For a person who starts family history research alone, without the prior work of other generations, I think it must be quite common to find stories that we wish we could share with the relatives who are gone. I was unsure if I would ever learn much about my grandfather’s family, but I was wrong about that; I have learned both good and bad … I have learned a lot. To know that I know so much more than he ever did is a funny position to be in.
Bessie Blanche (Martin) Baldwin was my great grandmother, the mother of my grandfather Miles E Baldwin Jr. The full extent of my family’s knowledge of my great grandmother Bessie before I started researching this a few years ago consisted of:
- a notation of her name and her parent’s names made by my grandfather
- we knew that she had died when Miles’ younger brother Blanchard was born
- a tintype and a few pictures
Surprise Number One
I knew that Bessie’s parents were Marston Martin and Maria (Shipley) Martin. I knew my grandfather was born in Newton, Mass. As I looked for the family in census records I was very surprised to find them in the 1871 and 1881 Canadian Census living in Wolfville and Mills, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia. I asked my mother if she thought Bessie was from Nova Scotia, but she knew nothing about it. This is one of those occasions when the 1890 U.S. Census would have been a big help because I was wondering when Bessie arrived in Massachusetts and whom she was with.
On FamilySearch.org I found the record for Bessie’s marriage to Miles Edward Baldwin in Newton, Mass. on 1 Sep 1892 along with the record of my grandfather’s birth in 1893.
Back to Nova Scotia
My research then turned to other members of this unknown family.
Marston and Maria married 30 April 1868. I found this record on Ancestry.com and ordered it through Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics. One thing that jumped out at me at the time was the two sets of parents:
- James & Margaret Martin
- James & Margaret Shipley
While the names are common enough, this coincidence seemed important to me, especially as subsequent searches for Marston revealed nothing. Were the names mis-written in the record? Was he an orphan or a runaway and didn’t want to give the real names of his parents?
The two witnesses were:
- John E. Dougherty
- Obed B. Coldwell
It’s great when the witness names provide clues about the families. But at the time only Dougherty was helpful to me; it helped me find Maria Shipley Martin’s mother, Margaret Dougherty. I believe John E. Dougherty was Maria’s uncle. Later, I would find out Obed B. Coldwell was Marston’s second cousin. But at the time, the name got me nowhere.
Yes, I have an ancestor named Marmaduke
The Shipleys have a wonderful story, which time and further skills on my part will bring out, I hope. I believe one set of Maria’s great grandparents were Robert Innis and Janet Monroe, passengers on The Hector, the well known ship that began the migration from the Scottish Highlands to Nova Scotia. Another set of great-grandparents were of English descent; she may have a set of ggg-grandparents named Marmaduke Shipley and Elizabeth Spencer. Hmm, Spencer, could be a royal connection there; I’ll have to check that out sometime. No hurry, I’ve already missed the royal wedding!
Back to Marston and Maria
Marston and Maria had the following children that I know about; all but the last born in Nova Scotia:
- Minnie Martin, b. 1869
- Bessie Blanche Martin, 1869 – 1897
- May Martin, 1873 –
- Clara Pearl Martin, 1878 – 1952, married 13 Jun 1896 in Springfield, Mass., pipe organ builder Arthur Lewis Beaudry and lived in Buffalo, NY and Cleveland, Ohio; had children Thelma, Arthur, and Jules
- John A. Martin, 1880 –
- Hazel Violet Martin, 1884 – 1908, married 25 Sept 1905 in Somerville, Mass., Frederick Bamblett, no children
- Daisy Martin, 1887 – 1888, born and died in Needham, Massachusetts
I would love to connect with any descendants.
Next time, the few details of Bessie’s life and death in Massachusetts. Later, a real breakthrough about the Martins.