Sunday, December 13, 2009

You Say Potato, I Say Potaaato; When it's Carved in Marble it's Forever

Alternate spellings sometimes make a researcher wonder who they are following through the maze of documents. Some name changes were deliberate, due to family arguments or delusions of grandeur. We know that naming patterns of children can sometimes hint at the names of their grandparents. How did you choose your children's names?

George and Sarah Haith were British immigrants in the first half of the 19th century, who lived in Springfield, Otsego County, NY with their large family. In various records, the name is spelled Heath, Heith, or Haith, indicating that they may have been illiterate. “Haith” would sound like a cockney pronunciation of “Heath.” George was born about 1800 and Sarah about 1805.

The family first appears in the 1840 census in Springfield, although their children born in the 1830s were said to be born in NY. They do not appear to have owned land. In the 1865 NYS census, Sarah was said to have borne 13 children. Eight are known from census records, born between 1825 and 1849, which would have been Sarah's likely childbearing years. Two sons who are also found in the Otsego County census, born in England, may be among their children:

  • Mary, born about 1825 in Lincolnshire, married Dewitt C. Colman about 1844 and had 11 children in Otsego County. Sarah was living with Mary’s family in 1870;
  • Edward, born about 1826, married Elizabeth
  • John, born about 1827 in England
  • Dennis, born about 1830 in England, married Mary A. Rhyde;
  • Sarah Jane, born about 1833, married Henry Wiltse and moved to Hamilton, NY, mother of pro baseball players “Hooks” and “Snake” Wiltse;
  • Ann E., born about 1839, married Tunnis V. Leroy after 1855 when she was working as a dressmaker and living with her sister Mary;
  • Henry, born 1841 in Otsego County, married Martha O. Willsey before 1865;
  • Albert C., born in Springfield, NY in 1842
  • Fannie, born 1843, married Eugene O. Ayres
  • Prudence born 1849 in Otsego County, was said to be “idiotic by fits for 16 years” in the 1865 census. By 1870 she is no longer listed with her mother, and it is not known what happened to her.

At least one son served in the Civil War. Albert C. Heith mustered into Company D of the 152nd Regiment of NY Infantry at Mohawk, NY on 15 October 1862. He gave his occupation as a farmer, and was listed at 6 feet 2 ½ inches tall, light complexion, blue eyes, brown hair. He was appointed as Corporal on 20 September 1862, after enrolling for three years on 18 August in Springfield. He was promoted to Sergeant on 12 March 1863. On 19 September 1863 Albert was detailed as Sergeant of the Guard at the Headquarters of the Provost Marshal of the Fifth District in New York City. Nine “substitute volunteers” were committed to his custody, three of whom escaped. He was charged, reduced from the rank of Sergeant to Private, and placed under arrest. Parker D. Fay, Captain of Company D, vouched for his character, stating that he had never been “censured or reprimanded” in the past. On 3 November the prisoner was received at Fort Columbus NY. By the time the muster roll was entered for March/April 1864 he had been promoted to Corporal once again (April 24). On 5 May 1864 Albert was mortally injured at Wilderness, Virginia. Three officers and 10 enlisted men died in battle; 36 were injured. Albert was one of the four who did not recover. He died on 12 May 1864.

Henry Haith named his son Albert C. Heath in 1869.

George died 20 February 1869. Although his headstone gives his age as 56, census records indicate he would have been 69.

Sarah R. Haith died 25 January 1874, aged 69, and is buried in the Springfield Center cemetery on Route 20. In 1870 she had been living with her daughter Mary Colman in Middlefield, but she is also listed with Sarah Wiltse's family as a “domestic servant.”

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