Lemuel Orlando Sleep b March 1872

Lemuel Sleep was born in March 1872, in Wolfville Nova Scotia, the fourth of five children of Peter L and Nancy (Hodges) Sleep.  I have not located this family in the 1880 US or 1881 Canada census.  In 1891, the family is living in the south end of Yarmouth, NS, where Lemuel’s father was a shoemaker.   Although Lemuel was an adult, he did not have an occupation listed. 

Lemuel married Mercy “Mary” E Smith on 15 August, 1891, in Yarmouth.  The marriage record says that he was a tradesman, but doesn’t specify further. 

In 1900, Lemuel and Mary are living in Spencer, MA, where he was a machinist in a boot factory.  This census also says that he moved to the US in 1883.  It appears that the Sleep family moved around quite a bit, so they may have been back and forth between MA and NS.  Lemuel and Mary had four children. His parents also lived with them.  According to the 1900 census, his birth date was March 1872, but other records show other months. 

Passenger records from 1901 show Lemuel and Mary travelling from Yarmouth to Boston on the “Prince Arthur” arriving on July 10.  Massachusetts city directories in Spencer, East Bridgewater and Bellingham list Lemuel O Sleep as a machinist, working at CCG Co. 

The family moved back to Nova Scotia, and was counted in the 1911 census at Springfield.  Lemuel listed his occupation as machinist, and his mother Nancy was in the household, along with Lemuel’s wife and children. 

Sometime after the 1911 census, Lemuel and Mary had divorced, and Lemuel moved to Hartford CT. The 1916 directory “migrations” section says that Lemuel O Sleep moved to Vermont.  Sure enough, he is listed in the 1916 Rutland directory, a laborer, rooming at 14 Elm.  Lemuel and Devilla Florence Shupe had started a relationship.  While living at this residence,  Lemuel and Devilla’s 2-month old son Harold died of acute gastritis.

He married Devilla in Boston.  They are listed in the 1920 census, with daughter Marjorie F age 7.  Some family trees on line list Marjorie as Devilla’s daughter from a previous relationship.  Because the Sleep family members are listed as boarders with Annie Smith, the record doesn’t indicate whether little Marjorie is Lemuel’s daughter or step-daughter, but she is called “Sleep” not “Shupe.”  Lemuel is a machinist at a razor factory. 

In 1930, Lemuel and Devilla are living in Lyndon VT.  This census asks for age at first marriage.  Lemuel reported his age as 19, which corresponds to his age when he married Mary.  Devilla indicates she was 39, so her marriage to Lemuel must have been her first, and dates the marriage to about 1919.  Lemuel was a machinist in a shop.  Lemuel and Devilla had least three children together. 

The 1935 city directory for St Johnsbury lists Sleep, Lemuel O (Devilla F) com trav h Center n covered bridge.  What is a com trav – a travelling salesman perhaps?  This is the last record I have for Lemuel senior.  By 1938, the Lyndonville directory lists Lemuel junior rooming with Mrs. Devilla F Sleep.  To me, that means Lemuel senior is out of the picture.  Some directories would have said “widow of Lemuel” if that was the case, but this practice wasn’t universal, so I don’t use it as evidence of death.   Lemuel’s great granddaughter told me that he was forced out of Devilla’s household because of drinking and abusive behavior.  She also has not yet found a death record for him.


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