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Tuesday’s Tip: Context- The 1888 Presidential Election

Leominster, Massachusetts Politics during the 1888 Presidential Election. Fitchburg Sentinel, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, 18 October 1888, page 2, column 3.
Leominster, Massachusetts Politics during the 1888 Presidential Election. “Fitchburg Sentinel,” Fitchburg, Massachusetts, 18 October 1888, page 2, column 3.

McMurray Family, Payne Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Trees)

Tuesday’s Tip:

Look for the context of your ancestor’s life-

from politics to clothing,

from community happenings to the style of their house.

Thankfully most family historians have moved away from being collectors of names and dates, and now want to tell the stories of their ancestors lives. Without detailed daily diaries or bundles of old letters, how do we learn about their lives? Newspapers are a great way to learn what was happening in a community, and an ancestor might be mentioned in a story or obituary. Also, browsing the pages around where one finds an ancestor article can help us to fill in the blanks about the little things in their lives- or even the big things.

Politics can be messy, as we all have experienced these last two years of this what seems to be a never-ending election. (In Great Britain, they only have a certain number of WEEKS they are allowed to campaign- that seems much more sensible.) Elections in our country’s history have been just as bad, maybe even worse than this one, but learning about them will help us to understand our ancestors a bit more.

Edward B.Payne (1847-1923) and his wife, Nanie M. (Burnell) Payne (1847-1898), lived in Leominster, Massachusetts in 1888, the year of this article. Their only child, Lynette Payne (who later married William Elmer McMurray), was about to turn nine years old just eight days after this article was published. Rev. Payne was the pastor of the First Congregational Unitarian Church in Leominster. Further down this newspaper column about Leominster happenings was a report of the Porter-Davis wedding at which he officiated, but a few moments of browsing the paper turned up this nugget of context.

In 1888, the Democratic incumbent President, Grover Cleveland, desired a second term. The Republican nominee was Benjamin Harrison, and US tariffs were the biggest issue of the campaign. Tariffs are a tax on imported goods, paid by the importer, and until the Federal Income Tax began in 1913, tariffs were the main source of federal income- up to 95% of the total at times.

1888 Presidential Election- Tariff Reform poster for Grover Cleveland, via Wikipedia; public domain.
1888 Presidential Election- Tariff Reform poster for Grover Cleveland, via Wikipedia; public domain.

Since high tariffs, paid by foreign manufacturers and importers, provided income to our federal government, they reduced the need for taxes to be paid by our citizens. Sounds good- make the other country pay, right? Well, the bad part  is that U.S. tariffs make the cost of imported goods higher to the consumer in this country- the cost just gets passed through to the buyer, of course.

Tariffs that are high make domestic products more affordable than imports, and thus more desirable. Therefore those in U.S. industries, including factory workers, preferred high tariffs so that their own production had a lower comparative cost, and they could sell more. Our own citizens would be in high demand as workers, too.

Since the country was prospering and there were no wars going on in 1888, tariffs became THE issue. Grover Cleveland was adamant that high U.S. tariffs were hurting the consumer.  He knew that our citizens felt it every time that they bought an imported item, and it hurt their pocketbook. Cleveland thus proposed a large tariff reduction to Congress.

(But then would personal taxes go up? The money has to come from somewhere…)

Harrison, however, felt that high tariffs protected our workers and manufacturers.

Grover Cleveland-Benjamin Harrison presidential (1888) campaign poster about the trade policy of the two candidates. The map supports the work of the Harrison campaign.
Grover Cleveland-Benjamin Harrison presidential (1888) campaign poster about the trade policy of the two candidates. The map supports the work of the Harrison campaign. via Wikipedia, public domain.

Benjamin Harrison was a Republican from Indiana, and he gave speeches from his front porch in Indianapolis- our Springsteen ancestors, such as Jefferson Springsteen and his son Abram Furman Springsteen, may have been a part of those crowds. The Springsteens were Democrats, so may have been part of the hecklers, although they may have had divided loyalties. Their party’s man, President Cleveland, was against military pensions. Since Jeff had at least 2 sons who had served in the Civil War, one of which was Abram, the Springsteens may not have been so happy with Cleveland, either.

Back in Leominster, Massachusetts, where Edward B.Payne and family were living, the factory workers, as expected, were supporting Harrison with his views of keeping tariffs high. It is interesting that the shirt factory ladies were going to “unfurl one of the finest flags in town, bearing the names of Harrison and Morton.” (Morton was the V.P. nominee.) Since women in most states could not legally vote in a Presidential election until 32 years later, it was one small way they could voice their political opinions and help influence the outcome.

Rev. Payne was a Christian Socialist in his later years, and surely, with his devotion to the poor, he exemplified that philosophy even earlier in life. He most likely would have favored a candidate who had the middle and lower classes in mind. (Later in California, he registered as a Socialist; we have found no other documentation of his political leanings.) He worked quite a lot with factory workers though, so he too may have had a difficult time deciding between candidates when he was ready to cast his ballot in the Cleveland-Harrison contest. Although just 41 years old in 1888, he also was a Civil War veteran, thus probably liked the idea of a military pension in his future- after all, preachers really do not make very much income.

In 1888, America still was one of the biggest manufacturers in the world, and the costs for our products were among the lowest in the world. So the tariff issue may not have been of such importance after all, but it was the loudest of the campaign.

Harrison carried Indiana as well as Massachusetts, and received the majority of  electoral votes. Cleveland, however, received the majority of the popular votes. It was a close election, but as one of only four elections when the popular vote did not match the Electoral College vote, the Republican Benjamin Harrison became the next President of the United States.

The context of our ancestor’s lives in 1888 included tariffs; today, ours include trade agreements, which can affect prices and demand in similar ways.

Our ancestors needed to educate themselves well before they voted, just as we need to do today.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1. Image sources per captions.

2. “United States Presidential Election, 1888,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1888

 

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Original content copyright 2013-2016 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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Wedding Wednesday: Eltweed Pomeroy’s 3 Marriages

Record of Eltweed Pomeroy's first marriage to Johana KEECH in Beamister, Dorset, England. Unknown source, likely one of the Pomeroy compiled genealogies.
Record of Eltweed Pomeroy’s first marriage 4 May 1617 to Johana Keech in Beamister, Dorset, England. Unknown source for this church record, likely one of the Pomeroy compiled genealogies.

McMurray FamilyBurnell Family (Click for Family Tree)

Our ancestors married many times, in some cases- it’s not (necessarily) that they had itchy feet, but that their life expectancies were much lower than those of today. It was really challenging for a man, and especially for a woman, to make ends meet and accomplish all the tasks of daily life without a domestic partner. Thus a deceased spouse was generally replaced very quickly, especially if there were young children in the family. There were religious aspects to consider too- many of these early immigrant families were Puritans, as the Pomeroys may have been (more research needed), and their church felt a person should be married to prevent, well, too much sexual tension in the community, shall we say?

Eltweed Pomeroy (sometimes called ‘Eldad,’ as was his son) was one of our English immigrant ancestors. He was the fourth great-grandfather of Cynthia Marie Pomeroy, who married Kingsley Abner Burnell. Cynthia was the mother of Nanie Burnell and grandmother of Lynette Payne McMurray. Cynthia died in 1865 at the age of 39, so Lynette would not have known her; she would have known her grandfather Kingsley, however. Eltweed was the seventh great-grandfather of Dr. Edward A. McMurray, so you can figure your generation from there.

Eltweed was born and lived in Beamister, Dorset, England when he first married. Johana Keech, daughter of “John Kiche,” had been baptized at Beamister 15 May 1586. Eltweed and Johana married on 4 May 1617 and had two children. Their first daughter, Dinah, was born 6 Aug 1617, and some authors have stated she died young, although no death or burial records have been found. (Note that Dinah was born ‘prematurely’- just 3 months after they married if these dates are correct. She may have truly been premature, which may be why she died young.) Daughter Elizabeth was born in Beamister 28 Nov 1619, but sadly her mother Johana died and was buried in Beamister one year later, on 27 Nov 1620. Little Elizabeth died the next year, and was buried there 13 Jul 1621; she was just 1 year, 8 months old at her death.

Eltwidus PUMERY-Johana KEECH marriage record, Dorset History Centre; Dorset Parish Registers, via Ancestry.com.
Eltwidus Pumery-Johana Keech marriage record, Dorset History Centre; Dorset Parish Registers, via Ancestry.com. Probably recopied. (Click to enlarge.)

Latin was used in the church register, translated as:

Marriages

1617

4 May    Eltwidus Pumery & Johana Keech

 

Margery (or Mary) Rockett was Eltweed’s second wife, and they married 7 May 1629, in Crewkerne, Somersetshire, England. Eltweed was identified as being “of Bemister.” Eltweed was 44, Margery just 24 at their marriage.  The family migrated to the American Colonies, sometime between 1632 when their son Eldad was born in England, and about 1634, when son John was born in Windsor, Connecticut. Margery was the mother of the remainder of Eltweed’s children, but she died 5 July 1655 in Windsor.

We will discuss Eltweed’s eight children with Margery Rockett in an upcoming post.

Eltweed Pomeroy's Marriages in Torrey's "New England Marriages before 1700." via Ancestry.com
Eltweed Pomeroy’s Marriages in Torrey’s “New England Marriages before 1700.” via Ancestry.com. (Click to enlarge.)

Eltweed married third Lydia Brown, who was the widow of Thomas Parsons. (Thomas and Lydia had married in 1641, in Connecticut; he died 23 Sep 1661.) Eltweed married the Widow Parsons in Windsor, Connecticut 30 Nov 1660/1. He was 75, she was 47. They did not have any children together.

[Note: Due to the change from Gregorian to Julian calendar, years and months may be off. Dual dating (such as 1640/1) was often used and the abbreviation O.S. for Old Style, N.S. for New Style calendar used. Unfortunately today’s genealogical sources are not that precise, so there may be an adjustment needed for these dates. More research…]

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Pomeroy-Keech marriage: Dorset History Centre; Dorset Parish Registers; Reference: PE/BE:RE1/1. Ancestry.com. Dorset, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Dorset Parish Registers. Dorchester, England: Dorset History Centre.

 

2. Eltwidus Pumery-Johana Keech marriage record, Dorset History Centre; Dorset Parish Registers, via Ancestry.com. Probably recopied.

3. Eltweed Pomeroy’s 3rd Marriage in Torrey’s “New England Marriages before 1700.” via Ancestry.com.

 

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.