Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Holbrook line: Molly Wright brick wall

OK, I admit it. Some ancestors seem to haunt me. I actually dream about this woman, my fourth great grandmother, even though I know very little about her.  My picture of her is of a feisty woman, whatever she looked like, and I like feisty women.  Even if she turns out to be a meek and mild woman simply buffeted by life, I still want to know more about her. I especially want to know her parents, and whether or not she had been married before she married Amariah Holbrook.

Here's what I know about her:
    Molly or Mollie was born March 28, 1759. Various internet trees give her birth location as Wrentham, Franklin (not formed until 1778 so that can't be correct) or Bellingham, Massachusetts. When she was born, any of these locations would have been termed Suffolk County, because Norfolk County wasn't formed until 1793.  I also don't know her last name.  It is variously listed as Wright or as Wight in marriage records and at least one source calls her Mrs. Mollie Wright.  The Mrs. could be an honorific because she came from a noted family, or it could be because her first child was born before she married her husband, or it could be that her first husband, named Wright or Wight, had died by the time of this marriage.  Several of her grandchildren have "Wright" as a middle name, but at least one  has "Wight" as a middle name, so that's not a lot of help. So far, I have not found records that would support any of these ideas.  

She married Amariah Holbrook on May 13, 1779. Her children and their birth dates were:

Tryphena Holbrook January 17, 1779
Abigail Holbrook May 12, 1780
Nahum Holbrook October 2, 1781 (our ancestor)
Amos Holbrook April 27, 1783
Amariah Holbrook  January 23, 1785
Joel Holbrook February 2, 1787
Asa Holbrook May 18, 1792
Nathan Holbrook April 8, 1794
Lyman Holbrook February 16, 1797

In looking at this list, there is a 5 year gap between the birth of Joel and Asa. Perhaps there was a miscarriage or stillborn child during this time period, or perhaps either Amariah or Molly was seriously ill during this time period.  The other children were born close together. In fact, by the time Amariah and Molly had been married for four years, there were four children in the family, which boggles my mind.

There were no children born after Lyman because Amariah died on September 7, 1797.  Molly was just 38 years old, and had 9 children. Tryphena would have been the only one considered an adult, since she was over the age of 18.  At this time period, few women were permitted to be the guardians of their children, so there are probably court records that would show what happened to the children.  It is likely that at least some of them were bound out or apprenticed, so that they would learn a trade. However, the 1800 census shows 9 people living in her household, and the ages match up.  Lyman, Nathan, and Asa were the three males under 10, Joel would have been the male between 10 and 15, Amariah and Amos would have been the two 16-25 year old males, and Abigail and Tryphena would be the two while females ages 16-25. Nahum is not accounted for in this census, but he was 18 years old and probably living in someone else's household, as a boarder or as an apprentice at this time. 

Molly never remarried, which is one reason I consider her feisty. Most widows of her age would have remarried, if for no other reason than to have help with raising the children.  The other reason is that she fought, and fought, and fought again for a pension based on Amariah's service in the Revolutionary War.  When her pension wasn't what she thought it should be, she found further proof of additional days served in the war, which entitled her to a larger pension.  She did get what she asked for, and there are pages and pages of documents on Fold 3 detailing her struggle.

Molly died on August 24, 1845, in the household of John Wales. She was 86 years old, and the cause of death is listed simply as "old age".  I believe there was some sort of family connection, because John's wife was Abigail Adams, and she was the daughter of Amos Adams and Abigail Thayer.  Amos and Abigail were names that Amariah and  Molly used for their children, and we have numerous Thayer and Holbrook marriages in our line.

So, here's the story of a mysterious but feisty woman that I sometimes dream about. What did she look like? Who was her family? How did she support herself before she became old enough and presumably feeble enough to need a pension? Was she a Baptist, as I suspect, because most of the Holbrooks were Baptist?  And why was her first daughter named Tryphena?  I have to believe there are answers in Massachusetts to some of these questions. If you can help, please contact me!   

Our line of descent is:
Amariah Holbrook-Molly Wright
Nahum Holbrook-Susannah Rockwood
Joseph Holbrook-Mary Elizabeth Whittemore
Fremont Holbrook-Phoebe Brown
Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard
Gladys-Lois-Howard-Ray Holbrook