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 Mary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HELSTEN Mary. Show all posts

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!

The link to this post is

©Erica Dakin Voolich 2013

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thoughts on the contents of the testimony in John CARLSON vs Eric HELSTEN

Back on 26 July, I posted on my G+ page that I was trying to transcribe the document that I have posted here in my last few blog posts.
On the 27th, I commented on the first part, based on Eric's testimony:

 Finished transcribing the document. There were whole chunks of it that I couldn’t make out. It sounds like John was an orphan from Sweden that Eric took in when he was 14 going on 15 in 1858. He was given clothes, shoes, boots and room and board in trade for work. I think he might have left after 2 years and gone to live with a different family. It sounds like Eric didn’t think he was always truthful. At some point he was injured and I suspect this suit was about the injury and his lameness. Did it happen in a sledding accident with William (Eric’s son) or did it happen at work? Fascinating. Now I wonder how the court suit was settled.

Once I sent Chris the document and she spent time trying to transcribe the testimony (her transcription was very close to mine), she had her own comments:  

    The intrigue of this "deposition" escalates as I finish - for now - the attempt at translating the 145 year-old handwritten in pencil faded pages into a coherent narrative.  Three of us have now tried our best to decipher the barely visible words on brittle paper.  There are still omissions and probably many errors, but the intent of the writer is becoming more understandable with each attempt at transcribing.
    My guess is that the sentences and words are choppy because of multiple factors.  English was a second language for both Eric Helsten and John Carlson.  Mrs. Helsten was Irish.  I believe Dr. St. John was quite old at this time, and William, son of Eric, was quite young when the accident in question happened.  In addition, it appears that much of the recorded dialogue is answers to questions - and the questions themselves are not written down.  There are many responses of "same as before" as if they are answering a question that had been previously asked in another session and they all respond "same as before".
    A final observation is that possibly there were two injuries or accidents or that John originally came to Eric lame to some extent.  I just get the feeling as I read and re-read that there is so much more missing than what we have here.
    If I had to say what I think happened I would probably say it went something like this.  John was a small orphaned boy who went to work for Eric.  He had nothing when he came to their door and they gave him clothing and shelter in exchange for John working in Eric's tannery on the river.  John had problems - he was not always truthful and he ran away on more than one occasion, but always went back.  When sledding on the hill, probably near Eric's dam on the river, John slipped and went over the dam hurting his ankle or foot.  Eric, also a shoemaker, had a special boot made for John with a brace of some sort which John did not want to wear.  There were arguments over John's visits to the doctor and his behavior about the injury.  Maybe he could work - maybe he could not.  At some point John goes to Rufus Beeman's house, a Gaylordsville neighbor, and lives there 4 years.  It is unclear whether or not John continued to work for Eric in the tannery, however my family records would indicate he did fulfill the 7 year apprenticeship with Eric Helsten.
    Why John is suing Eric is a major puzzle.  It would seem it would have been Eric suing John!  The search for answers continues!!

I would add a further comment.  I think Eric had sent to NY for an apprentice as he had done before; and I think he was expecting someone to arrive, but instead, or in addition, John arrived.  From the description of his arrived, it sounds like John was more of a child than someone ready to learn a trade.  He needed clean clothes immediately upon arrival, he wet his bed, he was reluctant to learn English, he wanted to play with Eric's son William.  Eric and Mary took him in, tried to provide for him, teach him the language and give him work.  

Who knows whether it was a successful apprenticeship.  We do know that they took in an orphan who probably had nowhere else to go and did give him work and a home.  If Eric was solely making the decision about taking in this person who arrived at his door as a business manner, looking at just who would be a good apprentice, John probably would not have gotten the job.

We do know John did become an adult, with a limp, who made his way in the world in Indiana after leaving Connecticut.   I don't think he worked as a tanner there.

John CARLSON vs Eric HELSTEN: Eric's testimony along with Mrs Helsten, son William and Dr St John

The box where Eric HELSTEN stored his important papers (including this document).
The "footprint" of the box is 11" by 5".

If you have been following the story of the deposition in this case, you know that we have a pencil copy of the depositions but don't actually know what the suit was or how it was resolved. The writing is VERY light, the handwriting inconsistent (sometimes abbreviated or close to scribble) and the paper fragile and so it is very hard to read.  This might have been a "scratch copy" and then recopied in ink for the court.  What you have below is the rest of the testimony after three of us have tried to transcribe the document (this is the best we can decipher!).  Why Eric HELSTEN even had this copy is another puzzle.

Reading this does not answer the question as to what the suit was about or how it was resolved.  It DOES give some real personalities to Eric and Mary HELSTEN and to John CARLSON.

Evidence taken Sept. 8th
Before Reynolds Justice
Deposition from John Carlson
                          Eric A. Helsten
     It was 1858, he came at my house.  He was a small boy came along and inquired for me.  He had been sent up by someone from New York.  He wanted to stay with me, my wife.  He came….of everything.  I did not make any bargain with him.  I made a bargain with him to give him his board and clothes.  I would finish him with way to go back to Sweden.  His father and mother were dead.  It appeared to me that he had been sent here to avoid when he came said was 15.  He called himself a year older than he was.  I clothed him right off – gave him clothes.  The first night we had a clean shirt put on him.  We had a good deal of trouble with him for the first year  he wet the bed.  He was a small poor boy.  I …. ….  Pictures have this clothes.  He runs.  He did not understand the English language.  I taught him many things and spelling and reading  I always avoided speaking Swedish  to him on this  I took special pains to try to learn him the language.  I thought I could give him better instruction myself as before.  He was well to understand English.  He start tell about the time he stolen himself.  One fault I had against him he sometimes would tell some wrong stories, always tell the truth anytime.  I did not consider no labor than over than his board and clothes.  I kept him at work as before as he could work as you can go.  I favored him because he was lame.  The first I ever heard of his leg hurt was my boy says John liked to get killed the other day  I got a story from both round and on Sunday he was hurt when he came to the top.  William went down the hill to hunt him  John said he was not hurt.  I spoke up said it is a great wonder you did not get killed did not you.  He use ax.  He said he had to let it go.  I got the story from both of them.  After that I forbid both of the boys to slide down hill.  Many evenings I find John sliding down hill.  I took the sled away from him and sent him into the house.  I think it was 6 weeks after that I heard him complain of his foot.  I did not believe at the time he got his foot out of joint and kept it concealed so long.  I asked him if he was hurt and he always denied it.  I went with him over to Dr. St. Johns office.  I went to Dr. St. John’s Office and he never owned up to Dr. that it was hurt,  to my knowledge, how it happened, Dr. was going to examine his foot.  John would not let him touch it.  Pulled it back.  He did not seem to know what it was.  His foot was swollen pretty bad.  John used up that linament and I told him to go and get more.  He went and got more and after that the doctor saw the foot inflamed and the swelling was down.  He said that foot is out of joint.  Run and get a supporter an Spig (some type of screw)  he wear our shirts   This spig was made and put on the boot and fixed for him.  John wore it and after awhile he broke it and I had another one made.  Dr. St. John said he must wear it.  I had another spig put on a new boot for him.  He did not like to wear it  But summer came on and he would rather go barefooted.  He went off but came back again.  I did not know what to think of it.  He always denied being hurt again.  I had seen before that his foot was hurt.  That has always been big influence.  I estimated it at about six weeks when he went off the wall  at this time   If I have know that his ankle was out of join I should have him in doctor right off.
Cross- examination
     He went to work as usual during this time.  I asked him many times if he was hurt.  He did what he could.  He went away the latter part of summer.
He grew very fast when he came.
William Helsten
     Son of Mr. Helsten
     When he went out out over of all of it.  That week on Saturday I think it was sometime after that he began.  I did not notice it that week nor the next.  I guess he did not (tan –maybe)  I don’t remember whether I did or not
Cross examination
     I am 14  I think it was 7 or eight.  I have heard father speak of it.  I think it was in the ….  One foot on each side  I did not see him go lame.  I could not tell whether he was the same as before.
Mrs. Mary Helsten
     He was a poor school boy and I take him  he was a little boy came in.  I want you to go home  ..shall freeze to death.  Said I we we will put up same as before.  I clothed him  I …. The same before run as you do us the same  Then says I intended to do well by him  I could not understand a word as before  Well says I wonder that he was not killed.  I did not notice that he was lame for sometime as before.  John would not let him touch it  we thought it was a swelling, as before then, as before you came
Dr. St. John
     I think its first time.  He came with an ankle badly swelled.  He was very hesitantly to how as this was.  He did not.  I inquired to know the cause of the trouble.  After I think Mr. Helsten told me what William said about him going over the wall.  Have the same as before.  He did not admit that very absolutely  I continue the same as before.  I think it could have been straightened with the support.  Boys sometimes as before you can make the worked as before.  I considered the injury.  I don’t know as this was anything said about this.
He might have the ….
Cross examination
     Ex. A. (Eric A. Helsten)?
     I thought it might be much nothing, but I don’t think be.  I don’t know when he might have done work.  He says he could not do a full days work.  He might have done some work.
Mr. Helsten
     He did not work while he was sick.  I kept him comfortable.
     I think is about 2 years ago he said his hip was out of joint.  He said Dr. ought to have seen it.  He said I always say no   I knew I didn’t   know as you will give me any the….
Know as the same as before

My next post will be Chris's summary of what she has learned from reading this document -- the first thing that has given her any information on her great grandfather John CARLSON when he came to the US.