Once upon a time there was a family with ancestral roots around Grand Rapids, Michigan. They knew a few things about their ancestors, such as Delilah who, they were told, was French and from whom the brown eyes in the family came. They knew that when Grandma Porter had surgery for cancer in 1930, "they found her so full of it that they just closed her up again." And from time to time, when someone displayed a bad trait, it was declared that he or she "must have gotten that from Great-grandmother Wells." 

Though the family didn't know much about their ancestors, the ancestral heritage was unusually important to them. Every year on Memorial Day, as many of the family as could gather, did—even from out of state. They would drive 

5th great-grandson Logan in 2006 digging in preparation for planting a geranium beside the Wells grave.

by the brick farmhouse and little North Chester Baptist Church that had played important roles in their family history. They visited the graves of parents and grandparents and planted red geraniums by the headstones. And the patriarch of the family, Grandpa Hawkins, would take off his hat, bow his head, and express a prayer of gratitude for the spiritual heritage left to the family by those who had gone before. 

Then one day in 1951, one group of the family, on furlough from missionary work in faraway Africa, paid a visit to a fairly distant family member—and a seed was planted.


Yes, that was my family, and I was fifteen the day we visited Guy Lockwood. He was a fellow Wells descendant, a cousin of my Grandma Porter, and a first cousin twice removed of my mother, Esther Hawkins Moneysmith. And he was a grandson of our legendary Great-grandmother Wells, who had died in 1888 when Guy was not quite seven. 

The important thing that day was that Guy brought out and showed our family paragraphs he had copied from his grandmother’s Bible. Obviously ancestral heritage had been important to her, too, as you will see in what follows. It caught my interest enough that I copied it into a notebook. Though it would be more than a decade until, as an adult and young mother, I made my first efforts to learn more about her Compton family, that exposure marked the beginning of our current family’s interest in our ancestral heritage. What a journey it has been, especially since the mid-1990s when the Internet opened up whole new ancestral worlds for us!

Now, sixty years later, we know that Great-grandmother Wells was a fine, godly woman who was born Hannah Marie Compton, the youngest of eleven in a large, intriguing family. Wouldn't she be amazed to know that, more than a hundred and twenty years after her death, some of her descendants have connected with descendants of several of her siblings and we continue to dig deeper into the family history—both before her and after her?

What became of Hannah’s Bible is a mystery and source of huge distress to those of us who would have highly treasured it. Guy reported that day that it was in the possession of his cousin Carl Stauffer (also a grandson of Hannah’s through his mother, Jane). Carl died in 1955. When his widow and daughter were approached in 1967 about the Bible, they said they had no knowledge of it—and no “family treasures” nor any interest in such things. 


The first thing Grandmother Hannah told us about was her parents and her siblings. The following are copies of material in her Bible.

Ancestors of Hannah Post     

"Hannah Compton was born in Holland, came to New York City, married Wm. Compton, son of Wm. Compton who fought in American Revolution. Eleven children were born to Hannah Post and Wm. Compton.”

Annie Compton married Seymour Sachwood
David Compton married Rachel Simmons 
Peter Compton married Elizabeth Hitchman 
William Compton married Betsy Penn 
Abraham Compton married Rebecca Campbell 
Hezekiah Compton married Margaret Benson 
John P Compton married Elizabeth Woodruff 
Susan Compton married Cornelius Thompson 
Elizabeth Compton married John Slaget 
Hannah Compton married Charles E. Wells

  • My list in 1951 contained only ten names. In 2000 we learned that the missing sibling was brother Runyen, the 5th child. We learned this from a descendant of his met through an Internet message board.

  • We now know Annie's husband's name was Lockwood, not Sachwood and that Annie was Guy Lockwood’s other grandmother, though he never knew her. She died in New York the year after he was born in Michigan. 

  • The listing of Elizabeth Hitchman as Peter’s wife is totally mysterious because it is absolutely not correct. His wife was Maria Buckbee.

  • For a picture of Hannah, see Hannah Compton Wells Family. For much more about her siblings, their marriages, their children, and how their lives dovetailed with hers, see The Compton Clan.

Hannah then told us about her grandfather and earlier Comptons.

Ancestry of the First Compton Family      

"William Compton was a grandson of a younger branch of Sir Spencer Compton, Warwickshire, England. Sir Spencer Compton was slain in 1648 at Hopton Heath, England, and defeated Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan rebels during the battle. William Compton born in England (our great-grandfather) [served] in the first regiment of Orange County, N.Y. militia had his lower jaw shot off and died during the Revolution. His son, William Compton, married Hannah Post (that is my mother). She is buried in Sugar Hill, N.Y., and he is buried in Watkins, N.Y." 

The name of Hannah’s grandfather William Compton can be seen in the troop registry at George Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh, NY, where he served under Major Zacharias DuBois, and published in various other sources (Compton Wm. Rev. war list). That, however, doesn’t tell any battles in which he fought nor the one in which he was wounded. We’ve picked up one reference suggesting he did not die immediately upon being wounded. Perhaps he got home before he died? We’ve recently picked up a source that gives his death as 1778. Inquiries to the National Archives in 1992 did not turn up any information on him. 

Hannah’s account of the Hopton Heath Battle is surprisingly but not completely accurate. The battle happened in 1643, not 1648, and Oliver Cromwell did not come into prominence in the struggle with the king until considerably later. Hannah refers to her ancestor as “great-grandfather” but goes on to say that his son married her mother, which would make him simply her grandfather. Hannah wasn’t born until forty years after the Revolutionary War, so of course she never knew that grandfather. Based on our current research, we think there had to be at least four, and maybe more, generations between Hannah and Spencer Compton. 

We are still working to find the missing link between Hannah’s grandfather and Sir Spencer, though we’re confident there must be one. Consider how many facts she had accurately in her Bible, facts confirmed elsewhere: 

1.      All three parts of his name: Sir Spencer Compton

2.      Name of the battle: Hopton Heath

3.      Date of the battle: 1648 (though this is not correct, "8" and "3" could easily have been miscopied in 200 years, including by me at age 15)

4.      He fought against the Puritan opposition to the reigning monarch.

5.      The king's forces were victorious…

6.      But Spencer died.

7.      Finally, the name Warwickshire, which meant nothing to us until Matt Hoppe tracked down the Compton estate, Wynyates, located in Warwickshire, England.



Compton Wynyates


How could lowly Hannah Marie Compton, on the frontier of New York two hundred years later, have even known about that battle, let alone gotten that many points correct if they did not have their roots in facts? 


I hate to think what might have—or might not have—happened if Guy Lockwood that day in 1951 hadn’t pulled out his piece of paper and showed us what he had copied from his grandmother’s Bible. Would I have gotten interested in genealogy at all? If I hadn’t, I would have missed so much—like being invited into a couple homes built by my ancestors decades before I was even born, making friends with third and fourth cousins who descend from those brothers and sisters whose names Grandmother Hannah wrote in her Bible, and visiting the graves of at least three sets of fourth-great-grandparents.

I never saw Guy Lockwood before that day or after, though he lived another ten years. All I can say is “Thank you very much, first cousin three times removed!”