Harborcreek. A small town in Erie County Pennsylvania just south of it's border with New York State and mentioned briefly in my great-grandfather Edward O'Hora's obituary as his brother Daniel's residence in 1920. I had no idea Harborcreek would be the key to Daniel's story. Daniel, born in Owasco, New York in 1865, was the black sheep of my branch of the O'Hora family; he came and went, sold liquor without a license, seems to have had a common law wife, and was disowned by my grandmother's generation.
Daniel's obituary noted he had worked for the New York Central Railroad as a bridge builder which would have necessitated frequent travel so finding him in censuses was a challenge at times. One I did find him in was 1900, living in Rochester, NY...with a wife? Her name was Hattie and Daniel said they'd been married five years. But that wasn't possible, four years earlier he had been living with his parents as a single man. Hattie had four children with the surname of Sabin so she clearly had been married before at some point.
Recently, I took a close look at Hattie and began gathering facts about her life. She was born Hattie Taylor in Savannah, NY in 1864. I found her marriage to her first husband Edwin Sabin in 1886 and confirmed the names of their four children, I also found a news article reporting Edwin Sabin's abandonment of Hattie and their children. Over the years Daniel and Hattie lived together at times, and at other times apart. When they cohabited she used his surname and when they weren't together she used Edwin's. In 1917 she up and married a man I'd never heard of before, Albert Kent, claiming in the application it would be her second marriage. She signed the document, Hattie Sabin. That, and the fact no record of her marriage to Daniel exists, leads me to believe theirs was common law. I don't know what became of Albert Kent, but he was soon out of the picture.
I can't locate Hattie or Daniel in 1920. I have a hunch they were together and most likely in Harborcreek just as Grandpa Edward's obituary indicated Daniel was. Several pages in the 1920 census for that place are completely faded away. It would certainly explain why both of them are among the missing that year. While Daniel's career caused him to be omitted from several censuses, I've found Hattie in all of them, except the 1920.
From 1925 til Hattie's death in 1937 she and Daniel lived together in Hattie's hometown of Savannah, NY as man and wife with Hattie again assuming Daniel's surname. Also in their household during those years was a young girl named Reva Geibel identified as Hattie's granddaughter, born in Pennsylvania. After some searching I found Reva's details, she was the child of Hattie's youngest daughter Bessie Sabin and she was born in Harborcreek in 1919. Was that a coincidence? I don't think so, I think they were probably all there in 1919. But what was the attraction to Harborcreek? That question inspired me to do some digging into the New York Central RR. I found that the NYCRR had a station in Harborcreek and that Harborcreek was right on the railroad line that ran south from Buffalo, NY -- the city Hattie "Sabin" was living in sans Daniel in 1905 and 1910. This was no coincidence. It was beginning to look like Daniel was the connection between Hattie and Harborcreek.
I now believe Hattie and Daniel got together shortly after she parted with Edwin Sabin. As Daniel's job took him to the western part of New York State, (directly above Harborcreek PA), Hattie and her kids went with him. Once in Buffalo there was a falling out, with Hattie reverting to the surname Sabin and Daniel going on his way. After Hattie's brief marriage to Albert, she and Daniel reunited and moved to Harborcreek where his work probably took him and eventually back to Hattie's hometown of Savannah. I think Daniel and Hattie must have had genuine feelings for each other, even if their marriage wasn't exactly everyone's idea of real. After all, they were together off and on for nearly forty years, longer than many legal unions.