Just a short note about something I discovered recently while researching the family of my 5x great-grandfather Gordon Folsom (1878-1813).
The first child of Gordon and his wife Nancy Taylor (apparently a British immigrant) was their daughter Mary W. “Polly” Folsom (1806-1883). She married John Smith (1801-1883), a farmer from Cumberland, Maine who had been married previously.
John and Polly had two daughters. The first was Mary Elizabeth Wood Smith (1832-1841), who died at only 8 years old at the same time as her half-brother Franklin Smith. Their names are together on a shared tombstone in the Pine Street Cemetery in Auburn, Maine.
The second daughter was Helen Maria Smith. Helen was born 11 May 1834 in Danville, Maine. She married Seth S. Goss, a farmer from her home town, in Boston on 14 Jan 1854 when she was 19 and he was 25. It’s not hard to imagine them as childhood sweethearts, growing up together in Danville.
Then tragedy struck. Only a year and a half after their marriage, Seth died suddenly on 28 Jul 1855 at the age of 27. He was also buried in the Pine Street Cemetery, next to his sister-in-law whose tombstone we saw earlier.
Having lost her husband, Helen remarried to Josephus Bradford, a farmer who had immigrated from New Brunswick, Canada, to Calais, Maine with his family when he was just a young boy. The couple moved to South Berwick, Maine and had two boys: Clarence G. Bradford who was born on 17 Aug 1858, and Edgar E. Bradford who was born two years later on 4 Mar 1860. (Their birth years are reversed on FindAGrave.com, but all other documents list them as stated here.) Helen and Josephus also had another child who apparently died in infancy. The family is in the 186o, 1870, and 1880 census records for South Berwick, where Josephus is listed as a Farmer.
Helen saw a series of heartbreaks in her life: Her youngest son Edgar died on 23 Jul 1884 at the age of 24, her husband Josephus died on 31 Jan 1898 from a heart infection, and her other son Clarence died months later on 3 Sept 1898 from heart disease. All of them were buried in the Portland Street Cemetery in South Berwick, Maine. Helen is listed alone as a widowed farmer in the 1900 census for South Berwick. In the 1910 census she is living on Main Street, listed as a widow, and under occupation it says “own income”. I’m guessing she sold the farm and retied on the income from the sale.
Here’s the part that I find touching and interesting…
Helen lost her son Edgar in 1884, then lost her second husband and her other living son in 1898. Then in 1899 she took some of her money and purchased a marble obelisk and had it placed at the grave site of her first husband, Seth Goss. It is adorned with two intertwined ivy vines, which symbolize immortality and fidelity. The inscription reads:
“In loving remembrance, Seth S. Goss, June 20, 1828 – July 28, 1855, erected by Helen M. Goss Bradford, May 1899”
So 44 years later, her first flame still held that much of a special place in her heart.
Helen Maria Smith Goss Bradford died 20 Sept 1913 and was buried with her husband and sons in South Berwick, Maine.