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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Munsell

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[This information is from Vol. II, pp. 534-538 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

The family name of Munsell is believed to have been derived, according to the original spelling, "Monsall," from a dale in Derbyshire, England, or else signifying a person originally from Mansle in France. An idea also prevails that the name is derived from the French word, "maunche," a sleeve, and on the coat-of-arms appear three sleeves. It is certain that branches of the one family wrote it Maunsell, Mansell, Monsell, Monsall, Munsill, Mansel, Moncil, Munsel and Muncil; despite the variations in orthography, the family history shows that they are of one line alone, originating in Sir Philip de Maunsell who came from Normandy as one of the companions of William the Conqueror, on whom was bestowed the manor of Oxwiche, in Glamorganshire, and his grandson, Sir John Maunsell, was constituted lord chief justice of England in the time of Henry III.

The Munsell Arms, Shield: Argent, a chevron between three maunches, sable. Crest: (1st) on a chapeau gules, turned up ermine, a falcon rising proper; (2nd) a cap of maintenance, enflamed at the top, proper. Mottoes: Quod vult valde vult, and Honorantes me honorabo.

(I) Thomas Munsell was born about 1650, and it is probable that he came from England to New London, Connecticut, about 1680. His name first appears on record there in 1681, and in 1683 he resided on the Great Neck at that place. He wrote his name Munsell, Monsell, Munsel and Muncil. He had a wife named Lydia, and died at the place mentioned, in 1712. Children:

  1. Jacob, born New London, Connecticut, about 1690, see forward.
  2. Elisha, born New London, Connecticut, about 1700.
  3. Mercy.
  4. Deliverance.

(II) Jacob, son of Thomas and Lydia Munsell, was born in New London, Connecticut, about 1690. In 1723 he resided at Windsor, Connecticut, and then moved to the east side of the river. Eight years later he was ferryman between the North, or Scantic, Parish and Windsor, and he petitioned the legislature for a license to keep accomodations and strong drink for travelers. On August 11, 1741, he signed a petition to the Congregational church. He married (first), at New London, Connecticut, in 1713, Sarah, daughter of John and Abigail Calkins. She died about 1716, leaving no children. He married (second), at Windsor, Connecticut, February 15, 1718, Phebe Loomis, born in 1697, daughter of Joseph and Lydia (Drake) Loomis. Children:

  1. Calkins, born Windsor, Connecticut, June 12, 1718; married there, May 19, 1743, Mary Booth; eight children; died May 21, 1758.
  2. Thomas, born April 17, 1720.
  3. Mercy, born February 9, 1721, died young.
  4. Elisha, born Windsor, Connecticut, September 15, 1723; see forward.
  5. Jonathan, born Windsor, Connecticut, October 7, 1725; married there, about 1746, Hannah Pasco; seven children; died August 13, 1787.
  6. Mercy, born February 20, 1728.
  7. Gurdon, born Windsor, Connecticut, April 26, 1730; married there, November 11, 1751, Lucy, daughter of Jonah and Rachel (Brown) Stiles; seven children; died about 1760.
  8. Jacob, born Windsor, Connecticut, April 21, 1732; married (first), January 2, 1751, Sarah Bancroft; nine children; married (second), about 1786, Sybil Ellsworth; no children; died about 1790.
  9. Joseph, born September 28, 1734.
  10. John, born Windsor, Connecticut, September 5, 1736; seven children.
  11. Desire, born Windsor, Connecticut, September 5, 1741; married there, July 22, 1764, Isaac Rockwell; died August 19, 1782.

(III) Elisha, son of Jacob and Phebe (Loomis) Munsell, was born in Windsor, Connecticut, September 15, 1723. On January 6, 1778, he petitioned the general assembly of Connecticut to make an allowance to him because of the loss of his son, Joel, a revolutionary soldier, who was ordered under the command of General Horatio Gates, and while stationed in Albany contracted such a severe case of smallpox that he died November 23, 1777, eighteen days after his arrival home, and his father, aged and with a large family to support, had been put to considerable expense to secure medical attention and the attendance of nurses. Elisha Munsell died November 22, 1803. He married, December 27, 1750, Kezia Taylor, of Windsor, Connecticut, born October 23, 1726, died April 8, 1784. Children:

  1. Hezekiah, born December 7, 1751, died young.
  2. Hezekiah, born Windsor, Connecticut, January 17, 1753; see forward.
  3. Joel, born July 8, 1755, died November 23, 1777.
  4. Miriam, born January 15, 1757, died young.
  5. Naomi, born April 3, 1758, married Jonathan Button.
  6. Bathsheba, born December 6, 1760, died July 10, 1791.
  7. Kezia, born October 17, 1763, died April 9, 1789.
  8. Miriam, born Windsor, Connecticut, January 17, 1767; married there, 1786, James Wolcott; three children.
  9. Ruth; born October 5, 1769, died young.

(IV) Hezekiah, son of Elisha and Kezia (Taylor) Munsell, was born in Windsor, Connecticut, January 17, 1753, baptised by Rev. Timothy Edwards. He was in the revolutionary army much of the time from April, 1775, to November, 1780. He married at Windsor, Connecticut, January 24, 1777, Irene, born July 14, 1755, daughter of Moses and Anna (Stiles) Bissell, and with her resided at East Windsor, Connecticut, on a farm of one acre, purchased from his father, on January 16, 1776, for two pounds ten shillings; died there, April 14, 1844. Children:

  1. Hezekiah, born September 17, 1777; married, September, 1814, Mary Hull; four children; died Hoosic, New York, April 16, 1858.
  2. Irene, born Windsor, Connecticut, February 21, 1779; married, 1797, Martin Green, son of Ashabel and Grace (Grant) Green; seven children; died October 3, 1869.
  3. Joel, born in 1781, died same year.
  4. Joel, born in East Windsor, Connecticut, January 14, 1783; see forward.
  5. Ezra, born Windsor, Connecticut, March 27, 1785; married Chloe, born in 1785, daughter of Daniel Squires; three children.
  6. Timothy, born Windsor, Connecticut, July 1, 1787; married there, in 1812, Abigail, daughter of Elijah Sadd; seven children; died August 12, 1839.
  7. Luke, born East Windsor, Connecticut, June 4, 1790; married, December, 1822, Eliza, born August 13, 1801, daughter of A. Sneed; ten children; died Jeffersonville, Indiana, June 18, 1854.
  8. Elisha, born East Windsor, Connecticut, March 13, 1793; married (first) October 30, 1817, Mary, daughter of Thomas Hurd, of Northfield, Massachusetts, died in 1830, five children; married (second), Swanzey, New Hampshire, September 8, 1834, Lucy C., daughter of Joel and Lydia (Combs) Sibley; six children; died Swanzey, New Hampshire, June 27, 1869.
  9. Kezia, born February 15, 1796.
  10. Laura, born Windsor, Connecticut, April 29, 1798.

(V) Joel, son of Hezekiah and Irene (Bissell) Munsell, was born in East Windsor, Connecticut, January 14, 1783.. He was a plow and wagon-maker. He removed to Northfield, Massachusetts, in 1806, where he purchased a plat of ground in 1809, and within a year had established a flourishing manufactory. These predecessors of the iron or steel plow were made from wood, and are at this day to be found preserved as curios in many museums of antiquities, while the wheels made at his place are displayed as models of durable workmanship. He removed with his wife and eldest daughter to Albany, in 1846, where his oldest son resided and had prepared a suburban home for him. He died in Auburn, New York, April 3, 1865, and was buried in Albany. He married, May 5, 1807, Cynthia Paine, born in Tolland, Connecticut, August 24, 1782, died Albany, July 12, 1864. All their children were born in Northfield, Massachusetts. Children:

  1. Joel, born April 14, 1808; see forward.
  2. Cynthia, born June 29, 1810.
  3. Son, born August 30, 1812, died October 25, 1812.
  4. Cyrus, born January 10, 1813; married, Charlestown, New Hampshire, January 21, 1839, Diantha A., daughter of Alpha Huntoon, of Unity, New Hampshire; children:
    1. Russell, born Charlestown, New Hampshire, June 19, 1840, married, July 3, 1865, Mary A. Moore;
    2. Willard Alpha, born Auburn, New York, March 17, 1858, died there March 22, 1862;
    3. Homer Joel, born Auburn, New York, June 4, 1859.
  5. Luke, born October 27, 1816; married, Boston, Massachusetts, June 26, 1851, Margaret Ann, daughter of William and Mary Johnston, of Bremen, Maine; died Boston, July 13, 1875; children:
    1. Frederick William, born June 16, 1853, died Springfield, Massachusetts, July 27, 1864;
    2. Albert Henry, born January 6, 1858.
  6. Elijah Bisbee, born September 21, 1819; married, September 9, 1846, Martha Ann, daughter of James Covel; died, Hartford, Connecticut, June 26, 1882; children:
    1. Franklin Eugene, born Manchester, Connecticut, April 3, 1849;
    2. Anna Gertrude, born Vernon, Connecticut, March 23, 1852.
  7. Mary Edwards, born November 11, 1822; married, May 20, 1851, Henry Sutliff; child: Charles Henry, born Belvidere, Illinois, April 25, 1853.

(VI) Joel (2), son of Joel (1) and Cynthia (Paine) Munsell, was born at Northfield, Massachusetts, April 14, 1808. No one ever has or can gain a greater height of respect in Albany than Joel Munsell achieved by his own efforts and in his own quiet, painstaking, laborious way, as historian, genealogist and publisher. He was unpretentious in his manner of living, and retiring of nature, withal his fellow citizens considered him in their front rank, and though a poor man in comparison with his friends, his intelligence counted for far more than their opulence, so that his name will linger while that of the great and successful merchant will be entirely forgotten. His parents had gone from Hartford, Connecticut, to Northfield before his birth, and it was at that place he spent the first seventeen years of his life, attending the local school of the town and also assisting his father in his trade of wheelwright. But it was in 1825 that his natural bent was given freer rein, when he became an apprentice in the printing office of the Franklin Post Christian Freeman, published at Greenfield, nearby. In December of 1826 he had change to another office in the village; but his next employer, John Denio, took him to Albany in May, 1827, to be his clerk in a book store. He preferred, at that time, to be engaged in making of books rather than the selling of them, and secured employment on the National Observer, published by Solomon Southwick. January 1, 1828, found him a journeyman printer two days of the week on the Masonic Record and also helping Mr. Denio at spare moments. Meanwhile he was printing, editing and distributing from door to door his own news sheet, The Albany Minerva, of which he issued eight numbers. He now devoted much time to collecting papers and binding them, doing job work for various newspapers, and was away some time seeking journeymen in Northfield, Hartford and New Haven. With a little spare time at the latter place, he attended lectures and read useful works in science and literature.

In 1834 he was associated with Henry D. Stone in the publication of The Microscope, and this lasted three years, when he had saved a sufficient sum to enable him in October, 1836, to open for himself a job printing office, at No. 58 State street. He had at last found his true bearings, where his skill and intelligence might expand as he desired they should, and as a result "Joel Munsell, the printer," became known all over the United States. It is peculiar that in becoming, through his printery, the friend of the historian, student, genealogist and chronicler of events, he was to reap so great a success that everything put forth by his shop trebled in value as time went on, and by 1900, or hardly a score of years after his death, such volumes as he had issued at a dollar had increased in value to from three to eight dollars. In the year 1900 his Memoirs of Madame Reidesel, printed in ordinary fashion and bound plainly in cloth, could not be secured to supply the demand of the trade at eight dollars, and one of the volumes of his Collections was quoted locally at twenty-five dollars. This shows with what perspicuity he selected works for publication, which many another would have deemed unimportant. A list of the books and pamphlets issued from his press would make a volume in itself, and had he lived to reap the benefits of this phenomenal advance in trade, he would have bequeathed riches to his family.

The first work compiled and published by him was called Outlines of the History of Printing, issued in 1839. But it is as a historian of the city that Albanians look up to him. He is remembered by everyone as the greatest recorder of local events, and were it not for his patient efforts, but poorly remunerated, there would be a dearth of printed material about the past of Albany. At this day it is an ambition of every household to possess a set of his ten little volumes inscribed Annals of Albany, which he began in 1849 and completed in 1859. The text runs as a diary and carries the reader back a hundred years by the compilations therein under the caption, "Notes from the Newspapers." His Collections on the History of Albany, four volumes, were issued between 1865 and 1871; and everybody wonders how he found the time to prepare them in conjunction with the work of his printery. They are exceedingly valuable for reference and are frequently quoted. Another similar work and monument to his industry is The Every Day Book of History and Chronology, compiled by him, and published in two 12mo. volumes in 1843. Beginning with that year he prepared and issued annually Webster's Annual Almanac, started in 1784 by Charles R. Webster, continued up to the present, since his father's death, by Charles Munsell. Many of his publications were put forth at a pecuniary loss to him; but he never refused to print what appeared to him to be a valuable manuscript because of a forecast "it wouldn't pay," and this unselfish zeal has led to the preservation of an abundance of historic material now of rare value.

Mr. Munsell's endeavors in the field of local journalism include Albany Minerva, 1828; a daily campaign paper edited by the Hon. Daniel D. Barnard, 1840; The Lady's Magazine and The Northern Star and Freeman's Advocate, in 1844; The Spectator, edited by Rev. Dr. William Buel Sprague, in 1845; The Guard, an Odd Fellows' paper, edited by C. C. Burr and John Fanner; and at various times, The New York State Mechanic, The Unionist, The State Register, The Typographical Miscellany, The New York Teacher, The Morning Express and The Daily Statesman. He also took great interest in and for three years published The New England Historic-Genealogical Register, of Boston. He published ten volumes of valuable historical matter in limited editions upon excellent paper, quarto size, entitled Munsell's Historical Series.

Mr. Munsell was a founder of The Albany Institute, constant in attendance, reading before that body a number of papers of great concern, and was through forty years its treasurer. During forty-three years he was a faithful supporter of the Lutheran church and its trustee for over twenty years.

He was affectionately liked by all who had the honor of associating with him. In stature he was slight, and in expression decidedly cheerful, although possibly he enjoyed no other pleasures than his arduous work. In conversation he frequently was jocose and facetious. His manner was always quiet and unobtrusive. He was made an honorary member of many societies, each of which bodies sent delegates to attend his funeral, when worn out by excessive and constant work he ceased from his labors. He died January 15, 1880, at his residence, No. 59 Lodge street, Albany, New York.

Joel Munsell married (first) at Albany, New York, June 17, 1834, Jane Caroline Bigelow, born in 1812, died in Albany, June 17, 1854, by whom four children. Married (second) at Albany, September 11, 1856, Mary A. Reid, born in 1822, daughter of Alexander Reid, of Montreal, Canada, by whom six children, the ten children born in Albany, New York. Children:

  1. William Augustus, born May 25, 1835; see forward.
  2. Anna Caroline, born August, 1839; died Albany, June 16, 1840.
  3. Julia Annie, born February 13, 1850; see forward.
  4. Charles, born December 29, 1852; see forward.
  5. Frank, born June 19, 1857; see forward.
  6. Jessie, born January 2, 1859; see forward.
  7. Sarah, born February 10, 1861, unmarried, residing in Albany, New York, in 1910.
  8. Minnie, born December 9, 1862; see forward.
  9. Laura, born March 15, 1866; married, January 16, 1895, Dr. William Tremain, of Rome, New York, no children.
  10. Emma, born June 14, 1868; married, Albany, October 19, 1897, Robert A. Hevenor, of Chicago, Illinois, no children, both residing in Chicago, in 1910.

(VII) William Augustus, son of Joel and Jane Caroline (Bigelow) Munsell, was born in Albany, New York, May 25, 1835, and died in Norwood, Ohio, February 23, 1898. He married (first), Albany, September 22, 1856, Maria Beers, by whom two children; married (second), in Albany, April 29, 1868, Lizzie Evans, born in Gloucestershire, England, July 27, 1849, daughter of Thomas and Ann Evans, and by this second wife he had five children. Children:

  1. Jennie Caroline, born in Albany, August 31, 1857.
  2. Alice, born in Albany, 1859.
  3. William Sellew, born in Cincinnati, Ohio, July 27, 1869.
  4. Charlotte Lucille, born in Cincinnati, Ohio, August 27, 1872; married, at Wequelonsing, Michigan, July 31, 1899, Theodore Pflueger, of Cincinnati, Ohio, by whom one child, Theodore Carlisle, born in Norwood, Ohio, September 24, 1900.
  5. Jackson Armstrong, born in Bond Hill, Ohio, December 13, 1873; married, at Cincinnati, February 14, 1899, Marie Kirkup, by whom four children:
    1. Robert Kirkup, born Cincinnati, September 29, 1899;
    2. Jackson Armstrong Jr., born in Norwood, Ohio, January 19, 1901;
    3. Mary Lucille, born in Cincinnati, Ohio, October 7, 1902;
    4. James William, born in Cincinnati, Ohio, June 30, 1904.
  6. Albert West, born in Bond Hill, Ohio, March 24, 1877; married, Batavia, Ohio, June 24, 1902, Edith Mann Frazier, born Avondale, Ohio, June 25, 1879, by whom four children:
    1. Albert Frazier, born in Wheeling, West Virginia, May 10, 1903;
    2. John Richard, born in same place, July 21, 1905;
    3. Stephen Evans, born in Detroit, Michigan, November 17, 1907;
    4. Edith Frazier, born in Detroit, December 23, 1909.
  7. Edward Thomas, born in Bond Hill, Ohio, June 13, 1881.

(VII) Julia Annie, daughter of Joel and Jane Caroline (Bigelow) Munsell, was born in Albany, New York, February 13, 1850. She married, Albany, August 28, 1871, William Turner Jr., son of William and Eliza (Ramsey) Turner of Albany. He died, Albany, February 28, 1885. Children:

  1. Grace E., born Albany, August 10, 1872, died in Albany, March 13, 1875.
  2. Adelaide E., born Albany, October 23, 1874.
  3. Jessie E., born, Albany, March 20, 1877, died, Albany, October 12, 1888.

(VII) Charles, son of Joel and Jane Caroline (Bigelow) Munsell, was born in Albany, New York, December 29, 1852. He continuing his father's establishment with his brother, Frank, for some time, conducted afterwards a book bindery and yearly brought out Webster's Annual Almanac, which had been started in the year 1784, as his father had done before him, since 1843. He married, in Albany, September 7, 1876, Sarah C., daughter of Samuel and Mary Ann (Anthony) Knower. She was born in Albany, July 4, 1857, died in Albany, February 15, 1888. Children, born in Albany:

  1. Harriet Edith, June 24, 1878.
  2. Grace Huested, July 19, 1880.
  3. Alice Mary, March 10, 1883, died in Albany, September 12, 1887.
  4. Elizabeth Evelyn, September 26, 1885, died in Albany, September 15, 1887.

(VII) Frank, son of Joel and Mary (Reid) Munsell, was born in Albany, New York, June 19, 1857. He continued his father's business as book publisher and binder. He married, Albany, June 8, 1880, Mary Sprague, daughter of John Danforth and Sarah Jane (Smythe) Houghtaling, of Bath-on-the-Hudson (Rensselaer, New York). was born at Johnstown, New York, May 17, 1861. Children:

  1. Claude Garfield, born, Rensselaer, New York, January 18, 1881.
  2. Idell Lillian, born, Rensselaer, June 25, 1882, died, Rensselaer, February 26, 1884.
  3. Ethel Lelah, born, Albany, October 11, 1884; married February 19, 1906, Henry T. de Rivera, by whom two children:
    1. Ethel Munsell de Rivera, born New York, June 11, 1907, and
    2. Catharine Ward de Rivera, born New York, June 1, 1909.
  4. Irma, born in Albany, March 20, 1888.
  5. Danforth Houghtaling, born Albany, April 13, 1890.

(VII) Jessie, daughter of Joel and Mary A. (Reid) Munsell, was born in Albany, January 2, 1859. Her education was received at the Albany Female Academy. She married, Albany, May 10, 1887, Dr. Charles Mortimer Culver, son of Cyrus Lee and Mary Ann (Bullock) Culver. He was born in West Troy, New York (Watervliet), September 28, 1856. (See Culver VIII). Children:

  1. Cyrus Lee, born Schodack, New York, May 26, 1888.
  2. Mary, born, Albany, New York, January 29, 1895.

(VII) Minnie, daughter of Joel and Mary A. (Reid) Munsell, was born in Albany, York, December 9, 1862. She married, Albany, February 25, 1891, Frank Crary Ferguson, of Albany. Child: Guy, born in Albany, December 22, 1894.

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