John Bolton is one of my ancestors whom I know little about but led a eventful life. He came over from England ahead of my Chicken ancestors and patented some virgin land in Wisconsin. From the satellite, it is all timber with some pastures in the very northeast corner and east edge. Whether even those pastures were there in the time of 1848, four years after he came over and the date of the patent, I will never know. I've always thought that if I were ever up in that area, I would like to find the owner of those 40 acres and see if they would allow me to walk over them.
John came over to America in the summer of 1844 with wife Mary on the baroque ship the Joseph Cunnard, named after the man who designed it. It arrived in New York City and after a period of time, John and Mary arrived in the southeast corner of Wisconsin. In 1846, their first child Selina Jane was born and four years later my 3rd great grandmother Frances Ann was born. Whether John was around to see the birth is debatable.
The following year after obtaining the land patent, gold was found in California leading to a rush of settlers seeking their fortunes. Though John was listed as a farmer, southeast Wisconsin was a mining area for lead and was full of miners, including my Chicken ancestors. From the history books, many of these miners set off in late 1849 and early 1850 to seek their fortunes in California and I assume John Bolton was one of them. Two facts lead me in this assumption. In the 1850 census, Mary and her two daughters were living with the Pilings, another English family that came over from the same part of England as the Boltons and the Chickens. John is nowhere to be found. In 1854, John and Mary had a son named Jeremiah born in California. So at some point, the family lived there.
Jeremiah wouldn't live past his teen years dying at age 17. His mother Mary and Selina would live out their lives in England as "fancy seamstresses" and Selina would marry and have four children of her own. Frances, would immigrate back to America for her second time around the end of the Civil War and marry Joseph Chicken, just back from fighting in the war and who would go on to change his surname.
I have no records of John other than his name in the ship log as he made his way to America and his land patent. I most likely have identified his parents in England as John and Margaret Milner Bolton but can't positively make that connection. I have no record of his death other than his wife Mary being listed as a widow in an 1861 English census. Until recently, I took this as fact but have found another John Bolton born in England around the same age that was a miner in California into the 1860's. So it is entirely possible that he wanted to continue that lifestyle and his wife decided she didn't and went back to England.
At this point, I will probably never find out what happened to John Bolton unless some rare document explaining his demise shows up someday. Without documentation on him, I will never be able to say for sure if his parents are whom I think they are. This branch on my family tree will most likely never grow any further. Other than that 40 acres of trees in southeast Wisconsin, I have no other ties to this man other than some of his blood and genes still running through my veins.
|John Bolton's 40 Acre Land Patent in Wisconsin|