Samuel and Emily (Green) Wallace of Monson, Massachusetts, Part 1

SAMUEL WALLACE was born about 1811 in Monson, the son of James and Nancy Wallace. Samuel was the second generation of Wallace’s living in Monson. There were 31 black individuals in Monson when Samuel was born, a small number for this rural community. Samuel had at least two sisters and two brothers, and he was the second oldest.

When Samuel was born, James Madison was President, and was elected to his second term in 1812. Our relationship with Great Britain was strained as Britain had seized over 4,000 American sailors, and trade between the two countries came to a halt. By 1812, we were once again fighting Great Britain. The War lasted for two years, and the United States was clearly established as an independent country upon its conclusion.

Indian chiefs Tecumseh and his brother, The Prophet, were trying to unite various tribes of Indians to fight the whites and maintain their lands. They were defeated at the Battle of Tippecanoe (Lafayette, Indiana) by William Henry Harrison, then the Governor of Indiana and a future President.

Samuel married EMILY A. GREEN on March 7, 1838 in Monson. She was born about 1811 in Ashford, Connecticut. Although no record of her birth was found, Ashford was referred to as her place of birth on multiple records related to her children as they stated the place of birth of their mother. I could not find information on her parents, but there was one black household by the name of “Green” in Ashford – Major Green. I have not been able to determine their relationship.

Samuel was a lifelong resident of Monson, and was listed in the all the federal and state censuses from 1840 until his death. His occupation was listed as a laborer or farmer, and records list him as black. He and his wife purchased and sold property in Monson. He first purchased land in September 1832, and he and his wife continued to purchase small plots of land, or sell land, or use land as collateral for loans for themselves. In March 1887 Samuel and Emily sold 7 ¾ acres to the town of Monson for $150 reserving the right to live in the premises as long as they were living. They still owned land at the time of their death.

Samuel died on March 14, 1888 from paralysis. He was 77 years of age. He is buried in Hillside Cemetery in Monson in an unmarked grave.

Samuel’s will was prepared and signed two days before his death. Samuel left all his property and estate to his wife Emily, who was to be sole executor. However, Emily died shortly after Samuel. Edwin R. King, Samuel’s son-in-law, was appointed administrator February 8, 1889. Assessment of the property was valued at $400 real estate – 15 acres plus building, and $5 personal effects. Debts amounted to $229.05 – mostly medical and funeral expenses. The property was sold to satisfy debts and the balance was divided among living children.

Emily was able to purchase real estate in her own name in 1848 and 1867, somewhat unusual for a married woman. The land purchases were small plots adjoining their current home. The pension records for her son James stated that she worked for the parents of George H. Norcross for years. George H. Norcross’s father was said to be a prominent man and manufacturer in Monson. Census records indicated that she worked as a “washerwoman” or laundress. She owned a plot at Hillside Cemetery with her daughter, but there is no record of burial there. It is possible that there was a relationship between Emily and Prince Powers or his wife, Betsy Damon. Prince and Betsy were both living in Ashford when Emily was living there, and were listed in the 1840 Monson census living adjacent to Samuel Wallace. Samuel was involved in selling the Power’s property following his death in 1863. Records list Emily as black.

Emily died between March 14, 1888 and February 7, 1889. There is no record of her death and her place of burial has not been located. Her parents, or other family members, have not been identified.

Samuel Wallace and Emily A. Green had at least 15 children:

1. SAMUEL WALLACE JR. was born in 1833 in Monson. On February 19, 1855 he married Sarah Jane Porter. They had at least three children: Isabella who died shortly after birth, Lyman who also died as a child, and Harriett who lived to adulthood.

By 1860 Samuel Jr. and Sarah were living in Palmer. In 1870 they were living in Springfield, and owned real estate valued at $1,000 and personal property valued at $500. They were living in the same house as William Mason and his wife Jane, and had three white boarders. Samuel Jr. and William were both couriers, and Sarah worked as a domestic servant. By 1873 Samuel Jr. and Sarah had moved back to Palmer.

Samuel Jr. served in the Civil War. He enlisted July 26, 1864 after being drafted to fill a quota for the Palmer 10th congregational district. He originally enrolled as a private in the Massachusetts 54th, and was then assigned to I Company, Massachusetts 55th Regiment on October 23, 1864. These were both all black regiments. He was mustered in at Boston and mustered out on August 29, 1965 at Charlestown, South Carolina. Samuel’s occupation at enlistment was a courier, and he was 32 years old. Military papers described Samuel Jr. as 5’11” tall, with dark hair, dark eyes, and dark complexion. He received a $300 bounty for enlisting – $100 received at enlistment and $200 at discharge.

Prior to his work as a courier, he worked as a farmer and laborer. In 1873, Samuel Jr. was working as a brakeman on the railroad. Samuel Jr. was 43 years old when he died on March 5, 1876 from consumption (tuberculosis). Samuel Jr. is buried in the Palmer Cemetery and his grave is marked by a gravestone. His wife received a widow’s pension of $8/month beginning August 19, 1890. By 1912 that had increased to $12 per month.
Sarah owned her home at 17 Pine Street in Palmer. She was 81 years old when she died January 27, 1913 from an intestinal obstruction, and is buried in the Oak Knoll Cemetery in Palmer.

2. BABY BOY WALLACE was born in 1835 and died on 22 Oct 1839 in Monson at four years of age.

3. SARAH M. WALLACE was born November 4, 1837. Her tombstone says that she was born November 4, 1840; however, her younger brother James was born June 11, 1840 so that cannot be correct. Her marriage record states that she was 24 at the time of her marriage in 1861, and the 1900 Federal Census states that she was born in 1837.

In the 1855 Massachusetts State Census, Sarah was found living in Northampton with other single individuals, and “convict” was indicated for those individuals. Her brother James was found in the House of Corrections in Springfield for the same year. I have found since I wrote about James last week that the term does not necessarily mean they were incarcerated, but might have been receiving housing and services because they were indigent. Terms used in 1855 were not always used the way we would use them today.

Sarah married George Pascal Law on September 14, 1861 in Palmer. George was a porter at the time of his marriage. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on July 16, 1863 as a sailor during the Civil War,  and was discharged August 15, 1864. He served as a waiter on the ships Wabash and Augusta Dinsmore.

Following the Civil War Sarah and her husband moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts. In New Bedford George worked as a shoemaker, a shirt cutter, a foreman in a laundry, and a clerk. He also received a pension from the Navy for his Civil War Service.

George died January 31, 1899 in Wareham, Massachusetts from inflammation of the bowels. He was 58 years old. Following George’s death, Sarah moved to Wareham where she purchased a house. Sarah was 90 years old when she died on June 26, 1928 in Wareham. They are buried in Centre Cemetery in Wareham.

George and Sarah Law
George P. Law Sarah M. Law

George and Sarah did not have children of their own. However, they adopted her sister Emily’s daughter, Katherine Louisa Mason, and Katherine was known by her adoptive parents’ name of Law.

probably Catherine Law
Probably Catherine Law

4. JAMES WALLACE was discussed in a previous blog.

Since this is such a large family, the next blog will continue with the stories of the children of Samuel and Emily.

The daffodils are finally blooming at our home in Massachusetts, and it is really feeling like Spring! Have a wonderful week.

Until next time….

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