Monday, March 15, 2010

Winter Memories

Josiah Holden writes to Sarah Cummings from Grand Rapids, Michigan, on 4 March 1883. He has just recently celebrated his 83rd birthday. His letter is brief, but has a rather interesting story. He starts by mentioning a visit to his father's oldest sister, Sarah, in the winter of 1803. Josiah mentions the visit occurred less than a year before the death of her first husband, whose name Josiah does not mention.

Next, Josiah recalls Sarah's son Phineas, as he was only a couple of years older than himself. According to the Holden Genealogy, the title page is shown on the right, this almost certainly must have been Sarah Holden, born 17 Dec 1764 who married Benjamin Cummings who died 8 March 1804. Their son Phineas Cummings, was born 15 Mar 1795.

Josiah's niece, Sarah Cummings, must be intrigued by the Cummings surname. Josiah continues by recalling his grandmother, Bridget Cummings. She married John Atwell. John Atwell died at the house of Josiah's father on 20 Feb 1820. Josiah says that both his wife and himself attended the funeral, before they were married.

Josiah also mentions that Sarah's husband, William Cummings, most certainly originated from the same stock and in his own words, "A pretty good stock to breed from." Josiah then reflects back to his Aunt Sarah, who now is a Smith. "I visited Aunt Sarah Smith in Brookline [New Hampshire] in the winter of 1818. It was thought by some of Uncle Cummings, that his death in the saw mill was suicide as no accident would place his body in such a state as it was in when found." Doesn't that sound awful?

I searched the 1820 Federal Census for the surname of Smith in the town of Brookline. There were only four Smith families listed and only one of those had a female in the correct age bracket for Josiah's Aunt Sarah Smith, that of the household of Joshua Smith. Is this her? Josiah remains silent on the topic.

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