Sunday, April 18, 2010

Samuel & Ann Fuller


(ca. 1860)

Sarah Ann Osborn (1812-1892) known by everyone as "Ann", born in Winslow Maine, was a Daughter of the American Revolution. Her father Ephraim had served in the Battle of Lexington. Ephraim Osborn's DAR page  Upon being asked to serve in the War, Ephraim had just moved from Long Island with his brother, and married Lydia Wyman (Sarah's mother).  Ephraim’s post was at Fort Halifax (a national monument), built in 1754 by John Winslow to protect Waterville from attack by French Canadians and Indians.  He also served as constable of the Town of Winslow in 1779.  He took time off to serve for a short time in Captain Thomas Cowdin’s Company of Colonel Samuel Denny’s Regiment.

In 1834, Sarah married Samuel Bean Fuller (1812-1890), whose mother, Sally Bean (of the Central New Hampshire Beans), was also DAR, since her father, David Bean also fought in the Revolution

(1885, 50th Wedding Anniversary)

(1885, 50th Wedding Anniversary)

While we've still been unable to locate Samuel's NH birth record, it is believed that he was born in Center Harbor, NH.  Around 1817, his father, John Fuller, moved the family to Peacham, Vermont (later to Lowell, Mass), and young Samuel was raised by his uncle, Samuel Bean of Meredith, NH, working on his farm. 

We're not sure how or why Samuel had moved from Meredith, NH, but it was obviously prior to 1834.  When he arrived in Maine, he ran a small farm, but also began work on the railroad.

While we know that Samuel's family moved from Peacham, VT at some point between 1831-1836, Samuel may be the same laborer mentioned in Lowell City Directories of 1833.  It's quite conceivable, given that he was about a year away from marrying Ann.

Lowell Massachusetts 1833 Directory

Now, you'll notice his father John is not mentioned here, nor are any of Samuel's siblings.  If this is indeed Samuel Bean Fuller, then perhaps his work brought him there from Meredith, NH, and the rest of the family may have moved there shortly thereafter to be with him.

Life in Maine

As mentioned above, Samuel married Sarah Ann Osborn in Maine in 1834, and started a new life, working on the railroad in Central Maine.

In the winter of 1844, Samuel sold off a half acre parcel of land in Fairfield to Timothy Osborn (another 3rd great grandfather of mine, and a first cousin to Samuel's wife Sarah Ann) for $225.  Timothy's daughter Lydia would later marry Samuel's son Charles in 1859.  Timothy's mother, the "crazy" Sarah Wyman, was sister-in-law to Samuel Fuller.

On the same day, Samuel used that money to go towards a purchase of larger Fairfield property for $700.00 from Alpheus Lyon, which property contained some kind of shingle rights:

 In 1847, Samuel bought a Fairfield 'turning shop lot' and water privilege for $250 from Hudson Osgood, such deed to be voided in a year should Hudson pay him pursuant to note.  I'm assuming the turning shop lot was an investment for the railroad Samuel worked on?:

Samuel owned property in Clinton, Fairfield and Waterville.  Below is a photo of their home in Waterville on 318 Front Street, where they lived in the 1860s.  This house and others in the area were razed at some point after 1914 to build the post office at the junction of Rt 100 and 201:

The Move to Iowa

Just after the Civil War, and immediately after Ann's mother died, Samuel and Ann (with six of their seven children) left Maine, and traveled halfway across country to Ottumwa Iowa, to start up a dry goods store.  The Homestead Act of 1862 and the expansion of the railroad provided an opportunity for the Fullers to sell goods to prospectors and new homesteaders looking to get themselves set up.

It appears that further influence for the Fullers moved to Ottumwa happened upon the relative success in this town of Samuel's daughter, Martha Fuller and her husband George H. Sheffer.  Sheffer had formed "G.H. Sheffer & Co." at some point by 1862, beckoning the Fuller wagon train to come and join.

Ottumwa Courier Ad
November 4, 1869

Somehow, George's company needed to dissolve by 1864, and it appears that Sheffer joined his father-in-law in the family business thereafter (based on the subsequent clipping showing their success in tax abatement).

Weekly Ottumwa Courier
Sept 29, 1864

Samuel had a strong presence in the local business community while running his dry goods shop.  He protested unfair assessments by the County, and often won.  Here are a couple of instances where his name (and one including his company with George) shows in the paper for this effort against unfair taxation.

Weekly Ottumwa Courier
Dec 24, 1864
Sheffer & Fuller Successful Tax Abatement
$5.00 ($99 in 2020 dollars)

Weekly Ottumwa Courier
Jun 16, 1870
Fuller Failure in Tax Abatement

Weekly Ottumwa Courier
Aug 22, 1872
Railroad Tax Assessment

Weekly Ottumwa Courier
Apr 17, 1873
Fuller Successful Tax Abatement
$12.75 ($280 in 2020 dollars)

He also joined fellow local businesspeople to close their doors on days of the Wapello County Agricultural Fair:

Weekly Ottumwa Courier
Sep 18, 1873
Businesses Close for the Fair

Samuel was also active in politics.  It appears he was an avid Republican, and was very supportive of the elections of Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes:

Weekly Ottumwa Courier
Jul 25, 1872
Campaign for Grant

Weekly Ottumwa Courier
Jul 19, 1876
Campaign for Hayes & Wheeler

An Unfortunate Turn of  Luck

According to History of Wapello County, the 2nd Great Ottumwa Fire occurred January 22, 1873, and within three short hours caused $142,000 worth of damage to businesses located in the "Union Block", situated on the corner of Main and Green Streets.  Fuller, who ran his dry goods store out of the "Harlan's Building" had declared a loss of $3,000 (2016 value would be over $58K), yet his insurance only covered $2,000 ($39K in 2016).  In October of 1873, Fuller declared bankruptcy.

Ottumwa Weekly Courier
Nov 27, 1873

It is most likely that after the fire he never did rebuild his business or engage in any other business, given that subsequent records show Samuel as a 'retired' dry goods merchant.  

I find it strange that the local paper publicized customers' names who had 'paid up' their newspaper subscriptions, but SB Fuller's name appears here in 1875.  It's somewhat comforting to know he could at least pay his debts post-bankruptcy:

Ottumwa Weekly Courier
Apr 21, 1875

A year after the fire, it appears Samuel no longer was renting a store room from J.G. Meek, and the room (now presumably badly burnt) was rented to the McCarroll & Co., and that they were able to move their tin store to that location.

Ottumwa Weekly Courier
Feb 27, 1874

A couple months later, it appears that Samuel and family left their home as well, per the below newspaper clipping:

Ottumwa Weekly Courier
Mar 12, 1874

However, while family did indeed leave their home in the 4th Ward of Ottumwa, the family does appear in subsequent censuses for the 2nd Ward, so I'm not certain what constituted moving to the country while staying in that very city.  Perhaps an error on the reporter's part.

Below are some 2010 pictures of downtown Ottumwa with some very old buildings still standing from that era.  One of these could've been a former site of Samuel's dry goods shop...if the Fire hadn't completely destroyed the structure, that is.


As for their home, it was located on 427 East 4th Street, which is now the site of the police station (left side of the photo below).  To the right you'll see the First Lutheran Church, which was standing during the Fullers' time there, and may have been their place of worship (right next door!).

The Maine Fuller family's presence in Ottumwa, Iowa began in 1862, and ended just before 1900. Samuel's daughter, Martha, was the first to arrive, and the last to leave, heading south to Missouri. The rest of the family moved to Chicago (and some onward to Seattle and LA).  Many of the family are buried at Ottumwa Cemetery (more on this at the end of this page.

Children of Samuel & Ann Fuller:

-Charles Samuel Fuller, (1835-1878) my 2nd great grandfather, was born in Maine, married Lydia Osborn, his second cousin, and didn't head to Iowa until after his parents were established there, as he had been drafted in 1863 into the Civil War.  He moved to Iowa with his family in 1873.  Family legend has it that he was very ill with heart troubles the entire journey.  Their son Timothy died during the journey, at the tender age of 3.  Charles died less than five years after arriving, at the very young age of 42.  His wife Lydia wasn't prepared to settle his estate, and she had to send for family friends from Maine to testify in Iowa during the probate hearings.  Once the ordeal was finished, Charles was buried next to Timothy, and Lydia moved back to Maine with the five remaining children:  Ida, Anna, Arthur, Frederick, and Edith.  Little Frederick died soon after the return trip, at the age of 6.  Lydia married William Moody, and moved to Athens, Maine in Somerset County, and lived the remainder of her life there.

-Martha Ann Fuller, (1838-1918) born in Maine, married George Henry Sheffer from Nova Scotia in 1860.  George had been living in Maine to work in the lumber business.  It is believed that they moved to Iowa first, in 1862, and encouraged Martha's parents and siblings to follow in 1863. George also worked in dry goods (presumably with his father-in-law Samuel), and in 1868 George had declared bankruptcy and did a massive estate sale at Samuel's shop.  After the 1873 fire in Samuel's shop, George became a salesman for Jordon & Sons.  They were Republicans and members of the Congregational Church.  Just before 1900, Martha and George moved to Blue Mound, Missouri to run a hotel during their retirement.  George passed away in Braymer, MO in 1906, and Martha died in Humansville, MO in 1918.  Martha's son, Samuel Fuller Sheffer, moved to Australia at some point between 1900-1904.  Samuel's son "Mel" became a successful pharmaceutical merchant in Melbourne in the 1930s, and has several descendants living in Australia today.

-Julietta Walker Fuller (1840-1922), known to everyone as Etta, was born in Maine (most likely Clinton, since that's where the family lived during the 1940 Census).  She married William Henry Maple from Illinois.  They moved to Chicago with their three children.  Their eldest child, Maud Maple-Miles, was a family genealogist and wrote a great many papers on the Fuller family history.  She was also a renowned artist, color theorist and engraver, and designed bronze plaques marking the Santa Fe Trail through Missouri. She also painted many large pictures of California missions for the Santa Fe stations across the country.  Maud's granddaughter Winifred carried on the family history studied into the 1980's, and had her own book on the Fuller ancestry.  Winifred lived her final years in southern California and died in 1990.

-Louisa Caroline Fuller (1842-1908) was born in Maine.  She married Charles Wood from New Hampshire in 1867 (Niles, Michigan).  They had two children and moved to Chicago ahead of Louisa's siblings.  I find no record of Louisa ever living in Ottumwa.  I believe that Louisa arrived in Chicago first, and was later followed by Etta and Alpheus when their parents passed.

-Alpheus Nason Fuller (1846-1913) was born in Waterville, Maine, and worked as a locomotive engineer on the CBQ Railroad.  He married Ella Moore, had two children (Harrison Maynard Fuller, named for his little brother) and Lucy (who only lived 18 months), and around 1895 he and Ella left Ottumwa and moved to Chicago with son, and his sisters, Louisa and Etta.  In 1897, Ella died, and Alpheus remarried to teacher Maud Hendricks of Fort Wayne, Indiana.  He filed a Will in Chicago in 1901, and his wife Maud died in 1910.  When Alpheus died (in Chambers Prairie, Washington), his Will and Estate were probated in favor of his son and granddaughter, Georgette Fuller (later Stieglitz).  The Estate was valued at $4,210 ($109,765 in 2020).

-Harrison Fuller (1853-1893) was the sixth child of Samuel & Sarah, born 1853 in Maine.  Harry never married, but he inherited the family house on 427 E. 4th Street in Ottumwa before his father Samuel's death, and cared for him until Samuel's death in 1890.  Unlike his elder siblings, he and his younger sister Eva inherited their father's Estate.  However, Harry died at age 39.

-Evalyn Fuller (1856-1889) was the youngest.  She was born in Maine in 1856.  She and her brother were the only children named in Samuel's will.  At the time of Samuel's death, Charles had died, and three of the other children had moved to Chicago.  It's unclear if Samuel's intentions in the will were to take care of the two youngest children, or if there was some bad blood.  Evalyn married Edward Foland, and died giving birth to her only child, named "Little Martha", who was raised by Evalyn's sister Martha Sheffer.

Here's the text from the Will of Samuel Bean Fuller:

Last will and Testament of S.B. Fuller Deceased

I, S.B. Fuller a citizen of the city of ottumwa Wapello County, Iowa, age 67 years, of sound mind and memory and in good health, make publish and declare this to be my last will and testament and hereby revoke and cancel all former Wills made by me.

First: It is my will that all my just debts should first be paid from my estate.

Second: The remainder of my estate both real and personal, I give and bequeath the use thereof to my beloved wife Sarah a. Fuller during her natural life and at her death, I give and devise all my real estate to my son Harry Fuller on the condition that he pays to my daughter Eva Fuller the sum of Five Hundred Dollars which sum I hereby make a lien on my real estate in favor of my said daughter Eva and direct my said son Harry to pay same to her on or before a year after my death.

Third: That my personal property, moneys and credits I give and bequeath to my said daughter Eva the undivided one third in value and to my said son Harry Fuller the remaining undirected two thirds in value subject to the use of my wife during her natural life and it is distinctly understood that my said daughter Eva owns in her own right the piano that is in my house and it does not belong to me or my estate.

Fourth: It is my will that if I should survive either of my said son or daughter then in that case the survivor shall have the whole of my estate and I hereby give devise and bequeath the same to the survivor of my said son or daughter.

Fifth: I hereby appoint my said son Harry Fuller the sole executor of this my last will, if he survives me. If he does not, then I appoint my daughter Eva Fuller sole executor.

In witness whereof I have this 10th day of May A.D. 1879, sign my name.

(Signed) S.B. Fuller, Testator

(ca. 1875)

(ca. 1875)

Sarah died September 10, 1892 and is buried in the Ottumwa Cemetery, Ottumwa, Iowa.  Sarah’s body was taken to its final resting place in a horse drawn carriage over unpaved streets.

A marker was placed at Sarah's grave site on June 18, 1937, by the Elizabeth Ross Chapter DAR.
Below are gravesites of Samuel, Sarah, Charles, his son Timothy, and his brother Harry.

Pedigree charts for Samuel and Ann below.

Samuel, as discussed elsewhere in this blog, has a variety of roots.  His mother, Mary Bean, had an English mother, and a father who was less than half Scottish (dating back to the Scottish throne, with all the ancient Kings).  His father was of entirely English descent, and his paternal line goes back to Mayflower passenger, Edward Fuller.

Sarah Ann's pedigree is 100% English colonial.  There is one distant Welsh ancestor, however, which would give her less than 1% Welsh blood. 


  1. This is my family history! Fascinating to see it here!

  2. Hi, My name is Jenny and I am so happy to find this on the internet! Lydia Wyman is my 5th great grandma! The Winifred that you speak of is my grandma and Maud Maple Miles is my great- great grandma. My mom and I received the family ancestry book, pictures etc. when my grandma passed away. I have always been fascinated with learning more about my ancestry. Thank you so much for putting this information up for others to enjoy and learn even more from.

    1. Nice to meet you Jenny. Feel free to write me at I am always interested in updates, photos, stories, anything that you may find in Maud's book.