Sepia Saturday 464. Seventh in a series on the early life of my paternal great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull, a Union Civil War widow.
Around 1854 my great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull, 16, said goodbye to her school chums and neighbors in Conklin Centre, N.Y., and moved six miles south with her parents to Brookdale, Penna.
Not a distant move by today’s standards — but it must have seemed a world away to a teenager in the 1850s.
Why her parents Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee chose to leave their Conklin farm is unclear. But move they did — because around 1854 Zebulon began to show up in records related to Brookdale, Penna.
A traveling postmaster
When the family relocated, Mary’s dad took at least one of his jobs with him — that of rural postmaster.
According to the U.S. Post Office Dept.’s Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-19711 Zebulon Blakeslee was appointed postmaster of Brookdale, Susquehanna, Penna. on 16 July 1854 — and reappointed the following year.
That Zebulon would continue as a postmaster is not surprising, since he was previously postmaster of Conklin Centre N.Y. from 1851-53. And prior to that he was postmaster in neighboring Shawsville, N.Y. from 1846-49.2
So this was a decade-long career for Zebulon — and all the better for Mary, since she could easily get stamps to correspond with her Conklin Centre friends and with her married older sister Rhoda Ann (Blakeslee) Whitney, who stayed behind.
A Brookdale merchant
Zebulon’s post office position was also referenced in a Centennial History of Susquehanna County, published in 1887 — in a passage that describes a new calling for him: Brookdale merchant.
This is consistent with a letter I received from a Susquehanna County Historical Society researcher confirming that she found Zebulon Blakeslee on the Liberty Township tax rolls in 1857 (merchant $25) and 1858 (merchant $25, real+acre $30).
Back with family
I read the above passage with interest, because the name Anson A. Beeman rang a bell. A quick look at previous research confirmed that he was the husband of Rachel (Hance) Beeman — an older sister of Mary’s mother Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee.3
The map above also shows a property in the upper right marked “I. Hance” likely owned by another relative — Hannah’s older brother Issac.4
So my teenage great-great grandmother Mary may have left her sister, friends, acquaintances and neighbors behind, but she was back with family in Brookdale — where she had a whole host of Hance-Beeman cousins, judging by the 1850 federal census returns for the nearby households of her uncles Anson A. Beeman,5an innkeeper, and Issac Hance,6a farmer.
And in Brookdale, before long, Mary would be starting a family of her own.
Up next: My great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull meets her husband. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.
© 2019 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.