Through the generosity of fellow family historian, Doug Kreis, I have the following obituary for my great-great-grandfather, the fiddle-playing man of my grandmother’s youth. Amaziah Bradford was the son of John R. and Hannah Geyer Bradford of Highland Township, Muskingum County, Ohio. This life synopsis originally appeared in The Adamsville Register, Adamsville, Ohio.
A. G. Bradford Called By Death Last Thursday
Amaziah Bradford, aged 81, died at his home in West Lafayette, Ohio, Thursday 18 October (1928) of heart trouble and infirmities. He had been in poor health for some time. Several years ago Mr. Bradford had conducted a confectionery store in West Lafayette and was later employed in the enameling plant in that village. Mr. Bradford had been a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge in West Lafayette for several years. He was a member of the M E Church. He had been a resident of West Lafayette for 30 years. He formerly lived near Bloomfield. The deceased was united in marriage with Miss Julia McCall 53 years ago who together with one son and two daughters survive; Charles of Coshocton, Mrs. Samuel Bell of Cincinnati and Mrs. E. A. Robinson of Walhounding. The funeral was held Saturday afternoon at the M E Church in West Lafayette and burial was made in the cemetery at that place. The following nephews and nieces attended the funeral : Mr and Mrs. J. A. Bradford, Harry Bradford, John Kay, Ray Bradford, Isaac Bradford, W. R. Bradford and Mrs. W. D. Brannon of Adamsville and daughter Mrs. Myrville Truax of Zanesville.
I want to thank Nick at the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society in Janesville, Wisconsin, for his help in retrieving the following obituary in the Sabbath Recorder, volume 22: issue 18, p. 71.
In Wellsville, N.Y.; February 24th, 1866, Mrs. SARAH SAYLES, wife of Christopher Sayles, in the 72nd year of her age. She was a member of the Protestant Methodist Church, and adorned her profession by a godly life. Her end was one of triumph over the terrors of death and the grave. She leaves eight children, and twelve brothers and sisters, being the first to die out of her father’s family of children, the youngest of whom is fifty-three.
A quick read of this paragraph reveals my great-great-great-grandmother Sayles to have been a godly woman; a wife, a mother and sister. The second read through tickles my curiosity. With its choice of the word “wife”, the author communicates that Sarah was survived by her husband Christopher Sayles, with whom she had had eight children. The author also states that Sarah died in Wellsville. I know from other family records that the couple had lived much of their adult lives in Tioga County, Pennsylvania. What, then, was Sarah doing living across the New York state border, in Allegany County?
START WITH THE FACTS AND CHASE THE TALE
The 1865 New York State census marked the trail head to this mystery path: Sarah and Christopher were sharing a home with their daughter, Rhobe Sayles Crandall.
This discovery pushed me to flush out Sarah’s other seven children and her twelve brothers and sisters. Family historian and cousin, Sharon B, fed me data crumbs which aided my search, and I reread a transcribed The History of Tioga County (Pennsylvania) on Joyce Tice’s site, Tri-Counties Genealogy and History. Now my trail was well blazed.
THE FAMILY TREE OF SARAH KING SAYLES
Sarah and Christopher were born and married in Burrillville, Rhode Island, and they moved to Tioga County, Pennsylvania in 1825. Here they raised eight children to adulthood: Ira (my great-great-grandfather), Rhobe (Crandall), Priscilla (died at age 2), James King, Christopher Loren, Martha (Pickett), Philander, Keziah King (Batcheller), and Adriel King.
Many of Sarah’s siblings were among the residents of Tioga County, as her parents had also migrated from Rhode Island to Tioga County in 1825. James and Merrobe (Roby) Howland King had thirteen children: Prince, Allen, Eddy, Ozial, Sarah (Sayles), John, James, Keziah (Crandall), William H, Hannah, Roby, Adriel, and Almon, who being the youngest, was just 53 at Sarah’s death.
Newspaper notices capture the facts of a life.
Sarah King Sayles passed from this earth on a Saturday, the 24th of February 1866. That fact, and the reference to all those who shed tears upon learning the news, is easily transmitted in newsprint.
But who was Sarah, really? I am left with as many questions as Sarah had siblings. How did Christopher and Sarah contribute to their children’s household? Where did her siblings reside? How much time passed before they knew of her death? Her obituary states that she adorned her profession with a godly life. How did Sarah practice her faith? Did any of her children serve in the Civil War? How did that affect her? As she triumphed over the terrors of death, did she suffer a lingering illness?
Nancy Teater White survived her husband, Samuel S. White, by two and a half years. This generous soul could well have spent her widow years with the sons who lived in Independence and neighboring Whitesville. But she died in Alfred, a nearby town and home to Alfred University.
Her daughter, Serena White Sayles, lived on the campus of that college in the Gothic, a home built by Samuel in the early 1850s. At the time of Nancy’s death, Serena was home alone with nine month old baby Christopher, five year old Merlin, and eleven year old Clifton; and she may well have been on faculty of that college teaching French as she had periodically since 1848. Professor-now-Captain Ira Sayles was actually in a hospital tent outside Camp Suffolk, Virginia, suffering the effects of leading Company H, 130th Regiment of the New York State Volunteers in camp drills and exhausting training marches in the Black River area.
Grandma White ended her life in Alfred at her daughter’s home, where she no doubt had helped Serena juggle the demands of young children, a baby and a community while her son-in-law served his country far from home. Or at least tried to help before becoming another dependent in the Gothic household. I like to think that Serena clung to a community of strong women that January, as her mother passed on. I am certain that she missed the genial spirit of Nancy Teater White, as the next month’s uncertainties unfolded.
A family mystery has been solved! My great-great-grandparents, Ira and Serena Sayles, had four children, wrote my grandmother, Florette Sayles Strickland. The daughter, Florette, died as a young girl. One son, Clifton, grew up to be a farmer, a husband, a dad – her dad. Another son, Christopher, grew up to join the peacetime army, and yet another son, Merlin, was lost to memory’s mists, until I uncovered his obituary in the Seventh Day Baptist archives of the 1878 Sabbath Recorder. From page three of Volume 34, issue 40, I finally learn the fate of this young man.
In Whitesville, N. Y., September 23d, 1878, MERLIN W. SAYLES, of Chase City, Maklinburg (sic) County, Va., aged 21 years, 2 months, and 11 days, second son of Prof. Ira and Serena C. Sayles, formerly of Alfred. His disease, as shown by examination after death, was aneurism in the right of the mesenteric artery, followed by a completely conjested mesentery, with incipient abcsess (sic) of the same, thus functionally destroying this vital organ. For the last two months, his sufferings were intense — he really starved to death. He was a member of the First-day Baptist Church of Chase City, Va., and died clinging to Jesus.
Just imagine the scene. On a muggy, hot July day, Merlin collapsed after slopping the hogs. His brothers, Christopher and Clifton, rushed to where he lay doubled over, clutching his belly as the blood vessel lay ruptured inside him. As they carried Merlin up the porch steps Clifton yelled to his mother, and Serena rushed into the front hallway of the family’s farmhouse. Sizing up the moment she turned and took the stairs two at a time, with the boys on her heels. Merlin was gently lowered into bed, his shoes taken off, his clothing loosened. He must have been in agony that day, and each day after as his intestines slowly died and infection set in. No tea, no soup, no biscuit would have stayed down; Serena would have tried every sort of remedy to ease the pain, to cure the fever, to stave off his withering. Today the ruptured artery would be quickly diagnosed and surgically repaired. Serena could only watch over her boy, mopping his sweaty brow, wetting his dry lips, holding his feverish hand, praying for his recovery.
Would Ira have traveled down from New York for a last visit? Or did Serena meet this tragedy alone with her boys and neighbors?
Merlin W. Sayles may be buried in the family’s cemetery just off of Hunter’s Lane, south of Chase City, Virginia. Hidden among trees, his tombstone may still serve as testimony to the horror of his final days.
From the Sabbath Recorder, Alfred, New York, July 1856:
In Rushford, N. Y., on the 25 ult., (of last month) after an illness of eight weeks, FLORETTE W., daughter of Ira and Serena C. Sayles, aged 8 years, 8 months and 19 days. A few days before her departure, while in her father’s arms, she told him she was not afraid to die and be with Christ. She also assured her mother, during her last hours of consciousness, of the same confidence. She moreover reproved her mother for weeping, saying, “It can do no good.”
In grief we lay our daughter down
To sleep the sleep that knows no waking'
In faith, we look beyond the tomb--
We see the glorious morning breaking,
Brightly dawning through the gloom:
We see, by faith, her spirit come,
Midst the joyous angel throng,
To proclaim their Jesus King--
King o'er heaven and earth most glorious--
King o'er death, and the grave victorious--
King omnipotent to save
All who put their trust in him.
Then where's thy victory, boasting grave?
O death! where is thy venomed sting?
Then triumph! triumph, weeping mother!
Triumph, little trusting brother!
Triumph, father, in thy faith!
Jesus hath won life from death!