14 April 2012

A True Wife - The Story Of Maria Smith Wait And Her Family

The story of Benjamin Wait, who was sentenced to die a traitor's death in Canada and Maria (Smith) Wait, his wife who saved his life, is compelling.  Letters from Van Dieman's Land, written during four years [of Benjamin's] imprisonment for political offences, also [has the] letters of Mrs. Wait.

From A Wife's Devotion  the story of Maria (Smith) Wait:

My youngest brother brought from Dunnville a generous contribution, my aged father bid me farewell at Tonawanda, being a refugee from his home.
I visited Mr. McKenzie in prison... . 

Since writing the above [ A Wife's Devotion, 1907], from a letter received it is learned that Maria Wait was educated by Robert Randall, M.P.P., that she died shortly after the birth of twins in 1843 [31 May 1843, per newspaper accounts], one of whom survived, named Randall.

Born Maria Smith Upper Canada ca 1820. Maria married Benjamin...in October 1936. Benjamin worked at several occupations but was not necessarily successful as any of his jobs. The couple had a daughter, Augusta, born in the summer of 1838. Unfortunately, Benjamin had participated in the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion and in August of 1838 he was sentenced to hang.

The infant, Augusta [Wait], was kept a great part of the time of the mother's absence by Mrs. Gonder at Chippawa.....wipe[d] away the fast falling tears as the boat carried her [Augusta's mother, Maria] from their sight.

She [Maria Smith Wait] is buried in Buffalo [New York], but it is feared no stone marks the spot where rests the dust of this noble woman.

[Benjamin Wait] lived to the age of 82, dying in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1895.

Old Benjamin Wait, Once Sentenced to die Quartered.
Grand Rapids, Mich., Nov. 10. Col. Benjamin Wait, once sentenced to be hanged and quartered for treason to the British flag, died at the Union Benevolent Home last night, aged eighty-two years. He was a colonel in the Patriotic war in 1835 under the leadership of Louis Rial, and after the battle of Point Au Pelee he was captured, tried for treason, found guilty and sentenced to be executed August 25, 1836[sic], at Niagara.

He was finally pardoned by the Canadian Government, but did not return, to Canada to live. He came here about twenty years ago and was engaged In buying and selling timber-lands. He was one of the founders
of the Northwestern Lumberman, which was first published here. 

Benjamin Wait and his second wife in New York:

United States Census, 1850
Cayuga, Chemung, New York, United States
Household Gender Age
Benj Wait M 36
Rebecca Wait F 25
Augusta Wait F 13
  Randall Wait M 7
Elwood Wait M 1

In 1860 the Wait family was living in Williamsport, Lycoming, Pennsylvania. [Benjamin, 47, lumberman, born in Canada; Rebecca, H., 33, born in Ohio; R.D., 17, born in New York, and Elwood M., 11, born in New York]

Benjamin Wait, son, Elwood [by his 2nd wife] in Chicago:
United States Census, 1880
residence: Chicago, Cook, Illinois
Household Gender Age
parent Ellwood Waite M 30
parent Mary Waite F 26
  Olive Waite F 5
Maria Lincoln F 31
Mariah Devine F 15

Benjamin Wait's son Elwood died in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as did Benjamin:

Michigan Deaths, 1867-1897
death date: 12 May 1885
death place: Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan
gender: Male
death age: 36 years 1 month
estimated birth date: 1849
birthplace: Canada
marital status: Married
father's name: Benj. Wait
mother's name: Mary Wait
occupation: Salesman

The son of Randall Wait [surviving twin born to Benjamin and Maria (Smith) Wait] was Rollin Wait.

New York State Census, 1905
residence: Tonawanda, Erie, New York
Household Gender Age
parent Randel B Waite M 62y
Eliza J Waite F 45y
  Rollin C Waite M 7y
George Lowe M 80y
Catherine E Lowe F 35y

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