Having a fifth cousin scout out a distant ancestral town is way, way, better than nothing. Especially when that cousin is Pat Hagan.
Bessie Blanche Martin
My great-grandmother Bessie Blanche Martin (mother of my grandfather, Miles E. Baldwin) was born in Wolfville, Kings County, Nova Scotia in 1870.
Bessie’s father was Marsden Martin. His ancestry looks something like this:
Her mother’s family are the Shipleys from England and the Doughertys from Scotland (not a part of this discussion).
In the 1871 census, Bessie was a baby living with her parents, Marsden and Mariah (Shipley) and her sister Minnie in Wolfville, Kings County. Marsden was working as a day laborer. By the 1881 census, the family was living in Mill Village (now Parrsboro), Cumberland County, Nova Scotia. There were three new siblings – May, Clara, and John A. The family moved to Milton or Newton, Mass. around 1885, and census records after that are very few, for various reasons. I have been able to learn very little about Bessie’s life before her death at age 27, particularly about her early life, although I have written about her here, here, here, here, and about a memory book made for her son, and an early marriage license she obtained and never used.
In King’s County
Wolfville is a lovely college town, home to Acadia University. I would love to visit, but probably won’t get there for another year or two.
However, thanks to the internet and, more recently, DNA testing, I know some cousins in that line. Pat Hagan is my 5th cousin; we are descended from our fourth-great grandparents John Secomb Anderson (son of privateer James Anderson) and Elizabeth Hardacker who died in Gaspereau, Kings County. Although Pat’s branch of the family is in western Canada now, he was told by his grandmother about a cousin, Bill Anderson, in King’s County, and that’s how Pat was able to track Bill Anderson down, and see and take pictures of our ancestor James Anderson’s surviving documents: a New York Marine Society certificate and a Masonic document, on which is scrawled “Died in the West Indies July 1796.” There’s also an old chest identified by the family as James’.
Pat and his wife Marlene had the pleasure of visiting Bill Anderson again in May, 2015. Pat called me a couple of times during the trip and I even got to talk to Bill myself. My favorite part? When Pat passed the phone to Bill, I heard an entreaty “Now Bill, be nice!” There’s always a lot of kidding going on with those Andersons, I think. Pat has learned a lot about our Anderson line from Bill, and has had a great time getting to know Bill and his family.
I had given Pat a few names of some local family lines that I have, that he does not share – the Martins and the Grahams. Pat was able to scout around and send me some terrific pictures.
More treasures from the Captain’s sea chest
Pat Hagan and another cousin, Bonnie Lord and I are on a mission to discover the family roots of our ancestor James Anderson, sea captain and sometime privateer. Of course Pat and Bill Anderson spent some time looking at the relics of James Anderson. Thanks to James’ activities during the Revolutionary War, the Anderson family fled to Nova Scotia after the war. But James Anderson’s original roots, from before he built a brick house in Fell’s Point, Baltimore, are an ongoing mystery to us.
Previously, we have seen a masonic certificate and a Marine Society certificate. Pat, along with Bill Anderson, unearthed a few more clues in the sea chest.
There is a copy of a letter from our gggg-grandfather John Secomb Anderson to our gggg-grandmother Elizabeth Hardacker (note pictures of both are in this blog post).
And even another artifact of James Anderson, an old pocket notebook from the 1780’s. There are lists of expenses in here – a page for what appears to be the building of something wooden – a fence? a dock? and a page for some sails of different types. There seem to be notes about bills payed or monies owed by others. The handwriting is, I think, somewhat sophisticated, even if the writing is quick and sloppy. Pat Hagan has a theory that James Anderson came from a fairly wealthy background. If this is his handwriting, this supports that theory, I think.
The graves of the Martins and Grahams
Pat was kind enough to visit a local cemetery and take pictures of Martin and Graham burials.
The house of Perez Martin
Amazingly, Pat found the house of my gggg-grandparents Perez (1800-1871) and Olivia (Graham) (1799-1859) Martin. The house is in use, and modernized, but definitely has a 19th century charm. Even better, the current owner has agreed to correspond with me about his research into the Martins and Grahams. The Martins are originally from Massachusetts, and I have been able to trace them pretty well, but the origins of the Grahams are a complete mystery to me. So I am very excited to learn more.
Pat took the time to visit some local repositories, but nothing new turned up. James Anderson should have had a probate record – he died with property and minor children – but evidently any such documents have not survived.
All in all, a very successful journey, and I can’t wait to go myself.
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