A bride’s unhappy tale

The internet has been a boon to researchers. I knew, several years ago, that the library in Massillon Ohio had a dozen or so letters written from Horton Howard to another Quaker named Thomas Rotch. Thanks to improved cross-referencing of letters in their collection, I’ve recently found other letters that mention Horton Howard, and fill in some of the missing pieces of family history.

On July 20, 1821, Horton wrote to Thos Rotch:

Joseph is gone to accomplish his marriage with Pharaby Patterson daughter of Ansalem Patterson who lives just above George Kinsey on the Short Creek road, a respectable farmer who has only a son & Daughter. It is pretty much of a tryal to them to be so far separated from her but Joseph will not at present to be separated from his father and mother to whom he is very much attached so she has consented to come with him, my personal accquaintance with her has been but small but sufficient to be satisfied that she is of good moral Character, Inherits Industry and frugality from her Parents, and appears to be an amiable religious young woman about 20 (himself 22 years of age) she appears to be pretty well informed.  It is much approved of by the most respectable friends at Short Creek

When some of Horton’s other children married outside of the Society of Friends and had other troubles in their relationships with Horton, and their step-mother Hannah, this was such a welcome letter to find, and I looked forward to learning more about Joseph & Pharaby, their children, and life together. I’ve been disappointed that this was not to be – Pharaby disappeared with no mention. Others in the family named daughters after her, and after a gap of years, Joseph had a wife named Jennette. I could only assume that Pharaby had died, until I found another letter, today, in the Thomas & Charity Rotch Papers at the Massilon Public Library.

On October 22, 1821, Lewis Walker, another Quaker in Ohio, wrote to Thomas Rotch:

There is much sickness prevailing westward Elizabeth Patterson & her companion from still water were sick during time of Y Meeting as also was Isaac James from your quarter the complaint is said to be a bilious intermittant fever, Horton Howard did not attend the YM in consequence of the indisposition of Joseph’s wife. she deceased about the time our friends were at Delaware on their return. They had been married about 3 months perhaps, and are now separated. It is a great trial to her parents, who live here in our neighborhood. she being an only daughter – having but one child left.

A sad story, though not an unexpected one.


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