| the Townsend Surname | our Family Tree | key Townsend Ancestors |

the Townsend Surname . . .

The Townsend, or Townshend, families of England and America are of mixed Saxon and Norman origin, and of great antiquity in the county of Norfolk, England.   An early form of the name was Atte Townshend, "at the town's end," adopted, no doubt, in accord with the statute set up in the time of Henry V, which provided that not only the name of an individual should be inserted in a writ or indictment, but his estate or degree, his calling or business, and the town or district in which he resided.   Thus, George, the smith, became George Smith, etc.   The first part, "Atte", seems to have been dropped during the XIV century, and from this time down to the dawn of Puritanism as many as twelve different ways of spelling the name have been found.   Thus: Townshend, Tounneyeshende, Towneshende, etc.   About 1500 the name was abridged to Townsend, but about the year 1580 the chief family at Raynham, finding that this mode gave an incorrect signification to their name, as they were the land-holders, stadt-, or town-holders of the section of the country, again began to use the "h" in the last syllable, "hend" being derived from "hand," (Saxon, henden) or the Latin root, "hendere," used only in composition, meaning to "take", or "to hold."
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our Family Tree . . .
According to our Family Lore, and newspaper reports, Dr. Irwin Townsend, reportedly had traced the family back to Lord Charles Townshend (note the spelling).   Charles Townshend, Chancellor of the Exchequer to King George III of England was responsible for the imposition of the "Townshend Taxes" on the American colonies, which led to the Boston Tea Party.   However, we have yet to find proof of that link.   It will be a very interesting Family Tree indeed if we are able to document that link, because there is an abundance of information on Lord Townshend and that era.

More closer to our time, we have Gilbert G. Townsend, b. 14 Apr 1804 in NY.   He moved his family to Michigan sometime between 1845 (the birth of his ninth, and last child) and 1863.   We know a good deal about several of his children, and are in touch with descendants of two significantly documented branches of this tree.

One of Gilbert's children, and my ancestor Levi, became the common ancestor of many we know in the Peterson, Roberts and Townsend Families.   Levi played an active role in the Civil War.   Wounded in the head, passed up as dead, he lay unconscious on the battle field three days until a friend finally found him, dragged him back and took him to an Army hospital.   Such was the "close call" that he faced, as did other ancestors in our history, that could have brought an end to this branch.   Levi would survive, albeit with a silver plate in his head, marry, and move his family to Dakota Territory to homestead, where he and his Peterson, Roberts and Townsend descendants would make their mark.

Another of Gilbert's children, Ezekial, is the ancestor of many known family members.   We are fortunate to have contact with two long-time family history reseachers, one in each of the two significant family branches of Seeley and Townsend, Linda Curtis and Faith Poole, who have provided many important documents and pictures.

The prime collector and researcher of this Townsend Tree, and related surname families featured in this Web site is Donald W. Roberts Jr.   Don and several descendants of Ezekial and Levi Townsend, including several Family History Genealogist maintain contact with each other.

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key Townsend Ancestors . . .

Lord Townshend . . .   Our earliest known ancestor, as previously reported by early Family researchers, but as yet otherwise unsupported was Lord Townshend (note the spelling of his name).   As of this date, we cannot accept this as factual.
Ezekial Townsend . . . was born 6 Jan 1836 in Cattaraugus, NY. . . . (to be added)
Levi Townsend . . . was born 23 Apr 1839 in Leon, NY., and was living with his parents and siblings in Michigan when the Civil War broke out.   He enlisted in the Union Army Co. I, Fifth Michigan Infantry, 7 Aug 1861 at Fort Wayne.   He was mustered 28 Aug 1861. Corporal 10 Jul 1862, Sergeant Dec 1862, discharged for disability at Alexandria, VA, 23 Mar 1863 on account of wounds received in action.   Wounded in the head, he had been passed up as dead, laying unconscious on the battle field three days until a friend finally found him, dragged him back and took him to an Army hospital.   They operated on him and inserted a silver plate in his head which was with him the rest of his life.   In 1882, he brought his family to Dakota Territory by rail as far as Watertown, which is as far as the train could go at that time.   They came to Watertown on a railroad promotion, whereby the railroad furnished each family with a box car, one half being used to live in, while the other half was to carry livestock and possessions.   From there, Levi, his wife and 5 children then traveled the approximately 100 miles to their claim south east of the present town of Mansfield SD by oxen and covered wagon.   They lived a short time on the homestead between Northville and Mansfield but found out they could acquire more land further West so they moved to Fairview Township and established their homestead there.   This location was about six miles north of where Cresbard was eventually build.   A 29 Aug 1912 Northville SD newspaper article noted that Levi had been ailing with Brights disease for a long time when he passed away.
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