SARAH FAILING’S STORY
Failing was born in 1834 in the Village of Jordan in the State of New York,
one child from a large family belonging to John Andrew and Jane Owen Failing.
Sarah’s ancestry consisted of many sturdy Germanic men and women who had helped to settle the Mohawk Valley during the 1700s. She could look back with pride at her hardworking ancestors knowing many had been prominent in the settling of this bountiful valley.
Johannis Roof, her great-grandfather, had settled at Fort Stanwix and had been a trader and farmer as early as 1759. He had been a good friend of General Nicholas Herkimer during the Revolutionary War and, after losing his farm near Fort Stanwix, Johannis and his family resided at the Herkimer home for several months.
Sarah’s grandmother Susannah Roof had been born at Fort Stanwix, a daughter of Johannis Roof and his wife Anna Marie Leonhido Roof. Susannah Roof married Andreas (Andrew) Failing whose ancestor was Heinrich Failing who came to America from Germany in 1711. The Failings had been in a group of “poor Palatines” who resided at Livingston Manor where they suffered much working to make tar and pitch. Heinrich and his family left the Manor at Livingston sometime between 1712 and 1716 to settle in the Schoharie Valley. Sometime before the Revolutionary War the Failing family moved to Canajoharie where Heinrich was a farmer.
Heinrich’s son Johannes Failing married Marie Magdalena Wagner who was the daughter of Johan Peter Wagner and his wife Maria Margaretha Laux Wagner. Marie Magdalena was the sister of Col. Johan Peter Wagner.
Andreas Failing, Sarah’s grandfather, and a son of Johannes and Marie Magdalena Failing, had been a Revolutionary War veteran having served in Captain Adam Lipe’s Co., First Regiment, Tryon County Militia.
Sarah’s father, John A. Failing, had seen wartime service while a Private in Colonel Swift’s Regiment during the war of 1812. It was John A. Failing who moved this branch of the Failing family to the Jordan, N.Y area.
Circa 1854 Sarah married John A. Thomas, a native of Connecticut who had moved to Jordan circa 1852 where he worked his trade, that of a cooper. Life was fairly happy for Sarah during this time of her early marriage. However, her life was to take a sad turn soon after the birth of her third child, a son, named for his paternal grandfather, Noyes H. Thomas. Little Noyes H. Thomas died in 1859 at the tender age of one year and ten months. In 1860 Sarah’s mother Jane died and, within another year, Sarah lost her husband John to typhoid fever, a disease that frequently broke out in towns along the Erie Canal.
It was now the time of the Civil War and Sarah, with her two surviving daughters, had to eke out a living. Her widowed father and Rev. War pensioner father, John A. Failing, moved into Sarah’s home in Jordan to help his daughter and granddaughters Jane Emma (Jennie) and Pearl.
In 1867, in Jordan, Sarah married a draysman named Samuel J. M. Parks, a Civil War veteran who had served from Michigan. In 1870 Sarah’s household now held her father, her husband, her two daughters and an infant son Samuel Jr. Shortly after 1870, little Samuel died; another son lost by Sarah. Sarah soon followed her infant to the grave and Samuel deserted the family, by 1872, when he made a new life for himself in Peru, Kansas by marrying his fourth wife in 1873.
He left his two stepdaughters in the care of their grandfather John A. Failing whom Jennie always referred to as “like a father to me.” In 1874 John A. Failing died of old age, leaving his granddaughters orphans. Jennie had married a year earlier so she and her husband Frank Burke took in her younger sister Pearl. In time Pearl married Herman Meyn and moved to Rochester, N.Y. to live.
For years no one knew where Sarah Failing Thomas Parks was buried. In the Village Cemetery at the head of Quince Street in Jordan there were gravestones for her parents, a brother, two sisters, her first husband John A. Thomas and her infant son Noyes H. Thomas but none for Sarah or her young baby Samuel Parks Jr. Her name, no matter which surname one used, did not appear on any cemetery lists. It wasn’t until an older listing of the Village Cemetery, recorded by a Mr. Beauchamp in 1897, was Sarah’s final resting place learned. She had been buried as Sarah Thomas alongside the grave of John A. Thomas. No stone remains and no family history had ever told this fact.
Sarah’s life was not long and it had more than its fair share of sadness. However, it appears that she faced her lot in life with all the bravery that one would need to stay the course.
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