Will the missing piece of this puzzle be found?
Today, in Part 4, we will take more in-depth looks at Peter’s sons – Joseph (b. 1697), William (b. 1699) and Stephen (b. 1704), along with John’s son, William (b. 1708), as they remain on the list of potential fathers for Rebecca (MNU) Spurr King Davenport.
Much to my chagrin,
most all of this research has been of the negative sort, crossing names off a list.
On the positive side, the Blackmer family definitely had some ties by marriage to Dorchester, so it isn’t inconceivable that Rebecca is a Blackmer.
On the negative side, most of the gaps in births in the Blackmer families are probably due to losing a child, not to a single child being accidentally omitted from the birth records.
Let’s press on. Not all information is online and no single website has all available records for one location, so checking multiple websites and googling for information is a necessity.
When I began seeing mentions, for example, that Peter Blackmer who married Hannah Sears had children born in Hardwick, which is in Worcester County, not Plymouth County, a search was done for town vital records. I discovered that American Ancestors does NOT have all the available Massachusetts town records on its website, which actually surprised me since the series up to 1850 is not copyrighted.
By expanding my horizons, I was able to flesh out more facts on William the Immigrant’s grandchildren and the prospective father list has been whittled way down to four candidates – Joseph (born 1697) who married Marcy Sears, William (born 1699) who married Sarah Holland, Stephen (born 1704) who is almost a complete mystery, and, finally, William (born 1708) who married Sarah Norcott.
My plan to wrap this up included revisiting probate records and checking land deeds, where a few more crumbs were found along the trail.
Joseph Blackmer (born 1697) last appears in the Plymouth County land records on 24 April 1740 when he presented deeds to the clerk to be recorded. No wife released dower rights.
Given that his brother, Peter, was in Worcester County by 1742, it seemed reasonable to look in western Massachusetts. What I found was a gravestone for Joseph Blackmer who died 14 March 1771 in New Marlborough, Berkshire, Massachusetts, followed by an estate inventory in New Marlborough for Mrs. Mercy Blackmer on 18 September 1780.
Estate Inventory of Mercy Blackmer, 18 September 1780
New Marlborough, Berkshire, Massachusetts
Unfortunately, no heirs were named. However, the 1790 census included Hannah, Joseph and Paul Blackmer, all in New Marlborough.
Because Joseph left Plymouth County about 1740, I think it is very unlikely that he is the father of Rebecca, so one more name can be crossed off the list.
As for William (born 1699), no new information has been uncovered that might indicate whether or not he had a child born in that 1733-1736 gap in his children’s births. That means that William, born 1699, is still in the running to be the father of Rebecca.
Stephen (born 1704) remains somewhat of a mystery. No marriage records have been found, nor have his children been proved.
Stephen sold several parcels of land in Plymouth County, but the latest was in 1747 at which time he was residing in Freeport, Bristol, Massachusetts. Bristol County land deeds have a huge gap in years for transactions for Stephen, from 1732 until the 1770s. In 1732, Stephen Blackmer signed his name on a Bristold County deed. By 1775, Stephen Blackmer signed with his mark “B.” We may be looking at two men, probably a father and son.
Abigail who filed a petition with the Bristol County Clerk on 4 May 1779 to allow son Joseph Blackmer to administer the estate of her late husband may well be the wife of Stephen’s possible son, also named Stephen.
A 1783 land deed identifies Deborah Gifford and Jemima Griffith and Joseph Blackmer as children of Stephen, deceased. Jemima married Richard Griffith in 1774; Deborah married Daniel Gifford in 1767, both in Dartmouth. Those seem like very late marriages for children of a man born in 1704, unless he married more than once, which is certainly possible.
However, I think the 1732 and 1779 Stephens are two different men, which still leaves a big question mark as to who his children were. Stephen (born 1704) can’t be eliminated as a possible father for Rebecca.
Next, I’d like to jump to John’s son, William, born 1708, who married Sarah Norcott in 1738. There is a gravestone for William – he died 12 May 1791, Wareham, Plymouth, Massachusetts. Sarah passed away on 1 April 1802, also in Wareham, Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Although William and Sarah had eight children, five died long before they had a first birthday, one, Lydia, died at the age of 21 ,unmarried and Mary died at the age of 31, unmarried, leaving Sarah the only child who married (Samuel Briggs) and left descendants.
While I can find no reference to William having married someone before Sarah Norcott, the fact that he was 30 years old when he married her leaves the door open to that possibility.
After much research, I am left with three possible fathers for Rebecca (MNU) Spurr King Davenport – William (b. 1699), Stephen (b. 1704) and William (b.1708).
Part 5, the conclusion to this case study, will pull together loose ends, reviewing what is known about Rebecca from records created in her lifetime.
I also have one last hope. If you’ve stayed with me this long, you’ve almost made it to the end!