Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917

Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917
William Richardson, Alice Josephine Richardson Dakin, Robert Worthington Richardson, Harry Bogart Richardson
Showing posts with label HELSTEN Eric. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HELSTEN Eric. Show all posts

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Johanna Carolina Hellsten, the Rest of the Story

If you've been reading the saga about Johanna Carolina Hellsten and Uno Kempff, you'll notice there are some time gaps that we do not know all the details. This post will fill in all of the details that we know about Johanna, after many posts on Uno Kempff and his shenanigans with the law.

What do we know about Johanna, the oldest daughter born to Carl (Kalle) Hellsten and Johanna Sparr on 25 February 1851 in Nikolai Parish, Örebro, Sweden?

What did she do with her life?

She was 16 when her family fell on hard times in Sweden.  She wrote to her uncle in America, describing her talent for handwork in her father's brewery and general store (which had gone bankrupt), appealing for funds to travel and help once she arrived.  Eric Adolf Helsten had immigrated to USA in 1845, his mother died in 1863. His brother Manne (Theodor Emanual) Hellsten had managed their mother's estate and there was a small amount of money due to Eric. Eric agreed to have his niece Johanna borrow those funds.  Eric knowing the "reduced circumstances" of his brother Carl's family, he has his brother Manne send the funds to their sister Lovis who lives nearby to Johanna's family and who will give the money to Johanna when she is ready to travel.

She was a young woman of 17 when she immigrated to Gaylordsville, Connecticut arriving in New York City on 22 April 1868.  Her uncle had alerted Castle Island of her upcoming arrival and they notifiied him of her arrival.  Eric finds a job for her working for the Bostwick family in Gaylordsville.  She agrees to a two year commitment to work as a domestic servant for them.
Bostwick family in 1870 US Census, New Milford (Gaylordsville),
Connecticut.  Johanna is listed as a domestic servant.

She was just 21 when she ran away from Gaylordsville to New York City  -- nary a goodbye or thank you to her helpful uncle.
The Bostwick family tells Eric how they liked her so much the first year, and Maria Bostwick's mother (probably the Eunice Sanford, age 71, above) liked  her so much that she gave her a tip at the end of her service in her final pay.

Her own family was very worried that Johanna connected with Uno Kempff, someone who was from the same town in Sweden, but who had a criminal past.  He had been writing her asking her to help him find work -- much to her family's dismay.
She ran off to New York City in 1871, and we have no record of her meeting up with Uno in 1871, but we have no proof that she didn't.  The next time we find Johanna is in 1874, coming back to NYC on a ship from Hull, England with Uno, pretending or actually being his wife.
Since Uno was married to another woman back in Sweden and living with yet another woman and possibly fathering that other woman's child, one wonders about the relationship between Uno and Johanna in 1874.  The family had heard a rumor in 1871, that Johanna had not only run off to NYC but had also married Uno.

I have not found Johanna Carolina Hellsten (Johanna, Hannah, Caroline, Carolina) in New York City in 1871, however, I did find her multiple times from 1875-1877 -- advertising her services as a dressmaker.
The first one was in the New York Herald on 31 August 1875:

In August 1875, she is a "Dressmaker" who can do all kinds of family sewing by the day at a reasonable price, in a couple of weeks (14 Sept.) she is a "Competent Dressmaker," who is available by the day or week at a moderate price, with references.  Sounds like she had some practice that first couple of weeks.  By 5 December, she is not only competent she can "make old dresses over equal to new."

By 24 September 1876, she is not only a competent had seamstress, she now advertises her ability to operated any machine.  She has also moved to 88 Clinton Street, from 27 Bond, of last year.

Then, the final listing I find for her as a dressmaker, is 24 April 1877, she is now at
to go out by the day, or will take work home; best ref-
erence.                                                  Miss HELSTEN.

So, maybe she went home to Sweden after she ran away to New York City for some reason and was never mentioned in any of the many family letters to Eric Helsten (that I had translated and put in the book, A Ring and a Bundle of Letters), came back to New York with Uno Kempff, and then stayed and worked as a dressmaker.

In each of these ads, she is Miss J. C. Helsten, or Miss Helsten, not "Mrs. anyone."
Was traveling as Uno's wife, a convenience to get from Europe to New York and not appear to anyone as a single woman, or maybe not?
Who knows, I don't.

So, did Johanna stay in NYC and live happily ever after?
We have one final clue about Johanna ....
The 1910 Census for Brooklyn, New York, 60 Gates Avenue, in a three-family building, lives
Caroline J Hellsten,

She is now called Caroline J Hellsten, 58, single, never had any children.
Go to the next page of the census and you'll find she had Albert F Faberstedt, 45, also from Sweden living there as a boarder.  He is listed as married for 20 years, naturalized having came to the USA in 1887.   Albert is working as a painter.

She came in 1892, but is not naturalized.  She is working as a cook, was employed on
15 April 1910, but was out of work for 24 weeks in 1909.  She rents her home.

Notice, she is not naturalized.  No surprise.
From 1855 to 1922, a woman took the citizenship of her husband, so in order to become a US citizen, Johanna would have had to have married someone who was a citizen (birthright or naturalized).

[I wrote a blog post about how a woman could lose her US citizenship.  Marian L Smith’s wrote two fascinating articles tracing women’s naturalization from 1802 through 1940. These are in Prologue Magazine. Read the first and click through to the second one.]

Neither Malin Klangeryd nor I have found anything more about Johanna Carolina Hellsten. No marriages, no deaths. No other census listing, no passages to and from Europe (should be something if "came in 1892").

I'll write again, if we find anything.

©2015, Erica Dakin Voolich
The link to this post is

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Wait! There’s More about Uno Kempff!

Johanna Carolina Hellsten leaves for North America to join her uncle Eric Helsten in April 1868.  She might not know anything of her friend Uno Kempff’s history when she departs, they’ve only lived in the same town for a few months, however, in her family’s previous home they were just 3.5 Km apart so maybe they had already met.   Once in Gaylordsville, Connecticut, Johanna clearly knows Uno Kempff, as he is corresponding with her in 1869, asking her to find him a job if and when he comes to America from Sweden.

Malin Klangeryd found not only all of the data for Kempff in “Uno Kempff … Family Scandal or Family Friend?”  and our traveler Johanna Carolina Hellsten, but also this revealing Household examination [a record of the Lutheran priest’s visitation with each family in the parish over the years]:

Household examination for 1866-1870 says: 
“By Gefle [Gävle] RR (The Supreme Administrative Court) sentenced for forgery and fraud. Submitted certificate from 10 January 1866 from Långholmen [jail] April 10, 1866. Knut Unio Kempff was by Örebro Hall right 9 January 1868 sentenced for first-degree theft to three months' hard labor and was earlier by Gefle Supreme Administrative Court sentenced to tarnish forever [he lost his honour which meant a reduction in his civil rights]. Appealed by Örebro Supreme Administrative Court”


Kempff was in trouble a 2nd time, just months before he and Johanna’s family were living in the same town.

Maybe Uno Kempff is planning to skip town soon when he starts writing Johanna (1868 - 1869), because shortly after contacting her in Gaylordsville, he is in trouble a third time! Sounds like quite the “con artist” at work, as this 23 September 1869 article describes how he conned those who trusted him.  

Jönköpingsbladet 1869-09-23 [Jönköping's Journal]
A nice-nice company. Several years ago, lived in Gevle an merchant named Knut Uno Kempff. for fraud in the trade, he was sentenced to hard labor on Långholmen [a prison]. 
While he was serving his sentence, he bought the property Almbro 1 mil from Örebro, and moved after the penalty period had expired there with a miller Sjöberg, a man named Em Paijtsaz and with a other released prisoners. On Almbro he established himself as a miller, but deceived even now his customers. Shortly thereafter, there was a major theft in Örebro, which was followed by that he and his companions, who were missing following the theft, again was sentenced to hard labor. During all this, Kempff had a meeting at Almbro, but sneaked away to Stockholm, where he narrowly escaped arrest. There he devoted himself to House business, resulting in yet a bankruptcy and yet a sentence at Långholmen. After the penalty he escaped to America with a ill-known woman, who he had worked for as a "bookkeeper" for some time. The earlier mentioned miller Sjöberg, who had been involved in the burglary theft in Örebro and also had received a sentence on Långholmen, was freed on July 28 this year [1869], and has again been taken into custody, as defenseless, reappearing in Örebro, after having being arrested for drunkenness, followed by a visitation at his house where there was found a letter from Kempff, whom imposes Sjöberg to take the life of his "good men", treasurer Ekmark and his son and juryman Lars Jonsson at Ökna. Sjöberg had also visited Kempff, but never met him at home. Sjöberg is now volunteering deserted to Carls and borg  [prison] and there recruited to emergency work. Before his departure to America, Kempff managed to deceive a gentleman in a House business of 3000 crowns, a down payment as security, why he left some completely useless promissory notes with 16,350 crowns, issued by the aforementioned prison companions. Mr Em-Paijtsaz is still at Långholmen, and Mr Kempff is well in America continuing his path toward the rope"

This might very well be the newspaper article that was shared with Johanna Hellsten by Mrs. Eriksson and upset her uncle Eric so much about Kempff having "escaped from Sweden!"

So, do we know what ever happened to Johanna?  Did she meet up with Uno Kempff as her family feared?  Did she marry him as was rumored?

©2015, Erica Dakin Voolich

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Uno Kempff … Family Scandal or Family Friend?

Back to the family scandal!

Johanna's Uncle Eric Helsten
who paid her way to USA and
found her work and was upset
with her sudden departure from
Gaylodsville for New York City.

So, who was Uno Kempff that the family was so concerned with?
With the great Swedish research skills of Malin Klangeryd, we know a little something about Kempff and his misdeeds.  There are some gaps, but here is what we know about him.

His full name was Knut Uno Kempff. He was born 8 September 1826 in Örebro. 
He was married 27 October 1854 to Johanna Lovisa Juberg (sometimes called Sophia Lovisa) (born 10 March 1827 in Saint Lars parish, Linköping county). They had three children who each died at a young age:
1. Anders Gustaf Uno (born 9 June 1855 in Nyköping – died 31 March of croup in Almbro, Gällersta)
2. Knut Frithiof (born 13 December 1856 in Vaksala – died 17 April 1863 of scarlet fever in Almbro, Gällersta)
3. Unus Alfred Louis (born 12 January 1861 in Gällersta parish – died 4 April 1863 of scarlet fever on Almbro, Gällersta).

Uno Kempff and his wife Sofia (Johanna) Lovisa Juberg are twenty-five years older than our Johanna Caroline Hellsten — they are old enough to be her parents!

How did they meet? Did they know each other in Sweden?

Malin has constructed a timeline of what she knows about Uno Kempff’s whereabouts from various official records:
•   1826 born in Örebro
•   1854-1855, living lat first city block farm nr 66-68 in Nyköping’s west parish. Uno works as a merchant. 
•   1854 Uno married Johanna/Sofia Lovisa Juberg
•   1855, son born in Nyköping
•   1856, son born in Vaksala
•   1860: living in Vaksala parish
•   1861, son born in Gällersta
•   1860-21 May1869: living in Almbro (Gällersta parish, Örebro County)
•   21 May 1869 – in Stockholm
•   17 April 1874-: departure from Göteborg to Hull, England on the ship Orlando. Destination New York
•   1880 -1882: living Västergötland 5 i Maria Magdalena parish in Stockholm, working as shop assistant. Living alone  
•   12 August 1882: Departure to America through Hull, England

There is a gap here in the above timeline from 1869 to 1874 when Uno Kempff leaves for New York City.  The family was worried that he was already in New York City. 
Uno Kempff leaves for NYC twice, once in 1874 and then in 1882.  When did he return?   What was he doing in NYC and Sweden that might concern Johanna C Hellsten’s family.

… and Johanna Hellsten's timeline while growing up with her parents:
•   1851, born in Nikolai parish, Örebro
•   1856 – 15 June 1863: living at plot no. 100 (Örebro, North Nikolai parish)
•   15 June 1863 – 15 November 1867: living at Norra Bro 6 (Gällersta parish)
•   15 November 1867 – 27 March 1868: living at Almbro (Gällersta parish)
•   22 April 1868, Johanna arrives in New York.

Johanna officially moves 3.5 Km with her family to Almbro (Gällersta parish, Örebro County) on 15 November 1867,  the day after she returned her travel document allowing her to go to North America.  She first got her travel paperwork a week before and had the travel money from Uncle Eric already there being held by aunt Lovis.  
Already living in Almbro when the Hellsten family arrived, was Uno Kempff and his wife.  It was close enough that the families might have known each other already. Her family ran a general store before her father went bankrupt, maybe Kempff's family had been customers.

Was her abrupt delay of travel because she had met Kempff when her family planned their move?  Was Kempff going to be the spring traveling companion she would have that her father Carl mentioned in his letter of February 1868?  I’m not sure we’ll ever know the answer to that question. 

Malin Klangeryd found this 1861 local newspaper coverage:

Tidning för Wenersborgs stad och län 1861-01-21 [Newspaper för Wenersborgs city and county]
"Severe sentence. Norrlands-Posten [Norrlands newspaper] from Gefle [Gävle] says: grain traider Uno Kempff, which prosecution by the court last year, for deceit and fraud in trade, aroused great attention, and whom by the Municipal Court was sentenced to compensate claimants and witnesses, and to one and a half years in prison, has recently got his sentence by the Court of Appeal; the verdict is not less than four months in prison - a true warning for those who feel tempted to walk in Kempff's footsteps”

We should add this to the Uno Kempff timeline above, 
• 1861,  a stay in prison at hard labor and also financial restitution for his deceit and fraud in trade as a grain trader.

When Carl and his wife Johanna Sparr moved to Almbro, did they know the history of Kempff from the early 1860s?  Or, did they just become friends with someone who was a friendly neighbor or colleague?

Kempff has served time for forgery and fraud!  
Our Johanna Hellsten would NOT have been in the same town as Kempff was when he got caught using deceit and fraud with his grain clients.  Besides, she would have been a young child at that time.  Her parents might not even have known what Kempff's 1861 history of what was probably a friendly neighbor or businessman.  

But there’s even more to tell about our charming Kempff.

©2015, Erica Dakin Voolich

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Living up to Expectations … or Not!

Imagine a young woman in Sweden in 1867.  Her parents say they can’t keep all four kids because of reduced circumstances.  It was not unusual for her younger siblings to be living with various Hellsten aunts and uncles from time to time when life got tough.
Her father ran a store and a brewery before he went bankrupt. As the oldest child, clearly she worked in the family businesses when she says she was “used to brewing, commerce, and rough work.”
She is 17, the oldest, and decides to take charge of her life. She writes her “rich” uncle in “employer America” where “no one finds fault with one’s honest work” to loan her the money to go there where, as her father says, “hard work and frugality is a way to blessing.”
She is an adult in her mind, independent.
"America here I come!”

Johanna goes to Gaylordsville, where her uncle lives.  A rural town, about 85 miles from New York City.

Fast forward 2 years.
Johanna isn’t satisfied with the life of a domestic servant.
Uncle Eric tries to advise her, but she “just won’t listen.”
Just like a 20-year-old today who thinks she knows everything and won’t listen to her parents, she is not listening to the advice of her uncle who probably feels obligated to act like a parent for his young niece.

Our first hint of a problem was a draft of a letter that Eric wrote to his sister Lovis back in Sweden.
Eric didn’t leave drafts of his letters along with the letters that he saved from his siblings and mother that I used to put together my book, A Ring and a Bundle of Letters.  It would have been wonderful to have his letters with his news and responses to his mother and siblings, but only this one survived.

Gaylordsville  8 Jan 1871

Dear Sister Lovis,

I'm taking this moment to write to you to let you know that I am well and that all of mine have the health, and that we all wish you a good new  year.

Nothing has changed with us here except that Johanna has left the place where she has been for two  years.  But where she is now I do not know.  When her time was up the 13th of Dec. she went to New York unexpectedly to me.  She told Mrs Bostwick that I had found her a position in a factory in Danbury (a town 16 Engl. miles from here) which was a lie, and from others I heard later that she had told them different places that she was moving to.  The 8th of Dec. she told me, when I saw her the last time, that there were several good positions where they would like to have her and that she would stay with the Bostwicks 2 or 3 weeks after her time was up.
I know that she went to New York because a shopkeeper in New Milford went to New York the same day and he had seen her in the steam wagon when he disembarked there.  

The reason why she left her position in this manner I do not know.  I went to the Bostwicks later, after I heard that she was not longer there.  Mrs Bostwick told me that she liked Hanna very much the first year, but the second  year she did not like her as well, as she had made so many acquaintances with the other girls there.  

Hannah had received a letter from a Mr. Kemf in the first year that she was with the Bostwicks.  The first letter that he wrote to her came to me in an envelope.  I mailed it to Hannah, and he wanted Hannah to find him a job where she was.  But I told Hannah to write to him and tell him that there was no position for him, which she did.    Later I heard that he had written to her and she to him.  And then I was allowed to read a letter from you to Hannah about him, and at the same time a piece that was cut from a newspaper that had been sent to  Mrs. Ericson (I think that was the name) that she had company with her from Sweden,  she sent the clippings to Hannah -- I read this at the Bostwicks about his deeds, and more.  I admonished her in their presence not to write to Kemf any more, I said that if she wanted to have anything written to him, then I would like to write for her to let him know that we know everything about him.  Later Mr. Bostwick told me that they had told Hannah to send him the piece from the newspaper about his deeds and his portrait which she had, she said that she had some so, and she told me that she had done so, which pleased me.  If she later had a letter from him, or he from her, I do not know.   

Last February Hannah had earned almost 300 dollars since she came to America, but she had not saved any money, she liked pretty clothes, more expensive than she needed.  I talked to her about that several times.  About 2 months before she left she bought a large trunk, which cost about 7 dollars, which she has filled with her clothes.  I do hope she won't lose it when she came to New York and also doesn't lose herself, this has worried me right  much since there are all sorts of people in such a city.  She had paid me 40 dollars the 9th of July 1870, that is all that she has paid me.  --- when Mr. Bostwick had paid her 17 dollars that remained of her yearly pay, Mrs Bostwick's mother gave her 5 dollars as a present.  I expect that this is all she had.  It was not much to go to New York with.  But there is nothing to hinder her to do well if she wants to, it depends only on her, whether she does well or badly.  

There was a girl who lived on the next farm that she was acquainted with, who moved back to New York, maybe Hanna had agreed with her to meet her in New York and she did not want me to know about it.  She  probably knew I would not like it.  I hope that she will write to me, if she does not write I will not know what to think.  

If you should receive a letter from her so write to me so that I can write to her.  Let me know what Mrs. Ericson's address is if  you can find out, maybe she will go there when she has some money.  I thought it best to write to you to let you know how it is, maybe we will find her out.  Maybe it is better not to let her know I wrote you about her, but you can do as you like about that.

I remain your brother Eric

Almost 7 months later, Lovis replies to Eric’s concerns about Johanna, 29 July 1871:

Pålsboda .. Svennevad 29 July 1871

Dear Brother Eric,

Thank you for your letter, I should have answered it a long time ago.  It was sad to hear that Hannah could behave in such a bad manner especially towards you who has been so good to her.  We informed her parents as soon as I got your letter.  As I didn’t know Mrs. Ericksson or her relatives, I heard later from Kalle that he had answered you as he had promised me and left Mrs. Ericksson’s and Mr Kempfs’ address.  

I learned from a paper that Kempfs was made president in a society that he started to help Swedes who arrive in the US.  Could that be something good he’s doing since I have heard that Hanna is supposed to be married to Kempfs.  He brought Miss Bor with him when he escaped from Sweden. ...

Mr Uno Kempff
Nort America
Care of Kapten Jåsen
New York
No 2 Borsling grem [maybe Bowling Green]
Box 4,542.

Mr Erik Eriksson
Allamaka County
Box 19 jöwa
Nort America

Johanna, age 20, has been rebelling this past year.
Her practical-minded uncle, didn’t want her spending money on fancy clothes; but she did so anyway.
She borrowed money for her passage from her uncle, but she didn’t repay him most of it.
Johanna has run off to New York City without even saying goodbye to the family and lying about where she was going!

She’s been corresponding with a man, Uno Kempff, that she might have married once she got to New York!
A Swedish family friend, Mrs Eriksson in New York City tried to warn Johanna about Uno Kempff.
Uncle Eric tried to discourage her, practically forbid, this relationship after learning about this Swede — described in Swedish paper for his misdeeds.
Kempff “escaped from Sweden”

What did Kempff do that resulted in his need to escape?

Unfortunately the newspaper clippings didn’t get saved with all the letters!
Remember, they were shown and given to Johanna to convince her of Kempff’s misdeeds!


For  years, this is where the story ended, for me.  I couldn’t find any information about Kempff.  Then last November I received an email from a distant Swedish cousin, Malin Klangeryd, who is also descended from Eric Helsten’s parents, Eric Hellsten (1786-1839) and Lovisa Charlotta Robert (1795-1863).  She was also researching this Hellsten family.  Ironically, she is descended from Eric’s sister Erica.

Malin Klangeryd lives in Sweden and knows how to search the archives.  She has found our mystery man, Uno Kempff.

©2015, Erica Dakin Voolich
The link to this page is

Friday, May 22, 2015

Off to America, thank you dear uncle….

Johanna Carolina Hellsten was planning on traveling to USA and applied for a departure certificate from Sweden on 7 November 1867, right after her Uncle Manne Helsten said he would send the funds from her Uncle Eric to her Aunt Lovis when she was ready to travel. She then decided to delay her departure and returned her travel papers a week later, on 14 November.

By early November, the days are getting shorter as winter is approaching in Sweden and maybe Johanna thought that traveling in the spring might be a better idea.

Meanwhile, Uncle Eric is still awaiting Hannah’s (Johanna) arrival - he writes on 23 December 1867 to Carl and Hannah, it takes this letter at least a month to arrive in Sweden.  Then Carl writes back 3 weeks later saying that Hannah has delayed her trip.   Eric is patiently waiting in America for his niece, wondering where she is, maybe even concerned since he hasn't heard after getting the travel funds to her.  By the time Eric would find out her changed travel plans, it is probably close to March — about the time for her to actually come!

14 Feb. 1868

My dear brother Eric

I received your letter dated 23 Dec 3 weeks ago in which I find you are awaiting Hannah’s arrival.  We received the money from Uppsala last fall.  But since it was so late in the year they were sent back to Upsala again and the trip was started in the spring.  Wherefore she has decided to leave the coming April from Götteborg because she will then have travel company.  So God willing she will be in New York in 12 or 14 days.  If the trip will be somewhat postponed I will write you about it.

My dear brother, we will probably not see each other in this time [on earth] but how do you stand with God as well as your wife and children?  Please write to me about it.  Don’t forget to because it would be nice to know if we will meet up there in heaven.  Then we will see God and the lamb in the full glory.   It will be a blessed switch to be with an eternal glorious transfigured body there be allowed to see God face to face together with his holy angels and the blessed inhabitants of heaven.  That eternally be allowed to thank, praise and say his name that brought us here with his blood.  It will be blessed and glorified and precious there where the Lord God himself is.

Here in our Sweden the wind of the holy ghost has blown in all the counties so that many sinners have listened to the call and fled to the Lord Jesus.  But among our relatives has it unfortunately not been received. Only sister Marie has some inclination but she has not at all come to peace.  My wife and children and all the others seem to be dead in transgressions and sins.  Now you have heard dear brother how we have it in this most important matter; therefore please pray to the dear God for us if  you know Him the Christ reconciled Father -- because it is written in the Bible word in many places in John 16:24 it says “ask ye shall receive and  your joy shall be full.”

Greetings to your wife and children from us all.

You devoted brother Carl

Not sure who her traveling company was, but Caroline Hellsten is listed on a passenger list arriving in New York City on 22 April 1868.

Notice her father Carl wrote of a 12 or 14 day trip.  The transatlantic sailing trips when Eric came in 1845 and his wife Mary in 1848, took about 43 days.  The addition of steam ships definitely made the trip much faster, and most likely, safer.

Spring 1868, Eric was waiting for her Hannah.    He contacted the immigration folks alerting them of her pending arrival.

Office of the Commissioners of Emigration.
Castle Garden, New York, April 22nd, 1868
    5 oclock P.M.

E.A.Helsten Esq
  In answer to your letter 
I respectfully inform you that your
niece Johanna C. Helsten arrived this
Evening pm Steamer Minnesota from
Liverpool we shall detain her here 
until you come or send for her

  Respectfuly ce
   Bernard Casserly
   Gen. Agent & superintendent
    Per T.m.d

You might recall that Hannah had written her uncle:

I, as a big, strong, healthy seventeen  year old girl, used to brewing, commerce, and rough work and who longs for work in an unknown country where no one finds fault with one’s honest work or despises the virtuous for his poverty.
This in addition to the fact that many of my acquaintances have already left for, the employer America, which is why I, too, this fall intend to go there, if some noble person would help me with travel money and good advice at the arrival.

Since I have heard that Uncle is rich and happy in the country to which many long to go, I now set my hopes and prayers to Uncle for a kind answer to:

Could my dear Uncle please be so kind as to via a postal order to Upsala or a letter give, or, if need be, loan me 200 Kr for travel money?

Could my Uncle have use for, or know somebody, me as hired help for anything?

Could Uncle extend a helping and protecting hand to me at my arrival and until I have a position?

Does Uncle believe that a poor, but swift and untiring, girl can in an honest way earn a meager living through the work of her hands? 

Well, dear uncle has provided passage to America as requested.

Dear uncle has “extended a protecting hand” upon her arrival.

Does dear uncle find a job for her?

Lovis writes to Eric, 19 December 1868:
Thousands of thank yous for your dear letter that we received on May 19 and all goodness you proved Hannah in many different ways.  I would be a joy if Hannah always remembered this and is thankful towards you.  The gold ring was lost was sad they have not found it[.]  ... My man with me joins in hearty greetings to you yours and Hannah

Sounds like Eric provided not only for transportation all the way to Gaylordsville, Connecticut from Örebro, Sweden but also helped her find a job nearby.

Hannah goes to work for the Bostwick family in New Milford. Gaylordsville is part of New Milford, so it could be a couple miles away or next door.
In the 1870 US Census for New Milford, “Johanna Helston" age 20 is listed as a domestic servant.

This might not have been the kind of work that she was used to at home when she described herself as “used to brewing, commerce, and rough work.”
She probably has plenty of opportunity to "earn a meager living thru the work of her hands" working as a domestic servant.  She has agreed to work for the Bostwicks for two years.

So, did Johanna live happily ever after in America as she dreamed?
Stay tuned!

©2015, Erica Dakin Voolich
The link to this post is

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dear Uncle!

Eric Adolf Helsten immigrated to the United States in 1845.  He married Mary Hearty, an Irish immigrant, in 1849.  They worked hard and raised a family in Gaylordsville Connecticut.  None of his dozen siblings followed him, however, he kept in touch with letters that were shared back home between his mother and siblings.  One can only imagine how life in the the USA must have looked from afar to the children of a brother who was not doing very well back in Sweden.

Eric’s niece Johanna Carolina Hellsten decides to write to her uncle, appealing for funds to travel:

Sweden, Mosås and Södrabro
24 May 1867

Good Day, beloved Uncle!

Please be so good as to pardon me that I, as the daughter of Uncle’s Brother Carl, with this our taking the liberty to write these lines, which my father does not have time to do, to divulge my heartfelt wish and to beg for an affectionate and happy answer to the questions below, that for me are extremely important and have bearing on my future.

As my dear Father this last year has ceased his work as a brewer and country shop owner and now lives in reduced circumstances and therefore can not afford to keep all four of us children at  home, I, as a big, strong, healthy seventeen  year old girl, used to brewing, commerce, and rough work and who longs for work in an unknown country where no one finds fault with one’s honest work or despises the virtuous for his poverty.
This in addition to the fact that many of my acquaintances have already left for, the employer America, which is why I, too, this fall intend to go there, if some noble person would help me with travel money and good advice at the arrival.

Since I have heard that Uncle is rich and happy in the country to which many long to go, I now set my hopes and prayers to Uncle for a kind answer to:

Could my dear Uncle please be so kind as to via a postal order to Upsala or a letter give, or, if need be, loan me 200 Kr for travel money?

Could my Uncle have use for, or know somebody, me as hired help for anything?

Could Uncle extend a helping and protecting hand to me at my arrival and until I have a position?

 Does Uncle believe that a poor, but swift and untiring, girl can in an honest way earn a meager living through the work of her hands?

Please be so kind and make me  happy with a longed for answer mailed to my or my father’s address “Sweden Mosås and Södrabo”, which will decide my future fate, because if I receipt travel money and good advice, I plan to leave this fall.

My parents are, thank the Lord, in good health despite all their trouble and ask to send their heartfelt greetings in this letter, and also with loving thoughts for my future give me permission to leave.

In sincere hopes of Uncle’s loving kindness to me, with much respect, the grateful niece now persists.

Johanna Carolina Hellsten

Such a heartfelt appeal.  It turns out it came along with a letter from her father, Carl Robert Hellsten (Karl, Calle).  He confirms their desperate situation and appeals for both of them to come to the USA.

Örebro and Yellersta 
26 May 1867

Brother Eric

It is many years since we last exchanged letters and many things have happened since then.  You know from my last letter that I was thinking of going to America.  Now this trip has again come to my mind and even my oldest daughter Johanna wishes to do the same trip.  Wherefore she here encloses her letter to you.  

It is our wish since we hear many tempting letters from America from the ones how have gone there.  I do know that everybody is not lucky in America but that hard work and frugality is a way to blessing.  But here in Sweden it is a dishonor to work because vanity has taken over.  I have now been on my own for eighteen years and during this time made myself know to be frugal, sober and to work hard but this is not enough here.  Under this time of 18 years, I have  had a general store and during the last 10 years also had a brewery but in spite of all this I had to declare bankruptcy last fall and during this last winter have started to do cork cutting.  But loss in circumstances are such her that it is not worth it for the poor to try since [if] he has [declared] bankruptcy [and] if he manages to work, everything up again he loses whatever he inherits or earns without mercy. What then do you have for all the work you do?  

In the enticing letters I have read from America they testify to the one who wants to work there does not need to starve.  I think I know that all who go to America do not have luck there but it is even so an advantage that you do not have to be ashamed over earning a living in an honest manner.  If my information about America is not complete, I ask  you to inform me about this but judging from the information I have received, America has big preferences for Swedes.  Why should one then bind oneself then to this meager country?  

Some of my neighbors have now gone to America and others plan to but we don’t have the money to go.  Please give us a complete information as possible and if you consider it reasonable for us to try to work in America and then help us both with the money that  you have here in Sweden to lend us as travel money to America.  Our brother Theodor Emanuel in Upsala has them.  We want to work off the money when we come to you.  This is the only security I can give you if you would be kind enough to help me us.

Write an answer soon and  help us if you find you would like to do so.  Let me also know if brewing beer is profitable in America and also if cork cutting is profitable.  If the trip there happens, I would prefer to work in a brewery or, if that’s not possible, in another kind of factory.  I assume that  you  have some Swedish acquaintances in New York that you could be kind enough to address us to when we arrive.

Now dear brother I have written about all that concerns the trip to America.  We can have much to write about but it is much better to be able to have a real conversation about it.  I will also mention that all of us siblings are alive and as far as I know everyone is in good health.  

Lovis is married to a shop owner 20 Km from here whose name is A Nelzon.  Mari is close to Stockholm, Lina is in Upland and not far from Upsala Erica and Wennström are well.  Tilda is in Stockholm.  Ottiljana is in Upsala with our maternal aunt.   Now as before, Edla is a manager (director) at the Upsala Hospital.  Manne is a watchmaker in Upsala.  Frans is a goldsmith in Upsala Oskar is a watchmaker in Stockholm.  Knut is a teacher in the big school in Upsala.  Everyone has it well except for me and Oskar.  Oskar declared bankruptcy the same time I did and now I don’t know how he has it.

I hereby end this letter for this time with a kind greeting for yours from us.

Your brother, Carl

Carl Hellsten, Johanna's father

Such heartfelt appeals to Eric, uncle and brother in the USA who must have wealth and success from his hard work, doesn’t everyone?

Does Eric send the requested funds as his niece suggested and bring over his niece and brother?
Or, does Eric let then use the funds that their brother Manne is holding for Eric in Uppsala?

Erica does write in pencil on the bottom of Carl’s letter “From L there are two steamers leaving or more every week.”  He checks out the costs and availabilities for travel.  Travel is much better in 1867 than when he and his wife came in steerage in the equivalent of the “coffin ships” — no steamers for their earlier, much longer, trips.  The travel across the Atlantic Ocean has improved in the last couple of decades.

The letter beloe from his brother Manne (Theodor Emanual Hellsten) indicates Eric’s decision and the means of funding the trip, instead of just sending the suggested 200 Kr each to cover the trips.

Upsala 29 October 1867

Best Brother Eric!

From our heart I wish your daughter and son-in-law happiness and blessings.  We’d also like to thank  you for the pictures that you sent us.  As you promised in a letter to our brother Carl that he or his oldest daughter Hanna could borrow your inheritance from our parents to pay for the trip to America and Hanna decided to go, I have now sent the money to Lovis, she is married and living in the neighborhood of Örebro as you probably know with a request to her that she give the money to Hanna when she is ready to travel.  The reason why the sum of money isn’t bigger can be explained by the following statements.  While our mother was alive, she lent Calle 700 crowns which including interest 6% counted up to the day of dividing up the estate 3 November 1864 adds up to 77 crowns 37 öre which sum he has not been able to pay back.  When you subtract from this sum his inheritance he still owed each and everyone of his siblings 36 crowns, 45 öre.  About a year ago he had to go bankrupt without any assets.  At the time of the partition of the inheritance, we siblings did decide to send you at some time a gold ring that belonged to mother and she used and also a teaspoon since we wanted you to have a tangible memory from our parents’ home.  These things I will send to Lovis at the same time as the money and ask her to give them to Hanna to bring to you after a safe trip.  I now have to end these lines with many loving greetings from all of us to you and yours.

Your brother Manne

My wife sends many greetings to you and promises to write at another time.

So Eric will fund one of his two family members to travel at this time.
His mother Lovisa Charlotta Robert Hellsten died in 1863.  There was a small estate which brother Manne was the executor.  Eric’s share has been held in Uppsala and managed by Manne. BUT, the funds are not as large as Eric expected because there was a debt: brother Calle had borrowed 700 Kr from their dear departed mother and never repaid her and now that debt is shared equally among the other 12 siblings.

Manne has forwarded the travel funds to their sister Lovis in Örebro who lives near Calle and Johanna and Lovis will give the money to Hannah (Johanna) when she is ready to travel.  He did not forward the funds directly to his bankrupt brother.

Eric’s sister Otillia writes him on 29 October 1867:
Hanna who has the courage to travel to America[,] yes god[,] let her happily and well arrive there

This letter from Manne was written to Eric at the end of October 1867.
So, did Johanna immediately leave for the USA in the fall of 1867?

Maybe waiting till spring might make for a more pleasant transatlantic crossing.
Stay tuned.

©2015 Erica Dakin Voolich
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Letters from Home during the Great Famine in Ireland

Letter from home, 1849, written on one side, folded up and addressed
on the other side of the  piece of paper -- no envelope needed.

Mary Hearty was born in March 1823 in Parish Creggan, Townland Dorsey, County Armagh, Ireland.  She immigrated to Haviland Hollow New York in 1848 and married a Swedish immigrant, Eric Adolf Helsten in 1849.
After her granddaughter, Marion Evans Dakin died in 1974, two letters from Mary's father, Owen, were found in the family desk.  The two letters along with Mary and Eric's wedding certificate are the only family artifacts we have about Mary's family back home.

I have found her father Owen Hearty, in the 1828 Tithe Applotment in Dorsey as a small tenant farmer with 4 acres, 2 roods and 12 perches (a bit less than 5 acres)-- not exactly a large farm to support a family in good times, let alone the bad ones.  The letters mention a sister, Betty, and some cousins (Peter Garvey in Youngstown OH, Ellen Mooney in Syracuse NY,  Larggh Hearty in Philadelphia PA, and Frances Hearty in USA) but no mother.  I do not have a name for her mother.
Letter from Owen Hearty in Dorsey, to his daughter
Mary Hearty in Haviland Hollow, NY, 11 July 1949.
Haviland Hollow Putnam
County State of New York
Care of Benjamin Cowl
for Mary Hearty”

Mr Owen Hearty
Dorsey and Cragon
Newtown Hamletown
Aragon Parish

        “Dorsey July 11th 1849
My Dear daughter I am glad to Hear
That you are in good health and so are
we all in at present I am going to lot you
Know that Bety sent a leter and send as
much money as will Bringe Barney and Bety
Over to  you and the time is so Bad that I cant
send none and the will give it to you when
the will get it and this Country is going to the
Bad your father is not staut and if you can get
money send it Home No more at present
But remain your Father Owen Hearty
                    of Dorsey

Mary Hearty married Eric Adolf Helsten on 12 August 1849, shortly after the first letter was sent from  Ireland.  She has probably been working as a maid for Benjamin Cowl in Haviland Hollow and Eric has probably been working in Cowl's tannery in Haviland Hollow.  Times as tough back home, the potato crop has failed, please send money to help her sister Betty come to USA.  

Mary received one more letter from her father, Owen, dated 24 January 1851.  This is much longer, has some news from people back home who have come to the USA, still appealing for money.

Mr E. A. Helsten
Heviland Hollow P.Off
State New York America
postmark:  Castleblayney JA23 1851

Dorsey January 24th 1851
Dear Mary
I received your Letter
which gives me to understand that
you are in Good as we enjoy at Present
thank God = I also must inform you 
we felt very uneasy on account of you
not writing Sooner as it is all the Conso-
Lation the devised Children of erin has
a communication by Letter therefore
I consider it a duty incumbent on
you at Least to write 2 a year at ther 
Least I was also very much rejoiced
to hear of  your success and how luck
you and your Husband is doing ---
in that country as for this country it
is totally Gone to the Bad the Potatoes
is altogether failed & Markets are very
Low in Consequences of the Ports being
all opened
therefore on account of the Stater of
the Country thus is condition of Money
at all your sister Betty is inclined
for to go to that County only she is
embarrysed By the State of the time
and cannot find means to go therefore
I Would feel Greatly oblidged to you &
your Husband if you would send money
some assistance that would enable her to
Go & as Soon as she would earn it She would
See you Paid -- & in regard to sending money
there is no danger whatever as there can
Be a Post office order got in every Post
office that there is not the Least danger
in sending such = Do you need not Be the
Least timerous in sending it a she will
Surely Renumerate you for it = in regard
to Ellen Mooney her address is E..Mooney
Syracuse State Newyork =
So Larggh Hearty is in Philadelphia
I do not Know her address
I must also inform you that  your
cousin Francis Hearty is also gone
to that country & is your cousins
Owen Rooney & Peter Garvey is gone to
that country Peter is in college in
Youngstown State of Penna. & owen Rooney
is a clark in Syracuse State new-
york they are all doing well ---
your friends are all in good health
& also your neighbors
be all elevated to Learn you had 
the good fortune to get such a Husband
as I can Judge that he is an industrious
man & also a good tradesman ---
therefore Let  you Put your Confidence
in the almighty as he is our only guide
& Protector & May the Lord Bless You
is the Sincere Prayer of your affectionate
father ---- Owen hearty ---

He has news, but also is appealing 2 letters/year from her and for funds for Betty to come.  He clearly has gotten a letter from Mary telling her father of her marriage to Eric.  Clearly, Owen has hope that his daughter will be able to send funds, but life in the USA was not all "milk and honey" as imagined and she didn't have the money to send home at that time, according to the draft of the next letter.
We have no further letters from Owen Hearty to his daughter Mary Hearty Helsten.   The last piece of tangible information about Owen Hearty is that letter in 1851 to his daughter.  He is not listed as living in Dorsey in the Griffith's Valuation of 1864.  There is an Owen Hearty in the next town over -- whether it is the same person is to be determined.  In the Griffith's Valuation in Dorsey there is a Patrick Hearty and in the Cancelation Books in PRONI written in "()" is the word "Owen" --
Patrick Hearty (Owen).  
Not sure what that actually means.  Maybe Patrick was the tenant and Owen lived with him (just a guess).

We do have the notes for a draft of a letter, probably to Betty, Mary's sister, written by Eric some time after they have bought the tannery in Gaylordsville in July 1852.  Eric is no longer an employee, but now an indebted employer.  

   Dear Sister Elizabeth!   We have received
your letter which gives us the satisfaction that you
are in good health and have a good place where
you be also gave us to understand thatt you are
fully determined to go to America but have not the
strength on own expense to do so.  We think that if you
only was here you could do well butt how come i do nott know.
My situation is greatill different these year to whatt is was
last year.  Last year i did hire out and earnd money every day
and had money out on interest, but last spring
I took it all up and hired a tanyeard, about seven
milles from where i lived thern, and began on own hand
to work, laid out all the money had in hides skins and bark for so
stach my yeard and there is did not have enough i had to
borrow more money all i could get for i found out i had to lay out money
every day.  Tanning is a very slow buiseyness and it take
a great while before the money comes balk again.  I feel
sorrow to say thatt i could not give you any money for
your assistance but i ask you to not blame us for my situation
are so that i could not and my bussiness require money 
allwhile and i have nothing more then what i have
worked very hard for since i com to America and it seems
to me as i could make more money when i  worked as
Journeyman than i can now and beside that i have to now more
risk of loses among those Yankys now than before.  I ask you now
to be of a contented mind and save all you can if may perhaps be som oppening
for you in the future. If you could come we  would be very
glade to see you here and do what we can for you
then.  You know that your sister had to work for all that
brought her here before she started and so did i too.  i had
to work for years befor i could get enough together to bring me
YoJ received Fathers letter great while ago and also yours but you
must excuse me for we had not wrought Sooner my time has been
taken up very much all while and my wife could not write
it because she never leand it

This letter was not signed and not sent since it was with Eric and Mary's papers in the desk -- maybe copied and mailed to Mary's sister Betty.
Eric does offer to help her if she can get herself to Connecticut.  He cannot afford to pay her passage.    Over the years Eric and Mary did help various nieces of his from Sweden when they came, many lived with them and got jobs in the neighborhood until out on their own. Eric also hired new Swedish immigrants in the family  business -- as apprentices when it was a tannery, and as assistants as the business evolved over the years.

In my effort to find any more information on the Hearty family of Dorsey, part of Creggan Parish, I corresponded with Kiernan McConville at the Creggan Historical Society.   I shared the above letters with him.  He was thrilled to see some letters from the Famine Years written by ordinary people from South Armagh, which he commented were very rare.  He asked to include them in an upcoming journal of their local historical society.

Well, that upcoming journal has arrived:

Kieran McConville, "Hearty (of Dorsey) Great Famine Letters 1849-1851," Creggan, journal of The Creggan Local History Society, 2013/2014, no. 16, pages 80-84.

In the article, Kieran starts by putting the letters into context.  He describes the famine conditions, the cause and spread, and the ineffective efforts to relieve the famine.  He goes on to describe the migrations and death rate that devastated the Irish population.  He gives what background we know about the Hearty family and on Mary's family.  He mentions the hopes of sending a child abroad brought but in many times remained unfulfilled.  He ends with the transcription of the three letters.

I can only hope that maybe the descendants of Mary's family back in Ireland, survived and will see this article and/or blog and contact me.  If not, if the letters & article provide information for others whose ancestors came from Creggan Parish, then that is good also.

2014©Erica Dakin Voolich

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Bundle of Letters: Such a Treasure!

Marion Evans Dakin
playing a game she loved,  Scrabble

When Nana, my grandmother Marion Evans Dakin, died on the 4th of July in 1974, her only son who had survived to adulthood, had already died two years before her.  As her oldest granddaughter, I found myself as her executrix ... a whole new world of responsibility added to the life of a mother juggling a couple of kids.  Commuting to Connecticut was more than I could do, so we put the crib on the top of our car and stayed in her house for eight weeks, first as she was dying from a stroke and then afterwards as we cleaned out her house and settled her estate.

My siblings joined me part of the time as we discovered we were on a treasure hunt.

An old Jacquard woven rug which was much older
than Nana that we found in her house.

I knew Nana had quilts made by her mother-in-law, Mother Dakin (Mary Alice Smith Dakin) but we had no idea how many quilts were there not just on the beds but hidden in trunks in the the attic.  We all went home with antique quilts and I documented them in my book Quilts in our Family.  When I had visited her a month before Nana died we had taken the quilts off the beds a couple of other quilts to the nursing home where she was staying so she could put on a quilt exhibit.  One of the quilts was a sampler quilt and she spent the last month of her life finding the names of each quilt square.  Ironically, the morning the quilt exhibit was to open, the nursing home called me to say she had had a stroke.  When I arrived in Connecticut, they were questioning whether to open her "show" of quilts.  I said "of course, show the quilts, that's what she wanted."  When I told her they had "opened" the show, she squeezed my hand.
Some of Mary Alice Smith's quilts
Not so dramatic in appearance, was a bundle of letters tied together with a string in the back of her desk.  I looked at them and saw that I couldn't possibly read them -- they were in Swedish.  I knew her grandfather Eric Helsten was from Sweden but I didn't know much else about him.  I assumed these must have been his.  I put them in my stuff to take home not knowing whether I would ever be able to read them.  Ten years later, I had a Swedish colleague who was willing to try to translate some of them for me -- she would read while I scribed. 
1858 letter from Eric's mother,
Lovisa Charlotta Robbert Hellsten 

 It took about 30 years before they were all translated, but what a treasure!  Eric was one of 13 children and everyone of his siblings and his mother took on personalities.  Eric's father had died unexpectedly, leaving his wife with young children including a baby.  Eric was the oldest son, a teenager, and he had older sisters.  He apprenticed as a tanner in Sweden and when there wasn't much work.  He came to the USA in 1845, settling first in Haviland Hollow NY and then moving to Gaylordsville CT when he bought his own tannery.
Eric Adolf Helsten

Back in the 1980s, we had enough letters translated that I was able to piece together a bit of Eric's family tree and when my wonderful colleague/translator traveled to Sweden for Christmas, while there she wrote the Uppsala parish vital records office and a few weeks later I had a letter from Alice, a "cousin."  Alice's grandfather and Nana's grandfather were brothers.  Years ago my grandmother visited Uppsala Sweden but didn't know about Alice, so they never met.  I had a chance to visit Alice back in 1984 before she died in 1990.  Such a treasure hidden in a bundle of letters.  It's too bad my grandmother never new the contents of what she had carefully saved.

I have taken the 86 Swedish letters and documents, had them translated and put them together in chronological order.   I researched Eric's family back in Sweden and his life in the USA.  I wrote a book for my family this year which is the story of Eric's family on both continents.  A Ring and a Bundle of Letters has been 30 years in the making with the help of three wonderful translators who not only read Swedish but also could decipher the old handwriting, structure and spelling.  

The book is available from

Such a treasure!

©2013, Erica Dakin Voolich

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Family Story, a Bit of Investigation and the "The Rest of the Story"

My mother used to tell the story about her mother-in-law's Aunt Mary:

Mary lived to be 92.  In her old age, her family became concerned about  her living alone on the family farm.  They insisted that she move in with her daughter-in-law.  Each day, Mary would get up, hitch up the horse and  wagon, ride up to her home, spend the day and then return at night to sleep at her daughter-in-law's home.  When she died, Marion Dakin, her niece, helped to clean out the house.  Marion found all of the "new  fangled" gifts--a toaster, an iron, etc.-- she had given her over the  years still in their original boxes.


Mary Louise Helsten was the oldest child of Eric Adolf Helsten and his wife Mary Hearty.  Mary L was born in Patterson New York on 7 June 1850, and the next year her family moved to Gaylordsville Connecticut where she grew up. In 1878, shortly before turning twenty-eight, she married a widower, Charles Pomeroy, who had a teenage son Henry.   Henry was the child of Charles Pomeroy and Josephine Hallock Pomeroy

No one in the family told any stories (that I recall) of Aunt Mary Pomeroy as a step-mother, or wife -- just as an elderly woman who lived thirty-nine years after her husband died in 1903.  She was fifty-three years old when her husband died.  So what was she doing for thirty-nine years?  She never remarried.  How did she support herself?

A little bit of searching in the US Census:
• 1850 can't find Charles Pomeroy
• 1860 Charles Pomeroy (age 26) and Gertrude Pomeroy (16) are living with Ithamar (63) and Louisa (60) Ferris in New Milford, Conn.
• 1870 Charles Pomeroy (35) and his wife Josephine Pomeroy (24) are living in Litchfield, Conn on her parents' farm, Homer (60) and Caroline (55) Hallock.  Charles is working as a farm laborer.
• 1880 Charles Pomeroy (45) and Mary L (30) and son Henry (17) are farmers in Litchfield, Conn.
• 1900 Charles Pomeroy (65) and Mary L (49) are living in New Milford, Litchfield, Conn. and he is a farmer.
• 1910 Mary Pomeroy (59), widow is living in New Milford, has a hired hand (under relationship), who is listed as a "farmer," not "farm hand" (under occupation) ... THE REST OF THE STORY... 


I was looking at Miriam J Robbins site to search for city directories.  She had some links for New Milford, Connecticut and I was working my way through the directories checking out various family names.  I started noticing the ads.  This half-page ad was run in the directories for 1884-5, 1888-9, 1891, 1897:

Looks like Charles Pomeroy was not only farming.  If you take a look at his farm.  Sure looks like it is also a lumber yard on the right:

Not only does it look like both a farm and a lumberyard, but look between the buildings, set back, there is the house that Mary lived in with her husband Charles and, in her later years, would drive her horse and wagon to daily to spend her days in her latter  years.

Charles Pomeroy died in 1903, and by 1902, he no longer had his large ad.  He was listed, instead, in small listings under the individual items sold, such as "FERTILIZERS"

Now for the rest of the story.  What was Mary doing after her husband died?

Here is the listing for the various Pomeroy family members in 1914 in New Milford

"Pomeroy ...
--Mary wid Charles hardware and lumber Merwins-
     ville n Gaylordsville h do"

Written out without abbreviations:
 Pomerory Mary, widow of Charles, hardware and lumber [business] in Merwinsville near Gaylordsville, home ditto [she lived where she worked, a "home-based business" in today's lingo].

Looks like Mary was busy.  According to the small ads in that 1914  directory, she had listings under:
Hardware and Cutlery, Lumber, and Mason Materials.  Even if, in the address book section, she is "Mary, widow of Charles;" when listing 'Mary the businesswoman,' she was "Mrs. Charles Pomeroy" in the directory:

In 1914, she is sixty-four years old and clearly working at the family business that her husband started and ran in addition to the farm.

The next online directory I found for New Milford, was 1927.  Here she is listed as "Mary E wid Charles h Gaylordsville" and her grandson Charles, son of Henry is running the business.

In the 1930 census she and her daughter-in-law, Caroline Pomeroy (63), are living together in New Milford, they are each widows, she is the head of household at age 79. In 1940, she is still the head of household, now at age 89 she has her step-daughter-in-law Edna C Pomeroy (74) living with her in her own home, as she was in 1935.  She completed two years of high school according to the census.

In the 1930 census, the property listed right before Mary Pomeroy has Charles C Pomeroy, and it is listed as farm and lumber!  So, sometime before 1930, her grandson has taken over the family business.


One final thought.
I was looking at Charles Pomeroy's ad.  He is selling "Box Shooks."
"Shook" was a term that I wasn't familiar with.  So I looked it up in the Free Dictionary by  Farlex.
A shook:  "a disassembled barrel; the parts packed for storage or shipment"
Maybe you learned a new word today too!

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©Erica Dakin Voolich 2013