Diggin' up Dead People

A Genealogy Blog

Week 13: Different: Sarah Maria Smith

on April 1, 2015

Wow! It’s week 13 already in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge from Amy Johnson Crow over at her blog: No Story too Small. This Amy challenges us to write about our ancestor that fits the theme “Different”.

It is pretty common that as people get older (and perhaps wiser!), us Northerners often move south. My father, aunts and uncles, cousins and some friends have all followed this route. In fact, while there are plenty who stayed in the North, off the top of my head, I cannot think of almost no one who moved from the South to the North. (By that I am referring to a major migration, not some readjustments within a couple of states. After all, I am actually a bit north from when I started- but it’s not a major shift). My ancestor, Sarah Maria Smith, is the exception.

Sarah Maria Smith was born in Florida about 1830. Her father was Charles Smith, her mother, Ellen Hardenburg. I know nothing about Sarah’s early life. In the 1830 census, I’ve been able to locate a Charles Smith in Escambia County, Florida[i] with a household consisting of one Male 20-29, one Female 20-29, and a female child under 5. While this could possibly be Sarah’s family, and the female could be Sarah herself or a sister, there is just too little information to conclusively determine if it is.

This snip is from the Barbour Collection of Newspaper Abstracts found on Ancestry.com.  Original publication was 18 Sep 1845.

This snip is from the Barbour Collection of Newspaper Abstracts found on Ancestry.com. Original publication was 18 Sep 1845.

In 1845, a Sarah Maria Smith married a Benjamin Bourne in New York[ii]. The age, of Sarah, (15) raises the question of whether this is the correct couple. In addition, the marriage announcement says both the bride and groom are from Williamsburg, Long Island, New York. Despite Sarah’s young age, and the seeming discrepancy of the origins of the couple, this is likely the correct Benjamin and Sarah. It is likely they were both living in New York at the time of the marriage.

1880 United States Federal Census - Benjamin Bourne-2


Sarah is found next in the 1850 US Census for Wells, Maine[iii]. She is living with Benjamin Bourne and one year child Clarinda Bourne. They are enumerated in the household of James and Mary Mariner, an Asa Bourne is also enumerated with them. Asa, Mary and Benjamin were likely siblings.   In this record, Sarah’s birthplace is listed as Pensela [sic] Florida. That is likely a misspelling of Pensacola, Florida.



Ten years later, Sarah is 8 years older and enumerated with Benjamin, Clarinda, and son Benjamin. Daughter Clarinda was born in Maine about 1848/9 and son Benjamin was born about 1851 in NY, giving clues to when they may have moved back to New York[iv].

Sarah, Benjamin and son Benjamin are found again in the 1870 United States Census[v]. Daughter Clarinda, now known as Clara Jane, had married by then and was no longer enumerated with the family.

1880 United States Federal Census - Benjamin Bourne-2


In 1880, the family is still in Williamsburg, and again the household consists of Benjamin, Sarah and son Benjamin[vi].

0n December 26, 1891, Sarah M Bourne was granted a decree of absolute divorce from her husband, Benjamin Bourne[vii]. Although searches have been made in the Municipal Archives and the Kings county court, details of the divorce have not yet been found.

One week later, January 2, 1892, the “widow” Sarah Maria Smith Bowen, married Daniel S VanBrunt of Long Branch City, New Jersey[viii].

Sarah outlived both her second husband and her son Benjamin. She died April 15, 1911 in Long Branch, New Jersey[ix].

[i] 1830 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010), Ancestry.com, 1830; Census Place: Escambia, Florida; Series: M19; Roll: 15; Page: 63; Family History Library Film: 0006711. Record for Charles Smith.

[ii] Ancestry.com, U.S., Newspaper Extractions from the Northeast, 1704-1930 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014), Ancestry.com, Record for Mr Benjamin Bourn.

[iii] 1850 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009), Ancestry.com, Year: 1850; Census Place: Wells, York, Maine; Roll: M432_274; Page: 162A; Image: 323. Record for Sarah M Bourne.

[iv] 1860 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009), Ancestry.com, Year: 1860; Census Place: Brooklyn Ward 15 District 1, Kings, New York; Roll: M653_773; Page: 76; Image: 467; Family History Library Film: 803773. Record for Sarah M Brown.

[v] 1870 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009), Ancestry.com, Year: 1870; Census Place: Brooklyn Ward 18, Kings, New York; Roll: M593_958; Page: 356B; Image: 716; Family History Library Film: 552457. Record for Sarah Bouren.

[vi] 1880 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010), Ancestry.com, Year: 1880; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Roll: 850; Family History Film: 1254850; Page: 374B; Enumeration District: 151; Image: 0523. Record for Benjamin Bourne.

[vii] Irksome Marriage Ties, 27 Dec 1891, page 20., Brooklyn Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, online images (http://bklyn.newspapers.com/image/50383975/?terms=Bourne).

[viii] New Jersey, Marriage Return, V33. 2 Jan 1892, Daniel S VanBrunt to Sarah Maria Smith.; New Jersey State Archives, PO Box 307, 225 West State Street Trenton, NJ 08625-0307.

[ix] Long Branch, Monmouth, New Jersey, Certificate of Death, 1911, #382, Sarah M. VanBrunt.


6 responses to “Week 13: Different: Sarah Maria Smith

  1. Diane Alfano says:

    So how did she go from Sarah Marie Smith BOURNE to Sarah Marie BOWEN?


  2. Karen Ramon says:

    It is interesting. The name Bourne was the more commonly used, but Bowen shows up in some records, and that continues in the next generation as well. Some of it can be chalked up to people not really knowing the correct spelling and things being spelled as they sounded. It seems that after the divorce, when she became a “widow” for the next marriage she decided to use Bowen as the previously married name.


  3. […] The title of Week 15 of the 52 Ancestors Challenge issued by Amy Johnson Crow on her blog, No Story Too Small was “How Do You Spell That?” I choose to focus on Benjamin Aaron Bourne, my third great grandfather, and husband of Sarah Maria Smith. Sarah was the focus of my Week 13 post- Different. […]


  4. […]  In 1872, Mary married Benjamin Aaron Bourne (son of the Benjamin Aaron Bourne (week 15) and Sarah Maria Smith (week 13)) [Smith appears to be a common name but no relation has been […]


  5. […] A Bourne was the son of Benjamin Aaron Bourne, blogged about in week 15, and Sarah Maria Smith, the subject of my week 13 post.  He was married (firstly) to Mary Louise Smith, week […]


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