May 25, 2018
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What online research can do — and not do — for genealogical problems

Michael C. York | BDN
Michael C. York | BDN
Roxanne Moore Saucier
By Roxanne Saucier, Special to the BDN

As certified genealogist Dr. Thomas Jones would put it, “Can a complex research problem be solved solely online?” I’m quite excited that Jones will give the keynote address on this topic during the Maine Genealogical Society Conference at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, at Jeff’s Catering on Littlefield Way in Brewer.

The speaker describes his program as “an interactive case study showing how to trace an ancestor who seems to disappear and reappear, and the limits of material online today.”

Ah, yes, the limits of material online today. While there are more and more genealogy items being added to the Internet daily, there are still countless rare books, documents and other resources that are not online. These include genealogy manuscripts, scrapbooks, Bible records and original resources.

Then, too, much of what is on the Internet has been transcribed, meaning recopied or typed up from an original or earlier record. Sometimes the transcription isn’t bad, but the indexing can be terrible. Even with countless good-hearted volunteers participating, the indexing of the 1940 Census shows how mistakes can be made when indexing is done by people who may not be at all familiar with names in a particular town or region.

And we certainly know the folly of family trees on the Internet, lines which may be well-documented, or accompanied by no sources whatsoever.

Remember the mistakes we’ve seen in some family histories? One of those in the Bennett Family of Guilford erroneously lists Isaac and Margaret (Noble) Bennett as the parents of David Bennett, born 1797 — and of course, the mistake also is found on the Internet, sad to say.

In fact, Isaac and Margaret’s son David Bennett was born in 1794 in Gray. He married Lydia Clark, and they had Sumner Robinson Bennett, who married Roxana Briggs of Parkman. This David Bennett was a cousin to the David born 1797.

I am certain of this because I have the original Bible record of Sumner Bennett’s family, in addition to other confirming information. You may see a transcription of the Bible record in Maine Genealogy Resources at the online address listed for Family Ties at the end of this column.

The rest of the day on Sept. 13, the conference will offer two workshops at each session, with attendees choosing which they’d like to take in:

— “Solving Problems with Original Sources,” with Thomas Jones, or “Genetic Genealogy” with Nancy LeCompte, 10:45 a.m.

— “Debunking Misleading Records,” Thomas Jones, or “Adventures in Atlases, Agent Reports and Alumni Records: Resources Available at the University of Maine’s Fogler Library, 2:15 p.m.

— “Five Ways to Prove Who Your Ancestor Was (Some Reliable and Others Not Reliable),” Thomas Jones, or “Riskng It All: Genealogical Research in the United States Life-Saving Service,” Michael Strauss, 3:30 p.m.

Lunch is at noon, and the annual meeting at 1:30 p.m. There will be book vendors and organizations with displays.

Those attending must pre-register by Sept. 1. The cost for the conference is $40 for Maine Genealogical Society members, $50 for nonmembers. Add $15 for luncheon. Send check to MGS, ℅ Celeste Hyer, 69 Loop Road, Otisfield, ME 04270-6456.

If you are not a member of the Maine Genealogical Society, you may send $25 dues with your registration. In addition to saving $10 on registration, you may purchase MGS publications at discount at the conference.

For more information, visit

The World Acadian Congress is ready to kick off on Friday, Aug. 8, and it will run through Aug. 24. Check out the stories in the BDN by visiting Enter World Acadian Congress in the Search box in the upper righthand corner of the web page.

Also, join us at the Saucier Family Reunion and the Walllagrass Summer Festival on Sunday, Aug. 10, in Wallagrass on Route 11. My talk on Saucier and Franco-American Research is open to all at 10:30 a.m. Bbring a chair to sit in.

For i nformation on researching family history in Maine, see Genealogy Resources under Family Ties at Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402, or email


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