Friday, December 5, 2014

52 Ancestors in 54 Weeks: Week 6: Mary Jane "Jennie" Tibbetts

Mary Jane "Jennie" Tibbetts, my 2nd great grandmother, was born on April 30, 1852, near Waverly, Bremer, Iowa, to Henry Charles Tibbetts (1826-1902) and Catherine Messinger (1827-1862).

She was listed in both the Iowa State Census of 1856 and in the 1860 Federal Census as living in Jefferson Township, Bremer, Iowa.  Her parents, grandparents, and extended family moved to the area in 1846.  Jennie's mother Catherine died in January 1862, when Jennie was 12.  Her father married Catherine's niece Sarah Ellen Messinger (Jennie's first cousin on her mother's side) the following year.  I wonder how the dynamics of that worked out?  My impression from what I've read is that Jennie and her siblings embraced Sarah, as she was already family.

[A young Mary Jane Tibbetts, date unknown. From Ancestry user marsch37 from the Frady Family Tree: "Photo scanned from an album from the home of Chap. Charles Henry Frady"]
[Jennie Tibbetts, probably about 1870.  From Ancestry user HermitInTheValley on the Beckley/St Clair Family Tree]
Her future husband, James Monroe "Jimmie" Hartley was a young teacher at a local business college in Cedar Falls (about 15 miles south of Jefferson) and possibly already an insurance agent when Jennie met him.  It is unclear exactly how they met, possibly when he was going door-to-door selling insurance.  This most likely happened in 1868 or 1869, as Henry Tibbetts moved his entire family south to Labette, Oswego, Kansas in 1869.  The romance endured the distance, as Jennie and Jimmie married at her father's home in Labette on August 11, 1871, when she was 19.  Then she and Jimmie lived with his parents (George W Hartley and Rebecca Paul) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for two years, and her first two children (Mary and Delia) were born there.

In November 1873 they moved to Waverly (near where she was born) and leased a farm.  Her younger brothers Wellie and Worthy lived with them for a while.  Jennie's next two children, Jack and George, were born near Waverly.  Sometime before the 1880 Census they left that farm and lived temporarily with Jimmie's older brother, George Hartley and his family in Marcus, Cherokee, Iowa.  Jennie's daughter Maud was born in Marcus in September 1880.

Jennie's father Henry Tibbetts was still in Labette, Kansas, and Jennie and Jimmie had originally planned to live in a house there in 1881, but by 1882 the pull to go to California was too great for everyone.  According to family sources Jimmie bought 10 acres of land in Nestor, San Diego, California in January 1882.  I suspect Jimmie was not a country boy, and wanted to figure out how to make a living without being a farmer.  By January 1883 Jimmie and Jennie went way up north about 460 miles to Soquel, California, and bought a large house with the intention to rent to roomers, but the endeavor didn't pan out.  Jennie had her son Joey, born in March 1883, in either Soquel or back in San Diego.  By June 1883 the family was back in San Diego, living at 19th and J near downtown, and the children all contracted measles and whooping cough. Tragically Joey died when he was three months old, due to complications from these diseases.  The family lived for in the area for about 4 more years.

In September 1889 Jimmie bought 372 acres of land out in Dehesa (right by where Sycuan Casino is now).  I believe they lived out there for about a year.  After moving around a bit more, with a brief stint in Los Angeles, Jimmie made the fateful decision to buy land in 1892 in the area that is now North Park in San Diego, and area at one time referred to as Hartley's North Park.
[Jennie with husband James Monroe Harltey and their family, probably about 1890]
Jennie, 42, had her last child, Paul in 1894.

Jennie and Jimmie lived in San Diego until about 1901, when Jimmie was offered a job up in Tacoma, Washington.  They moved up there and Jennie had numerous family from her mother's side (the Messingers).  But at this time Jimmie become more and more sick.

Jimmie died on July 23, 1904, likely from cancer.  Jennie's father, Henry, had died two years before.  But despite these losses her children were doing quite well, and between her Civil War widow's pension and her children's frequent monetary contributions Jennie lived comfortably for the rest of her life, for many years with her widowed sister, Delia.

[With my grandfather, her grandson, about 1910]

She died in San Diego on December 9, 1940.  She was 88.

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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