1896 marriage record misleading about bride’s parentage

By Roxanne Moore Saucier, BDN Columnist
Posted Dec. 11, 2011, at 4:01 p.m.

There are two important aspects to genealogical journals that are well done. The first is that the articles are well-researched and well-resourced, so readers know where to go for original and-or additional information.

The second is that each article is written in such a way that the reader learns about the thought process that went into the author’s conclusions and then can apply it to his or her own research.

Examples of top-notch quarterlies include the New England Historical and Genealogical Register and The American Genealogist. My favorites also include The Maine Genealogist, published by the Maine Genealogical Society.

The November issue of The Maine Genealogist includes an enlightening article by Kathleen M. Kirby, “Josie, Wife of William R. Day of Maine.”

On her 1896 marriage record, Josie lists herself as the daughter of Joshua L. Witham and Charlotte (Lowell) of Winthrop, but the 1880 census lists no Josie or Josephine Witham. When William and Josie’s children get married, both Laura and Philip list their mother as Grace Witham on their marriage records.

Further research shows that Josie married a second time, to Zenas Arthur Merrill in 1923, as Grace Josephine Daye.

Grace Merrill died in 1930, at which time her daughter said that Grace’s parents were Robert Lee Hill and Abigail (Chase). I’m certainly confused by now.

Then Kirby finds Gracie J. Chase, 2, in an Augusta household with her mother Abby, in the 1880 Census. Abby marries Robert Hill in 1883, but he does not list Grace as a child on his Civil War pension application, and Kirby presumes that Hill was her stepfather, not her biological father. The Withams, it appears, were her adoptive family, at least unofficially.

Kirby’s work shows that even legal vital records need to be corroborated — or disproved.

Also in this issue of The Maine Genealogist are: “Indentured Servitude in Maine in the Early Nineteenth Century,” by Glenn D. Nasman; “Foreign Trade on Maine’s Ships: Researching Department of State Consular Quarterly Returns for Family and Local History, 1800-1850,” by Kenneth W. Heger; “Humphrey and Mehitable (Moody) White and the Minnesota Fever: Based on the Unpublished Papers of John Eldridge Frost,” by John. E. D’Anieri; “Emma Page Perkins and Abby N. Perkins of Maine,” by J. Clarke Bursley; and “Family Records of Palmyra, Somerset County, Maine (concluded),” by Sally Furber Nelson.

For a new or renewal membership to the Maine Genealogical Society, send $25 to MGS, Box 221, Farmington 04938. Add $5 if you want to have The Maine Genealogist and the quarterly newsletter mailed first class. Membership is $34 for Canadian residents and $39 for those residing outside the U.S. and Canada.

MGS membership is a wonderful Christmas gift for retired friends and relatives, and of course for yourself. Membership also entitles you to a discount on special publications that MGS undertakes in conjunction with Picton Press such as several vital records books for Maine towns. Visit pictonpress.com for information.

Theodora Weston, town historian and archivist of the Winterport Historical Association, has written “More Rivertown History,” which was published by the WHA in November. The book of more than 150 pages features some 30 historic photos of people, buildings and places in Winterport. Especially interesting are the sections on Ethel Baker, the Abbotts and the Treat family.

The volume updates the Ada Douglas Littlefield book, “An Old River Town,” published in 1907. Copies of “More Rivertown History” are available for $19.95 at the Winterport Town Office and the Winterport Library, and from Teddy Weston herself. For information, call 223-5556.

The Oakfield Historical Society 2012 Heritage Calendar is a 25th anniversary special edition, featuring many vintage photos of Bangor & Aroostook Railroad history. Engines 221 and 502 are both pictured.

There also are wonderful photos of the Oakfield Railroad Station, caboose 66, the museum and Railfan Day. My thanks to OHS President Art Collier for bringing me a calendar so I can see for myself how special it is.

Calendars are $10.50 each, plus $2 each for postage and handling. Send check for $12.50 per calendar to Oakfield Historical Society, P.O. Box 176, Oakfield 04763.

The calendar project is the primary fundraising endeavor for the Oakfield Historical Society. The Oakfield Railroad Museum continues to be recognized as one of the finest railroad museums in New England. For information, visit oakfieldmuseum.org.

For information on researching family history in Maine, see Genealogy Resources under Family Ties at bangordailynews.com/browse/family-ties. Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; or email familyti@bangordailynews.com.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/12/11/living/family-ties/1896-marriage-record-misleading-about-bride%e2%80%99s-parentage/ printed on December 17, 2014