Saturday, November 30, 2013

Jeremiah Garner Misbegotten or Misunderstood?

     These Garners are proving tough nuts to crack.  Trying to pin down Jeremiah's birthplace has even been a challenge.  The transcription of the 1850 census of the Town of Wolcott, NY on Ancestry says he was born in Virginia, but a look at the actual image reveals the place was really Vermont.  On the line below below Jeremiah's family is a family named "Wright".  The letter t at the end of "Wright" clearly illustrates how the census taker formed the letter t; the same as at the end of the abbreviation VT after Jeremiah's name.  That is a useful tip if there is confusion about a letter or word in a document, look for a word you do understand and note how the various letters were drawn.

1850 Wolcott, NY

     In this census Jeremiah is living with his wife Clarinda [Wood], and their children.  I can't find him at all in 1860, unless the entry for a "Jersey Garner" in neighboring Sterling, NY is him.  By that time he had separated from his wife Clarinda Wood, so Jersey, working as a farm laborer and living with his employer could be Jeremiah, he is the right age, but this man was born in New York.  Of course there is no guarantee the census taker actually spoke with Jeremiah himself, his employer or employer's wife could have given the information. There should be severe penalties for that in my opinion, it's very inconvenient for future generations of family historians. 

    There are several family trees on Ancestry that claim Jeremiah was variously born in Canada, Vermont or New York.  None of them have sources that prove a place of birth so while they offer clues, they aren't conclusive evidence.  

   Thomas Garner, Jeremiah's father is no easier to trace than his son.  The census of 1810 shows a Thomas Garner in Vermont, the 1820 and 1830 censuses don't seem to list him at all.  The 1840 census shows Thomas in Summerhill, Cayuga County, NY.  The Town of Summerhill did not exist in 1830, it was then part of the Town of Locke, whose census originals are damaged, that may be why I can't find Thomas in 1830.

   I think Thomas' wife was Prudence Lamphere.  A transcribed list of deaths in Summerhill on the Cayuga County website shows "Pruda Garner" died December 10, 1848 at age 89.  I have no information at all on Thomas' father.  It's possible his name was also Jeremiah.  In the town of Locke, which you remember was the "home town" of Summerhill, there lived a Gideon Garner of the same generation as Thomas.  Like Thomas, this Gideon named his firstborn son, born in 1808, Jeremiah.  The surname isn't all that common in early America, in 1800 there were only 100 entries in the whole USA for Garner--mostly in the south and as you can imagine, Jeremiah Garners were even rarer.  Two Jeremiah Garners in the same generation in the same county would seem to indicate a relationship.  I'm thinking Thomas and Gideon Garner may well have been brothers. 

     I don't believe Jeremiah who married Clarinda was born in Canada, later records all agree he was born in the USA, Vermont is a distinct possibility however.  A list of marriages in Huntingdon, Ontario Provence, Canada has this entry--Jeremiah GARNER, 53, tavern keeper, widower, born Vermont, Huntingdon, s/o Thomas & Judy, married Angeline COLLINS, 38, Huntingdon, Mar. 31, 1870 at Huntingdon.

  Sounds promising. I'll admit that when I saw "father Thomas" my heart skipped a beat, but then I saw "mother Judy".  Hmm, so is it really him?  Prudence and Judy are not totally dissimilar, the deceased woman in Summerhill was referred to as "Pruda".  Pruda, Prudy, Judy... I guess it's possible, the marriage list was after all a transcription.  The widower part is interesting too.  Family Search has a record of a marriage in Ontario Canada between Jeremiah Garner and Betsey E. Grandy on March 28, 1868.  He could have become a widower before 1870 when he married Angeline.  If he's not in Canada during the 1870's and 80's I don't know where he could have been, he doesn't appear in any US censuses during that time.  He's not in the New York State 1892 census either.

     Another weird instance in this case-- Clarinda, Jeremiah's first wife, died in 1886 in New York. Jeremiah lived until 1894, and even his death place is disputed, some say Canada, others New York.  What is indisputable is that both he and Clarinda are buried in VanFleet Cemetery in Wolcott, New York.  And get this, her stone says Clarinda wife of Jeremiah!  Or so the transcription says, I need to check for myself in the spring.  Looking at the alphabetized cemetery list, I noticed directly under the Garner entry this tantalizing entry--  GRANDY, Willie  son of M. & Betsey  d. Dec. 29, 1853    ae   1y  5m  4d.

     Betsey Grandy??? Could it be?????


  1. Hi:

    Jeremiah Gardner is definitely in Canada as of both the 1871 and 1881 census.

    He is not in Canada as of the 1891 census.

    C. Collins

  2. I suspected he died here in the USA and not in Canada. Thank you for looking that up and letting me know!