Guardianship

Posted on: June 20th, 2007

“FROST, (illegible), late of Town of Rushford. Emeline Frost, minor age 16 on 21 April last, asks that Rachel Frost be appointed guardian. So ordered. 4 April 1855.” and
“FROST, (illegible), late of Town of Rushford. Amon Frost, minor age 19 on 11 November asks that Rachel Frost be appointed guardian. So ordered. 4 April 1855.”

Women in 19th century America did not have the same rights as men. Men traditionally willed their houses and belongings to their children, granting permission for the widow to stay there as long as she remained unmarried. Widows did not even have certain guardianship over their own children. A man could will guardianship as he chose fit, without permission or input from his wife. He could apprentice his children, bind them out, or marry them off as he saw fit without consideration from their mother. This was changing about the time that these probate requests were made. The time before the Civil War was full not only of discussions about the discuss the inequalities of slavery and life as a free black but also the inequalities of life as a woman. Several laws were put into effect prior to 1850, but it seems as though they were not enforced and that women were not always given the rights set forth by the government. Elizabeth Cady Stanton addressed the New York State legislature in Albany in February 1854, just a year before these requests were made, demanding that women be given equal rights, including the right to make decisions for their children.

While it is certainly possible that Rachel Frost’s own children had to request that their mother be appointed their legal guardian I would expect to see probate records for all four minor children. I wonder therefore if she was biological mother only two the two younger children, Malvina and Hiram and that Emaline and Amon were her husband’s children from a former marriage. For now, it remains a mystery.

Sources

USGenweb site for Allegany Co., NY – Guardianship Orders on file in the Allegany County Surrogate’s Office in Belmont, NY

National Park Service – Speech by Elizabeth Cady Stanton to the New York State Legislature in February 1854.

The Roots of Individualist Feminisim in 19th Century America – by Wendy McElroy (book excerpt).

Children of Rachael (Toll?) Frost

Posted on: June 20th, 2007

Hiram Frost??

b. Vermont or New York

d. bet. 1847 – 1850 probably Allegany Co., NY

m.

Rachael Toll (?)

b. abt 1812, Vermont

d. probably bet 1880 – 1900 (census), Ottawa Co., OH

Children:

Jeremiah “Jerry” (Jul 1833 – aft 1900) m. Sarah Ferguson

Jesse (abt 1834 – )

Amon (Nov 1834 – )

Emaline (Apr 1838 – )

Malvina (1842/1843 – Sep 1888) m. Albert A. Ferguson

Hiram (abt 1847 – Jul 1922 ) m. Maria or Matilda