This month I got sucked into the life of my great great grandmother’s sister, and there’s a bunch of bigamy, child mortality, alcoholism in her life. I don’t know much about this branch of the family, except that the McLeods were farmers on Prince Edward Island and originally were from Scotland, and my great-great grandmother’s life was much more pedestrian than her sister’s.The picture below is of my great-great grandmother (Lydia McLeod) and her husband William Abbott. I only have the photo because it was passed on to me through a DNA connection. Lydia was born sometime around 1863 in New Brunswick – I think her family was just there for a couple of years.
Her sister Jessie May was born on PEI in 1857. I think she was the first child in a family of 5 girls (although it’s possible I’m missing some other siblings – there’s no 1871 census for PEI). By 1881 Jessie is married to Robert Blackmore and they are farmers on PEI on Lot 18 near Malpeque. It’s picturesque and now famous for its oysters.
She and Robert have 3 children: Annie (1877), Frederick (1880), R. Austin (1882). Then, in 1895 she has a girl called R. Myra. One year and a month after her birth Jessie remarries. She’s listed as a widow. Jessie is now about 39 and her new husband, George Farish is 25, 5 years older than her eldest daughter.
Jessie and her newish husband George immigrate to the Boston area around 1898. Around this time they also have a daughter, Lila. The next year Jessie’s eldest daughter, Annie, marries in February and dies in March, due to complications from childbirth. On the 1900 census, Jessie, George, and Lila are living together. Myra is also in the area, but living with Jessie’s sister Maria and her husband Hartwell Crozier. The next year Myra is back on PEI with her aunt and uncle and listed as an adopted child.
Then a whole bunch of crazy stuff happens – read carefully, it’s complicated. In 1907 Jessie’s husband, George, marries Carrie Winchester – he’s now 35 and she’s 24. She is also from PEI. I can’t find any record of Jessie and George divorcing, but they were married on PEI, but now living in MA, where there’s probably no record of their marriage. To further complicate matters, Carrie Winchester is also married to someone else. In 1904 she had married Charles J Brown in Butte, Montana (when she was 21 and he was 42), where he was working as a copper miner.
In 1908, a year after their “marriage,” George dies of acute alcoholism. He was 36 and is listed as married, but the name of his spouse is blank on the record. In 1910 Carrie is back with her husband, Charles J. Brown in Montana. I’ve taken a current screen shot of where they were living. Just a year later, in 1911 she’s on the Canadian census as Mrs. CJ Brown, and living with her father on PEI. I have not been able to confirm what became of her after that, but I think she may have married a guy called Frank Goodro in Idaho.
In 1910 Jessie turns up in Portland, ME. She’s now “married” to a bloke called Frank Lamont and living with him and her daughters, Myra (who her sister had been raising) and Lila. Frank is actually married to Sarah J. Henry – a widow whose first husband had died of an injury 3 months into their marriage. Sarah is living in the Boston area and calls herself Frank’s widow in the directory, even 20 years later. He’s actually living in Portland with Jessie – again he’s a younger man. In 1910 he’s 40 and she’s 53. He’s a carpenter and she’s a dressmaker.
She also says she’s given birth to 10 children, and 4 are living (Fred, Austin, Myra, and Lila). She says she was born in Scotland. In 1920, they are still together and she’s now born in Illinois to Scottish parents. In 1930 they are still together in the same place and she’s back to being born in Scotland. They lived about 30 years on 15 Merrill (right side of house), St in Portland. Google street view:
In 1917, Frank Lamont signs up for the Canadian reserves for WWI and lists Jessie as his wife (with his last name). Her son also signs some draft papers in the US where he calls her Jessie Ferris (somehow George Farish became Ferris after his immigration to the US, and their daughter Lili stuck with Ferris).
The last record I have of Jessie is her mention in her sister’s obituary – she’s called Mrs. Blackmore (the last name of her first husband!). This is also the last year I can find either Jessie or Frank in the Portland directory, and I have had no luck finding death records or headstones for either of them, but would love to see how they were buried.