Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Mary Ricker, My Great-Great-Grandmother

Over the last few years, I've introduced you to some of my ancestors.  Last year, you met Isaac Winebrenner, Sr., who had the interesting distinction of being my Dad's paternal and maternal Great-Great-Grandfather.

You also met William Amos Troutman, my paternal Great-Grandfather. William was the illegitimate son of Amos Troutman and Mary Ricker.  Both Amos and Mary came from farming families in very rural Somerset County, PA.  Mary was 18 years old when William was born in 1876; Amos was 20.  Amos is the descendant of Wilhem Trautmann from Reichelsheim, Germany.  It was this lineage that took me to Reichelsheim last October when Kevin and I visited Germany.  I'll talk more about Amos and his family later - today is about Mary.

Mary Ricker, c. 1860
Mary Anna Mahulda/Mahalie Rickard (the spelling of her last name would change over time) was born in 1858 on her maternal grandfather's farm in the Northampton Township in Somerset County.  Her mother, Muhulda Bittner, was not married at the time, but eventually did wed Mary's father, Jacob Rickard, who immigrated from Prussia most likely during Germany's first efforts at unification.  From that marriage, Mary would eventually gain 3 brothers and 1 sister.  By the 1870 Census, two of the brothers and the sister had been born.  The census does not list Muhulda living with Jacob, but its possible she was living elsewhere awaiting the birth of the third son.  Muhulda's younger sister, Catharine Bittner, was instead living in Jacob's house, listed as a "keeping house", along with Margaret Rickard, age 31, assumably a relative of Jacob's, perhaps a younger sister.  So we can assume that Mary's parents got married sometime before 1870.

The actual relationship between Mary and Amos is lost to history.  We can assume (also from the 1870 Census) that the Rickards and the Troutmans were neighbors, since their names appear as Properties #93 and #95 respectively.  Because of this, Mary and Amos undoubtedly knew each other all their lives.  It's unknown if they were ill-fated lovers or if William was born from a one-night stand.  But it was not an uncommon practice in those days to name an illegitimate child after its father, and that's what Mary did when William was born in 1876.

Interestingly, when Mary gave birth to Harvey Walter Deal three years later in 1879, again illegitimate, she did not name him after the father, allegedly a man named Saul Deal.  It's unclear if Mary was just unlucky in love or if she was just a little harlot.  But by the age of 21, she had two children by two different men.  A distant cousin of mine who was Mary's niece, says that Mary "was indeed a bit of a wild thing".  Mary's tune apparently changed over the years because when a niece living with her became pregnant at the age of 16, Mary threw her out of the house.

Mary would eventually be made an honest woman in 1884 by accepting James Wilson Baker's hand in marriage.  Baker was 4 years her junior, being 22 to Mary's 26 (you go, girl!).  Interesting that it took Mary to the age of 26 to get married, encroaching upon spinster age.  Perhaps it was her reputation, or perhaps Jacob kept a tight reign on her.  So Mary left her father's farm with her two boys, ages 8 and 5, and moved to the farm Baker owned.  Baker must have been quite the honorable fellow.

By the 1900 Census, we can surmise that Mary's father Jacob had died since Mary's mother Mahulda was living with the couple, as did two additional female borders. The census also states that of the three children to whom Mary gave birth, only 2 were still living (William and Harvey).  So there was another child, but we don't know if that was Baker's child or perhaps yet another illegitimate child from before their 1884 wedding.

By the 1910 Census, Mary and Baker were still living on the farm.  The census records that Mary still only lists two surviving children, so it's safe to assume that Mary and Baker never had biological children of their own that lived. However the 1920 Census lists a 6 year-old an adopted son named Irvin Garlitz living with them.  No additional information is available about him.

James Wilson Baker died in 1922 at the age of 59, and Mary died in 1931 at the age of 73.  They are buried together in White Oak Cemetery, the same cemetery as William.  The tombstone James and Mary once shared has since disappeared.