Fred Adelbert Berean

berean_fred_nellie_1911Frederick Adelbert Berean was born about 1862 in Cortland County, New York, to Elijah and Tabitha Berean.[1] Fred was the penultimate of ten children, and his parents were already in their mid- and late-forties when he was born. And in fact, he lost both parents while he was still young; Fred’s father died sometime before 1880, when Fred was still in his teens,[2] and his mother died in 1884, when Fred was about 22 years old.[3]

Fred’s father and elder brother, Samuel, were both coopers, as was his brother Ambert for a time, but Fred seems to have gone his own way: according to census records, he was at various times a farm hand, a farmer, a mason and a blacksmith. According to the 1880 census, Fred was  not able to read or write; the 1870 census lists him in school, however, so we know he attended school at least until he was eight years old.

On 16 September 1883, Fred married Mary Esther Fenner, daughter of Daniel and Louisa (Cuatt) Fenner, in Dryden, Tompkins County, New York.[4] Mary was born 2 June 1867 in Groton (also in Tompkins County).[5] Fred and Mary had five children: the four older children were all girls, and the youngest, a boy named for Mary’s father, died in infancy.

By early 1912, Fred had become very ill, although it’s not clear what illness or disease he might have had. The photo above was taken on 15 August 1911 and he may already have been ill; perhaps that is why he is sitting in a chair. Fred was likely too ill to attend his daughter Nellie’s marriage on 8 February of that year. His wife and daughter witnessed the wedding, and Mary signed her name on a wedding favor, but Fred did not. On 6 March 1912, the Groton and Lansing Journal noted that he was “very feeble”, and on 1 May, the paper reported that his funeral was held on 26 of April. No notice of his death has been found, however; nor has a death record been located, although I checked the New York State Vital Records Index (no listing) and wrote to the Department of Health in Albany asking about a record. His funeral was well attended and he was buried in Groton Rural Cemetery.

[1] 1865 NYS census. The 1900 census lists his birth as in Sept. 1861. His marriage certificate says that he was born in Homer.

[2] The 1880 census lists Tabitha as a widow.

[3] New York State Vital Records Index.

[4] Certified transcript of marriage record.

[5] Article about Mary when she was 92 years old.

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