The thing about family history that is challenging is the overwhelming focus on the male side of things – surnames, lines of descent, etc. This means (at least for me) that I know very little about even some pretty recent female ancestors.
One example is Polly Ann Farr, my third great-grandmother. She was the 3rd wife of Thomas Belknap (born in 1803), and the mother of Arthur Belknap. She was born in about 1832. The earliest record I have found for her is an application for a marriage license, dated September 18, 1848 to Thomas Belknap in Lorain County, Ohio. I’m not sure if this means they were married on that date or not. The application states that “she is of eighteen years.” I don’t think that’s true though.
The next record is the 1850 U.S. Federal Census for Russia Township in Lorain County. Polly Ann was listed as age 18 and birthplace of Ohio. Thomas’ 11-year-old son Francis is also living with them. In 1860, the family was living in Clinton, Fulton County, Ohio. Polly was listed as 29 and born in Ohio. They had 4 children in addition to Francis by 1860. In 1870, they were living in York Township, Fulton, Ohio and Polly was listed as 38. Now they had 6 children in addition to Francis. In 1880, the last census she is found in, the family was living in Dover Township, Fulton, Ohio. She was listed as 49, born in Ohio. Polly’s father was listed as born in Vermont, while her mother was born in Kentucky. Only three of their children were living with them in 1880.
After all this, she ended up dying at the age of 52 years 3 months in 1887 (according to her pretty unreadable tombstone – I know: the dates don’t add up!), before her husband Thomas, who died in 1889 at the age of 85!
Through DNA, I think Polly Ann’s father may have been Kimball Farr, but I have to do a lot more research to prove it!
Thomas Belknap was born in 1803 to Obadiah Belknap and Abigail Locke in Lisbon, New Hampshire. According to A Standard History of Fulton County, Ohio, “It is known that Thomas Belknap was born on a family homestead in Vermont that had come to his father…in consideration of his service in the War of the Revolution” (page 428). (Although there is some “Tory” talk in the family; somehow the Belknaps ended up in Quebec just over the border since both Obadiah and Abigail are buried there). I’ve also seen a story that mentions that his new step-father did not get along with the step-children, so Thomas went to live with an uncle in Pennsylvania until the age of 21. However, I’ve never found evidence Abigail remarrying after Obadiah’s death.
Thomas married Sally Dearborn in Derby, Vermont on August 1, 1824. She died in 1838. Thomas married Eunice Burns sometime between 1838 and 1848, and they had a son named Francis Marion Belknap who was born in Wisconsin on January 17, 1848. I am assuming Eunice died in childbirth as Thomas then married Polly Ann Farr on September 18, 1848 in Lorain, Ohio.
According to A Standard History of Fulton County, Ohio, “Zera Belknap was the oldest in a family of seven children born to Thomas and Polly Ann (Farr) Belknap, and he was the only one born in Lorain county. He was not yet two years old when his parents came by wagon from Lorain to Fulton county. They encountered many difficulties crossing the black swamp enroute to the new country. They located at Delta, and there six children were born to them. They were: Myron, Lucile, Lucretia, Thomas, Lucina and Arthur. While Thomas Belknap attained to the age of eighty-five years, his wife died while she was yet a young woman. They lie buried in the Spring Hill Cemetery. Thomas Belknap was married three times, and Zera Belknap was a son from his third marriage. There was a half brother, Francis Marion Belknap, who was from the second marriage, and he came along with the family to Fulton county. There were three children by the first marriage, but their mother died in Vermont and the father went to Wisconsin before he finally located in Lorain county. These children never came west and nothing is known of them today. In all there were eleven children born to Thomas Belknap—three different mothers.” This helpful book also states that, “When Thomas Belknap removed from Delta he located at ”Hornetsville,” and he helped cut the timber from the site of Wauseon and work it into barrel staves. While there was white oak timber in abundance, his occupation was stave-making, the staves sent to Buffalo and the barrels made there.”
In the 1850 census, Thomas, Polly and Francis are listed as living in Russia, Lorain County, Ohio. Polly was only 18 years old and Thomas was 46. In the 1860 census, the family lived in Clinton, Fulton County, Ohio. Thomas was listed as 45 and Polly as 29 (Hmm, Thomas never ages in these censuses!) They had Francis living with them, as well as their children Zera, Myron, Alice L. (Lucile as listed above), and Lucretia. In 1870, Thomas Belknap was 54 and Polly was 38 and the family was living in York, Fulton County, Ohio. Francis was living with them, but Zera was not. Also, Myron, Lucelia (Alice or Lucile as listed above), Lucretia, Thomas, Susanna (Lucina as listed above), and Arthur. My family line comes through Thomas’ son Arthur who was born in 1869 when Thomas was 66 years old. In 1880, the family lived in Dover, Fulton County, Ohio and Thomas was listed as 60 and Polly was listed as 49. Myron, Lucina and Arthur were living with them. Polly was listed as Ohio as her birthplace, while her father’s was Vermont and her mother’s was Kentucky. I’ve never been able to find anything about her parents. I think Polly died around 1887. Thomas died, full of years, on April 13, 1889. They are buried in Tedrow (Spring Hill) Cemetery.