Canadian immigrant puzzles census takers

Posted May 03, 2009, at 9:21 p.m.

Yes, it was a young pickle-lover in Minnesota who nudged me back on the search for Wilcoxes.

It was a brief, but hilarious, video of grandson Aidan Wilcox Saucier, who just turned a year old, sharing a tart pickle with his mom, my Minnesota daughter-in-law. Aidan’s giggles and Heather’s sweet smile, I’m sure, owe some of their special qualities to Heather’s grandmother Lee Wilcox Barthel.

We know those Wilcoxes came from New York state, but I haven’t traced them farther, yet.

I’ve also been trying to round up the New Brunswick Wilcox family that belongs to my Maine daughter-in-law, Amanda Wilcox Saucier, whose children I get to see giggle in person more frequently.

Her George Wilcox seems to have come to Maine in 1895, having been born in Southampton, York County, New Brunswick, to William and Mary Wilcox.

In 1881, William, 34, was in Southampton on the St. John River, and kind of across from Houlton and Island Falls, with Mary, 36, and children Sarah, 12; Martha, 10; George, 8; Edith, 6; Mary, 2; Pearl, 5 months; and Caroline Bull, 26, maybe a sister-in-law?

In 1891, William and Mary were enumerated with George, 17; Edith, 16; Nancy, 12; Feta, 10; Walter, 8; Marques, 1; and a woman named D—— Bull, 66. Danahae, maybe?

By 1900, William had made the big move to Woodland, up near Caribou.

He told the census taker that he was born in New Brunswick and had moved to Maine in 1895. With him were sons George, 28; and Marcus, 10; and a Maine-born wife, Martha, born in May 1859. Perhaps Mary had died.

The number of years William and Martha were married caused some confusion, apparently, because the census taker scribbled out the answer and it looks like he wrote in “14.”

But William was still married to Mary in 1891, according to the Canadian census-taker.

Then, in 1910, we find William Wilcox, 63, with housekeeper Mary Twist, 55, in his household. The census taker lists Mary as widowed, but not William.

Instead, the census taker counts William as M2, in his second marriage, and writes down that the second marriage has lasted 12 years. Martha was his second wife, and the previous census taker wrote that they had been married 14 years, although we question that.

The census taker also says that William Wilcox’s parents were Canadian, whereas he told the Canadian census takers that his parents were born in England.

So who was Mary Twist, William’s housekeeper? Despite a discrepancy in birth date of a few years, she may have been the mother of Delia Twist, who we know married William’s son George in 1905.

And as for those “extra” people in the household named Bull, it’s possible William’s first wife was Mary Bull.

And if housekeeper Mary Twist is who I think she was, her maiden name also was Mary Bull, though a different person. Whew!

I’ll keep looking for William’s parentage in Canada.

We do know the name of one of his brand-newest descendants!

Lilliana Claire Wilcox was born on April 21 in Bangor to Erica and Christopher Wilcox Jr. of Old Town. The pictures of her are charming, and I can’t wait to meet her in person.

Another young lady who is inspiring my genealogical pondering these days is Gabriela Nevaeh Breton, born on March 9 to Charlotte and Derek Breton of Old Town.

Derek says that having a new daughter to go along with big sister Jordan slows down a person’s genealogy adventures, but cousin Roxie is still thinking them up.

Did Bretons come to the middle part of Maine from the St. John Valley to the north, or did they come cross-country, as I think of it, more directly from Quebec? Or both?

One of the sources I plan to peruse at Maine State Library are two sets of books that offer lots of marriage records for those Quebec counties to the west of Maine.

Compiled by Brother Eloi Gerard Talbot, one set of books covers Beauce, Dorchester and Frontenac. The other covers Montmagny, L’Islet and Bellechasse.

I’ve found those books useful many times in looking for Quebec people who may have moved to Lewiston, Waterville, Augusta, Dexter.

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Bangor Museum and History Center has opportunities for volunteers at the Thomas A. Hill House on Union Street from June through September. The Hill House will reopen this season with costumed interpreters to lead tours and docents to greet visitors and discuss the history of the house, its past occupants and the Civil War collection.

The museum has one of the top Civil War collections in the Northeast.

To mark this year’s historic anniversaries, the exhibits will include furnishings of Hannibal Hamlin, Bangor resident and vice president under Abraham Lincoln; and President Lincoln memorabilia.

A half-day per week during the season is all a volunteer needs to give to make a difference. No background is required, as volunteers will receive training and background materials.

Call curator Dana Lippitt at 942-1900 or visit curator@bangormuseum.org to learn more about the volunteer program and Bangor history.

Next week: read all about a free Web site that may help with some of your Canadian ancestors.

Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or e-mail queries to familyti@bangordailynews.net.

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