Jonathan S.

I consider myself very fortunate to have a number of ancestors with unique names. Jonathan Sanborn Basford used his middle initial to distinguish himself from his father Jonathan Basford. In the two principle counties where he lived, I can be assured that any records from the right time period with Jonathan S. or J.S. Basford on them belong to him. That’s a luxury; I never have to worry if the many records I find for him belong to someone else. There are a lot of them, too.

If I were limited to two words I could use to describe Jonathan S., those two words would be: Land Deals. I’ve spent a few hours at the Family History Center recently pouring over a reel of microfilm of deed indexes from 1845-1870 for Nodaway County, Missouri and just for the time from 1858-1870, there are 30 deeds, mortgages and patents listed with his name on them. I still have 25 years left to search! That doesn’t include the numerous deeds from his time in Edgar County, Illinois. His father had a similar penchant for buying and selling land. I’ve begun to see evidence that Jonathan S. was teaching his sons the “family business” for lack of a better term.

Jonathan S. was born 8 Jun 18111 in Franklin, Vermont.2 In 1826, when Jonathan S. was 15, his parents moved the family to Edgar County, Illinois.3

The first thing of note that he did was sign up to fight in the Black Hawk War along with his brother-in-law Samuel Jones. He served as a Private in Captain Jonathan Mayo’s Company of the 1st Regiment, 2nd Brigade of the Illinois Mounted Volunteers.4

This company was organized at Paris, Edgar county, on the 10th day of May, 1832; took up the line of march for Hennepin on the 4th of June, the place where it was ordered to rendezvous, and reached that place on the 11th of June, and was mustered into the United States service at Wilbourn on June 19, 1832. — J. Mayo, Capt.5

Jonathan S. spent his 21st birthday on a 186 mile march from Paris, Edgar, IL to Hennepin, Putnam, Il. Look who re-enlisted on June 16th at Fort Wilbourne.6

Fort Wilbourn Historical Marker

I’m not saying Abraham Lincoln and my 3rd Great Grandfather were buds or anything, and Mr. Lincoln could have well been out on a scouting detail when my Jonathan S. mustered in, but they could have been in the same area at some point. I’m allowed to imagine that they were.

The closest I can come to speculating about action Jonathan S. might have seen is near the end of the war. Jonathan Mayo’s company served under Colonels Blackburn and Archer. This entry is from August of 1832.7

pg 224

On Aug 15th the name Bassford, Jonathan S. appears on a muster roll as having been mustered out. It’s significant to me that when Captain Jonathan Mayo was interviewed for the History of Edgar County, Illinois, he recalled by name those who served in his company. His recollection included Sanborn Basford and Samuel Jones.8

Shortly after he returned home, he married Guly M. Allen on 23 December 1832 3 Jan 1833, and then straight away they began their family.9 It was an inauspicious beginning. Their first child, a son, Delana was born 6 October 1833. Less than 10 weeks later he died. Four of their twelve children are buried next to one another in Mount Carmel Cemetery in Edgar County–all boys. We only know of 10 of the 12, and only 2 of them are girls. We know from obituaries and census records that this couple also raised 6 of their grandchildren; both the daughters died in their twenties leaving behind 5 of those grandchildren. In addition to all these children, they also raised two adopted children. I’m thinking they liked children. Even though Guly could not read and write, Jonathan S. could, and between them they made certain all their children and grand-children could as well. Sadly only two of their children survived them.

In 1856, with six of their known children in tow, they moved to Nodaway County, Missouri,10 presumably for the cheap, fertile land. He was, after all, a farmer.11


And a hotelier, and a merchant, a self-styled attorney (seriously, I get a chuckle from him being shown as an Esq. I didn’t think he was that pretentious), a land wheeler-dealer, and overall entrepreneur. The whole real estate, owning a hotel, selling crops, self-promoting…these are all business ventures and qualities I can assign to my own father over his lifetime.

I get the feeling I’m just scratching the surface when it comes to understanding this man. He certainly left enough paper behind, only a small portion of which I’ve gathered so far. I’m still waiting, for instance, to see if NARA can find and copy the pension he filed in 1890 for his deceased son David Calvin, who died young and as a result of illness contracted during the Civil War. Jonathan and Guly had three sons in that conflict, and Jonathan served in the Home Guard for Nodaway County during its brief existence.

I have grown to admire this man. He was married to the same woman for more than 60 years. I can find no evidence that he didn’t pay his bills. He provided for a lot of children and even though he had reversals of fortune, he seems to have been honest and forthright and a good citizen. He passed on 17 May 1895 at the age of 83, and was survived by his wife Guly and two of his sons. I can think of no more fitting tribute to this interesting man than this comment from the above cited obituary: He was a man of an iron constitution and will power, full of wit and humor and was well and favorably known by every old settler in the Northwest Missouri.


1 Find-A-Grave memorial 15391984

21850 US Census, Illinois, Edgar, District 19, 165A, ln 33

3 United States. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records. Automated Records Project; Federal Land Patents, State Volumes. Springfield, Virginia: Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 2007. Accession # IL0340__.074

4 Elliot, I. (1902). Record Of The Services Of Illinois Soldiers In The Black Hawk War 1831-32 And In The Mexican War 1846-48 (p. 33).

5Elliot, I. (1902). Record Of The Services Of Illinois Soldiers In The Black Hawk War 1831-32 (p. 34). Chicago, Illinois: Journal Company, Printers And Binders.


7 Stevens, F. (1903). The Black Hawk War: Including a Review of Black Hawk’s Life (p. 224). Chicago, Illinois: Self Published.

8 Le Baron Jr, W. (Ed.). (1879). The History of Edgar County, Illinois (p. 228). Chicago, Illinois.

9 Dodd, Jordan. Illinois Marriages to 1850 His pension file from NARA #521714 and 458132

10 Basford, J.S. (1895, May 17). An Old Pioneer Sleeps. Nodaway Daily Democrat. From Arza Bozwell’s Collected Obituaries from Ravenwood, MO area, unpublished.

11 (1876, September 21). Nodaway Democrat, p. 1. Repository: The State Historical Society of Missouri.


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