Purdy Complicated


A Note To My Readers:  Finishing up a couple of large research projects and I needed a break so I took a ‘road more traveled’. My research on my Purdy family only solidly goes back to my 3x great grandfather, Lewis Purdy (1790-1875) of Tompkins County, NY.   In a very disciplined effort to find Lewis’ parents and where he was born, I have gone down so many paths, my research map is a maze that turns upon itself and quite often brings me back to START HERE.  

When Lewis Purdy’s first wife Rachel died in Enfield, Tompkins, New York, in 1839, he had three children (and maybe five)…including my 2x great grandfather, Samuel D.Purdy (21), his brother Andrew (16) and sister Malinda (22).

Lewis promptly married a young woman 26 years his junior, Sarah Jane. Suggestion was that she was a Kellogg.  Lewis fathered seven more children with Sarah Jane while he was in his fifties and while the couple was living in Newfield, Tompkins, New York. In 1863 Lewis was widowed once again and left with several young children.

The eldest, Lewis, Jr. (1840-1923), was fighting in the Civil War and when he returned home, married another Newfield resident, Olive Sholes. Lewis and Olive had three children…none who survived childhood. Eventually Lewis and Olive moved to Van Etten in Chemung County where he owned a farm. Lewis, his wife and children are all buried in Trumbulls Corners Cemetery in Newfield.

The Purdy sisters were dispersed among local residents as domestic servants. Lois went to live in Enfield with her elder half sister, Malinda, wife of William Drake and then later she was sent to Brooklyn with her elder half brother, Andrew where, at age 23, she met and married in 1869 her husband Truman Frear Wicker and moved to Wisconsin. Lois and Truman had one child, Olive (Louis Nigh) and there are descendants. Lois and Truman are buried in Campbellsport, Fon du Lac, Wisconsin.

Ida May Purdy worked for Levi Potts in Newfield for several years before she went to live with Lois and in 1875 married Wisconsin native Clark H. Matteson. She and Clark moved to Nebraska and had four children: Dee, Glenn, Edna and Aurilla. Only Glenn and Aurilla lived to adulthood and there are descendants. The Mattesons are buried in Fairmont, Fillmore,  Nebraska.

margaret purdy obit wisconsin cropMargaret…”Maggie” worked for Lyman Hughley in Hector, Schuyler, New York for several years before moving to Wisconsin near her sister Lois and in 1878 she married Oliver Hendricks. They had two children: Grace and Ray Andrew. Margaret and Oliver are buried in Campbellsport, Fon du Lac, Wisconsin.

Zilla went to work for the Reverend Rumsey in Enfield and after 1870 is unaccounted for. Lucy who was just nine at her mother’s death remains unaccounted for.

The youngest, Sarah Elizabeth (Libbie), was adopted by Enfield residents Benjamin and Betsey Hungerford. She remained in the Ithaca area and married Jonas Kresge and had three children, Vosco, Guida and Reo. Vosco and Guida both died as young children and her son, Reo De Forest Kresge and his wife, Alice never had children. In 1944 when Elizabeth died, she was the last of the surviving Purdy children. She and her family are buried in Trumbulls Corners Cemetery.

So…now that we have run the gamut of Lewis’ second family and examining their records, no mention is made of their father or mother…except for Maggie. Her Wisconsin records indicated she was born in Tompkins County and her father was…ta dah….Luis (sp) and mother Sarah Jane…and her maiden name was Purdy. Once I found that little tidbit, I was able to track down Ida, Lois and Elizabeth.  Thank goodness, the sisters remained in touch!  Maggie, Ida and Lois all listed their surviving sisters and their birthplace as Tompkins County, New York.

Where does this leave me with their father Lewis Purdy? Back to the drawing board in Enfield and Newfield. Lois was a key relational component because she lived with her half sister Malinda Purdy Drake and then her half brother Andrew before she married and went off to Wisconsin. How much did the young women know about their father and their Purdy family? Their Aunt Malinda Purdy Drake died in 1874 and like Lewis, Jr. and his family…are buried in Trumbulls Corners Cemetery. Their Uncle Andrew died in Brooklyn in 1907 and I have his death certificate naming Lewis and Rachel Purdy as his parents. My 2x great grandfather Samuel D. Purdy died in Enfield in 1898 and I have his death certificate. Same data.

Lewis died in Enfield in 1875. That was before New York State required Death Certificates to be filed so there will be no official record. Unfortunately, his obituary in the Ithaca Daily Journal was pretty sparse…no biography and only the mention of my 2x great grandfather.


Mr. Lewis Purdy, father of S. D. Purdy of Enfield Centre, aged upwards of 85 years, was found dead in his bed yesterday morning.  He had been ailing slightly with a cold for a few days, but retired as well as usual.

To complicate things…or maybe to simplify them….there are many Purdys in Enfield and surrounds and they all seem to have come from Westchester County, New York. Are they all related? Very likely. Untangling the familial knots is going to be a chore. Perhaps instead of the Gordian knot…I will call it the Purdy (Purdian?) knot.


Deborah J. Martin-Plugh

Genealogical Researcher, Historian, Contributing Writer and Author

© Copyright 2019

2 thoughts on “Purdy Complicated

  1. At age 92 I have finally given up on the Tyler genealogy. My son says he is not interested. I have moved from Encinitas, CA to Cave Creek, AZ and I live with my son and his 2nd wife. Thanks for all your families stories, I love reading them.
    John E. Tyler, Jr.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s