Retired Director, APHGA
Mary Ann Pomeroy (1839-1882), Mary Ann Coe’s granddaughter
and namesake. In 1865, she married Sergeant
Merrick Collins Smith in Sandusky, OH.
Readers of our blog may recall the November 2011 post about Nancy Maliwesky’s research into the elusive story of Mary Ann Coe Pomeroy. You can read (or reread) it here. Nancy completed the draft of a publication prior to her retirement, although unanswered questions remained about parts of Mary Ann’s life story. Hoping our readers may be able to help fill in some of these gaps - and knowing you'll find it as fascinating as we do - we’re presenting Running Barefoot as a weekly series. We welcome your comments, suggestions and insight! Please feel free to share this blog with others who may be interested.
A brief overview of Mary Ann’s story:
- Born in 1790 in Ballstown (now Ballston), NY, Mary Ann moved with her parents to Pompey, NY where she married Spencer Pomeroy in March 1807.
- In August 1807, Mary Ann and Spenser’s first child, Francis W., was born. Their second child Edwin was born in October 1809.
- Mary Ann had moved to Norwalk, OH by 1823, presumable with her 2 sons.
- In May 1827, Mary Ann petitioned the court in Norwalk, OH for a divorce from Spencer. The petition was not approved.
- Mary Ann and husband(?) Benjamin Junkins lived in Norwalk until his death in June 1830. Mary Ann was named administrator of Benjamin’s estate.
- Spencer Pomeroy died in Pompey, NY in May 1833. Mary Ann married David Powers (brother-in-law of President Millard Fillmore) that same month.
- Mary Ann’s divorce from Spencer was filed in the Ohio courts in August 1834.
- Mary Ann and David moved to Sandusky, OH where Mary Ann died of cholera in 1854. She was buried in the Cholera Cemetery.
One of the most fascinating and relatively new genealogical tools that I’ve become involved with is DNA research. I consider myself a novice in this field, and have relied heavily on several gracious experts for help understanding the meanings behind these tests. A good friend, and DNA expert, Blaine Bettinger, told me once that there are now two types of ancestry – your genealogical ancestry and your genetic ancestry. Well, this has certainly turned out to be the case in doing research into Bill’s family.
This is the story of Bill Pomeroy's search to find the break in his genetic lineage. Having extensively researched his Pomeroy line and being able to trace his lineage back to Eltweed Pomeroy who emigrated from England to the British Colonies in America about 1631, Bill was one of the early participants of the Pomeroy YDNA study. As the first participant with a documented lineage back to Eltweed, his YDNA profile was identified as the Eltweed strain. When other documented Eltweed descendants later participated in the study, an unexpected result occurred. While the other Eltweed descendants matched each other genetically, none matched Bill’s profile. In fact, other than Bill’s cousins, Bill has had no Pomeroy matches at all.
Where did the break in the DNA originate? A YDNA test of a descendant of Pliny Pomeroy, Jr. matches with other Eltweed Pomeroy descendants. Was the break with Spencer? Was Spencer adopted? It seems unlikely because he was a twin. Can we test a descendant of Spencer's twin Charlotte to see if that person matches with Bill by using the new autosomal test available through FamilyTree Finder? We know of a direct descendant of Charlotte. Can we find her and pay for the test? As descendants of Spencer and Charlotte, if she matches Bill would that mean that both Spencer and Charlotte were adopted? If she does not match Bill, would we need to find another Pliny descendant to take the autosomal test to see if the descendant of Charlotte matches the descendant of Pliny Jr.? If they match, does that mean that the break in the line happened with Spencer and/or his descendants?
Why does Mary Ann so fascinate me? Perhaps because she seemingly followed her own path and did not see fit to live within the accepted morals of the day. I think we all like to believe that we live that way; I certainly do, to a point. Are we looking at Mary Ann from the context of the time period in which she lived, or are we assigning present day standards and morals to her life choices? It’s difficult to do otherwise, as we have so very little insight into what Mary Ann thought of her own life. The evidence of Mary Ann's life and life decisions are almost all second hand, not her opinion of herself. These come from legal documents, mentions of her in letters and journals, newspapers, etc. We have only found two letters written by Mary Ann, in her own handwriting. The first, dated 14 Aug 1849, was written to her sister-in-law, Abigail Powers Fillmore, in Buffalo, New York. Abigail was the wife of Millard Fillmore, then Vice President of the United States of America:
We received your letter this morning Saying you Should look for us on Tuesday, but your Brother was Brought so low that he thinks he is not sufficiently Strong to undertake the journey yet, Doct Morton thinks he would hardly bear the journey without a relapse although he is gaining as fast as can reasonably be expected, he has a good appetite lives mostly on kin [?] & milck Tea & soda crackers all light food he rides in an easy carriage every day, but he has got to be extremely careful for Some time & nursed with tenderness or he will Sink under it, but rest assured he has all that, he thinks We Shall certainly visit you before the five of Oct his business in the Post Office is somewhat deranged in consequence of his Clerks being sick but they have returned & we hope they will discharge the duty of the Office until he is able to assiste them – my hired Girl left me the day after Mr. Powers was taken Sick & one of my Neighbours has kindly let me have one of her Daughters for a Short time I wish we could get a good Dutch girl that would stay as long as we wanted to hire * Mr. Powers has three Clerks in the Office & it makes us quite a family – Mr. Powers is in the bed and Sarah is reading to him do you not think of visiting us this fall we Should be truly glad to See you. I am happy to Say the Cholera nearly left our City I have heard of only one case today, we are sorry to learn that Mary is no better our love to all we remain
Mary Ann Powers
Note please write soon
[in left gutter:] *can one be procured in Buffalo”
Sister Mary received your kind Letter & was glad to hear from you (as we all were.) She was much grieved at Orphas affliction for the loss of her Dear Husband She Says I must Say to you that She is no worse now Than before She left Buffalo, She was verry tired & it took a week before She got rested but now is about as usual, She Suffers much with pain & is verry patient – She wishes you would send the Castors to her Bedstead, & her window Curtain – She wants you to write again before you leave Buffalo – She is quite at home & Contented but Wants to hear from Orpha again – Margaret is verry kind and attentive to all her wants she wishes to say to her friends that she is well & contented She likes Sandusky well Mary She was glad that Abigail wrote & sends her best love to you all we hope we shall hear from you after when you get to your new home – Sarah wishes me to write a few lines for her –
Dear Abbie I was very glad to hear from you I often think of the pleasant hours I Spent at Your house * the kindnesses I received from your Mother & you, I Shall Long Cherish your Love and kindness to me I She wishes I She could hear you play & Powers Sing"
Fare Well Dear Friends
Sarah Powers | M A Powers”
A few clues in the letter help us to fix an approximate date. First, Orpha, daughter of Cyrus Powers, the brother of David Powers and Abigail Powers Fillmore, lost her husband, Cephas Leland on 8 Sep 1850 in Milwaukee, WI. Secondly, sister Mary Powers died at David and Mary Ann’s home on 24 Feb 1851.
How did Mary Ann make the decision to leave her husband Spencer? Who were her friends, who did she consult with? How did she earn a living? In one of David Powers’ letters to his sister Abigail, he mentions that Mary Ann is sewing. Mary Ann’s son, Francis W. Pomeroy, would in later life own a sewing machine store and repair shop.
Childhood – parents and siblings of Mary Ann
“THE Comptroller, in obedience to the resolution of the honorable the Assembly, requiring him to inform the house “whether any of the monies belonging to the School Fund have been loaned on security which has proved to be, or which he has reason to believe, inadequate, and if so, to whom, and at what time, and to what amount, and on what security, and what will be the probable loss of the monies belonging to that fund” respectfully reports:The report goes on to state:
That the following loans of money belonging to the School Fund have been made on security that has proved, or which the Comptroller has reason to believe, inadequate, viz:
Loan to... The Jamesville Iron and Woollen Manufacturing Company, June 11, 1812, $4500.00...” amongst others.
“The loan to the Jamesville iron and woollen manufacturing company, was secured by their mortgage on real estate valued by two reputable freeholders, to be worth, exclusive of buildings, $9000, but the security is now understood to be insufficient. A Mr. Mickles, who is in possession of the mortgaged premises, and who has paid a considerable sum for interest on the loan, has lately communicated, that he wishes to purchase and retain the property, at a fair valuation, but that it is not worth the amount due to the state. He does not give any opinion as to the present value, nor does he state the price he is willing to pay for the property. The attorney General has prosecuted to the foreclosure of the mortgage.”[lxxiii]