This was a really tough one, especially for anyone with albums (and boxes … and folders) full of “favorite” photos.
That said, my thoughts went immediately to a tiny (1″ x 1.5″) framed photo that spent many decades on my bedside dresser.
Fortunately, there is a handwritten identification of the subjects, very neatly done with a fountain pen: Addie Mae and Lizzie Mae.
My grandmother Cassie Holmes gave me the photo sometime in the 1960s, and told me that Addie Mae was my great grandmother, the mother of her husband, my grandfather Elmer. Surprisingly, Cassie did not know who Lizzie Mae was.
Cassie and Elmer both descended from the pioneer ancestor John Tuttle who came to New England aboard the Angel Gabriel that was destroyed off the coast of Pemaquid, Maine, in the great hurricane of 1635.
Cassie was a Tuttle. Elmer’s mother, Addie Mae, was a Tuttle. Lizzie Mae was not a Tuttle. However, as I discovered about a year or so ago, she and Addie Mae were half sisters. They shared the same mother, Olive Ann Garland.
This story, by the way, is the stuff that soap operas are made of.
James Walter Smith was born April 29, 1849, in Nottingham, New Hampshire. In 1850, by the time he was 11, he was living with Levi Chapman, 63, and his wife, Eliza, 54, and another young girl, Jane Leathers. Any familial relationship has not been discovered. Ten years later, James was still living with Levi, 73, and Eliza, 64. Levi died in June 1863 and Eliza, believed to have been Elizabeth Southard of Washington County, Pennsylvania, died in 1869. There is no record that Levi and Eliza ever had any children.
Just before Levi died, on September 7, 1862, James, 23, and Olive Ann Garland, 17, married in Nottingham. Their daughter, Lizzie Mae (born Mary Elizabeth) Smith, was born February 12, 1868. Three more children were born to them: Charles E., in 1867; Carrie E., in 1869; and Horace E., in 1870. Charles died in 1868, Carrie in January 1870, and Horace was not born until shortly after the 1870 census was taken.
This particular 1870 census is a curious document. On it we find Olive Ann’s husband reported as Joseph H. Smith, 30. As we are all aware, such errors happen for a number of reasons.
The second interesting item is the presence of a boarder residing in the Smith household, Granville Tuttle, 22. Granville’s father, Miles Tuttle, had died the year before and his mother, Lucinda (Davis) Tuttle soon after.
James and Olive began the New Year in 1874 with a divorce on the 28th of January. Granville and Olive Ann had their own celebration, a wedding on February 21st.
Addie Mae, their third child and second daughter, was born July 25, 1875. Lizzie Mae, her older half-sister, was only seven years her senior.
We do not know when the photo was taken but it would appear that Addie Mae was perhaps in her teens while Lizzie Mae has the look of a young woman. Lizzie Mae did not marry until September 12, 1894, to Alonzo Goldsmith Willand of Dover, New Hampshire. Their first child, Walter, was born in 1896.
Interestingly, Addie Mae Tuttle married Lewis Weston Holmes on May 26, 1892. Addie Mae and Lewis had their only child, my grandfather, Elmer Hilton Holmes, September 10, 1895.
Addie Mae was both a married woman and a mother before her older half-sister, Lizzie Mae.
The story for Addie Mae (Tuttle) Holmes does not end here.
According to my grandparents, Addie Mae died of cancer while my grandfather was quite young. They firmly believed this so it is not likely that they knew the rest of the story.
Lewis and Addie Mae had been residing in Nottingham. However, in 1895, Addie Mae appears as a shoe stitcher working in Derry, apparently sometime after Elmer was born. This information comes from a city directory and, as we know, this sort of information is usually a bit delayed.
This was not the commuter age and Addie Mae would not (and could not) have traveled the approximately 25-mile distance to her place of work on a regular basis.
Apparently, my grandfather Elmer did not know that his parents had been separated, not to mention divorced as of January 31, 1902.
The story he had always been told was that his mother died, his father remarried, and his second wife did not want a child from her husband’s first marriage in her house. Elmer, was put out, he was told, to be raised by family relations Rufus and Liza (Eliza) Tuttle, who did not have any children of their own.
(Besides Elmer, Rufus and Liza also raised Horace P. Smith, who went by the Tuttle surname, and other young boys. Horace was Elmer’s half-brother, the son of James Smith and Addie Mae.)
The reality is that Lewis and Addie Mae were divorced on January 31, 1902. Lewis had sued Addie Mae for adultery. Although more details are absent, Lewis and his second wife, Mildred Brown, were married five months later, on June 1, 1902.
Addie Mae died a very painful death due to complications from a severe pelvic inflammation and surgical shock on November 4, 1904, in Sacred Heart Hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire. It was not cancer, nor was it an STD as some might suspect.
My grandfather was nine years old when his mother died. It is unknown whether Elmer saw his mother beforehand.
Of course it is also not known whether Addie Mae’s family knew the cause of her death. Adults claim to know what is best for us. My grandfather Elmer loved his father deeply in spite of the shoddy treatment he was given as a child.
Lewis did not die until October 1958. He had had more than sufficient time to tell his son the whole truth. Sadly, he chose not to do so. Keeping secrets like this from children may not be such a good idea. On the other hand, genealogical records prove that all secrets cannot remain so.