Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sarah Summers HoH

I doubt that anybody ever dreams of becoming a HoH - Head of Household - but once you are one, it's official that you're in charge of something! And in looking over the 1830 U.S. census, there were a whole lot of men in charge, and for those very few households headed by women, we modern onlookers often assume those women were widows. Maybe they were, maybe they weren't?

Case in point: the 1830 census of Oxford, Warren, New Jersey shows Sarah Summers sandwiched between Jacob and William Summers, with John Summers just two doors down. So given that three Summers brothers are listed in the census, and two Summers brothers had died by then, and one of the deceased brothers (George) had a wife named Sarah, then we almost have to assume that Sarah Summers in the census was George's widow.

But the 1817 Orphan's Court record that made John Summers (Sr) guardian of 2 boys and 2 girls, orphans under 14, didn't quite make sense when compared to the 1830 Oxford census. I figured the very youngest of George's orphans, 2 boys and 2 girls, would have been 14 in 1830. But what do we see in 1830 in the household of Sarah Summers?  3 boys 5-15 and 1 girl 15-20. How could those be the children of George and Sarah?

As mentioned in my post Testimony, we recently found more court records that tell us, among other things, that Sarah remarried to John B. Innis in 1818. Then six years later, Innis died in 1824. Did Sarah change her name BACK to Summers by the time of the census? Even if she did, who are all the kids? Even taking into consideration Sarah's kids, Innis' kids from previous marriage, some kids dying or marrying, new kids being born, still I have not been able to make sense of the household of Sarah Summers in 1830 Oxford. Who the heck was Sarah Summers????

When I realize I'm asking the same question over and over again, and the answer isn't getting any closer, either I'm asking the wrong question, or I'm asking the right question but I'm already anticipating a certain answer in my head. Hmmmm. In this case, the only Sarah being considered was the wife of George, and there was the expectation blocking my view.

Start over. Looking over the Michigan deeds, the censuses, and maps yet one more time, I started to see possible connections between some Summers family members that I wasn't expecting, so I started some shuffling around on the tree. It seemed that two males who I thought might belong as sons of William could possibly have been sons of David. And then a new name, Alfred Summers, might also have had connections into David's family. So a little Musical Chairs, shuffle, shuffle, and now the family group of David Summers - the one who died in 1825 - contained 8 children, 7 boys and 1 girl. And who was the girl? She jumped off the page at me - SARAH! Yes, Sarah H. Summers who would have been 19 years old in 1830, the age category of one of two females in the 1830 Oxford household of Sarah Summers.

Let's look at that 1830 census just one more time. If David had 8 kids when he died, where did they go? Checking his brothers' households, sure enough, Jacob's household had two "extras", both males. We also know that Charles Summers petitioned for and was granted a guardian (William R. Longstreet). So that's three males added to the younger males in Sarah's household, which accounts for all the males in David's reshuffled family except one of the oldest, who we might expect was off on his own at that point. Suddenly it all fits.

In all likelihood, the 1830 Oxford household of Sarah Summers was really the household of Polly Horn Summers, widow of David Summers. Even though Polly was in fact enumerated in her own household, for some unknown reason, the census taker wrote down the name of Polly's only daughter, Sarah. Maybe Sarah was the one who answered the door that day of the Oxford census, and maybe she was pretty and easy to talk to. Or maybe Sarah was standing there in a Supergirl pose, the oldest sibling in a home with 3 little brothers and a recently grieving mother, and it was clear that Sarah Summers was the acting HoH.

No comments:

Post a Comment