Janet and Robert Wolfe Genealogy --- Go to Genealogy Page for Joseph Pierpont Lee --- Go to Genealogy Page for Dorothy Bunting Taylor

Notes for Joseph Pierpont Lee and Dorothy Bunting Taylor

Obituary of Joseph Pierpont Lee, Sr. July 7, 1879, Tecumseh, Michigan:

After a lingering sickness of several months, Joseph P. Lee,Sr., departed this life on the morning of the 3rd.inst., at his family residence in the township of Raisin. The deceased was born in Mackworth, two miles north-west of Derby,England, February 1st.1793, hence he was 86 years, 5 months, and 2 days old when he died. He was confirmed in the faith of the Church of England when but 16 years of age.

He emigrated to New York, Sept 16,1817. He had a very boisterous passage, being sixteen days in the Gulf Stream, lightning with heavy thunder much more than half the time, the sea running mountains high, not a sail standing. The ship being all carpeted with iron, the captain was afraid the lightning would set the ship on fire. He arrived in New York October 28, being 42 days on the mighty deep. From New York City, he went to Philadelphia, Pa., and worked at his trade of cabinet making for 5 years. From thence he went to Columbus, New Jersey. In the spring of 1836 he emigrated to Michigan, where he remained on the same farm until his death. He was an affectionate husband and an indulgent father. Our loss we can truly say, we feel is his eternal gain. The icy finger of death he did not dread. He was conscious to the last.

Elizabeth Thornton and John Pierpoint were married on November 6, 1765, in Mackworth, England. Their daughter, Mary Pierpoint, was born and baptized on August 17, 1766, in Derby, St Michael, England [1]. She married Joseph Lee on May 1, 1792 in Mackworth, England. Their son, Joseph Pierpont Lee, is baptized February 1, 1793, in Mackworth, Derbyshire, England. Perhaps this is the same Joseph Pierpont Lee who emigrated from England to America in 1817.

The following are excerpts from the "Portrait and Biographical Album of Lenawee Co." [2]:

Mr. Lee was born on the other side of the Atlantic in Derbyshire, England February 1, 1793 and was the son of Joseph Lee, Sr., a farmer of modest means and who spent his entire life on his native soil. Joseph Lee, Sr.'s wife, in her girlhood, was Miss Mary Pierpont and was a grand-daughter of Lady Pierpont of England. After the death of her husband, Mrs. Mary Pierpont Lee, mother of Joseph Pierpont Lee,Sr. came to the United States and located in New Jersey, where she lived until her death about 1840.

Joseph P. Lee was reared in his native country, not far from the place of his birth--. When of suitable years he was called upon to assist with earning his own living and served an apprenticeship at the cabinet-makers trade. He worked at this trade for some time and was not satisfied with the results from his trade. Yet while a young man he determined upon a change of location and accordingly embarked upon a sailing vessel at Liverpool, and after a safe voyage he landed upon American soil. He left behind him his father's family which consisted of six younger children, one son and five daughters. -- He located in New Jersey and in due time formed the acquaintance of Miss Dorthea B. Taylor, who not long afterward became his wife (February 9, 1826, Burlington, NJ per LDS record). She was born and reared in New Jersey and was of English and Holland-Dutch descent. Her ancestors had emigrated to the new world in the colonial days and had for several generations been prominately identified with the history of New England.

Previous to his marriage Mr. Lee worked at his trade as a cabinet-maker in Philadelphia for five years. He then followed the same occupation in Columbus, New Jersey for five more years. He then moved into the country, located upon a tract of land and there acquired his first experience as an agriculturist. This business suited him, except that he wished for more land and larger opportunities. The great west was holding out inducements to the young and enterprising emigrant and Mr. Lee, seconded by the counsel of his brave and courageous wife, determined to try their fortune in the territory of Michigan.

Accordingly in the spring of 1836 they started on the long journey, which was made partly by water and partly over land by teams. They came to Lenawee County and located upon a tract of unbroken land in River Raisin Township, described as E ½ of the NE 1/4 of Sec. 9, T 6S, R 4E containing 80 acres. This is about 3 ½ miles south of the present village of Tecumseh, Michigan. --His worthy efforts met with success and he remained upon the land which he had first selected until his death which occured July 3, 1879.

The wife and help-mate of this excellent man remained by his side for 50 years, 9 months and 11 days and proceeded him to the better land, her death occuring on November 20, 1876. She had been reared in the Quaker faith, to which she adhered to the end of her days. Mr. Lee was a member of the church of England.

Exerpts from John J. Lee, July 25, 1976, Lee Family Historical data:

CHURCH LIFE of the Lee Family: Mr. Satterthwaite, a child of a former neighbor of the Lees, said that Joseph P. Lee and his wife, Dorothy, were Quakers and attended the Friends Church in Tecumseh. This church still stands and is apparently in good repair. Apparently it was rebuilt some years ago, for it does not appear to be of pioneer construction.

When the Friends in the River Raisin Valley built the River Raisin Valley Church, Joseph Lee and his wife then attended there. That church was built nearly 100 years ago. It is the original church and is excellently preserved. As it was originally built the seats faced the East. There was a partition running east and west through the center and the men sat on one side and the ladies on the other. At present there is a minister at the River Raisin Valley Church and he told the writer that about 1870 the interior of the church was changed. The partition through the center was removed, the seats face the pulpit on the south, and they now have a minister. Originally the Friends did not have a minister, but instead had silent worship.

The Raisin Valley church is located on the southwest corner on the main highway from Tecumseh to Adrian. It is three miles west and about four or five miles south of Tecumseh, so Joseph P. and Dorothy Lee had to go about three miles west and about a mile south of their home to attend their church.

The cemetery is located just west of the church and Joseph P. Lee,Sr. his wife, Dorothea, and daughter, Mary (Lee) Handley, are all buried there.

Education of the Lee Family
The writer, John J.Lee, attempted to obtain detailed information pertaining to the education of the children of Joseph P. and Dorothea Lee, but was unable to obtain any authentic records. It is known that the Quakers (Friends) organized the Raisin Valley Seminary and that the children obtained their education there.

Joseph P.Jr., the oldest son, went on to the University of Michigan where he studied law, graduating in 1849/50. It is interesting to know that the law course at Ann Arbor was then completed in six months.

Notes of Human Interest
Mr. Newton Satterthwaite, whose father was a former neighbor of the Joseph P. Lees, said he did not definitely remember Joseph P. Lee, but said he remembered a great deal about him. He said Joseph was known as a prosperous but frugal farmer, noted for his industry, and was always ready to help his neighbors. He said his friends nicknamed him "Josie" for Joseph and because of his genial disposition. The Lees were devoted church people, regular attendants and generously supported the Friends Church. Their word was always as good as their bond, and nobody ever knew of any of them ever transgressing even the strictest moral code.

When Mary (Lee) Handley was in her last illness in 1890, her niece, Alice Lee Waterstradt, cared for her and has a treasure she prizes most highly--an old Quaker bonnet which Mary's mother, Dorothea, used to wear when attending church. According to Robert Blue, Mary Soule Peterson, grand niece of Alice Waterstradt now has the bonnet. [apparently she never received the bonnet]

The Atlas of 1874 of Lenawee County shows the J. P. Lee farm was one of the largest farms in Raisin Township. It also says that the L.S. and M.S. Railroad which ran through the old Lee farm was the second railroad built in the United States. The first being between New York and Schenectady. The L.S. and M.S. railroad was originally a "strap rail" road and trains were pulled by horses. The road was started from Toledo to Chicago.

The Joseph Pierpont Lee and Dorothea B. Taylor Lee Family

Joseph Pierpont Lee, Jr. born May 1, 1828
Anna Lee born about 1830
George Lee born about 1831 and died before 1836 in New Jersey
Joel Taylor Lee born November 11, 1832
Mary E. Lee born October 1, 1834

Joseph P. Lee, Jr. was eight years of age when he came to Michigan with his parents and siblings. All the children were raised in Lenawee County. After finishing his schooling, Joseph returned to New Jersey for a few years. Upon his return to Michigan he visited his brother, Joel, in Kalamazoo County. Joel T. Lee had come to Kalamazoo County and purchased the SW 1/4 of section 32 in Prairie Ronde Township. Here Joseph P. got acquainted with Sally Beebe, daughter of Roswell and Pamela (Latham) Beebe, married her and bought the SE 1/4 of section 32, adjoining Joel's land. He later purchased the 80 acre Bowersox farm and 20 acres adjoining the home farm to the east.

Grandfather Joseph P. Lee,Jr and Sally Beebe were married in Cass County, Michigan, March 16, 1859. Their first child, Mary Pamela, was born January 20, 1860, and Anna Weltha February 28, 1862. By this time the Civil War (1861-1865) had started. Grandfather had been reared in a traditional Quaker household where the refusal to bear arms was part of their religion, even though the Quakers were opposed to slavery. Grandfather was considered well-to-do and hired a substitute for $300 to take his place in the Civil War. This allowed him to stay true to his beliefs as well as stay home with his family. Two more children were born, Hattie, born April 4, 1864 and Roswell, born April 30, 1866, before tradgedy struck. On March 21, 1868, little Anna Weltha, 6 years old, was sent to her Uncle Gideon T. Beebe's about a mile away to borrow a saw.

It was through a partly wooded area and she was accosted, raped and killed by a Civil War veteran living in the area. Her parents forgave the man which must have been very difficult for them but testifies to their strong Christian beliefs. Ten days later, March 31, 1888 Sally gave birth to their daughter, Alice Rozila. Three more children were born, Joseph Elmer, on September 6, 1870, Lois Adaline, on September 22, 1872, and Levi on July 27, 1875.

February 9, 1876, six months after Levi's birth, Grandmother Sally Lee died of pneumonia following the measles. Baby Levi was taken in by Sally's step-grandmother, Mary Young Beebe, and raised in her home. Lois, who was two years old at the time, also spent much of her early life at her grandmothers. Joseph never remarried, but kept his family together as best he could.

Grandfather's financial troubles came in the 1880's and 1890's. The panic hit in 1873. Grandfather had signed a note for $3000 to help Ben Eisenhauer. Ben had a family of thirteen children. Our Aunt Mellie, (Roswell Lee's wife) was one of Ben Eisenhauer's children. About the time of the 1873 panic Ben Eisenhauer went to town, got drunk, his horses ran away, Ben was killed and Grandfather paid off the note.

In 1876, because of the note that he had paid, the panic and Grandmother Sally's death, and with seven children to care for, Grandfather Lee began to sell his farm. In the preceding years he had also acquired the grain elevator at Chamberlains, a small community south of his farm. During the 1880s he ran the elevator and a store. (John J. Lee felt the panic of 1893 forced him to sell the elevator and store because he had extended credit to neighbors who could not pay.)

Grandfather Lee died September 9, 1896. He had had a stroke and lived with his daughter, Hattie Kidney, and her two daughters on the Kidney farm, 1 and 3/4 miles east of Marcellus. Hattie husband, Charley Kidney, had died in April 1894 of diabetes. Hattie's brother, Joseph, moved in and worked her place and helped care for Grandfather Lee. Joseph E. Lee also paid Grandfather Lee's funeral expenses and for the monument to him in the Bly Cemetery at Marcellus.

Joseph Elmer Lee was the father of John J. Lee, the researcher and writer of much of this history. He writes "I'm always awfully proud of all our Lee antecedents and our heritage.


[1] Derbyshire, St Michaels parish registers, 1730-1800, [FamilySearchImage], [FamilySearchRecord].

[2] Chapman Brothers, Portrait and biographical album of Lenawee County, Mich (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1888), 521-22, [GoogleBooks].