Back row-James Harrison Coombs, Sarah Frances VanSciver Coombs, Mabel VanSciver Coombs Sever, Newton Stockton Sever, Middle row-Susanna Fenimore, Caroline Drinker Fenimore Sayre, Elizabeth Fowler Coombs, unknown man, Front row-Helen Fowler Coombs Browne

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sarah Fenimore-Strength and Devotion




It's been so long since I wrote about my family.  I have been inspired by the 52 Ancestors challenge to write about an ancestor once a week for 52 weeks. There are so many stories to tell!

Since March is Women's History Month, I am writing about my third great grandmother Sarah Fenimore. She lived a long life filled with heartbreak and hardships, and I admire her strength and love for her family.
Sarah was born in Burlington County, New Jersey in 1793 to Joshua Fenimore and his wife Elizabeth.  In 1816, she married a cousin Daniel R. Fenimore.

I am lucky to have family information that was sent to my great grandmother before 1885 which document this family. Sarah and Daniel had 11 children between 1817-1836.  Their first born child, Maria, was my second great grandmother.  Five of their children died as babies and toddlers-Thomas, Isaac, Sarah J., Mary Boone and Daniel R.

Their last child Hannah J. was born in September of 1836 and in December of that year, Sarah's husband Daniel died at the age of 47. Sarah was left to raise 6 children on her own-Maria, Caroline, Henry, Susanna, Elizabeth and Hannah J. Sadly, Hannah died at age 17 in 1853.

Adding to Sarah's troubles was that Elizabeth was blind.  We don't know if she was blind at birth, but at a young age she was educated at a school for the blind in Philadelphia and eventually became a teacher there. Elizabeth died at age 32 in 1862. It is incredible to me that Sarah could get the education and training for her daughter in that time frame.  There were strong family ties in this Fenimore family as Elizabeth was left property and money from older Fenimore aunts-she is referred to as "the blind daughter of Sarah and Daniel" in their wills.

Susanna required special care throughout her lifetime as well.  We don't know what her exact problems were but she was always cared for by her mother and sisters. She had a son William S. Fenimore, out of wedlock in 1857.  After her mother Sarah died in 1878, she was cared for by my grandmother's family until her death in 1906.  Sarah Fenimore died in 1878 in Burlington New Jersey.  In her will, she made special provisions for her daughter Susanna and Susanna's son Will.

In every way possible, Sarah supported her children in ways that were not typical for the times.
A few years ago I made this tag for Mother's Day to honor Sarah. Her strength and devotion to her children continue to inspire me.








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