Here’s the suggestion for this week: Week 1, Fresh start — Seems appropriate for the beginning of the year. What ancestor had a fresh start? What ancestor has been so confusing to research that you’d like to have a fresh start?
Well – both statements apply to Mercy Laura Hawkins.
Mercy was born in 1848 in Wesley, Washington County, Maine, to Samuel Melville Hawkins and Jane Towers. She was the first born of eight children, followed by two sisters and five brothers.
Samuel ran an Indian trading post for several years and at some point in 1868, when Mercy was twenty, an attack happened at the post. The only notice we have of this is a comment written in the border of the page where Carrie Evelyn Hawkins’ birth is recorded in January 1869 that says “as a result of Indian attack”. There is no further information on what happened but we can put the pieces together. Mercy gave birth to Carrie on January 13, 1869 in Wesley and in 1870 she is listed in the census as still living at home with Samuel and Jane.
In the 1880 census, she is listed as the wife of Fred Lowell Hayward and the mother of Albert N. Hayward, born in 1880. Carrie was still living with Samuel and Jane – so Mercy got her fresh start. Her parents raised her daughter and she married and had a little boy. For the longest time, it was assumed that Carrie was Mercy’s sister and not her daughter, but the birth record corrected that.
The next time we see Mercy is a death notice. February 7, 1883, Mercy, Fred and Albert were all killed in a house fire. Carrie was fourteen. Three years later, Carrie (my great-great grandmother) would marry John Milton Roberts.
Finding any solid documentation on Mercy has been difficult – beyond the birth record of Carrie and a couple of census forms, there isn’t anything I have found yet. I don’t have Mercy’s birth records or death records. She got her fresh start – that ended in tragedy.
All of these events have conspired to make Mercy a puzzle I am still trying to solve.