Joseph Meserve/y of St. George, Knox, Maine, c1773 – after 1850

Today is officially Sticky Wicket Day, as I try to cobble together the few facts about Joseph Meserve/y, father of Lavinia who married William Chadwick and his Meserve ancestors.

In 1850, when Joseph Meservey was living with the Chadwick family in St. George, the town was part of Lincoln County.

Today, St. George is in Knox County, which was set off from Lincoln County in 1860.

The second important fact to know is that the town of St. George itself was set off in 1803 from the town of Cushing, which today is just to its north.

Joseph Meservy is the eldest Meservy living in St. George in 1850, There are only a few other families with the name and the heads appear to be of an age to be his sons:

Wm. Meservy, 55, Master Mariner, $00
Hannah (Libbey), 49
Joseph, 19, Sailor
Luther, 16, Sailor
Sophrona, 13
Hariet, 9
Laura, 7

Next door, we have:
Nath’l Meservy, 52, Master Mariner
Jane, 53
Sarah, 11
Clarisa, 8
Melissa, 6

Also in St. George are:
John Meservy, 46, Master Mariner
Hannah E., 31
Allen, 14
Mary J., 10
Caroline F., 8
Hannah A., 4
John N., 4
Ruth Melona (Maloney), 67

Lastly, we have Mary Meservy, apparently a widowed head of household. Online information says she is the widow of Stephen,  born 8 September 1802. That information appears to be correct. More in a bit.

Mary Meservy, 48
Mary A., 23
Eli F., 20 Sailor
Margret E., 18

The last Meservy family in St. George in 1850 is a son of William and Hannah (Libbey), as this younger William’s death certificate gives his parents’ names.

Wm. Meservy, 25, Sailor
Susan, 25
Elietta, 2
Melissa Chaples, 7
Levi Chaples, 2

It appears that perhaps William had a first marriage and his wife died after giving birth to Elietta. He then married Susan, who had been married to a Mr. Chaples and also widowed.

Moving back to 1840, there are six Meservy households in St. George:

Joseph, one male 70-80, one female 60-70
Nathaniel, 1012001-111100101
William, next door to Nathaniel, 0202001-100001
Daniel, 0101001-012001
William, again, but a different man, 0120001-2010001
John, 1000001-10001

This extra William throws a monkey wrench into the mix, as all five of these men were 40-50 years old and Joseph probably didn’t have two sons both named William living to adulthood. However, I have no clue who the second William and Daniel Meservey were and I am going to set them aside for the time being.

The 1830 census is also perplexing because there are only two Meservys in St. George:

Joseph, 000011001 (one male 20-30, one male 30-40, one male 60-70 and one female, 60-70)
William, 011001-00001

In 1820 in St. George, we again have only Joseph and William:

Joseph, 000101-10001 (one male and one female over 45, one male 16-25 and one female under 10 – Lavinia)
William, 1002-002

In 1810, Joseph Meservy is the only Meservy in St. George. There is one male over 45, one female over 45, one female 16-25, 3 males 10-15, and one male under 10. This man appears to be a little too old to be “my” Joseph, who was born c1773, according to his age in 1850. Also, Lavinia was born c1811. Even if she was born in 1810, there is no female under 10 in this home and the wife is already over 45???

In this case, there is some great help on the way. The Vital Records of St. George record set has been digitized by FamilySearch. The file was locked, though, so I had to wait to get to my local family history center to look at it.

There are some positives and negatives with the records. First, while the family of Joseph Meservey is listed, as a family group, which is how the town clerks backtracked and organized the various records, the clerk did NOT include the name of any wives.

The record also doesn’t seem to be complete because Lavinia’s birth isn’t recorded. That might be because, as I looked through the various records, which included baptisms, there was a gap in the records from around 1808/09 and 1815. All of the family groups are written in one hand and obviously not recorded at the time of each birth event.

Top left page

Joseph Meservey’s Family

1793 Jan 28 Sally Meservey
1796 March 29 William Meservey
1797 July 28 John Meservey
1800 February 16 Nathaniel Meservey
1802 September 8 Stephen Meservey

Luther Meservey died Oct 16, 1859
William K. Maxwell died Mar 29, 1889 (I don’t know where he fits in the family, but his death is listed here.)

I also came across several marriage records, which provided wives’ maiden names and helps answer one of my questions from the 1830 census.

Nathaniel Meservy married Jane Gardner, 11 January 1838
John Meservy married Hannah Johnson, 18 December 1834

It appears that Nathaniel Meservy married a bit later in life and he is most likely the male aged 30-40 in Joseph’s house in 1830. I would say the younger male, 20-30, is his son John, although he would have been 33 in 1830.

I spent quite a while reading the marriage records for St. George, but didn’t find one for Joseph’s daughter, Sally, born 1793, or for William, born in 1795. However, from William’s son, William Jr.’s death certificate, we know William married Hannah Libbey. The Libbey family was quite big and lived in several towns in the area. Hannah’s family perhaps lived in one of those towns and the couple married there.

Sally may be lost to time unless a marriage record turns up. The St. George records were compiled in random order with some pages more legible than others. It is possible I missed it, but she also might have died young.

Now, the next big question is – who were the parents of Joseph Meservey?

Given that Sally was born early in 1793, Joseph probably married in 1791 or 1792. That pushes his birth year back a bit earlier that 1773, which was reported in the 1850 census. It’s maybe possible that he married between the ages of 18-21, but it was much less common for New England men in the 18th century to marry under legal age than it was in the South. Generally speaking, I’ve been close to correct when assuming that male ancestors in Massachusetts (which Maine was in the 1700s) married around the age of 25. That means Joseph was probably born between 1767 and 1771, or the ages of 21-25.

Next, we will examine the Joseph Meserveys in the area at the turn of the 19th century. We’ll also look at possible hints as to who the wife of Joseph Meservey was.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.