Updated: Jan 27, 2019
Olive Jane Jacobs was born in January of 1876, in New York - probably in Candor, Tioga County, where her family was counted on the census in 1880.
The family was still in Candor in 1892, but Mariette had moved out. [Notice the Daniels neighbors. These may be related to Percy Daniels who later married Vena Dykeman. A closer look at Merritt Daniels' ancestry may reveal new information].
Olive married Arthur Dykeman in Candor on November 7, 1897. Their daughter, Vena Dykeman, was born there ten months later, on September 10, 1898. In between, though, the tragic death of Arthur's mother, Mahala, occurred, possibly altering the course of the young couple's family plans.
In 1900, when the census was taken, Arthur was working as a servant in the home of a farmer, Charles Upson, in Genoa, Cayuga County. Genoa is about 37 miles north of Candor.
Olive, and daughter, Vena, were living with Olive's parents, John and Polly Jacobs, in Candor. Olive's unmarried sister, Laura E. Jackobs, age 39, was also living in the home.
Five years later, in 1905, Olive was a 28-year old housekeeper living in the home of 41-year old John Swansbrough and his two teenage sons, Harvey and Ray. They lived in Danby, Tompkins County, New York, which is 12 miles northwest of Candor. Notice, Olive's daughter, Vena wasn't living in the home:
Vena was still living in Candor in the home of her grandparents and her Aunt Laura:
The following year, the Ithaca Daily News reported the following under the column "Notes from Danby":
"The house on the farm known as the Augustus Cumming's farm and occupied by John Swansbrough was burned to the ground Thursday night". (Ithaca Daily News, Friday Evening, June 1, 1906, page 2 Column 2).
On the next census, in 1910, Olive was listed as John Swansbrough's wife, married for three years. Harvey and Ray were no longer living in the home but two other sons, J. B. and Frank Swansbrough were. Olive's sister, Laura, was living in the home with them now, as were Vena Dykeman (age 11), and Mahala Dykeman (age 7). Vena and Mahala were listed as step-daughters of John.
First, where did Frank come from? He was born about 1902, so where was he when the 1905 census was taken? A marriage certificate for Frank shows he married Cecile Benton in 1926. On the marriage license, his parents names were given as John Swansbrough and Frannie White.
Next, Mahala was born about 1903, so where was she in 1905? Neither appear to have been counted on the 1905 census in Candor. Finally, were John and Olive really married? Yes, a search of the New York State Marriage Index proves they truly were. They married in Candor on September 16, 1907.
Judging from Mahala's name, it appears she was probably a daughter of Arthur, and was named after his mother, Mahala. On her 1922 marriage license, her parents names are given as Arthur Dykeman and Olive Jacobs, but where she was in 1905 remains a mystery for now. Mahala married Carl Samuel Walden. (Tompkins County Marriage Records, #2435).
When the 1915 census came around, Olive was no longer in the home. Her sister, Laura, was called John's wife and Vena and Mahala were still living in the home. Vena was 16. Where was Olive?
I turned to the New York State Death Index for answers. Browsing through the index for Swansbrough's who died starting in 1910, I found the entry for Olive J. Swansbrough, who died in Candor on June 23, 1914. So, it is confirmed - Olive died and by 1915 her sister, Laura, stepped in to fill her shoes.
A closer look at the records of Jay B. Swansbrough, son of John, reveals a surprising twist, however. His birth certificate shows his parents were John Swansbrough and Mariette Jacobs. Remember, Mariette (or Maryetta) Jacobs was Olive and Laura's other sister, counted in the home with them on the 1880 census, above? Sure enough, the New York State Marriage Index shows John Swansbrough and Maryetta Jacobs were, in fact, married in Candor on November 21, 1885. They were counted on the census together in Danby in 1892 and 1900. But what happened? This question has yet to be answered. Maryetta doesn't appear in the death index in the years 1910 to 1915, so it appears they were divorced. There was a woman named Mary Swansbrough, born abt. 1866, working as a Servant in the home of the Ridgeway family in Caroline, Tompkins County, in 1905, but I can't be sure this is Mariette. Nothing more is known of her at this point. If anyone knows more, please comment below or contact me.
No marriage record has been found for John Swansbrough and Laura Jacobs, but her 1940 obituary claims she was his widow, so in light of all these facts, John Swansbrough married three of the Jacobs sisters!
New York State marriage license index on Ancestry.com #21035
New York State death index, 1914 Cert #36772
New York State birth index, Cert. #816343
1880 U.S. Federal Census, Candor, Tioga, New York
1892 New York State Census, Candor, Tioga, New York
1900 U.S. Federal Census, Candor, Tioga, New York
1900 U.S. Federal Census, Genoa, Cayuga, New York
1910 U.S. Federal Census, Candor, Tioga, New York
1915 New York State Census, Candor, Tioga, New York