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Phoebe Ann Bronson Garrabrant b 9/28/1859

One of my 8 great, great grandmothers-Phoebe Ann Bronson, was born September 28, 1859 on the  NJ side of Greenwood Lake. Her family lived in Warwick, NY which is not far from Greenwood Lake. I believe that her mother moved in with her sister to have the baby, as census records show Phoebe's aunt, Elizabeth Decker Leachman, residing in Greenwood Lake. Phoebe's parents were Edward Bronson and Anna Maria Decker, both from Warwick, NY (in Orange County). 

Phoebe was the youngest of 4 children. (However in the 1900 census her mother reportedly gave birth to 6 children in total, only 3 of which were living in 1900). Pheobe had sisters Harriet, Sarah and brothers John and William. The family was relatively poor, however they did manage to live in a house at 130 South Street Extension in Warwick, which I have seen, so they were not likely impoverished. Phoebe's father Edward did not own any property but he was a farmer. My suspicion is that he farmed on land connected to his wife's kin. Anna Maria's paternal grandparents may have owned, at one time, property in the area called "The Drowned Lands" which may be where Edward farmed. Anna Maria's great grandfather was Samuel Knapp who was a landowner and left some of the land to his daughter Phoebe Knapp Decker and her son Jesse Decker (Ann Maria's father).

In any case, Phoebe was almost 3 when her father enlisted in "The Ironsides", company 176th infantry. He may have come home periodically, but he wasn't home permanently until the end of the civil war in 1865. I am not sure what the family did for money during that time, but I'm sure it was not easy. Edward Bronson was captured in Louisiana and was held captive for a brief time, before heading home and changing regiments. He was 50 when Phoebe was born, so he was not a young man at the time of the war. 

Warwick, NY was a charming village in those days as it is now. The family home is still standing and is about 1 mile from the main strip. Phoebe was likely to have been educated. From my grandmother's recollection (Phoebe was my grandmother's grandmother) Phoebe was an energetic, adventurous and fun person, She was very "American" minded and may have been somewhat xenophobic, as some older early American families were, who could trace their lineage to the early colonial days. She belonged to The Order of the Eastern Star and The Daughters of Libety and was very patriotic. As a senior citizen she flew up in a single engine airplane.

I also was able to speak to another of her grandchildren, George Garrabrant II who was a first cousin of my grandmother, I visited George in prison several times when he was in his 70s. I was very zealous with my genealogy and the fact that he was convicted of manslaughter didn't dissuade me in the least. George loved his grandmother Phoebe very much. He was present when she died, and recalls that just prior to passing she sat up in bed and reached her arms up to the sky. Strangely enough, my own grandmother Elsie did the same thing. One mystery surrounding Phoebe was the birth of her first daughter Hannah Townsend Bronson, who was born when Phoebe was just 16 years old. On Hannah's birth certificate it states that her father was William Bronson, yet in her obituary it states that her father was William Clark. What is interesting is Hannah's middle name of Townsend, which is a Warwick NY surname.

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