Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My 19th Century Desperate Housewife

While researching our families, genealogists hope to be able to find information about our ancestors which will shed some light on who they were and how they lived. We are looking for more than just a bunch of dates. We want to know a little bit about our ancestors' personalities.

Sometimes a review of the records can provide answers. Or more questions.

Elizabeth Saphronia Rayson was born 4 July 18501 to Thomas and Joanna Rayson. She was married twice and had twelve or thirteen children. When I was researching her children I came across an interesting entry in the Ontario Vital Registrations, which has lead me to believe that Elizabeth may have been a 19th Century Desperate Housewife.

Elizabeth was married to John Henry Schram (1851 - 1885) on 19 October 18702 in Crowland Township, Welland, Ontario, Canada. Together, they had the following children:
William Henry (1872) - Gainsborough Township, Welland County3
George Emery (1874) - Gainsborough Township, Welland County4
Mary Jane (abt. 1875)5
Sarah Jane (abt. 1875) Twins5
Frederick (1878) - Gainsborough Township, Lincoln County6
Eliza Ann (1879 - 1880) - Gainsborough Township, Lincoln County7
Justus Aylmer - ????
James Oliver (1883) South Walsingham Township, Norfolk County8

A birth registration for Justus Aylmer cannot be found in the Ontario Birth Registrations.
However, on 30 March 1881, Elizabeth Schram gave birth to a stillborn male child9. No father listed, instead Illegitimate is written on the record. The birth was registered by Peter Schram. The birth was registered in Charlotteville Township, Norfolk, Ontario.

Elizabeth was married to William Eugene Ryckman (1851 - 1921) on 5 November 1885 10.
They had the following children:
Harman Eugene (1886 - 1954)11
Edward Augustus (1888 - 1942)12
Ernest Cecil (1891 - 1962)13
Joanna Isavilla (1893 - 1963)14

The 1881 Canada Census Index lists the following occupants in the household of Henry Schram5:
Henry, age 30
Elizabeth, age 28
William, age 8
George, age 7
Mary, age 5
Sarah, age 5
Frederick, age 3
Baby Schram - born Mar
Catherine, age 72

The family is living in Gainsborough, (formerly in Lincoln County) Monck County, Ontario.
The 1881 census was taken 3 April 1881.

In Charlotteville, Norfolk County, a 30 year old William Rightman (Ryckman) is in the household of Harman Rightman (Ryckman), his father15.

Sometime between the census in April 1881 and the birth of youngest son, James in December 1883, Henry Schram and family move to Walsingham, South Walsingham Township, Norfolk County.

A few years later, Henry Schram dies of chronic diarrhea on 4 February 188516. His widow, Elizabeth was married to William Eugene Ryckman on 5 November 1885.

A quick review of the facts:
No birth registration found for Justus Aylmer Schram.
Elizabeth Schram has stillborn male child on 30 March 1881 in Charlotteville, Norfolk County.
William Eugene Ryckman is living in Charlotteville, Norfolk County at the time of the 1881 Census which was taken on 3 April 1881.
Henry Schram and family are living in Gainsborough, Monck (Lincoln) County at the time of the 1881 census. Elizabeth and Baby Schram are enumerated with this family.
Henry Schram dies in February 1885.
Widow Elizabeth Schram marries William Eugene Ryckman in November 1885.

Why does Elizabeth Schram have a stillborn male child in Norfolk County when her husband and family are living two counties away in Lincoln (Monck) County?
Why is the child registered as stillborn? Was the child really stillborn? No death registration can be found to match.
Why is the father not listed?
If the male child was really stillborn, then why is there a male infant child enumerated in the household of Henry Schram in 1881?
Can you travel from Norfolk County to Lincoln County, after giving birth, in only four days?
Peter Schram is the informant on the birth registration. Is he Henry's brother?

Hmmm... Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

This is what I'm thinking:
Baby Schram and Justus Aylmer Schram are the same person.
Elizabeth Schram and William Eugene Ryckman were well acquainted with each other in 1880-1881.
William Eugene Ryckman is the actual father of Justus Aylmer Schram.

More Questions:
What kind of relationship did Henry and Elizabeth have?
Was he mean? Was he an alcoholic? Did he beat his wife?
What kind of wife was Elizabeth? Was she mean? Was she never home? Was she unhappy?
Did she seek the love of another man? Was that man William Eugene Ryckman?

I don't know. I can only guess what may have happened between Elizabeth, Henry and Eugene.
I'm not inferring that my 2nd great-grandmother was a loose woman. Instead I think she was a lonely woman looking for a little bit of attention and love which she did not find with her husband, Henry.

What do you think? Was Elizabeth Saphronia Rayson Schram Ryckman a 19th Century Desperate Housewife?

All sources for this post will be provided upon request.