Mary Ann Goodwin, wife of John W. Stoddard

Not too long ago I wrote a short story of John Washburn Stoddard, my 3rd Great-Grandfather. Much of that story remains the same, clouded with a bit of mystery and several family burial plots sitting unmarked. Until I uncover the mystery behind that story and hopefully someday raise the money to respectfully mark their graves, I can provide short updates on this small part of my family tree.

Mary Ann Goodwin was probably born in Oxford, CT, (as was her mother, Sabra Goodwin), on 14 February 1830/31. Mary Ann’s birth year is a bit confusing because she marked both 1830 and 1831 at different times; the best I can tell is that 1831 is correct, but perhaps she fudged the numbers so when she was married in 1848 it appeared she was 18. Without knowing too much about her, she appears to have been a loving mother and a positive influence on her family. She gave birth to 5 children, only one dying prior to adulthood (John L. Stoddard, died at age 3 years, 9 months – see earlier article on John W. Stoddard). After marrying John in Burlington, CT, in 1848, they lived most of their lives in Farmington. They moved in 1885 due to unknown reasons, although being farmers, perhaps life on the farm became difficult and John needed to seek employment in a different manner; the family moved to Meriden and Mary Ann appears to have been very supportive. After her husband’s death in December 1889, and with her children living in the general area (Waterbury, New Britain, and Meriden), she began living with her children…different children at different times. Her two daughters were not married (one never married, the other a widow) and they provided care and shelter, along with her son Nathan. The end of Mary Ann’s life is difficult to state for certain because she appears mainly in city directories and census reports as a resident, so only her address is known. Her final permanent residence was New Britain, CT, so I visited the town clerk there. Interestingly, they did have a record of her death, but merely a note that advised those concerned to visit Middletown, CT. A very mysterious treasure hunt to be sure…off to Middletown. The town clerk (actually, the Health Dept. in Middletown) had Mary Ann’s death certificate…she spent her final few days and died at the Connecticut Hospital for the Insane, which is why the record of her death was in Middletown, CT.

I was sad to think of Mary Ann’s last days being spent in a hospital for the insane, but at the beginning of the 20th century there were very limited places for adequate care…and mental illness, more than 100 years after Mary Ann’s death, still caries significant stigmas and shame from our society. I read a number of interesting articles online regarding early 20th century care for the mentally disabled (in Mary Ann’s case, likely some form of dementia) and was able to contact the hospital, requesting Mary Ann’s medical record. To my great surprise, after filling out the appropriate paperwork, I received a copy of her record that had been preserved on micro-film. Poor Mary Ann had become overwhelmed with feelings of insecurity and was filled with fear that people were trying to take away the last few things that she held dear. She died after a short stay in the hospital on 3 April 1903, at the age of 73, a little more than a dozen years after the death of her beloved husband. She was buried in an unmarked grave at Riverside Cemetery in Farmington, CT, next to her husband.

The rest of Mary Ann’s family remains a mystery. Her mother’s name was Sabra Goodwin…maiden name unknown. According to Mary Ann’s marriage record, her father’s name was Joseph Goodwin. After several hours of research, it does not appear that there is a Joseph Goodwin who married a woman named Sabra (from Oxford, CT) during the early 19th century, at least not from the well-known Goodwin family of CT, descendants of William and Ozias. There is some evidence that Joseph Goodwin was an immigrant from Canada or perhaps directly from England, but this information is circumstantial at best. If there is a solid connection to be made someday, I will certainly provide an update. For now, this is the story of Mary Ann (Goodwin) Stoddard, quietly resting along a beautiful river in Farmington, CT.