The theme for this week is “Maiden Aunt” I did not find a maiden aunt within my closer generations, so decided to write about an “aunt” who escaped marriage, was married, was divorced and then remarried during her 35 years of life in the mid -1800s.
My 2nd gt-grandaunt Priscilla was the daughter of Seth and Lydia (Jewett) Hayes. She was the youngest of 8 children and was the only one born in Indiana as her older siblings were born in Ohio. She was born 5 Feb 1837. Apparently the family was not in Indiana for long as by 1840 the family was listed on the census in Jefferson County Iowa.
By 1850 her 5 oldest siblings were all married. But when her parents decided to go to Oregon in 1853 all the family went together on a wagon train where Nelson Davis was Captain. Nelson's wife was a sister to 2 of Priscilla's brothers-in-law. So it really was a family affair.
In the Year Book of 1968 for the Jewett Family of America, a granddaughter of Priscilla's sister Louisa related a story she had heard about 16 year old Priscilla on that journey. When some friendly Indians visited where the wagon train was camped, they had spread out blankets and it seems that Priscilla picked one up and put it around her shoulders and danced around. It was then they discovered their Indian custom was that it meant she would be married to that Indian. Apparently it took a fair amount of persuading to get the Indians to leave and they continued to follow the train for several days. But Priscilla did not have to marry the Indian and she arrived safely in Oregon. But there was sadness on that trip, for one of Priscilla's sisters delivered a baby girl while they were traveling in the Blue Mountains and then died when they were going over Mt. Hood.
I wonder if Priscilla was excited when her 22 year old sister Sybil was married to Benjamin Windom in the fall of 1853. It was in the spring of 1854 when Priscilla, at age 17, married Benjamin's brother, Drury Douglas Windom. By the time of the 1860 census Priscilla and Douglas and their 3 children (Alanson, James Henry and Polly Anna) were living with her unmarried brother, Ebenezer, in the Peoria Precinct of Linn County, Oregon. In about 5 more years, 3 more children were born to this family: Emily, Jesse and Carrie.
But things must have gone wrong somehow, because Priscilla filed for divorce and 31 Oct 1868 the Circuit Court in Linn County granted her a divorce with custody of the children. The next door neighbor in 1860, George M. Hill, was now a widower and he and Priscilla were married on the 14th of Nov 1868. So when the 1870 census was taken it included George and Priscilla; George's 3 daughters ages 12 – 17; Priscilla's 6 children ages 5 – 15; and their 1 year old daughter Sarah.
It was about a year and a half later. 2 Mar 1872, when Priscilla died at age 35. Her infant daughter Lydia died almost a month later on 29 Mar 1872.