The Brief Life of Hannah Roane – An Irish Mill Girl

This month is the 150th anniversary of the death of my Irish immigrant aunt, Hannah Roane (February 6, 1866), a Lowell mill girl. Never having married or had children of her own, the last vestige of Hannah’s existence disappeared 50 years later, in 1919, when her sister-in-law, Mary died. Mary was my ancestor, and the last person who might have recalled Hannah’s face, her voice, or a quirk that made her unique.  While the essence of long dead relatives (with rare exception) remain mysterious, it is often possible to learn much about the lives they led, as is the case with aunt Hannah.

Born around the year 1828 in County Galway, Ireland, Hannah was a few years older than her two brothers, John and Patrick, who also came to the world-famous, textile manufacturing city. Their family suffered the nightmare of the “Great Hunger” (1845-1849), the years of nationwide starvation and disease that took a million lives, and sent another million Irish out into the world in a desperate longing for a better life.

At this time in rural Ireland’s history, one son would take over his parents’ land and cottage. The anointed one (and his wife and children) would work the land and care for the elders. Perhaps, one lucky daughter would have a dowry enough to make a decent marriage (to another family’s heir). All the other sons and daughters of typically large, Roman Catholic families were out of luck. If they didn’t opt to become a priest or a nun, they faced a monotonous, solitary, laboring life.

Perhaps, it’s not so surprising then, that young, unmarried, Irish women came in such great numbers to America. In contrast with women of southern European cultures, Irish women were traditionally independent, capable and the money managers of the family. Many women made the voyage to America alone, and earned passage money for family members left in Ireland. Earning that money was no piece of cake.

Hannah Roane was on the vanguard of the Irish immigrants who replaced the Yankee female textile workers (the first American women to work outside the home), whose numbers peaked in the 1870s. For fourteen hours a day, six days a week, men, women and children labored amid the intense, ceaseless noise of machinery and inhaling air-filled with cotton or wool fibers. [Woman at Loom – American Textile Institute]Girl at factory loom, 19th century.

There were strikes in the 1830s over terrible working conditions, and, in 1845, workers agitated for a 10-hour work day, – a fight they lost. After that factory work became much less popular with native-born women. Then (as now), immigrants arrived to take the difficult, low-status, and low-paying jobs abandoned by those who had other options.

Mill Girls, 1870s

Mill Girls, 1870s

There were ten large mill complexes in Lowell, among them, the Massachusetts, Merrimack, Appleton, Hamilton and Boott mills; I don’t know which one employed my aunt. In a state census for 1855, Hannah was a resident in a boarding house with 30 other women, most of whom were New England born. As an Irish immigrant, Hannah would have begun her career working the least desirable, lower-paying jobs in the carding and spinning rooms. There is evidence that Hannah advanced in her career, however; in 1858, she opened an account with the Lowell Institution for Savings and listed her occupation as weaver, which was a skilled and better paying position.

I like to think that Hannah was among the Irish “mill girls” who spent some of their hard-earned on themselves and were considered good dressers compared to their Yankee counterparts.

Ten years after I first found Hannah in Lowell, her single working life-style had altered. The 1865 census lists 35-year-old Hannah in the household of her brother, John Roane, who ran a grocery business to support his wife, two sons and an infant girl. Hannah was enumerated as an operative (mill worker), but her death, just months after this census, makes it likely that she was, in fact, too sick to work. She died of tuberculosis.

For all her independence, courage, and endurance required to toil in the mills, the only blessing Hannah may have had in her brief sojourn on Earth, was to have been cared for, and to have died among family.

It is good to know Hannah had loved ones near in the end, and I would love to salute her memory and leave it at that, but for one sneaking suspicion, – I think that Hannah was “patient zero” for the contagion that nearly wiped out the family in Lowell.

Three years after Hannah’s passing, John Roane succumbed to an illness evidence suggests, almost certainly, was tuberculosis. Of John’s three children who lived into adulthood, two died of tuberculosis. What’s more, a few years after John died, the widow Mary, remarried and gave birth to two more sons, who both died of tuberculosis. 

Hannah certainly left lasting memories of love and laughter in the hearts of her brother’s family, but she may also have left them a tragic legacy.

 

Notes | Sources | Resources

Images: University of Massachusetts Lowell; http://library.uml.edu/clh/All/mgi06.htm; http://library.uml.edu/clh/All/mgi01.htm

Erin’s Daughters in America; Hasia R. Diner, 1983.

Mill Girls of Lowell; Jeff Levinson, Editor, 2007.

Living on the Boott – Historical Archaeology at the Boott Mills Boardinghouses, Lowell, Massachusetts; Stephen A. Mrozowski, Grace H. Ziesing, and Mary C. Beaudry, 1996.

Women at Work – The Transformation of Work and Community in Lowell, Massachusetts, 1826-1860. Thomas Dutton, 1979.

Living in the Shadow of Death – Tuberculosis and the Social Experience of Illness in American History; Sheila M. Rothman, 1994.

Grappling with Slavery – When Ancestors aren’t a Source of Pride

Ben Affleck’s initial concealment of a slaveholding ancestor for his episode of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. makes it time for me to come clean. I too, have slaveholders in the family, and these ancestors shame me more than the murderers and other miscreants I’ve been featuring on this blog.

I’ve had a document with this post’s title filed away for years. Sure, it was a rambling, bumbling, stumbling mess, not ready for primetime, but I kept ignoring it. Any subject would do if I could push off a confrontation with my sense of guilt over slavery.

Slavery in New York and Massachusetts

When I was a greener researcher, with roots in New Amsterdam / New York and New England, the northern states, I believed my family was in the clear on slavery. In retrospect, my ignorance on slavery in the north was stunning. My personal wakeup call came in the will of my 8th great-grandmother, the Amsterdam-born pioneer settler of New York, Sarah (Roelfse) (Kierstede) (Van Borsum) Stoothoff (1626-1693).

“…to my daughter Blandina, of this city, a negro boy, Hans. To my son Luycas Kierstede, my Indian named Ande. To my daughter Catharine Kierstede, a negress, named Susannah. To my son-in.law, Johannes Kip, husband of my said daughter Catharine, my negro, Sarah… To my son Jochem Kierstede, a little negro, called Maria, during his life, and then to Sarah, the eldest daughter of my son Roeloff Kierstede…” (1)

And there it was, the gut-punch, proof positive that my accomplished ancestress (2), kept in bondage a Native American, and black women, and children. Lines in my beloved native state, Massachusetts, were no more civilized. My 8th great-grandfather, Jonathan Rayment (1666-1745) of Beverly, was a deacon of the church for 23 years. In 1705, when he was 39 years old, he made the following purchase:

Capt. Joseph Flint, Mariner, of Salem, sells to Jonathan Rayment, of Bevery, “my Spanish Indian boy named Pito about 10 years old, for a slave.” (3)

As I traced the deacon Rayment to the end of his life in 1745, I hoped after 40 years of piety and wisdom, his humanity would have evolved, but the inventory of his estate lists after items including an iron kettle, frying pan and a silver tankard… “Slaves” beneath that, “1 Negro man… 1 Negro woman…”

A clipped portion

Deacon Rayment’s slaves: Cafar (Kafir) valued at 45 pounds, and Sarah, 37 pounds 10 shillings. (Click for larger view.)

It’s sobering to learn your people committed crimes against humanity, while regarding themselves as good Christians and respectable members of society.

The Awful Truth – Celebrity Edition

Several celebrity descendants of slaveholders have been featured on Finding Your Roots and Who Do You Think You Are,  including Anderson Cooper, Ken Burns, and Bill Paxton. They did the right thing right off by facing the findings on camera. They shared their disappointment and righteous anger. They acknowledged we all must accept the bad guys along with the good guys in our trees. And so it should be with our great, multiethnic, multiracial, American family.

Many folks argue that United States “fixed” slavery 150 years ago; that civil rights laws in the 1960s “fixed” segregation and discrimination; that white and black Americans have an equal shot at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Yet, if that was true, if that was the present reality,  – nice, white Americans, like Ben Affleck, wouldn’t be so troubled over errant great-greats.

The terrible disparity in income, health and life spans between whites and minorities is evidence that our nation hasn’t yet established a culture that supports the American ideal of equality.

We can’t change the past, we can, and should, look it straight in the eye. Instead of dithering over guilt, we can join with nice Americans of all races to build toward a society that truly guarantees an opportunity for a decent life to all. It won’t be easy, but working to “form a more perfect union”(4) is as good an idea today as it was in 1787.

 

Notes, Sources & Resources:

(1) Abstract of wills on file in the Surrogates Office, City of New York  (Volume I. 1665-1707) by New York (County) Surrogate’s Court Abstracts of Wills –Liber 5-6 pgs. 225, 226, 227.

(2)  Sarah learned native languages and assisted Peter Stuyvesant in negotiating treaties with local tribes. In 1682, she was confirmed as owner of a patent originally granted to her second husband, Cornelis Van Borsum (1630-1682) for a lot on Manhattan Island, for her service. She also raised 11 children and outlived 3 husbands.

(3) Essex Registry of Deeds, Book 16, Folio 204, March 12, 1705.

(4) From the Preamble to the United States Constitution, “We the people We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

***
How Ben Affleck reacted after he discovered his slave-owning ancestors

Slavery in the North Website by historian, author, journalist and lecturer, Douglas Harper.

History of Slavery in Massachusetts  Wikipedia article covers freedom suits brought in 1781 that claimed slavery was contrary to the Bible and the new (1780) Massachusetts Constitution, but slavery remained legal in Massachusetts until the 13th Amendment was passed in 1865.

Homicide By a Woman

Good people who lived good lives are bad subjects for a family historian trying to create vivid profiles that snap, crackle and pop with individuality. Most of our families come from hardworking, warmhearted and respectable people who kept their names out of the newspapers. So our good folks are boring, unless, maybe, they were good and rich.  I’m among those fortunate to have long-ago cousins who did some bad, bad things.

Homicide By a Woman—A woman named Adaline Clark, residing in Freetown, Mass. has been arrested for killing David S. Hathaway, on the night of the 22nd inst., in that town.  The Taunton Gazette says the parties resided together, and had a drunken quarrel.  Hathaway was armed with an axe, and it appears that the woman, under apprehension of an attack from him with such a weapon, discharged a pistol, shooting him through the head and, killing him instantly…  

This was news from Southeastern Massachusetts to Boston, to New York City where the Tribune ran the story above on September 30, 1856. From that single paragraph, unravels a convoluted and frankly sordid story. For starters, the murdered man, David Simmons Hathaway, and the murdering woman, Adaline (Hathaway) Clark, were cousins, the grandchildren of Dudley and Margaret (Briggs) Hathaway. Both families had deep roots in Freetown, Massachusetts.

 

The Murdered

Twenty six years before his awful end, 18-year-old David Simmons Hathaway, Jr. was so deeply in love with Olive Barrows, that he marched himself into the town hall to register his intention to marry her. When you look at the Freetown records for 1830, below the marriage intention, you can see the town clerk added,

“Forbidden by David S. Hathaway,  father.”  

If David senior objected to the union for a reason other than his son’s youth, it’s been lost to time. But I’ll bet David and Olive surprised the community by waiting three, long years.  When David reached his majority (21) in 1833, no one could keep  him from making Olive his own.  The year after, a daughter, Sarah Briggs Hathaway, was born. She was to be the couple’s only child.

After the 1840 US census, Olive Hathaway disappears from record. David Hathaway became a man adrift who relied on alcohol to forget his sorrows and assuage his pain. If he was addicted to drink, it’s not hard to understand how  David’s character may have taken a dark turn. He may not have been a very good father.

In 1848, at 14 1/2 years, Sarah married John Peirce, a man 8 years older than herself. Two years later for the 1850 US census, Sarah and John were living with a Barrows family (probably relatives of her mother). I haven’t yet discovered where David was staying and what he was doing that year. His name resurfaces for the 1855 census in Freetown, and there he spent his last 14 months on Earth.

 

The Murderer

In March 1834, David’s cousin and neighbor, Adeline Hathaway, married another neighbor, Seth Clark.  Over the next 12 years, the Clarks produced four sons. The 1850 census shows Seth working as an unskilled  laborer,  and the family did not own their home. It must have been a struggle to feed and clothe their growing boys. Still, when the census enumerator stopped by in September, the Clarks appear to be an average family:

Seth Clark – Age 38 – Laborer
Adeline Clark – Age 36

Albert Clark – Age 15 – Attended school

Bradford Clark – Age 12 – Attended school
Rhodolphus Clark – Age 10
Phillip H -Clark – Age 4.

Not quite five years later, when the Massachusetts state census was taken July 17, 1855, the Clark household had changed significantly:

Seth Clark – Age 43 – Stone cutter
Adeline Clark – Age 40

Bradford Clark – Age 17 – Laborer

Phillip H -Clark – Age 9

David S. Hathaway – Age 43 – Farmer.

Seth has advanced from a laborer to a stone cutter, a skilled trade, which means he’s at last making a better wage. Two sons, Albert (20) and Rhodolphus (15), are missing from the home, and Bradford (17) is out of school and at work himself.

The final name in the household is David S. Hathaway. Perhaps, Adaline convinced Seth that her troubled cousin really needed a place to stay. There is no way for us today to know exactly when David came to live with the Clarks. We do know that they weren’t all living in harmony. The following bit among short items from Freetown, MA, appeared in March 1856:

David S. Hathaway was knocked down by Mrs. Seth Clark with a billet of wood for licking her son.

Adaline had a grievance, and few  parents wouldn’t seek to punish an adult who assaulted their child. However, to pick up a piece of lumber and beat a perpetrator to the ground, suggests a helluva temper. For the incident to make the papers as far away as Macon, Georgia, Adaline must have given David a spectacular thrashing.

 

The Murder

The opening newspaper quote makes the incident seem a clear case of self-defense: David Hathaway came home drunk out of his mind, and an argument ensued that escalated into an axe attack. Adeline Clark saved herself from a grisly fate by making a single, perfect, kill shot.  Self-defense was what Adaline told her neighbors that night.  Self-defense was what she told the authorities.

On examination, Adaline explained she’d gone to bed and was roused sometime later by the noise made by the falling-down-drunk David Hathaway who was attempting to get inside the locked back door. Adeline took an oil lamp to guide her way to the kitchen and let David inside. He took the lamp from her and shoved her outside into the rain. While she pounded and pleaded to be let back in, David guarded the door, axe in hand, and vowed he’d use it if Adaline reentered the house.

After an hour and a half outside in her rain-soaked clothes, Adaline said she heard a chair tip over, then a thud which she assumed was David having fallen down. At this point, Adaline went into the house and retrieved the pistol she had bought a week or so before and kept ready. By the lamp light in the front room, she saw David on the floor with the axe beside him. She claimed he reiterated his threat to kill her and “two or more of her children.” However, David was too incapacitated to stand up. That was the moment Adaline chose to fire a bullet into his brain.

Somewhere, in the interest of full disclosure, she added that she had been David Hathaway’s mistress.

Having given testimony that she believed completely justified her act, Adaline must have been knocked for a loop when the coroner’s jury rendered its verdict of willful and malicious murder.

 

The Trial

Adaline failed to realize that her own account of the shooting and the advance planning that went into it, were cold and calculating moves. Why didn’t she go to her neighbor’s house when David locked her out in the rain, before she killed him, instead of afterward as she did? In spite of the wilful and malicious murder finding, Adaline was tried at Taunton for the lesser crime of manslaughter.

It was a tough trial and jury deliberations did not go smoothly. Adaline was convicted in May 1858, but not sentenced right away. In hope of being granted leniency, Adaline appealed to the court of public opinion by publishing a “lengthy statement in the Fall River News detailing the nature of the troubles between herself and Hathaway…”

In October 1858, Adaline Hathaway Clark was sentenced to five years at hard labor in the New Bedford House of Correction.  At 45 years of age, Adeline was enumerated there among the other inmates for the 1860 US census. Having paid her debt to society, she was released in June 1863.

 

The Surprise Ending

Several newspaper stories about Adaline including the line,  She has a husband living in Rhode Island.  That’s right, we can’t forget about Seth Clark, head of household, husband and father until his world imploded. When Seth left Freetown we can’t say exactly;  why he left is an easy guess in light of Adaline’s publicly confessed adultery. It’s most likely that Adaline and Seth never laid eyes on each other again after 1856.

In the 1865 state census, ex-con, Adaline Clark lived again in Freetown with her 26-year-old son, Bradford. She claimed that year she was a widow, but she wasn’t.  In 1880 Adeline said she was divorced, but that was not true either. During that same enumeration, Seth Clark, alive and well in Providence, RI, said he was a widower. And so the estranged spouses alternated between wishing their legal bonds dissolved, and wishing the other dead – for the rest of their long lives. Seth died in 1892 at nearly 82 years, and Adaline went in 1896 at 82 and some months more.

It’s touching irony that Seth and Adaline Clark were laid to rest forever together in Assonet Burying Ground.

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=82168445http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=82168471

We who know the worst about them should resist the urge to smirk, and consider this. The Clark children suffered instability, a broken home, and social stigma that must have hurt them in countless ways, –  and yet they understood that in the end, love is all that matters.

The surviving Clark children forgave and honored their parents so that Clark descendants strolling the peaceful yard today might think of Seth and Adaline as just another boring, long-married couple.

 

 

 

 Sources:

Macon Weekly Telegraph (Macon, GA); Volume: XXX   Issue: 32; Tuesday, March 4, 1856; Page 3. Homicide by a Woman

The Boston Herald (Boston, MA); Saturday, September 27, 1856; Page 2. The Tragedy at Freetown

The New York Tribune (New York, NY); Volume: XVI   Issue: 4820; Tuesday, September 30, 1856; Page 3. Homicide by a Woman

The Boston Herald (Boston, MA); Volume: VI   Issue: 127; Thursday, April 2, 1857; Page 4. Miss Adeline Clark

The Boston Traveler (Boston, MA); Saturday, May 8, 1858; Page 2. Murderers on their Defence

The Boston Herald (Boston, MA); Friday, August 14, 1863; Page 2. The Shooting Case…

National Archives (NARA); US Population Schedules.

Massachusetts. 1855–1865 Massachusetts State Census [microform]. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.

Ancestry.com, Massachusetts Town and Vital Records database.

Find A Grave <www.findagrave.com> photos courtesy of jtb, 2012; Seth Clark Memorial#82168445; Adaline Clark Memorial #82168471

Hard Hearted Hannah Hathaway:”I do not give or bequeath anything…”

When most people get down to making a will, they do it to protect and provide for dear ones, and to acknowledge family members, friends, and others who gave special meaning to life. Most wills affirm bonds of love and provide comfort to the living. Some make a point of doing the opposite, like the one made by this 67-year-old Massachusetts woman  in November 1823:

I Hannah Hathaway singlewoman of Berkley… do not give or bequeath anything to my sister Welthea Ruggles. I also do not give nor bequeath anything to my three brothers viz: Gilbert Hathaway, Calvin Hathaway and Luther Hathaway. I do not give nor bequeath anything to the children of my two brothers viz: Ebenezer Hathaway and Shadrach Hathaway…

 I do not give nor bequeath to the following children of my sister Tryphena Crane viz: Weltha Nichols, Tryphena Hathaway, Nathaniel Crane, Henry Crane, Phebe Babbitt, Abi Babbitt, Hannah Crane, Lydia Babbitt, Rebekah Nichols. and James Crane.

Yikes. It wasn’t enough to name beneficiaries and leave the rest to speculation; Hannah Hathaway wanted her survivors to know she had disinherited them deliberately. And considering this was, literally, a deathbed testament, it’s difficult to not to conclude… the woman was a bitch on wheels.

To play devil’s advocate, in an attempt to soften the impression, we must consider Hannah’s religious training. It would have been more along the lines of God is angry with you,  than God loves you. It’s just possible that Hannah saw the public disgrace of her family members as her Christian duty. Okay, I don’t buy it, either.

So back to the big question: What offense could be so terrible to Hannah that it pushed every sibling, and virtually every one of their children beyond forgiveness?

If the Hathaways had been heretics or murderers or thieves… except they weren’t. The Hathaways were an ancient clan and respected members of their communities. So we come down to the ways intimate family relationships go sideways.

Hannah and her sisters (and brothers) were of the revolutionary generation. They lived the shattering transition from governance by royal decree to national independence.  Born in July 1756 at Freetown, Massachusetts to Ebenezer and Wealtha (Gilbert) Hathaway, she was the baby among the couple’s eight children. Her father, Ebenezer, inherited vast tracts of  land [1] , he farmed and was invested in local businesses. Though cash flow would have been unreliable as the vicissitudes of life affected everyone, the Hathaways were comfortable.[2]

–>The eldest was Gilbert Hathaway, born in 1745/6. He married three times and produced 14 children. The census for 1790 and 1800 show him next door to his parents’ home. The year after that, however, Gilbert sold his land in Freetown in preparation for relocation. The 1810 census shows him in Livermore, Maine. where he died in 1829.

–>Gilbert’s twin sister, Tryphena Hathaway, married Benjamin Crane of Berkley in 1763. He appears to have been a ship captain, and the couple had 13 little Cranes. Benjamin died in 1810 and Tryphena followed in 1812.

–>Ebenezer Hathaway, Jr. came along in 1748 and married a distant cousin, Mary Hathaway, with whom he had 7 children. The first three children were born in Freetown, and the younger ones in Burton, New Brunswick, where Ebenezer died in 1811.

–>Hannah’s other sister, Welthy [3] Hathaway was born in 1750, married Richard Ruggles with whom she had 8 children, the first in Freetown, the others in Nova Scotia. Welthy was living in Annapolis, Nova Scotia when Hannah made her will, and died the year after her in 1824.

–>Shadrach Hathaway was born in 1752 and married Hannah Chase of Berkley. This pair only had time for 4 children, because Shadrach died in a British camp on Long Island, NY in 1780.

–>Calvin and Luther Hathaway, another set of twins, were born before Hannah, in 1754. Their history has been difficult to track. Calvin may have died in 1823 and Luther in 1833 at Cornwallis in Annapolis County, Nova Scotia.

This family profile provides a few plausible reasons for Hannah’s bitterness. One obvious contrast is that all her siblings married and had children.

Then, with the exception of the deceased Shadrach and Tryphena, all had moved from Freetown, and not just across the town line (as Hanna had done), but into the wilds of Maine, and across the national border into Canada.

Perhaps, less obvious is that the burden of caring for aging and infirm parents fell to unmarried daughters, a duty, all caregivers know, can be isolating and onerous. While Ebenezer Hathaway, the father, died in 1791, when Hannah was just 35.  However, Wealtha, the mother, appears to have (briefly) outlived Hannah.

Did Hannah envy married life and parenthood? Had she, perhaps, lost her own life’s love? 

Did Hannah resent that her siblings moved away, leaving her alone with her mother?

Was Hannah a great patriot who branded her Loyalist leaning siblings traitors?

Was Hannah simply a crank who fashioned her last official act into an epic pay-back?

The answer is certainly some combination of all the above,  – with a generous dollop of unknowns lost to time. Yet we must factor in the favored ones, for Hannah Hathaway deemed two people on Earth worthy of her treasure:

 I do give and bequeath to Celia French, wife of Capt. Samuel French, Jr, my bed and bed furniture… Lastly I give and bequeath all the rest residue and remainder of my personal estate…to Adoniram Crane, Esq. 

Despite the unfamiliar surname, Celia French was Hannah’s niece, – the only good one among 50 of her siblings’ progeny! Celia was the daughter of Benjamin and Tryphena (Hathaway) Crane. Born in 1781, Celia married Samuel French in 1800, and had nine children of her own. She must have been very special to stay in the good graces of her prickly Aunt Hannah.

It turns out that Adoniram Crane (1780-1854) was related, also, Hannah’s great-nephew. A colonel of the local militia, public servant, politician [3], and church-going, family man, Adoniram Crane was a paragon in the eyes of Victorian era chroniclers. He was a respected public school teacher for three decades, and an “eminent singer.” Crane founded the Beethoven Society whose singers performed widely, and was in demand across three counties, as a voice coach. Enoch Sanford in his History of the the town of Berkley, Massachusetts (1872) describes him like this,

He was a man of dignified and commanding personal appearance, an excellent town officer, and as a singer he was well known in this and the neighboring towns as well for the great compass of his voice, his fine musical taste, and the correctness of his ear.

While the man was justly admired for his talent and accomplishments, this other sentence from Sanford’s  history, somehow, brought  Hannah to mind…

Col. Adoniram Crane was an eminent teacher, who, however, used great severity in discipline, and which tended rather to harden than soften the rough spirits he had to deal with.

Apparently, over 30 years, Adoniram Crane’s punishments had so deeply scarred so many students, that 20 years after he died, that line survived the book’s final edit.

And that got me to thinking that Hannah Hathaway chose to endow Adoniram Crane because he was a man after her own heart.

 

Notes:

[1] The Hathaway clan [also spelled Hathway and Hatheway] was among the area’s first white settlers.

[2] In 1790, Ebenezer Hathaway, Hannah’s father, provided his unmarried daughter with an income of her own, gifting her with his half of a gristmill operation.

[3] Welthy was named for her mother, “Wealtha” and this surprisingly popular name is found spelled many ways (Welthea, Welthe, etc.).

[4] Clear evidence for Calvin and Luther Hathaway has been devilishly difficult to find, but clues indicate that both brothers did marry and at least one of them had children.

[5] Adoniram’s political career took off after Hannah’s death. It appears he was not a drinker, for he was known as a “temperance man,” that movement which would eventually lead to national liquor Prohibition (1919-1933).

Sources:

Ancestry.com Collections: Massachusetts Town and Vital Records; Abstracts from Bristol County Probate Records; United States Census

GenealogyBank.com Newspapers: New-Bedford Mercury, New Bedford, MA (1838, 1841); The Boston Traveler, Boston, MA; Norfolk Advertiser, Dedham, MA (1835)

Archive.org Texts: History of the town of Berkley, Mass: including sketches of the lives of the two first ministers, Rev. Samuel Tobey, and Rev. Thomas Andros, whose united ministry continued ninety-one years; Sanford, Enoch (1872)

National Humanities Center: http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/livingrev/religion/religion.htm

Religious Revivals and Revivalism in 1830s New England; http://www.teachushistory.org/second-great-awakening-age-reform/articles/religious-revivals-revivalism-1830s-new-england

The Notorious George Barlow – Part 3

The Brute and Bully At Home

George Barlow’s life before 1657 is a void. He brought to Sandwich, two sons, Moses and Aaron, but no wife.  Some researchers conjecture the marriage and births took place in England, and that George may have had other children. Presumably, his first wife died and presumably, of natural causes, but this article is about George’s life with a new wife.

The year 1657 was a milestone for Jane Besse, too, albeit a sad one. Her husband Anthony, one of the town’s original founders, fell ill in February and died in May. In the 18 years before, Anthony and Jane had built a house in the Spring Hill section, improved land, acquired livestock and other necessities which sustained a family of five girls and two boys.

Anthony Besse had a will, a standard instrument to convey property to heirs, but details add color to the legalese. Anthony named Jane his executrix, proof that he trusted in her judgment and abilities (perhaps surprisingly, this action was not uncommon). My attention was drawn to the bequests:

To Jane my wife, three Cowes… blacking Moose and Cherrey…

“To Dorcas my daughter two heifers… Nubbin and Spark and one more now

 which we call young moose;

“To Ann my daughter one heifer which we call pretty

To Nehemiah my son one heifer formerly Disposed to him Called Coll:

“… unto my two sonnes…Nehemiah and David…two steers…Burnett & Raven; 

“To my Daughter Mary one heifer wee call browne; 

“To my Daughter Jane one heifer wee call Daysey.”

While most seventeenth century wills designate livestock like inanimate property (description – cows, steers, horses, etc. and a quantity), the Besse animals were unique individuals with names, – Nubbin, Spark, Pretty, Brownie, Daisy… suggesting the Besses were good-natured and caring folks.  Anthony knew his children’s favorites and assigned parting gifts to make them happy. Yet, how hard it must have been for the Besses to be happy when this thoughtful and loving family man was gone from their lives!

Some months after burying Anthony, Jane gave birth to his last child.  The widow had to cope with the needs of eight fatherless children, a house, farm, animals, – and grief, a burden daunting for the stoutest heart. We don’t know how long the Widow Besse was on her own, and typically, widows remarried.  However, what moved Jane Besse to yoke herself to the cruel and tyrannical George Barlow – is beyond understanding.

The date of their marriage escaped record, but Plymouth County Court records document that it wasn’t going well. On March 4, 1661/62, Jane’s eldest daughters, Dorcas, Ann, and Mary Besse, went before the court for –

“crewell and unnatural practice toward their father-in-law George Barlow.”

Apparently, having failed to earn respect at home, George handled his stepdaughters the way he handled everyone who pissed him off, – he hauled them into court. To be fair, details of the case suggest the girls were not entirely blameless, and punishment was duly ordered.

At the same time, the court recognized the Barlow household was getting out of control. George and Jane –

“were both severely reproved for their most ungodly living in contention with the other, and admonished to live otherwise.”

Conflict was inevitable when George moved in with Jane, – into the house built by, and filled with memories of Anthony Besse. To make that situation work would have required a man of great sensitivity and delicacy, – not a man known from Cape Cod to Boston for his dickishness. George, the evil stepfather, appears in court again on June 3, 1662.

We learned above that Anthony Besse’s will gave his daughter Jane a heifer the little girl herself probably named Daysey (Daisy). Added on to Jane’s natural affection for Daisy, was the cow’s status as remembrance of her departed father. So George took it away. If he gave a reason for doing so, the court ruled it invalid:

“concerning a cow belonging to Jane, daughter of Anthony Bessey, of Sandwich, the Court have ordered G[e]orge Barlow, in whose hands the cow has been for some time, to return her to the overseers of the estate of the said Anthony Bessey, to be disposed of by them for the use and the good of the said Jane Bessey.”

In that same year (1662), two of the Besse girls he took to court, Ann and Mary, got married. This development would have significantly decreased domestic tension. Then in 1664, Nehemiah Besse, Jane’s eldest son, reached the age of majority and took over his father’s property. This prompted George and Jane to move some miles away from Spring Hill to Pocasset, (part of Bourne, Massachusetts today).

A change of scene can mean a fresh start in life, a chance to make things better, – but George got worse. On March 6, 1665/66, he was fined ten shillings for being drunk – a second time. Then in May 1665, he was accused of –

attempting the chastity of Abigaill, the wife of Jonathan Pratt, by aluring words and actes of force.”

It seems surprising that after these public transgressions, Jane bore George two sons, John (about 1669) and Nathan (1670).  Because she was also cited by the court for the couple’s scream fights, it’s doubtful she meekly forgave him. And, though it is awful to contemplate, the possibility that George also used “actes of force” on his wife is consistent with his character. In 1677 he was back in court for being “turbulent, and threatening to drive away the minister, Mr. Smith.” He returned in 1678 for being a “turbulent fellow” and was bound over for the next court session.

Fanatical, delusional, or just plain mean, George Barlow apparently believed he was right about everything. There’s no evidence he ever tried to reform his antisocial behavior, or regretted the terrible suffering he caused. He held grudges to the grave. In his will, to Aaron and Moses, sons of his first marriage, George gave only five shillings each, adding, “that is all I give them,” a verbal twist of the knife his sadistic nature couldn’t resist even as he prepared for death.

A widespread and popular story claims that George Barlow “ended his days alone and in want.” A version in Quaker tradition says he was reduced to begging for food and was fed by the very victims of his religious persecution. This would  be poetic justice, karma, and just deserts for this horrendously horrible human being; if only it were true. For the Quakers especially, it’s morality tale stressing the virtue of forgiveness, even for enemies. In real life, the craven George Barlow got away clean.

As mentioned earlier, George had a will because he had an estate. While it may have amounted to less than his neighbors, – eight acres, a house, farm stock and equipment, and household furnishings, – it refutes the notion that George was destitute and starving on the streets of Sandwich.

He wasn’t alone at the end either. The sons he had with Jane, John and Nathan, managed to stay in his good graces; he named them co-executors. George left his house, land, livestock, and all remaining worldly goods to the boys and their mother. George made his will on August 4, 1684 and it was probated October 31, 1684, so he also had time to make spiritual reckoning and prepare any arguments he might need for a heavenly court.

Despite all that passed between them, there’s little doubt Jane Besse Barlow dutifully nursed her truculent husband to the end. The awful George Barlow most likely died in his own bed, surrounded by family on a lovely fall day. He would have imparted his final words (typically religious admonishments) and had a good death. So the tale of George Barlow illustrates that life is not fair!

Somehow, the Barlow progeny all appear to have been respected members of the community. The sweetest outcome is that some married into Quaker families.  Barlow’s boys, John and Nathan, married and had seven sons between them, – but none of them carried the name George.

I imagine Jane was a happier widow this time around. I picture her pausing between chores to gaze toward the hearth for a moment. The aroma of a meat and vegetable stew emanates from an iron kettle and mingles with the scent of baking bread. Before the children and grandchildren tumble inside for the meal, Jane revels in the unaccustomed peace of her home, – and she whispers her heartfelt thanks to God.

SOURCES:

Plymouth Court Records. (Online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2010)

 The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III. (Online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2010)

Cape Cod, Its People and Their History, Henry C. Kittredge; 1930.

Sandwich Historical Society; http://sandwichhistory.org

The History of The Society of Friends on Cape Cod by James Warren Gould; http://www.capecodquakers.org/smm_history.html

George Barlow of Sandwich Massachusetts – From the research of Edson Barlow; Barlow Genealogy 1998-2004; http://www.barlowgenealogy.com/GeorgeofSandwich/georgemass.html

“The Notorious George Barlow” – Part 1

I’m thankful for a sprinkling of heretics (or as they are politely called today, – Protestants) that add color to an otherwise monotonous Roman Catholic background. I owe the debt to my paternal grandfather, James Patrick Henry Roane, Senior who, in 1921, married a devout Baptist, Edna Mae Keirstead.

Nana’s line includes clergymen, even saintly men, who suffered for their faith, among them, the Reverend Obadiah Holmes, an ancestor of Abraham Lincoln. At the other end of the spectrum, is my ninth great-grandfather, George Barlow. His claim to fame is that he made people suffer for their beliefs, and worse, – he enjoyed it.

An illustration of the public whipping of Obadiah Holmes, a baptist preacher by Puritan authorities of Massachusetts.

Barlow made his mark decades after the Mayflower Pilgrims established their little commonwealth in Plymouth. As that colony’s population multiplied, the founders’ ideals gave way to a new generation’s lust, — the lust for land. Families spread out and new settlements sprang up. By 1640, another 20,000 English settlers had come to New England.

The most notable arrivals disembarked further up the coast in 1630. They were another group of reformers, the Puritans. While the Pilgrims were religious refugees, chased from England to the Netherlands, the Puritans voluntarily left an England they found too tolerant.

Backed by investors expecting a good return from Massachusetts Bay, the industrious Puritans did not disappoint. The industrious newcomers rapidly established Boston as the political, commercial, financial, educational and religious center of New England. Granted authority they were denied in England (and blind to historical irony), the Puritans introduced religious persecution to the New World.

They mounted a particularly vicious campaign against the Quakers, which always struck me as odd, as I suspect it does most of us. If we modern folks know anything about this small Protestant denomination, also known as the Religious Society of Friends it’s the following:

– Quakers hold silent devotional meetings;

– Quakers organize to relieve human suffering worldwide;

– Quakers go to jail rather than kill for warring nations;

– Quakers engage in nonviolent protests against militarism and environmental destruction.

So how could the Puritans, fellow Christians, treat these peaceful souls so barbarously? Well, it turns out that present day Quakers have changed considerably since the 17th century. Shiny new Quakers were fervent believers, like new converts in any century. Among the early leaders were zealous evangelicals determined to sow god’s latest message in New World soil. But it wasn’t simple religious heresy that enraged the Puritans, – Quaker ideas threatened the social order.

Quakers believe that each human being is born with “inner light,” and therefore, all men and women are created equal. At meetings, anyone might be moved to share a divine insight, and they did not have a paid clergy class. Quakers addressed others as “friend,” – whether rich or poor, black or white, titled or commoner. Furthermore, owing allegiance only to god, Quakers refused to swear oaths to civil authorities.

To Puritans who saw wealth and position as signs of god’s favor and expected have-nots and other moral inferiors to show deference to those god had placed above them, Quakers were more than disobedient, they made themselves downright obnoxious. Consider that –

– Quaker men did not remove their hats to their ‘betters’ (for in god’s sight, no man was better than any other);

– Quakers lined the streets of Boston to hoot and heckle the governor as he passed by;

– Quakers burst into churches, interrupting Sunday worship, and provoking arguments with clergymen in front of their congregations.

So while these offenses will never justify the atrocities the Puritans committed against Quakers (and other dissenters), they add a dimension that helps us understand (a little) how it happened. And it was under these circumstances, in 1658, that the General Court of Massachusetts awarded drunkard and bully, George Barlow, his dream job.

In Part 2 in which I’ll fill you in on my ignoble ancestor’s reign of terror on colonial Cape Cod!

SELECTED SOURCES:

The title quote comes from The American Genealogist; Vol. XXVI, No. 4; October, 1950; Barclay, Mrs. John E.; Ann (Besse) Hallet, Step-Mother of Abigail (Hallet) Alden.

Obadiah Holmes at Wikipedia; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obadiah_Holmes

Quakers: Persecution in colonial Massachusetts;
http://www.publicbookshelf.com/public_html/The_Great_Republic_By_the_Master_Historians_Vol_I/quakershi_dg.html

Persecution of Quakers in Colonial New England, Excerpt from The Beginnings of New England by John Fiske, 1892; edited by Dainial MacAdhaimh, 2005.

Why did O’Flaherty plant boiled potatoes?

I was excited when I acquired a copy of the Ayer’s American Almanac. Not only was it published in Lowell, Massachusetts, the ancestral city of my Roane clan, it’s the 1859 edition, – the year my Irish immigrant couple, John P. and Mary (Hurney) Roane were married. I liked to imagined the little booklet sitting on a shelf in their home on the comer of Gorham of Summer streets.

The purpose of the magazine, “For the health of All Nations,” was trumpeted by an angel on the cover.  Its enterprising publisher,  “Dr. James C. Ayer, Practical and Analytical Chemist,” had equal interest in promoting his financial health. Lengthy  articles describe the powers of Ayer’s Compound Concentrated Extract of Sarsaparilla, Ayer’s Cathartic Pills, and Ayer’s Cherry Pectoral, to ease everyday complaints, and to cure virtually everything from deafness, partial blindness, fits, paralysis and tumors –  to gout and syphilis.

Cover of Ayer's American Almanac 1859

The booklet measures 4 5/8 by 7 inches.

Despite the relentless advertising, the almanac had practical utility. The annual calendar incorporated the Christian observances of Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Trinity and Advent. It listed anniversaries of national significance,  such as “Franklin born, 1706” and “Battle of Tippecanoe, 1811.” And it wouldn’t be an almanac without the weather. Predictions of wind, rain, snow and temperature would have interested city dwellers and rural folk, just as we check the daily forecast. The almanac also offered amusement. Each calendar page had extra space at the bottom. Some months filled it with run-over text. Other months featured aphorisms, witticisms, doggerel – and jokes.

In my mind’s eye, I’d  picture John in the parlor reading aloud to Mary (who was illiterate), or to a small group of Sunday visitors enjoying a break in the work week.  I’d imagine hearing their laughter and cups clinking (whether filled with tea or something stronger, I can’t say).

Then after I read the booklet through, I wondered if I was wrong about the laughter. What would any native of Ireland think and feel about the following?

            “How much did yees ask for thim buttons?” inquired an Irish customer.

            “Fifteen cents.” 

            “I’ll give ye thirty-siven.”

            “I didn’t say fifty ─ I said fifteen,” replied the honest dealer.

            “Bedad, an’ I’ll give you tin cints, thin.”

 

            “Why in the world do you plant boiled potatoes, Mr. O”Flaherty?”

            “Shure, yer honor, I’m goin’ to thry the ixpirimint of raising them already biled for my own aiting.”

 

            “Did yoar fall hurt you?” said Pat to his friend who fell with his hed from a high ladder.

             “No, Patrick, shure, it was hitting the ground that hurthed me.”

 

            The Irishman’s plan for casting cannon was, ─First take a hole, and then pour the iron around it. 

Today, this seems benign humor,  some gentle ribbing, – and no harm done. Certainly no reason to be upset, right? Now consider these other bits of fun from 1859:

            “Say, Pomp, you nigger, where you get dat new hat?”

            “Why at de shop, ob course.”

            “What is de price of such an article as dat?”

            “I don’t know, nigger, I don’t know; de shopkeeper wasn’t dar!”

 

            Sambo says, “Why am my belubed Dinah like de cloth dey make in Lowell? Cos she’s an unbleached she─ting.”

In both the Irish and the Black ‘jokes,’ ethnic speech patterns signal the low intelligence and low character of the subjects. Instantly recognized stereotypes provide the readers of the dominant culture with a good laugh. If the source of the humor is the same, – why is it only the last  two retain shock value?

In part, the ethnic slurs pop; but the rest of it is recognition that African Americans still do not enjoy the full-fledged membership privileges that Irish Americans have in modern society.

After the Civil War, things began to turn around for the Irish in America. They fought for the Union with distinction, and earned the gratitude of the nation. Gradually,  “real” Americans (white natives) became more accepting, and government jobs, – fire, police, public works, and other essential services were opened up to the Irish.

In 1888, John and Mary’s son joined the US Post Office and carried letters for 40 years. This modest post, paid John F. Roane enough to purchase a house and to raise a large, family. The Lowell newspapers over decades, reported the exploits of Roane grandsons – in  sports, the arts, the military, politics, and respectable Lowell society.

Yet  barely 20 years before his son got that post office job, John P. Roane died – and Lowell newspapers didn’t carry a word of his passing. Though a Lowell resident for 18 years,  an American citizen,  property owner and businessman,  the Irish native’s life went unremarked.

So we come back to Ayer’s American Almanac.  What do  its “jokes’ reveal about that period  – and about our own times?

I still wonder whether John Roane was angered by the characterization of the Irish in America or if being raised under English oppressors had inured him to insult.

I wonder, too, whether he felt sympathy for that other marginalized people – or whether he  laughed.

Notes:

1. The Old Farmers Almanac is still around and on the web – http://www.farmersalmanac.com

2.  There is a little bit about J. C. Ayer at Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Cook_Ayer