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No Ghoulies, No Ghosties, But a Witch? Yep. Part 1

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series No Ghoulies, No Ghosties, But a Witch? Yep.
Painting that many attribute as Mary Bliss Parsons, but it is not. No known images exist of her. Unknown source.
Painting that many attribute as Mary Bliss Parsons, but it is not. No known images exist of her. Unknown source.

McMurray Family, Burnell Family (Click for Family Tree)

Well, sort of.

Ghoulies and ghosties are fun Halloween fantasies, and witches would be too if there had not been real women- and some men too- who were accused of witchcraft in the very early years of our country, and around the world through the centuries. Some would be convicted and executed, as in the Salem, Massachusetts witch trials of 1691-2. However, the Salem hysteria was predated by even earlier accusations and trials in Britain’s American colonies- and in places where our ancestors lived.

In fact, if you are a McMurray or Burnell,

one of our ancestors was accused, and tried, as a witch.

Really.

(Did Grandma tell this family story?? Likely, she did not even know of it.)

And to make the story even better, apparently another family line was quite involved, but not in a good way. (New England was a small place in the 1600s.)

Mary Bliss was born in England about 1628, a time when witches and Satan populated the world in Puritan minds, and those of other religious persuasions as well. Surprisingly to us today, educated and literate people felt these entities were very real, and just waiting to harm them or their crops, livestock, homes, property, and family; for illiterate people, the fantastical was even more acceptable. Just imagine the darkness of New England in the winter, being in a small home with little light from handmade candles and the fireplace, possibly a woman alone with many children to protect while her husband was out hunting for days or traveling for trade. Add the damp cold and mist, the forest nearby with animals howling and prowling, plus Native Americans rustling about, and a Halloween setting was in place- but this occurred every day of the colonists’ lives. Fear of the physical and the spiritual reigned.

Mary Bliss’ family migrated from Olde England to New England when she was about eight. She married Joseph Parsons in Hartford, Connecticut, and then they moved to Springfield for several years and had a few children. As Northampton, Massachusetts began to be settled in 1654, Joseph and Mary Bliss Parsons moved their household out into the wilderness. Joseph was quite successful in both towns, and they had one of the nicer homes and better furniture than many of their neighbors. They eventually had eleven children who survived into adulthood- thus were more successful in myriad ways as compared to many of their neighbors.

Mary Bliss Parsons was apparently something of a contentious person- not unusual for the times in men, but as a woman, her haughty and strong mannerisms and ways of dealing with people caused problems, and engendered gossip. The family’s constant rise economically, socially, and politically made Mary the envy of some of her neighbors, and enemies to others. Joseph apparently was contentious as well, and very litigious- both traits common in successful businessmen, then as now.

One of their Northampton neighbors, Sarah (Lyman) Bridgman, accused Mary of causing the death of her two-week old son through the use of witchcraft. Sarah and her husband James Bridgman had followed a similar life-path as the Parsons had with their migrations, including being born in England, then migrating to Springfield, Massachusetts, and moving to Northampton, but after the Parsons family had moved there. James had not done as well as Joseph, however, and Sarah’s children frequently died young.

A feud seemed to have developed between the families, especially after an earlier incident in Springfield in which the Bridgman’s older son had been tending their cows in the swamp, when he received a ‘great blow to the head.’ He stumbled and injured his knee. The knee had been set but was painful and did not heal properly. One day the child screamed that Mary Parsons was pulling his leg off. He said he saw her on the shelf on the wall, and then she disappeared, with a black mouse following her. This could only be caused by supernatural evil, they thought, and Sarah spread malicious gossip about Mary around Springfield in those years. Once the Bridgmans moved to Northampton, the gossip continued, and escalated. Sarah Bridgman (and others) definitely claimed that Mary Parsons was a witch. Many felt that Mary’s witchcraft was how the family did so well for themselves.

To stop the rumors, Mary’s husband Joseph Parsons filed a lawsuit against Sarah Bridgman citing slander. (Women, of course, could not file a lawsuit at that time- their husband had to do any legal work needed.) Joseph and Mary were taking a risky path with the lawsuit, as it might draw greater than normal attention by the authorities if they felt the rumors were true, and Mary could end up having to defend herself from the accusation of witchcraft.

The court was held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as the higher Magistrate’s Court was required to hear such serious accusations concerning witchcraft. Thirty-three depositions were taken from friends, family, and neighbors in October of 1656, with families from both Northampton and Springfield testifying. Sarah Bridgman told her story that in May two years earlier, as she was with her newborn in her home,

“having my child in my lap, there was something that gave a great blow on the door, and at very instant as I apprehended my child changed: and I thought with myself and told my girl I was afraid my child would die.’

Sarah claimed she saw “two women pass by the door with white clothes on their heads,” but her girl had seen no one. Sarah then knew her son would die soon because there was “wickedness in the place.” Her son was dead in just two weeks.

Others stated that the rumors were ‘truth,’ not slander, and returned to past ill words and unpleasant interactions with Mary. One neighbor related that Mary complained to her that the yarn she had spun for Mary had knots, as did the second batch she sent to replace it; the spinner related that other persons did not have the same problem with the yarn she had spun for them, so Mary’s witchcraft had likely caused the knots. Mary had asked this same neighbor to let their daughter work for her, but the rumors of witchcraft had already taken hold, and they refused; the daughter became ill shortly thereafter- again, the neighbor testified, evidence of witchcraft as retaliation. After an argument with Mary about missing yarn, the husband of the spinner found his cow “ready to die” and it did, within two weeks- of course that too would have been caused by Mary’s witchcraft, as revenge for the “discontented words passed” between them. “Hard thoughts and jealousies” abounded concerning Mary Parsons (with ‘jealousies’ at that time meaning accusations, not envy).

Incidents in Springfield from years before were also brought before the court, such as Mary in a ‘fit’ moving through water but not getting wet, Mary walking about at night, sometimes with an unknown woman (thought to be a spirit), or Mary being able to find the key her husband hid from her when he locked her in their house or cellar. (He also beat her in front of others, and their child. They had a stormy relationship.)

Other witnesses, more favorable to Mary, testified that Sarah Bridgman’s baby had been sickly since birth and that the cow died of “water in the belly” rather than some unnatural cause.

Numerous witnesses then recanted their testimony, stating that they had been induced by the Bridgmans to lie or that whatever incident they had related may have had natural causes. Mary was not above reproach in such evidence tampering matters either- she and her husband had influential friends who tried to suppress or alter testimony.

As proving Sarah’s slander was actually the point of the lawsuit, Mary’s mother, Margaret (Hullins) Bliss told the court that she had been told by Sarah Bridgman that “her daughter Parsons was suspected to be a witch.”

Thirty-seven persons in two communities were involved in the trial, with 15 families who lived in Northampton, and 7 from Springfield. It had taken an entire summer to gather all the evidence- it was quite a big event in the two little frontier towns on the edge of wilderness.

That fall the court ruled that Sarah Bridgman had indeed committed slander. Repentance was important to a Puritan community, and Sarah Bridgman was given the choice of a public apology to be done in both Northampton and Springfield, or pay a fine that they really could not afford. The Bridgmans decided to pay the fine instead of backing down, probably to avoid the humiliation.

The trial was over, but suspicions and the troubles of Mary Parsons were not.

 

To be continued…

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. We have the ‘Lyman’ and ‘Bartlett’ accuser’s surnames in the family as well, but this author is just beginning to research those relationships.
  2. There is quite a lot of information online about Mary Bliss Parsons- with 11 children surviving to adulthood, she has a LOT of descendants. Not all is fully accurate,  so reading more scholarly journals and genealogical and other books concerning Mary will be the best sources. Following are just a few of the very many sources consulted for this blog post and those upcoming about Mary.
  3. A Place Called Paradise. Culture and Community in Northampton, Massachusetts 1654-2004. Edited by Kerry W. Buckley, Historic Northampton Museum & Education Center/ University of Massachusetts Press. Chapter 3 is “Hard Thoughts and Jealousies” by John Putnam Demos, from his excellent, very comprehensive book Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England, New York, 1982.
  4. The History of Northampton, Massachusetts from its settlement in 1654,

    by Trumbull, James Russell, (1825-1899); Pomeroy, Seth, (1706-1777), 1898. (Seth Pomeroy is a very distant cousin too.)  Available on Internet Archive- https://archive.org/stream/historyofnortham00trum#page/n11/mode/2up

  5. Cornet Joseph Parsons one of the founders of Springfield and Northampton, Massachusetts, by Henry M. Burt, Garden City, 1898.     –https://archive.org/stream/cornetjosephpar00parsgoog#page/n10/mode/2up
  6. Parsons Family. Descendants of Cornet Joseph Parsons Springfield 1636- Northampton 1655, by Henry Parsons, New Haven, 1912.

(Journals will be added with Part 2.)

 

 

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Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
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Friday Funny or Friday Fright? Medicine in 1857

1857 Medical Electrician advertisement, appendix- no page, in Smiths Brooklyn Directory for yr ending May 1 1857, via InternetArchive. (Click to enlarge.)
1857 Medical Electrician advertisement, appendix- no page, in “Smiths Brooklyn Directory for year ending May 1 1857,” via InternetArchive. (Click to enlarge.)

Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

I hate today’s cooky cutter medical care and insurance desk jockeys telling a doctor what they can prescribe, operate on, etc., but we really have it good today despite all that. So many terrible diseases have been eradicated (though some are coming back, distressingly) and with all the wonderful tests and medications available, especially antibiotics, our lives and longer and more comfortable than those of our ancestors.

The above ad was found in an 1857 Brooklyn, New York City Directory, when I was searching for our Springsteen family. They were not there, as expected, since they had moved to Indianapolis about 1853, but there were interesting ads that I have been sharing. I don’t know if this therapy was available when they were in Brooklyn, or if it was available in Indianapolis, but I hope they did not partake of this cure!

A few notes to help understand the ad:

N. B. stands for “nota bene,” Latin for ‘note well.’ It was used to point out very important aspects. (Still used today in some circles. The medieval form was a hand with finger pointing, and we have that today in emojis!)

Electricity in various forms was a new ‘toy’ in 1857 and they weren’t sure how to use it. Many a diabolical-liking apparatus was used to shock people into sanity, reduce ‘nervous’ diseases, etc.

“Sulfur baths” at “Sulfur Springs” were used to cure diseases for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years. Having an “Electro-Medicated and Sulfur Vapor Bath” (were they combined, or two separate treatments?) available prevented sick persons from having to travel, often far, to partake of the natural cure.

“Dropsy” is a swelling we call ‘edema’ today, especially that caused by congestive heart failure. A big shock to the heart could definitely make it beat differently.

1857 Medications for sale, page 241, in Smiths Brooklyn Directory for yr ending May 1 1857, via InternetArchive. (Click to enlarge.)
1857 Medications for sale, page 241, in “Smiths Brooklyn Directory for year ending May 1 1857,” via InternetArchive. (Click to enlarge.)

If one was afraid of the Medical Electrician, one could always go to the local druggist or apothecary to get something to cure whatever ailment was a problem. Drugs, of course, were made from plant extracts (before Big Pharma), and pharmacy textbooks even into the 1950s taught how to gather and process plants to make effective medicines, and compounding them was a part of a druggist’s training. Homeopathic medicines today still use some remedies such as these- cloves in a toothache medicine is one example- but thankfully our drug ads cannot guarantee a complete cure as these did in 1857.

 

Can you imagine what Jeff and Ann Connor Springsteen would think of our tv ads for Cialis today??

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. See citations with images.

 

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We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
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Sorting Saturday: Pomeroy Family Trees Added

Family tree of Cynthia Maria Pomeroy (1823-1862). Click to enlarge.
Family tree of Cynthia Maria Pomeroy (1823-1862). Click to enlarge.

McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)

Since we have been climbing the family tree of Cynthia Maria Pomeroy, the grandmother of Lynette Payne McMurray, we have added to the trees on the McMurray-Payne-Horn Family Page.

Here is C. Maria Pomeroy’s family tree is above; her great grandfather’s tree is below.

Family tree of Josiah Pomeroy (1703-1789). Click to enlarge.
Family tree of Josiah Pomeroy (1703-1789). Click to enlarge.

Unfortunately we lost easy access to those pages with drop-down menus when WordPress upgraded and we had to change themes to be compatible. One of these days I will get that fixed/figured out, but for now, I am deep in the 17th and 18th centuries in New England, trying to sort out so many families that intermarried over the years.

You can always use the search box to find specific ancestors in any post in which they have been mentioned on the blog. The categories list on the left side of the page will also take you to posts that include those families.

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Updates that break functionality and don’t really make things better are the bane of technological life.

 

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We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 
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Who was Marietta Pomeroy?, continued

Marietta Clark, death record for Sept. 11, 1882, Massachusetts Death Records- Williamsburg, page 36, in Massachusetts Town and Vital records 1620-1988, Ancestry.com, part 1.
Marietta Clark, death record for Sept. 11, 1882, Massachusetts Death Records- Williamsburg, page 36, in Massachusetts Town and Vital records 1620-1988, Ancestry.com, part 1.

McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)

Our original quest was for proof that Marietta Pomeroy was the daughter of William Pomeroy and Rachel Edwards, as noted in many online trees. Marietta was not listed with their other daughters in the Williamsburg Town Records (see previous Sibling Saturday: Cynthia Maria Pomeroy and Her Sisters) and there are no attached sources for the information in the online trees except other family trees. Local histories do not list her as a daughter.

Late night research helped us learn about the life of a Marietta Clark. (See Mystery Monday: Who is Marietta Pomeroy?)

An actual contemporaneous birth record for a Marietta Pomeroy has not been found yet, despite all sorts of tricky keyword searching, including just her first name. She doesn’t turn up in a search of the Williamsburg records for a birth in 1805, +/- 5 years.

With William and Rachel Pomeroy being born in 1785, there are no censuses that actually list their children- just the number of persons in the household. The 1810 US Federal Census for 1810 does list one white female under 10 living in the family- this could be Marietta. That same census, however, lists 1 white male under 10, 2 white males ages 16-25, and 2 white females ages 16-25. Both Rachel and William would have been about 25, but we don’t know who the other two 16-25 year old persons would have been. Who were the two children in the household, since the first documented Pomeroy daughter was born in 1811? Possibly a son who died young but was not listed in birth records? Or a ‘bound out’ child who helped with farming, etc.? The young female could also have been a first-born daughter, possibly Marietta, or a bound out child.

Marietta’s death record states that she passed away on 11 September 1882 of ‘Disease of the Heart’ and was 77 years and 1 month old at her death. That would make her born in August of 1805.

That birthdate does not fill well because:

  1. Her ‘parents’ married 25 Jan 1809 after filing an intention to marry on 10 Dec 1808. If there had been an ‘early’ pregnancy, or they already had a daughter who was 4, they might not have waited over two weeks to marry after an intention was filed. (A check of Massachusetts marriage laws might be helpful- were they required to wait 2 weeks after the intention filed, no matter what? But if their daughter was already 4, there might not be a sudden rush to marry. Their first documented daughter was born in 1811.)
  2. In 1805, William and Rachel were both just 20, and couples generally did not marry back then until they were 23-25 or so, though earlier could have happened.
  3. Marietta is listed in many sources as being born in Williamsburg, but as previously discussed, there has not been a record found for her birth in Williamsburg. The list of children born to the Pomeroys does not include her. (The handwriting does look the same on each daughter entry so it may have been a transcription from original record books. Possibly Marietta was missed in the copy?)
  4. If Marietta was born in 1805, her next (known) sibling was born in 1811- a big gap for back then. The next daughter came in 1813, then another in 1816. There was then a gap for 7 years, with C. Maria born in 1823. Rachel was about 38 when C. Maria was born, so maybe she was one of those ‘surprise’ babies, but many women of the time were still bearing children into their early 40s. A stillborn child was born to Rachel and William in 1826, when Rachel was 41.
  5. It is possible that Marietta was born from a first wife of William’s, but nothing has been found to indicate that he was married prior to Rachel, and his age at a previous marriage would not align well with custom. (But it is possible.)
  6. Marietta is likely not a child of a first marriage for Rachel, as their marriage record indicates she is “Miss” Rachel Edwards, and no records of a first marriage for her have been found.

The marriage intention for Marietta Pomeroy and Franklin Clarke lists her name as “Miss Mariette Pomeroy:

Marriage Intention of Franklin Clarke and Miss Mariette Pomeroy, 21 May 1831.
Marriage Intention of Franklin Clarke and Miss Mariette Pomeroy, 21 May 1831. (Click to enlarge.)

The marriage record, listed as the same date, also uses the Pomeroy maiden name.

Marriage record of Franklin Clarke and Miss Mariette Pomeroy, 21 May 1831.
Marriage record of Franklin Clarke and Miss Mariette Pomeroy, 21 May 1831. (Click to enlarge.)

Marietta’s death record states that her parents were Rachel and William Pomeroy, he born in Williamsburg, she born in Chesterfield. Those birthplaces align with known facts.

Marietta Clark, death record for Sept. 11, 1882, Massachusetts Death Records- Williamsburg, page 36, in Massachusetts Town and Vital records 1620-1988, Ancestry.com, part
Marietta Clark, death record for Sept. 11, 1882, Massachusetts Death Records- Williamsburg, page 36, in Massachusetts Town and Vital records 1620-1988, Ancestry.com, part 2. (The first ‘Williamsburg’ was Marietta’s birthplace.)

 

So what are the possibilities?

— Marietta could have been the daughter of a family member or friend, and taken in by William and Rachel, yet called their daughter throughout her life.

— Marietta could have been missed in the transcription of births, and thus missed in later published genealogies/local histories. This hypothesis does not, however, align with the marriage date of William and Rachel.

— Marietta’s birth year may be wrong, but it was consistent for the 1860, 1865, and 1880 censuses when calculated. (No 1870 entry has been found.) Women do not generally make themselves older on the censuses, especially as they age, but it could happen. The consistency makes one think it was a fairly reliable number.

So, was Marietta Pomeroy a true descendant of William Pomeroy and his wife Rachel Edwards Pomeroy? More research will be needed for proof. It is likely, however, that she was raised as their child, with the evidence found thus far.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Marietta Clark, death record for Sept. 11, 1882, Massachusetts Death Records- Williamsburg, page 36, in Massachusetts Town and Vital records 1620-1988, Ancestry.com
  2. 1810 US Federal Census for William Pomeroy- Year: 1810; Census Place: Williamsburg, Hampshire, Massachusetts; Roll: 19; Page: 272; Image: 00287; Family History Library Film: 0205627
  3. Intention to marry- Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records. Provo, UT: Holbrook Research Institute (Jay and Delene Holbrook).
  4. Marriage record- Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records. Provo, UT: Holbrook Research Institute (Jay and Delene Holbrook).

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 
Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright of our blog material.

Mystery Monday: Who Was Marietta Pomeroy?

Franklin and Marietta Clark in 1880 US Federal Census, Chicopee, Hampden, Massachusetts.
Franklin and Marietta Clark in 1880 US Federal Census, Chicopee, Hampden, Massachusetts. (Click to enlarge.)

McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)

Some online family trees list “Marietta Pomeroy” as a daughter of William and Rachel (Edwards) Pomeroy, with a birth date of 1805 in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, and death 11 September 1882, place unknown. There is no documentation attached to any of these trees for this information except other trees. There are other online trees that do not include her. Marietta is not noted in the town records with the list of all their daughters, (see previous post, Sibling Saturday: Cynthia Maria Pomeroy and Her Sisters), so we need to determine whether or not she is truly related.

It must be noted that there were a LOT of Pomeroys- and Pomroys, Pumerys, etc. in New England during this time period.

If Marietta was a daughter of William and Rachel Pomeroy, it seems her birth would have most likely been recorded sometime in Williamsburg, but such an entry has not been found despite additional searches from 1805 to 1810; the first of the Pomeroy daughters was listed in the record book in 1811. The record book reviewed may have been a transcription from long ago, so possibly research is needed in even earlier town records, with the births alone. Her birth just might not have been recorded, but they did keep very good records in New England towns as early as 1800, so that is less likely, but possible. Then there is that sticky problem of Marietta’s birth supposedly in 1805, but no marriage record for her parents until 1809. Before adding her officially to the family tree, there obviously needs to be more research.

Of course, topics that need research tend to nag at a family historian, so more time on Ancestry.com and Google in the wee hours is generally what comes next, and it did in this case as well. Family trees can be clues- and should always be taken that way, with the information then verified. So Marietta was added to my private Ancestry tree, as that is a great way to get hints about possible records, or to do searches and verify facts. Having the family linked helps to find more records than just doing a search for a person with just a bit of data added. Additionally, the tree is private so people who just click and add to their trees don’t take ‘in progress’ work as facts. Also, a ‘Custom Event’ called ‘Research Notes’ was added and completed to ensure that the information on her page was not considered completely factual and proved.

Looking at censuses, in 1880 (see above image), a Franklin Clark was a boarder in a home along with Marietta Clark, he 77, she 74. They did not have jobs, and the head of household was a clergyman named Samuel Austin, age 53. His wife was Susan, who was 45; a daughter named J. Maude, age 19 and a ‘scholar,’ was living in the household as well. Was Rev. Austin just a kind soul to let the Clarks live with him? Since he was a minister, the likelihood of the Clarks being legally married to each other, or possibly siblings, was high. Sometimes aging parents are listed as boarders; other times, more helpful census takers would list their relationship, such as father-in-law, but that was not noted on this 1880 census.

More research indicated that Franklin Clark and Marietta Pomeroy were, indeed, married. There was an Intention to Marry filed 21 May 1831, and they were also recorded as being married on that date.

Marriage Intention of Franklin Clarke and Miss Mariette Pomeroy, 21 May 1831.
Marriage Intention of Franklin Clarke and Miss Mariette Pomeroy, 21 May 1831. (Click to enlarge.)

One of the best clues, however, came from a Google search. The Congregational Year Book for 1900 included a necrology (a bio written after someone dies) of Samuel John Austin, who married Jennie S. Clark, the “daughter of Franklin and Marietta (Pomeroy) Clark, of Lancaster, Mass.” The Clarks did live in Lancaster, and this information explained the 1880 census household with Samuel Austin- he was the son-in-law of Franklin and Marietta, and he and Jennie took them in as they aged.

A minister’s necrology will state all the places he served, and Samuel’s included being in Chicopee Falls from 5 Dec 1877 until 12 Mar 1884. That location fit perfectly with the 1880 census from Chicopee.

One problem with this assumption was that the name of the Clark’s daughter was Jennie- not Susan as listed in the 1880 census. Perhaps Jennie’s middle initial “S” was for Susan, and she used her middle name? Maybe…

Massachusetts death records for 1862 next appeared in searches and included Jennie Austin, so that told us she could not possibly be the wife in the 1880 census. A closer reading of the necrology was in order. (It was getting late, so I could have missed something.) It stated that after Jennie died on 15 November 1862, Samuel remarried, to Susan Maira Miller, on 8 Dec 1863. Now we knew who the wife was in the 1880 census.

The necrology also stated that Rev. Austin had a daughter with Jennie, and with Susan he had a son who died young. (Neither are named.) A closer reading of the death record for Jennie (remember, it is now the wee hours in this quest) made more information click- the daughter in the household, J. Maude, could not be the daughter of Susan, since she was 19 in the 1880 census, making her born about 1861 or so. Hmmm, that is not that far off from when Jennie died, so back to her death record. She died of disease of the liver- and premature labor was written on the line below.  Jennie S. (Clark) Austin was sadly another victim of the high mortality rate of childbirth, and their daughter would have been born sometime around 15 Nov 1862, when Jennie died.

Perhaps the premature babe was named for her mother, and was Jennie Maude?

The pursuit of the story took hold, and the planned 30 minutes of research had become five plus hours. It was now established that there was a Marietta Pomeroy married to Franklin Clark(e), and they had children together. This was some digression from the original question- was Marietta the daughter of Rachel Edwards and Franklin Clark?- but when information comes to a historian, it must be recorded. Analysis of any data found might provide a small clue within to help answer the original question.

(The original question?- to be continued…)

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. 1880 US Federal Census for Franklin and Marietta Clark, Chicopee, Hampden County, Massachusetts, page 4, E.D. 287, taken 02 June 1880.
  2. Congregational Year Book, 1900, Vol. 22, Page 14, GoogleBooks- https://books.google.com/books?id=2cPSAAAAMAAJ&lpg=PA14&ots=raS_MTCGgd&dq=mariette%20pomeroy%20clark&pg=PA14#v=onepage&q=mariette%20pomeroy%20clark&f=false
  3.  Marriage record of Marietta Pomeroy and Franklin Clarke, Springfield, Massachusetts, in Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, Ancestry.com.

 

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