Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Woman in the Photograph

The woman in the photograph on the Betty's Genealogy Blog webpage clearly is not me, Betty, (unless I am some kind of time traveler--which I guess I am only in an academic sense!)  

This is a photograph circa 1860s-1870s of my great great grandmother CORDELIA RICKARD. 

It took me a number of years unravel the mystery of this woman in the photograph.  The photo, which is in a small antique frame, was handed to me in a large packet of family photos as my mother prepared to downsize into a smaller apartment.  My mother did not know the identity of the woman in the photograph, which appeared to be a paper copy of a tintype or daguerrotype.  The only clue she could provide was that the photograph was found amongst the few things that my great grandfather,  FRANK RICARD BROWN,  owned at the time of his death in the 1930s. 

There was no writing on the back, or any clue that would help identify it. 

Eventually I did begin to recognize a distinct facial resemblance to my grandmother's sister, GLADYS BROWN DRYDEN, and when I actually compared the two photos side by side, I was amazed to realize that this must indeed be a photo of my great great grandmother.

CORDELIA RICKARD's story is an immigrant's story, and a very interesting one at that.  She managed to cover a great deal of ground in her very short life.  

CORDELIA was born in about 1830 in or near Redruth, Kenwyn Parish, Cornwall, England, her parents being RICHARD RICKARD born about 1792-1795 , a victualer &  innkeeper by trade, and CORDELIA HICKS b 1792-1795, daughter of MARK HICKS & MARY GILL.  All are traceable in Kenwyn Parish birth, death & marriage records, and in English census records.  There were several other children in the family, their names being Emma, Richard Jr, Henry, Mark, Mary & Joseph. 

In about 1835, RICHARD RICKARD died, leaving his wife CORDELIA a single woman with seven  children, as is shown in the 1841 English census records. In July of 1845, CORDELIA HICKS RICKARD b 1792-1795 emigrated to the United States with her three youngest children, Henry, Joseph & CORDELIA b 1830. They booked passage on the ship "Henry Clay" which departed Liverpool, bound for New York (I think?). I have not yet been able to find much on this family after it arrived in the United States. CORDELIA HICKS RICKARD b 1792-1795 may have remarried or died before 1850. From a later obituary, I suspect she might have settled in Boston, MA.   Another son, Richard Rickard Jr, who was a miner by trade, would come a year or two later.

Five years later, in 1850,  my great great grandmother CORDELIA RICKARD b 1830 was living in Plattesville, Grant Co, Wisconsin.  She had just married WILLIAM HENRY F. MYERS, a German merchant, in January of 1850, and before the end of the year, she bore her first child, a lovely daughter EMMA MYERS. Cordelia's brother RICHARD RICKARD Jr, was also living in Platteville, Grant Co Wisconsin, and both can be found in the 1850 census records there. How or why they came to Plattesville from the east coast is a mystery to me.

Very shortly afterward, in perhaps spring of 1851, CORDELIA  and first husband MYERS followed the gold seeking hordes to California. They almost certainly came overland by wagon train. CORDELIA would have had a babe in arms, and one can only imagine the hardship of this journey.  

It is likely that her brother RICHARD RICKARD Jr also made the journey west at the same time, for he shows up in census records in California after 1850.

CORDELIA's first husband, WILLIAM HENRY F. MYERS, either died on the trail, or divorced or abandoned Cordelia after reaching Sacramento.  At any rate, Cordelia was a single woman"Mrs Cordelia Myers"  with a young daughter Emma when she met my great great grandfather, HENRY  "NEW HAMPSHIRE"  BROWN, who had come out to California from New Hampshire by ship during the 1849 Gold Rush with his brother STEPHEN GALE BROWN, who died shortly after arriving in CA.  Not having much luck as a miner,  HENRY (H N H) BROWN eventually became a clerk in one of D.C. Stanford's stores, then an independent merchant "Brown & Peck",  and then a Wells Fargo Agent. 

HENRY & CORDELIA  were married June 1, 1857 in Sacramento California.  They lived for a time at Salmon Falls, then in the town of Folsom, and then in  Sacramento. HENRY adopted EMMA MYERS, and the couple had another two children FRANK RICARD BROWN b Feb 5, 1858 Sacramento, CA,  and PHOEBE CORDELIA BROWN b April 12, 1868 Folsom, CA. 

CORDELIA RICKARD (MYERS) BROWN died January 1875 at age 45, most likely of tuberculosis. Her obituary in the Sacramento papers only states "Wisconsin & Boston papers please copy". She traveled from Cornwall, England across the ocean to the east coast of the United States,  then across the continent to California--a very long way, indeed for a woman of that time period.

I am very pleased to have finally found out the identity of the woman in the photograph, my great great grandmother, and to know her story.