Cynthia Spears Day, daughter of Aaron Day and Martha Tibbetts

Five years ago I took a DNA test with one goal in mind: to solve the mystery of Cynthia (Day) Bursley’s parentage.  If you’ve been following this blog, you know that the last couple of years I’ve been just a *tad* bit focused on researching Cynthia’s parents, and published a proof argument linking her to parents Aaron Day and Martha Tibbetts.  You can find posts about Cynthia’s parentage here, and the discovery of her mother’s maiden name here.

However, besides my own proof argument that demonstrated there was no other plausible set of parents for Cynthia, there was no paper that directly linked to her to this branch of the Days.   Until yesterday.  Well, it existed before, but I didn’t know about it!  :-)

While many moan and groan about the accuracy of online family trees, I have found them to be an invaluable source of clues.  Some of the leads pan out, and some of them don’t.  Regardless, it’s always a good idea to contact those with trees similar to our own.  You never know what treasures the poster may have, and what information that you may glean!

Thankfully, I followed my own advice, and met up with a newly-found cousin while in Maine this past week.  She had a picture of Harriet Luzetta Day, sister to Cynthia Day, my third great grandmother.

Harriet L. (Day) Freeman (right), Lucy Ann Day (Freeman) Whitten (left), Carrie (Whitten) Whitten standing, and Guy Whitten, center

Harriet L. (Day) Freeman (right), Lucy Ann Day (Freeman) Whitten (left), Carrie (Whitten) Whitten standing, and Guy Whitten, center

And the BIG prize was a hand-written note transcribing records kept by Harriet’s granddaughter, Lucy A. (Whitten) Berry Loring, and which listed information on all of Harriet’s siblings, including Cynthia.

Transcribed notes listing the births of the children of Aaron Day and Martha Tibbetts

Transcribed notes listing the births of the children of Aaron Day and Martha Tibbetts

This is the ONLY paper I’ve yet found that includes Cynthia with her family, and, in a strange, quite odd way provided closure for me.  Cynthia is finally “home” – recognized as a bona fide member of the Day family.  Finally, a piece of paper supports what I’ve discovered:  Cynthia S. Day is the daughter of Aaron Day and Martha Tibbetts.

Will the real wife of Aaron Day please step forward???

Call the genealogy police!  An impostor has posed for the wife of my 4th great grandfather, Aaron Day!    Who the heck is Marion Harris?  How on earth did she make it into SO MANY family trees???

46 Ancestry trees erroneously include Marion Harris as wife of Aaron Day

46 Ancestry trees erroneously include Marion Harris as wife of Aaron Day

Marion Harris was sneaky.  She saw an opportunity and she joyfully GRABBED it!  Yup, she knew that many genealogists despise empty blanks on their pedigree charts and family group sheets.  Somehow she planted the message in someone’s mind that Aaron Day had not married Martha, who is listed in Starks, Maine records as the mother of his three oldest children.  Nope, of course it was Marion. And Marion needs a last name – so….let’s call her…Smith?  No, too common!  Mitchell?  Naw….how about Harris?  Yes!  That has a good ring to it…Marion Harris!!

While the above is all in jest, I have seriously wondered how the whole Marion Harris thing got started.  She is listed in no fewer than 46 public trees, and likely in a hoard of private ones as well.  I have yet to find any record with her name on it that links her to Aaron Day, aside from the undocumented trees such as those listed above.

Finally, I think I have my answer:

Oscar L. Day married Edna Marion Harris in 1919

Oscar L. Day married Edna Marion Harris in 1919

Shown above is a snapshot of a portion of the 20 July 1919 marriage record for Aaron Day’s great grandson, Oscar Lorenzo Day, who wed Edna Marion Harris in Lagrange, Penobscot County, Maine.

Seems pretty darn likely whoever began the Marion myth did so quite innocently and easily.  Most likely an aged family member went by memory to provide the names of ancestors, and confused Edna Marion Harris with Aaron’s (now) known wife, Martha Tibbetts.  (You can read more about Aaron’s wife REAL wife Martha here!)

Yes, I know I have such errors in my files too – and hopefully only in my oldest work, begun in the 1980s as my grandmother recited to me the names, dates and places she had in her memory, and which I dutifully transcribed onto my Family Group Sheets.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to finding the impostors in my own tree!

“In Search of Our Ancestors” – two thumbs up!

InSearchI’ve often wondered what really drives me in my passionate search for my ancestors?  Certainly the enjoyment of solving endless puzzles and the adrenaline-rushes with the thrill of the find make genealogy exceedingly fun.  But is there another reason so many of us are obsessed – and may I add, COMPELLED – to learn our ancestors’ stories???

Megan Smolenyak’s book, In Search of Our Ancestors, features stories of genealogy sleuths whose experiences of serendipity have led them to incredible finds.  I can certainly relate and have story after story of things that certainly shouldn’t have been.  Like the time my husband and I decided to get off the highway at a small town in Minnesota.  He was hungry and didn’t want to wait until we reached our destination to eat, so while he went into McDonalds, I visited a neighboring, old cemetery – and found the gravestone of a family member I had no idea was buried there!

One has to wonder if it is simply serendipity or random coincidences that result in such finds, or if there is another reason that we are so often successful in unlikely discoveries such as this?  Like a little help from beyond?  :-)  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which was both heartwarming and inspiring, and think you will too!

Spinsters and single-women in the 1700s and beyond


Sarah.  Abigail.  “Aunt Nabby.”  Lucy.  Mary.  Hannah.  Elizabeth.  These are the names of just a few of the Day family women residing as “single women” in Ipswich, Massachusetts in the 18th and early 19th centuries.  They clearly did not espouse the joys of marriage as depicted in the c. 1790 picture above.  What on earth would cause so many women of the Day family to remain single in an era where women could not easily support themselves, and opportunities for the unmarried female were scarce?

The obvious explanations could certainly justify a spinster or two in the family tree, but TEN?

Jeremiah Day's Children Continue reading

Jeremiah Day’s “Highboy Chest of Drawers”

Helen (Freeman) Grant wrote to her cousin, Elsie (Day) Hansen about Jeremiah Day's Highboy Chest of Drawers

Helen (Freeman) Grant wrote to her cousin, Elsie (Day) Hansen about Jeremiah Day’s Highboy Chest of Drawers

Jeremiah Day.  Yeoman.  And, apparently, cabinetmaker.

Featured on the Yale University web site is a photo of a Highboy Chest of Drawers which was attributed to Jeremiah and which stayed in the Day family for at least two hundred years. (Since the image is copyrighted, you will have to visit the Yale web site for the picture.

Yale University sent the documentation for the Highboy to Winterthur Library in Wilmington, Delaware, where it has been safely preserved.  Included was a letter penned by Helen F. (Freeman) Grant, from which we learn the provenance of the Highboy.  Helen describes how her great grandmother, Sarah Day, used the chest as her original housekeeping furniture, and then gave it to her daughter Abigail Day, whom Helen calls “Aunt Nabby.”  It was Abigail who in turn gave the piece to Helen, and in 1910 Helen entrusted the cherished family heirloom to her cousin, Elsie (Day) Hansen.  Helen’s letter describing the history of the Highboy and its provenance is transcribed in its entirety below:

Manchester Maine Aug 13, 1911

My Dear Elsie [illegible]

I received a nice long letter date June 1st from you, and should have answered directly but for my negligence – a great fault of mine!

Was glad you had found the Old “High Case of Drawers” as our old people used to call it and hope they are now all dressed anew and gracing or furnishing your Dining room; I would love to see them.  I miss their familiar presence have not yet got anything to take their place.  I was sorry you found them so much an article of expense to move to your home.  Mabel’s did not cost her as much and were considered more valuable wood.  However, yours, I liked better.

I did not place any record of the date when or by whom made as you wished me to do – but will prepare a copy for you to now place inside some drawer as on back, one of great grandmother Sarah Day’s brother, was a “Cabinet Maker.”  (Also an Uncle of hers) and I always heard the old aunts say “Uncle Aaron” made the drawers.  I think their mother’s brother but am not positive.  However they must be considerable more than a hundred years old as the drawers were part of her original housekeeping furniture while in “Old Ipswich Mass.”

These drawers were presented to me by our great Aunt Abigail or “Aunt Nabby” Day a sister of my grandfather Aaron Day and your great grandfather Francis Day.  She receiving them directly from her mother (great grandmother Sarah Day).  I have a chair (one of Capt. David Days, who lived in Hallowell (brother of great grandmother Sarah, whose furniture came from same source, and same make given me by a friend for wedding present.)

However I will look up papers and find dates which can place the building of Highboy somewhere near correct.

Well Elsie you will think me rather stupid.  I am so and the other day while looking over some newspapers I found a letter written to you last Jan. and which I supposed was mailed and you had received months ago.  It’s old!  But I send it to you today that you may know I wrote you, it’s shameful!  I have aged in looks very much since you were here, my hair is now getting so white, hardly any gray hair, last year at the time time.  Am better of lameness but have lost my quick step now – when try to hasten I tremble so so move about rather slowly.  Have not been a bout much this summer, to church but once, to city 2 or 3 times was to brother Edwin’s 50th anniversary June 30th.  Have not been there since, only 2 ½ miles away.  Was over to Henrietta’s in July while Waldo & Mabel were there.  Mabel desired a visit from Will C. and I this month but I don’t feel like taking the trip a get so very tired, am going much and wish the summer could be longer.  Have enjoyed being out of doors most of time.  Had lots of very warm weather but such lovely shade in our yard could stay out much of time.

There is no “Place like Home” and the dear “Old Day Homestead” is an ideal home for me.  Wish you could stop in every day and enjoy awhile with me.

I think over & over again of the pleasure of your visit last summer you & Charles T and some of our pleasure trips, out on the lake with [Buk Farr?] for one, and the auto ride about Augusta also our call in the establishment of Buzzell & Weston of Weston disagreeableness.  So hateful in him; his father is living very low, with heart trouble (if alive) Dr. said yesterday was doubtful if he rallied from this attack.

I received a beautiful letter from your father other day, so descriptive of Montana the part he is visiting, and I am so glad they (J.B.P. & Sophie) can be out there this summer and enjoying visiting with all the children together.  So nice, and for you too, to have privilege of meeting there with them, when I wish to you want Chas T. to have a share with you too.  I think of him with love, also as with you, and hope to see him again sometime if life is spared.  Have got to be [illegible] of page, think have written enough will write your father soon. Now with great [illegible] and much love for you & Charles S. [illegible],

Helen F. Grant

Until recently this branch of the Day family had no knowledge of Helen F. (Freeman) Grant, or her mother, Harriet Luzetta (Day) Freeman.  Harriet was the sister of my 2nd great grandmother, Cynthia (Day) Bursley, and was raised by her father’s brother and sister, Nathaniel and Sarah.  Harriet clearly loved her aunts and uncles, and passed down information on the history of the family to her daughter, Helen.  In 1828 Harriet also commissioned the painting of a watercolor memorial of her grandfather, John Day.  (The piece was listed as part of an auction on, but the auctioneer is out of business.  Someday, perhaps, this watercolor or the original oil painting will surface!)

Many of the women in the Day family remained single, beginning in the late 18th century.  It appeared that Helen was going to continue this trend as well, but at the age of 55, married William C. Grant, 24 years her junior.  She continued to live on the “Old Day Homestead,” originally settled by her great grandparents, John Sarah (Day) Day.  She was surrounded by her family’s heritage, enjoying nature.  I think I would have been quite fond of Helen.

Bradstreets and Days: From Massachusetts to Minnesota, descendants wed

Descendants of Ipswich settlers Humphrey Bradstreet and Robert Day met in Minnesota and married in 1781

Descendants of Ipswich settlers Humphrey Bradstreet and Robert Day met in Minnesota and married in 1781

Lavina S. Bursley’s fifth great grandfather, Robert Day, was made a freeman in Ipswich in 1641.  In Robert’s will, he wrote:

“I give to my son John Day after my decease…ye parcell of land lying near the common fence gate w[hi]ch was part of Mr. Bradstreets his lot…”


Humphrey Bradstreet arrived in Ipswich in 1635.  From this will, we know that Humphrey Bradstreet not only knew Robert Day, but had also lived nearby and conducted land transactions with him.  He would never have guessed that two and half centuries later, his sixth great grandson, Albert J. Stanwood, would meet and marry Robert’s fifth great granddaughter, Lavina Bursley, in the small town of Elk River in Minnesota.

Albert and Lavina are my second great grand parents, and Ipswich, the home of both of their ancestors, one of my favorite places.


Me with the headstones of Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood’s great grandparents, Aaron and Sarah (Goodhue) Day

Ipswich Town Historian led a walking tour of the town in June 2015.  The Caldwell home was built by Lavina's Day ancestors.

Ipswich Town Historian led a walking tour of the town in June 2015. The Caldwell house was home to Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood’s ancestors.


The Bradstreet Farm was originally in the town of Ipswich but was later annexed to neighboring Rowley. This portion of Humphrey Bradstreet’s land remained in the family until 2007!


Books and more books: using Trello to track them

trello book board

Trello can be used track stuff, like your genealogy (or other) books

Have you ever found yourself at a genealogy conference wondering if you already own a book?  Ever gone a step further and purchased a title you already have on your shelf?  Argh – I have!  And I’ve been looking for a free method to manage my bookshelves so I don’t ever do it again.  Trello seems to meet this need.  (You can click here to view my actual Trello board see what’s in my personal genealogical library – at least what’s been loaded so far.  Note: this board was set to “public,” but in most instances you will set your boards to private unless you wish to share with others.)

It didn’t take long to upload these books.  My workflow:

1) Grab a pile of books from the shelves.

2) On my laptop, I entered the book title (easier on a traditional keyboard), and then under description, I added the author’s name.  (This allows one to search by author as well as title.)

3)  After downloading the Trello app, I then added the image of the books as follows:






After taking the photo, click “Use photo” in the bottom right corner of screen, or you have the option to retake.  Continue to exit back to the main screen (you do not need to wait while the photo processes and uploads), and shortly you will see the image added to the Trello card.


While Trello was designed as a project management tool, it can clearly be used for myriad other purposes.   It can be used to keep lists of whatever you might have need of, such as where you are on a given task.  (I read of one user who manages his inventory in his personal wine cellar using Trello – great idea!)  I’m also giving it a whirl for my endless “To Do” list for work and home projects, hoping it’s a system that I can stick with.  So far I think this app is a keeper.


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