Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Weekly Puzzle - When is a Spinster Not a Spinster

Well, after a week off to spend time with living relatives...very cute granddaughters no less, it is time to pose a new puzzle.  But unlike the other puzzles posted here, I have the answer to this one.

Take the case of Jane Trindle found in Lugen Pennsylvania in 1828 listed as a spinster.  Is this the missing wife of David Trindle, who died in 1814 a victim of the rigors of the war of 1812.

Jane and David's supposed son John was married in Chambersburg with like Lugan is in Franklin County in 1831.  Lugen is within 40 miles of Trindle Springs where David grew up, the youngest child of John Trindle and Margery McQuisten.  But the listing as spinster gets in the way.

The answer comes by delving deeper.  In 1821 Jane is again found in Lurger, but this time she is listed as both a widow and a spinster.  Obviously, spinster does not mean an unmarried woman in this case.

The Marian-Webster Dictionary puts the correct definition first....a woman who's occupation is to spin thread or yarn. Other dictionary's are not so helpful.

Wikipedia offers the following .... "spinster, or old maid, is an older, childless woman who has never been married. A "spinster" is not simply a "single" woman, but a woman who has not formed a human pair bond by the time she is approaching or has reached menopause and the end of her reproductive lifespan."  I would guess that they did not consult the many marriage records where a woman was listed as spinster and then has a child a few months later.

By far the most interesting definitions of spinster are found in the Urban Dictionary.  But the most useful in our case might be those that state a spinster is an older woman who is unmarried, including widows and divorcees.  With this definition Jane can be a spinster twice over and a widow to boot.

But back to Jane. It does seem that this is the wife of David and it is nice to see that by 1842 she no longer has to earn her living spinning and instead is listed as a lady.

How many times do we pass by a record, thinking that it can't possibly be the right record.  I this case the word spinster might have kept us from finding Jane in Franklin county.  That presence provides enough circumstantial evidence to believe that the otherwise undocumented connections of John R. Trindle to David are correct.

I am patiently waiting for the War of 1812 pension records for Jane to be digitized.  We know she received a pension and also was awarded bounty land  in 1853 under authority of the September 28, 1850: ScripWarrant Act of 1850 (9 Stat. 520) and again  in 1858 under authority of the March 3, 1855: ScripWarrant Act of 1855 (10 Stat. 701) for David's service with Captain Dunns Company of the Pennsylvania Militia.  

Perhaps the pension files will finally give a clue to her parentage.

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