Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Genealogical wow!

When I did my morning email check in my usual bleary-eyed too-early-in-the morning style, I had a very pleasant surprise which woke me up very quickly. A woman (who I don't know!) had seen a letter on eBay that referenced ancestors of mine, and she found my contact information through Rootsweb's WorldConnect project to let me know about it. The letter has already sold (probably for its 1825 postage stuff......)

The couple involved, Samuel Weston and his wife Julia Horton, had lived in Susquehanna County, PA (the mountains in the northeast part of the state, just south of Binghamton NY). I found his mother Mary Cady Weston Tracey Miles's journal in the Susquehanna County Historical Society, which made it sound like Julia's mother had hung herself on a loom. I'd also found a newspaper ad from Samuel in 1825, the basic message of which was 'my wife has left and I don't want to talk about it; anyway, the neighbors know more than I do so ask them if you must know more.' From research at the archives in Danvers, MA, where their son William Low Weston (my couple greats grandfather) ended up, it was clear that Julia had left with the younger 2 of their 3 children, first going to Baltimore with her brother and later living in Tamworth NH before dying in Danvers. (Mobile families are not a modern invention, nor are dysfunctional ones......) At the Danvers Archival Center, I'd also found a letter to William Low Weston from his sister Julia (the other child who had left with their mother Julia; brother Charles stayed with their father in PA), who had gone back to PA in the 1840s, in which she referenced the disruption of the family but gave no details....... Argh!

Side note for search engines: William Low Weston married Louisa Page, and my line eventually married into the Putnam, Learoyd, Restieaux, Kent and Sears families. (Hey, you never know when someone might look........Stranger things have happened. And it is a very good chance that anyone named Learoyd or Restieaux is related to me, probably even traceably........)

I'd looked for Samuel's and Julia's divorce record in PA, NH, and MA (haven't made it to MD yet) but hadn't found it. Samuel stayed in Brooklyn, PA and remarried, so I think it is likely that there was a divorce. His mother did record that he left PA in the late 1830s for western NY, where he 'died in a land of strangers' in 1840.

So the email I got this morning had these excerpts:
"After a journey of six days attended with only one unpleasant incident, I arrived to this place, with my sister & her two children, all in health …”

”When Julia was tortured, insulted, abused by her tyrannical husband, secluded from her relatives, beyond the protecting influence of her brother, she was inexpressibly miserable. Her heart strings had been nearly severed.”

”Had you seen her as I did, with all the agonizing marks of grief & sorrow depicted in her countenance ……… then the smile of transport & the tears of joy & gratitude at the first sight of me ……..”

”He had complete control over her actions; & if she has erred in some things, it was to please him; errors of the head, not of the heart.”

”Cold indifference, neglect, insult, abuse, outrage, relentless cruelty, vile profiligacy, hellish & fiend like villany, have marked the character of him, she mistakingly chose for the object of her devotedness.”

”That vain wretch, her husband, supposed a separation from him would be like a separation of soul from body, and so it would once, that day has long passed and Julia now reckons the commencement of her happiness from the time of her deliverance from the power of a wretch …”

So I guess I know her side of the story now....

(You know what is really scary? I typed all of this, except the quotes from the 1825 letter at eBay, from memory. Why do I have all this rattling around in my head?)

In other news, the new toy (a fancy scanner!) arrived today at work. Unfortunately, I was busy enough with other things that I haven't had a chance to play with it yet :-(

I also got the book The Red Rose Girls (Amazon's used book service is soooo dangerous!), one of whom was the artist I talked about in this post.

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