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


Ancestry.com autosomal DNA test debunks Native American family legend

SiscoCommonAncestors
FINALLY! I’ve been very disappointed in autosomal DNA testing…that is, until this month. Ninety-eight percent of the “matches” have been so distant, or have not had enough work done on their family trees, that there has been no way to know how we connect, if, in fact, we do at all. Until now, the only benefit to the testing was confirming that I did not show any Native American heritage. Continue reading


The C-R-A-P in my tree (what’s hiding in YOURS?)

What trash is littering your tree??

What trash is littering your tree??

None of us were born professional genealogists. Some of us (such as moi!!) have NO aspirations to become one. However, I love genealogy. I am obsessed with it. I strive to do a good job. I cite my sources. I attend conferences. I read books. I listen to webinars. I apply what I learn. I’m long past the stage of simply wanting to get to the next generation; rather, I’d prefer to get to “know” my ancestors better by filling in the details of their lives with information on how they lived, what they did, what they ate, who they associated with. This is what makes genealogy fun.

A few weeks ago I began drafting a short biography of my great-great grandfather, Albert J. Stanwood. I’ve been working on this line for well over 20 years, and thought it would be fun to put together something that I could share with extended family members, starting with Albert, and working my way back to HIS fifth great grandfather and colonial ancestor, Philip Stainwood, the first of the name in the United States. It should be simple I thought, since I have the usual birth, marriage, death, and land records, old letters written from one family member to another, photographs and obituaries and other interesting facts for the family. I’ve taken several research trips to Massachusetts, Maine and Minnesota where the family had lived. Everything should be in order. A tweak here and a tweak there should be all that’s needed. Piece of cake, right? Continue reading


Betsey’s five patriotic grandsons and the Civil War

Headstone of Thomas H. Stanwood

Headstone of Thomas H. Stanwood, civil war veteran

Last Sunday was quite momentous.  I actually went to the movie theater.  This was only the third time in the last eight years I was willing to give up 3 hours of my time and fork over $15 to see a film, but Lincoln was sooooo worth it!  The civil war era is absolutely my favorite period in history, so that was an added bonus.

Leaving the theater, instead of thinking about the war as a historical event, I began to ponder how it affected my ancestors, their towns and communities, and their daily lives.  Mostly, how did it affect their families?

At the start of the Civil War in 1861, both the Union and Confederate sides began mobilizing troops.   Continue reading


Determining the parentage of Jacob Meiselman

Back Row (L-R) - Herman Benjamin "Ben" Meiselman, Isador "Isaac" Miselman, Solomon Augenlicht, Louis Meiselman, Jacob "Jack" Meiselman; Front Row (L-R); Clara (Kahn) Meiselman, wife of Ben; Rosa Brown, wife of Isaac; Lottie (Meiselman) Augenlicht; Michael Meiselman (son of Jacob and Pauline); Chajcie (AKA "Ida" or "Clara" [Hackmeyer/Hackmayer]) Meiselman, mother of Meisleman brothers in back row, and Pauline (Sternburg) Meiselman, wife of Jacob and mother of Michael.

Back Row (L-R) – Herman Benjamin “Ben” Meiselman, Isador “Isaac” Miselman, Solomon Augenlicht, Louis Meiselman, Jacob “Jack” Meiselman;Front Row (L-R); Clara (Kahn) Meiselman, wife of Ben; Rosa Brown, wife of Isaac; Lottie (Meiselman) Augenlicht; Michael Meiselman (son of Jacob and Pauline); Chajcie (AKA “Ida” or “Clara” [Hackmeyer/Hackmayer]) Meiselman, mother of Meisleman brothers in back row, and Pauline (Sternburg) Meiselman, wife of Jacob and mother of Michael.

I was recently asked to research the parentage of Jacob Meiselman, and have summarized the steps in this research below.  If you have additional information on the Meiselman family, or are also researching these lines, I hope to hear from you!

In order to identify our subject’s parents, we first start with known facts, working from the most present information to the past.  Family sources stated Jacob (also known as “John” or “Jack”) Meiselman had the following siblings:

  • Izzie of Boston, Massachusetts
  • Ben, who resided in North Carolina, and who had a son named Michael, who also resided in North Carolina.  Ben owned movie theaters.
  • Herman  (research showed that Herman Benjamin [who sometimes used the middle name Bernard] is the same person as Ben above)
  • Lottie Continue reading

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