Saturday, November 5, 2016

Martha McBride Faulkner: Invisible Wife (52 Ancestors #2)

It irks me so that the women of former generations were, for all intents and purposes invisible. They
might well have been strong, opinionated, highly regarded citizens, but the history books record, for the most part, only the accomplishments of their husbands, fathers and brothers.

Such is the case of Martha McBride. Martha is my 3rd great grandmother on my paternal line. She was born about 1789 probably Ulster Co (now Orange Co), New York.

Martha first materialized to me when I was researching my 3rd great grandfather. Colonel James Faulkner. Originally I did not know her name. She was mentioned as "the wife and mother" in a biographical sketch on James. The obituary of my 2nd great grandfather listed her name as "Jane McBride", which was my first clue as to her surname. Another biographical sketch on James listed his wife as "Caroline".

It wasn't until I began to build James' family and research sideways that I discovered Martha. I was able to obtain death certificates on three of the children. Therein was listed the name of the mother: Martha McBride. Happy dance ensued. I had a name! A real name!

That euphoria was to be short lived.

Even with a name and a host of other information I still could not, can not, discover who Martha McBride really was.

The story of Martha can, sadly, really only be told through her husband.

Martha McBride was born about 1789, probably in Wallkill, then Ulster Co, New York. She met and married James Faulkner, son of an early pioneer family in the area, somewhere between 1811 and 1813. (James' uncle and father were well known military men and a couple of 'larger than life' characters in early Wallkill history.) Martha's family is unknown. Martha's new father-in-law owned 1000 acres of farm land, several hundred having been sold to her husband James just prior to the marriage.

Her early married life may have been busy and perhaps worrisome. Her new husband was the Justice of the Peace in Wallkill at the time of their marriage. When the War of 1812 broke out he was put in command of a regiment stationed on Staten Island. Meanwhile Martha was home caring for one or perhaps two babies, and running a farm. After the War, Martha's husband remained an officer of the State Militia.

The years of 1816 and 1817 found Martha's husband elected to the State Legislature, spending time in Albany NY. Meanwhile Martha was home, pregnant with twins, while caring for her two toddlers; and running a farm. (It is said Martha's husband was not reelected due to his siding with Gov. Clinton on the construction of the Erie Canal.)

The years between 1818 and 1826 found Martha pregnant three more times, the third pregnancy being another set of twins. Martha's husband began work as a county land surveyor and was "enjoying in a marked degree the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens", meanwhile Martha was home caring for 8 children; and running a farm.

By 1826 the Faulkners had begun to sell off their farmland, and by 1832 they began to plan a move to the wilderness of Michigan; and Martha had her ninth child.

bit of 1826 land sale record - note Martha only 'made her mark' - she probably could not read or write
Martha's husband purchased 600 acre of Michigan wilderness in 1833 in the area of Grass Lake, Jackson Co, Michigan. The move was soon to follow. The trip took 4 to 5 weeks, traveling by wagon with all they possessed. The Faulkner's were among the first to settle the area. By the fall of 1834 James had erected the first hotel in the new town, having cut the timber himself from the heavily forested wild land which, "he had improved from wilderness to fruitful fields". Martha had her tenth child.

In 1835 Martha had her eleventh, and final, child.

In April 1845 Martha lost her third daughter to complications of childbirth. Amazingly, all of Martha's children thrived and grew to adulthood. Only four of her children married, three daughters and one son, whom I descend from.

At Christmastime 1845 Martha departed the earth, she was only 56. I can find no obituary or death record. Her final resting place remains a mystery, but it is speculated she is probably buried near her daughter, most likely in the old Maple Grove cemetery.

In 1929 the courthouse containing all the early town records burned to the ground.

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