Garth Hagerman Photo/Graphics
Garth Hagerman Photo/Graphics

Searle Family History

By Beth Searle Alexander

That part of the Searle family history about which we have fairly reliable information begins in 1778 with Saul Searle. He was born in South Hampton, Massachusetts in that year. He married Sally Leonard in 1804. Sally was born in 1781 and her maiden name was apparently the source of the name Leonard that was carried on for several generations. The only child of Saul and Sally we know about was Leonard C. Searle, born June 19, 1811 in Sheldon, Vermont. The middle initial C. may have been the source of the name Carleton which appeared in later generations but whether this is valid or which side of the family it might have come from is not known. It could just as easily be Charles, which seems to have been part of the later family heritage.

Leonard C. Searle married Nancy Phebe Beeman January 28, 1830 in Fairfax, Vermont and they had ten children. We do not have death dates for Leonard or Nancy but the record shows that Leonard died in Fairfax, Vermont so it is probable that all their children were born in that area. Some old letters written many years later indicate that Leonard and Nancy established a farm in the vicinity of Fairfax and that this farm remained in the family until the 1870's. The youngest of their children was born in 1854. Their first child, Charles Henry Searle, became the direct line of descent for our branch of the Searle family; he was born in 1831. The other nine children were Henrietta S., Marieta A., Durkee J., Hubbard J., Rhoda B., Sarah A., Clara P., Elba, and Ionah B.

We have some information for only three of these siblings of Charles Henry. Durkee J. Searle, born in 1836, Rhoda B. Searle, born in 1843, and Hubbard J. Searle, born in 1840. Durkee married Maria Haight. They had two daughters, Nellie and Bernice, who both married and moved to St. Paul, Minnesota. Rhoda married Albert F. Olds and their son was Ernest A. Olds (1867-1947) who died in Illinois. Hubbard married Annie Neal, May 16, 1865 and they had a son, Carleton, who was born July 22, 1866.

Charles Henry Searle married Helen Lucretia Conger May 6, 1861 and they apparently settled in Saint Albans, Vermont where their first three children were born between the years 1862 and 1866. After Hubbard Searle and Annie Neal were married, in 1865, they apparently took over the family farm in Fairfax. Their son, Carleton, was born in that area in 1866. Leonard and Nancy retired to Saint Albans, Vt. Sometime between 1866 and 1872 Hubbard and family left the farm and Charles Henry and Helen moved their family there from Saint Albans. Their youngest child Charles Henry Searle, Jr. was born in that area in 1872.

In 1873 an epidemic of typhoid fever swept the area. Charles Henry died and his wife, Helen, apparently did also, but we have no death date for her so can't be sure. A letter written by a relative many years later indicate that six members of the family were sick with typhoid that year and that five of them died, including Charles Henry, Helen, and their children Durkee, Sarah, and Rhoda. According to the letter Hubbard was sick but recovered, then two years later got it again and died. We do not have death dates in the record for these people and no other records to verify this information.

Charles Henry Searle and Helen Lucretia Conger had four children. Alice Christiana Searle was born October 9, 1862 in Saint Albans and would have been eleven years old when her parents died. Jason Conger Searle was born about 1864, also in Saint Albans and would have been about nine years old. Burton Leonard Searle was born June 2, 1866 in St. Albans and would have been seven years old. His little brother, Charles Henry Searle, Jr. was born in 1872, in North Fairfax and he was about one year old.

In 1873, when typhoid fever left these four children orphaned, the mother of Helen Conger Searle was living in Saint Albans with her husband, Mr. Cornelius M. Hardy, described as Helen's stepfather. We have no name for Helen's mother but she was said to have been a half sister of a Mrs. Ralph Brooks. The four children were taken to Saint Albans to live with their Hardy grandparents.

Alice helped care for her younger siblings in that household for many years. When she was about thirty years old she married Alvin L. Collins but she died two years later, September 7, 1894. Jason died in 1884 when he was about twenty. Charles Henry Searle, Jr. lived with the Hardy family, and his sister Alice, during his boyhood years. We know little about his activities of that time except the fact that he attended college in Montpelier, Vermont and his room mate was a man by the name of Chester Waller. Chester went on to become a medical doctor. About 1916 Charles Henry, Jr. went to Chicago. About 1928 he left Chicago and settled in Middleton, Connecticut and lived there the rest of his life. He was employed in a Connecticut State Hospital for the mentally ill until about 1947. He died in 1952 in Middleton.

Burton Leonard Searle, originally named Leonard Burton Searle, was born June 2, 1866 in St. Albans, Vermont. He was seven years old when his father died. He lived with his Hardy grandparents in St. Albans, Vermont until 1876 when he was ten years old. What happened next he described in a letter to his friend Don Brooks many years later as follows:" In Swanton, Vermont there was a brother and sister by the name of James Dorman and Mary Dorman who wanted a boy to pour out their generous hearts and lavish their affections upon. There was a man in Swanton by the name of A. A. Brooks who was an old time, highly respected citizen of Swanton who knew of the family of boys whose parents had passed away (cut down in a typhoid epidemic) and who were something of a burden to their aging grandparents." (This A. A. Brooks was possibly related to BLS's mother's family. As noted above, Helen Conger Searle's mother was said to have been a half sister of a Mrs. Ralph Brooks. Also, A. A. Brooks was the father of A. A. "Don" Brooks, Jr. who later became a lifelong friend of Burton L. Searle). " Accordingly, one day in 1876 Mr. Brooks and James Dorman visited the family in St. Albans. James Dorman chose Burton Leonard Searle and asked him if he would like to go home with him and be 'his boy'." Burton was ecstatic and quickly agreed. They traveled forthwith to Swanton, Vermont by horse and buggy.

James and Mary Dorman became Uncle Jim and Aunt Mary for Burton. He lived with them and went to high school in Swanton, Vermont. In later years Burton wrote that he spent most of his youth at "the old Dorman home with James, Mary and Charlotte Dorman and Sarah Dorman Jennison and Clark Jennison".

In 1884 Dwight Dorman, a brother of James Dorman visited Swanton, apparently following the death of James from typhoid. Dwight was from Burlington, Iowa. He invited young Burton to come home with him to Iowa to live. Burton was 18 years old and readily accepted the offer. So Dwight Dorman became" Uncle Dwight". There is a later reference to " Aunt Lucy" but we are not sure if she was the wife of Dwight. Dwight Dorman was the Tie and Fuel Agent for the C. B. & Q. railroad at that time. Charles D. Dorman, son of Dwight, was the Auditor for the B. and M. Railroad in Omaha, Nebraska. He came home for Christmas that same year and told Burton he could find him a position in Omaha if he would like to return there with him. So in 1884 Burton moved to Omaha, Nebraska and worked in the Auditors office of the B. & M. Railroad.

Burton worked for the B. &. M. Railroad from 1884 to 1890. He seems to have been hired as personal secretary to Charles Dorman in the Auditors office. When Charles left that position in 1889-90 for reasons of ill health, (See Obituary of Charles Dorman) Burton went to work for a lumber company (Louis Bradford, Wholesale Lumber, Lath, Shingles, etc. at 10th and Douglas in Omaha, Nebraska) and stayed there until 1897. In 1897 he worked for a short while in the General Freight Office of the Union Pacific Railroad Company and then became Secretary to the Auditor of the Pacific Express Company, in Omaha. One of the other employees of the Pacific Express Company at that time was Samuel Roy Bereman, whose sister was Jessie Knox Bereman.

Burton Leonard Searle married Jessie Knox Bereman September 6, 1899 at eight o'clock in the evening at the home of S. O. Bereman and Damaris Ross Bereman, Jessie's parents, in Atchison, Kansas. The Rev. J. R. Comer of the Baptist Church was the minister. Jessie had lived in Atchison since she was one year old so the Beremans must have moved from Iowa to Kansas about 1873 or 1874. Burton Leonard Searle would have been 33 years old at the time of his marriage. Jessie Knox Bereman was 27; she was married on her birthday.

At the time of their marriage, Burton was working in the office of the auditor for the Pacific Express Company in Omaha and Jessie was employed as a stenographer for the H. B. Havens Coal Company in Omaha. Immediately after their wedding Burton and Jessie left for Swanton, Vermont to visit an aunt and to tour various sights in the east. They returned to Omaha the first of October. In December the Pacific Express Company moved their office to St. Louis, Missouri. BLS and Jessie moved with the company and settled in Kirkwood, Missouri.

Following excerpts from a journal belonging to BLS.

May 26, 1899 Took Miss B. to the Bostonians.

May 31, Jessie stops work for E. B. Havens Co. GOOD!!

June 2, 33 years old today. Went out to Hansen (?) Park for supper and took picture of the crowd. Jessie gave me a tripod for the camera and a copy of 'Uncle ...? Shop' for birthday presents.

June 3, Jessie left for home 3 o'clock the pm for 3 months rest and I am lonesome in the superlative degree but it isn't as if it was for always.

June 11, Went up to Honey Creek Lake with Kenyon and ...(?)..and fixed ceiling of hunting lodge.

July 8, Took Cousin Gertrude Dorman to So. Omaha to see our lots.

July 9, Took dinner with cousin Gertrude at her friends, Mrs Lincoln Patrick on Walnut Hill, and accompanied her to the train at 5. Told her I expected to take a young lady back to Vermont with me and she in return said she might be accompanied by a young gentleman back to Colorado. So goes the world.

August 8, Received part of wedding present from Aunt Mary - draft for $50 (?)

August 17, Commenced working overtime.

Went to Atchison Sept 4­Married Wed 8 pm on 6th. Left for Niagra Falls and Lake Champlain via St. Louis 9 o'clock pm. Spent Friday the 8th at the falls, arrived in Swanton Saturday morning. Took ride about town with Aunt Mary and Jessie. (Follows a complete record of remainder of trip and return to Omaha about the first of October) Moved from 503 So. 28th St with Mrs. Gilchrest (where he had been boarding before marriage) to 514 So. 29th Avenue October 1.

Dec 30, 1899 Left Omaha for Atchison and St. Louis. Spent Sunday 31st in Atchison. Arrived in St. Louis January 1st, 1900. Stopped at Terminal Hotel until Wednesday evening when we moved to 2817 Kings Highway and started in at light house keeping.

May 18, 1900 Moved to Kirkwood, Missouri.

BLS and Jessie had two children, both born in Kirkwood, Missouri. Leonard Bereman Searle was born January 30, 1902 and James Dorman Searle was born November 24, 1903. About 1912 Burton moved his family to Montana, settling on a farm near Valier.

Leonard and Dorman went to school in Valier, and when Leonard finished high school he went to college at Montana State College (now Montana State University) in Bozeman where he apparently studied agriculture. When he finished college, about 1925, he returned to the family farm in Valier. He helped his parents with the farm and also became a member of the Valier School board. During this period Jane Gillette came to Valier as a new teacher in the school district; Leonard apparently signed her contract as Chairman of the School Board.

Dorman had stayed home on the farm following his graduation from high school waiting for his brother to finish college. When Leonard came home, Dorman went to college at the University of Montana, Missoula where he studied law. He finished his law studies about 1929 and went to Seattle and found work with a law firm. On September 6, 1930 he married Amy Maude Yeatts.

On the 17th of January 1935, Jessie Knox Bereman Searle got caught in a cold winter blizzard and died. It had been a very cold winter; temperatures in January had been as cold as 30 degrees below zero. The details are given by Burton in one of his many journals:

Jessie drove to office; got into a drift on Goff corner, probably tried to get home for help across School Section. Got almost home, but not quite. Did not find her until Saturday morning, the 19th of January, 1935. She was buried Jan 23rd, 1935. The End

This event put an end to the farming enterprise. Leonard accepted a teaching position in Worden, Montana for the 1936 school year. Burton soon sold the farm and went to Washington and lived the rest of his life with Dorman and Amy and family. Leonard and Jane Gillette were married December 30, 1937. Leonard taught school in Whitehall for a while, we have references to indicate he was there in 1941. He didn't like teaching very much, and sometime during the years of WWII went to Seattle to find work in the defense industry. They settled in the Seattle area and lived in Washington State the rest of their lives.