Category Archives: Research Trips

The hunt for Days, and the importance of original records

I’m a homebody who prefers the company of my dogs and computer to travel. However, there is one thing that is sure to motivate me to hop on a plane, and that’s GENEALOGY! A week ago Thursday I flew to Maine to do some research on my Day family, and then met up with my husband in Boston the following Saturday. I had two goals for this trip:

1)   Find any additional documents that may list relationships for Cynthia Day’s parents, siblings, aunts and uncles; and

2)   Find the original church records that were used as the source of information for Aaron Day’s baptism, which was listed in the Vital Records of Ipswich, Massachusetts to the end of the Year 1849.

While I did find some early deeds, maps and other cool stuff, I bombed on goal #1. (I think I’ve pretty much gleaned all relevant records pertinent to Cynthia Day’s family and it’s time to start my proof argument for her parentage.)

All was not lost, however. I struck pay dirt big time on goal #2! Buried for several hours in the Ipswich, Massachusetts Archives, I was able to view the microfilmed church records for the First Church and the South Church. While not an original, these transcribed, hand-copied records are nearer to the original than the published vital records, which I highly suspected to be in error.

Below is the entry for Aaron Day’s baptism in the published Ipswich Vital Records. As you can see, it states he was the son of John and Eunice Day.

 

Aaron Day's baptism in the published Vital Records of Ipswich, Massachusetts

Aaron Day’s baptism in the published Vital Records of Ipswich, Massachusetts

This seemed highly unlikely. John Day and Eunice Burnum published marriage intentions on 5 May, 1722, more than 60 years before Aaron’s birth. The only John Day with a wife of childbearing age in Ipswich in 1793 when Aaron was baptized was married to his cousin, Sarah (Day) Day. Numerous other documents pointed to Sarah (Day) Day as Aaron’s mother, not Eunice. The transcribed, microfilmed church record is consistent with this – no mother was listed:

 

Microfilmed records from the South Church of Ipswich.

Microfilmed records from the South Church of Ipswich.

Where did the published Vital Records obtain the name of Eunice as Aaron’s mother? We will probably never know, but it seems likely that a tired transcriber simply added the mother’s name, having completed data entry for other children of the earlier couple. Unfortunately, as can be expected, multiple family trees published online and on paper erroneously list Aaron’s mother as the mysterious Eunice, wife of John Day. This exercise, however, underscores the importance of using original records, whenever possible.

After visiting the archives, my husband joined me in the hunt for Aaron’s maternal grandparents – Aaron Day and Sarah (Goodhue) Day. It was an overcast, rainy day, and the pictures turned out lovely. Cemeteries – some of my favorite places. Even more special when they contain an ancestor.  :-)

Headstone of Aaron Day who drowned in 1790.

Headstone of Aaron Day who drowned in 1790.

Highland Cemetery, the new section of the Old Burying Ground.

Highland Cemetery, the new section of the Old Burying Ground.

Old Burying Ground where Aaron Day and his wife Sarah (Goodhue) Day are buried

Old Burying Ground where Aaron Day and his wife Sarah (Goodhue) Day are buried


Mary Hill’s Legacy webinar “Land Records Solve Research Problems” really solved my research problem!

I’ve posted about some of my successes using land records previously, and how I was able to piece together the 18th century business relationships of my Wasgatt and Stanwood families who intermarried frequently on Mount Desert Island, Maine, by using Hancock county’s digitized land records.  (You can read my post here.)  Having dabbled in land records, I felt like I had a basic understanding of the info contained and how it could benefit my research.  However, I was still a bit intimidated by the terminology utilized in the records, so when I saw Legacy Family Tree’s webinar by Mary Hill entitled, “Land Records Solve Research Problems” earlier this summer, I decided to listen in.  (Actually, I ended up subscribing – their series of webinars is excellent!)

Mary did a superb job of explaining the various terms used in land records, the differences in assorted types of mortgage transactions, and how this info can help you in your family history.  Probably the most important tidbit I picked up was how records pertaining to multiple individuals (i.e., “et al”) are some of the most important records, as they may contain clues about relationships of the people listed and are often the most helpful in our research.  Armed with this knowledge, this past July while visiting the Penobscot County (Maine) Registry of Deeds I spent the bulk of the day happily researching the transfer of Benjamin Stanwood’s three lots located in Northern Woodville as they passed from hand to hand.  That evening, back at the hotel, I drew a diagram showing the names and dates of grantors/grantees, trying to see a pattern.  Benjamin often mortgaged the property, and the mortgages were frequently sold.  The property always ended up back in family hands (you can read here about finding my fourth cousin who currently resides on the property), but I wanted to try and connect each sale through the land records.  Some may have considered it a waste of time (why does it matter that that property was mortgaged with a sale to Hayford but mysteriously purchased back from Swett?) but I was determined to trace it’s passing from hand to hand whenever possible and headed back to the Registry of Deeds the next morning to try and find the missing link.  THANK GOODNESS I DID!!!

Deed referencing the late Benjamin Stanwood, dated 12 October 1860.

Deed referencing the late Benjamin Stanwood, dated 12 October 1860.

That one missing deed, showing the land was sold by Timothy Hayford to C.T. Bragg and William Hayford, includes a very important statement:

…being the same lots deeded to me by Benjamin Stanwood, late of said township, deceased… Continue reading


Sleuthing, serendipity and magical Maine maps!

A portion of the 1859 map of Penobscot county, Maine

A portion of the 1859 map of Penobscot county, Maine

I love maps. They often hold the keys to learning more about our ancestors. They place these people in context with those with whom they lived. They show a community, give us an idea of of who their friends, family and associates were. They simply make it all “click” for me, connecting the dots in a way nothing else does. Finding those maps, however, can be exceptionally challenging.

Consequently, I’ve spent the better part of the last nine years looking for maps of early Penobscot county, Maine. Specifically, I wanted to see where the families lived who resided in the towns of Chester and West Indian Township (now known as Woodville, and formerly Township No. 2 Indian Purchase).  Imagine my delight a few weeks ago when I finally found the online images for the 1859 map above, clearly indicating my great-great-great-great grandfather, Benjamin Stanwood, lived in North Woodville, just south of the Pattagumpus stream. Continue reading


Excel, Evernote, RootsMagic, and my research log

Excel spreadsheet for New Hampshire – a combined planning tool and research log

After my first day at the Family History Library, I realized I need a major over-haul of my research log.     For quite a while now, I’ve used Excel to plan what materials to research at a repository and updated the spreadsheet with what I’d located.  However, I didn’t have a really good way of incorporating that into a research log.

However, I think I’ve come up with a system that will work and is relatively simple to use.   Continue reading


In which I confess my sins – Family History Library fun!

FHL

The Family History Library

I feel like a kid that ditched church to go fishing.

I was bad.

I was VERY bad!

Here I am in Salt Lake City, registered for the RootsTech conference, but spent 80% of my time at…..DRUM ROLL please….THE FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The library has been a place I’ve sought to visit for the last 25 years.  After checking in to my hotel on Wednesday, I made a beeline for the library and oriented myself to the various floors and holdings.  Thankfully, it’s very user friendly and organized well.  I made quite a few finds, but most importantly, found a book, written in 1991, on the Westcoat/Wescoat/Westcott/Wescott/Wasgatt family.  There wasn’t a ton of new info on my own line, but I did get a few new hints to follow up on.   In addition, I was able to review dozens of rolls of microfilm and books, and have completely overhauled how I’m handling my research log.  (See my post about Excel, Evernote and Roots Magic here.)

Back to RootsTech…the sessions I did go to were very good.  I will leave the details to the official bloggers who’ve done a phenomenal job covering the event.  The energy and amount of interest in genealogy was awesome.  Oh yes…also had to make my purchases in the Exhibit Hall.

Here’s my loot:

My RootsTech loot

Books on researching, books on writing, and webinars by Thomas MacEntee, Marian Pierre-Louis, and Karen Clifford

I’m hoping to listen to Karen Clifford’s webinar, “Organizing For Success” at the airport on my way home tomorrow.  While I may not have had as much time as I’d planned at the conference, my time here in SLC was certainly well spent!


Evernote and everyday genealogy

I hate paper.

Paper requires time to organize.

Drawers to hold it.

Folders to straighten it.

Paper is messy.

Paper cannot be stored in the “cloud.”

Paper is inefficient.

I have a LOT of paper!

Having been active in researching my family history over the last twenty years, I’ve amassed a wealth of paper.  In the “olden days,” a trip to the library typically resulted in paper.  I’d come home and dutifully file photocopies of book pages and research in folders that were created for each couple in my family.  I had one for my grand parents, another for their parents, another for their siblings, etc., etc., etc.   My home office is equipped with two filing cabinets to hold twenty years worth of research.  However,  thanks to Evernote, bit by bit, the papers in those cabinets are slowly decreasing. Continue reading


I’m hooooooooome – here in Bar Harbor!

Almost there – Fort Knox, on the way to Bar Harbor

My grandmother died in 2004, and to honor her and work on her family history, my mother and I decided to take a trip to Maine. With our hotel in Bangor, we decided to take a day trip to Bar Harbor, where our ancestor Job Stanwood was an early settler. As we approached Bar Harbor we both exclaimed, “we’re HOME!” We canceled our Bangor hotel and stayed the rest of our trip in Bar Harbor. The next year I brought Ed to see my “home away from home,” and have always wished I could live here.

This afternoon we made the six plus hour trip from Rowley, MA to Bar Harbor, and I was just as enthralled with the view as I was the first time Mom and I visited in 2004. I haven’t been back since my mom died five years ago, so it was a bit emotional coming to our special place without her, but it feels sooooooo good to be HOME! Continue reading


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