I imagine the repetition of names from one generation to another adjacent one is customary for most families. It confuses the reader, and, frankly, me as the researcher. There are times I chatter on about the wrong person, pull back, and modify the story. I frequently lose my audience because I am untrustworthy failing to distinguish my Chaunceys, Freds and Leorias properly.
When C. Claude Barber names his son Fred Vernon after his father, we have two FVB’s in merely three generations, one is my uncle, the other is my great grandfather. Granddaddy Barber and his second wife, Sarah Elizabeth Dickson Barber, known to the small me as Grandma Dickie, have a house on Skaneateles Lake in New York when I am young. There is a photograph of me with honey blonde curls, a toddler, standing on the dock in my overalls with a child’s fishing pole complete with plastic fish on the end.
One Thanksgiving, we join the extended family at granddaddy’s home for the holiday dinner. A small bathroom sits just off the dining room, the door lining up with the head of the table. I am old enough to manage it by myself. As I return to my seat, a few steps from the door, a thousand, or a million, possibly, eyes turn on me and laughter fills the close room. My dress caught in my unmentionables, displaying them, particularly more than a lady should. This incident I never discuss with anyone. I wonder if my mother remembers it with the same embarrassment.
Granddaddy Barber surely had many colorful stories from his father, Daniel Joseph, the British Columbia prospector, and miner. He must have learned about his grandfather, the elusive Daniel S. In the June 19, 880 Afton, NY census, when this “Freddie” is 3, Emily Barber appears as his father’s mother, a widow. Daniel married a second wife, Emily? He is dead? We learn from Daniel Joseph’s 1912 second marriage license that his birth mother is Sarah Frost, as is his brother’s, William Henry, on his 1920 marriage certificate. The June 22, 1880, Afton, NY census on which Sarah Frost Barber, living with her daughter Alice Johnston and husband, Eli, lists herself as divorced. She did not answer “married” “divorced” or “widowed” in 1870 when she holds a position as a domestic servant with the youngest daughter, Martha, there, too. Is Sarah both divorced and widowed by 1880 when Emily Barber lives with Daniel Joseph and Fred Vernon? It isn’t until 1890 that Sarah represents herself as a widow to get Daniel S.’s Civil War Pension.
Emily is not likely a misspelling or misnomer of “Freddie’s” maternal grandmother. Ellen Hyde lives long beyond 1880 with her husband Chauncey.
We have the following information:
- 1865 – Colesville Census – Daniel and Sarah with children
- 1870 – Greene Census – Sarah and Martha living with Channing Davidson family
- 1880 – Afton Census – Emily Barber shows up as Daniel Joseph’s “mother”, or step-mother? and a widow
- 1880 – Afton Census – Sarah Barber declares herself divorced
- 1890 – Civil War Pension List – Sarah Barber applies for a pension as the widow of Daniel S.
With the exception of the Civil War Pension List, every census has the children with their appropriate ages on each roster. Add “Grandma Emily”, possibly the second wife of Daniel S., to the mystery!