Pioneering Families
... with Roots in Madison County

Index to
  James Rensselaer Northrup, whose fine homestead farm adjoins the city of Adrian on the west, has here maintained his home for nearly forty years and is one of the honored citizens of the county. He is now living virtually retired but still maintains an active interest in the supervision of his farm. He comes of a long line of American ancestry, the family having been first established in Connecticut in the first half of the Seventeenth century. The first American ancestor was Joseph Northrup, who was a member of the company that came from England in the ship "Hector and Martha," which landed at Boston, July 26, 1637. This company, known as Easton and Davenport's company, was mostly from Yorkshire, Herfordshire, and Kent, in England. It is thought that Joseph Northrup was from Yorkshire. Be this as it may, in 1639 he became one of the settlers at Milford, Conn., and he was one of the signers of the document that laid the foundation for the government of the "plantation." The colonists of Milford lived at a time when there was danger from hostile Indians, as their settlement was made shortly after the Pequot war. Although they purchased their lands of the tribes then in possession, and sought their friendship in every way, yet soon there were indications of hostility, and as a protection the colonists built a palisade of logs enclosing a mile square, within which they had their dwellings. The Indians became hostile in 1645-6, guards were kept on duty day and night, and the colonists carried their rifles with them, even when they went to church. The Indians were again troublesome in 1653, and in 1700 there was much danger and a general alarm was felt throughout the country for three or four years. Joseph Northrup was married to Frances Norton about 1647, and he died Sept. 11, 1669. The line of descent from this early immigrant to the subject of this review is as follows: Joseph (the immigrant), Joseph (second), Moses, Amos (first), Amos (second), and Renssellaer, who is the father of him whose name initiates this article. James Rensselaer Northrup was born in Madison county, New York, July 22, 1837, and as already stated is a son of Rensselaer Northrup and his wife, Clarissa (Judd) Northrup, the former of whom was born in Berkshire county, Massachusetts, and the latter in Connecticut, a daughter of Ansel and Electa (Jones) Judd. Rensselaer Northrup became one of the successful farmers and representative citizens of Madison county, New York, where both he and his wife continued to reside until their deaths. Concerning their children the following brief data are given: Ansel Judd Northrup, a prominent lawyer and jurist and an author of some note, is a resident of Syracuse, N.Y.; Cornelia Bee is the widow of Catlette M. Harlow, and resides in Binghampton(sic), N.Y.; James Rensselaer, of this sketch, is the third in order of birth; Emily is the widow of Gen. Dwight Hall Bruce, late brigadier-general in the New York state militia, and resides in Syracuse, N.Y., her husband having died in August, 1908; Milton Harlow, who met his death by being struck by a suburban car, in August, 1906, was editor and publisher of the Syracuse Courier for several years, and also served as postmaster at Syracuse under both of Cleveland's administrations; Edwin died at the age of twenty-one years; Mary Alice resides in Binghamton, N.Y.; William Perry is a successful physician and surgeon in New York city; and Clara died at the age of sixteen years. James R. Northrup gained his rudimentary education in the district schools of his native country, and supplemented this by attending Peterborough Academy and Cazenovia Seminary. He remained in his native county until 1870, when he came to Michigan and took up his residence in Lenawee county, where he purchased his present farm on May 20 of that year. He has developed this property into one of the fine farms of the county, and has made the best of improvements, including the erection of the handsome modern residence. Owing to impaired vision he has not given his personal attention to the work of his farm for several years past. His homestead comprises eighty acres and is maintained under a high state of cultivation. He is a staunch Republican in politics, he and his wife are members of the Presbyterian church and their attractive home is a center of gracious hospitality. At Lenox, N.Y., on Oct. 13, 1869, Mr. Northrup was united in marriage to Miss Flora Electa French, who was born at Bridgeport, Madison county, that state, Aug. 27, 1847, and who is the only child of Charles and Catherine (Fowler) French, the father being a native of Stepny, Conn., born Dec. 19, 1819, and the mother was born in Clockville, Madison county, New York, Feb. 15, 1824. The father died at Bridgeport, N.Y., Sept. 14, 1867, and the mother passed the closing years of her life in Adrian, with her daughter, where she died Oct. 13, 1875. The paternal grandparents of Mrs. Northrup were Ephraim and Betsey (Edwards)French, both natives of Connecticut, where the former was born April 16, 1790, and the latter Feb. 18, 1793. The maternal grandparents were David and Polly (Pettitt) Fowler, the former of whom was born Jan. 20, 1781, and the latter July 4, 1784. Mrs. Foweler died Aug. 9, 1836 and Mr. Fowler subsequently wedded Miss Phelissa Lewis, who was born Nov. 13, 1796, and died June 15, 1866. The paternal great-grandfather, Capt. Ephraim French, of Trumbull, Conn., was called out as a member of the Colonial militia at the time of the burning of Danbury, Conn., by the British troops, and his wife was a daughter of Major Winton, of the British army. The great-great-grandfather and his sons were ardent and faithful patriots and worked hard throughout all of those eventful years for American independence. Mrs. Northrup received the larger part of her schooling at Union Springs, N. Y. and completed her educational training in Cazenovia Seminary, and she was a successful and popular teacher in the schools of her native county for a short time prior to her marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Northrup became the parents of one child, Clara, who was born on the home farm in Adrian township, Nov. 17, 1872, and who died March 14, 1884. 

Source: Anonymous. Memoirs of Lenawee County, Michigan: from the earliest historical times down to the present, including a genealogical and biographical record of representative families in Lenawee County. Madison, Wis.: Western Historical Association, 1909, 1627, pp. 491-493.



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