Monday, November 9, 2015

Monday Is for Mothers: Matilda Biddle (1847 - 1927)

As Esther Moreland Leithold (1872-1959) wrote in "And this is our heritage," a recounting of the family stories she heard from her grandparents Benjamin R. and Maria (Evans) Biddle, this paternal great great grandmother was always known as "Puggie," a nickname bestowed on her as an infant.

She was born in Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois, on February 23, 1846, and the first public record of her is in the 1850 U.S. Census. Puggie's mother Maria was listed as the head of the household and Aunt Angeline (Biddle) Atkinson and her son Henry were staying with them. (Her father B.R. was still in California, having traveled overland to the gold fields in 1849 with several partners in order to open a store selling goods to the miners.*)

["United States Census, 1850," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M859-2M7 : accessed 9 November 2015), Matilda Biddle in household of Mariah Riddle, Springfield, Sangamon, Illinois, United States; citing family 714, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).]

B.R. returned to Illinois determined to take his wife and five children, including six-year-old Puggie, to the Willamette Valley in the Oregon Territory where his sister Harriette and her husband Hamilton Campbell had settled some years earlier. They left Springfield in April of 1852 and several months later a little brother, Arthur Platte Biddle,** was born at a camp on the west side of the Platte River.

["North Platte, 1859" Daniel A. Jenks (1827-1869) Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.]


The Biddles and the rest of their party had arrived at their destination by October and B.R. bought land in Marysville (now Corvallis).

[A Diagram of a Portion of Oregon Territory. Surveyor General's Office, Oregon City, October 21st, 1852. Surveyor General, J B Preston. Lith. by A. Hoen & Co. Balto. Source: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection]

By the 1860 U.S. Census another daughter (Alice) had been added to the family.

[City : Corvallis. Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: 1860 U.S. census, population schedule. NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.]


Two years later a local teacher named Orville Tracy Porter began to court the 16-year-old Puggie.

 
[Leithold, E. Moreland. (1944). And this is our heritage. Woodland, Calif. pages 156-7]


By the 1870 U.S. Census, Orville and Puggie and their three children*** were living in Waitsburg, Walla Walla County in the Washington Territory.Orville was still working as a school teacher.

[Township : Waitsburg.  Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: 1870 U.S. census, population schedules. NARA microfilm publication M593, 1,761 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.Minnesota census schedules for 1870. NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.]


The 1880 Federal Census found the Biddles (with seven children by then) back in Oregon, living in Harrisburg. Orville's occupation was listed as "Editor," of a weekly newspaper.

[Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. 1880 U.S. Census Index provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints © Copyright 1999 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. Original data: Tenth Census of the United States, 1880. (NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.]


This is the last census that shows Orville and Puggie living in the same household. Their youngest child, Chester Arthur Porter, was born in California in 1884**** so they may have still been together as late as then, but in 1889 Orville was appointed as U.S. Marshall for Alaska and married a second time the following year.

Since the 1890 census was destroyed, the next record we have for Puggie is in the 1900 U.S. Census for Albany, Linn County, Oregon, where she described herself as a widow with her youngest child still at home, although Orville and his new wife were living in the same town.

[Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.:
National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.]


Albany City's directory for 1905 lists both Puggie and her ex-husband.*****


[Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Title : Albany, Oregon, City Directory, 1905]


Puggie was still styling herself as a widow in the 1910 U.S. Census and she was living with her daughter Alice and her family in West Albany.

[Enumeration District : 0198; Description: West Albany Precinct including Albany City (part), Ward 1 Ward 2. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006. Original data: Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA.]


By the 1920 U.S. Census, Puggie was living by herself in a rented house in Newport City on the Oregon coast. (Whether or not she and Orville ever divorced, describing herself as a widow was more accurate now since he had died in 1916.)

[Enumeration District : 0276; Description: Pacific Precinct including part of Newport City (part). Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA.]


Matilda Biddle Porter died in Lincoln County, Oregon, on August 26, 1927, and is buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery (also known as the Pioneer Cemetery) in Corvallis, her first home in Oregon

[Ancestry.com. Oregon, Death Index, 1898-2008 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000. Original data: State of Oregon. Oregon Death Index, 1903-1998. Salem, OR, USA: Oregon State Archives and Records Center. Oregon Death Indexes, 1903-1970. Salem, OR, USA: Oregon State Library.Oregon Death Indexes, 1971-2008. Salem, OR, USA: Oregon State Library.]


Because Matilda was among the early settlers of Oregon there are several cards for her in the Pioneer Index maintained by the Oregon Historical Society.


[Ancestry.com. Oregon, Biographical and Other Index Card File, 1700s-1900s [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors.
Original data: Oregon, Biographical and Other Cards. Oregon Historical Society, Portland, Oregon.]


*He is enumerated as a "Merchant" in Shasta, California, in the same census.

[Year: 1850; Census Place: Shasta, Shasta, California; Roll: M432_35; Page: 333A; Image: 648. Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: Seventh Census of the United States, 1850; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, 1009 rolls);
Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29; National Archives, Washington, D.C.]

**Sadly, little Arthur died on November 29, 1852.
***My direct ancestor is their oldest child Tracy Darrow Porter.
****Chester was born in Healdsburg, California, two years after her father died in that town and her mother was still a resident there.
*****No record of a divorce between Puggie and Orville has appeared yet.




© 2015 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

  1. I keep hoping that a picture of her will crop up at some point.

    ReplyDelete