Maternal Branches in the Family Tree: Sarah Ann Parker (1817-1900)

Today’s sketch subject is my 3X great grandmother, Sarah Ann Parker. Although much is known about Sarah and her family, there are no known surviving photos of her.

What is becoming quite evident as I write up my maternal ancestors with a special focus on how events would have affected their lives, it is apparent that, until the 20th century, almost all of them suffered several (or many) losses throughout their lifetimes.

Sarah Ann Parker was born on 24 January 1817 on Campobello Island, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada, the second child but first daughter born to Benjamin Parker and Maria Wilson.

Sarah suffered two great losses as a young girl. First, her mother, Maria, died in October 1828, when Sarah was only 11 years old.

Several years later, there was an accident in the waters between Campobello Island and Casco Bay Island. A group of mostly young people, based on ages in the news article, were sailing to Casco Bay Island as a social get together. The boat capsized and four people drowned. One was Thankful Wilson, 16, a cousin of Sarah (who would have been 18 years old in July 1835), the second, a young man named Alexander Tinker, also 16, while the third victim was Sarah’s 16 year old sister, Hannah Parker. The fourth was Sally Ann Chaplin of Digby, Nova Scotia, no age given, but she undoubtedly would have been visiting friends or family on Campobello Island.

Survivors included Benjamin Parker, but no age is stated so it is unsure whether this Benjamin was Sarah’s father, a brother or a cousin.

Campobello Island is not home to a huge resident population and, in 1835, everyone knew everyone else and was related to many. This boating accident would have been a very somber event for all.

Most Campobello men were fishermen or possibly mariners. Sarah’s father was a fisherman who lived both on Campobello Island and, for a short time, on nearby Deer Island.

A year after the boating tragedy, Sarah Ann Parker married Daniel Adams, a fisherman like her father who lived on Adams Island, on 15 September 1836 on Deer Island.

Daniel and Sarah settled into married life, welcoming their first child just 14 months after they married. Sarah gave birth to nine children in all, born between 1837 and 1861.

Fishing was a difficult way to make a living and opportunities were limited on tiny Adams Island. By 1851, Daniel had moved his family to Deer Island, which offered more social life and easier access to fisheries.

However, the family spent but a few years on Deer Island before Daniel decided on two drastic life changes. First, he moved his family to Calais, Washington, Maine. By the Civil War era, Calais was a thriving city, home to a variety of trades and businesses.

Daniel must have possessed some good carpentry skills, as he took on the new occupation of boat builder.

Whether or not Sarah had any input or influence into her husband’s decisions, she accepted family moves from her birthplace of Campobello Island to Adams Island to Deer Island, all in Canada and, lastly, across the border to Calais, Maine.

Sarah made a home for her family and gave birth to seven known children on Adams Island, no doubt with the help of a midwife.

Her two youngest children were born in Calais.

There is a five-year gap in births during the time in which she lived on Deer Island – 1852-1857 – and it’s possible that she might have lost an infant or two during those years.

Children (births on Adams Island unless noted otherwise):

1. Benjamin William, born November 1837; died 2 June 1914, Lubec, Washington, Maine; married Mary Ellen Thayer, 21 January 1861, Lubec, Washington, Maine
2. Emeline M., born 6 May 1840; died 11 July 1917, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts; married Loring Benoni Bill, 22 November 1866, Calais, Washington, Maine
3. Calvin Segee, born 15 March 1843; died 15 jJanuary 1921, St. Stephen, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada; married (1) Martha Maria Tillinghast, 12 December 1869, Bristol, Bristol, Rhode Island (2) Nellie F. Tarbox, 1 February 1875, Calais, Washington, Maine
4. Charles Edward, born c1846; died c1865; unmarried
5. Nelson James, born 2 June 1850; died 2 December 1918, Calais, Washington, Maine; married (1) Annie Stickney, c1879 (2) Hannah Elizaabeth (?Graham) Olive, 21 September 1904, Calais, Washington, Maine
6. Frances Caroline, born 27 August 1851; died c1933, probably Chelsea, Suffolk, Massachusetts; married James George Cragen, 13 February 1889, Calais, Washington, Maine. They had no children.
7. Angeline Jane, born c1852; died after 1930, probably Los Angeles, California; married (1) Sturgis A. Thomas, 23 August 1866, Calais, Washington, Maine (2) Samuel Henry Conroy, 22 April 1906, Somerville, Middlesex, Massachusetts. Annie had no children.
8. Bertha M., born c1857, Calais, Washington, Maine; died after 1870; no further record
9. Lowell Robert, born September 1861, Calais, Washington, Maine; died 23 March 1954, Everett, Middlesex, Massachusetts; married (1) Charlotte May Ward, 5 April 1887, St. Stephen, Charlotte, New Brunswick, Canada (2) Grace Lillian Barnes, 29 June 1908, Concord, Merrimack, New Hampshire

Long before vital records were available online, I was ecstatic to find Sarah’s death printed in the Calais City Directory and I obtained a abstract of her death record from the Calais City Clerk in 1980:

According to these records, she died on 24 January 1900. This is definitely a lesson in pursuing original records because I found a discrepancy caused by careless abstracting when the “original” death record appeared online:

Date of Death: 7 February 1900
Date of Birth: 24 January 1817

Someone blended her month and day of birth with the year of her death!

Lengthy obituaries were uncommon at the turn of the 20th century, but Sarah did have a short death notice in The Bangor Daily News:

It’s peculiar that eldest son, Benjamin, isn’t mentioned, nor are any of the surviving daughters. Perhaps it’s because Calvin, Nelson and Lowell were the only ones living in Calais.

Sarah lived a typical life for women of her times, marrying young, raising a large family and moving three times in during her married life.

However, Daniel did well as a boat builder and the Adams clan lived a comfortable life in Maine.







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