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Family History

February 20, 2008

The history of the Addiss Family in America dates back nearly two centuries to the early 1800's. 

The Legend

The origins of the family in America are a little sketchy, but legends handed down from one generation to the next offer a glimpse of our possible heritage.

Legend has it that 5 (or 7) brothers came to the United States to seek their fortunes in the new world.  It also claims that these brothers may have come from either England or France after serving in the French Revolutionary War (the war lasted from 1789-1798).  Most likely Daniel S. Addiss was the child of one of these brothers.

The family passed through Ireland, across the ocean to Canada, and finally ended their journey in a fledgling wilderness town, Royal Oak, MI. Once here, the family was said to have chosen the name Addiss from thin air. There was never any explanation of why they chose the unusual name.  This name change has created great difficulties in tracking down our Addiss relatives back to their origin.

Royal Oak, Michigan

Royal Oak is located 10 miles from Detroit in Southern Oakland County.  On July 31, 1763, the British were ambushed by several western Indian nations led by the great chief Pontiac. An attempt was made to massacre Fort Detroit. 

Royal Oak was named by Governor Lewis Cass in 1817 after walking through the marshes and happening upon a clearing with an Oak Tree. He remarked "This is truly a royal oak". The town officially opened for settlement in 1818 with the first land sale made in Jan 1819 to the William Thurber family at $1.25 per acre. Chasis Corners, Thirteen Mile Road and Crooks Road were the center of community activity. David Chase opened the first store in 1826. 

Royal Oak was part of Troy township but detached from Troy in 1832.  All town records from 1832 through 1856 have been lost or destroyed by fire which further hampers our efforts to track down our early Addiss Ancestors in Michigan.

The first railroad came to Royal Oak in 1838, running from Detroit to Pontiac.

What Are The Facts?

At this point the legends are still that, legends. While we have verified certain facts which do not appear to contradict the original legends to any great extent, however we are not yet prepared to claim that the legends are true.

Daniel S. Addiss and Huldah Bronson

Here's what we know for sure based on documented evidence:
Daniel S. Addiss was born somewhere in Ireland (possibly Dublin) approximately 1813. Sometime after coming to Royal Oak, he married Huldah Bronson about 1840-1841 when she was about 17-18 years old. She was born in Rochester, NY on Jul-12-1823. We do not know her parents names and cannot trace her ancestry any further back at this time.

Daniel & Huldah had 8 children, 4 boys and 4 girls between 1842 and 1857. Their children from oldest to youngest were Nathaniel Stephen, William Henry, Lucy A., Hannah A.,  Belinda Jane, John, William A., and Mary A. It's slightly unusual that they had TWO sons named William, but they definitely did. This may be why William Henry preferred to be called Henry Addiss (in order to remove the confusion of 2 Williams). Daniel spent his entire life in Royal Oak, working as a farmer and laborer to support his family. William Henry lived in Pennsylvania for about 10 years before returning to Royal Oak.

Unfortunately, Daniel died young at the age of 42-43 on June 25, 1855 according to Oakland MI County Probate Records. Daniel's resting place is not know at this time.

Upon his death, Huldah was left in a desperate situation with seven children ranging in ages from 5 years to 18 year old. At the time of Daniel's death in June 1855, Huldah was pregnant with their eighth child (Mary).  1860 Michigan census records show that the family has been forced to split up.

Huldah remarried to James Eldred in 1859, however, only some of the children lived with them when the 1860 Census was taken. Lucy A. (age 15), William A. (age 10) and Mary A. (age 4) are shown to be living with their mother and new stepfather in 1860.

According to the 1860 Census, William Henry (age 16) lived with the family of Ben Eldred (probably working for them as a farm laborer) in 1860.

The two oldest boys Nathaniel Stephen and William Henry enlisted in the Union Army to serve in the Civil War on April 12, 1862. Since William Henry was too young to enlist at the time, (He was only 17), Huldah had to sign a consent document for enlistment because he was still a minor.

Both Nathaniel and William were assigned to the same outfit, Co. G, 17th US Infantry and served three years, surviving numerous battles together including the Battle of Gettysburg on July 2, 1863.

Upon their discharge at the end of their service on April 12, 1865, it is believed that one or both of them traveled to Washington, D.C. and attended a play called "Our American Cousin" in Ford's theatre on  the night of April 14, 1865.  During that performance, president Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

Both Nathaniel Stephen and William Henry married and had large families.  At present all of the families in the United States with the name ADDISS (with 2 S's) are descended from these two brothers.

The descendents of Daniel & Huldah through their 4 daughters (Lucy A., Hannah Ann, Belinda Jane, and Mary A.),  have not been identified as of yet because it is unknown if they ever married, or had families, however we do know that all of them died before 1900. We will continue to try and track down any related descendents.

It is also not known if the two remaining brothers, John & William A. Addiss ever had children. We have not found any significant evidence of this either way, however we do know that both of them died before 1900.

We know that 6 of the 8 children of Daniel Addiss and Huldah Bronson died before 1900 because in Huldah's 1900 Census record it states that she had 8 children and only 2 were living.  Since we know that William H. Addiss and William A. Addiss survived until after 1930, the remaining 6 brothers and sisters must have died before 1900.

Huldah remarried again in 1884 to a German immigrant named Nicholis M. Formaz, a farmer and saloon keeper, in 1884 and lived with him and his son Simeon V. Formaz in Royal Oak, MI until her death.

Huldah lived to the age of 78, passing on April 9, 1902 in Royal Oak, MI. She is buried with her eldest son Nathaniel Stephen (d: 1897) in the Royal Oak Pioneers Cemetery in Royal Oak, MI. Here is the marker on their grave.

William Henry Addiss

William Henry Addiss married twice, first to Lucy Thompson who was born in Northern Ireland, and they had 2 children George Henry Addiss and Nathaniel Asa Addiss. William and Lucy moved to Pennsylvania where the 2 boys were born, but she left them to return to Michigan several years later, eventually she moved back to Ireland.  William Henry returned to Michigan and remarried to Theresa Jane Rush on March 12, 1883. They had 3 girls, Lillian May Addiss, Edna Perl Addiss and Esther Vera Addiss.

William Henry and his second wife, Theresa Jane Rush died within two days of each other in 1932 and are buried in a family plot in Oakview Cemetery across the street from Huldah & Nathaniel. Apparently they preferred to be called Henry and Jane since those names are more prevalent on their grave markers and appear that way in some Census Records and other documents. They are buried next to their daughter's family, Esther Vera Addiss & Glenn Larimour Myers. At the time of their deaths in 1932, William Henry and Theresa Jane resided at 102 S. WIlliams Street, which is now the location of the Royal Oak Public Library.

Nathaniel Stephen Addiss

Nathaniel Stephen Addiss married Dilley Smith on September 26, 1868 and they had 10 children.  Their children were, Garrett Emby Addiss, William H. Addiss, Daniel E. Addiss, Justus Joseph Addiss, Huldah A. Addiss, Lorenzo Chapman Addiss, Amelia Jane Addiss, Charles Darwin Addiss and Grover Cleveland Addiss.

During the course of their lives they moved around quite a bit and lived in various cities in Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Illinois. Nathaniel died in Chicago, IL on April 5, 1897  Dilley died on October 3, 1914 in Jersey City, NJ.  Nathaniel is buried with his mother in the Royal Oak Pioneers Cemetery in Royal Oak, MI. Here is the marker on their grave. We do not know where Dilley was laid to rest, but we suspect it is in or around Jersey City, NJ.

Where are we today?

Today, the descendents of Daniel S. Addiss and Huldah Bronson number over 730 individuals (including spouses) spanning 8 generations, and we're finding more and more every time we turn around.

As of 2008 there were about 90 families in the United States with the name Addiss, and that continues to grow each year.

To view a list of all Descendents of Daniel & Huldah Click Here