Friday, May 14, 2010

Ruth Frances Elliott Harris Fish

Ruth Frances Elliott Harris, probably taken at the time of her engagement to Leslie Fish

Ruth and Leslie Fish, later in life (middle and right)

RUTH FRANCES ELLIOTT HARRIS was born on 9 March 1898 in *Littleton, a small town located in the White Mountains on the Vermont border, in Grafton County, New Hampshire. She was the daughter of Wilma Gertrude Harris and Rennie Charles Elliott, although Mr. Elliott was not really part of her life. It is uncertain if he ever married Wilma.** Ruth's mother died of cancer when Ruth was only eight years old. Since Ruth's father did not live with her when her mother died, the girl was taken in and adopted on 23 Feb 1906 by her maternal grandfather, Milo Hobart Harris of Concord, Vermont, who was known in town to be very stern.

Ruth's daughter, Wilma Fish Britton said that often, "Mr. Elliott" would open a door for Ruth in town, and she would return home to tell her grandfather. He would tell her "never to mention that name in [his] presence," so we are all left to wonder what exactly Mr. Elliott did to garnish that disdain from Mr. Harris. It is speculated that perhaps he fathered Ruth, only to leave Wilma soon after. He had children with other women in town, and Ruth was aware of this.

Ruth met her husband, Leslie, in Littleton; he had come there from Prince Edward Island. They married on the 20th of September, 1916, in Lancaster, Coos County, New Hampshire. They had five sons and one daughter. Ruth's daughter, Wilma, also remembers that she was a good seamstress, a good mother, and was always willing to entertain friends, old and new. As a young girl, she read every book in the Littleton library that they allowed her to check out. During the Depression, she didn't attend church because she thought she didn't have the proper clothes to wear.

Littleton Public Library, as it looks today.

Lauren, Ruth's granddaughter, remembers that Ruth was extremely intelligent and people always said that none her children were quite as smart as she was. She read everything she could get her hands on and she was also very musical. She got along very well with her son-in-law, Richard Britton, who also possessed these talents. Ruth became very heavy later in life, and wasn't able to get out much, but Lauren remembers being very excited to go visit her grandmother. Like her daughter, Wilma, Ruth also loved to clean. She lived in a large victorian house in South Walpole that was very difficult to keep clean and warm in winter. She also enjoyed gardening. Ruth called Lauren "Laurie."

Ruth passed away on the 28th of February, 1967 in Foxboro, Norfolk, Massachussetts.

* For a map of Littleton as it looked around 1883, click here.

** I do have a wedding date listed as 24 March 1897, but noted that Wilma and Mr. Elliott were divorced. Ruth was born the following March. See future post for documentation of the marriage.


elliott said...

Nice job, Leslie. It sounds like she sure had a tough childhood. In the 1910 Census she actually shows up as a boarder at the home of Clarence and Jennie Mudgett, in Littleton. I wonder if although Milo officially adopted her, she didn't live with him?

elliott said...

It looks like Rennie married a woman named Charity Dykeman sometime before the 1910 Census. In the 1910, 1920 and 1930 Censuses he is listed as living with his spouse, Charity Dykeman Elliott, in Littleton. Rennie and Charity had at least 4 children together.

elliott said...

In the 1900 Census, Wilma Gertrude Harris is living with Ruth at her parents' home in Littleton. Wilma is listed as "divorced."

elliott said...

Rennie and Wilma were married on 24 Mar 1897 and divorced on 24 Mar 1899.