Lakefield Township Early Pioneers of Saginaw County, Michigan
Lakefield Township Early Pioneers of Saginaw County, Michigan

Joseph C. Tolfree

The photo is of Ellen Deal Tolfree



Joseph C. “Joe” Tolfree was born June 21, 1859 in Alabaster, Iosco County, Michigan to Joseph “Frank” and Emma Coody/Cody Tolfree. Joseph married Ellen/Ella Deal on January 4, 1883 in Saginaw, Michigan. Ellen was born May 12, 1866 in Howell, Livingston County, Michigan to William and Lucy E. Graves Deal. As a child, Ellen lived in Fenton, Genesee County, Michigan with some of her siblings named Eugene, Ona and Royal Deal.







Joseph and Ellen's children were:

  1. Claude Tolfree was born March 26, 1882. Claude married Carrie Trudgeon on July 25, 1904 in Lakefield Township. Claude also married Edna Easlick on August 12, 1911; her parents were Charles and Olive A. Easlick. Claude died June 20, 1970. Claude and Edna are both buried in Lakefield Township Cemetery.

  2. Maudie Mae was born December 1884. Maudie married Robert P. Ross on December 20, 1902 in Corunna, Shiawassee County, Michigan. Maudie died on August 22, 1907 in Lakefield Township of Tuberculosis. Maudie is buried in Lakefield Township Cemetery.

  3. Nellie Tolfree was born 1889 in Lakefield Township. Nellie died on March 26, 1890 at the age of 1 year 4 months and 10 days old of Congestion of the Brain.

  4. Athella “Alice” Tolfree was born March 1891 in Lakefield Township. Alice married Riley Wierman on April 7, 1908 in Merrill, Saginaw County, Michigan.

  5. Ona Tolfree was born November 8/18 1892 in Lakefield Township. Ona married Erick Willson on December 23, 1911 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan.

  6. Royal Tolfree was born April 12, 1897 in Lakefield Township. Royal married Ada Miller on April 16, 1915. Royal died on November 20, 1970. Royal and Ada are both buried in the Lakefield Township Cemetery.

  7. Etta Belle Tolfree was born April 23/24 1899 in Lakefield Township. Etta Belle married Howard Bellinger.

  8. Lucy Tolfree was born May 23, 1901 in Lakefield Township. Lucy married Dorsey Davis December 27, 1917 in Saginaw, Saginaw County, Michigan. Lucy died on January 11, 1933 in Flint, Genesee County, Michigan. Lucy is buried in the Lakefield Township Cemetery.

  9. Herbert Tolfree was born 1903 in Lakefield Township. Herbert married Agnes Street on September 10, 1924 in Merrill, Saginaw County, Michigan. Herbert died April 3, 1956 in Caro, Tuscola County, Michigan. Herbert and Agnes are both buried in Lakefield Township Cemetery.

  10. Eugene Tolfree was born October 9, 1905 in Lakefield Township. Eugene married Dorothy Korbein. Eugene died April 20, 1982 in Skidway Lake, Ogemaw County, Michigan. Eugene and Dorothy are both buried in the Lakefield Township Cemetery.

  11. Harry Tolfree was born on October 8, 1908. Harry married Clara Belle Leiner on April 8, 1939. Harry died on February 13, 1944 and is buried in Lakefield Township Cemetery.


On the 1890 Badgero Drain Plat Map, it shows Joseph and Ellen Tolfree and their family were living in Section 3 of Lakefield Township on 40 acres of land on Roosevelt Road between Merrill and Fenmore Roads. Their children went to the Byrnes School which was located on the corner of Swan Creek and Fenmore Roads. In 1896, their neighbors were: George Rigg, F.H. Cooper, John Barns, Louis Baker, George Trudgen, John Baker, William Sandhoff, Edward Miller, H.M. Schmidt and Joseph's mother and step-father, William and Emma Button, who lived on the corner of Merrill and Roosevelt Roads.


By 1916, Joe sold his property on Roosevelt Road to the Welke's and bought two additional 40 acres of land. The two 40 acres of land were on Merrill Road between Nelson and Grabowksi Roads, one in Section 27 and the other across the road in Section 26. When living on Merrill Road, Joe and Ellen's children went to the Brown School which was located on the corner of Grabowski and Fenmore Roads.


Joe had two records of Chattle Mortgages. The first one filed by J.C. Tolfree to C.C. Brown on October 4, 1892 and the other filed by Wm Button and J.C. Tolfree to Young and Boneman on January 25, 1893. Joe served Lakefield Township by being elected as Lakefield Township Overseer of the Highways District #2 in 1891 and 1898; and Constable in 1930 and 1936.


According to the Book “Lest We Forget”, page 84, by Myron F. Gulick; “ Joe Tolfree and his wife had a farm on what is now called Merrill Road, Section 27, Lakefield Township. Joe made cement blocks and tile; he also had a well drilling machine. One day he got caught in a moving part and was injured quite badly. He recovered, but didn't drill many wells after his accident. The school teachers boarded at the Tolfree home and sometimes Joe had a lot of fun with them. Joe liked to joke and kid around. Joe grew beets on his farm, they were hand thinned, hoed and harvested. The Belgians did most of the hand work."


Joe died on February 2, 1938 in Lakefield Township and Ellen died on February 2/9, 1932 in Edmore, Montcalm County, Michigan. They are both buried in the Lakefield Township Cemetery.


SOURCES: 1860, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930 U.S. Census; 1890 Badgero Drain Plat Map; 1896 Lakefield Township Plat Map; 1916 Lakefield Township Plat Map; Lakefield Township Records; Myron Gulick's book “Lest We Forget”; Joseph and Emma Coody/Cody Tolfree marriage record; Ona Tolfree's birth record; Lucy Tolfree's birth record; Etta Belle Tolfree's birth record; Royal Tolfree's birth record; Nellie Tolfree's death record; Manie and Robert P. Ross' marriage record; Herbert and Agnes Tolfree's marriage record; Ona and Eric Willson's marriage record; Mandie Mae Tolfree's death record;Alice and Riley Wierman's marriage record; Ellen E. Deal Tolfree's obituary; Joseph Tolfree's death record; Lucy Tolfree Davis's death record; Claude Tolfree's obituary; Herbert Tolfree's obituary; Harry Tolfree's obituary; Social Security Death Records; Find-A-Grave Website.

Pioneers of Lakefield Township - Left to Right: Jacob Brown, Lawrence Dubay, Alva Hinterman, David Dubay, Mr. Harris, George Easlick, Calvin Harris;   Ray Rowell standing towards the top of photo and his daughters, Mildred, Dorothy, and Carrie Rowell,  sitting on the wood pile.    Carry Rowell later married Fred Honaman.     photo from John and Linda Honaman Johnson.



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