Sibling Saturday: Harriet (Tidd) Caufield and Laura (Tidd) Feister

A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life. ~Isadora James

I just love this old photo of my great-grandmother, Laura Jane Tidd with her sister Harriet (“Hattie”) Martha Tidd. I don’t know the story behind the photo, but suppose it to have been taken somewhere between 1897-1899. Great-grandmother Laura looks to be somewhere around 14-16 years old, which would make Harriet between 19-21. Laura has a rather jaunty smile on her lips, while her older sister strikes a more adult posture. Hattie married in Dec 1899, so perhaps that was the occasion of this photo? The family was not wealthy by any means, which makes me think the photo was taken for a special occasion.

Laura and Hattie Tidd

Harriet’s and Laura’s adult lives were mainly differentiated by their marriage choices. Harriet married in 1899 and Laura in 1905. They both remained in Olean, NY, to raise their children.

Harriet married an oil man, Edward Caufield, who traveled the world, leaving wife and children (3) at home for long months. Sometimes Harriet traveled, too, either with Edward or to visit him. Back then, overseas travel was aboard ocean liners. I’ve found records of Edward & Harriet’s travels on passenger lists and copies of their passport applications. Edward died in 1942, far from home, of a heart attack. He was in Calcutta on business at the time and is interred at the Tollygunge Cemetery.

Laura married a machinist, George Feister, of which very little is known. I’ve discovered a little of his mother’s family, but all that is known of his father is the name: Ralph Fister. Laura and George lived nearly their entire married life in Olean, NY. They struggled to get on, due to George’s alcoholism. From all reports, it was not a happy family life for their three daughters and son. It may be that the happiest years of Laura’s adult life followed George’s death in 1955 (awful sounding, I know, but there you have it). Laura enjoyed a couple of years being well-loved and cared for by her adult children and grandchildren, who all adored her gentle ways and pretty smile.

Below is a charming photo, circa 1910, of the sisters with their daughters. Hattie with youngest child, Mabel, and Laura with her firstborn, Harriet (“Hattie”). Laura must have thought much of her older sister, to name her first child after her.

Hattie with daughter Mabel, Laura with daughter Harriet (“Hattie”),1910

This next photo shows the sisters later in life. Harriet is on the left and Laura on the right. Again, I don’t know the story behind the photo, so I have to guess based on facts and clues.

The sisters appear sad, and there are packing boxes behind them. Two different events which occurred in 1942 could be the occasion of this photo. Their mother, Delia Jane (Rice) Tidd passed away in February of 1942. Just a few months later, in May, Harriet’s husband (Edward) died. The style of clothing the women are wearing does suggest the 1940s.

My guess is that this photo was taken after the passing of their mother. The sisters could have been preparing to remove their mother’s belongings from the old homestead in Olean, NY. According to the 1940 U.S. Census, Harriet was living with her son-in-law in Olean, so she would not have a house of her own to pack following the passing of Edward.

Harriet Tidd Caufield and Laura Tidd Feister

Sadly, though Laura was the younger, she was the first to pass away. At age 73, Laura died in 1957, just a few weeks before the birth of her first great-grandchild. She and George rest together in Pleasant Valley Cemetery, Olean, NY.

Harriet passed away in 1968, at the age of 90. She rests in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, NY, sharing a common headstone with her son, Edward, and daughter-in-law, Rose.

Sisters … through life’s ups and downs … closer than any friend could be.

Our brothers and sisters are there with us from the dawn of our personal stories to the inevitable dusk.  ~Susan Scarf Merrell

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