A New Look at the Death Date of Sarah Parker Adams of Calais, ME 1900

It’s always good to revisit our genealogical findings, particularly if we haven’t worked on a particular line in a long time. Case in point is my 3X great grandmother, Sarah Ann Parker, who married Daniel Adams on 15 September 1836 on Deer Island, in the West Isles of New Brunswick, Canada. Sarah had been born on nearby Campobello Island, where her Loyalist grandfather had settled after leaving the colonies at the close of the American Revolution.

Sarah was born about 1817, although I had no exact month and day for her. Daniel and Sarah appeared regularly in the census records, first in 1851 on Deer Island:

Daniel and “Ann” Adams, top of page
Source: Library and Archives Canada

Then, in 1860, 1870 and 1880 in Calais, Washington, Maine:

Daniel Adams & Family, Fourth Entry
Source: Ancestry

I knew that Daniel Adams had died in 1893. Sarah’s date of death came from a page in the 1900 Calais city directory:

Sarah Adams, died 24 January 1900

I then followed up with a request to the Calais City Clerk for a death certificate:

Sarah Adams, died 24 January 1900

Fast forward to modern times and the images of Calais death records are available online at FamilySearch, where I found Sarah’s death certificate:

Image of the original record
Death Certificate for Sarah Adams

Okay, we have a BIG problem here. This is a contemporary record, created at the time of Sarah’s death. Yet, we have a city directory, also from 1900 that includes her death date, which would have been provided by a family member.

The death certificate I obtained in 1980 was obviously not filled out at the time she died, but is supposed to be an exact copy of the original. The 1980 certificate also gives 24 January 1900 as her date of death.

Yet look carefully at the information on the original record:


No. of Record, 16

Place of Death, Calais
Street, Downer, No., Ward, 6
Late Residence, Calais
Length of Residence, 35 years
Date of Death: Year, 1900 Month, Feb’y Day, 7
Age: Years, 83 Months, —-Days, 14
Place of Birth, N.B. Domn. Canada
Date of Birth: Year, 1817, Month, Jan Day, 24
Sex, F Color, W Married, Single, Widowed or Divorced} W
Occupation, Housewife
Name of Father, Benj. Parker
Maiden Name of Mother, Maria Wilson
Birthplace of Father, N.B. Canada
Birthplace of Mother, N.B. Canada
Occupation of Father, Storekeeper
Decease was wife of
Widow of Daniel Adams
Cause of Death, Angina Pectoris
Duration, 1 Day

The original image clearly gives her birth date as 24 January 1817 and her date of death as 7 February 1900.

I have three questions here for which I have no answer. There are no gravestones for Daniel and Sarah Adams, either:

Did the doctor and 1900 city clerk reverse her dates of birth and death?

Where did the 1980 city clerk get the date of death as 24 January when this image says otherwise?

Where did the 24 January 1900 death date in the city directory come from?

What do you think? Did Sarah die on 24 January or 7 February 1900?


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