Pioneer Families of Grand Traverse County, Michigan



Benjamin H. Durga (1836-1922) and Phebe Ann Fillmore (1839-1923)

Phebe Ann Fillmore was born on 29 September 1839 in Pennsylvania (probably in Potter County, where her parents were living in 1840), daughter of Ebenezer Fillmore and Harriet Bessey. She came to Michigan with her parents in the 1850s. Around 1858 or 1859, in Hillsale County, Michigan, she was married to Benjamin Henry Durga. Benjamin was born on 26 April 1836 in St. Lawrence County, New York, son of Joseph and Electa Harrington Durga. His parents moved to Hillsdale County, Michigan between 1840 and 1850. Benjamin's brother Ira Chase married Phebe's sister Susanah.

The Durgas moved to Grand Traverse County between 1864 and 1870, representing one of the pioneer families. Benjamin was the first supervisor of Long Lake twp. In 1870 the Durga farm was valued at $1000 and their personal possessions $700. Benjamin received a land patent for 160 acres of land in section 20 of Long Lake twp on 20 August 1873.

The Durga's lived with their six children in Long Lake twp. in 1880. Phebe became a member of the Long Lake Friends Church in 1881. Benjamin was named Justice of the Peace for three years in 1881. In July 1883, he purchased a grass moving machine, wire rake, a nice hack, and a set of harnesses. Benjamin lost a horse in April 1884, replacing it several weeks laster with a "good" horse. .

In 1900, Benjamin and Phebe lived on their farm with sons Elijah and Herbert. In 1910, they lived with their sons and granddaughter Grace. In 1920, the Durgas lived with their grandson Elton Durga.

Benjamin died from bronchopneumonia on 10 March 1922 in Grand Traverse County. His obituary was printed in the Traverse City Record Eagle on 11 March 1922.


Benjamin H. Durga, eighty six years of age, one of the oldest and beloved Pioneers of the Grand Traverse Region died Friday afternoon at five o'clock at his home near Long Lake after a short illness. Mr. Durga was born on April 26, 1836 in St. Lawrence County, New York and came to this region fifty seven years ago settling on the farm which has since been his home. Left to mourn their loss besides his widow Mrs. Phoebe Durga are two sons Emmett Durga of this city and Julius H. Durga of Long Lake besides many friends.

Funeral Services will be conducted Sunday afternoon at two o'clock from the Long Lake Church. Rev. L. L. Reese Pastor of Friends Church of this city officiating. Burial will be made in the Long Lake cemetery.

Phebe died 2 September 1923 in Grand Traverse County after suffering "mitral insufficiency". Her obituary was published in the Traverse City Record Eagle on 4 September 1923.


Mrs. Phoeba N. Durga, Long Lake Resident for 60 Years Died Monday

For 60 years Mrs. Pheba N. Durga lived on the same farm in Long Lake Township, and there she died at the age of 84 at 1:00 Sunday afternoon after a long illness. The Durgas were among the first pioneers of Long Lake township and their farm is one of the oldest in the county.

Mrs. Durga leaves two sons, Julius of Long Lake township and Emmett of Traverse City: one sister, Mrs. E. L. Ransom and several grandchildren. Her husband preceded her in death March 10, 1922.

Funeral services are being held this afternoon at Long Lake Church in charge of Rev. William Paulson of this city.

Both Phebe and Benjamin are buried in Linwood Cemetery.


i. Hattie A Durga born ca 1862/63, probably in Hillsdale County, Michigan.

ii. Ulysses B Durga born July 1864 in Hillsdale County, Michigan.

iii. Alonzo Durga was born in December 1866 in Michigan. Alonzo (also called Lonnie) was a student at Long Lake in 1880 and 1881. In July 1883, he launched a new row boat at the lake. In November he went to work in the lumber woods. He died on 17 August 1884 at Long Lake, Grand Traverse County, Michigan a victim of drowning. He is buried in Linwood Cemetery. The Grand Traverse Herald for 21 August 1884 reported on the accident: The sad intelligence reached our ears this evening that Alonzo Durga, the son of Mr. & Mrs. B.H. Durga died today about eleven o'clock a.m. very suddenly. He and his brother U.S. Durga were at Elijah Ransom's and they went down to the river close by to bathe. Alonzo said to U.S., "I will take this small board and float out a few feet from shore", and did so. When but a few feet from shore he began to sink, and did not rise. U.S. called for Mr. Ransom, as he could not swim, to come and get him out. He did so in about four minutes after he disappeared, but life was extinct. Every means were used to bring him to life, but to no avail. It is thought that he died from heart trouble or something of a like character. The funeral services will be conducted by Rev. Jno Clark at the friends church tomorrow at 2 o'clock p.m. The friends of the deceased have the heart felt sympathy of the community. Alonzo is buried in Linwood Cemetery.

iv. Emmett C Durga born November 1868 in Michigan.

v. Julius Hannah Durga born March 1872 in Michigan.

vi. Morgan B. Durga born 19 July 1874 in Long Lake twp. He died on 7 July 1885 at Long Lake from blood poisoning and is buried in Linwood Cemetery. The Grand Traverse Herald reported on 23 July 1885: Morgan Durga, son of Mr. and Mrs. B. H. Durga, died on the 7th inst. The funeral services were conducted by Rev. Jno. Cook. The parents have the sympathy of the neighborhood in this hour of trouble. This makes four children that they have been called to give up within the past four or five years.

vii. Elijah L Durga born 16 November 1876 in Long Lake twp. He died 11 February 1917 at Long Lake after having a cerebral hemorrhage. He was single and worked as a farmer. He is buried in Linwood Cemetery.

viii. Eliza E. Durga was born 15 November 1878. She died 17 February 1917 and is buried in Linwood Cemetery.

ix. Cora Durga born 17 September 1884 in Long Lake twp. She died on 3 December 1884 in Long Lake twp. Cora is buried in Linwood Cemetery.

x. Herbert M Durga born 8 March 1886 in Long Lake twp. He died 2 February 1920 and is buried in Linwood Cemetery.

Pioneer Families of Grand Traverse County