A Case of Mistaken Identity: Maria Stevens of Manchester New Hampshire

Photograph of Maria(h) Stevens taken as her 1876 graduation picture from Manchester High School. She is the subject of this article.

I purchased a photograph on eBay being advertised as “CDV Photo ID’s Maria Annan Stevens 1878 wife of George, Manchester New Hampshire.” I presumed that the ID was correct, the reverse side of the photograph only had “Maria Stevens” written in an old cursive font. I noticed it was Colby Photographers but didn’t inspect the photograph beyond that detail.

I began to research Mary (Annan) Stevens, and had gathered a great deal of information on her but mostly on her husband, George Stevens, who was a civil engineer and architect in Manchester NH. It made for a great story. And then I took a moment to look again at the photograph. This time I noticed that the back shows “Class of 1876” Manchester N.H. Having seen this notation before, I realized that the photograph was a high school graduation photograph of Maria Stevens in 1876.

Scan of back of Maria(h) Steven’;s photo.

But wait! Mary (Annan) Stevens was easily 20 years too old to be the same as the woman in the photograph, being born in 1837. Mary Annan had married in 1864 to George Stevens, and the probability of her being in the 1876 graduating class was now not likely at all.   I went back to the drawing board, throwing away the assumptions I had made based on the sellers description. I then discovered that the photograph was of an entirely different Maria Stevens.

The woman in the photograph is Marie Jane “Mariah” Stevens who was born on 28 Aug 1858 in Hill, Merrimack, NH, daughter of Timothy & Eliza Jane “Liza” (Page) Stevens. She was the grand-daughter of Roger & Sarah (Kennedy) Stevens /and/Aaron & Hannah (Gilmore) Page.  Marie died 20 March 1943 in Manchester NH.  She is buried in Piscataquog Cemetery, Manchester NH in her family’s plot.

Maria(h) Stevens was one of six children, her father Timothy was born in Manchester NH, but settled on a farm in Bedford NH about 1870. The Bedford NH town history states, “he was an extensive reader, possessed a remarkable memory, and delighted in imparting the results of his investigations to others.” Perhaps he inspired his daughter Maria to teach.

Portrait of W.B. Mitchell by L.W. Colby. Manchester Historic Association.

In 1880 she is found in the U.S. Census, aged 21, living with her family in Bedford NH, occupation teacher.  She probably taught in either Bedford or Merrimack NH. A few months after the census was taken, on 22 December 1880,  Maria Stevens married in Manchester NH to Walter B. Mitchell, son of John W. & Adelaide (Randall) Mitchell. He was b 25 Oct 1858 in Manchester NH and d. 9 July 1914 in Cleveland Ohio. Walter was a designer and sketch maker (draftsman) for the Manchester Locomotive works. They lived in Manchester NH where they reared their 3 children. He was buried in Piscataquog Cemetery Manchester NH.

Children of Walter B. & Marie/Mariah Jane (Stevens) Mitchell:
1. Anne Eliza “Annie” Mitchell, b. 18 Aug 1883 Bedford NH; She m. George Warren Ayer. Buried Pine Grove Cemetery Manchester NH. They had a son Walter M. Ayer, b 14 Feb 1918 Watertown MA, died 12 April 1998. He was an insurance salesman and electrician. Mason of Victory Lodge. He m 1939 to Elizabeth Emerson.
2. Gertrude Stevens Mitchell b 1885 d. 1967 ; m. Edward Park Stevens son of Frank Byron & Marion S. (Anderson) Stevens. At their marriage she was a school teacher, he was a paymaster. They are buried in Pine Grove Cemetery Manchester NH. They had a daughter Leslie Janet Stevens, a graduate of Wheaton College, b. 29 Aug 1919 Manchester NH, d. 25 Nov 1961 Concord NH who m. after 1940 to Frederick Howell Stevens.
3. George Walton Mitchell, b. 16 Nov 1887 Manchester NH; d. 8 Aug 1901, drowned while bathing in Piscatquog River, aged 13y 8m 22d. Buried Piscataquog Cemetery, West Manchester NH.

=-=-=-=-=-=-= What About the “Other” Marie Stevens? =-=-=-=-==-=

As long as I researched the “other” Maria Stevens, wife of George, I will share that research with you too.

Photograph of the Ash Street School, unknown photographer, Manchester Historic Association. Used with permission. Architect was George W. Stevens.

Anna Maria(h) Annan was born  19 Oct 1837 in Hooksett/Pembroke NH, daughter of Robert & Mary (Herrick) Annan.  Her father was a noted mechanic of Peterborough NH.  The history of Peterborough notes that “The first looms of the Phoenix factory were built under the direction of John and Robert Annan sons of the Rev David Annan in 1822.” [from Proceedings of the sesqui-centennial celebration held at Peterborough NH (150th) 1889
She died 12 Feb 1929 in Manchester NH, aged 91, and is buried in Valley Cemetery, Manchester NH.

Maria(h) Annan married on 1 Sep 1864 in Manchester NH to George W. Stevens, son of Phineas & Sally (Aiken) Stevens.  He was born abt 1834 in Andover MA, and died 30 Sep 1897 in Cordova, Alabama.  He was a civil engineer and an architect.  George’s father Phineas was millwright and wheelwright for the Amoskeag Corp. George is buried in Valley Cemetery, Manchester NH beside his wife Mariah.

Stereoview of the Amoskeag Chimney, Manchester NH.

For those who would question that George W. Stevens was both civil engineer and architect, the Manchester City Directory of 1882 has his name listed under both categories, his work address being 1819 Elm Street, Manchester NH.  He performed most of his work for the Amoskeag Company, with a few exceptions. George W. Stevens’ architectural designs included the Ash Street School, and the famed Amoskeag Chimney.  That Chimney was built by Amoskeag Manufacturing Co. in 1883. The dimensions were 265 feet high, 25 feet in diameter at the base, 15 feet diameter at the top. Cap is of cast iron 18 feet in diameter x 6 1/2 feet high. Contained about 1 million bricks.  [It was demolished, if any of my readers knows the year please comment].  Thanks to Stan Garrity, I learned that George W. Stevens was also the architect of Lincoln School built two years before Ash.

And now to answer a potential question.  Was George W. Stevens, husband of the “other Maria Stevens” related to Mariah Jane (Stevens) Mitchell?  Answer, honestly I don’t know, and since it is not directly related to my story, I will pass, for now on researching further.  If YOU know, please share in the comments section!

[end]

This entry was posted in Genealogy, History, New Hampshire Women and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A Case of Mistaken Identity: Maria Stevens of Manchester New Hampshire

  1. Marilyn says:

    Always enjoy reading your stories! Always waiting for a “snipit” of one of my family New Hampshire/Maine names to,pop up!

  2. June Saxon says:

    Now I am wondering if this Aaron Page is in my Page line Janice!

  3. Amy says:

    I wonder how/why the seller came up with the wrong person. Nice work—so generous of you to research BOTH of these women. I hope some descendant sees your post and treasures that photo.

    • Janice Brown says:

      Amy, I think the seller just saw the first name and figured that had to be it without examining it further. I am just glad I noticed it was a graduation photograph and didn’t “put it out there” as the wrong person! 😀 Thank you for reading and commenting, Amy, it is much appreciated.

  4. Michael says:

    Great detective work, Janice! Aside from publishing in your blog, what do you typically do with these original photos? I’m sure – one day – her descendants will land on this post and be grateful for your work.

    • Janice Brown says:

      Michael, first thanks for reading and commenting. In SOME cases I have already forwarded photographs to various historical societies. In the case of Maria Stevens, she was connected to several places. Where would you send it? Just curious.

Leave a Reply