In a million years, I never would have expected to find clues about my Elizabeth, NJ, ancestors in an Oswego, NY, newspaper. Oswego, which is perched on the northeast border of Lake Ontario, is roughly 300 miles away from Elizabeth, NJ — a city very close to Manhattan. On a total lark, about eight weeks ago, I did a search for Isaac Jaques on the Fulton History website, which features old newspapers from NY state, and up popped a headline for the ‘Temperance Column’ in the Oswego Daily Times for 24 January 1879, about 18 months before Isaac passed away at age 89. (Just goes to show, that when searching old newspapers, it may be worth not restricting your search to a particular city, county, or state.)
This all happened prior to my discovering that Isaac had children other than my 2nd great grandmother Wealthy Ann Jaques Angus. You may recall from a previous post that I’d mentioned even Roger & Patricia Jaques’ Jaques Family Genealogy book, a massive tome, contains no reference to children other than Wealthy Ann.
I couldn’t imagine what could possibly have linked Isaac, an upstanding citizen of Elizabeth, NJ, to the issue of temperance. So, after opening the link and pulling up the page, I was shocked to scroll down to read about Isaac’s reunion with a once very wayward son named John, who had been Isaac’s ‘secret sorrow’ for several decades prior. Thankfully the Fulton History site permits its articles to be shared, so I don’t have to try to paraphrase or summarize. I think the writing of that era is so much more descriptive anyway. So I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I did.
John must have been quite a character. Let’s be honest, throughout the ages, it’s the rare family that does not have at least one individual in it who occasionally (or more than occasionally) brings inharmonious moments to that family’s life. Back then, however, I suspect this all would have been much more scandalous. So it’s no wonder John got erased from the family record books; and perhaps that’s why this ‘Temperance Column’ appeared in a distant city rather than Isaac’s home town, although I can’t be certain of that since the now-out-of-print Elizabeth Daily Journal may have carried it. However, that newspaper does not appear to be available through any online sites (If I’m wrong about that, please let me know).
I’ll close this post by saying that I’ve since done tons of digging on John, on his life, both pre- and post-‘Temperance column,’ and I have much more to share. Suffice it to say that he took me on quite a roller coaster ride; just when I thought I’d found the last trace of his bad behavior, I’d stumble on something else. There were a sufficient number of cringe-worthy moments, and I will share them as well as some other interesting details, in the next 1-2 posts.
P.S. In some ways, I feel rather uncomfortable sharing scandal that’s been locked away in the family cupboards for 130+ years. What do you think? — Would it be better to let sleeping dogs lie?