Sunday, March 21, 2010

Aunt Sarah Cram - part 2

Aunt Sarah Cram tells Sarah Cummings about the Cram family. She mentions her husband, George W. Cram, went to California in 1849 and returned to Massachusetts in 1850. After his return, he was appointed Surveyor General of lumber for the state of Massachusetts. George and Sarah Cram had the following children:

  • George Henry Cram, born 27 Sep 1828. He went to California with his father and died on the return trip home in Nov 1850.

  • Francis W. Cram, born 18 Jul 1830. Died Feb 1833.

  • Alfred Cram, born 28 May 1832. Died Dec 1832.

  • Albert H. Cram, born 25 Apr 1835, by occupation a bookkeeper in wholesale establishments.

  • Franklin W. Cram, born 5 Jul 1837, now in Colorado.

  • Charles Edward Cram, born Jun 1839. He is a bookkeeper and agent for a manufacturers company and clerk for the Boston and Lowell Rail Road.

  • Addie L. Cram, born 19 Sep 1844. Died 31 Mar 1870.

  • Henry Brooks Cram, born in Rumney, New Hampshire on 15 Jul 1849, at present a bookkeeper in Boston.

Aunt Sarah then mentions that she thought Sarah Cummings's father was born in Salem, and was married in Boston in 1836. She couldn't remember the month, but thought it was October. She couldn't remember his age at marriage, but thought he was probably 24 or 25.

The photograph on the right is the Boston and Lowell Rail Road station. If you click on it, the link will take you to a great article discussing the history of the organization.

I also clipped a part of the 1850 Federal Census for Rumney, New Hampshire. George and Sarah Cram are living next to Adam Holden. The Sarah Holden in his household is our Sarah Cummings. Notice that George and Sarah's son George is also listed in the household. I wonder if both Georges were actually living in the household or were they in California? Aunt Sarah tells her niece that her son George died on the return journey from California.

Sarah also mentions her son Henry Brooks Cram was born in Rumney, New Hampshire. She must have moved back to Rumney to be near her family while her husband went west looking for his fortune.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Aunt Sarah Cram - part 1

Today we get to meet Josiah Holden's sister, Sarah. According to the Holden Genealogy, Sarah was born on 10 Mar 1808. She married George Washington Cram on 22 Oct 1827. The family lived in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts. Cambridgeport is a small area of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The map of Cambrisgeport comes from a Wikipedia article. Just click on the image to see the article. I've scanned her letter for you all to see. The letter was written in June, but no year is listed. Her son Frank dies in 1880 and in this letter he is still alive, so I guess it must have been written some time before that.

It appears that our Sarah Cummings must have written to her Aunt looking for information regarding Sarah Cummings's parents. Remember, Sarah was adopted by one of her uncles after she was orphaned. I wonder if her interest in genealogy was some kind of attempt at answering all of the questions she must certainly have had regarding the parents she never knew. In any regards, her Aunt Sarah starts her letter by telling Sarah that, "I cannot give you much of your father's history." She recommends that Sarah should try contacting her father's people for that information.

I clipped a portion on the 1880 Federal census for Cambridge. It shows the household of George and Sarah Cram. What is so eerie about this, is the fact that their daughter-in-law is living in the home with her child Frank, while her husband (George and Sarah's son Frank) is in Colorado. The date of the census record is 4 Jun 1880. Frank dies in Colorado on 26 Jun 1880.

Sarah Cram's husband, George, worked as a carpenter and builder. I was searching the net for information on George W. Cram and came across one of the buildings he constructed! It is the Swampscott T station. Again, just click on the image to go to the Wikipedia article. I wonder if George Cram would be surprised to see 'his building' still standing as proudly as when it was brand new. Aunt Sarah mentions her husband was born in Meredith, New Hampshire on 11 Apr 1805. He relocated to Boston around 1820 and, with a short one year gap, remained in the greater Boston area. I'll cover Aunt Sarah's family in my next post.

Aunt Sarah continues describing Sarah Cummings's parents (I know - too many Sarahs):

"You know, of course, that your parents were both deaf and dumb, were both educated at Hartford Asylum. I think your father's deafness was caused by measles when he was four or five years of age.Your mother's was caused by Typhoid fever a little before she was two years old. She was a very promising child and she grew up to be a very lovely woman. She was greatly beloved by every one who knew her. Always kind, cheerful, and happy. She was with me a year before her marriage and was married at our house.

The last time I visited her (about a month before her death) there was a sadness on her brow. I [saw] that her future looked dark, but she did not complain. You are aware that she died when you [were] two weeks old. I was sent for, and was at her bedside till the last, dearly as I always loved her. I was ready to give her up knowing that she was better off"

The American Asylum for the Death in Hartford, Connecticut, is still around today. Click on the link to see a history of the school. My next post will cover the remainder of Aunt Sarah's letter. This includes a '49er story!

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.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Election of 1820

Josiah Holden writes to Sarah Cummings on 27 Sep 1880 answering some of her questions regarding the family tree. He mentions the Black Hawk War again and his leaving for Illinois in 1834. He then goes on to write, "With the exception of Milton [Josiah's brother], there never was one drop of democratic blood in our family, neither male nor female. Milton, I think, has been rather ashamed of his democracy of late years and has taken hold with the prohibition party." I just love the way Josiah describes the world around him!

Josiah and his wife were strong prohibitionists and, obviously, republican. One of their children, Charles Holden, has a lengthy biography published in one of those "mug books" we all hope to find our ancestors in. He even opted for the deluxe version as he also has his picture included, too. In his biography he tells the story of Josiah going west. Charles Holden is the son Josiah visits at Washington D.C. in 1870. This is what prompted his visit to his niece Sarah Cummings in Pennsylvania. I found this photograph of Charles Holden at the Seeking Michigan website. If you have Michigan ancestors, this is one of those 'do not miss' websites for research. Just click on the Seeking Michigan link to check out their site.

Josiah then mentions, "My first Presidential vote was cast in the year 1820 for James Monroe. At that time he had held the office 4 years and had given such universal satisfaction that all parties voted for him. In 1824, I voted for John Quincy Adams." The photo on the left is of John Quincy Adams taken late in his life. By this time he was an 'ex-President' in the House of Representatives. He was known as the voice of the anti-slavery movement. I just love his deep penetrating gaze. It's almost like he is looking into your soul.

I've included the section of Josiah's letter, at the top of the posting, in which he describes his Presidential votes. History has always been one of my favorite topics. Unfortunately, it sometimes can be taught in a two-dimensional way, like words on a page. You can ask your co-workers or your neighbors which subject they disliked the most in high school and inevitably one of the more common answers will be history. This is so sad.

This project of mine has brought me even closer to the past. Here we have Josiah Holden talking about James Monroe and John Quincy Adams as individuals he voted for. It's almost like Josiah, Sarah, and yes, even Josiah's brother Milton (even though he was a democrat) are still among us. I think this is why I am drawn to collect letters and diaries.

They speak to me...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

David Holden and Bridget Atwell

Have you ever asked an older relative about their ancestors and the response been, “I don’t really remember very much. I guess I should have paid a little more attention when I was growing up!” I know my grandmother was like that. She was the youngest of five children, and when I started researching my family tree, she was my first stop for family information. She sighed and told me she really didn’t know very much about the family. Then something rather remarkable happened. She was fast approaching her ninetieth birthday and the questions I had asked were about people long dead. I don’t think I had been home more than an hour when my grandmother phoned. The memories began flooding back. We had so many pleasant visits – I will always remember how much joy it brought her to think back over almost a century of living. Josiah Holden had the same reaction to Sarah Cummings’s previous letter.

Of course in 1880 you could not just “reach out and touch someone”, and thank goodness for us. Josiah writes to Sarah Cummings on 18 July 1880. He is answering a letter she had sent regarding his previous letter (see the William Wallace Holden entry). She must have been intrigued by the mention of Bridget Cummings (Sarah’s great grandmother). Josiah starts:

“…in answering your questions as regards our grandmother, she that was Bridget Cummings, I cannot give any information of her ancestry, but she was, I believe,of the unadulterated Scotch of high blood and of the aristocratic stamp of that day.”

Josiah then goes on to tell his niece that his mother’s parents were “upper 10” class. Upper 10 class is a new term for me. The connotations of upper class are self-evident, but what about this “upper 10” class? From what I can tell, Josiah must refer to uppertendom, which is a reference to the highest social standard. He paints a picture of a very comfortable couple. He continues on:

“Bridget Atwell [Josiah’s mother] was an only daughter, [she] was educated and brought up in luxury and doted on as is natural for foolish mothers dote on a beautiful, only daughter.”

Now comes the “Romeo and Juliet” part of the story! Josiah tells Sarah, “My father was as respectable a young man as there was in that town but was a poor cooper’s son.” Evidently, Bridget's mother refused to allow her to marry young David Holden, the cooper's son. Instead, she wanted her daughter to marry a much older man who was rich. Josiah continues, "she [Bridget's mother] used all of her influence to induce Bridget to marry [the rich man]." The more Bridget's mother insisted her daughter marry the older man, the more her daughter loved the poor cooper's son.

Josiah then relates a story his mother used to tell, "I have heard my mother say that one time when this rich man was riding in a nice carriage, her mother [Bridget's mother] called her to the window and says she 'see what a nice carriage you can ride in if you will marry that man'." Of course imagine what a teenage daughter would say. Josiah continues, "and Bridget said, 'I would rather marry David Holden and ride in a wheel barrow!'" Love conquers in the end. Josiah said his parents were married in the Congregational Church in Hollis, New Hampshire. He said he was told that when his parents married, they were the handsomest couple ever to be married in that church! I wonder if Bridget's mother was there?

Speaking of the Congregational Church of Hollis, New Hampshire, it still stands! The image on the right is a picture from the Chruch's website. Just click on the picture and the link will take you to the Church's website. You can see several photos of this historic church. Josiah would recognize it instantly, so would his parents. David Holden married Bridget Atwell on 01 Jan 1789.

What a time to be alive! George Washington would be inaugurated as the first President on 30 April 1789. I wonder if this young couple realized they were growing up with the young United States of America? David and Bridget Holden would spend the rest of their lives in Hollis, New Hampshire. I would like to think that Bridget's mother warmed up to David Holden.

Josiah seems to be silent on the topic...

Monday, March 1, 2010

William Wallace Holden

Josiah’s letter to his niece, Sarah Cummings, dated 22 June 1880 evidently is an answer to a couple of questions Sarah must have asked him in a previous letter. Sarah must have asked him about his mother’s family (which would have been Sarah’s grandmother). Josiah tells her that he does not know a whole lot about his mother’s family. Her name was Bridget Atwell and she was the only daughter of John Atwell and his wife Bridget Cummings. He then switches to his son William Wallace Holden.

William Wallace Holden married Angeline Yeomans on 5 Nov 1849. Josiah mentions that Angeline was a twin and that both sisters were married on the same day and at the same time.

Josiah lists the children of William and Angeline as:
  • Oldest daughter born in August 1850
  • Ida born in May 1852
  • Gregg born in March 1854
  • John born in September 1856
  • William Born 5 January 1862, and
  • Fourth son born in August 1868
The 1870 Federal Census record, shown below, is for the William Wallace Holden household in Wyoming Township, Kent County, Michigan. Ida Holden is living in the household of Daniel Stewart, also living in Wyoming Township. Ida marries Warren E. Spencer on 23 Nov 1871. The image below William's census record is a small fragment of the Kent County marriage returns showing Ida and Warren's marriage.

William Holden's wife dies in 1867, so I am not so sure the last child belongs to Angeline or to his second wife, Jane. I looked at the FamilySearch Record Search site, but didn't find William's marriage to Jane, the Death of his first wife, or the death of the 'fourth' son.

Next time, Josiah relates a "Romeo and Juliet" story...