Saturday, May 18, 2013

Name Changes: Finally Knit Together

I intended this blog to be only about my knitting and needlework (crochet, tatting), but I don't seem to make new entries. At the same time I realize I should be blogging about genealogy.

Do I really want four blogs? No. I choose sanity over blog proliferation.

So Knitted Together will include both knitting and genealogy. Not much of a stretch. Both are my hobbies, and I usually knit up a storm when I'm on a genealogy trip. I can only face the screens of every so often (what a search engine. not).

My female ancestors, and at least one of the men, knitted. Benjamin Schell told his grandson that he and his family "wove" stockings in the winter time when he was a youth. 2Great-Grandma Tryphena Northway Reasoner knitted socks for sale in Oregon. I'm happy to follow in their stocking footsteps! I love knitting socks and wearing interesting colors and styles on my feet. So I will have occasional knitting entries here, too. But the focus is now officially changed to genealogy.

I am taking steps to have Rebecca's stone repaired.

This week, I have found a family member who may or may not have knitted. I suspect she did: most women born in 1819 learned as a matter of course. Her name was Rebecca Ritchie (but her spellings may vary!); possibly Richey, Ritchey, Richy, or any other variant of the name. I've been trying to find her for 15 years or more. She had a difficult life.

She first came to my attention on her marriage certificate. When she married Dennis Dolbow in Macoupin County, Illinois, in 1843, her maiden name was listed as Rebecca Ritchie. Of course, with her marriage she became Rebecca Ritchie Dolbow. Unfortunately, sometime between the 1850 and 1860 censuses, it appears that Dennis died. There was no divorce record, and likewise no death notice, will, grave marker, or property transfer. Rebecca was counted twice: once in Beardstown, Cass County, Illinois, as a widow with children, and once with her new husband in Meredosia, Morgan County, Illinois (just south of Beardstown. With this new marriage she became Rebecca Ritchie/Dolbow/Freeman.

The next in a series of tragedies struck when her oldest son, Eli Dolbow, signed up with the cavalry to fight in the Civil War. He died of illness in a hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, and his effects were sent home to his grieving mother and stepfather in 1861. His sister, Emma Dolbow, and youngest brother, William Dolbow, stayed with their mother and stepfather. Emma married a Civil War veteran, Elijah Hickman, in 1865 and gave Rebecca three grandchildren. But Elijah had been injured, and he and Emma probably had money problems.

When Rebecca's second husband, Reeve Freeman, died in 1872, all his property was sold to satisfy the family debts, leaving Rebecca virtually penniless. Only six months later, Emma was left widowed with three small children. She applied for a widow's pension on the basis of Elijah's disability pension, but was denied. Why? It took me years to find out.

When I finally received a copy of Emma's pension application, it answered the question of why she'd been denied, and told me what happened to Rebecca, too! She did not die, widowed, pennilless and alone, in Illinois-- she and William came to California with Emma and the children! Rebecca and William signed Emma's pension application in January, 1875, in Colusa County, California.

I have a photo of a family Bible page written by Emma, showing Rebecca (Ritchie/Dolbow) Freeman's death date as 22 November 1878, but it does not list a location.  So this week, Robert and I drove to Colusa County. Sure enough! Not only did Emma marry my great-grandfather there, her mother and brother were with her: he registered to vote as William James Dolbow.

Rebecca Freeman died 22 Nov 1878 in Spring Valley, Colusa County, California-- laid to rest by her family, and, I discovered, with other family members too. For in a family plot in the College City Cemetery with Rebecca are six Ritchie burials! The oldest family member buried there is Crawford Ritchey, and it appears that Crawford might be Rebecca's brother. In fact, given that her birth year and his are the same (at least on their grave markers), they may even have been twins.

I have many unanswered questions, but my Ritchie brick wall is beginning to crumble. If Crawford is indeed Rebecca's brother, she not only had the support of her children and son-in-law, but her brother and his family as well. What a happy ending for Rebecca's difficult life!

No comments: