May 28, 2018
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Getting birth certificates right is harder than it looks

By Roxanne Moore Saucier, BDN Columnist

Sure, I was curious about President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. As a genealogist, I wondered whether there was some big secret on the document I’d read and heard so much about in the last couple of years.

Come to find out, it looks like countless other certificates of the era that I’ve seen. It’s true I can’t spell the name of the hospital where he was born, Kapiolani, or the street in Honolulu, Kalanianaole Highway.

But the information on the certificate is fine by my standards — Barack Obama II born 7:24 p.m. Aug. 4, 1961, to Barack and (Stanley) Ann Dunham Obama, one born in Kenya and one in Kansas. The signatures of the mother, the doctor and the local registrar are obviously in different penmanship from one another, and different ink, for that matter.

Of course, it could be argued that I’m not the premiere expert on birth certificates, given my experience with the two I filled out in the 1970s.

For Son No. 1, I listed the father as Gaelen Saucier. Later on we actually obtained a birth certificate for my husband (who had used his baptism certificate for Joseph Gaelen to join the U.S. Army). It turns out his birth certificate lists him as Gealen Saucier.

By the time Son No. 2 came along, I had my genealogical wits about me. I listed his father as Gealen Saucier, even though my husband never spells it that way. I never stopped to think that now the two birth certificates don’t agree.

So I ask you, what is a mother to do? Which one of my sons should run for president? The case could be made that the first certificate has an error on it, but so does the second. And anyway, didn’t their father serve in the military under an alias? (I hope you can tell I’m trying to distract you from the fact that one of my own Civil War ancestors may have been a deserter.)

For the record, there were, indeed, questions in 2008 about U.S. Sen. John McCain’s having been born on Aug. 29, 1936, a military birth in Panama to two U.S. citizens, John and Roberta (Wright) McCain.

You didn’t hear about that? Funny thing how some people seem to make more noise than others for a longer period of time — and we, the media, help them.

By the way, I also pronounce Sen. McCain’s birth certificate “fine by my standards.”

The Penobscot County Genealogical Society will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, in the Lecture Hall at Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow St. In honor of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, the group will show a webinar on “U.S. Military Records: Civil War.”

A large family Bible which belonged to Hugh and Cecelia McManus of Bangor has turned up in Naperville, Ill. Charles J. Owens, who purchased it in 1966-1967 at a garage sale in Bangor, is willing to pass it on to a family member, relative or organization for the cost of mailing it. If you are interested, email

Information that Owens included in his message to the genealogical society, some of this transcribed from handwritten info in the Bible, includes:

Hugh F. McManus  b. Aug 1859, m. 1885, d. Oct. 26, 1916; Cecelia S. Royan or Rogan  b. Dec 1860, m. 1885, d. unknown. They were married at St. Mary Catholic Church.

Their children were: Alice K., born March 1887; Annabel, born December 1888; Mary E., born June 1891, d. June 1968; Francis J., born October 1892; Hugh H., born May 1894; Joseph B., born August 1896; Edward  born June 1898, d. Mar 1978.

Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, PO Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or email

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