Introducing Great-Great Grandfather Frank L. Colomy (and a little about his uncle John)

I’ve already touched on Frank’s beginnings in my post about his mother Lucy.  To briefly recap, he was born either 1854 or 1856 in Maine (I lean toward 1854, based on his age of 5 in the 1860 Census).  His mother was Lucy Ann Goodwin and his father was (supposedly) George Washington Colomy, who were married in 1858 and then separated in 1861.

The Colomy family had moved from Dover to Haverhill in 1861.  As previously discussed, Frank did not show up on the 1865 Massachusetts Census with his mother and second husband, Benjamin Foss.  I supposed that he went to live with his grandparents, Ivory and Jerusha Goodwin, based on the fact that Jerusha was living with Lucy and her family in 1870 in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts.  This is a point where I need to depart briefly from Frank to introduce his uncle, John M. Goodwin.

John Goodwin was Lucy’s much younger brother, born in 1853 presumably in Berwick, York County, Maine.  I imagine that, being so close in age, he and Frank became like brothers while Frank lived with him and his parents.  John was only thirteen when his and Lucy’s father Ivory passed away in 1866, and I believe that he, Frank and Jerusha went to live with Lucy and Benjamin.   On June 29, 1869, there is a record of John marrying Eliza O. Darling in Lynn, Massachusetts.  Although only sixteen, he had stated that his age was eighteen on the marriage record.  I don’t know the nature of their relationship, but the following year, the 1870 Census shows John living with his brother Charles in Lynn and Eliza back with her family and under her maiden name.  (Interestingly, John’s occupation in this Census was a barber.  I assume that Benjamin may have taught him this trade.)

Despite living apart, John and Frank continued to be close.  They were both romantically involved with two sisters:  John with Mary Roberts White and Frank with her younger widowed sister, Jennie (White) Williams.  On October 11, 1875, both couples got married in Lynn, though not in a double wedding.  The need to get married was urgent, for both Mary and Jennie were pregnant!  The following year, Bertha Elizabeth Colomy (my great-grandmother) was born on March 26 to Frank and Jennie; Augusta Goodwin was born on April 20 to John and Mary.  John and Mary had no more children, but Frank and Jennie had a son, Edwin Scott, on October 28, 1878.

For some unknown reason, Jennie alone is listed in the Lynn City Directory between 1878 and 1880.  In fact, the 1880 Census (dated June 1) shows Mary living with her Jennie and the kids on 29 Church Street in Lynn.  Probably because Mary was working in a shoe shop, Augusta was staying with her maternal grandparents, Job and Elizabeth White over on 5 Clinton Street.  Where were Frank and John?  To this day, I haven’t been able to find Frank in 1880.  John, however, was in the Essex County Jail in nearby Salem since April 27 for drunkenness.

It wasn’t long before Frank returned to the family.  On January 4, 1883, he and Jennie had a stillborn son who didn’t seem to be named.  But the family stayed together, moving to various locations around Lynn.  Frank worked as a shoemaker for the most part.  In April 1891, he was one of the corporators of the “American Endowment Company”, which was formed for the purpose of “uniting all persons socially acceptable in the bonds of fraternity and give material aid to its members.”

John, on the other hand, did not seem to settle back down.  I don’t know if he ever returned to Mary at any point.  He eventually moved to Boston, continuing to be a barber.  Old habits die hard and John’s drinking is what ended up killing him.  On July 30, 1887, he died in Suffolk County Jail in Boston of alcoholism.  His marital status was listed as “single”, so I’m not sure if he and Mary ended up divorcing, or if the city clerk simply did not have this information.  Although the death register lists him as being buried in Lynn, John was ultimately buried at Pine Hill Cemetery in Dover, New Hampshire, with his parents.  It appears that Mary and Augusta must have been living with her mother Elizabeth White, and the three remained together until Elizabeth’s death in 1901.

I’m sure that John’s death affected Frank, and his crumbled marriage affected Jennie.  How did these things affect Frank and Jennie’s marriage?  I can only guess, but Frank’s life has to pause here to begin his daughter Bertha’s incredible story.

Third Great-Grandfather George Washington Colomy: Out Of And Into Nowhere

here are two facts that I am sure of about George W. Colomy:  that he was married to Lucy Ann Goodwin at one time.  For some reason, this man is my most frustrating brick wall, although far from my only one.

My George W. is not to be confused with the one who was born circa 1810 and died 1887 in Wisconsin, which is too bad because that guy has plenty of documentation.  He isn’t the one born 1825, married Harriet Richardson and enlisted in the Civil War draft.  He isn’t the one born 1857 and married Ella Harvey.

This is what I do know about my George:

  • He was born around 1832-1834 in New Hampshire, supposedly Great Falls.
  • By 1850, he was living and working as a shoemaker in Dover, Strafford County, New Hampshire.  He was boarding with someone, but doesn’t appear to be with family.
  • In 1854 or 1856, his supposed son Frank was born.
  • December 8, 1857, registered to marry Lucy Ann Goodwin in Somersworth, Strafford County, New Hampshire.
  • 1858 George married Lucy.
  • 1860 Census shows the little family together in Dover, with George still working as a shoemaker.  He has $600 in Real Estate and $100 in Personal Estate.
  • He lived in Haverill, Essex County, Massachusetts between March 1 – September 1, 1861.
  • Seven years later in August 1868, George, now living in Boston, filed for divorce from Lucy.
The following are a strong assumption and a supposition:

  • At approximately the same time George filed for divorce, a
    George Washington Colomy name change.  Author's collection.

    George Washington Colomy name change. Author’s collection.

    newspaper notice appeared in the Boston Daily Traveller, stating that a George Washington Colomy of Boston, a shoecutter, wished to change his name to George Washington Chesley.  The wish was granted on September 7, 1868.  The location and occupation make me certain this is my George.  (Why would he want to change his name?  My guess is:  to make him harder to find!)

  • In February 1869 (just 2 months after the George-Lucy divorce is finalized), a George W. Chesley marries Mary Jane Coleman of Westfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts.  What makes me suspicious that it might be my George is that when they appear in North Greenbush, Rensalaer County, New York in the 1870 Census, living with her mother and sisters, George is a shoemaker!
I know:  this is very, very circumstantial.  It doesn’t help that George changed his name to a very common surname of New Hampshire, or, assuming this 1870 Census is my George, that he moved to a state with scant vital records in the 1800s!  So yes, I am grasping at straws.

What I and other descendants want to know about George is:  who are his parents, and where did he end up, post-divorce?  Obviously, there are no easy on-line answers.  I’ve already tried the 1865 Massachusetts Census, Old Fulton Postcards and other newspaper sites.  Here are some ideas on how I might be able to discover more (when time and money permit):

  • search Colomy the 1840 Census in Strafford County, New Hampshire, seeing if there are any males over 5 but under 10.  If so, these are potential father candidates to be researched further.
  • order the FamilySearch microfilm for the Colomy divorce court paperwork.  I’m thinking there have to be more details about George in there.
  • see if there are any Boston city directories for the late 1860s and see if George is in there, searching both Colomy and Chesley.
  • take a broad look at all the Colomys in early New Hampshire.

If anyone has other ideas on finding George (or if you might have seen him anywhere!), please let me know in the comments.

Third Great-Grandmother Lucy Ann Goodwin: Never a Dull Moment!

Before I can even get to my great-grandmother Bertha’s story, I think it’s important to understand her own family history.  A good place to start is her paternal grandmother, Lucy Ann Goodwin.

Lucy was born circa 1833, in Berwick, York County, Maine to Ivory Goodwin and Jerusha Taunt.  She was the fourth child of eight children and the third daughter.  Her older siblings were Ivory H., Anna, Mary F. and her  younger siblings were John Adams, Ada Jane (“Jennie”), Charles W., and John M.

In November 1854 (some less reliable records say 1856), she gave birth to a son, Frank L.  Frank always listed his father as George W. Colomy, who pledged to marry Lucy in December 1857.  George and Lucy were finally wed in Somersworth, Strafford County, New Hampshire in 1858, by Rev. F.S. Greenwood.  Whether George was actually Frank’s father or whether Lucy simply told Frank that George was his father, I do not know; but Colomy was the surname Frank went by.

1860 found George, Lucy and Frank living in Dover, Strafford County, New Hampshire.  George worked as a shoemaker.

In March of 1861, the Colomy family moved to Haverhill, Essex County, Massachusetts.  Lucy was quick to become familiar with the men of Haverhill, particularly seventeen-year-old Benjamin Foss.  That September, George caught Lucy “in the act” with Benjamin and promptly left her.

Perhaps waiting until Benjamin turned 21, Lucy became Mrs. Foss on February 27, 1865 in Lawrence, Essex County, Massachusetts, wed by a Methodist clergyman, Rev. George L. Dearborn.  According to the August 1865 state census, Lucy and Benjamin, now a local barber, lived with his parents and brothers in Haverhill.  I have to wonder how Lucy was received by her in-laws, since they must have known she was married before.

In any case, Frank was not present with his mother on this census.  Where was he?  I believe the 1870 Census gives the clue:  Benjamin and Lucy had their own household in Lynn, Massachusetts, in which Frank was listed (under the last name “Foss”), along with Lucy’s mother, Jerusha Goodwin.  I am certain that Frank spent a portion of the 1860s with his maternal grandparents.  Perhaps after his grandfather Ivory died in 1866, both Frank and Jerusha went to live with Lucy and Benjamin.

But let’s back up two years.  In July of 1868, the Boston Advertiser carried a legal notice, posted by George W. Colomy’s attorney, J.C. Sanborn.  The notice contained the sordid details of their marriage, the fact that George (now living in Boston) was seeking to file for divorce, and requested that Lucy respond to the notice.  It doesn’t seem that Lucy ever responded; after all, she was already re-married!  The divorce was granted in December of that year.

Lucy’s marriage to Benjamin lasted longer than to George; however, this one ended in Benjamin’s death.  On December 19, 1874, Benjamin died of “fits”  in Bradford, Essex County, Massachusetts.  How these fits came about, I do not know, nor do I know where he was buried.  He seems to have had no children with Lucy.  Once he died, Lucy and Frank carried on in their home in Lynn on the corner of Chestnut and Lewis Streets.

Lucy carried out the proper mourning period of a year, then on New Year’s Day, 1876, she married shoemaker William F. Mann by clergyman S.F. Upham in Lynn.  It was William’s second marriage, and Lucy reported this as her second marriage as well.  The two appeared to get along well; he continuing as a shoemaker and she as a dressmaker.  They even made it to their twenty-fifth anniversary!  Then on June 23, 1901, William died of “hypertrophy of [the] heart.”  According to the death register, he is buried somewhere in Lynn.

After William’s death, Lucy appeared to live with son Frank.  I assume that her health and mind deteriorated greatly toward the end of her life, for she was put into Danvers State Hospital in Danvers, Essex County, Massachusetts on June 30, 1919.  This hospital was well known for its care of the insane; however it did also care for older patients with dementia, which may have been Lucy’s case.  Just shy of one year later, Lucy passed away on June 11, 1920 of arteriosclerosis at the reported age of 87.  The longest living member of her family, she was buried at Pine Hill Cemetery in Dover, Strafford County, New Hampshire, where her parents and other family members are interred.

Lucy Goodwin Death Certificate.  Courtesy

Lucy Goodwin Death Certificate. Courtesy

There are a lot of things to think and say about Lucy.  I’m not sure what in her home life made her make the decisions that she did.  It seems to me that she settled down in her later years; however, the seeds were sown, particularly in her son Frank.

Bertha & George Edmund Pleau: Aftermath

After my post about my great-grandfather George Edmund Pleau dying in 1932, commenter chmjr2 wondered what became of George’s wife (my great-grandmother) Bertha and his son (my grandfather) George.

It wasn’t long before Bertha and young George moved back to Lynn, Massachusetts from Baltimore by 1933, where they lived at 145 Lewis Street.  Bertha’s mother Jennie had long since died, but here mother’s extended family (the Whites) lived in and around Lynn and her father and brother Frank and Edwin Colomy both lived there.  Family stories state that Bertha’s first cousin once-removed Hazel (White) Hill took care of George during the 1930s; however, Hazel was also a widowed single (and working) mother, so I don’t know how she would have had time to do so.

16 Cherry Street, Lynn, MA.  Courtesy Google Earth.

16 Cherry Street, Lynn, MA. Courtesy Google Earth.

From 1935 to 1940, Bertha and George lived at 16 Cherry Street. Bertha worked as a shoe worker and George eventually went on to Lynn English High School.  Frank, the only grandfather that George would have ever known, died in 1936 of a brief illness.


Bertha's final resting place.  Author's collection.

Bertha’s final resting place. Author’s collection.

Bertha died in March 1940; my aunt’s guess was that it was due to a heart problem, but I don’t have here death certificate yet to confirm or disprove this.  Bertha is buried in Pine Grove Cemetery next to her brother’s 2nd wife, Eleanor.  I assume that Edwin Colomy was willing to give up this plot, since he was married to his 3rd wife Pearl by then, in order to help his nephew with the predicament of his mother’s burial.  Bertha’s name is not inscribed on the gravestone.

George Edmund Pleau high school diploma.  Author's collection

George Edmund Pleau high school diploma. Author’s collection

Shortly after Bertha’s death, George moved in with music teacher Benjamin Johnson at 474 Eastern Avenue.  I assume Benjamin was an associate of Bertha’s, since she had been a piano teacher for many years.  George worked as a part-time clerk at a grocery store and managed to graduate from high school on June 14.  I was so proud of him when I found his diploma; how difficult those months must have been!

It wasn’t long before George began a relationship with Eugenie Beryl Atwell of 143 Timson Street.  They were married on February 8, 1941 in Seabrook, Rockingham County, NH.  At this point that is all I can say, as we start to get into living memory.

This was just a tiny glimpse at the end of Bertha Pleau’s life, but there was so much more to her story, as my aunt and I began to discover.  It seems to have begun at least two generations before she was born.  More to follow!