"Let me see generation times, will we hear children singing rhymes? Sweet memories gone by..."

21 January 2013

Susan League Silence

How soon the winter o' the year
And age life's winter do appear
'Tis then your living bloom will fade
And that will strip the verdant shade
--"The Birks Of Invermay" (Traditional)

133 years ago today, my 4th-great-grandmother, Susan League Silence, passed away in Baltimore, MD.  My mother the nurse always rolls her eyes when she reads "old age" as cause of death on an official death certificate.  Gotta love the medical standards back in the 1800's!

Susan's exact birth date is unknown, but her death certificate gives her age as 77.  That's probably close to true, though I can't say for sure, because it fluctuated from one census to the next.  Even better, Susan was counted twice in the 1870 census:  first living with her son Charles' family in Washington, DC in June, and again in August, living with her daughter Leonora's family in Baltimore.  Over those two months, she seems to have had a birthday, going from age 68 to 69.

I don't really know much about Susan.  The earliest record I have of her is her marriage to Richard Silence, but there's no reference to her parents or family.  Assuming she died at the age of 77, she would have been born circa 1803.  She was married on January 2, 1817, so she was possibly as young as 13 or 14 years old at the time.

Richard and Susan had six known children:
  • Ann Maria, born c1820, who married Benjamin Reed.  They are "missing" after 1850 census.
  • John, born in 1821, who married widow Catherine (Henneman) Elder.  He was a hatter, and moved his family up to New York City.
  • Richard, born in 1828, who married Martha Fisher.  He moved around a bit, and eventually settled Missouri.
  • Susan, born in 1831, who married Thomas Loveday.  She lived first in Baltimore, and later in DC.
  • Charles, born in 1835, who married Ann Collins.  He was a paper hanger, and also moved to DC.
  • Leonora, born in 1836, who married Bryan Thomas.  Their family stayed in Baltimore.

The family was mostly still together in the 1840 census.  By 1850, Susan was living with her two younger children, but for some reason, her husband Richard was missing from the household.

In 1878, Susan applied for a widow's pension based on her husband's service during the War of 1812.  It seems before they were married, Richard was a private in Captain Archibald Dobbin's Company of the Maryland Militia.  He served just a few months, from August to November of 1814.  This pension application, on file at the National Archives, is the only record that I have of Richard Silence's death on August 15, 1859. 

On this 22nd day of March, A. D. one thousand eight hundred and Seventy Eight personally appeared before me, Deputy Clerk Superior Court, the same being a Court of Record with and for the City and State aforesaid, Susanna Silence aged 76 years, a resident of Baltimore, in the State of Maryland, who, being duly sworn according to law, declares that she is a widow of Richard Silence deceased, who was the identical Richard Silence, who served under the name of Richard Silence as a private in the company commanded by Captain Archibald Dobbin, in the 39th regiment of Md Militia, commanded by Lt Col Benjamin Fowler in the war of 1812; that her said husband enlisted at Baltimore on or about the __ day of ___, A. D. 1812, for the term of ___, and continued in actual service in said war for the term of Six Months, and whose services terminated, by reason of honorable discharge at Baltimore, on the __ day of ___, A. D. ___.  She further states that the following is a full description of her said husband at the time of his enlistment, viz: about 17 years old, A Shoemaker. Born near Annapolis, Md.  5 ft. 8 in. high, dark hair, dark eyes, fair complexion.  She further states that she was married to the said Richard Silence, at the city (or town) of Baltimore, in the county of Baltimore, and in the State of Maryland, on the 2d day of January A. D. 1817, by one Rev. Joshua Wells, who was a minister of the Gospel and that her name before her said marriage was Susannah League; and she further states that neither had ever before been contracted in marriage, and that she still remains the widow of this soldier and that her said husband Richard Silence, died at Balto Co, in the State of Maryland, on the 15 day of August, A. D. 1859;  and she further declares that the following have been the places of residence of herself and her said husband since the date of his discharge from the Army, viz: in the City of Baltimore for the last 60 years.

Susan's three younger children appeared as witnesses in support of her pension claim, swearing before a notary public that their mother was a true widow of their father, that she hadn't remarried since his death, and that they themselves had no interest in the claim.

The application was approved, and Susan received a pension of $8 per month.