My great-great- grandmother Elizabeth Mary (Savoy) Thorpe Dean (1809-1886) is my choice to meet. Questions come to mind and I've listed many, but I think I would most like to know what qualities she possessed that were passed down to her children and beyond.
My great-grandmother Sarah (Thorpe) Hart was the youngest of Elizabeth's nine children and her father died just two months after her birth. My grandfather Lucian Hart, who was one of the younger children in his family, was not quite four when Elizabeth died. My mother was the youngest of Lucian's children and born seven years after her grandmother Sarah died. And, I was only six when my grandfather Hart died. The opportunity to hear stories directly from earlier generations in our family was limited. The few stories that have come to me raise lots of questions about “the rest of the story”.
What was it like to travel in the spring of 1838 from Friskney, Lincolnshire in England to Liverpool to New York City as a Steerage passenger on the Ship St. Laurance with three small children (8,4 and 1)? And, then to travel on to what was then the wilderness of Michigan?
Why did Elizabeth and her husband Thomas decide to leave England for Michigan in the United States in the first place? Did people who had already immigrated to the United States influence them?
John Thorpe, whom I believe to be Thomas' father, in 1837 was the first purchaser of 480 acres of land in Fenton Township, Genesee, Michigan. John appears with his stepson John Reeson on the passenger list of the St. Laurance with Thomas and Elizabeth's family . John Thorpe and John Reeson are returning to the United States. It appears John Thorpe was dabbling in land speculation just as the Panic of 1837 hit. How did this affect Elizabeth's family? And, please help me sort out these people!
Thomas Thorpe was head of a household on the Unites States Census taken at Fenton in 1840. Two people are engaged in “commerce”. Since their oldest child was only ten, the other person would appear to be Elizabeth. When she was widowed in 1850 and left with seven children at home, Elizabeth didn't remarry for another five years. Did she have some kind of occupation that helped her carry on? Elizabeth's children and their spouses had a variety of occupations and tended to live in towns and cities. Her daughter Mary Ann Savage had a bakery in Saginaw, Michigan after she was widowed and prior to that had been a seamstress. Had Elizabeth done something similar?
One story, that was passed on to me from a cousin who received it from the daughter of Elizabeth's oldest son John, is about Thomas death. He died suddenly in July of 1850. The family was living in Pontiac, Oakland, Michigan. Elizabeth had gone to Fenton about 24 miles away. She was returning to Pontiac driving an ox-cart when she was met with the news that her husband had died.
There are a number of questions that come to mind about this. Did women just go out on jaunts in their ox-carts? Was it a visit to relatives or something to do with business? Who was with her or was she alone? The story doesn't say. Not her husband or oldest son, as the story places them at Pontiac. Possibly some or all of the younger children (daughters 10 and 13, sons 7, 5 and 3) and where was her youngest child my great-grandmother Sarah? She was born 22 May 1850 so one would think she would have had to have been close by her mother.
Elizabeth also lived in the small town I grew up in later in her life. I wonder what Vernon was like almost a hundred years earlier? How many of my other relatives did she know (both sides of my family have ties there) and what were they like?