Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Was She Crazy...Almira Parkhurst Fancher... ???

One of my most elusive ancestors is Almira Parkhurst Fancher – my 4x Great-Grandmother. When I first began researching genealogy, I got information from my elderly Aunt and she had not only dates, but a lineage for Almira, going back several generations. Over the last 20 years, I’ve found very little documentation on Almira and have come to believe very little of that early data I received as fact.
Almira was born 14 February 1808, supposedly in Mexico, Oswego Co, New York – family lore has her the daughter of Col. Jonathan Parkhurst – but I can find no evidence of that – She was married to Caleb Fancher on 25 February 1829 – the Fancher family being well researched and documented, though nothing ever is written of Almira. They had three children: Harriet, Emeline, and Albert Nathan (A.N.) – before Caleb died on 11 July 1838 in Hastings, NY. Widowed at 30 years old, with 3 young children to support, I have no idea how Almira supported herself and her children. In the 1840 & 1850 census, Almira is listed as the head of household, with her children in Mexico, NY (though by 1850 Harriet has married).

Oswego DailyTimes
Nov 20, 1852 
second part of article
In 1852, a newspaper account has Almira committed to the Lunatic Asylum at Utica, NY – which is one family story I was able to prove – I do not know why she was committed – or for how long – I cannot find her in the 1860 census (perhaps she was still the nut house?)… though by 1870 is out of the asylum and living with her daughter Harriet Erskine in Pulaski, NY. Family records showed Almira died in 1881, though I have found newspaper mention of her death in 1879, which is also the year her headstone gives. She is buried in the South Richland Cemetery in Pulaski, in an Erskine family plot.

South Richland Cemetery- Pulaski, NY

So other than a few scant facts and a bit of speculation, I have found out very little about Almira… The Parkhurst family has been well researched – though no one knows of Almira – I’ve posted many queries and contacted countless researchers over the years – to no avail. With only 5 granchildren who lived to adulthood, there are few descendants of Caleb & Almira around today. So I find the likely hood of uncovering a treasure trove family archive, unlikely…
I feel like Almira must have had a complicated, difficult life… and I just wish I knew something of it… Hopefully, one day, I will…


  1. If you know the name of the asylum, you can easily check the census records and they may list the names of those who were there at the time the census was taken.

    1. According to the newspaper, it was the "Utica Lunatic Asylum", but I wasn't able to find a census listing for it and its patients. (tho I will have to take time and do a more thorough search)