Looking through my Hermans family pictures, I found a memorial card and it inspired this entry. I don’t doubt that it has been more than 100 years since anyone has memorialized the subject of this post and that today no one remembers him at all.
The census is often the amateur (or armchair) genealogist’s first glimpse into a family they know little about. Through the lenses of the 1900 census, a little boy who was born after 1890 and died before 1900 would appear only as the difference in a pair of numbers. A column of data filled in after the mother of each household is labeled “Mother of how many children” and the one directly to the right of that is “Number of these children living”. For the 1900 listing for the family of Irving and Annie Smith of Milan, Dutchess County, NY, these numbers are 2 and 1, respectively (1900 Census Milan, Dutchess Co NY page 5, ed. 14, family 96). The one living child is their daughter, Ruth. The difference in the numbers is their little six-year-old son, Sterling Smith.
Irving Smith, a farmer, and his wife Anna May “Annie” Edleman married c. 1890. Irving Smith was born 21 Jan 1869, son of Freeman Smith and Margaret E Hermans, daughter of Henry Hermans, my 3rd great-grandfather. Irving’s family also resided in Milan so he was most likely born there. Annie was born 16 Feb 1868 and was probably the daughter of Phillip (a child of German immigrants) and Margaret Edleman of Ancram, Columbia County, just to the north. In 1900, they lived in the area north of what is now Rt 199 in Milan, NY between Red Hook and Pine Plains called Jackson Corner, down the road from my grandparent’s farm. Now-a-days, we add an “S” and call it Jackson Corners.
At right is Sterling’s little sister Ruth Smith (later Mrs. Joseph Bruyette) 16 Sep 1893 – 29 May 1976. She would later be a member of the same DAR Chapter that I am regent of, today.
An online newspaper archive, like Old Fulton Post Cards is invaluable for its record of the goings-on in small country communities like the one that the Smiths called home. In these columns, a local “reporter” would note who had visited, who was born, married and who was ill, among other important social happenings.
Sterling Smith was “on the sick list” as announced in the March 18th 1898 Pine Plains Register which noted that “a number in this place (Jackson Corner) are sick, two of which have the pneumonia.” In the following week’s paper, it is announced that Sterling died Thursday, March 16th. Two weeks later, the local reporter had only one story to report for Jackson Corner.
Sterling was aged 6 years, 5 months and ten days. This sweet memorial card is the same size as the “cabinet card” photos found in one of our antique family photo albums.
Funeral services were held on Saturday, conducted by Rev. W. W. Wilcox and E. A. Bishop. Rev. Wilcox’s card is found in the same album as the memorial card.
Rest in peace, Sterling.