Sepia Saturday 492: First in a new series on why my third great-grandmother Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee may have left her marriage in 1858.
Major personal crossroads are reached by a winding path extending back for years. Deciding how to move forward draws from the deep well of an individual’s life experience — even when the choice of which path to take is spurred by an immediate event.
Such was the situation I believe my third great-grandmother Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee faced when, at 46, she left her husband — my third great-grandfather Zebulon Blakeslee — on 1 Nov. 1858, never to return.
So this new series will endeavor to circumstantially answer the remaining mystery: Why did Hannah leave? And what better place to begin than with Hannah’s personal history.
Hannah was born on 8 Feb. 1812, most likely in Conklin, Broome Co., N.Y. She was the fourth of six children — with three older siblings (brother Isaac and sisters Catherine and Rachel) and two younger (sister Lydia and brother Asher).
Her parents were my fourth great-grandparents — Waples Hance (1760-1843) from Shrewsbury, Monmouth Co., N.J., and his second wife Rachel Chapman (1784-1837) of the Conklin area.
Waples settled in Conklin circa 1788. However, allegedly due to a land dispute he moved just across the border into Pennsylvania — where from 1815 his farm, home and livestock appear on the tax rolls of Lawsville in Susquehanna County’s Liberty Township.
Hannah was three when her family moved to Lawsville — where her father continued paying taxes until his death in 1843.
Thus small, rural Lawsville became Hannah’s childhood home — with her immediate world a sparsely populated agricultural expanse punctuated by forested hills straddling the New York-Pennsylvania border south of Binghamton, N.Y.
Early marriage and motherhood
Not surprising in these circumstances that Hannah married at age 16 — younger than the average marriage age of 20-22 for nineteenth century women — and chose a man who, like her father, was from elsewhere.
My third great-grandfather Zebulon Blakeslee was born in Connecticut in 1807. In his divorce petition he stated that he and Hannah married on 19 Nov. 1828. He was 21 at the time — five years Hannah’s senior.
What were her hopes for marriage to Zebulon? A solid partnership with a good provider? A stable, hardworking father for her children? Or a chance to leave Lawsville and see a bit of the world? There is no way to know without direct testimony from Hannah.
Suffice to say that by the time of the 1830 U.S. census1830 U.S. census: FamilySearch requires free login to view records. Hannah and Zebulon were living in Lawsville a few houses down from her parents — where court records indicate Zebulon had bought land in 1827.
And on 7 Dec. 1830, at age 18, Hannah gave birth to their first daughter Rhoda Ann Blakeslee.New York. Department of Health, transcribed certificate and record of death- Registered No. 194 (1902) Roda A. Whitney; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Albany. Names Zebulon and Hannah Blakeslee as her … Continue reading
Up next: Hannah’s early married life with Zebulon. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.
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