Since my good fortune last spring in finding my Baldwin and Spaulding ancestors in Townsend, Massachusetts, I have been trying to pin down what became of my great great grandfather, Edward Baldwin. Born around 1832 or 1833 to a father (Eli Baldwin) that died in 1833 and a mother (Polly Spaulding Baldwin) that passed away in 1839, Edward and his sister Catherine were orphans before they were 10.
The only record I have of Edward after 1840 is an 1860 census record in Amity (now Belmont), Allegany County, New York and an undetailed 1867 death record in Northbridge, Massachusetts which may or may not be him.
Legal custody of the children
Polly’s 1839 probate records indicated that her brother John Spaulding would be the guardian of the two orphans, Edward and Catherine Baldwin.
The Memorial of John Spaulding 2d of Townsend, pump maker
That Edward & Catherine Baldwin are minors under the age of 14 years & children of Eli Baldwin, late of said Townsend, dced, that they have no mother; that there is [ ] for a guardian, that the petitioner is the Uncle of said minors (–Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Probate Court, Polly Baldwin Probate file, file 857, Middlesex Probate Court, East Cambridge, Massachusetts).
One thing that jumps out at me (there are several mentions of the guardianship in the Probate pages) is the way Polly is not really a factor in the custody of the children. Clearly, she may have chosen her brother (I suspect she knew she was dying, from the wording of the will, 2 months before her death) but the official documents always list them as Eli’s children (Eli had died in 1833) and any preference expressed by her is never mentioned.
I am hoping to find Edward Baldwin during the period 1850-1860, or to find any relative who moved out to western New York, where Edward was by 1860. I am not able to definitively place the children with any family member in 1840 just using the census record, not even with John, although it is possible. So I set my sights on the more complete census data of 1850. When possible, I also looked at the Massachusetts census of 1855.
The 1850 census
Due to several circumstances:
- the custody being initially assigned to John Spaulding;
- Edward Baldwin eventually naming his two children after Spaulding siblings Harriet and Miles; and
- the fact that I have found sister Catherine living with Daniel Spaulding, and buried in the Spaulding plot at Hillside Cemetery in Townsend;
… I have the idea Edward is likely to be with the Spauldings. So I started with the siblings of Polly; the children of Isaac and Lucy (Emery) Spaulding of Townsend, Massachusetts (note, Isaac Emery had passed away in the 1830’s):
[Polly Spaulding 1806 – 1839]
Isaac Spaulding Jr 1807 – 1888: was married in 1839 to his second wife, Cynthia Ann Matthews, and had been in Harman, Ohio for at least 10 years in 1850.
John Spaulding 1809 – 1882: a pump maker, later “merchant”, married for the second time in 1832 and by 1850 was living with his wife and four children in Townsend, where he died in 1882.
Lucy Spaulding 1812 – 1903: married Flint Ball in 1833, and became a widow in 1847, and remained a widow in Townsend until her death in 1903. Edward’s sister Catherine Baldwin, age 18, is living with her and her two young sons in 1850 (page 2 of the Townsend federal census record). Polly lost one of those two sons during the Civil War.
Daniel Spaulding 1814 – 1901: was a farmer, and I speculate, but don’t know yet, that he may have taken over the family farm after the death of his father. In 1850, he has his wife, two children (including Hannah Clement Spaulding), his mother Lucy, and two unmarried sisters, Ruth and Harriet, in the household. But not Edward.
Ruth Spaulding 1816 – 1888: never married; living with brother Daniel in 1850, above. From some family letters found in an archive, I know that she was in Lexington in 1835. I assume she was at some sort of school since her mother wrote of her coming home for the summer. There may have been a school called “Lexington Academy” from 1822-1838. It’s also possible Ruth had some sort of job, or was visiting. She spent the rest of her life in Townsend with family.
Miles Spaulding 1819 – 1896: A young physician, Miles was living with his first wife and his mother-in-law in Dunstable, Mass. in 1850. A year later, Miles would move to Groton, Mass. and practice there for the rest of his life. Knowing Edward later named a child after Miles, I looked around the Dunstable census record for him, but noticed nothing. Miles married second wife Mary Mehitable Stickney in 1863. The house they later lived in (which I believe had belonged to her father, Stephen Stickney) is now known as Prescott House, on the campus of Lawrence Academy.
Harriet Newell Spaulding 1822 – 1907: Never married; living with brother Daniel in 1850, above. Harriet graduated from the Lawrence Academy, Groton, Massachusetts, in 1841. Several of her nieces and nephews also graduated, later, but not Edward.
Nancy Cushing Spaulding 1826 – 1917: was just married to James Gilson; in 1850 they were enumerated next to Nancy’s brother John, and James Gilson was working as a pump maker.
I looked for several pages back, and ahead, on these census records for any sign of Edward. Not finding him with the Spauldings, I know he could possibly have been in with the other side of his family, the Baldwins. One clue about this is contained in a letter Polly wrote in 1835 in which she mentioned that Edward was currently visiting “his GrandFather” who must have been his grandfather Baldwin.
These are the siblings of Eli Baldwin, children of Abiel and Lucy (Gassett) Baldwin of Pepperell, Mass. Abiel and Lucy died during the 1840’s.
- Minot Baldwin 1803 – 1878: married Sophronia Hall in 1824, by 1850 only two of their children were still at home in Townsend. Minot is listed as a carpenter in several records.
- [Eli Baldwin 1804 – 1833]
- Royal Baldwin 1806 – 1848: married Mary Frank in Boston in 1843 (Records of the Hollis Street Church in Boston, p. 109, AmericanAncestors.org); the Baldwin Genealogy reported that he died in 1848; there is a cemetery record for the Central (Common) cemetery in Boston (Boston, MA: Old Cemeteries of Boston. (Online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2007) however the birth date seems off, so I will research this further.
- Mary Baldwin 1807 – 1873: married William Wright, a farmer/blacksmith, in 1833; this was recorded in Boston. I noticed that the marriage date was exactly two months after the death (in Boston) of Eli Baldwin and I managed to scroll easily through the 60,000 pages of handwritten records in that set (on Ancestry.com) and find a record of Eli’s death I hadn’t seen before (I have no idea why that was so easy- I guessed a page number and I was only 100 pages off). Anyway, by 1850 the couple had 11 children and were living in Townsend (U.S. 1850 census for Townsend, family#81; pages are incorrectly ordered on Ancestry.com).
- Levi Baldwin 1809 – 1862: a peddler, he died of consumption in 1862 in Sandwich, Massachusetts. He had a wife Elizabeth and possibly two children; the Baldwin Genealogy says his wife was Mary Hinds. I cannot locate him in the 1850 census although in 1855 he is with Elizabeth in Sandwich.
- James Adams Baldwin 1811 – 1884: a farmer (later laborer), James married Catherine Mead in 1837. In 1850 they were living in Dublin, New Hampshire with several children.
- Elbridge Gerry Baldwin 1812 – 1886: was a cooper, later, farmer. Elbridge married Mary Fisk in 1838 and they had one son, John Elbridge, born 1842. In 1850 they were living in Claremont, New Hampshire; later they would live in Jaffrey.
- Albert Baldwin 1814 – 1887 : a farmer, Albert married twice. In 1850 he was living close to Finis in Pepperell with his first wife, Olive Bailey, and their children.
- Lydia Baldwin 1816 – 1886: married an older man as his second wife, Abel Babcock, and lived in New Jersey where they raised 6 or 7 children. They were married in 1838 in Boston at the First Universalist Church, Hanover Street, Boston (a few blocks away from the Old North Church). Abel was a War of 1812 veteran, and earned a pension.
- Finis Baldwin 1818 – 1891: she married farmer Leonard Blood in 1840. In 1850 they lived in Pepperell with their newborn son and “Lucy Wright”, age 11 – perhaps Mary’s daughter (also enumerated in Mary’s household). Lucy would have had plenty of experience with babies in her parent’s household.
- Alpha Baldwin 1820 – 1891: a carpenter, Alpha married Elizabeth Jones in 1850 and they appear in the 1850 census apparently living near her family in Hillsborough, New Hampshire. New Hampshire is very close by, and might have been overlooked by me when searching for Edward Baldwin, so I launched another search, but nothing.
- Henry Baldwin 1823 – 1908: a shoe maker, never married, listed as deaf in the 1860 and 1880 census. By 1850 both of his parents were dead, and he lived over the years with or near various siblings. In 1900, age 77, he listed his occupation as “Capitalist.” I think I like this guy.
Just doing this research over a period of months has pointed out to me some other ways I can seek out Edward Baldwin’s fate:
- Read the probate record of each grandfather (Isaac Spaulding and Abiel Baldwin)
- Pursue the details about Royal Baldwin and Levi Baldwin – there is a gap in both their stories.
- Study the complete census record for 1850 and 1855 for Townsend and Pepperell (done)
- Explore the possibility that Edward lived in nearby New Hampshire for a while (done)
- Follow up on those Baldwins that seem more closely linked to Edward’s father Eli: those who lived in Boston, those who demonstrate woodworking skills, and those closest in age.
- Do some more serious research on father Eli Baldwin, if possible.
- Explore Pepperell area newspapers around February 1867 to see if Edward’s death was reported in his hometown (have tried one, need to try more)
- Find Edward’s wife and two children in the 1865 census – they are likely to be in Massachusetts, specifically Middlesex or Worcester County
- Continue to search for any Civil War activity. About all I’ve found is some indication that he could have walked away from his unit during a march in western New York early in the war – no idea if that is him.
- Find new ways to look for him in New York State, since he was in Allegany County by 1860.
- Consider the times – could a 17-year-old have made his way, say, to the California gold mines in 1849? Could any “missing” relative, above, be there? Any other possible destinations that I’m overlooking?
I started this particular project looking for solid clues, but finding none, I realize that finding gaps or inconsistencies is the next best thing.
Let me just put in a good word for knowing the whole family – it makes searching easier in ways that are hard to describe. In this case, it hasn’t solved the problem yet, but it is probably the only path that will ever work.
Some helpful sources:
- The Baldwin Genealogy by Charles Candee Baldwin, 1881 (see page 717 of the “John of Billerica” section).
- The Spalding Memorial by Samuel Spalding.
- Old Burying Ground Headstones, Epitaphs, Ancestry & Revolutionary War Patriots compiled by Susan Woolfrey Teachout, 2011.
- Sawtelle, Ithamar B. History of the Town of Townsend, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, from the Grant of Hathorn’s Farm, 1676-1878. Fitchburg, Mass.: Published by the Author, Press of Blanchard & Brown, 1878.
- Cutter, Daniel B. History of the Town of Jaffrey, New Hampshire, Concord, 1881.
- Census and vital records accessed through Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, and AmericanAncestors.org.
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