Tuesday, September 13, 2011
The Courage of Hannah Pearson Pomeroy, by Alethea Connolly
“God will not look you over for medals, degrees, or diplomas, but for scars.” - Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)
When staff member Kate Pollack was transcribing several letters of Mary Spaulding Pomeroy [1785-1839] we discussed the harsh realities young women like Mary faced in the early 1800s. It was evident in the letters that Mary, a young widow living in Massachusetts, was dealing with sorrow and loneliness. A deep sadness and sense of isolation permeated her family correspondence. Despite the ultimate forward progress of the nation, and individual achievements and war time glory, these letters remind us that pioneer life was often a lonely, harsh struggle.
In Mary Spaulding Pomeroy’s case, strict religious beliefs shaped what was expected in handling life’s sorrows, what was acceptable to think, and say. A bereaved widow might mourn privately, but many daughters of Calvinist-trained clergymen were taught to avoid doubting the unseen wisdom and mercy of God, for such a questioning might bring on more misery as a divine punishment. And yet - many women and children, thrust into hardship, triumphed despite a boatload of grief dumped on their doorstep.
Shortly after reading about Mary Spaulding Pomeroy’s misfortunes, I discovered a Pomeroy family afflicted with extraordinary losses. I had been researching deeds at the Onondaga County clerk’s office. The grantor name on an 1867 Van Buren, N.Y. deed was Edward P. Pomeroy.1 When I checked our database to identify him, I learned he was one of fourteen children fathered by Rev. Thaddeus Pomeroy [1782-1858], a Congregational clergyman, who served many years in Gorham, Maine. 2
I examined the family births and deaths and learned that his mother, Catherine Pearson Pomeroy, died in 1831, when Edward was four, the same year his brother Thaddeus, and infant sister Catherine, died. Two years later, Harriet Karrist Ruberry Pomeroy, his step-mother, died.3 As I continued to read the family data file, I realized that only two of fourteen children born to Thaddeus Pomeroy (including those with his third wife Emily Bigelow) survived beyond age fourteen, most dying in infancy! Was this not a load of sorrow to carry?
Ten of these family deaths occurred in Gorham, Maine where Rev. Thaddeus was pastor between 1820 and 1840. What was going on in Gorham during those years? What virulent diseases had swept through, anchored in the town, and seemed to lay waiting for other victims in this unfortunate household? It is likely the great cholera epidemic of 1831, took three of them. Perhaps typhus. And then more cholera. Was there a genetic predisposition; a vulnerability?
It seemed hopeful that Thaddeus, and third wife Emily, might escape from this dark shadow of loss. But that did not happen. Their first three children died. Thaddeus and Emily moved to Onondaga County, with the two remaining children of his first wife Catherine Pearson, where they had many Pomeroy relations.4 While Thaddeus found periodic employment as a minister, he also turned to farming. Their hopes must have been buoyed by the fact that a son born in 1843, Henry Bigelow Pomeroy, was doing well as he became a young teenager. That hope was dashed in 1857, however, when Henry died at age fourteen. He was buried in DeWitt, N. Y.5 Rev. Thaddeus Pomeroy died the following year.
How do parents hold on to faith and hope enduring such tragedies as these? Had they done something wrong to bring on divine retribution? Beyond these troubling questions of punishment, guilt, and faith is another. What burdens of sorrow and fear did those two surviving children carry into adulthood? How did Hannah Pearson Pomeroy and her younger brother, Edward P. Pomeroy soldier on in their lives?
EDWARD P. POMEROY
Edward married Mary L. Palmer and both lived for a time in Onondaga County, in DeWitt, and Van Buren.5 He was a teacher between 1846-1850, but later turned to farming.6 His name is on an 1863 Civil War enlistment register recording his residency as Van Buren. Property records show that he sold land in Van Buren, N. Y. in 1865.7 No war service records have been found so far. I could not locate Edward after these dates. He was not with his wife and two children, Charles and Addie, who, according to federal census records were living with her parents in Wayne County in 1870 and 1880.8 The 1880 census showed that Mary was divorced from Edward, so that explains the separation.
Three years ago, when I was examining a diary of Harry D. Pomeroy, a cousin of Edward, I saw a clipping pressed into the crevice of pages, a brief death notice printed in the smallest font I’ve ever seen. Only one short sentence reported that Edward P. Pomeroy had committed suicide on June 4, in 1888 while visiting his sister in Harpswell, Maine.9 A Maine newspaper obituary found soon after confirmed his death.10 At the time of finding his short obituary, I had not known much about his childhood or adult life. Now I do. Whatever burdens Edward carried, he had, it seemed, lost hope.
HANNAH PEARSON POMEROY
For Hannah Pearson Pomeroy Kellogg, her brother’s suicide, in her own backyard, must have dredged up painful emotions of the past. Hannah, as the eldest, had witnessed numerous family disasters, yet managed, to hold on to life. Before she was ten years old, she had lost her mother and four brothers and sisters. That is a lot of sadness. There is more. By the time she was twelve years old, two year old Thaddeus, and her stepmother had also been buried in the family plot. Only she and her brother Edward survived in the household until her father married Emily Bigelow in 1836.11
A stepmother might have been a relief, and possibly a support to a young teenage girl and a nine year boy, whose lives had been circumscribed by dreadful losses. Unfortunately, as shown, all three of Emily’s children died in the next three years. Two of these were twins. A fourth child, a son, Henry Bigelow Pomeroy, was born in 1843.12
What does it take to survive such experiences? Psychologists today speak of post-traumatic shock and severe emotional stresses as damaging to one’s personal development. There is much evidence to support that assertion. But, the truth also is, with due respect to the unique differences of DNA, outlook, and real life experiences, some children stagger, or plunge, forward, find some resilience, get engaged in some service, discover some creative supports, or just keep putting one foot in front of the other, carrying one’s cross, as some would say, without too much thought that this isn’t what life requires. Whatever it was, Hannah had it, or found it.
HANNAH PEARSON POMEROY MARRIES REV. ELIJAH KELLOGG
She was in her thirties when she finally left her father’s house. In 1855, she married an older man, Rev. Elijah Kellogg, a Congregational minister, who knew her father when the Pomeroys lived in Gorham, Maine.13
It is impossible without direct testimony, or letters, to assess whether Hannah found happiness at last, but at least their children survived into adulthood.14 Hannah and Elijah lived much of their life in Massachusetts and Maine. In the 1860s and 70s, Rev. Kellogg, for many years chaplain to seamen when living in Boston, embarked on a career of writing. In all, he had thirty books published, several popular series for boys including “The Pleasant Cove Stories,” “The Whispering Pine Series, “The Good Old Times Series.”15 This was not a dark and gloomy man.
The Kelloggs had two children, Frank Gilman and Mary Catherine, and both married, and had children. We also know that their father surrounded them with stories of strength, hope, and adventure because he created these stories. As adults, Frank and Mary Catherine lived on the same street in Melrose Highlands, Massachusetts for many years.16
Elijah Kellogg’s obituary in 1901, was an eloquent testimony to his unique career as an author, and a plain speaking minister.17 We know less about Hannah, as the role of “keeping house” was seldom noteworthy enough for journalistic tributes. She died in 1891.18 Her childhood was not the stuff of “Pleasant Cove” or “Good Old Times” but if stories of courage and resilience are sought, her life offers much to inspire.
Only the children of Catherine Pearson Pomeroy survived to bear grandchildren, who then married and had children of their own. The children of Hannah Pearson Pomeroy and Rev. Elijah Kellogg lived near each other on North Street in Melrose, Massachusetts much of their lives. Frank G. Kellogg was, in 1900, in the wholesale jewelry business, and was the father of three children – Frank C., b. 1881, Florence, b. 1885, and Chester E, b. 1888.19
Mary Catherine had married Harry Batchelder, and they had four children- Lawrence K., b. 1886, Alice E., b. 1888, Eleanor, b. 1897, and Hugh M, b. 1899. Mary Catherine had been a teacher before marriage; and Harry was in 1900 a bookkeeper in an upholstery business. 20
Do the Pomeroy, Kellogg and Batchelder descendants know that their grandmother triumphed through a trail a tears to bring their parents into life with hope, and strength and courage?
And what of Addie Pomeroy, Edward P. Pomeroy’s daughter, and Charles his son? Do their descendants know of the challenges that afflicted their ancestors?
1. Edward Pomeroy household, 1860 U. S. Census, DeWitt, Onondaga County, New York, P. 333, Dwelling 1410, Family 1414, National Archives microfilm 653_829. Also, Indenture, Onondaga County Clerk, Van Buren, New York, Edward P. Pomeroy, & Mary L. Book 163, P. 321, sealed 15 Apr, 1865, recd 13 Feb, 1867.
2. Hugh D. McLellan. History of Gorham, ME (Katherine B. Lewis), 1902, p. 726
3. Ancestry.com. Charleston Observer (South Carolina), Marriages and Deaths [database on-line], Provo, Utah, The Generations Network, Inc., 1998. Original data: Holcomb, Brent, Marriages and Death Notices from the Charleston Observer, 1827-1845, Greenville, South Carolina, A Press, 1980; also: familysearch.org, Maine Deaths and Burials, 1841-1910, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
4. McLellan, op. cit., also familysearch.org, Maine Deaths and Burials, 1841-1910, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
5. Onondaga County Public Library, WPA files, OCPL online [http://www.onlib.org/dbtw-wpd/textbase/wpaquery.html]; also Dewitt North Orville Cemetery, USGenWeb Onondaga County, New York online [http://www.rootsweb.com/%&Enyononda/CEMETERY/DEWITT HTM]
6. Thadeus Pomeroy household, 1850 U. S. Census, DeWitt, Onondaga County, New York, P. 364, Dwelling 1428, Family 1445; National Archives microfilm publication M342_570; also Edward Pomeroy household, 1860 U. S. Census, DeWitt, Onondaga County, New York, P. 333, Dwelling 1410, Family 1414, National Archives microfilm 653_829.
7. Indenture, Onondaga Count, New York, Edward P. Pomeroy and Mary L, to E. Bowman, Book 163, p. 321, Van Buren, Lot 22, sealed 15 Apr 1865, recorded: 13 Feb 1867. Also, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal General’s Bureau; Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865); Record Group Number: 110; Title: Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War); Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865 (Civil War Union Draft Records); ARC Identifies: 4213514; Archive Volume Number: 3 of 3.
8. Ancestry.com, Rensalace Palmer household; 1870; Ontario, Wayne County, New York; Roll:M593_1112; P.322B; Image:651; Family History Library Film: 5526ll. Ranselaer Palmer household; 1880, Ontario, Wayne County, New York; Roll:944, FHF:1254944; P. 295D; ED: 184; Image:0292.
9. Clipping, Edward P. Pomeroy death, 1888 Diary of Harry D. Pomeroy, Onondaga Historical Association, Syracuse, NY.; Also, McLellan, op. cit.
10. Springfield Republican, Springfield, ME, 5 Jun 1888, e-mail of Cary Clements, Obituary of E. P. Pomeroy to Alethea Connolly, 4 Aug 2008
11. Albert A. Pomeroy, History and Genealogy of the Pomeroy Family Collateral Lines in Family Groups; Reprinted Higginson Book Company, 1912, Salem, Massachusetts. Also, Thadeus Pomeroy household, 1850 U. S. Census, DeWitt, Onondaga County, New York, P. 364, Dwelling 1428, Family 1445; National Archives microfilm publication M342_570.
12. Onondaga County Public Library, WPA files, OCPL online [http://www.onlib.org/dbtw-wpd/textbase/wpaquery.html];
13. Springfield Republican, Springfield, ME, 5 Jun 1888, e-mail of Cary Clements, Obituary of E. P. Pomeroy to Alethea Connolly, 4 Aug 2008; also U. S. Census, 1870, Harpswell, Cumberland, Maine; Roll:M593_540; P. 354A; Image: 182; Dwelling: 352, Family: 374; FHLF: 552039; Abiel Homes Wright, Story, song and sermon with an autobiographical sketch, p. 245, Googlebooks.
14. U. S. Census, 1880 Elijah Kellogg household, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts; Roll:555; FHF: 1254555; P. 321B; ED: 643; Image:0024
15. “Rev. Elijah Kellogg Dead, New York Times, March 18, 1901, online http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf? ; also Nathan Goold, “Rev. Elijah Kellogg And His Ancestry,” Portland Sunday Telegram, March 17, 1901: also Bowdoin College George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives: Kellogg Family Collection..
16. U. S. Census, 1900, Melrose Ward 1, Middlesex, Massachusetts; Roll: T623_663; Page:6B, ED: 877, Frank Kellogg household, North Avenue Dwelling: 142; Family: 142. Harry Batchelder household (Mary C) Dwelling:145, Family 145
17. See footnote 15.
18. Hannah, P. Kellogg, Ancestry.com. Maine Death Records, 1617-1922 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA.
19. U. S. Census, 1900, Melrose Ward 1, Middlesex, Massachusetts; Roll: T623_663; Page:6B, ED: 877, Frank Kellogg household, North Avenue Dwelling: 142; Family: 142. Harry Batchelder household (Mary C) Dwelling:145, Family 145.