Monday, September 5, 2016

A Little About Charles Lee and Susannah Case

EDIT May 31, 2017: Since I wrote this post, I've had the old photo looked at by a professional archivist and have learned that it IS a "Tin Type" photograph. I now highly doubt that this photo can be of Susannah Case. She died in 1851 and Tin Type photography was first used in France in 1853 and patented in the US in 1856. I'll leave my post here as originally written, and I'll be posting an explanation soon.

One of the most difficult branches of my tree is one set of my Third Great Grandparents, Charles Lee and Susannah Case.  According to family notes I found 25 years ago, Charles Lee was born in Dudley, Massachusetts on Halloween in 1813.  I haven't been able to find any verification of his birth or the names of his parents.  Those notes also gave Susannah Case's birth as November 26, 1816 in Belchertown, Massachusetts, but again I can't find any documentation of that.  Books of Vital Records from those areas in that time-frame don't list their birth records. 

Charles Lee
Assumed to be Susannah Case Lee

I remember years ago Grandma showing the photo on the right to my Mom, saying that she wasn't sure but thought the photo was of Susannah.  Grandma's mother was Sadie, Sadie's mother was Sarah and Sarah's mother was Susannah.   Susannah died when Sarah was just two years old, so Grandma felt that Sarah would have had a photo of her mother whom she never knew.  I'm still trying to determine the exact type of photograph and the time frame when this was possibly taken.  No one can say for sure who the woman in this photo is.  

The documentation I have found for Charles begins with the 1840 census from Utica Ward 1, Oneida County, New York.  Charles Lee is listed one line above Lewis Holmes and there are no females listed on the line with Charles and no males listed on the line with Lewis.  Lewis is Charles' brother-in-law, married to his sister Hannah.  Were they living together in one household?  Between the two is a total of 8 grown men, 2 adult women and 1 female child. 

June 16, 1845 at the Whitesboro Presbyterian Church in Whitestown, New York Charles and Susannah were married.  Neither copy here is a great example of documentation with names missing and a smudged copy, but these and more family notes are all I have.  I'm sure the notes are from the bible page directly where it was more clear than this copy. 

Next I found this clipping from June 14, 1846 in the Ottawa (Illinois) Free Trader.  Macon is where Charles Lee's family lived in Illinois, but according to the 1850 census record, their two children were born in New York in 1846 and again in 1849.  Is this the same Charles Lee?  Did he travel back & forth?  

This is the only census that shows Susannah by name - 1850 Bureau County, Illinois.  Their children, George and Sarah are 4 and 1, both born in New York.  They owned $400 worth of real estate.  Also in the 1850 Bureau County, Illinois census, there is a Polly Lee living with Lewis & Hannah Holmes.  It seems likely that she is the mother of Hannah and Charles Lee, but I haven't confirmed that.

The 1860 census shows Charles & kids in the town (or township) of Macon, Bureau Co., Illinois,  The census taker neglected to mark the Occupation, Value of Estate and birthplace columns and others for over half of the page.  Sarah was nearly missed, her name squeezed in between lines.

Charles was an abolitionist and at least once hid a runaway slave in his well.
From "The History of Macon Township"

Susannah and Charles are buried in Bunker Hill cemetery near Buda, Illinois.  I was able to visit their graves in 1998 and their stone had fallen over.  The side with Charles' name was face up, I was sure Susannah's name was on the other side.  After that someone posted a photo (they obviously had taken earlier) of her side of the stone on Find A Grave.   She died from complications from childbirth on April 24, 1851, her children were 5 and 2.  The baby died almost 5 months later.   I would love to know what caused Charles' death at age 48, he died in 1861 on New Years Eve.

How did losing both of her parents by age 13 affect Sarah?  No document can tell me that.  I have these two photos of Sarah late in life.  I know people didn't smile much in old photos, but it makes me wonder.

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