Archive for the ‘Martin’ Category

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:

Marston Martin tree

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 in Nova Scotia, and that’s how Pat was able to track this other descendant of James 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 the cousin again in May, 2015.  Pat called me a couple of times during the trip and I even got to talk to him myself. My favorite part?  When Pat passed the phone to him, I heard an entreaty “Now, be nice!” There’s always a lot of kidding going on with those Anderson descendants, I think.  Pat has learned a lot about our Anderson line, and has had a great time getting to know the cousins.

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 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 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).

A copy of an 1813 letter from our gggg-granfather John Secomb Anderson to our gggg-grandmother Elizabeth Hardacre.  Page 1.

A copy of an 1813 letter between our gggg-grandparents.  “O my Dear I think If I could but creap Into this letter till I could see you…”. Page 1.

Page 2 of the letter, signed

Page 2 of the letter mentions a hope of “getting into the yard” and is signed “your affectionate friend and lover, John S. Anderson.”

A long letter on the occasion of John Secomb Anderson's death between his sons William and James, 1869.

A long letter (not included here) on the occasion of John Secomb Anderson’s death between his sons William and James, 1869.

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.

An old pocket notebook from the 1780's.  Presumably, this belonged to James Anderson.

An old pocket notebook from the 1780’s. Presumably, this belonged to James Anderson.

Notes from the pocket book.  The handwriting is, I think, somewhat sophisticated. 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.

Notes from the pocket book. There are several more pages for me to go through carefully.  Is that “3 Bushals tatos”?  I wonder what the mention of “Cap. Martin” refers to?

The graves of the Martins and Grahams

Pat was kind enough to travel to Kings County to visit a cemetery and take pictures of Martin and Graham burials.

The beautiful Melanson Cemetery, Wolfville.

The beautiful Melanson Cemetery, Wolfville. Photo by Pat Hagan.

The grave of my gggg-grandmother,

Pat found the grave of my gggg-grandmother, “Olevia” (Graham) Martin, wife of Perez Martin, at the Melanson Cemetery. Photo by Pat Hagan.

The graves of my ggg-grandparents, James B and Margarety A. (Anderson) Martin - Bessie Blanche Martin's grandparents.

The graves of my ggg-grandparents, James B and Margaret A. (Anderson) Martin at the Melanson Cemetery – Bessie Blanche Martin’s grandparents.  Photo by Pat Hagan.

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 must be a reader of my blog, and knew I would like a picture of the sign for Martin Cross Road, where the old Martin house is located.

The sign for Martin Cross Road in Wolfville, where the old Martin house is located. Photo by Pat Hagan.

The Perez Martin house.

The Perez Martin house. Photo by Pat Hagan.

Another view of the Perez Martin house.

Another view of the Perez Martin house. Photo by Pat Hagan.

An older view of the Perez Martin house.

An older view of the Perez Martin house.

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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The Boston Transcript newspaper (or Boston Evening Transcript) is sometimes cited as a source of genealogical information about New England families.  For a long time, I wondered about that.  Eventually I noted some entries I wanted to see, and accessed it on microfilm at the Boston Public Library and more recently, online.

The Boston Transcript

The Boston Transcript was a Boston, Massachusetts newspaper that regularly carried a page of genealogical questions and answers.  That feature ran for several decades in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s.

It is indexed in the books of the AGBI (American Genealogical and Biographical Index) published by the Godfrey Memorial Library (Middletown, Connecticut) and carried in many libraries that have significant genealogical holdings.  The AGBI, and therefore the Boston Transcript genealogy column, is also found on Ancestry.com, as an index only.

Here is what the top of the Genealogy page looks like:

The Genealogical section usually takes up one page, or less.

The Genealogical section usually takes up one page, or less.

A sample entry:

This is a simple Question entry – note that it has a number

This is an Answer entry:

This sample Answer I pulled out relates to a family that moved from Martha’s Vinyard to Lebanon, Conn. – just like my Martins

A sample Notes entry:

These notes relate to Gashet/Pitts/Godfrey – I believe these families fall in the early part of my Baldwin tree

Genealogists from around the country could subscribe to just the Monday and Wednesday papers if they chose.

You Can Access the Boston Transcript for Free

Many issues from the period 1873-1915 of the Boston Transcript are available on Google News Archives.

Honestly, this looks so intriguing.  Some of the entries were very long and informative.  While the shorter queries and answers were not footnoted (by a long shot), sources were sometimes mentioned (such as “I saw in the Sudbury birth records …” or “Savage says …”).  In the longer pieces, genealogical journals are often cited and longer quotes are sometimes given from wills and deeds.  The longer Notes are often more like conversations among experts.

The 1905 Facebook?  Blog?   RSS Feed?

In many ways, the whole experience reminds me of the random connections one can make while blogging or otherwise communing on the internet.  You never know what you will find, and if you can see a source, that can be a great clue.  And even if it’s not your family, it can be fun to see what everyone else is doing.  I think the experience of perusing it on Monday and Wednesday evenings  must have been very similar to pulling up an RSS feed or a social networking page.  Something to look forward to.

Just by randomly opening a few pages while writing this post, I stumbled upon some items of interest to me (above) and an article (below) about my ancestor Brotherton Martin, son of Thomas.  I had already traced his unusual migration from Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., to Lebanon, Conn., to Horton, Kings, Nova Scotia in the 1700’s.  But the article in the “Notes” section is a conversational speculation about the Martin family from someone who was clearly an expert.  I had never noticed this article coming up in an Ancestry.com search; to see it, one must either link directly to the AGBI Index on Ancestry.com, or do a general search there and choose “Stories, Memories and Histories” and then “Family Histories, Journals, and Biographies”.

Martin Family article, signed “B.A.”, May 1, 1905, page 12

Martin Note, part 2

Martin Note, part 3

The Note is by “B.A.” – that doesn’t seem likely to be the Martha’s Vineyard historian, Charles Edward Banks – but maybe it is.

How to find issues NOT on Google News

If you are anxious to get an entry that you’ve seen in the AGBI, but can’t find on Google News, the Godfrey Memorial Library accepts orders for Boston Transcript Genealogical column entries.  They can be ordered for $10 each, use the form from this web page at the Godfrey Library website.  If there are other sources, I will be happy to list them here in the future.

To see libraries that have holdings for the Boston Transcript (sometimes called Boston Evening Transcript) see this Chronicling American link:


and go to the bottom of that screen to click “View complete holdings.”  A list will come up of various libraries that have the newspaper on microfilm.


FamilySearch.org has placed some of the columns online, freely available, 1911-1940.  Access them here.  The earlier entries in that set are for normal marriage and death Notices found in the rest of the newspaper pages; not the genealogy column. Thanks to reader Mary for alerting me to this!

What’s Next

Now that I know how to access the Boston Transcript from home, I’m going to use it more.

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