Saturday, August 6, 2011

What Happened to Jane McDonald Post Stafford?

Ok, the question you might have is "Who is Jane McDonald Post Stafford?"Jane showed up in several blog entries in late 2009 and early 2010 as the woman from Bovina accused of murdering her father.  John McDonald, who lived near Cabin Hill, just over the line from Bovina, died in the winter of 1819.  His daughter Jane, along with her brother Cornelius, was arrested in April 1821 after a coroner's inquest determined the death was not accidental. The siblings accused each other of the crime. In July, Cornelius admitted that he lied about his sister murdering their father and she was released. Cornelius was not convicted of murder but was convicted of perjury.

At the time of the murder, Jane was the wife of Robert Post and had an infant son, also named Robert.  At some point in the 1820s, she apparently was widowed.  Around the same time as her brother went to prison, Barber Stafford also went to the same prison for theft.  It appears that Jane and Barber met at some point, maybe during visits to her brother (though if my brother had tried to finger me for murder, I wonder if I would have really felt like visiting him).  It's also possible they knew each other before he went to prison.  However they met, Jane and Barber were married and had a son, also named Barber, around 1830.  They may also have had a daughter. 

Jane and Barber moved around. They were in Roxbury in 1840, Gilboa in 1850 and back in Roxbury in 1860. By 1867, Jane was on her own, possibly widowed and destitute. In July 1867, the Overseers of the Poor for the town of Bovina ruled that her son from her first marriage, Robert Post, was to provide care for her. This is the whole document below (click on the image for a larger version), with a transcript:

We the undersigned overseers of the poor of the town of Bovina in the County of Delaware do certify that Jane Stafford is a poor person, old incompetent so as to be unable to work to maintain herself – that she has a son residing in said town by the name of Robert Post who is of sufficient ability to support his mother and the only relative of sufficient means residing in said county to support or to contribute to her support and who has heretofore supported his mother in his family which has been done in a manner suitable to his circumstances and condition in life and according to the ability and circumstances of the said Robert Post and which is hereby approved by us – and we do further order and direct the said Robert Post to support and maintain his said mother in his family furnishing her with the same board and nourishment as he and his family have and to keep her in all respects in the manner he has heretofore.

Dated at Bovina this 20th day of July 1867.

Alexander Kinmouth and John Murray, Overseers of the Poor of the Town of Bovina

So poor Jane did not have the happiest life. She was accused of murdering her father, was widowed with a young child, and then marries a convicted felon for her second husband.  She was to have further stress in  1845 when her son from her second marriage was arrested and convicted in the shooting of Sheriff Osman Steele during the Anti-Rent War (he was later released due to his extreme youth - he was around 15).  Near the end of her life, she finds herself destitute and has to get the town to make her son carry out his filial duty to her. We don't know exactly when Jane died, but it likely was before 1870. She is buried in the Nichols Cemetery on Cape Horn.

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