Peter and Hannah Filley Andress 
A Very Strange Man

 

 

 

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Between May 1983 and January 1991, John C. Philley, a college professor from Morehead, Kentucky, edited and distributed a newsletter called The Filley/Philley Phamily Newsletter . Done mostly before the age of computers on mimeograph stencils, he dutifully mailed the newsletter each month. In it he published all the family information he could get from his own and other family sources. This effort on his part was undertaken with only a small contribution from subscribers and is of immense value. It includes many personal stories hardly ever obtainable in normal research. One that needs to be told is the brief tale of Hannah Filley, Remembrance and Hannah Hubbard Filly's third child and her rather interesting husband, Peter Andress. The story came from a Philley in Texas.

Hannah was born June 25, 1791. She is described as short, plump, sandy haired, freckled, and blue-eyed. She married, probably around 1810 in Herkimer County, New York, Peter Andress who was born of a German or Swiss father and a Native American mother. He was described as of medium build, with black hair that never turned grey, and black eyes.  

Peter and Hannah had nine children only six of whom can be traced; Isaac, Roxanna, Maria, Nancy, Edward, and Jesse. In addition, Peter had a brother who wandered in and out of the family's lives. Known by no other name than Injun Doctor, he was not very welcome in the homes of Peter and Hannah's relatives and children either because they had no room or because they thought him too "Injun". This was particularly true of sister-in-law Roxanna Barnum who was quite taken with her own social position. Peter and Hannah spent most of their time traveling from one relative or child to another. Injun Doctor spent the winter of 1865 visiting Jeremiah Philley, his nephew where he found a warmer welcome.

Isaac was their firstborn. He was named after his uncle Isaac Barnum. Isaac married a woman named Rebecca and they had a son Theodore. They lived briefly in Chenango County, New York and then moved to Woodland Michigan where many of the family settled. There Isaac died at age 39 and Rebecca and Theodore went to live with brother - in - law Edward, who never married. Unfortunately, Theodore also died at age 20. He was said to have been a talented singer and songwriter.  

Roxanna, their first daughter, married Bethuel Webster and they had eight children by 1860. They also lived and farmed in Woodland, Michigan. 

Maria was born next. She married Thomas Goland who was an immigrant from England and they lived and farmed in Lorain County, Ohio where they raised a son and three daughters.

Nancy, their third daughter, was tall and slim with black hair and eyes and a fair complexion. She was very pretty but had no education and no social standing. Nevertheless, love is blind to those considerations, and Rufus Murray Turner was attracted to her. The Turners were from a long line of Scotch - English doctors, teachers, statesmen, and professional men. Rufus' father was a doctor and married to Lydia Murray Turner. She was not blind to the considerations of education and standing. Rufus was their only son and showed promise as an artist or writer. Imagine the reaction when, at age 18 he left college and married Nancy, a "Quarter blood Indian girl" and a seamstress at that! There was friction between Lydia and Nancy as can be imagined. Still, the couple managed to produce six children the first of whom was named after Rufus' mother Lydia. (nothing like a namesake grandchild to soften her up.) Rufus worked as a joiner and died early. Nancy later married Joshua Peck and had three more children by him. 

Edward became a farmer and settled in Woodland, Michigan. He was to care for his brother's widow and son and his elderly parents until their deaths which occurred at his home.

Jesse is the last son about whom we have information. He was an adventurer who went on the "Gold Rush". The story is that Jesse and some of his friends set fire to a neighbor's haystack. When the sheriff arrived Jesse jumped on a horse and took off. He wound up in California and did not return for several years. When he did he brought gold with him. Presents were given such as a gold ring to his uncle John Turner, and gold beads to Ella Barnum.

Jesse is said to have married a girl named Kate and legend has it that both drowned in a ship wreck on a river in California weighed down by the gold they were carrying. This sounds more legend than fact, but who knows?

By far the most interesting member of the family is the father of these children, Peter Andress. He was always ready for a "put on" and it was hard to tell when he was serious. He loved a sensation and was willing to make it. When he was making a trade for a horse or anything else he would resort to "romantic flights of imagination" to get his opponent's mind off the deal at hand and get him flustered. If he was dickering with a blacksmith then Peter was a blacksmith too. If his partner in conversation liked stories of adventure, he would detail his wanderings in the forests.

Peter loved to pick on his brother - in - law Isaac Barnum and his wife Roxie who I referred to earlier as "snooty". Here's how it was described in the newsletter:

"When the Baptist Church was established in Woodland Township, about 1850, Roxanna and her husband Isaac were made Deacon and Deaconess of the church. Now, it was in the Barnum blood to do innumerable things for their own aggrandizement and the downfall of the other fellow; quietly, skillfully, and with the most angelic face and manner. Peter knew this and his intense searching eyes and almost uncanny intuition saw much that Isaac would have preferred to keep hidden."

"It was Peter's delight to attend the church services (being Baptist, Lutheran, Unitarian, Methodist, or any other kind of "ist" to suit the occasion) Sitting with his cane between his knees, his hands clasped over the head of the cane, and his chin resting on his hands, his eyes gleaming like holes of light in his head, he would watch the minister intently, storing in his wonderful memory every thought and phrase."

"After Sunday dinner he would walk over to Roxey's and engage Isaac in a discussion of the sermon. Isaac, like a good Deacon would stoutly uphold the minister. Again and again Peter would lead his brother - in - law into deep water, and then remind him wherein his daily life was inconsistent with his professed beliefs and his preacher's teachings. Needless to say the Barnums were not comfortable with him around and tried to even up by sticking their noses in the air, shrugging their shoulders, and sniffing, "Them Andresses"."

Peter was both the torment and delight of his grandchildren. He would come at them with sinister noises and gestures and corner them only to then cuddle them and tell them wonderful "bugaboo" yarns of fact and fancy until "their little feelings were racing up and down like a glass ball in a fountain." I'll bet they loved him dearly. However, everyone agreed, "he was a very strange man." 
 
 

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