*Charlie Seller, a Abrahall desendant, is sending me the journal of Ann Waite Abrahall that he has had in his possession for many years.  As the journal is old and fragile it will take a little time for me to scan the pages and then make them available on this website.  Until then I am placing Charlie Seller's summation about the journal here for all to read.  Thanks again to Charlie Seller for sharing this information.

Ann Waite’s Journal

Among the very few family keepsakes that came to me via my father’s youngest sister (my aunt Elsie Seller Reed) is a tiny and tattered journal given to Elsie’s maternal grandmother (and thus one of my great-grandmothers), whose name was Ann Waite Abrahall.  The journal was given to Ann when she was a little girl in England.  A brief handwritten message to Ann on the flyleaf states that the journal was “the gift of her affectionate aunt (___?___) Maynard (on) March 29, 1835” – the single capital letter preceding the aunt’s surname is difficult to decipher – it might be the letter I, or perhaps a J or an S. 

Shortly thereafter the 7-year-old Ann and her family immigrated to the United States, arriving in New York City on May 8, 1835.  So the aunt’s gift to Ann just 40 days earlier was very likely a parting memento received by Ann very shortly before she and her family boarded the ship called the Montreal and sailed from London. 

Aboard the ship with Ann were her father George Waite, 56, a tailor; her mother, Martha White Waite, 52; and a 13-year old, Alfred Waite, almost certainly Ann’s brother.  Because Ann’s age was recorded on the ship passenger list as 7, her birth year was likely 1828.  London street directories confirm that during the years leading up to their emigration, the Waite family lived in the area of Greater London called Westminster (now officially the City of Westminster but still within the expanded area known as Greater London). 

There are just a few handwritten entries in the journal, some of them lines of verse, in addition to Aunt Maynard’s flyleaf message.  Two entries are signed “Cousin Sarah” – one of these two signatures is followed by a date March 30, 1835 – which was the day immediately following the date on the flyleaf message.  A third entry, undated, is signed “Cousin Caroline.”  It seems reasonable to assume Sarah and Caroline were the aunt’s daughters and that their surname was also Maynard.  Two other undated entries in the journal are followed by the signatures Hester A. Barrington and Kate G. (or possibly S.) Barrington. 

The most intriguing entry in the journal is the one signed Mary Abrahall and dated August 3, 1840, which was more than 5 years after the Waite family left England.  Here’s why I find it so. 

The maternal great-grandmother of Elsie Seller Reed (the aunt of mine among whose things Ann Waite’s little journal was found) was Mary White Abrahall, who also immigrated to New York City, but on December 11, 1838 aboard the ship Westminster, having sailed from London together with her two children, Samuel John Abrahall, 12, and Mary Abrahall, 9.  The mother Mary was age 34 at the time.  (Her husband and the children’s father, William Andrews Abrahall, born in 1800, was not among the passengers listed on this ship.  He may have emigrated from England earlier and subsequently sent for them – whatever the case, he is recorded as the head of their household at various Manhattan addresses beginning in the early 1840s.) 

I have no way of knowing whether the signature Mary Abrahall in Ann Waite’s journal is that of the mother or of the daughter.   However, no matter which of the two wrote in the journal, the presence of this signature in it, added in 1840, is highly significant.  Why?  Because it proves the Waite family and the Abrahall family had to have been acquainted more than 13 years – well over a decade – prior to the May 7, 1854 marriage of Ann Waite to Samuel John Abrahall in ManhattanThe two families could, of course, have met after each had arrived in New York City from London.  But the acquaintance could very well have extended back to the years before each family emigrated – and it might even have been a kinship, in that White was the maiden surname of both Samuel Abrahall’s mother Mary White Abrahall and Ann Waite’s mother Martha White Waite!     

--Charles Seller, janecharles@pa.net, June 25, 2010