Great-Great Grandmother Jane “Jennie” White

Jane E. White (just about always called Jennie) was born circa 1855 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to Job R. and Elizabeth Phoebe White.  She was the youngest daughter and second youngest child out of a total of eight children.  Her older siblings were:  Edgar Douglas, William Faulkner, John David, Frances A., Milton K. (later James M.) and Mary Roberts.  Her younger brother was Theodore W.

Previously thought to be a picture of Bertha, the identified time points to it being Jennie.  Courtesy Deb Thompson Colomy.

Previously thought to be a picture of Bertha, the identified time points to it being Jennie. Courtesy Deb Thompson Colomy.

It appears that most of the White family immigrated to the United States in the late 1860’s to live in Lynn, Massachusetts.  For some reason, Jennie lived apart from her parents, with her sister Fanny and brother-in-law Harmon Burns, in 1870.  Perhaps that was close to her job as a machine stitcher (probably in the shoe making industry).

On January 17, 1873 Jennie married John Williams, who also worked in the shoe making business (maybe they worked together?).  Their married life was very short-lived however.  John contracted consumption and died on July 21, 1873.

As I wrote here, Jennie and her sister Mary found themselves pregnant and on October 11 1875 married Frank L. Colomy and John M. Goodwin respectively.  This pregnancy resulted in my great-grandmother Bertha.  On October 28, 1878 Edwin Scott was born and on January 4, 1883 Jennie gave birth to an unnamed stillborn son.

From we’ve seen from Frank’s frequent absences, Jennie functioned basically as a single mother much of the time.  When the children were young, she took in boarders, and as we saw here, she relied on Bertha to supplement the family income.  It is no surprise that Jennie and Frank were divorced by 1900.

Eventually Jennie found love again.  On July 24, 1901, she married James Starbard, a widower and a shoe trimmer.  Like Jennie, this was his third marriage.  Jennie moved to James’ home at 63 Autumn St.

James and Jennie were married ten years when James died of nephritis on November 23, 1911.  It seems that her son Edwin lived with her and James during this time, and later just with Jennie from 1914 until her death on December 28, 1915.  Like James, she also died of nephritis.  Both James and Jennie were buried in Pine Grove.

James and Jennie Starbard gravestone.  Author's collection.

James and Jennie Starbard gravestone. Author’s collection.

Great-Grandmother Bertha Elizabeth Colomy: Between Percy and George

Once Bertha returned from her escapade with Percy St. Clair in 1892, she settled back at home in Lynn, Massachusetts. She witnessed the dissolution of her parents’ marriage and eventually got a job as a stitcher with one of the many shoe manufacturers in town.

Despite the stain on her virtue, Bertha still managed to attract a man her own age who asked to marry her. Frederick Morton French was a dry goods salesman in Lynn, and he and Bertha were married on June 27, 1900 by Rev. Tillman B. Johnson (probably of First Baptist Church). I know nothing about the nature of their marriage; but in any case, they were divorced before 1910. I found Frederick in the 1910 Census living with his family with a marital status of “D”.

For some reason, I could not find Bertha in the Census (typical of the family, I think!). However, I don’t think she was very far away. In 1911 she lived at 32 Autumn Street, just down the road from her mother Jennie and stepfather James Starbard. On February 11, 1911 she was wed to James Spratt by Donald H. Gerrish (of St. Paul’s Methodist Society).

On December 28, 1915, Bertha’s mother Jennie passed away, just four years after James. Bertha apparently inherited the house at 63 Autumn Street, for James is listed at this address in the city directory in 1916.

63 Autumn Street, Lynn.  Author's collection.

63 Autumn Street, Lynn. Author’s collection.

By a very odd coincidence, December 28 brought death once more in 1919. James had contracted and died of lobar pneumonia. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Pine Grove Cemetery. Once again, Bertha was a single woman. I don’t know how long it was before she met George Edmund Pleau, but it was obviously no later than February 1921 (nine months before the birth of my grandfather).

There are little bits and pieces about Bertha that I’ve gathered from my grandfather and aunt (who never knew her but knew of her). From the 1930 Census, I know she still played piano since she gave lessons. In fact, my aunt claimed that the piano that my grandfather had actually belonged to Bertha first. Bertha obviously loved music, and perhaps that is what attracted her to George. There had been some opera glasses in the family that were supposed to belong to Bertha. Finally, Bertha had a talent for painting. Growing up, a beautiful life-like picture of a leopard hung in my grandparents’ basement. My grandfather claimed that he also had her painting of a lion, which got lost in one of his moves. Today, my sister has this beautiful painting in her living room.

Painting by Bertha Pleau.  Author's collection.

Painting by Bertha Pleau. Author’s collection.

And so that is Bertha’s life up until her third marriage. The remainder of her time can be seen  here. I think her mother Jennie is deserving of the next look at the family.

Great-Great Grandfather Frank L. Colomy: The Rest of His Life

After learning about the impact John and Mary Goodwin’s tumultuous marriage must have had on Frank and Jennie Colomy, and after daughter Bertha’s indiscretion with Percy St. Clair, it’s not surprising to learn that Frank and Jennie eventually separated and were divorced by 1900.

Frank moved in with his mother  Lucy and stepfather William and worked as a “collector” (whatever that was during that time).  This arrangement worked out well for Lucy, since William had passed away in June of 1901; it was probably good to have Frank to lean on.  Even Frank’s son Edwin and Edwin’s wife Mary lived with them for a couple of years. Of course as Lucy got older, she probably needed more care than Frank could give her on his own.  He hired divorcee Ida G. Rodrick as a housekeeper (and likely someone to look after Lucy) and Charles B. Blackmoore as a “hostler”.

Charles did not stay with Frank long, but Ida did.  After years of working for Frank, it’s apparent that love blossomed between them.  On June 26, 1918, Frank and Ida were married in Boston, but did not enjoy wedded bliss very long.  Not even one year later, on June 1, Ida died of a kidney disease and was buried on June 4 at Greenlawn Cemetery in Salem.  Frank was left with an aging Lucy and no one to care for her while he worked, so he had Lucy put in Danvers State Hospital on June 30.  As stated in a previous post, she passed away there on June 11, 1920.

Frank with oldest grandchild, Roy Colomy.  Courtesy Deb Thompson Colomy.

Frank with oldest grandchild, Roy Colomy. Courtesy Deb Thompson Colomy.

Despite working several types of jobs throughout his life, including many years as a retail grocer, Frank stayed in Lynn (even though I still haven’t found him on the 1920 and 1930 Censuses).  Judging by old photographs, it seems that he was close with his son Edwin.  He also participated in a couple of fraternal societies:  as a Grand Chief with the Knights of the Golden Eagle of Massachusetts and in the Knights of Pythias.  The church Frank attended was East Baptist Church in Lynn.  I’m sure that my grandfather, George Edmund Pleau, spent some time with Frank once he and Bertha moved back to Lynn; after all, Frank was the only grandparent alive during George’s lifetime.

Finally, Frank met his end on December 14, 1936 as he passed away in Lynn Hospital after a brief illness.  He was buried in Pine Hill Cemetery in Dover, New Hampshire, where his mother, grandparents and uncle John were laid to rest.