14 February 2013

Daniel C. Fenn-Ancestor Biography

Do you have an ancestor you would love to have more information on?  Daniel C. Fenn is one of mine.  I hesitate to write this ancestor biography because I have so few primary sources for him, but writing helps me see where my research is weak and what I am missing.  He has been one tough ancestor to research.  I have been collaborating with another Fenn researcher over the years with little success on both our parts.

The Genealogical Register of the Early Families of Shoreham, Vermont states that Daniel C. Fenn was born in 1823.  This year agrees with the United States Census records.  On 12 September 1850, Daniel is listed as age 27; 21 June 1860, he is 36; and on 30 July 1870, Daniel is 46.  If the census ages are accurate, it is possible that Daniel C. Fenn was born between 31 July 1823 and 12 September 1823 in Vermont.

Daniel C. Fenn is the son of Daniel Fenn and Huldah Rowley.  Daniel Fenn, the father, is listed in the 1820 and 1830 United States Census for Shoreham, Addison, Vermont.  It is possible that Daniel C. Fenn was born there, but further research is needed.  Daniel C. was the eighth of nine children born to his parents:  Orpah, Tully, Betsy, Aminda, Orlo, Daniel C., Abel, and two other females.

Daniel C. Fenn moved to the Michigan Territory with his family in the Spring of 1833, at the age of nine.  Daniel C. Fenn's brother, Orlo H. Fenn, moved to the Michigan Territory the previous year via the Erie Canal.  Did Daniel and Huldah and family travel via the Erie Canal?

The Michigan Territory was a wilderness at that time, land would have needed to be cleared before homes could be built.  The family settled in what was known at the time as the Vermont Colony, which is Sylvan Township, Washtenaw County, Michigan today.  A stone in Vermont Cemetery, Wastenaw County, Michigan commemorates these early settlers.  The Daniel Fenn listed on the stone is Daniel C. Fenn's father.  (Note:  Orlo H. Fenn (Daniel C.'s brother), Wm. Davis, and Truman Lawrence arrived in 1832, the rest in 1833)

Daniel C. Fenn, age 21, married Jane E. Poor, age 16, on 4 March 1846 in Washtenaw County, Michigan.  Daniel and Jane Fenn had one daughter, Estelle.  Jane E. Poor was the daughter of Samuel Poor and Eleanor Begole Poor.  Jane E. Fenn died shortly after the birth of her daughter at the age of eighteen, in 1848.

Source:  "Washtenaw Marriage Certificates, v. 1, 1835-1851," Marriage Record, , Family Search (www.familysearch.org : accessed 9 August 2011), Image 167 of 313


This certifies that Daniel C. Fenn aged twenty two

years of Sylvan County of Washtenaw, in the state
of Michigan and Jane E. Poor aged sixteen years
of the town of Sylvan County and State aforesaid
were joined together in Holy Matrimony on this
4th day of March A.D. 1846 by me.

Horace A. Smith 
Justice of the Peace

In presence of Samuel D. Breed 
Martha J. Smith

Daniel C. Fenn married Elizabeth Ann Poor, Jane's older sister, sometime between April 1848 and 19 November 1850, when their first son, Zalton, was born.  I have not been able to find a marriage record for Daniel C. and Elizabeth Poor Fenn.  Daniel C. and Elizabeth were the parents of five children:  Zalton M, Tully Daniel, Osphie, George and Hattie Lodema Fenn, of Hattie's Bible fame.  

Souce:  1850 U.S. Census, population schedule, Sylvan, Washtenaw, Michigan, p294B, dwelling 1764, Daniel C. Fenn Head of Household; digital images, ancestry.com (: accessed 11 October 2011); Original data: Seventh Census of the United States, 1850; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, 1009 rolls); Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Daniel C., Elizabeth A., and Estella were living in Sylvan Township, Washtenaw, Michigan in 1850.  Daniel was working as a carpenter.  His real estate was valued at $350, which was low compared to his neighbors.

Daniel C. left the carpenter trade sometime before 1860.  He was working as a farmer and can be found in the 1860 Non Population Schedule in Sharon Township, Washtenaw, Michigan.  He had 50 acres of improved land; 50 acres of unimproved land with a cash value of his farm being $2000.  Daniel C. had 1 horse, 2 milk cows, 2 working oxen, 10 sheep, and 5 swine, for a value of $350.  Additionally, he had 180 bushels of wheat, 175 bushels of Indian corn and 60 bushels of oats.  He did not have any rye, rice, tobacco, cotton, or wool.

Daniel C. and Elizabeth moved their family to the next county west, Jackson, prior to 1870.  He was no longer farming, but was working as a traveling agent.  The 1871 Jackson, Michigan City Directory lists Daniel C. as living at 54 First St., Jackson, Michigan.  He is still working as a traveling agent.

Definitive proof as to the date of Daniel's death has not been found.  Carol, a Fenn researcher, sent to Michigan Vital Records, for a death certificate and they were unable to locate one.  I have researched at Jackson Public Library and Jackson Genealogical Society Library to no avail.  I searched Jackson newspapers for the time period, but could not find any record of death.  The only date I have for Daniel C. Fenn's death is February, 1873.  This date is recorded in his daughter's, Hattie Fenn Glover, Bible.  I have seen a death date of 1 May 1862, but this is inaccurate as Daniel C. is in the 1870 Census record.  His wife, Elizabeth, is listed as widowed in the 1880 Census.

Daniel's parents, Daniel and Huldah Fenn, his first wife, Jane, and brother, Orlo are buried in Vermont Cemetery, Sylvan Township, Washtenaw, Michigan, but there is no record of Daniel C. being buried there.  At this time his burial is unknown.

Even though I have some gaps in my research, I know where I need to look next.  I would like to explore land records for Washtenaw and Jackson county, I would like to look for other 1870's city directories, and I would like to find a probate record for Daniel C. Fenn.  I would like to see what records are available for Shoreham, Addison, Vermont in the 1820's, too.

The above photo is believed to be Daniel C. Fenn.  I received it from Carol, a Fenn researcher.  We don't have proof positive it is Daniel, but it was on the same page as his second wife, Elizabeth Poor Fenn.

If you are a Fenn researcher, please contact me, you never know what we can figure out together.


  1. I'm researching Northrop, Ives, Fenn and more.

    My gg uncle William F Northrop had Fenn as a middlename. Found a number of connections with Washington CT. There was a Daniel Fenn in Washington. Believe he may have been the Rev War veteran.



    same without the rop

  2. I'm researching Northrop, Ives, Fenn and more.

    My gg uncle William F Northrop had Fenn as a middlename. Found a number of connections with Washington CT. There was a Daniel Fenn in Washington. Believe he may have been the Rev War veteran.



    same without the rop