In 1886 the Athens Universalist Society solicited donations to pay for repairs to the meeting house. One of the donors was identified only as “Mrs. Plubert,” who gave $5 (equivalent to about $130 today). It wasn’t the largest donation, but still it was sizable, especially for a woman. Who was she?
When I searched the 1880 and 1900 census records for Bradford county, I found no one named “Plubert.” There were, in fact, fewer than ten people named “Plubert” in all of the searchable U. S. census records from 1790 to 1940. One of them, fortunately, had an unusual first name, “Severine.” He lived in Schenectady, NY, in 1940. By searching the census using just his first name, birth year, and birth place, I found him in other censuses as “Severine Peloubet.”
Searching the local census records again for “Peloubet,” I found a Mrs. Peloubet in the 1900 census of Sayre. After some digging, I learned that she was Dorothea Murray Spalding (1821-1906), a daughter of Simon Spalding and Eliza Murray. Her father was not the famous Gen. Simon Spalding, the progenitor of many of the members of the Sheshequin Universalist Society, but he was a distant relative of the General. Dorothea’s mother Eliza Murray was a granddaughter of the Rev. Noah Murray, the first Universalist preacher in Bradford county, and his wife Mary Stowe.
Dorothea was born and raised on the family homestead in what is now Sayre borough. Prior to the construction of the railroads in the 1850s and 1860s, that area was part of Athens township and was primarily farmland. The Spalding home was located on present-day Spring St., near where the Best Western Guthrie Inn is today.
Dorothea was thirteen years old when her mother died in 1834. As the oldest of four daughters, Dorothea probably took on her mother’s role. She did not marry until 1856, when she was 35 years old.
Dorothea’s husband Jarvis Peloubet was born in New York City in 1833. His father Chabrier Peloubet was an instrument maker, specializing in flutes and other wooden wind instruments. In 1836 Chabrier moved his operation to Bloomfield, NJ, and in 1846 the Peloubets started making reed organs. Jarvis learned the instrument trade from his father; he became a partner in the business in 1865. He was awarded several patents for improvements to reed organs.
How Dorothea and Jarvis met each other is a mystery, but they were married in 1856 in Bloomfield. They lived there together until at least 1870. They had three children who survived to adulthood.
Dorothea left Bloomfield – and possibly her husband – in the 1870s. When her father Simon Spalding died in 1876, she was his only surviving child. She inherited his property on Spring St., where she lived with her son William in 1900.
I do not know whether Dorothea had any connection with the Athens Universalist Society prior to 1886. Her uncle Harris Murray (grandfather of the founder of the J. H. Murray coal company) was a member of the Society in the early 1850s. Harris is the only descendant of the Rev. Noah Murray who is known to have been a member of either the Sheshequin or Athens societies.
Dorothea moved to Los Angeles, CA, with her son William and his family between 1900 and 1903. She died there in 1906. Her remains were returned to Athens, and she was buried in Tioga Point Cemetery.
Jarvis Peloubet left Bloomfield about 1890 and moved to Chicago, IL. He sold his organ business and started a cement-making company. When he died in Chicago in 1900, his obituary did not list Dorothea among his survivors.