Why Did Mell Marry Eliza?

Why did John Melvin French marry Eliza Ann Sickler? Did he love her from afar? Was it a spur of the moment business arrangement between her father Ziba Sickler and John and his father who were employed to build homes for Sickler?

John Melvin French (Myron's father) Old Bung) High res

John Melvin French was nicknamed “Old Bung” we have no idea why exactly or who had the nerve to call him that. I suppose it was behind his back. He was often in bad mood I am told.

Here’s a photo of Eliza taken shortly before she died of a stroke, with her is her sister Hattie Sickler Sawyer, who resembled their mother. I reassemble the unsmiling Eliza in many ways right down to that huge abdomen!

Eliza Sickler French shortly before she died.


Miss Eliza Ann Sickler’s Childhood

Elizabeth Ann Sickler was born Aug. 5, 1856 in Exeter Twp, Wyoming Co. PA. She was the third of seven children born to Ziba Sickler and his wife Charlotte Ferguson.

Ziba Sickler, Myron and Raymond French1.jpg

Ziba Sickler with his two grandsons my own Grandpa Myron E. French on Ziba’s right and his older brother Ziba Raymond on his left.

Charlotte Sickler- G GRandma

Charlotte Ferguson Sickler always had a frown on her face, even when a younger woman, was it her Scottish upbringing?  Maybe after loosing little Charlie she became a bitter woman.

CHILDREN of Ziba and Charlotte Sickler

Mary Sickler b. March 1, 1852 d. March 2., 1878. We have no idea how 26 year old Mary died but I’m assuming we will find this in the local Tunkhannock papers since the Sicklers were so well known at that time.

Charles Sickler b. Oct. 28, 1854 d. Oct. 12, 1861. Charlie and his father’s team of horses was run over by a train in a horrific accident reported in the papers.

Terrible Accident in Pittston Charles Sickler1861

Eliza Ann Sickler b. Aug. 5, 1856 d. Nov. 2, 1922,

Marvin Sickler b. Oct. 9, 1861. His mother has given birth to him three days before his older brother 8 year old Charlie was killed by the train, can you imagine that poor woman going through all that?

Clarence Sickler b. Dec. 5, 1863 d.

Elnora (Nora) Sickler b. Oct. 15, 1870 she died Nov. 6, 1965, as an old made with a ‘hairlip’ or cleft palate.

Harriet Sickler b. Aug. 3, 1873 or 4 d. March 13, 1936.

Margaret Sickler b. July 15, 1876 d. Sept 10, 1993 at seven years of age. Eliza was 20 years old when she was born and Charlotte was 43! Here is her obit:

Obit Ziba Sickler's youngest child 14 Sept 1883

Quite honestly I know nothing about Eliza’s childhood. I know of the deaths of her siblings and that is all. We have yet to find Ziba and Charlie’s graves. Perhaps Charlie is buried in Exeter Twp., Wyoming Co. on the family farm. I’m not even sure if I have Mary and Margaret’s gravestone photos.





Miss Eliza, the Unhappy Mrs.?

After Eliza was forced to marry John Melvin French they went on to have a not so happy marriage. I suppose they weren’t even in love when they married, since Eliza obviously loved her first suitor Thomas Sprague.  Here is an old family tale told by Eliza’s daughter-in law Dorothy who married Eliza’s son Myron E. French:

John more commonly known as ‘Mell’ by family and friends was very frugal and begrudged Eliza money for things she needed on more than one occasion according to my grandma. One day an older Eliza got $20.00 to pay for some meat from the local butcher that Mell had ordered her to pick up, and when Grandma French saw all that money she took Eliza off to the store to buy petticoats, gloves and handkerchiefs of which she sorely needed but was never allowed to buy.  I imagine Mell was fit to be tied over that one and grandma was more than happy to pull one over on her father-in-law. Here is a photo of Eliza as a young wife. I have no idea what age she was.

Eliza Ann Sickler Older wife

Miss Eliza Elopes

My great grandma Eliza Ann Sickler eloped with a ‘barkeeper’ named Thomas Sprague. Her daddy who was a prominent businessman decided to rescue her with the help of my future great grandfather before it was too late! The year was 1875 and Eliza was 19 years old.  This interesting fact and family soap opera was reported in a local weekly paper, over a series of weeks. Here’s the first installment of her story. I’m assuming the Sickler and French families were mortified to find this report in the local paper.

Eliza Sickler French age 19

Eliza Ann Sickler French

This tintype of Eliza Ann Sickler was probably taken on the day she got married since her married name is scrawled on the back. She doesn’t look too happy! Here’s the first newspaper installment:

Shooting Affray March 24, 1875 001 red 3


Genealogists… What method do you use to store your information? Are thumb-drives better than a DVD for your census, tombstone, newspaper articles etc.?  I’m just getting used to having a thumb-drive left permanently in the PC for my genealogy research storage. At first I thought I lost files from the old thumb-drive but they are all there of the ones copied last year. Now we have a 32 Gig one on which they were transferred. I hope this works out for me.

I Lost it All…

Our computer crashed a few weeks ago and I lost all my genealogical files. Thankfully we had downloaded all our files to a thumb-drive last year but all my new census pages, family photos, tombstone photos, and newspaper articles are gone! I have since learned my lesson! This week I will begin work at finding them and adding them back on a brand new 32 Gig thumb drive- MY own personal thumb-drive that is. Meanwhile I need to transfer my files from the old thumb drive onto the hard drive and then transferring onto the new thumb-drive.

On Labeling Genealogical Records — Brianna Audrey Wright

Earlier this year, on a complete whim, I wrote a post about my 3x great-grandmother, Minnie Igle Wildrick. I was browsing around on my family tree and for whatever reason, I kept returning to Minnie’s profile page. Okay, I said. Let’s begin telling your story. Little did I know that that post would bring me […]

via On Labeling Genealogical Records — Brianna Audrey Wright