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George Carleton

George Carleton (1799-1870)

This is a remembrance for a descendant who is not likely to show up in most genealogies as he did not marry and had no children. George Carleton was mentally disabled. He lived most of his life with family members but outlived all his family and spent the last five years of his life at the newly opened State Hospital for the Insane at Northampton, Massachusetts.

George was a seventh generation descendant of George Abbott and Hannah Chandler (Elizabeth Chickering Carleton6, John Chickering5, Hannah Osgood Chickering4, Hannah Abbott Osgood3, George2, George1). George was the oldest of three children born to Elizabeth Chickering (1773-1824) and Richard Carleton (-1803). The two other children, both daughters, died in infancy or early childhood.

George’s father, Richard Carleton, was part of the new and growing middle-class in the early nineteenth century. He owned a tanning factory in Charlestown and left an estate with a value of about $17,000 which included a large quantity of skins in various stages of the tanning process. There were about $2,750 worth of debts of the estate not covered out of the personal estate, and widow Elizabeth Carleton sold part of the real estate holdings to cover these debts.

In her will dated 24 September 1823, Elizabeth made the following provisions for her son. “Because my son George Carleton is imbecile and insane in mind, and not of capacity to govern either himself or his estate and concerns, my will and earnest desire is that my trusty and well-beloved brother-in-law Otis Vinal, of the city of Boston, in the state aforesaid, merchant, be guardian of the body and estate of my said son during his imbecility or insanity, and I request all people, in power and out, to give aid and authority to this my parental and dying request.” Aside from her books which are left to her brother Ebenezer, all the remainder of the real and personal estate is left in the hands of Otis Vinal to be used for the care of her son George. Elizabeth’s estate was valued at about $2,500.

Otis Vinal was the husband of Elizabeth’s sister Martha. It is not clear if, or for how long, George might have lived with them. George is not recorded as living with them in 1850. Otis died in 1853 and Martha in 1855. In 1860, George is listed living with his uncle Ebenezer Chickering in Pembroke, Maine. Ebenezer died in 1865, and it was at that time that George was placed at the Northampton State Hospital for the Insane. George died there in 1870, on his seventy-first birthday. His gravestone bears this inscription:

George Carleton Born in Charlestown, Mass. June 11, 1799 Died in Northampton June 11, 1870


Photo credits:

1860 United States Federal Census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Pembroke, Washington, Maine; Roll: M653_455; Page: 609; Family History Library Film: 803455.

1870 United States Federal Census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Northampton, Hampshire, Massachusetts; Roll: M593_621; Page: 385A; Family History Library Film: 552120.

Probate Records 1648--1924 (Middlesex County, Massachusetts); Author: Massachusetts. Probate Court (Middlesex County); Probate Place: Middlesex, Massachusetts

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