This week in #52ancestors I bring you quite the character: George Mortimer Prince. He was born on 27 September 1837, the third of six children of George Washington (1808-1888) and Emmaline Terrell (1810-1884) Prince.
George M. served in the US Civil War in the 5th Regiment, New York Cavalry as a corporal in Co. G. His dates of service are October 1861- November 1862. He is not mentioned in regimental histories and his military service was interrupted by a bad case of chronic diarrhea for which he was discharged. But more on that later.
George M. Prince married Elizabeth Alma Buttles (1842-1906) on 5 March 1864. They had three children:
- George Cornell Prince (1869-1959)
- unnamed daughter (22 June 1875-23 June 1875)
- Edna Mabel “Ted” Prince (1878-1947)
They lived in Bradford county, Pennsylvania until the late 1890’s when they relocated to Federalsburg, Maryland, bringing their daughter Edna Prince (Ted) with them.
Shortly after the death of his wife Alma (15 May 1906), George placed an advertisement in the York Gazette. I find the summary of his story here somewhat confusing: he appears to have written to the postmaster stating that he had recently lost his wife by death and would “be pleased to correspond with a Hanover widow of forty-five or fifty years of age, with a view to matrimony.” I don’t know if the rest of his letter explained his relationship with the people of Hanover, or if the postmaster simply assumed that a Civil War veteran writing fondly of Hanover must have fought in the battle at Hanover. However, George Prince had already been discharged due to disability in November 1862, which to my mind would make it very tricky to take part in a battle that happened on June 30, 1863. The 5th Cavalry was definitely there, engaged in hand to hand combat with Stuart’s cavalry, but George should have been at home by then.
He did, however, find a wife. And this is where the story gets complicated. My first inkling of this was in looking through a box of family photographs that came from my dad’s side of the family. The photos all seemed to be identified by my grandmother, which made me wonder if my father had sat her down and made her look through them. Among the Prince family images was a photo of a woman identified as “Hattie Duff, George M. Prince’s second wife?” The question mark was part of her name. When the dickens did he remarry? Elizabeth Alma died in 1906 and George M. died in 1909 so this must have been a whirlwind romance, or something.
According to George’s Civil War pension record, George M. married Hattie E. Duff (ne Jessop, widow, aged 55 years (more likely 62 years)) on 10 November 1908 in Baltimore, Maryland. Hattie Duff had apparently lived in Baltimore for some time with her first husband and children, but had been a widow since 1904. George M. Prince died on 28 February 1909, leaving everything to his new wife. She inherited everything, including his veteran’s pension.
This leaves me wondering just how his two surviving children felt about this. Perhaps it is summarized in that question mark on the back of her photograph.
Here are two images of George Mortimer and Alma Buttles Prince at the end of their lives.