Regardless of the fact that 50% of a person’s ancestors are women, if you look at who is written about in genealogy most of them are men. Women are often referred to as the “hidden ancestor.” In part that is due to the fact that women take on their husband’s names and are difficult to trace, were often forbidden by law to own property, make wills, etc., and generally did not write articles or books about genealogy. So I thought I would focus a blog or two over the next couple of weeks about women in my genealogy. Although I do not know much about them, what I do know, I find interesting.
Sarah Ann Hannah, my great, great aunt, certainly falls in the category of being interesting. She was born in Ross Township, Edgar County, Illinois, on February 17, 1823, to John M. and Charity (Mears) Hannah. She married John Mitchell in 1843. They had five sons: John Hannah, Chandler, George, Francis Marion, and Joseph Ensign. In the 1850 census, in Ross Township, Edgar County, Illinois, John is described as a farmer. In 1857 John died.
Typically in that time period, when a woman became a widow, she remarried, often marrying a widower. However, Sarah did not do that. From 1857 until at least 1880, Sarah continued to run the farm in Ross Township. The United States Non-Population Schedule contains information about the farm that Sarah ran. In 1860 her farm consisted of 80 improved and 32 unimproved acres, valued at $2000. The farm equipment was worth $100. Sarah owned the following livestock: 5 horses, 3 milch cows, 1 other cattle, 24 sheep, and 12 swine for a value of $570. The farm produced 1500 bushels of Indian corn, 86 pounds of wool, and 100 pounds of butter. Farming continued as the 1870 lists her sons, Chandler and George, as farmers and living with her. Sarah is also listed in the 1880 census as running a farm. Unfortunately, the Agricultural Schedule on line is unreadable so it is not possible to know any details about the farm at that time. I do not know at what point Sarah sold the farm and to whom. However, a 1910 map of Ross Township shows Chandler Mitchell as owning most of the same land that a 1870 map of the township shows as belonging to the Mitchell heirs.
Sarah remained a widow until 1895 at which time, at the age of 72, she married Samuel McCampbell. Sarah died on February 24, 1906 in Chrisman, Edgar Co., IL. I would really like to be able to talk to Sarah.
I would ask why she decided to run the farm, what kind of help did she have to run it, who she sold or gave it to? I would also like to know how the other farmers and their wives treated her. Did they think it was unusual or inappropriate for her to farm?
What would you ask her? Put questions in the comments section.