Friday, November 1, 2013

Lydia Stewart Tanner: A Short But Useful Life

I am continuing to write Life Sketches for entries in FamilySearch Family Tree. Here is the biography for Lydia Stewart Tanner, the wife of John Tanner.

Lydia Stewart was born on November 18, 1783. Her oldest son's death record states that she was born in Greenwich, New York. There was no Greenwich in 1783, so if she was born in the area, it would have been in Argyle, Charlotte County, New York.

Lydia’s parents, William Stewart and Amy Huntington or Hutton Stewart, probably migrated from Massachusetts to the new settlements in Charlotte (later Washington) County, New York, in the late 1700s. They settled in the town of Argyle, later Greenwich. Many of the settlers of the area, including the Stewarts, were staunch Baptists or Seventh-Day Baptists.

Lydia married John Tanner in 1801 after his first wife died in childbirth. She was the mother to one stepson, Elisha, and twelve children: William, Matilda, Willard, Sidney, John Joshua, Romelia, Nathan, Edward, Edwin, Louisa Maria, Martin Henry, and Albert. (Some sources list a thirteenth child, Pardon, but we have not yet seen any contemporaneous family documentation, and histories including that of Francis M. Lyman do not mention him.) Elisha and eight of her children lived to adulthood.

Around 1818, after the death of their twins Edward and Edwin, Lydia and John moved about 40 miles to settle on the west side of Lake George, first to the North West Bay, then to the town of Bolton. There, through their hard work, they built a beautiful home and owned many acres of timberland. John and his sons would have kept busy with raising stock and dairy herds, lumbering, processing timber, growing and maintaining orchards, and running a hotel. Lydia would have kept busy raising her large family, spinning yarn, weaving cloth, and helping run the hotel. Her son Nathan said, “In those days women turned the wheel by hand or foot that spun our yarn and made our cloth. We were a hard working and hard handed family. None of our means was willed to us, but earned by hard work and economy. My father used to say he enjoyed accumulating property around him, and if it could be spent wisely, it would prove a blessing. If spent otherwise, it would prove a curse.”

Lydia may have suffered complications from the birth of her last child, because two months after Albert was born, she died at Bolton, Warren, New York on May 31, 1825. She is buried in the Bolton Rural Cemetery. Her gravestone says: “Lydia Tanner, consort of John Tanner, who died May 31st 1825, aged 41 years, 6 months & 13 days.”

Both of her parents died after she did and are buried in the cemetery of the Bottskill Baptist Church in Greenwich, New York.

Several years after her death, her husband and his third wife, Elizabeth Beswick, and many of her children joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) and moved west. But not all of them helped settle the West; some remained in New York and Ohio. By the time her children died, their families stretched from New York City to California. Many of her descendants have given years of service to the Mormon church, both in leadership and missionary work, including four who served as apostles: Francis M. Lyman, Hugh B. Brown, Richard R. Lyman, and N. Eldon Tanner. Lydia Stewart Tanner’s descendants have left a legacy of intelligence, service, and devotion.

Picture of Lake George from Wikipedia. The 1796 map of the Lake George area is from David Rumsey Maps. 1820 United States Census from Bolton, Warren, New York from FamilySearch. Picture of Lydia's gravestone courtesy of Thomas Dunne at FindAGrave.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting and concise. I'm impressed with the breadth of information you included in such a short sketch. Well done!