Calvin Dexter and Lovina (Jones) Andrews – the Connection to Native American Heritage

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Passing on information about the family through oral history is sometimes the only way we have clues to the past. Some of that history proves to be true, other pieces cannot be proven as true or false, and some parts are just plain wrong. Oral history indicated that part of the family was Native American. Charlie Andrews had coppery skin color and high cheek bones, which does not mean you have Native American heritage, but gives you pause. Jimmy DeBoise, son of James, and who spent a lot of time with Charlie and his wife, told us that the family had Native American heritage – he thought Mohawk but wasn’t sure. Richard and I attended our first Pow Wow in Sioux City, South Dakota. One of the dancers looked like one of Richard’s brothers, carried himself the same way, and had the same mannerisms. Again, that doesn’t prove anything, but to me it’s the past calling and waiting to be discovered. Researching the children of Calvin and Lovina verified the Native American heritage when at least one child was identified as Indian on several censuses, and indicated that her father was of Mixed Race. Census takers did not always ask what a person’s race was. Indians were often marked as mulatto or Negro/black. Additionally, Indians were being pushed west so you didn’t always broadcast your heritage. Native American heritage was also verified by DNA results.

Shortly after Calvin and Lovina were born, Andrew Jackson was elected the 7th President of the United States. In 1830, Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act which forcibly removed most Indians in the Southeastern United States to territory West of the Mississippi. The “Trail of Tears”, a phrase coined to describe the forced removal of much of the Cherokee Nation in 1838 in which large numbers of Cherokees died of starvation and disease, is often used to refer to these actions. These removals did not just occur in the Southeastern states. I have found some of my non-Indian family members who had married Native Americans and were living in Indiana also forced to relocate to “Indian Territory” along with their families during this period.

Calvin Dexter Andrews was born March 5, 1825 in Ludlow, Massachusetts, the son of Philip Andrews, Jr. I have not been able to confirm who his mother was. She might have been Mary Ann Powers, or Philip might have been married another woman before Mary Ann. Calvin married Lovina Jones around 1845 in Massachusetts. I have not identified Lovina’s father, though some records say he might have been from Rhode Island. Her mother was Phebe Powers Newport. Lovina was born January 3, 1825 in Wilbraham, Massachusetts.

Dexter, Lovina, and their children were living in Ludlow in 1850. Dexter was a laborer, probably working on the surrounding farms. He moved to Ellington, Connecticut around 1853. He left his family behind as he sought to establish himself in Ellington. His family received state assistance when he left and were listed on Ludlow pauper rolls as early as November 1, 1853, and for part of 1854. His family joined him in Ellington by 1857.

Ellington was a farming community bordered by East Windsor on the west and Vernon on the south. The industrial revolution in the 1800s saw the development of manufacturing through the opening of a variety of mills. However, farming was the occupation of the majority of the residents. The population in 1860 was 1,510. The black population was small – 46. Most black families lived in independent households, with a few individuals living in households where they worked on the farm, or worked as servants. Only two black families owned their homes or farms, and families had few assets. Calvin had personal assets of $150, better than many other families of color. Surnames of other black families living in Ellington in 1860 included: Powers, Chappel, Morrison, Champlin, and Madison. It is likely that the Powers family in Ellington is related to the Andrews family, at least through marriage.

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Black infantries began to be organized to fight in the Civil War. In September 1863, Calvin Dexter traveled with his two sons, Calvin Dexter Jr. and Martin Philip, to Providence, Rhode Island where the young men enlisted in Rhode Island’s first black regiment – the 14th Regiment RI Heavy Artillery (Colored). Calvin Dexter signed enlistment papers for his son, Calvin Dexter Jr. so that he could enter the military. Both sons survived the War, and were discharged in the fall of 1865.

In 1864, Calvin Dexter made his first of three land purchases in Ellington. He bought six acres from Daniel Peck for two hundred fifty dollars. This included a dwelling house and other buildings. In 1871, he purchased six acres, a dwelling and other building from Addison Hamilton for three hundred dollars. This property adjoined his current property. In 1881, he purchased one acre from Agustus Lankester (sic) for twenty-five dollars. This land also adjoined his property, bringing his total land to thirteen acres. Calvin Dexter was well established as a farmer.

In November 1897, at age 72 years, Calvin Dexter sold his property to Valeriai Komisky (sic) for $1.00 and he and his wife moved to Vernon. The amount he received had to be greater than this amount, but I was unable to find records of the actual value. His land, animals, and farm implements were all included in the sale. He and his wife were getting older, and maintaining the property had to be difficult. A look at the Ellington 1900 census records found a community that was changing. There were many recent immigrants to the town, many from Poland and Germany. There were few families of color remaining in the town, and only one family of color owned their farm. Many of the individuals of color were from Virginia – the families with long roots in New England having moved away. Valeriai Komisky emigrated from Poland in 1892, at age 21, following her husband Frank who arrived in 1889. In 1900 they had four children, ranging in age from two years to nine years, and owned their farm (formerly the Andrews home) with a mortgage.

In “consideration of one dollar, granted to Valeriai Kmnski (Komisky) 2 tracts of land – 1st piece deeded to (Calvin Dexter Andrews) by Daniel A. Peck March 5, 1864, 2nd piece deeded by Augustus Lancaster April 7, 1881. (These 2 pieces total approximately 12 acres and adjoined each other.) Also personal property including 2 team harness, 9 1/2 bw. onions, 1 buggy harness, stove wood, 2 hogs, 1w horse, tobacco, corn, business wagon, farm wagon, buggy, hay, harrow, plough, sleigh, sled, forks, cutting machine, dung fork, ten chick, a rooster, 2 ladders, horse hoe, 1 starch bedding, wheel barrow, ridger, 3 wood measures, tobacco bath, lot of shingles, hoe, tub, chains, surcingle, 6 plank, flail, corn cutter, cultivator, hay rigging, five barrels, barb wire & stretcher, saw, shove, pincers, plane, chainsaw, hammer, feedbox, axe, soldering iron, post, chicken wire, crow bar, 1 bag fertilizer. He reserved use of premises for 2 weeks from November 19, 1897, and he would care for animals and property. Witnessed by Francis M. Ceharter; Annia L. Chapman. Signed by mark X. Calvin Dexter Andrews

Calvin Dexter Andrews was 78 years, nine months and 14 days when he died on December 24, 1903, nine months following the death of his wife. The cause of death was old age, and he was sick nine days before passing. He is buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Vernon. Calvin could not read or write, and probably had little, if any, formal schooling. However, he was able to purchase property, successfully farm and raised a family. Calvin’s ethnic background was probably Indian and African. His daughter, Mary Josephine, was identified as Indian in both the 1920 and 1930 federal census, and the 1930 census had written in on her father’s birthplace that father was of mixed blood.

Lovina Jones, Calvin’s wife, was a housewife. The 1900 census indicated that she was the mother of 11 children (10 of whom have been identified). At the time of the census, she had outlived all but three of her children. She probably had little if any formal education, and could not read or write. She was frequently described as mulatto, and is probably of Indian and African background. Lovina was 78 years, two months, and 18 days when she died March 22, 1903 in Vernon. She died from pneumonia and was sick eight days before passing. Lovina is buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Vernon. Their grave is marked by a tombstone.

Tombstone C Dexter Andrews and Lovina
C Dexter Andrews and Lovinna Jones his wife

The children of Calvin and Lovina are:
1. Andrew B. was born October 12, 1845 in Monson, Massachusetts and died before 1850.
2. Calvin Dexter, Jr. was born about 1846 in Wilbraham, Massachusetts; and died October 1878 in Ludlow. His death records indicate he was married at the time of his death, but no record has been found documenting who he married.

Calvin was living in Ludlow in 1850; and in Vernon, in the home of William Pinney along with his brother Martin, in 1860. In the 1860 census, he was also listed as living with his parents in Ellington. He was a resident of Massachusetts in 1863 when he enlisted in the Army. He was not found in the 1870 census.

Calvin was a veteran of the Civil War. He enlisted September 19, 1863 in Company D, 14th Regiment, Rhode Island Colored Heavy Artillery. He was mustered in September 22, 1863, in Providence and was a private during his service. The military records indicate that he was 5 feet 8 ½ inches tall, with dark complexion, dark eyes, and dark hair. Calvin’s last six months of service was spent in confinement with hard labor for forgery. He also forfeited one-half his pay during that period of time. He was mustered out on October 2, 1865.

Calvin worked as a laborer. He was thirty-two years old when he died by falling into the Chicopee River from the railroad bridge and drowning. His body was not found until May 25, 1879.

Calvin might have had a relationship with Maria Salisbury, daughter of Samuel and Miranda (Powers) Salisbury, all from Ludlow. It is unknown of Maria was Calvin’s wife. She had one child, William L. Andrews, and records indicate that either Calvin or his brother Philip Martin was William’s father. William married Fannie Wallace.

3. Martin Philip was born May 29, 1848 in South Wilbraham, and died December 2, 1896 in Hampden, Massachusetts. He married Perlencia Jane Oakley, daughter of Edwin L. and Elthera E. (Babcock) Oakley on July 3, 1867 in Wilbraham. She was born December 2, 1850 in Wilbraham, and died April 27, 1933 in Plainville, Massachusetts.

In 1850 Martin was living in Ludlow with his parents. In 1860, he is listed in the census as both living with his parents in Ellington, and living in the household of William Pinney, a well-to-do farmer in Vernon, along with his brother Calvin. He had just turned thirteen and he was probably working on Mr. Pinney’s farm.

Martin was a veteran of the Civil War. He traveled to Providence and enlisted as a private in Company E, 14th Regiment, RI Heavy Artillery (Colored) on September 24, 1863, five days following his brother’s enlistment. Martin stated that he was 18 years of age; however, he was only 15. Unlike his brother, his father did not have to verify that he was old enough to serve in the military. He was living in Ludlow at the time of his enlistment, and worked as a farmer. He was mustered out of the military on October 2, 1865.

Military records indicate that he was 5’ 7½”, had a dark complexion, and dark eyes and hair. He was also described as mulatto in the 1850 census records.

Martin was 19 when he married Perlencia. Perlencia was of mixed race heritage – her mother was Indian and her father black. Martin and his family moved to Ellington where he was living with his parents at the time of the 1870 census. He must have moved to Hampden, Massachusetts shortly after. While walking from Springfield to Hampden during the winter of 1871, Phillip froze his feet so severely that inflammation resulted in the amputation of his toes on the left foot. This left him partially disabled.
Martin and his family struggled financially. His family received town aid from Wilbraham between 1875 and 1878. The town of Hampden provided financial support beginning in 1879. In 1884, Hampden attempted to prosecute Martin for refusing to support his family, and to bind out the children to work. The town received state aid for the Andrews family for 1894, 1895, and 1896. Martin did apply for a military pension in 1891, which was approved in 1892 for partial disability because of the partial loss of his toes, and rheumatism.

Martin was 47 years of age when he died of pneumonia phthisis, more commonly known as tuberculosis. He is buried at Prospect Hill Cemetery in Hampden. Perlencia was also known as Pelinsa. Following Martin’s death, she received a military pension to help with her financial support, as well as the support of her minor children. In 1900, she was living with her sister, Charlotte, in Hampden and was doing housework. By 1920, she was living with her daughter Alice and her family in Wrentham, Massachusetts, and was in her daughter’s home in Plainville at the time of her death. Martin and Perlencia had 13 children.

4. Lewis E. was born about 1852 in Ludlow; and died before 1860.
5. George Washington was born March 25, 1853 in Ludlow; and died December 9, 1928 in Manchester.
6. Russell was born about 1854 in Wilbraham; and died before 1860.
7. Charles W. was born in March 1857 in Ellington; and was three years old when he died July 11, 1860 in Ellington.
8. Martha E. was born about 1859 in Connecticut; and died March 14, 1885 in Vernon. She married Edgar Freeman October 29, 1879 in Vernon. Edgar was the son of Edward Carter and Mary Ann (Russell) Freeman, and the brother of Jeanette Freeman, wife of George W. Andrews, Martha’s brother.

Martha lived in Ellington and then Vernon. She died at a young age of 25 years. This was Edgar’s second marriage. Edgar worked as a farm laborer and as a teamster. It appears that he was a lifelong resident of Vernon. Martha and Edgar had two children.

9. Mary Josephine was born in January 1859 in Connecticut. She married Samuel H. Chappell on March 25, 1882 in Ellington. Samuel is the son of William Chappell and Emily Williams. He was born in March 1853 in Connecticut.

Mary and Samuel lived in Vernon and Ellington. Both are listed as black or mulatto in early census, but are listed as Indian in the 1920 and 1930 census. The 1930 census had written in for both that their fathers were of mixed blood. The 1930 census also lists their grandson, Ernest, who was living with them, as Indian. By 1935, Mary and her grandson, Ernest, were living in Manchester. Samuel was a farmer. Mary had two children, but only one has been identified.

1930 Federal Census S_M Chappell
1930 Census Chappell identified as Indian

Samuel was 78 years old when he died on May 9, 1931 of prostatic adenoma (enlargement of prostrate). He was ill for three months. A secondary cause of death was pyelonephritis, which is a urinary tract infection that has reached the kidney. He was ill for six days with the infection. He is buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Vernon. The death date of Mary has not been located, but she died after April 1940 when the 1940 census was taken.

10. Jennie L. was born about 1861 in Ellington. Jennie was listed in the 1880 Federal Census living in the home of James Talcott. She was single and a servant. She married (unknown) Layton. She was mentioned in her father’s will and received part of his estate in January 1904.

Calvin Dexter did have assets, probably from the sale of his farm, and had prepared a will for the distribution of his estate. His will was completed December 15, 1903, and admitted to probate January 5th, 1904.

Be it known to all persons that I, Calvin Dexter Andrews, of the town of Vernon in the county of Tolland in the State of Connecticut, being of lawful age, of sound and disposing mind, memory and judgment, and now under no improper influence or restraint do hereby make, publish and declare this to be my last will and testament, hereby revoking all previous wills and codicils by me made. I give, devise and bequeath my estate and property, real and personal, as follows, that is to say: First, I give and bequeath to my daughter, Mary Chappell, one dollar. Second, I give and bequeath the rest and residue of my estate, to be equally divided between my son George W. Andrews and my daughter, Jennie L. Layton. Inventory was $1178.80, located in the Savings Bank of Rockville.[1]

The Calvin Dexter Andrews family gives us clues and some documentation of the Native American heritage of this family. The census records for Mary Josephine, her husband, and her grandson indicated that they are Indian. Several family members married into families that were part Indian. It could be that those families with Indian heritage maintained social connections. There is more work to be done to find out more about this connection. Lovina’s father needs to be identified. The only time I found the name of Jones used was on her tombstone and in Connecticut death records. Going through the early records of Ludlow and Wilbraham might find her father, evidence of her birth, or documentation of her marriage, all of which could give us more information. Also, exploring the background of the Powers family of Lovina’s mother might give us more information. Do we have a volunteer?

[1] Connecticut Wills and Probate Records, 1609-1999, accessed on
The next post will be on the Philip Andrews families, and the Power family.

Until next time,

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