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Cora (Sherman) Leonard & Arthur Leonard

Lewis F. Leonard and Cora (Sherman) Leonard were my 2nd great-grandparents, shown in the photo below. In 1892, they were living in Summerhill, Cayuga County, New York. They had three children at the time, Alma, James and Ethel May Leonard. This family portrait must have been taken about 1893 or 1894, before their youngest son, Albert, was born, but why Alma is missing from the photo is a mystery. If anyone knows, please comment below!

Lewis's mother, Mary (Brown) Leonard, was living just a few miles away in Locke with his brothers, Arthur and Irving Leonard, in 1892.

Soon after the 1892 census was taken, Lewis moved his family moved to Tioga County, Pennsylvania, about 92 miles southwest of Summerhill, just across the Pennsylvania border. I'm assuming it was for employment that they moved there, but if anyone knows for sure, please let us know. Were the other Leonards in Tioga County related? Maybe someday we'll find those answers, but for now it's a mystery.

Lewis and Cora's son, Albert Jay Leonard, was born in Osceola, Pennsylvania, on Dec. 15, 1895. This map shows the distance between Summer Hill and Osceola. The state border is highlighted in yellow.

Distance from Summer Hill, NY to Osceola, PA (Google Maps)

Sadly, Lewis died before Albert turned two years old. He died on Oct. 16, 1897, in Westfield, Pennsylvania, just a few miles west of Osceola. He was only 28 years old and the cause of death was Typhoid Fever.

Cora was left with four young, fatherless children, but we find her and three of her children, James, Ethel, and Albert living in Lodi, Seneca, New York, when the census was taken in 1900. Her daughter, Alma, was 12 years old and living as a "Boarder" in the home of James & Polly Robinson in Summerhill. Cora and the children were living with a man named Arthur Leonard, and she was listed as his wife. Originally, upon seeing this years ago, I'd assumed Lewis's brother, Arthur, had taken them in and that they weren't really married, but in a recent search for more information, I found a brief notice of a marriage between "Arthur Leonard of Locke" and "Miss Cora Leonard of Owasco". The marriage occurred July 26, 1898, in Aurora, Cayuga, New York. The newspaper clipping is shown below.

The marriage announcement called her "Miss" Cora Leonard, but the children in Arthur's home on the 1900 census (shown below) confirm this was, in fact, Mrs. Cora (Sherman) Leonard, the widow of Lewis Leonard. Note also that it was indicated on the 1900 census that this was both Arthur and Cora's first marriage, which clearly wasn't true, as Lewis and Cora were confirmed to have been married in 1886 (Certificate #17385).

But was this actually Arthur Russell Leonard? Did Cora marry her husband's brother nine months after he died? Well, since the marriage notice identified the groom as "Arthur Leonard of Locke", and we know Lewis's brother, Arthur, was living in Locke in 1892 (census shown at top), it seems probable. There were no other men named Arthur Leonard in all of Cayuga County in 1892. There were three other men named Arthur Leonard, born in the 1870s, who were counted on the 1892 New York State Census. They were: Arthur Leonard of Pompey, Onondaga County; Arthur Leonard of Newfane, Niagara County; and Arthur Leonard of Milton, Saratoga County.

According to the 1900 census, Cora's husband, Arthur, was born in June 1873 and he worked as a Day Laborer. Arthur Russell Leonard was born May 25, 1876, but I can't find him anywhere on the census in 1900. He may have been excluded from that census, which wasn't unheard, especially in the case of unmarried young men and women, who often boarded with other families temporarily and not reported.

At any rate, the marriage between Arthur and Cora didn't last long, and in May of 1904, Cora filed for divorce. It was published in The Genoa Tribune for several days as follows:

A critical piece of this puzzle is in the next fact we find. The New York Marriage Index for 1903 proves that Arthur Russell Leonard married Alveretta Sincerbeaux on December 24, 1903, at Auburn, Cayuga County, New York. This is what tells us that Cora's second husband, Arthur, couldn't have been the same Arthur who married Alveretta. He and Alveretta were legally married four months before Cora filed for divorce.

In 1905, Cora was living in Venice, Cayuga County, with no husband. She lived with her two brothers, Bert and Elias Sherman, and two of her children, Albert and Ethel May Leonard. Her son, James, was counted in the home of the neighbor, Joseph Skuder.

By 1910, Cora was living in nearby Moravia with her two sons, James Leonard and Albert J. Leonard, her daughter, Ethel, and Ethel's husband, William Bross. Ethel and William had just been married on October 20, 1909, in nearby Venice, and later that year, on Nov. 19, 1910, James married Zaida K. Brown, daughter of Clay Brown and Alice (Underwood) Brown, which is a story for next week's post, which you'll be able to find here (next week).

Cora died on December 22, 1914, in Moravia. Her obituary can be found here. It is said that her son, Albert's hair turned white right after she died, which is astounding, if true, because he was only 19 years old at the time. She was said to have been buried in Indian Mound Cemetery.


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