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  • SteviLyn Owen

1926 Searles Family History, Thanks to Ancestry.

Updated: Oct 2, 2021


Some time prior to 1790, there came to this part of the country a veteran of the Revolution.

With his family Richard Searles had left Connecticut to settle in the place we now know as Searlestown. His house was the second one built between Newark Valley and Owego. Here he reared a family of eight sons and one daughter; all of whom lived to have families of their own except the daughter who died in early life.

Because of the many children bearing the name of Searles, the settlement became know as Searlestown. The name still clings to the neighborhood although at the present time no one by that name resides there.

Emanuel Searles, who was born January 25th, 1794, was the seventh son of Richard Searles, the pioneer. At the age of twenty Emanuel married Miss Sally Worthington, who had come here with her mother and stepfather from Bennington, VT.

Miss Worthington was just one year her husband's junior, both having been born on January 25th.

After their marriage they, too, built a log house just east of the first one built by Richard Searles. Here they lived, till the end of their days, happy and content with their eight children, four girls and four boys.

Many stories have been related of the courage of Emanuel Searles' wife; otherwise to the younger generations she would be known as great, great, grandmother Searles.

One story is told of her journey to her childhood home in Vermont. There was no Ford car or other modern conveyance to carry her there. The only means of transportation in those days was a horse-back or by water.

As told by Nelson Searles, her ride through the wilderness was regarded as little above the ordinary as it was customary of those days. But we would consider it a daring undertaking if by any chance we would have to travel, depending upon only placed trees for guidance.

Another story illustrating the courage of Grandmother Searles is told. The sheep belonging to the pioneer families had to be herded very carefully in yards near their dwellings, because of the wolves. Often during the years of Grandmother Searles life, the howling of the wolves near the cabin would awaken her to instant action. Her main object being to save the sheep. She would hurry outside and with the ax from the woodpile, would beat upon a few logs to drive the wolves away. This was one of the many methods used to protect the sheep.

Nelson Searles, the eldest son of Emanuel Searles, is the one in whose memory we hold our family reunion. He married Miss Catherine Brink, daughter of Esquire Brink, at the age of twenty -three. Mr Brink was the first white child born in Binghamton, originally known as Chenango Point at that time. He often told of his playing with the Indian children on the Point between the two rivers.

Captain William Brink, father of Esquire Brink, was one of the first pioneers to come to this section. Accounts of this may be found in the Broome County annals.

The marriage of Nelson Searles and Catherine Brink occurred while she was teaching in the log schoolhouse in Searlestown during the year 1840. We will insert right here, that after teaching school a year she was only just 17 years old at the time of her marriage to Nelson Searles, with whom she lived full 50 years and celebrated their Golden Wedding; a woman of great courage and sweetness of character, a true daughter of her pioneer ancestors.

Nelson Searles was both a farmer and lumberman. nearly all of the eighty years of his life were spent in Tioga and Broome Counties. One of the most remarkable days of his life was when he fired the cannon to celebrate the arrival of the first train in Owego.

Meat was never scarce in pioneer days. To go out and shoot ones dinner was just as common as to go to the store for it. In the spring there were the duck and geese eggs to be gathered from the side of the creek. A young coon or a fawn was a household pet in those times and was easily tamed.

Of the six children that lived beyond childhood only three remain. Those are two sisters and a brother. The sisters being Mrs Ruth Dickinson and Mrs Emman Bailey and the brother, Mr Frank Searles of Wisconsin.

The eldest sons of the family, Griffin and Luke, saw active service in the Civil War, both being enlisted in the 137th Regiment that left Binghamton, September 1862. This regiment was famed as one of the hard-fighting regiments of the Twelfth Corps. It took part in many renowned battles such as Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and also in the campaigns at chattanooga, and participated in Sherman's never-to-be-forgotten march to the sea.

Griffin Searles, the eldest brother, died there in Atlanta, Georgia, at the age of twenty-three, nearly a year previous to the end of the war.

Luke, the other brother, who had enlisted at the age of sixteen and was only nineteen at the close of the war, made for himself an honorable record as a soldier and won the love and esteem of all his comrades.

The third son, Frank Searles, married and settled in Wittenberg, Wisconsin, where four boys were born to him. These four took part in the recent World War and witnessed active fighting while in France. The eldest son made the supreme sacrifice as many of America's young men did, by giving his life for the honor of the flag for which he fought.

Now we have come to the present day and there is no more to tell. This little sketch of family history is not finished but is only waiting for the coming generations to complete it.

This is a record covering approximately three hundred years and seven generations.

We will leave it now to the descendants of the future for fulfillment.

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