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Vital Records Begin to Arrive

For my application to the Mayflower Society, I must collect vital records, if they exist, for each ancestral couple and myself. I ordered several last month. Some have begun to arrive.

My Marriage Record

  1. The State of Wyoming was the most prompt in responding to my request. The record arrived almost by return mail.
  2. The record is on the same template as the Bride and Groom copies that we already had. The one I received from the State bears some official insignia that our personal copies do not carry.

My Mother’s Birth Certificate

  1. The State of Montana responded almost as quickly as Wyoming did. I was curious to see this document because my mom did not have an official copy of her birth certificate. Instead, she had a form from the census bureau acknowledging that her birth had been registered with the state.
  2. My mom was born in April, 1929, but I was surprised to see that her certificate was not filed until September the same year.
  3. Her father’s name and residence on the certificate were completed in a different hand than the rest of writing on the certificate. He is recorded only by his initials, B. K., not his full name.
  4. The family is listed as living at Redstone, Montana although my mom was born in a larger nearby town. Redstone is the closest place to where my grandfather’s family had homesteaded a couple of decades earlier. My grandparents met there when she arrived to teach at the local school in the mid-1920’s.
  5. My grandfather’s occupation was recorded as a switchman at an iron mine. I did not know he was working this way in 1929, and I know of no iron mines in northeastern Montana. He was working at this job in Hibbing, Minnesota the following year at the time the U.S. census was taken. After my mother was born in 1929, the family did move to Hibbing, the town where my grandmother had grown up. I wonder if he had gone ahead to Minnesota in 1929 to find a job and prepare a home before my mother and grandmother arrived.
  6. My grandmother’s occupation was recorded as schoolteacher with May, 1929 as her last month engaged in this work. This was a month after my mom was born. I am amazed that my grandmother finished out the school year with a newborn. Perhaps she was on leave with someone else filling in.

Two other vital records have not yet arrived. I ordered my parents’ marriage record from South Dakota, and I do not know how long that will take to come in the mail.

The guidelines from the Mayflower Society also say Michigan issued vital records beginning in 1867. I know compliance before 1897 was spotty. Still, I need the 1896 death record for my second great-grandfather, John Davis Riddle, if it exists. If not, the Society wants a letter from the State to that effect. The Michigan website says they take 5-6 weeks to respond, so I may be waiting a while for this information.

I already had all the other vital records I need. Once the South Dakota marriage record arrives, I will send my documents to the Colorado historian for the Mayflower Society. They, like me, can wait on the slow response time from Michigan while they review everything else.

 

The Document Collection Continues

My ancestors Laura Riddle (1853-1933), her mother Olive Dunbar (1823-1902), and her grandmother Rhoda Hall (1784-1850) occupied my attention this week. I worked to document their births, marriages, and deaths to complete an application to the Mayflower Society through my ancestor Stephen Hopkins. Of course, all the women present some stumbling blocks:

  1. Laura was an unwed mother. She had three sons with a man in Michigan named George Edmonds before she struck out with the boys in 1885 to homestead in Nebraska. There my grandmother was born many years later in 1896 to Laura and an unknown father. The Society may require me to get a letter from the authorities in Michigan saying they have no marriage record on file for George and Laura even though George is not my ancestor.
  2. Olive left behind a confusing marriage record. She married my second great-grandfather, John Davis Riddle (1821-1896), in Ohio in 1843. So why does the Ohio record omit the groom’s surname and refer to him as John Davis? What else will the Society require for me to prove this is my ancestral couple?
  3. I have no death date for Rhoda. She last appeared on the census in 1850. Her cemetery marker does not include a death date. I may need to contact the Stow, Ohio cemetery to see if they have burial records.

On the brighter side, the Mayflower Society did send me a copy of an application submitted by another person who claims descent through the same couple I do, Thomas Snow (1730-1790) and Hannah Lincoln (1730-1817).

I believe I descend from their eldest child, Lucy (mother of Rhoda), while the other applicant descends from the eldest son, Edward. The application copy from the Society lists the proof documents used for each generation. They list Mayflower Descendants, Vol. 12, and Massachusetts Town Records. The reference to Volume 12 puzzles me because it documents the line of Francis Cooke, not Stephen Hopkins. I will need to look at this book.

I have not yet found Lucy’s birth or death recorded in the town records. I have only her marriage record, her children’s birth registrations, and the transcription of her baptism record. I have a photo of her cemetery marker. I am hoping the Society can help me locate enough additional information to adequately prove this generation.

Will I be able to collect everything I need? One marriage record that I ordered last week has come in. I await other records from across the plains states where my family has lived.

The Historian for the Colorado Mayflower Society sent me a message yesterday asking me to begin sending in what I already have. I will begin doing that right after the Independence Day holiday.

 

The First Three Generations of a Mayflower Application

Lineage societies require exacting proof of generational links to a specific ancestor before they grant membership to an applicant. This week I began the process for the Mayflower Society. Right away I found that despite years of research, I do not have the exact documents they want.

This week I gathered papers for the most current three generations in my chain of descent, beginning with myself and my husband/tech advisor. Already I was missing several of the items they require:

  1. We have our marriage certificate but not the vital record from the state where we were married. I ordered a copy.
  2. I also have my parents’ marriage certificate, but again I do not have a copy of the vital record. I ordered one of those, too.
  3. The document I thought was my mother’s birth certificate is something else. It was issued by the Bureau of the Census and simply verifies that her birth was registered in Montana. I sent a request to Montana for her birth registration.
  4. For people living in 1900, the Society wants a copy of their U.S. census record for that year. I have it for my grandmother, Grace Riddle, but not for my grandfather Herbert Reed. I have never been able to locate him and his family on the 1900 census. They must have lived in Missouri where he was born in 1896 and his parents were divorced in 1904. Will the Society waive this requirement when I am not applying though my grandfather’s line? Or would either the divorce decree naming my grandfather as a minor child or the 1910 census be an adequate substitute?
  5. I do not have a birth record for my grandmother. She was born on a homestead in Nebraska before the state kept vital records. I do not know whether she was baptized. She never had a driver’s license or a passport. Will a combination of census records, her Social Security application, and her death certificate be sufficient to prove her birth date and place?

Encountering these stumbling blocks for 20th century ancestors makes me shudder to think what I will encounter in documenting earlier generations. I have four more to go before I link up to Thomas Snow and Hannah Lincoln, both proven descendants of Stephen Hopkins. Some of my documentation is pretty thin.

I wonder how many families can run a straightforward line of proofs from themselves back 7 or so generations to a proven Mayflower descendant. I must work with the historian of the Colorado branch of the Mayflower Society to gather enough evidence to complete my application.

Once I execute a preliminary application, I will have two years to submit the final one. It will be interesting to see what they say about all the evidence I have gathered. Will I be able to meet the additional demands I know they will make? This could be a long process.

The Onerous Application Process Begins

Since the 1980’s I have worked on my paternal grandmother’s lineage. Beginning with only her mother’s maiden name, Laura Riddle, I have traced her family back to the Mayflower. She never knew she had such a heritage.

I have collected 13 generations’ worth of material to document this line. This year, the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage, I decided to submit it to the General Society of Mayflower Descendants to see if my descent from Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins passes muster.

I submitted a request for a lineage match in late April. I provided my list of names through the generations from Hopkins to myself. The Society’s review cost me $75, and they warned me it would take several weeks to receive a response. Their service involves searching the accepted lines of their members to see if and where I fit in.

This week I received a response. The first six generations, running from Stephen Hopkins down six generations to Thomas Snow and Hannah Lincoln, match the information already in their records. If I want to join, I must now submit documentation for my descent from this couple.

Only one other application in their files claims descent from Thomas and Hannah, through a son Edward. They surmise that he was a brother to my ancestor Lucy Snow, also a child of Thomas and Hannah. They offered to send me the Edward Snow lineage application so I can compare information.

They also forwarded my match inquiry to the historian for my local Colorado chapter of the Mayflower Society. She immediately sent me a welcome letter with instructions on how to complete a membership application. This will involve providing birth, marriage, and death proof for every generation between Thomas and Hannah Snow and myself, a total of seven generations.

I set to work on gathering and copying my documents right away. Then I found that my copier needed either repair or replacement. We decided to order a new one, and I am waiting for it to arrive. Copying any of my proof documents will have to wait a few days.

The Society has a lot of rules on what evidence of lineage they will accept. I do not know whether everything I have gathered will pass the test. I hope it does, but I am prepared to do some more searching for other items they may require.

If I am turned away because I cannot locate and provide sufficient evidence, of course I will be disappointed. Yet in my mind, I am satisfied that I have placed myself in the correct family tree. If Grandma had only known.

Who Was Jane Bee?

Thomas Snow of Harwich married Jane Bee of Eastham at Eastham, Massachusetts on October 12, 1762. I can find no other mention of this woman in the official records for Cape Cod. Who was she, and what became of her?

I have identified two men named Thomas Snow who lived at Harwich during that time:

  1. Thomas Snow, sometimes referred to as Thomas Snow, jr. This man, the son of Nathaniel Snow and Thankful Gage, was born November 19, 1735 and baptized November 23 at the Brewster church. On January 31, 1760, he married Hannah Lincoln at Harwich. The Brewster church has records of five children born to Thomas Snow, jr. and Hannah—Lucy (1760), Edward (1763), Bethiah, (1765), Hannah (1769), and Priscilla (1771). A cemetery marker at the old burying ground in Brewster records the deaths of Capt. Thomas Rogers Snow, son of Nathaniel and Thankful, (d. 1790 in Barbados) and his wife Hannah Snow (d. 1817).
  2. Thomas Snow, RW soldier. This man, son of Thomas Snow and Rachel Nickerson, both of Harwich, was born a few years earlier. Some sources say 1730, others say 1734. He, along with several siblings, was baptized at Harwich on July 17, 1737. He married first Rebecca Snow in 1752 and second Jane Magne/Mague. He had at least three children, including Gideon and Lydia. In 1777, the family moved to Maine where he lived until his death in 1825.

So where does Jane Bee fit into this picture? The Mayflower Families Fifth Generation Descendants, 1700-1880 claims that Jane Bee was the second wife of Thomas Snow, jr., above.

I cannot understand this. If Hannah Lincoln married Thomas in 1760, had several children with him, and outlived him, it seems odd to claim he married another woman, Jane Bee, two years after his first marriage. Who was this Jane, and what became of her?

I looked at many records from Eastham, her purported residence, this week. I found nothing else about her. No birth or baptism records for Jane Bee, no death record or cemetery marker for Jane Snow. No birth registrations or baptisms for any children of Thomas and Jane Snow.

There was a Bee family in Eastham at the time Jane would have been born. John Bee married Marcy Harris, and they had three daughters, Rebecca, Martha, and Marcy. I found no mention of a daughter Jane although this seems a likely family for her. A family tree on Ancestry.com has placed her in this family with no sources or further information.

I am stumped. Who was Jane Bee, and was her husband Thomas the same man described above as Thomas jr.?

My husband/tech advisor has a theory. Thomas Snow, jr. was a bigamist! Until I can come up with a better explanation for this situation, his idea is as good as any.

 

 

A Disciplined Approach

Last month I viewed a webinar on creating a research plan for cluster research. I hope this method will help me find every resource I can to make the case for the parentage of my ancestor Lucy Snow Hall (1760-1795).

Cluster research involves searching for records not just for the ancestor of interest (Lucy Snow) but for records from everyone that person knew. In genealogy circles this is known as the person’s FAN club or network of Family, Associates, and Neighbors.

The webinar instructor suggested beginning with family and creating a spreadsheet page for each family member. There you list all the found records for the family member alongside the pertinent information the records contain. Looking at the data this way ensures you do not overlook anything.

This week I created the first page of my spreadsheet. I began with Lucy herself and her known husband, Gershom Hall. I have their marriage banns and records, children’s birth registrations, 1790 U.S. census record, and Lucy’s cemetery marker. None mention Lucy’s parents.

I also have a baptism record I believe is Lucy’s. Yet I have no real proof that the Lucy Snow, daughter of Thomas Snow and Hannah, who was baptized in Brewster, MA in 1760 is the same Lucy Snow who married Gershom Hall at Harwich in 1781. I can make a case for it, though.

The cemetery marker for Lucy Hall, wife of Gershom, provides an inferred birth year of 1760, the same year as the Brewster baptism. Lucy and Gershom married and lived in Harwich, MA, just north of Brewster, so the location is feasible. I have not found any records for another Lucy Snow Hall living during this time in Brewster or Harwich.

Still, it would be nice to have something more. Hence the FAN club approach. I plan to use a cluster research plan to search for wills and land records with anything that may have connected my Lucy Snow Hall to her parents.

Once I have methodically reviewed the Massachusetts records for clues to Lucy’s origins, I can draw a good conclusion about whether or not my Lucy was the daughter of Hannah and Thomas Snow of Brewster.

I Take the First Step

As many of us receive stimulus checks from the federal government during the coronavirus pandemic, we all must decide what to do with the money we receive.

I am fortunate not to have the stress of needing this cash to pay my mortgage or to purchase groceries. Instead, I can use it to do my part to keep our economy running.

My husband/tech advisor and I agreed I could take a portion of the distribution to use for genealogy expenses. I took that step this week.

My $75 fee went to the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. They will compare the family tree I have compiled with the approved papers in their files to determine what part of my line is already documented.

From there, I will receive instructions on how to proceed with a membership application.

Their website says it will take 4-8 weeks for me to receive a response. Things move more slowly these days with everyone working from home.

In the meantime, I will continue to investigate my suspected Mayflower ancestors to see if I can glean any additional information to prove my lineage. I spent time this week attempting to document the siblings of my difficult ancestor Lucy Snow. They all have names that repeat through the generations—Edward, Benjamin, Bethiah, Hannah, Priscilla. Sorting them from their cousins presents a challenge. I made little progress this week.

As our economy reopens, I hope I will not have to wait the full 8 weeks to hear back from the Mayflower Society. If the stars are aligned, another descendant of Lucy Snow and Gershom Hall has already been approved for membership in the 150,000-member Society.

Names Provide Clues

Lucy Snow (1760-1795) left few clues behind. I suspect, and hope, that she was the daughter of Thomas Snow (1735-1790) and Hannah Lincoln (1738-1817) of Brewster, Massachusetts. They were known Mayflower descendants.

Unfortunately, the records for Thomas and Hannah seem to be commingled with those for another Thomas Snow who lived nearby at the same time. Which Thomas was the father of my Lucy?

Perhaps family names can help me place the Snows of the period into the proper families. People often honor their forebears by naming children after them.

The Brewster church records list six baptisms for the children of Thomas Snow and his wife Hannah:

  1. Lucy, bap. 1760
  2. Edward, bap. 1763
  3. Bethiah, bap. 1765
  4. Hannah, bap. 1769
  5. Priscilla, bap. 1771
  6. Benjamin, bap. 1775

Were this Thomas and Hannah the Mayflower descendants? Do any of these names of Lucy’s siblings repeat those of earlier generations in the well-documented Snow-Lincoln lineage? Are any ancestral names repeated in later generations?

The most obvious name that we see several times was Hannah. Hannah Lincoln’s mother was Hannah Hopkins. The name also appears among the children baptized at Brewster and their descendants. Perhaps we have this direct line: Hannah Hopkins>Hannah Lincoln>Hannah Snow. So far, I have no information about Hannah Snow’s children, but her sister Lucy Snow Hall had a granddaughter named Hannah Dunbar. I do not know whether this girl was named as another Hannah in the Mayflower line or after her paternal grandmother Hannah Hathaway. Perhaps both?

Another sometimes-repeated name was Edward. Thomas Snow, the Mayflower descendant, was the grandson of Edward Snow (1672-175?). Thomas Snow of Brewster named his eldest son Edward. This Edward in turn named a son Edward III.

We find the name Thankful in the tree a couple of times. If Lucy was the daughter of the Mayflower descendant Thomas, her paternal grandmother was Thankful Gage Snow. Lucy named a daughter Thankful.

Thus, we see the names of three ancestors from the documented Mayflower lines–Hannah Hopkins, Edward Snow, and Thankful Gage, all repeated among later generations in the family of the Thomas and Hannah who had their children baptized at the Brewster church.

Three names repeated a few times does not provide strong evidence of family relationships. The repetition does add some weight to other evidence.

When Lucy Snow left behind few clues to her family line, a circumstantial case will have to be made. Family names become part of the conclusion.

Lucy’s Birth Family

My ancestor Lucy Snow (1760-1795) holds the key to verifying my family’s Mayflower lineage. She continues to hold it tight and out of sight.

I hope her parents were Thomas Snow (1735-1790) and Hannah Lincoln (1738-1817) because both these people had documented lines of Mayflower descent.

I began by looking at the family Lucy created with her husband, Gershom Hall (1760-1844).

This week I added the couple’s children and their families to my database. I found no clues for the identity of any grandparents in the children’s names. Lucy and Gershom Hall did not honor their own parents by naming children after them. No Thomas, no Hannah, no Seth, and no Elizabeth.

Yesterday I turned to a search for records of Lucy’s siblings. Perhaps one of them left a clue linking themselves to parents Thomas Snow and Hannah Lincoln or to a sister Lucy Snow Hall. I have a list of possible names and birthdates.

A Thomas Snow and his wife Hannah had several children baptized at the Brewster, Massachusetts church:

  1. 1760: Lucy
  2. 1763: Edward
  3. 1765: Bethiah
  4. 1769: Hannah
  5. 1771: Priscilla
  6. 1775: Benjamin

Is this my Lucy and her family? Brewster lies on Cape Cod just north of Harwich where Lucy and Gershom wed and raised their family. The Lucy baptized in Brewster in 1760 could be the same Lucy born in 1760 who married Gershom Hall. The only other record I have located for a Lucy Snow born the same year in Massachusetts lived much further away, near Boston. The Brewster Lucy is more likely my Lucy.

What other information can I find about the parents and siblings of this Lucy? A cursory look for records reveals that additional information on the other children will be difficult to locate. I found none of these people on Find A Grave or on Wiki Tree. I found no will for Thomas Snow or Hannah Lincoln Snow. The compiled family tree on Family Search has this Thomas Snow combined with another.

It will take some deep digging to build this family tree with good evidence. I hardly know where to begin. Lucy, were these your people? Give me a clue.

Still Looking for Lucy

As I continue my effort to verify the parents of my Lucy Snow, I keep searching as many databases as I can find. So far, none have yielded a list of her parents with their children that I have come to expect from Cape Cod records.

Part of the problem lies with Lucy’s position in the family tree. Her name does not appear in the names of Mayflower descendants because she is too far removed from the Pilgrims. Those people are well-documented to the 5th generation, and Lucy is in the 6th. The Mayflower books do not help me.

On the other hand, several genealogies of Cape Cod families tell the stories of 19th century residents there. Unfortunately, Lucy died in 1795, and the books mention few people who lived before 1800. No help there, either.

I persist with my search, and I looked at these repositories recently:

  1. DAR files. These provided clues to sorting out the various men named Thomas Snow. Lucy’s father may have been a Thomas, but he probably was not the Patriot recognized by the DAR.
  2. Ancestry. I have looked at all the sources they have for Brewster, MA. I think Lucy’s suspected parents Thomas and Hannah (Lincoln) Snow lived there. The town did not incorporate until 1803, long after Thomas died in 1790 and Lucy died in 1795. Their family does not appear in the town records there. I did find some good background information on Brewster in a town history on Ancestry.
  3. Family Search. An annotated cemetery record for the Brewster Cemetery includes some Snow burials. Thomas and Hannah Snow appear on the list as does Thomas’ brother Deacon Reuben Snow and his wife Reliance (Wing) Snow. Locating the name of Reuben gives me a collateral relative to research although he died the same year as Lucy.

Still, the elusive link between Lucy and her parents continues to elude me. After I exhaust all the sources on these three databases, I will need to look at other repositories.