William and Elizabeth Voss

What we know about my g-g-grandfather, William Voss, and his family is based on information given to me by my grandmother, Alice (Seward) Walker, and on the biography of William's son, John C. Voss which was transcribed from History of Lawrence, Orange and Washington Co.'s, Indiana, Goodspeed Bros. and Co., 1884, and is available on the Lawrence County,IN, biography site.

William Voss was the second son of Clement Voss and May Britton. He was born 1 Dec 1808. According to my grandmother, he was born in North Carolina. The biography of his brother, Lorenzo Dow Voss, would also place the Voss family in North Carolina at the time of William's birth. The 1850 and 1860 census reports, however, give him a Tennessee birthplace, while he was listed in 1870 and 1880 as being born in North Carolina. In 1816 Clement and May Voss moved their family to Lee County, Virginia. After a short stay there, the Vosses moved on to Grainger County, Tennessee, which is not far from Lee County. William may have moved to Lawrence county, Indiana, at about the same time as his parents, in about 1833.

Elizabeth Cook was the daughter of John and Sarah (Mock) Cook. My grandmother gave me a birth year of 1817 for Elizabeth, but her tombstone clearly gives a date of 9 Apr 1814. John Cook was a farmer and Methodist minister in Springville. Based on the birthplaces given for her and her siblings in census records, we believe Elizabeth was born in North Carolina and migrated with her parents to Indiana via Kentucky, arriving in the Hoosier state around 1823.

According to the Index of Indiana Marriages Before 1850, William and Elizabeth were married 14 Sep 1837, in Lawrence County. The date which grandma gave me was 4 Sep 1838. They resided in Springville, a village in Perry township, near the Monroe county line, only 20 miles from Bloomington, for several decades, and raised their children there.

William and Elizabeth (Cook) Voss had six children:

John may have attended Indiana University or its prep school. The list in Indiana University, Its History, 1828-1890, Theophilus A. Wylie, 1890, which doesn't distinguish between IU and prep graduates, indludes:

William Voss, cabinetmaker, and his family are listed in the 1850 U.S. census in Perry township. Elizabeth's age is given as 33, which would lend credence to my grandmother's information. William's brother Lorenzo and his family have an adjacent entry. William and Elizabeth were present in the same area for the 1860 census.

According to the inscription on her (now illegible) grave marker, Elizabeth died 31 Jan 1866. Since John C. Voss' biography mentions that he moved from Lawrence county to Monroe in 1865, it is possible that William and Elizabeth moved there at that time also, even though Elizabeth is buried in nearby Lawrence county.

Sarah Elizabeth moved to Bloomington in 1866, probably along with her father, and married John Wesley Walker in a Methodist Church on West 6th Street 19 Nov 1868. According to clippings in Grandma Walker's scrapbook, Sarah Elizabeth lived at 222 East 7th Street in Bloomington the rest of her life. Her husband, who was known as "Wesley", was born at Heltonville, in Lawrence county, 16 Jul 1842, and was a carpenter and Civil War veteran.

We had only the haziest idea who William Voss' second wife was until we heard from Treva E. Peckham, the Lawrence county coordinator for INGenWeb, whose concise reply brings together all the pertinent information:

Mystery Solved

Phoebe Dye the daughter of Kinneth & Charity Merrill Dye married 1st John A. R. Mitchell October 11, 1842 Lawrence Co., IN (B354) - John died January 25, 1859 - Phoebe then married William Voss November 18, 1869 Lawrence Co., IN (E271)

Phoebe S. (Dye) Mitchell Voss
January 14, 1825 - May 21, 1902

1850 Census John and Phoebe Mitchell were in Perry Township Lawrence Co., IN with 3 kids they were neighbors with Phoebe's parents and Orange Dye (Phoebe's brother)

Orange Dye should be familiar to you also he married Nancy Cook.

1860 Census Phoebe Mitchell now a widow was still in Perry Township Lawrence Co., IN living next to her parents she had 6 children listed with her

Sept 1, 1870 Census, Phoebe is married to Wm Voss they are living in Perry Township MONROE co., IN and 2 of her Mitchell children are living with them

The 1880 census finds William in Bloomington again, living with his wife Phebe S. Voss and son John. The latter returned to Lawrence County, where he was living in Bedford at the time of his 1884 biography. We have no further record of Martha.

William's obituary, from the front page of the Bloomington Courier, 4 Dec 1880, supplies his date of death, places of birth and residence, and provides a third possible marriage date:


Died at his residence in Bloomington, Ind., at 10 o'clock on Friday night, November 26th, 1880, William Voss in the 73rd year of his age.

He was born in Guilford County, North Carolina, in 1808. When about ten years old his parents removed to East Tennessee where he resided till 1831, and then came to Indiana. In 1834 he settled in Bloomington. In 1836 he removed to Springville, Lawrence County, where he was married to Miss Elizabeth Cook on September 14, 1838, who died January 31st, 1866, leaving him two children, a daughter and son. In the fall of the same year he moved to Bloomington. On the 18th of November, 1869, he was married to Mrs. Phebe Mitchell who is left to mourn his loss. He made a profession of religion and joined the M. E. church at a camp meeting near Springville in 1839, since which time he has been a consistent and faithful Christian. In all the relations of life, he was a true man. But his warfare is ended, and he has entered his rest.

William's second wife, Phebe, moved back to Lawrence county where her death received the barest mention in the 23 May 1902 edition of the Bedford Weekly Mail:

Mrs. Phebe Voss died at the home of Doc Ferguson, near Springville, Wednesday [21 May] at 3 o'clock, aged 77 years. The funeral took place Thursday about noon, at Springville.

The Voss family Bible? I can remember my great-uncle George Walker telling me of an old "Voss family Bible" which would have contained the answers to a lot of my questions about the Voss family. George said this Bible was lost when somebody's stepchildren discarded it. I never quite got the details of this story straight, but I'm guessing that George was talking about his grandfather, William Voss, and his second wife's family.

This page was last updated 23 May 2008.