John Fremont Ellis Family History

The apple does not fall far from the tree. My great-great grandfather, John F. Ellis, is on the left. I am on the right.


A birth record has not been found for John Fremont Ellis. There is no mention of his birth date on his death certificate. The death certificate says that he was 52 years of age when he died in 1909. His approximate birth year would be 1857. My grandmother kept a date book with many entries of birth, death and marriage dates. I found an entry for John Fremont Ellis on June 9, 1858 and it gave his birthplace as Syracuse, NY. According to the New York State Census of 1860, his family was living in Richland, Oswego County, NY. On his son Franklin M. Ellis's birth certificate it shows Oswego County, NY, as the birth place of John F. Ellis. It is possible that he was born in Syracuse and they were either visiting or removed to Richland shortly thereafter. He died August 23, 1909 in Roscoe Township, Illinois.

John F. Ellis moved to Beloit, Wisconsin before he was twenty five. He married in 1883 to Esther Jennet White. "Jennie" was the daughter of Alfred J. White and Jennet Blodgett. She was born in 1864 at either Brasher Falls, NY, or Evanston, IL. Her marriage certificate shows the former and her death certificate shows the latter. The White and Ellis families were probably acquainted in the East. I believe that Jennet Blodgett was the daughter of Archipellus Blodgett who had a daughter by that name during the same time frame in NH.

At some point in his life he rode with the Buffalo Bill Cody Wild West Show as a sharpshooter. He could shoot marbles rolling on the ground and pennies thrown in the air. (See picture taken from a newspaper print block at the top of the page.) In Beloit he worked as a painter and then as a hired hand on the McMasters farm in Roscoe Township, Illinois. After he was widowed his sons went to live with their grandmother who was also widowed at the time (Jennet White). After his wife's death, John lived as a boarder at the home of his sister Sophronia and brother-in-law, Miles Leffingwell in Beloit.

John and Esther Jennet had two sons:

Frank was a really decent fellow who was involved in his community. He ran a funeral home in Rockford, IL and was a veteran of World War I. I had the pleasure of meeting his daughter, Phyllis "Maxine" Anderson (surname from second marriage).

Vernon and Frank were raised by their grandmother, Jennet White.

After Mr. McMasters died John F. Ellis married his widow, Emma J.McMasters. He also took over management of her very profitable farm. After 4 years of marriage John had mentioned to some relatives that he thought his family was trying to poison him. He could not have meant his sons who were living in Rockford at the time. So, when he suddenly dropped dead in a ditch near their home of what appeared to be mysterious causes, a lot of suspicion was cast in the direction of his wife. Hence, many sensational articles began to appear in the paper and an autopsy was demanded in order to clear her good name. The coroner determined that the true nature of his death was apoplexy. John was buried in an unmarked grave at the Beloit cemetery in the same lot as his first wife, Jennie.

Interestingly, both John F. Ellis and his brother Charles Ellis died from apoplexy.


"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 23 October 2015), Frankie Ellis in household of Jamie White, Beloit city Ward 3, Rock, Wisconsin, United States; citing sheet 31B, family 699, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,241,814.

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MacGillivray Clan Facebook Site

Spencer Historical and Genealogy Society (SHGS)

SGHS Facebook Site

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Last updated:10/23/15