Bachelors, Spinsters and History. Oh, My!

Normally research for a line goes on and on…and spreads out wide with each generation unless some catastrophic event wipes out or diminishes a family dramatically at some point. The family tree grows.

During the past few days I have been researching the descendants of James THRESHER and Almena SMITH of Cazenovia, New York through their daughter, Climena E. THRESHER.  Almena SMITH THRESHER is the sister of my 3rd great grandmother, Dorothy “Dolly” SMITH MARTIN.

As every family historian comes to know…”sideways” investigations…researching siblings of our direct descendants…can yield a vital piece of family information that would never have been found if we only work with our direct grandparents.  The Thresher descendants were a close knit group and each a distinguished and respected community member in the Cazenovia, Madison county, New York area.

James and Almena SMITH THRESHER had four daughters…Climena , Parmelia and Sarah Elizabeth and Mary THRESHER.


Climena THRESHER married Madison ELMORE and the couple had only one child, a son, James.

James ELMORE and his wife, Amelia AINSWORTH had three daughters Climena, Mary and Mabel. Only Climena ELMORE married.

Climena ELMORE and husband Frank W. LOOMIS had two children, Laura and Burton Elmore LOOMIS.  Neither Laura or Burton Elmore LOOMIS ever married.

Thus ended the line of THRESHERs through daughter, CLIMENA THRESHER.


Daughter Parmelia THRESHER and Ira SNOW  had three children, Sarah Jane, Elizabeth Parmelia “Libbie” and Franklin J. “Frank” SNOW. Only Sarah Jane SNOW married.

Sarah  Jane SNOW and Erastus SEYMOUR had five children. William Delos, Ira Wellington, Lillian Gertrude “Gertie”, Fannie H. and Henry J. SEYMOUR.  Only Henry married and had children.

The unmarried SEYMOUR siblings lived together until old age and were prominent in the education of the young people of the area.

DeRuyter Gleaner Oct 1941

When Parmelia SNOW SEYMOUR’s line began to die off – bachelor brothers William Delos Seymour in 1936, Ira Wellington Seymour in 1941 and spinster sister Lillian Gertrude in 1955,  only the youngest remained, Fannie H. Seymour MCPHERSON.  Fannie was a spinster until she married Ivan MCPHERSON at the age of 63.  When their brother, Henry had died in 1933, his siblings rallied around his widow, Harriet BUELL and their small children Marion Esther SEYMOUR and Mason Buell SEYMOUR.  Marion and Mason were practically raised by their father’s siblings.

Mason married a widow and there were no children. Marion was educated at some of the finest schools and I found no record of her marriage. In fact unmarried cousins Marion, Mason, Laura and Burton were the last of the descendants of Climena THRESHER and JAMES ELMORE.


Sarah married David P. Eigabroadt and the pair had three children, Edmund THRESHER EIGABRODT, Eva May EIGABRODT and Bell EIGABRODT.

Edmund married Florence SLOAN, but the couple had no children.  Eva May married Samuel F. BEARDSLEE and they had no children.

Sarah’s line continues on through just one of her children, Bell EIGABRODT. Bell married Henry Deloss RYDER.  The RYDERs moved to Boonville in Oneida county and  had two sons,  Donald EIGABRODT RYDER and Ronald Henry RYDER.  Donald and Ronald both married and had children.  Sarah’s blood line continues today in New York state.


I have tentatively identified Mary’s husband as Henry WHITE, but as of this post I am still trying to find Mary and determine what happened to her and if she had any descendants.  She is 17 years old in the US Federal Census living with her widowed father and older sister, Sarah in Cazenovia.


When I finally completed the lineage to modern day and sat back to analyze it all, it occurred to me that the tree was “upside down”. Throughout all of the research, the spinsters and the bachelors and the married folks with one or no children, each had remarkably active lives and were considered valued elders…pioneers of their community.

That left this researcher with a rich and comprehensive historical view of the entire family and its community from the early 1800’s to the late 1940’s.  Newspaper accounts of family events and lengthy and descriptive obituaries of a good life lead provided this researcher with an enviable pool of family data.  The THRESHER descendants…though they were bachelors and spinsters or childless were contributing citizens to their communities in central New York and proud of their family and its history.

I know many researchers see the unmarried or childless member of a family as a “dead end”, but as this case clearly shows, those folks are often the family custodians of history and are worth researching. Through them I was able to work backward to Almena and James and gain some unique knowledge to my 2nd great grandmother’s family members. The old pioneers were great storytellers and embraced their heritage and kept the family history alive as long as they drew breath. And when they left this earth…their obituaries in one final gesture told a history of generations past.

One of these days…I hope to explore Mary THRESHER to prove her history and perhaps find descendants  For now, I have an incredible picture of life in Cazenovia and Boonville, New York and the ELMORE, LOOMIS, SEYMOUR, SNOW and EIGABRODT families.  And the tantalizing adventure to find Mary THRESHER.

Deborah Martin-Plugh

Author, Historian and Genealogical Researcher

(c) Copyright 2012.  All Rights Reserved

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