I want to thank Nick at the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society in Janesville, Wisconsin, for his help in retrieving the following obituary in the Sabbath Recorder, volume 22: issue 18, p. 71.
In Wellsville, N.Y.; February 24th, 1866, Mrs. SARAH SAYLES, wife of Christopher Sayles, in the 72nd year of her age. She was a member of the Protestant Methodist Church, and adorned her profession by a godly life. Her end was one of triumph over the terrors of death and the grave. She leaves eight children, and twelve brothers and sisters, being the first to die out of her father’s family of children, the youngest of whom is fifty-three.
A quick read of this paragraph reveals my great-great-great-grandmother Sayles to have been a godly woman; a wife, a mother and sister. The second read through tickles my curiosity. With its choice of the word “wife”, the author communicates that Sarah was survived by her husband Christopher Sayles, with whom she had had eight children. The author also states that Sarah died in Wellsville. I know from other family records that the couple had lived much of their adult lives in Tioga County, Pennsylvania. What, then, was Sarah doing living across the New York state border, in Allegany County?
START WITH THE FACTS AND CHASE THE TALE
The 1865 New York State census marked the trail head to this mystery path: Sarah and Christopher were sharing a home with their daughter, Rhobe Sayles Crandall.
This discovery pushed me to flush out Sarah’s other seven children and her twelve brothers and sisters. Family historian and cousin, Sharon B, fed me data crumbs which aided my search, and I reread a transcribed The History of Tioga County (Pennsylvania) on Joyce Tice’s site, Tri-Counties Genealogy and History. Now my trail was well blazed.
THE FAMILY TREE OF SARAH KING SAYLES
Sarah and Christopher were born and married in Burrillville, Rhode Island, and they moved to Tioga County, Pennsylvania in 1825. Here they raised eight children to adulthood: Ira (my great-great-grandfather), Rhobe (Crandall), Priscilla (died at age 2), James King, Christopher Loren, Martha (Pickett), Philander, Keziah King (Batcheller), and Adriel King.
Many of Sarah’s siblings were among the residents of Tioga County, as her parents had also migrated from Rhode Island to Tioga County in 1825. James and Merrobe (Roby) Howland King had thirteen children: Prince, Allen, Eddy, Ozial, Sarah (Sayles), John, James, Keziah (Crandall), William H, Hannah, Roby, Adriel, and Almon, who being the youngest, was just 53 at Sarah’s death.
Newspaper notices capture the facts of a life.
Sarah King Sayles passed from this earth on a Saturday, the 24th of February 1866. That fact, and the reference to all those who shed tears upon learning the news, is easily transmitted in newsprint.
But who was Sarah, really? I am left with as many questions as Sarah had siblings. How did Christopher and Sarah contribute to their children’s household? Where did her siblings reside? How much time passed before they knew of her death? Her obituary states that she adorned her profession with a godly life. How did Sarah practice her faith? Did any of her children serve in the Civil War? How did that affect her? As she triumphed over the terrors of death, did she suffer a lingering illness?
Just who was Sarah King Sayles?
I love where I live, though I leave a fairly large carbon footprint to embrace all that I love. Every second and fourth Saturday throughout the growing season, I tune into Car Talk and travel to Covered Bridge Road, Orangeville, Pennsylvania. To market, to market, to market I go!!! My favorite vendors include the folks of Forks Farm, host to up to two dozen local organic farmers, bakers and friends. Free range poultry, grass fed beef and pork, eggs, fresh cheese, scrumptious goodies, squash and greens and garlic and potatoes….AND the most beautiful scenery year round. Last Saturday I shot as many photos as I could, believing that the approaching Frankenstorm would tear the remaining fall color from branches. One of my most favorite shots, however, was this lovely lichen atop the cows’ fencepost.
Silently, steadily I waited for my passerine friends to return to their snacking, my seat becoming damp and chilled. My neck ached and the lens wobbled, so I lowered my Nikon, fortunately. For in that unguarded moment my eye was caught by the imperceptible movement among the vines beneath the siskin snack shop. Stealthily I resumed my photographer’s yoga pose, a teeny-tiny path framed in my viewfinder. AH! From the the oak leaf-blanketed vinca emerged a soft gray cylindrical body, with barely a trace of eye or ear. This pink limbed critter has probably been living among the rocks at lawn’s edge all summer. It is only now, as I notice all of fall’s colors, that my mole lends her colors to my landscape palette.
Autumn heralds color changes; we all anticipate the breathtaking beauty of deciduous maples, oaks and aspen. If we are observant, we will also notice the rich colors birds sport after their fall molts. Adding to the seasonal surprise is the variation in the birds visiting our lawns and feeders. Here I captured my most recent irruption: Pine Siskins!
Amateur geologist Sayles begins his note by referencing an 1858 map of Pennsylvania, a product of geological surveys conducted between 1836-1857, and printed under the superintendence of Henry D. Rogers, Pennsylvania’s first State Geologist. The map can be accessed at the state’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website.
As I studied this map – thoughts racing and crashing into one another – I discovered traces of the Minors and the Sayles, the Delehantys and the Corrigans. All of these pieces of my past had been influenced by the topography and the geology of the Keystone State, with its deposits of Devonian coal and oil.
With a jolt, I recognized the patterns so carefully displayed; the first Pennsylvania Geological Survey resembles a DCNR map published almost 150 years later!
So, it turns out that the Devonian sandstones Ira Sayles described in 1864 actually cap the black, organic-rich Marcellus Shale now at the center of my state’s natural gas fracking debate. The scavenger hunt for ancestor stories has led me, once again, full circle to my own story.
*The first American oil boom began with the drilling of Edwin Drake’s well in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1859.
“Church Record Sunday – describe a specific church record or a set of records held by a church or denomination and how they can assist genealogists. This is an ongoing series developed by Gena Philibert Ortega at Gena’s Genealogy.”
Trolling through the records of Greene County, Pennsylvania, I came across a transcription of the Goshen (John Corbly) Baptist Church minutes, 1773-1857, in which appear the names of several Minor ancestors.
Abia Minor and his wife, Margaret Pearson, became members shortly after bringing their young family to the wilds of southwestern Pennsylvania.
Met at Thomas Wrights and after singing and prayer proceeded to business. When Abia and Margaret Minor were received by a letter of dismission from Highestown, New Jersey.
John Pearson Minor (1791-1874), their eldest son, remained in the vicinity of Big Whiteley Creek and, as noted by local historian, William Hanna, in the 1888 History of Greene County, was among the prominent members of this congregation, “fervent in spirit” and”diligent in business, being extensively engaged in droving, and one of the active participants in the affairs of the Farmers and Drovers Bank of Waynesburg.”
This religiosity and business acumen would account for the inclusion of this handcut and bound booklet among the documents of the Minor Satchel.
We the undersigned do agree to pay the sum assigned to our names. To John Long, Corbly Garard, jonathan Garard, JP Minor, Vinson Long, Jeremiah Stewart and Abner Morris. A building committee for the benevolent purpose of building a meeting-house for the regular baptist church on big Whiteley, called Goshen. To be built of brick 43 feet by 55 feet, one story 14 feet high. To be built at or near the place where the old house now stands. The money subscribed to be paid, one half when the house is covered, and the balance when the house is completed. For the faithful performance of the above we here unto set our names and sum. This 12 day of December 1842.
The names and sums pledged are then duly recorded: you can review the entire document at flickr.com. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/31479748@N03/sets/72157629979227291/)
The addendum to this 1843 record states indicates that this brick building was completed by February of 1844:
Settled up all borrowed money and A Minor is to lift a note in the xxxxxxx for $220 and give up to John P. Minor xxxx. my hand this 19th day of February 1844.
This Saturday’s sun tempted me outside, but the freezing temperatures chased me back indoors after a quick filling of bird feeders. I couldn’t let this gorgeous light go to waste, however. With the bright light filtering through my windows I placed my family heirloom on the dining room table and set my camera to capture these images.
Francis Marion Minor signed this Bible on the inside cover,”FM Minor, February the third, 1861.” The Bible was an 1846 copy of the American Bible Society’s translation of both Old and New Testaments, which served as both holy book and family record, as was the custom of the time. Between the Old and the New Testament, on yellowed pages, are entries made in a tidy, tiny hand. The document begins with the marriage of Francis and Mary Jane:
- Francis Marion Minor and Mary Jane Gwynn were married on the fourth day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred fifty one.
A page of family births follows, and includes the dates for Francis’ parents:
- John P Minor was born on the seventh day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred ninety one.
- Isabella McClelland the second wife of John P was born on the thirtieth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred ninety two.
- Francis Marion Minor was born on the twenty third of November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred twenty eight.
- Mary Jane Gwynn wife of Francis Marion was born on the ninth day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred twenty nine.
- John P Minor son of Francis Marion and Mary Jane Minor was born on the eighteenth day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred fifty two.
- Olfred Minor son of Francis Marion and Mary Jane Minor was born on the twenty third of December in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred fifty five.
- Sarah Priscilla Minor daughter of Francis Marion and Mary Jane Minor was born on the twenty third of February in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred fifty eight.
- Leroy Minor son of Francis Marion and Mary Jane Minor was born on the fourth day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred sixty two.
- Robert Minor son of Francis Marion and Mary Jane Minor was born on the twenty ninth day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred sixty nine.
The death record begins with Francis’ mother:
- Isabella Minor wife of John P Minor departed this life on August the fourteenth day one thousand eight hundred sixty three.
- Leroy Minor son of Francis Marion and Mary Jane Minor departed this life the fifteenth day of April one thousand eight hundred sixty four.
- John P Minor father of Francis Marion departed this life the twelf day one thousand eight hundred seventy four.
- Mary Jane Minor wife of FM Minor departed this life March 30 1908 Age 78 five months and 21 days.
What a treasure this book remains!