Maria was born in Bloomfield, Maine.
She was raised by her grandmother (what happened to her parents?).
She married Sylvester on February 15, 1852, in Amesbury, Massachusetts.
In 1860 they were living in East Kingston, NH.
Sylvester was killed in the Civil War just 10 years after their marriage.
There is some scandal associated with Maria after Sylvester's death. It appears that she abandoned her five young children and was "living in sin" with a man named Dr. Henry Tripp down in Providence, Rhode Island.
There is ample evidence for this scandal. The 1870 census has the children separated and working as farm hands for various families in NH. The 37-year-old Maria E. Bartlett is living in Providence in the household of a wealthy stone mason and his wife. Presumably she's a servant because there is another servant listed above her.
The story of Maria's pension is most damning. Becky Syphers has all these papers.
Since June 1863 she had been receiving an $8/month pension from the government as Sylvester's widow. These pensions are payable to the widow "for life, unless she shall again marry, in which case the pension is not payable after the date of such marriage."
But she let it lapse in September 1879 and didn't collect for three years. In 1883, the 52-year-old sought to have the pension restored and went through an extensive application process with the help of an attorney in Providence.
She certified that she had not remarried. Her explanation was that she had been able to work for her living and thought she "would let her pension accumulate till it amounted to a few hundred dollars when I could get me a small house."
On September 11, 1884, a certain James H. Howard of Boston wrote to the pension office to inquire "whether a lady keeping house for a man becomes as intimate as to live together for three or four years as man and wife, and then separates, deprives her of her pension."
A supervising examiner discovered that the letter from "James H. Howard" was a fictious signature and it came from the address of a physician, Dr. H. J. Tripp. He had moved from Providence to Boston.
Tripp admitted writing the letter. He testified that she was living with him as a housekeeper but they "cohabitated as man and wife" and that "Tripp left her July 1883." He claimed he wrote under an assumed name on behalf of the widow to help her settle the question about cohabitation invalidating a pension, since it had ceased and there was a possibility she was still entitled to it.
In 1885, Maria had an a 18-year-old, Addie Thompson, testify that he had known her for five years and that it was "well known that she had not remarried."
The case was referred to a special examiner, who called Dr. Tripp into his office to "determine whether claimant and Dr. H. J. Tripp lived together as man and wife."
According to the examiner, "He called at the office and gave his testimony without any hesitancy when told why I wished to see him." The application was rejected.
There is also a family rumor here. Becky Syphers said, "My mother said that her grandfather whispered -- this is third hand already, so go figure on accuracy -- Maria ran off with another man and left her four children behind."
It is uncertain when or where she died. It was probably in Newton or E. Kingston, New Hampshire.
Added by Becky Syphers:
What I have to say in Maria's defense - even with prices in the 1860's, I can't imagine how someone could provide food, clothes and a house for four boys. Maria had no immediate living family. She doesn't seem to have dumped than in an orphanage, but left them with famlies in the neighborhood of their Bartlett Grandparents. Stephen was living with a family and attending school in 1870. (per 1870 federal census for Andover, New Hanmpshire)
The 1880 census has a Henry Tripp living with his wife Maria in Providence but the ages don't match up.
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