Ancestor Sketch – Mary (Washburn) Blanchard

Ancestor Sketch – Mary S. [A.[i]] Washburn

Blanchard/Utterstrom Project
Blanchard-Washburn Line

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Mary (Washburn) Blanchard had one of the saddest lives I’ve ever encountered. Her birth and childhood are unknown. She married a farmer so poor he needed supplies from the town to keep his family fed. Then her house burned, killing her husband and a daughter. She lived for five years after the fire and died at the age of 39.

Blanchard-Utterstrom Ancestor #17

List of Grandparents

  • Grandfather: Edward Everett Blanchard (1900-1971)
  • 1st Great-grandfather: Frederick W. Blanchard (1865-1917)
  • 2nd Great-grandmother:  Mary S. Washburn (1834-1973)

Mary S. Washburn (1834-1873)

Birth

Mary’s birth is still unknown. The 1860 Census indicates that she was 25 years old, suggesting she was born in Maine from 1834 to 1835.[ii] Her son’s death certificate indicates she was born in Cumberland, Maine.[iii] It isn’t clear if she was born in Cumberland County or Cumberland Town.

Marriage

Mary married Albion Blanchard in a ceremony performed by Edias Baker in Windham, Cumberland County, Maine, on 2 February 1957.[iv]

The couple had three children.

      1. 1858 – Charles A. F. Blanchard
      2. 1861 – Sarah L. Blanchard
      3. 1866 – Frederick W. Blanchard

Disaster – September 1868

It appears that on 7 September 1868, the home of Albion and Mary burned. Their daughter Sarah died in the fire. Mary’s husband, Albion, died two days later in what must have been two days of agony.[v]

Mary was destitute and became wholly supported by the Town. In 1870 she boarded with David Libby in Windham.[vi]

In 1871 she was in the Yarmouth Almshouse. Her sons, Charles and Frederick, were being boarded with their uncle, Charles Henry Blanchard, in Cumberland.

In early 1872, Mary was at A. M. Libby’s in Windham and then “left for parts unknown.” Her 16-year-old son, Charles, was working for board at D. Pittee’s in Cumberland. Little six-year-old Frederick remained with Charles H. Blanchard in Cumberland, where he remained until he was at least 16 years old.

Mary reappeared living in Saco, York County, Maine, in early 1873, with her son, Charles, where she died on 2 May 1873. She was 39 years old. After her death, Charles boarded with William M & Samuel Merrill and worked for his board.

Events by Location

  • Map showing places where Mary Washburn lived.

    Maine, Cumberland County, Cumberland – Birth (1934), 1860 Census.

  • Maine, Cumberland County, Windham – Marriage (1857), 1870, 1872.
  • Maine, Cumberland County, Yarmouth – 1871.
  • Maine, York County, Saco – Death (1873).

Mary appears to have lived her entire life between Yarmouth and Saco, Maine, a distance of fewer than 30 miles.

Further Actions / Follow-up

Research on Mary appears to have reached a brick wall.  Possibly visits to:

  • Saco for death records
  • Cumberland for Marriage and Poor Records
  • Cumberland County (Portland) for other birth records may yield results.

Sources

1.     1860 Census, Family Search, Albion Blanchard – Cumberland, Cumberland, Maine. “United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MDHK-XYB : 18 March 2020), Albion Blanchard, 1860. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MDHK-XYB?from=lynx1UIV8&treeref=M647-GD1.

2.     Town of Cumberland, Maine, Cumberland Pauper Book, Digital Maine, Blanchard [search]. https://digitalmaine.com/cumberland_books/5/.

3.     Maine Marriages, 1771-1907, Family Search, Albion Blanchard & Mary S. Washburn – 2 February 1857. “Maine Marriages, 1771-1907”, database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F4N3 PXT : 14 January 2020), Albion Blanchard, 1857. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F4N3-PXT.

4.     Maine, Death Records, 1617-1922, Ancestry, Fred [Frederick] W Blanchard (1866-1917). http://search.ancestry.com/search/collections/MaineDeathRe/1138416/printer-friendly?ssrc=pt&tid=10416014&pid=220072758160&usePUB=true.

Endnotes

[i] Occasionally, the town pauper records refer to Mary A. Blanchard which may be more accurate than the Mary S. Blanchard reported in her son’s death information.

[ii] See source #1 above.

[iii] See source #4 above.

[iv] See source #3 above.

[v] Bennett, Thomas C., Vital Records of Cumberland, Maine 1701-1892 (Prince Memorial Library), Digital Maine, Deaths – Page 180 – Deaths. http://digitalmaine.com/cumberland_books.

[vi] See Source #2 above.

Mary Washburn & the Early Censuses

Census Sunday

Blanchard Project
Blanchard-Washburn

In “Searching for Mary Washburn’s Parents,” I concluded the neither Cyrus Washburn’s daughter, Maria, nor James E. Washburn’s daughter, Mary, could be the Mary Washburn, who married Albion Blanchard.

Mary had one of the roughest lives of anyone I’ve ever researched. In 1868, when she was only 34 years old, her husband and only daughter, Sarah, died, and she became destitute. Left with a 10-year-old and a 2-year-old, the widow became wholly supported by the town. In the five years she had left, she lived in the Almshouse in Yarmouth and boarded with A. M. Libby in Windham for a short time. Finally, in 1873 her oldest son, 15-year-old Charles, joined her in Saco before her death.

The point of all this is that there was no family that could or would take her in; thus, she remained destitute and supported “wholly by the town.” With no family able or willing to take her and the kids in, it is possible that she had no family. That might explain why she didn’t appear in any census records for Cumberland during the 1850 Census. Her son, Frederick, died in 1917. His death record indicates that his mother, Mary, was born in Cumberland. Not finding her in the 1850 Census, I wondered if she may be in the 1840 Census.

Using the criteria of the last name of “Washburn” and residing in “Cumberland County” during the 1840 Census, there were six results.

  • James E. Washburn – Determined not to be Mary’s father previously.
  • Cyrus Washburn –Determined not to be Mary’s father previously.
  • Otis Washburn – Determined not to be Mary’s father previously.
  • Marshall Washburn – Had no females living in his household under 20.
  • Charles Washburn –Had no females living in his household under 10.
  • Isaac C. Washburn – Had three males and four females living in his household. He was likely the one male between 20 and 30. The two other males were 15 to 20, and of the females, two were from 20 to 30, one was 10 to 15, but one was under 5. I thought, “Maybe.” But, further research was necessary.
Isaac C Washburn in the 1840 Census.

Sadly, further research suggests that Isaac C. Washburn isn’t Mary’s father either.

Isaac married Cynthia W. Stevens in 1837, a few years after Mary was born. Additionally, the female under five years of age is likely Cynthia, a 10-year-old (apparent) daughter in the 1850 Census. So. I’m confident that Isaac is not Mary’s parent either.

Conclusion

I think I’ve encountered a brick wall with Mary, at least as far as my online research is concerned. I think maybe a deep dive into town records might yield some additional information. Possibly, some newspaper will have an article that will tell me more.

Searching for Mary Washburn’s Parents

Blanchard Project
Blanchard-Washburn

As I embark on learning more about the life of Mary (Washburn) Blanchard, I start with what I know.  Mary married Albion Blanchard on 2 February 1857 in Windham, Cumberland County, Maine. The 1860 Census reported her as 25 years old, suggesting a birth year of 1834 or 1835. The Blanchard’s were living in Cumberland, Cumberland County, Maine, then. I have been unable to determine her parents.

Based upon the 1850 Census, some researchers have suggested her parents were James and Martha (Briggs) Washburn and lived in Minot, Cumberland County, Maine. It seems possible except for two items. First, the age is a bit off. That girl is only 11, instead of 15. Second, she appears in the same family during the 1860 Census when my Mary Washburn was married and enumerated with her husband, Albion, in Cumberland.

So, my question is, what other Washburns were in Cumberland County during the 1850s and could my Mary be one of them.

1850 Census

A review of the 1850 Census found 30 Results in 7 groups.

  1. Cyrus Washburn household with an apparent wife and five children.[i]            Nancy (wife), Cyrus (18), Elizabeth (24), Maria (16), Samuel (12), and Abba (age 9).
  2. James E. Washburn household with wife, four apparent children, and apparently his parents. The children were Mary (11), Martha (9), Nancy (7), and Elisabeth (age 1).
  3. Otis Washburn household with apparent wife Rachel and six children – Lorenzo (21), Emily (19), Ebenezer (16), Caroline (14), Sidney (12), and Matilda (age 7).
  4. Charles Washburn with apparent wife Elizabeth and two children. The children were Maria (1) and Charles (2).
  5. Sylvia Washburn, apparent mother-in-law living with George Warren.
  6. Elizabeth Washburn, an apparent lodger in Dorothy Clark’s home in Portland.
  7. George Washburn, an apparent lodger in Francis Blake’s home in Harrison.

Mary, age 11, in James Washburn’s household and Maria, age 16, in Cyrus Washburn’s home are the only candidates I see in the 1850 Census that could be Mary Washburn, the wife of Albion Blanchard living in Cumberland County in 1850.

Note: Androscoggin County was created in 1854 from towns originally in Cumberland County, Lincoln County, Kennebec County, and Oxford County. So, although they were in Cumberland County in 1850, they were in Androscoggin County after 1854 without moving. [ii]

In the 1860 Census, Cyrus is still with Nancy, Samuel, and Abby. Maria is not in the household.

Again, in the 1860 Census, James’s household includes his apparent wife, Martha, and children, including 21-year-old Mary.

It appears that Otis may have passed because Lorenzo is living in Falmouth with his apparent sisters Caroline and Matilda.

From this, I’m reasonably sure that Mary S. (Washburn) Blanchard is not James and Martha (Briggs) Washburn. Instead, I suspect Mary S. (Washburn) Blanchard is the daughter of Cyrus and Nancy Washburn. With that theory in hand, I need to find evidence supporting the theory and determine Mary’s parents.

Next, I’ll look at Cyrus Washburn and his apparent family of 1850 and follow Cyrus and his children in hopes of finding his daughter, Maria, is my Mary, the wife of Albion Blanchard.

UPDATE

I took a closer look at Cyrus Washburn and his daughter, Maria.  Marie Married Noble Munroe in 1856 and was in Auburn during the 1860 Census, so this Maria cannot be my Mary Washburn, married to Albion Blanchard in 1860.


Endnotes

[i] The 1850 Census did not provide relationships between people in a household, so any relationships cited are apparent and speculative if based upon the 1850 Census only.

[ii] Wikipedia: “Androscoggin County, Maine” accessed 23 January 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Androscoggin_County,_Maine