Category Archives: Stanwood

Cordelia Stanwood, unmarried: a hidden gem in the family tree


Cordelia Stanwood, my favorite non-ancestor!

New genealogists often overlook the unmarried folks in their family trees.  After all, there are no offspring to track or trace.  However, these unmarried aunts and uncles, cousins and kinfolk, can have stories just as interesting as those of our ancestors, and just as deserving of being told and preserved for generations to come.   Just as important – often these unmarried relatives hold pieces to our genealogical puzzles, or have interesting information that make our own ancestors come alive.

Cordelia J. Stanwood is my third cousin, four times removed.  (It is her great grandfather’s headstone I’m posed next to in the post, Twenty Tips for Living with the Obsessed Genealogist.)  I never met Cordelia – she was born in Ellsworth, Maine on 1 August 1865, and died in 1958, several years before my own birth.  However I would have enjoyed meeting her.  One of the first female ornithologists in the U.S., she was also an author, a photographer, and….drum roll please…a genealogist.

From the web site, we have a wonderful summary of Cordelia’s many endeavors and talents:

Cordie marketed her bird life histories in highly scientific and popularized magazines from the Audubon Society’s Bird Lore, to Blue Bird, Nature and Culture, and House Beautiful, among others. In addition to focusing her literary and photojournalistic skills on birds and nature, Cordie also produced stories on antiques and architecture capturing an elegant, but fading piece of Maine’s old homes in the Ellsworth, Blue Hill, and the Castine area. In 1916, Cordie taught herself photography, and with a boxy, Eastman Kodak No.5 glass-plate camera dramatically documented her research.

It was Cordelia’s reputation for her work in ornithology that first drew me and my mother to this incredible woman.  Visiting Maine in 2004, we stopped at Birdsacre, the Stanwood Wildlife Sanctuary, to see where our cousin had lived, and to learn more about the work she had done.  Her passion for birds is best represented by her own beautiful writing:

When the thrush speaks to me, it seems as if the rags and tatters that enshroud my soul fall away and leave it naked. Then I must be simple and true or I cannot feel the message the small voice brings to me. When the thrush sings, I desire to live in a small, scrupulously neat camp, open to the sun and the wind and the voices of the birds. I would like to spend eternity thus, listening to the song of the thrush.

One cannot help but wonder about the genetic component of certain interests.  You see, my grandmother and my mother were both very passionate birders.  My son and I share the same love of our feathered friends, and love nothing more than to be outside amidst nature, listening to their song.  My house is surrounded by feeders of all types, and while my photography skills fall far short of Cordelia’s I love capturing pictures of the wildlife around our home.  Is this a Stanwood trait?  I would like to think so.  :-)

Photo of a red-bellied woodpecker at my feeder.  Have I inherited a love of photography and birds?

Photo of a red-bellied woodpecker at my feeder. Have I inherited a love of photography and birds?

Cordelia, the genealogist
In addition to spending hours in the woods, photographing birds, and then spending an equal amount of time writing about her subjects, Cordelia was also an active genealogist.  My family lines were greatly benefited by her collaboration with Ethel Stanwood Bolton, the author of The History of the Stanwood Family in America, published in 1899.


How lucky I am to have my own copy of this incredible, 1899 book to which Cordelia contributed!

Cordelia’s research and notes were shared with the author, expanding branches of the Stanwood family tree to Job Stanwood, our common ancestor who is famous for his participation in the Louisburg expedition, in which he lost his left arm.

Job  would be proud of Cordelia.  She told his story, and preserved it for all generations in an article she penned for the Lewiston Journal.  (Download complete, transcribed article article here.)  Interested in much more than dates, places and children, Cordelia gave me the gift of knowing my sixth great grandparents, Job and Martha (Bradstreet) Stanwood in her description of their lives and their marriage:

We judge that Job was a man of some education from the fact not only that he could write his name clearly but that he married a refined educated woman in spite of the fact that he was crippled by the loss of his left arm during the siege of Louisburg in 1745, when but eighteen years of age, and his health completely undermined thru the hardships he endured in Captain Samuel Davis’ Company in Colonel Hale’s regiment.  That he never fully recovered his health is attested by five petitions for pensions recorded in the Massachusetts archives.  These petitions were granted and it is from one of the petitions Job Stanwood’s signatures (sic) is copied.

His occupation in Gloucester after the return from the taking of Louisburg was that of Shoreman.  This is recorded in a deed at Salem, Mass.

Job Stanwood married Hannah Byles, September 14, 1749.  They had one son, Zebulon, who married, lived and died in Gloucester.  His will indicated that he was rather prosperous.  The present head of that branch of the family is Mr. James B. Stanwood of Cincinnati, Ohio.  Hannah Byles died at the age of twenty-four years.

For his second wife Job chose Martha Bradstreet.  They were married sometime before 1755.

Three children were born to them in Gloucester:  Hannah Byles, baptized November 25, 1755; Job, baptized November 5, 1758; married October 24, 1786, Lydia Gardner; Samuel, baptized October 11, 1761.

In the following year, Job and Martha disposed of their property in Gloucester.  Only recently among some old papers in the possession of the Historical Society of Portland, Maine, has a deed of Job’s next farm come to light.  This was discovered by Professor Willis Otis Sawtelle of Islesboro, Maine, who is writing a history of Mount Desert.  It seems that Professor Sawtelle’s own estate on Cranberry Isle is part of the old Job Stanwood farm.  The document was made out in about 1762…

Cordelia continues:

At Duck Brook on January 19, 17__ (illegible) to Job and Martha Bradstreet Stanwood was born a son, Benjamin Bradstreet, and in due time the home was gladdened by the coming of Humphrey Bradstreet, Enoch, Tichburn, David, Sarah, and Esther.

From the town records of Mount Desert we obtain one item that shows the standing of Job in the town.  The list of subscribers for the purchase of the town book discloses the names of the leading citizens at the time of organization.  Among them we find the name of Job Stanwood.

“March 30, 1776.
In district meeting assembled according to the fore-going warrant….
7.  Voted that a book be provided for records by subscription.”

“Mount Desert, March 30, 1776.
Subscriptions for a Town Book paid to James Richardson, Treasurer.
Capt. Ezra Young, 2s, 10d; Stephen Richardson, 1s;  Abraham Somes, 1s 4d; John Thomas, jr., 1s, 3d;  Josiah Black, 6d; Timothy Smallidge, 6d; Daniel Gott, 1s; Levi Higgins, 1s, 6d; Silas Parker, 1s; James Burril, 1s, 2d; Peter Gott, 1s.  Ezra Leland, 7d; Thomas Richardson, jr., 1s; Elisha Cousins, 1s, 6d; John Hamor, 1s; Ebenezer Salisburyq (sic), jr., 1s, 2d; John Thomas, 1s, 3d; Thomas Richardson, 1s, 4d; Job Stanwood, 1s, 6d; Joshua Norwood, 1s; Silas Bunker, 1s; Thomas Wasgatt, jr., 1s; Caleb Phinney, 1s; Nathan Scammon, 1s; Simeon Handley, 1s.

On the 27th day of July of this same year, a few days after the Declaration of Independence was signed, Job Stanwood died in his forty-ninth year.

Job Stanwood seems to have inherited the characteristics of his great-grandfather, Philip the 1st, to a greater degree than either his father or grandfather.  He was the intrepid soldier in the day of need and the good and dependable citizen.

Married Woman of Education
The fact the leads me to respect Job more than any other is his wisdom shown in the choice of an intelligent helpmate.  That Martha Bradstreet, the wife of Job Stanwood, was unusually well educated was a matter frequently referred to by her descendants.  My grandmother, Mrs. Solomon Stanwood, related that the neighbors described Mrs. Job Stanwood not only as a woman with an uncommonly good education but they declared that she even wrote poetry.

That Job appreciated these qualities in his wife is evident from the fact that he quoted her wise sayings and referred to her good judgment so frequently as to excite the smiles of the neighbors.  Many trifles point to a wise and sweet disposition in Martha.  For instance, I notice that the first daughter is named Hannah Byles for the young wife who died at the age of twenty-four years.

Another indication of her tact is seen in her naming the second child for Job himself.  Further wisdom may be observed in the naming of their third child, Samuel, for the boy who listened for the commands of the Lord.  Even then they were considering founding a new home in the wilderness, a man with one arm and wretched health, with a wife and family for to provide.  But I fancy that even the capable Martha had her moments of discouragement and that when she was far away from her old home at times her heart cried out for her people.  Undoubtedly it was at such times that she solaced herself by naming the one son Benjamin Bradstreet and another Humphrey Bradstreet.

Captain Benjamin Prosperous
Captain Benjamin Bradstreet Stanwood continued to live at Duck Brook where he was born.  Here he built one of the handsomest houses on the Island.  Near his house was his saw and grist mill.  He sailed in his vessels to Boston, New York and other ports.  His first wife, the mother of his children, was Margaretta Wasgatt.  She bore him four children.  Of these, John married Mary Gilly of Connecticut, and John’s daughter, Mary Ann, a woman of superior intellect and education, married Captain Edwin Hadlock of Cranberry isles and later of Bucksport, Maine.

Captain Ben’s second wife was Mrs. Zilpah L. (Phelps) Hotchkiss of New York.  Her son, John Hotchkiss, lived with them.  The daughters of John Hotchkiss created considerable ill-feeling among the young women of the island by going to New York with their father or grandfather and returning with “store bonnets.”  No one else on the island possessed them.  Undoubtedly, they also brought home store dresses and boots.  In those days the people of Mount Desert supplied most of their own needs.

Yes, Cordelia Stanwood died unmarried, and left no children to trace or to add to the family tree.  However, she left me, a precious gift – details on the personalities of my ancestors, Job and Martha (Bradstreet) Stanwood, and their son, Captain Benjamin Bradstreet Stanwood.  Without the careful interviews of her elders, and penning their stories for perpetuity, little details such as Martha’s poetry and Job’s praise for his intelligent wife, or Benjamin’s excursions and upsetting the neighbors with store-bought bonnets, would have been lost forever.  Cordelia Stanwood – definitely my favorite non-ancestor!


Find-A-Grave, more than just graves

The new copy of my great-great grandparents' gravestone, taken by a kind Find-A-Grave volunteer.

The new copy of my great-great grandparents’ gravestone, taken by a kind Find-A-Grave volunteer.

Good stuff starts with Find-A-Grave.  Okay, certainly not all good stuff, but lately it seems like LOTS of good stuff has made it’s way to me, complements of the wonderful people who post on Find-A-Grave.   Take, for example, the photo shown above, which awaited me in my email upon arising this morning.  Find-A-Grave volunteer Jaci happened to be at the Crystal Lake Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota, fulfilling a photo request for someone, when she took this picture of the headstone of my great-great grand parents, Albert and Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood.  She had no way of knowing that my yucky photo posted there was taken over twenty years ago, at sunset with a flash, later scanned with a low-res machine, and the original photo lost so I didn’t have any decent version of the precious gravestone.

Taken in 1991, this photo needed help!

Taken in 1991, this photo needed help!

What blows my mind even more is Crystal Lake Cemetery is HUGE, HUGE, HUGE!  What a kind person to be combing that large cemetery for someone, and then on top of it, to serendipitously stumble upon MY family’s gravestone that needed to be updated online.  Totally cool.

My Find-A-Grave stories don’t end there.  I have found the site to be one of the best for making cousin connections.  If it wasn’t for Find-A-Grave, and contacting the individual managing several Bursley memorials, I never would have met my fourth-cousin-once-removed, John.   It was largely John’s research that proved our family’s connection to Benjamin Bursley, a Revolutionary War patriot and a descendant of John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley, two of my Mayflower ancestors.

Most recently my Find-A-Grave connections put flesh on the bones of my Day ancestors.  It was another sort of serendipitous contact – Merrylyn had posted information on my Day family, and when I contacted her, I learned her great-great-great aunt’s sister, Elizabeth Skillings, married John Day, brother of my fourth great grandfather, Aaron Day.  We are both using the FAN principle, researching friends, associates and neighbors of our ancestors, and have had fun collaborating on the John Day/Elizabeth Skillings connection.  Merrylyn had previously obtained copies of some genealogical data on the Day family that had been submitted to the Starks (Maine) Historical Society where John and Elizabeth had lived.  The writer had spent time interviewing old relatives, and stories had passed on through the generations, with the following tidbit revealing the character and personality of John Day, Sr., father of John and Aaron:

“When the children were young they had two Grammy Days. John said his father told him to call his mother’s mother ‘Poverty Hill Grammy.’ He did and his mother spanked him!  Other family notes refer to his other Day grandmother as Pine Woods Grammy. Aaron Day from Waters History lived on what used to be Poverty Hill.  Jeremiah lived in the area today known as Pine Swamp. Hence the name Pine Woods Grammy.”

This simple little paragraph contains several bits of information:

  1. Another confirmation that John Day married his cousin, Sarah Day, daughter of Aaron Day and Sarah Goodhue.
  2. Aaron Day lived at Poverty Hill in Ipswich.
  3. John Day was a character.  I can imagine similar banter in my own household – my husband would make similar jokes and find it hysterical.  Me, not so much.  I can relate to my fifth great grandmother’s dismay at having her mama called Poverty Hill Grammy.  :-)
  4. John’s father Jeremiah Day lived at Pine Swamp, just outside Ipswich, Massachusetts, where he was born.

After learning about these Day family documents, I was able to obtain my own copy from the Starks Historical Society, but never would have known about them (or who to contact) if it wasn’t for my Find-A-Grave connection.  Yup, Find-A-Grave rocks.


Tuesday’s Tip: – You Can’t Live Without It!


Using, I was able to easily create this map on Google maps showing Benjamin Bursley’s residence in relation to those of his sons-in-law, Albert Stanwood and James Smallen.

Okay, it might not be as important as food, water, clothing or shelter, but if you are as into maps and land records as I am, then I’m sure you’ll agree – is one of those “must have” subscriptions.  Here’s why:

  • takes Arphax Publishing’s superb books, Family Maps series of Land Patent Books and the Texas Land Survey Maps, and allows you to search by surname, or browse by county, to find those who had land purchases indexed either in the U.S. Bureau of Land Management database or the Texas General Land Office database.
  • When viewing the digital map on, links are included to the individual land owner’s BLM Document, and <DRUM ROLL>…..a link to the tract of land in Google maps!!!!!
  • For under $60, less than the cost of two books, you can have a one-year subscription to access the maps and detail contained in all 500 books published to date. Continue reading

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

Madness Monday – Looking beyond the surface leads to missing Uncle Fred

Gravestone for Fred Stanwood and brother Bert Jerome

Gravestone for Fred Stanwood and brother Bert Jerome, Crystal Lake Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Uncle Fred.  Unmarried.  That’s the only thing my grandmother had to say about her mother’s older brother.  Quite odd, given that she had photos, stories and other interesting bits of history on her mother’s other five living siblings.   I didn’t think much of it as a new genealogist; after all, Fred didn’t have children.  What was there to research?  As I matured in my techniques and skills, it did not matter that Fred was without descendants who would later care about his life and history.  It mattered to me, as he was part of the family, and his life was important.

In the late 1980s, I snapped the photo above, taken at Crystal Lake Cemetery.  Benjamin Stanwood, brother of Fred and Bert J. Stanwood, purchased the plot for his unmarried brothers.  Bert was buried there; curiously, Fred was not.  Where did he go?  Where did he die?  No one seemed to know.

As the internet advanced and databases became available, more details on Fred’s life emerged.   Continue reading

Chronicling America chronicles the Stanwood family

Friday night I continued my search for the Stanwood surname on the Library of Congress’ web site, Chronicling America.  What an awesome site!  My great-great grandparents, Albert and Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood, appeared several times in the Princeton Journal – typically when visiting their daughter Georgianna (Stanwood) Cravens.  Here are some of my finds:

Benjamin Stanwood recovers from Typhoid

Albert & Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood visit daughter Georgianna, who is ill

Albert & Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood visit daughter Georgianna, who is ill. This is curious - as Lavina died in 1920, and Albert was residing in Minneapolis at the time.

Albert Stanwood takes A.M. Palon to St. Louis lumbering district

Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood ill

Martha (Bursley) Orrock learns her sister, Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood is ill.

Melvin Stanwood nearly drowns

Albert Stanwood's team drowns in St. Louis river; son Melvin narrowly escapes.

Family Planning and the 19th Century Family Tree

Susan (Stanwood) Clark and daughter Beatrice, 1906 – Floodwood, Minnesota

My great grandmother, Susan (Stanwood) Clark is shown above, holding my grandmother’s sister, Beatrice. My grandmother, Goldie (Simpson) Edwards, and Auntie Bea were the only surviving children born to Grandma Susie, who was herself one of eight children, seven of which lived to adulthood. Her father, Albert Stanwood, however, was one of only four children. Albert’s father, David, was from a family of six, born to Benjamin and Betsy (Wasgatt) Stanwood. Surprisingly, I’ve stumbled on a fair number of 19th century families in my genealogy (primarily in the Wasgatt lines) where only one or two children were born to the couple, while they were married many years. While not uncommon during current times, it certainly was not the norm in days past. It made me stop and ponder the reasons for these smaller family sizes. Infertility? Possibly. Choice? Maybe. But how? The Comstock law of 1873 declared birth control both obscene as well as illegal. So, what methods of birth control did our ancestors have available to them?

According to the CDC’s MMR publication Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999:  Family Planning, discussing birth control, counseling women about family planning or distributing contraception was illegal under state and federal laws.   Continue reading


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