Emily M. Dewey was born September 20, 1828 in New York (State), probably in Cohocton (Steuben County). She was the daughter of Timothy and Sally Dewey. Emily had several siblings including: Saluta E. (Dewey) Barber (1831-1896), George S. (born 1836), Harriett (died in 1857, age unknown), Orton (born on October 11, 1844), and Erwin (born in 1849). Timothy Dewey, born in May 30, 1795, lived to be at least 100-years-old. We know this because Emily noted in her diary that he had his photograph taken for his 100th birthday. Also from Emily’s diaries we know that Sally was born on February 13, 1803 and died sometime between 1874 and 1891. We only know Timothy and Sally Dewey’s names, however, from the 1880 census information on Erwin Dewey (see his biographical section below).
According to the correspondence in the collection, we know that the Dewey family moved to Concord, Michigan, by February 1846. At this time, Emily wrote to her friend, James Morrill, who was working in Tunbridge (Orange County, Vermont).
On October 24, 1849, Emily married James Morrill. He was born on September 12, 1823 in New York (State). In June of 1849 they visited their relatives in Steuben County (New York).
In the 1870 Michigan census Emily was listed as keeping house, the wife of James Morrill, age about forty-six. James was a U.S. citizen and druggist, with real estate valued at $4,500 and personal property valued at $2,500. Living with them was listed his mother, Hannah C. Morrill, age seventy-seven, who was born in New Hampshire, and Henrietta Fishnell, age twelve, who was born in New York (State), and attended school.
In 1870, Emily, her parents, her siblings, and their families all lived in Concord Village, Jackson County, Michigan. On March 3, 1874, Emily noted in her diary that her brother George S. Dewey and his wife, Florence, had sold their farm and were leaving for a new location. They apparently returned by 1880 to Concord. Emily babysat their baby often and cared for the family when they were ill, so she really missed them when they left. Emily noted in her first extant diary of 1874 that Henrietta left the family rudely and without ceremony on March 30 after six years of living with them. We do not know why Henrietta lived with them. Perhaps she was a niece or daughter of a relative or neighbor who could not support her. Emily must have felt abandoned.
On June 30, 1874, Emily and James traveled by train to visit relatives in South Royalton (Vermont). While there, they stayed with Adams [Barber?] and his family, and visited many relatives in nearby Hancock and Bethel, and with James’ maternal relatives and friends who came from New Hampshire. While at Adams’ home, they accomplished an amazing amount of agricultural labor and housework. James and Adams also shot a lot of woodchucks. On October 22, Emily and James left for home, arriving on October 31.
In 1880, Emily and James are listed on the census as living in Concord, although by then James had apparently lost or sold the store. At that time he was listed as a carpenter and joiner. Josh Traves, age 31, a laborer, lived with them.
On April 27, 1884, Emily noted in her diary that Mother Morrill, James’ mother, died at age 91. This was a sad occasion for them.
According to Emily’s 1890 diary, James died on March 11, 1890 and was buried on April 23, 1890. The delay in his burial was likely due to the ground being frozen. His death was extremely painful for Emily to endure, but she did so due to her helpful family and neighbors and strong Christian belief in heaven. Until her last few diaries, Emily always noted her love and longing for James and good memories of their long life together on the date of their anniversary. After James’ estate was settled, later in 1890, Emily moved in with her brother George and his family.
Emily’s last diary entry was written on August 7, 1900. She noted that she was ill, but she lived on. Emily was listed in the 1910 census for Jackson City (Jackson County, Michigan) at age eighty-one, as a widow, living with her brother, George S. Dewey. George was listed in that census as age sixty, born in New York (State), a druggist, and retail drugs seller. George’s wife, Florence A., who was born in New York (State), age fifty-four, and their children Ida, age thirty-six, a sales woman for retail drugs, and Kevin, age twenty-three, a census enumerator were also listed. Both Ida and Kevin were born in Michigan.
By 1910 Emily had buried her husband and numerous other relatives and friends. Her father lived to be at least 100, so longevity was in her genes. She probably died between 1910 and 1920 as she was not listed in the 1920 census.
Saluta Dewey was born on February 12, 1831 in New York (State). Like her sister, Emily, she was a faithful Christian of strong belief, who attended Sabbath school, church services, prayer groups, and the Presbyterian Women’s Foreign Missionary Society meetings, as well as weekly temperance meetings at various churches. Saluta was a Presbyterian and therefore it is likely that Emily was also. Saluta is listed on some of the censuses as having the middle initial “E”, but in Emily’s 1896 diary her middle initial is listed as “C.” Sisters are more likely than enumerators to know middle names, so “C” is likely Saluta’s correct middle initial.
Unlike Emily, Saluta never noted her wedding anniversary in her diaries, so we do not know when she and Dewey H. “DH” Barber were married. They were married by 1860 as their eldest child was born in 1861. DH was born on April 24, 1823 in New York (State). It is highly probably that he was received his mother’s maiden surname as a first name.
By 1870 DH and Saluta lived and farmed in Algansee, Branch County, Michigan, with their two children, Arthur (1861-September 28, 1875) and Lorena “Rena” S. Barber. Rena was born on January 18, 1867 in Algansee. She was destined to be the future wife of Central Michigan University Professor Claude S. Larzelere. Claude was raised in neighboring Quincy, Branch County, Michigan, located just north of Algansee.
The Barber family moved to Allen, Hillsdale County, Michigan, by 1880. In 1880, a farm laborer, William H. Euglee lived with them. Allen was across the county line from Quincy, and closer to it than Algansee, so Claude and Rena visited each other often.
Saluta’s first extant diary is from 1884. In it, Saluta often noted that Rena was always busy visiting with her friends, sleighing, and attending socials, young adult prayer meetings, and social and patriotic events with Claude S. Larzelere and her good friend, Grace Markel. Saluta, who was far more religiously oriented and engaged than Emily, often despaired of Rena wasting her life in activities that were not more Christ-centered. Rena was often out until midnight, sometimes until one a.m. It is unusual that parents of this time period allowed such late curfews for their daughter until we understand the reason/s why.
In the back of Emily’s 1896 diary there is a list of Barbers with birth and death dates. Arthur, Lorena, and Saluta C. Barber are listed there, as well as Emma L. Barber (February 6, 1859-July 20, 1865). Emma L. was apparently DH and Saluta’s eldest child. This means that DH and Saluta buried two children prior to 1875, Emma L. at age six in 1865 and Arthur at age 14 on September 28, 1875. We do not know why or of what they died. The deaths of their two children probably caused DH and Saluta to be very lenient with Rena as she grew into a teenager. Their deaths also explain why DH and Saluta were so religiously oriented and involved, as well as Saluta’s particularly strong religious and parental concerns about Rena that are noted in Saluta’s diaries.
From October 25, 1885 through early November of the same year, Rena became very ill with a severe, unidentified illness which included days of delirium during which she was unable to take nourishment. Emily and James moved into her home to help Saluta nurse Rena all day and all night. Emily noted twice in her diary that the doctor believed Rena would die, but she ultimately survived. This must have been a terrible period for all of them, especially DH and Saluta who had already lost two children and were too old to have any more. It is obvious from Emily’s diary entries during this time that she and James loved Rena dearly, as did DH, Saluta, and Claude.
On August 26, 1891, Rena married Claude at her parents’ home. They moved to Mount Pleasant and eventually had two sons, Ronald and Keith. Rena died on August 30, 1941 at age seventy-four in Mount Pleasant. Claude died on his 80th birthday on January 20, 1946. (His research papers are housed at the Clarke. Included in the papers is a family photograph of Rena, Claude, their sons, and his niece, Edith, who lived with them.)
DH celebrated his 70th birthday on April 24, 1893, the only time Saluta noted his birthday. He died sometime between 1894 and early 1896.
Saluta suffered during a long illness from delirium, paralysis of most of her body, and being unable to take nourishment. For years, she had suffered from sore legs, arms, shoulders, and severe migraines headaches, as well as from neuralgia of the face. Emily, Claude and Lorena were with Saluta when she died on May 3, 1896. They took her body via train “home” for burial, presumably to Steuben County (New York), and probably to Cohocton. Her funeral was held on May 6, 1896. Rena, Emily, and Rena’s longtime friend Grace Markel helped clean Saluta’s home after the funeral.
George S. Dewey was Saluta and Emily’s brother. He and his family were often mentioned in both of his sisters’ diaries. George was born on February 24, 1836 according to Emily’s 1874 diary. The 1880 census listed George as Saluta’s immediate neighbor, age forty-four, a farmer. He lived with his wife, Florence A., age twenty-five, who kept house, and their children Claude C., age six, Ada I., age four, and Merrit (a boy), age one.
By 1900 the family lived to the 19th Precinct of the city of Jackson, Michigan. In the census, Florence was listed as born in June 1850, and their children as Ada I., who was born in March 1876, age twenty-four, a factory-coat stitcher; Merritt O., who was born August 1878, age twenty-one, a merchant in flour and bread; and the twins G. Glenn (sp?) and F. Genevieve, who were born in April 1887, both age thirteen.
Orton J. Dewey, another of Saluta and Emily’s brothers, was listed on the 1880 census for Concord, Michigan, as age thirty-nine. He was born in Michigan. Emily notes in her diaries that Orton was born on October 11, 1844 and married on March 12, 1866. His birth place is important because that means that Emily’s siblings and parents had all moved to Michigan from New York (State) by October of 1844. Orton’s family in 1880 consisted of his wife, Cloey, age thirty-six, who was also born in New York (State), and their three children: Grace E., age twelve ( who was born in 1868); Herbert A., age eleven (who was born in 1869); and M. Bliss, age four (who was born in 1876). All of these people are often noted in Emily’s and Saluta’s diaries. Orton and Grace attended Saluta’s funeral. It is possible that Cloey was dead by then or too ill to attend the funeral.
Erwin Dewey, was listed on the 1880 census for Concord (Mich.) as age thirty-one (born in 1849), a farmer living with his parents, Timothy, age 85 (born in 1795), a retired farmer, and his wife, Sally, age seventy-seven (born in 1803). Both Timothy and Sally were born in Vermont. This is the only place where the Dewey parents are identified by name. Erwin and Nettie (his wife?) attended Saluta’s funeral. (All biographical information is from the collection and censuses as noted.)