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CONVERSE Family History, Part I

July 2010

Surname Origins
The name Converse is said to derive from the Old French "CONVERS" which means "convert" and was used to designate Jews and other non-Christians who had converted to Christianity.

The Converse family originates in Vermont (presumably near Plattsburgh, NY). It probably ties in with the line of Deacon Edward Convers, the progenitor of the New England Converse clans.

Our grandfather, Erastus Converse, Sr.2 who was born around 1804, probably near Lake Champlain in Vermont. He married Elizabeth Van Wermer who was born around 1811 in Ohio and began a family in Rockdale Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania around 1829. The family moved to Greene Township, Iowa County, Iowa Territory in 1842, four years prior to Iowa statehood.

In 1847, Erastus Sr. died and in 1851, eldest son, John3, followed the Gold Rush out to California leaving the estate and care of their mother to the second son, William. William later sold the Greene Township estate and moved to Valley Township, Pottawattamie County, Iowa in 1871. John crossed the plains in a covered wagon and settled in the Red Cloud district above Coulterville, Mariposa County, California, an area now better known as Greeley Hill.

Younger brothers, Henry, George, and Erastus all served with the Union Army during the Civil War. Henry and George fell ill during the Mississippi campaigns of 1862 and 1863 and died. Erastus served with the cavalry in the Dakota Territory and after the war eventually made his way to Alberta, Canada.

Asa CONVERS1

1. The father of our Converse family may be Asa Convers, who is found in Le Boeuf Township, Erie County, Pennsylvania in 1820[Cen 1820] and is the elder of two Converses in that area. Asa is believed to at least be the father of George Converse (1799-1874) of Waterford Township, Erie County, and perhaps the father of all the Converses in the area. Unfortunately, from the scant information available in the 1820 census, all that is currently known is that he was 45 years or older at the time (i.e. born before 1775). According to an Iowa biography, the father of our line was originally from the Plattsburgh area on the New York-Vermont state border and fathered at least seven children:

1x. (Daniel S. Converse) (1787) Bef. 1860 (<73)
11. William Converse (1790/1791) Mar 1855 (63)
1x. (George Converse) 24 Oct 1799 1874 (74)
1x. Jesse Converse (1801) --  -- 
12. Erastus Convers, Sr.2 (1804) (1847) (43)
14. Chase Converse --  --  -- 
15. Jemima Converse --  --  -- 
16. John Converse --  --  -- 
17. Polly Converse --  --  -- 
Asa's Origins

If all of the above turn out to be Asa's children, then Asa's migration from Massachusetts (where Daniel S. was born) to Vermont (where William was born) would narrow down to between 1787 and 1791.

Looking over all the known Asa Converss of the time, one with a Vermont connection stands out, but little is know of him other than that he was enumerated in Burlington, Chittenden County, Vermont in 1800 and 1810. Based on the ages given (i.e. 45 years or older), he was born before 1755. Unfortunately, there is no further record of him in that area, nor any other known Converses in Chittenden County in 1820 or before.

In 1820, Asa Converse (age 45+) was enumerated with a man and woman (both age 26-45), and three younger family members: a girl (age 10-16) and two boys (age 16-18 and 16-26) in Le Boeuf Township. On the next page, Daniel S. Converse (age 26-45) is found with a wife and three children: two boys (under age 10) and a girl (age 10-16).[Cen 1820]

Come 1830, brothers William (age 30-40), Jesse (age 20-30), and Erastus (age 20-30) are all enumerated adjacent to each other in Rockdale Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania.

"The Biographical History of Pottawattamie County, Iowa,"
Lewis Publishing Co., 1891
"The grandfather of our subject [William Converse], a farmer in Plattsburg, that state [Vermont], was the father of seven children. The sons being Erastus [Sr.], William, Chase, Jesse, and John, and the daughters, Polly and Jemima."

Daniel and George
Although not mentioned in the biography, I have added two other likely brothers: Daniel S. Converse (1787-1860) and George Converse (1799-1874). Daniel S. and an elder Asa are the earliest known Converses connected to Erie County, Pennsylvania[Cen 1820]. George mirrors the same migration from Vermont, through Erie County, Pennsylvania, and to Greene Township, Iowa County, Iowa, lived adjacent to Jesse in Le Boeuf Township, Erie County, Pennsylvania, and is of the right age to fit as a brother. Daniel stayed on in Erie County through his death in the 1850s.
Sources
  • Cen 1800: 1800 Census, Burlington, Chittenden County, Vermont
  • Cen 1810: 1810 Census, Burlington, Chittenden County, Vermont
  • Cen 1820: 1820 Census, Le Boeuf Township (Township 14), Erie County, Pennsylvania
  • Cen 1830: 1830 Census, Rockdale Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania

Daniel S. CONVERSE (~1787->1850)

1x. Daniel S. Converse was born about 1787 in Massachusetts, possibly an elder brother of Erastus Converse, Sr.. He married Mary "Polly" E., a native of Vermont, and had as many as eight children,[Cen 1820,1830] but so far I have only been able to identify three:

1xx. James Converse (1814) --  -- 
1xx. Converse son (1815-1820) --  -- 
1xx. Converse daughter (1815-1820) --  -- 
1xx. Converse daughter (1820-1825) --  -- 
1xx. Juliette Converse (1825) --  -- 
1xx. Converse daughter (1825-1830) --  -- 
1xx. Josiah Converse (1829) --  -- 

Daniel apppears to have moved to Vermont, perhaps as a child, married Polly, started his family there, and then moved south to Le Boeuf Township, Erie County, Pennsylvania, by 1820. Also found there was an elder Asa Converse, perhaps his father or even an older brother.[Cen 1820]. By 1830, Daniel moved north to the outskirts of Erie in Millcreek Township.

Daniel purchased a 41.25' wide by 165' deep lot (lot 1994 and 1995) on the southwest corner of Parade Street and 5th Street in Erie from Rufus Seth Reed for $400 on March 4, 1838.[Deed 1838, Cen 1840] He acquired a second 41.25' wide by 165' deep lot (lot 1388) along the north side of 8th Street, two lots over from French Street, from Reed for $1,000 on April 17, 1843.[Deed 1843] Daniel and sons James and Josiah worked as millers in Erie.[Cen 1850]

Daniel S. Converse died during the 1850s, probably in his late 60s.

Daniel's widow, Polly continued on in Erie, living with her son James.[Cen 1860]

Much of Daniel and Polly's property in Erie was likely left to son James, as on April 6, 1888, James' estate saw the acquisition of property from his deceased parents and transfer to Gertrude M. Brown and C. M. Conrad on the same day.[Deed 1888]

Sources
  • Cen 1820: 1820 Census, Le Boeuf Township, Erie County, Pennsylvania
  • Cen 1830: 1830 Census, Millcreek Township, Erie County, Pennsylvania
  • Deed 1838: 4 Mar 1838, Parade Street, Erie, Erie County, Pennsylvania, recorded 5 Aug 1839
  • Cen 1840: 1840 Census, Erie, Erie County, Pennsylvania
  • Deed 1843: 17 Apr 1843, Eight Street, Erie, Erie County, Pennsylvania, recorded 17 Apr 1843
  • Cen 1850: 7 Aug 1850 Census, East Ward, Erie, Erie County, Pennsylvania
  • Cen 1860: 24 Jul 1860 Census, East Ward, Erie, Erie County, Pennsylvania

William CONVERSE (~1791-1855)

11. William Converse was born in Vermont in either 1790 or 1791. He and two younger brothers, Jesse and Erastus, moved to Rockdale Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania, by 1830. He is not known to have ever married.

Iowa Territory

The first American settlers arrived in eastern Iowa by 1833, following the Black Hawk War of 1832, but the the eastern counties were not established as a territory until 1838. In 1842, the U.S. government moved the Sac and Fox Indians along the Mississippi River southwest to a reservation in Kansas. This opened up more counties to the west.

Iowa became the 29th state on December 28, 1846.

William lived in Woodcock Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania, southwest of Rockdale Township, at the time that he sold 100 acres in Rockdale Township to James A. Ferris on April 17, 1839, for $550. The property was located in the southeast corner of donation tract 1526 and adjacent to donation tract 1520 to the east and donation tract 155 to the west.[Deed 1839] William's brother Jesse lived nearby in donation tract 1522, presumably to the southeast, and brother Erastus to the south of that. This transaction came a month before brother Erastus sold his Rockdale tract and both moved west to Iowa. The junctions later known as Ferris Corners are in tract 1526.

It was in 1842 that William and Erastus became among the first white settlers to move into Iowa County settling along Old Man's Creek, which runs through the northern sections of Greene Township (Township 78 North, Range 9 West), in the southeastern corner of Iowa County and about 20 miles southwest of Iowa City, which was then the territorial capital.

"The History of Iowa County," Des Moines
Union Historical Company, Birdsall, Williams & Co., 1881

"History of Iowa County," Pg. 298:

"...Among the other settlers who settled on Old Man's Creek at the earliest times was a family by the name of Convers. Erastus Convers voted at the first election at Old Man's Creek in August 1845 and it appears that William and Elizabeth Convers entered some land in that locality a short time afterward; the land in question was the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of section 3. Therefore it may be stated as a historical fact that the Convers family located immediately east of where the Ricords settled. With the exception of the entries made by Convers and the Ricords, no land was bought in the present bounds of Greene Township prior to the year 1849."

"Greene Township," Pg. 709:

"...Edward [sic, probably William] and Erastus Convers came next, they settled in Sec. 2, township 78, range 9, what is now Greene township. Erastus had a wife and four boys; but Edward [sic, William] was a bachelor and by trade a mill-wright. Both came from Pennsylvania. Erastus died on his own place in the year 1858 [sic]. William put up many excellent mills through this section, for he was a good mechanic. He died in the year 1860 [sic, 1855]."

"The third settler was Henry Starry. He came from Ohio with Erastus Convers, and in 1840 settled in Sec. 34, township 79, range 9, what is now York township. He lived there about twelve years when he went to Marshall county."

The 1850 census of Greene Township shows William Convers, age 60, born in Vermont, and enumerated with his late brother's widow, Elizabeth. At the time William was a mill wright with an estate value of $480. "William put up many excellent mills through this section, for he was a good mechanic."[Birdsall] That same year it appears that William deeded property north of the English River (Township 78 North, Range 9 West, west half of southeast quarter of southeast quarter) to his nephew "Will. Jr."[Deed 1850]

William Converse died March 1855 while living in Iowa County, Iowa. He was in his early 60s, His estate went into probate court and administered by E(dward) R(eece) Ricord who listed William's heirs as Erastus Converse and George Converse,[Prob 1855] possibly his brothers, if not for the fact that his brother Erastus is held to have predeceased him. His heirs may also have been his young teenaged nephews, Erastus' sons. Erastus' eldest son had gone west to California by that time, but curiously sons William and Henry, who both were already beyond the age of majority, were not named as heirs.

Sources
  • Cen 1830: 1830 Census, Rockdale Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania
  • Deed 1839: 17 Apr 1839, Rockdale Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania, recorded 10 Aug 1841
  • Deed 1850: 6 Aug 1850, Township 78 North, Range 9 West, Sec. 35, Iowa County, Iowa
  • Cen 1850: 23 Aug 1850 Census, Green Township, Iowa County, Iowa
  • Deed 1852: 5 May 1852, Township 78 North, Range 9 West, Sec. 3, Iowa County, Iowa
  • Prob 1855: Probate Court Index, Iowa County, Iowa, letters issued 16 Apr 1855
  • Birdsall. This History of Iowa County, Iowa. Des Moines: Union Historical Company, 1881.

Jesse CONVERSE (~1801->1830)

1x. Jesse Converse was born about 1801 in Vermont. He moved to Rockdale, Crawford County, Pennsylvania by the 1830 census with his brothers William and Erastus.

Jesse and George
Research from others shows that Jesse and George Converse (1799-1874), another likely brother, were taxed on adjoining land in Le Boeuf Township (an area around Mill Village), Erie County, Pennsylvania, in 1823. Jesse's lot was 40 acres.

Jesse purchased a tract of 30 acres in Donation Land tract 1522 in Rockdale Township from Ebenezer Felton on May 14, 1831. He subsquently sold the property for "an exoneration tax" whereupon it was purchased by George Charman, prior to 1838.[Deed 1838] His brother William lived in nearby tract 1526, presumably to the northwest, and brother Erastus in the adjacent tract to the south.


Sources
  • Cen 1830: 1830 Census, Rockdale Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania
  • Deed 1838: 28 Nov 1838, Rockdale Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania, recorded 10 Apr 1840

George CONVERSE (1799-1874)

1x. George Converse was born on October 24, 1799, in Vermont, appears in Greene Township, Iowa County, Iowa, concurrent with the Erastus Converse, Sr. family, and a few years older than Erastus, suggesting he may have been an elder brother. George married Maria Lyman, a native of Pennsylvania born to Prussian immigrants, on March 20, 1823, in Waterford Township, Erie County, Pennsylvania. They had eight daughters and one son:

1x1. Nancy Converse 1 Jan 1824 12 Aug 1872 (48)
1xx. Hannah Thomas Converse --  --  -- 
1xx. Mary Elizabeth Converse 1826/1833 --  -- 
1xx. Sarah Converse (1828) --  -- 
1xx. Jane Catherine Converse 1830 --  -- 
1xx. Olive Converse (1832) --  -- 
1x7. William Wallace Converse (1838) --  -- 
1x8. Helen Marion Convers (1840) --  -- 
1x9. Philena Marie Converse (1845) --  -- 
Jesse and George

Research from others shows that George and Jesse Converse, a likely brother, were taxed on adjoining land in Le Boeuf Township (an area around Mill Village), Erie County, Pennsylvania, in 1823.

Another note cites that a John Converse witnessed the baptism of daughter Philena Marie Converse in 1845.

The Converses started their family in Waterford Township.[Cen 1830]

The Converse family began selling off their property in Erie County, Pennsylvania, in 1845 and resettled in Naperville, DuPage County, Illinois, presumably that same year. George and Maria sold property in Waterford Township to Mary E. Skelton on June 16, 1845, and three separate transactions to Hiram L. Vader on May 12, 1846.[Deed 1845-1846]

The Converses remained in Naperville through 1850, when Maria was noted living with daughter Nancy (Converse) Hunt's family.[Cen 1850] George's whereabouts that year are unknown.

Naperville
Birth places of James and Nancy (Converse) HUNT's children reveal that the Hunts (and likely the Converses) left Waterford, Erie County, Pennsylvania, in late 1844 and settled in Naperville, DuPage County, Illinois.

George and Maria acquired land in Waterford Township from the estate of Hiram L. Vader on November 13, 1851, and that same day deeded it to Performance Specific, presumably a company.[Deed 1851]


1856 Census of Greene
The 1856 Iowa census of Greene Township is the basis of this suspected familial connection. George's family is found on page 178 and Erastus' widow Elizabeth and sons are found on page 184.

George scouted out a new plot in Greene Township, Iowa County, Iowa, around 1853 and sent for his family a year later.[Cen 1856] Two years later he deeded part of his lot to I(saac) B. Lillibridge (Section 19, Lot 5), in the hills north of the Iowa River, northeast of Marengo, the Iowa County seat.[Deed 1855]

A few years later they moved to north-central Iowa, just south of the Minnesota border to Bristol Township, Worth County,[Cen 1860] where daughter Helen married in 1859.

George Converse, presumably this George, deeded five remaining plots in Greene Township to nephew "H. B. Converse" on April 10, 1860:[Deed 1860A]

Two weeks later, "G. & M. Converse" deeded the same plots over to sister-in-law Elizabeth Converse.[Deed 1860B]

Maria (Lyman) Converse died during the 1860s in Bristol Township. She was in her 60s.

George continued to farm in Bristol Township with his unwed son William through 1870.[Cen 1870]

George Converse died in 1874 in Bristol Township, at about the age of 74.

Son William lived on at the Bristol farm and married Sarah E. Hooper, an Iowa native born to a father from Prince Edward Island, Canada, in the mid-1870s.

Sources
  • Cen 1830: 1830 Census, Waterford Township, Erie County, Pennsylvania
  • Cen 1830: 1840 Census, Waterford Township, Erie County, Pennsylvania
  • Cen 1850: 3 Sep 1850 Census, Naperville, DuPage County, Iowa
  • Deed 1851: 13 Nov 1851 Census, Waterford Township, Erie County, Pennsylvania
  • Deed 1856: 25 Oct 1855, Township 81 North, Range 10 West, Sec. 19, Lot 5, Iowa County, Iowa
  • Cen 1856: 1856 Census, Green Township, Iowa County, Iowa
  • Deed 1860A: 10 Apr 1860, Township 78 & 79 North, Range 9 West, Iowa County, Iowa
  • Deed 1860B: 23 Apr 1860, Township 78 & 79 North, Range 9 West, Iowa County, Iowa
  • Cen 1860: 12 Jul 1860 Census, Bristol, Worth County, Iowa
  • Cen 1870: 27 Jul 1860 Census, Bristol, Worth County, Iowa

Erastus CONVERSE (Sr.)2 (~1804-~1847)

12. Erastus Converse (Sr.)2 was born in Vermont, possibly across Lake Champlain from Plattsburgh, New York around 1804. He moved to Pennsylvania, perhaps as a youth in the 1810s, and married Elizabeth Van Wermer, a native of Ohio. They settled for a time in Pennsylvania before moving on to Iowa in 1842. Erastus and Elizabeth had five sons and a daughter who died in infancy:

121. John Converse3 14 Oct 1829 16 Mar 1909 (79)
122. William Converse 20 Oct 1832 13 May 1916 (83)
123. Henry B. ConverseGold Star (1835-1836) 25 Jul 1862 (27)
124. George W. ConverseGold Star (1842-1843) 29 Jul 1864 (22)
125. Erastus Taylor ConversBlue Star (1845) --  -- 
126. Daughter (1837-1847) Infancy -- 

Elizabeth (VAN WERMER) CONVERSE Erastus Converse (Sr.) was born in Vermont, probably across Lake Champlain from Plattsburgh, New York around 1804. He moved to Pennsylvania, along with his elder brothers William and Jesse perhaps in the 1810s. There he married Elizabeth Van Wermer, an Ohio native and in 1829 their first son, John, was born in Pennsylvania. Their second son, William, was also born in Pennsylvania, in Rockdale, Crawford County, as likely was their third son, Henry.

Donation Land Tracts

The northwest portion of the Pennsylvania Purchase of 1784 (Treaty of Fort Stanwix with the Iroquois) was designated as "Donation Land" and given to soldiers, ranging from 200 to 500 acres, to induce them to stay in service at the close of the American Revolution. The lands were divided into ten districts, of which District VIII spanned the northern row of townships in Crawford County and into Warren County. The lands surveyed by Alexander McDowell in 1786 included the southern two-thirds of Rockdale Township, which in turn included tracts noted in the 1520-1551 series.

Two months after Erastus sold his lot to Daniel Burgess, Burgess turned around and sold a 30-acre sublot, presumably of the same lot, to John J. Purse and James M. Constable. That sublot was described with Muddy Creek running from the southeast corner to the northwest corner. Muddy Creek cuts across the south of Rockdale Township and is paralleled by Teepleville Flats Road (State Route 1035).

After 1834 the family acquired a tract in Rockdale Township from James McKray, who had received the land by grant from the State of Pennsylvania in 1834. They settled in that area until at least May 27, 1839, when Erastus and Elizabeth sold the tract, 105 acres and 40 perches (¼ acre), to Daniel Burgess for $400. The tract was bounded on the north by donation lot 1522, in which his brother Jesse lived from 1831 until sometime before 1838; on the east by donation lot 1548; and on the south by Abraham Warner (1796-1870).[Deed 1839] A month earlier Erastus' elder brother William sold his Rockdale Township tract of 100 acres in donation lot 1526, which is believe to have been to the northwest of Jesse's lot in tract 1522. Erastus, William, and James McKray all moved west to Greene Township, Iowa County, Iowa Territory.

Rockdale Township, Pennsylvania, 1839
Iowa Territory

The first American settlers arrived in eastern Iowa by 1833, following the Black Hawk War of 1832, but the the eastern counties were not established as a territory until 1838. In 1842, the U.S. government moved the Sac and Fox Indians along the Mississippi River southwest to a reservation in Kansas. This opened up more counties to the west.

Iowa became the 29th state on December 28, 1846.

In 1842 the Converse family became one of the first families to move into Iowa County settling along Old Man's Creek, which runs through the northern sections of Greene Township (Township 78 North, Range 9 West), in the southeastern corner of Iowa County and about 20 miles southwest of Iowa City, which was then the territorial capital. Erastus reportedly was the first to settle in Section 2[Birdsall] or Section 3 of Greene Township, along Old Man Creek, just east of Holbrook.

"The History of Iowa County," Des Moines
Union Historical Company, Birdsall, Williams & Co., 1881

"History of Iowa County," Pg. 298:

"...Among the other settlers who settled on Old Man's Creek at the earliest times was a family by the name of Convers. Erastus Convers voted at the first election at Old Man's Creek in August 1845 and it appears that William and Elizabeth Convers entered some land in that locality a short time afterward; the land in question was the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of section 3. Therefore it may be stated as a historical fact that the Convers family located immediately east of where the Ricords settled. With the exception of the entries made by Convers and the Ricords, no land was bought in the present bounds of Greene Township prior to the year 1849."

"Greene Township," Pg. 709:

"James McKray settled in the northeast corner of section 1, in the summer of 1840. Mr. McKray came from the State of Pennsylvania. Misfortunes soon came upon him, the first of which was the death of his wife; fire then destroyed his fense and other property. He married and removed to Keokuk county, and there died about thirty years ago."

"Edward [sic, probably William] and Erastus Convers came next, they settled in Sec. 2, township 78, range 9, what is now Greene township. Erastus had a wife and four boys; but Edward [sic, William] was a bachelor and by trade a mill-wright. Both came from Pennsylvania. Erastus died on his own place in the year 1858 [sic]. William put up many excellent mills through this section, for he was a good mechanic. He died in the year 1860 [sic, 1855]."

"The third settler was Henry Starry. He came from Ohio with Erastus Convers, and in 1840 settled in Sec. 34, township 79, range 9, what is now York township. He lived there about twelve years when he went to Marshall county."

Erastus built a simple log house on his remote claim, a good 100 miles from the nearest trading post of Burlington in the southeast corner of Iowa. Wild game was plentiful but the family had to go without many common provisions and substituted wheat flour, sugar, and tea with hand-ground buckwheat flour, honey, and red root. The Converse claim laid only three miles from an Indian reservation where they maintained good relations with the neighboring Sac and Fox Indians and their chief, Keokuk.

Sac & Fox Indians

The Sac (Asakiwaki) and Fox (Meskwaki) Indians, Algonquin-speaking tribes, are believed to have originated near the Saint-Lawrence Seaway in Canda and later moved to Saginaw Bay, Michigan, and Green Bay, Wisconsin, under pressure of the White Man and the Iroquois in the mid-17th century. There the Sac and Fox began to intermarry and the tribes joined. In the mid-18th century they moved again to Saukenuk (modern day Rock Island, Illinois) at the convergence of the Rock and Mississippi rivers. The U.S. government forced them out of Saukenuk into a 40-miles square reservation at the forks of the Iowa River -- not far from Greene as described above.

In 1832, Black Hawk, Keokuk's war-prone rival, made an unsuccessful attempt to retake Saukenuk, his birth place. This marked the last Native American fight for homelands east of the Mississippi. In 1842, the Sac & Fox Nation was moved to Kansas. From here many were moved to Stroud, Oklahoma, and became the Sauk Nation. Others returned to Iowa in 1857 and purchased land in Tama County to the northwest of Iowa County.

About 1847, Erastus went on a 70-mile horse ride, perhaps to Davenport on the Illinois border, to fetch a doctor for a sick son. Soon after his return he died from exhaustion at the age of 43.

The Converse family remained in Greene Township for about 28 years. In the 1850 census they were enumerated with William Convers, likely Erastus' elder brother, and Jane Loveland, perhaps Erastus' mother or mother-in-law. Soon after, eldest son John followed the California Gold Rush to Mariposa County.

In 1871, son William moved across state to Valley Township in Pottawattamie County and Elizabeth followed.

Elizabeth (Van Wermer) Converse died on October 30, 1899, in Pottawattamie County, Iowa, at the age of 87.

"The Biographical History of Pottawattamie County, Iowa,"
Lewis Publishing Co., 1891

"Erastus [Sr.], the father of William, went to Pennsylvania, and was there married to Elizabeth Van Wermer, and they had six children: John [Sr.], William, George B., Henry B., Erastus, and a daughter who died in infancy. George B., and Erastus [Jr.] served in the Union Army four years, and George died in the service. In 1842, the father brought his family to Iowa, settling on a claim where the land was not yet surveyed, in what is now Greene Township, Iowa County. This state was then an entirely new country and he had to go seventy miles for his groceries, the family having to rely upon their own production for most of their supplies, which consisted mainly of corn, bread and buckwheat cakes, with wild game and fish. For five years they were without beef, pork, coffee, sugar and milk. Tea they made of "red root"."

"The corn they ground with a hand mill. Their clothing was mostly made of buckskin. They lived in a big log cabin, with no sawed timber except the doors and window casings, which were made from their dry-goods boxes that they had brought from Pennsylvania and their floors were of puncheon. But they had a comfortable home and was content. There were no schools, churches, roads, courts, lawyers or even a justice of the peace, and but one doctor who lived nine miles distant. The people were healthy, happy and peaceable. Their habits were simple and they were friendly and hospitable, helping each other for miles around."

"Mr. [Erastus] Converse [Sr.] lived to be the age of 43 years, dying from exhaustion brought on by riding 70 miles on horseback without a saddle for a [doctor] for his sick son. His widow is still living at the age of 80 years, with her son William. When she first came to Iowa, the Sac [Sauk] and Fox Indians were very numerous but friendly and Keokuk [1790?-1848?], the celebrated chief, used to come to their cabin, and frequently partook of their hospitality."

Sources
  • Cen 1830: 1830 Census, Rockdale Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania
  • Deed 1839: 27 May 1839, Rockdale Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania, recorded 11 Jan 1848
  • Deed 1839: 31 Jul 1839, Rockdale Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania, recorded 10 Apr 1840
  • Cen 1850: 23 Aug 1850 Census, Green Township, Iowa County, Iowa
  • Cen 1860: 4 Jun 1860 Census, Greene Township, Iowa County, Iowa
  • Cen 1880: 1 Jun 1880 Census, Village of Western, College Township, Linn County, Iowa
  • Birdsall. This History of Iowa County, Iowa. Des Moines: Union Historical Company, 1881.