Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Christmas Guest

Christmas is a magical time. So why not wish for a special Christmas guest. If I could invite one ancestor to Christmas dinner, this year I would choose my 3rd great grandmother, Elizabeth Paul, of Curry Mallet, England.

Elizabeth or Betsey was born in 1807 to John Paul and Sarah Mead in Curry Mallet. She married Henry Strong of Saint Decuman’s Parish on 9 May 1829 in Beercrocrombe.

Elizabeth and Henry Strong had three daughters: Sarah Caroline, Emma and Fanny. Following the 1840 death of her husband, Henry, Betsey supported her family by working as a rag sorter. 

At 45 years of age, Elizabeth led her three daughters and mother, Sarah Paul, age 76 to Bristol, England. Together the five women boarded the Shannon and set sail for New York along with 106 other passengers and 12 infants. Elizabeth, Sarah Caroline, Emma and Fanny were officially received into the United States on 12 June 1849. Elizabeth’s mother died aboard ship. What motivated such an adventuresome trip?

The women settled in Skaneateles, New York where Elizabeth married John Willmont.  She lived in Skaneateles for eleven years. Elizabeth Paul Strong Willmont died 23 April 1860. My cousin and I visited her grave at the Lakeview Cemetery in downtown Skaneateles.  I doubt Elizabeth ever considered the idea of great, great, great granddaughters searching for her or visiting her grave. Would she be pleased?

I would love to have Elizabeth sit at my dining table surrounded by seven of her great, great, great granddaughters and serve her Christmas dinner. Conversation would be peppered with unending questions from curious granddaughters. I would particularly watch her reaction when dessert was served. Would she recognize the plum pudding?

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