In August of 2018, my Almont High School class celebrated their 50th class reunion at the Lions Hall in Almont. Classmates came from Florida, Mexico, Australia, and locations within Michigan. Several of my classmates I hadn’t seen since graduation but most I had seen periodically.
When we started kindergarten, I felt like an outsider. The list of my classmates read like a list of the pioneer families of Almont—Bristol, Hough, Hamilton, Smith, Havens, Borland, Bannister and Spangler. My family had only been here for less than twenty years.
Because of my work with the Almont Community Historical Society museum and having written a book for the 2015 Almont Community
Homecoming, many of my classmates recognized my genealogy obsession. While cousins Linda Bristol and Cheryl Bristol and I were talking, they mentioned that they had been told that they were related to Laura Ingalls Wilder who wrote the “Little House on the Prairie” books. I offered to see if I could establish the connection.
Linda and Cheryl are second cousins. David Ingalls, who bought property in Almont in 1830 and came here to settle in 1836, is Linda’s third great-grandfather and Cheryl’s second great-grandfather. David’s daughter, Mary Ann, married Joseph Benjamin Bristol, who was the son of Bezaleel Bristol IV, Almont’s fourth permanent settler. Mary Ann and Joseph had a son William Howard Bristol who married Charlotte Louisa Kelsey. William Howard and Charlotte’s oldest son was Willitto Kelsey Bristol. Willitto married Annie May Thomson and were the parents of Linda’s father, William James Bristol. William Howard and Charlotte’s youngest son, Richard Ronald Bristol was Cheryl’s father.
I went online and found the book, “The Genealogy and History of the Ingalls Family in America.” The book indicated that David and Laura were related but it was difficult to lay out the actual relationship. So I went to the Allen County Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana and found the actual book.
David’s grandparents were Jonathan Norwood Ingalls and Martha Jane Locke. Jonathan and Martha had two sons— James Ingalls and Samuel Worthen Ingalls. James married Ruth Sleeper (Jonathan Sleeper’s aunt) and David was the first of their nine children.
Samuel married Margaret Delano and they had a son Lansford Whiting Ingalls, who was David Ingalls first cousin. Langford married Laura Louisa Colby and were the parents of Charles Phillip Ingalls. Charles married Caroline Lake Quiner and their daughter was Laura Elizabeth Ingalls, who wrote the “Little House on the Prairie” books.
David’s grandparents and Laura’s second great-grandparents were the same people—Jonathan Norwood Ingalls and Martha Jane Locke—so the Bristols are related to Laura Ingalls Wilder.
The book on the Ingalls also had an interesting notation. On page 213 it indicated that: “The Ingalls, Sleepers, Taggarts, and Sanborn families moved from New Hampshire to Canada, next to New York and thence to Michigan.”
Elijah Sanborn bought property in Almont on June 30, 1830. One of his relatives was David Ingalls’ great-grandmother. David Ingalls and Benjamin Taggart both bought property on October 30, 1830. David was probably married to Benjamin’s sister, Betsey. Jonathan Sleeper bought his property in Almont on November 23, 1830. Jonathan’s aunt was David’s mother. To complicate the family relationships even more, Oliver and Bezaleel Bristol, the Sleepers, and the Taggarts are all related to John and Priscilla Alden who came over on the Mayflower in 1620.
Copies of the Almont Historical Society’s Homecoming book, “Remembrances of Almont 2020”can be purchased by contacting Jim Wade at 810-796-3355 or firstname.lastname@example.org or stopping by the museum on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.