Monday, November 19, 2012

Matrilineal Monday ~ Nancy Rainey Freeland

I have written about long-lived maternal ancestors before. One third great-grandmother, Nancy (Rainey) Freeland, who died about 1903 was well into her 80's, if not 90 when she died. She outlived her husband by over 40 years.

Determining her birth date from census records is a challenge, as most of them indicate a different birth year.

In the 1900 U.S. Census, Nancy Freeland lives at 1415 Buena Vista Street in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania with two unmarried children.

This census record says that she was born in December 1813, is 86 years old and a widow. She was mother of 7 [?] children, of whom three are still living. (I'm only sure of five of these children-see below.) She was born in Ireland (and her parents were born in Ireland). She immigrated in 1831, and has been living in the United States for 69 years. She (as well as the others in the household) can read, write, and speak English, and she rents her home.

Her household includes her son, William J. Freeland, who was born in August 1854, age 45 years. His occupation is "Conductor R R" and he was not out of work in the prior twelve months.

Also in the home is her daughter, Anna C., born in February 1857, age 43 years, and a schoolteacher. She was out of work for 10 months in the prior year.

There is also a 23-year-old Pennsylvania-born servant, Myrtle Kniess.


Twenty years earlier, in 1880, the U.S. Federal Census shows widowed Nancy Freeland living at 87 Buena Vista Street in Allegheny with three unmarried children.

In this census record, Nancy is listed at 65 years old, implying a birth year of about 1815. She has a mark in the column indicating she is a widow and her occupation is "Keeping House."

Her son William J. is 27 years old (born about 1853) and works as "R.R. Brakeman. One daughter is listed as Claude A., age 25 (born about 1855) and a School Teacher. I have long puzzled about whether Claude A. in 1880 is Anna C. in 1900, and I am pretty sure they are the same person. (I have found many names for this third great aunt.) A younger daughter, Emma, is 22 (born about 1858) and also a School Teacher. I lose track of Emma after this census, so she either married, thus changing her surname, or died.

And here are the Freelands as listed in the Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny cities, 1880:


The 1870 U.S. Federal Census has the Freeland family in the 2nd Ward Allegheny [City], Pennsylvania.

Nancy Freeland is 55 years old (born about 1815 in Ireland), and a widow with a value in personal estate of $100. The marks in the following columns indicate that she can read and write English.

Although it is not indicated in the 1870 Census, it is likely that the following are her children:
William Freeland, age 17, born in Pennsylvania, and a "Drug Clerk."
Edward Freeland, age 12, born in Pennsylvania, and "At School."
Mary Freeland, age 20, born in Pennsylvania, and a "Dress Maker." This is my 2nd great grandmother, whose picture you can view here.
Clara Freeland, age 15, born in Pennsylvania, and "At School."
Emma Freeland, age 12, born in Pennsylvania, and "At School."

They can all read and write English and the marks in the farthest right-hand column indicate those who attended school during the previous year.

These are the five children that I know of. In 1900, she indicated that she was the mother of seven, three of whom were still living (William, Anna/Claudine/Clara, and Mary, my 2nd great-grandmother). Based on federal census records, I wonder if Edward died sometime between 1870 and 1880 and Emma died sometime between 1880 and 1900.

See my post about her husband, James Freeland, to see Nancy in the census ten years earlier. After he died, leaving her a widow with five young children, by 1867, she was using her skills as a dressmaker to take care of her family, as this city directory entry from Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny cities 1867/1868 shows:

So her birth year was somewhere between 1813 (1900 Census) and 1821 (1860 Census).

I believe this to be
Nancy Rainey Freeland
Based on the fact that I find her in the Pittsburgh and Allegheny directory in 1903, but not in 1904, I'm guessing that she died in 1903. And in looking closely at these directories and entering some details into Family Tree Maker, I realized that my 3rd great-grandmother, Nancy Rainey Freeland, in dying in 1903 (at an age somewhere between 82 and 90), survived my 2nd great-grandmother, Mary Freeland Hunter, who died in 1902 at age 52, by a year.

See group photos of family members here.

In the 1901, 1902, and 1903 Pittsburgh directories, she is living at 3623 Perrysville Avenue, where her daughter Mary Freeland Hunter lived with her large family. See a photo of this house here.

I am descended from James Freeland and Nancy Rainey as follows:

James Freeland  =  Nancy Rainey
Mary Freeland
Percy Earle Hunter
Helen Lysle Hunter
My mother


  1. Another excellent use of census to tell the story of their life. Have you found birth records or bibles to firm up her birth date?

    1. No other records to confirm Nancy's birth. I'll bet she's buried in PIttsburgh somewhere, so perhaps Find-A-Grave could be a resource...