Tag Archives: Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee

1840-50: Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee’s early married years

Sepia Saturday 493: Second in a new series on why my third great-grandmother Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee may have left her marriage in 1858.

In the quest to figure out why my third great-grandmother left her marriage in 1858, I examined what I have discovered so far about her early married life. On the surface, it appears unremarkable.

Sometime after the 1830 birth of their first child Rhoda Ann, my third great-grandparents Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee moved just across the border, from Lawsville in Susquehanna County, Penna., to Broome County, N.Y. — most likely settling in or near Hannah’s Conklin, N.Y., birthplace.

http://psa.powerlibrary.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/pc/id/13561/rec/1
Susquehanna River valley where New York and Pennsylvania meet (1912). By 1850, my third great-grandmother Hanna, 38, had lived her entire life within a ten-mile radius of where she was born. If she had hopes that her Connecticut-born husband Zebulon might show her a wider world, they were not realized during their marriage. Yet was that enough reason to leave him? Image: powerlibrary.org

Their second daughter — my great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull — was born in Broome County in 1839 (according to Mary’s death certificate and her enumerations in the 1865 New York State[1]1865 N.Y.S. census: FamilySearch requires free login to view records. and 1870 federal[2]1870 U.S. census: FamilySearch requires free login to view records. censuses.). Hannah was then 27.

In 1846 Zebulon was appointed postmaster of Shawsville, Broome Co., N.Y., and by 1850 he and Hannah were living on a 80-acre Conklin, N.Y., farm. Their daughter Rhoda, 19, lived next door with her husband William Whitney, 31. Hannah was then 38, and her daughter Mary, 12, was still at home.

As she approached 40, my third great-grandmother Hannah had lived her entire life in a sparsely populated rural area within a ten-mile radius of where she was born. If she had hopes that her Connecticut-born husband Zebulon might show her a wider world, they were not realized during their marriage. Yet was that enough reason to leave him?

https://cdm16694.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p261501coll8/id/93/rec/1
Nine women with rakes (circa 1890-1920). For women, the social aspects of farm labor may have helped compensate for its physicality. So the difficulties of farm life alone may not have been sufficient reason for Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee to leave her husband in 1858. Photo: Franck Taylor Bowers collection – Broome County Historical Society

Daily life on the farm

Wondering about Hannah’s daily life, my research led me to a scholarly paper about Pennsylvania agriculture circa 1800-1840, The paper contains an interesting passage, quoted below, about laboring on a farm in that period — which likely applied to nearby, cross-border New York farms as well.

Family and neighborhood labor dominated during this period. Men, women, and children all contributed work toward the family sustenance; there was a gender division of labor, but it was flexible. Men usually worked at lumbering, clearing land, building fence[s], and raising field crops, while women and children tended livestock, made dairy products, and preserved food.

But diarist Philip Fithian travelled in Lycoming County in the late eighteenth century and reported seeing even elite daughters milking and reaping, and George Dunklebarger, in his Story of Snyder County, claimed that “many of the women were as skilled with the sickle as were the men.”

http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/portal/communities/agriculture/files/context/agriculture_in_the_settlement_period.pdf
Pennsylvania’s Historical Agricultural Regions. The Blakeslees began their married life in Susquehanna County’s northern tier grasslands –which extended north across the border into Conklin, Broome County, N.Y., where they later farmed in 1850. Source: phmc.state.pa.us

A history of Lycoming County remarked that during the early days “It was a common occurrence for a woman to walk fifteen miles or more, a great homemade basket filled with butter, eggs, and farm produce balanced on her head.” Everyone participated in maple sugaring and often in haying and harvesting too. “Bees” for sugaring, house raising, husking, and other jobs made work a social event.

Longtime readers of Molly’s Canopy will remember the 300 pounds of butter that were produced on the Blakeslee farm in 1850. According to the excerpt above, that output may well have been due to the hard work of Hannah and her daughters!

Not enough reason to leave

Yet if life on the farm was demanding in the mid-1800s, the challenge was also widely experienced by other rural women of the period. And the social aspects of the work — when small farming communities pitched in at harvest and other times — may have helped compensate for the physicality of the labor.

Thus the difficulties of farm life alone do not seem like reason enough for Hannah to leave her marriage, either. There must have been some other cause — perhaps some abrupt change — that prompted her departure.

Up next: Seeking clues in Hannah’s later married 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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References

References
1 1865 N.Y.S. census: FamilySearch requires free login to view records.
2 1870 U.S. census: FamilySearch requires free login to view records.

1858: Why did Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee leave her marriage?

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.

Two previous series have examined the Blakeslees’ separation — and their ultimate divorce in 1866. Yet I have found no record giving Hannah’s motivation for taking the path she chose.

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.

1882: Going into the World by Evert Jan Boks (1838-1914). The decision by my third great-grandmother Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee to leave her husband in 1858 cannot have been easy. Yet apparently once she had made the tough choice, she never looked back. Image: mimimatthews.com

Hannah’s childhood

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.

Image by 12019 on Pixabay
A New York Farm. The small, rural hamlet of Lawsville, Susquehanna Co., Penna., 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.

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. census[1]1830 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.[2]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.

© 2019 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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References

References
1 1830 U.S. census: FamilySearch requires free login to view records.
2 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 parents.

Series Summary: The 1866 divorce of Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee

Sepia Saturday 491: A recap of the series on the 1866 divorce of my third great-grandparents — what the court records reveal.

The surprise discovery that a my paternal third great-grandparents Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee were divorced in Pennsylvania in 1866 led me on a quest for the records of their divorce case.

https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/66b6f080-a7ca-0136-2f49-0d2629ed7326
Divorce the lesser evil (1900). Original caption: The Church  – Stop this awful immorality! Justice – You are wrong! Divorce is rather an aid to morality. Statistics prove that countries where divorces are granted are more moral than countries that forbid them! Source: NYPL Digital Collections

After a Genealogy Road Trip to the Susquehanna County seat in Montrose, Penna., I worked with courthouse staff to locate and obtain copies of my ancestors’ divorce papers — research that was well worth the effort!

The court records gave surprising details about my third great-grandparents’ separation and eventual divorce, and also raised new questions about why Hannah left Zebulon in 1858 — to be explored in future posts.

For now, here’s a recap of what the court records revealed about my Blakeslee ancestors’ nineteenth century divorce.

Divorce law, petition and subpoenas

Depositions and new questions

Divorce decree

Dec. 1865: Divorce subpoena addressed to Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee. In the 1800s, divorces were common enough in Susquehanna County, Penna., to justify printing fill-in-the-blank subpoena forms. However, Hannah lived beyond the court’s jurisdiction and did not respond to hers. Photo: Molly Charboneau

One mystery remains…

Many thanks to the readers of Molly’s Canopy for following along throughout this Blakeslee series and the previous one, and posting insightful comments.

If you are new to Molly’s Canopy, you may also want to check out the prequel to the Blakeslees’ divorce proceedings in The Odd 1860 Separation of Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee.

One mystery remains: Why did Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee leave her marriage in 1858, never to return? Some thoughts on this in the next post. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2019 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin