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William Effingham Townsend
was born at Westbury on Tuesday, July 21, 1840, the son of Joseph Lawrence
and Hannah Whitson. His paternal ancestors were: Thomas Townsend, father
of John, Henry and Richard, early settlers of Oyster Bay; Richard "Bull"
Smith the Patentee of Srnithtown; John Bowne. Flushing champion of religious
freedom in America. and William Lawrence, first white settler in 1645 of
The genealogical descent is: (1) Thomas: (2) Richard 1st: (3) Richard 2nd born at Oyster Bay November 8, 13~O (4) John born at Hemp-stead; (5) Thomas born at \Vestbury in 1732; (6) Obadiah born June 7, 1770 at Westbury who married Phebe Lawrence of Bayside great-great grand-daughter of William Lawrence, Elizabeth Smith, eldest daughter of Richard "Bull" Smith and John Bowne 1st; (7) Joseph Lawrence Townsend born October 7, 1797, at Flushing and (8) William Effingham Townsend.
On December 28, 1876, William Effingham Townsend married Gertrude Tredwell, great grand-daughter of Elizabeth Seaburv, half sister of Samuel Seabury the first Episcopal Bishop of America who was ordained in Aberdeen, Scotland on Nov. 14, 1785 because he refused to swear allegiance to the king of England after the American Revolution.
Eleven and one-half months after their marriage, a daughter, Gertrude Townsend was born on December 13, 1877. Her mother died nine days later from complications of child birth, leaving William Effingham Townsend a widower from this marriage which lasted six days short of one year.
The father carried on alone for almost seven years, raising his daughter and operat ing his large farm on the west side of Bacon Road in Westbury. Then he remarried to Anna P. Willets of Auburndale, Flushing. She was a descendant of Richard Willets, one of the original proprietors of Hempstead and the husband of Mary Washburne, who after his death built Milleridge Inn, still standing today at Jericho. This second marriage took place on Wednesday, November 26, 1884, and on that day his motherless daughter, Gertrude, apprehensively presented to her new mother a little white porcelain dish as a wedding gift.An aunt had taken the little six-year-old girl to a store and let her pick out the dish to give to Anna Willets. After the death of her step-mother, 33 years later, Gertrude Townsend received the porcelain dish back. For the rest of her life she clung to this token of trust and love because her need had been returned a hundred fold by the mature and splendid mind and splendid spirit of Anna Willets Townsend.
Anna Willets took the little girl to her wise and understanding heart and there was never any "step" in their relationship. Gertrude Townsend many years later recalled:
"Anna Willets could bring calm and order where all was chaos and wherever there was illness she brought exceptional nursing ability and the solace of her strong and reasonable personality. In trouble, it made people better just to know that Anna Willets was on her way to them".
According t o Gertrude Townsend, Anna Willets could mend a tear in a little girls best dress so that you would never know it had happened, and she wouldnt scold, even though you had been told not to climb fences when you were all dressed up.
About two years after the marriage of William Effingham Townsend and Anna Wiflets, a daughter, Eliza Willets Townsend was born on October 12, 1886. Then on January 3, 1890, their son, William Effingham Townsend. Jr., was born at Westbury. Tragedy struck the family on March 10, 1900, when their thirteen year old daughter died of pneumonia.
In 1905 William nlownsend sold more than 100 acres of his farm to Robert L. Bacon, a former United States Ambassador to France and one time Congressman from Long Island, who gave Bacon Road in Westbury, where the Townsend Homestead still stands, its name.
The remaining land and the house was sold to the Cocoran family in 1915 and shortly afterwards the Town-sends moved to Hempstead. In 1916 Robert Lawrence Ahles of Bayside bought the property. Mr. Ahles died five years later in 1921 and some time later the famous Bostwick family of polo fame bought the entire estate.
The tragic last thirteen days of William Effingham Townsend and his wife Anna Willets began at Hempstead on Sunday morning December 2, 1917, when Mr. Townsend wras suddenly taken ill. Pneumonia developed and the next day Anna Willets wrote to her step-daughter about the serious illness of her father. She stated that the doctor insisted upon having a nurse for her husband, or she would wear herself out and become ill herself. A nurse was called in but the strain was still too much for Anna Willets and she succumbed to the pneumonia herself and died on Saturday, December 15, 1917, without knowing that her husband had been buried the day before.
The sole remaining survivor of the family was William Effingham Townsend, Jr., unmarried and in his 28th year, who then went to live at Greenport with his cousin, Joseph Lawrence Townsend 3rd, who later became the owner of Townsend Manor Inn, well known Greenport historv. Effingham, as he was called by his friends, remained unmarried and died on Thursday, May 10, 1945, at the Inn of his cousin. He was laid to rest alongside his parents and sister Eliza in the Friends Meeting House Cemetery at Westbury. William Effingham Townsends daughter, Gertrude from his first marriage, married F. Leopold Schmidt, Jr., son of the Consul General in New York for Saxony and Baden, Germany. Their children were: Parbury Pollen Schmidt, who passed away May 30, 1964, three months and sixteen days after the death of his mother, and Melenda, wife of John W. R. Beecroft of Glen Cove.
Everyone who had the pleasure of knowing William Effingham Townsend, who was born on the third day of the week, will recall that he was truly Tuesdays child full of grace.
First appearing in the LI Forum 1960 No Copyright Information Data Found