The chronological history of the Westover family dates back to the 1500s in England. Each known individual adds a different chapter to the family story. In all it is an epic tale that completes the stories and shares the consequences of the broader events of world history.
1900s — Builders, Teachers and Soldiers
Below is a chronological summary of the patriarchal Westover line dating back more than 500 years. We will continue to fill in this timeline as information becomes available:
Westover Family History
The Country Farmer of Wedmore
John Westover II was born around the year 1501 and was a country farmer. John and his wife Alicia had five children that we know about — 2 boys and 3 girls.
John of Wedmore
John Westover III continued where his father left off, achieving the class of husbandman. This gave him a little greater prestige and a slightly higher class of living. John married Johanna Clapp and together they raised a large family, including another son named John, whose descendants would famously become the country doctors of Wedmore in Somerset County, England. These Westovers, who remained in England, would make a name for themselves for their medical service. Their journals, kept for over a century, would be studied by modern medical scholars and historians well into the 20th century (and can be seen in our document archive). While the search is still on for all the children of John and Johanna Westover we do know through tax records that John had three cows named Lily, Sparkle and Pickle.
Gabriel Westover Sr.
Gabriel Westover married Elizabeth Dawleigh in St. Mary Magdalene Church in Taunton, Somerset, England in 1592. Records are unclear just how big of a family Gabriel and Elizabeth had or even what they did for a living, though it is fair to assume they were country farmers just like previous generations. Gabriel only lived into his 30s.
Puritans in Exile
Gabriel Westover Jr. and his wife Joanne Gifford had at least seven children. They lived at what would be considered center stage for the clashes between the Crown and the Puritans over the role of the Church of England and, specifically, of King Charles II. This Westover family, as with many other staunch Puritan families, relocated for a period of time to the Netherlands to escape the King’s tyranny. It was while they were living in the Netherlands that Gabriel and Joanne made the fateful decision to send at least two of their children to the New World.
The Puritans of Connecticut
From the Netherlands the Westovers began a migration westward. However, they could not afford to all go at one time so it was decided that Jane Westover would be the first of the family to set foot in the New World. She was just 16 years old when she arrived. A short time later, at around the age of 11, her little brother Jonah Westover arrive in the New World (1639). He would live a long life, establishing the family homestead on what would come to be known as Westover Plain near Simsbury, Connecticut. Jonah, or Jonas, as some records call him, married Hannah Griswold, daughter of an influencial man and neighbor, Edward Griswold. Jonah Jr., as a first generation American, would likewise make an impact on the New World and on Westover family history.
From Connecticut to Massachusetts and Beyond
Jonah and Hannah would bring ten Westover children into the world, three sons and seven daughters. Their eldest son Jonah Jr would in time carry forward the Westover name.That did look doubtful for a time. He was Captain Jonah Westover, leader of the local militia and very busy defending the settlement. The area surrounding Simsbury was active with Indian uprisings requiring a constant military presence. Jonah Jr. remained unmarried until the ripe age of 36, when he married Abigail Case, daughter of another local prominent family. They would bring five children into the world, two girls and three boys. But something happened in 1714. Within a five week period beginning in early May the family lost matriarch Hannah Westover, followed then by Abigail Westover and then suddenly Jonah Jr. died. This left the children of Jonah Jr. and Abigail Westover orphans — without even grandparents around. Uncle Jonathan Westover, Jonah Jr’s brother and also an unmarried militia captain, stepped up to care for the children. He moved the family to a new frontier in Sheffield, Masschusetts, where the sons of Jonah Jr. and Abigail Westover would make their own mark on Westover Family History. This story is just the beginning of a long line of Westover brothers taking care of each other.
The Generations of the American Revolution
The three youngest children of Jonah Jr. and Abigail Westover — Nathaniel, Jonah and John — would grow up and raise their families in Sheffield, Massachusetts. Each would leave their mark on the community. Nathaniel was a local innkeeper, who even to this day is portrayed in community events as a founding father in the community. Jonah Westover III built a home (pictured above) with his brother John Westover (from whom we descend) and together they raised their considerably large families together. John Westover was well known in the community due to his service as clerk of the local Church of England. He and his wife Rachel would raise a family of 12 children, including seven sons. These seven sons with Biblical names would scatter following the American Revolution, spreading the Westover name through out North America.
Westovers First Move West
The many sons of John and Rachel Westover of Massachusetts practically fled their Colonial hometown of Sheffield. Though most of them fought along side their colonial neighbors against England they were not safe any more in Sheffield because the family were known loyalists. Sons Moses and John fled for Canada. Job’s descendants headed for Missouri. Others ended up in Pennsylvania and New York. Youngest son Amos Westover, along with his wife Ruth, wandered first into Canada, then Vermont and over a course of several years finally found their way to the Ohio valley. There they hoped their branch of the Westover family would stay. Some did. Others pushed futher west.
Tragedy and Destiny
Amos and Ruth Westover’s son Alexander Westover was a teen when they arrived in Ohio and established the family farm. They came to the area with friends from New England, the Obediah Beal family. Ruth died in 1821 and Amos followed a year later in 1822. Just months later Alexander married Electa Beal and started a whole new chapter in Westover family history. Together they moved to Goshen, Ohio to stake a claim and start a family. Their first, Edwin Ruthven, was born there in 1824. Three other sons were born until Alexander died in 1834. His passing left Electa destitute and forced her to farm out her children to other families. Little did Electa know that within another ten years the winds of fate would partner her with her son Edwin in taking the Westover name further west.
For more than a decade Electa Westover faced a spiritual crisis. Widowed, her children in the care of others, and her own future and happiness in doubt, Electa was searching for answers. They came when her sister sent Mormon missionaries from nearly a hundred miles away. She embraced the restored gospel and then shared it with her son Edwin. He married in 1844 and had his son, Edwin L. Westover, with his bride Sarah. But just months after little Edwin was born, Sarah died, leaving Edwin a very young widower. Suddenly Edwin had a great deal in common with his mother and he started his own search for answers. It was only natural that Electa would share what she had found in Mormonism. With both baptized they joined the Latter-day cause, joining up with others headed west from Winter Quarters. From that point forward the Westover story continued as Mormon pioneers.