Elida Ann Hicks, my 2X great grandmother, and her family are one of my more interesting family lines because they represent American colonial ancestors who removed to Canada as pre-Loyalists, came back to Maine, and with a brick wall or two mixed in, just for genealogical fun!
No record has been found with the exact date of birth of Elida, but every census record and her death record indicates a birth sometime in 1833.
She appears in the 1850 census, aged 17, and then 27, 37 and 47 in the 1860, 1870 and 1880 censuses. On 25 April 1910, she was 77 and she was aged 81 years when she died on 20 February 1914. From that, it seems likely she was born either in January or early February 1833.
Her parents, Israel Hicks and Abigail Carlisle, lived in Buctouche, Kent, New Brunswick, Canada and Elida was the seventh of eight children born to the couple.
Elida never knew her father as he died in 1835, not long after her youngest sibling, Valentine, was born in December 834. Her mother, Abigail, must have been a strong, independent woman as she raised all eight children and never remarried after Israel’s death. Even more surprising is that Israel had been married before and also left four young children by his first wife. That must have been one busy household.
I had often wondered how Elida came to meet her future husband, Charles Augustus Stewart, as he lived in Charlotte, Washington, Maine. However, I discovered with a bit more research that Charles and Elida were first cousins, as his parents were John Stewart and Catherine Carlisle. Abigail Hicks and Catherine Stewart were sisters!
For a reason known only to himself, the Calais City Clerk only recorded marriage intentions in the 1850s, rather than also recording the exact date of marriage. Charles and Elida filed intentions on 6 July 1850 and likely married soon after because the census taker came around to Meddybemps, Washington, Maine and recorded the young married couple, Charles and Elida Stewart living there.
Charles was a farmer and Elida was a hardworking farmer’s wife. They had eight children, but, like many other families faced much heartache when several children died young.
All vital life events took place in Meddybemps, unless noted.
1. Wallace Newmarch, born May 1851; died 20 April 1882; married Annie M. Seymour, 4 May 1878, Lawrence, Essex, Massachusetts
2. Permelia, born December 1852; died 22 June 1854
3. Felicia, born September 1854; died 22 August 1861
4. Harry Weston, born 15 June 1858; died 20 July 1911; married Nancy Gilman Aldrich, 6 August 1879, Pembroke, Washington, Maine
5. Melissa E., born 4 August 1859; died 11 May 1921, St. Stephen, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada; married Frederick Austin Findley, 22 November 1882, Melrose, Middlesex, Massachusetts. They divorced before 1900 and had no children.
6. Carey M., born November 1866; died 18 February 1869
7. William Charles, born March 1868; died 21 December 1947, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts; married Josephine May Sadler, 23 September 1896, Washington County, Maine
8. Annie Maude, born 24 June 1874; died 10 September 1940, Ridgewood, Bergen, New Jersey; married Charles Edwin Adams, 21 September 1898, Worcester, Worcester, Massachusetts
As can be seen, Elida buried three young children – Permelia, Felicia and Carey – and lost two more sons who predeceased her – Wallace in 1882 and Harry in 1911.
She also lost her husband, Charles, suddenly when he came in early from his farm work and died of a heart attack when he laid down on the sofa.
I found it very interesting that, up to and including Charles’s death in 1894, the family was always recorded as “Stewart.” However, Annie married as “Stuart” and Elida’s few records in later life also called her “Stuart.” Bertha, Elida’s granddaughter, had the answer. She said her grandmother felt that Stuart sounded more French, so she changed the spelling!
I was fortunate to know Harry’s daughter, Bertha, and her daughters. One of the items her daughters shared with me was the biography that Bertha wrote about her grandmother, Elida. Bertha was also the valedictorian of her high school class and her daughters also shared her speech. Between Bertha’s two stories, a clear picture of life in Meddybemps, which hadn’t changed much from 1850, when Charles and Elida married, until 1910, near the last year of Elida’s life.
Somewhat surprisingly, no photograph of Elida has been found. Calais was a thriving city at the turn of the 20th century and there were multiple photographers in business and there are surviving photos of Elida’s children, taken in the 1800s. Whether Elida chose not to be photographed or whether any photo of her has been lost to time is unknown.
Elida traveled back to Canada multiple times to visit relatives. She hasn’t been found in the 1900 U.S. census or 1901 Canadian census, but she likely was in New Brunswick when the 1900 census taker arrived in Calais, Maine in the summer of 1900. Unfortunately, that is the only U.S. census record that recorded the exact month and year of a person’s birth and would have corroborated, or disproved, my belief that Elida was probably born in January or February of 1833.
Elida knew she didn’t have much time left and on 16 February 1914, she wrote her one-age will, signed with an X, likely because of weakness. The 1880 census indicated that Elida and Charles could both read and write. Elida made several bequests:
1. Nellie F. Adams, $100.00 [Equivalent to well over $3500 today]
2. William C. Stuart and to “my grandchildren,” $1.00 each
3. Daughters Annie M. Adams and Melissa E. Findley, the remainder of the estate in equal shares
4. Annie M. Adams appointed executrix
Her will is interesting for several reasons. First, the #1 bequest was to Nellie (Tarbox) Adams, my other 2X great grandmother, who was still married at the time (husband Calvin didn’t die until 1921), so I have to believe that Nellie and Elida were close friends, on top of the fact that Nellie’s son and Elida’s daughter had married. Second, I don’t know whether Will Stuart had already received his share of the estate, but Elida took care to mention that he plus “her grandchildren” were only to receive a dollar. Lastly, Melissa was the elder daughter, but her last born child, Annie, was named executrix.
Elida passed away on 20 February 1914, probably very early in the morning because her obituary appeared the same day in The Calais Advertiser:
Elida was buried in the little Meddybemps Cemetery next to her husband, Charles, and her three little children who had all died so young.