Unlabeled Dodge Photo - Believed Sarah & AdelaThe origins and lives of Rufus and Sarah Dodge probably make them one of the most mysterious, confusing, and intriguing couples in my family tree. They have definitely caused me the most grief in my digging, but in Sarah's case, the most rewarding when I found answers.
By the 1840 Census, Sarah is living under her mother Harriet Bryant's household in Warren, Trumbull, Ohio with 3 brothers and 4 sisters.8
Family record believes that Rufus Dodge and Sarah Bryant were married on 11 Jun 1844 in Sharon, Mercer, Pennsylvania.2, D Sharon was just up the road a few miles from Pulaski, Lawrence, Pennsylvania, Sarah's mother's location on the 1850 census.E
Together they lived in what’s written as Springfield, Mahoning, Ohio in 1860 where Rufus was working as a Day Laborer.12, F They would have 3 daughters, Harriet Adaline, Frances Jane and Georgia Anna. Rufus and Sarah liked to use nicknames and nicknamed their daughters Hattie, Frankie, and Georgie.
Dodge Family 1880 CensusBy 1863, Rufus is officially documented in the profession of stage coach driver in Springfield13 and later referred to as a Teamster. Rufus would have driven paying customers from town to town like a long distance taxi. It is believed he held this profession much longer than noted.G Stage coach driving was dying by the mid 1860's as the railroad was taking the passenger market away from stage coaches. The logical transformation was for Rufus to become a teamster. Teamsters would drive supply wagons pulled by horses from town to town making him the trucker or semi-truck driver of the 1800’s.
Soon after (somewhere between 1864-1865), the Dodge family relocated from Petersberg and moved to North Ridgeville, Lorain, Ohio (known as "Ridgeville Township" until 1960). The Dodge family was living here by the summer of 1865, when eldest daughter Harriet married Joseph Wilford.14
In the summer of 1868, Harriet would pass away from consumption15 (now known as tuberculosis) and her daughter Adela Harriet Wilford, who is just over a year old, would come to live with her grandparents Rufus and Sarah.
In 1870, the U.S. Census was take in North Ridgeville on the 20th of August. The Dodge household was counted with Rufus, 43, as head of household, wife Sarah, 42, daughter Frances, 7, and granddaughter Adela Wilford, 3.16
Sarah's Death in Lorain Co. Reporter (1897)On the 1880 census we find Rufus, 53, and Sarah Dodge, 51, living in (North) Ridgeville, Lorain, Ohio with daughters Frances J., 17, Georgie A., 7, and granddaughter Adella H. Wilford, 13.17
In 1884, daughter Georgiana would also pass away of Erysipelas in what the local paper called a “painful sickness of 3 or 4 days”. Georgie was only 12 years old. The paper went on to say “She was a favorite in school, and her schoolmates draped her desk and seat in mourning, and erected a beautiful arch of flowers over them.” 18
Unsourced clipping of Sarah's Death (1897)Sarah Dodge died on 18 Jan 1897 in North Ridgeville, Lorain, Ohio1 at either 67 or 69 years (depending on the year of birth you use). She was buried on 20 Jan 1897 19, 20 in what is believed to be Ridgeville Center Cemetery in North Ridgeville, Lorain, Ohio. (Ridgeville is unable to verify a burial plot, even with my certificate of purchase, as their burial map died with the original sexton and no headstone can be found for Sarah. This most likely means Sarah was buried without a headstone in an unmarked grave on the cemetery grounds. It's possible she was buried next to her mother Harriet Harris who does have a headstone.)
William Bryant, bef 1779 - 22 Aug 1834
Harriet Harris, 06 Feb 1802 - 13 Mar 1876
Rufus Dodge, 16 Dec 1825 - 23 Feb 1907
- Harriet Adaline "Hattie" Dodge, 29 Mar 1847 – 31 Jul 1868
- Frances Jane "Frankie" Dodge, 29 Jun 1862 – 09 Jul 1943
- Georgia Anna "Georgie" Dodge, 21 Jun 1872 – 25 Oct 1884
A Sarah's sibling Jane Elizabeth Bryant, who is also said to be born in 1827 (confilcting with Sarah's birth year), is also the daughter of Harriet Harris. Jane Elizabeth died young and her children made certian to save documents and paperwork stating her birth date and location in Binghamton, Broome County, New York. It's likely Sarah was actually born in 1829. Not only is there a gap between Sarah's siblings that can place her here, but census records, where the information was likely to come from her directly, seem to average 1829 as her year of birth as well.
B Sarah's daughter's death record references her maiden name yet incorrectly lists her birthplace as North Ridgeville, Ohio. An uncited local obituary also lists her maiden name and provides a nickname "Sally" as well, however possibly in error.
C Sarah's youngest sister Helen states her whole life as being born in Ohio while all other siblings state they were born in NY.
D No state records exist to back this up as marriage records weren't kept in Mercer County until 1880's.
E The Dodge family is missing on the 1850 census. I've checked everywhere and no amount of search combinations, misspellings or wildcards across Ancestry, FamilySearch or HeritageQuest can come up with a result. I've also manually browsed through Pulaski without luck.
F Occasionally, I see records listing Petersberg instead of Springfield, it appears Petersberg is small town about 3 miles south of Springfield along the Pennsylvania border. It's common a slightly larger town that may have jurisdiction over the smaller village or township will get listed in some records instead of the actual location of residence.
G The rapid decline of stage coaches makes it harder to believe he just suddenly decided in the 3 years following the 1860 census to join a quickly dying field. Especially when his brother-in-law "Frank" had been a stage coach driver for 30 years, and would have been able to deter him and explain how work was drying up.
While we know Sarah and Jane Bryant were sisters (a photo held by Jane's family of mother Harriet Harris-Bryant-Platt removes any doubt) we are unsure about which family has the correct year of birth for their ancestor. Both Sarah and Jane's families have documents written by their respective ancestor's children saying their ancestor was born in 1827. However, only one has the year accurate. Which one is it?