My gg-grandmother Catherine Spaulding had 4 children. Because I have had very little luck tracing her and her husband(s) further back, I have focused a lot on those four children. They were Aunt Jennie, my g-grandfather Miles Baldwin Sr, Aunt Hattie, and an artist, William Blackstone Bennett.
Of the four, my mother probably knew the least about William, so everything I’ve learned is from research. He was the oldest, born to Catherine and a mysterious first husband, William or Thomas Bennett, in western New York around 1853. He was not with his mother and the subsequent husband in the 1860 census so I can only guess he stayed with his father after a divorce.
William was a painter (sometimes “portrait painter”; later “decorator”) and traveled extensively as a young man, to various parts of the world. That doesn’t fit well with what I know of Catherine’s life so I can only assume, again, that his father was the catalyst for this style of adventurous living. The first time I find him living with Catherine’s family is in an 1889 city directory in Newton, Mass.
He married for the first time, in 1890, a young woman from Digby, Nova Scotia named Harriet Ella Crosby. He and “Ella” became the parents of Jennie May Bennett in 1891. A second daughter born in 1895 lived for about nine months. In 1896, Ella died from consumption.
After this tragedy it’s unclear how William got through the next few years but I did see, on a GenealogyBank.com local news article, that Jennie May spent some time with her mother’s sister in Orange, Massachusetts.
William marries Sophia Gregoria Hayden
In 1900, William married again, to Sophia Gregoria Hayden. They were both residents of Winthrop, Mass. (a seaside section of Boston) but were married in Providence with Aunt Jennie’s husband, the judge, presiding. By that time, Catherine and her third husband were also living in Providence and were in attendance. I found the newlyweds, and Jennie May, in the 1900 census in Winthrop, living at 218 Shirley Street, and I was startled to see that the bride had been born in Chile.
Sophia Gregoria Hayden was born in 1868 in Santiago, Chile to a Peruvian mother (Elezena Fernandez Hayden) and a father (George Henry Hayden) who was a dentist from an old Massachusetts family. (Coincidentally, my mother is also descended from the Haydens, so there’s a distant connection). She was baptised on 25 Jan 1869 in Santa Ana, Santiago, Chile. When she was old enough to go to school, she was sent to live with her grandparents, George and Sophia Hayden, in Jamaica Plain, Boston, Massachusetts. When eventually her father and siblings moved to the U.S. and took up residence in Richmond, Virginia, she stayed with her grandparents.
I suspect that Sophia was remarkable from birth, and that is why she was sent to Boston for her education. She was smart and immensely talented. She graduated from Jamaica Plain High School in 1886.
Sophia was determined to pursue her dream of becoming an architect. Next time, the story of how she did that (article 2 in this series). This is a series of four articles, so there is also part three about Sophia’s experience at the fair, and part four about her subsequent life.