Maternal Branches on the Family Tree: Mary Elizabeth Scripture (1872-1866)

Mary Elizabeth Scripture, another of my 3X great grandmothers, begins her life story in the small town of Mason, Hillsborough, New Hampshire.

Mary was the daughter of Oliver Scripture and Mary Goddard Bucknam, born 2 December 1827, the fourth of eleven children born to her parents.

Unusual for the time, nine of Mary’s ten siblings lived to adulthood. The only child who died young was last born Abigail, born in 1845 and who died sometime between her 5th and her 15th birthday.

Mary’s father was a farmer, like many of my other ancestors, and tended his land surrounded by family and friends.

For an unknown reason, about 1835, when Mary was about 6 years old, Oliver decided to uproot the family and move to Glenburn, Penobscot, Maine, which is the place where Mary’s four youngest siblings were born.

Mary was old enough to have some memories of the move, which might have been prompted by the deaths of Mary’s paternal grandmother in 1835 and her maternal grandfather in April 1835. Her paternal grandfather had passed away in 1810, long before Mary was around, and her maternal grandmother, Abigail (Hay) Bucknam, made the move to Glenburn with the rest of the family.

Both of her grandfathers, James Scripture and Joses Bucknam, served in the American Revolution, as did a number of other old timers in Mason.

Land may have been cheaper, but aside from that, other possible reasons for Oliver’s decision to move are unknown. Given Mary’s age when the family left new Hampshire, she likely considered Glenburn as her “hometown.”

How Mary met her future husband, George Rogers Tarbox, is a mystery. The Scripture family stayed put in Glenburn, but George was a man of the road.

George Rogers Tarbox was born in New Gloucester, close to Portland, Cumberland, Maine. He married (1) a local girl, Deborah Elizabeth Grover, 8 March 1846, in Lowell, Middlesex, Massachusetts.

Farming didn’t seem to be the life for George and, as he later was a businessman, I’ve no doubt that he was in Lowell, perhaps working in an early mill or for a store keeper. Sadly, Deborah died just 13 months after marrying and had no children.

Perhaps in his travels, George happened to pass through Glenburn and met the Scripture family. In any case, he and Mary married on 29 November 1848, not in Maine, but in Nashua, New Hampshire. [Back in the 1980s, I was stumped when looking for their marriage record. It was only by chance on my only visit to the New Hampshire State Library that I decided to search state records. There it was! The missing marriage record!]

Mary’s life definitely changed after marrying George. In 1850, they were living not in Glenburn or New Gloucester, Maine or in New Hampshire, but in Newburyport, Essex, Massachusetts, where George worked as an overseer in a mill.

The family was enumerated on 10 September 1850. Also at home with them was daughter Mary Elizabeth, aged 7 months. It’s important to know the rest of the story, though, because infant Mary died on 23 September, just 13 days after the census taker came knocking.

Mary was pregnant again in October 1850 and daughter Elizabeth was born in Newburyport on 19 July 1851. Elizabeth was aware that she had been born in Massachusetts, but would have had no memory of life there because the young Tarbox family moved once again, this time to Robbinston, Washington, Maine, a small village next to Calais.

George was doing well in the business world and was noted as being a “manufacturer” in the 1860 census. The value of his real estate was $1200 and $500 for his personal estate. By 1860, there were four children in the home, Elizabeth, George R. Jr., Nellie and Charles. The three younger children had all been born in Maine. Mary had two more children born between 1860 and 1870 – sons Horace and Oliver.

However, the 1860s were difficult for the family and not because of the Civil War. George Rogers Jr. died on 10 July 1864 in Calais. He was recorded as being 10 years old, but no cause of death was mentioned.


1. Mary Elizabeth, born 24 November 1849, Newburyport, Essex, Massachusetts; died 23 September 1850, Newburyport, Essex, Massachusetts
2. Elizabeth, born 19 July 1851, Newburyport, Essex, Massachusetts; died 27 May 1928, Calais, Washington, Maine; married Charles Stiles Vickery, 23 September 1871, Calais, Washington, Maine
3. George Rogers, born c1854, Robbinston, Washington, Maine; died 10 July 1864, Calais, Washington, Maine
4. Nellie F., born 28 June 1856, Robbinston, Washington, Maine; died 23 December 1927, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts; married Calvin Segee Adams, 1 February 1875, Calais, Washington, Maine
5. Charles Franklin, born 13 May 1859, Robbinston, Washington, Maine; died 25 June 1941, South Attleboro, Bristol, Massachusetts; married Cleantha (Cannie) Cochran, 19 October 1881, Milltown, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada
6. Horace W., born 20 April 1861, Robbinston, Washington, Maine; died 8 June 1914, Sharon, Norfolk, Massachusetts; married Elizabeth Eugenia Lane, 13 June 1881, Calais, Washington, Maine
7. Oliver Scripture, born 2 July 1863, Robbinston, Washington, Maine; died 15 January 1924, Calais, Washington, Maine; married Jenny Deborah Mingo, 1 June 1887, Calais, Washington, Maine. They had no children.

Mary didn’t live long enough to see any of her children reach adulthood. She died on 11 March 1866, cause unknown, but only 39 years old.

There is one surviving photo of Mary. Look closely at her. Mary’s eyes are closed, her hands are posed in an unusual manner and the chair back looks odd, like it’s a brace. There is also something covered the front of Mary’s dress, although she appears to be wearing her finest clothing.

I believe this is a post-mortem photograph, taken on 11 or 12 March 1866, before Mary was buried. This was probably the only photograph ever taken of her and the family wanted a keepsake memento of a loved wife and mother. While the idea of photographing our dead loved ones might seem morbid today, it was a very popular practice during the Victorian era with the advent of photography.





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