Ruth Phillips and Rufus Johnson are the great-grandparents of Edith Dona Reed, who married James Robert Thompson Lewis in 1888, in Posey County. Their son was William David Lewis, who married Nelle Belle Bridges in 1909.

Rufus was born in Massachusetts (either Buckland or Charlemont), Ruth in Ashfield, Massachusetts. Soon after their marriage in 1802, they removed to Sempronius, Cayuga County, New York. There they joined members of Ruth's family. Their five children were born there. About 1822, they followed Ruth's brothers, Elisha (and wife Electa, their children, and Electa's sister Nancy and brothers Bartlett and Moses) and Ebenezer, to Indiana, all of whom had moved there in 1818. The Philllips's parents, Barnabas and Ruth, followed around 1819, following the death of Barnabas's mother in Sempronius.

Barnabas Annable, bapt. 1767 at Franklin Co., MA, d. 1835 at Posey Co., IN

+Ruth Moon, b. circa 1771, m. circa 1791 at Franklin Co., MA, d. 1828 at Posey Co., IN

+-- Elizabeth Annable, b. Franklin Co., MA; d. 1828 at Posey Co., IN

+-- Electa Annable, b. 1792 at Franklin Co., MA, d. 1852 at Posey Co., IN. Marr. Elisha Phillips

+-- Samuel Annable, b. 1794 at Franklin Co., MA, d. 1870 at IL

+-- Bromley Annable, b. between 1795 and 1799 at Franklin Co., MA, d. 1828 at Posey Co., IN

+-- Daniel Annable, b. between 1795 and 1799 at Franklin Co., MA

+-- Nancy Annable, b. 1796 at Hatfield, MA, d. 1828 at Posey Co., IN. Marr. Ebenezer Phillips

+-- Bartlett Annable, b. 1800 at Franklin Co., MA

+-- Enos Annable, b. circa 1803, d. 1823 at Posey Co., IN

+-- David Annable, b. say 1806, d. 1836 at Posey Co., IN

+-- Fanny Annable, b. 1812 at Cayuga Co., NY



Vespasian Phillips, b. 1749 at Bristol Co., MA, d. before 1822 at Cayuga Co., NY

+Abilene Belding, b. circa 1750 at Bristol Co., MA, m. 1772 at Franklin Co., MA, d. circa 1854 at NY

+-- Samuel Phillips, b. between 1772 and 1777 at MA

+-- Vespasian Phillips Jr, b. between 1773 and 1774

+-- Deliah Phillips, b. between 1773 and 1795

+-- Ebenezer Phillips, b. between 1773 and 1795 at MA. Marr. Electa Annable

+-- Pitts Phillips, b. between 1773 and 1795

+-- Abilena Phillips, b. 1776 at Franklin Co., MA, d. 1854 at NY

+-- Ruth Phillips, b. 1779 at MA, d. 1842 at Black Tshp. Posey Co., IN. Marr. Rufus Johnson (1779-1842)

+-- Elisha Phillips, b. 1786 at New York (prob.), d. 1845 at Posey Co., IN


Annable Family Letters of 1802 - 1839


"The following letters were found in the book titled, Biographical Sketches of Richard Ellis. By E.R. Ellis, Detroit 1888. These letters where written by the members of the family of Samuel Annable and his descendants as they helped to settle the new lands of our great country. Each letter was written to friends and relatives who remained in their former home of Ashfield, Massachusetts and contains stories of life in New York, a trip down the Ohio River on a flatboat and the hardships of settling the new land of Indiana."

Source: Paul Annable

Original text: Biographical Sketches of Richard Ellis, The First Settler of Ashfield, Mass. By E. R. Ellis (Detroit: Wm. Graham Printing, 1913).

The letters offer a vivid description of the experience of the pioneers. The Indiana Territory was created in 1800. Posey County was formed from other Indiana territory counties in 1814, President James Madison approved Indiana's admission into the union as the nineteenth state on December 11, 1816.

William Henry Harrison was the 1st Governor of Indiana Territory, from 1801 to 1812, and the 9th President of the United States. Jonathan Jennings, whose motto was "No slavery in Indiana", was elected as the first governor of the state, defeating Thomas Posey, who, in 1813, succeeded, as appointed governor, William Henry Harrison (who had accepted a new position to lead the army against Indians in the Northwest Territory).


Letter from Samuel, son of Elder Barnabas Annable, to his aunt, Mrs. Polly Annable Ellis (p. 367)

Sempronius, N.Y., Sept. 27, 1818

Dear Aunt - In compliance with your request, and my own feelings do I gladly embrace the opportunity of writing to one whom I ever have and ever shall cherish the highest sentiments of respect and esteem. I cannot but reflect for a moment on the happiness your presence afforded in the early hour of my life. Nothing could then afford more pleasure than the company of those to whom I was allied by the ties of natural affections. Fondly imagining them to be the best of human beings, I really enjoyed in their presence consummate bliss.

But in the dispensations of Providence, it was ordained that I should part with some of them and move to the new country [from Ashfield to Sempronius.] This was trying, though I was hardly large enough to realize it. Nothing caused greater sorrow and made deeper impressions on my mind than the thought of leaving Aunt Polly - perhaps never to see her again - never did the impressions of sorrow fully wear away; and it was long before, in sweet remembrances of past scenes, I could hail your arrival in Sempronius. Your visits were gladdening to my feelings, and I only regretted that you must return again.

But those scenes are past, and I now one still more trying to relate. Last Thursday, Electa and Nancy, Bartlett and Enos, two ever dear and affectionate sisters, with two beloved brothers, took their leave at Sempronius for the long contemplated journey to the wilds of Indiana. The rest of the family remain till next spring. You will, no doubt, be curious to know the feeling that were manifested on this trying event. In the morning the neighbors flocked in to pay their respects and render them what assistance they could about loading and getting them ready to start. Notwithstanding all seemed to be filled with the deepest regret at the thought of separating, each one assumed as much of an air of merriment as they could, in order to repress in some measure the anguish of those who were about to leave us. Each cordially bestowed their best wishes for their future comfort and prosperity. Sister Nancy, with a firm resolution, if possible, to restrain her feelings so as to refrain from tears, braved it till she got as far as Elisha's, where we accompanied her. We went in; I shook hands with sister Electa, and she burst into tears. Sister Nancy could no longer restrain her feelings - she wept, and most of the women present gave vent to their feelings in the same way. For my own part the scene was truly heartrending. The boys braved it. To think that fourteen hundred miles should separate me from those with whom the happy, thought transient, morning of my life had been spent, was truly painful. I could hardly refrain from giving vent to my own feelings in a flow of tears. Yet I did. Not that I was ashamed to cry. Ah, no! Reason forbade that I should add fuel to the fire of anguish already kindled in the beasts of those who were about to leave us. The struggle was hard indeed. With many a deep drawn sigh did I resist the anguish of my soul.

They are gone and how shall I be reconciled. Reason dictates flattering with a hope that all is for the best. Considering it providential, already begins to calm the anguish of my soul. How good, how comforting is the power of reflection. Were it not for this, the passions would overcome the other faculties of the mind, the soul would sink into a state of dejectedness which would render life miserable.

I am sorry to inform you that Nancy, through extreme hurry of business in preparing to get away, was obliged to neglect copying that writing which she promised you. Having to go away myself in search of employment, I could not attend to it.

I have not yet engaged a school, but I expect to soon. Bromley has engaged to work for uncle David this winter in the brewery. We are all in tolerable health. Mrs. Fuller being present, wishes me to write her compliments [Rhoda Annable Fuller, see page 94.]

Grandmother wishes me to remember her; says she is still alive, but does not expect to be a great while. She is nearly as comfortable as she was when you was here. Aunt Bethiah wishes me to write her respects to you and the family. She wishes Desiah [237] would write her. She sends her compliments to Mr. Belding's people [John Belding's, see page 372.]

Father and mother wish me to write for them. They feel anxious to have you write to them. It is a general time of health with us. Give my respects to uncle Dimick, to great-uncle and aunt, and likewise to the rest of the family, your children, and to all enquiring friends. I wish you or uncle would write me. 

I am, dear aunt, your sincere friend and affectionate nephew,

To Mrs. Polly Ellis, Samuel Annable


Letters from Elder Barnabas Annable and his wife Ruth Moon to Deacon Dimick Ellis and other relatives in Ashfield

Sempronius, N.Y. February 14th, 1819

May God prepare the hearts of my dear sister and brother, aunt and uncle to receive the particulars of the death of mother Annable. She continued to decline from the time you left here until some of the first days of February, when she grew worse, having her senses to the last minute, and exercising, as her prayer was perfect patience, until her Lord should come. She lived from midnight, after being sensible that she was struck with death, until the next night, sun half an hour high, when faltering a few minutes, her struggles being over, she apparently breathed her life sweetly out. This was on the 9th day of the month. Another exemplary life and peaceable death stimulated us all to fear God and keep his commands that we may have right to the tree of life, and enter into the city where we trust she is gone. The text was: "Be ye also ready, for in such an," etc. We, our friends and yours in this quarters are well. John1 is well.

We have received a letter from our children in Indiana. They inform us that they are well and pleased with the country, and have bought four miles from Mount Vernon, a village on the Ohio river, and fifteen from the Wabash river. Probably in about three weeks we shall start. We now expect that Bethiah will go with us. However, Edward [brother of Barnabas] appears anxious to have her stay and make her home at his house. We shall make it a point to write from that place when we get there, hoping thereby to perpetuate a remembrance of each other. With warm affections to you all whom I cannot see, and strong attachments to all my old acquaintances,

I subscribe myself yours,

Barnabas Annable

 1 [John Ellis, Jr.,was married to Abilena Phillips, daughter of Vespasian Phillips and Abilene Belding, sister of the Indiana pioneers Elisha and Ebenezer].

Dear Sister - The reason that I did not write according to my agreement is, my health has been very poor, my two little ones very cross, my care other ways very great, which renders me unfit for writing. O Polly, my trials have been great since I saw you last fall. Four of my children fourteen hundred miles from me, and the trial of parting with mother and Bethiah, together with my own mother and the neighbors, has been as much as I could bear.

We received three letters from our children after they left this town before they got to Indiana. The water was very low, for which reason they had to buy a small boat, and then taking some boards and forming a small raft, they put a part of the goods on it, and set Enos and Elisha Ellis to stearing it. Then they had to hire two robust men to help them lift the boat over the shoals and stones until they got almost 100 miles from Pittsburg. They were from the 22nd of September until the 5th of December before they landed at their home. They in their letters have expressed good health and good courage. I leave this subject.

Perhaps you would wish to know something more concerning Bethiah. She bears the death of her mother better than any of us had expected. She inclines to go with us, though her trials seem to be great about leaving friends behind.

I went to the Nine Mile Creek to Eleazar Smith's last fall. Had a very agreeable visit. Likewise to Edward's. I can think of nothing more at present but to give my love to your family and connections and your neighbors. Bethiah is not at home, or she would send a great deal of love.

I Remain your affectionate sister,

Ruth Annable

To Polly Ellis Ruth Annable [sister of Barnabas, wife of Deacon Ellis]


Letter from Ruth Annable, wife of Barnabas, to Dr. David Annable and Moses Bartlett, of Sempronius, N. Y

(p. 370).  The letter was received February, 1820.

Black Township, Posey County, Indiana.

Dear Friends : I expect it is with anxiety you have waited to see some of my scribblings. I will assure you that it has not  been for want of affection towards you, but, having much trial and suffering, I have felt unwilling, to fill your ears with the same. Surely, dear friend, I never shall forget you, neither the favor you bestowed on me before I left you. I often sleep a short nap, then awake, can sleep no more till the day breaks, thinking of my neighbors and friends I have left behind. I one night began my meditations thinking of you all. I could not close my eyes to sleep that night. I remember my promise, that I would write to you my journal and how I liked the country, after I should get here, and how we fared.

I expect Mr. Belding* gave you my journal by land. We took water about two weeks after our teamsters left us. We began with pleasant sailing, for a few hours, then we met with sudden turns in the river, and, the current being swift, we were hurried on shore, or driven upon an island or sand-bar. The boat struck so hard against the root of a tree, the first day, that every child was sent upon its head, and the one who commanded our boat crying out, "we are gone for it," gave me such a shock, together with the cold, set me into such ague tits as I hardly ever experienced; for we had two families aboard, which made nineteen souls of us, all inexperienced hands. So I lived the first week, having sudden shocks. It got my stomach so weak that I could not receive any food, but once in four and twenty hours, for about ten days. My fatigue was likewise very hard, my little ones being sick. I had them both to wait on and to hold in my lap, till I could hardly stand when I rose up. When we entered the Ohio river my trials were some less by day, but then we sailed at night too; which filled me with fear that we should run on to a sawyer, [fallen trees.] I had but little rest. We had no pilot and strove to follow a boatman, that was used to the river, by this means was deprived of the privilege of visiting Stephen Ellis' family1, for which I was very sorry. We found where they were and an opportunity to send the gown and letter directed to them.

We stopped at Cincinnati; there we saw Levi Fuller and John Wood. They both appeared to be very glad to see us. John Wood has since been to see us; he said that Stephen Ellis was doing tolerably well, but his wife was weakly; likewise, that they had received the gown and letter. At Gallipolis, about 100 miles down the river, we got rid of a very disgreeable family; for which I was never more glad. I would warn every one that takes passage to keep everything they can under lock and key; for I lost, by not having this care, Eliza's gingham frock, three pair of stockings, one run of stocking yarn, one sheet, one shirt, a pair of pillows, and mother's old long loose gown.

I have been sick and unable to write. The last of October now begins. I now again begin to write. My sickness was the same as when Doctor White doctored me, though not so severe. I suffered considerable for nourishment that could not be had. I am now in tolerable health. I shall not strive to give you much more of my journal. On the Ohio we had some pleasant sailing, some pleasing prospects - such as steamboats, floating-mills, together with villages. We landed at Mount Vernon the 22d of April, all in good health, excepting myself and babe. We found our children all in good health, but Nancy. She grew more ill, and was not able to do her own work for as much as one month. I went into the house with Nancy. We suffered for provisions, for we could not get anything but hoe-cake, but I think it no disparagement to the country, but a neglectful people; but, being unwell, this kind of fare went very hard, but harder yet when we could not get our bacon. Meat was very scarce, by reason of its being sent off in boat loads to New Orleans, so the people did not save enough for themselves, so we have had to do without meat, sometimes two and three weeks. We bought two cows. Three quarts of milk were the most that ever we had from them both, besides suckling their calves, and were as good as cows commonly here that run in the woods. We could not get any sauce, if it had been to save our lives. I have not room enough to finish my letter. I will conclude on another sheet.

The people of this place care for nothing but to raise corn and hogs. They raise a few beans, which they call snaps, only. There are men here who have lived here twelve years, and have not a spear of grass growing; but I think grass will do well here. I saw a small piece of meadow; I think I never saw so much hay come off so small a piece of ground in my life. Wheat does well here; is a very sure crop. Potatoes can be raised largely to the acre; the sweet potato in greater abundance; they are the best potato that ever I ate; could live on them alone. The season has been too dry for potatoes to do well. The people say it never was so dry since the country has been settled. We have not raised much sauce, by reason of the same, but we have a few bushels of potatoes, some small turnips and French turnips, some cabbage, about three hundred pumpkins, and three hundred and fifty bushels of corn. We have sowed thirteen acres of wheat and some expect to sow three acres more. We have two cows and four calves, one five-year old mare, seven yearling hogs and eight shoats. We fared hard this year, but no reason to complain, for my family was never so healthy as they have been this season.

I am not discouraged about getting a living, but the people do not seem natural. We have not received a visit from any woman since we have been here, excepting two of our own country people. Tell her that was the Widow Foster, that she h s a brother living near neighbor to me. He came here this summer; likes the country well. I think he will get rich. I do not look for riches for my own part, but I think that we could have done well, if we had only brought $200 with us. We have bought two cows, one to give milk, the other one to fatten for beef; one at thirteen and the other at nineteen dollars.

I like our farm very well; it lies handsome, and tolerably well watered. There are two living springs upon it, and plenty fencing timber. We have a house built, with a good cellar under it, and a corn house, seventeen feet square, set on blocks, made very convenient. We have a well close to the house. The snakes, that were so much dreaded, have not been seen on our farm. I think the hogs have thinned them off. The water in this place will not wash without cleansing, but the pleasant showers affords us water enough to wash, in the fore part of the season, but we have been very much pestered for water to wash with for two mouths past. My life has been made very uncomfortable by reason of inconveniences, but we have a hope of having things better.

I have no wheels, but can borrow one. My flax and wool are not yet spun. I have to patch comfortably, and 1 keep my family comfortable and decent. I could advise a family that comes here to be well clothed, for, flax and wool can hardly be gotten till you raise it. Flax does well here, with those who know how to raise it. I have seen but few sheep; they were large; they shear them twice a year. I have written many irregular mistakes; you must patch as well as you can. I have but little time to write. I have my bread all to bake by the tire, and get but little time to do anything else but get victuals. I have not seen an oven since I have been in this town. The people are very ignorant of housewifery. They have a very different way of cooking, in almost every respect. They make a pie that suits my taste very well. They make a crust, put it into a bake kettle, fill it up with peaches, put in a little water; then put on a crust and bake it. We have gotten brick for an oven and a hearth. We have bought a fraction of land, consisting of about twenty acres, adjoining our farm. Our boys all have good courage; like the place well. I never saw fellows work so well as they have this summer, in my life.

My husband flies around like a boy; better than since he was a child. They say that I have written concerning the corn, instead of three hundred and fifty I must write four hundred and fifty bushels, and they have got it all harvested; they raised part of it on shares. On the whole they reckon they have raised six hundred. Our wheat, on the ground looks like a pink-bed. You need not be afraid that you will have to eat all Indian bread, for wheat does better here than in York State. I think there is no danger but what a man can get a good living, if he can have money enough to buy a horse and cow or two, and ether provisions to give him a start. It is far better for fruit in this place than in York State. Some of our grafts have grown a yard and half in length, this summer. The longer I stay here the better I like the place.

We understood, before we came here, that it was difficult to preserve meat, but it can be here, as well as in York State. Flies are not so very troublesome. If you wish to know about other insects, I must tell you that musketoes are very troublesome, a few weeks in the spring season; fleas, there scarcely ever are any seen in the hottest of summer. By this time you think it strange that I say nothing about Bethiah. She has not shed one tear to where she did ten thousand before she left Sempronius. She never will own that she is sorry that she came with us. She sends her love to you all. Says I must tell you that she likes here well, and, likewise, to tell you that blackberries are plenty, and the people give us plenty of peaches; that we have muskmelons and watermelons in abundance; and that we have a nursery of two thousands apple trees, growing. It has been very healthy in this place. There has been no need of a doctor in this place this summer.

Samuel lives at Evansville, has just made us a visit; is in good health. He earned for himself $70 in three months. Now for you to know the particular advantages and disadvantages of our country. Salt, at present, is scarce and dear; it is not to be obtained for less than three or four dollars a bushel, but the people think it will be found more plenty. Sugar is scarce and dear; the price is thirty-two and a half cents a pound. There are some of our neighbors who have maple trees, and make three or four hundred weight of sugar in a season. I think the difficulty about milling is not great, for we have horse and water mills a plenty; the latter does not grind, only in a time of high water. The horse mills will grind thirty bushels a day; but it is somewhat bad for a poor man, for he must find his own team, or pay twelve cents for every bushel, besides the toll. Com whisky is generally seventy-five cents per gallon; wheat whisky, one dollar.

It is now the tenth of December. It begins to be cold weather. We have a very pleasant season. I shall advise no one to come here; for I know not how they will like it, but I have wished many times that I had my old neighbors and friends around me. The great distance does not hinder my feeling for you whenever you are in trouble. When I heard of the death of Mr. Whitewood, I can truly say, my feelings were very much affected. Peleg Allen came into our neighborhood, yesterday. Abigail has gone to live in a house close to Nancy; he has not purchased yet, but thinks he shall in this place I have enough more to write, but have not room on my paper. You may wish to know about the privilege of meetings. There are Methodist and Baptist preachers in this place, but the people are not so fond of meetings as I wish they were.

I conclude, subscribing myself your friend and well-wisher until death,


*Probably Wm. Belding, who m. Catherine, dau. of Thomas Ranney.

1 Uncle of Deacon Ellis. He was born in Deerfield, Massachusetts. He moved to Sempronius about 1800. He and his wife (probably Susannah Coburn) had seven children. In the year 1818, Stephen Ellis together with his brother Moses and their families removed to North Bend, Ohio, on the Ohio River, a few miles below Cincinnati, where they landed Aug. 2nd, 1818, and rented a farm from Gen. W. H. Harrison, "the hero of Tippecanoe.