Friday, September 04, 2009

Death Ends Long Series of Sorrows for Martha Vousden

The title of this post is taken from a report in the Washington Times of 5th July, 1910, Last Edition, Page 3 (left). It concerns the life and death in Hillsdale, Michigan, U.S., of Martha Vousden, the identity of whom we will return to later.

I can do no better than reproduce the report word for word.

"At the age of seventy-two Martha Vousden, spinster, is dead at the county farm. Born in England, she followed her betrothed to America tracing her way through the forests of Michigan until she found him at Hillsdale, wedded to another.

"She never returned to her home, but worked at various hotels in this city and elsewhere in southern Michigan for a number of years until confined to the county home a dozen years ago.

"She was badly crippled, having been in two fires, the last one at Marshall, when she fell from the second story to the sidewalk below, breaking through an iron grating. She was injured permanently."

If Martha was 72 years old when she died in 1910 then she was born in about 1837 or 1838. If so I am fairly sure that this Martha was the daughter of Samuel Moses and Hannah (née Watts) Vousden. Moses, as he was generally known, was born in Goudhurst, Kent, England in September 1799. He married Hannah on 10th July 1823 in her nearby home village of Hawkhurst, where they settled to live. Moses worked as a carpenter.

Martha was the fifth of seven children, born in 1836 or 1837. She was at home in the U.K. censuses of 1841, 1851 and 1861 but I have not found her in the 1871. I think she had left for America before then, in search of her betrothed. Her father Samuel died in 1865, and her mother died in 1868.

In the U.S. 1880 census Martha was working as a cook in a hotel in Quincy, Branch County, Michigan, aged 40 years, just as the Washington Times reported. She lived another 30 years, never returning home to England. Notwithstanding the gloomy picture painted by the newspaper report, I hope that she found some happiness in Michigan during those years.

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