Twig, Tree and Treasure; A Genealogical Sojourn Francisco Family

A Brief Account Of 

 The Francisco Family

Compiled By

Alice Casad Francisco Ross - 1927

The first ancestor of the Francisco Family in America was HENRY FRANCISCO who was born in France, in 1686, and died in Whitehall, New York October 10th, 1820, aged 134 years. He has always occupied a prominent place in our family traditions on account of the great age to which he lived, but I have really known less of him than of my mother's family, possibly, because such details are more apt to be handed down from mother to daughter. Hoping some descendant of Henry Francisco might still be living in Whitehall, New York, I wrote to the postmaster there and eventually had some correspondence with “The Village and Town Historian.”  He told me there were practically no town or village records prior the year 1860. At that time the clerk's office was burned and all its contents completely destroyed. Some papers that were out of the clerk's office had been preserved and a few of the churches had records, but none of them earlier that 1840. There has been some doubt of his great age and it has been suggested that he was the grandfather of Solomon Francisco instead of his father; but Calvin Francisco must have known his grandfather, Henry, before he left New York in 1811, as he was then fifteen years old, and lived near Albany which is not far from Whitehall. In his later years he no doubt often heard his father, Solomon, speak of him - for they were both living in Cincinnati at the time of his grandfather's death. 

These circumstances should I think, cause us to give credence to the few family traditions we have of Henry Francisco. Calvin Francisco often spoke to his children of the great age of his grandfather, saying he lived 14 years in the 17th century, all through the 18th, and 20 years in the 19th; and that his grandfather used to tell his own children that his parents fled from France during a religious persecution, that he was at the crowning of Queen Anne, in 1702, and that he beat the drum at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704 when in Marlborough's Army.

Calvin also said that once when his grandfather was nearly 100 years old he attended an agricultural fair at Albany, New York, and at the request of friends, plowed several furrows with a yoke of oxen that had just taken the premium. At that time he stood so erect that if water were poured on the top of his head it struck his heels as it fell. I have an old pocket book which one belonged to our ancestor Henry Francisco. It is evidently “home made”  is arranged something like a “house wife”, or sewing roll, and bears every evidence of extreme old age, having to be handled very carefully. It was given to me when a child by a Mrs. Francisco who was visiting in Richmond. She told me and my father, who was present, that it had been given to another Henry Francisco when he visited his grandfather Henry on his 100th birthday on which occasion he danced to the music of a violin. She had no children and thought this souvenir should belong to a descendant of the old gentleman.

These statements regarding Henry Francisco are corroborated and give in more detail in a little book “Remarks made on a short tour from Hartford to Quebec in the Autumn of 1819 by Professor Benjamin Silliman, Jr., of Yale College”. Under the heading - An old man of the age of Louis MV,” he says the following:

Two miles from Whitehall, on the Salem Road to Albany, lives HENRY FRANCISCO, a native of France, and of a place which he pronounced ESSEX, but doubtless this is not the orthography, and the place was some obscure village, which may not be noticed in maps and Gazetteers.

Having a few hours to spare, before the departure of the steam boat for St. John's, in Canada, we drove out to see, (probably,) the oldest man in America. He believes himself to be one hundred and thirty four years old, and the country around believe him to be of this great age. When we arrived at his residence, (a plain farmer's house, not painted, rather our of repair, and much open to the wind, he was up stairs, at his daily work, of spooling and winding yarn. This occupation is auxiliary to that of his wife, who is a weaver, and although more than eighty years old, she weaves six yards a day, and the old man can supply her with more yarn that she can weave. Supposing he must be very feeble, we offered to go up stairs to him, but he soon came down, walking somewhat stooping, and supported by a staff, but with less apparent inconvenience, than most person exhibit at eighty or ninety. His stature is of middle size, and although his person is rather delicate and slender, he stoops but little, even when unsupported.

His complexion is very fair and delicate, and his expression bright, cheerful and intelligent; his features are handsome, and considering what they must have endured through one third part of a second century, they are regular, comely, and wonderfully undisfigured by the hand of time; his eyes are a lively blue; his profile Grecian, and very fine; his head is completely covered with the most beautiful and delicate white locks imaginable; they are so long and abundant as to fall gracefully from the crown of his head, parting regularly from a central point, and reaching down to his shoulders; his hair is perfectly snow white, except where it is thick on his neck; when parted there it shows some few dark shades, the remnants of a former century.

He still retains the front teeth of his upper jaw; his mouth is not fallen in, like that of old people generally, and his lips, particularly, are like those of middle life; his voice is strong and sweet toned, although a little tremulous; his hearing very little impaired, so that a voice of usual strength, with distinct articulation, enables him to understand; his eyesight is sufficient for his work, and he distinguishes large print, such as the title page of the Bible, without glasses, his health is good, and has always been so, except that he now has a cough and expectoration. He informed us that his father, driven out of France, by religious persecution, fled to Amsterdam; by his account, it must have been on account of the persecutions of the French Protestants or Huguenots, in the latter part of the reign of Louis XIV. At Amsterdam his father married his mother, a Dutch woman, five years before he was born, and, before that event, returned with her, into France. When he was five years old, his father again fled on account of “de religion”, as he expressed it, (for his language, although very intelligible English, is marked by French peculiarities.) He says, he well remembers their flight, and that is was in winter; for, he recollects, that as they were descending the hill, which was covered with snow, he cried out to his father, “0 fader, do go back and get my little carricle's -- (a little boy's sliding sledge or sleigh).

From these dates we are enabled to fix the time of his birth, provided he is correct in the main facts, for he says he was present at Queen Anne's coronation, and was then sixteen years old, the 31st of May, old style. His father, (as he asserts) after his return from Holland, and again been driven from France by persecution, and the second time took refuge in Holland, and afterwards in England, were he resided, with his family, at the time of the coronation of Queen Anne, in 1702. This makes Francisco to have been born in 1686; to have been expelled from France in 1691, and therefore, to have completed his one hundred and thirty-third year on the eleventh of last June; of course he is now more than three months advanced in his one hundred and thirty-fourth year. Is notorious, that about this time, multitudes of French Protestants fled, on account of the persecutions of Louis XIV, resulting from the revocation of the edict of Nantz, which occurred October 12, 1685, and, notwithstanding the guards at the frontiers, and other measures of precaution, or rigor, to prevent emigration, it is well known, that for years, multitudes continued to make their escape, and that Louis lost six hundred thousand of his best and most useful subjects. I asked Francisco, if he saw Queen Anne crowned; he replied with great animation, and with an elevated voice, “Ah! dat I did, a fine looking woman she was too, as any dat you will see now adays.”

Note below: For an unlettered man he has very few Gaelic peculiarities, and those the common ones, such as d for th. 

He said he fought in all Queen Anne's wars, and was in many battles and under many  commanders, but his memory fails, and he cannot remember their names, except the Duke of Marlborough, who was one of the them.

He has been much cut up by wounds, which he showed us, but cannot always give a very distinct account of his warfare.

He came out, with his father, from England, to New York, probably early in the last century, but cannot remember the date.

He said pathetically, when pressed for account of his military experience, “0, I was in all Queen Anne's wars; I was at Niagara, at Oswego, on the Ohio, (in Braddock?s defeat, in 1755, where he was wounded) I was carried prisoner to Quebec, (in the Revolutionary War, when he must have been at least ninety years old.) I fight in all sorts of wars, all my life; I see dreadful trouble; and den to have dem, we fought our friends, turn Tories; and the British too, and fight against ourselves, 0, dat was de worst of all.”

He seemed much affected, and almost too full for utterance. It seems that during the Revolutionary War, he kept a tavern at Fort Edward, and he lamented in a very animated manner, that the Tories burnt his house, and barn, and four hundred bushels of grain; this, his wife said, was in 1777.

He has had two wives, and twenty one children; the youngest child is the daughter, in whose house he now lives, and she is fifty two years; of course, he was eighty-two when she was born; they supposed several of the older children are still living, at a very advanced age, beyond the Ohio, but they have not heard of them in several years.

Henry Francisco has been, all his life, a very active and energetic, although not a stout framed man. He was formerly fond of spirits, and did, for a certain period, drink more than was proper, but that habit appears to have been long abandoned.

In other respects he has been remarkably abstentions, eating but little, and particularly abstaining, almost entirely, from animal food; his favorite articles being tea, bread and butter, and baked apples. His wife said, that after such a breakfast, he would go out and work till noon; then dine upon the same if he could get it, and then take the same at night, and particularly, that he always drank tea, whenever he could get it, three cups at a time, three times a day.

The old man manifested a great deal of feeling, and even of tenderness, which increased, as we treated him with respect and kindness; he often shed tears, and particularly, when, on coming away, we gave him money; he looked up to heaven, and fervently thanked God, but did not thank us; he however pressed our hands very warmly, wept, and wished us every blessing, and expressed something serious with respect to our meeting in the next world. He appeared to have religious impressions on his mind, notwithstanding his pretty frequent exclamations, when animated of Good God! 0, my God! which appeared, however, not to be used in levity, and were probably acquired in childhood, from the almost colloquial “MonDieu” of the French. The oldest people in the vicinity remember Francisco as being always, from their earliest recollection, much older than themselves; and a Mr. Fuller, who recently died here, between eighty and ninety years of age thought Francisco was one hundred and forty.

On the whole, although the evidence, rests, in a degree, on his own credibility, still, as many things corroborate it, and as his character appears remarkably sincere, guileless, and affectionate, I am inclined to believe, that he is as old as he is stated to be. He is really a most remarkable and interesting old man; there is nothing, either in his person of dress, of the negligence and squalidness of extreme old age, especially when not in elevated circumstances; on the contrary, he is agreeable and attractive, and were he dressed in a superior manner, and placed in a handsome and well furnished apartment, he would be a most beautiful old man.

Little could I have expected to converse, and shake hands with a man, who had been a soldier in most of the wars of this country for one hundred years -- who, more than a century ago, fought under Marlborough, in the wars of Queen Anne, and who, (already grown to manhood) saw her crowned one hundred and seventeen years since; who,  one hundred and twenty eight years ago, and in the century before the last, was driven from France, by the proud, magnificent, and intolerant Louis XIV, and who has lived a forty-fourth part of all the time that the human race has occupied the globe.

What an interview! It was like seeing one come back from the dead, to relate the events of centuries, now swallowed up in the abyss of time! Except his cough, which, they told us, had not been of long standing, we saw nothing in Francisco's appearance, that might indicate a speedy dissolution, and he seemed to have sufficient mental and bodily powers, to endure for years yet to come.”

(In his previous description of Whitehall I gathered that it is twenty-two miles from Fort Edward and was “anciently” called Skeensborough).

Besides Prof. Silliman?s account we have no definite information in regard to his service in the war of the Revolution except the record of his Pension. In the New York Pension Rolls in a “Statement showing the names, rank, etc., of person residing in Washington County, New York who have been inscribed on the pension list under the act passed on the 18th of March 1818” is found the name:

Name: Henry Francisco
Rank:  Private
Annual Allowance:  96
Amount Received:  $242.71
Description of Service:  N.H. Line
When Place On Pension Roll: 18 Jan 1819
Commencement Of Pension: 15 Apr 1818
Age: 134
Remarks: Died 25 Oct 1820 

Here there can be no doubt of his identity, but in the Revolutionary War Rolls so far as we have been able to find there is no description of the person mentioned so that there is no certainty which of the Henry Francisco's mentioned is he. However Ft. Edward was garrisoned by the 14th New York Militia under Col. Philip Van Rennselaer and there is a Henry Mentioned among the 10 Francisco's whose names are given as belonging to the regiment. As he lived there it might have been he and his sons and the N.H. Line on this pension records refers to the place rather than the nature of his service.

SOLOMON FRANCISCO, A son of Henry Francisco, was born October 2nd, 1768, and was married, December 28th 1787, by Aaron Fuller, Esquire, presumably in Whitehall, New York, to Mary Freeman, Daughter of John and Rebecca Vine Freeman, who was born February 15, 1769.

When looking over the various records I have of the Marriage of SOLOMON
FRANCISCO and MARY FREEMAN I have noticed that Aaron Fuller's name always appeared; so when I received some “Historical Notes on Whitehall” I was interested to learn that the Fuller family was a very numerous one there, and that Aaron Fuller was a man of much influence in the village, always being referred to as “Squire Fuller” or “Aaron Fuller, Esq.”  However for the reasons given below I think he was not chosen to perform the ceremony on account of his popularity only, but that he was a family connection. In early days it was the custom to give the children the names of the grandparents before other names were used, and the names of the grandparents could be determined by the names of the first two boys and the first two girls. In Solomon's family these names are Henry, Rebecca, John and Ruth, which leads me to believe that Ruth was the name of the fourth grandparent and to accept the statement found in a D.A.R. Roll that Ruth Fuller was the wife of Henry Francisco. I have so written it on the record by adding “probably” as we have no positive proof.

Solomon and Mary Freeman Francisco were the parents of twelve children. 

Children Born  Died
1.   Henry  September 10, 1788 October 20, 1838
2.   Rebecca (Hadley) September 7, 1790  June 3, 1821
3.   John September 5, 1792 December 5, 1834
4.   David April 8, 1794 March 18, 1826
5.   Calvin  May 21, 1796  December 31, 1871
6.   Ruth (Holcomb) March 9, 1798 Aug 1864
7.   James Freeman  March 18, 1800 June 25, 1855
8.   Hiram  May 27, 1802

9.   Anson  May 10, 1804  August 3, 1807
10.  Maria June 19, 1807 March 25, 1808
11.  Alonzo May 25, 1809 October 1, 1815
12.  Elon  November 1, 1811 December 1895

Sometime in the year 1811 Solomon Francisco with his family went from New York State to Cincinnati, Ohio.

Solomon Francisco and Mary Freeman made Cincinnati their home during the remainder of their lives. Mary Freeman Died October 1st 1827. On November 24, 1829, he was married to Mrs. Eunice Johnson by Rev. William Burk. He died January 20th, 1844.

Of MARY FREEMAN, my father's paternal grandmother, I know very little yet I have always felt for her great admiration. Her son, Calvin was my grandfather, and I know from personal association with him that he was a man of innate refinement, kindness, gentleness, and the utmost integrity. Such a man must have had a worthy mother.

Andrew Wiggins Francisco, my father's cousin, was an occasional guest in our home. To use an old fashioned expression “He was a scholar and a gentleman.” He spent the last years of his life in Los Angeles where his son J. Bond Francisco, a well known artist, still lives. We all know of the sterling virtues of our Uncle John Francisco, another grandson. One of the early friends of Cousin Andrew was his cousin, my father's sister, SARAH BELLE  POLAND...

In compiling this record I have had the benefit of notes left by Aunt Belle. I have also had access to Solomon and Mary Freeman Francisco's Family Bible.  Vol. I, was issued in 1816, Vol. II, to be ready in May 1817, and the third ready the following November.

About three-fourths of each page is devoted to “Original notes and practical  observations.” From this Bible I have taken the dates of their births, the record of their marriages, and the dates of their deaths. Also the names of their children and the dates of their births and deaths. One of the entries in the Bible reads - Solomon Francisco October 2  I am 72 years this day.” From the rather crude penmanship of this statement we can see that a number of the records were written by Solomon himself. One of these which is of especial interest is the following - October the 10th 1820, died Henry Francisco - 134 Yrs. father of Solomon Francisco.” This should finally decide the question of their relationship.

The fifth child of Solomon and Mary Francisco was CALVIN FRANCISCO, my grandfather.... My mother and Sarah Belle Francisco formed a friendship in childhood, that continued until death. These two families were united more closely by the marriage of my father, Louis Jones Francisco, the second child of Calvin Francisco and my mother, Abigail Jane Casad, the oldest child of Thomas M. Casad.

My father's mother, Sarah Jones Francisco died very suddenly October 23rd. She had just passed her forty-second birthday.

Henry Francisco born June 11, 1686, in France; died October 10, 1820 near Whitehall, New York.

Solmon, son of Henry - Born October 2, 1768; died January 20, 1844 - Cincinnati, Ohio
Married Mary, daughter of John and Rebecca Vine Freeman, December 28, 1787. Born February 15, 1769; died October 1, 1827 - Cincinnati, Ohio

Calvin Francisco, son of Solomon and Mary Freeman Francisco; born May 21, 1796, New York State; died December 31, 1871, Dayton, Ohio; married
(1) Sarah, daughter of Kastner and Sarah Ashmore Jones; May 22, 1817, Cincinnati, Ohio; born October 18, 1798, Trenton, NJ.; died October 23, 1842, Dayton, Ohio
(2) Mary Durkle - 1846 - Dayton, Ohio, born; died February 24, 1883, Winchester, Ohio.
(3)Mary Miller Casterline Durkle Francisco

CHILDREN: Mary Eliza, Born February 23, 1818, Cincinnati, Ohio; died March 29,
1902, in Kansas. Married June 7, 1836, Cincinnati, Ohio, George Folard

         George Henkle

         Mary Elizabeth (Owen Hoover)

         Helen Sophronia (Cyrus Bradbury)

         Agnes Montalbin (Luther Olier)

         Jacob Stanley

         Sarah Francisco (John Thornburg)

          John G.

          Calvin Clay

          Alfaretta Gertrude (__________ Marks)

          Susan, Born January 21, 1822, Cincinnati, Ohio; Died January 1826,
          Cncinnati, Ohio.

          Louis Jones; born November 6, 1819, Cincinnati, Ohio; died January 9, 1874,
          Richmond, Indiana - married October 20, 1842, Dayton, Ohio;
Abigail Jane,
          daughter of Thomas and Margaret Casad

                        Charles Austin
                        William Hale Raper
                        Francis Milton
                        Alice Casad (William H. Ross)


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