Updates: Mediums and Extra-Extra-Longs

Today’s article consists of some random updates to earlier posts.

I. Rev. Billy Brown (5th Great-Grandfather). Link to original post.

I recently ran across his name in a most fascinating publication:

spiritual telegraph

A front-page article from this, the February 25, 1854 issue, reads as follows:

In Chardon, Geauga Co., [Ohio] a laboring man, a member of the Methodist Church, suddenly became a speaking medium and preaches in the trance state to his neighbors, who have for some months assembled at his house on Sunday evening. The intelligence asserts through him that the Spirit of Elder Billy Brown has the control of him. Billy Brown was killed by accident, some [four-plus] years since, and was widely known over this region as a very odd and eccentric clergyman, and belonged to the Methodist order. His manner of delivery was peculiar, and no man on the Reserve has uttered so many things that can never be forgotten as Billy Brown. What is peculiar, the medium knows nothing of his utterances; and when told what he preaches, he often repudiates it in his waking moments. The striking fact on this point is, that the medium in his trance repudiates vehemently the vicarious atonement of Christ, while in the waking state he firmly believes it. The most remarkable physical fact is, that the medium imitates most wonderfully the tones, gestures, articulations, oddities and singularities of the deceased preacher. The medium has no powers of mimicry naturally, but in this state of trance his imitative faculty becomes almost perfect, exceeding what is seen in the most accomplished imitators.

Odd, peculiar, eccentric… that certainly seems to be the consensus of opinion about the man.

II. Thomas Richmond (speaking of mediums and trance-states), and his niece Mary Gifford Richmond. (Link to his post; Link to her post.)

I found a handful of scholars who mostly agree on the ancestral line of the American Richmonds. This was a very important family with French origins (Richemont) – and they (that is, one in particular – Roaldus Musard de Richmond) settled in England after taking part in the Battle of Hastings alongside William the Conqueror in 1066. Each generation of descendants is well documented in English records from Roaldus downward – even through the stretch of time when the family name was Webb, from 1430 (the marriage of William de Richmond to Alice Webb) until 1635. That’s when my 10th GGF left England as John Richmond, his rightful Richmond surname intact, and sailed for Massachusetts.

Some perspective and context:  The Richmonds were in England for nearly six centuries – they’ve been here for three and a half. They survived all of the King Henrys, Charleses, and Richards, as well as the one-and-only King John, circa 1200.

Mary Gifford Richmond Brown was my 4th Great-Grandmother (Rev. Billy was her father-in-law), and Thomas was Mary’s uncle, the brother of my 5th Great-Grandfather. But Roaldus Musard de Richmond was my 26th Great-Grandfather! There is a 27th documented, but I’m not quite up to dealing with France in the Dark Ages. Not yet, anyway.

Mind blown.


  1. Ferdinand Vannatta was the son of Lydia Westbrook and her first husband Daniel Vanetten. Daniel disowned Ferdinand and Ferdinand changed his name to Vannatta, sometimes Vannatten. Birth under name Ferdinandes in same record book as you mention. There is also the source of the family book of VanEtten, giving the story of Daniel denying Ferdinand as his son, but there was a mention in his will. So theirs was not s good relationship. There are also land records for Marshall Stanley and his wife Lydia. I don’t have easy access to them right now but after
    Lydia stops being mentioned, Marshall deeds land to Ferdinand. I don’t think Marshall had a long marriage with Thamor and throughout the years, everyone seems to have placed her as the mother of all of Marshall’s children simply because she was his wife when his will was written. I have copies of everything I mentioned to come to this conclusion. Also, concerning Jane Stanley and her husband Robert Hubbell, he put a notice in the newspaper warning people of his absconding wife Jane and that he would not be responsible for her debts. Jane later declined to settle his estate and gave that job to Henry Hubbell.

  2. Yay! Hi Janis! We’ve been doing the Hubbell-Earl Tango for so long now, it’s good to get down to the BIG questions. I just don’t get the timeline – Lydia has Ferdinand, and Daniel later claims he is not his son – but is still compelled to mention him by name in his will?? Is Dan just a bitter old guy who lost his wife and punished their son for it? And the way the birthdates work out, it seems Daniel lost Lydia to Marshall Stanley. And then Lydia died, and Marshall married Thamor… all of which happened before Marshall’s death in 1796. Frustrating – and complicated!

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