Saturday, December 15, 2012


Ohhh, Francis William PETTYGROVE - you're such a large person in your life in Washington Territories, that you completely swamped your wife, Sophia.  I've yet to find anything written about Sophia at all.  She's a mystery.

Francis William PETTYGROVE, usually referred to as FW, was the 7th son of Thomas (Jr.) PETTYGROVE  [of Kittery Maine], & Mary McCURDY [of Halifax Nova Scotia]. Thomas & Mary had 10 children, 4 boys and 6 girls.

FW was born 12 Oct 1812, Calais, Washington, Maine, and was apparently quite an adventurer and entrepreneur.  In 1842, he married Sophia ROLAND who was born about 1824 in New York state, and the couple left very shortly thereafter with FW's sister and family; Charlotte "Mary" Pettygrove who was one year older.  She had already married to Philip Foster in 1834, and had 4 children by 1842.  FW brought along about $15,000 worth of merchandise from New York, apparently goods well suited to the wilderness where they were heading.  Philip and Mary became well-known settlers in Oregon, receiving settlers from wagon trains across the nation.

The newly married Pettygroves, along with several other businessmen and adventurers, sailed around to the other side of the continent, stopping in the Sandwich Islands (did you know their old name?), where Sophia delivered their first child, a boy Alfred Benson Pettygrove - named after two partners of FW.   Alfred was born the 3rd of January 1843.  They all remained there for 5 months, arriving near Oregon City, Washington Territories 19 May 1843.  There is much already known about FW's merchandising successes and challenges, both independently as well as with partners: such as about his naming Portland on the toss of a coin with his partner A.J. Lovejoy, and about his various political roles in Port Townsend where the family settled eventually.  Books, booklets, websites, and more provide much details about FW PETTYGROVE -- including about his ivory flute which he brought with him, and carried all the time.

Published by the Oregon Historical Society, the photograph here shows FW the white-haired bearded gentleman in the middle, Sophia sitting on the right side, FW's sister Charlotte Mary Foster on the left. Three of their 7 children are shown here, one would have already died in 1872, and the eldest Alfred died in 1878.  All are buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery in Port Townsend.  Likely the bearded gent standing behind the bench is Benjamin Stark Pettygrove, Sophia McIntyre the woman standing on the left, and Frank W Pettygrove (jr.) sprawled gracefully in front, leaning against his mother's legs.  Can you not see he's clearly the youngest in this family!  I had to smile at this photo.

But about Sophia - I can find nothing written.  I think about her, leaving her family at the age of 20 years, and heading off on a little ship all the way around South America, and up to Hawai'i where she has her first child.  Who helped her? Her sister-in-law, Charlotte Mary, who'd had 4 children by that time?  Was there a doctor in the community where they stopped for more supplies, and changed ships?  What challenging times for women in those days!  Arriving in a place where nothing could be taken for granted in terms of washing, food supply, diapers, illness, clothing, tools, and more.

Every census of the Washington Territories shows that Sophia was born about 1823 in New York state.  But I have no information that there were relatives left there.  Or in Maine.  There are a few newspaper records stating FW was travelling here and there up and down the west coast of the nation, but never a mention of Sophia travelling across the nation or having relatives to visit them in Portland, or Port Townsend.

And the final challenge: when she died, her obituary was all about her husband, "... the wife of FW Pettygrove, the famous ...".  Nothing about her as a woman, as a daughter, as a mother, as a sister.  Nothing at all.  Not a word about her parents and who they might have been, her father's occupation, for example.

I'm still looking, and I certainly need to find a way to get down to the Jefferson Historical Society in Port Townsend and see what they have in their files and on their shelves.  It's rather challenging travelling these days, but perhaps there will be a way to get there this coming year.

And if anyone actually knows anything of Sophia - I'd be delighted to have information shared with me.


Jana Last said...

Oh how frustrating for you! I wonder why Sophia's obituary was all about her husband instead of her own life and family. How odd.

Best of luck in your endeavors to find more information on Sophia.

Celia Lewis said...

I'm hoping a greatgrandchild has little bits of information stuck away in a box and will one day open it, find something about this Sophia, and google her - and find me!! Thanks for stopping by, Jana.

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

That is frustrating indeed. How about something in church records? I'm so glad that I was born in this day and age because I doubt that I could successfully play second fiddle to my husband. ;) Good luck!

Celia Lewis said...

Thanks for your comments, Heather. I agree - I'd be trying to make my own mark somehow! So far no records have shown up for my Sophia Roland/Ruland in Maine or New York... and of course, maybe she was an orphan or her parents died soon after she married - who knows!
And my eyes are caught by your KUHN in your name... my mother was a Kuhn, whom I've followed up to the Conewago, Adams,Pennsylvania area - John Kuhn & wife Anna Barbara (?Adams?) and 4 children who came in about 1732 or thereabouts - Henry, John George, Eva Mary, and Joseph. Such common names of course, particularly with KUHN, a most common Germanic surname.

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Celia, yes, I am a Kuhn! My Kuhns descend from Peter Kuhn who immigrated here around 1760. These Kuhns settled in the Franklin County, PA. Who knows, perhaps we are distant cousins! ;)

Marge Samuelson said...

Hi, I am from Jefferson County WA. I worked at the Jefferson County Historical Society research center for about 20 years, lately as a volunteer for the Jefferson county Genealogical society. I am writing a book about JC Women the first 100 years and have been disappointed that I have not been able to find much about Sophia Roland Pettygrove. I have searched our records and you are right, it is mostly about F.W. If I come across anything I will let you know.

Celia Lewis said...

Oh Marge - you get a gold star for coming across my Sophia Ruland/Roland Pettygrove blog and for searching your records. I have a short list of possible questions for researching in the Jefferson County Historical Society research center - but don't know when I'd be down there. Some of the notes in folders might have a smidge of a clue... But maybe not. It's as if she married and went west out of her family's lives permanently. Very frustrating.
I'll cross my fingers and toes, and perhaps you might find 'something'!! Thanks for checking my post, Marge. I appreciate your interest, very much. Cheers.


Family, friends, and others - I hope you enjoy these pages about our ancestors and their lives. Genealogy has become somewhat of an obsession, more than a hobby, and definitely a wonderful mystery to dig into and discover. Enjoy my writing, and contact me at celia.winky at gmail dot com if you have anything to add to the stories. ... Celia Lewis