My 3x great grandmother Janett (aka Jennie) Smith Rosa left Michigan, sometime in the early to mid 1860s, with her two daughters Carrie and Ida, and moved to Wisconsin, without her husband Abram. Abram testified in his pension application that she had left him while he was away during the Civil War. I believe it was possibly while he was incarcerated at the Fort Tortuga in 1865ish.
As to the reason why she left him? We will most likely never know the answer to that question. We can speculate that: Abram was abusive, lazy, or a crappy farmer, (his family did not have the best reputation around town); Jennie could have been scared of him, bored and went to try her luck somewhere else, unhappy with her choice, or shamed at his incarceration. It could be his fault. It could be her fault. It could be the fault of both of them. Either way, neither one of them are talking now. Their daughter Carrie told her own children that her father, Abram, had died in the Civil War, so who knows what Jennie had told Carrie, and her sister Ida. This same story was passed down to later generations as fact–now debunked. (NOTE: We have to remember though that Jennie was only 14 1/2 years old when she married Abram in February of 1854, Abram was 20.)
So Abram finally gets back from the war probably early in 1866. His wife and daughters are gone. Everyone tells him they took off for Wisconsin and won’t be coming back. Apparently, he didn’t care enough to try to get them back either.
In 1868, three years after the war was finally over, Janett married Fred Lavelly, in Oconto County, Wisconsin. About a year later, in 1869, Abram married Harriet Emerson in Berrien County, Michigan.
So, okay, this all sounds pretty straight-forward right? They have both moved on with their lives.
But the sticker is–I can find no divorce record for either of them. Not in Berrien County, Michigan. Not in Oconto County, Wisconsin. So that begs the question, were they both bigamists? It is quite possible they were.
Divorce at this time was a very expensive, and nasty, business. Neither one of them had much money to speak of, so the cost of court and lawyers would have been much on both of their minds. As they both lived in different states, maybe they decided that what no one knows, can’t hurt them. Which is probably why the story that Abram was killed during the war came to be part of the family lore. Abram could honestly say his wife deserted him, so in fact his marriage was over.
If indeed these two never divorced, it is the first known case of bigamy on either side of our family.
Happy Valentines Day!
P.S. Maybe there is a divorce case in Brown County, Wisconsin. I’m on it!
In March of 1889 Frank Cross, my notorious cousin of past posts, found himself in trouble. Surprise! Not.
In this case we find him in the newspaper under court goings on. Whatever could he have done now?:
Circuit Court — Justice French’s Court.
People vs. Frank Cross, larceny of an axe on complaint of Elihu B. Averill, pleaded guilty on the 11th and sentenced to pay a fine of $5.00 and in default of payment to ten days in jail. The fine was not paid and commitment was issued today.1
So Frank, being short of blunt, or just cheap, thought that he would pass on paying his fine. The court had no problem having him picked up and sent to the hoosegow in lieu of payment. A day or two later this notice appeared in the newspaper:
Frank Cross tired of prison life and went before Justice French and paid up his fine after a few hours in the jail.2
Now that’s a knee slapper! Maybe he didn’t realize how hard it would be to get a drink in jail.
The Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, Thu Feb 28, 1889, page 7, col 3
The Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, Fri Mar 1, 1889, page 7, col 1
I have been doing a lot of intermittent research on the Cross line on my Dad’s side of the family. Along with other Cross researchers, (some of whom are quite surly and rude), I have been trying to find that magical document that connects my Clarissa Cross to her probable mother Serviah (Warner) Cross. No luck so far.
During this search I have been gathering any documents I can find on the surname. In particular I have been focused on Sophia (Rosa) Cross, the eldest sister of my 3x great grandfather Abram Rosa.
Like her father Garrett Rosa, Sophia also married a Cross, Amandor Mandrick Cross to be exact. He is believed to have been her uncle, her mother’s brother. (And with the reputation this family has, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.)
So, while I haven’t found that ‘holy grail’ document, I thought I might share a bit about what I have learned about herself, and her sons George H. and Daniel Wellington Cross, from their Civil War pension application files. Both boys were Union soldiers.
Daniel Wellington Cross
If you will recall, not too long ago I had some interesting research results to share about Daniel regarding his foray into larceny and his stint in prison. All of which happened after he served, pretty much the duration, of the Civil War in Co. I of the 17th Michigan infantry, and later, in Co. C of the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters.
Daniel was only in his first unit for about 6 months, about half of which time he was in the hospital ill. So, in February of 1863 the military discharged him due to this illness.
In April of that same year he signed up again, this time with the Sharpshooters. Unfortunately, I could find no record of his time in this unit, other than he was mustered out at the end of the war on the 28th of July 1865. After looking at the regiment’s timeline during the war I found that Daniel’s unit was involved in several battles that would put him in the same area as my great great grandfather FW John: Weldon Railroad, the mine explosion in Petersburg. Maybe they ran into each other. I hope gramps checked his pockets afterward if they did! If you are interested in a little bit of the regiments history there are a couple of links below you can check out.
We know next to nothing about Daniel’s personal experience in the Civil War, except regarding his health. Thanks to his pension record we know that while serving guard duty at Camp Douglas in Illinois on New Year’s eve 1863/4, his feet were frozen to such a degree that he most likely experienced frostbite. This incident affected his feet for the rest of his life. Below is his mother Sophia’s testimony and a friend or neighbor Darius ____ regarding the matter.
Although Daniel had been married for a short time, (they divorced), there were no children from the marriage, so Daniel died in 1918 without issue.
An interesting note regarding Daniel’s service, he was most likely only 16 or 17 when he signed up in 1862. Maybe his enthusiasm for battle had him running away and lying about his age. There is nothing in the pension papers that gives any sense of Sophia’s feelings regarding the matter, but she must have been frantic with worry with her two eldest sons off to war.
George H.Cross George was born about 1840 in Michgan. The eldest of the Cross boys he has the dubious honor of having died during the war after contracting an illness. Although he did die at home while on leave. According to my quick research, dysentary was the leading cause of death of 2/3rds of the men during the Civil War, and it is most likely that this was the cause of George’s demise. He had also contracted measles earlier in the war but apparently survived that.
Like his brother Daniel, George was also in the war for pretty much the duration. Although he was sick throughout much of his service. He enlisted in Co. I of the 1st Michigan Cavalry and was later tranferred to Co B. When he enlisted he signed with his mark as he was unable to even write his name.
This particular unit was under the command of General Custer and was known as the Michigan Calvary Brigade, Wolverines or Custer’s Brigade. They fought in every major campaign of the Army of the Potomac from the Battle of Gettysburg to the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House in 1865. George was unable to be there for the surrender as he had died at home in February of that year. (See below several links regarding some history of this regiment.)
George’s illness made for some interesting reading in his pension record as he was arrested earlier in the war for desertion, an accusation which was later rescinded. He hadn’t informed his superior that an illness prevented his returning to his company after his furlough was over.
George had been captured at Berryville, Virginia in August/September of 1864. His service record indicates that he was confined at Richmond, Virginia, which would mean he was most likely at Libby Prison. Another of those nasty hell-holes they called a prison during the war. By December he had been paroled and was back with his unit. It was shortly thereafter that he was transferred to Co B.
Much of George’s time in the Civil War was spent being ill. The time he spent in a confederate prison made his health worse, a situation which eventually contributed to his death in February of 1865. Like his brother Daniel, George died single and without any issue. But least Daniel had had a chance to make a life for himself, even if the choices he made were very poor ones.
Sophia Rosa Cross
George’s mother Sophia was the person who applied for a pension under her son’s name. She was alone and in need of support. She had been widowed in 1866, her drunkard of a husband, Amander, having died. Below is a statement from George’s pension regarding Amander’s weakness in this regard:
It appears that Amander put little effort into making the farm they owned a viable resource for providing for the family. He had probably been too busy getting drunk.
So. He died in 1866. Sophia’s eldest son died during the war. Daniel was a thief and ex-con, and lazy Frank wasn’t much better. After Amander died Sophia ended up having to sell her land and everything on it to pay the mortgages that were owed on the property. As that only paid the debts, she hired herself out to clean houses and the like to make money to live on. All told, she was in desperate straights. Thankfully, the pension board saw fit to provide a small pension for Sophia. It was nothing to get rich on, but it help a little.
Sophia died in 1901 at about 85 years of age. She had ended up in a facility for the mentally incompetant and had a guardian; dementia or Alzheimer’s is probably what put her there.
Sophia’s legacy regarding her sons is not a pretty one, they were mostly not good folk. I have my suspicions she had some pretty loose morals herself. After all her favorite brother was Joseph, who had been her son Daniel’s partner in crime, literally, and she had had one of her daughters lie in their pension affidavit about her not having married again, because she had, although the marriage didn’t last.
All-in-all a family of many scoundrels. Makes for interesting reading.
And as for George, (whose illness and poor health during the war contributed to abruptly ending any chance of his having a life), he still died honorably in service to his country. Even Daniel, whose later life choices were usually bad, did at least one good thing in his life by serving his country throughout the war. I respect that.
Sophia (Rosa) (Cross) Mattice was, I believe, the oldest (and possibly only) daughter of Garret and Clarissa (Cross) Rosa. Her age is iffy because either she, or other household members, never really seemed to remember how old she was when census time came around. It is believed that she was born sometime around 1815 in New York.
In 1838 after the Rosas and Crosses had moved to Michigan, she married a gentleman by the name of Mandrick Amandor Cross – believed to be her uncle. He was 10 years older than her. These two had seven known children together, of whom we know quite a bit about Daniel Wellington and Benjamin Franklin (aka Frank). Daniel had been arrested several times for theft and spent some time in prison. Frank was a cop in Kalamazoo County for several years. However, it appears that he was probably a very bad cop and most likely on the take – both types of behavior would contributed to his eventually being fired. After his stint as a cop Frank tried his hand at a little larceny himself, nothing to get himself in prison, but enough to get fined. There is not much nice to say about Cousin Frank. He was married and divorced twice. During the first marriage he went to court asking for a divorce; he was tired of his wife always accusing him of being with other women. Which she did. A lot. The judge said, “Sure you can have a divorce.” The second time he was in court was because his second wife was asking for the divorce, she was tired of him always being with other women. Which he did. A lot. He was a popular customer at the local brothel, and he had an African American mistress. A very renaissance man. The judge told Frank’s wife, “Sure you can have a divorce.”
But all this excitement happened in the later part of the 1800s. Before his attempts at marriage, Frank was living with his mother Sophia and her second husband, David Mattice. Mind you Frank was almost 30 at this time. The two boys did not get along, but as neither one of them were very nice people they probably rubbed each other the wrong way all the time. Sophia also might have spoiled Frank, which wouldn’t have helped the situation. So eventually things came to a head, resulting in this article appearing in the newspaper:
This incident happened in September of 1877. Frank survived the assault and lived on to be a scion of society, an example of shining knighthood for all young men, the epitome of virtue … yeah … not so much. Apparently that knock on the head, or dare I say, near death experience, didn’t shake any sense into him.
I don’t know if Sophia left David after this incident. Battered women don’t tend to do that. But, I am still working on finding more out about Frank, I can’t resist. He is such a little sh*t.
For the most part, when you are researching your ancestors, you don’t very often find much information about their personality or character. Sometimes it can be sussed out from certain types of court or probate records, or land deeds that have special dispensations, or if you are lucky a historical biography is found for them.
In the case of my Michigan Smiths it was a couple of newspaper articles in the paper that shined a sliver of light on their lives. The church history in the article below doesn’t actually say much about Jeremiah or Hannah Smith’s personality per se, but it does tell me about certain aspects of their lives that I would otherwise have to guess at, for example – their faith was important to them.
Jeremiah was born in 1790 in the state of New York. He was the descendant of German ‘Schmidt’ ancestors who emigrated to America in 1709 and Palantine Germans. The family was never well to do, so Jeremiah and his wife Hannah (Houghtaling) had to work hard to feed and cloth their family. At one time Jeremiah, unable to pay his bills, spent a few months in debtors prison when the family was living in Cayuga County, New York. Possibly in an attempt to avoid their debts, or just to try to make a better life for themselves, the Smiths packed up their trunks and headed to Michigan in the early 1840s. Their eldest son, Michael, had moved out there a year of so earlier.
The family seemed to be able to make a better go of it in their new home in Berrien County, Michigan. By 1844 they were meeting in a small log school about one mile west of Coloma, with other pioneers from the area, as the Mount Hope Methodist Society. Both Jeremiah and Hannah are mentioned as members of this first meeting in local historical records.
In the article below we find a fun little tidbit out about Jeremiah – when the local school in the 1990s celebrated Pioneer Day, Jeremiah Smith appeared as a trapper and teller of ‘tall tales’. Just those two words bring to mind all kinds of images and possibilities to the kind of life the family might have had.
Maybe a descendant, still living in the area, has passed this story of our grandfather down to each successive generation, or an old-timer remembered his grandfather talking about old man Smith and his crazy stories. I so would have loved to have been able to hear those tall tales.
I am always excited to find articles like these as they help to better visualize Jeremiah and Hannah’s, (and other ancestor’s) lives. They become more than just names on a page with birth and death dates. Something that is easy to forget in the data gathering of ancestors to ones family tree.