16 April 2013

Ancestor Biography: Elizabeth Poor Fenn

Elizabeth Poor Fenn "endured herself to her neighbors by her earnest Christian character" as her obituary states.  Religion was a large part of her sixty seven years.  She was a member of the Congregational Church for over 50 years.

Elizabeth's christian life began on 18 October 1826 in New York, United States, possibly Steuben County.  She was the oldest daughter born to Samuel B. Poor and Eleanor Begole.  She grew up with ten brothers and sisters:  Jane, George B., Hannah, Samuel, William, David M., Evan J., Matilda, Harlan and Ellinor.

Elizabeth's family migrated to the Washtenaw County, Michigan area by 1840.  Did they travel by the Erie Canal or by wagon and horses?  Either way, travelling with her young siblings had to be a challenge.  I don't know for sure, but I bet prayer was needed to make the long trip to a new home.  They lived an agricultural life in the early years of Michigan statehood, settling in the Sylvan Township area of Washtenaw county.

The role of religion in her life was evident by 1846, based on the Parting Hymn that I found in her daughter Hattie's Bible.  The fact that the handwritten verses were saved all these years makes it important.

Elizabeth would need to rely on her faith to get through the year 1848.  First, her sister, Jane E. died in April of 1848 and less than four weeks later, her mother, Eleanor Begole Poor died.  It is during this time that Elizabeth marries.  Elizabeth Ann Poor married her sister's(Jane), husband, Daniel C. Fenn.  She became an instant mother to Daniel and Jane's infant daughter, Estelle.  

Daniel, Elizabeth, and Estelle spent their early time together in Sylvan Township, Washtenaw, Michigan.  It is here that Daniel and Elizabeth started their own family.  Zalton M. Fenn was born in 1850.  He would be joined by three other siblings who lived to adult:  Tully Daniel, born 1859, George 1860 and Hattie in 1864.

Elizabeth would be required to move at least three times in the next thirty years.  1860 finds Elizabeth living in Sharon Township, Washtenaw, Michigan.  The 1870 United States Census has Elizabeth living in Jackson, Jackson, Michigan, with Daniel, Zalton, Tully, George, Hattie and Elizabeth's sister, Ellen (Ellinor).

Source:  1870 U.S. Census, , population schedule, Ward 2, p170A, dwelling 110, Elizabeth Fenn; digital images, ancestry.com (: accessed 27 October 2011); Original data: 1870. United States. Ninth Census of the United States, 1870. Washington, D.C. National Archives and Records Administration. M593, RG29, 1,761 rolls.

Elizabeth's husband, Daniel C. Fenn, died in February 1873 and Elizabeth eventually moves to Chelsea, Washtenaw, Michigan.  Elizabeth spends her last few years of her life in Hersey, Osceola, Michigan, where her son, George, lived. 

Elizabeth's life ends on 20 Sep 1894 in Hersey, Osceola, Michigan.  Her obituary shows the christian life that she led.  

Source:  Glover, Hattie L. "Fenn", Elizabeth Fenn obituary. In The Holy Bible: with Revised New Testament. Chicago: GW Borland & Co., 1882. Original owned in April 2013 by Brenda Leyndyke, [address for private use], Battle Creek, Michigan.


  1. Hi, I just found your page by searching Fenn Hersey, Michigan. My mom just moved into her family home on U.S 10 in Hersey, Michigan. On an old deed from the courthouse it says Tully Fenn sold the house to brother George Fenn in 1892 for $1,000 and then George B. Fenn and Etta Fenn sold the house to their daughter Mary Brockett Fenn in 1936for $1 after George died in 1935. Mary Brockett Fenn sells the house in 1939 to Joseph E. Simpson. I think Tully and George Fenn are your grandmother Hattie's brothers. I can see from your great great grams obitiuary she might have died in Hersey too either living with George or near by. Do you have any idea how Tully first and then and George came to Hersey, Michigan to own this house on U.S. 10? Address is 14221 W. US 10. My grandma Donna Marie (Decatur) Kushmaul began renting it in 1951 and bought it in 1962. Thanks for your help, please feel free to email at alanejewel@gmail.com.

  2. Dear Alane, I answered your email, but I wanted to thank you for the information on the Fenn home. I have been on US 10 many times and never realized that the home was there. Next time, I will have to pay closer attention.