Monday, April 16, 2012

Jabez Burns McPherson, B. 1847, NYC-D.1924, Bethel, VT

Recently I have posted about the  Housel family in Springdale, and then about the Sad and Untimely Death of Mary McPherson and both stories relate to Jabez, the third son of James P. and Mary B. McPherson. Nevertheless, Jabez remains somewhat of a mystery to me.

He was born in NYC on August 12, 1847, five years after the J.P. and Mary stepped foot off the sailing ship Medora and onto the soil of their new land.  By the time, Jabez was two years old, his mother, pregnant with the first sister of the three boys, was busy helping J. P. plan for their trek westward to Wisconsin.The first winter, when a cold windy storm took off a good portion of the thatched roof to their new log house, Jabez was just over three years old, and with a baby sister now at his mother's breast.  His father's diary provides an insight into how the family lived and how the farm grew.  There are very few times that J.P. mentions his boys, or girls, by name until the boys reach a working age.  He does mention a few times when he makes clothes for the boys. The first winter of 1850-51, he mentions that he "mends the children's clothes.:  In 1852, the November 27th entry, reads  "Making pants for Jabez,"  who was then 5 years old.  In fact, up through the late 1850s,  J.P. is careful to note for whom he makes clothing, including the boys and himself.Most of the time, he refers to them as "the boys,"  By the time the boys turn 10 or so, J.P. sometimes mentions them by name and the job they are doing, and for whom.

As Billy, the oldest son, begins to move out and onto his own, and finally marries Rozetta Miles, James and Jabez take over more and more of the farming.  In 1872, these two brothers marry;  James Burns McPherson marries Henrietta Elizabeth Ireland*; Jabez Burns McPherson marries Mary M Housel.
Jabez and Mary are in Dodgeville, Iowa County, Wisconsin at the time of the 1880 Federal Census.  They are listed with their two oldest children,  Jabez, age 6, and Margaret, age3.  Jabez reports working in a grist mill.Of course, there is no 1890 Federal Census, but Mary dies after the birth of her 6th child, on July 20, 1891. Understandably, not much was said about Jabez in the obituary, except that he was left to mourn her death, a "beloved companion who has borne the joys and sorrows for so many long years together ..."  His McPherson family does show up in love and support of Jabez; In attendance are his parents, brother James and his wife coming from Verona; younger sisters, Mary Jane Blair coming from Brooklyn, Wisconsin, and Emma Ireland and Maggie (Margaret) Burmeister from Madison.

A sad time, and sometimes I mull over sad stories.  I mulled over this one -- until I realized what was bothering me.  What happened to the children and Jabez.  At the time of Mary's death, Jabez was 42; young Jabez,19; Maggie May,14; William Phillip, 10; LeRoy, 8; Furman, 5; and baby James Berdetta who died four months after his mother.  The children all marry and can be followed in later census reports, but there is no indication of what happens to them between the death of their mother and 1900or so.

After his wife's death, Jabez Burns McPherson seems to be rather alone, as he is found as a boarder in the 1900 & 1910 Federal Census Reports and also in the 1905 Wisconsin Census..  He dies in the Winan Hall Sanatorium, in Bethel, Vermont, April 7, 1924, but there is no indication if he had family in the area.

Also, in the 1900 Federal Census, Fermon McPherson, age 14, is listed as a boarder with  David and Rose Jones  of Dodgeville.

The family linkage seems to disappear in this family after Mary's death, but it would be nice to find that this was not the case.  Perhaps, some descendant of Jabez Burns McPherson, son of my great-great grandparents James P. and Mary B. McPherson, will contact me with family stories.   I love to see those old family links restored, stories told with love and laughter  --- it would be nice if this turned out to be so.

[*Henrietta Ireland's mother, also named Henrietta,  was the daughter of  Mary Campbell and Henry Kempfer.  Their youngest daughter  was born in Quebec and after the death of her father and was named Henrietta in his honor.  The girl Henrietta Kempfer married Septimus Ireland and moved to Springdale.   Their daughter Henrietta Elizabeth Ireland.who was also called Libby, Lizzie, and perhaps Hattie,  married James Burns McPherson, and they were my great grandparents.
Henrietta Elizabeth Ireland McPherson's grandmother , Mary Campbell Kempfer  married John Foye and came to Springdale.  They had six children; Mary, Aprinda, Winthrop, Steven, Alonzo, and Milton. Alonzo Foye married Anne Adamson McPherson, sister of James Burns McPherson, and this is how the interweaving of Foye's and Ireland's occurred in my great-grandfather's time.]

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 © Joan Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications


  1. Joan, what I particularly like about these stories is the inter-connectedness of families. Poor Jabez having to live as a boarder.

    1. Jabez and his family have always left me in a quandary. Perhaps, this is because I have no direct contact with his family --- just sad little bits on history that I gleaned from newspaper articles and the loneliness that I feel when I see that for at least twenty years Jabez was a boarder-- and not with family. More questions than answers.