Jacob Stufflebean’s Civil War Spoons

Just about one year ago, I wrote a post about using eBay to hunt for genealogical treasures. While I was working on that post, I searched eBay for several different families and places, Stufflebean being one of them.

I was quite surprised and excited to find four coin silver teaspoons dating from the Civil War era up for auction. They were engraved with “Stufflebean” on the tops and I just knew I had to have them.

Two of Jacob Stufflebean’s 4 Spoons

The listing is long gone, but the seller said they had been originally purchased from a jeweler located in St. Albans, Franklin County, Vermont, which is very close to the Canadian border.

Of course, that put me on the hunt right away and I found only one Stufflebean family in Franklin County, Vermont in 1870. They lived in Sheldon, 15 miles away from St. Albans.

Since the posting last year, more databases have come online and I’ve been able to piece together how the Sheldon family of Jacob and Jane Stufflebean fit into my husband line from John Stufflebean, the Revolutionary war soldier.

The 1870 census showed a household with the following people:

Jacob Stufflebean, born about 1819
Jane Stufflebean, born about 1823
Hulbert, born about 1850
Nellie, born about 1858Jane Stufflebean, born about 1799

Two young men, Jerry and Jester Orville, aged 20 and 17, both from Canada, were also living with them. They were enumerated as farm laborers and might have been hired help.

It was quite easy fleshing out a portion of this family tree. Jacob Stufflebean married Jane Hulbert in 1848 in Franklin County, Vermont. Hulburt is later referred to as S.B.H. and Samuel B. Hulbert Stufflebean. Jane’s father was Samuel B. Hulbert, so we can see for whom he was named.

Jane Stufflebean, born about 1799 was Jacob’s mother. Her death record in 1896 said she was 98 years old, born in Ghent, Columbia County, New York. Her father was Abraham Teal.

Another quick check of the records found that Jane Teal married Peter Stufflebean in Columbia County, New York. The family moved to Vermont, where Peter died in 1844.

Peter, in turn, was the son of Johan Valentine Stufflebean and the grandson of John Stufflebean and Eva Dingman, who were the parents of Dave’s soldier, John Stufflebean. Simply put, my Dave is 2nd cousins, 4x removed from Jacob who bought the teaspoons.

Why aren’t they still in the possession of that branch of the family? Jacob Stufflebean died in 1897. His estate packet names his only two heirs as his son, S.B.H. Stufflebean, and his daughter, Ellen Z. Bates, married to Eugene Bates.

During the estate administration, Ellen and Eugene signed over all their rights to her father’s estate, leaving S.B.H. as the sole heir. The estate was only worth $228.55. It’s possible that the Bates received half that amount in cash from her brother.

In 1908, S.B.H.’s will was probated. He named his wife, his wife’s daughter Lena Swett, and his sister, Ellen Bates. S.B.H. had no surviving children of his own. He left bequests to the Bates, his wife and his step-daughter. I don’t know whether the teaspoons passed from Jacob directly to Ellen or whether S.B.H. came into possession of them before Ellen, but I think the spoons probably ended up with Ellen by 1908.

Eugene Bates was a physician. He and wife, Ellen, had one child, a daughter Lillian, who was born on 7 January 1885 in Highgate, Franklin County, Vermont. They had apparently lost a second child sometime between 1877, when they married, and the 1900 census. S.B.H. bequeathed the property in Highgate to Eugene and Ellen in his will.

Lillian is not in the home after the 1900 census, when she was 15 years old. Sadly, her mother Ellen reported that she had given birth to two children, neither of whom were living in 1910. Lillian had died.

Ellen died in 1924 and Eugene followed in 1925, dying of liver cancer. His probate stated that there were no known relatives closer than second cousins and their names were unknown.

I think that Jacob’s spoons were eventually purchased by someone who then passed away and the cycle may have repeated itself until the eBay auction.

Things happen for a reason and I think Jacob’s spoons were ready to come home to some Stufflebeans. It’s ironic that Eugene’s closest relatives were second cousins and Dave is a second cousin 4x removed from the original owner.

Are you wondering why I only have two spoons? We gave the other two to my brother-in-law (Dave’s brother) and his wife for Christmas. They couldn’t believe I found them on eBay.


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