Monday, September 13, 2010

I wish I had a picture ...

Sometimes when I’m going through old family pictures I just stop and study a particular person -- her expression, clothing, jewelry, hair -- but especially her demeanor.  Sadly, we don’t have images of some of the most important people in our background -- they lived too long ago, the pictures were lost, or perhaps they were never taken. 

I would so love to have photographs of some of the fascinating women in my family lines.

For instance, there is my great-great grandmother, Elizabeth Morgan.  The daughter of Thomas Morgan and Elishua Finsthwait, thought to have been born in Kent County, Delaware, Elizabeth first married a man with the maddeningly common name of John Wright.  Can’t find a thing about him, until after his death, when his widow applied to administer his estate.  Within a few years (1806) Elizabeth married again, to John Cain.  Her son Marcellus, born in1802, took his stepfather’s surname. (Another story)

The new family grew to include seven more sons, and in 1826, after selling their Delaware property, they moved to Indiana, reportedly going on foot with a handcart, rather than by wagon or horseback.

Shortly after their arrival in Franklin County, John Cain died “from over-lifting a sawlog” and Elizabeth was once again a widow.  Some years later she married a Mr. Holland, but he too expired and she apparently lived out the last of her 95 years at the home of son Jonathan, in Fayette County.  Oh, Elizabeth, if I could only see what you looked like!

Another “person of interest” is my great-grandmother’s sister, Mary Ann Sherwood, daughter of Thomas E. Sherwood and Elizabeth Evans.  She must have been a stubborn one -- a family letter says she married Ransom Gabbert against her family’s wishes (she was living in Bartholomew County, Indiana; they got their license in 1849 in neighboring Franklin County) and went with him to live in Missouri, where a lot of the Gabbert clan had already settled.  Reportedly she never looked back, and did not even respond to letters from relatives. The only record of family contact is found in the 1860 census, which shows her brother John Sherwood enumerated in her Missouri household (and also counts him at his Indiana home).

Mary Ann’s husband died  shortly after this visit.  But within a few years, while his estate matters dragged on (don’t they always?) she signed her name to a court petition as Mary Ann Bradshaw.  She had married Alexander Bradshaw, and they are found in Ft. Scott, Kansas, in the 1870 census;  in their household are two Gabbert boys and a new Bradshaw child, Nancy Jane.  What happened after that is still a mystery.  It is known that the young Nancy was taken in by another family by 1875, when she is listed as Jennie Bradshaw.  What became of Nancy Jane/Jennie’s parents is still unknown. 

Mary Ann, if I could just get a glimpse ...


Nancy said...

Oh, I agree with you about how wonderful it would be to have a photograph. For years I had no idea what one set of my great-grandparents looked like. When I began family history in earnest I contacted any- and everyone I thought might have anything to help me. Low and behold, a photograph of them was given to me. It makes such a difference to be able to put a face with a name.

You've mentioned several interesting ancestors. For one of them I guess a photo could never turn up because she lived before photography was invented.

Nancy said...

P.S. I wanted to say that your image for this post was perfect!

kwalls said...

I was so excited to see your blog. Mary Ann Sherwood is in my direct line. She was my father's great grandmother. Ransom was his great grandfather. Until now I did not have any information about her parents. I am looking for more information but will keep your blog in mind! Thanks!