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Why isn't Grandpa Buried with Grandma?

[by Lynn Calvin, from HH Newsletter Oct/Nov 2003]

 

Back in July, we received an email at the County Historian's Office requesting our help in a Saratoga County cemetery. A minister from Michigan wrote that he was looking for information on the James Anderson family of Malta.  James' wife Rebecca Anderson was buried at the Dunning Street Cemetery, and the reverend gentleman wanted our assistance in finding whether James was buried there, too.   

            I verified that the gravestone inscription bore only the name and dates of the wife.  That much is online in our GenWeb site's page: 

 

     ANDERSON, Rebecca  4/21/1866  60y,  wife of James.

 

            James and Rebecca  Anderson appeared in the 1850 census listed in the Town of Malta as

family #109 in the sequence, and they were indicated to be 45 and 44 years old respectively.  They had living with them children Mary M. 15, Margaret 10, Thomas 7 and Catherine 4.   Also with them that year was listed Philip Mosher, age 21, apparently a farm hand.

            In the New York State Census of 1855, Rebecca was listed as head of a separate household.  She was then 50, listed in the same house as the household of Philip Mosher, 24, his wife Ann Eliza Mosher, 17, and his brother in law Thomas Anderson, age 12.  All the individuals in the Mosher household were listed as having been born in Saratoga County.

            A useful detail listed in that 1855 census is the column for "Years resident in this city or town."  The answer given for both Ann Eliza and for Rebecca was 17:  in that column for Philip Mosher was entered "13" and for Thomas Anderson, "12."  Additionally, Rebecca was still listed as an alien:  if her husband had been naturalized, at that time she would have acquired citizenship by virtue of James'  naturalization. 

            Rebecca is again listed alone at the 1860 Federal and 1865 State census.  In 1865 she was listed as a widow and a land owner.

            I was completely mystified and found no help in deeds.  There were several deeds to James Anderson in Malta, but no deed from either James or Rebecca disposing of the property after 1865.  Nor was there a deed from their son Thomas, who would probably have inherited the land.  I was able to find a mortgage, though, and the wording sounded intriguing.   In that mortgage, dated 15 March 1855 (before the census date of that year), "James Anderson of the Town of Malta" mortgaged to Lewis J. Fish of the same place two lots totaling about 51 acres.  The mortgage was "intended as a security for the payment three hundred and fifty dollars  and interest to the said party of the second part for the use and benefit of Rebecca Anderson wife of James Anderson...the said money to be paid according to the condition of a certain bond dated this day..."

            I next was fortunate to find recorded in the County Clerk's book-series titled "Miscellaneous Records" that bond, which begins:

            "This Indenture of three parts made this fifteenth day of March one thousand eight hundred and fifty five between James Anderson of the Town of Malta in the county of Saratoga of the first part and Rebecca Anderson his wife of the second part and Lewis J. Fish of the same place of the third part; Witnessed.  Whereas diverse unhappy disputes and differences have arisen between the said party of the first part and his said wife for which reason they have consented and agreed to live separate and apart from each other during their natural lives,..." and goes on to describe how much and in what manner the money and household goods are to be given to Rebecca.  She signed the document in agreeing to accept these goods and amounts "in full satisfaction for her support and maintenance and alimony whatever."  Both James and Rebecca signed by marking an X. 

            So this seems to resolve the reason why we find Rebecca buried alone in the Dunning Street Cemetery.   What happened to James may remain a mystery forever. 

            I communicated these findings to the reverend in Michigan, but he was apparently too mortified by the results to write again.   Another person searching for resolution of a similar situation may not be as fortunate in finding documentation of the reason for grandpa not being buried with grandma, but the answer is probably equally as logical as this turned out to be.  Grandpa may indeed be buried there, but circumstances may have precluded the placement of a gravestone.   Grandpa or grandma, whoever survived the other, may have moved some distance away to live in the household of one of their adult children.   Sometimes, however, careful examination of records will lead to a surprisingly reasonable answer to this perplexing problem.