Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday is for Mothers: Hannah M. Leonard and her Mother, Jemima White

Here is a portrait of my great great great grandparents, Porter Worden and Hannah M. Leonard; the earliest of my ancestors that I've seen a photograph of. Both of them were born in New York State in the second decade of the 19th century, where they got married in 1838. It was most likely taken in Iowa, where they moved in 1853 and where they are to be found in subsequent censuses, although they apparently also lived in Missouri and Nebraska at times.

Photo courtesy of Olive Kennedy

From the style of her dress, I think this photo was taken in the early 1860s (or possibly the late 1850s). Although her husband looks like he just showed up for the photographer, Hannah has taken some pains to look her best. She's wearing a broach with three white stones or pearls attached to her stiff white collar; her earrings are hoops that may have something longer hanging from them; there appears to be a ring on one hand and a handkerchief or gloves held in the other.

Probate records have confirmed that Hannah's father was Isaac Leonard who was born in Montgomery County, New York, about 1780 and died in Jefferson County, New York, near the end of 1862 and whose will is recorded there.

It's her mother that's been the mystery here because she appears to have died before the 1840 U.S. Census and of course never appeared as more than a tick mark in those earlier censuses. From the death certificate of one of her other daughters, Cynthia (Leonard) Belcher, we learned that her name was Jemima White, always assuming that the information written there is correct. (I would like to confirm the name through other sources, but haven't been able to.)

Source: Seeking Michigan website, owned and operated by the Michigan History Foundation, all rights reserved

While this was a great breakthrough at the time, White is a very common surname and we haven't been able to trace that line back farther with any degree of certainty. (Nor have we been able to determine who Isaac Leonard's ancestors were.)

According to Porter Worden's Jones County, Iowa, obituary in 1891, Hannah predeceased him, dying in Nebraska in January of 1887 at the age of 74.

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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