death date, it appears the mother of Charity’s grandfather may have died at the age of 32 in the same year as Charity Miller’s grandfather’s birth in 1712. Perhaps she died in childbirth or from complications from childbirth.

1710 Census for Bedford, Westchester County, New York - Miller Family Group (source)

RootsWeb Family Tree Children of Hannah Jones and David Miller (source)

Records were incomplete and somewhat contradictory for Daniel Miller’s (1712-1783) wife Charity. Several family trees on Ancestry listed her as being Charity Weeks (abt.1712-abt.1761). However, some family trees showed Charity Weeks being married to John Carpenter and others showed her being married to Daniel Miller (1712). No sources for this information were listed making it impossible to be corroborated. It is unclear if there was more than one Charity Weeks around the same time period or if Charity Weeks was married twice or some other type of error occurred in the family trees.

Miller and Lockwood Marriages

Charity Miller’s blood-relationship to the Lockwood family was assumed due to her mother’s name, but to which Lockwood line was not able to be confirmed due to incomplete records. However, it was discovered and confirmed Charity Miller was related to two different Lockwood family lines by way of the marriages of her uncle Daniel Miller (1754-1832) and cousin Daniel Miller (1790-1868).

Charity Miller’s Uncle Daniel Miller (1754-1832)

Charity’s uncle Daniel Miller (her father’s brother) married into one of the Lockwood family lines.

Daniel Miller (1754-1832) married Mercy Lockwood (1777-1840), daughter of Moses Lockwood (1746-1789) of Poundridge, Westchester County, New York. This Lockwood family line will be referred to as the Moses Lockwood family line in this essay.

Charity Miller’s Cousin Daniel Miller (1790-1868)

Charity Miller’s cousin Daniel Miller (1790-1868), son of her uncle Daniel Miller (1754-1832) and Mercy Lockwood Miller (1777-1840), married into another family line of Lockwoods when he married Elizabeth “Betsey” Lockwood (1791-1861). Elizabeth “Betsey” Lockwood (1791-1861) was the daughter of Hezekiah Jr. Lockwood (1733-1802) of Poundridge, Westchester County, New York. Elizabeth “Betsey” Lockwood was sister to Major Lockwood (abt.1774-1833). This Lockwood family line will be referred to as the Hezekiah (abt.1733)/Major Lockwood (abt.1774) family line in this essay.

Chart for Lockwood-Miller Marriage

The chart below shows these two Lockwood-Miller Family Connections via marriage. The “Moses Lockwood Family Line” into which Uncle Daniel Miller (1754-1832) married is on the left side of the chart and the “Hezekiah/Major Lockwood Family Line” into which Cousin Daniel Miller (1790-1868) married is on the right side of the chart. The chart begins with an early common ancestor (Robert Lockwood) who first came from England to Watertown, Massachusetts. Each subsequent box represents the next generation. When there is more than one person listed in a box, this indicates they are siblings in the same generation. There are often large “generational” age differences between siblings due to the common practice of having large families starting very young and then having children well into their 40s. Color coding is used to highlight certain names and notes.

Migrations of Miller and Lockwood Family Members

Migration: Millers and Lockwoods Connections to Westchester County, New York

The marriages connecting the Miller family to two Lockwood family lines spanned two generations and began in the town of Poundridge, Westchester County, New York. Both Millers and Lockwoods were living in or near the Poundridge area in the late 1700s.

Map of Westchester County, New York (source)

The town of Poundridge is located in the far eastern side of the northern part of Westchester County about two miles north of the Connecticut border where many Lockwoods had migrated to after arriving in Watertown, Massachusetts from England. After migrating from Massachusetts to Connecticut, some of the Lockwoods migrated into southeastern New York. The Lockwoods were among the earliest settlers to Poundridge, New York and over time the Lockwood family dominated Poundridge politics and government until the mid-1800s. Some Miller family members also lived in Poundridge.

In the 1790 census for Poundridge, Westchester County, New York, Charity’s “uncle” Daniel Miller and his father-in-law Moses Lockwood were listed as living there. Hezekiah Lockwood, likely the Hezekiah of the Lockwood line into which Cousin Daniel Miller eventually married, was also listed on the 1790 census as living in Poundridge. “Uncle” Daniel’s son Daniel Miller (Charity’s cousin) was born in Poundridge in 1790.

1790 Census for Poundridge, Westchester County, New York (source)

The town center of Bedford, where many Miller family members lived, was located 4 miles west of Pound Ridge. Charity’s great uncle Abraham Miller, brother of her grandfather Daniel Miller, as well as her father’s cousin and creditor Philip Leak were originally from Bedford. At the time of his death, the will of Charity’s grandfather Daniel Miller indicated he was living in North Castle and was “formerly of Bedford”. The town of North Castle is located 7 miles south of Bedford in Westchester County.

Map of Westchester County, New York (source)

Towns where Lockwoods and Millers Lived Circled in Blue

Migration: Late 1700s to early 1800 in Rensselaer County, New York

After the Millers married into Lockwood family lines in Westchester County, some of the family members migrated to Rensselaer County. Major Lockwood (abt.1774), the patriarch of the Lockwood family who Charity Miller’s cousin Daniel (1790-1868) married into had connections to both Putnam and Rensselaer Counties in the late 1700s. Major Lockwood (abt.1774) married Martha Wheeler in Putnam County in 1797 and then later appears to have lived in Rensselaer County for a while. A number of Major Lockwood’s children were born in Rensselaer County. Major’s son Daniel Major Lockwood is listed as having been born in Sand Lake, Rensselaer County, in 1801. Major’s father Hezekiah Lockwood, formerly of Poundridge, died in Rensselaer, Rensselaer County in 1802. Major Lockwood and his presumed brother Justice Lockwood were found on a tax assessment list in Sand Lake, Rensselaer County in 1803. Major’s grandson Stillman D. Lockwood (son of Theodorus W. Lockwood) was born in Rensselaer County in 1821. Charity Miller’s half-brother Albert Bennett can also be placed in Rensselaer County as he had children born in Sand Lake in 1813 and 1815.

Map of Rensselaer County (source)

It should be noted that in the early 1800s, a number of larger townships were divided into several smaller towns and counties were reconfigured in Rensselaer County area creating some uncertainty as to exact placement of some family members. For example, some records placed Charity Miller’s family members in Sand Lake, Rensselaer County before the time it would have had that name, but the general proximity of where the families were located is not in question.

Migration: Early 1800s - Millers and Lockwoods in Parma, Monroe County, New York

By the early 1800s, some of the Miller, Bennett, and Lockwood family members who were living in Rensselaer County migrated to Parma, Monroe County, New York located in the western part of the state.

Counties in New York State showing Migrations (source)

The Lockwood family line into which Charity’s cousin Daniel Miller (1790-1868) married can be placed in Parma in the early 1800s. The patriarch of this family line, Major Lockwood (abt.1774-1833), was in Parma between the years of 1811 and 1833. Major’s sons Martin Lockwood (1811), Major Ferris Lockwood (1813) and Charles D. Lockwood (1821) were all born in Parma. Major’s son Theodorus Lockwood died in Parma in 1829. Major died there in 1833, likely just before the family headed to Michigan. Major’s wife Martha came to Michigan as she is buried in West Highland Cemetery.

Charity’s half-brother Albert can be placed in Parma in 1827 with the birth of his son Lewis N. Bennett as indicated in the record copied in below.

Landmarks of Orleans County, New York (source)

Charity’s step-father George Bennett can also be placed in Parma in the late 1820s. In the History of Monroe County, New York 1788-1877, George Bennett is listed as a “Patron for Parma” having settled and farmed in North Parma 1826, indicating his presence in this area. George Bennett died in Parma about 1828.

History of Monroe County New York 1788-1877 by Everts, Ensign, & Everts (source)

At the time of Charity Miller’s will, prepared in 1837 after she was already in Michigan, it stated she was “formerly of Parma in the county of Monroe in the state of New York”. It is believed Charity came to Michigan sometime in the early to mid 1830s. It would be plausible for Charity to have been living with her step-father in Parma prior to his death, placing them both in this area and corroborating what is written in Charity’s will.

Lastly, Charity’s half-brother Jonathan Bennett and his family can also be placed in Parma as they were listed in the 1830 census as living in Parma, also placing this family in this area.

1830 Census for Parma, Monroe County, New York (source)

Migration: Early to Mid 1830s - Highland and Rose Townships, Oakland County, Michigan

The pattern of these families migrating to the same location continued into the “next” generation when the children of the Major Lockwood family line, Charity Miller, and her half-brothers who were living in Parma, Monroe County, New York, migrated to the Michigan Territory. It was Charity’s cousin Daniel Miller (1790-1868) who married into the Lockwood family line that migrated to Highland and Rose Townships in Oakland County, Michigan.

The trip of Daniel Major Lockwood, one of Major Lockwood’s sons, from New York to Michigan is described in a biographical sketch below. Likely other family members had a similar travel experience.

All The City of Grand Rapids and Kent County, Michigan: Biographical Sketches for Major D. Lockwood (source)

Once in Highland and Rose Townships, Oakland County, Michigan, the Lockwoods and Bennetts lived near each other as indicated on the 1840 census records and a historic map (both shown below). The majority of the Lockwoods who lived in Highland and Rose Townships were the sons of Major Lockwood (abt.1774). Major Lockwood’s sons included: S.A. (Stephen Angevine) Lockwood (1815-1882), D. M. (Daniel Major) Lockwood (1801-1847), Martin [J.] Lockwood (abt.1808-1854), Joseph [G.] Lockwood (1802-1862), and Major F. Lockwood (1813-1864).

1840 Highland Township Census List of Lockwood Families (source)

The other likely relatives listed on this census record living nearby to Major’s (abt.1774) sons were Lewis Lockwood (1790-1881) and Major Lockwood (1806-1880). Information as to how Lewis Lockwood was related was not found though he was in Sand Lake, Rensselaer County in 1820 around the same time as some Lockwood family members suggesting he may be related. Major Lockwood (1806-1880) is believed to be the son of Justus Lockwood (1769-1848), though records are conflicting on this. It would be plausible for Major’s (1806) father to be Justus as Justus was a brother to Major Lockwood (abt.1774-1833), a close familial connection to this Lockwood family line. Major Lockwood (1806-1880) was an original land patent owner of land in nearby Milford Township, though it does not appear he ever settled there.

Interestingly, Major Lockwood’s (1806) land patent states he was from Washtenaw County, Michigan indicating he may have already been in the area at the time of his Milford land purchase in 1837. The birth of a couple of his sons place Major (1806) in Michigan for a short time, however, at some point he returned to New York as he died in Cattaraugus County. Major Lockwood’s (1806) sons Daniel (1837), Joseph (1840) and Major Henry (1840) were born in Michigan. His daughter Sarah (1843) was born in Cattaraugus County, New York indicating he had returned to New York by this time. Major (1806) was within an approximate age range on the 1840 census records making it plausible this is the correct person. Perhaps Major (1806) was living in Highland for the 1840 census prior to returning to New York.

These multiple migrations to the same destination and proximity of the Lockwood, Miller, and Bennett families supports a close familial bond, perhaps one that was closer than being related only by marriage.

1857 Historic Maps for Rose (top map) and Highland (bottom map) Townships

showing proximity of Lockwood and Bennett Land (circled in Blue)

The Migration Continued - Kent County Michigan

Charity Miller, her half-brother Albert Bennett, and many of her Lockwood family members' migrations stopped in Highland Township. However, some family members continued their migration west to Kent County Michigan. Major D. Lockwood, grandson to Major Lockwood (abt.1774) and Hezekiah Lockwood (1814-1888), nephew to Major Lockwood (abt.1774) are two relatives who continued the migratory pattern to Kent County Michigan.

Perhaps a coincidence, but Major D. Lockwood whose father was born in Sand Lake, New York had a son buried in Sand Lake, Kent County, Michigan. One cannot help but wonder if Sand Lake was a name brought from New York to Michigan.

More about Charity Miller’s Half-Brothers - Albert and Jonathan Bennett

Charity Miller’s Half-brother - Albert Bennett (1789-1864)

Records are conflicting about the location of Albert Bennett’s birth in 1789. One source lists his birth location as Chatham, Columbia County, New York and another lists Sand Lake, Rensselaer County, New York. These counties are adjacent to each other with Chatham being on the border of Rensselaer County about 24 miles south of Sand Lake. In any case, Albert’s birth was likely somewhere in this area and may have taken place in an area where county boundaries or town names had changed, but it places the family in this general area. Albert was married in Sand Lake, Rensselaer County, New York in 1813 and records indicate his first children were born in Sand Lake in 1813 and 1815. After this time, it appears Albert moved around to Virginia, Ohio, and then back to New York. In 1827 Albert’s son Lewis N. Bennett was born in Parma, New York and then two more children were born in 1829 and 1831 in Gaines, Orleans County, New York, located about 20 miles west of Parma. After this time, Albert migrated to Michigan where he had more children. One account in Landmarks of Orleans County, New York (shown below), states one of Albert’s daughters was born in [Holly] Michigan in 1833, however, there were a few issues with this account and this information was not able to be verified by other sources. However, after this child, other children appear to have been born in Michigan.

Landmarks of Orleans County, New York Entry for Albert L. Bennett -Charity Miller’s nephew (source)

In 1837, Albert Bennett was involved with one of the early founding meetings for the Michigan Antislavery Society in Pontiac. Before the Michigan Territory became a state in 1837, anti-slavery organizations in the north began to promote the abolitionist cause. The first founding meeting of the Antislavery Society in Michigan was held in Ann Arbor in 1836, after which several more antislavery groups began to organize, including in Pontiac.

By the time the Michigan Territory became a state in January, 1837 its constitution included a ban on slavery. On February 5, 1837, there was a founding meeting for one of the Michigan Anti-slavery Society groups in Oakland County. The meeting took place in Pontiac. In attendance at this meeting was Albert Bennett, the half-brother of Charity Miller.

An incident, described as a “riot”, occurred at this founding meeting. It was written about in a newspaper article which is shown below. The newspaper article summarized what happened at the meeting and also served as a testimonial letter from those in attendance that it was not the abolitionists who caused the “riot”, but was caused by someone who did not agree with the antislavery movement. Albert Bennett was one of the signatories on this letter.

Pontiac Courier, 13 February 13, 1837 (source)

The founding meeting described in this article is also referenced in the book: The Underground Railroad in Michigan (2010). Carol E. Mull. McFarland & Company, Inc. This book is considered to be an authority on the Underground Railroad in Michigan.

Another newspaper article about the same meeting came out a few months later and is shown below. It provides a few more details about the meeting. The same group of signatories from the earlier article were included in this article as well as what appears to be a rebuttal after the article.

Pontiac Courier, 30 October 30, 1837 (source)

Abolition and the Republican Party

The abolitionist movement was an organized effort to end the practice of slaverty in the United States. The movement started around 1830 in states like New York and Massachusetts and quickly spread to other Northern states. In the mid 1830s, several anti-slavery societies formed in Michigan. Also around this time, the formation of a new political party began to emerge. The Republican Party opposed the extension of slavery into Western territories and was in lock-step with the abolitionists.

It appears some of the same men who were involved with the founding meeting for the Oakland County Anti-slavery Society in Pontiac in February, 1837, including Albert Bennett, became involved in county level Republican politics as shown in the newspaper article copied in below.

Pontiac Courier, 24 April 24, 1837 (source)

Bennetts and Slaves

The origins of Albert Bennett’s antislavery sentiments are not documented, but it is plausible they developed from personal experience. The 1790 Census for Brooklyn, New York City lists Albert Bennett’s father George Bennett as having 4 slaves and well as his uncle Jacob Bennett having 17 slaves and uncle Wynant Bennett having 2 slaves.

The Dutch were some of the earliest arrivals to the New World. One village founded by the Dutch was named Breuckelen. It was named after a town in the Netherlands and it eventually became known as Brooklyn, a borough of New York City in Kings County. The father of Albert and Jonathan Bennett was Dutch and was living in Brooklyn in 1790.

Along with the arrival of the Dutch came the slave trade as the Dutch West India Company engaged in the importation of slaves. By the 1790 census, slavery had a large presence in Brooklyn (Kings County, New York) where almost 33% of the population were enslaved people. Slavery flourished in the fertile farmlands. New York had the largest number of enslaved people and was the second-to-last state to make slavery illegal.

Albert Bennett (1789-1864) was listed as living and farming in Rose Township in the 1840, 1850, and 1860 census records. He was living with his wife Rachel Warner Bennett (1796-1881) and their younger children. Living nearby was Charity’s nephew George W. Bennett (Albert’s son) as well as Martin Lockwood, a cousin.

1850 Rose Township Census Showing Albert Bennett, George W. Bennett, Martin Lockwood and Families living near each other (source)

It appears that after moving to Rose Township, Albert Bennett remained active in Oakland County politics as he and his son George Washington Bennett were on a county executive committee as indicated in the newspaper announcement copied below.

Pontiac Gazette, 25 September 25, 1852 (source)

As Charity Miller’s only surviving half-brother at the time of her death, Albert Bennett inherited some of her land in section 21 (her former land is outlined in blue on the map below). Albert appears to have sold some of this land as his son Willard Bennett is shown owning only 80 of his aunt’s original acreage on the 1857 historic map. Willard appears to have purchased additional acreage to the north of this land in section 16 (blue arrow points to the additional land).

Albert died in 1864. He and his wife Rachel are buried in Beebe Cemetery in Rose Township.

1857 Historic Map - Section 16 & 21

Charity Miller’s Half-brother - Jonathan Bennett (1794-1850)

A location for the birth of Charity’s other half brother Jonathan Bennett in 1794 was not able to be verified. After having a son born in Romulus, Wayne County, Michigan in 1836, by 1837, Charity Miller’s other half-brother Jonathan Bennett (abt.1794-1850) was likely living on land in section 21 owned by his half-sister. Her land was not far from what became Buckhorn Village and was very near where the prominent and influential Wendell family lived. Jonathan’s involvement in Rose Township’s first government in 1837 places him in the township. Jonathan had been elected as a Justice of the Peace and was an elections inspector. On the 1840 census record, David Gage’s name is listed near Johnathan’s name indicating they were living in close proximity near Buchhorn Village. David Gage was the tavern owner who held the first meeting for the first government of Rose Township and also became the township’s first path-master. Likely Jonathan was in attendance at this meeting. Others living near Jonathan on the 1840 census (Comfort Ware, Anson Beebe, David Gage, Asa Reynolds) confirmed his presence in or nearby to section 21 (location of his half-sister’s land).

By the time of the 1840 census, both of Charity Miller’s half-brothers, Albert and Jonathan Bennett, were found living in Rose Township with their families. It is not known where Charity was living at this time, but it does not appear to be with her half-brothers as the census record did not list a woman Charity’s age as living with either of them, unless she was missed in the census.

1840 Census Records for Rose Township showing Albert and Jonathan (John) Bennett (source)

By 1850, the Jonathan Bennett family had moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where Jonathan was working as a teamster. Living with them was a relative from his wife’s side of the family who was working in the blacksmithing industry. It is not known why the family moved to Milwaukee, but possibly it was for economic opportunity. At that time Milwaukee rivaled Chicago in size as it was a center of foundry, machinery, and metal-working industries. According to family history Jonathan, his wife, and their son Theodore, all died there in September of 1850. No cause of death was mentioned, though likely they died from a cholera epidemic that swept through Wisconsin (and was centered in Milwaukee) around that time. Following their deaths, the oldest son John along with the other children returned to live in Rose Township.

1850 Census showing Johathan Bennett and Family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Synopsis of Charity Miller’s Life Story

Charity Miller’s story was difficult to piece together and corroborate because of limited available information about her and her closest relatives. Based on the few documents found for Charity Miller and working through contradictory information, a small part of her life story emerges.

The Miller family appears to have suffered the loss of the patriarchs of the family in close succession. Charity’s widowed grandfather Daniel Miller (1712-1783) died in 1783 followed by the death of her aunt Anna Miller and father Lewis Miller in 1784. Charity’s mother would have been pregnant with her at the time of her father’s death. With the Miller patriarchs gone and before Charity’s mother married for the second time to George Joost Bennett (a couple of years later in 1787), the family may have lived with relatives on the mother’s Lockwood side of the family.

Charity was four years old when her half-brother Albert Bennett was born in 1789 and age nine when her half-brother Jonathan Bennett was born in 1794. George Joost Bennett, her step-father, would have been the only father she knew. Assuming the stated death date of 1810 is accurate for their mother Mary Lockwood, Charity was 25 years old when her mother died. Her half-brother Albert would have been 21 years old and half-brother Jonathan would have been 16 years old at this time. With Charity being unmarried, she may have taken on the responsibility for Jonathan until he reached adult age. Rather than marry, perhaps she had taken on the role of governess for her younger half-brothers and caretaker for their father as he does not appear to have remarried. This, in part, could explain the closeness and love she felt for her half-brothers as evidenced in her will in words written about them “for whom I have much love”. Their father George Bennett does not appear to have remarried, but had migrated with his children to Parma, Monroe County New York where he died in 1828. Soon after the death of George Bennett, Charity and her half-brothers made their way to the Michigan Territory sometime in the early to mid 1830s.

Charity was 50 years old in 1835 when she purchased land in her own name in Romulus Township, Wayne County, Michigan. The patent listed her as being from Wayne County, suggesting she may have already been in Michigan by this time. It is unclear if she ever lived on any of her land, but at least one of her half-brothers did. By 1836, her half-brother Jonathan was in Romulus, Wayne County where a son was born. At the time Charity made her will in 1837 and had purchased land in Rose Township, she was living in Pontiac. It is unknown why she made her will at this time as she lived another 15 years.

In 1840, both of Charity’s half-brothers were living in Rose Township. Albert Bennett lived in Rose Township until he died in 1864. Jonathan Bennett left Michigan for Wisconsin and died there in 1850. It is unknown where Charity lived during these years, but at the end of her life in 1852 she was living in Highland Township as mentioned in her probate documents. Since it is known Charity was for sure related to the Highland Lockwoods by way of marriage, perhaps she was living with one of these Lockwoods at the end of her life, though this could not be verified. Her will reads “I desire after my death to be decently interred after the manner of Christians” which implies she would have wanted a burial of some type, but no burial records were found for her and it is unknown as to where she is buried. Likely, she is buried in Highland along with many of her Lockwood family members.


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