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Religious Pioneer Ronald Aaron Noble Phelps

I am descended from both William Phelps and George Phelps.

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

The Family Goes West

Thadeus Merrill Phelps was born 4 Oct 1856 in Wataga, Illinois. His father Aaron Noble Phelps was a pioneer farmer on about 300 acres, who in 1871 won a prize for having the best farm in the township.

He helped his father with the farm as a young man. He later worked on a farm in Cromwell, Iowa where he met and married Helen Lindsay Bartle (b 1862 Decatur, Michigan) in Cromwell, Iowa on March 7, 1883, Her father, Rev. Wm. T. Bartle, had been a visiting pastor to Cromwell since 1851. A church was built in Cromwell in 1875. Rev. Bartle supplied pastorship to the Cromwell Congregational Church (membership about 55), for about one year in 1876. He officiated at his daughter's wedding.

Sometime after their daughter Helen was born in Cromwell in December 1883, the family moved to Peoria, where Thadeus' parents and two of his siblings still lived. Thadeus got a job as a traveling salesman in about 1886 with the Avery Planter Company, owned by his aunt and uncle George and Serpahina (Phelps) Avery. He gave up traveling and took a job as a shipping clerk with the same company, until 1897, when he became a grinder at Avery. He worked there until 1899.

Thadeus took his family west to California in 1899, where he got a job as a freight handler. My grandmother, Anne Christy Phelps, told me there was a "local depression" in the Los Angeles area at the time. Thadeus and Helen had four children.

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 raised their children (17 15, 12 and 9 years old). Thadeus was according to his death certificate in California 33 years at his death on 13 May 1932 in Glendale, Los Angeles, California.

My grandfather Harold learned telegraphy at age 17. Bart got a job working for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad in Winslow, Arizona at age 17, beginning in 1910. He had a hankering to see Alaska, and in 1914 joined the Navy hoping to land a post as a telegrapher in Ketchikan.

Harold married Betty Christy in 1920. In 1924, he finally got his wish for a posting to Alaska. They had one son, Harold "Hal" Jr., born in Kodiak, Alaska in 1925. Bart served in the Navy until he retired in 1937, when they bought a home in San Mateo, and he became a property appraiser in San Mateo County, California. In 1940, Bart was recalled to active duty. He served as a radioman aboard the USS Whitney, a destroyer tender for about a year, when he was posted to the 12th Naval District in San Francisco.

Hal joined the Navy ROTC in 1943. He was able to secure a slot in the engineering V-12 program, which was launched to beef up the numbers of commissioned naval officers during World War II. He was given active-duty pay while he attended the University of Kansas, in Lawrence, Kansas for one year, where he studied civil engineering.

Hal finished his college education as an Ensign and was commissioned in June 1945. Before he left Kansas City, he met 20 year old Annabeth Beasley, who had volunteered to help at the local USO. Hal served as part of the 103rd Naval Construction Battalion, at Guam in the Marianas Islands from July 1946 to May 1947.

When he returned to the continental U.S., he married Annabeth in Kansas City on December 21, 1947. Hal was asasigned to Naval Air Station in Chincoteague, Virginia. From there they moved to Camp Pendleton, near Long Beach, California. My brother Bud was born there in 1951. The family next moved to Great Lakes Naval Training Center, 35 miles north of Chicago. It was while stationed here that Annabeth's mother, Elizabeth Bremser Beasley, passed away.

In 1954 Hal was next stationed to 6th Army HQ, in Heidelberg, Germany. Annabeth and Bud followed in early 1955. Though a Navy man and far from the seas, he was attached to a Seabees (civil engineering) unit. While in Germany, their second son, Brian was born. The family left Germany in December, 1956 and returned to California, where Hal was assigned to the Naval Air Station in Monterey, California. They bought a house but Annabeth and Hal were divorced the next year.

Annabeth worked for the U.S. Army at Ft. Ord, California as a stenographer the rest of her life. Hal remarried and after he was RIFFED from the Navy, was hired as a civil engineer by the Central Intelligence Agency. He worked in the Far East on Saipan, Formosa, and in Vietnam. He later returned to Langley, Virginia where he managed civil engineering responsibilites at CIA facilities in the Washington D.C. area.

Bud died in August, 2000, having never married nor had any children. Annabeth died in her sleep less than nine months later, at age 73.

Brian, the author of this site, married Susan Claypool, with whom he had Tucker. He then married Sharla Morgan, and they have four sons, Connor, Cory, Aaron, and Gordon. Brian and Sharla live today in Carson City, Nevada.


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.