There is a story from my family history which has haunted me since I first read it a few years ago. While saddened at the idea, I have long been acquainted with the concept of an adult making the choice to leave their parents behind in their pursuit of new life on the American frontier. Until I read this story, I had not yet considered that a pioneer parent would leave a child behind (I know! So naive!):
As a parent myself, I just can't imagine the horror of having to choose between waiting for my daughter and wrecking my carefully-planned departure, and leaving with the rest of my family, knowing that I would never see her again. I also can't imagine the despair of being left behind. They had such limited ways to communicate at this time - their problem could not be solved with a text, phone call, or email. If they were ever able to find each other again, and actually exchanged letters, it could still take weeks for communication to be received, especially for families living so far away from each other.
The poor young girl who was left behind, Esther Smith, was the fifth daughter of my fourth-great-grandmother, Philomela (Smith) Smith Lake and her first husband, Ira Smith. After Ira died, Philomela married James Lake, Jr. and continued to have several more children, including my ancestor, Sabra Almeda Lake. This week's challenge inspired me to learn more about the rest of Esther's story. Fortunately, it appears that her fate also mattered to other descendants of Philomela Smith, because I was able to learn a fair amount about her on FamilySearch.
Esther did indeed remain in Canada for the remainder of her years. She married a farmer, Mathew Rosevear, and raised six children. She died in Hamilton, Ontario, on 22 November 1898, at the age of 76. And just for fun, let me mention that one of Esther's daughters, Mary Ellen Rosevear Richard, died ninety years ago, in June of 1928, in Pinckney, Michigan - less than an hour's drive from my home. I love finding distant relatives in my adopted state!
I was so relieved to learn that Esther went on to lead a long life with family connections of her own. Knowing that Philomela also lived approximately four more decades after this incident, I am left wondering if they were eventually able to exchange letters over that time, between Utah (and later Idaho), and Ontario? I very much hope so.
1. "Short Biography of Philomelia Smith Lake 1794-1873," Electa Skeen Johnson, 1963; database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/photos/artifacts/15529244 : accessed 5 June 2018).
2. History of the James Lake, Jr. Family, Janet Franson Jeffrey, Roylance Publishing, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1990, pages 19-20; digitized by the Genealogical Society of Utah, digital copy online, ProQuest: ExLibrisRosetta (https://dcms.lds.org/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE114153 : accessed 7 June 2018).
3. "Sabra Dixon Called after Long Illness," Deseret Evening News (Utah), Saturday, 18 July 1908, page 24; online database with images, Utah Digital Newspapers (https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu : accessed 7 June 2018).
4. Canada West Census, 1861, Northumberland County, Personal Census, Enumeration District 2, Hamilton Township, Page 59 (stamped), lines 42-49, for Mathew Rosevear (incorrectly indexed as "Roseveer") household; digital image, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 June 2018).
5. "Ontario, Canada, Deaths and Deaths Overseas, 1869-1946," database with images, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 June 2018), record for Esther Rosevear, Schedule C, page 271, no. 13, 22 November 1895, Hamilton Township, Northumberland County, Ontario, Canada.
6. "Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950," database with images, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 June 2018) > Certificates, 1921-1942 > 203: Tecumseh - Livingston, 1921-1935 > record for Mary E Richard (incorrectly recorded as "Richards"), 1 June 1928, Pinckney, Putnam Township, Livingston County, Michigan.