Great Grandmother with Shortest Life – Ida Shelby

My 2x Great Grandmother, Ida Shelby was born December 1859 in California. She is the 2nd of 5 children born to John Lafayette Shelby and Ann Jeanette Hinckley. Her mother was previously married and had one daughter from that union. Ida grew up in Soquel which is in Santa Cruz county. It is near the coast and the redwoods and is south of San Francisco. There are 2 articles in the Santa Cruz news that mention Ida while she was growing up. First, she was in a Masquerade Ball. The second one was on the Honor Roll in 1871.

Excerpt from an article about the Masquerade Ball 1871

The excerpt:

Miss Ida Shelby was disguised in blue, with silver spangles. She represented the Alphabet, and looked like one of the lovely little elfs that we read about in our fairy tales.

She can be found on the 1860 census with her parents, half sister Ella, brother Isaac and Grandfather Roger Hinckley. Ida (listed as Ada) is listed as 6/12 years old. They were living in Visalia, CA. The next census, 1870, the family is living in Soquel, CA and she is listed with her family and in addition to the above mentioned names, there is the addition of her brothers, Evan and John. Ida is listed as 10 years old. There is also a servant listed on the census Foy Ah age 16 from China. Her brother Isaac died at the age of 13 and she had a sister, Jeanette that was never enumerated on a census and isn’t mentioned on most family trees I encounter. I came across her in a newspaper clipping in 1875, mentioning her death as she was only 3. There is a gravestone for her next to her brother Isaac.

1860 US census in Visalia, Tulare County, CA

On 28 February 1878, Ida Shelby  age 18 married John Day Bostwick age 28 in a ceremony performed by A C Duncan. John was a butcher and they continued living in Soquel, CA. Soon after, Ida gave birth to Charles Jabez Bostwick on 30 October 1878.

Marriage announcement in newspaper

Ida Shelby Bostwick died 9 September 1879 at the age of 19. She had to have been pregnant as her cause of death was fever puerperal. This is the cause listed on the 1880 Federal Mortality census. The death certificate is infuriatingly absent of detail. It lists no parents and no spouse. The family story was always that Ida died in childbirth and that on her deathbed she encouraged her husband to marry the housekeeper, Delphina. Ida felt that Delphina was good to Charles and would raise him as her own. Indeed, one year later Delphina was married to John. I don’t know how far along in her pregnancy Ida was but there is one credible family historian who has listed a baby named Hugh. This baby is not seen in any census and as far as I know may have been stillborn or the gestation was just too short for him to have survived. I wonder if he is buried with Ida. Unfortunately, this family historian died a couple of years before I started researching. Her husband is the grandson of Charles and he grew up in California near Charles. He or perhaps his mom had more information than my mom did.

There were small obituaries in several newspapers in California and one in the Delaware Gazette in Delhi, NY where her husband, John grew up. They all had the same content.

Obituary for Ida Bostwick

Years later in 1909, her father had her body as well as those of her brother Isaac and sister Jeanette exhumed and buried in a family plot at the Oakwood Cemetery in Soquel, CA. I had the honor to visit the grave recently. In addition to her siblings above, Ida is buried with her mom and dad, Ann Jeannette Hinckley Shelby and John Lafayette Shelby and her maternal grandfather Roger Hinckley.

personal photo





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Santa Cruz Weekly Sentinel, 8 Apr 1871, page 2
Santa Cruz Weekly Sentinel, 02 Dec 1871, page 2

United States Census, 1860″, database with images, FamilySearch ( : 30 December 2015), John Shelly in entry for Robert Hinckley, 1860.

United States Census, 1870,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 17 October 2014), John L Shelby, California, United States; citing p. 12, family 88, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 545,588.

Marriage Certificate between John Day Bostwick and Ida Shelby from Santa Cruz courthouse.

Santa Cruz Weekly Sentinel, 4 Jan 1879, page 2. US Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885 [data base online].

Death Certificate for Ida Shelby from Santa Cruz courthouse.

Santa Cruz Weekly Sentinel, 20 Sep 1879, page 3.

Santa Cruz Sentinel, 9 Nov 1909, page 4

Gravestone of Ida Shelby Bostwick, Oakwood Cemetery, Soquel, CA. Personal Photo February 2017.

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