Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday/Jeremiah & Clarinda Wood Garner

    I've written quite alot about my third great-grandfather Jeremiah Garner lately, so it seemed fitting that since I would be in the neighborhood on my way to the Thousand Islands in northern New York last week, that I visit his grave.  Which is also the grave of my third great-grandmother Clarinda Wood who is buried there with him to my unending amazement.  
    In earlier blogs I've described their relationship and it's demise, along with Grandpa's other wives.  Standing by the grave it occurred to me, Clarinda died nine years before Jeremiah--if you take a look at the inscription on the stone, you will see Jeremiah got top billing along with fancier lettering.  Grandma was consigned to rather nondescript script, labeling her for eternity the wife of the man who deserted her and his family.  It's a pretty good bet that Jeremiah was the one behind this grave marker.  I've often wondered how their children could have possibly come up with such a tombstone, but now I think it's likely Jeremiah himself commissioned it.  
    Perhaps he was in ill health when he finally returned from his long absence and for reasons best known to himself wanted to be buried next to the woman he had wronged so many years earlier.  All evidence points to his return being five years after her death.  I wonder, was he aware she had died?  Was it a shock when he returned and found she was gone?  Was this stone a form of atonement or the final act of arrogance?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Almost Wordless Wednesday/Clifton Springs, NY Sanitarium

Edward James O'Hora 1868-1920
The Sanitarium as it looked at the time my great-great-grandfather Edward O'Hora was a patient, attempting to cure the rheumatism that would eventually lead to his death.  People came from all over the country to avail themselves of the sulpher water that flowed near the sanitarium.  The "San" still stands today though without it's copper domes, and is housing for senior citizens. Below is a photo of the veranda overlooking Main Street, visible in the top photo.  Perhaps Grandfather sat there while he was a patient?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Much Married 3rd Great-Grandpa Garner's Second "Wife"

     Today's blog is a sequel to one I wrote two weeks ago titled, Grandpa The Bigamist  (If you have time, please skim that first piece, this one will make much more sense if you do.)  In that blog I speculated that when Grandpa Jeremiah was married in Canada in 1868, his second bride, Betsey Grandy, was his neighbor from New York.  She being the Betsey Grandy whose child was buried in the same cemetery as the Garner family.  Betsey lived with her husband John Grandy in Sterling, New York right next door to Grandpa's town of Wolcott. 

     To find proof of that, I used cemetery indexes, a single sentence from a website I was unable to access, and Ancestry's public family trees.  Not that I would blindly accept anything I found in a family tree unless I could see the sources.  I also used Cyndi's list to locate Canadian marriage records; websites Ancestry and Family Search have some, but they didn't give the bride's maiden name which was what I needed since along the way I had discovered Betsey in Sterling was a Chase before she was a Grandy.  I did in fact find the record of the Canadian marriage with the bride's name and it was Chase, convincing me that my theory was correct, but still ... I wasn't quite satisfied.

     Now however, after more searching, I'm ready to say I have proved Betsey's identity, even to myself.  This is the icing on the cake, the piece de resistance-- the nail in the coffin?  I'm convinced Grandpa Jeremiah and Betsey Chase Grandy did run away together and ended up in Canada.  Below you will see Betsey's (Elizabeth) death record from Canada:

     Note Elizabeth's birthplace, Sterling, Cayuga, NY!  I've since found Jeremiah in many city directories in Canada, listed as an innkeeper as in the record above, and he was Methodist and lived in Hastings.  Everything fits.  Except the "L" Garner which should be J. Garner, but I have no doubt it's a mistake by clerk J. Ryan.

     It appears Jeremiah returned to New York around 1891.  He died there in 1894, quite likely at the home of his daughter Frances in Red Creek, NY--still in the same neighborhood as Wolcott and Sterling.  Why did he come home to stay after all those long years?  The 1891 census of Canada shows his third "wife" Angeline living with her son, and though she says she is a married woman, Jeremiah is not with her.  Did she toss him out?  Was he becoming reflective and feeling a bit guilty as he grew older and looked back over his life, longing to see his family?  That part I'll probably never know, but at least I'm ready to say about the early years in Canada, "that's how it happened".

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Lucy Garner The Suffragette?


      Colonial American women had little or no voice in affairs outside the home, and very little even within it. Upon marriage, women became non-entities; they could not sign contracts, acquire property, or control any monies they might inherit or earn.  No woman could enter the professions, or college.  Even back then however, there were a few exceptions.  In 1756 Lydia Chapman Taft cast her ballot in Massachusetts, and New Jersey women of property were able to vote during that era due to a loophole in the state's election laws.  Unfortunately, after the declaration of independence from England American states began writing laws that specifically excluded women from the franchise.  In New York women lost the right to vote in 1777.  How paradoxical that a nation formed upon the premise of equality chose to deny the rights of almost half it's citizens.

     I would imagine that like myself, many of you who are pursuing your family's history have learned a bit about history in general during the process.  I was surprised to read about Lydia Taft and her Massachusetts vote, and I had formerly believed that the women's suffrage movement really didn't begin until after the Civil War; how wrong I was.  In the decades after the revolution women embraced it's concepts of, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".  Though few in number in those early years, social issues such as the temperance and abolitionist movements began to draw women into the public sphere.  It was only a matter of time before they realized their own freedom was also a goal worth fighting for.

     Still, the last thing I expected to find was a female ancestor of mine, living in an early 19th century farming community, being mentioned in election returns. Yet last evening, while checking the New York State Historic Newspapers site for the surname "Garner", I found the article below.  Most of the search results were for the verbs "garner" or "garnered", but this one article, dated 1831, was quite different.  In fact I read it twice just to be sure I was interpreting it correctly.  In November of that year, Lucy Garner received one vote for the office of county coroner!  In 1831!  In Cayuga County, New York!

Lucy's name by the red X

     I have no real explanation for this, but it's mentioned twice in the article--it's no typo.  Did Lucy really run for office? Was this someone's idea of a joke?  My husband's comment was, "she voted for herself".  Well, no she didn't--women could not vote in 1831.  Further research on early election laws revealed Lucy was likely what today would be termed a write in candidate, assuming she was in fact a candidate at all.  In the early part of the century, there really was no formal ballot; voters simply wrote the name of their favored candidate on a slip of paper and placed it in the box.  This mode of voting was followed by the use of pre-printed ballots distributed by the various political parties.  Each had their own color and was deposited in the box in full view of one's neighbors, not much privacy there.  It would not be until the end of the century (19th) that the secret ballot came to be the norm in the United States.

     I would dearly love to know who it was who voted for Lucy, and what their motivation was, but all my attempts to find more information about this have proven fruitless.  I don't know that she actually wanted the position of coroner, or that she actively solicited votes.  She certainly could not have expected to prevail.  Thirty five years later in 1866, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a close associate of Susan B. Anthony, would run for a seat in congress to highlight the absurdity of a woman's legal ability to run for office, while at the same time being ineligible to vote.  Maybe Lucy Garner did the same?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Birthday, Or--The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From The Tree

     I had a birthday a short time ago, and I want to share this amazing gift from my son.  I can always count on a unique and usually Irish themed gift from Christy.  Over the years he has given me a lovely bodhoran, hand crafted and signed by political prisoners, a year's subscription to An Phoblacht, and an Easter Lily badge to name a few.

     When I opened this present I wasn't quite sure what I was looking at, the cover with it's psychedelic colors and design could easily grace any 60's counter culture tome. As soon as I saw the Gaelic word "Saorstat" though, I knew exactly what it was, another wonderful Irish gift from my youngest child-- the Official Handbook of the Irish Free State.  This photo really doesn't do justice to the vibrancy of the poly-chrome colors, and there is more on the back; inside are wonderful woodblock engravings by Irish painter Harry Kernoff and etchings by Irish painters Sean O'Sullivan, Paul Henry and others.

     This unabashedly Irish book published by an Irish publishing house, on Irish paper, with illustrations by Irish artists, was published in 1932 and edited by Bulmer Hobson who wrote the introduction:
   The treaty of 1921 and the establishment of Saorstat Eireann marked the opening of a new epoch.  For the first time since the middle ages the needs and wishes of the Irish people now shape the policy of an Irish government.  We in our day have seen what generations of our people hoped in vain to see--the victorious outcome of the struggle for national independence... and the longest and most evil chapter in Irish history has been closed. 

     It's thirty three chapters on diverse topics such as the importance of the Irish language, music, folklore, history, the constitution and land ownership were written by some of the top scholars of the time.  Chapter fourteen is devoted to the economic challenges facing "the Gaeltecacht", the Irish speaking district in the west.  There are150 pages of ads in the back section and they offer an intriguing look at 1930's Ireland.  If you can find a copy in a library or antique book store, I think you'll enjoy thumbing through it.