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Below is a family biography included in Biographical Record of Oakland County, Michigan published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1903.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Edwin Phelps, who has been prominent in all matters pertaining to agriculture in Oakland County, Michigan, has a fine farm in section 23, Pontiac township, but for some years past has been living in Pontiac. He was born in the village of Pittsfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, April 7, 1828, and is a son of Elnathan and Clarissa (Colt) Phelps.

William Phelps, grandfather of our subject, was a native of Vermont and a Revolutionary soldier. He married Sarah Smelage, a native of Vermont, and they had the following children: Benjamin; Betsey (Smith); Maria (Rigley); Eleanor (Smith); Rhoda (Niles), who settled in Troy township, Oakland County, at an early day; Elnathan; Alfred; William; Bethena (Robins); and Polly (Everett), whose grandson, John Everett, is now principal of the Pontiac High School.

Elnathan Phelps, our subject’s father, engaged in woolen manufacturing while a resident of Massachusetts, but after coming to Oakland County in 1833 followed farming. He was a Democrat in politics, and took an earnest interest in his party’s success. He died in 1871, aged 72 years. He was married to Clarissa Colt, a native of Pittsfield and a daughter, of Jabez and Sarah Colt, and they had two children, — Edwin and Helen (Reeves), twins.

Edwin Phelps was four years old when his mother died and he was brought by his father to Oakland County, Michigan, in 1833, the father buying 180 acres in section 23, Pontiac township, which has continued to be our subject’s home ever since. He was reared on this farm and attended the old log school house in the district. Upon reaching the age of 18 years, he returned to Pittsfield and attended the grammar school for six months, then entered the High School at Rochester, Michigan, which he attended under Professor Kedzie for two years. He then worked the home farm and on March 19, 1850, with a party of five left for the gold fields of California. They had seven horses and one wagon, and upon arriving at St. Joseph, Missouri, bought another wagon. They left the Missouri River at St. Joseph, Missouri, and on their way to the coast passed two forts, — Fort Kearney on the Platte River, and Fort Laramie. The trip was a hard one and hazardous and consumed four and a half months. Mr. Phelps continued in California for two years, making considerable money in the diggings, then returned home and purchased the home farm of his father. He continued to work the farm with great success until 1880 when his rheumatism became too bad for him to continue the hard work and undergo exposure to all kinds of weather. He has dealt extensively in blooded cattle, and has also fed as high as 150 head. He first bred Herefords, and then imported 70 head of Holsteins which he bred for several years. He has been a director and president of the Oakland County Agricultural Society almost since its inception, and for many years was a director of the State Agricultural Society. He is a Democrat in politics and cast his first vote for Franklin Pierce. He was a justice of the peace for a period of 25 years, and school director many years. He is a member of the Knights of Pythias; and has been a member of the Grange since its organization, serving as master for a long time. He helped in the organization of the Universalist Society, and assisted in building all the churches in the vicinity, although a member of none.

In 1858 Mr. Phelps was united in marriage to Mary Irish, a native of Oakland County, and a daughter of Joseph Merwin and Sarah Irish, by whom he has had two children, namely: Mary, a teacher, who is a graduate of Kalamazoo Seminary, Albion College and Cornell University; while Jessie is a graduate of the University of Michigan, with the degree of B. S. and M. S., and has taught for a number of years at the State Normal School at Ypsilanti, Michigan, being at present engaged there. Mrs. Phelps died in July, 1870. In November, 1875, Mr. Phelps was married to Delia J. Kimball, also a native of Oakland County. To this union three children were born: Clara, who married Walter Smith, a mechanic and bookkeeper for the Beaudett Body Works of Pontiac; Ella, wife of Birdsey Madison, a grocer of Pontiac; and Edwin, Jr., who conducts the home farm. Edwin Phelps, Jr., attended the State Agricultural College at Lansing for two years and then took charge of the farm.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Biographical Record of Oakland County, Michigan published in 1903. 

View additional Oakland County, Michigan family biographies here: Oakland County, Michigan Biographies

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