Tag Archives: Mary A. Coleman

Picking Up the Trail of the Wrongly Indexed David/Daniel Moran-Mary A. Coleman Marriage

If you read Empty Branches regularly, you might remember back in February when I had an impossible time in Salt Lake City locating the actual image of the marriage record of David Moran, who turned out to be Daniel Moran, and Mary A. Coleman on 31 March 1858, which turned out to be 31 March 1856, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Well, a few bread crumbs of a trail have finally been located. Between indexing errors and parameters set by various search engines, tracking this couple has turned out to be an excellent example of why no one database should be used. “Reasonably exhaustive research” must include multiple records and multiple databases.

After it was finally determined that Daniel Moran married Mary A. Coleman on 31 January 1856, that he was aged 28 and she was 21, that he was a resident of New York City and she of Boston and that he was a produce dealer, the trail ran cold.

My heart also ran cold when I saw that he lived in New York City, because finding a Daniel and Mary A. Moran in Boston or New York was not difficult. The problem was that there were too many of them and not a one Daniel and Mary looked to be a good match for mine.

I did locate two death records for Daniel and Mary’s children. I am sure I have the right parents because Daniel was born in Ireland and Mary A. was born in Calais, Maine. The first record was for three year old John E. Moran:

Little John was three years, seven months and nine days old, placing his birth at approximately 19 January 1861. The ditto marks in the column for place of birth seem to indicate that he was born in Boston, but no birth record has yet been found for him.

It appears that he might have been a victim of a diphtheria outbreak because the death of his baby sister, Julia M. Moran, was recorded eleven days later on 8 September 1864.

Infant Julia was only 7 months and 24 days old. Her place of birth was an additional clue pointing again to New York. It seems the Moran family might have moved back and forth at least a couple of times between New York and Boston.

Both records give 120 Cove as the home address. If you have never used a historical map collection, you are overlooking a tremendous resource. I searched the David Rumsey Map Collection and found one for Boston, 1856, right at the time when the Morans married:

Cove Street 1856

Cove Street began at the top of the red line at East Street in a southerly direction right down to the harbor. Most of Cove Street is gone today – the one block that remains has house numbers under 20, which is that first block up by East Street.

The really neat thing about historical maps is that both with Google Earth and right on the David Rumsey site, it is possible to overlay the maps on top of each other.

Perhaps the reason Cove Street was demolished was the construction of the 93 highway interchanges. The street ran right down to the water, which is in the area of the interchange.

In spite of these finds, I am no closer to finding Daniel, Mary A. and any other possible children they might have had in a census record or death records. It seems likely that they might have been moving between the two cities and missed each census taker, so the search continues.


UPDATE: The Alien Marriage Visit and Derivative Source Records

Last Wednesday, February 17, I published It Must Be an Alien Visit! Coleman-Moran Marriage 1858.

I have some updated information, thanks to Jackie, who left a comment saying she found the actual marriage record on Ancestry AND was kind enough to email me the images.

I’ve been doing this a long time and knew enough to keep digging around because an indexed record on FamilySearch had to exist somewhere, even though it was NOT on the film that was cited.

This mystery has presented a great opportunity to mention derivative source records – a derived record is one that is created from the original (not a photo copy), but a transcription, abstraction or indexed record. In other words, there was a middleman (or two or three) involved in presenting the information in a new format.

Let’s look at the steps that I went through. First, I found this indexed marriage record on FamilySearch:

David Moran-Mary A. Coleman
married 31 March 1858, Boston, MA

Finding the actual marriage record was only one item on my quite long list of things to do in Salt Lake in a very limited amount of library time since I was there for RootsTech. I pretty much wasted almost two hours in a futile search. With other prospective items on my list, I didn’t want to spend any more time searching other databases while in the Family History Library so I moved on.

Why should derivative records not be your last stop on the research trail? Let’s take a closer look at the details on this indexed record. Names of the bride and groom are given along with their ages, places of birth and fathers’ names. The film number is cited on the right; the actual film included images of marriage records that were delayed in filing for whatever reason.

Now, take let’s examine the actual marriage record for David and Mary:

Highlighted Dates

First, look at the highlight in the top left corner. These marriages took place in 1856, NOT 1858! Now look at the highlight on the right middle side of the image. The marriage was indeed a delayed filing and was recorded on 21 January 1858.

Ancestry’s source citation doesn’t clear up the mystery of where this record was found, but since I read the marriage records on the Family History Library film, I am wondering if this marriage was written in a different volume and would actually appear on some other film.

There is one more real surprise about this marriage. Here is the crop of the actual entry:

Marriage Entry

Here is a further crop of just the bride and groom:

Who is the groom?

My first take on this record is that the groom is Daniel Moran, but I can see why someone might think it was David. Further searching is necessary. I’d love to find a word this clerk wrote that ended with D, besides this name. Luckily, the groom was born in Ireland:

Look at final D in Ireland

The clerk not only wrote a d with a closed loop, it looks like he didn’t continue the cursive line from the n to connect the dThis reinforces my interpretation that the groom was DANIEL, not DAVID, Moran. Ancestry, in fact, indexed this record as the marriage of Mary A. Coleman and DANIEL Moran.

What are the results then of following up on this derivative indexed record on FamilySearch? (I’m not picking on FamilySearch – indexers for any organization are human and mistakes are made.)

Not only is the year of marriage off by two years, the groom’s name is also incorrectly indexed! Needless to say, I’ve already updated my request to the Massachusetts State Archives.

There are two more important details found in the actual marriage record that were not included in the index – the place of residence of the couple and their occupations.

Daniel was a resident of New York City. An aside – my heart sank when I saw that because finding a Daniel and Mary Moran in Boston was hard enough and it wouldn’t be any easier in New York. Why was Daniel in New York and how did he and Mary meet? Daniel was a produce dealer, so perhaps he traveled to build up a client and source base. However, Mary had no occupation listed, so I have no idea how they came to meet and marry.

This is hard to believe, but I found a second indexed record on FamilySearch, citing a different film, but naming Daniel Moran as the groom:

Finding this couple isn’t/wouldn’t be easy. This time the marriage date is wrong – correct year of 1856, but it says 21 January. The record was FILED on 21 January, but in 1858.

My original quest for the record began because I wanted to see if the fathers’ names had been incorrectly indexed. Apparently not, but I still think a mistake was made and that the clerk mixed up their names because of the limited number of Colemans (and no Daniel) who have lived in Calais, Maine.

The lesson to be learned here? NEVER settle for a record from an index when the original record can be obtained. The only exception to this would be – and I have come across this situation in the burned counties of the South – when the actual record has burned and only the index has survived. In that case, there is no other option.