Autosomal DNA. One of the most powerful tools in the genealogist’s toolbox! No, it will never, ever replace the elbow grease required in completing an accurate family tree (nor would I want it to – it would spoil the fun of the hunt!), but used correctly, the results are incredible!
I’ve previously shared how I used autosomal DNA to determine the parents my third great grandmother, Cynthia Day. (You can read the post here.) No, the DNA itself didn’t tell me who they were, but cousin connections put me on the right path. I can now state with confidence that Cynthia’s parents were Aaron Day and his wife, Martha.
As we all know, one answered question often leads to several more inquiries. So now: who is Martha? While I was hopeful that maybe one day DNA would provide clues to that answer, I put the question on the shelf and didn’t pursue it further. I figured it would be a puzzle to be solved some time in the future. However, the future came considerably faster than anticipated! Thanks to an email from another cousin connection on FamilyTreeDNA, I was given a few hints.
First, some background info. What was known about Martha was minimal:
- Her headstone read, “Martha, wife of Aaron Day, died Feb. 16, 1844, AE 66.” Short and sweet. However, from this, we know Martha was born about 1778.i
- Aaron and Martha’s first three children (Nathaniel, John and Sarah) were born in Starks, Somerset County, Maine, where Aaron, was also enumerated on the 1810 census.ii It seemed likely that Martha lived and married in that region.
I searched through a dozen rolls of microfilm, starting with Starks and working outward, hoping to find the marriage record of Aaron and Martha. My search was in vain, but I became very, very familiar with families that lived in the locations around them, and one name in particular stuck with me: BUMPS/BUMPAS.
So it was with considerable interest that I learned of a FamilyTreeDNA match who had a BUMPS in her family tree. Even more interesting, her ancestor, Mary (Tibbetts) Bumps named a son, AARON DAY Bumps. Bingo.
As exciting as this find was, we know that DNA does not replace a paper trail. We still need a healthy dose of elbow grease (and many hours of lost sleep!) to verify whether or not our hunch is correct. After all, our suspected DNA connection may be in a different branch of the family tree.
THE PAPER TRAIL
Here is the evidence gleaned that supports my conclusion: Martha Tibbetts was the daughter of Rev. Nathaniel Tibbetts and his wife, Elizabeth Alley.
- Nathaniel Tibbetts and his family moved from Boothbay, Maine to New Sharon about 1790. iii,iv He was the only male enumerated in that town in 1800 and 1810. v,vi New Sharon is about nine miles south of Starks, where Aaron and Martha Day’s children were born.
- May (Tibbetts) Jarvis, in “Henry Tibbetts of Dover, New Hampshire and some of his descendants” (Vol. I) writes of Nathaniel, “He was a minister and settled in New Sharon, Maine, on a farm on ‘Hampshire Hill’, which is still known as ‘Tibbetts farm’ locally…He died here at his home farm near New Sharon, Me Sept. 23, 1845, aged 93 ½ years.”vii
- Jarvis included in the list of Nathaniel’s children a daughter, Martha, born, 24 Sept. 1777, citing a family Bible then (1937) in the possession of Nathaniel’s descendants as the source of birth information. Jarvis states Martha “married a Mr. Day.”
- Recorded in the Embden, Somerset County, Maine town records is the 9 September 1806 marriage of “Patty Tibbets” of New Sharon to “Aaron Daye.”viii (Patty is a known nickname for “Martha”.)ix Embden is 18 miles north of Starks.
The map below shows the locations of the Days and Tibbetts, along with those of the family’s friends, associates and neighbors (FAN Club).
Martha Tibbetts had several sisters, all of whom married local men. As expected in a small region, the families intermarried and clearly had close relationships. The chart below shows these connections in relationship to Aaron and Martha’s family.
- Eunice Tibbetts, sister of Martha, married John P. Spencer. The couple lived near Aaron Day:
- William Hatch’s History of the town of Industry states John Spencer lived “further east, in the town of Stark [sic]…in a log-house just across the Lemon Stream bridge.”x
- The March 1814 Starks town records state the Aaron Day lived near West’s Mills at Lemon Stream, neighboring Thomas Lovejoy.xi
- On the 1830 census, John P. Spencer is enumerated in Starks, just two houses past Thomas Lovejoy.xii
- As demonstrated in the chart above, John P. Spencer’s presumed sister, Lavina Spencer, married Lemuel Bursley. Their son, Benjamin Bursley, married Cynthia, daughter of Aaron Day and his wife Martha.xiii
- Mary Tibbetts, Martha’s younger sister, married Asa W. Bumps.xiv
- Asa W. Bumps was listed, along with Aaron Day, as one of the first taxpayers of the town of Milo, Maine, to which Aaron had moved by 1823.xv
- Asa W. and Mary (Tibbetts) Bumps named their son, Aaron DAY Bumps, presumably after Mary’s brother –in-law, Aaron Day, husband of Martha.xvi
- Jesse L. Tibbetts, Martha’s youngest brother, had several sons who moved to Minnesota. Among them was James W. Tibbetts, who settled with his brothers in the same region as Martha’s daughter, Cynthia (Day) Bursley.xvii
- Benjamin Bursley, Cynthia’s husband, stayed with J.W. Tibbetts in 1854, presumably James W. Tibbetts.xviii
- Aaron and Martha’s grandson, Francis Day (son of Nathaniel Day), living in Crow Wing County, Minnesota, attested to the 1851 marriage of James W. Tibbetts to his wife Hannah:xix
I hereby certify that I have known the above named James W. Tibbetts and Hannah M. Tibbetts ever since they were of marriageable age and know of their marriage in Sep 1851 at Milo, Maine, being in said town but was not present at the wedding. And I know of their leaving for the west immediately after being married…
Pension files – what a great source of information! The affidavit of Francis Day above is another piece of solid evidence that the Day and Tibbetts families were related. While I have many more rolls of microfilm on order to obtain original copies of the information presented here, I’m confident that Martha’s family has been found.
Alex Haley admonished:
In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage – to know who we are and where we came from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hallow yearning.
I think that our ancestors, on the other side, also yearn – they yearn to be found. Perhaps Martha is resting a bit more easily these days.
Special note of thanks:
- David Weymouth, my initial “Day” DNA connection, and who generously shared with me several year’s worth of research into the Day family line.
- Sherece Lamke, who also gave me invaluable information on our branch of the Minnesota Days, connecting back to Robert Day of Ipswich. (And who is a great collaborator, one I hope to meet soon in person!)
- John Bursley, an excellent researcher, who freely shared his wealth of data on the Bursley and Spencer lines.
- James Christopherson, who made the initial Bursley/Day connection.
i. Martha, wife of Aaron Day, Upper Ferry Cemetery, Milo, Piscataquis, Maine (GPS Latitude: 45.24231, Longitude: -68.89413); Original photo taken and held by Sherece Lamke, provided via email 27 Feb 2014.
ii. 1810, Somerset County, Maine, Starks, 539, Aaron Day; NARA microfilm publication M252, 12.
iii. 1790 U.S. Census, Lincoln County, Maine, population schedule, Unity Plantation, 10, Nathaniel Tibbetts; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com. : downloaded 12 February 2015); NARA microfilm publication M637, 12 rolls.
iv. Fold3, “Revolutionary War Pension,” database, Fold3, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com: image downloaded 10 February 2015), Nathaniel Tibbets pension application with declaration dated 28 Aug 1832; citing NARA, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files.
v. Nathaniel Tibbetts, 1800 Population, Kennebec County, Maine, New Sharon, 52; National Archives micropublication M32, M32-7.
vi. “Nathaniel Tibbits”, 1810 US Census, Kennebec County, Maine, New Sharon, 877; National Archives micropublication M252, 11.
vii. Jarvis, May Tibbetts. Henry Tibbetts of Dover, New Hampshire, and some of his descendants. Privately published, 1937. Copy held by Daughters of the American Revolution Library, Washington, D.C.
viii. Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, “Maine Marriages, 1771-1907,” database, Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org: database online 11 February 2015), Aaron Daye and Patty Tibets m. 9 Sep 1806; citing Index includes the IGI, digital copies of original records, and compiled records. FHL digital and microfilm copies. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
ix. Powell, Kimberly. “Common Nicknames Used By Our Ancestors – Nicknames & Genealogy.” Web log post. Genealogy. About.com, n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <http://genealogy.about.com/library/bl_nicknames.htm>
x. Hatch, William C. A History of the Town of Industry, Franklin County, Maine, from the Earliest Settlement in 1787 down to the Present Time by William Collins Hatch A History of the Town of Industry, Franklin County, Maine, from the Earliest Settlement in 1787 down to the Present Time. Farmington: Press of Knowlton, McLeary, 1893. Images online. https://archive.org/stream/historyoftownofi00hatc#page/n3/mode/2up.
xi. Cheryl W. Patten, “Days in Starks and Industry Maine,” attached, transcribed town records for Starks, Maine from [e-mail for private use] ([street address for private use], Smithfield, Maine), to Lauren Rogers Mahieu, 28 March 2014.
xii. 1830 U.S., Somerset County, Maine, Starks, 119, John P. Spencer; NARA microfilm publication M19, 51.
xiii. Mahieu, Lauren Rogers. “December 5, 2014 Evidence-based Reasoning Reveals the Parents of Cynthia (Day) Bursley.” Web log post. GeneJourneys. N.p., 5 Dec. 2014. Web. <http://www.genejourneys.com>.
xiv. FamilySearch.org, “Maine, Marriages, 1771-1907,” database, FamilySearch.org, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org: database online 8 February 2015), Asa W. Bumps m. Mary Tibbetts 8 November 1813; citing Thorndike, Waldo, Maine, United States, reference ; FHL microfilm 12,265.
xv. Milo Historical Society, Milo Historical Society, Milo Historical Society Early History (http://www.milohistorical.org/history/west.php : accessed 20 February 2014), Aaron Day, 1823 tax payer in Milo.
xvi. Find A Grave, Find A Grave, online database (www.findagrave.com : database online 15 February 2015), Aaron Day Bursley, 1827-1898.
xvii. 1850 U.S. Census, Benton County, Minnesota Territory, population schedule, Sauk Rapis, 4B, Nathaniel James W. and Joshua A. Tibbets; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 February 2015); NARA.
xviii. John Bursley writes for Princeton Union: “My father, Benjamin Bursley, came to Minnesota on November 18, 1854, arriving at the home of J.W. Tibbetts, one mile north of what is now Bailey’s station.” Library of Congress, “Chronicling America,” database, Library of Congress, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov: images online 19 January 2013), John M. Bursley, “Slain by Redskins”; citing Minnesota Historical Society; Saint Paul, MN.
xix. Deposition of Francis Day, 24 March 1906. Hannah Tibbetts, widow’s pension application no. 839,039, certificate no. 624,905; service of James W. Tibbetts (Private, Co. A, 8th Reg’t Minn. Inf., Civil War); Case Files of Approved Pension Applications…, 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.