29 July 2012

Anna (Sadler) Hamilton: Not So Happy in Breckenridge

The story of Anna Sadler and her husband, Robert Hamilton, is described well in Dr. Sandra F. Mather's book, They Weren't All Prostitutes and Gamblers: The Women of Summit County from 1859 to the Turn of the Century.  While researching for her book Dr. Mather found Anna's diary in the state archives for the years of 1885 and 1887. From these entries, we learn that Anna was not a happy bride in the town of Breckenridge. Few friends, depressed over the course of the long winter's, and missing the joy she found in teaching back home in Illinois. (Chapter 15, the last in the book, is devoted to the couple's profile.)

Sadly, the story ends with a huge question mark, as the end of Anna's life remains undetermined.

A small part of historic Breckenridge, Colorado where Anna and
Rob made their home in the late 1800's.
Photo copyright of Jen Baldwin, Ancestral Journeys.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Mather, and discussing Anna's story with her. She challenged me: as a genealogist, find out what happened to Anna. Dr. Mather is actually a geologist, who happens to do historical research while living in Summit County during the summer months. She set this in front of me, and of course, I couldn't resist.

From the text of the book, I was able to compile a decent timeline for both Anna and Robert, including some information on property, occupations, even some health issues. However, the text says nothing about children, or either of their parents (with the exception of where they were born.)  We can learn that they lived in Summit County, Denver County, and Weld County (all in Colorado), and spent some time in Oxford, Nebraska.

So, I have a few stops to make that will initially clear up some of the questions that immediately occur:

  1. Census Records
  2. Land Records - it was indicated to me that Dr. Mather did not include the BLM records in her searches
  3. Birth, Marriage, Death Records
The basics, right? 

Let us see where that takes us, and move from there. I've been promised copies of Dr. Mather's research, which I expect to get this next week, and that will help. 

I have to admit, I'm excited and honored to be working with a local historian and author that is so well respected in this community. I only hope now that I can see this through to the end and provide some real closure on this chapter of local history.

Chapter 15 ends like this: 
"But it can be hoped that the last two entries in her diary of 1887 were not the sort of entries that she wrote at the end of her life. These last entries, December 24 and 25, indicated that she gave Rob gifts for Christmas, but had had none for her. On Christmas Day, she wrote, that 'all husbands except Rob had gifts for their wives.' How sad."
Sad is right.

[Sandra F. Mather, PhD., is the author of at least ten books, all discussing the history and geology of Summit County, Colorado. She is a volunteer for both the Summit Historical Society and the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.]


  1. Great post and great project! I'm so glad you've decided to tackle this! Don't forget to check probate records. Check for both their parents as well if you can figure out who they are.

  2. Thanks, Marian! Everything so far is pointing towards Quebec for the parents, and I have zero experience there. So, any suggestions on the probate end? Appreciate your comments! ~Jen

  3. What an exciting opportunity, Jen! It sounds like fascinating work.

    1. Thanks, Shelley! Still working on it, still enjoying it! ~ Jen

  4. I found this very interesting. Looking forward to your other posts.

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