But Why Sonoma?

We’ve taken Ada Mae’s story up through about 1920, where we find her in Kitsap County, Washington, living with her husband Joseph Edgar Cowan, her step-son Louis, her daughters Reah, Pearl, and Ellen, and her son Walter. She’d lived in Washington since her parents moved there in 1886, and her networks, as far as I knew, were there and in the Midwest.

But what I couldn’t figure out for the longest time was why, in 1928, she died in Sonoma County, California, and was buried there under a simple cement headstone, among strangers.

Ada Mae Scott Cowan Stone

By the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, her family had scattered. Reah and Louis we now know were living in northern Washington. Ellen was living with her aunt Phebe (Ada Mae’s sister) and family in Oregon. Pearl was also married and living elsewhere in Oregon, with her 11-year-old brother Walter in her house. Joseph Edgar had taken off to Alaska, where his son Clyde was living with wife and family, and only Joseph’s son Dallas, also married, remained in Kitsap County. Just looking census to census, it looked like a bomb had gone off in the lives of Ada Mae’s family. But the 10-year gap between censuses can obscure so much.

I had learned to see the Scotts as tribal folk, moving primarily among established family networks. (I’ve always been inclined to credit this to their Scots-Irish origins.) And I could not for the life of me figure out what she was doing in California, since the family had no history there. Finally, a cousin supplied the missing piece — naval yards.

Military families probably would have spotted this a lot sooner, but my family wasn’t, as such, a naval family — at least not until Walter joined up in 1937. But when I realized what I was looking at, it was all there.

  1. The 1910 US Census reports Joseph Edgar Cowan and Clyde Cowan as General Day Laborers, but Louis Cowan is a Navy Yard Teamster, and Dallas Cowan is a General Teamster.
  2. The 1920 US Census reports Joseph Edgar Cowan and Louis Cowan both as Navy Yard Laborers, and it lists Dallas Cowan as an Acetylene Operator at the Navy Yard.
  3. Kitsap County was home to a port and naval shipyard at Bremerton, WA.
  4. On 29 April 1927, Ada Mae’s daughter Pearl (who had married Silas Thomas Clark at some point between 1920 and 1927), gave birth to a son, Boyd Thomas Clark, in Graton, Sonoma County, CA.
  5. On 5 December 1928, Ada Mae’s sister Phebe (who married George Earl McKay in 1909), gave birth to a son, Billy George McKay, also in Graton, Sonoma County, CA.
  6. Sonoma County was then home to the Naval Auxiliary Air Station in Santa Rosa, CA.

As far as I can tell, neither Silas Thomas Clark or George Earl McKay ever served (and the latter appears to have eventually become a Church of Christ minister) but the naval bases seem to have given them a reason to be there, at least for a time. By 1930, both families had returned to the Pacific Northwest.

But in the fall of 1928, Ada Mae’s daughter had a toddler whom she’d likely never met, her sister was about to deliver, and both were in Sonoma County. That’s two families getting by on laborers’ wages, the latter already with six kids, not counting the baby that arrived 10 days after Ada Mae’s death. No one was expecting to have to pay for a burial/funeral, least of all Ada Mae.

When I was growing up, my father used to tell me about how Ada Mae’s children had been itinerant fruit pickers, among other things, during (and even before?) the Depression. But the picture I get is very much that they went where the work took them, keeping family close as best they possibly could. And like most itinerant poor families, they buried their dead when and where they could, even as they knew they’d have to move on. “Asleep in Jesus” — they must have found such comfort in their faith, knowing that, in whatever way, she wasn’t really alone.

Ada Mae’s story is a good reminder how easy it is for ordinary folks to be lost in the flow of history. But it also serves as a reminder for me of why I do what I do. There’s an internet meme that asks respondents to “Explain your job/hobby awkwardly.” My response is usually something like, “I sort through digital representations of stained plant matter and etched rocks until I can let the living claim the dead as their own,” yet there’s more to it than that. I also give the living closure, when I can, about the wounds of their dead. My father always wondered why Ada Mae was in a pauper’s grave so far from home, and now we know — she died caring for those who had to wander. RIP, Ada Mae.


When the People Judge

While I may not know how Laodicea, Ellen, or Ada Mae were judged, I know how Reah was. But to tell more of her story, I have to step all the way back to Laodicea’s.

Laodicea’s second marriage produced three sons, the youngest of whom was Joseph Edgar Cowan, born in 1861. I don’t know when his parents separated, but in the 1870 US Census, he’s in the Mahaska County, Iowa house of J.D. and Polly Emerson, without his parents or his brothers. If his parents were somewhere else, prospecting for gold or otherwise, I can’t find them. His brother Cyrus, then 11, appears in another family’s house in town that year, but I can’t conclusively identify where their brother Millard, who should have been 12 or 13, is.

In 1880, though, according to the US Census that year, Joseph Edgar Cowan is living in central Kansas with his new, teenage wife, May Bickford Guernsey, not terribly far from where his mother was living with her third husband and Joseph Edgar’s three younger half-siblings. Joseph Edgar and May had three sons themselves — Clyde (born 1881), Louis (born 1883), and Dallas (born 1886) — all born in Kansas.

This is one of those times I wish I had the 1890 US Census, because I’d like to know when Joseph Edgar, May, and their three boys moved to Washington Territory. I’m entirely tempted to think they might have been adjacent to the Scott migration that took Jasper and Ellen Scott and their children out west, but it’s hard to say.

What I do know is that in August 1892, May died in Tacoma from septicemia. I’m inclined to think this was a miscarriage, but I don’t actually have the evidence to infer that — it’s just a guess. And I don’t have any records of the family from her death in 1892 until the 1900 US Census.

Joseph Edgar Cowan 1900 Census

Here we see 38-year-old Joseph Edgar Cowan, listed as a widower and a day laborer, heading a household with his three sons (a 19-year-old day laborer, a 16-year-old teamster, and a 13-year-old student), a housekeeper, and a boarder. The housekeeper? Ada Mae Scott, the daughter of his half-sister Ellen — and the boarder? Ada Mae’s fatherless infant daughter, Reah.

Two years later, on 11 August 1902, Joseph Edgar married Ada Mae in Victoria, British Columbia. From then on, Reah used her stepfather’s name, and he claimed her as one of his own, even though he seems not to have formally adopted her.

Family lore vs. documentation gets tricky in that respect. The record above indicates that Reah’s father was born in Iowa — the same place Joseph Edgar Cowan cites as his birthplace. Is it possible he was her father and hiding it? If so, why? His wife had died five or six years before Reah’s birth, and his family had no compunction about intramarriage. Reah was 4 when her mother married Joseph, so why wait? And why list them as Housekeeper and Boarder if they were his second family? No, I’m inclined to say that the evidence at hand backs up the story passed down by her son Stanley — Joseph was not Reah’s biological father.

But in the years that followed, he very much considered himself her father. By the 1910 US Census, she’s listed with his surname rather than her mother’s (as in 1900). And their blended family grew with the births of Pearl Marie in 1906, Ellen Gertrude in 1911, and Walter Edgar in 1918. (Another son, whom his parents named Joseph Wendell, was born in 1913 and died at about a month old. He’s buried under a stone that says, simply, “Baby Cowan.”)

So when, in 1920, Reah and her step-brother Louis ran away, married, and started a family (not clear if that was the order) — it looked to all the rest of the world like something very untoward had happened. In all likelihood, the only blood Reah and Louis shared was Laodicea’s. But the fact that they’d been raised in the same house as siblings understandably made it a little more awkward than all the cousin-marriage, blood notwithstanding. Walter Edgar, their youngest half-brother, who was only a toddler when they ran away to Alaska (told you there was a family tendency to that!), apparently believed the worst, and his part of the family simply didn’t talk about it. Walter’s family never realized that Reah and Louis came back to Washington and settled in the Lummi Island/Bellingham area and happily lived out their lives about 100 miles away from the scandalized family that had, to whatever degree, written them off.

I wonder if Ada Mae knew what had become of her daughter and step-son, because what happened next continues to illustrate the importance of family in her life. I’d like to think she was understanding, but maybe she wasn’t. I don’t know.

Frontier Women

This is the story of Ada Mae Scott. It’s hard to explain her, though, without introducing you first to her grandmother (and mother-in-law), Laodicea Hartman.

Laodicea was born 10 December 1833 in Ohio to Jonathan Hartman and Susannah Russell. In the biblical context, Laodiceans were not the most committed folks to their faith, so it’s an odd name for a child in that respect. But translating from the Greek, it comes out more like “the people’s judgment” or “the people’s justice,” which is also an odd name, since the people’s judgment, in Greek legal systems, didn’t really amount to much. Still, it’s interesting to reflect on as we lay out her life.

Laodicea’s first husband, whom she married 2 July 1849, was Thomas Martin Scott. The Scotts were an interesting bunch — deeply religious, and almost tribal. They moved together in family units among particular nodes around the Midwest, sometimes bouncing back and forth within that network every few years. They also tended to intermarry.

Thomas Martin Scott was born in Indiana in 1824, the fifth child of 14 born to a couple of cousins. He was 25 years old when he married 15-year-old Laodicea in Iowa, where her family had moved from Ohio, and two years later, their daughter Phebe Marie Scott was born. A little over a year later, their second daughter, Nancy Ellender Scott was born. And about three years after that, in the spring of 1855, Thomas died. That made Laodicea a 21-year-old widow with two small children. But she was a survivor, and in 1856 or 1857, she remarried to a widower named Joseph Upton Cowan. They had three sons — Millard Fillmore Cowan (born 1858), Cyrus Presley Cowan (born 1859), and Joseph Edgar Cowan (born 1861).

Then, sometime in the next decade, Laodicea and Joseph Upton Cowan separated. There’s some family lore around prospecting for gold during this time, and this may have been the start of a longer-running Cowan family association with Alaska — but I can’t confirm that. (There’s a Joseph Cowan roughly the right age who marries in Montana in 1886 and dies in 1888, but after he and Laodicea part company, I can’t be sure what happens to him.) But in 1871, Laodicea married again, to Adolphus Herndon. She was now in her late 30s, but they had three children, and it’s not clear to me if some were adopted or all biologically hers. When she died in 1896 at the age of 62 in Kansas, she’d done a lot of living.

Her second daughter, Nancy Ellender (“Ellen”) Scott, followed the Scott pattern, marrying a cousin named Jasper Wilson Scott in Missouri on 20 June 1872. He was 19, and she was 20, and their first child, a boy named Thomas (presumably after her father), had been born a few months earlier. It is their third child, though, Ada Mae Scott, who is properly the subject of our story.

Left: Ada Mae is back row, center. Around her are her brothers, Thomas, George, William, Roy, and Robert, though I can’t identify which is which, except to say the baby in front of Ada Mae should be Robert.

Right: Ada Mae is again back row, center. On either side of her are her younger sisters, Dinah Laodicea (“Lalie”) Scott (left) and Phebe Scott (right), and their mother, Ellen.

By 1875, when Ada Mae’s brother George was born, the family was living in Kansas, where Ada Mae would also be born on 16 December 1876. Sometime in the next few years, Jasper was apparently thrown from a mule, resulting in a brain/spine injury. His health would decline over the next decade, even as he and his wife continued to grow their family and eventually moved to Washington Territory in 1886. His youngest daughter, Phebe, was born there on 18 March 1888, shortly before her father’s death on 7 June of that year.

That made Ellen a widow in her mid-30s with eight children, including a new baby. Ada Mae, the third child and eldest daughter, was not yet 12 when her father died, but I suspect his declining health and the number of her siblings meant she shouldered a lot of responsibility from early on. When I look at the picture above as her of a child, surrounded by her brothers, it’s hard not to see a tough little girl who grew up as “one of the boys.”

In 1897 or 1898, Ada Mae gave birth to a baby girl named Reah. Family lore records her father’s name only as “Mr. Mose,” and he and Ada Mae were evidently not married. Whoever he was, by 1900, he was out of the picture.

Like her mother and grandmother, Ada Mae was also a survivor. They were frontier women whose hard lives became all about family because they had to be. I’ve often wondered how society judged them, and I wonder how much they cared. I’d like to imagine the answer to the latter question is “Not.”

To-Do List Update

Forgive me, friends — this isn’t a proper update. It’s as much a to-do list as anything else, but consider it a preview of coming attractions if you like.

First thing I need to do is catch up on bibliographizing. Likewhoa.

But beyond that, in no particular order…

  1. Keep chasing Carrie Wood and Delia Wood
  2. Ned the Privateer and what I can find of his transgressions and his fate
  3. Anything more I can find on Rose, enslaved by the Kenricks
  4. Who were Agnes and Austin Holden, really?
  5. Stephen Joseph McNally — pre-1914 and then 1921-1939
  6. The life of Ada Mae Scott (I don’t think I’ve introduced her to y’all yet)
  7. Immigrant stories of Newton, MA
  8. Who was David Sparhawk, and where were he and his wife buried?
  9. Can I pick up where I left off on the Kenrick Serving Women?
  10. Mary Mehitable Kenrick Taylor, Caroline Kenrick, and Sarah Frances Jones Kenrick

That’s actually a hefty bit of work, much of it rife with dead ends. But we’ll see how things go…

The Story of Loquassichub Um

We’ll return to Carrie and Delia Wood, but first, I want to tell another story.

This is the story of a woman called Pamela by her enslavers but who remembered her parents, in her youth in Africa, calling her Loquassichub Um. We tell her story at the house museum where others were sheltered and aided on their way to freedom via the Underground Railroad. But the man who eventually set her free, Rev. Jonas Meriam, was also the father-in-law of John Kenrick, Esq., whose stories we tell at our other house.

Francis Jackson, 19th century chronicler of Newton history, writes:

“After [the reverend’s] marriage to Miss [Jerusha] Fitch, her m[other] came to reside with them at Newton, and brought with her a female slave, named Pamelia (sic), whom she received as a present from her s[on] Eliphalet Fitch, Esq., then residing on the island of Jamaica; the treatment of which slave, by her mistress, sorely troubled Mr. Meriam. One day, on seeing his m[other] in law strike and otherwise maltreat the slave, he asked at what price she would sell her to him; she replied, ‘one hundred dollars.’ He immediately paid the price, and thereupon gave Pamelia her freedom; but Pamelia chose to reside with him, and did so until his death, in 1780, after which she went to live in Little Cambridge, [Brighton], where she m[arried], and d[ied] a few years since, at very great age. Pamelia often said that she was born in Africa, and was called by her parents Loquassichub Um, and that she was stolen from her parents when a child, and carried to Jamaica, where she became the property of Mr. Fitch, who brought her to this country and gave her to his m[other], while on a visit here.” (p. 367)

Francis Jackson goes on to cite the Rev. Meriam’s grandson, born of his only daughter, as the source for the story. Rev. Meriam’s only daughter (with his first wife, Mehitable Foxcroft) was Mehitable Meriam, who married John Kenrick, Esq. Thus, the source of the story would have been William or John Adams Kenrick. But something about the story always bothered me. It seemed a little too white-knighty. And in fact, Jackson continues:

“Wheresoever the gospel of humanity shall be preached or written, such acts as this will be remembered as long as the act of ‘breaking the alabaster box of precious ointment upon the head of Him who came to open the prison door and set the captive free.'” (p. 367-368)

So I started digging. Because wills are often one of the best available sources for determining what happened to enslaved people, I started there. First, I looked at Jerusha Boylston Fitch, the mother-in-law in question. She died in 1799, having outlived both her daughter (died 1775) and son-in-law (died 1780). I confirmed her will didn’t refer to Pamela (shouldn’t have!), so I went to check Jonas’s will — it also made no mention of her. So far, this was arguably consistent with the story, even if it didn’t do anything to actually prove it.

Then I noticed that Jerusha Fitch Meriam had also made a will. This was unusual for a married woman who was not a widow (as her mother was), but not deeply so, as she was from a decently well-off family and had been her husband’s second wife. Her probate actually included a statement from Jonas:

Jonas Meriam consent to JFMs will

And then I found this:

JFM wills Pamela to Jonas

If Jonas bought her from his mother-in-law after watching an intolerable beating and freed her on the spot, she would not have been Jerusha Fitch Meriam’s property to bequeath. White knight officially slain.

But the rest of the story — that, after being given her freedom by Jonas (whenever that was), she remained with him until his death — actually does seem supportable and would have been consistent with the experiences of many enslaved folks “freed” into “servancy” in the years between the Revolution and turn of the century.

Jonas died on 3 August 1780, and his will was written that spring, a few months prior. The lack of any reference to Pamela suggests she was free by then (and that he didn’t choose to provide for her, but that’s a separate matter). The story also said she married, so I went looking for her happy ending.

On 9 August 1780, just six days after Jonas’s death, this marriage intention was filed in Boston:

Pamela and David Sparhawk MI cropped

And on 27 August 1780, they were married:

Pamela and David Sparhawk Marriage cropped

I haven’t yet found either’s death/burial records, but their marrying so quickly after Jonas’s death and the fact she wasn’t mentioned in his will written some months prior tell me she was indeed freed (and began her relationship with David Sparhawk) before Jonas’s death. A little girl kidnapped from her family finally had self-determination and, I hope, happiness.

Rest in Power, Loquassichub Um Sparhawk. You survived.

Questions about Carrie Wood

So now that I’ve gone and smashed what I thought I knew about Carrie Wood, here are my questions:

  1. Was Carrie actually Delia’s mother, rather than the other way around?
  2. If so, can I find Carrie’s husband/Delia’s father? Was she unmarried?
  3. If Carrie was born in Massachusetts to Massachusetts-born parents, can I find her in Massachusetts Town and Vital Records?
  4. If Carrie was a “conveyancer” in 1910, was she employed similarly before 1910?
  5. If she wasn’t a servant, just a boarder, why did she leave Sarah Jones Kenrick’s house for Agnes Holden’s? (I have so many questions about her, too, but that’s for another day — because what’s the deal with her 1910 jaunt to Boston anyway?)
  6. Where is Carrie after 1910, and how long can I find records for her?
  7. Where is Delia after 1900, and did she marry? Because if she were the teenager in 1900, then we’d expect to see her marrying in the subsequent decade-ish or perhaps see her continue in service in someone else’s house.
  8. Did Carrie or Delia die in Newton? or Cambridge? or Boston? or anywhere trackable?
  9. Have I looked for Carrie in Newton in 1899? I should do that if I haven’t. Hm.

So I went back to Ancestry with the updated birth date, and that started popping. I found a few Carrie Woods in Massachusetts. I also now had her middle initial, A., courtesy of the City of Newton Directories, which, along with location, whittled things down further.

I was fairly certain we needed a Carrie Wood who was based in greater Boston, so I discarded one in Berkshire County, one in Plymouth County, and I decided to keep a wary eye on one born in Cambridge but buried in Worcester. (I subsequently discovered that Carrie was not our Carrie. I found her in Worcester in 1900, when ours is in Newton, but her parents are also from Maine and New Hampshire!)

The logical candidate was born in Cambridge, MA, on 29 July 1859, to Charles P. and Hannah M. Wood. As it happened, she wasn’t the first Carrie A. Wood born to her parents — an infant of that name and parentage died at one week old in 1856.

But Carrie v.1859, her parents’ only living child, appears in their home in the 1860 US Census, the 1865 MA State Census, the 1870 US Census, and the 1880 US Census. Across those four records, her father’s birthplace is consistently listed as New Hampshire, and her mother’s shifts from Maine to Massachusetts. All the way around, though, she was not the Irish immigrant I initially took her for. Her grandmother, Hannah Somerby, also appears in the censuses, herself American-born.

Another fun note — Carrie’s father is consistently identified  for 20 years as a seller of flour. Not a baker or a grocer, but very specifically a seller (in one year, he’s listed as a wholesaler) of flour… until 1880, when he’s listed as a bookkeeper.

The 1890 US Census died in a fire, which makes Carrie Wood another potential casualty of a lost link. But the Newton city directories do cover that time period, so I decided my next move would be to go backward from 1900.

She wasn’t in the 1899 City of Newton Directory. So I tried the 1899 Cambridge directory, found here. Her father was there, but her mother wasn’t, but if only heads of house were listed, Carrie and her mother would be invisible. In 1899, she was 40 years old, and the very next year, she and Delia, whoever Delia was, would be living at the Kenricks’. So I tried the 1899 Boston directory, available here, hoping I wouldn’t have to go all the way through everywhere in the Greater Boston area. I didn’t find her in Boston. So if she wasn’t in her father’s house in Cambridge, she might have been in any of the other surrounding towns.

So here’s what I’m left with now:

  1. Our Carrie Wood is visible in Newton from 1900 to 1923 — but the 1925 City of Newton Directory marks her as “rem to Roxbury,” meaning she likely relocated there in 1924 or 1925. I’ll follow up on this bit next.
  2. Her parents’ deaths, 1902 for Hannah and 1905 for Charles, don’t seem to line up with any of her moving.
  3. In 1903, her occupation is listed as “copyist” for the City of Cambridge. From 1905-1923, she’s listed as “examiner of titles” for Cambridge. It turns out “conveyancer,” her occupation as listed in the 1910 Census, is a legal specialization involved in buying and selling property. These days, it’s a lawyer, which I’m not sure she was, but it fits with “examiner of titles.”
  4. After leaving the Goodes’ residence (which followed her time with the Kenricks and with Agnes Holden), she appears in two different boarding houses in Newton.
  5. I can find nothing of Delia. I’m starting to wonder if the shared surname might have been a coincidence.

Next stop, Roxbury…


In which Carrie Wood appears somewhere unexpected and upends everything I think I know

Having gotten nowhere trying to connect Reuben Moore and Thomas Harbach, I’m going to stick a pin in them for a bit. It’s been a few weeks of chasing other leads and digging through various threads, and at some point I circled back around through the Newton City Directories… and found Carrie Wood.

Carrie Wood was one of the Kenrick Serving Women — or more to the point, a woman I identified as her mother, Delia Wood, did.

Carrie and Delia Wood

This is the 1900 US Federal Census for the household of Sarah Frances Jones Kenrick, widow of John Adams Kenrick, Jr. There are no ages listed, but the two right-hand columns in this image indicate that these are  white females, and I’ve seen this pattern before — including in the same census, clear across the country, in my own family. “Servant” and “boarder” with matching last names should be mother and child. In my family’s case, it was a daughter born out of wedlock. In this case, it’s hard to be sure.

I figured a child in that kind of situation would probably be in the under-10 set, putting her born in, say, 1895 +/-5 years. I figured we should then expect to see her getting married 15-20 years later. She should be findable in the census, once I had a married name to go with a maiden name.

As it happened, that wasn’t where I found her first.

One of the interesting aspects of organizing my research in terms of the timeline of the house and grounds is an inherent tendency to ignore what happened to each family once they left. The connections between the Durants and the Dewings gave me a reason to keep tracking the Durants after they left, but I hadn’t applied the same to the Kenricks.

So I started following Sarah Frances Jones Kenrick. I knew where she was in 1900. In 1910, she and her daughters Mabel and Jeannie (and two of her sisters) were living in the same place around the corner. Note the maid, Mary Brennan, is listed as Irish/English, continuing the Kenricks’ general trend in domestic employment.

1910 SFJK

Image: 1910 U.S. Federal Census, household of Sarah F Kenrick

Around the same time, I was working on an immigration project and was going through the Newton City Directories, which are a good tool for tracking businesses as well as families between censuses, and I was specifically looking for boarders and boarding houses. And that’s when I found Carrie Wood, boarding in the house of Sarah Frances Jones Kenrick.

Here they are from 1901 to 1907 (hover/click to see which year is which):

The (b) represents “boarder,” which would be true of any grown adults or non-family. Catherine, Jennie, and Lucy were Sarah’s sisters and sister-in-law, and her daughters were both grown — and Carrie would have been marked in the directory as a boarder, by convention, because she was a non-family member. But these entries raise a few questions — namely, what happened to Delia? Beyond that, though, what was Carrie’s role in the house?

After some initial searches for Delia turned up no useful results, I thought perhaps the second question would be easier to answer, but that’s where I found Carrie in a place I didn’t expect. In 1909, she wasn’t in Sarah’s house anymore — she was back at the Kenricks’ old home, 286 Waverley Avenue.

Her turning up in another home — especially the home of someone with a prior relationship to the family — seems to domestic service. But also this began to tell me more about Agnes Holden, too, someone I’d begun to suspect might be more significant to the house and its families than our museum’s research and interpretation had yet uncovered/represented. I’d been looking into Agnes and her husband, Austin, whose decade-ish of ownership of the house was otherwise a seemingly random punctuation in the larger train of ownership. We’d started to think there might be more to it when my colleagues M. and J. noticed Durant-Dewing furniture in photos of the house from the Holden years. Now this pointed to a stronger relationship to the Kenricks than we might otherwise have figured, too.

But I digress.

In 1910, Agnes Holden was living in Boston, though that seems to have been a short blip, as she’s back in the Waverley Ave. house in 1911 with her mother and some people named Shore, whom I’ll have to follow up on. The 1913 directory still lists Agnes, but with the note, “removed to Cambridge,” meaning her departure was relatively recent at the time of publication. In any case, Carrie doesn’t seem to be with the Holdens or in the house on Waverley Ave. past 1909.

So where was Carrie in 1910? If I could find her in the 1910 Census, I could confirm her occupation and relationship to the head of household.

It took some digging — I had to find her first in the 1911 Newton directory, then search the head of household’s name from that listing in the 1910 US Federal Census, where she was indexed as “Cora/Carie,” which hid her in my initial searches.

And lo and behold, she isn’t a servant. She’s a “lodger,” working as a “conveyancer,” which I take to be a sales position of some sort. And in 1910, she was 51.

1910 Robert Goode w Carrie Wood Lodger

This was a bombshell. If she was 51 in 1910, that put her born in about 1858/1859 — a full generation more than the under-10 I took her for in my first read of the 1900 Census. And yet, it’s Delia who’s listed as the servant, not Carrie… so did I have mother/daughter backwards? But it also reveals what the 1900 Census didn’t — that Carrie, her mother, and her father were all born in Massachusetts.

So pretty much, I have to go back to the drawing board with everything I think I know about Carrie Wood.

I’ll start the next entry with a new list of questions about Carrie Wood, but I’m more hopeful now that finally I’ll actually get the “full story” (or something close to it) on one of the Kenrick Serving Women!

In which the Mystery of Reuben Moore somehow gets more mysterious

At this point, I should probably know better than to promise what I’ll talk about next when research is still ongoing. I told you I’d say more about Reuben Moore and Henrietta Durant Jackson Moore (Henrietta Durant v.1762) — and I suppose I will. But where I expected to find some answers, there were (yup!) more questions.

When I figured out who Reuben Moore was and where findagrave.com listed him as buried, M. and I realized we’d encountered this man before. Last summer, shortly after M. started at the museum, he’d been invited out to East Parish Burying Ground to look at a tomb that was being cleaned/restored. It’s one of I think just two that are like that in the burying ground — a tomb with a door instead of a plot with a headstone and footstone. He’d then pointed it out to me when we did a program in the burying ground on Halloween with a local middle school.

In a strange twist, that tomb turns out to be the final resting place of Reuben Moore. But, as it turns out, it isn’t just the tomb of Reuben Moore:

The text on the stone (pictured atop the tomb in the image on the left) reads: “Reuben Moore and Thomas Harbach’s Tomb 1810”

Aaaaaaaaand that’s where the questions start.

  1. Who is Thomas Harbach, and what was his relationship with Reuben?
  2. Why does it say 1810 when we know Reuben died in 1837?
  3. Where is Reuben’s wife Henrietta, since she doesn’t seem to be here?

A run through the censuses reveals a likely candidate for our Thomas Harbach in 1810, 1820, and 1830. The 1831 Map of Newton provides further context:

1831 Map - Kenrick - Harbach - Ward - Moore

[Map of Newton, 1831 — full map available here.]

We see three Harbach properties at what is today approximately the intersection of Ward St. and Waverley Ave. There’s no 1840 Census listing for Thomas Harbach, but there are two Newton Harbachs — Charlotte and John. The former household includes an elderly woman I figure is likely Thomas’s widow. Narrowing Thomas’s death, like Reuben’s, down to the period between 1830 and 1840, led me to his likely death record — one Thomas Harbach died in Newton on 8 April 1840.

I started wondering if I’d read the stone wrong and maybe it said “1840,” so I looked closer at the snapshot from my visit to the burying ground.


Nope. Definitely “1810.”

He was 68 when he died, meaning he was probably born ~1772. Reuben, by contrast, was probably about 20 years older.

So I turned to a secondary source I don’t love (inaccuracies/lore, unclear sourcing) but has proven to be usefully comprehensive, Francis Jackson’s History of Newton. There’s two entries for Thomas Harback, but one is too old. (That’s probably the Thomas Harbach appearing in the 1790 US Federal Census in Newton, though.) The other entry identifies its Thomas as marrying one Charlotte Wilson (probably ~1794/5) and producing 11 children, six of whom died young/youngish (three between the age of 10 and 18, two in their early 20s, and one at age 31).

All this is certainly something, but it doesn’t clarify why these men share a tomb. So far, I have no indication that they were family or business partners — only that they were down-the-street neighbors and that they share a final resting place. Nor does any of this elucidate the 1810 date.

Because this was starting to make me crazy, I returned to the person who probably should have been sharing that tomb with Reuben (and may, for all I know right now), Henrietta.

According to Francis Jackson’s History, Henrietta’s first husband, Thomas Jackson, was her cousin: Ann Jackson Durant, Henrietta’s grandmother, was the sister of Thomas’s father. The History notes that he married Henrietta in 1785 (see what I mean about inaccuracies? We know it was 1784) and that their son John was born 6 January 1785 before Thomas died in 1787 at the age of 25.

Their son John, according to the History, would go on to have two sons (Lysander and John) by two different women before apparently dying in Maine in 1805 just shy of his 21st birthday.

So two more questions:

  1. Where were she and her son John living 1787-1792, until she married Reuben Moore?
  2. Where was she from Reuben’s death in 1837 to her own in 1855?

But it strikes me that we may be at the point where we have to deal with Ned the Privateer, Henrietta’s father.

Short version: In approx. 1777, Edward “Ned” Durant IV goes to sea on a privateer and never comes back, leaving his wife, Mary Park Durant, and a slew of young children, the eldest of whom was 15-year-old Henrietta. Mary Park Durant remained a widow ’til her death in 1810. The reasons Ned apparently went to sea, though, and the tragedy of his not returning seem to have had a deep effect on his family. So we’ll talk about that next, while I see what else can be found out about Reuben.


The Mystery of Reuben Moore, Part II

Instead of buckling down to look at the censuses — because, honestly, that’s hard and annoying and involves writing stuff down to keep it all straight in my head — I was absently trawling Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, looking to see if I could just spot his marriage outright, rather than having to match him through his kids.

That’s when I noticed an entry for Henrietta Jackson, who married a Reuben Moore in Newton on 12 January 1792… which was an awfully familiar-feeling coincidence of names. So I went to check, and sure enough — on 29 July 1784, in Newton, Henrietta Durant had married one Thomas Jackson.


    … this is a married couple.

It all suddenly seems so obvious. I was right he had to have married in, and I almost missed it because he was her second husband. After putting this together, I then noticed that this Henrietta (v.1762)’s grandniece (her brother Thomas’s granddaughter) was named Henrietta Moore Durant. IT’S ALL SO CLEAR NOW. Seriously, how did I not see from the start that this is a married couple?

But that still leaves an important question: How did their portraits end up in the house where Henrietta was born when they were painted after she left it?

It might have something to do with the Kenricks. Our collection includes portraits from approximately the same range of time of John Kenrick, Esq.; John Adams Kenrick, Sr.; and Anna C. Kenrick, though they appear to be by a different painter. (A contemporaneous portrait of Esq’s other son/JAK Sr.’s brother William Kenrick is held by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, which he helped found.) Reuben Moore and his wife Henrietta Durant Jackson Moore were, as it happens, the Kenricks’ neighbors. We can see on this map from 1831, six years before Reuben Moore’s death:


[Section of Newton town map, 1831 — Available in full here.]

But I increasingly don’t really believe that’s it. I think it’s at least as likely to be the work of one of our Durant Family Collectors, F. Clark Durant or Arthur Dewing.

From the time the Kenricks sold the property in 1900 until 1912, it was out of the hands of anyone affiliated with the Durant or Kenrick families, as far as I know (that’s a big AFAIK, though). But in 1912, it was acquired by one F. Clark Durant, descended from Edward Durant III’s son Thomas (brother of Ned the Privateer). He seems to have either begun or continued historic preservation efforts with the house (which may have started in the preceding period, but that will require more research).

Then, in 1923, his cousin Arthur, who was descended from Ned the Privateer, sought out the house to purchase as a historic preservation project for himself (he’d done this with several houses).

Historic preservation was approached somewhat differently at that time: Preservationists focused on collecting/preserving myriad historic things without always “sorting” their efforts. Results of Arthur’s approach to historic preservation are evident as soon as you walk into our museum in the form of a hand-blown glass window from England that Arthur rescued from somewhere, brought home to Newton, and cut a hole in the wall of his house to install and thus preserve it. We also have tapestries purchased somewhere in Europe depicting the conquests of Alexander the Great. One hangs in the bulk of the big main stairwell, because it’s very large. Kind of random, but that’s how they did things.

But Arthur sought out the family homestead on Waverley Avenue because of the family connection. He didn’t just want an old house project this time — he wanted a Durant family house.

So to me it would make a lot of sense if Arthur took the opportunity to purchase portraits of his however-many-greats-aunt and her husband and bring them to the home of Henrietta’s grandparents, the house where she was born. Two framed documents of Arthur’s and a portrait of his wife’s uncle were stored in the same closet.

That said, a week ago, our manager M. discovered that photos of the house from the pre-1912 period show furniture that belonged to the Durant/Dewings — before Arthur ever got his hands on the place. This introduces the third possibility: that F. Clark Durant and Arthur Dewing weren’t the only Durant Collectors. I’m going to have to work more on sorting out who the people were that owned the house in between to be anything like sure what’s going on here.

But if I can unexpectedly place Reuben Moore in the family, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover I can, eventually, place the intermediate owners in the family, too.

In the next installment, I’ll investigate Reuben and Henrietta v.1762 themselves a little bit more, including taking a jaunt out to his tomb — which, in an odd coincidence, M. and I had actually encountered before.

The Mystery of Reuben Moore, Part I

Note: I appreciate the kind words folks have said about my previous post, “Into the trenches.” I’ll return to Stephen Joseph McNally’s story when I can fill in more — probably when I get either his militia service records from England or his death certificate from Alberta. And at some point, we’ll look for evidence of his time as a constable in what is now the ghost town of Coal Creek.

When I go into the museum, one of my first tasks is to walk the museum, making sure everything is appropriately set for guests. Yesterday morning, I noticed a bench had been moved. When I checked with my manager, M., to see if this was a new set up or whether I should move it back, he laughed and said he’d moved it when he was snapping some quick shots of a bunch of portraits that were in the closet in that room and had neglected to move it back. Then he said, “Oh, you should look at these!” and sent me the images.

Two of them were Henrietta Durants — two women, three generations apart. On the left is the younger Henrietta Durant (complete with reflection of M. in the glass), and on the right is the older one. As it turns out, both are in the same line: The woman on the right is the great-great-aunt of the woman on the left, descending from Ned Durant, privateering son of Edward Durant III. Ned was lost at sea, but that’s a story for a different day.

[Portraits in the collection of Historic Newton.]

These ladies were easy to figure out, particularly because they belonged to a line I’d done some work with already. The image on the right may be the earliest Durant likeness we have, but I’d have to do some further checking into that.

What we couldn’t immediately identify was who this dude, labeled “Ruben Moore,” was:

Ruben Moore Cropped

[Portrait in the collection of Historic Newton.]

He didn’t otherwise appear anywhere in the family trees of the Durants, Kenricks, or Dewings, at least not as far as I’d sussed them out (which is pretty far). If he was family, he would have had to have entered by marriage, but due to the particular history of who owned our historic house, when, and for what purposes, we also have in our collection some miscellany with little or no connection to the families that lived there. So there wasn’t an obvious origin story for our wannabe Napoleon.

I put the name “Ruben Moore” into Massachusetts Town and Vital Records and got a handful of results in various parts of the state, including Middlesex County. Then, I tried findagrave.com, where I found a few other matches in Middlesex County. But I had to look twice before I spotted it — a burial in Newton’s East Parish Burying Ground that didn’t identify the birth or death years or include a picture of the stone. But knowing that a Reuben Moore went into the ground in Newton was a start. That led me to a Newton death record from 1837, which I in turn crossed with the US Censuses from 1800-1830 to identify the household of my likely Reuben. Downside? Those years just list head-of-house, so I still didn’t know much about who he was. That’s when I looked at the portraits a little bit differently.

The matching style told me these were the same artist. The matching frames told me either the artist had a standard or, more likely, these were intended for display together. That presented the following conundrum: Henrietta (1762-1855) didn’t live at the house past about 1782 (her family sold it), and Reuben (17??-1837), as far as I could tell, had never lived at the house. So how did these two matched paintings end up in a house where only one had lived, particularly when they’d been done in an era (early 1800s, by the clothes and death dates) when the house belonged to a different family (Kenricks)?

It seemed from the 1800-1830 censuses that Moore and the Kenricks might have been neighbors. Maybe that was how his painting ended up there? Was this the work of some prominent local painter who did all the town’s great residents and had a particularly recognizable style?

I figured Reuben Moore’s children were the answer. I could see his family grow across five censuses, including the 1790 US Census entry I suspected was our Reuben Moore, even though he was living in Cambridge. If I could correlate the approximate birth years of his children and his name as the father with entries in Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, perhaps that would tell me more. I also planned to visit the burying ground to see who was buried with/near him.

Then, suddenly, I figured him out.