Joel Gillett


Written by Jean Griesan

3138 West Platte Ave

Colorado Springs, CO 80904

Last revised on January 25, 2004

                Joel Gillet was born on May 28, 1778 in Milford, Connecticut.  He was the son of John and Comfort (Plumb) Gillet.  Joel married Cloa Griswold in the late 1790s.  Cloa was born October 11, 1779 in Burlington, Connecticut.  She was the daughter of Jeremiah and Phoebe (Case) Griswold.  Joel was a carpenter by trade, and also a shoemaker.  Later in life, he was a farmer.  In politics, Joel was a strong Whig.  In religion, both Joel and Cloa were Presbyterians of strong faith.  Since Joel was away from home frequently, Cloa gathered her little ones around her and had family prayer and instructed them in the truths of the Christian faith.

            Joel and Cloa had the following children: 

1.   Chloe was born on December 14, 1799 in Hartford, Connecticut.  She married Thomas Gardner on September 5, 1818 in Lawrence County, Ohio.  Thomas was born on June 19, 1794 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Benoni and Silence (Grant) Gardner.  Chloe lived in Lawrence County for the rest of her days.  She and Thomas had the following children: Amos Gardner, born June 7, 1819; Claretta Gardner, born February 1, 1823; Julia Gardner, born July 8, 1825; Roswell Gardner, born January 23, 1828; Lydia Catharine “Kate” Gardner, born September 1, 1830; Judson Gardner, born January 27, 1834; Ann Hasseltine Gardner, born December 16, 1835; Thomas Wade Gardner, born September 2, 1839; Maria Gardner, born March 31, 1841; Alice Chloe Gardner, born June 19, 1844; and Beulah Eustacia “Stacy” Gardner, born February 27, 1845.  Chloe died on April 6, 1870 in Lawrence County, and was buried at Beulah Baptist Church in Rome Township, Lawrence County.  Thomas remarried to Barbara (Henry) Davidson, a young widow, on October 24, 1871 in Lawrence County, Ohio.  Barbara L. Henry was born January 5, 1827 in Ohio.  They lived on a small farm below the mouth of Snake Creek in Union Township, probably with her youngest children.  Thomas died on December 5, 1879, and was buried beside his first wife, Chloe, at Beulah Baptist Church.  Barbara Gardner died on March 6, 1903, and was buried in Suiter Cemetery in Union Township, Lawrence County, Ohio.

2.   Alanson was born August 22, 1802 in Hector, Seneca County, New York.  He married first Sarah G. Radford in Lawrence County on April 20, 1829.  Sarah was born on June 12, 1812 in Henton Parrish, Saint George County, Somersetshire, England.  Alanson and Sarah had the following children: Theodore Justus Gillett, born December 22, 1831; Elizabeth B. Gillett, born March 31, 1833; John Radford Gillett, born April 7, 1836; Henry Austin Gillett, born April 8, 1839; Julia Anne Gillett, born May 30, 1842; Urbane Joel Gillett, born October 10, 1844; Sarah Frances Gillett, born March 5, 1848; Spencer Alanson Gillett, born July 5, 1851; and Ella Venora Gillett, born May 28, 1855.  Sarah died on February 26, 1866, Rome Township, Lawrence County, Ohio, and was buried in Old Rome Cemetery.  Alanson then married Sarah (Haskell) Paine, a widow, on June 18, 1867 in Ashland, Boyd County, Kentucky.  This Sarah was born on October 25, 1825 in Lawrence County, Ohio.  Her parents were James and Mary (Brooks) Haskell.  She had been previously married to Dr. W. V. Paine.  Sarah and Dr. Paine had several children, all of which died as infants, except for Wilanna Paine, born on April 6, 1856.  Alanson spent most of his days in Lawrence County.  In his last years, he moved to Harriman, Roane County, Tennessee with his second wife, Sarah.  He died in Tennessee on March 26, 1894, but was buried in Old Rome Cemetery, Rome Township, Lawrence County, Ohio.  Sarah died on January 12, 1914 in Harriman, Roane County, Tennessee.  It is unknown where she was buried.

3.   Roswell was born about 1805 in Hector, Seneca County, New York.  It was said that Roswell “went south and died.”  Nothing else is known of Roswell.

4.   Candace was born May 23, 1807 in Ulysses County, New York.  She married Elhanen Winchester Wakefield on September 30, 1827 in Lawrence County, Ohio.  “E.W.” was born on August 1, 1799 in Clairmount, Sullivan County, New Hampshire, the son of Peter and Keziah (Burns) Wakefield.  E.W. and Candace spent the rest of their lives in Lawrence County.  E.W. was a farmer, and they lived in Windsor Township until sometime between 1870 and 1880.  They moved to Union Township during the last few years of their lives.  Candace and E.W. had the following children: Albert Joel Wakefield, born May 31, 1828; Diannah W. Wakefield, born October 18, 1829; Marinda Wakefield, born August 1, 1831; Rev. John Wesley Wakefield, born November 27, 1832; Rev. E.W. Wakefield, Jr., born July 2, 1834; Keziah Wakefield, born June 25, 1836; Peter Wakefield, born March 1, 1838; Chloe Wakefield, born December 24, 1839; and Rev. Columbus Gillett Wakefield, born October 11, 1842.  E.W. died on September 3, 1883 in Proctorville, Lawrence County, Ohio, and was buried in Old Rome Cemetery in Rome Township.  Candace died January 25, 1888, and was buried in Old Rome Cemetery, Rome Township, Lawrence County, Ohio.

5.   Philinda was born April 12, 1809 in Seneca County, New York.  She married Henry Hodder Radford in Lawrence County, Ohio on October 5, 1829.  He was born October 4, 1808 in England.  Philinda spent her married life in Lawrence County.  They lived in Rome Township; he was a farmer.  Philinda and Henry had the following children:Jane Radford, born about 1831; Nancy Radford, born about 1833; Cloe Radford, born about 1835; Emily Radford, born about 1837; John Radford, born February 11, 1840; Sarah F. Radford, born July 3, 1842; Philinda Radford, born February 16, 1845; Henry Radford, born about 1845; William Radford, born about 1847; and Charles Augustus Radford, born about 1848.  Philinda Gillett died on May 31, 1860, and was buried in Old Rome Cemetery in Rome Township.  Henry died on November 22, 1876, and was also buried in Old Rome Cemetery.

6.   Joel Griswold was born in 1812 in New York.  He married Nancy Ann Radford on July 30, 1833 in Lawrence County, Ohio.  Nancy was born about 1815 in England.  He and Nancy lived in Lawrence County through 1850, where several of their children were born.  They moved at least once.  He was a carpenter.  Joel and Nancy had at least the following children: Rev. Alanson Ross “A.R. Gillett, born in 1835 in Ohio; William E. Gillett, born in 1839 in Ohio; Sarah C. Gillett, born in 1847 in Ohio; and Benson O. Gillett, born in 1849 in Ohio.  It is unknown where the family is for the 1860 and 1870 census.  The family is in Cassville, Barry County, Missouri by July 14, 1869, as that was the date of a property transfer there.  Joel is rumored to have died June 27, 1875 in Cassville, Missouri, and to be buried in Paddy Cemetery, in Cassville, Barry County, Missouri.

7.   Columbus was born about 1815 in Ohio.  He married Anna Marie Bilbo on May 20, 1840 in Opelousas, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana.  They lived in Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana for quite a few years.  In the early 1850s, they moved on to Circleville, Williamson County, Texas.  By January of 1870, the family had moved to Los Angeles County, California where Columbus lived for the remainder of his days.  Columbus and Anna had the following children: Winchester Gillett, born in 1841 in Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana; Chloe Gillett, born in November 1843 in Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana; Thomas Gillett, born on October 25, 1846 or 1847 in Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana; Zachary Gillett, born in March of 1849 in Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana; Ann (Anna, Annie or Addie) Gillett, born in August 28, 1851 (or 1852?) in Louisiana; (Jennie) M. Gillett, born on February 18, 1854 in Texas; Sarah M. Gillett, born about March of 1856 in Texas; Laura E. Gillett, born in August of 1862 in Texas; and Theodore Columbus Gillett, born on November 16, 1865 in Circleville, Williamson County, Texas.  Columbus died sometime between 1873 and 1880 in Los Angeles County, California.  Anna died sometime after June of 1900 in Los Angeles County, California.

8.   Emily was born September 28, 1817 in Ohio.  She sometimes went by Emma.  She married George Washington Wakefield on October 22, 1839 in Lawrence County, Ohio.  George was born on March 15, 1812 in Lawrence County, Ohio, the son of Peter and Keziah (Burns) Wakefield.  George sustained a physical injury in childhood, which left him partially paralyzed on one side. This misfortune he had to contend with throughout life.  He moved south in 1844 and settled in Cameron Parish, Louisiana. He established a homestead on which he lived for over fifty years, engaged in farming and stock raising. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church since boyhood.  George and Emily had the following children: Thomas Gardner Wakefield, born on September 5, 1840; George Washington Wakefield, Jr., born on July 20, 1842; Mary Ann Wakefield, born in 1845; Candace Emily Wakefield, born in 1847 in Louisiana; and Albert Peter Wakefield, born in 1850 in Louisiana.  Emily died on July 3, 1852 in Cameron, Cameron Parish, Louisiana.  George then married Ellen Welch on October 22, 1856 in Washington Parish, Louisiana.  Ellen was born on August 1, 1833 in Washington Parish, Louisiana, the daughter of John and Mary Welch.  George and Ellen had the following children: Alwilda Hortense Wakefield, born on August 1, 1857 in Louisiana; John Wesley Wakefield, born on July 4, 1859 in Louisiana; James Wakefield, born in 1861 in Louisiana; Mahala K. Wakefield, born on January 4, 1863 in Louisiana; Martha Augusta Wakefield, born on November 26, 1864 in Cameron, Louisiana; Nellis Dorcas Wakefield, born on October 29, 1866 in Louisiana; and Sally Wakefield, born in 1868 in Louisiana.  He lost considerable property by the Civil War, and came very near losing his life, for being a Unionist. He being a cripple prevented his being forced into the Confederate Army.  George died on January 30, 1897, and was buried in Louisiana. 

            Joel Gillet moved several times before settling in Lawrence County, Ohio.  These moves were made with Joel’s three brothers, Zebulon (older brother), William, and John, and his older sister, Comfort (Gillet) Pritchard and their families.  The family left Connecticut and moved to western New York about 1801.  They lived in the town of Hector in Seneca County, New York.  In 1815, the family wished to move on to Ohio, so they hired wagons to haul their families and household goods and set out on what was then considered a long journey across the Allegheny Mountains.  When they reached the Allegheny River, they put their goods on a pine lumber raft.  They erected a temporary shanty on the raft in which to live in during the trip.  They reached Marietta, Ohio quite comfortably.  Joel took a lease of land and stayed until the lease ran out.   In the fall of 1816, the Gillets moved farther down the river in a small flat boat that they built.  They moved to the area that was to become Rome Township in Lawrence County, Ohio.  (Lawrence County wasn’t formed until 1817.)  Joel’s youngest brother, John, continued west and was lost track of.  Joel bought a farm of one hundred acres in southern Rome Township on the Ohio River from Nahum Ward in June of 1816.  Joel paid $1100 for the property.  He built a two-story hewed log house which stood on the river bank.  The front wall and roof was covered with a yellow flowered creeping vine.  This property was the only grass land in the township at the time.

            At this time, there were no roads in Lawrence County.  There were simply trails, and the whole county was covered with timber and much of it was heavily timbered.  The ground underneath the timber was a perfect jungle of underbrush, but cattle eventually destroyed most of the brush, so that one could ride on horseback pretty comfortably through the woods.

            The settlers of this time had to literally dig and hew their farms out of the solid forest.  There were no prairies.  The timber was utterly valueless and had to be chopped down, cut, piled, and burned up.  It required a vast amount of labor to grub the underbrush that covered the ground before it could be plowed and planted.  They had roads and bridges to build, houses and barns to construct, fields to clear and orchards to plant; but few of them brought any money, and none of them had much.  Their strong arms and determined purpose was their only capital.

            The wool was carded, spun, and woven in the house for winter wear and blankets.  The hides from beef, sheep, and veal were taken to the tanner, who gave half of the leather to the farmer.  The farmer then hired the shoemaker to come to the house each fall to make shoes for the family for winter use.  In the case of the Gillet family, Joel was a shoemaker, so he probably made shoes for the family, and possibly for neighbors too.  In summer, the young people and children all went barefoot.  No one wore ornaments, jewelry, or fine clothing.  No one had luxuries and few had the common necessities of life.  It was a desperate struggle these pioneers had against nature, for existence and for civilization.  Tea and coffee were luxuries that few could afford in those days.  The only sugar used then was made from the sugar maple tree.  Every mother made her own bonnets and clothing, as well as the clothing for the whole family. 

In readying his new home in Lawrence County, Joel decided to have an apple orchard on his property.  He brought about 200 grafted fruit trees from the Putnam Nursery near Marietta with him during the move.  In early May of 1817, he was ready to set out the orchard.  There was one seedling that was smaller and different from the others.  He gave that one to his 14 year-old son, Alanson, and told him, “Here’s a Democrat.  You may have this one.”  Young Alanson planted his seedling down by the river.  On that same day, a young man named Thomas Gardner had come to see Joel’s oldest daughter, Chloe.  He helped with setting out Joel’s orchard.

A few years later, Alanson’s tree was producing such nice fruit that people began to take notice of “Gillette’s seedling.”  The fruit was red and juicy and tasted sweet.  Horatio Nelson “H.N.” Gillett, a cousin of Alanson’s and a son of Zebulon’s, was the first person to take a graft of Alanson’s apple tree.  Other farmers also began to take grafts of the tree.  H.N. Gillett started a nursery and began to promote this new apple.  In about 1830, a neighbor, George Walton, named the apple the “Rome Beauty” apple in honor of Rome Township and the fine appearance of the fruit.  After this, most of the orchards in southern Ohio contained mostly the Rome Beauty apple.  The original tree lived 40 years on a sandy knoll in a corner of a field near the Ohio River.  It stood until the river bank caved in during a flood in 1856.

Joel had to borrow $100 from his brother-in-law, Nathaniel Pritchard, to finish paying on his land.  Joel had only paid the interest.  Joel was to pay off the $100 by furnishing a man from Zanesville with a load of stones and hoop poles.  The man took the goods but never paid for them.

            Joel’s wife, Cloa, began to get very sick.  She called her children to her and told them to be good, to love God, and to meet her in heaven.  She died in early 1820 in Lawrence County, Ohio.  She was buried in Rome Township.  Soon after, Joel married a widow, Azuba (Pingrey) Risley.  They married on June 18, 1820.  Azuba was born on September 26, 1787 in Connecticut.  She was likely the widow of Elijah Risley, whom she married in Hanover, Grafton County, New Hampshire.  There are several conflicting records.  One record shows that they married in 1795 and the other shows that they married in 1815.  By 1820, Azuba is in Lawrence County, Ohio with two “daughters” from this previous marriage.  It is unclear as to whether they are her own children or those of Elijah Risley and another wife.  One daughter was said to be “the most handsome girl in the county” and the other was “the most homely”.  There is a Caroline Risley who married a Jacob “Losee” in Washington County, Ohio in February of 1820.  This is likely one of the daughters of Azuba.  Jacob Losey is mentioned as Azuba’s son-in-law in “The Tales of a Great-Grandfather” by Thomas Walton (see Sources).  The other daughter may have been Jane Eliza Risley.  There was a Jane Eliza Risley who married Richard J. Cock in Franklin, Louisiana (where Azuba likely was in 1839) on July 11, 1839.  This Jane Eliza Risley was listed as the daughter of Azuba Gillet.  Together, Joel and Azuba had a son and a daughter. 

1.   Elisha was born on August 18, 1821 in Lawrence County.  He married Henrietta Jones on August 14, 1844 in Lawrence County, Ohio.  Henrietta was born on November 25, 1823 in Ohio.  Elisha was a farmer, and they lived in Windsor Township.  Elisha and Henrietta had the following children in Lawrence County:  Amanda C. Gillett, born September 18, 1846; Joel Gillett, born December 11, 1848; Benjamin W. Gillett, born July 17, 1851; Mighil Gillett, born September 11, 1853; John F. Gillett, born January 16, 1855; Candace Gillett, born January 11, 1857; Alanson Gillett, born January 7, 1859; Azuba Gillett, born December 3, 1862; and Henrietta Gillett, born April 27, 1865.   Henrietta died on January 16, 1868, and was buried in Forgey Cemetery, Windsor Township, Lawrence County, Ohio.  Elisha next married Elizabeth Jane (Church) Sydenstricker, a widow, on August 21, 1872, also in Lawrence County, Ohio.  Elizabeth was born on November 5, 1835 in Lewisburg, Greenbriar County, West Virginia.  She was the daughter of Woodward and Mary (Gabbart) Church.  Elizabeth had the following children with her first husband, Harry Sydenstricker: Mary Sydenstricker, born January 9, 1854; John Sydenstricker, born September 29, 1856; Howard Z. Sydenstricker, born May 5, 1859; Sallie E. Sydenstricker, born March 23, 1861; and Wilburn Sydenstricker, born April 16, 1861.  Elisha and Elizabeth had the following children in Lawrence County: Carrie G. Gillett, born May 25, 1873; and Chloa Gillett, born October 22, 1875.  Elisha died on May 14, 1894, and was buried in Old Rome Cemetery, Rome Township, Lawrence County, Ohio.  Elizabeth Gillett died on September 4, 1905 in Coal Grove, Lawrence County.  She was buried in Woodland Cemetery, Lawrence County, Ohio.

2.   Irena was born on April 24, 1823 in Rome Township, Lawrence County.  She married Mark Singer on September 7, 1842 in Lawrence County, Ohio.  Mark was born on August 4, 1810 in Windsor Township, Lawrence County, Ohio.  He was the son of Thomas and Sarah (Hughes) Singer.  Irena lived for most, if not all, of her years in Lawrence County.  Mark was a farmer, and they lived most of their years in Windsor Township.  Irena and Mark had the following children: Newton H. Singer, born July 3, 1843; E. Milton Singer, born January 24, 1845; Felicia H. Singer, born November 12, 1846; Landon Singer, born February 8, 1849; Mark Emmet Singer, born July 7, 1851; Cassius K. Singer, born September 2, 1853; Sarah M. “Sallie” Singer, born July 1, 1856; Irena Philinda Singer, born July 1, 1856 (twins); and Nathaniel L. Singer, born May 28, 1862.  Irena died on November 23, 1894.  It is unknown when Mark died, and it is unknown where either of them is buried. 

            Joel Gillet died on October 6, 1823 without a will, at the age of 45.  He died after a brief illness, as is evidenced by the doctor’s bills shown in the court records.  He and his first wife, Cloa, were buried in an unknown location in Rome Township, Lawrence County, Ohio.  Joel had sold Nathaniel Pritchard, Joel’s brother-in-law, some land in order to pay off a loan.  Nathaniel Pritchard turned Azuba Gillet and her two children outdoors without anything.  In July of 1824, the court met and decided that Azuba, Joel’s second wife, had been wasting the estate of Joel Gillet “much to the great prejudice of the creditors.”  Thomas Gardner, husband of Chloe Gillett and a son-in-law of Joel Gillet, was put in charge of the estate and of settling Joel’s debts.  The estate was finally settled in October of 1826.  At some point, Azuba went with her son-in-law, Jacob Losey, to Franklin, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana.  Jacob Losey is shown in the census in Lawrence County in 1830, but does not appear in Lawrence County after that.  It is unclear what happened to all of the children of Joel Gillet after Joel died.  The Gillett children all married in Lawrence County, Ohio, so they were likely still in the area.  It is surmised that the oldest children took care of the youngest children.  Even the children that Joel had with his second wife, Azuba, seem to have stayed in Lawrence County.  It is unknown as to whether Azuba simply abandoned them, or if the older siblings would not allow them to leave.  Elisha was said to have been living in Windsor Township in 1827.  He would have been 6 years old then.  It does seem clear that Azuba lived for some time in Louisiana without her two youngest children.  Azuba died on November 4, 1845 in Franklin, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana. 

Note from the author:

            The name Gillet is often spelled Gillet, Gillett, or Gillette.  In my research, Joel Gillet, born in 1778, went by the spelling of “Gillet”.  This spelling appears in most of the official documents for Joel.  However, most of his children used the spelling “Gillett”.  As the years went on, Joel’s grandchildren and the grandchildren of Joel’s siblings began to use the spelling “Gillette.”  It has been suggested by some that the spelling of “Gillette” was used to make people think that they were related to the Gillettes of Gillette Razors.  Joel’s great grandson, U.T. Cox, frequently spelled the family name “Gillette.”  I prefer to use the spelling that seemed to be used by the person in their transactions, so you will see the family name spelled several different ways in the body of this biography. 


 1.      “Gillett” written by Robert L. Lewis Jr. from History of Lawrence County 1990 by the Lawrence County Genealogical Society, Published 1990.

2.      Handwritten account of the history of the Rome Beauty Apple by U.T. Cox, written at age 85 (1951).

3.      “Rome Beauties Still Paying Off Ohio Mortgages” by Marilyn Dahl, An unknown Ohio newspaper, about 1950.

4.      “The Rome Beauty” by Keith Kappes, “The Herald-Advertiser” Sunday Magazine of Huntington, West Virginia, Sunday, September 2, 1962.

5.      “The Tales of a Great-Grandfather, Part 3” by Thomas A. Walton, series published by the Ironton Register, Lawrence County, Ohio, published October 15, 1874.

6.      “The Other Gilletts” by Donald Lines Jacobus, “The American Genealogist”, Whole Number 99, July 1949, Volume XXV, Number 23, Jeremiah to Joel.

7.      Biographies for Alanson Gillett, E.W. Wakefield, Elisha Gillett, and Mark Singer from the Historical Hand-Atlas for Lawrence County, Ohio by H.H. Hardesty and Company, published in 1882.

8.      “The Origin of the Rome Beauty Apple” by O.W. Gardner, published in the “Ironton Register”, Lawrence County, Ohio, published on Thursday, May 12, 1887.

9.      Land Indenture between Joel Gillet and Gilbert Stevenson, made on August 9, 1811, in Hector, Seneca County, New York.

10.  Notes written by Lydia Catharine “Kate” (Gardner) Cox and typed by Fran Van Winkle.

11.  “Early Settlers: Who The Pioneers Were. The Kind of Lives They Led. Many Interesting Personal Incidents” by P.W. Gillette, published in the “Ironton Register”, Lawrence County, Ohio, published on Thursday, May 20, 1897.

12.  In testate Will of Joel Gillet, first filed in Lawrence County on August 17, 1824, and settled on October 19, 1826.

13.  Statement of Faith for Alanson Gillett by his second wife, Sarah (Haskell) Paine Gillett.

14.  Letters written by Columbus Gillett to his brother, Alanson Gillett, dated March 1866 and January 1870, transcribed by Margaret P. Scott.

15.  Land deed from Nahum Ward to Joel Gillet, dated June 7, 1816, Washington County, Ohio, witnessed by Israel Putnam and Nathel (Nathaniel) Pritchard.

16.  1820, 1830, 1860, and 1870 Census data from Lawrence County, Ohio.

17.  The Will of Thomas Gardner, written in October of 1865, including the five codicils to it, the last being written on June 16, 1879, Lawrence County, Ohio.

18.  The Peter and Keziah Wakefield Family File by Martha Kounse, Lawrence County, Ohio website at

19.  The George and Ellen Wakefield Family File by Martha Kounse, Lawrence County, Ohio website at

20.  1860 Census data from Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.

21.  1870 Census data from Cameron Parish, Louisiana.

22.  Risley marriage research in Franklin, Louisiana by Susan Magee, descendant of Joel Gillet, through son Alanson Gillett, with assistance from Winston Boudreaux.

23.  Washington County, Ohio Marriages, 1789 – 1840 by Bernice Graham and Elizabeth S. Cottle.

24.  Cemetery listings for Lawrence County, Ohio by Tom Clutters and Perry

     Campbell, published 2000.