I couldn’t resist this title. The remaining surname of my great grandparents that I haven’t yet posted about is Sweet. Imagine: I have Sweet and Salt and Snow and Minor and Coffin as last names, along with Boothby, Earhart, and Denman. Often not easy to search in various sites.

Up to a few years ago, I had very little information about my Sweet line. I knew my great grandmother (my maternal grandmother’s mother) was a Sweet. My mother told me that. From the Snow manuscript written by my grandmother’s brother, I had a little information about her and some dates. No sources. Some of it, he knew from his own knowledge and some of it was probably from his mother (who was Mary M. Sweet).

Five years ago I found out about a collection of papers, the Lillian Sweet Allen papers, at the Syracuse University Library in the Special Collections Research Center. I requested more information and was excited to hear that there was information about my family lines. After a little delay for the library to retrieve the papers and have a look to see what was in them, I was even more excited to hear that there were photographs of my direct ancestor and his siblings, and an ancestral tablet. I immediately sent off the proper request for duplication form and waited impatiently. It also turned out that they could scan the photographs and send them on a CD. So I requested that be done too.

I wish I could remember how I first discovered this special collection. I suspect it was referenced as a source of some piece of information and that lead me to go looking for it. I was surprised to discover it in the Syracuse University Library, since I didn’t (and don’t) know of any family connect with the University.

Lillian Sweet (Towner) Allen (1860-1927) was born in Iowa and lived and died in California. She was a genealogist and something of a historian. She wrote letters to everyone of a family name of interest, looking for relatives and family history. She got the local post masters (I think) to give her names and addresses of everyone with a family name in the area. (This of course, was long before the Internet and even telephones were not universal. Obviously the privacy issues were also different.)

Her papers, which included a number of letters back to her, were donated to the Library in 1963. I assume that they went to a relative when she died (she had two sons) and then were donated by that person or maybe when that person died. The Special Collections person I contacted said there is no information beyond the date they were accessioned. I still don’t know how or why Syracuse was chosen, although the Sweet family had migrated from Rhode Island through upstate New York, living for some time in Herkimer county before moving on to Lorain county, Ohio. So that might have been the connection. This collection and the little in Frank Snow’s manuscript provide almost all of what I know about this family line, so I am in the process of searching for primary sources to support the information.

A more recent acquisition from the same Lillian Sweet Allen papers on a related family (the Bly family line) shows me that there were a number of Sweets in the upstate New York area when she was searching in the mid-1920s. There are a number of letters to her in the Sweet family correspondence and in the Bly family correspondence. This strengthens the likelihood that there was still a New York connection that dictated the donation of these papers to Syracuse University.

So here is what I know so far. My great grandmother, Mary Malvina Sweet was born 16 Jul 1853 in Avon, Ohio according to her son Frank’s manuscript about the Snow family. She was my maternal grandmother’s mother. The 1900 federal census showed the year of her birth as 1852, but her son Frank said 1853. This census also showed her parents as born in Connecticut and New Hampshire, so I suspect either a reporting error or a recording error.

Mary M. Snow death certificate

On the other hand, her death certificate (with information provided by her daughter, my grandmother) reported her birth date as 16 Jul 1852. So her two children seem to have had different years of birth in their memories. Mary Sweet was born to Colvin Sweet (1812-1895) and Bricena Chadwick (1814-1863) in Avon, Ohio. She was the second daughter they named Mary M., the first having been born and died within a month in late 1837.

Mary was not quite 10 years old when her mother died, leaving at least 5 children at home. If you look at the federal censuses, it does not appear that Colvin remarried. It is a fair assumption that the older children must have helped care for the younger. However, I have found an index entryon familysearch.org of a microfilm that shows a Calvin Sweet marrying a Mrs. Mary Johnson in 1865 in Lorain county, Ohio.

Colvin Sweet 1870

This is the right place and time period, so it is possible that he did marry again. However, if this is my Colvin that marriage didn’t last long since in 1870 for the federal census he is shown as living with five children. Unfortunately the 1870 census did not list marital status.

Mary married Clemon Hastings Snow on 24 May 1880 and they had two children: my great uncle Franklin C. Snow, and my grandmother Bricena A. Snow. Mary died 30 Apr 1917 in Elyria, Ohio, having suffered what was probably a stroke two years previously. She had been pretty much bedridden and my grandmother was expected to stay home and care for her. My grandmother did not marry until after her mother’s death, and shortly before her father’s (for whose care she was also responsible).

Judy and I recently had a weekend in Portland Maine with our 2 other wonderful college friends. It was not perfect weather by any means, being misty to rainy and somewhere around 55 degrees. As usual, though, the four of us had a great time. We walked and wandered and sat and talked and ate and drank. Oh yes, we watched movies too. But I digress.

In looking at one of the meant-for-tourists maps of the city, I happened to notice – quite by accident – that there is a small square on Fore Street that is named Boothby Square. Boothby was, as I wrote recently, the maiden name of my father’s mother. So it caught my eye, and I proposed that my one goal for the wandering was to see that square and get a picture. Both Judy and I were trying to stay out of genealogy mode, since our friends are not particularly interested. But a square, located in the exact area we were going to wander, was too much for me to pass up. Here is a picture of the fountain that marks the square.

Boothby Square, Portland, Maine

Now to the genealogy part. I have some reason to think that my ancestor, James Boothby, was the son of Josiah Boothby. When James married Elizabeth Divers in 1827, Josiah Boothby gave his oath of presence (as well as certificate of her parents being filed). So far, the assumption is that both were underage, and required parental approval to marry. Other entries on the same page show “oath of applicant”, which I take to mean that the applicant groom is of age to marry. I also have some reason to think that my Boothby line came to southwestern Ohio from Maine, sometime before about 1802. Josiah Boothby married Mary Rounds in September 1802 in Clermont County, Ohio.

Well, I emailed a cousin Boothby who replied that the Square in Portland is named for Frederic E. Boothby who was mayor of Portland in 1901, 1902, 1903. He (and his wife who was a philanthropist) donated the park that is now the square to the city of Portland in 1902. It turns out that it was Frederic Boothby for whom the Boothby Home was named as well. The Boothby Home was built in 1902-3 while Frederic was mayor, to house the city’s destitute men and women.

Frederic was born in 1845 in Norway, Maine, the son of Levi T. Boothby and Sophia Packard Brett. This Boothby family established itself in Waterville, Maine. Frederic was educated in Waterville and began his railroad career there, through his father’s interests. By 1875 he and his wife, Adelaide E. Smith, were living in Portland, and there they stayed for a number of years. Frederic was not only mayor, but he also participated in a number of volunteer organizations and was a member of the S.A.R. and the Society of Mayflower. Frederic and Adelaide did not have any children and both were very active in a number of organizations and philanthropies. Frederic Boothby was probably not very directly related to me, but obviously he was interested in his family history and participated in genealogy societies. He died in 1923 in Waterville, where he and his wife had returned sometime after his terms as mayor in Portland.

Ok, back to my own genealogy. What follows is my speculation and piecing together of information that doesn’t yet connect firmly to my Boothby family in southwestern Ohio, but is suggestive.

I know that there were at least two Boothby men in Clermont County, Ohio by 1802; there are marriage records showing that James Boothby married Abigail Rounds on May 1, 1802 and Josiah Boothby married Mary Rounds on September 3, 1802. A James and a Josiah Boothby, and a Josiah Jr. were listed as having been given Donation Tract Land in the Marietta area, which were 100 acre plots given by the Ohio Land Company to men 18 and over. In return the men promised to carry a gun and protect the approaches to Marietta from the Indians. This land donation was done between about 1790 and 1820. There is a Josiah Boothby shown in the 1790 census in Maine with 2 sons 16 and under and 2 females. If this is the same Josiah then the family must have migrated to eastern Ohio sometime after the 1790 census was taken and may have left family members in that area (which would help explain Boothbys in Washington County more recently). So between 1790 and 1802 the Boothbys moved first to the eastern edge of what became the state of Ohio and then further down the Ohio River to Clermont County.

After their marriages, both James and Josiah (presumably the junior) show up in tax records from 1806-1810. The older Josiah and his wife both died about 1804, if the information I have found so far is correct (I have no direct documentation). James and the younger Josiah died between 1830 and 1835. James does not seem to have been enumerated in the 1830 census, nor does his wife Abigail.

Since none of the early censuses list family members by name except for the head of household, I do not have much to go on. The early categories enumerated in 1820 do tell me that Josiah reported 1 boy under 10, 3 boys between 10 and 16, 1 male between 26-45 (probably himself), and 2 girls under 10.

Josiah Boothby, 1820 census, Brown county, Ohio

His wife doesn’t seem to have been included, although there is some reason to think she didn’t die until 1824. There’s a mystery. James reported 1 boy under 10, 1 between 10-16, 1 between 16-18, 1 between 16-26, and 1 between 26-45 (himself I assume), 2 girls under 10, 2 between 10-16, 1 female between 26-45 and 1 45 or older.

James Boothby 1820 census, Clermont county, Ohio

I guess that the woman in the older range might have been a mother-in-law. Or, one of the women might have been James’s sister-in-law Mary (who was missing from her husband’s house at the time of the census). I do not yet know anything about the two Rounds women who married the Boothbys. They may have been sisters. And here, for now, my trail ends. I have many more questions than answers, but can see what I need to look for. That’s the usual place I find myself in my genealogy searching.

Thanks to Steve Danko and Michelle Goodrum for inspiring me to use the Scientific Method to pursue my research this year. I closely followed Steve’s 8-part presentation in December of his question and like the idea of trying to be that disciplined in researching one of my questions. As I have confessed before, I usually am fairly haphazard in my approach, following my nose from one thought to another and collecting tidbits along the way. I also tend not to analyze the data in a methodical way, but to accept or discard without considering all I know. I do know better, but have too often been cavalier in my approach to this fascinating study. I am resolved to do better.

Here I am trying to be more methodical, and so I’m presenting my first take on using this Method on a genealogical question. This is a somewhat condensed version of what I have collected along the way.

This particular research question is related to one of my difficulties with my Boothby women. I have noted before that there are two particular places in my Boothby line where there are unresolved questions about exactly who the woman in question was. I’ve written about Elizabeth Divers and whether it was she who married the James Boothby who is my great-great-grandfather. My goal this year is to identify the parents of my great-grandmother Mary Earhart Boothby and prove that they were her parents. Mary lived in southwestern Ohio (mostly Brown County) from 1855 to 1934.

The question arises because of 2 different last names being given in the Federal Censuses and births recorded at the Brown County Courthouse. There are also variations of her first name. The information on her death certificate, given by her daughter Carrie, is that Mary E. Boothby was the daughter of John Earhart and Margaret Shotwell, born 17 Jun 1855 in Brown County, Ohio. This was the first piece of documentation I had for my great-grandmother and I assumed that her daughter’s information was correct. Silly me. As I started adding to the information pile, I discovered that there was a mystery. The first available Federal Census she shows up on (1860) lists her as Elizabeth Hockman (see below). At this point I started to see that I had a more interesting problem than merely documenting events.

Here is the first iteration of the Scientific Method.

I. Define the question: Who were Elizabeth Mary or Mary Elizabeth’s parents?

II Gather information and resources:

  • 1. Born to John Earhart and Margaret Shotwell, 1855 (Ohio Death Certificate, informant daughter Carrie)

    Mary E. Boothby death certificate info

  • 2. Living in Clark Township, Brown County, Ohio in 1860 as Elizabeth Hockman with John and Margaret Arehart (1860 Federeral Population Census), age 4

    Arehart 1860 census

  • 3. Living in Clark Township, Brown County, Ohio in 1870 as Elizabeth M. Earhart with John and Margaret Earhart (1870 Federal Population Census), age 15, “Helps Mother”

    Earhart 1870 census

  • 4. Married Alexander A. Boothby as Mary E. Earhart, 1873, in Brown County, Ohio (Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958)
  • 5. Birth of son, M.K. Boothby 1879, Scott Township, Brown County, Ohio to Alexander Boothby and E.M. Hockman (Ohio Births and Christenings, 1821-1962)
  • 6. Living in Clark Township, Brown County, Ohio, 1880 as Mary E. Boothby (1880 Federal Population Census)
  • 7. Birth of son, Ray T. Boothby, 1890, Lewis Township, Brown County, Ohio to A.A. Boothby and E.M. Earhart (Ohio Births and Christenings, 1821-1962)
  • 8. Birth of daughter, Delia C. Boothby, 1894, Lewis Township, Brown County, Ohio to A. Boothby and Mary Earhart (Ohio Births and Christenings, 1821-1962)

(The Ohio Marriages and Ohio Births and Christenings listed are indexes found on the Family Search website, www.familysearch.org)

III. Form hypothesis: Mary Elizabeth or Elizabeth Mary Hockman was taken in by John Earhart and Margaret Shotwell between 1855 and 1860 and later “adopted” by them between 1860 and 1870.

IV. Perform experiment and collect data: Search for birth records in the Brown County Courthouse for 1854-1857 for both Elizabeth Mary Earhart and Elizabeth Mary Hockman. Since the earliest records I have to date show her as Elizabeth it is possible that this was the name originally given to her.

Since it was not required to register births in Brown County until 1867 there may not be any birth records available for these earlier years. Or, there may be some births recorded earlier but not all. The microfilmed records available from the Family History Library start at 1867 but do not include all births even after it was required. In this rural area of the state not all events got recorded, and some got recorded long after the fact. Therefore I should also search the guardianship and probate files.

I have already decided to send for a copy of the birth of M.K. Boothby, as well as the marriage record for Alexander and Mary. There may be more information on the original record than shows on the index. (This is a separate experiment: I have been told by Cousin Nancy that you can request photocopies of specific images or pages from microfilms at the Family History Library. I will mail my first request to them and see what I get back.)

Otherwise, it looks like I will need to take a trip out to Ohio to research in the courthouse records to see for myself. Wonder what my sister is doing this summer?