Rufus Dodge and Sarah C. Bryant

Rufus Dodge (abt 1903)
The origins and lives of Rufus and Sarah Dodge probably make them the one of the most mysterious, confusing, and intriguing couples in my family tree. They have definitely caused me the most grief in my digging.

Rufus Dodge was born on 16 Dec 1825 in what is believed to be Harpersfield, Ashtabula, Ohio (a few Dodge families were living there in the early 1800's). His parents are unknown and Harpersfield is based off a mysterious entry in a long passed relative's family tree. (Death record lists Parkersfield, Ohio as his birthplace, but no such town seems to have ever existed and daughter's death record further lists Pennsylvania. I believe Ohio is accurate based on multiple census records and a civil war draft registration claiming such. Parkersfield seems to be a mis-understanding or mis-hearing or mis-transcribing of Harpersfield.)

Dodge Family 1860 Census
Sarah C. Bryant was born on 2 Apr 1827 in New York. Her parents and specifics are also unknown. (Her daughter's death record references her maiden name yet lists her birthplace as North Ridgeville, Ohio. An uncited local obituary also lists her maiden name and provides a nickname "Sally" as well.)

Dodge Family 1870 Census
Family record believes that Rufus Dodge and Sarah C. "Sally" Bryant were married on 11 Jun 1844 in Sharon, Mercer, Pennsylvania. (No state records exist to back this up as marriage records weren't kept in Mercer County until 1880's)

Together they lived in Springfield, Mahoning, Ohio in 1860 where Rufus was working as a Day Laborer. They would have 3 daughters, Harriet Adaline, Frances Jane and Georgia Anna. Rufus and Sarah liked to use nicknames and nicknamed their daughters Hattie, Frankie, and Georgie. (Occasionally I see records listing Petersberg instead of Springfield, it appers Petersberg is another small town about 3 miles south of Springfield along the Pennsylvania border. I find it common a slightly larger town that may have jurisdiction over the smaller village or township will get listed in some records instead of the actual location of residence.) 

Dodge Family 1880 Census
By 1863, Rufus is officially documented in the profession of stage coach driver, often referred to as Teamster. Rufus would drive supply wagons pulled by horses from town to town. He was the original trucker or semi-truck driver of the 1800’s. It is believed he held this profession much longer than noted. Stage coach driving was dying by the mid 1860's as the railroad was taking the passenger market away from stage coaches. Thus, the logical transformation to teamster.

I believe it to be this profession that led him to leave Springfield and move to (North) Ridgeville, Lorain, Ohio. The Dodge family was living here by the summer of 1865, when his eldest daughter Harriet married Joseph Wilford.

Rufus Dodge on 1900 Census
In the summer of 1868, Harriet would pass away and her daughter Adela Harriet Wilford would come to live with her grandparents Rufus and Sarah.

In 1884, daughter Georgiana would also pass away of Erysipelas in what the local paper called a “painful sickness of 3 or 4 days” at the young age of 12. The paper went on to say “She was a favorite in school, and her schoolmates draped her desk and seat in mourning, and erected a beautiful arch of flowers over them.”

Rufus' Civil War Draft Registration (1863)
Sarah Dodge died on 18 Jan 1897 in North Ridgeville, Lorain, Ohio and was buried on 20 Jan 1897 in what is believed to be Ridgeville Center Cemetery in North Ridgeville, Lorain, Ohio. (Ridgeville is unable to verify a burial plot, even with my certificate of purchase, as their map died with the original sexton and no headstone can be found. This most likely means Sarah was buried without a headstone in an unmarked grave on the cemetery grounds.)

Unknown Obituary for Sarah Dodge (1897)
After Sarah passed away, Rufus moved to Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio (also mentioned in Sarah's obituary; see below). Here he joined his daughter Frances  & her husband George Christian, and his 7 grandchildren at their house on 11 Gregg Street.

Rufus Dodge Death in Medina Gazette (1907)
Sometime between 1900 and 1907 the Christian family, relocated to Medina, Ohio and bought a home at 240 North Huntington Street. Here Rufus lived out the final years of his life surrounded by his daughter and grandchildren.

Rufus died of pneumonia on 23 Feb 1907 in what his death record listed as Granger, Medina, Ohio. The local paper, The Medina Gazette, listed Rufus as being buried in Weymouth, Medina, Ohio, at Weymouth Cemetery. (I have traveled to Weymouth Cemetery multiple times and, in the same fashion as his wife, I have been unable to locate a grave site for Rufus Dodge. I contacted the township hall and they were unable to help as someone walked out with the cemetery grave map in the 1960's and never returned it. In the same vein as his wife, it is most likely he is also buried in an unmarked grave on cemetery property.)

Children of Rufus & Sarah Dodge
1. Harriet Adeline “Hattie” Dodge, 29 Mar 1847 – 31 Jul 1868
2. Francis Jane “Frankie” Dodge, 29 Jun 1862 – 9 Jul 1943
3. Georgia Anna “Georgie” Dodge, 21 Jun 1872 – 25 Oct 1884

UPDATE: Continuing research has discovered a family date book with many name and dates of previously unknown family. Included in this list are previously unknown members of Sarah Bryant's family: Frances Amelia "Fanny" Judkins (Bryant) and Helen L. Burns (Bryant). Fanny is believed to be a sister of Sarah's. Helen is the daughter of are Benjamin Franklin "Frank" Bryant and Elizabeth Gilbreath. Frank was born in NY 5 years before Sarah and is believed to be her & Fanny's brother. Like Rufus, Frank was also a stage coach driver.

Back of the Birth & Death Records page
in the Dodge Family Bible

A 2nd unsourced Obituary for Sarah Dodge (1897)
Rufus Dodge Funeral in Medina Gazette (1907)


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