Tuesday, January 6, 2015

James Eastwood: No Stranger to Death (52 Ancestors #1)

I'm excited to be participating in this year's "52 Ancestor Challenge" from "No Story Too Small."

Our ancestors are more than names, dates & places. They lived and breathed; married and had children; celebrated births and grieved deaths.

For the most part, our ancestors suffered more loss than we do. Wives often died in childbirth. Children often died while still children. Life was harsher.

I've had very few deaths which were close to me. I lost my best childhood friend when I was 17, but I hadn't seen her in years. I lost my grandmother about 10 years ago, but we only saw each other once a year. And, in 2013 I lost my husband's grandfather. The pain of losing him was incredible. I cried for almost 2 solid days and felt like my knees would collapse.

As tough as 'my' grandpa's death was, I cannot imagine watching my husband or daughter die. What would it be like to sit by their bedside as they slowly fought a battle against a deadly disease? Or to get a call saying they'd been in a car wreck and were gone?

And yet, many people do suffer through the loss of a spouse. They grieve the loss of a child. Or, like James, they face death over and over again.

James Eastwood was my great, great, great grandfather. He was born in 1812 in England and married his first wife at about the age of 20. They had at least two children, Hannah & Humphrey, and it is likely they had two more, Sarah & Ann.

James' wife, Elizabeth, died when James was only 25. The following year, James' daughter, Hannah, also died. (Sarah & Ann, both under the age of two, also died that year. I'm waiting on death records to determine whether or not they are James & Elizabeth's children).

Parish church of St. Mary's in  Prestwich, Lancashire, England (from Wikipedia) where James married his second wife

James remarried the year that Hannah (& Sarah & Ann) died. His second wife, Sarah Ann Hall, is my third great grandmother. Within the first two years of marriage, they had two children. Then, two years later, James' father died, with his mother dying a few years later. The following year, James and Sarah Ann suffered the loss of their firstborn.

Sarah Jane, my great, great grandmother, was their third child. Shortly after her birth, James, a cotton spinner, decided to move to America. He went first; perhaps he wanted to find a place to live or he needed to earn enough money for everyone's tickets. A year or so later his wife, Sarah, came to America with their two surviving children. James' oldest son from his first wife stayed behind with other family members.

They settled Clinton County, Pennsylvania. James became a watchman at the Lock Haven Bank. James & Sarah Ann had three more children over the next few years. One of those died as a baby.

James died at the relatively young age of 51 when his youngest was only 5 years old. During his life he had lost one wife and at least 3 of his 8 children, and possibly 5 of his 10 children. His obituary praised him saying he was a "... worthy, honest, [enterprising?] citizen" and that he "...was an excellent citizen, and commanded the regard of all who knew him."

I'm not sure how James dealt with all the loss he experienced. Those are the types of things we often don't discover while researching our ancestors. But, at least he was surrounded by family. The 1860 census, taken three years before his death, finds him living with his five remaining children: their ages were two to twenty-five. I hope their house was filled with love and laughter despite the pain of so much loss.

James Eastwood, my 3x great grandfather, was born on October 4, 1812 in Saddleworth, Yorkshire, England and died December 2nd, 1863 in Lock Haven, Clinton County, Pennsylvania.

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at drleeds@sbcglobal.net


  1. You've made some interesting observations and personal connections to the story of your 3x great grandfather.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Returning the favor! I also enjoyed reading some of your most recent posts.

  2. I agree, tragedy was certainly far more common for our ancestors than it is for us. I marvel at the physical, mental, and emotional strength it took for them to continue, one tragedy after the other.

    Stopping by from The Write Stuff.


The 1828 Will of Peter Close's Relict: Catharine Elizabeth Close

Yesterday, I shared the 1810 will of my 5th great grandfather , Peter Close of Armagh, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. Peter's wife, Catha...