Research: Our Family Connection to Roger Williams

One of my favorite family stories is Roger Williams, my 10th Great Grandpa! This article documents the important details that link each generation to the next.

Who Was Roger Williams?

Roger Williams is pretty famous and accomplished much in his lifetime. He is arguably the founder of modern American society, the first American abolitionist, and co-founder of liberalism.

For more on Roger Williams, read my summary:

Roger Williams founded Providence, RI which is the first place in modern history where citizenship and religion were separate. Providence provided religious liberty and separation of church and state. This was combined with the principle of majoritarian democracy in Providence and was a template for modern American life.

My Ancestors Back to Roger Williams

My great great grandmother on my mom’s side is Isabella Baxter. She and her twin sister were born in 1848. They were born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. Isabella was the last of a long line of my direct-line ancestors to Roger Williams born in Providence. The Providence-born line of ancestors goes back to the granddaughter of Roger Williams, Catherine Sayles. Catherine was born in 1671. Her mother Mary is one of Roger Williams’ daughters. Mary was born in Plymouth Colony, sometimes called New Plymouth, in 1633 before Roger Williams founded the Rhode Island Colony.

The following chart shows my family back to Isabella Baxter. Copies of the pictures of Edwin Lowe, Sr. and Isabella Baxter were given to me by my cousin Colleen Cunningham in 2018.


The following family photo was taken in 1925. My great grandpa Richard Henry Lowe was the 4th of 7 children born to Isabella Baxter.

In 1925, the family moved south 100 miles very near Cornell college for the kids. This picture was also sent from Colleen Cunningham to my mom Leslie Lupton in 2012. About a year after Colleen’s mom Elinore passed.

Because of a state census, we know a bit about the Lowe-Wright family at this time. This is a good example of the type of documentation that can exist for your ancestors. The 1925 Iowa state census collected some interesting information. In addition to the usual data, on this census is the name of your father (not just state born), and maiden name of mother, education levels, religion, and more. Our family was lucky in that they participated in the census in Bethel, moved to Vernon and participated again. This census clearly documents that Isabella Baxter of Providence, Rhode Island is Richard Henry Lowe’s mother.

Bethel, 1925 Iowa State census (1 of 3). In 1925, Richard and Winifred moved the family 100 miles south to be near Cornell college. They moved from Bethel to Franklin, near Mt. Vernon. Notice Edwin’s mother-in-law Jane Wright (Elizabeth Jane Buttolph) is living with them in Bethel, but she is not listed on the Mt. Vernon census. It is likely she did not move the 100 miles with them.
Bethel, 1925 Iowa State census (2 of 3). Clearly documented is Richard Lowe’s father as Edwin Lowe who was born in England, and his mother Isabella Baxter who died earlier in 1882 was born in Providence, Rhode Island. Notice Isabella is “Belle” on this census. She is Isabella on the 2nd 1925 census.
Bethel, 1925 Iowa State census (3 of 3). Notice this census indicates Methodist.
Mt. Vernon, 1925 Iowa State census (1 of 3). This home at 7th Ave, North was worth $3,500 and they owed $1,000. They also carried $2,000 of insurance on the home. In 1925, Richard had been in Iowa for 50 years.

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