Erastus & Roxanah (Rogers) Disbrow

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Erastus & Roxanna (Rogers) Disbrow


Great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth Disbrow‘s parents, were Erastus & Roxanna (Rogers) Disbrow. Erastus was born 1815 in the Catskill Mountains town of Windham, Greene County, New York to Meeker & Chloe (Abbott) Disbrow.

Although the 1950 U.S. Census indicate Roxanna was also born in New York State, we don’t know where; there have also been several versions of her forename, Roxanah, Roxanna, Raxalena, Roxsalany. A semi-official record of her family surname was given in the death certificate of their son, Robert S. Disbrow, provided by Robert’s son (her & Erastus’s grandson), Roy Disbrow. The names he provided for his father’s parents are: Erastes Disbrow & Raxalena Rodgers, so at best this is third-hand information. Until further information is uncovered I will accept her as my 2nd great-grandmother Roxanna (Rogers) Disbrow.

There are also numerous versions of the Disbrow surname as noted in Descendants of Thomas & Mercy (Holbridge) Disbrow: Part One, The First Six Generations compiled by Michael S. Disbrow for the Disbrow Family Association.

So how ancient is our honorable name? As it was applied to a small parish in the western part of the county of Northampton in England, it was in use by 1086 when mention was made of it in the “Domesday Book”. As it was then spelled Dereburg, Desburg or Diesburg – it didn’t bear much resemblance to the name we are familiar with, but eventually it came to be spelled “Desborough,” and the town is still known by that name today. Archeological discoveries made in the area show that there were both Celtic and Roman settlements at Desborough, and the place has quite probably been occupied for 2,000 years or more. There is more than one theory ascribed to how the place took its name. One is that it was called “Danesborough” because it was a place of refuge for the local inhabitants from the marauding Vikings. Or perhaps it was “Daysborough”, a place or borough of Judgement. (Disbrow, p.9)

Again, although I have been unable to obtain official documents of their wedding, some give 5 May 1842 as the date Erastus & Roxanna married in Milan, Erie County, Ohio and Roxanah (sic) is given as the name of his wife on the 1850 U.S. Census. We also don’t know the official date of her death but family records say it was at Milan, Erie, Ohio in 1853.

In 1850 Erastus Disbrow was living in Milan Twp., Erie Co., OH. In the census he’s listed as age 35, a carpenter, with Roxanah 35, Sylvester 7, Mary 9, Jane 3 and Hannah 1. By 1860 Erastus had married his second wife Betsey and the family was living in Michigan Twp., LaPorte Co., IN. (Disbrow, p. 197)

The official records of Huron County, Ohio give the date of Erastus & Betsey Ann Barker’s marriage as 30 July 1854. Interestingly, the 1860 U.S. Census lists a Marion Disbrow under Erastus name which is usually the slot where the name of a wife is entered. Then on the 1870 and subsequent censuses, Betsey A. is recorded in the wife slot. Some family historians, in their attempt to reconcile these two different names, combine them as Marion Betsey A. I don’t know who Marion is nor where Betsey Ann may have been when the 1860 census was taken so this remains a mystery; then again, it could be a recording error by the census taker.

Erastus & Roxanna’s children were: Lemuel Sylvester born 1843, Milan, Erie County, Ohio; Mary Elizabeth born 20 October 1846, Milan, Erie County, Ohio;  Jane Fanny born 10 November 1847, Milan, Erie County, Ohio; Hannah Emma** born 7 July 1849, Milan, Erie, Ohio;  Robert Scott born 17 October 1851, Gilead, Branch County, Michigan.

Thomas Alva Edison’s Birthplace, Milan, Ohio.

Roxanna & Erastus’ daughter, Jane Fanny, my 2nd great-aunt, shares the same birth year (1847) and birthplace (Milan, Ohio) as does Thomas Alva Edison.  As his family lived at Milan before moving to Port Huron, Michigan when he was seven, one can speculate that Jane, as well as her older siblings, my great-uncle Lemuel & great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth may have been playmates with Edison or even attended the same grammar school.

Civil War Service


Sometime before 1860 the family moved from Ohio to Indiana. There, Lemuel Sylvester, Erastus & Roxanna’s eldest son, enlisted in the Grand Army of the Republic, 9th Regiment, Company B, Indiana Infantry at La Porte County, Indiana on 21 August 1861. Sadly, nearly four-years later he died on 20 June 1864 at Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia on the second day of what would be the biggest battle of the Civil War in Georgia. The battle was fought from June 19, 1864 until July 2, 1864. Lemuel was originally buried where he died but was later reinterred at the National Cemetery, Marietta, Georgia in Section N, Grave Number 4578. 

Union soldier figure atop monument at Baxter Springs National Cemetery; Bivouac of the Dead plaque at Wood National Cemetery; Flagpole and graves at Togus National Cemetery

By 1863, the family had moved to Mukwonago, Waukesha County, Wisconsin. On 16 February 1865, Erastus enlisted in the Union Army 48th Regiment, Wisconsin Infantry On 22 March it departed for St. Louis, Missouri. In April, the Regiment marched to Kansas. Erastus was a private in Company A which was assigned provost duty at Fort Scott until 25 August. In September, Company A was dispatched to Fort Zarah then assigned garrison duty at Fort Larned until December 1865.

According to this website, Legends of America, the role of Fort Scott during the Civil War was to house captured Confederate troops, however, its main purpose, before, during, and after the Civil War, was to serve as a “permanent Indian frontier” to “kept peace between white settlers, native peoples like the Osage, and relocated Eastern tribes.”  This was also true of Fort Larned where great-grandfather Erastus was stationed. 

His pension file shows that on 15 Apr. 1865 he was ruptured while fording Bear Creek on a march between Sedalia and Warrensburg, MO. Treated at Ft. Scott, KS. He was mustered out with his company at Ft. Leavenworth, KS, 30 Dec. 1865. In 1870 Erastus was residing at Poygan, Winnebago Co., a farmer, and was still there in 1877 when he applied for invalid pension for his service. Neighbors testified as to the “sad condition” Erastus was in since his return from the war: bronchitis, ulcerated liver, unable to do manual labor. Erastus and Betsey Ann went to live at the Wisconsin Veterans’ Home in Rural, Waupaca Co. in 1891, where they resided until their deaths. (Disbrow, p. 197)

WVH Chapel 1.jpg
Veteran’s Home Chapel — A Designated National Historic Site.

I have also located information in the 1895 State of Wisconsin Census which gives the name of E. Disbrow as a resident of a veterans’ home in Farmington, Waupaca County, Wisconsin.  This facility was later renamed as the Wisconsin Veteran’s Home. At the left is a photo of the Veteran’s Home Chapel established there by the Grand Army of the Republic.  

Erastus & Betsey had three children: Eugene Benjamin born. 24 January. 1859, Ashland, Ashland County, Indiana; William Henry born  1 May 1866, Eaton Rapids, Eaton County, Michigan; Georgianna born 1868, Oshkosh, Winnebago County, Wisconsin.

I end this account of my maternal 2nd great-grandparents, Erastus and Roxanna (Rogers) Disbrow by referring you to this account of our earliest ancestral immigrants to New England: Arthur & Susanna (unknown) Holbridge and their daughter Mercy whose second husband was Thomas Disbrow 1st:  Holbridge ~ Disbrow: Our Earliest New England Ancestors 

**The name of Erastus & Roxanna’s third daughter is confusing. In the 1850 U. S. Census her name is given as Hannah; 1860 it is Emma E., and another family historian (Michael S. Disbrow) has given her name as Amelia/Emma E., however until I learn otherwise I will accept her name as Hannah Emma. This serves to prove that extra care need be taken when recording ancestral ‘facts’.

I am in the process of annotating the Descendants of Thomas & Mercy (Holbridge) Disbrow: Part One, The First Six Generations & Part Two — Generations 7 through 13 compiled by Michael Disbrow. After I unravel all the loose ends I will post a history of our Disbrow line which begins with Thomas & Mercy as generation one through my generation fifteen..