Thomas Sarles wrote his will on May 23, 1859, and died on October 9, 1860. I am willing to bet good money that this stone was not erected in 1860, or even 1870 or 1880. I don't think it was erected until after the death of Ann Sarles in 1887, when dark granite was fully in fashion, and it was becoming commonplace for couples to place their names adjacent to each other on one stone (rather than one above the other, in which case the man's name invariably came first).
Thomas Sarles is featured in the 1850 Non-Population Census, which records agricultural holdings. According to this record, Thomas owned 187 acres of improved land and 15 acres of unimproved land. His farm was estimated to be worth $11,500, with $250 in farming machinery. He owned three horses, thirteen milk cows, four working oxen, eight "other cattle," and fifteen swine. His livestock was valued at $1,034. Thomas Sarles's farm was the most valuable one on the census page. In the past year, he had produced:
150 bushels of rye
450 bushels of Indian corn
300 bushels of oats
100 pounds of wool
1,000 bushels of Irish potatoes
75 bushels of buckwheat
3,000 pounds of butter
80 tons of hay
As for the Population Census of that year, 54-year-old Thomas and 49-year-old Ann are recorded living with Samuel Sarles (29) and Aaron Sarles (12), plus a 14-year-old girl named Amelia Ford.
In his will, Thomas Sarles leaves his entire farm to Aaron, who appears to have been his youngest son. While the oldest son may have seemed like a more natural choice of an heir, it seems that Thomas's older sons George W. and Thomas E. had already left their parents' house and established their own farms prior to their father's death. Thus Thomas's will ensured that Aaron, who was only 22 at the time of his father's death, would also have a means of livelihood.
Although Thomas leaves his wife Ann $1000 and "the use of all my household furniture" (use, not ownership), she has no claim to his property. It may have been understood between Thomas and his son Aaron that Ann was to remain in the house for as long as she lived. Sure enough, in the census of 1870, Aaron - whose farm is now worth $18,000 - is living with his 70-year-old mother, who owns $3000 in personal estate. If Aaron had decided that he didn't want his mother to live with him, however, she would have had no legal protection. He would have had every right to throw her out of the house (with her furniture). This seems to have happened to several of the widows recorded living in the Westchester County Almshouse, except that they didn't even have $1000 to live on.
Thomas gives his sons George W. and Thomas E. more than twice the amount of money he gives to his daughter Phebe Hyatt, but as Phebe was already married, it's possible that Thomas had already given her money or property in the form of a dowry. In any case, as a married woman, Phebe would not have expected her father to provide for her, especially since her husband was Jackson Hyatt, a successful merchant who built the Mount Kisco Institute (which was later converted into the largest hotel in Mount Kisco). Still, the sum that Thomas did give his daughter - $2000 - was nothing to sneeze at.
- Thomas Sarles (1786-1860) m. Ann (1801-1887)
- Phebe J. Sarles (1824-1909) m. Jackson Hyatt (1819-1892)
- George W. Sarles (1826-1910)
- Thomas E. Sarles (1836-1869)
- Aaron W. Sarles (1838-1895)
Will of Thomas Sarles
I, Thomas Sarles, of the town of New Castle, county of Westchester and state of New York, do make, publish, and declare this my last will and testament in manner following, that is to say:
First, I do give and bequeath to my beloved wife Ann Sarles one thousand dollars and the use of all my household furniture during her natural life, and at the decease of my said wife I then give all my household furniture to my four children, namely George W., Thomas E., Aaron W. Sarles and Phebe J. Hyatt to be equally divided between them.
Second, I give and bequeath to my daughter Phebe J. Hyatt the sum of two thousand dollars.
Third, I give and bequeath to my two sons George W. Sarles and Thomas E. Sarles each the sum of four thousand and five hundred dollars.
Fourth, I give and bequeath to my son Aaron W. Sarles the farm on which I now reside with all the stock and all the farming implements, wagons, carriages, sleighs, sleds, hay, grain, on the ground or in the buildings on said premises.
Fifth and lastly, I give and bequeath all the rest, residue, and remainder of my personal estate or real not heretofore disposed of to my three sons namely George W., Thomas E., and Aaron W. Sarles to share and share alike.
Sixthly, I do nominate and appoint my sons George W. Sarles and Thomas E. Sarles my executors to this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills by me made.
In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty-third day of May 1859.
Witnesses: Moses W. Fish residing at Bedford in the county of Westchester; Philander G. Purdy residing at Bedford in the county of Westchester