Henrietta Jane Vroom b 21 January 1846

Henrietta J. Vroom was born on Wednesday, January 21, 1846 in Wilmot Nova Scotia.[1] Her father was John Ditmars Vroom.  “Ditmars” was of Dutch descent although his family had been in New Amsterdam and New Jersey since the arrival of his fourth great grandfather Cors Pieterson.  The Vrooms were Loyalists who came to Nova Scotia after the Revolutionary War. 

Henrietta’s mother was Catherine Jones.  The Jones family was of Welsh descent, but had married into the Dutch families in the generations before Catherine. Henrietta had an older sister, Abigail, born in 1840.  Abigail was probably named for her grandmother, Abigail Vroom, and Henrietta for her grandfather, Henry Vroom. 

Most of the Vrooms lived in and around Clementsport, in Annapolis County, Nova Scotia.  Henry Vroom and his family moved up the valley near the Kings County border.  Wilmot is a small town just northeast of Middleton.

Henrietta was only 18 months old when her father died. 

            Death has again entered our family and taken our brother Ditmars, a great sufferer he has been the last three years of his life, he died Saturday, June the 12th was burried Monday 14th  Mr. Barratt preached his funeral sermon from Rev. 2, 10… [2]

On December 12th, 1854, when Henrietta was 8, her mother married Thomas Roland. 

            Catharine was married to day to Mr. Thomas Raland by Mr. Lockhart.[3]

Since Jane was recording her sister-in-law’s marriage in her diary, it would appear that Henrietta’s mother maintained ties with her husband’s family after he died.  In fact, the formal record of the marriage indicates that Jane Vroom was the recorded witness for Catherine.

The wedding took place in Wilmot Township, which actually contains many small communities, including the town of Wilmot.  By 1870, the Roland family had settled in Morristown, near Aylesford, just over the county line into Kings County.  During those years, Henrietta probably attended school, or was at least taught to read and write.  [4]

Thomas Roland helped develop the blueberry industry in the Morristown area.  Their property was not far from the Morristown Baptist Church.  Vrooms in nearby Middleton had apple orchards. 

The Hodges family lived in the Morristown area.  Jonathan and his brother John C. Hodges came from County Cork, Ireland. [5]   Jonathan was a farmer and shoemaker. [6]  

Jonathan’s son Jonathan was born in 1835 in Aylesford.  The younger Jonathan and Henrietta were married on November 28, 1870, in the Aylesford Wesleyan church.  This was the first marriage for both of them.  Jonathan was 32, Henrietta was 25.[7]

Jonathan’s father had died the year before, and his mother Ruth lived with them in 1871.  Henrietta’s first baby was born about 1872, but did not survive.  [8]  Henrietta’s second child, Etha M. was born November 4, 1873, at Factory Dale, which is a small community adjacent to Morristown.  Shortly after that, Jonathan, Henrietta, and Etha moved to Middleboro, Massachusetts, where Henrietta’s next child, Frank Ditmars, was born September 29 1874.  The family then moved to Cochituate, Massachusetts, where Jonathan worked as a well digger.  Henrietta’s last child, Charles Elmer, was born there on November 10, 1875.    

Only five weeks later, Henrietta’s husband Jonathan died of consumption.  Consumption is an old name for tuberculosis, and consumption describes how the illness wastes away or consumes its victims. 

Alone in a foreign country, with a newborn, a 1-year-old son, and a 2-year-old daughter, Henrietta returned to Nova Scotia to bury her husband, and to live with her mother and step-father.  Two months after the death of her husband, infant Charles died at three months.  He and his father share a headstone at the old cemetery across from the Morristown Baptist Church. 

Henrietta’s family probably stayed in the Morristown area about eight years.  Etha was baptized in 1882 at the Wilmot Methodist church.  At that time, her residence was listed as Lawrencetown, which was also the home of Henrietta’s sister-in-law, Rebecca Hodges McKeown.  A few months later, Henrietta’s mother Catherine died.  She was buried in the old Morristown cemetery.

Etha and Frank attended Morristown school with some of their Hodges cousins, and were there as late as 1883, although Etha only attended school for 4 days that term.[9] 

In 1884, Mrs. H. J. Hodges sailed on the ship “Secret”, from Annapolis to Boston, arriving on September 4th.  She continued on to nearby Lynn, about 11 miles north of Boston. Lynn was established about 1629, an “offspring” of Plymouth Plantation. The 1885 Lynn directory lists Mrs. H J Hodges, nurse, at 49 Lewis. 

In 1890, Henrietta lived at 21 Light, in Lynn.  On March 6, 1890, Henrietta married Lyman B. Woodbury in Lynn.  [10]  He was also from the Middleton area of Nova Scotia, and they may have known each other there.  Lyman was a carpenter, and they ran a boarding house at 417 Union. [11] At that time, Etha and Frank would have been 17 and 15, and were probably living with their mother and step-father.

The marriage did not last long. In 1892 and 1893, the Lynn city directory listed Henrietta J. Woodbury as a widow, living at 29 Congress. Technically Henrietta was a widow – of Jonathan but not of Lyman.  He moved back to Nova Scotia, then later lived with his son Leander, and died in Keeseville, NY.   From 1894 to 1899, Henrietta lived at 82 Harwood.

In 1897, Henrietta, traveling as Mrs. H. J. Hodges, traveled on the ship “Boston” from Yarmouth, NS to Boston, arriving on September 4th.  Her cousin Charles’ daughter, Cora, was also on the ship.  The “Boston” was built in 1890 in Glasgow, and was rated as the fastest single-screw steamer of her dimensions in the world.  Besides passenger service, the ship also carried shipments of Nova Scotia blueberries.

In the 1900 census, Henrietta Woodbury was renting the house at 123 Holyoke, in Lynn.  Her daughter and son are with her, as are her cousin Charles Vroom, and his daughter Cora.  Next door at 119 Holyoke lived Albert Warren Smith, his wife Mary, and their niece Josie Smith.[12]  Josie and Frank were married on November 28, 1900, exactly 30 years after the marriage of Jonathan and Henrietta.  The ceremony was performed by Rev. C. W. Blackett[13], who was the pastor at the South Street Methodist Church. 

Josie had been raised by her uncle Albert and his wives (Lucinda, then Mary).  Albert was a trustee at Lynn’s South Street Methodist Church in 1894, and Frank was a trustee there later.

Lynn directories from 1901 to 1904 list Henrietta and Etha at 19 Waverly.  In 1905, they lived at 216 Maple.  By 1906, the family had moved to 15 Graves Place. The extended family now consisted of Henrietta, Etha, Frank and Josie, their sons Albert Warren (named for Josie’s uncle), Frank Chester, (partially named for his father), and the twin boys, Frederick Donald and Arthur Roland (possibly named in part for Thomas Roland, with whom Frank and his mother lived after Jonathan died.)  By this time, Henrietta was using the Hodges name again. [14] The 1907 census says the family moved to Lowell MA.

In 1909, the family lived on Sladen Street[15] in Dracut, by Lowell, MA, but in 1910, Frank and family were back in Lynn, where Frank worked in a life insurance office.  Henrietta lived at 707 Sumner, where she worked as a housekeeper for an older couple named James and Emily Parker. [16]

By 1912, Henrietta had moved to Marblehead, and was working as a housekeeper at the Blaney residence at #10 Spring.  The 1913 Marblehead directory says that Henrietta J Hodges moved to York, Maine. No other records have been found to support this, but Henrietta does not show in Lynn or Nashua directories for a couple years.

In 1918, Mrs. H. J. Hodges, housekeeper, was boarding at 12 Prescott, in Nashua NH.  Nashua was once known as Dunstable, MA, before the name was changed in 1836. 

Frank’s family moved to Nashua NH, then Hudson NH, then Merrimack.  Frank wanted to be a farmer, so he rented a farm in Amherst, and raised milk cows and produce. The Nashua Street Railway had expanded in 1907 connecting Hudson to Manchester. This allowed commuters from the neighboring towns to come to work in Nashua.  This new line created an all rail trip between Boston and Concord, and the 6 1/2 hour one-way trip cost $1.05. But at this time, automobiles were becoming more popular than the trolleys.  

Frank eventually became a grocer.  On November 12, 1919, he died of cancer[17].  His oldest son Albert was a junior or senior in high school, and quit school to support the family.  Frank is buried at Edgewood cemetery in Nashua. 

In 1920, Henrietta was still working as a housekeeper, this time for Henry Burnham.  She lived next door to her son’s widow Josie, and two of the sons.  Etha also lived with Josie.  The family lived at least six years at 12 Prescott in Nashua.  This may well have been the longest Henrietta stayed at one residence while she lived in the States, as the census records and city directories showed frequent moves.

Some time after 1923, Henrietta moved to Green Cove Springs, near Jacksonville, Florida, where Etha also lived. 

In 1926, Henrietta’s sister, Abigail West, died in Middleton, Nova Scotia.  Abigail’s obituary did not list Henrietta as a surviving family member.  That may have been an oversight in the newspaper, or perhaps the sisters lost touch. 

Henrietta died in Green Cove Springs on September 14, 1928.  She was almost 83.  Cause of death was listed as “progressive paralysis” which had affected her for about 10 days.[18] 

Henrietta worked all of her life.  In 1920, at age 75, she still listed her occupation as housekeeper.  She outlived her parents, step-father, sister, two husbands, and three of her four children (Etha died in 1962 in St. Petersburg, FL).  Her lifespan covered transportation methods of horse power, steam ships, railroads, autos, and even planes.  Communications systems went from letter to telegraph, telephone, and radio.  Although Henrietta lived in Nova Scotia during the Civil War, she was in the United States during the First World War, and the flu epidemic.

Henrietta was buried at West Hickory Grove cemetery, in Green Cove Springs. A marker has not been found.

[1] Source is Florida death certificate for Henrietta.

[2] Diary of Jane Vroom Wheelock, dau. of Henry Vroom & Abigail Ditmars.  p. 21

[3]  Diary of Jane Vroom Wheelock, p 22

[4]  Later census records indicate Henrietta could read and write English.

[5]  Origins listed in land grant applications.

[6]  1838 census

[7] Marriage records, Kings county Nova Scotia

[8] Later census records list 4 children born, 2 surviving.  Because of the spacing of the last three children and the date of her husband’s death, the first baby who died had to be her first child.

[9] Morristown school records for 1883.

[11] 1890 Lynn city directory

[12] 1900 census for Lynn, MA

[13] Marriage record for Frank and Josie

[14] Lynn city directory

[15] News clipping, unknown paper, mentioning Cora Vroom of Lynn visiting Hodges family on Sladen. 

[16] 1910 census for Lynn, MA

[17] Death certificate for Frank D. Hodges

[18] Death certificate for Henrietta Woodbury


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