Tombstone Tuesday: Benajah Spelman Phelps (1800-1903)

TombstoneTuesday  I was trolling through Vermont cemeteries looking for a subject for today’s article when I came across four graves in the Alburgh Tongue Cemetery in Grand Isle County, all children of “B.S. (or Benajah S.) and Asenath Phelps” … hmm.  The children were:  Belinda, Cynthia, Horace and Ruth.  The grave stone pictures are hard to distinguish as far as dates but it appears that at least three of their children were very young when they died.  Their parents Benajah Spelman and Asenath (Fletcher) Phelps are buried, however, in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin… double-hmm.

I found that Benajah lived a very long life, dying at age one hundred and three in Colorado Springs, Colorado – again with the “hmm”.  Talk about an intriguing history to investigate — so off I went on the search for more about Benajah.

Benajah Spelman Phelps was born on March 24, 1800 on South Island, Grand Isle County, Vermont to parents Abel and Mary (Pelton) Phelps, their second son.  His fourth great-grandfather, William the immigrant, was born in 1599 and Benajah’s great-grandfather Captain Abel Phelps was a Revolutionary War veteran.  Benajah’s father was a veteran of the War of 1812.  In fact, the island where the family lived was in the middle of Lake Champlain, scene of  significant battles which occurred in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.


NOTE: This article is being re-purposed and will be included in a future edition of Digging History Magazine. Please check out our new site:  Samples are available by clicking magazine image.  Regular monthly issues currently available for only $1.99. – Updated 1/20/18.



  1. Benajah’s roots are presumed to be from William Phelps of Crewkerne who settled in Dorchester MA in 1630. The Phelps line from Tewkesbury is currently believed not to be the same by many people. What’s strange is Phelps of Crewkerne born 1599 has no recorded father…while Phelps of Tewkesbury died in Crewkerne in 1611, however there seems not to be a record of lineage. The nexus is interesting.

    • I might have to do a bit more research on Benajah for a book I want to write about centenarians. I’ve found some great stories in newspaper archives – some of them real characters. Thanks for stopping by!


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