Saturday, September 19, 2009

Thank you, Louisa!

It started out innocently with a simple search for information on Timothy J. Alvord, who is buried in Smithland Cemetery. The following is inscribed on his tombstone: Timothy J. Alvord born North Hampton, NY. Died Aug. 15th 1840. Erected by his wife & Daughter – Julia V.J. Alvord.

Buried beside Timothy is his daughter, Julia Alvord Mitchell. The inscription on her tombstone states she was born at Parkersburg, W.Va. Sept. 27, 1836, died at Smithland Novr. 26, 1873.

While researching the Alvord family, I became intrigued by Louisa, widow of Timothy and mother of Julia. I had to learn more about her. Have you ever felt like someone was guiding you in your research? Louisa became almost real to me and her personality began to shine through those old, dusty records in the courthouse and in the cemetery. Let me tell you what I learned.

Louisa, who outlived three older husbands and an adult daughter, surely had a sense of humor. On the 1850 Livingston County census, she was age 32, but in 1860, she had only aged 8 years and in 1870 she aged another 8 years. By 1880, she had only aged 2 years. Her year of birth ranges from 1818 to 1830, depending on the census. When she died in 1892, she was age 75, which would make her birth year 1817. Maybe her hand over her mouth muffled the answer as she gave her age to the census enumerator. Of course, a lady never reveals her true age.

Another sign of her humor is the arrangement of the final resting places of her dearly departed family members. Buried directly behind first husband Timothy J. Alvord and their daughter, Julia Alvord Mitchell, is Matilda Green, second wife of Ezekiel C. Green, who was Louisa’s second husband and is buried next to Matilda. According to his tombstone, Ezekiel C. Green was born Aug. 22, 1795 Pendleton District, S.C. and died April 6, 1851.

Then there is our lady Louisa, who is buried between Ezekiel and husband #3, Dr. Milton H. Carson. The following is inscribed on his tombstone: Dr. Milton H. Carson, Husband of Louisa B. Carson, Born near Dandridge, Tenn. Jan. 20, 1807, died Smithland Dec. 9, 1886.

Buried behind them are children of Ezekiel C. Green. I think family was important to Louisa, don’t you?

Louisa’s greatest claim to fame is the inclusion of the birth places on the tombstones of her husbands and daughter. Did she have the foresight to know this would be important to some unknown person over 100 years after her death? I like to think so. It is a shame that whoever ordered Louisa’s tombstone did not include her birthplace. From census records, we know she was born in Maine, but I would really like to know the county or town. While we are wishing, I would like to know where she and Timothy J. Alvord married. Louisa’s tombstone has this simple inscription: Louisa B. Carson Died Aug. 6, 1892, aged 75 years Requiescat in pace

First husband, Timothy J. Alvord, arrived in Smithland about 1837 or 1838. He was a carpenter and built at least one house before his death in August 1840. Louisa, who was in her early 20s, had to support herself and her 4-year-old daughter, Julia. In June of 1841, Louisa married E.C. Green, who was twice widowed, and was about 20 years older than Louisa. His second wife, Matilda Harrison Green, had died in 1839.

E.C. Green and Louisa were married until his death in 1851, when Louisa became a widow again. But not for long. In December of that year, Louisa married Dr. Milton H. Carson, who was only about 10 years her senior. Their marriage would last the longest – until his death in 1886.

It is easy to become caught up in the lives of people being researched, especially when they are as interesting as Louisa and her families. She arrived in Smithland when it was a busy river port with lots of activity. She witnessed the many changes of Smithland, including the Civil War, the decline of river traffic and the removal of many residents to larger towns offering more opportunities. By the time of her death, Smithland had become a quiet, little town, far different than when she arrived in the late 1830s.

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