St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Remembering First Wives of the Past

 When researching the past, it is always fun to find more than one woman that your ancestor called "wife."  It is more than frustrating to not document much more than that.

In the last few days, my research has unearthed more first wives of cousins or of uncles who seem to have just been "forgotten" when it's time for a burial.

For instance, just this week, a new friend, Mary B., was gracious to send a pic of the grave of Goodman Y COULTER in Melrose Cemetery, Bridgeville, Allegheny, PA.  How much fun it was to see it standing proud and tall in Allegheny Co, PA.

Note the name of the wife, Julia  Yes, they were married in 1852 and had a good life together, along with three children.

But where is the first wife? Hmmm?  Sure, she died in 1851 after about 25 years of wedded bliss and 8 children with Goodman.

Good ole Euphemia MIDDLESWARTH COULTER is buried just down the road at the Bethany Presbyterian Church with her family and several of her children.

Here is Euphemia's obit:

Died on Friday the tenth of consumption, Mrs Euphemia wife of Goodman Y Coulter, of South Fayette Twp, Allegheny Co, PA and daughter of the late Moses Middleswarth, elder at Bethany Church.  She left a husband and seven children.  Member of Bethany church for 13 years.

Obit of Julia McKOWN COULTER

Everybody knew Goodman COULTER. His widow, Mrs. Julia MCKOWN COULTER died
on the 22d. She leaves three daughters, Mrs. Euphemia HERRIOTT, Mrs.
Margaret A. NESBIT, Mrs. Annie C. FRYER.

To date, the obit for Goodman has not been located.  It will be interesting to read it when it does surface.

It's another day for a total head scratching as the evidence for not one, not two, but three wives shows up on the computer screen for an uncle. That is, according to three different censusus.

William Wiley HUNNEWELL was born 1848 in Allegheny Co, PA.  He joins the military off and on again from the time of the Civil War up til about 1874.  He lives in Eau Clair, Wisconsin, for a number of years, with the first documented time of the 1880 census.  In this census, he is listed as having a wife, Angeline.  Angeline is born in Wisconsin of German parents.

In 1883, there is a birth of a child, William, who is baptized in November 1883.  There is no record uncovered of the death of Angeline or of this William.

In  Mar 1884, a newly divorced (Feb 1884) Alice G SWIFT marries William.  (As a note, Alice was born in NY, but her family removes to Wisconsin.) All this is from the Wisconsin records.  William and Alice stay in the area until about 1897 according to the city directories.

In 1900, they resurface back in Pittsburgh.  There is a son, William, who is said to have been born Jan. 1885 (according to his military draft registration.)  Alice dies, but I have not located a definitive death date or place of burial for her in Allegheny Co.
Update 2 Oct 2012:  Alice's final resting spot has been positively identified in Allegheny Cemetery, Allegheny, PA.  Her death date is 3 April 1914.

Alice Swift Hunnewell
Emma Hunnewell
William W. remarries a much younger Emma by the 1920 census.  They die just months apart in 1931 and are buried together in Pittsburgh.  So where is Angeline?  I suspect she is buried in Wisconsin.  Where is Alice?  Rumor has it she is buried at the Allegheny Cemetery, but I have yet to document this information. Update 2 Oct 2012:  Alice's final resting spot has been positively identified in Allegheny Cemetery, Allegheny, PA.  Her death date is 3 April 1914.

William W's obit:
HUNNEWELL- At West Penn Hospital, on Saturday, October 3, 1931, at 11 am, William W, husband of the late Emma Hunnewell of 301 York Way. He was a member of the Post No. 3 GAR. Remains at the home of the Ferguson Wood Co., Forbes St at McKee Place, Oakland.  Services will be held on Tuesday, October 6, at 2:30 pm. Post No. 3, GAR and all other members of GAR and friends invited.-

So, who are the two Williams born in 1883 and in 1885?  Are they different or are they the same?  I haven't been able to follow the one born in 1885 after the 1920 census.  He has two daughters with his wife, and like so many, they disappear after the 1930 census.  Did they marry?  Did they die?  Do they have blood descendents?

These are just two examples in my own family.  I'm sure you genealogy buffs have many similar instances where finding the first wife is a challenge.  Those women were there and a part of the early lives of our kin.  Most likely, they died young in childbirth or after an illness.  In any event, as we remember our moms this weekend, let us not forget all the moms and wives of the past--  even if you can't find them.

Ahh, genealogy.  Gotta keep scratching that itch.

Genalogical Excerpts from the Pres Advocate Oct 4, 1838-Oct 24, 1855, pg 130
Bethany Presbyterian Church Records found online at
McDonald Outlook, Feb 1, 1902
1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930 Federal Census
Pittsburgh Press, June 5, 1931
Pittsburgh Press, Oct 5, 1931
Eau Clair Leader, June 24, 1905

©2012 AS Eldredge

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