William Coleman and Sarah Moriah Crouse were like many of the residents of Calais, Maine in the early 1800’s. Their roots were a mixture of colonial America mixed with Loyalists and pre-Loyalists who migrated to Canada long before the American Revolution.
William’s father, Thomas Coleman, was born in Richmond, Maine, near Portland in 1800. By 1830, he had migrated all the way up to the Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada community of Nelson.
I have no idea how he found Nelson, as it was well over 400 miles from Richmond. However, he settled there for several years, marrying Mary Elizabeth Astle, the granddaughter of Loyalist James Astle. On 10 June 1834, their son, William, my 2x great grandfather was born. Not long after, the young family migrated to Calais, Maine, where they spent the rest of their lives.
The family history of Sarah Moriah Crouse, born 7 May 1833, wasn’t much different. Her grandfather, Phillip Crouse, was a Loyalist from North Carolina, who settled in New Brunswick at the close of the war. Her father, Peter, died about 1836; her mother, Rebecca Jones, married Benjamin Blyther about 1837. Rebecca’s family was originally from Rhode Island, but were pre-Loyalists, tempted by the offers of lands in Canada in the early 1760’s.
Benjamin Blyther was a widower, born in Maine, and not found in the 1830 census. That might be explained by the fact that the Crouse family lived in Keswick, York, New Brunswick, about 70 miles from Calais.
Benjamin may have been living in the same village and, thus, had the opportunity to meet and marry Rebecca. However, by 1840, the blended family was settled in Calais, in the section known as Red Beach, the same neighborhood where the Coleman family lived.
William Coleman married Sarah Moriah Crouse on 6 May 1855 in Calais, Maine.
I don’t know whether William got a taste of ocean life if the family moved to Calais via water instead of land travel or if living in Calais, on the water, sparked his interest in maritime life. Either way, although Thomas was a farmer, young William was showing a preference for life on the water. In 1850, aged 16, he was enumerated as a sailor.
William and Sarah settled into married life and, by 1860, had children at home. Notice that William literally married the girl next door, as they are household 885, William’s parents are in household 884 and Sarah’s mother, two older brothers and her step family were living next to Thomas and Mary in household 883.
Blyther and Coleman Families, 1860
William was a farm laborer, likely helping his father and in-laws with their crops. William and Sarah had daughter Mary A, (Mary Adelaide, known by Addie, aged 4, and son, William E., ten months old. Both were born in Maine. There is a gap of at least 3 years between Mary and William, suggesting a child who died young. In fact, they had a little brother, Alvin D., born 27 November 1857. No death record has been found for little Alvin, but a Coleman family gravestone has a death date of 16 April 1858 for him. Little Alvin was not quite five months old when he died. That must have been heartbreaking, although sadly not uncommon, for William, Sarah and their extended family.
By 1870, William had long left farming behind. He was not only a sailor, but a steamboat captain, working on the St. Croix River.
The family had expanded to include daughter Mary, now 14, William E., now aged 10, joined by brothers Samuel J., aged 6 and Hartwell T., 6 months old, born in December 1869. Although there are gaps again in the children’s ages, Sarah hadn’t lost any children between these censuses.
However, the family did lose one more young child, Ethel H., who was born on 30 December 1873. She appears in the 1880 census, but sadly, only in the mortality schedule.
Little Ethel died of croup, but was well loved and remembered. When my grandmother, Hazel, was born in 1901, Hartwell and Anna gave her the middle name of Ethel, in memory of Hartwell’s beloved baby sister. Ethel’s name and dates are also found on the Coleman family gravestone.
By 1880, Addie had married George Redding, but William and Sarah were at home with their three sons, William and Samuel, now going by their middle names of Edgar and Jones, and Hartwell.
William’s seafaring career was going well, as he had earned the status of master tugboat captain. Through all the years, Sarah was at home, caring for her children.
In 1895, William and Sarah lost another child, their only surviving daughter, Addie Redding, who died of pneumonia, and left seven of her own children behind.
The 1900 census is the last in which William appears. The extended Coleman family included wife Sarah, son Hartwell and his wife, Anna, and son Hazen, along with Anna’s widowed father and Addie Redding’s orphaned daughter, Rebecca.
On 6 February 1905, William and Sarah celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Just three months later, on 30 May 1905, William died of a stroke.
He was remembered in this obituary:
Calais Advertiser, Wednesday, May 30, 1905
Capt. William Coleman died yesterday morning at the age of 71 years. Capt. Coleman was born in Richmond, Maine and came to Red Beach when a boy, moving to Calais 36 years ago. He followed the sea all his life, being engaged in the coastwise trade for several years. Afterward, he commanded the gut, William T. Mason, which he brought from New York, and a number of other boats owned by the Calais Tug Boat Co. For some 10 years he was in command of the boats of the Frontier Steamboat Co., a position he filled to the satisfaction of the traveling public, and to the Company, and which is now being filled by his son. Capt. Coleman was, of course, one of the best known men in the St. Croix Valley, and was as well liked as he was widely known, and many tried and true friends will sincerely regret his disease (sic). Capt. Coleman was married to Miss Sara Crouse of Calais, whom, with three sons, Edgar W., James (sic) S. and Hartwell T., survive him. The funeral services will be held this afternoon at 3 o’clock.
Sarah survived him by another 25 years, passing away on 18 October 1930, also in Calais. Her obituary:
Calais Advertiser, October 22, 1930
Died. Calais, Oct. 18, Sarah M. Coleman, aged 97 yrs, 5 mos and 11 days.
Mrs. Sarah M. Coleman, widow of the late Capt. William Coleman, died Saturday afternoon at the home of he son, Hartwell T. Coleman, after an illness of seven months. Deceased was born at Keswick, N.B. in 1833, but the greater part of her 97 years were lived in Calais, where she made many warm friends. She was a consistent member of the Union Church, the pastor of which, R.L. Buzzell, conducted the funeral services Monday afternoon, the attendance and beautiful floral offerings attesting to the esteem in which the deceased was held.
Both are buried at Calais Cemetery with their children.