How Sweet It Is!

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 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).

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