I began by using online resources to look for that name in that location with no luck. When I broadened the search to include all of New York State at that time period, I found a woman named Thankful Bennett living in Connewango, NY which is 70 miles south of Buffalo. In the 1880 census, Thankful and her husband Richmond had an unmarried daughter Julia Evaline 21-years-old and her niece Georgia Seely 11-years-old living with them. The 1890 Federal Census was lost in a fire. By 1900, their daughter was married to Charles W. Miller for 13 years with no children. Pat Nickols felt the quilt was made in the 1870s to 1880s. Since Thankful had no grandchildren, I guessed that perhaps she made the doll quilt for her niece, Georgia, who was actually counted twice in the 1880 census, once at her parents’ home in nearby Leon, NY and again living at least temporarily with her aunt and uncle in Connewango.
Pat Nickols told me that she bought the quilt from a dealer on E-Bay within the past 5 years and the dealer said, “The quilt came from the estate of the Priest family in Fairport, New York, which is near Rochester. This was most likely from the mother’s stuff and it is believe that her last name is Bennett. The mother would have been a little girl in 1915.” Before leaving for Rochester, I found phone numbers for several people named Priest in the area and called them to ask if they had Bennett family members. None were able to help me. I also met with the curator of the local historical society there who said there were many families named Bennett in local history but nobody named Thankful.
Since Thankful’s niece’s last name was Seely, I realized that it was also Thankful’s maiden name and found that she was perhaps the 3rd of more than 10 children of John D. and Sibyl Seely of Leon, NY. Georgia was the only daughter of Thankful’s younger brother Mial Seely and his wife Louisa. I got help from a reference librarian who is experienced in genealogy research at the town library in Brighton, NY. She traced Georgia as she married John Ward and had one daughter Mary Cecelia who married Harald H. Ackler and had 2 daughters, Alberta and Marjorie who were teenagers listed in the 1940 Federal Census, still living in Leon, NY after several generations.
~Martha Supnik, Library volunteer