A few years ago I ran across a letter written to my 3rd-great grandmother about a scandal in the Barnes family, the family my grandmother was going to marry into. What happened was that one of the younger Barnes sisters, Eliza, had a fling with an older sister’s husband, a man named Henry Bedell, and a daughter was born to Eliza in October 1848. The older sister, Harriet, died four years after the scandal, still childless, and valiantly endeavoring in her letters to sound full of forgiveness and love and perseverance. I hope she had some happiness in her life!
Eliza married when her daughter was 15 years old. The husband gave his surname to the young girl, but the girl put Barnes down for her own maiden name when she herself married seven years after that.
Henry Bedell, meanwhile, had paid off Eliza and had nothing to do with his daughter, ever. After his wife died, Henry married again the next year and had a son named Henry Luzerne Bedell in 1855, and a daughter named Mary Eloise Bedell in 1862.
Fine. But in researching the rest of the Barnes siblings and what happened to them, I found that one of the Barnes brothers had a daughter whose death certificate was signed by “Mrs. Seth Bedell” of the same little town in Ohio as the Bedells almost a hundred years before. Were they related? Did they remember the scandal between the Bedells and Barnes families? How did this come about?
Back to that original Barnes family. Besides Harriet and Eliza, there were five other sisters and three brothers. One brother, Nathaniel Alverson Barnes, married a woman named Rosina Howard in early January 1843. Their first child, Martha, was born in early December of the same year. Their second child, Byron Johnson Barnes, was born in the spring of 1846, and then they didn’t have another child for fifteen years. Their two younger daughters were born in January 1861 and July 1863—they were Elizabeth Jane, called Lizzie, and Harriet Mary, called Hattie.
The eldest, Martha, married Andrew J Hatch in early May 1862, which at that time was considered late since a daughter was born four months later.
The 1870 Census shows the Barnes family living in Orwell township, out in the country where Nathaniel was farming. A family of Bedells were their neighbors—Martin and Amanda and their young children. Ten years later the Bedells had a “caboose”—a five-year-old son named Seth. In 1880 Lizzie was 19 and Hattie was 16. They and their older brother Byron, a carpenter, were still living with their parents.
The Martha Barnes Hatch family grew and grew. They had Lottie in 1862, Clara in 1864, Allen in 1868, Howard Andrew (or vice versa, as he changed his name) in 1870, Roy in 1874, Cornelia in 1879, and Rosina Susan (who also switched her name around to Susan Rosina) in 1882.
The 20th century censuses of 1900 through 1940 show the two single Barnes sisters living together in a house on North Maple Street, but not one with a house number, so it’s probably still considered to be out in the country. They are employed as dressmakers at a shop in town until they are too old to work any longer. Hattie died in November 1939, and Lizzie three years later.
Martha’s daughter Cornelia married that young Bedell neighbor, Seth, on June 28, 1900. She must have been close to her maiden aunties, Lizzie and Hattie. She is the one who signed Lizzie’s death certificate, and it is interesting how carefully she supplied every piece of information about Lizzie’s life and family and heritage. That’s why I think she loved her auntie.
Too bad she had only sons and couldn’t name a daughter after Lizzie or Hattie.
It is worth noting that there were no Henrys in this Bedell family branch. The two Bedell families came from New York and were living in the same little town in Ohio from the 1830s onward, so probably they were related. Seth’s great-uncle is mentioned in several of the letters that I inherited from that 3rd-great grandmother who became Julia Barnes. Uncle Lepper Bedell was one of Julia’s suitors until Truman Barnes won out.
What goes around comes around—in family names too, it seems.
Here is a letter written by Caroline Jane Palmer Alderman to her sister Julia Esalina Palmer (later Barnes) on April 2, 1848. Lepper Bedell is mentioned on the last line of the first page continuing to the first couple lines on the second page. If you’re on a computer, click to make the letter big enough to read it.