Showing posts with label Mary Slatter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mary Slatter. Show all posts

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Surname Saturday: Tracing the Sad Fate of Mary Shehen Slatter

Was my husband's great-grandma, Mary Shehen Slatter, committed to a London insane asylum in 1877 -- and did she die there in 1889?

Thanks to online records, a phone call, and the kindness of a cousin who lives in London, I'll soon know more about this ancestor's sad fate. This is part of my Genealogy Go-Over, filling in the blanks on the family tree.

I am fairly certain of Mary's birth date, thanks to marriage records, but not her death date nor her whereabouts after the 1871 UK Census, shown here. At that time, Mary and her husband John Slatter and their 5 children lived together in Tower Hamlets, Whitechapel, London--an area known for extreme poverty.

In December, I learned that Mary's 5 children had spent time in a notorious London workhouse.

Checking further, I discovered that a woman with the name of Mary Slatter had been committed to Banstead Asylum in September, 1877. Whether this is our Mary Slatter, I couldn't tell, but it was an intriguing and disturbing thought.

Women were committed to such asylums for a variety of reasons, not just in the 19th century but also well into the 20th century. Click to read what one genealogy researcher found out about her great-grandmother's time in Banstead, circa 1930s. But get out your hanky before you click.



Next, I did an online search and landed at the National Archives in Surrey, England, which has an entire page devoted to Banstead Asylum and Hospital, closed for years. At the very bottom is the statement: "...not clear whether these records are now at either London Metropolitan Archives or Surrey History Centre."

Time for a phone call to the Surrey History Centre. The gentleman who answered the phone listened to my question about where the asylum's records might be found and told me they were definitely at the London Metropolitan Archives. He even gave me the archive catalog code so I could quickly locate what I needed.

On the London Metro Archives site, I found lots and lots of files readily available to the public, subject to the 100 year rule that protects patient privacy. Oh, the archive has patients' records, organized by date and by gender. Also visitors' logs and some photos (possibly only of staff, but maybe I'll get lucky?). What a treasure trove. Only one catch: These files must be accessed in person.

I sent an email to my London cousin Anna, asking whether she would be willing to undertake a field trip to the archives on my behalf. Even though she has no relation to poor Mary Shehen Slatter, my wonderful cousin agreed to visit this spring, armed with what I know and what I want to know. Before the snow melts here in New England, I hope to confirm whether this is hubby's great-grandma Mary and clarify her fate.

Why is Mary Shehen Slatter in my thoughts? Because too often, women are much less visible in family history . . .  especially once they marry and their maiden names disappear from public records. I want to honor and respect the lives these women lived, give them dignity and help them be remembered as more than simply "the wife of" or "the mother of" when I share the family tree with their descendants.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Sepia Saturday: The Mysterious "Grandma" in Cleveland

On Sepia Saturday, I'm posting this colorful 1905 holiday postcard, another in the series sent to my husband's uncle (Wallis Walter Wood, 1905-1957) in Cleveland, Ohio, during the early 1900s. This card isn't just beautiful, it's informative and mysterious.


Informative because it provides yet another address for my hubby's grandparents, James Edgar Wood (1871-1939) and Mary Slatter Wood (1869-1925). I believe 7203 Duluth Street in Cleveland was the site of a home built by James, one of many he constructed "on spec" and then sold, moving on to build another house nearby.

Mysterious because the front has the greeting From "Grandma" and yet Wallis had no living grandparents at that point. So who was Grandma?

One clue: This pretty postcard was dropped into a mailbox early on the morning of Christmas Eve, as the postmark shows. None of Wallis's aunts (by blood or marriage) lived in the area, so they couldn't have sent this.

Another clue: Wallis's name is spelled correctly. That means his Aunt Rachel "Nellie" Wood Kirby (1864-1954) didn't send it. She never spelled his name correctly, in a decade or more of mailing him cards for every holiday, and this isn't her handwriting.

So my guess is this Sepia Saturday postcard was from an old family friend living nearby, or a close friend from church, or a more distant (older) relative who doted on toddler Wallis.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Timelines, Family Trees, and James & Mary's Wedding Day

My local genealogy club was lucky enough to recently host a talk by genealogy/history expert Laura Prescott. She spoke about "Timelines: Placing Your Heritage in Historical Perspective."

Among the many things I took away from that presentation was the idea of creating timelines to show my ancestors in the context of their family's events and local/national/international events. Laura mentioned free sites like xtimeline.com. (A wonderful find!)

She also mentioned that we have the ability to publish timelines, among other things, using Ancestry and the family tree data we've already posted. I'd never looked at that "Publish" button along the top row of the Ancestry home page. Pushing "publish" started me on the easy process of printing an 18 x 24 inch poster for my hubby's siblings, showing the four main families that correspond to each of their grandparents. (If you don't want to buy the tree poster, you can still print it free on your home printer--I did that too.)

Along the way, I enlisted hubby's help proofreading the family tree before we published the poster. He noticed I was missing an exact month and date for his grandpa's marriage.

In another browser window, I opened Family Search and quickly found an updated database of Ohio marriages. Info that wasn't indexed or digitized a year ago has been put online! (My lesson: Keep searching for those elusive ancestors or events--eventually new clues will present themselves.)

With just a couple of clicks, we now have the marriage document of James E. Wood of Toledo and his bride, Mary Slatter, who were married on 21 September 1898. All because we wanted to put together a family tree poster (see below).



The poster points up a glaring hole in the tree: We still don't know the parents of Mary Amanda Demarest. Cousin Larry has been on her trail for decades.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday: Edgar J. Wood's College Scrapbook

It's easy to get the impression that my late father-in-law, Edgar James Wood, majored in Broadway and music while at Tufts College (class of 1926). In fact, his major was economics, and although he attended for 4 years, he didn't graduate.

At least two full pages of Ed's college scrapbook are filled with ticket stubs like those above, with the name of the play and his companion(s), handwritten below. Ed was an avid theater-goer throughout life and passed that love to his children.

He also played in bands, sang with the glee club, and was a member of several music clubs at Tufts. Above is a letter advising him that he'd been selected to travel with the Tufts Musical Clubs from April 15-22, 1925. The clubs performed in Bristol, CT; Hartford, CT; Meriden, CT; New York City; Mt. Vernon, NY; and again in New York City, culminating in an appearance at the luxe Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

I'm certain that Ed took this trip--which would have returned him to Tufts just before his mother, Mary Slatter Wood, died on April 24, 1925, in Cleveland, OH. When my husband asked Ed about whether he returned home for Mary's funeral, Ed replied:


I think I was out playing a job, and came back to the dormitory, and a brother Zate [Zeta Psi, the fraternity] came to the dormitory and told me they'd gotten word that she had died. I think her health had been like [my wife] Mar­ian's, it had not been the best, so it wasn't a big surprise. I had no money, so I went to a guy by the name of _____, one of the professors of music, and a Zate also, and borrowed 50 bucks...Before the summer was over I paid it back. So I had to borrow money and take a train back to Cleveland for the funeral. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday Surprise: Grandpa Wood's 2d marriage

This morning I followed one of Ancestry's "hints" and discovered a relationship that nobody in the family even suspected: James Edgar Wood's second marriage to Alice Hopperton Unger, on 1 September 1926, in Cleveland, OH. James was hubby's paternal grandpa.

This is definitely the correct James E. Wood--all the details fit. His first wife, Mary Slatter Wood, had died on 24 April 1925. So who was Alice and how did they meet?

BTW, sometime later, James married a 3d time, to Caroline (Carey) Cragg, the mother-in-law of James's nephew, a match the family helped to arrange. The couple lived in Jackson, MI at the time of the 1930 Census.

Obviously I now have to find out what happened to Alice between 1926 and 1930. Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday's Obituary: Captain John D. Slatter

This week I connected with the granddaughter of Captain John D. Slatter! As mentioned earlier this month, Capt. Jack was (we now know) my husband's great-uncle. We plan to get acquainted with her and her brother, and exchange photos and info.

Her family knew nothing of my husband's grandmother, Capt. Slatter's sister Mary Slatter, who married James Edgar Wood in 1898 in Toledo, OH, and we knew nothing of her grandfather, an illustrious military bandleader.

A very kind genealogy angel in Canada looked up Capt. Jack's obit in the Globe & Mail of December 9, 1954 (he died on Dec 7). Here it is, complete with the names (not completely correct) of his survivors:

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sentimental Sunday: John Slatter Sr. Died in Cleveland

Thanks to the Cleveland Public Library's excellent necrology file, I found the above obituary for hubby's g-grandfather, John Slatter Sr. The source is not stated but is most likely the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

As I wrote earlier this month, I've been looking for his death record but alas, I found out that the Cuyahoga County probate court (Ohio) has nothing on him, and he's not in the statewide records either.

The nice folks at the probate court suggested that I contact the Cuyahoga County Archives. I e-mailed them on Friday and, if all goes well, I hope to hear by mid-August about whether Mr. Slatter is in their records.** Mr. Slatter was born in England, as was his daughter, Mary Slatter Wood, but their home towns are a mystery right now.

Apparently the probate court gets many inquiries from family researchers, because the officials were kind enough to send me a 22-pg guide to the genealogy resources available at the Cleveland Public Library and other local places. Thank you!

**Update: The Cuyahoga County Archives sent me a photocopy of the ledger book page where John Slatter's death is recorded, from August 12, 1901. No parents' names or hometown, sad to say, but a little new info: He was widowed at the time of his death, and retired. Cause of death was "hemorrhage of bowels" and his last illness had lasted for 6 mos. He was born in England, and his parents were born in England, if this record is accurate. He's buried in Woodland cemetery in Cleveland (see marker above).

Unfortunately, he's not among those listed in Woodland cemetery on Find-a-Grave. But by searching for John Slatter Woodland Cemetery Cleveland, I found the above record of burials in that cemetery, and there he is, along with the location of his grave. Also a mysterious notation "2/26/1895" that I've just discovered relates to "Louisa Slatter," a name that's new to me. She lived at 433 1/2 St. Clair when she died on Feb 26, 1895, ws 46, white, native of England, and died of Brights disease.

Still, I'm inching ahead on the Slatter line! 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Surname Saturday: Still Seeking the Slatters

Mary Slatter (born in England) married James Edgar Wood on September 21, 1898 in Lucas County, Ohio. Mary and Edgar are my husband's paternal grandparents. Mary's parents are, supposedly, John and Mary Slatter.

Grandma Mary Slatter's obit, dated April 26, 1925, mentions that she was the "sister of Mrs. James F. Baker, John, Albert and Harry Slatter of Canada."

I'm trying to trace Mary and her siblings. One of the artifacts that my late father-in-law had in his possession was this card showing the location of the grave of John Slatter.

No city is mentioned, but the "union stamp" at lower left mentions Cleveland, Ohio. Now all I have to do is look for the death cert of a John Slatter Sr. who died in Cleveland on Aug 12 and was buried on Aug 15, 1901 or look up all the cemeteries in the area that have sec. 75, tier 6, grave 2. According to the Cleveland Public Library, John died at the home of his daughter at 242 Lake Street, aged 65.

Next week I'm going to the local Family History Center for a little help and to use their World Ancestry to look for Mary and John. Meanwhile, I'm still seeking the Slatters who came from England and settled in Canada. Do you know any Slatter descendants looking to connect?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Talented Tuesday: James Edgar Wood, Cleveland Builder


James Edgar Wood, hubby's paternal grandfather, was a builder in Cleveland, Ohio. He would often build a home, move his family in as he finished the inside, and start on another home.

Once the next home was built, he'd sell the one he was living in and move to the newer home. My late father-in-law remembers living in a succession of homes as a child.

James built homes on Wood Road in Cleveland, named after him.

In photo at top left, you can just make out the sign that says "James E. Wood, Carpenter and Builder." That's him at the front gate, next to his wife, Mary Slatter Wood. I'm tracing the Slatters right now, as noted in yesterday's Military Monday posting.

Photo at bottom left probably shows two of James Edgar Wood's four sons standing in front of a house their father built, but since it's undated, we're not sure which two.