Mary E. Vail

Mary E. (Mount) Vail was one of the extended Hunt-Mount-Plant family of Waterloo, the daughter of signer Lydia Mount and niece of signers Richard P. Hunt, Jane Hunt, and Hannah Plant.

Mary Elenor Mount was probably born in Waterloo in 1827 or 1828. Her parents, Lydia Hunt Mount and Randolph Mount, had just moved from Geneva, New York, to a farm on Mount Road in the Township of Seneca Falls. An older sister, Caroline, had died in infancy. Two more sisters were born after Mary--Emmeline in 1829 and Eliza Jane about 1834.

After her father's death of "consumption" in 1842, Mary Elenor married New Jersey-born Gilbert Vail, a furnaceman by trade, on October 31, 1844. Although they were not married in the traditional Quaker manner but in a civil ceremony conducted by a Justice of the Peace, Gilbert may have been part of the family of Vails affiliated with local Quaker meetings. Mary was only seventeen, and Gilbert was about twenty-four.

Gilbert's work was connected to the construction and repair of metal tools and machines, and he may well have been drawn to Waterloo to help keep the textile machines of the Waterloo woolen factory in good repair. He served also as a member of Waterloo's volunteer Fire Engine Company. He may have been related to several other Vail families who lived in the Waterloo area.

Gilbert and Mary E. Vail probably had four children: Caroline, born about 1846; R.M., born about 1849; Guy, whose date of birth is unknown; and one other son whose name is unknown.

By 1850, the Mount-Vail household included only two of their four children, along with a seventeen-year-old Irish-born young woman named Elizabeth Wier; a nineteen-year-old machinist named J.L. Vail (perhaps Gilbert's brother); and twenty-one-year-old Jacob Sprague, a carpenter. Mary E. Vail thus probably supplemented her husband's income by keeping boarders.

Mary Mount Vail had need of income of her own, for on June 5, 1855, Gilbert Vail died, leaving her a widow with small children. Almost six years later, January 17, 1861, she married Enos Laney, a widower with seven children. She and Enos had two more children, named after her mother and her uncle--Richard Pell Hunt Laney (1863-1905) and Lydia Hunt Laney (d. 1898.

Mary Emmeline Mount Vail Laney outlived two husbands and at least her two younger children. She died on January 19, 1910. She is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery.


  • Files of Betty Auten.
  • 1850 Census for Waterloo
  • Reynolds Genealogy file, Seneca County Historian's Office (Betty Auten)
    Series VI, unpublished typescript, 1968, Waterloo Historical Society.
  • Weltha Bacon Woodward, "Bacon-Woodward Pedigree of Paternal Branch," Vol I, Series VI, unpublished typescript (1968) in Waterloo Historical Society, 411-412.
  • M.E. Vail to Susan B. Anthony, August 29, 1845, Stanton-Anthony Papers.

-Judith Wellman, Historian
Historical New York

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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