Saturday, August 29, 2015

Grandpa The Bigamist


     Almost two years ago, I wrote a blog about my 3rd great grandfather entitled, Jeremiah Garner, Misbegotten or Misunderstood?  Back then I was looking for, among other things, the birthplace of Jeremiah's father Thomas, which I'm pleased to say I've found!  He was born at Tisbury Massachusetts on Martha's Vineyard the 17th day of November in 1773.  His father Thomas Sr. and mother Ann Williams were married on the island in 1768 according to the "Vital Records of Tisbury", now online.  I discovered the location to search for those events in Thomas Jr.'s War of 1812 pension application on Fold3.  Happily, since I don't have a subscription to that site, those particular records are FREE.

     As for the blog's title question, I'm now ready to weigh in-- definitely misbegotten.  Figuring out Jeremiah's life has been a long road with many twists.  In 1840 he was in Wolcott, New York with his young but growing family; having married my 3rd great grandmother Clarinda Wood, a native of Cayuga County, New York, five years earlier. The census of 1850 finds the couple still in Wolcott, now with six children.  By 1860 however, their marriage is over.  We find Clarinda living apart from Jeremiah though he is still in the vicinity, living at the farm home of his employer.

     At some point between 1860 and 1868 Jeremiah decamps for Canada.  I thought that an odd thing for a father of six to do.  A cousin suggested he may have worked for a time on a ship going back and forth on Lake Ontario between the US and Canada which could well be the case; the part of Wolcott where the Garners resided is right on the lake and the port of Fair Haven is close by.  But I've found another reason Jeremiah may have been anxious to leave his old neighborhood behind, and her name was Betsey.  Looking at Canadian records on Family Search, I found not one, but two marriages for Jeremiah in the Provence of Ontario.  One to Angeline Peck in 1871 and also an earlier one, in 1868, to Betsey "Gandy".  As I noted in the first blog, in an alphabetized index for VanFleet Cemetery in Wolcott, below the entry for Grandma Clarinda's burial in 1886 is this entry--
GRANDY, Willie  son of M. & Betsey  d. Dec. 29, 1853    ae   1y  5m  4d.

    I ended that blog with the question, "Betsey Grandy, could it be?"  Well, yes it could.  After much digging over the past few days, I found that the father of the infant buried in the same cemetery as the Garner clan was not "M. Grandy", but rather John M. Grandy.  I searched and searched for a marriage record for John and Betsey to determine her maiden name, but was unable to locate one.  Then I tried a Google search for-- "John Grandy" Betsey.  Among the 948 results was one from myHeritage with this in the description, "John Grandy, Grondy, married Betsey Chase".  I was unable to see more since I don't have a subscription to that site either, (unfortunately we're on a budget here at EA headquarters), but it was certainly worth checking out.

     Not having even a location to begin looking for the Grandy/Chase nuptials, I turned to Ancestry, where I do have a subscription, and began searching public member trees for Betsey Chase born around 1826 according to the 1850 census, (which showed Betsey and John Grandy living in the town of Sterling, NY, right next to Wolcott).  I found three likely trees that all claimed Betsey died in 1870.  No mention of any marriages for her or a place of death, or any sources--just a death date.  Then I looked at her parent's information, Stephen and Abigail.  Stephen passed away in 1864 in WOLCOTT!  This could be her!  Same locale and her death in 1870 would have left Jeremiah free to marry Angeline in 1871, not that Jeremiah worried about things like living spouses when he felt the urge to get married. Now if I could just find a record of Jeremiah and Betsey's wedding with her maiden name instead of her first husband's surname.  Was Betsey Grandy really the former Betsey Chase of Wolcott?

     I searched for hours trying to find that marriage record.  Finally I looked at Cyndi's List where I found a site called, "Ontario and Upper Canada Genealogy and History"  This is a self described "bare bones" index site, if you want more you need to send them $25.  But the index was enough, there it was in big bold letters, GARNER JEREMIAH.. CHASE BETSEY..  ONTARIO MARRIAGE REGISTRATION.  Almost as exciting as winning the lottery, but not quite, then I'd have subscriptions to everything.  The thought keeps running through my mind, if I hadn't looked at the cemetery index and just happened to read the entry under the Garner's and then remembered that Canadian marriage to Betsey "Gandy" I probably would have thought Betsey was just someone Jeremiah met in Canada. I've said it before, and I'm saying it again, I love it when things come together.  And when my short term memory functions.

    I now feel confident in saying Jeremiah was not a great guy.  He left his large family, took his paramour to Canada where he committed bigamy by marrying her, (and maybe so did she), and after her death he committed bigamy a second time by marrying Angeline.  And the wives kept getting younger too, Betsey was ten years younger than Jeremiah, and Angeline was sixteen years his junior.  The only part I still don't understand is why his son would name a child after him, and why he's buried next to Clarinda in Wolcott? 


  1. Maybe they reconciled before Clarinda's death!

  2. Maybe they did, in the 1891 Canadian census Jeremiah's 3rd wife Angeline is living with her son from her 1st marriage, and Jeremiah is nowhere in sight. The US 1890 census was destroyed, and I can't find him in the New York census of 1892. That Jeremiah is hard to pin down...