I set out to determine if Edward Marden had a Native American wife. This will be a good time to review exactly what I have learned about his wives.
I am going to start with the last wife and work backwards.
Chloe Barnes was born about 1787 according to her own testimony. Her place of birth is listed as New Hampshire in the 1850 Census. She was married to Edward on or about 27-May-1831 at Lyman, NH by Cyrus Buckley, a local Justice of the Peace. Mr. Buckley did not record the marriage with the town clerk but we have his testimony as well as those of neighbors. The marriage took place at the home of John & Pamela Young about 11am with a number of local men working on the roads nearby stopping work to witness the ceremony. Chloe does not make any mention of having been previously married or having any living children, but her age suggests she could have been previously married.
Chloe was much younger than Edward and survived him by many years. I found her living in the household of Eber Eastman (age 44) in the 1850 Census of Lyman. I was unable to find her in the 1860 census. There is nothing to suggest she remarried, but this is always a possibility. She was still providing paperwork to the pension board in June of 1858. The pension file does not provide any clues as to when she died. Fitts states in the Marden Genealogy that a correspondent claimed Chloe d. 12-Nov-1871, but Fitts provided no evidence or details to back up the claim. This may be another Chloe known in the area, the widow of Hamilton Marden.
Sylvia Fitts makes these comments about Chloe in the Marden Genealogy.
Various personal corresp. have testified that his wife was an Indian. This would prob. (?) refer to the third wife CHLOE (BARNES) MARDIN?
If Edward Mardin’s [Sr.] 3rd wife was an Indian it seems logical that basket weaving as a craft would be known in the family.
In the last sentence, Ms. Fitts is commenting on the occupation of Edward Jr. and his son, Joseph, as basket makers. However, her logic makes no sense to me! Chloe did not marry Edward Sr. until 1831. I can confirm that Edward Jr. had moved away from Lyman as early as 1824 and is clearly established in Albany, VT by the time of the 1830 Census. When Chloe married into the family, Edward Jr. was a middle aged man with grown children. It hardly seems likely he would travel back to Lyman frequently enough to learn what was considered at that time to be a marginal occupation, basket making, from his new step mother. It’s far more logical to believe Edward Jr. learned basket making from his own relatives while growing up and passed it on to his own son while the son was still living at home.
I also want to make a another point about these statements from Ms. Fitts. The correspondence she refers to obviously does not name Edward’s “Indian” wife, since she say “prob. (?) refer to the third wife”. The correspondents are obviously repeating very generalized oral history to her and she is guessing about how the information fits into the known family!
My research to date provides no reason to believe Chloe Barnes was a Native American woman.
Charlotte was born about 1780 according to Edward’s statement in 1820 that his wife was forty. Her health was poor at that time. Her given name of Charlotte is found in the Grafton County deeds, but no prior surnames have been located.
Charlotte & Edward appear to have married between 20-Jul-1818 (when Edward sold land without any “release of dower”) and 20-Mar-1820 when she is listed as his wife in deeds. There is no evidence of any children by this marriage.
She may have some connection to a man named Charles K. White, trader of Lisbon.
Charlotte appears to be alive in July of 1830 when she released her “right of dower”, but not in May of 1831 when Edward remarried.
Edward Jr. appears to be living in Lyman in 1820 and his son, Joseph, would have been still at home. It is possible they learned basket making from Charlotte, but I have not discovered anything to suggest this is fact or that Charlotte was Native American. She certainly was not the mother of Edward Jr., as she was only 5 years older than he.
If Charlotte was Edward’s Native American wife, the couple had no descendants to carry on her blood line.
Mother of Edward
Edward’s first wife, the mother of his son, was born between 1755 and 1765, if she is the woman in all the census from 1790 to 1810 (there is always the possibility that Edward had more than one wife in this time period!). Since Edward’s son was born about 1785, I must assume the marriage took place at least by 1784. This fits well with Edward’s discharge from service in June of 1783. Now he was free to take a wife and start a family. Her death (or disappearance) occurred before Edward’s 1818 deed is written up with no “release of dower”. I have not been able to determine any more about this woman, not even a first name.
There is always a possibility she left him. If she was his Native American wife, she probably suffered bigotry and discrimination from neighbors while living with Edward. Once her son was grown, she might have returned to her own people and culture to live out her elder years. I have no evidence one way or the other - just pointing out we can’t simply assume she died.
I can place Edward Sr. in all the right places, at the right times to be in frequent contact with the local neutral or friendly Abenaki populations during the first four years of the war and for another year after the war. This is most likely how and where he met his Native American wife. However, since he was known in the wilderness settlements before the war, he may have already been friendly with the Native Americans of the Coos region. If his first wife was Native from this region, she would most likely be Abenaki.
His last two years of service were in western New York State where he may also have been in contact with Native Americans of the Iroquois Nations. He may also have encountered Iroquois on spying missions to the Montreal region during the war. It is not likely Edward took an Iroquois wife since the Iroquois were allied with the British during the war. But of course the heart does not always care about the politics of war, so I don’t want to rule it out completely.
If Edward Jr. learned the craft of basket making in a traditional manner, this would suggest the first wife was Edward’s Native American wife. If so, all the descendants of Edward Jr. can claim Native American ancestry.
It is my opinion that if Edward Marden did have a Native wife, she was his first wife and the mother of his son.
Sarah Elmers or Embers
I have not discussed this name in my previous posts, but this does need to be addressed. The records of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) have the name Sarah Elmers (at least one descendant has the name as Sarah Embers) as the mother of Edward and the only wife listed for Edward Sr. The DAR records show Sarah & Edward married in 1777 and Edward Jr. born in 1779. This information is now found repeatedly in family trees posted online - none of which contain any reference to the source of the information!
I asked a friend that belongs to the DAR to acquire copies of the actual submission for me. She seemed to think it was recent enough to have good documentation. Unfortunately it did not. The submission provided no source of any kind to back up any of the data concerning the first generation.
These DAR dates are very difficult for me to accept. Did Edward really take a wife while he was serving in the hotly contested Ticonderoga region during an active combat period? Such things did happen so it is not impossible, but seems rather irresponsible for a man of “Ranger” caliber.
I have already disproved the birth date of 1779 for Edward Jr. This date is not consistent with any other information I found about his age at various times throughout his life.
I have searched and found nothing to validate the name or the dates provided. Perhaps someone will someday come forward with documentation to support this. In the meantime, it is my opinion that at some point in the past a family historian that wanted desperately to join the DAR eventually gave up trying to document the first generation and out of sheer frustration resorted to making it up.
It is my opinion, Sarah Elmers does not exist and the dates provided to the DAR are not correct.
--- Now, I want to take a minute to stress ---
At this time, I have no first hand confirmation of any kind that any of Edward Marden’s wives were Indian. On the other hand, I have not uncovered any evidence that would rule out the possibility. In addition, I have discovered circumstantial evidence to support the possibility of a Native wife.
- Edward’s life experience as a young single man in the wilderness regions of the upper Connecticut River supports the possibility of a Native wife
- Edward Junior’s identification as a Basket Maker supports the probability of extensive contact with local Native people and in turn the possibility of a Native mother
In summary - at this time, it is my opinion Edward Marden Sr. could have had a Native American wife and she would probably be Abenaki.
Would anyone care to comment?