Genealogy: Family Histories
by Sarah Redford
Transcribed and Edited by Michael R. Reilly
Last Revised 03/17/2015
which includes Van Vlack family,
In May 1933, Sarah Redford, daughter of Henry, who was brother to T. S. Redford read this paper "Redford Pioneers" to the Waukesha County Historical Society. Source: Waukesha Freeman, Thursday, June 8, 1933, page 5, cols 2-4.
Our earliest records of the Redford family begin in England with one John Redford, who was born at Charing Cross, London, in probably the 1750's. His father owned a glass works there.
About the time of the Revolutionary War, they had company on e time at their home and when ready to leave, Grandfather Redford, then a young man, took them to Charing Cross Station, and while doing so, was kidnapped and pressed aboard an English man-of-war to fight the Colonies, leaving his horse and chaise standing in the street.
He came to America, landed at New York, and as soon as he could, he deserted the English army, throwing his interest with the Colonies, as his family's sympathy was with them in England.
After the war he married and settled in Cattaraugus county, and Livingstone Co., N.Y., where he raised a family.
The oldest son was Arthur A. Redford, born Dec. 23, 1793, in Livingstone Co., N.Y. He enlisted in the War of 1812. He married Mary Scott, and they resided in Genesee Co., N.Y., where his eldest son, Henry, was born, Dec. 22, 1815. Then Thomas S., July 11, 1818, Erwin, Morris, Ira S., and Jane.
On April 23, 1836, he and his family came to Milwaukee with the exception of his eldest son, Henry. I think they traveled by boat. They stopped with Solomon Juneau until they could find a place to live. He went out into the country to what is known as the Town of Menomonee and took up claims for himself and sons and built a log cabin and a stable. In the spring of 1837 his family moved there.
My Uncle Erwin, then a young boy, told us they got up one morning and going out to the stable, they found a calf had switched its tail between the logs and was caught and a bear had bitten off the tail as bear tracks were found.
They had another daughter Emily, born after they moved to the Town of Menomonee, she being the first white girl born there.
Their eldest son, Henry, had remained in New York State as he was hired out on a farm, the custom in those days, and had to finish his time. He left New York State in the fall of 1836 and rode on horseback from Buffalo to Milwaukee, as he owned a fine four-year old and had his saddle and clothes. He encountered some narrow escapes on his journey. Houses were far apart and traveling dangerous.
He stopped at one home where there was just a middle-aged couple. He wasn't much taken up with the place. He left his tallow candle burning near his bed and as the partitions were just boards, he could hear the couple whispering to each other and soon, to his surprise, the wife opened the door and peeked in and he just looked at her. Later she came again and he looked at her. She said, "I see you are not asleep yet." He replied, "I hear my horse and I will go and see what is the matter, then, I might get some sleep." He saddled his horse and left in a hurry and that ended that night.
Then the next place he stopped in which he was in danger was when there were two young men. In the morning as he was leaving the two young men got onto their horses and said they were going on a little hunt. They asked him to ride out a ways with them and he was up against it again. "Ride out this way, " they said to him, but he took a circle to get a start. Then he lit out and they followed him for several miles. As one of their horses was white he could distinguish it a long way. They gave up the the chase as he neared a little settlement of a post office, blacksmith shop, tavern and store, and a few families. He spoke of his experience and was told that he was lucky to have escaped, as many people had said they would write when they reached their destination but were never heard from again.
Meets Solomon Juneau
When he arrived in Milwaukee, the first man he met was Solomon Juneau who said, "Young man, where have you come from? Henry replied, "I have just come from Buffalo." Mr. Juneau asked him if he had a place to stay over night and he said no. "Well, come to my cabin," Juneau replied, and so he did.
He worked a while in Milwaukee and I have heard him say he helped to build a pen to house some cattle for Plankinton.
He then went to Menomonee where his father and brothers were, and took up some land, some of which he sold in 1861.
When he came to what was then Prairieville, he worked for Morris Cutler, splitting rails, and lived in a log house near Bethesda Spring where they got their water and helped Mr. Cutler do the cooking. He could make pan-cakes and could flip them as well as any woman he said. He and Mr. Cutler became good friends.
He cleared his place and built a home and then married. He often told how he rode horse-back to Milwaukee from Menomonee and carried out groceries.
There were no roads then-just clearings made and oxen did most of the traveling for a good many years. He often told how in making the trip when horses were able to travel on the road such as it was, many times he would have to swim the horse across a stream as there were no bridges.
Soon after that, however, logs were cut and bridges made. Saw mills sprang up all over the country and labor was cheap and roads were made. They went all over the country by ox-team.
Church services were held in the barn of William Weaver, who lived near Sussex, local preachers of different beliefs taking charge of the services.
Henry Redford was married twice. First, in 1840, to Lucinda Baker, who died in 1852, leaving four children, Spencer, Walter, Charles, and Almary. He married 2nd, Adeline Doney, by whom he had the following children: MacArthur, Emma, Frederick, Sarah, Ella, Etta, George, Frank, Nellie, and Annis.
All of the above children have passed away, except four girls and three boys. The mother died Aug. 26, 1877.
Later on, when Arthur Redford was settled in a home, Solomon Juneau used to stop at his place when he was near and my Aunt Jane used to say that he would pick her up in his lap and she would sing for him. Then he would give her a large copper penny - her daughter said it was around the house for a long time but she doesn't know what became of it. This is the song that she sang:
"The north wind blows and we
shall have snow.
And what will poor robin do
then, poor thing?
He'll go to the barn and keep
And hide his head under his
wing, poor thing."
Another time when Solomon Juneau came he brought a game-bag full of blackbirds and skinned them and she made him a pie out of the breasts.
Henry Redford died Jan. 26, 1899
Made Land Claims
When Arthur Redford went to the Town of Menomonee, he made claims of land for himself and three sons, Henry, Thomas, and Ira, who later occupied adjoining corners on this tract of about 600 acres and it was well-known as Redford Corners for years, where they all became highly respected farmers. Their word was always good and kept. The choice of this tract of land was largely influenced by some wonderful springs thereon.
At this time the country was occupied by frequent roving bands of Indians who would often stop at the Redford homestead and were friendly. One of them was known as George. He would frequently stop there and work for a chance to sleep by the fireplace, with his promise to keep the fire burning all night, which he did, and his honesty was never doubted.
There was a great Indian scare about September 1862, when a man came by on horseback, saying "The Indians are coming and are near Menomonee Falls. Prepare to leave for Milwaukee at once." My father, Henry Redford, loaded up a wagon with his wife and children, quilts, etc., and sent us to Milwaukee while he stayed on the farm to look after the stock. This scare proved to be false and we soon returned home.
It was precipitated by the massacre at New Ulm, Minn., in August, 1862.
The Redford men were great horse fanciers and had a fine reputation for raising good blooded stock, always owning good horses.
Thomas Redford, the second son of Arthur Redford, was born in Genesee Co., N.Y., July 11, 1818, being 18 years of age when he came with his parents to Wisconsin, in 1836. Not long after he drove the first stake for a claim in the Town of Lisbon, and built a cabin. He was married three times, the first being Caroline Van Vlack, of Dutchess Co., N.Y. whom he married on Dec. 25, 1848. She died in 1853, leaving two sons:
Albert, born March 17, 1850
Sylvester Thomas, born April 16, 1853.
His second wife was Jane Realy, of England, who died in 1864, by whom he had three children:
Emily, born Nov. 13,1855, who married W. Hodgson, and went to California to live.
Martha J., was born June 12, 1861, who married W. H. Edwards of Sussex, and still resides there.
George L., born Feb. 11, 1864, and died Jan. 22, 1865.
His third wife was Abigail Newell, whom he married on July 11, 1864. She was born on April 3, 1834, in Dutchess Co., N.Y., and was the daughter of Whipple and Maplet (Newman) Newell. Two children were born of this marriage:
Erwin W., born Sept. 2, 1872, and died April 10, 1873.
Maplet, who who was married to Ernest W. Trakel of Waukesha.
Thomas Redford lived on the farm the rest of his life and died Nov. 27, 1903. His widow died March 29, 1931, at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Trakel.
Ira and Morris went to California in the gold rush of 1849-1850 where they tried mining for several years. Ira Redford's knowledge of horses brought him to the notice of race horse owners out there. At one race in 1854, he rode as a "heavy" rider, a horse named "Paddy", over a quarter mile straight in 19 seconds which record they say has never been surpassed and won a purse of $100,000.00 for the owner, for which he received $1,000 fee.
He returned to the farm of his father in 18556, Bring in a quill, the first gold he had mined, . which he made into a wedding ring for his wife later on, who was Catherine Ross, daughter of Daniel Ross of the Town of Pewaukee, an early pioneer from Scotland, and a sister of the late John Ross of Waukesha. By this marriage there were six children, Everetta, Alice, John,, now a resident of Milwaukee, Carrie, Daisy, Pansy.
In the political campaign of 1860, the Republican Committee of Waukesha put on a big parade with a rail-splitting float drawn by four horses, owned and driven by Ira Redford.
Morris Redford, on his return from California had a lumber mill at Knowlton, Wis., later ,going to Calgary, Canada to live. He was married and there were four children.
Erwin Redford went to Winchester, Tenn., to live.
Jane Redford married Henry Weaver of Monroe, Wis., at whose home her father, Arthur Redford, died in 1877.
Emily Redford married Joseph Cook and lived in Missouri.
This ends a brief description of the early Redfords.
Retrospect: Celebrating Lisbon's first founder, Thomas Spenser Redford
Posted: January 14, 2009, Living Sussex Sun
By Fred Keller, Sussex Village Historian