Pioneer Families of Grand Traverse County, Michigan



Elijah Leland Ransom (1848-1921) and Edna Helen Fillmore (1854-1931)

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Elijah Leland Ransom (1848-1921) and

Edna Helen Fillmore Ransom (1854-1931)

Ransom Family Bible

Elijah Leland Ransom was born 3 August 1848 at Algansee, Branch County, Michigan, son of Francis Drake Ransom and Chloe Streeter. When grown he was 5 feet 11 1/2 inches tall with brown hair and blue eyes and a light complexion. As a boy he lived and worked on his father, Francis Drake Ransom's, farm. It was the policy of Francis Ransom to take all of his son's earnings until they were twenty-one, at which time he would buy them a farm. Elijah was somewhat independent and decided to run away and join the Union Army during the Civil War. After a failed attempt, he was allowed to join Company H, 15th Michigan Infantry on the 30th of March 1865 in the place of his brother James A Ransom. Elijah served under the command of General John A. Logan and apparently saw little action. The only time he was ever shot as was during an attempt to steal corn while in Arkansas. Elijah was at Little Rock when he learned that Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated. He was mustered out there on 13 August 1865.

Elijah moved to Grand Traverse County in the spring of 1867, arriving at Traverse City on April 9th. At this time Traverse City was only about fifteen years old and was a lumber town. The vast forests of white pine that surrounded the area were gradually being cut down to supply timber for southern Michigan and especially Chicago. Elijah's father had previously purchased a sawmill at Lake Ann in Benzie County. Elijah took over the operation of the mill and later also ran a grist mill along what became known as Ransom Creek. In April of 1869 the Ransoms built a sawmill on the north fork of the Platte River.

Edna Helen Fillmore Ransom was born on 14 June 1851 in Steuben County, New York. She was the daughter of Ebenezer Fillmore and Harriet Bessey. As a child the Fillmore family moved from New York to southern Michigan. Later Edna would remember traveling on the Erie Canal. Most people moving west took the Erie Canal to western New York and then took a steamer to Detroit. The family underwent many hardships during the Civil War while Ebenezer was away. After he returned the family moved in 1866 to Long Lake. Edna would recall the journey by Conestoga wagon drawn by oxen on the trip northward. At least once they had to ford rivers with the wagons. On arriving at Long Lake, they were greeted by other family members who had moved previously.

Elijah and Edna were married on 19 November 1869 at Long Lake, Grand Traverse County, Michigan by John Benjamin. Family tradition states that Elijah was late to his wedding becauransomearly.jpg (13562 bytes)se of a snow storm. Edna had bought a new hat for her wedding from a millinery store run by her friend Ada Kate Pratt.

Elijah and Edna were quite successful, both financially and with their family. Beginning in 1871 with the birth of Francis Drake, they went on to have a dozen children. Francis, John Hans, Emma Olive, Ebenezer, Leland Elijah, Colonel, Harrison M, and Ada Kate were all born at Almira, Benzie County. Tradition says that Ebenezer received his name after Elijah's mother, Chloe Streeter Ransom, made fun of Edna's father's name while visiting the family while Edna was about to give birth. Edna retaliated by naming her child after him. Harrison was named after waiting to see who would win the 1888 presidential elections.

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Front row: Edna Fillmore Ransom and Elijah Ransom. Back row: Hattie Fillmore Moses, John H. Ransom, and an unidentified woman.

In November 1880, Elijah was operating his lumber mill near Lake Ann. The following March he was taking fence posts in to Traverse City. Elijah also operated a grist mill, except in July 1882 when he was ill. The Ransoms frequently visited relatives in Branch County and they in turn traveled north, including Elijah's father who visited twice in 1881.

                                                                                                                                                                Edna Fillmore Ransom

In October of 1883 Elijah bought land from his father for a farm, perhaps because the trees for lumbering were becoming scarce. Another possibility is that the death of Edna's brother Frank at the mill (see Ebenezer Fillmore family) in August 1883 may have made working there difficult.

Elijah received news of his father's death in March 1884 and traveled to Branch County with Edna to attend the funeral. The following July he lost a valuable horse. The Ransoms attended a donation party in Long Lake where money was raised for Rev. John Cook. Elijah was running his saw mill in February 1885. Later that spring he lost a valuable pile of lumber in a wildfire.

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The Ransoms circa 1885. Left to right:   Leland, Ebenezer, Emma, John, Francis, Edna, and Elijah.

In September 1891 the family moved for a brief time to Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan where Perry Hannah was born in March 1892. In April the family moved to Traverse City where Elijah ran a business until June of 1898 buying and shipping produce. Afterwards, he returned to dairy farming, purchasing a farm in Garfield township. In Traverse City Charles Kneeland, Althea, and Baby were all born. The latter two children died at an early age. Baby Ransom was not even named, although it was six months old when he died.

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Ransom Family. Back row (left-right):  Francis, John, Emma, Ebenezer, Leland, Colonel, and Harrison. Front row (left to right): Perry, Elijah, Charles, Edna, and Ada. Circa 1902-1905.

While living at 420 East Front Street in Traverse City, Elijah served as inspector of elections for two terms and also highway commissioner in Garfield township. He was an ardent Republican, "his study of the political issues of the day leading him to believe that its platform contains the best elements of good government". He was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the McPherson Post of the Grand Army of the Republic. He and Edna were members of the First Methodist Episcopal and Central Methodist churches at Traverse City.

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Elijah Ransom and his cows, circa 1900-1910, the white buildings in the background are the State Hospital structures.

In 1919 the Ransoms' fiftieth anniversary was celebrated with a dinner at the Lone Tree Mother's Club, hosted by daughter Emma. The surprise party with music and an oyster supper and the fifty guests stayed until a late hour.

Elijah died 18 August 1921 in Grand Traverse County. He had apparently fallen from a scaffold in his barn and later suffered a stroke. His brother Alvorado Ransom was present at his death and over one hundred automobiles were in the procession to his burial. His death was reported in the Herald (a newspaper from Branch County, Michigan).


E. L. Ransom

Mention was made in the Herald a few weeks ago of Mr. and Mrs. A. B. Ransom and daughter, Mrs. Maud Rosecrants of Coldwater and Mrs. Nettie Thompson of Battle Creek motoring through to Traverse City to visit E. L. Ransom a brother of A. B. who had fallen from a scaffold in his barn on July 6, was seriously hurt.

They stayed with him and relatives for a little over a week arriving in Battle Creek the morning of Aug. 10.

Mr. and Mrs. Ransom and Mrs. Rosecrants left for Coldwater the following morning reaching home at 10:30 a. m. At 2 o'clock the afternoon of the same day a telegram came stating his brother was much worse and to come at once. He immediately motored back to Battle Creek leaving there on the early car that connected in Grand Rapids with a train North, arriving in Traverse City at 4:15 the following morning. He was taken at once to his brother's home to find Mr. Ransom in a critical condition. A council of doctors revealed that the fact that a blood clot was forming on the brain. He also suffered a light stroke after Mr. Ransom arrived there and lay helpless until Aug. 18, 1921 when his life went peacefully out at 10:30 o'clock p. m. His son Perry, came from California a day or two before his death. He was able to realize it but could not speak. All that a loving and sympathetic wife, children and grandchildren could do for him was done, too much cannot be said of the tenderness and care shown him since the accident but human hands could not keep him wife us.

He was a man of good character, uprighness and integrity and widely known around Traverse City as one of the pioneer residents of the Grand Traverse region, and will be greatly missed among a host of relatives and a large circle of friends.

He was 73 years of age and was born in Algansee, Branch county, Mich. on the farm now known as the A. B. Ransom farm and was next to the youngest of five boys born to the late Mr. and Mrs. F. D. Ransom. In his early manhood he left his home and went to Northern Michigan to reside living in and around Traverse City most of his life. He was married to Miss Edna Fillmore who also resided in the North. To them were born 12 children, 8 living and 4 having preceded him in death. He was a kind husband, a loving father and grandfather. He passed away at his farm home two miles south of Traverse City where he has resided for a number of years.

His funeral was held at the house on Sunday, August 21 at 3 o'clock p. m. and was very largely attended there being over one hundred automobiles in the procession that carried his form to its last resting place.

The many and beautiful flowers were symbolic of the high respect he was held in the community.

A. B. Ransom remained until after the funeral, returning home Monday evening.

After his death Edna applied for and received a Civil War widow's pension. Edna died on 25 February 1931 at the family farm in Garfield township. Her obituary was printed in the 27 February 1931 edition of the Traverse City Record Eagle.



One of the Grand Traverse region's most prominent and beloved pioneer residents, Mrs. E. L. Ransom, passed away early this morning at her farm home south of the city, following a long illness. She was 79 years old.

Mrs. Ransom was formerly Miss Edna Fillmore. She was born in Stubend (sic) county, New York, June 14, 1851 and came to Michigan with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ebenezer Fillmore, when fifteen years old, locating at Almira, Benzie county, near Lake Ann, where they made their home. Thirty-eight years ago the family came to Traverse City, taking residence at 420 East Front street, and three years later moved to the present farm, one of the oldest landmarks of the region, which they developed into one of the finest in tthis section. A portion of the farm is now the Traverse City airport.

The life of Mrs. Ransom was an outstanding example of purposeful living and her death brings sorrow to a community in which she so long endeavorer to be of service to others. She was a devoted wife and mother and through her charitableness and kindliness, endear herself to innumerable friends.

Left to mourn their loss are two daughters, Mrs. James Harris residing west of the city and Mrs. Arthur Morton of Traverse City and sive sons, Francis, Edd, Colonel, Perry and Charles, all of this vicinity, besides 23 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren. Five sons preceded her in death and her husband Elijah Ransom, passed away Aug. 18, 1921.

Friends may view the body at the H. L. Weaver Funeral Home until Sunday afternoon at two o'clock, when services will be held at Central Methodist church, of which she was a valued life long member. Rev. William Chapman will officiate and the pallbearers will be chosen from among her grandchildren.

Both are buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Traverse City.


i. Francis Drake Ransom was born 22 December 1871 in Almira township, Benzie County, Michigan.

ii. John Hans Ransom was born on 8 April 1875 at Almira township, Benzie County, Michigan.

iii. Emma Olive Ransom was born 1 March 1877 in Almira township, Benzie County, Michigan.

iv. Ebenezer Ransom was born 12 April 1879 in Almira township, Benzie County.

v. Leland Elijah Ransom was born 2 September 1881 in Almira township, Benzie County.

vi. Colonel Ransom was born 21 July 1886 in Almira township, Benzie County.

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Colonel Ransom and his sister Ada Kate Ransom, circa 1889 (McManus Brothers, Traverse City)


vii. Harrison M(cKinley?) Ransom was born 27 June 1888 at Almira township, Benzie County. He died 17 June 1925 in Grand Traverse County.

viii. Ada Kate Ransom was born 24 July 1990 in Almira township, Benzie County.

ix. Perry Hannah Ransom was born on 18 March 1892 in Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan.

x. Charles Kneeland Ransom was born on 25 July 1894 in Traverse City.

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Perry and Charles Ransom, circa 1905-1910.

xi. Althea Ransom was born on 3 April 1897 in Traverse City. Althea died there on 21 June 1898 from "croupus bronchitis". The Grand Traverse Herald reported on 23 June 1898 (page 4): Death's Sudden Call. Mr. and Mrs. E. Ransom were called upon Tuesday afternoon to mourn the loss of their little daughter, Althear who died very suddenly after only a day's illness. She was taken with a sharp attack of bronchitis Monday morning but was not considered in special danger. She was a sweet little child, only fifteen months old, and will be greatly missed in her home. Funeral services were held at the house yesterday afternoon at 3 o'clock. Anna Ransom Feiger told a story about how little Althea's shoes were found in the fireplace ashes after the she died, apparently hidden their by the child.

xii. Baby Ransom was born on 6 August 1900 in Traverse City. He died there on 12 December 1900."The infant child of Mr. and Mrs. E. L. Ransom died Thursday. The funeral occurred Friday at the residence in Garfield township".

Pioneer Families of Grand Traverse County, Michigan