Dead Ancestors Soap Opera Part III

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Edith C. Tyrell was granted the Civil War pension of George Washington Oakley. From the paperwork that I have so far she was receiving $40 per month and requested another $10 per month as winter was coming and her heat and electric costs would increase. She mentioned that other widows were receiving that amount.


At some point Edith moved from Olean and into the Women’s Relief Corps Home by 1930. The facility was located in the Village of Oxford, New York in Chenango County and was formally opened in April 19, 1897 and immediately admitted 24 residents members.


Edith’s family originally lived in St. David’s Ontario, Canada. I pulled up a map to see exactly where that location was and it turned out to be about 7 miles north of Buffalo, New York. Edith around 1871 was working as a dressmaker in a variety store in Hamilton, Canada and met Thomas Erastus Harbottle and had a relationship with him. At some point during her pregnancy, with her illegitimate daughter around 1875 or 1876, she lived in the “Ingleside (Maternity) Home for fallen women” in Buffalo. Gertrude was born June 11, 1876 and she placed the child with the Edward Keef family. While living in Buffalo she was going by the name of Edith C Harbottle although they were never married. On April 13, 1885 Edith had the Keefs bring Gertrude to Buffalo and entered her into the Episcopal Church home. It seems after this Edith lost track of her daughter.


At the age of 35 Edith, going by the name of Edith St. Clair, although she had never been married, would meet George Washington Oakley and work for him as his housekeeper. By this time in 1889 George’s second wife had been in the asylum for 2 years. Their scandalous living situation would force them to move to Omaha for 2-3 years, until the death of George’s second wife when they would return to Olean, New York.


By 1916, when letters were needed for the government to justify her right to the widows pension, Edith had lost contact with everyone in her past. According to documentation, Thomas Harbottle, who had worked as a clerk in the post office when she had met him, was dead, she had no idea where her 40 year old daughter was and she didn’t seem to know that her entire family had moved to Michigan.


I found the majority of her family immigrated in 1877 and were living in Elmer or Moore Michigan. I am guessing that they moved to Michigan because of land grants being given out at the time. By 1880 her father, Andrew was deceased and mother Mary Graylie Tyrell was deceased between 1880 and 1900. Her three younger brothers were still living, John C. born in 1858, married a Margaret, Andrew, born in 1859, married Mary and Thomas B. Tyrell, born in 1861, married Rebecca, all born in Canada. Her sister, Mary Jane, born 1849, was married to Malcolm Eddy and died August of 1916, just months after letters looking for her went out. She had 11 nieces and nephews from the families of Andrew, John and Mary Jane and more than 22 great nieces and nephews.


Of the remaining 276 pages, which I ordered yesterday, I wonder if there will information sent from the family in Michigan.


More to follow….



  1. George Washington Oakley was my great great grandfather and Lewis Scott Oakley is my great grandfather. My grandmother and grandfather were born in Bradford, PA. Let’s talk!

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