The final 269 pages of George W. Oakley’s pension file hit the porch with a resounding “thud” yesterday. Included in this set of papers are the interviews with Edith. They had interviewed her twice, 11 pages total, the first time March 7, 1918 and again March 29, 1918. It had been almost 2 years since George had died and she had just sold the house in order to survive. I thought it was time to let her tell her side of the story:
Case of Edith C Oakley
On this 7 day of March, 1918, at Olean, county of Cattaraugus, State of New York, before me personally appeared Edith C. Oakley, who being by me first duly sworn to answer truly all interrogatories propounded to her during this special examination of aforesaid claim for pension, deposes and says;
My age is 65 years, and I was 65 yesterday. I was born March 6, 1853.
Occupation, housekeeping for self and do a little sewing.
P.O. Olean, Cattaraugus County, New York, 315 Irving Street.
I live here alone and support self on proceeds of sale of this house. My full, true and correct name at this time is Mrs. Edith Catherine Oakley. I never had any other first name of nick name. I am claiming a pension as the legal widow of George W Oakley who served in Co. F, 90 N.Y. Inf. And was a pensioner at the time of his death here on the second day of June 1916. Proof of his death has been furnished in this claim. Copy of death record was filed. His full, true and correct name was George W. Oakley, and he was generally called George by those who knew him best, and never bore any nick name. I have here his original discharge. He was not in any other service, military or naval, so far as I know or ever heard. He died here in this house and I have continued to redie here since his death and have not remarried.
Q. When and where did you first become acquainted with him?
A. In this place, Olean in 1889, I came here on business and met him and think it was on the 4th day of July 1889. I was here and was with some one and he was introduced to me, and I remember he told me he was tierd as he had just been to Machias, N.Y. to see his wife Lizzie who was in the County Poor house and was confined there as she was insane, and he told me then that he had carried her a pair of slippers. He told me then that she was violently insane. He then owned a home on Clinton Street in this Village and some of his children lived with him then.
In March following my first meeting him, which would be March 1890, I became his housekeeper and was his housekeeper until we were married. We were married in the Village of Allegany, this County, and I have here our Marriage Certificate showing our marriage on the 19 day of July 1891, by W. H. Kellogg, Pastor of the M.E. Church and Witnesses were Mary E Kellogg and C. W. Alexander.
Mr. Oakley and I drove from his home here in Olean to Allegany one Sunday afternoon and were ceremonially married as shown in that Certificate, and we returned to his home. I was given the certificate of marriage shown to you on the day of our said marriage, and Mrs. Cobb a Notary here sent to the Church and procured a copy of the Church record of my said marriage and sent it to the Bureau of Pensions in this claim. We continued to live together as husband and wife, without separation or divorce, until his death here. No child born of our said union. My maiden name was Tyrell and I had never married to any man before my marriage to George W. Oakley. My parents were Andrew Tyrell and Mary Graley, or Graylee, as that was her maiden name, and both were born in Ireland, and came (to) Canada before they were married, and think they were married in St. Catherines, Canada. I understand that I was born at Youngstown, Niagara County, New York, which was across the River from St. Catherines, Canada. I know of no record of my birth, unless possible there was a Baptismal record. I was baptized when about two years old as I heard my mother say and by a Priest named Father Ryan, but I do not know whether that was at Youngstown, N.Y. or St. Davids or St. Davits, Canada. My parents lived at the latter place after my birth, I thin I was 3 or 4 years old when we as a family moved from there to a place some miles out from Brantford, Canada, and our goods were shipped to a station on Railroad called Paris, and we lived out in the country near a little Village called Scotland, and I went to school in the said Village, and there was where I left home and parents which was about 1871, and when I was about 18 years old. My parents had the following children in the order of birth: Mary Jane; Elizabeth; and then I came next; John Clement; Andrew, and Thomas Barnard. After I had left home some 3 or 4 years I heard of the death of my father there near Scotland, Canada. Later I heard that the remainder of the family had moved out West, and I supposed to Manitoba, and Winnipeg was the Capital. I have not the least idea what place they went to or whether or not any of them are living. My oldest sister married Malcolm Eddy who had been a soldier in the Civil War in the States here. They lived near Scotland when I left home, and think she was married near Scotland, Canada. They had two sons named John and Charles. I don’t think the Eddy’s moved West, as he had relatives there, and he was a blacksmith, and had a number of brothers and sisters and I knew Amanda, Louise, Mary Ann, Wilber, Judson. After I left home about 1871 I never saw any of my people, and had but one letter from any of them other than brother John, and he wrote me asking me to return home. I was then in Orleans Co. N.Y. at Albion. That was when I was about 24 years old. I have not that letter now. I learned through Abram Cook, a lawyer then at Mount Pleasant, Canada, that my people had removed West. He was a cripple and knew my people and knew me in Canada. I met him in Brantford, Canada and asked him about my people and think he told me they had gone to Manitoba. Mount Pleasant was between Scotland and Brantford. There were a large family of Malcolm’s and Merritt’s and Eddy’s and other at and about Scotland. I remember Rev. James Montgomery, Pastor of the Baptist Church in Scotland where I used to attend. No Catholic Church or school there then.
On leaving home I went to the City of Hamilton, Canada, and I hired to a dress-maker and clerked in a Variety store, as she was in that business, and stayed there quite a while, can’t remember how long I worked for Mrs. Collins and think her place was on Adlaid Street. I suppose she is dead. I think she was married, but (her) husband was a drinking man, and of little help to her. I think her first name was Mary, but do not recall his first name.
I don’t think I was there over a year. Well, I was in Toronto, Canada, and back in Hamilton at times, and then in Chicago and Buffalo, and came from Buffalo, N.Y. to this place and met and married the soldier.
Q. By whom can you prove that you were never married before your marriage to the soldier? There is no proof at this point:
A. Well, I don’t know that I can name any one by whom I could prove it, but I am positive I was never married but the one time.
Q. It is not believed that you can not give names of living persons at the places you lived after leaving your home until you came here, and who would know of your marital condition during some portion, if not all, of that period, which was from about 1871 to 1889.
A. Well, there is something connected with my past life that I had rather not tell, but it may be best in this case to tell you the truth, and it is as follows: while in Hamilton, Canada, I met and became acquainted with a young man named Thomas Erastus Harbottle, a Clerk in Hamilton Post Office at that time, and we became intimate and I had a child by him, but was not married to him. The child was a girl and named Gertrude born on the 11 of June 1876, in Hamilton, Canada, and at the home of a Mrs. Hibbard, widow. Lived in the West part of that City. I kept the child until she was 4 months old, and then put her out to board on the Mountain out about 5 miles from Hamilton with a lady named Mrs. Edward Keef. They kept her until she was 7 or 8 years old, when Mr. Keef brought her to me in Buffalo, N.Y. and I soon entered her in the Episcopal Home, April 13, 1885. The Episcopal Church Home was the name, and she was entered under the name of her father, that is, as Gertrude Harbottle, aged 8, under or as an orphan. Mrs. Pool of 17 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, stood as god-mother for Gertrude when she entered said Home. I think Dr. Howard was the Minister in charge. When about 13 years old Gertrude went to Mrs. Pool died, and then Gertrude went to live with a widow named Mrs. George Hume in Buffalo. I have not seen her since she was 13 years old, and I do not know whether she is living and don’t know any more about her now than you do. She was never here in Olean, I have, and you may find persons here who will say that I was previously married, as I represented to some when I came here that I was divorced from a former husband. While I told some people that I was a grass-widow when I came here I told the soldier all the facts and he knew them just as I have told you. He knew I had the child Gertrude, but he never saw her. We thought when we married that Gertrude would come on here to live with us, but she never did.
I show you a pamphlet entitled “Church Home Quarterly” dated July 1885, published by the Episcopal Home, Buffalo, N.Y. wherein it is shown that seven children were entered in that home from March 25 to May 5 in the “Orphan Ward – Admissions”. And that the name of my said child was given as “April 13, Gertrude Harbottle, aged 8”.
Harbottle was 3 years younger that I, and was a son of Captain Harbottle who lived in Hamilton. I have not seen Harbottle since Gertrude was 4 or 5 years old. Yes, he recognized Gertrude as his child, contributed to her support. He was in Hamilton the last I ever heard of him.. I don’t think whether or not he is living. His father was a Lake Captain and Tom Harbottle was on the lake the last time I ever heard of him. Oh, I must have been in Hamilton some 5 or 6 years altogether. I was in poor health for some years and was sick and in the Ingleside Home at Cold Springs in Buffalo, N.Y. and was a Home for women who had be unfortunate, and was in that Home from the time Gertrude was brought to me by Keef(f), and had been there long before, and was there when Gertrude entered the Episcopal Home for a time afterward, altogether 3 or 4 years as well as I remember. I was treated in the Buffalo General Hospital for 2 months after Gertrude entered the Home. Harbottle and I never lived together and he was not my husband, though he paid my board at Mrs. Hibbard’s home. I know Mrs. Hibbard is not living. She had a son, but he was not with her. Young Dr. James White of Hamilton attended me when Gertrude was born. He may be living. Harbottle wanted me to go with him to Buffalo and marry him before Gertrude was born. No Sir, I was never married to him. Well, he was too young to marry me. He was a single young man in good standing. I was about 23 years old when Gertrude was born. He was 3 years younger. Yes it is true that I went to Hamilton on leaving home and made that place my home until I went to Buffalo, N.Y. and I made my home in those two places most all the time until I came here in 1889.
To be continued…..