Silence is Golden

Collaboration…the grownup word for sharing and Sesame Street’s “cooperation” lesson in the 1970’s is a fact of life for successful genealogists.  It’s that tiny tidbit of information…that magical morsel…that knocks down the brickwall haunting generations of researchers.   And frankly, this important discovery is going to let me do the “I told you so” dance. I will try not to gloat.  But just a little bit is okay…please forgive me.

I was the lone Tyler researcher that believed my 4th great grandmother was one ABILENA BARTLETT of Litchfield, Connecticut.  It was pretty much circumstantial, but the building blocks…the analysis and conclusion were pretty compelling and worth working to prove.  Long ago I had a hint that her sister was SILENCE BARTLETT.   It was in old Tyler notes in a handwritten file at the Cayuga County historian’s office.  No confirming proof.  Just a tentative, scribbled note by EVELYN TYLER next to Abilena/Abalena Tyler’s very brief statistics.

Sister of Silence Bartlett?  Jewett?

That was it.  Faint.  Barely discernible on my photocopy of untold generations of the original, but nothing should be ignored.  Especially when it was from a Tyler family member written in the last century.

A Debt Owed to an Old Veteran

I found a Silence Bartlett of Russia, Herkimer, New York…married to THOMASSilence Bartlett and Thomas Hubbart monument  Gravesville Cemetery Herkimer New YorkHUBBART/Hubbard and just went for it.  She was reported to be from Litchfield, Connecticut as was WILLIAM TYLER and his wife, Abilena.  And the Tylers were proved by New York and Connecticut documentation.  So close.  I was in and out of records in Herkimer county and Litchfield, but just couldn’t get that proof to connect the women.  And I was EVERYWHERE there was a Bartlett.  Wills, land records, censuses and all manner of local flotsam and jetsam.

And then it came to me.  Thomas Hubbart was of an age to be a Revolutionary War soldier!  And Silence had outlived him.  Ye Olde Widow’s Pension?  NARA – National Archives and Records Administration!  Be there!  PUH_LEEZE!  Oh, how I hoped for another building block.

Page after page I read through letters to the War Department that vouched for his participation, his identity and his dire need.  Seems the old boy suffered for decades and his doctor wrote of his terrible pain and resulting need for drink to ease his suffering…which contributed to his poor financial state.

On March 12, 1821 his physician and friend of twenty years, Westel Willoughby wrote to Secretary of War, J. C. Calhoun…

…have never known the time when he was able to pay me one dollar for my services, he has always been so poor that I never thought of making any charges against him –

…and nothing but the charity of the citizens, keeps him and his family from suffering for the most common necessities of life.  He like most of the old soldiers likes liquor too well, & has by intemperance materially injured his health, as well as invited his poverty.  From an injury he sustained during the revolutionary War in one of his leggs (sic) he is at all times disenabled (sic) from enduring severe hardships, and is at this time confined to his hovel, for such is the building that shelters him.

After old Thomas finally quit the earth, it was Silence’s turn to request a widow’s pension…and to prove her identity…and her marriage to Thomas.  And who vouches for Silence Bartlett Hubbart?  Why her dear sister, Abilena Tyler in Cayuga County.

A nation’s debt owed to an old soldier…and his widow, Silence Bartlett and a moment of inspiration to consider the history of the times, brought together the sisters Bartlett.

And so generations later, we descendants of William Tyler and Abilena Bartlett owe soldier and patriot Thomas Hubbart a grateful salute.


Deborah Martin-Plugh

Author, Historian and Genealogical Researcher

(c) Copyright 2012.  All Rights Reserved

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