Maternal Branches on the Family Tree: Mary Elizabeth Astle (1809-1889)

Mary Elizabeth Astle was born in April 1809, based on her age at death. She was the daughter of Daniel Astle and his wife, Jane, who might POSSIBLY be a Parker. Her paternal grandparents, James Astle and Elizabeth McLane, were Loyalists who left Dutchess County, New York for Quebec, where Daniel was born, and then finally to Northumberland County, New Brunswick.

Little is known about Daniel Astle, as he died fairly young, before 20 November 1817, when his probate was announced in the newspaper. He had some financial setbacks in the years before his death, with the sheriff selling his land, but if and how that is connected to his death is not known.

What is certain is that Daniel was survived by five children – three sons (George, John T. and James Daniel) and two daughters Mary and Hannah), all under the age of 9. At 8 years old, Mary was old enough to remember her father and the likely hardship faced by the young family after the death of her father.

Fourteen months after her father died, Mary and her siblings faced a new change in living circumstances when her mother, Jane, married (2) George Ripplee on 26 January 1819, Northumberland, New Brunswick, Canada.

George was an Irishman who arrived in New Brunswick in 1816.

The household continued to grow with three half siblings born – Margaret Ripplee, c1821, Jane, c1823 and Thomas, c1827.

The family lived in the small village of Nelson, but attended St. Paul’s Anglican Church in the larger town of Chatham.

In the latter part of the 1820s, Thomas Coleman, from Richmond, Sagadahoc, Maine, arrived in Nelson and decided to stay. He and Mary Elizabeth were married on 22 June 1830 in Nelson.

Thomas made his living as a farmer, based on the church entry for Thomas’s and Mary’s first child, William, baptized on 24 July 1834.

Sometime between William’s birth in 1834 and the 1840 U.S. census, the family left Canada and settled permanently in Calais, Washington, Maine.

The 1840 census revealed two additional children at home. Both were born between 1835 and 1840, but only one has been identified.

Mary Anne Coleman was born c1837, probably in Calais, Maine and she died sometimes after 7 September 1864. She married David/Daniel Moran on 31 March 1858, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts. They were the parents of at least two children – John Edward and Julia M., who died within a week of each other of diphtheria. John and Julia were aged 3 years and 8 months, respectively, when they died.

Neither Mary Anne nor her husband have been found after 1864, but they moved back and forth between New York City and Boston. With common names, neither has been found in 1870.

It seems likely that Thomas and Mary Elizabeth lost both their daughters at fairly young ages. In fact, it’s possible that they never saw Mary Anne again after she left home.

Perhaps to fill the void and lessen their feelings of loss, They took in a little girl named Margaret, who is at home with them in 1850 and called their adopted daughter. She was born in January 1846 in Maine, but her birth parents are unknown.

Margaret married Henry A. Day, 5 September 1868 in Topsfield, a small town near Calais. They had one known child, Herbert Franklin Day, born November 1883 in Calais.

Mary would have known her adopted grandson during the last years of her life, as well as six grandchildren born to her son, William.

She also knew six of her great grandchildren, which must have been very special.

Mary’s and Thomas’s son, William, remained in Calais and cared for his parents in their senior years.

Mary Elizabeth (Astle) Coleman survived her husband, Thomas, by 19 months, passing away the day after Christmas on 26 December 1889 in Calais, Washington, Maine.

Mary appeared in two documents during her lifetime, which added to my knowledge about her and her family.

Proving Mary Elizabeth’s parentage had me stumped for years. Finally, I found a land deed, filed more than 30 years after her father Daniel’s death, that named his heirs. Thomas and Mary Elizabeth Coleman of Calais, Maine were named with her mother, stepfather and Astle siblings.

Secondly, Mary and her son William sold Thomas’s land not long after he died. The 1880 census indicated that Mary was able to read and write, but the 1889 deed confirmed that fact, as she and William both signed their names to the sale, rather than having their consent noted with their (X) marks.

Compared to my other 3X great grandparents, Mary Elizabeth had a more comfortable life and endured fewer family losses.






One thought on “Maternal Branches on the Family Tree: Mary Elizabeth Astle (1809-1889)”

  1. Those land documents come through again – so cool! And how awful for for Mary Anne, losing two children to diphtheria in such a short time…heart-breaking.

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