June 4, 2012

When did Wheeler Watson’s Wife Die?

For some time I have been trying to find evidence of the death of Sarah Taylor Peckham, Wheeler’s wife.  She was believed to have been born about 1764 in Rhode Island.  She and Wheeler married in 1799 and soon thereafter moved to Rensselaerville, New York.

Sarah and Wheeler had 8 children born between 1800 and 1812.  Because the census records prior to 1850 did not list all the members of the household, it is hard to trace individuals using that source.  And I have not yet found Wheeler in that census

Wheeler died in 1846 in Prattsville, Greene County, NY where his daughter Mary Elizabeth and her husband Zadock Pratt lived.  Wheeler’s probate record listed numerous children and grandchildren, but not his wife Sarah -- so I assumed she had pre-deceased him.

I tried some online newspaper searches, focusing on just a few years prior to Wheeler’s death.  I looked on many family trees. I looked on findagrave.com without success. I reviewed the Prattsville, NY cemetery burial records.  I could not find her.

Yesterday I decided to check newspapers again using genealogy bank with a wider time window.  I had previously searched for Sarah Watson, Sarah Peckham Watson without success.  So this time, I used a date range of 1835 to 1845 and searched just on Wheeler’s name (as it is more unusual than Sarah), thinking he might have been mentioned in a death notice … AND I FOUND IT !!

Two NY newspapers ran the same copy in the 3rd week of November 1838 (much earlier than I assumed):

At Rensselaerville, Sarah, wife of Wheeler Watson, 61.

So, not only had she predeceased him by 8 years, but she was quite a bit younger than estimated.  The 1764 birth year had bothered me as her sister Rebecca was born in/about the same year.  So, Sarah was born 1777 and died in 1838. 

Next I hope I can find a burial record for both of them.

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