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.
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
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
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
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. 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
Martha (Bursley) Orrock learns her sister, Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood is ill.
Albert Stanwood's team drowns in St. Louis river; son Melvin narrowly escapes.
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