Maiden Aunt(s)

Every family tree has at least one- the unmarried relative also known as a ‘maiden aunt’ or ‘bachelor uncle.’  Census records often list a woman as head of household. When the census record includes younger people, I predict that those younger persons are the woman’s children. I also tend to guess that the woman’s surname is the name of her husband, now deceased or divorced. However, this might not be true. Information about an unmarried relative still contributes to our knowledge about the family. In this post, I present one such case, Miss Jane Postens of Monroe county, Pennsylvania.

Jane Postens (1785-1861)

NOTE: This post describes process and results. Bear with me as I move forwards and backwards in time.

2012:  Printed two census records and wrote notes on 1830 census printed forms for Ann Posten in Northumberland county, Pennsylvania [1] and 1840 census for Jane Porten in Monroe county, Pennsylvania. [2] (Place note:  Monroe county formed 1836 from Northampton and Pike counties).  I dismissed Ann as the widow of Jacob Postens because Jacob died in 1831. [3] 

2015:  Printed 1850 census for Stroud Township, Monroe county, Pennsylvania –Jane Postens, age 56, born New Jersey and Elizabeth Postens, 48, born Pennsylvania. [4]  This census does not show the relationships between family members.   QUESTIONS:  What is the relationship between Jane and Elizabeth? How are they related to other Posten families in the area?  Fast forward to 2020 when I revisit these records as part of my Genealogy Do-Over.  

2020:  Begin again with the 1830 census. Smithfield, Northampton county, Pennsylvania. Ann Poston is recorded as head of household with 1 male, age 30 thru 39 and 3 females age 20 thru 29.   1840 census shows Jane Porten in Lower Smithfield, Monroe county, Pennsylvania with 1 male age 40-49 (consistent with 1830 census), 1 female 30 thru 39, 1 female 40 thru 49 and 1 female 60 thru 69.  

Recall the 1850 census records for Jane and Elizabeth Postens in Monroe county, Pennsylvania.  Information is both consistent and inconsistent  with earlier records.  A more recent find of 1860 census[5] also revealed inconsistencies with other data. (See table).  Can the evidence be reconciled?

TABLE 1: Comparison of census data, 1830 to 1860

I discovered a death notice for Jane.  Published in a Monroe county newspaper dated February 7, 1861, the notice reads:  

DIED. At Priceburg, in Price Township, on the 3d inst., Miss Jane Postens, aged 75 years, 9 months and 17 days.”

The Jeffersonian (Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania), 7 February 1861, page 2, “DIED. At Priceburg. . . Miss Jane Postens:” imaged at Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com:   viewed & printed, 9 May 2020).

Jane Postens, indeed, never married. If her reported age in death notice is correct, then her birth date calculates to 16 April 1785.  This date is consistent with only one of the four cited census records  – 1860.  I do not dispute New Jersey as her birthplace.  I believe that Elizabeth and Jane, as reported in 1850 and 1860, are the same persons even with the discrepancies in reported ages. I haven’t yet found more information about Elizabeth but have a clue about the male living with them in 1830 and 1840.

An adult male was not listed as head of household in 1830 or 1840. This suggests that the male in the household was incapacitated in some way. Again, I refer to an 1850 census record.  William Postens, age 56, listed as ‘insane and pauper’, residing with Henry and Caroline Row in Smithfield, Monroe, Pennsylvania. [6]  I believe that he is the male recorded in 1830 and 1840 censuses, aged 30 thru 39 and 40 thru 49, respectively.  Is he related to Henry or Caroline? Is he, perhaps, brother to Jane and Elizabeth?  

SUMMARY:

One maiden aunt, Miss Jane Postens, born 1785 in New Jersey and died 1861 in Monroe county, Pennsylvania.  Questions remain about her parentage and relationship to Elizabeth and/or William. I still know so little about her.

Another maiden aunt story for you: https://climbingmyfamilytree.blogspot.com/2018/01/family-history-lesson-from-my-maiden.html

REFLECTION:

Well, at least one question has been answered – Jane Postens never married.  As usual, new questions arose and only a few answers found.

What helped:  Printouts and my notes already in files. Creating table to compare information.

What didn’t help:  Notes with no dates.  Not sure which family tree I attached this to.

To-Do:  Continue searches for more information about Elizabeth Postens, William Postens, Henry and Caroline Row. Create research logs for each person with comprehensive notes.  Look at neighbors on each census as possible clues to relationships.  Search 1820 census in Northampton county for females between ages of 10 and 20 years. Move these items to BSO list for now.  

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

SOURCES CITED:

[1] 1830 U.S. Census, Northampton county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Smithfield, page 218, line 20, Ann Poston, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 9 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M19, roll 156.

[2] 1840 U.S. Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Lower Smithfield, page 331, line 23, Jane Porten [Posten], Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 9 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M704..

[3] William Henry Egle, editor, Notes and Queries: Historical, Biographical and Genealogical: relating chiefly to interior Pennsylvania. [ Fourth Series], 2 vols. (1893; Reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1970), 1: pages 183-184, entry for “Northampton county in the Revolution. Newspaper Notes and Sketches. V. [Obituary, Jacob Postens]”.

[4] 1850 U.S. Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Stroud Township, page 106A (stamp), dwelling 270, family 270, Jane Postens, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 9 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M432_798.

[5] . 1860 U.S. Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Price, page 696 (stamp). Sheet 80 (ink pen), dwelling 540, family 516, Jane Postens, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 1 June 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M653.

[6] 1850 U.S. Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Smithfield, page 126A (stamp), dwelling 552, family 552, Henry Row, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 1 June 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M432, roll 798.