Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday: Frances Levina Denison

Buried with her family and not her husband

The Story of Frances Levina Denison Burrows

Last child, late married, step-mother, widowed and buried apart

I was told that this woman, Frances, married Benjamin Burrows because he needed a mother for his children. No one told me she was his third wife!

My maternal grandparents must have known her as she lived until 1922. My grandfather gave my mother (in 1916), for her middle name, Frances, for this woman AND for his father's sister, Frances Stewart Miner. A "family-pleasing" name, which my mother hated.

The story of Frances is interesting because she transcribed the "Narrative of the Incidences in the Last War" from "the lips of my father" from a handwritten document by her older brother Rev. Frederic Denison to a typewritten format so it could be published in newspapers and sold as a booklet by the Denison Society.  The date of doing this is unknown.

Frances Levina Denison, youngest child of Isaac Denison, Jr. (1790-1855) and his wife Levina Fish (1794-1890) was born in 1836 when her father was 47 and her mother was 43.

She was most likely born in the old farmhouse of John Borodell Denison (1646-1698) because her parents didn't move to the house on Willow St. in downtown Mystic, CT until 1839 (source: plaque on house). How many of Isaac Denison, Jr and Levina Fish's nine children moved from the farmhouse at that time is not known but we know none of them was married before 1843. 

In this time period, it is important to have all your children married before you become too old, OR to have them living with you to take care of you in your elder years. Frances was saved from spinsterhood by a late marriage to a important man. It is important to note that Frances's oldest sibling also married a Burrows. Do you think this was an arranged marriage?

Frances was very close in age to my 2nd great grandmother, Eliza so I think of them as quite close. Eliza is the source for the handwriting of vital records in my family Bible.

Frances was 29 years old when she married Benjamin Burrows, Jr. in 1867. He was 52 and had been married twice before. His first wife must have died in childbirth along with their infant son but his daughter and son by his second wife lived to adulthood. When Frances married him, those children were 11 and 8. I wonder how they liked having a step-mother?

When Benjamin Burrows, Jr. died in 1894, Frances buried him with his second wife near his parents in the Benjamin Burrows Burying Ground. In 1900, Frances was living in the family home with her married step-son and his wife and daughter, Phebe, plus the unmarried step-daughter. This spinster outlived her step-mother and inherited the family home. Phebe was someone I knew!

Headstone of Frances Levina Denison Burrows, photo by Midge Frazel
Frances's brother, the Rev. Frederic Denison was a pastor in Westerly, RI in 1867 and married Frances to Benjamin. The only record of their marriage is in the Burrows genealogy and in the Hale Cemetery transcription of Elm Grove. It is fairly unusual to find a marriage date in that transcription (if it is not on the stone). I think he may have married them in Rhode Island.

As you can see, that date of marriage doesn't appear on the big stone or on the headstone. I had a date in my family Bible but I was surprised to see that same date recorded in the Hale transcription when I gathered information for this post.

Never stop looking for records and stories!

Robert Burrows and Descendants ( at Ancestry.com)

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