It is really interesting to see how birth certificates have changed over the years, and the vital information that is sometimes left out. One of the oldest copies of a birth record I have is for my great-great-grandmother, Rebeckah Packard, wife of J. Colby Moore of Monson.
More than 30 years ago, I obtained the birth record, a copy made from microfilm at the Maine State Archives in Augusta. On the back of the document is typed “Maine State Archives Official Reproduction Record Source. This Is a Stabilized Not a Permanent Print.” Handwritten is “Parkman, Me. Piscataquis Co.”
The copy is from Parkman town records and is handwritten: “Reckord of James Packard’s Children. Silas Packard Born November 9th, 1835. Jackson H. Packard Born June 21st, 1837. Rebeckah Packard Born Dec. 2th, 1838.” Silas Packard is marked as “dead.”
One other family, on the same page, is “Reckord of Aretas H. Smith Children. Sarah P. Smith Born Oct. 17th, 1836. Josiah Smith Born July 30th, 1838. Aretas H. Smith Jr. Born June 27th, A.D. 1841.”
While it is possible that the births were recorded when they happened, making them “contemporary,” I’m thinking that these may have been recorded in groups, which sometimes happened when a family asked to have their data put into town records.
A contemporary record would more likely have each birth recorded with other births in the town from the same year, rather than in family groups.
The other thing I find notable about this page of records is that neither family group mentions the children’s mother, an oversight that irks me both as a genealogist and as a mother.
For the record, the mother of James Packard’s children was Lydia (Harris) Packard, who died in 1841 at age 28. James Packard came to Parkman from Hebron, and Rebeckah was a frequent name in his maternal line. Harris families came to Parkman from Greene. Silas and Jackson were both names from the Harrises of Greene, though I have been unable to determine who Lydia’s parents were.
My great-grandfather, Alton J. Moore, who was both Rebeckah’s son-in-law and nephew, was born July 15, 1871, in Dexter to Gaylan H. Moore and Susan D.W. (Holbrook) Moore.
Alton filed his birth by deposition in 1936 with Joseph P. Morse of Abbot Village, and the record was certified by Mary A. Haines, deputy clerk of Dexter.
The birth certificate left blank which child he was in birth order, the number of children living at the time of his birth, and whether he was legitimate or illegitimate.
My grandmother, Ione (Bennett) Moore, always said that her former husband, Gayland Alton Moore Sr., was born in 1903. But his birth certificate in Abbot lists him as born Dec. 12, 1902, to Alton J. Moore and Hattie A. (Moore) Moore. The certificate says that the record was filed by Alton Moore on March 27, 1943, with Town Clerk L. J. Tripp. The record left blank whether the birth was in a hospital, the number of months of pregnancy, and whether the mother was married to the father of the child. He was.
My birth certificate from the early 1950s lists me as born at Mayo Memorial Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft to Joyce Evelyn Steeves of North Main Street, Sangerville, and Gayland Alton Moore. It included the birthplace of both parents, but did not ask where the father lived or whether the parents were married. They were indeed, married, and lived upstairs over my grandparents, Stanley and Edith Steeves. The certificate should have listed my dad as Gayland Moore Jr., but didn’t.
The record was signed by Clerk Charles E. Washburn of Dover-Foxcroft and stamped “Verified by Parents.”
I’ve been thinking of vital records since my mother and I attended the Aug. 10 funeral of Maude Doris Rees, mother of my childhood friends Diana Rees Bowley, at Sangerville Universalist Church. Diana and I attended Sunday School and Bible study as children at the church, where my mother and grandparents earlier had been in the choir. Maude played the organ there, as well.
Maude and her parents, Eugene and Doris (Dow) Rollins were vital to the life of Sangerville in many ways, all three of them having served as town clerk and/or deputy town clerk. The 1954 death certificate of my great-great-grandmother, Mary (Cummings) Bennett Lord, was signed by Deputy Clerk Doris Rollins.
Later in life, Maude Rees was a volunteer at Mayo Regional Hospital for 20 years. As for Diana, she covered Sangerville, as well as the rest of Piscataquis County, as a reporter for the Bangor Daily News for three decades, and she remains active in the Sangerville Historical Society.
The August meeting of the Penobscot County Genealogical Society is the annual opportunity for researchers to get up to date on what the Family History Center has to offer, both online and at the local center at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Do join PCGS members and others at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, at 639 Grandview Ave., which is on the corner of Grandview and Essex Street in Bangor. Judy Reitze of the Family History Center will speak on the Family History Center Portal at familysearch.org.
This meeting is also a nice opportunity for those not familiar with the library’s offerings to browse books and other resources on the shelves, and to use the center’s user-friendly computers.
Next week, I hope you’ll join me at the meeting of the Abbot Historical Society at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, at the Abbot Town Hall on Route 15 in Abbot Village. My program will be “Let’s Talk about Those Cousins,” including artist Waldo Peirce, Vice President Hannibal Hamlin and Gen. Jimmy Doolittle. I am a cousin of some sort, “removed,” from each of these people, and I’ll show you how to figure it out.
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 email@example.com.