She was born, she said in Orwell, Addison County Vermont, on the shores of Lake Champlain, on 28 May 1815. However every census she is listed in from 1850 to 1910 gives her birth year as 1823. Therefore, despite the year inscribed on her obituary and her tombstone, perhaps there was a little fudging at the end of her life, to make her a centenarian. The dates given in her obituary for her first marriage would have made her husband eight years old (according to the 1850 census). The dates of her children's births are also consistent with a birth year of 1823. So let's take the real date as 1823 rather than 1815.
Her father's name is given as Peter Goff in the record of her third marriage. In two censuses he is indicated as having been born 'at sea' or 'on the ocean', evidently on the way to the New World. Her mother is unnamed in any record, but said to be Canadian.
Elizabeth first appears in firm census records in 1850, when she is listed as Elizabeth Sutherland, living in Watertown, Jefferson, Wisconsin. Her birth location is given as New York and her age as 27. Her husband is James Sutherland, listed as 28 years old, a tailor, and they have three children. The birth locations of his children's birth indicate that they were married before 1845, when they both would have been in their early 20's. They were living in Canada in 1845 to 1848, and in New York in 1849. Together with Mary Goff's varying birth locations (sometimes Vermont, sometimes New York), this seems to indicate that the family lived in the rather fluid Quebec-New York-Vermont border region around the head of Lake Champlain.
In her obituary this marriage is listed as taking place in Essex, Essex County, New York . It is unclear if the additions of the county here are from the genealogist. It is also possible that there is some confusion and that Essex County, Vermont was meant. But certainly the 1830 marriage year is impossible.
By 1852, Sutherland died, and Elizabeth very rapidly married a local Irish widower, Joseph Moneith, who's wife also must have died just recently. Elizabeth's last child with Sutherland and her first child with Monteith are just a year or two apart. It must have been a very quick courtship, but the widow of a tailor with small children in a frontier town would have needed a new husband as quickly as possible. The death of both spouses so close together might even suggest a more colorful story. Monteith was no tycoon; he had been born in 1805, had just moved from Vermont and moved onto 80 acres he had purchased in 1850. From his first wife he had four grown or nearly-grown children, three men and a daughter. There was also a 2-year old William Rice living with them in 1850, of uncertain connection.
The 1860 census shows the Monteith and Sutherland clans living together in Rockridge, Richland County, Wisconsin - two grown sons from his first marriage (the eldest son and daughter had married off and moved away), the four Sutherlands from Elizabeth's first marriage (three girls and a boy), and three new Montieths from Elizabeth's union with Joseph. The census taker gives Elizabeth's age as 57 - two years old than Joseph and clearly an impossibility for a woman with small children. Given the fact the age is 48 in the next census, we'll have to suppose the census taker meant 37. Three years later Joseph died at the age of 58.
Dramatic events must have occurred after Joseph's death. The combined family broke apart. Joseph Monteith Jr moved to Augusta, Eau Claire County, Wisconsin. Elizabeth evidently stayed in Richland, where, on 10 January 1870 she married James W Sackett, 12 years her junior. He was born in Michigan around 1833 and was a teamster, evidently working out of Dubuque, Iowa. He may have had an earlier marriage in Michigan in 1866, and perhaps service in the Civil War. At any rate he brought no children to the marriage and the census of July 1870 already finds them living together in Dubuque, together with her two youngest children from Monteith (the eldest Monteith-Goff child, Maria Jane Monteith, had married Isaac Turner in Rockridge in 1869 and stayed there). The 1870 census gives Elizabeth's age as 48, her place of birth as Vermont, and indicates her father was of foreign birth (but her mother was not).
The 1880 census finds the Sacketts still in Dubuque. The kids have moved out, but at the moment of the census James Sutherland, the youngest son from her first marriage, is living with them. Her age is given as 57, her birthplace Vermont, her father was born 'at sea' and her mother in Canada.
According to her obituary, George Sackett died in 1890 while on 'a trip out west' - understandable if he was a teamster. The 1900 census finds her living with her son-in-law Isaac Turner and daughter Maria Jane Monteith in Bridge Creek, Augusta, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Her birth date is given as January 1823 and the location as New York, with both parents from New York. She is listed as having 5 living children for 5 births (however this census enumerator, based on other entries on the page, was lazy and obviously inquired just the year, roughly, of birth, and just copied one parent's birth place without inquiring about the other. The entries for her daughter, for example, are also incorrect).
Elizabeth makes her last appearance in the 1910 census. She is listed as 87, born in Vermont, her parents born in 'at sea' and Canada (her mother having English mother tongue). She has had 10 births, but the number living figure is illegible (4 children from Sutherland and 3 from Monteith are known). She is living in Augusta, Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
She would die on 23 November 1916, at 6:00 pm after a three week final illness. Her obituary and gravestone gave her age as 101&