State adds to death, marriage indexes

Posted Aug. 08, 2010, at 8:10 p.m.

Remember when genealogists were ticked off because the Maine Legislature passed a new law making it tougher to get vital records less than 100 years old?

One of the objections researchers made was that the horse was already out of the barn, considering that the Maine Death Index for 1960-1996 already was on the Internet, as was the Maine Marriage Index for 1892-1966 and 1977-1996.

Guess what?

The Maine State Archives has just added 13 years of information to both indexes online, bringing them up to Dec. 31, 2009. I wouldn’t make this up.

Go to the archives website at www.maine.gov/sos/arc/ to use:

• Maine Death Database, 1960-2009.

• Maine Marriage Database, 1892-1966 and 1977-2009.

I found out about the expanded indexes accidentally when I entered a surname and got some hits for people who had died in the 2000s. What?

Time for a test, I thought. I entered the surnames and first names for my dad and two of his siblings who had died in the past decade. I found:

• Gayland A. Moore Jr., May 29, 2002, Bangor.

• Mary A. Moore, Aug. 30, 2005, Bangor.

• Carroll Walter Moore, Jan. 15, 2008, Abbot.

All there.

On the Marriage Database, I checked some marriages I knew had taken place in the past few years. Found them as well.

One drawback is that the newer marriage listings don’t seem to include the towns where the bride and groom were from. But the dates are there.

If you went to high school in Maine, it’s fun to look on the database to see if your classmates married someone you knew.

Perhaps some of your cousins are in the marriage database, giving you dates and spouses you can add to your family history records.

Remember the gap in the marriage index for 1967-1976? It’s still a gap, for technical reasons.

As for the death database, some of us have committed to memory the death dates for parents and grandparents who have died. But you could look up info for uncles and aunts and “greats.” And with a death date, you can go looking for an obituary.

Our thanks to archivist III Jeff Brown at Maine State Archives for confirming the information on the marriage and death indexes.

Looking for relatives who died outside Maine? Check the Social Security Death Index at ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com.

Go to the “advanced” screen, and you can include the state of residence where the person died, or the state of birth, for example.

The great thing about the SSDI is that it also specifies the state where the person obtained his or her Social Security card. So if you’re looking through a whole list of people named John Doe in California, you can focus on those who got their SS card in Maine, for example.

Be sure not to rule out someone because of the town where their last Social Security benefit was paid.

For my grandfather Steeves, that town was listed as Abbot, a place he never lived. But my mother was his guardian in the last years of his life, so that’s where he “lived” according to Social Security records.

Actually, his benefits were paid to a nursing home in yet another town, but for SSA purposes he resided in Abbot.

Also, remember that Bangor Daily News obituaries since the end of 2003 are available at www.bangordailynews.com. Click on Obituaries, then Obituaries Archive.

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Every five years, the Rush Family Reunion is held in Benedicta for the descendants of Johann Diederich Rasche, 1800-1874, and Sarah Theresa Schmidt, 1812-1856, also known as John D. Rush and Sarah T. Smith.

Johann came to the United States about 1833 from Stelle in the Kingdom of Hannover. His wife, Sarah, came to the U.S. with her parents in 1827 from Alsace, France.

They had 13 children, 12 of whom lived long lives, according to Richard D. Kelly Jr. The 12 each married and gave Johann and Sarah a total of 109 grandchildren, so there are numerous descendants.

When most folks think of Benedicta, they think Irish, Kelly pointed out, but there also were three German families who settled in Benedicta in the 1830s — the Rasches (Rush), the Rövers (Rivers) and the Schmidts (Smith).

The main reunion of the very large family will be held Saturday, Aug. 21, at St. Benedict’s old schoolyard.

Activities during the week will include: Aug. 16, climb Traveler Mountain in Baxter State Park; Aug. 17, Penobscot River rafting trip; Aug. 18, kayaking trip; Aug. 19, golf outing; Aug. 20, smaller family gatherings.

For more information, visit the Rush Reunion website at http://rushreunionbenedicta.blogspot.com.

Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or e-mail queries to familyti@bangordailynews.com.

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