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.
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.
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).
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 listed 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 18601and 18702he 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 two houses down from 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 of cousins-in-law out there — descendants of Sarah Ann’s younger brother Charles Sherman and his wife Hannah.3
Up next: Zebulon Blakeslee’s final years. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.
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