strSubTitle = Religious Pioneer Ronald Aaron Noble Phelps
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Religious Pioneer Ronald Aaron Noble Phelps

Among the founders of the religious community established at Galesburg, Illinois in the 1840s was my great great-grandfather Ronald Aaron Noble Phelps or Noble, as he was known. He was accompanied by his mother Clarissa Root Phelps and his wife Sarah Jerusha Adams. They emigrated west from New York via the Erie Canal and the Missouri River on a trip later labeled "The (Ill-fated) Boat Party".

Noble was born in 1819 and married Sarah Jerusha Adams in 1847. Their children:

  • Alfred Aaron 'Squire' Phelps was born on 14 Feb 1849 in Wataga, Knox, Illinois. Alfred married Addie Mary Cable and they had four children. Squire rode in the Buffalo Bill's Wild West show for several years.
  • Emma Ella Phelps was born on 23 Dec 1850 in Wataga, Knox, Illinois. She died at age 19 months on 7 Aug 1852 in Wataga, Knox, Illinois.
  • William 'Willie' L. Phelps was born on 7 Jul 1853 in Wataga, Knox, Illinois. He died at 3 1/2 years on 3 Apr 1857 in Wataga, Knox, Illinois.
  • Thadeus Merrill Phelps was born on 4 Oct 1856 in Wataga, Knox, Illinois.
  • Ernest Harmon Phelps was born on 3 Mar 1859 in Wataga, Knox, Illinois. He became a Telegraph Operator, married and lived most of his life in Los Angeles, where his descendants still live today. His son Newell Butler Phelps had a son, Dr. James Phelps, who practiced for many years in Pasadena.
  • Frederick M. Phelps was born in 1861 in Wataga, Knox, Illinois. In the 1870 census, his name was spelled Fredrick. Later census spell his name Frederick. According to the 1920 census, Fred and his wife Amanda had 7 roomers. In the 1930 census, they are shown to own a home worth $15,000 and had four roomers.
  • Oliver N. Phelps was born in 10 Feb 1866 in Wataga, Knox, Illinois. He married Katherine L. Staley on 5 Feb 1894. He served in the military twice between 4 Jun 1898 and 3 May 1903. He was dishonerably discharged and on 9 Nov 1903 began serving a prison term for forgery at San Quentin Prison, San Rafael, Marin County, California. He was paroled on 3 Mar 1906, and re-imprisonsed for raping a child on 3 Oct 1906. He was paroled two more times and each time was returned to prison for parole violations within a few months. He died at Folsom State Prison, Sacramento, Sacramento, California on 14 May 1938.
  • Ada M. Phelps was born Jan 1870 in Wataga, Knox, Illinois. No more was found about here and it is presumed she died young.

The Family Goes West

On March 7, 1883, Thadeus Merrill Phelps married Helen Lindsay Bartlewho was born on 6 Jul 1862 in Decatur, Van Buren Co., Michigan. Thadeus is said to have left Peoria, Illinois in 1897. According to family records, he arrived with his family in San Diego in about 1897. My grandmother, Anne Christy Phelps, told me there was a "local depression" in the Los Angeles area at the time. The family moved several times, to Pasadena, Altadena, Los Angeles, and Glendale. Thadeus and Helen had the following children:

  • Helen Elizabeth Phelps was born on 16 Dec 1883 in Creston, Iowa. She died on 19 Sep 1955 in Los Angeles Co., California. She never married. The cause of death was cirrhosis of liver.
  • Blanche Adams Phelps was born on 4 Mar 1889. She married J. E. Geoff and later, Lester Ryan, but had no children. She died 16 Dec 1956 in Pasadena, California.
  • Mildred Phelps was born in 1891 in Peoria, Illinois. She died at age 22 on 2 May 1913. She never married.
  • Harold Bartle "Bart" Phelps Sr. was born on 3 Dec 1893 in Peoria, Illinois. He served in the U.S. Navy during both World War I and World War II as a telegrapher and radioman. He met Betty Christy on a blind double date and married her within a few months. They had one son, my father. He died 9 Mar 1984 in San Mateo, San Mateo Co., California.
Helen Lindsay Bartle, in 1895 at age 37. She died only seven years later in 1902. Thadeus Merrill Phelps,
about 1910, at age 54.

Thadeus' wife Helen died on 23 Mar 1902 in Los Angeles, California. Thadeus' death certificate reveals that he was in California "33 years" at his death in 1932. Thadeus died on 13 May 1932 in Glendale, Los Angeles, California, where he was cremated and interred in the Inglewood Cemetery, Los Angeles, California.


Major contributors to the Phelps Family History include David Phelps of Texas who has done a considerable amount of original research into the descendants of the Phelps family in England. They are the progenitors of our entire Phelps family in America. David contributed several hundred ancestors and descendants of Revolutionary War Sgt. Noah Phelps of East Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut. (m. Hannah Abbe). (See Phelps Family Research for details of David's research.)

Thanks also go to Ann Suter, who contributed over 700 descendants of Jacob Phelps, one of the sons of an original immigrant, George Phelps. Our appreciation to Ellen Wilds, who helped connect William Walter Phelps to his ancestors and descendants.

The information on Timothy and Sarah Case Phelps and their descendants is courtesy of Sam Bunn. From down under, Wendy Herne of St. Clair, New South Wales, Australia, contributed significant information about the Phelps branch descended from Edward Phelps and Hester Smithsend of Tewkesbury. The family of Alfred Aaron "Squire" Phelps of Illinois, who rode with Buffalo Bill's "Wild West Show", is courtesy of his great-granddaughter, Pat Phelps Broeker. She still lives near the family home. Thanks to Dottie Pierson for the descendants of Jeremiah Phelps of Canada.

For details on the descendants of John Phelps (b. 27 Sep 1730, m. Deborah Dewey), we owe thanks to Herbert Phelps of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The descendants of a Canadian branch, Samuel Phelps and Mariette Goodrich are thanks to John Phelps of Yukon Territory, Canada. Another Canadian line is that of Oliver Cromwell Phelps and Marie-Josephite Roi, with thanks to Linnie Poirier and Ron Monroe.