1867: Zebulon Blakeslee’s second marriage

Sepia Saturday 479: Eighth in a series on the odd 1860 separation of my great-great-great grandparents Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee — a summertime census mystery.

My discovery of the 1860 separation and subsequent divorce of my third great-grandparents Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee prompted a recent genealogy road trip to Montrose, Penna. in search of details and documentation.

I was not able to obtain their divorce decree on that trip — but I was successful in learning about Zebulon’s later life, including details of his second marriage.

A midlife second marriage. Nine months after his divorce from my ggg grandmother Hannah, my ggg grandfather Zebulon, 56, married a second time. Was his desire to remarry the impetus to file for divorce?  Photo: annca/Pixabay

Notice of a marriage

From his federal census returns, I knew that Zebulon married a woman named Sarah Ann after his divorce from Hannah. But what was her maiden name, when did they wed and exactly where did they live?

Happily, my visit to the Susquehanna County Historical Society in Montrose provided answers! Because that’s where I found the newspaper announcement of Zebulon and Sarah Ann’s wedding (below) from the 7 June 1867 issue of the Montrose Democrat.

Montrose Democrat (7 Jun 1867): Announcement of the second marriage of my divorced 3rd great-grandfather Zebulon Blakeslee to Sarah Sherman in Jessup Township, Susquehanna County, Penna. Scan by Molly Charboneau

This brief announcement yielded a wealth of family history information:

  • Exact wedding date: 27 May 1867
  • Bride’s maiden name: Sarah Sherman
  • Bride’s father’s name: Abel Sherman
  • Wedding location and place of residence: Jessup Township in Susquehanna Co., Penna.
  • A civil ceremony: They were married by D. Hoff, Esq.
  • Calculated ages [based on the 1870 federal census]: Zebulon, 56; Sarah Ann, 45; Abel Sherman, 68.

Details tell a tale

When and how Zebulon met his second wife is still unclear. But the fact that he initiated the divorce from Hannah (finalized circa 28 Aug 1866) — and married Sarah Ann nine months later (27 May 1867) — implies that his desire to remarry may have prompted his divorce petition.

By the time of his second marriage, Zebulon had relocated within Susquehanna County. He left Brookdale (in Liberty Township) and moved to Jessup (a township southwest of Liberty) — putting some distance between himself and his past life.

Learning the name of his new father-in-law, Abel Sherman, helped pinpoint exactly where Zebulon might have lived in Jessup (see map below).

Map of Jessup Township, Susquehanna Co., Penna. (1858). Click map to enlarge. The farm of Abel Sherman is highlighted at the township’s northern border.  In May 1867 — nine months after his divorce — my ggg grandfather Zebulon Blakeslee, 56, married Abel’s daughter Sarah Ann Sherman, 49, and moved in next door. Map: ancestortracks.com

Abel Sherman: A longtime Jessup resident

Abel Sherman appears in one source as an 1827 taxpayer in Susquehanna County’s Bridgewater Township, east of Jessup.

But by 1847 he was on a roster of Jessup Township taxpayers, in 1858 he was named on the Jessup map above, in 1866 he hosted his daughter’s Jessup wedding ceremony, and in 1860[1]1860 U.S. census: FamilySearch requires free login to view records.and 1870[2]1870 U.S. census: FamilySearch requires free login to view records. he was enumerated as a farmer, with his wife Louisa, in the Jessup federal censuses.

I took a careful look at Abel’s 1870 federal census enumeration, and what do you know: Zebulon and Sarah Ann lived right next door to her father! Zebulon’s 1870 occupation was “Day Hand.” So I wonder: Did he work in that capacity on Abel Sherman’s farm? Was that how Zebulon met Sarah Ann?

A civil ceremony

Also of interest is that D. Hoff, Esq. presided at Zebulon and Sarah Ann’s wedding — apparently a civil ceremony. Zebulon’s daughters Rhoda and Mary (my great-grandmother) were both married by Presbyterian ministers — so that might have been Zebulon’s denomination. But since he was divorced, maybe a church wedding wasn’t possible for him the second time around.

Nevertheless, it appears that Zebulon and Sarah Ann (Sherman) Blakeslee made a go of their midlife marriage — remaining together until Zebulon’s death.

And although they did not have children together, I may still have some cousins-in-law out there — descendants of Sarah Ann’s younger brother Charles Sherman and his wife Hannah.[3]1880 U.S. census: FamilySearch requires free login to view records.

Up next: Zebulon Blakeslee’s final years. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2019 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1 1860 U.S. census: FamilySearch requires free login to view records.
2 1870 U.S. census: FamilySearch requires free login to view records.
3 1880 U.S. census: FamilySearch requires free login to view records.

16 thoughts on “1867: Zebulon Blakeslee’s second marriage”

    1. Thanks for visiting, Taneya. This small clip was indeed a wonderful find. What would we do without those amazing local newspapers?

  1. It seems like every question we get answered seems to lead to a new question, doesn’t it? You did a wonderful job of following the original divorce back to their individual stories. I loved following you search in the last few posts!

  2. Sometimes the records lead us into deeper mysteries. But then, that’s probably what makes family history research so addicting.

    Great examples in your post.

  3. I enjoyed this blog and have found myself in a similar research situation. I have two marriages but not sure if there was a divorce or death. Still working on it. It also happens to be in Germany which makes it a challenge for me.

    1. Wow, that is a challenge! But keep at it. The fate of the Blakeslees was a longstanding brick wall for me, but fortunately persistence paid off. I wish the same for you.

  4. Glad you found that marriage notice with so much info. Newspapers can be such a help. But sometimes they bring up new questions. I look forward to hearing more.

    1. I am, too! The card file that led to the newspaper notice only had the name of the bride and groom…but the actual clip also had the name of the bride’s father, which led to much more information.

  5. How interesting that you were able to find the marriage notice and learn about your g.grandfather’s second wife, as well as their living near her family. Good sleuthing once again!

    1. Thanks, Barb. I was thrilled to find this info and grateful that the Susquehanna County Historical Society had the newspaper records I could not find online.

  6. Well done to find such an important clue! The nature of divorce and remarriage were clearly more complicated and nuanced social events in past times, not to mention more difficult on a legal level too. Did Zebulon gain any property by marrying Sarah Ann?

  7. You always have to wonder why things happened they way they did – why did Hannah & Zebulon part ways? Divorce was not at all prevalent back then. The reason must have been pretty serious. But for all the statistics and records discovered, they can’t tell the cause. Same with my great grandmother and great grandfather. I’ll always wonder why she left him with some of their adult children in England, and came to the U.S. with the younger ones? Forever a mystery!

    1. So true, and I do wonder about the reasons for their divorce. I plan to keep on sleuthing to see what I can uncover.

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