Rapleys in Ontario, Canada and Michigan, USA

The picture below is of the Yale Hotel, in Yale, Michigan, a small town north of Detroit, not to be confused with the famous New England University town. The hotel was opened in 1901 and is the oldest building in Yale. It was built by Thomas Rapley, who was also a lumberjack, hence the large saws on the wall in the interior. Thomas originally emigrated to Strathroy, Ontario, Canada. Strathroy is located to the west of the city of London, Ontario sandwiched on a peninsula of land between the great lakes of Huron and Erie. To their west lies the USA border, which unusually between the USA and Canada, runs north to south following the St Clair River. The St Clair River connects Lake Huron to the much smaller Lake St Clair. Detroit is located on the west bank of Lake St Clair and the Detroit River connects Lake St Clair to Lake Erie. At the northern mouth of the St Clair River, Sarnia is located on the Ontario east bank and Port Huron on the Michigan west bank. It is in this geographical area, where the emigrating Rapleys were located.

Thomas was born in Wisborough Green, a small village in West Sussex, UK on 15th March 1826 and he died in Yale, Michigan on 20th February 1906. His grand parents were William Rapley and Ruth Court. William was born in Rudgwick, West Sussex on 1st December 1738 and Ruth was born in the nearby village of Kirdford on 25th January 1756. They were married in Kirdford on 24th April 1774. This is St John the Baptist church in Kirdford. William died on 5th December 1825 in Fittleworth, West Sussex and Ruth died on 13th December 1838 in Kirdford.

William and Ruth had a large family, but I am only going to follow the two lines that link my family to Thomas in this blog. The two sons in question were James Rapley, born Fittleworth, West Sussex on 4th March 1781 (my 4 x Great Grand Uncle) who emigrated to Strathroy, Ontario and Thomas Rapley, also born in Fittleworth on 20th October 1782 (my 4 x Great Grandfather). James married Mary Collins (1783-1831) on 3rd June 1805 in Pulborough, West Sussex and it was their son Thomas mentioned at the start of this blog, who emigrated to Canada. Thomas married Ann Hurst (1781-1894) on 28th December 1802 in Kirdford.

If we follow my line first, Thomas and Ann, had another large family, but I am going to concentrate on two of the children. Rhoda Rapley (1813- 1864 both Kirdford) married David Holden (1809-1880) on 4th January 1831 in Kirdford. They were my 3 x Great Grandparents. My lineage from Rhoda after marrying David Holden is detailed in the blog page “The Elliotts of West Sussex”. Rhoda had eight other siblings, but Hannah Rapley (1st May1808 Wisborough Green – June 1884 Petworth) married George Sopp on 18th May 1829 in Kirdford. In the 1871 census George Sopp aged 68 was living with his wife Hannah, daughter Fanny aged 39 and brother-in-law Steven Rapley aged 55 (who was described as a lunatic). Also, living with them was widower and father-in-law Thomas Rapley aged 88 and, as noted above, my 4 x Great Grandfather. I have a DNA connection to Peter Sopp, my fourth cousin once removed, who is descended through the Sopp line back to Thomas Rapley. This helps to cement all of this paper research in place.

Turning now to James’ line, Thomas was one of six children. William, Charlotte, James W., David and Lucy were his siblings. Thomas married Emma Cooper (born 21 January 1826, Graffham, West Sussex – 7th September 1913 Yale, Michigan) on 19th June 1846 in Adelaide Township, Ontario. Pictures of Thomas and Emma follow:

Thomas and Emma crossed the border into Michigan in 1868 and bought a plot of land to commence their logging business between Yale and Brockway to the south. This was evidently successful and provided the funds to eventually build the Yale Hotel, which at one time was named the Rapley House Hotel. There were eleven children from this marriage and one of the daughters, Mary Rapley, who was born in 1853 on a farm in Old Brockway (presumably the lumber business) was featured in a newspaper on her 84th birthday on 10th February 1937 and again on her 87th birthday in 1940, the year she passed away on 23rd November. In 1937 the newspaper confirmed that three of her siblings were still living, Mrs Frank Hill, Avoca, Mrs George Hull, Fargo and William J. Rapley, Port Huron. Mary married Arthur Patrick Hennessy on 29th April 1874 and they had four children, Maude (married Alex Pollock), Lilian May (married Charles Palmer), J. A. Hennessy and Herbert T. Hennessy. Her husband passed away and she married Miles Simmons on 4th August 1908. I have a DNA connection to Theodore Sommer, a 6th Cousin, who is descended through Lilian May Hennessy back to William Rapley, which confirms the accuracy of this line of my research and also confirms the link to my branch of the Rapley family.

I have a significant amount of research on the Rapleys, in the UK, Canada and USA, but as the families were large, I have had to concentrate on how they linked into my family for this blog page. I am finishing with a Thru Lines extract that shows the DNA Connections and this is an excellent feature from Ancestry.