The Grant, Wisconsin Ansteys

by Gary. M. Ansteychief researcher of the Anstey story project.

Overview of the Grant, Wisconsin Ansteys

The patriarch of the Grant, Wisconsin Ansteys of America is James Griffiths Anstey (b 1829) of the Stoke Gifford Ansteys, hence they are part of the South Gloucestershire Anstey pedigree.

It is possible that this sub-branch is now Anstey-extinct, though we seek confirmation of that and research is ongoing.

James Griffiths Anstey (b 1829 Thornbury)

James Griffiths Anstey was born on 21 May 1829 and baptised on 4 November 1829 in Kington, Thornbury to parents Thomas Anstey (‘father of thirteen’) and Catherine Williams. He was the 8th child of 13 and his life is detailed in ANSTEY: The Stoke Gifford Branch, the fourth book co-authored by Gary and Tom. He married Elizabeth Reese in 1863 in Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan and they had children in first Newport, Wales and then Grant County, Wisconin:

  • Emily Alexandra Anstey (b 1865 in Newport, known as Emma, was living with her sister Eva and her family in Paris, Grant County, Wisconsin in 1900, and with her brother John Charles and his children in the 1910 American Census after his wife died in 1910. The ‘Fennimore Times‘ on 1 March 1922 reported “PATCH GROVE Emily Anstey , who made her home part pf her time with her sister, Mrs. Walter Taylor, died Saturday forenoon, as a result of pneumonia. She was 56 years of age, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jas. Anstey, deceased, who about 50 years ago came from England and located on a farm in Little Grant and later moved onto a farm near Beetown. Emily was then 5 years of age. Funeral services were held at Bloomington and Burial in the Dodge cemetery beside her parents and two brothers, George and Henry” – she was buried in Dodge Cemetery, Beetown, Grant County);
  • Evaline Augusta Julia Anstey (b 1868 in Newport, known as Eva, married Walter George [Will] Taylor on 25 December 1889 at Bloomington Parsonage in Grant. She was living in Patch Grove, Grant County, Wisconsin in 1900, and Paris, Grant County in 1905. Evaline died in 1947 at her farm in Patch Grove, Bloomington, Madison, Wisconsin and is buried in Dodge Cemetery, Beetown);
  • Sophie Anstey (b 1869 in Newport, married D. Arthurs in 1908 at Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie, Iowa. She died in 1940 in Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska and was buried in Dodge Cemetery, Beetown);
  • Henry W. Anstey (b 1871 in Wisconsin, was buried in 1898 in Dodge Cemetery, Beetown, seemingly without marrying. The ‘Lancaster Teller‘ on 12 January 1899 reported “HENRY W. ANSTEY Brother HENRY W. ANSTEY died Nov 22d at Canon City, Colorado and was buried Nov 27th, 1898, at the Dodge school house cemetery. At a regular communication of Beetown Lodge, A. F. and A. M, the undersigned committee was appointed to draft some tribute of respect to the memory of our deceased brother. Bro. Anstey at the time of his death was 27 years old. He graduated from the Bloomington high school June 5th , 1891. He afterwards attended the Normal school at Valparaiso, Indiana, and received a diploma for the scientific course on the 15th day of August, 1894, and received the degree of Bachelor of Science. He finished the classical course at Valparaiso, Ind., and received the degree of Bachelor of Arts at the close of the year 1895. The diploma for this degree is written in Latin. The testimonials be received from the principal and teachers of the above named school are of an exceptionally flattering nature, and go to show that they considered him a man of a great deal more than ordinary ability. He carried a first grade certificate with an average standing of 93 37. After leaving Valparaiso Bro. Anstey taught for two years in Minnesota, and the testimonials he received from his patrons show him to have been a very successful teacher. Bro.Anstey was a member of Beetown Lodge F. and A. M., having been raised to the degree of Master Mason August 14,1897. He learned the rather intricate lectures of Masonry with the same aptness which had formerly distinguished him as a student. He took the degree of Masonry during the time he was teaching in Minnesota, and therefore met with us but a few times. We saw so little of him that most of us could hardly say that we were well acquainted with him , and had not his untimely death made it necessary for us to look up his past history we would never have suspected the ability he possessed, for he was not a man who paraded his knowledge before others. Bro.Anstey was naturally a man of quiet reserve, which might be mistaken as indifference for the society of others, but those who knew him best spoke highly of him as a companion and Christian gentleman. We were not aware of the delicate state of his bodily health , for he kept his troubles safely locked within his own breast and didnt bother others with a recital of them . The latter part of his life was spent in a vain pursuit of health, which, like a receding phantom continually eluded his grasp. At Canon City, Colo., away from home and friends the end came. There within sight of the glorious mountain peaks capped with eternal snow ; suddenly, almost without warning the spirit of our brother fled to that land where sorrow and sickness will be known no more. Perhaps it was fitting that a grand and noble life should pass encompassed with the sublime and magnificent surrounding of nature. Farewell our brother If found worthy we shall meet you in that Lodge above where the Grand Architect of the Universe presides. We shall meet to part no more. CHRIS A. ARTHUR, GEORGE PARKINS, J. C. ANSTEY. Committee.”);
  • John Charles Anstey (b 1872 Grant, Wisconsin – see below); and
  • George G. Anstey (b 1873 in Grant, Wisconsin, married Clarissa Blanche Sprague (1872-1912) in December 1895 in Grant County, they were living in Patch Grove in 1897 and had at least four daughters, some in Fremont County, Colorado, being Helen B. Anstey (b 1897); Mabel Elizabeth Anstey (b 1899); Sprague Anstey (b 1902, a boy – witnessed his father’s murder in 1912, see below); and Lois Anstey (b 1905, a girl). The ‘Bloomington Record‘ 4 August 1898 reported “ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE STATE OF WISCONSIN Circuit Court Grant County In the matter of the voluntary assignment of GEORGE G. ANSTEY. On the 27th day of July, A.D. 1898 upon the filing of the application for discharge from his debts of the above named George G. Anstey, praying that he may be discharged from his debts in persuance of the provisions of Chapter 385, Laws of 1889, and on motion of Leo Philipson, attorney for said insolvent debtor, It is hereby ordered(1) That all the creditors of the said George G. Anstey show cause, if any they have, before the Judge of the Circuit Court of Grant County at my chambers, to-wit: at the court house in the city of Lancaster, in the County of Grant and State of Wisconsin on the 9th day of September, A.D.,1898 at one oclock in the afternoon of that day, or as soon thereafter as the matter can be heard, why such insolvent debtor should not be discharged from his debts under said….“. In 1900 “Mrs George Anstey was seriously ill with pneumonia“. In the 1910 American Census the entire family were living at Precinct 23, Fremont, Colorado where George was a farmer. George and Clarissa Blanche were involved in divorce proceedings at the time she died in Colorado in 1912; George died too in 1912, he was buried in Dodge Cemetery, Beetown – the ‘Bloomington Record‘ 12 June 1912 reported “Death of George Anstey. George Anstey, formerly a resident of West Grant and favorably known in this vicinity, was shot and killed June 4 at his home near Howard, Colorado. He was on his ranch digging a ditch to drain part of his land when one of his neighbours come along. He and the neighbour had had some trouble before about this ditch, which the neighbour thought would drain a spring on the Latter’s Land. After a few words the neighbour went to his house, close by, and came out with a gun and shot Mr. Anstey several times. Mr. Anstey died before he could be removed to his home, retaining consciousness to the last. Mr. Anstey was unarmed. His little ten year old son witnessed the entire affair. As soon as he realized what he had done remorse overtook the murderer and he sent a man nine miles to the nearest telephone to call the Sheriff, and in the arrival of the Latter gave himself up and now in jail at Canon City, Colo. He is a New York merchant who recently purchase a ranch near Mr. Anstey and was operating it for his health. Mr. Anstey was buried at Howard but will be brought back here for interment soon. George Anstey was born in Little Grant township, this county about 38 years ago. He spent his boyhood days at home and in this vicinity and in December of 1895 was united in marriage to Blanche Sprague, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Harley Sprague of Beetown. They lived on the old Anstey farm in Beetown for a time the moved to the Mose Lewis Farm near Bloomington, and 11 years ago went to Colorado which has since been their home. Mr. Anstey is survived by his wife, and four children, three girls and 1 boy; also three sisters, Miss Emma of Beetown, Miss Sophia of Omaha, Neb and Mrs. Walter Taylor of Patch Grove township; and one brother, John Anstey of Beetown. The relatives have our sincere sympathy in their sudden bereavement.“).

In fact James Griffiths Anstey first went to America in c1849, returning to England in the early 1850s and then returning to America permanently in September 1870, heading straight for Grant County, Wisconsin, to settle (at least initially) with his sister Maria Briscoe. By the 1880 Wisconsin Census, James Griffiths Anstey was living as a farmer in Little Grant, Grant County, Wisconsin together with his six children; his wife does not appear in the census, but he declared that he was still “married”.

James Griffiths Anstey died on 25 May 1895 in Beetown, Grant County (about ten miles south of Little Grant); he was buried in Dodge Cemetery, Beetown, the memorial inscription on his gravestone reading simply “James G. Anstey born May 21 1829 died May 24 1895”. The ‘Lancaster Teller‘ on 25 July 1895 reported “NOTICE TO CREDITORS OF JAMES G. ANSTEY. deceased State of Wiscousin, Grant County. ss. County Court in and for said county. In the matter of the estate of James G. Anstey, deceased. Letters testamentary in said matter having been issued to John C Anstey, of the town of Beetown. Grant County,Wiscousin, on motion of Patrick Bartley, Attorney it us ordered that from this date until, and including the 21st day of January A.D. 1896, be, and the same hereby is, allowed and limited, for the creditors of the said James G. Anstey, deceased, for examination and allowance; that such claims and demands will be received by said court, at the court house, in the city of Lancaster, in said county, at each term thereof within said time, and said court will examine and adjust the same, at the special terms thereof, to be begun and held at said court house, on the third Tuesdays of October, 1895, and January A.D. 1896; and notice of all which shall be given by the publication of this order under the above caption for four successive weeks, in the teller, a weekly newspaper published at the city of Lancaster, in said county, the first such publication to be within fifteen days from this date. Dated July 16th,1895

James’ widow Elizabeth remained in Beetown until her death in 1914; she was buried with her husband in Dodge Cemetery and the message “Elizabeth his wife born 1839 died 1914” was added to the gravestone inscription.

Beetown evidently held fond memories for the children of James Griffiths Anstey and Elizabeth, because all six of them were also buried there (the last in 1957), even though some had long since left Beetown itself.

John Charles Anstey (b 1872 Grant)

John Charles Anstey was born in Grant County, Wisconsin on 11 December 1872 to parents James Griffiths Anstey and Elizabeth Rees. He married Laura D. Blackburn [Blackbourne] (b 1878) on 8 April 1896 in Beetown, Grant County and they six children, being:

  • John Charles Anstey Jr (b December 1897, the ‘Bloomington Record‘ on 26 December 1917 reported “John Anstey Jnr of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station [Chicago] is visiting at the John Anstey Senr farm home in the town of Beetown for a few days. John says everything is fine at the training station“. He was still there in June 1918);
  • Maude Margaret Anstey (b 1899);
  • Bernice Irene Anstey (b 1903);​
  • Laura Evelyn Anstey (b 1905);​​
  • Harry James Anstey (b 1907); and​​
  • Lila Edith Anstey (b 1909)

In 1878 John was part of the Beetown Lodge (masons – see his brother Henry W. Anstey) and he dealt with his father’s estate after his death in 1895. In 1902 John was a First Assembly District Delegate in Plattville. In 1903 “John Anstey of Beetown passed through Lancaster Monday morning on his way to Milwaukee. He is delegate from the Beetown Lodge to the Masonic Grand Lodge” – in 1905 “Elmer Blackburn and John Anstey of Beetown were in Flora vicinity this week looking over land with a view to buying“.

The ‘Fennimore Times‘ on 21 July 1909 reported “Mrs John C. Anstey died at her farmhouse four miles north of Beetown July 13. Her maiden name was Luella Blackbourn. Her sad and untimely death caused the whole community to grieve. She leaves a husband and six young children the youngest only a few weeks old“. The ‘Lancaster Teller‘ 16 September 1909 reported “TRIBUTE TO MRS. JOHN ANSTEY Laura, daughter of Margaret and George R. Blackbourn, born in Beetown Feb. 22, 1878, died at her home July 13, 1909. She was married to John Anstey April 8, 1896. To them were born six children, all surviving to learn, in later years their great loss. Mrs.Anstey was well known, having always lived around Beetown. She was a devoted wife and mother; always so cheerful, and genial to all, Her untimely death, awakened the sympathy of a wide circle of friends for the bereaved husband and little children. The funeral was held at the Dodge church, Rev. Wooley of Bloomington officiating, speaking comforting words to the grief stricken family. She was laid to rest in the beautiful Dodge Cemetery, beside her departed loved ones, leaving here to mourn her husband and children, one a tiny babe; a sorrowing mother, three brothers, and two sisters. Mrs. W. J. Birch, Mason city, Iowa, Mrs. Thomas Cook, Elmer and Everett of Beetown, and Dr.Blackbourn of Chicago. There is no death! The stars go down To rise upon some fairer shore; And bright in heaven’s jeweled crown They shine forever more. There is no death! An angel form Walks o’er the earth with silent tread; He bears our best loved things away and then we call them “dead”. And ever near us tho’ unseen That dear immortal spirit threads; For all the boundless universe Is life there is no dead. A FRIEND.

After his first wife died, John Charles Anstey remarried Julia May Brown in 1910 in Dubuque Iowa, having a further two children:

  • Ruth Laura Anstey (b 1910 Wisconsin); and
  • Mary Joan Anstey (b 1928 Wisconsin)

In the 1910 American Census the entire family were living at Beetown Grant Wisconsin. The ‘Fennimore Times’ on 19 September 1917 noted “John Anstey of Beetown moved his threshing machine to John Hollenburgers on Thursday to thresh. A spark from the engine lit on the grain stacks and burned seven stacks of mixed oats and wheat“. In the September 1918 Draft Registration for World War One, John Charles Anstey noted that his address was “1 Beetown, Grant” and that he was a farmer running his own business. He also confirmed his next of kin was his wife Julia May Anstey

John Charles Anstey lived in Beetown until the 1930s, at which he moved to Lancaster, Grant County, Wisconsin; he died in 1957 in Lancaster, Grant County and was buried in Dodge Cemetery, Beetown.

Further Details on the Grant, Wisconsin Ansteys

We are actively on the lookout for Grant, Wisconsin Anstey experts alive today who are willing to add their findings and knowledge to this project. We are particularly interested in research regarding Grant, Wisconsin Ansteys who fought in World War One, preferably with personal souvenirs such as letters sent by the soldiers or military photos etc. 

Anybody who has such expertise and inclination, please contact us at research@theansteystory.com.

We have already uploaded bits of information and documentation about the Grant, Wisconsin Ansteys, and continue to upload more all the time (see Project Updates), however it is spread over various segments of the website.

The best way to find said information is to enter ‘Grant, Wisconsin’ in the search box at the bottom of this page and a list of relevant pages will appear.

Anybody who finds any mistakes on this page, please contact us at research@theansteystory.com and we will correct it.

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