The Foote Family

[Related surnames: Billing | Billings, Bull, Lodge]

My paternal grandfather was William Albert Billings. He was born in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada in 1893. I never met his sisters and his parents died well before I was born. My grandfather told me a little about his family, and what I know from him and from further research can be found in the Billings section of this site. I knew nothing about his father, John Albert, or his grandparents, Edward and Eleanor [Ellen] Billings. I have been slowly unraveling the mystery of this branch of the family, and have only recently come across some answers to the puzzle.

The Beginning of the Search
During my research at the St. Thomas Cemetery in December, 2001, I found John Albert, his wife, and her sister all buried in the same plot. I also found an Edward, Giles, and Sedric [also known as Shedrick and Shadrach] in the same cemetery. Using the dates found in these records, I was able to go online to the LDS records and find that Edward and Giles were brothers born in Cornwall, England. Shedrick may be a cousin, based on LDS info, but he was living with Giles at one point in Canada. I then found the Billings ancestry all the way back to the 1600s in England. Amazing what a little information like some dates will do!

I now sought to find out more about Edward’s wife, Eleanor–my great great grandmother. I found her obituary in the George Thorman Room of the St. Thomas Library in June. It says she was born in Fairfield, New York, in 1819, and moved to Canada when she was 15. She moved to St. Thomas when she was 49. It also said that she was survived by her sons, William Lodge and A. Billings.

I had to mull this over. I had never heard the Lodge named connected with this branch of the family. I wondered if it was William Lodge Billings? I realized when I looked at the dates again, that she had married Edward a little late in life and began having children when she was 37. Working on the assumption that she had been married before, I began a new search and found a “George William” Lodge buried in St. Thomas Cemetery. I then found a message board posting concerning the Lodge family and wrote to the author, Fred Meeks. He replied that our information on Ellen fit together. His John Lodge had died in 1846 and he next found the widowed Ellen married to Edward Billings in a census. So, my Eleanor question was answered. Now I set out to find as much as possible concerning this marriage and hoped to pin down her maiden name.

I continued searching and found this in the Elgin County Probate Records:

LNAME: LODGE; FNAME: JOHN; RESIDENCE: SOUTHWOLD DATE: 1846; FILE: 4 MFNO 1465 NOTES: – died at London – death date uncertain – petition filed December 23, 1846 by widow – widow was Eleanor Lodge of Southwold – Letters of Administration granted December 23, 1846 to Eleanor Lodge

In another search I found this:

Marriages by Rev. William Clarke, Congregational Minister, Jan. 13, 1840
John Lodge to Eleanor Foote, of Southwold.

Eureka! Eleanor’s maiden name was Foote. Of course, I can’t rest with that as proof, so I have since found many many records to point to this as fact. First, I found this in an LDS search:

Ellen FOOTE Sex: F Event(s): Birth: Abt. 1818 St Thomas, Middlesex, Ontario Parents: Father: Oliton Cushman FOOTE Mother: Thina BULL

These records are notoriously incorrect, based on human error of the “donors,” but there is usually some shred of fact. I thought this may be her, based on her birthdate of 1819; however, Ellen wasn’t born in Ontario, and further info told me that Oliton Cushman Foote and his wife, Thina Bull came from New York originally. Oliton was in the Buffalo NY 1832 directory. Further searching revealed that he was living in a very important place in the 1910 census:

Foot, Olitan C.; State: New York; Year: 1810; County: Herkimer; Roll: M252_27; Township: Fairfield; Page: 380 Image: 212 [Fairfield!]

Olitan was in a Buffalo, New York directory in 1832, right near the Canadian border, and Ellen’s obit says she moved to Canada when she was 15, which would be 1834. I think I can “assume” I have the correct family. Genealogy is definitely like a giant jigsaw puzzles and finding the pieces can lead to some exciting discoveries, can’t it?

I have since found many genealogies online that fill in the gaps in the Foote family until as far back as Robert Foote in the mid 1500s, and the Foote descendants that were involved with the Mayflower. I will post the report and tree that I have since developed here, but I have not confirmed any of the sources of the facts and dates about the early ancestors. Doing so will take me quite a bit of time, but I will verify all that I can.

Eleanor Foote Lodge Billings, died 1908.

Genealogy Reports
The Foote report, beginning with John Foote of Lincolnshire, England, updated March 2024, including the famous Nathaniel Foote

Blog Posts
Rick and I went to St. Thomas, Ontario, where I finally got to the cemetery. Story and photos here.

The Foote Family Association of America
This is an entire site dedicated to Foote ancestry.