11. Emma Weaver – My mysterious great grandmother

I was looking over my family tree last week, pondering on who to write about in my 52 Ancestors blog post. While looking at my pedigree in my Ancestry.com online tree, I realized that I had only one great grandparent that I had no photo of: my great grandmother, Emma Weaver.

I had realized that I had just gathered the basic information about her: birth, marriage, death, her parents, and then just moved on. I had remembered my Mom telling me that her grandparents were separated and that she had never met her grandmother. She had seen her once in town, and someone pointed her out and told my Mom, “That lady is your grandmother.” Perhaps that was why I had just moved on from her and didn’t bother finding out more.

Emma Ursne Weaver was born on February 4, 1879 in the Mahoning Valley in Carbon County, Pennsylvania to Wilson and Henrietta (Gombert) Weaver. She was baptized by the Reverend Abraham Bartholomew on April 5,1879. Her sponsors were Nathan Gerber and Maria Seidel.

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It had been hard to locate when and where she had married my great grandfather, Erastus Serfass at first. However, through Ancestry, one of my Mom’s cousins connected with me, and he actually had their marriage certificate! Erastus and Emma had both been living in Lehighton, Carbon County. However, they were married in the small village of Andreas, which was several miles away in neighboring Schuylkill County in the parsonage of the Rev. Thomas Reber. And on top of that, the marriage record was filed in Northampton County. Indeed a good lesson that perhaps the record you are looking for may be actually located in a county where your ancestors did not live.

Erastus and Emma had 4 children: Arlington, Calvin, Harold (my grandfather) and Ellen. At some point after the birth of Ellen in 1912 and in 1920, Emma had separated from Erastus and left her children as well. Why would someone leave their children behind?

I decided to ask my Mom, once again about her. I guess my Mom really wanted to know more too, because she called her cousin that very evening to learn more too. This cousin was the daughter of Emma’s eldest son, Arlington. Emma had been to their home for family holidays. No one knew exactly why Emma moved out and left her children. There was talk that Erastus did not think she was a good mother to the children. My Mom’s cousin thought she had heard that she had “some kind of addiction” but was not an alcoholic. She recalled that Emma used to live at the Exchange Hotel on First Street, Lehighton. She would see her sitting outside of the hotel and would wave to her as she walked by.

My Mom had also recalled speaking to the wife of another cousin. This woman’s mother-in-law was a sister to Emma. She said that they had all called her “Stella Dallas” because she “liked to dress up and wore make-up.” It was also said that Erastus had been supporting her financially.

ImageErastus and Emma never divorced. However, Erastus eventually had a long-standing relationship with another woman and had even moved in with her. He had died in her home in 1942 and was buried in Lehighton Cemetery. When Emma died on January 14, 1952, her children made the decision to bury her next to their father in the family plot. This decision did not sit well with the woman who had been Erastus’ companion.

Although the family gossip does not seem to favor Emma, I still would like to find out more about her. And I hope I might be able to find someone that may have a photo of her.

 

 

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