Monday, September 16, 2013

1869 Letter from George Webster Cushman at Skowhegan, Maine, to his parents at Winslow, Maine

23 February 1868 letter sent by George Webster Cushman while he was working at or near Skowhegan, Maine, to his parents, Charles and Jane (Hayden) Cushman at Winslow, Maine.

This letter came to me with two others that George wrote to his parents: [click on the date] and a letter that George's cousin, James Walker Austin, wrote to George in 1869:

  • May 13, 1867 - a letter which details George's loneliness at leaving home and recounts a fire at a skate factory in which several women were burned, including one fatally.
  • February 23, 1868 - a lengthy letter describing how he managed to save the shop during a fire that destroyed several other buildings; the letter seemed to be seeking peace with his parents after what apparently was a rift that caused him to move away, though he indicates that he feels the fault was not his. 
  • September 21, 1869 - from James Walker Austin at Roxbury, Massachusetts, to cousin George Webster Cushman at Winslow, Maine

This letter tells George's parents of his recent marriage and to expect a visit from the newly married couple.


Skowhegan, June 11th 1869
Dear Mother
As I did not have a chance to tell you all that I wished the other day, will now occupy the few leisure moments which I now have in so doing. I am no longer a single man. We were married Saturday eve. We had no one at the wedding beside Lucy’s folks except Mr. Stinchfield and wife. I shall be at home tomorrow unless it should be stormy or very muddy. We shall come down with a private team so shall not probably be down until afternoon.

We are boarding at Mr. Stinchfield’s. The family are all well. Please excuse all mistakes.
From your Son,
Geo. W. Cushman

From online research, hopefully correct: [corrections and additions welcome!]

George Webster Cushman was born 9 March 1838 at Winslow, Maine, the son of Charles and Jane (Hayden) Cushman.  From what I could tell, George's paternal grandparents were Joshua and Lucy (Jones) Cushman, and his maternal grandparents were Charles and Mary Polly (Howard) Hayden.

As another of the letters implies, George married Lucy Jane Ireland on 5 June 1869 in Somerset County, Maine, presumably at Skowhegan or in that area.

Lucy Jane Ireland was born 27 April 1840 at Chester, Maine, the daughter of Eleazer Colburn Ireland and Rhoda B. (possibly Wyman) Ireland. The family subsequently moved to the Skowhegan area where presumably George and Lucy would eventually meet.
The couple had at least two children, sons Alvin W. Cushman and Robert Hayden Cushman.

Interestingly, Alvin was living at Canon City, Colorado at the time of the 1900 Census. His maternal grandparents, Eleazer Coburn Ireland and wife Rhoda and at least two of their sons had moved from Skowhegan to Canon City at some point after the 1880 Census. Eleazer Coburn Ireland and Rhoda died in Fremont County, Colorado in the 1890s.

The 1910 Census of Bingham Canyon, Utah, finds Charles with wife Katie and a son and a daughter, the older of whom, Richard, has the surname Hodgins; he may have been Katie's child from a previous marriage. Katie was Catherine Farrell, born in Belfast, Northern Ireland about 1877. Charles and Katie moved back to Winslow, Maine, not long after that Census enumeration; they would have one more child, a son George.

Joseph Hodgins apparently took Charles' surname at some point; he stayed in Utah and died there in 1970.

The other son of George Webster Cushman and Lucy Jane (Ireland) Cushman, Robert Hayden Cushman married Marie Josephine Fecteau, daughter of Philmon and Amanda (Grenier) Fecteau. Marie Josephine was born at Beauceville, Quebec about 1896. They had at least one child, a daughter Ruth Gertrude Cushman.

I found an online source detailing the Skowhegan area people and families who left Skowhegan for other areas. Lucy's father and two of her brothers are mentioned: Coburn, Alvin (for whom her son was named) and Charles. Brother Prentice also went west but is not mentioned.

A Colorado Ireland relative has graciously forwarded the image of a clipping that indicated that Lucy Jane (Ireland) Cushman had visited her brothers in Ula, Colorado in 1886.

She also provided images of tintypes of Lucy's brothers Prentice Floyd Ireland and Charles Judson Ireland.

Prentice Floyd Ireland was born about 1845 in Maine, and married Mary Frances Presho, daughter of William and Mary (Collins) Presho, in Lancaster County, Nebraska, on 21 September 1877.

Prentice Floyd Ireland

I believe Prentice and Mary Frances had three children; son Rupert died at about age eleven and another daughter may have died in infancy. Daughter Pearl Queen Ireland, born 23 October 1880 in McGregor, Iowa, survived to adulthood. Pearl's own writings give her birth date as 27 October 1880.

Prentice died about 1888 in Colorado, possibly in the Wet Mountain area. His modern day family members have searched in vain for his resting place.

Charles Judson Ireland

Charles Judson Ireland was born about 1851 at Skowhegan, Maine and went west to Colorado with his brothers. While there, he married Hattie, with whom he had three children: David Elton Ireland, born 1 September 1881 in Colorado; Lucy Ireland and Bessie Ireland.

Charles was single and working as a ranchman in the 1880 Census of Wet Mountain Valley, Colorado, so his marriage to Hattie, who was born in Nebraska, according to Census records, must have occurred very soon after that enumeration.

Hattie had apparently died or moved away before the time of the enumeration of the 1900 Census of Fort Garland, Colorado, where Charles was living with his three children. I haven't been able to find anything about her, other than from the 1885 Colorado Census in which she indicated that she was born about 1865 in Michigan and that her father was from England and her mother from Wales.

On 8 December 1909 at Winslow, Maine, Charles married Alice Belle Files, daughter of George W. Files and Helen (Smiley) Files. Alice was born about 1860 at Wales, Maine. According to their marriage record, Charles was then living in New Mexico and working as a lumber dealer.

If you have corrections or additions to the information above, please leave a comment or contact me directly. Thanks!

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