Researchers should double-check what family “knows” about ancestors

Posted Sept. 28, 2012, at 8 a.m.

We all have them, those family stories that explain why some relative or other left town. Ted Steele might have gone along with the story of a “political fight” involving one of his ancestors had he not checked out local newspapers of the day and found a different explanation.

Some 120 family researchers attending the Sept. 22 meeting of the Maine Genealogical Society in Brewer nodded their heads in understanding, recalling a “story” or two from their own sleuthing that offered more convenience than truth.

Steele was surely grateful for the aunt who “knew” that forebears had come from Scotland in the 1800s, settling in Virginia, as long as he allowed for the fact that the country of origin was England, and that ancestors actually came over in the 1600s to what became Connecticut, not Virginia.

Every bit of Steele’s talks yielded good fodder for genealogists, information he has gathered during 35 years of family research. Now a part-time resident of Maine, he has authored books on the Steele and Ebbets families and been president of the St. Louis Genealogical Society. He was national chairman of the GENTECH 2004 Conference and given many presentations nationally.

Honors presented during the conference included the Award for Genealogical Service to Cheryl Willis Patten for her volunteer efforts not only with MGS, but with the Maine Old Cemetery Association and the Association for Gravestone Studies.

Outgoing MGS President John Battick received the Past Presidents Award and gave out an award of his own to Dale Mower, a past president who has continued to serve MGS, from its website to its conference committee.

Elected president of MGS was Helen A. Shaw of Rockport, a certified genealogist and anthropologist who is president of the Old Broad Bay Family History Association and state registrar of the Maine Daughters of the American Revolution. She is the legislative liaison for MGS and MOCA, working to keep Maine records accessible and cemeteries safe.

Shaw also is a knowledgeable presenter, and has agreed to give a one-day workshop on “Census Research” for the Maine Genealogical Society on Saturday, April 13, 2013, at the Augusta Civic Center.

Also elected by MGS were Brian Bouchard, vice president; Cheryl Willis Patten, recording secretary; Jane Macomber and Roxanne Moore Saucier, three-year terms on the board of directors; and Emily Schroeder, one-year term on the board.

Renewal dues and new memberships to MGS are $25. Membership brings four issues of The Maine Genealogist journal a year, four issues of the MGS newsletter and discounts on attending the fall meeting and purchasing special publications such as Maine vital records books and Maine Families in 1790.

Dues may be sent to Maine Genealogical Society, Box 221, Farmington, ME 04938.

Greene Plantation Historical Society of Belmont will hold a Remembrance Day open house for former students of the one-room Greers’ Corner Schoolhouse at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at the schoolhouse in Belmont. Come out and meet with former classmates, share in the storytelling, refreshments and fun. Bring copies of memorabilia and photos to be copied for the Historical Society scrapbooks. Dress warmly, depending on the weather that day. There will be a wood fire in the old stove. For more information, contact Isabel Morse Maresh, trustee and secretary, at

I am preparing a new program, “Researching Our Veterans,” to be presented at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28, at Cole Land Transportation Museum, 405 Perry Road, Bangor. Admission will be by donation to benefit the Bangor World War II Monument.

For information 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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