Charles Sexton

Charles Sexton


Charles Sexton was born on December 12, 1829 in Waterbury, Connecticut. He was the son of Henry Youmans Sexton and Roxa Adams. Charles was the brother of my great-great-grandmother Jane Ann Sexton. Charles married Nancy M. Lewis on October 7, 1852 in Brunswick, Medina County, Ohio. The newlyweds moved to Duplain, Clinton County, Michigan in 1852 in the company of the family of Curtis and Artemesia Hyde Fuller as well as Ira Allen and his wife. The trip took sixteen days using their combined ox-teams.

Charles and Nancy had eight children:

See the 1880 U. S. Census Record for Charles and his family. At this time Charles's sister Ellen Eliza Sexton was also living with him.

Charles and Nancy were among the earliest members of the Elsie Free Will Baptist Church. The name of this church came from their belief that "God was not willing that any should perish, that a full atonement had been made for the sins of all and that every man might, if he would, on his own free will, come to Christ." Other early members of this Baptist community included my great-great-grandfather Franklin James Tillotson and his wife Jane Ann Sexton, the sister of Charles. Prior to 1864 the Baptists and the Methodists shared use of the Methodist church which had been built in 1860. In 1864 a committee composed of the Reverend Ira Allen, Charles Sexton, Franklin Tillotson, Aaron Sickels, and B. Kelley was appointed to study the feasibility of constructing a separate Baptist church building. Aaron Sickels donated the land for the church, Chauncey Searles drew the blueprints, and Charles Sexton supervised construction.

Nancy died of cancer in Elsie, Clinton County, Michigan on December 14, 1900 (see her obituary). Charles later married Martha Wooley in 1903. Charles died of La Grippe (influenza) on December 24, 1905 (see his obituary).

The following biographical information about Charles Sexton comes from the book Past and Present of Clinton County by Judge S. B. Daboll, published in 1906.

Deacon Charles Sexton, numbered among the early settlers of Michigan and of Clinton County and for years one of the successful farmers of Duplain Township, now makes his home in Elsie. He still owns, however, a farm of eighty acres within one mile of the village and it returns to him a gratifying annual income. He has lived in the county since 1850 and possessing a remarkable memory of early events, he relates in an interesting manner many of the incidents which have left their impress upon the public life and development of this part of the state.

A native of Connecticut, Mr. Sexton was born in Waterbury on the 12th of December 1829, his parents being Mr. and Mrs. Henry Sexton. His father was born in New York City, was a mechanic and for seven years worked in a clock factory. He also engaged in shoemaking for a number of years and on removing from Connecticut about 1836 he took up his abode in Medina County, Ohio, settling on a farm in the town of Brunswick, on which he reared his family.

In 1850 he removed to Michigan, coming with his son, Charles Sexton, he entered land from the government in Duplain township. Charles Sexton up to this time had accompanied his father on his various removals and after they became landowners in Clinton County he cleared and fenced the land erected buildings thereon and opened up a good farm. He also assisted in clearing and improving other farms, on which he put good residences, barns and other outbuildings. For many years he was actively connected with agricultural pursuits but eventually removed to Elsie, where he purchased a residence and made his home for three years. During that time, however, he gave much of his attention to the work of the old homestead property.

Mr. Sexton was married first in Ohio, returning to that state, where in October 1852, he wedded Miss Nancy M. Lewis, a native of New York, who went to Ohio in her girlhood days. She was a faithful companion and helpmate to her husband for many years and her death occurred in Elsie on the 14th of December 1900. In their family were three children who are still living: Alice, the wife of George Meacher, of Otsego County, New York; Melvin M., a business man of Gaylord, New York; and Ernest J., who follows farming near Elsie. They also lost five children: Martin V., who died at the age of six years; William J., who also passed away when about six years of age; Dr. Harry L. Sexton, who died when a young man after having graduated from the Cleveland Medical College; George E., who was a teacher and died at the age of twenty one years.

On the 4th of June 1903 in St. John's, Mr. Sexton was again married, his second union being with Mrs. Martha Wooley, a native of Canada, who came to Michigan when a child and was reared and educated in Ingham and Jackson Counties. Her father was Rev. William E Whitney, a minister of the Freewill Baptist Church. She first gave her hand in marriage to Isaac Wooley and they located in Gratiot County, where he followed the occupation of farming and remained up to the time of his death, which occurred in 1896. He was a prominent farmer there for thirty-seven years and passed away at the age of sixty-seven years, leaving one son, James A. Wooley, who is now residing in Elsie.

Mr. Sexton was a republican in his political views for many years but now gives his support to the Prohibition Party. He served as commissioner of highways for six years, was a long time member of the school board and has been a member of the village board. He holds membership in the Freewill Baptist church, was one of the building committee at the time of the erection of the house of worship at Elsie, and has served as church trustee, while in the work of the church he has been very active and influential. He also served as chorister for a number of years, was one of the first Sunday school superintendents and was clerk of the church for twenty-seven years. His efforts in behalf of the church and Sunday school have been far-reaching and beneficial and he is now the oldest deacon in the church.

In April 1900, he took up his abode in Elsie, where he has since made his home. He is honored as a man of genuine worth, of high principle and of unfaltering fidelity to whatever he believes to be right, and throughout the community he has commanded the respect and confidence of all with whom he has come in contact.

An earlier biography of Charles Sexton appeared in Portrait and Biographical Album of Clinton and Shiawassee Counties. Mich. published by Chapman Bros., Chicago, 1891. This biography states that Charles was the oldest of his father's children. This was not correct, as Jane Ann (at least) was older. However, Charles was the oldest son who lived to adulthood, and Jane Ann was already married to Franklin Tillotson when the Sextons moved to Duplain.

Charles Sexton, a resident of Duplain Township, Clinton County, prominent in both agricultural and commercial circles, was born in Waterbury, New Haven County, Connecticut on December 12, 1829. His parents, Henry Youmans and Roxa (Adams) Sexton, were natives of New York City and Connecticut respectively. The father was brought up in New York City, and the mother had her education and training in the city of Waterbury. The father owned a farm and also pursued his calling as a clockmaker and repairer, and he was assisted by his son in the farm work.

The subject of this brief biography came to the Wolverine State when he was in his twenty-first year, and located in August, 1850, on section 13, Duplain Township, Clinton County. As he was the eldest of his father's family and his help on the farm was early demanded, he had not opportunities of going to school as he would otherwise have had. He, therefore, received no more than a very ordinary common-school education. He began life as a farmer when he came to Clinton County, and there took up one hundred and sixty acres through the purchase of a soldier's bounty land warrant, making his selection in Duplain Township. Two years later he exchanged this property with his father for the eighty acres on section 13.

His union for life with Nancy M. Lewis was celebrated October 7, 1852. The lady is a daughter of William and Abigail Lewis, whose home was on a farm in Brunswick, Medina County, Ohio. Eight children came to make this home a happy and joyous one, namely: Martin B., born July 27, 1853; Alice A., August 18, 1855; William J., March 28, 1860; Harry L., November 22, 1862; Melvin M., April 14, 1864; George E., August 8, 1867; DeForest, July 25, 1874; and Ernest J., March 26, 1878. Of this happy household, Martin, William J., George, and DeForest have been called to a better land; Alice is now Mrs. George C. Meecher, and resides in Otsego County, Mich.; Harry lives in Cleveland, Ohio; Melvin is married, and like his elder sister lives in Otsego County; and Ernest is at home with his parents.

Ever since coming to this part of the country Mr. Sexton has been engaged in agricultural pursuits and has operated a threshing machine for ten seasons. He has also sold organs, pianos, and sewing machines. He has long been interested in stock-raising and keeps a number of excellent cows supplying milk to the cheese factory. He has filled the office of Chorister in the Baptist Church at Elsie for more than thirty years, but within two years past has felt it incumbent upon him to withdraw from this position of responsibility.

Mr. Sexton was at one time Constable, and for six years has filled the position of Highway Commissioner. Until a few years ago he ranked himself as belonging to the Republican party, but now stands with the Prohibitionists and attends most of the Prohibition conventions in the State.


The photo of Charles Sexton appeared in Past and Present of Clinton County by S. B. Daboll, published in 1906 by S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago. Garry Myers provided the photo of the Martin family. Thomas Tompkins provided the other photos.


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Last modified by pib on April 13, 2014.