Negus Story

Negus Story
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Written by Thomas Rea Negus ca 1913


I have been requested to assist in writing up the history of the Sargent family, and will gladly do my best to give for the benefit of the Sargent Reunion, all that I know and all that I have heard from Grandfather, Uncles and Aunts concerning the history of our ancestors,

About the year 1765 there came to the state of Maine an orphan lad who was a sailor from Scotland, and his name was Enoch Sargent. This man was the grandfather of the Uncle Enoch Sargent who many of us remember and of whom all have heard older ones tell about. (Grandson Enoch lived 1815-1885).

This young sailor was the father of this now numerous family whose

descendants are now scattered from ocean to ocean in the U.S. and it is very likely that altho a great many will be able to meet at the reunion, it will be a small percentage of the actual number who are now living.

Enoch Sargent lived in the state of Maine until the breaking out of the Revolutionary War. He enlisted and served under General Washington during that entire struggle for American independence -- and because of his long service, great strength and military powess, was made one of General Washingtons's guards. And at one time he saved Gen. Washington from capture by the British by throwing his overcoat over him to hide all evidence of his rank.

He must have been married before he entered the Continental Army, for his oldest son named Enoch was born in the year 1776. And from his lips when I was a boy, I have listened to many of the tales of the service of his father as a soldier, and especially of the suffering of the soldiers during the terrible winter at Valley Forge. I don't know how many children he had but I know there were two sons, Enoch and Sylvester.

Forty two years ago I met a man in Iowa who has a grandson of Sylvester Sargent, and he was born in the state of New York. Enoch Sargent the Second was twice married. I don't remember the maiden name of his first wife, but they had a family of four girls. The second wife's maiden name was Bacon. She was a widow and her first husband's name was Bugbee. She had 4 children, a boy called Elias, and 3 girls. And one of her brothers, Abraham Bacon, married this Enoch Sargent's oldest daughter. Her name was Alice and this is how the Sargent and Bacon families came to be related.

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And thus it will be seen that when this couple were married(Enoch Sargemt amd Mrs. Bugbee) they had to begin with 7 daughters and one son. And at this time (about the year 1812) they lived at Rutledge, Vermont. And the fruits of their union were 10 more children. The names of the daughters were Pruda Green, Sareptha Shreve, Lucinda Negus, Lucena Jones and Lucretia Wise. The sons were named Enoch, Sylvester, Timothy, Simeon and John. And all of these 18 children lived to be men and women, and were married. Later, this family moved to southwestern NY and lived on an Indian reservation on the upper Alleghany River where there were no public schools. These sons were all reared in the lumbering business, and in the spring when the ice went out, all rafted lumber down th river to Pittsburg, and then walked back. In those days the man that made the greatest number of trips down this rapid river and back over this long, tiresome walk made the most money. It required men of great strength, and these same Sargent boys were known and noted for their great strength and durability the entire length of the Alleghany River.

The three youngest of these, Timothy, Simeon, and John were soldiers in the Great Rebellion. Although all were married and had children, they enlisted and served in 2nd Corps of the Army of the Potomac under Gen. Handcock. Timothy was captured and one letter was received from him from Andersonville Prison and after that was never heard from. The others were both wounded, but served to the close of the war.

Sylvester was a carpenter and millwright. He built a houseboat and with his family floated down the Alleghany and up the Monongahela River into (West) Virginia before the war-- and was in sympathy with the Southern cause, if he did not actually serve as a soldier. He went away from his home about the year 1870 and was never afterward heard from.

Grandfather Sargent lived to be 95 years old. All of these fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles and grandparents have passed away. None of them gained great wealth or eminance. None of them was ever arrested for a crime. They lived in a time when hard labor and long hours was the order of the day. They were all very industrious, honest and cheerful. They have handed down to us a heritage of physical strenght that is of more value than gold. And by their example of Honesty, Charity, Fair Dealing, and Filial love, have bequeathed to us a religion that is better than all the "Isms" in creation.

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What I Know About the Origin and History of the Negus Family


Thomas Ray Negus of Millerstown,N.D.


Some years ago I wrote a brief history of the Negus family as I had been told it by my father and other relations but on reading it over I founnd some mistakes and in MY 74th year having too much spare time I have concluded to rewrite it more accurately and give more details that it may be better understood by those who may be interested in years to come.


Thomas Ray Negus

Millerstown, North Dakota July 30,I924

There lived a. man in England called Col. Negus who introduced a certain kind of drink made of wine, sugar and water and flavored with spices. This mixture was called Negus and was a popular beverage at that time-We learn from the definition of the name in Webster dictionary that he died in I734. It is generally believed that he is a relative of two brothers who came from England to Philadelphia Pa. about the year I700,whose names were John and Joseph Negus. John was a tanner and Joseph a blacksmith. They had learned their trades in England where all apprentices had to serve seven years to learn a trade.

Joseph was of a speculative turn of mind and he purchased a ship that was long overdue, and supposed by its owner to be lost, for a small sum of money, and next day his ship sailed in all o.k. From this niece of good luck he was in the ocean shipping business and soon after moved to Boston, Mass. From this time on very little is known of him.

I have met a Judge Negus of Fairfield, Iowa and known of Joseph Negus in Sioux City, both of whom came from the New England states and from the similarity of their given names have no doubt they are the descendants of the original Joseph. His brother John lived in Philadelphia and worked at his trade all the rest of his life. He was married and had one son called Shaidlock who was my, great grandfather. We have no knowledge that he had brothers or sisters. He also followed the trade of tanner and this business included making by hand all kinds of finished goods made of leather and furs. He had four sons and one daughter. [Their names were John, Esther, Joshua, West, and Joseph. Their father, Shaidlock was born in I734 and died in I806.He was the first one buried in the Negus Cemetery (Mt.Pleasant) in Bloomfield Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania and laid with his head to the north the only one I ever knew buried that way. My father said that was a Indian custom to show the direction from which he came So they lived in Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War when the British held possession of the city. The only daughter married Mr. John Rea and that's where my middle name came from. About the year I794 his wife having died Shaidlock with his four sons moved to S. W. Pennsylvania on Redstone Creek. They lived there ten years. While there Joshua married Ann Shreve who came from a family of Holland descent. Soon after they all moved to Bloomfied Twp. Crawford Co. Pa. In this company there must have been several women and twelve men and boys. They all rode on horseback or walked and all, their bedding, clothing, provisions and tools were carried on back horses. They followed exactly the same trail taken by George Washington when he was sent from Virginia to Ft. LeBoueff on French Creek to demand the evacuation of that country by the French forces just fifty one years before side these families there was a boy, William Rossell who seems to have been adopted by the Negus family. No one ever explained his origin to me and about which there seems to be a mystery. Along with their other goods they brought all their tanning tools and a small whiskey still belonged to the Shreve family.



Their trail was down the Monongahela and up the Allegheny River to the mouth of Oil Creek and up that stream to its source. Wild game was plentiful. Deer, wolves bear and panther abounded. The country had been surveyed into 400 acre tracts and each settler could take one for a homestead and in some future time pay the state twenty-five cents an acre. This state price on Grandfather's land was unpaid for 6I years after he made settlement for in I865 my father sold. twenty acres for$40.00 per acre that contained a swamp out of which flowed a branch of Oil Creek and one running north into French Creek for oil territory and he had to go to Harrisburg and pay up for the whole 400 acres. He also had to make a visit to his uncle Joseph in S. W. Ohio and pay off what he would call a judgement for $Ioo.oo for money loaned to his brother Joshua 50 years before. This debt was settled without adding any interest. All this had to be done before he could give a perfect title. When he came through Erie the body of Abraham Lincoln was there lying in state. If he had tried to get a view he would have had to stay over 24 hours.

Joshua, who was my grandfather (3r) and after whom my brother was named and one oF his brothers took land adjoining and built his log cabin near the line just west of the cemetery. His brother's land is now known as the H. E. Rossell farm. Grandfather lived there 28 years and then built forty rods further north. They were along way from market and made little use of store goods for each family made their own clothes and raised their own bread, made their own leather from the fresh hides, worked up their own wool flax and made their own sugar from maple trees-This was a heavily timbered country and overhead foliage was so dense that very little under-brush Grew. many soft water springs gushed from the side hills till they met and formed brooks. All the log cabins were built near a spring and Paths were made from one to another by blazed trees. These Primitive high-ways were slowly improved and the most of them are today the public roads running in any direction regardless of compass points,

A few stories will suffice to give a better idea of life in that wilderness. One time after Grandfather(Joshua)had Planted his crop he went to market in Franklin, forty miles away, with some pack horses laden with leather, furs and. maple sugar. He was delayed a long, time by high water and the ones left at home had to dig up the planted 'potatoes to keep from starving. Another time he went to help a neighbor hoe corn and on his way home late the wolves followed so close that he backed into a hollow tree and swung his hoe all night to keep from being devoured alive.

On the tenth of September, I8I3 they heard the cannons roar during the battle of Perry's victory on Lake Erie.

A few years after they settled here all three of Joshua's brothers moved to Ohio where a large settlement of Quakers had located. They believed in peace and non resistance and were thoroughly opposed to slavery. My Uncle John who was a leader in that community took stock in what was known as the underground R.R. to assist runaway slaves on their way to Canada where they were free-Slaves from Kentucky would be left it his home early in the morning, he would hide them and feed them until dark and then with his team and old fashioned carryall drive them north and leave them in care of another station master who would repeat the same operation. All this was kept up for years without pay other than for humanitys' sake. Although it was a crime to assist or harbor a runnaway slave in the eyes of the law.

In his declining years when 85 he drove from "Salem Ohio to West Branch, Iowa where one son and four of his daughter then lived. He died in I869 at age 90 years. My brother Joshua and I visited a dozen families of these relatives in I87I. They hold a family reunion there, one near Salem Ohio and one in N.W. Pennsylvania among the descendents of Joshua and Ann. The names of the children of Joshua and Ann were Thomas and Sharlot, both of whom died while Young. Then came Margaret (Murdock), Sarah(Akers),West, who was my father born July 20,I8I5,died I885 and is buried at Hurley,South Dakoto, Amy(Sargent Ann(Walling), Miriam(Anderson),and John who married Emeline Smith were twins Emeline (Darrow) and Maria(Rossell).Grandfather (Joshua) died in I854 when I was three years old.

My father, West, took his two little Boys in to take a last look at their grandfather. It was the first time I had looked at a dead person and I remembered it ever after and that is all I do remember of him Grandmother lived with her son John who kept the old place. She died in i866. I remember her well. She was a quiet good natured person always working at something and her pictures on the reunion cards are very natural.

When I was 3 1/2 years old Father took Mother, sister Pruda and I to visit his aunts, uncles and cousins near Salem, Ohio in a two horse double seated buggy-He had lived among two years when a young man. It took three days to travel one way. This is the first time I had been away from home. I remember some things I had never seen before. A train of cars, a cider mill, and driving through a long covered bridge. I remember playing around Grandfather's old tan yard, and old log building with a work bench and tools used for tanning hanging on pegs 3 or 4 deep, square pits in the ground curbed up with split logs, long straight roles hollowed out for spouts to run water from the springs to the pits-and the arrangement for crushing dry hemlock bark, a track laid in a true circle of split logs laid flat side up, a stump in the center from which was attached a sweep and a big stone wheel 8 inches thick and four feet in diameter that was rolled around on this puncheon floor to grind bark. This stone was dressed out of a big rock by great Grandfather. It has been broken in two and is now used for a door step for a house on the same farm.

father used to tell me about driving a horse called Old Bob around this circle when he was a barefoot boy. Our schoolhouse was only 30 rods from our house door. We had 3 months school in summer and the same in winter. I never went to school summers after I was II years old. The school system today is far advance of those times but I doubt if the pupils 1 learn their lessons as well as they used to. Father was chairman of the twp. school board and examined the teachers and granted certificates. He taught, three terms there before I can remember and one in S.D. TO do the latter he rode a 2 year old colt "our miles from home when he was 67 years old. He served as one of the 4 Justices of the peace in Turner Co. for II years. He married many couples. His first was the first marriage ceremony ever performed in that county. Many lawsuits were before him and by his fair decisions and efforts to settle disputes gained the reputation of peace maker.

Five of Father's sisters and his only brother John 1ived and died less than two miles from their birthplace and three of Mother's sisters lived there and I had 50 first cousins who grew up near the same place. There were eleven children in our family, all grew to manhood and woman-hood and all married.

Our names Henriette (Hughes), Pruda(B1akeslee), Celia( messinaer), Joshua Enoch, Thomas Rea, Sereptha(Borland), Amy(Rolland), West John, Margaret(west) Simeon Sargent, and Ruth(Grant).Now in 1924 all are dead except the three youngest and myself. Father and Mother were married in I841 Christmas Day at the ages 26 and I8 by his uncle, Charles Shreve, a Justice of the Peace. Another uncle Ephriamin -Shreve and his wife, who was Mother's sister. were best couble at the wedding. This couple were the the parents of eight children, seven sons and one daughter. Dr. Shreve was their youngest son. My parents lived on the same farm for 30 years.

When the war of the rebellion broke out many of may older schoolmates enlisted and among them were three of Mother's brothers, Timothy, Simeon and John. About one in three ' never returned-Timothy died in Andersonville prison. Simeon was wounded Gettysburg and John at Antietam. Both came home on furloughs and returned when able to serve. When an officer came round to enroll all between the ages of I8 and 40 for the draft my father was one year too old. Uncle John Negus was draftee three times and hired a substitute each time. Quakers would not fight. Many men left their wives and children, for the government made no classification, and the women they left were called war widows. The men and boys at home cared for them in every way possible for soldiers only earned $I3.00 per month.

At that time Grandfather Enoch was still living although very old and he took great pride in his three soldier boys for they came from fighting stock. His father Enoch Sargent, was a soldier under Gen. Washington and he himself was born on Independence day I776 and died in I87I.

During the last years of the war five of us boys,I2 to I4 years of age organized a fife and drum band. Two fifes, two tenor drums and one bass. We got together for practice about once a week and played for picnics,celebrations and political meetings. In September I868 I went with-my brother-in-law and family in a covered wagon to Michigan-We drove to Cleveland in three days, then took a steam-boat, landed in Detroit and drove forty miles north west to Clarkston where my uncle Sim then lived-I worked for farmers until November and then went sixty miles north to North Branch and pulled the tail end of a seven foot crosscut saw in the big pine timber until March when I concluded I had had enough of that and started home and had to walk sixty miles to the nearest railroad. I stayed at home one year and one month and helped Father build a big barn for himself and four others for our neighbors.

Went to Bethany, Missouri, where brother Joshua had gone two years before Walked fifty miles on the end of this jouney from the end of the railroad to save paying ten cents per mile stage fare. We worked on farms and in a brick yard for $I5.00 per month until August. This country was newly settled with people from Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia. It was a hot locality during the war because people were so evenly divided politically. In August we each bought a pony and saddle and rode N.F. to Jefferson, Iowa, seven days through mud and rain in hot weather. This was the hardest journey I ever made. Uncle Daniel Akers lived there. He was the stingest old devil I ever met but prayed his fool head off every morning. We worked at making oak railroad ties until February, sold our ponies and went to Spring Dale Iowa, to visit in a large settlement of Quakers where many of Father's cousins lived. We stayed there until March and then took the train to Dakota where two of our cousins, Henry Murdock and Ellis Akers had taken claims. Came to Sioux City on the only railroad to that place, then rode in a six horse stage to Vermillion, walked out to Bloomingdale, there met J.W. Turner and were fired with ambition to get homesteads near where he was going to build a flour mill, so on the 25th of March 1871 we filed on homesteads in the north half of section 10 turner twp. We walked back to Sioux City, took train back to West Brancy, Iowa, and worked in a brick yard at $25.00 per month until July. It so happened that Father sold his farm in PA about the time we took our claims and the first of July he came to us in Iowa. WE three then came to Dakota, walked from Sioux City and Father filed homestead on the S.E. quarter of section 3. He bought a wagon and a big yoke of white oxen. We hauled lumber from Vermillion to build a house. He stayed with us three weeks and we slept under the wagon box turned upside down and did our own cooking over a campfire. None of us could make bread or biscuits so I mixed dough and fried it in a skillet in bacon grease. Our house was 16 X 24 one story. We made hay with a scythe, hand rake and pitch fork. We dug a well and later built a

And later built a sod stable. Our P.O. was in Turners at Swan Lake and I made it on foot about twice a week. We got word that our folk would be in Sioux City about September second. We put green willow boughs and a cover on the wagon and drive to the Sioux River Crossing in about two days. Went to the depot but were disappointed, went back to our camping place and the next day had better success for Father, Mother, their six youngest childre, C.W. Hill, his wife and three children, Edwin, Edna and Eddie Hodgkiss all were there. Mr. Hill bought a span of hourses and we got all the goods the had shipped out to our camping place that night. After two days travel we landed at our new home and fifteen of us lived there until Mr. Hill got his house built.

Our first winter in Dakota was a very severe one. We burned willows for cooking and warmth in a cook stove. We received mail twice a week. Hauled most of our hay fifteen miles. We hunted and trapped without much success.

The first of April Uncle Simeon Sargent, Junie and his brother Simeon came and then we were not so lonesome. L bought a pair of steer, unbroke, three years old for $65.00 with money I earned in Iowa. Brother Joshua brother a pair four years old and we with Father's oxen and horses hooked up two breaking teams, turned over sixty-five acres on his place and planted it to corn by chopping open the sod and dropping in the seed-This promised to make a fine crop until the last of July when grasshoppers came and destroyed. it all. Father sowed five acres oats by hand and cut it with a cradle, running the next winter I cut four foot wood for 75 cents river cord and paid $3.00 a week for board just across the Missouri river from Vermillion. The wood was used to fire the first R. R. engine that ever run in Dakota, from Sioux City to Yankton. From there home forty miles, I walked six times and always made it in a day. In the spring I sowed fifteen acres of wheat by hand and dragged it in with an eight foot drag with my steers-In August I873. I went out on a government survey.Ou r work was near where Grace Valley now is, then eighty miles from the last settler. We lived in a tent and silent on the ground for two months.We stood guard every night to keen the Indians from stealing our horses and grub. There were eight of us. Each carried a heavy revolver and each was supplied with a, seven shot carbine. Some surveying parties had been driven out but we being well armed they did not tackle us but tried several times to stampede our horses. We saw great droves of antelopes, thousands of dogtowns with white owls and rattlesnakes. Our drinking water was taken from sloughs and ponds. Our grub stake consisted of flour . hardstack, beans and coffee no potatoes and canned goods were on the market then. We ran out of tobacco and chewed wild sage. On our way back we found at Milltown on the James river a large settlement of Russians who had located while we were out and their donation to this vast plain is the Russian thistle.

In the fall of I874 grasshoppers had taken their toll and all were hard pushed for the bare necessities of life so I made a break for the Michigan Pinenuies, carried my grip and walked to Sioux City, paid $I50.00 for ticket to Chicago, got off the train fourteen miles this side, had a 50 cent scrip left (no hard money in circulation since I86I). Soon hired to a farmer for 50 cents a day and worked two weeks, rode into the city on a load of straw that sold for $I4.00 tramped through the city till I found headquarters of a Menominee lumber company got passage for that town on a lumber barge with board, went aboard and just at sundown three boats with sails cabled 300 feet apart and led by a small steamboat. These boats were all empty with eight sailors on each and no place for passengers I slept in a small dark room in the prow and took my meals in the cabin at the poop end of the boat. We had high head winds and it took three full days to make the port at Menominee. The waves rolled twelve feet high and the empty boat made caterwampus over them.

The first job I got was shoving lumber helping load one of these boats at 35 cents per hour and I had never received so high wages before. I soon hired for the woods and went the river fifty miles into the virgin forest We Ditched our tent alongside a small lake and built a big low shanty out of round logs and shingled it with split cedar shakes, floored it with logs half hewn and laid flat side up Long benches of the same material with two inch pins for legs. I was appointed head carpenter and made, the table selves, window and door frames with doors from 300 feet of flooring which was all the sawed lumber we had-I built a double row of bunks out of pelled tamarack poles with shakes for springs and an armful of hay with blankets completed our beds for 25 men.


I also built a two winged stable. When we were read to cut and haul logs to the river we were minus a camp scaler and I was the only one in the bunch willing to undertake the job. My job was to measure the amount of lumber in each log, keep the length of the logs, the number of logs and keep the amount separate for each team. Make a report to the camp each night and report to the head of the company each week. Brand each log with a nail on each end and all this for $24.00 a month and board. Our board consisted of bread, salt pork, venison, black strap molasses, beans, potatoes and tea. No buttermilk or coffee-Our supply teamsters few hunters and some Indians were all the outside company we had, wolves, bear and deer were plenty.

I came home by the way of Chicago and Council Fluffs, was snow bound for three days at Boone,Iowa and walked from Vermillion.

The first ten years was a very trying time for all homesteaders in South Dakota and all those who could drive back to their former homes did so and many left between two days to set into another state and avoid their creditors for all farm machinery had been freely sold without security and many such debts were never paid. We all used twisted hay for fuel and many everyday clothes were made of grain sacks. An ox team or an Indian pony were the only means of travel. The stores refuse a11 credit and no banks to loan money at any price. I served as constable and deputy sheriff, made many arrests, replevins, and subpoenas when county warrants were only new settlers came all were only worth 40 cents on the dollar in trade. No the other fellow alike and no one could laugh at