Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Wade Family of Dublin Ireland

James Wade (1797-1871) & his wife Margaret Riley were farmers from the Burrow of Portraine, County Dublin, Ireland who moved to Portland, Maine like many Irish Catholics during the Famine.  They had eight children, three of whom (Alice, Patrick & Mary Ann) figure prominently in my family tree, though they are no direct relation to me.  There are records of a couple Wade families living in the Burrow of Portrane near the Leonards.

A different James Wade of Portrane apparently had a somewhat contentious relationship with Mathew Leonard, who lodged a complaint in 1887 against him for allowing seven of his chickens to trespass on Mathew's freshly cropped land.

Some collected information regarding James and Margaret's eight children (with hyperlinks pointing to baptismal records from Donabate Parish):

1.  Alice Wade (1827-1865) married my great grand uncle Thomas D. Leonard (younger brother to James' neighbor Mathew mentioned above), moved to Portland Maine and lived there on 2 Briggs Street.  They had five daughters, two that survived to adulthood.  Alice died of consumption in 1865, just 6 six years before her younger sister died of consumption.  Thomas died in 1912.

2.  Judith "Julia" Wade (1830-1908) arrived in Portland 1852, and married Cornelius Cragin, who had arrived in Portland from Ireland the same year as Julia.  They lived at 17 Canton Street (Potters Lane) in the Bayside District and had seven children.  Cornelius was a laborer.

3.  Patrick Joseph Wade (1834-1912) and his wife Jane McWilliams (1847-1907) came from Dublin Ireland and arrived in Portland Maine in 1861.  They lived on 90 Danforth Street from 1866-1879.  He bought 8 Briggs Street in 1867 from a Bill Lindsey.  Patrick lived there off and on (the primary tenant was Patrick's elder sister Alice & her husband Thomas).  Patrick and his family moved to the State Club Stables, in an adjoining rental house on 684 Congress Street in 1886, where Patrick worked as a hostler (stable hand).  In 1906, Patrick eventually returned to 8 Briggs Street. 

Patrick's father, James, moved to Portland at some point prior to his death in 1871, although no Portland Census records seem to pick him up in 1870.  James died about 6 months before his daughter Mary Ann did.

Patrick & Jane married in Portland in 1866, and had twelve children.  More about this family can be found here.

4.  Peter Wade (1835-) might be the same Peter buried at Calvary in this gravesite.

5. Marion Wade (1837-)

6. Mary Ann Wade (1840-1871).  Mary Ann was a domestic servant for the Stevens family in Portland.  She died at age 31 of consumption, just six months after her father..

7. Ellen Wade (1843-)

8. Bridget Wade (1845-)

Many of the Wades listed above are buried at Calvary Cemetery, South Portland, near the Leonards in my family.  There are many other Wades buried at Calvary, and they could be cousins of the above.  Many of them appear to have lived on Salem Street (which runs perpendicular to Briggs).

I find it interesting that so many people in this extended family died in the year 1912.


Another Wade family lived in the same part of the West End of Portland, on 3 School Street (later moving to 83 Salem Street)...although I've yet to confirm exactly how they may be related to the above:

Patrick Wade (1842-1877) migrated from Ireland to Maine in the 1860s, and in 1864 married Anna Moels (1844-1911), daughter to Robert and Catherine Moels, all from Ireland.  Anna worked as a laundress.  They had five boys:

1.  William Henry Wade (1864-1895) never married, died at age 30.

2.  James E. Wade (1867-1909) worked as a "U.S. Laborer", and married Julia Corkrey in 1901.  They had three children:  Margaret, Edward and Julianna, and James passed away just after conceiving Julianna.  These three kids lived well into their 90s, much unlike the prior generations.

3.  John Wade (1869-1928) married Ida Roherty.  No further information.

4.  Alfred J. Wade (1871- ??) worked as a match factory employee.

5.  Robert Patrick Wade (1876-1879) died at age 3.

All of this family (except Alfred) is also buried at Calvary Cemetery.  It would be interesting to see if perhaps this Patrick was cousins with the Patrick mentioned above, who was about seven years older.

Below is the 1847 tenant farmer roster for The Burrow, taken from "Griffith's Valuation".  James Wade is located as tenant for several properties, along with a William Wade (who might be his brother or father).

Monday, February 7, 2011

Alice Leonard-McLoughlin

The Dublin Leonards and the American Leonards had occasion to visit each other's families with some regularity during the 20th Century.  One such visit took place in the summer of 1964 from Alice McLoughlin (1917-2002), daughter to Francis Leonard of The Burrow of Portraine, Donabate, Ireland.  Both her parents had passed away in the past 4 years, so it's understandable she felt the need to reconnect with her father's past.  Alice traveled from Ireland to New England to see her American cousins, in particular the Devines, as well as the family of Matthew John Leonard, Jr.  A write-up was published in the Portland Press Herald for this occasion (click to enlarge):

Second Cousins Reunite

Mrs. Alice McLoughlin of Donabate, Ireland, renews her acquaintance with second cousin Francis J. Devine of High Street, South Portland, whom she has not seen for 19 years. While in the Portland area, the Irish visitor has been meeting for the first time several cousins and their families.

Maine Relatives Greet Irish Cousin
"She's just as I remember her," thought Francis J. Devine when he welcomed his Irish second cousin to Portland last week.

Although they had both aged some in 19 years, the South Portland man had no trouble recognizing his relative, Mrs. Alice McLoughlin, whom he had visited at her family's 400-year-old homestead in Donabate, Ireland while stationed in Europe at the end of World War II.

Devine gave Mrs. McLoughlin a property Irish welcome the night of her arrival. He opened his home on 294 High St. for a party for the Irish visitor, inviting seven of his eight sisters and their families. The eighth sister lives in Chatham, Mass.

"She's just as I remember her," thought Francis J. Devine when he welcomed his Irish second cousin to Portland last week.

Although they had both aged some in 19 years, the South Portland man had no trouble recognizing his relative, Mrs. Alice McLoughlin, whom he had visited at her family's 400-year-old homestead in Donabate, Ireland while stationed in Europe at the end of World War II.

Devine gave Mrs. McLoughlin a property Irish welcome the night of her arrival. He opened his home on 294 High St. for a party for the Irish visitor, inviting seven of his eight sisters and their families. The eighth sister lives in Chatham, Mass.Devine gave Mrs. McLoughlin a property Irish welcome the night of her arrival. He opened his home on 294 High St. for a party for the Irish visitor, inviting seven of his eight sisters and their families. The eighth sister lives in Chatham, Mass.

During Mrs. McLoughlin's indefinite stay in South Portland, she is staying with another cousin, Mrs. Philip E. Daniels, also of High St.

She has only been here a little over a week, but already she had met more relatives than she probably knew she had.

For the first time, she had met first cousins: Mrs. Helen McKeough, Phillips Road, Falmouth Foreside; Matthew J. Leonard, Sewall St., Portland; and second cousins: Mrs. Daniels; Mrs. Edward Reagan, Portland; Mrs. John Dougherty, South Portland; Mrs. Leland P. Murray, Cape Elizabeth; Mrs. William A. Preston, South Portland; Mrs. Alfred E. Cormier, Cape Elizabeth; and Mrs. Robert Bothel, Cape Elizabeth.

Although this is her first visit to the United States, she has had a fondness for Portland for years.

Her father, at the age of 19, came here from Ireland looking for work. He found employment at a Portland sugar factory and remained here three years.

He had planned to become a permanent resident of Maine, Mrs. McLoughlin said, but he missed his family in Ireland too much to live apart from them.

The Irish visitor has become familiar with her father's old Portland ties during the past few days. She has visited the site of the old factory and the neighborhood where he used to live.

Her father, she said, used to tell her about the beautiful beaches and coastal area around Portland, especially at Cape Elizabeth.

She has now seen these same places herself and is convinced that her father didn't exaggerate their beauty. Cape Elizabeth, she says, reminds her of the shore front of her own town on the Irish Sea.

Mrs. McLoughlin has been in this country since Christmas visiting relatives in New York and Connecitcut before coming to Maine.

She'd like some day to return to Portland to make her permanent home, but she has two good reasons to return home to Donabate soon, - her husband and her 15 year old daughter, Ann.

Ann wanted to come with her on her American trip, but McLoughlin was afraid he'd be too lonesome with both of them gone.

But in the meantime, Mrs. McLoughlin's relatives here are making sure she won't be lonely.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Christian Petersen

Christian Petersen (1849-1908), my 2nd great grandfather was born in the city of Ã…lborg (Denmark's fourth largest) to carriage maker Peter Christian Petersen and his wife Pertria Thalia Thomsen.

Christian crossed the border from Canada into Berlin, New Hampshire on Aug 12, 1882 (when he was 32).  I'm not quite sure when he had originally arrived in Canada though.  Several of Christian's siblings and other family also migrated to the New World (more on them below), and family obituaries seem to claim that Christian came to the New World as a very young man.

It's not entirely clear when they met, but Christian married Lena Mortensen (aka Carolina) from Skrobelev, Svendborg Denmark, in either Berlin, New Hampshire or while in Canada.  By 1884 they were living in Westbrook, Maine (per their first two kids' birth records).  According to the 1900 Census, in Westbrook, they had already been married 18 years.

But, according to the last line of the article below, "Miss Lena Mortensen" ran a confectioner's table at the Ladies Aid Society of the Sons of Veterans, at City Hall in Portland in 1889.  This tells me she wasn't officially married to Christian until after then, and that the 18 year notation could be an error.

Portland Daily Press
Oct. 26, 1889

By 1891, Christian and Lena had moved to Westbrook, Maine, where he had secured a job in the S.D. Warren paper mill alongside (I believe) his cousin Neils.  In November 1891, he purchased a house on 15 Day Street (which coincidentally was just one street over from the street I grew up on).  They had a farm in the back with a chicken coop, and Christian would walk to work every day at the mill, and Lena would care for the children and make doughnuts.

Christian had purchased and mortgaged the Day Street property from Edward J. Kimball (a farmer from Highland Lake in North Windham) who would later have several connections to this family.  Ed's son Joseph would marry Christian's daughter Jennie, and, Ed himself would marry Lena immediately after her husband Christian died.

Ed owned a store on Main Street in Westbrook, which apparently got repeatedly robbed, and I wonder which building it was located in.  He also got into an accident, per the below.

Portland Daily Press
May 20, 1889

Portland Daily Press
June 14, 1889

Portland Daily Press
Nov. 14, 1890

Perhaps the subsequent purchase of the house on Day Street (near Main Street) by the Petersens was met with relief.  Ed apparently moved to North Windham after the house sale and horse and buggy accident.  Perhaps he closed the store entirely.

Neils (the possible cousin-more on him below) lived next door to Christian Petersen on 9 Day Street, and had emigrated through Portland on July 1, 1873.  Christian's sister, Maren Thalia Petersen (1858-1944), arrived in Westbrook in late 1884, married Jens "John" P. Anderson (also from Denmark), and lived around the corner at 262 Forest Street, and later 282 Forest Street.

15 Day Street
Westbrook, Maine

Christian Petersen & Lena Mortensen-Petersen,
with baby Julia, and young Charles in the back.

Lena Mortensen-Petersen in the center,
with her seven surviving children.
Starting with the child in her lap,
and going clockwise:
Emma, Norman, Lillian, Jennie, Julia, Charles, and Agnes.
(just after the passing of Christian Petersen)

The Petersens were living at Day Street for the entire duration of the life of the new Westbrook Opera House across Main Street from them (1897-1904).  They likely had to hear the noise of it being constructed, and must have been alarmed when it caught fire and burned to the ground seven years later.

Westbrook Opera House
(corner of Main & Speirs Streets)
Opera house was actually located upstairs from the
Surehold Trust Company and a mail order business.
A newspaper and a bean pot factory were also in the building.

Christian lived in Westbrook for about 25 years, and (according to oral history) was an active member of the Saccarappa Masonic Lodge in Westbrook (although the lodge has no records to substantiate this).  

Portland Daily Press
August 30, 1890

He naturalized in August of 1890, and moved immediately in to Day Street in Westbrook.

Christian and Lena were devout Lutherans, and lived very clean lives, never indulging in alcohol (unlike most of their children).  They worshipped Trinity, at the Danish Lutheran Church (which was on the same block as their home), which was built in 1892 by other Danish immigrants.  From 1876 to 1892, prior to the Church's incorporation, the pastors would conduct services in the homes of all the Danish immigrants in Cumberland Mills, until the Church was eventually constructed.  It is quite likely that Christian and his family had the benefit of Sunday service in their own homes on Day Street upon their arrival in Westbrook in 1891.

Christian Petersen may have been the same who was a member of the Scandinavian Society:

Portland Daily Press
Dec. 7, 1895

Christian was definitely the one mentioned below, living in Cumberland Mills in 1897, when he won a prize at the County Fair in Gorham for his Plymouth Rock Fowl and chicks.

Portland Daily Press
Sep. 10, 1897

Christian died of cerebral meningitis at 58, after suffering from a heat stroke in the summer of 1908.

(error in birth date - should be "Oct 26, 1849")

While he died in 1908, he was still counted on the 1910 Census!  I suspect that may have been because they hadn't resolved his probate yet.  Christian's estate was valued at $1700.00, inclusive of real estate (about $40K in 2013 dollars).

Lena remarried 2 years later to Ed Kimball from North Windham, the former owner of the house.  Two months later, Lena's daughter Jennie married Ed's son, Joseph.  Lena was already married to Ed when the time came to deal with Christian's estate.


In the summer of 1910, Ed and Lena moved in to Ed's farm house on 176 Albion Road, Windham with Lena's youngest children, up on Highland Lake.  I believe that some of the elder kids stayed behind on Day Street, since the property was still in the Petersen/Kimball family as of 1925.

Ed's probate stated there was one cow and 75 hens left to the family on Highland Lake.  When Ed died in 1926, Lena moved back to Berlin, NH to care for her aging parents on Hutchins Street.  Lena granted the Highland Lake property to Ed's son Joseph, whose surviving spouse sold it off in 1960 to the Nelsons.  As of 2019, the property is in disrepair, and is being offered for sale as a tear down.

Christian and Lena had 10 kids in Westbrook...three of whom died as infants (Carl, Walter and Petrea-who died of food poisoning).  Carl is buried next to his father in Saccarappa Cemetery up on the hill in Westbrook:


As for the 7 children that lived to adulthood:

-Charles Christian Peterson (1887-1958), who never married, was a teamster.  He was first named as Administrator on his father's probate estate in 1908, but resigned in September 1910 because he believed that he would be leaving the state for work and would be unable to perform duties.  But from all available records, Charlie stayed in Maine, and his mother took over as Administratrix.  Charlie was drafted into WWI at age 30.  His draft card describes him as short and bald.  He later moved to 13 Church Street in Westbrook (1930 Census), and lived with the Sampson family.  By the 1940 Census, he was living in Berlin, New Hampshire, and lived in the Mortenson family house on 1803 Hutchins Street with his cousin Carl, and did sewer construction under the new Public Works, as part of the New Deal program.  While living there, he was drafted in 1942 into WWII, as part of the 'Old Man's Draft' at age 55, but never served.  He  died in Westbrook in 1958, at age 70, from an accident involving "Illuminating Gas Poisoning".

(ABOUT 1930)

-Julia P. Peterson (1891-1934) married thrice.  At 17, she had moved to Berlin to stay with Mortensens there, and met and married millworker Dana Lewis Ladd in 1910.  In 1912 they divorced, and Dana moved to Westbrook.  In 1914, in Freedom, New Hampshire, she married Perly Leslie Smith from York Maine (they had one child, Evelyn, whose whereabouts are a mystery still).  In 1927, Julia married a German blacksmith from Kansas by the name of Frank Fuessel (who had married previously with five children).  At this point, according to family oral history, Julia began a quick descent into severe alcoholism.  She died of carcinoma, with alcohol poisoning a contributing factor, in her home in South Portland in April of 1934, surrounded by the entire family in her bedroom at 247 Preble Street.  The family was still suffering the shock of Julia's sister Agnes dying three months prior.

ABT 1908

ABT 1914




-Jennie Caroline Peterson (1893-1967) married a very burly and domineering railroad fireman from Windham by the name of Joseph Greenlaw Kimball, in 1910.  Joseph's father Ed had married Jennie's mother two months prior.  Joseph and Jennie had one child, Florence Cordine Kimball, in 1911.

3/7/1914 (3RD BIRTHDAY)

Jennie didn't get along with her new husband Joseph (in fact, she was badly abused by him, according to family legend) and so Jennie completely disappeared in 1916.  According to the family, they knew she was a heavy drinker and was quite the "free spirit," so it was assumed at the time that she was being irresponsible and flaky by disappearing like that.  A couple of family stories had emerged about her whereabouts.  One involved her moving down south, another involved Joseph murdering her and burying her under the barn at the Kimball Farm.  Her mother's obituary in 1939 did not list her as a survivor, so the entire family must have believed she had died by then.  She had never kept in touch with anyone else in the family and her husband Joe had hired a private investigator who was unable to find her - and it took years for him to be granted a divorce via desertion.

The truth was, she had moved far north to Aroostook County and had remarried to a man named Alton Bragg.  They had six children, and almost never spoke again of her prior family.  She had left her child Florence behind to be cared for by her mother, Lena.  Florence was only 15 when her grandmother Lena's husband Ed died, and when Lena moved back to Berlin NH to care for her aging parents.  Florence stayed in the house on Highland Lake after Lena left, and was living there with her father Joseph Kimball.  She eventually married (about 1935) to a machine operator named Michael J. Pulit (born in New Haven, CT to Polish immigrants) and settled in West Haven on 61 Thomas Street.  Florence kept in touch with her Aunt Lillian Nadeau's kids from Maine, and was living close to her Aunt Emma in New Haven as well, and apparently stayed close with this family.  Florence died in New Haven in 1999, and had three daughters, one son and several grandchildren.  She had never met her mother, all her life.  As for the mysterious Jennie, she lived the remainder of her life in Washburn Maine, raising her six other children, until her death in 1967.  Her death certificate had inaccurate parental names on it, which leads me to believe that her survivors really didn't know much about Jennie's past at all.  According to her grandchildren, when Jennie got to drinking, she would speak of her long lost daughter and how much she missed her.  It's one of the saddest stories I've encountered in my family research, but in 2010 thankfully I've been able to connect certain members of both sides of Jennie's two families, thanks to this blog, and some interested researcher cousins.


-Agnes Thalia Peterson (1895-1934) and Thomas Mathew Leonard (my great grandparentsmet around 1914, while Agnes was working as a laundress out at Levinsky's Plaza in Portland. They married in 1916, two months AFTER giving birth to Thomas Edward Leonard (my grandfather).  I imagine that there must have been some scandal there.  Not only was the child conceived AND born out of wedlock into an Irish Catholic family, but Agnes was Danish, not Irish like the rest of the family's in-laws. I wonder how Agnes was treated by Mathew Sr. Well, the whole family ended up living together on 8 Briggs Street in Portland, so it must have worked out ok.  From what I understand, everyone loved Agnes, especially Old Matt.  In the winter of 1933-1934, Agnes caught a terrible cold, which led to an ear infection.  Very shortly thereafter she developed purulent meningitis, and died five days later, at the very young age of 38 just a few months before her sister Julia died.



-Lillian Marentine Peterson (1897-1973) (middle name comes from her mother's sister) married Emile Joseph Nadeau, a French Canadian of Westbrook in 1918.  Soon after they married, Emile enlisted for WWI, but was underweight (with a heart murmur) and had failed the physical.  They lived on 122 Mechanic Street in Westbrook with Emile's brother and his family.  Lillian worked at the mill most of her life.  She and Emile had two children, Tom & Evelyn.  Tom is a portrait painter and lives in Portland with his wife Bobbie.  Evelyn passed just a few years ago.  According to her son Tom, Lillian and her sister Agnes were the only 'teetotallers' among their siblings.

(ca. 1972)

-Norman William Peterson (1902-1984) was born in Westbrook at the house on Day Street, like the rest of the kids.  When Christian died, Norman lived in Windham with his mother and her second husband Ed, and graduated Windham High School in 1919.  Norman moved to Portland by 1925.  He loved to spend his leisure time fishing up on Moosehead Lake.  He met his future wife, Tuerena Banks (who had migrated from Scotland to Massachusetts in 1912), when she was working as a resort waitress.  They married around 1927 and moved immediately to Lynn, Massachusetts to be near to his uncle Carl's family, where he lived the remainder of his life.  In 1930 they lived in a rented home on Prospect Street in Lynn (Rent in 1930 - $20/month).  The building was later razed in the 70's in order to build the Lynn Vocational Tech High School.  For the 1940 Census, they were living at 60 Johnson Street in Lynn Commons area, and had been living there since at least 1935.  At some point after 1938, Norman suffered an accident at his job, J.B. Blood Food Market, where a large crane fell on him.

In 1948, Norman and Tuerena separated.  Norman died in 1984 in Roxbury.  Norman worked as a dry goods shipping salesman, but was an avid carpenter and fisherman, and his final job was with General Electric.  Norman & Turena had three children:  Norma Peterson-Hios-Laclair, who died in Las Vegas in 2003, and William and Joan. Norman was president of the St. Vincent De Paul Society of Lynn during the 30's.  Tuerena died in 1991 in Salem. I've had no luck getting obituaries from any of these towns.

(ABOUT 1940)

(abt 1990)

-Emeline Thomasena Peterson (1905-1993) (known as Emma, and later Emily) was a servant for the Durrell house on 23 Lamb Street as a teenager in 1920.  She moved to Portland in 1922 and married Charles Albert Smith (a turntable operator on the railroad born to Polish and Swedish immigrants).  They had two kids:  Charles, Jr., who retired in Texas after a long military career (WWII and Korea), & Helen, who was an avid bingo player, and ran "Helen's Restaurant" in New Haven.  Emma divorced Charles in 1929 and moved to South Portland, marrying William Kelley in 1931 (the kids were living with stepfather Charles and his new wife Ivy on Federal Street for the 1930 Census).  Emma later married Donald Keene from South Portland around 1940, and moved to Wallingford, Connecticut, where she died in August of 1993 at Skyview Convalescent Home.  The funeral was held at Yalesville Funeral Home, and she was cremated August 18th at Pine Grove Crematorium in Waterbury.  Yalesville picked up her ashes, and they are still there to this day, waiting to be picked up.  It appears that one of Emma's granddaughters will be retrieving them at some point, thanks partly to the coordination of several cousins who have read this blog and have communicated their concerns.

This blog post has been particularly helpful in connecting with distant cousins and descendants of Christian and Lena.

Below is a picture of Lena, on the porch of her home in Berlin New Hampshire, just a few years before she passed:

Below are pedigree charts for Christian and Lena, both 100% Danish descent:

Other Petersens that lived in Westbrook during that era (not sure if there was a relation):

-Aldehied Dorothea Rickert-Petersen (1836-1922).  Adelheid was born a Rickert in Bov, Sonderjylland.  Her second marriage in Denmark was to a Peter Petersen.  She emigrated to Westbrook Maine with her two boys Frederick & Christian in 1891.  I feel she may have been a relative to my Petersens.

-Niels Petersen (1842-1916) Niels lived right next door to Christian's family on Day Street.  He had arrived in Westbrook in 1873 (several years prior to the rest of the Petersens mentioned above).  Their son Peter, a cabinet maker, shot himself at home one September day in 1911.  According to records, Niels had different parents altogether (Peter Nielsen & Annie Akelene), and his name didn't appear as a survivor on  the below obituary of Christian Petersen or in his probate records.  I feel there must be some kind of cousin connection, though, and that Niels may have been the first immigrant and the one who sent for the rest.

-Hans A. (1861-1913) had parents named Peter & Cecelia, was born in Denmark, but lived for a while in Germany, and had four children there (Peter, Johanna, John & Celia).  He brought the whole family (without the wife) to Westbrook.  He remarried there to a woman named Maria and had an additional seven children (Julianna, Carl, Agnes, Andrew, Lillian, Christian and Arthur).  Hans was an incorporating member of Trinity Lutheran Church on Main Street.  He lived on Main Street and Spring Street in Westbrook and worked in the paper mill.  In 1913, just a few months after his wife Maria had died from a mysterious pelvis disease, Hans had an accident at work where a lever connected to a machine smashed him in the testicles.  He had a failed surgery, developed lockjaw and died.

This obit mentions that Christian came from a large family of children.  Other than those listed above as confirmed siblings, I'm not sure who else is there.  It also says that he came to America as a boy.  But the earliest record I could find of him arriving in the USA is in 1882, when he was in his 30's.  I'm curious about what other life he was leading prior to that.  If he had arrived as a boy, then that would mean his parents were here too, and I don't see any record of that...

Below, taken from Christian Petersen's probate record, is the signature of his widow, Lena, then already known as Caroline Kimball.  Note how she spells this.  It makes me wonder if perhaps she never learned proper English, or if she perhaps never could write well.  Her signature clearly says "Caroline C. Chambel".

Finally, according to distant cousins, the Petersens were referred to as "square heads".  I don't quite see it, but these were different times, maybe their heads did appear square to others...