John Eli Udell - Place of Birth

Friday, February 15, 2019 9:41 PM

Similar to my last article I would like to offer my opinion as to the birthplace of John Eli Udell, my great-grandfather. I believe that generally the earlier the record, the more likely it is to be accurate. So we will review a number of extant records for where and when John Eli was born and attempt to draw a conclusion from those records.

The 1851 census for Canada West, Ontario County, Pickering Township, part 2 lists John Udell and his wife Eunice (Spencer), John Eli’s parents and four children George (age 11); Mary J. (age 10); Katherine (age 8); and, John (age 6). The census also lists all members of the family being born in Canada West (Ontario).

The 1861 census for Uxbridge, Canada West, adjacent to Pickering, lists John Udell, age 43 and his second wife Margaret Westunberger: along with George (age 20); Catherine (age 17); John (age 15); Wellington (age 6); Washington (age 4) and Agnes (age 1). The last 3 children were by Margaret since they are recorded as marrying in 1853. The whole family are recorded as being born in Canada.

John Udell, John Eli’s Udell’s father, his second wife and younger children moved[i] to Michigan in 1866, when John Eli was about 20 years old. The 1870 census for Speaker, Sanilac, Michigan lists John and Margaret Udell, with four more children now born, the youngest being Nancy. John Udell eventually died on 25 September 1903 and is buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Melvin, Sanilac County, Michigan.

Now if we go to the 1874 marriage record of John Eli and Margaret Degeer, we find that the record states that John Udell was the son of John and Eunice Udell and that Margaret was the daughter of William Pearson and Fanny Degeer, and that they were born in Pickering, Ontario and Markham, Ontario respectively. The marriage took place in the Stouffville parsonage on the 5th of November 1874, John being 28 years of age and Margaret 24 years old. They were both living in Stouffville at the time. This would put John's birth year as 1846 and Margaret as 1850.

In 1891 John Eli Udell and his family were living[ii] in Orillia, Simcoe East. Their children are listed as Lance (age 15); Mary M. (age 13); John (age 11) and George W. (age 5) my grandfather. John’s birthplace and that of his parents is listed as Ontario. John’s birthdate is listed as about 1850.

By 1901 Jane (age 9) and William (age 4) have been added to the family and the father John Eli’s birthdate is shown as 1843, and his birthplace remains Ontario.

 From the forgoing we can conclude that John Eli was born in Pickering, Ontario and his wife Margaret Degeer in Markham, Ontario. There remains some uncertainty as to their birthdates but John Eli was born sometime between 1843 and 1846, and Margaret between 1847 and 1850. 

[i] The 1900 census for Maple Valley, Sanilac, Michigan.

[ii] The 1891 census for District 116, Simcoe East, Orillia.


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