Sunday, February 16, 2014

Henrietta Smith, Daughter of -- of course -- John & Mary Smith

Henrietta Abigail Smith Gaisford
Sept. 3, 1848 - May 23, 1932

It happens at least once in every family tree, doesn't it?  Finding the names of Henrietta Smith's parents in the IGI files at the Family History Center almost brought me to tears - John and Mary Smith.  I felt defeated even before I started.

The IGI files listing had the marriage date for John P Smith & Mary A Bliss as January 17, 1847 in Norwich, Connecticut.  Grand Island's library had the book "Vital Records of Norwich, 1659-1848, Part II", where I found that marriage record.  (The record just above theirs was for another John Smith to Isabella Stallman).  At least John P was pretty consistent about using his middle initial. Then I found the book, "Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America", compiled by Austin Tyler Bliss.  In it I found, "Mary Abigail BLISS, b. July 28, 1829, m. 1847 to John Smith of Norwich and d. June 2, 1866, daughter of Austin and Abigail (Bumsted) Bliss".  Not only one more generation back, but several!  This was the first book I had ever been able to find in a library that had so many generations of my family tree!  From that book, I learned that Mary was a descendant of Thomas Blisse, who settled in Hartford, Connecticut in the early 1600's.

So, at this point I knew that Mary had died at age 36, just a year before Henrietta was married.  I ordered a copy of her death record from the Massachusetts Archives. They send these certified copies with the information extracted from the original record, but I have since been able to get a copy from Ancestry of the actual written death register.  Her death was caused by "confinement".  Not meaning that she was confined somewhere, the term confinement was used to describe pregnancy.  She probably died of complications from pregnancy or childbirth, but there is no mention of any baby.  Notice her husband's name is not on the form, and the "Informant" is blank.  It's also missing the Undertaker's name and the place of burial, which I have yet to find.

In the dark ages before online census records, all I had immediate access to was 1850 census indexes which listed only the head of household.  There were about 250 John Smith's in Connecticut, far too many reels of microfilm to inter-library loan to look for his family's census listing.  Working on Austin & Abigail Bliss, I ran across a tree at Rootsweb World Connect created by Meri Arnett-Kremian showing in the 1850 census Mary and Henrietta were living with Austin & Abigail in Bozrah, New London County, Connecticut. The household also included Harriet, 17, William, 14, Julia, 11, and Sarah, 8. But no John, had he died?  

At about the same time, I got the idea to check on city directory listings.  I contacted the Worcester Massachusetts Public Library and they were very helpful pinpointing which John Smith I was trying to track.  I started with 1867 since I knew Henrietta was married there then.  In 2004, I submitted an "Ask a Librarian" question:
"Is there a city directory for Worcester, MA for or near the year 1867?  I'm looking for a John P. Smith of Worcester, with wife Mary and daughter Henrietta (age 18 in 1867)."  
The next day, they answered with a yes, they found a John P. Smith, Armorer, living in Northville near West Boylston St.  They wanted me to confirm.  Well, at that point I still didn't know, I said I would have to inter-library loan the 1860 census to see the household.  The librarian was kind enough to check that for me and found John with Mary, Henrietta and a younger daughter Anne and another person living with them -- Julia M. BLISS.  Mary's sister!  But the kind librarian didn't stop there.  He or she (I wish I had a name!  Messages were signed "WPLREF") then looked in more city directories.  In 1850 through 1857, John was listed as a machinist boarding at two different places.  The rest of the listings had him as an armorer, working at Allen, Thurber & Co from 1854-1856. AND THEN, the librarian checked on Anne's birth record.  She was born April 14, 1854 and the place of residence "jibes with the city directory listings".  Next this fabulous librarian proceeds to tell me that in 1870, John had remarried and had a child from this second marriage.  That was news to me.  They mailed me copies of the 1860 and 1870 census records.  The household in 1870 was John, 46, wife Emma, 27, Anna, 16, Carrie, 7, Minnie, 2 and Flora Carver, 16.  The 16 year-old girls were working in a Box Shop.  Carrie would have been the daughter of Mary.

Working on this post I finally got the idea to Google "Allen, Thurber & Co", and I learned that it was a firearms manufacturer, known for the "Pepper-box" handgun.  At the website it says, "the company moved to Worcester from Norwich, Conn in July of 1847."  That explains John's moved from Norwich to Worcester!  In 1850, his wife and daughter were with her parents probably while he worked and saved to bring them up there with him.  This also jogs my memory, I think my Grandma told me once that Henrietta's father worked making guns.  I was thinking of Smith & Wesson.

Many online trees have John P Smith's parents as Isaac Smith and Phebe Platt.  I was going right along with that for a while, but I didn't really believe that he had moved to California as some had.  After learning about his second family and working on them, I posted a message on the Genforum board for SMITH on March 2, 2006.  The next day, which happened to be my birthday, a message was posted there from Leah that said "there is a death record in Worcester for a John P Smith in 1903".  She was not related, but posted some details on Emma and the girls and who they married.  The kind of birthday gift I can't ask for!

Again, I sent to the Archives for John's death record and received the same type of certified copy as above for Mary.  He was 79 years old, his occupation was Armorer, cause of death was cerebral softening with contributing cause of cerebral embolism.  I think that means he had a stroke if I understand correctly.  But the most exciting information on here was his parents names! Aza Smith and Mehitable Potter!  Proof that Isaac Smith and Phebe Platt were the wrong line.  The bad news is for place of burial it only says Worcester.  Again no definite burial information and I have tried contacting a couple of cemeteries in town with no luck.  In 2007, a volunteer with NEHGS saw a message I had posted on the Worcester message board and sent me the copy here of the death record for John P Smith.  

Once more, I contacted the Worcester Public Library and requested a copy of an obituary for John - John Potter Smith.  This is from the Worcester Daily Spy, Dec. 23, 1903.   Argh!  Still no burial information!  
"SMITH -  In this city, December 21, John Potter Smith, age 79 years.  Funeral private".

With such a distance between Henrietta and her sisters, I doubt if they saw much of each other again after she moved to Illinois.  If any descendants of John P Smith read this, please leave me a comment and let's sort of reunite his family.  I invite those with Mary Abigail Bliss and John P Smith in their trees to contact me or the Worcester Public Library and determine for themselves who the parents of John Potter Smith are.

"THERE IS NO CRYING IN GENEALOGY!"  And there is no giving up!  Henrietta's parents were not so difficult after all.  Even the right John Smith CAN be found, I found mine! 

UPDATE 1/21/18: I've written a new post with recently found information on the parents of John Potter Smith - "Rerouting... John Potter Smith's Path"

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sibling Saturday - Maime Gaisford

My Great Grandma Cora had an older sister, Mary Ann or "Maime", who never married or had any children.  She lived with her parents until they passed away.  Sorry to say, I know very little about her.

"Miss Gaisford Is Honored On Birthday   
A surprise party was given Friday afternoon from two to five at the home of Mrs. Ervin Schuette, 1310 Grant, by Mrs. Schuette and her sister, Mrs. Lester J. Reed of Byron, honoring their aunt, Miss Mamie Gaisford's 78th birthday which was Saturday, Jan. 24.
Present were Mrs. Harlan Weaver, Mrs. Clarence Mann, Mrs. Emma Baker, Miss Chloe Bartlett of Beatrice, Mrs. Frank Amos, Mrs. Maude Hemphill, Mrs. Nellie Rathbun, Mrs. Harry Foster, Mrs. Louie Langworthy, Mrs. Will Gaisford, Mrs. Rulo Rathbun and Jeanette, Mrs. Nellie Griffin of Ellis and Mrs. Hugo Schuette of Diller. 
During the afternoon, Mrs. Reed played several piano selections.  Miss Gaisford was the recipient of many cards and gifts.  At the close of the afternoon a lunch was served."  [* Source:  Beatrice Daily Sun, January 29, 1948]   
What I want to know is why do they sometimes use the married females first name and other times use the husband's name, even within the same article? 

"Miss Mary Ann Gaisford, 89, dies
Miss Mary Ann Gaisford, 89, of 1012 North 10th Street, Beatrice, passed away early Tuesday morning at her home.
Born Jan. 24, 1870, at Minonk, Ill., she moved to Beatrice from Ellis in 1950.  Miss Gaisford was a member of the Methodist Church.  Three sisters, Mrs. Frank Amos, Mrs. Harlan Weaver, and Mrs. Clarence Mann, all of Beatrice, survive.
Funeral services will be conducted at 2 p.m. Thursday from the Methodist Church of Ellis by the Rev. Warren G. Swartz.  Interment will be in the Diller Cemetery.  Harman Mortuary."  [* Source:  Beatrice Daily Sun, July 28, 1959]

* Reprinted by permission from the Beatrice Daily Sun

Monday, February 10, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday - Gaisford

Oh, how I wish it would warm up!  The Prairie Home Cemetery near Diller, Nebraska is 130 miles from me and I need to get back there and take some better photos.  As a kid going to my Grandparents farm, passing this cemetery was always the point of excitement on the long trip.  My Grandparents lived only one more mile down the road from there. Grandpa mowed the cemetery for several years.  He's buried there now.  So are Charles & Henrietta Gaisford and many of their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and more.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Charles Gaisford from Hilperton, U. K.

Hilperton is a village in the County of Wiltshire in southwestern England.  It's about 110 miles west of London and only about 25 miles northwest of Stonehenge.  My Great Great Grandfather Charles Gaisford was born in or near Hilperton on January 26, 1842. 

In 2001, I connected with a descendant of Charles' sister Hannah, Cindy Pickard.  She shared with me some Gaisford family history.  Charles' parents were James and Anna (Rich) Gaisford.  Six children were born to James and Anna before they came to the U.S. in about 1855, then a couple more in Rhode Island.

The children of James and Anna were:
  1. Emma Jane  (1840-1915)
  2. Charles Henry  (1842-1920)
  3. James  (1845-1909)
  4. Hannah  (1847-1918)
  5. William  (1850-1827)
  6. Anna  (1854-1913)
  7. Samuel  (1857-1921)
  8. Jean  (1860 - ?)
Back in the day before census records were available to search online, I had to either inter-library loan microfilm, or request lookups from others.  In March 2004, I posted a request on the Rootsweb Mailing list for Providence county, Rhode Island for the 1860 census showing James Gaisford, listing his family members by name.  My request was answered the same day!  It would have taken me a long time to find them in a search at Ancestry or Heritage Quest since they were listed by the name "Gaskill".   They were in Burrillville, Rhode Island, James was a "cloth finisher".  The family moved to Minonk, Illinois in about 1868. 

In 1860, Charles was 19, living with his parents in Burrillville, working as a weaver.  His marriage record in 1867 shows his residence as Putnam, Connecticut, so it looks like he had gone out on his own, moved to Putnam and was making his living as a spindle maker. You can see a copy of the marriage record here.

After their marriage, Charles & Henrietta moved to La Salle County, Illinois about 1868 where he took up farming.  Charles became a Naturalized citizen in Woodford County in 1872.  In about 1876, they moved to Nebraska, first to Ellis in Gage County then filing a homestead claim in Jefferson County.  One of my goals this year is to take a vacation day and get to two or three county courthouses and look for homestead records.  If you have a homesteader story to tell, the Homestead National Monument in Beatrice is collecting them.  

Beatrice Daily Sun, February 4, 1903

This article from the Beatrice Daily Sun tells me two things:  1) that Charles did all right financially and 2) the reason for Charles Jr's move to Oklahoma.  Interesting coincidence - Charles Jr moved from Ellis in Gage County, Nebraska to Gage in Ellis County, Oklahoma. 

From the Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota website, the 1920 census Instructions to Enumerators were:
 "Column 5. Name of each person enumerated.-Enter the name of every person whose usual place of abode on January 1, 1920, was with the family or in the dwelling place for which the enumeration is being made."
The Gaisford household was enumerated on February 4th, just two weeks after Charles' death on January 20, 1920.  He is listed as head of household with Henrietta and their daughter Mary ("Maime").  

Charles left the English countryside at about age 13, lived and worked in eastern cities for a while, then left there to help settle the west.  The Gaisford family was the first of my ancestors to settle here in Nebraska.  The state was 9 years old.

Charles Gaisford

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Wedding Wednesday - Charles & Henrietta Gaisford

Thursday, May 23, 1867 in Worcester, Massachusetts Charles Gaisford married Henrietta Abigail Smith.  He was 25, she was 18, it was the first marriage for both of them.  Notice Henrietta's middle initial is both A. and M. on this same document. 

How did a girl from Worcester, Massachusetts meet a man from Putnam, Connecticut? There's 30 miles between the two places.  Henrietta's father worked in an armory and Charles was a spindle maker, was there a business connection there?  Or Henrietta's Aunt Julia Bliss, who lived with her family in 1860, was a dress maker.  If Aunt Julia was in business a few years, she might have needed the services of a spindle maker.  Maybe Henrietta was an apprentice with her. 

Eleven children were born to them, Ellen died in infancy:
  1. Charles Henry  (1868 - 1947)
  2. Mary Ann "Maime"  (1870 - 1959)
  3. Anna Maria  (1871 - 1943)
  4. Emma Jane  (1874 - 1939) 
  5. Carrie Matilda  (1876 - 1899)
  6. Ellen Rachel  (1880 - 1881)
  7. Cora Mabel  (1882 - 1971)  my Great Grandma
  8. Nellie Cordelia  (1883 - 1919)
  9. William Francis  (1885 - 1953)
  10. Gladys Eltavine  (1888 - 1966)
  11. Gertrude Henrietta  (1890 - 1986)
Charles Jr was born in Connecticut, Maime, Anna & Emma were born in Minonk, Illinois and the rest were born in Jefferson County, Nebraska.  Charles Jr moved to Oklahoma, the rest lived out their lives in Nebraska.

Charles & Henrietta were married for almost 53 years, until his death in 1920.
"Golden Wedding  
Just fifty years ago on May 23, 1867, occurred the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Gaisford and last Wednesday, May 23, their folks gathered to honor them.  Mr. and Mrs. Gaisford have nine living children, twenty-six grand children and one great grandchild all living in or near Ellis with the exception of Chas. Gaisford, Jr. who with his family resides in Oklahoma.  Those who were able to be present to help them celebrate were Mr. and Mrs. Will Gaisford and family, Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Mann and family, Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Carpenter and family, Mr. and Mrs. Harlan Weaver and daughter Rachel, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Amos, Grandma Carpenter of Harbine and Mrs. Orion Miller.  All enjoyed a fine dinner and ice cream and cake was served in the afternoon.  Mr. and Mrs. Gaisford have a host of friends in this vicinity who congratulate them on their long happy life together." [Source:  Beatrice Express, June 2, 1917]

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sunday's Obituary - Charles & Henrietta Gaisford

So often our female ancestors get little or no personal mention in old newspapers or other documents.  They are only referred to as "Mrs. husband's name" most of the time.  So this is an interesting comparison between these two obituaries for my Great Great Grandparents, Charles & Henrietta Gaisford.  This one for him is from the Beatrice Daily Express, he had only one paragraph in the Beatrice Daily Sun.   Here he is referred to as a "pioneer resident", while her obit points out how well she endured the hardships of pioneer life.


Chas. Gaisford, pioneer resident of southeastern Nebraska, died Sunday evening at 7:30 o'clock at his home in Ellis.  He had been in ill health for some time.
The deceased was in his seventy eighth year.  He located on a farm in the Ellis neighborhood over forty years ago, later removing across the line into Jefferson county.  For the past few years he had made his home in Ellis.
Mr. Gaisford is survived by a widow and eight children, six daughters and two sons.  He also leaves three brothers and a number of grandchildren.  The brothers are G. Gaisford of Council Bluffs, Ia., Will, residing in Illinois, and Sam Gaisford of the Ellis vicinity." [Beatrice Daily Express, Jan. 26, 1920]

Henrietta A. S. Gaisford
Henrietta Abigal Smith was born in Bartleville, Conn., September 3, 1948, and departed this life at her home in Ellis, May 23, 1932, at the age of 83 years, 8 months and 20 days.
On May 23, 1866, she was united in marriage to Charles Gaisford at Worcester, Mass., and to this union were born eleven children.  These were Ella who died in infancy, Carrie who became the wife of Mr. White and died in 1899, and Nellie who passed away in 1919.  Those living are Charles of Oklahoma, Miss Mamie, Mrs. Annie Fielder, Mrs. Emma Carpenter, Mrs. Cora Mann, and Will, all of Ellis; Mrs. Gertrude Weaver of Harbine, and Mrs. Gladys Amos, also of Ellis.
After residing in Massachusetts for six years they moved to a log house north of Ellis, later homesteading in Jefferson county.  In 1909 they retired from farm activities, moving to Ellis, where she has since resided, Mr. Gaisford having passed away on January 25, 1920.
"Grandma" as she was affectionately known by all who knew her, was one of the oldest pioneers of this community.  Sod houses, Indians, prairie fires, are forgotten history to the present generation, but to grandma they were actualities.  A trip to the nearest town, Beatrice, was made with a team and wagon over the open prairies.  No fences barred their way, and no houses to break the monotony of the day's journey.  Many hardships were endured but through it all grandma remained happy and contented.  Her neighbors can well remember her kindly deeds in time of sickness and sorrow.  One of grandma's outstanding characteristics was to always find something good in everyone.
Mrs. Gaisford was a member of the Methodist church and for many years was an active worker in the Ellis Ladies' Aid.
She leaves to mourn her loss, two sons and six daughters, 35 grandchildren, and 39 great-grandchildren.  Making a trail of 82 direct descendants.  Also a host of friends and neighbors.

Smooth the locks of silver hair,
On mother's brow with tender care,
Gather her robes in a final fold,
Around the form that we love so,
Lay on her bosom, pure as snow,
The sweetest flowers that ever grow,
Kiss her and leave her, your heart's delight,
In dreamless peace with Jesus tonight.
Put away her slippers and empty chair,
Fold up the garments she used to wear,
Let down the curtain, close the door,
Mother will need the old house no more.
God understands, his ways are right,
But mother, dear mother, we miss you tonight.
[* Beatrice Daily Sun, May 24, 1932]

* Reprinted by permission from the Beatrice Daily Sun