Monday, June 23, 2014


When I start a new research project, I flip through the pile of photos in my rescue box and look for something to pull me to a particular photo for that day.  Today this photo caught my eye because of the necklace draped over the collar of this lady's blouse.  I thought at first it was a locket, but when I pulled out a magnifying glass and studied it closely, I think it is instead a coin or medallion of some kind that is suspended not from a necklace chain but from a chain attached to a pin at the collar.

The young lady's profile looks so serene, her hair tucked back into a chignon looking so elegant.  The photograph was taken at Swarthout Studio in Ludington, Michigan, I'm guessing about 1890.  The identification on the reverse reads "Maude Bristol Gilbert, Warren's wife".

Elegant and serene is not what I found as began digging in the records.

Maude Eleanor Bristol was born July 1, 1876, in Ludington, to parents Peter M. and Rebecca Jane (Fuller) Bristol.  When she was 18, she married a local saloon keeper, Warren Joseph Gilbert, seven years her senior, on March 6, 1895.  Ten months later, Maude gave birth to their only child, Norman Jay Gilbert.

The marriage did not last very long.  On April 28, 1899, Maude was granted a divorce on the grounds of desertion and non support.  Ironically, her ex-husband died a few months later, on August 9, 1899, of "congestion of liver" (cirrhosis) and "hemorrhage of bowels".

Maude did not let grass grow under her feet, because before the year was out she married a mill worker, William Alexander, on November 30, 1899.  She and her new husband and her 4 year old son are living in Lake Ann, Benzie County, Michigan, when the census was taken in 1900.  Again she married an older man, ten years her senior.  She and William had two daughters, Margaret Jane and Helen Irene.

Maude's second marriage was also brief.  By the 1910 census she had been widowed and is shown as head of a household including 13-year-old son Norman, 9-year-old daughter Margaret, 6-year-old daughter Helen and her mother, Rebecca Bristol.  Maude is employed as a factory laborer.  This census records gives us the information that Maude had given birth four times and 3 of the children were still living.  A check of the Michigan death records reveals that Maude gave birth to a son, Luther Alexander, in 1902, who died at the age of 1 on September 17, 1903.

Maude married yet again, on December 9, 1910, to retired farmer William H. Bush.  This time there was a 30 year age difference and she was again widowed by the time of the 1920 census.  Another daughter, Ruby, had joined the family about 1913.  At the time of the 1920 census, Maude is living with her 3 daughters, ranging in age from 19 to 7.  Son Norman had married in 1917.

Maude seems to have remained unmarried the remainder of her life.  In 1930, she and her youngest daughter Ruby, then 17, are living with the family of her son Norman.  Maude is working as a practical private nurse.

The last mention I find of Maude is a newspaper item, found in a personals column, which mentions that Mrs. Maud Bush of Traverse City had spent the previous 10 days visiting her daughters, Mrs. Lloyd Schumaker and Mrs. Russel Bluckner, before leaving for Ann Arbor to receive medical treatment at University Hospital.  This item was printed on March 12, 1934, and somewhat a foreshadowing.  Maude died on January 27, 1935, and is buried in the Lakeview Cemetery of Ludington, Michigan.


1 comment:

  1. Maude is my great great grandmother. I'd love to give this photo to my grandma (her granddaughter).