Getting Younger As Time Goes By

As the saying goes “a Gentleman never tells” and apparently the other part of this might be that ‘a Lady does not need to disclose her true age.’ I have heard other family historians speak of ancestors who seemed to get younger as time went by and now I have a story of my own to share on this same theme.

Rebecca Sparling was the half sister of Ellen’s grandfather, Edward Arthur Latimer. Rebecca’s father, Richard Sparling died shortly after her birth in 1871. The following year, Rebecca’s mother, Theresa Delmage married Edward Latimer, a Seaforth, Ontario shoemaker, who raised Rebecca and her ‘Sparling’ siblings as his own.

In January 1900, one week after her 29th birthday, Rebecca married Thomas E. Baker, the Secretary of the YMCA in Sarnia, Ontario and a man who was just 6 months older than her. The odd part is that their marriage registration shows Thomas’ age correctly as 29 but Rebecca has accelerated to the age of 30! The following January, in 1901, Rebecca and Thomas, living in Sarnia, Lambton County, Ontario, welcomed a daughter, Frances Marion, into the world.

When I couldn’t find the family in the 1911 Census of Canada, I surmised that perhaps they had crossed the nearby border and had moved to Michigan in the United States. I was half right – they moved to the United States but not to Michigan – they had moved to Buffalo, New York where Thomas was employed as the Secretary of the YMCA in that community. In 1910, the US Census shows Rebecca and Thomas, now the same age, 39, with their daughter Frances and two additional children who were born in Buffalo – a son, Howard born in 1904 and a second daughter, Mary born in 1907.

In 1920, Rebecca and her family were still in Buffalo and they were understandably all a little older – Rebecca and her husband were nine years older showing each of their ages to 48. I have not yet been able to find Rebecca or Thomas in 1930 (it’s possible they moved back to Canada) but will be looking for the ‘Lady’ who ages nine years for every ten. I sometimes feel I’m aging fifteen years for every ten so finding her secret will be a priority.

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