The Brief and Difficult Life of Montcalm Armstrong

Montcalm was my 2x great grandfather, born in 1843 in Wayne County, Ohio on June 30 (calculated by the registration of his death, though Ohio, Soldier Grave Registrations, 1804-1958 says May 30 and findagrave.com says January 29.)

The sixth of ten children, he grew up in Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio. His father was a carpenter/joiner/cabinetmaker, and Montcalm followed in his footsteps, working as a carpenter.

Montcalm didn’t reach 40, dying less than a month before his birthday on June 14, 1883. Whoever indexed the death registration mistakenly wrote his name as “Montealm,” a type of error that’s common in genealogical records.

Also, the person who recorded his death couldn’t spell “diarrhea.”

Even misspelled, “chronic diarhea” gets the message across.

When I discovered what caused his death, long before I found this record, I was aghast. His pension records (kindly shared with me by a distant cousin) mention “complications of dysentery.” I looked it up and remember thinking, “That’s basically dying of diarrhea,” something almost beyond my comprehension.

Montcalm suffered from 1865, when he was discharged from the Army, until he died. His pension records reflect this, with the illness also affecting his back and one leg. From what I’ve read, amoebic dysentery can cause postinfectious arthritis, so perhaps that’s what the problem was.

He’d enlisted in July of 1862.ArmstrongMontcalmDraftReg1863 A little over a year later on September 8, 1863, he was captured and confined as a POW at Belle Isle, Virginia, until March 15, 1864, when he was admitted to the hospital (possibly Annapolis — I can’t make out the writing — cause not given).

The National Park Service record of Montcalm says “Held at Andersonville and survived.”

Those five words describe a world of misery.

Although the information I have only mentions Belle Isle, the NPS also describes the Belle Isle prisoners at Andersonville, “By February 1864 prisoners on Belle Isle were moved to a newly established prison in Andersonville, Georgia. The men who left Belle Isle were dirty, poorly clothed, and almost all of them weighed less than 100 pounds.”

This was a month before Montcalm was released.

Meant for only 3,000 prisoners, with only 300 tents and no permanent shelters, Belle Isle eventually held between 10,000 and 30,000 men (estimates vary wildly).

To put it bluntly, it was a freezing kind of hell.

“In a semi-state of nudity…laboring under such diseases as chronic diarrhea, scurvy, frost bites, general debility, caused by starvation, neglect and exposure, many of them had partially lost their reason, forgetting even the date of their capture, and everything connected with their antecedent history. They resemble, in many respects, patients laboring under cretinism. They were filthy in the extreme, covered in vermin…nearly all were extremely emaciated; so much so that they had to be cared for even like infants.”
— Lucius Eugene Chittenden, U.S. Treasurer during the Lincoln Administration, quoted at https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/civil-war-prison-camps.

Looking at the table below (from http://mdgorman.com), it’s clear provisions were in short supply.

O.R.–SERIES II–VOLUME VI [S# 119]
UNION AND CONFEDERATE CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, ETC., RELATING TO PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE FROM JUNE 11, 1863, TO MARCH 31, 1864.–#35

Statement of clothing issued to Federal prisoners of war at Richmond, Va., by a committee of officers of the U. S. Army, from November 10, 1863, to January 18, 1864.

 

A. No. of men. F. Blouses.
B. Shoes. G. Shirts.
C. Socks. H. Greatcoats.
D. Drawers. I. Blankets.
E. Pants. J. Caps.

 

A. B. C. D. E. F. G. H. I. J.
Belle Isle 7,568 3,173 4,189 3,446 2,597 2,629 3,336 3,730 4,946 2,479

If you want to read further, the same site has links to a variety of information on the camp. You might start with this report, written nine days before Montcalm was released.

I was going to include this photo from the Library of Congress of a prisoner on his release from the camp (initially identified incorrectly as Andersonville), but couldn’t bring myself to do so.

Belle Isle is now a state park, described as letting “visitors explore a wide variety of tidal wetlands interspersed with farmland and upland forests. It has a campground, three picnic shelters, hiking, biking and bridle trails, and motor boat and car-top launches. Belle Isle also offers overnight lodging at Bel Air and the Bel Air Guest House. Bicycle, canoe and kayak rentals are available.”

I’m not sure how I feel about that. I mean, it sounds lovely, I’m sure, ideal for kayaking and cycling, but don’t you think the description should mention the historical significance of the site? A lot of men died there, and I’m sure there were others like Montcalm, who died as a result of being imprisoned.

Shouldn’t that be worth a line or two?

For now, let’s focus on the fact Montcalm lived, or “survived” might be a better word.

He went back to Ohio, married Emma J. “Jennie” Price in 1866. She was twenty; he was just twenty-two, but after what he’d been through, he could hardly be considered young.ArmstrongMontcalm_EmmaPrice_1866Wed

Look carefully above, and you’ll see there are two parts to marriage records, the license and the return beneath it. If the bottom part hadn’t been filled out, we’d have no proof the marriage ever took place. In this case, it did. Emma and Montcalm were married by Mr. A. H. Tyler, J.P. (Justice of the Peace).


They had two children, Luella “Ella” (born 1867) and Jennie May “Maima” (born 1869).

Emma died in September, 1870, at age 24, leaving Montcalm a widower with a one-year-old and three-year-old to care for.

He remarried in 1874. From the record, you would think he married a woman named Anna Seitner, and when I first started doing genealogy, I believed that was her name. However, my mom kept talking about someone named “Lightner.”

I never connected the two until we took a road trip to Napoleon, and in the clipping files of their library, we found records connecting Anna Leitner and Montcalm.

My big contribution to the genealogist community was sharing this discovery. These days, “Anna Seitner” rarely makes an appearance in the Armstrong family trees I see. ArmstrongMontcalm_AnnaLeitnerWed1874By 1880, he and his new wife were living in Napoleon with their three children, Harry/Harvey Coddington (born 1876), James Gideon (my great grandfather, born 1878), and Guy R (born 1880). In 1882, almost exactly a year before he died, they had a fourth child, Alba.

Luella and Jennie May were fostered out to other families.

In 1880, Ella was with Addison and Sarah Crew in Swanton, Fulton County, listed as “adopted. Six years later, when she married Arthur Sweeney, she again uses the name “Ella Crew.” However, we know she is Ella Armstrong because when she died in 1940 in Michigan (age 73), her death certificate, listing Arthur as her husband, gives Montcalm as her father, and “Price” as her mother.

I would like to claim I figured all that out by myself, but I followed the bread crumbs left by other genealogists, verifying and adding details as I went.

As for Jennie May, from my copy of Montcalm’s pension files, I know she was born in Napoleon on July 28, 1869.

In 1880, she was listed as “Jane Armstrong,” adopted daughter of Levi and Hannah Serrick, living in Clinton, Fulton County. Claiming to be 16, using the name “Jennie Serrick,” she married Wallace Wagner (age 21), a neighbor of the Crews. If my dates are correct, she was actually 15. According to the bread crumbs and family lore, she divorced Wallace in 1892 because he sold her horse without asking.

Later, she married Andrew Smith.

I have no records to prove these facts, but Wallace did remarry in 1893, and by 1900, Jennie was living as Jennie Smith with Andrew Smith in Lucas County, raising poultry. When she died in 1927, the death certificate listed Levi Serrick as her father, and gave her birthdate as July, 1869 and birthplace as Napoleon, Ohio.

As we know, Montcalm died in June 1883, leaving Anna with four children. He wasn’t approved for a pension until 1881, leaving me to wonder how the family survived. The same pension was later assigned to Addison Crew, after he became Alba’s guardian. record-image_-12

Anna married again in June 1884, this time to a man named Charles F. Harrison. They had five children together.

Unfortunately, the 1890 census was mostly destroyed by fire, so it’s difficult to trace what happened to the rest of Montcalm’s children following his death.

The same distant cousin who sent me the pension file told me that Guy ended up in the Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Orphans Home at the age of 10.  (His application was dated July 21, 1890.)

In the 1900 census, he was back in Napoleon with Anna, her second husband, and their children. In 1910, he was living with Anna’s brother, Samuel and his family in Michigan and working as a carpenter. He married Lettie Taylor in 1911, dying in Michigan in 1950.

One of Guy’s granddaughters contacted me via Ancestry.com for any information I had on him. When I told her he was a carpenter and had been in care, she said that made sense because one of the few things she remembered about him was he was good with his hands and liked to make things. She didn’t know he’d been institutionallized.

Montcalm’s youngest child, Alba, was also farmed out to Addison Crew, and in 1892, Addison was awarded her pension.   By 1900, Addison was dead, but “Alba Crew” remained with his widow Sarah as her adopted daughter. They lived next door to a branch of the Serrick family, who had also taken in an adopted child.

Alba married August Melching in1903 in Emmett, Michigan, with Guy as one of the witnesses. (As usual, the record is mis-indexed, listing Montcalm as Mort C.) Alba died at the age of 72 in Michigan.

This adopting/fostering out of children shows up in other family records. Apparently, it wasn’t uncommon for children to live with other branches of the family or friends when their own parents couldn’t care for them.

Alba’s oldest brother Harvey’s bread crumbs are harder to follow. The next record I found for him was in 1899, when he married Sadie Reninger in Summit County. He  remained there, working as a machinist and rubber maker draftsman until he died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1928. At that time, he was living on Buchtel Avenue, a street I walked daily when I was in college at The University of Akron.

Odd to think I walked in my great uncle’s footsteps for four years without ever knowing it.

My great grandfather, James Gideon, was five when his father died. The next record I found of him was the 1900 census, where he is working as a servant for Alvin R. McFarlin, in Bath, Summit County. Before you start getting a Downton Abbey type picture in your mind, I will clarify that in this case, “servant” means “farm laborer.”ArmstrongJamesG1900He married seventeen-year-old Sophia Viola Myers a year later. Below is their marriage record, with the one on the left showing the “permission slip” her father Rolandous had to sign for the marriage to take place.

With the permission slip lifted on the right record, you’ll see Summit County marriage records provide the details genealogists love — where each member of the pair lived and were born, their ages, and the Holy Grail of genealogy, their parents’ names including the mothers’ maiden names.

City directories show James and Sophia were still in Summit County in 1907 and 1908, but by 1910, they were back in Henry County in Freedom Township with their two children Harold (my grandfather) and Ethel. Sophia’s brother and James’s half sister Grace Harrison also lived with them.

When I first began researching her family, my mom kept talking about how she remembered her grandfather running a grocery store, and that there was a picture of him in front of it.

She was right. In 1910, James was a “merchant” of “groceries” employing others. He also rented a farm.

Eventually, we found this picture, which Mom says is the store with James in front of it. JamesGrocer

By 1920, he and Sophia had moved to Plain Township, Stark County, where James farmed. In 1930, much like my paternal grandfather, he was doing road work to support his family (mistakenly named as John G. Armstrong, but other documents confirm this is the right family).

James registered for the draft for both World Wars, but didn’t serve. The card on the right is from a collection called the “Old Man’s Draft Registration Cards.” If you look at his age, you’ll see why.

James died in 1956, before I was born, so I never knew him. ArmstrongJamesGDeathNotice1956

On re-reading his death notice as I wrote this post, I see James G. also worked for Goodyear Aircraft. I’m not sure why this surprised me since my mom, my dad, and all my maternal uncles worked for the rubber makers at one time or another. Of course, back then, everyone in Akron either worked for or was related to someone who worked for the rubber companies.

I sometimes wonder how and why Montcalm would marry — not once, but twice — and have six children. Did he initially recover enough from his imprisonment to think he was capable of being a proper partner and raising a family? Was he simply trying to live a normal life after what he’d been through? Or was he just trying to find happiness while he lived?

Since there’s no way of answering that question, here ends the stories of Montcalm Armstrong and his six children.

The Many Children of John Garman

Barbara, Caroline, Mary, Susanna, Eliza Ann, Sophia, Sarah Ann, Samuel, Nancy, Louisa, Magdalene, Lydia, Levi, John W. (Jr.), Leah, William, Fianna, Adam, Ellen, Franklin, Charles, Edwin, Lewis, Emanuel, Daniel, Ida, Frederick, and maybe Anna.

I’ll save you the bother of counting. There are twenty-eight names on my list of possible 3x great-aunts and uncles, a number that seems audaciously beyond the ability of a non-polygamous man.

And since John was my mother’s father’s mother’s mother’s father (my 3x great grandfather), I felt compelled to try to untangle which offspring were his and which belonged to a similarly aged John Garman who also lived in Ohio’s Summit and Stark counties during the 1800s.

If you aren’t into genealogy, you may not realize that, because of European naming traditions, it isn’t uncommon to find duplicately named cousins of similar age in the same counties and towns.

So finding another John Garman to claim some of the kids seemed likely.

But I didn’t. It wasn’t that I didn’t find other John Garmans. I found a few. The one that came up most often was my 2x great-uncle, John W. Garman, Jr.

I also found a John Garman married to a woman with a name very similar to my 3x great grandpa’s third wife. But in the 1860 census, I know my John was living in Green Township with his second wife and seven children (including my 2x great grandmother Leah). The other John, who was twenty years younger, was recorded in another part of the state.

Finally, I began tracing the lives of each of John’s possible children, which took most of my free time for a week and left The Engineer asking, “Why do you need to do this?”

I didn’t really have an answer. It was just a mystery I had to solve, at least to my own satisfaction.

So, here’s where I tell you I’m not a professional genealogist, and I’m not promising my conclusions are correct. For a few of the children, I only have a findagrave.com record that references someone else’s research from a 1955 book of someone else’s transcript of gravestones long gone.

And yet, the timing and place fit. They make sense to me, and that’s all I was looking for.

As I progressed, I realized I needed to graphically lay out the pertinent information as I found it, which meant a spreadsheet and a list.

I won’t bore you with them here, but will try to keep my conclusions succinct

John Garman was most likely born in 1810 or 1811. If we go by the age on his death certificate and use the online tombstone birthday calculator (yes, there is such a thing), we get a birth date in December of 1810.

He had three wives. I know this both from death certificates of his children and from marriage registers (though his name was spelled as German on two of them – not uncommon in a time of spell-it-as-it-sounds-to-you phonetics).

Magdalene “Martha” Dickerhoof – Married 1830 until her death in 1849 at the age of 38 (recorded in a book of Stark County early church records and findagrave.com). She’s buried in North Canton Cemetery, which is relevant because most the Garman graves are there.

Marriage Register for “Martha” Dickerhoof and John “German” – 1830

Mary Weaver – Married John in February of 1850. The 1850 census lists her age as 25, making her about 13 years younger than her husband. Best guess for year of death is early 1860s because she’s alive in 1860 with John and the aforementioned seven children. By 1870, she’s gone, and there’s a seven-year break in ages in the children.

Marriage Register for Mary Weaver and John “Garman” -1850

Catharine Hane – Married 1865 until John’s death in 1889. Catharine is listed in 1870 census as aged 32. John is 59. She dies in 1920 at the age of 81.

Marriage License and Return for Catharine Hane and John Garman – 1865

The Children

Barbara – Barbara’s life was brief and not well-documented. The only record I have is from findagrave.com, giving her date of death as 15 January 1832 and “d/o J and Magdalene.” However, the date fits, coming after John and Magdalene’s marriage and before their next child. Also, Barbara is buried in North Canton Cemetery, which also fits.

Caroline – Caroline also died young (age 21) and was buried in the same cemetery as her sister and mother, with the same notation on her stone. Unlike Barbara, jshe lived long enough to be counted in the 1850 census (aged 17) with her father, his new wife Mary, and three siblings and half-siblings.

Mary A – Mary was born on 15 November 1834 and outlived three husbands. In 1850, she also was living with her siblings and John and his wife Mary. Mary A outlived three husbands, marrying the last, Emanuel Sholley, when she was 73 and he was 75. Her third marriage license confirms Magdalene Dickerhoof as her mother and John Garman as her father. She died at 88 in New York, where she lived near one of her sons. Interestingly (to me, at least), her third husband was almost certainly related to my mother’s mother, whose maiden name was Sholley.

Susanna – Like her sister Barbara, Susanna was only around long enough to be found in findagrave, which provides details from a 1955 book called Cemetery Records Stark County Ohio.” The inscription provided says “d/o J and Magdalene Garman, age 1 year, 5 months,” giving a death date as 6 September 1840, buried in North Canton Cemetery.

Eliza Ann – Eliza’s life was also brief, and I’m guessing when I say she probably died in her first year. It’s possible she was born earlier, in the gap between Mary A and and Susanna perhaps. Either way, she couldn’t have been much over the age of five. All we know is what findagrave gives us: “d/o J and Magdalene,” death date 3 August 1840, buried in North Canton Cemetery. Take a moment to look at the date at the end of the previous paragraph and compare it to Eliza’s.

Sophia – On the other end of the spectrum is Sophia, who lived from 1841 to 1937. I’ll do the math (actually my genealogy program did): She died at age 95. We know she’s John’s daughter because she also is living with him in 1850. Her death certificate lists John Garman and Mary Dickerhoof as her parents. She’s buried not in North Canton, but in Greensburg Cemetery, near where she was raised.

Sarah Ann – Another sad one. Another findagrave record from a missing stone. Same reference book as Susanna, this time saying “d/o J and Magdalene, aged 9m, 15d,” with a death date of 23 October 1843, buried in North Canton Cemetery.

Samuel – Samuel is in North Canton Cemetery, “s/o J and Magdalene, aged less than 1 year,” died 16 September 1845 (findagrave).

Nancy – Born in 1846, we can only surmise Nancy is Magdalene’s daughter. Her death certificate lists only John Garman. However, since Magdalene was still alive in 1846, this seems likely. Nancy was living with John and Mary in 1850, married and lived in the same county all her life, eventually dying there in 1934 (age 87), and being buried in Akron.

1850 Census – Garman Household in Green Township, Summit County, Ohio

Magdalene – Magdalene is probably the first child of Mary and John, showing up in the 1860 census at age 8. By 1870, she’s gone. I found no trace of a marriage or death, though there’s a “Mary” Garman buried buried in nearby Massillon, born 1852, died 1900.

1860 Census – Mary Weaver Garman, John Garman and Children, Green Township

Louisa – Another possibility for Mary and John’s first child is Louisa. Although listed as age 7 in the 1860 census, her death certificate says she was born in 1851, also giving John Garman and Mary Weaver as her parents. She married, had children, and outlived her husband, dying in 1935, aged 83. On a side note, I found a military widow’s pension record for her for her husband’s service in the Civil War, and from the 1900 census, we see he was about 16 years older than her – making him about 33 to her 17 when they wed.

Pension file showing Louisa/Louise’s husband George’s invalid pension and (later) Louisa’s widow’s pension

Levi – The tragedy of a child’s death wasn’t limited to John and Magdalene. He and Mary also lost a child. Levi also could have been John and Mary’s first child, born in 1850, sometime after the census. Or perhaps he was born between Louisa and Lydia. I have no records for him except a findagrave one saying “s/o J and Mary,” death date 12 March 1856.

Lydia – Born in 1855, Lydia was married at 16, choosing Levi Reiter, aged 21,and therefore closer to her age than Louisa’s spouse. She died in 1920 and is buried in Canton (same county as North Canton).

John W., Jr. – With his father and mother, Mary, in the 1860 census, and his dad and stepmother, Catharine, in 1870, John Jr. married six years later, dying in Akron in 1933. His death certificate confirms his parents as John Garman and his mothers maiden name as Weaver.

Leah – My 2x great grandmother was born in 1858 to John and Mary, John’s 15th child. She has the interesting distinction of appearing twice in the 1870 census, on July 22 with her father and stepmother, and on July 26 with her sister Sophia and her husband. In 1876, at age 17, she married Rolandous Myers, a man 10 years her senior. They had 11 or 12 children, including my grandfather’s mother Sophia Viola. Leah died in 1920 at age 61 and is buried next to Rolandous in Summit County.

Top photo: Leah Garman (publicly shared Ancestry files). Bottom:Leah, husband Rolandous, and their children including my great grandma Sophia Viola (middle)

Sophia Viola and her husband, my great grandpa James Gideon Armstrong

William – Leah’s brother William was born in August of 1859. He died Christmas Day in 1860 and was buried in North Canton Cemetery, “s/o J and Mary Garman, age 1y, 4m, 12d.”All we know about him is from findagrave, with the information coming from the 1955 book mentioned earlier.

Adam – Another North Canton Cemetery grave holds William’s brother, who died 1 November 1861. Findagrave says only “s/o J and Mary Garman.”

Fianna – There is little information on Fianna, as well, just a transcript from her grave in North Canton Cemetery from findagrave: Death 22 February 1863, “d/o J and Mary Garman.”

Ellen R. – The first child of Catharine Hane and John, Ellen was born in December 1865 , when John was in his mid-fifties. The 1880 census confirms this, listing her as his daughter. Ellen’s death certificate also gives John and Catharine as her parents. Ellen married at 21, died in 1952, and was buried in North Canton Cemetery.

Franklin – John’s second son to survive childhood, Franklin was born in 1868, counted in the 1870 census with siblings Lydia, John, Leah, Ellen, and another brother. (This overlapping of children from different wives was partly how I realized most of the children I’d discovered truly were offspring of the same man.) Franklin married at 22, was widowed by age 41. He died in 1929, age 60, and was buried in Greensburg.

Charles – Charles also shows up in the 1870 census, aged 7 months. Married in 1890 at age 20, he died at age 25 in Green Township of myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord.

Edwin – In the 1880 census, Edwin is listed as Edward, age 8, but his birth records say Edwin and name his mother as Catharine Hain and father as John Garman. Since the 1890 census isn’t available, the next record I found is a record of enlistment, stating his age at enlistment as two years older. It may be him; it wasn’t uncommon for boys to lie about their age, and the young man in question was from Summit County where most of John’s children were raised. Or it could simply be someone with the same name. Either way, the man in question is noted as having deserted in 1893 – two years after joining. I Lund no one conclusive records on Edwin.

Is this our Edwin? Perhaps. Or perhaps not. The place and time are right, but there is no definitive link

Lewis – Edwin’s younger brother’s life is better documented. Lewis is present in the 1880 census, marries at 21, registers for the draft in 1918, and resides in Plain Township for the rest of his life, eventually dying in 1951 and being buried beside his wife in North Canton Cemetery. His death register gives his mother’s name as Mary, but I feel pretty confident this is merely an error made by his wife, who reported his death.

Emanuel – Born in 1877, Emanuel also appears in the 1880 census with his family. Like Lewis, he lives in Plain Township for most of his adult life and registers for the draft in 1918, on the same day as both Lewis and Daniel. I like finding draft registration documents because they give details on my ancestors’ physical features. Lewis was medium build and height with black hair and blue eyes. Emanuel was also medium build, but with light brown hair and light blue eyes. He married in 1901 at age 24, died of chronic pulmonary tuberculosis in 1935, and his death record gives his interment place as Zion Cemetery in North Canton. (Zion Cemetery was eventually renamed North Canton Cemetery.) The same record confirms his parents as John Garman and Catherine “Hayne.”

Daniel – Daniel was Emanuel’s twin, but his draft registration says he is short with a slender build, blue eyes, and brown hair. It also notes he has a “shorter right leg” and is “physically disfigured.” Starting out in Jackson Township after marrying in 1900, he and his wife also lived in Plain for a while, but spent their later years in Canton. Their marriage record confirms his parents as John and Catharine, as does Daniel’s death certificate in 1930 when he died of liver cancer. He is buried in Stark County.

Ida – John’s last born daughter was born in 1879, ten years before his death. Ida was just eight months old for the 1880 census. By the time she married in 1898, John had been dead nine years. She spent her life in Green Township, where her husband eventually owned a Ford dealership. Ida died in 1952, and her death certificate confirmed her parents as John and Catharine. (If you’re into cars, check out this website about her husband Charles’s dealership).

Frederick, Fredrick – John’s last child, Frederick, was born in 1882 when John was 72, and Catharine was 44. In 1900, Frederick lived with his brother, William, and William’s wife in Greensburg. He married in 1903, and by 1910, he and his wife were living in Plain. By 1920, they’d moved to Akron, and in 1942, he is a widower entering his second marriage. When he died in 1955, he was buried in north Canton Cemetery, next to his first wife.

Anna – Anna was the only one on the list I could disprove. She was born to her John and Catharine Garman in 1861 in McDonaldsville, but in 1860, they were in Madison, Hancock County. Her death certificate in 1947 lists her parents as John Garman and Catherine Haines. This seems to be an incredible coincidence, because she doesn’t show up on any other records with my John and any of his three wives, including Catharine Hane.

Twenty-seven children. Eleven dead before the age of 30. Of those remaining, at least five living well into their 80s. Three wives, two of whom were substantially younger (which does a lot to explain the number of children).

I find myself trying to imagine this many lives filled with so much loss, as well as joy, but can’t wrap my 21st century brain around it.

Still, I feel the lives of John Garman, his wives, and many children were worth sharing. I know it was a lot to read, and if you stuck through it to here, I thank you.

Bee Check Addendum: We had a peek at the bees over the weekend when temperatures reached into the 60s. All three hives are lively and seem well-populated, which was a relief since FreeBees haven’t been out flying near as much as Buzzers’ and NewBees.