Using the new Massachusetts Town Vital Collections, 1620-1988 on Ancestry.com has, in one evening, turned up a lot of good information for me. Admittedly, coverage is not complete, but the thing I like is that these are the original town records, not the transcribed records held more centrally by the state. I have noticed handwritten notes near some records (like permission for a minor to marry) and some extra data that did not make the transcriptions.
Here are 5 things I discovered in an evening:
- From the 4059-page Newton records, I found my uncle Blanchard Baldwin’s corrected birth record. His first name, the slightly edited names of his parents, and a note had been added in a darker pen, saying that the updates were done on April 9, 1914. That may have been when Blanchard joined the Navy. I’m sure the original birth record was incomplete because his mother died the next day. It must have been a chaotic time.
- My great-grandparent’s marriage record (ok, nothing new here, but my family might like to see it):
- Evidence that the “Grandma Ross,” who was my grandfather’s grandmother (he always referred to her maiden name as Spaulding) is the same Catherine Ross that was the mother of William Blackstone Bennett, Anna Jean Bennett, and Hattie Baldwin (they all listed her maiden name as “Youngs” in their own marriage records), since in her (third) marriage license, to Hiram Ross, she gives her maiden name as Youngs:
- A death record for Aunt Hattie, who died in Wayland, Mass in 1933. This record had eluded me before; I didn’t even have a death date. Her mother is listed as Catherine Young … were my grandfather, and HIS father, the only people who thought her maiden name was Spaulding?
- The second half of Hattie’s death record contained something I’ve been searching for since pretty much the first week I started genealogy – the origin of my mother’s family, the Baldwins. Hattie’s death record shows that her father, Edward Baldwin, was born in Townsend, Massachusetts. If it’s true, this is the biggest discovery made I’ve made in a long time.
- As you can imagine, I moved on quickly to the Townsend records. First I checked the map – Townsend is at the northern border of Massachusetts, north of Worcester. This is roughly in the section of the state where I thought he might have been born. Then I went through the Townsend birth records by index and page-by-page. Then I checked several other places, and I don’t see a birth record. However, I see Baldwins, I see at least one Miles family, and, more intriguingly, I see LOTS of Spauldings. And it’s possible that Edward was located at some time in Townsend, or was born close by. Despite a lack of a definite solution at this point I am thrilled, and have lots more to explore.
Tonight’s breakthrough was made possible by the work of Jay and Delene Holbrook, who compiled the Massachusetts records, over several decades, that now appear on Ancestry. Thank you!
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