Saturday, October 8, 2016

Are Middle Generations the Middle Children of Genealogy?

So we all know that the oldest child gets the full attention of its parents and the baby of the family gets spoiled by being the last in the house. Middle children tend to get neglected. While researching, I've noticed that it's relatively easy to find documentation for my seventeenth-century immigrants since they all were in New England where good recording keeping was the norm. I'm most interested in sources that can tell me something about their lives, beyond the basics of vital statistics. There were also many town histories and family genealogies published around the turn of the 20th century that document the stories of these immigrants. Recent generations benefit from the memories of living relatives. However, the middle generations are tough for me to track down. Does anyone else feel like this is the case? What are your favorite sources for these late 17th century to early 20th century ancestors?

The census is a good starting point to gather a bit of information about one's ancestors. Some of the census years have interesting tidbits that can help flesh out the story of their lives a bit. Some of my favorite things to look at are (some are supplemental questions that are only answered by a few on the page):

  • 1860 & 1870 & 1880 - occupation, value of real & personal property, place of birth, literacy, citizenship, disability (deaf, dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict). In 1880, the census takers started listing the relationship to the head of household. 
  • 1890 - much of this census is lost but you might be able to find some of your family
  • 1900 - age at marriage, number of children and number of living children (a good way to find children who are born and died before ever being recorded in a census). 
  • 1910 - language spoken, industry (more detailed than occupation), employment status including number of weeks worked in 1909, home ownership, Civil War veteran
  • 1920 - year of naturalization, mother tongue of person and parents
  • 1930 - owns a radio, veteran and list which war or expedition
  • 1940 - many more employment questions such as hours worked in a week, employed by a New Deal program, annual pay, 

The non-population schedules are interesting also. I have used the agricultural schedules to determine what my farmer ancestors were growing on their farms.

What's Growing on Your Farm, Great-Grandpa? - comparing two sides of my great-grandmother's family.
The Carter Farm in 1860 and 1880 - comparing two generations on the same farm
1860 Carter Farm - my first transcription of an agricultural census. Get a blank form and use it to see what is on each line.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Carter Family Portrait

I've written a number of times about my 3X great-grandfather, Elias Mellen Carter and his family. Here is a picture of Elias and his wife, Rebecca (Williamson) Carter and their eleven children. Rebecca was from Ireland and is my most recent immigrant ancestor. The Williamsons came to Maine sometime around 1820 so they were not part of the potato famine migration.  

In the front from left to right are children: Julia Elizabeth, Emily Jane, Timothy Cullen, William Lawson, Sarah Lillie, Helen Louise, and her twin, John Herbert.
In the back from left to right are children: Mary Elizabeth, Frances Ann, Augustus Mellen, and Anna Grace (in her mother's arms) and parents, Rebecca (Williamson) & Elias Mellen Carter.

Elias Mellen Carter
Augustus Mellen Carter
Edward Mellen Carter
T. Richard Carter - my grandfather

Other posts about the family:
Five Daughters Suddenly Gone
The Carter Farm - 1860 & 1880
The Carter Farm 1860
Rebecca Williamson - Fearless Female
Squire of the Little Village
We Consider Her Very Dangerous
Thanksgiving in Paris
Letters Found on E-Bay
Close Call

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Spurr Memorial

Some April exploring took me to Spurr's Corner in Otisfield, Maine. I'd been wanting to go for awhile, just hadn't gotten around to actually doing it. My Spurr ancestors came from Massachusetts to Maine in 1776. I wrote about their migration in the post linked below. 

The History of Otisfield

"It is said that the first night they spent in Otisfield, they camped beside a large stone near the road. (A portion of that stone has since been moved to Spurr's Corner and a memorial tablet placed upon it.) He is buried in the yard south of Spurr's Corner. Through a mistake of the stonecutters the name is spelled Spyrr, instead of Spurr. They had nine children living, all born in Dorchester, and all came to Maine unmarried. They came to Windham in an oxcart and were the fourth family in town."

Here is a picture of the stone and a close up of the plaque. 

Spurr's Corner Monument - April 21, 2016
SEPT. 3, 1779
Plaque, April 21, 2016

Joseph & Miriam (Lyon) Spurr - came to Otisfield in 1779
Enoch Spurr
Roxanna (Spurr) Stanley
Mary Frances (Stanley) Carter
Edward Mellen Carter
Thomas Richard Carter - my grandfather

Moving in an Oxcart

Spurr, William Samuel. A History of Otisfield: Cumberland County, Maine from the Original Grant to the Close of the Year 1944 by William Samuel Spurr. Otisfield, Me.: Published by the Otisfield Historical Society, 1994. PDF.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

1862 Bethel Business Men

Is your ancestor on this list? My 3rd great-grandfather, Elias M. Carter, appears on the left as a farmer in Middle Intervale. Other families are related to me by marriage or as distant cousins.

Handwritten on Title Page: J. P. Boyd January 1862

A Business Directory of the Subscribers to the Map of Maine, with a brief history and description of the state, prepared by William Willis; Also Valuable Statistics and Advertisements.

Portland: Published by J. Chace, Jr. & Co.; Sanborn & Carter, 55 Exchange Street; Bailey & Noyes, 56 and 58 Exchange Street.

Printed by B. Thurston, Steam Book, Job, and Card Printer, proprietor of Commercial News Room, Publisher of "Portland Price-Current" and "Maine Teacher," 79 Middle Street, Portland.

Elias M. Carter
Augustus M. Carter
Edward M. Carter
T. Richard Carter - my grandfather

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Thomas Gardner - Immigrant Ancestor

Thomas Gardner was an early immigrant to Cape Ann and later Salem. It is believed that he arrived in 1624 and from 1626 to his death, he lived in Salem. His estimated birth year, 1592, is based on his testimony given November 26, 1661. He indicated that he was about sixty-nine years old. He died in Salem on December 29, 1674, a month after his third wife died. His sons, George and Samuel served as executors of his estate.

Regarding his education and service to the town, he signed his name, rather than making a mark and he served as a deputy for Salem to the General Court in 1637. From 1641-1658, he served on several juries and was the foreman at least twice. Thomas served multiple terms as a Salem selectman and multiple terms as an overseer of highways.   He was a fence viewer in 1636, constable in 1639, and rater in 1639-1640.

There is no indication of a specific profession practiced until the 1660s. During the 1660s, he was granted a license to be an innkeeper and sell "strong drink." In 1667, his license was amended to forbid him from selling "strong drink" to the local folks. He could only sell it to "strangers."

In 1636, he appears in a list of Salem church members, but a court record calls his commitment into question. In November 1660, among a list of Quakers, the wife of Thomas Gardner, Sr. was one of those fined for frequent absences from church on Sundays. Thomas was never mentioned for having absented himself from church and it is difficult to know his feelings about the matter.

Thomas Gardner was married three times. The name of his first wife is unknown. She probably died around 1636 and possibly in child birth. His second wife was named Margaret, but her maiden name was unknown. His third wife was Damaris, "widow Shattuck," and her maiden name is also unknown. The American Genealogist Vol. 30 has an article about the identities of Margaret and Damaris.

Thomas Gardner and his first wife are my tenth great-grandparents.

Thomas Gardner's children with his first wife were:
  1. Thomas born about 1614. 
  2. George born about 1616. 
  3. John born about 1624.
  4. Sarah born about 1627. Sarah married Benjamin Balch, son of immigrant, John Balch. 
  5. Samuel born about 1629. 
  6. Joseph born about 1630. 
  7. Richard born about 1632. 
  8. Miram born about 1635. 
  9. Seeth (daughter) baptized in Salem on December 25, 1636. 
My Line:
Thomas Gardner
Sarah (Gardner) Balch
Mary (Balch) Stone
Ruth (Stone) Morgan
Luke Morgan
Samuel Morgan
Martha (Morgan) Yates
Moses Yates
Gilbert William Yates
Estes Gilbert Yates
Linona Alice Yates - my grandmother

The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III. (Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2010), (Originally Published as: New England Historic Genealogical Society. Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III, 3 vols., 1995).

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Aaron & Mary (Day) Abbott - Tombstone Tuesday

Footstone of Aaron Abbott, III
Footstone of Mary (Day) Abbott - wife of Aaron Abbott, III

While exploring the Capen Cemetery in October 2015, I found two footstones for which the headstones were missing. A little sleuthing and piecing together clues and I believe these belong to Aaron Abbott, III and his wife, Mary Day. Aaron was the son of my 3X great grandparents, Aaron & Sarah "Sally" (Abbott), Abbott. The parents are also buried in the same cemetery. 

According to Findagrave, Aaron Abbott, III was born on December 20, 1802, and died on August 15, 1878, in Bethel, Maine. Mary was born on May 8, 1802, in Kennebunk, Maine, and no date is given for her death. Aaron and Mary married on August 17, 1829, in Kennebunk. Findagrave lists her parents as Moses Wentworth Day & Elizabeth Littlefield. 

Aaron Abbott, Jr. - father of Aaron III and my 3X great-grandfather
Sarah K. (Abbott) Capen
Edward Abbott Capen
Fannie M. (Capen) Carter
T. Richard Carter - my grandfather

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Gilman C. Abbott - Tombstone Tuesday

Capen Cemetery, Bethel, Maine

Gilman C. Capen is my first cousin, 4X removed. He was the oldest son of Stephen & Nancy (Goddard), Abbott. He only lived to the age of thirteen and I know nothing about how he died. He is buried with his parents in the Capen Cemetery in Bethel, Maine.

Aaron Abbott, Jr.
Stephen Abbott
Gilman Abbott

Aaron Abbott, Jr.
Sarah K. (Abbott) Capen - sister of Stephen Abbott, aunt of Gilman C. Abbott
Edward Capen
Fannie (Capen) Carter
T. Richard Carter - my grandfather