YORK Township

~~families and homes~~

Clark County, Wisconsin


- sophronia windsor lawrence bassett -

Sophronia Windsor  (daughter of Anson Windsor) was born December 25, 1831 in Madoc, Hastings, Ontario, Cananda, and died December 26, 1912 in Allegan, Michigan.  Burial: December 29, 1912, Hudson Corners Cemetery, Allegan, Michigan.  She first married Harvey O. Lawrence July 04, 1857, son of Luman Lawrence and Artemesia Wetmore.  He was born September 25, 1819 in Lewis County, New York, and died August 20, 1863 in Plymouth, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin.  She married a second time to Edwin B. Bassett June 18, 1878 in York Township, Clark County, Wisconsin.  He was born April 1819 in Massachusetts, and died July 25, 1901.  They were divorced on December 5, 1898.

Sophronia Lawrence Sophronia Lawrence with son Walter and daughter Margaret. Sophronia Bassett with Margaret Benedict (daughter), Belle Smith (grand daughter) and Belle Rundle (great-grand daughter) Sophronia Bassett

Children of Sophronia Windsor and Harvey Lawrence were:

George Walter Lawrence, born April 17, 1858 in Plymouth, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin; died July 04, 1928 in Robinson Hospital, Allegan, Allegan County, Michigan.  Burial: Millgrove Cemetery, Michigan.  He married Mary Adeline Randall July 17, 1887 in York Township, Clark County, Wisconsin; born November 1862 in Elba Township, Dodge County, Wisconsin; died 1948 in St. Johns, Clinton County, Michigan.

Margaret Elizabeth Lawrence, born August 30, 1859 in Plymouth, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin; died April 24, 1937 in York Township, Clark County, Wisconsin.  Burial: April 27, 1937, York Center Cemetery, Clark County, Wisconsin.  She married Sanford William Benedict July 01, 1877 in Neillsville, Wisconsin; born November 20, 1853 in Eldorado Township, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin; died January 18, 1935 in York Township, Clark County, Wisconsin.

A Grand-daughter's Account

The following account of "Grandma Bassett" was written by her grand daughter (Belle Benedict Smith) through a letter to Belle's daughter, Violet Smith Andersen who lived in Idaho.  Applicable notes in italics were added by Steven Lavey.

This little girl (Sophronia Windsor) was born in Madock, Ontario; in about 1831 or 1832.  Her father's name was Anson Windsor, her mother died when she was a small girl and I think her father married her mother's sister.

The never had a lamp, never even saw one.  They dipped candles.  They would have a dish of melted tallow and take a piece of wick and dip it into the tallow, let it cool and dip again until the candle was large enough.  Then too they had candle molds, they would pour the tallow into molds with a wick in the center and let them harden.  The one I saw at Grandma Bassett's place held about six candles at one time.  She had a candle holder to use to set the candle in and a pair of snuffers to use to pinch off the wick when it got burned black on top.  Just as we would clean our lamp wicks.

As they had no matches they were adept at rolling up a little piece of paper or taking a little splinter of wood and light it from the fire place.  If the fire went out in the fire place, they could make fire by using a flint but it was easier to take a pan and run to the neighbors and borrow some fire.  That got to be quite a saying, if a person ran into someone's house in a hurry and couldn't stop:  "Did you come to borrow fire?"  I even hear the expression yet.

When she (Sophronia) was 24 or near that, the family moved to Wisconsin, near Plymouth.  Her stepmother died and she looked after her younger brothers and sisters.  I don't know how old she was when her stepmother died.  The children whose names I know were:  Jane, Esther, Nathaniel, William; part were half brothers and sisters but I don't know which.  There may have been other children.  Nathaniel, who they called Nate, was hung as a spy in the Civil War.  He went over into the Confederate lines to get information for the Union and got caught.

William I know was a half brother.  Jane, Esther, and Will all married and had families.  Well, in 1856 she married Harvey Lawrence.  They had two children (Walter and Margaret).  He went to the Civil War, came home in 1863, lived only three days; he was sick, not wounded.  The left Sophronia with two small children about four and five years of age.

They had a farm but it was hard to keep it up and when the children were thirteen and fourteen years old, she and her father and family moved up to Clark County in the woods, selling the farm before leaving.  She had a pension to help out, and she bought some land, all woods.  There were few settlers and when they would go to a neighbor's, they would take a little hatchet along and blaze a trail so they could find their way home.  One day Grandma and another lady started to go somewhere and lost their way and stayed all night in the woods.

Her father was now living with her, her younger brother Will got a piece of land across the road.  Margaret (my mother) worked out some for women in the neighborhood.

Margaret got married (to Sanford Benedict) and she (Sophronia) divided her land and gave part to her and part to Walter, and kept part herself.  Thus she had her children near her, her half brother across the road her sisters living near by; both of them married by now.

The (Anson Windsor) father died.  His tombstone can be seen in the York Center Cemetery.  Walter had built a small house on his place and so Sophronia was alone.

In 1878, she married again to Edwin Bassett.  As I remember him he was a gruff old man.  Whiskers all over his face.  He may have been nicer when they were married.  Anyway, it was a mistake.  He was always grouching, he thought she went over to Will's too much and helped him.  He would sell her cows and pocket the money.  He seemed to be a mean old miser.  I can remember when I would go in the house and Grandma wasn't there and I'd squeak out in a timid voice, "Where's Grandma Bassett?" and he'd answer in his gruff voice, more of a growl then a voice, "She's over t'other house."  Then I'd make a quick get away and run over to Uncle Will's.

At last she couldn't stand it any longer and she told him to leave.  He (Edwin Bassett) went and lived with his son (probably Byron Bassett), who was married by that time.  I forgot to say he had a son, a young man who lived with them when he wasn't working away.

Whenever a baby was born in the neighborhood, it was always Grandma Bassett who was called, instead of a doctor.  Hers was a busy life, always working for others.  I don't suppose she ever got paid for any of these services.

For quite a few years after Bassett left, she kept a few cows, sometimes she would get a big boy to work for his board while attending school so she would have help with the chores in winter.

I used to stop on my way to school.  Sometimes she would be eating breakfast and put a plate on for me.  Sometimes she would slip something good in my dinner pail.  Sometimes she would sit down with her Bible and say "Let's have prayers" and she would read a chapter and pray.

She could read well but couldn't write.  She said she used to write to her husband when he was in the Army and then she didn't do any writing for so long that she couldn't.  I used to write letters for her sometimes.  She had some cousins she corresponded with.; one in Canada and one in Michigan.  I even got corresponding with one cousin's daughter, a girl about my age name Lottie Windsor, in Canada.

Her brothers or brother-in-laws used to make maple sugar and when she would have some, she would spread a slice of bread with butter and then shave maple sugar on it and give it to me.  It seemed that she was always giving.  Walter worked her land and put hay in the barn for her.  What wonderful apple trees were on her place, she was always dividing the apples with all the relatives; always have sweet apples for us children to eat.

Then my father's brother's wife (Phoebe Mabie Benedict) died, (Uncle Charley's wife) and left a baby.  My cared for the baby eight months and then Merle was born so Grandma Bassett took the baby home with her.  She took care of him for eight or nine years.  (This baby was Ray Benedict - son of Charles Benedict.)

In the meantime, Jane (Sophronia's sister) died.  (Jane was the wife of Joseph S. Palmer.)  She also left a family; they lived about seventeen miles away (in Hemlock, a small town north of Greenwood in Warner Township).  A short distance now but a long one to travel with horses.  One boy was married, but a young man and a girl of about eight was left at home.  Grandma (Bassett) left her home, taking Ray with her and kept house for Jane's family.  He had a grist mill and made flour.  She must have been past sixty by that time.  It was quite an undertaking. She kept house for him a few years.  When Jane's husband re-married, his wife had children.  Grace couldn't get along so she took Grace home with her when she and Ray came back to their place.  Grace stayed there off and on.  Sometimes she stayed at a brother's or cousin's but mostly for a few years made her home with Grandma Bassett.

After Grandma Bassett married, she lost her pension so she didn't have much income but still she would buy us children little presents.  After being back on her farm, she decided to let Ray go to LaCrosse to live with our Uncle, my father's brother.  He was getting to be a big boy and really needed a man to look after him.  She took him down to LaCrosse when was about nine or ten years old.  She never seen him again.  It was like parting with her own child.  He didn't feel it so much, going to the city, new things and new ways.  He wrote to her some but his letters kept getting farther apart and he always talked of coming to see her but never did.

Grace was away a lot and so she was left alone once more.  She had a tiny log house.  It always seemed so nice and warm and cozy to me.  If a storm came up about the time school was out, Grandma would come to the road with arms loaded with wraps and umbrella and lent the children things to wear home to keep them dry.

In about 1900 (they were actually divorced in 1898), Edwin Bassett sued for divorce so Grandma Bassett wouldn't get his property if he died.  Well then after that she got her pension back that was given her on account of her husband being a soldier so that helped during her later years.

Grandma Bassett belonged to the M.E. Church.  She usually attended church.  Some of the neighbors would give her a ride with their horses and wagon, or maybe it might be a buggy.

She bought a small tent and would sometimes to to a camp meeting for a few days in the summer.  She always said I could go with her some time but it seemed as if I never could.  Guess I didn't have the clothes or else I might get sick; anyway me mother never let me go.

One thing I remember about Old Ed Bassett (as he was called):  he was in the field plowing and a neighbor came along.  The neighbor called out as a greeting "Plowing?"  Ed responded gruffly, "Can't you see, G'long Dime."  (Dime was the name of one of the oxen.)  That became quite a saying in the family, if we would say something that sounded cross and then want to soften it up a little  and cause a smile, we would add "G'long Dime."

Grandma Bassett was what one would call "a hard working woman."  Yet she never had much for herself.  If she got a few cents, she always wanted to get something for someone.  It seems as I look back on her life that it was all giving, a life of unselfishness.

She was born on Christmas Day, she died one day after Christmas in Michigan where she went with her son and his wife.  That was in 1912.  She lived less than a year after going to Michigan.

She lived in her own house as long as she could.  I know in1910 she was still living in her house on the farm she first went to.  She was then about 78 years old.  She told her son if she got sick she would set a lamp in the window.  He lived a short distance away.  She didn't leave her place long before she died.  At the last, she was sitting in a chair and peacefully passed away.

The boy Ray died a few years ago.  The girl Grace, lives in Tacoma, Washington.  She and I correspond regularly.  She is a couple of years younger than I am.  Will's children live in Tacoma, I knew them as children, one descendant your mother knew was Ione Windsor; a grandchild of Will (Ione was the daughter of Nat Windsor and Nellie Sischo).  The sister Esther (Mrs. Samuel Livingston) lived in York until she died.  Her family are all dead except one daughter who lives in Michigan - an old lady now.

When I was a child and came home from school, I would often he her (Grandma Bassett) sitting and doing some patching for my mother.  Going upstairs, I'd find she had been up there, made the beds, swept the floor and put things in order.

She lived a half mile from our place to go around by the road; about a quarter of a mile to go "cross lots."  We would usually go cross lots in the summer, but in the winter the snow would be too deep.

Of course, we children and Ray used to call her "Grandma Bassett;" never called her just the word "Grandma" as we had a Grandma Benedict too and had to distinguish between them.  Her nieces and nephews called her "Aunt Frona," her brothers and sisters generally called her "Frone."

If any of us children got sick, there would be Grandma Bassett hurrying over, getting us warmed up, giving us a dose of something or other.  It seems she was never too busy to wait on people.

I would say she was industrious, kind, cheerful and saving.  She would tell about the Indian scare.  There was a report that Indians were going to make war.  The people took their feather beds and little children and hid in the corn fields.  Then I guess it sort of blew over.  Their feather beds were a precious possession.  I suppose they could save feathers and make those and it so it was the cheapest means to make something warm; also took lots of work.  I think Grandma Bassett always had a feather bed, probably several of them.


 (from unknown newspaper source, corrections and additions by Steven Lavey in italics)

Sophronia Windsor, who died in Allegan, Michigan, was born in Madoc, Ontario, December 25, 1831, moving with her parents to Calumet County, Wisconsin, in 1855.  In 1856 (actually 1857), she married Harvey Lawrence of Plymouth, Wisconsin.  To this union was born a son and daughter, Walter Lawrence, now living in Allegan, and Mrs. Maggie Benedict of Neillsville.  The husband fought in the Civil War and died while on furlough in 1863, living only three days after his return home.

In 1878 she was married to Edwin Bassett, who died thirteen years ago.  In May last she came with her son to the farm on Dumont Road where she died peacefully on December 26th, (1912) age 81 years and one day.

She was converted in early childhood and united with the M. E. Church, remaining a devoted and consistent member, until she the Master say, "Well done good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of the Lord."

Sophronia Bassett's house in Section 9 on what is now County Highway K

To the far left is Ray Benedict, Sophronia Bassett and Nat Windsor.




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