Jefferson County, NY


The history of the Tousley family in America is said to date from the coming to Connecticut, early in the 1700's, of three Tousley (Towsley) brothers, born in Wales; Mathew born 1710, Robert born 1712, and William born 1714. There is also a record of a William Towsley, son of Mathew Towsley, above, who was born at Suffield, CT on 5 Feburary 1731/2.

It was William, son of Mathew, who married Sybble Spencer.

William Towsley married on 25 February 1754, in Suffield CT, to Sybble Spencer. Sybble Spencer is thought to be the daughter of Thomas Spencer and Mary Trumble, who married on 15 December 1720, Five of the children were born at Suffield, CT between 1754 and 1763. The family then moved to Vermont and four more were born there between 1764 and 1773, and others as late as 1780. A twelfth child of William Towsley, Isabel, was born before 1790, and referred to as a half-sister; it is probable that Sybble had died and William had remarried. William reported as dead in Rupert, VT in 1792.

Children recorded in Connecticut:

Hezekiah Towsley b 1 May 1759
William Towsley b 4 August 1761
Mary Towsley 30 Dec. 1754
Thomas Towsleyb 9 Nov. 1763
David Towsley b 23 May 1757 first five children born at Suffield, CT.
Hiram b 1764
Matthew bc 1765
Eliphalet bc 1770
Reuben bc 1773
son - not named
Ethan bc 1780
Isabel born before 1790; she is referred to as a half-sister of the other children.

Reuben Towsley bc 1773, presumably at Rupert, VT. He married Mary Thomas, who was of Welsh descent, and they had at least four children:

Orr b 26 October 1803
Reuben b Jefferson Co., NY on 18 November 1804.

Orr Towsley was born at Waltham, Addison Co., Vermont on 26 October 1803. There are conflicting reports about Orr. His newspaper obituary stated:

"His father died before he was two years of age, and he was adopted by an
aunt at Georgia, Chittenden Co., VT, when he was four years of age. He lived
with her until 1816, when he went to Ellisburg, Jefferson Co., New York."

The History of the Minnesota Valley, published 1882, stated:

"When 13 years of age, he accompanied his parents to New York and completed
his education in the schools of Jefferson County, NY."

And yet, another record (not sourced) stated:

"Orr is supposed to have left Waltham, VT in 1806 for Ellisburg, NY, arriving in October."

Orr Tousley was married in Lorraine Township, Jefferson Co., to Tirzah Randall on 23 February 1826. She was born in Malta Township, (now Lorraine Twp.) in Jefferson Co., on 27 March 1805. Her parents were Hubbard and Mary (Jennings) Randall, who were born respectively in CT in 1775 and in Massachusetts in 1773, married in Massachusetts in 1795.

Orr and Tirzah Tousley lived in Jefferson County after their marriage. Their first child was:

Clarissa, born at Ellisburg, NY on 20 December 1826 and may be the Clarissa Tousley
who is mentioned in the Baptist Church record at Ellisburgh, without a date. Orr, with
his family lived in Lorraine Township in 1828 and they had a second daughter, who was
counted in the Lorraine census in 1830, as the second female child who was 5 years and
under. They added a son born there in 1830.

Orr farmed in Lorraine until 1831, when he moved to Stow Township, Portage County (Stow is currently in Summit Co.) Ohio. There is a record of a land transfer to him on 15 December 1835, of a 30 acre farm at Stow. The conveyance was by Reuben Tousley and his wife, Tirzah C. Tousley. Orr and Tirzah sold that farm by a conveyance dated 6 December 1836.

In succeeding years at Stow, two sons were added to the family in 1834 and 1836. Two children were born to them at Granger, Ohio; a boy in 1840 and a boy in 1843, both died in infancy. An eighth child, a boy, was born in Ohio in 1847.

By 1850, Clarissa had married, and five of her siblings were still living with Orr and Tirzah. By 1857, the family had moved to LeSueur, Minnesota, and Orr had become principally a farmer. In 1860 he was a ferryman, an occupation he pursued for five years. In 1860, four sons were still living at home. The second daughter had married.

Orr's wife, Tirzah Randall Tousley, died at LeSueur on 1 January 1866 and was buried there, in Mound Cemetery. On 14 April 1867, Orr Tousley married a widow, Mrs. Eliza Earl Williams at Jefferson Co., NY, where she was born on 10 September 1807. By her previous marriage, she had several children, and two--Mrs. D. Bannatyne and Mrs. David Imhoff--were living at LeSuer at the time of her death, and a son was living in Iowa. There may have been an additional son, Earl F. Williams, who died in 1874 at age 32, and is also buried in the Tousley family lot at Mound Cemetery. Eliza Tousley died at LeSueur on 22 August 1881. Orr died at LeSueur on 10 February 1892 at age 88. Six children survived him, and 31 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren, also survived him. He was buried in Mound Cemetery with his two wives.

The eight children of Orr and Tirzah Tousley were:

1. Clarissa b 20 December 1826 at Ellisburg, NY; she married at Lorraine Twp., Jeff. Co., NY on 28 September 1843 to William Holmes Woods. They had 15 children. Clarissa died at Blooming Prairie, MN on 15 October 1893 and was buried at Owatonna, MN.

2. Mary Lurancy b 2 September 1828 in Lorraine, NY. On 16 January 1853 in Ohio, she married John Seldon Parker, b CT on 14 September 1822. In 1862 they moved to LeSueur. John Parker died 22 October 1885 and Mary died 10 March 1909. Buried in Mound Cem. at LeSueur.

3. George Mortimer b 19 October 1830 in Lorraine, NY. He lived with his parents at LeSueur in 1860 and was a mail agent. On 2 January 1861 he married at Le Sueur to Hannah Plowman, b 26 December 1844, at Port Burwell, Ontario Canada. Her parents were born in Ireland. George died at LeSueur in 1918 and Hannah on 25 April 1823.

4. DeWitt b 10 April 1834 at Stow, Ohio. Went with his parents to LeSueur and his occupation, teacher. On 23 October 1865, he married at South Ryegate, VT to Sophronia (Sophie) Nancy Irene Melure, born in VT on 10 June 1842. Her father was born in Ireland and her mother in Vermont. They later lived at Seattle, Washington, where she died on 10 August 1921 and he died May 6, 1923.

5. Roswell b 23 May 1836 at Stow. In 1860 he was at LeSueur and a farmer, living with his parents. On 26 May 1861 he married there to Emily Partridge, b London, England 24 May 1840. He died in LeSueur on 11 May 1904 and his wife died there in June, 1910.

6. Delos b 22 August 1840 in Granger, Ohio and died there on 15 December 1841.

7. Florence (a son) b 3 December 1843 in Granger. Died there on 21 December 1843.

8. Francis b 19 June 1847 in Granger. He grew up in LeSueur and on 30 March 1875 married there to Sila D. Williams, b Canada on 21 March 1846. Her father was born in Canada and her mother in New York. Francis (Frank) died at Bismarck, ND on 28 August 1930 and Sila died at Clearwater, MN on 26 October 1913; both are buried at Le Sueur.

Source: The Woods Family with the Diary of Clarissa Tousley Woods (1856); in the public domain, by Norman Nelson 1962.


Tirzah Randall, born 27 March 1805, in Malta, Latter Lorraine Township, Jefferson Co., NY, was the daughter of Hubbard Randall and Mary Jennings. They married at Shelburne, MA on 19 February 1795. Hubbard Randall was born on 7 March 1775 at Colchester, CT. After his marriage to Mary Jennings, they lived at several places in MA, and at Lorraine in Jefferson Co., NY. Mary Jennings was born 20 September 1773 at Ashfield, MA and died at Lorraine on 3 November 1832.

After the death of his first wife, Hubbard Randall married on 24 December 1834, to Rebecca Bigelow, who was born on 4 May 1777, and who died at Lorraine on 7 January 1845. Hubbard Randall died at Redfield, Oswego Co., NY on 12 April 1859.

Source: same as above. Transcriber's note: See also, The Randall Families in Jefferson Co., NY, this site for Benjamin Randall b 1742 Stonington, CT, including son, Hubbard Randall. See also the records of Mooney-Gulf Cemetery, this site. The following information was taken from the Jefferson Co., NY Genweb site. See also: Migrations No. 31 this site for identity of Rebecca Randall.

 Hubbard Randall b 7 May 1775 in Colchester; m 1) Mary Jennings and 2)Rebecca Bigelow. Hubbard died 12 April 1859 and is buried in the Mooney-Gulf Cemetery, Jeff. Co., NY, with both is first and second wives. Mary died 3 Nov. 1832 at 59 years and Rebecca d unknown. He married on 19 Feb. 1795 at Shelburne to Mary Jennings b 20 Sept. 1773 d 3 Nov. 1832 at Lorraine, Jeff. Co., NY.

Children: (Randall surname)

Elias 1797-1851
Polly 1799-1868
Benjamin 1801-1803
Lyman 1803-
Tirzah 1805-1866
Ira 1807-1866
Naomi 1809-1871
Lewis 1812-1869


Ebenezer Williams, son of William Williams, was born in 1807 in Lebanon, CT and died 1 November 1857 at Pierrepont Manor at age 50. He was an early resident of North Adams, Jefferson County and moved then to Pierrpont Manor, where he was many years engaged in building operations, being a carpenter and cabinet maker by trade. He married Elizabeth Earle, daughter of James Earle, and who long survived Ebenezer. Going with some of her children to LeSeur, Minnesota, she there married Orr Tousley and died about 1880. Following is a brief account of her children:

1)Elizabeth married Clinton Smith and 2)Daniel Bannatyne of LeSeur.
2)Preston Lamont, the second child
3)Electa married David Imhoff of LeSeur.
4)Earle died in LeSeur about 1875
5)Brayton was a resident of Ackley, Iowa where he died about 1885
6)died in childhood

Elizabeth Earle was the youngest and twelfth child of James and Elizabeth (Soule) Earle, born 3 September 1807 in Westport, MA; she became the wife of 1)Ebenezer Williams and 2)Orr Tousley.

Source: Hist. and Genealogy of families of Jefferson County by Oakes, Vol. 1, p 385

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