I made the decision to focus on the women when I head up our family tree. So many family history books tell you about the vital records of the men, extol their deeds and adventures and maybe if we are lucky tell us the full names of their wives and a hint as to her family. I feel that family history should be more than just birth, marriage and death dates -- to celebrate our families, we should include their stories, after all they were people, not just a list of dates, and thanks to them we are all here now. Not all of their stories are going to include record-shattering achievements of world leaders, and most likely no one in the family is that famous person.
Last year I focused on three women in my grandmother's generation: Adelaide Copeland Harvey Richardson, Marion Elizabeth Evans Dakin and Clarice Theodora Evans.
This year it is time to move on to my great grandmother's generation: Mary Alice Smith Dakin, Caroline Matilda Helsten Evans, Mary Louisa Helsten Pomeroy, Martha Elnora Worthington Richardson, and Alice Copeland Harvey.
Last year I knew all three women. This year I've heard a few stories about these women, but all of them died before I was born, so I did not personally know them. I have relied on what I was able to find in my research, and what I could confirm from family stories, and what I could find by following the clues found in "stuff" left in my grandmother's home when she died in 1974.
Starting with the women on paternal side, two great grandmothers and a great great aunt....
|Mary Alice Smith Dakin (1855-1931)|
Mary Alice Smith Dakin (30 April 1855 - 13 November 1931) was born and raised on the Smith family farm in South Kent, Connecticut. Her uncle Orange Smith, who lived with her family, volunteered for the Civil War. When she was eight, she received a letter from him from Louisiana. Orange writes about feeling tried -- he doesn't say it, but they had lost a major battle just before he wrote. There were two other letters to her father from Orange -- he was in the War till the end and his letters are revealing and interesting when compared to the documentation of the battles for his outfit, the Connecticut 13th. But there was more to her life than her uncle's war experience and letters home.
Mary grew up to be the local school teacher who married Edward Dakin, the general store owner/postmaster for South Kent in 1880 -- that was definitely a home-based business with the store and postoffice downstairs and their family's rooms upstairs. She was a farm girl, he had worked as a farmhand before purchasing the store and so they sold the store and bought their own farm in Gaylordsville and settled into their life on their animal-driven farm. Her son Robert Edward (Rob) Dakin was born on 2 July 1888 and while he was growing up, a man with a vision approached farmers in Gaylordsville whose farms bordered on the Housatonic River. He envisioned the power of water to generate electricity -- Mary and Edward sold a rather zig-way path across their farm, right past their home and barns, that the canal for the Bulls Bridge Power Plant would follow. On the farm were tents housing the Italian immigrants who were hand digging the canal. Unfortunately, the power plant was finished without bringing electricity to the surrounding neighbors who had put up with disruption to their quiet farm and small town lives. Her son Rob went to college -- first in the family to go-- and became a civil engineer who helped build the addition to the power plant and bring power to the community.
|Some of Mary Alice Smith Dakin's quilts.|
|Mary Alice Smith Dakin's sampler quilt which was|
donated to the New Milford Historical Society.
There is more about Mary in Remember the Women! Heading up the Branches of our Women's Family Tree, part 2.
|Caroline Matilda Helsten Evans|
As a young adult, Carrie worked as a seamstress taking in piece work and sewing clothes for families in Kent between 1876 and 1880. On 26 May 1881, she married Charles H Evans who lived at the top of the hill, just over the townline into Sherman. Her father was a local businessman and so was her husband. Her husband was building homes and buildings, including the new Town Hall for Sherman. Charles and his brother Edward went into construction business together and built houses next door to each other in Sherman where Carrie and Charles started raising their family. She had four children: Harold H (born 8 January 1883), Clarice Theodora (born 21 April 1884), Marion Elizabeth (born 11 February 1886) and Howard Eric (born 1893). In 1888, Carrie and her husband moved their family to Great Barrington, Massachusetts when Charles and his brother saw a business opportunity with the building boom up north. Carrie raised her children there while coming back to Gaylordsville as her parents needed their help. She and Charles moved eventually moved back and took over the family's business ventures in Gaylordsville when her parents died. While in Great Barrington, Carrie joined the currents events group but she was a woman caring for others -- her children, her parents and then her grandchildren. When her daughter Marion was married with two children in Danbury, her son-in-law got sick with the flu. Carrie went to Danbury to help Marion nurse her husband and care for the children. They sent the oldest child, Teddy to stay with Carrie's sister Mary in Gaylordsville. Soon, Carrie was also sick. In a 5 day period, Carrie, her grandson Edward and son-in-law Rob Dakin had all died from the flu, in the 1918 Flu Pandemic.
|Mary Louisa Helsten Pomeroy|
Carrie's older sister, Mary Louisa Helsten Pomeroy, was born in Haviland Hollow, Patterson, New York (7 June 1850 - 23 May 1942). Her Irish mother, Mary Hearty, survived the coffin-ship trip across the Atlantic to to marry Swedish immigrant father Eric Helsten. They both worked for Benjamin Cowl; he as a tanner, she as maid. Mary and Carrie's thrifty parents saved their money and bought their own tannery across the border in Gaylordsville, Connecticut, moved to the house in front and raised their family there. Mary was the oldest of four, so she was busy helping her mother in the household that also included apprentices who worked in the tannery.
Mary and Carrie's father was an entrepreneur. Eric ran the tannery, but seeing there were other opportunities, he built a dam on the Wimisink and closed the tannery and opened a mill. Now he was a dealer in grain and lumber. Eric even published and sold a pamphlet on how to say a man from drowning after doing so himself. Eric partnered with another local businessman, Charles Pomeroy for a while. Then Charles Pomeroy partnered with Charles H Evans, who Carrie married. The Charles and Charles partnership ended when Carrie's husband went into the Evans Brothers Construction business with his brother. Gaylordsville and Sherman were small towns that bordered each other and so everyone seemed to know everyone else. Charles Pomeroy was a widower with a teenaged son and Mary married him on 6 March 1878, even though he was sixteen years older. Charles Pomeroy was also entrepreneurial, he sold lumber out of the barn on their farm, bought teams of oxen to sell, and opened a hardware store. He was a very busy man, and close friend to Mary's father and mother. This closeness is possibly what brought about some of the concerns and distance of Mary and Carrie's other two siblings, William and Sarah (you'll have to read the book for details). He was so close that Eric named him executor of his estate.
Mary and Carrie's parents died four months apart, Mary in September 1902 and Eric January 1903. Mary was still mourning the death of her parents when her husband died suddenly in July 1903. She applied to the court to take on the job of administratrix for her parents' estate and she did so with a co-administrator. She took on the job of running the family's home-based business of the lumber yard and hardware store for a number of years until her step-son and grandson took over many years later.
This is just a hint about the lives of these three women, born mid-1800s, before the Civil War and lived through World War 1. They met the challenges of the first half of the 20th century. The events of their lives fill about the first 200 pages of Remember the Women! Heading up the Branches of our Women's Family Tree, Part 2.
My next blog post will be about the two women filling the last 200 pages of Remember the Women, part 2.
©2018 Erica Dakin Voolich
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