Monday, January 21, 2013

Looking For Lenora - Part 5

For the time being, this will be the final part of my research theme entitled "Looking For Lenora." (Hold the applause, please)!  I'm not saying that more data will never be forthcoming.  I imagine I can find more facts to add to the profile I've put together so far.  I'm just saying that, for now at least, I think I've developed a somewhat comprehensive profile of Lenora Webber, my maternal grandmother's oldest sister, and I think it's time to move on to other subjects.  No research like this is ever fully completed. Most attempts to reconstruct an ancestor's life are continuously works in progress. So it is in this case.  I'm going to let the file evolve into a "cold case" and let it rest on the shelf for awhile.  Unlike the cold cases in TV police dramas, this doesn't mean all the mysteries of Lenora Webber's life are unsolved.  Far from it.  It just means that whatever data has been accumulated will be put to the side for now with the hopes that I can return at some later time.  That's what happened with my research on Lenora's (and my grandmother's) youngest brother, Rollin Webber.  I returned to his profile from time to time to see if anything new had developed from my original research. And when I visited his headstone in the historic Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC I was able to reopen my files and add information to his profile. I hope I can find similar success with Lenora's history. But for now, the data below is what I have accumulated on Lenora's life.

I will be forever indebted to my maternal grandmother, Florence Huldah (Webber) Currier, for the genealogy research she started years before I was even born.  I never knew of her interest in family history until long after she passed away and, of course, she would never know of mine. But her input along with her daughters Alice and Emma (my mother) have given me a wide base of information about our ancestors from the Webber and Currier branches of my family tree.  In some cases their simply saving newspaper clippings and guest registers has contributed a huge amount of source info that has helped my research. Included among these was my grandmother's memoirs describing her life events and feelings covering from her childhood in the 1870's up to her marriage at the age of 36 in 1905.  My initial search for Lenora was inspired by my grandmother's narrative.

Grandma Currier's memoirs started my research rolling by listing the names of her siblings and she even listed them in chronological order by date of birth. Lenora was listed first (highlighted here in yellow) as the oldest and Rollin, the youngest was the last one in her tally.

The newspaper clipping posted beneath the excerpt from the memoirs is a listing of attendees at my grandmother's silver wedding anniversary. This short article was published in 1930, twenty five years after her 1905 marriage. Lenore (sic) spelled with an "e" and listing her married name (Lebroke) and residence (North Waterford, Maine) are jumping out at me almost begging me to start filling in the blanks my grandmother handed to me on a silver platter!

The first area I wanted to look at to compare with the information in Grandma Currier's writing was the Federal Census in 1870 for the town of Oxford in Oxford County, Maine.

The enumerator completing this record appears to have thought the Webber surname was "Wilber." Or may have just not been able to spell very well. Nevertheless, Samuel Webber, age 54 is listed with his wife Delora (age 26) followed by their children Lenora (7), Samuel (5), Anna (3), and Huldah F., age 1. The youngest was my grandmother, Florence Huldah Webber but I don't know if the reversal of her first and middle names was an enumerator mistake or if she simply reversed the order at a later time. But there they were in the age order listed by the memoirs as long as we assume the "Anna" listed on the record is one and the same as the "Minnie" described by my grandmother.

The other newspaper clipping I found interesting cited an unnamed niece living in North Waterford, Maine in 1926. This article is the obituary for my grandmother's aunt, Laura Webber, who passed away at 96 years of age while living in my grandmother's home in New Hampshire. I'm pretty sure the niece to whom the cremated remains were sent would have been Lenora. Interesting wording on this if you can enlarge to read it.

My next avenue of search was to find the 1880 Federal Census for Oxford, Maine.  My grandmother was still there and still listed as "Hulda."  And Rollin, the baby of the family, has now been added to the picture at 4 months old. The father, Samuel Ames Webber is listed and not listed  but allow me to explain. The date of the census record is June 3rd. Samuel died in May. So his name is listed on the record but then a horizontal line has been drawn through it, I assume to account for the head of the household passing away.  A rather unorthodox method of recording and then updating a census record I'm thinking. Nevertheless, no sign of Lenora. Born in 1863 the seventeen year old Lenora very well might have moved out for employment or maybe even gotten married. I was unable to pin down her location in the year 1880.  So at this point I reversed my attention back to the Lenora Lebroke cited in the 1930 newspaper clipping to see if I could work backwards chronologically to find her. I did that backward search as described in "Looking For Lenora - Parts 1 to 4."  That type of detective investigation is one of the things that makes genealogy research interesting. But that doesn't mean anyone else reading this post has to follow every one of my steps and look under the same rocks I did to create a profile of Lenora. I'm just going to move on with a description of what I think we know about her life in a chronological order going forward from the 1880 Federal Census record where her name is missing from the list of the Webber family.

I cannot find a record of Lenora in 1880. Not directly anyway. But I was the fortunate recipient of information on Lenora's first husband and their child. The information came to me from another descendant of the Webber family who has her own tree on  In an exchange of seasons greetings I mentioned my current search for Lenora and my very distant and generous cousin did some legwork for me and found the name of Lenora's first husband, Austin Grover and a son, John Austin Grover born in 1881. (I'm very grateful, Carol)!!! But I can't find a record of the Grover marriage nor can I find them together on any Federal Census records. But with the birth of John Austin in 1881 I'm going to guess that Lenora and Austin were married about 1880. In the 1900 and 1910 census records I found Lenora living with her second husband and on both records, a boarder named Ernest Grover resided with them.  Ernest, as it turns out was another son of Lenora and Austin, born in 1884. I also know from the 1900 census that Lenora had birthed three children but in 1900 only two were living.  So far I have no more information on who that third child was. But even without census records or marriage records proving Lenora's first marriage to Austin Grover, I found proof of their parenthood from the marriage records of her two sons.

John Austin Grover's record of marriage to Ella Francis Stevens in 1905 is a two sided document with the reverse side notated with father and mother info on both groom and bride. John Austin is recorded as the son of Austin Grover and Lenora Webber.

Ernest Grover's record of marriage in 1920 to Nona Allen duplicates the groom parental information noted on the record of his brother fifteen years earlier. For research purposes, it's fortunate for me that these records listed the mother of both grooms by her maiden name, Webber. The same info on the brides' parents just helps expand my tree with source information.

There are no 1890 Federal Census records available to pinpoint the status of Lenora and her first husband, Austin Grover. Sadly, these records (or nearly all of them, anyway) were destroyed in a fire in Washington, DC in 1921. But there is a record of Lenora on file with the town of Albany, Maine that shows her whereabouts in 1890. It is a "Copy Of An Old Record Of A Marriage" showing Lenora's marriage, as Mrs Lenora E Grover to George W Abbott on September 27, 1890.  Not nearly as forthcoming as a census record might have been but good info nevertheless. A copy of this 1890 record was posted with my Part 4 posting on Lenora.

For the next three decades Lenora is listed on the Federal Census records residing as the wife of George W Abbott. In 1900 and 1910 they lived in Albany, Maine and George listed his occupation as farmer.  There was no entry in the occupation block of the record for Lenora, presumably proof that she maintained the housekeeping duties. On a farm those duties could be extensive for the wife of a farmer. In 1900 also residing in the home were George's mother, Beulah Abbott (a widow) and as mentioned earlier, Ernest Grover listed as a boarder. Since relationship to the head of the household was the base for occupants' description I am assuming that George never adopted Ernest. If he had done so Ernest should have been listed as a step son. Ernest was listed with the occupation of "farm hand" so perhaps the relationship of "boarder" was just the simplest way of explaining why the fifteen year old boy was residing in the home. In 1910 Ernest was still with his mother and George Abbott but Beulah was no longer with them having passed away in 1902.

In 1920 George Abbott and Lenora show up as husband and wife but by this time they have relocated to a different town, Waterford, Maine.  Moreover, both of them are recorded with occupation as "none."  This possibly could mean George had retired from farming?  And perhaps relocating was a result of poor health?  George was only 59 years old when this census was recorded in January, 1920. A farmer's life is no easy life and the work may have taken its toll on George. Whatever the circumstances for the move, George passed away that year in May.  The record of death indicates he had been a resident of Waterford for three years. And this record of his death from heart disease was noted that he had suffered from the illness for two years. That record is pictured below along with a photo of his headstone.

One thing I found interesting about this record is while the information regarding his parents' names and places of birth are filled out in detail, the form has no place to designate the name of his widow. It allows for recording "wife of" or "widow of" info but nothing to indicate spousal info except a one letter notation of married, single, widowed, or divorced.

George Abbott is buried in Hunts Corner Cemetery in Albany, Maine near his parents. There are no records that I can find to indicate that George ever had another wife besides Lenora nor did he father any children.

In my Part 3 posting of my search for Lenora I described the documents and research of Lenora Abbott's marriage to Ezra Lebroke.  This marriage, Lenora's third (and Ezra's third, too) took place on April 7, 1923.  This was the marriage certificate I attempted to obtain through a third party record service but failed because I could not document my relationship to Lenora.  Maybe I should send them a copy of this posting to prove that Lenora was my grand aunt! Their boredom would be my revenge for having doors slammed in my face during my investigation. And charging me $12.95 for a non-refundable processing fee, too!! But I probably should have been a little more patient because, as it turned out, I didn't need the document anyway. So there's no one to blame but my self. Duh. Time to move on. Which brought the research along to the Federal Census Records for 1930 and 1940. The 1930 record generated the first hint I came across suggesting multiple marriages for the Lebrokes. But other than that little avenue of interest to investigate both records were unremarkable except to provide evidence of an elderly couple residing in Waterford Town Maine. The 1940 record was the only one that gave a little more detail of location with a note in the left hand column that the households listed were on "Route 118 in N. Waterford."  In comparing the two records I'm unable to say for sure whether Lenora and Ezra lived in the same place in 1940 that they did in 1930. One question on the later record asks if they are living in the same state as 1935 and their response is that they were. But the 1930 census records Ezra's occupation as "farmer" and also indicates that they lived on a farm that they owned.  In 1940 they are recorded as being renters, not living on a farm, and Ezra has no occupation and no longer works.  Not surprising that he wouldn't be working at the age of 86 I suppose. He also shows earning no income but does have income from "other sources."  Perhaps he sold the farm he owned in 1930 and used proceeds from the sale to generate income? I have no way of knowing but will pursue at a later date with land records to see what I might be able to find.

In Part 3 I described finding Ezra's headstone on the website, but no record of burial for Lenora.  That website consists of burial records and headstone photos contributed by volunteers. As a result, finding someone's burial info can sometimes be hit or miss. I kept striking out on finding anything on Lenora with all the surnames I knew she had: Webber, Grover, Abbott, and Lebroke. I visited the Webber family graveyard in Oxford, Maine a couple of years ago and photographed all the stones in the Webber section. But I never thought to look for other surnames while I was there so now I started to wonder if she was with the Webber family but interred nearby with another surname. In the meantime a surfing expedition on the website for the Grover name revealed a headstone for Lenora's son, Ernest Grover that caught my eye. And lo and behold on the very same stone was the name of Ernest's mother, Lenora E Lebroke.

Lenora is buried with her son Ernest in Woodlawn Cemetery in North Waterford, Maine.  The photo provided on the website is interesting because it appears the engraving below Ernest's name appears to have been added later than the original stone, almost as an afterthought. Lenora's year of death, 1950 is the same as that of her third husband, Ezra who died September 1st that year. I don't know if she preceded him or not.

It's clear that Lenora Webber, Grover, Abbott, Lebroke was a farmer's wife three times over as all three of her husbands were labeled as farmers on Federal Census records. With the majority of citizens living and working on farms a century ago, oftentimes couples were joined in marriage for practical considerations centered on operating the farm. We can hope they found happiness and perhaps even love in their marriages but there were never any columns for that category on the census forms. So I don't know if Lenora enjoyed happy marriages or not.  I think marriage considerations centered on utility more than on romance for most of rural America as it passed from the nineteenth into the twentieth century.  While I can only guess the emotional factors of Lenora's life I think I can make an educated guess about some parts of her character. Her marriage to Austin Grover I've estimated to have been ten years or less in duration and according to Lenora she bore three children with the man who was at least 25 years her senior.  Her marriage to George Abbott endured 30 years before he died. And her marriage to her last husband, Ezra Lebroke, lasted over twenty seven years. Happy? I don't know but the record indicates she chose the companionship of a husband over living alone. And the last two marriages both endured for many years. Her sister Florence made the same choice. Although only married once, Florence married in her mid thirties and according to her memoirs, "My last patient (she was a nurse) was an old maid and I decided then and there I would not be an old maid, so I married..." Perhaps the two sisters were of like mind when it came to matrimony. Family seems to have been important to Lenora as evidenced by her attendance at Florence's 1905 wedding in Fitchburg, Ma and her silver anniversary in Alstead, NH, both trips requiring travel close to 200 miles from Oxford County, Maine. I choose to believe Lenora was comfortable with her marriages. But that's about all I can offer regarding her personal life. 

I think I've found a photograph of Lenora.  From some family photographs of headstones located in the Webber Cemetery in Oxford, Maine I came across the one below depicting an older woman standing behind the gravestone shared by Sarah and Laura Webber. Laura Webber is the one and same Laura who died in 1926 at my grandmother's home and whose remains were sent to a niece in North Waterford, Maine. The photograph is printed with the developed date: July 12, 1940. If the woman shown here is indeed Lenora, she would have been 77 years old. Looks pretty close to me.

Webber Cemetery, Oxford, Maine - 1940
I see some features in her face that are similar to her sister, Florence, but I don't think it's my grandmother in the photo. I could be wrong but I think it's a good possibility that this was Lenora.  And with that I'm done looking for Lenora, at least for now. I've enjoyed trying to learn about her and her life. But there are lots more ancestors I want to look for.  So to that end, my search goes on.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Looking For Lenora - Part 4

Utilizing the surname "Abbott" on Lenora's 1923 marriage to Ezra Lebroke has revealed the strong possibility that her previous marriage was to a George W Abbott. That opened up a number of census records that seems to show Lenora sharing a household with George in 1900, 1910, and 1920. Moreover, a Maine marriage record indicates Lenora and George were married on September 27, 1890. Armed with this data, my profile page for Lenora has grown considerably from the page I posted on Looking For Lenora - Part 1.  The newer expanded page is shown below:

Lenora (Webber) Abbott - profile page on

So it appears we've made progress in looking for Lenora. But progress in this case comes with puzzles attached.  The 1890 marriage record is not for Lenora Webber. Rather, the bride is listed as Lenora GROVER! So is this Lenora nee Webber or another Lenora? Could Lenora Webber have been married three (or more) times?  I've tried to cover my butt on the 1890 marriage entry with the notation, "This fact and two sources need further investigation."  The two sources are the 1890 marriage record of Lenora Grover and the 1900 Federal Census records that appears to be Lenora but the handwritten entry lists her name as "Lemarice."  Here's a copy of the marriage record:

Obviously, more research has to be done to help on my search for Lenora. And to that end my search goes on.