Category Archives: Biography

Bruce Follansbee 1931 – 1981

    Bruce Edward Follansbee born May 13th, 1931 was the only child of Howard Barney Follansbee (1902-1947) and Martha (Sweet) Follansbee (1906-1946). He comes from a long line of Follansbees beginning with our Immigration from England, circa 1640’s. Migrating across the continent where his Grandfather and Father would settle in Zillah. Edward P Follansbee (1854-1948) would become the Treasurer for the city council and Howard (son of Edward) would be a partner in the Follansbee and Co General Store.

     Bruce was orphaned early in life around the age of 15 according to his parents recorded dates of his parent’s deaths in the WA state archives. He lost his mother in 1946 to a brain tumor and his father in 1948 to kidney failure; just as the Nation was recovering from the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Loss at such a young age would always color Bruce’s life.

    He spent a little time with each of his Grandmothers, Lena Sweet and Edna Follansbee before he started working at the Yakima Ice Rink, where he met his soon to be Wife, Joan Nelson (1931-2008). Joan and her sister Jean performed in a group at that ice rink and were known to be pretty good skaters. From this chance meeting on the cold ice, Bruce and Joan would start a family at the ages of 17 years old. A year later his first child, a daughter was born. It was a rough start, when Bruce’ first son was born Bruce had to give up his motorcycle as three could fit and not four!! Bruce had a bike accident in the Zillah orchard and took care of baby Sharon while he was in a body cast. She would be followed by two brothers. Having three children to support, Bruce would work various jobs, mostly as a driver. For Safeway he drove a truck to transport lettuce and he worked for Belkin Moving Company. Eventually he would work and rise in the ranks for Prudential Insurance.

    As his grandson, who lost him at a young age, Bruce seemed to me to be both at once a hard, tough man who was loved and greatly respected by his family and the Yakima Community. Perhaps over the years his toughness softened, or perhaps he only had a hard shell and a heart of gold. He loved a good joke and had a fabulous sense of humor. Bruce was never one to rest on his laurels and let life move on without him. He took up running in his 40’s where he would run in the cold, in the heat, and kept pressing no matter how many blisters his blisters got. My father tells me he liked to run the roads between the old Yakima Mall and the YMCA on Yakima Ave.

    Grandpa was not without his antics as our family stories prove. From his daughter, we are reminded of her early memories. “I remember being woken in the night a few times to go camping. Bruce and friends decided after a few beers that the families should jump in the cars and head to Rimrock Lake.” My father tells stories of a tough upbringing and a strict father, but he clarifies these as due to his stubbornness (The Famous Follansbee Stubbornness) and it was during the 50’s and 60’s a tough crossroad en a generation that remembered the Depression and were toughened up by WWII and the generation of Car Hops, a Musical Revolution, and an Age that benefited from the sacrifices of previous few generations. Bruce was fiercely loyal to his family and friends. He loved his boat “Joan Louise” and had to sell it when he got esophageal cancer age 49. He died age 50 after a very difficult year. Mt St Helens blew when he had the first surgery and a year later he was gone. But he is never forgotten. In memory of Bruce, feel free to share any stories you would like to add here to this mini biography.

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Biography: Thomas “The Immigrant” Follansbee (b 1637).


There is conflicting information in various sources on the life of Thomas Follansbee. My plan for this post is to build a short biography from the various sources with a view to eliminate errors and generate additional information from readers who may be able to fill in some blanks.


taken from

     Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts.  Vol IV published 1908

“(I) Thomas Follansbee, immigrant ancestor, born in Hamsterly, Durham England, about 1640, came to America when a young man and settled at Newbury, Massachusetts, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He married first, before 1672, Mary , and second, Sarah , who died probably November 4, 1683, at Newbury, and he married third, April 4, 1713, at Newbury, Jane Mossman, of Boston. He was of Portsmouth in 1665 and 1671 ; of Newbury in 1677 and later. He was the ancestor of all of this name in America, so far as discovered. He was living as late as 1713 and probably in 1721. Children: 1. Rebecca, born about
1660; married November 22, 1677, Thomas Chase (2). 2. Anne, married, November 10, 1684, Moses Chase; she died before 1713. 3. Mary, born about 1667; married December 1, 1686, Robert Pike; second, about 1691, William Hooke. 4. Thomas, born about 1671 ;mentioned below. 5. Francis, born October 22, 1677. 6. Hannah, born April 10, 1680.

Birth and Parentage A.D. 1637

Thomas Follansbee was born on 20 April 1637 in Durham, England. Many family trees at list his parents as Henry Follansbie and Jane Gibbon. I have yet to find any real confirmation, their names on any documents, or listed by himself. I leave Henry and Jane as possible but unconfirmed for now. They were not listed anywhere until a few years ago when they started popping up on a family tree or two, it appears the family tree sharing on has propagated to many family histories on the internet and not one of them with any documented proof.

First Marriage- A.D. 1659 (22 yrs old)

There is clear proof for Thomas’ first marriage to Mary Bradford on 25OCT1659 in London. London Metropolitan Archives has a photocopy of the marriage entry at St. Andrew, Holbron. Sounce is London Metropolitan Archives, St Andrew Holborn, Register of marriages, 1559 – 1698, P69/AND2/A/002/MS06668, Item 001. It should be commented that some lists have Thomas marrying three times. Mary, Sarah and Jane. I think there are only two marriages. I think Mary is Sarah. There are only two records to be found, one in England in 1659 and one in America in 1713. On his first wife Mary Sarah or Sarah Mary..whichever.. I believe that his two daughters Mary and Sarah are names after their Mother.


Children-Pre America

Rebecca, b. 1661. Jane b. 1665,  Mary, b.1667 during the trip these girls were quite young 6 years old, 2 years old and an infant. I am still investigating at the time, since I do not have an exact date for the birth of Mary, I suppose she could have been born in the U.S. However I am not inclined to think Sarah travelled from England to Newbury Mass. on a 2 – 4 month sea voyage, but who know.


Travel to America A.D. 1667 (30 yrs old)

Recorded in U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s, we have Thomas landing in Newbury Massachusetts in 1667.

Children born in America 1668-1677

I think the new home agreed with Thomas. He was quite busy populating the Follansbee name having four more children possibly five if Mary was born in the U.S. These five minions were Anne, B. 1668,  Hanna, b. 1680, Thomas b. 1674, Francis b. 1677

Barbados A.D. 1679 (42 yrs old)

We do have a record for Thomas Ffollinsby at Barbados recorded in the U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration lists index , 1500’s to 1900’s. There is another record for a Folinsby in Barbados. It is a record of burial for an Alice Folinsby wife of Thomas Folinsby at St. Michaels in Barbados. Both the arrival date and burial dates are 1679.  I wonder if this is a family vacation. There are multiple Folinsbys in Barbados at this time. While Alice is recorded as the wife of Thomas, I think it is his sister. Below is a cut and paste from the online publication of The Original Lists of Persons of Quality; Emigrants, Religious Exiles, Political Rebels, Serving Men sold for a term of years, ; Apprentices, Children Stolen, Maidens Pressed, and others who went fro Great Britain to the American Plantations. 1600-1700.



2nd Marriage A.D. 1713 (76 yrs old)

We have paper showing the intended marriage of Thomas to Jane Mosemore (Moseman).



One Last Voyage A.D. 1726 (89 yrs old)

We reach the end for our Immigrant Fore-Father, Thomas Follansbee. I have not found any records that would indicate why he left England. I take the position that it was for Religious Freedom. It would be a safe assumption that Thomas was a Puritan. The American Colonies during this time (and the two that he lived in) were Puritan through and through. The Puritans were champions for their religious freedom but persecuted those who did not agree with them. Quakers, Jews, Catholics and others were run out, hanged, and not tolerated. For Thomas to live, work, and raise a family in Massachusetts and New Hampshire it would be safe to lean heavily towards viewing him as a (non-separatist) Puritan.

He was a joiner (carpenter) <cite reference> and is recorded as working on a local school and church. Little else is known of him. Photography was experimental for another 100 years and would not be “invented” officially until 1839. I have not found any paintings or carving or any other likeness. As far as we know, Thomas Follansbee is the Patriarch of all American Follansbees. If you have any resources to share, please comment below.

-Joshua E. Follansbee

*This will be updated as I progress in researching and verifying dates, names and locations.


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Folet vs. Foljambe in relation to Follansbee

Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts, Volume 4. New York Lewis Historical Publishing Company 1908 pp. 2134-2136

Summary with comments on agreement or disagreement based on other sources:

Quote: “For the past century has been spelled Foliambe and Fojambe the “s” sound seems to have been added in America” It is doubtless a Norman Family dating back to England to the conquest in 1066.”

Conflict: What keeps me from jumping on the Fuljambe = Follansbee bandwagon is that both names appear simultaneously in England. I am also hesitant because of I am really stuck on attaching the village of Follingsby to Follansbee because of the location in Durham County of our ancestors and the village.  Also, other studies indicate that Follingsby as a name-place was most likely post-conquest while retaining the local Scandinavian flavor “by”. Studies indicate Folet as the first source for Follingsby which fits a boader time period for a French-Norman name than the precise period of 1066.

Another issue with the quote is the author’s phrase “doubtless a Norman..England..1066.” Personally I find it hard to take the absolute assurance without a quote or reference to a source. Here I think we find a historians interpretation from similar sounding names.


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Filed under Biography, Folet, Foljambe, History, Lineage