When we last left Mary, she was deeply upset over her father’s punishment which forbid James and Mary from ever seeing each other again. Although Mary ended her diary after that last entry, I can still follow her life through the census, vital records, and other genealogical sources.

The first big event I can find occurs in September 1866 just nine months after the diary concludes. Mary had been waiting and waiting for this to happen and finally at the age of 16, Mary married 27 year-old James Sproat. Apparently father gave in. Below is their marriage certificate.

From there I looked at the agricultural census and the 1870 population census to see how their lives turned out. From the 1870 census, I discovered that Mary and James had a son, George, in 1868 and that they lived on a farm. I then turned to the agricultural census for 1870. It says that James Sproat had a good portion of land with a few horses, one cow, and one pig. Mary was probably used to doing farm work because in the same record I found that her father had quite a big farm with a few more animals than James had. As well as having animals, James also grew corn, oats,
and buckwheat as well as kept an orchard. He also made butter and cheese, a task Mary would have probably done.

I then went to the next census in 1880 and discovered that after George they had Robert, William, and Mary. I also found that their niece, Lillian Slack lived with them as well as James’ parents and his brother Wilfred. Did they move back to James’ house? I wonder why? As I kept looking at the census I noticed that for the occupation of James’ brother Wilfred, the cenu-taker recorded “Prisoner.” I looked in the Windsor county prison records for that year and didn’t find a Wilfred Sproat, so what does it mean? Another mystery.

Windsor Vermont State Prison, 1870s.

I’m afraid the next part of the story gets a bit sad. In 1883 Mary died in childbirth at the age of 33. Just four months later, her infant daughter died of Cholera Infantum, one symptom of which is diarrhea. Maybe the baby became ill from lack of breast milk?

After Mary’s death, James must have been distraught. With four other children to take care of as well as a farm to keep up, what was he going to do? The easiest solution was to remarry so the children would have someone to look after them. He remarried a year later to Mary E Parker who was hopefully a good step-mother to the children.

As you can see from the gravestones, James died 3 years after Mary did leaving three boys of the ages 10, 14, and 18. Look closely at the stones below. Even though James had remarried, his matching stone was placed next to Mary.

This is the end of Mary’s story. After following Mary through her life I’ve realized that although teenagers back then had more responsibilities, there are also similarities in the ways they worked at their educations, socialized with their friends, and thought about their futures.

Thanks for following along with me,