Betsey and the three Ophelias…

I think of them as the three Ophelias. Oh, and each of them also had the same middle name, Iphigenia. Isn’t that confusing? How do we tell them apart?

First is Ophelia Zander (1806-1887), the daughter of James and Ruth (Haskell) Zander, who married Truman Hawley.

Second is Ophelia Zander (1834-1855), granddaughter of James and Ruth Zander, who married George Parker. For a long time, her parents were unknown.

Third is Ophelia Hawley (1843-1898), the daughter of Ophelia (#1) and Truman Hawley. She married William Dennis.

When I first discovered the three Ophelias on the 1850 U.S. census in the Truman Hawley residence, cousin and fellow genealogist Marcia Van Auken Mason (1922-2006) and I speculated that Ophelia #2 was the daughter of Ophelia #1 before she married Truman Hawley. Or that Ophelia #2 was the daughter of an unknown first marriage of one of Ophelia’s brothers. Or that the only brother who did not marry, Leonidas, had an unknown marriage (or relationship) and had a daughter he named for his sister.

What we could not have guessed was that the answer was "e. None of the above."

I finally took a long anticipated trip to Troy, NY, to seek out the answers to the “mystery” of Ophelia #2 and other family stories. I spent time viewing all sorts of old papers, books and microfilm. Then finally, while trying to establish where our early Zander family was buried, I looked at microfilm titled, “Burial records, 1833-1928, of Mt. Ida Cemetery,” by the Troy, NY, Superintendent of Public Burial Grounds. It turned out to include, for some years, cause of death, birth place, death place, burial place and parents for various family members, including the elusive Ophelia #2.

It revealed that Ophelia (#2) was the daughter of – Isaiah and Betsey (Zander) McKibbin!

So who were Betsey and Isaiah and why would their daughter have used the Zander name? Betsey was the oldest daughter of James and Ruth (Haskell) Zander. Born about 1804 in Troy, NY, she married Isaiah McKibbin in 1827. Her son, James A. Zander McKibbin, was born in 1829, and her daughter, Ophelia Iphigenia McKibbin, was born about 1834.

Then apparently, around 1840-41, something went wrong, and Betsey moved in with her father. Her mother, Ruth, had died just a few years before, in 1838.

Betsey appeared in the Troy city directory for 1841-2 as “M’Kibbin, Mrs. Elizabeth S., boards 35 albanv.” And then, just a year later, she died:

From the Daily Troy Budget of Sept. 9, 1842:
This morning, BETSEY S. McKIBBIN, aged 38 years. Funeral to-morrow at 2 o’clock P.M. from the residence of her father, J. A. Zander, 35 Albany street.”

Her daughter, Ophelia (#2), was just 8 years old. Ophelia (#2) remained in the household of her aunt Ophelia (#1) and grandfather and took Zander as her last name. In the 1850 census, she was listed as Ophelia I. Zander. And in 1852 her wedding announcement in the Troy Daily Whig said that Ophelia I. Zander married George Parker.

By contrast, Betsey’s other child, James A. Zander McKibbin (1829-1906), retained the McKibbin name. He was an editor and printer at newspapers across New York and in New England, and he used the full name of James A. Zander McKibbin throughout his professional career. He maintained contact with his father, and in the 1870 census, James McKibbin’s children are shown living with his father and Isaiah McKibbin’s second wife and family.

Sadly, Ophelia (#2) died in September 1855, just a few short years after her marriage. There is no sign of her husband, who may have also died or left for parts unknown. Their two children, Harriet (1852-1936) and Charles (1854-1919), are raised by her aunt, Ophelia (#1), and they take on her married name, Hawley.

Ophelia (#1) was Betsey’s younger sister. She was born in 1806 and married Truman Hawley (his second marriage) in Dec. 8, 1842, when she was 35. This, of course, was shortly after her sister died, leaving a young Ophelia (#2) McKibbin to be raised by her aunt and grandfather. The Hawleys and Zanders maintained one household in Troy, according to city directories and census data. The Hawleys had two children of their own, Ophelia (#3) (1843-1898) and Evelina (1846-1855), who died in February 1855.

It was later that same year when Ophelia (#2) Parker died, leaving the care of the young Parker children in the hands of Ophelia (#1) and Truman Hawley. Truman Hawley was lost while traveling in 1875, and Ophelia (#1) lived with her adopted daughter, Harriet Hawley (who married Thomas Titus), until her death in 1887.

And what of Ophelia #3? She married William Dennis at a later age, and the couple had no children. They also lived in the Titus household. She died in 1898 and was buried in the New Mt. Ida Cemetery. Ophelia (#3) has the only family headstone still known to be standing in any of the Mt. Ida cemeteries in Troy, NY. I visited her burial location to let her know she, the other Ophelias and Betsey were not forgotten before I departed for home.

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