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Identity of Mary MATHER / MATHERS (1772-1851)
Posted by: Rich (ID *****7093) Date: August 19, 2004 at 13:17:41
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James-6 Weston (1772-1841) is known to have married a Mary Mathers on 29 April 1792 in Rockingham, Windham Co., VT. But the identities of her parents has remained unproven. It is thought by some that she was the daughter of Zachariah MATHER and Lucy GAYLORD, but some recent research has lead me to believe that she was actually the daughter of Asaph MATHER and Sarah LAY.

The only source of the Zachariah attribution I have seen so far is an LDS Ancestral File. Unfortunately, the LDS file contains no documentary proof for the assumption that this Mary Mather is identical to our Mary Mather, and LDS files are notorious for inaccuracies since they are submitted by individuals and are not checked for accuracy.

Zachariah and Lucy had a daughter named Mary born 11 September 1772 in Torrington, Litchfield County, Connecticut. Asaph and Mary had a daughter named Mary born on 17 April 1773 in Lyme, New London County. Since neither date matches the date for our Mary, I have relied on other circumstantial evidence to conclude that it was Asaph’s daughter, not Zachariah’s, that married James.

First, there is no known geographic ovelap between Zachariah and James or his father Nathan. All of Zachariah’s children were born in Torrington. Asaph, however, had children born in Rockingham (1777) – where James married (and presumably met) his wife; in Schuyler, Herkimer County, New York – where James lived from about 1795 to 1809; and in Cayuga County, New York, where James moved in 1809.

Second, James Weston’s brother Joseph married a Lucinda Mather, and it was not at all unusual during this period for siblings in one family to marry siblings from another. But while both Zachariah and Asaph had daughters named Lucinda;. Zachariah’s daughter Lucinda married a David Leavenworth on 16 January 1794 in Torrington.

Third, the names chosen by James and Mary for their children reflect a much stronger family relationship with Asaph than with Zachariah. A usual naming practice at the time was to name the first children after their grandparents. James and Mary named their first daughter Hannah, after James’ mother; their first son Nathan after James’ father. The next son, Joseph, does not fit the pattern – there is no Joseph in either Zachariah’s or Asaph’s immediate families. But the attribution of Joseph as James’ son is far from certain, or, if he was James’ son, the date of birth attributed to him may not be correct; in fact, the only LDS source that mentions him states he was born in Marcellus, Onondaga County, New York. While it is the county next to Cayuga, it is two counties away from Herkimer where James was living at the time, I have seen no evidence supporting a conclusion that in between the births of two known children in Herkimer County, he chose for some reason to move and then move back.

The next documented son, if true to the pattern, should have been named for the maternal grandfather; and James and Mary named their next son Asaph, not Zachariah, arguing for the Asaph connection. In fact, they did not name any son Zachariah. The next daughter should have similarly been named Mary; and, to the detriment of my argument, I must admit she appears to have been named Lucy, which would argue for a Zachariah connection. But the use of Asaph over and in place of Zachariah seems to me to be disposition on this point.

Fourth, the names of the remaining children besides those named for the grandparents were often chosen from among the names of their aunts and uncles. As noted above both Zachariah and Asaph had daughters named Lucinda, and James and Mary named a daughter Lucinda. What tips the scales back in favor of Asaph, however, is that Asaph’s eldest son was named Reuben, and James and Mary named a son Reuben. James and Mary did not name any other child after any sibling on the Zachariah side.

Finally, Asaph was an early settler of Schuyler, Herkimer County, living there until his death in 1815. It would be very natural for James to have followed his father- and brothers-in-law there which is exactly what he did. Conversely, James never lived in Torrington where Zachariah lived, nor did Zachariah live in Rockingham or Windham County where James lived.

For all these reasons, I believe that it is much much more likely that Mary was the daughter born to Asaph and not to Zachariah. I'd welcome any thoughts or critiques.


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