The Studley Family History

Contributed by Darlene Martin

The following Speech was given by Uncle Ed Norton at a Studley/Norton Reunion in August 1933. Uncle Ed was a grandson of William Studley and John Norton. I knew Ed Norton when I was a child. He came to visit us in Nebraska several times in his life time. He is the person who identified the photos in my Hood/Norton photo album. However, he was unable to name many of the photos.

Darlene Martin


Dear Kinsmen and Fellow Citizens:

On August 30th, 1913, nearly a quarter of a century ago, the first reunion of the Studley family was held on the Norton farm, near Neponset. Since that day many of our number in this great family circle have passed to the Great Beyond.

We are gathered here today not only to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the arrival of the first white settlers in Neponset township, but to commemorate their lives and deeds and we wish to pay just tribute to those to whom we owe so much that can never be fully repaid. We are indebted to William and Ann Chapman Studley, who built the first log cabin on these virgin prairies, as it was not by chance or lot that they established their home, but by forethought and good judgment as we find by their actions after leaving England, their native land.

It was in 1824 that these pioneers decided to leave Yorkshire, England and make their future home in America, but upon their arrival at the dock of Lynne, it was found that there was an outbreak of smallpox and they were refused passage. Returning to their home, although greatly disappointed, they again took up their work upon the farm and it was nine years before they could accumulate enough money to again make their start. In the spring of 1833, they sailed for America. They were accompanied by their four children: William Studley Jr., Ann Studley, Robert Studley, and Thomas Studley. They came to Quebec, thence to Columbus, Ohio, traveling part of the way by the Erie Canal. With ox teams the family journeyed to Naples, Illinois by August 1833. It required fourteen weeks to make the trip from England. Six weeks and three days were spent on the ocean sailing Vessel. Not being pleased with the section where first they stopped, they moved near Lynnville, Morgan County, now Scott County, Illinois, where they resided until the spring of 1836. They moved to the Osceola Grove, one mile south of the Spoon River bridge, six miles south of Neponset. The hogs and cattle were driven overland. In the fall of that year, sometime during the month of October, but the exact date is not known, they came to Barren Grove and established a home three miles northwest of Neponset, where Woodland provided both fuel and shelter. Here they labored together and aided in subduing the wilderness and extending the frontier. These ancestors of ours figured prominently in early days in connection with events which are now matters of historic importance.

One hundred and twenty acres of wild prairie and timber land composed this homestead where a house, hewn from rough logs was built, and in later years additions were made and throughout their remaining days it was their place of residence. They were Methodists and Mr. Studley was one of the leading Democrats in this section of Bureau County. After a long and useful life spent in this community, this pioneer couple passed away and their graves in the Neponset cemetery are visited annually by relatives and friends of the family, who pay silent tribute to their memories.

To them were born twelve children; four of whom died in infancy in England. The others were: William Jr., Ann Studley Norton, Thomas, Robert, Christopher, Jane Studley Dunn, the first white child born in Neponset township, Elizabeth Studley Bumphrey, and Charles. Robert was a bachelor but from the remaining children there has sprung a large family circle now of the sixth generation numbering about 250.

In the Studley cabin the first school was held and later a school house was built on the old trail eighty rods south of the cabin. The Methodist church was organized in 1841. The home of Ann Studley Norton was the meeting place until 1855, when a church was built in Neponset. The Studleys were naturally agriculturists. They are almost without exception are an agricultural family. We have no doctors, no preachers, no lawyers. We have no criminals nor inmates of penitentiaries nor ever have had in this family. We have been blessed with long lives and large families. William Studley was the soldier of the family and many of our family have held offices of public trust.

After the death of William Studley in 1878, Ann Chapman Studley moved to Neponset where she resided until 1886, the year of her death.

This is a brief story of the Studley family but we cannot forget "Uncle Chris" who came here with his parents when he was two years old and lived in Neponset until his death at ninety years of age. In 1925 the citizens of this community held a home-talent chautauqua during which a historical pageant was presented and dedicated to him. One of the episodes depicted the building of the Burlington railroad here in 1854 with "Uncle Chris" in charge of a gang of workman with settlers for miles around attracted to the scene.

Uncle Tom was the humorist of the entire family and many an interesting yarn he spun for his friends and he enjoyed a good joke upon himself as well as upon others. He was a great reader and loved to discuss the politics of his day.

Others of the family are recalled but time does not permit their characteristics as each one possessed a rugged personality which time cannot erase from our memory. Prairie fires and visits from Indians were subjects of interest to us and delight was found in reviewing the scenes of the early days but all stories were worthy of repetition during our childhood days and in later life the dangers and hardships through which they passed were not forgotten.

Today we honor these men and women, especially William and Ann Chapman Studley, who formed the sturdy tree, deep rooted in industry and frugality, from whom we descent and it is well that we forget not the lessons handed down to us by these sturdy pioneers

And now in respect to their memories, I ask you to bow your heads and give them one moment of silent thought.


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