Rebecca Jones, my 3X great grandmother, is one of the few ancestors that really delivered surprises when I researched her life story.
Although her death certificate gives her birth date and place as 19 March 1809 in Fredericton, York, New Brunswick, Canada, her family lived in the nearby village of Keswick. It’s much more likely she was born there rather than in Fredericton. Rebecca may have told a family member that she was born in a little town near Fredericton, so the city is what was put down on her death record.
Rebecca was the 11th of 12 children (5 sons and 7 daughters) born to Richard Jones and Mary Boone. The first surprise encountered as I researched her parents was learning, after 37 years of researching, that I finally had a Mayflower ancestor – George Soule – through Mary Boone.
The Jones household would have been extremely busy. Her father was a small farmer and her mother would have worked daily at household chores. What was very unusual for the time is that all twelve of the Jones children lived to adulthood and married. They had some strong survival genes!
With Rebecca’s oldest brother, James, born in 1787, not marrying until the youngest children had been born, Richard and Mary would have had many hands to help with daily life.
Rebecca married Peter Crouse around 1826. The Crouses were another large family (17 children) that lived in Keswick. Peter was born 2 February 1800, the 7th child of Philip Crouse and Sarah Burt.
Peter was apparently also a small farmer. Little is known about him as he died a young husband and father in his 30s, around 1835, in New Brunswick, Canada.
Peter Crouse and Rebecca Jones were the parents of four children, all born in Keswick:
- Elias, born 1828; died before 15 February 1866, probably Calais, Washington, Maine; married Cyrene A. Cook, 18 January 1858, Calais, Washington, Maine. It appears they had no children.
- Dean, born 1829; died between 1861-1870, probably Calais, Washington, Maine. It appears he didn’t marry.
- Samuel, born 1831; died between 1865-1880; married (1) Matilda Jane Carlow, 24 February 1855, Calais, Washington, Maine (2) Eliza Smith, c1860
- Sarah Moriah, born 7 May 1833; died 18 October 1930, Calais, Washington, Maine; married William Coleman, 6 February 1855, Calais, Washington, Maine
With Peter gone and Rebecca having four young children, she not only decided to marry again, but uprooted her family and moved to Red Beach, Washington, Maine, which today is part of the city of Calais.
She married Benjamin Blyther, as his second wife, about 1835, but how they met is a mystery since he was born in Maine and died there.
Benjamin Blyther and Rebecca Jones were the parents of six children, all born in Calais, Washington, Maine:
1. Mary Elizabeth, born 10 February 1836; died 2 June 1893, Alameda County, California; married (1) Albert J. Hannah, 23 November 1859, Calais, Washington, Maine (2) James Elbridge Hannah, 31 December 1864, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts. She had no known children.
2. Martha, born November 1838; died after 1930, probably Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts; married Joseph S. Smith, between 1860-1870, probably Calais, Washington, Maine. They raised several nieces and nephews, but had no known children of their own.
3. Helen Marr, born 16 June 1842; died 16 January 1930, Berkeley, Alameda, California; married Charles Henry Wright, 31 May 1875, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. They had two daughters.
4. Ruth, born c1844; died 10 October 1939, Alameda County, California; married Robert A. Campbell, 21 February 1867, Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts. They had two sons and one daughter.
5. Henrietta L., born 1 April 1847; died 22 January 1944, Sonoma, Sonoma, California; married (1) Philip Roemmele, 29 July 1875, Sacramento, Sacramento, California (2) Edward S. Rusing, 7 August 1878, Alameda County, California. Helen and Edward had two daughters.
6. Albert F., born March 1851; died 26 July 1858, Calais, Washington, Maine
Benjamin Blyther was quite a bit older than Rebecca – about 16 years – and he died in 1878 in Calais, Washington, Maine.
Now for the second surprise in this family! I never thought much about it, but Rebecca wasn’t readily found in the 1880 census. However, she is buried with Benjamin in Red Beach Cemetery with the death date of 1897.
As I researched the Blyther children, and discovered that the girls had married and gone to California, via Massachusetts, look what popped up in Placer County, California in the 1880 census:
This is the family of Robert and Ruth (Blyther) Campbell, living in Cisco, Placer, California – and look who is living with them (3rd line from the bottom) – R. BLYTHER, MOTHER!
I had thought that Rebecca lived out her days as a widow, living next door to daughter Sarah (Crouse) Coleman and her family in Red Beach.
There was yet another surprise when I searched for Blyther records in Massachusetts. Rebecca’s grandson, Dean Samuel Blyther, was living in Hubbardston, Worcester, Massachusetts at the turn of the 20th century.
Among the Hubbardston records was a death certificate for. . . .Rebecca Blyther!
Rebecca may have only lived in the villages of Keswick and Red Beach for most of her life, but she lived a wild life traveling as a widow in her senior years! Perhaps even more surprising is that her body was sent back to Calais and buried in Red Beach Cemetery.
Our 1980 visit to Red Beach Cemetery
Although Benjamin’s gravestone is in good condition, Rebecca’s stone is said to have broken and is lying on the ground.