Making the case: proof argument for parentage of Lavina (Spencer) Bursley

Lavina (Spencer) Bursley[1] was born about 1780 in Provincetown, Barnstable County, Massachusetts.[2]  The town was so small that at the time of 1790 census only one page was used to enumerate the town’s 454 inhabitants.  Included on the census was Abigail Spencer, head of household, with one male under 16 years of age, two males 16 years and over, and three females.[3]  This paper will demonstrate that Lavina Spencer was the daughter of Abigail (___) Spencer and her husband, Simeon Spencer.

Supporting Conclusion #1 – Lavina Spencer was born in or near Provincetown

Lavina Spencer was the wife of Lemuel Bursley.  The couple’s daughter, Elizabeth G. (Bursley) Bailey died in Boston, Suffolk Co., Massachusetts,[4] where the place of birth for both parents was recorded in the death register.  The informant reported Lavina’s place of birth as Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Supporting Conclusion #2 – Lavina Spencer married in Provincetown

Lemuel Bursley and Lavina Spencer married in Provincetown, Massachusetts, 4 February 1797, a fact supported by several documents.  First, the marriage was recorded in the Provincetown records.[5]  Lemuel also reported his marriage to King Hiram’s Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, in Cape Cod, providing the date “1797-2-4.”[6]  Lastly, Lavina verified her marriage to Lemuel Bursley when making an application for bounty land based on Lemuel’s service in the War of 1812, stating “she was married to sd Lemuel Bursley at Provincetown in the year 1797 by one Samuel Parker Clergyman.”[7]


Lavina’s signed declaration, stating she was married in Provincetown in 1797 by Samuel Parker, Clergyman.

Supporting Conclusion #3 – only one Spencer family with children in or near Provincetown Continue reading


What do we really know?

Census-bureau

What do we really know about our ancestors?  How much of their lives are missing from our knowledge, simply because of location?

I’m a good example.  Born and raised in California, I will appear there on all five censuses from 1970 to 2010.  In 2020, however, I will be found in Texas.  Any of my descendants researching me strictly using census data would assume that I moved from California to Texas, and they will be WRONG!  (In 2012, I moved to Delaware, and in six weeks will be heading south to be closer to family.)

Think of all the things that happen in ten years – births, marriages, deaths, divorces.  When we jump to conclusions about an ancestors whereabouts, we will miss crucial details about their life’s events.  My own relocations have made me re-examine some of my assumptions about my wandering ancestors, and I need to broaden the scope of my search into additional localities to crumble some brick walls.


Women in my tree: great grandmother Annabelle (Boyd) Rogers

Women seem to fade into the background of our family trees, their lives and stories so quickly forgotten.  Researching my father’s family, I recently realized I had asked him very few questions about his beloved grandmother, Annabelle (Boyd) Rogers, who, with Dad’s grandfather Joseph Rogers, raised my Dad and legally adopted him.

Annabelle, holding my Dad, Wayne Rogers, next to husband Joseph

Annabelle was a sweet, kind woman who was a “mail order bride.”  She and Joseph married about 1918, and in 1919 their first child, Floyd, was born.  He was followed by Bessie, in 1921, and Josie, Dad’s biological mother, in 1924.  The night Josie went into labor with Dad was quite stormy and the doctor was unable to make the trip over dirt roads to assist the young mother give birth.  Joseph assumed the role of doctor and delivered his grandson, Wayne.

Joseph and Annabelle were wonderful parents to Dad.  While they didn’t have much money, they made sure he had what he needed.  He was given the typical toys little boys crave, including bicycles and toy guns and other playthings.  One of Dad’s favorite things, however, was not a toy:  he enjoyed visiting the nursery with his mother and gardening. It was his love of the nursery that caused Annabelle some grief early one morning. Continue reading


Creating a research log with Ninox Database

Ninox is an awesome application for MacOS and iOS that allows the user to create custom, relational databases.  You can store your database in iCloud, and access from your iPhone or iPad.  It’s super easy and user friendly, and I originally started tinkering with it to better track the archival boxes and files which contained original family photos.  It then occurred to me that it could replace my research logs, which had migrated from Evernote to simple Word documents.  That was fine for a summary of repository research, but was still limited.

I’m slowly adding people to the database as I have research notes to add.

My research log has five linked tables – goals, people, source/repository, record type, and results, as shown on the left handed navigation bar in the picture above.

The database was designed to focus on a research goal, and all entries relate to that specific goal.

Research Goals

To see research for a specific person, simply go to the People tab and select the focus individual:

Person view

 

Click on research goal to see details of previous searches.

Aaron has two research goals – occupation and land ownership

Click on the specific result entry to see details, including any pertinent, attached documents.

The “Results” tab allows attachment of relevant documents or images.

Shown above is the 1838 Piscataquis County, Maine grantee index attached to the research results entry.

The Ninox database was not difficult to make, and it was super easy to sync my iPad to it as well.  It’s easy to filter results to see where I’ve already searched, and the primary search field will locate matching text in a text field.  For instance, when I search for the word “deed,” I’m presented with a list of items where the word appears.  It does an all text search, and will even find names or other words that are simple comments in a notes field.

The Find option searches text in all data fields, even comments and notes.

I really couldn’t be more pleased with how this turned out, and was especially amazed how simple it was to do.  Best 0f all, unlike online research logs, there’s no monthly or annual subscription to pay, but yet it’s still cloud based!  The only negative I’ve found is there is very little in the way of manuals or user help, but I didn’t really have too many issues, as it is quite intuitive and easy to use.  For $34.99, it was quite a deal!

 


Why I love Family Tree Maker 2017

Thankfully there are many genealogy database programs to choose from, given one “size” (or application) does not fit all.  Additionally, there is no “right” program to use.  Software itself will not make you a better genealogist.  It’s the consistent use of the software – and being consistent in how you enter data – that WILL make a huge difference as you work on your genealogy.

Finding the right fit can take some time.  And even when you have a program you like, you may decide to play around with something new.  Such was the case when I decided to find a native Mac application after having used RootsMagic for many years.  I made a brief switch to Reunion 11 in 2015, but found that the software was too limited for what I wanted.  Instead, about 18 months ago I decided to climb on board with Family Tree Maker, and couldn’t be happier.  Now that FTM 2017 is out, I decided to highlight the features I love the most.

Facts, Sources and Media

The feature that I loved most about RootsMagic was being able to see if a fact was sourced or not, and if it had associated media. However, even better than that is Family Tree Maker’s ability to show how many source citations are associated with a fact, in addition to the number of linked media items.

facts

The number of sources, attached media and notes are visible for each fact in the Person view.

A HUGE advantage offered by FTM is that the media can be attached directly to the source citation itself, leaving no question about which source citation the media item belongs to when multiple source citations are linked to the fact.  A thumbnail of the media item is also visible on the source citation as well. Continue reading


Maine’s digital records explode at FamilySearch

If you were like me and initially stunned and short of breath upon hearing that FamilySearch was ending microfilm rental on August 31st, take heart!  Yes, rental is ending, but it is being replaced with something far better – DIGITAL RECORDS!  Best of all many of these records, including those found in my itty bitty, small Maine towns, are online NOW!

Yes, I spent the bulk of last evening perusing the card catalog at FamilySearch, which is where you will find these new records located.

Go the card catalog to find newly digitized records.

FamilySearch announced they are uploading browsable, digital versions of microfilmed records at the speed of about 1,500 per day, starting with films that have been requested for rental within the last five years.  In the last two weeks, they’ve uploaded the microfilms for several of the small Maine towns I’m researching, as well as several for Ipswich, Massachusetts, another area where I’ve been focusing my efforts.  Those for most of the Maine towns are available to view at home, but unfortunately Ipswich’s records do require I go to the Family History Center or an affiliate library to view.  That’s okay – at least I can see them TODAY!

Here’s a list of the Maine vital records online for the towns I’ve been working on, and a link to their collections on FamilySearch:

Franklin County:

Kennebec county:

Piscataquis County

Somerset County

Waldo County

I’m sure if you check for your areas of interest, they are likely online as well, or will be shortly.  (I’m still waiting for Manchester, Kennebec County, Maine.)  Of course, these digital images are not indexed, but hey – neither were the microfilm!  Now I can leisurely go through these records and carefully view each page to make sure there aren’t people or key pieces of information I’d missed while trying to get through the rolls at the Family History Center previously.  Another huge bonus is now I will have much better images to save to my database, and they are far superior to what I’d snapped with my camera off the microfilm reader!

Digital image of marriage of Aaron Daye and Patty Tibets in Embden, Maine

Below is the copy I’d photographed from the microfilm reader:

Same image, but photographed off the microfilm reader.

Yup, this gal is a happy camper!  Thank you FamilySearch!


Seek and ye shall find….the missing children of Benjamin and Cynthia (Day) Bursley

My great, great grandmother, Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood, was the sixth child born to Benajamin and Cynthia (Day) Bursley.  Pictured with her above are her living siblings, beginning with John Morris Bursley (left), Susan (Bursley) Schelefoo Smallen, Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood, and Martha (Bursley) Orrock.  Another brother, Aaron Day Bursley, lived to adulthood, but photos of him have not yet been identified.

Grandma Lavina’s three oldest siblings, Julia, Arlette and Benjamin Jr., have always been a bit of a mystery.  Their births were recorded in the Lagrange, Penobscot County, Maine town records.

BURSLEY_Julia_b1835_birth_001

Julia A. Bursley Born Nov 18th 1835

BURSLEY_Benjamin_b1839_birth_001

Benjamin Bursley Jr Born Sep 16th 1839

BURSLEY_Arlette

Arlette Bursley, born Oct 5th 1837

However, none of the older children were listed on the 1850 census:

1850 census

Benj Bursly with Cynthia, John W., Susan H. and Lorina (sic)

Those of us researching the Bursley family have always wondered what happened to Julia, Arlette and little Ben Jr., but for years we were left to ponder.  That is, until GenealogyBank added issues of the Gospel Banner to their database.

BURSLEY_Benjamin_b1810_death_announcement_children

The Gospel Banner reprinted the above from the Bangor Democrat, and  recorded the deaths of young Arlette, Julia and Benjamin Jr., who died with ten days of eachother.

Died in this city, August 22d, Arlette Bursley aged 11 years 10 months; August 29th, Julia Augusta Bursley aged 13 years 9 months; and August 31st, Benjamin Bursley aged 10 years, children of Benjamin and Cynthia S. Bursley.  Thus within a very brief time these parents have been called to part with their three elder children, cut down by the same disease, the scarlet-fever, and are bowed down in affliction and sorrow.  The eldest, a daughter, was a most excellent girl, kind and faithful to her trusts and duties wherever she was placed.  Deeply will their parents and especially her mother mourn her loss, and many hearts will sympathize with her in her grief.  God sustain them in this hour! – Bangor Democrat.

Scarlett fever occurs as the result of an infection with a group A Streptococcus bacteria, and it is most often spread by those who cough and sneeze. Children, aged 5 to 15 years, are the  most often afflicted; however, only a small number of those with group A Strep infections go on to develop Scarlett fever.  The first signs and symptoms of an infection include a sore throat, fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes and red or scarlet-colored rash.

Unfortunately, there were no antibiotics when Julia, Arlette and little Ben were diagnosed with “the scarlett-fever.”  Those life-saving medicines were not be discovered for another century.  Had they had the advantage of penicillin, photos of Julia, Arlette and Ben could have been added with their siblings above.