It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done an FTF post. Lately, my mind has been wrapped up in editing my WIP, but also, thoughts of my next project are swirling around and so today’s post is dedicated to my 3x great-grandmother, the mother of my next main character, William Sutliff, Jane G. Young Corbett Sutliff.
On 14 October 1831, Jane was born in Monroe, Clarion County, Pennsylvania to George and Mary (Clough) Young. Jane was their first born child and she would be followed by eight more siblings. Elisabeth, b. 1833; Samuel, b. 1835; Trizah, b. 1837; Frances Keziah, b. 9 Jul 1838; Mary A., b. Aug 1841; George, b. 3 Mar 1842; William, b. 1844; and John Wesley, b. 1847.
On 1 April 1851, Jane married Miles Corbett who lived nearby with his family. Following their marriage, Miles and Jane moved west, settling in the Scotch Grove, Jones County, Iowa area in 1856. They had four children: Ellsworth, b. 1853 Pennsylvania; Della, b. 1855, Pennsylvania; John Haddon, b. 1858, Iowa; Athenia Celia, b. 1861, Iowa. With the outbreak of war, Miles enlisted on 14 August 1862 and became a private in the Union Army, Iowa Infantry, 31st Regiment, Unit H. However, by 15 September, he was mustered and saw battle in the Tennessee and Kentucky areas before either becoming injured or ill. And on 12 Mar 1863, Miles died on board the City of Memphis hospital boat.
Jane was left on her own, and for five years, she raised her four children. But on 4 September 1867, Jane married William W. Sutliff, also a veteran of the Civil War. With William, Jane had three more children: Carrie Bell, b. 1869; Mary Eva, b. 1871; and William Edward, b. 1875.
Jane was a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and her obituary states that she labored in all parts of the church work. She was also an active member in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, or WCTU, an organization that was devoted to social reform. The WCTU also helped to ban alcohol and pass the 18th amendment because they perceived alcohol as a cause and consequence of social issues, mainly poverty. Few women worked and supported themselves in the nineteenth century, and so many relied on the paycheck that their husbands, fathers, brothers brought home. However, when the majority of the pay was going towards a saloon bill, women banded together believing that abstinence from alcohol would help to remove poverty and that abstinence would help people move up in life. While the WCTU was considered to be far less radical than their suffragists counterparts – women fighting for equality and the right to vote – the WCTU offered women a more traditional and considered, more appropriate, organization for women. However, in my own opinion, I think the WCTU could be viewed as a precursor to the women’s suffrage movement.
Perhaps Jane was such an active member because she herself suffered from the lack of male support. Sometime between the mid 1880s to early 1890s, William W Sutliff abandoned his family and ended up living at an old soldier’s home in Quincy, Illinois, leaving Jane alone to raise and look after their children.
Jane remained active in within the church, the WCTU, and the community, working well into her later years. Only when she became too sick to continue did she relinquish. In her last days, according to her obituary, Jane had to be in the constant care of one of her children because her condition was such that death could occur at any time. She suffered in both mind and body, which makes me wonder if she didn’t suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s.
When she left her home in Oxford Mills to visit her daughter, Mary Eva. Jane remained with Mary Eva for only a day. Her daughter Della came and took her to Center Junction, Jones County, Iowa where Della lived. However, Jane was only with Della for one day as well, as she died suddenly, early the next morning on 31 May 1894. Her funeral was held at the M.E. church in Center Junction. She was laid to rest in the North Madison cemetery, also located in Center Junction. Her son, John Haddon, who would venture north before passing away in the Yukon Territory would be added to her tombstone for memorial. Jane rests beside her daughter, Carrie Bell, who would tragically pass away only three years after her mother (a story that deserves it’s own post, and one you can read more about here) leaving William Edward Sutliff at nineteen, quite alone in the world.