Category Archives: Sherman

1873-1880: Shoemaker Zebulon Blakeslee’s final years

Sepia Saturday 480: Ninth in a series on the odd 1860 separation of my great-great-great grandparents Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee — a summertime census mystery.

After his second marriage to Sarah Ann Sherman, my third great-grandfather Zebulon Blakeslee, 56, recast his life yet again and took on a new career: shoemaker. I couldn’t help wondering how that came about.

Shoemaker at his bench (1875). After his second marriage in 1867, my ggg grandfather Zebulon Blakeslee went on to yet another career as a shoemaker in the 1870s — a job he worked at for the rest of his life. Photo:

As a younger man Zebulon had been a farmer, elocutionist, postmaster and tavern owner — and even a local merchant with his own store. But after divorcing my third great-grandmother Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee in 1866, he left all that behind — starting over in Jessup, Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania where he married Sarah Ann in 1867.

A new career

Zebulon’s new challenge appeared to be how to earn a living in middle age in an area where he was unknown. In 1870, at 60, he was working as a “day hand” — possibly for Sarah Ann’s father, Abel Sherman, who owned the farm next door. But farm labor may not have been satisfying work for a man of his eclectic talents — and it may also have become more difficult as he aged.

Whatever the reasons, by 1873 Zebulon, 63, had found a new calling — and he began to appear in the Jessup Township tax rolls in the taxable occupation of “shoemaker.” In 1880, Zebulon was still working as a shoemaker during the federal census — the last one in which he was tallied at age 70.
Shoemaker’s tools. Having been a merchant, postmaster, elocutionist, tavern owner and farmer, in the 1870s my ggg grandfather Zebulon Blakeslee, 63, picked up a new set of tools and became a shoemaker — a job that likely fit his entrepreneurial personality. Graphic: Pinterest

Shoemaker: An essential profession

Zebulon appears to have had a knack for finding jobs that were essential to the communities in which he lived — and working as a shoemaker was no different.

Making and repairing shoes, whether for work or dress, required skill and a whole array of specific tools. And in the 1870s, before the mass production of footwear, a town’s shoemaker could count on a steady stream of customers.

Zebulon would have been familiar with the business end of the operation, too, since he owned and operated a store for many years in Brookdale, Susquehanna Co., Penna. And shoemaking, which generally required sitting at a bench to do the work, was less physically taxing for an older worker than many of his previous occupations.

1880: RIP Zebulon Blakeslee

In the end, it appears that both his job and his second marriage brought stability that saw Zebulon through his senior years.

And on my recent research trip to Montrose, Penna., I finally learned when and where he died — breaking through a longstanding brick wall.

The Susquehanna County Historical Society card files contained an excerpted notice of his death at age 73 — on 16 Dec. 1880 in the hamlet of Fairdale, Jessup Township, Susquehanna Co., Penna. Thus I was able to obtain a printout of the newspaper announcement (below) from the 27 Dec. 1880 Montrose Democrat.

Montrose Democrat (27 Dec. 1880). On a road trip to Montrose, Susquehanna Co., Penna. I finally found the date and place of death of my third great-grandfather Zebulon  Blakeslee — breaking through a longstanding brick wall in my ancestral research. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Although I have not yet found where Zebulon was buried, I am nevertheless gratified to have finally solved the mystery of what became of him after he and my third great-grandmother Hannah separated and divorced.

More to come…

Yet this is not end of the story of my Blakeslee third great-grandparents. During the writing of the last few posts, I continued pursuing the search for Hannah and Zebulon’s divorce records — and I may soon have them!

So more to come once the records and decree are in hand — and hopefully some clarity on what precipitated their separation and divorce.

Up next: Ancestors-in-law: The Shermans of Jessup, Susquehanna Co., Penna. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2019 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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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:

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.