Dead Ancestors Soap Opera, Part I

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Another package arrived from the NARA yesterday, the first 100 pages of a file that is 376 pages long. The file is the pension record for George Washington Oakley, born November 1, 1842 in Schroon Lake, New York. George would marry 3 times before his death and the information I had on his middle wife, Lizzie, was sketchy and vague, at least until now.


George would marry first Maria T Bartlett in 1866 and have 7 children before her death in 1881 in Olean, Cattaraugus, New York. From all records that I have found, these are the only children that he had.


His second wife was Lizzie and from what I have learned her full name was Elizabeth McFarland, born in Iowa and also married 3 times before her death. Her first husband was Calvin W Booth, born in Iowa in about 1840. The couple would move from Iowa to Eldred, Mckean county, Pennsylvania and have a son Elijah W Booth in 1874. Calvin would die in 1878 in Eldred.


Lizzie’s second husband would be Samuel Augustus Canfield, born about 1828 in New York state. They would marry about 1880 and Lizzie was Samuel Augustus’ second wife. Samuel’ first wife was Minerva Carey and together they had 6 children. A year after their marriage Samuel Augustus would die from pneumonia.


Shortly after the death of her second husband in 1881, Lizzie would marry George W. Oakley, my great great grandfather. They would live together until March of 1887 when George would have her committed.


The Olean Democrat (Olean, New York) > 1887 > March > 10


The Olean Democrat, Thursday, March 10, 1887


The wife of George Oakley, who recently removed from Hinsdale to Clinton street, is insane and will be taken to an asylum.


Included in the packet was a letter written by Elizabeth “Lizzie” McFarland Booth Canfield Oakley’s son, Elijah W. Booth, written from his perspective. In part it says:


"I will be 44 years old on the 22 day of May coming. I was born in Eldred, McKean Co. Pennsylvania in May 1874. I am a farm laborer, P.O., RFD 3, Franklinville, Cattaraugus Co. N.Y. I have lived in this locality most of the time since I was 12 years old. My parents were named Calvin Booth and Elizabeth Booth and her maiden name (was) McFarland. I have here the marriage certificate of my parents showing their marriage on the 10 day of October, 1870, both of Manchester, Manchester County, Iowa. This certificate gives their names as “Mr. Calvin W. Booth” and “Miss Lizzie McFarland.” (Certificate badly torn and portions missing, but the names and date of marriage is as above stated, Examiner)


My mother was married three times and no more that I ever knew about, and her first marriage was to my father, and my father died in Eldred, Pa. when I was four years old, but I Can’t tell the exact date, but about 1878, I think. Mother next married (Samuel) Augustus Canfield and I think in Eldred, Pa. It was one year after the death of my father. Said husband died in Eldred, Pa., and of pneumonia and about one year after their marriage. She was next married to George W. Oakley, and I understand in Bradford, Pa., but I do not know the date. Oakley was a soldier and a pensioner and they lived together as man and wife in Olean, N.Y. and also near Ischua, this county. My mother Lizzie Oakley became insane while living with Oakley in Olean, N.Y. and was sent to the County Home for the Poor and Insane, and Dr. Bartlett of Olean, N.Y. made the examination as to her mental condition, and think he is dead now. It was when I was 12 years old that my mother was sent to the Home at Machias, N.Y. No, I never saw my mother after she was sent to that Home. Yes, I understand at that time insane persons were kept at the County Home at Machias, which was before the Hospital for the Insane was opened at Gowanda, N.Y. No, I never learned that my mother was sent to the Hospital for the Insane in Buffalo, N.Y. She was sent to Machias and she died there as I learned. I have no personal knowledge of her death, but at the time she was said to have died I was living with Alfonso Winters, dead, near here, and I lived with him about 9 years, which was from the time I was 12 until I became 21 years old. I heard of her death in this way: John Canfield, a brother of my mother’s second husband, told Winters of her death and Winters told me and that was about two weeks after she had died as I understood, and I then and there cut the year of her death in a piece of tin and tacked it up in Winter’s barn so as to have the year correct; that piece of tin is still there, and when Edith C Oakley, the claimant, wrote me for a statement as to the death of my mother, I went to that barn and took the year from that date cut in that piece of tin, and it was the year 1894…."

His third wife would be Edith C Tyrrell Oakley.


To Be Continued…..



1 comment

  1. I can hardly believe my luck in finding this! Elijah is my great grandfather and Calvin and Lizzie are my great-great grandparents. Please contact me @ and I will continue the saga for you! How can I get the letter Elijah wrote, etc. From NARA? Is it expensive? Bea

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