So if we know the town or city of residence, the street address and the year the family lived there, why do we need to bother with looking at the city or town directory for that year?
Let’s think about death records for a minute. Picton Press in 2003 published Michelle E. Thomas’ “Vital Records of Bangor, Maine: Volume 2: Death Records.”
In two sections, Thomas’ book includes Bangor death records from 1777 to 1892, the year the state started centralizing birth, marriage and death records in Augusta. Also included are death records from St. John’s Episcopal Church, First United Methodist Church, Columbia Street Baptist Church, First Congregational Church and Hammond Street Congregational Church.
On the other end of the time scale, we know that the Maine Death Index, covering 1960-2009, is available free on the Maine State Archives website at maine.gov/sos/arc.
On occasion, we may find that certain city and town directories can help us with death information for some years after 1892 and before 1960.
A good example is “Bangor Brewer Hampden and Veazie Directory 1901.”
Among the deaths listed in the 1901 directory are:
— Adams, Jonathan E. Rev. died Jan. 21, 1901.
— Adams, Phebe Mrs., died March 1, 1901.
— Adams, Sprague, died Sept. 24, 1899.
— Allen, Lemuel, died Dec. 1, 1900.
— Appleton, Salome, died Dec. 15, 1899.
— Ayer, Emily A., died Dec. 15, 1899.
— Bacon, John A., died May 15, 1900.
— Barrows, Susan, widow of Joseph, died Jan. 21, 1901.
— Barry, Patrick, riverman, died Jan. 26, 1900.
— Barry, William H., died Aug. 20, 1899.
— Bartlett, William A. died Feb. 16, 1900.
Of course, living people of the time were quite interesting, as well. For example, there were two women named Annie E. Adams living in Bangor in 1901. The one at 49 Webster Ave. was the widow of Winfield S. Adams, whereas the one at 140 Franklin St. was the widow of George Adams. That could be very helpful to a researcher trying to keep her Adams families sorted out.
Occupations also were listed in many cases, as well as both work address and home address.
Then, too, sometimes there were listings for people who had left town. Bangor listed these former residents in 1901:
— Anderson, L. Christian, moved to Denver.
— Atwood, Horace W., moved to Boston.
— Ayer, Wilbur B., moved to Providence, R. I.
— Bagley, Charles F., moved to Boston.
— Bagley, Fred C., moved to Millinocket.
For the city of Brewer, listings included both residents who had died and those who had moved, but I didn’t see either of those under Hampden or Veazie.
Directories also include substantial information on businesses and non-profit organizations such as municipalities and hospitals. These often include officers. Maybe your relative was one of the dozens of justices of the peace in Bangor in 1901. My children likely don’t know that I was a justice of the peace for seven years beginning when I was in college, the idea being that I could help register voters. I don’t believe I ever used my JP license, and I certainly never officiated a marriage.
I hope you find some useful information in city and town directories.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.